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Rhetorical Questions
August 15, 2008 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Rhetorical Questions. "Who will win the presidential debates? What does each candidate’s use of words say about how he would govern as president? Can Obama’s rhetorical skills lift him to the heights of Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan—or will his speechmaking do him in? After watching all 47 (!) of the primary season’s debates, our correspondent has the answers—and some harsh criticism for the moderators."
posted by chunking express (86 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
oh god, when I read "Reagan" in that paragraph, some inner part of my soul cinched up tighter than a drum. After taking a breath, I realized they were saying that Reagan won thanks in part to his rhetorical skills, which I have to admit is true. But damn if it didn't squeeze the shit out of my stomach there for a second.
posted by shmegegge at 1:34 PM on August 15, 2008


I've made it my mission in life to answer rhetorical questions. The answers to your questions are, in order: a candidate, a lot, yes and yes.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:39 PM on August 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


Also, just once, I want one candidate to ask the other, face-to-face, "have you stopped beating your wife yet?". How they answer that will tell me all I need to know about them.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:40 PM on August 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


My personal memory of St Reagan centers on his Iran Contra-era nadir, but there's no denying that in the 1970s he had a message he could sell, and did.

Kinda like Gov Bush vs. Dumbshit Bush now, I guess.
posted by yort at 1:43 PM on August 15, 2008


Oh, we're still pretending the debates matter after what happened in 2004?
posted by mullingitover at 1:43 PM on August 15, 2008 [9 favorites]


I have to admit I haven't read the whole very long article, but I grabbed this out of a too brief skim:

Every administration turns on the president’s cast of mind: Bill Clinton’s startling gifts of intelligence and even more startling lack of self-discipline; George W. Bush’s toxic combination of decisiveness and lack of curiosity; Ronald Reagan’s sunniness and lack of interest in detail. But for some presidents, cast of mind is a central feature—the person, much more than the plan, represents the promise of the presidency. Obama is one of these.

which is an interesting point, I think. Anecdotally, I know that (although there are definitely platform planks and viewpoints he has that I'm a supporter of) I believe more in the person than I do in McCain the person, and more than I did in Hillary the person. This feels to me like a significant factor in my decision to support him.
posted by shmegegge at 1:47 PM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, just once, I want one candidate to ask the other, face-to-face, "have you stopped beating your wife yet?". How they answer that will tell me all I need to know about them.

This fits well with what I want from debates, since just once I'd like to see one candidate punch another candidate dead in the face.
posted by shmegegge at 1:49 PM on August 15, 2008 [7 favorites]


"Sir, when did you stop beating your wife?"
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:51 PM on August 15, 2008


Here's hoping for a McCain temper flare-up.
posted by Sweetdefenestration at 1:56 PM on August 15, 2008


I'll write in a vote for anyone who can get a rhetorical question to survive on AskMe.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:00 PM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, we're still pretending the debates matter after what happened in 2004?

Yeah, unless McCain has a major "senior moment" or uses a racial slur, I don't see how the debates are going to matter.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:01 PM on August 15, 2008


Wait? We have debates? I thought those were pee-wee softball exhibitions.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:15 PM on August 15, 2008


Obama never stopped beating Bill Clinton's wife.
posted by Knappster at 2:17 PM on August 15, 2008 [19 favorites]


For better and worse, if Obama wins, a thinking president is what we’ll have.

I need a cigarette after that thought.
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:19 PM on August 15, 2008


Oh, we're still pretending the debates matter after what happened in 2004?

What happened (or did not happen) in 2004?
posted by Slap Factory at 2:32 PM on August 15, 2008


or uses a racial slur

McCain actually takes pride in saying "gook" but nobody cares because he puts country first, you know.
posted by matteo at 2:34 PM on August 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


What happened (or did not happen) in 2004?

that Kerry won the debates and won them big (Bush also looked like he was wearing some sort of wireless contraption in order to appear less inept at rational thought -- and at speaking correct English -- than he actually is). you might have noticed that didn't help Kerry that much.
posted by matteo at 2:37 PM on August 15, 2008


Man, debates with like 9 or 10 candidates really suck. I think that was one of the main reasons why the debates were so dull this year. Or last year, I should say.
posted by delmoi at 2:37 PM on August 15, 2008


Okay, now I'm RTFA and it's very good. As a writer, there's nothing I love more than a well-placed parentheses-encased exclamation mark:

