Cleaning Out Irritating Eye Crust

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Dec 04, 2007 at 10:06


I think it goes without saying that one of the more irritating things to do in the morning is to clean out the crust that forms around your eyes at night. (What is the name for that stuff anyway?) However, as the start of the primary season approaches, reading morning campaign news can be far more irritating. Like this:

National security is still a leading concern for caucus-bound Iowa Republicans and health care is a premier issue for Democrats, a new Des Moines Register poll shows.

However, caucusgoers in both parties share a common thirst for more information on bread-and-butter topics like tax and trade policies and Social Security, according to the Iowa Poll taken last week.

"On all these major issues I wish (the presidential candidates) would come a little stronger with detailed facts," said Dubuque homemaker Annette Lucy, a Republican who took part in the poll of likely caucus participants.

OK, the public, which doesn't know jack about the candidate's plans even on issues like Iraq, thinks the candidate's haven't offered enough details? Really? People, it is called the Internet, and its called campaign websites, where most candidates have released plans of over five pages in length on over a dozen issues. At least a little more clarity is reached later in the article:

"I should do more research myself," said Lucy, a 43-year-old poll participant whose first choice for the Republican presidential nomination is former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson.

Do more research yourself--you think? Also, I guess this demand for more detail makes more sense when it is coming from a supporter of Fred Thompson, the vaguest, least detailed candidate in the entire field, whose candidacy stayed afloat for months precisely because it didn't offer any details.

It isn't just the voters, either. Candidates can be irritating, too:

John Edwards vowed Monday to include Republicans in his Cabinet if he's elected president.(…)

The North Carolina Democrat, who was speaking before a couple of hundred people at Hawkeye Community College, said his policy of encouraging dissent in the Cabinet would set him apart from the current president's practice. "We've seen what happens with Bush, who's surrounded himself with a bunch of 'yes people.' They all tell him how brave he is and how smart he is."

Democratic rival Bill Richardson also has said he would include Republicans in his Cabinet.

Earth to Richardson and Edwards: America is voting for Democrats in order to remove Republicans from powerful governmental positions, such as cabinet posts. And putting Republicans in your cabinet would not distinguish you from Bush, whose cabinet has quite a few Republicans. Having Republicans in the cabinet is part of the problem. At TPM Election Central, Eric Kleefeld muses that this pledge by Edwards "could help him appeal to more independent voters." I disagree. Given that Republicans have a favorable rating of 40% or lower in every poll not taken by Fox this year, and that about 30% of the country self-identifies as Republican, it strikes me that bowing to have Republicans in your cabinet is about the best way I can think of to not appeal to independent voters. This is like those pundits who, one year ago, mystifyingly took the only Congressional election in history where one party, Democrats, did not  lose a single seat in either the House or Senate as a sign that America was demanding bi-partisanship. That strikes me as equivalent to concluding that the performance of the New England Patriots this year means that they are roughly evenly matched with the average NFL team.

And let's finish rinsing the crust out of our eyes with this lovely piece of insight from an Iowa pollster:

As we noted earlier today, the poll was conducted from November 6-18, which makes its results older than the four most recent surveys on our Iowa chart. However, according to ISU political science professor Jim McCormick, who directed the poll, "the biggest explanation for that is the volatility that still exists among those people who are likely to caucus." A better explanation is the poll itself, which is very different than other recent Iowa caucus surveys.(…)

The biggest difference involves the sample. It was drawn from the Iowa Secretary of State's list of registered voters, but unlike every other Iowa poll that I'm aware of, ISU sampled only registered Democrats and Republicans, excluding the 36% of Iowa voters with no party registration.

Here's why that omission is important: In the recent CBS/New York Times survey conducted in early November, registered independents were 19% of Democratic likely caucus goers and 13% of Republicans (and 19% of 2004 Democratic caucus goers, according to the network entrance poll).

The outlying Iowa St. poll entirely excluded self-identified Independents from the sample? WTF? No wonder the poll was so unfavorable toward Obama: it excluded one of his strongest demographics. Perhaps we should leave out other groups that make up one-fifth of the electorate in Iowa, but are favorable to either Edwards or Clinton, and see what happens to Iowa polls. How about we leave out women over the age of 60, and see what happens to Clinton's numbers? Or men who self-identify as moderate or conservative, and see what happens to Edwards's numbers? That makes sense to me.

