Exactly: John Cole on Obama

Nail head and hammer:

I swear to God the only people on the planet who have figured out that Obama is a rather mainstream moderate, center-left on some issues, center-right on others, but definitely not a wildly transformative character, are me and Daniel Larison. I seriously am beginning to think, reading some of the lefty blogs lately, that the only people who thought Obama was a radical liberal were the National Journal, a few talk radio hosts, and the progressive wing of the party. Obama has never once showed any inclination to up-end the establishment, he has consistently worked through the establishment. Harvard Law Review, anyone? Con. Law prof at the University of Chicago? This is not Ward Churchill we are talking about, folks…

Say what you want about the way his election was run, because that truly was transformative. Elections will never be the same after the campaign Team Obama ran. But if you really think Obama is a screeching liberal, you haven’t been paying attention and are going to be really upset. They guy is a technocratic pragmatist, he is cool and calculating and calm, and he shrewdly picks his battles. Folks like Larison, and, most definitely Bacevich, worry he is entirely too establishment. I think he is the best we have, so we go with him

I think there were a very others who figured it out (Andrew Sullivan, myself, Scott) but the point stands nonetheless–and Larison has been on the ball with that one for some time.

The lefter wing of the Democratic Party made the same basic mistake that David Freddoso in his book–to confuse Obama’s years as a very liberal Illinois State Senator (in a very liberal district) with how he will govern when he becomes president.  But that was because Obama works within the system he gets, and he represented a very liberal district, hence his views and policies were shaded in that direction.  But he is long since out of that world.  Since I don’t go totally for the Spenglerian Buchananite paleoconservativism, I also agree with Cole that I think BHO is the best we’ve got, so we go with it.   Though really far from perfect, but I actually have a sense of calm and trust in the fact that he looks serious about actually governing, that he will play the game. Remembering that the presidency is only one among a multitude of political players (no imperial presidency or cult for me thank you very much).

Update ICoates smelled the coffee too.

Published in: on November 21, 2008 at 8:36 pm  Comments (1)  
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Open-Source Obama

Just saw Howard Finemann on Countdown and he discussed how Obama is bidding to change the structural way in which political campaigning/organizing is done and he listed the history from Andrew Jackson through FDR and then Reagan to today.

The thing Finemann discussed was that Obama volunteers go person to person and do not have to (as he said) route back through the central office.  Each has a great degree of autonomy.  Obama in other words is applying open-source methodolgy to US political campaiging.  The organization is adaptive in the specific meaning of biology and information systems theory:  the head office works very hard on creating what it calls the brand (image, message, stylistics, aesthetics) and then holds very tightly (almost maniacally) to that brand.  Experimenting occurs across the regional/local field offices as to how to best get that message out.  The entire system is nodally linked through the barackobama.com website and then each of the staff and volunteer groups can post on effective strategies which get immediate feedback (and cross-connections) throughout the entire network in real time as they say.

I think this is going to have a huge effect on the outcome on Tuesday.

A video of the Obama organization in the state of my birth (h/t E. Klein):

Published in: on October 31, 2008 at 7:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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you betcha

Saw some footage (can’t find it on youtube) of Sarah Palin bringing up the newest Obama hangs out with scary terrorists canard about Rashid Khalidi (here’s Khalidi on Charlie Rose–Charlie Rose is now a terrorist fellow traveler?).

Of course Palin mispronounced his name–wouldn’t want to sound too elitist with proper pronunciation and what not–she said “KA-LA-DI” (Is are usually not pronounced like As Governor) and of course it’s a (oh no) scary Arab name so immediately the crowd starts booing. All that matters is Obama is somehow connected to an Arab–hence it must be some nefarious reality.

And then she says “He was in the PLO”. Jesus Mary and Joseph, God, and the Baby Jesus No!!!

Never mind that as Juan Cole points out:

Khalidi was not, as the schlock rightwing press charges, a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization. He was an adviser at the Madrid peace talks, but would that not have been, like, a good thing?

