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January 3, 2008

A poor showing in the Iowa caucuses
Posted by Teresa at 10:53 PM * 172 comments

I’ve been watching CNN’s coverage of the Iowa caucuses. They’ve called the races for Obama and Huckabee, so many viewers will have switched off their sets. That must be why they’re now talking about Ron Paul.

While it was still a race and more viewers were watching, Ron Paul was the invisible man. The pie charts were the most blatant manifestation. The one CNN showed for the Democrats listed Obama, Edwards, Clinton—and Richardson, who got 2% of the vote.

Their pie chart for the Republicans listed Romney, Huckabee, Thompson, and McCain. The remaining wedge was filled with a black-and-white filling pattern. Clearly, whatever fell into that wedge wasn’t worth reporting. It was Ron Paul.* Earlier this evening, when CNN was excitedly blathering about what a hot race the Republicans had going for third place, with Thompson at 14% and McCain at 13%, total precincts reporting in showed Ron Paul at 11%.

There’s no good reason for it. If CNN were objectively reporting the news, that disparity wouldn’t exist.

The next round of this game will be played by Fox News. Will they continue to exclude Ron Paul from this weekend’s debates in New Hampshire, over the protests of New Hampshire’s own Republican Party? Fox has Giuliani scheduled for the debates, and he scored a measly 4% in Iowa.

An important point: I am not one of the internet’s horde of Ron Paul supporters. Far from it. Very far from it. But it’s not the place of CNN, or Fox News, or any other news organization, to pass judgement on Ron Paul’s legitimacy as a candidate.

Addendum: Nina Katarina observes:

This really ought to have been the story of the night in Iowa:

356,000 total turnout

Percentage of total vote

24.5% Obama
20.5% Edwards
19.8% Clinton
11.4% Huckabee (R)
Comments on A poor showing in the Iowa caucuses:
#1 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2008, 11:40 PM:

I was watching MSNBC. I agree that it's annoying as hell the way the coverage is, um, inadequate to say the least. Sadly, it doesn't particularly bother me that Ron Paul is ignored. I salute the spunk of those roots of grass who have taken hold for him, but he is -- in my view -- a creep. So I guess I can't say I'm all that different from the perpetrators of the inadequate coverage. I have my own media agenda, and it's not particularly different in form or substance from that of the networks.

Hell of a speech from Obama, though. Hell of a moment in American political history. Glad I lived to see it. Here's hoping 2008 supplies all of the hope of 1968 without, gawd help us, all of that terrible grief.

#2 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2008, 11:43 PM:

From Talking Points:

"220,000 Democrats caucused tonight. About 115,000 Republicans did."

Such enthusiasm!

I get the feeling that the country is going to be looking rather Blue come November . . .

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2008, 11:53 PM:

Huckabee's a hell of a speaker. I'd be more worried if he hadn't denounced Unnamed Republicans who think that public office puts you in the ruling class rather than the serving class.

That's not supposed to happen. Huckabee's an evangelical. Their assigned role in the Republican scheme of things is to reflexively vote Republican when their buttons are pushed, and to be willing to sacrifice their economic interests and democratic principles in order to support emotionally charged but essentially inconsequential issues.

#4 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2008, 11:59 PM:

#3: I guess that means they'll be getting getting Karl Rove out of storage.

#5 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 12:08 AM:

#3 Teresa Nielsen Hayden: Huckabee's a hell of a speaker.

A lot of people seem to feel that way about it. I don't, though. I think he's got that slightly pasted on smile that a lot of yer preacher-types have. Probably I'm just a jaded Nuyorquino, but I think he's tedious. I also get the feeling there's something dark lurking underneath all that corn pone. Ever see the movie "A Boy and His Dog"? (No, I never read the Ellison.) That's Huckabee, in my book: "A Boy and His Dog".

#6 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 12:09 AM:

I wondered what was going to happen with Paul. I think he's a lousy guy to have in office. On the other side, he's got one thing which makes me fond of having him in the race: He's bringing up some things which no one else is.

I wish Dodd had done better, for much the same reason (though to be honest, I don't, really, have any qualms about his getting elected, as I would with Paul).

#7 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 12:17 AM:

If Huckabee is elected, I'm going to seriously consider getting out of this country while the getting is good. I don't see A Boy and His Dog when I look at him, I see The Handmaid's Tale.

#8 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 12:33 AM:

I'm in Toronto for the week.

I'd forgotten what sharp and intelligent political reporting can sound like.

Not to mention the papers here have explained Iowa much more clearly than any that I'd seen earlier back in the States.

Good solid extensive coverage, and the CBC's fluffiest story was the parasitic butterfly one.

I'd forgotten. Two days and this frog'll be flying back to the proverbial pot of increasing temperature*. Sigh.

---------
* admittedly since it's been -15c outside the warmth could be nice.

#9 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 12:38 AM:

In the "Everything has a local angle" department, our local TV news led with "Punahou grad Barack Obama" won the caucuses in Iowa. Then, a little later, we got a breathless reporter telling us Obama had called his grandmother here to tell her the news.

Oh well.

#10 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 12:42 AM:

Interesting times. Huckabee isn't exactly what the Repugnicrat leadership want to nominate for President. They want the evangelicals toiling in the political fields, not living in the White House. So maybe they'll have to send Rove after Huckabee before they can turn him loose on the Democrats.

#11 ::: Sean O'Hara ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 12:42 AM:

Don't worry, I'm sure Tucker Carlson will spend his entire show tomorrow talking about what a great showing Paul had, and chiding everyone for ignoring him.

#12 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 12:49 AM:

It seems to me that Ron Paul is the child pointing out that the emperors -- Romney, Huckabee, Giuliani, etc. -- don't have any clothes on, which is wonderful and refreshing. *But*, to borrow a phrase, the child remains a child, and the emperors remain the emperors, and I don't want to have a child elected President of the United States. We've suffered through eight years of childish governance already.

The last time I caucused, there were comments about how the 40 or so people there were a larger than normal group. (I'm from one of the most conservative counties in Iowa, and probably one of the most conservative counties in the nation.) Well, today we had well over a hundred people there -- way more than were expected. When asked who had been registered as a Republican before, more than a dozen hands went up; a couple friends of mine were in that group. Maybe half the people there had been registered as Democrats. The rest were independents who went Democrat to participate in the caucus, and they seemed to be taking it to heart. It really felt like a watershed moment, if not for the Democrats in Iowa, then definitely for the Democrats in my home town. It was empowering -- I'd always felt like a lone voice, my small group of friends united by our alienation from the conservative majority, and today we were clearly no longer alone.

#13 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 12:55 AM:

I was listening to NPR, and they were talking about how the Iowa results were good for... McCain. Hmmm. Since Romney has taken a few dings and scratches, good ol' Arizona John must be the new establishment hope. Plus, Lieberman's name came up a few times. McCain/Lieberman '08? Ugh.

They also went out of their way to say several times that Huckabee was most notable for having lost 110 pounds. (That's 50kg for folks who use a rational system of weights and measures.)

There was some coverage about Ron Paul's internet prowess, and discussed an upcoming blimp ad funded by web-based donors. Nothing on his wacky policy ideas, like returning to the gold standard, though.

They also asked a former GOP congressman from Iowa about the likelihood of a third-party candidate.

This go round, there's really no one on the R side that doesn't scare me in one way or another. Let's hope that they scare the swing voters, too.

#14 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:01 AM:

Huckabee/Paul vs. Obama/Leiberman? Well, I think O/L is the lesser evil. Probably. I really don't think Obama would take out the Bush trash, if he becomes president. Which means that things will fester. And who will we vote for in 2012?

Oh, by the way, the game timer seems to have run out.

#15 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:05 AM:

Xopher @ 7: Yep, me too.

I also don't have the slightest worry that he could win against any of the Democratic candidates, which is a comfort.

I get the feeling that a lot of Huckabee's appeal comes from the simple fact that he isn't one of the big-money boys. That may not quite be populism, but it's edging that direction. It's nice to see some anger from the downtrodden on the other side of the aisle.

#16 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:08 AM:

xopher, heresiarch, Nehemiah Scudder is what comes to mind for me.

#17 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:20 AM:

Linkmeister @ 16

I don't think Huckabee believes in any of the stuff he hands out to the voters. I'm more reminded of Huey Long, partly because I saw the new version of "All the King's Men" last week. If he starts going around with a bunch of hired thugs with Uzis we'll know that's the right story for him.

#18 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:30 AM:

I can't believe people vote for Huckabee after a) "Here's the negative campaign ad I've resolved not to show you" and b) "I solidly support the writers' strike -- but I'm scabbing on Jay Leno's show to say so. Late-night TV shows have special magic dispensation from the strike, don't they? They don't? Oh well. I couldn't pass up an opportunity to put my face on TV, now, could I? Just take this as another example of the informed decisiveness and moral fiber you can expect throughout my presidency."

Not even to mention the other stupid Huckabee soundbytes in recent weeks that make Bush look like a mental giant. I take the fact that Huckabee, Romney, Giuliani and Paul are the presidential candidates of a major political party in my country as a stinging slap in the face, every time I think about it. Three Creationists and a gangster! Science, education, social progress, the virtue of the common man -- what were we self-deluded fans of Alexis De Tocqueville smoking, anyway -- while we geeked out, slept, and failed to create a culture and support system smart enough to cut through this nonsense? Is the Marx-predicted endgame of capitalism inevitable, after all? Or have we just failed to reckon with the awesome power of the Hypno-Toad?

Capitalism recently managed to produce this! I sinfully watched it over the holidays instead of dedicating my life to shipping care packages to Iowa. If anyone knows, please tell me if there's anything useful to ship to New Hampshire.

#19 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:53 AM:

They don't need to resurrect Karl Rove to deal with Huckabee. They've already got Richard Viguerie announcing that Huckabee is a Christian Socialist.

#20 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 02:08 AM:

When I read that, I thought you'd said that Viguerie said that Huckabee was a Christian Scientist.

