« Warning: Schadenfreude Ahead! | Main | McCain On Nuclear Proliferation »

May 28, 2008

Comments

Can McCain leverage his high-profile breaks with the GOP to craft a larger “maverick reformer” narrative.

Possibly: especially as most of the "mainstream" press is basically in the tank for him already. Should they, however, suddenly rediscover - as a group - their journalistic principles, McCain and his campaign will be forced to run on those "fundamentals" you mention - and that, IMHO, will spell their doom.

Yes, it’s important that Obama isn’t defined as some sort of radical Islamic black nationalist boogeyman.

Heh - let 'em try! One of the few things that has made me feel positive about the upcoming campaign (and politics in general) this year (for the first time in eons) is even the remote possibility that the cheapjack politics of smear-and-fear which the Republicans have specialized in for so long now, will finally prove ineffective - and that the 2008 Presidential campaign will be waged mainly on issues and policies, rather than puerile name-calling and sloganeering.

I don't think McCain has really 'bucked his party' on immigration, seeing as he and George W. Bush were in agreement. Antimmigration doesn't have a political party and I don't see much chance for it to get one.

I agree totally, Publius. It's a misconception that a newcomer faces a greater burden to define themselves than a well-established pol. Obama is much better off being a blank slate that disparate constituencies can project their hopes onto. Right-wing efforts to portray him as scary will overreach and backfire because the reality is that he's a pretty straight-laced, conservative person. Moreover, he is the embodiment of what his party wants itself to be.

The smart strategy, which thankfully Obama has the money to do, is to keep McCain on the back foot by constantly performing acrobatics between the moderates and the republican base, and force him to squander his limited financial and psychological resources in defending states that Republicans ought to take for granted in other years.

Personally I think Obama's a shoo-in in November.

"Personally I think Obama's a shoo-in in November."

See "chickens, advisability of counting" and also "gullibility," and also the still widespread racism in the country.

I think we'll be lucky to not see racist swiftboating succeed, myself. I think we'll all need to work damned hard, if it's to be otherwise. And I'd urge people to start getting involved in the Obama campaign, and preparing themselves to do that hard work, rather than assuring themselves it's a shoo-in.

We equally need to work on Congressional races, and state races, and local politics, and building a movement overall; this isn't about Obama-the-personality; it's about the long term.

Gary,

Given the current metrics I think calling someone gullible because they are confident in Obama's chances is a bit over the top.

"From a 'fundamentals' perspective, Obama should win hands down. The economy is bad, the war is bad, and the Republican brand has never been worse."
---publius


I agree with publius, with some reservations.

First the complete agreement -- with no reservations whatsoever: It's the economy, stupid.

Jobs, jobs, jobs.

Gas, gas, gas.

Kitchen-table issues.

Credit-card debt.

The mortgage crisis.

The issues that literally keep me up at night and sometimes drive me to drink, sometimes.

These are the issues that Obama must bring home over and over and over and over and over again.

McCain is weak on the economy, very weak. If I were Obama I would address these issues every day -- and hope to draw in McCain to debate them. McCain will come across as unkowledgable, as a friend to the rich, as a product of the rich. Obama has to fight for the working class and fight hard on the Economy.


"The war is bad."

In the eyes of most Democratics, including this one, that is so. However -- and I haven't seen any recent polls to state otherwise -- most Republicans MAY feel just the opposite.

(After all, most Republicans have continued to back Bush throughout the Iraq war. And McCain, having practically lived in Iraq, will attempt to tell a persuasive story.)

Also, let's remember that the war was going badly -- probably more so -- in 2003. Yet King George won a second term. (For whatever reason, war does not seem to be a winning issue with Dems.)

Obama will no doubt keep reminding the voting public that he did not support going to war, at a time when he was not in the U.S. Senate -- that's been a big plus for him in his battle with Sen. Clinton. However, if he keeps playing this card, there is a chance -- a chance -- the public will tune it out.

The Economy cannot be tuned out.

It hits us every time we fill up at the pump.

Every time we get groceries.

Every time we pay the mortgage.

Every time we take a look at our paychecks and see they aren't nearly enough to take care of everything that needs to be paid.

Every time we realize there may be no summer vacation this year.

It's the economy, stupid.

