Sad to learn today that all those robocalls weren't actually being made by robots. I guess it would have taken a lot of campaign resources to create an army of robo-Feinsteins and robo-Newsoms. I can't blame them for focusing on other things. I don't blame them. It just would have been so awesome.
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get thee to the polls....
"Were McCain elected to the presidency, he would be the shortest president in 120 years."
John McCain: More of the same. Only shorter.
People say that Sarah Palin was the mayor of a 9,000-person Alaskan town until just a few years ago, and that's true. But they're forgetting that Alaskans are like 40 feet tall and covered with hair and they have 20 arms and so really, that's the equivalent of, um, 171,000 normal people.
And people say that John McCain has only met her twice, even though he had all this time to pick his VP, and what's up with that? But they're forgetting that John McCain died 90 years ago in a shipwreck off the coast of Virginia and was found wandering the Arizona desert some 60 years later, and ever since then, he's had a set of mystic powers including some that are brain powers and, like, ESP and whatnot.
And people say that this is a wildly political move designed to pander to a couple of pieces of the electorate that otherwise wouldn't fry an egg on John McCain's hiney at a tanning salon. But those people are weird and that's kind of a gross image. I mean, come on -- yuck.
One reason above all: he has a fired up base. All the more fired up as the choice on the war becomes clear. McCain has a base that's, at best, ambivalent. He's their Lieberman. The betrayer. Independents love that. But the base, not so much. Bush had an army of free volunteers. McCain will have empty offices.....
I think John McCain should be very very careful about giving people the impression that he can see the future.
Remember what happened to the last presidential candidate who pretended to be a witch and/or warlock? When Edmund Muskie claimed he could turn people into frogs? Remember how that turned out?
Not very well for Edmund Muskie, that's how.
And that's all I got.
It's very hot here today. Positively algorial in fact.
If the ceasefire has fully unraveled by the Fall, let me be among the first to predict that the GOP will argue that "the insurgents want [insert Democrat nominee here] to win -- they're insurging to control our election. That's how much they fear John McCain. And yes, a vote against John McCain is a vote for the terrorists."
Lots of noise this week about Obama and the former minister at his church. I'm pro-Obama, so I'm gonna see things through that filter, but I don't think there's substance to the issue. If O. hadn't repeatedly rejected what Wright has said, that'd be different. But he has.
I think most of us like and associate with folks whose political views would look, um, unhelpful repeated over and over on TV. This hits particularly close for me, as many of you know. Heavy sigh.
I have this pal (let's call him "Bill"). Bill believes that for several years now -- since shortly before 9/11 in fact -- Eskimos have been taking the marmalade out of these homemade marmalade jars he makes and replacing them with store-bought marmalade. Now, I didn't choose "Bill" as my friend because of his ignorant theories about the Inuit. In fact, I've repeatedly rejected and denounced his statements.
But he's still my friend.
There's a slow-motion scam being perpetuated by the Clinton campaign and I must speak out.
The short version: Barring a complete Obama meltdown, you know, I know, and the American people know they can't win on elected delegates. So you're increasingly hearing them talk about the popular vote. If Hillary wins the popular vote, they argue, she should be our candidate. And that sounds like a pretty reasonable position. We all went through Florida in 2000. Electoral College? What a crock! Democracy is about one person one vote. If she wins the popular vote, little d democrats should insist she be the nominee, right?
The problem with that canard is that while you can argue "one person, one vote, electoral college, grrr" in the general, the nomination process is different. As we all know way too well, some states caucus, some states run primaries. As we also know, caucusing, like 'em or not, take a much bigger time commitment than pulling the lever in a primary, so the turnout numbers are dramatically depressed.
If the caucus states all have substantially lower vote turnout percentages than their primary bretheren, selecting a nominee by counting the total votes makes votes in a primary state worth a lot more than votes in a caucus state. How do fix that problem with the math? We find a neutral measure that assigns a total # of votes to each state based on their relative size. And yeah, we call those neutral measures "delegates." That's why, in the nomination process, delegates are a much truer measure of "popularity" than the popular vote.
I know the popular vote is popular. We should invite it to parties. We should buy it drinks. We should ask it to sign our yearbooks. We just shouldn't use it to choose our nominee.
