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The Dangling Conversation
May 30, 2008 12:56 AM   Subscribe

"People are talking, but no one is really listening. For all the fun and fantasy that can be had following this election on the internet, the overriding impression it gives after a while is of tuning into thousands of people as they sit in their cars and complain about the traffic." David Runciman on "The Cattle-Prod Election."
posted by nasreddin (52 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
This, I think, is particularly insightful:
Now that the primary season has nearly run its course, a different pattern can be seen. Followed day by day, the race for the Democratic nomination has been the most exciting election in living memory. But viewed in retrospect, it is clear that it has been quite predictable. All the twists and turns have been a function of the somewhat random sequencing of different state primaries, which taken individually have invariably conformed to type, with Obama winning where he was always likely to win (caucus states, among college-educated and black voters, in the cities), and Clinton winning where she was likely to win (big states with secret ballots, among less well-educated whites and Hispanics, in rural areas). Even the initial drama of that week in early January – when Obama’s victory in Iowa had seemed to give him a chance of finishing Clinton off, only to be confounded by her victory in New Hampshire, which defied the expectation of the pundits and had them all speculating about what had swung it (was it her welling up in a diner? was it hastily rekindled memories of Bill? was it hints of hubris from Obama?) – turns out to have been an illusion. Iowa was Obama country (younger, smaller, caucus meetings) and New Hampshire wasn’t (older, bigger, voting machines). The salient fact about this campaign is that demography trumps everything: people have been voting in fixed patterns set by age, race, gender, income and educational level, and the winner in the different contests has been determined by the way these different groups are divided up within and between state boundaries. Anyone who knows how to read the census data (and that includes some of the smart, tech-savvy types around Obama) has had a good idea of how this was going to play from the outset. All the rest is noise.
posted by nasreddin at 1:21 AM on May 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


‘The typical citizen,’ Schumpeter wrote, ‘drops down to a lower level of mental performance as soon as he enters the political field. He argues and analyses in a way which he would readily recognise as infantile within the sphere of his real interests. He becomes a primitive again. His thinking becomes associative and affective.’

Apparently Mr. Runcian holds the same condescending attitudes. It does not occur to hi,m that the unwashed masses more often than not get it right. A majority of them - using a higher (not lower) level of mental performance - voted for Gore in 2000.

Don't blame the citizens for the corrupt political system and the corrosive influence of corporate money.
posted by three blind mice at 1:46 AM on May 30, 2008


The salient fact about this campaign is that demography trumps everything

What? Obama won large majorities in Oregon and Iowa among the same demographic groups who voted overwhelmingly for Mrs. Clinton in Kentucky and West Virginia.

The salient fact about this campaign is that geography, and not demography, trumps everything.
posted by three blind mice at 1:51 AM on May 30, 2008


Runciman yearns for the great conversation, but issues are irrelevant in the current system. Political parties are nothing but corrupt gangs who conspire to pervert our systems of government. Parties exist to subvert the proper functioning of the legislature, that is to make considered decisions.

As a voter, my relationship with political parties is not one of debate or conversation. It's more like an affiliation with a street-gang. If I give them my support, then they'll look after me. If I support the other gang, they'll slash the tires of my car. If "my" gang slash my car tires, then they've betrayed me - I curse them and support the other gang next time.

I yearn for a system where issues matter, where each decision is taken on its merits. That's not going to happen while political parties maintain their grip on the process.
posted by mr. strange at 1:54 AM on May 30, 2008 [17 favorites]


The salient fact about this campaign is that geography, and not demography, trumps everything.

That's just nitpicking. Whites in states with smaller numbers of blacks vote for Obama. So do Western whites as a group. His point isn't that demography trumps geography, it's that demography trumps the day-to-day narratives which everyone talks about as if they were the Day of Reckoning.

Apparently Mr. Runcian holds the same condescending attitudes. It does not occur to hi,m that the unwashed masses more often than not get it right. A majority of them - using a higher (not lower) level of mental performance - voted for Gore in 2000.

This kind of knee-jerk reaction is exactly what he's talking about.

He's not saying the elites are any better. He's just pointing out that politics tends to produce a particular kind of response.
posted by nasreddin at 1:58 AM on May 30, 2008


Aw man, I honestly misread the yellow-lettered linky bit as 'David Runciman on "The Cattle-Prod Erection"'.
posted by bunglin jones at 2:00 AM on May 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I read the article, but felt like I must have missed a key point. If demography trumps everything, then surely the same political party would keep winning for long periods, subject to generational changes (which would also be adjusted for by the political parties). Rapid shifts in ideological leadership basically boil down to voter turnout, so even if fewer Americans overall want Obama as president, he'll win anyway if McCain can't motivate his supporters to show up at the polling stations in sufficient numbers.

