Reality Check

For those who need it:

1. It was Obama who won, not necessarily the Democrats. Which is why, while the Democrats gained in both the House and the Senate, they don’t appear to be having the blow-out additions to their numbers some folks seemed to think would happen (note that at least a couple of Senate races are still in play). Which suggests, to me at least, that rather than the Democrats putting wind into Obama’s sails, they rode on his coattails. I think people who are under the impression the Democrats now have a mandate are misreading what happened yesterday. It’s Obama who has the mandate. The Democrats are along for the ride. Don’t think Obama, at least, isn’t aware of this. Which brings us to:

2. The United States did not become a deep blue paradise overnight. Fox News will not implode. Matt Drudge will not spontaneously combust. Rush Limbaugh will not choke on his own tongue. And aside from all those pleasant images, America is the same essentially purple-y place it was yesterday. If you need proof of that, please to see the results of Proposition 8 in California, which, alas, seems headed for a win, along with amendments and resolutions in other states intended to make sure same-sex marriage is illegal in those places. It would be tempting to imagine that this is a departing knife twist by religious and social conservatives before they start to tear at each other’s intestines (“I can’t have Sarah Palin but at least I can screw the gays”), but that’s delusional thinking. There are more pro-Obama, pro-Prop 8 (and etc) types out there than some folks are ready to admit. Which brings us to:

3. Obama will not give you everything you want, when you want it. Since Obama seems to have this crazy idea that he might want to be president of the whole damn country, I think he’s going to be small-c conservative in his battles, at least the early ones, and will likely stick to the economic issues that got him elected. Anyone who’s observed the man in the campaign who is also not totally high on crazy wing juice (either the right or left vintages) will note that Obama is a man of exceptionally practical strategies; one of those strategies is to lead people to where he wants to go by using the paths they like to go by. Per point 2, this means frustrating people who want to go off the beaten paths. Which brings us to:

4. Your next president is going to disappoint you. Barack Obama does not fart cinnamon-scented rainbows. He is not trailed by angels and unicorns. Reality does not reshape itself to his wishes. Dude’s a human being, and a politician, and he’s going to have to work with other human beings who are also politicians. Per point 2, some things you want him to do he won’t be able to do, and some of the things you want him to do he won’t want to do, so they won’t get done. He will make mistakes. He will make errors. He will be caught flat-footed from time to time. He will be challenged by antagonists, foreign and domestic, who will have an interest in seeing him faceplant. He will piss most people off. His approval rating will drop below 50%. He is going to disappoint you. Get used to the idea.

5. Last night’s election didn’t change the country; it offered a chance for the country to change. Which is something Obama himself pointed out last night, because he’s a smart man like that. He will effect some of that change through the power of the presidency, and through his relationship with Congress, but ultimately what will change things is whether people want change and are willing to work for it. Elections are the easy part, basically. Now comes the work. As the saying goes, you have been offered a country, if you can keep it. It’s up to you more than it’s up to your next president.

224 Comments on “Reality Check”

  1. “There are more pro-Obama, anti-Prop 8 (and etc) types out there than some folks are ready to admit. ”

    Obama is anti-prop 8. Folks don’t like to consider that little gem.

  2. No. Obama explicitly said he would have voted “no” on 8.

    Obama is also on record saying he believe marriage is between a man and a woman. But he also apparently also believes that rights, once given, should not be taken away.

    [edited to add: I may have been misinterpreting what was said in the comment above due to my own bad wording in the article, now fixed. Apologies if so.]

  3. All practical points. Natives of the Magical Fairy-Pony Kingdom are ineligible to run for election as POTUS, alas. And unfortunately, close as it sometimes is to Cloud Cuckoo Land, California is not populated by Magical Fairy-Pony Kingdom expatriates, so Prop Eight looks set to pass. I have gay friends in California, so this is a bit of a drag.

  4. John, stop being so damned eloquent. I’m not a writer, so all I can do is keep pointing people here and saying “See, that’s what I think.”

    I think he was trying to set expectations with his acceptance speech, but it is unlikely the nuts on either wing will hear it. We do have a lot of work ahead, but at least we have someone who seems willing to lead us through it.

    On McCain’s concession speech: Where was this guy two months ago? I think it would have been much closer at the end if his campaign had talked more about the need to work together rather than going on the attack.

  5. Don’t you mean “pro Prop-8”? – it’s confusing when you’re saying YES to a proposition about a negation.

    The take-away from tonight is that some purply people will say “YES WE CAN take away other people’s rights.”

    I’m not sure if it’s come up in the comments thread here before, but this interesting link showed up on Charlie Stross’s Prop 8 thread:

  6. Well, like I have been telling people, yesterday I voted for whoever will be running in 2012. Too much of the world needs to be fixed for anyone to be able to implement sweeping changes right now. But with Obama in the White House we are much more likely to have good people to choose from in four years. Hopefully Obama will be one of them.

  7. Mike:

    “Don’t you mean “pro Prop-8″? – it’s confusing when you’re saying YES to a proposition about a negation.”

    You’re right — I’ll fix it.

  8. So all my gun enthusiast friends are all like, “OH noes! He’s gonna take all our guns away!!”

    Along the same mentality with the Prop8 issue, do you think he would work to remove those specific rights of citizens inherantly given by our founding fathers?

    He was quoted as saying that he would leave the issue up to states to decide. Just curious as to what you may think may happen.

  9. Well one thing I did catch last night were some comments by Obama’s foreign affairs advisor in London.

    Apparently one of his first actions will be to ask more more troops from the UK for Afghanistan, which was interesting. This implies a recognition of a number of realities that Bush utterly ignored, unnecessarily turning the region into a hornet’s nest (hint: Pakistan is a member of the Commonwealth which has implications for cross-border operations).

    John’s quite right – this will piss off more than a few people as the US asks for a greater commitment from it’s allies to the region when there are quite enough troops deployed there already. (OTOH to sort out the mess, this is to my mind necessary and because it’s Afghanistan rather than Iraq might float).

    It’s not going to be all sweetness and light – but at least it looks like he’ll be out to get the job done rather than milk the mess for all he can.

  10. I voted for McCain and would do so again.

    Nevertheless, I really, really hope Obama proves me completely wrong on everything and that my friends can mock me forever about my doomsaying. He’ll be my President and I really, truly hope he succeeds.

  11. I can’t believe Ted Stevens may actually be re-elected. Apparently Alaskan voters stay bought.

  12. Last night was an exciting end to a great race, but miracles happening overnight are Hollywood’s domain only.

    But now at least there is the hope for a change, even if it comes slowly. In fact, let it come slowly, it’ll last longer.

    For my first foray on your blog last night (guided there by jbpiggy, a friend of mine), it was decidedly very exciting and welcoming, so thank you ;).

  13. John,

    This post is the reason I subscribe to your feed. I don’t see eye-to-eye with you on almost anything, but I like to feed my brain a well-balanced diet and your books are entertaining. I’m glad you’ll be able to get some work done.

    Congrats to those who voted for Obama. I’m praying for his strength, wisdom, and protection.

  14. I said in this blog that a black man could not be elected POTUS. I was totally wrong and at least my cynicism has changed.

  15. After reading dozens of “the long nightmare is over/dawn of a new day” type posts, this is a refreshing breath of honest fresh air reality. Thanks for posting it, so I don’t have to.

  16. He is going to disappoint you. Get used to the idea.

    An excellent and timely observation, John. Obama is facing an incredible challenge thanks to Greenspan and Bernanke; while I think he’ll probably fail in a spectacular manner, McCain DEFINITELY would have. But regardless, the core left should probably brace itself for the sort of treatment Bush provided the his right-wing base for the last eight years.

    (And yes, I cheerfully admit that my expectation of an upset was wrong. My five-percent rule held up, but the problem was that the five percent got subtracted from 10, not from four. The story of this election looks as if it may have been more about those who didn’t turn out for McCain rather than those who did turn out for Obama.)

    In any event, congratulations to John and the other Democrats on the sweep of the House, Senate, and Cherry Blossom Throne. I sincerely hope America will benefit more from the next 4-8 years of Democratic rule than it has from the last eight years of Republican domination.

  17. Thoughtful and understated, and unlikely to crash in on peoples’ giddiness over a Democratic victory. Well done. I hope the loyalists bookmark it, and pull it out from time to time, particularly during moments of outrage when they discover President Obama governing a good deal more moderately than they expected.

    President Obama. It does roll off the tongue nicely.

    My expectation is that an Obama administration will be able to move beyond the immediate crises such as the banks and credit markets, health care and the wars, so that we can work on the longer-term matters such as realigning our industrial base, putting capital to work (the natural outgrowth of redistributing the wealth), reenergizing science and technology, reclaiming our reputation overseas and promoting environmental stewardship. I just hope that we have the time to accomplish all of these things. I’m not sure a lot of people recognize how quickly the change needs to occur. I just keep thinking about James Lovelock’s pronouncements that we’ve probably already screwed ourselves with climate change.

  18. Congratulations to President-elect Obama and to his supporters. I am not a US citizen but I’m happy that Obama won–the prospect of Palin in the White House gives me shivers, SNL skits notwithstanding.

    I have a feeling that Obama will get positive vibes from the rest of the world (us folks) because(a) he’s not Dubya and (b) he seems to be able to reach out to people and make them identify with his message.

  19. “It’s Obama who has the mandate.”

    Excuse me, but 52% of the the vote hardly constitutes a “mandate”. Further, when you add in the number of eligible voters who didn’t vote at all, Obama was chosen by less than half of those able to make a choice. Now, I didn’t have a dog in this hunt, so I’m happy for Obama supporters that their candidate won. But the reality is that Obama is not meaningfully more representative of the country today than was Bush in 2000.

  20. I really just want to say ‘duh’, but unfortunately, I know people who actually need to read this because for them, these words aren’t ‘duh’ material.

    I was a Hilary supporter, and I think Obama is about to get a very hard lesson in DC politics that he’s missed since the majority of his senate term, he’s been working on winning the election he won last night. Fortunately, as you point out, he is a smart guy, and I think he’s aware of the fact that he’s not as up as he needs to be in that area. I’m glad he won. I’m shocked he actually took Virginia. We haven’t carried a Democrat in 44 years, and a black guy to boot? I figured he was doomed, polls be damned.

  21. Matthew:

    “But the reality is that Obama is not meaningfully more representative of the country today than was Bush in 2000.”

    And thus Matthew gets the award for the stupidest thing said early in the thread. If you can’t parse the difference between Bush winning 47.9% of the vote, losing the popular vote and having to have the Supreme Court intervene to be put into the White House, and Barack Obama winning 52% of the vote and a 2:1 victory in the electoral college, and 11 million more votes than Bush in 2000, there’s no hope for you. His winning percentage is also the largest in 20 years. He can claim a mandate just fine.

    Also, of course: People who don’t vote don’t get to bitch about their president not being “representative” of them. Voting’s a pretty simple thing.

  22. Is it just me, or was Obama’s speech (and McCain’s concession speech, for that matter) a slap at Bush’s “You’re either for us or against us” line?

