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August 27, 2008


Rachel Maddow was pretty disappointed about Warner's keynote - what did you think?

The presidential race is not about individuals, but about the institutional composition of the executive branch

I dunno. Bush and Cheney personally did an awful lot of damage. Cheney, by his unique way of dealing with the CIA, made its institutional competency basically irrelevant. And according to Woodward's book, a lot of the trouble with the Iraqi occupation was that, having made the decision to invade, Bush basically dumped everything in Rumsfeld's lap and went off to play golf, without ever making it clear to Rumsfeld what the job was. Rumsfeld, who hates and resents the concepts of nation-building and occupation, put a large "Somebody Else's Problem" field around those parts of the job -- and nobody else had the authority to pick it up. Rumsfeld is reportedly competent in his limited field: a good administrator and procurement manager, sound ideas on blitzkrieg tactics, but hopeless at governance and an inveterate turf-warrior. He needed to be sat upon, and Bush refused to bother. That's not about the institutional competence of the branch, that's a one-man failure.

Shorter: I don't care how many geniuses an idiot hires, he'll still act like a fool.

Solution: Govern like Kerry on a panel, Campaign like a frat big brother during rush.

Basically my theory is that sophisticated political argument is ineffectual. Anyone mentally engaged enough to comprehend these arguments probably has a set of ideological priotories and has the mental agility to rationalize away even powerful arguments from the other side.

True swing voters are "low information" voters, or in the words of Gene Wilder from
"Blazing Saddles" they're "simple people, people of the land...you know, morons"

So it follows that for your campaign you need to talk on their level.

....and this is how journalists who cover politics feel, and why they believe stupid insinuations are a story and reasoned responses are not stories.

No reasoned response totally blunts an attack. The only thing you can do is come up with attacks that disqualify your opponent even more than he is trying to disqualify you. To make your attack into an effective one, it has to be stupid and over-the-top, it has to be crass enough to offend your intellectual sensibilities. Only then will it be comprehensible to low-information voters and be treated as a campaign story by the press.

Bill Clinton just started explaining why conservative ideology sucks.

This is awesome. I've been waiting for this for years.

Hey, Kerry just said "torture"! Is that the first mention at this convention?

Clinton said torture too.

But Kerry is owning. This is great! Calling McCain out on his Georgia bullshit.

"Talk about before it before he was against it. John McCain should have a debate with himself." Loving it.

Kerry's doing pretty well, I think.

Bill Clinton is wonderful, as much as I hated him during the primaries. I listened to him and remembered how happy I was, how secure I felt, how simple it was to have him as President. Sure, I disagreed with him on a few things, but he is brilliant and rational. What a comfort. He nails it when he speaks (and I heard him live once on some more specific issues, and he was out of the park then). I forgave him for all of his sexual transgressions and I'll even forgive him for the primary transgressions IF OBAMA WINS.

Mark Warner? He was my Governor, and he's a great guy for Virginia. He'll be a wonderful Senator. We hope he grows in office, because I'm tired of the business analogies.

Kerry was awesome.

Unfortunately I missed the first part of Bill's speech. I went to a watch party that ended up being a bust and didn't get back home in time. From what I caught, it seems I should track down the beginning online later. I'm glad my worries about him were unwarranted.

I agree with Sapient that the Clintons are forgiven, provided Obama wins. In fact, they're forgiven if Obama loses badly. If he loses narrowly, though, that's a different story. Of course I was already feeling that way before this week.

I give you most of this, publius:

The panel also drove home the absurdity of focusing on personalities rather than on institutional differences. The presidential race is not about individuals, but about the institutional composition of the executive branch. If Obama (or any Democrat wins), it means that the foreign policy wing of the executive branch will be filled with the smart, sane people that I heard this morning — people like Kerry, people like Anne Marie Slaughter.

but not 'absurd.' you know as well as anyone that the president's voice carries the force of law.

for good reason, character counts.

I was very pleased with Kerry on one big thing, and very displeased with him on another.

It was great to hear a major American politician say, on prime-time TV, "President Obama and Vice President Biden will shut down Guantanamo, respect the Constitution, and make clear once and for all, the United States of America does not torture, not now, not ever."

It was less great to hear him say, 30 seconds or so earlier, "Iran is defiantly chasing [nuclear weapons]." Not according to the NIE on Iran late last year, they're not. The claim is unfortunately also baked right in to the Democratic platform, and I'd like to hear a leading Democrat explain that in light of the NIE.

Here is Bill Clinton's speech for you, KCinDC (and everyone else). Here is a moment of Joe Biden. Here is afterward. Here is the whole Joe Biden speech.

Sorry, that was only the first four and a half minutes of Bill. Here is the second and last ten minutes, and here is the first ten minutes.

It was less great to hear him say, 30 seconds or so earlier, "Iran is defiantly chasing [nuclear weapons]."

good ear, Thomas. I missed that. and the utterance is unfortunate and needless.

I was sorry too to hear Biden make a stink about Georgia.

I detest when Democrats try to out react the reactionaries, like this.

If I didn't know better, I'd think America was some marginal power surrounded by hostile neighbors.

I want people to vote for Barack because I think his weakness plays into our strength: he'll be slow to pull the trigger.

Still, and I don't see how it can be said too often: Kerry almost certainly won.

The 2004 election was rigged to deliver to Bush/Cheney.

The rigging worked because Kerry couldn't achieve a large enough margin of victory in key states to overcome the vote-rigging. But, as far as anyone can tell past the fog that obscures US election results, he did win.

In so many ways, dishonest elections are bad for politics, but especially bad when the result is that it's claimed a campaign like Bush and Cheney ran in 2000 or 2004 is the only way to win - even though, both years, they lost.

I'm not real familiar with her myself, but not everyone is a fan of Anne Marie-Slaughter--

Greenwald's opinion

The 2004 election was rigged to deliver to Bush/Cheney.

New revelations from the former Diebold, via Bruce Schneier. A subtle networking misfeature that tended to drop votes in larger jurisdictions, which tend to be urban and, in Ohio, Democratic.

"True swing voters are 'low information' voters . . .

Just got around to reading it -- nice post, spockamok.

I think this is why -- all protests to the contrary -- negative ads are said to be effective.

To folks who don't read a website such as this one or never pick up a paper, an effective negative ad probably makes quite an impression.

The debates will be huge but for the atmospherics as much as anything else. We all try to score them and then try to figure out how anyone in their right mind could declare George Bush a winner, not realizing how the so-called low-information voter might have seen Al Gore's affectations as off-putting.

It's funny, and sad, how so many politicians let their hair down -- Kerry, Hillary giving her best speech ever Tuesday night, even Bob Dole -- after they're presidential hopes have been dashed. There's a lesson in there somewhere.

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