Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sunstein: Ridiculousness About Redistribution

Cass Sunstein, from today's TNR (reprinted in full with permission of the author):

Ridiculousness About Redistribution: Drudge and Others

In the last few days, the McCain campaign has portrayed Barack Obama as a "socialist," and apparently the campaign and others are combing through Obama's past statements to see if he has ever favored "redistribution."

The latest ridiculousness, featured in a screaming headline on the Drudge Report and described under the title "Shame" on the National Review website, involves some remarks made by Obama on public radio in 2001.

In that interview, Obama was discussing efforts, in the 1960s and 1970s, to redistribute resources through the federal courts. Obama said that the Warren Court was not so terribly radical, because it "never entered into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society." He complained, not that the Court refused to enter into those issues, but that "the civil-rights movement became so court-focussed,"

In answering a caller's question, he said that the court "is just not very good at" redistribution. Obama added, with approval, that the Constitution "is generally a charter of negative liberties."

Obama's principal claim--about the institutional limits of the courts--was made by many conservatives (including Robert Bork) in the 1960s and 1970s: Courts should not attempt to guarantee "positive" rights, or interpret the Constitution to redistribute wealth. Obama is squarely rejecting the claim that was made by many liberal lawyers, professors, and judges at the time--and that is being made by some today.

Apparently, though, some people are thinking that Obama is displaying his commitment to redistribution, at least in principle. We have to make some distinctions here. The word "redistribution" is easily politicized, but, in terms of actual policy, it seems to include the Social Security Act (which redistributes wealth), the Americans with Disabilities Act (which also redistributes), educational reform that would improve schools in poor areas, Head Start programs, statutes allowing parental leave, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the progressive income tax, and much more. Almost all candidates for public office (including Senator McCain) favor significant forms of redistribution. With his court-skeptical statements in 2001, Obama was referring to the sorts of claims being made in courts in the relevant period, for which the word "redistribution" has often been used. (Those claims involved denials of education and medical care, and discrimination in welfare programs.)

It is true that Obama supports the Earned Income Tax Credit (an idea pioneered by Republicans). It is also true that Obama supports the minimum wage. It is true too that Obama is centrally concerned with decent education for all -- and the right to education was at stake in perhaps the most important case that Obama is discussing. It is true, finally, that Obama wants to make health care available for all. But it is truly ridiculous to take Obama's remarks in 2001 as suggesting that the nation should embark on a large-scale redistributive scheme.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Maverick Personality Disorder

Palin may reject complicated scientific definitions.

Despite this, McCain and Palin have managed to make a contribution to the scientific literature.

Before this campaign, the term "maverick" was used loosely, imprecisely.

Now, on the basis of extensive behavioral observations and study, we can firmly say what a "maverick" actually is.

It's a personality disorder:

Maverick Personality Disorder 400.00 (Cluster B)

Maverick Personality Disorder is defined by a tendency to make rash, impulsive decisions that are regarded as both bold and correct--even if the decision directly contradicts another "bold" and "correct" decision that has been made only moments before. This impulsivity is to be distinguished from that seen in Borderline Personality Disorder in that in the latter disorder, self-destructive behavior is overt and intentional, whereas in Maverick Personality Disorder, the impulsive behavior is largely self-destructive, but the individual is rarely aware of it, instead thinking that they are acting "from their gut" in a reasonable fashion.

Sharp mood swings, dramatic gestures, and statements that reflect poor judgment and at times reduced perception of reality (e.g. "the fundamentals of the economy are sound") often occur in the disorder.

A. Three of the following symptoms, displayed in a persistent fashion over a period of 1 year, are necessary for the disorder:

a) Impulsive, rash thoughts and decision-making, often on matters of considerable long-term importance, the impact of which may have major deterimental effects on the individual or others. The impulsive decisions are often justified by such statements as being a "courageous thinker", and by disavowing thought and deliberation as negative characteristics. Notably, despite repeated negative outcomes of this impulsive decision making, the individual still maintains that this behavioral style is correct, and will become testy and irritable when challenged, or when reminded of previous negative outcomes. Ideas that are entirely at odds with each other may be seen concurrently, and such contradictions may be presented by the individual as entirely rational.

2) Dramatic, sweeping, impulsive and grandiose gestures that are meant to change a situation in its entirety, yet are often poorly thought through. The individual may present these acts as gallant and heroic, yet the individual often appears desperate, and provides only a paper-thin rationale for the efficacy of the actions.

3) Extreme mood swings or changes in affect, from apparently happy, to extreme anger and rage. Often these emotions will occur simultaneously, as in the "angry grimacing smile."

4) Binges, sprees or reckless/dangerous behavior without recognizing the potential consequences of such behavior, such as shopping sprees, entering interviews without knowledge of the subject at hand, or naming Vice Presidential candidates without sufficient vetting.

5) "Going Rogue": The tendency to stray from previous professional, social and personal commitments in an effort to protect the self.

6) Dissociative Speech Disturbances: The marked tendency to speak for extensive period of time without any apparent linkage between speech centers and centers of actual thought. The individual may appear entirely confident in what they are saying, speaking at length without pause, without displaying any deliberation, cerebration, contemplation or any other forms of thought whatsoever. With these speech disturbances may occur various accompanying behaviors, such as winking, thumb-raising, etc.

7) Dissociative Changes in Ideation: The individual may disavow major aspects of what they claimed to be the center of their beliefs--e.g., the viability of major tax cuts for the wealthy.

8) Verbal Echolalia: The seemingly uncontrollable repetition of certain words and phrases, even when they appear to have ritualistic meaning or have little or no purpose, remaining utility, or underlying truth. E.g., "My friends", "Socialist", "Joe the Plumber".

B. These behaviors must cause marked impairment in one's professional activities or campaign, and are obsessively maintained even when their destructive impact is clear.

C. These behaviors cannot occur exclusively during a period of Bipolar/Manic Depressive Illness, Major Depression, or political inactivity.

