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Apocalypse Then (updated)
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, January 05, 2008

The construction of the "New Kennedy"?

Ezra Klein on the "Obama Gift":
Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.
And:
But, very rarely, it's experienced as a call to create something better, bigger, grander, and more just than the world we have. When that happens, as it did with Robert F. Kennedy, the inspired remember those moments for the rest of their lives.
As Jonah Goldberg at The Corner notes, we're going to see a whole lot more of this. And he worries about the consequences should Obama, or for that matter, any Democrat, lose the election:
But after reading this regrettable excess from Ezra Klein as well as all of the more reasonable but nonetheless hopeful, proud, idealistic and sincere sentiments of pride and well-wishing for Obama as the first serious mainstream black contender for the White House (some, but by no means all, of these sentiments shared by yours truly) , I think it's worth imagining a certain scenario. Imagine the Democrats do rally around Obama. Imagine the media invests as heavily in him as I think we all know they will if he's the nominee — and then imagine he loses. I seriously think certain segments of American political life will become completely unhinged. I can imagine the fear of this social unraveling actually aiding Obama enormously in 2008. Forget Hillary's inevitability. Obama has a rendezvous with destiny, or so we will be told. And if he's denied it, teeth shall be gnashed, clothes rent and prices paid.
Democrats, just as they had in '04, feel the Democratic nominee, whoever it is, will be the inevitable winner in '08. And, in fact, after the '06 midterms, that feeling of inevitability is even stronger.

We've witnessed the primal screams, depression, vitriol and hate that was evident and openly expressed after the definitive '04 presidential election. And that was carried over from the '00 election. Can you imagine, with the air of inevitability that has been building among Democrats, what might happen if the Democratic nominee, not just Obama, loses again?

UPDATE [Jon Henke]:

Ezra Klein might be a bit of an easy audience for a Democratic candidate to inspire. Here's what he wrote about Kerry's "Reporting for Duty" speech at the 2004 convention...
Stunning. He did it. I didn't think he could, not after Obama and Clinton and Edwards and Cleland. But he did it. He gave the perfect speech for this moment, for this race, for this crowd. He couldn't rely on his charisma and so he instead told the country where it needed to go. He couldn't do flash so he did substance...and he did it. There's nothing I can say beyond that...I'm sorry...I just don't have the words for it. I'm inspired. I'd forgot what this felt like.
And that was about John Kerry. Good times, good times.

UPDATE II: Concerning the secondary theme of the post, the "building of the new Kennedy", it seems Eleanor Clift has caught the fever too - well, almost:
What Obama has is Kennedy's ability to inspire and to play the generation card. When Obama talks about "the fierce urgency of now" and warns against those counseling patience, he's dissing a return to the Clinton years, but he's also echoing JFK's Inaugural declaration, "The torch has passed to a new generation of Americans." How can we know whether Obama—now buoyed by his victory in Iowa—will prove comparable in substance and actual performance to the figure that lives on in our collective imagination?
Camelot II? You had to wonder when the fantasizing would begin.
 
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I worry about that.
I also worry about what will happen if they do win. With full control of the government the burdens that will be placed,the control of everyday life that will be tried scare the crud out of me. Not because I can’t handle it, I can but mainly that will be by ignoring their directives. If enough people simply do not follow their directives or simply stop paying taxes then the enforcement brigades of gun carrying law enforcement gets involved and a internal low intensity civil war could break out.
I care so much about America that I worry that is where we are headed. Either, they start it because we win or we start it because of what they do after they win.
The level of division is great in this country. I worry about that.
 
Written By: SkyWatch
URL: http://
I’m also wondering how Jonah thinks this would be different from 2004. After the conspiracy theories and vitriol that came out of that election, could things get worse? Rove is gone, Bush will be gone, and Cheney will be gone. In any person with an ounce of rationality, that ought to dampen the anger.

But I’ve long wondered if BDS is really just the first example of RPADS (Republican Presidential Administration Derangement Syndrome). Certainly there now appear to be some on the left no longer accessible by any rational appeal concerning Bush specifically and Republicans (sorry, Rethuglicans) in general.

