The Unhinged Left

Disgraceful, how they keep tearing into The Best Veep Choice Ever.

Political considerations always enter into the selection of the vice presidential nominee, as they should. But no politician would ever publicly express the intent to allow political considerations to dictate the selection of a running mate who is unqualified to serve as president. In fact, McCain publicly stated that fitness for the presidency would be his primary consideration in selecting a running mate. Indeed, all presidential candidates say this. That’s because we would seriously question the fitness for the presidency of any candidate who did not say it.

In sum, we expect presidential candidates to consider politics when selecting a running mate, but not to the point of selecting one who is unqualified to serve as president. Only in the extreme case where the presidential candidate cannot win except by running with an unqualified running mate should we be other than disappointed by the nomination of such a running mate.

It can be argued that McCain was in this position. But some argue instead (or alternatively) that Sarah Palin’s credentials are adequate. These arguments are mostly laughable. We are told that she was a courageous whistle-blower. But whistling-blowing isn’t evidence of leadership skill, administrative ability, or familiarity with vital policy issues. We are told that Palin challenged an incumbent governor and called him out for his corruption. But mounting an insurgent’s campaign for governor isn’t evidence of fitness for the presidency either. We are told that she is responsible for her state’s national guard and visited its troops in Iraq. How this amounts to foreign policy or national security experience, or otherwise qualifies Palin for national office, is unclear.

What’s clear is that if Democrats made these sorts of arguments on behalf of a candidate for national office, conservative commentators would excoriate them for it.

Another crazed leftie. Only it’s not – it’s one of the most conservative (and often bat-shit crazy) blogs out there. They’re to be commended for having the courage (for once) to speak the truth in the face of their party’s drunken celebration of…well, we don’t know what. But they sure seem higher than a kite. The source of that link also has his own article on the topic that’s worth a glance:

What we have learned about John McCain from his selection of Sarah Palin is that he is as impulsive and reckless a decision-maker as George W. Bush. We know this not because of what we have learned about this Pentecostalist populist since she exploded on the scene last Friday morning (and God knows we have learned more than we ever wanted). We know it because of how McCain made the decision…

McCain picked someone he had only met once before. I repeat: he picked someone he had only met once before. His vetting chief sat Palin down for a face-to-face interview the Wednesday before last. It’s very hard to overstate how nutty and irresponsible this is.

Would any corporate chieftain pick a number two on those grounds and not be dismissed by his board for recklessness?

Finally, The Best Veep Choice Ever proved her savvy today in a discussion of the Fannie/Freddie bailout.

Speaking before voters in Colorado Springs, the Republican vice presidential nominee claimed that lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.” The companies, as McClatchy reported, “aren’t taxpayer funded but operate as private companies. The takeover may result in a taxpayer bailout during reorganization.”

Well, I’m sure her heart was in the right place even if she kind of messed up on the facts.

Meanwhile, I’ve noticed a remarkable trend, a truly classic meme fostered by the NRO/Malkin crowd to immediately claim that any criticism of The Best Veep Choice Ever is bullying, or sexist, or cowardly or hateful or unhinged.

Look, it’s not about leftists and nutty accusations. It’s just about who she is, what she has said and what she has done. We have the right to know this about our next president, the person in whose hands we are entrusting the fate of the earth. For all Obama’s shortcomings, discussed here multiple times, we all knew his name when he started campaigning, we had all read about him, heard him speak, seen the criticisms and the praise. He had a very long vetting process, living always in the public eye since his extraordinary speech at the 2004 DNC. With The Best Veep Choice Ever, on the other hand… Well, let me put it like this: I am willing to bet my entire vast fortune that when literally every one of you heard Sarah Palin was McCain’s choice, your first thought was, “Sarah who?” And that kind of says it all. Now, if the answer to that question had included a dazzling resume of actual achievements and successes, we might have grounds to argue that McCain wasn’t either clinically insane monumentally cynical when he nominated her. Unfortunately, that resume is less than nothing.

Let’s give the final word to our arch-ultra-mega-conservative friend at Powerline linked above, someone I never would have thought I’d ever link to here.

It’s true, of course, that no governor really obtains meaningful national security or foreign policy experience. (Many Senators don’t get much of it either, though by voting on these issues they at least enable us to test their judgment). But governors who have served for an extended period of time obtain important executive administrative experience that is directly relevant to serving as president. It’s very difficult to find someone with both extensive executive experience and a background in foreign policy/national security. People like the current vice president don’t grow on trees. But we expect one or the other from a nominee for president. Palin lacks both.

