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McCain's moment:

He's terrible at delivery. He can't read from a teleprompter to save his life. And convention organizers badly managed the aesthetics and failed early on to control the outbursts of protesters.

But with this speech, and with Palin's last night, the McCain campaign has finally moved away from trying to consolidate the base and is making a powerful play for independents and Democrats on the basis of economics and strong foreign policy. This may be the first GOP acceptance speech since 1992, for example, in which the nominee didn't take a swipe at gay marriage.

McCain was refreshingly candid about Republican failures over the past few years, especially on spending. He was respectful of Obama and the Democrats, emphasizing the commonalities and noting the differences without sarcasm. It was the most genuine, generous, and classy speech of the RNC. I got the sense he finally felt free to be himself. For all his shortcomings, it's good to have him back.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. McCain's moment:
  2. Palin's big moment:
  3. Palin's Speech:
Cold Warrior:
I liked the return of the old John McCain.

Terrible delivery? Yes. In its best moments, it was refreshing by its very lack of glitz.

A decent man, but here's what I wound up thinking more than anything else: too bad he didn't get the nomination 8 years ago. He seems like that wine you left in the cellar just a few years too long. You missed it in its prime. It's still drinkable, but ...
9.5.2008 12:45am
jvarisco (mail) (www):
"The McCain campaign has finally moved away from trying to consolidate the base."

Unfortunately, you don't win elections without a base. As McCain seems to be finding out in the post-Palin polls. You don't get values votes if your convention entirely ignores family values.
9.5.2008 12:51am
Hoosier:
jvarisco--Which polls have been done since Palin's speech, as opposed to being *published* after the Wow-Speech? I haven't seen any yet that take last night into account.
9.5.2008 12:54am
David Warner:
DC,

I made myself read it before watching it for that very reason. It is a very moving speech in text. Insta has it up.
9.5.2008 12:56am
Thai Webb:
Certainly not a great speech but it did sound more like the old John McCain. With his Palin pick, McCain no longer needs to appeal to social conservatives. In fact, I'm tempted to think that McCain could spend the next two months performing abortions and the right would still give him a "Palin Pass."

As such, he can run as a moderate who puts country first. Will he be able to simply pick up the old mantle after the last year of running to the right? I'm not sure but I don't think I would bet against the old war-horse just yet.

Should be an interesting fall, which is not something I would have predicted just one week ago.
9.5.2008 12:57am
Cold Warrior:

You don't get values votes if your convention entirely ignores family values.


I'll keep this courteous, jvarisco:

Other than an obvious commitment against abortion, precisely what family values does the Palin family personify? I find it more than passing strange that a governor of a state has a high school dropout/pregnant daughter, who is now apparently going to marry her high school dropout self-describe "redneck" boyfriend, with that very nontraditional "family" being paraded out (redneck boyfriend included) on stage ...
9.5.2008 12:58am
Brett M (mail):
Dale,

Right again, for the second night in a row. But, McCain has now framed this race as who is most likely to extricate us from the disastrous presidency of the last eight years. In the end, aren't most undecideds going to decide that the guy from the incumbent's party, who voted with the incumbent 90% of the time, is not the right answer to that question? Is relying on John McCain to completely overhaul his party really a more plausible strategy than giving the other side a chance?
9.5.2008 12:59am
Melancton Smith:
I found it very moving and inspiring...especially the emphasis on personal and civic responsibility.

I was a Dem in my younger days and have reformed pretty much into an Independent. I'm fairly certain I'm going to make my first ever Republican vote instead of a protest vote as I've been doing lately.
9.5.2008 1:00am
FlimFlamSam:
McCain is not a flashy speaker, but you really got the sense that this was a man who is ready to lead the country. The speech was very sober, and that isn't a bad thing at all. I thought John McCain came across very likeable.

Palin's speech was a grand slam, McCain's was a two run shot. To pointlessly extend the analogy, I thought Obama hit a solo homer. Poor Joe Biden, shorn of his crib notes, popped out.
9.5.2008 1:00am
Cold Warrior:
Oh, and I might mention the delicious irony of John McCain's segment on education, with camera catching Sarah Palin smiling with approval ... as we all know, academic success starts with parents ...
9.5.2008 1:01am
FlimFlamSam:

Other than an obvious commitment against abortion, precisely what family values does the Palin family personify?


Anybody who has to ask that question does get the Religious Right at all.
9.5.2008 1:02am
Bandon:
I have to say that McCain's speech tonight made a better impression on me than Palin's smug and sarcastic effort of last night. McCain's speech was ragged, poorly read, lacking in humor, and disorganized, but the strength of his personal story and his willingness to admit Republican imperfection increased my respect for the guy. I liked that he criticized Obama without mocking him, and he emphasized the need for all Americans to work together for the good of the country. He's clearly trying to distance himself from Bush's policies, but he knows that he will lose the election if he doesn't.

Will McCain's statements appeal to voters outside of the Republican base? I don't know about others, but I'm still voting for Obama.
9.5.2008 1:03am
Cold Warrior:
FlimFlam, please explain it for me then.
9.5.2008 1:03am
FlimFlamSam:
Haha, DOESN'T get the Religious Right.
9.5.2008 1:04am
Careless:
I was near tears by the end of that speech. The laughing kind. You just shouldn't try to give that sort of finale if you speak like he does.
9.5.2008 1:04am
Cold Warrior:
Absolutely, Bandon. I really like John McCain. Palin is becoming a very significant negative for me. I also like Barack Obama. (Did I really just say that! I actually like both of our candidates for President!! That's not supposed to happen!)

But I seriously dislike Joe Biden, and my initial impression of Palin is even worse ...
9.5.2008 1:06am
Hoosier:
Agreed that it was the old McCain. And the speech was, as someone once said of Mahler's music, better than it sounds. McCain is not Demosthenes, for sure.

Grading, I'd give it a B+ on the McCain-Speech Curve

Compared to other convention speeches by previous nominees, I'd say it averages out to a B-. Uneven, but some of it was really moving.
9.5.2008 1:06am
Hoosier:
"Oh, and I might mention the delicious irony of John McCain's segment on education, with camera catching Sarah Palin smiling with approval ... as we all know, academic success starts with parents ..."

Are Palin's children bad students?
9.5.2008 1:08am
Angus:
If only McCain hadn't evolved into such a typical partisan attack dog over the previous several months, one could almost buy that the old maverick was back. Sadly, though, I think tonight was solely for show and that McCain won't pay anything more than lip service to bringing the country back together. He's bought into the old partisan sniping and bullcrap of hack media handlers.

I was glad to support McCain in the 2000 primaries, but the 2008 version is a very pale shadow in comparison. Heck, he's even hired one of the architects of the South Carolina smears against him.

One last thing. I was away from a TV tonight and only read the text of the speech. Did McCain have his adopted daughter up there, or was she again left out of photo ops as she has often been during the campaign?
9.5.2008 1:08am
PC:
This is the McCain I wanted to vote for in 2000.
9.5.2008 1:08am
SP:
It was a middling speech, but I left thinking that the man on stage was decent and honorable. Unfortunately, most of the viewers won't be looking for that kind of thing.
9.5.2008 1:09am
therut:
Cold Warrior_____for all you know the 17 year old might grow up and find a cure for cancer or become President. Have you forgotton this is the USA. There is no reason if she wants she can not be a mother, wife and go on and get her education. My mother went to college at the age of 32 after having 4 children. She made straight A's and finished in 2.5 years that included her practice teaching. Nothing is impossible. And wasn't the facebook page of the boyfriend found to be a fake?
9.5.2008 1:10am
SP:
"One last thing. I was away from a TV tonight and only read the text of the speech. Did McCain have his adopted daughter up there, or was she again left out of photo ops as she has often been during the campaign?"

