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February 20, 2008

I wondered where Michael Bérubé had got to!
Posted by Patrick at 04:31 PM * 59 comments

Here he is, on TPM Cafe, arguing with Reed Hundt:

Yes, it’s possible…that “the Clintons will attack Obama in harsh, personal terms,” and that Clinton and McCain “will go low and will be outrageous.” (Though after Billy Shaheen’s inquiry into whether Obama might have done a little drug dealing, exactly how much lower can a fellow Democrat go? Is someone going to start a whispering campaign that Obama has fathered a white child out of wedlock?) But it’s also possible that the Clinton team will respond to last night’s drubbing in Wisconsin by becoming even more message-incompetent.

Ever since Super Tuesday, the Clinton campaign team has collectively sounded like Spinal Tap manager Ian Faith, he of the immortal line, “the Boston gig has been cancelled…I wouldn’t worry about it though, it’s not a big college town.” (One waits eagerly to learn why the Wisconsin vote doesn’t matter!) The next two weeks are going to be a challenge, especially since the campaign hadn’t bothered to learn the primary ropes in Texas. But beyond March 4, the Clinton camp is looking at some very dispiriting news. Here are the latest (Feb 18-19) polls from four insignificant states (none of them conducted by the bizarrely erratic ARG):

Virginia:
McCain (R) 48%, Clinton (D) 45%
McCain (R) 45%, Obama (D) 51%

Iowa:
McCain (R) 52%, Clinton (D) 41%
McCain (R) 41%, Obama (D) 51%

Minnesota:
McCain (R) 47%, Clinton (D) 42%
McCain (R) 38%, Obama (D) 53%

Wisconsin:
McCain (R) 49%, Clinton (D) 42%
McCain (R) 42%, Obama (D) 52%

Granted, these are only polls, and it’s only February. But this just can’t be good news for the Clinton campaign, and if I were a superdelegate (and why, now that I mention it, am I not a superdelegate? I think I’m pretty damn superdelegatious, myself), I would be looking hard at numbers like these. So perhaps the Clinton campaign will drop the charge that Obama is campaigning by using words, and attack numbers instead. This campaign is about solutions, not numbers—that might work! Or maybe Numbers don’t put food on the table. Numbers don’t fill up your tank or fill your prescription or do anything about that stack of bills that keeps you up at night.

Failing that, Mark Penn can lament that no one anticipated the breach of Super Tuesday, and that the campaign has actually been doing a heckuva job.

It’s sad, really. As I’ve said before, I have no animus against Hillary Clinton, and I don’t believe that Barack Obama is the chosen one who can bring balance to the Force, end the war with the machines, and destroy all of Voldemort’s horcruxes. But Hillary really is surrounded by the gang that can’t shoot straight, and for some reason I’ve grown leery of politicians who don’t fire incompetents.

I’d ask why Bérubé, these days, lounges around in dives like Talking Points Memo or Crooked Timber instead of writing his own damn blog where we can keep up with him, but I’m distracted by wondering, instead, why we don’t see him on the op-ed pages of the Times or the Post. Oh, right: we have official, certified wits like Maureen Dowd to handle the official funniness in the officially funny way. Ha ha, comrade. Ha.
Comments on I wondered where Michael Bérubé had got to!:
#1 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 05:00 PM:

Personally, I'm looking forward to having Wicca as the state religion.

Seriously, why don't you think Maureen Dowd is funny? I've read most of her book, but not her weekly editorial. Are the columns really that bad?

#2 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 05:08 PM:

Snap!

#3 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 05:09 PM:

Spherical Time #1: Maureen Dowd is funny in much the same way that striking your elbow on the doorjamb is humerus.

I think that Berubé is on to something. What the turnout numbers keep telling me is that the tide is turning. The Republicans have lost the centre of political life in the US and a smart Democrat can grab it. Coincidentally, it looks as if a smart Democrat may have done just that. In the process, he may also have done a couple of other things that would make the United States feel a lot better about itself at a time when it desperately needs to do so.

Simultaneously, the Republican Party has run out of ideas; it's putative standard bearer is the quintessential grumpy old man; its only messages are hate, fear, and bile. It doesn't look as if most Americans find this exactly appetising.

