“It is not just that he has more than held his own against Mr McCain in the debates. A man who started with no money and few supporters has out-thought, out-organised and out-fought the two mightiest machines in American politics—the Clintons and the conservative right.”—The Economist, endorsing Obama
Let’s review what we have seen from Barack Obama through the two years of his campaign:
Skills in formal oratory that, in my view, you’d have to go back to John F. Kennedy to match. […]
Skills in telling stories (and evoking emotions) through pictures that we associate mainly with Reagan and no one since. […]
And skill in personal presentation, which means that the candidate is never seen as being testy, rarely seems rattled, seems to know where he wants to go and makes some progress every day — the only candidate this really resembles is Ronald Reagan.
Marc Ambinder noted that Francis Fukuyama, a key figure in the neoconservative movement who has moved away from it over the last few years, endorsed Obama in this issue of The American Conservative. I decided to see what others at TAC thought. TAC describes itself as “in considerable part Buchananite,” so I was not surprised to find a diversity of opinion. What I was surprised to find were more endorsements for Barack Obama than John McCain.
I’m not that familiar with TAC, but I’ve read pieces in it from time to time. Rightly or wrongly, I see TAC as espousing a sort of roguish conservativism compared to the hegemonistic voice-of-the-GOP perspective of today’s National Review or The Weekly Standard.
Out of 18 pieces by “conservative, libertarian, and independent thinkers,” there are 5 who will vote for Obama and 3 for McCain. All of McCain’s endorsements are reluctant, while 2 of Obama’s are strong and positive. In fact, more contributors said they were going to abstain from voting than were going to vote McCain. Four are abstaining, with the remaining 6 voting for third-party or write-in candidates such as Bob Barr (Libertarian), Chuck Baldwin (Constitution), or Ron Paul.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, for all his muddy shifting with the political winds, has made his vision clear, and it is doctrinaire Democratic left-wing socialism and therefore too depressing for words. I hew to the belief that he is also a decent man and probably politically more savvy than John McCain. He may learn. He may be knocked off his horse on the way to Damascus. But I can’t vote for the prospect of Obama’s education. So I vote McCain.
Republicans have no trouble losing a war and calling it a victory, and some of them are voting for McCain for that reason. Obama, in contrast, is stuck with a war he opposed, and politics may force him to stay the course. Still, I prefer the professor to the warrior. McCain claims he is thinking only about the good of the country, then chooses as his running mate a gun-happy huntress who supported the Alaskan independence movement, which advocates secession from the United States. No wonder she is idolized by those who disdain the very federal government that built the Alaskan Highway. As Orwell observed, those receiving benefits always hate the benefactor.
This will be the first year since I was old enough to vote that I will not cast a ballot in a presidential election. I quote a character from Richard Linklater’s “Slacker” in my defense: “Withdrawing in disgust is not the same thing as apathy.”
I’m voting for Barack Obama this November for a very simple reason. It is hard to imagine a more disastrous presidency than that of George W. Bush. It was bad enough that he launched an unnecessary war and undermined the standing of the United States throughout the world in his first term. But in the waning days of his administration, he is presiding over a collapse of the American financial system and broader economy that will have consequences for years to come. As a general rule, democracies don’t work well if voters do not hold political parties accountable for failure. While John McCain is trying desperately to pretend that he never had anything to do with the Republican Party, I think it would a travesty to reward the Republicans for failure on such a grand scale.
When John McCain appears on screen, all vacant grin and Eeyore cadence, I reach for the mute button. I hate his wars. I don’t trust his maverick pose. When he says “my friends,” he doesn’t mean me. But I am voting for him.
Call it damage control. Come January, the Senate will be firmly in Democratic hands, perhaps with a filibuster-proof majority.
Without doubt, my decision to vote for Barack Obama for president began when I watched his televised speech to the Democratic Convention in 2004. Today on the cold page of the computer printout, it loses something. Outside of the electrifying moment of his delivery, the speech contains less than I remembered. But what is there explains the reverberations in so many parts of my inherited mental and moral universe.
Given the choice between John McCain and Barack Obama, the Democrat clearly represents the lesser evil, if not by much.
