Calming the Hyperventilation on the Left

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When I wrote this piece about Sarah Palin which was published here at TWN and also Huffington Post the other night, a good number of progressive readers really wanted to have my head. I had about 400 emails — a good 80% of which were screaming at me for what I saw as Sarah Palin beating expectations. Many said I was blind or deaf — and one said I was working covertly for the GOP. (I’m not working for either party for the record.)
Now we’ve had a few days to see that in fact Sarah Palin has revved up a lot of Republicans. She has also animated a lot on the left who fear her, and Barack Obama’s coffers are filling up fast with donations in response to the McCain/Palin ticket.
But among many progressive political junkies, of whom I consider myself one, a real depression has set in.
They see poll numbers showing a significant bounce for McCain — with one poll showing him 10 points ahead. CNN has McCain ahead by two and the Washington Post has McCain and Obama in a dead heat. But most other polls show McCain ahead at this point — and that is making a lot of pundits, writers, and activists hyperventilate.
Guardian US editor Michael Tomasky wrote a note to me and a few others today encouraging folks to calm down. I quote him with permission:

Let’s calm down a little. Let’s not live and die by the last poll or the last thing that Candy Crowley said. This will be decided by 1) debates 2) field and 3) ads, in that order.

Tomasky is wise. There is a long way to go in the race. I remember when John Kerry and Michael Dukakis were considerably ahead at this point in their races, and they were still defeated. The same fate could befall McCain.
But this site seems to do a better job than any others I have seen of not getting seduced into the laziness of national polls. It uses state polls to sort out what might happen in the electoral college.
FiveThirtyEight.com notes that there is new polling in five key swing states and after sorting it out, the analyst notes that McCain has made some modest inroads but that Obama still wins if the election was held tomorrow. 298 to 240 electoral votes.
But still that’s incredibly close. Not much has really changed about how divided America is even after eight years of Bush/Cheney.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

32 comments on “Calming the Hyperventilation on the Left

  1. WigWag says:

    This is from Paul Krugman at the NY Times Blog Site
    “At this point Intrade shows McCain 50, Obama 49. The poll average at Real Clear Politics has McCain +2. Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight calculates the probabilities at 52 Obama 48 McCain.”
    This is not a time for recriminations. But the Obama campaign has to figure out a way to do something different, if it can. And I hope that Obama supporters can get over the habit, which has been all too prevalent since the candidate’s slide began, of shooting the messenger.”
    So exactly when should the recriminations begin?

    Reply

  2. Kathleen says:

    Wigwag…that’s right, you did say that…voters and the party rules determined who was at the top of the ticket…
    I don’t think it was wise for party ‘”leaders” to force superdelegates to declare their choice before they were ready to do it…for some delusion of “unity”… Unity would have have been better served if they had each agreed to chose the other as a running mate for the sake of unity…and had a real roll call….Hillary often said she would choose BO if she won…the respect was not reciprocated under the ruse of the nominee gets to choose whomever he wants….party unity and winning should have been factored in to that equati9on…now Demz have Faux unity or perhaps I should say Phaux, since it was such a big brainy move….
    Not picking Hillary was significant in long range ways too. usually, the Veep is the next candidate, so not chosing her means that she would have to challenge an incumbent Veep for the nomination, thus making her fight for it again…this is a subtle way of shutting her out for a long time, while mouthing platitudes about her. to get her to be the good soldier for the party…..
    Do not discount Teddy’s role in sidelining the Clintons…he is very much a competitor for “leader”‘ of the party, which means Clinton can’;t be in a higher position than him…he was helping BO from Day one behind the scenes to challenge Hillary for the nomination…
    Nancy Pelosi also has her role in history to maintain…she is 3rd in line to the Presidency and therefore the highest ranking person after the Prez/Veep, the highest ranking Dem and the highest ranking woman…that would change if Hillary were Veep….
    On the subject of unity, William Bennet recently mentioned Freud’s Theory of The Narcisism of Small Differences….petty jealousies and comeptitions….politicians like to mouth the bit about this election being about us ,not them, but that’s bullshit…it’s all about them and their petty little pecking orders…statesmen/women are on the endangered species list, rare birds indeed….

