Obama was faltering in a way his closest advisers had never witnessed.
November 2, 2013 7:03 PM   Subscribe

Excerpts from the upcoming book "Double Down", Obama's tension-filled debate preparation following his poor performance in Denver

Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, authors of Game Change, have returned with further political journalism regarding the ins and outs of the 2012 presidential campaign.

Review from the Washington Post

Juicy quotes from Gawker
posted by warm_planet (107 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
For an excerpt of a Romney-centric portion of the book, there's "The Hunt for Pufferfish".
Ted Newton and Chris Oman, two veep background checkers, concluded it was best to communicate in code. Based on their junk-food-saturated vetting diet, they called their undertaking Project Goldfish (after the crackers)—ultimately giving each of the VP finalists an aquatic code name.

[...]

Christie (Pufferfish), Pawlenty (Lakefish), Portman (Filet o Fish), Rubio (Pescado) and Ryan (Fishconsin).
I heart this bit of trivia so much. Fishconsin better take off as Ryan's nickname.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:13 PM on November 2, 2013 [30 favorites]


ON FISHCONSIN
posted by scody at 7:27 PM on November 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


Tldr: Two of the biggest hacks in the business try to squeeze some drama out of an election that was never actually in doubt based on Nate Silver's model.
posted by humanfont at 7:30 PM on November 2, 2013 [35 favorites]


This kind of inside baseball shit is super hollow in light of the illegal NSA wiretapping, drone strikes, Guantanamo, etc., etc. I always thought I would be the last one disappointed (since my expectations were so low), but here I am.
posted by letitrain at 7:33 PM on November 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


Tldr: Two of the biggest hacks in the business try to squeeze some drama out of an election that was never actually in doubt based on Nate Silver's model.

Agreed

Given these 2 Morning JoesMamas, and after reading this article, the whole thing is stacking up to be just another stupid MJ segment on paper and yet another MSNBC sponsored and overhyped book shill.

Grabbing handfuls of salt grains to take this book with.
posted by lampshade at 7:46 PM on November 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


The most self-contained president in modern history (and, possibly, the most self-possessed human on the planet) was laying himself bare, deconstructing himself before their eyes—and admitting he was at a loss.

The narrative arc of Obama-as-scrappy-yet-insightful-underdog just sucked me in.

I WANT TO BELIEVE.
posted by warm_planet at 7:48 PM on November 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


"horse race" political journalism at is 'best'
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:51 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also some of the uncanny parallel's to the West Wing's VP debate episode.

Probably headed for a re-watch binge.
posted by warm_planet at 7:52 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh god, I never knew how close we came to the Rompocalypse. If not for the literal days of preparation by Obama and his team we might not even be here right now.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:53 PM on November 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


The presidents people seemed to believe that debates mattered, Nate silver notwithstanding. Were they wrong?
posted by empath at 7:55 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, Romey seems like a bigger dick than I even Imagined.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:56 PM on November 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh Fishconsin!
Oh don't you cry for me!
I'm going to Washington
With a teapot on my knee!
posted by eriko at 7:56 PM on November 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Game Change was like crack for me, since I love a good soapy drama and I love politics. And 2008 was so full of drama and crazy characters and bizarre twists and turns. It made for a great read, written by hacks or not. But 2012 was nowhere near as exciting or dramatic, so it seems like they're probably going to have to wring a lot of drama out of a lot less.

Of course, I'll still read it.
posted by lunasol at 7:58 PM on November 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't see how what Nate silver does is NOT horse race reporting. It's the epitome of it. He is literally just calling out who is leading every day. The events of the campaign do matter, and they are reflected in changes in the polls. While nothing happened that ever seriously put the outcome of the campaign in doubt, that is because both campaigns executed fairly competently, without making catastrophic mistakes. It may have been the case, though, that another horrendous debate performance might have changed the outcome.

Actually the Romney campaign did make one horrific mistake (the 47% thing) and that did move the polls significantly.
posted by empath at 7:59 PM on November 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


The presidents people seemed to believe that debates mattered, Nate silver notwithstanding. Were they wrong?

They can't take anything for granted. It's their job to do everything possible to get Obama elected - can you imagine if they just said "oh, it's cool, Nate Silver said we were going to win, so no big." They'd be out of jobs.

Also, I remember even Silver's model showing a sag for Obama after the debate.
posted by lunasol at 8:00 PM on November 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


“He’s luckier than a dog with two dicks.” - President William Jefferson Clinton
posted by brundlefly at 8:02 PM on November 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


Also, Romey seems like a bigger dick than I even Imagined.

I kind of had him pegged as a Nixon type, but quotes like this make me think he would've been more like a Republican LBJ:
Punctuality mattered to Romney. Christie’s lateness bugged him. Mitt also cared about fitness and was prone to poke fun at those who didn’t. (“Oh, there’s your date for tonight,” he would say to male members of his traveling crew when they spied a chunky lady on the street.) Romney marveled at Christie’s girth, his difficulties in making his way down the narrow aisle of the campaign bus. Watching a video of Christie without his suit jacket on, Romney cackled to his aides, “Guys! Look at that!”
The reporting at the time on his cruel streak was not only right on, he didn't even bother to put a lid on that stuff when he was under the media microscope.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:04 PM on November 2, 2013 [31 favorites]


It is just that some people seem to view everything as bad news for Democrats.

