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Politics Is Not A Science

The fact that Barack Obama was elected President is a pretty clear indicator that Politics is not scientific. That is, with all due respect to the President, his resume was the thinnest in memory, with no real substance to support his claims that he should lead the country. Nevertheless, Barack Obama won, defeating first a powerful Democratic party rival with an impressive political resume and efficient campaign machine, then a Republican opponent with far greater experience on most of the issues important to voters. In the 2008 election, however, style won over substance, although it may be fairly argued that neither party's nominee made an effective case on the merits of their qualifications.

The election of 2008 was hardly unprecedented. Bill Clinton beat the first President Bush on pure style and media spin, just as the first President Bush beat Michael Dukakis on rhetoric and style in 1988. While Reagan beat Carter with arguments supported by evidence, his most effective tactics used style - we still remember and ask if we are better than four years ago. This goes back at least to JFK's victory over Nixon in 1960, effective use of media and style to win over the public.

This brings up the question on 2012. Many Republicans have assumed that Obama would follow the path of Jimmy Carter and implode, opening the door to the 'Next Reagan'. A closer look at the matter indicates such optimism may be unfounded. First off, Carter recovered from most of his mistakes, and Obama has learned how to move beyond his blunders; the plain fact is that wit ha compliant media Obama's blunders have a political half-life of only a few weeks at most, far too short to damage his re-election chances significantly unless he either commits a major mistake immediately before the election, or makes so many mistakes that the weight of their total overwhelms him. It could happen, but it would be foolish to expect it to be so.

The second problem is the missing New Reagan. By the time the GOP Convention finished in 1976, many Republicans knew that if Gerald Ford lost, Governor Reagan would have the de facto lead for the 1980 race. Reagan was tested by other would-be nominees, but he was clearly the leading man from the start. Putting it bluntly, the GOP has no such candidate now. Look at 2008; John McCain frankly took the nomination by default, because no one really showed up to make a strong case. Conservatives got excited about Fred Thompson, but to be blunt Mister Thompson lacked the stamina and energy to sustain a serious campaign. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee were too thin and brittle to be successful, showing no ability to attract supporters outside a limited spectrum. John McCain got the nomination for the same reason that John Kerry won the Democratic Party nomination in 2004; he was believed to be the most "electable" in a field of uninspiring contenders.

Who, frankly, inspires the nation from the Right? Those with strong followings, like Sarah Palin, tend to attract support from a tight range of political opinion, lacking the means to attract and win over the undecided and doubters. Others do their jobs well, Like John Boehner, but have no evident charisma to build a national following. Worse, the national party has two serious problems - they are out of touch with grassroots Republicans, supporting senior Republicans even when they do not represent the party's ideals (one notes that the GOP has refused to condemn Governor Sanford's adultery and malfeasance, even after his confession) and sometimes even opposing fresh contenders in the party who have broad support and represent reason for hope. And second, the national GOP has siloed, with factions standing off against each other in petty feuds, preventing unity on critical issues and campaigns. The matter has become serious enough, that many who oppose the Democrats and President Obama, do so without declaring support for the Republicans who might run for reform. The simple fact is that right now the voting public has little confidence in the Republican Party to be any better than the Democrats. And until that changes, President Obama and the Democrats have little to fear from the next election or two.

- copied over from WizPol -


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Comments (32)

If the Democrats continue d... (Below threshold)

If the Democrats continue doing so horrible then the public may decide for change again. Also this "it's not our fault will wear thin". If the Reps find some balls and call the Dems on their mistakes during the election cycle it will make a difference. The "let us not offend anyone attitude" hasn't work. Obama mistakes are piling up quick. If he doesn't get his stuff square away quick the mountain will be too high for even the MSM to cover up. I hope he does because he really hurting the U.S. right now.

As I stated before, I think the GOP need to get on message of what is right and take the lumps that go with it instead of using political language design to "win elections". I think there are Republicans that would make good Presidents. We just don't hear about them. One of them would be Hailey Barbour.

I was watching TV on Friday... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

I was watching TV on Friday when a person gave an unexpected speech concerning their future. While many have all sorts of opinions on what was said. What I saw was the first shot of a campaign for the White House in 2012.

