How Obama Did It
November 5, 2008 6:56 PM   Subscribe

How Obama Did It: an in-depth look behind the scenes of the campaign, assembled by a special team of reporters who were granted year-long access on the condition that none of their findings appear until after Election Day.
posted by thbt (254 comments total) 163 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've read all of what they've posted so far. There is some very interesting stuff in there.

Here are some choice quotes from the second chapter on McCain:

"We're up, boy, we're up," Graham murmured softly when the numbers turned. "Boy, we're down," McCain replied moments later. (McCain and Graham often call each other "boy," another obscure McCain bonding ritual.)

Among Weaver's jobs was combing McCain's hair.

I look forward to the chapters they release tomorrow.
posted by inconsequentialist at 7:09 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Eeeeeenteresting.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:12 PM on November 5, 2008




I'm sure we'll hear about some of these Palin antics in the Newsweek piece.
posted by inconsequentialist at 7:20 PM on November 5, 2008


What I wouldn't give for a prank call tape between her and the "President of Africa"...
posted by shirobara at 7:20 PM on November 5, 2008 [13 favorites]


They should market this with O.J.'s If I Did It
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:20 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I could tell you, but them Obama would have to shoot you.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:21 PM on November 5, 2008


This is Good. Excellent behind-the-scenes journalism. I really look forward to the rest of it (is it really going to be a book?).
posted by Rhaomi at 7:23 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Really interesting. Thanks!
posted by k8t at 7:25 PM on November 5, 2008


Only partway through the first chapter, but I've already found something that helps me put my finger on just what exactly it is that drew me to Obama. That he seems like someone who would say this, and actually mean it:
And he was upset with his own campaign after a low-level staffer referred in a press release to Clinton as "(D-Punjab)" because of her ties to supporters of India. "I don't want you guys freelancing and, quote, protecting me from what you're doing," he lectured his staff. "I'm saying this loud and clear—no winks, no nods here," he said, irritated to take the heat for a clumsy dirty trick he had not known about and would never have authorized. "I'm looking at every one of you. If you think you're close to the line, the answer isn't to protect me—the answer is to ask me."
It's exactly that kind of dignity and integrity that helped set his campaign apart from-- and above-- any other in my memory.
posted by dersins at 7:30 PM on November 5, 2008 [78 favorites]


Whoa. Two things:

1. A coworker forwarded me this earlier, and I was totally going to post it, but figured that in the 2,000+ posts various Obama threads, someone might already have made mention of it.

2. Weeeeeird deja vu I got upon reading the first few comments in this thread. But I know this thread didn't exist before...
posted by limeonaire at 7:31 PM on November 5, 2008


There's some really good stuff in there. This, though, really jumped out at me:

"We're just praying that Bill behaves," a Clinton staffer told a NEWSWEEK reporter that winter. She clasped her hands and bowed several times. Other staffers dryly referred to the private plane owned by supermarket magnate and playboy Ron Burkle, Bill Clinton's friend and traveling buddy, as "Air F––– One."
posted by Forktine at 7:48 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Psyched that Obama compared his wife's belt buckle to the dilithium crystals on the Enterprise. He should have sent more coded messages during the campaign to win the Trek vote.
posted by johngoren at 7:57 PM on November 5, 2008 [8 favorites]


With all of this post-mortem, throwing-under-the-bus activity by Republican faithful of their sacred goat Sarah Palin, I'm hopeful that she'll last all of five minutes in the 2012 primary.
posted by brain cloud at 8:01 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Highlights for the coming chapters.

On the night she officially lost the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton enjoyed a long and friendly phone conversation with McCain. Clinton was actually on better terms with McCain than she was with Obama. Clinton and McCain had downed shots together on Senate junkets; they regarded each other as grizzled veterans of the political wars and shared a certain disdain for Obama as flashy and callow.

I can see them doing that.

At the GOP convention in St. Paul, Palin was completely unfazed by the boys' club fraternity she had just joined. One night, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter went to her hotel room to brief her. After a minute, Palin sailed into the room wearing nothing but a towel, with another on her wet hair. She told them to chat with her laconic husband, Todd. "I'll be just a minute," she said.

History, or erotic fan fiction? You be the judge!
posted by zabuni at 8:02 PM on November 5, 2008 [9 favorites]


Yes these articles are interesting. I read them in the other Obama threads.
posted by marxchivist at 8:11 PM on November 5, 2008


With all of this post-mortem, throwing-under-the-bus activity by Republican faithful of their sacred goat Sarah Palin, I'm hopeful that she'll last all of five minutes in the 2012 primary.
No, no, what liberals need to spend the next few years doing is convincing conservatives that they're TERRIFIED of the powerhouse that is Sarah Palin.

Fred: WOW, COMRADE. THIS ONE WAS CLOSE. IT'S SURE A GOOD THING THEY DIDN'T LET PALIN TALK TO THE PEOPLE! I HOPE THEY DON'T OVERHEAR US AND DISCOVER OUR WEAKNESS!
Achmed: [ululates]
[exeunt]
posted by verb at 8:12 PM on November 5, 2008 [57 favorites]


The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied.

But heaven forbid we condmen people for using the language of hate or bigotry for political ends...

McCain was dumbfounded when Congressman John Lewis, a civil-rights hero, issued a press release comparing the GOP nominee with former Alabama governor George Wallace, a segregationist infamous for stirring racial fears. McCain had devoted a chapter to Lewis in one of his books, "Why Courage Matters," and had so admired Lewis that he had once taken his children to meet him.

That's one of the shittiest things I've heard since Bush's original "black baby" smears.
posted by rodgerd at 8:14 PM on November 5, 2008


For some reason this really stood out to me:
So when Brian Williams is asking me about what's a personal thing that you've done [that's green], and I say, you know, 'Well, I planted a bunch of trees.' And he says, 'I'm talking about personal.' What I'm thinking in my head is, 'Well, the truth is, Brian, we can't solve global warming because I f–––ing changed light bulbs in my house. It's because of something collective'."
It's so nice to see a politician who wants to look beyond glib answers.
posted by peacheater at 8:15 PM on November 5, 2008 [14 favorites]


I found the second chapter fascinating. I didn't pay much attention to McCain until he essentially had the nomination, so it's easy for me to forget that he was inches away from losing the nomination at times. It's funny, I think I may have gained a little respect for him from that piece. Seeing an opponent's human side is not necessarily a bad thing.

I'm really looking forward to the rest of these. And I'm feeling even more inspired about Obama.
posted by Hactar at 8:18 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Am I missing a page with links to each chapter from the special election project? I read the overview, found chapter one on my own, but didn't even know there was a second chapter until I read this thread, and even then it took some looking to find it -- I had to know that chapter 2 was focused on McCain. For such a juicy behind-the-scenes series, this thing's not set up with remotely obvious navigation.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:20 PM on November 5, 2008


No, no, what liberals need to spend the next few years doing is convincing conservatives that they're TERRIFIED of the powerhouse that is Sarah Palin.

Oh, yes. Quite right. What I meant to say is:

O NOES MAVERICkS! PLEEZ DONT UNLEASH YOUR AWESOME BASE-MOBILIZNG POWERZ ON US!
posted by brain cloud at 8:21 PM on November 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is from a different NEWSWEEK article (located here -- good read!), but I thought it was just awesome. I really like this guy.
The debates unnerved both candidates. When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, "I don't consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, 'You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.' So when Brian Williams is asking me about what's a personal thing that you've done [that's green], and I say, you know, 'Well, I planted a bunch of trees.' And he says, 'I'm talking about personal.' What I'm thinking in my head is, 'Well, the truth is, Brian, we can't solve global warming because I f---ing changed light bulbs in my house. It's because of something collective'."
posted by cj_ at 8:26 PM on November 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Am I missing a page with links to each chapter from the special election project?

The links for each chapter are available in the header at the top of the page.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:29 PM on November 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is like the longest and best e trip of my life.
posted by gman at 8:33 PM on November 5, 2008 [8 favorites]


middleclasstool: The header with the chapter links is javascript. I had to allow newsweek.com in NoScript in order to see them.
posted by des at 8:34 PM on November 5, 2008


Adblock Plus killed it. Thanks, TPS and des.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:37 PM on November 5, 2008


Read this earlier, really good stuff, and I never thought I'd say that about something in Newsweek ever again. I mean, wait, they still make Newsweek? Should I be drinking a Tab and taking an Anacin while I read?

Obama is right, he was awful in those early debates, glad he realized it and worked to get better. And I was glad to hear he was once uncomfortable with the "We will kill Bin Laden" type rhetoric that doesn't even pay lip service to what was once taken for granted: the idea of capturing our enemies and giving them a fair trial. It remains to be seen if he will govern as the man who was repulsed by that thinking, or the man who embraced it for the sake of electoral votes.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:40 PM on November 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Uh, I'm pretty sure Obama would agree that we did that, not him.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:53 PM on November 5, 2008


Slipping from an easy, bemused tone to a near shout, Obama egged on the overflow crowd at the J-J dinner. "So I've got one thing to ask you. Are you FIRED UP? Are you READY TO GO? FIRED UP! READY TO GO!" The Washington Post's David Broder, the Yoda of political reporters, was watching and understood that Obama had found the Force.

Wait.

What?
posted by delmoi at 9:05 PM on November 5, 2008


Man. Barack Obama is fuckin smooth.

But lost in all the frantic Googling, Nexising and IMing was the larger picture. By overreacting, the Clinton campaigners drew attention to their own misgivings about the former president's behavior and to Obama's status as a legitimate contender who could raise big bucks from the Clintons' own base. Obama himself floated coolly over the whole flap, telling a reporter, "It's not clear to me why I should be apologizing for someone else's remarks. My sense is that Mr. Geffen may have differences with the Clintons, but that doesn't really have anything to do with our campaign."

When a president can think and talk and react like that ... why would he ever need to employ something silly like "preconditions"?
posted by brain cloud at 9:22 PM on November 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


"If the house is on fire, would you rather have a psychotic fireman or no fireman at all?"
posted by Wood at 9:27 PM on November 5, 2008


I shouldn't laugh, but,

(The night of the Iowa caucuses:)

An aide approached McAuliffe and said the president wanted to see him. McAuliffe was escorted to the Clintons' suite by a Secret Service agent. He found Bill Clinton watching a bowl game on TV. The ex-president seemed perfectly relaxed and jovial. "Sir," said McAuliffe, "have you heard the news?" "What news?" Clinton asked. "We're going to get killed," said McAuliffe.

"What!" exclaimed Clinton, who then called out in a loud voice, "Hillary!"

posted by sugarfish at 9:34 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, I read these accounts and think that, if their campaigns are any evidence, neither Clinton or McCain were fit to be President. Not for being bad people, but for being completely incompetent at managing others.
posted by rodgerd at 9:54 PM on November 5, 2008 [20 favorites]


(And managing budgets. Anyone who wonders why US government finances are in such disarray ned only watch the spectacle of two presidential candidates blow through all their money without even really noticing or being able to work out why...)
posted by rodgerd at 9:56 PM on November 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


Psyched that Obama compared his wife's belt buckle to the dilithium crystals on the Enterprise. He should have sent more coded messages during the campaign to win the Trek vote.
posted by johngoren at 10:57 PM on November 5 [+] [!]


I, too, am incrediably impressed - more than I should be - by a public figure knowing what dilithium crystals are. Though he says "lithium crystals" - maybe not that committed a Trekkie? My grandfather watched nightly when Next Gen was playing in syndication, but I had to keep reminding him who the Romulans were.
posted by jb at 9:57 PM on November 5, 2008


"In my judgment, he showed more insight and maturity than Bill Clinton at the age of 60 in terms of understanding himself."

Interesting quote, but of course what leaps out at me is the insight that while Barack may understand himself, Bill has an instinctive understanding of other people that has been part of his own genius (in politics and ... other areas). A man like that may get through life without understanding himself, or something may happen along the way that wouldn't have happened if he had.

Durbin shared their fears and began lobbying to get Obama put under Secret Service protection.

I helped vote Durbin in, replacing Paul Simon. I've been so pleased with his success in the Senate and he may be the best choice for Majority Leader. But I didn't, of course, know about this service he did his understudy.
posted by dhartung at 10:08 PM on November 5, 2008 [3 favorites]




We elected a secret Trekkie? Oh no! He's going to appoint George Takei as Secretary of State and teach our children about fanfiction!
posted by Tehanu at 10:21 PM on November 5, 2008 [8 favorites]


Though he says "lithium crystals" - maybe not that committed a Trekkie?