With that in mind, I’m writing in Ron Paul for president and Barry Goldwater Jr. for vice president. Why agonize over whether Barr or Baldwin is the better constitutionalist, when you can cast your ballot for the very best? A vote for Paul is an endorsement of all he has accomplished (and might yet achieve) and a rejection of the often honorable but never effective course of the third parties.
For these reasons, I’m voting for Obama. While he doesn’t inspire me, he does impress. His two-year campaign has been disciplined and intelligent. He has surrounded himself with the mainstream liberal types who staffed the Clinton administration. Like countless social democratic leaders before him, he probably was more left-wing when he was younger. Circumstance and ambition have pushed him to the center. If elected, he will inherit an office burdened with massive financial and foreign-policy problems. Unlike John McCain, he won’t try to bomb his way out of the mess.
This was not an easy decision, but all the candidates are flawed, at least if you believe in limited government, civil liberties, free markets, and a foreign policy far less bellicose than what we have today.
I strongly support Barack Obama for president. In the past, I have supported both Republicans and Democrats, choosing the candidate with the leadership qualities and foreign-policy principles most likely to advance the national security of the United States. Of course, we have no crystal balls, but leaders with sound judgment on core policies and courage to look beyond political winds of the moment greatly improve the odds of long-term success. Obama scores uncommonly high on the “judgment-courage” index, qualities that will be needed as our next president seeks to repair the damage from the triple train wreck of our overstretched military, underperforming economy, and floundering international reputation that is now undermining our national security.
Nonparticipation sends a message that we no longer believe in the racket they have cooked up for us, and we want no part of it.
You might say that this is ineffective. But what effect does voting have? It gives them what they need most: a mandate. Nonparticipation helps deny that to them. It makes them, just on the margin, a bit more fearful that they are ruling us without our consent. This is all to the good. The government should fear the people. Not voting is a good beginning toward instilling that fear.
I will not be voting for any federal candidate and will probably be writing in third parties for local elections, if I even step into the voting booth.
In this election, we face choosing between a “maverick” with a penchant for militarism who has been part of the Washington power structure for over two decades, and an inexperienced figure who wants to save us from ourselves, or, as my friend Gene Healy puts it, “the Messiah vs. the prophet of doom.”
But such rhetoric is sorely needed, and so even if a vote for Barr is ultimately a vote for the sort of cross-partisan coalition he could have helped to build, it’s a vote worth casting. Next time, perhaps, the candidate who stands for liberty will do better than 1 percent.
I’ve been reading Chuck Baldwin’s essays for several years. My first reaction to them was to wish we had rulers who could read him, grasp what he was saying, and take it to heart. I never dreamed I would have the chance to vote for him myself.
I’m a reluctant McCain supporter. He might do considerable damage to our nation, not least because of his view on immigration, but the damage of a McCain administration is nothing compared to the vast institutionalization of the radical Left that Obama would usher in. McCain’s attractions for me lie almost entirely in his being the only viable alternative to Obama. I do like Palin, and that makes it a little easier to support McCain. She connects the Republican ticket to something deep and genuine in the American experience.
Last night, during the 30 minute infomercial, I was particularly struck by the direct emotional appeal that harkens back to Reagan, and nobody else: the combination of moving image, sweeping score, and soothing narration, the flat-out storytelling abilities of the candidate, the calm, patient, way he carries himself. Has there been anyone since Reagan who has used image in such a way?
It is clear that Obama is attempting to create a similar view of himself: as someone from outside Washington, who offers strong moral character and an unflappable “spine of steel.”
Who else in the last 20 years has really been able to center his campaign on an inspiring vision of hope and pragmatism? Who else has been able to take a personal characteristic (Reagan’s age, Obama’s race) that most perceive as a negative and turn it into a positive?
A lot of folks on the left see Obama as the new JFK, largely because his race against Nixon was seen as youthful grace versus haggard scowl. And certainly there were similarities during the debates: the images of McCain’s harumphing and barely restrained contempt echoed Nixon’s televised angst in 1960. In addition, JFK’s religion and Obama’s race are having major impacts on the election.
JFK offered a “New Frontier” to address the space race, the arms race, and an economic recession during Eisenhower’s second term. Reagan offered a “New Beginning” twenty years later, addressing international crises and asking people, “are you better off than you were four years ago?”
