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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

OTP: October 2012-THE RACE: As Candidates Prep, Attention in DC split between politics and baseball

While President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney bone up in Nevada and Colorado for Wednesday’s opening debate, back in the nation’s capital attention is split between the hard-fought presidential race and baseball playoffs.

The Nationals won the first division baseball championship for a Washington team since 1933 by clinching the National League East race Monday night.

Washington, D.C., has the only ballpark where so many Cabinet members, politicians and other luminaries routinely gather and where fans now are openly rooting for a particular president — one who served more than a century ago, Theodore Roosevelt.

“Let Teddy Win” banners and buttons are everywhere. Fans like 2008 GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona say it’s time for Roosevelt’s 500-plus losing streak to end.

[...]

“Teddy, you are the victim of a vast left-wing conspiracy by the commie pinko libs in this town,” McCain said in a video played in the stadium Monday night. “But you can overcome that.”

The October 2012 “OT: Politics” thread starts ... now.

Joe Kehoskie Posted: October 02, 2012 at 02:14 PM | 6119 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nationals, politics

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   5901. Joe Kehoskie Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:48 AM (#4288988)
Looking now at PPP, a reputable pollster,

Shipman made a funny.
   5902. JE (Jason) Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:52 AM (#4288990)
Shipman made a funny.

I guess he's now expecting us to challenge him to a bet on Arizona....
   5903. tshipman Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:00 AM (#4288995)
From Nate's 2010 pollster ratings:

PIE (lower is better):

Public Policy Polling: 1.60
Rasmussen Reports: 1.74

Btw: why isn't this live on the site anymore? It used to be. Now even the archived article doesn't work and I have to link from some random article discussing the ratings.
   5904. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:05 AM (#4288997)
Looking now at Rasmussen, a reputable pollster, if Romney wins toss-up states Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and Colorado, he will become POTUS.
Rasmussen's reputability aside, Ohio's not a toss-up. RealClear might think so, but they've had Iowa 'lean Romney' on occasion. Of the last dozen polls only one has Romney ahead in Ohio. Even if the four states you mention are all true tossups, it's 8 to 1 against Romney winning all 4.

Obama is the kind of guy who thrives in situations requiring a high degree of organization (2008 primary delegate chase, for example). Sandy is the kind of situation that'll draw on that ability and the cleanup is going to be THE story of election week. He'll do well by the people hit by the hurricane, and that'll get tons of coverage. Silver has Obama at around 70% to win as of tonight. My guess is that Obama's chances of winning are going to hit 90% by next Monday.
   5905. Joe Kehoskie Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:10 AM (#4289000)
From Nate's 2010 pollster ratings:

Nate's 2010 pollster ratings came under all sorts of fire and, as you mentioned, he seems to have yanked them off the internet.
   5906. Joe Kehoskie Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:13 AM (#4289003)
Of the last dozen polls only one has Romney ahead in Ohio.

And probably nine of them have over-counted early voters, who supposedly skew Obama. Sunday's PPP poll, for example, seems to have over-counted early voters by a whopping 14 percentage points relative to the numbers being released by the Ohio election people.

At the risk of furthering my rep as a "poll truther," I simply find it hard to believe that Romney has made major gains since the first debate from coast to coast except in Ohio, where he's the same -2.0 that he was three weeks ago. The trend lines everywhere else have been clear.
   5907. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:20 AM (#4289006)
Looking now at Rasmussen, a reputable pollster, if Romney wins toss-up states Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and Colorado, he will become POTUS.

Assuming those are all tossups, 0.5 x 0.5 x 0.5 x 0.5 = 6.3%. Even the diabolical 538.com gives Mitt Romney better odds than that.
   5908. tshipman Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:24 AM (#4289008)
Gosh it sure is weird how all those polls with Obama in the lead are doing it wrong.
   5909. Joe Kehoskie Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:26 AM (#4289009)

Just posted at RCP:

What's Behind the State-National Poll Divergence?

***
Gosh it sure is weird how all those polls with Obama in the lead are doing it wrong.

If no more than 25 percent of Ohioans have voted early but your poll sample says 36 percent have voted early, then, yes, you're doing it wrong.
   5910. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:28 AM (#4289011)
Ohio's not a toss-up. RealClear might think so, but they've had Iowa 'lean Romney' on occasion. Of the last dozen polls only one has Romney ahead in Ohio.

Not to belabor then point, but most of the polls that show Obama leading have partisan splits that are more Democratic than the 2008 electorate. That doesn't seem consistent with other indicators, including the 2010 Ohio results, the 2009, 2010 & 2011 results elsewhere and the national polls. I'm willing to concede that it would be very hard for Obama to lose Ohio if he has a more Democratic electorate than 2008. I just don't think it is likely, and think it is quite possible that polls that have only about an 8% response rate might be missing something if non-responders don't break evenly along partisan lines. So, I put more weight on the fact that those polls show Romney winning Independents, often by double-digits. I could be wrong, but if Romney wins Independents by a significant margin, I believe he will win Ohio and the election. We'll know in a week.

EDIT: Put another way, candidates who win the Independent vote seldom lose elections in Ohio or the country.
   5911. RollingWave Posted: October 31, 2012 at 03:15 AM (#4289031)
Assuming those are all tossups, 0.5 x 0.5 x 0.5 x 0.5 = 6.3%. Even the diabolical 538.com gives Mitt Romney better odds than that.
To be fair, he doesn't actually need all 4 of those states. and they are also weighted differently (for example if he lose Florida he's automatically toast.). but still...

I guess the baseball analogy is that Obama's leading by 1 in the bottom of the 9th with a man on second and 2 outs. you can say that he's one hit away from losing / tying. but he's also one out away from winning, from a win probability POV he's obviously still leading, though momentum isn't really on his side. but if you really look at all the games like that, you still end up with the guy looking at a 3-2 curveball down the middle more often than a walk off homerun.

Of course, the problem here is that the election result is in some sense, closer to a 1 game deathmatch than a 162 game season. there is no large result sample size here, you either win it or you don't. Marcos Scutaro may outhit Miguel Cabrera in this situation.
   5912. Greg K Posted: October 31, 2012 at 04:28 AM (#4289041)
Just posted at RCP:

What's Behind the State-National Poll Divergence?

Thanks for that, it clears up some of the details I was unclear on earlier. It's interesting to note that the conclusion is pretty much the same as MCoA's - national and state polls diverge and who knows what to do with that?

The reconstruction of a national total using state polls he used looks at 31 states' polls and then guesses the rest. Is that because no one bothers polling safe states?
   5913. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: October 31, 2012 at 05:31 AM (#4289045)
Am I the only one that remembers McCains highly publicized lsst minute move into PA? It is a publicity stunt by a desperate campaign with lots of money but very little hope of an electoral college victory.

   5914. zonk Posted: October 31, 2012 at 06:47 AM (#4289054)
Why exactly is Rasmussen any different than PPP? Both are run by admitted partisans, both are generally the go-to pollsters for their respective parties, both have been demonstrated to have house effects - but both are generally within the realm of reality. Heck - if we want to talk MOST recent results, PPP nailed the WI state senate recalls, much to lefty disappointment.

I mean - just because RCP, which also has an avowed partisan tilt, chooses to exclude PPP, but not Rassmussen is hardly much of a reason to claim any Rassmussen superiority.
   5915. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 31, 2012 at 07:24 AM (#4289061)
Just posted at RCP:

What's Behind the State-National Poll Divergence?


Interesting read, though you might note that all it lays out is the same sort of questions that Nate does:

I think the simplest explanation is that the state and national polls really are saying different things, at least for now. In other words, if you are calling for the state polls to be right, you are pretty much necessarily calling for the national polls to be wrong, and vice versa.

How do we resolve this? Which will be correct? My best answer is “I don’t know; it is a source of uncertainty in projecting the election.” I suspect one group of polls will converge upon the other in the next week, and we’ll get a better idea.

After all, there are several good arguments for favoring the state polling: (1) you have more polls -- a much larger collective “n”; (2) you compartmentalize sampling issues -- pollsters focused exclusively on Colorado, for example, seem less likely to overlook downscale Latinos than pollsters with a national focus; and (3) the state pollsters were better in 1996 and 2000, two years that the national pollsters missed (although the truly final national pollsters in 2000 got it right, suggesting that perhaps there was a late shift in the race).

But this is by no means a cut-and-dried case. Among national pollsters, you have a battle-tested group with a long track record performing national polls. Of the 14 pollsters producing national surveys in October, all but three were doing the same in 2004 (although AP used Ipsos as its pollster that year rather than GfK, and I believe a few others may have changed their data-collection companies). Of the 14 pollsters surveying Ohio in October, only four did so in 2004 (five if you count CNN/USAToday/Gallup and CNN/Opinion Research as the same poll).

   5916. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 31, 2012 at 07:36 AM (#4289067)
Why exactly is Rasmussen any different than PPP? Both are run by admitted partisans, both are generally the go-to pollsters for their respective parties, both have been demonstrated to have house effects - but both are generally within the realm of reality. Heck - if we want to talk MOST recent results, PPP nailed the WI state senate recalls, much to lefty disappointment.

I mean - just because RCP, which also has an avowed partisan tilt, chooses to exclude PPP, but not Rassmussen is hardly much of a reason to claim any Rassmussen superiority.


Claims of any Rasmussen "superiority" come mostly from the right, and can be taken for what they're worth. As to why RCP includes Rasmussen but not PPP, you'd have to ask them.

