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June 09, 2008

Comments

Second, it’s going to reinforce an image of him as the Cranky Old Man screaming “get off my grass” (phrase borrowed from John Cole).

I've started referring to McCain as "Gramps". If he can call Obama young, then we get to call him old.

"Bush II", especially with his voting record over the last year and a hlaf works fairly well, I think. Also, "support" vs action: Just the other day, Gramps made a speech on how much he "supported" the Everglades. That same day, he voted against a bill to pay for said support.

Obama has it exactly right. The problem is that McCain benefits both from his mverick image and his embrace of the Bush base.

The difference is that his maverick image is mostly fake and the embrace of the right is real. Obama is better off describing McCain as he is.

McCain's best chance of making the maverick image stick is for everybody to talk about it. And if Obama accepts it as real, so will everybody else. Take away the fact that everybody refers to McCain as the "maverick", and you're left with his voting record, which isn't very mavericky at all. Just icky.

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one thinking that Obama should absolutely hammer McCain on Social Security, espcially in parts of the country with a lot of older white people. (Not just Florida, but PA and WV as well.) Like you say, McCain's stand(s) on Social Security seem like the perfect antidote to Obama's weakness with the over-50 demographic.

I also think there's a way of re-branding McCain's 'Maverick' branding that won't conflict with the 'Bush III' approach: by demonstrating that McCain's such a maverick that he's not afraid to disagree with himself, over and over again.

Imagine a commercial, with the theme music from the 1960s TV western, "Maverick," running through the background, as clips with McCain opposing and contradicting himself on a multitude of issues play.

It should be done in a lighthearted, humorous way, so that the watchers feel they're in on the joke, rather than in the typical heavy-handed political commercial style.

This kind of stuff, which happens on nearly a weekly basis with McCain, will do him no favors either, and the Democrats should hammer him relentlessly on it. Frankly, insinuations of Alzheimer's would not be out of line here.

Phil: Yes, yes, they would be out of line.

If McCain has any genuine medical impairment, that's likely to become achingly clear in the next few months. (Personally, I think it's possible.) If he does, the last thing any Democrat should be wanting to say is "Oh, well, I was just using that as a smear. Gee. Sorry it's true."

Furthermore, that kind of thing can backfire. Have you ever had a drawn-out diagnosis search for anything, or watched an elderly friend or loved one go through it? It sucks. It's almost better to have a confirmed, solid diagnosis of something with the nightmarish potential of Alzheimer's than to spend years being told "It's Parkinson's, no, wait, it's adult-onset encephalitus, no, wait, maybe it's...", with fresh sets of prospects and fears. People who've been through that - or are in the midst of it - are quite likely to get...well, just as angry as I am now at the thought of making innuendo out of another man's uncertain situation for partisan gain.

Some things should simply be out of bounds, if we are interested in championing the interests of a population that includes people with a sense of propriety and a mutual regard for one another's well-being. It's indecent.

My own preference is for letting the facts speak for themselves. Show McCain flying off the handle, refusing to discuss anything, denying his own responsibility for awful things and so on, and let others draw their own conclusions. He is an ill-tempered, self-justifying bully, and that alone is good reason not to trust him with power, and doesn't require us to make a game out of the miseries that can accompany the end of life.

John Cole points to an example of McCain denying on Friday that he said what he's on camera saying that Tuesday. "McCain won't stand by his own words. What makes you think he'll stand by you?" Not a hint of medical exploitation in that, and just as to the point.

I agree with Bruce that Alzheimers is out of bounds. However, PTSD is actually far more likely.

I am not sure that Obama himself should bring that up, but it can be introduced several ways, particularly in light of current problems being experienced by veterans. Here is a man who suffered torture while being imprisoned for 5 years, acknowledges the torture broke him and admitted to committing war crimes.

He is a prime candidate for major PTSD and, in fact, displays many of the symptoms of it.

Bruce, your link in your 7:08 is the same thing I linked to in my comment. If you're going to take the time to dress me down, at least pretend that you clicked through my links. Thanks muchly.

put me in the "no remote psychological diagnoses" category.

ktxhbye

Phil, I will be happy to click through your links if you can come over and fix a recurring DNS problems. I have stretches of a minute to an hour or so where I can refresh existing sites fine but nothing new gets found. I'm in Seattle, and I can offer lunch.

Frankly, talking about McCains age is hypocrisy and is a POOR choice of a talking point.
Why?
Because Sen Lautenburg of NJ has just won the Dem Primary. He will be 92 when (if) his next term ends. Sen Byrd is 91 NOW! And have you seen him on the Senate floor? It's getting to where even his Dem colleagues wince when he gets up to speak.
It's greatly hilarious to hear Democrats talk of McCain's age while electing REAL antiquities.
So, kep it up, it will backfire now that the General is on.
Same with "Bush III".
You can't pick and choose issues to play this game.
Funny how Obama's Illegal Immigration stance is the same as Bush's. I guess that makes HIM a candidate for Bush III, too.
See how that works?
Even the smallest of research on McCain will show this is not true, anyway.
And, again with history repeating itself, by November this will just show the American people how petty the Democratic Party is. And how stupid the DNC is for offering a far lefty that Mainstream American will REJECT, AGAIN!
It boggles the mind how much of an advantage the Dems had this year, and they blow it by nominating a flawed Liberal candidate.
Howard Dean has screwed the Party.