That’s why those who defend Palin’s qualifications typically end up moving to more defensible terrain — the argument that her credentials compare favorably to Obama’s. This may constitute an additional reason to vote for McCain, but it’s not a defense of McCain’s selection of Palin.

Big kudos to him for telling the truth, and to myself for having the tolerance to read his post through and then link to it despite the pain of linking to a site that once referred to our boy president as a man “approaching genius.” (Same blog, different blogger.)

Anyway, expect to hear this chorus again and again: to point out St. Sarah’s deficiencies and mistakes and outright incompetence is snide, elitist, nasty, cruel and desperate. It’s not. These things merit discussion, and it is beyond all belief that we are willing to sequester away the person who may be our next president because we are afraid she may not be ready to communicate with the press. Virtually unprecedented. She could be your president in three months. I admire the candidate’s intelligence, speaking ability, charisma and her having the strength of conviction to give birth to a Down’s syndrome baby. They are noble qualities, but not nearly enough to entrust to her the keys to mankind’s destiny.


Defence firms go for Clinton – wary of McCain

Interesting article from the Guardian:

McCain pro-military, but worries defense firms

Sen. John McCain, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, strongly supports the war in Iraq and those in uniform, but his investigations of major weapons deals have defense industry executives uneasy.
Privately, some defense company officials say they are backing Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, one of the two remaining contenders for the Democratic nomination, who they see as a better ally for the industry in the longer-term.

Do firms see Clinton as being able to keep the gravy-train running and turn an eye to dodgy-deals? Certainly if there is evidence it would prove useful to McCain in a show-down against his colleague from New York. At the least McCain can use his past investigations to buff his own defence credentials. Few would vote against someone because they cleaned up procurement, and veterans/servicemen and women would like the idea of money going to buy them more equipment rather than boost company profits.

On the other hand the fact Clinton clearly leads the field in donations from defence firms could raise voter suspicions, especially if this were to increase after the Democrat nomination closed.



The Fates smile on McCain, laugh at Giuliani

As I suggested earlier this month, Giuliani effectively left his campaign in the hands of the Fates by waiting until Florida to really campaign. McCain’s victory in that state demonstrates that his choice was a poor one – the hare spent so long sleeping under the tree that the tortoise was already approaching the finishing line by the time he got up.

Clearly McCain is the Republican front-runner – Giuliani’s has endorsement will help him in large states such as New York, New Jersey and California. Not all votes will go McCain’s way, but Romney is kidding himself if he thinks he can win a majority of Rudy’s backers. Although Super Tuesday may not give McCain an automatic victory in getting the magic number of delegates, I believe he will get enough to ensure the following states fall into line.

So, after McCain was written off a few months ago, how did it all turn around? I’m not sure anyone can easily put their finger on it. It’s many things, such as Huckabee stopping Romney gaining momentum in Iowa so New Hampshire could go to the senator from Arizona. News reports from Iraq improved and the immigration debate disappeared from many people’s minds when the legislation in question was killed off.

But at the end of the day I think his one strong point has been his image (I make no comment on whether that is true or not) as the “Straight Talker”, the guy who does actually believe in something and will stick with that even if people don’t like it. Romney, who was happy to tell people what they wanted to hear, was unable to come across as a reliable, honest candidate despite spending millions of dollars in every state to get his message across. This should please even Democrats, as it shows Americans can’t be fooled by someone just throwing money at the TV and radio stations.



Did the “Fred factor” win South Carolina for McCain?

(With respect to Richard I am not commenting on the Democrat race today)

Looking at key counties that voted big for Bush in 2000, Fred Thompson was taking a lot of votes that potentially could have gone to Huckabee. For example:


Huckabee – 16,775
McCain – 15,297
Thompson – 12,438


Huckabee – 10,297
McCain – 8,232
Thompson – 5,893

The open nature of the Republican race helped McCain in Iowa, as Huckabee’s victory over Romney stopped the latter getting momentum. As a result McCain took New Hampshire. Now Thompson may have helped McCain (not necessarily handing him the victory) again in South Carolina.

And South Carolina does matter. It has selected the Republican nominee for a long time, and it’s where McCain foundered in 2000. It will be a great confidence boost to him and his crew to win this time. With Florida coming up in a bit over a week McCain will get a boost and Giuliani, ahead for months, will be kicking himself about that. McCain has always been his biggest rival.

