Yet another ferocious attack from the Wall Street Journal against President Obama

Yesterday I directed your attention to one of the angriest editorial opinions I’ve ever seen in the normally temperate Wall Street Journal.  What I missed was that Daniel Henninger, who’s also a normally temperate writer, also leveled a huge mortar round of ugly facts against our President:

We should admit the obvious: Barack Obama is the most anti-political president the United States has had in the post-war era. Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter (even), Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush. All practiced politics inside the tensions between Congress and the presidency that were designed into the system by the Founding Fathers. Not Barack Obama. He told us he was different. He is.

Mr. Obama doesn’t do Washington’s politics. Disappointed acolytes say it is because he is “passive.” That underestimates him. For Mr. Obama, the affairs of state are wholly a function of whatever is inside his mind.

Some things remain in his mind, like the economic benefits of public infrastructure spending, which appeared one more time in Monday’s post-Navy Yard speech on the lessons of the financial crisis and Congress’s obligations to agree with him. Some things enter his mind and then depart, like red lines in the Syrian sand.

From where he sits, it is the job of the political world outside to adjust and conform to the course of the president’s mental orbit. Those who won’t adjust are dealt with by the president himself. They are attacked publicly until they are too weak politically to oppose what is on his mind.

This is the unique Obama M.O. For historians of the Obama presidency, this September has been a case study in the 44th president’s modus operandi.

Please read the whole thing here.

As with climate change, I feel vindicated — but a fat lot of good vindication does me.  The damage is already done whether to our economy or our national security.

Voters duped by a Leftist media first gave us two years of unbridled Progressive politics, then at least four years of divided politics (2010-2014, or maybe 2016), and another three plus years of Barack Hussein Obama.  Eight years is a long time within which destructive forces can do their dirty work.  The turnaround won’t be instant and won’t even be eight years.  If conservative principles do take hold again, it may take decades to undo the damage.  And given the current infighting amongst those who call themselves Republicans, it looks as if the somewhat more conservative party in America is once again setting up its circular firing squad.

Sometimes I think that the only thing that will save the Right in 2016 is the fact that Democrats are also going to have a presidential primary.  No matter how the actual election goes, I’ve got the popcorn and chocolate ice cream ready for the delightful spectacle of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren, three of the worst liars in politics today, squaring off against each other.

The cult of personality trumped ordinary considerations

I do believe that vote fraud had an effect on this election, although I don’t know if it was big enough in swing states to change the outcome.  Abe Greenwald’s theory makes a lot more sense when it comes to explaining how conservatives could have so completely misread the election outcome:

Barack Obama ushered in America’s first large-scale experiment in personality-cult politics. The experiment continues apace. Obama got reelected because he enjoys a degree of personal popularity disconnected from his record. No modern president has ever been returned to office with employment figures and right-track-wrong-track numbers as poor as those Obama has achieved.

Obama couldn’t run on his record, which proved to be no problem—Americans didn’t vote on his record. According to exit polls, 77 percent of voters said the economy is bad and only 25 percent said they’re better off than they were four years ago. But since six in ten voters claimed the economy as their number one issue, it’s clear this election wasn’t about issues at all.

The president’s reelection is not evidence of a new liberal America, but rather of the illogical and confused experience that is infatuation. For multiple reasons, Americans continue to have a crush on Barack Obama even after his universally panned first term. No longer quite head over heels, they’re at the “I know he’s no good for me, but I can change him” phase. Whatever this means, it surely doesn’t suggest conservatives would be wise to move closer to policies that aren’t even popular among Obama supporters.

(Read more here.)

What we saw on election day was the continuing power of the old media.  Indeed, it is flush with power.  This year, the old media abandoned any pretense of objectivity and still shaped an election.  That’s quite something.  For decades, the old media hid its partisanship, believing that doing so was the only way to sway the American people.  This year, it learned that it could be hyper-partisan because it is still the gatekeeper.

We in the blogosphere were deluding ourselves about our reach and ability to change the dialog.  By ignoring some stories (Benghazi, for example, or the scope of Sandy’s disaster) and by hyping other story’s (Romney’s offshore accounts or dog driving), it kept Obama in office despite the fact that he has failed to fulfill every promise he made and left the country in a perilous state.

I know that the economic numbers were creeping up ever so slightly before the election (improved stock market, slightly improved job numbers), but those would have been irrelevant if the press had been hostile to Obama.  This was indeed a “cult of personality” election, as I see regularly on my Facebook page.

There certainly were issues that excited Democrat voters — the elite voted on social issues grounds (lady parts and gay marriage being the things they trumpet most triumphantly) and the 47% vote to keep their government benefits — but those issues were of paramount importance to them because the media colluded with the Obama administration to hide from the public the scope of the coming economic disaster.  Had the American people better understood the economy, the elite might have decided that lady parts and gay marriage could wait a while, and the 47% might have realized that no government money means no government benefits.

Here’s the good news, though:  Next election, the media doesn’t have Obama to elevate any more.  We won’t have Romney, who is a a truly nice man, but whom the media demonized to the proportions of Sarah Palin, who is a truly nice woman.  The press will still demonize the Republican candidate, but I’m not certain they’ll have anyone to anoint as the second coming.  Neither Hillary nor Elizabeth Warren lend themselves to a personality cult.  This hagiography worked once with Obama.  I doubt it will work twice with someone else.  The American population might be in a “fool me twice, shame on you” frame of mind.

