Feeling Frustrated

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Aug 27, 2008 at 13:18


I am feeling really frustrated today. I am sensing that something is wrong with this convention, and that there will be no bounce. I don't know exactly what we need to do to get a bounce, but I do know that we haven't done it yet.

Is it that the Democrats aren't attacking McCain enough? Maybe, but they are attacking him some, and it is certainly an improvement on 2004. Also, it would be a terrible idea for Michelle Obama to personally deliver the negative.

Is it, as I first claimed last night, that they aren't using the same attack? Not really. As many commenters pointed out, there has been a consistent echo of McCain being the same as Bush.

Is it that there isn't a clear, populist message from the convention? Again, I actually think that there is one, and I was just missing it last night. A few months ago, commenter FuzzyDunlop explained Obama's populism, by inserting common phrases from the Obama campaign into a review of On Populist Reason (more in the extended entry):

Chris Bowers :: Feeling Frustrated
The distinctiveness of populism is that it gathers together disparate ideological positions or political demands, and stresses their equivalence in terms of a shared antagonism to a given instance of political power or authority. In other words, populism should be defined by its form rather than its content: it tends to divide (and so simplify) the social field into two distinct camps, championing the "people" over what Laclau variously terms "the dominant ideology," "the dominant bloc" (1977, p. 173), "the institutional system" (2005, p. 73), "an institutionalized 'other'" (2005, p. 117), or even "power" itself (2005, p. 74) "OLD POLITICS" "WASHINGTON SYSTEM". The disparate and heterogeneous demands that constitute any given populist movement are unified and stabilized, Laclau adds in his most recent book, not merely by their opposition to the status quo, but also by the emergence of an "empty signifier," a concept or name ("freedom," "Perón", "CHANGE", "POST-PARTISANSHIP," "HOPE") that loses its own specificity as it stands in for the other specific demands to which it is seen as equivalent.

There is a populist message at the convention: individual Americans versus a system of lobbyists, partisan bickering, fear-based character attacks, old white men and George W. Bush.  It might seem like weak tea and a bit inchoate so far, but it is possible Obama will tie it together, and ramp it up, in his speech.

I have complained about the cognitive dissonance, and I admit that still really bothers me. It is hard for me to be a big partisan and cheer my head off when I am told that partisan bickering is one of the main problems facing the country. It is hard for me to swallow that Democrats have reaped a windfall from corporate lobbyists since taking office, and then to hear about how we have passed great new ethics reforms. It isn't making a lot of analytical or emotional sense.

So, since I am complaining about cognitive dissonance, maybe I don't even know what I am complaining about. Right now, the best I can muster is that the convention just doesn't feel right. Although I might be dangerously treading into "I know it when I see it" territory, I knew after Gore's convention 2000 speech that he would get a bump, while I had a really bad feeling after the 2004 convention. The polling backed me up in both cases.

The tracking polls today show Obama ahead by 1 (Gallup) and behind by 1 (Rasmussen). Remember that this is after more than three days where Democrats, from the VP pick to the convention, have completely dominated news coverage. We haven't gained any ground from last week, and have in fact lost some. That is not a good sign. Call me a hand-wringer or whatever, but I am nervous.

I don't know exactly what we need to do to get a bounce, but I do know that it hasn't happened yet.  


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Feeling Frustrated | 87 comments
Bill, Biden, Obama (4.00 / 4)
If those speeches can really rip McCain and build Obama, I think we'll finally get our bounce. But I agree, so far it doesn't feel right.

Michelle and Hillary did about as well as they could. The press has done us no favors by talking about PUMAs all the time, lots of concern trolling on the air. But when I think back to other successful conventions, it is always the VP speech and the candidate's speech that sticks out and leaves an impression.

So we'll see how we feel after Obama's speech on Thursday.


i agree (4.00 / 1)
I am in great sympathy with Chris (as I noted in comments to a different post of his), but also let's keep hope. Obama's speech tomorrow will be the big thing. It is his chance to define, to explain, to do, basically, everything that is going to define the rest of the race.

One thing you can say about the convention is that there are a lot of different interests there, and I imagine very little coordination between the Kennedys, Clintons, and Obamans.

I remember Kerry's speech ("this is John Kerry, reporting for duty"). I was disgusted by that convention because of its massive glorification of military battle and bloodspilling (I remember literally the word "blood" over and over again.) And, of course, in the end, it did come to define his campaign as he could never escape the aura of phoniness that the GOP had managed to spread over his record.

We'll see what Obama does. Will his speech be defensive, in the ways Kerry's was? Will it hearken back to the progressive movements he came out of? To the kind of populism-polarization you're talking about here (a really great point, IMO)?

We'll see.

Put it another way: it ain't over 'til it's over.


[ Parent ]
Frustrated? .. (4.00 / 2)
this will only make you more so:

http://blog.cleveland.com/open...

relevant quote:The campaign struck this line, addressing Republicans, from Kucinich's speech:

"They're asking for another four years -- in a just world, they'd get 10 to 20."


Stupid Dennis! (4.00 / 4)
His speech should have said, "They're asking for another four years -- in a just world, they'd get 20 to life."

Then he could have bargained down to what he wanted to say in the first place.

"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 ]
Change Brand (0.00 / 0)
Obama's too reluctant to damage his change brand through negative campaigning.

As much as Obama's tried to define the race as a question of past v. future, it seems that the McCain campaign has by far the more contemporary narrative strategy.  In the time and space of McCain's story, he gets to be a rich POW mavericky hero while impugning his opponents patriotism and credentials.  McCain is not uncomfortable with inhabiting many positions at once and defending them, kind of like a Gaddis storyline.

With Obama, we're back in an pre-Victorian setting, more like Jane Austen.  The story develops from basic premises - change, hope - and the characters and action develop logically and sequentially to reinforce the main ideas.  I hope this changes quickly.


[ Parent ]
Conservative Post-Modernism (0.00 / 0)
Ala my diary series, "The Political Duality of Rep and Dem".

Medieval policies and post-modernist rhetoric vs. post-industrial policies and modernist rhetoric.  Neither one is internally coherent.  But the GOP has by far the most effective concoction.

Except, of course, for the 80%+ "wrong track" numbers.  That's a bit of a problem, still.

"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 ]
Joyce was a modernist... (0.00 / 0)
...and I could have used him instead of Gaddis to illustrate my point.  

I wasn't talking about the connection between rhetoric and policy, rather the relation of a candidate to the stories their campaigns tell.  McCain can be in many places at once - maverick, hero, lying attack dog - but Obama seems to respect a bit too much the three unities.  