But lacking Reagan’s outward haleness, [McCain] risks coming across like Dole against Clinton—or, more ominously, his fellow ex-POW James Bond Stockdale, who turned in a notoriously lost- and incoherent-sounding performance against Al Gore and Dan Quayle (!) in the 1992 vice-presidential debates.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:38 PM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gridlock!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:42 PM on August 15, 2008


Great read, thanks for posting it.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 2:52 PM on August 15, 2008


Kerry did get a noticeable boost in the polls from his debate wins in 2004 though. Not enough obviously but it was statistically significant.
posted by Riemann at 2:52 PM on August 15, 2008


Interesting. I like the Atlantic and enjoy the longer articles, but only in print. Online, I'm quietly raging "Get. to. the. damn. point."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:52 PM on August 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


BTW: This is actually a damn good post to the blue.
posted by Riemann at 3:04 PM on August 15, 2008


Who needs rhetorical questions?
posted by xod at 3:11 PM on August 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


Okay, so if Obama is going to do really well against McCain during the debates (which I think will be the case) why did he agree to so few? I don't get the Obama campaign sometimes.
posted by billysumday at 3:12 PM on August 15, 2008


I agree...it is hard to hear Reagan mentioned in the same breath as Lincoln and FDR. Lowers the bar.
posted by Chuffy at 3:17 PM on August 15, 2008


Because the moderators ask terrible questions, and will ask incredibly stupid questions of Obama while letting McCain get off pretty free.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:20 PM on August 15, 2008 [4 favorites]


billysumday--he didn't agree to "so few". He agreed to 3, which is normal.

McCain wanted 10, those being "town hall" formats, where he thought he could do better. Obama probably did not want to give McCain the opportunity, and perhaps more importantly, probably didn't want to let McCain set the terms.
posted by adamrice at 3:24 PM on August 15, 2008


billsumday, as mentioned in the article, there is no real incentive for them to do any debates, as they are coming into the campaign with a lead in the polls. They don't need face time in such a stupid environment where they have little control. The press loves Obama and will continue to cover him.
posted by chunking express at 3:25 PM on August 15, 2008


While the news coverage of the last several months would lead any sane person to expect the debates to be nothing more than a long series of:

"Mr. McCain, just how much of a hero are you for leading the SURGE to total victory in Iraq"
vs.
"Mr. Obama, have you stopped beating your wife?"

The actual moderators that have been selected are quite promising. Without someone like Blitzer running the "debate" Obama will eviscerate McCain.
posted by Riemann at 3:27 PM on August 15, 2008


Reagan is known as the "Great Communicator", but having heard him then, it's curious he got this title. What he was was a good actor, and could be believable, until they had statements clarifying and correcting what he said. When he had a script, he could follow it, but when it was off the cuff, he wasn't so good. Our current President is worse that way. It was during the debates with Mondale that I realized that Reagan had Alzheimers. One particular question sealed it when he forgot what the question, and used the old trick of falling back on describing something he was familiar with, which in this case was driving down the Pacific Coast Highway during sunset. Time ran out, and he looked confused, and he still won the election.

This was a really interesting article. I think that a point was missed regarding Obama and his debating skills. The author kept going back to the Obama versus Alan Keyes and how he was so off the cuff and having fun, but wasn't so good in the democratic debates. I think that this has to do with the actual differences in the candidates. There really wasn't that much difference between Obama and the other democratic candidates, but the difference between him and Allan Keyes is quite dramatic. It's easier to debate when you have real differences, when you're just trying to differentiate shades of gray it's much more difficult. I think we'll see more of this when he debates McCain. McCain comes across as someone who will do and say anything just to be president, and I think that will result in him getting his ass handed to him in the debates. Whether the debates actually mean anything remains to be seen.

Cool article. Thanks!
posted by Eekacat at 3:27 PM on August 15, 2008


As I understand it, McCain's offer of ten town hall debates was never really intended to be accepted. If Obama had accepted, he would have had to fly all over the country to locations of McCain's choosing, sacrificing time he could have otherwise spent campaigning in battleground states. Also, town hall debates could have easily been stacked with vitriolic audience members planted by the McCain campaign. So, it would have been stupid for Obama to accept.