Codes for severity:

MPD Mild 400.01: Mutters to self and wanders grumpily during debate; threatens to attack Russia because it is in view;

MPD Moderate 400.02: Races to "save economy" that he claims is fundamentally sound; Appeals to others as "Average Mom", then wears $150,000 in wardrobe and makeup;

MPD Severe 400.03: Invokes "Joe the Plumber" despite long past sell-by date; Sits down in interview with Katie Couric.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

McCain Aide: Palin "Going Rogue": Predicted Two Weeks Earlier

Today, an adviser to the McCain campaign reported that Palin was "going rogue", increasingly striking out on her own. From CNN:

With 10 days until Election Day, long-brewing tensions between GOP vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin and key aides to Sen. John McCain have become so intense, they are spilling out in public, sources say.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at a rally in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at a rally in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday.

Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin "going rogue."

A Palin associate, however, said the candidate is simply trying to "bust free" of what she believes was a damaging and mismanaged roll-out.

McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. They cited an instance in which she labeled robocalls -- recorded messages often used to attack a candidate's opponent -- "irritating" even as the campaign defended their use. Also, they pointed to her telling reporters she disagreed with the campaign's decision to pull out of Michigan.

A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

"She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," said this McCain adviser. "She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.

"Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom."

This was predicted here beginning almost two weeks ago, here, here and here.


It looks like Palin may be going off of the reservation--she's decided McCain will lose and is now, within limits, beginning to take care of herself and her own future.

As noted earlier here, Palin further plans her future beyond the current campaign. As you could see on Saturday night, where she could barely restrain herself from objecting to the "pageant walk" segment (Watch carefully; Biography, "Sarah": Sarah was always a stubborn girl), she ultimately can't prevent herself from going her own way.

Like McCain, she is supremely unreflective. Restive, dissatisfied with deliberation and direction, determined to do things her own way, appearing to itch to strike out immediately on her own--as she has begun to do several times in this latter part of the campaign--she will act on these impulses. If depressed, she will act on the basis of that depression, immediately reactive, without thinking of its impact and contribution to her actions.

I think this is amazing that this was predictable, if one understood her personality correctly when vetting her, yet the GOP did not predict it--until now.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Borderline Campaign Disorder: The "B" Hoax

On a cold night in Pittsburgh, a disturbed young woman committed an act all too common--she called in an attack on herself, stating that she had been attacked by a black man who had robbed her, and, seeing the McCain sticker on her car, in a fit of social activism somehow compatible with his immediately previous psychopathy, slashed a "B" into her face. That the B was, in fact, backwards--as would be the case if one was putting it on themselves while looking into a mirror--was no doubt meant as a literary irony, such as the "Amerika" of earlier social radicals, while the lightness of the scratching--despite the "attacker's" cited "rage"--was no doubt a signal of his electoral ambivalence in this tight race.

Of course, the event, implausible as fact even to the most rabid fictionalists on the right-wing, was a hoax. Anyone who understands the diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder is well aware of what happened here. Extreme needs for attention combine with physically destructive behavior--most often seen in cutting one's own skin--in an act meant to bring outer love and attention as it attacks inner self-hatred.

The act is rarely carefully planned. One of the key features of Borderline Personality Disorder is impulsivity. The act is usually spurred by rage. As a result, they spring to action, in order to address the immediate need, without any consideration of how the behavior will later unravel. There is an intense desire to address a powerful sense of abandonment with an impulsive and ultimately self-destructive action.

In a supreme irony, these characteristics mirror the tactical efforts of the McCain/Palin ticket throughout this campaign: impulsivity, an emphasis on the grand and immediate gesture, and one that is poorly thought through and is ultimately self destructive.

Perhaps the act was wiser than it seems.

Perhaps it was meant as homage.

UPDATE: Woman has been identified as having a history of mental illness.
If this was used by media or by the campaign, it is reprehensible.

UPDATE: Police report, as predicted above, that they believe injuries may have been self-inflicted.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Field Dressed

UPDATE--Nov. 7: The revelations regarding Palin not only by the McCain team, but by Newsweek in their extensive Election Project--containing detailed revelations held until after the election (the extent of her role in the shopping spree, where she actually asked low level aides to purchase clothing for her on their own personal credit cards; her not being aware that Africa was a continent)--support many of the issues of impulsivity, lack of deliberative thought, and self-directed behavior that were described, before these revelations, below, as well as here, and provide some indication of the considerable recklessness of the Palin choice--and the risk we managed to thwart.--AJL

When I heard of Sarah Palin's unprecedented clothing and makeup costs, my thoughts went to three areas.

First--the way in which her ambition overshadows all. John Bitney, an important aide to Palin, who has known her since high school, and served in a central position in her Gubernatorial campaign, has noted the persistence of that ambition throughout her career. It is unique, even among politicians I have seen, in that there seems to be absolutely no hesitation between thought and utterance--indeed, there seems to be no thought, just a fierce competitiveness and drive to win from which words emerge, ordered around a long determined and certain world view.

For Palin, there is no contradiction between saying that one is representative of average "hockey moms" and fervently going on a RNC funded shopping spree the likes of which has never been seen in Vice Presidential candidate history. Why? Because both are right. Why? Because that's what good people do--and we are good. And beneath--reflecting the absolutely stubborn and fierce determination that defines her--I'm going to have what I think is right, and do what I need to win.

Second--I thought of the hoarding mentality that can emerge when some are presented with unexpected, rare opportunity that might be snatched away--to take advantage of the moment while they can, to reap the spoils while they are before you, to use all parts of the animal. Such an impulse no doubt contributed to the splurge, and stood in such stark contradiction to the campaign's message that it was necessary to later state that the stockpile would be donated to Charity after the campaign.

Why this charitable spirit did not accompany the initial purchases went unaddressed, as did the thoughts of the Joe and Jane plumbers who had contributed to the campaign without the intention of purchasing a red leather jacket from Saks. However, they were out of sight and she was likely as determined in mind as always-- to shop with the best of them, with the enthusiasm vigor and competitiveness that is her hallmark. Have no doubt--if McCain were to win and Palin were to become President, there would be a good deal of this type of impulsive, unconsidered action--and an unprecedented amount of cleaning up of the messes left behind.

Third, I recalled a statement made last week--that Palin's handlers have to keep her from becoming depressed upon learning of negative press coverage.

I found this particularly important. When you look at Palin, you see a constant dynamic: a millisecond of anxiety--how did I get here, I don't know this, what I am supposed to do--met immediately by the instant determined response--this is what I will say, this is what I will do, and I will say it as fast as I can, even before I think about it, I already know that it is true.

Like an undersized and combative guard in basketball, the emphasis is on the quick cut, fast and direct--not whether it is right, but whether it is quick, certain, charming, and made. If she says it fast enough, she can never be caught.