But that explanation doesn't work for Australia, where voting is mandatory. Or does it? We've just had 12 years of conservative government, and have only just shifted to slightly-less conservative government. Hm, that seems like a long time. But we've had landslide election wins too - the conservatives won a big majority in 1995, and that probably had a lot to do with how long they stayed in power.

From the article:
Anyone who knows how to read the census data (and that includes some of the smart, tech-savvy types around Obama) has had a good idea of how this was going to play from the outset.
So, has anyone done this and published the results?
posted by Ritchie at 2:21 AM on May 30, 2008


Runciman yearns for the great conversation, but issues are irrelevant in the current system. Political parties are nothing but corrupt gangs who conspire to pervert our systems of government. Parties exist to subvert the proper functioning of the legislature, that is to make considered decisions.

Mr. Stanges nails it.

His point isn't that demography trumps geography, it's that demography trumps the day-to-day narratives which everyone talks about as if they were the Day of Reckoning.

His point is the demography trumps "everything" and this is patently untrue.
posted by three blind mice at 2:35 AM on May 30, 2008


So, has anyone done this and published the results?

Back in February, right after Super Tuesday, the Obama campaign wrote up their projections for all the upcoming primaries in a spreadsheet. Although the margins are often off (they didn't predict the KY and WV blowouts) and once in a while they get things totally wrong (a win for Obama in Indiana), by and large they are surprisingly accurate--especially considering that the assumptions here are obviously very conservative for Obama. As of today, they're only off by 55 pledged delegates, despite these calculations being made before Wright, before "Bitter," before Tuzsla, before RFK.
posted by nasreddin at 2:37 AM on May 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


From my viewpoint these fixed demographic voting blocs he's talking about were established very late and were a surprise to everyone. I'm a college-educated white and I voted for Obama, but the fact that I was apparently pre-determined to do so only became clear to me very very late in the game; for a long time I simply assumed that the black candidate was unelectable and I didn't even really bother to look into his policies. And how exactly is it pre-determined demographically that we educated whites vote for Obama? Because we don't exactly have a history of voting for black presidential candidates. To me it seems that Obama made this momentum happen among my demographic group, and that this is a factor of Obama's political talent and vision and not an instance of established statistical law. Of course the author says that all this is only predictable in retrospect (which I'm pretty sure is meaningless). I would agree that at this point in the Democratic race, the factions are pretty well established and the outcome predictable; but I think there may also be some surprises on the McCain side once he has to position himself consistently to a national audience. Also, demographics may have become relatively important this time around simply because we have two Democratic contenders from traditionally unpresidential demographic groups, but that doesn't mean that the race isn't also about policy. To me this election conversation seems much more policy-oriented than the last two. In the last two, the conversation was basically: "I'd like to have a beer with that guy", "Are you shitting me? He's a fucking moron." Whereas this time around there is widespread if not particularly wonky concern about the war and the economy, and I think McCain will have to answer some serious questions pretty soon and for his sake he'd better present substantial opinions.
posted by creasy boy at 2:53 AM on May 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Apparently Mr. Runcian holds the same condescending attitudes.

Indeed, it's ironic that he condescends to the same audience he wants to change. His writing defecates upon the average, mindless Obama voter from up on high, issuing whiny platitudes about how the Obama-Clinton campaign should have been run — it shouldn't be about the voters mindless love of Obama's rhetoric, but about the issues! — while injecting his distaste for how his candidate (Clinton) has been incapable of getting past "the black guy". Can't wait for the primaries to finish.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:57 AM on May 30, 2008


Hey, speaking of politics and different demographics I came across this blog post the other day by a hard-core Hillary Clinton supporter who is absolutely livid about "high information voters"
“Knowledgeable people with well-informed opinions about policy” like Pam Spaulding, and Steve Benen, and Joshua Micah Marshall? People who are so “informed” that they’ve chosen to support Barack Obama, a man with all of the political experience of a high school student government officer? People who’ve completely overlooked his lack of qualifications, his sexism, his race-baiting, his practicing of personal destruction politics against Clinton, while he hypocritically decries such practices? People who are part of an online group that has all the hallmarks of a cult of personality and who refuse to acknowledge that he’s not only unelectable, but that he shouldn’t be elected?