People who want to see the sort of thing we'll be dealing with all the way to November may want to look at the stuff Balloon Juice commenter Billy K quotes in this thread. It's amazingly pernicious twaddle, and his friend is really truly not alone in falling for it. (The thread is also interesting for descending into exactly the sort of sexist filth that Clinton supporters rightly complain about...and then climbing back out, thanks to reinforcing criticism from other commenters. Good stuff in the recovery phase.)

"Given the current metrics I think calling someone gullible because they are confident in Obama's chances is a bit over the top."

Fortunately, I said no such thing.

Lots of American people are gullible, and uninformed, as we've just been discussing in the most recent open thread, and are therefore susceptible to swift boat campaigns.

If I had called someone specific "gullible," I'd, you know, do it in an actual sentence. And I'd use the word "gullible," not "gullibility." These words do not mean the same thing.

I also didn't call anyone a chicken. Or a racist. I wrote what I wrote, and not anyone's imaginary version using different words, making an entirely different sentence with an entirely different meaning.

"You're being gullible" is a claim that someone is being gullible. "See 'gullibility'" -- and I agree that my wording lacked the clarity it should have had -- isn't some other set of words using "gullible" or "gullibility," and has an entirely different meaning than an entirely different set of words sharing only the word "gullibility."

It seems to me misleading to base judgment of each side's strength with the voters on a candidate-to-candidate basis, when ultimately what voters will choose is a *ticket*.

Presumably if McCain currently enjoys at least the perception of distance from his party's failures, he has an excellent opportunity to solidify that distance with a well-chosen running mate. And until we know who that will be (along with the final Dem ticket), no poll can really tell us much of anything about November's outcome.

It is definitely too early to do any kind of victory dance.

"See 'gullibility'" -- and I agree that my wording lacked the clarity it should have had

Yeah, well, that often happens with you, Slarti.

Oh, wait, that was Gary who wrote a cryptic and context-less response to someone and then got pissy over being misinterpreted?

Ah. Moving on, then.

I'm crushing your head, Phil.

Err.. OK Gary.

It's your story. You can redefine as many words as you like to get it square.


The Economy cannot be tuned out.

It hits us every time we fill up at the pump.

Every time we get groceries.

Every time we pay the mortgage.

Every time we take a look at our paychecks and see they aren't nearly enough to take care of everything that needs to be paid.

Every time we realize there may be no summer vacation this year.

It's the economy, stupid.

Nail, meet hammer.

bedtimeforbonzo has it exactly right. Obama may be on the better of side of other issues, but the economy is the one issue that is meaningful to huge numbers of voters, which will not go away, and cannot be made to go away, and is likely to worsen between now and November.

The only downside I can see to emphasizing this issue is that the POTUS has little actual control over what the economy does in the short run, so a candidate can promise little in the way of immediate improvement without resorting to demogoguery. The economy as a campaign issue will tend to focus on assigning blame for what has already happened rather than debating the merits of realistic solutions for the future, unless we suddenly starting having a political conversation with longer time horizons than has been the case in the past (1992 excepted, when the national debt was a major issue).

Davebo -- although I don't think Gary necessarily clarified the point he was trying to make, it seems to me that "gullibility" is in fact intended to describe a characteristic of the voting public, who have demonstrably fallen for swiftboating in the past (new flavor this round: racism!), and not byrningman's "shoo in" comment.

that is, I don't think Gary was applying the concept of "gullibility" to byrningman, but to the voters.

"Oh, wait, that was Gary who wrote a cryptic and context-less response"

No. HTH.

Sheesh.

Gary -- I've wondered for a while, but felt dorky asking ... what does HTH stand for?

"Hope That Helps"

"Gary -- I've wondered for a while, but felt dorky asking ... what does HTH stand for?"

The Jargon File is the classic reference for such things. Words.

HTH.

"Hope That Helps."

Close.

Never be afraid to ask, farmgirl.

Next class: Kibo numbers, and the origins of "Real Soon Now." There may be a pop quiz, but there will be no math on the test.

"it seems to me that 'gullibility' is in fact intended to describe a characteristic of the voting public, who have demonstrably fallen for swiftboating in the past"

Direct. Succinct. Polite.