[ Parent ]
I'm Not Talking Lit-Crit Labels (0.00 / 0)
I'm talking the Kegan categories in diary series I linked to.  A fair number of "modernists" is actually post-modern, IMHO.  Sterne and Joyce are prime examples.

I wasn't talking about the connection between rhetoric and policy, rather the relation of a candidate to the stories their campaigns tell.  McCain can be in many places at once - maverick, hero, lying attack dog - but Obama seems to respect a bit too much the three unities.  

Precisely my point.  At their best, Dems have no problems realizing that very different sorts of problems call for different sorts of solutions.  But they have a hard time selling this, because of their literalist approach to political rhetoric.


"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 ]
You're a hand-wringer (4.00 / 3)
My analysis: if there was an evident bounce in the polls, you would feel no frustration at all.

But I, for one, do not believe that it's reasonable to see a bounce so quickly.  (I think Nate Silver has made the same observation, incidentally.)  In fact, I would go so far as to speculate that we may be past the days where conventions result in any significant bounces.  Perhaps the only singular event that will now cause a large movement is a debate.

Without happy polling evidence, I suppose you are just missing a viscerally satisfying experience.  And maybe that's just a function of witnessing one too many convention.


[ Parent ]
oops (0.00 / 0)
My comment was meant to be a reply to the original diary.

[ Parent ]
Why? (4.00 / 1)
That's what people said after Kerry's convention.  They said "Well, the electorate is really polarized right now... low number of undecideds and a highly polarized electorate mean we get no bounce."

Well, we accepted that at the time.  Alright, no bounce really.  Then the RNC happened and it was the most vile piece of shit ever.  I couldn't imagine they'd get a bounce out of it, and I thought there may have actually been a backlash.

Well, I was extremely wrong.  Bush bounced ahead to an almost 10 point lead, and basically maintained a pretty strong lead until the first debate, where Kerry utterly destroyed him.  That allowed Kerry to basically draw even with Bush again for maybe a couple days, but as Bush's next 2 performances were ok (still pretty crappy, but nothing like the first performance), Bush continued to hold a small lead throughout the rest of the race.  Democrats hoped that a surge in youth turnout and a good share of the undecideds going to Kerry could maybe eke out a win.  Democrats were wrong, and the polls got it pretty close.


[ Parent ]
I think his point is (4.00 / 1)
that it's too early to tell if there is/will be a bounce.

Gallup today believes there will be.

No need to get all depressed yet.


[ Parent ]
Too early to tell (4.00 / 2)
At least Gallup shows the possible signs of a bounce developing. At least a recovery from some lost ground over Biden getting the VP nod which, like others have pointed out, could turn out to be a case of short term pain, long term gain.

Bounce or no bounce (4.00 / 3)
I don't see how anyone can argue that the attacks on McCain have been thorough or effective. I've watched like most Americans have watched, sporadically, making sure to see the big speeches, and no consistent line of attack has been established. Yes, thanks to Hillary, the four-more-years-of-Bush is coming through a little, but the Dems don't seem to understand repetition and emphasis like the GOP does. The GOP convention will show us how to negatively define someone. Every single speaker will say, in one way or another, that Obama isn't ready to be president. At that point from our side there'll be a collective, Oh.

And I'm among those who believe that the Bush's-third-term tactic isn't enough. It's not specific enough to McCain. It doesn't hit his character at the same time that it's too far removed from issues. It doesn't get at the fact that McCain is hairtrigger hothead or an out-of-touch elitist.

I don't know why, despite promises to the contrary, we've having to endure another convention where Dems fail to define their opponent. Maybe it's Obama's reluctance about going negative. Maybe it's that there are too many agendas at work. Whatever the reason, it's a big missed opportunity.



[ Parent ]
Bounce or no bounce is the best way to judge whether it is effective (0.00 / 0)
Those are the people that count. I'll reserve judgment until I see more evidence.

[ Parent ]
And the "we can't afford four more years of the same" theme was present (0.00 / 0)
last night long before Hillary got to the podium. Which is not to denigrate her but a defense of others.

[ Parent ]
They did them all day long yesterday (0.00 / 0)
but in a robotic, lifeless fashion.

Here's why the Republicans are better than this: they are constantly, genuinely pissed off and afraid.

They live in pissy fear. Since our speakers aren't generally angry, they have to act like they're angry, which doesn't always come off as genuine.


[ Parent ]
An example of a lost opportunity (4.00 / 5)
We watched Lilly Ledbetter last night on PBS.  I assume the other outlets didn't show her speech, but regardless...

She recently lost a Supreme Court decision 5-4 on equal pay.  She was consistently given lower raises than her coworkers at Goodyear Tire in Alabama but didn't find out about it for quite some time.  The Supreme Court denied back pay and punitive damages awarded by the lower courts because she didn't petition within 180 days of the first instance of unequal pay.

Ledbetter is no professional speechmaker or politician, but she wasn't too bad at the mike.  At the end, she noted that Ruth Bader Ginsberg's dissent (read from the bench) said that the majority ruling, "was not based in reality."  

Here's the missed opportunity.  Tell the story, then drive the damn point home.  Ledbetter said, "I will never be able to recover my back pay now."  OK.  Good start, but let's continue.  Wouldn't it have been nice if she'd said:

Among the 5 justices in the majority were CJ Roberts and Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion.  If Barack Obama were President, and if we had more Democrats in the Senate, neither of these two judges would have been appointed to our highest court.  John McCain has stated he likes judges like Samuel Alito.  We cannot afford to have more judges like Alito appointed to the Supreme Court and that's what McCain will do.  At the moment, the Supreme Court is not a friend to working people.  Because of Bush's appointees, I will never be able to reclaim my back pay, and corporations will now be able to escape litigation by stalling tactics and hiding the truth.  If you believe in equal pay, if you believe in equal rights, if you believe in workers' rights, you must vote for Democrats and you must vote for Barack Obama.

So I'm not a speech writer either, but you get the point.

I'm beginning to agree with Chris that their is no "conclusion" and overall narrative to the story that the convention is trying to write.  It is more stream of consciousness or Winesburg Ohio.


Narrative is developing (4.00 / 4)
It's the people vs the Predators.  I've just been reading James Galbraith's really excellent, lucid book "The Predator State:  How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too"  (I'll write a review this weekend).  That's who the "enemy" is--the predator class and the Predator State.  Warner's problem is that he's essentially one of them.  But Obama isn't, and neither is Biden.  They will draw the sconomic contrasts.  Bill will rip McCain if only to try to show Obama "how it's done."  But Obama isn't Bill, thankfully.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
People vs Predators (0.00 / 0)
I see that potential just in the line up in the agenda.  Even including Ledbetter indicates some sort of narrative like this.  But geez.  Let's please drive the point home.

