"It's so built into my system, that it's going to be hard to stop," says Politico's Ben Smith. Smith, who started blogging about New York politics in 2005, is now seriously addicted to the pace and metabolism--a word many invoked to describe the election's rhythms--of the blogger's life. He finds himself especially energized by the intensity of his readers who, by 4 a.m. have posted dozens of comments to a 3 a.m. post and who are now some of Smith's best sources, sending him scoops and stories and snapshots of a far-roaming campaign. His family, however, is eagerly looking forward to November 5th. Smith's wife repeatedly threatens to flush his Blackberry down the toilet; his kids, jealous of his "running conversation" with his readers, regularly squirrel away the device in the off chance they find it unattended. But Smith can't bring himself to stop. Recently, he returned at 2 a.m. from a fishing trip and "couldn't not plug in after being off the grid for an entire day." He stayed up blogging and answering emails until 6 a.m.
"It's really pathological," he conceded.
I’m sympathetic to [Tucker] Eskew and [Nicolle] Wallace, and not just because they’re decent people. They’ve held their tongue from leaking what a couple of McCain higher-ups have told me—namely, that Palin simply knew nothing about national and international issues. Which meant, as one such adviser said to me: “Letting Sarah be Sarah may not be such a good thing.” It’s a grim binary choice, but apparently it came down to whether to make Palin look like a scripted robot or an unscripted ignoramus (emphasis added).Of course, this speaks just as badly of McCain as it does of Palin. He's the one who wedged himself into a Palinesque dilemma. UPDATE: Given all the speculation about Palin in 2012, it should be noted that just because she was uninformed in September 2008 does not mean she'll stay that way. I'll be interested to see what course she charts over the next few years. ANOTHER UPDATE: Conor Friedersdorf is immune to irrational arguments about Palin:
In case you haven’t been paying attention, an enormous turnout at an Obama rally means that he is a celebrity cult leader who talks pretty to his mindless supporters but lacks substance, whereas smaller crowds turning out to see Palin prove that she is the best decision John McCain has ever made, and that she is obviously qualified to be vice-president.
Brown: So are you going to run for governor? Barkley: I plan on it in 2014. Brown: You are serious. Barkley: I am, I can't screw up Alabama. Brown: There is no place to go but up in your view? Barkley: We are number 48 in everything and Arkansas and Mississippi aren't going anywhere.Dammit, the man stole my campaign motto: "Vote Drezner -- he can't screw it up any worse."
One of the sharpest and most telling differences on foreign policy between Barack Obama and John McCain is whether the United States should talk to difficult and disreputable leaders like Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Venezuela's Hugo Chávez. In each of the three presidential debates, McCain belittled Obama as naive for arguing that America should be willing to negotiate with such adversaries. In the vice presidential debate, Sarah Palin went even further, accusing Obama of "bad judgment … that is dangerous," an ironic charge given her own very modest foreign-policy credentials. Are McCain and Palin correct that America should stonewall its foes? I lived this issue for 27 years as a career diplomat.... maybe that's why I've been struggling to find the real wisdom and logic in this Republican assault against Obama. I'll bet that a poll of senior diplomats who have served presidents from Carter to Bush would reveal an overwhelming majority who agree with the following position: of course we should talk to difficult adversaries—when it is in our interest and at a time of our choosing. The more challenging and pertinent question, especially for the McCain-Palin ticket, is the reverse: Is it really smart to declare we will never talk to such leaders? Is it really in our long-term national interest to shut ourselves off from one of the most important and powerful states in the Middle East—Iran—or one of our major suppliers of oil, Venezuela?So, who do you think wrote this?
TNR. Not Really That Funny.