    Yes. Yes. I do believe it was.

  23. I think there is one drastic change in the vast purplish nature of the country.
    The Democrats are being led by somebody they like, and the Republicans are sort of looking around the room for whose supposed to be in charge. That’ll make a big difference in what gets done in the immediate future. The unled Democrats didn’t stand up to Bush even when they got a mandate specifically to do so…

  24. Thank you, John, for this fantastic introduction to your blog — this being the first of your articles that I’ve ever read.

    I sincerely hope that Obama does “disappoint” us — at least in the sense you’re talking about — because it means he’s looking out for the best interests of the country, and not whatever faction/interest he might have allied himself with at the moment.

    That he doesn’t disappoint us in this way would be the real disappointment. I just hope that his image of farting “cinnamon-scented rainbows” carries his popularity rating long enough for him to to be effective. One of the amazing things about him seems to be not that he’s in a position of power that can change the country — you’re right that we’re the ones who will be doing the work — but that he genuinely inspires people to get things done.

    I know he has for me. I haven’t been interested in politics or the welfare of the country for several years now, and that says a lot.

    Thank you again for the excellent post!

  25. John, me too, really. You didn’t say anything I haven’t thought. But I was hoping for a brief delusionary state before reality kicked in, where I truly believed that the economy would improve, we’d solve the world’s energy and environmental problems, the US would get national health care, my government lab would receive enough money to actually do its research, and there would be rainbows and unicorns.

  26. John thanks for saying all the things I was thinking. Obviously he’s got several huge messes to clean up and I was glad he acknolweged it wouldn’t all get done in 1 year or even 4. But I am so glad we finally have a man of intelligence and integrity to lead this country out of the mess that was created largely by short sighted, ignorant and dishonest men.

  27. “the difference between Bush winning 47.9% of the vote … and Barack Obama winning 52%”

    … is 4%. That’s within the margin of error of most polling. That’s a mandate? Someone buy this man some statistics training.

    “losing the popular vote and having to have the Supreme Court intervene to be put into the White House”

    You made this silly claim back in 2000, and I called you on it. You got pretty pissed off. The Supreme Court made a ruling on a recount. It did no such thing as put Bush into the White House. Conflating the two is childish and intellectually dishonest.

    “a 2:1 victory in the electoral college”

    Oh, the irony. Are Democrats now lauding the electoral machination they so vigorously decried eight years ago? That is really sad, and hypocritical. The electoral college is not an indication of Obama’s representation of this country. It is a statistical quirk of a flawed electoral system. You know this. You’ve said it yourself. Now you’re being ridiculous, and a hypocrite.

    “His winning percentage is also the largest in 20 years.”

    Like that matters? That a president can’t, in 20 years, summon more than a few percentage point margin reveals how deeply divided this country is, further evidence that Obama does not represent a mandate-giving portion of the population. How is this difficult?

    “And thus Matthew gets the award for the stupidest thing said early in the thread.”

    Really, the fanboyism is pathetic. When is your post-coital glow going to subside so you can get back to a modicum of rationality?

    And, because it will probably need to be said: no, no, and no again, I did not support John McCain, or any of the other candidates on the ballot for President. And yes, I *did* vote.

  28. VD @# 24: “My five-percent rule held up, but the problem was that the five percent got subtracted from 10, not from four.”

    Running numbers on some key states, comparing’s “Projection” with the results as of 8:47 AM EST 11/5:

    OH: Projection O +3.4, Actual O +4.2
    VA: Projection O +5.7, Actual O +4.5
    PA: Projection O +8.1, Actual O +10.4
    NC: Projection O +1.0, Actual O +0.3
    FL: Projection O +1.7, Actual O +2.5
    CO: Projection O +6.6, Actual O +6.7

    All within the margin of error (+/- 3 for all states); Obama overperformed the projection in 3 states, underperformed in 2, and was basically right on in one.

    I don’t see any support at all for a belief that the polls were overstating Obama’s support by five points. Sure, you can cherry-pick — CNN had Obama +9 in their last poll in VA (10/26), LA Times had Obama +7 in their last poll in FL (also 10/26); but then, so could I: Rasumussen had McCain +1 in Florida as late as 11/2, Mason-Dixon had McCain +3 in Florida as late as 10/30.

    I suspect Nate will have a post up on his site some time today that shows how his projections did against the actual results, because that’s the sabermetrical thing to do. If he doesn’t, I’m sufficiently curious I’ll probably update the spreadsheet I cobbled together for this post for all 51 electoral entities. But my first take on it is that the collective wisdom of the polls was pretty on-target.

  29. Re: Paul @ 22.

    Well, I wrote a sappy dawn of a new day post, while explicitly acknowledging the reality of the situation. I suppose it’s just because my future outlook for America has been so bad for the past eight years that even post reality check and Prop 8 results, I still feel warm and fuzzy. I suppose that it helps that it wasn’t really a reality check for me anyway, I never thought I was voting for the Chosen One who would swing in with a magic wand and make the country into my own personal happy dream land (with free cake). I was voting for someone whose political stance aligned more closely with mine than McCain, and who I think is at least willing to try.

    Sometimes, the nice thing about being a pessimist is that even if you only get your way a little bit, you’re still shocked enough to be happy about it. ;)

  30. I’d quibble a bit with the “election not about the Democrats.” I think this year was largely about Obama, but I’d suggest that the 2006-2008 cycle was the Democratic Party (per Howard Dean and the 50 state strategy) reasserting itself as a national party. In those two elections, they’ve picked up (at least) 10 Senate seats, and (at least) 50 House seats. That’s a party effort, and a party result.

  31. Kate @ 14: This is what the NRA says of every democrat, and every insufficiently right-wing republican, who ever runs. “If he wins he will take away your guns!!” It’s like the fanatics on the other side who say, “The republicans have a secret plan to end social security!!” Ignore both of them.

    stretch @ 17: Or, far more likely, the people of Alaska (or at least a majority of thise who bothered to vote) like him. And their opinions are the only ones that count. He is, after all, their senator.

    Matthew @ 28: The president is not a representative. He is not supposed to be. He is an executive. Unless you have a country full of dumbass sheep, it is impossible for one person to represent all of them. The representatives are in congress.

  32. One really significant thing to keep in mind. You can win the Electoral College and the popular vote by pwning in your base states and not doing too badly in the others. Obama didn’t win that way.

    To win as many electoral votes as he did with a nice but modest margin in the popular vote means that he won by that nice but modest margin in a lot of states. He got that nice but modest margin in eight of the nine nations of North America (omitting only Quebec). Today, he has all the dogs pulling the sledge in the same direction. It’s not magic sparkle dust, but it does give him a different starting toolbox than any president in my lifetime has had.

  33. Matthew:

    “… is 4%. That’s within the margin of error of most polling.”

    One, that 4% was the difference between one candidate not getting the plurality of the popular vote and the other getting an absolute majority. It’s not the size of the difference but the effect of the difference that allows one to claim a mandate and not the other.

    Two, you apparently don’t know the difference between polling and actual recorded vote totals.

    I’m aware you wrote more after this first bit, but inasmuch as this first bit was so chock-a-block with stupid, I didn’t bother to read the rest, for fear that additional stupid would infect me and cause me to take to my bed for the rest of the day. If you wish me to read further in future postings, please don’t front-load your stupid like this.

  34. Well said, John.

    My post was sappy-ish, but also acknowledges the realities you list here. I’ll think about all of that–particularly the part in which we’ve elected not only the smartest, most competent candidate, and a black man to boot, but also one that is far more centrist than I personally would prefer in a candidate–tomorrow. Today I’m being cautiously hopeful.

    My biggest hope is that we end up with an administration that values, in its myriad appointments, competence, intelligence, and expertise. I would like, say, experts in women’s health to be appointed to task forces on women’s health. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I hope not, anyway.

    In his speech, he said he’d listen. My letter about appointments and staffing goes out Monday.

  35. See, it’s not just one-off stupidity that is needed to carry the day, but an ongoing, sustained level of stupidity.

    ‘“the difference between Bush winning 47.9% of the vote … and Barack Obama winning 52%”

    … is 4%. That’s within the margin of error of most polling.’

    Here’s the deal, though: We’re not talking about a poll. The 52% popular vote is a sample of 100% of voters, which by definition has a margin of error of 0. (OK, if you want to get picky it’s actually about 0.01% or thereabouts.)

  36. The first thing my former (American) roommate told me last night was: “Dude, we have a black president, now. You missed out!”

    To which I replied: “Technically I’d already voted for him two weeks ago, and those things he promised you are the same things I have already, where I live. Like socialized medicine.”

    (I forgot to add domestic energy production, gay marriage, banking policies that haven’t led to record foreclosures…)

    My point here isn’t to gloat (much) but to remind people that the things Americans were promised are the same things that plenty of other countries already have. To my mind, that only proves that they were a long time coming. Canada isn’t perfect, but there are things we take for granted here that are still being fought over elsewhere. I am inexpressibly grateful to Obama for renewing my hope for America. But I’m even more excited, I think, about what this means where I live — because I fully expect the Liberals to let Justin Trudeau off the leash, now.

  37. “Two, you apparently don’t know the difference between polling and actual recorded vote totals.”

    Reading comprehension is a wonderful thing. Yes, I certainly understand the difference between speculative polling and elections. You’ve clearly predisposed your mind to considering anything said by someone not so flushed with glee as yourself “stupid”. If you were to apply your usually insightful mind to this, you’d likely realize that I was making a clear point about the statistical smallness of 4%, not equating a poll to an election. I, myself, was aware that you might fail to spot this easy distinction when I wrote what I wrote. Fears confirmed. I’ll leave you to your emotions.

  38. “Last night’s election didn’t change the country; it offered a chance for the country to change.”

    So very true. Things do not become the best by mandate, they become the best – and stay that way – through constant self-criticism and dilligent work to improve matters. Having the ability to say “This bit’s wonky, needs to be altered” is an essential part of that, and I think that latitude is possibly the most important thing to come of this election.

  39. Congratulations to Senator Obama on his victory. May his tenure in the White House last four years, not less (and not more) and may he be successful at dealing with the economy and issues we as Americans face together.

    Is there an actual quantity to “landslide” or “mandate” out there?

  40. Matthew:

    “If you were to apply your usually insightful mind to this, you’d likely realize that I was making a clear point about the statistical smallness of 4%, not equating a poll to an election.”

    Which is to say, you were making an absolutely irrelevant and useless comparison to bolster an already bad argument regarding a point you’re clearly wrong about?

    Why, that’s even more stupid!

    Matthew, I’m afraid you’ve used up all your stupid points for this thread. You’re not allowed to post in it anymore. Go find something else to fumble with, please.


    Personally, I think an absolute majority of the popular vote + a clear and substantial electoral vote victory is a pretty good indication of a mandate. “Landslide” is fuzzier. Personally I think a 400+ Electoral Vote constitutes a landslide. I’ve heard people discuss last night as a landslide, but I don’t think it rates that.