So, basically, McCain extended the offer knowing Obama would probably refuse it, in an effort to make him look bad (my opponent won't even debate the real issues with me, because he's scared to!)
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:28 PM on August 15, 2008


and will ask incredibly stupid loaded questions of Obama

you will also notice that Obama's running mate is for all practical purposes Jeremiah Wright, no matter whom actually gets selected as VP by the campaign. McCain will get off pretty free because he has done exactly that until now and there's no reason to change the framing -- the Presidential election has been at this point framed as a referendum. not on George W Bush and the opportunity of giving him a third term through a surrogate, but a referendum on Obama. is he trustworthy? is he American enough? does he hate the poor enough? see also, Obama's running mate, Reverend Wright (just like 1988 -- you might have noticed Obama is the first black man to be nominated for President by a major party, but the Democrats already ran a black man as VP, in 1988 -- Willie Horton was duly selected by the GOP -- and approved by the "liberal media" as Dukakis's running mate and he remained his actual running mate until election day -- nobody really remembers poor Lloyd Bentsen, not as much as they remember the scary black dude who'll rape and kill your wife as Dukakis is on the phone renewing his ACLU membership).
posted by matteo at 3:34 PM on August 15, 2008 [6 favorites]


Wow, I forgot that the answer that Reagan responded to with that horrible smirky "there you go again" was about national health care. What a dick.
posted by octothorpe at 4:04 PM on August 15, 2008


you will also notice that Obama's running mate is for all practical purposes Jeremiah Wright

A name that hasn't seriously been in the news for months. Sure. matteo once again enlivens a political thread with bizzare nonsense, completely detached from reality, just like how he predicted the democrats would be crushed in 2006, as Americans flocked to the 'daddy party' and bla bla bla.
posted by delmoi at 4:16 PM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


The other day, someone asked me what I thought was the most important moment of the debates.

Ok, I admit it: I never watched a single debate, actively avoided all news coverage of anything to do with politics, and hit 'back' on any Metafilter thread on American politics that I accidentally wandered into. And I *like* politics.

My only redeeming moment is that I caught part of Obama's awesome speech on race by pure chance when listening to the radio in a friend's car, and did enjoy the resulting MeFi thread on that one.

So that makes this the second Metafilter thread (and post!) that I've managed to get through in about 12 months of election talk. It was interesting, and provided a good summary of everything I've successfully avoided over the past year. Thanks.
posted by librarylis at 4:29 PM on August 15, 2008


...unless McCain has a major "senior moment" or uses a racial slur, I don't see how the debates are going to matter.

You mean when the short, bald, old guy with yellowing teeth is standing up on stage next to the tall, handsome Prince Charming? That's when the debates are going to not matter?
posted by DU at 4:29 PM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sure. matteo once again enlivens a political thread with bizzare nonsense, completely detached from reality

Isn't that what popular politics is about? Fashionable nonsense, that can be argued over and over again without any real consequence, but leaving as a result the sensation that one has an opinion about something, without really having to understand the inside-out of a process which may require *gasp* actual work and reliable info sources. As an added bonus, one feels like having partecipated in the process, helping making a difference!

Yet as we don't like realizing being utterly ignorant and insignificant, we prefer to think we are not and often start parroting the ideas that most appeal to use, often without understanding why. The irritating ones, we react emotionally to, often not considering they were designed to provoke a reaction.

Notice, however, how efficiently matteo managed to re-evoke the association between Obama and that lunatic, in one sentence, which also lured you into further commenting, thus potentially starting a derail? Someone, when voting in the future, will remember that association and decide that, maybe, Obama is a lunatic by association :-)
posted by elpapacito at 4:38 PM on August 15, 2008


I like to smear peanut butter in between my pancakes, and then pour lots of syrup on them. I don't like eating a plate of beans for breakfast. Beans are for lunch and go good with Orange Crush. I used to have a crush on Mary Lou Retton back in 1980, until I found out she's a republican, but she actually looked good in that outfit. Did you notice that the girls in gymnastics today look like they still watch Sesame Street? I'm not talking about just the girls from China. The American girls also. It was very disappointing. Someone should tell the Olympic Committee, if you catch one that small, you should throw it back. You guys still think the debates matter? That's SO CUTE!
posted by ZachsMind at 4:50 PM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


And McCain denis association with Hagee
posted by elpapacito at 4:52 PM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd have to agree that Bush killed the idea that debates mean anything. I actually felt bad for the man during one of the Kerry/Bush debate because he looked so hapless and out of his depth. And 51% of the voting population still voted for the idiot.
posted by octothorpe at 4:56 PM on August 15, 2008


Also note that the association was ignored. Please tell us how you intend to vote, elpapacito. Oh yeah, you can't. You're a major bitcher, but you have no voice. Your balls sit without effect in your hand. Tell us again what you think, castrato.
posted by Eekacat at 4:58 PM on August 15, 2008


Isn't that what popular politics is about? Fashionable nonsense, that can be argued over and over again without any real consequence, but leaving as a result the sensation that one has an opinion about something

Maybe so, but Matteo's comments aren't even fashionable. He isn't arguing from a position of passion, or how he thinks the world should be, rather, he simply yammers on about how and why the democrats will lose, typically based on the average American being a xenophobic, narrow minded racist, terrified of the outside world. It gets a little old.
posted by delmoi at 5:02 PM on August 15, 2008


octothorpe: "...and 51% of the voting population still voted for the idiot."