    Reply

  3. WigWag says:

    Kathleen, that’s not what I said (although others did). I said that I did not want a highly competent woman playing second fiddle to an incompetent man.
    The ticket should have been Clinton/Obama. The Democratic Party in their stupidity gave us the ticket we have now.
    Thankfully all is not lost yet and Obama can still win. But he better do something fast to change the narrative or his goose (and thus our’s)is cooked.

    Reply

  4. Kathleen says:

    Well, WigWag, I seem to remember you and others arguing with me about Hillary being on the ticket, saying No, because it was such a nothing job…it wasn’t just that BO didn’t unite the party by choosing the candidate who got as many votes as he did, but he did it with such snark….Obamabots couldn’t wait till the Clintons just went away…this was Obama’s show, they all said….when you hire Patti Solis Doyle to handle your Veep, pretend Hillary is on the short list when she isn’t, and then release your text message choice at 3 a.m. to mock her, you’re asking for backlash…and now going with your hat in your hand to the Big Dog isn’t gonna cut it…..Clintons’ll do it, but once the bubbles have left the champagne, it’s flat….egg on your face is not a winning image.

    Reply

  5. WigWag says:

    One of the most disturbing aspects of the recent polling is that white women are now supporting McCain instead of Obama. Today’s Washington Post poll shows white women shifted from an eight-point pre-convention edge for Obama to a 12-point McCain advantage now. Other polls confirm this shift.
    No Democratic candidate since 1960 has won the Presidency without winning white women. Kennedy and Johnson both won them. So did Carter in his first election (he lost them to Reagan). Clinton won the white female vote against both Bush and Dole.
    It is hard to see how Obama can be elected if he doesn’t win the majority of the white women’s vote. Picking Biden over Hillary looks like a bigger and bigger mistake every day. Palin appears to be solidifying the white female vote for McCain. This never would have happened if Hillary was on the ticket.
    People who think the polls don’t matter and that everything is fine are deluding themselves.
    Everything is not fine. Obama has lost the momentum and needs to get it back. If he’s still behind by the time of the first debate his chances of victory fall dramatically. In any case this election will be razor close.
    During the nominating fight the press treated Obama like a rock star while Hillary Clinton was treated like the same old, same old. Now McCain/Palin are the rock stars and Obama/Biden are the same old same olds.
    Obama needs to do something big.
    Fast!

    Reply

  6. Arun says:

    Any comments about the Seth Colter Walls article in the Huffington Post?
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/09/poll-madness-mccain-takes_n_125158.html
    Quote:
    “Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz is highly skeptical of the new Gallup, USA Today and CBS polls. About the latter, which showed a statistically insignificant two point lead for McCain, Abramowitz said: “One reason for the dramatic difference between the two recent CBS polls is that the two samples differed fairly dramatically in terms of partisan composition. The first sample was 35.2% Democratic, 26.2 percent Republicans, and 38.6 percent independent. The second sample was 34.9% Democratic, 31.1% Republican, and 34.0% independent. That’s a change from a 9 point Democratic advantage to a 3.8 point Democratic advantage. That alone would probably explain about half of the difference in candidate preferences between the two [CBS] polls.”

    Reply

  7. ToddinHB says:

    The Obama campaign needs to ignore the noise from the panicked left. It must be like trying to drive from Illinois to DC with 18 million backseat drivers shouting directions. I believe he knows where he’s going and how to get there.
    As for Sarah Palin – she is a mile wide and a foot deep…

    Reply

  8. Susan Joiner says:

    Another really good tracking site is http://www.electoral-vote.com
    I enjoy your commentary, Steve.