Uh, yeah. Thanks, Duncan, but I’d rather be with the “mushy middle” on this one; a majority of that middle has rejected Obama so far, so I think it’s doing pretty well. Certainly better than what used to be called the “reality-based community,” most of which has chosen to eschew Realityville in favor of Obamaland.
If you read the guy's followups in his own comment thread, he seems to think that McCain should win because the democratic party needs to be destroyed for nominating the "unelectable" candidate. After all the U.S. was able to "survive" 8 years of Bush, so we can handle at least 4 of McCain. But apparently we can't 4 years of Obama, because he's so unelectable
After seeing what Obama and his mujahideen have done to the party, it’s time for the Democratic Party to be destroyed and rebuilt from the ground-up. The best way of seeing that happen is contributing to Obama’s defeat against McCain, if Obama becomes the Dem nominee.
I've seen a handful of Hillary Supporters on the talking points memo comment section (as well as some hardcore Hillary sites like Hillaryis44.org), but most of them were either totally inarticulate and incoherent, or in some cases not all that vitriolic. It's interesting to read the thoughts of such a hard core Hillary Supporter expressed like this.

It's also interesting just how divisive this primary has been online. While most democrats still say they'd vote for either candidate in November. Online, supporters (at least most of those who blog and comment) seem to hate the other candidate as much as they do Bush.
posted by delmoi at 5:21 AM on May 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, has anyone done this and published the results?

There's also this this guy who's done projections based on demographics and done better then polls. and is attracting some attention.
posted by delmoi at 5:28 AM on May 30, 2008


News Flash: Hindsight is 20/20, according to history draft 1.5
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:55 AM on May 30, 2008


The annoying thing about this primary season is that it's been over for at least three months but everyone keeps pretending like there's an actual contest left. Obama pretty well wrapped it up after Super Duper Tuesday but no one in the news would ever talk about that fact. They keep hyping up these individual primaries like they make any difference to the final outcome at all. Clinton would have had to have won all the later primaries by something like 60 points to have ever caught up but they kept making big deals about 55%-45% wins and ignoring that the delegate count difference hardly changed.
posted by octothorpe at 6:03 AM on May 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here Runciman addresses the polls and the media narratives:
Given that American political life is generally so cut-throat, you might think there was room for a polling organisation that sought a competitive advantage by using the sort of sample sizes that produce relatively accurate results. Why on earth does anyone pay for this rubbish?

The answer is that in an election like this one, the polls aren’t there to tell the real story; they are there to support the various different stories that the commentators want to tell. The market is not for the hard truth, because the hard truth this time round is that most people are voting with the predictability of prodded animals. What the news organisations and blogs and roving pundits want are polls that suggest the voters are thinking hard about this election, arguing about it, making up their minds, talking it through, because that’s what all the commentators like to think they are doing themselves. This endless raft of educated opinion needs to be kept afloat on some data indicating that it matters what informed people say about politics, because it helps the voters to decide which way to jump. If you keep the polling sample sizes small enough, you can create the impression of a public willing to be moved by what other people are saying. That’s why the comment industry pays for this rubbish.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:36 AM on May 30, 2008


There's also this this guy who's done projections based on demographics and done better then polls. and is attracting some attention.

Ah! thank you.
posted by Ritchie at 7:36 AM on May 30, 2008


After seeing what Obama and his mujahideen have done to the party, it’s time for the Democratic Party to be destroyed and rebuilt from the ground-up. The best way of seeing that happen is contributing to Obama’s defeat against McCain, if Obama becomes the Dem nominee.

it amazes me that people who say that kind of thing don't realize that if the republicans win, they're the ones who are going to be blamed for it - basically he's arguing that the democrats should be a less harsh version of the republican party
posted by pyramid termite at 7:48 AM on May 30, 2008


creasyboy: "From my viewpoint these fixed demographic voting blocs he's talking about were established very late and were a surprise to everyone. I'm a college-educated white and I voted for Obama, but the fact that I was apparently pre-determined to do so only became clear to me very very late in the game; for a long time I simply assumed that the black candidate was unelectable and I didn't even really bother to look into his policies. And how exactly is it pre-determined demographically that we educated whites vote for Obama?"

