pageok
pageok
pageok
The Perils of Palin Blogging:
I appreciate my co-blogger David P's post explaining why he won't be blogging about Sarah Palin. David suggests that the problem with Palin-blogging is that it's an unusual distraction. I disagree. Remember the topics in the blogospheric limelight back before the 2004 election? In September 2004, the blogosphere was in an absolute frenzy about the forged memos of W's military service that had misled Dan Rather in a 60 Minutes segment. Compared to that, blogging about Palin is tremendously substantive and important.

  Instead, I think the problem with a lot of Palin blogging is an aggravated version of the problem with blogging about political candidates more generally: There are many acceptable criteria for evaluating candidates and no real agreement as to which criteria are more important than the others. As a result, it's easy for commentary to focus on what many will perceive as minor points while ignoring what many perceive as bigger ones, and it's easy for commentary to speak to a very small slice of the ideological pie while ignoring or even alienating the rest. The result is that a lot of blogging about candidates ends up just running in circles.

  Let me explain what I mean. For any political candidate, there are dozens of possible criteria that you could use to assess a particular candidate. The criteria might include, to just pick 20 or so obvious ones: 1) the candidate's position on a particular issue, 2) the candidate's experience on a particular issue, 3) the candidate's perceived honesty, 4) the consistency of the candidate's views, 5) the candidate's articulateness, 6) the candidate's past connections to extreme groups, 7) the candidate's understanding of the lives of average Americans, 8) the candidate's leadership qualities, 8) the candidate's sense of fair play, 9) the ability and background of the candidate's current advisers, 10) the candidate's friends and associates, 11) the candidate's personal history, 12) the candidate's intelligence, 13) the candidate's charisma, 14) the candidate's judgment, 15) the candidate's generosity, 16) the candidate's ability to delegate, 17) the candidate's management skills, 18) the candidate's family life, 19) the candidate's willingness to work hard, and 20) the candidate's health.

  There are many other criteria, of course — these are just a few. But you get the idea.

  The key difficulty with blogging about political candidates -- and Sarah Palin in particular -- is that any one of these criteria can be an acceptable basis for commentary. A really predictable dynamic follows: One commentator picks one aspect of one criteria and focuses on it, while others will marvel at the commentator's focus on such a narrow issue while ignoring everything else. And that criticism will often be pretty fair. That is, often the commentator really will be more focused on some things and less focused on others based on their own biases and interests in a way that doesn't accurately reflect the merits of the candidate for a lot of people.

  You can see this in a lot of threads on Palin, both here and elsewhere. A blogger might make argument #2 about candidate A, and a commenter will respond my making (say) argument #6 and #7 about candidate B. Another commenter will respond to the first commenter with argument #12 about candidate A, which will then lead yet another commenter to pivot to argument #8 about candidate A with a left hook of argument #1 on candidate B. You end up running in circles, which everyone changing the topic to whatever ground they think puts their side in the most favorable light. The only conclusion anyone reaches is that everyone else is a political hack.

  Is there a way out of this dynamic? Maybe, maybe not. But I tend to think that it would improve the level of commentary for bloggers and commenters to explicitly acknowledge how limited their claims really are. Given how many criteria exist, narrow commentary about just one criteria is necessarily only a very small piece of the puzzle about the merits of voting for a particular candidate. I think it would help us if we all acknowledged that, and didn't pretend that any one point was determinative. Perhaps it won't make any difference. But possibly, just possibly, it will be a fairer way of discussing the candidates and won't send us running in circles quite as much.
Jeff Boghosian (mail):
Orin,

I'm a regular reader and enjoy your posts. If you wouldn't mind sharing, what are your major criteria and issues in this election? I understand however if you don't want to throw yourself into the fire. :)
9.7.2008 10:30pm
John (mail):
All well and good, but I've been watching national elections for 50 years or so and I will say this: no one--NO ONE--makes a decision on a candidate by reasoned criteria. These decisions are emotional, and then ratiionalized. It's a lot like a jury (or in most cases judges too) (I think my fellow trial lawyers will agree): they come to their "reasons" for their decisions well after they have actually decided.

So let's not kid ourselves. You can use "criteria" as ammunition to toss at opponents or allies; but your decision to use them came from deep within yourself, and not by reasoning them out.
9.7.2008 10:39pm
Paul Allen:
Bloggers are their best when they use their posts to nail the poor reasoning of others. e.g., the Palin-contraceptive controversy: promoting abstinence != ignoring contraception. Awareness of this simple point would do much to lessen the rancor on both sides.

Intelligent logical commentators like yourselves are the breath of fresh-air needed on these debates. If you have the energy, I'd even encourage follow-up posts dissecting comments to prior posts.

Arguing logic doesn't involve normative choices about what's important. It just involves identifying the weakness in someone's reasoning. The someone picked the normative topic.
9.7.2008 10:39pm
Joel Thompson (mail):
"A really predictable dynamic follows: One commentator picks one aspect of one criteria and focuses on it, while others will marvel at the commentator's focus on such a narrow issue while ignoring everything else. And that criticism will often be pretty fair."

I disagree. Thoroughly investigating every single possible basis for evaluating a candidate is too big of a job for any one person. Having a commentator focus on just one issue will help inform others when trying to get a more macroscopic view of the candidates.

Sadly, though, what usually ends up happening is that supporters of candidate A will claim that the only important criteria are those that favor candidate A (as you've stated).