More importantly someone might want to tell Sarah Palin that the PLO is now called Fatah and they are the US’ main ally among the Palestinians. Memo to the lady running for VP, slamming Fatah will not exactly help them in their struggle against Hamas. Slurring your allies isn’t exactly a smart move. Unless McCain is still secretly angling for Hamas and this is part of a subtle diplomatic outreach to the Palestinian branch of The Muslim Brotherhood. [Let’s say I’m doubting that latter theory].

Update I: Since the question will inevitably come up and/or lest I get charged with being anti-Semitic or something, (though a hard charge to make against Khalidi given he is a Semite). Khalidi is anti-Zionist that is true. I think it’s fair to say he thinks the Israeli state should never have come into being. An essay of his here. Obviously Obama does not support that view. Neither do I for that matter. But I can understand from a Palestinian perspective that the invocations of the creation of the state of Israel as purely positive would ring very hollow.  But disagreeing with the state of Israel does not mean one hates worldwide Jewry, I mean come on.

I agree with Khalidi that a two state solution is not going to happen so long as the occupation continues and the whole penumbra of repression that goes along with the occupation (psychological, legal, political, economic, etc.) persists and because the Palestinians have been led by corrupt vile morons (as Khalidi freely admits btw) lo these sixty years. And continue to be (mis)lead. I agree with Khalidi that the Palestinians had other options less than ideal though they may have been (like taking the deal on 2 states from the get go). I’m as pessimistic as he is of any chance of real peace with justice after two intifadahs and the failure of the 90s Peace Process.

Update II: Khalidi has done some very good work on the background history of the Palestinians but is otherwise I find a typical sorta anti-imperialist leftist. Like a Noam Chomsky. Not much new or interesting there frankly, but not some evil guy.

I always thought it was so funny that the right-wing bloggers started a meme that Obama would betray his friends/acquaintances and throw them under the bus the second they were a liability and yet he had all these evil guys from his past. But even if you assume those true are both true, then clearly all these guys are electoral liabilities so Obama is going to dump them according to this theory right? So shouldn’t the right-wingers be happy that Obama is (in their minds) a power-hungry narcissist who only is doing what he needs to do to get power?

Update III [Day After]:  On the whole Joe Klein Khalidi can’t be an anti-Semite because he’s a Semite semi-defense.  Obviously the terminology here gets in the way.  There are undoubtedly Arabs (who are Semitic people) who are racistly prejudiced against all Jews (also Semites).  And so in the reverse, which would be a Jewish form of anti-Semitism is you catch my meaning.  I don’t think Khalidi fits that definition anyway, so the Klein defense may simply muddy.  But anti-Semitic in practice means anti-Jewish or problematically anti-Israeli.  In the latter case, it can be tough to distinguish between Israelis as citizens and Israel as the state. For people who racist against Arabs, we typically use anti-Arab or more incorrectly Islamophobic.  Many Arabs aren’t Muslims and the majority of the world’s Muslims are not Arab.  

While I have a theoretical issue (I think) with anti-Semitism meaning only anti-Jewish (since not all Semites are Jewish, linguistically this is a problematic usage), in practice that reality is basically set, and we need a different term (I guess anti-Arab???) for being racist/prejudiced towards Arabs or Arab-Americans.  


How Will Obama Govern (i.e. How Not to Make the ’92 Clinton Mistakes)

From the always-insightful John Heilemann.  Piece on the coming Obama administration, a little crystal ball gazing, and background on the transition team.  This caught my eye:

Yet the very feebleness of Reid and Pelosi may work to Obama’s advantage; they are much more likely to see their fates as bound up with his than Tom Foley and George Mitchell ever did with Clinton’s. Obama’s race, in a funny way, may make him less vulnerable to mau-mauing by the left. And the unconventional way he ran for office, the whole bottom-up movement thing, may grant him a degree of independence unique in modern history. “Personally, I think the depth of the Obama realignment is being underestimated,” says the Republican media savant Stuart Stevens, who helped elect Bush twice. “They have basically invented their own party that is compatible with the Democratic Party but is bigger than the Democratic Party. Their e-mail list is more powerful than the DNC or RNC. In essence, Obama would be elected as an Independent with Democratic backing—like Bernie Sanders on steroids.”