Huckabee, Barbour and Palin... (Below threshold)
Alan Orfi:

Huckabee, Barbour and Palin are three candidates who could take out Obama. There will be other "moderates", of course, but these three are all very charismatic and formidable candidates.

The prevailing issue right now, however, needs to be the 2010 congressional elections. It is not out of the realm of possibilities that the Republicans storm back into a majority and bring much of this socialist lurch to an abrupt halt. But as you said, a galvanized and conservative message from the Republican Party will need to be crafted before that comes to fruition... and Michael Steele is proving to be an impediment to that objective.

"This brings up the ques... (Below threshold)

"This brings up the question on 2012. Many Republicans have assumed that Obama would follow the path of Jimmy Carter and implode, opening the door to the 'Next Reagan'. A closer look at the matter indicates such optimism may be unfounded."

This is exactly the sentiment that runs through my mind everytime someone here seems so assured that Obama is sealing a Republican blowout in 2012.

The attention span of the general public is about 2 inches. And as you said, unless he continues to reneg on promises and fails to turn things around in any measurable way (or has a major blunder just before the next election) I have little confidence in Republicans gaining any ground. Frankly, I'd like to see a lot of them tossed out on their arses along with a boatload of Democrats. We can trade them one-for-one in every case as far as I'm concerned; a new Democrat for an old one and the same for the Rupublicans. As long as they make more sense and act like they're actually working for the people rather than their cronies and take our disgust with pork seriously, I'll give them a fair listen to.

"...his resume was the thin... (Below threshold)

"...his resume was the thinnest in memory...."

Thin? It was fucking NON-EXISTENT! Obama will remain or fall based on the state of the economy. And the was the Democrats are screwing with it at the moment, it doesn't look good for them. You'll note that people are starting to talk about economic 'recovery' in 2011. What happened to late 2009, and 2010?

Today, Obama is all about a... (Below threshold)

Today, Obama is all about an aggressive domestic agenda (basically the economy) and a rather submissive foreign policy (the apology tour). The MSM can camouflage and obfuscate the rhetorical blunders but they cannot hide poor long term results that have concrete effects on the lives of the average American. Obama will have a longer grace period because he is considered attractive, articulate, exotic, unflappable, etc. and his popularity numbers still suggest a disconnect between the man himself and domestic programs which are unsustainable financially. The Chinese and Indian economies are growing without overwrought rules governing carbon emissions. And there are several countries in Europe (Germany in particular) that are trying to pare away parts of their socialist programs. Do the math. The competition is out there. The current president has entered office with a rigid ideology that is unfit for the current economic climate. My belief is that the only way this President will get re-elected is if -as in the first Clinton administration - the Republicans regain enough influence in Congress in 2010 to thwart some of his socialist policies and save Obama from himself.

Anyone else notice the rese... (Below threshold)

Anyone else notice the resemblance to Jimmy Carter?
No real experience.
Non-existant foreign policy.
The "feel good" candidate, when running for office.
Proves over and over that he has no idea what is going on, but thinks he is the only one who can fix it. In other words, doesn't know what he doesn't know.

Of course Obama is more of a socialist than even Carter.

I think America is getting ... (Below threshold)

I think America is getting REAL tired of the "OHMYGAWD IT'S AN EMERGENCY WE CAN'T THINK OR READ WE JUST NEED TO ACT!!!!" approach Obama and the Dems have adopted.

Every Bill is RUSHED through! Every action, from buying GM to closing Gitmo is something we have to do NOW!!!!!!!!

The Republicans should HAMMER this nonsensical approach!

People need to realize how ... (Below threshold)

People need to realize how quickly events move in the world of politics. Barack Obama wasn't anywhere on the political radar in 2003; if someone had suggested that an obscure Chicago politician whose middle name was "Hussein" would be the chief executive following Bush, we'd have nominated him for idiot of the year.

Where was Bill Clinton in 1988? Where was George W. Bush in 1998?

Pundits have this weird shortsightedness, imagining that the players on the stage *now* will dominate the political spectrum three years hence.

that pretty much explains w... (Below threshold)

that pretty much explains why Obama and the Dems are smashing things through as fast as possible since the Deification. By next year, everybody in the House is up for election and will need to mend fences. It's all gotta be done NOW, while the American voter can still be hoodwinked with shotgun legislation. By next year, they'll all be worried about getting reelected. That's why they don't even bother to read the socialist crap they're stuffing down our throats.

