Now, Michelle, you're contradicting yourself.

Inbox today: “There’s never been a more important time to support this movement for change.”

Well, it beats McCain campaigners, who are apparently robocalling and spam-texting more nonsense about Obama and Ayers.

But this is pretty awesome. Because McCain is just throwing out all the usual dirty tricks, and Obama doesn’t care! His lead is widening! Or rather, the voters don’t care, and they’re seeing through all this politics-as-usual nonsense. Assuming the votes stay as they are (knock on a big ol' tree that McCain and Palin would gladly cut down), this could really be a turning point in campaigning and maybe even politics. Or maybe I’m off on an idealism streak again.

Going to Pittsburgh in a half hour! If you know any good iphone games or anything, let me know, I’ve got a long flight or two. Wheee!


Anonymous -

Yes, clearly, McCain is just a dirty campaigner and everyone just sees through it. Obama is totally above the fray.


I hope you’re not that idealistic. Obama has inspired a cult of personality, but I would expect a well-educated, analytical person to see things more factually than “McCain = politics-as-usual; Obama = change”.

Not saying McCain is all that great, but some balance, or at least intellectual honesty, would be nice.

Dan -

It’s you! Wait! Don’t go away! I’ve finally found you! You’re… That little hipper-than-thou voice in my head that is the reason I never believe anything!

In all seriousness, I think I’m already disenchanted enough, thank you. I’m annoyed with the campaigns as much as anyone. You’ll note I started this post by making fun of “Michelle Obama.” and I think it’s fair to say, at this point, that McCain’s campaign is a fair deal scuzzier than Obama’s.

Anonymous -

Yea, well, you may be right; I suppose it’s a matter of opinion. I’m not sure how “hipper-than-thou” applies here.

My main issue is Obama’s way-too-entirely-thin resume. A search of the archives ( seems to show that Obama has sponsored one bill through Congress? Please correct me if there are more.

Anyway, given the thinness of his resume, Obama has tried to run on his judgment. But he has shown absolutely astounding lack of judgment in choosing his friends (Ayers, Wright, etc.). So if a candidate uses his judgment as a significant component of his campaign, is it really scuzzy to attack his judgment?

If you’re creating a resume for Obama, you’ve got four years as a United States Senator. What do you use to fill out the bullets? A bill restricting the market for elemental mercury?

Dan -

I’d argue that experience doesn’t matter (to a point). Here’s an analysis that I think is pretty good. The scatterplots at the bottom are particularly telling: there’s almost no correlation between experience and goodness as president.

As for “judgment in choosing his friends”…
Obama and Ayers tangentially knew each other. They served on the same board for a while, decades after Ayers participated in any bombings, and Ayers hosted a coffee event for Obama once. Obama condemns Ayers’s actions.
Wright was Obama’s church’s minister, sure. But he doesn’t have to be responsible for some crazy things his minister said… I’ve had teachers who have had views I disagree with, and I can do that while still supporting the school that hired them. Obama has condemned Wright’s words and cut him loose too.

Now, McCain, on the other hand, has chosen Sarah Palin, who is woefully unprepared to be vice president or president. If you want to talk experience, she has very little; and besides that, she’s a laughingstock who holds arguably dangerous beliefs (book censoring, abstinence-only sex ed, creationism). McCain hasn’t countered any of her views, and of course he associates with her all the time. I’d say that shows a much more glaring lack of judgment.

Anonymous -

Back again; sorry it took so long.

I read your link, and it’s interesting, but highly unscientific. The fact that it includes the current and recent Presidents is even a bit silly. Perspecitive on these Presidents will change rapidly over the next couple decades. Additionally, using modern surveys to judge historical Presidents will also be unscientific, colored as our views will be and dependent on modern news and schooling. That doesn’t mean the point being made is wrong, but the means are specious. I would, however, be fine with an inexperienced President.

Really, the point I am making about Obama is not that he is inexperienced, but that he is unproductive. What are his accomplishments in the positions that he has held?

As a voter, it is disturbing that Obama, who is running on his judgment, needs to repeatedly disavow past friendships on the basis of his friends' poor character. I don’t support or agree with everything my pastor says, but if my pastor said what Wright said following the 9/11 attacks (see wikipedia), that would indicate to me a fundamental disagreement between my worldview and my pastor’s. I would find a new church. The fact that Obama waited nearly 7 years and for media attention to leave the church is, perhaps, indicative that he does not fundamentally disagree with Wright’s worldview. Granted, this is an argument based in opinion and somewhat fuzzy, but Obama has to convince me as a voter, and he’s not going to do it by irrefutable, mathematical proof.

Palin hasn’t proven so poisonous to the McCain campaign that McCain has had to disavow her views, so that’s a poor parallel to Ayers and Wright. Also, she’s not a former terrorist and doesn’t blame the U.S. for the 9/11 attacks. As a Governor, she has eliminated some of the perks of her position. The Washington Post made a lot of Palin’s approximately $17,000 of claims for per diems, yet she reassigned the governor’s chef, who was making about $45,000, substantially more than the per diem amount. Gov. Palin also hasn’t used (and is trying to re-sell in order to recoup the cost of) the governor’s plane, bought by her precessor at a $2.6 million cost to the state (I’m not certain it has solid yet). These are ways in which Gov. Palin has campaigned against Republican corruption in her own state. It’s tough to imagine Sen. Obama doing the same to his own party.