This is admirable as a scrappy basketball player and no doubt contributes to affection for her--but in a job which requires thought, it is disastrous. When so much is based on the immediate, unconsidered impulse--the fusion of what is "good" and what is good for me; nothing receives deliberate, planned thought, and all too often, as in this case, we'll just have to fix it afterward.

Like McCain, she is supremely unreflective. Restive, dissatisfied with deliberation and direction, determined to do things her own way, appearing to itch to strike out immediately on her own--as she has begun to do several times in this latter part of the campaign--she will act on these impulses. If depressed, she will act on the basis of that depression, immediately reactive, without thinking of its impact and contribution to her actions.

For Palin, there is no contradiction, no incongruity, between defiantly avowing her stance as an everyday "hockey mom", fighting for the "Average Joes" against the elitists, and marching into Neiman Marcus armed for $75,000 of subsidized shopping. Both are done with the drive, immediacy and action that are permitted through the removal of consideration or thought--e.g., buy, baby, buy.

Given this, if McCain were elected and Palin to become President, a $150,000 shopping spree might be the least of our concerns.

UPDATE: As predicted, McCain adviser stated today that Palin is "going rogue", increasingly striking out on her own.

Monday, October 20, 2008

McCain's Health

Today's Pew Research findings indicate increasing concerns about John McCain's age, behavior and judgment. All of these may be related to health. The physical and cognitive functioning of the person holding, arguably, the most important position on Earth is certainly relevant to the very essentials of the Presidency, such as decision-making, ability to attend to multiple and constantly shifting events, scenarios and possibilities, ability to persist and to remain both strong and flexible under stress, and the abilities to handle staff capabilities, demands, and agendas, to name but a few key areas--but the public has not seemed to be quite ready to deal with the question of McCain's health. It has been regarded either in categorical terms, or in humor regarding his age--such as listing the number of jobs he would be ineligible to hold at his age (Judgeships, commercial airline pilot, etc.), the AP noting that "six-packs, automatic transmissions and the American Express card were all introduced after he was born", a site devoted entirely to McCain's age entitled "John McCain. Old. Really Old"; the Harvard Satyrical Press noting that he "voted for the Articles of Confederation before he voted against them" and so on. Others have simply avoided the issue entirely (except, often, for the right-wing, which argued strenuously and extensively that McCain was "too old" in multiple publications during the primary fight, publications that have now grown curiously silent on the issue).

In the current situation--a nation beset by financial crisis; the existence of multiple unstable foreign policy arenas as well as critical future decisions with regard to the stabilization of others; and the essential need to steadily recover from eight years of a largely disastrous domestic and foreign policies, has combined with evidence--the choice of a largely unqualified Vice Presidential candidate, and the impulsive, reactive, and often shifting decision-making, based largely on the needs and contingencies of the moment, that a McCain Presidency would lack the steady, broad, persistent and flexible intellectual and functional foundations necessary at this critical time. The reasons for the reactions and decision-making seen thus far are legion. However, one important contributing factor--and one that, by actuarial standards, would be likely to grow worse during a McCain Presidency--is the candidate's health. Of course, it is important to be careful in making conclusions about health without a physician's examination and report; nevertheless, it is also important to make reasonable inferences about functioning that are made from the data, given the potential significance of the information to our decision. This is information that any citizen can find and use to educate themselves about questions about McCain's health, just as journalists do or wish to do. It's important to be aware like any good citizen of the health of their nation's President.

Physically, Senator McCain has shown an admirable vigor on the campaign trail that certainly a minority of 72-year old men could match. He is driven like few men of his age towards such a demanding goal.

However, in terms of physical functioning, he has also suffered from four episodes of one of the most serious forms of skin cancer melanoma, including two malignant melanomas removed from his arm and temple during a six-hour operation in 2000--which also included removal of his salivary gland and multiple lymph nodes in his neck, as well as the removal in 2002 of a melanoma on his nose. This puts into stark contrast his choice of a Vice Presidential candidate who has struggled to discuss basic aspects of domestic and foreign policy at a time of vital demands in both areas. Yet, as we will see below, the McCain campaign has fought to keep access to his voluminous medical records from the scrutiny necessary to accurately determine current and past functioning, and likely prognoses. Indeed, as we will see, in May 2008, the McCain campaign limited access to these records to one local newspaper and one national newspaper who were allowed to observe the records for a limited period; they did not allow photocopying and did not release the records. Moreover, records were only provided for the previous eight years, leaving out thousands of pages of McCain's medical history from all of those prior years.

Cognitively, in terms of emotional functioning and intelligence, McCain often displays a canny sense of the moment and readily moves towards certain forms of humor. He is not unintelligent--surely more intelligent than his predecessor it is sad but true to say, and has shown growth and development in certain ways that represent admirable, if in part perhaps politically opportunistic, changes.

At the same time, the core individual is emotionally shot through with a persistent anger than burns through even his most humorous moment--noted even in the largely hagiographic biography by Bob Timberg. The resentment, the need to prove, the anger at what has occurred--both during Hanoi and long before--is always there, driving him on as a prime referent, shaping his reactions to events, his positions and inflexibility on what is right, even the wryness of his humor as compared to his sense of rage, drawing everything in his orbit to that central point, in a way that is even more fundamental than Bush's familial resentments--far more willing, in movement from that central point, to make the impulsive, "What the hell" gesture, far less burdened by the momentary, quickly covered self doubt.

If the key emotion is an impulsive, reactive rage shot through by the long and hard learned bare container of tactics--there are many moments when you can see him actually engaging in the suppressive act of not exploding--the cognitive concerns are of more recent origin, but also now highly relevant. As the journal Annals of Internal Medicine noted in Prevalence of Cognitive Impairment without Dementia in the United States (2008), nearly one-quarter of adults who are age 71 or above suffer from the disorder known as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Other estimates of the disorder among the elderly have ranged from 17-34%. MCI is often a precursor to Alzheimer's Dementia--that is, those who are diagnosed with MCI often progress to this more serious disorder of memory and functioning as they continue to age. Indeed, in comparison to elderly persons who are healthy, who develop dementia at a rate of 1-2% per year, those who have MCI have been estimated to progress to dementia at a rate of 10-15% per year. The Mayo Alzheimer Disease Center has found that, for those who have MCI, the progression to Alzheimer's rated as high as 80% in MCI populations studied for 6 years.

