The Obama campaign smells of defeat

My normal style on this blog is to write think pieces. I post when I have an idea I need to grapple with; the process of writing and researching helps me organize and sharpen my thinking. Sometimes, the process changes my mind about an issue.

This once, I’m posting to report a gut feeling I’ve been getting more and more strongly in the last two weeks. It started with Barack Obama’s VP choice of Joe Biden, got stronger when McCain tapped Sarah Palin, and has become overwhelming in the last two days. My feeling is this: Barack Obama is toast. He’s done, stick a fork in him. It’s not that I think the McCain/Palin ticket is going to win, it’s that I feel strongly that the Obama/Biden ticket is going to lose.

Note: This is not partisan cheering I’m doing. I’m not a McCain fan: I’ve never forgiven him for the the McCain-Feingold “campaign finance reform” bill, which I consider the most atrocious rape-job on the First Amendment in my lifetime. And I agree with Matt Welch’s portrait of an authoritarian maverick; McCain’s is in many ways a frighteningly authoritarian personality. I have, at best, very mixed feelings about seeing him in the White House.

No, what I’m reacting to is a gut sense that the wheels are coming off the Obama bandwagon and it’s headed for a big, ugly crackup. I would no longer be surprised if Obama melted down in a serious way during the debates, though I don’t think keeping his cool will save him from being trounced. I don’t even think the election’s going to be close anymore.

Why? Lots of things. Poll numbers. Sarah Palin. The hysterically vituperative reaction to Sarah Palin from the left and the media (which I think is a gift beyond price to the Republicans). The way Obama himself seems to be fraying around the edges, losing his cool, gaffe frequency increasing. Democratic supporters dissing him in Duryea. I smell desperation and failure; I see the Democratic party, yet again, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

OK, I’ve said it on the record. When the votes are counted, I’ll take the kudos or the lumps for it.

UPDATE: Democrats’ polling league in a generic contest has collapsed. Control of Congress is in play. Wow. Just wow. Considering how hard the Republicans have been fucking up and alienating their base, this is astonishing. EPIC FAIL.

78 thoughts on “The Obama campaign smells of defeat

  1. One more indicator: intrade.com. As past elections showed, it’s better than polls when it comes to predicting who will be the next president. Obama was ahead for a long time but after the conventions he loses steadily. I wish I had some extra money to buy McCain shares while they are still at 52 points.

  2. I don’t think the wheels are coming off, although I do think the Obama camp was thrown off-stride by the selection of Sarah Palin. They do still have time to recover.

    The Republican campaign is to defeat Obama, at all costs. The Obama campaign is to change the course of American politics. Sadly, they aren’t playing the same game, and yes, unless Obama can change his focus to that of Defeating McCain, he’s toast.

  3. I believe thought is a powerful thing. Powerful enough to change the universe in subtle and (currently) unknown ways. The more brains thinking a given thought, the more likely the outcome will be shifted to reflect it. If your opposition to McCain winning the presidency is as strong as it appears, perhaps you should consider holding back your “gut feelings” until after the results? Or write about them now, but release the post later (like you did with the 9/11 piece).

    If scientific evidence proved thought had the power to affect the outcome of major events, free speech would have a whole new meaning. This election is so important to the future of the United States that I feel compelled to suggest we at least err on the side of caution. The small amount of research into the power of mind over matter has reveled how little we know on the topic.

    I enjoy reading your writing. Thank you for all your contributions!

  4. I don’t quite think that this presidential campaign is like one of those ugly SuperBowls that is over at halftime.
    BHO would not have made it as far as he did without some mettle.
    The campaign is as close to a laboratory setting as things get, given history’s lack of support for scientific experiments.
    So let’s see if BHO can rise to the occasion, or bring his whole party crashing down.

  5. A lot can happen in 8 weeks. Yes, the Obama camp seems desperate – but things can change in an instant. The fat lady ain’t even squeezing into her corset yet.

  6. The perception in the late spring was that Obama would run away from McCain, certainly by Labor Day. Despite the media hype, McCain managed to hang on through the summer and remained much closer in the polls than most predicted. Then, BANG…he did the unpredictable thing and selected an unknown Governor as his VP running mate who happened to be a strong woman in the Western conservative mold. I don’t think Obama and his Eastern elitists (I know, I know…he’s from Chicago, but he still has the Eastern elitist look about him) have a clue as to the difference between Western and Eastern conservatives. So, they are fumbling around and responding in desparate ways. Here’s a clue…Western conservatives are closer to being populists than Easterners realize. The Obama campaign is desparate. Krauthammer was right last March when he said Obama had peaked. What we’re seeing is a long, slow slide into defeat.

  7. The reason Obama is struggling is because a fighter pilot got inside his OODA loop. It’s clear that McCain has taken the initiative and is planning his next move and his response to the probable countermoves, instead of the other way around.

    Obama ate Clinton up because she got cocky and didn’t hang onto this initiative when she assumed she had won before she started fighting. Now he’s on the other side of the same game.

    If some sort of narrative can come out of the early media interviews with Palin going into the debates, they may take it back, but that may even be part of the plan. Obama is debating McCain, not Palin… and Biden comes off as a blow-hard bully and that is going to make for a more interesting debate than McCain’s.

    In the meantime, a (former) Joyce Foundation board member and the author of the Assault Weapons “Ban” are not going to get my votes, no matter what they do.

  8. > BHO would not have made it as far as he did without some mettle.

    Really? When?

    Obama beat Clinton when she didn’t show up. That’s not mettle.

    When she did show up, she consistently beat him. When that happened, he didn’t demonstrate any mettle; he coasted and whined.

    Maybe it was mettle to get his first Repub Sen opponent to drop out by smearing him about his divorce?

    The only mettle that Obama has shown was in his first successful IL campaign, where he got his primary opponents thrown off the ballot for using dead people as nominees. Who knew that it was acceptable for dead people to vote but not nominate candidates?