I realize there are those out there that passionately hate Clinton and his minions. But in general they don’t make it the focus of their whole political philosophy, and even the Vince Foster stuff has died down. I’ve been somewhat surprised that some resurgence of the Clinton litany hasn’t been seen because of Hillary’s candidacy, particularly those things that pertain specifically to her: the missing billing records and the cattle futures. So that indicates that on the right, they actually have the ability to, ahem, move on. If a Republican wins in 2008, we’ll see if the left has that ability. I suspect the answer would be no.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
2008 is to 2004 what 2006 was to 2002. There is intense discontent about politics, and dissatisfaction about the direction of the country. The mood reminds me of 1980 or 1992. One reason I think Huckabee has a real shot is that he’s appealing to those who are sick of the same old tired faces, or Romney’s polished slickness. Thinking of demographics, I think it would be hard for Huckabee to win; McCain would be the Republican with the best shot. But ultimately, unless something changes, this looks like a big year for the Democrats. A Hillary candidacy could hurt, since she’s another ’old face.’

I think 2008 will also reflect shifting demographics and in a sense a new political era. The Iraq war has soured Americans on foreign policy interventionism, economic concerns dominate, and issues of globalization, whether immigration, job out sourcing, etc. are growing in importance. I doubt the GOP has much of a shot at either House in Congress, though the Presidential race is about personality and this year a charmistic fresh face promising change is the best bet — which makes Obama a clear favorite. McCain’s maverick status can help him overcome the fact he’s an old foogie, and he might be able to claim a mix of experience and capacity for a new direction. Huckabee is untested, but the dismissal of him as serious reminds me of the dismissals of Reagan, and his victory speech on Thursday was very effective.

Because despite our differences on foreign policy (where I think the wisdom of non-interventionism has been proven in the past few years), I share with most of you distrust of governmental solutions to these problems for a variety of reasons. The more we get locked up in the emotional left vs. right debate, the less a chance to really develop new ideas.

We live in interesting political times, the themes and arguments from the last fifteen years are changing, and old ideological debates seem to be fading. Liberalism and conservatism will not be the same, establishment pundits will be disappointed. Frankly, I think this opens up the chance for a libertarian direction, despite the differences between various types of libertarianism.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
...and then imagine [Obama] loses. I seriously think certain segments of American political life will become completely unhinged. - Goldberg
As opposed to the way they are only half or three-quarters or nine-tenths unhinged at the moment? And we’re going to know this — how? The suggestion here is that there will be outright retaliatory violence — as distinct from the scattered tire-slashings and busting up of candidate’s offices and the like that have previously served to discourage opposition.
I can imagine the fear of this social unraveling actually aiding Obama enormously in 2008.
Vote for Obama or they’ll burn these cities down?

That they would swoon as Klein does or cringe, cower and then (barf) vote to placate as Goldberg foresees indicates how disgustingly infantilized - and duped - far too many Americans are.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
I’m also wondering how Jonah thinks this would be different from 2004. After the conspiracy theories and vitriol that came out of that election, could things get worse?
You’re kidding, right?

Because if you don’t vote for Obama, you’re going to be a racist no matter what the reasoning is.


 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Vote for Obama or they’ll burn these cities down?
Riots have happened over less in recent years...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I think he can win simply on the "I want to vote for him to prove I am not a racist" factor. Then he will be a very left-wing president that does not "unify" the country at all and may not be re-elected.

Remember that voting is often about psychological rewards than actual rewards: your vote rarely counts in reality.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
I think he can win simply on the "I want to vote for him to prove I am not a racist" factor. Then he will be a very left-wing president that does not "unify" the country at all and may not be re-elected.

Remember that voting is often about psychological rewards than actual rewards: your vote rarely counts in reality.
The "I want to prove I am not a racist" can be easily satisfied by claiming to vote for him whether or not a person really does.

There are a lot of last minute awakenings within the confines of a voting booth when a voter realizes that in fact their vote isn’t based on race and never was, but on who they really perceive as the best candidate for the job.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The "I want to prove I am not a racist" can be easily satisfied by claiming to vote for him whether or not a person really does.
That would only be easy to those who find it easy to lie.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
He couldn’t rely on his charisma
Eszr thought Kerry had Charisma!?!? Well, that says a lot.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
One would also have to find it easy to lie to believe that voting for a racist would prove that they aren’t racist.

The real factor in whether this has any effect on actual voting is whether the "I’m not a racist" voter is trying to prove that to themselves or to others.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
let’s entertain the following scenario:

Iowa is won by Obama. Hilary, loosing her mind, attacks Obama in NH which only helps Edwards. At this point, you have Obama with Iowa and Edwards with New Hampshire. Hilary then, by default, takes Michigan (which is useless because they have no delegates). Then comes the battle in South Carolina. That will be split, again, between Edwards (fresh out of New Hampshire) and Obama. Nevada won’t matter one way or the other, and Florida will only serve to push people in Super Tuesday.