An example for us all.

a vote for McCain is a vote for a continuation of Bush’s failed policies
http://mccainandbush.com

I agree that elections usually turn on fundamentals, but I question if that will be the case this year, particularly given the unique circumstance of a black candidate. I am genuinely worried about states like Ohio and Pennsylvania (as Publius has previously pointed out, states like Kentucky would never vote for any Democrat anyway). Also, the media has shown no sign of losing its huge man-crush on McCain, despite multiple examples of him behaving just like any other politician. Lastly, the Electoral College math continues to favor the GOP. On the other hand, I was baffled by McCain's support for Bush' position against the Webb improved GI bill. That was a perfect opportunity for McCain to distance himself from Bush and to side with both a bipartisan Congressional majority and most of the public. That makes me wonder what kind of advice McCain is getting, or if he's just too stubborn to listen to advice. I certainly hope Obama takes full advantage of that position. Bottom line, I think Obama will win narrowly, if he wins at all, while the Congressional election results will greatly favor the Dems and will be much more a reflection of the anti-GOP fundamentals.

LeftTurn (2:40 pm) is right:

There is little POTUS can do to, presto-chango, fix the economy -- not that the average American may understand that.

It's simple: The Economy is going good, the President's approval ratings are up. The Economy is bad, his ratings are down (see Bush, George W. -- of course, his overall incompetence is a big factor w/ his terrible approval ratings).

The biggest thing, I suppose, the President can do to show he is in charge when it comes to something like the Economy is use the bully pulpit -- a pulpit that Bush has used over and over again on Republican-based issues.

The President can propose economic legislation. And, what will definitely be an issue this fall: To Extend the Bush Tax Cuts or Not.

Overall, however, if we're in recession, we're in recession, and the business cycle must play itself out.

I remember the last recession we endured -- the First Bush Recession.

Even though we were coming out of it, the fact that Bill Clinton kept reminding his people, "It's the Economy Stupid" -- and they conveyed that message effectively -- is the key reason Bush lost and Clinton prevailed, I believe.

So Obama must hammer home an economic message -- one that will give folks Hope.

Obama must tell folks he will Change the way business has been done in the Bush-Cheyney administration, that big oil will no longer be given a license to steal from the little guy.

Make that the Bush-McCain administration. Keep linking them, Barack.

If Obama can convey an economic message to the guy or gal who feels real pain at the pump every week in cogent, urgent, even defiant terms, he will reach most Democrats and Independents -- even those who reside in Pennsylvania and Ohio.


BTFB: Does this post indicate that you've accepted Obama as the Real True Democratic Nominee? In which case I must ask "What about Poland Puerto Rico??!!??????" Or, emmm, welcome you into the Collective.

BTW, in one of my responses to you, I addressed it too "bozo". I misread your nick, and apologize for the mistake.

It's simple: The Economy is going good, the President's approval ratings are up. The Economy is bad, his ratings are down

it's even simpler than that: bush v gas

that is, I don't think Gary was applying the concept of "gullibility" to byrningman, but to the voters.

I understood it as Gary meant it, so no probs.

Obama's only real weakness is his race, but I don't think it's too grave. Most of the people who wouldn't vote for him because of race wouldn't vote for him for a host of other reasons anyway, they're simply not in play.

I do think that in the end he'll pick up a lot of those people who would be inclined not to vote for him on account of race, but who don't think of themselves as racist. Partly because his party seems to represent their best interests right now, but also partly because the swift-boating will overreach itself, and force these people to consciously decide whether his race is an issue for them - and most will decide it's not.

Basically he'll get a lot of votes from people who'd hate their daughter to bring him home for dinner but don't think of themselves are bigoted.

Similarly, if she'd gotten that far, I always thought Hillary would do better than people think in the general because the misogynistic attacks from the right would go way out of control, and generate a great deal of sympathy for her. She was clearly hoping the same thing, as she tried to gin up that dynamic in the latter stages of her losing nomination battle, but the democratic primary is the wrong context for it.

While I may be counting my chickens (although as a non-American, they're not really my chickens) I do think that all the indications point to a huge turnout in November, the biggest ever, and a big turnout almost certainly means an Obama win. It does seem to me that he'll win the popular vote by a margin not seen in a generation, although the electoral college count will naturally be narrower.

