Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Anthony Stewart Head, 59.

1. Brendan Nyhan also wrote about parties, third parties, and change yesterday. His is really good, and has numbered points. I think it's shorter than mine, too. Did I mention it's really good?

2. Also excellent: Seth Masket on ideology and the GOP. I agree with his main point that Republicans are not in any extreme electoral danger over extremism, although I do think it's very possible that their lousy image cost them a bit in 2012. But Obama's margin of victory was too large to attribute to GOP extremism, especially when objective factors were on the Democrats' side. What I've been saying is that what's wrong with the GOP (and surely there is something wrong) matters much more to governing than to elections.

3. Think tanks can make you rich. Hey, if anyone wants me, I'll do it for less! Ken Silverstein reports.

4. Nate Silver thinks about where Marco Rubio is on an ideology, and how that fits for GOP WH 2016.

5. And Alyssa Rosenberg on the movies, making a point about our topsy-turvy world: we're well on the way to a time in which everyone watches TV shows on their own schedules, but movies are watched at almost the same time (that is, on the night or at least the weekend that they open). 


  1. I think Rosenberg underrates the public space of the theater. Yes, the debate that follows a cultural event (like Girls, for instance) will exist regardless of the physical space of the theater and size of the screen. But what a theater does offer is its own critical judgment on what's worth seeing, Q&A's and other events that cross social lines (to some extent), and a public, focused viewing experience that is worlds away from Netflix's viewer controlled model. When you are in a theater, you cannot pause the projector. Your desires (and daydreams) are subjugated in favor of the collective decision to watch the reel unspool (in a non-digital theater, that is). Instead of choosing among recommendations generated by an imperfect algorithm, you engage the taste of local cinefiles and perhaps even a curator. All these aspects of watching movies in a theater makes that experience more small-d democratic than anything you see in the comfort of your own home. And quite honestly, any film made before the year 2000 was meant to be seen on a large screen. It's a cramped and hollow imitation to watch at home, even with blu rays.

    1. and the inevitable:

  2. Re: #2
    Yup, that's the most painful contemporary conclusion for liberals from solid political science research. Republican ideological extremism has not been electorally detrimental, except in a handful of exceptional and largely arbitrary cases.

    For example, Akin and Mourdoch are deemed somehow ideologically "crazier" than other very similar GOP politicians simply because they state a position related to abortion and gender norms that adds some cooky icing but in the grand scheme of things simply reiterates the GOP's committed position. That issue's important, but is it really a more salient ideological issue or better marker than what almost all GOP politicians support under Ryan's budget plan? Point being, none of this election stuff is turning on a coherent assessment of the GOP's ideological commitments.

    Liberals and Democrats keep expecting there to be some line that GOP politicians cross that will make them 'unelectable,' but it's the GOP's electoral resilience that's striking, even as it maintains its strong conservatism and trail-blazes new ideological ventures in, say, (Ayn) Randianism.

  3. Seth Masket bases his speculation about a lack of electoral danger to the GOP on his assumption that the party will tack to the political center. I think the evidence so far is that this is not true.

  4. "What I've been saying is that what's wrong with the GOP (and surely there is something wrong) matters much more to governing than to elections."

    The point is not that the move to the Right alienates *huge* numbers of people who would otherwise vote Republican--it probably doesn't. But alienating a relatively small percentage can be fatal when the electorate is almost equally divided.

    No, that doesn't make the GOP unelectable if there's a "2008 in reverse." But such occasions don't occur very often, and it doesn't seem very prudent for a party to base its electoral strategy on the hope that such a thing occurs at the right time.

    1. No real disagreement here, but just keep in mind that there are a lot of people out there claiming much, much larger effects.

  5. And if anyone wants me I'll do it for less than Jonathan.


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