Actually those trends were apparent very early on to the insiders. The campaigns have been doing their own polls forever, starting with their exploratory committees even before announcing their runs. And the emergence of demographic voting trends from day one is exactly why cross tabs are the real meat and potatoes of polls. Campaigns formulate and adjust their message based how various demographics are responding to polls, which is why it was so stupid for Clinton to hire the same guy to do both the strategy and polling. It's confirmation bias: Penn kept insisting that his polls showed that his strategy was working, even though the Clinton camp was forced to replace their message again and again (remember it was the experience to lead, then the experience to make change happen, then I'm the most electable, and on and on). Obama's camp meanwhile figured out that "change" polled strongly with his core demographic groups and tailored his whole campaign around it. For instance, Clinton had all the big donors locked up and forced Obama to turn to small donors, but he pivoted and recast that necessity as a virtue by adopting an anti-lobbyist stance in fundraising strategy while defining "change" as upending the lobbyist status quo in Washington. (Nevermind that many lobbyists are lobbying to change existing policies.) Nowadays the "change" message is polling so strongly that even Republicans are jumping on the "change" bandwagon, and many commentators credit the youth demographic for this influence in the messaging of this year's election cycle.

The "surprises" that deviated from demographic projections can be accounted for by the media climate (Obama lost Indiana after weeks of terrible media coverage) and the actual campaigning (Clinton lost Maine due to hardly contesting while her campaign was in disarray after Feb 5th, as well as her obsession with focusing on Texas and Ohio). The real crux is turnout: your demographic strategy may include a message that polls well with young people, for instance, but getting them out to actually vote is another issue entirely. (This is why Iowa was such a shocker.) There's no doubt that Obama's camp has done a tremendous job turning his appeal with certain demographics into actual votes. In the end, Obama's victory comes not from his oratory, but from extremely competent management and sheer manpower: figuring out how to organize all that enthusiasm into the canvassers, phone bankers, and $25 donations that turned his targeted demographic appeal into a decisive advantage. While Clinton had (and continues to have) strong support within her own demographics, she never managed to put all the pieces together in her campaign.

And that's one thing Obama supporters often dismiss: how strong and unyielding Clinton's support is within her core demographic niches. Polling shows that her support has held fairly constant throughout the campaign, and her supporters have stayed with her through thick and thin. It's not so much so much that Obama is winning over her supporters over as that she lost support from everywhere else: almost all the undecideds and minor-candidate supporters broke straight for Obama. And demographically, it means everything outside of older/Appalachian crowd broke against her: key former Clinton constituencies (such as Hispanics) are now in Obama's camp. The unyielding Clinton support is bad news for Obama, because it means he truly needs to make serious inroads with older voters and Appalachian whites (Obama actually does plenty well among females once you adjust for those two factors). But it's worse news for Clinton: however ardent her supporters may be, Clinton's campaigning throughout the months has utterly failed to broaden her demographic appeal, and has in fact managed to drive everyone else away into the Obama camp (from 20% in 2007 to 50% now). Clinton supporters may bristle at their candidate being labeled as "polarizing" or "divisive", but the huge upswing for Obama in the polls is damning: Obama's campaign has gained massive converts over the months while Clinton's campaign is primarily defensive in its increasingly narrow demographic appeal. Her campaign is hanging on to her supporters by playing to harden their support without making any demographic inroads against Obama. In other words, by pandering so aggressively to her demographic base in West Virginia and Kentucky, Clinton has lost almost all the other demographic groups and is now in no position to be the nominee, even if it were mathematically possible to catch up to Obama in delegates. And that's the kind of shift in demographic support that polls couldn't have predicted months ago.
posted by DaShiv at 8:05 AM on May 30, 2008 [17 favorites]


Man. A great conversation with Baron Von Talkenstein over there at the link would just about kill me, I think.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:10 AM on May 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's also interesting just how divisive this primary has been online

Its divisiveness was and continues to be completely predictable. Obama's website from the outset divided voters almost exclusively along classical "identity issue politics" - racial and gender identity and sexual orientation. But Hillary's candidacy also implicitly played to gender identity as well, her rallies at this point are attended almost entirely by women. So what happens? The primary vote breaks along identity lines. The only reasons this wasn't completely obvious in the beginning is because you had Edwards muddy the waters.

Polls are hopelessly inaccurate and useless because they are intended to be. But it's good blog fodder, and it makes a good substitute for considered thought. It amounts to John Madden calling the events on the field of NFL games without a clue as to the strategy in the coaches' minds that is driving that action.