  9. Why not put some money on it if your so sure? Sell Obama on intrade.com. He’s currently at 47.

  10. My interpretation: Look at Obama’s history. His political career has been born, bred, raised, and lived solely in Leftist-Land. (I do not mean that as a pejorative term here, but a descriptive one.) He knows how to play the Leftist anthems and get Leftists moving. He knows how to play the guilt card, how to play the Evil Conservatives Are Coming to Get You card, he knows how to leverage White Guilt (or, more accurately, Liberal Guilt) to get votes, he knows how they think and how to make them vote for him.

    These are, in the abstract, legitimately valuable skills in the environment he has been living in.

    However, the national scale is no longer the liberal hothouse, and I think he simply has no clue how to deal with people who don’t live there, a position supported by the obvious facts. The residents of the liberal hothouse, Obama included, have largely been flummoxed by their inability to tar Palin, and even more surprised by the blowback on it. Unless he gets some advisers who don’t don’t come from there, he’s gonna be toast.

    Basically, forget the other experience arguments. What matters here is that Obama has no national-scale experience, and McCain has tons of it. (Palin hasn’t either, but she’s not at the top of the ticket.)

    Not all liberals can survive only in the liberal hothouse. The name that leaps to mind is of course Clinton, who would, if nothing else, draw on a team with years of experience being a liberal on the national scale, in a relatively hostile environment. Almost every way in which Obama is faltering is pointing to Hillary, and not in the VP slot either — the excitement of women at seeing a woman in the ticket, the ability to handle national-scale environments, the ability to handle stress from the press (even with a press fully in the tank for him he’s still showing signs of being stressed, IMHO), everything. The Democrat nomination process has failed and they are going to pay the price, even if Obama manages to win in the end.

    Obama just doesn’t know how to politically succeed in a place where getting votes isn’t just a matter of hitting the well-known liberal knee-jerk reflexes. He could probably learn, but not in this environment and not in the next two months.

  11. Doesn’t he have experienced advisors, Jeremy? I mean there is a huge staff behind both candidates, propelling them, isn’t there? One would think it takes only one Hollywood guy who knows how to make movies that sell in the millions to tell him what to say, wouldn’t it?

  12. No, Roxanne, Obama’s not out to change the course of American politics. He’s out to become president, just like McCain.

    The sooner Obama’s supporters lose their idealistic glow over him, the better off they will be after his eventual defeat.

  13. Kim du Toit has said that he thinks Obama will pick up seven states, max, in the general election. I won’t go quite that far; I say he could manage ten or fifteen. But he’ll still lose.

    If the GOP had nominated someone more palatable than McCain, though, we’d be looking at a blowout of Reaganesque proportions.

  14. I really wish I could be sanguine as the other folks here…but while I’m not fond of McCain either, Obama terrifies me, and an Obama presidency would be disastrous. Those of us who oppose him need to remain vigilant until his defeat is a reality.

  15. The problem is that the Democrats still subscribe to the modernist grand narrative of elections being about “issues.” The Republicans have figured out, for better or for worse, that elections these days are decided on “gut-level feelings.”

  16. Since early August or earlier I’ve been framing the election in the same way, it’s a race to see who is better at losing the election.

    This happened no later than when McCain disastrously reverted to type (Senator) and denied his “I won’t raise your taxes” message multiple times by saying in the context of Social Security and payroll taxes that “everything’s on the table”.

    See this end of July article by Daniel Henninger “Is John McCain Stupid?” for good coverage of that and other related actions, it’s worth reading in full, especially the closing point about why sitting Senators so seldom make it into the White House (only Harding and JFK to date):

    http://tinyurl.com/5vo5st

    Then McCain got his act together, as Obama’s accumulating mistakes started to catch up with him (e.g. Berlin, eschewing public financing), capped by the choice of Biden. That’s when I was sure Obama was winning this race to lose, and when his campaign did the coordinated lipstick thing on Tuesday I too decided that it was probably all over.

    Sure, mccain-PALIN might make *enough* mistakes to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but right now Obama is losing and I think he knows it. And “defeat begins in the mind”.

  17. David Delony: is it that “issues” are unimportant, or more that “gut-level feelings” can trump them?

    To take a reductionist look, isn’t your gut-level feeling about who’s the least dishonest pretty important in evaluating “the issues”, where are after all on the surface what each politician is saying? (At the moment.)

    Or to take an issue near and dear to esr, Josh Poulson and myself: do we believe Obama and Biden’s current words on gun control at face value, or look behind that to their long records of actions in this area? (McCain is easy, he’s a gun grabber in actions and words (although not to the degree of Obama and Biden (that would be hard)), Palin appears to be equally consistent here in the opposite direction, although gun control is so unpopular in Alaska that we don’t have much of a record besides the police chief she fired as Mayor as far as I know.)

  18. >Is it that “issues” are unimportant, or more that “gut-level feelings” can trump them?

    I would like to see more people deciding on issues rather than letting their amygdalas drive them.

  19. >The problem is that the Democrats still subscribe to the modernist grand narrative of elections being about “issues.” The Republicans have figured out, for better or for worse, that elections these days are decided on “gut-level feelings

    Don’t buy this, David. It’s one of the fairy stories urban liberals tell themselves to express and reinforce their feeling of superiority over the Republican base, and the condescension it encourages is one of the major reasons the Obama campaign is in deep shit.

    You and I don’t live in Kansas (read: the red-state middle of the U.S.). Yeah, they’re not as bright on average as we are, nor as educated. They aren’t intellectuals; they aren’t geeks. Get over it. Their issues are every bit as real to them, and every bit as grounded in a mixture of reasoning and emotion, as ours are to us.

  20. >Why not put some money on it if your so sure? Sell Obama on intrade.com. He’s currently at 47.