But as to why Rasmussen is better known generally than PPP, I'd venture this unsupported hunch: Better marketing and self-promotion, one aspect of which is putting the founder's name right there on the brand, which over time helps give it a certain seeming credibility with the short attention span and low information types in the MSM that goes beyond any actual ability on the part of Rasmussen to predict elections. The MSM are personality-driven, and which sounds easier to roll off the tongue: "Rasmussen" or "PPP"? Hell, to this day I'm still not even sure what the hell "PPP" stands for. If I were PPP, I'd strongly consider changing my name to something more memorable, like "Bacardi".

   5917. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 31, 2012 at 07:48 AM (#4289070)
Rasmussen was perhaps the only national pollster to get 1996 right.** Public Policy Polling didn't exist in 1996. That's the big difference - Rasmussen's been around for a lot longer, and they performed well over the course of several general elections. Only in 2009-2010 did their polls, and their success rates, start to diverge in any significant way from the national consensus. An important thing to remember about Rasmussen is that Rasmussen wasn't always Rasmussen. In terms of results, they used to be basically the same as everyone else, maybe with a small rightward lean, but nothing special. They started showing results massively off from the national consensus only after Obama became president. (Rasmussen has always cut corners methodologically, but this corner-cutting didn't seem to affect his results significantly for at least a decade.)

The interesting thing about Rasmussen this election cycle is that they show almost zero "debate effect". According to Rasmussen, the race was already tied / leaning Romney before he wiped the floor with Obama in the first debate. This is probably because of his party weighting - one significant effect of Romney's strong performance was not just to win votes, but to get people to identify with him and his party. Because Rasmussen methodologically rejects identification shifts as an effect of preference shifting, he missed this entirely.

**This is from memory. He was polling for "GrassRoots Research" at the time, but a quick google didn't confirm my memory, so I could be wrong.
   5918. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 07:54 AM (#4289071)
There's a difference between "conservative" and "Republican," just as there's a difference between "liberal" or "progressive" and "Democrat."
I think Obama is a conservative, though he is officially a Democrat.


Regarding the term, sure there is a difference, but what term do I use? If I say Republican I get a chorus of "I'm independent" and so on. I guess I could have said "those against Obama" but conservative is a simpler short hand.

But on Obama he is not conservative in the modern political sense. He is a center left pragmatic US politician, clearly very much in the Democratic party. What on earth do you mean officially a democrat, right now he is the Democrat, the leader of the party, who is more a Democrat?
   5919. Dr. Vaux Posted: October 31, 2012 at 08:13 AM (#4289072)
The fact that leftists no longer have a U.S. party makes us want to separate ourselves rhetorically from the party that we vote for because we have no better alternative.
   5920. Random Transaction Generator Posted: October 31, 2012 at 08:32 AM (#4289073)
   5921. zonk Posted: October 31, 2012 at 08:58 AM (#4289081)
The fact that leftists no longer have a U.S. party makes us want to separate ourselves rhetorically from the party that we vote for because we have no better alternative.


See, this - I just do not get...

When has the Democratic party ever been -- conservative strawmen aside - the "leftist" party? While I would consider myself more leftist than not, I would also accept that some of the board's leftists wouldn't issue me a membership card -- but when I look through history...

More than 1.2 million voters (out of about 45 million total) voted against FDR from the left in 1936. The Union Party alone (Huey Long's vehicle before his assassination) nearly got a million votes nationwide. FDR's signature and most far-reaching progressive/leftist achievement - Social Security - was hardly something he championed; it was something he more or less got forced into by the growing Townsend Plan movement for a national pension. Francis Townsend, the movement's namesake, considered Social Security weak sauce and was an avowed enemy of FDR. Ditto Huey Long - who supported FDR in '32, but almost immediately upon being elected to the Senate, turned on him (and the rest of the Democratic party -- it was said of Long, "you couldn't get the Lord's Prayer endorsed by your own party"). I suppose you could give FDR a lot of credit for various Labor Law reforms -- but again, FDR often chided and was grumbled about by organized labor.

JFK? He out "missile gapped" Nixon in '60, cut taxes for the top brackets, and unless you want to give him posthumous credit for the Civil Rights Acts -- he really only has the Peace Corps to show as a progressive achievement... and in terms of budget, it's a pretty paltry achievement -- without looking up the numbers and going from memory, it was less than Clinton Teach for America program.

Lincoln? The abolitionists didn't trust him and with good reason. He was an incrementalist right up until his hand was forced.

Teddy Roosevelt? Well, in party context - he was certainly the most liberal Republican we've ever seen - and who knows what may have happened if a few timelines and other things had happened differently when he split with Taft and formed the Bull Moose party.

Andrew Jackson? Setting aside his genocidal and racist tendencies as an artifact of contextual history -- his big achievement was pretty much ending the BoUS stanglehold (but not having much of a plan to replace it, which led directly to the 1837 Panic)... despite his big talk about the little guy.

Occasionally, you had a few plains states office holders -- a William Lemke here and there -- who had brief, but real impacts on a relatively small and local level... and you had the LaFollettes in Wisconsin, the old pre-DFL Farmer-Labor party in Minnesota... but by and large, and ignoring discussion of the Dixiecrats and where we place them -- the Democratic party since Andrew Jackson has always been a center-left party... It's balanced itself on a fulcrum that keeps just enough leftists and leftist leaners in the fold without alienating the apolitical. I suppose on purely economic terms - maybe, if you ignore certain leftist tenets, you can make a case for William Jennings Bryant... I would say he was more a reactive coalescence against the gilded age Republican power base, but I'd be willing to hear out the counterpoint.

I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, but when was the Democratic party ever -- especially in historical context -- a truly leftist party?
   5922. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:11 AM (#4289084)
The fact that leftists no longer have a U.S. party makes us want to separate ourselves rhetorically from the party that we vote for because we have no better alternative.


Does this make me not leftist or not democrat, because I have always self identified as both? I think there are two things happening in your post. You seem to think the Dems have "left the left" and you seem to think the left is separating itself from the Dems, and I am not 100% in agreement with either.

To be clear I am left leaning. Pretty strongly. Of the various political parties Democrats are closest to my beliefs. Of course part of this is my pragmatic streak, because third parties which tend towards strong purity know they never have to actually govern and so don't actually care (compromise) about any sort of practical matters at all. Even discounting that I agree with a huge perventage of mainstream Democratic tenents. Not all, but so what? I certainly don't feel abandoned by the Democratic Party (even though I am occasionally disappointed)

For some reason there is a strong desire in modern America (perhaps the world, I am not sure) to not want to be part of a political party. So you have Tea Party folks that will vote for GOP candidates 95% of the time, but don't want to self identify in the GOP. It is a bit odd to me, but I generally side with the however folks want to self identify. In some sense though if you vote like a Democrat and participate (volunteer, give money, and so on) like a Democrat then you kind of are one even if you want to call yourself Independant or whatever.

In some ways the Dems have become more corporate and free market and more hawkish (I am not as convinced on this one, and argument can be made they are returning to where they were after a detour in the late 60s and 70s). If that is the sum total of left versus right in your world than OK I guess, but I think that is far too simple. Even with those moves there is still a difference between the two parties.

But more to the point the idea of parties and there place in the ideological spectrum always seem to have an odd belief that the political parties are somehow seperate from the people that make up their ranks and vote for them. Changes in demographics, structural politics (example campaign financing), and external events (wars, oil prices, and so on) shape the responses in people and politicians. Liberals and Conservatives (and everyone else) will tend to respond to these external stimuli and the parties will react. Is the party abandoning its principles by changing as the world changes?

There is not some mythical and static "left" that the Democratic Party can or should hew to, and neither since they have changed have they abandoned it. Similarly for the "right" and ther GOP. Again third parties are different because they don't actually have to exist in the real world and govern, so they can be much more static (pure) in their policy positions.

Long story short I am calling BS on the premise of your post, though please feel free to explain in more depth what you are getting at and why I am totally and completely full of it (hey look something to talk about that is not horse race).

EDIT: zonk faster than me. Not that I have read his post yet.
   5923. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:11 AM (#4289085)
But on Obama he is not conservative in the modern political sense.


Not in the modern political sense IN THE UNITED STATES. This is because the US calls reactionaries "conservatives."

He is a center left pragmatic US politician, clearly very much in the Democratic party. What on earth do you mean officially a democrat, right now he is the Democrat, the leader of the party, who is more a Democrat?


Obama is obviously a Democrat. That's a tautology. He's a conservative Democrat, essentially an American Tory. His political philosophy is quite conservative (which, again, is distinct from "conservatism" as it is understood in the US, which is really reactionary politics.)

If we align to more academic uses of the terms of political science*:

Radicals are people who want sudden, immediate change in the status quo, usually in the service of some theory of social justice or utopia.
Liberals are people who want managed, "progressive" change in the status quo, usually in the service of some theory of social justice.
Conservatives are people who want to preserve the status quo moreso than acquiesce to social change.
Reactionaries are people who want to eliminate prior social changes in order to "return to the garden" of a previous "golden era."

In the modern United States:

Reactionaries align to the Republican Party, increasingly and with intensity of late to the "Tea Party" arm of that coalition.

Conservatives have long been split, for various reasons, between the Republicans and Democrats; of late the conservatives of the GOP have been bleeding out into a no-man's land of "no party for me." (Bruce Bartlett, Andrew Sullivan, Daniel Larison, even David Frum of late.)

Liberals align almost universally with the Democrats.

Neither of the two major parties supports radicals; they tend to align to either Greens or some other minor third party on "the left."