Yes, how dare he devote himself to getting a Harvard Law Degree when he obviously should have put that time to better use obsessing over Star Trek minutiae.
posted by marsha56 at 10:40 PM on November 5, 2008 [3 favorites]




I'm as anti-Palin as the next MeFite, but...that stuff about her not knowing which countries are in NAFTA and thinking Africa is a single country smells like a hit job by the McCain team in the wake of their loss. I'm sure there are a lot of powerful Republicans who never want her to rear her head into national politics airspace again, and it's more or less common knowledge that they hated each other. This is the first shot across her bow by the people who want her out of the way. I mean...she can't possibly be that dumb, can she?
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:50 PM on November 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


We have enough lawyers. But what will become of our next generation if there is nobody to teach them that Spock's blood type is t-negative and he has traces of nickel and copper in his blood, turning it green?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:51 PM on November 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Given the way delegates were apportioned, Obama had amassed a nearly insurmountable lead by the time of the Texas and Ohio primaries on March 4. At one meeting around the time of Super Tuesday, Ickes tried—for the umpteenth time, it seemed—to explain the mechanics of proportional representation. When President Clinton said, "Oh, hell, we didn't have this stuff in 1992," Ickes nearly "fell off his chair," as he later put it, because the system had been essentially the same back then. Ickes grumbled to reporters that Penn didn't even know that California wasn't winner-take-all; Penn denied it.

I've heard that before, but it's still amazes me. Imagine this crew in the general. Goddamn (although it doesn't sound like McCain was doing any better)
posted by delmoi at 10:57 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Obama was not one to cast blame, at least not too obviously or too loudly. After his campaign spent $20 million to win Texas and still lost, he ran through a list of mistakes with his staff, not laying any blame on anyone in particular.

He fucking won the most delegates out of Texas! God damn! This reporter also claimed Hillary won Nevada, which he also took the most delegates from.
posted by delmoi at 11:01 PM on November 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


delmoi: yeah I thought I was crazy for a second there, but there it is. Maybe for them, losing means anything less than a landslide. Sheesh!
posted by amuseDetachment at 11:25 PM on November 5, 2008


This is a really fun, but also kind of trashy read. I mean, did anyone else notice a little bit of bias? Surely, there were some bad moves in the Obama campaign, but none of them can be found here.

Yeah, fun read, but not reliable evidence of the inherent godliness of our new leader.
posted by serazin at 11:26 PM on November 5, 2008


Never mind, it looks like they're split up in an insane fashion, I can't read that chart, friggin' crazy electoral convention bylaws.
posted by amuseDetachment at 11:27 PM on November 5, 2008


Reading the article earlier, the section that surprised me wasn't about McCain or Obama, it was about Clinton:
On a cold midmorning in January 2007, Hillary sat in the sunny living room of her house on Whitehaven Street in Washington, a well-to-do enclave off Embassy Row where she lived with her mother and, on occasion, her husband. She was finishing a last round of policy prep with her aides before getting on a plane to Iowa for her first big campaign swing. In a moment of quiet, she looked around the living room and said, to no one in particular, "I so love this house. Why am I doing this?"

Her policy director, Neera Tanden, and her advertising director, Mandy Grunwald, laughed, a little too lightheartedly. Clinton went on. "I'm so comfortable here. Why am I doing this?"

Tanden spoke up. "The White House isn't so bad," she said.

"I've been there," said Clinton.
She didn't seem like the reluctant candidate.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:29 PM on November 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


I say again. US Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin couldn't name the countries in NAFTA and thought Africa was a single country.

Why all the outrage? If McCain died, she would have picked all this up on the job.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:47 PM on November 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


Reading this...

"The lithium crystals! Beam me up, Scotty!"

I think it's plausible that the reporter heard/noted "The lithium" instead of "Dilithium, especially if they weren't a Star Trek fan. Just sayin'.
posted by davejay at 12:09 AM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


...did anyone else notice a little bit of bias? Surely, there were some bad moves in the Obama campaign, but none of them can be found here.

You're not going to hear about it, because their campaign mantra from Day One has been "no drama". I.e. no childish infighting, no airing of dirty laundry. And that, as much as anything else, won them the presidency. The willingness to set everything aside and work together, inspired by a common vision and an exceptional leader. If this foreshadoes how Obama will govern, I think America is in for eight great years.
posted by randomstriker at 12:25 AM on November 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


"I mean...she can't possibly be that dumb, can she?"

"YES SHE CAN!"
posted by malevolent at 1:06 AM on November 6, 2008 [30 favorites]


I think the article (so far) is great, but as someone who appreciates "old school" Woodward/Bernstein journalism, this strikes me as leaving a few troubling questions/implications on the journalistic ethics side of this story.

(In some ways it is similar to the "embedded journalist" in the military issue.) Is the public being best served by a journalist who is "sworn to secrecy" until after the election? What if they discovered something the public should probably really know about? Anybody wonder if there were any other (unmentioned) conditions (like giving the Obama team first edit)? Who chose this "special team" of reporters and what were the criteria given?
posted by spock at 1:27 AM on November 6, 2008 [11 favorites]


What if they discovered something the public should probably really know about?

I keep recommending this book by James Fallows. It pulls few punches about how the media has failed in its role as a watchdog over the political process.

It seems unconscionable that people would be able to vote for Palin without being informed about her level of ignorance about the world we live in. We seem to have lucked out this time.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:45 AM on November 6, 2008 [12 favorites]


Detachment. The reporter nailed it. I thought detachment when he won. He was happy, but not slobbering, not overly emotional. Detached. I like that in a leader, it implies rational decisions (or psychopathy, but I'm thinking rational, at this point).
posted by b33j at 2:04 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I'm saying this loud and clear—no winks, no nods here," he said, irritated to take the heat for a clumsy dirty trick he had not known about and would never have authorized. "I'm looking at every one of you. If you think you're close to the line, the answer isn't to protect me—the answer is to ask me."
Who else feels we just elected Jed Bartlet?
posted by heathkit at 2:31 AM on November 6, 2008 [20 favorites]


I really enjoyed reading that. I thought it was richly detailed and added depth to my understanding of Obama as a man and election campaigning as a process. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the remaining parts when they are posted. Thanks for posting this to The Blue -- I tend to overlook Newsweek these days, but this was quite compelling.

As for the ethics of embedding reporters (great term, spock!) in campaigns, I would agree that it's another fall down a slippery slope, another sign of the press's abdication of their duties as watchdogs. Still, the campaigns seemed as well covered as the Olympics by every news organ on the planet, so unless the embedded reporters caught Obama calling Osama Bin Laden on a sat phone to discuss campaign strategy, I am not sure what sort of breaking news they would have revealed. This was just a lot of inside politics, and like watching the sausage get made, it wasn't always pretty, but it was fascinating. Reading it now, assembled as a coherent narrative, it makes for a great read, the more eloquent version of thisfuckingelection.com.
posted by mosk at 2:56 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Depending upon who you choose to believe, we didn't get Bartlet, but Matt Santos
posted by drewbage1847 at 3:10 AM on November 6, 2008


This is fantastic. Great post, thbt.
posted by sveskemus at 3:23 AM on November 6, 2008


I love this kind of stuff. I can't wait for the slew of books and articles about both Obama's core campaign, and his ground-game - still waiting for part 2 of Zack Exley's The New Organizers, which was one of the reasons I had such a good feeling about things going into election day.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:41 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have to admit -- the bit about Palin appearing in a towel? That would be ballsy and funny if it were, you know, someone the hell else.

I am having trouble swallowing the notion that Palin was as dumb as she seemed to be. Pig-ignorant is not the same as stupid, and this is how intellectuals often underestimate shrewd opponents. But I thought she had a cunning about her that made her a real threat. She seems to have done so for a few moments, anyway. It appears that Anil Dash's reading of her speeches had exactly the effect predicted upon her audience.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:12 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


So that's what Ba-rack was cookin'...
posted by gman at 4:19 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Did I just hear that if Stevens is elected, but forced out office, Palin could appoint herself Senator???!??
posted by gman at 4:24 AM on November 6, 2008


Meh…I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ll read all 7 parts, mainly for the details like the joking between Axelrod and Obama, but pieces like this often, as this one does, show their journalistic hand too much for my taste. They must have had a ton of material, but you can practically see the selection process at work: keeping the common assumptions regarding the man in mind, find the material that would most surprise readers. Make the piece revelatory by taking the little nuggets of narrative and claiming they reveal a heretofore unknown aspect of the individual’s character. The nuggets I like, the spin I don’t.
Oh, and minus two points for missing the origin of the phrase about emotions running from A to B: that’s a Dorothy Parker original.
I’ve favorited this post, though. Am I the only whose been favoriting posts and comments like a mad person in the past two days?,
posted by signalandnoise at 4:28 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I’ll read all 7 parts, mainly for the details like the joking between Axelrod and Obama, but pieces like this often, as this one does, show their journalistic hand too much for my taste.

Either that or it's not journalistic enough... I don't want to question the journalists's integrity, but it seems like some of the scenerios are just a little too perfectly described for not being there first person. And a lot isn't attributed or it's not clear who told it to the reporter (did they get it from Obama? Or the person Obama was talking to? For example, the John Edwards "focus" quote. It's just too Stephen Glass-y).

I'm just a fan of attribution, even though I realize it's not magazine style to do so. Whenever I read a story like that I have some suspect in the back of my mind, even if it's a credible magazine.

Maybe I'm missing something but I don't see anyone listed as an author, either.

Still, a fun read.
posted by starman at 5:35 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Did I just hear that if Stevens is elected, but forced out office, Palin could appoint herself Senator???!??

As much as I want to say "You betcha!," not exactly.
posted by lukemeister at 5:36 AM on November 6, 2008


CAMERON: There was great concern in the McCain campaign that Sarah Palin lacked a degree of knowledgeability necessary...

If you're going to eschew the obvious 'knowledge' for 'knowledgeability, why not go all the way with 'knowledgeableness?'
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:37 AM on November 6, 2008 [9 favorites]


I guess it was by Kevin Thomas. He was just on the Today Show.
posted by starman at 5:38 AM on November 6, 2008




I think it's plausible that the reporter heard/noted "The lithium" instead of "Dilithium, especially if they weren't a Star Trek fan. Just sayin'.

I was thinking the same thing. Although I know this opens me up for an attack by the right-wing Trekkies; "You're just hearing what you want to hear, like Carolyn Palamas in Who Mourns For Adonais! Can you really trust this man who CLAIMS to give the traditional Vulcan greeting to Nimoy? I have it on good authority that, like Simon Tarses in The Drumhead, this man is actually a SECRET ROMULAN"
posted by Greg Nog at 5:46 AM on November 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


What I don't get is, isn't it a reporter's job to, I don't know, REPORT on stuff? If they knew all this stuff about Palin, WHY DIDN'T THEY WRITE ABOUT IT? Were they seriously just going to let it go until afterwards, even if the Republicans won? And if they had won, would this stuff ever have come out? It just kills me that instead of reporting actual facts about a candidate that might have been a little bit important for people to know in order to make a truly informed decision about their vote (and believe me, I would want to know just as much if they had discovered Obama was a hologram robot powered by remote HOPE) (Human Operatives Preparing Executive-in-chief) -- instead of doing that, they were busy doing this ridiculous false equivalency bullshit. ("Today McCain and Palin said nothing while crowds chanted 'kill him!' To be fair, though, the Obama campaign has been increasingly negative, pointing out that McCain wants to raise taxes.")
posted by mothershock at 5:50 AM on November 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


NPR's Marketplace this morning was practically begging Obama to start presidenting immediately. On the one hand, that shows how hungry we are for real leadership. OTOH, it's a bad sign that they are expecting him to be Superman and will trash him if Things Aren't Better in about 10 minutes on Inauguration Day.
posted by DU at 5:52 AM on November 6, 2008


I didn't see the author listed on the first two chapters, either, but there is a note at the bottom of the third:
"This story is based on reporting by Daren Briscoe, Eleanor Clift, Katie Connolly, Peter Goldman, Daniel Stone and Nick Summers. It was written by Evan Thomas."
posted by signalandnoise at 6:02 AM on November 6, 2008


If they knew all this stuff about Palin, WHY DIDN'T THEY WRITE ABOUT IT?

This is how press embargos work. You get access to your sources on their terms, not yours. They can set conditions like "you can have behind the scenes access as long as you hold the story until after the election," because that's private turf the reporter wouldn't otherwise have access too.

Embargos happen all the time. Reporters routinely get early access to information to give them plenty of time to get their reporting and writing ready when it's time for public release. Sort of like an early press screening of a movie for critics. We'll show you the movie Tuesday, but you can't write about it until Friday. If you break that, you break trust and your paper gets shut out.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:13 AM on November 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Can someone explain to me the thing that I don't get?

Chapter 1, Section 1:
That December of 2006, Obama told Craig and Stevens, "Lay off me for a while. I've got to talk to Michelle." Obama went off to Hawaii with his wife and two girls for the holidays. "I thought, 'We're dead'," recalled Craig. "He's not going to be able to do it."
Chapter 1, Section 2:
Obama had laid out his vision for the campaign on the day after the midterm elections in 2006.
Midterms happened on November 7, 2006. Why would you lay out your vision for your presidential campaign to other people... before you had your family's sign-off on running in the first place?

And is it possible that only in December 2006, he and Michelle were having this conversation? Surely he had done vast planning before that point, in order to hit so hard in Q1 2007.