[ Parent ]
Not everyone will fill in those blanks (4.00 / 2)
You (and by 'you', I also mean any of us who pay close attention to the subject matter) politicize things that many people see as being more akin to inevitable phenomenon like the weather than issues that are affected by particular politicians and policies. That narrative exists in our heads, but you can't just imply it when you're talking to the general public, you have to come out and *ing say it.

It isn't enough to hope people will infer that Democrats are interested in siding with the public over corporate predators. They have to name, shame, and make it clear they've picked a side. I'm not seeing it, though I haven't since Gore's speech in 2000.

It's a bad idea to make people guess what you mean in politics. As they say regarding getting an audience to remember your presentation: Tell them what you're going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you've told them.


[ Parent ]
Gallup says a bounce is developing... (4.00 / 2)
Obama had a really really crappy day of polling Sunday and particularly Monday.  Who knows why, but he did.  That will stick in the numbers until Friday.

Hillary's speech should hopefully move some more numbers, hopefully in the right way.  And hopefully Bill and Biden tonight can move some more, even.  No one knows who Biden is and they just expected Hillary on the ticket, apparently.  So, he created a negative bounce.  With Hillary's theoretically persuasive speech last night and a strong speech from Biden tonight, hopefully he can convince some more people that he was the right pick.


Not Just the Convention (4.00 / 3)
Things have been seemed off since Obama wrapped up the nomination.  His primary campaign might have been a model of efficiency and effectiveness, but his general election campaign thus far has suffered from a severe lack of focus and an inability to dictate terms.  

First of all, right after knocking out Clinton, Obama made a huge mistake by not taking McCain to task next.  If anything, his general election campaign should have built upon his earlier momentum by explaining why McCain is an unpalatable alternative.  Instead, his campaign spent most of the summer twiddling their thumbs and watching his nomination bounce go down the tubes.  For all the PUMA talk and discussion of Clinton Democrats, these constituencies wouldn't be issues if he had made McCain so radioactive that even people who weren't Obama fans couldn't stomach voting for him.  Instead, his campaign has been a muddled mess of mixed ideals, weak attacks and uncoordinated messages.  

With regard to the convention, my instinctive reaction is that the whole thing feels too focus-grouped, consultant class and intellectual.  I know Obama is an HLS grad and that he's surrounded by some highly intelligent people, but that's part of the problem.  Nuance, hedging, and displaying both sides of an issue are the hallmarks of such an education, and they simply don't work in politics. Just from looking at the daily convention themes, the titles look like they're more or less cribbed from academic conferences or white papers rather than as a means to introduce Obama to America.  The complexity of the arguments and the incoherence of the component parts as displayed by last night's uneven speaking performances simply don't make for good politics.  


Chill out! (0.00 / 0)
Gallup says a bounce may be developing.  Hand-wringing is so unproductive.

polls, schmolls... (0.00 / 0)
As I read somewhere else, we shouldn't be following the polls, the polls should be following us. There's way too much hand-wringing going on in the left blogosphere and quite frankly, I'm tired of it. We need to be energized, we need to be fired up, we need to want to win this election, not sit at home and fret about what we might be doing wrong.

The more we invest into this, the bigger the payoff, sure the polls are about even right now, but as David Plouffe said, "I don't care about national polls."


Not worried (4.00 / 2)
22 Million people watched Michelle, and Hillary gave a speech which is being universally praised by supporters and non-supporters, leading to fun quotes from her delegates saying they are now energized about Obama instead of feeling disappointed and frustrated.

Give it a few days.

"Keep the Faith"


The Hillary Whinners (4.00 / 1)
My frustration with this convention is the Hillary Whiners that just can't give it up.  

Today they interviewed a Clinton delegate who argued that Hillary's speech was so Presidential that the delegates should all see that and vote for Hillary in the roll call.  Come on!!

I would like to see a female President as much as anyone (someday).  However, I think it will be a more meaningful accomplishment when it's a female who worked her way to the top without the benefit of being a first lady first. I  favor  someone like Debbie Stabenow who worked her way up from the bottom with NO husband help.  Indeed, her husband has been a detriment to her career.  



I'm now totally comfortable with PUMAbabies getting as much air time as they want (4.00 / 1)
Hillary indeed gave a great speech last night. Perhaps the only speech that really hit on emotion with a crystal clear message at this convention (no I was not moved by Ted Kennedy).

In fact I think that Hillary's speech was so good and so clear, that any PUMA cry babay still floating around should be given as much air time as possible. The more they talk and whine the more stupid and marginal they seem. I think its finally over for them. Let them go on TV and try to explain why they are going to let McCain get elected despite it being obvious that its against their best interest and that even Hillary says they would have to be crazy to keep acting this way. They have no quarter any more. Let them blather on in the cold.  

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare


[ Parent ]
Agreed. (0.00 / 0)
Two days ago Tweety tore up some PUMAs over the Muslim/foreign-born rumors they were spreading.

This stuff, now that HRC has done her part, only helps.


[ Parent ]
Why would there be a bounce? (4.00 / 1)
I don't see conditions that would support the development of a bounce. Two main reasons:

1. McCain announces his VP pick the day after Obama's big speech. This will blunt the momentum Obama carries from that speech somewhat.

2. The Republican convention is next week.

Combined - and that's important - it means that there will not be time for a convention bounce to develop. A convention bounce requires a few days of the news cycle to be dominated by the candidate who just got nominated, without effective spotlight stealing by his or her opponent. Those conditions don't exist this year.

It is instead much more likely that we will see a McCain bounce. I am personally steeling myself for a 5 point bounce, that will last four or five days after the convention. After Thursday night it will be job #1 of the Obama campaign to minimize McCain's bounce and ensure that if one develops, it is very shortlived.


Not if it's Lieberman (4.00 / 4)
Seriously, McCain is in a real bind.  he can't pick a less experienced VP like Pawlenty, who Biden would cut to mincemeat, let alone a female former head of a corporation whose stock has fallen off.  He's going to have to go with Lieberman or Romney, as they are the only ones with stature left.  (Not that Biden can't skewer both of them too.)  Either pick is going to piss off a good many of the GOP base, and not be too palatable in the South.  There they will have to run a racist campaign that scares people, driving up Af-Am and liberal (there are some there) turnout to record numbers.  There's NO VP pick for McCain that will be exciting to his party.  None.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Question (0.00 / 0)
Why does Romney piss off the GOP base?  My grandmother is a staunch conservative and absolutely LOVED Romney.  In fact, she was going to just stay home and not vote, but if Romney is on McCain's ticket, she'll be at the polls with bells on.  And I'm sure she loved him because some right-wing radio host or another did.  I haven't read much on the topic because frankly I can't stomach right-wing blogs, but is there any sort of polarization that exists between Romney/McCain voters as there did between Clinton/Obama ones?  If so, that scares me about the possibility of a Romney bid.