You still think 51% of the voting population actually voted for that idiot? THAT'S SO CUTE!
posted by ZachsMind at 5:05 PM on August 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


EekaCat: "...but you have no voice."

You still think people who vote actually have a voice that is heard? THAT'S SO CUTE!
posted by ZachsMind at 5:07 PM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd have to agree that Bush killed the idea that debates mean anything.

Debates mean something. They don't mean everything.
posted by me & my monkey at 5:16 PM on August 15, 2008


he simply yammers on about how and why the democrats will lose, typically based on the average American being a xenophobic, narrow minded racist, terrified of the outside world. It gets a little old.

Yes for the ones who noticed, it does. I have little doubt political spinners are hard at work finding new material, only they are just saving it for the time people start noticing. I don't really remember when, in the last election , the flip-flop, the false military records , the grassroot for free astroturfing started. Maybe around october? I sure hope the scriptwriters aren't going to strike :)
posted by elpapacito at 5:22 PM on August 15, 2008


You still think an affectation of jaded cynicism is cool? THAT'S SO CUTE!
posted by DU at 5:24 PM on August 15, 2008 [15 favorites]


Why thank you, DU! =)
posted by ZachsMind at 5:33 PM on August 15, 2008


Me & My Monkey: "Debates mean something"

There has been an ongoing debate for two years in the scientific community over whether or not Pluto is still a planet. It's very amusing, but it means nothing.

Tell an American who still doesn't have medical coverage if the debate over National Healthcare Reform actually means anything.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:37 PM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


A name that hasn't seriously been in the news for months.

there's no need to name Wright anymore, the damage is done -- the framing of Obama as -- let's say "less American than McCain", if not outright "unAmerican" -- has become the theme of the campaign. a referendum on Obama being trustworthy as President. in 1988, the Willie Horton ad ran for two weeks. two weeks. then it was pulled. it did frame -- and sink -- Dukakis anyway. 15 days -- that's significantly less exposure than the "God damn America" clips already got. and 1988 was before the Internet anyway. as I said, it's a referendum on Obama now -- trustworthy enough? American enough? etc.

and by the way, you weren't paying attention back then -- you barely are now -- but you'll be surprised to discover that Bernard Shaw never mentioned Horton when he asked Dukakis the rape question at the debates. there was no need. Dukakis was already tarred as being OK with black rapists killing white women -- he was the one who let them out of jail, after all. the tarring of Obama works the same way. black skin + Muslim father + weird name + Muslim school in Indonesia + wife admits having never been proud of America until her husband got nominated for President + Wright = nevermind McCain, the election is a referendum about Obama

especially since the "liberal media" has insanely declared the "surge" a success, hence Iraq is finally doing OK according to that spin, thus shifting the burden from the warmongers like McCain to the anti-war people like Obama . people don't necessarily hate wars -- they hate wars they're losing. see WWII vs Vietnam -- strangely, the one that's hugely popular is not the one America lost. everyone likes winners -- voters especially.


It gets a little old.

unlike your blind faith in Lamont creaming Lieberman, in Speaker Pelosi pulling troops out of Iraq and impeaching Bush -- that does not get old, but funnier and funnier. my general point is that people like you -- whoever's using the "delmoi" account tonight, since -- not everybody may know this -- the "delmoi" account has a history of arguing wildly contradicting points in the same thread, often in broken English -- people like you, fascinatingly convinced that MetaFilter is quite in sync with the American electorate and hence the Gore, Kerry, and Obama endorsements happily made by the MeFi community at large actually mean something, well, people like you might be well advised to read a couple history books every once in a while, pay more attention to the news, and read Kos with a pinch of salt. it's not that I don't find the falling for all the "hope" talk endearing -- I do. but the reality of politics and big business is slightly more complicated -- see the Obama masterpiece on the telcom amnesty (don't let that crush the beautiful dream that President Obama will pull out of Iraq and send Bush & Cheney to jail, please)

unless, of course, you want to find yourself once again, this coming November 5, early in the morning, quite shell shocked and wondering what the fuck has happened. in that case, I friendly suggest stocking up on Maalox is a wise course of action.
posted by matteo at 6:04 PM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


ZachsMind, I posted with DU: I knew DU; DU was a friend of mine. ZachsMind, you're no DU.
posted by rollbiz at 6:16 PM on August 15, 2008


ZachsMind, perhaps it's quaint, but people who vote here in the states have more of a voice than some random dude in a European country. Last I checked the United States was a democracy that elected their leaders according to popular vote, and didn't consider what outside influences such as the european union, or South America in that calculation.

