A Reminder Regarding Political Prognostications

Because everyone, including me, has thoughts about what last night’s elections means for the 2010 vote ten months from now:

Ten months ago, everyone assumed the GOP was doomed for several political cycles.

Ten months before that, there was still a chance Hillary Clinton would have been the next president of the United States, and no one outside of Alaska had heard of Sarah Palin.

Which is to say that a lot can happen in ten months. No one should get cocky, no one should feel doomed, and no one should be under the impression that any prediction that make now will have any relation to what happens in November. The only prediction I do feel confident in making is: the next ten months should be interesting.

46 Comments on “A Reminder Regarding Political Prognostications”

  1. Would you please stop being so, reasonable and stuff? This is The-End-Of-The-World-OMG-11@!!, damnit!


    Seriously, I do appreciate these past couple of political posts.

  2. You’re welcome, Chris.

    The problem with the end of the world is that it is tiring. You have too many of them, they just lose their punch. I try to save up mine for actual ends of the world.

  3. But isn’t this how real problems are solved? By entrenched opinions arguing endlessly and ineffectively on the internet? What we say here and now defines the landscape of reality!

    Hang on, I need to go make some more chocolate milk…

  4. Well said John. I think that the election victory for Sen.-elect Brown had alot to do with the arrogant way the Dems. and the White House have tried to push through health reform. I do not think that this is the change that many people who voted for Obama wanted. Health care needs to be reformed, but I don’t think the “one size fits all” approuch is the right way to do it. You are right John when you say that the next 10 months will be intrersting. Hopefully, Obama will turn more to the center like Clinton did in the 1990’s.

  5. Ben, sure there’s going to be some ranting, but we are primates, and screaming from one tree to the other is what we do. This sort of forum is just a different jungle where the trees all seem to be within shouting range.

  6. I think Scott Brown’s election had a lot less to do with national issues and a lot more to do with a state party and their candidate who took their victory, and therefore their constituents, for granted. Hubris, meet nemesis.

  7. John @ 4: The problem with the end of the world is that it is tiring. You have too many of them, they just lose their punch.

    Sing it!

    “Apocalypse? We’ve all been there.
    The same old trips. Why should we care?”

    Everything important in life, you can learn from Buffy.

  8. This reminds me of sports casters. They all make predictions and talk endlessly about why they are right. Then they are proven wrong. This is why they play the game on the field.
    I live in San Diego. You would of thought the Chargers had already won the super bowl. Then they played the actual game where they self distruted in the second half. Doh!
    Now everyone is speculating on who’s gonna lose their job. Sound familiar?

    The Gray Area@7
    Within shouting range? More like within poo flinging range!
    ooh ooh whah HAH HAH HAH! fwing! fwing! splat splat.

  9. Interesting in that old (apocryphal) Chinese curse way, John?

    @Charles Interesting how Obama’s rorschach-test quality extends into his presidency. I know a number of people who feel he’s always been at the center.

  10. Scalzi

    The problem with the end of the world is that it is tiring. You have too many of them, they just lose their punch.

    I think Riley said it best

    “It turns out I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse.”

    The Grey Area

    Ben, sure there’s going to be some ranting, but we are primates, and screaming from one tree to the other is what we do.

    It’s not screaming from one tree to another. It’s a National Conversation.

  11. A favorite quote/curse that I think fits the current US political scene:

    May you always live in interesting times.

  12. Rebrant, translate “poo” into “insult words” and it’s horribley obvious that we really haven’t evolved much with regard to the semantic content of our language. As for predicting the future, almost anything we can predict will probably happen in some universe, so I guess we should all feel good about being right. I predict Scott Brown will be our next President!

  13. Brown ran stating that he would be the 41st vote against the current health care reform bill.

    Current polling and the results of last nights election show that the American populace doesn’t want THIS health care reform bill.

    If the Democrats realize this, stop all the shenanigans (bribes/payoffs for votes, closed door meetings), come back to the political center from their current far-left dwelling place and start concentrating on common-sense methods to help the economy and job situation they’ll do all right.

    If they keep trying to shove this bill down peoples throats and follow it up with Cap and Trade, and Card Check, then they are in for a world of hurt. If they don’t come back to the center, then both the House and Senate will be ‘in-play’ for the GOP.

    Coming back to the center, or “Triangulation” as invented/implemented by Dick Morris for President Bill Clinton after the disastrous election of 1994 shows the blueprint for continued success.