I don't know. The timing seems off. Mustn't Obama have already made the decision, at the point by which the Newsweek authors are saying he was still uncommitted and pitching the idea to his wife?
posted by pineapple at 6:14 AM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is a Newsweek tradition. They always embed some kid with all the campaigns like two years before the election to take notes for a quickie book to be published after. The after action reports always have great insider detail that would not be available without the promise it was all secret until after election day.

(and a deal is a deal - you have to keep what you learned quiet. Though I did think, listening to Cameron last night, that maybe if the veep candidate couldn't name the three countries in North America, it might be time to break that vow)

This first quick draft for the magazine seems very rushed though. The timelines are all fucked up, for one thing.

And know in my bones there is no way Bill Clinton was sitting around watching sports on the night of the Iowa caucuses, unaware his wife was tanking. Not that political junkie. No way. That must have been a day or two earlier.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:33 AM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


OTOH, it's a bad sign that they are expecting him to be Superman and will trash him if Things Aren't Better in about 10 minutes on Inauguration Day.

America elected a saviour, not a President.
posted by gman at 6:33 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


America elected a saviour, not a President.

I disagree. I think most people are realistic about what's going to happen. They just think Obama will be much, much better than any realistic alternative.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:42 AM on November 6, 2008


This is a great leap forward for Vulcan-Americans.
posted by The Whelk at 6:44 AM on November 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


And Michelle apparently made him promise to quit smoking in return for her assent to entering the race. Promise: Broken.

I've never smoked, but seeing someone as disciplined as Obama have difficulty quitting, particularly when the stakes are so high -- that's a seriously addictive substance.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:48 AM on November 6, 2008


East Manitoba - That's just the sentiment of the crowd at the other Grant Park on Tuesday night.
posted by gman at 6:50 AM on November 6, 2008


As someone who also made a promise to a spouse to quit smoking, there is no way on earth that I would have been able to do it cold turkey, and right before a hugely stressful life event like a presidential campaign.

Quitting (and staying quit, not just quitting anew every Monday morning) means weaning, and the occasional relapse -- and if there is anything that could drive me out back to bum a cig off a staffer, it would be these 25-hour-days or constant debate preparation or the death of a loved one. I can't knock him for falling off that wagon.

Plus, Obama is driven and disciplined enough that he could certainly stop now that he's in office, realizing that he's the victor and has the greatest of international images to maintain.
posted by pineapple at 6:56 AM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


There's a documentary heading our way too, which should be really interesting.
posted by Duug at 7:00 AM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


...realizing that he's the victor and has the greatest of international images to maintain.

Fuck that. Smoking is cool.
posted by gman at 7:01 AM on November 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


...this strikes me as leaving a few troubling questions/implications on the journalistic ethics side of this story....Is the public being best served by a journalist who is "sworn to secrecy" until after the election? What if they discovered something the public should probably really know about?

I'm definitely a critic of the weakening of the press, but this isn't that unusual and it has happened in every election and every ongoing story of national significance. When people give reporters information, generally it's understood that what they say is 'on the record' and it's fair game to report it. The source is going to be accountable by name or title or (least preferred) an identifier like 'an unnamed source high up in the Administration.' (Reporters are reluctant to use unattributed sources, andthey should be -- we saw why during the Judith Miller and Valerie Plame debacles and many other recent journalistic scandals).

When a source gives a reporter information and specifies it's "off the record," then the reporter stops taking notes and just listens. This information is not to be reported. The reporter is only privy to it because the source trusts the reporter to honor the off-the-record agreement. The information may inform the reporter, give leads, give the 'real story' according to the source's perspective, or be otherwise hugely important - but it can't be reported yet, according to ethics. This is a protection for the person acting as a source and for everyone - it is good for the press and the people to be able to give reporters information that they can use without having to draw attention to yourself, incriminate yourself, or be accountable for rumors you've heard but aren't sure are true. If you say something to a reporter off the record, it's not going to be mentioned in the story.

If the interviewee is offering information that is meant to provide context about an event or give a summary, and if it's true enough to be reportable but the source does not want to be directly quoted, the person can begin with "On background...blah blah blah." The reporter knows then that this information is as reliable as the source is, and it can be used, but the interviewee doesn't want to be named. Background can be reported as fact, but the reporter isn't going to be able to specifically cite the source. However, it helps to develop the pitch of a story to know some background.

When something's really not meant to be used, but may change the way a reporter presents a story, it might be called "Deep background" by the source. If you've ever read All the President's Men, the information they got on background and on deep background was extremely important in developing the story, finding leads, and putting the pieces together for an ultimate investigative reporting success. Had they immediately reported every whisper and hint they were given, their sources would have shut right up and the reporters would have blown it completely, losing their chance to report the much bigger, much more significant story.

An embargo is what middleclasstool says. Basically, it means reporters are getting information that is on background and off-the-record UNTIL a certain date, at which point the sources have stated that they are willing to go on the record. It's like a postdated check - before the magic date, they're unwilling to accept attribution and go on record, but after that date, they're willing to go on record.

In all cases, the rules are as they are because it means that ultimately, reporters get more information this way. By providing protections for people giving information to journalists, by honoring the terms of sources, people with information become more willing to give journalists information. Without the protections, we would never know about a lot of huge, important stories, simply because a lot sources - especially government sources -- would just not talk at all, ever, except in statements. If you know something but can't speak freely because your job or promotion depends upon what you are known to say (such as, if you're a campaign staffer during an ongoing campaign with a potential shot at an Administration job if your guy wins), or your family's safety or future prospects are riding upon it, or you're being threatened by someone, or in a position to be blackmailed or bribed, or you'll be seen as a betrayer, or any number of negative consequences - then we are all a lot poorer in information.

What's great about unattributable information is that once the reporter knows there is something there to report, then even if Source A won't go on record, the reporter can start asking Source B and C if they know anything about it, and maybe eventually one of them will go on record.

There's also a sense of proportion in reporting. As interesting as this detail is in retrospect, a lot of it is really minutiae, not affecting policy or voters' decisions or major events during the campaign. A lot of it is simply the texture you pick up when you have access to an organization and its staff. It's fascinating, but most people don't have the time or patience to digest this stuff as part of their daily news intake. It's value-added for political geeks, and wouldn't have gone far to change the outcome. A lot of it has been available (sometimes as unattributed buzz) on things like The Note and the major blogs, but you can't invest as much in reading and believing it when it's not packaged as credible and attributed.

All this is not to say that there aren't problems with the independence of the contemporary press. But seeing this now isn't a betrayal of journalistic ethics, it's journalistic ethics in action. The question is whether the reporters are working as strategically, smartly, and independently with their sources as they can in order to get, and report, the most information.
posted by Miko at 7:02 AM on November 6, 2008 [55 favorites]


What page is the (di)lithium crystal thing on? I can't find it.
posted by DU at 7:03 AM on November 6, 2008


The premise is right at the head of the story, too:
a special team of reporters who were granted year-long access on the condition that none of their findings appear until after Election Day.
So this isn't a case even of holding back information. These journalists are reporting information they would never even have had access to without the arrangement for this special story. It doesn't really preclude the activities of other journalists who are reporting on the campaign in more traditional ways - in fact, the intra-trade gossip that probably flowed from this Newsweek story may have resulted in more hints and leads for journalists doing regular reporting on the campaign trail.
posted by Miko at 7:11 AM on November 6, 2008


What I don't understand, is why or how Hillary Clinton and John McCain got so shook during their early battles with Obama, that they couldn't use their long history to pwn him. Yes, I know the 'change' idea took hold early and people were really wanting that.

But both Hillary and John seemed to fail at doing what most vets can do pretty well, which is make the rookie look like a rookie. Maybe they were both too old and not skilled enough, but all I kept thinking was that if you're such a hardcore vet - show me. Take Obama's words and actions and pretty much laugh at him like he's a rookie. Go into calm, methodical detail and basically pat him on the head like "thanks for trying, kid".

I don't know if they both got scared and let their emotions control them or what. But that just bothered me because it didn't make sense to me. Any time I've come up against someone who I'm competing with who is presumed to be a competitive force, who is considered a veteran, they play/act/move like one. They're calm - you're the one freaking out. They've got all the tricks in the book and even when you seem like you're winning, they're waiting for you - they've seen your moves and know what you're going to try next.

I just got the sense that Hillary and John had all this experience, years of experience, and yet they never really treated Obama like a rook.

I was waiting for Obama to make the case for some policy, and then see Hillary or John calmly, almost in a lovingly parental way go into some detailed story about how this was tried previously, here was the situation, and here was the result, and then say "you were two at the time, but here's what happened".

In other words, almost appear to be on Obama's side. Take his ideas and say that definitely is great in principle and I think he's got a lot going for him and some pretty specific things he's promoting, however here's what typically happens with these ideas - blam. Like show a genuine like for the guy. Hillary and/or John should have made it seem like (in a non-nastily condescending way) they were talking to themselves at that age.

But maybe they didn't try any of this because they kept underestimating him?

There's a documentary heading our way too, which should be really interesting.

When I found out about that last year, I was excited, and then all throughout the campaign I couldn't help but think that if he could win, that movie would be the best thing ever. I want to pre-order that thing now. Buy a ticket now. I cannot wait to see that.
posted by cashman at 7:13 AM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yeah I can't believe they kept the giant scandalous secret that Palin does not know things from the american people. Imagine the impact that news would have had-- heck we might have thought she was stupid!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:23 AM on November 6, 2008


Go into calm, methodical detail and basically pat him on the head like "thanks for trying, kid".

There are 3 problems with this approach.

1) Condescending pats on the head and terms like "boy" aren't a good idea against the African-American candidate.

2) "Calm, methodical detail"? In an American election? Until Obama won with it on Tuesday, that hasn't worked in 50 years.

3) I think you are overestimating the competence of the McCain and Clinton teams. However good the candidates themselves may have been, it seems pretty clear the campaigns thought they could either coast or just do the same old same old. Not to get nerdy, but it's like Microsoft vs IBM in the old days or Linux vs Microsoft in the somewhat-less-old days. The insiders figure the entire operation is unstoppable and so lose focus on the overall goal and start infighting, heading in random directions, not reporting the boss, etc.

Eventually this will probably happen to the Obama team, but hopefully not until after 2012.
posted by DU at 7:24 AM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


But maybe they didn't try any of this because they kept underestimating him?
One of the themes that kept coming up during the election and in the article was the idea that both Hillary and McCain thought very little of Obama at the end of the day. They seemed to be shocked that people paid attention to him -- "I don't expect everyone to like ME, but how can they possibly go for HIM?" was the tone that came through at a number of times.

That kind of perspective can really hobble your ability to communicate effectively to everyone else unless you're incredibly disciplined. It comes out in little ways even when your words stay on-message, and in our intensely image-managed campaign cycles those carry a lot of weight, even more than the transcript of a speech.

And both campaigns, when their plans started unraveling, responded with the same "Jesus, PEOPLE! Look at him! How you can like HIM?! Terrorists! Red phone at 2AM! Preschooler sex!" kinds of attacks.

That's my theory, at least.
posted by verb at 7:33 AM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


There are 3 problems with this approach.

1) I am African-American - you can pwn somebody's ideas pretty simply. Obviously I was not saying call the man a boy. He looked like a kid when he first started, and sometimes still does. But still, I wasn't saying call him a kid, I was saying pwn his ideas and act like a vet, and make his ideas look like they came from a kid comparatively.

2) Perhaps it didn't work previously, but the contrast here was so great, and his inexperience and youth is something that was long hailed as something that was problematic for him. They should have seized on it in this way. Vets have seen it all and done it all, and they're annoying when you're a talented upstart (we've all been there, right?) because you think you know it all and have all these answers, and they're 5 steps ahead of you. Hillary said she had all this experience, same with John, but neither one ever went into a good 2 or 3 minute story about how some idea would actually play out. And Americans and people in general, love stories. And again, this would be in a manner actually friendly to Obama, saying "this is a great idea, but." - and people had already made it clear that they don't like the confrontation and arguing, but people love great stories, especially if it would have been presented as "this is a great idea, but here's where my experience comes in". There were brief moments of stories, but never in any detail, and it was always seemingly antagonistic and "he doesn't get it" type deals.

3) I'm not talking about their teams - I'm talking about them.
posted by cashman at 7:33 AM on November 6, 2008 [5 favorites]



When a source gives a reporter information and specifies it's "off the record," then the reporter stops taking notes and just listens. This information is not to be reported.


Actually, these 70s terms have morphed. These days in the US, "off the record" means the same as "not for attribution" - the reporter will mention it, but not report who said it. (There might be some back and forth with the source about how to identify them, say "a high level administration source" or "a member of the board.") Rather than mean "put your pen down," these days off the record means "here comes the good stuff."
The whole notion of "on background" or even "deep background" doesn't seem to exist anymore, at least in any formal sense. Unless you count things like group press dinners with the candidate where the reporters can't report what they say, but are there just to get a better sense of them as a person.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:38 AM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Polling on race is notoriously difficult; voters rarely admit to prejudice. Polls suggested that somewhere between 10 and 30 percent of voters thought that race would be an important factor in the election. Some of these were black voters who were likely to vote for Obama, and some were white. Few whites were flat-out racists, and most of those would vote Republican anyway. But some older and working-class voters, particularly in Appalachia, the mountainous spine that runs from upper New York state to the Deep South, harbored lingering apprehensions and resentments toward African-Americans.

