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Palin and the Post-Bush Politician:
I enjoyed my co-blogger Todd's insights about Sarah Palin being a post-Boomer politician. At the same time, I tend to think that what makes her so interesting — what causes such strong reactions to her on both sides — is that she is a post-Bush politician rather than a post-Boomer politician.

  Here's my thinking. For the last eight years, the Bush Administration has defined the GOP. The Bush Administration's tremendous emphasis on loyalty helped ensure that few if any successful GOP politicians could define themselves independently of the Administration. And with the Bush Administration unpopular for so long, it meant that there were few if any popular GOP politicians for the last eight years. There was no apparent farm team, no new generation of leaders to take over when the Bush Administration ended. Unsurprisingly, the GOP ended up fielding a relatively weak set of Presidential contenders for the '08 race. Indeed, the winning candidate was known largely for his opposition to Bush in the 2000 race. And he wasn't trusted by many Republican insiders for not adhering to the party line during the Bush years.

  I think the reason Palin is causing such a stir is that she is a post-Bush politician. To both her supporters and opponents, she seems to have come out of nowhere. She hasn't been in the limelight for the last few years, and she hasn't yet had to take public positions on many of the Bush Administration's signature (and in some cases, quite unpopular) positions. Her physical distance from Washington is an appropriate symbol here: While everybody else has been focused on DC, she was spending the Bush years way out out in Alaska.

  In light of that, it makes sense that Palin's candidacy leaves many Republicans exhilarated and many Democrats exasperated. Palin has no direct connections to Bush, or to the Bush Administration's distinctive issues. For many Republicans, Palin is a fresh start after several years of a very unpopular President. For many Democrats, Palin's candidacy is a completely unfair effort to avoid holding the GOP accountable for its loyalty to George W. Bush.

  Anyway, that's my best sense of things. Perhaps my take is idiosyncratic, but if so I'm sure I'll hear about it in the comment threads. Actually, I know I will hear about it either way. Oh, and I should add for purposes of full disclosure, as I have before (although I stopped doing so because it was getting repetitive), that I have endorsed McCain and I'm on a McCain advisory committee on judges. I'm of course speaking only in my personal capacity here, as always, but of course you're free to take my associations into account if you think it's relevant.

  UPDATE: I should add, as a loyal reader of Talking Points Memo (traditionally one of my favorite blogs, by the way, even if it has become unusually shrill recently), that of course there are a lot of suspicions among Democrats that Palin is just a Bush clone. I understand the meme, but I don't see the evidence that backs that up.
Suzy (mail):
Post-Bush? The only way she seems to differ from him so far is by being even more closely aligned with the religious right. She came out quite clearly in favor of several of Bush's unpopular positions in her convention speech.
9.9.2008 6:44pm
Hoosier:
"The Bush Administration's tremendous emphasis on loyalty helped ensure that few if any successful GOP politicians could define themselves independently from the Bush Administration. And with the Bush Administration so enormously unpopular for so long, it meant that there were few if any popular GOP politicians for the last eight years."

Current anti-Bush sentiment, largely from the left, emphasizes his amazingly consitent lack of approval. But when he's gone, this will fade quickly.

In the medium-term, the anti-Bush sentiment on the right may--I'd say *should*--empahsize the former part of the quote (above). Bush II took what was a (largley) refreshing virtue from Bush I's administration and turned it into a mania. Bush I had a strong sense of collegial loyalty, and he considered this virture reciprocal. He knew he could trust Scowcroft, Baker, Grey, et al. They knew that he would not--to use the term of the day--throw them under the bus to save his skin. There were exceptions, of course: Dick Darman comes to mind. But generally, he was the leader of a team, and it worked.

Bush II? "Loyalty" seems to have morphed into an extreme form of --arg! Kids screaming. More briliance later.
9.9.2008 6:51pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Well, she could be post-Bush (as could McCain, actually), but they would have to distance themselves from Bush on policy first (and not just on PAST policies, but on the future agenda).

In reality, McCain's been playing fast and loose on this issue, because he is afraid of pissing off the right. So, he will point to his past (and sometimes praiseworthy) breaks with his party to show he is a "maverick", while committing to double down on Bush policies for the future and refusing to criticize the President.

