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October 16, 2008

Comments

At work today, people were using a phrase: Obama Cool. The ability to stay unflappable and focused. They are snarking about McCain's warnings about socialism and raised taxes; we've seen too much of how so-called trickle-down DOESN'T work, how it never did.

Stay cool, people, Obama Cool.

I have no idea if there's old news footage of Warren Buffett talking about how the wealthy have been winning the class war, but it could be a nice focus for an Obama ad.

I only saw a little bit of the debate during commercial breaks in the Phillies-Dodgers game, but I did happen to catch the "spreading the wealth" part. My friend felt that was a bad thing to say and that McSame would jump all over it with great result. I disagreed.

My thinking was the same as yours, Eric. Given what's happening now, as the result of what's been happening for almost 30 years, why would spreading the wealth be a bad message?

As an aside, I'd like to know what percentage of Americans know that there used to be a top marginal tax rate of 90%. I'm not advocating such a thing now, but I think it puts supply-side arguments in a bit of perspective. People can't continue accepting the assumption of an indetermine, downward-ratched tax-rate policy as a prerequisite for economic health. It has to end somewhere - you know, like more than a decade ago.

Agreed to both.

All three in fact.

McCain need to play to America's sympathy for all those people whose heads are going to explode when a black guy gets elected president.

@Eric (and indirectly Joe Klein)

Word.

This year isn't just an election - it's a paradigm shift.

That Ben Smith focus group article was a eye opener and should be a huge alarm to the so-called "Conservative Movement". The Seventh Seal has been opened alright, you betcha!

Middle America hears you take your best shot at Obama and basically yawns and says "terrorist-shmerrorist. We need some help here and we're going to vote for the guy who at least talks about doing that, even if we don't expect him to actually get any of it done".

The Southern Stategy met the Market Meltdown and it done got run over.

Joe makes under a quarter million, which makes him an even odder choice for McCain.

Katie Couric: Well, [Obama] supposedly will raise taxes only on people who make over $250,000 a year. Would you be in that category?

Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher: Not right now at presently, but, you know, question, so he's going to do that now for people who make $250,000 a year. When's he going to decide that $100,000 is too much, you know? I mean, you're on a slippery slope here. You vote on somebody who decides that $250,000 and you're rich? And $100,000 and you're rich? I mean, where does it end? You know, that's - people got to ask that question.

I had the same thought. McCain at times seems to be playing not just from the play book of 2004 but from the play book of 1984.

As far as the dumb pundits go, I think you are dead on. A great case of it could be seen on CNN. All twelve of their horde immediately after the debate tended towards talking up how McCain had done better than in the other debates, and precisely for the reasons you mention that they'd think so. Then the actual CNN flash poll came back and the pro-McCain contingent became a lot less aggressive. Oops.

You know, I found the whole Joe the Plumber thing just insulting. Either he makes more than $250k, in which case McCain could have just as well used a trial lawyer as poster boy, or he doesn't, in which case it's not clear what the relevance is. I'd think it would be beneath McCain himself to insult people's intelligence at quite that level.

You know, I found the whole Joe the Plumber thing just insulting. Either he makes more than $250k, in which case McCain could have just as well used a trial lawyer as poster boy, or he doesn't, in which case it's not clear what the relevance is.

Yup.

PaulW:

And that's why I don't agree with people who say "this election is about issues, not personalities or character". People are voting for Obama Cool, because it's extremely reassurring. But it's also about the issues -- Obama Cool would be off-putting if he didn't seem to care and understand how worried people are. As it is, Obama comes across as the guy who keeps his head when all about him are losing theirs. The only guy on the Republican side who might have been able to stand up against Obama Cool is Huckabee, because he comes across as *warm*. I think he would have still lost, but it would have been a *lot* closer IMHO -- and he wouldn't have had to pick Palin for his running mate, either.

Pundits tend to be a lagging indicator. This is particularly true at the end of a political pendulum swing.