Funny how Obama's Illegal Immigration stance is the same as Bush's. I guess that makes HIM a candidate for Bush III, too.
See how that works?

which position on immigration is that ? it's so hard to keep 'em all straight.

The WaPo has two powerful editorials today supporting George Bush. Will they oppose Obama?
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Fred Hiatt about the canard 'Bush Lied, People Died', and Dan Eggen about Bush's legacy.
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The problem with age is that it is an expectation lower-er. Recall that Reagan made a big rebound after being written off simply by (in my hopelessly leftist mind) setting up a nice punchline about Mondale's 'youth and inexperience'. Questions about McCain's temper on the other hand are something else, I think.

Count me as another person in favor of not bringing up McCain's age, and certainly not psychiatric diagnoses at a distance. (To be more precise: I think that you have to draw lines about age: does casting yourself as the candidate of change, and your opponent as the candidate of tired old thinking, count? As far as I'm concerned, that's fine, if you back it up with specifics that don't involve age.)

I think there are genuine issues about age that deserve a thoughtful exploration. Certainly Reagan seemed to me, by his second term, to have signs of memory problems, and it's very much worth asking whether that's a risk we ought to run. That said, I think that a Presidential campaign is just not going to produce any such thoughtful exploration of the issues. Even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that Obama raises them in the most thoughtful, nuanced way possible, that would be wholly lost.

What would not be lost is the thought: Obama is beating up on McCain. Also, the thought: this is a new kind of politics?

If you think it's unfair to bring this stuff up, then of course Obama shouldn't. If you think it's fair, then I think the best way to go would be to take the high road, and let these issues bring themselves up, as a result of McCain's conduct, or not. It's also the way that has the virtue of keeping you honest: if they don't bring themselves up, then presumably it's because they don't exist.

Even without implying Alzheimer's, I think too much emphasis on age could cause a backlash, much like the support Clinton got from a backlash against sexism (even though the sexism didn't come from Obama's campaign). Old people vote, and they're well aware that McCain is old and of the effects of age. They don't need to be reminded, especially through stereotypes and ridicule of the old.

There are plenty of old people who don't feel comfortable about electing someone their age because they know they don't have the energy, memory, or quickness and flexibility of thinking that they used to. But talk of McCain screaming "get off my grass" isn't going to help them embrace Obama (not that you were actually suggesting Obama do that).

McCain's age is obvious. The point is made simply by having him and Obama both appear on people's TV screens. The Obama campaign should stay far away from the issue (even thanking McCain for his "half century of service" is too much).

I'll see your Byrd and Lautenberg and raise you a Strom Thurmond!

Some excerpts from that Eggen piece

Meet George W. Bush, time traveler.

and

As the door begins to close on his tenure, Bush is increasingly drawing on selected events of the past to argue that history will vindicate him on Iraq, terrorism, trade and other controversial issues.

and

"It's all he has left," said Millsaps College history professor Robert S. McElvaine, who conducted the survey for the History News Network of George Mason University. "When your approval ratings are down around 20 to 28 percent and the candidate of your own party is trying to hide from being seen with you, history is your only hope."

If that is what counts as a powerful editorial supporting Bush, I hope kim doesn't see the ones that don't support him.

Sorry, the link is here

Eh, read the whole thing, and Hiatt's piece too.

Now consider, will historians respect Scott McClellan's book, or Doug Feith's?
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"Substantially supported by intelligence information". What price Larry Johnson, Joe Wilson, and Val Plame?
=========================

um, neither?

You haven't read either of them. One is scholarly, the other propaganda.
================

Publius, you should know better than to use three years of returns to castigate private accounts. You know that over the long term stocks do better than most other vehicles available. Do you think we are all morons out here?
==========================

It takes a strange perspective to read the Eggen piece as "supporting" George Bush.

It takes a strange perspective to read the Eggen piece as "supporting" George Bush.

AndyK, note the juxtaposition temporally of the Eggen piece with Hiatt's one substantially altering the public's perception of his legacy.
================================

I think that attcks on McCAin's age should be out of bounds for a whole bunch of reasons, the the biggest one is simply that, without eveidnce of dementia, it's mean.

On the other hand I think he does nedd to tie McCain to the past. There is nothing wrong with that: its true and lots of younger peole ( visit the NRO site) are just as tied to the past.

Also I do not think that Democrats should be optimistic about this elelction. McCain has been written off before. Plenty of voters don't vote for issues or are prepared to punish the Repuclican party at the state or local level whiole still supporting the party at the national level. Fear is still a powerful force in our politics.