Maybe Berubé should be a superdelegate. It would be wonderful to see what his take would be from the convention floor in Denver.

#4 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 05:28 PM:

Fragano... The big thing will be in Denver? Huh oh... It seems to me that the Democratic Party loses the election whenever its convention is held in the same city and on the same year that we have a worldcon?

#5 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 05:44 PM:

Serge...that's deeply silly. Seriously. Do you wear the same lucky socks every primary night, too?

#6 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 05:47 PM:

Granted, Hawai'i is Obama's home state, but still: yesterday's caucus turnout was 10 times what the previous high turnout had been. ~37,000 people came out and stood in line for as long as three hours to cast their vote last night.

This is not the first instance where Democratic turnout has been huge this year. One can hope it keeps up in November, particularly if the Rs nominate that miserable old foof who isn't even liked by about a third of his own party.

#7 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 05:48 PM:

Skwid @ 5... Of course the whole thing is silly. My attempt at joking apparently turned into a tale of thud and blunder. I'd better shamble off, my head bowed in shame.

#8 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 05:49 PM:

ST @ 1: Maureen Dowd thought that mocking Al Gore for wearing earth tones was funny. I hear W laughed all the way to the Oval Office.

#9 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 05:51 PM:

It has often seemed to me that a number of elite academic bloggers (like Bérubé, Brad de Long, Henry Farrell, Belle Waring, and John Holbo) and elite policy bloggers (like Ezra Klein) have a hauntingly familiar sensibility and sense of humor in common.

It makes me wonder: do the elite colleges and post-graduate learning institutions feature courses in rhetoric informed by late-1970s APAs in science fiction fandom? The crowd I named above would have fit right into APA-50, or MISHAP, or AZAPA, or name your APA of choice.

(And why the hell doesn't Ken Josenhans have a blog? He'd be a natural.)

#10 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 05:53 PM:

skwid,

...that's deeply silly. Seriously.

i think serge has "deeply silly" embossed on his business cards, actually. but don't let that (or the mild manners) fool you....

#11 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 05:54 PM:

Of course, if Michael Bérubé were an apahack, he would no doubt have been dropped for lacktivity by now.

#12 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 06:00 PM:

miriam beetle @ 10... don't let that (or the mild manners) fool you....

They laughed at me at the university, but I'll show them! Bwahahahah!!!

#13 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 06:01 PM:

Yes, Michael Bérubé, he's no Mike Gunderloy.

#14 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 06:07 PM:

I’d ask why Bérubé, these days, lounges around in dives like Talking Points Memo or Crooked Timber instead of writing his own damn blog where we can keep up with him...

I don't have the chops to do it, but surely someone who knows a bit of html and how to work an rss feed (and probably a few other things I don't even know I'd need to know how to do) could write a little program that would automatically grab any post he writes on TPM or CT or Pandagon (the three I know about) and post it to a blog? Say, "michaelberube.blogspot.com" which looks like it's unused (and which would be free to use)?

It'd be a public service...

#15 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 07:00 PM:

Serge #4: We've been lamenting the fact that they weren't on the same weekend. It would be even better than the old CES/AVN* mixup that used to happen in Vegas every year.

*Consumer Electronics Show/Adult Entertainment Expo

#16 ::: Darth Paradox ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 07:01 PM:

And now I'm imagining the Democratic National Convention and WorldCon held in the same city not only in the same year, but over the same weekend.

Oh, the chaos would be glorious.

#17 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 07:26 PM:

Lance and Darth... And all of them in the same hotel. Renminds me of the time (1997?) that the NASFiC was held in LA in the same hotel as a Charismatic Gathering. (Those guys dressed like monks were not with our con.)

#18 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 07:30 PM:

Well, there was that one time we held Tacticon at the same hotel as an evangelical convention. Oh, and guess who was ConCoord? Now that was interesting

#19 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 07:42 PM:

Darth @ 16: "And the Democratic delegates from the great planet of Vulcan are proud* to cast their votes for...."

*They can be proud; they're just not going to be overly emotional about it.

#20 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 07:57 PM:

Overheard at the DNC/WC mashup:

Look 'Superman', for the last goddamn time, that doesn't make you a super-delegate...