  14. #6: Arrogant? I can see a lot of things but that isn’t one of them. Every faction and special interest was catered to and had their whack at this camel. Every motion of bipartisanship was exercised. If there was a failure there wasn’t enough effort to explain to middle-middle class and small business types why this was in their long-term interest. Particularly as the private insurance industry continues its march away from insuring people, as opposed to merely lifting their money and finding excuses not to honor their coverage. If you want to call that arrogance okay.

    People need to stop kidding themselves that if you only have a job, and if the electorate is obsessing about anything it’s jobs (which is certainly understandable), you’ll get decent health care; in 10-15 years it will be the government or nothing. The only question is whether Medicaid evolves into the national system, or whether the insurance industry is bludgeoned into being a regulated utility. We’re probably another GOP administration and another economic crash away from that scenario.

    As for the shorter run, there is really no reason that the Democrats can’t get a medical bill done; the House Democrats vote for the Senate bill and cram, cram, cram. However, the administration still seems to be hung up on the imaginary virtues of bipartisanship. Offering consideration to the incoming junior senator from Massachusetts is a joke; it’s like saying thank you while the local bully kicks you in the crotch. No Republican would be that stupid. Maybe Obama IS too nice to be president?

    The next thing I want to see is whether the RNC reopens the whole Michael Steele business, seeing as they no longer have to pretend to be post-racial. I suspect that the only thing holding the party regulars back is the fear that a chairman friendly to the tea party folks gets control.

    Finally, if you really want to get with the doomsday gloom, I can easily imagine the current Israeli government deciding that Obama is so bogged down they can get away with a fast one and hit Iran.

    Have a nice day!

  15. Well, to be a Pollyanna for a moment, let’s look on the bright side for the Democrats. If this isn’t a wakeup up-call for everyone from the top of the DNC to the most tender shoot of the grassroots that any complacency will be ruthlessly exploited by the Tea Baggers, nothing is.

  16. Craig Ranapia @ #19:

    When you talk about other grass roots-based groups do you use sexual connotations about them as well?

    Using the epithet Tea Baggers does nothing for those opposed to their stand, and simply gives them more reason to work harder against people like you.

    My guess is that the closer we get to the election, the more respect Tea Partiers will end up getting.

    Oh, you’ll have your Olbermann’s griping about them, but that’s kinda what he does, isn’t it?

  17. John Scalzi @ #4: I try to save up mine for actual ends of the world.

    Could you give two actual examples? Be specific and provide citations, please.

    Chris Gerrib @ #3: Megadittoes.

  18. The Gray Area, that was kinda my point. See post 19.
    Although there are too many willing to take it literally.
    The only universe I care about is the one I live in. This me not the infinite other me’s.
    We didn’t evolve, we were DESIGNED! No really, we were. wink wink.

  19. The major reason Brown won was the Coakley was an arrogant and ignorant candidate. It seems that she believed that the Ted Kennedy anointing was all she needed to win.

    I think if the Dems just do a straight pass through and vote for the existing Senate version of health care reform that it will be a non-issue in 6 months. But, of course, they’re Democrats. And who ever thought that the Democrats would exercise simple common sense. It looks like Obama already doing his let’s-back-off and sing kumbaya. Can anyone help find a way for the Democratic Party grow a spine? I’m talking about the leadership, not us “followers”.

    Possible plural for apocalypse – apocalypti?

  20. Hmm. I think it’s apokalypsos in Greek, so the plural would be…apokalypsoi, maybe? I’ll ask somebody who knows.

  21. Lubert at # 16: Dead on.

    The Democrats have been losing the indepedents for months. They have to regain the center. Without cutting back to the center, Obama will continue to rack up defeats and will visit disaster upon his party come November. So sayeth my crystal ball.

    Find out what the 20 most ‘liberal’ Republican senators will accept, including Brown, and pass health care reform by a bi-partisan landslide. If they instead try to pick up one or two senators, to beat the filibuster, then Democrats and, the 1-2 liberal Republicans who allowed themselves to be picked off, will be slaughtered come November.

    If Obama really wants to shore up the center, he’ll accept a modest health care reform plan (steal the Republicans’ version and tweak it, that’ll cause heads to explode), focus on balancing the budget and accelerate moving the country to energy indendence (complete with solar, wind, off shore drilling and NUCLEAR power). If he does that, the independents (and quite a few not-so idealogical Republicans) will be more supportive of him and his party. If he wants to pour salt into the wounds of conservative Republicans, he’ll push to end Gitmo (faster), don’t ask don’t tell and DOMA. That should endear him to his base (coupled with solar power and healthcare reform) and the independents won’t care too much.

  22. Crap! Gerrymander beat me to it. :-)

    You know, you’re making me doubt the fundamental idea that My Generation will be The One that Finally Solves Everything. I must be getting old.