    Reply

  9. Kathleen says:

    Sweetness…I’m not talking about remaking a candidate…I’m simply talking about honing one’s message, not changing it…to hit it home…. a one liner or simplified statement of your psotion is not s substitute for a developed position, it is an addition to it…one liners, when done right, make good headlines….
    For example, BO’s team always talks about helping the middle class and cutting taxes for the middle class, good things to do, but it gets swallowed up in lots of paragrpahs on economic policy…
    The Repugs have commandeered the tax cut issue for years now, so whenever taxes are even mentioned, people automatically leap to the conclusion that Dems equate to tax increases…
    Ergo, you need a zapper to get through that very entrenched conditioning….
    I would say “Change you can Count On… Tax Cuts from the bottom up will give Americans more than just chump change…. You can bank on that….Vote D…all the way!!!!…THEN explain what you mean for people who want more details… and more will take the time to go further once you have their attention….

    Reply

  10. Linda says:

    Well, I said a few days ago that I’m not hyperventilating or getting very excited about tracking polls, or every little up-and-down on a daily basis.
    But I do want to share what a friend in LA sent me from UK (note the spelling):
    The perfect evangelistic counter to the “executive experience” argument . .
    Jesus was a community organiser and Pontius Pilate was a governor.
    Smile and relax a little!

    Reply

  11. Sweetness says:

    MarkL writes: “Second, women have a right to vote for Palin
    because she is a women, just as black people voted for Obama
    because of the hope he gave them.
    I think it is a terrible idea to portray a vote for Palin as being due
    to gender or sexism—that will not win votes for Democrats. ”
    Anyone has the right to vote for anyone he or she pleases. The
    point is not that Palin is a woman, it’s all the despicable things
    she has done, said, and stands for. This is what needs to be
    brought out. Again and again. And tie all these things to
    McCain because HE picked her and foisted her on the American
    people.
    Yes, Obama needs better zingers and one liners especially when
    it comes time to debate. But if you try to remake a candidate
    too much, he comes off as phony. I think Hillary came off as
    phony at the end and much of her vote was an anti-Obama
    (read: anti-black) vote. Just my opinion.

    Reply

  12. MarkL says:

    Obama’s comments on habeas corpus were good, except the weird “barack the bomb thrower” line.
    But he needs better lines. A couple of points to ponder: does Obama speak more about the “middle class” or the “working class” in his stump speech?
    I’ve read that he doesn’t say much about the latter, which is a mistake, if true. The two are not the same.
    Second, women have a right to vote for Palin because she is a women, just as black people voted for Obama because of the hope he gave them.
    I think it is a terrible idea to portray a vote for Palin as being due to gender or sexism—that will not win votes for Democrats. Nor will it help to say that voters must be stupid if they vote for McCain, as Obama has done.
    Obama needs to retool his message, IMO.
    Biden and Clinton are both sharper campaigners than he is–he should listen to them.

    Reply

  13. Kathleen says:

    Dan Kervick,
    You’re correct, people who read blogs, and most liberal/progressives, think everyone takes the time to be well inforned., so they assume that no voter will choose based on gender, race, or ethnic and religious factors…most Americans don’t vote at all, and many who do, don’t do so on more than the sound bytes.
    It really is who they connect with and want to drink a beer with…that said, it’s going to be who puts on the best show…..I’m sorry to say this, but I thought BO’s speech at Investco Field was sermony…mid way through, my eyes glazed over and I had to slap myself into attention…I just saw his interview with Keith Olberman and again found it too professorial for the average Joe…..there was not one single line that stuck out and would be memorable…it’s all a big blah, blah, blah….
    On the other hand, McPain/Palin is like watching a retro t.v. series… back to the gold old days…The Mavericks…starring the Hombre and the Sassy Lassy from Alasky….clippety,clop, clippety clopping alonnnnnn ong…….
    Or maybe the nautical theme for John and Cindy’s story… The Sailor and the Brassy Lassy…Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, ninety-nine bottles of beeeeeer, if one of those bottles should happen to falllll, ninety-eight bottles of beer on the wallllll….Hey, if you wanna drink a beer with Preznit, ..Cindy’;s buying….
    Somehow the party of “family values” is proud of their adulterer candidate and his happy homewrecker wife… Fred Thompson was impressed with McPain’s trysts with Rita the stripper, but hey they all thump the “good book”…
    Presidential politics is a Mr. America contest….this year it’s co-ed and integrated. whooooa…but it’s still a mindless process. Obama needs to find a way to state his positions in short, easy to grasp one-liners….take taxes for instances…his presentation is unecessarilly verbose…just say you’re cutting taxes from the bottom up…simple to grasp…
    Democraps are good at stopping momentum…they always hedge their bets and lose the lead…can’t generate excitement being long-winded, highbrow sissys..As usual, it’s painful to watch…for me at least.