Phew. It feels nice to get that stuff out of my eyes. Now, I'm ready to tackle the day.

Chris Bowers :: Cleaning Out Irritating Eye Crust

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Haw...Haw....Haw....in my best MId-West accent.... (0.00 / 0)

............those Iowans what a buch of Macaroons as Bugs would say. Them coporatist press tools, low-info Thompson 'supporters', whack-job candeeeeedates all combining to put on quite a show fer us mere mortals here on the edges of the continent!

Nothin' like a chuckle to start the day. Fred Thompson....snort...hurk...hah...hah.......Bwaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.


The voters aren't the problem (4.00 / 2)
Most people still get their campaign coverage from the nightly news shows and CNN, etc., none of which is doing a very good job when it comes to the candidates positions. I'm not surprised voters feel this way.

I'd like to see more substantive coverage of the campaigns; I think most other people would too.

I don't really think this is all the voters' fault, in other words, seeing as many voters are still "figuring out" the Internet.


I Agree 100% (4.00 / 2)
You can't blame a whole population for not realizing how much info is on candidate websites, and for not doing the research themselves.  Even if they did do the research--which the media does nothing to encourage, how easy would it be to make sense of what they find?  The blogosphere is full of people who pick things apart in minute detail, so we fail to appreciate how unusual this is.

It's not a matter of intelligence, it's much more a matter of experience, and having reliable guidance in learning how to decode, analyze and critize an entire discourse that is set up, in large measure, to hide what it is really saying from ordinary people.  And I'm not saying that in any grand conspiratorial sense.  It's just that a discourse that's overwhelmingly shaped by a relatively small set of actors will inherently reflect that fact, and express itself in ways that are--at best--clear and concise for a limited audience precise by virtue of having specialized meanings that are lost on the population as a whole.

It's this sort of encoding of discourse that helps buttress the conventional wisdom on so many issues.  Social Security is a classic example of this.  The plain fact of Social Security's fundamental soundness is not reflected in the language used to discuss Social Security, which is why the Democratic candidates seem so mindlessly woobly on the subject, which should be a slam dunk for them.

So, if--as is the case--a supermajority of voters thinks that the country is headed in the wrong direciton, it makes sense that they distrust the conventional wisdom, and would have an especially hard time reading through the content of campaign websites, because the meta-messages there would come across a lot louder than the messages--and Ron Paul's rejectionist meta-message would resonate far more powerfully than the messages of those who are actually making sounder proposals but doing so in a language that says, "I am not talking to you."

Furthmore, it's much harder for serious candidates to avoid speaking in such off-putting language, since the cues that communicate that attitude are not only unintentional, but often aren't even contained solely within the text they put up on their sites.  Rather, such cues are constantly being created and re-created in the course of the campaign.  That's what the Edwards haircut stories were all about, for cryin' out loud--to taint everything that came out of his mouth.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Well said (4.00 / 2)
As the media continue to consolidate into fewer and fewer hands, we'll see more and more people react by doing their own research on-line.

I also believe that the big media companies are about to slam head-first into a wall they don't realize is coming. The Internet will -- eventually -- eclipse the broadcast and cable media; both are hemorrahaging viewers at the moment.

Someone (perhaps you guys) should think about putting together a BlogTV channel, featuring all the usual suspects. It could start out as a weekly thing, but could eventually become a more reliable source for daily news coverage.

If big media won't do its job, it's up to us on the web to pick up the ball. Josh Marshall (who will eventually be a household name) is an excellent example of this. His Veracifier site could grow into something like a Internet TV network, eventually.

I have a friend in the record business. He's freaking out because he can see the writing on the wall. Bands selling their songs to fans directly via sites like MySpace.com will become the dominant model in years to come. There will be no  A&R guys watering down the music; there will be no distribution companies; artists will be able to place their work directly into the hands of their fans, without a bunch of corporate hacks stealing from them along the way. The big record companies are going to see some very lean times in the near future (as if they aren't already).

The next generation of Internet "killer apps" are staring us in the face, if we have the sense to take advantage of them.