I keep hearing the pundits say that the Clinton campaign built their strategy around one result -- a clear victory on Super Tuesday. Then they read these great quotes from the candidate, like this one from back on December 30th: "I'm in it for the long run. It's not a very long run. It'll be over by February 5th." But of course, that's not how things played out, and Clinton and co. has seemed to be floundering -- bouncing from message to message -- ever since.
That is to say, the Clinton camp went into their big battle -- a battle they could see coming months in advance -- without a concrete Plan B, without giving serious strategic thought to the possibility that reality might offer up anything less than mission accomplished. Things didn't break the way they'd hoped. And ever since then, chaos.
Does any of this ring a bell...?
Regular readers of this Extreme Punditry series have probably figured out by now that I'm about as good an election-predictor as my cat Sammy is an umbrella. Which is to say, not very.
Even so, even with my poor track record at this whole election-predicting thing, I'm ready to wander out on that limb one more time and herewith predict that Cecil Vortex will go 100% for...Barack Obama! (Just my luck, Mitt will now come through with an upset.)
In terms of the other gazillion folks voting today, it feels like McCain will have a great day, with the possible exception of a California upset for Romney. Clinton will win several more states than Obama, but only a few more delegates. I'm going to say, um, a 53%/47% delegate swing in Clinton's favor. Slight edge for Clinton in the press spin. And the race goes on.
Any other predictions out there?
Yes, and here we are, Fl primary day, and I'm sticking with Mitt in first, Johnny Mac a close second, despite the guv's endorsement, and Rudy outta the race by tomorrow.
Any other other calls out there?
If you've been following this race obsessively, you prolly already know that Michigan was stipped of its delegates to the Dem convention for moving their election date up against party rules. Hillary ended up being the only candidate on the ballot. And yes she won. I get a big kick out of the way her advisers routinely roll that victory into her legit string victories. Are they fooling folks with this? I guess. Still, even they must know how lame it all is.
All of which brings us to Florida, which is in the same boat as Michigan -- no Dem delegates. Despite that, the Clinton campaign has been pitching woo there, most recently by arguing over the last few days that their delegates should be reinstated. And yes, she's going to win big in Florida this Tuesday. And it'll mean nothing delegate-wise, but their hope is that the media will still turn it into a "Hillary's back" story.
The very latest twist in all this is that, despite the fact that the candidates are not supposed to be campaigning in these states, she'll actually be in Florida election eve. One assumes that's so she can give a victory speech in this delegate-free primary. All of which leads us to this lovely quote from Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton:
"If the Clinton campaign's southern strength rests on the outcome in a state where they're the only ones competing, that should give Democrats deep pause."
This interesting column from the LA Times sums up my feelings this week about the Clintons. The trigger for me was watching the most recent debate. In particular, it was watching Hillary in the first half of the debate say things about Obama she knew were broad, already-refuted mischaracterizations, often with a grin.
We may have to settle for that approach to politics. But I'd rather not.
It's a dash of a day, but there's always time to go on record. I'm saying Obama, Clinton, then Edwards in SC (shooting down Edwards chance at an upset 2nd place finish) with Obama winning by 8 points or better and cleaning up in SC delegates.
Meanwhile, in FL I'm once again going with Mitt who, frankly, has treated me shabbily so far in these predictions and owes me one. Johnny Mac a close second. Rudy outta the race before the 5th.
Any other other calls out there?
Update: In a new low, it appears I didn't even predict the day of the GOP FL primary correctly. It's not today, it's next Tuesday. Boy, wotta mess. Unless... Unless... Unless I did that on purpose to your lower expectations of my oracular accuracy (aka my "oracuracy")? Oooooh, I am clever.
Three tough races to call today -- South Carolina and Nevada for the GOP and Nevada for the Dems. I'm gonna go Huckabee in SC (Evangelicals slog through the rain and snow), with McCain a close second. Thompson comes in third and is finally allowed to quit the race. Romney takes Nevada for the GOP with Fred Paul in second. Nobody particularly cares except Romney, who bursts into song on national TV ("you say Nevada, I say Nevahdah") to mixed reviews.
Clinton leads in the polls in Nevada, Obama has a little more union juice. I'm going with my heart and picking Obama, because yes, yes it's true. I want it to be so.