She was up there, and what are you implying? I think the only McCain kid regularly featured in any photo ops has been Meghan, because she's been traveling with the campaign.
9.5.2008 1:10am
Cold Warrior:
OK, FlimFlam, I take it you are not of the Religious Right.

But I really do need someone to explain it to me. Divorce and all, I see much more to appreciate about the McCain family, particularly Cindy's adopting a child from Mother Theresa's home. The children seem well-adjusted and successful. I am not disparaging the Palin family; Lord knows things like teen pregnancy happen. But since when is that admirable? Aren't the Republican traditionalists the ones who decry the loss of shame as a social force in America? The Palins -- pumped up by the Republican political apparatus -- are actually proud of the kid's pregnancy. Stigma? What's that??
9.5.2008 1:11am
FlimFlamSam:
Cold Warrior,

The Palins are a happily married couple who have stayed together. They have a son who has enlisted in the military. They have a daughter who made a mistake but is doing her best to make it right. She and her fiance are seeking redemption through getting married, and that's the right thing to do. The Palins didn't take the easy but wrong way out of either Sarah or Bristol's pregnancies by having abortions. Instead, they treated both babies as the blessings they are. The Palins seem to be genuinely good and decent people who do unto others as they would have done unto them.

A values voter can tell a real deal from a fake. The Palins are the real deal.
9.5.2008 1:11am
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I liked the part of his speech that I found to be the most genuine--serving your country, and a higher cause. That is the story of McCain's life. I may not vote for him, but I still admire him for that.

His delivery is not very good, he lacks charisma, and he seems awkward, but he is a decent person whose decency comes through.
9.5.2008 1:12am
FlimFlamSam:

OK, FlimFlam, I take it you are not of the Religious Right.


Cold Warrior,

I've read a couple of your posts and you seem to misunderstand what people say from time to time. I am absolutely a member of the Religious Right.
9.5.2008 1:14am
Cold Warrior:
therut, that's what I'm talking about. The Juno take on teen pregnancy has somehow taken over the so-called traditionalists. Hey, it's all part of that great American story, "overcoming obstacles." Why not get pregnant, have that baby, and become a great academic success? Who says we have to choose?

What happened here? Is the Tragedy of Teen Pregnancy just so 1990s?
9.5.2008 1:16am
Careless:

And the speech was, as someone once said of Mahler's music, better than it sounds. McCain is not Demosthenes, for sure.

Google says: "Bride of the Wind" quoting Twain about Wagner.

I was thinking Tom Lehrer.
9.5.2008 1:17am
Joshua:
McCain finished really strong in the last 15 minutes or so, but I thought most of his speech was somewhere between "pretty good" and "meh". On the other hand it's probably a good thing that he didn't try to make a big splash like Obama and Palin. His attempts at levity early on in the speech made him look more silly than down-to-earth. I'm thinking he should leave that sort of stuff to Palin from now on and stick to being the straight man of the campaign. McCain brings more gravitas to the table than all the other presidential nominees of this decade (Bush, Gore, Kerry and Obama) put together, and that's his greatest strength as a candidate.
9.5.2008 1:18am
TruthInAdvertising:
"But with this speech, and with Palin's last night, the McCain campaign has finally moved away from trying to consolidate the base and is making a powerful play for independents and Democrats on the basis of economics and strong foreign policy."

Dale, thanks for the laugh. I'll grant you that McCain is attempting a play to the middle. But Palin's speech was nothing of the sort. The reaction from the convention attendees spoke volumes. Their cheers for Palin and her right-wing talking points were loud and genuine. For McCain, they were often forced or noticeably absent when he was actually taking the GOP to task for their corruption and mismanagement of government.

The voters may get distracted at times by flash and glitz of the various candidates. But do you really think that they are so clueless that they're going to forget the last 8 years of Republican rule in the White House? Or the DeLay years and the corruption that came with that? Obama will remind voters that a McCain administration would still largely be in the hands of the same Republican establishment that makes up the Bush WH. Even if you believe McCain and Palin are reformers, there's nowhere near the number of people in the Republican world who share that view to fill a McCain administration.

McCain's problem is that while he's a conservative at his core, on key issues, he's an outcast from his base. That's why there was almost no talk about immigration and in describing his own torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese, he couldn't even use the word torture. No drilling in ANWR? A big loser among Republicans. He's not one of them and he and they both know it. Tonight was his effort to move away from them but I expect that they'll leave him faster than he can pull in the middle.

Don't think Obama's going to pass up the opportunity to highlight those contradictions. By forcing McCain to voice his views on those positions, it will just highlight to the Republican base why they never supported McCain in the first place. Over the next 8 weeks, I suspect many of them will be more interested in starting the planning for the Palin 2012 campaign. To the moderates, it will remind them that while McCain may look OK on paper, he's attached to a party that they have no interest in rewarding with another 4 years in the White House.
9.5.2008 1:18am
Pizza Snob:
The aethetics were awful. Another green screen for the first 10 minutes? It looked like self mockery.

I'm not sure who the RNC uses for its musical direction, but he should be fired. Dropped the ball last night and relied too heavily on "Celebrate" tonight. It's a song that sets the wrong tone and sends the wrong message. Awful. Just awful.
9.5.2008 1:19am
Cold Warrior:
FlimFlam, as you can see, you're right. I guess I just don't get it.

I am a Christian/Catholic, so I certainly understand the whole Prodigal Son thing. But can we not save our greatest praise here on earth for those families who somehow avoid things such as teen pregnancy in the first instance? Do you really need to "make a mistake" and get pregnant in order to prove your religious bona fides? Would they be even more praiseworthy if the younger daughter also got pregnant and decided to keep the baby?

I guess I just don't get it.
9.5.2008 1:20am
Scott Scheule (mail) (www):
I respect honesty and humbleness, even with a bad delivery. But I've never expected the same response from the electorate.
9.5.2008 1:20am
Cold Warrior:
Chris Matthews, of all people, makes a fine point:

the most interesting part of the speech was McCain's admission that his Party let people down over the last 8 years. A clear separation from Bush, and a clear confession of the Abramoff-era sins. I voted for Bush in 2000, and I have been terribly disappointed. McCain's confession makes me consider him much more seriously again.

Fine job.
9.5.2008 1:24am
FlimFlamSam:

Why not get pregnant, have that baby, and become a great academic success? Who says we have to choose?


You have a real misunderstanding of the psyche of values voters. I'm not intending to be their spokesman, but I can certainly tell you what I am thinking, and I have yet to encounter a values voter who disagrees with my take on the Palin matter.

Bristol Palin did something she should not have done, as all of us have. But instead of aborting her baby, she took responsibility for her actions (as has the father) and will marry him. Bristol and Levi have behaved commendably.

Everybody knows what teenage hormones can do. Everybody knows that people make mistakes. We hope that the mistake isn't made to begin with, but what we expect is some repentance thereafter. That's exactly what Bristol Palin has shown, and it is a reflection of good values and good raising.

The people who misunderstand values voters' reactions to Bristol Palin are the same people who couldn't understand why Jesus was friendly to prostitutes and tax collectors.
9.5.2008 1:26am
The General:
McCain said
We believe in a strong defense, work, faith, service, a culture of life, personal responsibility, the rule of law, and judges who dispense justice impartially and don't legislate from the bench. We believe in the values of families, neighborhoods and communities.


There's no room for gay "marriage" and judges who don't legislate from the bench, since there's no way in hell gay "marriage" would ever happen without liberal judges ruling their policy preferences instead of upholding the law. The democratic process will never create gay "marriage" - only unaccountable judges do that in spite of the will of the people. McCain didn't directly "take a swipe" at the perversion, but he made it clear to those who were listening that gay "marriage" is incompatible with family values and judges upholding the law.
9.5.2008 1:26am
Cold Warrior:

The democratic process will never create gay "marriage" - only unaccountable judges do that in spite of the will of the people.