  23. I think that party that has a slate of agenda items that will drain freedoms from the people will make some headway. Either that, or that other party with a slightly different slate of agenda items that will drain freedoms from the people will make headway.

    Oh yeah, there will be talk that the fed-up will withhold their votes in large numbers on both sides, but, ultimately, they’ll fall in line out of fear, FEAR I SAY, that those evil other guys will enforce their slate.

    Primaries are a different story. There’s a chance that good people can win the 2010 primaries. The primaries are all that matter. If that passes and establishment D and R candidates get on the ballots, what happens after that doesn’t matter – just more of the same.

    And, yes, some good people are running across the country in the 2010 primaries. It’s an uphill battle against the establishment, but the good guys are making a dent this time. Real grassroots efforts have had an incredible boost in coordination and staying power thanks to the internet.

    Nevertheless, most of the 2010 primaries will go to establishment candidates. We’ll have more of the same with the establishment running things at least until 2014. If there’s a chance for change at all, it will happen by 2014.

  24. Lubert Das@20:

    Let me apply some salve to your wounded sensibilities. I will mock without mercy, or apology, the kind of people who casually equate President Obama to Adolf Hitler, spread lies about “death panels” and think pathologically dishonest cretins like Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are serious political commentators rather than clowns.

    Meanwhile, pardon me if I’ve no interest in getting a patronising lecture on good manners from the kind of people who dish this kind of shit:


    Yes, on Glenn Beck’s planet Scott Brown (!) is a heartbeat away from raping and murdering an intern because of a pretty lame and tasteless gag in his nationally televised victory speech about his daughters being “available”.

    However, I can’t find any outrage from that sewer about Pat Robertson opining that the victims of the tragedy in Haiti was divine payback for their slave ancestors consorting with Satan to win their freedom.

    Lubert – you and the rest of the Tea Baggers want my respect? Earn it.

  25. Canadian here. My healthcare is fine, thank you.

    Just thought I’d offer my condolences on your loss, Democrats. From here it looks like no one knew that there was a ball to drop. Better luck next time.

    And I’m sorry, Republicans, but I can”t congratulate the party because Mr. Brown assiduously avoided the Republican brand. And he posed naked in a magazine, where are your family values?

    So , congratulations, Senator Brown(TB-MA)!

    There is a question that’s been bugging me for a while so I’ll just lay it on the table for one and all.

    Why don’t you want single-payer healthcare, America?


  26. Hi Chris at 30: You are absolutely right. The MA Senate race was a victory for indepedents. The Republicans benefitted, obviously, but the Republican ‘brand’ was not the winner as opposed to the Democratic brand being the loser.

    As to the opposition to single-payor health care, personally speaking I oppose it on many different levels. I’ll try to ennumerate them, off the cuff:

    1. The Golden Rule- He who has the gold makes the rules. Under a single payor, there will be one rule maker, the government. I dislike the idea of the government determining what resources will be directed to health care patients in general and me specifically.

    2. The inevitable double standard- Single payor will not result in even handed application of health care benefits. The political classes, the connected, the powerful will benefit more than the Joe six-pack working man. I understand that occurs currently, but it is especially distasteful to me if the government (which is supposed to be in the business of equal justice, equal in the eyes of the law) is the entity making the backroom deals.

    3. Political vs. Economic rights- I personally believe that as an American, the government is in the business of protecting our negative liberties (i.e. political/civil freedoms). The healthcare reform is specifically an advance of positive liberties, namely the government is obligated to provide you $ as opposed to staying out of your life.

    4. Cost- We are deep in debt. The health care bill will just add to that. It only passes muster with the CBO because it projects 10 years of tax revenues but only provides 6 years of benefits. Get back to me when the budget is balanced, debt paid and we have a surplus that can be spent on expanding healthcare.

    5. Corporate welfare- The Senate bill morphed from a possibly noble objective to being corporate welfare for insurance companies and pharmaceuticals.

    6. Process- The various bribes to collect the votes, the backroom deals, etc. tainted the whole process. If you want me to believe something is a good deal, you shouldn’t have to buy off your own party to get the votes to pass the darn thing.

    Those are just off the cuff. Some may be more applicable than others and I may have more reasons if I gave it some thought.

  27. come back to the political center from their current far-left dwelling place

    Seriously, what? “Far left”? Believe me, here in California we get us some “far left”, and the party of Obama ain’t it.