Based on this interview, it seems unlikely that Obama opposes constitutionalizing the redistributive agenda because he's an originalist, or otherwise endorses the Constitution as a "charter of negative liberties," though he explicitly recognizes that this is how the Constitution has been interpreted since the Founding. Rather, he seems to think that focusing on litigation distracts liberal activists from necessary political organizing, and that any radical victories they might manage to win from the courts would be unstable because those decisions wouldn't have public backing. The way to change judicial decisions, according to Obama, is to change the underlying political and social dynamics; changes in the law primarily follow changes in society, not vice versa. Again, he's channeling Rosenberg and Klarman. And this attitude on Obama's part shouldn't be surprising, given that he decided to go into politics rather than become a full-time University of Chicago constitutional law professor, as he was offered. Had he been committed to the idea that courts are at the forefront of social change, he would have been inclined to take a potentially very influential position at Chicago. (And judging from this interview, he would likely have been a great con law professor, both as a teacher and scholar, and, had he been so inclined, legal activist.) All that said, there is no doubt from the interview that he supports "redistributive change," a phrase he uses at approximately the 41.20 mark in a context that makes it clear that he is endorsing the redistribution of wealth by the government through the political process. What I don't understand is why this is surprising, or interesting enough to be headlining Drudge [UPDATE: Beyond the fact that Drudge's headline suggests, wrongly, that Obama states that the Supreme Court should have ordered the redistribution of income; as Orin says, his views on the subject, beyond that it was an error to promote this agenda in historical context, are unclear.]. At least since the passage of the first peacetime federal income tax law about 120 years ago, redistribution of wealth has been a (maybe the) primary item on the left populist/progressive/liberal agenda, and has been implicitly accepted to some extent by all but the most libertarian Republicans as well. Barack Obama is undoubtedly liberal, and his background is in political community organizing in poor communities. Is it supposed to be a great revelation that Obama would like to see wealth more "fairly" distributed than it is currently? It's true that most Americans, when asked by pollsters, think that it's emphatically not the government's job to redistribute wealth. But are people so stupid as to not recognize that when politicians talk about a "right to health care," or "equalizing educational opportunities," or "making the rich pay a fair share of taxes," or "ensuring that all Americans have the means to go to college," and so forth and so on, that they are advocating the redistribution of wealth? Is it okay for a politician to talk about the redistribution of wealth only so long as you don't actually use phrases such as "redistribution" or "spreading the wealth," in which case he suddenly becomes "socialist"? If so, then American political discourse, which I never thought to be especially elevated, is in even a worse state than I thought. (emphasis added)I'm general not keen on used the state to redistribute wealth simply in order to reduce income inequality. This is not an aspect of Obama's platform that fills me with warm fuzzies. To go from there to "SOCIALIST!! SOCIALIST!!" however, is just nuts. By this criteria, Milton "negative income tax" Friedman was also a socialist.
I think the notion that mere election of Obama would represent a “soft power surge” as it were, should be tempered. It’s not that there would be no Obama effect. It’s just that it would be concentrated in places where elites are enthusiastic about him and his policies. This would mean Europe, Africa and Latin America, I suspect. Other regions — the Middle East, Russia and Asia — might be less receptive.As the race draws to a close, I see prominent commentators are starting to speculate about whether electing Obama would bring a soft power surge. Hey, now we have some real live data! Foreign Policy and Gallup have run polls in 70 countries from May to September 2008. The big findings:
Gallup Polls conducted in 70 countries from May to September 2008 reveal widespread international support for Democratic Sen. Barack Obama over Republican Sen. John McCain in the U.S. presidential election. Among these nations, representing nearly half of the world's population, 30% of citizens say they would personally rather see Obama elected president of the United States, compared with just 8% who say the same about McCain. At the same time, 62% of world citizens surveyed did not have an opinion.Looking at the interactive map, I see that my initial supposition was partly in error. I was right about Europe and Africa leaning heavily towards Obama. I was surprised to see, however, that Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia all trended towards Obama as well. On the other hand, large swathes of Latin America and South Asia are pretty indifferent to the whole election. As for McCain, there was no country in which enthusiasm for him outpaced Don't Know/Refuse to Say. He did the best in Georgia (23% to 18% over Obama, with 62% not knowing or saying). One final thought -- it's too bad that other countries (Russia, China, Brazil, Ukraine, Iraq, Israel, Indonesia) were not polled. UPDATE: Two online and unscientific global responses: one from the Economist and one at If the World Could Vote. At The National Interest, Nikolas Gvosdev points out that the global affection for Obama could be fleeting:
It would be foolhardy for the Obama team to assume that these strong ratings can easily and swiftly be translated into renewed acceptance of U.S. policies. And publics in other countries that are expecting an Obama administration would reverse or alter every last policy of the Bush administration are going to be disappointed.
