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September 08, 2008

Comments

Is kenB the same person as ken, and if so, how many personalities are involved?

I am "kenB" the longtime (but now somewhat estranged, and somewhat strange) ObWi community member. "ken" is not me, nor I him. At least as far as I know.

"Also to keep in mind when comparing Palin and Obama, is that Obama writes his own speeches."

Mostly.

Did you read the article you linked to, Gary? Obama writes the rough dafts, his crew polishes it up, and he approves the final version.

Do you feel that "mostly" is an inadequate description? If not, what's your point?

"What is Obama doing wrong?"

I'm pretty sure that's not the right question. It seems that Obama is waging an entirely different campaign than the GOP ticket - different, in fact, from any other Presidential campaign in memory.

I say "the GOP ticket, "rather than "McCain/Palin," because Palin's the one filling the seats, drawing the crowds, and exciting the voters. McCain is practically invisible. People have already commented, and not always in jest, that the ticket should be, or has been, switched to Palin/McCain.

The GOP is selling Palin, not McCain. The GOP wants people to focus on the trash-talking, gun-toting, doin' it her way hottie. And, yes, the sales pitch goes no deeper than that.

Obama, OTOH, is doing what he did during the primary: localizing the election. He and Biden are going from state to state, giving speeches that emphasize issues important to the voters in those states. The campaign's national ads are juxtaposed with ads that are written for, and aired in, specific states. And his campaign continues to build the GOTV infrastructure in state by state, a technique that served him very well in the primaries.

Where the GOP is, for all intents and purposes, selling a hot new TV show, Obama is running almost a guerilla campaign, of local issues, town halls, and speeches that mix snappy rhetoric with substance.

Will that work? I honestly have no idea.

I can see the attraction of doing it that way. Obama doesn't compete with Palin for coverage by a national press which is at best ADHD and at worse in the tank for the GOP. He focuses on local news coverage, which by virtue of the fact that it isn't part of the "cocktail weenie circuit" is ergo less compromised. He focuses on meeting and greeting voters ("live and in person!"), which might make a more meaningful and long-lasting impression.

But that kind of campaigning is, one, very expensive and two, personally grueling. He and Biden can keep going as long as they have the money and the energy - both of which, fortunately, seem to still be in abundant supply. And like I said, I can't think of any recent Presidential Campaign that was run that way, much less won that way.

Yet it worked for him during the primaries. And since the electoral votes will be tallied state by state, maybe a state-by state campaign makes sense.

The thing is... Obama is smart. His campaign is run by smart people. They know more about what they're doing than I do, and they probably know more about what they're doing than the pollsters and pundits (when's the last time the pundits were right - about anything?)

Back in January, I decided to make a leap of faith and support Obama - hoping he could do better than Clinton to transform American politics into something we could be proud of. That meant trusting his and his campaign's judgment, even when people panicked that he wasn't beating Clinton often enough or by large enough margins.

I'm going to continue trusting his and his campaign's judgment. They've been right so far.

And clearly, Turb, the fact that Obama has come in for any quantity of criticism at all and that McCain has had any non-insulting words at all from the general community here is clearly adequate proof that there's no bias whatsoever.

But wait, I know of a righty blog that has actually defended Obama on a few points and attacked McCain on others, so that means that those folks are entirely fair as well, but yet that community has a radically different overall appraisal of the two candidates than this one!! How is this possible??

"Blacks mostly voted for him out of racial solidarity."

That's why John Kerry got 88% of the African-American vote in 2004, and Al Gore got 90% in 2000, as well.

"A lot of young people voted for him because it was the cool faddish thing to do."

I'd ask you for a cite to prove this that didn't come out of a bodily orifice, but you won't have one; but, go on: surprise me.

Apologies, kenB. I was confused because you were replying in a thread you hadn't previously participated in. I do remember you, but I confess the memories are a bit jumbled by the occasional appearances of ken (however many of those there have been). If one of you were capitalized I wouldn't have had the problem.

"Were you asleep during the primary campaign?"

It will do no good whatever to point out to you that your entire response, as are just about all your responses, are content-free, consisting of no verifiable facts, but simply your imaginings, which you cite as if they were objective.

If you ever want to convince someone of something, try presenting evidence that that consists of something outside of your head. Your own characterizations of what you subjectively imagine are no more convincing of anything than anyone else's.

