Saturday, November 5, 2011

What Mattered This Week?

Sorry this is up late...Drosselmeyer? Really? Lots of prices today, but I didn't cash a ticket. Should have stayed home and posted What Mattered This Week instead.

The economy as always, with the jobs report numbers, the Fed meeting, and Europe all important.

Did the Herman Cain scandal matter? Well, those of us who did not consider him a plausible nominee didn't believe that Cain's wild week significantly affected his chances of becoming President of the United States. It certainly dominated reporting on the GOP race for a week to this point, with no real sign that it's going away for at least several more days -- and given that we're not all that far from Iowa and New Hampshire, it's possible that it might have some second-order effects on those states.

What do you think mattered this week?


  1. The Cain story mattered because it was a lost week for the Obama Administration and the Dems in Congress to push the jobs fight against the Republicans in the press which couldn't resist the cartoonish Herman Cain.

  2. What's interesting, and potentially relevant, about the Cain scandal is whether it puts paid to a beloved right wing shibboleth. Not permanently, of course - but perhaps while the Cain story has legs.

    That shibboleth is the now-hoary chestnut about Obama as socialist/Kenyan/Muslim usurper. I caught a clip from Rush Limbaugh the other day in which the Excellent One was predictably railing against the politics of racist personal destruction as it applied to the shakedown of Cain. All straight from the playbook; one wonders whether Limbaugh pulled out the 'resentful Negro/Kenyan/anti-colonial' shot at Obama later in the same show?

    There can be little doubt but that when Cain, or at least the scandal, disappears, the Kenyan anti-colonial meme will straight away return in full force on the right-wing airwaves. But while Cain is being held up as the victim of racist provocation, its possible there will be some muting of racist attacks against Obama.

    Considering how long Anita Hill remained in the national consciousness, these Cain troubles may buy Obama quite a bit of time indeed.

    I suspect the political scientists would say that none of this matters, but then latent racism from a disgruntled populace at a sitting, minority President is really uncharted territory. Getting some space from racist attacks (particularly until/if more traditional indicators, e.g. the economy, improve) may be quite helpful to Obama's re-election chances.

  3. Romney made some proposals concerning health care, both of them crappy. 1. Voucherize Medicare but also keep the pay-for-service for those who want it. (This reminds me of Perry's tax reform--keep the complex swiss-cheese system or use the postcard!) 2. Eliminate Title X federal support for birth control for low-income families. These are proposals, so they won't matter this week, but it'll shape the campaign sometime in the future.

  4. Kylopod, thank you for the thoughtful commentary; I agree with most of what you argue. My perception that this will buy Obama space arises in part from my view of racism, which may be a bit more conservative than for many in this community.

    For me, racism begins with the Woody Allen quote "90% of life is showing up". In this context we are racist because we want "looking the part" to look like us. Legislative apartheid makes it illegal for the 'wrong' people to "show up" (access opportunity), while de facto apartheid does the same thing culturally.

    So I see de facto apartheid as a series of tools to make marginalized people not the 'right' ones. One of these tools is to slur Obama as untrustworthy in association with his race; another is to elevate buffoons like Clarence Thomas or Herman Cain to positions of power, as long as they confirm that defacto apartheid doesn't exist...and, anyway, doesn't their very presence in Republican corridors of power prove that de facto apartheid doesn't exist? (wink wink nod nod).

    While I wholeheartedly (and somewhat forlornly) agree that the right wing media will gladly use both tools to perpetuate the system, the tools are - at least intellectually - internally inconsistent. So there is some risk of using them simultaneously, especially if Team Obama figures out how to exploit the inconsistency. Thus the notion that there might be some space for Obama (but this is a moot point for all the reasons you note).

    (Aside to Couves: as much as I have love for Ron Paul or Gary Johnson, particularly as an antidote to some of the wretched excesses of do-goodery liberal interventionism, the Woody Allen quote is a fatal flaw in libertarianism as a normal, governing philosophy in a multicultural society.

    What you're left with in libertarianism is: "90% of life is showing up/we all want to be the type of person that gets to show up/so have at it". Its hard to see how that would be sustainable in a modern multicultural nation. FWIW).

  5. Greece. Agreement then referendum and back to agreement and now confidence vote. While Greece dithers, the markets trembled.

    Last week, I said Policing; this week I'd add to that growing matter with events in Oakland. Seems like we may be on a slippery slope to more violence in the face of political institutions that aren't responding to the people's needs.

  6. I would say that Cain's candidacy matters insofar as it sucks out the air for Perry/paves the road for Romney. Which is to say that it matters in the same way that Ralph Nader mattered in 2000: it prevents an ostensibly natural constituency from cohering together into a winning coalition. Whether Cain is a plausible nominee is irrelevant.

    As for the scandal itself, while it doesn't matter in the sense that it will have much of an effect down the line, it does reveal that sexual harassment is not so off-base to stop a circle-the-wagon party response (though I guess this isn't new information). And it also provides a bit of evidence that GOP party actors would--maybe? possibly?--be fine with a Cain nomination.

  7. Agreed with zic that Greece is important. Not just for economic reasons either; the political ones are just as important if not more so.

    For the first time in a while we're seeing a sizable, mature polity come to grips with its own (intellectual and moral as well as financial) bankruptcy, and currently it seems the response is to allow that proposition to be tested by democratic means. That's very, very unusual and well worth watching because of the ramifications for democracy in a transnational world.

    My own sense is that they won't find their way out of the maze, and the lessons for future elites faced with crises will be to further constrain democracy.

  8. Europe at the top of the list, several months now and still running.

    Corzine's investment bank going under, as a direct result of even the mild proscriptions offered up re Greece. Imagine if they do something real and relevant over there, something other than playing hide the weenie.

    Maybe we're finally starting to rid ourselves of some of these zombie banks, here and abroad. And it'd be good if Corzine does a perp walk and faces the music, as well. I doubt that'll happen.


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