The problem is, in this scenario, you have the unraveling of the Democratic Party. What happens when, come the convention, you have Michigan and Florida, both of whom held elections and both of whom are going to be denied delegates are forcibly removed from the DNC? What will happen when it becomes painfully obvious that adopting an anti-war platform when things in Iraq have turned around would be political suicide?

This has the potential to be 1968 all over again.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
That would only be easy to those who find it easy to lie.
Who you vote for is nobody’s business, and anyone who accuses you of being racist because of your vote deserves to be fed misinformation. So, while it may not be the truth, I don’t think it falls into the territory of a lie. (What I’m getting at is that telling a falsehood isn’t always lying.)


I don’t think the line of "I will vote for Obama to prove I’m not a racist" will work in the long run. It was tried in California in the governor’s race in 1982. Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley was running against George Deukmajian at the time. Bradley’s campaign floated a series of ads to the effect of, "It’s time for Californians to prove they’re not afraid to elect a black man." Bradley lost by about 1% of the vote. I thought the ads were insulting, and I think a good many decent people would be insulted by similar ads from Obama.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
Who you vote for is nobody’s business, and anyone who accuses you of being racist because of your vote deserves to be fed misinformation. So, while it may not be the truth, I don’t think it falls into the territory of a lie. (What I’m getting at is that telling a falsehood isn’t always lying.)
Frankly, it’s never occurred to me that people would vote for Obama to show they aren’t a racist. Someone would have to be pretty insecure to do something like that. If I voted for, say, Biden and someone called me a racist for not voting for Obama, I’d just roll my eyes and shake my head. I wouldn’t see that as meaning I should try to get around the accusation by saying, "oh, no, I did vote for Obama."

Still, I’m not buying this bit about redefining what a lie is. You might be able to say some lies are justifiable, but when you start saying that people deserve misinformation, you’re simply rationalizing the act of lying. And you do so in a way that is morally weak — you don’t confront the fact it’s a lie and then justify clearly why, you simply try to say it is not a lie. I don’t think you can justify lying here because: a) if you’re not a racist you don’t have to prove yourself to someone so shallow they’ll accuse of racism for not voting for Obama; and b) you have the option to simply refuse to say who you voted for.

Joel, Americans are against the war and think it was a mistake. If things are getting better (which I think you’re way too optimistic about) it’ll be a sense of relief that we can get out of a mistake which should never have been made. It will NOT be pro-war, and it will not punish people who are skeptical of the war and want to get America out. Americans want out!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Still, I’m not buying this bit about redefining what a lie is. You might be able to say some lies are justifiable, but when you start saying that people deserve misinformation, you’re simply rationalizing the act of lying. And you do so in a way that is morally weak — you don’t confront the fact it’s a lie and then justify clearly why, you simply try to say it is not a lie.
I guess you can call that lying, but to me lying has always been withholding the truth from someone who has a right to know it. Whether you buy it or not, there is a moral distinction between giving false information and lying. If I were to ask you what your wife’s measurements were, and you told me 96-48-115, would that be a lie? No, because I have no right to know the information I requested. You can tell me it’s none of my business, but if you offer a response, you’re not obliged to tell me the truth. On the other hand, if I asked something that I had a right to know and you didn’t respond at all, then your lack of response would be a lie.
Frankly, it’s never occurred to me that people would vote for Obama to show they aren’t a racist.
You ought to get out more: people get called racist for the silliest of reasons. And no one likes being called a racist, so people will bend over backwards to avoid the label. As I pointed out, in the California governor race several years ago, there was a clear implication of racism for those not voting for Bradley.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
"the figure that lives on in our collective imagination?"

That is truer than she thinks.
What shall we call this inspirational figure? ’Dear Leader’, ’Great Leader’, and just plain ’Leader’ are already taken. God is out, for several reasons. ’Messiah’ would alienate Christians, although that probably isn’t important with a progressive regime. I am sure that they will think of something, as ’Mr. President’ or even ’El Presidente’ would be so prosaic.




"Because if you don’t vote for Obama, you’re going to be a racist no matter what the reasoning is."

