The political circus.

2clowns It is evident that Barack Obama does not inspire confidence in much of the electorate. Once again, his numbers should be higher than they are in the polls.  Is that crypto-racism at work?  There is probably a lot of that, but there is also unease at the "marble" quality of the man, his unflappability, his unshakable calm, his mastery of every situation.   Someone said yesterday that Obama becomes visibly calmer and more in control of himself as situations deteriorate around him.  It would seem that these would be desirable qualities in a president but it does not seem to work very well for Obama.  People clearly wonder what is underneath that stony surface.

At the same time, "Uncle" Joe Biden is on tape "remembering" that after the 1929 Wall Street crash, President Roosevelt went on television to reassure the American people.  Unfortunately, Roosevelt was not president until 1932 and television was not a feature of telecommunications until after World War II.   Wow!

On the other hand, there is Sarah Palin.  Talking to Couric yesterday she said some truly brainless things.  Among them:

– She implied that as governor of Alaska she somehow is involved in defense of American air space and territory against Russia.  Wow!  It is true that she is by state constitution, the head of the Alaska National Guard, but that power is not effective against foreign threats to the United States.  She could use the Alaska Guard against a natural disaster or a riot, but she has no authority at all to do anything about Russia.  The US armed forces have a "Unified Command" for Alaska.  The "Alaskan Command" with headquarters in Anchorage is altogether responsible for defending Alaska and Alaska’s air space, not the state government.  She should know that.

– She also expressed once again the vague idea that Israel should not be "second guessed" in whatever Israel decides to do in the world.  When asked a question about the necessity for discussion between the US and Israel over future courses of action, she approved that idea as well.  She does not seem to have thought through the consequences of telling a foreign country that the United States will "back their play" no matter what they do and whether or not the United States has agreed to their action in advance.

Then there is John McCain.  There will be something in this space about him tomorrow.  pl

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38 Responses to The political circus.

  1. Dave of Maryland says:

    Makes one long for Gerry Ford.

  2. Duncan Kinder says:

    Meanwhile, back on the farm:

    Pakistan warned U.S. troops not to intrude on its territory Friday, after the two anti-terror allies traded fire along the volatile border with Afghanistan.

    It seems like the “War on Terror” is morphing into a war with Pakistan while no one is watching.

  3. Nancy K says:

    I believe racism has much to do with Obama not being ahead by double digits. I live in Calif and I have heard a number of people say they would never vote for a black man and they didn’t say it so kindly. I also believe that if McCain wins, America deserves who they get as their next president and VP.
    I was a psychiatric nurse for years and when a crisis occured on the unit, the truly effective staff were the ones who became very calm when everyone else was escalating. Calm in chaos is truly a desirable attribute, but I quess not in this country.

  4. Unusally weak lineup this November for the White House. Whomever wins all four lacking in gravitas, competence, and ability. Predict low voter turnout not high (with the exception of certain voting blocks) and the result could be highly aberational. The weak (not strong) Presidencies since Nixon/Ford continue to reflect the failure of leadership in the US. Too bad many qualified candidates self-select out. Probably the two strongest candidates and most competent politicians in US right now are disqualifed Constitutionally or de facto by their religion. The “Terminator” and Mayor Bloomberg. The third party candidates have not been the focus so far but they may do some real damage to the major parties in some jurisdictions.

  5. Homer says:

    PL: Once again, his numbers should be higher than they are in the polls.
    This should not be a contest.
    There was 911, Iraq, Katrina, and now the Cry Baby Capitalism Bail Out and people in the South are yearning for 4 more years of the `GOP washing the dicks of the Super Rich in hidden posh whorehouses’ at their expense?
    You know, though, I wonder about the accuracy of the so called `polls’.
    I am going to start to look closely at the methods used.
    Some how I doubt that citing a >>single<< poll based upon 500 (?) interviews captures the true feelings of millions of Americans. A single poll .... Sell! Sell! McCain is tanking! [snip] For whom the polls fell. .... McCain's poll numbers. They've been dropping like last week's Dow. In the key state of Pennsylvania, Obama now leads by 9. In Wisconsin, it's +7, Colorado +4, Michigan +4, Minnesota +2, and Virginia +3. Even in Florida it's +2. The Washington Post/ABC poll shows Obama now leads the national horserace by 9 points, a turnaround of 11 points in two weeks. The poll found 79 percent of the American people are very worried about the national economy, and 60 percent are worried about their own finances. Obama is beating McCain by 14 points in understanding people's economic problems.–%20Editorial/Op-ed%20pages

  6. Cato says:

    To echo Nancy K: so would these people who are mistrustful of Obama’s calm manner prefer someone who flies to hysterical pieces under stress? The nation truly is doomed.

