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July 30, 2008

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President McCain will cast off any pretense of international cooperation or consensus building as he pursues victory against the “transcendent challenge of our time.”

But that's so very fncking entertaining. And for reasons I've previously explained, I'm voting Republican in 2008.

Who needs the obvious boredom of an Obama administration when McCain is sure to provide so much more...excitement?

You make a compelling argument.

Thanks for this post, Eric. This is exactly what people need to be reading about and thinking about.

But Rove-ian or not, the "attempt to create tunnel vision around the Surge" will fail if people can be made to see the surge itself for what it is. I posted my thoughts on this in a piece that went up today, "McCain's Premature Surge Adulation." Here are a few sentences from the middle of it:

"I could spend several paragraphs now justifying why I think it's premature to pass any judgment on whether the surge will go down in history as even a partial success. But instead I'll quote McCain adviser Max Boot, who went on public radio Tuesday and hurled words at Senator Obama which boomerang neatly back at McCain: 'Nobody really knows what Iraq will look like six months from now, much less two years from now.'

"Knowing that and saying that didn't stop Boot from telling the same radio audience that McCain has been 'vindicated in Iraq.' Yes, we don't know what Iraq will look like in six months, but we do know that whatever lurks out there on the horizon will vindicate McCain. Well, nonsense."

The full post can be seen at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-quigg/mccains-premature-surge-a_b_114790.html

Thanks again for getting people thinking about all this.

I think McCain is hoping for an emotional reaction along these lines:

Most Americans made the same mistake as McCain, and it worked out badly, so they resent Obama for being right, whereas most of them feel they made the same mistake as Obama, which McCain made irrelevant. McCain gets points for good results, Obama looks like a sore loser if he says we shouldn't have had the problem in the first place. Also, Americans are innumerate, so $300B and 100K dead is meaningless, whereas "win" is how the war movie is supposed to end, and if it does, all else is irrelevant as the soundtrack swells. Again, point to McCain.

It may work, too.

I will never, in a million years, suggest that Al Gore is the same as George Bush.

That said, after the last year and a half of Democrats caving to the Republican agenda, the old Naderite coke v. pepsi saw seems as relevant as ever.

Now, that said, the real problem with Democrats in Congress tend to stem from the incumbents. So the notion that you shouldn't vote Democrat, particularly if you are in one of the hotter races this year, is utterly absurd.

The 2006 Dems have been pretty hot to trot. The old guard Blue Dogs and DLC survivors on the other hand... they've been a problem since the Clinton Years.

It's like Kos says. More, better.

I think that McCain's ploy will work. Most people prefer to think of themseles as winners and do not want to think of themsleves as schmucks who got tricked into an unnecessary war and lost billions of dollars, thousands of lives and our national honor.
McCAin and the Republicans are hoping that by asserting that we are winning the Democrats will be provoked into asserting that we are not.
The solution is for Obama to refuse to buy into McCain's winner/loser dicotomy. He needs to stick to one message: Iraq wants us out, so let's get out.

Naderites (much to the joy of the McCain camp)

What 'Naderites', exactly? There are a large number of us disgruntled, left-wing Democrats out here, planning to vote for Obama and not exactly fired up to do much more than that.

Where are these 'Naderites'? What blogs are they posting on? Who are they supporting for president?

He needs to stick to one message: Iraq wants us out, so let's get out.

Better: "The people of Iraq, the government of Iraq, and the people of the United States want us out, so let's get out."

Better: "The people of Iraq, the government of Iraq, and the people of the United States want us out, so let's get out."

and anyone who says otherwise is an elitist - basically by definition.

Nell, there are a few far lefties (and anarchist types like IOZ) who think the whole two-party system is so rotten and corrupt they won't vote for either one. You can find a few blogs like this on the sidebar of "A Tiny Revolution", for instance. "Thoreau" at Unqualified Offerings seems on the verge rejecting both candidates, though I'm not sure about that. I sympathize, but am sticking to the lesser-of-two-evils voting philosophy.

There are also anarchist types who haven't forgotten what the lesson of '34 was, and will on principle vote for a lesser of evils even while holding that it's representative democracy itself that's rotten and corrupt, to say nothing of a two-party system.

Not that I would know anything about that. No, certainly not. Though I must say I would like the election to get here sooner, as my nose is getting awfully sore from holding.

The attempt to create tunnel vision around the Surge is particularly Rove-ian in that the underlying strategy is to attack one's opponent on his/her strength - employing heatlthy doses of mendacity and dirty tricks with amplification from an easily manipulated media.

You know, winning an election by fooling the voters with 'heatlthy doses of mendacity and dirty tricks' has always seemed to me akin to getting your pilot's license by cheating on the exam. Yeah, you 'win', but do you really want to fly the airplane?