I agree; I don't like judicially-created gay marriage. But I don't agree; I think we will get legislatively-created gay marriage in a number of states. And fairly soon. And when that happens, I similarly want the courts to keep out of it. It's a state matter. That's our federalist tradition.


McCain didn't directly "take a swipe" at the perversion


Well, it took about 50 comments before this thread got dragged into the gutter ...
9.5.2008 1:32am
FlimFlamSam:

But can we not save our greatest praise here on earth for those families who somehow avoid things such as teen pregnancy in the first instance?


Pure strawman argument. You seem puzzled why values voters are not angry over Palin's daughter. I have tried to explain why. Would we prefer that her children were all perfect all the time? Yes. Do we understand that's not possible in a fallen world? Absolutely.


Do you really need to "make a mistake" and get pregnant in order to prove your religious bona fides?


Jesus didn't die on the Cross for the perfect. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. In the eyes of God, sinning followed by repentance is EXACTLY THE SAME as having never sinned at all.


Would they be even more praiseworthy if the younger daughter also got pregnant and decided to keep the baby?


Bristol Palin's pregnancy is not praiseworthy, nor would the hypothetical younger sister's pregnancy be. No one has claimed that it is. What I am trying to explain to you is that Bristol Palin's response to her mistake demonstrates character and values, even if her conduct in the first instance did not.
9.5.2008 1:34am
TruthInAdvertising:
"That's exactly what Bristol Palin has shown, and it is a reflection of good values and good raising."

You're missing the point. For years, conservatives have railed against how the media glorifies teen sex and teen pregnancy and never shows the downsides of such behavior. Yet, when the new shining star of conservatism appears on stage, not only is her teen daughter's pregnancy celebrated, she's trotted out on stage for all to see. I get the point that the kids are being responsible, etc. But she's still pregnant and still unmarried and still not what I would expect to be the poster child for the conservative movement. But as Ted Haggard and others have shown, value voters do a better job of tsk-tsking liberals than following their own standards.
9.5.2008 1:34am
Scott Scheule (mail) (www):
Flim,

I'm not a values voter of the right by any means, but you are defending yourself admirably.
9.5.2008 1:39am
FlimFlamSam:

You're missing the point. For years, conservatives have railed against how the media glorifies teen sex and teen pregnancy and never shows the downsides of such behavior. Yet, when the new shining star of conservatism appears on stage, not only is her teen daughter's pregnancy celebrated, she's trotted out on stage for all to see.


No one has "celebrated" Bristol Palin's pregnancy. No one has glorified teen sex or teen pregnancy. Conservatives appreciate the fact that Bristol Palin is doing the right thing after making a mistake. How dadgum hard is that to understand?


I get the point that the kids are being responsible, etc.


It seems pretty clear that you don't! The point that the kids are being responsible is exactly why conservatives have rushed to Bristol Palin's defense.


But she's still pregnant and still unmarried and still not what I would expect to be the poster child for the conservative movement.


Well I seriously doubt anybody on my side cares about your expectations in this matter. You're obviously a lost cause.
9.5.2008 1:43am
Derrick (mail):

Bristol Palin did something she should not have done, as all of us have. But instead of aborting her baby, she took responsibility for her actions (as has the father) and will marry him. Bristol and Levi have behaved commendably.


FlimFlam,

It's real hard to paper over the excessive rhetoric towards single mothers by the Right over the years, and as far as we still know Bristol isn't married yet. I have a great deal of compassion for Bristol, but I also have a great deal of compassion for the nameless woman who found themselves in a similar tough situation as well. The problem is that the Religious Right has labeled all of those non-Bristol single mothers as representing all that's terrible about liberal culture, irresponsible and so forth. We haven't heard not a lick of criticism from these moralizers who I'm sure would have had little restraint in calling out say one of Gore's daughters for a similar offense. I'm sorry but the fact that she's not having an abortion doesn't make it right when applying the Falwell-Dobson hypocritical standards.
9.5.2008 1:43am
Jason D. (mail):
I'd like to make an observation about Bristol Palin's situation, or more aptly, on liberty. Commentaries--especially on the right--have said how much they admire Bristol for her choice not to abort. I emphasis the term "choice," even the most Burkian of types, I think, intuitively under why John Stuart Mill felt the ability to choose was so vitally important. It is unfortunate, therefore, that conservatives do not take this—the ability to choose--in consideration when taking positions on social issues (e.g. gay marriage). Now I realize the greatness of choice will never convince some to be pro-choice (for abortion that is), but maybe for some other issues, if probably considered, the importance of choice would lead to different positions on certain important policy issues.
9.5.2008 1:44am
Cold Warrior:
FlimFlam, I appreciate the explanation. And I do understand it. It is, in fact, the parable of the prodigal son for the modern world. And I will not get into name calling. I respect your convictions.

But I will say this: I am somewhat disturbed by what a perceive to be a new focus on "overcoming adversity" as a selling point. We all face adversity, we all overcome it. Some more publicly than others. I saw the same thing with GW Bush: it he had always been the good son (the Jeb as it were), behaving himself, acting responsibly toward his family, I sense that he never would have gained traction with the "religious right." I understand that this is part of the "Road to Damascus" moment focus of evangelicals. But I still don't understand why people are so obsessed by the narrative, the "I was lost and now I am found" story. Those who always walked the straight and narrow can't seem to gain any traction. In fact, I even believe that Barack Obama has tried to play up his apparent casual drug use to create a convincing back story to his ascendance. His real back story is more real, and more convincing. He doesn't need the other one.

So while I appreciate the focus on values, I do not like to see it descend into some kind of cult of personality. We'll accept you as one of us if you've done something bad, or if you've been an alcoholic, or drug addict, or something else dramatic, but not if you've been a quiet, responsible family man/woman with well-adjusted children.
9.5.2008 1:47am
FlimFlamSam:

It's real hard to paper over the excessive rhetoric towards single mothers by the Right over the years, and as far as we still know Bristol isn't married yet. I have a great deal of compassion for Bristol, but I also have a great deal of compassion for the nameless woman who found themselves in a similar tough situation as well. The problem is that the Religious Right has labeled all of those non-Bristol single mothers as representing all that's terrible about liberal culture, irresponsible and so forth.


The point you're missing, and it is an absolutely critical one, is that the vast majority of religious right types like me view single mothers and their children as victims and as a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. The one exception, and it is a noteworthy exception, is when a person makes a pattern and practice of continuing to have illegitimate children. It's not the mistake that leads to the condemnation, it's the failure to recognize the mistake and try to do better. Those are the single mothers who have been criticized by my fellow conservatives. Two teenagers who make a mistake, get pregnant, and get married... those aren't people we have ever had a problem with.
9.5.2008 1:51am
FlimFlamSam:
Cold Warrior,

I think your complaint is with human (and, frankly, divine) nature rather than any specific element of this presidential campaign.
9.5.2008 1:55am
Matt Austin:
Am I the only person bothered by someone referring to him or herself as a "values voter"? Is the assumption that other people vote based on phases of the moon, or just that their "values" aren't to be taken as seriously?
9.5.2008 1:57am
Calculated Risk:
Matt Austin,

No, the assumption is that your values are inferior, not that they do not exist.

If you think that economic justice is important, well, that just doesn't matter much. If you want to be a "values voter" you have to be against abortion. Because that is all that matters.
9.5.2008 1:59am
EH (mail):
Jason D.: They like choice, as long as you make the right one.

Do you really need to "make a mistake" and get pregnant in order to prove your religious bona fides? Would they be even more praiseworthy if the younger daughter also got pregnant and decided to keep the baby?