You owe it to yourself to listen to This American Life's fantastic and common-sense explanation of the economic crisis.

[ Parent ]
Two reasons (4.00 / 2)
First reason is really the same reason most people on the left can't stand him: he's a complete and utter phony.  Just a few years ago he had positions that were completely antithetical to the most important issues of the Republican party (pro-choice, gay-friendly) in order to be the governor of Mass., then he turned a complete 180 degrees on them when he decided to run for President.  It really boils down to a question of "Were you lying then, or are you lying now?"

Reason two: He's a Mormon.  For some evangelicals, this puts him somewhere on the scale between a puppy-kicker and a Satanist.  A lot of the core Mormon beliefs are fairly shocking to devout Christians and are likely to be a lot more resistant to it as they learn more.  From Wikipedia:

The core, distinguishing Latter Day Saint belief is that Joseph Smith, Jr. was a prophet who, like Moses, received revelation and scripture from God.[19] The first such revelation recorded by Smith stated that the original apostolic church was lost after a "Great Apostasy" in the early church. Smith claimed subsequent revelations instructed him to organize[20] the restored church of Jesus Christ and carry it to all the earth.[21] Today, Latter Day Saints (commonly referred to as Mormons) believe their church has the same authority as the church established by Jesus Christ,[22] (authority that they believe other churches lack) that successor apostles to Joseph Smith are also prophets, and that revelation is on-going.[23][24]

Basically, Christianity was wrong for the 1800 years before Joseph Smith came to set it right, and they're still wrong.  Yep, good luck explaining that one to Dobson and Hagee.


[ Parent ]
I agree . . . (0.00 / 0)
those issues seems to have sunk him in New Hampshire (the flips) and Iowa (Evangelicals).  But the Wall Street and the National Review constituencies like him most.

[ Parent ]
Yep (0.00 / 0)
I think the corporate crowd loves him precisely because he seems completely devoid of any core beliefs but money and power.  Kindred spirits and all that.

[ Parent ]
Wall Street? Isn't that in New York City??? (0.00 / 0)
Solidly Clinton County. And even Wall Street Bankers and diehard Pumas combined won't make the big apple a McCain state.

[ Parent ]
To really appreciate Fundy on Fundy pyschodrama (4.00 / 4)
one must go to the Mormon summer pageant in upstate NY and pay witness to the born-agains screaming at the Mormons over bullhorns about how they are going to hell for their false beliefs. then watch a re-enactment of one of the most amateurish religious texts ever written. truly one of the best American experiences an atheist can have. :)

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
As a freakshow-seeking atheist, I would love that! n/t (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
another reason against Romney (0.00 / 0)
Don't forget that dog on the top of the car. I know a lot of apolitical pet-focused people who work for dog-rescue, feral cat neutering, and save the Katrina dogs causes. A PETA ad about Romney's cruelty to animals would get them asking when the election is and where do they go to vote against him.

[ Parent ]
I worry (0.00 / 0)
about Pawlenty, Lieberman and Fiorina (the last most of all).

If he picks Romney we can look forward to repeating the footage of Romney essentially calling McCain a liar in the Florida debate.

I think it will be Romney - and the choice will be underwhelming for a number of reasons.  


[ Parent ]
VP poll dip for McCain? (0.00 / 0)
Yeah, I'm thinking the same thing.  Part of the reason McCain has been able to coast along with his maverick image is that he's done a good job of avoiding public, concrete stances on issues that are important to the theocratic base so he's been able to avoid alienating moderates, even if he's pissed off the religious right.

Now the religious right are demanding an anti-abortion VP candidate, so McCain's stuck choosing between an anti-abortion VP that will drive away moderates, especially moderate women, or a pro-choice VP that will be a huge middle-finger to the religious right.

I just don't see a single VP he could pick that wouldn't anger large chunks of his base.


[ Parent ]
It's not that big a problem (0.00 / 0)
Since McCain is pro-life, it's hard to see how picking a pro-life VP is going to lose him votes.

Besides, a lot of Reagan Democrats he is attracting are either pro-life or simply don't vote on that issue.


[ Parent ]
Not to hear some of them talk about it (0.00 / 0)
Rush Limbaugh, Dobson.  What about the footsoldirs from the very conservative churches?

The thing about McCain is that actuarily, and especially with his POW history, he isn't by any means a lock to finish one term, let alone 2, so his VP could very easily become Pres.  Then it would matter if s/he was pro-choice.  And someone like Carly Fiorina is going to stumble over the more lunatic aspects of the anti-abortion positions, like their hostility to many forms of contraception (e.g. any kind that blocks implantation), just like she may not have known that McCain opposed requiring health plans that cover Viagra to cover contraceptives, because it is such a ridiculous position.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.


[ Parent ]
Moderates (0.00 / 0)
The thing is, a lot of moderates don't actually realize that he's pro-life, or think he's a lot more moderate than he actually is.  Picking a loud and proud pro-lifer who will actively play that position to the base (and the base is demanding it) necessarily runs the risk of making McCain seem too closely tied to religious fundamentalists.

Abortion and preservation of Roe v. Wade is kind of a zero-sum game for him.  The more they play it up, the more they drive away moderates, especially pro-choice, moderate Republican women, and the more they downplay it, the more convinced the fundies will be that it's just more pandering so it could drive down enthusiasm.


[ Parent ]
exactly (0.00 / 0)
A lot of "moderate" people think he's pro choice because the MSM portrays him as moderate and mavericky.

[ Parent ]
I think there was a Clinton supporter backlash to Biden (0.00 / 0)
that will be short lived.

As for the bounce, the networks are only showing one hour live, so the messaging is only being seen by the political junkies watching cable, and even then it's the blah blah by the commentators before the one big speech rather than showing the other speakers --  no one saw Rendell, Patrick, Strickland, Sebelius or Schweitzer last night.  And then the commentators or spewing right wing talking points.

I don't see how any Democrat can win an election in this media climate.  Obama's use of field offices and ramped up targeted registration drives are the only hope.  That and blogs helping to keep the media honest.

John McCain won't insure children


They Really Don't Get It (4.00 / 2)
Look, we've been through a period in which Obama went overseas and (a) the Iraqi president endorsed his Iraq policy, rejecting both Bush and McCain, (b) he drew an enormous crowd for a speech in Berlin, and (c) was welcomed by the European political class as credible and welcome world leader, and instead of this producing a healthy bounce, it signalled the beginning of a slide in the polls, as McCain launched his "celebrity" ad in response.