If we don't change things in the 2010 elections, we're in for some serious damage to the country. And legislative arrogance like we've never seen before.

I agree with sanssoucy. Al... (Below threshold)

I agree with sanssoucy. All of this talk that the Republicans have no figure to lead them to victory are premature. Hardly anybody knew who Obama was two years ago (if only that were still so) and yet here he is (Yay). I am sure by 2010 we will have a far better picture of the contenders in 2012; but right now, mere months after the last election, it should not be surprizing that someone has yet to stand out.

Bill Clinton beat the fi... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Bill Clinton beat the first President Bush on pure style and media spin, just as the first President Bush beat Michael Dukakis on rhetoric and style in 1988.

Pardon me, old chum, but I think I witnessed a different election in 1988 than you did. I think it was Hunter Thompson who said something like "the Society of Moody Loners issued a statement today saying that if anyone felt inspired enough by either candidate to assassinate them, they need professional help."

Neither candidate had much for rhetoric or style; eventually, it came down to "fumble-mouthed guy with great resume'" vs. "droning, bloodless technocrat." Fortunately, the technocrat lost.


"Bill Clinton beat the firs... (Below threshold)
retired military:

"Bill Clinton beat the first President Bush on pure style and media spin,"

Ross Perot sucking off a lot of conservative votes is what got Clinton elected and reelected.

The economy will be in the toilet by 2012 and I dont know if Obama making 20 million illegals legal and ACORN screwing the census and doing blatant illegal crap with the press's blessing is going to save him. If Cap and trade gets passed along with the national sales tax people will be just about fed up enough to say I want CHANGE and I HOPE the republican can unscrew the pooch.

McCain was a joke thrust upon us by dems voting in republican primaries early in the season. If the GOP doesnt fix that then the republicans will be stuck with another wishy washy middle of the road candidate with a record of "Crossing the aisle" AKA someone who folds to the democrats at every rough vote. The dems will accept him and quietly vote for him over the boondoggle Obama and then happily call racism when Obama isnt reelected and proceed to continue to get their agenda passed in increments which Obama is steadily doing now.

I still look for the dems to increase the size of the supreme court by 2 and if they get slaughtered in the mid terms (which I think is likely) I look for that emergency legislation to be passed in late Nov 2010 while they have the votes to push it through. Obama will shrug his shoulders and say hey The congress did it and this isnt a dicatatorship and happily appoint 2 more far left liberal supreme court justices who will make ginsberg look like a whacko gun toting far rightie.

Ross Perot sucking off a... (Below threshold)

Ross Perot sucking off a lot of conservative votes is what got Clinton elected and reelected.
~retired military

I don't suppose anybody remembers that Ron Paul's supporters threatened to stay home or vote Democrat if their idol wasn't the GOP candidate for 2008.

I hope Libertarians are happy with the economy Obama is re-engineering.
Maybe they'll vote Republican next time.

"Pundits have this weird sh... (Below threshold)

"Pundits have this weird shortsightedness, imagining that the players on the stage *now* will dominate the political spectrum three years hence."

I have been puzzled by that shortsightedness too. The best thing, for me, about Palin resigning is the reminder that events will not necessarily follow the dismal trajectory we imagine today. Strange things happen and the world changes, despite all the planning and scheming.

DJ I agree with JT. Bush th... (Below threshold)

DJ I agree with JT. Bush the Elder won on experience. Dukakis did not know what he stood for except that if his wife was raped and murdered, he would not be for the death penalty. ww

"I hope Libertarians are... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"I hope Libertarians are happy with the economy Obama is re-engineering.
Maybe they'll vote Republican next time."

Those Libertarians who voted for Bob Bar, not Ron Paul, totalled 523,686 people. Lemme see... 59,934,814 plus 523,686 still equals a hell a lot less than 69,456,897. I think most Libertarians are more pragmatic than idoligical and did vote for McCain. I know I did.

Now, the Ron Paul diehards are a whole 'nother ball game, I don't think they represent the core of the Liberatian Party.

Be of good cheer & keep you... (Below threshold)
S. Gorgo:

Be of good cheer & keep your eye on former eBay CEO Meg Whitman!