During the 2000 election campaign, McCain's cognitive function--his memory, his tendency to make notable and cognitively revealing slips--was not at issue. The emotional factors--impulsivity, rage--were clear, if somewhat better controlled (this issue of decreased control due to cognitive impairment is another issue to be discussed in the next section). However, there was no evidence, for example of memory impairment.

Occasional errors of memory and verbal slips are common for all of us. However, during the 2008 campaign, McCain has shown repeated errors of memory and misstatements that are at the very least suggestive of MCI; for example: not once, but repeatedly referring to the existence of Czechoslovakia, a nation that does not exist--suggesting not only the original error of memory, but the forgetting of the error consistent with an impairment in the ability to remember later-learned information characteristic of MCI; the confusion of among the nations of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and which nations border one another; the inability to remember his own voting record on major/substantive issues, such as contraception; inability recalling his stance on discussions with Spain, or the nation's Prime Minister, referring to Vladimir Putin as the "President of Germany", and forgetting a question that he had just been asked in Panama City--seemingly unable to focus on or follow the words that had just been said, although clearly audible and sensible content.

In distinguishing between ordinary memory loss and MCI, it is important to realize that MCI occurs across multiple areas or domains of cognition. Thus, in addition to showing memory loss, those with MCI also show word-finding difficulty and other language disturbances, as well as difficulties with attention, such as focusing on and following other people's speech. As the initial presentation of these is mild, and the individual is otherwise able to function, they may deny such difficulties. The importance here is the disturbance in multiple areas of cognition. While certainly deserving of greater study, it is significant to note that there is evidence of each of these in the examples above.

To Follow: McCain's Health: Part II

On Robocalls, Palin Strays Further Off the Slowly Sliding Glacier

As noted earlier here, Palin further plans her future beyond the current campaign. As you could see on Saturday night, where she could barely restrain herself from objecting to the "pageant walk" segment (Watch carefully; Biography, "Sarah": Sarah was always a stubborn girl), she ultimately can't prevent herself from going her own way.

From WaPo:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin last night criticized the automated calls the Republican National Committee and her own campaign have put out linking Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama to former Weather Underground member William Ayers, even though she did not call for a halt the controversial practice.

"If I called all the shots, and if I could wave a magic wand," Palin told her traveling press corps as she stood on the tarmac here, "I would be sitting at a kitchen table with more and more Americans, talking to them about our plan to get the economy back on track and winning the war and not having to rely on the old conventional ways of campaigning that includes those robocalls and includes spending so much money on the television ads that, I think, is kind of draining out there in terms of Americans' attention span."

"They get a bit irritated with just being inundated, and you're seeing a lot of that of course with the huge amounts of money that Barack Obama is able to spend on his ads and his robocalls also," she added, though she did not say if she had discussed her concerns with campaign officials.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From Mighty Desperation, Little ACORNs Grow

Expect ACORN to be raised tonight, in the all-too-well known balancing act of insinuation and implication used to fill in the gaps of insufficient actual evidence of the argument being insinuated, with the hope that quickly those who are insufficiently aware of the difference between impulse inducing bad sounding words, and actual evidence, and who are not accustomed to spotting the quick glide between inflammatory suggestion and connection to one unrelated to that suggestion will be deluded into suspicion and fury.

Anyone who has encountered or worked for one of these grassroots organizations in their youth knows exactly what has happened here. ACORN hires hourly workers to collect registrations. It's difficult to hire a team 0f workers who will be infallible and trustworthy at any level--hence the shakeout on Wall Street--and is also true here. Therefore, of the millions of registrations collected, some of these are done by people who are trying to make their money quickly-m the so they create dubious registrations--e.g. Tony Romo--to get paid fast. This is the equivalent of 10 of 1000 people hired to flyer a neighborhood dumping the flyers in the trash--the motive here is easy money and the reason is that when you hire people, you get some people who do this.

This is ugly, common, and unavoidable in all work--ask the pampered AIG executives who, after the bailout, accepted their magnificent dinners and massages. Both are execrable. Neither is voter fraud.

This is where the tiresomely repetitive machine of the right once again begins to slowly turn its gears in its negative alchemy in the creation of motivated, baseless, paranoia. Clear away the smoke and mirrors, the attempt to create groundless outrage , the feeling of suspicion without actual fact, the way that Republicans so often have chose to wage their electoral efforts in recent decades, and

It's simple:

ACORN is registering people. These are not votes.

ACORN is required by law to turn in all completed forms--even if filled out by an imaginary figure like Spongebob Squarepants or Mitt Romney.

These registrations are simply being filled out so these hourly workers can get done fast. It is unlikely that they will also have engaged in a secret cabal to have Mr. Squarepants show up to vote. If he were, Bob would be cast away from the polls as all such registrants would be. Abraham Lincoln will not be allowed to vote when he shows up in Tallahassee. No vote. Not voter fraud.

The Republicans know this, as they knew when they mounted their previous hue and cry over "voter fraud" that showed no actual occurrences of such fraud.

This is simply the same effort--couldn't they at least develop a novel approach to factless assertion?--to stir the anger of the base, and hope that in the whirlwind of emotion, devoid of the actual idea they are insinuating, that, in the confusion, fear, and lack of knowledge of busy voters, something may stick. In addition, given the abject failure of the more overt unleashing of the furies this past week, which resulted in a fall in the polls, they are trying to implement the slur and tar strategy in a slightly--emphasize slightly--more subtle way, by suggesting a "radical" "grassroots" effort to "steal". You get the idea.

If only it weren't projection. However, we've seen this pattern of decrying the same action that they have done and their enemies have not done before--for example, since the beginning of this election cycle.

Don't fall for this desperate stirring of the pot. If they have to win on another attempt to induce inchoate, baseless fear, it means that once again, they can't win on the substance. We know what we get in such cases. Do what you ordinarily do with acorns. Children may study them for a moment, for their brief novelty--to them. You?

You walk around them and continue towards your goal.

UPDATE: 9:39 p.m. I hate to say I told you so...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Palin: Off of the Reservation?

It looks like Palin may be going off of the reservation--she's decided McCain will lose and is now, within limits, beginning to take care of herself and her own future.