  41. There have been nine presidential elections (prior to 2008) since WW2 where a non-incumbent won, either unseating an incumbent or following a two-term incumbent.

    In seven of those nine elections, the winner had a smaller popular vote percentage than the 52% being projected for Obama. The only two elections where the non-incumbent winner had a higher popular vote total were Bush ’88 and Eisenhower ’52.

    Sounds pretty meaningful to me.

  42. “Last night’s election didn’t change the country; it offered a chance for the country to change.”

    Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Here’s hoping we’re up to the challenge!

  43. Good reminders, all. I’ll link to this, and probably print it out to hang on my wall.

    “On McCain’s concession speech: Where was this guy two months ago?” I completely agree. Politics aside, McCain came off as an honorable person. I put a lot of stock in that.

  44. DG Lewis: In seven of those nine elections, the winner had a smaller popular vote percentage than the 52% being projected for Obama. The only two elections where the non-incumbent winner had a higher popular vote total were Bush ‘88 and Eisenhower ‘52.

    And Bush ’88 doesn’t really count since the country was simply voting for Reagan’s ‘third term’…

    Also worth noting that Reagan ’80 did not hit 52% (he only got 50.7%) of the popular vote, but his win is considered a landslide due to his 489-49 electoral college win. So yes, Obama has a mandate.

    He also has both houses of congress controlled by his party. Let’s see what he does with it…

  45. Somewhere earlier in this Election, Gail Collins from the NYT hit it best when she said that Obama was “anti-stupid” as his ideology. Which is to say he will take practical approaches to solve problems.

    This is nearly guaranteed to piss large percentages of the American people off for one reason or another and ties in well to you points 3 and 4 above.

    I, like many, have high hopes. Made all the higher by the deep, dank, dark pit that we’ve enjoyed these past eight years. So, despite the fact that I completely agree with and share your reality check — I remain sufficiently giddy about the prospects.

    Hope is a good thing.

  46. I think both McCain and Obama made this point in their speeches last night. (Why is it that McCain’s concession speech struck me as the most eloquent speech he made all cycle?)

    We have a lot of hard work ahead of us. Those of us who went into this with our eyes open knew that already. The election did not change the fact that our country is in deep economic trouble.

    But I think it is important to note that both McCain and Obama pointed this out. We have to come together, and it’s going to be a lot of hard work.

    But I think both McCain and Obama believe that we, the American people, are up to the work it is going to take.

    Thank you for helping us to remember that John.

  47. Okay, I have learned something.

    I was whinging last week about how long it takes you guys to vote, as opposed to my incredibly short jaunt to vote. With a pencil. don’t forget the pencil.

    but it seems that lining up to vote, that bit of inconvenience that I think is mad, is almost like a ceremony acknowledging that democracy is a fight that’s never over.

    also, people don’t pour into the streets and celebrate elections. they don’t. that’s reserved for whoever won the sports team trophy of whatever, and it only happens in that one town (okay, across canada if the jays win the world series.)

    so pardon me if I am astounded and *delighted* by impromptu celebrations across the country last night. I think that part is just, just wonderful.

  48. John @55

    Living in Ohio, I find the electoral college to be less of an indicator. All the electoral college votes go to the winner, who, in the latest figure I saw, only got 54% of the popular vote of the state. I don’t think I’d call that a mandate.

    I see “landslide” bandied about a lot today, but after seeing Reagan taking 49 states from Mondale, perhaps my perspective is skewed.

    Has there been any announcement about the percentage of eligible voters who voted?

  49. Regarding point 4, I was at an Obama press rally a while back and noticed a high incidence of leprechauns with a distinctly “Big Red” odor about them. Can’t vouch specifically for the unicorns, but let’s just say no one’s shoes were clean by the end of the day either. ‘Course, that could’ve been the angels. Dirty little bastards. No sense of hygiene really.

  50. I told a couple of staunch Republicans to vote for Obama because the next 4 years are gonna suck no matter who is in the White House, and they’ll need someone to blame… I guess it worked ;-)

  51. I have to say — I’m a little peeved at the way you started point #2.

    As a writer, I’d think you would be all about freedom or speech and free expression, whether that’s right or left leaning. I don’t think the idea of Fox News imploding, Rush choking on his own tongue or Drudge spontaneously combusting are pleasant ones.

  52. Madeleine @ 51:

    “But I’m even more excited, I think, about what this means where I live — because I fully expect the Liberals to let Justin Trudeau off the leash, now.”

    Yes pls, I can has?

    because we need a little bit of that “Just Society” attitude again, we honestly do. I’m really tired of curling my lip in distaste over harper – and voting for parties that will never get elected in a hundred years because *all my choices suck.*

    no lie. I vote. every federal election. since I have been old enough to vote, twenty one years ago. I vote. i’ve been on a mad streak, the last three elections I voted green. but I voted for the Natural Law party (GO DOUG HENNING!) and I have voted Rhino and I have voted Communist – because my choices have SUCKED. and i figure it’s better to vote subversively when the other choice is not voting at all.

  53. A person who lived through the collapse of the soviet union once pointed out that in America, the only relevant political parties are the Capitalist party and the Capitalist party. Democrats and Republicans disagree on a handful of very minor issues, despite all the media trumpeting about one being “left” and one being “right.” The Democrats will still pass legislation that favours big businesses, just a different group of businesses. No president since the 1950s has served an entire term without engaging America in some foreign conflict. The use of signals intelligence operations to spy on foreign businesses and pass along their trade secrets to US businesses has occurred during both the Clinton and Bush administrations, and during both Democrat and Republican control of Congress.

    If America wanted serious change, change that was not just superficial, then one of the third party candidates would have one.

    At the very least, it is a good thing that the neoconservative movement appears to have weakened a bit in this election. Do not confuse neoconservative and Republican — while most neocons are Republicans, most Republicans are not neoconservative and many Republicans found the neoconservatives to be embarrassing.

  54. Pete:

    I’m not aware of how hyperbole suggests I am against free speech. Please explain this to me.


    “Do not confuse neoconservative and Republican — while most neocons are Republicans, most Republicans are not neoconservative and many Republicans found the neoconservatives to be embarrassing.”

    I agree they find them embarrassing now. But they did vote for them twice.

  55. This is the best post game commentary on this election I’ve read so far.

    I’m happy for the turnout. I’m really afraid of the crash when all the newly politically active realize that Obama can’t snap his fingers and change things overnight and politics is still involves the art of give and take and seeing the world in gray instead of black and white.

  56. Jon, I’ve enjoyed your novels, even if I disagree with your political views. I voted for McCain here in Florida, but since I’m not a theocon, I voted against Amendment 2, the one that defined marriage as “one man, one woman.” I personally could not care less what people choose to do in there private lives, as long as they pay their taxes and don’t scare the horses. Still, it seems ironic that it is the black voters in California (who are running 70-30 in favor of Prop 8) who are likely to be the decisive factor. Both blacks and gays are reliably constituencies for the Democrats, and yet it’s the black voters who are raining on the gay voters’ parade. There are going to be some sharp elbows and sharp knives as the Dems fight over the spoils of victory.

  57. ”I can’t have Sarah Palin but at least I can screw the gays”

    I’m pretty sure they don’t want to screw gays. Or gays to screw each other for that matter.

  58. JustMe:

    “I’m pretty sure they don’t want to screw gays.”

    Larry Craig and Ted Haggard, for two, might wish to disagree. Privately, at least.


    No worries.

  59. Re. Prop 8.

    I live in California and have been saying for weeks that if Prop 8 passes (and it probably has) then we should try and get our own ammendment on the next ballot. Something on the order of “Marriage is defined as the union of a red head and a Cuban cabana singer.” .

    My thought was that if Prop 8 passed there would be enough upset people to get one or more initiatives on the next ballot redefining marriage in ways to make the rest of California think on what we did.

    Anyone want to sign a petition? We will need about 700K signatures of registered voters in CA.


  60. Cassie @# 66: You can’t really compare Reagan ’84 to Obama ’08; Reagan was an incumbent. But look at Reagan ’80, generally also considered a “landslide” (489 EVs, winning every state except for RI, MD, WV, and the home states of the Dem candidates, MN and GA) – he barely eked out a majority, with 50.75% of the popular vote.

    One thing I think a lot of people don’t get is that the popular vote margin in presidential elections usually isn’t all that big (as evidenced by a commenter yesterday who predicted 2/3 of the popular vote going to Obama). The largest popular vote percentage ever was LBJ ’64, with 61.1%. In only four elections has the winner ever cracked 60%.

  61. John,

    Forgot to mention, liked your post and now your on my bookmark list for morning readings. Please don’t disappoint!

    Republican base get what was coming, looking back I clearly wish Mccain would have been voted 2000 Republican nominee. 10 years ago I wouldn’t have been worried about his age and also he seemed more spirited if that is at all possible.

  62. It’s worth pointing out that although there are around 300 million people in this country, around 25% of them are under 18 (and cannot vote) and around 20 million are voting-age non citizens.

    Now, some of the latter (and probably a handful of the former) will manage to vote anyway, but for all the complaints about so few people voting, the voting-eligible population is just over 200 million, not just over 300 million, so the near 120 million votes cast isn’t as low as it sounds.

  63. “see the results of Proposition 8 in California”

    As a former Republican that went Independent since Perot’s run in 92 and stayed that way…my biggest fear is that the Republicans will see the success of votes such as Prop 8 and head toward taking social issues as their bread and butter (even more so than now). Ugh. Combine that thought with the probably Ted Stevens win in Alaska and it’s very clear that barring an Obama like personality, the Republicans are headed off into the abyss.

  64. There is a large bit of work to be done.
    I think we’re ready.

    President Obama is not going to disappoint me. Why, because I heard what I needed to hear in his acceptance speech last night. That the task ahead is not easy, that change doesn’t happen in a day and all of us are going to have to pitch in to make it work. I knew that going in, he confirmed it, the little differences in interpretation of how to do it don’t worry me.

    When I read yesterday about the lines at polling places being a shared tribulation and how people were so happy to be stuck in a line in the first place, I teared up. I’m serious, 50 year old, Navy veteran, teared up. The reason I joined the military in the first place was to defend the United States and our freedoms including the right to vote, not to shoot at people. Yesterday validated my reason for service.

    Thank you all for voting.

    When I saw the tears on Jesse Jackson’s face last night, I sobbed. Last night validated a whole section of the countries reason for service and sacrifice.

    Thank you again for voting.

    Yesterday was the most emotionally draining and emotionally satisfying Election day in my life. No other election in my memory affected me this strongly. I saw the whole country get off of the Apathy Bandwagon and join in the process.

    Thank you all three times for voting.

    As I commented in an earlier thread:

    Let’s get to work.

  65. Pragmatic, with a hint of douche IMO. I guess I came looking for the joy that seems due after our country did the right thing for once.

  66. @ Madeline #51, cpolk @ 71

    I’ve been saying this stuff for years. Unfortunately, I really don’t know if Obama represents the kind of systematic change that I personally feel American politics and society need.

