Sunday, 25 May 2008


I don’t really see what all the fuss is about, but then again I’m not a Democrat so I don’t hold the Kennedy fils (John, Bobby, and Ted) as the Holy Trinity of modern American politics either. Maybe it’s genetic; my mother, by her own account, didn’t cry when she learned that JFK had been shot.

All that said, the analogy is pretty stupid, not because it’s offensive but because it’s specious. Much like in NASCAR, where there is a useful division between “prehistory” and “the modern era,” there is no valid comparison between anything today to anything that happened before 1972 when it comes to Democratic nomination politics. And pretty much everyone who was actively campaigning into June since then was either a loser in the primaries or the general election; Clinton would be better off not reminding Democrats of that history.

Friday, 25 April 2008

QotD, not-so-super-delegates edition

Marc Ambinder on the uncommitted Democratic superdelegates:

So if Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), who comes close to calling former President Clinton a racist, who believes that African Americans think that the Clintons “are committed to doing everything they possibly can to damage Obama to a point that he could never win,” who says these things in multiple venues (Reuters, the New York Times).... still won’t endorse and still won’t call for Clinton to drop out, should it surprise us that other superdelegates are even more shy?

Personally my suspicion is that a large part of the non-commitment by the superdelegates is that it goes against the way politicians deal with the tough issues—in large packs like roll-call votes where they can be at least somewhat anonymous. There is no “safe vote” now—or at least there’s nothing that is obviously the safe vote—so why commit now when in a few weeks you might have the political cover to commit after the heat is over?

Friday, 18 April 2008

Voters don't give a damn about policy, news at 11

Alex Tabarrok on the open letter being sent to ABC about the debate that no sane person lots of people watched earlier this week on their network:

The only thing the signatories got wrong was where to send the letter. The letter should have been addressed to the American public. After all, this debate, which came in the flurry of all the tabloid journalism of the past several weeks, was the most-watched of the 2008 presidential campaign. The public got what it wanted.

I’d add the caveat that if there were any substantive policy differences of consequence between Clinton and Obama, this might actually be a worthwhile complaint about the Pennsylvania debate. However the policy debate at present between the two candidates is over minor semantic differences between public policy agendas at levels of detail that will have to be negotiated with other policy actors years down the road. I dare say the nuances of the differences between the two candidates’ health care policies will have the same impact on the average American as whether or not Obama wears a flag pin or not.

Actually, given chaos theory the presence or absence of a flag pin might actually impact the weather in six years’ time. No such hope exists for whether or not there is an individual mandate buried in the health care plan that gets sent to the Hill and then immediately thereon to the nearest shredder.

Monday, 7 April 2008

QotD, having your cake and eating it too edition

Dan Drezner today, on Democratic posturing on trade:

Just to repeat myself:

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Democrats cannot simultaneously talk about improving America’s standing abroad while acting like a belligerent unilateralist when it comes to trade policy.

A close second, from the same source: “A bitter irony of this latest kerfuffle is that this will likely be the most prominent mention of Colombia during the presidential campaign—just as the NAFTA imbroglio will have been the most prominent mention of Canada.”

Saturday, 5 April 2008

None of the above

Jeff Jarvis considers donating money to the Titanic Hillary Clinton’s campaign and notes it is a violation of the canons of journalistic ethics:

What do you say: venial sin or act of grace?

Sorry, the correct answer is c: a waste of your hard-earned money. Thanks for playing, though!

Thursday, 7 February 2008

More Obamamania

The Times-Picayune reports on Obama’s visit to Tulane this morning. I was somewhat tempted to go but my desire to sleep in today (since I have a 15+-hour day on Saturday, in addition to the regular 8 am class and the tornado warning that resulted in me getting no sleep Tuesday night) outweighed my desire to stand in line at the crack of dawn.

Meanwhile, Tubby will be here in New Orleans tomorrow to further his apparent goal of running his wife’s campaign into the ground.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Back of the envelope

As noted by me at OTB, one question going forward for Democrats is whether or not Barack Obama’s voter breakdown by race carries into the next primary states. Here’s some quick-and-dirty math for Florida’s zero-delegates-except-if-Hillary-says-so primary on Tuesday.

Assuming Obama gets 80% of the black vote and 25% of the non-black vote, and 24% of Florida Democratic primary voters are black (assuming no differential turnout, based on Florida’s registration statistics from December 31st), Obama should get around 38% of the Florida vote. That’s well ahead of how Obama has been polling in Florida, so I’m not at all convinced that the extrapolation works well even though Obama’s average has been tracking upwards slightly in the state and one would expect that Florida whites would be less racially conservative than South Carolina whites. I think the safe money is that Clinton will still win the state and its 0 delegates comfortably, but I wouldn’t be overly surprised with a result like 40–35 or so (with both candidates receiving about equal numbers of those 0 delegates at stake, given the Democrats’ high threshold-PR rules).

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Ho hum

Vacation (of a sort) continues. I flipped between the NFL playoffs, some Ashley Judd movie that was on CBS, and the ABC/Facebook debates some last night, and probably paid more attention to the Republicans than the Democrats—I wish I could say it was because I changed my registration to Republican before I left, although that is true, but really it had more to do with my exceedingly low tolerance for listening to Hillary Clinton (there’s your likability problem) and my much higher tolerance for Ashley Judd and John Madden. The competitiveness of the Jaguars-Steelers game probably was a factor as well.

Much is being said about the Obama boomlet and the gushing reaction he has received from across the political spectrum; the most notable to me was that originating from Joe Scarborough, a guy from a different ideological planet than Obama. Does Obama pull away Republicans from Huckabee in a general election matchup? Like James Joyner, I’m skeptical—after all, I’ve read The American Voter and 47 subsequent years’ worth of political science research that says that partisanship is fairly sticky and it’s the primary determinant of vote choice—but elections are won at the margins, not based on the behavior of the bulk of voters. Obama would also be more likely to arouse opposition from Republicans in Congress when he tacks too far to the left; the behavior of the GOP with a Republican in the White House who’s significantly more fiscally conservative than Mike Huckabee suggests that Reagan’s 11th Commandment is more valued by the bulk of the congressional GOP than fiscal sanity. (I’d probably vote for Obama over Huckabee… but then again I voted for John Kerry in 2004, so I’m probably not representative of the typical Republican.)

Interestingly enough, both Alex Tabarrok and Greg Mankiw appear to give the “most economically literate” endorsement from the Democratic debate to Obama. Then again, on any stage containing John Edwards, the threshold for economic literacy is pretty damn low.

Wednesday, 29 June 2005

Election fever: Catch it!

More presidential election speculation from Hei Lun of Begging to Differ, who makes the early case for Hillary Clinton in 2008 after surveying the field and finding it, to put it mildly, wanting. Don’t forget, there’s only 1,223 shopping days left until Decision 2008!