Or, of course, Obama could bring in a new Golden Age in the next four years, in which case all of us will have to retire our animus and rejigger our political views.  Currently, I’m not holding my breath on that one.

Don’t let the bad polls get you down.

A lot of people have been writing to explain that the polls are heavily weighted in favor of Democrats, showing a Democrat voter turnout even higher than in 2008.  Many people think that this is a psy-ops effort aimed at depressing Republican voter turnout.  Zombie says we shouldn’t get our knickers in a twist about this one, because there’s no evidence that these psy-ops work, and lots of human nature that says they probably won’t work.

Does the Wisconsin vote matter?

The American Future Fund put together a very funny video that shows Progressives before and after the Wisconsin election.  Before, defeat meant an imminent apocalypse; after, defeat meant . . . nothing:

You can’t blame the Progressives for their differing before and after statements. With the November 2012 election coming up, one could argue that circumstances forced them to take both positions.

But we here at the Bookworm Room aren’t Progressives, and we’re not trying to induce people to vote one way or another.  Perhaps, then, we can come to a consensus about the implications of Walker’s victory in Wisconsin.

I’m too lazy right now to hunt up links, so I’m going to make factual statements that I’m 99% certain are accurate.  You can accept them as true, or you can call me on my errors.  This also isn’t a carefully framed essay.  Instead, I’m just throwing out ideas.

1.  Here’s a fact I know for certain, because I was there when it happened: I heard a pro-Obama liberal say, “Oh, my God!  This is a disaster.”  When I asked why, she said, “Because I wanted Obama to win in November, and this means he won’t.”  The media and White House may be spinning, but at least one (wo)man on the street thinks that the Wisconsin election, rather than being an anomaly, is a harbinger of things to come.

2.  Many have commented on the disparity between exit polls and votes.  I’m not ready to draw a conclusion from those discrepancies.  Roger Simon suggests a Bradley effect, one that sees political ideology, not racial views, as the opinion people are trying to hide during face-to-face interviews.  If he’s right, the polls in this election season just became meaningless, and all bets are off for November.  DQ, however, had a good point, which is that, until we know how many absentee ballots were cast in Wisconsin, we can’t know how anomalous the poll results really were.  Here in Marin, for example, up to 60% of voters do so by absentee ballot.  With only 40% of voters showing up at the polling places, and the pollsters only catching a small fraction of those, there’s going to be a wide margin for error in any hypothetical exit polling.

3.  Some man-on-the-street interviews saw people saying, “I just don’t like the recall idea.”  Maybe that’s true.  Or maybe people are lying about their motives for voting conservative in order to hide their resurgent conservative identity.  In any event, a couple of interviews does not a statistical sample make.  What’s of some significance is the fact that Scott Walker is the only governor to survive a recall vote.  In other words, in other places and other elections, people weren’t so squeamish about kicking out a governor who was fighting a recall.

4.  Money matters — and I’m not talking about money spent on elections.  Scott Walker, in the short time available to him as governor, shifted the Wisconsin balance sheet away from a huge, even catastrophic deficit.  People who are not ideologues will vote for someone who is manifestly preserving their way of life, even if they’re voting outside of their normal party identification.

5.  The unions are in serious trouble.  It’s not just that they lost.  It’s that, when workers in Walker’s Wisconsin were given a choice to walk away from the unions, they did so — causing a 2/3 drop in union rolls.  This means that the unions are serving only the politicians and the union leaders.  The rank and file might have been getting good benefits, but they realized that good benefits are meaningless in a broke nation.  They opted for social stability, rather than being forced to turn over their money to a union that didn’t serve them well and that didn’t serve their community well.

6.  This is deeply damaging for Barack Obama.  Oh, I know that Wisconsin is just one state.  There might have been all sorts of unique Wisconsin factors at work here that, practically speaking, have no relationship to Obama and to the nation as a whole.  But this was a big Democrat push.  The unions, which are synonymous with Democrats, put their all into this.  The protests against Walker were tied closely to the Occupy movement which is, in turn, tied closely to the Democrats.  The two candidates took positions that perfectly represented the dividing lines of political thought in this country, with Walker being the principled, budget-cutting conservative, and Barrett promising the same old big-spending, pro-union Democrat governance that saw Wisconsin slowly go broke in the first place.  When the Democrat side lost, you could practically see the stench start rising from the corpse.  That stench is going to stick to Democrats nationwide and, naturally, it’s going to stick hardest to the top Democrat.  It’s not the nail in the Obama re-election coffin, but it’s certain equal to a handful of nails, and joins other painful moments, ranging from big failures, such as the dismal job reports, worldwide economic collapse, and the scary despotism of the Arab Spring that Obama helped usher in, to small failures, such as the dog wars, the mommy wars, the bullying wars, etc.  Obama is looking like a very weak horse indeed, and in unstable times, that’s the last person the voters want shepherding their nation.

What does Dancing With The Stars have to do with the presidential elections? Glad you asked.