However, I do think that David Post does have a point, in that we can probably agree some criteria are more important than some other criteria. And David is merely adding his commentary as to which issues he thinks should be given weight. This meta-commentary, IMHO, is just as valuable as the exploration of the criteria themselves.
9.7.2008 10:43pm
OrinKerr:
John,

If you re-read my post, you'll see that I actually make your point. I'm not sure why you think I disagree with the gist of it.

Jeff,

My own views are boring, as I'm close to a single issue voter and I long-ago endorsed McCain. So I can't imagine anyone wants to hear about what I think.
9.7.2008 10:44pm
Somedude127 (mail):
Here, here! Wonderful post Professor.
9.7.2008 10:48pm
Obvious (mail):
Orin's point is excellent, but doesn't deal with another aspect of the dynamic, namely that factually false "information" is easily spread. Whether, for example, you believe in creation science or evolution, it either is or is not a fact that Palin called for creation science to be taught in the classroom alongside evolution. If that's not true but is being billed as true, you don't even get to the point of trying to evaluate the candidate via the many criteria Orin lists. Before you can assess the candidate by any criterion, you need to know the truth about her and her stands, and many blog posts are conflicts over what is true.
9.7.2008 10:49pm
Helen:
I think that a candidate's overall level of knowledge of our government and history, of economics, world geography, the scientific method -- to name just a few critical areas -- is very important. It's disturbing to me that Governor Palin has apparently gone to ground and will not be available for interviews for a while. I have no trouble understanding that she needs to be briefed on the campaign's positions and election strategy. But the longer she's unavailable, the greater the suspicion will be that's she's being briefed on things that are much more basic.
9.7.2008 10:56pm
OrinKerr:
Helen,

That is an excellent example of what I'm describing, and I trust other commenters here will pick up the ball and run with it (granted, in circles).
9.7.2008 10:59pm
Norman Bates (mail):
The problem with your theory is that it's contradicted by the evidence. For example, one of your criteria, executive experience, has been the basis for constant vituperation: Palin has it; Obama doesn't. Obama does; Palin Doesn't. Obama's experiences ill suit him for the presidency, while Palin's would make her an especially effective president..... etc., etc., etc.

The problem is not that commenters are focusing on different criteria, but rather that this is an election where ideology is playing a major role. Obama really is from the extreme left wing of American politics and Palin really is a true American conservative.

Apropos this, notice how much of the vituperation is based on comparing Obama with Palin. When you think about it this is bizarre: Why would anyone compare one ticket's presidential candidate with the other ticket's vice presidential candidate? Ideology is the answer. Biden and McCain both, whatever their other faults may be, are far more centrist. They raise far less ideologically-based anger and angst.

Another interesting point is that in this contest Obama is doing everything in his power to hide the extent of his leftist ideology , the like of which has not been seen in US politics since the days when Wallace opposed Truman. Palin, on the other hand, seems to have been chosen purposefully to suggest that the McCain ticket is far more to the right than it actually is.
9.7.2008 10:59pm
zippypinhead:
Fair points, Professor Kerr. You make a good case why political blogging is perhaps more difficult and requires more care than blogging on other topics, although if I were playing devil's advocate, I might argue a counter-lesson is that some posters at VC should perhaps rethink continuing to do something that they're apparently not doing all that well.

As you may recall from another of your threads, I'm not exactly a fan of what appears to be VC's new mission to play a major role in the blogsphere's coverage of the campaign. Speaking personally, I see some downsides to the current disproportionate emphasis on the campaign on this blog. In the recent political postings, there is a lot less of the sort of original contributions to issue debates that has made VC such an influential and interesting node -- frankly, quite a few of the recent political posts seem to merely be publicizing points that are already covered elsewhere in the blogsphere and the press, rather than exploring new issues. And perhaps not coincidentally, the quality of the thread comments seems to have dropped greatly. Trolling is way up, and there are numerous serial comments from the same few persons making the same repetitive partisan arguments over and over again on numerous threads. And many of the political debates on this blog lately seem to have little or no grounding in VC's traditional areas of expertise, legal affairs and libertarian analysis (yes there have been exceptions, but they've been just that - exceptions).

It was a big disappointment to read a couple of thread comment responses by Jim Lindgren in particular that approvingly note how much VC's hit count has increased since the start of the conventions. As some have pointed out, the sheer volume of hits, particularly hits just coming from search engine queries, really shouldn't be a relevant marker for a blog's quality or influence. Since I assume Professor Volokh pays for bandwidth, artificially elevated hits could actually prove counterproductive in the long run (although obviously they help to the extent those hits lead to ad click-throughs). Some wags even suggested that if you're just looking for hit quantity rather than quality, start posting porn. OK, that's clearly hyperbole but it makes the argument quite starkly that after some point, mere hit counts really shouldn't be all that relevant to a noncommercial legal issues blog.

Just one pinhead's humble opinion. You may fire when ready, Gridley...
9.7.2008 11:01pm
Smokey:
Helen:
I think that a candidate's overall level of knowledge of our government and history, of economics, world geography, the scientific method -- to name just a few critical areas -- is very important.
So how many states are in the U.S.? Maybe Barry has an answer...
9.7.2008 11:03pm
Sally:
Governor Palin will be giving an interview to Charlie Gibson later this week. I imagine the campaign is plotting her national media roll-out fairly carefully.