That is why I am publicly proclaiming that I am going to vote for him as often as I can. Really. (The exit polls should be interesting).
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Joel, Americans are against the war and think it was a mistake. If things are getting better (which I think you’re way too optimistic about) it’ll be a sense of relief that we can get out of a mistake which should never have been made.
And that’s exactly why Bush lost in 2004.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Joel, Americans are against the war and think it was a mistake
Except that they’re not. I don’t know why you keep pushing that falsehood (actually I do, nevermind)
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Except that they’re not. . I don’t know why you keep pushing that falsehood (actually I do, nevermind)
Shark, you are out of touch with reality:

Check here
for the latest polls on Iraq. It’s not even close. The fact you seem to not realize what Americans think about the war says a lot about why you write what you do.

I guess you can call that lying, but to me lying has always been withholding the truth from someone who has a right to know it. Whether you buy it or not, there is a moral distinction between giving false information and lying. If I were to ask you what your wife’s measurements were, and you told me 96-48-115, would that be a lie? No, because I have no right to know the information I requested. You can tell me it’s none of my business, but if you offer a response, you’re not obliged to tell me the truth. On the other hand, if I asked something that I had a right to know and you didn’t respond at all, then your lack of response would be a lie.
One conclusion I draw: you can’t be trusted. Apparently if you decide that, based on your criteria, someone doesn’t have a right to know something, then it’s OK to lie. You don’t even want to call it a lie. That’s a slippery slope, especially since apparently it’s a subjective call on when someone has a right to information. A lie is a lie, Steverino. You can argue that lies are either harmless or justified in some circumstances, but you can’t pretend its not a lie. Well, you can, but that’s...a lie...

Don, 2004 was not near as negative about Iraq as now. 2006 gives a better indication of how Americans think. That’s when opinion really turned — and it hasn’t turned back!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the situation with Iraq?"
See, what Erb realizes is that he and I would answer this question the same way.

Of course, my disapproval comes from the fact that we didn’t pull a Japan: smash them to powder and put them back together. Or that Bush, as soon as we had the first Iranian made IED, didn’t say, "OK, we’ll see your one IED and raise you a mushroom cloud on Qom."

Because Erb (and the pollsters) realize that they inflate the numbers of "disapprovals" this way, look for this dishonest questioning to continue.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
See, what Erb realizes is that he and I would answer this question the same way.
Read all the questions. They ask specifically about Iraq and American policy. I was looking at those, not the approval question. Again, you can argue that the American people are wrong — argumentum ad populum is a logical fallacy — but you can’t argue that they support the war!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Apparently if you decide that, based on your criteria, someone doesn’t have a right to know something, then it’s OK to lie. You don’t even want to call it a lie. That’s a slippery slope...
Finally, an example from his real-life experiences. Shark, let this serve as a public service announcement from someone that isn’t a bad guy; but who’s been lying about the wars in Iraq since Bush the senior.



 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Read all the questions.
Unfortunately for your argument, I did.
Here is all you need to know about the accuracy of the polls cited above-
"Do you think the U.S. goal of achieving victory in Iraq is still possible, or not?" Half sample, MoE ± 4.4 (Form B)
———————Is Still Possible——Is Not StillPossible——Unsure
12/14-17/07 ———- 37 —————— 56 ——————————-7
11/1-5/07 —————40 —————— 54 ——————————6
...

N=1,006 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3 (for all adults). "Which comes closer to your view about the war in Iraq? You think the U.S. will definitely win the war in Iraq. You think the U.S. will probably win the war in Iraq. You think the U.S. can win the war in Iraq, but you don’t think it will win. OR, You do not think the U.S. can win the war in Iraq." Options rotated
———————Definitely Win——-Probably Win—-Can Win,But Won’t—-Cannot Win —-Unsure
11/30 - 12/2/07——15———————-24———————20———————- 37———————4
9/16-18/05————21———————-22———————20———————- 34——————-3

Two sets of polls asking the same question, ’Can the US win in Iraq?’. The first claims (within 4.4%) that only 40% of the people think we can win while 55% think we can’t. The second claims (within 3%) that 60% think we can win, only 35% sure of defeat. These cannot both be true at the same time. These sets of polls were stable over time, and taken in between each other chronolgically.
Either A)Twenty percent of Americans have changed their minds about whether we can win three times since mid-September.
Or B) These polls cannot be trusted.

I choose B.
Even if someone believes choice A it still proves that public opinion is turning on a monthly basis, and these polls cannot be used to show that the public has had a consistent opinion on the Iraq war.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
One conclusion I draw: you can’t be trusted.
This from the most intellectually dishonest commenter here.

