The Thing About “Rock Stars”

For all the Republicans who are exulting that there’s now a “rock star” on the GOP ticket (and all the Democrats who are freaking out about it), there is one minor detail that’s worth considering in the days and months ahead. And that is that the “rock star” on the Democratic ticket is actually the person who is running for president, while the “rock star” on the GOP ticket… isn’t. At the top of the GOP ticket is a 72-year-old man who just gave a mediocre speech that served primarily as an attempt to suggest that a fellow who’s spent two and half decades in Washington and voted with the extremely unpopular current president 90% of the time somehow represents change. That’s the guy going up against the Democratic rock star.

And to the surprise of absolutely no one, the Democratic rock star knows this perfectly well. This is why yesterday when reporters tried to get Obama to react to Palin’s attacks on him, his reponse was to say, more or less, “whatever,” and to note his presidential opposition was McCain, not Palin. This is also why outside of the hothouse atmosphere of a political convention, Palin’s sniping at Obama is likely not to hit the radar screens, because when all is said and done, she’s the VP candidate, and the press is covering a presidential election, not a vice-presidential one.

Obama’s already signaled he’s not going to bother with her; she’ll be shopped out to Biden — or even better, Hilary Clinton, who I would expect is privately fuming that the McCain and the GOP think so little of her positions and personality that they expect her supporters to be swayed by someone who holds antithetical political positions, simply because that person’s got fallopian tubes. If the GOP wanted to keep the Clintons on the sidelines this election, this was not the way to do it.

Beyond this we’ll see what value being a “rock star” really brings to the table, which I suspect is rather less than what people suppose. The GOPers ecstatic over their new star might remember that a) Obama’s rock star status hasn’t kept this election from being reasonably close so far, and b) that Palin’s “rock star” status is not yet two days old, based on a speech written for a generic GOP VP candidate with some personal touches bolted on. Two and a half days ago people were wondering if she would have left the ticket by today. It’s fair to say Palin’s been up and been down. And starting today she and Joe Biden begin their descent into the shadowy netherworld of VP candidates on the campaign trail, to be largely ignored save for the occasional snipe or screw-up. It’s nice to be a “rock star” politician, but let’s just say I’m not 100% convinced the “rock star” shine is all that it’s cracked up to be, especially when at the end of the day you’re the political equivalent of the opening act.

And at the end of the proverbial day, this election is the guys who are the headliners: about McCain and Obama, and their policies and plans, or lack thereof. One of these guys is a rock star, and the other isn’t — and to be honest, I hope that doesn’t matter, either. What should matter, and what I hope will matter, is the substance of the two candidates. Substance is not what people come to “rock stars” for. But it should be what we look for in a president.

168 thoughts on “The Thing About “Rock Stars”

  1. (Obama’s) response was to say, more or less, “whatever,” — hee, hee, John said “whatever”.

    Dr. Phil

    (sorry, it’s late and I’m sleep deprived — it seemed funnier before I typed it)

  2. a speech written for a generic GOP VP candidate with some personal touches bolted on

    I’ve only seen portion of it on The Daily Show. But… it looked badly given, honestly. Badly-rehearsed, some stumbles, and pretty obviously — and badly — read off a teleprompter.

    I’m hugely biased, I admit it. And those were only excerpts. But all I really saw was someone who was, well, attractive.

    The VP debates may be more interesting and informative.

  3. Heh, thanks John, for putting this in perspective. I just finished a lengthy diatribe at my poor roommate about how I think Palin is the face of evil. I almost forgot she’s not the one running for President.

    Although with McCain’s age, the likelihood of her being president is somewhat higher than most.

  4. What worries me is that a lot of people in this country will vote republican just because she’s on the ticket. They won’t care if it’s McCain who’s actually running for president, or what the issues are. I hope you’re right, though.

  5. I quite enjoyed that after McCain’s speech they played Barracuda.

    “If the real thing dont do the trick
    You better make up something quick”

  6. As an independent voter, a Hillary fan, and a woman, I figure I’m exactly what the McCain camp is trying to sway with bringing in Palin.
    I’d like to think I’m not so reactionary as to vote McCain now just because he has a fellow Vagina-American on the ticket now. She seems like a cheap trick, put there to distract voters from the issues that matter.
    Bottom line for me is that the republicans need to get the message that we the people are angry about the last 8 years. The war, the economy, the fact that the republicans pander too much to the vocal religious right, etc. And I feel the only way to do that is to vote a straight democratic ticket in November. I’ve never done that before, it will be a novelty!

  7. @2 Sean:

    If it was as bad as you’ve described, the reaction to it wouldn’t have been so unanimous even among Dems.

    And the prompter operation screwed up in the middle of the speech. Palin went off of her written script and off memory for a good chunk of it. That comes from having to do weekend sports at a small market TV station, where prompter ops usually aren’t even in the right zip code half the time.

    But, let’s face it, when it comes to politics, people tend to just confirm what they thought going in, one way or the other. Labor Party followers in the mid-40’s probably thought Churchill was a crappy orator.

  8. Here’s something else I don’t get about the ‘rock star’ jibes at Obama. I’ve become an Obama-Con not least because he speaks in complete sentences that for paragraphs that, ultimately, express ideas that don’t make me fell like I’ve lost fifty IQ points.

    Palin? If that speech was a challenge on America’s Next Top Talk-Radio Blowhard she would have aced it. But the ‘red meat’ was over the top, the substantive potato wasn’t there, and was I the only person a little creeped out at the sight of Trig being handed around like a Prada handbag?

    But I digress… when did being an articulate, reasoned grown-up that people respond to become a liability?

  9. @4 Peter Burd: I think that the kind of people who are attracted to Sarah Palin would never vote democrat anyway. She’s pretty extreme.

  10. Have you noticed how no one, even the Dems, actually use the full GOP title anymore? Why can’t we start actually saying “Grand Old Party” again? It would sure as heck drive the ‘McCain is a geezer’ message home.

  11. I think it’s somewhat amusing that the “Rock Star” candidate gave the speech with, by far, the most detail about what he’ll do if elected.

    Anyway.

    @8 Dave in Georgia: “And the prompter operation screwed up in the middle of the speech. Palin went off of her written script and off memory for a good chunk of it.” That’s not the case, at least not according to convention organizer people.

  12. It is a long way from Oz to the RNC but from here Palin’s audience seemed very “white”. Didn’t appear to be many minorities every time they panned across the crowd. At some stages during her speech I almost expected her to throw a fist into the air and shout “white power”.

  13. @10 Philbert: That’s true, but I’m worried that republicans waffling on McCain might side with them because of Palin.

  14. rock stars?

    Which experience would you buy a ticket to?

    Harry Carry riffing the entro to the Beatles
    or
    The Monkeys opening for Bozo the Clown waving a P!O!W! sign?

  15. Scenario: A group of powerful, wealthy, multi-national corporations basically run the most powerful nation in the world by purchasing the presidency. There is a glamorous female VP with ties to the oil industry – part of the ‘company’. This glamorous VP wants more power and arranges to off the much older president by making it look like he has a heart attack. The company allow it because they know they will be able to run the country more effectively with this female president – she is just a puppet and they are the masters.

    Does anyone else worry about the potential for the GOP winning this election turning into the Prison Break storyline?

  16. Does anyone else worry about the potential for the GOP winning this election turning into the Prison Break storyline?
    Only if someone drops the soap.

  17. I just realized where I’ve seen this before: Bob Dole. They propped up the company man in a year they knew they were going to lose. Gave him his send off with the gold watch.

    That’s all there is to this.

  18. Mmmph. That’s what’s been driving me nuts (well, crazier than usual). Thank you for codifying and clarifying it.

    It’s entirely glazing over the really important issue: On the Obama side is potentially the path to socialism – no right to self-determination devices, socialised healthcare, The State Knows Best. On the McCain side is what stinks of the Unification of Church and State, the ongoing bloat of executive powers and the kindling smell of an ignited Bill of Rights.

    I mean, sure if I was in that race I’d want to smokescreen that particular pair of non-choices, but that doesnt’ stop it honking me off that it seems to be working.

  19. #13: NPR did the racial breakdown of the Republican delegates last night. Palin’s audience really was very white.

    #20: I’m not getting it. Bob Dole selected Jack Kemp as a running mate. Kemp didn’t get nearly the enthusiasm Palin is getting. Or are you referring to the speech Elizabeth Dole gave before Bob Dole’s acceptance speech?

    Anyway, one of the analysts I heard on NPR pointed out that Palin represents a significant shift in McCain’s strategy. Rather than reach for the center, McCain is now attempting what has worked for the past two presidential elections: tack sharply to the right and win based on turning out ultra-conservatives. In other words, the same old Republican strategy. So much for being a maverick.

    As for “rock stars,” weren’t Republicans decrying rock stars as unfit for office, oh, a week ago?

  20. Rockstar or one hit wonder? I’ve been following http://mudflats.wordpress.com/ for kind of an Alaskan-eye view over the past week and according to this: http://mudflats.wordpress.com/2008/09/04/palin-leaves-campaign-trail-flees-north/ Palin will be leaving the campain trail for a week so she can see her son off to the military (but still won’t have time to meet with investigators…) This is in addition to the news that she won’t be giving any interviews but will only be scripted and choreographed appearances http://www.time-blog.com/swampland/2008/09/no_questions_please_were.html

    Because. Ya know. Presidents and their surrogates never need to handle ad-hoc situations.

  21. It is a long way from Oz to the RNC but from here Palin’s audience seemed very “white”.

    I was more creeped out by the way Trug (you know, the infant with Down’s Syndrome and living proof of Sarah’s yummy mummy-dom) was being passed around like a joint at a Grateful Dead gig.

  22. The thing is, the Republicans have two messages, one for Insiders, and one for Everyone Else. The Insider message is to Vote The Brand (i.e. Republican); it doesn’t matter who the candidate is, it matters that a Republican toady hold the office. To everyone else, their message is whatever that person wants to hear. They’re about Change (Change Back to 1955, from what I can tell); they’re about Moving Forward (like a bulldozer); they’re about anything other than a third term of the same policies.

    Meanwhile, I suspect that John McCain will be voting for Obama this year. I don’t think he’s happy, but at this point, there’s no way out.

  23. Best Sarah Palin comment I’ve seen so far comes from the Billings Gazette:

    “Gun toting, bible thumping, failed beauty queen with a knocked up out of wedlock teenage daughter!!! Jesus Christ! Why don’t they just pull a double wide up to the White House and call it a day.”

    ROTFLMAO!

    I’ll bring the forties in a brown paper bag.

  24. On the Obama side is potentially the path to socialism
    Do you mean like European or Australian socialism (Sweden et al) and why is that a bad thing. Or, to Americans is anything left of the Democrats a damned commie?

  25. Scalzi

    And that is that the “rock star” on the Democratic ticket is actually the person who is running for president, while the “rock star” on the GOP ticket… isn’t.

    Well, I tried to give this advice to Obama back when you posted the first thread on the subject. Maybe Obama doesn’t read “Whatever”?

    And while he may be saying “Whatever” now, he screwed the pooch last Friday.

    And so did most in the Media.

    Palin was made a rock star by the very media that attempted to assassinate her. All of their (negative) attention served only to focus people’s interest on her speech Wednesday night which reports say were viewed by as many people as viewed Obama’s speech.

    And then were surprised when she rose to the occasion and delivered a great political speech.

    Oooops.

    Well, she is what she is now and the New York Times (among others) have only themselves to thank.

    It’s actually no surprise Democrats are “freaking out about it”

    And the freaking out can been seen right here in your comments.

    Personal attacks do not go to “the substance of the two candidates”.

    And I think McCain gave a pretty good “Teddy Roosevelt” speech where he promised to kick ass and get Republicans back on track to perform to the party rhetoric.

    If people believe he and Palin are serious about that, Obama is toast.

    Because smaller government, less regulation, more individual choice and low taxes are what people want.

    Plain and simple.

  26. I meant guns, Rens. One side only likes one half of the Constitution, and the other side only likes the other half. More or less.