Now that would be interesting.

#21 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 02:20 AM:

My favorite line from Viguerie: "If you like President George W. Bush, you'll love Mike Huckabee."

It seems that even within the party, being tied to Bush is the kiss of death. Interesting.

#22 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 02:36 AM:

Chris Dodd just e-mailed me to tell me he's dropping out. Very sad.

#23 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 02:40 AM:

Jim @ #20: Exactly my misreading. I know the Repub gossip-mongers are a gullible bunch, but that would be a stretch.

#24 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 03:08 AM:

It is shameful for CNN to discount Paul based solely on his insanity. Many of his most insane stances are shared by all the Republican candidates.

I found a link to actual percentages per candidate per Iowa here, at the New York Times.

An interesting article in the Boston Globe canvassed the candidates for their opinions on being an imperial president: would they pretend that Congress's laws could be wiped away with a "Nah, not for me?" All the Democrats answered; most of the Republicans, like Huckabee, weaseled out. Romney is another full-fledged Nero.

I'm glad Edwards showed well in Iowa. I like his health care plan best, and I like the way he talks about the impoverished. I'll probably still vote for Richardson when California gets its crack at the ballot box, though.

#25 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 03:17 AM:

Yeah, Huckabee rates pretty high on the Nehemiah Scudder In 2012 scale. About the only good thing I've heard said about him is that he "isn't even a millionaire". heh.

#26 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 03:56 AM:

"They don't need to resurrect Karl Rove to deal with Huckabee."

Anyway, Clinton will probably hire him first.

#27 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 04:02 AM:

On npr, Mara Liasson said, roughly, that the caucuses were "won by the insurgents, though Huckabee and Obama are different kinds of insurgent."

A poor choice of words? Or a deliberate one?

Bill Kristol surely chuckled in his basement abbatoir when he heard about that.

#28 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 06:46 AM:

Does anyone know where I could find Obama's acceptance speech online? I tried Youtube, but no luck.

#30 ::: Wakboth ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 07:12 AM:

"They don't need to resurrect Karl Rove to deal with Huckabee. They've already got Richard Viguerie announcing that Huckabee is a Christian Socialist."

I wonder if the neocon-big money alliance inside the Republican party would rather lose the election than let Huckabee, and the evangelicals/theocons, to win it?

#31 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 08:06 AM:

Jon H., the only circumstances in which I can imagine Clinton hiring Rove would be if she were paying him to take a running jump off a high place.

Speaking of Clintons, Big Dog was seriously not happy last night, and Hillary's speech was in support of the party and its role in this election, not her own candidacy. If anyone can read the auspices correctly, it's those two.

#32 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 08:11 AM:

Wakboth @ 30

I wonder if the neocon-big money alliance inside the Republican party would rather lose the election than let Huckabee, and the evangelicals/theocons, to win it?

I'd bet on it, and it wouldn't be the first time that had happened in a presidential election. The president has power for at most 8 years; the party leaders have power for as long as they can hold onto it. Any real powermonger is going to hold onto power for itself and its friends, even if it takes not having the party hold the White House for 4 years.

#33 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 08:27 AM:

Wakboth, #30: the nationalists and the big money people have lost control. They haven't figured it out yet, but the only factions with any credibility left in the Republicans are the religious and the "libertarian". On the other hand, the Dems. show every sign of being dominated by politics as usual, and that's just not going to be enough.

#34 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 08:55 AM:

Hey, the big media got away for decades with making Nader and other third party candidates invisible -- shutting out primary candidates they don't like is a natural progression. They're gaining confidence in their role as gatekeepers.

#35 ::: Nina Katarina ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 08:56 AM:

This really ought to have been the story of the night in Iowa.

356,000 total turnout

Percentage of total vote

24.5% Obama

20.5% Edwards

19.8% Clinton

11.4% Huckabee (R)

#36 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 09:00 AM:

Bruce Cohen @#32: The president has power for at most 8 years; the party leaders have power for as long as they can hold onto it.

Now there's an interesting question, and a possible explanation for some of the party behavior: What happens if an incoming president declares (figurative) war on the party apparatus?

#37 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 09:02 AM:

Further thought: I think that, with Obama, the Democrats have reclaimed the Reagan legacy.

#38 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 09:15 AM:

so now the mandarins of the Republican party are going to use all the nasty scorched-earth tactics they've been honing these past years to take out the blue-collar religious conservatives and the wired-up libertarians (who've been played by their well-compensated "leaders" equally hard these last years) on behalf of McCain, who the people who write the checks despise, or Romney, who our press sachems despise, while Giuliani, the annointed candidate of the blood and guts set, sinks without a trace.

Heh.

#39 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 09:17 AM:

Teresa:

I've noticed that pattern with RP before. I think this is an example of the media enforcing the window of acceptable ideas they prefer.

Along with the ideological issues (why the hell is the newsroom at CNN supposed to be able to decide which candidates are legitimate?), this involves just not reporting important facts because they contradict the network's desired political spin. That's an awful thing for anyone counting on getting a true picture of reality from their coverage--RP got something like 10% of the vote, and that information might be important for their viewers to know to understand what's going on in the world.

Alas, this goes on all the time--many viewpoints and ideas simply will never be discussed on CNN, MSNBC, etc. Important and relevant facts that don't go along with the current picture of reality pushed by CNN disappear down the memory hole or are buried. Stories that would contradict that picture don't appear, or are spun to avoid contradicting that picture.

I wonder how much of the problem has to do with the interests of CNN's parent company, how much to do with the personal beliefs of the guys running the newsroom, and how much to do with the need to keep on good terms with all kinds of sources, in order to keep getting leads and leaks. If you think RP unlikely to have much future, you may feel that it's more important to please his opponents (all of whom want him de-emphasized), so that you will stay on good terms with folks who can do you some good later.

I also wonder how much impact the idea of "responsible journalism" has. ISTM that the real responsibility of journalists (and scientists, and anyone else purporting to report about reality) is to learn and report the truth as well as they can. But there seem to be a lot of folks who think good journalists *should* be spinning or shaping the news to accomplish broader social goals. I suspect that this provides an almost endless justification for pushing their own agendas/beliefs, and lying when it is in their financial or personal interests.

Michael #1: The problem is that CNN et al are doing this kind of filtering all the time. It would be a remarkable coincidience if they happened to do it in ways that you agreed with most of the time. Today, they're doing all they can to de-emphasize RP, and six years ago, they did the same thing with antiwar demonstrations, and seven years ago they weren't reporting on opposition to the Patriot act based on concerns about civil liberties, and so on.

#40 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 09:32 AM:

Randolph Fritz @14: I really don't think Obama would take out the Bush trash, if he becomes president.

This is a genuine question: What makes you say that? I haven't heard that opinion before and I'm really curious.

On another topic, I'm currently arguing with a friend of mine over how dangerous Huckabee is. He thinks Huckabee will handily lose a general election, because evangelical Christians don't really have that much power. I think the hard core of evangelical Christians will drive him to become the "religious choice," and a lot of good and decent Christian people will then vote for him because they kind of like the idea of someone religious, who seems all down-home and salt-of-the-earth. It strikes me as the Bush 2000 persona all over again, in other words.

My friend has lived in Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. I've always, barring one summer, lived in North Carolina. NC isn't any more "real America" or anything (Boston always struck me as more quintessentially American, probably because of tripping over the Revolutionary War on every street corner), but NC sure has a lot more crazy-religious people. I can't tell whether I'm overestimating their importance, or my friend is underestimating it.

#41 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 09:38 AM:

Randolph #33:

I think this is broadly right. Many of the candidates with a lot of excitement about them are real outsiders.

Nina #35:

Wow, that's really telling. For reference, Bush won Iowa in 2004, but it was almost evenly balanced. I don't know whether this measures a big shift in intentions of Iowans, or just more interest in deciding the Democratic race. (Honestly, the Republican race is pretty depressing.)

If you want to look at detailed breakdowns of this stuff, the Wikipedia article on the 2004 elections has state-by-state breakdowns, and this url has some really cool maps visualizing the breakdowns.

#42 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 09:44 AM:

After hearing the NPR reporting this morning, it was something of a shock, on opening the paper, to see that Ron Paul had run fourth among the Repubs in Iowa, and not far behind McCain at that. What, exactly, is the function of the media?

#43 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 09:49 AM:

#39 albatross: Michael #1: The problem is that CNN et al are doing this kind of filtering all the time.

Yeah, I know. I wasn't celebrating anybody in this case. I was just admitting that I have my own media agenda and saying that the media's agenda happened to match mine in this case. There have been plenty of times when it hasn't.

I don't think there's anyway that we're going to get to the point to where we have a truth-telling media. I think the best a person can hope for is to find a few sources that actually do make a valiant attempt at describing something like reality.

I think the best thing to do is (a) keep calling the media out, (b) admit to yourself that you have your own media agenda, (c) look for sources that report in ways that surprise you with their accuracy and insight, and (d) continually tune your own sense of what's really going on.

Anything beyond that just seems like wishful thinking, to me.

#44 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 10:00 AM:

Bruce #32:

I think this is the legacy of Bush's wrecking the Republican coalition. The people who voted for/supported Republicans on the basis of, say, a desire for a smaller government and more personal liberty, have been driven out. Bush's attempted steps on immigration upset the hell out of the paleocons. Fiscal conservatives have been wishing for a return to that "ultra liberal Democrat" Clinton's administration. The neocons more-or-less read the antiwar conservatives out of the party, called them traitors and cowards. That included a lot of libertarians, and a lot of paleocons. And yet, the neocons and their fellow travelers and useful idiots seem to be the only Republicans with a lot of media access, which they've cultivated very well. And they seem to have a strong position in the party hierarchy.

I think Bush is going to end up having had as big an impact on US politics as Reagan. But in a very different direction.