Please show one instance where I have lied. Go ahead, take your time and go through all my comments here, dating all the way back to 2003. Once you can show that I actually have lied, then you can call me untrustworthy. Until then, stop resorting to ad hominem.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
Either A)Twenty percent of Americans have changed their minds about whether we can win three times since mid-September.
Hole in my logic: It’s also possible that a completely different set of Americans (or some combination) switched their mind in between each set of polling.
In any case there are supposedly three swings of twenty percent net in three months.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
"Because if you don’t vote for Obama, you’re going to be a racist no matter what the reasoning is."

That is why I am publicly proclaiming that I am going to vote for him as often as I can. Really. (The exit polls should be interesting).
Yes, but that’s only one manifestation of the leftists’ power over you. Anything that you do that they don’t agree with will be met with hostility, name calling, and violence. There is no reasoning with them — and that’s not an excuse not to try: it’s a way to explain it to a confused and frustrated mind trying to turn the other cheek. The derangement and screeching is loud; if they think that will get them what they want, then they will use it like a spoiled child.

Do not play that game.

Maybe it’s easier to see it this way because I always favored Alan Keyes to win, and even though people think he’s crazy for showing up to the debates without actually having a campaign, his being black hasn’t been as important to anyone as his economics and politics. If being black becomes important, then a candidate must have nothing else to offer.
 
Written By: [cb]
URL: http://
Well, Ted, you can distrust the polls, but that doesn’t give any evidence that the polls are wrong. Also, if you put the "can win but won’t" with the ’not still possible’ (something you easily can do because those who answered not still possible may be taking into account their perception that the US won’t do what they think needed) you get similar results in each poll.

Still, taking the polls as a whole, it’s clear the public is sour about Iraq, definitely NOT pro-war, think the whole thing a mistake and, while I’m sure we’ll all welcome some modicum of stability to let us escape this pointless fiasco, nothing in the world can make it a success. It’s already assured to be alongside Vietnam as a US foreign policy disaster. This late in the Vietnam war there were people trying to make the argument that Nixon succeeded at the end, kept South Vietnam stable. People were claiming in 1973 that Nixon’s policies had succeeded, but he’d just created an illusionary moment of stability to get us out. That’s the best we can hope for in the current situation.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I can but mainly that will be by ignoring their directives. If enough people simply do not follow their directives or simply stop paying taxes then the enforcement brigades of gun carrying law enforcement gets involved and a internal low intensity civil war could break out.
Earth to Skywatch: Yes, government intrusion is getting out of hand. But it is done by both parties, and only in so far as the public supports it. The idea of people causing civil war by refusing to pay taxes is ridiculous, absent complete economic collapse or another depression. People have too much to lose by opting out of the system — anyone with children to feed, a future to be concerned about, a house to hold on to, a job to keep will see that they’re better off paying taxes and complaining that somehow putting that all on the line for some kind of rebellion.

Still, the problem is real, and neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are going the route of thinking of creative ways to deal with the real problems that face us, especially economic problems (which both Republicans and Democrats place at the top in terms of issues this year).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Well, Ted, you can distrust the polls, but that doesn’t give any evidence that the polls are wrong
The fact that the polls come to conflicting results does give evidence that the polls are wrong.
Also, if you put the "can win but won’t" with the ’not still possible’
You’d be assuming every one of those people does not know the difference between ’can’ and ’can not’. The question wasn’t "will the US do what is needed", but "Is it possible".
those who answered not still possible may be taking into account their perception that the US won’t do what they think needed
Then they would have answed "cannot win" in the other poll.
Your best argument is that 20% of those polled don’t know English at a first-grade level. Sorry, if that’s the case, there is no reasonable assurance they understood the question to begin with. That leaves the polls solidly showing a 40-35 edge for people that say the US can win.

Your argument + the poll numbers = the people think the US can win.

There is a huge difference between logic and reason. The terms can and can’t fall into the former. While your argument contains some reason, it is logically invalid. MAT 151M is offered every semester.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Again, Ted, take all of the questions and the consistent answers in account. It is utterly impossible to say that the public supports the war. You’re trying to cherry pick two different questions and interpret it in a way that calls into question perhaps the wording of one or both of those questions. But you cannot honestly look at all the questions and all the results and doubt that the public believes the war a mistake. Moreover, if you rest on a claim that "the polls are wrong," you’re essentially denying the science of polling because you don’t like the result. Perhaps a couple questions were worded poorly — that’s why there are various wording and a variety of questions. But that’s the most you can get from your mini-criticism (and it still offers no evidence to show the public is supportive of the war).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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