Thursday, October 16, 2008

Slight Obama Bounce?

A great liveblog, a decent debate. Bob Schieffer was probably the most interesting person on stage tonight, which is just ridiculous. Previously, I'd been happy that everyone seemed to be pissed at the lack of information in the debates (in spite of the fact that that's precisely what the internets are for), but being presented with said information made me realize that it's really boring in this context. In fact, I find it far more interesting to read a PDF on their policies than listen to either McCain or Obama talk about what they want to do, which highlights one of the deepest problems with the way elections have been run up to this point: I don't trust either of them – or anyone under the pressure that they're under – to articulate what their plans are actually about in a couple of minutes on television. Just ain't gonna happen.

That said, Obama did amazingly well with the Ayers question and Palin's mob-building (which may have actually been a trap for McCain) and managed a nice contrast on abortion (even while fucking up free trade in the typical ways). By contrast, I think McCain's best line – "I am not President Bush" – is really too little, too late. Maybe in the first debate, but that issue's been decided. If anything, it showcases his inability to keep up with the pace of the times.

All in all, I agree with JJ: I'm disappointed by Obama's centrism, and even under the best possible analysis for McCain he didn't offer a "game changer." I predict a slight gain for Obama in the polls, and in any case there's little doubt that McCain is maintaining his losing streak. But honestly I can't claim that my opinion about it wasn't influenced by things like this:

CBS: Obama 53 / McCain 22
CNN: Obama 58 / McCain 31

Media Curves:
Republicans: Obama 18% / McCain 70% / Undecided 12%
Democrats: Obama 81% / McCain 10% / Undecided 9%
Undecided: Obama 60% / McCain 30% / Undecided 10%

And then there's this:

(McCain won both of the previous Fox focus groups, which were the only major media "polls" that he won. Though if I remember correctly, one of them only consisted of four people.)

Bottom line:

Dear McCain AND Obama,

Get the FUCK out of DC until you give us representation.



Oh, yeah, my favorite line: "Obviously, she's a capable politician. She has, I think, ignited the, uh, a base in the republican party."

Let's be clear. This election is about making sure that Sarah Palin never holds national office, ever. Never, ever, ever.


That CBS poll was of 638 undecided voters. It was, you know, a real poll. Even if undecided voters are stupid. Obama won this one big, when we're already talking about a landslide election. We'll see soon enough whether we can start talking about Arkansas.


The Obama campaign clearly agrees with me about that "I am not President Bush." line:


  1. Man, what's with your unreasoning hatred / disrespect for undecided voters? I don't care where you come from, belief in small government is a pretty legitimate philosophical standpoint, which is more than you have a right to ask of most 'Merkins. You take that, and add to it the knowledge that McCain has absolutely nothing new to offer on the economy (or anywhere, really), and you have yourself a conflicted voter. Arriving at a decision isn't just a process of gathering information. Especially when one is forced to choose between two unacceptable alternatives, one tends to dicker about in the analysis.

    - Peace!

  2. That ad is pretty brilliant.

  3. You're right. At the least, there's no reason for me to be an asshole about it.

    I'd like to clarify my sentiments so as not to be quite the blowhard you point out, though. In point of fact, I have no qualms with the hypothetical person you describe, and was not talking about anyone like her at all. There's a big difference between being conflicted and being undecided, as giving weight to a political philosophy (or series of issues) over the candidates in question is something everyone should do, at least as an exercise. Hell, I was conflicted about voting for Obama until about a month ago. Given how often he pisses me off, I'm still not sure whether how much of my enthusiasm for him is more than a personal enjoyment of the man and a desire to be part of his historical campaign.

    By contrast, the vast majority of the people on these debate panels answer questions as though they have no idea who the candidates are, or what they think about the issue they're asked about. Still, you're right that "stupid" is less accurate and more needlessly insulting than "haven't been paying attention" (and I think they should have been paying attention!). In any case, none of what I just wrote was explicit in the post. I was out of line, and being intellectually lazy, and I apologize.

    A side point: Can you help me make sense of the big/small government debate? The circumstances that control the size of government are radically different from election to election, after all, and I'm not sure any administration has ever even tried to make government smaller (unless you count trading lower taxes for higher debt, or the near-destruction of agencies like the NEA and EPA under Reagan and Bush). It's such a big part of the notion that the republican party of the '60s-'90s was the "Party of Big Ideas," and is still a driving force for many Americans today, but I'm not sure it's anything more than an idea. And not a coherent or consistent one, at that, though that might be the point.

  4. That ad is pretty brilliant.

    Oh man, is it. Given that that was pretty unquestionably McCain's best line of the debate, Obama just fucking cleaned his clock. Turns out, it was a huge mistake for McCain to even bring it up.

  5. Hey Helen!

    Yeah, the ad is pretty tite :-). I had never seen that clip of McCain. Nice.

    Big/small government. Generally deregulating "decreases government," and cutting taxes artificially deflates it. Those are both things that Republican administrations have done recently. Eliminating welfare and social security - both conservative ambitions - would substantially and actually reduce the size of government.

    Honestly, I don't know any more about this than you do. But it's the only conservative standpoint that I really sympathize with, especially when it's backed up by the statistic that registered Republicans make more charitable donations than registered Democrats on average, in spite of having lower average incomes. I can't cite that, by the way :-), but I read it somewhere, this past year.

  6. I have to wonder how much of the gap is made up if you don't consider churches to be charitable organizations.

  7. That's a really good point, but one should also take into account the charitable works that a lot of churches undertake. Not that this accounts for their entire budget, or anywhere close in most cases. But we should observe that, to some extent, many churches are charitable organizations, and that many other charitable organizations really aren't that efficient with the money they take in.

  8. True, but even aside from the upkeep of the church and gluttonous priests (which we can basically neglect cause it's also true of many nonprofits), the amount of money and effort that churches pour into things like California's Proposition 8, anti-abortion work and support for creationism means that such donations have the potential to actually do harm rather than improve lives. While plenty of churches do truly fantastic work, I'm inclined to put the credit for that on the individuals in the churches rather than the organizations.

    In any case, if the survey counted religious donations wholesale, the point it proves is more that religious people give lots to charity than conservatives. (And I'd hazard a guess and say that the folks who push free market ideology on a national scale are not a deeply religious bunch on the whole, but who knows?).


    Daily show's obviously an abrasive place, but yeah, I mean, the fact that the election is now in large part ABOUT voters like these is what frustrates me.