Ouch.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 7:42 AM on November 6, 2008


3) I'm not talking about their teams - I'm talking about them.

They are their teams. The Mark Penns and Steven Schmidts are their eyes and ears and often their mouths and hands. McCain and Clinton haven't met a real human being in an unscripted situation in years.
posted by DU at 7:43 AM on November 6, 2008


Cashman -- it's interesting, because in many ways it was Obama and Biden who really mastered that approach. Think of how Biden got lampooned on SNL for saying how much he loves McCain, what great friends they are, etc., and how the press made fun of him for his "gaffe" about how Hilary might have even been a better VP pick than he was. All of those "god love ya"s led up to point-by-point takedowns of whatever the other side was throwing out. It seems the campaign all the way through took this route of "my opponent is a reasonable man, and I like him on a personal level, but sadly he just doesn't get it" that could have worked so well from the Experience candidate to the Rookie -- and just owned it the other way around.
posted by mothershock at 7:46 AM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


The whole notion of "on background" or even "deep background" doesn't seem to exist anymore, at least in any formal sense

My mother (reporter/editor) does get things on background even today - the background stuff around a shady real-estate development deal, the initial source of rumors around town about a never-apprehended criminal leading to the reopening of a 20-year old murder case...stuff like that.
posted by Miko at 7:48 AM on November 6, 2008


Great comment/reply to the issue I raised, Miko. Almost sidebar-able!
posted by spock at 7:55 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I did think that McCain tried the 'silly whippersnapper' approach in the first (podium) debate. His long lists of foreign policy travel experiences (not an exact quote, but the travelogue -- 'I've been to Waziristan. I've met Musharraf. I know the terrain') and his comment on Obama's approach to Pakistan
“You don’t say that out loud,” McCain said. “If you have to do things, you have to do things, and you work with the Pakistani government.”
To me, this seemed like an attempt to claim all the experience, all the knowledge, all the foreign policy skill -- 'I've been everywhere, man!' But it backfired for me and, apparently, a lot of people. Playing the experience card made him look (1) old, like your grandpa recounting war stories; 2) scary and black-hatted and sneakily Cold War-ish and 3) outdated and ineffectual -- you have that much experience and have had that much involvement and this is the world you created?

He also pitched it a bit wrong - instead of appearing confidently dismissive of Obama's callow approach, he went for the "scary/risky/dangerous" angle, which only made him seem ridiculous, because Obama is evidently so reasonable, so calm, and so non-scary to the majority of Americans that they didn't buy it, despite the rantings of people who tried to paint him as a threat. You can't have someone be both an inexperienced harmless puppy and an inexperiened dangerous threat, and McCain went for dangerous threat - which ultimately hurt him by casting Obama as more of a serious challenger than an unimportant upstart.
posted by Miko at 7:59 AM on November 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


Follow-up on the journalistic ethics question: Let's say you are a campaign-embedded reporter who has sworn not to "reveal" your "findings" until after election day. Using Miko's definitions, could an embedded reporter be used as a source by another reporter on "deep background" or "off the record" (giving the non-restrained reporter a tip or lead to investigate themselves)?

Slippery slope indeed.
posted by spock at 8:04 AM on November 6, 2008


Thanks spock, but like CL pointed out, my knowledge of how the terms are currently understood might be out of date. I haven't worked for a paper myself since the early 90s and most of what I know is secondhand through my mother and her staff (who are also old school). The changed understandings of the agreements are probably part of the problem -- I can recall one incident with one of Obama's campaign staffers where it played out a bit oddly: I think she called Hilary a "monster" to a reporter, and I think the quote was something like "She's a monster -- this is off the record -- and yadda yadda yadda." The "monster" comment got reported, and the reporter was technically within his or her rights to report that because the source said "off the record" after the word "monster," but ethically, her intent not to be quoted was clear. I wouldn't have reported it because it was so clear, and am surprised that it was reported.
posted by Miko at 8:06 AM on November 6, 2008


I believe Clinton and McCain thought they'd paid their dues and it was their turn and they underestimated Obama.

Relentless: How Barack Obama Outsmarted Hillary Clinton is a similar recap of the primaries.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:09 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


could an embedded reporter be used as a source by another reporter on "deep background" or "off the record"

I think yes, and it seems to happen a lot. I'd like to hear from current journalists on this too because as I've said I'm not in the trenches myself and don't have a true current understanding, but I think most journalists swapping information insist that it's background (if they even have to say it, it's often just understood. Most editors wouldn't hear of you quoting other journalists or using them as sources unless they are news subjects themselves). The reporter learning the new information still has to dig up sources and attributions for any such story before reporting anything and has to get it past the editorial vetting. But yes, journalists know a lot and tell each other a lot and give one another hints and story leads, so I'd imagine it could have happened on this sort of story.

Still, with this Newsweek deal, there may be contractual agreements that are stricter and more specific than general journalistic tradition. I don't know whether that's the case, but this deal might have been lawyerific. The conduct of a reporter in that situation might have to be very different than what's usual.
posted by Miko at 8:12 AM on November 6, 2008


I agree with those who said above that this really made the Clinton and McCain campaigns look incompetent. In fact, the skew of the article is such that it seems like Obama's victory can be attributed to their epic fails, as opposed to his epic win.

Can anyone give me some historical perspective? Were their campaigns significantly worse than most? Or were their campaigns "politics as usual?"
posted by Ms. Saint at 8:21 AM on November 6, 2008


could an embedded reporter be used as a source by another reporter on "deep background" or "off the record"

Reporters swap info all the time and certainly spread stuff they've heard that they have been told they can't attribute. But the campaign embeds are a different breed and take it pretty seriously - the candidate and his or her staff would never trust them otherwise.


The monster thing was Sam Power. She told a reporter for the Scotsman newspaper about Hillary: “She is a monster, too – that is off the record – she is stooping to anything.”

Had Power said that on a conference call or at a press conference, her attempt at retroactive damage control would not have flown. But when it's just one reporter, it's up to him or her to decide whether to burn the person or not. If the reporter had been one Power dealt with every day, likely the "monster" quote would never have been attributed to Power. But the Scotsman reporter had no qualms. She later went on TV to say she was sad Power had to quit because of her story, which I found a tad disingenuous.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:23 AM on November 6, 2008


Ms Saint - Hillary's campaign was, I believe, much worse than usual (check out Michelle Cottle's deliciously dishy post mortems for some eyepopping stuff.) They all hated each other, and made appalling mistakes (having the pollster be the message guy, wasting millions, treating the press as enemies, not planning for a delegate war, failing to establish clear lines of authority).
On the other hand, Obama's campaign was almost preternaturally controlled, on message and well run. They were two extremes.
McCain's campaign strikes me as a sort of run of the mill chaos. Maybe a little worse than some, given last year's schisms.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:33 AM on November 6, 2008


Chapter four is up
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:35 AM on November 6, 2008


'I've been to Waziristan. I've met Musharraf. I know the terrain' To me, this seemed like an attempt to claim all the experience, all the knowledge, all the foreign policy skill -- 'I've been everywhere, man!' But it backfired for me and, apparently, a lot of people. Playing the experience card made him look (1) old, like your grandpa recounting war stories; 2) scary and black-hatted and sneakily Cold War-ish and 3) outdated and ineffectual -- you have that much experience and have had that much involvement and this is the world you created?

I think that's because combined with them underestimating him, and perhaps some arrogance, McCain never went into detail. It's the difference between some newbie starting a website and challenging Matt and Matt says "I've been there, I have my personal website, I have Metafilter", and Matt saying "I've been there - Metafilter is a system with subsites and thousands of users with varied viewpoints. I understand that you want to implement an automatic system of control, but my community has grown exponentially and most users are happy with our flagging/moderation system. This is an example of a mixed system of social control."

Then to the grandpa recounting war stories - was McCain really thinking he could look like anything other than a grandpa? 70+ year old cancer survivor war hero? At that point, you're going to look like a grandpa - just go with it and be the warm, smart, knowing grandpa who people love because they know their shit.

As far as (2), perhaps it could have made him seem cold-warry. And maybe there was an easy counterpunch that prevented him from going this route, but if he'd have talked more about his experiences in an educational way, I think it would have been fascinating. And now that I think about it - you know what - that's probably what he was trying to get Obama into the town hall debates for. Which partially explains why he kept being all pissed about that, long after it was even a story.

For (3), that's pretty damning, but again, a vet would turn that around and say it took them 10 years just to understand the machinations of the senate, to understand which lawmakers favor this or that, and to now know that instinctually. You can't control everything as a senator, he should have made clear. He's running for president because he sees how the influence of the president can shape policy.

I guess my problem with him is that he's got all this supposed experience, and I learned nothing from him, except his war experience. He never acted like a vet. No way in hell you should let a rook beat you like that. He and Hillary failed in that regard, to me, and deserved to lose. But as has been pointed out, perhaps these strategies didn't occur to them, though they seemed obvious to me from jump, and clearly did to Obama & Biden.
posted by cashman at 8:37 AM on November 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Thirding the notion that "the lithium" was a misquote. You either know enough Trek to know "dilithium crystals" or you don't. It would be like saying Han Solo was encased in carbon, or the Delorean went back in time with a flux resistor. The term is better known than its context.
posted by condour75 at 8:45 AM on November 6, 2008


His staff tried to keep away overstimulating distractions, but it was hopeless.

Yeah, this is a guy I want in the White House.

Schmidt was a product of the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign. A midlevel staffer charged with running the rapid-response unit...

Aha, this is why McCain ran a tactical campaign. It's all Schmidt knows.

Man, this whole thing reads pretty bad. Why did they even need McCain in the campaign, if they were going to order him around and not listen to him?

Damn, I read to the end to get the juicy Palin stuff but that isn't until the next chapter!
posted by DU at 8:58 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


That December of 2006, Obama told Craig and Stevens,"Lay off me for a while. I've got to talk to Michelle."
posted by Kabanos at 9:02 AM on November 6, 2008


Chapter four is up

This stuff is awesome.
posted by cashman at 9:05 AM on November 6, 2008


At a private gathering in Aspen, Colo., in the summer of 2007, a friend asked Cindy whether she would stab Rove in the back if he walked by. "No," she answered, "I'd stab him in the front."

Hah!
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:08 AM on November 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


When distracted or restless, a not infrequent occasion, McCain could be tempted to play the high-school prankster. Once at a press availability in Kentucky he spotted a large woman, who was wearing a black T shirt embroidered with two bedazzling martini glasses, standing behind the photographers. He asked her to stand by him at the podium, where she might have a better view. "Is this OK?" he asked. "This is fi-ine!" the lady replied, but as she saw a sea of cameras and smirking reporters, she looked stunned and slightly embarrassed. She started to sidle away, and McCain asked, with mock forlornness, "You leaving me?"

What the fuck? This is how you treat a supporter who's so passionate about getting you elected, they've taken time out of their day to come and see you speak?

I've never typed these words on MetaFilter before, but Christ. What a motherfucking asshole.
posted by EarBucket at 9:10 AM on November 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


At the end of August, as Hurricane Gustav threatened the coast of Texas, the Obama campaign called the Red Cross to say it would be routing donations to it via the Red Cross home page. "Get your servers ready—our guys can be pretty nuts," Team Obama said. "Sure, sure, whatever," the Red Cross responded. "We've been through 9/11, Katrina, we can handle it."
The surge of Obama dollars crashed the Red Cross Web site in less than 15 minutes.



awesome. I love stuff like this.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:13 AM on November 6, 2008 [20 favorites]


(Several wealthy women who had raised money for Clinton decided instead to raise money for McCain; one of them, Lynn Forester de Rothschild, later said that Obama was an "elitist" who talked down to "rednecks.")


Mrs. Bluth, is that you?
posted by The Whelk at 9:29 AM on November 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


CAMERON: There was great concern in the McCain campaign that Sarah Palin lacked a degree of knowledgeability necessary...

If you're going to eschew the obvious 'knowledge' for 'knowledgeability, why not go all the way with 'knowledgeableness?'


StickyCarpet, I also thought that was a weird word. But according to wordnet, this is a noun: wisdom as evidenced by the possession of knowledge; "his knowledgeability impressed me"; "his dullness was due to lack of initiation"

In regards to Sarah Palin's ... knowledge, it could also be argued that (almost-ex) President Bush should have a certain amount of knowledge, too, but often flails about miserably when speaking in public.

As for keeping insider knowledge inside until a certain time, it's similar to non-disclosure agreements made more commonly in the business and technological fields. You can say certain things at certain times, or you get nothing but speculation and photo-ops.