This pleases many conservatives (the dirty little secret is that a lot of the Republican base still thinks Bush was a very good President), but it's not consistent with the "post-Bush" narrative (except in the sense that the next President will be definitionally "post-Bush").
9.9.2008 6:52pm
Vermando (mail) (www):
Nice comment, and I generally buy it, although the fact that she continues her bald-faced lie about having opposed the Bridge to Nowhere tells me that she's not above practicing cynical, Rovian, 'it does not matter if it is true, just say it enough and they'll buy it' politics.
9.9.2008 6:56pm
county girl:
What's the difference between Palin and Muslim fundamentalists? Lipstick

A theocrat is a theocrat, whether Muslim or Christian.

Now, can we return to regular program, please?
9.9.2008 6:56pm
dr:

For many Republicans, Palin is a fresh start after several years of a very unpopular President. For many Democrats, Palin's candidacy is a completely unfair effort to avoid holding the GOP accountable for its loyalty to George W. Bush.


Good point. I would add that for many Democrats (and non-dems who support Obama -- oh heck, I'll just say "me"), Palin's candidacy is also troublesome because they simply don't know much about her. The "experience/qualifications" debate is frustrating for all sides.

For me, as an Obama supporter, it's frustrating because while I concede that Obama's qualifications aren't significantly different from Palin's on paper (I think they're superior, but I recognize reasonable people will disagree along with the unreasonable people), I've had two years of constant coverage to get to know Obama. I have had the opportunity to see and read hundreds of interviews with him. I've had a chance to read his books. And I've had plenty of time to determine that yeah, he meets my qualifications for what I want in a President.

Palin, on the other hand, has only her resume at this point. I don't say that as a knock -- it's just that for nearly everyone outside Alaska, she was a complete unknown before 10 days ago, and since then we've only gotten a rough sketch of who she is. So we're left to look strictly at her on-paper qualifications, save for a few broad (and conflicting) strokes ("She's a moose hunter!" "An earmark-slayer!" "A book burner!" "A reformer!"), and the scripted speeches she's delivered.

For me -- and for plenty of others, obviously -- those qualifications, without any other information, look insufficient. And maybe if I had only Obama's resume, with nothing else to go on, I might feel the same way about him. I might be demanding that we get a few interviews with the guy, read more about him, get him answering questions, before I decided to vote for or not vote for him. As it happens, that's what we have gotten over the past 2 years with him. I don't think it's inconsistent to want the same of her.

And now I'll sit down while the jackals tear into my flesh.
9.9.2008 6:57pm
Spitzer:
Interesting point, Oren. Personally I suspect that the significance of the Palin pick arises from the fact that, by picking her, McCain substantially deviated from the conventional narrative of the '08 campaign - McCain, by the narrative, was supposed to pick a boring white guy who wouldn't have challenged the Obama campaign's theme, and then go down to defeat in an honorable way. The press still would have attacked Pawlenty or Romney or whoever, but the emotion wouldn't have been there. It was supposed to have been like Dole/Kemp - the press and the Dems could have honored the service but not the man, and the campaign would have gone down a safe, boring road.

As the days have gone by, I begin to think that there are several interesting tidbits about the Palin pick. First, she gives voters a chance to pick an unconventional ticket and, in fact, makes picking an unconventional ticket impossible unless you vote for a minor party. That levels the field - the good feelings for picking Obama now become good feelings for picking either candidate, and so the Dems lose their monopoly. Second, she cements a very western ticket for the GOP - reflecting a western conservatism that is starkly different from the old Yankee conservatism of GHW Bush, or the southern/tex-mex conservatism of GW Bush. In this, the McCain/Palin ticket is a throwback to the western conservatism of Goldwater and Reagan. I think this disappointed the opposition, who have come well-prepared to fight the themes of southern conservatism, but their planned attacks don't quite fit the gentler, less patriarchical western-style of conservatism. Third, Palin highlights the Dems' failure with women this year - frankly, I think that McCain set Obama up first by attacking him as a celebrity non-entity (thus encouraging him to pick an "experienced" running mate) and, when that running mate turned out not to be HRC, McCain simply ran for daylight. This enrages Dems for 2 reasons: first, they now have to fight for women, especially white women, who are a core constituency, and second, their party's self-identity envivions them being the first to put a woman in the WH. Attack someone's core, and their own identity, and you will arouse a response.