    It’s nice to have the Republicans out, but I still can’t get excited about the idea of the Democrats being in. Or Obama, for that matter…

  67. Pete 69: I don’t think the idea of Fox News imploding, Rush choking on his own tongue or Drudge spontaneously combusting are pleasant ones.

    Wow, I sure do. I generally hope evil people will either reform or get what’s coming to them, and it’s always best when the vengeance is supernatural, because otherwise we have to punish the perp for the good of society.

    I don’t think it’s OK to blow up Faux News, choke Rush to death, set Drudge on fire, or advocate doing any of those things, but I wouldn’t shed a single tear at the demise of any of them. And since Faux News is a company, not a person, I can even do the Happy Dog Dance when they (insh’allah, gods willing, so mote it be) go down. And all of their people going out of work? Serves the bastards right.

    Trevin 81: How about just a slight revision to the amendment in Prop 8? “Marriage shall be defined as a union between one man and one woman of the same race.” Or even “…between one white man and one white woman.” That would show the 70% of black voters Clyde cites at 76* what they’ve done.

    It wouldn’t pass…geez, I hope not. But since half of all California voters are narrowminded bigoted assholes of one type or another (as the overall Prop 8 numbers prove beyond doubt), it might. So maybe not. Don’t do it. But I have to admit I’d eat shadenfreude pie while watching California’s African American community realizing to their horror that there was a proposition out there to invalidate all their marriages! And if Prop 8 is legal, so is that one.

    *I don’t know if this is accurate. The rest of my comment is only valid if it is.

  68. Your next president is going to disappoint you.

    I know that there will be decisions Obama makes that will disappoint me. It’s certainly bound to happen from time to time.

    The big difference is knowing that he is much more likely than our current pResident to have listened to both sides of the argument and reached an informed, intelligent decision on the issue at hand, and that his decision will be based on what he believes is best for the country rather than what will make his supporters happier or his cronies wealthier.

  69. John, have you started laying ink for one of the political rags? Because if not, you probably should.

    Also, I do have a question that I’m sure you can provide some insight on: under the new Administration, will there be Baconnaise?

  70. I am expecting that the White Supremacists that Sarah Palin unleashed in the last month are going to be feeling like they can behave in ways they’ve been disinclined to under “their” president. It could get ugly, and soon.

  71. Sam @98: So far nobody’s even into the running for establishing the Second Empire of America (and Protectorate of Mexico). Emperor Norton reigns supreme!

  72. Actually…a better strategy: one proposition repealing Prop 8, and another amending the state constitution so that amendments to the state constitution require a 2/3 vote to pass. Or even a 2/3 vote of the legislature AND a 2/3 vote of the populace, though that would be harder to pass.

    At least until the next election, though, California has joined the list of states ruled by hate. That’s really a sad and terrible thing.

  73. As for Baconnaise — how can it taste like bacon, have all natural ingredients, and be vegetarian friendly? You would think that it could be any two of those things, but not all three…

  74. More to Jeff @87:

    One of the things that I see in the aftermath is a lot of talk about how the GOP lost big due to the abandonment of its economic conservatism.

    But I have yet to see much written about whether the GOP’s social conservatism had as much to with their failures this election cycle. Can the GOP begin the road to recovery without being able ask that question?

    My personal hope is that the socially conservative portion of the GOP will break off and thereby leaving a fiscally conservative but more socially moderate party in its wake. That, to me, is the road to recovery for the GOP.

  75. I am still pretty concerned about who voted for Prop 8. Sure, you can blame much of it on right wingers, but, as John pointed out, a lot of people who supported Obama also voted to abolish legal gay marriages. 61% of California voters supported Obama and 52% supported prop 8. Even if all McCain supporters voted for Prop 8, that leaves a large percentage coming from Obama voters.

    I think we need to take a look inward at the bigotry within our own party before simply trying to blame all the world’s ills on Republicans.

  76. Fletcher @ 97: It is at least a small comfort that should I ever become mentally insane and move to California that I would be able to marry someone named Kevin under Prop 32!

    Furthermore on the Prop8 subject: I find it very ironic that the same people who decided farm animals deserve better treatment couldn’t find it in their hearts to treat humans with the same compassion.


    P.S. Anyone named Kevin…call me! ;)

  77. Is there anyone more relieved (and probably feeling slightly less tired) than Justice John Paul Stevens right now? The man is 88; he’s served his country well for 33 years on the Supreme Court. While the justice Obama points to replace him may disappoint in terms of how liberal he or she is, Stevens no longer has to envision trying to stay on the bench until he’s 93. That’s something for which to be thankful!

  78. John,
    Nice post, I agree Obama has his work cut out for him and probably will not be able to carry out on everything he promised.

    However it was refreshing to see the world reaction to his win. People in Kenya waving American flags…When was the last time they waved American flags in Africa instead of burning them…


  79. DG Lewis @ 84

    Thank you, I didn’t know those facts. My perception is that “landslide” is now commonly misused for any victory, even where the winner won by 1% of the vote.

    I’m not comparing the elections one to another, just that the word “landslide” to me has far larger implications (ie 49-1) rather than the current 27-20 that Yahoo is currently reporting.

  80. I wasn’t happy with the outcome of the election, and I’m fervently hoping that a lot of Obama’s supporters will be disappointed.

    There’s definitely a silver lining, though. After these eight years, it’ll be nice to have the nation represented by somebody intelligent and well-spoken. If O. gets a decent stable of foreign-policy advisors, the next four years could do a lot for America’s reputation abroad. And while I don’t know if his Supreme Court appointments will be better than McCain’s would’ve been, at least we won’t have to worry about Palin’s.

    It’d be really, really nice if a spell in the time-out corner led the R’s to move in a more libertarian direction. But I’m afraid they’ll do just the opposite.

    As much as Palin scared me, Huckabee scared me a lot worse. And a Huckaboid seems like just the sort of thing to appeal to the pro-Obama pro-prop-8 voter: somebody who wants to see the greedy undeserving rich taxed hard to help honest hard-working American families; and who also doesn’t want to see the sacred intitution of marriage desecrated by gays, or innocent unborn babies slaughtered by money-hungry abortionists.

    The D’s aren’t above that sort of candidate either– see their 2000 VP candidate. What I really dread is a Lieberman vs. Huckabee election. With the ghost of William Jennings Bryan looking on, rubbing his ectoplasmic hands and chortling maniacally…

  81. David W. @ 106:

    That is my hope as well that the GOP retool toward fiscal conservatism and cast off the social conservatism. However, I don’t think that is how it’s gonna play out. The GOP will look at Prop 8’s success and think, if we rebrand ourselves as socially conservative democrats, we can win everything, even CA.

  82. Re: Obama is a man of exceptionally practical strategies; one of those strategies is to lead people to where he wants to go by using the paths they like to go by.

    I think it was Harry Truman who said leadership is the art of getting people to do things they don’t want to do and making them think it was their idea in the first place.

    Sounds like a match. I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid, but I have been an enthusuastic supporter since Biden dropped out of the presidential race. I think that will serve me well over time. Those high on the Kool-Aid will be disappointed as events inevitably prevent Obama from doing everything they hope he’ll do.

  83. Xopher @94: I saw those numbers at NRO’s “The Corner,” along with the rest of the internals on the voting on Prop 8.

    I have to disagree with your assessment of Fox News. As someone from the other side, we view Fox News as the only “fair and balanced” voice in cable news. When I watch their shows, I always see both Democrats and Republicans, with each allowed to give their side of the story. For every Hannity, there’s a Colmes. Yes, they lean conservative, but ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC all lean liberal. I watched a segment on patriotism on CBS the other night. They interviewed four liberals and and a moderate. That’s their version of “fair and balanced.” Maybe in Obama’s America, that will be. If so, we will be the poorer for it.

    You see Fox News, Rush and Drudge as “evil,” simply because their political views are different than yours. Frankly, that’s just plain wrong. We can have different views of the world and the way our nation should be run without one or the other of us being “evil” or “stupid.”

  84. Jeff @ 113:

    I don’t think that the GOP is going to change either socially or fiscally. I think they’re more likely to become more extreme, and keep losing to the Democrats, until a third party replaces their hold on the moderate Right. Right now, I’m going to take a wild stab and say that that party will probably have libertarian leanings, but not be the Libertarian party; and have a strong allegiance to the Constitution, but not be the Constitution party.

  85. @CPolk@71: It’s okay. My husband (a native Canadian) has done the same thing. But the way things go up here, I fully expect a ripple effect. You’ll notice that Harper’s policies have mirrored Bush’s, but on a delay-timer. So with any luck, the same will hold true of the other parties — not just the Liberals, but all of them. I think they all could benefit from this kind of inclusive thinking, from this excitement about democracy. Four years from now, Justin Trudeau will have served as MP for a riding he fought very hard to win from the Bloc. And four years from now, I expect to see him run.

    @Austin@91: I think that Obama might *represent* the change necessary, but whether he will *enact* that change is another matter — mostly because *we* are that change, too. We have to sustain momentum and civility and passion. It won’t be perfect. It won’t be easy. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. We must try.

    *waits for inevitable Yoda quotation*

  86. sup3rwall @ 110: This may blow your mind, but George W. Bush is extremely popular in Africa because of the AIDS initiatives his adminstration has made. Hopefully President Obama will continue them.

  87. Yoda is correct insofar as the unkind eye of History will not give you points for trying. He’s incorrect in supposing that there’s no difference between trying and failing and not trying at all. One should /always/ try. Yoda has also been known to give exceptionally bad advice (to Anakin in Revenge of the Sith, particularly).

    So instead of Yoda, I’m going to give you Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s /Ulysses/;

    “We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

  88. Clyde,
    So you are saying that Bush’s perception around the world is popular?

    “The Kenya Times said Kenyans were “exuberant” and called Obama “the foremost blaze-trailing son of this land,” adding that “[he] has convincingly shown that the world could be better through diplomacy than intimidation and arm-twisting tactics.””

    I wonder who they could be referring to with “intimidation and arm-twistung tactics” ???

    Also outside of Africa:

    “In Russia, Pravda was ecstatic, announcing that “Eight years of hell are over.” It proceeded to catalog George W. Bush’s perceived failures and slights against Russia and criticized the cost of the “grand American soap opera” during a time of economic crisis. “

  89. I’ve been frustrated by the insistence of people that Obama is a socialist. He isn’t. And so what if he was? There is nothing wrong with socialism, nothing but the ghost of the Soviets. Who by the way, weren’t very good at being socialists.

    Socialism is a means through which the entirety of a people can be raised, not just a few. Personally, I’d rather see the middle class double/triple/quadruple/etc. in size than the rich get richer.

  90. Ooh, that gives me chills. And reminds me of this, from The Canto of Ulysses:

    For brutish ignorance your mettle was not made
    You were made men
    To follow after knowledge and excellence

  91. President Bush received 62,040,000 votes in 2004 and an electoral college win.
    President Elect Obama received 62,680,000 votes and an electoral college win.