People are still quoting national polls showing that Obama can beat McCain. Why? Because it makes them feel good. That is the only reason. Too bad for them that the election of the president is not in any way based on the national popular vote. Gore indisputably won the national popular vote, but that fact didn't even get mentioned in his legal battle over a few hundred votes in a couple of counties in FL. Because the lawyers, his staff, and everyone else know that it was completely irrelevant.

Secondly, the polls we see are beyond stupid. The market research done for breakfast cereals contains a greater granularity of information about consumer preference than these polls do. And you should see the data collected by Arbitron or AC Neilsen for TV and radio ratings. Are we supposed to believe that no one is doing the same deep analysis of voters for this election? Of course they are, but the public will never see that analysis.

And Schumpeter's insight is as brilliant today as it was then. Are people really looking deep into the candidate's experiences and proposals to determine what is best for the country? No they aren't because none of the candidates have made any proposals longer that 250 words about any single issue. The reason they haven't is because the voters don't demand it. We care a lot about Obama's insight into race, which will be very helpful in dealing with absolkutely none of the pressing issues facing the country, but I guess that doesn't matter.

Nowadays the "change" message is polling so strongly that even Republicans are jumping on the "change" bandwagon, and many commentators credit the youth demographic for this influence in the messaging of this year's election cycle.

This is precisely the point Schumpeter addresses. What the hell is a "change message"? That we don't like the current guy so we want to change to a new guy? How about they tell us exactly what they intend to change and what they want to change it to?

Of course, Republicans are equally guilty of short-sighted superficial thinking. They turned up their noses at Romney, who is probably the most educated and qualified presidential candidate in the last 50 years, because in their ignorance they believed that Mormons are not Christians. So instead of picking a guy who actually understands all the problems the country is facing, they instead got a war hero from four wars ago who has openly admitted he doesn't understand these problems.

The country has refused to reflect on its problems. Specifically, the people have refused to acknowledge that their own ignorance and greed led to this problem, because doing so would make them feel bad. So instead they vote for the rock star who makes them feel happy. Nothing has to change as long as people feel happy.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:25 AM on May 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


none of the candidates have made any proposals longer that 250 words about any single issue
posted by Pastabagel at 8:25 AM on May 30


i'm not going to do your homework for you but you are embarrassingly wrong

http://www.barackobama.com/issues/
http://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/
http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/issues/
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:39 AM on May 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


...he seems to think that McCain should win because the democratic party needs to be destroyed for nominating the "unelectable" candidate....It's interesting to read the thoughts of such a hard core Hillary Supporter expressed like this.

Personally, I doubt he is a Hillary supporter and is more likely a "dittohead" following the advice of Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos, calling for Republicans to go out and vote for Hillary Clinton in open primary states and to disrupt online discourse (ala our very own Metaman).
posted by ericb at 8:41 AM on May 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I agree. It reads like a Republican.

People don't vote on "issues." They vote on worldviews, that is, which candidates' best match their own.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:53 AM on May 30, 2008


Its divisiveness was and continues to be completely predictable. Obama's website from the outset divided voters almost exclusively along classical "identity issue politics" - racial and gender identity and sexual orientation.

It divided up its website into sections based on what people might be interested in,and one group of subsections is based on 'people' which includes classical identity groups as well as those divisive categories of 'students', 'environmentalists', 'Americans abroad' 'kids', 'people of faith' and 'veterans'

No they aren't because none of the candidates have made any proposals longer that 250 words about any single issue.

This a serious question, have you ever actually been to the Obama website? His offical health care plan is 15 pages, and the first page on healthcare on his website has about 2,000 words and lots of links. Edwards and Clinton had very detailed healthcare plans as well. To say that none of the candidates have written more then 250 words is completly and absolutly false.

And frankly, if you're going to be that wrong about the basic facts why in gods name do you expect anyone to listen to a word you say? How hard is it to know what you're talking about?

I was all set to sort of respond politely, but as I think about it just pisses me off more and more. You wrote 650 words in that comment and it's just all garbage since you don't even get the most basic facts correct.
posted by delmoi at 8:58 AM on May 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


> Personally, I doubt he is a Hillary supporter

This sounds a little like a "No true Scotsman..." to me; there are plenty of Hillary supporters out there who would be happier to see the Democratic party lose the general election completely -- thus validating their claims that Hillary is the One True Candidate -- than to have to eat crow if Obama won. Hell, I know several of them. People get very, very invested in the cult of personality that surrounds major political candidates.