The article also highlights that Obama is putting financial regulatory & energy reform and middle class tax cuts first (with Health Care probably having to be a year out).  Though not mentioned in the article will of course also be the announcement of the drawdown in Iraq as well. I’m much more on board with Obama’s financial regulatory/energy policy & tax cut proposals plus infrastructure spending (and his Iraq policy) than I am with his health care plan and (even less so) with his education plan. So I like the sound of this basic vision coming out the gates.

I’m not sure health care reform can meaningfully be handled until after the coming global recession is over.  On the other hand, the recession is being fueled in the States by exorbitant health care costs.  It’s a real damned if you/damned if you don’t situation.

Published in: on October 26, 2008 at 4:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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Joe Klein on Obama

Interesting tidbit from Joe Klein’s new piece in Time on Obama.

The Obama/Petraeus relationship I find fascinating.  [I still think they might be running against each other president, but that for ’12].

When Obama went to Iraq in the summer, he met with “King David” (as he is affectionately known) and the General gave him his vaunted Power Point Presentation that almost single-handedly sold the Surge and undid Baker-Hamilton.  Obama responds by saying that he appreciates Petraeus’ position and understands that this is his job (he’s the Commander of Forces in Iraq after all), but that Obama’s job was overall strategy.


A “spirited” conversation ensued, one person who was in the room told me. “It wasn’t a perfunctory recitation of talking points. They were arguing their respective positions, in a respectful way.” The other two Senators — Chuck Hagel and Jack Reed — told Petraeus they agreed with Obama. According to both Obama and Petraeus, the meeting — which lasted twice as long as the usual congressional briefing — ended agreeably. Petraeus said he understood that Obama’s perspective was, necessarily, going to be more strategic. Obama said that the timetable obviously would have to be flexible. But the Senator from Illinois had laid down his marker: if elected President, he would be in charge. Unlike George W. Bush, who had given Petraeus complete authority over the war — an unprecedented abdication of presidential responsibility (and unlike John McCain, whose hero worship of Petraeus bordered on the unseemly) — Obama would insist on a rigorous chain of command.

Petraeus as already mentioned before on the site, has an interesting relationship vis a vis civilian authority, particularly given Bush gave him carte blanche.  The General’s recent strategic re-assessments of the entire region in his Command (Middle East and Central/Southwestern Asia) are an attempt some think to do a similiar move with the larger theater as he did with Iraq.  Except the Power Points to be coming out–that he gave his talk at the Heritage Foundation last week is of course a piece of evidence in this regard.  [Recall that during the Surge discussions, Petraeus was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt.]

However in this case, it might be less combative than Iraq:

Actually, Obama and Petraeus seem to be thinking along similar lines with regard to Afghanistan. I mentioned that Petraeus had recently given a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation in which he raised the possibility of negotiating with the Taliban. “You know, I think this is one useful lesson that is applicable from Iraq,” Obama said without hesitation. “The Sunni awakening changed the dynamic in Iraq fundamentally,” he said, referring to the Petraeus-led effort to turn the Sunni tribes away from the more radical elements of the insurgency. “Whether there are those same opportunities in Afghanistan I think should be explored,” he said. In fact, senior U.S. military officials have told me that there is a possibility of splitting Pashtun tribes away from the Taliban in the south of Afghanistan. “But we have to do it through the Karzai government,” a senior officer told me, referring to the fact that the Army had acted independently of the Maliki government in creating the Anbar Awakening. “That is one lesson we’ve learned from Iraq.”