    Yet only one of them was given a mandate?

    Reagan in ’84 was a mandate. Johnson in ’64 was a mandate.

    This was a great post John, especially number 3.

    I think his biggest battles are going to be with his own party in the short term…


  92. Clyde: if you are holding up Hannity and Colmes as a representation of equal representation of liberal and conservative views, then I think I understand why you’d consider everything else to be out-of-whack. Forgetting that Colmes himself is a centrist, not a liberal, the issue of H&C’s guest list being nearly 80% conservative guests hardly seems any better than the problem you’re citing with other networks.

  93. sup3rwall @122,

    All I’m saying is the truth. Google it yourself. While they were our tax dollars sent to help the suffering in Africa, Bush was instrumental in doing so. If you look, you can probably find quotes from someone like Bono saying it. Credit where credit is due.

  94. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

    Perhaps if we could get him a sword?

  95. Good morning.

    Fellow Americans, first let me congratulate Senator Osama on his victory. It truly is a great victory for the American dream. I look forward to working with him in the transition.

    But fellow Americans, there is much work to be done. And I need your help. Laura and I are packing as we have to move in January. Just one problem.

    Could anyone who owns a pickup or a large minivan help us out the weekend of January 18? I’ll order us some pretzels and beer. I know it’s a lot to ask. You accumulate a lot of junk in eight years. However, the only member of my Administration willing to help is Dick Cheney, and he claims he has a heart problem.

    You know what? After eight years of working with that cold-hearted bastard, I gotta ask it.

    What heart?

    Dammit. I knew I should have made McCain my running mate in 2000. I’d have won by all nine votes on the Supreme Court.

    Well, fellow Americans, I gotta run. Gotta pick up some boxes from the UPS Store.

    Good day and God bless.

  96. WizarDru @ 126,

    Hannity and Colmes is the tip of the iceberg. All during the day, they have representatives from both parties on, giving point-counterpoint. And I’m talking about the news segments, not the opinion shows in the evening. All things considered, liberals get a much fairer reception at Fox News than conservatives get anywhere else. And I say this as someone who was apolitical prior to 9/11, watched a lot of CNN up until that point and then started to really notice the media bias afterward.

    Have you ever watched Fox News, by the way? Or are you one of the people who spells it “Faux News” and judges it while never having watched it? There are a lot of people like that out there.

  97. Clyde,
    Ok true there, Bono how could you ;)

    But, don’t you agree that America’s image could use some “fixing up” around the world and it’s a little refreshing to see positive things being said about us?

  98. From a symbolic perspective, a sword would be an exceedingly bad icon for a President we hope will restore America’s economy and America’s image in the eyes of the world. I’d much prefer a pair of scales, representing both trade, and equality, and justice, to a sword.

    (And yes, I recognised your Python quote. I’m just in a fairly somber mood right now.)

  99. “Reality does not reshape itself to his wishes.”

    Um. He is a black man named Barack Hussein Obama and was just elected President of the United States. That is some very serious reality shaping going on. (As you have previously observed.)

  100. sup3rwall @ 130: Whose good opinion exactly are we supposed to care about? Are they nations whose human rights record is better than ours? Do they provide more rights to their citizens than we do? Seriously, am I supposed to be unhappy that Medvedev’s (Putin’s) Russia doesn’t like us? Is Kenya some kind of paradise-on-earth that we are supposed to emulate? There are a lot of nations who would love us more if we were weaker and more humble, but weak and humble is NOT our style. We’re the United States of America, the best nation on the entire planet, and more than half of the citizens of any other nation in the world would give their right arm to live here if they could. If we let everyone vote with their feet, China would no longer be the most populous nation on Earth.

    Does our image need “fixing up”? Nope.

  101. Well, down here in the capital of Florida, where things started going (forgive the pun) south eight years ago, our local conservative talk show took a call from the wife of a local law enforcement officer who said (a) she was wearing black today and was in mourning, (b) her husband came home and took the “McCain/Palin” sign off her SUV because supposedly local “bad guys” were defacing cars with such signs and there were “gunshots” all around her apartment complex from the supposed same “bad guys” celebrating Obama’s victory–then she broke down crying. Odd, since my wife and I stayed up to listen to Obama’s speech late last night, never heard one gun shot, didn’t read anything in the newspaper or hear anything on the local news about all the supposed “horrible” things happening because of the all “bad guys” celebrating the victory of the ultra-left wing socialist over the nice, calm representatives of the right.

    The problem is that there are a lot of folks being told by the good “fair and balanced” folks on Fox and their even more extreme commentators (Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck and others) that the world “as we know it” would end when Obama and the Democrats took over. Well, the sun came up this morning, like usual, the traffic into my job downtown was about as heavy as usual and most of the news from around the world seemed to show that we may actually have regained some respect that has been sorely lacking over the last couple of terms.

    McCain and Palin lost, not because there were a lot more of us supposedly uneducated, foolish folks who got fooled by Obama and the “mainstream media”, but because they couldn’t articulate a future for America and Obama could. Hopefully the more fearful and bitter among us can figure out that we’ve all got to work together and quit pointing fingers and yelling names. John, your post was right on point about that and, hopefully, folks will listen.

  102. Clyde, I can’t remember who said it, but I seem to recall someone once calling the United States the Frank Sinatra of the globe: at once the most-admired, most-envied, and most-hated man in the business.

  103. Xopher @ 103, I’ll go for those. The only reason so much crap ends up on the ballot in CA is that the legislature is usually in gridlock and people go for the initiative instead (and far too many people *will* sign petitions just on the signature collector’s word of what it’s for). That one about animal welfare, for example, shouldn’t be a ballot measure; it’s a legislative matter.

    I know I’m going to be disappointed, but at least I’ll be disappointed by someone new.

  104. Doug @ #136,

    Doesn’t seem any different, to me, than the insanity that ensued when Bush won in 2004. For many people, reality ceased to exist on November 5, 2004, and ever since then they’ve let their worst instincts — for sour grapes, for conspiracy theory, for hating their neighbors — rule the day.

    Personally, I think anyone who things life is over because Obama won, has allowed their soul to be poisoned by their politics. But soul-poisoning is not the sole domain off the Right. Lots of libs and Lefties have been soul-poisoned going on eight years.

  105. For fear of saying just one more stupid thing, am I allowed to copy and paste your above entry other places? What is the etiquette on this as I would like others to read what you had to say.

    I’m not savvy to the ways of the net, is there a way to link directly to that particular entry so days from now, people can read it without having to scroll through additional posts trying to find it?

    Please don’t hurt me.

  106. Oh, one other thing: Bill Whittle @ NRO speaks for me:

    When he is inaugurated, President Obama will be my president. He cannot be otherwise. I will disagree with him at just about every turn, in all likelihood, and that is my right and duty as an American. However, in an emergency he will have my unqualified support, and I will always wish him wisdom and hope that he may do what is best for this great country of ours. I do not wish — I do not ever wish — to see my country suffer so that I may gain political leverage. If at this same time four years from now, President Obama has acted in such a way as to make us safer, and more prosperous and free, it will be my greatest pleasure to admit I was wrong about the man. I look forward to that day. I hope to see it come to pass.

    Amen, brother. Amen.

  107. Andrew #@ 125: “President Bush received 62,040,000 votes in 2004 and an electoral college win. President Elect Obama received 62,680,000 votes and an electoral college win. Yet only one of them was given a mandate?”

    First of all, Bush got 3 million more votes than Kerry in 2004, whereas so far Obama is up 7.2 million votes on McCain. So while the absolute number of votes is close, the differential is way different.

    But, as I’ve pointed out before, there’s a big difference between elections where incumbents win and elections where non-incumbents win. For an apples-to-apples comparison, let’s revisit this question in 2012.

    Or for an apples-to-apples comparison, President Bush received 50,456,002 votes in 2000 and an electoral college win. President Elect Obama has received 63,042,806 as of 12:00 noon EST on 11/5 with 97% of precincts reporting (so figure it’ll go up to maybe 64 million or so by the time all the votes are in).

    Yes, only one of them was given a mandate. Although Bush ’00 certainly acted as if he was given a mandate, and didn’t “move to the center” as many pundits are insisting Obama will “have to”.

  108. Clyde@115 et seq.–

    Fox and CNN? A pox on both their houses.

    Both of them perpetuate the notion that issues can be discussed on a one-dimensional scale: either “liberals suck, conservatives rule” or “progressives good, right-wingers bad”.

    In their picture of the world, if I know your position on, say, SCHIP, I can completely and accurately predict your position on Guantanamo, the 2nd Amendment, global warming, affirmative action, abortion, and any other issue of importance.

    Let’s dump CNN and Fox both. In fact, let’s dump the idiot box altogether. Let’s abandon this halfwit notion that there are only two possible political philosophies, and debate each issue on its own merits instead of where it fits in some kind of simple-minded left-right dichotomy.

  109. A question from a foreigner; what exactly is meant by a “mandate” in US politics? The only political mandate I’m familiar with is the “Mandate of Heaven” of Chinese Emperors … and I’d say Bush has definitely lost /that/, if he ever had it.

  110. Porphyrogene @ 145,

    To a certain extent, I agree with you. I do, however, think that there IS a real dichotomy, between those who want to use the power of the State to control the lives of its citizens and those who oppose it. I fall into the latter group. There are many on both the left and the right who fall into the first group. They may have different labels, but their goals and their means of attaining them are indistinguishable.

  111. John Scalzi @ 82

    Make the text read “Any read head and any Cuban.”

    Fletcher @ 97

    Great comic. Many thanks. (I will forward this one to my wife who is extremely depressed over Prop 8 this morning despite the Obama win.)


  112. As a conservative who voted for McCain-Palin, have to concede I was dead wrong. I thought McCain would pull it off.

    I should go on record and say that Obama ran a great campaign, even taking into account the very large pass he was given by the big media types who took delight in hammering McCain (who ran a class campaign).

    I hope that Obama governs as well as he articulates his ideas and is able to find some common ground to move us out of some of these messes we’re in. So I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt for the next many months. He is our president and he needs our support, if only on presenting a united front on foriegn affairs issues.

    And there are two bright sides. First, there are a whole lot of independent voters who might go back to the GOP in 2010 and 2012, if the GOP can get their act in gear and/or Obama veers to the left. Second, the really good news is that for the first time in almost 30 years, there is no Bush or Clinton on the national ticket. Long may that trend continue.

  113. Steve (@149), I agree the media was terribly biased against McCain, but in no way did he run a “class campaign.” I was terribly disappointed in the negative, attacking nature of the GOP ads and the attempts to mislead voters with half-truths.

  114. It’s not well defined, Fletcher, but the notion is that with a big enough victory, the party receiving the mandate supposedly has a broad endorsement of all the policies on which they campaigned. It’s more a matter of spinning the election in your favor to keep the electoral momentum going into the governing season than any technical term.