These days, yes. It's a hallmark of the born-agains and evangelicals to desire to have dealt with bigger and bigger sins. Witnessing and proselytizing trust relies heavily on out-sinning the next guy. It's not enough to have straightened your life out or helped someone to have straightened theirs, you have to have been prostituting yourself for a sandwich or bringing home a surprise adoptee from vacation. It's terribly "of the world."
9.5.2008 2:01am
Cold Warrior:
I am an urban, upper middle class, overeducated, middle-aged white guy. I go to church and try to live a decent life. I am not judgmental toward others, but I am very careful about checking out the people my kids associate with. I am libertarian by nature, conservative by lifestyle.

And so when I try to get inside the head of "values voters," I sometimes feel (to use the name of the Oliver Sacks book) like an Anthropologist on Mars.

I'm not alone. I read this article in Slate today, and it explains things very nicely:

http://www.slate.com/id/2199255/

What's going on with the Republican Party I once knew? For one thing, we overeducated urbanites clearly live the conservative life to a significantly greater degree than the rural/small town/blue collar types. For another thing, we seem to have a whole lot less sex.
9.5.2008 2:02am
David M. Nieporent (www):
But I will say this: I am somewhat disturbed by what a perceive to be a new focus on "overcoming adversity" as a selling point. We all face adversity, we all overcome it.
We don't all overcome it, do we? Some try and fail. Some don't even try, and then blame conservatives for not giving them handouts from taxpayers.
9.5.2008 2:02am
Matt Austin:
Risk,

That sounds about right. I guess it's like all the talk about one party that puts "American first". The other one, by implication, puts...uhm...Hollywood first?
9.5.2008 2:02am
Elliot123 (mail):
Obama would be a great TV news anchor man. He can read and present the material extremely well. McCain would be terrible at the job.

However, that doesn't at all prevent either from effectively communicating as a candidate.
9.5.2008 2:03am
FlimFlamSam:
Matt Austin and Calculated Risk,

I thought it pretty clear what I meant by the term. I didn't invent it, I just use it because it's a descriptor others have applied to me.

You know, the term "Republican" doesn't mean "somebody who is in favor of a republican form of government." "Democrat" likewise doesn't mean what one might think it means etymologically. So why attack me?

I'm not saying people who disagree with me don't have values, I'm just using a term of art.
9.5.2008 2:03am
both sides of the mouth much? (mail):
The notion that conservatives acknowledge that teenagers are bound to act irresponsibly, thus excusing them to commend Bristol's "choice" not to abort her fetus, is laughable. Conservatives, among them the Governor herself, insist on abstinence only education, explicitly denying the irrefutable fact that teenagers cannot be expected to make the right choices about sex without real education. Perhaps if young Bristol or her teenage boyfriend had been permitted to learn about and access contraceptives, this undoubtedly unwanted pregnancy could have been avoided. The Governor, and sadly, her daughter and grandchild, have fallen prey to her own misguided and thoughtless rhetoric.
9.5.2008 2:05am
TJIT (mail):
TruthInAdvertising,

You said,
value voters do a better job of tsk-tsking liberals than following their own standards.
Liberals have been tsk-tsking conservatives over sexism for years.

Yet when they had to run against a female conservative these same liberals gleefully took to the task of slinging buckets sexist slime all over the Palins.

The out of control misogyny being aimed at Gov. Palin and her family since Friday is breathtaking in its breadth, depth and total inhuman cluelessness.

There is an aspect to the misogyny that is mentioned here and there, but doesn't get the full attention it deserves, and that is the class bias thoroughly interwoven with the gender hatred.

Gov. Palin (yes, kids, she *is* a governor and I'm damnwell giving her the title she has earned.) and even more her daughter are being typified not just as female or sexually promiscuous females, but specifically as white trash females.

Class, race and gender are all mixed into a seething stew served up by the privileged white males (and far too many females) of the MSM and the political establishment
I'm sure the republicans appreciate all of the good works the obamatron's are doing for them.

They are motivating the republican base while simultaneously demotivating the base of their own party.
9.5.2008 2:06am
FlimFlamSam:
both sides of the mouth much?,

Are you seriously arguing that Bristol and Levi had never heard of condoms?
9.5.2008 2:08am
LM (mail):
DC,

This may be the first GOP acceptance speech since 1992, for example, in which the nominee didn't take a swipe at gay marriage.

There's another reason you should find him simpatico. He may be the only Republican who's not gay who the extreme right hates on as ferociously as they do you guys.
9.5.2008 2:08am
Joshua:
Cold Warrior (re: your ongoing discussion w/ FlimFlamSam): Yes, cultural traditionalists do still rue the death of social stigma. But that's not a conservative viewpoint, that's a reactionary one. Cultural conservatives, at least by the Hayekian definition of conservatism, seek to preserve the culture we have now, not necessarily roll it back to some (real or mythical) bygone ideal state. And for better or worse, the culture we have now is indeed a post-stigma one, complete with the Juno (Juneau?) take on teen pregnancy that you brought up. Cultural conservatives may not like that, but they're too busy fighting tooth and nail to preserve other facets of traditional culture that haven't fallen yet (one-man/one-woman marriage comes to mind) to worry too much about reversing fait accompli defeats like the death of stigma.
9.5.2008 2:11am
Matt Austin:

I thought it pretty clear what I meant by the term. I didn't invent it, I just use it because it's a descriptor others have applied to me.


I would suggest that you use it because it implies a moral superiority. Otherwise, why wouldn't "conservative" or "libertarian" work (whichever applies, of course)?

I'd love to use an analogy from liberal politics, but I can't think of a phrase liberals use for themselves in a similar way. Can anyone help me out?
9.5.2008 2:11am
Jason D. (mail):
For clarification sake, Mill thought that the ability to choose itself had value, even if the choice was wrong; the fact that the person made it freely was of value. Mill contrasts this with a steam engine that even though it does great things, has no value as far as choosing its decisions freely is concerned. From this, Mill argued tha the value of choice creates, to still a line from Randy Barnett, a persumption of liberty. From the Right's comments on Bristol's situation, they too seem to understand this inherent value of choice. My comment is they should apply it when taking positions on social issues.
9.5.2008 2:14am
Matt Austin:
Joshua,


Cultural conservatives may not like that, but they're too busy fighting tooth and nail to preserve other facets of traditional culture that haven't fallen yet (one-man/one-woman marriage comes to mind) to worry too much about reversing fait accompli defeats like the death of stigma.


That might seem plausible but for the convenient timing of exactly when this stopped being a problem (approximately 72 hours ago).
9.5.2008 2:14am
both sides of the mouth much? (mail):
FlimFlam,

Given the 98% effectiveness of condoms, and the fact that Bristol is 100% knocked up, I'd suggest that even if she "heard" of condoms, she either couldn't easily access or possess them or didn't know how to properly use one.

Do you really mean to tell me the Governor would have welcomed condoms or, Jesus-forbid, birth control pills in her "Christian" home? Give me a break?
9.5.2008 2:15am
Cold Warrior:
TJIT, I think you're right. It isn't sexism. It's class consciousness.

But it isn't really the fault of the Democrats for playing it up. It's the fault of the Republicans for starting in on the whole "elitism" thing again. Obama is an elitist because ... because what? Because he thinks people cling to religion and guns in times of economic stress? Because he likes gourmet foods?

Or is it really because he is an Ivy League success story? Because he did well in school, despite not exactly having the most privileged background, and despite being from a broken home? Because his family is intact and seemingly well-adjusted? You almost have to think that if he loses this time around he ought to try like hell to get his older daughter pregnant by the time the 2012 election rolls around.

Is the accusation of "elitism" really anything other than class envy? The Republicans fomenting class envy? It's enough to make me shed a tear for the loss of that biggest elitist of them all, hero in name only to all Republicans, William F. Buckley.
9.5.2008 2:15am
Angus:

They are motivating the republican base while simultaneously demotivating the base of their own party.
If demotivation means getting $10 million in donations in a single day, I think Obama would like more of this demotivation every 24 hours.
9.5.2008 2:15am
FlimFlamSam:

I would suggest that you use it because it implies a moral superiority.