UPDATE: The Libertarians are a bit of an outlier, in that they are, fundamentally, radicals. Libertarians want to advance the status quo of liberalism immediately (ironically enough by "eliminating the state" for the most part), in the service of there preferred theory of social justice. The LIB-REP alignment is mostly an accident of history, wherein the former conservative minded GOP's goals of arresting social change aligned with the LIB goal of reducing the footprint of "the state" in service of their utopian goals. I'd be surprised if the LIB-REP alliance doesn't fray in some notable manner in the coming decades, as the reactionary right takes full control of the actual party apparatus of the coalition. (This assumes "Libertarians" are more like Dan and less like Ray or David.)
   5924. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:21 AM (#4289092)
I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, but when was the Democratic party ever -- especially in historical context -- a truly leftist party?


I think I agree with zonk, other than possibly where we draw the line at what a leftist party is. The Democrats of today (and zonk does a good job of summing up history) are not at aall a radical leftist party. They are very (frustratingly so) an incrementalist party of progress. I think that is more a matter of how than what though*.

If the mythical left believes in Gay Rights (for example) then you can work to make incremental advancements, fighting for laws 9and against retrograde laws) all the while helping to shape how cultural viewpoints are shifting on the issue (and very much being shaped by those cultural changes) or you can seek to have a "revolution" on the rights.

Democrats (and the left/center parties that zonk talks about) have almost always been very incremental in nature. To the point where the big changes need to be motivated by forces outside the political establishment. I tend to think this is more a combination of how politics work and the fact that many people fear and hate change they don't control, so I see it as a practical matter and not an abandonment of the ideal. Clearly though others disagree.
   5925. bobm Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:24 AM (#4289094)
You could have imagined, at that moment, an Oval Office address, followed by a national tour, in which the new president laid out the causes and depth of the crisis he had inherited and the measures he would take over the first 18 months of his term - short-term stimulus, long-term investment, modernization of financial regulation and the tax code - to put the country on a different course. All of these policies were probably necessary, and they were probably salable too, if Obama had seen it as one of his central responsibilities to explain how they all fit together. The president and his advisers were, to be fair, inundated with the realities of multiple crises, and so Obama forged ahead with all of these policy solutions (not to mention a massive health care plan and what amounted to the temporary nationalization of the car companies), which, absent any real marshaling of public opinion, emboldened his opponents and caught much of the country by surprise.

It was a crucial misreading of the moment, and if Obama narrowly loses, it will most likely be the moment he wishes he had back. If he wins a second term, however, then the president, who has laid out no clearer policy agenda this time than he did four years ago, will have the opportunity - the imperative, really - to learn from the one mistake he has been willing to acknowledge. In this era of elections that teeter on the votes of a handful of states, of campaigns characterized by waxy clichés but very little courageous explanation, an election result isn't a final verdict on one governing philosophy over another, but rather a signal that the voters have agreed to hear your case. Once you're in office, the story you tell about and to the country isn't some barely tolerable performance that distracts you from the job of being president. It is, to a large extent, the presidency itself.


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/magazine/still-waiting-for-the-narrator-in-chief.html
   5926. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:28 AM (#4289097)
I do think that the Democrats of the 50s-80s were closer to being Social Democrats than they are today, and they have moved to the right on a number of economic issues. Now, a ton of folks on the left (socialists, anarchists, etc) would say that meliorist social democracy in its Western European form is just as much a part of the capitalist system as anything, and the Democrats were never on the left in any true sense. And the Democratic party of the mid-century included a whole lot of folks who were not social democrats in any real sense, but I think it's fair to say that the Democrats used to be more aligned with social democracy than they are now.

However, if the "left" encompasses more than just economic issues, the Democratic Party has shifted to being a coalition which happily includes racial and sexual minorities and heeds to their interests, when before it was much more of a white social majoritarian party. So it's hard to say that Democrats left the left in full - on economic issues, they have moved to the right, but I wouldn't really characterize them as having "left the left", and on a raft of other important political issues, they've arrived at the place where the left was before them. The gay left, the feminist left, the civil rights left, all of these movements have been significantly incorporated into the Democratic party where before they were mostly outside the tent.
   5927. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:28 AM (#4289099)
Sam,

I disagree that Obama is conservative by your definition. I think he very much wants a "managed, "progressive" change in the status quo". Look at the signiture achievments of his adminstration. His version of managed is very pragmatic and filled with post-partisan bargains, but it is managed change.

I agree with much of what you said other than that though (with some minor definitional quibbles).

I think there is a case to be made that with ObamaCare the quest for a national safety net is largely done, with tweaks, enhancements, and protecting it from attack - all somewhat conservative tasks. But just because there is conservation of the safety net goign on, does not mean the ideals behind the conservation have changed. The conservation is still being done to further liberal goals and mindset I would argue.
   5928. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:30 AM (#4289102)
Matt Bai is a dumbass.

Obama's problem is not some airy-fairy lack of narrative. It's that the economy is still in the shitter. If the economy were in full recovery, no one would give a crap about the lack of narrative. In fact, dumbasses like Bai would probably be responding to Obama's lead in the polls by fabricating dumbassed stories about Obama's brilliance as a narrator-in-chief. It's an after-the-fact explanation of a problem with a simple, structural cause.
   5929. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:31 AM (#4289104)
#5928 gets the Bitter Mouse seal of approval. Correct in every particular.
   5930. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:34 AM (#4289107)
I disagree that Obama is conservative by your definition. I think he very much wants a "managed, "progressive" change in the status quo". Look at the signiture achievments of his adminstration. His version of managed is very pragmatic and filled with post-partisan bargains, but it is managed change.


And in a stunning display of unexpected reason, I think I might agree with you and recant a bit, with the caveat... (C'mon, it's the internet; there's got to be a caveat.)

I think Obama is probably liberal in goals, in much the way you describe. But he is fundamentally conservative in temperament and process, again as you indicate with the bit about him being "pragmatic and filled with post-partisan bargains." Actually, I think this is what puts Obama in a more difficult position politically than, say, Bill Clinton. He is working towards liberal goals - managed, progressive change - but doing so from a personality that is fundamentally conservative in nature. His goals alienate those to his right (and send them into the arms of the wacko reactionaries to *their* right) while his process alienates those to his left (and undermines his base of support to some extent.)
   5931. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:36 AM (#4289108)
I disagree that Obama is conservative by your definition. I think he very much wants a "managed, "progressive" change in the status quo". Look at the signiture achievments of his adminstration. His version of managed is very pragmatic and filled with post-partisan bargains, but it is managed change.
I think that it's hard to understand Obama's conservatism without grasping the distinct African-American intellectual traditions in which he is steeped. For black intellectuals, "preserving the status quo" has pretty much never been an option. Black conservatism, then, will have significant progressive tendencies in Sam's terms. However, Obama clearly draws from black conservative traditions in his emphases on personal responsibility, the importance of the preservation of community, and skepticism about change implemented from the top down. He wants real bottom-up change, driven more at the local and individual level, with support given from the government. This is one of the reasons for Obama's skepticism about the importance of the courts in advancing progressive causes (on which I strongly disagree with him), for instance.
   5932. BurlyBuehrle Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:36 AM (#4289109)
It isn't as much the Democrats abandoning the left as the left simply disappearing and the Democrats being forced to move Right as a matter of political expediency. Starting in about 1980, Reagan and the conservatives realized that they needed to win the "discourse war."

An overwhelming majority of Americans -- whether knowingly or not, in terms of where it comes from -- accepts basic Right principles as articles of faith. For example, the Milton Friedman/Chicago School of Econ notion that "markets can't fail" and that "private markets" are always the solution - and government is always the problem. Arguments made by folks like Joseph Stiglitz are marginalized/ignored because they have the audacity to suggest that markets may not always be the solution.

Another example would be the meme that I hear people repeating (or a variant thereof) all the time. "I'd be fine with paying more taxes but the government is just so wasteful." Is there evidence that the government can be wasteful? Sure, but I'm more interested in the fact that people's default position, without any examination, seems to be that the government is inherently wasteful and not to be trusted with money. How about people saying "keep your Government hands off my Medicare!!" The thought here is that these people (a) believe Medicare is a good program; and (b) automatically default to "government meddling will ruin it...while never considering the possibility that a generally good program could also be administered by the government/be a government program.

The country's shift to the right is amply evidenced by the actions of Democrats properly classified as conservative-leaning actions. Clinton "reformed" welfare in the 90s. Clinton dismantled Glass Steagall. In the town hall debate, it was disheartening to watch Obama run, as fast as he could to a "pro-coal, pro-oil drilling" position in response to several of the questions.

There are other things, but this post is lengthy enough.
   5933. bunyon Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:38 AM (#4289111)
Someone above suggested that independents polled in Ohio are favoring Romney - is there a link to this?

I would agree, that if that is the case, that the polling in Ohio that shows Obama ahead is probably in error. But I can't find anything that says what the poster said.

   5934. JL Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:42 AM (#4289112)
Those ads that the Obama campaign are about to run in Detroit further demonstrate that Romney is losing. Michigan is very, very safe.

I would be curious where those ad buys are located (for both sides). A good chunk of Michigan's populations lies next to the Ohio boarder. Not clear to me that those ads are not directed at folks in Ohio.
   5935. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:42 AM (#4289113)
Someone above suggested that independents polled in Ohio are favoring Romney - is there a link to this?
Party identification is too fluid, and differs too much poll to poll, to have a good handle of the behavior of "independents".