    Living in the UK and getting repeatedly burgled, mugged and assaulted has made me kind of a second amendment fan.

  27. Do you mean like European or Australian socialism (Sweden et al) and why is that a bad thing. Or, to Americans is anything left of the Democrats a damned commie?

    Nice question. Last time I tried to ask the same thing I was insulted and called Pol Pot.

  28. Frank@#27

    And McCain’s voting record of 90% along with Bush’s proposals, not to mention Palin’s connections to big oil in Alaska are really going to convince people of that.

    Not to mention that puerile barb about civil rights she just had to fling to an audience that went hurr-hurr-hurr right on cue. I’m sure that played well with the Fox crowd and the avid 24 fans, but personally I’d prefer a grown-up in the White House instead.

  29. MarkHB, how often is a burglary, mugging or assault prevented by an armed civilian. I’m guessing not often. Being armed probably just ups the ante – the perp is probably more inclined to waste the civilian first and then rob the body instead of just making threats. I’m not saying yanks should give up their guns, their children are perfectly entitled to blow each other away with daddies guns, but I do think any feeling of safety from those guns is illusory.

    There was, however, a case in Texas in the last couple of days where a couple of home invaders were shot by the unarmed home owners. Yes, the home invaders were disarmed and shot with their own weapons. Which is kind of humorous really and does nothing for my argument.

  30. Dave in GA @ 8:

    And the prompter operation screwed up in the middle of the speech. Palin went off of her written script and off memory for a good chunk of it.

    This is one of those untruths people keep telling. She used her typed notes during the speech. As one who has done public speaking, you use large fonts looking down briefly to see where you are…it looks like you’re doing it from memory. Especially when you’ve been in seclusion and writing and rehearsing for hours on end.

    There are (a few) pictures of her actually holding her script up. There is video of her doing the walk through and speaking about having a back up of the script on the podium.

    Yes, she did a good job. No she didn’t simply go off memory. I can do it and I’m not even a politician.

  31. Palin was made a rock star by the very media that attempted to assassinate her.

    Really? Point to some specific examples of people in the Obama campaign or even the mainstream media who made personal attacks on Palin.

    Most of the “attacks” seem to be conjured out of thin air by the McCain campain itself, usually in response to questions about Palin’s relevant experience or policy intentions. Ask a legitimate question about her refusal to testify in her “troopergate” inquiry and you are accused of making personal attacks on Palin and her family. Say what?

    See also this little article: Palin Accuses ‘Obama/Biden Democrats’ of Attacking Her Family, But Campaign Can’t Name One

  32. Adam Ziegler

    Point to some specific examples of people in the Obama campaign or even the mainstream media who made personal attacks on Palin.

    Simply amazing. It never ceases to amaze me how some people have an enormous capacity for self-delusion. And it appears that a great many of those exist in the Democratic Party: more than is good for us.

    So now the Party line is: Forget Palin, she’s not running for President anyway and we never attacked her personally to begin with.

    Stunning

    So I’m listening to NPR on my way to work and there is Robert Gibbs (Obama’s media director) saying basically the same think as Scalzi. Let’s forget about Palin. McCain is at the top of the ticket.

    My response? You shoulda thought of that before you dragged her through the mud.

  33. Without wishing to turn this whole comments thread into a pro-gun/anti-gun debate, shane, NH appears to rank about #46 or 48 for violent crimes in the US. Nice and quiet. So it seems to work for them – right now, I’ll just go with empirical data and leave the philosophising to people with that much spare time ;)

  34. Lol, you really think getting the Clintons off the sidelines is a GOOD thing? Too funny. That’s just what you need, the Clintons stealing more of Obama’s bandwidth.

  35. Just wanted to throw this out there because I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and because of your statement about the election being “reasonably close.” I know the media tends to just report on national polls, like Gallup, which show the candidates to be within 6 points or so to each other. However, as Bush made abundantly clear in 2000, we don’t elect presidents by a national popular vote, but with electoral votes. When you look at electoral vote totals done with state-by-state polls, Obama has 301 to McCain’s 224, with 13 still too close to call. That doesn’t seem nearly as close. Thoughts, anyone? (BTW, my source is electoral-vote.com.)

  36. Hmmm…I have bravely watched both conventions on CNN, and can reliably inform you that each party has an equal number of idiots who hover behind the commentators on their cell phones calling their friends and waving at the cameras.
    No change there…

  37. Mike B

    When you look at electoral vote totals done with state-by-state polls, Obama has 301 to McCain’s 224, with 13 still too close to call.

    According to Real Clear Politics the electoral count is 238 to 185 (including leaners) with 115 in the tossup column.

    But they are listing Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina and Nevada as tossups.

    I think it is likely McCain will win all of those. That would make it 274 McCain. Enough to win.

  38. Is it just me, or does McCain’s wave look like Hitler’s salute? Not to suggest he is in any way a Nazi. Just, if I were him, I’d try not to do that. Maybe its just that picture.

  39. Really amsuing is Obama’s response to McCain’s speech where he said “‘yeah duh he’s going to try and insult me becuase it’s poltics but I’ve been called worse things on the bastketball court.”

  40. I take offense primarily by the insult to my intelligence. The Repulicans spend months decrying Obama as nothing more than a rock star: ie, all sizzle, no steak. (How’s that for a red meat analogy?) Now they’re moist because they have their own “rock star.” This same “black is white” bait and switch has been done several times already during the campaign, and it disturbs me that they think the American voter is that stupid. Almost as much as the thought that the American voter might actually be that stupid. After all, it was the American voter who gave the world four more years of Dubya.

  41. Frank at #42

    Thanks for the response! I didn’t have a lot of time, but I checked the polling on two of the states you mentioned: Colorado and Ohio. It looks like electoral-vote.com is using more recent polling data, which shows a shift towards Obama. How much of that is the post-convention bounce remains to be seen, but it looks at first glance like McCain can’t count on the states you listed quite as definitely as you may think.

  42. #2.) I’ve only seen portion of it on The Daily Show. But… it looked badly given, honestly. Badly-rehearsed, some stumbles, and pretty obviously — and badly — read off a teleprompter.

    Uh? What? I sat down and watched the entire speech yesterday and thought it was absolutely excellent. Frankly, getting your news updates from a Stewart proclaimed “comedy” show, is rather amusing to me. ;)

    As far as “rock star” status goes, Palin may share the faux title with Obama, but what a lot people (including Barack) are overlooking, is that there are a few of us, who are concerned McCain might not make it through his entire presidency. Death happens, (especially with a plethora of past health problems coupled with old age).

    I am looking at Palin as a potential presidential candidate. It’s Biden I could give a shit about.

    Not to mention, Palin isn’t being chased around by what I would consider fanatical Hollywood starlets, or musicians and that puts her on a very real level for a lot of Americans. She doesn’t come from ridiculous money, she’s a rabid hockey mom, and her family has the kind of problems that come with any family. No one is perfect and for some Americans, its taken a spotlight on a potential VP to tell us that its ok to be dysfunctional.

    My issue when it really comes down to it; I am absolutely terrified that if Barack Obama gets elected in November, he’s going to walk up on the greatest stage in the world, and realized his hands are tied by not only tradition, but also by a do-nothing senate. All those eloquent words will have meant nothing when it comes to writing and passing actual policy. Everyone who has been so tired of being screwed by the political pooch, will be crushed. It takes an immense measure of faith and strength to hope for something or someone. Having that spurned even unintentionally will be devastating to a lot of people.

    Anyone who is expecting significant change from either party has had some pretty colorful wool pulled over their eyes. For that reason alone, I’m agonizing over my decision come November, rock star status or not.

  43. On the curious word that Palin “won’t be giving any interviews but will only be scripted and choreographed appearances” I have to wonder: is she already training for her Dick Cheney role?

    Next up: a woman-sized safe in an undisclosed location.

  44. Mike B

    Colorado and Ohio. It looks like electoral-vote.com is using more recent polling data, which shows a shift towards Obama. How much of that is the post-convention bounce remains to be seen, but it looks at first glance like McCain can’t count on the states you listed quite as definitely as you may think.

    Obama will lose these states on the gun issue alone. Just as Kerry did in 2004 because of the gun issue.

    Only in this case, Biden is more elevated in his support of the assault-weapon ban, even claiming to have written the original bill (which he didn’t but it is indicative of his position that he would have claimed to have done so).

    People, especially Democrats, often forget how powerful an issue it is. It moves elections.

    Even among women. Perhaps, especially among women.

    Growth in women applying for gun licenses are on the rise country wide.

    Obama did not do himself any favors by selecting one of the most anti-gun members of Congress for his running mate.

  45. #38 MarkHB, NH is New Hampshire right? The state with less than 1.4 million people and the biggest city has a population of about 105,000? Are you suggesting that it has a low violent crime rate because it was the first state to allow same sex civil unions?

  46. deCadmus

    On the curious word that Palin “won’t be giving any interviews but will only be scripted and choreographed appearances”

    This is wishful thinking on the part of Democrats. She’ll be out there. And it’s just another thing about which the Party leaders, and the Obama campaign fear.

  47. Does anybody have numbers about how many times McCain and Obama have performed on entertainment shows?

    The implication is that Obama is the Hollywood type, but someone told me that his number isn’t even close to McCain’s.

  48. @ 35 Nicole:

    “This is one of those untruths people keep telling. She used her typed notes during the speech. As one who has done public speaking, you use large fonts looking down briefly to see where you are…it looks like you’re doing it from memory. Especially when you’ve been in seclusion and writing and rehearsing for hours on end.

    There are (a few) pictures of her actually holding her script up. There is video of her doing the walk through and speaking about having a back up of the script on the podium.

    Yes, she did a good job. No she didn’t simply go off memory. I can do it and I’m not even a politician.”

    What untruth are we talking about here? I didn’t say just off memory. I said off text AND memory.

    Prompters are seductive things. When you’re using one, it’s so tempting to not even think about the printed copy and just hammer right along. Then, when they do get messed up, it’s time to get that walleye-pike-look while you fumble through and try to figure out where you are, while you uh-uh-uh way through it. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of panic. You can see it on the news every night.

    And, yeah, I’m no politician, but I can do it too.

    It’s just nice to see someone who has to deal with that not stumble all over themselves when the prompter goes haywire. It helps if the message you’re delivering and the wording of that message is really who you are.

  49. Here’s why I think we should be paying more attention to Palin. I don’t fear her (despite what many on the right would like to believe), but I fear what she represents. She’s one of those women (and I know several) who are sweet as pie to your face, and the minute you turn your back, they throw you under the bus. I thought her speech was reasonably well delivered, if rather sarcastic in tone. But if I were McCain, I’d watch my back around her. She’s ambitious, and I can see her tossing McCain down the White House stairs to get what she wants. She’s Rove in a dress and red heels.

  50. Frank @53: It’s not wishful thinking… it’s word from the McCain camp.

    According to Nicole Wallace of the McCain campaign, the American people don’t care whether Sarah Palin can answer specific questions about foreign and domestic policy. According to Wallace — in an appearance I did with her this morning on Joe Scarborough’s show — the American people will learn all they need to know (and all they deserve to know) from Palin’s scripted speeches and choreographed appearances on the campaign trail and in campaign ads.

  51. @ 26 Colleen Lindsay

    “Best Sarah Palin comment I’ve seen so far comes from the Billings Gazette:

    “Gun toting, bible thumping, failed beauty queen with a knocked up out of wedlock teenage daughter!!! Jesus Christ! Why don’t they just pull a double wide up to the White House and call it a day.”

    ROTFLMAO!

    I’ll bring the forties in a brown paper bag.”

    THAT’S the attitude that’s truly pissing off a lot of people. Welcome to the reason that Obama’s not running away with the election.

    That tune doesn’t play well with a huge chunk of the electorate. If it was a dance, it would be a 50’s craze called “The Adlai.”

    The rumbling you’ve been hearing since Palin’s speech may the sounds of the Jacksonians waking up from slumber.

  52. Frank @ various – the only personal attack I am aware of was by Daily Kos asking about the parentage of Trig (her youngest). That was in fact out of line.