-- TP

You know, winning an election by fooling the voters with 'heatlthy doses of mendacity and dirty tricks' has always seemed to me akin to getting your pilot's license by cheating on the exam. Yeah, you 'win', but do you really want to fly the airplane?

Do you know how many planes John McCain's crashed?

"Where are these 'Naderites'? What blogs are they posting on? Who are they supporting for president?"

Probably Nader.

[...] Just over a third think both are arrogant. Obama leads McCain by 46 percent to 42 percent when third-party candidates are included, with Ralph Nader getting 6 percent and Bob Barr, a former GOP congressman from Georgia running for president as a Libertarian, getting 3 percent.
6 percent of voting age Americans is millions of people. Not that I'd say that the set of people who respond to a poll, let alone the statistically larger universe, translates exactly to the number of people who will actually vote that way, of course, but still: the fact that these folks aren't posting on this blog isn't terribly significant. We're just an anecdote; this is, however imprecise, data.

I'd particularly caution against the assumption that people don't exist if they're not posting on blogs. But you know that.

Chris Hedges:

We were watching C-Span yesterday.

And came across Brian Lamb interviewing former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges.

Lamb asked Hedges who he's going to vote for this year for President.

Hedges did not hesitate.

"I'm going to vote for Nader," Hedges said.

"I can't vote for anybody who doesn't call for an immediate end to the war in Iraq."

Just for the record, that's "former NY Times reporter."

Oops, Dept. of Redundancy Dept.

I'd particularly caution against the assumption that people don't exist if they're not posting on blogs. But you know that.

Gary, you old fuddy duddy! Why be so responsible? Take, for instance, Mongols. I have never seen a Mongol post on this or any blog. I've never even met one! Even the name sounds made up! And what are they supposed to live in? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yurt>A yurt. That is the phoniest word I've ever heard. Sounds like someone ripping off Yurtle The Turtle.

Aye, I'm with Drew on this. If you're gonna make wild claims like "caution[ing] against the assumption that people don't exist if they're not posting on blogs.", I think the very least you should be doing is giving us some kind of citation to back it up.

Ooh. This is awkward. I was just joking because I thought the idea of a yurt with broadband was a striking comedic image. I'm too timid to start an argument with Gary on anything but video games and Dungeons and Dragons. ^.^;

I was just joking because I thought the idea of a yurt with broadband was a striking comedic image.

Whereas I, by contrast, was plainly deadly serious.

Don't knock yurts. Your homeland security may depend on them.

Take, for instance, Mongols. I have never seen a Mongol post on this or any blog. I've never even met one!

Of course you could look for blogs on Mongolia. The basic rule is: there's always a blog on it somewhere (whatever 'it' is), because someone is interested in tenth-century Catalonia, even if you're not.

Doesn't prove anything. There are, I bet, blogs on Middleearth, the Discworld etc. Of course the Discworld has a higher probability than Outer Magnolia but...

Except that Outer Magnolia does have a blog.

Where are these 'Naderites'? What blogs are they posting on? Who are they supporting for president?

Well, some of these guys probably would call Nader a bourgeois pig, but people on the left are continually pointing out certain similarities, a certain continuity between Obama and Bush/McCain:

Guardian

WSW

OpEdNews

I don't agree with everything they say, but they cannot just be dismissed out of hand either.

Click your heels together and repeat after me: "The ends justify the means. The ends justify the means. The ends justify the means." That's how one returns to Kansas (Inauguration) from OZ (Campaign). The interpretation and comment response will all depend on your place on the fringe to center spectrum. Discuss among yourselves.

@Donald: Of course I know there are people with that worldview; they're to your and my immediate left. And I don't know about you, but speaking for myself it's a constant temptation to bail on the whole rigged game.

But that's not really an explanation for Eric's phrasing. No one in the McCain camp is reading or citing tee-tiny left-wing blogs. Democrats who raise the specter of 'Naderites' in this election season are required to name names. Who with any visibility or influence is advocating a third-party vote?

I'm skeptical this is anything but a straw device, but there could be, because lately I'm shutting myself off from most electoral posts and news. So, Eric, how about it? Who are the 'Naderites'?


I think McCain is hoping for an emotional reaction along these lines:

Most Americans made the same mistake as McCain, and it worked out badly, so they resent Obama for being right, whereas most of them feel they made the same mistake as Obama, which McCain made irrelevant. McCain gets points for good results, Obama looks like a sore loser if he says we shouldn't have had the problem in the first place. Also, Americans are innumerate, so $300B and 100K dead is meaningless, whereas "win" is how the war movie is supposed to end, and if it does, all else is irrelevant as the soundtrack swells. Again, point to McCain.

It may work, too.

Well put.