Although it doesn't take a Nostradamus to predict this, I expect the general campaign to be one of the nastiest and most negative and fear-mongering ever. The Republican party has lost the faith of so much of their coalition, the only way they can get those guys to vote Republican is to scare them into thinking Obama, Hillary, Edwards, or whichever person is the devil incarnate. I assume we'll see internet and talk radio whispering campaigns against the Democrat claiming they're agents of Al Qaida, they're planning to take away everyone's guns, close down churches, etc. I don't think this will work, but it will be nasty and destructive. But the Republican candidate isn't going to have much else to use to get his base back, because most of they don't trust the party anymore.

I also think Huckabee isn't *nearly* as unacceptable to the party hierarchy and neocon media folks as RP or Tancredo.

#45 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 10:01 AM:

#40 Caroline: I can't tell whether I'm overestimating their importance, or my friend is underestimating it.

I think you are right on. Ever since I laughed at the notion of a somewhat addled, over-the-hill actor getting elected president, I've been very careful about underestimating the chances of people who seem too nutty to get elected.

I think Huckabee is very dangerous and that any Democrat who has to run against him in the general is going to have quite a tough job cut out for him or her.

#46 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 10:13 AM:

David Harmon @ 36

What happens if an incoming president declares (figurative) war on the party apparatus?

You think battles betweent the President and the Congress cause governmental gridlock? Suppose every Senator of the President's psrty declared war back on the Pres? Senators can hold office for decades, but they need the party to get them elected every six years. Guess who's going to take the long view in that situation?

#47 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 10:22 AM:

Nina Katarina @35 -- yes, when I was listening to NPR this morning I heard how many Dems turned out to vote but not how many Republicans. These figures would have been very helpful in assessing just how important Huckabee's win really is! Why did the report one and not the other? Very curious...

#48 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 10:43 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft @47:

Statistics I'm hearing are 220,000 Dems to 115,000 Republicans turned out in Iowa. Which means that any the top 3 Dems, Obama - Edwards - Clinton, would have beaten the top Repug, Huckleberry Hound, had it been the general election...

#49 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 10:45 AM:

I've been rooting for Obama for a while, so I'm pleased at his good showing.

If....if a Republican wins the election in November, which of the GOP candidates would do the least damage? My horseback guess would be Romney.

#50 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 10:59 AM:

Caroline, I think the biggest factor working against Huckabee is that he's been talking about the fact that the Republicans have been waging a class war. For that, his own party will nail him to the wall.

#51 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 11:11 AM:

Teresa @ 50

Have you seen David Brooks this morning? It's understandable, he says, that Republicans are terrified this morning of a snakehandler takeover of the party. Fortunately, the reason people voted for Huckabee is that he's against divorce. The party will solidify behind the generational change represented by (divorced septuagenarian with 25 years in Congress) Sen. McCain.

#52 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 11:14 AM:

It's possible that part of the poor showing for the Repubs arises from the incessant talking up of Guiliani, who surely must have been the least congenial candidate for those parts. It's also possible that a lot of them switched over to cast an "anyone but Hillary" vote.

With regards to the Handmaid/Dog rhetoric, it's going to make a great deal of difference what happens in congress. It's hard to imagine that any candidate could arrive at the White House with anything resembling a mandate-making majority.

#53 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 11:25 AM:

Bruce @ #46: Hmmm... A good point, but the president in question would need to be on a "suicide run" to try that anyway... and I suspect that a lot of incumbents could hold their seats anyway.

Mostly, the question is born of frustration at how the "kingmakers" of both parties have been subverting the traditional positions of their parties in favor of "cooperative" candidates. The Democrats in particular have been showing their bellies to the Republicans every time the latter show their teeth (see Lieberman and Howard Dean).

#54 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 11:32 AM:

Any word on Fred Thompson? Someone may want to stick a mirror under his nose (figuratively or literally) or at th every least, wake him up and tell him he lost so he can go back to Law & Order.

#55 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 11:47 AM:

Julia #51: Does Brooks possess any shame?

#56 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 11:49 AM:

A key thing to remember about Evangelicals is that it's taboo to say anything bad about a Man of God. See any number of televangelist scandals. For that matter, look at GW Bush.

You think Reagan was Mr. Teflon? Wait till you see what a charismatic Baptist preacher can get away with.

Huck's sermons from his preacher days? Destroyed. His computer records of his time as Governor? Destroyed. The Arkansas "emergency fund"? Disappeared when he left office.

And nobody cares.

#57 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 11:49 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 55

I'm saying he's capable of shame in direct proportion to how many actual evangelical voters he's ever met.

#58 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 12:05 PM:

Edwards is being ignored almost as blatantly. It's all about "Obama beat Clinton", as if Edwards were invisible.

Btw, there's an interesting (but long) article in MIT's Technology Review by John Hockenberry titled
"You Don't Understand Our Audience":What I learned about network television at Dateline NBC.

This was one in a series of lessons I learned about how television news had lost its most basic journalistic instincts in its search for the audience-driven sweet spot, the "emotional center" of the American people. Gone was the mission of using technology to veer out onto the edge of American understanding in order to introduce something fundamentally new into the national debate. The informational edge was perilous, it was unpredictable, and it required the news audience to be willing to learn something it did not already know. Stories from the edge were not typically reassuring about the future. In this sense they were like actual news, unpredictable flashes from the unknown. On the other hand, the coveted emotional center was reliable, it was predictable, and its story lines could be duplicated over and over. It reassured the audience by telling it what it already knew rather than challenging it to learn. This explains why TV news voices all use similar cadences, why all anchors seem to sound alike, why reporters in the field all use the identical tone of urgency no matter whether the story is about the devastating aftermath of an earthquake or someone's lost kitty.
#59 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 12:17 PM:

Me, #14: "I really don't think Obama would take out the Bush trash, if he becomes president"

Caroline, #40: "What makes you say that?"

Because Obama has been conciliating the right wing, and talking about compromise. And to compromise with the radical right, he's going to have to keep policy pretty far to the right. Oh, he probably won't start any more wars, and that's something to be grateful for, but he may not end the war we're in. Congress, especially the Senate is dominated by a coalition of conservative Republicans and conservative Democrats; I don't see any reasons that that will change. I expect Obama's cabinet appointments to be better than Bush's, but they are going to be relatively conservative because he won't fight the conservative Congress. His judicial appointments will be centrist, same reason, and won't balance the many radical right-wingers already on the bench. Health care won't change much because he'd have to fight Congress, ditto environmental policy, immigration policy, telecomm policy (net neutrality & monopolistic abuses), business policy (monopoly & union-busting), the FCC. Civil rights...maybe, there, Obama will lead; he can hardly have escaped the experience of bigotry in the USA.

But if he does what he says he's going to, most of the issues we have today are just going to fester.

#60 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 12:25 PM:

Teresa wrote:"Jon H., the only circumstances in which I can imagine Clinton hiring Rove would be if she were paying him to take a running jump off a high place."

That's what I would have assumed, but then again I recently read "Billionaire newspaper publisher Richard Mellon Scaife, who spent millions investigating President Clinton, said the two had a long lunch over the summer and that he found the ex-president to be charismatic."

Surely Scaife has done more to hurt the Clintons than Rove.

And the Clinton camp's trafficking in the potentially life-threatening "Obama is a Muslim" crap is distinctly Rovian.

But ya, it's unlikely that they'd actually hire Rove. They'd probably love to, though.

#61 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 12:27 PM:

(Mostly)TNH @ 1: Checking the NYT coverage again this morning, with all the Repub votes in, I also see that RuPaul won a county in southern Iowa, while neither Senator Fluffycheeks nor the DA won any. My admittedly limited understanding of the delegate allotment process in Iowa tells me that they treat their county-wide votes as a sort of junior electoral college. If I'm correct, this would mean that Paul is on his way to having at least one national delegate vote.

#62 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 12:37 PM:

Randolph wrote:" And to compromise with the radical right"

Are you so completely ignorant of how many Republicans are not of the radical right, and have been alienated by the lunatics in the Bush administration and Congress?

These people haven't run out to switch parties, and they haven't all magically turned into Nation-reading socialists. But they're sane and worth reaching out to.

#63 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 12:45 PM:

Julia #57: I'm sorry, my political calculator doesn't work for numbers smaller than zero.

Seriously: It seems to me that, like so many of his fellow Republipundits -- including Charles 'I am the very model of a stopped clock' Krauthammer -- has a rather thin conception of what an Evangelican Xtian actually is. After all, this is a category that includes both Jimmy Carter and Mike Huckabee.

#64 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 12:56 PM:

Jon, #62: Is Obama lying, then, when he campaigns to the right? Because he's not just appealing to liberal Republicans; he's taking right-wing positions on social security, health care, and religion. Why did the Obama campaign attack Krugman for pointing out, quite mildly and correctly, that Obama's health care proposal was not universal? And yet he was attacked, and quite harshly. When it comes time to accept criticism from a progressive, Obama is not the least bit conciliatory!

So, Obama is either a conservative, or opportunistic. He's also dishonest, and willing to attack someone who would much rather support him. I am very much reminded of LBJ. Who, indeed, supported the Civil Rights movement and implemented many liberal programs...and did it by making a deal with the Congressional hawks and starting the Vietnam war. Why would I want another such man to be President?

#66 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:11 PM:

"Why did the Obama campaign attack Krugman for pointing out, quite mildly and correctly, that Obama's health care proposal was not universal? And yet he was attacked, and quite harshly. "

A brief exchange with a pundit? Pretty thin gruel. Got anything substantial? Actual right-wing policy papers, as opposed to disposable rhetoric?

#67 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:14 PM:

Obama as LBJ? Nope, don't see it at all. LBJ was above all else, arrogant and frequently mean, and I've seen nothing to suggest that Obama has those traits.

#68 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:15 PM:

Jon H @ 62: My thoughts, too. Seems to me the majority of the voting populace leans toward the middle and wants a relatively centrist candidate.

Huckabee, BTW, appeals because of his (modest) charisma, his "down home" values, and his obvious ease in public. Next to him, everyone else, with the possible exception of John Edwards, appears stilted. Assuming no skeletons come out of Huckabee's closet over the next year, he might be a surprisingly tough candidate to beat, assuming he wins the Republican nomination.