For several years, every Tuesday and Wednesday morning, my sister has regaled me with stories about Dancing With The Stars, which is not just her favorite television show, it’s actually the only show she watches.  For those unfamiliar with DWTS, the premise is simple:  every season, a group of TV stars, singers, athletes, models, etc., is paired with the show’s stable of professional dancers.  The guests are taught a couple of ballroom dances, and let loose on the dance floor.  The same pattern gets repeated week after week, with the show turning into an elimination game that sees the lowest scoring dancer (based on judges’ scores and audience call-ins) being let go each week.  The season ends with the top three dancers facing off against each other.

After fighting against it for a while, I gave in, watched the show, and enjoyed it.  DWTS has a wonderful “getting it right” trajectory, one that sees people who have never danced before, or never danced ballroom before, getting better before your eyes.  By the end of the ten-week season, the last three guests remaining actually look like dancers, rather than like robots who have mastered steps.

The most recent season, which concluded just this Tuesday, had an unusually good group of guests.  By season’s end, the three remaining really were head-to-head in terms of “who would have expected it?” dancing talent.  These three were William Levy, a Cuban refugee, model, and Telemundo star; Katherine Jenkins, a very beautiful, blonde, Welsh classical singer trained at the Royal Academy of Music; and Donald Driver, a Green Bay Packers football player who helped propel his team to a Superbowl victory.  William Levy sold sex (woo!), Katherine Jenkins sold precision, and Donald Driver sold himself.

Here’s sex (with the dance starting around 3 minutes in, although the Cuban refugee story preceding it is fairly interesting):

Here’s precision:

And here’s charisma, with a bit of raw muscle thrown in for good measure:

Interestingly, even though Donald Driver is the only non-performer of the three, he sells it! The other two, who are both stage professionals (one acting, one singing) lacked his star power.  Driver, as you may already have heard, won the mirror ball trophy.  I was not surprised, despite the fact that, when it came to dancing qua dancing, he was probably the least good of the three.  With very little to distinguish the three, personality was the trump card.

I’ve long been fascinated by that elusive, intangible, yet very real charm that is charisma.  I’ve written here before about the most handsome man I’ve ever met, whose face I cannot remember.  What I actually remember is his charm.  I was a pretty, blonde 18-year old in Israel for the first time.  My Mom’s friend had a 25-year old son who took one look at me and said, “Would you like to come to a party with me?”  “Sure,” I replied.  He called the host, squared things away, and off we went.  When we got there, the host greeted me at the door as if I was the most important, interesting, gorgeous person he’d ever met.  “I’m so glad you came,” he said, drawing me into the room.  I was glad too.  He made me feel precious, special, and treasured.  He had charisma.  I don’t remember his face, but my heart knows he was gorgeous.

Charisma in the political world can be a dangerous thing.  Sometimes, it lands one with a great leader, such as Reagan.  Other times, that same elusive charm sees people electing a huckster to the White House — someone like Clinton, for example.  Even Clinton’s enemies couldn’t deny his warmth and charm.  Clinton may have been grossly narcissistic and corrupt, but he genuinely likes people and wants them in his orbit.  He was then and still is a most likable bad boy.

Obama is an interesting thing.  The 2008 showed that he had the power of the true demagogue, but I’m not sure so about the charisma.  I never saw it.  Unlike Clinton, who actually likes people, Obama does not.  He’s a performer, rather than a truly charismatic human being.  If he stays on script (memorized and teleprompted speeches) and if he has a publicity department to shore him up (the MSM), he sells a simulacrum of charisma, one that, in 2008, was enough to charm a population that was looking for the un-Bush, and that was decidedly bored with the completely uncharismatic John McCain.

The problem for Obama is that winning the election meant he had to get off the stage.  Since he was faking the charm, the same audiences who cheered and fainted, were suddenly presented with a much less likable version of the man.  Watching Obama over the last few years has been precisely the same as watching a commercial in which the actor, having charmingly announced “I’m not a real charismatic politician, but I play one on TV,” steps off the set and starts screaming at his fellow cast members and the crew, as he wipes off the thick stage magic that hid his acne scars.

Over the years, Obama has proven himself ignorant (Austrian language, it’s wrong for businesses to be set up to “maximize profit,” “corpse”-men, etc.), mean (“I won,” “You’re likeable enough, Hilary,” police acted “stupidly,” find out “whose ass to kick,” etc.), inarticulate, and generally not the golden boy the media sold to American audiences back in 2008.  That’s okay.  The nature of a demagogue is that he’s deeply flawed, in an antisocial way.  Obama’s problem is that he’s not selling himself.  He doesn’t deliver insults with a charming smile.  He doesn’t giggle about his gaffes, as Johnny Carson so wonderfully did:

Obama’s many fails come from a deep reservoir of anger and ignorance, and there is no smiling that will cover it up.

So, on the Democrat side of the slate we have one singularly charmless candidate.

What’s interesting is that the Republicans also have a candidate who lacks charisma.  I like Romney.  His is a personal history of hard work and good deeds.  He’s a hugely successful ordinary guy.  The media demonizes his law-abiding success (which, in a normal world, would be a good thing) and heaps scorn upon his social ordinary-ness.