I agree with Mr. Nurdoch, lose FL, win PA and OH, and this thing will be over by the time the midwest results roll in. We'll all go to bed early that night, unless we're out celebrating.

[byrningman touches wood]

Jeff (8:43 pm/5-28-08) --

No need to welcome me into the Collective -- I am a Democrat, twas ever thus, and I'd still rather see Sen. Clinton as my party's nominee.

Especially when I see polls showing her clobbering McCain in Pennsylvania and in Ohio -- clobbering him! -- and I suspect when she sees these same polls she finds it impossible to get out of this race.

That's her decision, and hers alone -- although I think we are long past time (said this in an earlier post, which went little-noticed, my comment and the ObWi post itself; I forget now which ObWi post it was) that Sen. Biden (undeclared) or Sen. Bayh (Clinton supporter) or Sen. Shumer (Clinton supporter) -- perhaps all three -- meet w/ Sen. Clinton and discuss the merits of her staying in vs. her getting out.

I never saw the point when folks mentioned party-poobahs Dean and Pelosi (widely viewed as pro-Obama) having such a meeting with Bill and Hill.

Do I think such a meeting w/ Biden, Bayh and Shumer would be worth it? Why not? They respect her, and I presume, she respects them.

Neverthess, since we are this far into the game, I do not see the harm in finishing out the process and having the final three primaries vote -- June 3 is less than a week away.

It will be interesting if she wins by quite a few hundred thousand in pro-Clinton Puerto Rico, where it has been said up to 2 million might vote in that primary, and if she moves ahead of Obama in the popular vote (just as Gore bested Bush, as Sunday's HBO film "Recount" painfully recalled) -- especially if she moves ahead of him w/o the Michigan or Florida popular vote.

Heaven forbid if she does indeed move ahead in the popular vote -- she may very well take her cause to the Convention. (Again, I feel it is Biden-Bayh-Shumer time.)

Being a realist, I view Obama as the likely Democratic nominee -- not yet presumptive -- and, unless Hillary pulls off a miracle (very, very, very unlikely) I will support him.

Hence, I think it's time he start honing a clear message to beat Sen. McCain.

To that end, I agree w/ Cleek (8:48 pm from 5/28/08):

The message is simple:

Keep linking McCain to Bush. Keep linking them to Big Oil. Keep linking them to the pain we feel at the pump. Keep reminding folks that Democrats have -- and will -- do a better job.

(We are the party of the working man and the educated man, the party that stands up for the poor, the party of the here and now, but more importantly, the party that holds the promise for a better America for our children -- not the party of the rich, and definitely not the party of Halliburton and Big Oil.)

A sidenote: Over at Real Clear Politics, Dick Polman has authored a cautionary essay, "Obama and the Risk of Being Gored." A good read.

"Sen. Shumer"

Just trivia, but I have a thing about people's names being given correctly (respect, and also so people can google): it's Charles Schumer.

Hope you don't mind my mentioning this, and apologies if you do; no disrespect intended.

Obama and the risk of being Gored.

How to link.

Incidentally, I was just supplying the link to what btfb says was "A good read."

Personally, now that I've looked at the piece, I think it's idiotic, and largely factually wrong. But decide for yourself.

Basically, there's simple human fallibility of memory, and there's willful distortion, and just about all of what was thrown at Gore was accusations about what were either perfectly fair and accurate claims (Love Canal, Love Story, taking the lead in creating the Internet, etc.), or utterly trivial bits of erroneous memory (which day he traveled with the head of FEMA, etc.), and so are most of the other things Polman is on about.

But it helps to give links, so everyone can read for themselves.

Gary,

Should have went w/ my gut: thought it was spelled Schumer. But I was in a rush -- just got back from JFK, where my wife's mother arrived from Russia -- and did not check.

Polman is a well-respected, longtime writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer who has no particular ax to grind. I've seen him be equally tough on both Clinton and Obama, and McCain (the Inquirer definitely leans left).

I met him several years back when I was covering the Philadelphia Phillies for a South Jersey newspaper and the Inky assigned him -- they wanted a fresh perspective -- to cover what was then the hot sports beat (now it's the Eagles). Even in his coverage of the Phillies, Polman was a straight down-the-middle guy.

But like you say, people can decide for themselves.


The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad