PoliBlog (TM): A Rough Draft of my Thoughts

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  1. Right here. All this Palin criticism from you and others has completely distracted from the fact that John McCain was: a.) never going to win regardless because it was a bad year for Republicans and b.) a horrible candidate from day one. This is not a defense of Palin per se, but rather an attack on him. Had he not chosen Palin, his numbers would have never reached as high a point as they did and the drop off now would be worse. The only bounce his numbers saw the whole year was after her speech at the convention. McCain has done next to nothing to distinguish himself in this campaign.

    McCain’s biggest weakness is that he’s all style and no substance. That’s been exposed over the course of this campaign. His entire resume boils down to getting shot down in Vietnam, kissing up to reporters and making people say they approve this message at the end of commercials.

    And yes, I know, independents loved him. Big deal. Not enough to push him over the top. And the only time Republicans showed any enthusiasm for him was after the Palin pick.

    Reply to Ted Craig

    Comment by Ted Craig — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 8:32 am

  2. Well, for what it is worth, I have thought that the fundamentals were against the Reps since at least last summer and blogged on it at least as early as January before either candidate was selected (go here). And, I have discussed this on several occasions.

    The Palin pick simply made the situation much worse for McCain.

    And in regards to your own listing of McCain’s resume: he took the kissing up to reporters off the list a while back and independents don’t love him anymore. Indeed, if he had continued to have a friendly relationship with the press and had he tried to appeal to independents, he would’ve had an outside shot.

    Reply to Dr. Steven Taylor

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 8:57 am

  3. I can admit that I was wrong. There you go, I was wrong. If you are wondering where those commentators are who argued with you, this one is right here. I was wrong about the overall effect that Palin would have, and I can admit that.

    As you know, this business about predicting public reactions to this or that is a complicated one, and we all mess it up from time to time. Some of us can admit when we do, others can’t.

    I disagree with you about Palin’s interview performance. I think it was as good as or better than anyone else’s performance would have been had they been inserted into the public eye so quickly. It is no secret that Obama has been planning his candidacy for a long time, and Biden and McCain are both seasoned politicians. That they interview better than Palin is more of a reflection of experience at being interviewed than anything else, and for Palin, there is a lack of experience at being interviewed. I think that against that backdrop she actually has done better than a lot of people would, and probably if she had the benefit of all the coaching the other candidates had, she’d have presented much better.

    As for her being the cause of McCain’s woes - I think that she is not the primary reason why McCain is lagging in the polls. While people may have an unfavorable view of her, we can’t ignore the fact that McCain’s numbers dropped sharply and instantly when the economy became the focus of the national media; if the issue of the day was national security, probably he would still be leading in spite of people being a bit leary of Palin. I don’t think we can blame the Palin choice exclusively - or even mostly - for the current polling.

    As you know, politics is a game where if you risk nothing, you gain nothing. McCain was the underdog from the beginning. He had the misfortune of being a Republican and following Bush; Obama has enjoyed a nearly limitless pool of money to campaign with. McCain had to do something radical to have a shot at winning, and even if the decision backfired on him, I still think that Palin was a good pick; I think were it anyone else, McCain would never have pulled ahead of Obama at all, and his campaign would have been where it is now a month ago, and right now it would be even further down the toilet than it is, or at best, the same. The economy is driving McCain’s campaign into the ground, not his choice of running mate. I still say it was a tactical decision that changed the game, ultimately backfiring on McCain to some extent, but I think he was dead if he didn’t do it anyway so I can hardly fault him for it.

    Also, I think that Sarah Palin is not going away. If McCain loses this election, there is a very good chance that we will see a more interview-savvy Sarah Palin again on the national stage at some point in the future; whether that be four years, eight years, or more than that. She is extremely intelligent and charismatic and has great potential in the context of our political system. At this point she lacks experience living in the public eye, and that will have changed after this election is over with. McCain took Sarah Palin out of obscurity and put her in the public eye. With more experience in the public eye, she can easily become as formidable as a Republican as Obama has been as a Democrat. All she really needs to do is learn how to sit through an interview the way Obama did, and her charisma will carry her the rest of the way.

    On a side note - the fact that McCain had to prove he was not George Bush in order to have a chance is more fuel for the fire of my hatred of our party system. An individual should be judged by his or her positions on relevant issues; strengths; weaknesses; and other relevant matters. Being associated with Bush by simply being a member of his party handicapped McCain unfairly from the get-go. A simple DNA test would prove that McCain is not Bush, and Bush is not McCain; still we have all this talk about McCain being Bush.