I have to admit, it's fun to watch folks like matteo and elpapacito flounder about as if they actually had some kind of influence. They're both cute, but they're both assholes crying in the wilderness. I voted this week in our primary, and I plan on voting in this falls' election. And, yes I might seem delusional, I feel like I have a voice. So sad for you.
posted by Eekacat at 6:18 PM on August 15, 2008


Eekacat: "Last I checked the United States was a democracy..."

Then you need to check again.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:20 PM on August 15, 2008


"I feel like I have a voice. So sad for you."

Not sad for me. I'm perfectly happy wallowing in the heated water like a declawed lobster.

You're the one who still sees the illusion. So sad for you.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:21 PM on August 15, 2008


That's so CUTE! =)
posted by ZachsMind at 6:22 PM on August 15, 2008


Nice read. Thanks OP.
posted by dig_duggler at 6:32 PM on August 15, 2008


considering that democracy in america has been dead since shortly after world war two, all of this chest-beating is meaningless. sorry kids, bush and cheney aren't going to jail, obama won't change the nation, and you're stuck with the price of gas forever. power is not in the hands of politicians. it is in the hands of corporations and your miserable existence will continue at their pleasure. if there is anything to be learned to help you through the next few decades, consider the effectiveness of the general strike and organized resistance. lessons in first aid and survival in a crossfire might be useful, too.
posted by kitchenrat at 6:34 PM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's nice to know I can come back here years later and ZachsMind is still pissing everyone off.
posted by dig_duggler at 6:35 PM on August 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


> it's not that I don't find the falling for all the "hope" talk endearing

You know, even fabio gets tired of posing occasionally.
posted by jfuller at 6:44 PM on August 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


ZachsMind, I for one, won't tell a person without health coverage whether the debates mean anything, but I might ask them. And they may very well think it's all bullshit, or they might decide that it means a great deal to them and their families, and can help decide their vote.

I know that you think voting is a sham, and that you're above it, and I know I'm not going to say anything to disabuse you of that notion, but I can assure you that even with Diebold doing whatever they can to rig the elections, the candidates themselves care about voting a great deal. That's why their killing themselves on the campaign trails eating shitty chicken every night trying to make sure that they reach as many potential voters as possible.

Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe McCain will simply prop his feet up in Arizona as soon as the conventions over, waiting for the fake election to be handed to him because he knows just as well as you do that actual voters don't matter. He's an old man, after all, and not as spry as he used to be. I'm sure he could use a few months of rest before his fraudulently assured "victory," what with all of the stress of being president to come afterwards.

Somehow I doubt he's going to do that, though, probably because he needs to get as many votes as possible if he wants to win. Which means that, even if my personal individual vote for Obama is insignificant, McCain wants to make damn sure that there's at least one, and hopefully two, votes for him to cancel mine out.

I'm not trying to call you out, Zachsmind. Generally I think you rock. I just disagree with you pretty heartily on this one topic.

Gore won the debates in 2000, kind of, but he was hurt still by his connection to the scandal-plagued Clinton administration and the fact that the Bush campaign convinced the media that Bush was "supposed to" win. That was what struck me most horribly about the 2000 election brouhaha - that the national mood didn't seem to be "Gore won," but rather, "Bush came close enough, can't we just let him have it?"

Kerry won the debates in 2004, there's no doubt, but he didn't win them in a way which helped his campaign, or at least in a way which helped it enough. Kerry was far more knowledgeable and competent, but also came off as an unfriendly stiff while GWB came off, somehow, as the guy being bullied, and considering that GWB is one of the most atrocious bullies ever to reach the spotlight, that image meant something. Bush, even as president, knew how to play himself as a root-for-me underdog.

McCain doesn't know how to do that. When Bush gets blindsided with a question he doesn't like, he turns himself into the amiable kid in school who didn't want to be called on. When McCain can't answer a question immediately, he seems supremely uncomfortable, and makes those viewing him uncomfortable as well.

