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Tag: "2008 campaign"

Deep Breaths

[ 35 ] September 11, 2008 |

For someone who’s been suffering from what Tim Fernholz describes as “inspired anxiety” for the past week, this is worth reading.

Obama is essentially tied in the polls with McCain, even as the Republican senator experiences his convention bounce. These numbers will change with events, especially with the debates, and as the sheen wears off Palin. (A reminder: She has been known nationally for less than two weeks.) Obama has invested in a much larger field operation than McCain. The press seems to be developing a spine, if these comments criticizing the media’s “outrageous” cowering before the McCain campaign from conventional wisdom apparatchik Mark Halperin are any indication.

But it certainly doesn’t help to have Democrats wringing their hands and complaining about problems Obama doesn’t have. Enthusiasm is the big indicator in an election that will ride on turnout, and Democrats have every reason to be enthusiastic.

Howard Wolfson, Hillary Clinton’s spokesperson during the primary campaign, has made this point on his new blog. During the primary race, many counted Obama out, didn’t understand his campaign’s strategy, didn’t think he could keep himself in the race. Clinton adopted Obama’s change rhetoric and attacked him the same way McCain has — on experience and for his eloquence. But Obama and his team hewed to their strategy and pulled out the win. The senator from Illinois is known as a closer, and there is plenty of time left. Keep the faith.


Too Funny

[ 0 ] September 1, 2008 |

Just in case there hasn’t been too much coverage of Sarah Palin here, I thought I’d let everyone know that the word on Alaskan Street is that representatives from the McCain camp have disembarked at a Wasilla hotel, where they’ve rented a handful rooms and will begin doing background research on their Vice Presidential nominee, like, one of these days.

Quick Thoughts on Palin

[ 79 ] August 29, 2008 |

I’m supposed to be finishing my tenure file today and writing syllabi, but seeing as how my presence here as an Alaskan makes me undeservedly relevant for the next ten minutes, I’ll offer some a few local observations about Palin.

  • She’s likable and — for what little it’s actually worth to say this, given the political clown show this state has become — has been a decent governor. I don’t know how much this will actually matter to people in the lower and western 49, since “Alaska” has of late become synonymous with “corruption.”
  • Speaking of which, Palin’s being investigated for pressuring her Public Safety commissioner to fire her sister’s ex-husband, who is a state trooper; when the commissioner didn’t comply, she canned him. Or at least that’s how it appears, since no clear alternative reasons have been offered for his firing. Several of her staffers evidently made calls to the commissioner’s office, insisting that he get rid of the trooper in question; Palin’s husband — who, incidentally, resembles a B-list porn actor — is also alleged to have made calls to the same ends.
  • I don’t think this scandal (if we can call it that) will have much traction nationally, for the same reasons it doesn’t have much traction here. By most accounts Palin’s former brother-in-law was, to use a term of art, a douchebag — and though it looks like she might have abused her office, it’s not as if she was allowing oil executives to remodel her house. Unless we learn that Palin was threatening to have the commissioner’s scrotum turned into a dice bag, no one is going to be driven away from the ticket because of this.
  • The real strike against Palin is that she’s Bobby Jindal without the exorcisms. She’s fanatically anti-choice and believes my wife’s colleagues in the public school system should be teaching their kids to doubt the existence of dinosaurs. Which is of course why she’s with McCain right now in Ohio. She’s not going to yank any women from the Democrats; she’s there to mobilize the nutter base of the Republican party. But since the nutter base of the Republican party will be mobilized enough by the knowledge that Barack Obama drinks pureed fetus each morning before throwing himself prostrate to Mecca, I don’t see how Palin is going to accomplish anything more along these lines.
  • I know this won’t excite DJW, but she puts the lie to McCain’s support for alternative and renewable energy. Palin got a gas pipeline deal — which everyone knew would happen one way or another — but hasn’t departed from the Alaskan motif of sucking everything from the ground before the communists come to snatch our guns away and turn the entire state into a park. She’ll be a boon to the Drill Now/Drink America’ Milkshake sloganeering that McCain will continue to push until November.
  • Sarah Palin is profoundly, staggeringly ignorant about foreign policy. It’s impossible overstate this. When President McCain strokes out over some third-tier international crisis, the erstwhile Mayor of Wasilla will be responsible for bombing Iran, maintaining our century-long imperial project in Mesopotamia, and delivering the severed equine heads to Vladimir Putin’s bed. When it comes to foreign policy, this is one of the great throwaway VP picks in recent American history.

….for those who care to score these things, this is the funniest Powerline post ever….

Come for the Republican performance artists; stay for the impeccable logic

[ 0 ] August 26, 2008 |

Conclusive evidence that your average PUMA is to the Democratic Party what the bonnacon is to the Equidae family.

“We’ve been told by Pelosi that we’re ungracious,” said Robin Carlson, a cancer survivor from Los Angeles and a member of the Clinton for McCain contingent whom I interviewed after the made-for-TV demonstration. . . . Carlson says that 500,000 people have pledged on her Web site to endorse John McCain sometime during this convention. “Our foremothers marched in the streets so that our voices could be heard. We will not be silenced now.”