The Paranoid Style Meets The Issue of Race In American Politics

Richard Hofstadter's seminal article "The Paranoid Style In American Politics" portrayed, for the first time with widespread impact, the insular and delusional suspiciousness that characterizes much of the "critique", if it can be called that, of the far right and, at times, of the extreme left.

Standing just one notch away from pure delusion--and often not even hewing that distance--and embracing those whose functionality--such as it may be--is supported by and compels the repetition of these fantasies, we see this style in every electoral cycle, manifesting itself, remarkably anew, in new minds, with the same characteristic conspiratorial thinking--the grasping of an ambiguous, or equally likely, unresearched but conspiratorial-sounding detail or name--into a grand plan, foggy in specifics but surely--as it has assumed its premise--secretly lurching towards an all powerful hegemony.

As always, they give people too much credit. As always, they are among the bitter powerless, whose manifest lack of explanation for that lack of power turns itself into a bitter projection--if they can't have it, their secret masters must, and so on. It gives them a path to power through projection--they see the secret truth, and gain power through it's proclamation--thus "None Dare Call It Conspiracy", thus the "Clinton Chronicles", thus "9/11 Truth", etc.

Each election cycle, the impulse forces itself to burgeon anew, straining to fit facts to its preexisting need, straining to grow into the dark.

Now--it becomes interesting.

Here--we have a candidate whose power combines with the fact that he is the first of a long oppressed minority to rise to this position. How, we might ask, will this impulse find a way to strain itself upwards towards conspiratorial theories of all embracing power? A challenge to the force of the delusional impulse.

In the last few weeks, we have been seeing the development of this narrative.

Touch him with the brush of radicalism--despite the fact that Obama's adult life story has been one of consensus-building and unifying--a clear and deliberate move towards the shared need, and away from the radical fringe. The key has been to forge the conspiratorial, paranoid impulse with racial fears, to create the combined message: You don't know who he really is.

As in: "Who really is Barack Obama?"

This lights the torch to the paranoid style in full force, turning it upon ill-formed objects--Bill Ayers, ACORN, that by their mere sound and invocation, can be whipped by this eternal historical force into a storm of hatred. To those prone to such thinking, these become absolute evidence, touchstones, the words they have been waiting for.

For the conspiratorialist, the obvious and central characteristic of Obama's personality--the move to unify, which is inherent in his speech, actions and development, is--as is so often the case in this style--evidence of its opposite. Of course, if he were in fact a radically divisive figure, this would also serve as evidence of the same "radical" characteristic. That's the paranoid style--either it's there, or it's masterfully hidden: Heads I win, tails you lose (at least until medicated).

You likely have seen this kind of thinking developing on the outer edges of the message boards and twittering over recent months.

However, it was only with the cementing of the McCain-Palin team that the style has begun to grow into its fuller portrayal. Each of the two essential elements of the admixture is used to reinforce the other--"Radicalism"--Bill Ayers, ACORN--provides license, justification and cover to those who experience a deeper prejudice, and that very prejudice leads those who experience it to draw in unexamined, tangential "evidence" to prove to themselves or others his inauthenticity or "radicalism."

McCain, and to a greater extent Palin, have used this admixture at rallies to attempt to create some form of enthusiasm in the electorate. It has proven to be a volatile mixture, this new alloy of the paranoid style, and, in their efforts to provide some spark to a moribund campaign, they have been unable to keep this lightning in the bottle.

The remarkable and horrifying shouts we have heard over the past weeks did not originate with this campaign--but they were liberated by it, allowing this raw and stark version of the paranoid style to be unleashed by and feed off of these insinuations. We have seen this kind of visceral unleashing of the paranoid style, driven by fear and the impulsive, momentary, compensatory power of stereotypic hatred before, in other nations. Not here, and not in this way.

There are limits to winning--and losing--ugly. And there are ways to fan and contain the paranoid style. I suspect that Plain believes that she is speaking the plain truth to these audiences--and that there is a plain truth to be spoken, and that she already knows what it is--and no more.

It is John McCain's responsibility to put this darker manifestation of a dangerous and unnecessary dybbuk back in the bottle. I can see he understands what has been released--and perhaps would wish to retain just those parts that could meet his ambitions, without its consequent furies.

Just as you would rather lose an election than lose a war, John--I believe that you would rather lose an election than to unleash, justify, imprint and allow this distorted vision on this society. It was not you, it is not you, and it should not be you or us. Consider it your newest, and your best, call to courage.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

"That One"

What a very odd thing for McCain to say.

McCain repeatedly invoked the need for a "steady hand on the tiller" tonight--for someone who will be calm and cool in the crises that the upcoming years will present us.

Yet this is a man who is utterly unable to contain his contempt--even on a night when, even as Bill Bennett says, he needed to "break through", and even when such a strange expression of disdain could only highlight pettiness, anger and partisanship that voters wish that candidates would steer away from in the greater interest of the nation.

McCain's fundamental position--one from which he finds his momentum and meaning--is so often one of a contemptuous anger for those who do not understand what he believes he has learned--e.g., "them".

This is the impulsive, gut-driven, black and white thinking that we have seen throughout the campaign.

We have had 8 years of a President driven by impulsive, black and white, gut-driven, categorical thinking. In those 8 years, from a position that manifested from the very start an angry, assumed knowledge, and a contempt for the position of others, we have now seen the results.

So this time: choose that one.

Fear and Loathing in the Town Hall: A Predictive Fantasy

(The camera looks at the hall from above, into the hall, from the POV of the stage. Red meat has been hung from the walls and rafters, along with dollar bills which, upon closer inspection, are prop money.

The crowd is seated. They are strangely quiet. Their manner is that between those who are waiting for their instructions, post-op surgical recoverees, and post-war survivors. They are slightly slumped, in the same posture.

The candidates enter from opposite sides of the rear of the stage and walk to their podiums. The crowd rises as one and cheers with a loud, aggressive fervor reflective of their desperation.
Obama is standing tall in stride, looking a bit overcome by the experience, although genuine. McCain is smiling--his cheerful public grimace, although there is some genuine pleasure. His eyes have the slightest glaze of a gradually oncoming fog.)