    But questions about what she’s done as mayor and governor seem legitimate to me. How is asking a candidate for elected office “what have you done?” a personal attack?

  53. Are you suggesting that it has a low violent crime rate because it was the first state to allow same sex civil unions?

    That was Vermont. New Hampshire did it a little later.

  54. deCadmus

    Well, we’ll just see now won’t we.

    I know for a fact the Vice-Presidential debate will not be a scripted event.

    But that will not be all….

    Matt McIrvin

    That was Vermont. New Hampshire did it a little later.

    Yeah. That was Vermont. And here in Vermont we have even fewer gun laws than New Hampshire and manage to keep our crime rate pretty low too.

    I have to have a license to carry in New Hampshire (which I do) but I don’t need one in Vermont (or Alaska, I might add). And neither does anyone who visits the State.

    Just sayin’

    Blue as we are, you will not get elected to sate-wide office if you are for gun control. Just ask Bernie…

  55. Just because the media asked questions of Palin, and the Democrats asked questions of Palin, doesn’t mean she was treated unfairly. The media and the Republicans have been asking questions about Obama for the past year. IGNORING the Bristol Palin stuff, what BAD questions did the media ask about Palin? (As far as the Bristol stuff goes, that’s a different discussion altogether).

  56. @49: Kate Baker
    I am looking at Palin as a potential presidential candidate. It’s Biden I could give a shit about.

    Fair enough. So let’s hear what you have to say about her as a presidential candidate.

    Not to mention, Palin isn’t being chased around by what I would consider fanatical Hollywood starlets, or musicians and that puts her on a very real level for a lot of Americans. She doesn’t come from ridiculous money, she’s a rabid hockey mom, and her family has the kind of problems that come with any family. No one is perfect and for some Americans, its taken a spotlight on a potential VP to tell us that its ok to be dysfunctional.

    This is all very interesting, but it is basically pointless hyperbole. You seem to be suggesting that she’s unique in having problems in her family, or in not coming from money. Are you unaware of Obama’s background? The whole single parent/raised by grandparents bit? That he doesn’t come from “ridiculous money” either?

    My issue when it really comes down to it; I am absolutely terrified that if Barack Obama gets elected in November, he’s going to walk up on the greatest stage in the world, and realized his hands are tied by not only tradition, but also by a do-nothing senate. All those eloquent words will have meant nothing when it comes to writing and passing actual policy. Everyone who has been so tired of being screwed by the political pooch, will be crushed. It takes an immense measure of faith and strength to hope for something or someone. Having that spurned even unintentionally will be devastating to a lot of people.

    And this situation is different if McCain is elected, how? That’s a zero-sum argument. Are suggesting that because neither candidate will be able to get anything done because of a do-nothing congress then it a) doesn’t matter who we vote for, or b) because it will hurt people more to vote for hope and then potentially have that hope not bear fruit, they should vote for the guy who won’t actually change anything?

    That’s the most backwards logic I’ve heard in a long time.

    How about this: Compare the policy proposals of the two tickets. Figure out what you like and don’t about McCain, then do the same thing for Obama. That seems, to me, like a more reasonable way to make this decision.

  57. You shoulda thought of that before you dragged her through the mud

    The scene of Republicans working themselves up into a lather over personal attacks in politics is another one of those Orwellian moments in life. Next up, McCain “The Candidate of Peace…” (oh…wait…)

  58. Dear Frank,

    I realize that you are in love with Sarah Palin or something, but you have to understand the way comments like these,

    This is wishful thinking on the part of Democrats. She’ll be out there. And it’s just another thing about which the Party leaders, and the Obama campaign fear.

    make the rest of us laugh ourselves silly.

    The only people who think Palin is hot stuff (other than in the, you know, ex beauty queen way) are people who already agree with her crazy right wing opinions.

    Everyone else gets kind of nauseated hearing her speak. She’s like George W. Bush concentrate.

  59. @13: With respect to the overwhelming paleness of the delegates, Tom Ridge’s speech endorsing McCain included this (heard on radio, transcript found online):

    “Let us elect a public servant who refuses to think in terms of red versus blue — but only in terms of red, WHITE and blue” (emphasis Ridge’s).

    I wonder whether anyone in the hall realized this turn of phrase included an unintended double meaning…

    As for McCain’s speech: Perhaps you’ve heard by now (see Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo) that the large image displayed behind McCain during the first part of the speech — an unknown large building with green lawn — turns out to be Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, CA. Someone on his staff evidently thought that (i) this was an image of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, and (ii) the audience would recognize it as such, even if it were the correct image. A fitting metaphor for how he would govern.

  60. Uh, let’s see, someone who have very little national media exposure is thrust suddenly on the scene, which then scrambles “the media” to find out information about her and within a few minutes run across a few (at least at first-blush) scandals, and the right calls that “assassination.” Unbelievable.

    Personally I think she gave a good speech. It was all red meat, which is the VP’s role anyway. She delivered for the base.

  61. Frank, I look forward to Palin getting the same treatment that Obama got with regard to her church, and her association with the AIP. If she can handle those inevitable questions without the GOP whining about sexism every time someone tries to ask her difficult questions, it’ll speak well to her character, and the GOPs.

    We’ll wait and see.

  62. Jeremiah G @62

    Just because the media asked questions of Palin, and the Democrats asked questions of Palin, doesn’t mean she was treated unfairly.

    I’ll answer you with a Rasmussen poll taken before Gov Palin’s speech

    Among unaffiliated voters, 49% say reporters are trying to hurt Palin, while 32% say their coverage is unbiased.

    Gee. Don’t know where they could have gotten that idea from?

    Because, it never happened.

    Or is the theory that the Republican’s claimed it happened when it didn’t and everyone just believed it because, you know, they’re just good liars.

    Stop it.

    Stop it now.

  63. I agree that Hillary Clinton is the best choice as the person to counter Palin. Biden is too prone to foot-in-mouth disease and, whether we like it or not, anything he says is going to get tagged sexist. Clinton appeals to the swing voting women more than Obama or Biden. And if it’s Hillary, it will let Obama and Biden continue to rise above and focus on McCain.

  64. Frank-

    And further down the poll page that you linked, it said “Eighty percent (80%) of Republicans say reporters are trying to hurt the GOP vice presidential nominee, and 28% of Democrats agree.”

    So it comes down to party lines. That could mean many things. It could mean that Democrats can’t see when a Republican is getting the shaft from the media. Or it could just mean that Republicans don’t like the media anyway, and don’t like the media asking any questions of their new star.

    I am a Democrat, and will vote for Obama. But I am OK with the media looking into him. I am OK to talk about Rezko and Ayres and whoever else the media finds. But the media DID pull those people up and talk about them. (The media is NOT talking about them now because it’s not new news). What do we know about Sarah Palin? I want to know everything about her if she is running for Vice President. McCain announced her last Friday to take news coverage away from the Dem convention. Well, he succeeded. And now he complains that there is too much coverage.

  65. Caleb:

    Your response just solidifies my opinion that people are so angry about the current administration, they’ll fight tooth and nail to defend Barack because he’s not a republican. It’s hard to invest one’s self so loyally to the ideas of hope and change and not feel threatened when someone plays behind “enemy lines” on the campaign trail. I guess that is what we get for exerting our faith in change on a personal level in politics.

    I appreciate your responses, however I was specifically responding to the OP, and not tackling specific issues. I believe we were discussing Palin’s “rock star” status and not delving into the issues. It’s an entirely different conversation, thanks for keeping up.

    Not once did I even mention Obama living the life of an over-privileged rich American. The resonance of imperfection to which I was speaking is occurring now with Palin. Frankly, I’d love to shake Obama’s hand and congratulate him on making something of himself despite his circumstances growing up. Yet right now, I am keeping my eye on Palin’s family and praising her on how strong someone must be to not only weather the political climate, but to do it with such big issues affecting the family and still come out on top.

    As far as comparing the issues, yep, done that. Being that I vote according to my conscience, no candidate running right now really rings my bell, hence my mental workout in trying to decide.

    Every vote counts, Caleb. It would be a shame for you to promote that we don’t have a voice just because I’m still on the fence in deciding who might be the candidate. I know for a fact, I’m not the only one mulling over the choices in this country, which is why I’m getting the reaction I am from those steady in Obama’s camp.

    My fear is for all of you who cling to the comforting ideas of hope and change in the wake of a very painful current administration. While it may be comforting to know someone is in your corner and expresses his ideas so eloquently, I know that should I vote for Obama, I will be doing it with my eyes open and expecting something entirely different; realism.

  66. FYI – I hate discussing politics. My asshole puckers every time either word “republican or democrat” exits my lips.

    Gotta see a doctor about that, me thinks.

  67. The bottom line is that the Palin pick was a very smart choice by McCain that has helped him in very tangible ways. This is in sharp contrast to Obama’s pick of Biden which has done nothing for him.

    Obama’s pitch all year has been that his youth and lack of experience is irrelevant because his judgement is so good. In this specific case McCain demonstrated that he has the better instincts and judgement.

    The palin pick has the added advantage of catching most of the pundits and professionals by surprise. Witness John’s post in which he speculated that she was vetted by democratic moles.

    If she joined Cheney in his bunker today and was never seen again, it would still have been a brilliant pick by McCain.

    It is amazing how fast the meme went from “moronic brain dead pick” to “eh VP doesn’t matter anyway”.

  68. “Hillary Clinton, who I would expect is privately fuming that McCain and the GOP think so little of her positions and personality that they expect her supporters to be swayed by someone who holds antithetical political positions, simply because that person’s got fallopian tubes. ”

    The Clinton supporters who ARE brain-spazzed enough to be swayed by McCain-Palin are in for a very rude shock should they help elect that ticket. The rest of us will be too heartsick to derive any pleasure at the horror they experience at their slowly-dawning comprehension that neither McCain, nor, most especially Palin, represent the interests of progressive women in this country AT ALL.

    As for those Clinton supporters who vote for McCain-Palin out of SPITE, well, I believe that often the universe deals with that special kind of stupidity in a way all its own.

  69. It amuses me that they might compare her to a rockstar, which is a type of celebrity…which is how they’ve been trying to paint Obama. But it’s ok when they’re candidate is the celebrity.

    And I love the elitist smear they’re trying to paint Obama with. There was one potential first lady who attended her husband’s acceptance speech in an outfit that cost $10k+ and it wasn’t Michelle.

  70. I used to vote reliably Democrat in my 20’s.

    They lost me after 9/11/2001.

    Right now neither party can claim any sort of special enlightenment, cleanliness, or exemption from my personal umbrage.

    I think both parties are very, very good at telling their constituencies what they think those constituencies want to hear, then doing something totally different when it actually comes time to legislate.

    I think Palin has been treated shamefully by many people who would love her, if only she had a (D) attached to her name.

    I think Obama would be a much stronger candidate in 2012 or 2016, provided he became as much of an activist in the legislature as he claims to have been on the streets of Chicago.

    And provided he stopped pretending he alone can magically solve or resolve every problem in the known universe, and do it with the usual Leftist promise of state solutions which require more sclerotic beuracracy and (of course) more money out of the pockets of the middle class.

    I think Biden does not excite me in the slightest. I think McCain does not excite me in the slightest.

    I think this election is still Obama’s to lose, and it will be up to Palin to pull in enough interest to save McCain; if it’s possible at all.

    I think Palin will remain an important figure in the Republican party no matter what happens. I think Republicans and Democrats will both have to learn to accept and deal with this.

    Lastly, I think it’s sad that half of America hates the other half of America, and vice versa, based on politics. Liberals and conservatives, each calling the other craven and evil and accusing the other of being the worst sort of human being possible. While at the same time making excuses for poor or even terrible behavior on the “good side” because, hey, you gotta stick up for the “team”, right?

    Meanwhile we rub shoulders with one another at the office, at the store, on the sidewalk, and then go home and go to our blogs and call each other filthy nasty names all day and all night.

    Collective madness, yes?

    If more Americans on the Right and Left spent more time actually talking and less time demonizing the other side for failure to magically transform into conservatives or liberals (two words now totally bereft of definition, thanks to modern politics) maybe we could actually get something done.

