Posted by: mutantpoodle | February 22, 2008

Typing without thinking

emptywords219smI guess Ronald Brownstein has to fill his column inches with something, but today’s screed in the National Journal is miraculous in its empty speculation.

Get ready for a long road to November.

The media meme of the fall campaign (assuming, as I do now, that it will be McCain vs. Obama) is going to be some variation of “The Maverick vs. the Messiah” – but clearly Brownstein has been reading McCain’s press releases, and not his record:

Obama and McCain would bring some comparable strengths to a general election. Each has attracted more independents than any other candidate in his party. And both Obama and McCain have connected more than their rivals with the hunger for national reconciliation that is emerging after President Bush’s relentlessly polarizing tenure. (They approach the challenge with distinct rhetorical strategies, however, and those differences would grow more apparent as the campaign proceeds.) Even on some hot-button issues — immigration, greenhouse gases — the two overlap; though, again, disagreements would inevitably sharpen in a campaign between them.

You might want to check out what McCain has said lately about immigration, Ron – Mr. Straight Talk couldn’t even bring himself to support his own damned immigration bill from last year!

Contrast it with this applause line from the Hollywood Democratic debate from Obama:

CUMMINGS: On immigration. The Republicans have had a pretty fierce debate over immigration. And it’s now pretty clear that that’s going to be an issue for you all, as well, not just in the general, but it’s bubbled up in some of the primaries. And it’s a divisive issue for you all, as it is for the Republicans. And that was pretty evident when we got a question through Politico.

This is from Kim Millman (ph) from Burnsville, Minnesota. And she says, “there’s been no acknowledgement by any of the presidential candidates of the negative economic impact of immigration on the African-American community. How do you propose to address the high unemployment rates and the declining wages in the African-American community that are related to the flood of immigrant labor?”

Senator Obama, you want to go first on that? And it’s for both of you.

OBAMA: Well, let me first of all say that I have worked on the streets of Chicago as an organizer with people who have been laid off from steel plants, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and, you know, all of them are feeling economically insecure right now, and they have been for many years. Before the latest round of immigrants showed up, you had huge unemployment rates among African-American youth.

And, so, I think to suggest somehow that the problem that we’re seeing in inner-city unemployment, for example, is attributable to immigrants, I think, is a case of scapegoating that I do not believe in, I do not subscribe to. [Emphasis mine]

Still think that McCain and Obama are in the same place? Let’s get back to that, after some further Brownstein pontification:

An Obama-McCain race would probably accelerate the process, under way since the 1960s, of scrambling the parties’ historic class alignment. Obama’s strong support from affluent and college-educated voters in the primaries demonstrates his opportunity to convert Republican-leaning upper-income voters (especially men) now disaffected from President Bush. But Obama’s struggle during the primaries with working-class white women suggests an opening for McCain to court those downscale “waitress moms” with the same security issues that drew many of them to Bush in 2004. The first trend should boost Obama in Virginia and Colorado (two affluent states atop Democratic target lists); the second should help McCain defend Ohio and besiege Pennsylvania.

Against McCain, who would be the oldest newly elected president ever, Obama should generate a big margin and elevated turnout among young people, who have overwhelmingly preferred him over Clinton during the primary. Black turnout should soar, too. But McCain might make inroads among Latinos, who have generally resisted Obama. As the nominee, Obama might benefit from a more enthusiastic base, especially since Republicans were counting on Clinton to energize conservatives restive about McCain.

Why is it that people think that because one demographic (“waitress moms”) favors a particular candidate in the primaries that they will flip parties in the general election, particularly when the other candidate is barely distinguishable on policy grounds from the one they’ve chosen? Does anyone really think that waitress moms are going to see McCain as the second best candidate after Hillary Clinton? Is McCain still the straight-talking friend of Latinos who will be able to woo Latino Democrats away from Obama?

I remember seeing “Death Tax” Frank Luntz on Real Time with Bill Maher say that, while he and the GOP know how to run against Hillary Clinton, he hasn’t a clue how you’d run a campaign against Obama. (Apparently, Luntz is, for real, an Obama fan, so go figure). But that’s not true – he knows, but isn’t willing to say it on national TV.

The way for McCain to win this election won’t be by stealing the voters who supported Hillary in the Democratic primary. It will be by scaring voters into thinking that Obama naively will offer free pilot training to al qaeda, a theme assisted by a whisper campaign by the Roger Stones of the world that Barack Hussein Obama was educated in madrasses his entire life (what, after all, is Harvard Law School?) and is, in fact, an al qaeda plant, trained since before its inception to take over the United States hand it over to Islamic extremists, and that he really wants to marry your white daughter.

Which, of course, makes him a communist.

[Cartooon by Hugh McLeod at]

UPDATE: Frank Luntz really has some issues


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