Great assessment. It's also what the republicans seem to be banking on: a kind of cultural populism that's pitting urban against rural, educated against uneducated, complex against simple, and knowledge against instinct, among a host of other contrived conflicts, to further divide the country.
The election is really going to be about the soul of the nation, and whether America is going to actually identify itself with ignorance and impulsiveness rather than knowledge and judgment. No wonder the rest of the world is looking on with dread.
The NYT editorial page has taken on both McCain and Palin the last two days while Krugman and Herbert on the op-ed side have likewise called out the LIES of the McPalin campaign.
One has to wonder whether the 4th Estate is waking up to the fact that, should they remain complicit in enabling another republican administration, they might very well be waking up to a President Palin in the next four years.
One has to wonder if it's chemical. For instance, once this one gets set off, he runs through everyone's comment history and troll rates everything he finds, as if it's a way to score points: "Iz in yr hiztory trollin yr comms." Then, after acting out (and perhaps worried about a banning) he posts a few days worth of actual political commentary before going off the deep end again.
It's probably the most frustrating aspect of the internet, navigating past the people who use these forums as a personal playground for conflict and attention, not to mention the certifiably unhinged characters.
Well, the country does seem pretty evenly divided between those who are serious about the issues we face and the way government deals with them, and those who are not. Sometimes this site looks like a pretty good mirror.
Armstrong is becoming an embarassment to the progressive blogosphere. When you reach the point where you're consistently contradicting yourself and your past positions, you start sounding a bit like a particular candidate for president.
Once they get the footage of Obama as the "angry black man," watch for ad appearances by John McCain and Sarah Palin in antebellum costume, with McCain evoking the patrician property owner and Palin perched beneath a parasol in a hoop dress.
Meanwhile, Barack has to be Jackie Robinson on steroids. He has to take a lot of hits while being very careful about how he hits back. Currently, he's doing it with a smile. I'm not sure he has any choice.
Maybe, at some point, McCain's attacks will grow so outlandish and so repulsive to anyone with a moral center that Obama will be able to respond with full righteous force. But even then, I don't think he'll rise to the bait, and wisely so.
Of course nothing is certain, and every venture has the risk of failure, especially military ones. And though the military indeed is charged with execution, the larger policy and the timing is decided by civilian command.
Bush's handling of operations, especially in terms of their timing, has demonstrated that political impact and propraganda value are given as much attention as planning for military success.
I.e. when a sound proposal for going after terrorists in Pakistan was presented by a Democrat, it was derided and dismissed by Bush and the republicans. Only after they believe the public has forgotten their earlier response, and after calculating the political benefits, are they now considering it. But I believe they're doing it at this time not because it's been determined to be good policy. They're just hoping for an October capture of some Al-Qaeda people (achieved through the sage advice of Sen. McCain, natch) to bolster republican chances in November.
I feel confident that an Obama administration won't feel the need to wag the dog or play politics with foreign policy the way this one has.
I've followed Obama's overall strategy from the beginning, and I appreciate what they're doing and how they're doing it. I'm satisfied that they've handled the media hoopla over Palin as well as could be expected, and that going forward, they're going to take the campaign back to where it needs to be. That's just how I roll.
But if you really think that a bunch of "activists" with laptops are going to change the campaign's trajectory, I think you're mistaken. At best, they can have an influence on the media narrative (for good or ill), and push some stories toward the campaign. But communicating with a nasty "wake the hell up you suckers" attitude, and characterizing what's been a pretty damn successful campaign so far as "flailing" and ineffective" is probably not as persuasive as you might think.
It's not that anyone fell for them... it's that through those ads and the subsequent media attention, McCain simply managed to solidify his base. That's what Rovian politics is all about. It's a strategy that happens to work with republicans, and really only with republicans.
Keep in mind, America is still basically an evenly divided country. Republican loyalists who had no enthusiasm over the summer get excited when Democrats are mocked, and came home. Other republicans jumped on board, sensing that they might pull this out after all. The Palin pick only energized them further. Basically, the majority of republicans are now onboard with McCain, as I suspect the Obama people always knew they would be.
That's surprising? Not at all. Like all elections, this was always going to come down to a few states, a few million voters, and will boil down to turnout. Personally, I think this ad and VP-driven bounce McCain is getting now in September in terms of enthusiasm isn't going to hold. How firmly these late-arriving republicans are going to stay onboard has yet to be seen.
Meanwhile, we're still going to have a substantial registration edge over previous years, and an electorate with a strong anti-incumbent inclination. That's why Obama is going to bypass the noise, bypass Palin, and keep going after McCain and the republican party as a continuation of Bush.
I fully expect McCain's attacks to get nastier than modern observers have ever seen. But ultimately, while they'll hold the base together, I don't think they're going to be enough this year. Not this year.
There are many. The polls are essentially even, which is not surprising given that, immediately following the conventions, party affiliations become more firmly established. And this has been arguably McCain's peak media week, a week when nobody has really been even talking about him.
But natiional numbers are meaningless now. The map is becoming clearer, and the battlegrounds are coming more into focus. The numbers from those states are looking good for Obama at this point. It's clear where there is work to be done, and resources are moving into position.
The Obama strategy, which has been a patient one from the very beginning, just infuriates those of you who want to see red meat, blood in the water, take no prisoners politics, because you think that's what got Kerry beat. You want nothing but hard-knuckled attacks, and you can't understand why you're not seeing them. You're so caught up in the 12-hour media cycles, though, that you can't step back and see the larger picture, and teh larger strategy.
Obama reads the mood of the country as different from 2004, significantly. If anything, it looks more like 2006. And that's good news for Democrats.
Sure, the campaign has made adjustments here and there, and given some of the new dynamics Palin introduced, they're probably going to have to go more negative sooner than they wanted, on a national level. But I think it's pretty much going to be what it's been from the start: a slow and steady escalation of the rhetoric, keeping on-message and on the issues, while saving the hardest-hitting ads for local markets.
The McCain-Palin ticket is gambling that they can keep up a steady stream of attacks, negative ads, and avoidance of the issues (and interviews) for seven weeks without suffering any backlash. I don't think they can. I don't think the country's in the mood for it.
Want another reason to be optimistic? Barack Obama is a far more skilled politician than you, or anyone blogging on this site, is a political analyst. He's assembled a team that came out of nowhere to win a hard-fought primary, that succeeded in then quickly uniting an evenly divided party, and has kept its head while everyone about them has been losing theirs.