One question likely to be posed is whether these findings provide evidence that the news media are pro-Obama. Is there some element in these numbers that reflects a rooting by journalists for Obama and against McCain, unconscious or otherwise? The data do not provide conclusive answers. They do offer a strong suggestion that winning in politics begets winning coverage, thanks in part to the relentless tendency of the press to frame its coverage of national elections as running narratives about the relative position of the candidates in the polls and internal tactical maneuvering to alter those positions. Obama's coverage was negative in tone when he was dropping in the polls, and became positive when he began to rise, and it was just so for McCain as well. Nor are these numbers different than those we have seen before. Obama's numbers are similar to what we saw for John Kerry four years ago as he began rising in the polls, and McCain's numbers are almost identical to those recorded eight years ago for Democrat Al Gore.
What the findings also reveal is the reinforcing -- rather than press-generated -- effects of media. We see a repeating pattern here in which the press first offers a stenographic account of candidate rhetoric and behavior, while also on the watch for misstatements and gaffes. Then, in a secondary reaction, it measures the political impact of what it has reported. This is magnified in particular during presidential races by the prevalence of polling and especially daily tracking polls. While this echo effect exists in all press coverage, it is far more intense in presidential elections, with the explosion of daily tracking polls, state polls, poll aggregation websites and the 24-hour cable debate over their implications. Even coverage of the candidate's policy positions and rhetoric, our reading of these stories suggests, took on the cast of horse race coverage.
[H]e's concerned about the effect of rhetoric from some hate groups or individuals during the campaign. "There's a general level of intemperateness in the discussion as we approach the election,'' he said. ``Do I worry that it could trigger in a disturbed individual a desire to do something? Absolutely, I worry about it.'' (emphasis added).Gee, whichever campaign could Chertoff be talking about? [UPDATE: Ross Douthat points out that Chertoff should also be concerned about campaign artwork.] And before all the Obama supporters get all giddy about this, let me add that I have some decidedly mixed feelings about this statement comming from the head of DHS. Here's my question: in what way is Chertoff's statement here different from the much-lambasted Ari Fleischer statement that, "Americans... need to watch what they say, watch what they do. This is not a time for remarks like that; there never is."? (on the disputed meaning of Fleischer's remarks, click here and here.) To be fair to Chertoff, this is a quote from a reporter -- I'd like to know everything he said on this question. I guess my point is, that Chertoff might want to follow Fleischer's advice. UPDATE: Via Andrew Sullivan, this video suggests how the McCain campaign should be handling this sort of problem.
While most pollsters employ real people--sitting in call centers, wearing headsets--to gather data for them, Leve relies on these machines. His innovation is to get news anchors from local television affiliates in the areas he's sampling to record scripts for him. A trusted anchor's voice conveys that the call is "legitimate, authentic, civic-minded, and not a scam," Leve says, and people are less likely to hang up on the call. (In return for their anchors' services, the affiliates get to make use of Leve's findings.) A SurveyUSA poll is like an airline's automated customer-assistance system--press one if you support John McCain, press two for Barack Obama--except that you receive the call instead of placing it. With the raw results in hand, Leve will make some technical adjustments and write an analysis, which he will send to one of the more than 50 media outlets that commission his work and feature it in their print and television news stories. This sort of computerized polling is controversial--but also increasingly popular, thanks to its lightning speed and low cost. "Gallup might charge $10,000 and take four to five days," Leve boasts. "We can do that in one night, for maybe a thousand dollars."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Sam Wang has an interesting post on the incentives of pollsters and media outlets who use them -- but I think he's exaggerating the phenomenon he describes.
Consider this list:Well.... the thing about that list is that everyone on it is pretty old. And I'm not sure how many yonger realists there are on the GOP side. Hence the title to this post.
The dirty little secret is that all of these pragmatic conservatives have more in common with Obama's world view and that of the progressive community as a whole than they do with McCain and Neoconservatism. Right now most of them are sticking with McCain because of old friendships and loyalties, a desire to stay out of politics, or because they are social and economic conservatives. But don't be surprised if Powell's endorsement will encourage more of these pragmatic foreign policy conservatives to come over to the Democrats over the next few years. But don't be surprised if Powell's endorsement will encourage more of these pragmatic foreign policy conservatives to come over to the Democrats over the next few years.
- Colin Powell has endorsed Barack Obama.