MODERATOR: Tonight is a different format--one where you, the public, can ask your questions directly to the candidates. None of the questions have been screened in advance, and the candidates have been given no advance notice of what the questions, or who the questioners, might be. And with that, we begin. Our first question:

CITIZEN 1: My name is Jan, I'm from Murfreesboro? I've been watching the news, and I'm scared. I can't say that I've listened much about the stock market before? But I know that it's going down, and that's bad. I don't know what's going to happen to my job, or my house, or my kids. My question is for Mr. McCain? What will you do to help us understand what is going on, and to make it clear just what you will do about it?

(Crowd applauds vigorously as Jan sits down with a bit of embarrassment).

MCCAIN: (Holding the top of the rostrum with both hands and smiling): Well, first, I want to welcome each of you here tonight. You know, I know what each of you are feeling. I think that each of you must be scared--as I am, of not verifying myself in my father's and my grandfather's eyes. But, that's not so important today--or, at least saying it isn't. What is most important is to appear that I understand an economy that just months ago I said that I had little understanding of at all. I want to win. I need it, frankly, as a way of overcoming my own personal horrors and demons, of overcoming the anger that was bestowed and thrust, unwillingly, upon me. And that's why I'm still willing, even as the sharpest edges of mental function fade, to propel myself through this mass of insult. I understand how to respond to insult. With anger. And impulse. And that's what I'll bring to the White House, come January of 2009.

(Crowd applauds vigorously)

MODERATOR: The next question is for Senator Obama.

CITIZEN 2: Thanks. My name is Ross, from Shreveport. First-time caller, long-time listener. My question is: Senator Obama, it's not an error that you were given the middle name "Barack". We know that that is the same name of the murderous. Communist leader of Iran--and that's no accident. (A slight murmur from the crowd. The moderator looks vaguely stunned, but does not interrupt). Now, when you were going to Russia, with Bill Ayers, and dodging the draft--just like William Jefferson Clinton--(speaking more quickly now, more aggressively, turning to the crowd)--why weren't you here at home, saving our banks from the Liberals and the Socialists who want to take our money away from us and just give it to the terrorists?

SARAH PALIN: (Poking her head out from the wings, with a big smile): You betcha'!

(She withdraws).

OBAMA: Well. First of all, I also want to welcome you all here tonight. You know, I know that this is a difficult time. Many of you are worried about your jobs, your families, your homes. There are times that test a man's soul, and every woman's as well. And I know that this may be one of those times. I can understand why you would be frightened, even angry at what this nation has done. But we are a nation that has risen up in adversity even in the best of times, we found our strength, and honor, and courage, our ability to work as one, when faced with the most difficult situations. And I want to call on each of you, in that spirit of patriotic sacrifice, to join with me in that effort in the days ahead.

(Silence. Then applause, as the recognition of actual thought begins to spread through the crowd. It swells, and finally, subsides).

MODERATOR: The next question is for Senator McCain.

CITIZEN 3 (He is a man who appears to be in his early 40's wearing blue jeans that are stiff and obviously brand-new. They are perfectly creased. He is wearing a tight fitting, also obviously new T-Shirt that says "Average American...And Black With Rage!" beneath which is an American flag. He is wearing black wing-tip shoes. ). Senator McCain, I'm just an average American, just an average Joe, just your Average Joe-Sixpack (Blackberry begins ringing)...Oh...
excuse me...just...a...sec...my boss's phone...(whispering tensely into phone:) "No...I said sell. Sell. Yes, the entire portfolio. No, not Ghanan timber, for god's sake, gold, the lot of it. Jesus H....(tucks Blackberry back into pants pocket and then readjusts his stance to that of average Joe, slumping to one side again and changing his voice back to it's original tenor). Like I said, just an average Joe Sixpack. And I'm wonderin'. I heard what Mr. Hussein just said about "rising up", and I'm wonderin' if that's exactly what he wants to do! Oh, sure, he wants us to band together to rise up--where have we heard that before? Socialists! That's what they do! (crowd begins to murmur, and in the rising heat, the smell of the fresh meat begins to waft faintly through the hall). Rise up! That's what he wants to do! Well, we need to rise up! Against those kind of Socialist, Communist, Fascist, Atheist, Marxist policies! (the crowd is talking, some nodding their heads). And so what I want to ask you, Sen. McCain (crowd quiets), as an average everyday American, is this: What is it like, being a fighter pilot and all, when you know that Barack Hussein was out there, palling around with his Communist friends?

MCCAIN: Well, my friend--and by that, I mean that all of you are my friends--I'm glad you asked. Not everyone has had the luxury of gaining an education merely on the basis of their own talent, or the opportunity to travel the world learning how to be separate from important family members without their having significant pull, or to be able to experience the variety of foods that one has the chance to consume when they are paid for by the State. And, I can say that, in that way, I haven't been quiet as lucky. But I will say this--I will not look such fortune in the face and say: 'Fine, I'll work on education with the Bill Ayers of this world', "I'll be at the top of my class at Harvard", when I can be down, down there with you at the bottom! I know what it's like to be at the bottom when I've had all the opportunities--and I want to share that experience with those of you who have had none. You're angry. I'm angry. We have that in common. Let's be angry together, satisfied that, for another for four years, we've put those who have the arrogance to think for extended periods in their place, content in knowing that we're right--even if we're wrong.

CITIZEN 4: Hiya. My name is George, from Midland, altho' some would say Kennebunkport, heh, heh. I have a question for ya, John, and it's this. Listen: I'm goin' to be out of a job soon. Oil futures aren't lookin' that good, and I've got to tell ya', I didn't have too much luck there in the first place. So I'd like to ask ya, one flyin' man to another--what do you think I oughta do?

PALIN: (emerges from wings with purposeful strides to McCain's podium): I've got to take this one, John. Mr. Bush, if you can't figure out what you want to do after you leave and we move in, take a little time off, and then you come right up to Alaska. They love hunting just like you--and you can fly, you can learn to do it from a plane! The pipeline's big enough for any number of mistakes. So you come up here when you're finished--we've got plenty of bars with plenty of bowls of nuts and plenty of televisions right on Wasilla Main street--we'll take care of you right!

(Bush smiles and sits, crowd applauds, Palin, smiling and waving, exits).