Obviously Hamid Karzai already wants to (and has met with) the Taliban so there is no Maliki scenario in Afghanistan. Iraq’s history is a minority ruling over a majority who pined for power–and another group that wanted out (Kurds).  Afghanistan’s history is a series of minority groups who trade places in rule (with the Pashtuns typically dominant) but have a way of dealing with each other that is completely different than Iraq.  i.e. Any group knows they may lose power and the others may come in–the Northern Alliance cut deals with the Taliban/Al-Qaeda and vice versa even while fighting each other–because they know how they treat the other while in power will go a long way to determining how they are tretaed when the others grab the reins.

Going to get interesting, that’s for sure.

What Debrazza Said

Guest posting on Jed Report.

Again whatever one’s view of Obama’s political agenda (left-center), this is true:

This is just another clear example of the Obama campaigns emphasis on strategy over tactics and governing over campaigning that has been the hallmark of this impressive campaign. Most importantly, it demonstrates in the clearest terms possible that Obama is not interested in winning just so he can govern from a defensive crouch.

Obama was always playing chess against his opponents (both in Dem primary and General) who have been playing checkers.  Mark Penn anyone?   Again regardless of whether that excites you or freaks you out, it’s clear he has strategic vision and wants to govern and not just win elections (the exact opposite in many respects of Bush and Rove).

The National Review/Hugh Hewitt Crowd actually gets this in a way lots on the left didn’t (or maybe still don’t) and it scares the hell out of them–probably with some good reason–in their world, it’s interpreted as the most liberal candidate ever/most radical left wing president but it’s at least becoming clear that he is not some airhead.  He means business.

This is not to say Obama and the Dems aren’t going to make a whole mess of decisions I disagree with or are going to be mistake-free.  All that is inevitable.  Whatever else is to be said or thought on the matter,  Obama has clearly studied the failures of the first years of the Clinton administration and appears determined not to repeat them. Debrazza’s post is about how Obama is already laying the groundwork to mock Fox News because he knows the opposition that is going to come against him when he takes power is going to be channeled through Fox and the question is whether the Fox/Drudge narrative will push the (so-called) MSM or not.  He is trying to sever the link between the two.

Since Obama’s positive comment on Reagan being a president who effected change in a more permanent manner (as opposed to Nixon or Bill Clinton recall), he made clear to those with ears to hear that he’s been thinking that the way in which to do that is not to play to the middle, but to move the middle in your direction.  That is the (legitimate–given their context and agenda) fear of the NRO & related crowd.  That he will be successful in doing so.

Update I:  I forgot another major piece which is the Ayers/ACORN/non-American/otherness/foreigner meme has not worked because the Economic Meltdown has overcome all that.  The economic meltdown is to McCain what some kind of foreign policy crisis would be to Obama.  I think we are heading into landslide territory.

Published in: on October 17, 2008 at 9:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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Pre post mortem on McCain Campaign

Alex Massie two days ago (h/t Larison):

Equally, “constructing” a “narrative” of Obama as a “lightweight celebrity” was a strategy that depended upon Obama showing himself to be nothing more than a lightweight celebrity candidate. But what if he showed more than that? What would the McCain campaign do then? In other words, McCain’s strategy depended upon Obama failing, not McCain succeeding. As such it was vulnerable. Indeed, it was predicated upon an analysis that was not the GOP’s to control.

Now I’m not here to praise the McCain campaign before I bury them by any means.  And Alex makes a number of smart critiques:  e.g. he is right that the Palin selection while temporarily helped, she hurt in the long run.  [Somebody I know hypothesized about that very possibility awhile ago].

But I want to focus on this notion that McCain’s campaign was about Obama failing.  As a simple matter actually that was in fact the only chance McCain had.  For the longest time, I’ve been saying that McCain could never have won this election (minus some attack or horrible foreign policy crisis a week out from the election), but Obama could lose the election.