As to blogging about Palin, perhaps you should consider that it's only another 8 weeks until the election. You will enjoy a spike in your readership and comment participation until then and after the election this blog can return to its regular niche.
9.7.2008 11:03pm
lkcjpd:
Orin, care to comment onthis?

Most American voters (60%) agrees and says the Supreme Court should make decisions based on what is written in the constitution, while 30% say rulings should be guided on the judge’s sense of fairness and justice. The number who agree with McCain is up from 55% in August.

While 82% of voters who support McCain believe the justices should rule on what is in the Constitution, just 29% of Barack Obama’s supporters agree.
It's now fashionable for sophisticated liberals to take the view that judicial "activism" is not a real phenomenon -- that liberal judges are "following" the Constitution as well, just interpreting it differently (comment threads on the Conspiracy often reflect such a view). Yet the polled attitudes of the rank and file seem to belie that notion.
9.7.2008 11:03pm
Angus:
Dangit, Orin! Why'd you have to go as usual and make some sense out of it all. Spoilsport! (Not that your post spoiled Helen or Norman's fun...if you want to call it that.)
9.7.2008 11:04pm
OrinKerr:
Zippypinhead,

I agree that our traffic numbers shouldn't be a guide to our blogging: The least thoughtful posts often draw the highest traffic. Our reputations should be far more important to us than our very meager advertising income: I think we should be maximizing insights, not traffic.
9.7.2008 11:08pm
OrinKerr:
lkcjpd,.

I think I have probably blogged about 1,000 hours on that topic in the last few years. What would you like me to say that I haven't said already?
9.7.2008 11:09pm
Angus:
Most American voters (60%) agrees and says the Supreme Court should make decisions based on what is written in the constitution, while 30% say rulings should be guided on the judge’s sense of fairness and justice.
Given that the Constitution isn't always clear, I'm not sure those are as mutually exclusive as the survey question makes them. But it sure would be a better topic for discussion than Ayers, Rezko, troopergate, POW life, etc.

In any case, I'd welcome it if VC bloggers shifted over to how the race might impact the jucidiary, DOJ, drug war, and such. I don't want this to become solely a technical blog aimed at lawyers (especially since I am not one!), but I think the legal slant on current issues is what makes VC unique and what has kept me reading and posting here for years.
9.7.2008 11:10pm
Sally:
"The least thoughtful posts often draw the highest traffic."

That must tell you something. Perhaps your view of what is thoughtful isn't infallible?

"I think we should be maximizing insights, not traffic."

Wouldn't greater participation add to the possibility of maximizing insights? Otherwise, it seems you risk an echo chamber, preaching to the choir, etc.

But it is your blog. There are certainly enough other outlets for Palin blogging, etc.
9.7.2008 11:12pm
Angus:

Wouldn't greater participation add to the possibility of maximizing insights? Otherwise, it seems you risk an echo chamber, preaching to the choir, etc.

I think through experience the answer to that is "no." There have been a whole lot of new posters in recent days, and a lot of them have been anything but insightful.

Dailykos, Atrios, Democratic Underground, Hot Air, Free Republic, and Redstate all have a lot of participation. All are echo chambers and preach to the choir.
9.7.2008 11:17pm
lkcjpd:
I donno. I was hoping a new data point on baseline attitudes would prompt new comments.
9.7.2008 11:18pm
CJM (mail):
Orin,

I've seen your commentary on blogging in general (as far back as the 2004 election) and you used the same Rather controversy to show that (1) journalists aren't necessarily experts in their chosen topic, and (2) journalists often don't know who the experts are in that field.

Would it not be prudent then, in the great tradition that's developed around blogging, to "let a hundred flowers bloom"?
9.7.2008 11:18pm
OrinKerr:
Sally,

I never claimed a particular ability to measure thoughtfulness. But I've been blogging for more than 5 years, and as far as I know I have never heard anyone claim that volume measures thoughtfulness. That must tell you something.
9.7.2008 11:19pm
OrinKerr:
CJM,

Our archives are open: Could you link to the posts of mine that you have in mind? It's hard for me to respond without knowing which posts you are thinking about.
9.7.2008 11:21pm
CJM (mail):
They aren't in the archives since I found them elsewhere, but I'll quote them here:

"First, reporters for major newspapers have to present things in a very simple and quick format, and in the course of doing that they often make major mistakes.

"Second, and perhaps more importantly, reporters often don't know enough about a topic to know who the real experts are in a particular area... Many who purport to be experts actually don't know very much about the topic but feel unwilling to turn down an opportunity to be quoted in the New York Times."
9.7.2008 11:26pm
Angus:

Would it not be prudent then, in the great tradition that's developed around blogging, to "let a hundred flowers bloom"?
The problem I see with blogging is the signal to noise problem. 100 blogs bloom, for example, but 99 of them are pure trash. Everyone then celebrates the 1 good blog as if it makes up for the 99 utter failures. For all of its very real flaws, the signal to noise ratio of the MSM is better.
9.7.2008 11:26pm
CJM (mail):
And I apologize: to contextualize that, you were asked what you thought some of the benefits of blogging over the MSM were.
9.7.2008 11:27pm
Sally:
"I have never heard anyone claim that volume measures thoughtfulness."

Well, that wasn't quite my point. I was trying to say that when one of you here writes something and it attracts a lot of interest, presumably it's because it's provoking thought in those who read it, or some reaction anyway (maybe more emotional than thoughtful).