I think we can win but I think it is not going to be easy.

How about "McCain is a political whore that will do or say anything to get elected."

I really hope this campaign doesn't end up being "another angry campaign of mere mobilization rather than persuasion." (George Will commenting on what would happen if Obama chose Clinton as a running mate). Or another campaign of sloganeering rather than persuasion. "Bush III" seems so sophomoric. And while age is more relevant, "get off my grass" isn't the way to bring it up. I am hoping for more persuasion from the candidate of change. Or (query)will that mean he has to reveal too much of his true liberal identity?

I mean, if only people had had a chance to invest a third of their Social Security benefits in the roaring markets over the past three years — just imagine the returns.

I agree that this issue will probably help Obama. But look at what the State of Alaska SBS participant were getting. SBS is where their "social security" goes. There is a reason why a lot of employees end up with serious coin in the bank at retirement (well over $1Million) plus their retirement to boot.

kim - for some people they are, and for some they're not. averages (even assuming you've average correctly) doesn't much help the guy who had some mutual funds heavily exposed to the subprime mess.

that's the whole point -- to eliminate risk. except for iraq, private accounts are by far the most reckless, unwise policy the administration proposed (particularly given the enormous and efficient success of SS).

Whatever the merits of the Bush III strategy may be, the McCain team clearly feels like it’s damaging them. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be pushing back so hard on it.

I think this is exactly right. McCain has howled at being called a warmoger, at the (accurate) replaying of his 100 years clip, etc. So keep hammering those -- over & over.

And, yeah, social security too.

SF


I really hope this campaign doesn't end up being "another angry campaign of mere mobilization rather than persuasion."

...
I am hoping for more persuasion from the candidate of change.

That is my reaction too. I want Obama to start the campaign by making a positive case for the good things his administration will do rather than focus on attacking McCain.

Let's keep it classy until the other side goes into the gutter. At some point the campaign will get negative, but let McCain initiate it. Obama's team seems to be very adroit at counterpunching.

Yes, publius, you must think we are morons. You eliminate risk, and you eliminate reward. What a great way to fund retirement. Do you see why the Fund is rapidly approaching insolvency?
=====================================

Bush III is very much a successful line of attack, and not just because it's true. There's no such thing as an unassailable image in politics anymore, if there ever was. In 2000 and 2004 Republicans got a lot of mileage going after their opponent's strengths. If John Kerry can be falsely painted as unpatriotic (and by utter, shameless cowards), then no, McCain's maverick image - and it is only an image - can most definitely be truthfully dismantled.

As far as the age issue goes, there's a couple ways to play it. One is taking the high road, which can work I suppose. Two, directly making it an issue, is definitely a non-starter. However, I do think that INDIRECTLY making it an issue is not something we need to be above. For example, WHILE hanging the GWB albatross around McCain's neck, feel free to be subtle:

"Does John McCain remember supporting George W. Bush's effort to privatize Social Security?"

Or to rankle the Evangelical base, play this one in northern Florida:

"Has John McCain forgotten what he said about Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell in 2000? "

And actually you could rewrite that last one to include his recent cozying up to far right ministers, and use it to creep out everyone who ISN'T a rightwing Evangelical. Use the "Hitler did God's work" pastor (Hagee I think) to freak out Jewish communities in southern Florida, and between the two, bam, Obama wins one of the big swing states.

The last option for dealing with the age question is to pull a dirty Nixon ratfucking operation. Start a 527 with some appropriately conservative-sounding name, make a few small donations to small, safely-Republican politicians' campaigns (to establish credibility). Then use your "conservative" "grassroots" "organization" to make and fund very explicit attacks on McCain's age. It's a dirty, Karl Rove-style attack, to make Republicans look mean, cruel, and divided. I do not endorse this plan, of course.

Somehow, publius, the law as written doesn't do thing for eliminating risk of loss. As presently constructed, the young are not going to be getting their money's worth. All that's been eliminated is the risk of complete loss, but the risk of partial loss is guaranteed unless one lives beyond one's life expectancy.
=================================

Yes, publius, you must think we are morons. You eliminate risk, and you eliminate reward. What a great way to fund retirement. Do you see why the Fund is rapidly approaching insolvency?

Do you not understand the first thing about Social Security? IT'S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE REWARDING. The entire point of it is to be a _safety net_ to reduce risk. A high-risk, high-reward Social Security is the same thing as NO Social Security, you lunkhead.

And by "rewarding" I mean "a path to riches." It's supposed to be safe money, very - what's that funny word that has lost all meaning? - conservative, in the sense of 'not being risky.'

So what about the guaranteed loss. The risk of that is not reduced, but made inevitable.

Look, it is a Ponzi scheme. What is secure about that?
===================

Don't accuse McCain of altzheimer's whatever you do. On the ohter hand, hammer him hard on every flip-flop and every memory lapse. Treat him as a competent candidate (giving him the benefit of the doubt) and then hammer him whenever he slips. Only if he uses age to excuse those slips should you play the age card.