    Reply

  14. MarkL says:

    DonS,
    Let’s be accurate: Obama depended on caucuses in red states, cheating and bullying his way to wins in irrelevant states, because he had no chance to win the big Democratic states.
    His primary strategy is irrelevant to the GE.

    Reply

  15. DonsBlog says:

    I think everyone is missing something on the polling. Obama didn’t depend on polls to win the primary. He laid out and followed a plan to get the most delegate votes.
    Now he is ahead in most electoral vote evaluations and has a great ground force in place.
    McCain shoots from the hip, which will mean some great ups and some great drops. Obama is a planner, and is excellent in execution. It’s the rabbit and the hare.
    The one big difference I see is that churches are getting involved now. They’re starting to get out the register to vote effort. And the more Palin’s faith is ridiculed the more she’ll become a martyr, and evangelicals love martyrs.
    We need to focus on policy and McCain, and not take the cheap shots.

    Reply

  16. Dan Kervick says:

    I remain fairly confident about what is happening with the Obama campaign. I think people need to take a step back from some of the recent campaign dynamics, and reflect on certain phenomena that are likely to prove ephemeral. (Excuse me for reposting some material here that I posted earlier on TPM Café.)
    It’s true the unusual back-to-back sequencing of the conventions this year hurt Obama, at least for the time being. That this might happen was predicted by many observers going into the convention season. Obama gave a great speech, and got the beginnings of the typical bounce, but then the very next day McCain picked Palin, made a media splash, stepped completely on the Obama story, and effectively waved the green flag for Republican convention week.
    Had there been a two or three week interval between the conventions, or had the Republicans gone first, Obama would have gotten a lot more mileage out of the Democratic convention. This weekend, I saw wall to wall McCain coverage and documentaries when I turned on the cable networks. Last weekend, those Obama segments were probably ready to roll. But then the story quickly became Palin. In a typical year, Obama would have gotten significant amounts of afterglow coverage like McCain did this year. So I think this timing has a lot to do with this week’s polls.
    Now you could say that McCain made a brilliant move by picking Palin, because it was a stunning, attention-grabbing, publicity-glomming, game-changing pick But by the same reasoning, it would have been brilliant to pick Kid Rock, or Randall Terry, or Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Yes, you get a temporary sensation, and energize some of your base. But the sensation would be expected to fade fairly quickly, and turn to a hard negative. That’s precisely what’s going to happen with Plain.
    Palin is in the midst of a short honeymoon because she is a blank slate that the Republicans can write on. In fact, it is hard to recall any similar case of someone who was so totally unknown to so many people being launched into such a prominent position in such a short period of time. But she is a very, very bad pick, both politically and on the merits, and is low-hanging fruit. A month from now, I predict her poll ratings will be in the pits – maybe mid to high thirties. Once the full story on Sarah Palin comes out, her only remaining supporters will be the far right kooks and lovers of ignorance and mediocrity who are her chief backers now. By October 15th, Republicans will be wondering what the hell McCain could have been thinking when he picked the extremist rube and foreign policy incompetent from Wasilla, Alaska who will then be dragging his campaign down to the bottom. It’s not going to take long before it becomes clear that almost no one, except the crazed extremist fringe on the far right, can picture Saran Palin as the right person to be standing a John McCain stroke away from taking the helm or the ship of state, and becoming commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
    People who read blogs frequently learn a lot of information about important figures very quickly. They sometimes forget that the information gets out much more slowly in the rest of the world. They assume that all of America has heard the same stories we have heard about Palin, but like her anyway. This makes them depressed. But most Americans have not heard *half* the stories about Palin that are flying around the blogs. And even we blog readers are just beginning to get the whole disconcerting picture about Sarah Barracuda.
    Note that Palin is *not* being sold to the general public as a right-wing cultural conservative. She is being sold to the *right* as a right-wing cultural conservative, which she is. But she is being sold to the public at large as a centrist reformer, a common-sense hockey mom and all-American everywoman. This sales job won’t stick, because the campaign can’t hide Palin’s extremist roots and positions.
    So before people start falling into panic about the imagined vast power of the cultural right, and the imperturbable stupidity of the American electorate, let’s remember that many, many Americans, who have just met Palin and don’t yet know that Palin is a hard core right-winger. A substantial portion of her support, which polls show isn’t all that high to begin with, is from people who don’t know who she is, and who won’t like her so much when they do find out who she is. Palin represents that minority of far right Americans who lost the Terry Schiavo debate, and lost it handily. Let’s stop being afraid of those folks and just continue our efforts to educate people.
    Palin also beings exactly zero to the table when it comes to the level of foreign policy competence that is required in a person of presidential timber. So there are two compatible lines of attack against Palin that should be pursued again and again and again:
    1. Palin is a right wing extremist, well out of the mainstream, with dangerously radical views on how we should educate our children and live our lives, and who would work to establish government control over aspects of our lives that a majority of Americans have already told the government to stay out of.
    2. Palin is unsuited by education, temperament, interests or experience to direct America’s course abroad in a dangerous world, and only an irresponsible madman would dream of putting her within a heartbeat of the presidency.
    By bringing down Palin in this way, we also bring down McCain, since the fact that he would choose such a person shows that he is no bi-partisan “maverick” or “agent of change”, but simply a captive of the radical right, and a deeply irresponsible and impetuous person who is unfit to lead.