    Thanks, just had to get it out. I feel a little better now.

    Oh yeah, one more thing. Palin is a MILF!

    Not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all, IMHO.

    =^)

  71. Adam at #36,

    If you really need a list…

    1. The US weekly cover was a deliberate smear by the publisher who is a huge Obama supporter.

    2. The national Enquirer ran an unsourced article claiming Sarah had an affair with one of her husband’s fishing buddies.

    3. The daily Kos started and the media ran with the rumor that Trig was really Bristol’s baby and that sarah faked her preganancy to cover for her. ( Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic is still demanding DNA tests).

    4. The NYT ran three front page stories on Bristol Palin, even though they were too sensitive to run anything on Edwards.

    5. Bumiller at the NYT ran with the story that Palin was a member of AIP even though she wasn’t. Interestingly enough Bumiller is still standing by her story even after her source retracted her statement, the GOP showed proof that it was false, and the NYT issued a correction.

    6. The Obama campaign itself pushed the Eagleton option in an attempt to try and bully her into quitting.

    Need more? go read the comments on John’s post about the vetters all being democratic sleeper agents.

    There was a concerted and unfair series of smears leveled at this lady and her family that went way beyond normal or decent. It spawned a backlash because Americans in both parties are inherently decent and don’t like that sort of excess.

    Go ahead and pretend it never happened if it makes you feel better, but it doesn’t do a lot for your credibility.

    Bonus point: as a result of the attacks, both palin and Mccain drew larger TV audiences for their speeches than Obama did and Rasmussen is reporting today that Palin is polling as more popular than either Mccain or Obama. Nice work.

  72. I love how the Dems cannot avoid gnawing at these supposed ‘flaws’ in Palin’s image. All the way up to her speech Wednesday night, it was Obama-vs-Palin, with Obama himself drawing direct comparisons in an interview. Afterwards, notice how Obama has decided to re-focus on McCain and Biden is picking his words carefully.

    To the Dems, you must realize that Palin, and everything about her, is bait. She will bide her time in the face of overt criticism, then respond with overwhelming rhetorical force. Obama is doing the right thing by ignoring her for the time being, but I can guarantee you that she will continue scoring PR coups.

  73. For McJulie @65

    You said, “The only people who think Palin is hot stuff (other than in the, you know, ex beauty queen way) are people who already agree with her crazy right wing opinions. Everyone else gets kind of nauseated hearing her speak.”

    There may be a lot “crazy right wing” independents and moderates than you think…

    From Survey USA

    24 hours ago, independent voters nationwide were split on whether Palin was an asset or a liability to McCain’s campaign. Today, by a 2:1 margin, independents say Palin is an asset. Overnight, the percentage calling the Alaska governor an asset to the campaign climbed 13 points; the percentage calling her a liability fell 17 points.

    The numbers are similar among moderates, who 24 hours ago viewed Palin as a liability by an 11 point margin; today, Palin is seen as an asset by an 18 point margin.

    http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=36ee8fde-58bf-4027-a75b-b29d86b66b92

    Oh, and according to Rasmussen, she’s more popular than McCain…or Obama. (Just by a point, but still…)

  74. Hrm…you know that hoopla is that if McCain gets elected and then bites due any of the medical problems he has…she will be prez.

    It’s a serious thought to consider…:(

  75. Sub-Odeon, let’s try to make our posts something more than “go team,” shall we? This isn’t a football game, it’s people having a conversation.

  76. the media ran with the rumor that Trig was really Bristol’s baby

    I’m sure you have links to newspapers that published this?(no, the National Enquirer does not qualify as a newspaper).

    even though they were too sensitive to run anything on Edwards.

    Gee, this must be a figment of my imagination?

    But no, you’re right: a search in the NY Times web site for “edwards rielle hunter” returns only 3,670 hits. I’m sure they’re all coincidences.

  77. I agree that McCain was smart in choosing Palin – and that she is an asset to his campaign – but not in any way that makes me more likely to vote for him. McCain chose Palin :

    1) to energize the GOP base, which will lead to more $$ donations, and votes for those that were not enthusiastic about McCain (he’s “too moderate”) and might have stayed home vs. voting at all.

    2) (timing) to steal some of Obama’s thunder during the DNC

    3) to appease the vocal evangelical right wing branch of the GOP

    4) to make him look “less old”

    bottom line – the choice was engineered to help the campaign, not as the most qualified person for the job as VP (and petentialy president)

    Conversely- Biden was chosen because he won’t be a distraction from Obama during the campaign (Clinton would have been) and because he has a skillset that would compliment Obama’s if/when he wins the election.

    As far as this being a reflection of McCain’s decision making ability- yes he has just proven he can make “good political decisions”

  78. A suggestion for everyone posting in this thread: take the time to re-read (or read for the first time) our host’s take on politics from a few years ago.

    http://scalzi.com/whatever/002984.html

    He nailed it. Well, except for mine….grumble grumble grumble…..

    Just a reminder that, “Your view is politics, but mine is just common sense” is wishful thinking.

  79. Colleen 26: It’s a shameless play for the trailer-park trash vote. (No, not everyone who lives in a trailer park is trash. I don’t believe people are trash at all. But that’s what they’re trying to do with Sarah Palin.) They think the American people are stupid, and considering the last two elections I’m not going to contradict them. No one can be elected President without getting the Stupid Moron vote.

    shane 27: It’s not a bad thing, but yes, anything left of the Democrats is either considered communism or just outright terra incognita to most Americans. What do you think had fueled this country’s decades-long drift to the right? The Rethuglicans move to the right, and the Democrats move to the center, so then the Rethuglicans move to the right again. This is because the Democrats try to work across the aisle, and the Rethuglicans want to avoid any impression that they’re in any way cooperating with the Democrats.

    Giacomo 31: That stinks. No one should be taking Pol Potshots at you! Seriously, I’m sorry that happened. Some of us Americans think the US could do with a bit of European-style socialism, but we’re a tiny minority and pretty much anathema to the major parties.

    MarkHB 38: I call shenanigans. Did you know that monks in monasteries live longer than married men who work on Wall Street? Proves that celibacy causes longevity, right? Well, no, and NH has a whole hell of a lot of other features that contribute to its low rate of violent crime. Very low population density, anyone?

    Frank 42: Nope, Obama is leading in three of those, and only needs to take one to win.

    ____ 51: You hope. I think your scenario is unlikely. A lot can change between now and November, but right now it looks like an easy win for Obama. (Yeah, I hope.)

    Drew 75: Some of us still believe it was a moronic pick. People who already agreed with the foaming right liked her speech. Everyone else thinks she’s a nutbar, a hypocrite, a liar, and possibly a criminal (the investigations are still pending in Alaska).

  80. From what I know of Scalzi’s politics, I disagree with him on most points of policy; however, I thought his analysis in this post was pretty much on target.

    Palin knocked it out of the park. Dan Quayle, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Mitt Romney — which of them could have given that speech? She has become a rock star, and if Obama wins then she’ll be a contender for 2012.

    My problem is that McCain is the top of the ticket, and his speech last night showed in many ways that he’s not as good in general as he was with his VP choice. Let’s count some of the ways:

    1. He started by talking to a conservative audience about family. This is a man who married a woman, had three children by her, and then, while still married to her, started dating a pretty rich girl who was seventeen years younger than he was, finally asking his wife for a divorce. He remarried (his children didn’t go to the wedding) and had four more children by the new wife. This is honor? Trust? Respectability? It rang hollow.

    2. He brought in personal stories of people in various forms of difficulty to tug at our heartstrings: a couple in economic trouble, a couple with an autistic child, and a soldier who died. But what are we going to do about those things? I have no clue. Increase federal welfare programs? I hope not. Create new Department of Education programs to help autistic children? Please don’t. Pull out of Iraq in March? Heaven help us. So what the hell was the point of talking about those people?

    3. He said a creed filled with “we believe”, over and over. But that frightens me just a bit, because he’s more than willing to fight his own party when he thinks it’s right. So I’d like to know what he believes. The biggest cringe came when he said “a culture of life” — this from a man who has supported abortion and embryonic stem cell research. I know that Palin believes, as do I, that those things are (with due respect to those who disagree with me) barbaric practices that should not be permitted by a civilized society, but McCain doesn’t say that he believes that: only that “we” do. And I don’t trust him to fight for what we believe in.

    4. He talked about a jobs program that seems more out of the left than out of the right. What paragraph in the Constitution enumerates the power to create a federal jobs program?

    5. He said he wasn’t afraid of the threats in the world. (To quote a wise old man with a hell of a lot of experience, Senator, “You should be. You should be.”) He said he knows how the military works (which I believe) and how the world works (which I half believe). He said he knows good from evil (which I also only half believe). I confess that this part of the speech creeped me out. I simply don’t have faith in him. He’s given me little reason to.

    6. He completely overplayed the POW card. This is a part of his life for which I truly respect him; by all accounts, he acted as a hero during this time. But he could have told us the lesson he derived from his time as a POW without dwelling on the details. Most bad-ass military types I know don’t talk like that. Others do the talking for them, frequently without them even being in the room. I felt like he took the most honorable part of his life and used it to pander to his audience. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

    Yes, Palin became a rock star, but if this election is about the substance of the two main candidates, then John McCain showed that he is thinner than any conservative could hope.

    P.S. No, it’s not weird to hand a child around a lot, especially at an event where you have to stay mostly in the same spot. Changing from hand to hand and getting different scenery can be calming and keep the baby interested.

  81. shane @52:

    That’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m sure also that large amounts of snow factor, as well.

  82. “Obama’s already signaled he’s not going to bother with her; she’ll be shopped out to Biden — or even better, Hilary Clinton, who I would expect is privately fuming that the McCain and the GOP think so little of her positions and personality that they expect her supporters to be swayed by someone who holds antithetical political positions, simply because that person’s got fallopian tubes.”

    OK, I’m not an USian and don’t have a horse in this race. But… A Hillary Clinton / Sarah Palin debate? That would be… interesting.

    *shudders*

  83. Frank @ 37:

    You didn’t address my question. You instead made an ad-hominem attack on “some people,” presumably including me, apparently making the argument that by not agreeing with you they are delusional. And at the end renewed your unfounded assertion that “they” (presumably me, the Obama campaign or anyone again who disagrees with you) dragged Palin through the mud. You conclude by making the absurd argument that by refusing to talk trash about Palin, the Obama campain has shown that they shouldn’t have talked trash about her in the first place. (Except that they didn’t, and despite vitriolic trash talking by Palin about Obama.)

    You make me tired.

    Drew @81:

    I appreciate your genuine attempt to address the question I asked of Frank. I have to say I find the examples you provide uncompelling. US Magazine and the National Enquirer are not “mainstream media” to me.

    And regarding Bristol Palin, all of that happened after Palin herself announced that Bristol was pregnant. Reuters reported it (because presumably by announcing it Palin wanted them to report it) and then the McCain campain released a statement “in response to the Reuters article.” What the hell are you expecting the NYT or any other outlet to do at that point? Ignore it?

    As for AIP membership, the AIP still claims that she attended their convention in 1994 with her husband, who did register with the AIP up until 2002. And the NYT reports that Governer Palin recorded a video segment for the AIP convention this year. In any case, I do not consider asking questions about association with a separitist political party it to be out of bounds for someone who would be vice president.

  84. Re: the comment that McCain looks like he’s giving a Hitler salute–McCain’s raised hand looks funny because he can’t lift his hands above his head due to war injuries.

    I don’t get all this ruckus about Palin. Remember she’s running for VP. Other than Ronald Reagan, recent Republican Presidents have done worse–she’s certainly better than Spiro Agnew and Dan Quayle (a combined 10 years ….and at least she has better aim than Dick Cheney

  85. McCain’s picture is completely understandable, but yesterday morning CNN’s webpage had a picture of Sarah Palin doing the Hitler salute, too. The picture disappeared fairly quickly and I never saw it again as they rotated through pictures of the evening (doesn’t mean it didn’t). It may have been accidental, but I’m doubtful. Governor Palin needs to learn the value of bending her elbow.