If McCain doesn't have altzheimer's then you're going dirty in a way that will backfire if you accuse him of it - and if he does then he'll be giving him all the ammunition you could want - and will keep giving you it until he either retreats or pleads altzheimer's.

Sorry, buddy, a Ponzi scheme is not 'conservative'.
===============================

Read Arthur Herman in the New York Post today. Bush III might be McCain's winning strategy yet. Even jihadists are rejecting al Qaeda.
===============================

Let's keep it classy until the other side goes into the gutter. At some point the campaign will get negative, but let McCain initiate it.

What, McCain hasn't already gone negative?

[Not that he couldn't go a whole hell of a lot more negative, of course, but I don't recall him being particularly positive of late.]

"I want Obama to start the campaign by making a positive case for the good things his administration will do rather than focus on attacking McCain."

Recipe. For. Disaster.

We're talking about seriously twisted ways of thinking that are accepted as common sense by an electorate that is, at its core, aligned with progressive values. You simply cannot pry open peoples' minds without using some destructive force.

As you said, LeftTurn, Obama can counterpunch and still keep it classy. He can also initiate punches and keep it classy.

I have stretches of a minute to an hour or so where I can refresh existing sites fine but nothing new gets found. I'm in Seattle, and I can offer lunch.

Bruce, you might consider using OpenDNS to alleviate your DNS problems. I switched a few weeks ago after getting sick of Comcast randomly disappearing DNS for the fifth time that weak and life has been better ever since. OpenDNS is free and relatively easy.

I'd agree that Obama himself, and probably his direct campaign proxies, shouldn't hammer the age issue -- because the late-night comedies are going to hammer it for him. But realistically, Things Younger Than McCain (the LP record!), or at least the memes therein, is going to have more impact on the race than all the serious political blogs put together.

Read Arthur Herman in the New York Post today. Bush III might be McCain's winning strategy yet. Even jihadists are rejecting al Qaeda.

The Post is a rag.

Anyway, who cares about AQI? It was never a threat to us, or the world, just another (small) bunch of thugs using a glitzy brand name.

Publius, I agree with you that Bush III is the way to go. One of Karl Rove's insights was that in a war of image, you should hit an opponent in what he thought was his strong point and make him waste his energies on defense. E.g., re-framing Al Gore from an innovator into an exaggerator, turning Kerry from a war hero into a cowardly fake. Same concept here, force McCain to try to burnish his "maverick" credentials and it will a) put him on the defensive and b) become obvious how thin they are.

Hi, Bruce. I'm in Seattle too. So are CaseyL and Wonkie, IIRC.

Anybody interested in an ObWi Meetup?

BTW, I wasn't intending to endorse attacks about McCain's age. That's a bad idea. As hilzoy said, if his age is really a problem, his behavior will make that clear. Sadly, peoples' biases about age are going to be activated, especially when they see McCain and hear his voice on the same stage as Obama. There's no need to play on that or attempt to activate it. I will bet another Andrew Jackson (since I didn't lose it on my Clinton prediction), though, that Republicans will accuse the Obama campaign of stirring up an age issue. So mote it be. Obama can continue to deflect it by saying, "I'm not questioning whether he's too old to make good judgements. I already know his judgement is wrong regardless of his age".

Thanks, Turbulence! I'll give it a try.

Kim, you are misinformed as to the state of Social Security. It is in excellent shape, and in the long run it provides a better return than the markets do. Furthermore, it provides a trustable return even in years when the markets are off, as it should. I'll hunt up recent reporting on this.

Sure! A meetup for Puget Sounders would be fun.

I can't believe so many people want to bring up McCain's age and attribute his flip-flops to increasing dementia.

The thing to do is flatly deny that McCain's age is an impediment (and point to other politicians in their 80s and 90s who can still do their jobs), and then to hammer him on every flip-flop as though he is deliberately lying and willing to say anything to get elected.

Let people who are sympathetic to him bring up his age as a defense. Two millstones around his neck for the price of one.

Bush III might be McCain's winning strategy yet.

Yes, definitely. A great idea. Please go tell McCain's team that. Let's hope they listen.

If it helps in making your case, you can say that we liberals are trembling, just trembling at the idea of McCain's embracing Bush. It's the strategy we fear the most.

Absolutely, Stephen. McCain should start using the photo of the Hug in his campaign literature.

It is in excellent shape, and in the long run it provides a better return than the markets do.

Hmmm. Social Security does not provide a "return" in the commonly-understood sense. Social Security is a generational transfer.

Furthermore, it provides a trustable return even in years when the markets are off, as it should.

In the narrow sense of degrees, yes. But, generally, no. Social security is already highly linked to the credit markets.