#69 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:19 PM:

Jon @ 62:

I have had serious qualms about Obama since the Roberts nomination. A Chief Justice has a platform to take hope away from a lot of people in the course of decades on the bench, and Obama announced before anyone had heard a word of testimony that, essentially, the party that won the election gets to make their choices.

The Greybacks of the Senate he was working with on that one have not exactly acted on that principle since we took over.

I would, of course, vote for him in a minute over any of the Republicans running, but I don't think you're doing him any service by attacking people who have questions about his record.

#70 ::: Joyce Reynolds-Ward ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:21 PM:

Randolph @ 64:

I'd take LBJ and the Great Society in a heartbeat. After all, he wasn't the one who started Vietnam--JFK got that ball rolling. FWIW, LBJ in later years regretted Vietnam--and he did one hell of a lot of social good in the process.

I don't think the current sensibility and the American economy can support both a ramp up of social service funding and a war simultaneously, not like the 1960s. This time around, we'd have to make a choice. My sense of the American public is also that there's support for the troops out there but not necessarily support for the war (at least in my anecdotal exposure to rural areas around here, where I'm seeing a LOT of bumper stickers and signs saying "Support our Troops but not our Leaders."

#71 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:31 PM:

albatross @ 39

Don't underestimate the effect of sloth and incompetence on journalism. It's just so much easier to take some flack's press releases and rewrite them lightly than to actually do some, you know, investigative journalism, or try to understand a moderately complicated issue. And hell, the readers won't understand it anyway, so why care about the truth?

Same goes for explaining the differences between candidates, or how they change their stands over time.

#72 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:40 PM:

Jon, #66: you are picking one point, calling it minor, and ignoring all the rest of my remarks. Bleh.

Steven, #67: I cited an example, you know.

Richard, #68: polls consistently put the center nearer to Edwards than Obama.

Joyce, #70: maybe, maybe. It's a ray of hope, anyway. (Though, Johnson was the one who actually sent the combat troops to 'nam.) But Johnson also had a substantial liberal faction in the Congress to support the Great Society reforms and MLK to act as conscience. Well, maybe Al Gore can be Obama's conscience. But there's no analog of the 1960s congressional liberal coalition now, and if there are any principled Republican Senators left, they are making themselves very scarce. I don't see how Obama can build a Johnson-style coalition in Congress; Congress is very far to the right. A President who is a great orator, which Obama undoubtedly is, could, as Reagan did, make his case directly to the public, but he doesn't seem to be doing it. Instead, he seems to be aligning himself with the Congressional conservatives.

#73 ::: Sylvie G ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:40 PM:

Ignorant Canuck question here - is this the same Huckabee who got 'got' on the CBC special 'Talking to Americans' a few years ago? (I'm at work and don't have access to You Tube, but I know it's in there.) It was a funny and frightening look at our neighbours to the south, and in one segment Rick Mercer gets Huckabee, then state governor, to congratulate Canada on something implausible, possibly on our Parliament building made entirely of ice (it's been a while since I watched it). Out of curiosity...

#74 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:43 PM:

Jon H 62: Got anything substantial? Actual right-wing policy papers, as opposed to disposable rhetoric?

While it's not a policy paper (yeah, that's not too high a bar), I'd like to refer you to Patrick's post on why Obama can kiss his ass.

SO FUCKING WHAT if it's not in his formal policy papers? What the hell does that have to do with anything? The guy is sucking up to the religious right, and those of us who DID feel oppressed as soon as we found out what the POA actually meant, and/or who practice anything but evangelical Christianity of the most conservative kind, know that Barack Obama is not, and never will be, our friend.

I'll vote for him if he gets the nomination. I hope to Shamash that he does not.

#75 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:44 PM:

The quote was actually from Jon 66. The Xopher regrets the error.

#76 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:45 PM:

Well, Obama's certianly to the right of Clinton & Edwards on the environment. http://grist.org/feature/2007/07/30/obama_factsheet/
He supports nuclear energy.
He opposed reforming the 1872 Mining Act because it would be too burdensome on the mining industry.
He voted in favor of the oil-friendly 2005 Energy Policy Act.
He's gotten a big chunk of money from Exelon.

He talks good game but he's no Al Gore.

#77 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:46 PM:

Sylvie G @ 73

Probably. He was governor of Arkansas.

#78 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:49 PM:

What Avedon said. She's also got some good links.

#79 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:52 PM:

Randolph @72: "Richard, #68: polls consistently put the center nearer to Edwards than Obama."

FWIW, In the Iowa entrance poll, Edwards did best with self-described Conservatives.

#80 ::: Zed ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:53 PM:

Xopher #7: If Huckabee is elected, I'm going to seriously consider getting out of this country while the getting is good.

I've already been talking with my wife about playing my Irish citizenship card if Huckabee or Guliani is elected. Not that I'm ruling it out if it's Romney or McCain.

For years, I've been taking for granted that things couldn't help but get better when we got rid of Bush, yet the Republicans have managed to come up with a roster of candidates that put the lie to that.

albatross #44: I assume we'll see internet and talk radio whispering campaigns against the Democrat claiming they're agents of Al Qaida, they're planning to take away everyone's guns, close down churches, etc.

Like, say, this "letter from a future prisoner."

I'm writing this letter from prison, where I've been since the beginning of 2010. Since Hillary was elected in '08, Christian persecution in America has gotten even worse than we predicted.

#81 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:53 PM:

Mayaka, #76: Everyone seems to have ignored my original link, so I'll quote a bit from an article it links instead. "We are about to leave the Holocene." Ship, meet lighthouse. Gaia is not mocked.

#82 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 01:56 PM:

Jon H, #79: sigh. I wonder what that poll means.

#83 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 02:06 PM:

Is Obama lying, then, when he campaigns to the right? Because he's not just appealing to liberal Republicans; he's taking right-wing positions on social security, health care, and religion.

Social Security? I wouldn't call "let's increase the earnings cap" a conservative position--it's probably the most progressive plausible change to the tax code.

Health care? I wouldn't call "let's not have people who don't buy health insurance because they can't afford it accrue fines so they can be even worse off" a conservative position. Obama's proposed plan is the same as Edwards', except for the enforcement mechanism--on which Obama's is less punitive.

Religion? This seems to be the root of your problem with Obama. And yes, he doesn't hate and despise Christians; that seems to me to be a good thing.

#84 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 02:41 PM:

Beyond the not hating ad despising, Obama makes an effort to reach some common ground with evangelicals by offering them a measure of respect. He's not an evangelical, but he talks to them.

And sometimes, he screws up, like when he let an anti-gay evangelical tour with him, and didn't drop him when there were complaints. It's one thing that makes me disheartened about Obama.

#85 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 02:47 PM:

Eek, I really didn't mean to start a fight about Obama. I was really just curious, and Randolph's responses have actually given me a lot to think about and find out about. (So, thank you, Randolph.)

#86 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 02:55 PM:

SamChevre, #83: Obama gave the people attacking Social Security cover. He gets no sympathy from me on this, especially since he's been talking out of both sides of his mouth about it. Nice talking point on health insurance, but Obama is reprising the anti-health insurance ads of the 1990s. I have not said a word about religion in this discussion. You did. I wish you hadn't. I really don't want to spend the rest of this discussion defending myself from aggrieved Christians.

Josh, #84: I actually have fewer concerns with Obama's religious positions than some of us here. My concern with evangelicals is only with the radical right factions, which may actually be a minority of evangelicals, though an influential and vocal one. That said, Obama, in this area, has followed his usual pattern of conciliating the radical right while leaving the left in the cold, and that, I do have concerns with.

#87 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 02:56 PM:

SC @83
From Michael Moore's letter yesterday
http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/message/index.php?messageDate=2008-01-02


Edwards is the only one of the three front-runners who has a universal health care plan that will lead to the single-payer kind all other civilized countries have. His plan doesn't go as fast as I would like, but he is the only one who has correctly pointed out that the health insurance companies are the enemy and should not have a seat at the table.

Don't click the link if you don't want to read Obama criticized.

#88 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 02:59 PM:

Sam 83: I don't hate and despise Christians either. I hate and despise people who hate and despise me because I'm not a Christian. And Obama doesn't hate and despise them, and I hate and despise him for it.

Seriously, it's not about hating Christians, as you well know. It's about allowing bigotry to flourish; and as far as religion goes, Obama seems to think that's just fine.

#89 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 02:59 PM:

Caroline, #85: thank you. One thing I will say for Obama is that he certainly does inspire passion! In any event, I'm going to take a break from this discussion for some hours; hopefully by then matters will settle down.

#90 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 03:03 PM:

Social Security gets the ink and phosphors, but the real issue is going to be Medicare, with unfunded liabilities 6 to 7 times greater than SS.

#91 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 03:09 PM:

#83
"let's not have people who don't buy health insurance because they can't afford it accrue fines so they can be even worse off"

That is a conservative position. That's the 'mandatory health insurance' move that MA got, and that Ahnold is pushing in CA. The only ones who gain from it are the #$%&^* insurance companies. Also, think about all the people who can afford insurance, but can't get it because of 'pre-existing conditions' (which may not even exist at the time of application).

#92 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 03:10 PM:

Madeline @ 24: I am shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover that they could find five people in the state of Iowa to cast a vote for our very own Tom Tancredo.

Lot should have had such luck.

Randolph @ 72: Hmmm.... Gore as Secretary of the Interior? Energy? Head of the EPA? Or maybe I'm just dreaming that 2001-2005, and perhaps beyond, even, might have been a little, I dunno...different.

#93 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 03:27 PM:

That's the 'mandatory health insurance' move that MA got, and that Ahnold is pushing in CA.

And it's every Democratic candidate's plan.

I'll repeat--the only difference between Obama's plan and Edwards' plan is "how punitive is the enforcement?"

I'll agree that Canada-style single-payer would be a more leftish solution; no one serious is proposing it.