    There’s a phenomenon whose official psychology name I forget where the more extreme a person’s views are, the more distorted a view they have of anyone less extreme than they are. That’s the only explanation I can fathom for thinking that, e.g., card check is a “far left” proposal. Certainly it’s unpopular with the business wing of the Republican party, but “far left”? Really? Go down to a construction site and tell a pickup-driving, hard-hat-wearing, Palin-approving union electrician that card check is a dirty hippie trick and see how far you get.

  28. 7. Religion- I am pro-life. The Senate bill was anathema to pro-lifers. I think that accounts for roughly 1/3 of the country.

    8. Effiecancy- The government is not generally considered an efficient provider of goods and services. Based on their track record, I am not sure that many feel comfortable turning 1/6 of the economy over to its care.

  29. Yep a lot can happen in ten months, much of it unforeseen, and that which is likely will be ignored until it is upon us.

    Party immaterial, those in power often only want to stay in power, and expand that power.

    There is no”Party for the People”, every elected official should have a sword hanging over their heads at all times to remind them of that. they take what we power we give them but always seek more. We should give them as little as possible, few of them are smart enough, or honest enough to use it wisely, that is why government should be small and local as much as possible. It’s easy for the faceless many in DC to put policies in place that interfere in our lives, they don’t see us, we don’t see them.
    It’s harder for State reps, county officials, the mayor, and the local Board of Supes to hide from their constituents.

    Outside of National Defense and treaties, at 0530 before coffee, I can’t think of too much that the Feds can do that can’t be done better by letting the states decide.

  30. Damn cheap irony meters!
    If I got this right, you don’t want single-payer because it would deprive you of your freedom. To do what exactly?
    Die from lack of health care as 45,000 of your countrymen do every year?
    Or get, sick, go bankrupt and then die because your insurance company won’t pay for something that you need?
    Well, then Scott Brown is your man because he’ll fight to let you have that freedom and when he loses the next election he’ll go straight to a cushy lobbying job. And you still won’t have affordable reliable health insurance.
    But you’ll have your freedom, so I guess that’s OK.

  31. Chris at 35: Wow. I thought people had given up on that 45,000/year bogus statistic.

    If your interested, here is a very basic problem with that study. http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/thecleverbulldog/2009/09/lies-statistics-and-the-45000.php

    In all seriousness, I came up with 8 points as to why people might oppose healthcare. Agree or disagree, they are points which need to be addressed if you want to reverse the current trend in opposition to what’s coming out of Washington. Or not, in which case nothing will be passed.

  32. @stevem I have a HUGE problem with your priorities, namely in that your points #3 and #7 are in direct opposition to one another.

    #3 is “I want the government to let me do what I want.”

    #7 is “I want those who belong to a group that I don’t (women) to do what I want them to.”

    So for #3 you want to remain independent of the government, yet #7 indicates you believe your opinion should prevail over others’. I find this conflicting.

    In addition, you will never, ever get #4 because your country will never, ever be out of debt unless Americans stop complaining about fucking taxes or you get used to really crappy conditions. You can’t expect the government to do what it already does unless the citizens actually pay for it.

    And finally, strangely, #1. You are uncomfortable with the idea of a single entity controlling your health care. Let me tell you how it is in Canada: you get it. No questions, you get healthcare. Canadians pay a relatively small amount of tax for the undoubtable benefit of getting the healthcare you need because YOU ARE A PERSON and society can function for EVERYONE.

    Even the most right-winged politician in Canada would never eliminate government healthcare. Complain about its flaws, sure. But eliminate it? There is no way in hell anyone could even suggest this. Healthcare is a pretty basic responsibility for the government to provide; after all, a country needs living, healthy people, yet some Americans insist on paying for the inevitable accidents of life upfront in one lump sum, or turn to an insurance company which, by the ways, is a lot less friendly than the government but pretty much the same model.

  33. stevem@31:

    I’m not trolling but asking a serious question. You oppose single-payer because it’s an unacceptable intrusion of government on your freedom, but allowing unelected and utterly unaccountable insurance companies to effectively ration your healthcare is some great libertarian victory?

    I was also amused by Rob@34’s highly libertarian idea of State’s Rights. What a shame that the Republican Tea Baggers have quite a record of losing their enthusiasm the moment the states do something they don’t like — like recognising same-sex marriage. (An interesting corollary is how “judicial activism” isn’t so bad when you happen to agree with the decision.)

  34. I’ve had about enough of “interesting”. I’d like some “sensible” now, please.

  35. Stevem@36 Your link led to a post where the author was shredded by better informed commenters. Numbers are beside the point anyway; the fact that anyone dies from lack of health care in “the greatest country in the world” is disgusting.
    In the civilised world health care is seen as a human right not a privilege, and I’ll bet your founding fathers are spinning in their graves over the discussion today.
    But at least you are free to go on ranting about freedom from government interference in your life while you agitate to have the government tell people with uterii what they can do with them.
    You’re so busy doing that that you don’t even realise that you’re just waiting your turn at the corporate slaughterhouse and that’s just the way they want it.
    Is that what you want? Good luck and may your god go with you.