Sadly, the dinosaur drive-by media still has enough power to convince voters that the perfectly ordinary, very nice Mitt Romney — the kind of guy you’d love to have as a friend and neighbor — is a boring, goofy, bully.  What will be interesting is to see whether that same drive-by media can also convince voters that the self-involved, cold, cutting, ignorant Barack Obama — the kind of guy who is reviled in a small community — is the same charismatic golden boy who ran for and won the presidency in 2008.

There is no Donald Driver here — a good all around guy, with buckets of character.  Instead, all we’ve got are here are two ordinary men (although I’d argue that Mitt is substantially smarter than Barry), with extremely different histories and world views.  One therefore has to ask, in an election in which both candidates lack that magical, elusive charm that is charisma, will the media be able to dismiss one nice, bright, accomplished guy as a boring nonentity, while building up the other, not-so-very nice guy, as the great charmer, deserving of the great American mirror ball trophy?

Are Obama’s Bay Area donors getting any Obama bang for their big bucks?

I posted earlier today about Obama’s visit to the Bay Area, one that is expected to net him and the Democratic party lots and lots of money.  One reader, who asked to remain anonymous, noticed something interesting about Obama’s schedule:

Obama has scheduled:

- 4:30 appearance in Palo Alto for $35,800/person

- 5:30 dinner in Atherton for $35,800/person

- 6:00 rally/reception in Redwood City for $2500-$7500/person

Doesn’t this schedule look odd?  I know Silicon Valley is a small area, but there are limits to how fast one can drive and unless he really is God and can be in multiple places at once, his presence at these events must be only about 5 minutes each.   This is especially true for the 5:30 event.

Frankly, if I was paying $35,800 to have dinner or be at an “appearance” of the President, I would expect more than a fleeting glimpse as he reenters his car.  But, of course, I am a conservative and expect value for my money.

I wish I’d said that.

How much do you think the polls will change once the Republican primaries end?

Rasmussen just came out with a pre-debate poll that shows Obama leading both Romney and Santorum by ten and seven points respectively.  Couple this with headlines touting good news on the economy (some of which is definitely real and some illusory) and it’s enough to send something stronger than a frisson of fear coursing up a conservative’s spine.  While a few months ago it looked as if Obama could lose to a generic Republican candidate, it’s becoming increasingly clear that it will be harder for a specific Republican candidate to beat him.

Or not?

Conservative and Republican voters are deeply divided between Romney and Santorum (although both have shamefully big government voting records, making them a Hobson’s choice).  Is it possible that, when a pollster calls a Santorum voter and asks him to give his opinion about a possible Obama vs. Romney match-up, that voter finds it very hard to imagine himself pulling the lever for Romney?  After all, today, he is as opposed to Romney as he is to Obama. The same holds true for Romney supporters who are asked to envision a Santorum vs. Obama election.

The question that ought to concern us is whether this distaste for the other Republican candidate will continue once the primary season is over, so that Romney supporters will hang back if Santorum wins the nomination and vice versa.  In that case, Obama will indeed win.  If, however, conservative and Republican voters consolidate behind the last candidate standing, that block should be sufficient to shift the polling weight and, more importantly, the election outcome.

What do you think will happen?  Will Republicans and conservatives be able to come together behind a single candidate, or has this primary been so divisive that the Republican party is too wounded to win?

As of today, who’s your conservative candidate choice?

A friend sent me a link to a post at Whatever, a blog that John Scalzi runs.  Scalzi, who describes himself as a “pinko commie socialist,” is interested — truly, not snarkily, interested — in the views Republicans/conservatives/libertarians currently hold when looking at the Republican primary field.  Having the luxury of my own blog, I thought that, rather than weigh in there, I’d weigh in here, and ask you all to chime in as well.  I’ll stick to Scalzi’s rules, which I think are very good ones for this question:

1. This comment thread is for people who are US potential primary voters who identify as Republican and/or conservative (libertarian is also fine, if you see your libertarianism more aligned with general Republican/conservative principles and/or intend to vote in the GOP primaries). If you’re not any of these things, don’t comment, please. Seriously. We have enough politics back and forth on other threads; this one is not about that.

To amplify this point I will also stay out of the thread except in my capacity as site moderator.

2. For the purposes of this thread, please take as given that you likely believe the policies and practices of the Obama administration to be varying levels of bad, so it’s not on point to go on about that. I’m interested on your take on the actual candidates running for the GOP nomination and your thoughts on their individual pluses and minuses as well as on the group as a whole.


4. Commenting between the people in the thread (who have already identified themselves as Republicans/conservatives) is of course fine but in general I’m more interested in people’s individual opinions regarding the candidates/group than I am in people trying to argue to others in the thread for their favorite candidate. So if you’d keep campaigning to a minimum and focus on the actual question, I’d be appreciative.

As a Californian, of course, none of my votes count.  My primaries are too late to matter and the state is so Blue, it’s kind of like a corpse when it comes to the actual election itself.  So, while I care deeply, my caring is sort of academic.