Now yes, a lot of the reaction might just be flamers, people with nothing meaningful to say. But for the most part the commenters here seem to have something worthwhile to say and it's not just inane trolling.

As to some of the other sites, I don't frequent any of the far left sites and seldom read Free Republic for the very reason that they are echo chambers and don't encourage competing points of view.
9.7.2008 11:31pm
CJM (mail):
Do you not think though, Angus, that some blogs have become guides to other good ones, and that they kind of act as sherpas through the rest of the trash out there?

I understand, to continue your signal metaphor, that the echo chamber is amplified, but I've found recently that I'm able to cover reading a lot more blogs with tools such as Google Reader, and that I can diversify my sources... that is, when I do use my time judiciously and don't waste an entire Sunday refreshing a single post on this site to defend my points.
9.7.2008 11:31pm
OrinKerr:
CJM,

My post is not about the benefits of blogging generally. It is about the specific perils of blogging about political candidates. Given that, I'm not sure what is to be gained by recycling the many discussions we have had about the benefits of blogging in the general case.

As for "letting a hundred flowers bloom," I don't think that approach works if you are trying to maintain high standards. A gardener wants to let the best flowers bloom, not just anything that counts as a flower.
9.7.2008 11:34pm
OrinKerr:
Sally,

Our traffic boost in the last week is mostly the result of links from Instapundit. So it's really just whatever Glenn Reynolds likes.
9.7.2008 11:37pm
Steve2:
CJM, given the outcome of the Hundred Flowers Campaign, I'd kind of prefer that Professers Kerr, Volokhs, and Etc. not encourage a hundred flowers to bloom.

Anyway, Professor Kerr, I think you've hit on something without quite stating it explicitly. As you said, you're "close to a single issue voter". And there, there may be 20 criteria to judge a candidate by, but on many you just don't care. So, while the commentators may be picking whatever they think puts their side in the best light... I imagine if they haven't picked the issue the voter cares about, the potential voter isn't listening. So not only is there argument in circles, there's only an audience in snippets.

At least, that's my take on it as a minimal-issues voter as well.
9.7.2008 11:41pm
fullerene:
Although it may appear that the arguments only go in circles, I don't think this is the case at all. What we do see is a debate that has evolved from being large and open-ended with many different arguments to one focusses only on the strongest arguments. To take the case of Sarah Palin's experience, the initial battle lines were all over the map. Now, I think we really only see one: the comparison with Obama. I take this to me that this really is the strongest argument. This knowledge gives me a good idea of how the actual campaign will play out and perhaps some insight into why she was chosen in the first place. Although we may never be able to settle the ultimate issue here, no one could have expected that.
9.7.2008 11:41pm
zippypinhead:
I was trying to say that when one of you here writes something and it attracts a lot of interest, presumably it's because it's provoking thought in those who read it, or some reaction anyway (maybe more emotional than thoughtful).
The fact something attracts a lot of interest probably doesn't correlate all that well to its originality, quality, expertise, or whatever criteria one points to for "high quality" in a legal affairs blog.

More likely: it's controversial, off-the-wall, or titillating (a big issue with Palin; I noted with amusement how it even [sort of] infested Dave Hardy's high-quality blog. Or formatted to return a lot of Google hits -- want a lot of hits? Just entitle your post "Palin bikini."

There's a reason the National Enquirer sells more copies than the Wall Street Journal.

The question for VC posters is whether they're looking for a mass market, or to influence the influencers with thoughtful analysis in areas of their expertise.
9.8.2008 12:12am
John (mail):
Orin,

It may be a little far down in the comments for you to read, but I'm sorry to have missed your point. I reread your post and see what you mean.
9.8.2008 12:15am
Hoosier:
At this point--or at any point in the future--I would be very much wikking to settle for a few ground rules. Some examples:

No discussion of any purported scandal if it has been labelled a "-gate."

No more than three consecutive posts by the same person on any thread. Ever.

No deliberate misspelling of the name of any cadidate.

More discussion of the sex life of fruit.
9.8.2008 12:18am
Hoosier:
"willing"

Which rasies another rule: Proofread before posting if you are anywhere near Indianapolis.
9.8.2008 12:20am
lucia (mail) (www):
Helen-
I'm not sure Palin has run to the ground. If she doesn't surface by next Wednesday, then I too will say she's run to the ground. Given the need for some briefing of McCains specific positions and some strategizing on which venues are best for the ticket, I think missing the first weekend cycle is fine. If she's a no show next week, she's toast burned black on both sides. (And not just because I think that's too long to be absent. If the VP candidate doesn't campaign for any reason, that ticket won't win. Period.)

Orin--
Oddly, I'm liking the bizarro arguments. There a lot of hoo-haa flying right now. (There always is a lot during elections.)

I'm the opposite of you. I'm not a single issue voter-- I try to take lots of stuff into account. That includes some aspects of people's personal lives. But that doesn't mean I let other people decide what I think a person's personal life tells me. Choices people make can have many meanings-- in context. Right now, I'm just trying to get information, and oddly some of the most disorganized comments threads help me find it. ( That is, they help me find it provided I dash to Google news and read several articles fleshing out the story.)
9.8.2008 12:25am
Mike& (mail):
What amazes me about politics is that it's truly an LCD topic. Everyone feels qualified to commentate. Why?

Why do people who know nothing (or almost nothing) about Palin feel comfortable blogging about her at all?

