Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Petty Complaining 1

Yes, this is petty. But so what? He deserves it. Charles Krauthammer:
This is entirely about politics. It’s Phase 2 of the 2012 campaign. The election returned him to office. The fiscal cliff negotiations are designed to break the Republican opposition and grant him political supremacy, something he thinks he earned with his landslide 2.8-point victory margin on Election Day.
"Landslide 2.8 point victory"?  Well, no. Krauthammer does link to the WaPo election map, but it hasn't been updated. David Wasserman's spreadsheet, however, tells us that Barack Obama's lead over Mitt Romney is currently 3.65 percentage points.

Krauthammer's sneering reference to Obama's "landslide" is both wrong and silly. "Landslide" is subjective, and I wouldn't use that, but it was a pretty solid win, probably winding up close to 4 percentage points when all is said and done (the remaining votes to be counted are thought to be mostly in NYC). The electoral college win was even larger, not only in the number of electoral votes but in the across-the-board margin (about 5.4 percentage points) needed to flip the election. It was certainly a much more substantial win than, say, either of George W. Bush's, and I don't recall Krauthammer insisting that Bush should practice restraint because of his narrow wins. Nor do I see Krauthammer mentioning anything at all about John Boehner's own landslide win, which was purchased with over a million Republican votes fewer than Democratic candidates for the House received.

Regardless: the whole premise is silly. The president is the president, whether by 49 states or by a tiny and highly contested electoral college margin while losing the national vote. They don't automatically (or, for that matter, at all) get "political supremacy," whatever that is, but they get to be president. Just as Republicans get the majority in the House, even though they were outvoted. End of story.


  1. Coates has a piece up on the WaPo's considering a paywall.

    Personally, I'd like to see them get rid of some of their highly paid and crappy content producers, including Krauthammer. Because, as you say, he deserves it.

    We need good, solid conservative writers. But Krauthammer, Rubin, Will (and I'm sure I'm forgetting more then a few) are producing dreck.

    1. Link to Coates piece:

  2. Guess what Krauthammer thought about mandates in November 2004? (More to go up momentarily at my blog).

    Later than most two-term presidents, George Bush got his mandate. To be sure, he did get one on Sept. 11 from Osama bin Laden but, until Tuesday, not from the American people. The bin Laden mandate gave him freedom of action on a very large scale (two wars, the Patriot Act). With it he produced a remarkable success in Afghanistan and a still-unresolved war in Iraq. Above all was the one inescapable if unspoken fact, greatly overlooked in explaining this election: Three years had passed since Sept. 11 and, against all expectations, we had not been attacked again.

    This election was a referendum on Bush's handling of his first, accidental mandate. The endorsement was resounding. First, his electoral college victory was solid. He went over the top without a single state being closely contested. He won all but three with a majority of 7 percentage points or more, and the others -- Ohio by 2.5 points, Nevada by 3 and Florida by 5 -- he won comfortably.

    Second, there was the popular vote. Bush supporters should not gloat too much about the popular vote, given the fact that they lost it last time. Nonetheless, if you have already won the electoral vote, it is okay to talk about the popular vote as a kind of adjunct legitimizer. And a 3.5-million-vote margin is a serious majority.

    1. Just to point out that by the spread sheet in the link JB provides, Obama's lead is about 5m votes. And growing.

  3. Krauthammer is an unprincipled hack.

    There. Much shorter.

  4. Wow, Reflection, you must be some kind of internet genius! Are you using that Google, or something super-secret known only to techies? Can you imagine how embarrassed Krauthammer would be if he knew that his old columns are floating around in a bunch of tubes just waiting to be discovered by someone who knows how to use a computer? Sure, right now that's not very many people, and even fewer use the internet, but someday, it might be possible to cram every single word Krauthammer has ever written right back in his face. I'd sure hate to be him if that day ever comes to pass.

    Or, it could be that Matt's right and the guy's just an unprincipled hack (and lazy too).

  5. Yeah I feel like WaPo has this weird thing about talent where people are either very good or very bad. Oddly enough I feel like that breaks down on a left vs right level too, with the liberals being very good (Klein, Dionne, Greg) and a lot of the conservatives not being good at all. Some of that's probably just my partisan blinders but it's just very strange and I don't feel like other papers have that, I think Douthat is much more interesting to read than Dowd (I guess she's suppose to be liberal) for example. I don't see why Chuckie K gets to be on This Week every other Sunday either.

  6. The "political supremacy" argument is about whether or not the President's win gave him a mandate to enact policy. That's what a lot of Democrats have been arguing with regard to the President's proposed tax hike.

    I think the post-election narrative matters (hence the dispute), though obviously not as much as the win itself.


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