I must say, for an extinct Paleozoic marker fossil, you make boatloads of sense.

I think it will be close with McCain coming up short by about 2%. Which is perfect for the GOP, because it will be just the right result to put Obama in charge of cleaning up the giant mess that Bush hath made, while denying him a mandate (or so the media will tell us) that he will need to actually get the job done in the teeth of endless GOP obstructionism (especially in the Senate). The result will be 4 years of gridlock designed to set up the GOP for the 2012 elections, blaming everything that has gone wrong on the Democrats. 1976-1980 redux.

Gary, I accept Chris Hedges as a relevant response to my question; thanks. He has influence, credibility, and something of a platform (e.g., still gets invited onto shows, though I predict that the Q&A cited will cut down markedly on that).

Re the cuteness about Mongols: I neither said nor implied that any group not on blogs doesn't exist. Eric's post is about the universe of political discourse about the 2008 U.S. presidential election (see the quote that spurred my question below). In that universe, a p.o.v. not represented online, in venues that can easily be cited to support one's point, doesn't exist.

I expect to see this meme [that there's not much difference between the positions of Obama and McCain on military and foreign policy] out in force again this fall, flogged by "neutral" media types, McCain surrogates, Naderites (much to the joy of the McCain camp), and assorted others.

It should be clear from Eric's post and my question that neither of us were talking about voters in general, but activists/pundits/bloggers: people who are publicly making the case for a third-party vote based on the argument that there's not much difference between the two major candidates on military/foreign policy.

Chris Hedges is one. Who are some others, Eric? Because without more to go on, I'm going to regard references to "Naderites" intended to strike fear in Democratic hearts as so much fearmongering.

@novakant: See my comment to Gary, above. Eric was referring to people in the U.S. advocating a third-party vote because of the purported similarity in the fp/mil policies of Obama and McCain.

For that reason, columns from the Guardian don't count. Columns from the Nation would. Americans, even left-wing ones, don't look outside the country for election analysis. Sectarian left parties don't count (wake me up the day Republicans cite the Socialist Worker or World Socialist Web Site).

It's bizarre to me that mainline Democrats argue as if nothing has changed since 2000, when large numbers of left and left-liberal pundits and politicians advocated for a third-party vote in the presidential election. That didn't happen in 2004, and it's not happening now. So where's all the fear coming from?

From the fact that Obama's actual policy is just as imperial as any major-party candidate's is always going to be? In other words, a bad conscience.

Get real. Virtually none of the opinion leader / activist types who supported Nader in 2000 did so in 2004, nor are they doing so this time.

Make the actual case for how Obama's policy differs from McCain's. The audience for that is independent and temporarily non-Republican voters.

The actual case doesn't need to be made to the left wing of the Democratic electorate, because we've already bought in despite all our uneasiness. And if it does need to be made, you're best off making it without reference to a mythical 'Naderite' threat.

You know McCain really missed a golden chance when Maliki endorsed a timetable. After all he's been spending all this time talking about how the glorious Surge worked. He could have said that since the surge worked (and it was all his idea) and the "sovereign" Iraqi governement wants it, a timetable would be appropriate.

Then he could campaign as "The guy who won the war" the press would parrot it endlessly and he'd win in a walk.

You know, winning an election by fooling the voters with 'heatlthy doses of mendacity and dirty tricks' has always seemed to me akin to getting your pilot's license by cheating on the exam. Yeah, you 'win', but do you really want to fly the airplane?

Of course not. We're just here to siphon off the fuel and steal the luggage.


The actual case doesn't need to be made to the left wing of the Democratic electorate, because we've already bought in despite all our uneasiness.

Wow - I'm all for a bit of pragmatism, but that's going too far. Basically you're saying that there is no way to influence the course of the party you're voting for. Now, I have my doubts about that, but even if it were true, one just shouldn't vote for a party, if the proposed policies run counter to some of one's core convictions. Everybody has to decide for themselves when that breaking point is reached, but just capitulating in the face of the powers that be is not a good strategy for achieving political change. If there are major disconnects between a substantial part of the core voters and the policies of a candidate, they should be articulated loudly and clearly in public and those that do it shouldn't be vilified or marginalized.

Fledermaus: nothing really counts until the convention. I expect McCain to roll out exactly that line then.

TLTABQ, thanks for the kind words. My nom de net is derived from an Akbar and Jeff cartoon:
Ackbar & Jeff's Psychic Hut -- in a past life, you may have been, A Beautiful Princess! A Noble Warrior! A Crafty Trilobite!

Perhaps I'll go back to the two-word version.

Nell: we've already bought in despite all our uneasiness

novakant, you're either over- or misreading that statement. "We've already bought in" means "we're going to vote for the guy, so quit hectoring us for something we/friends of ours did eight years ago."