I think Huckabee and Thompson have lost their chance. The former should have won tonight and the former needed to come second/near to the front-runner (16% is not enough). Even if they get support elsewhere it will probably be too little too late. That leaves Giuliani and Romney to compete against McCain – at this time I’m not sure they can.

Those who wrote him off as early as late last year must feel really embarrassed now.



Was the Economist right all along?

The Economist – The case for John McCain (Lexington, 6th December 2007)

There are signs that Republicans are swallowing their doubts about Mr McCain. He is gaining some momentum in New Hampshire (he is barely campaigning in Iowa because he has long ridiculed the absurd ethanol subsidies with which many farmers there line their pockets). The New Hampshire Union Leader gave him a ringing endorsement this week. He is creeping back up the polls nationally, and is now coming second to Mr Giuliani. Republicans need to keep swallowing. Mr McCain is surely worth another look.

Even as recently as last month McCain was still written off by many pundits, yet the Economist’s picture of the battle between McCain and Giuliani as being like the story of the tortoise and hare seems to be coming true. The former mayor of New York’s polling is being punished by his poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, even in states where he thought he had it wrapped up, whereas the McCain election campaign has got it right so far.

Rudy Giuliani eyeballs poll disaster

As recently as early last month, Giuliani was almost 15 points clear of the field in national polls; he was 33 points ahead in his native New York and 15 points up in Florida, which holds its primary on January 29. But a series of embarrassing political setbacks has knocked his legs from under him.

In one national poll last week, he plunged to third place among Republican candidates, with only 16% of the vote. In New York on Friday a Survey USA poll showed that his lead over John McCain, the surging Ari-zona senator who won the New Hampshire primary, had sunk to just three points. Even Florida, long targeted by Giuliani as his ideal state to launch a winning campaign, is turning into a minefield. In a poll last Friday, he slipped into second place, eight points behind McCain.

The race isn’t over by a long-shot, but the idea that McCain is only three points behind in his opponent’s backyard boggles the mind.

Giuliani’s mistake was to rely too much on his post 9/11 reputation. It should have served as a base to gain notoriety and nothing more. But he keeps talking about it far too much, as if it’s the only thing he has. That won’t help him in a race against Clinton or Obama.

Indeed, once again, it’s the senator from Arizona who is pushing the leading Democrats according to this poll. As the Economist suggested, if Republicans want a chance at keeping the White House they need to keep swallowing down on whatever concerns they have about him – he’s the only credible chance they have now.

As for Rudy:

“Either Rudy is a genius, and is about to defy half a century of conventional political wisdom,” noted one leading New York Democrat last week. “Or he has run the most stupid presidential campaign in history.”

We shall see, but from this point on I think his campaign is in the hands of the Fates, not his own. That’s not a good position for a politician to be in.




IQ of Kerry vs bush voters

Now this is really interesting. It’s a chart demonstrating quite dramatically that the lower the average IQ of a state’s population, the more likely it was to vote for bush. Read the description of the methodology at the end. While I can’t say if this would hold up to detailed scrutiny, it’s certainly eye-opening.


A different perspective

There’s always more than one way to look at things. I savored these bullets, which drive home just how broad the president’s new mandate really is.

— This is the largest number of people who have ever voted AGAINST a president

— 1% more than 50% is not a mandate but a bare, thin, majority.

— At 80% approval after 9-11 and guaranteed a landslide election by prognosticators 2 years ago, only half the country supports him

— A president who leads a divided country owes it to all Americans to lead fairly or have his party face the consequences begining in 2006. No one else is here to blame

— Assuming Bush gets New Mexico and Iowa, he will have gotten the lowest percentage of electoral votes (54%) of any incumbent running for reelection since Wilson. If those two states should swing Kerry’s way (NM might), it’ll be even lower.

— He will have won with the lowest percentage of the popular vote (51%) of any incumbent running for reelection since Truman (well, technically since Clinton, but he also ran against Perot, who was a more significant 3rd-party candidate than Thurmond and Wallace were in ’48)

— He will have won by the lowest margin of the popular vote (3.5M) of any incumbent running for reelection since Truman (2.1M, and back then only 50M voted).

Of course, shrub behaved as though he beat Gore by a huge landslide in 2000. I’m afraid now he’s going to think he’s lord emperor, if not god himself.

Update: A picture’s worth 1,000 words, so here’s a pie chart showing bush’s massive victory.


Graphic via Pandagon.


The world reacts


And that’s from a member country in the “Coalition of the Willing”!


Some deep wisdom from Digby

What a great analysis.