Well I appreciate you ascribing a Goebbels-like propagandistic intention to me, but the reason I referred to myself as a values voter is because jvarisco referenced people like me as casting "values votes" in his 11:51 post and Cold Warrior quoted him a few minutes later, just before I got in the discussion.


Otherwise, why wouldn't "conservative" or "libertarian" work (whichever applies, of course)?


Those terms are dramatically less descriptive. Frankly, I'm a libertarian conservative who cares a lot about moral issues.

Next time be a little more charitable and less accusatory. Maybe if you were a little nicer you wouldn't feel so morally inferior :-)
9.5.2008 2:17am
yawn:
I'd love to use an analogy from liberal politics, but I can't think of a phrase liberals use for themselves in a similar way. Can anyone help me out?

"Progressive."
9.5.2008 2:20am
Cold Warrior:
I think we all know what FlimFlam meant by "values voters," since that term has entered the political lexicon. And although I'm clearly not a "values voter," I have no problem with FlimFlam using the term in its commonly-accepted manner.

So please: no fake indignation.
9.5.2008 2:20am
David Warner:
There is a distinction between an unwed pregnancy and an unwed mother. There are some months in between for fateful choices to be made.

"Values" is short for "family values" which, to those who consider themselves to be advocating them, consist of, well, valuing families over the lack thereof, and valuing most highly the traditional nuclear family.

This is not without basis. A raft of studies show that children do much better when raised by both their biological parents than in other arrangements. Those who genuinely value the needs of those children, perceiving that the society overvalues those of the parents, value policies that promote the creation of more of those families.

I believe they've also gradually come to the realization that policies matter less than culture, which is why we heard less of the former at this convention. For libertarians, this is a welcome shift. The one policy on which their advocacy will not relax, however, is abortion, as this is seen as a human rights issue.
9.5.2008 2:20am
FlimFlamSam:

Given the 98% effectiveness of condoms, and the fact that Bristol is 100% knocked up, I'd suggest that even if she "heard" of condoms, she either couldn't easily access or possess them or didn't know how to properly use one.


Well if condoms are 98% effective each use, a statistic I believe is quite accurate, then your conclusion that Bristol Palin didn't use a condom is pretty likely to be right assuming she and Levi had sex only one time. But how likely is that? With a 2% failure rate, it doesn't take too many repetitions before you get a failure. There is no way to know whether she used a condom or not.

And that's not even your biggest logical flaw. The biggest logical flaw is the assumption that if Bristol Palin and her boyfriend knew what condoms were, they would have used them. Plenty of people who have full blown sex-ed still don't use condoms. Plenty of people who know what condoms are despite not having learned about them in sex-ed still don't use condoms. I'm hoping that doesn't come as a suprise to you and that your previous comments were pure (though illogical) rhetoric.
9.5.2008 2:21am
Cold Warrior:
All I know is this: assuming Levi's MySpace page is real (and nobody from the campaign has come forth to say it isn't), I am making absolutely no assumptions about his ability to determine cause and effect.
9.5.2008 2:24am
FlimFlamSam:
While bedtime calls, I want to thank Cold Warrior and (most) everybody else for a civil and enjoyable debate. Peace out, y'all.
9.5.2008 2:25am
LM (mail):
I think McCain gave about as good a prepared speech as he's able. As uncomfortable as he is with the format, he came across as 100% genuine. I don't see how you can not like and admire the guy.

(Then again, I don't see how you can not like and admire Barack Obama. Lucky for me, there are commenters here who have taken it upon themselves to broaden my imagination.)
9.5.2008 2:28am
js5 (mail):
I'm with flimflam on this. But don't forget, it was a 17 year old girl who was deflowered by a self-described 'redneck'. [insert applicable kentucky birth control joke]
9.5.2008 2:28am
TruthInAdvertising:
I don't really care to debate any of these details but this is just wrong:

"With a 2% failure rate, it doesn't take too many repetitions before you get a failure."

First off, unless you're an idiot, you never reuse the condom. The failure rate is for each time it's used. It's not cumulative. Am I to assume that by your math, 50 times using a condom has a 100% guarantee of failure?
9.5.2008 2:29am
Angus:
Actually, the correct figure for condom effectiveness in preventing pregnancy per one time correct use is 99.98%. Remember that even if a condom breaks during an episode of intercourse, that does not mean pregnancy will result from it. The 2% is the number of couples using condoms each time correctly that will have an unexpected pregnancy over a full year of having regular intercourse.
Link
9.5.2008 2:31am
Matt Austin:

I'd love to use an analogy from liberal politics, but I can't think of a phrase liberals use for themselves in a similar way. Can anyone help me out?

"Progressive."


Progressive is more along the lines of "conservative" or "libertarian", I believe.
9.5.2008 2:32am
Cold Warrior:
It occurs to me: the "overcoming adversity" schtick has overcome all sensible political debate.

Obama: overcame "self-centeredness" which included a dalliance with controlled substances in his youth.

Palin: adversity up the wazoo since, oh, 5 months ago; up till then, everything was fine, and she wasn't a contender for anything

McCain: the real-deal adversity, albeit 40 years ago. Since then, 7 houses.

Bob Dole: overcame real-deal adversity, but only 30 years before he was nominated.

Al Gore: my tweener kid almost died in an accident!

John Edwards: my little kid died actually did die in an accident!

Joe Biden: I'll call you and raise you a wife, John!

Bill Clinton: momma raised me by herself, and if I'm a philanderer it's only because I'm my daddy's son

GW Bush: the big league version of Obama; his drunkenness extended all the way into his 30s until momma Bush and Billy Graham set his straight

Dick Cheney: how many heart attacks are we at now?

So we have to go all the way back to the original Bush to find a guy without an obvious "overcoming adversity" story who still got his party's President/VP nomination. And Quayle, Dukakis, and Bentsen were similarly bereft of tragedy. Just a mere 20 years ago, we didn't want to hear it. Now we can't be bothered to hear anything else.

The decline of American civilization continues unabated ...
9.5.2008 2:35am
Cold Warrior:
Oops, forgot Kitty Dukakis on drugs and Cindy McCain on drugs ...
9.5.2008 2:38am
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
i've seen the obama talking point about "mccain voted with the incumbent 90% of the time" thrown a lot tonight by the obama ditto-heads. as i am too lazy to discover for myself...how are they voting alike? forgive a question that might be painfully obvious, but since when does the President vote in the US Senate?
9.5.2008 2:39am
Matt Austin:

So we have to go all the way back to the original Bush to find a guy without an obvious "overcoming adversity" story who still got his party's President/VP nomination. And Quayle, Dukakis, and Bentsen were similarly bereft of tragedy. Just a mere 20 years ago, we didn't want to hear it. Now we can't be bothered to hear anything else.


Bush, Sr. was shot down behind enemy lines in WWII.
9.5.2008 2:39am
Matt Austin:

i've seen the obama talking point about "mccain voted with the incumbent 90% of the time" thrown a lot tonight by the obama ditto-heads. as i am too lazy to discover for myself...how are they voting alike? forgive a question that might be painfully obvious, but since when does the President vote in the US Senate?


Peculiar you would disparage them with the phrase "dittoheads" and then confess ignorance as to what they meant.

It turns out that the President is the one that signs legislation, and even has opinions on legislation that never makes it to his desk.
9.5.2008 2:43am
Cold Warrior:
Damn! Missed that one, Matt.

But the larger point stands: Bush 41 obviously didn't make a big deal about it ... wouldn't have been prudent. Actually, a man like him would've been embarrassed to bring it up.