Comments with no semantic content won't get you very far. Maybe someday you and other trolls will realize this, but I won't hold my breath.

KC, it was a poorly-chosen handle, made back when I didn't expect to be commenting anywhere consistently enough to be a known entity. But I can't bear the thought of changing it now, so clearly the other ken will have to choose a new handle.

"Yes Obama played the race card against Clinton. It's already in the history books."

Name three textbooks that say so. Oh, let's not be picky: name a single textbook used in a public school system in any state that says "Barack Obama played the race card in 2008 against Hilary Clinton." Whatever that means.

And carry on using argument-by-assertion. It's soooooo convincing.

Equally convincing: "ken has a giant lump of cheese in his head instead of a brain. It's already in the history books."

Now you say: Does not, and I'll say "does soooo!"

And we'll be arguing on an equal level.

Then you can step next door, and try abuse, since pure assertion has (surprise!) failed you. Troll.

Warra,

Yes Obama played the race card against Clinton. It's already in the history books. Read all about it when you get to college.

But the more important point of this entire conversation is that Obama voters are just as shallow as are Palin voters.

In spite of their star quality crowd pleasing rah rahs, neither one has the experience or qualifications required to be our president. But, like Bush before them, if their campaigns can bamboozle enough people one of them might actually find themselves in the Oval Office some day.

I shudder when I think of the stupidity of my fellow citizens.

kea,
to respond to each of your paragraphs in turn:

1) I'm glad you're so certain that "Obama played the race card". Others might have a more mixed recollection, but I'm sure that as you inform them of your certitude they will realize their error. I am unfamiliar with the "history books" of which you write. If anyone has already published a book about this campaign, it seems to me they have rather missed the ends of a few important stories. Your allegations about my educational level are unnecessary, condescending, and (if it matters) wildly inaccurate. Like many denizens of the blogosphere, I am, if anything, overeducated. The relevance of your dismissive statement is questionable; I've certainly known rational and irrational and informed and uninformed people of various educational levels.

2) You assert that Obama voters are just as shallow as Palin voters. I'm sure some are. I am entirely unaware of any data indicating that Obama's supporters are less aware of their candidate's positions on the issues than are supporters of any other candidate. Maybe you'd care to substantiate?

3) I'm not aware that Obama's qualifications are so markedly less than those of John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, or, yes, George W Bush. Frankly, Obama is not necessarily less qualified than Hillary Clinton. In any case, qualifications aren't everything - Dick Cheney was massively qualified, after all. There's also the question of why these people want to be President, what they intend to do in office. We have a fair idea of both with Obama, much less so for Palin - or, in fact, for McCain.

4) I also am sorry for the stupidity of my fellow Americans. I would hope that most people who saw the 2004 elections would feel this keenly. However, unless you intended to link this sentiment to your opinion of your fellow commenters, a temptation I am trying to resist, I'm not entirely sure how germane this is.

And clearly, Turb, the fact that Obama has come in for any quantity of criticism at all and that McCain has had any non-insulting words at all from the general community here is clearly adequate proof that there's no bias whatsoever.

I read this as suggesting that we should be striving for zero-bias. Is that correct?

Assuming it is, why exactly should we be bias free? Making judgments is important. If I see repeated evidence that McCain is unprepared to govern competently, why shouldn't I examine new stories with that knowledge in mind? I know that High Broderism can lead to leg tingling, but really, does it have any other benefits?

Now, to the extent that bias causes people to make incorrect decisions, it can be problematic. But I haven't seen tons of evidence that people at OW consistently get incorrect results because of their "bias".

"And clearly, Turb, the fact that Obama has come in for any quantity of criticism at all and that McCain has had any non-insulting words at all from the general community here is clearly adequate proof that there's no bias whatsoever."

Bias and opinion are not, it turns out, the same thing.

KenB, if I had it to do over again, I'd probably choose a different handle as well. Now that the distinction has been made obvious, I won't have any further confusion (unless another kenB shows up).

The sad thing is, I chose my nom-de-blog-comment as a sarcastic swipe against the Bush administration's war-on-an-abstract-noun more than six years ago and the darn thing is still relevant. This is not a good thing. If we get some sane policies in the years ahead, maybe my pseudonym will become nonsensical ... but after all this time I'm used to it.