Now, if that's the sort of political climate we're in, it should have been obvious from the get-go that we could not simply count on a convention bounce from doing a standard "good convention".  (2004 was not such a convention, and I took it for granted we wouldn't see a repeat of that.)  It should have been obvious that we needed to do more.

While some of the pieces have been present--particularly in Michelle and Hillary's speeches--what's been lacking are (1) a small set of core themes coherently integrated throughout all the speeches--with repeated language to make the connections impossible to miss, (2) a specific denunciation of Bush policies and outcomes--from 9/11 to Katrina to Iraq, the embrace of torture as US policy, the serial financial scandals and sky-high oil prices--and John McCain's role as an enabler, and (3) a well-coordinated effort to push back against the Versailles media, which we all knew would be out to stiffle our message.

There seems to have been some effort in the area of (1), though only at a very minimal level, but nothing at all regarding (2) and (3).  Hence, the result so far.

Oh, yeah, one more thing.  I think they're all expecting Obama to hit a home run, so they don't think anyone else needs to do more than get a walk.  Well, Obama hit a home run with his overseas trip, and look how well that turned out.

"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


I thought (4.00 / 2)
the polling showed a bounce after the Europe / Iraq trip.  It just disappated.

[ Parent ]
If you look at what David Plouffe has been saying (0.00 / 0)
Especially here you see that they're not thinking on this level whatsoever. They aren't looking to construct narratives, they're instead hoping a few small-bore moves here and there in a few states will solidify the election for them.

The real problem with this entire general election campaign is that the Obama campaign is determined to replay the last two presidential elections, despite the fact that a very different approach is called for. I am starting to believe they're so ingrained in the methods of the past that they're just not able to adapt to changed circumstances.


[ Parent ]
Couldn't be more wrong (0.00 / 0)
Nowhere does this passage imply that they are disinterested in "constructing narratives".

How the hell do you get that?


[ Parent ]
I Don't Know If They're Not Interested (4.00 / 1)
But they're certainly not focused.  And this is rather surprising given how much effort they put into their narratives of "hope" and "change" during the primary.

But you're 100% correct.  They seem to have forgotten everything they knew so well during the primary.  They're not as bad as Kerry 2004.  They know they have to attack McCain.  They just don't seem to know how.  They stumbled on the answer last week, and raised a lot of hopes, and now this!

"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 ]
It's actually a different approach to narratives.. (4.00 / 3)
...from what I've seen, not unique, but I've never seen it on a National level...

From my perspective, it looks like the campaign is designing/constructing pieces and spreading them out on the table, like a puzzle, not yet connected to each other and not pointing at any one or series of pieces and saying "THIS IS IT! PAY ATTENTION TO ME!".  Daily tracking polls don't really matter if there is a single large shift at some point where all those pieces are brought together.

A big weakness Obama had last week that is gone today...Michelle has a warmth and depth she lacked.  Will htat instantly shift voters to his camp?  Probably not, but it makes a large chunk of women (and others) more receptive to "the other pieces on the table."

The Clinton/dis-unity crap, which has always been crap, is now a more obvious pile of crap.  If the traditional media wasn't so awful and self serving, it would have been disposed of awhile ago.  Another piece on the table...

Over the past 3-4 weeks they have put several pieces on the board contrasting McCain, from his disconnect with family economics to his $500 shoes to his relations with unsavory characters.  Pieces on the table.

Micromanaging daily polling is how campaigns fall apart, they lose focus on the end game to focus on fixing tomorrows polling.  It isn't important.  Play your game and win your votes, deploy organizers everywhere and work the rural areas where there are more votes to be brought on board.  Sure seems like they are doing 10x more than Kerry/Edwards ever did.

Will it work?  Will they bring all the pieces together?  I don't know.  I hope so, we need Obama/Biden to win big.


[ Parent ]
Well said! (0.00 / 0)
In fact, this approach has been seen once already on a national level: in the Democratic primary.

It worked pretty well, too :-)

And I heartily second the point about paying too much attention to daily polls.


[ Parent ]
It's About Personalities (0.00 / 0)
Day one was about proving that Michelle is a normal person. Day two was about proving that Hillary was not a vindictive bitch.

The traditional media makes the story about personalities. The people vote accordingly. So why not make the conventions about personalities too?

Tonight I'll bet we're gonna hear all about how Joe Biden was a working class kid from Scranton, and also about how John McCain is not very nice and also pretty old.

At the lowest levels of power building, say, a high school prom king, it's all about personality. Why would it be any different on the highest levels? We're still dealing with the same species. This is how humans work.


I recommend (4.00 / 2)
having a few beers.

Soeaking of which .. (4.00 / 1)

http://cliffschecter.firedogla...

;-)

Okay .. I don't know if beer is in that cup or not


[ Parent ]
Or inspiration from other underdogs (4.00 / 1)
The Cubs have the best record in baseball and have been a strong team all year.

Jason Marquis (hardly the model of reliability) has pitched 6 scoreless innings at the moment.

Even in Marquis explodes next inning, the Cubs will still have the best record in baseball.  Even if the convention gets tepid response, John McCain will still be John McCain.

So if you are stressing about things already today, at noonish Denver time, try beer and baseball.


[ Parent ]
Chris, I don't get it (4.00 / 2)
Why is the measure of success how much Democrats attack McCain? What is wrong with showing the world how awesome we are without punching our opponents in the throat? It's not just you (though you are among the most vocal), it seems that every blogger, pundit and politician is screaming for a stream of non-stop, viscous attacks. Anything less and they just bitch and complain (and of course many would complain if there were too many attacks).

I just don't understand how exposing undecided voters to brutal, partisan attacks is going to drive up Obama's support.
attacks.  

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra


Viscous attacks? (4.00 / 1)
You mean, like, sticky ones? Maybe that's actually the ticket. Hmm ...

[ Parent ]
Aaaaahhh! (0.00 / 0)
I don't know exactly what we need to do to get a bounce, but I do know that it hasn't happened yet.  

Now I think you're just testing us.

Here is the sum total of polling data since the beginning of the convention:
- One day's worth of the Rasmallup 3-day trackers.

That's it. What's more: as per leshrac55's quick hit, Gallup showed that that one day was good for Obama.

What's more than that: no bounce is likely to show up until at least three days into the convention.

Please: do relax. We have no idea yet about any sort of bounce, and can have no idea about it until at least the weekend.


great speeches (0.00 / 0)
It doesn't help that McCain has ads up on CNN in every commercial break blunting any positive message with the "Celebrities" attack. I also confess to feeling uneasy.  Everything has the appearance of firing on all cylinders, but instead we get the idea it's just fumbling.  Maybe the McCain attack has even been so successful that now the best we can do with "great speeches" just reinforces the negative meme he has introduced.

But let's be honest, it's tonight and tomorrow when this really has to come together.  Bill, Obama and Biden are the ones who are going to make the case in the way it counts.  Clinton had too much work to do party unifying, and Michelle too much in the way of humanizing.  

Also remember 4 years ago when we went without a convention bounce.  It wasn't until after the debates when Kerry started closing the gap.  This led a lot of people (including Chris) to call it for Kerry on the assumption undecideds would break for the challenger.  Even though that didn't happen, it was a good example of closing the gap in the debates in the absence of a convention bounce.


you're right (0.00 / 0)
I think the debates are much more crucial than the conventions... A convention provides each candidate about 30 minutes or so to give a good solid speech. Debates are 90 minutes long, and there are three of them. Plus, they are the last real event before the election. If we don't get much of a bounce out of this convention, then we can make it up with the debates. I remember that before the first debate, Kerry was down about 10-12% in some polls, and after the first debate the race was tied.

[ Parent ]
What's missing: (4.00 / 7)
John Edwards. There. I said it. His perspectives on "two Americas" and the call to value "work over wealth" in our economic policies and to ask Americans to be patriotic "about something other than war" are themes that are conspicuously absent from the speeches thus far. Has there been a primetime speaker that's had the guts to say anything close in controversy to Edwards' truth-telling that the war on terrorism is a "bumper sticker campaign?" Now I know that actually having Edwards speak is a political impossibility. But did his public humiliation kill off the legitimacy of what he was saying? Given what we've seen in this convention so far, the answer is "yes." And the Democratic party is much poorer for it.

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

I agree (0.00 / 0)
his message has been sorely lacking.  

[ Parent ]
I am extremely worried (0.00 / 0)
Today my model has the electoral college at 280-255 McCain, and it shows McCain with more targets than Obama has.

I need to emphasize this: Since 1960 every candidate but one has had some type of bounce (either from the VP or the Convention).   The only exception: George McGovern.

If we get no bounce form the Clinton speech last night AND if the GOP gets the average post '92 bounce of 6 points, we are in big trouble.

The question is why?  My own theory is that Obama's inability to control the convention is being taken as a sign of imcompetence.  Paul has argued here - I think he is right - that one of the ways that Obama has overcome the experience argument is that his campaign was so impressive.  I think the disunity narrative is playing into the concern about Obama's experience, and it is hurting him.  


Aaaaahhh! (4.00 / 1)
If we get no bounce form the Clinton speech last night AND if the GOP gets the average post '92 bounce of 6 points, we are in big trouble.

Also, if Obama loses 15 points in the polls and McCain gains 20 points we are in big trouble. And if Obama uses his speech to practice yodelling in leiderhosen we are in big trouble. And if McCain is revealed to be the One and True Messiah we are in big trouble.

Gosh. So much to worry about...


[ Parent ]
Actually, (4.00 / 2)
And if Obama uses his speech to practice yodelling in leiderhosen we are in big trouble.

I'm not so sure about that one.  It's just crazy enough that it might work for us.  Sort of like the Jamaican Olympic bobsled team.

"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 ]
No Bounce in this election (4.00 / 2)
There is never going to be a bounce for Obama.  We keep forgetting how astonishing it is that a Black man is running for president.  Luckily Obama is not forgetting.  McCain caught up in part because of his advertisements, but on a national level because the South has more or less solidified for him (and because in the South whites are more easily identified as Likely or even registered voters because many Blacks do not trust these phone polls is my guess.  We are not that far away from Blacks getting killed in the South because of organizing and demanding to vote.  Especially the older members of the population remember that).  Still the South is becoming stronger and heavier for McCain.

Obama knows that he must win this election strategically - and that is what he is going to do.  I think he has decided he cannot count of Florida or Ohio - he has to treat those as secondary.  A lot may have to do with the corruption of local election boards in both states (I am an Ohioan and I do not trust the people who will be counting in the Southern part of the state.)  He thinks he will get Iowa and I believe he will get Colorado after this convention.  Next, he wants Virginia.  This is why putting Warner as the keynote was smart even though is pissed off a lot of people. My guess is he will spend a great deal of time out West in Nevada and New Mexico as well.  I don't think he will pay any attention to National Polls, and I believe he will not move because more people will be scared by watching a Black family dominate television than will be impressed.  

What good is a bounce anyway in the electoral college system.  It is really about moving chess pieces around the board at this point.  The people who obsessed with bounces are following the media narrative.


coverage (0.00 / 0)
just because Dems have been getting major coverage over the past few days does not mean that it has necessarily been good coverage. A great deal of the news coverage has been about the disunity between Hillary & Obama. After the VP pick, news pundits were wondering whether Obama chose Biden because Obama is weak on foreign policy...The great mistake many people make is assuming that any coverage of Obama automatically means that it should help him. I have found that a lot of coverage of him has been negative lately, such as why he has dropped in the polls.  

Last Time I Checked (0.00 / 0)
This is an election campaign.  We are in it to win it or not in it at all.  Moral victories don't count when the sleazeball who got elected by stooping lower than you is screwing the country.  

It doesn't really matter how well a campaign seems to be doing or how we're not really sure yet if our campaign is in trouble.  What does matter is that if the campaign isn't going out ever day, doing everything it can to win as many votes as possible then they're not really in it for victory.  The unfocused feel of this convention, regardless of whether it produces a bounce or not, and the lackadaisical attitude of the Obama campaign during the last few months as McCain has been hitting him is a problem, whether or not it has any impact on the polls.  Just because you've convinced x number of people and think y amount will vote for you doesn't mean you can pack up or go home.  Either you are doing as much as you possibly can to win, or you don't really believe in what you're fighting for, period.  


Heres the disconnect to me (4.00 / 5)
We have had eight years of the worst government that America can remember or even remember reading about, and it feels like there are nothing but crises coming ahead, the entire system is bent to prevent any changes at all, the huge huge moneyed interests are in complete control, we are waging war on a verb, we lost sight of the people that attacked us devastatingly on our sopil and not even looking for them, there has been no anaysis of whpo attacked us (Al Queda is a made up name, made by American Intel to 'represent' the possibly coordianted attacking groups) we cant protect as many people from hurricane as the third world nation Cuba can (Katrina killed 0 in Cuba, almost 4,000 in Louisiana) and we cant rebuild after Katrina's devastation.

The worst most off track government ever in American history, and The democrats aren't saying OK look thats what we have republican neocon crazies wrecking the country with their non solutions because of their own greed, and we have Obama and the democrats who have solutions and a commitment to restore America

We have to stop all this. Its time to put republican leadership out to pasture until they can rebuild their party with sane leadership.

But the Convention so far has felt like:

"We have a plan for America, please turn to page three of your binder to see policy comparisons for agriculture."

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


Yup (0.00 / 0)
You can sense it in the safe canned responses to media questions from 98% of Dems being interviewed. It's such second nature to them by now, they probably aren't even aware of it. There is no passion. There is no fire. There is no ass-kicking will to win. It's just staid talking points and cheesy smiles. And Obama has been reinforcing it with his reversion to the center. It all has the feel of yet another disaster in the making, a la '88, '00 and '04.

In fact, I'm not sure that I'd entirely blame Obama for it. Perhaps he tried to turn this around, and met with so much internal resistance that he decided that it wasn't worth the effort and could even be counterproductive, and that he had no choice but to go with it and make the most of it, and try to change it gradually if he won. Dems have been like this for so many decades, it was probably naive to believe that they could reverse it in a year or two.

I'm just hoping that we don't need to lose this election to finally destroy the dispassionate focus group-based wing of the party (or the closely-aligned Clinton wing of it).

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
What world are you living in? (4.00 / 1)
Did you not listen to Bill and Hillary's speeches at all?  The "Clinton wing" is the one with the most to say about the GOP record; the Obama wing wants post-partisanship, ostensibly.

[ Parent ]
Um, project much? (0.00 / 0)
The "Clinton wing" (aka the DLC) is what got this whole post-partisanship, GOP Lite, sell out to the right BS started back in the 90's. NAFTA, DOMA and DADT were liberal/progressive policies? I think not. They're just trying to help Obama win the election and restore their good name in the party so they don't get locked out if he wins, and ostracized if he loses. You really think that Bill and Hill have become overnight progressives? What world do YOU live in?

You're excessively fixated on words. I thought Hillary had a thing or two to say about that during the primaries. And your attempt to stir up old wounds that are only now being put to rest strikes me as verging on concern trollism. Criticize Obama all you like. I certainly have. But to make the Clintons out to be any better on the salient issues is simply absurd on its face. Peas in a pod, vying for the leadership of the same center-right wing of the party.

He won, they lost. Deal with it.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Too Many Filters Operating (0.00 / 0)
Twenty-two million people are watching the convention and about 21.9 million will likely vote for Obama.

For all the other voters, all they know is that the corporate media are telling them that the horse race is close, that both sides have gone negative, that there is a confrontation with Russia looming and Cindy McCain is visiting refugees there, that the economy is down except when it is up (such as today), that there were a lot of black people smiling at Michelle Obama on Monday at the convention, that both candidates want to cut taxes (except that Obama also wants to raise taxes but as to whom, it is rarely made clear), that women are angry about something the Democrats did (or, maybe, did not do), that candidates for president must always be strong and sound mean when speaking of foreigners, that Iran has missiles and is trying to build nukes, that China is pretty cool with a lot of people and a lot of our money, that there is always some missing white girl to be concerned about (who is it this time?), and that Condi Rice is always saying that the United States will never accept something another country threatens to do (without pointing out that it inevitably does). So, how are most voters to know whom they should vote for?

No one is telling the voters whom they must vote for.  No ward healers from years gone by; no Walter Cronkites sending messages we can believe; no news media consensus forming above the horse race; no business elite or Wall Street consensus about the economy; and no religious authorities rising above the petty.  So, what's an average voter to do?  We were told eight years ago that Bush would be fun to have a beer with.  We were told four years ago that Bush would protect us in a dangerous world.  No one is telling us such a story this time -- at least not yet.

Non-sardonic observation: a "story line" will emerge by late September about the candidates and it will decide the election.  I am not feeling so good.


Barack Can Rescue the Convention... (0.00 / 0)
...at Mile High Stadium on Thursday but I agree with Chris 100% that there is a bit of a Denver disaster in the making so far.  The sum of the speeches adds up to much less than the parts so far.  I don't think it is anybody's fault except for the very well publicized PUMAs who have completely dominated the cable and even the print media coverage.  I actually miss John Edwards -- he was sort of the spokesperson for the populist wing of the Dem. party which is now without a voice.  The Convention is still young -- there is still time for a turnaround.

Think globally, act locally (4.00 / 1)
Anyone out there phonebanking instead of or in between watching the convention?  Door knocking this weekend to GOTV?  Polls schmolls.  What I see going on in my neighborhood doesn't jive with any polls--Obama's doing great.  Maybe I'm not jaded enough but being in Iowa, we saw Obama regularly behind by 20-30 points throughout much of last fall.  Oops, look what happened, only one local pollster got it right the week before the caucus that showed Obama in the lead.

Maybe I'm comparing apples to oranges here but my point is that the ground game is still ON and this race is a marathon.  Folks might be hitting "the wall" right about now with the long, drawn out primaries but now's the time when we have to dig deep and cross that finish line first.  


Ditto on that in Kansas City (MO) (0.00 / 0)
Our house has been a virtual hotel for the Obama team and they are constantly circulating in and out from Chicago and DC, revving up the local volunteers, speaking at events at local community colleges, hitting the black churches on Sundays, stopping over on their way to or from the many Maryville, MO small towns in Western Missouri, and running voter registration and ID ops around the city. The ground game here seems to be treating Missouri as winnable.

[ Parent ]
Great! (0.00 / 0)
I'm glad to hear that. There's a lot of ground game going on in this red part of Pennsylvania that surprised me, but AFAIK not as much as you're describing. I'm impressed.

[ Parent ]
Not so sure.. (0.00 / 0)
I don't know exactly what we need to do to get a bounce, but I do know that it hasn't happened yet.  

I know exactly what we need to do, but it involves Obama, a lot of bleach, and caving in to 350 years of stupid.


Feel your pain (4.00 / 2)
From the point of view of the media and what the average person sees, there really have only been three significant events: Teddy, Michele and Hillary.  All have been near perfect.

And yet...  something seems missing.

Some of it is the PUMA narrative, of course.  But I think it is mostly the post-partisanship; it fundamentally runs counter to the idea of a political convention.  I'm one of the most sympathetic to post-partisan governing, on this list, at least, but it keeps getting in the way.

Rachel Maddow and Pat Bucanan were crazily on the same page last night after Warner's keynote, complaining about this very problem.

I actually think it could be done, though.  Just honestly ask what does it mean to be both post-partisan and ask for a Democratic super-majority.  The answer is to point out how extreme most Republicans are, how much the block legislation, etc., but also point out that we are willing to listen to their honest input from those who still have good faith.  Use the few good faith Republicans as the example to hold against the rest; particularly bashing Bush and the new-and-not-so-improved McCain.