    Because I don’t bet on anything that’s this close to a pure gut feeling. If I develop a generative theory in which I have intellectual confidence, I very well might.

  21. >You and I don’t live in Kansas (read: the red-state middle of the U.S.). Yeah, they’re not as bright on average as we are, nor as educated.

    I’ve got nothing against Kansans. I only meant that the Obama campaign would have to play the same “gut-level emotions” game that the Repiblicans have played post 9/11.

  22. >I’ve got nothing against Kansans. I only meant that the Obama campaign would have to play the same “gut-level emotions” game that the Republicans have played post 9/11.

    And I’m telling you that I think (a) the distinction you think you’re seeing between gut and head is fallacious, and (b) you’re repeating one of the self-destructive myths Democrats fall prey to.

    What, you think the Obama campaign’s constant invocation of “hope”, “change”, and “unity” doesn’t constitute a gut-level emotionalistic appeal? Here’s a rule of politics for you: humans will tend to call their own prejudices “issues” and the other guy’s prejudices “emotional fixations”. 99% of the time the distinction is spurious.

  23. David Delony: “I would like to see more people deciding on issues rather than letting their amygdalas drive them.”

    To echo esr, but with the addition that I do (almost) live in Kansas (actually in Missouri: born, raised and now have retired to my totally red state home town less than a dozen miles from the border) but am also an intellectual and a geek:

    You’d evidently be surprised that “normal” “average” people here are entirely capable of “deciding on issues”, and as esr says, evidently in much the same way as liberals (you certainly can’t say that the overall liberal response to Palin is reasoned; I’d bet a PET scan would show very active amygdalae :-).

    The critical error is as esr noted: we have our “own” issues. At base, they’re probably pretty much the same ones, we just weight them differently and of course have different positions on a lot of them.

    To return to gun control, obviously there are differences of opinion here, but more importantly for national elections is that the pro-gun side weighs it MUCH more heavily. There are from 7 to 10 million voters for whom it’s the #1 issue (it *is* a very good touchstone), and that e.g. resulted in the Democrats losing the Congress in 1994 and Gore the Presidency in 2000.

    Pity that Obama has only one pro-gun vote in his record, that Biden boasts that “I am the guy who originally wrote the assault weapons ban that became law…” and that McCain significantly covered his vulnerabilities here (http://gunowners.org/mccaintb.htm) with Palin. E.g. we know his administration will be anti-gun (just less so that Obama’s), but now that he’s elevated Palin to the national stage she stands a good chance of becoming a future president.

  24. I still contend that both parties realize that they’re electing a scapegoat in chief for this cycle and the next.

    McCain, up until the convention, was acting as if his end goal was being the nominee, not being in the White House.

    Obama was actually running for the job. Now it’s almost as if his handlers have realized that the right move for this election is to put on a good show and be the party out of power, so that when the piles of blame they can say it’s not their fault.

    Probably too cynical.

  25. “Kim du Toit has said that he thinks Obama will pick up seven states, max, in the general election.”

    Ah, so McCain wins 50 :-)

  26. >I still contend that both parties realize that they’re electing a scapegoat in chief for this cycle and the next.

    For our other seminar participants, Ken thinks the entitlements crash is coming some time in the next two terms and that whichever party is in control of the White House is going to be left holding the bag. I think he may well be right about the first part, but disagree about the second.

    By “the entitlements crash”, we both mean the point at which the ballooning costs of Social Security, Medicare, and other income-transfer programs outstrip the ability of the U.S. to either raise taxes or push the problem into the future by buying debt. When we hit that wall, things are going to get deeply ugly, and the retirement of the baby-boom bulge looks pretty likely to slam us right into it sometime during the next eight years. (And, no, the cost of the Iraq war is irrelevant; it’s statistical noise compared to the dollar volumes and long-term trends Ken and I are talking about.)

    Where I disagree with him is in his belief that whichever party happens to be running things then will catch the blame, and both parties know it. The situation is not that symmetrical. I think the Republicans believe, rightly or wrongly, that they’ll be able to push the blame on the Democrats. I have a separate (and less relevant) belief that they are probably right about that.

    Therefore, the Democrats might be playing to lose the 2008 election, but the Republicans shouldn’t be. In fact, I don’t think the Democrats are playing to lose either; their world-view requires them to believe that the laws of economics bow when a politician says “boo!” and that some sort of political diktat can prevent the crash from ever happening. Poor Democrats; they’ve got a rude shock coming.

    One further note: My only reason for skepticism about Ken’s estimate of the timing is that I think the next two administrations might well come up with some flimflam that pushes the crash out past 2016. But I hope that Ken is right and I am wrong, and the crash happens sooner rather than later. Because the longer it’s put off, the larger the prompt and long-term damage is going to be.

  27. Milhouse Says:

    September 12th, 2008 at 2:10 pm
    “Kim du Toit has said that he thinks Obama will pick up seven states, max, in the general election.”

    Ah, so McCain wins 50 :-)

    ************

    Yes, including New Pennsylvania.

  28. >Yes, including New Pennsylvania.

    Here in Old Pennsylvania, word is the Obama campaign is focusing hard on trying to win this state – to the extent that they’ve abandoned trying to make the non-coastal West competitive. In terms of gaming the electoral college this makes sense; PA really is a critical swing state. But I think they’re going to fail. The demographics and cultural history of this state are solidly against them, it’s full of aging blue-collar white people who view Obama as an effete liberal snob with a craving to confiscate their guns.

  29. “New Pennsylvania”? That wouldn’t be an Ed Rendell reference, would it? (Not being snarky, actually inquiring. Because I don’t live in PA, and I’d never heard of Rendell’s plan until I just googled it.)

  30. For the last time, I do not think people in the Midwest are all corn-fed hicks! This is the same region that produced Devo, Mystery Science Theater, and the Church of the Subgenius, remember?

