Ed: Seems like this was a shortly after the election draft that was lost in the shuffle. So I’m setting it up to post while I’m on vacation. Go Technology!
Those stats about the electoral margin that Obama won are heavily influenced by the absence of real third party candidates this year. He won 52 percent of the vote, more than any Democrat won since 1964 & more than any non-incumbent won since 1952.
Give Clinton half of Ross Perot’s voters (statistics suggest he would’ve gotten at least that much, afaik), and he wins 52.5% of the vote in 1992, and 53.5% in 1996. In 1980, non-incumbent Reagan won 50.7% with Jon Bayard Anderson taking 6.6% of the vote while running as a conservative independent, and Ed Clark taking 1.1% as a libertarian.
The most plausible explanation for the lack of serious third party candidates isn’t Obama, but Bush’s polarizing influence–Nader ran at almost identical figures to his 2004 performance, when he was competing against the much more moderate John Kerry. One surprise for me was Bob Barr’s poor numbers. I’d have thought that John McCain would’ve driven many libertarian minded Republicans away from the party. Anecdotal evidence suggests many of them may have voted for Obama, but that’s a really surprising fact.
I don’t want to minimize the extent of the win or argue that this means Obama lacks a “mandate”–whatever that might be. I’m just emphasizing that the major political parties are very good at what they do–splitting votes down the middle.
More fun facts: the average post 1960 presidential election had the victor receiving 387 votes, in comparison to Obama’s 365. And the numbers are not just driven by the 1980-1988 slaughterfest–Clinton had 370 and 379.
See, Bill, when you downplay Obama’s South Carolina victory by comparing it to Jesse Jackson’s 1988 victory, YOU are the one playing the race card. When you accuse your opponent of having a plan to play the race card from the beginning, THAT is playing the race card.
I looked at the memo that Bill mentions (if there are others, no one knows about them) and it says nothing of the sort–they do collect racially charged Clinton camp quotations, ranging from the seriously offensive, like Cuomo’s statement that you can’t “shuck and jive” in New Hampshire to really stupid things like mentioning Obama’s decades old drug use (I don’t think that history should matter, but I didn’t see the racial element).
Off to go vote in an hour.
Did Bill deny ever saying it one day after the initial comments. Yes. Did I listen to audio of him saying it? Yes. That’s really astonishing.
I was going to bury my head in the sand and stop thinking about the primaries until after February 5th. I was hoping that I might be in a good position to ignore things from there on out, but that’s apparently not the case. It is so tiring.
The last paragraph belies this, but I’ve resolved to do fewer link posts, except in cases where I have something useful to say. In lieu of that, there’s a shared feed on the right, which displays the most recent 8 articles on one of my google reader feeds (if you’re masochistic enough to want more, you could browse past the first eight. Why you’d want to do that would be a mystery). Below that there’s a category “for your perusal” of things that can’t go in the shared feed because they never were in my rss reader in the first place. I’m sure there’s a more elegant way to handle this–as it stands, I’ll eventually have to purge the second category on a regular basis (if you know of one, let me know).
Note: Putting the date you added the link as the alt element seems to work pretty nicely. Probably not the way that element is supposed to work, but it’s temporary, so standards be damned.
One of the problems with political commentary is that far too many of the talking heads have a vested interest in the very process they’re commenting on. I’m not concerned with the fact that commentators are ideological–this is a feature of almost any field, and if you spend enough time thinking about a subject, you will eventually come to take up a stance on its debates. It’s not just a matter of inevitability either: you get good information from an ideologue. If someone is a conservative, then I can at least rely on them to tell me what the conservative view on an issue is, and that’s important information (not every political issue pits liberal against conservative). What’s worse is when the commentators are linked to the political process not just by having an opinion, but by being closely associated with the figures they’re commenting on. Case in point:
Karl Rove will be an on-air contributor for the Fox Super Tuesday coverage. The same Karl Rove who was instrumental in smearing McCain and using dirty tricks to get Bush the nomination in 2000. While covering the Republican primaries is probably a fairly safe place for him, it’s still just a bizarre choice. This is Fox news, hardly a bastion of critical thought, but the same thing is a problem across the spectrum: the people who are eagerly hoping for positions within the party establishments, or who are just fresh out of some post within the party are the ones who are then going to pretend to be impartial observers of the process.
In a blog post concerning why Joe Biden hasn’t had traction in the democratic primaries, Matt Bai busts out the following train of thought:
I think Mr. Biden is less a victim of the media itself than of the distinct political culture that we in the media have wrought. Ten years of endless blather about the game of politics on cable TV have trained the most engaged American voters to handicap candidates rather than hear them, to pontificate about who might win rather than deciding whom they actually want to win. Voters seem to approach politics increasingly as pundits, and they look to poll numbers to tell them who’s electable and who isn’t, never stopping to realize that they are the ones who get to decide.