But while JFK ran silly ads like this, Reagan offered sober ads like this. And moreover, he ran ads like this one featuring Nancy Reagan chiding Carter for his negative ads. Can you imagine an ad like this today against McCain? Yeah, me too.
More than JFK, Reagan offered a big national do-over. It was not about an election, it was about remaking America. It was about rebuilding confidence in America that was proud in the world.
The thing about JFK and Reagan: they won. The only question is: is McCain more like the Nixon that barely lost in 1960 or the Carter that lost in a landslide in 1980?
So what can we conclude? There is no evidence of a hidden support for McCain among undecided voters. They split more evenly than does the “decided” pool of respondents, who split 54-46 in this sample (Oct 3-11) but that’s well within normal expectations and is a modest difference in any case.
Second, the role of racial attitude is important at the individual level, but the aggregate consequence is extremely modest. Some are moved away from Obama yet others are moved towards him. And among the undecided, the distribution of opinion on this measure of racial attitude is virtually identical to that in the population.
In a year of endless discussion about racial effects there has been far more speculation and far less data analysis than is good for us. Let’s put our data on the table before continuing to opine about this subject.
Over seven weeks, chance of mind-changing drops from 20% to 9%. Moreover, good chance of doing so drops even faster, from 8% to only 3% overall (2%-3% of Obama voters, 3%-4% of McCain voters, last three reports.). In 2004, ABC polls showed the same “good chance” trend up to a few weeks before the election.
I mention the Bradley effect because I think, too, that McCain and Sarah Palin’s attack against Obama for advocating “spreading the wealth” and for “socialism” and for pronouncing the civil rights revolution a “tragedy” because it didn’t deal with the distribution of wealth is aimed ultimately at white working class undecided voters who would construe “spreading the wealth” as giving their money to blacks. It’s the latest version of Reagan’s “welfare queen” argument from 1980. It if it works, it won’t be because most white Americans actually oppose a progressive income tax, but because they fear that Obama will inordinately favor blacks over them. I don’t doubt that this argument will have some effect, but I suspect it’s too late and that worries about McCain and Republican handling of the economy will overshadow these concerns.
"The first and foremost reason McCain-Palin will win is the absolute arrogance, elitism, condescending, patronizing and in-your-face voter suppression campaign – don’t vote for McCain, he can not win — being conducted by the national media on Senator Obama’s behalf." - Dan Perrin, RedState.com
In a post titled, “Seven Reasons McCain-Palin Are A Lock To Win,” Perrin lays out a cavalcade of miscellaneous histrionics, all of which are seriously flawed:
1. The Gallup poll after Labor Day has historically been a predictor of the winner of the Presidential election. The person leading in that poll wins the Presidency. The Republican convention, pushed onto Labor Day by the Summer Olympics muddied the waters on this historic fact, but the Gallup poll a week later showed McCain ahead of Obama, predicting the McCain victory.
Uh, might this be because “historically” the leading candidate stays ahead? Also, Gore led in this poll in 2000. So, you know…
2. There are six states that since 1972 have voted for the winning Presidential candidate. These are predictor states. They pick winners every time. McCain will win every one of the following six states: Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee.
Uh, could this be because the only winning Democrats since 1972 have been Southern governors? Did Al Gore lose because of Florida? Or New Hampshire?
3. Elderly and some other Jewish voters were already uncomfortable about voting for Obama, but the recent comments by Farrakhan that when Obama speaks, the Messiah is speaking, or that Obama’s victory will do great things for the Nation of Islam, or the statement by Jesse Jackson that there will be “fundamental change” in America’s foreign policy, especially with regard to Israel – is causing a hemorrhaging of Jewish support.
Uh, this is another bubble assertion without a nickel of proof to back it up. Why? Because all of the polls actually show higher percentages of Jewish voters backing Obama than backed Kerry.
4. Women who feel Senator Clinton was treated unfairly by the Democratic Party, by the media and by Senator Obama — who did not even vet Senator Clinton to be his running mate – will remember. This voting block, you will recall, lay in the weeds in the pre-New Hampshire primary polling. The win by Senator Clinton was a shock, undetected by the polling. And these were Democratic Party voters who were undetected – not the other voters Obama will face November 4th. Obama’s youth vote will not post to the polls, they never do. The young think: the media says Obama will win, so why should I vote? But the 40 and 50 and 60 something women voters who voted for Senator Clinton have three alternative plans to make sure they get to the polls, regardless of a hiccup in their work or child care responsibilities. They will vote, and they will vote against Senator Obama.