One of the big problems is that most independents are not true independents - they're weak partisans who often identify with the party for which they almost always eventually vote. So for the majority of self-identified independents, their party id floats between "independent" and the party they actually do support. Polling independents is extremely difficult - the population of actual independents is a small subset of the people who identify as independents, which makes determining their swing almost impossible until after the fact.
   5936. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:43 AM (#4289115)
It isn't as much the Democrats abandoning the left as the left simply disappearing


The coalition the Democrats were built on went away as LBJ predicted when he signed the Civil Rights Act. I think the parties are both still shifting and reorganizing to deal with that and the ohter changes that have happened (Demographic shifts, Unions losing influence, and so on). I am not sure I buy the argument the left went away, but maybe that is quibbling.
   5937. zonk Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:45 AM (#4289117)
I guess I would consider myself a fairly radical social leftist -- I get enormously frustrated by incrementalism in the realm of things like gay rights, the culmination of the AA civil rights movement taking a century, the pace of women's equality in various realms, etc -- I understand that such things have always taken time... but I think history got it wrong and frankly, I have very little use for the fabric of custom and its importance.

On economics, I tend to be a much more cautious liberal -- I most certainly believe in core principles like progressive taxation, a robust safety net, and I'm not even all that opposed to certain segments of commerce being nationalized... but in this realm, I do generally tend to think the devil is in the details -- and I do tend to distrust broad, radical changes. Here, I just think of something like the TVA and rural electrification. Ultimately, I think this was surely a good and proper thing for our country -- but I also think of unintended consequences. Prior to rural electrification - many farms had windmill operated Delco battery systems to supply power. Sure - it wasn't as reliable and omnipresent as being on a grid, but of course - there was a market for it and advancements were being made. Rural electrification really stunted advancement in that area. Again - I think I'd still make that trade in retrospect, I just tend to be more circumspect... I've moved towards more nationalization of health care, for example, but I still see a system that can't be fixed by simply making health care providers a completely public service (from financing education to the role a market-based system does have in innovation).

On foreign policy, I do oppose the concept of 'American exceptionalism' -- I think it's a hollow, jingoistic concept that undercuts our core strength as a nation (namely, the willingness to change, improve, and face our failings) -- and I'm also not at all in favor any flavor of American hegemony, be it the old imperialist flavor or the new neocon driven flavor... but I am no dove, I do believe we occupy a relatively unique space on the world stage, and I likewise believe we have a responsibility that comes with that unique role. I don't believe there's one single answer that we can plug-and-play in all geopolitical situations, but where our economic and military might can defeat oppression, where the international community is largely in at least tacit agreement with our exercise of power, and where we can clearly say that even a vague, unknown 'something else' is better than the status quo, I do believe we should act. I likewise don't have an issue with, say, the concept of drone warfare -- we've discussed it before, but I'll just reiterate that the only issue I have with it is that muddied command-and-control of the program -- but strictly speaking, if we can use a remote controlled machine to kill a terrorist, it's near certain to be more precise than a bomber or a cruise missile.
   5938. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:51 AM (#4289122)
Yeah, I think that saying the left "went away" obfuscates the issue a little bit. The social democratic left in the mid-century period was union-driven. The decline of unions is the primary reason the Democratic party moved to the right on so many economic issues. The decline of unions is a complex story in American economic and political history, and they certainly didn't just organically "go away". Burly Buehrle is right, though, that one of the primary causes of the shift of the Democratic party to the right on economic issues was driven by the weakening of the economic left in both political and demographic terms.

The crisis of Keynesianism in the 70s was another major cause - after decades of growth and stability, the failure of orthodox Keynesianism to give proper consideration to monetary policy and the ensuing crises really hurt the credibility of social democratic intellectuals. I figure that crime and other social unrest player a part here, but really it was the poor growth and inflation of the 70s that hurt the cause.

With the relative decline of the labor left, the Democratic party base has become more of a complex alliance of various interest groups, which has helped the party to embrace (much of) the gay left and feminist left in recent decades, for instance.
   5939. zonk Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:52 AM (#4289123)
I think Obama is probably liberal in goals, in much the way you describe. But he is fundamentally conservative in temperament and process, again as you indicate with the bit about him being "pragmatic and filled with post-partisan bargains." Actually, I think this is what puts Obama in a more difficult position politically than, say, Bill Clinton. He is working towards liberal goals - managed, progressive change - but doing so from a personality that is fundamentally conservative in nature. His goals alienate those to his right (and send them into the arms of the wacko reactionaries to *their* right) while his process alienates those to his left (and undermines his base of support to some extent.)


I would agree with this... in fact, it's probably a pretty good estimation of why I'm such a strong supporter of Obama... He's been far, far from perfect even for my own tastes -- but this is largely what I would picture as my ideal President. On foreign policy, he's been nearly pitch perfect. On social issues, he's been a bit slow - but by and large, has gotten to where I want him to be. On economic issues, I suppose I'd prefer a bit less caution, but I'm willing to cut him some slack on the political climate he faced/es.

   5940. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:52 AM (#4289124)
I guess I would consider myself


zonk I think I am on board with most everything you said, I suspect we just have slightly different priorities across the areas and thoughts about how to do things. Foreign policy is where we differ a bit, but not too terribly much.

And in a stunning display of unexpected reason, I think I might agree with you and recant a bit, with the caveat... (C'mon, it's the internet; there's got to be a caveat.)


Seriously though, who hacked Sam's account. I kid. ;)
   5941. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:58 AM (#4289129)
However, Obama clearly draws from black conservative traditions in his emphases on personal responsibility, the importance of the preservation of community, and skepticism about change implemented from the top down. He wants real bottom-up change, driven more at the local and individual level, with support given from the government.


As a NYC public school teacher, I really wish this were the case with Obama and public schools. I wish anyone was in power who truly believed this.
   5942. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 09:59 AM (#4289130)
The crisis of Keynesianism in the 70s was another major cause - after decades of growth and stability, the failure of orthodox Keynesianism to give proper consideration to monetary policy really hurt the credibility of social democratic intellectuals. I figure that crime and other social unrest player a part here, but really it was the poor growth and inflation of the 70s that hurt the cause.


I agree, but there is also an element of suply shocks (specifically oil, but some other stuff as well) that hurt here. Non economically the social changes from the Pill and Vietnam aftermath also figure into the mix. It is a really complex topic with no one answer. Though the right tries with their "center-right nation" nonsense.
   5943. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 10:02 AM (#4289133)
As a NYC public school teacher, I really wish this was the case with Obama and public schools. I wish anyone was in power who truly believed this.


I think he does, but it is really hard for anyone (even the president) to accomplish this. I see this all the time in companies I work at/consulkt for, Corporate Culture is really really powerful. You see C level folks and their huge initiatives crash into Corporate Culture all the time, and Corporate Culture nearly always wins.

Change is hard and unintended consequences show up everywhere even when you get the change you want.
   5944. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 31, 2012 at 10:02 AM (#4289134)
MCoA makes really good points at 5931 and 5938, as usual. There are very few people who are fundamentally "liberal" or "conservative" on every single issue. In fact, there's an entire industry of punditry set up around the idea of being confused, aghast and/or outraged because someone from one camp on one issue isn't aligned there on some other issue, or shouldn't be. This is the basic premise of Thomas Frank's "What's Wrong With Kansas," for example. The idea that Kansans vote according to their social conservatism rather than in pragmatic service of their natural alignment with economic liberalism confuses and outrages Frank. Similarly, the constant drone of "why don't African Americans/Latinos vote for Republicans; they're socially conservative!" from the right wings commits the same conflation; assuming they're valuation of multitudinous political factors is the only valid valuation, and shouting at anyone who weights issues and history differently.
   5945. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 31, 2012 at 10:02 AM (#4289135)
However, Obama clearly draws from black conservative traditions in his emphases on personal responsibility, the importance of the preservation of community, and skepticism about change implemented from the top down. He wants real bottom-up change, driven more at the local and individual level, with support given from the government.


As a NYC public school teacher, I really wish this was the case with Obama and public schools. I wish anyone was in power who truly believed this.
Yeah, Obama's all-in with the "reformers" on public schools. There was a period of time (maybe 1995-2005) where pretty radical forces seized control not just of the Democratic party on education issues, but also of much of the intellectual apparatus of the Democratic party. We're only just now seeing effective push-back at the intellectual level as well as the grassroots. It's a big problem.
   5946. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 10:11 AM (#4289141)
Yeah, Obama's all-in with the "reformers" on public schools.


Educational policy is a mess in the US in some senses, much like with health Care policy, partly because there are political issues that cloud the whole thing (teachers unions, for example), techical issues (measurement for education is really hard, people want the metrics to be much better than they really are), and strategic issues (other than educating our children and similar generic statements what are we trying to accomplish) which makes the whole thing tough.

Overall I think the educational system in the US is better than it is generally given credit for, ebcause there is not anyone who benefits from talking up the system. It is clearly not perfect though.

EDIT: And looking at the post I wrote and what I quoted they really don't make sense together. Not sure what I was thinking. Hmmm. Oh well.
   5947. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: October 31, 2012 at 10:14 AM (#4289142)
I think he does, but it is really hard for anyone (even the president) to accomplish this. I see this all the time in companies I work at/consulkt for, Corporate Culture is really really powerful. You see C level folks and their huge initiatives crash into Corporate Culture all the time, and Corporate Culture nearly always wins.

Change is hard and unintended consequences show up everywhere even when you get the change you want.


The problem with this argument is that Obama has totally gone all in on education with people like Arne Duncan (he's the sec of ed!), Michelle Rhee and other "reformers", and they are the most ideological and zealous when it comes to a very top-down movement. Heck, Obama's Man in Chicago Rahm has made mayoral control of education his issue there.