Reagan: no tragedy!
Mondale: happy!
Carter: grinnin' Jimmy! (lusted in his heart, but that doesn't count)
Ford: well-adjusted!
Dole when he was Ford's VP: didn't talk about the war wounds much
Nixon: sorry, no personal tragedy available to excuse his craziness
LBJ: sane SOB with no tragedy
Humphrey: Happy/Non-Tragic Warrior!
JFK: stands out for his personal/war tragedy in a time -- at the time, an exception; now it's de riguer

and so on and so on ...

... just like coverage of the Olympics, a/k/a Profiles of American Athletes Who Overcame Some Kind of Adversity to Prevail in Beijing
9.5.2008 2:45am
yawn:
Progressive is more along the lines of "conservative" or "libertarian", I believe.

Not really. It implies superiority: "progressive" as opposed to "regressive" or a lack of progress. But I suppose your uncharitable attributions of self-anointed moral superiority apply only to the other side of the aisle.

Hypocrite. :)
9.5.2008 2:45am
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
its not disparaging, its a term with a specific meaning that i meant to use in that instance. if biden says something and then i see it posted on a blog 5 times...i'd say thats parroting, which is the same thing as dittohead. i used a noun instead of a verb. my apologies to those parroting talking points.

i was being snarky and pointing out a sloppy use of language. but rage on you bright boy. you have pointed out how redneckpublican i am.
9.5.2008 2:50am
Matt Austin:

Not really. It implies superiority: "progressive" as opposed to "regressive" or a lack of progress. But I suppose your uncharitable attributions of self-anointed moral superiority apply only to the other side of the aisle.

Hypocrite. :)


So either you're unaware or choosing to omit the history of the word "progressive" and the fact it (a) an actual political philosophy and (b) has been used by both sides of the aisle in the 100+ years of its existence.

But, hey, hypocrite is a fun word to throw around.
9.5.2008 2:54am
yawn:
And you were either unaware or choosing to omit the fact that "values voter" was a similar term of art used earlier. Yet you had no qualms suggesting that someone was using it to feel morally superior (even though it was applied to him first by someone else).

Funny how the same degree of circumspection didn't apply then. Hypocrite. :)
9.5.2008 3:01am
Matt Austin:

its not disparaging, its a term with a specific meaning that i meant to use in that instance. if biden says something and then i see it posted on a blog 5 times.


So your intent was simply to object to the idea of staying on message. Fascinating stuff. And glad to find out that dittoheads isn't pejorative.


i was being snarky and pointing out a sloppy use of language. but rage on you bright boy. you have pointed out how redneckpublican i am.


I suppose "John McCain has voted yes or no in a way that coincides with the desires and/or signatures of George Bush 90% of the time" didn't focus group as well.
9.5.2008 3:09am
MQuinn:
The General is in italics...

There's no room for gay "marriage"
Why put marriage in quotation marks? Is it impossible for gays to get married? Do you alone have the privilege of defining marriage?

and judges who don't
I assume you mistakenly included the word "don't"

legislate from the bench,
I assume that when you use this meaningless buzz phrase -- legislate from the bench -- you intend to demean the injection of ideology into judicial opinions. I think that you should be more clear, b/c "legislate" in this context suggests that the legislature's power has been usurped, which is not necessarily true just b/c a judge's political preference is implemented. Further, I suggest that this cliche has become a meaningless talking point that can be sold to people on both the left and the right.

since there's no way in hell gay "marriage" would ever happen without liberal judges ruling their policy preferences instead of upholding the law.
I suspect that this statement will be proven false in due time; i.e., it is only a matter of time until a state legislature allows gay marriage. Also, your implicit suggestion that only liberals base their holdings on personal ideology is inaccurate; liberal judges write opinions that support liberal agendas, and conservative judges write opinions that support conservative agendas. All types of judges of guilty of this sin. Further, I would hardly call J. Kennedy, the author of Lawrence v. Texas, liberal. Moreover, is it not possible that the substantive due process clause or the equal protection clause or the liberty clause protects the right to get married, regardless of sex, without it constituting an instance of "legislating from the bench"? Perhaps it is the conservative judges that are injecting their personal anti-gay marriage beliefs into the Constitution. Commenters: spare me the "where is the gay marriage clause" line of attack; it's too obvious, too easy to respond to, and we'll never find common ground.

The democratic process will never create gay "marriage" - only unaccountable judges do that in spite of the will of the people.
This is just a restatement of your previous sentence. Further, our federal Constitution was intentionally designed to be counter-majoritarian -- a protection against those that find certain minorities distasteful.

McCain didn't directly "take a swipe" at the perversion,
I find this conclusory statement -- that homosexuality is a perversion -- offensive, if you intend to convey that it is wrongful. Strong arguments can be made that you are wrong in stating that there is something inherently wrong with homosexuality, and I feel that your statement was an intentional and unnecessary personal attack on gays.

but he made it clear to those who were listening that gay "marriage" is incompatible with family values
Really? Whose family values? Yours? Are gay people always poor parents? Essentially, you have made yet another conclusory, unsupported statement. Of course, those that already agree with you will cheer your point, but you will never convince an undecided reader with such robust yet hollow rhetoric.

and judges upholding the law.
Yet another conclusory, unsupported statement, but I already touched on this point above. I will add one more argument: it is interesting how you seem to consider the law to be cut and dry, clear, and easy to apply, if only those liberal judges would try. In the law, it is not as simple as A+B=C. Nope. There are holes in the law, and it is often not as simple as merely "upholding the law."

Sorry for the misspellings / poor grammar; it is late.
9.5.2008 3:10am
Dave N (mail):
Matt Austen,

Actually, Bush41 was shot down in the Pacific during WWII. He would have drowned had an American sub not been there to rescue him. It was close to miraculous that he survived (2 crewmembers were killed). However, I am not sure he overcame any adversity in the process.
9.5.2008 3:10am
astrangerwithcandy (mail):


So your intent was simply to object to the idea of staying on message. Fascinating stuff. And glad to find out that dittoheads isn't pejorative.


these are individuals posting in the comments on volokh, not obama campaign staffers. i am not sure they get points for "staying on message"
9.5.2008 3:13am
Matt Austin:

And you were either unaware or choosing to omit the fact that "values voter" was a similar term of art used earlier. Yet you had no qualms suggesting that someone was using it to feel morally superior (even though it was applied to him first by someone else).

Funny how the same degree of circumspection didn't apply then. Hypocrite. :)


I wrote out this long response. And then I looked back at the first time flimflam used the phrase:


A values voter can tell a real deal from a fake. The Palins are the real deal.


I don't really think it takes any comment from me to see that as a statement of superiority. And, by the way, the phrase was used and then he took ownership of it. It wasn't used to describe him in that second posting as he hadn't even commented yet. Facts. Phuey.
9.5.2008 3:26am
Matt Austin:
Dave,


Actually, Bush41 was shot down in the Pacific during WWII. He would have drowned had an American sub not been there to rescue him. It was close to miraculous that he survived (2 crewmembers were killed). However, I am not sure he overcame any adversity in the process.


I think it still counts as behind enemy lines? I do stand corrected as I thought he was shot down and took refuge on the island before being rescued.
9.5.2008 3:37am
whit:
the condescension here is unreal


Given the 98% effectiveness of condoms, and the fact that Bristol is 100% knocked up, I'd suggest that even if she "heard" of condoms, she either couldn't easily access or possess them or didn't know how to properly use one.