  31. One minor correction:

    I think we’re going to see a ‘housing driven recovery’ after this election that’s going to last into 1st or 2nd Q of ’09. Then we’re going to see interventions to keep banks from failing, followed by letting banks fail, with a horrid fiscal period around the middle of 2010.

    Right now, we’ve got an unsustainable situation where businesses can make horrid decisions, and walk away from them in certain sectors because the government won’t allow them to fail. At some point, that’s going to snap. My ‘bet’ is summer of ’10.

    The dinosaur killer on the economy is the 53 trillion dollars of accumulated debt on Social Security/Medicaid, which starts coming due around 2013, when revenues for the program are less than its obligations, and all those “IOUs” that Congress has been writing against the trust fund start coming due.

    The only ‘easy’ solution is going to be to cry inflation and unleash the presses of the Treasury. Which, since they stopped reporting various figures of merit (like M3) they’ll be able to hide for a bit.

    So, fiscal advice:

    The time to take on secured debts is going to sometime after the election bounce and before the collapse of the banks; now isn’t a bad time, to be honest. The value of the loan is going to be pressured down to zero by inflation, and there’s a small chance that the issuer of the paper is going to get gobbled and the loan written off as not being worth the hassle of collecting when the consolidation comes.

    If you’re looking for a place to make a reasonably stable buck right now, buy securities denominated in Canadian dollars and Euros, but don’t expect there to be liquidity. Think of this as investing to build your down payment.

    If you can look someone who’s having financial troubles in the eye with unflinching resolve, you can make some decent deals buying foreclosure risk real estate now.

    The trick on this is that no matter what the economy, it’s always possible to make a fortune; you just have to not let your assumption sets or prior experience blind you to opportunities. (Fortunes were made in Wiemar Germany, fortunes that persisted through the ’90s, by reading inflation for what it was, getting loans and converting the loaned money into capital assets before it depreciated to nothing. I don’t think we’re going to get to a Wiemar stage with the entitlements wall. But it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility.)

    Oh – and if you want to know what the sound of a bullet whipping by your ear is for an economy, the recent /broaching/ of the subject of certain bond issues being dropped from AAA to AA was one. That…discuss…caused most of the crises we’re seeing at Lehmann now, and will likely fold WaMu as a bank…

    To paraphrase Alec Guinness…

    “No…I sensed the clenching of a hundred thousand sphincters on K-street, all in unison.”

  32. I think the worst case scenario will be averted when the decision is made to cut benefits. One of the unspoken secrets is that the 30-and-under generation is fairly confident this is going to happen anyhow, which will help it happen.

  33. >One of the unspoken secrets is that the 30-and-under generation is fairly confident this is going to happen anyhow, which will help it happen.

    That’s true. I was about to note this in a post on the topic when your comment appeared.

  34. Try 45 and under….nobody I went to high school with expected to see any benefits from Social Security. Some of that was just being teenagers with an event horizon dictated by gas money and chasing girls.

    Most of it was prescience.

  35. I was being conservative; I’m just about to turn 30 so I felt I could speak for that group, with some degree of experience in both the “red” and “blue” areas I’ve lived in. But I would be totally unsurprised it goes much higher than that.

    The higher it goes, the more likely that outcome is.

  36. 30-and-under nothing. I’ve always treated Social Security as a pure tax, and do not believe I’ll ever see a penny of it – and I’m 48.

  37. Well, remember that I’m not talking about “politically-informed people likely to be hanging out at ESR’s site”… I’m talking everybody of a certain age. Do all your 48-year-old friends feel the same way?

  38. Me? I want the following resolution passed:

    1) No elected official or member of a union covering Federal employers may ever have a retirement program other than Social Security.

    2) While in office, and for a decade after leaving office, any elected official’s tax rate on income beyond the current salary for a member of Congress is 100%. Yes, they’ll cheat, but this makes it harder.

    3) All children of any elected federal official, or member of a union covering Federal empoyees under the age of 18 must attend the Metro DC public school system. Ditto the children of any educators in the DC metro area. When Metro DC school district is a beacon of education that all the world admires, then we’ll consider taking their suggestions for how to run schools in a state or county level.)

    (One of the most damning statistics I’ve ever read was that 82% of the teachers in the Greater Milwaukee School District sent their own children to private schools.)

  39. > 2) While in office, and for a decade after leaving office, any elected official’s tax rate on income beyond the current salary for a member of Congress is 100%. Yes, they’ll cheat, but this makes it harder.

    I don’t understand the point of this one. What does it accomplish besides encouraging congress to raise its own pay?

  40. Obama is polling fewer electoral votes than Kerry did at this time by 5. Both Ohio and Florida, state with a “colorful” history in the previous two elections, are polling for McCain higher than expected.

    McCain is now higher in the EV poll count.

    Disclaimer: unlike a commenter in another thread, a poll is not “scientific.” People self-select. Colorado and, as ESR mention, Pennsylvania are wobbling. If ESR is right, and I have no reason to doubt him, Colorado will likely fall also. Michigan and Washington are also wobbling.

  41. Sorry about the grammer slips in the previous post, I should quit sucking on wheel weights.

    ESR? Do you think it would be a good or bad idea for the McCain campaign to start pointing out that Biden was the father of the 1994 cosmetically incorrect gun ban? That ban, per Clinton, cost the Dems votes. The problem is people have been brainwashed into thinking those guns are more dangerous than, say, an M1 Garand – patent nonsense of course. Thoughts? Something along the lines of referring to “Gunban Joe Biden” in agitprop?

  42. >One of the unspoken secrets is that the 30-and-under generation is fairly confident this is going to happen anyhow, which will help it happen.

    I can’t speak for anyone else of my generation, but I’ve been aware of the pending Social Security insolvency for quite a while. It’s a legal pyramid scheme that makes Amway look respectable. Most of the benefits being drawn come not from the amounts that have been “withheld” from the paychecks of current beneficiaries, but instead are taken from people currently paying into the system.