    About passing Trig around … I think that’s a red herring that distracts from the important substantive issues. It’s doubtful that he can support himself much and I’m sure he gets heavy after a while. Better to pass him than to drop him!

  86. @Frank:

    “more individual choice and low taxes are what people want”

    What part of overturning Roe v. Wade gives people more “individual choice”?

  87. and at least she has better aim than Dick Cheney

    You assume that Cheney didn’t hit what he was aiming at.

  88. Thanks for using the S word.

    Substance. Think about it, a president with substance. A vice president with substance. A government fueled by substance.

    I may be a jaded GenXer, but that’s still an ideal for me. I’ve voted for 24 years now and maybe this year, I’ll find me a little letter S.

  89. Sub_Odeon @80:

    You Say this-

    “If more Americans on the Right and Left spent more time actually talking and less time demonizing the other side for failure to magically transform into conservatives or liberals (two words now totally bereft of definition, thanks to modern politics) maybe we could actually get something done.”

    after saying this->

    “And provided he stopped pretending he alone can magically solve or resolve every problem in the known universe, and do it with the usual Leftist promise of state solutions which require more sclerotic beuracracy and (of course) more money out of the pockets of the middle class.”

    So, um, we should all get along, stop haressing each other, as long as we don’t like leftist solutions? So…you’re solution is for America to become a one-party, republican nation and to stop bickering?

    Oh, and no, I don’t think dem’s would like Palin if she had a (D) after her name. Since, you know, all of her politics are extreme Right Republican.

  90. Sub_Odeon @80:

    You Say this-

    “If more Americans on the Right and Left spent more time actually talking and less time demonizing the other side for failure to magically transform into conservatives or liberals (two words now totally bereft of definition, thanks to modern politics) maybe we could actually get something done.”

    after saying this->

    “And provided he stopped pretending he alone can magically solve or resolve every problem in the known universe, and do it with the usual Leftist promise of state solutions which require more sclerotic beuracracy and (of course) more money out of the pockets of the middle class.”

    So, um, we should all get along, stop haressing each other, as long as we don’t like leftist solutions? So…you’re solution is for America to become a one-party, republican nation and to stop bickering?

    Oh, and no, I don’t think dem’s would like Palin if she had a (D) after her name. Since, you know, all of her politics are extreme Right Republican.

  91. @Kate Baker #73

    Interesting. My response wasn’t the slightest bit angry. Confused, yes, but angry, no. Nor did I lobby specifically for one candidate over another.

    I appreciate your responses, however I was specifically responding to the OP, and not tackling specific issues. I believe we were discussing Palin’s “rock star” status and not delving into the issues. It’s an entirely different conversation, thanks for keeping up.

    Ah, anonymous belittlement. I love the internet.

    If we’re going to talk about Mr. Scalzi’s original post, let’s talk about it. In fact, I’d direct you to the concluding paragraph, which I’ve helpfully copied here for you:

    And at the end of the proverbial day, this election is the guys who are the headliners: about McCain and Obama, and their policies and plans, or lack thereof. One of these guys is a rock star, and the other isn’t — and to be honest, I hope that doesn’t matter, either. What should matter, and what I hope will matter, is the substance of the two candidates. Substance is not what people come to “rock stars” for. But it should be what we look for in a president.

    By my reading, our host seems to be suggesting that the rock-star qualities of one or two of the candidates on the ballot shouldn’t matter, but rather that the issues and the candidates proposed policies do. I suppose it is possible to make Sarah Palin’s family into an issue, but I have no interest in doing so.

    I don’t see a lot of common ground between these two campaigns. It is fascinating to me to hear people say that they are truly undecided, and it makes me want to hear more about exactly what it is that you’re on the fence about. If you’re a single issue voter, and the issue is the war, then you’re for one or the other. They don’t seem to be radically different there. If you’re a single issue voter, and the issue is abortion, then again, there seems to be a clear choice. I could go on and on, here.

    I’m legitimately curious about the “undecided” voter in this country. What is it that matters to people like yourself?

    Obama has, at this point, spoken at length about the policies he plans to implement should he be elected. I, for one, like what I heard there. I liked the concrete ideas he put forward. I like the voluntary service program and GI bill. I like his health care plan. I like his aggressiveness towards Bin Laden. I like his tax reform plan. I don’t think his stance on gay rights goes far enough, but it is a good place to start. I like his challenge of oil independence. I like that he’s working against nuclear proliferation, and I like that he seems to take a realistic, modern approach to foreign policy and recognizes the need and the place for diplomacy in that approach. I like that he’s pro-choice. I like that he’ll appoint Judges that will think along those same lines.

    McCain’s plans for the war, for taxes, for health care all seem dangerously bad to me. He has adopted the Republican party platform on choice and gay rights, and the stances on both of those issues are intolerable to me.

    That makes it a clear choice for me. Like I said above, I’m curious to know what about these two tickets is muddied or unclear to you. I’m not interested in trying to convince you one way or another, just intellectually curious what it is that makes this decision difficult.

  92. Jake@94

    You said, “He said he knows how the military works (which I believe) and how the world works (which I half believe).”

    My issue with him is that he’s shown that his knowledge of the world is severely flawed. Geographical problems with which countries border which other countries, talking about countries that don’t exist anymore as if they do, confusing two very disparate cultural groups in the Middle East, calling other country’s leaders by the improper title, he hasn’t impressed me so far.

    Furthermore, a lot of people have talked about his foreign policy experience vs. Obama’s. So far, Obama has gone out of the country and other countries’ leadership has wanted to talk to him; I personally put more value in the fact that other countries want to work with him, even if he doesn’t have twenty-six years of experience in the Senate, over a guy who doesn’t yet realize that Czechoslovakia no longer exists and who can’t tell the difference between a Sunni and Shiite.

  93. @105: I probably disagree with Caleb on almost everything, but not this: I don’t see a lot of common ground between these two campaigns. It is fascinating to me to hear people say that they are truly undecided, and it makes me want to hear more about exactly what it is that you’re on the fence about.

    Chris @99: What part of overturning Roe v. Wade gives people more “individual choice”?

    Clearly, Frank’s point could be well-taken to mean that governmental interference in our lives reduces choice. But it’s not limited to that, and even overturning Roe could lead to more individual choice.

    Let me not appear to dissemble: I would favor a Constitutional amendment that ensures that the rights to life (etc.) begin at conception. However, overturning Roe wouldn’t ensure that right. It would only make it a matter for the states to decide.

    If I could, I would live in a state that doesn’t allow abortion. Right now? No choice.

  94. Renthing @106: I’m not a fan of John McCain. I don’t think he’s great with foreign policy, though I was in favor of the surge and was glad to see that he voted that way.

    I’m not a fan of Obama, either, though, and I’m not impressed with the willingness of other countries’ leaders to speak to him. I want America to be less like the EU, not more. We are citizens of the world, but citizens of the United States first. And, though this is an imperfect criterion by which to judge Obama, I tend to dislike many of the foreign leaders who like him.

  95. Scalzi @71

    It wouldn’t be the first time that happened, Frank

    Oh, jeez

    Jeremiah G @72

    And further down the poll page that you linked, it said “Eighty percent (80%) of Republicans say reporters are trying to hurt the GOP vice presidential nominee, and 28% of Democrats agree.”

    Wow. What a surprise. Which is why the extract I included was for unaffiliated people.

    So you people are seriously arguing that when US magazine, for instance, wrote an article that mentioned that Todd Palin had had a drunk driving arrest while forgetting to mention it was about as long ago as Obama’s cocaine use, that was just part of inquiring into the Governor’s record?

    Or the stories about the Governor’s daughter being pregnant were made up by Republicans and didn’t happen?

    The stories questioning whether or not the Governor could be a good mother while being Vice President did not occur? They were made up by Republicans?

    That stories that mention the firing of her brother-in-law without mentioning that said brother-in-law tasered his step-son were never printed?

    Is that what you are arguing?

    No? Yes? To reiterate:

    Among unaffiliated voters, 49% say reporters are trying to hurt Palin, while 32% say their coverage is unbiased.

    Kate Baker @73

    Your response just solidifies my opinion that people are so angry about the current administration, they’ll fight tooth and nail to defend Barack because he’s not a republican.

    No. They are angry, still, because Al Gore lost in 2000.

    Sub-Odeon

    I think Obama would be a much stronger candidate in 2012 or 2016,

    Would have been. If he loses, he’s done, at least with regards to the Presidency. I don’t know of anybody who was the nominee of their party ever getting a second chance if they lost the election.

    He should have waited. He’s young enough.

    David @87

    no, the National Enquirer does not qualify as a newspaper

    They broke the Monica Lewinsky story as well as the Edwards story.

    Sub-Odeon @89

    I think John was referring to your post at 83.

    Irene Delse @96

    But… A Hillary Clinton / Sarah Palin debate? That would be… interesting.

    If everything goes according to plan, you’ll see such a debate in 2012, when Hillary runs against Palin for President.

    One of them will win.

    There will be a female President in 2012 if McCain wins.

    Jake Freivald @107

    Let me not appear to dissemble: I would favor a Constitutional amendment that ensures that the rights to life (etc.) begin at conception. However, overturning Roe wouldn’t ensure that right. It would only make it a matter for the states to decide.

    That is correct and most States would likely decide in favor of abortion. But it would be done legislatively, by the people. Which is an important thing that seems to be completely missed by most.

    If our political class wanted the Roe v Wade argument to go away forever, they would simply legislate that abortion was legal in the US.

    Roe v Wade was decided on shaky legal ground. And because it was decided by a court, it has never been accepted by some people.

    But the US Congress could pass legislation making abortion legal. There is nothing unconstitutional about such a law so it would stand. This would make Roe moot immediately.

    Of course, the better solution would be for each State to decide what abortion restrictions they feel comfortable with.

  96. David @ 87,

    You make a fair point, allow me to clarify. The New york Times and other major media have admitted that they were aware of the Edwards story months ago when he was still a viable presidential candidate. They chose not to pursue the story because they deemed it beneath them. Hoyt the NYT ombudsman says as much in this meandering column

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/10/opinion/10pubed.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    My point was that there was no such hesitation on their part in pursuing Bristol.

    The fact that they ran the story after it broke elsewhere, and after the admission, and after it was no longer newsworthy because Edwards was out of the race does not make up for their lack of prior curiosity. Clearly had they pursued and reported the story in a timely fashion it would have had a major impact on the democratic primary. Hillary and her advisors ( not your typical members of the VRWC)are on record that they think it cost them the nomination( see Wolfson et al).

    There is a clear difference in the manner in which they treated these two stories even if we ignore the fact that one was about an actual candidate, and the other was about a candidate’s minor child. IF you can’t concede at least that much then clearly there is no point in having a discussion.

    As per your other point I did mention that Andrew Sullivan over at the Atlantic has been obsessed with the baby Trig conspiracy and his writing on the subject is easy to find. A number of cable shows also discussed it as a result of Andrew’s interest, those transcripts are harder to track down and frankly I don’t care enough to go look.

    I notice you don’t quibble with the USweekly point and it’s related comparison to the Obama cover. I think it’s important not only because it is so blatant, but because in defending it the editors are claiming that they were only summing up what everybody else in the media was saying.

    Frankly your assertion that the media didn’t take cheap personal shots at Palin is as believable as saying that Palin didn’t take any cheap sarcastic shots at Obama in her speech. You can say it, but it doesn’t help you a whole lot.

  97. Frank @ 112 – You know, when Obama started his run for Presidency, the American people heard about his drug use. It came out and was discussed at length at the time. The big difference here is that all the Palin news is coming out NOW, vs. (in Obama’s case) THEN.

    The abortion issue is this – both McCain and Palin support a constitutional amendment banning abortion. That’s rather different then overturning Roe v. Wade and sending it back to the states.

    I can’t speak for anybody else, but I’m not angry Gore lost. He ran a crappy campaign, and that’s what happens to crappy campaigns – they loose.