No, this is not the line for Hugo nominations

It's just a straw Go-Bama hat, I'm not "from" any movie or book, and I have no idea what your cuz plays...

Sure, I like furry things, show meAAAAAAHHHHHH

Uryyb, yvggyr shpx (NSFW)

#21 ::: Jonah ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 08:09 PM:

I'm not a huge Clinton fan, but I find it disturbing that so many people apparently hate Clinton so much that they would rather vote for John "1,000 years in Iraq" McCain. I mean, statistically speaking at least some of the people who are saying they would vote for McCain are also people who say they want the US out of Iraq, right?

#22 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 08:16 PM:

There is a link tho his archived log entries at his site.

#23 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 08:26 PM:

Jonah @ 21

I think the leading theory is that Obama'a younger and more vocal supporters came to voting age immersed in a media atmosphere of 'The Clintons are evil!' and have not had been exposed to or have forgotten what they actually did do.

I also suspect (pulling this from the aether) that a few of the supporters are also indulging in a quaint Republican custom of rat-f__king to set Democratic voters at each others throats and to lower the turn out on the D's side.

#24 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 08:43 PM:

Darth Paradox in #16:

And now I'm imagining the Democratic National Convention and WorldCon held in the same city not only in the same year, but over the same weekend.

Oh, the chaos would be glorious.

In January, 1993, I wrote:

In planning for the Worldcon in Chicago in 1991 [...] I learned that the Libertarian Party was holding its national convention the very same week in the very same town!

Then I learned that this was not done by accident.

In my opinion, a political party that schedules its national convention so delegates can conveniently attend the World Science Fiction Convention is not yet ready to be taken seriously on the American scene. (-:

Jim Kasprzak then wrote:

Heh, maybe it means that America isn't ready for _them_.

Touché.

#25 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 08:48 PM:

Stephen Frug at #14 writes:

I don't have the chops to do it, but surely someone who knows a bit of html and how to work an rss feed (and probably a few other things I don't even know I'd need to know how to do) could write a little program that would automatically grab any post he writes on TPM or CT or Pandagon (the three I know about) and post it to a blog? Say, "michaelberube.blogspot.com" which looks like it's unused (and which would be free to use)?

It'd be a public service...

It'd feel like stalking to me. (Unless the Professor gave his blessing to the effort. In advance.)

#26 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 09:26 PM:

17 & 18

Well, there was the Westercon in Phoenix that was scheduled right after the Jaycees' national convention. The problem was that they couldn't leave before electing a new president. It took twenty-some ballots that year before the white smoke went up.

#27 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 09:38 PM:

I have to share this John McCain video...it's a parody of "Yes We Can"

#28 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 10:07 PM:

This whole McCain dates the lobbyist story is kind of interesting. OBClinton smear: oh, I dunno... probably Hillary was the lobbyist's bi-lover and releasing the story was revenge for...? I dunno, it's too hard to think up stuff like that.

But anyway, I feel the story around it is going to be more interesting than the story itself. Maybe.

#29 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2008, 11:03 PM:

I just tried to cobble together a Unified Bérubé feed using Yahoo Pipes, but it currently doesn't have any output. Over on Crooked Timber, it's been long enough since he posted anything that there aren't any Bérubé posts in the current feed. TPM Cafe is worse, because their feed doesn't seem to work at all. I found a working Feedburner feed for tpmcafe, but its content is entirely different from what's showing up on the TPM Cafe front page!

#30 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 04:48 AM:

20: No, it's not a costume, dammit, I am Paul Krugman

We have a problem; looks like David Langford has been nominated as the vice-presidential candidate

I don't care how appealling it sounds; we are not having a universal health care system based on a government supply of stroon

#31 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 06:05 AM:

"superdelegatious"

I thought this was spelled "superdelegatatistic" as in the canonical phrase, "Superdelegatatistic, let's be less atrocious!" or the slightly lesser known "Superdelegatatistic, Rep. from West Kenosha"

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 09:29 AM:

Next thing you know, we'll have a gorn as the Vice-President. Hmmm... Isn't that what's already in the White House?

#33 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 10:39 AM:

Serge @ 32

Much would be explained by knowing we have a Kzin in the Oval Office.

"It's simple, General, you stand at the border of Iraq, then you scream and leap."