The education debate is, of course, very complicated and convoluted. For instance, the charter school movement partly started because of people who wanted greater local control. It's been taken over by more business-oriented people who are interested in creating franchises such as KIPP and Harlem Success Academy, and who throgh things like co-location are actively squeezing out traditional public schools. Local activists find themselves more and more at odds with these types of super charters.
   5948. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 31, 2012 at 10:24 AM (#4289151)
Yeah, Obama's all-in with the "reformers" on public schools. There was a period of time (maybe 1995-2005) where pretty radical forces seized control not just of the Democratic party on education issues, but also of much of the intellectual apparatus of the Democratic party. We're only just now seeing effective push-back at the intellectual level as well as the grassroots. It's a big problem.


I'm a bit of two minds on educational policy. I recognize the desire for local communities to have local control, and I recognize the adverse affect of "one size fits all" attempts to measure and grade "education outcomes," etc. But I also recognize the stupidity of having local school boards (which are often cesspools of vanity and petty politics in their districts) decide what the "science" curriculum should be on a district to district or even state to state basis. Biology and physics doesn't change when you cross the border in Alabama, so I'm not sure why we'd want to allow Alabama to decide that for them Creationism is the only true science, for example.
   5949. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 10:26 AM (#4289157)
The problem with this argument is that Obama has totally gone all in on education with people like


I still think he believes in Government helping a bottom up movement blah blah blah, but it could be he is just wrong. I am not a "great education mind" so I can't get into particulars onthe people, but I guess I find it hard to believe Obama has sinister motivations regarding education or anything. So I guess I'll ask what is it that people think Obama is trying to accomplish, what is his motivation if it is not as described above?

In other words what is he being accused of? I am not clear, so I am not sure what it is I should be responding to I guess.
   5950. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 31, 2012 at 10:26 AM (#4289158)
AFAICT, Obama's mostly a liberal pragmatist with a few key goals:

Expanding the social safety net (Obamacare), within the context of what's politically possible, given the reality of Republican party discipline and the willingness of his opponents to use every resource they have to scare the hell out of the low information public;

Disentangling ourselves from Bush's catastrophic foreign policy misadventures, within the context of what's politically possible, given the willingness of the right wing to label anything to the right of military aggressiveness as "appeasement";

Trying to use the government to stimulate the economy, within the context of united Republican opposition and given his congenital fear of being seen as "partisan".

I don't see how anyone can label Obama's underlying political philosophy without taking into consideration the political context in which he's been operating. Liberals may often which that he'd been much more clear-eyed about the reactionary nature of his opposition long before 2012, but a great part of this reluctance to confront the Republican crazies head-on has been due to a fundamentally conciliatory nature that helped get him elected in the first place. If he'd been dependent on self-identified liberals in 2008, he would have wound up in McGovern territory.

And I also don't see how anyone can leave Obama's race out of the picture, along with the fear that so many whites have that the country is being "taken over" by the vaguely identified "them". The fact that this fear may only translate into outright racism in a relatively small percentage of cases** doesn't mean that a black president can't be acutely aware that his words and deeds will always have the potential to provide fodder for yet more disinformation campaigns directed at "independent" low information voters who waver between seeing Obama as "post-racial" and "too 'black'" for their tastes. It's a fine line that no white president ever has to face to the same extent that a black president does, not even out "first black president" from the 90's.

**In plenty of other cases, the "them" can be seen in distinctly non-racial terminology, as in "big business" or "breakdown of the family" or "moving away from God".

P.S. On his education policy, Obama's just one more politician with a clear vision of what he'd like the end results to be (a quality education for every child), but with no clear idea of how to get from here to there. This makes him as susceptible to gimmickry a la Duncan / Rhee as anyone, but the truth is that most people (including myself) have absolutely no idea how to perform educational miracles on a mass level, given the context of both the disintegration of family structures and budgetary restraints. The problem is that there simply aren't enough "great" teachers or "great" parents to go around, and it's very hard for a child to become a "great" student when both of those essential ingredients are missing in his life. No "reform" can get around this cold, hard fact on anything but paper.
   5951. zonk Posted: October 31, 2012 at 10:26 AM (#4289159)
Yeah, Obama's all-in with the "reformers" on public schools. There was a period of time (maybe 1995-2005) where pretty radical forces seized control not just of the Democratic party on education issues, but also of much of the intellectual apparatus of the Democratic party. We're only just now seeing effective push-back at the intellectual level as well as the grassroots. It's a big problem.


I'd quibble with "all-in" -- I would agree that he's a lot more cozier than I wish he was -- but he still opposes school vouchers, and his education program is carrot-based, not stick-based.

I won't claim those are good reasons for the resurgent education elements on the left to be in love or even in like with Obama -- but sometimes, manning the parapets and being the bulwark against the horde is the best option you've got.

Educational policy is a mess in the US in some senses, much like with health Care policy, partly because there are political issues that cloud the whole thing (teachers unions, for example), techical issues (measurement for education is really hard, people want the metrics to be much better than they really are), and strategic issues (other than educating our children and similar generic statements what are we trying to accomplish) which makes the whole thing tough.

Overall I think the educational system in the US is better than it is generally given credit for, ebcause there is not anyone who benefits from talking up the system. It is clearly not perfect though.


Absolutely... I think it bears repeating as often as can be repeated that the American educational system takes a fundamental different view of education -- especially at the secondary school/HS level -- than do most other nations that we have supposedly 'fallen behind'. To wit - the American education is basically set up such that we think there's a core education owed to every student up to the age of 18/high school graduation. Few others systems go this route -- we 'test' lower because the systems we compete against have, by the point of much of this testing, shunted many into programs that don't get tested in these areas. We can certainly have a discussion about whether it would be wiser to provide/allow more... let's say, vocational tracts and curriculum geared towards students who have no desire to pursue college or white collar careers, but I wholeheartedly oppose the idea of forced routing of kids who are not even/just barely even teenagers into career tracts. Few people know at 13 what they want to do when they're 23/33/43/etc -- and I'd prefer an educational system that gives them more options.

In fact, it ought to be noted that even as we in the US seem determined to become better 'test takers" to compete internationally -- other nations, like China in particular, are actually looking to move more towards US models on education simply because they tend to produce better creative and critical thinkers that rote test-taking achievers do not.
   5952. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 10:34 AM (#4289165)
I don't see how anyone can label Obama's underlying political philosophy without taking into consideration the political context in which he's been operating.


Yes.

And I also don't see how anyone can leave Obama's race out of the picture


Also yes.

Like every human ever, Obama has to take into account his environment and is shaped by who he is. I think one part of the Left's frustration though is he is not using his oratory gifts and bully pulpit enough to expand the range of what is possible. The environment he is operating in is not completely exogenous, he could do things to try to shape the discourse. And he does a little (conversion on gay marriage for example), but from my perspective it feels like too little is being done there.

I am be a victim of expectations (both Obama and Presidential), but the feeling is there in me at least. I still grade him out pretty well, but not as well as I want to. Oh well.
   5953. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 31, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4289167)
We can certainly have a discussion about whether it would be wiser to provide/allow more... let's say, vocational tracts and curriculum geared towards students who have no desire to pursue college or white collar careers, but I wholeheartedly oppose the idea of forced routing of kids who are not even/just barely even teenagers into career tracts. Few people know at 13 what they want to do when they're 23/33/43/etc -- and I'd prefer an educational system that gives them more options.


I could probably get behind a system that tests out "vocational track" students in middle school and shunts them into some sort of "Hunger Games" scenario built around football and massive brain trauma.
   5954. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: October 31, 2012 at 10:37 AM (#4289168)
In fact, it ought to be noted that even as we in the US seem determined to become better 'test takers" to compete internationally -- other nations, like China in particular, are actually looking to move more towards US models on education simply because they tend to produce better creative and critical thinkers that rote test-taking achievers do not.


Yep, as someone who taught in Indonesia for a couple of years it was pretty interesting to see how the administrators at my school wanted to pick my mind about America's more progressive pedagogical ideas such as project-based learning, critical reading of text. In fact, I get downright patriotic when I think about the history of American thought in this area. We should be proud that our educational thinkers have been responsible for some of the best ideas about how and why to teach in the world.
   5955. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 31, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4289171)
I am be a victim of expectations (both Obama and Presidential), but the feeling is there in me at least. I still grade him out pretty well, but not as well as I want to. Oh well.


The only point I grade him out poorly *against expectation* is foreign policy and the drone wars. And I'm more than willing to acknowledge that my expectation of Obama rolling back the national security state run amok and reeling in the excesses of 20 years of expansive "executive authority" was more "hope" than practical thinking. Basically I *knew* the GOP would expand the problem, and I *knew* Hillary Clinton wouldn't go hard in against one of Bill's primary "accomplishments." So I went in for Obama, to no avail.
   5956. tshipman Posted: October 31, 2012 at 10:44 AM (#4289172)
Someone above suggested that independents polled in Ohio are favoring Romney - is there a link to this?

I would agree, that if that is the case, that the polling in Ohio that shows Obama ahead is probably in error. But I can't find anything that says what the poster said.


Independents leaning Romney is one explanation for how polls seem to capture a larger split between R and D identification than in 2008.

In the same electorate, you have more right wingers identifying as "Independent" than in 2008. So it looks like there are more Democrats than Republicans than in 2008, and it looks like Romney is doing better with independents. In this way, we can see how silly it is to weight based on partisan affiliation.