While I wanted the stoic and well-spoken Obama to have his moment of exuberance at winning the presidency, I think his actions and words were fitting for the state of the nation and the recent loss of his grandmother. It would sully everything if he threw out a Howard Dean Beyah! (though it would be awesome, funny, and cause the masses to go batsh*t crazy)
posted by filthy light thief at 9:30 AM on November 6, 2008


And another webcomic about hope and prosperity: the ever-chipper Cat and Girl


spoiler


- You're going to be disappointed.
- I have until January 20!
posted by filthy light thief at 9:35 AM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I will say though I was disappointed Obama's camp proposed July 4 for a debate. That seems somewhere between disingenuous and stupid. I mean, really, drink and BBQ and then watch a quick LD debate and then fireworks? Wuh?
posted by Wood at 9:39 AM on November 6, 2008


found the second chapter fascinating. I didn't pay much attention to McCain until he essentially had the nomination, so it's easy for me to forget that he was inches away from losing the nomination at times. It's funny, I think I may have gained a little respect for him from that piece. Seeing an opponent's human side is not necessarily a bad thing.

Yeh, this. I feel increasingly sorry for McCain. Not that I wanted him to win, but would have been OK with him winning in 2000. Especially if it had been 2000-era McCain. We wouldn't have seen torture, for one thing, whatever his recent volte face.

Also: he can't touch the top of his head? Woah. He's lucky he can eat, then. Poor guy.
posted by bonaldi at 9:40 AM on November 6, 2008


Especially if it had been 2000-era McCain. We wouldn't have seen torture, for one thing...

I'm not so sure. While it's true that the story makes it sound like McCain was opposed to his own messaging and position statements, he nonetheless mouthed and obeyed them. The fact that he fell in line even on torture indicates he probably would have done the same as the current sock on Dick Cheney's hand. I'm sick of feeling sorry for willing puppets.
posted by DU at 9:45 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I want a PIRATES FOR MCCAIN T shirt so bad it hurts.
posted by slickvaguely at 10:00 AM on November 6, 2008


I'm absolutely lost in Obama threads here, so if the mods kill it, the mods kill it,

AP: Obama wins North Carolina

YEAHH!!!! Gosh there used to be someone who posted here who I would LOVE to comment with right about now...

Wow, a democat win in NC. /swoon
posted by cavalier at 10:06 AM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


But both Hillary and John seemed to fail at doing what most vets can do pretty well, which is make the rookie look like a rookie. Maybe they were both too old and not skilled enough, but all I kept thinking was that if you're such a hardcore vet - show me. Take Obama's words and actions and pretty much laugh at him like he's a rookie. Go into calm, methodical detail and basically pat him on the head like "thanks for trying, kid".

McCain lost the election because they lost the under-40 vote, if the exit polls were anything to go by. You think coming across all snide to anyone under 60 would help that?

I mean, as theatre, it would be a delightful spectacle. "Old boomer says don't trust anyone under 60." But as a strategy I think it might be lacking.
posted by rodgerd at 10:07 AM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


would be like saying Han Solo was encased in carbon

umm...then what was he encased in?

(revealing utter Star Wars ignorance - my house was a tribbles-only zone, no ewoks allowed)
posted by jb at 10:09 AM on November 6, 2008


Carbonite.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:14 AM on November 6, 2008


Carbonite, you nerf herder.
posted by designbot at 10:14 AM on November 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Yours was a better answer, laser-brain.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:14 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


To me, this seemed like an attempt to claim all the experience, all the knowledge, all the foreign policy skill -- 'I've been everywhere, man!' But it backfired for me and, apparently, a lot of people.

It backfired for me because things are generally screwed up and sad shape, so actively taunting experience while seemingly blind to the situation was incredibly stupid in my book.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:16 AM on November 6, 2008


McCain lost the election because they lost the under-40 vote, if the exit polls were anything to go by. You think coming across all snide to anyone under 60 would help that?

Back in the primaries, this happened:

At least two of Hillary Clinton’s upper-echelon advisers, Mandy Grunwald and Mark Penn, were decidedly unimpressed.

“Our people look like caucus-goers,” Grunwald said, “and his people look like they are 18. Penn said they look like Facebook.”


It made me and many of my peers that much more determined to volunteer for and support Obama, I remember. So you might have something there.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:22 AM on November 6, 2008


their campaign mantra from Day One has been "no drama". I.e. no childish infighting, no airing of dirty laundry. And that, as much as anything else, won them the presidency. The willingness to set everything aside and work together, inspired by a common vision and an exceptional leader.

Maybe this is true, but the article is so fawning towards the Obama campaign and so obviously hostile to the Clinton campaign, that I have no way to know if that is actually true or just the reporters reinforcing the mythology.

I hate Clinton as much as the next guy, probably more than the next guy, but part of what makes this such a trashy read to me (if enjoyable) is how blatantly biased it is towards Obama.
posted by serazin at 10:24 AM on November 6, 2008


From my experience, I remember around December last year I had barely heard of Obama, merely that he was a politician that had opposed the Iraq war. He didn't stand out from the rest of the pack of presidential hopefuls.

This all changed one morning when I was listening to listening to an NPR report on Obama, and at 4:15 into the program, I heard Obama calling up a reporter to apologize for messing up his game. For a moment I sat there stunned, unbelieving, because presidential candidates just didn't act like that. And then I realized we had something special and brilliant in Obama.
posted by happyroach at 10:34 AM on November 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


Psyched that Obama compared his wife's belt buckle to the dilithium crystals on the Enterprise...

I, too, am incrediably impressed - more than I should be - by a public figure knowing what dilithium crystals are...

We elected a secret Trekkie?

...But what will become of our next generation if there is nobody to teach them that Spock's blood type is t-negative and he has traces of nickel and copper in his blood, turning it green?

...lithium ...dilithium

...Trekkies... traditional Vulcan greeting... Nimoy... SECRET ROMULAN...

What page is the (di)lithium crystal thing on?

It would be like saying Han Solo was encased in carbon, or the Delorean went back in time with a flux resistor.


NERDS!
posted by timeistight at 10:34 AM on November 6, 2008


Awesome post. I love this behind-the-scenes investigative journalism, and it's tightly written. It sheds a lot of light on a Huffington Post article ericb posted in another thread, GOP Civil War Begins. Especially telling to me was this quote from House Minority Leader John Boehner in a letter to his fellow Republicans, wherein he begged not to be fired. The quote that stood out to me was this:
"America remains a center-right country. Democrats should not make the mistake of viewing Tuesday's results as a repudiation of conservatism or a validation of big government. Neither should we. Instead of throwing in the towel, as our opponents demand, we must redouble our efforts to develop forward-looking solutions to the challenges Americans face - solutions rooted in the enduring principles of reform that define us as a party. We need to focus on winning the issues, one by one, and presenting principled, superior alternatives that reflect the center-right priorities of the American people, rather than the self-serving priorities of Washington."
You see what he did there? "Center-right". Even GOP pols like Boehner are disavowing the Talibaptists. The "anonymous source" telling FOX that Palin didn't know what countries were in Africa and thought Africa was a country is a part of that. Just as many had predicted, Palin and her snake-handling zealots are now seen as an unstable liability. I think only John Bolton remains a fan of Palin (anyone watching BBC on election night might know what I'm talking about here), as the rest of the GOP is taking that "shameful morning-after" routine with her and the other religious extremists.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:35 AM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


... didn't know what countries were in NAFTA, that is ...
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:37 AM on November 6, 2008


I hate Clinton as much as the next guy, probably more than the next guy, but part of what makes this such a trashy read to me (if enjoyable) is how blatantly biased it is towards Obama.

I think we have to consider the possibility that it's reality that's biased toward Barack Obama.
posted by EarBucket at 10:39 AM on November 6, 2008 [16 favorites]


so obviously hostile to the Clinton campaign

I've only read chapters 1-3 so far, but it seems to me that the piece is very sympathetic to Sen. Clinton and not at all kind to her campaign staff..and sort of bemused by Bill Clinton.

After reading the parts I've gone through so far, I feel like a complete tool for saying some...unkind...things about Hillary Clinton during the Dem primary to my friends and family. She comes across as a much better person than I thought she was. She, of course, deserves some blame for not managing her people -- including Bill -- better, but I now feel that she's the kind of person I would have been proud to call my President. I wish I could go back in time to unsay/unthink some of my former sentiments.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:46 AM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Surely, there were some bad moves in the Obama campaign, but none of them can be found here.

Either you haven't read all the articles or you haven't read them well. There are numerous places where Obama campaign missteps are explained.
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:49 AM on November 6, 2008


One of my favorite things (among many) about the last few weeks has been black people honking their horns at young hipster looking kids and yellin O-BA-MA! and then cackling.

Example: Last week I was in Baltimore crossing the street with a band carrying equipment. We stopped in the middle to let a bunch of black women in a slow-moving car pass. The driver stopped and honked, and leaned out the window and I was expecting something like "Watch it dummy!" but she grinned and shouted O-BA-MA hahahaha! and everybody cracked up. It's a wild combination of condescension and genuine appreciation I'd say. Like, thanks for making BHO your new bicycle you silly fickle sweet hipsters. LULZ 4GREATJUSTICE.

My other favorite bit has been the fact that I bet on the Bman back in December of last year. Looks like he really did put gas in my car! Again, THANKS!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:50 AM on November 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


embedding reporters (great term, spock!)

Reporters have been called embeds in campaigns since at least as early as 2003.
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:51 AM on November 6, 2008


I hate Clinton as much as the next guy, probably more than the next guy, but part of what makes this such a trashy read to me (if enjoyable) is how blatantly biased it is towards Obama.
I'm not sure. Around the primaries I was pretty neutral between Obama and Clinton but as things wore on my vagueish concerns about Clinton's pre-demonized nature morphed into concerns that she just wasn't very good at landing effective punches against an opponent. Obama, everything else aside, was just a lot better at playing the game of politics effectively. I don't mean that in a bad way -- being the president is a fundamentally political role. And the ability to accomplish one's goals without thrashing is critical.

Curiously, that quality is what seems to come out in the article too. Clinton and McCain are BOTH more sympathetic in this than many Obama supporters seemed to think during the campaign; it seems clear both wanted to steer clear of the racial landmines, and felt hamstrung by it rather than trying to push the buttons surreptitiously.
posted by verb at 10:55 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Midterms happened on November 7, 2006. Why would you lay out your vision for your presidential campaign to other people... before you had your family's sign-off on running in the first place?

And is it possible that only in December 2006, he and Michelle were having this conversation? Surely he had done vast planning before that point, in order to hit so hard in Q1 2007.

I don't know. The timing seems off. Mustn't Obama have already made the decision, at the point by which the Newsweek authors are saying he was still uncommitted and pitching the idea to his wife?


I actually see this as the rational and appropriate way to handle it, and it's not atypical for a lawyer to take this approach. You consider and plan and think and overthink the epic step you want to take, and you consider all the pros and cons and make sure all your ducks are in a row, including discussing it with the people whom you're going to partner with. Then, when you're ready to flip the switch, you bring your case to the judge and jury -- in this case, your wife and children, who ultimately have to be convinced.

I can only hope he takes the same approach with epic policy decisions before bringing them to the attention of the American people. It would sure beat the heck out of a reactionary or "we've decided this without you" approach.
posted by davejay at 10:57 AM on November 6, 2008


Oh, wait, here's a much shorter way of saying it: he may have been personally committed to the idea, but he had committed his family to it without their say-so, and he did not ask them to decide until he'd fully committed himself to the idea. Again, seems rational and appropriate.
posted by davejay at 10:58 AM on November 6, 2008


Oops!

but he had not committed his family to it without their say-so

Big differnce there.
posted by davejay at 10:59 AM on November 6, 2008


What I don't understand, is why or how Hillary Clinton and John McCain got so shook during their early battles with Obama, that they couldn't use their long history to pwn him.

I'm a huge boxing fan, and throughout this whole election it seemed to me like first Clinton and then McCain were going for a knockout every round. And every round that goes by where you don't put the guy on the mat, the more desperate you get for that next round KO. Meanwhile your opponent is solidly landing jab, and showing off for the crowd, because he decided going in that the only way he could win was on points.

The biggest pitfall in campaigning is believing your own stories. You decide that your best attack is to say your opponent isn't ready, and eventually you start to believe it, even if it's not true. Once they got it in their heads that a rookie couldn't win, was when they lost.

Simply put, they underestimated him.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:00 AM on November 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


364? Oh hells yes.
posted by chunking express at 11:18 AM on November 6, 2008


This picture says it all.
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:18 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


About "Palin doesn't know Africa is a continent!" being a GOP inside smear: I told my wife about that this morning, and she said the same thing. I would have thought so too, but for one personal experience.

In high school (senior year), a classmate of mine was asked to get up and point out South Africa on a big wall map of the world. Just cause she was sitting closest to the map -- it wasn't some kind of test. She got up and sort of gestured vaguely toward the map. "South Africa?" prompted the teacher. My classmate looked sort of lost. "It's in Africa, right at the bottom," said the teacher. My classmate sort of shrugged. "Do you know where Africa is?" said the teacher, at this point kind of incredulous.

