- She's broken. By this point in the interview, her confidence is completely shattered. She knows she's blown it on national TV, and she's just barely keeping it together. So she forgets simple things, which happens to all of us when we're near break point.
- She's totally messing with us. A student of mine has a theory that she's been trying to aggressively lower expectations for the VP debate, so she intentionally blew the Couric interview the way a pool shark throws the first few games.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Is Sarah messing with us?
After the shocking vote of 228 to 205, party leaders did their usual rounds of partisan finger-pointing, but it really wasn't a partisan issue at all. The center had collapsed in favor of a coalition of far-right and far-left zealots.That's actually not the way it looks when you break the vote down by members' ideal points:
There's definitely somewhat more opposition out in the extremes than toward the center, but it's not a particularly striking pattern. The more telling indicator of the vote is that retiring members voted overwhelmingly for it and members in competitive districts voted overwhelmingly against it.
Update: Diane Watson opposed the measure, while Maxine Waters supported it, even though they have similar voting records and represent similar, adjacent districts. Those two can't agree on anything.
Later update: Milbank quote added in above.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Saw Obama today
The electoral connection in action
This is not terribly surprising. If you're facing a tough re-election fight, and a president with a 28% approval rating tells you to eat a shit sandwich, and your constituents know it's a shit sandwich, it's pretty obvious where your loyalties lie.
Happy New Year
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I was showing the freshmen in my campaigns class some debate clips the other day, and their reaction to the Bentsen/Quayle "You're no Jack Kennedy" exchange was really quite interesting. You should watch it if you haven't seen it in a while:
Some of my students were pretty stunned at how bad Quayle came off. He looked like a frightened child, barely able to make eye contact with Bentsen while he was being chastised. Others thought that Bensten came off as a cruel old man. (For me, the really cruel part was his line, "You're the one who was making the comparison, Senator....")
My recollection of the event is that Quayle was resoundingly considered the loser in that exchange. There was no real blowback against the Dukakis/Bensten campaign for Bentsen's cruelty that night. It was considered one of the few high points for the Democrats that year. Indeed, the main criticism of that campaign remains that it was not nearly tough enough with Bush.
So, would Biden face a similar situation with Palin? If Bentsen had been so rough with a female opponent, would people have rushed to her defense? It's hard to say. It's a pernicious form of sexism if a woman is held to a lower standard of competence in a political debate. Of course, Biden may well be accused of sexism if he treats her as harshly as he would a man.
I don't have good answers here. Any thoughts on this?
Whew, it's not just me
"Sarah Palin's standing over me (I'm naked, she's not) and shouting, podium style, through a pair of great, floating glasses, 'And you know what? I'm going to cut it off. I'm gonna CUT IT OFF.' I hear cheers. Are we onstage? I don't see it, but I feel the presence of TV camera everywhere. She continues, 'And you know why? Because, well why shouldn't I? If you're good, I know God will put it back.' I look down and realize I have the biggest pot plant ever growing up between my legs. I mean, the thing is beautiful. I think something happens next, but I can't remember what. All I know is we are in a field, and Sarah Palin is kneeling over me decked out in hunter gear. She cradles her rifle pragmatically and smiles pathetically as if to say, 'You silly bear,' and ruffles my stomach. The plant is gone, but I am now covered in fur. And blood. And bits of grass. And as much as I want to bite her face off, I can't be angry at her. Or rather, I can't argue it. I've got nothing. And she knows it too. Her triumphalism is effortless."—Joshua Mensch
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Look into my eye
New McCain ad
McCain's message: "My opponent thinks I'm right. Therefore, he's wrong."
Fallows is right that Obama can henceforth dispense with saying "John is right" about anything for the remainder of the campaign. Praising McCain will only be met with similar slaps.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Quick debate reaction
I can see arguments why such a debate could help either candidate. Independents are leaning Obama but want to know that he has the maturity and thoughtfulness to be president; he showed tonight that he does. On the other hand, McCain had a really crappy week in which he looked pretty unstable; tonight he looked stable.
My guess is that this debate won't affect the state of the race very much. As Tom Holbrook reminds us, most debate effects are pretty negligible, with the exception of 1992 (after the Richmond debate in which Clinton connected with the audience and Bush kept checking his watch) and 2004 (after the first debate when Kerry skewered W on Iraq). There were no such moments tonight.
Public reaction to McCain's stunt
• Gallup: Obama 48%, McCain 45%, with a ±2% margin of error. Yesterday, the candidates were tied 46%-46%.