But, to me, the brilliance of the pick is that Palin ostensibly stands for and represents small-town Middle America, and this taps into the core populism of this year's GOP primaries (Huckabee and McCain are both populists, and Romney plays one on TV and in Michigan). More and more, 2008 is looking to be a year of populism - defined as ordinary people reacting to the perceived arrogance of the urban oligarchs, an attack on the monied Trust Fund-Wall Street-Ivy League-Lawyer complex that, at least from the perspective of a small towner, dominates the nation and patronizes those who are so blighted as to live in flyover country. That is, we're starting to look at a Budweiser versus Pinot Grigio kind of election, and it's pretty clear which candidates fall into which categories.
9.9.2008 7:00pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
IMHO, Palin's identity as a politician has nothing to do with Bush -- other than the fact that she's not a "Bush."

Palin's appeal comes from her 'rawness' -- the fact that she isn't a 'designer' politician who set her sights on higher office early in her career, and has been constantly engaged in the creation and maintenance of an appealing political persona. She's an "accidental politician", a mom who got involved in politics because of her involvement in the PTA.
9.9.2008 7:02pm
Arkady:

To both her supporters and opponents, she seems to have come out of nowhere.


Seems?
9.9.2008 7:04pm
r78:
Actually she fits perfectly into the mold of the Bush presidency.

Witness her repeated claims that she opposed the "bridge to nowhere" when, as has been well documented by many sources, she was for it before she was against it. She also proclaims that she fought pork projects as a matter of principle when, as her own handwritten notes demonstrate, she eagerly sought out DC pork when she was Mayor of Wasilla.

She has repeated these lies in every speech she has made since her nomination.

The continued repeating of lies was a trademark of the Bush administration and Palin is following in those footsteps.
9.9.2008 7:04pm
paul lukasiak (mail):

That is, we're starting to look at a Budweiser versus Pinot Grigio kind of election


pinot grigio is looked down upon by wine snobs -- a more apt comparison would be a "Budweiser vs Petite Sirah kind of election."
9.9.2008 7:06pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
With respect to the "UPDATE":

Why should Palin's opponents have to demonstrate that she's a Bush clone? Bush's positions are reflected in the Republican Party platform and the platform of Palin's running mate.

It seems to me that people who are going to claim that she's not like Bush need to show us where she opposes some big Bush Administration policy or initiative or conduct, and promises to reverse it in the future.

And there's no evidence of that, because, frankly, Sarah Palin hasn't even established that she's even THOUGHT about the major or less major issues facing the federal government.
9.9.2008 7:08pm
Spitzer:
Paul: Ha! I think I've just been outed as a Bud guy!
9.9.2008 7:09pm
Arkady:
Call me partisan if you wish, but when I first heard her speak, I thought immediately of the anecdote about Ezra Pound. Pound was going on and on about Mussolini, and finally one of his friends, in exasperation, said "But the voice, Ezra, the voice!"

And no I do not think she's a fascist.
9.9.2008 7:11pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Some people have a rather broad definition of 'lie'. Has Palin ever said "I utterly opposed the Bridge to Nowhere from the very instant I first heard of it"? That would be a lie, but she didn't say that, did she? Did she say "I have never in my entire life asked for or received a single scrap of anything that could conceivably be described as pork"? That would be a lie, but she didn't say that, either, did she? The fact is that she opposed the bridge that Obama and Biden both supported, and took far less pork than most politicians, and her position seems to have become more anti-bridge and anti-pork with time. Seems refreshing to me.
9.9.2008 7:12pm
byomtov (mail):
Why should Palin's opponents have to demonstrate that she's a Bush clone? Bush's positions are reflected in the Republican Party platform and the platform of Palin's running mate.

It seems to me that people who are going to claim that she's not like Bush need to show us where she opposes some big Bush Administration policy or initiative or conduct, and promises to reverse it in the future.


Exactly right. What major policy differences does she have with Bush? If you can't name some, how can you make that claim?
9.9.2008 7:16pm
Aleks:
Re: . For many Republicans, Palin is a fresh start after several years of a very unpopular President.