I’m too weary and dispirited right now to get into the inevitable fight that’s gearing up within the party, but suffice to say I don’t agree that we lost because we weren’t liberal enough. But, neither was it because we weren’t culturally conservative enough or populist enough.

I believe it was simply because we weren’t entertaining enough and that’s the sad truth. I think that Democrats are serious, earnest and substantive people. We are the reality-based community. And I think we top out at about forty eight percent of the population.

For everybody else politics is show business, whether in religious, political or media terms. Image trumps substance,charisma and personality trump everything. I don’t find George W. Bush appealing in any way because my vision of an attractive politician is that he be smart, competent and rhetorically talented. But, to many people, politics is interesting because of the spectacle and the tribal competition and they just aren’t interested in any other aspects of it. (See the PEW poll.) Oh, they mouth all the right platitudes about values and all, but this is not about governing for them because they have been taught that government is only relevant to their lives in that it houses their enemies — liberals who want to take things from them and force things on them. This is a reality TV show and they want to vote someone off the island.

It’s clear that a small majority of the country buy Junior’s “Top-Gun” act. His youthful failures are seen as acts of anti-hero rebelliousness. His smart ass attitude is the sign of a macho rogue. He isn’t the smartest guy in the class and he’s often in trouble, but he’s a fearless warrior when it counts. His image is of a fun loving rascal who found himself in an extraordinary position and rose to the occasion. I know it’s bullshit, but that’s the archetype that his handlers have laid upon him and it’s a role he plays with relish.

We have always chosen leaders for superficial as well as substantive reasons. It’s not fair to say that Democrats aren’t seduced by their own archetypal dreamboats. But, Bush is a new paradigm and we need to study him and recognize its power. He is a character created out of whole cloth by marketing and political people for the single purpose of appealing to a specific portion of the population that can guarantee a small political majority without having to compromise in any way with the opposition to enact an agenda. He’s the first gerrymandered president.

(Emphasis mine; this is a huge post and you should read it all.)

The first gerrymandered president. A marketing creation. It is such an eerie phenomenon, one so out of the sphere of traditional American politics, I can only look at it with a sense of wonder and dread. Aspects of Reagan were also the products of marketing, but the core was real — no matter what we think of him, he had his ideals and principles, and he certainly had outstanding and time-proven leadership abilities. With shrub, we have a…shrub. Pondscum repackaged for the far-right as a great leader.

And to those who say I am a bush-hater and I am out of touch, and that most Americans see him as a great leader so they must be right…. All I can say in response is that 1.) bush earned my hate one step at a time, and I went out of my way to give him every benefit of every doubt; 2.) nearly 50 percent of the country voted against him and 3.) most of the people of the world seem to be more in my camp than that of the bushies. So I’m sure not alone here.

As we know, second-term presidents, for whatever reasons, are often plagued with crises. I can’t back it up with any evidence, but I’m going to guess shrub will be engulfed in crisis and scandal sooner than any of us imagine. And don’t worry, I’ll be right here ready to report on them as they occur.


A single-issue victory?

I think so, and so does this blogger.

“It could not have been clearer if it had quoted from the Bible,” – John C. Green, a University of Akron professor who studies religion and politics. According to the Washington Post, “Green described one piece of mail from the Bush campaign that featured a beautiful church and a traditional nuclear family. It was headlined, ‘George W. Bush shares your values. Marriage. Life. Faith.'” That’s how they did it. The war was not the issue. Gays were.

Is there some irony here, that Sullivan has pounded the gay mariage drum louder than anyone, and now his dream has backfired, providing invaluable grist for Rove’s GOTV mill?

I’d have to say it is ironic, and maybe Sully should have known better. I’ve never been a vocal advocate of the issue because, while I believe in it, I know it’s an idea whose time hasn’t come — certainly not in Puritan America, where the sight of Janet Jackson’s breast on TV could set off a whirlwind of self-righteous indignation and horror.

I know a lot of Republican voters couldn’t give a damn about this, and voted for bush because they believe he’s more serious on national security or a stronger leader or he stays the course or whatever. But this issue, gay marriage, was the heart and soul of Rove’s successful appeal to get out the new conservative voters, and it worked brilliantly, with 22 percent of bush voters saying it was moral issues, not Iraq or Osama or tax cuts, that impelled them to pull the lever. Many hadn’t voted in the last election. The ingredient that got them out was homophobia, with anti-gay-marriage proposals on the ballot in 11 states.

So again, gay marriage wasn’t the only reason bush won. But it was the driving force behind the upsurge in right-wing voters who propoelled the GOP over the top. As Sully says, gays were the issue.