[ Parent ]
it's 2007... (0.00 / 0)
I dissent here. It's 2007. I don't care HOW old you are... the internet is here to stay. So why the hell does one not think "Oh golly oh, the information super highway! let's use that!"... It's not too much of a leap to expect a person of average intelligence to make.

[ Parent ]
Living in Iowa is not an excuse for being stupid (4.00 / 2)
I suppose these people want the candidates to come by their house and sit down and explain their policies to them for a couple of hours?

Including Republicans In The Cabinet Is A Good Idea (4.00 / 1)
But someone should tell Edwards and Richardson that Abe Lincoln and Earl Warren are dead.

Elliot Richardson, too.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


Jim Leach (4.00 / 1)
As secretary of agriculture?

Lincoln Chaffee gave up the ghost and is no longer a Republican. otherwise he might "qualify."  Olympia Snowe?  (we'd have a good chance at the Senate seat)  Arlen Specter as Secretary of the Magic Bullet Theory?

Clinton and FDR had Republicans in their cabinet.  Of course, those were old style Republicans.  They are few and far between.

Sorry to hear this from Edwards.  He's been my choice but I may have to re-evaluate.  Bipartisan does not cut it with me.


[ Parent ]
Old-style Republicans aren't all gone (0.00 / 0)
Moderates are an endangered breed amongst the GOP in congress, but they aren't all so utterly insane. Some who have left congress, like Lowell Weicker or Spencer Abraham, and some in the states might fit the bill.

I would be more concerned about this, but I just don't see why Edwards would appoint any other kind of Republican - the wingnuts would just try to sabotage his administration.

With Richardson, I would be more concerned. I could see his Republican cabinet picks being pure corporate exploitation types.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog


[ Parent ]
Aye (0.00 / 0)
But where would she most line up with Democrats? She's good on abortion and stem cells. Could we put her in charge of Health and Human Services? I think opening up a Senate seat in Maine is worth having a pretty good Republican in a cabinet position. Especially if Tom Allen loses to Collins, because he'd have a damn good shot of winning in an open race.

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.

[ Parent ]
Snowe's ok. (0.00 / 0)
Olympia snowe is all that's left for me...

[ Parent ]
Republican's in the Cabinet (0.00 / 0)
Isn't it standard protocol to include members of the opposition party in one's cabinet? Clinton had several Republicans in his. Wasn't Bush roundly criticized because Norman Mineta was the only Democrat Bush kept around. In fact, I'm constantly hearing people talk about how all he does is surround himself with people who agree with him, ensuring that he hears what he wants to hear. It seems to me like Edwards and Richardson are simply assuring the public that they're not going to shut the other side entirely out of the process. I think this is good politics, good for the country and good for democracy.

I very much hope... (0.00 / 0)
......this is the last time you analogize an aspect of your morning toilet!

I would absolutely include the opposition. (0.00 / 0)
I would include a charismatic, high profile Libertarian, in order to give them a national platform and encourage them to run for higher office later on.

Whether as a spoiler or a "slightly more sane" Republican, either way you win.

The trick is to find the common ground that could have a Libertarian serving in a Democratic cabinet.

You can also make the argument for making an appointment of a Republican Senator in a state with a Democratic governor too.

-C.


I dunno.... (0.00 / 0)

.....I'm a little doubtful. But say, how about Ron Paul for AG. He kin' clean out all the meskins and keep Rahmbo happy!

Yeah...

Right.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.


[ Parent ]
Glad you cleared your eye, Chris (0.00 / 0)
I am not surprised by this comment.  I'm surprised you are startled by it, but I'm not.  I guess it's because I've been following Edwards for a long time, and I remember how he teamed up with Jack Kemp in two different ways:

1) They were co-authors of a CFR report last year on Russian-US Relations (LINK to announcement in 2005).

2) They also launched an anti-poverty program together called the Savers Society.  LINK

Thus, it would not surprise me if Jack Kemp was asked to serve as a cabinet member.  Whether he would accept such an appointment is another story, but he would be approved pretty readily.


fyi, the crusty stuff in the corner of your eye in the am (4.00 / 1)
is dried lacrimal fluid.

Rheum (0.00 / 0)
The name for the stuff

one more reason (0.00 / 0)
i'm starting to think it might be a good idea to require people to pass a political awareness test to even vote.

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