It’s cute, but utterly unpersuasive. Think back to the last conversation about the primaries that you overheard–that is, one that you weren’t a part of, because you’re probably a political junkie, and you’d distort the sample. Perhaps the last conversation you overheard featured two people talking about poll numbers and acting like pundits, but the last one I heard sounded as if it was beamed from Mars (or perhaps I was the Martian observing earthlings). The people I heard vaguely knew that Hillary was ahead, but couldn’t have properly guessed at the poll numbers. They weren’t pundits worried about who was electable, except perhaps so far as the media had efficiently conveyed that information to them, with it’s relatively narrow focus on the three front-runners. So I’d recommend that Bai returns to the top of his paragraph and adopts the more parsimonious explanation:
From just chatting with voters around the state, the guess here is that Mr. Biden would be a significant force in the upcoming caucuses if Iowans actually thought he could win. They never have. Mr. Biden’s supporters will tell you that this is all the media’s fault for not covering him more.
I’ll personally admit to having written Biden off when he opened his campaign by calling Obama “clean and articulate.” I rather liked Al Sharpton’s response that he showered quite regularly, thank you much.
Among the many sad facts I’ve learned recently, I’d have to count that if you tell people a rumor, then give them reliable, verifiable information telling them that it’s false, their opinions are still affected by the rumor. So that’s why it’s a little disheartening to see Obama refuting rumors that RUDY GIULIANI SLEEPS WITH PIGS. Well, he doesn’t, and that’s not the rumor that Obama actually refuted, but MITT ROMNEY IS A SERIAL LIAR (that one is completely true). Seriously, it’s shameful that Obama has to spend all this time refuting rumors like HUCKABEE IS A FUCKING LUNATIC (true again, actually)–he complained about how nice the prisoners were treated at Guantanamo. The Huckabee story was really unsettling, since I’d often thought that Huckabee seemed like a decent human being, albeit one I’d rather not see as president. Instead he just whored himself to the “all torture is good torture” wing of the Republican party.
Here’s a very good post by Ross Douthat on the state of the Republican primary campaign–almost all of his points are on target. I even agree with him that by the traditional metrics of success, the Republican candidates are generally more successful and experienced than the Democrats. There are exceptions to that, I’ll note, since Giuliani is running on a foreign-policy focused platform but his primary accomplishments in that realm include being mayor of a city that was attacked by terrorists–Marion Barry could have done that. But regardless, it’s a very helpful post if you’re confused by the Republican candidates.
Counterpoint-Update: Noah Millman disagrees, I think. At least he starts with a disagreement.
Don’t you want to find out about it? It’s a youtube video, and it’s about our favorite republican! This is just a really really cute scandal. (A more detailed but less interesting account is at TPM).
The Washington Post is running an article on the increased partisan character of Clinton’s rivals, John Edwards and Barack Obama, in their attacks on Clinton. I take it “partisan” now is being used to express “mean” or “confrontational” rather than anything more specific (other than the linguistic point, the article doesn’t really seem worth reading).
It warms my heart in a special way whenever a google search for “worst giuliani quotes” brings me a new visitor. I would like nothing more than to convince all of you that Giuliani is the worst major candidate running in this election. But in the spirit of bipartisanship, I’ll spread the love today:
- One of Giuliani’s foreign policy advisors thinks that the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel is a ruse (guess who he thinks is dishonest?)
- Mitt Romney gleefully changes his opinion on issues when it’s convenient, but has at least started to admit that his Massachusetts health care plan was a good idea and something he was responsible for.
- Huckabee thinks “Islamofascism” is the greatest threat America has ever faced. If you can willingly vote for someone that stupid, I would like to remove your franchise.
- Fred Thompson has a hard time making a speech that lasts 5 minutes.
- Hillary Clinton may be creating new fundraising scandals.
- Obama’s tendency to claim that everything impacts America’s national security is vapid and a bit worrisome.
- I’ve stopped hearing much about Edwards, and this is a bad sign (I like the guy, so this is sad-so I also have a hard time saying anything meaner than this).
If you’re not yet sufficiently depressed, roughly 30 to 40 percent of Americans still think Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11th attacks. Enjoy your muffled sobs!
Nothing to see here, but Matthew Yglesias has an informative post. If you need any further detail, Andrew Sullivan notes that waterboarding apparatus is included in a museum devoted to the Khmer Rouge’s torture techniques.
Aside: It may be that Clinton is just being habitually evasive, but this is simply not a subject where that is acceptable. Torture is the rare case where you are either with us or against us.