"KenB, if I had it to do over again, I'd probably choose a different handle as well."

Not me!

Gary, I remember feeling irritated when lots of people with fake names started showing up on Usenet (and especially when people with fake addresses did), but somewhere along the line I joined the crowd in having a handle for blog comments. Sometimes I think about changing, but losing my history is a significant price.

Warren Terra: Here's a link re: expiration of Bush tax cuts: http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2002/06useconomics_gale.aspx

They all expire in 2010. I think the estate tax gets the most attention b/c it was gradually reduced from 45% (i think) in 2001 to 0% in 2009, and is set to revert to 45% in 2010. I think the current exemption is 1.5MM.

Of course, Obama has not definitively stated that he will make the tax cuts permanent for anyone, as that would be political suicide. Rather, he has focused on the fact that in '09 he will be cutting taxes for "95% of Americans." This hasn't really been picked up by MSM b/c let's face it, President Obama would be killer ratings.

Farber: then it must be just as hard to take JB seriously for assuming that i wouldn't vote for someone on the basis of ethnicity. and you have to admit: some people are strangely attached to barry obama, despite a lack of experience, mealy-mouthed answers to some basic questions, a tendency to get flustered in debates, and a very disappointing decision to go back on his pledge to accept federal matching funds.

JB: I don't know how much clearer I can make my preferences known. The problem is: I don't pull the master DEM or GOP lever. Once i find a a candidate who will provide health care to everyone, respects the environment, is pro-life, understands the role of diplomacy and war, and doesn't say "nuculur" then I'm on board. Until then, I'm stuck trolling liberal blogs. clear enough?

Thank you Publius. Exactly right.

I am especially disturbed by normally thoughtful Republican voices who jumped on the Palin bandwagon without a second thought (I'm talking about you, Ross Douthat).

American politics aren't all surface, they are just 51% surface and that is bad enough to elect people like GWB and McCain.

To paraphrase the great Billmon after the 2004 national embarrassment:

- I used to think we need a new government. Now I realize what we need is a new population. -

So, if I got NWNHNH right, two propositions:

1) Obama has a tax plan for 2009 but intends in 2010 to impose the income taxes last seen in 2001. This despite the fact that George W Bush and the current congress determine the tax plan for 2009; Obama can't. Estate taxes aren't relevant to 95% of taxpayers. I don't know what happened to capital gain taxes with Bush's plan, and your link did not sapidly enlighten me; you might be on firmer ground there, although most Americans don't pay a lot of capital gains taxes in most years. Otherwise, I'm pretty sure you're just wrong.

2) As I see your list of priorities, you're with Obama, roughly speaking, on four (health care, environment, diplomacy, and not seeming dumb), and if I'm generous you're with McCain on two (abortion, not seeming like an idiot). That doesn't mean you should side with Obama - maybe abortion is very important to you. Maybe I misunderstood. Maybe there are additional issues. But it certainly doesn't seem to explain your vehemence, your apparent visceral dislike of Obama.

Here's a suggestion: if you want to appear like a reasonable interlocutor, avoid stressing Obama's middle name, avoid calling him "Barry", try not to visibly obsess over the persistent rumors he's a Muslim Manchurian Candidate. Show some evenhandedness, even if it's a front so as to troll better.

A suggestion to add to Warren Terra's list: don't refer to Obama (or anyone else) as "your messiah."

And clearly, Turb, the fact that Obama has come in for any quantity of criticism at all and that McCain has had any non-insulting words at all from the general community here is clearly adequate proof that there's no bias whatsoever.

Oh, you're looking for Naked David Broder. He's down the hall.

NWNHNH:

JB: I don't know how much clearer I can make my preferences known. The problem is: I don't pull the master DEM or GOP lever. Once i find a a candidate who will provide health care to everyone, respects the environment, is pro-life, understands the role of diplomacy and war, and doesn't say "nuculur" then I'm on board. Until then, I'm stuck trolling liberal blogs. clear enough?

So the major sticking point is finding a pro-life candidate who meets the other requirements? Since there are shades of gray here, would you care to flesh out your requirements for a candidate to clear this bar? This surely doesn't imply that there is a current candidate who clears it and also satisfies your other criteria, but it would give the other posters here a clearer idea of where you are coming from.