    It’s really pretty insane when you think about it.

    Reply to Captain D

    Comment by Captain D — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 9:03 am

  4. Captain,

    Thanks for the admission, although to be honest I wasn’t actually thinking of you when I wrote the comment (I was more thinking about Ohio Granny and several others, most whom appear to have drifted away).

    I disagree with you about Palin’s interview performance. I think it was as good as or better than anyone else’s performance would have been had they been inserted into the public eye so quickly.

    Well, sure, but that’s part of the point: just “anyone” isn’t ready to be president (and to be ready to be veep, you have to be ready to be president). The measuring stick used relates to the job being sought, yes?

    On a side note - the fact that McCain had to prove he was not George Bush in order to have a chance is more fuel for the fire of my hatred of our party system. An individual should be judged by his or her positions on relevant issues; strengths; weaknesses; and other relevant matters. Being associated with Bush by simply being a member of his party handicapped McCain unfairly from the get-go

    But, in point of fact, McCain hasn’t done a good job at all of doing what you are arguing for: making a case for his own positions. He actually does agree with Bush on a lot of policies, and had to make a case for why he wouldn’t be a continuation of the Bush admin. He has not made that case. This is not as simplistic as guilt by partisan identification. McCain has run as someone who will basically do what Bush did, just do it better. That is a problem for him and is a deviation from past incarnations of McCain. This is not a function of the party system, but a function of McCain himself and his campaign.

    Reply to Dr. Steven Taylor

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 9:11 am

  5. Also -

    I don’t think that it is possible anymore for a republican to have a friendly relationship with “the press” if we look at “the press” in aggrogate.

    At least right now (this may have not always been the case, and may not always be in the future) the majority of the MSM is anti-conservative and anti-republican. Indeed, we have come to a place in this country where we know what the liberal news sources are (CNN) and what the conservative news sources are (FOX). Everyone knows this.

    I think for John McCain or any republican to have a “friendly relationship” with the press, the press would have to meet him half way. Friendship, after all, is a two-way street. If the press is openly hostile to McCain no matter what he does (and I would argue that much of “the press” has been) can we fault him for not making nice to them?

    I mean, if you reached out your hand to a stranger to shake in friendship, and he spit in your eye, would you feel obligated after that to continue holding out your hand? Moreover, would it do you any good, or benefit you in any way?

    I would argue that we are witnessing a deterioriation in the quality of news reporting as different media outlets have become unapologetically either conservative or liberal; the subsequent breakdown in communication between candidates, civic leaders, and the media is an inevitable consequence of that.

    Reply to Captain D

    Comment by Captain D — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 9:16 am

  6. McCain had a rather remarkable relationship with the press for quite some time.

    This is the man, after all, who once referred to the press as his “base.”

    Reply to Dr. Steven Taylor

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 9:24 am

  7. Yes, but that was before he became the republican presidential nominee. Becoming the republican presidential nominee scuttles your relationship with “the press” no matter your prior relationship with them - although I am becoming increasingly reluctant to lump “the press” into a unitary, homogenous body. Certainly some of “the press” are more friendly to McCain than others, and Obama also. Again, I think this points to a deterioration in the quality of news reporting in this country, as it has become acceptable for such reporting to have an ideological basis and operate on one pole or the other. The information products that we are presented with in the MSM are not high quality products.

    In re: Palin’s ability to be president, I still think she would do fine, either as a veep or a POTUS, at least as well as the other three (Obama, McCain, Biden - and it should be noted that I don’t have a really high opinion of any of them so it’s not saying much to say that she is on par with them). I don’t think her weakness is her leadership, her intelligence, her experience level, or her ability to govern; she has a proven track record on all of these things. She is a poor asset on the campaign trail because she lacks experience interviewing with the national media. McCain underestimated how quickly she could learn how to navigate the pitfalls and boobytraps that are set up along the trail. She stepped on landmines, fell in pungi pits, and hit every tripwire in her path.

    That’s not really a reflection of her potential as a leader. It’s a reflection of her inability to recognize these things and avoid them when she’s in a sit-down with Katie Couric or whoever. She hasn’t learned how to answer questions without answering them (an essential skill that McCain, Obama, Biden, and all other serious contenders must master) and is too up-front about her ideology. While it is refreshing to hear someone say what they really think and feel for a change, it is a big achilles heel in this arena, where you need to appear moderate even if you’re not. I would argue that Obama’s biggest strengh has been his ability to push his ideology - which is very far left in nature - onto the backburner. When asked about it his answers beat around the bush, and always come back to “the common man’s plight.” He is in control during interviews, and dominates the interviewer. Sarah Palin hasn’t learned how to do this.

