Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Elsewhere, and Housekeeping

Over at PP today, I did a bit of evening out; I've been mostly hitting Republicans for ignoring reasonable expectations for the election this cycle, but this time I was able to take a shot at a Democrat who is doing the same thing. Of course, the incentives are if anything even stronger for Democrats: if they believe that the economy should make Obama a big loser, then they can believe, as Robert Reich does in the piece I quote over there, that Americans have suddenly woken up and become convinced that Democrats are correct about everything and Republicans are wrong about everything. Of course, that's just as wrong this time around as it was in the other direction in 2010, or for that matter in the Democrats' direction in 2008.

Meanwhile, just a quick housekeeping note: I just noticed that a half-dozen or so perfectly good comments over the last few weeks had fallen into the spam filter. Restored, for whatever that's worth. My apologies -- and I should note that I won't zap anything without saying something (and I very, very rarely have zapped anything), so if your post doesn't show up, it's probably the spam filter, and please let me know so that I can do something about it. I'm suppose to check regularly; I don't always manage that.

And that's it for me until Thursday morning. I'll wish a Gmar Chatima Tova to all those who are observing the holiday, and I'm off to observe the day -- for the goyim and non or differently observant Jews, feel free to make this an open thread if there's anything going on, or for that matter if there isn't.


  1. The newspapers are talking about how romney's concerned about framing. "Are we better off than we were four years ago" vs "Can we afford another four years like the last four". Why does the campaign focus on those? Wouldn't any frame they chose look pretty insightful if unemployment were closer to %11? "All chickens should be purple! Vote romney!" and he sails to re-election?

    1. There is a pretty big difference between "are we better now than 4 years ago?" and "Would you like to repeat the last four years?"

      If you start out awful and have decent improve then the answer to the first can be "Hell yes!" while if the trough was low enough the answer to the latter is still "Hell no!"

      In my family four years ago were a time of sickening financial panic, now is a time of cautious optimism. (big win for Obama!) The past four years have also been the worst (financially) for my family in my adult life (boo Obama!).

      I'm not sure that this framing thing matters that much, but I'm pretty partisan...

      Just my 2¢

    2. Romney miscalculated on the "four years ago" question, because 4 years ago last week the financial calamity hit. Before the election, much less the inauguration. And then there's the optics of Romney offering more of the same Bush/Reagan supply-side tax cuts, and deregulation as his plan.

      But on the framing, imagine a counterfactual America where the economy had this fatal flaw based on credit-default swaps.. in a market that didn't collapse until around a year later.

      That's where the "four years ago" framing could have been devastating in the hands of a reasonably capable Republican against the President. Even if Obama got his stimulus before the midterms, and was showing progress...

  2. Hey guys, here's my contribution to this morning's "Read Stuff, You Should"

    At The Monkey Cage, Andrew Gelman compares Romney's "47%" speech to Mondale's 1984 speech calling for raising taxes. They were not "gaffes", they were unpopular positions overall that were popular with their immediate audiences.


  3. Enough about this American political circus! Up north icon scion Justin Trudeau is throwing his hat in the ring for the leadership of the Canadian liberal party. Trudeau will be competing against political gadfly Deborah Coyne in that race; Coyne was the long-time lover of Trudeau's dad and mum of Trudeau's half-sister four/fifths times removed, or something like that. Also in that race is 'some guy'.

    I know, I know, political science experts, 'some guy' has no shot against the powerful machine that is the Trudeau brand in Canada. Heck, 'some guy' would probably have trouble defeating his anonymous neighbor.

    But I'm all about brio from little people in the face of entrenched institutional interests, so here's to you, 'some guy', and here's hoping you inspire 'some other guy' before inevitably slipping back into oblivion.

  4. According to Greg that new ad where the Mittster talks at the camera for a whole minute is Team Romney's new strategy "[the] new ad the Romney campaign rolled out today will begin airing at full throttle in all of Romney’s media markets in nine swing states, and it will be the only Romney ad running in them." Seems like team Romney is dumping the previous messaging (Obama is terrible, Obama is weak, Obama is responsible for everything) to one where they are trying to soften Mitt's image (it reminded Kilgore or Bush the Elder reading a talking point word for word at a event in New Hampshire back in '92, "Message: I Care"). I do think this a good indication of a sense of desperation in Boston.

    @CSH don't worry, less than 6 weeks to go of the circus, then you can take a week off and then we can start talking about Hillary vs Ryan.