I asked Carlson why, if she was offended by being called “Sweetie” and invested in the legacy of her foremothers, she would express her disappointment over Obama’s nomination by supporting a man who would rob women of their reproductive rights and who does not support equal-pay legislation. “We are really sick and tired of having women’s rights held over our heads as a threat,” she said. “It’s country over party now.”

With Bob Costas at the Olympics and now this, I’m awfully grateful I don’t have cable anymore.

I Knew Delaware Was a Slave State…

[ 33 ] August 23, 2008 |

…but when did it secede?

…if elected, Biden will be the first President or Vice President from Delaware. Has Delaware produced any other major party candidates for either office?

Envelope Math

[ 0 ] August 7, 2008 |

Dan Nexon reaches an unnecessarily modest conclusion at the end of a long post that includes, like, research and math and stuff:

[W]hen it comes down to it, I don’t really have much confidence in any of the estimates people like me are throwing around [regarding the silly tire inflation “controversy”].

That’s really the point of this exercise: neither I, nor David Price, nor Ed Morrissey, nor Jim Geraghty have a clue how to make sense of this controversy. All we did was use our search engine of choice, find links that supported (or, if we didn’t read them too closely, appeared to support) our claims, and then amplify one of the partisan sides of this debate. This kind of stuff isn’t investigative anything, it’s nothing more than back-of-the-envelope calculations by unqualified people.

Let me rephrase: our analysis is basically worthless. Ignore it.

This is quite true. Except that Nexon — unlike Ed Morrisey, Jim Geraghty, David Price — isn’t a transparent hack whose analysis I wouldn’t trust to navigate anyone through a routine trip to the grocery store. Besides, his skill at deciphering what is quite probably the greatest menace to human civilization means that, humility aside, ignoring him is a bad idea.


[ 20 ] July 28, 2008 |

Press release this morning from the McCain campaign:

For Immediate Release
Contact: Press Office
Monday, July 28, 2008
ARLINGTON, VA — Today, Chief Warrant Officer (4th class) Michael J. Durant (Ret.) issued the following statement on Barack Obama’s canceled visit to Ramstein and Landstuhl:
“Over the last week, Barack Obama made time in his busy schedule to hold a rally with 200,000 Germans in Berlin, hold a press conference with French President Nicholas Sarkozy in Paris, and hold a solo press conference in front of 10 Downing Street in London. The Obama campaign had also scheduled a visit with wounded U.S. troops at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, but this stop was canceled after it became clear that campaign staff, and the traveling press corps, would not be allowed to accompany Senator Obama.
“I’ve spent time at Ramstein recovering from wounds received in the service of my country, and I’m sure that Senator Obama could have made no better use of his time than to meet with our men and women in uniform there. That Barack Obama believes otherwise casts serious doubt on his judgment and calls into question his priorities.”
Michael Durant, CW4 (Retired), US Army; born July 23, 1961 in Berlin, NH. He entered the United States Army in August 1979. Following basic training he attended the Defense Language Institute, and was then assigned to the 470th Military Intelligence Group, Fort Clayton, Panama as a Spanish voice intercept operator. He then completed helicopter flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Upon appointment to Warrant Officer 1 in November 1983, he completed the UH60 Black Hawk Qualification Course and was assigned to the 377th Medical Evacuation Company, Seoul Korea. His next assignment was with the 101st Aviation Battalion, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he performed duties as an instructor pilot.
Michael joined the 160th Special Operations Group on August 1, 1988. Assigned to D company, he performed duties as Flight Lead and Standardization Instructor Pilot. He participated in combat operations Prime Chance (Persian Gulf in 1989), Just Cause (Panama invasion in 1989), Desert Storm (Liberation of Kuwait in 1991), and Gothic Serpent (Somalia in 1993).
On October 3, 1993, while piloting an MH60 Black Hawk in Mogadishu, Somalia, he was shot down and held captive by hostile forces. He was released eleven days later.


Of course like everybody over 12 and an IQ above 89 I realize politics is a dirty business, but even by the low standards of the profession this kind of thing is pretty egregious. I doubt McCain would dare try it if the media weren’t so historically in the tank for him.

Now we’ll get a cycle of stories about the “controversy,” with the controversy being whether Barack Obama really cares about the troops.

Edit: James in the comments points to this MSNBC story (via TPM) indicating even McCain’s strictly factual claims about the cancelled visit are false.

No Jindalicious For Us

[ 46 ] July 23, 2008 |

Of course, I’m immensely disappointed that Bobby Jindal will not be introducing his castrating, exorcising, dinosaur-hating, all around weird-ass psychology to a nation desperate for laughs.

We needed you, Bobby Jindal.

You let us down.

We won’t forget this.