#94 ::: Arthur D ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 03:33 PM:

Keith #54: Thompson is currently 3rd, fractions of a percentage ahead of McCain. What bothers me is that CNN reports 95% of the Republican caucuses have reported in so far, which seems to be really slow for a relatively small group that had a simpler voting system. Especially when the Democrats got it all done last night.

#95 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 03:39 PM:

Romney left Masschusetts with crumbling bridges, swimming pools that couldn't open in the sweltering summer for lack of repairs and funding for repairs during his tenure, unfunded obligations, etc. etc. etc.

His record and his mouth belong to multiple different asses--consistency of words, and consistency of actions, is not one of his characteristics. There are ferrets in cages which are less weaselly.

#96 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 03:46 PM:

The LBJ candidate in this would be Clinton-- Senate operator, (*sort of) southerner, lots of baggage (including support for a key policy of the prev. president), inspires strong passions in others.....

People who are worrying about programs need to worry more about congress, if for no other reason than that lacking a veto-maniac like Bush II, they can make up their own program and shove it through. And conversely, an uncooperative (never mind hostile) congress makes presidential program passage impossible.

re 81: What a huge percentage of the population makes of

The difference between 550 and 350 is that the weaning has to happen now, and everywhere. [....] To use the medical analogy, we're not talking statins to drop your cholesterol; we're talking huge changes in every aspect of your daily life.

...is that they are going to get screwed. The rich are going to be able to weasel out, and the lower and middle classes count all those upper middle policy makers and agitators among "the rich". It's an automatic country vs. city issue, because everyone living twenty miles or so outside a major city is going to expect their expenses to shoot up drastically, and to get nothing out of it. People are not going to sign up for that kind of social disruption unless things are already calamitous.

#97 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 03:56 PM:

#93

You seem to missing one point:
health care coverage IS NOT health care

(Of course, most of the media also miss this, and quite a few politicians.)

#98 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 04:00 PM:

Richard, #68: Seems to me the majority of the voting populace leans toward the middle and wants a relatively centrist candidate.

The problem with this is that what's now called "centrist" is actually nowhere near the center. I know we had the Overton Window discussion here not too long ago; the Republicans have been engaged in a decades-long process of shifting the acceptable range of political discourse rightward until, at this point, Richard Nixon would be considered a liberal! In order to achieve anything like a real political balance, Obama (or any other Democratic candidate) is going to have to go well past tame "centrist" positions and get back to what used to be "common sense" and is now considered "liberal moonbattery".

#99 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 04:11 PM:

There's a good story about Obama's legislative work in IL that might shed some light on what his conciliatory approach entails.

One thing highlighted is a bill of his to end police abuse and torture of suspects by requiring interrogations to be videotaped. He managed to get it passed and made law despite the strenuous opposition of law enforcement, by working with the opposition. Not by weakening the law or allowing *some* beatings, but by giving some attention to other concerns of law enforcement and so convincing them that he wasn't an enemy.

#100 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 04:16 PM:

Lee, I think this election might demonstrate that the center has snapped back towards the left somewhat. It may take a while for the media coverage to reflect it.

#101 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 04:26 PM:

In 2000, Bush campaigned center ("compassionate conservative") and governed sort of right wing(socially and militarily, but not fiscally). Bill Clinton campaigned center and governed center. Gore campaigned center and would have won except for He Whose Name I Will Not Mention. Kerry sort of campaigned and let Bush roll all over him (what is it with Massachusetts politicians anyway?)

I would not expect anybody serious to campaign left ever again.

#102 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 04:30 PM:

Clinton is probably better than Obama on health care and coverage, but either of them are better than any of the Republican candidates, from where I sit. He's not atrocious about it so far, and most of the criticism I see is about a few statements he's made. Nothings substantial so far that makes me really have disdain for him. If I wanted a reason not to like him, I'm sure it'd be important to me. But really, it's not.

#103 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 04:31 PM:

re 98: Which "liberal moonbattery"? What the heck, I feel like taking on the Overton Window. The whole notion of "center" is only objective if you base it on what the populace thinks now. Or look at this visualization which portrays the "window" as a slider on a fixed scale. But what is really happening is that the window is fixed, and the positions slide back and forth in it. And if you look at a lot of "do or don't" social issues (e.g abortion) what is tending to happen is that the center is increasing consisting of people for whom the issue isn't important.

Nixon tends (as I see it) to look like a centrist inasmuch as what he did was a complex mishmash of "left" and "right" (taking his criminality as non-partisan). It seems to me that party politics have increasingly made people like him impossible; you get your choice between (to put it really pejoratively) Democrat social issue statists and Republican money-grubbing neocons. Thirty years ago it was a lot easier to find dissidents than it is now.

#105 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 04:40 PM:

But Lee, in some ways Nixon was a liberal -- for example, the Environmental Protection Agency was created under his administration, he ended the war in Vietnam, and he "opened" China. (I also seem to recall he instituted some form of price controls.) JFK, conversely, supported the Bay of Pigs invasion and putatively initiated our involvement in Vietnam -- which today would put him to the right of Hillary.

Perhaps the center has indeed shifted righward since the mid sixties. And yes, this shift could have been a result of the machinations of The Right. But this shift -- assuming it is truly a significant change -- might also have been caused through forces less conspiratorial. Opinions and values can change over time given the wisdom, perspective, and burdens one accrues -- consider the college-aged leafleteer of the Spartacus Youth League who is now a middle-aged executive worrying about her retirement portfolio....

#106 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 04:47 PM:

Richard Anderson @ 105... Opinions and values can change over time given the wisdom, perspective, and burdens one accrues

"Of course," he added, as Mathis started to expostulate, "patriotism comes along and makes it seem fairly all right, but this country-right-or-wrong business is getting a little out-of-date. Today we are fighting Communism. Okay. If I'd been alive fifty years ago, the brand of Conservatism we have today would have been damn near called Communism and we should have been told to go and fight that. History is moving pretty quickly these days and the heroes and villains keep on changing parts."

- James Bond in Ian Fleming's Casino Royale

#107 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 04:52 PM:

Steve C @101:
I would not expect anybody serious to campaign left ever again.

I dunno. Not ever is a long old time.

My grandpa from Oklahoma would not have expected an African American* to make a credible run for President.

-----
* Nor is this the term he would have used.

#108 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 05:02 PM:

Abi @ 107 -

You're right, I should never say never. I'm tending to see the future as the 30 or 40 years remaining in my life (if lucky), since I won't be around to affect things or comment on them afterwards. (Of course, if you leave me out in the open, I could still raise a stink.)

#109 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 05:44 PM:

The thing which annoyed me about the NYT link is that the way they present the information is apples and oranges.

They tell you how many delagates each of the dems got, and the percentage of the vote required to get them.

For the repubs, they tell you how many raw votes they got, and the percentage that represents.

The cynic in me wants to say it's an example of the bias the paper has; this way they didn't have to show how many more dems than repubs showed up to be counted.

The race-horse politico in me want's to wonder how that difference will play out in Nov. Will the selection of a dem to vote against inspire more people to come and vote in the general election?

If Huckabee gets frozen out, will the people who turned out to for him become disaffected and stay home?

Does this represent a valid measure of the relative desire to vote?

#110 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 05:44 PM:

P J 91: Also, think about all the people who can afford insurance, but can't get it because of 'pre-existing conditions' (which may not even exist at the time of application).

I believe the exclusion of pre-existing conditions was outlawed by the ADA.

#111 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 05:50 PM:

Serge, I am impressed -- especially as it took you only seven minutes to dig up that quote!

#112 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 05:52 PM:

Xopher, it may have been outlawed for some things, but that doesn't mean they aren't doing it for others.

#113 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 05:59 PM:

Richard Anderson @ 111... I put that one up so quickly because I just happened to find it yesterday while looking for the exact quote about George Smiley about sometimes having to do wicked things. It seemed à propos.

#114 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 06:13 PM:

Xopher #110: I believe the exclusion of pre-existing conditions was outlawed by the ADA.

It's not a blanket situation. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is more pertinent. You can still have coverage excluded for pre-existing conditions up to 12 months while still paying premiums if you have a gap in coverage of more than a couple of months. That's why some people pay the exorbitant COBRA and COBRA extension insurance premiums, to minimize any coverage gap until the next opportunity presents itself to for the person to be insured under a new group policy (after an extended period of unemployment, for example, or while growing grey hairs waiting for Medicare eligibility). Some states have "risk pools" for otherwise uninsurable people; it's high cost crappy insurance, but at least it's coverage.

#115 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 06:13 PM:

Terry 109: The Dems and the Rethugs handle caucuses very differently. The GOP just goes and writes a name on a piece of paper and hands it in, then goes home. The Dems have to stand in the corner, and...well, it's a long process sorta like an Australian ballot, only acted out.

The upshot is there aren't "votes" to be counted in the Dem caucuses. There may be other differences too.

That doesn't excuse the NYT. There's no excuse for them!

#116 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 06:19 PM:

Even having health insurance doesn't mean they'll cover the needed procedures. Watch Sicko.

#117 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 06:43 PM:

Just got back online -- big storm out here in N. California, and the power's been out.

I do not think I am politically naive, and I've been watching politics for a long time. The candidate of my head is certainly John Edwards. I love it that he is willing to expose the very class conflict which the Republicans have been exploiting, exacerbating, and pretending isn't there for the last nearly 30 years. I like his health care plan. I like it that he's a rich trial lawyer as well as a legislator; it means he earned his money making corporations account for their actions. I like it that he isn't the product of 3 generations of inherited wealth.

But //target here, I know// the candidate of my heart is Barack Obama. I like his life story, I'm fine with his "experience," I can listen to him without wincing or screaming. He makes mistakes, some very serious ones, but I'm willing to give him some rope (though I understand why others won't) because he has made me believe that he sees the need for that change he keep talking about, that he means it, that it's real for him. I believe he's not cardboard, not a fake, that he can make a difference.

God help me, he reminds me of Bobby Kennedy.