This would have been true of a number of GOP governors-- the major exceptions being Jeb Bush (obviously), Haley Barber, and Rick Perry. Romney, Pawlenty, or Charlie Crist would have been un-Bushes too.
One problem with Palin is that while she has been physically distant from Bush, ideologically her distance is like living next door to him. And that's what I find most distressing about this election. There' no trace of any new ideas or fresh direction from the GOP-- which should have learned a major lesson from that last eight years, but like the Bourbons has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. They're still running against the Hippies and Jimmy Carter. How much longer do they think that will work? Imagine if Taft in the election of 1908 had still been waving the Civil War's bloody shirt and ranting about Rum, Romanism and Rebellion!
9.9.2008 7:20pm
TCO:
I'm worried that she is a stealth Libertarian. Smoking dope and flirting with state secession.
9.9.2008 7:22pm
r78:
Dr Weevil

If you care about the truth, you can go over to the TPM website where they have pretty carefully documented the facts that confirms that Palin is a liar.

I believe her quote is "I told Congress no thanks on the bridge to nowhere." Not so.
9.9.2008 7:23pm
Mike Keenan:
This is excellent insight. Thanks for posting it. I am wondering about your comment: "Unsurprisingly, the GOP ended up fielding a relatively weak set of Presidential contenders for the '08 race."

What is this relative to? To the Democratic field? To past Republican fields.
9.9.2008 7:29pm
Kazinski:
Dilan:

the dirty little secret is that a lot of the Republican base still thinks Bush was a very good President


Who's trying to hide it? Not me. That said while I disagree with McCain on some issues like Climate Change, immigration, and BCRP, I am geniunely exicited by the idea of a McCain Presidentcy. McCain has the best record of a spending and earmarks hawk of any candidate since at least Goldwater.
9.9.2008 7:30pm
Nate in Alice:
Whatever, Sarah Palin has proven she can lie with the best of them. As has John McCain (see his latest ad alleging Obama passed a bill to teach "sex" before "learning how to read" to kindgarteners).

They are both exquisite liars.
9.9.2008 7:33pm
kurious:
I think the quote was "...thanks but no thanks...", which was factually true. Thanks for the money but no thanks for the bridge.
9.9.2008 7:35pm
OrinKerr:
Dilan,

I've been thinking about just not responding to your many comments directed to me, as I end up wasting lots of time responding to you and I never feel like the discussion goes anywhere or that I learn anything.

But here's a response this time, given that Byomtov was wondering about this as well: I am trying to explain why people are reacting a certain way, and my argument is that it because they have a particular perception about Palin. It's not really responsive to the argument to say that people really shouldn't be perceiving what they perceive, and that you think they should adopt a different standard for perceiving things. You are of course free to write blog posts at your own blog about the different question of what you think people *should* perceive, but that's not what the post is about.
9.9.2008 7:35pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Kazinski:

Here's an example of who is trying to hide it. Last weekend on Fox News, I saw Fred Barnes (a pretty standard issue conservative journalist and commentator) being challenged about McCain not distancing himself from Bush and dispelling the claim that he was "Bush's 3rd term". Barnes' reply was something like "he doesn't have to show he's not Bush's 3rd term. Of course everyone knows he's not Bush's 3rd term. He's been a maverick who has caused Bush big headaches".

I think Barnes' statement accurately reflects McCain's strategy. He needs the votes of a lot of people who like Bush and think he is a good President. So he has decided to make his policy platform basically consistent with Bush's. His appeal to independents, thus, does not point to any PRESENT differences with Bush, but instead points (and only in general terms-- he doesn't mention campaign finance, immigration, torture, or tax policy directly) to PAST differences.

The reason I say this is a secret is that Barnes and Bill Kristol and McCain himself and the others who are espousing this strategy don't admit their real position which is that Bush was a pretty good President and they want to continue Bush policies. Rather, they pretend that McCain is a big change from Bush when, in terms of his PLATFORM, he is not.
9.9.2008 7:36pm
OrinKerr:
What is this relative to? To the Democratic field? To past Republican fields.

I had meant past Republican fields.
9.9.2008 7:37pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Professor Kerr:

I don't quarrel with your sociological point. I am just quite politically resistant to ANY characterization of Palin as having distance from Bush, until she actually establishes such distance.

But you may very well be right as to how people are reacting to Palin.
9.9.2008 7:37pm
r78:
Here is a quote for Dr. Weevil:

The Wall Street Journal notes today that in August 2006, Palin said, "We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that's so negative."
9.9.2008 7:41pm
dearieme:
W is a dangerous leftie - any old-fashioned Republicans who feel loyal to him are chumps. As for Mrs Palin - I'm sorry to be so harsh, but I suspect that she's a politician.
9.9.2008 7:41pm
Cleanthes (mail) (www):
Palin has the Obama campaign in a state of zugzwang with regard to a very great number of issues, not just the identity politics game they wanted to play.