No, she didn't know where Africa was on a map. This is not a stupid girl. It was a fairly well-heeled private day school in Massachusetts. We're seniors. And she was not able to locate Africa on a map.

Now, I imagined, what if she'd been sitting on the other side of the room that day? Someone else would have pointed out South Africa. And maybe my friend would have been looking at something else at the time, or daydreaming or whatever. And when, beyond high school, would she have been forced to identify Africa on a map? That may possibly have been the last time anyone would have demanded it of her. With a sufficient, and ordinary American, level of disinterest in the outside world, she could easily have gone through the rest of her life only having the vaguest idea that Africa is "somewhere else," and not of any concern to her.

So, as implausible as it seems, I believe that Palin could very well not have been aware that Africa isn't just a country, or that NAFTA stands for "North American Free Trade Agreement" and, sort of by inplication, involves Canada, the US and Mexico. It's amazing what it is possible to not know, if knowing things is not important to you.
posted by rusty at 11:21 AM on November 6, 2008 [15 favorites]


Another reason Clinton couldn't say, "here's where that was tried and why it sadly won't work," was the overall policy agreement between the two candidates. Barack and Hillary occupied nearly identical policy positions throughout the primary.
posted by Richard Daly at 11:22 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Effigy: Epoch Win
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:26 AM on November 6, 2008


Honestly, what this all reveals to me is not Obama=Messiah, but that presidential campaigns are all-too-often shoddily run. He had an amazing team, and was himself extremely talented and brought a lot to the table. But then, why is it so unusual that he had an amazing team? Why were the other two teams so horrible and disorganized? Obama's campaign should be a standard, not an exception.

Clinton had the talent and many of the same ideas but a crappy team, especially Mark Penn, who should never get any work again.

McCain did not have the talent (he's a mediocre legislator and throws his principles under the bus at every opportunity) or the team. All he had was fear, and this year, it wasn't enough to overcome Obama's other advantages.
posted by emjaybee at 11:34 AM on November 6, 2008


It's amazing what it is possible to not know, if knowing things is not important to you.

Exactly. If your philosophy is "I don't need none of that high-falutin' knowledge, I got horse-sense and I know people!" then you probably can't locate Africa on a map. If your day job doesn't depend on locating Africa on a map, you might be OK (at least in the short term). A VP should probably be a little more geographically aware than this, though.
posted by DU at 11:39 AM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


An exciting read!
posted by Flex1970 at 11:42 AM on November 6, 2008


Effigy: Epoch Win

Heh. I bet his hair matches the other guys' in a few years.
posted by Tehanu at 11:46 AM on November 6, 2008


I need chapter 5 like I need air.
posted by inconsequentialist at 11:49 AM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


It is very addictive. Like a trashy novel you keep meaning to put down once you get to the end of the next cheesy scene. Or so I've heard.
posted by Tehanu at 11:50 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Chapter 5 is up.
posted by inconsequentialist at 11:58 AM on November 6, 2008


Potomac Ave: It's a wild combination of condescension and genuine appreciation I'd say. Like, thanks for making BHO your new bicycle you silly fickle sweet hipsters. LULZ 4GREATJUSTICE.

This, to me, is the greatest thing about this election. Seriously. As I walked home on election night, I stopped and stared--completely nonplussed--at the Black-folk-and-hipster party happening in the streets. I still don't understand why no one is talking about this; each time I've read nonsense balderdash about the coming together of "black and white" in the wake of the electoral results, I want to interrupt with a, "No, no you fools! It's far more important than that! We have witnessed the coming together of black and hipster."
posted by youarenothere at 12:05 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Obama's chief of staff, Jim Messina, had slept only a few hours when his cell phone rang. It was still dark on the morning of Aug. 29. Messina and a few other staffers had gone to a bar to carouse after Obama's speech.

"Get your ass up," said the voice on the other end. "They picked Palin."

Messina could not mistake Plouffe's flat, no-nonsense voice, but he was still groggy. "F––– you," he said. "Why are you waking me up? Stop teasing me." "I'm serious," said Plouffe. "Get up and get your team together." Messina stumbled out of bed, thinking that Republicans must really be panicking, that they would never pick someone like Sarah Palin unless they were desperate.

Obama's plane was taking off from Denver airport around 9 a.m. when Axelrod got confirmation that McCain had indeed picked Palin as his running mate. He went to the front cabin to tell Obama and his new running mate, Joe Biden. Biden asked, "Who's Palin?"


This is great.
posted by Tehanu at 12:12 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is not a stupid girl.

I dunno, Africa has a pretty distinct size and shape, you know?

Palin is a governor, with big ambitions. You'd think she'd study a bit, become familiar with things. But she's so ignorant, she doesn't know how ignorant she is, which is dangerous.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:17 PM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


youare: What can I say? We're irresistible! Maybe it's the Cool Kids fault for making being black look so, I don't know, ironic?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:19 PM on November 6, 2008


I've read this before but it is still a great image.

Obama just shook his head when he reported back to his aides. He told them that Treasury Secretary Paulson had gotten down on one knee to beg House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not to blow up the deal. "Henry, I didn't know you were Catholic," she said. She told him to go beg the House Republicans.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:23 PM on November 6, 2008


Quick note: Axelrod is going to be the Senior Advisor in the White House. I am really happy about this because he had said previously that he didn't want to leave Chicago. Get ready for team Obama/Emanuel/Axelrod.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:36 PM on November 6, 2008


"Salter tried to strike up a conversation. He knew that Todd was half native Alaskan and a championship snow-machine racer.

"So what's the difference between a snowmobile and a snow machine, anyway?" Salter asked. "They're the same thing," Todd replied. "Right, so why not call it a snowmobile?" Salter joshed.
"Because it's a snow machine," came the reply.

Later, Schmidt and Salter went outside so that Salter could have a cigarette.

"So how about the Eskimo? Is he on the level?" Schmidt asked.

Salter just shrugged and took another drag."


Fabulous.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:44 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Obama's new site: Change.gov
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:57 PM on November 6, 2008 [6 favorites]




Obama's new site: Change.gov

New pretty website, complete with counter to Inauguration (75 days). Yes, my internet Obamamance will continue. <3
posted by Tehanu at 1:04 PM on November 6, 2008


Ms. Saint writes "Can anyone give me some historical perspective? Were their campaigns significantly worse than most? Or were their campaigns 'politics as usual?'"

Looks to me like Clinton and McCain both ran machine politics campaigns, top-down, with no visionary themes driving either one. They both assumed that their legacies would sweep them into office without much trouble. They both ran as experienced candidates, as opposed to "change," but in both cases they tried to co-opt Obama's theme and ended up running against themselves. In a lot of ways, McCain's and Clinton's campaigns were very typical and had a hard time being flexible (which is typical of machine politics), and Obama's was not, which turned out to be a huge advantage for Obama, and a huge detriment to his opponents. They both ran good, although rather pedestrian campaigns. Obama's was a game-changer and was unlike anything seen before on a national scale, and he was willing and able to learn and adapt. If Obama weren't in the picture, I'm sure Clinton would have won, and I bet she's still thinking about that.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:05 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


"No, no you fools! It's far more important than that! We have witnessed the coming together of black and hipster."

Pfft... I was into TV On The Radio way before I was into this election.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:08 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


It is very addictive. Like a trashy novel you keep meaning to put down once you get to the end of the next cheesy scene.

It's like a real-world version of the Obamadämmerung / Obama and the Pirates of Wichita post-apocalyptic sci-fi political fiction thing posted a while back!
posted by mothershock at 1:10 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


It even has a crew of squabbling wannabe-pirates who crash their ship into the lagoon!
posted by Tehanu at 1:15 PM on November 6, 2008


Change.gov.. now with RED White and Blue! Dear god I want to meet every member of his web team and give them a big kiss.

Ever since their website opened with that Gotham font.. I said ooooh.. there's a communication medium I can believe in.. [non-snarky, I'm a font whore]
posted by cavalier at 1:18 PM on November 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm a technogroupie either, but I think their web people are gods.
posted by Tehanu at 1:24 PM on November 6, 2008


And when, beyond high school, would she have been forced to identify Africa on a map?

If we were talking about locating Eritrea or some micronesian island, that would be understandable. But this is a vice presidential candidate that couldn't even identify an entire CONTINENT.

I used to say the same thing about math and never took it seriously in school. "When am I ever going to need to use this?" Unfortunately there have been times where being able to create a simple equation eluded me and I had to go scrambling for a calculator to do simple math. There have been other times where a lack of calculator availability has left me looking pretty damn stupid.

There really isn't any excuse for someone who could potentially be the second most powerful person in the country to not have a basic understanding of geography. She should be ashamed of herself for thinking her ignorance was acceptable. You can't be the leader of a nation with global influence if you don't know the bounds of your influence. She's supposed to at least give us the impression that she's more qualified for VP than Paris Hilton.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 1:26 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


NPR: Palin's Return Home

The Governor's staff have a big job to do repairing relationships with the local media, who have bristled at their lack of access to the Governor while she campaigned for the Vice Presidency. But the McCain campaign staff that flew in with Palin just wanted to get her home and tried to kibosh the press conference. After a spirited discussion between the two forces, the Governor's own press staff prevailed. You can hear the McCain handlers in the background repeatedly trying to cut off the avail ("thank you everybody! thank you!") as Palin continues to take questions.
posted by Tehanu at 1:36 PM on November 6, 2008


As CunningLinguist mentioned, the New Republic's Michelle Cottle had some terrific inside reporting from Hilaryland, concluding with a postmortem, Voices in Her Head, and the quote-collage What Went Wrong. The Newsweek articles are insanely addictive, but they're not up to the level of her pieces.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:30 PM on November 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


Chapter 5 is up.

I feel like one of those anxious readers waiting on the New York docks for the next installment in the latest Dickens serial. Can't get enough of this.

I'm also reading the Obama-Clinton story that kirkaracha linked to. (or will be reading it as soon as I'm done with Chapter 5 and assuming that Chapter 6 isn't ready soon.)

Any other juicy campaign tales I should know about?
posted by marsha56 at 2:38 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Any other juicy campaign tales I should know about?

The Front-Runner's Fall.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 2:46 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks ComEd!
posted by marsha56 at 3:11 PM on November 6, 2008


Yay, chapter 6!

Man, who knew that this election would turn me into a politics nerd?
posted by bluishorange at 3:18 PM on November 6, 2008


I don't know that I'd agree that Obama's campaign was unlike any ever seen before. The Republicans I think laid the groundwork during the contract with America campaign. By 2000 and 2004, the Republicans had massive organizations and GOTV campaigns on the ground. Gore, Kerry, and Hillary Clinton lost IMO partly because they played the battleground state game (until she conceded in June, Clinton was insisting that she won the states that mattered.)

Obama, I think, was smart enough to realize that the 50-state strategy of total war was needed. A dollar is a dollar and a volunteer caller is a volunteer caller. One of Obama's strengths was the ability to turn a national campaign into an asset, while Clinton and McCain were forced to blow money they didn't have in places they shouldn't have had to defend.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:19 PM on November 6, 2008


"McCain's vetting operation had relied heavily on Internet searches for background checks."

Sounds about right. I will give credit to internet users for vetting her after she was picked however *cough* Palin thread.
posted by clearly at 3:21 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I filled out a job application on change.gov. What the hell, you never know.
posted by desjardins at 3:49 PM on November 6, 2008


Obama never lost his ironic detachment, even when he was preparing for the most important public appearances of his life. - part 6

He's not just half-black, he's half-hipster!
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:50 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


If I don't get Chapter 7 by midnight tonight, I am going to hunt down and kidnap the Newsweek reporters and beat them with large fish until they recite it from memory.
posted by The Whelk at 3:53 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]



If I don't get Chapter 7 by midnight tonight, I am going to hunt down and kidnap the Newsweek reporters and beat them with large fish until they recite it from memory.


I've got some spoilers for you if you want to know how it ends.
posted by bibliowench at 4:04 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


if you want to know how it ends.

In tears.

The good kind.
posted by dersins at 4:10 PM on November 6, 2008


On the subject of the decline of journalistic ethics, I can tell this now, because I just got laid off. I was in a magazine editorial meeting last year with a man who was a consultant and the head of the journalism department for a major Southern university. An ethical question came up and his response was basically "It doesn't matter. All that stuff about journalists having a responsibility to the Constitution is bullshit. You can do whatever you want." I don't remember what the specific ethical issue was, and given the nature of the magazine it probably wasn't earth-shattering, but I was shocked that a man in his position would say something like that.
posted by vibrotronica at 4:14 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seems like there can only be one well-run presidential campaign organization per election, at least since I've been following politics. Bill Clinton's teams were better than his opponents' in 1992 and 1996, then Bush's were better in 2000 and 2004. Obama ran a very good campaign and both Hillary Clinton and John McCain ran bad campaigns (and if they can't run a campaign, how can they run the country?).