- Richard Lugar, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has endorsed Obama's approach to diplomacy over that of McCain.
- Brent Scowcroft refuses to endorse either way. Pretty telling for a former Republican national security advisor, especially since he was opposed to the war in Iraq.
- James Baker continues to support direct talks with Iran and has for the past two years. (Actually just read the entire five secretaries of state even transcript from CNN. It's one big endorsement of Obama's foreign policy)
- Kissinger and Schultz are op-eds in the Washington Post and Financial Times calling for a more moderate approach towards Russia.
- Kissinger has also called for direct talks with Iran (At the Secretary of State level).
- Chuck Hagel has traveled to Iraq with Obama and while not publicly endorsing looks to be pretty clearly in favor of Obama.
- Secretary of Defense Bob Gates is giving speeches that sound a lot more like an Obama foreign policy than a McCain foreign policy.
By the spring, the McCain campaign had reportedly sent scouts to Alaska to start vetting Palin as a possible running mate. A week or so before McCain named her, however, sources close to the campaign say, McCain was intent on naming his fellow-senator Joe Lieberman, an independent, who left the Democratic Party in 2006. David Keene, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, who is close to a number of McCain’s top aides, told me that “McCain and Lindsey Graham”—the South Carolina senator, who has been McCain’s closest campaign companion—“really wanted Joe.” But Keene believed that “McCain was scared off” in the final days, after warnings from his advisers that choosing Lieberman would ignite a contentious floor fight at the Convention, as social conservatives revolted against Lieberman for being, among other things, pro-choice. “They took it away from him,” a longtime friend of McCain—who asked not to be identified, since the campaign has declined to discuss its selection process—said of the advisers. “He was furious. He was pissed. It wasn’t what he wanted.” Another friend disputed this, characterizing McCain’s mood as one of “understanding resignation.” With just days to go before the Convention, the choices were slim. Karl Rove favored McCain’s former rival Mitt Romney, but enough animus lingered from the primaries that McCain rejected the pairing. “I told Romney not to wait by the phone, because ‘he doesn’t like you,’ ” Keene, who favored the choice, said. “With John McCain, all politics is personal.” Other possible choices—such as former Representative Rob Portman, of Ohio, or Governor Tim Pawlenty, of Minnesota—seemed too conventional. They did not transmit McCain’s core message that he was a “maverick.” Finally, McCain’s top aides, including Steve Schmidt and Rick Davis, converged on Palin. Ed Rogers, the chairman of B.G.R., a well-connected, largely Republican lobbying firm, said, “Her criteria kept popping out. She was a governor—that’s good. The shorter the Washington résumé the better. A female is better still. And then there was her story.” He admitted, “There was concern that she was a novice.” In addition to Schmidt and Davis, Charles R. Black, Jr., the lobbyist and political operative who is McCain’s chief campaign adviser, reportedly favored Palin. Keene said, “I’m told that Charlie Black told McCain, ‘If you pick anyone else, you’re going to lose. But if you pick Palin you may win.’ ” (Black did not return calls for comment.) Meanwhile, McCain’s longtime friend said, “Kristol was out there shaking the pom-poms.”I actually think Black's assessment was correct, but surely someone as obsessed with honor as John McCain might have cared just a little bit about post-election governing, no? *One meme that I've seen forming in the past month is that Palin has done fine except for the Katie Couric interview, and that was only because Couric asked follow-up questions. With all due respect, that's a load of bull. Her interviews with Gibson and Hannity were almost as bad as her Couric interactions. Her debate performance wore thin after the first 15 minutes. She's committed a variety of smaller gaffes at her campaign rallies. Between her convention speech and her Saturday Night Live appearance, almost every Palin action that a camera has recorded has not treated her favorably. She's been listed as a key reason for a string of conservative editorial board endorsements of Obama. This cannot be chalked up to a few miscues. Palin's campaign performance has been an abject disaster.