Gov. Palin also ended the infamous “bridge to nowhere” project. Despite the fact that the Alaskan government has an incredible amount of cash, she has worked to keep spending low.

An additional accomplishment has been the licensing of a natural gas line for building to deliver Alaskan natural gas to the lower 48 states. This had been a goal in Alaska prior to her governorship; however, the corrupt previous governor wanted to give a sweetened deal to the big three oil companies (Conoco-Phillips, BP, ExxonMobil). That’s not acceptable government, and Gov. Palin approached that situation more effectively. (I have no problem with the oil companies or the fact that they play that game [I even interviewed with Exxon a couple weeks ago]. Those are the rules of the game, and you have to play the game. But corrupt government is not acceptable.)

You take issue with some allegations that Palin supports book censorship, abstinence-only sex education, and creationism? I’ll have to come back to address those, as this post is getting long-winded. However, I haven’t seen any actions in her political record that are reflective of these positions. Perhaps you can point me toward them?

Dan -

A lot of issues flying around here!

1. Wright. I don’t think it’s so easy to “find a new church.” I’m not a churchgoing man myself, but it seems like there’s a lot of community there. To find a new church means leaving a ton of friends, probably family, etc. To go back to the school analogy: I went to a Catholic high school. They don’t believe in contraception, for example. I think that’s terrible! But I’m not going to transfer schools.

2. Ayers again. Ayers shouldn’t be an issue. The only reason he is is the McCain ads about him. I’m sure McCain has some shady ties to former goons somewhere in his past.

3. Right, book censorship. After looking at a couple more websites, it seems Palin only asked about possibly banning books to a librarian in a speculative sense, like “what if I wanted you to remove certain library books?” Okay.

4. Creationism/“intelligent design”. She hasn’t forced creationism teaching into schools; that’s good. She does believe that schools should teach both and let kids choose; that’s bad.

5. Abstinence only: Palin believes in this (right?). It’s part of her very-socially-conservative views (which I almost universally disagree with).

6. Bridge to nowhere: she totally supported it, as recently as 2006, see Wikipedia.

7. Palin’s achievements: good. I’d come up with such a list for Obama, but I’ve already spent too much time blogging today. Obama historians: anyone have such a list on hand?

So I’ll drop the point about book banning if you’ll drop the point about Ayers. They’re both just partisan jabs that we’ve both absorbed as important facts. This is why I’m sick of the election!

Speaking of “sick of things”, I do dig a good argument, but I’ve already sent in my ballot, so you can’t really change my vote. Can I change yours? Is anyone else reading this, who is still up in the air? If not, we might be partisan-jabbing back and forth, and maybe we’d be better off arguing about other issues.

Anonymous -

I’m sorry not to respond to this until so late, but I’m not going to add too much.

1. Your point about changing churches is well-taken. As a college student, I perhaps consider such things to be more fluid than they really are. I’d just like to think that there are some statements that would cause me to change churches.

2-7. Sure, I can drop Ayers. I’m not totally a fan of non-issues-related attacks when there are issues-related differences available (e.g. Sen. Obama’s comments on coal have spread into the media recently).

My main point is to look at the candidate’s history. Palin may hold certain opinions (support for creationism or abstinence education), but I don’t see that it has affected how she governs. This may be a function of her executive rather than legislative role. I’d also be curious to know about her judicial appointments, if any, to Alaskan courts. Those probably would have the most bearing on any national implementation of any social agenda to which she aspires. Our discussion makes me realize that I haven’t seen anything like that.

Bridge to nowhere: my impression is that she initially supported it and ultimately ended the project. My concern is that she just took the money for some other use, which isn’t really the same as eliminating it. However, in terms of earmark reduction, I don’t think the Democratic ticket can come close to the Republican one.

As far as changing votes, you probably couldn’t change my vote from McCain. I agree with McCain moreso than Obama on taxes, and I don’t agree with Obama’s energy plan (it’s just too unfeasible). I have greater faith in McCain to handle unforeseen foreign policy issues than Obama.

I don’t think a McCain presidency would be anything special, though. You could convince me that an Obama presidency would be not-bad. Obama has a stronger corps of economic advisors, but he doesn’t have enough positive history to earn my support yet.

Dan -

Yeah, I guess a large part of it is sorta a fundamental disagreement. Taxes, for example- I agree with Obama (and the general Democratic tax plan), you agree with McCain. Fair enough.

A lot of the social issues too: gay marriage, stem-cell research, etc. I don’t know what your positions on those are, but a lot of times I get into disagreements with people where we just fundamentally disagree there. That’s fine too.

After watching McCain’s speech after the election on Tuesday, he seemed like a quite reasonable guy. (yeah, I haven’t watched much of any candidate speaking, really) He’s got a good record, he’s smart and respected, I could believe that he’d be a good president. Same with Biden. I don’t think Palin could be. Why Obama and not Palin? I feel like Obama brings the required seriousness and humility, and Palin is more flippant, condescending even.

Oh god, there I go with “how I feel about candidates”. Hey, why don’t I talk about who I’d like to have a beer with? My argumentative muscles are fried. I’ll have to take a rain check. After all, this argument is moot now, at least for a little while.

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