IOW, if in 2008, the electorate was: D-45, R-38, I-17, but in 2012 the electorate was: D-43, R-33, I-24, then we'd see higher partisan affiliation for Democrats while Republicans would run better among independents. However, that's just an artifact of poll questions.
   5957. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 10:53 AM (#4289176)
but in 2012 the electorate was


Did you mean 2010? Or is there an if there?

Minor edit, adding second question.
   5958. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 31, 2012 at 11:13 AM (#4289187)
Like every human ever, Obama has to take into account his environment and is shaped by who he is. I think one part of the Left's frustration though is he is not using his oratory gifts and bully pulpit enough to expand the range of what is possible.

My best friend in college, a professor / author / Huffington Post contributor whom I still see once or twice a year when he's in DC, has so many personality traits in common with Obama that it's almost uncanny. In one on one conversations with his peers he's as eloquent as anyone I've ever known. As a catalyst for citizen movements he's a veritable Johnny Appleseed. Yet in large groups he can lapse into academic jargon to the point where you just shake your head in wonder. If I ever started a drinking game that involved his use of the word "agency", I'd be in a detox ward within an hour.

The point is that "oratorical gifts" don't necessarily translate from one context to another, and the fact that Obama made his mark with a small handful of memorable addresses (the 2004 convention and the 2008 Philadelphia speech on Rev. Wright) doesn't mean that he's got a Clintonian or Reaganesque gift for rhetoric that he can automatically summon at any time he wishes. Obama may simply be a unique combination of organizational wizard, policy wonk, occasional great orator, and hopeful racial symbol who came along at the right time and in the right place. This combination has made him (IMO) a very good president, but if we ever expect to see him go from "very good" to "great", we're going to have to provide him with a much more fertile political ground soil. No president has ever achieved contemporarily acknowledged "greatness" in the face of an opposition as unyielding as today's Republican Party, unless he also had a countervailing support base that had the political strength to convert their common goals into concrete legislation.
   5959. tshipman Posted: October 31, 2012 at 11:14 AM (#4289188)
Did you mean 2010? Or is there an if there?


An if--those were hypotheticals. Actual numbers:

2008: D 39, R 32, I 29
2010: D35, R35, I 29

PPP's most recent national poll (showing a tie) had this break down:

D-41, R 36, I 23.

In other words, slightly more democrats, but way more Republicans. This is just an example. When Joe and co ##### about the partisan sample, keep in mind that Indies are never reported. It's pretty easy to say you're an independent, but have actually voted Republican all the time.
   5960. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 31, 2012 at 11:29 AM (#4289195)
Nate's latest, posted an hour ago, with all the usual charts and numerical breakdowns:

What State Polls Suggest About the National Popular Vote

   5961. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: October 31, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4289198)
The point is that "oratorical gifts" don't necessarily translate from one context to another, and the fact that Obama made his mark with a small handful of memorable addresses (the 2004 convention and the 2008 Philadelphia speech on Rev. Wright) doesn't mean that he's got a Clintonian or Reaganesque gift for rhetoric that he can automatically summon at any time he wishes. Obama may simply be a unique combination of organizational wizard, policy wonk, occasional great orator, and hopeful racial symbol who came along at the right time and in the right place. This combination has made him (IMO) a very good president, but if we ever expect to see him go from "very good" to "great", we're going to have to provide him with a much more fertile political ground soil. No president has ever achieved contemporarily acknowledged "greatness" in the face of an opposition as unyielding as today's Republican Party, unless he also had a countervailing support base that had the political strength to convert their common goals into concrete legislation.


What do Obama's oratorical gifts have to do his hiring Arne Duncan and his embrace of Race To The Top and the charter school movement? Obama is actively setting an agenda that is anti-grassroots and anti-community.
   5962. bobm Posted: October 31, 2012 at 11:33 AM (#4289199)
[5937]

I likewise don't have an issue with, say, the concept of drone warfare -- we've discussed it before, but I'll just reiterate that the only issue I have with it is that muddied command-and-control of the program -- but strictly speaking, if we can use a remote controlled machine to kill a terrorist, it's near certain to be more precise than a bomber or a cruise missile.


The drone program is morally reprehensible and it poisons foreign civilians against the United States. Obama the Nobel peace laureate escapes the criticism W would get for the same warmongering. It's a fantasy that it only kills terrorists and I cannot fathom why anyone who lived through 9/11 does not get the menacing nature of the drones. (Pakistan has way many more nukes than Iran, but we're apparently okay with angering the Pakistanis.)

If Romney wins, the best effect will be that Democrats may wake the f### up and wonder why any (Republican) president has been given this kind of power.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/09/every-person-is-afraid-of-the-drones-the-strikes-effect-on-life-in-pakistan/262814/

   5963. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 31, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4289207)
What do Obama's oratorical gifts have to do his hiring Arne Duncan and his embrace of Race To The Top and the charter school movement? Obama is actively setting an agenda that is anti-grassroots and anti-community.

Two different subjects. See what I wrote on his education views above in #5950.
   5964. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 31, 2012 at 11:42 AM (#4289209)
I love it when Nate Silver responds to my whims.

That is a great article, expressing exactly the polling problem that we have and acknowledging there's no clear solution. Many excerpts.

1) The state polls project a significantly different national popular vote than the national polls do. There is no positive evidence of Romney overperforming in safe states.
Suppose, for example, that you take the consensus forecast in each state. (By “consensus” I just mean: the average of the different forecasts.) Then you weigh it based on what each state’s share of the overall turnout was in 2008, in order to produce an estimate of the national popular vote.

Do the math, and you’ll find that this implies that Mr. Obama leads nationally by 1.9 percentage points — by no means a safe advantage, but still a better result for him than what the national polls suggest.
2) The state polls, across all different aggregators, show Obama as a small but significant favorite to win both the electoral college and the popular vote. This isn't just a peculiarity of the 538 model.
Mr. Obama’s lead in the Electoral College is modest, but also quite consistent across the different methods. The states in which every site has Mr. Obama leading make up 271 electoral votes — one more than the president needs to clinch victory. The states in which everyone has Mr. Romney ahead represent 206 electoral votes. That leaves five states, and 61 electoral votes, unaccounted for — but Mr. Obama would not need them if he prevails in the states where he is leading in the polls.
3) Could the national polls be right? Maybe! Nate explains his reasons for balancing the state and national polling, and ultimately trusting the state polling somewhat more, but there's a lot of uncertainty:
But perhaps national polls tell the right story of the race instead — meaning that the state polls systematically overrate Mr. Obama’s standing?

It’s certainly possible. (It keeps me up late at night.) If the polls in states like Ohio and Wisconsin are wrong, then FiveThirtyEight — and all of our competitors that build projections based on state polls — will not have a happy Nov. 6.

...

In recent elections — since state polling data became more robust — it’s the state polls that have done a bit better. This was especially so in 1996, when national polls implied a double-digit victory for Bill Clinton over Bob Dole (and Ross Perot) but state polls were more in line with the single-digit victory that he actually achieved. In 2000, state polls provided an accurate portrayal of a too-close-to-call race, while national polls missed high on George W. Bush vs. Al Gore.

There have been other years like 1992 in which the national polls did a bit better. But on average since that year, the state polls have had a bias of 1.1 percentage points — half as much as the national polls, which have had a 2.1-point bias instead.
Great article, hits all the key points, but doesn't offer a definitive solution to a really odd polling problem. So I remain very nervous.
   5965. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 31, 2012 at 11:46 AM (#4289215)
If Romney wins, the best effect will be that Democrats may wake the f### up and wonder why any (Republican) president has been given this kind of power.
The problem here is that the Democrats, mostly, aren't being craven partisans - they're actually WoT hawks who support the surveillance state and the drone war. There will be somewhat more oversight, probably, since 99% of Republicans hold ludicrously unsound foreign policy views and thus provided no oversight of Obama on these issues, but it won't be nearly enough to have any practical effect.

And I think it's highly likely that under Romney we would see a massive expansion of the drone program, with fewer restrictions. Romney has never once criticized the drone program, and his advisers are mostly Team B rejects from the Bush administration - there's not a single old realist hand in there. It's all neocon wackjobs. I expect that as bad as Obama has been on these issues, Romney is pretty much a lock to be much worse.
   5966. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 11:49 AM (#4289218)
#5965 is both sad and true.
   5967. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 31, 2012 at 11:56 AM (#4289224)

What do Obama's oratorical gifts have to do his hiring Arne Duncan and his embrace of Race To The Top and the charter school movement?


Those are two separate ongoing discussions, is the answer
   5968. zonk Posted: October 31, 2012 at 11:58 AM (#4289225)
The drone program is morally reprehensible and it poisons foreign civilians against the United States. Obama the Nobel peace laureate escapes the criticism W would get for the same warmongering. It's a fantasy that it only kills terrorists and I cannot fathom why anyone who lived through 9/11 does not get the menacing nature of the drones. (Pakistan has way many more nukes than Iran, but we're apparently okay with angering the Pakistanis.)


More or less morally reprehensible than say, launching cruise missiles? Air strikes? Inserting covert teams?

There's a hella difference between W's 'warmongering' -- actually putting 100K+ troops on the ground and in the process of not understanding that candy and flowers were never gonna happen because, well, such things just don't -- and drone strikes.

Again - there are elements of the program I disagree with... it ought to be under military command/control, where there are much more civilian-centric rules of engagement rather than, as it is right now, under CIA/NSA/shadowy control.

However - it comes down to this:

If you think the US ought not to be taking out terrorists in remote regions using ANY sort of technology because of any number of reasons (jurisdictional questions, moral issues around targeting specific individuals, etc) -- then OK, I see the congruency with the moral opposition... I disagree at a basic level, but I accept the criticism.