Uh, so despite the fact that something like 85% of Clinton supporting women say they now back Obama, they are going to flip the switch in the booth? Or is the argument that they haven’t been in the polls? Uh, and the youth vote won’t turn out this year, even though they are already turning out in record numbers in registrations and early voting? And there is no difference for young people between the connection with Obama and the lack of it with Kerry or Gore?
5. Today’s unstable world does not bode well for Senator Obama. The instability in the stock market and related job and mortgage fears do not equate with voting for the ING (Inexperienced New Guy.) In an affirmation of Mark Penn’s observation that the strong leader almost always wins the Presidential election, a mid-west hairdresser with no party affiliation told me the country has very serious problems, and that is why she is voting for the strongest leader.
Uh, so even though just about everyone sees McCain’s actions during the stock market drop and financial disaster as erratic and unstable, now they are going to decide they were wrong and they actually believe it’s about experience?
6. Finally, the reason that the world and the media incorrectly will tag as the reason for McCain’s victory (despite the foregoing six other reasons) will be the Wilder or Bradley effect. Simply put, Asians, Whites and Hispanics have and will lie to pollsters about their intention to vote for Senator Obama. According to the Associated Press, this will cost Obama six points at the polls. The AP estimate could be low. In the case of Bradley and Wilder, the spread between a “lead” in the polls and actual votes cast was in the low double digits.
Uh, the Bradley effect has been debunked about a gajillion times by now. While this “faith in racism” angle is probably the best shot at knocking Obama off-balance, it is the direct unapologetic appeal to people’s basest and most vile fears that will do it, not some hidden poll effect.
If Obama loses, make no mistake, it will be because the fear-mongering rhetoric of a war-hero fully embracing his inner monster has fertilized thousands upon thousands of flowers of hate, whose seeds were planted by an organized and unrelenting propaganda campaign of racist, xenophobic, and religious filth.
"She said the witches, warlocks and those involved in satanism and the occult get up daily at 3 a.m. to release curses against McCain and Palin so B. Hussein Obama is elected" - Jim Bramlett, inJesus.com
Although, to be honest, I had a hard time choosing between the above and this one:
"All Islam loves and worships Obama. The world is mesmerized by him. Oprah’s 200 million followers are out to elect Obama. Also, Dick Morris of Fox News was sent to Kenya to help Odinga run his campaign! I find that unbelievable."
Oh, mercy! So amazing. And then this:
"The occultists are "weaving lazy 8’s around McCain’s mind to make him look confused and like an idiot". Bree K. said we need to break these curses off of him that are being sent from Kenya."
It is about damn time people stop blaming Palin for McCain’s numbers. Everyone knows it’s Africa’s fault!
“If Mr. Obama wins we could possibly see any or all of the following: a federal constitutional right to welfare; a federal constitutional mandate of affirmative action wherever there are racial disparities, without regard to proof of discriminatory intent; a right for government-financed abortions through the third trimester of pregnancy; the abolition of capital punishment and the mass freeing of criminal defendants; ruinous shareholder suits against corporate officers and directors; and approval of huge punitive damage awards, like those imposed against tobacco companies, against many legitimate businesses such as those selling fattening food.”—Steven Calabresi, Federalist - This is so crazed and hysterical, it’s as if these people think they’re chosen by God, and anyone who dares not buy their wares must require an exorcism. Obama is liberal, sure, but the way those on the right act, and I’m talking the intellectual know-how-to-read-a-book right, not the wack-job Palinite lynch-mob right, it is clear that they have convinced themselves that there is some hidden wave of athiestic Marxism that is just barely kept in check by their brave stand. Like children fearful of the ghosts under the bed, they’re kept awake by enemies of their own imagination.
This is the mirror piece to the Reston article about her time with McCain, by Peter Nicholas, also in the LA Times.
The point of Nicholas’s piece is that Obama rarely lets his guard down and never shares those personal moments with reporters so emblematic of McCain’s campaign. Nicholas seems frustrated, bored, annoyed that Obama isn’t the kind of guy who’ll hang out and share a laugh.