  43. >ESR? Do you think it would be a good or bad idea for the McCain campaign to start pointing out that Biden was the father of the 1994 cosmetically incorrect gun ban?

    If they’re not already pointing it out in rural areas and the West — actually, everywhere outside the coastal and Great Lakes metroplexes – they’re incompetent. It’s a sure vote-killer.

  44. I gotta say I find it really disheartening to see the Democrat campaign failing so miserably when they really should have a slam dunk on their hands. How can you have 8 years with an unpopular war, an economy wracked with major problems and a Republican president with abysmal popularity numbers and somehow another Republican is the answer. Whats worse, people seem to genuinely be cheering that a very old man, with a history of cancer has chosen a “hockey mom” as the next in line should he be unable to fulfill his duties… Is it really possible that the democrats are going to lose because some people think a cancer survivor and a hockey mom are more personable and likable? Can it really be that all those people who want to vote for McCain/Palin actually think that someone “just like them” should be president?

  45. Daniel Franke wrote:

    > 2) While in office, and for a decade after leaving office, any elected official’s tax rate on income beyond the current salary for a member of Congress is 100%. Yes, they’ll cheat, but this makes it harder.

    I don’t understand the point of this one. What does it accomplish besides encouraging congress to raise its own pay?

    The amount of income that congresscritters and executive office staffers make from supernumerary sources is staggering, mostly because they can be paid (legitimately) to skew things in the favor of the entity doing the paying. The usual purpose of this payment system is to foster laws in favor of whomever is buying the time, not necessarily laws in the public interest.

    If someone’s going to be pulling down 70 million a year (as Senator Clinton does) while serving in an office of the public trust, I want to be certain that she’s doing it because she HONESTLY feels that it’s the right thing for the country. Not because it feathers her nest.

  46. >How can you have 8 years with an unpopular war, an economy wracked with major problems and a Republican president with abysmal popularity numbers and somehow another Republican is the answer

    Try these hypotheses on for size:

    1) The war has never been as unpopular as the media and the left wanted it to be. It counted against the Republicans only as long as the media could maintain the fiction that we were losing.

    2) The economy is not “wracked with problems”; you are so used to wealth and tranquility that you lack perspective. Compared to the days of stagflation and the first oil shock I remember from the 1970s, our current troubles are a cakewalk. Compared to the Great Depression of my parents’ time they are nothing.

    3) When you contemplate what you think George Bush’s “abysmal” popularity numbers might mean, reflect that while they bottomed out in the 30s, the cotrresponding number for the Democratic-controlled congress is in single digits.

  47. Eric: I think a big reason for the unpopularity of Congress is because they’ve conspicuously failed to exert any useful checks on the Bush administration, or to hold Bush to account for his various crimes. A Democratic administration wouldn’t have this problem.

    Ken: private health insurance is (apparently) illegal in 6/10 Canadian provinces for just this reason.

  48. And to finish:

    >a very old man

    By today’s standards he’s not “very old”. Too many of us know people that age who are quite spry and still have it mentally—and how many of *us* could hike the Grand Canyon like he recently did with his son?

    Note that he’s passed his 60s, which takes out a lot of people. After that, one’s life expectancy goes UP.

    >with a history of cancer

    *Skin* cancer. Yes, it’s of the worst sort, but no one who knows anything about skin cancer would call him “a cancer survivor”. As long as you catch it fairly early and scrape it off before it goes metastic it’s no big deal; if they’d not caught it before then he’d probably already be dead. After it was caught the first time, you can be absolutely sure his doctor(s) examine him periodically.

    And anyway, the idea that he won’t be able to finish his first term for whatever reason and that Palin (having gotten plenty of experience on the national and international stage by then) will replace him is not a bug, it’s a feature!

  49. Umm, folks, SS isn’t the biggest entitlement problem, Medicare is.

  50. > Is it really possible that the democrats are going to lose because some people think a cancer survivor and a hockey mom are more personable and likable?

    What is it that Obama/Biden have DONE that is better than McCain/Palin. (The “issues” folk never seem to get around to this one.)

    Obama’s “community organizer” days were a disaster – that’s why he quit and why he never talks about the results, just the duration. It’s also why Team Obama goes absolutely apeshit when anyone tries to look at the records.

    He sat in a church for 20 years and didn’t listen to the sermons, even though he quoted them in his TWO autobiographies.

    During his time in the IL senate, he voted present, except when he thought that killing viable babies outside the womb was a good idea.

    As Obama himself said about first term senators, they get thrown bones and try to get added as sponsors of decent legislation that predates their tenure. He’s did that before he took off to campaign for the presidency.

    His campaign against Sen. Clinton had a tremendous “terrain” advantage. The media was somewhat tired of her and she was complacent. If you want to argue that he ran a great campaign, you get to account for the fact that he lost when she showed up, especially late in the campaign.

    Obama’s campaign is essentially “I’m cool and you can be cool by voting for me.” We’re now finding that his cool is fairly fragile. That turns him from the guy who everyone wanted to be friends with and be around into, well, someone much less attractive/likeable. We all know someone like that and he’s doing what they do when things go wrong – he’s demanding that we like him.

    McCain isn’t cool. He’s boring old white guy. You have to be a serious wonk to have any passion about him, and serious wonks are a small fraction of the population.

  51. > to hold Bush to account for his various crimes. A Democratic administration wouldn’t have this problem.

    The day that Palin was nominated, Biden said that a new democratic adminstration should have show trials.

    Is this what you had in mind?

    I note that the Dem Congress has been running investigations for two years. Are they incompetent?

  52. The hysterically vituperative reaction to Sarah Palin from the left and the media (which I think is a gift beyond price to the Republicans).

    Sarah Palin is a political laughingstock. If you want to play the identity-politics game with women voters, expect to be called on it.