This brings up another point - effectively we have 4 branches of government: Congress, the Executive Branch, the Courts, and the Press. The last two are lagging indicators of political shifts, which means that even if Obama wins the Dems are only halfway there in taking back power from the GOP. The Courts and the Press are still right-leaning.

One of the beneficial side effects of a true landslide in this election is that maybe, just maybe, we can start to move to Overton Window a bit with regard to our press corps and the mindless framing that they use. I don't mean uncritical adulation of Obama or the Dems - just less of this zombie Reagan / naked David Broder BS.

Ara: "I'd think it would be beneath McCain himself to insult people's intelligence at quite that level."

McCain seems to have a classic flaw common to many executives. He believes that he's smarter than most everybody else, but that anybody smarter than he is, is hobbled by too much intelligence.

"zombie Reagan / naked David Broder "

Oh. My. God.

Worst. Slashfic. Ever.

This also seems to tell the story.

Mark Steyn's verdict: McCain wasn't mean enough.

Because that would have done the trick.

You know, you can really use that as Steyn short hand:

Mark Steyn's verdict: [INSERT NOUNT] wasn't mean enough.

To TLT's point about the media: I think it's telling that Joe Klein, who took a lot of repeated, well-deserved slams from media-analytical bloggers like Digby and Atrios and others, has learned something. How else could he have moved ahead of the CW curve enough to say something like this, which is absolutely true but until now apparently unsayable?

We have had 30 years of class warfare, in which the wealthy strip-mined the middle class. The wealth has been "spread" upward.

We're going to need to keep on saying the truths that the party leaders and media commentators find uncomfortable, more than ever with two corporate centrists leading the executive branch. But it's encouraging to see that progress is possible.

Joe Klein has come around in a big way. He's been quite enjoyable to read lately. Seriously.

You know, I found the whole Joe the Plumber thing just insulting. Either he makes more than $250k, in which case McCain could have just as well used a trial lawyer as poster boy, or he doesn't, in which case it's not clear what the relevance is.

Deliberate confusion: most people don't understand what earnings (i.e. profit) are versus gross revenue versus net worth. If good ol' Joe isn't completely confused himself, he's thinking of buying a business whose gross profit is $250K a year. Assuming a generous profit margin of 10%, that means that yearly gross revenue (i.e. sales) is perhaps $2.5 million per year. Not exactly one guy and a truck (although some people may disagree based on their plumbers' bills).

Now, he's buying this company, so we're now looking at what he'd probably pay. Let's call a price/earnings ratio of 7 to be really conservative (this is the same for a nice boring utility company). He'll be ponying up $1.75 million or so for this company.

So, to a lot of people it looks like poor ol' Joe is just trying to buy a truck and some tools to get a plumbing trade going, and mean ol' Barack is going to tax his ass like crazy for that. If you understand what he's actually doing, Mr. Joe is paying a couple of million dollars to buy a company that should spin off a quarter million in profit every year, and he'll be taxed an extra 3 cents on every dollar after the first 250,000.

Of course, ol' Joe can be a little confused, and the company's sales are $250K a year, which means that he's getting a tax cut like most of us and probably eating rice and beans for dinner.

If there is justice in the MSM world (caveat: I doubt it), much that was written in the early days of the McCain general election campaign will come to haunt the reputation of the writer (Tapper, I'm a-lookin' at you).

I don't know whether it is a result of real analytical skills or just a keen sense of self-preservation (in the sense of his reputation, that is), but Joe Klein got off the Straight Talk express earlier than most.

In the very early days of the general election campaign I made a comment (it might have been at Balloon-Juice rather than here) that Joe Klein seemed to have sensed earlier than the rest of his MSM pundit peers that if McCain's campaign went down like the Titanic, there weren't going to be enough lifeboats for all the passengers (i.e. pundits) and somebody was going to have to go down with the ship, and he wasn't going to be one of them.

LeftTurn, how many pundits went down when the U.S.S. Iraq War sank? Pundits have permanent seats on the lifeboats, as long as they're spouting what the people with the money want to hear them saying.