I realize they can't always hire the same people, but I'm not sure why they don't follow the examples of successful previous campaigns. Obama owes some of his success to Howard Dean's use of the internet and the 50-state strategy.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:15 PM on November 6, 2008


“outdated and ineffectual -- you have that much experience and have had that much involvement and this is the world you created?”

Same gaffes going on now. This whole “Obama has a lot of work ahead of him.” schtick.
Really? Lot of work, eh?
“Oh, my yes.”
Why’s that?
“Because our policies screwed up the country so badly *chuckles* that you’d haveta ...uh ....waitaminute.”
posted by Smedleyman at 4:16 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


From serazin: Maybe this is true, but the article is so fawning towards the Obama campaign and so obviously hostile to the Clinton campaign, that I have no way to know if that is actually true or just the reporters reinforcing the mythology.

I hate Clinton as much as the next guy, probably more than the next guy, but part of what makes this such a trashy read to me (if enjoyable) is how blatantly biased it is towards Obama.


Honestly, I feel like it's much more biased toward McCain, and maybe toward Clinton a bit less so. The picture we get of McCain is of a sincere man, one who got fed up with the grandiloquent speeches given him, who always wanted to take the high road, who - THIS - loved reporters. In fact, he seems so blameless as presented in this speech, so utterly not culpable for anything that happened, that it almost goes too far - I think he almost comes across as doddering.

Obama, on the other hand, is described as loving his own grandiosity, who's proud of himself, possibly excessively so, who knows which mask to wear in front of which audience, someone who is chilly, who - THIS - is distant with reporters.

Methinks someone was snubbed. Maybe one or two people.
posted by signalandnoise at 4:20 PM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


> All [McCain] had was fear, and this year, it wasn't enough to overcome Obama's other advantages.

We'd been living in state-imposed fear for seven years (Terrorism threat level color codes, airport security theater, the failure of domestic emergency services, multiple land wars in Asia, and global economic collapse to name a few causes).

This year, fear wasn't a marketing advantage. Scaring a vote out of me isn't going to go far. It was a crap campaign strategy regardless of who tried it.

Encouraging me with hope and positive prospects, on the other hand, was the most attractive, sexy, enticing thing a campaign could do this year.
posted by ardgedee at 4:23 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


The night of the election, I was out to dinner with my kids and in-laws. My older son had caught my election anxiety and was bouncing up and down, saying "I hope Obama wins! I hope he beats that mean old McCain." My in-laws are both former Republicans who have felt forced to, in their words, "hold [their] noses and vote Democrat" for the last two elections because they can't stand the increasing religious fundamentalism of the GOP. But they stopped my son and said to him (and, by extension, to me) "We don't want McCain to be president, but he's a good man. He's done a lot for his country, and you need to recognize that." Reading about his campaign helps remind me of what they were talking about. It a useful perspective in a race that many, myself included, have tended to see as between good and evil.

However, this kind of cracks my shit up:

Why, one aide asked him, did you never look at Obama? Because you told me not to! McCain retorted. It was true. McCain's debate coach, Brett O'Donnell, had noted Obama's tendency to look directly at an opponent while attacking, and he had instructed McCain not to get sucked in by meeting his gaze. But McCain had taken the advice a little too literally. "We didn't tell you not to look at him at all," one aide chided him.
posted by bibliowench at 4:27 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Now I'd like to know the real secrets.
posted by inconsequentialist at 4:36 PM on November 6, 2008


in this piece not "in this speech"
posted by signalandnoise at 4:44 PM on November 6, 2008


JOHN MCCAIN . ....SECRETS
posted by The Whelk at 4:45 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


You know, I read the bit in chapter 5 about how 'hurt' McCain's team were that people didn't believe they were playing the race card, that people wouldn't assume the best of them, and you know what?

Fuck them.

Fuck them to hell and back.

You do not get to spend 40 years of "Southern Strategy", of "Welfare Queens", of "Illegal Immigrants", of "Gay Maariage", of "Willie Horton", of "Feminazis", of appealing to racists and homophobes and mysogynists as your base and then turn into a fucking crybaby when people, gee-whizz, assume you're prone to being a fucking racist.
posted by rodgerd at 5:01 PM on November 6, 2008 [12 favorites]


Am I wrong, or have the US media downplayed the bulletproof glass around Obama during his victory speech in Grant Park?

Not surprisingly, that glass screen is strongly emphasized in Israeli coverage.

I, for one, am relieved that people are looking out for him. It really made me uneasy when Michele came on stage in a dress that evoked a black widow.
posted by Araucaria at 5:04 PM on November 6, 2008


Am I wrong, or have the US media downplayed the bulletproof glass around Obama during his victory speech in Grant Park?

I hadn't even realized it. Is that why the audio quality was particularly echo-y for an outdoor speech?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:40 PM on November 6, 2008


Ok, Newsweek. You can wrap it up anytime now. Anytime. The suspense is killing me.
posted by inconsequentialist at 5:43 PM on November 6, 2008


Ok, Newsweek. You can wrap it up anytime now. Anytime. The suspense is killing me.

Seriously. I hate these schemes for meaningless pageviews. Free Chapter 7!
posted by youarenothere at 5:55 PM on November 6, 2008


Pfft... I was into TV On The Radio way before I was into this election.

Don't forget The Negro Problem!

I also love change.gov. This shit is tight.
posted by snofoam at 6:03 PM on November 6, 2008


I also didn't notice the bulletproof glass. Pretty depressing that it was necessary or advisable. But man, his shit is tight.
posted by snofoam at 6:07 PM on November 6, 2008


I also can't wait for part 7, but to be fair, when I read part 1 I was expecting one part per day and I have been pleasantly surprised.
posted by snofoam at 6:10 PM on November 6, 2008


Yeah, Obama's security is going to have to be ramped up quite a bit. Here's some more information on what his security in Grant Park involved.

Obama was surrounded by three-inch thick bulletproof glass around the podium where he delivered his acceptance speech. Multiple arrests occurred, just days before, by the FBI who collared two white supremacists plotting to murder dozens plus Obama. This is on the heels of other arrests during the past few months as Obama's success became more possible.

Chicago also cordoned off streets, restricted access to the park during the hours before people began gathering and deployed its entire 13,500-strong police force. All its firefighters were put on constant alert and police efforts were coordinated to contain traffic and logistics problems. In addition, the city was a no-fly zone for 24 hours. People with tickets to the Obama celebratory party passed through metal detectors. Ticket holders were checked out after they registered.



I try not to think about this stuff. I just assume that he has the most bad ass team of Secret Service agents to ever be assembled. The Obamarmy. If you haven't heard, his code name is "44."
posted by inconsequentialist at 6:19 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Actually that security sounds about normal. For a president. Just sayin'. I'm extremely happy I did not notice the glass on TV.

And yeah.. job applications on change.gov.. shoot, I was this close to filling it in, if it was only X amount of years ago before the wife the kid the picket fence the mortgage etc.... Go get 'em , folks!
posted by cavalier at 6:32 PM on November 6, 2008


While we wait, here's a story about Obama's first trip to New York where he spent the night in an alley and bathed at a fire hydrant with a homeless man.
posted by inconsequentialist at 6:53 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


placeholder
posted by every_one_needs_a_hug_sometimes at 7:19 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I noticed the glass, figured it was normal for a President.


You know what these articles have done? To me? It humanized Cindy McCain. John McCain's total reluctance to read his speeches and visible uncomfort around Bush's party system was obvious. He never seemed in it to win, I just wish I didn't have to destroy his reputation in the attempt. Like a lot of people, I really liked, if disagreed with, McCain in 2000. His sudden 180 was something out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It's comforting to know that it wasn't a totally willing change, and you can see the desperate Bush-Cheney flacks telling him "You can reform from the inside! Shake things up! be a Mavericky Maverick! Just do this first and then we'll let you talk to the public." Horribly misguided, yes, but almost understandable and human.

Cindy, however, I knew nothing about. NOTHING. She just appeared on TV, on the web, this odd Cylon-lookin' lady with a frozen grin and Ming The Merciless Wardrobe. I just assume she was like the rest, a pill-popping Lady Of Lesuire cooly removed from anything. Knowing how angry she was, how upset at the way the campaign was run, how much she hated that horrible humoncoli Rove. Well, it made her an actual person for a brief second.

I also take back the mean things I said about Hillary. That line at the kitchen counter, "Why am I doing this, I love this house." says so much about her, her run, her marriage, that I almost want it to be a novelist's flourish.

Everyone needs a hug.
posted by The Whelk at 7:26 PM on November 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


For all of her disappointment at losing the nomination, Hillary Clinton should be thanking Barack Obama for doing something she herself wasn't able to accomplish. He humanized her. It was only after she found herself inexplicably behind that she found her own voice and really hit her stride as a candidate; her tenacity in particular was impressive, and people would not have seen that part of her personality if she had glided through the primary like a front-running automaton. That's going to serve her well for the rest of her political career.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:26 PM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Thanks for posting this; these articles are remarkable.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:50 PM on November 6, 2008


This picture says it all

Holy shit... We elected Sammy Davis Jr.? I love my country!

Seriously though, that's a powerful illustration and the Newsweek articles are fascinating -- just what I needed now that the election is over and refreshing TPM, 538, etc. feels like wandering the streets looking for a crack dealer only to find that the supply lines have all dried up. Now gimme chapter 7. Gimme gimme gimme!
posted by Balonious Assault at 11:33 PM on November 6, 2008


For the second debate, a town-hall format, Obama was told to be careful to hold the mike by his side—not straight up in his lap—when he sat down. The same instructions had been given to John Kerry four years ago. It wasn't hard to persuade the candidates to mind the advice, said an aide; all you had to do was show them a video.

What is the significance of this passsage? Did Kerry hold the mike in some inappropriate way?
posted by Locative at 11:47 PM on November 6, 2008


Locative I haven't seen the video of Kerry, but, um, er, imagine holding a straight object with a knob-like thing on the top, in your lap, straight up, like a.....
posted by vac2003 at 12:14 AM on November 7, 2008


...... microphone.
posted by vac2003 at 12:15 AM on November 7, 2008


During one of the debate preps, the lights blew, flickering on and off like a strobe light from the 1970s disco craze. Obama stood behind the podium, quietly singing the song "Disco Inferno," last popular in the heyday of "Saturday Night Fever."

Awesome.
posted by minifigs at 2:58 AM on November 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


I thought I was pretty much done with the Kool-Aid. Honest. Let's see how he works out, let's see what happens, etc. Yesterday I was almost totally cool, composed about the whole Obama #44 thing. Ok, whatevs, life goes on.

Must've been a cold or something -- today I'm giddy, bouncing, humming to myself. Strangest thing, I'm what, 32 years old or so? I can't remember feeling a stronger belief in the promise that is America. Yeah yeah yeah, he made a lot of campaign promises, I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the America where anything is possible if you work hard enough. Yeah, yeah, he went to Harvard, but how did he get there? Mumsy and Daddy didn't lineage him in. He had to work for it.

I read these articles and I see all the work he did, the work he had to do, and that gives me hope for the work he's going to do. But above all else, it gives me hope. It pours gasoline on my flickering flames of idealism and optimism and it sets them ablaze with what is possible.

There's some melodramatic line, I think it might even be from a Disney ride (American Adventure maybe?), where a woman intones something akin to "In times of trouble, America has always found the leader it needs to survive and prosper." I think this is just the thing. It's like some kind of hope tonic.

It's a wonderful thing.
posted by cavalier at 5:20 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Re: the glass. I can't imagine that he would be willing to take his children out on stage like that, at a very emotional moment, even being in a very pro-Obama place.

Plus I've decided he needs a pope-mobile. Safety first!
posted by sugarfish at 6:14 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Plus I've decided he needs a pope-mobile. Safety first!

I'm starting to agree with you. When people first started floating attack fears, I did some reading around about what is known about people who try to assassinate leaders and what motivates them. My conclusion at that time was that he was not necessarily at greater risk because of his race - these events are total outliers anyway, and if they can be motivated by things as random as the desire to meet Jodie Foster, it's a mistake to apply a rational, linear thought process (no matter how evil) to them. But I'm now feeling that he needs the extra protection because he is such a celebrity, such a totemic figure. All eyes are on him, the camera loves him and his family, the imagery and branding his team uses is epic and iconic. Many people are motivated to attack leaders because they themselves want the oddball gratification of winning notoriety, of having everyone know their name. Obama's immense fame and public regard are greater risk factors than race.

So fire up the Obama-Bubble force-shield!

When I first saw Obama speak in NH, at the beginning of the primaries, I was really in awe of his security. There were guys - large guys - positioned about every dozen feet around the room. Their eyes were hawklike. They never stopped scanning the crowd, and one thing that I remember is that they made eye contact with every single person in the crowd. They were watching and you knew it. It reassures me to this day. And those were just Obama's own security - this was before Iowa and before Secret Service protection. I think those folks take their work with ultimate seriousness.
posted by Miko at 6:30 AM on November 7, 2008


I am happy, happy that John Kerry lost four years ago. Had that not happened, we wouldn't have Barack Obama today.