If we return to Drew Westen’s 5 point decreasing order scale of importance in voting, point #1 (most important) is party identification/party numbers.  So McCain was always screwed on that front–any GOP nominee would have been.  It’s was only worse in McCain’s particular scenario because he didn’t have the GOP base going in.  He needed a base plus middle this year to win.  But the more he went for his Maverick/moderate side, the more he alienated his base–which got reminded of McCain’s positions on campaign finance, immigration, etc.

But the more he went to the base, the more he lost the middle/independents/moderates who despise the Republican base.  And as that base has headed further and further into wingnuttery, that only makes it that much worse for Sen. McCain.

As Mike Murphy said, these guys (McCain’s camp) are running it like’s it Texas.  They are trying to run up the score–i.e. play to the base.  But they are still thinking this is 2004, that a base rollout scenario is what will gain victory.  But that’s exactly Westen’s point #1, the GOP brand is completely trashed, except for its base.  The 20-28% or so who approve of Bush that is.  That is not going to get you a victory.

So heading down the list.

#2 is a candidate’s emotional connection with folks/#3 qualities (e.g. leadership) of the candidate.

But here again McCain again was screwed.  You will recall in the summer he ran a biography tour and focused on #2 and #3 relative to him, positively.  War hero, POW, etc.  McCain also (as Westen noted) opened up the negative line of attack to come on Obama by referring to himself as the “American President America has been waiting for.”

But on #2 & #3 on simply a positive comparison (i.e. the good side of both), McCain was toast.  Because Obama represents the future, McCain the past. Obama connects with the growing cultural edge of authenticity and extraversion over McCain’s introversion and classic top-down authority view of gaining standing.  [Which explains McCain gets so visibly angry by Obama and thinks he’s jumped his place in line].

Bonus negative in McCain’s column, he was a Vietnam vet.  Or just a war vet generally.  Reagan beat Carter.  Clinton beat Bush 41 and Dole.  Bush II beat Gore and Kerry.  Non-military vet over military vet each time.  Also extraverted, forward looking, optimistic candidate over introverted ones.

Moreover, we live in an era of television campaigns.  And McCain is not built for the television era:  introverted, uncomfortable very often, very poor speaker and is “HOT” in Marshall McLuhan’s language.  Where the medium is the message.  And TV McLuhan said is a Cool medium.  The message that is communicated through telelvision is calm, connection, sincerity.  Obama is the quintessence of cool in that regard.  Which is whatever the punditocracy say after each debate on policy matters and such, Obama kept blowing out McCain in the audience polls.

In sum, on the three most important things that decide the election, McCain was 0 for 3.  If he only stayed positive and made the case for him.  Sure he had the more experience thing going and could try his Reformer argument, but that wasn’t going to be enough to overcome the anger at the Republican party and Obama’s charisma.

So there only chance was to attack (Rovian style) Obama’s strengths in categories 2 and 3.  That he can’t be trusted–i.e. “bad associations”.  Attempt to link him to the whole train of 60s/70s liberals (“hate America”)…Wright, Ayers, and infanticide charges enter the picture. Say that he is arrogant (Obama not country first), flash in the pan.

McCain was always, so long as Obama kept his cool, in a no-win situation.  Either he disrespect Obama–celebrity, liar, etc.–and then Obama shows up (and this is Massie’s point) and then McCain looks like the contemptuous, cantankerous, sour grapes/angry old man that he was in the debate the other night.   Or he play gracious to Obama, in which case then all the other factors come back to push Obama to victory.

Again, it was only whether Obama could lose it not whether McCain could win.  Obama made a mistake or two earlier on:  most egregiously the “bitter guns/religion” comment (and that when his numbers tanked).  But Obama it should be remembered has run a very impressive (to put it mildly) campaign, whatever one’s views of his politics.