*Breaking News*Tod... (Below threshold)
Adrian Browne:

*Breaking News*

Todd and the Palin Children® have decided to remain on for use as photo ops for the new governor after Sarah leaves.

Developing . . .

The problem is that if the ... (Below threshold)

The problem is that if the economic numbers have turned around Obama will go back for another term. It doesn't matter how bad he helped make the economy if small business figures out the rackets and scams quick enough to start the cycle upwards (even a little). I agree with Bobdog 2010 is a very big deal.

Adrian, you're not any bett... (Below threshold)

Adrian, you're not any better at humor than you are at political thinking (or any other kind).

Americans are slooooow to wake up, but they ARE waking up! When the unemployment numbers go double digits, and when inflation starts to suck the value out of the moeny in people's wallets, our Dear Leader isn't gonna be so "Dear" anymore!

"breaking newsAdri... (Below threshold)
retired military:

"breaking news

Adriane Browne makes another appearance and makes a total ass out of himself.

Oh wait that isnt news.

There are three parts to an... (Below threshold)

There are three parts to any product or service. (Politicians are in the business of servicing the public, dontcha know.) Those three parts are Production, Distribution, and Marketing.

Conservatives are most often physically intuitive people, and so we only think of production as important. Most liberals are emotionally intuitive people, so they understand the full importance of convincing rhetoric in Marketing their candidates.

McCain's campaign sounded like, "Hey, wanna join the Army?" Obama's was "I have hope we can have good change in the bright sunrisey future of vision."

The next conservative who wins will have a message of hope, of change, and of functionality. Reagan had it, Palin had it, and until we send that message, we'll be on the outs.

(As for Distribution, just elect a bunch of Republicans in your local races, and somebody's gonna get ambitious enough to take it to the next level. That's the free market at work.)

People may end up pissed at... (Below threshold)

People may end up pissed at the current administration, but that doesn't mean the GOP is off the hook.

The GOP leadership and senior congresspeople have lost their credibility among too many libertarians and libertarian-leaning Republicans, period, end of story. They might get votes out of them out of simple pragmatism, but they will not regain trust.

Similarly, they've lost fiscal conservatives over the stimulus related RINO bullshit. Efforts at unity after the horse already bolted out of the stable and sold the farm are nice, but far too late to be of use.

Most importantly for the future, however, the GOP has simply failed to ditch the label of being the "Party of Clueless Old Cranky White People Trying To Make You Do Things Because We Think Jesus Says So". No offense to Jesus, mind you, and nevermind how accurate the image is overall, it is (with the ample help of public educators and college faculty) how younger people see the party.

If there is one thing guaranteed to alienate and terrify that demographic, it is the notion of someone else telling them they can't do what they want to do, and having the power to make it stick. There is a completely irrational level of fear and hatred directed at the GOP simply because 18-24 year olds can't stand being preached at.

Every time some old fart like Ted Stevens went and made an ass of themselves by showing that they're half senile about some modern issues, or that they're too busy trying to ban various types of pants or pornography or whatever to seriously govern, it hammered one more nail into the GOP's coffin. It cemented the image of the GOP as a bunch of out of touch geezers, and guess what; that demographic that "never votes" went and did so.

While we're on a roll here, might as well toss in the GOP's inability to effectively deal with corruption and over-large government. They had years to do something about that and only ended up falling all over themselves like a bunch of pigs at the "business as usual" trough. The accusation during the campaign was so damn effective because enough of it was true, nevermind that the Democrats are an even bigger bunch of rambling shitbags. There are a few standout exceptions but frankly, the GOP doesn't deserve them.

If there was any justice in the world, Reagan would claw out of his grave and stomp around like Iron Man (heavy metal one, not the silly movie) and shoot freaking death rays out of his eyeballs, slagging idiot GOP senators left and right. It would rid us of the idiots while giving him something to do other than spin in place.

Quote: When you rob Peter t... (Below threshold)

Quote: When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on Paul's support.

There were a lot of Pauls at the poll last November. Obama is buying even more Pauls since then. They wont care if some promises are broken as long as some of them are kept. Unless there is a MAJOR crisis, economic or terrorist, then you can count on the number of Pauls growing. He will lose some of the smarter ones, but buy more than he loses. Even if the economy keeps getting worse, he will just promise more hand outs and they will not see the correlation. It will have to get really, really bad before the Pauls will blame him.