• Rasmussen: Obama 50%, McCain 45%, with a ±2% margin of error, compared to an Obama lead yesterday of 49%-46%.
• Hotline/Diageo: Obama 49%, McCain 42%, with a ±3.2% margin of error, compared to a 47%-43% Obama lead yesterday.
• Research 2000: Obama 48%, McCain 43%, with a ±3% margin of error. Yesterday, Obama was up 49%-43%.
Adding these polls together and weighting them by sample sizes, Obama is ahead by a margin of 48.9%-44.5%, almost double his margin from yesterday's 47.7%-45.3%.
Now it's personal
Debate's back on
My prediction is that the debate will undergo a substantial change from what's anticipated. Again, following West Wing season 7, the candidates will agree to dispense with the format or make the debate solely about the current financial crisis. They will make this decision five minutes before the debate is set to begin and then inform the moderator of their decision.
I cannot understand her at all
Atrios points out that McCain has been speaking jibberish for years, but it's Washington-style jibberish, so it's okay. This may be true, but I can usually follow McCain from the beginning of a sentence to the end of one, even if the thought he's communicating isn't all that coherent. Palin is a different sort of incoherence. She's absoultely falling apart... in front of Katie Freakin' Couric.
I'll give her this: she makes Bush look presidential. And not a moment too soon.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Update: Ah, it's not just me. Suggested question for anyone who gets to talk to McCain today: "Senator, in what sense have you suspended your campaign?"
I've seen this episode before
VINICK: Do we have an estimate?Bartlet missed the current crisis by a factor of 10, but otherwise, pretty good. Either "The West Wing"'s writers were prophets, or reality is just getting lazy.
BARTLET: First twelve months: 70 billion.
VINICK: I can say goodbye to my tax cut. Your education plan is certainly off the table. What’s a victory in this?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
On Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 12:00pm, John McCain wrote:
sorry to bother you and i know this request is late but i have been really busy and i want to call an emergency meeting with the president and understanding all the material is taking up a lot of my time so i find myself woefully underprepared and i am throwing myself on your mercy. can i get an extension over the weekend on the debate so i can present my best work to you? or should i get a dean’s excuse?
Do not suspend this campaign
The philosophy behind McCain's move is that campaigns and elections are all good fun when things are going well for this country, but they're expendable when things get serious. It's part of a philosophy (which, as I recall from my earlier career, was much subscribed to inside the Beltway) that elections are a distraction from good government rather than the cause of them. I think that's exactly the wrong message to send. We had elections during the Great Depression, World War II, and the Civil War; we can handle a debate and some advertisements today.
I didn't have a problem with the GOP scaling back the first night of its convention because of the hurricane. Conventions are largely ceremonial today and can survive some scaling back. But debates are about the most important thing that the candidates do during the general election. This is actually how voters make an informed decision. They get to see how candidates think on their feet, how they behave when challenged, and how they propose to deal with the most pressing issues of the day. Having such a debate out in the open would be a fundamentally good thing. I would say that our nation would be much better off by watching these two debate each other than by having them join their 98 colleagues behind the Senate's closed doors.
McCain suspending campaign
Senator John McCain said Wednesday that he would suspend campaigning on Thursday, and seek a delay in this week’s planned presidential debate, so that he could return to Washington to try to forge a consensus on a financial bailout package.Shorter John McCain, via Sadly No:
Barack Obama needs to stop kicking my ass for the sake of national unity, my friends!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Obama meets Bartlet
OBAMA: I didn’t expect you to answer the door yourself.
BARTLET: I didn’t expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a Lancôme rep who thinks “The Flintstones” was based on a true story, so let’s call it even.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
The cellphone bias
This may not be the case this year (perhaps because the electorate is suddenly so polarized by age). Nate Silver at Fivethirtyeight did a little study comparing the polling organizations that use cell phone numbers with those that do not. It's a small-N study, but it's still pretty suggestive:
Six of the seven cellphone-friendly pollsters have had a Democratic (Obama) lean, and in several cases it has been substantial. On average, they had a house effect of Obama +2.8. By comparison, the control group had essentially zero house effect, so this would imply that including a cellphone sample improves Obama's numbers by 2.8 points. (Or, framed more properly, failing to include cellphones hurts Obama's numbers by 2-3 points).Just to be clear: these findings suggest that those polling firms that do not survey cell phone users are understating Obama's true support by 2-3 points. This is a huge difference in a close election like this one. In Silver's state projections, he finds that accounting for cellphones moves Florida from lean-McCain to tossup, and moves Nevada from tossup to lean-Obama.
