Andrew Sullivan: A Victory For What?

Describing Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) attempts at describing for Fox News what Republicans will do with their new majority as "so pathetic even the Fox News crowd could barely hide their dismay," conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan observes that "after this relentlessly negative and vacuous campaign ... it’s hard to detect an issue or platform around which the GOP constructed a victory."

Says Sullivan:

... [W]hat this represents is a backlash against a change that is coming anyway – a vote by the older generation against the America that the younger generation seems to represent and want. Or a rising up of white America against the browns and blacks. This is too crude, of course. But it captures something important about this moment of vacuous retrenchment.

Election Fundamentals Still Suggest Close Election With Modest Tilt to Obama

The best antidote I've seen to handwringing among Obama supporters, and outright hysteria from buffoons like Chris Matthews is James Fallows's thoughtful analysis of the current state of the election campaign, and the first presidential debate of the season in context. Fallows notes:

  • The polls are indeed tightening, but many more of them show Obama ahead than behind.
  • We're about to have another debate. While Fallows doesn't know whether Joe Biden or Paul Ryan will "win" the battle of the VPs, he is 100% certain that Biden will put up a better fight than Obama did.
  • Then we'll have two more presidential debates. Unless Obama is in fact being paid by the Kochs to throw the election, these should go better for him. The reasons include:
    • Obama has seemed "on" in several post-debate speeches and rallies. This suggests that he still can do better.
    • Romney has now gotten Obama's attention, by humiliating him. This suggests that, as one of the world's most competitive people, he will want to do better.
    • The political media's iron law that "the story always changes" will give natural momentum to an "Obama comeback" theme.
    • The next debate's format, the town hall, is better terrain for Obama than for Romney. The topics and pattern of discussion are less predictable, and meet-and-greet average-person small talk is not a Romney strength.
    • The final debate is about foreign policy, where Obama knows the big picture and the fine points, and Romney knows neither.

Obama Honors Libya Victims, Ryan Addresses Hate Group, Romney Likes Snooki

"Their sacrifice will never be forgotten," Obama said at Andrews Air Force Base on September 14 as the remains of four Americans killed in the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya were repatriated. A military band played the hymn "Nearer My God to Thee." As reported by the Associated Press, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's voice broke as she spoke, and she appeared to be fighting tears as she listened to the President speak. ""They knew the danger, and they accepted it," Obama said. "They didn't simply embrace the American ideal. They lived it," he said.

TLC's "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" Beats GOP Convention Coverage in Ratings

E! reports that TLC's "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," beat TV news coverage of the Republican convention. The spinoff of it's child beauty pageant series "Toddlers and Tiaras" scored a 1.3 rating; the show's closest competitor was Fox News, with a 1.2 rating.

Peter Dreier's Post-election Analysis

Writing on the Chicago Reader blog, Michael Miner posts an analysis of the midterm election by Peter Dreier of Occidental College.

Dreier's key points:

  • The US Chamber of Commerce has pledged to obstruct any attempts at government regulation. ANY. Presumably that includes consumer protection, the kind of irresponsible financial risk-taking that nearly led to a banking system meltdown, food safety, etc. Moreover, the Chamber has played a key role in funneling money to TV ads attacking Democrats, aided by the Roberts' court "Citizens United" ruling making it possible for corporations to donate anonymously to political campaigns.
  • In this election, Republicans expressed their frustrations by voting, while Democrats expressed their frustrations by not voting. As Dreier says, "Another word for what Democrats did is: 'self-defeating.'"
  • Dreier urges Obama and Democrats to publicize their legislative successes, communicate clearly that the Republicans are the party more closely allied with Wall Street and corporate America, and take a lesson from FDR in confronting the forces of hate arrayed against them. "Never before have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today," FDR declared during his re-election campaign. "They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred." FDR, Dreier notes, won in a landslide.

Read the full post.

Narcisstic Nation, Performer Politicians

In The Benjamin Button Election, published in the November 8 issue of New York magazine, Jennifer Senior asks and answers the question "Why Do American Voters Think Like Small Children".

Leftists who harbored unrealistic expecations that Obama could magically fix everything wrong with the world, she argues, have much in common psychologically with rightists who blame him for the same.

When people become more powerless, they become more distrustful of those who have power, and that, in turn, disempowers them more.

Dependence Day

As July 4, 2010 approaches wrong-headedness seems to have seized legislators and policy makers around the world.

Paul Krugman highlights this in his recent NY Times piece, The Third Depression:

We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.

And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy.


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