"Romney calls 47% of the population deadbeats! smart move! shored up his base! wonder how the dems are going to counter this one?"

So people begin to take stuff with a grain of salt.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:05 PM on November 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also, I remember even Silver's model showing a sag for Obama after the debate.

It wasn't just a sag, it was a sudden, frightening collapse, as witnessed by this screenshot (original comment) of the 538 supertracker taken at Obama's nadir. It was a very scary time.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:07 PM on November 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'm kind of fascinated by the idea that Obama really really doesn't like all the speechifying and showmanship that he's got such a knack for. It makes a number of his messaging idiosyncrasies make an awful lot more sense.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:10 PM on November 2, 2013 [26 favorites]


This article opens by saying: The two men were in Williamsburg, along with the president’s team, to prepare Obama for his second televised confrontation with Romney, 48 hours away, at Hofstra University in New York. It was an event to which few had given much thought.

It was a presidential election. I'm kind of thinking that's unlikely.

(Print version for non-page-turners.)
posted by DarlingBri at 8:13 PM on November 2, 2013


>> an event to which few had given much thought
> I'm kind of thinking that's unlikely.

In the sense of a space shuttle launch.. routine success that isn't routine. No one was expecting an Obama implosion in VA.
posted by stbalbach at 8:22 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I love is that VP Biden fucking saved his sorry ass during the debates and then saved it again during the whole gay marriage debates, and now we are hearing that Obama was thinking about replacing him with Hillary in 2012. What a dick.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:35 PM on November 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Tldr: Two of the biggest hacks in the business try to squeeze some drama out of an election that was never actually in doubt based on Nate Silver's model.
Didn't Silver's model have Obama down to 60% or so after the first debate?
posted by dfan at 8:38 PM on November 2, 2013


"Obamans" is just the clunkiest word.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:40 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I love is that VP Biden fucking saved his sorry ass during the debates ...

...and now hearing the word "malarkey" makes me smile and briefly think that maybe everything's going to be OK.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:44 PM on November 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm calling it now--Christie is our next president. If Romney hates him that much he's probably a winner.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:12 PM on November 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Reading that article brought the pain of the first debate back. I'm glad the intervention worked, the outcome if they'd failed doesn't bear thinking about.
posted by arcticseal at 9:23 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It wasn't just a sag, it was a sudden, frightening collapse, as witnessed by this screenshot (original comment) of the 538 supertracker taken at Obama's nadir. It was a very scary time.

That's only scary if you completely ignore, you know the baseline. Look at those numbers - that "low point" is not really a great deal below the other brief dips on the line. It's not a trend, it's a single low sample pulling the line down. These poll movements always play around the margins, these days - the vast majority of the population are dyed-in-the-wool party-line voters. Any movement in the polls occurs within a minority of confused swing-voters, who are just as happy to swing the other way again.

How much does this book go into the influence of media analysis of the infamous debate, by the way? Because I recall the general mood while it was happening was "hmm Obama's a bit dull tonight" - but once the cable news pundits got into their expert analysis, it suddenly became OMG OBAMA IS SCREWED within 3 minutes.
posted by Jimbob at 9:55 PM on November 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm calling it now--Christie is our next president.

The Post review of the book hints that the details provided about Christie are a "Drudge-ready public relations nightmare that will send his advisers scrambling"

Fingers crossed!
posted by warm_planet at 10:03 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


and now we are hearing that Obama was thinking about replacing him with Hillary in 2012.

I don't buy this for a second. It sounds like exactly the sort of thing the media loves to tell itself, and it indicates a level of stupidity about politics it is impossible to believe Obama or his campaign could come close to.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:21 PM on November 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


First, watching the debate in realtime I thought bad, not terrible. I never got the mea culpa - so the guys human. Whoduh thunk it?
posted by sfts2 at 10:53 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


My take on that, Ray, is that there were people on the campaign who wanted to make sure that all possible scenarios were entertained. Much like the Pentagon, somewhere in an office down a dark hallway, has a filing cabinet with the official plan for the invasion of Canada. If anything, this suggests that there was some good discourse and devil's advocacy.

I worked on a local political campaign (that failed) recently and it's instructive to try to consider the alternatives and viewpoints outside the bubble.

Because I recall the general mood while it was happening was "hmm Obama's a bit dull tonight"

Personally, I had an awful sinking feeling by about halfway through (and our own thread had people expressing disappointment as early as 12 minutes in). It was something along the lines of "OK, that's a decent enough answer, but who's he talking to? Not the average voter." Combined with Mitt actually seeming likable at times, if a bit manic.

I went to a rally in Madison, on Bascom Hill, the very next day and he was so completely on and in his element that it relieved me a great deal; I'd sort of had to wonder if he simply didn't have the fire in the belly anymore.

I don't see how what Nate silver does is NOT horse race reporting. It's the epitome of it.

This is the part of the Silver cult that disturbs me. It's fundamentally very reactive reporting and pulls a lot of media analysis in its wake.