    I AM angry that we’re fighting a war and paying for it with a tax cut. We simply can’t keep charging this war on the shiny credit card issued by the Central Bank of China. (Full disclosure – I was in favor of the war at the time and would still like to win it.)

    McCain has come out in favor of the Bush tax cuts – something he opposed before running for President. Nothing of what little I’ve seen of Palin suggests she has a clue as to how to run a government that isn’t floating in oil money.

  98. Frank
    “Because smaller government, less regulation, more individual choice and low taxes are what people want.”

    And after the last 8ish years (not to mention the evidence of the prior 30), you would seriously claim this is the republican result? Really?

    Jason @ 88
    your analysis (which I am not saying I agree with) concludes by saying, basicly, that choosing your VP pick for short term electoral gain that aides only yourself and your party (at best) is a sounder judgement than choosing your VP pick in order to produce a better and more rounded and capable administration that would be more helpful to the amarican people at large. That, Jason, is emblematic of why the republicans are widely referred to as party before country. That is one reason why poeple have noticed when the current administration has spent the last 8 years in permenently avowed election race mode and actively working against over half the people in this country.

    Jake @ 107
    “overturning Roe could lead to more individual choice”

    So, you feel that forcing people to chose one specific option would produce “more individual choice”?
    While you come across as an anti-abortion, single issue type (likely due to religious beliefs), I’ll wait for your response on that.

    TB84 @ 104
    McCain is a man who got shot down while going back to do, against orders, the equivelent of watching your home run before laeving the plate. A man who admits to asking special treatment, out of turn as a POW. A man who gained the nickname “Songbird” while in prison. A man who used the POW card at the first chance and at every chance since then during his political career. A man who actively worked to reduce everything the POWs (himself included) endured to “harsh Interrigation”. A man who has actively worked and voted against the intrests of the veterans no longer in active service.

    This is your “war hero”. Not mine. My father had a fine service record and I would have served (ignoring offers by several service bands) if my number had come up, even though I disagreed with a war that we have found out later was started by lies also. This “war hero” of yours that, in the self-admitted intrest of nothing but ambition, preceeds his nomination speach with (at 9:11 no less) a vile lying video full of 9-11 footage is nothing but a cynical, grasping, son-and-grandson-of-privilage polititian.

  99. Caleb:

    (John, I apologize in advance — feel free to delete if I go over my bitch or posting quota for the day as I’ll have this up on my site as well.)

    Ah, anonymous belittlement. I love the internet.

    My first and last name was up on the posts I made. There was really nothing anonymous about it. You can even click on the link to my site from here if you so choose to get a good idea about me as well. I Hope that breaks down some of the walls of anonymity for you.

    Furthermore, I read your tone as condescending. So did the friend of mine who happened to see it first and alerted me. Granted, tone in text is sometimes hard to read without smileys all over it. See, doesn’t this give you the warm fuzzies now? ;)

    As far as taking the original idea of the post — you were right about it being John’s conclusion. Yet, for some reason, I did not take that paragraph to mean, “Let us open a huge discussion on the issues”. I simply responded to why I felt it was important to look at Palin as more than a candidate for veep and I thought I explained what drew me in to her.
    If you’re curious as to why I am confused, enjoy reading my list while I hand out nails for my crucifixion in advance. :) —oh look, another smile!

    1.) I don’t think banning guns is a good idea. For all the lawful people who would turn them in, the criminals would still have them and be able to get them, leaving all those lawful people unable to protect themselves. An armed society is a polite society and protects against a tyrannical government.

    2.) I don’t believe the government should have any power over a woman’s body. Yet, personally, I am pro-life.
    3.) I do not believe in big government.
    4.) I do not believe in raising taxes when poor and middle-income families are hurt the most. When we stop paying exorbitant amounts of money for toilet seats and hammers, perhaps we wouldn’t be needing to pull money from tax payers to fund social and war programs.
    5.) While I want to help the environment, I do not subscribe to the ‘end of days’ hysteria that is currently hitting both the psyche and appropriately, the market.
    6.) I think it’s asinine to negotiate with terrorists. They are terrorists. Diplomacy only works when there is rational thinking involved, and no matter to whom you speak, terrorists have already crossed the border into crazy town. Go ahead and discuss nuclear aspirations with Kim Jong Il over a nice round of 18 hole-in-one golf and see how far it gets you.

    7.) Like it or not, we are committed to Iraq. I don’t care if you were for it or against it, but we are there, and to withdraw without a stable infrastructure would put everyone in danger.

    8.) I am infuriated over big-oil. Any corporation which makes over $1000.00 a minute while people suffer needs to be regulated. No CEO will ever convince me otherwise.

    9.) I believe in the death penalty for certain crimes if only convicted through DNA evidence.

    10.) I believe in stem cell research.

    11.) I am wary of allowing cloning.

    12.) I believe we should be pumping in as much money into the space program as we possibly can without sacrificing social programs.

    13.) The government should have no bearing over what happens in our bedrooms.

    14.) The government should however fight for any citizen to have equal rights if they are a productive member of society and pay taxes, regardless of race, gender, or sexual preference.

    15.) We should take care of our veterans and their families. Conditions in VA homes and hospitals and even barracks are deplorable.

    16.) As I don’t believe in paying for something that doesn’t complete a job, Congress and the House must set reasonable goals each term. Seriously, had this been a corporation and I the CEO, I would have fired everyone of those lazy bastards for taking vacation while nothing was done.

    I am VERY middle of the road here, Caleb. The McCain/Palin ticket work for my stances on gun control, !terrorist negotiations, !tax increases, and the death penalty.

    The Obama/Biden ticket works for equal rights, stem-cell research, tighter control on big corporations, and social programs.

    No one has really given me an answer on Iraq, the space program, environmental issues and cloning that I really care for, so hence my hesitation.

    I hope this demonstrates why I’m sitting on the fence, here. I don’t really want to debate my stances, because frankly, I really want to get to my kids and play with them tonight. I’d be happy to discuss it further over e-mail or on my site for where I will be posting this reply to stimulate further crucifixion discussion.
    Did I mention I hate politics yet?

  100. Meh. I’m not freaking out about it.

    I’m married and don’t really want a kid right now. The plain fact that Palin thinks birth control even for married couples should be illegal? Scary. Even if I didn’t completely disagree with her on almost everything (and find her hypocritical to boot, as sadly many politicians are…)… that alone would be enough to make me run screaming.

    But then again, I’ve talked things over with family and friends. McCain wins, we move back to Ireland (or possibly Canada, have family in both).
    So nothing really to freak out about cause we has a plan.

    From what I’ve read and seen, however, Palin just looks like political suicide to me.

  101. Oh, and Kate Baker- do you make more than a million a year? You should check the tax plans of both Obama and McCain, there are some good comparisons running around the internet done by third parties that show exactly who would get reduced or increased taxes under each plan.

    I think you might be surprised (unless you make millions…)

  102. I think Kate shows something that seems pretty obvious to me – there are probably a lot of people who are not going to decide who to vote for based on one issue. People are complex like that.

  103. Ahem. Gore won. Meaning he got a plurality of the popular vote. So did Kerry. People in Ohio went to jail for their actions in handling votes.
    These are subjects of which we must never speak. Here’s some others.
    After trillions of dollars have been expended on Defense, there was no defense of our airspace on Sept 11, 2001.
    Yet the USA has more 700 bases all over the world. What do they spend the money on? How many people do we have under arms?
    The Bush administration had warning from numerous sources, yet absolutely failed to protect us against the terrorism attacks. For this they have been credited with protecting us. Since.
    There’s a book called Just How Stupid Are We? I recommend it, as a matter of self-education. But we already know how stupid we are.
    Here’s a joke for you.
    What’s a Republican abortion?
    A bomb falling on pregnant Iraqi women and children.
    There’s a white Christian Republican value for you.

  104. Frank @112, re: candidates losing the Presidential election and never “getting a second chance” . . . um, Adlai Stevenson? For that matter, Grover Cleveland, I believe? And I suspect there may be others that I can’t think of offhand.

    Not trying to be snarky. It’s just that that “it won’t happen because it’s never happened before” formulation (when it has happened) really bothers me.

  105. Nargel @ 117 – I’m an Obama guy, but your remarks on McCain’s shoot-down verge on Swiftboating. You are critisizing a man for actions performed while zipping over Hanoi under fire at 400 or so knots. Unless you’ve got combat experience or at least bomber training, I have to strongly challenge your statement.

    Regarding McCain’s POW experience. He may have squealed, but he was offered and declined (and was punished for so declining) an early return to the US.

    I will agree that he’s played the POW card a lot since his release. However, he is a brave American and doesn’t deserve that kind of post.

  106. # Frankon 05 Sep 2008 at 7:28 am
    low taxes are what people want.

    This is from metafilter.com:

    Income: $2,871,682 or more (top .01% of earners)
    Obama’s Plan: raises income tax 7.9%
    McCain’s Plan: decreases income tax 3.3%

    Income: $603,403-$2,871,682 (top 1%)
    Obama: raises tax 6.1%
    McCain: decreases tax 2.6%

    Income: $226,983-$603,402
    Obama: no change
    McCain: decreases tax 2.4%

    Income: $160,973-$226,982
    Obama: decreases tax 1.4%
    McCain: decreases tax 2.3%

    Income: $111,646-$160,972
    Obama: decreases tax 1.6%
    McCain: decreases tax b1.9%

    Income: $66,355-$111,645
    Obama: decreases tax 1.4%
    McCain: decreases tax 1.1%

    Income: $37,596-$66,354
    Obama: decreases tax 2%
    McCain: decreases tax 0.6%

    Income: $18,982-$37,595
    Obama: decreases tax 3.2%
    McCain: decreases tax 0.4%

    Income: Up to $18,981
    Obama: decreases tax 5.3%
    McCain: decreases tax 0.2%

  107. Chris @ 124
    It is possible that the information I have gotten about the incident may have been wrong and if so I retract my statement and apoligize to any offended by it. My information has it that McCain was on his way out of range when, against radioed orders by his superior, he went back in to eyeball his bomb damage. Remember, he had a long history of discipline problems so thats not so hard to see happening.

    On the POW front, it is against regulations to accept release if _any_ prisoner with a longer time in prison is still captive. McCain knew that and, as the son and grandson of Admirals, knew what he would face if he accepted. He simply bargained for the best conditions for himself that he could get. I am not even challenging him on the bargain he got, simply pointing out that the “refusal” wasn’t such a noble thing as all that.

    My point, badly made though it may be, is simply that I do not see a man who had no accomplishments before becoming a POW, was a sub-par POW (based on his own books) and had an undistinguished post POW career (And then used it to parley his way through life), as a “war hero” in my book.

  108. Nargel at 117-

    I am no expert with first hand knowledge (i.e., I was never tortured), but when I was a young Marine they gave us very basic information as to how to deal with life as a POW. They told us to “squeal” at the first hint of torture. Nobody, despite the movies, holds out under torture. Its only a matter of time before you’re willing to lick your captor’s boots. Save yourself some pain and potentially permanent bodily injury, was the advise, and spill your guts.

    There was a difference of about 30 years between McCain’s training period and mine. Things may have been different in his day. If not, the fact that he tried to resist was exceptional. That they broke him was a matter of course and should not be held against him.

    As to “knowing” what would await him when he returned home if he took early release, you are missing the point. When you are brutalized day in and day out, the fact that you will be scorned by other Navy men would likely pale in many men’s minds in comparison to stopping the pain right now. Whether because he feared the scorn, military discipline issues (which per your own statements never factored into his reasoning, much) or was just a stubborn SOB, McCain found the willpower to endure the pain and keep going. I suspect that most posters to this board, including myself, may have made a different decision in similar circumstances.

    Critique McCain’s politics if you will. But to cast aspersions on his willingness to do his duty, and suffer as a result, is a pretty low blow.

  109. stevem @ 127

    You’re right, things _were_ different in those days. We have training regimens nowdays that incorporate lessons that were learned afterwords but were not a part of training at that time. Judging acts at that time as if they were based under present day expectations and training is as wrong as looking at present day actions under the social standards of decades past.

