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NFL Playoff Thread

[ 17 ] January 12, 2008 |

There’s probably not much point in detailed explanations for each game, because my take mirrors the consensus so closely. I don’t see either AFC game as being competitive, and don’t think Jacksonville and (especially) the Chargers — probably without Gates and definitely with Norv Turner — will even cover the large spreads. The Giants/Cowboys game is tricky, and not only because if forces me to cheer for the Giants. If healthy, the Cowboys will win easily, but if Romo and Owens are a lot less than 100% — who knows. Given Owens’s performance after a much more serious injury in the Super Bowl and because I don’t believe in Manning (although he did play very well last week, and the Cowboys are vulnerable to his ability to hit Burress deep) I’d pick the Cowboys to cover, but I wouldn’t actually bet on the game unless you had some inside injury information.

Which leaves us with Seattle/Green Bay. While the Seahawks used to be very underrated, that’s no longer really the case; they seem to be a trendy upset pick. Based strictly on this year’s performance, that’s probably not really justified; the Packers have been better against a much tougher schedule. And Hasselbeck’s performance against the Redskins doesn’t inspire confidence. If I wanted to be optimistic, I would say that 1)the biggest difference between this Seattle team and the Super Bowl team is that the pass defense is better and the running game is worse, and in the modern game the former is a lot more important, and 2)they have a high-INT secondary against a QB prone to making low-odds throws. On the other hand, Green Bay seems to have the ability to neutralize Seattle’s pass rush, which is a serious problem. I guess I’d take the 8 points and pick Seattle, but probably expect Green Bay to win the game outright.

…can’t complain about that start!

…Except for the whole Deion Branch getting injured thing.

Matthews Misogyny

[ 9 ] January 12, 2008 |

It’s good that the severe gender issues of MSNBC’s election night anchor are finally getting some attention. The whole piece is worth reading, but I think Jamison Foer makes the key point here:

Think about this for a second: Chris Matthews is holding it against Hillary Clinton that her husband cheated on her. But he doesn’t hold it against John McCain and Rudy Giuliani that they cheated on their spouses. Matthews seems to think women are to blame when their husbands have affairs — and men who cheat on their spouses are blameless.

And then there’s Matthews’ fixation on Hillary Clinton’s “ambition.” In December 1999, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson appeared on Hardball to discuss Clinton’s Senate campaign. Matthews asked Wolfson eight consecutive questions about whether Clinton was “ambitious.” Finally, Matthews said, “People who seek political power are ambitious by definition,” leading Wolfson to tell him: “if you say so. If it will make you happy, I’ll agree.” If Matthews has ever displayed as much interest in the “ambition” of male candidates like John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, or Mike Huckabee, he has done so in private.

Right. Somehow St. McCain’s extensive adultery, benefiting from family connections, and ambition strong enough that according to Matt Welch’s new book he bought a house in an Arizona congressional district the day the incumbent retired never get Matthews’s attention, but the fact that Clinton’s husband committed adultery is supposed to be a major issue. And I don’t mean to say that there’s anything wrong with ignoring these aspects of McCain — accusing a presidential candidate of ambition is tautological — but the double standard couldn’t be more glaring.

The Vote Fraud Fraud

[ 2 ] January 11, 2008 |

More from Amanda Terkel.

The Case Against Clinton

[ 59 ] January 11, 2008 |

Publius, while accepting the validity of grievances against the frequently sexist coverage of her campaign, tries to make it. To me, #1 remains the most persuasive. I think Obama might have a marginally more progressive domestic policy, but the differences are narrow enough that this could be mistaken. But it’s hard for me to get around the fact that Clinton completely botched the most important issue of the Bush era. (Moreover, I’m not willing to assume that her vote for the war was an “insincere political gamble;” that’s possible, but I think we have to accept the possibility that she voted for the war because she supported the war.) See also Ann Friedman on this issue.

And her pro-war vote is not merely problematic on the merits; it’s also bad politics. On the “Clinton electability” issue, as Ygelsias says Drum is narrowly right but takes on only the weakest version of the argument. I have never argued that Clinton is “unelectable,” and it’s likely that the structural conditions in November will make any Democratic candidate a favorite over any Republican. But this doesn’t mean that Clinton/McCain isn’t the worst plausible matchup for the Democrats. And even assuming that head-to-head polls aren’t useful at this point, the fact that Clinton took the Republican position on the most important issue and hence will be unable to exploit an issue that should favor the Dems will surely be a problem. And there are a variety of other areas in which Obama has more upside. Obama has the ability to mobilize voters who generally turn out in relatively smaller numbers, while Clinton’s core constituency (older women) already votes at disproportionately high levels. And while we don’t know for certain that Obama’s lower negatives and favorable media coverage will hold up, the worst that can happen is dropping to Clinton’s levels, and it’s more likely that he would be a better candidate than Clinton in those areas. (And I’m not arguing that conservatives won’t attack Obama; the question is how much right-wing critiques will penetrate the mainstream media and swing voters.)

Now, if you want to argue that given a candidate than can win a primary “electability” is just too unpredictable a factor to be meaningful, that’s fair enough; but I don’t really see a good progressive case for Clinton on the merits either.

"I’m not a Hillary supporter, but …"

[ 13 ] January 10, 2008 |

Rebecca Traister explains her one-day support for Clinton in response to her sexist trashing by the media. Violet Socks describes it in fiction form.