Additionally, no matter how overblown it is, Obama has the intangible quality of seeming like the Man for the Moment. Reagan had that, Bill Clinton had that, to a degree, as did GWB (but not anymore). GHWB didn't have it, but Dukakis seemed to have the negative of it. Kerry never had it, and Gore got it, eventually, too late for it to be of any value to him (except for in his environmental crusade, where he's used it brilliantly).

Obama is the lead character in this election, and McCain is the Baxter. Moreover, the McCain camp knows it, which is why they're trying to fight back with things like the "Celebrity" ad (which, to be fair, did at least focus on policy in it's last fifteen seconds). McCain's campaign is already defeatest, as that ad showed, and now they're trying to figure out what they can do to salvage themselves, and they've long-since realized the only way they can win is to try to destroy Obama's actual movement. Because Obama evokes an honest-to-god positive reaction from people, and McCain comes from a brand of politics where the public doesn't like any of the choices, so all you have to do is set yourself apart from the dregs of them.

I guarantee you that Obama's debate preparations are going to be all about taking his great "formal speech oratory" and finding ways to snip that into inspiring soundbites for every occasion, and if he can manage that (which he almost certainly can) then the debates will matter a great deal, because no one will be able to play the expectations game with them.

Anyway, this has been rambling, so I'll just leave with today's relevant xkcd to concede that matteo, elpapacito and Zachsmind have a kernal of a point, even though the idea of protest through cynical non-action will accomplish nothing at all.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:53 PM on August 15, 2008 [5 favorites]


Great post; I loved the article. What are we yelling at each other about, though? I like yelling, but I need a more focused topic.
posted by Kwine at 7:06 PM on August 15, 2008


NavelGazer: "...even though the idea of protest through cynical non-action will accomplish nothing at all."

I'm sure you'll have more luck sitting in your Free Speech Zone.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:24 PM on August 15, 2008


ZachsMind: Fair enough. I haven't really done the protest scene since my freshman year of college, once I came to the realization that regulated protest was simply masturbation. So maybe we've got a thread in common there.

I see where you're coming from, but I just can't see how bragging about not voting (as you've done in other threads) makes any sense at all. You're not the first person I respect to come out with such proclamations, but for me, even if my voice isn't heard amongst everyone else's, and doesn't make a significant difference in the overall outcome, it does mean something to me to know that I have registered my official opinion. Obviously, to you, it does not, which is fine.

Still, the view that you've expoused here and elsewhere, i.e. "Voting is for suckers!" accomplishes nothing except for pissing people off (about you, specifically) and possibly engendering further apathy, which is the last thing we need.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:46 PM on August 15, 2008


Sure. matteo once again enlivens a political thread with bizzare nonsense, completely detached from reality

but, bizarrely enough, spelled correctly.
posted by quonsar at 8:51 PM on August 15, 2008


Whoa, whoa, whoa.

I like delmoi and matteo. Delmoi, matteo, stop insulting each other, you've both got some good points, let's see those and not the ad hominem vitriol.

And Eekacat, calling elpapacito a "castrato" is way out of line.
posted by orthogonality at 9:59 PM on August 15, 2008


I was going to start with a declamatory preface, but you know what...

These nihilist "You voting, hopeful fuckers sure are fucked!" comments serve no honest purpose.
As the esteemed Navelgazer points out, Obama sure as hell thinks voting matters. And so do Diebold and those bastards purging the voter rolls in Ohio.

So if ZachMind and Matteo and the rest of you haute cynics want us to believe that $50 Million per month buys no power in America, I suggest you explain precisely how that could be, instead of vaguely appealing to hip defeatist posturing.

Your persistent bitching is a lot of effort put into discouraging something you're so damn sure makes no difference. Your speech exhorts capitulation, but your act of speech betrays you.

Yes we've lost before, but we've won, too.
And we've learned that we gain nothing from surrender.
posted by Richard Daly at 10:14 PM on August 15, 2008 [6 favorites]


Sure. matteo once again enlivens a political thread with bizzare nonsense, completely detached from reality

but, bizarrely enough, spelled correctly.


Sometimes I feel like I'm watching Metafilter's own Eastasia, Oceania, and Eurasia go at each other's throats just enough to be able to go at each other's throats tomorrow, and the day after that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:19 PM on August 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon writes "and the day after that."