Added Jan 20th 2009: Since people still show up here from google, I’ll say that I regularly wince at the title of this post. I don’t think her evasion was defensible, but it’s a bit much to say that she supported waterboarding, or would’ve let it continue were she to have become president.
It looks like Edwards is going to accept public financing for his Democratic primary campaign. While the article I read waffles, it seems like this is bad news for Edwards. And that’s bad for us. Not because Edwards is the better than Obama or Clinton, though I do happen to believe that. It’s bad because it indicates the utter brokenness of public financing. As campaign spending increases, the public financing system has to accomodate that fact. In a reasonable world, I think that this would be semi-automatic. A truly good system of public financing would be a good way to avoid the excesses of the current system without having to deal with the headaches and possible constitutional challenges which are characteristic of McCain-Feingold and similar schemes.
As part of my goal of being your number one source of reasons why Giuliani sucks, try on the fact that he described his police tactics in New York as “excessive in every way.” As Matt Frost notes, that’s really scary when you think about what the government is already to doing to “fight terror.”
Here’s a video about Giuliani’s decision to abandon the Iraq study group.
Good news for us, bad news for our boy.
- He doesn’t understand Iowa. I’m not thrilled with Iowa playing such a big role in presidential politics, but so long as it does, it’s nice to see the worst candidate struggle there.
- He’s still ahead by a substantial margin, but his support is rapidly shrinking among Republicans. This is a product of the declining importance of name recognition as people begin to find out who the other candidates are, but we can hope it’s also the inevitable progress of people becoming informed about Giuliani. I am confused about one thing in the article: its characterization of McCain and Giuliani as appealing to Republicans dissatisfied with Bush’s handling of the war. I’m less clear on how this characterizes Giuliani, but McCain has been positioning himself as the thuggish enforcer of pro-Bush sentiment.
- A third poll puts Giuliani and Thompson in a dead heat. That said, Thompson has yet to have the chance to show the electorate that he’s a vapid candidate whose only qualification for office is a vague biographical similarity to Reagan.
It looks like Obama’s claim to pursue a different kind of foreign policy has some substance to it. So far, he’s the only candidate to propose easing restrictions on travel to Cuba and remittances Cuban-Americans send to family members in Cuba. I’m too lazy to find the link, but awhile back, Matthew Yglesias made the point that when Democrats adopt policies designed to isolate Cuba, they’re doing public debate a real disservice. It would be very good to be able to stand up and say “we have evidence that avoiding contact with countries we dislike just doesn’t work–look at Cuba,” but you can’t do that if you’re pandering to voters in Florida.
Update: I found the Yglesias post, and it turns out that Chris Dodd, at least, has said much the same thing.
Another nasty Giuliani quote:
Giuliani told the voter. “The best thing I can say is kind of, ‘Leave my family alone, just like I’ll leave your family alone.’”
But of course Giuliani won’t leave your family alone. Despite his previous support for gay rights, he’s pandering to the religious right now. He thinks what your family is like is precisely the public’s business and the government’s business. Why does he deserve people ignoring the actual dysfunctions of his family when he wants to interfere with perfectly functional families?
In comments on an old post, Kevin mentioned this Rudy Giuliani quote:
“Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.”
You might think there’s some ambiguity to this quote, that it could represent a reasonable point about accommodating personal liberty and the rule of law. Maybe it could, out of someone else’s mouth. But not coming from Rudy Giuliani. This is a man who can count cracking down on jaywalking as a major achievement.
In my opinion, this is one of the most important unreported stories about Giuliani’s candidacy. With a bit of work, we could probably insure that no one under the age of 30 would vote for Giuliani. Know anything about photoshop or video editing? We should talk.
The village voice has a lengthy article by Wayne Barrett about Rudy Giuliani, and if it’s major accusations are correct, you’ll never need to read another word about Giuliani–it’s hard to imagine that anything could rescue him from these claims. The article portrays Giuliani as a serial exaggerator while painting his record on terrorism as almost entirely fictitious. Unfortunately, I can’t say I know that most of the accusations are correct, but this is a good starting place for evaluating the republican front-runner.
The RNC has been sending out fundraising letters warning voters about “irregularities” in their party registration. While a good look at the letters suggests that they’re not illegal, you wonder what genius thought it was a good idea to make RNC fundraising letters sound like they were sent by the inquisition. Do the Republicans actively want people to think of them as the IRS party?
“I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table,” Mrs. Clinton told Bloomberg Television in an interview in April 2006, responding to a question about how the Bush administration would try to prevent Iran from building up its nuclear program.
Incidentally, reading this article gave me what I call iterated deja-vu: the sensation of having previously felt deja-vu in response to seeing what you are currently seeing.