    Reply

  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Ben.
    Walking in the woods got us here, staring back at eight years of disaster, un-indicted criminal acts, economical ruin, two unwinnable wars, and a gutting of many costitutional guarantees.
    Now’s not the time for a walk in the woods. Nows the time to pick up rakes, snakesticks, and baseball bats, and clear out the friggin’ ballroom. These cowardly jackasses masquerading as our “representatives” have been “walking in the woods” for eight years now.

    Reply

  18. Ben Rosengart says:

    Politics moves in waves longer than a week or even a month. Go
    take a walk in the woods and regain some perspective.
    P.S. Your CAPTCHA system needs serious revision. Take some
    ownership and make it happen. Please. This is my fourth time
    trying to submit this post.

    Reply

  19. topspin says:

    THANKS for the perspective, Steve: there IS way to much
    hyperventilating here lately. 1) There is an eternity’s worth of
    “political time” left in this election, so BFD about Palin, the bounce,
    today’s polls, the media’s coddling of Palin, etc… 2) Do the
    electoral math, look at the districts and regions where this has to
    play out for McCain to win: does not compute – this is not a popular
    vote, folks. Unless the Dems really step in it, this is theirs to lose.
    Also, as a side note: really liked the way Hillary responded to all the
    Palin inquiries today. Well played. If, on the other hand, the
    Democratic party and Obama’s surrogates react the way folks do
    on these blogs, it becomes another “values election” and THEN we’ll
    lose. If we get the hell over it and stop playing on their
    (Republican’s) terms, I’ll enjoy watching McCain go down in flames.