Social security already is a market-based system, although the market is largely concealed from the view of the average voter. A signiciant part of the social security fund is held as US debt instruments (treasury bonds), which are themselves subject to market fluctuations. Changes in the credit markets, the currency markets, inflationary pressures, etc. all can have a direct and immediate effect on social security.

The true question under debate is whether the current market-based approach to SS is appropriate, or whether a new approach should be considered.

Omigosh, I would love a Puget Sound MeetUp! Just not Saturday am, because I volunteer at the Aquarium then.

Social Security is a generational transfer.

Wait, I thought liberals were against any such thing!


Recipe. For. Disaster.

We're talking about seriously twisted ways of thinking that are accepted as common sense by an electorate that is, at its core, aligned with progressive values. You simply cannot pry open peoples' minds without using some destructive force.

As you said, LeftTurn, Obama can counterpunch and still keep it classy. He can also initiate punches and keep it classy.

david,

In a normal year I would agree with you, but I don't think this is a normal year. Obama has been very successful at attracting new voters (either 1st time youngsters or the cynically disaffected who have dropped out of voting) and IMHO his generally positive and optimistic vision for how we can all collectively change the culture of gridlock in DC has been a big factor in doing this. That is a big advantage which I think it would be foolish to risk by opening with a barrage of attacks on McCain. There is still a reservoir of good will and charity towards McCain left over from the 2000 campaign which will cause a backlash against Obama if he is too aggressive. The GOP is going to be desperate to paint Obama as “just a regular politician” hoping to depress turnout and fight the contest on more conventional grounds, so why hand them extra ammunition.

Also, I think there is a groundswell of popular resentment against negative attacks which has built up over time as it starts to sink in what a high price the country is paying (and will pay more going forward) for the polarized politics of the 1990’s and 2000’s. My sense is that people are both hopeful for the future, anxious that we turn a corner on the Bush administration, and angry at the way that they have been manipulated and lied to in the past. If one of the candidates in the general election is associated with that latter trend it will hurt them. The first campaign to go entirely negative will take a big hit this year, IMHO.

I’m not saying that Obama shouldn’t draw a sharp contrast with McCain, just that it should be done in a way which states a positive vision of what an Obama administration will be like. Let the sharper attacks be counterpunches.

Another note on tactics. It seemed to me that in the Democratic nominating contest the Obama campaign was very skilled at using subtle dog-whistle attacks to needle and frustrate the other campaign (in a way which was not noticed by most voters), eventually goading them into much more direct and obvious attacks which then backfired. For example, Obama frequently attacked “the failed politics of the past” rather than just Bush. This was a double dog-whistle – it sent messages to two different audiences:

(1) To disaffected Republicans and Indy’s, it sent the message “I don’t disapprove of your negative feelings about Bill Clinton. You can vote for me without having to apologize for you opposition to him in the past. Both sides share blame for our problems, so you were right to distrust Bill Clinton in the past, just as we are right to criticize Bush now. These criticisms are mutually validating. By accepting this idea, together we can toss overboard baggage which otherwise would make it difficult for you to switch parties and support a Democrat now.”

(2) To the Clinton campaign, and especially to Bill Clinton personally, it sent the message “You aren’t the big dog any more. Neener! Neener! You can’t catch me!”. It was the political equivalent of playing ding-dong-ditch.

Now I think that message became more and more grating as it was repeated, and eventually Bill Clinton just couldn’t take it anymore. After the Nevada “Reagan vs. Clinton Presidential legacy” kerfuffle, Bill stopped being an asset to Hillary’s campaign and became more of a liability and a loose cannon, because of his gaffes (Jess Jackson) and his inability to stay on message, and because by raising his public profile Bill unintentionally undercut Hillary as the center of attention.

The reason why I bring this up, is that is seems to me that McCain is extremely vulnerable to a similar approach – slow and subtle needling and goading, which will lead to a blowup. Given how wretchedly he was treated by the Bush campaign in the 2000 GOP primaries (SC especially), and what it has to have cost him psychologically to suck up to Bush and make friends with the Religious Right to get to this point, I would go after that. I would keep pushing the theme of how much of a Bush loyalist McCain is, how much he has changed from his old positions to fit in as the GOP frontrunner now, and keep pushing his new ties to the RR. Eventually McCain will get so frustrated with being tied to people who have treated him so badly in the past that his frustration and anger will overcome his common sense, and it will go downhill from there.

IMHO, YMMV, etc.

Yes, publius, you must think we are morons. You eliminate risk, and you eliminate reward. What a great way to fund retirement.

This is a young person's approach.

That's not an approach for people who are already in retirement, particularly those who have memories of the Depression. It's a much more conservative approach. (Talk to any planned giving fundraiser).

You forget this at your peril.

Oh, and by the way...Puget Sound person. (And you guys really should have come to my zombie Shakespeare martial arts show....)

Here is an example of Obama's campaign tactics from a CNN report.