Do you really mean to tell me the Governor would have welcomed condoms or, Jesus-forbid, birth control pills in her "Christian" home? Give me a break?



first of all, bristol wouldn't have used the condom (properly or not)... the guy would have. i have no idea whether he did or not. i also have no idea (nor do you) what sarah would have said/done if bristol said she was sexually active (assuming she was, and this wasn't a one time thing). would she have recommended birth control? i have NO idea. nor do you.

clearly, this was a mistake in the tactical sense, in that bristol didn't INTEND ot become pregnant and probably didn't want to. i have no idea what HER miorality is in regards to premarital sex, nor do you.

the stigma (and it's not just religious right. i'm pro-choice, pro-premarital sex and *i* think out of wedlock births are bad for society) is first of all - primarily towards OUT OF WEDLOCK BIRTH first and foremost. the fact that bristol is choosing to get married is admirable. no evangelical i have heard says its admirable she had premarital sex.
9.5.2008 3:38am
andrejsv:
It fascinates me the way the human mind works. When a womanizer has multiple affairs he is forgiven as 'just being himself'. When a good husband after years of fidelity strays once.. Ahhh! how could he betrays us like that???
This applies equally to members of government that for years bring in pork, lobby for earmarks and sometimes make corrupt deals. Their actions are dismissed as: well... they are politicians they know how to work the system.. thats what they do. When a younger politician starts to learn the ropes, and becomes disgusted with the system and makes an effort at reform then outrage and putdowns follow: Ahh! How dare call yourself a reformer! earlier you lobbied for earmarks like everyone else! You betrayed our trust!!
I find it ridiculous. And of the above posts in this thread I see the same thing: A family attempts to live by a set of religious codes and when they falter.. Ahh!!! the horror. Again.. it is ridiculous. It seems that we as a society have reached the point where the failing a bit is condemmed and criticized while failing totally is given a pass and welcomed with open arms. I don't understand it, Jealousy perhaps? a deep sense of inferiority?
9.5.2008 3:57am
Joe Kowalski (mail):

the fact that bristol is choosing to get married is admirable.

This is something I don't agree with. As someone who views marriage as a Sacrament, shotgun weddings rarely work out unless there was a strong intention to marry before the pregnancy came about. It's for this precise reason that most Catholic priests have very strong reservations about officiating a wedding under these kinds of circumstances.
9.5.2008 4:09am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
The Palins seem to be genuinely good and decent people


Please consider an alternate view from a certain prominent non-liberal who is voting for McCain:

what kind of role model is a woman whose fifth child was recently born with a serious issue, Down Syndrome, and then goes back to the job of Governor within days of the birth?


I realize she's not exactly saying they are aren't "good and decent." But I think she's saying that they're failing in their duty to be responsible parents. And that's also what I've been saying.
9.5.2008 4:25am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
What happened here? Is the Tragedy of Teen Pregnancy just so 1990s?


A commenter elsewhere put it well:

The Republican view of America:

African-American teenage pregnancies in urban areas = the destruction of "family values" by liberal principles.

white, Republican teens get pregnant = a glorious day for traditional values.
9.5.2008 4:25am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Bristol Palin's response to her mistake demonstrates character and values, even if her conduct in the first instance did not.


I think something terribly misguided and unfortunate is happening when we focus our attention on the behavior of the kids. That's what liberals are being accused of doing, when it seems to be the other side that's focusing on the kids. Our attention should be focused on the behavior of the parents. Especially the parent who's running for high office.
9.5.2008 4:25am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
A raft of studies show that children do much better when raised by both their biological parents than in other arrangements


Exactly. And in this particular family, the number of biological parents who are home raising the kids is this: zero. Nevertheless, these two parents though it was fine to get pregnant again, even though they already had four kids, and even though they were inevitably aware of the heightened risk due to mom's age, and even though neither of them is interested in staying home to take care of the kids. And I'm not saying it needs to be Mom. I'm saying it needs to be a parent. But no parents are available to stay home, and they're having lots of kids anyway. Why do we treat this behavior with respect? Why do we elevate and admire this? When poor black people in the city have more kids than they can handle, we properly call this irresponsible behavior. Why do Sarah and Todd Palin get a free pass?

There are other clues of irresponsible parenting. Like this: getting on an airplane while leaking amniotic fluid, while ignoring the advise of your doctor, who advised you to "put your feet up and rest." Here's another one: going back to work three days after giving birth.

Some kids get lots of parental attention, and get pregnant anyway. But in this family, it's reasonable to see Bristol's pregnancy as a symptom of a larger problem: there are lots of kids here, and the parents are spending a lot of time elsewhere.

The Palins want to collect glory for not aborting these two pregnancies. They are inviting us to evaluate their parental decisions. Therefore it's fair for us to take a close look. When we do, we see poor choices.

They would be entitled to a lot more glory if they had avoided these two pregnancies. As I've mentioned elsewhere, this is a lot like taking credit for the surge while glossing over the fact that it would have been much better to avoid the war to begin with.
9.5.2008 4:25am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
It seems that we as a society have reached the point where the failing a bit is condemmed and criticized while failing totally is given a pass and welcomed with open arms.


I don't see it that way. I see it in terms of effort as compared with results. A given set of parents can make a great effort, and still get bad results. They don't deserve blame. Trouble is, this family is getting poor results, and we also see signs of a poor effort. Therefore blame is warranted. This is called accountability.
9.5.2008 4:25am
Perseus (mail):
He may be the only Republican who's not gay who the extreme right hates on as ferociously as they do you guys.

As a member of the "extreme right," I can't say that I ferociously hate Senator McCain (or "the gays").
9.5.2008 5:03am
David Warner:
LM,

"I think McCain gave about as good a prepared speech as he's able. As uncomfortable as he is with the format, he came across as 100% genuine. I don't see how you can not like and admire the guy.

(Then again, I don't see how you can not like and admire Barack Obama. Lucky for me, there are commenters here who have taken it upon themselves to broaden my imagination.)"

Hear, hear and he made me laugh. LM should start his own blog.

Let me take my shot. A large majority of the non-hack community likes Barry. This is largely due to his ability, almost unique on the left*, to articulate their own views/arguments back to them with sympathy and accuracy. They admire his rise from difficult beginnings (difficulties similar to those that will face Palin's grandchild, as he pointed out, all class) to the pinnacle of academic achievement. And vast majorities of Americans still consider Harvard to be just that.

Where the problem lies, and not just with Obama, is in thinking that the top degree and impressive positions are all that matter, instead of what one actually does with that degree and those positions. There are a lot of people whose resumes aren't quite so impressively stuffed who have accomplished a great deal more than Barack Obama. I think there is an implicit critique of an empty credentialism in Palin's speech that resonates with a lot of people.


* - the non-left knows the left arguments like the backs of our hands, as our teachers/professors/ministers/moviestars/broadcasters/et. al. preach it to us ceaselessly
9.5.2008 6:13am
whit:
and for the 100th time.

teen pregnancies in and of themselves are NOT the problem. nobody decries the amish etc. the issue is having kids out of wedlock especially multiple kids out of wedlock. because ... these kids don't have dads

i'm not aware of any other predictor that's a better indicator of future social pathology/criminology/poverty etc. than being born out of wedlock

bristol simply does not fit into this scheme. she's MARRYING the father of her (soon to be born) child.

she certainly broke the evangelical code by schtupping before marriage. NOBODY denies this. i have NO idea if she broke HER moral code.

i seriously disagree with the religious right/evangelicals because I am pro-choice and pro-premarital sex (not ALL premarital sex, obviously), but this misrepresentation of them as the sort of people who demonize anybody who makes a mistake is ridiculous. i simply don't see it, and haven't seen it.

and it doesn't take a rightwinger or a religious person to criticize out of wedlock births. people from cosby to moynihan have done it.

if you seperate demographics by levels of success in society it's AMAZING how closely correlated it is to OOW birthrate.

but OOW is essentially a proxy for fatherless kids, especially boys. if the mom and dad live together and never get married, it's technically OOW and may PO the evangelicals, but it's essentially the same thing as if they were married. the kid has a father. boys need fathers.
9.5.2008 6:28am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
whit:

i'm not aware of any other predictor that's a better indicator of future social pathology/criminology/poverty etc. than being born out of wedlock


Good point. I bet you're right. And here's a predictor of marriages failing: getting married awfully young, and in an awful hurry. (No, I don't have the data at my fingertips. If someone has contrary data, I'd love to see it.)