  36. I see Brown’s win as a statement from the people – plain ole guy on the street – who are fed up with all the lies and flimflam of politicians. They don’t care what party you’re from at this point, they want someone who will represent them. Not a political party, not a special interest, but the majority of the people of the state the are supposed to REPRESENT.

    This, I think is what the Tea Party is all about, they, we, I – am sick and tired of elite politicians thinking they run things. They don’t, or they aren’t supposed to, WE are.

    This of course is my view. I really look askance at anyone running for anything now. I am as angry at the Republican party as I am at the Democratic party. I want them all gone. Clean slate and start over.

  37. Unreal at 37: Some of the 8 apply to me, personally. Others do not (or at least not to the same degree as others). Of the 8 things I could think of, those items are what need to be addressed, in some way, shape or form, in order to reach a broad consensus on health care in the current climate.

    As to nos. 3 and 7 being in conflict, that depends on whether one: classifies an unborn child/fetus as a human being or not (as you have the right to do what you like up until you try to harm another person); and/or, views people as being accountable for their actions (i.e. sex might result in a baby, so caveat emptor). Obviously there are exceptions in both categories, such as: 1) your obligation not to harm others does not require you to suffer harm; and/or, 2) you did not enage in a consensual act.

    Craig at 38: I am confused by your post. No. 5 should clue you into how I feel about corporations, including insurance companies. I view the Senate bill as an effort to subsidize insurance and pharmaceutical companies under the guise of “healthcare reform” at the expense of the tax payer. So to the extent that the Senate bill was kaboshed, that was a good thing. There is nothing uniquely libertarian with that viewpoint.

    And I am not a libertarian. I am a conservative with libertarian impulses, or vice-versa, depending on the issue. For example, I have no problem with regulating insurance companies to counter-act their one-sided bargaining power. Another example, I have no problem with citizens being allowed to import drugs from safe countries, such as Canada.

    I do have a problem with the government jumping into bed with corporations for the benefit of the corporation and the politicians. A single payor system would be more honest than the Senate bill, though I still oppose the government taking over healthcare (as compared to regulating the market to the benefit of the consumer). One fosters competition and the other does not.

    Chris at 40: I guess we have a differing opinion on how far the government should go to “protect” its citizens and in what ways it should go about protecting them.

    And thank you for your good wishes. All the best.

  38. Tibby@41:
    I see Brown’s win as a statement from the people – plain ole guy on the street – who are fed up with all the lies and flimflam of politicians.

    So you Tea Baggers went for Scott Brown — who has been a politician for fifteen years and whose actual voting record is in rather sharp contrast to his anti-Government pandering on the campaign trail?

    Oh boy – things are going to get ugly when Brown realises he’s going to have to be a lot more moderate than the Beck-Limbaugh-Palin Axis of Idiots if he wants to be more than a one-term wonder… After all, populist rage is such a fickle beast.

  39. Craig, see you miss the whole point. I don’t expect Brown to be perfect, and I don’t have to call people derogatory names when I try to explain things. I try to use reason and logic. You rite real purty, but you aren’t offering up solutions, you’re simply sniping.
    I do expect Brown to listen to his constituents, and while I might not agree with everything he does, I do expect him to understand compromise – and that the good of the country, not the good of his pocket is more important. I don’t expect him to do a 360 as soon as he hits DC. Sure it could happen. But I think it might surprise you where I stand, coz where I stand is pretty much in the middle, and I’m not alone. I’m tired of the same old same old, my friends are, my co-workers are, most of my family are too. A goodly portion of us out here are. And if you don’t think we (you just as much as I) are getting screwed just as bad by the Democratic congress as the last congress, you are deluding yourself. But go ahead, your problem, not mine. I’ll continue to try and get someone I feel listens a little better than you and the current group of congress critters.

  40. Tibby:

    All I got from you was a load of tiresome boilerplate, and the same dish over again with a side of being patronising isn’t any more appetising.

    When it comes to “offering solutions,” I’ll give full credit where to Brown if his voting record in the Senate reflects his pretty moderate one as a state legislator rather than his campaign rhetoric. If so, I wish him all the best in staring down a leadership whose only apparent ruling principle is to destroy the President by any means. I also hope he’s going to stay strong when the smear machine turns on him, because he’s going to need it.

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