Deliberate confusion: most people don't understand what earnings (i.e. profit) are versus gross revenue versus net worth. If good ol' Joe isn't completely confused himself, he's thinking of buying a business whose gross profit is $250K a year. Assuming a generous profit margin of 10%, that means that yearly gross revenue (i.e. sales) is perhaps $2.5 million per year. Not exactly one guy and a truck (although some people may disagree based on their plumbers' bills).

Now, he's buying this company, so we're now looking at what he'd probably pay. Let's call a price/earnings ratio of 7 to be really conservative (this is the same for a nice boring utility company). He'll be ponying up $1.75 million or so for this company.

Let us note in passing that under these perfectly reasonable assumptions, Joe the Plumber is fixing to pay 70 years' worth of income for this business. That's an awfully high price to pay for what a friend of mine once called "owning your own job". Joe the Plumber may not be very bright.

--TP

Word to all of that. Y'all are always so spot on! I would only add that McCain's incredulity about "spreading the wealth around" sounded even stupider to the young people I watched the debate with - I actually had to try to explain to them that McCain was trying to get at wealth redistributionist/"socialist" scaremongering there, not giving Obama a compliment. Every person in my living room under the age of 30 was just flabbergasted that "spreading the wealth" could possibly be seen as a negative thing, especially in this economic environment.

Hooray for our progressive youth!

I can't believe how wrong I have been about this election!


LeftTurn, how many pundits went down when the U.S.S. Iraq War sank? Pundits have permanent seats on the lifeboats, as long as they're spouting what the people with the money want to hear them saying.

Yes but in the pundit economy wealth is measured by insider access to govt. gossip (how else do you do that job without spending tedious hours in reading, researching, and [god forbid] thinking).

That means that apres le deluge, the smarter pundits like Klein who either built bridges with the future Obama administration or at least didn't burn them to the ground (i.e. show blatant bias during the campaign carrying buckets of BS for McCain) will be on the top of the pecking order, and the others not so much.

Which network do you think will get the good interviews post-January, Fox or MSNBC?

Who will get the juicy quotes on background, Joe Klein or George Stephanopoulos?

The 2008 presidential campaign summed up in a single picture.

"Joe Klein has come around in a big way. He's been quite enjoyable to read lately. Seriously."

It's hard for me to escape the feeling that he's just deftly moving to pander to the new people coming to power.

We have had 30 years of class warfare, in which the wealthy strip-mined the middle class. The wealth has been "spread" upward.

If this be pandering, let us make the most of it.

I think the talk of the so-called "Overton window" gives the political process far too much credit. Politics and politicians respond to events far more than they create them. People don't change their ideas based on some political or media filter, but on events; they see what works and what doesn't. And the two basic theories of Bush's "compassionate conservatism" failed. It turned out that rewarding high rollers and great wealth as lavishly as possible produced more irresponsible gamblers than real wealth builder (look who Warren Buffet and the nerds in Silicon Valley support). It also turns out that a foreign policy based on a different kind of elitism (America should treat the world the way the Revolutionary Vanguard treated Russia) didn't exactly come through either.

When failure gets smelly enough, the people can't help but notice. And then public perceptions shift, driven not by brilliant political strategy but by simple reality.

I'm not an expert in the pricing of privately owned small businesses, but I think the price of that operation will be a lot less than a million.

This is not a passive ownership of some company making electricity on the other side of the country; it will be a very hands-on operation. (Granted, if it's clearing a quarter-mill in profit, the boss might be cleaning fewer drains and spending more time administrating than in mom-and-pop shops; if anybody knows more about this line of biz, please enlighten us.) My guess is that it sells for only a few times earnings, or less. Again, it's not a meal ticket, but a chance to own your very time-demanding job.

None of which changes the fact that he makes lots more than most people, on an almost doctor-worthy scale. (Insert comments, dating way back, about plumbers making as much as doctors.) There have been many recent comments about whether workers are inclined to think "pretty soon I'll be one of those guys) at this point; they apply here.

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