Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

I would rather live in McCain's world than Obama's. But I believe that we live in Obama's world.

Given that John McCain’s political career was launched by the fact that upon his return to the United States his extraordinary wartime service made him a minor celebrity, it’s no surprise that references to that service have continued to play a large role in his political endeavors. Not only is it unsurprising, it seems appropriate as clearly it was a major turning point in his life and according to his books a major touchstone for his worldview. But beyond that, his campaign has started doing two very odd things. One is its habit, somewhat ludicrously, of insisting that McCain doesn’t like to talk about his POW experience when, in fact, he and his campaign do it all the time. Another, more disturbing habit, is the tendency to use references to his wartime service to deflect any and all questions the campaign doesn’t feel like answering.


Obama might be well advised to lose the nuance and punch up his responses; after all, as a general rule, visceral trumps cerebral.


Messrs. Obama and McCain are not from a place, but from an experience. Mr. McCain of course was a Navy brat. He bounced around, as members of the families of our military must, and wound up for a time in the suburbs of Washington. Mr. Obama's mother was somewhat itinerant, in search of different climes. He was born in Hawaii, which Americans on the continent don't experience so much as a state as a destination, a place of physical beauty and singular culture. You go there to escape and enjoy. Then his great circling commenced: Indonesia, back to Hawaii, on to the western coast of America, then to the eastern coast, New York and Cambridge. He circled the continent, entering it, if you will, in Chicago, where he settled in his 30s.

The lack of placeness with both candidates contributes to a sense of their disjointedness, their floatingness. I was talking recently with a journalist who's a podcaster. I often watch him in conversation on the Internet. I told him I'm always struck that he seems to be speaking from No Place, with some background of beige wall that could exist anywhere. He leans in and out of focus. It gives a sense of weightlessness. He's like an astronaut floating without a helmet.

That's a little what both candidates are like to me.


I have mentioned this before, but the Wall Street Journal doesn't listen to me. Something has snapped in Peggy Noonan's brain. I'm not sure exactly when it happened but I know it was sometime during the early part of Dubya's second-term. If I had to guess, it was probably while she tried to compute the federal government's indifference to the suffering of New Orleans. In any case, a light went off in her cerebral cortex and she can no longer navigate the world around her. It's with a striking lack of self-consciousness that she pours out her anguished and confused soul to Journal readers on a regular basis. It's embarrassing. She desperately needs therapy. Without the ability to ground herself in the Republican Party, she is utterly bereft and lost. Someone needs to take her hand and walk her off the public stage.


John McCain is a liar and flip-flopper and panderer and bully and whiner. And it seems to be working

Obama has also been defeated by racism (again). He can't connect and "close the deal" with ordinary Americans too doltish to comprehend a multicultural biography that includes what Cokie Roberts of ABC News has damned as the "foreign, exotic place" of Hawaii. As The Economist sums up the received wisdom, "lunch-pail Ohio Democrats" find Obama's ideas of change "airy-fairy" and are all asking, "Who on earth is this guy?"

It seems almost churlish to look at some actual facts. No presidential candidate was breaking the 50 percent mark in mid-August polls in 2004 or 2000. Obama's average lead of three to four points is marginally larger than both John Kerry's and Al Gore's leads then (each was winning by one point in Gallup surveys). Obama is also ahead of Ronald Reagan in mid-August 1980 (40 percent to Jimmy Carter's 46). At Pollster.com, which aggregates polls and gauges the electoral count, Obama as of Friday stood at 284 electoral votes, McCain at 169. That means McCain could win all 85 electoral votes in current toss-up states and still lose the election.

I remember writing a long time ago that John McCain is the man George W. Bush was pretending to be, right down to the flight suit. The Real Thing is actually far more dangerous than the cheap imitation. If he wins this thing, we could find ourselves in a very, very serious crisis, of both economic stability and national security -- and very likely of our government itself. This man is unstable.


[B]ad sourcing is still bad sourcing, even if you footnote it. And that appears to be the case with Jerome Corsi’s newst effort to insert himself into the presidential race with the publication of his book An Obama Nation.

Corsi's career as an author is interesting. He’s written two books about a nuclear Iran that accuses politicians of actually paving the way for the mullahs to get the bomb. He's written another book that tries to debunk peak oil. He wrote a book about border control with Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist whose main thesis is apparently that Bush is lax on border control because he wants to advance the idea of a North American Union with Canadians and Mexicans.

In short, Corsi is no ordinary Gadfly. He is a certifiable loon. He's two shakes short of a martini. You cannot take anyone seriously who claims that US politicians are helping Iran get the bomb. Nor can you put any stock in anything written by a guy who thinks that any American president would give up American sovereignty just so he doesn’t have to pay any import duties on his Canadian bacon. It's stupid. It's cracked. It’s nutzo.


The Right seems to engage today in social promotion of hatchet men, bullies and political hit men. Those people poison the Right, and - whatever their temporary electoral effects - they serve to discredit us al.


Forbes.com reports that the number of journalists covering the conventions this fall will remain at the same level as 2004 and 2000: 15,000 of them. What a waste. The outcome of the conventions is known. There will be no news. Why are these news organizations sending so many staffers there?


That’s it, pure ad simple: Our man in Denver. Instead of your woman. It’s for bylines, bylines the public couldn’t care less about. The coverage will be no different outlet to outlet. We can watch it all ourselves on C-SPAN.


Why isn’t the Obama campaign getting more traction on economic issues?

It’s not the Republican offensive on offshore drilling. It’s true that many Americans have apparently been misled by bogus claims about gas price relief. But as I’ve already pointed out, Democrats in general retain a large edge on economic issues.

Nor is there any valid basis for the complaints, highlighted in Sunday’s Times, that Mr. Obama isn’t offering enough policy specifics. Delve into the Obama campaign Web site and you’ll find plenty of policy detail. And the campaign’s ads reel off lots of specific policy proposals — too many, if you ask me.

No, the problem isn’t lack of specifics — it’s lack of passion. When it comes to the economy, Mr. Obama’s campaign seems oddly lethargic.


Cartoon by Ted Rall

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