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Saturday, November 15, 2008

blizzard of lies


The Palin Factor (vid)

From Maverick to Liar:

At this point, McCain has taken the obvious way out—launching a series of distracting attacks on Barack Obama, with slim regard for truth.

The ads have spurred a backlash, the consequences (or lack) of which may well decide the election.

For 18 months, Obama has wagered all his chips on the (quaint? idealistic? brilliant?) idea that the American people are tired of the same old sleazy and divisive politics. McCain has now chosen to bet against him.

And we are the cards.

Count the lies:

To date, independent, nonpartisan fact checkers have published more than 50 fact checks debunking John McCain's lies and distortions.

To hold John McCain accountable to his own standard, the Democratic National Committee will count and chronicle the lies here on the McCainPedia's "Count the Lies" page.

I think Matt Yglesias is on the verge of tearing his hair out (as are we all)
While a financial meltdown is (obviously) a very bad thing, there is this silver lining:
With a crisis on Wall Street, no one's talking about lipstick, arugula, tire gauges, Paris Hilton, or sex-ed for kindergarteners. They're talking about the strength of the economy, the health of our financial industry, and the stability of the markets.

In other words, culture-war stunts and cultural insecurities -- the backbone of the ridiculous McCain/Palin campaign -- are taking a back seat to (cue scary music) substance. The entire day has featured a debate over whether the fundamentals of our economy are strong, whether McCain is out of touch, whether increased regulation would help prevent future crises, etc.

I have to assume, then, that McCain/Palin will launch some kind of new nonsense fairly soon. As long as the debate is about economic policy and market regulation, the campaign is not where McCain wants it to be.

Along those lines I like this idea:

What do I know, but here's what I would do if I were you. I would call a press conference tomorrow to discuss the financial crisis. Do it in New York City. Even better, on Wall Street. Begin with a fifteen minute statement outlining why the crisis has occured and what, generally, the government should do about it. Contrast your approach sharply with that of McCain and the Republicans. Take questions for an hour from reporters. Finally, issue a challenge to McCain to debate the issue by week's end. And offer to allow McCain to bring Sarah Palin and Phil Gramm at his side if he needs them to advise him on the issues.

And since we're on the topic of deregulation leading to financial catastrophe, it's a good opportunity to bone up on the Keating Five, that infectious bubblegum-soul group that launched McCain's solo career (before his downward spiral into pedophilia).

Senator Whitehouse poses a question to offshore drilling advocates (vid)

Thomas Edsall on the state of play

Joe Trippi weighs in:

There is no question that John McCain's pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has changed the dynamic of the 2008 Presidential campaign, moved the current wave of polling to the GOP's favor, and altered the terrain the rest of the election will likely be fought on.

The Obama campaign's ability to recognize the shifting ground, understand that it is real, and adjust accordingly will determine the outcome. And the outcome, for the first time, is in doubt.

The Obama campaign went into the Democratic National Convention believing that the race would be fought out on Washington experience and "more of the same" vs change. This was essentially the same frame of the race the Obama camp had sustained for the first 16 months or so of the nominating fight with New York Senator Hillary Clinton. It worked in the primaries until the Clinton campaign shifted from "35 years of experience" to a much more "woman for change" oriented message in the later stages of the fight and nearly came back to win the nomination.

But the McCain campaign learned something from watching the Democratic primary fight. Throughout the 2008 primary season no matter how many polls said that Hillary Clinton had more experience to be President, no matter how wide her margin over Obama on "ready to be President on day one" it did not matter. Obama and his message of change won.

But now its the Obama campaign's turn to learn the lesson of the Clinton campaign. The Obama campaign looks at all its polling data and research and in a race between change and four more years of George Bush, change wins big. So it keeps trying to frame the race as four more years of George Bush and more of the same vs change and cannot understand why it isn't pulling away.

Its not just Palin.

The brilliance of the McCain strategy and messaging is that it includes a trap for Obama. To push back on the McCain claim of "country first" and "the original mavericks who will shake up Washington" the Obama campaign's attack of "four more years of George Bush" becomes a problem. In a country that yearns for post-partisan change the Obama campaign risks sounding too partisan and like more of the same.

It would not surprise me if in one of the debates Obama or Biden uses the "You voted with George Bush and supported him 93% of the time" and its John McCain that retorts "that's the kind of partisan attack the American people are sick of….".

What worked for Obama is now working for McCain. The important lesson for the Obama campaign is that the Clinton campaign kept looking at its research, kept stressing experience and did not adjust until it was too late. The McCain campaign has not only adjusted to the Obama message, they have changed the terrain.

Now the Obama campaign and its allies need to understand that in arguing that John McCain represents a third term of George Bush and the GOP agenda it is the Obama campaign that risks sounding partisan in a country that yearns for the post-partisanship of "country first" and "shaking things up in Washington".

The Obama campaign needs to get back to the basics that got it here. Stop listening to the Democrats who are wringing their hands and fighting the last war.

Clinton adjusted too late, McCain may have adjusted in the nick of time. Will Obama's campaign make the right adjustment now? Get back to being an outsider. And get there fast.

Marc Ambinder on what we learned this weekend

Fortunately Joe Biden just showed up, and Obama's finally got a tough ad running. It seems about a week late, but if they can keep it up I won't complain. To restate what's been said many times over, the key is to force McCain to respond to them, so that they're running the game, rather that to keep responding to McCain. Even the most forceful responses to McCain are still, in essence, playing defense. And we need to be playing offense.

Adam Nagourney on the media fog

There's an interesting new study on political misinformation which you can read about here, but here's my basic summary: Remember back when the primaries were just getting going a study came out on this topic that showed that when people are shown why a false allegation is in fact untrue it has the short term effect of clearing up the matter, but in the long term it actually increases the likelihood people will believe the allegation. This is because after time passes and people's memories get blurry they just remember hearing something about the issue, without being able to recall the particulars, and end up believing exactly what was being refuted. This was, of course, significant at the time because this was when the Obama = Muslim emails were just going viral. The take-away was that rather than say "Obama is not a Muslim," Dems should simply emphasize that he is in fact Christian and not address the Muslim charge directly.
Well this most recent study gets a little more specific, looking at how political misinformation is processed by Dems and Reps. Unsurprisingly they found that Dems were more likely to believe political misinformation that put Republicans or Republican beliefs in a bad light, and vice versa. What is interesting is that then when the Dems were shown refutation of the misinformation they were less likely to believe it to be true (though still more likely than before the issue had been raised to begin with). Makes sense, right? But here's the kicker: When Reps were shown proof the misinformation was untrue they believed it EVEN MORE than before the refutation. Does that make sense??? Absolutely not! And yet it explains a lot doesn't it? The researchers hypothesised that this was due to conservatives being more rigid in their thinking than liberals. But Kevin Drum has his own theory:

right-wing talkers have spent so many years deriding "so-called experts" that they now have negative credibility with many conservatives. The very fact that an expert says a conservative claim is wrong is taken as a good reason to believe the claim.

I think he's on to something.

Carly Fiorina calls Tina Fey's portrayal of Palin "sexist"

Michael Tomasky offers some helpful reminders

Today's final thought comes from Matthew Yglesias:
Unlike the guy who runs Lehman Brothers, the guys who clean the bathrooms in the Lehman Brothers office have, as best one can tell, been doing an excellent job. And yet if the company going under results in everyone involved losing their jobs, the guy who runs Lehman will wind up being better off than the guys who clean the bathrooms. This is because in the United States of America, hard work is the way to get ahead.

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