Update: Once again I look to John Edwards for inspiration. This is a marathon, I say, a marathon, not a sprint, sez Edwards. Yes. That's what this is. This is a marathon that I am losing badly.
So I blew SC, flubbed Nevada Dems, and only got Nevada GOP right, which was a gimme. Still, America insists that I continue to make these shoddy calls and I will not let America down.
The Republicans have their big Michigan primary today. Some say Romney needs to win here to stay viable. And yes, I'm going to keep betting on Romney. Just try and stop from betting on Romney. You can't do it. My Romney-betting impulse is simply too strong. And you are too weak.
If he actually wins, the thing I'm wrestling with is what does he say? He can't flat out say "I'm the comeback kid" because he's been claiming to be in the lead with his "two silvers and a gold" line (second place in Iowa and NH, first place in Wyoming).
On the other hand, he's going to really want to say, "I'm the comeback kid!" because politicians love to say that phrase. It makes them feel like they're gruff, likable, wild west outlaws. Like, you know, "Butch Cassidy and the Comeback Kid."
The best I can figure is that either he'll say, "change change, kid this is comeback personal." Or possibly, "come change back kid personal personal Romney!" Or maybe even, "Romney Romney Romney my dad I am Barack Obama." Whichever he runs with you, you're going to be emotionally impacted. Brace for it.
Also, I'm going with two "dear friends" and three "my friends" for McCain in his quasi-concession speech.
Any other calls?
Update: It's true what they say -- a stopped watch is right twice a day!
OK, the people of New Hampshire have spoken. Their message: I am a crappy prognosticator. And yes, I have heard them loud and clear, but I'm not done fighting! Much like John Edwards, I will continue to get my butt kicked all the way to the convention!
In other news, I'll confess I was shocked when Romney came out of Iowa saying "I'm the outsider candidate of change." Clearly, he had seen what worked for Huckabee and Obama, and was baldly swiping their message.
Anyways, because of that, I was much less shocked tonight when, in his concession speech, he said, "Hi, my name is John McCain and/or Hillary Clinton." You really have to respect somebody that straightfoward.
I'm doubling down today -- echoing my Iowa call by tagging New Hampshire as Obama and, yes, Mitt Romney country. I'm going against the polls a little on Romney, figuring Obama will draw the independents away from McCain. Also, McCain's snickering digs in the ABC debate undermined his all-American-hero brand. But it'll be close.
I'm also going with one "dear friends" and four "my friends" in McCain's speech tonight.
Any other calls out there....?
Update: I'm not looking like a particularly great prognosticator at this point. In fact, I may have gotten it precisely wrong, if independents went for McCain in waves and left Obama in the lurch... But I still think I'll do well in the "dear friends"/"my friends" derby.
Susan Estrich, on Fox last night, put out an interesting piece of misinformation, asking "When was the last time a first-time Democract won Iowa and went on to win the presidency." The answer, it turns out, is 1976 (forgetting for a moment the oddity that in '76 Carter was actually beaten by "uncommitted).
Her implication was that Obama's victory isn't significant because the Iowa winner almost always loses. "Wow -- so I guess Iowa doesn't really matter does it? Good to know." Um. Not quite.
One thought this happy night. I think this is (even) bigger than race. The pundits are underpunditizing(tm) this thing when they make that the focus. The impulse to support Obama comes from a massive hunger to stop the madness, to save this country, to tame all those hatreds, to learn the lessons of Bosnia and Serbia and Shiites and Sunnis, to dig deep and steer this raft away from the waterfall. We can hear the waterfall. We can see the spray. Dig deep.
OK, two more thoughts:
I was thinking the other day (and as an aside, shouldn't virtually all blog entries really start that way?), that both the Democratic and Republican parties are driven by the strong desire to learn the lessons of the 1930s -- to avoid the catastrophic mistakes that led to World War II. The Republicans are afraid of the U.S. becoming Neville Chamberlain's England -- the infamous appeaser state. Meanwhile, we Democrats are afraid of the U.S. trying really hard to avoid becoming Neville Chamberlain's England and in the process becoming Germany.
So, basically, we're afraid of Republicans.
(And this, by the way, is why I heart Obama. My fondest wish for this election is a leader who doesn't fear or dislike half the country.)
Happy new years to ya,