Blazecock, we have always been at war with East Quonsar.
posted by orthogonality at 10:42 PM on August 15, 2008 [4 favorites]


Interesting find on page 2 of the linked article:
In January of this year, two Hillary Clinton staffers—Sidney Blumenthal, who had been a close counselor to Bill Clinton and was even closer to his wife; and a law student named Daniel Freifeld—produced a taxonomy of the Democratic debates to that point. Their internal memo began, in all caps:

15 DEBATES
352 QUESTIONS
29 GOTCHA QUESTIONS
33 PUFF QUESTIONS
7 GOVERNANCE QUESTIONS
NOT A SINGLE QUESTION ABOUT A FEDERAL DEPARTMENT OR AGENCY AND ITS CONDITION UNDER BUSH
posted by churl at 12:09 AM on August 16, 2008


matteo: nobody really remembers poor Lloyd Bentsen

rollbiz: ZachsMind, I posted with DU: I knew DU; DU was a friend of mine. ZachsMind, you're no DU.

posted by dragonsi55 at 6:11 AM on August 16, 2008


Explosive new memos leaked from the Obama campaign.
posted by EarBucket at 6:55 AM on August 16, 2008


As I understand it, McCain's offer of ten town hall debates was never really intended to be accepted

Obama countered with an offer to do two town hall debates, which John Sidney McCain III didn't accept.

What happened (or did not happen) in 2004?

Was the 2004 Election Stolen? "Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House."

Here's hoping for a McCain temper flare-up

There's a guy in my rec soccer league who's very skilled, but hotheaded, so we intentionally foul him at the beginning of the game. He gets so mad he's useless for the rest of the game. I'd like to see the Obama campaign start needling McCain before the debates and have Obama say something subtle to trigger a McCain tantrum.

[Gore] was hurt still by his connection to the scandal-plagued Clinton administration

I think the opposite is true: he didn't connect himself closely enough to the Clinton administration's peace and prosperity. Clinton was more popular when he left office than Reagan was when Reagan left office (or as popular, depending on the poll). Gore should've denounced Clinton's lies about his personal life but taken credit for the administration's successes. Instead he ran away from Clinton, including his poor choice of moralistic Joe Lieberman as VP.

McCain is the Baxter

I think of him more as a Jan. "Well all I hear all day long is how great Obama is at this or how wonderful Obama did that. Obama, Obama, Obama!"

James Bond Stockdale

The guy's name was James Bond and they lost!
posted by kirkaracha at 9:39 AM on August 16, 2008


Usually, fan-made Democratic political ads are just as bad as fan-made anythings, but I enjoyed Baracky II. It seems to get exactly how to frame John McCain.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:53 AM on August 16, 2008


With democrats outraising republicans 2-1, i doubt the debates will matter much.
posted by empath at 12:16 PM on August 16, 2008


empath, the article you're citing is all about how the two parties are at financial parity, given that the RNC has well more than double the cash on hand as the DNC. McCain's taking public funds which gives him (I think) $85 million to spend after the convention, while the RNC can raise and spend as much as it wants.. Should be interesting.. I do think Obama was projected to raise a lot more and wonder if he opted out of public funding when expectations were set very high.

Additionally, no matter how overblown it is, Obama has the intangible quality of seeming like the Man for the Moment

Ah, the patriarchy! Just sayin'.. that's due for a change.
posted by citron at 12:19 AM on August 17, 2008


NavelGazer: "...it does mean something to me to know that I have registered my official opinion. Obviously, to you, it does not, which is fine."

I could register with Bloomingdales or Tiffanys, but if I ain't getting married, why the hell do it? I could register my official opinion by voting, but if that voice won't be heard, and gets squelched by an electoral college specifically designed to silence me, why the hell do it? Why help 'them' perpetuate this illusion THAT IS HURTING US? Why waste my time? Why should you waste yours?

"Still, the view that you've expoused here and elsewhere, i.e. "Voting is for suckers!" accomplishes nothing except for pissing people off (about you, specifically) and possibly engendering further apathy, which is the last thing we need."

Good. I hope I piss a lot of people off. I hope I piss off people by bitching about this fucked up system in America that allowed a jackass and his wolves to take over the executive branch, and destroy the checks and balances once built into the American government specifically to stop travesties of justice like the past decade has been. I hope to GOD that my bitching about it gets enough people pissed off. Maybe one of them will figure out how to do something about it. Cuz I can't. I am not in a position to fix everything, nor would I wanna be that guy. I'm slightly allergic to bullets. The revolution WILL be televised, and I'll be watching it on TV, probably in a bunker behind lock and key where it might be safe. Why? Cuz I'm a coward. I'm like the soothsayer in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar play, warning about the Ides of March. I ain't Caesar or Brutus or Cassius or Titinius. If memory serves, all those guys died. I don't think we ever find out what happens to the Ides of March guy, cuz he knew when to duck: that's me.