I agree (0.00 / 0)
I think that three things are conspiring to make this conviction far less helpful than it could be.

One, the enduring "Hillary should have won!" idiocy that you can still easily sense in many leading Clinton supporters, whose passion level for Obama is clearly not there, and whose resentment at him is clearly there.

Two, Dems' continued desire to come across as safe and non-threatening, so as to not offend or drive away those precious swing voters, who of course are driven off by precisely this sort of tepid and self-doubting attitude.

And three, Obama's determination to present himself as a moderate centrist who will have nothing to do with those crazy far-left hippies and is about as American as apple pie.

If I were a low-information swing voter out in the heartland, I'd be primed to give McCrazy another look right now. At least he comes across as believing in and being passionate about something, crazy as it might be. Dems need to take the freakin' gloves off and be themselves again. This safe mushiness is driving me crazy!

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Chris says.... (0.00 / 0)
I don't know exactly what we need to do to get a bounce, but I do know that it hasn't happened yet.

I think I know and this blog, Open Left, says it more than anyone else.  When are we going to be the progressive party?  We're just more and more of the same.  People are dying for a choice and we Democrats just won't give them one.  The people want red meat and they want blood despite what Broder and the Villagers think and say, and we Democrats just keep doing what the Villagers think and say only not as good as the Republicans.  I'm beginning to think that John Edwards (pre-scandal) or 2004 Howard Dean are the only kinds of Democrats that can win.  Kerry, Obama or even Clinton had it been her not so much.  I'm getting a feeling of doom.  


As a TV viewer of the convention who doesn't know anyone there, I agree (0.00 / 0)
Something just doesn't feel "right" about it. It's like there's no center, no theme, no direction, no purpose, no passion, no focus. It's like a bunch of Democratic leaders spontaneously found themselves in a huge arena with banners and posters and fancy lights, and some of them decided to get in front of the podium and say whatever came into their heads--generally their standard and staid focus group-crafted talking points.

It feels like a really boring trade show with obligatory speakers making safe and perfunctory points, rather than a political rally seeking to inspire passion among the electorate for the convening party's agenda and candidates. If this was a booth at a trade show, I'd say thanks for the freebie but move on without listening to the product pitch.

I don't know if the intent was to deliberately keep it all low-key and non-controversial and save it for Obama's stadium speech, or if they just don't know what they're doing, or it's something else, but something just doesn't feel right here.

I suspect that behind the scenes, Obama's takeover of the party (in the sense that every presidential candidate effectively does this, and not in some conspiratorial, coup-like sense) is still being resisted by party insiders and long-timers (and we all know who those are), who refuse to go completely along with the new guy and his people, message and agenda, and that this is reflected in this unfocused and dispassionate convention.

Some of their gripes might be legit, others not so much. But their refusal to put them aside for now is selfish, short-sighted and idiotic, and sends a bad message to swing voters--i.e. that Dems still don't have their act together and are a party of entitled elitists and special interests who can't get along and unite behind a candidate and common agenda, and persue it with conviction and passion.

If he loses the election, if won't be entirely his own fault (although it will be, partly, the result of his stupid decision to reposition himself as a moderate and safe establishmentarian centrist and thus make many swing voters view him as just another sham politician). The Clinton wing of the party and its absurd and infuriating sense of entitlement has caused him damage, that can't be completely repaired by election day. They. Just. Don't. Want. To. Let. Go.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


Maybe it's all downhill from here (0.00 / 0)
Obama could have just maxed out his support.

There are lots or reasons this could be the case.  Although PUMAs may be an inscrutable irritation, they are an indication that there is a group of voters who are not members of the hard right, who will have a hard time voting for Obama.

There is the racial factor, which may set a ceiling on his support.  We haven't seen any real sparks in the general from the race issue.  I expect that soon there will be another Ferraro incident - someone respected on McCain's side will characterize Obama as an affirmative action candidate.  This will blossom into a debate over the state of our culture, oversensitivity, playing the race card, whether Obama is qualified, and suddenly Obama will feel a lot less "post-racial" to a lot of people.    

There is the fact that he didn't get the white working class vote, and that there is plenty of ammunition  to keep the white working class vote from him by painting him as an outsider.

There is the age gap.  He has the youth vote, but no one can be sure exactly what it is worth.  The age vote goes to McCain hands down.

Although his inexperience didn't sink him against the similarly handicapped Clinton, it is a much larger factor against McCain.

Eloquence was a factor in winning over progressives and the media, but a fair portion of the electorate seems to prefer a verbal stumbler like Bush.  In the long run, his style will be a liability - both in being over many people's heads (making him elitist) and in increasing the "celebrity" and "cult" impression (as something that only a select group of fans relate to).

He's not good on the attack.  Sure, he did well with the "I don't know how many houses I own," but that gaffe was a rare gift.  If McCain figured out how to tighten his operation a little, he'd be bulletproof against a novice like Obama.

The environment is terrible for Republicans, and McCain has a tough job - shoring up the base while keeping the maverick storyline.  Not an easy task, but the media isn't losing their McCain crush, and the gloss has worn off Obama.

Obama is the weakest Democratic candidate since Mondale.  He'll probably still win, but it's going to be close.



The kitchen table metaphor (0.00 / 0)
What frustrated me, from watching and reading speech after speech (particularly from some of the non-prime time speakers), was an overreliance on the kitchen table metaphor, without developing it much beyond a bland times-are-tough narrative. The kitchen table is a starting place, it's not enough just to talk economy and expect swarms of voters will flock over to our side (even if that is usually the case to some extent). I wanted to see economics used to really hammer the moral failure of conservative government to run a just economy. Sure, you sort of get the idea that Democrats care, but the flip side of that is that the free market conservatives are actively dismantling the regulation for the benefit of their lobbist friends' oligarch clients because they are corrupt, and you didn't hear a peep about that aside from Kucinich.

On both the economy and Iraq and pretty much everything else, it's not enough to say Republicans are incompetent or stupid. Everything we've seen in the past 8 years was done by design, and it's nothing less than a complete moral failure. When the public understands that, Democrats will win by landslides.  

"I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that."
-Lawrence Summers


??? (4.00 / 1)
There is a populist message at the convention: individual Americans versus a system of lobbyists,...

You're kidding, right?

How many frickin' lobbyist parties are going on at this convention, including the now notorious AT&T/Blue Dog FISA Celebration Party?

Maybe the problem with the convention and the messages coming forthwith is the disconnect between the messages and reality.


Feeling Frustrated | 87 comments
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