I haven't seen any evidence that the VC bloggers are paying the same attention to research on Palin that they would a case.

Are you guys running Lexis-Nexis searches on her? Reading profiles? Doing anything beyond a basic Google search or repeating Andrew Sullivan's rumors?

To properly research Palin would take dozens of hours. But at least if y'all did so, the Palin posts might rise above the lowest comment denominator.

So far, I've seen mostly arm chair guesses and rumor mongering. What is the value in such "commentary."
9.8.2008 12:32am
Math_Mage (mail) (www):
fullerene:
To take the case of Sarah Palin's experience, the initial battle lines were all over the map. Now, I think we really only see one: the comparison with Obama. I take this to me that this really is the strongest argument. This knowledge gives me a good idea of how the actual campaign will play out and perhaps some insight into why she was chosen in the first place.


Actually, in that case it seems to me that the Obama supporters simply couldn't find a good line to attack Palin on, because it was all too easy for Republicans to compare to Obama, and the fact was that any comparison was a bad thing for Obama because it highlighted that Obama was at the top of the ticket and Palin on the bottom. So rather than finding strong arguments on both sides, it was more like the Democrats simply couldn't get the line of argument they wanted while the Republicans smashed away on their chosen line.

(I find this to be true of a lot of the personal arguments about Palin: she's young, inexperienced, has some controversy over past connections and religious positions, family values issues...and everything seems to come back to bite Obama in the butt by bringing up some scandal that would otherwise be dismissed as old news. IMHO, that's the reason why Troopergate is getting so much traction/attention; it's the only major Palin fault that doesn't have a mirror fault in Obama.)
9.8.2008 12:46am
TCO:
I think there's something more primal to it than that.
9.8.2008 1:00am
Angus:
Xinyaow wins the thread!
9.8.2008 1:05am
SMatthewStolte (mail):
This sort of thing (ie the OP) is one of the reasons I love the Volokh conspiracy: charitable readings &dispassionate reasoning.
9.8.2008 1:05am
Hoosier:
Angus--I don't know. That part about "I kill you, Joe!" may be a bit over the top.
9.8.2008 1:18am
byomtov (mail):
Orin,

Do you mind telling us what the single issue that mostly determines your vote is?
9.8.2008 1:26am
metro1 (mail) (www):
The legend of Sarah Palin continues to grow:

Sarah Palin single-handedly removed Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews from the anchor desk at MSNBC.

Thank you, Sarah!
9.8.2008 1:31am
Vermando (mail) (www):
Professor, that was a very simple but insightful post. I thank you for that.
9.8.2008 1:32am
metro1 (mail) (www):
"NBC Universal executives are also known to be concerned about the perception that MSNBC’s partisan tilt in prime time is bleeding into the rest of the programming day. On a recent Friday afternoon, a graphic labeled 'Breaking News' asked: 'How many houses does Palin add to the Republican ticket?' Mr. Griffin called the graphic 'an embarrassment.'"

Olbermann's and Matthew's liberal agenda at MSNBC finally gets them demoted - after biased coverage of Governor Sarah Palin is plain to all.
9.8.2008 1:36am
Dan M.:
Mother Jones has a story about "secret e-mails" that some Alaskan activists are trying to get released. They got a few thousand, I think, but there are like 80 that they didn't get because they are supposedly about policy or personnel decisions. Almost all e-mails are cc: Todd Palin.

Might make an interesting blog post about executive privilege or some such.
9.8.2008 1:37am
Frank Smith (mail):
1) the candidate's position on a particular issue, She doesn’t believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming.
2) the candidate's experience on a particular issue, None, but sued the government for listing the polar bear as endangered.
3) the candidate's perceived honesty, Lies constantly to pad her credentials and/or image, i.e., “Bridge to Nowhere,” “state jet,” “earmarks,” “fiscal responsibility,” gas line as helping U.S. energy problems, Public Safety Commissioner firing.
4) the consistency of the candidate's views, “fiscal responsibility: she just pushed a $1,200 ‘energy rebate’ for every man, woman and child in Alaska, at a cost of about $750,000,000.” In addition to that, they all get $2,069 from oil funds.
5) the candidate's articulateness, Often lost when questioned, inventing neologisms, making stupid statements even in writing: i.e., supports the Pledge of Allegiance as did the “founding fathers” Eagle Forum questionnaire, 2006
6) the candidate's past connections to extreme groups, Closely connected to the secessionist Alaska Independence Party. Husband belonged, she welcomed their convention (see YouTube).
7) the candidate's understanding of the lives of average Americans, Unknown
8) the candidate's leadership qualities, Appointed a gaggle of hacks, neighbors, fellow church members and incompetents to run the state government. These include her HS buddy as Director of Corrections whom correctional officer gave a vote of “no confidence” four months ago, 514-19 but she continues to back him.
9) the candidate's sense of fair play, Called shock jocks who referred to the Republican senate president as a “bitch” and she laughed when they did it.
10) the ability and background of the candidate's current advisers, See #8. Her AG for instance was virtually a complete unknown even in his hometown.
11) the candidate's friends and associates, At a restaurant when Obama clinched the nomination she said loudly, “Well the spook beat the bitch.”
12) the candidate's personal history, Used her official position to wage a vendetta against her ex-brother in law and lied about it.
13) the candidate's intelligence, Wanting.
14) the candidate's charisma, Excessive, but not warranted.
15) the candidate's judgment, See # 8, above. At 44, with four children and having a one in 40 chance of having a Down syndrome child, she got pregnant. Her water broke while she was giving a speech in Texas. She waited, took a nine-hour flight back home, drove past a number of top flight hospitals to a clinic 50 miles from the airport. Took 10% of her 2002 contributions from notorious corrupter Bill Allen and his VECO campaign finance laundry.
16) the candidate's generosity, Unknown.
17) the candidate's ability to delegate, Delegates, but to whom? Incompetents.
18) the candidate's management skills, Terrible. Got her 5,000 population town which was virtually debt free into a $20 million hole, despite $27 million in earmarks that she had hired a lobbyist to secure. The city had to hire an administrator to cobble its bureaucracy back together and get things running smoothly again. State departments are in chaos.
19) the candidate's family life, Peyton Place. Affairs, pregnant daughter, arsonist son.
20) the candidate's willingness to work hard, Wanting. Doesn’t even live in the capitol, but moved her office to her home. Her staff is the same, almost absent when the legislature was holding hearings on and debating core questions.
21) the candidate's health. Hey, that’s okay! Way better than Mr. Standing on a Banana Peel, John McCain’s.
9.8.2008 1:47am
MQuinn:
Norman Bates:

Obama really is from the extreme left wing of American politics

I know that the GOP and conservatives would like us all to think this is true, but that does not make it so. He holds some liberal positions and some moderate positions. It is an effective tactic, however, to label every democrat as an extreme, radical, hard-left communist.
9.8.2008 1:53am
Dave N (mail):
I see Frank Smith is getting his talking points from our friend JBG and those non-partisans at Kos. However, stringing together some incoherent statements is not an argument, though. I wil give JBG some credit though. His, at least, is a name I recognize here, unlike, ahem, "Frank Smith."
9.8.2008 1:54am
theobromophile (www):
The only conclusion anyone reaches is that everyone else is a political hack.

Sort of like how anyone going faster than you on the highway is a maniac, and anyone going slower is an idiot.

Some of the issue is that people cannot possibly analyse a candidate by every criteria and perform a Sandra Day O'Connor-esque 20-factor balancing test.

Often, the issue is simply that one is voting against another candidate, or simply thinks that his preferred candidate is fallible (i.e. never a candidate for the papacy), but the best of all options, or the best option he has. Preferably, people will admit those biases, such as by stating which issues are important to them in an election (judges, health care, immigration, and energy for me - with McC/P on 2-4 of those, oppose Ob/Bi on all).
9.8.2008 1:59am
DiversityHire:
I hate it when people use "i.e." and "e.g." interchangeably.
9.8.2008 2:00am
DiversityHire:
Not you theobromophile.
9.8.2008 2:01am
Dave N (mail):
DiversityHire,

Unfortunately, many people do not know the difference and think the two are interchangeable. As you know, they are not.

As Professor Paul Brians notes on Washington State University's website:
When you mean “for example,” use e.g. It is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase exempli gratia. When you mean “that is,” use “i.e.” It is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase id est. Either can be used to clarify a preceding statement, the first by example, the second by restating the idea more clearly or expanding upon it. Because these uses are so similar, the two abbreviations are easily confused. If you just stick with good old English “for example” and “that is” you won’t give anyone a chance to sneer at you. If you insist on using the abbreviation, perhaps “example given” will remind you to use “e.g.,” while “in effect” suggests “I.E.”

9.8.2008 2:38am
Dave N (mail):
Oh, and thebromophile used "i.e." correctly in his post, perhaps the reason DiversityHire made it clear that he was not criticizing thebromophile.
9.8.2008 2:41am
Mike& (mail):
Might make an interesting blog post about executive privilege or some such.

Right. Agreed. That would add something to the discussion.

But speculation about whether Palin knows the name of some guy who made a bunch of uncomfortable chairs.... Does that really add to the discussion?
9.8.2008 2:42am
Dave N (mail):
I, on the other hand, managed to misspell theobromophiles name de blog not once once, but twice in a single sentence.
9.8.2008 2:43am
Hoosier:
"It is an effective tactic, however, to label every democrat as an extreme, radical, hard-left communist."

OK. Thanks!

Any other tips?
9.8.2008 5:05am
Hoosier:
"9) the candidate's sense of fair play, Called shock jocks who referred to the Republican senate president as a “bitch” and she laughed when they did it. "

OH MY GOD! Did she REALLY?!!!

OH MY GOD!!!!

This is even worse than the well-established fact that she EATS RAW BABIES!
9.8.2008 5:07am
Palin-Jindal 2012?:
Theo is a girly girl I think.
9.8.2008 5:17am
Math_Mage (mail) (www):
MQuinn:
I know that the GOP and conservatives would like us all to think this is true, but that does not make it so. He holds some liberal positions and some moderate positions. It is an effective tactic, however, to label every democrat as an extreme, radical, hard-left communist.


It's not so much that he's a communist as that he doesn't bother to fight the party line. When he doesn't vote "present", he's 97% in line with his party - not exactly a breath of fresh air or a force for change.
9.8.2008 5:23am
LM (mail):
Orin,

Your analysis is sensible as usual, but I think you politely tip-toed around the elephant in the room -- us. You explained what creates the misunderstandings, but our responses decide the severity of the conflict. Considering how intense the dissonance has been around here, I think we should expect better from ourselves. Like maybe if we were a little less dogmatic and personal we'd realize without even being told, that we're talking past each other. That in turn might quell a little more of our compulsion to throw fuel on the fire.