    There are some obvious mandates out there: the Canadian Liberals in 1993 (who took out all but 2 tories, if i recall), or Blair over Major in 1996(?). LBJ destroyed Goldwater in 1964, which gave him extra leverage to pass the later Civil Rights measures. It’s largely subjective and most people will claim it (hell, Bush did in 2000) no matter how thin the margin. When you claim one, you get it until you make some big screw-up and are defeated on something big (Clinton on health care).

    Obama’s got one, for now.

  115. On behalf of the compassionate and non-fear-ridden Californians, I would like to apologize for Prop 8 passing.

  116. Clyde@147–

    Moi aussi. I think the real issue isn’t left vs. right, it’s freedom vs. regulation.

    But that’s the reason why I dislike Fox so. They present everything in terms of a unified left/right philosophy. According to them, if I’m opposed to higher taxes, then I also have to favor warrantless wiretapping and the waterboarding of swarthy people. If I don’t oppose abortion rights and gay marriage, then I must support the welfare state. The only choice I have is whether I want James Dobson controlling my penis, or Charles Schumer controlling my wallet.

    By the way, I should emphasize: I am not, emphatically not, picking on Clyde for his conservative leanings. If somebody wants to defend Michael Moore, I’m willing to heap them with an equal quantity of abuse.

  117. do, however, think that there IS a real dichotomy, between those who want to use the power of the State to control the lives of its citizens and those who oppose it.

    I think there’s a real dichotomy, too, between those who want to have the government help out fellow Americans when they need it and those who don’t. I’m with the former.

    (See how easy the partisan framing is? Don’t like it? Don’t do it.)

  118. @Clyde: Yes, there are countries with a better human rights record, countries that provide better for their citizens and countries that have a higher average living standard. If your America doesn’t care for their opinion, that’s OK. We actually don’t care all that much about yours.

    Anyway, congratulations on getting a decent and even more importantly intelligent and competent conservative into the White House. And maybe within the next few decade, you might be able to fix the damage of the last 30 years.

    And please don’t call Obama left or even socialist. He’s so far away from that, it isn’t even funny.

  119. Sub-Odeon (@#)140:

    Well, my hometown (and workplace, for that matter) was the center of the universe back in 2000 for a while and, being the center of all things political in Florida, was pretty exciting in 2004–we’re a university town with redneck leanings both ways. Yeah, there were a lot of my leftward-leaning compatriots in the Democratic Party saying nasty things for years afterwards that I’d been just as happy NOT to keep listening to. The democratic process makes just a little less than half of us unhappy every few years.

    My point this morning was that I’ve heard a LOT more of the Chicken Little-syndrome from the right and it seems to be needlessly (IMHO, anyway) frightening some of the populace who haven’t stuck their head out the door lately. Might it have been from the left if the election was tight and went McCain’s way? Maybe, but the sun came up as usual this morning for the rest of us and even my much-more-conservative staff agreed that life, as we know it, would go on.

  120. Have you ever watched Fox News, by the way? Or are you one of the people who spells it “Faux News” and judges it while never having watched it? There are a lot of people like that out there..”

    Yes, I have watched it. During my father’s final years, it was his preferred ‘white noise’ channel, so I had plenty of exposure to it. And while it may be true that there is no such thing as true objectivity, Fox News is most certainly conservatively-biased. Like last night, when they referred to Obama, by then our President-Elect, as “dangerous“…I was watching then, too.

    I don’t have a problem with Fox having a conservative bias. What I have a problem with is Fox’s pretense that they don’t have any bias and that everyone else in the world, as you yourself echo, does. You see them as a lone voice in the wilderness, while I view them as the crazy street-corner screamer wearing the “End is Near” placard. The idea that every other channel has no bias is equally ludicrous and I’m not attempting to make that case. I do find it equally ridiculous that Fox tries to make a case that there is only one axis upon which you can measure things as absolute. Especially when plenty of studies have been done on them and others media sources and found that the perception of bias is often just that….the perception of bias.

    I don’t think Fox News is evil or liars…I think they are part of the noxious 24 hour news echo chamber (which includes MSNBC, CNBC, CNN, Fox and others) that have all helped to poison the national political dialogue using their desire to slant the news to attract a particular audience.

  121. I appreciate your insights on Obama’s early days in office: stick to the issues that got him elected, i.e. the economy. The job of President of the US has outgrown any one man. Too many people expect too much from the executive branch. They want what they want and they want it now. “Red” talk-radio is full of these types and the gurus who mislead them. One of the great “missing” lessons of American History is that there is no Constitutional provision for political parties; they emerged as politics evolved from a calling to a profession. I’d love to see a proposition on our ballots to require people to actually learn what the function of government is, rather than all the moral pronouncements that take up far to much time energy and resources election after election.

  122. I’m certainly not expecting any miracles. While the Democrats now control the Executive and Legislative branches, 50% of current federal judges are Republican appointees (not that party of appointment is necessarily an indicator of how a judge will decide). Also, the economy is in the toilet and it’s not sunshine lollipops and rainbows in the middle east. And Bush still has 77 days to do a lot of damage (see e.g. what he’s planning to do with respect to regulations governing mountain top mining). I think President-elect Obama is in for a rough first year dealing with the mess he’s been handed.

    That said, I’m still glad he’s won, but I agree that it’s not a mandate for the Democrats per se. My family of Rockefeller Republicans (a now basically extinct species from NY) was of the opinion that the Republicans had to lose everything – White House, Senate, house of Representatives, state houses and state legislatures – in order for them to shift back to center where they belong. And this did not happen, not to the degree necessary. Instead I think we’ll see the Republicans continue to be the party that shifted so far right in the past three decades that they dragged the democrats over the center line with them, and I think if the Democrats want to stay in charge, they’ll have to stay pretty close the center as a result. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, but i would prefer a shift to the left that pulls the Republicans back to center.

  123. Doug from Tally,

    Good points.

    One thing I have always tried to tell myself, since I only “win” these elections every other time (I voted Perot in 1992, Clinton in 1996, Gore in 2000, Bush in 2004, and wrote in Romney-Rice for 2008…) is that it’s never as bad as they say it will be. Never. It’s never the end of the world, and whether you love or hate the guy in the Oval Office, the U.S. somehow finds a way to move forward. I wish more people with Chicken Little Syndrome remembered this, before predicting the End Times whenever a candidate they don’t like assumes the highest national office.

  124. Try it again…

    Doug from Tally,

    Good points.

    One thing I have always tried to tell myself, since I only “win” these elections every other time (I voted Perot in 1992, Clinton in 1996, Gore in 2000, Bush in 2004, and wrote in Romney-Rice for 2008…) is that it’s never as bad as they say it will be. Never. It’s never the end of the world, and whether you love or hate the guy in the Oval Office, the U.S. somehow finds a way to move forward. I wish more people with Chicken Little Syndrome remembered this, before predicting the End Times whenever a candidate they don’t like assumes the highest national office.

  125. Sub-Odeon:

    “it’s never as bad as they say it will be.”

    That said, oftentimes it’s not anywhere as good as it could have been, with better leaders. I think of the last eight years like that.

  126. Steve @ 149: McCain ran a very negative, nasty campaign. I think that and the fact the media knew better accounts for most of their ‘bias’ towards Obama. McCain and especially Palin seemed to believe that whatever nonsense they claimed about their opponents should have been allowed to stand unchallenged (or perhaps only challenged by Obama/Biden).

    God forbid the media do their jobs and fact-check what the candidates are claiming…

  127. Sub-Odeon (144) and John Scalzi (166):


    “it’s never as bad as they say it will be.”

    “That said, oftentimes it’s not anywhere as good as it could have been, with better leaders. I think of the last eight years like that.”

    Well, that’s the story of America in a nutshell, isn’t it? Our entire history has been one of “not-quite-what-it-should-have-been-but-not-always-as-bad-as-it-could-have been”.
    We occasionally get worse (the last 8) and, more rarely, better than we expected or thought at the time (Lincoln, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, Truman).

    Hopefully Obama will be at least the former, not the middle and, if we’re lucky, the latter.

  128. @167,

    If anything has come out this election, it has been the partisanship of the Mainstream media towards one candidate…and this time it wasn’t McCain…

  129. Matt at 151 and John H at 167: Exactly what did McCain say or do which was “negative”, in the sense that it was derogatory and untrue?

    If he had wanted, he could have run ads of Jeremiah Wright 24/7 for months, as even Obama conceded that it was a relevant issue. He did not. The closest that was raised is: 1) by various state parties (PA and SC, I think) who were outside McCain’s control; and, 2) linking Wright verbally to Ayers and Khalidi without showing the inflamatory video.

    The next possible thing would be referring the Obama as a socialist. There is grounds for that charge based on Obama’s own rightings (he states in his biography that he sought out Marxist professors, a trend he continued in his early political life). Universal health care, income redistribution, and national ownership of banks (which McCain voted for, which drew the sting from the charge, I am sure), even if limited, are certainly socialist ideas.

    Is it the pro-Palestinian stance he accused Obama of? The problem with characterizing that as negative is it is based on Obama’s own words. He has been on both sides of the issue, depending on his audience.

    The major problem with characterizing McCain as running a negative campaign is that Obama is largely a cipher. He can be interpreted in anyway the listener prefers, pro or con.

  130. “The next possible thing would be referring the Obama as a socialist.” Yes one of those socialists like they have running things in Australia or Canada or the UK or France or Germany. Don’t want none of them socialists here.

  131. Well written, John.

    I happened to hear an NPR broadcast by the World Affairs Council that featured George Lakoff talking about Obama and his views and approach to the United States and our government. He talked about Obama consistently conveying the message that a key characteristic of the people of the US and why our democracy has been as successful as it has and as able to face and work through tough times is that we take care of one another. I did not hear the entire broadcast. I do intend to listen to it online and investigate the ideas. I am very interested in how I can contribute.


  132. Re Point #2:

    Not only will Rush Limbaugh not choke on his own tongue, he’ll likely prosper. The day after the 1992 election he was incredibly cheerful, and when people asked him why he said it was because a Clinton presidency would doubtless give him four years worth of great audience-attracting material. I didn’t listen to Rush this morning, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he made similar comments.

  133. Thank from a moderate/independent McCain supporter (since 2000) whose a bit bruised today — Point #4 made me laugh out loud, which felt very good.

  134. Greatly put, Scalzi, I think I can agree on most if not all points. The sad thing is that someone is excpecting too much, but in my eyes Obama was more “the lesser of two evils” than a “saviour”, which I think is a healthy attitude. Never excpect too much ^^

    Also, I really liked both McCains and Obamas speech after the victory :D
    Kinda liked what Bush had to say as well, and the clear irritation in his face and walk when he left the podium :p

    Now I just gotta throw this Mad TV vid out here, iz funz

  135. The major problem with characterizing McCain as running a negative campaign is that Obama is largely a cipher. He can be interpreted in anyway the listener prefers, pro or con.

    Oh for the love of…Obama’s a perfectly straightforward politician. His background is perhaps a bit out of the ordinary (though not different from hundreds of other Americans) but his political career is about as straightforward as you can get. The only ‘cipher’ in this is the mystery that scared people put on someone who doesn’t look like them.