That's only scary if you completely ignore, you know the baseline.

Well, keep in mind the dead girl or live boy effect. Even though Silver's model is based on statistical probabilities and filtered properly through the electoral college, which builds in a lot of essentially unchangeable base numbers, I don't think it's entirely possible to rule out the effects of actual political events (or external events such as Benghazi) flipping the baseline. Black swans.
posted by dhartung at 12:41 AM on November 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Clinton trotted out for his pals the same line again and again: “He’s luckier than a dog with two dicks.”

*barf*

Don’t try to make up the ground you lost, the Big Dog said.

*barf*

“These are not debates,” Obama observed to Plouffe. “These are gladiatorial enterprises.”

The first lady worried about her Maximus and his return to the Colosseum.


*barf*

At first, Michelle conveyed her displeasure via senior White House adviser and First Friend Valerie Jarrett, who flooded the in-boxes of the debate team with pointed e-mails, employing the royal “we.”

*barf*

FLOTUS loved POTUS like nobody’s business, but she knew his faults well.

*diarrhead in own face*

Seriously though, even if I'm not glad I took a break from watching old Real World clips on youtube to read this, I'm glad the yearbook committee rallied around and got the right guy elected prom king.
posted by batfish at 1:21 AM on November 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


+1 for two cynical third rate hacks making a buck telling a trivial tale.
posted by spitbull at 1:57 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's not forget that one of the authors brought us this gem of political analysis..........

"Mark Halperin Calls President Obama a "Dick"

This book seems to be just an extension of that tv segment.
posted by lampshade at 2:33 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


and to follow up, Halperin was suspended after that comment for a while.
posted by lampshade at 2:35 AM on November 3, 2013


What's wrong with calling the President kind of a dick?

If anything it seems like kind of an understatement for a man that has boasted to his staff about how good he is at murdering people.
posted by dontjumplarry at 3:41 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


If anything it seems like kind of an understatement for a man that has boasted to his staff about how good he is at murdering people.

I'll wait till I see the full context on that one.
posted by empath at 4:05 AM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


for a man that has boasted to his staff about how good he is at murdering people.

Oh sure, that couldn't possibly be misunderstood if taken out of context.
posted by jon1270 at 4:05 AM on November 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Look at those numbers - that "low point" is not really a great deal below the other brief dips on the line. It's not a trend, it's a single low sample pulling the line down.

The only reliable way to tell the difference between "a single low sample" and "the beginning of the end" is hindsight.
posted by Etrigan at 4:50 AM on November 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


If anything it seems like kind of an understatement for a man that has boasted to his staff about how good he is at murdering people.

Coming from the person who 2 yrs ago, decided that the president was a dick, I have to question his intentions. Also, given the penchant of MSNBC hosts to fall on the sword for ratings with outrageous statements, it only further muddies the water.

Also, is that quote about "being good at murdering people" cited or is it yet another piece of hearsay?

Bottom line: I wish the Obama presidency was better. However, I don't have much faith that a pundit-hack like Halperin is helping to further reasoned discussion with books like this. Yes, I am sure there are parts that are on point and that MH hits the nail on the head. However given his history and constant blathering online and in the media, I question his motives and accuracy. The "political gossip" angle displayed (that is the hallmark of cable news punditts) tarnishes the chances that the book's content is objective and accurate.

And I am done wasting my day with this non-story.
posted by lampshade at 5:43 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Obama was faltering in a way his closest advisers had never witnessed.

And it's pretty much gotten only worse since then. And we ain't seen nothing yet. Three more years of this Jimmy Carter W. Bush and the Republicans won't even have to make an effort in 2016.
posted by three blind mice at 6:31 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Christie's got the same problem* that Romney had, and perhaps even worse: He has to thread the needle of appearing sufficiently deranged to win the primary, while not appearing deranged enough to hurt him in the general.

Part of me is hoping the next presidential election is the one where the Republican base finally puts their preferred candidate up, instead of the lukewarm centrist (in a very relative sense). At this point I think they need to see just how badly a Santorum-type would get crushed in a general election before the healing process can begin. Unfortunately, I think they would just chalk it up to voter fraud anyway, but hey.

*: Not to imply that that was Romney's only problem, or would be Christie's only problem. But it's a big one.
posted by Flunkie at 6:58 AM on November 3, 2013


Tldr: Two of the biggest hacks in the business try to squeeze some drama out of an election that was never actually in doubt based on Nate Silver's model.

The pundits would have us believe if they hadn't written the articles saying Obama was on the verge of losing despite being ahead the whole time, he would not have won.

God, American journalism. The worst on earth.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:30 AM on November 3, 2013


Three more years of this Jimmy Carter W. Bush and the Republicans won't even have to make an effort in 2016.

Empirical reality suggests otherwise.
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 8:10 AM on November 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Much like the Pentagon, somewhere in an office down a dark hallway, has a filing cabinet with the official plan for the invasion of Canada.

War Plan Red
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 8:12 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wish the Obama presidency was better.

Me too, but I can't help feeling like I have no idea what the actual moral baseline for American presidents has been, and like the baseline I possess now is an outrage-driven, clickbait defined standard that equates the ability to arouse partisans with a moral rubicon.