While it’s hard to establish definitively, it does seem likely that the egregious sexism of the media played at least some role in Clinton’s win.

…relatedly, a blogger at Swampland (via) is inventing a mythical catfight between Pelosi and Clinton because…another (male) member of Congress endorsed Obama. I’m serious. Expect her on the Times op-ed page — if it’s still in business — within the decade unless they decide to give it to Althouse or Camille Paglia instead. The first commenter: “Someday political historians will write books on the damage done to political journalism by the legacy of Maureen Dowd. This will be good for at least a footnote for somebody.” Indeed.

The NYT Against LBJ

[ 33 ] January 10, 2008 |

The NYT has a very strange criticism of Hillary Clinton, which was also made by Dowd on Monday:

Why Mrs. Clinton would compare herself to Mr. Johnson, who escalated the war in Vietnam into a generational disaster, was baffling enough. It was hard to escape the distasteful implication that a black man needed the help of a white man to effect change.

Sandy Levinson has the appropriate response:

I find this astonishingly ignorant and, indeed, almost offensive. Speaking as someone who opposed the Vietnam War and published (with Doris Kearns) an article in The New Republic suggesting that the left organize a third party in order to assure the defeat of President Johnson should he run again in 1968, I have no problem describing the war in Vietnam as “a generational disaster.” That being said, I also believe that Lyndon B. Johnson was, by a large measure, the greatest domestic policy president in our history, at least as significant as FDR as an agent of “change” (the mantra of the day). Indeed, he gave the single greatest speech of any president in my lifetime, the “we shall overcome” speech when he introduced the Voting Rights Act in1965 following the Selma debacle and, more to the point, accepted the death of the Democratic Party in which he had thrived precisely by pushing for the full inclusion of African-Americans in the polity. Those who believe that the Supreme Court is unique in being a “forum of principle” might ask themselves if anything other than principle is a better explanation of Johnson’s willingness to jettison the Democratic Party as it then existed.

Perhaps the Times’ editorial writer is simply appallingly ignorant of that aspect of the Johnson presidency. There is a lot of nostalgia being expressed these days for JFK. He didn’t hold a candle to Johnson as an agent of genuine domestic change. Why can’t the Times recognize that, even if it wants, altogether properly, to go on to say that the tragedy of LBJ was his inability/unwillingness to accept American defeat in Vietnam (perhaps itself based on “principle,” which proves, among other things, that “principled” commitments are not necessarily worthy of support)?

Clinton is open to criticism on a number of fronts, but to praise LBJ in the context of civil rights is entirely unobjectionable.

On the Voter ID Case

[ 5 ] January 10, 2008 |

I have more thoughts here.

You’re Going To Make Me Support Clinton

[ 15 ] January 9, 2008 |

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Maureen Dowd’s presence in the Times‘s op-ed pages is an absolute disgrace. Molly, Lance, Echidne, Kevin, and Jill pile on to spare me the trouble of doing so again. If she was smarter, I would swear that MoDo was acting as a double agent for the Clinton campaign, but I think she really is a vapid misogynist. And while this is bad enough in itself, the fact that she seems to fill “liberal” and (gulp) “feminist” slots for the editors makes it even worse (and more damaging.)

Relatedly, Atrios has the video of the Maddow/Tweety exchange that a couple commenters mentioned.

The Important Thing Is That People Who Do Bad Things Not Be Blamed For Them

[ 4 ] January 9, 2008 |

Shorter Wanker Unity 08!: The Republican Party has destroyed America’s political reputation, screwed up the budget, and accelerating global warming. The only way to solve these problems is for more Republicans to retain power when Democrats take over.

Rudy!Mentum

[ 9 ] January 9, 2008 |

Since I fell for the spin myself, I should note that Rudy! did not in fact skip New Hampshire; he spent more time and money there than anyone except Romney. Which makes his barely finishing ahead of Ron Paul especially embarrassing. And then there’s the Florida firewall! In fairness, at least he didn’t finish behind Lyndon LaRouche and Al Koholic, like Fred “Campaign at Bernie’s” Thompson.

Obviously, the GOP race now is a 3-man one. And having been burned once I’m going to stick with my prediction that Romney is the most likely winner; McCain’s win wasn’t terribly impressive how favorable New Hampshire is for him, and a lot of the conservative base doesn’t like him. Romney will have by far the most resources and was the only one who was competitive in both Iowa and New Hampshire. I wouldn’t be surprised by McCain, either, and it would be unwise to write Huckabee off entirely, but Romney is the single most likely.

Ack

[ 11 ] January 9, 2008 |

Apparently Clinton has won outright. Basically a the worst plausible outcome from my perspective; Clinton wins despite expectations of a loss, Edwards obviously can’t win the nomination but is strong enough to throw the nomination to Clinton, and the Republican candidate who would be strongest in a general election got enough independent votes to win as well as to torpedo Obama. Well, as little sense as it makes to nominate both the most conservative and most electorally vulnerable major candidate, Clinton would certainly be better than the ’04 nominee, and now that I’m overwhelmingly convinced that she’ll win she’s probably in trouble again…

Whoops!

[ 0 ] January 9, 2008 |

I probably should have reverted to my prior skepticism about how much bounce Obama would get out of new Hampshire. I still expect Obama to win narrowly, but…

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