Having said that, I’ve been enjoying Newt.  Considering that all the candidates just yak away like crazy, it’s a kind of rare, delicious, almost illicit pleasure to hear someone who can string multiple sentences together, who has a rare depth and breadth of knowledge, and who often says what all of us have been thinking.  I have serious doubts about his abilities as an executive (I do think Romney wins in that category), but he’s like chocolate for the conservative political brain — and that’s despite the baggage, the loopiness, the history of random statements, the FDR worship, and whatever else one can say about Newt.

When it comes to thinking seriously about a primary candidate, I don’t know and, as I noted above, for me the question is academic (especially since California now has open primaries).  What I’ve said for months is that my candidate is NOT OBAMA.  Of course, I have to ask myself, what if the NOT OBAMA candidate is Ron Paul?  I think he’d be better for America on the home front than Obama is, but I think he’d manage to be even worse than Obama when it comes to America’s national security interests, both at home and abroad.  I don’t want to have to make an Obama versus Paul choice.

My current plan is to vote for the person with the “R” after his/her name.  I’m not going to teach anyone a lesson by withholding a vote, thereby weakening the NOT OBAMA Party, of which I am a member in good standing.

Only megalomanics need apply

Let’s see if I’ve got this right, based upon the evidence currently available:

  1. Obama is a grandiose narcissist
  2. Newt is an egomaniac
  3. Hillary is a compulsive liar
  4. Mitt seems vaguely asperger-ish, with a weather vane in place of his spine
  5. Herman is a serial womanizer (assuming, for the sake of argument, that the claims against him are true)
  6. Rick is manic (so can depressive be far behind)
  7. Michelle is an abused wife (or is she married to an abused husband?  I forget)

And on the list goes.  Giving personality disorder labels to presidential candidates is like shooting fish in a barrel — it’s just too easy.  But think about it:  What person in his (or her) right mind would want to run for president or be president in the early years of the 21st century.  Not only is there the burden of governing a superpower in an explosive world, but our manic media ensures that, if you’re a Republican candidate, you’ll be subject to routine, public colonoscopies,  while if you’re a Democratic candidate, you receive the kind of fawning sycophancy that created the same delusions of grandeur that drove many European monarchs mad.

Any job description for the job of president in 2012 should end with the words “only megalomaniacs need apply.”  No sane person would want the job, including a sane patriot, and that fact may go a long to explaining why our candidates are so deeply flawed.

In honor of this realization, I’d like to propose a new presidential song, which is much more apt and meaningful than “Hail to the Chief”:

(Or see here.)

Useful statistics

Before you let the polls spook you, Ann Coulter has some useful history:

Reviewing the polls printed in the New York Times and the Washington Post in the last month of every presidential election since 1976, I found the polls were never wrong in a friendly way to Republicans. When the polls were wrong, which was often, they overestimated support for the Democrat, usually by about 6 to 10 points.

In 1976, Jimmy Carter narrowly beat Gerald Ford 50.1 percent to 48 percent. And yet, on Sept. 1, Carter led Ford by 15 points. Just weeks before the election, on Oct. 16, 1976, Carter led Ford in the Gallup Poll by 6 percentage points – down from his 33-point Gallup Poll lead in August.

Reading newspaper coverage of presidential elections in 1980 and 1984, I found myself paralyzed by the fear that Reagan was going to lose.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan beat Carter by nearly 10 points, 51 percent to 41 percent. In a Gallup Poll released days before the election on Oct. 27, it was Carter who led Reagan 45 percent to 42 percent.

In 1984, Reagan walloped Walter Mondale 58.8 percent to 40 percent, – the largest electoral landslide in U.S. history. But on Oct. 15, the New York Daily News published a poll showing Mondale with only a 4-point deficit to Reagan, 45 percent to 41 percent. A Harris Poll about the same time showed Reagan with only a 9-point lead. The Oct. 19 New York Times/CBS News Poll had Mr. Reagan ahead of Mondale by 13 points. All these polls underestimated Reagan’s actual margin of victory by 6 to 15 points.

In 1988, George H.W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis by a whopping 53.4 percent to 45.6 percent. A New York Times/CBS News Poll on Oct. 5 had Bush leading the Greek homunculus by a statistically insignificant 2 points – 45 percent to 43 percent. (For the kids out there: Before it became a clearinghouse for anti-Bush conspiracy theories, CBS News was considered a credible journalistic entity.)

A week later – or one tank ride later, depending on who’s telling the story – on Oct. 13, Bush was leading Dukakis in the New York Times Poll by a mere 5 points.

Admittedly, a 3- to 6-point error is not as crazily wrong as the 6- to 15-point error in 1984. But it’s striking that even small “margin of error” mistakes never seem to benefit Republicans.

In 1992, Bill Clinton beat the first President Bush 43 percent to 37.7 percent. (Ross Perot got 18.9 percent of Bush’s voters that year.) On Oct. 18, a Newsweek Poll had Clinton winning 46 percent to 31 percent, and a CBS News Poll showed Clinton winning 47 percent to 35 percent.

So in 1992, the polls had Clinton 12 to 15 points ahead, but he won by only 5.3 points.

In 1996, Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole 49 percent to 40 percent. And yet on Oct. 22, 1996, the New York Times/CBS News Poll showed Clinton leading by a massive 22 points, 55 percent to 33 percent.