    Reply

  20. TonyForesta says:

    The WSJ is a wingnut propaganda and disinformation rag. These people would have us believe that the bushgovernments bailing out Fannie and Freddie is a godsend, while refusing to recognize the $5tn, that FIVE TRILLION in US mortgages was just handed to the former head of Merril Lynch, (one of the goons responsible for the derivative collatorlized mortgate debt intrument PONZI schemes), and Coffey who is in the board of the Carlyle Group. Basically, the fascists have dished this horrorshow off to fellow fascists, thieves and wanton profiteers, and WJS is silent. So, anything pimped by these wingnut partisans is suspect on it’s face. That said, Obama’s rhetoric is stale. Obama ran on, and I personally supported on the principle, – the principle that he and his administration would “give voice to the voiceless”. The “voiceless” is the 99% of American who are not superrich. It will take COURAGE, and a commitment to PRINCIPLES to defeat the fascists, and if the Obama/Biden ticket wavers from this approach, – the race is about personality. McCain/Palin camp is a vote for the fascists and NOTCHANGE irrespective of their painting lipstick on the pig that is thier policies. Hence our dread concern. Theleft wants change. Real change. An about face, and a repudiation, recantation, and REJECTION of the fascist policies of the fiends, shaitans, pathological liars, traitors, pathological liars, wanton profiteers, and fascists of the Bush government.
    McCain/Palin is the certain perpetuation of these predatory policies, – Obama/Biden needs to revamp the message and garner the bawls, the courage to truly give voice to the voiceless and demand real CHANGE for America.

    Reply

  21. Tahoe Editor says:

    P, I’ve been saying the same thing for months.
    WSJ notes Obama is now starting every point thus: “We Need Changeâ„¢, But…”
    It’s over.

    On our flight back to New York yesterday, we caught an Obama speech on CNN and were astonished at this passage:
    We need change. But let’s be absolutely clear about what change is and is not. Change is not continuing the same tax policies of George Bush…
    He then went on in the moreofthesame vein. The important thing, though, is how he begins: “We need change. But…”
    When a politician says something followed by “but,” he is making a concession before asserting the opposite. These John Kerry examples from our analysis of a 2004 presidential debate illustrate the point:
    • “I’ll never give a veto to any country over our security. But…”
    • “I believe in being strong and resolute and determined. And I will hunt down and kill the terrorists, wherever they are. But…”
    • “I believe that we have to win this. The president and I have always agreed on that. And from the beginning, I did vote to give the authority, because I thought Saddam Hussein was a threat, and I did accept that intelligence. But…”
    When Obama says, “We need change, but…” he casts himself in the role of defender of the status quo. That is quite a turnaround.
    Earlier, the Associated Press reported that Obama, speaking at a fund-raiser hosted by fellow rock star Jon Bon Jovi, “vowed to fight Republican attacks on his character and background more fiercely than John Kerry did in his losing campaign four years ago.”
    More fiercely than John Kerry? Wow, McCain might as well just throw in the towel right now! But the actual quote is even more lame:
    “We’re not going to be bullied, we’re not going to be smeared, we’re not going to be lied about,” Obama said. “I don’t believe in coming in second.”
    “We’re not going to be bullied” is one of those negative statements, like “I am not a crook” or “Don’t question my patriotism,” that actually convey the opposite of the intended message–in this case, weakness rather than strength. And what weakness!
    As West Virginia journalist Don Surber points out, “McCain was very respectful of Obama at the Republican convention,” in contrast with Palin. Tom Maguire has fun with this:
    What is Obama saying, he won’t be bullied by a 44 year old hockey mom? Stand Tall, Barack–you won’t be bullied by Sarah Palin! OMG, is this a secret plan to assassinate Putin by making him laugh so hard he gets an aneurysm?
    Hey, isn’t someone missing in this discussion? Oh yeah, Joe Biden. He appeared in the same CNN broadcast, delivering a speech in Sarasota, Fla.:
    “I had two cranial aneurysms, a total of 59 days in ICU. I was like many of you in the hospital recovering and recovering for seven months from those things. … Let me tell you something, I had insurance. I had insurance.”
    We’re glad he had insurance, but a cranial aneurysm is, in a phrase Biden used later in the speech, “real serious stuff, man.” The Obama Web site says Biden “nearly died” after suffering his aneurysm 20 years ago. He “has enjoyed good health since then,” the Web site says. May he live long–but given this history, isn’t it awfully risky to have a rookie like Barack Obama a heartbeat away?
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122075869303807633.html?mod=Best+of+the+Web+Today

    Reply

  22. varanasi says:

    well a guy can hope, right, poa?
    but i do agree with tomasky. november 4 i a political lifetime away.
    …and for what it’s worth, after reading the nyt’s article on BO’s (alleged) fundraising concerns, i just ponied up for a few bucks.