On Causation…

[ 0 ] July 12, 2008 |

Nate Silver, 6/25:

If the media believes that Barack Obama is ahead by 5 points, then if a new poll comes out next week showing him ahead by 3, it will not get any attention. But if the media believes that Obama is ahead by 12 points, that same poll would create the perception of McCain momentum, and perhaps trigger a couple of days’ worth of bad press for Obama as whatever had been going on over the past couple of days of the campaign would be taken as the cause for his polling decline. It might lead to harsher treatment of Obama’s decision (flip-flop?) on campaign finance, for instance, or if Iran had been the subject of the week, as evidence that Obama wasn’t resonating with voters on foreign policy.

Matt Stoller, 7/11:

Some Evidence FISA Hurt Obama

Obama has dropped in the latest Newsweek poll. He’s gone from 51-36 over McCain to 44-41. The most striking piece of data though is that 53% of registered voters think that he has changed his position on key policy issues to try to gain political advantage since becoming the nominee.

That is stunning. Over half of the public, though perhaps has not heard of the FISA fight specifically, believes he shifts positions for political advantage. And why shouldn’t they? He did.

I’m sure Matt would like to believe that Obama’s FISA failure is the proximate cause of the Newsweek polling change. It’s unclear to me how he could actually believe that, though; FISA (as he notes) is a high salience issue for a small number of people, and a low salience issue for a much larger number of people, and moreover the initial Newsweek poll was a substantial outlier. Silver, as far as I’m concerned, is entirely correct; the next Newsweek poll was quite likely to show regression to the mean, and pundits (some of whom, like Matt, should know better) would inevitably blame that on either the most temporally proximate event or on a favored issue.

This is not to say that Obama won’t suffer some harm from the FISA decision. I’m not convinced, but it could happen. But to say that he’s already dropped nine points in the polls is absurd.

Dumber than Dowd

[ 27 ] June 22, 2008 |

The box of wine showed up on her doorstep earlier than usual today, and Ann Althouse is already coughing up her soul to Maureen Dowd:

But, really, the complaints you hear about Michelle Obama are not about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. They’re about patriotism and racism.

Is it really the case that the French would shrug it off if Bruni’s lyrics were “God damn France” and a rant against the nonwhite French? The Obama campaign has to respond to the interpretation of things Michelle Obama has said — “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country” — and rumors about what she is purported to have said — “whitey” — or condoned — Jeremiah Wright’s “God damn America.”

It makes no sense to suggest that we could just be more like the French. Imagine how the French would react if Bruni’s songs had racist and anti-patriotic lines that were exactly strong as those sex and drugs lines.

The possibility that there might be a French version of Ann Althouse — disgorging inanities from a cafe sidewalk, posting slanty photos of a wedge of cheese she discovered in her fridge, speculating at interminable length about the meaning of an untouched eclair on Sarkozy’s dessert tray — causes me great anxiety about the state of French civilization. Although we have no evidence that such a cocatrice exists, we would be foolish to avoid having a frank discussion about it. Because if there were a French version of Ann Althouse, it would be significant because [insert 45 paragraphs of Neo-neoconian hallucination here].

Thanks to 9/11, she’s outraged by decolonization

[ 133 ] June 17, 2008 |

Shorter Geraldine Ferraro Neo-neocon:

Although the Michelle Obama “Whitey” tape doesn’t actually exist, we can’t forget that she and her husband secretly wish to turn the United States into a North American Zimbabwe.

And in related news, Jeff Goldstein would like to remind you once again that he attended graduate school.

The good news is that if all goes well, these people are going to spontaneously combust right around November 4, if not sooner.

The Awful Disclosures of Bobby Jindal

[ 19 ] June 13, 2008 |

In light of the news that Bobby Jindal would bring demon-banishing skills to the McCain ticket, we should offer retroactive props to Loomis, who offered this prescient observation a few weeks back:

…I really hope McCain goes with Jindal or Romney. Mittens is a ridiculous choice in itself. I can’t help but thinking of the McCain campaign as Dole ’96 redux. And Mittens would be a perfect Jack Kemp. Totally worthless uninspiring candidate who will bring no one to the ticket but will satisfy the loco wing of the party.

Jindal is even better. They want Jindal because he’s not white. And he’s really their only choice who is not white. On the other hand, he’s totally insane. I really want a VP candidate who runs on creationism, anti-abortion extremism, and other loco positions. A message to the Republicans: just because a candidate is appealing to Louisiana Republicans does not mean he is appealing to the rest of the nation.

But then I hope McCain doesn’t listen to me at all. McCain-Jindal ’08!

Like a lot of Eric’s posts, this one has been cracking me up for weeks now. Part of this, I’m sure, is because I have a former student — a rabid, pro-Bush dead-ender — who has been sending me glowing accounts of Jindal for about the past year. If McCain had been considering Jindal in any serious way, I suppose this ought to pretty well end it. All things considered, evangelical Christians remain skeptical toward Catholicism, and the Harry Potter wing of the evangelical movement is not likely to be impressed when news of his freelance exorcism makes its way outside of Louisiana, where the story played a minor role in the gubernatorial race last year. Of course, the fact that he’s a genuine religious bigot won’t help, either. I doubt any of this will result in a massive resurgence of anti-Catholic know-nothingism, but this is going to be a pretty fucked up campaign season anyway, so I suppose anything is possible.

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