Every time they mention Bush, they emphasize that they had MORE interaction that Palin did with the Bush Administration. Palin fought Senator Stevens and the Big Oil companies. Bush didn't and neither did Biden or Obama.

Like the Bridge to Nowhere: it's a trap for the Democrats to fuss about this. All Palin has to do is innocently ask Biden &Obama how they voted on the measure approving the funds.

She can say, "So, I was for it before I was against it, BUT YOU WERE ALWAYS FOR IT?"

Zugzwang.
9.9.2008 7:42pm
Federal Dog:
"Some people have a rather broad definition of 'lie'."

All they mean by that is that they don't like her. Virtually everything being said about her (e.g., bridge to nowhere, contraception, creationism, book banning, earmarks, per diems, etc.) intentionally misrepresents her words and deeds.
9.9.2008 7:43pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
One other thing, Professor Kerr. Your "update" goes beyond the sociological claim and contends there is "no evidence" that backs up the claim that Palin is a Bush clone.

That's what I was responding to. You can disagree with my position, but I don't see how you can contend that my comment wasn't responsive to your post.
9.9.2008 7:45pm
OrinKerr:
Dilan, you remind me why I am the only blogger here who regularly participates in comment threads, and why so many people tell me I am a fool for doing so.
9.9.2008 7:52pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Professor, be nice. The truth is, if we met each other, I'd buy you a beer and listen intently to your opinions about Fourth Amendment cases.

The truth is, Sarah Palin pushes a lot of buttons (which is kind of one of the points you were making in your post). That produces lots of comments and they don't always stay on the straight and narrow.
9.9.2008 7:56pm
anon:
dr: (5:57),

You got it right: resumes are a toss up. But resumes are what people use to introduce themselves. Once you know someone you tend not to care much about his resume.

Obama and Clinton wisely are not going after Palin on her resume and have kept their criticisms reasonably measured. Obama because he doesn't want to debate resumes and Clinton because Palin is a woman (who didn't sleep with Bill) and some number of her supporters are of the "I don't agree with Palin on a single issue, but I am glad there is a woman running" ilk.
9.9.2008 7:57pm
Arkady:

In light of that, it makes sense that Palin's candidacy leaves many Republicans exhilarated and many Democrats exasperated. Palin has no direct connections to Bush, or to the Bush Administration's distinctive issues. For many Republicans, Palin is a fresh start after several years of a very unpopular President. For many Democrats, Palin's candidacy is a completely unfair effort to avoid holding the GOP accountable for its loyalty to George W. Bush.


I think that's pretty much true. Especially for the Republicans. I think the Democrats are flummoxed by the McCain campaign's emphasis on narrative that Gov. Palin's selection represents. After all, it was Rick Davis that said that the election will be decided over personalities and not issues. The Democrats believe that on the issues, they have the advantage. The more the McCain campaign is able to shift the focus to personalities, the less traction for the Democrats's issues campaign.

However, early days and all that.
9.9.2008 7:58pm
Kazinski:
Dilan,
The term clone implies a closeness and connection with the original, and as Orin pointed out that does not exist. While much of the conservative base takes issue with some of his decisions and blind spots, mainly in spending, and immigration, we applaud many of the traits that drive the left crazy, such as his stubborness and refusal to let Congress lose the war when it was winnable. To see many of these same traits in Palin is not a defect.
9.9.2008 7:58pm
ARCraig (mail):
This place was much better when it was legal blog rather a place for law professors to pontificate on identity politics.

I do enjoy some of the political posts here, but they really seem out of place next to the law commentary and it's annoying as hell when they overwhelm the law commentary. Perhaps they could be put on a separate page or something?
9.9.2008 8:00pm
OrinKerr:
Dilan,

Perhaps it would be better if you didn't comment at the VC for awhile? To be candid, I would prefer it. While you may think it's fun to push my buttons, it's actually not my cup of tea.
9.9.2008 8:00pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Kazinski:

If the issue were whether McCain's congressional record (especially between 2000 and 2006) made him a Bush clone, I agree, the answer is "no".