#34 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 12:37 PM:

... who tend to lose wars because of their tendency to attack before they are quite ready?

No, no. We've got a Centauri. Emperor Cartagia, to be precise.

"Only an idiot would fight a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the Kingdom of Idiot would fight a war on twelve fronts."

#35 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 02:09 PM:

ajay, #34: Yes, it is amazing how much of B5 is dead on target (or even more applicable) 10 years later!

#36 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 03:33 PM:

re #25: I totally fail to see how reprinting freely available, publically-posted items from three different group blogs to one feed blog would constitute "stalking". It seems to bend the word beyond all reason.

Anyway, as I said, I'm not going to do it, because I don't know how. I certainly think that it would be totally reasonable for some to do it without asking first... although, obviously, if MB then asked it to be taken down, his request should be honored.

But anyway "stalking" seems totally over-the-top as a term.

#37 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 05:48 PM:

#18: Well, there was that one time we held Tacticon at the same hotel as an evangelical convention.

Bah. You clearly missed the Millennium PhilCon (WorldCon 2001) and one of the more notorious cases of mistaken identity in fandom.

#38 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 06:38 PM:

Glenn: I was there, but my memory of it is dim, due to the intensity of events shortly after that. Remind us of the mistaken identity, please?

#39 ::: Michael Bérubé ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 07:20 PM:

I think I would consider it "tracking" instead of "stalking," and actually, I'd be kinda flattered. I haven't posted at Pandagon in ages, but I do try to chip in at CT once a month (and I'd prefer every week or so, but am still crawling out from under a mess of work), and I've been doing some TPM Café posts because this primary season makes for so much bloggy goodness.

I still have dreams about firing up the ol' personal blog again someday. Who knows? It might be fun.

#40 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 07:43 PM:

Xopher (38): The evangelical types sharing the space mistook Glenn-the-Jedi for Jesus.

#41 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 07:48 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 40: OMG!

Or would that be akin to heresy?

#42 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 07:54 PM:

Michael 39: Hey, that's permission if I've ever heard any. Drop in here more often, too, eh?

Mary Aileen 40: You have GOT to be kidding. What did they do? I mean...they really thought it was Jesus? They were wacky (I spent a fair bit of time talking to one of them), but I didn't know they were THAT far out.

#43 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 08:03 PM:

Hey, did the pastor hold a special prayer session with his attendees to ask God to save our poor misguided geeky souls? Ours did...

#44 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 09:17 PM:

A while back, I was at a USENIX conference in New Orleans that was sharing the hotel with a Mary Kay Cosmetics sales conference.

(I wonder how bad it was for the valet parking staff? "Pink car, pink car, pink car...oh, there's the pink car I'm looking for.")

#45 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 10:38 PM:

P.J. Evans: I remember that con. It was 42 ballots, the Hotel actually forced them to go (by using a clause in the, poorly negotiated contract, which only guaranteed the convention rate until Saturday morning; when all of them were informed the room rate was going up to something like $200 a night, the next ballot did the trick).

The hotel staff was so nice to us (Adams, now Hilton).

What was truly horrid (for those of us attending conventions in/around Phoenix that year, was that every one of them seemed to be colocated with a preliminary convention to the National.

Admittedly, the duck-calls, horridly loud parties, butt-pinching and use of the Jacuzzi to mull wine by raising body temperature were an apotheosis of the trials we'd been bearing for the previous nine-months, but it seemed we'd never be rid of them.

The amusing thing... the Jaycees arrived the day a convention of beauty pageant types was leaving. THe hotel staff was so happy to have SF fans. They'd had a long week.

#46 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2008, 11:23 PM:

I still have dreams about firing up the ol' personal blog again someday. Who knows? It might be fun.

Hey, well I guess all that "hope" stuff might be right!

And what with Mr. Answer Man coming back... it's morning in America. Or something.

(Lest this be taken as sarcasm, it's not. Do, please! Fire up the blog again!!)

#47 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2008, 10:13 AM:

Darth@16:

That reminds me of the time my college gaming group had its yearly con on the same weekend and in the same building as a Campus Crusade for Christ event (it turns out, this was a deliberate act on the part of the people who let us use the building; they didn't actually like us very much).