If all I do is engender further apathy, good. At the very least I am rooting for the erosion and decay of what's left of this country. If we can't get America back, then we shouldn't leave it in good condition for the bastards stealing it from us. And if you think VOTING is going to make a difference? Your brain is not living on the same planet as the rest of you.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:40 AM on August 17, 2008


empath, the article you're citing is all about how the two parties are at financial parity, given that the RNC has well more than double the cash on hand as the DNC.

At the moment, yeah. But Obama raised twice as much as McCain last month, and the DNC outraised the RNC for the first time in four years. I don't think that parity is likely to last, especially given that the Republicans are also playing defense on almost a dozen competitive Senate seats. At some point, they're going to have to decide where their money would be better spent; supporting McCain or keeping the Democrats from a filibuster-proof 60-seat supermajority. I think they're going to quietly cut their losses.
posted by EarBucket at 5:30 AM on August 17, 2008


I'm like the soothsayer in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar play, warning about the Ides of March.

No, you're like the Comic Book Guy in Matt Groening's The Simpsons.
posted by EarBucket at 5:31 AM on August 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Since voting doesn't matter one way or the other, why don't you all just go ahead, register and vote for Obama anyway, just for shits and grins? Seeing as it doesn't matter.

You can exclaim in a loud voice "Oh look! I'm voting for the challenger! I bet MY vote will make all the difference!" with exaggerated movements and rolling eyes as you drop the ballot in, and high-five each other and laugh. It will be hilarious!
posted by msalt at 9:59 AM on August 17, 2008


EarBucket: "No, you're like the Comic Book Guy in Matt Groening's The Simpsons."

Actually it's even worse than that! I'm like the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons dressed up like the Ides of March guy in Julius Caesar - and it's not a King Size bed sheet.

TOGA! TOGA! TOGA! TOGA!

MSalt: "Since voting doesn't matter one way or the other, why don't you all just go ahead, register and vote for Obama anyway, just for shits and grins? Seeing as it doesn't matter."

Because that's WHAT WE'VE BEEN DOING!

We've been voting for "the lesser of two evils" for decades. Don't you SEE? If both guys are bad, but one guy's not AS bad as the other guy, THAT DOESN'T MAKE HIM GOOD.

By just participating, we are contributing to the stupidity and madness and evil that this circus of left and right, blue and red, liberal and conservative, shirts and skins has wrought! Please. I beg of you. You can hate me ALL YOU WANT. Just stop contributing to their behavior. Stop encouraging them.

We are ALL going to go down with this ship. There's no land for miles, metaphorically speaking. PLEASE STOP HELPING THEM POUR WATER INTO THE BOAT.

Beware the Ides of November. That's all I ask.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:39 PM on August 17, 2008


ZM, you're not being profound, you're doing a mediocre standup routine.
posted by empath at 4:50 PM on August 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


We've been voting for "the lesser of two evils" for decades. Don't you SEE?

If you can't see the difference between the Clinton presidency and Bush, you're dumb as mud.
posted by msalt at 5:17 PM on August 17, 2008


DU writes "You still think an affectation of jaded cynicism is cool? THAT'S SO CUTE!"

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
-George Bernard Shaw
posted by mullingitover at 5:45 PM on August 17, 2008


"ZM, you're not being profound, you're doing a mediocre standup routine."

Thank you Empath for noticing. I'm not profound. I'm mediocre. You're absolutely right. God bless you and your wacky nephews.

Now Baraka Obama claims that as soon as he gets into office as POTUS he will dismantle everything Bush has done in the past eight years, but then he adds a caveat to that which indicates he won't rescind the stuff he feels necessary. Which means I don't believe him for a minute. I also question whether or not what Bush has done to our Constitution is reversible. I don't believe it is. IF Obama tries to undo the Patriot Act and other liberties that Bush has taken with our liberties, it could very well make things worse, and polarize the public even more than it already is. Whether it's McCain or Obama, I fear the country as we know it will have divided by 2012. United we stand; divided, we're not America anymore. That's no joke.

Oh.. And sorry about the end of that video there. I couldn't find a copy of Obama's Q&A in Ohio last March that doesn't have Easy Rider at the end of it hawking credit cards.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:24 AM on August 18, 2008


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