Interraction and conversation are, of course, optional... but how rewarding, really, is trolling?

"Until then, I'm stuck trolling liberal blogs. clear enough?"

I believe you.

Since many of us have reacted to the tightening race today by prematurely starting that election year ritual wherein we lament both the idiocy of a public that falls for "surface politics" and the castrated campaigns run by our candidates, I was thinking today of what it would be like if there were a D equivalent of Steve Schmidt running the show. After not much time thinking about the campaign this imaginiary team would have run, a narrative emerged that struck me as a winner.

Why have we allowed the right to label BO the candidate of ambition when the story of the last eight years is how Mr. Country First sold out to every fringe element of his party in order to get a shot at the presidency. Sure, people have touched on it here an there, but shouldn't this have been a much stronger focus from the start? Now that we've let him get this far with his maverick self-image largely intact, he's successfully changing the narrative of the whole race. The professionals on the other side would never have let our guy get that far. Instead of proclaiming in speech after speech how much respect he's owed, and what a friend he is to all of us, we could have cracked a knee cap or two by pointing out how he'll do anything to win the presidency. But no, that's just another arrow in the other side's quiver now.

NWNHNH: Once i find a a candidate who will provide health care to everyone, respects the environment, is pro-life, understands the role of diplomacy and war, and doesn't say "nuculur" then I'm on board.

People who believe in forced pregnancy are generally not in favor of providing health care to everyone (it goes with the territory - if you care about people enough that you want to make sure they get health care, you generally care about them enough not to want to force them through pregnancy and childbirth against their will) so I think you're on to a losing wicket, there.

People who mispronounce nuclear are annoying to listen to.

Well, the GOP has noticed the nukkular problem and now puts new-clear on the teleprompter. Who could be against new and clear (if not new and clean) power?

"Who could be against new and clear (if not new and clean) power?"

What's wrong with a little old-fashioned, foggy, steampunk power now and again?

Can't we be for both? (the Paris Hilton platform)

everything is surface. The surface is what's there
and nothing can exist except what's there.

Btw, who let this ugly French word into English?

Here I am eating my morning oatmeal, flipping between ESPN2 and MSNBC and I stick with MSNBC once I see they are covering a speech on education by Barack Obama live.

Obama was in mid-attack on John McCain, charging that he hasn't done anything about education in three decades as a Senator and that voters shouldn't thing he'll change as President. I'm thinking, "This is good."

Then -- presto, change-o -- no more Obama: MSNBC switches to a rally in Lebanon, Ohio, where an impressive overflow crowd is listening to Sarah Palin and I'm thinking a guy can't even eat his morning oatmeal without Sarah intruding. She's everywhere.

But she's good. The crowd is chanting: "Sar-ah, Sar-ah, Sar-ah."

I never remember a McCain rally this enthusiastic pre-Palin. I never remember a network breaking in for McCain while Obama was speaking pre-Palin (usually it was the other way around; so, indeed, what goes around comes around).

My oatmeal doesn't taste so good when I here Palin giving the same questionable lines. She gets a big response when she says she was against The Bridge To Nowhere and I'm started to think, "Will the 2008 presidential election be decided by the damn Bridge To Nowhere."

Palin charges that Obama was an amazing earmark abuser. The crowd clearly wishes she were the top of the ticket, not McCain, who watches on admiringly.

MSNBC has forgotten all about Obama, kind of like how I forgot about my oatmeal. Poor Obama -- upstaged again by someone we didn't even know about two weeks ago. Is this really happening?

McCain finally talks -- and he mostly talks about Sarah Palin.

Palin. Palin. Palin.

The star of what they are calling "The McCain Street Rally."

The star of Surface Politics.

For now.

Warren Terra/Janie M: it's no fun if i can't be snarky. I have no visceral dislike... i'm just pointing out that it seems odd to argue that a reason to vote for the democratic nominee for president is that he was able to secure the democratic nomination for president. i know you slice it thinner, but i don't see much of a difference.

One final point on this front: NYTimes is reporting today that Obama isn't raising anywhere near what he thought he would when he made the decision to forego federal matching funds. This could be a fatal error, and one that indicates incredibly poor judgment.