But - the opposition to the drone campaign seems to very often come down to arguments over whether it's "fair" that we have these unmanned weapons able to rain down death from the safety of a room somewhere else... and that, I wholeheartedly reject. Screw fair - you can't play fair with people that believe it's in any way justifiable to lure the frustrated and the young into turning themselves into bombs, and then deploying those bombs in an effort to terrorize civilians.

The question is simply this:

Do you think there's any method by which, say, Atiyah Abd Al Rahman or Ayman al-Zawahiri could be "morally" killed by US forces of any composition?

If not, then OK... but if so -- I see no reason why a drone is any morally worse than a bomb, a missile, a plane, a tank, or otherwise.

All such situations involve risk to civilians... and I absolutely think the US should tread carefully and have the utmost respect for civilian safety and well-being... but the drone is no different than any of them.

   5969. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: October 31, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4289227)
It's pretty easy to say you're an independent, but have actually voted Republican all the time.


That's pretty much the whole teabagger movement, isn't it?
   5970. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:00 PM (#4289229)
With regard to #5962 and #5965, specifically, drones do not represent an expansion of militarism, but a reduction of it. If we didn't used drones we'd use cluster bombs. If we banned cluster bombs we'd use blockbusters. If those were out, we'd use nukes.
   5971. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4289235)
The problem here is that the Democrats, mostly, aren't being craven partisans - they're actually WoT hawks who support the surveillance state and the drone war. There will be somewhat more oversight, probably, since 99% of Republicans hold ludicrously unsound foreign policy views and thus provided no oversight of Obama on these issues, but it won't be nearly enough to have any practical effect.


QFT. There are two potential apologies for the Dems on this issue. The first is that there exists the possibility that as bad as drone warfare is, the dangers are such that it is necessary. I don't buy that, as I've seen no evidence that supports such a position, but it is at least theoretically possible. It is notionally conceivable that Obama went into office in 2009 with the full intent of rolling back wiretapping, the surveillance state, the WoT, etc, and was presented with compelling evidence upon taking office that changed his mind.

The second, and far more compelling argument for the Dems is that as bad as they are, the GOP is light years worse.
   5972. zonk Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4289242)
With regard to #5962 and #5965, specifically, drones do not represent an expansion of militarism, but a reduction of it. If we didn't used drones we'd use cluster bombs. If we banned cluster bombs we'd use blockbusters. If those were out, we'd use nukes.


Precisely.

If the we could flux capacitor 100 Predator drones to the Allies in WWII to use instead of carpet bombing -- would it not have been the morally superior position to insist that they use them to hit key targets with greater precision as opposed to massive flights of bombers?
   5973. Greg K Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:14 PM (#4289243)
For some reason there is a strong desire in modern America (perhaps the world, I am not sure) to not want to be part of a political party.

Perhaps this signals a shift back to pre-party representative government!

In the first few decades of the 17th century "faction" had a bit of a bad name in politics. There was only one acceptable political loyalty - to the realm (represented by the dude or lady who was currently sitting on the throne). To have loyalties to your own little sub-group within politics was seen as a violation of your duty. Taking an adversarial approach to politics was a definite no-no. A real politician's goal is consensus.

Of course everyone still operated in their own self-serving, back-stabbing factions anyway...but it was a fun pretence to maintain.

I'm not sure it would matter, people would inevitably gravitate towards forming groups to bolster their political clout, but outlawing political parties might be a fun experiment.
   5974. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4289246)
What the heck is this rubbish about Real Clear Politics excluding PPP? It took me all of about thirty seconds to discover that their results are all over the damn place there.

As is so often the case, the red diaper doper babies are either stupid or lying.
   5975. McCoy Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:26 PM (#4289252)
Somebody doesn't understand what he is blubbering about.
   5976. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:27 PM (#4289254)
As is so often the case, the red diaper doper babies are either stupid or lying.


Alex Jones called and told me they were watching you, Joey. Be afraid!
   5977. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:29 PM (#4289257)
In the first few decades of the 17th century "faction" had a bit of a bad name in politics. There was only one acceptable political loyalty - to the realm (represented by the dude or lady who was currently sitting on the throne). To have loyalties to your own little sub-group within politics was seen as a violation of your duty. Taking an adversarial approach to politics was a definite no-no. A real politician's goal is consensus.

Of course everyone still operated in their own self-serving, back-stabbing factions anyway...but it was a fun pretence to maintain.
Not to be a vulgar Marxist about it, but wasn't this 99% a function of the ruling classes maintaining their power by delegitimating opposition?
   5978. McCoy Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:30 PM (#4289259)
By the way, the only reason RCP shows Romney with a lead is because of the Gallup poll that puts Romney ahead by +5. No other poll they use and probably no other reputable national poll in the country has a lead for Romney that large.
   5979. Greg K Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:32 PM (#4289262)
Not to be a vulgar Marxist about it, but wasn't this 99% a function of the ruling classes maintaining their power by delegitimating opposition?

Mostly. But it would so be worth it if it created a mild, superficial change in the language of politics!

EDIT: It's also worth pointing out that while political culture was deeply conservative (the way to win pretty much every argument in an early 17th century parliament is to stack up the more precedents than the other guy), when change came it was the kings demanding ever more power who were seen as the innovators.
   5980. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:40 PM (#4289270)
It's also worth pointing out that while political culture was deeply conservative (the way to win pretty much every argument in an early 17th century parliament is to stack up the more precedents than the other guy), when change came it was the kings demanding ever more power who were seen as the innovators.
My (again kind of vulgar-Marxist) understanding of early modern politics is that the primary class conflict was between royalty and aristocracy. The aristocracy had less control of the economic and military might of the state (or state-ish formation) than the kings and queens, and so they were seeking to maintain their own power often through the maintenance of tradition. The growth of the absolutist state then helped empower the bourgeois class as (in France) more and more powerful public service positions were opened up in the absolutist state to non-aristocratic elites and as (in England) economic power separated itself from political power in the formation of early capitalism, enabling both aristocrats and non-aristocratic elites to amass great land holdings and capital.

(Um, I'm realizing I'd kind of hate it if someone characterized the Greek or Roman political economy in several seemingly-definitive sentences. So take this as an unschooled and obviously rough summary.)
   5981. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:54 PM (#4289277)

I'm not sure it would matter, people would inevitably gravitate towards forming groups to bolster their political clout, but outlawing political parties might be a fun experiment.


The potential success of this can be gauged by the fact that the most virulently anti-party politician in U.S. history, Thomas Jefferson, founded America's longest-lasting political party.
   5982. Greg K Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:55 PM (#4289279)
I think in the longer-term trends that's the direction things moved. I guess it's a matter of being too close to the actions, forest...trees...all that jazz, but I'm fascinated by the fact that this wasn't really a process most people were conscious of participating in.

In England I see social and economic change triggered by the fact that a largely medieval social structure and system of governance found itself struggling with the financial strain of existing in an early modern world. Kings all of a suddenly had to scramble for amounts of money previously only needed for massive decades-long wars just to meet their annual peace-time budgets. The aristocratic magnates, (EDIT: and the middling folks in the electorate) (likewise still conceptually existing in a medieval world) complained that the king used to be able to live off the revenues of his own land except in times of national crisis when he'd convene a parliament and ask for some cash. I think a strictly Marxist approach misses out on some of the local detail in England - not to mention the co-operation between the aristocracy and the emerging middling classes in all kinds of capitalist projects.

I think the scholarship of the 60s and 70s fundamentally misunderstood what was happening in the parliaments of the 1620s. It wasn't a middle class announcing its rights with more and more confidence in the House of Commons. It was more like provincial frustration at the increasing taxation needed to maintain the state in the early modern period, and the inherent conservatism of most of the nation being exploited by various factions within the aristocracy to jockey for power.

Of course that's without getting into the great big mess that is the 1640s...
   5983. spycake Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:56 PM (#4289280)
What the heck is this rubbish about Real Clear Politics excluding PPP? It took me all of about thirty seconds to discover that their results are all over the damn place there.

As is so often the case, the red diaper doper babies are either stupid or lying.

Joey: Real Clear Politics publishes an average of select polls, and from that average they exclude PPP among others. You have correctly noted that they list all sorts of polls on their site, but most are not in the average. And the RCP average is what is being discussed here -- it's the only "unique" aspect of their polling site.

I won't hold my breath waiting for your retraction or apology.
   5984. spike Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:02 PM (#4289285)
What the heck is this rubbish about Real Clear Politics excluding PPP? It took me all of about thirty seconds to discover that their results are all over the damn place there.

As is so often the case, the red diaper doper babies are either stupid or lying.


I knew Ed Anger couldn't stay retired. But are you pig-bitin' mad yet?
   5985. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4289288)
Greg - very cool, thanks for that take.
   5986. Spahn Insane Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4289293)
Joey: Real Clear Politics publishes an average of select polls, and from that average they exclude PPP among others. You have correctly noted that they list all sorts of polls on their site, but most are not in the average. And the RCP average is what is being discussed here -- it's the only "unique" aspect of their polling site.

I won't hold my breath waiting for your retraction or apology.


Nor should you, since that wasn't really Joey you were responding to. As he's proclaimed many times, Joey despises the polluting of BBTF with political threads (so as a matter of consistency, he would surely never post in one). Clearly, some ne'er-do-well (probably a pinko leftist moocher with nothing better to do while waiting for his government welfare check to arrive) has hacked into poor Joey B's BBTF account and posted under his account. Someone should alert Furtado.