Barry was supposed to be the neophyte but against both McCain and Clinton he appeared the much cagier, veteran.  Obama’s ability to stay cool and play rope a dope with the atttacks coming at him, instead of responding in anger, helped him enormously.  Can’t be underestimated how much.  As a contrast imagine how Hillary would have responded to similar attacks.

Published in: on October 17, 2008 at 9:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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prez debate + twitter

Update I:  (Morning After).  On the “kill him” reference.  This probe suggested it wasn’t saidHere is the Times Tribune piece arguing it did happen.  Here is Milbank claiming a separate occurrence of the same words.  I didn’t realize there were two different (possible) versions of this.  I only knew about the Milbank one.    (h/t to Andrew Sullivan for the links).  So even if the Fed probe of the Scranton event is correct (and it wasn’t said there), I haven’t seen any counter-evidence that it didn’t occur at the Florida fundraiser Milbank attended.

Twitter: twitter.com/cdierkes

gonna try a combo tonight. see how it goes:

All Times PST

[6:06] McCain’s first answer was really muddled. Obama is on his shipping job overseas boilerplate, but he shifts to health care and environment.

[6:08] If you are wondering where an Ohio plumber is coming from (see here). Obama gets a litlte dig on how McCain is watching too many of his own commercials. I just don’t get this McCain tax attack line. Obama looks pretty calm.

[6:11] McCain is just really awful to watch. Sorry to say. oooh, he just dropped a class warfare. Jeez Louise, he’s back on the 2nd Highest Corporate Tax Rate BS. Does he not get Obama is going to cut taxes on more people than him?

[6:14] With taxes down, Earmarks are coming. Oops, looks like he took at left at energy independence. Although I’m definitely with Johnny Mac on ending the Brazilian ethanol import block. oh yeah, there are earmarks. Yes, bonus shot at the Chicago Planetarium. I just don’t get this. McCain did this in the previous two debates. He gets the automatic earmarks count for 18 billion out of a possible 1 trillion debt.

[6:21] McCain just had a decent shot there on you should have run 4 years ago. I guess. He’s finally looking stronger. He will “balance our budgets”. Good luck with that.

[6:23] It’s really annoying when McCain interrupts Obama. Not very respectful. Obama just got a good shot on McCain quoting “Fox News”. Obama gets McCain more on economics per se than Bush in general.

[6:26]. Oh hello. Interesting question by Schieffer on whether they would say s–t to their faces. And McCain’s excuse that his VP is saying he palled around with terrorists is Obama’s fault because he didn’t go to the townhalls. And now John Lewis–McCain is the real victim. Ugh. This is pathetic. If he thinks this is going over with the moderates, he is outta his f’in mind.

[6:29]. ooh schnap. subtle dig at McCain’s narcissism and touchy feelings. This is smart. He says it doesn’t matter if I get hurt, it’s about la gente. McCain’s answer was all about how his hurt feelings. And gets McCain on his campaign’s crazy (though truthful) admission that if the discussion is economics, they are toast.

[6:31] whoa. McCain is getting so angry. God he is being such a jerk. WTF is he talking about Obama slurring veterans? He’s said somebody (who DID) said “Kill him” (meaning Obama)**** (see note above) and “he’s a terrorist.”

[6:36]. WHAT??? He just said ACORN was about to perpetrate the biggest electoral fraud in history. WHAT?

[6:39] McCain goes on a tirade about ACORN, Ayers, and then says, “My campaign is about not raising taxes.” This is beyond parody.

[6:41] The idea that Biden is good VP because he comes from Scranton–I love the guy but seriously? But this is nothing compared to McCain’s answer on Palin. She’s a reformer and she knows about Autism…what? She says Russia from her house and the Moon from her porch too.

[6:49] This is dreadful. Yeah CANADA gets a nod. Everyone drink some Molsen. South Korea boo!!! F–k kim chee.

[6:52] How did this turn into a report on McCain’s summer trip (Colombia, Canada)?

[6:53] McCain is just firing in any directions. Obama is the New Hoover?!!?