  53. Don’t discount the “Wilder Effect”. If Obama is polling better than 5-10% in wavering states (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan), he’ll probably lose. If the MSM calls any of those states–including Florida for Obama based on exit polling, don’t believe it until the actual returns come in. This election will be close, maybe closer than 2000 when a couple hundred votes in Florida decided it. But it won’t be just Florida.

  54. “Sarah Palin is a political laughingstock.”

    Presumably because of her faking her pregnancy?

    Oh, wait, that didn’t happen?

    But because you threw filth at her, and she didn’t kill you, she’s a laughingstock.

    Beware the power of the pardon when (not if) she becomes President.

  55. Ken, you live in a very interesting universe. I was under the impression that the insanity there was limited to vice presidential candidates sending their husbands cross-country to beat up people who criticize them on the internet, and gangs hanging around inside polling places to assault female voters if they vote Republican. But apparently, also, sitting presidents declare fatwahs against their critics and use their pardon to immunize the people who carry them out.

    I think you’re a deliberate troll. Perhaps you think that ESR or some of his readers hold some sort of sympathy with your rhetoric, and you’re trying to bait them into showing it? Don’t hold your breath.

  56. I also think Obama is toast. And at least partly for a reason you left out.

    Because if he wins, it will be nearly impossible for Hillary to get the nomination in 2012.

    Oh yeah, and McCain is a student of the OODA Loop. The Palin pick clinches that for certain.

  57. “Sarah Palin is a political laughingstock. If you want to play the identity-politics game with women voters, expect to be called on it”

    Wrong. Gov. Palin’s place on the GOP ticket has much more to do with shoring up and exciting the Republican base than it does with gender identity politics. Not saying her gender had nothing to do with it–does add the wow/excitement factor. In a way that none of the obvious contenders could. McCain has appeal to moderate/centrist voters–he had to close the sale with his own party. Sarah Palin does that for him.

  58. >Sarah Palin is a political laughingstock.

    Heh. Keep dreaming. Polling suggests strongly she’s causing a shift among female and independent voters that I find surprisingly large even though I’m rather impressed with her. I hope that bubble universe you live in is real comfortable, because I think you are in for a rude, nasty shock come November when the electoral impact of the Palin pick becomes undeniable.

    See also One Day on an Alaskan Cliffside.

  59. >Perhaps you think that ESR or some of his readers hold some sort of sympathy with your rhetoric, and you’re trying to bait them into showing it?

    I have some sympathy for his anger at the Left and the press; they have behaved even more like stupid, arrogant shitheads than usual where Palin is concerned. But I am not impressed or amused by crude conservative chest-banging, and especially not by implicit threats. Ignore him; he hasn’t yet reached the level of obnoxiousness where I’m even thinking about booting him, and if he has any sense of wisdom or restraint at all he probably won’t.

  60. > If you want to play the identity-politics game with women voters, expect to be called on it.

    Ooh, we’re going to be “called on it”.

    Who talks like that? Will we “rue the day”?

    “Identity politics” wasn’t a bad thing when Dems used it, but let the Repubs nominate a woman or a minority, and the Dems are looking for a analog to “Uncle Tom”.

    Palin wasn’t nominated on the “she’s a woman, you’re a woman or think that women are victimized, so vote for her” politics that Dems play, aka “identity politics”. Dems think that she is, hence the “she’s not a real woman” attacks.

    They’re wrong – she’s an attack on that theory.

    By picking Palin, McCain has baited Dems into attacking their supposed principles. And, he’s set up at least a couple more things that should make a big difference.

    He may still lose because everything was set up in the Dems favor this year, but ….

  61. > Do all your 48-year-old friends feel the same way?

    I do, and I’m 48. I have never expected that I will receive a dime of Social Security benefits, and I see no reason to think otherwise now.

  62. > Is it really possible that the democrats are going to lose because some people think a cancer survivor and a hockey mom are more personable and likable?

    No. But it’s possible that the Democrats are going to lose because people think a cancer survivor and a hockey mom are preferable to a Chicago machine politician with NO executive experience, damn little experience of ANY sort, and a history of hanging out with Marxist bombers and Black Liberation Theology preachers. I loathe Hillary Clinton, but I would vote for her in a heartbeat if it kept Obama out of the Oval Office.

    McCain and Palin don’t have to be the best possible candidates for their respective offices. They just have to be better than their opposition, and in this particular election cycle, that sets the bar very low indeed.

  63. To all the Obama supporters bemoaning how the evil rethuglicans are smearing The One who is trying to run such a high minded campaign, an observation.

    This is happening because your guy is so obviously wrong for America. Obama is the Mysterious Stranger. We really know nothing about him. Was his mother really a Communist? Were the grandparents who raised him Communists? Was his adolescent mentor, Davis, a Communist? What really are the facts about his schooling in Indonesia? How was his tuition to Punahoe paid? In small, unmarked bills? What courses, grades did he take at Columbia? Did he have courses with Edward Said? When did he meet Bill Ayers? Ayers was getting his Master’s at a college near Columbia contemporaneous with Obama’s attendance there. What about the time after graduation while Ayers was getting his PhD? How much contact? How did the financing work for Obama’s first community organizing job? Where did the money come from? Where was Bill Ayers while the community organizing was going on? When did Tony Rezko enter the picture? Talk about the Law school admission; why did a Saudi prince push his admittance? How did he get selected for Chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge? What grants were handed out to whom? How could this faultless manager spend around $200,000,000 with no results to show for it? As a state senator, how much money did he get Rezko for slum refurbishment? What were the results? Can you provide a list of Obama’s earmarks and the results therefrom? How did his Senatorial opponent’s divorce records get leaked? What is Michelle’s employment history? Did Obama really get earmarks that went to her salary? What is the straight skinny on his house purchase? Who financed the mortgage? What is the interest rate? What is Obama’s connection to ACORN? Is it true he tried to hide almost $1,000,000 in slush fund payments to them? Is it true that ACORN has been convicted multiple times of voter fraud? How far back does it go? What is his connection to the Gameliel Foundation? Who are they? For how long? Why choose to launch your political career in the parlor of Ayers and Dohrn? How can somebody sit in a pew for 20 years and not know what’s going on? That sounds like an excuse out of Nuremberg. Obama said he hasn’t seen Ayers in 18 months. Has he communicated in any other way, e-mail, telephone, carrier pigeon? Will he implement Ayers education agenda if elected? Sounds like it to me. Who speaks for Obama? Where are his friends from college, from the CAC, from the IL legislature, who will stand up and say “this is a great guy and this is what he did for me”? Where are representatives of those communities he organized? I’ve seen mostly party hacks and paid surrogates reciting boiler plate. The media has shed little light on any of these questions. Barack, less. Some dribs and drabs are starting to leak into the blogosphere but not enough. All I know for sure is that he is the first (half) black man nominated for President of the United States and, if I don’t vote for him, I’m an automatic racist.