To give credit where it's due, though, it was actually quite a good impression of Joey, complete with the "red diaper baby" phrase that nobody else has used in about the last 40 years, used to punctuate an argument refutable with about 30 seconds of research.
   5987. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4289304)
As he's proclaimed many times, Joey despises the polluting of BBTF with political threads (so as a matter of consistency, he would surely never post in one).

Except for the talent, the bankroll, and the Wranglers, Brown Diaper Joey's the Brett Favre of BTF.
   5988. Spahn Insane Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:23 PM (#4289309)
Except for the talent, the bankroll, and the Wranglers, Brown Diaper Joey's the Brett Favre of BTF.

How 'bout the stubble?
   5989. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4289313)
Best summary of Romney's position on hurricanes came from this comment on the WaPo website:

Romney says if it's a legitimate hurricane your state has a way of just shutting it down
   5990. bobm Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4289317)
Re: drones

I cannot rationalize assassination or waging de facto terrorism in this manner, no matter who the sitting (philosopher-) president may be.

Let's at least be honest about the unintended consequences, the falsehoods about the precision of these weapons and the nonsense about conveniently classifying civilians killed as enemy combatants due solely to their proximity to the blast. (It's not like the drones were deployed in defense of the Benghazi consulate.)

We are shortsighted in adopting the tactics of a reviled enemy (fighting fire with fire). Further these bureaucratic activities tend to grow and expand in scope, killing ever less valuable targets in order to justify their continued existence.
   5991. BDC Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:46 PM (#4289320)
Very interesting comments on Obama's philosophy and temperament on this page. One aspect of his work as President seems to me relatively unrelated to race or even ideology. He wants to develop pragmatic policies that look good from within the Beltway. I don't see him as much of an advocate for the grassroots – why would a person committed to the grassroots want to vault so quickly out of the South Side to Springfield and Washington and the White House? I think he wants to be President, and to be known for finding legislative and regulatory solutions to problems that look good to his peers, people of his generation who came out of the Ivy League and into the still-small circle of national power – Elena Kagan, to give just one example. I don't think he has a sweeping social vision, the way that McGovern or Goldwater or (God help us) Ronald Reagan did (and that relatively few Democrats have had, particularly the ones in power, since the immediate postwar years). Obama strikes me as someone delighted with some of the intricacies of Obamacare, and much less able to go out and sell the ideal of universal health care to a skeptical nation.

In some ways, he's like Jimmy Carter, but more careful and resolute, and less interested in always being the most inspired guy in the room. Carter embodies contradictions: he extols humility, but also likes dramatic gestures and grand philosophies. I can't see Obama inspiring the Camp David accords, but neither can I see Carter passing health care reform (which was very much on the table in 1977-81, but something that Carter never had the pragmatic patience really to want to get passed).
   5992. McCoy Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:54 PM (#4289326)
The potential success of this can be gauged by the fact that the most virulently anti-party politician in U.S. history, Thomas Jefferson, founded America's longest-lasting political party.

Perhaps my history is a little rusty but how is a political party that died around 1825 the longest lasting political party in America?
   5993. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 01:56 PM (#4289327)
With regard to #5962 and #5965, specifically, drones do not represent an expansion of militarism, but a reduction of it. If we didn't used drones we'd use cluster bombs. If we banned cluster bombs we'd use blockbusters. If those were out, we'd use nukes.


--> Start by assuming military power is the answer. Drones are better than the other options. Thus Drones are OK.

Except of course I don't agree with your assumption. Military power is always an answer to a problem, but very often it is the wrong answer and in the long run it is often counter productive. You may kill Bob the terrorist, but you have also killed some bystanders (fewer than a nuke, oh goody), and all the people that liked Bob or the bystanders are now mad at you. Some of them become terrorists. Now let's call in a new Drone strike to deal with Carl and Fred the new terrorists. Step and repeat. And at every stage drones are better than cluster bombs or whatever but they still are not solving the problem.

The military can be the answer. But what drone strikes do is make it so much cheaper (in $ cost and other costs like injured Americans) that it is resorted to far more often than it should be. Violence breeds violence, and drone warfare as it currently sits encourages more not less violence.
   5994. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 02:05 PM (#4289335)
One aspect of his work as President seems to me relatively unrelated to race or even ideology ...


I don't know that I truly disagree with what you are saying, but I instinctively distrust reading into character like this. What you describe might be true, but I have no idea why he wants to be president or who he is trying to please and so forth.

And yes I know I had very similar posts and was likely not careful about stating I was talking about the style I saw and outcomes that happened and not the inner workings of the man. Maybe you are better than I at reading the inner working of folks, but I struggle to make sense of the outcomes and styles.

For all I know Obama is a power hungry ego maniac who is wants to be on Mt. Rushmore and that is what is driving each and every action he takes. Maybe he is a selfless man driven for the good of humanity and that is the reason for his actions. Personally I don't think it is knowable (at least to me at this point in time) which is more likely.

All that being said, his actions do seem to dovetail very nicely into trying to appease the beltway concensus and his friends, but I don't know that is true and I don't even know if that is de facto wrong.
   5995. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 31, 2012 at 02:11 PM (#4289340)
Very interesting comments on Obama's philosophy and temperament on this page. One aspect of his work as President seems to me relatively unrelated to race or even ideology. He wants to develop pragmatic policies that look good from within the Beltway. I don't see him as much of an advocate for the grassroots – why would a person committed to the grassroots want to vault so quickly out of the South Side to Springfield and Washington and the White House? I think he wants to be President, and to be known for finding legislative and regulatory solutions to problems that look good to his peers, people of his generation who came out of the Ivy League and into the still-small circle of national power – Elena Kagan, to give just one example. I don't think he has a sweeping social vision, the way that McGovern or Goldwater or (God help us) Ronald Reagan did (and that relatively few Democrats have had, particularly the ones in power, since the immediate postwar years). Obama strikes me as someone delighted with some of the intricacies of Obamacare, and much less able to go out and sell the ideal of universal health care to a skeptical nation.

But in the end, doesn't it get down to the fact that the Right has a well-funded infrastructure with a one-size-fits-all ideology, while the Left is both less well-funded and more important, less focused?**

Since the early 1970's, the right wing sugar daddies have created and lavishly funded one "foundation" and "institute" after another, with the sole purpose of "educating" the media, and through the media, the public. Other than the fact that the proposals that emanate from these think tanks all just happen to favor the financial interests of those sugar daddies, there's nothing particularly sinister about this development, but it still remains that the "Left" counterparts of the Heritage Foundation, the Club For Growth, the Manhattan Institute, the AEI, etc., etc., are either far less overtly partisan (e.g. The Brookings Institute) or more isolated and less influential in high places (e.g. the Institute For Policy Studies). While at the same time, the most historically powerful counterweight to the Right, i.e. the unions, have been dwindling in influence with each passing year. The bottom line is that it's a lot harder to bear fruit in a rock-strewn field, and this is bound to put restraints on any Democratic president, white or black or whatever.

**This all relates to economic issues, not social issues. With social issues the playing field is far more equal.

   5996. BDC Posted: October 31, 2012 at 02:16 PM (#4289346)
Good point, Bitter Mouse – I should have phrased more carefully, because I am quite in agreement with you that the personality is opaque. I am often interested in reading personality back into history, but Barack Obama is still with us and capable of evolving and surprising. I was more implicitly responding to MCoA's idea that Obama believes in "real bottom-up change," because I see no recent evidence of that in his actions. In that sense we're perfectly agreed; I don't think you can read someone except through their actions. Most community activists don't want to be President (no sour grapes involved), and most DC policy-architects don't want to be community activists. But whatever their desires, we know where they end up and what they are good at doing.

   5997. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 02:22 PM (#4289353)
I should have phrased more carefully


Like I said, I bet I did exactly the same thing upthread, so I almost didn't mention it.

I am fascinated by how Obama went from no one to President over the bodies (so to speak) of several very long standing political players really quickly as a black male with a funny name. And he didn't follow the normal demagogue route to quick power. Interesting guy, but you almost have to be to become President.
   5998. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 31, 2012 at 02:28 PM (#4289361)
But in the end, doesn't it get down to the fact that the Right has a well-funded infrastructure with a one-size-fits-all ideology, while the Left is both less well-funded and more important, less focused?**


I am not sure how much this matters. I think it may matter, but I also think the basic ideological structure of liberalism vesus conservatism matter also. Conservatives tend to be much more authoritarian in inclination (I am not saying all conservatives are authoritarian, I am speaking of inclinations and tendencies), while liberals more anti-authoritarian. These tendencies are reflected in the parties themselves and in how they "rule".

I suspect even without the infrastructure there would be a similar diffeence between how the two parties go about implementing their preferences. In fact the differences between the two groups may account for the differences in infrastructure they have built and support and many other things. Or I could be full of #### disguised as pop-psychobabble.
   5999. BDC Posted: October 31, 2012 at 02:29 PM (#4289364)
he didn't follow the normal demagogue route to quick power. Interesting guy, but you almost have to be to become President

This kind of thing fascinates me too. There are lots of resumé paths to other top positions – legislative leader, Supreme Court justice – but Presidents often take circuitous or serendipitous routes. Much depends on seizing opportunity and going "all-in": 2008 was not supposed to be Barack Obama's year, for instance; 1992 was not supposed to be any Democrat's year, but Bill Clinton was relentless. The one great "resumé President" of the recent past was GHW Bush; even his own namesake son was messing around running a baseball team at an age when most people with political ambitions are plotting their course from rung to rung up the White House ladder.
   6000. Shredder Posted: October 31, 2012 at 02:50 PM (#4289388)
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