I don't see the impending wedding as a reason to push aside the broader analysis about the behavior of the parents. (But I also don't know if that's what you're trying to do.)

By the way, I predict that the wedding will not happen before Election Day. I also predict that if McCain loses, the wedding won't happen at all. Or it will happen, and later on we will hear about how it quietly dissolved.

It's not that I don't offer my best wishes to Bristol and Levi. It's just that the odds are against them.
9.5.2008 6:45am
Hoosier:
/i'm not aware of any other predictor that's a better indicator of future social pathology/criminology/poverty etc. than being born out of wedlock/


Whether mom finished high school.
9.5.2008 7:50am
David Warner:
Hoosier,

Is that a world measure, or U.S.? A lot of social promotion, stateside.
9.5.2008 8:53am
FlimFlamSam:

I don't really care to debate any of these details but this is just wrong:

"With a 2% failure rate, it doesn't take too many repetitions before you get a failure."

First off, unless you're an idiot, you never reuse the condom. The failure rate is for each time it's used. It's not cumulative. Am I to assume that by your math, 50 times using a condom has a 100% guarantee of failure?


Wow, just wow. I agree that there is one idiot in this conversation, but it's pretty clear it isn't me. I was referring to multiple sexual encounters using different condoms.

A quick Google shows the failure rate of a condom at about 2% per sex act. It is not .02% as was argued by a commenter above. I'm not going to get into expectation values and things like that. What I am going to say is that anyone who has sex is very likely to experience a condom failure at some point. There is a calculable number of sex acts at which it becomes likely that one condom failure will have been experienced across the whole run.

It's true that someone could have sex a million times and never have a failure, just as it's possible to flip a coin a million times and never get tails.

Now even though the condom failure rate is about 2% per use, not ever failure of a condom results in pregnancy, for obvious reasons. It turns out that the annual "chance of getting pregnant" if you rigorously use condoms is also about 2%. I have not looked into that study in depth to see how much sex per year gets you the 2% annual pregnancy rate, but obviously the number would depend in the abstract on number of sex acts.

What I said earlier was absolutely right. So, TruthInAdvertising, it seems you are the idiot, not me.
9.5.2008 9:24am
David Warner:
Given a 2% error rate, the chance of failure in:

20 trials = 1 - .98^20 = 0.332392028
30 trials = 1 - .98^30 = 0.454515681
40 trials = 1 - .98^40 = 0.554299596

So if someone uses a condom 35 times, they have about a 50% chance of a failure.

And no fair making fun of people who don't know how to do the above. It's highly counterintuitive (at first).
9.5.2008 9:40am
Welcome to 2008 (mail):
Dale,

Move to California and get married, already. The whole gay marriage thing is so 2004.
9.5.2008 9:55am
Redphilly (mail):
First of all, Sarah in the Bible had a son named Isaac or Ike. Any meaning? We shall see. Moving on, I, as an American who might be forced to have Palin as a heartbeat away from being my president, want the people involved in Troopergate to come on Good Morning America. They have everyone else on that show. It appears that Palin is bringing more problems to a White House that has an abundance of them already. She seems to be more trouble than she is worth. We need more problems and troubles like we need a hole in the head. She just is not vice-president material. Just because she is the female version of a bully doesn't mean she would make a good vice-president. While the Obama/Biden ticket is relatively pristine, the McCain/Palin ticket is polluted and fraught with controversy that is building by the hour. Her brother-in-law was on CNN today and looked like he was scared to death. Has his life been threatened if he says the wrong things against Palin? I smell much hot treachery in cold Alaska, and Palin has her hockey mom mits all over it!
9.5.2008 10:11am
FlimFlamSam:
David Warner,

Thanks man. Though I have a math degree, it doesn't get a lot of use in a law office, and I'd have had to go relearn how to do all that!
9.5.2008 11:06am
Angus:
A quick Google shows the failure rate of a condom at about 2% per sex act.
You can continue to repeat this, but it is false. You are confusing the failure rate over an entire year of use with the failure rate for an individual episode. Here's yet another link for you. Granted, this one does put the failure rate per act of intercourse "much" higher at .04%.

Link
If each of these 100 couples had intercourse at the average coital frequency of 83 acts per year, then 100 couples would have intercourse a combined 8,300 times a year. Three pregnancies resulting from 8,300 acts of condom use is a remarkably low pregnancy rate (.04 %) when calculated on a per-condom basis.
9.5.2008 11:13am
Hoosier:
If each of these 100 couples had intercourse at the average coital frequency of 83 acts per year

It is just cruel to post a statistic like that when you know some of us have young kids. Are you sure that wasn't "every 83 days"?
9.5.2008 11:31am
Hoosier:
Redphilly

Someone looks nervous while on national tv? Clearly he's a marked man.

But you forgot to mention that Sarah Palin subsits entirely on a diet of mineral water and RAW BABIES!
9.5.2008 11:34am
JH:
I watched only a portion of his speech last night, but I turned it off when he laughed at the protesters and told his "dear friends" not to be distracted by the "background noise and static". I understand its disruptive, but they're exercising their rights. Even John Kerry was more diplomatic with the tazer guy. Did this disturb anyone else?
9.5.2008 12:08pm
Hoosier:
I understand its disruptive, but they're exercising their rights. Even John Kerry was more diplomatic with the tazer guy. Did this disturb anyone else?

It disturbs me that you think there's a "right" to free speech in such circumstances. But why would his calm reply about not being distracted "disturb" you? He called them "static," not "sweatbeetle-dickweeds."

You must be easily disturbed.
9.5.2008 12:27pm
David Warner:
Hoosier,

Perhaps the "easily" was superfluous.
9.5.2008 1:01pm
Angus:
It is just cruel to post a statistic like that when you know some of us have young kids. Are you sure that wasn't "every 83 days"?

And I'm also guessing that these couples aren't married, either! Whew!
9.5.2008 3:07pm
Angus:
I watched only a portion of his speech last night, but I turned it off when he laughed at the protesters and told his "dear friends" not to be distracted by the "background noise and static".

Private, invitation only party. Even if they had gotten in legally somehow, invitations can be revoked for any reason. Not their venue to protest in. I lean libertarian and and pretty close to absolutist pro-free speech, but I hate party crashers and rude people. I favor taser use in such instances just on general principle.
9.5.2008 3:10pm
FlimFlamSam:
Angus,

I am not confusing anything. The study I read, which I will not bother finding again due to the fact that I don't care enough to, showed that condom failure rates per sex act was about 1.6%. Thanks, though, for assuming I was too stupid to know the difference between the per-act failure rate and the annual pregnancy rate.

This certainly isn't true for every left-winger, but I have found that leftists are much more likely to be just downright nasty, uncharitable, and prone to ridiculously unfair assumptions in these sorts of little disputes. Grow up, I'm a lawyer who used to be a professional chemist. I'm not stupid.
9.5.2008 4:38pm
Toby:

If each of these 100 couples had intercourse at the average coital frequency of 83 acts per year

Or the teenager-in-love rate per week...

It is still irrelavnt. THere may be 50 couples in that high school class, each of whom uses condoms correctly, and chances are tha one of them got pregnant on prom night.
9.6.2008 3:21pm
LM (mail):
David Warner:

LM should start his own blog.

Just what the world needs -- another blog.

But thank you.

* - the non-left knows the left arguments like the backs of our hands, as our teachers/professors/ministers/moviestars/broadcasters/et. al. preach it to us ceaselessly

They must not be doing a very good job of it, because I don't hear anyone on the non-left mirroring it back as cogently and respectfully as Obama does the other.
9.6.2008 4:59pm