  7. GSD says:

    I recommend that everyone remain calm in these troubling times of war, poltical gridlock, economic meltdown and uncertainty.
    Sarah Palin has remained calm and has been taking matronly care of John McCain. She now sees him off to bed with a nice plate of warm cookies and a glass of Chinese milk.
    It’s all God’s plan.

  8. david says:

    In re: Obama.
    He strikes me as a well-trained lawyer. Able to converse intelligently about subjects upon which he lacks substantive knowledge. And also able to ask intelligent questions when faced with the same.
    Is that off-putting to the electorate? Perhaps, but some would prefer someone in the WH who can ask questions and push back.
    Americans, of course, do not like lawyers, unless they need them. Perhaps they need/want one now, slippery as they are.
    Still, it is unclear to me as to his skills in manipulating the machinery of the federal bureaucracy, but that is very much what his advisers are for (who is Obama’s Cheney? I don’t know).
    It seems to me that since the advent of the boob tube, the Presidency is largely about personality and marshalling public momentum for any particular policy.
    This may be unfortunate on many levels, but I don’t see the Republic going back in time. Nor do I imagine that even the most literal among us can avoid imbuing the candidates with our own kind of wishful thinking or nightmarish fears.

  9. rjj says:

    IIRC George Bush was perfectly calm when he was informed of the events in New York on 9/11.

  10. Michael Torpey says:

    Two words. Taxpayer Revolt! The new Boston Tea Party can start by dumping Bush in the Potomac.

  11. rjj says:

    She also expressed once again the vague idea that Israel should not be “second guessed” in whatever Israel decides to do in the world.

    What politician does not say that or something like that?
    eppur si muove.
    “Fuck ’em, they don’t vote for us anyway” makes for bad press and lost elections.

  12. Dick says:

    It makes one long for Hillary Clinton. She would have broght this campaign to a new intellectual level, and left poor ole’ John in the dust. That said, Obama is THE MAN to handle the office, but John may very well pull it off – if he continues to keep his mouth shut and avoid a debate and play it low key and keep diverting attention (Palin helps immensely here). Biden is a gaffe, but his actual skills and experience to run the country are there – he’s the one who REALLY needs to keep his mouth shut. Palin, until she assumes office (face it – it is a distinct possibility) is mere entertainment. But the moment when she may assume the highest office in the land will go abruptly to a nightmare: sort of like when that tiger guy in Vegas had one of the beasts suddenly turn on him.

  13. Jose says:

    White America is finally losing control of the country, fear is in the air.
    “Fear, fear is my ally” – Darth Maul, The Phantom Menance
    McSame runs as a “…real American…”
    Carabou Barbie runs as “…I’m just like you…”
    Sad to say that but I think it’s true.
    Still, Obama will win because the my Republican party has been destroyed by the Neo-Nutties.
    “Just Win, Baby” Al Davis

  14. PS says:

    Unless McCain manages to capture populist anger over the bailout package — which led one Republican to remark that he would accept a Great Depression as the cost for keeping capitalism pure — I think Obama should come out well from this crisis.
    Time did a piece this summer on the candidates’ gambling style. Seems that McCain loves the craps tables and that Obama was a calculating, successful poker player during his time in the Illinois legislature. I want a poker player at the negotiating table with Putin.

  15. charlottemom says:

    Great theatre. The way Obama has responded to the financial crisis/bailout bill been less then inspiring and he’s rapidly losing my support. While he may genuinely be trying to craft a bipartisan response, he is really getting punked by the Reps.
    Obama’s “can we all just get along” joint statement was the wrong response. I believe most Americans are against this bailout plan and working with Paulson, Pelosi, Reid and Bush aren’t great optics for him. McCain campaign knows Americans are looking for leaders on this, not consensus builders. McCain is betting, hoping we see him as such. While his actions to ride to the rescue on a white unicorn are so evidently political and self-serving (really do we even know what McCain’s proposal is? Where is McCain leading us?), he has succeeded in exposing Obama as not being a leader.
    The Dems have the votes, and Obama as titular head of the party,should be out in front pushing forward with their version of this sellout proposal? Note: Dem version of this bill is also lousy. Caps on exec comp — HA, equity stakes — the assets are worthless.
    The Dems are gutless; they want Rep cover — they won’t get it.
    I love those Democrat POLITICANS urging politicans to remove politics from the process. Ha, ha. I love that this crisis has dragged the candidates in; they should absolutely be elbow deep in this – one of them will inherit the mess.

  16. JohnH says:

    “Once again, his numbers should be higher than they are in the polls.” What’s amazing is that there is any debate about this at all.
    It’s pretty obvious why his numbers aren’t higher–he’s black.
    A small but significant number of Americans would rather vote for an elderly, dangerous, unstable white guy and his bimbo than for a black.
    I agree with Nancy K.
    What is it about educated elites that remains in denial about the importance of race in America?
    [Republican strategists don’t have this problem. It’s something they exploit by casting Obama is un-American, not like the rest of us, etc. etc.]

  17. lina says:

    People who achieve calm amidst turmoil usually land in careers like paramedic and emergency room doctor. This “marble like” quality is often found in people whose formative years were spent in chaotic tumultuous environments. Growing up biracial in the 60s and 70s contributed to Obama’s calm demeanor. It is a survival technique.
    If he stays 3-5 points ahead in the polls for the remainder of the race, he’ll win.
    Again, he only has to win all the Kerry states and flip two more.
    And while we’re talking psychology, McCain’s demeanor shows he is suited to a career in …….. hmmm …. Congress!

  18. swampy says:

    “A small but significant number of Americans would rather vote for an elderly, dangerous, unstable white guy and his bimbo than for a black.”
    Maybe some of us don’t want to vote for either of them.

  19. VietnamVet says:

    I thought that Barrack Obama would have to be 10 points ahead to win due to the Bradley Effect. But, this election is the beginning of the end to being able to vote for a white old male (demographics; whites in American, Jews in Israel), no one is hiding their prejudices from the pollsters.
    The problem is that the white old male is erratic and prone to grandiose crusades; against Russia, Muslims, Wall Street, gooks; whomever who ticks him off now. Will he even show up for the debate tonight in Mississippi?
    Meanwhile, the House GOP revolts.
    By Monday, Congress has to decide on a plan for Wall Street.
    The huge elephant in the room is the 43 trillion dollars in housing derivatives which are totally worthless. They have to be taken off the books. That is more value than all the money in the world. There are really only three options:
    1) Try to keep the current structure intact and flood Wall Street with money in the hope it will survive – The Bush Democratic plan to kick the can down the line.
    2) Give Wall Street Tax Cuts – The laughable McCain/House GOP plan, or
    3) Nationalize Wall Street [The Swedish Example]. Given the rampart political denial and lack of transparency, nationalization will occur only once the depression hits America.
    All this in one weekend. This weekend!

  20. Shrike58 says:

    Considering that this week John McCain put in about the most irresponsible performance by a U.S. senator since Joe McCarthy this race is Obama’s to lose. That he could still do so is a tribute to the invincible stupidity of much of the U.S. electorate. “Shine perishing republic.”

  21. Fred says:

    swampy, there is always Ralph Nader. Look at where all the votes for him got us. But at least you can wash your hands of ‘responsibility’.

  22. rjj says:

    There is probably a lot of that, but there is also unease at the “marble” quality of the man, his unflappability, his unshakable calm, his mastery of every situation.

    … but, but, but …
    1. Among many segments of Cracker-American society unflappability is one of the essentials of good form and a requirement for social survival. I believe the same holds true among African Americans.
    2. Mastery of affect is not the equivalent of mastery of situation — much less mastery of every situation.

  23. Ormolov says:

    I understand you don’t want to be a rubber-stamp supporter of a Democrat candidate, yet I get the impression that if the world weren’t falling apart you wouldn’t be a supporter of Obama at all.
    Every post you’ve written about Obama does nothing but raise doubts about his competence. That he is unflappable in the face of crisis is somehow on a par with McCain’s recent behavior? That his “mastery of every situation” is somehow a flaw? Why do you feel the need to perpetually undercut the only candidate who may actually reverse the course of this country?
    I’m sorry if you feel Hillary would have made a better candidate. I don’t. We went through a process to decide that called the Primaries and Obama emerged victorious, not least because he has run one of the most disciplined and error-free campaigns in memory. And yet his unflappability to you is a millstone around his neck.
    You may have your own concerns about him, although you frame them as reservations the electorate has, but in the end, all you are doing is keeping his electoral momentum from rolling forward. By airing your doubts, you may feel you’re being a responsible commentator, but how would you feel on November 5th if McCain wins by two points because opinion leaders like yourself were unwilling to grant Obama the enthusiasm and support he needs to overcome Republican obstacles?
    Come on, Colonel! We need all the help we can get to turn this country around. Wasn’t that the original founding impulse of this blog, to do what you could to rescue this country from the excesses of the Bush Administration? You seem to have no trouble identifying McCain as an evil to be avoided at all costs, but by saying he and Obama have equal but different flaws, and more preposterously, that the VP candidates also have equal but different flaws makes us question what you really want to have happen the next four years.

  24. Andy says:

    Crypto-racism will be a factor if the race is close, which so far it is looking to be.
    I’ll say again the arrogance of the Democratic party astounds me. As some of the comments here suggest, already party supporters are developing excuses for when/if Obama loses. They cannot conceive how it is possible that Obama should not be trouncing McCain. I remember similar sentiments from the last two elections. It looks like the dems are refusing, yet again, to take a long, hard look in the mirror and are instead more interested in blaming other factors for their poor performance.
    As one who was leaning toward Obama during the primaries, it’s sad to see where his campaign has gone. If he thinks he can win with “Change” and “McSame” then he’s not as astute as I once believed. That strategy would probably work against most GoP candidates, but not McCain.
    As one of those independent voters who is up for grabs every election cycle, I’m beginning to think that Obama’s critics who claim he is all style with little substance might be partially right. I’m frankly disappointed in him at this point.

  25. DaveGood says:

    OK……. time to consider PL’s real point…. which is ( And I’m certain Pat will kick in real quick if I have got this wrong).
    Is why the choices are restricted so fast to two candidates, niether of which you approve of?

  26. Drongo says:

    It seems to me over here outside the USA that Mr Obama’s cool detatchedness in the face of this crisis is the most sensible, wisest and indeed presidential approach to adopt to this crisis. He does not and should not seem to endorse Pres. Bush’s apparent attempt to blackmail your nation into rushing through a piece of legislation that is deeply unpopular with the taxpaying electorate. He appears detatched, quiet, non-committal and free of any commitments or promises that would have to be kept once he becomes (as he surely shall) president.At the same time he is not challenging the President and his policies by going for the populist option that would make him vulnerable to the attacks of the rabid right wing redneck tendency whose instinct is to destroy unthinkingly any intellectual with liberal tendencies – any “uppity nigger” who has the effrontery think he can control the destiny of their country. I get the impression that over here in Europe, the present shenanigans in Wall Street and Washington will damage Mr McCain’s already low reputation and that the great majority here, if they had the had the vote in your presidential elections would go for Mr Obama.

  27. Cold War Zoomie says:

    I want a poker player at the negotiating table with Putin.
    Many months ago I recommended this fellow for president!
    Anyone for a friendly game of chance?

  28. swampy says:

    “swampy, there is always Ralph Nader. Look at where all the votes for him got us. But at least you can wash your hands of ‘responsibility’.”
    I believe it’s the political parties responsibility to get it’s own candidate elected. My responsibilty is to vote for whom I think would be best suited for the position. If they can’t select a candidate that I like, why should I vote for them?

  29. Cold War Zoomie says:

    I think it’s a miracle in itself that Obama is doing as well as he is!
    When he was born Jim Crow was still alive.
    The fact that he has done this well only 44 years after passage of the Civil Rights Act is astounding.
    That’s what I see when I read the polls.

  30. John Howley says:

    On crypto-racism. I assume this is a reference to the “Bradley effect” which is discussed thoroughly here:
    It is important to understand this because it is one of several factors that can introduce error or distortion into poll results as compared to actual election results.
    Needless to say, with both a major candidate who is Black and all the usual shenanigans, the legitimacy of the outcome may come under more scrutiny than usual (usual?).
    So, Obama’s race may be reducing the Democratic lead in national opinion polls (which are of limited value because the outcome is determined by the Electoral College but that’s another story). However, THAT reduced lead is NOT the Bradley effect.
    The Bradley effect comes into play on election day when we learn that while some hypothetically accurate poll gave him a vote share of say 56 percent, the vote outcome was 50 percent.
    The Bradley Effect means that any Obama polling lead must be discounted by…six or seven points, according to some.
    Andrew Hacker discusses race and the election in the New York Review of Books:
    We will hear much, much more about this issue.

  31. Mark Logan says:

    I feel like Leonardo:
    “Between the expressions of laughter and weeping there is no difference in the motion of the features,” Leonardo da Vinci wrote in his posthumously published Treatise on Painting, “either in the eyes, mouth or cheeks.” With the difference between the physical expression of emotions so subtle, artists had a challenge on their hands: How to differentially depict, in the words of Sir Joshua Reynolds, the “frantic joy of a Bacchante and the grief of a Mary Magdalen”?

  32. Paul says:

    When Obama ran in the New Hampshire Primary his speeches employed words and cadence reminiscent of a pastor preaching in church. Many staid Yankees were taken by his enthusiasm. He has not used that type of delivery in the campaign for obvious reasons.
    That being said, I find Obama not only calm but consistent and alert. Isn’t that a wonderful change? We had a faceless and humble peanut farmer; followed by an actor who was actually senile in his second term; then came a dull-as-pig-iron rich guy; a frat-boy with manners; and a stupid and drunken frat-boy who still cannot find his ass with both hands
    Obama sounds like an adult compared to those who came before him in that office. He does not need fireworks or heavy breathing to make his point. One has to listen to fully appreciate what he conveys. I don’t agree with everything he says, but he does not and will not shout. It should be reassuring to most, but to many (perhaps too many), he’s just another crazy “you know what”.
    He’s as mellow as the “stuntman” is outrageous.

  33. Will says:

    Mon Col. s’addresse le meme probleme profounde.
    Maybe he has given a different articulation.
    James Zogby, the famous pollster has pointed out the same problem. He says this election should not be this close give the democras’ advantages. B. Husein Obama . has not closed the sale.
    He predicts it will either remain close or it will break into an electoral college route for J. Sidney McCain three sticks (III).
    just google following to find story
    “pollster election landslide”

  34. mlaw230 says:

    Ronald Reagan beat Carter 50 to 41, i.e by 9%, and won 44 states. It was a blowout.
    Obama appears to be ahead by about 5-6 right now and McCain’s numbers are dropping like a brick. Add to that the real possibility that the polls are skewed, that folks over 60 or so are going to have a very real problem voting for non-caucasian, and that approximately 30% would vote for any candidate the Republicans put up, suggests that Obama is doing just fine.
    Barring a truly horrendous blunder, or tragedy, and he should win comfortably.

  35. Grumpy says:

    There is only one poll that really counts. There are many people in this Country, who still believe a vote is a very private matter. People taking polls, I ask them the first question. Does this poll have anything to do with voting? If yes, that is the end of the discussion and “DO NOT CALL BACK!” How does somebody get this way? I have found most polls are manipulative and not open-ended. Grumpy, have you ever voted for a “third-party” candidate? YES! I have never even considered not voting, this will be my 39th election, voting started at the age of 21. My Father had a rule in the house, if you don’t vote, don’t complain, you made it this way!
    V/R – Grumpy

  36. Marcus says:

    Obama is an avid basketball player. Are great basketball players the highly emotional and volatile types, like Charles Barkley? (Probably one of the greatest talents in the game but never led a team to the championship)
    No the great ones, (think Jordan, Jabar, West) were calm, cool, and collected when the going gets tough and the game is on the line.

  37. Tyler says:

    “Independent voters” are as much a problem as anything, wanting to be pandered and coddled and shifting with every political wind. You want to know why politics is so pandering? Because of the mythical “independent centrist” voter who gets trotted out every election cycle that will instantly run into the arms of whoever is promising the bigger unicorn.
    Also, when was Palin elected Govenor of Alaska? I was stationed in USARAK (United States Army Alaska) for four and a half years, and I don’t believe I ever met the governor of Alaska. In all my remembrances, it was the LIEUTENANT govenor who was considered “Commander of the Alaskan National Guard” at all the deployment/redeployment ceremonies I ever stood at parade rest through, not the governor.
    Anyone care to confirm that little bit?

  38. Will says:

    from the CBSNEWS blog site some early debate news
    remember Karl Rove opines the first debate is the most important
    ” CBS News and Knowledge Networks conducted a nationally representative poll of approximately 500 uncommitted voters reacting to the debate in the minutes after it happened.
    These figures are still preliminary and could change as more respondents complete the survey. But here’s what we have so far:
    Forty percent of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. Twenty-two percent thought John McCain won. Thirty-eight percent saw it as a draw. ”

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