    I stated earlier that I did not particularly hold his bargains against him. I do admire more those who did uphold then-current standards and expectations. I will also admit that his continual usage of the POW card, as political currency, and the consistant failure to act or speak as though anybody else had ever been in that situation bothers me.

    His typical career of working against veteran’s issues while actively promoting items involving active duty issues and materials issues showed me that his concern for service mambers ended as soon as they left active duty. His active aid in the Congress to push through the Torture Bill and other anti-troop legislation showed me that he was not only willing to cheapen his military experience but that of the other service members, present or past, but that he was eager to cheapen the experiences of his fellow POWs as well. For self declared “nothing but naked ambition”.

    Had he elected to stand without the POW card, had he used his position to ends informed by his POW experience, had he himself shown that he saw it as anything other then a political tool to be used, if necessary, against the very men he suffered with: I might be more willing to see his service as not sullying the service of my father, uncles, greatuncles and cousins.

    I know people who were better, who did better. They set my standards. He does not meet them.

    I hope I have answered your questions. If you have more I will try to answer them.

  110. Nargel @117: So, you feel that forcing people to chose one specific option would produce “more individual choice”?

    Let’s recognize that we are apparently both in favor of eliminating certain choices. You want to eliminate people’s choice to live in a state that allows abortion, while I want to eliminate people’s choice to have abortions. Such is the nature of government: It limits choices.

    Now look at the question you’re really asking: “What effect would overturning Roe have on individual choice?”

    Keeping Roe would prevent anyone from choosing to live in a state without abortion. This affects everyone of majority age.

    Overturning Roe would prevent some pregnant women — those who lived in states that subsequently passed anti-abortion laws — from choosing to have an abortion.

    In terms of sheer numbers, then, overturning Roe would increase choices for a greater number of people than it took choices away from.

    Not that I would ever argue for it on those terms, of course. “Choice” is not the most important basis for law. I am anti-choice on murder, slavery, theft, etc., as well as on abortion. There’s an old saying: “In essential things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.” Protection of human life in utero is, to me, an essential thing, but for the most part I prefer greater choice to less.

    While you come across as an anti-abortion, single issue type (likely due to religious beliefs), I’ll wait for your response on that.

    Respectfully, Nargel, I think you have no basis on which to make your comment about my political and religious beliefs. Would you also like to make guesses about my age, education level, what school(s) I went to, my position at work, my income, where I grew up, where I live now, whether or not I own a gun? Quickly, before you read the rest of this comment, write down your guesses. It might be interesting to compare them to reality.

    Even if Obama were pro-life, I wouldn’t vote for him. There are things that disqualify a person from receiving my vote. Being pro-choice is one of them. Being a socialist is another.

    I am Catholic. I am pro-life. What’s the relationship between those things? Despite your apparent prejudice against pro-lifers and religious people, it’s a lot more complex than you seem to think.

    I have been a “bad” Catholic at points in my life, disagreeing with the Church on contraception, gay marriage, and lots of other things; however, my opposition to abortion has been consistent. A brief window into my thought process: women who want to get pregnant talk about “my baby” from the first moment they become aware of it, but people who want to kill them will substitute accurate-but-clinical terms like “fetus”. People will argue that they don’t know when life begins, but will kill the baby all the way through the second trimester, when so many aspects of the child’s humanity are self-evident. Abortion is one area where there’s disagreement about whether the subject is human, and allow it to be killed instead of giving it the benefit of the doubt. It’s incredible to me.

    If anything, the ratchet has turned the other way around for me. My slow intellectual realization that the Catholic positions are right — a realization that I was led to kicking and screaming, in some cases — have made me accept that its moral teachings are probably right in places that I don’t expect or don’t understand.

    Your turn. But please, remember, I’m interested in your guesses about my demographic profile.

  111. Nargel @117

    And after the last 8ish years (not to mention the evidence of the prior 30), you would seriously claim this is the republican result? Really?

    No. But that was the point wasn’t it?

    McCain was criticizing Republicans in Congress (for the most part) for not living up to their rhetoric: to the basic principles of their party. He was saying (and I’m repeating myself) that he and Palin were going to fix that. And I pointed out, that if enough people believe him he will win, because the majority of voters want smaller government, less taxes, fewer regulations and greater individual freedom.

    Now you mention 8 years, but I count six. Because Democrats got control of Congress precisely because Republicans, in McCains words, stopped changing Washington and instead let Washington change them.

    And for all their promises to change things in Congress, the Democrats did little if anything and managed to get lower marks in public opinion than the people they replaced.

    nobu @120

    Oh, and Kate Baker- do you make more than a million a year?

    The problem is that such polcies as Obama is proposing affects small businesses

    The Tax Policy Center points out that only 1.4% of small-business owners earn more than $250,000 annually, meaning the vast majority would still benefit from the tax cuts. Yet those with more than $250,000 in earnings tend to be high-growth businesses that employ many people, so raising their taxes could stymie that growth, the National Small Business Association’s Todd McCracken says.

    Mary Frances @132

    candidates losing the Presidential election and never “getting a second chance” . . . um, Adlai Stevenson?

    I stand corrected.

    But I do believe in this case, that if Obama loses, Democrats will likely go with Clinton in 2012.

    Not trying to be snarky. It’s just that that “it won’t happen because it’s never happened before” formulation (when it has happened) really bothers me.

    I agree. I try hard to avoid it, but I slip sometimes.

  112. Jake @ 129
    you can have a state that does not allow abortion _in so far as it affects you_ any time you want. What I refuse to see as similar is your ability to, by definition, make the choice for anybody or everybody else.

    Frank @ 130
    I refuse to agree that in a situation that involves a hostile and unlawfully acting president, one democratic Senator or another in a hospital and out of the voting most of that time, Joe Liebertwit voting in lockstep with the republicans and Cheyney breaking ties, that this is anything like a democratic controlled Congress. Nice try, try again.

  113. Nargel, your first statement appears to be either untrue or incoherent, depending on how I try to interpret it.

    And I assume that you are in fact anti-choice on murder, theft, slavery, and so on, so you do want “me” (by which you mean “the government”) to make the choice for other people on those topics. You just don’t want the government to make the choice for other people on this specific topic.

    I’m still interested on your thoughts about my demographic profile. You made a claim: let’s see how good of a guesser you really are.

  114. Keeping Roe would prevent anyone from choosing to live in a state without abortion. This affects everyone of majority age.

    Jake, your main argument equating your position and Nargel’s seems to have a rather one big hole: that leaving in a state that allows abortion has little to no impact on your life, excepting the fat that it forces you to live in a state where you disagree with one more specific law- it doesn’t put you in more personal danger, for example.Living in a state that forbids abortion has a lot of impact on the life of many women, because it forces them to carry to term pregnancies they do not desire, and maybe never have desired, for various reasons.

    Because the effect on your life and the lives of people like you of limiting your own choice is much smaller then the effect on the life of these women of limiting their choice, the two states aren’t equivalent.I would also risk and say that the second limitation is the greater, since it means the state curbs access to a material service, while the first means the state curbs access to a state of mind.

  115. Shall we get into the fact that the GOP decided that they weren’t milking enough from John McCain’s POW status, and decided to use images of the World Trade Center during the collapse of the towers as some sort of hideous propaganda? The idea that those images get to be used as political propaganda is nauseating.

  116. @133: Jake, your main argument equating your position and Nargel’s seems to have a rather one big hole: that leaving in a state that allows abortion has little to no impact on your life

    It would if that were my main argument against abortion. I was simply responding to Nargel’s idea that repealing Roe would reduce choice.

    However, living in a state in which abortion is legal does have an effect on my life. I have children, including a daughter, all of whom are occasionally exposed to things that they shouldn’t. I grew up in New York State and friends of mine had abortions; it led to unhealthy attitudes about sex on the part of the children in my high school, and in some children it led them to the belief that abortions were okay. Some used it as birth control. Being exposed to abortion was detrimental to many people in that school, and I don’t want my children exposed to those things. You tell me that I can’t impose choices on other people, but there is nowhere in the United States I can go to to escape abortion.

    But that’s a relatively minor point. The main point is that “choice” is, and always has been, a secondary basis for law. “Choice” was essentially the argument used by Southerners who invoked “states rights” to prevent the federal government from outlawing slavery. You don’t like slavery? Don’t have slaves! But we need them for our plantations, and eliminating them will take away our livelihood, so you keep your laws off of my land. It was the wrong argument then; it’s the wrong argument now.

  117. It would if that were my main argument against abortion. I was simply responding to Nargel’s idea that repealing Roe would reduce choice.

    And I responded to your response.You have as of yet to show me the holes in my reasoning on that specific instant.

    I have children, including a daughter, all of whom are occasionally exposed to things that they shouldn’t….SNIP….but there is nowhere in the United States I can go to to escape abortion.

    As to your school- when choices are given some people will abuse them, from access to alcohol through abortion to access to guns, and basing your decision only on that fact sounds at best dubious to me.In addition you do not get to prevent other people from having choices in order to keep your children better behaved, nobody does- otherwise people could demand that nobody sell alcohol or portray its use on TV as normative because it causes a lot of teenagers to abuse it.If you could bring me good solid statistical data that showed that when abortion was available the amount of teenagers using them as sole contraceptive, rather then “insurance plan”, and/or that it causes near as many problems as, say, allowing teenagers free access to alcohol, then I might be convinced.

    “Choice” was essentially the argument used by Southerners who invoked “states rights” to prevent the federal government from outlawing slavery. You don’t like slavery? Don’t have slaves! But we need them for our plantations, and eliminating them will take away our livelihood, so you keep your laws off of my land. It was the wrong argument then; it’s the wrong argument now.

    But that was exactly the point of banning slavery, allowing people more choice: slavery consists of one person removing choices of life from other persons, usually for either all their life or most of it, OTOH abortion consists of one person making decisions about her own body.That law was *not* about giving states more choices, it was about giving people more choices.As a matter of fact if you check you read back a bit you yourself sound closer to the southerners here:”You don’t want to forbid abortion?Then don’t!But I think that abortions will cause more teens to get knocked up so keep your law off my land”

    PS.I’m not interested in entering the first/second trimester discussion because I consider that I don’t have enough information to debate it in an informed manner.It also depends on your definition of “human”.

  118. nobu —

    Exactly the kind of fud that’s being spread:

    Palin is Christian and pro-life, but she’s a member of Feminists For Life (FFL), an anti-abortion, pro-contraception organization.

    Hmm.

  119. You are absolutely right Mr. Scalzi, it should not be about abortion, it should be about the substance seen from the two presidential candidates. Which is what makes the support for Obama look so ridiculous to so many.

  120. Sorry, John. Here’s my last post on the topic, and I’m trying to keep it relevant.

    And I responded to your response.You have as of yet to show me the holes in my reasoning on that specific instant.

    My intent was limited: not to “win”, which I think unlikely in this group, but to show that every argument can be framed in terms of choices, and that discussion of “choice” is therefore secondary to other considerations: even rulings that explicitly guarantee rights, like Roe, limit rights as well. Such is the nature of government.

    I am not even trying to win the pro-life case by talking about choices, because that incorrectly frames the question. Arguing against Palin because she’s “pro-choice” carries no water for someone who thinks that abortion is prenatal infanticide.

  121. In the annals of Presidents who lost an election and then came back to run again, don’t forget Nixon. He lost in 1960 to JFK and came back to win in 1968 and 1972.

    -kat

  122. Feminists for Life (FFL), an organization to which Gov. Palin belongs, seems like an interesting group. As quoted from Wikipedia, the FFL is opposed to all abortion, in addtiion to “all forms of violence, considered as “inconsistent with the core feminist principles of justice, nonviolence and nondiscrimination” including the death penalty, assisted suicide, euthanasia, infanticide, and child abuse.”

    Most of the FFL’s stances are pretty hard to dispute. What struck me was that the FFL is opposed to the death penalty. Which immediately raised two thoughts: 1) Does anyone Palin’s view on the death penatly? 2) If she opposes it, like FFL apparently does, then she is remarkably admirably consistent in her positions.