God, American journalism. The worst on earth.

Maybe, but this is so because, as we drowned in media noise, we're becoming much more sophisticated consumers of it. What passed for thoughtful analysis decades ago is quickly recognized and dismissed as concern trolling today.

The analogy I try to remember to keep myself oriented is that today, we are outraged by drone strikes that kill tens of innocent civilians, while in WWII we countenanced terror bombing that killed tens of thousands in a night. We are vastly more sensitive now, and the downside of that is media enterprises making ad dollars on articles highlighting the president making an ambiguous comment about being good at killing people.
posted by fatbird at 8:14 AM on November 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


Honestly, though, the dog with two dicks comment. What does Clinton imagine? That a dog with two dicks would enjoy um sex with both dicks at once? Moreover, WTF Bill Clinton? NOBODY WANTS TO HEAR YOU SAY THAT OBAMA IS AS LUCKY AS A TWO-DICKED DOG, JESUS.

(apologies if this is a common saying somewhere. i just have done enough contemplating of Clinton's genital issues for one lifetime)
posted by angrycat at 8:20 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of fascinated by the idea that Obama really really doesn't like all the speechifying and showmanship that he's got such a knack for.

I think he likes it fine so long as the audience is on his side. It's the guy in the back sucking lemons and the kid giving Bronx cheers that makes him pettish.

Empirical reality suggests otherwise.

We're two years out from the next election. Two years is a long time in politics.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:22 AM on November 3, 2013


What does Clinton imagine? That a dog with two dicks would enjoy um sex with both dicks at once?

I'm reasonably sure the desired image is a dog that is happy because when he's done licking his own dick and making horrifying 400-decibel schlurpy noises, he has a whole other his own dick to do it to. Dogs are gross.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:28 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Sorry, three years. Even longer.)
posted by IndigoJones at 8:28 AM on November 3, 2013


God, I didn't even think about dick-licking. Not sure if that adds or subtracts from my pervert status.
posted by angrycat at 8:36 AM on November 3, 2013


I never read Game Change; did it include things like calling Axelrod "the mustachioed message maven"? Because FFS.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:38 AM on November 3, 2013


>>Empirical reality suggests otherwise-->General Election: Bush vs. Clinton

Is that REALLY honest-to-god polling data for JEB Bush?

eeeeeeeep.
posted by warm_planet at 8:53 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna call it now: the 2016 candidate will be neither Biden nor Clinton.
posted by empath at 8:59 AM on November 3, 2013


The analogy I try to remember to keep myself oriented is that today, we are outraged by drone strikes that kill tens of innocent civilians, while in WWII we countenanced terror bombing that killed tens of thousands in a night. We are vastly more sensitive now, and the downside of that is media enterprises making ad dollars on articles highlighting the president making an ambiguous comment about being good at killing people.

America isn't outraged by drones. The latest polling shows 66% in favor, 15% opposed. Over 4-1 support.

http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/05/18780381-poll-finds-overwhelming-support-for-drone-strikes

Empath, who do you think the Dems will run? Brad Henry, maybe?
posted by Ironmouth at 9:08 AM on November 3, 2013


No idea, but I don't think either of them really wants it, and the Dems are way overdue for a liberal insurgency. Of course Hillary will have the NSA backing her, so...
posted by empath at 9:14 AM on November 3, 2013


Zombie FDR.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:19 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


No idea, but I don't think either of them really wants it, and the Dems are way overdue for a liberal insurgency. Of course Hillary will have the NSA backing her, so...

The last one was McGovern. Well, maybe Dukakis.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:20 AM on November 3, 2013


The analogy I try to remember to keep myself oriented is that today, we are outraged by drone strikes that kill tens of innocent civilians, while in WWII we countenanced terror bombing that killed tens of thousands in a night. We are vastly more sensitive now, and the downside of that is media enterprises making ad dollars on articles highlighting the president making an ambiguous comment about being good at killing people.

These media enterprises, "embedded" in war, are still being selective about which murders get reported. The surge of interest in drones is not a result of our humanitarian sensitivities; America continues to maim and imprison foreigners in less futuristic ways.

Studying the Vietnam war told me policymakers and the public can acknowledge one (1) atrocity per conflict, and afterwards interest wanes. Not because Americans are heartless, but these media enterprises require a narrative of humanistic progress and "unaccountable war machine" is not profitable for networks that open with sunny morning talk shows.
posted by gorbweaver at 9:21 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Zombie FDR.

Does he get a Zombie FDR 75th Congress? Where the Dems had a 347-88 House and 75-25 Senate majority? I'd be for that.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:23 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd be more up for a Democratic Party that started hewing closer to a social-democratic platform like FDR's than having total control over the legislature in the party's current form, to be honest. But I think I may have been on the outside looking in for too long when it comes to American politics.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:29 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


So help me, I like the horse-race stuff. I enjoyed Game Change, in both book and tv-movie-adaptation form, and I'll totally read this one too.
posted by box at 9:33 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


empath, I think Nate Silver knows that his election coverage is horse race politics, and that's why he did it. From Ezra Klein:
Silver's work poses a threat to more traditional — and, in particular, to more excitable — forms of political punditry and horse-race journalism.

