You Go, Joe!

October 17, 2008

Here’s a healthy sign:  Bidden denounced a Palin statement.  It has for me been weird hearing her highly inflammatory statements echoing through the news with nothing but denials by Obama and Biden.  Palin has been treated like a little girl who should not be treated severely.  This has given her a sort of immunity to make the most outlandish statements which seems to be mobilizing a segment of the population that everyone prefers not to talk about.

Today Biden called her out for apparently identifying areas of “real America” as apparently opposed to geographical pockets of sedition.  This of course is  (I thought) by now a hackneyed tactic of setting Americans against each other for political gain.  All you need to do is fill some people (a majority) with self-righteous contempt for others or promote righteous doubt about the legitimacy of others, including candidates.  (Palin informs us that Washington D.C. is not pro-America and cities should be viewed with suspicion.) It seems so transparent but it still seems to work to some degree.  At least the tactic does not appear to be effective with a majority of the people.  At least not right now.

Anyway, I say call demagoguery out.  This tactic needs to be aired and revealed for what it is.


Obama’s Campaign and Its Critics

September 12, 2008

You sure hear people giving Obama a lot of advise lately.  Most everyone seems to be telling him what to do and what he’s doing wrong.  There seems to be almost a sense of panic among some people who support him.  It appears to me though that all that has happened since the two conventions is that things are back to where they were before the conventions, a virtual tie in national polls, maybe a nudge to McCain.

There seem to be two schools of thought: that Obama needs to focus on the issues, to get the focus back on the economy; and that Obama needs to develop a better “connection” with the voters.  The first group focuses on how the Republicans are succeeding in getting the focus off the economy and filling the news with silly things like supposed insults and the like, mostly involving Plain.

The second group says that the so called “character” issue, which seems to be a label for all non-policy based aspects of of a candidate’s appeal or difficulties, is likely to be determinative.  George Lakoff recently wrote an article that discusses this second approach.

The “get back to the issues” group points to Bill Clinton’s ability to get the focus on the economy as the key to his success in defeating H.W. Bush.  Lakoff points out that Reagan won despite most people disagreeing with him on most issues.

In a recent speech Obama tried so hard to address the issues that his speech lacked the emotional appeal that has characterized his addresses over the last year.  This suggests that he is taking his lead from the first group I discussed.

His campaign for the nomination though was based on “character” issues.  This certainly suggests that he would not be wise to abandon that aspect of appeal for an issues approach.

McCain and Palin have thrown their lot in with the approach pursued by Reagan, which seems appropriate since their policies are disfavored by a majority of people and their policies are seemingly identical to those of Bush a wildly unpopular president.  McCain’s soporific speeches even sound like Reagan’s speeches in terms of cadence  but sapped of the theatrical content that gave them weight.

Obama needs to find a voice that raises the “character” aspect of his presentation and at the same time calls our attention to matters of significance.  Accepting Sarah Palin’s challenges, and trying to address them, does not seem to do the trick.

McCain’s tv ad

June 17, 2008

Senator McCain is running a television ad in key states and on national cable which portrays him as a strong environmental leader. The ad is on you tube


The ad puts in sharp relief the inherent tension in McCain’s campaign. He is described as “standing up to the president.” This is softer than actually opposing his policies but at the same time distancing him from Bush.

McCain needs Bush’s support for fund raising and to secure Bush’s base but at the same time Bush is perhaps the least popular president ever, certainly in recent history. So McCain must present himself as a contrast to Bush.  The ad is accurate in portraying him as one of the few Republicans who acknowledged global warming and accepted the science that supported the theory when there was a presidential fiat declaring that there was no such thing.

He has chosen the environment and global warming as a signature campaign issue despite having refused to vote on all key environmental legislation in the Senate.

All the vague references to his interest and effort in the environmental arena are references to efforts in years past and certainly not to his recent voting record. He vaguely talks about a plan which as far as we can tell is quite similar to the one that just failed in Congress.  His recent record is absolutely the worst in the Senate for having failed to support anything. He is doing this in order not to lose support from utilities and industry.