The acrimony in these election threads seems different only in degree, not kind, from what's generated by other VC fare, so maybe this can be a learning opportunity? I'd like to think seeing our discourse this dysfunctional might shock us into some badly needed humility and civility.

I hesitate to bring this stuff up, because it may seem like I'm pointing fingers. Not to mention it's so damn preachy. FWIW, I'm talking to myself as much as to anyone. That said, I'd be disingenuous if I pretended some of us don't offend more egregiously than others. But unless we want the VC bloggers to take a more authoritarian posture, I don't see this problem solving itself without some kind of cooperative, non-partisan peer pressure. Or not. Maybe others have better ideas. Santaria? Waterboarding? Group hugs? My mind is open. The alternative seems to be accepting that Jim Lindgren is a paid shill for both sides.
9.8.2008 5:24am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
OH MY GOD! Did she REALLY?!!!


Yes. It's a pretty vivid demonstration of tastelessness. The tape is here.
9.8.2008 5:35am
LM (mail):
BTW, "The Perils of Palin Blogging"... cute.
9.8.2008 5:36am
LM (mail):
Hoosier:

Which rasies another rule: Proofread before posting if you are anywhere near Indianapolis.

How near? The whole west coast?
9.8.2008 5:39am
martinned (mail) (www):
@Prof. Kerr: I'm going to have to disagree. From what I've seen in recent threads, the problem looks to be one of, to quote the US correspondent for the Dutch NRC newspaper, that for a long time now there have been Republican truths and Democratic truths, and no one to objectively sort them out. Over here in NL, I'd be able to sort the newspapers in some kind of ideological order, if pressed, but that preference is reflected in their choice of stories, and in their editorials. They rarely end up disagreeing about facts, such as "Did Politician X really do A, B, and C, as claimed?"
9.8.2008 7:28am
Dan M.:
Yes, jukebox, I'm just terribly offended that she would laugh while some shock jock calls that bitch Lyda Green, who tried to keep Sarah Palin from seeing her son's graduation, and who later instigated rumors that Palin faked her pregnancy, a bitch and a cancer.
9.8.2008 9:26am
Bad English:
"It's disturbing to me that Governor Palin has apparently gone to ground and will not be available for interviews for a while."

So what's your problem with Charlie Gibson?
9.8.2008 10:06am
Hoosier:
Hoosier:


Which rasies another rule: Proofread before posting if you are anywhere near Indianapolis.


How near? The whole west coast?


Yep. And all the parts in between. But your talk of the Coast raises an interesting fact of life in Indianer. Namely, Indy is the largest American city that is not located on a navigable body of water.

So it's a real distinction, as you no doubt recognize.
9.8.2008 11:25am
Hoosier:
Dan M: OK. But was it a "laugh"? Or more of a "chortle"? Not a "snicker," right? But certainly not a "guffaw." I mean, accuracy is what I'm after here. I only care about the truth. And I don't thik it is honest of Palin's detractors to say she "laughed," when there is plenty of evidence that it was more of a chuckle, or maybe even a cachinnation. Which, though Palin's lying detractors in the Obama camp won't tell you, is the accepted Alaskan way of responding to any attempt at humor that conatins a word rhyming with "stitch." It is actually an old and venerable Inuit tradition, and diplays Palin's sophisticated undertsanding of cultural and linguisitc anthropolgy.
9.8.2008 11:35am
Mark Field (mail):

I, on the other hand, managed to misspell theobromophiles name de blog not once once, but twice in a single sentence.


It's nom de blog, not name de blog, you blithering idiot. And theobromophile is a she, not a he as you called her. My God, what the conservatives won't stoop to!
9.8.2008 12:07pm
metro1 (mail) (www):
"Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down" is now #11 on the bestseller list at Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/ref=sv_b_3

The Newsweek article on Governor Palin trots out many paragraphs of liberal-think:

http://www.newsweek.com/id/157696

But this part is interesting:

* * *

Over the weekend before the convention, campaign aides made the uncomfortable decision to urge her to go public with her unmarried 17-year-old daughter's pregnancy in order to rebut salacious Internet rumors that the teen was actually the mother of Palin's own newborn child. An aide, speaking anonymously because the matter is sensitive, says that Palin and her husband grew angry about the allegations. "Do I have to show them my stretch marks?" she asked one campaign official...

Despite the worries, she struck many campaign officials as more calm and cerebral than expected. She was quick to ask questions, and to "engage in a back and forth" with briefers. One aide describes her as "quick on her feet"—like "a lawyer who didn't go to law school."

* * *
9.8.2008 1:21pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I'd say the issue Orin raises once again points out what a messy process democracy really is. In many ways it's a self organizing system that we don't understand.
9.8.2008 1:26pm
Annonymous Coward:
One reason that Palin raises such angst is that she is a relatively unknown politician with the power to move large blocks of voters. The Democratic Party has launched their own 'two minutes of hate' out of fear. Palin was attacked using caricatures of a right wing woman. Still trying to figure out if any of the attacks had any basis in fact.