CITIZEN 5: Well, look. This is a serious question. I'm John, from Carpenter. It's for both of you. I've got two kids, 4 and 6, a boy and a girl--so sweet. You know. My wife, she was working for the WaMu branch, center of town. It's closing next week. She's been looking in the ads, the newspapers, online--nothing. It's all she can do to keep a smile on her face for the kids. Myself, I built a commerical trucking business from the ground up. Sixteen years. Sweat everyday, grease on my hands, I can never get it out. We were never rich, but I made a good living. I didn't know about investing--who does, you're not born with it! Anyway, I went to an investment advisor, it seemed like the safe thing to do, protect the kids, plan for the future, not use my own dumb head (smiles). Well, he was so smart, and he was so sure, and he had it all planned out. And it looked so impressive on paper. Now--all of a sudden--it's gone. Everything is changing. It's changing so quickly. It seems like nobody--nobody knew. Not even the people who were supposed to! Everybody was talkin', makin noise, thinkin' of one thing: Themselves, themselves, themselves. Never worrying to think about someone else, about the future, about the next moment.

Well, now the next moment is here. And I wanna know--what are the two of you really going to do about it?

(The room is quiet as his last word echoes in the hall. The raw meat is rocking, slowly in the air, and the paper bills are gently fluttering. You can see Palin in profile, standing in the wings, holding her chin in her hand. The two candidates stare straight ahead, holding the podium. They are silent).

[NOTE: Written before the debate].

Monday, October 06, 2008

Shorter Right-Wing on "Obama to Hit McCain on Keating Five"

(looking sullen and fearful):

Hey! No fair!

We're supposed to do that!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Impulsively Unreflective Duo In..."McCain Goes Negative!"

The Impulsively Unreflective Duo In..."McCain Goes Negative!"

In our last episode, we saw the indomitable, impulsive duo suspend the campaign to take on the Crisis on Wall Street! Now, watch, as, in our next episode...McCain Goes Negative!

McCain paces the floor in the Fortress of Irritability. He is cracking walnuts.

A walnut slips to the floor.

McCain: Damn nutcracker!

Sarah Palin is sitting in a chair at a desk. She is writing on a piece of paper: "J.M + S.P." This is then crossed out and replaced by "S.P. + J.M.". These alternating versions, the one before it always crossed out, continue down the page.

McCain: Well, the first plan didn't work. We tried to put them in a trance with the folksy ray, but they had their deflectors halfway raised. If only you hadn't called the commander in Afghanistan "McClellan"

Palin: But...didn't you say they were fighting a civil war, Sir?

McCain looks at Palin silently. He is smiling but he is holding back anger.

McCain: I think the time has come. We have to call in...Dr. Negative.

He pushes a large black button, which is the only button, on a red phone on his desk.

Dr. Negative immediately bursts through the door. He is carrying flyers, masking tape; telephone wires are wrapped around his arms hanging in every way; a tattered copy of the book "Accusations of Fascism, Communism, Terrorism, Drug Use, Pedophilia, Islamism, Adultery, Pandeism, Cannibalism, Cubism, Miscegenation, and Spousal Abuse...for Dummies!" is rolled and stuffed in his left pocket, filled with bookmarks; he is dragging a Robocaller behind him, leashed to a chain.

Dr. Negative (quickly, eagerly): Did you hear? Obama was born in Bin Laden's subterranean bomb making factory, outside of U.S. lines. He was born on a pile of cocaine and dynamite--and the midwife was a Trotskyite!

McCain: Not yet, Dr. Negative. I want you to meet Sarah.

Sarah: Oh, we've already met.

Dr. Negative: That trooper went down! He poisoned the salmon milk at the Wasilla Bible School! With drugs made at a Leftist Satan worshiping collective! That you could see from Russia!

Sarah: You betcha'!

Sarah and Dr. Negative give each other a high five. Dr. Negative's telephone wires rattle on his arm as he does so, triggering the Robocaller, which starts playing: "...illegitimate babies made in test tube factories in North Korea and sent to Chicago by Bill Ayers..."

Dr. Negative shuts off the Robocaller with an embarassed smile.

Dr. Negative: Just practicing.

There is a pause.

McCain: That's fine, Dr. Negative. That's fine. Because, now, I have a special job for you. An important one.

Dr. Negative leaps into the air with excited glee. As he does, detritus falls to the floor--buttons reading "Election Day: Remember, the 3rd Tuesday in November!"; business cards, reading "Push Polls Anonymous--We Call, They Fall" and "Mongers On Call-No Rumor Too Far Fetched"; Bandaids with purple hearts; mangled and dirty chads.

Dr. Negative: A new job! A special job! Oh, Mr. McCain! I'm ready! I'm ready!

Sarah watches from her chair, filing her nails.

McCain: Now, Dr. Negative. You have to make him seem radical...

Dr. Negative quickly pulls a can out of his right pocket, emblazoned with the word "Radical" He opens the top. Red and Black snakes fly out.

Dr. Negative: (eagerly, expectantly, hungrily) Yes...Yes...

McCain: You'll have to start rumors that are so inflammatory that they will spread like wildfire, and that will be started too late to stop them with the actual truth...

Dr. Negative pulls a gigantic grinder out of his left pocket. It is labeled "Rumor Mill". He turns the crank a few times. Hamsters, syringes, and peace symbols fly out.

Dr. Negative: Yes...Yes...

He is salivating.

McCain: They will have to be so incredible, so over-the-top, based on such tawdry and poorly sourced evidence, yet riddled with tempting minutia--bullet gauges, Google maps of supposed meetings and the like, that the right will eat them up, and start analyzing the minutia with adolescent glee.

Dr. Negative (Very calmly, matter of fact): Oh, that's easy. They'll eat anything.

Dr. Negative reaches into his back pocket, pulls out a manila envelope labeled "Minutia: So-called "Proof" for the Right". He empties it to the floor. Bullet gauge measures, outdated copies of Photoshop, paperbacks entitled "How to Use the Insane as Competent Witnesses", "The Faked Moon Landings! Roswell! And Other Believable Phenomena!" and "You TOO Can Be A Warrior--From Your Own Couch!" fall to the floor.

Sarah plucks out the "Faked Moon Landings" book. She starts reading.

McCain: We know how our girl loves to read.

Sarah stops, and begins fixing her hair in a hand mirror.

McCain: Now, Dr. Negative, there is one final task.

Dr. Negative: Yes, Mr. McCain?

McCain: It is very difficult. Very...dark.

Dr. Negative: (Leaning forward expectantly, his voice quivering with excitement): Yes, Mr. McCain, Yes?

McCain: You will have to play the card that they played against me. Do you understand?