    Looks to me lf you are a Communist/Socialist, someone who begs for grants and earmark funding, dependent on government and business largesse, someone who has large grievances against America and hates America for a variety of reasons, someone suffering from liberal guilt that we haven’t done enough, someone who thinks America has too much and we should tax ourselves heavily to fund the UN, someone who thinks America should don sackcloth and ashes to kill our economy and implement Kyoto, someone who thinks our military secrets make other nations fearful and we should give them away, someone whose envy of success overwhelms any effort to try, someone who thinks Euro stagnation or Islamic Sharia are the answers, then, I predict, you will vote for Obama, the Change that is Hope. I predict that you will find yourselves well short of 50% of the voters and 269 electoral votes.

    That’s why your guy is running out of airspeed and altitude. He is the Mysterious Stranger, not The One who will stop the storm surge and heal the planet.

    If you can block the answers to most of the questions until after the election, your guy may squeak through with an assist from ACORN and their canny frauds. If answers start coming out before, Obama is toast. My advice to you is duck and cover.

    BTW, McCain will be slavering to reach across the aisle and Democratic majorities should be able to roll him for about anything they want. This is a real fear on the Republican side, but at least it won’t be the abject surrender advocated by the most liberal Senator currently in office whose lock step voting record (97%) suggests an inability to compromise.

  64. What I would like to know is, if Barack Obama was an ‘A’ student at Harvard Law and editor of the law review, why haven’t any of his professors or fellow students stepped forward to testify what a great guy he is? Mind you, I had the same questions when John Roberts was up for a Supreme Court appointment.

  65. as oBomber turns more and more to the right, and his Change slogan is exposed for the Madison Avenue sham that it is, McCain gains ground.

    No big surprise. He is being deserted by the liberal-left Dem constituency whom he courted during the primaries and who saw in him — quite incorrectly and with a large measure of self-delusion and/or political naivete — hope for a real change from the fascist Bush regime. And an alternative to the repugnant Hillary Clinton.

    When you dig down beneath images, the differences between them ALL are too narrow to squeeze an onion paper between.

    Their real constituency are the financial/social elites who finance both parties and campaigns. The only loyal “populist” base the Repubs have left are the deranged Christian fundies, thus the Palin nomination.

    We are completely fuckt.

  66. why haven’t any of his professors or fellow students stepped forward to testify what a great guy he is?

    They have. I don’t remember names, but they were there.

  67. I hope that bubble universe you live in is real comfortable, because I think you are in for a rude, nasty shock come November when the electoral impact of the Palin pick becomes undeniable.

    With the exception of you and a few of your friends, every hacker I’ve encountered — to a man — is what was in the 80s called an “Atari Democrat” — a left-liberal who believes in the socially transformative and economically stimulating power of technology. The uniformity of politics in this regard is staggering and trivial to observe — a cursory glance at Reddit’s front page will settle any doubts. Yet the description of hackers as “moderate to neoconservative” in ESRJargon still stands.

    And I live in a bubble universe?!?!?!

  68. Hey, well, the electoral impact of the Palin pick _has_ become undeniable. That bit is true.

  69. Questioning the American Bolshevik views
    1. Is wealth redistribution taking money from stockholders and redistributing it to those who don’t pay taxes?
    2. Is it more important to make sure that illegal votes are not disenfranchised or making sure that groups like ACORN do not nullify honest votes.
    3. Would premature U.S. withdrawal from Iraq grand jihadists a victory and make all of our accomplishments, money spent and lives lost a big waist?
    4. Can this country afford to grant socialist Democrats total control of the government and allow them to sacrifice our safety by cutting the military budget by 25%?
    Now comes the big question. How do we stop socialism from ruining our lives?
    The answer is simple. Don’t vote American Bolsheviks into power and boycott the socialist propaganda media into bankruptcy.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjvBEKrGkDI
    Cybercorrespondent
    cybercorrespondent@gmail.com