He's a black man running for President, and he's winning. I hope his Secret Service agents are on the ball.

Back on planet Earth: I'll vote for any Democrat against any Republican this year. I'll vote for Clinton if she's the nominee. The Republicans are terrifying. Huckabee is Bizarro-Bush, smoother and with fewer obvious rough edges. (I must say, though, I love watching the Republican establishment reap what they sowed.) Romney is Plasticman. McCain wants war yesterday, war today, war forever -- and I can't figure out why, because of all of them, he should know better. I think Guiliani is toast and I'm glad. The story in Iowa is the turnout; specifically, the Democratic/Independents-voting-as-Democrats turnout. It was 4 degrees in Iowa last night, and the turnout for the Democratic caucuses surpassed all previous turnout numbers. Folks across the country know how important this election is. That turnout gives me great hope that we can do what we must do to take back our country, which is to take back both the White House and Congress, both houses, decisively, completely.

#118 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 06:44 PM:

Beware, Chuck Norris is on the campaign trail with Mike Huckabee! The Chuck Norris Meme is much more powerful than the cautionary Nehemiah Scudder Meme.

#119 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 07:01 PM:

I wrote two of the many "Chuck Norris Facts"... and now I'm terrified they might be used in Huckabee's campaign. Why, oh why didn't I write some "Oprah Winfrey Facts" instead?

#120 ::: Zed ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 07:11 PM:

SamChevre @ 83 Religion? This seems to be the root of your problem with Obama. And yes, he doesn't hate and despise Christians; that seems to me to be a good thing.

I want a president who not only doesn't hate Christians, but also doesn't hate atheists, agnostics, pagans, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Discordians, Pastafarians, or gays*, and is willing to say so out loud, and to fight anyone trying to seize an officially privileged position for any religion.

I greatly doubt Senator Obama does hate any of the above, mind you. But I also think he's too willing to cave to people working to erode the separation of church and state. Because he told us so.

* Yes, one of these things is not like the other ones, but I trust everyone can follow why, in a point about religious beliefs and discrimination in the U.S., I'd explicitly include it.

#121 ::: Madison Guy ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 07:25 PM:

Anybody else thinking of 1960, or is it just me getting trapped in my bad analogies again? Deja vu all over again, or something like that, revisited once more.

#122 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 08:14 PM:

Zed, you linked to a quote of Obama's that reads, “It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase ‘under God.' Having voluntary student prayer groups using school property to meet should not be a threat, any more than its use by the High School Republicans should threaten Democrats.”

Apologies, but I'm having difficulty reading this statement as condoning any sort of serious erosion of the separation between church and state. I suspect Obama is actually making a pragmatic observation (given my perspective, living in a rural community where the Pledge opens all public meetings), the subtext of which perhaps says there are more important battles to fight than over the wording of the Pledge or the temporary use of public property by religious groups.


#123 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 08:15 PM:

#104 Josh

Um, his US Senate campaign was after his state legislature activity that I'm talking about.

If Obama was able to get legislation passed that law enforcement opposed, but end up on good terms with them, that seems like a good example of why Obama's approach could be more productive than a strategy of pure hostile opposition.

From the story you linked to:

"Laimutis Nargelenas, a lobbyist for the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, said that while Obama did at times vote on the side of “individual rights … [rather] than the ability of law enforcement to get things done,” he was always an independent vote who was very thoughtful on law-and-order issues."

#124 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 08:22 PM:

#103 C Wingate:

The whole array of issues drifts in different directions over time; trying to paint issues as left vs. right doesn't work very well at any given moment in time, but it is completely unworkable for describing widespread political views over time or across different countries, and isn't even all that good for describing regional differences at a fixed moment.

In the last 50 years, the whole nation has moved way left on civil rights, womens' rights, and gay rights, and also on stuff like environmental regulation. We've moved way right on tax policy (and nobody seems to want to go back to 90%+ top marginal rates, say) and most economic policy (no more CAB).

And the world is so different in so many ways, that all kinds of issues are just different. Foreign policy during the cold war was in such a different environment, it's not surprising that it looked pretty different. Environmental policy and energy policy look very different when you know about global warming. A lot of political issues just weren't even around fifty years ago--there wasn't a right or left position on internet taxation or net neutrality or stem cell research or human cloning or rules for how insurance companies could use genetic test results, because none of those things were available.

#125 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 08:26 PM:

#109 Terry:
"They tell you how many delagates each of the dems got, and the percentage of the vote required to get them."

If I'm not mistaken the number of votes per delegate varies by population or something like that. It's complicated and seems fairly chaotic. I'm not sure if intermediate data is collected that would allow more of a breakdown.

Anyway, it's unique to Iowa, and as noted above the Republicans do it entirely differently.

#126 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 08:52 PM:

C. Wingate, #103: Well, for starters, notions like (1) torture is a Bad Thing; (2) even criminals have rights, and people who are only suspected criminals have the same rights as the rest of the population; (3) the President doesn't get to do whatever he pleases and damn the law. As recently as 30 years ago, all of those things were generally considered self-evident. Now, anyone who voices any of those positions is Soft On Terrorism (note the escalation from Soft On Crime, which is where the reframing process started) and probably a Filthy Commie Traitor to boot. You're not going to convince me that this isn't a significant change in the acceptable range of political discourse.

Thirty years ago it was a lot easier to find dissidents than it is now.

No shit. And why do you think that is?

Zed, #120: Hear, hear!

Richard, #122: The problem is that the schools are doing the equivalent of letting the Republican group use the classroom after school while refusing to recognize the Democrats' right to have a group at all.

Not to mention that children who are NOT CHRISTIAN may indeed feel oppressed by being forced daily to swear allegiance to the Christian god. How would you have felt if your school day had opened with an invocation to Allah, in which you were required* to participate, every day for 12 years? Obama is a Christian himself, and clearly doesn't Get It because to him it's "just normal".

* And even if not officially required by the authorities, knowing full well that if you didn't, you'd be beaten up and everyone would tell you that it was your own fault, why can't you just go along to get along? This isn't hypothetical; it happened to a friend of mine.

#127 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 08:59 PM:

albatros: I don't know that I want to see a 90 percent marginal rate, but I'd be willing to see a 50, or perhaps even 75.

I remember when the reason the capital gains tax was at 38 percent was to stimulate investment, because it was a better place to rest money, since it wasn't as high a rate.

On a simplistic note, the time frame everyone, on the right keeps pointing to as the ideal (when one person made enough money for a family to live on, and buy a house); which is to say the '50s, was the time of that 90 percent tax rate.

So I we ought to be able to make a case that a higher set of graduated taxes is good for the economy (it certainly reduces the incentive to overcompensate execs). With some careful diddling of the tax code, we can encourage infrastructure investment, and even salaries.

But to talk about that is to enter moonbat territory, when one is trying to emulate Eisenhower.

So saying things have drifted, is a reasonable statement.

#128 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 09:17 PM:

Jon H, #99, #104: more and more like LBJ, who came from poor Texas hill people, and never forgot. And internationally, that kind of skill could be very valuable, provided he doesn't let the right wing write his foreign policy. But there's a big difference between the kind of work he did with the police, and what he'll have to do as President, if he's going to address the major issues. A lot of people who've become wealthy and powerful are going to have to give up some of their wealth and power and it doesn't look like Obama wants to ask them to do it. The insurance and health care industry, for instance, has been making a fortune by overcharging for health care. I can't imagine how he's going to deal with them, and to judge by his early positioning, he seems likely to cave. It's not like conciliation hasn't been tried. In fact, it was tried by Bill Clinton, no slouch as a an orator and negotiator and look where it landed him. The whole experience of negotiating with the hard right has been one long experience of discovering that they don't compromise. So I've some pretty serious doubts.

#129 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 09:24 PM:

C. Wingate, #96: there are people who can persuade the public to make sacrifices for the enviroment; Al Gore is one. The late Gov. Tom McCall of Oregon was another. Obama probably could be, if he wanted. It's not completely hopeless. But it's going to be hard, and we need to get started.

Richard Brandt, #72: Gore as Secretary of Energy sounds like a winner, if he'd take the job and was given the authority to do it.

#130 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 09:25 PM:

Richard @ 122

Having belonged to and attended meetings of one of those small-town (flyover country, west Texas) groups that opens every meeting with the pledge and a prayer - I don't like that position from any politician. If a group wants to use publicly-owned facilities, they shouldn't do that.
(IOW: I'm not an atheist, and I have objections to it. If they take 'under god' out of the pledge, then I'll think maybe it's okay.)

(For that matter, it's my understanding that the national-anthem-maybe-with-color-guard before games is a product of the Cold War. YMMV.)

#131 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 09:49 PM:

Randolph at 128, I agree with you: Obama needs to be quite a bit more In Your Face with certain groups in the country -- insurance companies are a good example -- and it troubles me that he doesn't seem to see the need to do it, or perhaps as you say he just doesn't want to do it.

I don't yet know what issues he is willing to go to the mat for.

#132 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 09:58 PM:

Lizzy L, #131: I think we get a hint of issues of personal importance in the discussion of his justice-system reforms that Jon H cited. Which, come to think of it, would be worthwhile in and of itself; if he's willing to propose better justices for the Federal bench, that would be great.

I do hope he is more like your idea of him than mine.

#133 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 10:50 PM:

Oh, BTW. Obama blogging from Harlem.

#134 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 10:51 PM:

Zed @ 80: Interestingly, a Republican winning in 2008 is the condition under which I move back to the US and get very politically active. And learn to fire a gun.

---

On Obama's willingness to parrot right-wing talking points: it does worry me, but I think it might be the product of the race dynamics--if he wants to target Edwards, he has to attack from the right. He can't help it. If he wins the primary, that won't even be remotely true. Against any Republican, he'll be so far to the left he'll have to make the case for what's suddenly "radical leftism," relativistically speaking.