I believe that we should let Sarah Palin know that she doesn't need to fret over this election--it was preordained that The One was to win to lead out into a better America. She can sleep easy knowing that it was God's loving hand protecting America.

All those prayer chains that her evangelical buddies spewed were actually rerouted to Satan and (luckily) got deleted on the way down.



GOD'S WILL, BITCHES!

heh.
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:22 AM on November 7, 2008


During one of the debate preps, the lights blew, flickering on and off like a strobe light from the 1970s disco craze. Obama stood behind the podium, quietly singing the song "Disco Inferno," last popular in the heyday of "Saturday Night Fever."


video, please...
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:07 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


damn, just finished chapter 7 and now i'm fiendin'. MOAR!!1111!
posted by lord_wolf at 8:12 AM on November 7, 2008


How Obama won NC.
posted by chunking express at 8:13 AM on November 7, 2008


Plus I've decided he needs a pope-mobile. Safety first!

How about a Segway inside a giant plexiglass hamster ball. Better for the environment!
posted by brain cloud at 8:17 AM on November 7, 2008 [7 favorites]


During one of the debate preps, the lights blew, flickering on and off like a strobe light from the 1970s disco craze. Obama stood behind the podium, quietly singing the song "Disco Inferno," last popular in the heyday of "Saturday Night Fever."

...this sounds like the kind of thing I'd do.

Wow. Between this, hearing he was into the Buzzcocks in college, and hearing him make a joke about dilithium crystals, I'm realizing we actually elected someone with geek tendencies to the White House. That's...fantastic.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:43 AM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Maybe that's why we like him so much-- maybe he's a geek. He certainly seems to have hired admirable geeks to handle his web presence.
posted by Tehanu at 10:00 AM on November 7, 2008


I've just finished reading Chapter 7. What an epic saga.

And to think, we will have at least four more years to see this astonishing tale unfold further. Best of all, we are all bit players in it.
posted by thread_makimaki at 10:04 AM on November 7, 2008


Just finished the last chapter and I have to say Newsweek did a helluva job. Obama's basketball style sounds intimidating.
posted by Ber at 10:05 AM on November 7, 2008


People are going to have to strain a little harder to adore Obama in the coming months as much as they do now. There are so many "rock and a hard place" issues that any US president has to deal with that will leave some people feeling betrayed. I thought that last wave he gave in Grant park as he was exiting the stage behind the US flags was kind of symbolic of his transition from massively popular symbol of hope to the hard reality of his new position.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:10 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love the Dilithium crystals line. And don't you just know that at his first presidential security briefing yesterday he would have been all "yeh, Iraq, yeh. Now. About the aliens..."

Even if only in his special Obama inner voice.
posted by bonaldi at 10:48 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


In chapter 7 Obama campaign chief of staff says that Jay-Z is a tool.
posted by Free word order! at 11:23 AM on November 7, 2008


People are going to have to strain a little harder to adore Obama in the coming months as much as they do now.

I agree that his approval, if not adoration, will vary a lot. Anyone who elected him with a peace agenda in mind, for one thing, may be surprised that he's not actually a big dove, just in favor of strategic use of the military (as opposed to idiotic use). And he's going to preside over some terrible conditions and do some things few people like. But every job I've ever had, and every boss I've ever had, has followed this arc: before you're hired and in your 'honeymoon' phase, people think you're awesome and you think the job's awesome. During the time of your employ, it is more complicated - people take different sides on decisions, personallity conflicts occur, power needs to be used, reality intrudes on idealism. But then, after you leave employ, everyone remembers your accomplishments and how great you were compared to the a*hole that's the boss now, and those accomplishments go on your resume, and if you're lucky, some of them survive the ravages of time and your memory is honored. Obama's smart enough to get this and doesn't seem too worried about people disagreeing with him at times. The electorate as a whole probably isn't quite that smart, but their memories are short, so that ultimately if he accomplishes even half of his agenda his will still be remembered as a monumental Presidency.

If you look back at Presidencies history has judged as great or significant, what you find is that in their own times, people's attitudes toward them were complex, not universally loving or approving. Alot of people hated Lincoln, but we still have a Union. Huey Long and rich businessmen and isolationists groused like hell about FDR, but we still won World War II and created a social safety net and much of today's federal government. Federalists hated Thomas Jefferson, but we still avoided establishing a state religion and we held on to the Louisiana Purchase (we ended up with a central national bank anyway, though!)

I think the more we can urge supporters to take the long view, the better it will be for his Presidency. I'm pretty sure he takes the long view and is less worried about being liked than being effective.
posted by Miko at 12:34 PM on November 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


Wow. Between this, hearing he was into the Buzzcocks in college...

Stop the presses! Where did you hear that?
posted by ericthegardener at 2:26 PM on November 7, 2008


Miko: Your comment reminds me of something Obama wrote called What I see in Lincoln's Eyes. The last three paragraphs are my favorite part, including this one:

What I marvel at, what gives me such hope, is that this man could overcome depression, self-doubt and the constraints of biography and not only act decisively but retain his humanity. Like a figure from the Old Testament, he wandered the earth, making mistakes, loving his family but causing them pain, despairing over the course of events, trying to divine God's will. He did not know how things would turn out, but he did his best.
posted by inconsequentialist at 2:51 PM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


# O NOES MAVERICkS! PLEEZ DONT UNLEASH YOUR AWESOME BASE-MOBILIZNG POWERZ ON US!
excellent. the plan is already working.
posted by verb at 9:02 PM on November 7, 2008


Only 20% of GOP voters say Palin hurt the party’s ticket, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey

Fortunately, that's all we needed. Thanks, Palin!
posted by Miko at 9:40 PM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Among Republicans, 66% of men and 61% of women say Palin is their choice for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Sixty-six percent (66%) of GOP women have a Very Favorable view of her, as do 64% of men.


I find this absolutely astonishing. Do these people watch nothing but Fox News? Have they not noticed how ignorant she is or do they simply not care?
posted by leftcoastbob at 10:13 PM on November 7, 2008


I've only just now read all 7 chapters. I do think it was rather biased towards McCain. McCain thinks of himself as a maverick and a romantic, and the reporters keep using his self-described qualities even when they're contradicted by events. I think they're a bit like Salter, the guy who wrote McCain's books and speeches - they've bought into McCain's self-image, and haven't quite twigged that the image is not the reality.

McCain rarely acts like a maverick in these reports - most of the time he's happy to go along with whatever the party machine wants him to do. They even describe how easy it was to get him to go with a negative campaign, because he's always ready to do what they want! His few maverick decisions were ones that, like the Palin choice, gave him nothing but trouble. Left to his own devices, he makes really crappy decisions.

I think the reporters wanted McCain to come across like a good person in the article. And he does, sort of. But he also comes across as someone with a childish impulsiveness, a short attention span (so many mentions of him getting bored or disinterested in stuff that was really important for his campaign), a slightly mean streak (making fun of one of his supporters), and no real people-skills. How is someone like that going to manage the largest government in the world? Is he going to tease other world leaders then get in a huff because they want to talk seriously? I'm not all that impressed with his naivety and his impulsive 'romantic' attitude.

Hillary, on the other hand, seemed to be what they described: a good law-maker who wasn't running a good campaign. I sincerely hope she gets to go back to the house she loves, and gets a lot of productive legislative work done. I'll be interested to see what she does next.
posted by harriet vane at 12:37 AM on November 8, 2008


Do these people watch nothing but Fox News? Have they not noticed how ignorant she is or do they simply not care?

Yes. No. Yes.
posted by brain cloud at 9:05 AM on November 8, 2008


But he also comes across as someone with a childish impulsiveness, a short attention span (so many mentions of him getting bored or disinterested in stuff that was really important for his campaign), a slightly mean streak (making fun of one of his supporters), and no real people-skills. How is someone like that going to manage the largest government in the world?

Well, fortunately, you've already got an example of the traits you describe sitting in the White House, so you can answer that question.
posted by rodgerd at 10:35 AM on November 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


Heh, so true. Although I guess I assumed that Bush had some people skills, in that he seemed like a popular frat-boy type. But it's hardly adequate for the job.

And it exactly answers what was going to be my next question: I can see why Rove and Cheney types would want someone like that, but what made McCain himself think he was capable of handling the job?
posted by harriet vane at 5:19 AM on November 9, 2008


>Wow. Between this, hearing he was into the Buzzcocks in college...

Stop the presses! Where did you hear that?


Somewhere here in the Blue, I think?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:54 PM on November 9, 2008


Yeah, it seems unlikely to me too. It'd be awesome, but still, cite plz.

On a related note, the Telegraph (UK) writes that Obama speaks Spanish. Is there anything to base this on aside from the one "yo apruebo este mensaje" line he did for a Spanish-language ad?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:17 PM on November 9, 2008


From the Miami Herald:
Earlier this week, Obama campaign advisors told Herald correspondent Casey Woods that, while not fluent in Spanish, Obama can understand it, and that he picked up this skill as a Chicago community organizer. That may be stretching it: In an interview earlier this year, Obama told me that he doesn't speak Spanish, nor has he ever visited a Spanish-speaking Latin American country.
Whether he speaks, understands or is simply parroting what an advisor is telling him, I don't doubt he'd be able to pick it up quickly if he needed to, and may well have a vested interest in doing so considering the growing importance of both the Hispanic vote in the US and Central and South American interests internationally.

Oh, and he has to make sure and soothe the Prime Minister of Spain after McCain's gaffe, of course ... "Pobrecito!"
posted by Happy Dave at 1:18 AM on November 10, 2008


Thank you for posting this thbt, I wouldn't have seen it, not being a Newsweek subscriber. I'm up to part four:
(Several wealthy women who had raised money for Clinton decided to raise money for McCain, one of them, Lynn Forester de Rothschild, later said that Obama was an "elitist" who talked down to "rednecks".)
Priceless.
posted by tellurian at 4:24 AM on November 12, 2008


Part six now:
During one of the the debate preps, the light blew, flickering on and off like a strobe light from the 1970s disco craze. Obama stood behind the podium, quietly singing the song "Disco Inferno," last popular in the heyday of "Saturday Night Fever."
I'm loving this.
posted by tellurian at 3:07 AM on November 13, 2008


Okay, finished now: I can't help but feel a little sorry for McCain. I don't think that he was able to run the campaign the way he wanted to (not that I feel he knew himself). I assume that he's kicking himself for the advice he took (or kicking the people who gave it to him) because a lot of it was bad/wrong. In the end though, regardless of what the Republicans did, Obama was the best choice.
posted by tellurian at 5:38 AM on November 13, 2008


And... the "didn't know Africa was a continent" thing was bullshit.

Now come the inevitable "See, Palin isn't stupid -- she was just painted that way" versus "Yeah but tell me why such a claim seemed even faintly believable".
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:05 AM on November 13, 2008


That should be "yeah, then" not "yeah, but". (as in: not yeah)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:06 AM on November 13, 2008


And... the "didn't know Africa was a continent" thing was bullshit.

No it wasn't. Or at least we have no evidence that it was. What we still have is an anonymous quote reported by Newsweek. A blogger who is an elaborate fake identity and pretends to have the inside scoop on McCain claimed to be the leak for that quote. That claim was bullshit, but that's all there is to the story here. Newsweek was talking to actual campaign staff for months, so it seems someone inside the McCain campaign really did say that about her. If evidence had surfaced that Newsweek had made that up or their source had made that up, that'd be different.

From your own link:
The hoax was limited to the identity of the source in the story about Palin — not the Fox News story itself. While Palin has denied that she mistook Africa for a country, the veracity of that report was not put in question by the revelation that Eisenstadt is a phony.

No offense meant against your personally Durn Bronzefist-- you are something like the 15th person I've seen saying this and that's from just skimming parts of two Mefi threads over lunch. But this whole thing reminds me of when actual pundits quote Stephen Colbert as if he's one of them. Media has become so infotainment based that it's like no one reads or watches for actual comprehension anymore. People just wait for one little kernel of truth-like substance and go running hither and yon repeating it. I've caught myself doing it too. Huffington Post has quoted this non-existent person in their articles at least twice. Now a whole bunch of comments on blogs today misrepresent what the true bullshit is and are spreading the idea that the whole story's false.

See also.
posted by Tehanu at 10:25 AM on November 13, 2008


The issue is the Times wording was vague.http://www.swamppolitics.com/news/politics/blog/2008/11/palin_deserves_an_apology.html


Meanwhile, this is Palin's own quote about the issue:

"I think that if there are allegations based on questions or comments that I made in debate prep about Nafta, and about the continent versus the country when we talk about Africa there, then those were taken out of context."
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:10 AM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


whoops. sorry for linky problem. Meant to say: Cameron denies the hoaxter was his source.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:11 AM on November 13, 2008


Australia is going to be so bummed to hear their distinguishing geopolitical feature is not so distinguishing anymore.
posted by Tehanu at 11:20 AM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


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