So a canvasser goes to a woman's door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she's planning to vote for. She isn't sure, has to ask her husband who she's voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, "We're votin' for the n***er!" Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: "We're voting for the n***er."From Ben Smith:
New polling and a trickle of stories from the battleground states suggest that Sen. Barack Obama's coalition includes one unlikely group: white voters with negative views of African-Americans.... Anecdotes from across the battlegrounds suggest that there’s a significant minority of prejudiced white voters who will swallow hard and vote for the black man. “I wouldn’t want a mixed marriage for my daughter, but I’m voting for Obama,” the wife of a retired Virginia coal miner, Sharon Fleming, told the Los Angeles Times recently. One Obama volunteer told Politico after canvassing the working-class white Philadelphia neighborhood of Fishtown recently, "I was blown away by the outright racism, but these folks are … undecided. They would call him a [racial epithet] and mention how they don't know what to do because of the economy.”Just to be subversive here, these are the kinds of interactions that could lead to a greater Bradley effect than has been anticipated for this election cycle. While people with these kind of attitudes might be telling canvassers, pollsters, and reporters that they're thinking of voting for Obama, I do wonder if that inclination will dissipate when they have to punch the ticket. Developing.... UPDATE: Folks in the comments section make an excellent counterargument -- the Bradley effect only exists if people are self-conscious enough about their racism to shield it from pollsters, and the people in these anecdotes do not appear to be doing that. So who knows. ANOTHER UPDATE: One counterpoint to the counterargument. To put it gently, the people quoted in the above excerpts don't sound like the most media-savvy individuals in the world. So maybe they're trying to please reporters et al but are doing it in a very ham-handed way.
The problem is that the squigglys may give thirty random strangers from Bumbleweed, Ohio just too damned much power to influence public perception. The squigglys influence the home viewers, the home viewers participate in the snap polls, the snap polls influence the pundits, the pundits influence the narrative and -- voilà! -- perceptions are entrenched.... What I'd suggest is that the CPD ask the network to refrain from including focus-group reactions in their live broadcasts of the debates. If the networks want to include the squigglys in their re-broadcasts of the debates, or perhaps on their Internet streams, I'd be all for that. But I think the viewer should be entitled to formulate her own, independent reaction to the debate, rather than having to share her television with Joe the Plumber and some guys from his neighborhood.Be sure to check out this old-school post from Mark Blumenthal on why these dial-testers are not a representative sample. Now, here's the thing: Silver's basic argument is that watching these dial-testers creates peer effects among voters -- and voting should be an independent decision of the individual. I concur. But shouldn't this logic extend to the actual voting process as well? I bring this up because of the astonishing rise in early voting. If this New York Times story by Kirk Johnson is correct (and let's concede that the story is impressionistic), then a lot of early voting is taking place collectively rather than individually:
The presidential debate had barely ended Wednesday night when Kristin Marshall had her ballot on her lap, pen in hand, ready to vote. Three friends, all supporters of Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, had their ballots, too. “Obama’s the second one down — don’t accidentally pick the first,” said Ms. Marshall, 27, a reference to the ballot placement of Senator John McCain, Mr. Obama’s Republican opponent, as her living room of Obama supporters erupted in laughter. The traditional American vote — a solitary moment behind a black curtain in a booth, civics in secret — was never thus.... The Obama campaign made a big effort this week to encourage debate-and-vote parties like the one at Ms. Marshall’s home here in Larimer County, another pivotal county with a lot of mail-balloting.... In coming up with strategies to get out the mail-in vote in Colorado, both campaigns have focused on making the mail-in voters feel part of a bigger movement. The Obama campaign’s debate-and-vote parties, for example, were intended to create a feel of civic participation. Republican efforts to hand-deliver packets create a support structure for voters who might feel put off by the lack of Election Day traditions, volunteers said. “We’re a friendly face at the door,” said Jim Kepler, a real-estate broker and Republican volunteer in Greeley who has assisted in delivering the information packets. “We’re there to help them, and they like that.”Again, call me old school, but I like the tradition of going to the polling place, because it's a unique combination of civic community and the rights of the individual. You go with your fellow citizens to a common locale, maybe you chat up a few of them before and after you vote -- but once you're in the booth, it's just you and your conscience. If you read Johnson's piece, you can see some counterarguments in favor of early voting, but they all revolve around the point that the Voting Day process can be cumbersome and problematic. But the answer to this is not to encourage early voting, it's to fix the Election Day process. There are many aspects of campaigns and elections that are social -- as they should be. But the action of voting itself should not be made by the individual. For all the good intentions that are used to justify it, I worry that early voting undercuts that individual decision. I eagerly await all the younglings to tell me that I'm clueless on this one. UPDATE: Daniel Davies weighs in against Nate Silver. I will concede that his idea of having the dialers hang around after the debate and respond to CNN's commentators would be awesome.