I guess that's what I'm trying to say: Obama's positions are considerably more absolute than we're used to in American politics. Most everyone's positions are defined as "as far right as possible," or "right in the middle," or "only as liberal as necessary to get elected." They're all relative, and slide around as the Overton Window shifts. I get the sense that Obama's positions are much more firmly planted.

On Obama's unity rhetoric, I think it might be the set-up for some nifty political jujitsu: after he's won the White House on the basis of his awesome uniting skills, he'd be perfectly positioned to criticize the Republicans for their refusal to compromise. Since he would be, at that point, the living personification of unity, he just might be able to point out this blatantly obvious fact and get the media to pay attention. If he could pull that off, he'd have a carte blanche to do whatever he likes--not his fault the Republicans aren't willing to play ball.

Unfortunately, I'm not really convinced that Obama sees it that way.

#135 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 11:25 PM:

I am moping about Dodd dropping out, even though I knew he had no chance. I wasn't as invested in him as I was in Lamont in 2006, but he was the only candidate in the race who really excited me with his stand on substantive issues.

#136 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2008, 11:51 PM:

heresiarch (the unattributed in the Guardian): Come to LA/SLO, lessons will be provided.

#137 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 12:22 AM:

Thanks for the offer, Terry. If the time comes, I'll take you up on it.

#138 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 12:27 AM:

Susan @135: I was initially upset about Dodd exiting the race. Then I thought about it for a moment, and realized that if he'd had any significant chance, he'd be stressed in terms of fulfilling his Senatorial duties. Since he's practically the only Senator actually fulfilling those duties (particularly with regard to preventing that horrific revision to FISA from passing), that would be bad enough. But if he'd left the Senate to take another post, his replacement would be appointed by Gov. Jodi Rell, a Republican, and IIRC, Connecticut doesn't mandate that a Senatorial replacement be of the same party as the departed Senator. Despite the expected gains by Dems this election, giving away a seat would not be a good thing to do.

#139 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 12:33 AM:

SamChevre @83: I wouldn't call "let's not have people who don't buy health insurance because they can't afford it accrue fines so they can be even worse off" a conservative position. Obama's proposed plan is the same as Edwards', except for the enforcement mechanism--on which Obama's is less punitive.

Wrong. Krugman lays out the difference here. Basically, Clinton and Edwards want to make available quality health care plans, federally subsidize those who can't afford them, and require everyone in America, man, woman, and child, to buy one, be it public or private. This is pretty much the system Romney passed in Massachusetts. Obama wants to do all of that *except* require adults to buy a plan. (He does want to require plans for children.) That's the difference.

Why does that matter? It matters because the whole idea of health insurance is that the currently-healthy people subsidize medical care for the currently-sick people, which the healthy people do in return for the promise of health care when they in their turn get sick. The more healthy people paying money into the system, the lower the per-annum cost for each person. If all adults have to participate in the system, the most possible healthy people are participating, leading to the lowest per-annum per-person costs. Under Obama's plan, the adults most likely to opt out are the healthiest (or just least risk-averse) adults, leading to higher costs for everyone else. This in turn leads to more healthy adults opting out, leading to yet higher costs -- and thus, the so-called "adverse selection death spiral," where only the sick have insurance, and they can't afford it.

As Krugman mentions and Edwards recognizes, the enforcement of this individual mandate needn't be onerous. One could imagine, say, requiring proof of qualifying health insurance when filing taxes or receiving health care, in much the same way that proof of insurance is required to get a driver's license. If a person fails to provide proof of a qualifying health insurance plan, the government wouldn't fine them -- it would just automatically enroll them in a qualifying plan.

Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic has a slightly different take on it -- he thinks fines are necessary to "reinforce personal responsibility" -- but the message is basically the same. The difference between the plans is not a matter of "nanny state" policies or affordability. Universal health care isn't nearly as economically feasible and as affordable for everyone without the individual mandate.

Clinton and Edwards's health care plans have the individual mandate. Obama's doesn't. Would Obama's plan be better than what we currently have now? Heck yes! But he's (again) used right-wing talking points to bash Clinton and Edwards's plans because they included the individual mandate. This trend in his rhetoric deeply worries me, which is part of why I caucused for Edwards last night.

#140 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 01:03 AM:

re 126: Lee, you don't seem to get the message that it was a lot easier to find dissidents in both parties thirty years ago. That's because both parties have worked to eliminate those people, both in their own party and in the other. We used to have a conservative Democrat and a liberal Republican in the house in this state (both of them women). The Democrats fixed that by running a liberal against the first (thus getting the district to go Republican) and gerrymandering the second out of a seat.

As far as "soft on terrorism" is concerned, I think you are taking the Bushist rhetoric way too seriously. Even my use-of-force-loving neocon brother doesn't agree with it.

#141 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 02:40 AM:

C. Wingate @140: I'm not convinced those people are gone. There's Joe Lieberman on the Democratic side, and there's McCain, perhaps, on the Republican side, though less so in recent years.

#142 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 03:11 AM:

Joe Lieberman is a Democrat?! Now there's a parallel universe for you. heh.

#143 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 03:29 AM:

Yeah. Next I'll be telling you that Dubya is a Republican.

#144 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 03:38 AM:

C. Wingate, the largest single shift from the old situation was racist conservative Democrats moving to the Republicans. That wasn't dissent being suppressed. That was assholes going to people more prepared to pander to them. The Republicans did embark on a systematic suppression of insufficiently conservative members, but there's nothing comparable in Democratic Party history. Democrats tend to take those comfortable with the Republican machine and make them Senate Majority Leader or give them prime-time speaking slots at conventions, rather than force them out. The rank and file may well wish for more programmatic consistency, but the leadership systematically blocks efforts to do anything about that, as witness the continuing successful career of Sen. Lieberman.

#145 ::: Ragnell ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 04:24 AM:

#73 -- Yes, yes it was him. Timestamp 9:03

Please take this youtube link and use it in the fight against evil.

#146 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 06:17 AM:

Kevin:
Speaking as one of Joe's unfortunate and embarrassed constituents (but at least I've never voted for him!), no, he's not a Democrat. You may have noticed that he's actively campaigning for McCain; I suspect he's hoping for a Republican veep nomination.

#147 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 06:25 AM:

Bruce:
I'd trade a Senate seat for a President who's committed to restoring the Constitution and limiting the powers of the Presidency. I'm not sure any of the other candidates in the race are committed to these things.

I'm probably going to drift towards Edwards if he's still a significant contender. I can't work up much passion for Obama given his level of religious prejudice, and I can't work up much passion for Hillary because she's so slippery-slidey on so many issues. (Both of these things are annoying, since I would so love to support either a woman or someone less white for President.)

#148 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 02:42 PM:

Everyone says Edwards is dead, particularly NPR and everything associated with it. Coz he came in second. But, oddly, Hillary, who came in third is NOT dead.

Why is this? Coz Edwards scares 'em (like Dean did -- they killed Dean at Iowa too, recall?).

Coz, Edwards is that NO-NO! He's angry! He encourages all those other people who are angry about their kids having rotten education and no health care coz their parents have no jobs or garbage jobs to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

He's not a corporatist, like Obama or Hillary. Which is why Huckyuck won't get to go anywhere either, as disgusting a Caleb (the Big Bad's prophet in the concluding Season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) that Huckyuck is -- and a racist, wingnutxtianrightist, misogynist warmonger ignoramous, he's also a populist. In fact, the only authentic current gop corporatist potus wannabe is Romney, and he's not electable coz of that Mormon factor. So, thus, Bloomberg and the unity 'indie' party.

Which nobody Thursday night or since has talked about (except, a teeny bit, on Air America). That black Obama's acceptable is largely due to the fact that he isn't out of slavery heritage African Americans. He's the immigrant story, the successful immigrant fairy tale story, not the miserable tragic cruel story of forced immigration to die to make others rich that the slavery story is. Thus he's so much more -- like 'us' and acceptable, because he's not one of 'them'. You can hear it in the way those dorkdongs talk about him ... sure, in code, but that's what they're saying.

In the meantime, this journalist tells how nasty and dirty a game politics is, even when played by the better sort. That is, if this journalist can be trusted to be providing objective and factual information from Iowa on Thursday night. She says that at least some of the Obama and Edwards people colluded in order to make sure Hillary got stalled -- and additionally Hillary's people played into their hands due to arrogance and blindness, and as well, very callously treated elderly, unwell caucus female participants (I keep wanted to type 'couscous!' -- I like couscous and make it often ....).

Love, C.

#149 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 06:05 PM:

Susan @ 147

Then you'll just love what I think is the high probability Democratic ticket: Obama for Pres, and Clinton for Veep. It's got all the trimmings: the wingnuts won't dare to impeach or assassinate Obama; look who they'd get left with running the country: "Oh noes, not want Hillary!". It gives us an "independent" Pres, with a stone corporate stooge as a sidekick. What's not to vote for?

#150 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 06:45 PM:

Susan @147: I think you're right; Dodd was the most committed to a limited Presidency. The others, to varying degrees, are committed to restoring the Constitution with Clinton and maybe Obama near the bottom and Edwards, I think, at the top of the remaining heap.

I'll still take any of the Dems over all of the Republicans, even if it means holding my nose and voting for Obama/Clinton and working to remind them continually for the next four (eight) years that they are not Republicans.

#151 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 07:58 PM:

While we're on the topic of politics, here's a sample of Huckabee caught using Christianist code-language. While apparently the term "dog-whistle politics" has been around for a while, this was the first time I'd seen it.

#152 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 11:02 PM:

PJ #130:

Honestly, it's always seemed kind of un-American, to me, to require pledging allegiance to the flag at the start of meetings and stuff. Why not sing a few bars of "God Save the President?" Or chant "Service to the State/Glory to the Race" like the Draka?

If we're really free people whose state exists to serve us and operates on our behalf, why would we need to pledge allegiance to its symbols?

That said, most people probably don't feel too oppressed by reciting the pledge of allegiance, since people typically go through all kinds of motions as needed to get by in a day, without meaning much by them. In an earlier day, a great many people went to Church every sunday with the same motives, just as now many people piously say whatever they think they're supposed to about politics or society, again without caring much.