If you had to distill the work of a political pundit down to a single question, you'd have to pick the perennial "who will win the election?" During election years, that's the question at the base of most careers in punditry, almost all cable news appearances, and most A1 news articles. Traditionally, we've answered that question by drawing on some combination of experience, intuition, reporting and polls. Now Silver — and Silver's imitators and political scientists — are taking that question away from us.
I always understood Silver's mission to be straightforward, mathematical, politically neutral reporting on who was winning, for the express purpose of getting all the pundits to stop jawing about this trend or that momentum and start reporting the real issues and differing moral/political stances that politicians take. In other words, he wanted to do such a good job of horse race coverage that other people would stop doing a terrible, useless job at it and do something more productive with their airtime. Or maybe I'm just projecting good intentions onto the guy and he's just a stats nerd who saw an opportunity to do work.
posted by daveliepmann at 9:34 AM on November 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also, I have to add to the chorus that I do not think 2012 was that much a nail-biter for me. Even after Obama's "failed" debate, I never saw the aftermath as "Obama is falling behind" so much as "Obama is not winning by as large a margin". I mean it wasn't 1996-levels of shrugitude (at least not until "These are people who think they're entitled to food") all the time, but I think Obama pretty much could have armpit-farted the Battle Hymn of the Republic for his opening remarks and would still have been president today.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:40 AM on November 3, 2013


As somebody who was interested in politics beginning in like '78, I still have say, dudes, it could be so much worse. We have a black president in office, we have health care, and this is with a bunch of neo-nazis holding the House GOP just about by the balls. I know full well drones are evil, but it's not like we can say, drone use today v. drone use by FDR, as it is new technology. I would like the drone issue to bite the Democrats in the behind, but as long as we have people who deny climate change and do a bunch of weird shit about things like women's rights, I say, can we kill the bad guys first and then the Democrats can divide into the center-left and further left. I promise to fight on the further left fight then.
posted by angrycat at 10:21 AM on November 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Actually there is two items from that past campaign.. specifically the GOP primary and specifically about everyone's favorite congresswoman, Michelle Bachmann that I found pretty interesting:


“[D]etails are revealed in ‘Double Down: Game Change 2012,’ by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann — a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO on Thursday. … 'Michele Bachmann was so spooked that she was unable to deliver a key attack line against Rick Perry during the GOP primary. When the Texas governor jumped into the 2012 race, Bachmann’s aides planned a zinger that would gently mock the former Texas A&M yell leader. “From one former cheerleader to another, welcome to Iowa,” Bachmann, herself a former cheerleader, was supposed to say. But she was unable to deliver the line at an Iowa GOP function that Perry was also supposed to attend. Bachmann refused to leave her bus, saying ‘I don’t want to be in the room with him.’ Her staff lied to her and told her that Perry had left the event. When she saw the Texas governor, she froze with fear and moved out of his line of sight. She was barely able to finish her stump speech at the event."


and

Sitting in her campaign bus, in the same seat where she cried with joy in August, she now sobbed over her drubbing. "God, I'm a loser," Bachmann said. "God, I turn people off." With two debates ahead in New Hampshire, some of her advisers thought she should consider staying in the race. Bachmann wanted no part of it. Let's draft a withdrawal speech for tomorrow, she said.

Bachmann withdrew from the race the day after the Iowa caucuses.

Double Down also reports that she had been encouraged to run for president by conservative media hosts Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh. Her advisers, including campaign consultant Ed Rollins, were "surprised to discover how bookish, frugal, and un-diva-like she was," the authors write, noting that she paid $19 to have her hair styled at the Fantastic Sams franchise.


I know it may be uncouth to say so, but those items sort of make me reevaluate Bachmann just a little. Certainly not from a political standpoint, from that vantage she is certainly quite scary and frankly a nightmare. But those quotes also kind of paint her as much more a insecure human being then I've heretofore seen and sort of reminds me just how often people, all of us, act out of insecurity and being frightened.
posted by edgeways at 10:44 AM on November 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


As somebody who was interested in politics beginning in like '78, I still have say, dudes, it could be so much worse. We have a black president in office, we have health care, and this is with a bunch of neo-nazis holding the House GOP just about by the balls.

And speaking as someone who has also been interested in politics since the '70s, I have to point out that in the same time period we have also seen the near-total shredding of the social safety net, the weakening of organized labor, the decimation of reproductive rights, and the collapse of the middle class. So indeed, it could actually be worse. But it could also be infinitely better.
posted by scody at 10:50 AM on November 3, 2013 [16 favorites]


I know it may be uncouth to say so, but those items sort of make me reevaluate Bachmann just a little. Certainly not from a political standpoint, from that vantage she is certainly quite scary and frankly a nightmare. But those quotes also kind of paint her as much more a insecure human being then I've heretofore seen and sort of reminds me just how often people, all of us, act out of insecurity and being frightened.

I wouldn't say it's uncouth, but maybe stating the obvious. In my experience, even people with the most repugnant ideas are not thoroughly, 100% repugnant to the bone. Just as people with compassionate ideologies can be total shits. I'm sure it's entirely possible for a human being to get discount haircuts and have moments of self-doubt while at the same time pushing the most vile fundamentalist agenda this side of the Taliban.