Did Barack "Spread the Wealth" Obama Just Blow the Election? No. Really. You're kidding me. Barack Obama actually told that Joe the Plumber guy that he wants to "spread the wealth around." What, did Obama just get done reading the Wikipedia entry on Huey "Share the Wealth" Long or something? Was he somehow channeling that left-wing populist from the Depression? Talk about playing into the most extreme stereotype of your party, that it is infested with socialists.Let's review -- in the past two months, the Bush administration, with the bipartisan support of Congress, has essentially nationalized Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG. The Federal Reserve has promised to back the commercial paper market. The Treasury Department has purchased equity stakes in nine major banks. Loan guarantees have been thrown at the automobile sector. After all this, I'm supposed to believe that an increase in the highest marginal tax rate from 35% to 39% is the ne plus ultra of socialism? I want to see a flat tax as much as the next libertarian, but given the events of the past two months, I just don't think "spread the wealth" is the tipping point after which the Reds took over America. Dear readers, am I overreacting or underreacting here?
To me, the crux of the matter is that McCain can’t get out of the habits that served him very well when he was a Senator building a glowing national reputation largely by talking directly to elite members of the political press. If you watched the previous two presidential debates, plus the VP debate, plus about half of the Democratic primary debates, plus the prime time speeches at the Democratic National Convention, and you’ve seen a dozen Obama surrogates yakking on cable a dozen times each just since Lehman Brothers went under then it gets kind of boring to watch Obama stay calm and repeat his talking points on the key issues. But the debate is targeted at folks who haven’t watched all that stuff. And a lot of McCain’s best moments will have gone way over the heads of most people. For example, he alluded at one point to a desire to allow more imports of sugar ethanol. Now if you’re familiar with the details of the ethanol debate, you’ll know that McCain’s stance on this is correct on the merits. And you’ll also know that Obama is a big support of corn ethanol both because they grow corn in downstate Illinois and because they made a big push for the Iowa Caucuses. McCain, by contrast, has a long and principled record on corn ethanol that’s hurt him in Iowa. This isn’t the biggest deal in the world, but it is a nice illustration of some of McCain’s key campaign themes. And yet he didn’t try to explain it at all. Similarly, he’s had a knack for besting Obama on national security issues nobody cares about, like the relationship of US-Colombia trade deals to the US-Venezuela proxy conflict playing out in the Colombian jungle. People figure that Obama seems like a smart guy, and if something important happens involving a guerilla group nobody’s heard of fighting a president nobody’s heard of in a country nobody cares about, that Obama’s up to the task of coming up with a good idea — meanwhile, McCain has no education policy.UPDATE: Props to John Podhoretz, who also made this point. On a related point, Patrick Healy points out that Obama excels at getting otherwise disciplined politicians to lash out.
You have to pinch yourself – a Marxisant radical who all his life has been mentored by, sat at the feet of, worshipped with, befriended, endorsed the philosophy of, funded and been in turn funded, politically promoted and supported by a nexus comprising black power anti-white racists, Jew-haters, revolutionary Marxists, unrepentant former terrorists and Chicago mobsters, is on the verge of becoming President of the United States. And apparently it’s considered impolite to say so.Now I have to say, if Barack Obama were actually capable of pulling together such diverse constituencies as revolutionary Marxists and the Chicago Mob, well, that would be pretty impressive. I'm beginning to wonder if the meetings of McCain supporters are starting to resemble this meeting:
I'm sympathetic to the argument that Obama has been less than candid about his connection to Ayers. This kind of nuttery, however, can only bring The Simpsons to mind.