However, if the issue is whether McCain's presidential campaign platform makes him a Bush clone, I think that liberals have a strong case that it does.
9.9.2008 8:01pm
SecurityGeek:
From what little we know, Palin seems close to GW Bush in how much her Evangelical faith affects lots of her positions (like invading Muslim countries).

I think the biggest difference is that her history begging for earmarks for Wasilla and Alaska shows a real "what's best for my people" populism that doesn't match the official story about fiscal conservatism. GWB talked a lot like a populist, but that was always tempered by generations of Yale-educated WASP privilege.
9.9.2008 8:04pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Professor Kerr:

I can honestly tell you that I haven't once intended to push your buttons with a single comment I have made.

I comment to generate discussion, to bounce ideas off the other commenters and the bloggers, and sometimes to dispute claims that you or the other bloggers make. I never make personal attacks, and I never attempt to irritate you or any of the other hosts.

Look, if you really think I have violated the comments policy, you and Professor Volokh have every prerogrative to take action. I don't think I have, though. And I am truly puzzled (really, not in the phony sense that some people say they are puzzled when they are not) that you would take offense with my comments.

In any event, my offer to buy you a beer still stands. If you are ever in L.A., hit me up.
9.9.2008 8:04pm
josh:
Prof Kerr:

"Dilan, you remind me why I am the only blogger here who regularly participates in comment threads, and why so many people tell me I am a fool for doing so."

I hope you don't mean that. The engagement with posters is what makes the VC enjoyable. Not just blogging opinion, but being open to criticism (or praise).

For my part, for example, I would bhe interested to hear why you think TPM has become "shrill?" Is it b/c of all the posts accusing Palin and the McCaim camp of "lying" about her position(s) on the Bridge to Nowhere and, more importantly, the media's coverage thereof? That seems a little unfair (if that's what you are refering to) after all the posts on the VC being "shrill" about the media the other way (See any Prof. Lindgren post of the last two weeks)
9.9.2008 8:06pm
Spitzer:
Orin: On second thought, you are more right than I had expected. Not only is Palin a "post-Bush" VP nominee, but this has to be put in the context that this is the first election since 1972 when there wasn't either a Bush or a Dole on the GOP ticket. That is, McCain/Palin is not just an interesting post-Bush ticket, it represents a wholesale revolution in the GOP, a massive break with the past.
9.9.2008 8:07pm
Joe Kowalski (mail):

Palin fought Senator Stevens and the Big Oil companies.

Was that before or after Stevens endorsed her gubernatorial run? Or was that fight before or after she ran the 527 group that supported him in 2005? Or was that fight against the corrupt Stevens before or after this joint news conference only two months ago when she expressed her support of the of the man? Mr. Ted has had a huge amount of influence in the state party for a very long time, and from what I can find, Gov. Palin has done precious little to really challenge his behavior or activities.
9.9.2008 8:09pm
Clastrenster:
There is much to be said for the observations of the original post here. I suspect the situation is a bit more complex, insofar as Palin appears somewhat like Rorschach for all-things-not-Obama. This includes appeal to Bush and post-Bush supporters alike, for example in the way that she mobilizes patriotism and connects via personalized good-folk-average Jane quips. Given how shockingly little all commentators have to go on, the entire episode is a disconcerting but curious glimpse into the not-so-great enclaves of a less-than-stable national psyche.
9.9.2008 8:10pm
Angus:

the fact that she isn't a 'designer' politician who set her sights on higher office early in her career
That's a laugher.
1996: Ran for mayor
2002: Ran for Lt. Governor (lost)
2006: Ran for Governor
2008: Ran for VP

When has she not been angling for higher office? Sorry, but you don't go from average person to VP candidate in 12 years without that being a goal from the start.
9.9.2008 8:11pm
Clastrenster:
Oh, and that she doesn't like, or is somehow afraid of cats. That's the dealbreaker for me.
9.9.2008 8:12pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
When has she not been angling for higher office? Sorry, but you don't go from average person to VP candidate in 12 years without that being a goal from the start.

I disagree. I don't think much of Sarah Palin's qualifications at this point (though I am open to being convinced), but I don't think she's Tracy Flick. I doubt very much that when she was serving on the City Council of Wasilla, Alaska she had any serious thoughts about the Vice Presidency.
9.9.2008 8:13pm
OrinKerr:
Josh,

I enjoy engaging with commenters who come across as nice people. Unfortunately, open comment threads mean a mix: some commenters are civil and seem like cool people, and others seem like they're just obnoxious.