The room becomes silent. Sarah stops looking at herself, and looks towards the center of the room where McCain and Dr. Negative are staring at each other.

Dr. Negative: You mean...(eyes widened with disbelief. His telephone wires are quietly shaking as he shivers).

McCain (nodding): Yes.

Dr. Negative slowly removes from his jacket pocket what seems to be an ordinary pack of playing cards. They are labeled "Joker" brand. He takes a penknife from his pocket, and slowly slices the covering cellophane. There is a slight and distant roar. He looks at McCain.

McCain nods.

Dr. Negative then slowly removes the red ribbon encircling the cellophane at the top of the pack. He inserts the penknife--holding it from it very farthest end--and flips open the top of the pack.

Smoke begins to pour from the top of the pack, thick, acrid smoke. It quickly fills the room, covering all that is in sight.

McCain (shouting amidst the sound of smoke rushing into the room): And remember--no fingerprints!

Next episode: The smoke is cleared.

Friday, October 03, 2008

I May Not Answer The Questions The Way You And The Moderator Want...

Palin: I may not answer the questions the way you and the moderator want, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people

Ifill: Ok...Gov. Palin. Sen. McCain has said that he will take on the excesses of the financial industries that have led to today's chaos. Yet, Sen. McCain has been for deregulation of those industries throughout his career. How do you resolve that seemingly glaring inconsistency?

Palin: Well, like I said. I'm an outsider, so it's time for straight talk. In Alaska, we like a good cup of Mocha. Good n' strong. And that's how I want out government to be. Good and strong. We won't let terrorists or Al Qaeda march into our towns, into Wasilla--and I know that we're behind that. Why, I just saw a hockey mom walkin' with Joe Sixpack on Main Street in Wasilla. (winks).

And so I think that's the way that we can best support our people.

Biden: With all due respect, the Governor has not answered the question. The facts are that in virtually every legislative instance where Sen. McCain has had the opportunity to place reasonable regulations on financial industry before this crisis occurred, he has not done so. It is only with the advent of his campaign that he has begun making these statements. Sen. Obama and I have called for such regulation long before.

Ifill: Gov. Palin?

Palin: There you go, Joe, usin' those facts and those figures that Washington insiders use. Regular, everyday Americans don't want those fancy facts and figures. They want to know that they're getting straight talk--even if it doesn't answer the question at all.

Ifill: Our next question is on Iraq and Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan has now gone on for over 8 years. We have seen a return of violence to multiple areas in Afghanistan, where the origins of the conflict began, while most funding has been devoted to Iraq, where there was no direct link to the origins of the fight against terrorist organizations. Sen. Palin, specifically, how would you modify current policy to ensure that proper military effort and funding are being devoted to Afghanistan, and what specific plans would you propose for phasing out action in Iraq and in creating strategic and tactical military progress in Afghanistan?

Palin: Well, Gwen, like I said, I'm an outsider, and outsiders, like mavericks, make their own rules, and that includes how they answer questions. So I'd like to give a shout out to the third grade class in the APO in Kabul. Hey kids! Now, I'm sure that those kids, just like all decent Americans, believe that General Petreaus is doing a heroic job, and we know that he will keep the terrorists on the run in main theatre of the war, Iraq, without showing the white flag of surrender, until we win. Hi, Kids. And with General Petreaus in place, we have the surge...and the surge is working in Iraq, and so the surge would work in Afghanistan, where General Petreus's brave principles would also win them their freedom if we don't surrender. After all, it's like we say in Wasilla, it's energy independence, the phrase is "Drill, Baby, Drill." I respect you, Sen. Biden, for doing things wrong. And that's why John McCain will stand in the face of terror for our freedoms.

Ifill: Senator Biden?

Biden: The general who is the commander of forces in Afghanistan has said--today--that the surge strategy will notwork in Afghanistan. I want you to listen to that again. The commander in Afghanistan--not Joe Biden--has said that the surge will not work in Afghanistan. You just have to listen to the person who is actually in charge of that specific area. That's a fact.

Palin: General McClellan did not say that. He did not say that a strategy of hold and secure would not work in Afghanistan. General McClellan is the Joe Sixpack of Afghanistan--every hockey mom knows that. How long have I been at this, five weeks? Me and McCain and Joe Sixpack and hockey moms--we share that worldview.

Voice of Truth, at a frequency only able to be heard by dogs: His name is McKiernan. McKiernan. McClellan was a general in the Civil War. McKiernan.

Biden: The general...(gracefully) did say that. And, I do have to say, Gwen, I did not hear a plan. Sen. Obama and I, if we have the privilege of taking office, will remove troops from Iraq within 18 months, will ensure that Iraq troops can become responsible for their own security, and will devote those extraordinary funds to the security and financial needs of Americans where it is most necessary---in Afghanistan, and here at home.

Ifill: Alright, now we move onto the question of your own qualifications. Gov. Palin, you have been criticized recently for being unprepared for the Vice Presidency, or the possibility of the Presidency. Sen. Biden, you have been critiqued for being undisciplined. Can you name your Achilles Heel, as it were? Sen. Biden, first:

Biden: Well, I'm sure that lack of discipline is only one of my flaws. But I know that we will work as hard as we can for this country.

Ifill: Gov. Palin?

Palin: No. But that's such a short answer, so I'll say this. Gwen, I have the experience for doin' this job, the executive experience, and I think we need that kind of experience, of what folks are wantin' on Main Street in Wasilla, and what hockey moms are wantin' too! And I know that John McCain will also bring the experiences necessary to this great nation, to preserve our great freedoms. Sen. Biden isn't a hockey mom. He didn't grow up on Main Street in Wasilla. Joe Sixpack did. I may not have an Achilles heel, or know what one is. And that's exactly what America needs. And that's why Americans will be proud and free.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Shorter Debate

Part I: Palin did not answer questions directly.

Part II: Biden incredibly strong--pointed out Palin "I heard no plan" on Iraq, very strong on economic and FP issues.

Veep issue devastating for Palin--actually claimed broader powers for VP, clearly without knowing actual constitutional powers. Biden powerful on Cheney--dials way up.

And then...The turning point. The Biden tears. After that, Biden was most clear, passionate and strong, and from there, Palin was gibberish.

Biden win.



National poll of Debate Watchers:

Who won:

Biden: 51%

Palin: 36%