In 2000, which I seem to recall as being fairly close, the October polls accurately described the election as a virtual tie, with either Bush or Al Gore 1 or 2 points ahead in various polls. But in one of the latest polls to give either candidate a clear advantage, the New York Times/CBS News Poll on Oct. 3, 2000, showed Gore winning by 45 percent to 39 percent.

Other comforting poll posts:

One obvious reason the polls are biased

The Left’s Big Blunder

Polls : Obama or McCain is Winning

Remember, it ain’t over ’til it’s over:

The world is going to Hell in a handbasket

Depressed today.  Decided to do a risk assessment of possible (and impossible) and likely (and unlikely) outcomes.  Feel free to chime in.

McCain & Palin win and Republicans eke out a majority in Congress:  Impossible.

McCain & Palin win and Democrats retain control over Congress:  Less and less likely.

Obama & Biden win and Republicans eke out a majority Congress:  Not bloody likely.

Obama & Biden win and Democrats retain control over Congress:  Possible and likely.

If the latter is true, then what?

Ideally, after only two years, American voters are disgusted with total Democratic rule and they throw the Democrats out of Congress, with a chastened Republican majority returning.  Then, in 2012, Americans elect a Republican president, and this whole damn cycle starts again.  Damage to the country during those two years:  substantial (especially at the Supreme Court level), but not irreversible.  (Think Carter, then Reagan.)

Less ideally, the above scenario plays out over an eight year period, not a four year period.  The damage to the country would be more significant, and the ability to reverse it much more challenging.  (Think Clinton, then Bush, although one hopes for someone stronger domestically than Bush.)

Worst case scenario:  All Democratic all the time for the next eight years.  Damage to country:  profound and irreversible.  Hello, Europe!  Here we come.  And, given time, Hello, Eurabia, here we come!  And given really enough time, “Hail, Comrade Mohammed!”

Did I mention that I’m feeling depressed today?  I have got to stop reading the newspapers, the polls and the blogs.  I need to get out more.  I need to sleep on a chair in the sun the way my dog does.  I need lots of chocolate.

When Americans start paying attention

Yesterday, I urged you to read Thomas Lifson’s January 2006 article looking to the two political seasons that affect most Americans — the long inattention season and the short attention season.  Today, Thomas was good enough to revisit his original premise and analyze how it helps Republicans generally (which is why, every election dumb-founded Democrats claim that Republicans “stole” the election) and how this year, very specifically, it’s helping McCain and Palin:

This radically different and comparatively infrequent mode of mass opinion formulation tends to favor Republicans in general, and John McCain in particular, this election season. His choice of plain-speaking Sarah Palin plays directly into the requirement of reaching people who haven’t already made up their minds, who are bored with politics normally, and who decide that they had better make up their mind who is telling the truth and who is blowing smoke, whose policies make sense, and whose don’t.

Obama’s theatricality has already damaged his credibility with voters, starting with the failure of the expensive overseas tour culminating with the Berlin rally to help him in the polls. The Styrofoam Greek pillars of Invesco Field have now entered the realm of political legend, the butt of a joke at the most remarkable political speech in recent memory, one that sparked the massive turnaround in the fortunes of the two campaigns.

The emergence of an economic crisis only amplifies the quadrennial change in the public’s mode of attention. If McCain/Palin are able to grab the initiative and convince the public that Clinton-era regulatory changes, including “anti-redlining” measures, are at the root of the current economic trouble, it can be turned to their advantage, despite the conventional wisdom  about economic conditions and the incumbent party. The involvement of leading Democrats and Obama advisors in Fannie and Freddie helps McCain enormously, if he takes what has been set on his plate and makes a feast of it.

As with Thomas’ first article on the subject, I urge you to read this article, which (1) I think goes to a core reality of American politics, (2) explains what otherwise look like bizarre election turn-arounds, and (3) could guide the McCain-Palin team as they shape their message in the weeks leading up to the election.

A serious time in American politics

Almost three years ago, Thomas Lifson wrote what I think is one of the most important political analyses I’ve ever read — and one that goes a long way to explaining the way in which American voters are slowly abandoning Obama and coalescing around the McCain ticket.  Thomas believes that their are two political seasons:  the attentive and the inattentive season.

With less than 50 days to the election, the public is paying attention right now, and the MSM is failing them, and failing them badly.  Rather than providing fairly objective reporting about all four people on the Presidential ticket, they are composing hagiographies for one side of the ticket, and firing vicious partisan attacks against the other side.  The media’s conduct is not fulfilling the role the public demands of it right now and, in that vacuum, the public is hewing to the known product — McCain.  Palin is exciting and energizing, but I think it’s McCain who, in a quiet and rather graceful way, is filling the vacuum.

Anyway, read what Thomas has to say and let me know what you think.

Obama — nothing but a useless symbol

The good thing about living in a liberal community is that you get to hear how ordinary people — not the pundit class and the media — think.  I blogged yesterday about one elderly woman’s absolute trust in the MSM.  If they say it, it must be true, all actual evidence to the contrary.

To these liberals, it’s a “who do you trust” issue.  You trust the media, no matter how often they’re proven wrong, and you don’t trust anyone else, no matter the fact that, even as to the one only verifiable point, they’re proven right.