The difference is statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level. Perhaps not coincidentally, Gallup, Pew and ABC/WaPo have each found a cellphone effect of between 1-3 points when they have conducted experiments involving polling with and without a cellphone supplement.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Oil and coal? Of course, it’s a fungible commodity and they don’t flag, you know, the molecules, where it’s going and where it’s not. But in the sense of the Congress today, they know that there are very, very hungry domestic markets that need that oil first. So, I believe that what Congress is going to do, also, is not to allow the export bans to such a degree that it’s Americans that get stuck to holding the bag without the energy source that is produced here, pumped here. It’s got to flow into our domestic markets first.Here's the video.
I'm glad she used the word fungible. That helps.
Matthews on the responsibilities of partisans
Thursday, September 18, 2008
More on "Why is this election so close?"
Putting aside for a moment the question of who each party's nominee might be, what is your preference for the outcome of the 2008 presidential election - that a Democrat be elected president or that a Republican be elected president?The response to that is Dem 46, Rep 34, DK/NA 20.
Compare that to the candidate matchup:
Obama 47, McCain 42, Someone else 2, DK/NA 9.
My initial suspicion was that Obama was running behind the generic Democrat, presumably because of his race. But that doesn't appear to be the case here. Obama's numbers are essentially identical to those of the generic Democrat. Instead, McCain is running eight points ahead of the generic Republican, which testifies to his main strength as a candidate, maverickiness. I'm guessing that his numbers will grow closer to the generic GOP numbers over the next few weeks. Still, even though a lot of Republicans aren't crazy about McCain, he wasn't a dumb choice for nominee. He was probably the only Republican in the field who had a remote shot of winning the general election.
More on the Palin gender effect
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Thin blue line back above thin red line
Health care and the finance system
Takes one to know one?
“This is a hard decision for me personally because frankly I don't like him,” she said of Obama in an interview with CNN’s Joe Johns. “I feel like he is an elitist. I feel like he has not given me reason to trust him.”Okay. Wait, who is Lynn Forester de Rothschild?
Forester is the CEO of EL Rothschild, a holding company with businesses around the world. She is married to international banker Sir Evelyn de Rothschild.I see. But Obama's the elitist. Got it.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Help us, IMF!
Seriously, the United States, home to the world's leading business schools and more economists than you can shake a stick at, has such a crappy financial system that we need guidance from the IMF to keep us from tanking.
Still Hardrock Palin
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Gender gap: no VP effect
Of course, we only have one case to look at: 1984's election, with Geraldine Ferraro as the Democrats' vice presidential nominee. Still, we can ask, was the gender gap wider in 1984? Did women cross party lines to support Ferraro? It doesn't look like it. The graph below shows the percent of men and women who voted Republican in each presidential election between 1948 and 2000:As the graph shows, the gender gap is a surprisingly recent phenomenon. It's only been occurring consistently and with any real strength since 1980. As for Ferraro, it doesn't look like she had much of an effect here. The gender gap in 1984 (7.6%) was exactly the same as it was in 1980, and was considerably smaller than it has been in recent elections.
Does this mean that Palin won't have such an effect? Hard to say with only one data point. And maybe things are different in a close election. But history still doesn't testify to much of a VP effect.
Palin and Clinton
Friday, September 12, 2008
Just a thought
For my hand-wringing friends
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.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I answered him yes... because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can’t blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we’re on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can’t blink. So I didn’t blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.Seriously, what the hell is she talking about? Is she saying that, since we have to be resolute in the face of our enemies, we have to be resolute in every decision we ever make? Hesitation in the face of John McCain would reveal weakness and invite attack?
Haven't we had enough of leaders who make knee-jerk decisions and evaluate every question in terms of warfare?
False equivalency alert
Obama avoids that kind of slick politicking himself. Not.
He's getting more mileage than a hybrid car over McCain's answer to a question about what constitutes a rich person.
"I think that rich should be defined by a home, a good job, an education. ..."
So far so good, but then McCain quipped, "How about $5 million?" Laughter followed, then McCain said, "No, seriously. ..." Too late.
These are not the same things. Obama was jumping on a comment that McCain clearly made about what constitutes being rich. It is quite obvious, however, that Obama was not referring to Palin when he described McCain's campaign as the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig. Obama was not taking McCain out of context. McCain took Obama out of context. There's a difference. One of them is taking advantage of an opponent's poor choice of words. The other is lying. It's okay to point that out.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Controlling the debate
Over the summer, McCain was running on his experience, saying that Obama was a lightweight without any legitimate credentials. His choice of Palin as a running mate undermined that. Now McCain, too, is running on change, saying that his form of change is better than the Obama version.