Four key points for the general:

the war

SS preservation

health care (McCain's spent his entire life on govt health care)

the economy

Kim's perspective isn't unusual and I often heard older people than the truly "young" say that they "wished they'd been able to invest their own money" instead of socking it away in social security. I usually pointed out that nothing had prevented them from "investing their own money" they just would have had to depress their consumption farther below their income--if they weren't willing to do that with the tiny portion taken out of their incomes for SS what made them think they were going to do it if no one forced them to absent social security. I also carefully explained to these "young at heart" republicans that they were, of course, benefitting from the SS payments made to their own parents which meant their parents weren't living off of them as parents used to do (those slackers!). These days the argument against "personal accounts" is even more obvious--all you have to do is ask which blue chip stocks and banks they would have trusted their investments in? Either they don't know or they know all too well that they would have been among the investors who stupidly trusted bush's cronies in the subprime market scandal and they would have seen their investments wiped out. The rapid fall of the "real" part of "real estate" has had a very salutory effect on people who are actually paying attention.

aimai

gwangung -- now he tells me!

Puget Sounders: glad you're interested. Let's take this to private email. Please email me, jacoe at foster dot com.

"investors who stupidly trusted bush's cronies in the subprime market scandal"

Hedge funds managers overwhelmingly contribute campaign money to "D's".

Not all, nor even the majority, of hedge fund are connected to the subprime market. I don;t think arbitrage is particularly connected to any country's fiscal policy (in any direct way).

"nor even the majority, of hedge fund are connected to the subprime market"

Where have you been for the past year? Hedge Funds are directly related to sub-prime lending.

Hedge funds are far more diversified than that. They are, in fact, poorly regulated in that many investors don't know where the money goes and don't understand them. And they're popping into and out of various markets. Many of them are ploughing money directly into companies and edging into venture capital territory.

I won't say that they didn't have a major impact on the subprime mess, but the hedge funds are involved in a wide variety of areas.

I don't believe they are regulated at all according to this wikipedia entry.

with the tiny portion taken out of their incomes for SS

Woah, Nellie! You obviously are not self employed. I wouldn't call 15.3 percent tiny (12.4 for social security). Look at it this way, 12.4 of $50k/year at the average S&P rate of return would yield a LARGE number.

Obama will have to put the hammer down eventually. He's been too nice. He has to shut down the innuendo and BS, hard! He can let McCain bury himself to a point but when the 527's start he has to hold McCain responsible.

How 'bout we win one for once...

So you're going to let 527s/George Soros--big hedge funds--answer for your candidate.

O's doing a fine job of smacking McCain around today.

Put me in the no-remote-diagnoses camp: I doubt we'd come out looking any better than Bill Frist did.

I think Obama's "we honor John McCain's half-century of service to our country" tweak is the perfect approach to the age issue, for the Obama campaign and its proxies.

And for those of us who aren't part of the campaign, I'm still for keeping it playful: "Things Younger Than John McCain" is great. More like that!

The age issue is a status issue, like gender or race is, but about health. If you are McCain's age, then whether or not you can undertake the rigors of the presidency is a legitimate concern. Reagan was 69 in 1980, and in a lot better health than McCain. I think old people fully understand this -- they are critically aware of creeping mortality as one ages.

Everyone has seen the dramatic aging pictures of a president comparing his first year in office to his last. Imagine seeing a line up of several such comparisons, followed by a picture of McCain as he appears now followed by a question mark.

References to the ages of Senators is pointless -- they do not have near the stress of the presidency on their shoulders.

The age issue is a "doubt" issue -- one that does not decide the deal but which influences leaners or undecideds to break for Obama. It is a real and proper weapon if used in this manner. Age should not be treated as a disqualifier, but as something that justifies doubts about McCain's ability to serve.

The guy has obviously deteriorated from the version that was running in 2000, and not just because he has cravenly caved in order to vainly try and get right wing support. He is just not all there.

"Woah, Nellie! You obviously are not self employed."

Ha. I had exactly the same thought. If we could get a presidential candidate to acknowledge that a business with one owner and no employees is not, in fact, two people, I would be sorely tempted to vote for him.

Kim: Per your "Do you think we are morons?" and "You must think we are morons..." You wouldn't happen to be the same Kim who observed over at NY Times Dot.Earth this morning that "It is obvious to all but morons that the role of CO2 in climate has been exaggerated."

Sure are a lot of Kims out there who enjoy using the word "moron" today!

The guy has obviously deteriorated from the version that was running in 2000, and not just because he has cravenly caved in order to vainly try and get right wing support. He is just not all there.

I agree. I also think that senility should be discussed if McCain is going to continue to says that's that just aren't so. It may be unpleasant for our courtier class but this is not grandpa puting the tv in the dishwasher to clean it, we are electing someone to the most powerful office on earth - perhaps we should make sure that any canidate for that office has his (or her) marbles all in one place before making a decision.