So indeed, it could actually be worse. But it could also be infinitely better.

Holy crap yes, it certainly could. "It could always be worse" is the policy of the plummeting elevator.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:53 AM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sitting in her campaign bus, in the same seat where she cried with joy in August, she now sobbed over her drubbing. "God, I'm a loser," Bachmann said. "God, I turn people off." With two debates ahead in New Hampshire, some of her advisers thought she should consider staying in the race. Bachmann wanted no part of it. Let's draft a withdrawal speech for tomorrow, she said.

Bachmann withdrew from the race the day after the Iowa caucuses.


I'm so proud of my fellow Iowans. They thought our tactics were crazy, but they worked.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:02 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Things always can be worse and always can be better.
posted by edgeways at 11:09 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


> The analogy I try to remember to keep myself oriented is that today, we are outraged by drone strikes that kill tens of innocent civilians, while in WWII we countenanced terror bombing that killed tens of thousands in a night.

Perhaps that's because these two circumstances are totally and completely different?

Perhaps because we were actually at war? And our opponent at the time, Nazi Germany, had the largest military in the history of the planet? Because they were killing about 100,000 Americans a year as opposed to the dozen or two that terrorists kill each year? Because that opponent had actually invaded and conquered several of the US's most important allies, and was desperately trying to conquer England, the US's strongest remaining ally in Europe? Because our opponents actually did have a plan, publicly announced, to conquer the whole world, and made very good progress on that for the first few years?

While Americans are almost totally safe from terrorism, the US government, who has every interest in exaggerating these numbers, claims that terrorists kill about 15,000 people a year globally. In order to kill as many people as World War II did, it would take 4000 years of terrorism - or if you adjust for the increased population, to kill the same portion of the world as WW2 would take 12,000 years....
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:14 PM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sure all that was a real consolation to the children of Dresden and Hamburg and Berlin and Tokyo and Kobe as they burned to death.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:31 PM on November 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, that's a relief. Usually, "What about the children?!?" is only slung ironically around these parts.
posted by Etrigan at 12:36 PM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fine, not children, then. I'm sure that all these folks in Tokyo thought, as their clothes and hair burned off and their skin crisped and their lungs seared and their flesh cooked, "Ouch. But at least I understand why the Americans are fine with doing this to us; I mean we are totally at war and Tojo really is an asshole. I wouldn't care about burning me alive either."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:45 PM on November 3, 2013


Oh, well, in that case, I guess you're right.

About what, I have no idea.
posted by Etrigan at 1:00 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


In every instance, under ungodly pressure, Obama had pulled up, set his feet, and drained a three-pointer at the buzzer.

I literally have no idea what this means. Is it a sporting metaphor? Draining a three-pointer at the buzzer sounds a bit like straining the meat and two veg - a euphemism for male urination, your honour - perhaps crossed with Bill Clinton's own assessment of the man's luck.

(Oh, someone asked up thread whether 'lucky as a dog with two dicks' was a Clinton Original (tm). In the UK, it's more commonly stated as 'happy as a dog...' bur ir's known and old.)
posted by Devonian at 1:13 PM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


In every instance, under ungodly pressure, Obama had pulled up, set his feet, and drained a three-pointer at the buzzer.

I literally have no idea what this means. Is it a sporting metaphor?


It's basketball. A three-pointer is a more distant and difficult shot. "Draining" a shot means hitting it perfectly. "At the buzzer" is the end of the game.
posted by Etrigan at 1:18 PM on November 3, 2013


It's like completing a Hail Mary pass. Thought a football analog might help.
posted by maryr at 1:22 PM on November 3, 2013


Ah, so it's hitting a six on the last delivery of the final over.

Why didn't they say so?
posted by Devonian at 1:24 PM on November 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the 9th.
posted by chrchr at 2:03 PM on November 3, 2013


I dunno, hitting a three pointer is a lot easier than completing a Hail Mary or a Grand Slam. It's tough because of the pressure but it's not nearly on the level of pulling a Doug Flutie or anything.

I have no idea what hitting a six means, though, except its probably a cricket reference. Which I understand involves standing out in the sun for several days at a time while drinking copious amounts of alcohol.
posted by Justinian at 2:11 PM on November 3, 2013


(For non-colonials and the like, hitting a three pointer is like a 1/3 chance. Or more for good shooters.)
posted by Justinian at 2:16 PM on November 3, 2013


And it's pretty much gotten only worse since then. And we ain't seen nothing yet. Three more years of this Jimmy Carter W. Bush and the Republicans won't even have to make an effort in 2016.
posted by three blind mice at 6:31 AM on November 3 [has favorites +] [!]
"

Al Gore Hillary Clinton Barack Obama Barbara Boxer Barbara Feingold John Edwards Even with this disaster of a President... looking at the list of Democrats mentioned in this thread, my guess is that the Republicans have no reason to be worried about their chances in 2008.
posted to MeFi by three blind mice at 10:34 AM on February 22, 2006

posted by klangklangston at 2:25 PM on November 3, 2013 [37 favorites]


And yeah, this is just amazingly shallow, overhyped horserace bias journalism. The debates were overhyped by the media when they happened, analyzed on the basis of that overhype, and are now being peddled as if that overhype was accurate.
posted by klangklangston at 2:32 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


> I'm sure all that was a real consolation to the children of Dresden and Hamburg and Berlin and Tokyo and Kobe as they burned to death.