I promptly responded by putting up Campus Crusade for Cthulhu posters ("Serve the Elder God"). The con organizers were not pleased.

#48 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2008, 10:32 AM:

Terry @ 45

I remembered it as, like, 27 ballots, but yes, lot of them and well into Friday night. (And that the Jaycees were trying to get around the hotel by checking out and checking right back in; the hotel, noticing this, started charging them full winter (prime season) rates.)

There was one convention - I think it was Trek, but at this distance in time I won't admit to certainty - that was in the LA Marriott right after one that was parole officers.

I also recall reading, in Locus, that the liquor dealers in St Louis preferred fans to the GOP national convention, which had been there a couple of weeks before Worldcon in 1976. Fans bought more stuff from them.

#49 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2008, 10:33 AM:

Xopher (42): Nope, not kidding. It might have been just one woman, though. You'll have to ask Glenn for details. I wasn't a witness; I heard everything second-hand (mostly from Glenn).

#50 ::: Melinda Snodgrass ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2008, 10:37 AM:

The situation in which the Clinton campaign finds itself really does remind me of that old saw that "no battle plan survives contact with the enemy". Apparently they planned for wrapping up the nomination on Super Duper, Duper Tuesday, and when that didn't happen they had no fall back position.

The Obama ground game has been so stunning, and against a very tough opponent that it ought to lay to rest the idea he can't stand up to the Grumpy Old White Guy, or that he can't organize. The way some commentators have talked about his "lack of experience" they make it sound like he would screw up a one horse funeral.

Granted he doesn't have years of Washington experience, but he is thoughtful and analytical. You don't teach Constitutional law without those skills. Unlike W he is curious and he educates himself on the issues, and he makes people feel good. Which I think is one of the more important tasks for a President.

#51 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2008, 11:46 AM:

Melinda @ 50: The situation in which the Clinton campaign finds itself really does remind me of that old saw that "no battle plan survives contact with the enemy". Apparently they planned for wrapping up the nomination on Super Duper, Duper Tuesday, and when that didn't happen they had no fall back position.

Gee...who else's battle plan does that remind me of?

That can't be a good sign.

#52 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2008, 05:07 PM:

Richard Brandt@51

Although at least the Clinton campaign had good historical reasons to think the contest would be wrapped up by Super Tuesday (if not earlier).

#53 ::: Terri in Tokyo ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2008, 09:22 PM:

cheers to Mr. Berube!

and, in what I hope is a positive and prescient precursor of upcoming progressive phenomena, YearlyKos '07 shared our hotel with...The African American Shriners (and Lollapalooza, too)

#54 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2008, 10:30 PM:

One of the MapleCons, shutting down, collided with a convention of Southern Baptist bishops, on their way into the space. High jinks and exorcism ensued.

#55 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 05:36 PM:

Joel #54:

One of the defining characteristics of Southern Baptists is that they don't do bishops. Muckety-mucks, yes, but bishops smack of popery.

#56 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 10:06 PM:

I wonder if Joel means Baptist Bishops from the south. There are a lot of black churchs that are Baptist and have Bishops.

The last time I ate at The Great American Buffet (great fresh veggies in the salad bar), a table of three black ministers were next to me. There were a lot of black folks in who knew two of these guys and came over for a handshake (men) or side-hug (women). The other minister kept interrupting and telling them all that he was Bishop of Something and he'd done this and that and he'd like to get to know them. When the three ministers were leaving, this third one handed out business cards to all the black folk in the place. It was amusing to watch.

#57 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 11:15 PM:

Hmm. To be honest, I didn't see that bit of nonsense myself; I was helping with some other bit of art-show take-down. I was told by someone else who was present that they were "southern Baptist bishops". It's possible that the "southern" wasn't intended as a proper-noun modifier, or that the person who told me was simply mistaken about some detail.

#58 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 11:37 PM:

Or they were just panicking, since as you know Southern Baptists are the ones who never travel without pitchforks and torches, and are constantly on the lookout for homosekshuls and deevul worshipers to burn at the stake.

#59 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 06:59 PM:

Mary Dell @ 27: nice video! But now I've got "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran!" on the brain.

And "Superdelegatilisticexpialidocious".

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