For some of us, words and ideas matter, but I don't think that's as true for most people. Many a kid who pledged allegiance to the flag every school day for thirteen years of public education, promptly headed for Canada or called his politically-connected uncle or his helpful doctor to avoid getting drafted and sent off to die for that deeply-revered flag in Vietnam. And many others would have done that if they'd seen a good way to get away with it.

#153 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 11:11 PM:

#148 Constance:

I'd love to know how that kind of coverage comes about. Like the stuff with blacking out RP's percentage of the Iowa caucus, or the again-and-again repetition of Dean's funny-sounding scream, the stuff with Edwards just reminds you how large a grain of salt you must take with media coverage of any event.

What do you think is the cause of this. I wonder if we can find some examples that let us distinguish between, say, large media companies acting in their owners' financial interests, journalists maintaining good relations with important sources, journalists being captured/played by their sources, journalists and editors spinning news to reflect their own beliefs, etc.

For example, the outrageous Washington Post story on the "Obama is a Muslim" rumors (Brad Delong had an interesting discussion of this one) didn't have an obvious financial motive for the Post.

#154 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2008, 10:34 AM:

The problem with the media concentrating all their attention on Iowa and New Hampshire is just proof to me that Britney Spears and other scandal-prone celebs are not doing their part at this critical time. If we had a few more sans-underwear sightings of celebudantes, or more anti-semitic ravings from drunken movie stars, we would have the appropriate balance of news.

C'mon, Britney - losing custody of your kids isn't enough. Get busy.

#155 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2008, 11:42 AM:

Steve C @ 154

I thought she had gotten busy - maybe it's just that she's so uncreative about her public embarrassments. She needs to do something like climb a palm tree wrapped in a flag during a rainstorm with her hair on fire .... [Note that I'm not advocating the actual performance of this: I hope she gets her life straightened out. And then becomes an obscurity.]

#156 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2008, 12:47 PM:

Hey, if she climbed a palm tree during a rainstorm, wrapped in her hair, with a flag on fire, then she'd get some attention.

#157 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2008, 09:01 PM:

albatross @ #153

Not true. The Washington Post Corporation's journalistic properties are losing money. The Washington Post Corporation is making money because they own Kaplan, which is one of the few companies approved for providing educational support for children in underperforming schools under NCLB.

If the Washington Post Corporation doesn't get indefinite more of the same, they're screwed.

#158 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2008, 09:54 PM:

And the WashPost is getting smaller and smaller.

#159 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2008, 06:50 AM:

Bruce @ #149:
I think there may be too much bad blood between Obama and Clinton for that ticket to work, and I think it would undermine Obama's message of change. I'd say Obama-Edwards would be a possibility if Obama gets the nomination, but I'm not sure Edwards would take it. I think if it's Obama he needs an experienced veep to balance him, but I could see a pick like Bill Richardson or Joe Biden, someone with heavy foreign policy experience. Maybe Richardson would be more likely, as he's from the west, where the Democrats need to pick up electoral votes. But it could also be someone from out of left field; how about Obama/Bloomberg?

I'd like to see how a few more of the pre-2/5 primaries shake out before we hold a coronation for Obama, though. I saw a win in Iowa but I didn't see a complete knockout.

#160 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2008, 07:45 AM:

Susan @ 159

Bad blood? Well, maybe. But both Obama and Clinton are politicians going after the biggest game their kind know, so they are strongly motivated to do whatever it takes. And the choice of veep nominee is not the sole preogative of the pres nominee or his/her handlers; there's a whole bunch of power-brokers who have to be satisfied their constituencies and operational systems get their input on the outcome.

I suspect Clinton would take a deep breath and hold her nose, but still accept running with Osama bin Laden if that were her only option. Obama is a little less experienced, perhaps a little less calloused by the exigencies of political dealing*, but he's a politician, whatever he says up on the podium, and if he's persuaded he needs Clinton to get the party behind him, I think he'll bite the weenie.**

* less erudite politics: "less calloused by having to dry-hump fewer political bedfellows."
** These sexual images may be a little coarse, but any number of politicos are on record as saying that power is more compelling for them than sex. Except for the lines like Kissinger who insist that power is sex. You have to understand that level of compulsion to see why almost everything else is unimportant in political decisions.

#161 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2008, 09:04 AM:

Susan @ 159... I could see a pick like Bill Richardson

It's been said here in New Mexico that Richardson isn't really running for President, but for the veep job.

#162 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2008, 10:09 AM:

Serge, that's great to hear. He'd be a great veep for both electioneering and governing purposes.

#163 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2008, 10:10 AM:

Bruce #160:

It keeps striking me how little relevant experience the Democratic frontrunners have. That's kind of worrying, since I expect (and hope) that one of those three will win the election.

Clinton: Eight years in the senate, plus whatever she picked up in many years as political wife of a successful and powerful politician. Also a successful lawyer. (I'm not sure how to weigh time spent with no official power but a lot of influence and information. W also got a lot of exposure to real-world politics, connections and advisors from his father, and a family steeped in politics--how'd that work out for us?)

Edwards: Six years in the senate, and a successful law practice.

Obama: Three years in the US senate, and eight years in the Illinois state senate.

None of them have ever run a large organization. Clinton has spent her eight years in rather important ways in the Senate, and she's running as the experienced candidate, but it's hard to see her as such.

The Republicans seem to have more experience available, but generally mixed with stunningly bad ideas and flawed candidates. We have:

Huckabee: 12 years as AR governor, little national or international experience.

Romney: 8 years as MA governor, a fair bit of experience running things, at least some exposure to national and international issues.

Giuliani: Lots of experience in the Justice Dept., plus being mayor of NYC.

McCain: Military experience (I'm not sure he did a lot of running of a large organization, though) and tons of legislative experience, much of it involved in big issues. I find it hard to think of Clinton as experienced by comparison with McCain.

Paul: Medical practice, a little experience as a flight surgeon in the military, and lots of legislative experience, during which he was mostly on the fringes of real power.

It seems to me that Paul or Huckabee (two of the less qualified candidates among the Republicans) would stand out as having a lot of experience among the Democratic frontrunners. (However, Dodd, Richardson, and Biden all had a lot more experience than the frontrunners, so it doesn't look like experience has much impact on winning the nomination, at least not so far. Richarson looks, on paper, to be about as qualified as anyone running.)

#164 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2008, 10:13 AM:

Ronit @ 162... Yup. He carries some baggage though: remember the big mess with Wen Ho Lee and the misplaced Los Alamos hard-drive with all that sensitive information on it about nuclear kabooms? That happened when he was in charge. Of course, even if he had no baggage, the Republicans would manufacture some, so there's no point in worrying about that.

#165 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2008, 10:51 AM:

Could someone who served two terms as President of the US later serve as Vice-President?

Just askin'

#166 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2008, 11:10 AM:

albatross @ 163 -

Experience is fine, but not everything. Nixon was highly experienced, but a schmuck nonetheless.

#167 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2008, 12:07 PM:

Dave Luckett: (#165) We talked about that (here, I think), and the various amendments seem to balance out that no, a previous Pres, can't be VP.

#168 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2008, 12:20 PM:

Lack of experience can be countered by "get good advisors, and pay attention to what they say." That's one of the (many) places where The Deciderer has fallen down on the job; he's gotten a lot of good advice from people who know whereof they speak, and has ignored every last bit of it.

#169 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2008, 12:35 PM:

I remember reading that Bill Clinton made it a point to surround himself with smart people as long as they were not quite as smart as he was. Good thing that Chimpy didn't take that approach. On the other hand, would it really have made that much of a difference, what with his people not being reality-based?

#170 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2008, 02:10 PM:

Lee #168:

I think W followed some of his advisors, just not the ones who knew what they were talking about. I wonder sometimes if there isn't a requisite level of understanding and native intelligence and background in relevant details needed to be able to get much benefit from a big set of advisors. There's no way you can become an expert in everything a president needs to know to make good decisions, but some relevant background and experience and knowledge, plus the raw intellect needed to process it, are probably a big help in passing your advisors' ideas through a reasonably effective BS detector, deciding which advisors are worth listening to, etc.

This is a bit like using sophisticated computer and math and stat tools, right? I can give you a nice statistical package to help you look at regression models to understand all kinds of social forces. And yet, you need some background, some experience with the social phenomena involved, some familiarity with how things work, experience and lore of how statistical tools can rise up and bite you, etc., or you're pretty likely to come up with all kinds of silly models and ideas.

#171 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2008, 10:06 PM:

albatross@163: Romney was gov for only 4 years; he was the Repub's emergency replacement for a nonentity seatholder after he made a splash with the 2002 winter Olympics. AFAIK he knows squat about foreign policy -- witness the way he laced into Huckabee for having the nerve to speak mild truths about Bush's Iraq policy. His best-known managerial experience was in a venture-capital firm, which says nothing about his ability; I don't know whether the Olympics took a guess based on his father+religion+"experience" (i.e., he knew how to order people to make bricks out of straw and some of them figured out how), or saw some actual management experience I've lost track of.

#172 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2008, 11:01 PM:

albatross, #170: Now that gives me an interesting idea. What if Presidential candidates had to take an essay test in the following format: They are given a 2-page summary of a real-life historical scenario requiring a Presidential decision, with details obscured which would immediately identify it. The summary would effectively be the sort of briefing they might get from their Cabinet-level advisors. They get 2 hours to read the summary, think about their options, and write a 1-page response, explaining their decision and how they reached it. The summary, the real-life situation from which it was drawn, and each candidate's response, are made publicly available.

Obviously, someone with a really strong interest in history would have an advantage, because they might recognize the scenario even in its obscured form. This could be partially remedied by not confining the choices to American history, I think. And it might not even be possible to obscure any significant scenario enough that it wouldn't be immediately recognizable by anyone with a decent education. But if you could... DAMN, that would give a lot of insight into the way a candidate thinks!

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