Why "Any Democrat Would Win" Is Wrong

(Rewritten from a comment on this diary, and crossposted at The Motley Moose

I've seen people -- including some who really ought to know better -- say that any recent Democrat would be automatically elected in the current climate, with an implication that even the current margin and map are merely to be expected given the fundamentals of the election. I disagree -- strongly. That's exactly what we all thought in 2004 -- that anyone could beat Bush. And what we got was a worse defeat than 2000, even against a wildly unpopular President.

Candidates and campaigns matter, and there are reasons that this particular candidate is in the position that he's in right now. And, yes, the fundamentals of the election are lifting Obama's boat, but to make the mistake that it's merely the fundamentals; that there's no particular strength on Obama's part; that any Dem would be where he is; is in my opinion a major error.

Please note -- I do not want to fight the primaries over. Nothing in here should be viewed as disparaging of any other candidate (in particular, as I state below, I believe Hillary would be doing just fine right now, were she the nominee). This is aimed squarely at the view that Obama is no stronger than "generic Democratic Presidential candidate", it's not saying he's the strongest candidate imaginable, nor that only Obama could be winning right now (which is patently absurd).

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Why Davis Matters

(crossposted at The Motley Moose)

I think by now we all know about the revelation that Rick Davis, intrepid McCain campaign manager, was also (through his firm) quietly on the Freddie Mac payroll as recently as last month. I've also seen some allegations that this just won't reach a lot of voters; that they won't care, that it won't make a difference.

My feeling is that this is a serious blow to McCain, and it's a blow that'll keep on hurting longer than some people think it will.

Why do I think that?

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Principles First, Plans Second

(This is an edited version of comments made on tarheel74's "Obama's Time For Leadership" diary. It was suggested that I make it a diary and I agree it works better that way, so I'm editing it into a diary. I do tend to wordy comments that might ought to be diaries in general, anyway :)

Also: crossposted to The Motley Moose)

Obama did exactly the right thing in proposing principles for a plan to bail out the financial industry rather than a plan, both politically and Presidentially. Presidents set agendas and principles and have staffs to draw up the nuts and bolts (or: you don't think FDR crafted all that legislation personally, do you?). Obama's not going to take the lead on crafting a plan in the Senate, can't, and shouldn't. That's a job that's going to require the full attention of the people involved. It's also not what you expect a president to do either. Presidents set principles, goals, objectives, criteria, agendas, that sort of thing. Presidents should be overseers, not wonks (a bit of wonkiness, good; too much, bad). Presidents are not Senators. Acting as a Senator now is a necessary but not sufficient part of Obama's campaign for the Presidency; being Presidential is much more valuable.

I don't think that voters want a specific plan from Obama right now. They don't want to (and won't) read through legislation. Voters want leadership. This is step one of leadership (step two is standing by it and using his position to promote his principles and hold Congress, or at minimum Democrats, to them). McCain (and anyone else Obama didn't mention, in laying out the principles) is now in the "follower" position, unless they start from a different set of principles and win the fight over whose principles are better (and even in that case, Obama's still taken the leadership position by switching the debate from plans to principles).

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Hope comes in little things

(Crossposted on DailyKos)

A few days ago, things were looking pretty bleak (I know for many of you they still are). The Republicans had a solid convention. Palin seemed to be grabbing a lot of attention, and it seemed like perhaps this would be Bush again, none of the obvious lies, contradictions, and problems sticking. Polling was looking worrisome (still is); despite my own feelings about what was going to happen, I was nervous as heck about what the state polling may show.

We've all seen the new state polling, which to me at least says that we who weren't jumping off ledges were more right than the doom-and-gloom crowd about how this was going to play out. But this diary isn't about that, it's about much smaller things that paradoxically give me a lot more hope than do even positive changes in the top-line numbers, whether nationally or state-wide.

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Absolutely Unacceptable

Time is reporting that the McCain campaign believes that it's unimportant that Sarah Palin do media interviews, that people do not care if she does them, and is laying the groundwork for a process in which she won't:

According to Nicole Wallace of the McCain campaign, the American people don't care whether Sarah Palin can answer specific questions about foreign and domestic policy. According to Wallace -- in an appearance I did with her this morning on Joe Scarborough's show -- the American people will learn all they need to know (and all they deserve to know) from Palin's scripted speeches and choreographed appearances on the campaign trail and in campaign ads.

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Palin and the sports metaphors

(crossposted at DKos)

When we first heard that Palin was McCain's choice for VP, we got hit with the inevitable round of sports metaphors. I've been musing about them ever since, because they do have power in defining who a candidate is (and isn't). I'm not sure any of the ones I've seen so far hit the mark, so I figured I'd try out my own.

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Wilentz redux; or, who's really behind the race card

(Cross-Posted at dailyKos)

Sean Wilentz created a big teapot in a tempest around here with his New Republic piece Race Man, in which he blames Barack Obama for all of the racial division in the Democratic primaries. This article has become a rallying point for many Clinton supporters in advancing this claim, partially because no one else has taken up the cry. At the time I, and many others, pointed out that it was poorly documented, relied on argument by assertion and circular logic, and in no way proved its point. Since that, the article has largely fallen into obscurity except among people who occasionally trot it out along with other tired charges.

But now Wilentz is back, with a much more succinct and updated version of the same attack, Obama was the first to play the race card. The New Republic piece at least had the virtue of being poorly circulated outside the blogosphere, but this piece ups the ante by reaching for wide circulation in a state with an upcoming primary.

The piece itself is, if anything, more poorly constructed than the New Republic article. But it is clearly well written; Wilentz has put the words together well to promote the agenda he's promoting, and someone reading with an uncritical eye may be tempted to believe some of his assertions. Thus, this diary: to point a critical eye at Wilentz' Philadelphia Inquirer piece and point out the numerous problems therein.

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Civility, Repect and Lack Thereof, and Lines In The Sand

Alegre's strike against dailyKos got me thinking about the nature of the debate on both sites, about civility and lack thereof, about why well-intentioned writers on both sites sometimes go crazy and vent invective, personal slurs, and curse words on the often undeserving. I started this as a reply in the thread over there, but realized it was turning into a diary, and so it has.

Since this started as a response to Alegre's piece, I suppose a response is still a good thing: I respect Alegre, and then also I don't. I very much respect the personal-experience diaries, her diaries about many worthy causes, even diaries about why she supports Hillary Clinton. I don't respect the "post whatever HillaryClinton.com says, even if it's ridiculous spin" diaries. Someone as smart as she is can see through the spin.

So I won't be joining the strike as she asks, but I do agree with what I think her biggest point is: while civility isn't always justified, there is never a time to take it personal, there is never a time for curse words and invective (with the slight caveat that it's ok, in my opinion, to snarkily call someone the same non-cursing name they just called someone else; if the shoe fits...). Civility is a good thing, even a necessary thing, but there are reasons people go nuts and reasons that crossing some lines over and over demands a firm smackdown -- but not with cursing and invective, and never, ever, with threats and bullying.

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Tragic and Dangerous: The Geraldine Ferraro Debacle

I had dinner tonight with friends, including several women of the right age to remember Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro's historic 1984 run for Vice President as a very important part of their lives. For one, a very vocal supporter of Senator Clinton, Ferraro's run came at the same time as she was getting divorced; seeing a woman in that position made gave her extra strength and confidence. For two others, supporters of Senator Obama, this was their first chance to vote in an election, and they felt wonderfully empowered to be able to vote for a woman. Everyone at the table had fond memories of Ferraro's candidacy (if not the outcome of it).

Their feelings about the current situation were, uniformly, shock, dismay, and worry.

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Diaries

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