Whoops, that's 'continue to say things that just aren't so'

Concentrated wealth is always something to think about, no matter what the politics. If they support policies you also support, that's not a problem. If they support policies you oppose, you will need to oppose them...in time and in space gathering other like minded people.

damn, goofed the change after editing -- age is NOT a status issue

Good post, publius.

On the whole, I think Obama should stick w/ his strengths -- in time, McCain's weaknesses (hypocrisy, economic ineptitude, war-mongering) will speak for themselves.

Hope and change.

Obama squeaked out an impressive primary win over Hillary Clinton w/ that message -- and he should stick to it in the GE.

Bill Clinton always said elections are about the future, not the past, sage advice for any candidate (unfortunately, his own wife and her advisors, forgot about this fundamental truth until it was too late).

Obama won't.

Obama equals the future.

McCain equals the past.

That much will be clear from their appearances alone when they stand on the same stage during a debate.

That much will be clear when Obama -- who became a much better debater as the primary campaign went on, thanks to Clinton's superior performances in the early debates, giving him time to hone his own debating style -- and McCain talk issues in the debates.

And while Obama must focus on the future, it's vital, as a Democrat, he stresses Social Security.

Please, let's not give the Republicans this issue.

Seniors -- like my 65-year-old mother -- and non-seniors -- like my disabled 44-year-old brother -- view Social Security as vital. For many of them, it is the only source of income they have.

I am 45 and consider this an important issue. Sure, when I retire -- at 62? at 65? at 68? at 70? -- Social Security will look a lot differently than it does now.

But Democrats, the party of FDR, must stress that Social Security will be there in its current state for today's seniors -- and w/ the necessary refinements, will be there when I retire.

Social Security ties into the most important issue of the GE:

Again, to borrow from Clinton: It's the economy, stupid.

Gas, stagnant wages, raising food prices -- these economic hurdles, if you will, play in Peoria and Pittsburgh and Pensacola and all points in between.

Then there's the war.

As he did with Clinton, Obama can take the high ground and say he was against the war from the start.

If I were him, I wouldn't overdo it -- he's bashed that point home pretty good already. Instead, I think Obama should provide good answers to the GE's pressing question about Iraq, Iran and everywhere else in the Middle East:

What now?

And Obama should remain classy.

While Brian (10:26 am) provokes a strong emotional response by saying "McCain is a political whore that will do or say anything to get elected," the Democrats do NOT need to engage the Republicans in such gutter language.

To be sure, the 527's -- perhaps even McCain's own surrogates -- will try and Swiftboat Barack Obama.

So when that happens, he should NOT go John Kerry on us.

Obama should fight back, quick and often -- 18 million Democrats preferred Clinton's fighting spirit and swagger to his more subdued style.

Obama is wise, astute and, I believe, he will stick to his principles while fighting back.

Hope.

Change.

And fight.

Winning campaign ingredients for the Democrats to re-take the White House.

Bedtime, that is some mighty good writing. I particularly like seeing a helpful proposal on ways Clintonian strengths could reinforce places Obama is good and fill in gaps where he may not be so good. This is partisanship the good way.

Still thinking sympathetic thoughts, too. One suggestion from Mom, reflecting on her own loss two years ago and the passing of the husband of the great couple next door to her recently: in the immediate aftermath (the first few days and weeks) there's a lot of kind of numb time where you still have energy, even if not much forward ambition of any kind. Use it when you've got it to take care of the chores - clearing out things the departed used that you won't, paperwork, and so on. Later there'll be more times when you have neither ambition nor energy and grief calls for more rest, and you'll be glad then of the stuff already done.

I would love to see a little town hall event on national TV where Obama pushed just the right buttons in an every so calm and sophisticated way and drove McShame into one of his angry fits. A few choice words unbleeped for the masses would be nice.

I for one am in favour of a government held state pension under the current system. That is because I believe it barbaric to have people starving on the streets, and the purpose of Social Security is to provide a backup for everyone in the event that all goes wrong. And individual speculation does not provide a safety net. Now I'm all in favour of individual investment beyond that minimum level. But that's another matter.

Hypocrisy on Obama’s stance on subprime connections

Ha. I had exactly the same thought. If we could get a presidential candidate to acknowledge that a business with one owner and no employees is not, in fact, two people, I would be sorely tempted to vote for him.

Um, I thought that self-employed and non-self-employed folks pay the same SS tax rate; the only difference is that for non-self-employed, half the money is invisibly paid by the employer while half the money is cut out of your check every pay-period. Was I mistaken?

Assuming I'm right, why do you think the government should cut taxes on the self-employed while requiring non-self-employed folk to pay a higher effective rate? I mean, if my employed didn't have to pay any of a number of taxes relating to my employment, they could give me a larger salary, but then I'd have to pay those taxes so it would be a wash for me.

bedtimeforbonzo,

Very good points, well said.

I would like to see Obama highlight Social Security not as a direct attack on McCain, but to illustrate the fallacy of the GOP talking point that govt. is always bad, that the only good kind of govt. is small and getting smaller, and that privatization is always a good idea.