  123. Jake @ 142
    You seem to have a habit of claiming that people are saying the opposite of their actual stances: “Arguing against Palin because she’s ‘pro-choice'” for instance. No, she is anti-choice.

    Again, my point is that arguing for a situation where you have eliminated all other choices but the one you want is not something that “increases choices”.

    This has nothing to do with the pro-birth/pro-choice debate, this is simply about large holes in your argument.

  124. A couple of things, jumping around in the thread. I’m sorry if this is a double post: I tried to post it earlier, but it vanished.

    Oligonicella: Feminists for Life is very specifically NOT pro-contraception.

    From their FAQ’s:

    What is Feminists for Life’s position on contraception?
    Feminists for Life’s mission is to address the unmet needs of women who are pregnant or parenting. Preconception issues including abstinence and contraception are outside of our mission.
    http://tinyurl.com/6ff3ov

    Stevem @ 144: She’s pro death penalty:

    if legislature passed death penalty law, I would sign it. (Nov 2006) – Full Quote:
    If legislature passed death penalty law, I would sign it I support adequate funding for a strong public safety presence in Alaska. Feeling safe in our communities is something we cannot accept any compromise on. This includes policing in all its forms, the court system, prosecutors and corrections. If the legislature passed a death penalty law, I would sign it. We have a right to know that someone who rapes and murders a child or kills an innocent person in a drive by shooting will never be able to do that again. Source: Campaign website,www.palinforgovernor.com, Issues” Nov 7, 2006.

    Stevem, she’s not very consistent at all. Feminists For Life whole platform is helping teenage mother’s keep their babies. They urge them to use food stamps and halfway houses. Palin used her line item veto to cut (by 20%), funding for a program that includes housing for teenage mothers. (This in a year when Alaska has a large budget surplus.)

    She’s against eminent domain seizures, but as Mayor, she used it to seize the land for the Wasilla sports complex, sparking off a nine year lawsuit. She’s against Windfall Oil Taxes, but she pushed through a windfall profits tax in Alaska. Alaska now has the highest taxes on oil production in the world. Hence the large budget surplus.

    Another data point for Frank way up in the thread: there may no longer be any paperwork absolutely confirming Sarah Palin’s membership in the Alaska Independence Party, but there is absolutely no doubt about Todd Palin’s affiliation.

    He was a registered member, according to the Alaska Board of Elections, for seven years, only leaving the party in 2002. In an amazing coincidence, 2002 was the first year that Sarah Palin ran for state-wide office.

    Criminey. Todd Palin’s longest political affiliation is with a looney fringe America hating group, whose leader is buried in Canada because he “refused to be buried under that damned flag!”, and yet the Republicans had Todd on stage cheering him on.

    Utterly surreal. Look at what Michelle Obama went through, and then look at Todd Palin.

    I’m also amused at how the Alaska Independence Party has cleaned up it’s web page. I first went up on their site and read around the very first day it was mentioned that she had ties to them, and had sent their convention a message as governor. At that time, their web page sported the charming phrase “Let ’em freeze in the dark!”. Needless to say, that’s not there anymore.

    Here’s video of the vice chair of the Alaska Independence Party, addressing the 2nd Secessionist Convention (!) in October of 2007. At about 6 minutes into part 1 is where he talks about Sarah Palin being a former member, and how she joined the Republican party when she ran for office, because “to get along you’ve got to go along”. He also mentions that she remains “pretty well sympathetic because of her former membership.”

    At about 8:40 is where he talks about the importance of infiltrating other political parties, just slapping their label on yourself and sneaking into political office that way.

    Part 2 of the video is here:

    At about 2:11 in part 2 he talks about the AIP going into the classrooms in Fairbanks, from High school on down to the grade school, and talking to the kids, and how when they finish their talks the kids all give thumbs up to Alaska, and thumbs down to the United States.

    Amazing, isn’t it.

    Here’s Gov. Palin’s address to the AIP 2008 statewide convention.

    Funny, I haven’t been able to find a similar welcoming address for the Alaskan Democratic Convention this year.

    But, cheer on Republicans! Guns! Moose! Alaska First, Alaska Always!

    “I’m an Alaskan, not an American. I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions.” — Joe Vogler, founder Alaska Independence Party.

  125. Jake @ 129
    RE: my question about where your verbige on the pro-birth/pro-choice came from. You may not be a single issue voter, just seemed rather strongly held. If you look back at the rest of the question, I asked if your stance was based on overwhelmingly religious grounds. What, pray tell, is so upsetting about that? I asked if I was right in my guesses, I didn’t belittle or sneer/snark/whatever about it. Don’t you think your response was a bit over the top?

  126. Indulge one last post. First, my error: I of course meant “because she’s not pro-choice”. I don’t think I’ve misrepresented anyone else. I hope you’ll forgive the occasional typo or dropped word.

    I understand your points perfectly (and AntonGarou’s) — believe me, I’ve heard them before — but the fact that you’re repeating them makes me think that you’re not seeing mine.

  127. Oligonicella @ 139 actually FFL officially takes no position on birth control. They are neither pro nor anti. I can dig up the official policy statement if you want it, but I’m pretty sure it’s already been posted to at least one of these threads.

  128. Jake @ 147
    I understand your point, just don’t see any logic to it.

    Getting back to the original thread. Palin rock star status might drop a bit if the republicans celebrating her hard core, stand up to Putin, maverickiness paid any attention to, among other things, her claim that she fired her police chief as Mayor not for political payback but because “he looked at me mean” and her loud whine about the Obama campaign’s attacks on her family. Note: when that assertation was challenged she couldn’t come up with a single example: http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/09/palin-accuses-o.html
    There ya go, tough as nails “rock star” that has to steal your signature tune from the real rock stars that wrote it.

  129. Nargel @146: To be clear, I wasn’t upset then and I’m not now. If you tell me that you didn’t intend to be snarky, so much the better, but even if you were it’s not like I should waste my energy getting upset at snarky people on the Internet. (My brother has a cartoon pasted to his wall. A woman is in her nightgown, standing behind her husband, who is staring at the computer screen saying, “I can’t go to bed. Someone on the Internet is wrong!” Hilarious.)

    If you look back at the rest of the question, I asked if your stance was based on overwhelmingly religious grounds.

    Well, you didn’t ask. You told me you come across as an anti-abortion, single issue type (likely due to religious beliefs). Since this is a “type”, it’s reasonably likely to be wrong. And I laughed at “likely due to religious beliefs” — how could you possibly know the relationship of my religious beliefs to my political beliefs? That’s clearly just old-fashioned stereotyping: “pro-lifers usually blindly get their beliefs from their churches.”

    So you told me which stereotype you thought I fit, but withheld final judgment. Not exactly asking, but not exactly vicious, either. I wasn’t upset — when I say “respectfully” I mean it literally rather than “you’re a jerk but I’m telling you that politely” like some people do — but if you were going to make that kind of presumption, I thought it would be interesting to see if you had other guesses about me. It would be an interesting view into your biases. (I would also be interested in seeing my own biases, so don’t take that the wrong way.)

    If my response seemed over the top, it’s probably just because I write too much. There was nothing innately over the top about it except perhaps the word count.

  130. Jake
    In the comments above, you stated at least twice that given the chance to move to an anti-choice state you would. No other reason for or against seemed to apply.

    Since I have already tried and failed to find out what you mean by religious-conservative in another thread and the somewhat absolutist stance you were arguing has in my past experience come from a religious basis, I stated that your position seemed -to me- to be based on religious grounds. I then specificly stated I was waiting for your elaboration/correction/etc of what I seemed to be seeing. You responded by a) discussing your Christian personal journey (good on you, no disparagement intended) and b) going on a long rant about how I dare typecast you. Yes, it did seem a bit over the top.

  131. @Jake 110:

    How in the hell does taking away a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion give American’s more choice? This is a contradiction.

  132. Nargel, I think that if you read what I wrote without a snarky tone implied, you’ll see that I didn’t say anything like “how dare you typecast [stereotype, really] me”. I wanted to know what other things you assume based on the stereotype you were employing. The “Christian Personal Journey(TM)” was there to help us get past the stereotype. I’m not aggravated, and if you’re reading that tone in then I apologize for writing in a way that gives you that impression.

    Chris, it’s not a contradiction, but I’ve already discussed that (e.g., @129, “In terms of sheer numbers, then, overturning Roe would increase choices for a greater number of people than it took choices away from.”). People here think that I haven’t fully addressed counterarguments, which is totally true, but I’m not going to because (a) it would take a long time and I doubt I would convince people of its truth anyway, and (b) this isn’t supposed to be an abortion thread.

  133. Chris, welcome to the Republican Party Line.

    The only choices they want you to have are the ones they want you to have, which are the ones they (supposedly) make for themselves.

    If you want to live in a country where you can make a choice for yourself without the benefit of The Bible, you are an America-hating liberal, said with the same venom as the words “Child Molester”.

    What I find so funny is that the Christian stance is that God gives free will, even though He knows the choices you’ll make. I guess free will just isn’t good enough for actual Christians, though, so they have to limit you to making what they consider the “right” choices, which is no choice at all.

    Fascists.

  134. Jake, the point is not that this is about abortion, per se. The point is that your logic is no logic in any way, and fails at the most basic level to be a cogent argument. And if that is how you became a Republican, by listening to those types of circular arguments, then you should not be casting a vote at all, because you are the worst kind of voter – one without the power to understand simple concepts and willing to swallow anything the party feeds him like a little bird eating his mother’s vomit.

    While you can certainly say whatever you like (thanking the troops for protecting the Constitution even while Bush tries to use it as toilet paper), the simple fact that you either intentionally fail to understand your failed argument or you can’t figure out what is wrong with it even though it has been explained repeatedly means you should probably have your voter card revoked, as should anyone else who makes those types of specious claims with any sort of straight face.

    Having an opinion about things like abortion is one thing, but trying to pass off nonsense like “Taking away choice is giving more people choices.” is just an abominable use of free speech.

  135. Jake

    Am I reading you correctly here? (unlikely given our current discussion I admit) Are you saying that giving a relative-nation’s-worth number (x) of people 1 heretofor unavailable choice, to whit a pro-birth only state, provides more people 1 extra choice than a state’s-worth of people (y) are denied (ignoring the multiple number of options denied and the state’s worth at most that can become x)?

  136. I had this huge “discussion” with some of my coworkers a couple of days ago regarding Palin as Veep. It rapidly became quite aerobic as both sides flung accusations and defenses at each other.
    Yesterday I gave them a list of 22 names and asked them to identify even one. They were:
    George Clinton, Elbridge Gerry, Daniel D. Tompkins, Richard Mentor Johnson, George Mifflin Dallas, William Rufus King, John C. Breckinridge, Hannibal Hamlin, Schuyler Colfax, Henry Wilson, William A. Wheeler, Thomas A. Hendricks, Levi P. Morton, Garret A. Hobart, Charles W. Fairbanks, James S. Sherman, Thomas R. Marshall, Charles G. Dawes, Charles Curtis, John Nance Garner, Henry A. Wallace, Alben W. Barkley.
    They had no clue who any of them were.
    Then I gave them a giveaway–J. Danforth Quayle.
    My point to them was: if or when Sara Palin is sworn in as Veep, the odds of her doing anything historically significant are not very favorable. More likely, in twenty years she will be as well remembered as Geraldine Ferraro.

  137. Dave @161

    And of course if it works out that way, it’s all good. But I’m more worried about the fact that Palin might be a John Tyler or a Millard Fillmore or a Chester Arthur. (Not to mention Andrew and Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman, and Teddy Roosevelt.)

    Yeah, most vice presidents are absolutely forgettable. But the mere possibility of ‘President Palin’ makes me wince a little.

    -kat

  138. Kat@162

    I was trying to drive that thought from my mind. Still the odds of her entering post-Veep limbo are pretty good. . . unless someone whacks McBush.

  139. Nargel @159: I’m saying that a federal regulation restricts choice more than n states regulating the same thing, provided that n<50. Yes, even in this case. I’ll do something a little more formal, and address another issue or two, but I’m travelling so I need a day or so.

Comments are closed.