Choosing Not to Choose Is Choosing Not to Lead

October 9, 2008

Like the rest of the country, I have no doubt that my guy won Tuesday’s debate with John McCain.  Like David Broder, however, I was terribly disappointed with the lack of real answers from either candidate:

John McCain and Barack Obama have been asked twice — once in the Mississippi debate and again on Tuesday night — what their priorities would be. McCain flat-out refused to choose, arguing that the United States can do it all. Obama mentioned energy, health care and education, but did not acknowledge that he might have to choose among them.

Similarly, they declined to spell out what sacrifices they might have to ask Americans to make, beyond moderating their energy use or easing their demands for Washington-financed projects.

It was a stunning rejection of reality.

I keep telling myself that Obama is currently in the hands of the “professionals” who run campaigns for a living, and that those folks are convinced we’re ahead and don’t want to do anything rash.  But this guy is going to disappoint me monumentally if he doesn’t get brutally honest with the American people in his first 100 days, and tell us that we are going to have to make some sacrifices.  Again, Broder:

To govern is to choose, and next year, the trade-offs will be much tougher than usual because of the mess the Bush administration is leaving behind. At a moment when few Americans can muster much confidence in the leaders in Congress or the White House, McCain and Obama have used two of their three debates — three hours when they had the attention of millions of voters — to conceal more than they revealed about their agendas.



More Post-Debate Navel Gazing

September 28, 2008

Two of the best short pieces I’ve read have been by Josh Marshall:

First, the pattern in the 2000 and 2004 presidential debates was essentially this: the Democrat generally won each debate on points and even in the snap polls of undecided voters. But there was usually some remark or bit of affect that — ludicrous or not — right-wing commentators and yakkers fixed in on and were able to parlay into the dominating conversation of the next few days. In this way, strong debate performances turned into weak debate performances.

I’m not seeing anything like that this time. Mainly that’s because Obama just didn’t make any mistakes. But I suspect it’s also because there’s now more meta-media parity between right and left

and James Fallows:

For years and years, Democrats have wondered how their candidates could “win” the debates on logical points — that is, tactics — but lose the larger struggle because these seemed too aggressive, supercilious, cold-blooded, or whatever. To put it in tactical/strategic terms, Democrats have gotten used to winning battles and losing wars. Last night, the Democratic candidate showed a far keener grasp of this distinction than did the Republican who accused him of not understanding it.

And then from Jonathan Weisman, there’s this great piece of political theater that explains a lot if it actually went down this way.


McCain to the Rescue–Or Not

September 25, 2008

It was hilarious to listen to CNN late this afternoon, topic being the “BAILOUT!!” as CNN Cartoon in Chief Lou Dobbs shouted four–count ’em, four–times in his teaser for his nightly show about the despicability of brown people who intentionally starve themselves so they can wiggle through fences.

(Question:  what are the odds that Dobbs hedges his stock portfolio when he is about to say something especially stupid about the economy, in case someone in power actually listens?  I guess low.  He knows no one in power is listening).

CNN Talking head #1:  The Senate seems on board, both sides

Talking head #2:  And the house?

TH1:  Democrats, yes.  But the conservative Republicans are holding up the the deal. 

TH2:  But….the conservative Republicans don’t really like McCain, do they?

TH1:  That’s what makes this all so surreal.

This paragraph from Harold Meyer of the Post  best characterizes what Chris Matthews would call “the latest McCain razzle dazzle” :

As his strategists saw it, they had to confine the discussion to a comparison of the character of the two candidates. Alas for McCain, reality intruded over the past week, distracting the public from McCain’s stellar attributes as a decisive leader with news of an impending economic collapse. So the task for his managers has been to diminish this new story to just one chapter in the ongoing saga of John McCain, the man who rides to the rescue.