So if things get really, really bad by 2012, is that good news or bad news? I think I can stomach a "greatest" depression in order to get rid of these politicians who are destroying our country in more ways than economics.

Personally, I am looking fo... (Below threshold)

Personally, I am looking for someone who is going to watch out for my liberties next time around. If that means leaving the republican party, then I will. I am totally pissed at the republicans. The Constitution has been ignored, and the Feds have their hands where they don't belong. Until a Republican admits this and is willing to fight to make the Constitution viable again, they will not get another one of my votes.

I think America is... (Below threshold)
James H:
I think America is getting REAL tired of the "OHMYGAWD IT'S AN EMERGENCY WE CAN'T THINK OR READ WE JUST NEED TO ACT!!!!" approach Obama and the Dems have adopted.

*Cough* *cough* *Patriot Act* *Cough* *cough*

Sorry. Something's stuck in my throat.

It is good, James H, that y... (Below threshold)

It is good, James H, that you coughingly mention the Patriot Act because it is an excellent example of a bill which is widely known to have been passed by both parties in both houses without being read.

That said, since the Democrats, after passing the Patriot Act, have had buyers remorse and the Whitehouse, Senate, and Congress are now totally dominated by the Democrats it is easier to sleep at night now that they have repealed it.

Oh, wait, that hasn't happened has it?

I don't suppose anybody remembers that Ron Paul's supporters threatened to stay home or vote Democrat if their idol wasn't the GOP candidate for 2008.(from my #14 comment)

#17 P. Bunyan, your number 523,686 is irrelevant as it does not account for the numbers of Libertarians who stayed home or voted Democrat as a protest.

"P. Bunyan, your number ... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"P. Bunyan, your number 523,686 is irrelevant as it does not account for the numbers of Libertarians who stayed home or voted Democrat as a protest."

Of course no one can really know what that number was, but do you think it was even close to 9 million? I'd guess it was closer to less than 100,000 when all's said and done. And again, there is a difference between Ron Paul supporters and Libertarians.

Also I don't think not voting for either establishment candidate is a bad thing. Sure I can't often bring myself to do it, but I wish I could and that more people did. Our two party system screws us and we always end up having to decide whether to vote for the giant douche or the turd sandwich.

But good point about the Patriot act, and for that matter all the other horrible evil things that President Bush did that are now just fine since Obama is doing them.

James H, thank you (really)... (Below threshold)

James H, thank you (really) for bringing up the "Patriot Act" in response to my comment about "emergency legislation". It makes MY point perfectly!! (so really, thank you!)

1. there was a REAL emergency going on. 3,000+ Americans dead, two cities attacked, one of which still bear visible scars. And an intelligence gap the size of the Grand Canyon. So yup, sometimes there are REAL emergencies!
2. The "Patriot Act" came with something NONE of the Obama "OHMYGAWD" crap has: "SUNSET" provisions!

and p.s., key members of BOTH Parties did read the Patriot Act in its entirety. I met personnally with one of the Democrats who DID get to read the whole thing. She has since had "buyer's remorse", but even so she pointed out that the "Sunset" provisions made it palatable.

why no "Sunset" provisions in Obama's march of the cliff crap? Oh yeah, when you're lying broken and bloody at the bottom of the cliff there's no real need!

What Justrand said.... (Below threshold)

What Justrand said.

What we experienced in the ... (Below threshold)
philip sargent:

What we experienced in the last election was the OJSS (OJSimpson syndrome) which is the willing suspension of disbelief regarding reality or what really is the case. There is only hope for a return to sanity in the next election IF there is a realization on the part of the Independents that they were had. Personally I dont think much of Independents because they are largely without conviction about anything, but they are all we have and they have to realize that OJSS is a disease and they can overcome it by applying logic and critical thinking (just a little). Obama will continue to own the koolaid drinkers, largely the blacks, students, government workers, and others who have never thought for themselves and are pretty much constitutionally unable to do so. Let's call them what they are, chronic co-dependents. Without an awakening of the Independents who supported Obama last time around, we are dead, toast, just like the Europeans, Brits, and all the rest who have given up and just want to get along and survive. We are about to see how far along we are in this country to that European/socialist model state.






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