  136. He’s not my President. I won’t have another one until 2012 at the earliest.

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Just remembering how the Blue Team treated my guy.

    S. F. Murphy
    Exile in his own genre

  137. No offense, John, but the only “mandate” I see is that the Black and Hispanic voters showed up to vote (and won Obama the election) because there was a non “Whitey” candidate will be expecting Obama to serve their needs. Which isn’t going to happen.

    You’re right about two things, though. 1) He is going to be a masterful disappointment to many people, and 2) It is up to the people to start educating themselves properly, without bias, and start holding the proper parties accountable for the mistakes they make, instead of merely entrusting such information to a group with their own agenda, like the news media, and voting ignorantly.

    You say Obama won because of the issue of the economy. Well, here’s what Orson Scott Card has to say about THAT…

    Damn. You mean to say if the American people actually understood that it was certain individuals of the Democratic party who actually caused this crisis in our economy – including Obama himself – they STILL would have voted him into office?

    I don’t think so. (But then again, never understimate the stupidity of the masses.)

    That being said, what’s done is done. While I personally have no confidence in him whatsoever for a multitude of reasons, I hope that he is smart enough to work with those in the government who are more experienced than he is and have a less socialistic worldview than he does to get things done.

  138. Louis Bright-Raven:

    “No offense, John, but the only ‘mandate’ I see is that the Black and Hispanic voters showed up to vote (and won Obama the election) because there was a non ‘Whitey’ candidate will be expecting Obama to serve their needs.”

    Yes. As we all know, those shifty black and Hispanic voters don’t count toward a real mandate, and possibly shouldn’t really get a whole vote to themselves. For that matter, women and renters are kind of shaky, too. Basically, unless you’ve got the white male landowner vote, your mandate ain’t worth shit. It’s a real shame people are too stupid not to know that.

  139. He also has both houses of congress controlled by his party. Let’s see what he does with it…

    The list of other presidents whose party controlled Congress includes LBJ, Carter and Dubya (first term). Let’s just say I’m not brimming over with optimism.

    I would have preferred a McCain win (although I didn’t vote for either him or Obama) for one reason only: a Democratic Congress is a given, and the federal government does less damage when the President and Congress keep each other in check.

  140. Louis Bright-Raven:
    You do know that the states with the highest average IQ voted Obama, right?
    I guess not.

    You do know 56% of all the women voted Obama?
    I guess you didn’t know that either.

    60% of WHITE women voted Obama.

    Sure, it’s all because of the black and latin population, right?
    Oh and, for the record, he got the votes of about 2/3 of the latin population ;)

  141. Great post, John. Thank you; with most of the blogs I read going all giddy about the election results (well, the presidential election–Prop. 8 is, of course, an entirely different matter), something down-to-earth is especially appreciated.

    Oh, but one thing:

    “I’m pretty sure they don’t want to screw gays.”

    Larry Craig and Ted Haggard, for two, might wish to disagree. Privately, at least.”

    I’d say a lot of others besides Craig and Haggard are living on the down low (or wish they could be, or want to be prevented by law because they can’t stop themselves without external constraint). Why else would they feel that having the option to marry somebody of the same sex would threaten their own marriages?

  142. No offense, John, but the only “mandate” I see is that the Black and Hispanic voters showed up to vote (and won Obama the election) because there was a non “Whitey” candidate will be expecting Obama to serve their needs. Which isn’t going to happen.

    Annnnnnnnndd here come the racists. Entertaining to see that subtlety is still not a prerequisite to Racism 101 (“What? You didn’t take Talking in Code 100? No problem…I’ll just sign you into the class. Remember to get your white sheets on the way out.”)

  143. John, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I plan on doling out the exact same sort of behavior toward “Mister Obama” that President Bush got from the Left.

    He ain’t my guy.

  144. S.F. Murphy:

    By all means subscribe “other people were assholes so now I’m gonna be an asshole, too” theory of public discourse if you like. I won’t stop you. But saying Obama’s not your president (or won’t be, in a couple of months) is disrespectful of the office, the Constitution, and your country. Dude, I’ve recognized for eight long years that Bush is my president, and he’s been a disaster.

  145. Well, congratulations. Obama is President-elect. I will now prognosticate three things that will happen during his term in office:

    1. Due to tax increases and “wealth redistributing” the US economy will suffer a depression (using the 10% GDP contraction as the definition).

    2. A US or Israeli city will suffer a NBC (Nuclear, Biologic, or Chemical) attack. If done in Israel, the counterstrike will touch off WWIII. If in America, I am afraid that there will not be any effective response short of nuke them all due to military budget cuts.

    3. Significant limitations on freedom of speech, right to bear arms, and right to privacy will be enacted, either through judicial, regulatory, or legislative means. Unlike what has been claimed during the Bush administration, we have actually seen limitations on speech performed by Obama supporters (Jonah Goldberg radio interview on WGN in Chicago, Representative Schumer equating conservative talk radio to porn and thus ‘eligible’ for regulation, reinstitution of the so-called ‘Fairness Doctrine’), and loss of the right to privacy (Most egregious is the Joe the Plumber incident where all records were searched illegally).

    I sincerely hope I turn out to be completely and utterly wrong in this but all these predictions flow directly from Mr. Obama’s previous interviews, actual actions by his supporters, or plans already articulated on his campaign website.

  146. all these predictions flow directly from Mr. Obama’s previous interviews, actual actions by his supporters, or plans already articulated on his campaign website.

    Really, the campaign web site has announced plans for an NBC strike on Israel? Wow.

    At least try to remain within the realm of probability, here.

  147. D.G. Lewis at 84 said:

    But look at Reagan ‘80, generally also considered a “landslide” (489 EVs, winning every state except for RI, MD, WV, and the home states of the Dem candidates, MN and GA) – he barely eked out a majority, with 50.75% of the popular vote.

    Except that ’80 saw large third party participation. Anderson got over 6% of the vote and Clark also received over 1%. Reagan may have only scraped out a simple majority, but he actually beat Carter by almost 10 points.

    WizardDru at 159:

    You see them as a lone voice in the wilderness, while I view them as the crazy street-corner screamer wearing the “End is Near” placard.

    You yourself admit that they are little different from the other networks except in political bias. They really are the lone conservative voice in the televised newsroom. I’ll admit Fox is partisan and perhaps intellectually dishonest with their advertising, but crazy?

  148. Brian at 193:

    Keep your day job dude. Nostradamus called, he wants his mojo back.

    A depression could happen simply because of the housing/banking meltdown. This happened all before Obama’s election. Why choose to pin it on him?

    Your point number two seems farcical. Colin Powell endorsed Obama. You know, I’m going to go with this recommendation and, ostensibly, Powell’s belief that Obama won’t lead us down that road.

    As for your third point, do you realize you are conflating the actions of private citizens with the government? You do realize that WGN is a TV station right, not the federal government?

  149. With all due limits, what the US just went through is pretty similar to what Mexico (the country I hail from) went through back in 2000, when we elected Vicente Fox…hell, even the campaign slogan (“Yes, we can” and “Si se puede” [it could be translated as…Yes, we can :]) is practically the same, and the approach to the campaign was pretty much the same.

    And…you *will* be as disappointed by Obama as we were by Fox in Mexico.

    No, I’m not saying Obama will prove to be a lousy public speaker (which Fox was), nor that he’ll open his mouth without thinking all that often (as Fox did), but…he’ll find his own style, and disappoint you all just the same…because no human being can not disappoint you after the amount of hype Obama (and Fox) built up during his campaign…the dude is human and he *will* mess things up.

    On the other hand…no matter what some people say about Fox, I wouldn’t change my vote on that election, because he was just what Mexico needed then…just like Obama is what the US needs now.

    Congratulations on having survived another election, and good luck in the future…the world needs the US to be a decent country, and that’s one thing I’m sure Obama will accomplish…making the US a country worthy of its history again.

  150. D.G. Lewis @ 49:

    The 52% popular vote is a sample of 100% of voters, which by definition has a margin of error of 0. (OK, if you want to get picky it’s actually about 0.01% or thereabouts.)

    The error in the actual measurement depends on the counting system used. Historically it is a lot more than 0.01%. The big reason 2000 was so controversial was that mechanical vote counting machines have an error of around 0.5%. The actual vote was closer than that. People doing it by hand aren’t much better than the counting machines. After watching people fail to properly close cash registers in retail for a few years, hand counting is probably between 1 and 0.1%.

    The big push to digital systems after 2000 was because integer math done by computers has a much smaller error budget.

  151. John, it was here at your blog not too long ago that a poster said in response to a post of mine, “Step aside and let the real Americans” get to work.

    I believe that was David Moles.

    So according to some members of the Blue Team, I’m not a “real American” anyway and as such, why should anyone be surprised that I have no respect for the party and in turn zero respect for the office?

    Besides, it was the same party that was screaming about the Electoral College and wanting to get rid of the Second Amendment, among other things. Hardly a sign of respect of the Constitution if you ask me.

  152. (rolls eyes)

    Poor S.F. Murphy. Someone said something mean to you on the Internet.

    Although, it wasn’t David Moles (just someone named David) and he didn’t say “Step aside and let the real Americans get to work,” he said “That’s nice. You can play in your own little corner. The rest of us are going to try and work together as Americans, thank you.” Nary a word about who is a “real American,” although certainly a suggestion that “Americans” are and should be an expansive and inclusive term.

    And in any event, we’re not talking about anyone else, we’re talking about you. What you do toward respecting your country and constitution has very little to do with what other people are doing. Are other people not showing respect to the country and constitution? Then how them how it’s done. Because what it sounds like is “they were fucks, so now I’m going to be an even worse fuck,” and really, that’s just stupid and childish. I’m pretty sure if all the liberals threw themselves off a bridge, you wouldn’t do it, too. So why do this?

    As I said earlier: Sack up, man.

  153. Jeff @# 199: You may be correct – I didn’t take the time to dig into what various experts have estimated as the collective MOE for the myriad vote counting systems in place across the country, so I swagged it at .01%; it wouldn’t surprise me it’s more like .1% – .5%. Conceded; it’s still not anywhere near 4%, and it’s not anywhere near the (now 7%) popular vote margin, which was the original point claimed by poster Matthew.

    At #195 you raise the fact that 1980 had John Anderson, so the spread between Reagan and Carter was close to 10%. Also true; however, this came up in the context of whether or not Obama had a “mandate,” and the claim that “52% of the vote hardly constitutes a mandate”.

  154. Although, it wasn’t David Moles (just someone named David) and he didn’t say “Step aside and let the real Americans get to work,” he said “That’s nice. You can play in your own little corner. The rest of us are going to try and work together as Americans, thank you.” Nary a word about who is a “real American,” although certainly a suggestion that “Americans” are and should be an expansive and inclusive term.

    That was me! That was me! (waves hand excitedly) Me!

    And I was responding to Murphy’s idea that because *he* was better off, what happened to the rest of America didn’t really matter.