On the substantive point about TPM, yes, that's what I was referring to. Josh Marshall is blogging like he is upset and angry, rather than with his usual clever style. It's unusually shrill. As for the VC, the fair point is that the VC has become unusually shrill, as well. I know a lot of readers think so, and I tend to agree. I hope I haven't contributed to it myself, and I apologize if I have, but personally I have found a lot of posts here rather shrill recently.
9.9.2008 8:14pm
Ace is Right:
You really can't parody the Left anymore. Palin, in a new position, takes a different position on the Bridge to Nowhere? Cynical lying politician. Obama, after saying he would abide by public financing and proposing a date of withdrawl from Iraq, abandons public financing and distances himself from a set date with troop withdrawal. But he's not a lying, cynical politician. You won't see Josh Marshall deriding him as a hypocrite. You see, the "facts" changed, in very subtle and "nuanced" ways that led him to his new, enlightened position.

I tend to take Sarah Palin with a grain of salt, which is to say, I admire her as a parent and for the work she's done as governor of Alaska. But I also recognize that she's a politician and thus prone to contradictory positoins that can't easily be reconciled. It would be nice to see a few Obama supporters come on here and own up to the fact that their candidate has the same liabilities.

And that is not to suggest moral relativism with respect to either candidate. I think it's fair to ask about their character, as that is a highly important measure of what type of president they may be. But let's not kid ourselves that any of the candidates -- including John "Secure the Borders First" McCain and Joe "Top of the Class" Biden -- are devoid of criticism. They aren't.
9.9.2008 8:15pm
Angus:
Ace,
Obama's decision to opt out of public financing was a huge flip-flop indeed. The thing it, Obama was at least honest about changing his mind.

However, Palin continues to try and mislead people into thinking that she opposed the bridge the whole time, when in fact she was one of the last people in America to still support it.
9.9.2008 8:19pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
But I also recognize that she's a politician and thus prone to contradictory positoins that can't easily be reconciled. It would be nice to see a few Obama supporters come on here and own up to the fact that their candidate has the same liabilities.

Ace, it's not germane to the current thread, but yes, I think that Obama's FISA flip-flop, for instance, is quite troublesome, and though I don't think it is comparable to Palin's inexperience, I do think that liberals and Obama supporters have to be very careful about starting to believe that Obama can march into the White House and change everything with his soaring rhetoric, especially given his relatively short governmental experience.
9.9.2008 8:19pm
Justin (mail):
2 Points:

1) As josh has stated, everything has become more "shrill." Welcome to election season.

2) I think the reasoning why liberals (including myself) assume Palin is fairly conservative and similar to Bush is the same reason that conservatives do - otherwise, conservatives wouldn't be so ecstatic with the pick.* First of all, McCain picked her for a reason - if she was actually a moderate or a liberal, you wouldn't see them. Second of all, Palin has been long popular amongst the blogging "base" such as RedState. If an up-and-coming Democrat whose policies were pretty under wraps but had connections to DailyKos gained national attention, you could bet people would assume he was partisan/new-liberal. Third of all, her comments and activities - or at least the little that have been discovered - seem very Bush-like to liberals, including what liberals view is a complete apathy for the truth (Bridge To Nowhere, Earmarks, Troopergate), an incline for using political power to defeat personal and political enemies and to cover up any abuse, ties to religous conservatives (though she, unlike Bush, does go to Church), an antagonistic view of environmentalism and women's rights, and a simplistic, Crusader-like view of the GWOT.

I do think liberals may be overlooking Palin's veto of the gay marriage ban, which is the one truly outstanding and courageous political move I think she's made, but for obvious reasons the McCain camp does not want to highlight it.


*Say what you want, but its hard-pressed to find a conservative who disagrees with George Bush's policies. Instead, you hear general complaints about overspending, competence, and ability to get the good word out. But really, most conservatives like Bush and his policies, they just don't like the fact that Bush's policies are wildly unpopular and seen as/are failures. A natural, protective, disconnect allows them to say that they don't like or are ambivilant about Bush.

PS - By Spitzer's reasoning, any choice but Lizzie Dole and Jeb Bush would have been such a revolution. Just in case you weren't being sarcastic.
9.9.2008 8:20pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
What Justin said. There's an analogy here to Bush's judicial picks too. A number of conservatives I know were genuinely upset that more liberals didn't consider Roberts and Alito to be acceptable, qualified Supreme Court picks in the same way many conservatives felt that Breyer and Ginsburg were.