    1. I saw that too. How awesome would it be if Limbaugh jumped on Romney now and called him a traitor?

    2. Turns out Romney even screwed up on his big comeback ad. Garance Franke-Ruta over at The Atlantic picked up that during the pitch, Romney tells the viewers

      "President Obama and I both care about poor and middle-class families. The difference is my policies will make things better for them."


      Even when trying to summon his most sincere feelings, the 47% are still "them".

  5. G'mar chatima tova, JB.

    @CSH - very interested to see if Justin Trudeau can revive the moribund federal Grits in Canada.

    @longwalk - Yep, the 2016 speculation starts the second the networks call the Presidential. I'm wondering whether Ron Gunzburger over at Politics1 already has his P2016 page ready to go live.

    1. Heck, I'd say the 2016 race has already started. It started on the Dem side back in, oh, 2010ish. Not too much, mind you, but if we were to dig, I imagine we'd find stories of Cuomo talking to IA Dems and such. The speculation on Hillary running (outside of the fever swamp of Dick Morris' brain, where he is ALWAYS thinking that) started probably last year sometime? (I seem to recall seeing something about it)

      For the Rs, they needed to keep their powder dry for a while, just because Romney might have won. However, the speculation was already out there. The Christie boomlet was tongue-in-cheek saying "if not now, then 2016!" and I know I've seen stuff on Jeb 2016 and Rubio 2016.

      Bill Clinton started running for president sometime around 1960. I find nothing wrong with speculation and the parlor game. I remember that my 2012 speculation from long ago featured Palin, Huck, Romney, Barbour and others (don't think I included any of the also-rans that Romney actually faced, but it MIGHT have included Perry). I remember my prediction being "I have no idea, because every one of these candidates is fatally flawed and faces a veto constituency." Interesting to see how Romney's flaws as I saw them (Mormon, Romneycare, moderate pretending to be conservative) didn't end up disqualifying him. The weak field (from which SOMEBODY had to win)? Maybe. My own estimation being bad? Probably more likely.

    2. Oh, but the perception that Romney is toast is leading to 2016 speculation now, to be sure.


    3. @Jarvis, no kidding. I think Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley spoke at the JJ (Jefferson-Jackson for you Libertarians) Dinner in Iowa this year. He of course begged off questions about if he might run for president in 2016. Of course he wasn't thinking about that, oh no, he was just trying to drive to Annapolis and somehow ended up in Iowa. And to second your Bill Clinton point, Bob Dole started running for President the day after election day in 1976 and spent the next 20 years going after that (among other things), while Ronnie threw his hat into the ring against Nixon back in '68 as well. So I guess we can all look forward to the Thune era of American politics in 2024 or so.

  6. Now that the news is beginning to pre-game the debates, it has me wondering what kind of wacky tactics Romney is going to use to "win." He's been putting pretty much all his hope on a strong debate performance (to the bewilderment of political scientists). So that means he's going to do something awesome, right? Trap Obama in some kind of verbal headlock? I really actually have no idea what Romney could say or do to make a big splash. What do you guys think?

    1. Obama's strategy is simple: Don't make any big mistakes.

      Romney's strategy is harder: Either hope Obama makes a big mistake, or try to force him to make a big mistake. Since the first path doesn't allow Romney to do anything, he'll probably choose the second. Unfortunately, that approach will probably look really bad to viewers at home, and plays against Romney's primary debate experiences of disengagement -- mostly floating above the fray while the other candidates tore each other, and the moderators, apart.

  7. I wonder if there's any way to suss out marginal voter alienation at the weirdly secretive, conspiratorial nature of the Romney campaign. The missing tax returns, obviously. The lack of specificity, even by the low standards for a challenger in his position. "Them", mentioned by JS above. The widely-held perception that the Mormon Church has long secretly plotted the establishment of their own nation out west. Even the implied upshot of the famous 47% quote, namely "Lean in close, fellow rich guys, so the help doesn't hear...the lower 47%? Screw them".

    Even when Romney dismisses bad polls, he finishes with an opaque urgency of "I don't care what polls say! I just have to make sure I become the next President!". Do casual voters notice all that? Are they put off by it, perhaps more so than we nerds whose heads are dug deeper into apparent policy differences?

    Strange to step back a second, and imagine us in this forum 40 years ago, looking way forward to 2012, and how the 2012 election would pit the son of one of the great heroes of the American auto industry against a black dude from Hawaii by way of Kenyan ancestry who possibly holds some socialist-lite views. We might further have noted that one of those guys seemed like someone we'd enjoy having a beer with, while the other seemed really alien to us.

    Yeah, we would've all been wrong about which guy was which. Interesting.


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