I suspect there are probably a hardcore group of people in the Obama camp that feel the same way as well, it's just that since his campaign is going well, that core is concealed behind lots of more moderate supporters. The Clinton campaign has been faltering (some would say, has already failed) and thus the base has been stripped away until only the most ... dedicated ... remain.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:04 AM on May 30, 2008


Hell, I was hoping for a dissertation about the Simon and Garfunkel song.

You're a stranger now unto me
Lost in the dangling conversation.
And the superficial sighs,
In the borders of our lives.


Oh. Maybe we were talking about the song.
posted by bigskyguy at 9:05 AM on May 30, 2008


Media outlets haven't talked much about Obama being ahead since Super Tuesday is that he didn't (and still doesn't) have the delegates to win, just a solid lead. Strange, strange things happen in politics. They're still printing the "Dewey Defeats Truman" photo in textbooks, who'd want to be mentioned alongside it?
posted by Harkins_ at 9:08 AM on May 30, 2008


oh, you read your hillary dickinson
and i my barack frost ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:08 AM on May 30, 2008


Media outlets haven't talked much about Obama being ahead since Super Tuesday is that he didn't (and still doesn't) have the delegates to win, just a solid lead. Strange, strange things happen in politics. They're still printing the "Dewey Defeats Truman" photo in textbooks, who'd want to be mentioned alongside it?

It's a solid enough lead that Hillary can't make up the difference. There's also no Santa. I am sorry.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:10 AM on May 30, 2008


She could still take the nomination (despite yesterday's blow in the FL/MI delegates), though it would take a very implausible near-unanimity of the superdelegates to do it. Until one of the candidates passes the ~2,025 goal, it'd be wrong to even call them the "presumptive" nominee.

I'm not speaking as a supporter of Clinton, Obama, or Santa here, I'm just trying to explain the mindset I've seen while covering the election.
posted by Harkins_ at 9:29 AM on May 30, 2008


She could still take the nomination (despite yesterday's blow in the FL/MI delegates), though it would take a very implausible near-unanimity of the superdelegates to do it. Until one of the candidates passes the ~2,025 goal, it'd be wrong to even call them the "presumptive" nominee.

I'm not sure those two statements gel. If the only way Clinton's getting the nomination is for some science fiction scenario to become reality, in direct defiance of every augury indicating that this is absolutely not about to happen, then calling Obama the "presumptive" nominee only makes sense -- I presume he will be the nominee, as there is almost no possibility of anything else happening here, just as I presume I will not be struck by lightning out of a clear blue sky. I can see how those of you who cover the election may have something invested in painting the situation otherwise -- a horserace is a far more exciting story than is one candidate's baffling choice not to drop out while her opponent kind of shrugs and begins running for president -- but the contest is over.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:28 AM on May 30, 2008


To anyone who claims the democratic primary is over, are you willing to give me 25-to-1 odds if I put $100 on Hillary?
posted by king walnut at 10:36 AM on May 30, 2008


Hillary, You Didn’t Win. Now Don’t Whine -- "The sense of grievance that permeates the Clinton campaign hurts her and the Dems."
posted by ericb at 10:38 AM on May 30, 2008


are you willing to give me 25-to-1 odds if I put $100 on Hillary?

you're already betting the country, isn't that stiff enough for you?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:55 AM on May 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


No they aren't because none of the candidates have made any proposals longer that 250 words about any single issue.

This a serious question, have you ever actually been to the Obama website?
posted by delmoi at 11:58 AM on May 30


Holy fucking concrete thinking. Listen people, I have read their websites and their plans and everything else I can get my hands on. I didn't mean that they literally wrote less than 250 words. I meant that that given the magnitude of what they have articulated they want to do, their plans are woefully unsupported by studies, data, impact assessments, etc. Wow, his healthcare plan is 15 pages!!! That would take, like, 40 whole minutes to read! I'm not sure if I can handle all the high-falootin' policy specifics like "while health care costs continue to rise for families, CEOs of these insurance companies have received multi-million dollar bonuses."

Healthcare is 16% of US GDP. I'm supposed to support someone mucking around with 16% of the U.S. economy based on those 15 pages that are written with the sole purpose of pandering to voters? Did you even read it? Like other candidates plans. it's impossible to disagree with any of it because it's all completely uncontroversial. I want cheaper drugs too. Who doesn't?

Every single one of the items in on those pages, like "Increasing use of generics" would merit an exhaustive study in its own right.