  70. Medicare is the largest Entitlement there is right now.
    You know why? Here is a profile of my neighbor.
    My neighbor lives in the Trailer Park here in town. He inherited his doublewide from his Mother when she passed away.
    My neighbor has NEVER worked a single day in his lifetime and lives off SSI-Supplemental Security Income from the Federal Government and State Supplemental Income from California.
    Right now he gets, TAX FREE, $888 a month, and has another raise from the Demogrants coming his way on Janurary 1st, 2009!
    This guy gets MediCal & MediCare, both.
    Alotta, lotta’, lotta’, SSI’s get not only MediCal but also get MediCare, and they are nowhere near 65 years old.
    All depends on the condition in the ‘Blue Book’ from Social Security that is the Guide to all Disabilities that all the Scammers use to qualify for SSI, the Gravy Train.
    Now, this neighbor that collects SSI-SSP each month, asked his Doctor for a Script for a Wheelchair.
    He recieved a Jazzy HoverRound. Goes pretty fast too!
    He paid NOTHING, no kind of Premium no Co Pay NADA!
    That’s because even though you can own your own home of ANY VALUE WHATSOEVER, and still collect SSI/SSP, and collect MediCal and MediCARE, you pay NOTHING for the MediCare.
    There’s millions of SSI’s that get Medicare and some are only 20 somethings.
    The neighbor put an ad in Craigslist. He claimed he paid, $6,000 for it and was willing to Sacrafice it for $3,000 Cash or Money Order ONLY, no personal checks Please.
    He sold it all right. He must have used it once. He scammed the system, as millions do.
    He got the MediCal Doc to write the Script for the Wheelchair, the Doc got paid for writing the Wheelchair Script, and POOF! He get’s a Super Expensive Motorized Wheelchair FREE from the Taxpayers! And he pays NO TAXES!
    Yes, it’s all true, many many of the SSI’s a Growing League of Entitlement Beneficiaries that have enough knowledge to be unofficially awarded PhD’s for Welfare Fraud Tactics & Techniques, get FREE MEDICARE, and they pay NOTHING.
    The MediCaid also pays for them to live in Convelescent Homes & Rest Homes & Assisted Living Condo’s, Assisted Living Environments, and so on, and they PAY NOTHING.
    But, the Worker that Retired at 65 and get’s MediCARE pays! Yes, they pay Premiums!
    Yet the person that never worked a day in their lazy worthless life pays NOTHING!
    And my neighbor Capatilized on his Wheelchair!
    Wanna’ know who bought it from him? A con artist that was applying for SSI!
    Yup, a guy that wanted to say, Look Here SSI’ people, I had to pay out of my own pocket for a Jazzy, and I want and need SSI NOW!
    I’m sure it worked too! SSI is much easier than the worker that ends up crippled from working years and years and tries to get on SSDI. That’s the one workers pay into, not SSI for the Low-Income’s.
    Remember too that every single SSI may have $2,000 in cash at all times.
    But who’s to know how much they have, the SSI does not do a thing about it anyway, they just keep on sending the checks 40 years long or more sometimes.
    Obama feels that giving SSI’s MORE Cash to Spend, this will Stimulate the Economy!!! Uh, What?
    They will buy more liquor, more CRANK, more cigarettes, but is that really helping the Economy?
    Oh, I know it helps to give SSI’s more money to go to the Casino’s and blow it, turn round’ go to the Food Banks and get free food because they gambled their Check money away and lost.
    Just try and work for a living, and apply for one of the Matthew Lesko suggestions in his Government Giveaway book, you will not qualify for a single program.
    Obama has Tailored his Policies for his ‘people’. The ones that watch soap’s all day, cook up huge meals for the Family, and drive shiney Cadallics around with specialty Chrome rims.
    Or the Latino guy with the monster sized truck or Suburban with the spinner rims.
    These are the faces of SSI. Lovely paid for homes, checks for every family member under the head of household that’s on SSI. It’s a good life Utopia coming from Obama.
    My guess is after Shamnesty, and millions more applying and recieving generous SSI payments and fringe benefits, the system will collapse within 2 years.
    Say, When SSI’s get their Windfall checks, that’s the one the Pro-Bono Attorney fought the Social Security Administration during their Hearing and Appeals for the SSI benefits sends you has another KEGGER Party, want me to post it?

  71. PS, forgot to tell everyone what my Trailer parker neighbor got his Jazzy Hoverround he sold for $3,000 for………..-> Morbid Obesity from sitting around all his life eating and watching 150 Cable Channels.
    Pretty typical actually. Especially for the CalWorks Mommie’s. They just glide smoothly from CalWorks after their 5 Year Lifetime Limit into SSI/SSP benefits, because they either become a Tweeker addicted to Meth or an Alcoholic during those years or eat and sit endlessly until they become Morbidly Obese.
    You can use the ‘I’m addicted to Meth and it makes me Depressed’ Angle to get SSI. Same for the Alcohol or Overeating. They use this all the time.

  72. Sounds exactly like that episode of The Simpsons in which Homer gets massively fatter even than his usual in order to collect disability.

    “If you’re not sure about a food, rub it on a piece of paper! If the paper turns clear, it’s your window to weight gain!”

  73. Financial Crisis and the Way to Recovery

    The term “shocking” can’t even come close to describe the severity of the financial crisis that we are faced with. According to Barack Obama, the only way we can get out of this mess is for this country to adapt socialistic values and enforce socialism by gaining control of all three branches of government. I’m sure that the mountain of money his campaign has collected from domestic and foreign donors, names the Obama campaign won’t disclose, will be used for that purpose. As soon as total control is gained, organizations like ACORN will have a green light to further abuse the law to suppress free speech, control the outcomes of elections and brain wash children in schools to believe that socialism is the answer to all of our problems. With total control of the government, and help from people like Bill Ayers, Rev. Wright and Antoin Rezko, who will probably be pardoned, achieving the ultimate goal, “a life of sexual confusion and moral collapse” will become a strong possibility.
    The proof that socialism, or spreading the wealth around does not work can be seen by examining ACORN and its accomplishments by manipulating bancs to make loans to minorities with bad credit. By using charges of racism and threats to use CRA to block business expansions, ACORN and Obama already contributed to the crises we are in today and finding new ways to distribute the wealth will only make the situation much worse. His idea to put a three-month moratorium on foreclosures will further weaken the already fragile banking industry and only benefit delinquent homeowners by allowing them to live rent-free.
    In order for our economy to start prospering again, we first need to elect an honest leader who is determined to stamp out the corruption in government and to stop the leftist movement from destroying the middle class. The hard working people can no longer be expected to keep giving until they themselves have nothing left to give.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjvBEKrGkDI
    Cybercorrespondent

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