1) Censorship- Nope false.
2) No contraceptives- Nope false.
3) Faked birth (?)- Nope false.
4) Affair with husbands business partner- Nope.
5)Small town Mayor- Well, this one is true but leaves out a Governorship.
6) Used power as Governor to try to get ex-brother in-law fired as state trooper- Kind of true but only after he tased Palin's nephew and threatened to kill her father.

Upon further reflection, here are some truths:
1) She's a woman
2) She's against abortion
3) Her husband got caught driving drunk (before they were married)
4) Daughter is pregnant
5) Had a kid with Down's Syndrome, even though she knew Trig might have Down's

The Democrats recognized that she had to be destroyed and spread false rumours about her that were lapped up by the media.
9.8.2008 2:08pm
SG:
One aide describes her as "quick on her feet"—like "a lawyer who didn't go to law school."

Palin backers had better hope this rumor doesn't have legs. Calling her "like a lawyer" is a good way to turn people off.
9.8.2008 2:34pm
theobromophile (www):
and thebromophile used "i.e." correctly in his post

I'm a girl. A long-haired, chocolate-eating, puppy-loving, lipstick-wearing, Vera-Bradley purse-toting GIRL.
9.8.2008 3:14pm
Dave N (mail):
theobromophile,

I apologize profusely for getting your sex wrong (and your nom de blog as well). We are both regular enough here that I should have realized that. I can only claim, as a do for using "name de blog" rather than "nom de blog" (which I believe I may have used here first) to sleep deprivation, since my posting times were between 1:38 and 1:44 a.m.--and even when translated into Pacific Daylight Time that is still rather late for me.
9.8.2008 3:33pm
theobromophile (www):
Dave N.,

My apologies if my comment came off as anything but light-hearted humour. I'm not at all upset. (It's a frequent mistake, so I just thought I would emphasise the point. ;) )

Had I known, back when I was choosing "theobromophile," that everyone would think I was a guy (Theo), and/or The Bromophile or The Ombrophile, I would have picked something else... like Kate. Or Amy. Something basic but anonymous. ;)
9.8.2008 4:38pm
LM (mail):
Theobromophile says men hate puppies.
9.8.2008 4:42pm
Dave N (mail):
theobromophile,

I figured you were. I also figured Mark Field was when he called me a "blithering idiot." At least I hope he was.

I still blame sleep deprivation, though.

(Oh, and keep using "i.e." correctly--your use of it has now led, directly or indirectly, to a total of 11 posts)
9.8.2008 4:52pm
theobromophile (www):
LM,

And chocolate. Especially chocolate labs.
9.8.2008 4:59pm
LM (mail):
theobromophile,

And chocolate. Especially chocolate labs.

Ironic you'd make that association, Ms. Theobromophile, considering that chocolate can be lethal to dogs. And just what makes it lethal? That it contains the toxic stimulant, theobromine! Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, need we go on?

That said, I do have a hard time imagining most guys saying their dog is a "chocolate lab," any more than they'd know, much less admit, that their sheets are "ecru."
9.8.2008 5:28pm
Mark Field (mail):

I also figured Mark Field was when he called me a "blithering idiot." At least I hope he was.


Yes, I was. I did hesitate before posting that, but figured you'd get the (loosely called) joke. After I posted it, I decided it should have begun "Dave, you ignorant slut...". Then again, maybe that's just dating myself.
9.8.2008 5:31pm
theobromophile (www):
ROFLMAO. LM, I made that association because I'm a lab owner. I swear!

(By the way, I'm a "miss." Marital status is "permanently single, cannot find a date to save life.")

Mark Field,

Some of us young folks would have gotten that.

To all: maybe I'm speaking too soon, but did a political/Palin thread devolve (evolve?!?) into... puppies, chocolate, and humour??? It's a topsy-turvy world.
9.8.2008 5:49pm
LM (mail):
theobromophile,

I'm a lab owner.

S/he's adorable. And sweet. But not chocolate.

It's a topsy-turvy world.

Reminds me of the expression about going to a fight and a hockey game breaking out. Nice to know it's possible.
9.8.2008 6:14pm
Dave N (mail):
Mark Field,

I would have gotten it, too. Absolutely no offense was taken. We may often disagree but I am unaware of any rancor between us either way.

theobromophile (finally getting that spelling thing right),

I think at this point I would rather be talking about puppies, chocolate, and humour. We are are ALL taking ourselves way too seriously here.
9.8.2008 6:15pm
theobromophile (www):
Dave N.,

Just do what everyone else does - call me "chocolate lover" or some variant thereof. :)

LM,
S/he's adorable. And sweet. But not chocolate.

This is true; she is a very sweet, very adorable animal. She's grown up a bit since that picture was taken. (Took her for a walk tonight, and she decided to pick up a stick that was larger than she was. She carried it home, which was about a mile away, and wouldn't come inside, because outside had the stick and inside did not.)

I wonder if this is what Prof. Kerr meant by the "perils of Palin blogging"....
9.8.2008 11:24pm
Steve2:
DiversityHire, Dave N, "i.e." and "e.g" are interchangeable, as you yourself pointed out, Dave. "i.e." means "List of clarifying items follows", "e.g." means "List of clarifying items follows," therefore "e.g." = "i.e." (by the transitive property, if you want to get picky about why).
9.8.2008 11:52pm
Hoosier:
I'm a lab owner.


Meth?
9.9.2008 12:04pm
theobromophile (www):
No, but once upon a time, I knew how to synthesise cocaine. (Thank you, organic chemistry.)
9.9.2008 9:39pm