But you know how I know that it's crap, as is McCain's and everyone else's? Because at no point in any of these documents will you find an instance where the proposal clearly articulates the negative impact of a policy on the people who are supposed to benefit from it. And there is always some indirect negative consequence. They never lay out the pro and cons of the policy for the target audience, they only lay out the benefits for you which are going to be subsidized by the sacrifices of others, preferably people you are likely to hate (see the CEO line above).

The level of discourse coming from the campaigns is already pretty shoddy, and it only gets worse as it gets filtered through various speakers, pundits, bloggers, etc.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:25 AM on May 30, 2008


I didn't mean that they literally wrote less than 250 words. I meant that that given the magnitude of what they have articulated they want to do, their plans are woefully unsupported by studies, data, impact assessments, etc.

Of course! How could we have so badly misinterpreted what you wrote? Shame on us!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:53 AM on May 30, 2008


Personally, I think the length of the primary and the intensive coverage of it has lead to a huge increase in the division between people in the Democratic Party. The longer it goes on the more defensive people have become about their personal choice of candidate.
posted by drezdn at 12:25 PM on May 30, 2008


Healthcare is 16% of US GDP. I'm supposed to support someone mucking around with 16% of the U.S. economy based on those 15 pages that are written with the sole purpose of pandering to voters?

First of all the government is already deeply intertwined in the health care industry. A good chunk of that 16% is medicare, medicade, SCHIP, etc. You've got laws like COBRA and HIPAA. And any of those health care plans are going to have to get through congress where they will be fleshed out in great detail regardless of who's president. But for me personally it's hard to imagine it getting worse then it already is, especially when so many other countries seem to do it so much better. I think Obama would do a much better job of getting healthcare passed because he seems to do a much better job of negotiating, bringing people onboard, etc. That is going to have a far greater effect in terms of what the ultimate policy adopted will look like then whatever they have on their website right now.

And that's just one issue. You said they didn't write more then 250 words on any issue. Now you said you didn't mean that "literally" although there was no indication you had any idea how much they actually had online or if you'd even ever been to their website.
posted by delmoi at 12:26 PM on May 30, 2008


king walnut, I’ve got a friendly poker game I’d like for you to attend.
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 12:55 PM on May 30, 2008


So is Pastabagel a literal viking or not?
posted by signal at 2:35 PM on May 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


To anyone who claims the democratic primary is over, are you willing to give me 25-to-1 odds if I put $100 on Hillary?

On intrade Hillary winning is trading at 8.5, giving 11.8 - 1 odds. If someone were to give you 25-to-1 odds, you could buy Obama contracts on intrade, and make a profit. But if you really think Hillary will win you can go blow your money there if you want.
posted by delmoi at 2:49 PM on May 30, 2008


Slate puts her chances at 0.4% which would be 250-to-1 odds.
posted by octothorpe at 3:16 PM on May 30, 2008


I don't think Hillary is going to win, and I don't want her to win.
Nobody has offered the 25-to-1. Just sayin.
posted by king walnut at 3:55 PM on May 30, 2008


I didn't mean that they literally wrote less than 250 words.

i say if david foster wallace hasn't written their campaign position papers, then they're nowhere near verbose enough
posted by pyramid termite at 8:49 PM on May 30, 2008


If you read the guy's followups in his own comment thread, he seems to think that McCain should win because the democratic party needs to be destroyed for nominating the "unelectable" candidate.

On this point.. it's been expressed that way out of sheer frustration. And the feeling that they're being shoved out in favor of Obama's new coalition, that he doesn't want their votes and won't try to win them. He's far enough ahead right now that he could try and be a little more decent to Hillary's camp, and I haven't seen that. I didn't hear him say that Pfleger's insults toward her were wrong - and McCain did. Sure he did it for political reasons. But I don't hear a lot of respect for Hillary and her supporters from Obama and the more it continues, the more it hurts him if he's the nominee.

There is a view that the Democratic party will suffer greater long-term damage under an Obama presidency than it would under McCain - Obama has been promising everything to too many constituencies and will soon begin disappointing one after the other because the expectations are so high. It could damage the Democratic brand for years to come, like Bush has done to the Republicans. It may be better to have McCain, who'll have a weak presidency and have to deal with a Dem majority in Congress. I don't know if I agree with this or not, I am still thinking about it, but it isn't about destroying the party, it's about not letting Obama take over the party which may be more destructive ultimately. Another concern is that by November, Obama may well be unelectable and it'll be a landslide defeat. I recall an early argument of his supporters that he'd be able to score a crushing victory (while Hillary would just be looking for 50+1) and have coattails for many Dem candidates. Now it's about trying to figure where he can pick up states in the West while likely losing Florida, Ohio, and (maybe) Pennsylvania, try to flip Virginia (?).. his electoral map looks a lot narrower than Hillary's.

