Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Democrats take heart, plus the revolting McCain and Palin conservative catharsis show

Liberals worried that Barack Obama will be "Willie Horton"-ed should take some heart that, after several days of Republican smearing, things are still going well for Obama. Obama still holds a commanding lead in the daily tracking polls, and the one time battleground states of New Hampshire and Pennsylvania now look to be out of play for McCain. Minnesota, too. At this point, McCain has virtually no chance of winning a blue state, and his deficits in Florida, North Carolina, Colorado and Ohio, while perhaps correctible, are difficult to see changing absent some major game-changer.

Nothing new here, just a reassurance post. Liberals panic whenever the GOP starts up with the nastiness, but I think this effect, such as it is, is overrated. Bush won in 2004 by smearing and attacking, but it was also the reality of the time that the economy was doing alright, Iraq hadn't collapsed, and the Democrats were unable to assert themselves on national security in a way that instilled any confidence in their ability to handle these issues. The smears certainly undermined Kerry's case, but the truth is that Bush's fundamentals at the time were strong. Liberals see attacks coming and commit post hoc, ergo propter hoc, but I think a case can be made that conservative outrage is showing diminishing returns as a campaign tactic. It basically got Bush I elected in 1988, and Nixon used it to legendary effect, but Bush only won in 2004 by three points, despite the worst that Rove could throw at 'em.

As a matter of fact, I wonder if this isn't the year where these tactics won't backfire. It's okay to give a wink-wink-nudge-nudge about so-and-so being weak on terrorism, but when you have Sarah Palin whipping up crowds such that they say things like "kill him" and "traitor" and all the rest, I have to think that decent Americans are going to be a little appalled. The Republicans now look and feel like McGovernik Democrats--far out of touch with the mainstream, full of overblown and overheated rhetoric, and angry. Obama is certainly a canny politician, and one wonders if he might be able to use some of this stuff to begin the archetype of the "angry right" similar to the "angry left" that dogged Democrats for decades. There is an opportunity here.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.