Today, I got another insight into liberal think.  A friend told me that he really doesn’t like Obama, but that this single quotation about McCain made it apparent to him that he couldn’t possibly ever vote for McCain:  “I make them as quickly as I can, quicker than the other fellow, if I can.  Often my haste is a mistake, but I live with the consequences without complaint.”  Having heard that quotation, my liberal friend instantly assumed that McCain makes decisions without data, which is nowhere implied in what McCain says.

Aside from the fact that McCain never says he ignores data, it’s a useful mental exercise to realize that Obama thought long and hard about his VP choice, and then made a terrible mistake.  More to the point, while I see McCain as exaggerating somewhat for effect, I think he was really saying that he’s a modern day Truman:  “The buck stops here.”  He makes his decisions and doesn’t immediately turn around and blame everyone else if they fail.

My liberal friend conceded that Obama has nothing personal going for him:  My friend doesn’t like Obama’s policies and is not impressed by his resume.  Why, then, will he vote for him?  It’s all about image.  Obama is the ultimate American advertisement.  Voting for him, says my friend, will increase America’s standing in the world, make people of color feel good about themselves, and prove that America is not a racist nation.

If the Presidency was merely a symbolic position, those might be valid reasons.  But the Presidency is a very powerful position.  To vote for the most powerful person in the world, a person you concede is ineffectual and holds views antithetical to yours, simply because he looks good and you think he’ll make America “popular” strikes me as the height of irresponsibility.

This approach also shows remarkable ignorance.  Barring the rare moments when America walks in and actually rescues Europeans from the arms of death, Europe has always been anti-American.  Go back to writings from the 18th Century and you’ll see the same themes:  America is a boorish, uncultured, ill-informed bully that needs to be reined in by wiser European heads.  The only difference between now and then is that, while the American media historically took umbrage at and challenged those anti-American viewpoints, media members now echo and enlarge on those same views.

Likewise, what will it take to be friends with Iran?  Conceding that it’s okay to launch a nuclear missile at Israel, perhaps?  How about being friends with North Korea?  “Yes, we’d love for you to be nuclear and, while you’re at it, we’ll just withdraw and leave South Korea to you.”  Likewise, with Venezuela — “Please, go ahead with imposing Marxism on Latin America.  And, dude, we love the neo-anti-Semitism you’re spouting.  Sounds good.”

My liberal friend has reduced the presidential election to a high school level popularity contest.  He wants to elect the “coolest” kid so that we “look good.”  This is the Fernando Lamos school of voting.  It was bad politics in high school, and it’s worse politics on the world stage.

Because I’m better than the New York Times

The Times may have refused to publish McCain’s Iraq editorial (afraid, no doubt, that publishing it would cast a shadow on Obama’s purported wisdom), but I have no such fear.  Here’s, courtesy of the Drudge Report, is the op-ed McCain wrote — and it’s an op-ed that any reasonable, non-partisan newspaper would have freely printed:

In January 2007, when General David Petraeus took command in Iraq, he called the situation “hard” but not “hopeless.” Today, 18 months later, violence has fallen by up to 80% to the lowest levels in four years, and Sunni and Shiite terrorists are reeling from a string of defeats. The situation now is full of hope, but considerable hard work remains to consolidate our fragile gains.

Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he said on January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse.”

Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that “our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence.” But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, “Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.” Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City—actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism.

The success of the surge has not changed Senator Obama’s determination to pull out all of our combat troops. All that has changed is his rationale. In a New York Times op-ed and a speech this week, he offered his “plan for Iraq” in advance of his first “fact finding” trip to that country in more than three years. It consisted of the same old proposal to pull all of our troops out within 16 months. In 2007 he wanted to withdraw because he thought the war was lost. If we had taken his advice, it would have been. Now he wants to withdraw because he thinks Iraqis no longer need our assistance.

To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military’s readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five “surge” brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be “very dangerous.”

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we’ve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner prematurely.

I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the war—only of ending it. But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.

There are a lot of things that are less than perfect about the John McCain candidacy, but his foreign policy vision vis a vis Iraq is not one of his problem areas.  It may not be perfect, but it’s good by any standards, and is far, far better than Obama’s ill-informed, netroot’s driven, poll driven, ideologically flawed approach.

I think Lee Cary has come up with the best statement about the MSM’s approach to the McCain campaign, and it’s a disgusting (but well-deserved) conclusion about the MSM’s abandonment of any pretense of impartiality: “About the only way McCain will be able to match Obama’s media coverage is if he robs a convenience store, gets caught, and does a public perp walk.”

Is this any way to run a presidential campaign? *UPDATED*

See important update below.

I have been trying without success for a couple of weeks now to volunteer my writing and editing services to the local “John McCain for President” chapter.  No one is getting back to me — and I’ve been told by someone with ties to the local “McCain for President” chapter that this is par for the course.  I find this distressing.  Here you have someone who wants to volunteer, and whose services are, quite frankly, much needed (since campaign literature is usually horribly written), and I’m getting the cold shoulder.