Hit them hard on how well FDR's New Deal has held up over the years - and hit them even harder on the privitization of SS which Bush campaigned for in 2004. Point out where we would be today if the GOP had gotten their way and invested Granny's pension in a market which has been poisoned by mortgage-backed securities. Tie those two millstones together (SS and the housing bust) and hang them around the GOP's neck.

The other thing I'd like to see is Obama campaigning against the generic GOP brand (to help our downticket candidates) rather than just against McCain. If he pulls it off, Obama could be the first Democratic President since LBJ in 1964 to have some actual coat-tails with which to build a mandate for change in Congress.

The real power struggle next year will be in the Senate, and the success or failure of the next administration's agenda will be determined there most of all. I think Hillary can be a real champion of the party if she uses her Senate seat to push that agenda, and Obama can help by campaigning for the Democratic brand and not just himself.

Why is this post not about Bobby Knight?

And while I'm at it, before I go for more lying-down type recuperation...

The Republican machine has pushed the idea that "strength" means a particular kind of senselessly pushy aggression and contempt for intelligence. Part of what I like so much about "Stay classy" is that it's entirely compatible with a different kind of strength - secure, stable, confident in responding but able to make petulant attacks seem, well, kinda childish and dumb. Obama's responses to criticism have often seemed to me to carry an undercurrent along the lines of "Okay, since you insist, here's an answer, but meanwhile there's a real world out there that's lots more interesting and a future to plan for that's much more important."

This has the merit (IMHO) of being true. It's also a smart tactic, because above all those obsessed with machine-style "strength" feel a very great need not just to be important but to be seen by others as important. The more they feel marginalized, the more likely they are to keep huffing and reveal more of their true colors.

Do you get the feeling that McCain's campaign got some responses from their "help wanted--blog commenters" request on their website?

Certainly something has brought people out of the woodwork.

Or out from under the bridges.

The talking points aren't matching the official line for the day (and ObWi isn't an officially targeted blog). Maybe we're getting the fruits of a less public effort.

Assuming I'm right

You're right Turbulence. I'm not sure about the "two person" comment, but mine was aimed at the fact that it is not invisible as you so correctly note is the case when the employer pays 1/2 of s.s. I don't think even the employee's half is "tiny;" it's the difference between making budget or going under each month.

But when the 12.4 percent stares you in the face come tax time and you realize how much better you would be managing the money yourself it gets frustrating. Can someone tell me why investing a third and requiring those that do to eat if if their investments go south would be such a bad thing? If we are concerned about the savings rate, maybe it's time to up the incentives to save by, say, RAISING the capital gains rate!

Two quick opinions:

1. Bush III has to be a good strategy. You've got a very unpopular President and lots of ways to tie McCain to him. How can that be wrong?

2. Stay away from the age issue. Avoid making what seems like a nasty attack, and one which may hurt with older voters. If it's a real issue voters will figure it out.

But when the 12.4 percent stares you in the face come tax time and you realize how much better you would be managing the money yourself it gets frustrating. Can someone tell me why investing a third and requiring those that do to eat if if their investments go south would be such a bad thing?

How does one require those who make bad investment bets to "eat it" in practice? If you're living on nothing but SS and your investments go south, then you likely can't afford to eat. At that point, the government has to step in anyway. There is a huge gaping moral hazard here; how would you propose that we address it? I mean, people on SS already exert political power disproportionate to their numbers, so it seems unlikely that any government can make SS recipients just "eat it".

Moreover, most people are much worse at investing than they think they are. One could imagine SS enhancements whereby a number of actively managed funds were offered as alternatives, but this introduces new problems: how do you prevent massive corruption associated with giving fund managers access to an asset stream that large? If you try to expand competition by offering many funds, how do you expect people to make reasonable choices between funds? If you try to remedy some of these issues by offering index funds instead, you now have to worry about market distortion imposed when the total fraction of trading dominated by index funds grows so large.

Finally, I'd worry about the larger macroeconomic consequences of dumping this much liquidity into the stock market. The market is not a magical machine that generates arbitrary returns no matter how much money you put into it: there are limits on how much real value the economy can create, and beyond those limits, markets can only produce returns by temporary gamesmanship. See: the housing and credit crisis.

I don't find any of these objections to be unsurmountable, but they seem challenging enough that I'd require any plan to seriously address them. In other words: come up with a partial SS privatization plan that deals with these issues in a serious way (as opposed to hand waving them all away) and I'd consider supporting it. But given that Bush has never produced ANY plan, I'm not going to hold my breath.

If we are concerned about the savings rate, maybe it's time to up the incentives to save by, say, RAISING the capital gains rate!

Did you mean lowering the capital gains rate? I don't understand how raising the cap gains rate would provide non-transient incentives for saving.

Since there's been... friction here of late, I too wanted to commend bedtimeforbonzo's post.

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