  155. Jeez, I’m always amazed at the bitterness that seems to pops up after elections; yeah, the folks you backed lost, but is that any reason to essentially sow the ground with salt for the other side and say, “Fuck you and the horse you rode in on, too”? As our eminent moderator basically said in post #190, the “other guy’s guy”, whether we like him, like his positions or even the cut of his suit, is irrelevant; he’s still the President, still going to represent us internationally and internally as our leader. Is it OK to disagree, to posit other ideas and to occasionally get unhappy with what he/she does? Sure–that’s what we voted for, that’s what a lot of our ancestors died for and what our current folks in the military are there to protect. But to simply do the childish whine and not even give the newbie a chance to screw up is silly and counterproductive.

  156. S.F. Murphy – Try to actually quote your facts correctly. You’ll find it helps your arguments be, oh, I don’t know, correct.

  157. Regarding the work ahead…

    We all need to ask ourselves some hard questions.

    Are there persons in my community who are going hungry?

    What am I doing about it?

    Are there persons in my community who have no access to health care or insurance?

    What am I doing about it?

    What issues in my community need to be addressed?

    What am I doing about it?

    What am I doing about it? Am I sitting around talking? Talking only goes so far. How much do we really care about these issues? What constructive action are we willing to take? Or will we just keep coming home and sitting in front of our TVs and computers and not doing anything? That is the work ahead.

  158. I was better off and I’m not inclined to work with a party that will see to it that I am not better off in four years.

  159. And John Kerry for Secretary of State? You’ve got to be kidding me. Hard to believe he could pick someone worse than Mommy Albright for the job but Obama seems to have found precisely that.

    Next he’ll get that nutjob Dennis Kucinich for SecDef.

  160. Vox, here I am, all smug and elitist, and then you go ahead and write something that, not only do I agree with, but I completely respect.

    Dude, you need to stop doing that shit or I’m going to have to start actually being nicer to you.

  161. Just as a reminder: Fox News viewers are less informed than viewers of other national news sources and were much more likely than viewers of other networks to be dead wrong about links between Hussein and Al Qaeda, the existence of WMDs in Iraq, and world opinion about the war and occupation. There is in these surveys not the ground to claim that Fox News makes you more likely to be wrong, but it certainly isn’t doing a good job of conveying the truth to viewers.

  162. I was better off

    What a remarkably unpatriotic attitude. ‘I’m fine, so it doesn’t matter how many Americans died in Iraq or in New Orleans.’

  163. I stand by my predictions:

    David at 194: Please read my post and understand it. I said that an American or Israeli city will suffer a NBC attack in the next 4 years, not that Obama is planning it. I base this on Obama’s stated intention of meeting with Iran and others without preconditions (as stated on his campaign website) along with the fact that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapon technology (according to the UN IEAE) and that the Iranian leaders have consistently stated they want to make Israel a howling wilderness and burn it off the face of the earth.

    Meeting without preconditions has happened before in history. Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of England in 1938, met with Adolf Hitler to discuss Hitler’s desire to annex the Sudetenland, a part of Czechoslovakia that had a large number of ethnic Germans living there. The result of that meeting was a promise from Hitler that he wouldn’t look to expand any more after getting the Sudetenland. PM Chamberlain went back to London and gave his famous “Peace in our time” speech.

    Germany promptly broke the promise, annexed the rest of Czechoslovakia and within one year WWII had started in part due to Hitler not believing Britain and France’s promise to declare war if Poland was invaded.

    Todd Stull @ 197: I don’t believe the housing/credit meltdown would cause a depression. I do believe it will cause a recession that may take most of a year to recover from, as long as no new anti-growth items are implemented in Washington DC. However, Mr. Obama has stated that he wants to increase the capital gains tax, allow the Bush tax cuts to sunset in 2010, does not support free trade, and wants to increase taxes on people making more that 250K a year. (As an aside, some Democrats have said lower figures: Joe Biden used $200,000 and Bill Richardson used $150,000 a few days before the election). These economic policies, if actually enacted, will deepen the recession into a depression.

    In regards to Colin Powell’s endorsement, I think you are relying too much on Gen. Powell’s statement and not enough on Obama’s stated positions. As stated above, I feel that meeting with dictatorial leaders without preconditions is a recipe for disaster. (I think it can be agreed upon here that the Iranian leadership is a functional dictatorship due to only one party or ideology having power.)

    In regards to the WGN incident, the response was coordinated by the Obama campaign due to an action notice that was emailed out his supporters by campaign workers. In addition, I found it highly offensive that Mr. Obama’s supporters seemed to claim any disagreement with or concerns about Mr. Obama’s policy statements were motivated by racism.

  164. 210:

    “Dude, you need to stop doing that shit or I’m going to have to start actually being nicer to you.”

    I feel obliged to point out that “Vox” and Vox Day (who posts here as “VD”) are different people.

  165. Brian at 213:

    I don’t believe that increasing capital gains taxes will slow down economic growth. I have yet to see compelling research and arguments that convince me of that, but I am open to suggested reading. Frankly, I’m not concerned that rich people making over 250K or 150K will pay more taxes. I think if you make more, you should pay more. There is all sorts of income and resource redistribution happening for the rich that fiscal conservatives don’t bellyache about, and which help them become and stay rich. For example, government subsidies for specific industries. And I don’t see you making a compelling case that any of the economic policies that you outlined will cause a recession to become a depression.

    I would ask that regarding the issue of meeting with leaders without preconditions, that you stop making parallels between Obama’s position, and that of Chamberlain in regards to Hitler. You can in fact meet with leaders without capitulating to their demands. One possibility is that talking leads to consensus on some issues that are of strategic importance to the US and its allies, including Israel. When you draw the parallel to Hitler, it reeks of fear mongering. I don’t suppose that Iran will rescind their statements about wiping Israel off the face of the Earth; however, their strategic goals, what they agree to with the US, and what they say publically can actually all be different. As long as Obama doesn’t agree to help Iran wipe Israel off the face of the Earth, I think his willingness to talk could result in a positive result. Would it kill you to think positive on this?

    I don’t know much about the WGN incident, but my original point remains. You are conflating government policy restricting free speech with the actions of private citizens and corporations, who have no obligation regarding free speech period.

  166. I appreciate the polite discourse from Todd Stull regarding my views.

    My basis for believing that increasing the capital gains tax, income tax, and protectionist trade policies will harm the economy comes from the results of the JFK, Reagan, and Bush tax cuts. In each case, governmental receipts increased.

    Conversely, the Carter tax hike and IIRC the Bush I tax hike both caused the economy to shrink or slow down in growth. Thus a tax increase during a recession can cause the contraction to last longer and be deeper than it otherwise would be.

    Regarding other tax Peter to give to Paul items that are already in the code, I don’t like them either. One of the items on my ballot was a resolution to allow my state to invest school trust fund money into private company stocks. I voted against it because I feel government has no business having any ownership interest in any private business. I am convinced that the major reason for the mortgage meltdown was the federal ownership/relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    I’m sure Mr. Obama would not agree to help Iran wipe Israel off the map. I am afraid that Mr. Obama wouldn’t say anything one way or the other. As an example, during the campaign, Mr. Obama told a Jewish group he was addressing that he supported their concept of what should be done regarding Jerusalem. (I can’t remember exactly what position the group advocated.) Within a couple of weeks, due to outcry from those that support the Palestinian position, Mr. Obama backed off and went neutral on the issue. If President Obama is neutral to Iran on the issue of Israel’s right to exist, I believe Iran would understand that as a green light.

    Regarding the WGN item, let it drop. What about Rep Schumer and his support of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine”? That doctrine, if enacted, is a direct limitation on political speech by government because it is only going to be applied to talk radio.

    By the way, DG Lewis, I don’t think you win anything. As I understand it, it requires a comparison of the other side in the debate to Hitler or Nazis. I have not said that Mr. Obama, Todd, or any other commenter on this thread is similar to them. What I did do is relate a historical fact of a naive or overly trusting leader being taken in by Hitler.

  167. Clyde@136
    “Whose good opinion exactly are we supposed to care about? … Does our image need “fixing up”? Nope.”

    What about the UK? Do you care about our opinion? Because the reaction to the US election result of most of the people I know has been: “Oh. So maybe they aren’t so stupid after all.” You might not want to appear weaker, but would it hurt to look a bit smarter?

    The US has got a chance to make the world re-evaluate it. I think it would be a pity to waste it.

  168. I know I’m chiming in a little late on this, but, well, I’m avoiding laundry and chores, so cut me some slack.

    Mr. Scalzi, thank you for writing this and putting out there. I didn’t vote for the President Elect, but in a few short months he’s going to start the horrible, unforgiving, thankless job that he fought so hard to get. I wish people would stop putting more pressure on him by making him into some kind of savior. He’s not. No government or official of any level is going to save us. We are going to save us, with what I hope will be good, sound leadership for a change. If people were to listen closely to what Mr. Obama is saying in his speeches, I believe he’s telling us as much. We, as a country, allowed much of this financial crisis to happen and did far too little to avert it. Now, we have to deal with those consequences. No one is going to like it. No one.

    I didn’t vote for Mr. Obama, nor did I vote for Mr. McCain, though I did vote. I’m not sure that we’ve made the best choice, but I hope we have. In the end, I think the next four years would have forced some of the same choices from our leaders regardless of which party put them forward. Yes, we needed a change. I hope we’ve made the right one. The real change, however, needs to start at home, my own home included.

    It’s time to stop worrying about what percentage of the vote constitutes a “mandate” or a “landslide”. It doesn’t matter. Mr. Obama is the clear winner and inspired more people to get out and vote, from all socioeconomic backgrounds, than any candidate has in many, many years. No matter the end result, that alone was a good thing. I hope those people who voted for a change keep being interested in what’s happening in their country. That’s the change that matters. People pitching in and making a small difference in their own local community.

    So, while your post may have upset some and been a simple buzzkill for others, thank you for reminding us that Barack Obama is one man and can only do so much. The real change is up to us.

  169. I laud your cynicism. Nothing can guarantee your rightness more than cynicism. You’ll never be wrong again!

    I think the world would be a better place if we were all a little more cynical. In fact, there’s really no point in anyone believing anything. That way, we CAN’T be wrong! Plus we won’t have silly disagreements about who killed who, or whether zombies are truly superior to unicorns (If I believed in stuff, I’d say that was definitely a yes).

  170. Followed this link from your Nov 7 ’12 post, and I’m laughing. I wasn’t a huge Obama supporter in 2008. I liked Hilary, and I thought Obama was just callow. I didn’t think he had the national politics experience to deal with the presidency. Like you I also thought many of his supporters were truly expecting the cinnamon-scented rainbow farts, and that a disappointed first-time-voter constituency which couldn’t be motivated to go vote a second time once he’d proved himself human would likely hurt him in his second bid. And all those things were true — he made missteps because of inexperience, he disappointed starry-eyed fans, he didn’t go into this election looking like a shoo-in. But he’s done okay in bad times, and this year I voted for him with a lot more enthusiasm than last time.

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