Friday, May 30, 2008

National Desk

Haven't blogged much on national politics recently, and in part its because of the evolution of the blogosphere. Last big election, there was a lot more activity on the low-end personal blogs because it was hot and new and people seemed really interested in your opinion. But in the past few years, there has been a shake-out, and strong, dedicated, all-politics blogs have emerged. And there has been a self-selection among the readers as well - people with progressive politics drift towards the progressive blogs, while those with move conservative views tend towards the conservative. The cycle of information firmly in place, you get an echo chamber effect similar to talk radio, where very little new information gets out.

But there are some things I've noticed that have been unreported or undereported, so I'm throwing them in here:

Obama: There was that big thing about "elitism" back in the PA primary, and most of the libs took the view that it was weird that the guy with the private plane or the woman who spent eight years in the White House weren't elitist. But that's not what they meant by "elitist".

They meant "Smart", and Americans are pretty damned wary of voting for smart people.

No, really. Go back through our elections and pick the smart one, at the time of the election, and you'll pick the loser. Democrats are notable for picking the smart guy, but they've succeeded at the polls when they've managed to hide that (Think about it, it was "Jimmy Carter, Peanut Farmer", not "Jimmy Carter, Nuclear Engineer", and "Bill Clinton, Arkansas Governor", nor "Bill Clinton, Rhodes Scholar").

And I think this is the hardest thing that the Obama candidacy has to fight - Americans really don't want smart people in government. We say we do but we don't. Sort of like we say we want safe and sane cab drivers, right up to the point we need to get to the airport Right Now Dammit. As a result we're punished by getting the leaders we deserve.

Clinton: I really don't have a problem with the fact that the campaign has gone on this long - it has kept the candidates in front of the people and kept strong positive cash flow into the campaigns (the GOP, with their winner-take-all primaries, got their choice, and what coverage he has been getting has been along the lines of "So why isn't he doing better?"). And you can no longer say that Obama hasn't been blooded by a tough campaign.

No, what is interesting is the transmogrification of the Clinton image from screaming lib to working class campaigner. Despite the huggamugga from the press for the past few years, Clinton was not the most liberal senator, nor even the most liberal senator from New York. Regardless the vilification from the conservative side was relentless. Now, suddenly, the usual conservepundits have spun around and grounded her firmly in the middle - much, much preferable to Obama (who is now, somehow, the NEW most liberal senator). The capping moment of this happened in PA, again, where she sat down with Richard Mellon Scaife, who from his position as owner of the Pittsburgh Trib-Review has made it his crusade for a decade to bring Clinton down. It was a moment worthy of the last lines of Animal Farm.

So regardless of the result, Clinton has attained a long-held goal - she is now considered a moderate by the Mainstream Media.

McCain: OK, I can understand the conservative wing's problems with McCain. He's a Senator with nuanced views. He was for things he is now against, and against things that he is now for. He was a medal-earning Vietnam Vet. Hell, he didn't just serve, he did hard time for country as a POW. He has a very wealthy second wife who is both outspoken and unwilling to share personal information.

Hell, no wonder the right-wing is up in arms - the GOP has nominated John Kerry as their candidate. Heck, there are guys caucusing with the Democrats that are more conservative than he is.

McCain's big problem seems to be that the right doesn't believe his new-found conservatism, which the moderates that have supported him in the past DO believe. That's a nasty place to be in at the moment.

Then there is something else I picked up when I was Pgh, reading the Trib Review, a meme that MCain should be a one-term president from the outset. I think part of this is one more olive branch for the right - vote for me and I'll give you a candidate you'd really life next time. But installing a lame duck president sounds like a recipe for (further) disaster.

Barr: Who? Bob Barr, former GOP candidate, has had his own revelation on the road to Damascus and went Libertarian. The Libertarians, on the other hand, aren't sure they want him, though he got the official nomination in a rather stormy session. So the Liberts may be fractured as well, but by the same token, they actually have a candidate that has been on television before.

That's about it. A lot of the rest of the stuff is a rehash of other stuff from the net, contributing to the echo chamber thing. When I come up with more stuff, I'll pass it along, but for the moment, I think I'll pay attention to the local races.

More later,