Not "we pledge to work actively for the Democratic candidate(s) without uttering a peep of protest about corporate and imperial policies".

I've been trying to influence my party since 1968. My evaluation is twofold: 1) damn little fundamental change is going to occur within the party, because of the role that money and corporate power plays in the election system and the media.

2) No amount of change inside can come without large-scale popular movements that exist and act outside the party structure. For that to result in some movement inside the party, there have to be bridge people; that's a role I've played, at times translating for the party/electoral world to movement people and at other times the reverse.

I've expressed my reservations pretty clearly. Doing so loudly between now and election day isn't a real service to anyone; it brings down the more starry-eyed. I'm enough of a hack to not want to do that -- after all, there's no point to the limited buy-in if the lesser evil doesn't win, is there?

And although virtually every factor works in our favor this year, it's still going to take enthusiastic voter registration and phone calling and house meetings for him to win -- particularly in my neck of the woods, where (incredibly to me) it still appears he has a chance to reverse forty-four years of history.

I expect much, much less in the way of solutions / cleanup / progress in an Obama administration than most other people who've done as much election work as I have -- even if we have a 60-D Senate (now appearing quite possible) and an even bigger-than-now D House majority to work with.

But if it's going to happen, it'll be because labor and antiwar and environmental activists get moving, get their constituencies going, and don't accept b.s. about waiting until 2011 or "not now, the next elections are so crucial" or any of the crap that the insiders will hand out.

We're all entitled to breathe a sigh of relief until about November 10. Then we'd better get the hell to work on outside agitation if we expect even crumbs of change.

Fledermaus: nothing really counts until the convention. I expect McCain to roll out exactly that line then.

I wonder what the wingnut brigades would do if that happened? The sad part is he wouldn't even need to set a timetable once in office - he could change his tune saying although he'd like to withdraw the Hon Rev St Petreus has grave concerns about timetables and we must always, always!, do whatever the generals say. It's not like the Washington Post and the rest of the courtiers would call him on the failure to produce a timetable.

Good lord I'm beginning to agree with Ugh on the merits of a McCain administration. If I can't have bread at least give me my damn circus!

Of course you could look for blogs on Mongolia.

Look for blogs regarding World Cup Soccer. If http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0476240/>Kumar Khan [*] had a blog, that's where I'd look for it.

[*] Great film, by the way!

I hear you, Nell, I've also long been a member of a major political party. Yet, I haven't actively campaigned and probably the main reason for that is (apart from sheer laziness), that I have too much of an individualist/anarchist streak in me to be able to promote a platform or candidates without having to cringe constantly. Heck, I found it rather hard to vote for said party each time I did, even though it comes closest to my general political intuitions, so I probably wouldn't be a very good campaigner anyway.

Bismarck said politics is the art of the possible, yet, it all depends on who defines the boundaries of possibility. In the present case, I think Democrats are a little bit too eager to please and stay calm in order to achieve success in November. I fear they are shooting themselves in the foot by supporting policies they don't really stand behind and it will come back to haunt them. Also, the US electorate seems to have rather diverse views that don't necessarily fit into any 'centrist' scheme (e.g. on Afghanistan: yeah, there is a Dem majority for the current Dem policy, but it's very slim and had the Dems proposed the opposite, the results might well show the reverse.)

The Republicans (Lieberman included) are really playing up the magical surge. This just in from Steve Benen:

The president spoke briefly this morning from the White House, heralding the “success of the surge” for creating “sustained progress” in Iraq. Soon after, Joe Lieberman announced that he and Lindsey Graham are “introducing a resolution recognizing the strategic success that the surge has achieved in a central front — the central front of the war on terror against the enemies who attacked America on 9/11/01, and expressing our thanks to our troops who’ve made that success possible.”


The magical surge -- the answer to all of life's woes.

Maybe Lieberman and Graham could see to it that Congress passes an energy bill before it goes on summer break.

McCain, Lieberman and Graham -- the Manny, Moe and Jack of the Republican Party. Maybe it's time they took another trip to Columbia.

Chris Hedges is one. Who are some others, Eric? Because without more to go on, I'm going to regard references to "Naderites" intended to strike fear in Democratic hearts as so much fearmongering.

This is one of those cases where I sincerely hope that I was right, and that Nader will either not run, or if he does, will not receive enough votes to swing any state.

Also: It is my sincere hope that I misread the situation and that there are no people on the left (other than Nader himself I suppose) that are pushing the line that there is no difference between O and Mac.

Seriously. I hope I'm just stuck in the past.

"This is one of those cases where I sincerely hope that I was right, and that Nader will either not run,"

You mean withdraw? He's been running for quite some time. With the cited 6% support.

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