I’ve also been given to understand that, even though my skills involve writing and editing, they will only want me for a “get out the vote” effort in my own small town.  Living as I do in my own small town, I can tell you two things:  first, the Republican party has never achieved an even marginally visible get-out-the-vote presence (and that includes the people who sit behind ironing boards at grocery stores trying to register voters); and, second, even if it did, there are only about 200 conservatives here, and they’re going to vote anyway for Obama.

The big need is for large, county-wide promotional campaigns and, to toot my own horn, that’s where my editing skills are beyond useful.  Even if my writing is somewhat pedestrian at times, I can edit the hell out of other people’s work, making their materials tighter and more interesting.  Using me to harass my blue, blue neighbors is just a waste of everyone’s time.

I can’t decide if what I’m seeing is the natural inefficiency of a volunteer organization or the demoralized behavior of a group that’s functioned for so long (and done so badly) in hostile territory that it can no longer respond even to offers of help.  Either way, it’s a damn shame.  After all, this isn’t a local election for a Congress person.  Instead, this is one little piece of a vast state-wide election in what will be a very, very close race at the end of the day.  In other words, state-wide, every vote counts.  To turn ones back on someone who would like to add to the McCain votes strikes me as very foolish.

UPDATE:  DQ pointed out to me that, as this is a local outpost, not the national campaign, it’s unlikely that any writing is going on.  Now, from my point of view, that’s just plain wrong.  I can think of a million things they should be writing — or at least four:  (1) emails to local Republicans; (2) fliers to local Republicans; (3) a blog for local Republicans; and (4) op-eds for the local paper.  Considering how demoralized the base is, just getting the vote out is a big deal, and should be taken seriously at the local level.

Further, even if my writing and editing skills are useless, it still makes no sense to me, with a volunteer hurling her body across their path, that they’ve made no effort to contact me about doing other work.

UPDATE: I owe the group a big apology.  I attended their first formal meeting tonight and was very impressed by the quality of the people and by how far the long-time stalwarts have already come in terms of organization.  It’s a great group and one with which I’ll be very proud to be affiliated.  I was too impatient and I let my ego get in the way.

Controlling the debate

One of the first things you learn as litigation defense counsel is that you will lose if you let the plaintiff control the case’s message. It’s easy to let this happen, because the plaintiff comes out of the gate like gangbusters, and the defendant finds himself, logically, in a defensive, purely reactive posture. “You did this.” “I did not. And what if I did, anyway?” It’s all about responding to the plaintiff’s narrative.

What the defendant needs to do, and often doesn’t do until the eve of trial, is look at his own facts in a vacuum, without the throbbing background drumbeat of the plaintiff’s complaint. In every case in which I’ve taken the time to do this, and do it well, I’ve discovered that there is a completely different narrative theme available to the defendant — not one that is merely reactive and defensive, but one that stands on its own as coherent, believable (and often winnable) story. If I can get out from under the plaintiff’s tale, either the plaintiff loses entirely, or the plaintiff’s margin of victory shrinks substantially.

I wish the Republican party would figure out that the same rules of behavior should apply in this political race. Right now, in full gangbusters mode, the Democrats are marking out the battlefield. “Bush lied.” “Cheney is evil.” “We’ve lost in Iraq.” “Global warming and polar bears.” “Pathetic, maltreated illegal immigrants.” “Economic despair.” The Republicans are in a pure, panicked reactive mode, either desperately distancing themselves — “I never liked George Bush, either” — or trying to coopt the Democrats — “I’m more green than you are.” John McCain is no exception.

The Republicans need to take a deep breath, convene in a smoke filled back room and come up with their own story, untainted by the Democratic world view. Not surprisingly, because he is, after all, a lawyer, Hugh Hewitt completely understands this. The other day, when I had a rare moment alone in the car — meaning I could listen to grown-up radio — I caught Hewitt expounding on the pure conservative messages that the Republicans should be hammering home without fear. I’ve never figured out how to link to podcasts, so this is how you find it: Go here, and look for Hugh’s May 14 show, hour 2.

What Hugh has to say all comes out in the first ten minutes of that segment, and it’s very much worth listening to. Even if you don’t agree with everything he says, what stands out is that he’s envisioning a message that comes, first and foremost from the Republicans, without first being past through the Democratic filter. That’s how you win.

Right now, Republicans are in a losing posture, not because they have a bad message, but because they have no message at all. They look like cornered rats, trying to confuse the cat into thinking they’re something other than a tasty meal. They need to come out like gangbusters too, loud and proud, with a message that resonates with ordinary Americans. Right now, the Democratic message is resonating, but that’s primarily because there’s nothing else out there to stop those sound waves from vibrating around in the political ether.

Everything old is new again

Whether we forget or remember the past, sometimes we seem doomed to repeat it. Certainly with all the candidates, the analogies to historic times flow freely. The two big analogies, of course, are World War II and the Vietnam War, depending on whether voters view Islamists or fellow Americans as the enemy.

There are other historic times, though, that are worthy of revisiting. Watch this Betty Boop video and tell me if it doesn’t seem eerily reminiscent of much of the Democratic platform, with Betty promising to cure all ills and flatten out wealth, two sentiments accompanied by meaningless (but, since this is Betty Boop, jazzy) platitudes.

Hat tip: Lulu and her husband