    Reply

  23. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “{This will be decided by 1) debates 2) field and 3) ads, in that order”
    He’s wrong. This will be decided by who plays the hardest hardball, and who is willing to roll in the gutter to get the job done. And if the left had the balls to play hardball, George Bush and Dick Cheney would be in a world of hurt right now, facing criminal indictments.
    And then, there is a that factor that has been ignored now for eight years, and will undoubtedly play a huge part in November….
    NOTHING has been done to fix a highly questionable and insecure vote counting process.
    Palin/McCain will win this election. The left has proven, these last eight years, that they are cowards, and/or, co-conspirators. They simply don’t have the balls, the will, or the degree of deviousness that Rove and his army of scumsucking criminals do.

    Reply

  24. RAK says:

    Steve,
    I have enjoyed your site for a while now since reading about it on TPM. You are well informed and seem like a reasonable guy. And you may be a political junkie, but you are no progressive. Old style, Rockefeller Republican perhaps, but no progressive.

    Reply

  25. MikeQ says:

    Democrats have to do a few things to have a shot at this election.
    1) Everyone immediately must stop being surprised that the Republicans can manage a presidential campaign. Was no one paying attention in 2000 and 2004? This race was ALWAYS going to be close. And that is even before you take into account America’s racism; there is a segment of the vote that Obama would NEVER get even were he running against Stalin.
    2) Stop attacking Palin. Obama isn’t running against Palin, he’s running against McCain. If any reporters find a smoking gun in her Alaska files, maybe this can be revisited. But Palin is being used to mobilize the base; the attacks (perceived or real) simply make them more angry, and could possibly make her sympathetic to independents (as incredible as that sounds).
    3) Say it with me. McCain = Bush. It’s the best possible framing of McCain. Dems have been doing it, but they’ve been side-tracked by Palin (see point 2). It’s the only way they can get the independents.
    4) Obama has to drive home a simple narrative defining what he is about. McCain = mavericky POW who doesn’t take crap from anyone. Obama = ?? He needs an ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ branding along with the branding they’ve done with him already.
    5) Remember – we have the money and the ground game this time. We need the framing and the narrative.

    Reply

  26. TonyForesta says:

    Excellent post Steve. Theleft is a little dimayed by the Palin nomination, and the coalesence of redneck America. The sad grim fact remains that this race is “incredibly close”, and “incredible” is the appropriate word. I won’t waste you or you myriad commentators time listing or rehashing pages of the deceptions, failure abuses, crimes, treasons, and wanton profiteering of the fascists in the Bush government, (a government McCain supported 90% of the time), and if anyone actually bothers to examine the McCain/Palin platform, THERE IS NO CHANGE. S
    Simply saying the McCain/Palin ticket are the change ticket on TV is yet another pathological LIE pimped by the fascists in the Bush government, the gop, and redneck Amerika.
    It is imponderable that this race is so close. Are Americans insane, are they ignorant, do they read, do they bother examing any information outside of the wingnut propaganda covens, fundamentalist realigious freaks, or the gospel according to fox? This imponderable fact, that
    ANY gop ticket is even in the race is very disturbing for theleft. How is it possible?
    Part of the problem is the DNC’s proclivity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victor (my brother Nick’s framing), part of the problem is the media which is bound and determined to frame this election as a personality contest, and woefully negligent is FACTFINDING, or demanding accountability from the candidates on the epic issues that will impact all Americans, and part of the problem is the sad fact that the fascists fly like screeching bats from the core issues at play and the grim, terrible, costly, bloody details of the fascists and redneck Amerika’s policies and ideologies, and focus on sliming oppenents.
    “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”. Americans might want to look into the facts and the truth of the many crisis confronting America, and beyond the personality contest.