Instead of being sarcastic, can you in fact explain what sort of argument you're trying to make? Because I frankly do not understand what that logical argument that might be.

Going back to the article itself - well, it drove me mad. It isn't political reporting in the sense of discussing issues or the bases for the decisions that affect millions, but simply the gameplaying aspect of the electioneering process, as if it were a sports game.

But unlike sports, which provides entertainment for billions, this sort of "political" reporting drowns out actual coverage of the issues. It's disconcerting to see how much coverage during election time is this content-free analysis of campaign strategies rather than the candidates' positions. It makes it appear as if the only reason candidates are elected is because of how well their team plays the electioneering game and that issues are not significant at all - something I don't believe and would be appalling if it were actually true.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:36 PM on November 3, 2013


Instead of being sarcastic, can you in fact explain what sort of argument you're trying to make? Because I frankly do not understand what that logical argument that might be.

I'll hazard a guess that his point was that, when you're an innocent victim of another country's aggression, you don't much care whether it's WWII or the GWOT. You're still dying for indiscriminate reasons.

Not that I was actually trying to say that dying in Dresden or the tribal areas of Pakistan are identical. My original point was about the scale of our concern, and how it's shrunk so much, which seems like a kind of moral progress, even if it's only inadvertantly driven by the volume of information we receive rather than a reflective focusing of our lens.
posted by fatbird at 4:09 PM on November 3, 2013


jason_steakums: ""Obamans" is just the clunkiest word."

Nope. Obamathusiasts is.
posted by Samizdata at 4:14 PM on November 3, 2013


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "Zombie FDR."

FTW.
posted by Samizdata at 4:21 PM on November 3, 2013


And it's pretty much gotten only worse since then. And we ain't seen nothing yet. Three more years of this Jimmy Carter W. Bush and the Republicans won't even have to make an effort in 2016.

Really? Because everyone made Syria out to be a huge faceplant and yet amongst the publics it's turned out to be basically a net positive for him, and absolutely no "scandal" has stuck to him (and some, like the IRS one, have backfired hilariously). The Obamacare stuff might have been an issue, but the GOP did their level best at reminding Americans that the real problem was their sabotage, and therefore despite all the problems it polls roughly the same as it always has, i.e. consistent pluralities/majorities want to either keep it or strengthen it. And even the issues with the federal exchange don't seem to be affecting the state exchanges, which seem to be getting glowing remarks. Meanwhile, you've got a GOP that is split between sneaky assholes and vindictive assholes, with the vindictive assholes winning the base while losing everyone else. Barring Obama literally stealing everyone's healthcare and sending it to, I dunno, China, there's no sign that anyone but Christie is a viable threat. Yet, he has to make it past a party whose electoral system is biased towards whoever can provide the most red meat, essentially making him unpalatable to most of the country (see also: McCain, Romney).

At the moment, 2016 is Hilary's to lose. It could definitely change in the next three years, but that depends on the fundamentals of the economy and politics, and neither of those favor anyone who must win largely the approval of racist, misogynist, homophobic nutbags and their enablers put up with it enough to see the Poors suffer.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:30 PM on November 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Instead of being sarcastic, can you in fact explain what sort of argument you're trying to make? Because I frankly do not understand what that logical argument that might be.

While I expect that you will deny it, the obvious import of your statement is that somehow drone attacks are worse than firebombing entire cities because we were at least formally at war with the governments whose citizens we were burning to death. The two were, as you wrote, completely different, and in ways that clearly implied that drone attacks are worse. I was merely pointing out the moral vacuity of your statement.

As I say, though, I expect that you will deny the obvious implication of your statement, and I won't engage any further. You're welcome to whatever last word on the subject makes you happy.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:29 PM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Obama has been the Zenith of style over substance.

Luckily for him he hasn't had to answer for all the things he *said* he stood for before he got elected.

I'm hungrily waiting for the infographic analyzing that. This guy deliberately created and played a complete fantasy character. As soon as he got elected, if you watched who was appointed/kept for various positions, the real O was immediately evident.

How any human being could get lost in that labyrinth of lies is not hard to understand. But the second time, we had 4 years to go on.
posted by Twang at 6:39 PM on November 3, 2013


And it's pretty much gotten only worse since then. And we ain't seen nothing yet. Three more years of this Jimmy Carter W. Bush and the Republicans won't even have to make an effort in 2016.
posted by three blind mice at 6:31 AM on November 3, 2013

Al Gore Hillary Clinton Barack Obama Barbara Boxer Barbara Feingold John Edwards Even with this disaster of a President... looking at the list of Democrats mentioned in this thread, my guess is that the Republicans have no reason to be worried about their chances in 2008.
posted to MeFi by three blind mice at 10:34 AM on February 22, 2006

Klanklangston that is brutally laconic ownage.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:46 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the 9th.