    Again, I don’t think it’s a reflection on ability to govern. It’s a reflection on ability to campaign. These are not one and the same, as we have had in our history some very good campaigners who got themselves elected and turned out to be crappy leaders.

    Reply to Captain D

    Comment by Captain D — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 9:44 am

  8. My problem with Palin is not, per se, the ability (or inability, as the case may be) to answer questions. It is that she had not demonstrated one iota of serious thought about the issues that confront us and only seems to come across as competent when she is in a position to speak from a text or to use pre-rehearsed lines.

    In re: the press. McCain chose to create an antagonistic relationship with the press as a means of riling up the base. It worked: the base loves it. It has not, however, helped his overall goals.

    And the press was hardly friends to Gore or Kerry in the last two cycles.

    Reply to Dr. Steven Taylor

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 9:48 am

  9. I disagree. I think the press in aggrogate fauned over Kerry and Gore like tween girls at a boyband concert.

    Since our perceptions on the media are obviously divergent, it makes no sense for us to further discuss this subject.

    Reply to Captain D

    Comment by Captain D — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 10:00 am

  10. As you wish.

    Reply to Dr. Steven Taylor

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 10:09 am

  11. You can put a $5,000 suit on a village idiot, it does not change the fact that person is still a village idiot.

    Reply to TW

    Comment by TW — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 11:18 am

  12. I wonder where all those commenters are who criticized and argued with me when I predicted that Palin would harm the ticket from the get-go?

    When it became obvious that you suffered from some sort of Palin Derangement Syndrome, I stopped visiting for several weeks. I would stop by once in a while to see if you’d posted on something other than Palin, and when you started giving decent commentary I started visiting again.

    Reply to Max Lybbert

    Comment by Max Lybbert — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 11:36 am

  13. When it became obvious that you suffered from some sort of Palin Derangement Syndrome, I stopped visiting for several weeks.

    why does it have to “derangement”? Why can’t it just be that we disagree on the subject?

    And in all seriousness, and in without any anger or anything else, I would be curious as which of my posts you consider “deranged”.

    I will confess to perhaps disproportionately posting on the subject (although believe it or, I have avoided the subject at times). Still, one blogs where the mood strikes and has been in the news.

    Reply to Dr. Steven Taylor

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 11:50 am

  14. One way to get the numbers up for Palin - She needs to attend the gramma school.

    Reply to JoeNotThePlumber

    Comment by JoeNotThePlumber — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 12:03 pm

  15. I am pretty sure that John McCain was always the best presidential candidate the party could have nominated this year-even if it totally backed into choosing him (due to winner-take-all races in key states and the two-way split of the right-wing opposition to him).

    So the question is whether another choice of running mate would have made victory more likely than it has turned out to be at this point, two weeks out.

    I do not know, of course. But I doubt it. He had an impossible task: (1) attract the socially authoritarian mass base but risk turning off independents, or (2) cement his appeal to independents (his core strength and what made him the best candidate) while the social authoritarians sulked and carped and found other things to do with their volunteer time.

    I do not see any candidate for VP who could have attracted both sets of constituencies, because in this year, the GOP brand is just not appealing enough to be a broad majority-or even the narrow sub-plurality that would permit an undemocratic ‘win.’

    Seriously, would this ticket be ahead or even narrowly behind with Joe-whether Lieberman, Biden, or The Plumber-as the running mate?

    Reply to MSS

    Comment by MSS — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 2:32 pm

  16. MSS:

    True, a loss was always likely.

    I do think that Palin may ultimately contribute to the severity of the loss.

    Beyond that, one would like to think that future candidates might take Palin into account as a cautionary tale when picking a running mate.

    Reply to Dr. Steven Taylor

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 2:41 pm

  17. Oh, yes, I agree (and remember when you first said it) that Palin is a net negative. In other words, my position is that a better pick (i.e. one with broader approval) would not have made McCain more likely to win than Palin has, but less likely to lose “independent” voters so decisively.

    On your cautionary tale, I will just say, may it be so.

    Reply to MSS

    Comment by MSS — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 5:21 pm

  18. One can dream.

    Reply to Dr. Steven Taylor

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 5:26 pm

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