The Obama strategy rests on the (pretty realistic) assumption that if voters really want change, they'll pick the guy who's not of the party that currently controls the White House. It seems unwise for McCain to play on turf that so clearly favors the Democrat, but he apparently has no choice.
I have no idea how much control of message actually affects elections. Still, current polling (which is still highly volatile) nonwithstanding, which candidate would you rather be right now? Which message is stronger? "This election is about change" or "Okay, this is election is about change, but only a certain amount and type of change."
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
This strikes me as a near perfect Democratic counter-attack. It's still too long for a bumper sticker, but it should work nicely in a debate.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Is it time to panic?
Not necessarily. Most presidential elections just aren't blowouts. In particular, presidential elections without incumbents are usually pretty close. As I've mentioned before, the last non-incumbent to win by more than 10 points was Ike in '52. Even Dukakis, who basically refused to fight back under attacks from the Bush Sr. campaign, only lost by eight points.
To me, the closest historical parallels to this election are those of 1952 and 1968. In both cases, the incumbent administrations (Truman and Johnson, respectively) were terribly unpopular with voters, largely because of unpopular wars. The incumbents declined to run that year for fear of losing. Their anointed successors (Adlai Stephenson and Humbert Humphrey, respectively) were solid candidates wearing the albatross of an unpopular party label. And in both cases, the incumbent party lost, but it was actually pretty close in 1968. Indeed, it might have gone the other way had George Wallace not taken some southern electoral votes from Humphrey as a third party candidate that year. McCain is in the unenviable position of Stephenson and Humphrey, trying to argue that he'll pursue the incumbent party's policies but in a more competent manner. It's difficult, but again, Humphrey almost pulled it off.
Most predictions I've seen (including my own) based on the economy, presidential approval, etc., suggest that Obama will win, but only by 4 to 6 points. Is there a penalty for being black? Possibly, which would knock Obama down by one or two points. So again, a really close race, which is exactly where things were just before the convention. Then Obama got a bounce out of his convention, and then McCain got a bounce out of his convention. After a week or so, things will probably settle down to where they were just before the conventions, which was pretty close.
Of course, we should still recognize that presidential elections are not national contests, but rather 51 statewide contests. In the state polling, Obama's position still looks pretty strong, as he's likely to take all the Kerry states, and traditionally red states like Montana and Virginia are in play.
Again, we'll have a more realistic idea of what the race looks like in a week or so. But it's likely to remain a nailbiter.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
We are the butchers we've been waiting for
Brand new day
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Eight years ago, you were the vice presidential nominee. Four years ago, you were begging Democrats for their presidential nomination. Two years ago, you were defeated in a Democratic primary. Now you're at the Republican convention. Lieberman is at the Xcel Center for much the reason that my a goldfish spends his days in a neon castle: He has nowhere else to go.
A bounce we can believe in
Of course, there's no way to know if this will be an enduring bounce, or if it will be erased by the GOP holding its convention just a few days later. Either way, it looks like the Democratic convention had the effect that its organizers were hoping for.
Another cautionary tale about social networking software
On his MySpace page, Johnston boasts, "I'm a f - - -in' redneck" who likes to snowboard and ride dirt bikes.
"But I live to play hockey. I like to go camping and hang out with the boys, do some fishing, shoot some s- - - and just f - - -in' chillin' I guess."
"Ya f - - - with me I'll kick [your] ass," he added.
He also claims to be "in a relationship," but states, "I don't want kids."
Place your bets
Monday, September 1, 2008
I wondered if Denny's ever closed...
MODESTO, Calif. — Police say a man tried to cut off his own arm at a restaurant in Modesto, Calif., because he thought he had injected air into a vein while shooting cocaine and feared he would die unless he took drastic action.
Authorities say 33-year-old Michael Lasiter rushed into the Denny's restaurant late Friday and started stabbing himself in one arm with a butter knife he grabbed from a table.
They say that when that knife didn't work Lasiter took a butcher knife from the kitchen and dug it into his arm.
Police Sgt. Brian Findlen says Lasiter told officers he thought he needed to amputate his arm to keep himself from dying from the cocaine injection.
Lasiter was taken to a hospital for treatment of severe cuts.
The Denny's closed for the night.