When all you need is a knife.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:56 PM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


> While I expect that you will deny it, the obvious import of your statement is that somehow drone attacks are worse than firebombing entire cities because we were at least formally at war with the governments whose citizens we were burning to death.

Clearly, killing hundreds of thousands of people in warfare is far more horrible than killing people by the dozens.

However, in the Second World War it can very plausibly be argued that there simply was no choice - that the Axis powers were actually an existential threat, certainly to Britain, and even the United States. (This isn't an absolute - I don't believe that to be the case for Hiroshima or Nagasaki, for example, and I don't know what to think about Dresden.)

I honestly believe that if England had not aggressively taken up arms against the Nazis, they would have been conquered entirely. They were almost conquered as it was...

I'm curious - would you have done the same thing if you were in charge of England or the US in the war?

On the other hand, "the terrorists" pose no existential threat to the United States in the slightest. There is no moral justification for the United States' continued attacks on people who have offered the United States no harm - particular when we kill so many hundreds of times as many of "them" as "they" kill of us.


> As I say, though, I expect that you will deny the obvious implication of your statement, and I won't engage any further. You're welcome to whatever last word on the subject makes you happy.

I cannot respect this statement in the slightest.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:29 PM on November 3, 2013


Obama has been the Zenith of style over substance.

Ima disappoint with Obama for multiple reasons, but I'm not sure we'll ever know how hamstrung he has been or whether or not he just went back on numerous election promises. Maybe history will shake it out and 20 years from now we'll know the *truth* about him.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:19 PM on November 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Obama didn't write the law himself, at some point he has to count on Congress and his administration to get things done right. Clearly many people have failed him, and perhaps he could have benefited from more personal experience in leading such a huge piece of legislation. The healthcare.gov situation looks like a huge management failure. I think it will take at least until the end of his administration before a good assessment of ACA can be made. Hopefully the benefits outweigh the negatives.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:27 PM on November 3, 2013


I think almost everyone here agrees that, even though the ACA may be limited and flawed, it's the best the US has, and the US desperately needs any possible remedy for its dire healthcare problems.

If the ACA fails, it will be very bad for Americans in general, and I can't imagine the Democrats trying healthcare reform again for at least another ten years. Love or hate Mr. Obama, any rational person has to be rooting for it to succeed.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:40 PM on November 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


What's the likeliest failure mode for the ACA at this point? A risk pool skewed to the old and sick driving premiums through the roof in a death spiral, I would guess? It seems like that could have been easily avoided by making a better enforcement mechanism in the law.
posted by Justinian at 11:25 PM on November 3, 2013


What's the likeliest failure mode for the ACA at this point? A risk pool skewed to the old and sick driving premiums through the roof in a death spiral, I would guess? It seems like that could have been easily avoided by making a better enforcement mechanism in the law.

Well, the enforcement mechanisms might be the things providing the most counterbalance to the exchange issues. The general consensus among healthcare experts seems to be that what happens in 2014 is what's important, and that it has a number of things built into it that means that a death spiral isn't necessarily inevitable. Also, don't forget that a bunch of reforms have already been put into place that are already political poison to remove, such as preventing pre-existing condition bans and keeping children on their parent's plans longer. As I said upthread, it's still polling well, so the idea that everybody will hate it isn't true for now, which means that if the problems are fixed in the expected timeframe, it should more or less work as intended.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:52 AM on November 4, 2013


The hard part is done. Getting the legal framework in place. The technical issues will get sorted out in time.
posted by stenseng at 1:28 PM on November 4, 2013


Obama has been the Zenith of style over substance.

Oh c'mon. The zenith, really? This is a popular conservative talking point, but it just seems so blindered. I have my own disappointments with Obama, but I can think of about 20 politicians that were more style over substance than Obama off the top of my head. That's the unfortunate side of politics.

Honestly, I think the bigger problem with Obama is not that he's substance-free, but that he's too much of a wonk/technocrat. I get the sense that he'd be much happier dealing with the details of policy than the politics of making it happen.
posted by lunasol at 12:35 PM on November 5, 2013


Honestly, I think the bigger problem with Obama is not that he's substance-free, but that he's too much of a wonk/technocrat. I get the sense that he'd be much happier dealing with the details of policy than the politics of making it happen.

This is something I've seen in many legislators: getting immersed in policy can spark a certain impatience, and some come to the conclusion that they need to be the leadership. But that attention to detail in policy does not necessarily mesh with the machinations someone in an executive position has to contend with.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:51 PM on November 5, 2013


I can think of about 20 politicians that were more style over substance than Obama off the top of my head

Yeah, there's no way that Dubya wasn't more style-over-substance, if only because of his sheer lack of substance. I mean, not much style either, but anything divided by epsilon is a bunch. Or, if you're willing to accept people who haven't held national office, Rick "Governor Goodhair" Perry trumps either of them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:44 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, not much style either, but anything divided by epsilon is a bunch.

Oh no way, Dubya had a ton of style, it was just intended to appeal to a specific demographic. That brush-clearin' mission-accomplishin' turd-blossomin' cowboy swagger that worked well enough that you'd be forgiven forgetting he's New England to the bone.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:09 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]




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