If you look at these two pieces together, though, something else comes through. Neither candidate, at the end of the race, thinks its a good idea to informally hang out with reporters or answer their sudden questions in unguarded moments. The hard truth, however, is that only one of the candidates had to learn his lesson the hard way. The other knew the deal all along.
This is a rather strange article from Maeve Reston of the LA Times, known to most as the woman who asked McCain about health care plans and birth control way back in July. Many see that as the moment when Steve Schmidt took control; from then on, the press was at arm’s length, interviews were at a minimum, and McCain stuck to the prepared remarks.
What is rather odd about this piece, though, is how much Reston laments the good old days, not for her access to an open straight-talking candidate but for her closeness to a garrulous and warm comedian who asked reporters about their personal lives and asked them about wedding planning.
"Sigh," she seems to be writing, "I miss hanging out at the barbeque with Cindy and the kids, laughing as we drank champagne and talked of Fiji. Oh what has happened to my dear dear friend, so distant, so quiet, so cold!"
A note from Ezra Klein at TAP about the dearth of data analysis in health care, namely the need for comparative effectiveness research to aid with treatment decisions.
I believe very strongly in improving decision making through empirical data analysis and smart presentaiton of quantitative information. In food safety, it is what I do. And moreover, I think we will get better at doing this. In my view, we have spent the past two decades improving our ability to capture and store vast amounts of data, but have not yet figured out easy ways to harness much of this information for everyday decisions. Often, analysis takes forever, and requires intense human thinking and lots and lots of technical (how to code) and disciplinary (about what the data represents) knowledge. I think we will see some major developments over the next 10-20 years that make it easier and easier to incorporate empirical information into decisions.
For example, look at something like Good Guide, which allows consumers to compare products across environmental, health, and social metrics. This kind of tool is simple, but very powerful, as it aggregates many kinds of information from many different sources into a single rating. While the methods behind it aren’t all that fancy pantsy, it’s still the sort of thing that shows a movement away from “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” types of secretive subjective measures of guidance to transparent, data-driven approaches.
As for health care, I think Ezra exaggerates the situation — there are many many people looking at this sort of thing — but his ultimate point is still a good one. It would be a shame, as we talk about health care reform, not to address this issue in some way.
Wow. Michael McDonald tabulates counts of early votes across states. We’re expecting higher numbers of voters this year, so estimates are high, but still, with a week to go, the percentage of 2008 early voters to 2004 total voters: 38% in Colorado, 27% in Florida, 37% in New Mexico, 40% in North Carolina, 40% in Tennesee…
Years after he resurrected his political fortunes from the Keating Five savings and loan investigation, John McCain promoted an Arizona land swap that would’ve benefited a former mentor and partner of the scandal’s central figure.
McCain and an aide pushed for the exchange in more than a half dozen sometimes-testy letters and phone calls up and down the Forest Service’s hierarchy, according to former agency officials and correspondence. McCain’s office even circulated draft legislation that would have overridden the agency’s objection to surrendering national forest land. Ultimately, the deal fell apart.
McCain’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering on Spur Cross contrasts with his image as a congressional ethics champion and his pledge — made after the Keating scandal in 1991 sullied his reputation — never to intervene with regulators again.
“Obama is a Marxist Muslim Arab Jesus Black White Terrorist Technocrat Racist Do-Gooder Liberal FDR Stalin Hilter Commie Fascist Gay Womanizing Naive Cynical Insider Noob Boring Radical Unaccomplished Elite Slick Gaffe-Prone Pedophile Pedophile-Seducing Liberation Theology Atheist Etc. & Anti-Etc. with a bunch of scary friends from - wait for it! - the Nineteen Hundred And Sixties. It makes no sense. It’s a jumble sale of fears and scary associations from 50 years of wingnut witch hunts and smear campaigns, a flea market of pre-owned and antique resentments, and if one does detect a semi-consistent 1960’s motif running through it all, that’s because that’s when most of these ideas were coined.”—The Editors of The Toot, writing about the incompetence of the fear-mongering hysteria wrung by McCain and the “entire wingnut noise machine.” (via Obsidian Wings)