    Reply

  27. Matt says:

    I agree. I think it’s time to get over the shock of Palin and continue an upbeat campaign. Obama himself has looked a little haggard since the polls started moving and I hope he can get back to his message.

    Reply

  28. WigWag says:

    Respectfully, I think Tomasky isn’t so wise in this case. He thinks the debates will be most determinative. Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t. Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton all bested their opponents in the debates and they all won. But look at Bush v Gore and Bush v Kerry. Gore clearly beat Bush in at least two and probably all three of the debates they had. Nevertheless, Bush won. Kerry defeated Bush in all three of the debates held in 2004, but still, Bush defeated Kerry in the election.
    It brings me no pleasure to say this, but I think the debates are going to be a disaster for Obama and Biden. With Obama’s eloquence and Biden’s experience the bar is going to be set so low for McCain and Palin that they can’t help but exceed expectations. The story coming out of the debates will be how much better the Republican candidates did than expected.
    And debates have never been Barack Obama’s specialty. It is universally acknowledged that Clinton cleaned Obama’s clock in virtually all the debates they participated in together. It is widely agreed that McCain beat Obama in the Rick Warren joint appearance.
    Biden debating Palin should be a laugh a minute.
    If the Obama/Biden campaign doesn’t do a perfect job managing expectations, the debates could kill them.
    As for Tomasky’s emphasis on ads, it seems pretty obvious that so far McCain’s ads have been far more effective than Obama’s.
    Obama’s problem is that Reagan Democrats don’t seem to like him. At least not yet. Unless he fixes this, the debates won’t help and neither will his ads. Certainly standing is a stadium in front of Styrofoam pillars didn’t help.
    If Obama doesn’t jettison the “super star” thing to concentrate on the “economy stupid”, he will surely lose.

    Reply

  29. What Grief Is Good? says:

    Sarah Palin is running as the all-American hockey mom and
    using her children as part of her platform. Yet her son, Track,
    the one about to be deployed to Iraq, is allegedly involved in
    what many consider a truly horrible scandal.
    Track Palin is old enough to opt out of being used as a talking
    point and old enough to tell the U.S. public the truth about
    whether he was forced into military service by a judge because
    he cut the brake lines on a number of school buses, which is
    now being rumored, or he joined the military voluntarily.
    Is this rumor about Track Palin correct? There’s vandalism, like
    spraying graffiti, but cutting the brakes on school buses that
    carry children???
    http://www.236.com/news/2008/09/05/were_going_with_the_r
    umor_trac_8767.php
    And why would Track be sent to Michigan to go to school?
    http://www.the-peoples-forum.com/cgi-bin/readart.cgi?
    ArtNum=4216
    Since Track Palin, who is an adult, has not come forward about
    why his juvenile records have been sealed, but has allowed his
    mother and the GOP to use him as a rallying point, he’s fair
    game.
    Steve, you are way too nice a guy. But if Sarah Palin has a son
    who endangered the lives of hundreds if not a thousand school
    children by cutting the brake lines on school buses, and Sarah
    Palin and THE GOP, STILL uses that son as an example of
    “patriotism” then WE, THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF
    AMERICA, need to know.

    Reply

  30. Steve Clemons says:

    Mark – I seem to recall writing something quite a while back that totally agreed with your first line. And you are right — this is going to be a nail-biting, close race.
    — Steve Clemons

    Reply

  31. MarkL says:

    The race would not be close if Hillary were running. Obama has turned a race in which the Democrats were huge favorites into a nail-biter.
    I agree that the hysteria on Palin has got to end.
    For all her lack of experience, she is clearly smarter than Bush, the sub-moron who set the bar so low for the Presidency that Paris Hilton could be taken seriously as a candidate. It’s her politics which are the reason to vote Obama—not her qualifications. That dog won’t hunt.

    Reply

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