Here’s the really odd thing about this. The number of “David Brooks” slots out there—opportunities for a token moderate conservative or libertarian at an otherwise liberal-leaning mainstream publication—are vanishingly tiny. I’m actually hard pressed to think of an obvious example other than Brooks and maybe Ross Douthat, but at any rate, I’m pretty sure they can be counted on the fingers of one hand. If you’re in the very small pool of realistic contenders for that slot, I guess it might be a rational career strategy. If you’re not, it might still be good for a one-shot “even the conservative…” op-ed or TV spot. But on the whole, it’s not gonna do you that much good. You’re still going to be the freak. If you’re willing to toe a straight party line, on the other hand, let’s face it, you can be pretty damn mediocre and still carve out a nice little niche for yourself at any one of a welter of generously funded ideological publications and think tanks. Sure, it’s a smaller pond, but you get to be a relatively big fish.Of course, in his list of moderate Republicans, Sanchez omits the almighty David Gergen, and in doing so misses one whopping incentive to go moderate -- it sets Jessi Klein's heart a-flutter:
The moment I realized my feelings were more serious was in late September, right after the first presidential debate. Gergen was on for hours, and I found myself on the couch, riveted, a glass of Cabernet by my feet, hands wrapped around my knees as I leaned forward to capture every word, every thought, every—oh, be still my fluttering heart, was that a little chuckle? And then all of a sudden my face felt hot. I was blushing. I was loving David Gergen. How do I love David Gergen? Let me count the ways.... I love that his name is Gergen. Gerrrrr-gen. I don’t know the real origin of the name, but it’s a quirky, comforting sound with an onomatopoeic quality to it. Like the little pleasure noise you make under your breath when you’re home in your pajamas and you hear someone on the TV making consistent, rational sense.There's more adoration on Klein's blog.
Do out the whole diavlog.
In the end, both candidates put forward mainstream internationalist positions on most issues related to national security, stressing the prudent use of military force, working in concert with allies and insisting that America could still be an active force for good in the world. What was odd was that this hopeful vision of America’s role in the world clashed badly with their rhetoric on the global economy. When talk turned to economics, the rest of the world was viewed as a scary, scary place.
It wasn't a debate — there was no "debating." It wasn't a town hall — the people didn't speak. It wasn't an interview — there were virtually no follow-ups. It wasn't a contest of ideas. The two "contestants" shared most of the same ideas. This was a lost 90 minutes out of my life, and a huge, irreplaceable, lost opportunity for the McCain campaign.The Fox News contributors are giving it to Obama. William Kristol is calling the McCain campaign "chaotic."
The past 14 days have transformed this election. The financial crisis has catapulted Obama into the lead both nationally and in key states. We have been saying for six months that the political environment has favored the Democrats significantly, but it took a near global financial meltdown for things to finally reach the tipping point. The economic situation has virtually ended John McCain's presidential aspirations and no amount of tactical maneuvering in the final 29 days is likely to change that equation.Intrade now gives Obama a 68% chance of winning. Nate Silver now gives Obama an 88% chance of winning. Conservative columnists like Charles Krauthammer and David Brooks are now conceding that Obama will win. So, my questions to readers:
A very wise TV executive once told me that the key to TV is projecting through the screen.... Palin too projects through the screen like crazy. I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think she just winked at me." And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can't be learned; it's either something you have or you don't, and man, she's got it.
Now, strip away Lowry's hyperbole prose and, er, straightening, and Lowry is basically saying that Palin connects with the camera better than most politicians. This is clearly true. As David Kusnet pointed out in TNR, a transcript of Palin's debate performance would reveal lots of gibberish, but:
[P]eople don't parse debate transcripts, they watch the show on their TV screens. Palin looked and sounded friendly, funny, and confident--not at all like other uninformed and less-than-coherent candidates, such as Dan Quayle, who sounded hesitant and seemed flustered during his debates with Lloyd Bentsen and Al Gore. So the early verdicts are that Palin exceeded expectations and held Biden to a narrow victory or even a draw. Those who predicted Palin's humiliation forgot that she had been a TV sportscaster and knows how to make the camera her friend. But the lesson isn’t just the benefits of media training--it’s the importance of emotional intelligence. For all her unfamiliarity with many issues--and the unpopularity of her positions--Palin’s performance made sense emotionally, with one glaring exception. Indeed, McCain--and even Barack Obama--could learn some lessons from Palin about how to bond with most Americans.
So cut Lowry some slack, and let him enjoy his starbursts.
[McCain's] willing to fight in Iraq for 100 years but not in Michigan for a month?From last night's veep debate thread. UPDATE: Many commenters have (correctly) noted that this line is unfair to McCain, since he did not mean the "100 years" line in the ways that liberals have used it. This is absolutely correct. The reason I hoisted this line, however, is that it came from an erstwhile McCain supporter -- which found interesting.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.