[7:01] Joe Six Pack to Joe the Plumber. You can’t make this shit up.

[7:05] McCain called Obama “Sen. Government.”

[7:10] Obviously McCain would appoint a anti-Roe person and Obama of course would put someone on who would.

[7:11] He just referred to the Leadbetter case as a trial lawyer dream. Not helpful. wow. McCain is bringing up the bogus present votes and the Live Birth BS.

[7:15] Caring about the health of the mother (legitimately) is the extreme pro-abortion position?

[7:17] Last question on education where they both are so boilerplate and put me to sleep. This has been totally abysmal. Though I actually have to say Schieffer was by far the best debate moderator. [Not that big of an accomplishment given the other ones].

[7:22] I think McCain did better (at certain points) on policy. But his contempt is so negative. It hurts him so much. People see that whatever else they hear. So I guess I have to give it to Obama in a sense–it doesn’t hurt him (or not enough to matter).

[7:28] But Obama is the one who is comfortable in his skin. He is not afraid of McCain. McCain is psyched out by Obama.  In Marshall McLuhan’s medium is the message, the medium of television as he would say is a cool medium (versus radio is hot).  Cool=Obama, WAY TOO HOT=McCain.

Published in: on October 15, 2008 at 6:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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Voted Today

Big shout out to the Hamilton County Board of Elections who did manage to send my absentee ballot on time this year.  [More on that in a sec].  So today I got to vote for a President for this first time in my life.  Feels good.

In the 1996 election, I just missed the cut off age date (I was 17 then).  In 2000, I was living in Guam and I made a mistake on my voter registration, so I was unable to vote.  In 2004, the Elections Board in Ohio screwed up and I was improperly prevented from voting.  I got a letter apologizing five months after the election, which was little consolation, but at least it showed I knew I had done everything on my side correctly. That was Ohio in 2004 with the then Sec of State Ken Blackwell and serious allegations of fraud in the state that decided the election.

But this year, everything has gone smoothly.  (knock on wood, so far–it still has to be mailed, properly open/read, and validated).

If it is received prior to Election Day, then it will be counted after the polls close on Election Day.  As of right now, Obama is polling strong in Ohio.  And if he wins Ohio, the election is his.  He could win without Ohio (with Iowa, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Colorado, Virginia), but with Ohio it’s a done deal.  If he wins Ohio, he will have won Pennsylvania and Michigan (both bluer shades than my home state).  He wins the election with 2/3 out of those under almost all circumstances.  If he sweeps those rust belt states and does well out West, then we are headed into landslide 1980 Reagan-esque territory.

Published in: on October 9, 2008 at 9:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Political Brain and 2008 Election

I mentioned Drew Westen in the previous post. Here he is on CSpan BookTV talking about his book Political Brain.

The argument–very much in the Lakoff tradition–is to bring in the new cognitive neurosciences into the political sphere.  Now I have seen some serious problems with this view taken en toto (because it tends towards emotivism and relativism in my view) but as a partial piece of the puzzle it can not be discounted.  The results speak for themselves in the recent history of presidential elections.

As a disclaimer, Westen is quite up front about being a Democrat, but that doesn’t affect his research.  It’s just that he’s using his researching to try to help the Democratic party.  It’s quite easy to separate out his findings from his political standpoint.

At around minute 25 he discusses the political scientific findings on order of importance in an election (I mentioned part of this in the last post).  They are in decreasing order of importance:

1. How voters feel about party and its principles
2. How voters feel about the candidate
3. How voters feel about the candidate’s personal attributes
4. How they feel towards candidates policies
5. How they feel towards facts about candidates policies.

Something should leap out immediately with Westen discusses.  Democrats post-McGovern mold (other than Carter and Clinton–hint hint) always started from the bottom and try to work up whereas Republicans start from the top (the most important) and then work down. (more…)

Published in: on October 4, 2008 at 12:43 pm  Comments (6)  
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