As for the taxes, you'll note that the link states that bush's 01 and 03 tax cuts sunset in 2010. in fact, obama recently hinted that he MIGHT temporarily extend the tax cuts. http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5isOFwdbq0tsqatW6vJpkDRTI1gMgD931VT500.

McCain favors making the 01 and 03 tax cuts permanent, for better or worse. You're absolutely right about the estate tax, and I agree that the impact of an increase in the capital gains rate on the middle class is overstated. But that wasn't really my point. All 01 and 03 tax cuts will expire in 2010.

CMatt: i'd care not to delve do deeply into the abortion issue b/c a debate on that issue will be mired in insults and false assumptions (see eg, Jesurgislac post). suffice it to say that anyone who considers himself pro-life would have a problem with a candidate who stated that his "first act" as president would be to codify roe (although, congress would lack the constitutional authority to do so); who has failed to support the infamous born alive bills while in the Illinois senate; and who speaks of his daughter being punished by an unwanted child.

it seems odd to argue that a reason to vote for the democratic nominee for president is that he was able to secure the democratic nomination for president.

It seems odd to vote for a candidate who was unable to secure the nomination, but maybe I'm just quirky like that.

bonzo, wait two weeks -- if this keeps happening, the right move will be to ask "Where's John?" And tie it in with his absence on important wallet issues.

CaseyL, agreed, the Obama campaign has played a very smart long game so far, and has ramped up appropriately at each stage. They need to make a big push now, and we can only hope they know how.

NYNHNH, I think you're asking good questions and criticisms about Obama's inexperience and occasional reversals. I like Obama a lot, but he's not my dream candidate either -- but of course, nobody ever will be. Still, he seems solidly better than McCain to me. I'd like to hear what you think of McCain, in light of your list of desires and dislikes.

For instance, you say they have about the same position on Iraq "so what's the point?" I would say, the point is that the way they reached that position shows a lot about how they're going to handle--or even create--the next crisis. McCain came around to something like Obama's position slowly, after his usual belligerent and imperialist start. I'm using those terms precisely in their dictionary sense: McCain threatens force freely, and is very optimistic about our ability to win a war (still thinks we should have won Vietnam, for instance); wants to expand our global military presence with permanent bases and NATO growth; and still hasn't really backed down from the hope that we can keep a base or two in Iraq after withdrawal.

I have a problem with that. I'm not a peacenik, my problem is that muscular world dominance is not sustainable. It used to work really well for us, especially when the alternative to us was the Soviet bogeyman: we could bully other countries into captive markets and sweetheart resource deals. But these days, we are making enemies who threaten our oil and can even reach us at home, we have serious competiton for our goods, no bogeyman to threaten with, and we are piling up debt and shredding our social safety net to pay for the military just to stay more or less even. Worse, it makes it nearly impossible to control WMD or fix the environment, which could easily kill us all in the next 50 years or so if we don't get a handle on them starting yesterday. I don't think McCain can see that his paradigm cannot work any more.

If that's right, then exact details of health insurance, and even abortion, are, frankly, deck chairs on the Titanic.

NWNHNH, your 2:20 post came while I was writing mine, so let me add a short response:

seems odd to argue that a reason to vote for the democratic nominee for president is that he was able to secure the democratic nomination for president.

It would, but I don't think that's the argument. Lots of people have won a nomination because they were anointed by the party leadership (both Bushes), because their opponents self-destructed, or because they were obviously way more qualified or telegenic. Obama won despite some horrific disadvantages (inexperience, skin color, the unsmooth impromptu speech style you mentioned, and the opposition of the Party old guard both at the national and each-state level). He did it by good organization and strategy, and he ran an amazingly 'clean' campaign in terms of personal attacks. This is why I, personally, find his campaign a very promising sign.

Not sure what your point is about the tax cuts. They will sunset = Obama will raise them? That's an odd definition of "raise," and it's not a secret that they will sunset.

There's issues here, but the issues are the treatment of women by the radical right churches and firearms (Palin is the NRA/ILA candidate). All those right-wing women who support Palin genuinely believe that, somehow, voting for her represents a valid expression of their moral authority. The reality of course is that Palin is interested only in herself (and perhaps her family and close friends), and this will eventually come out, but I would prefer it come out before the election.

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