Pastabagel, back when these things were still within the realm of possibility, I thought Romney might be the toughest GOP candidate to beat and also the least bad option (as a partisan Dem) to have as POTUS. Now we have McCain who doesn't seem to know much about the economy and (probably) Obama who, with his circle of centrist DLC types, I don't necessarily trust on the economy either.. . What a mess.
posted by citron at 12:56 AM on June 1, 2008


God, f*** a Slate magazine - I don't understand the rationale of that. Let's have the kids post a widget of Hillary drowning on their Facebook page! Sad. But I guess it wasted their developers' time building the widget & most of us are too savvy to add a bunch of stupid new apps anyway.
posted by citron at 12:59 AM on June 1, 2008


He's far enough ahead right now that he could try and be a little more decent to Hillary's camp,

but he's not far enough ahead to declare victory when he actually gets the delagates he needs to win? - some of hillary's supporters are being hypersensitive and unreasonable, and you're not going to hear a lot of respect for them if it continues

the problem is that they need to lose their sense of entitlement

There is a view that the Democratic party will suffer greater long-term damage under an Obama presidency than it would under McCain - Obama has been promising everything to too many constituencies and will soon begin disappointing one after the other because the expectations are so high. It could damage the Democratic brand for years to come

if that happens, and i don't deny the possibility, it'll be the fault of the congress as much as anyone else - already we've had a "mandate election" on the war in '06 - but the war goes on

obama will be able to do little if congress doesn't get its act together
posted by pyramid termite at 5:34 AM on June 1, 2008


God, f*** a Slate magazine - I don't understand the rationale of that. Let's have the kids post a widget of Hillary drowning on their Facebook page! Sad. But I guess it wasted their developers' time building the widget & most of us are too savvy to add a bunch of stupid new apps anyway.

Joan Walsh over at Salon seems to have her mouth permanently affixed to Hillary's fundament; perhaps some readers would find that more agreeable.

On balance, I think I prefer metaman's psycho ranting to this weird sort of concern trolling re: Obama's potential to "destroy" the democratic party -- which, in the past two contests, has been unable to defeat Chim-Chim from fucking "Speed Racer." If anyone's destroying the party (even further), it's Hillary, with her boundless sense of entitlement and willingness to vindictively maul at the person who is the candidate. I'll say this for the GOP: Most of them hate John McCain's guts -- certainly Bush is no fan -- but they've done an excellent job thus far of swallowing that and unifying to support him. Hillary, having lost, may want to pay closer attention.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:14 AM on June 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


God, f*** a Slate magazine - I don't understand the rationale of that. Let's have the kids post a widget of Hillary drowning on their Facebook page! Sad. But I guess it wasted their developers' time building the widget & most of us are too savvy to add a bunch of stupid new apps anyway.

Joan Walsh over at Salon seems to have her mouth permanently affixed to Hillary's fundament; perhaps some readers would find that more agreeable.

On balance, I think I prefer metaman's psycho ranting to this weird sort of concern trolling re: Obama's potential to "destroy" the democratic party -- which, in the past two contests, has been unable to defeat Chim-Chim from fucking "Speed Racer." If anyone's destroying the party (even further), it's Hillary, with her boundless sense of entitlement and willingness to vindictively maul at the person who is the candidate. I'll say this for the GOP: Most of them hate John McCain's guts -- certainly Bush is no fan -- but they've done an excellent job thus far of swallowing that and unifying to support him. Hillary, having lost, may want to pay closer attention.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:17 AM on June 1, 2008


And that was important. So I, um. Said it twice. Or anyway, my browser decided I would. Ahem.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:42 AM on June 1, 2008


I didn't hear him say that Pfleger's insults toward her were wrong - and McCain did. Sure he did it for political reasons. But I don't hear a lot of respect for Hillary and her supporters from Obama and the more it continues, the more it hurts him if he's the nominee. — citron
Seriously? On this past Saturday, during his announcement that he is resigning from Trinity, Obama said he is “deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger's divisive, backward-looking rhetoric.” On several occasions, I’ve heard Obama talk about Clinton with great respect, calling her “strong” and “tireless,” and commending her dedication to the country and the party. McCain, on the other hand, apparently believes that “How do we beat the bitch?” is an “excellent question.”
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 8:42 AM on June 2, 2008


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