And at least a partial answer to that is that given that Bush had made statements to his base that he was going to pick guys like Scalia and Thomas, and the base was very happy with the picks of Roberts and Alito, liberals were quite suspicious that these guys might be more conservative than they were being presented.

The same with Palin. What I am sure a lot of liberals are looking for is some indication of a separation, on something, between Palin and Bush. We haven't seen it yet, so we are very skeptical.
9.9.2008 8:24pm
Justin (mail):
PS - Obama didn't flip flop on his campaign finance pledge. He *was* somewhat dishonest about it, in that he put so many small-print ties on his promise that the Republican nominee would never be able to agree. Very similar to how McCain cleverly put enough ties to his Town Hall challenge so that he knew Obama couldn' agree. That Obama lost the media spin on both issues shows a) that the media is not as "liberally biased" as some would think, and that b) Obama has made a LOT of mistakes in terms of media spin and control.
9.9.2008 8:24pm
Clastrenster:
Also, to continue with unsolicited analysis, it appears that Obama for supporters, Palin has assumed an inkblot form resembling all-things-Bush. Obviously there is a lot of anger at the Bush administration that needs some place to go. It's certainly not helping Democrats that it's landing squarely on Palin. Prior to the VP pick, McCain didn't attract nearly the same kind of anti-Bush anger (he struggled with popularity for other reasons, either from Republicans, or anyone who's seen the storehouse of anger-management primer youtube clips and thought, oh my gosh, this guy's really got some issues, etc.). That said, although Palin is certainly not post-Bush (in certain aspects of her appeals), McCain does actually represent a slight departure from Bush, despite his potential liabilities.
9.9.2008 8:25pm
Ace is Right:
No, Obama wasn't honest about his change on public financing. He said he was opting out because he system was "broken." All of which is true, but the system was no more "broken" when he opted out than it was when he pledged to stay in that system. The only thing that changed was that it was not in his interest to go with public financing.

Shocking -- a politician would obscure naked self-interest by mischaracterizing his actual reason for making a decision! It's not the first time, and no matter who is the next president, it won't be the last. But I don't see Josh Marshall or any of the people savagin Palin right now expressing a similar level of outrage about Obama's lack of honesty.
9.9.2008 8:25pm
Calculated Risk:
Actually, the reason many Democrats greatly dislike Palin is that she is absolutely unqualified to be President and she is an embarrassment.
9.9.2008 8:28pm
Ace is Right:
The comedy continues. Republicans agree with Bush's policies but are upset about his overspending. Ask a real Republican -- I mean the core voter that represents half the party and 25 to 30% of the electorate -- and controlling spending is right up near the top in terms of what a leader is expected to do in office. In other words, you can't agree with the man on his policy if that policy involves massive overspending.

Good grief.
9.9.2008 8:29pm
Clastrenster:
I don't the object we're calling "Palin" is significantly more embarrassing than GWB has been, and in some respects does represent a post-Bush set of imaginary fantasies given the "distances" that the original poster smartly laid out.
9.9.2008 8:30pm
EH (mail):
I think the reason Palin is causing such a stir is that she is a post-Bush politician

Um...groan.
9.9.2008 8:31pm
Ace is Right:
Got it: Obama = somewhat dishonest, Palin and Republicans = blatant liars.

Can't imagine why the political discussion has grown so shrill . . . .
9.9.2008 8:32pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Ace:

I think "spending" is a mom and apple pie issue. It has no content, unless one starts talking about particular programs that one will cut. (Even earmarks, an issue that I will concede McCain is right about, is a somewhat phony issue in that cutting earmarks doesn't cut spending unless you start talking about what BUDGETS you are going to cut.)

In any event, even with respect to spending and earmarks, I haven't heard McCain pin the blame on Bush. (Usually, he blames Congress.) This gets back to my point that much of his base thinks Bush was a good President so he doesn't want to criticize Bush (except to refer obliquely to his criticisms of Bush in the past).
9.9.2008 8:32pm
js5 (mail):
Actually, Calculated Risk, conservatives are too. It's amazing what an atmosphere of celebritism and mysticism can do for a person.
9.9.2008 8:33pm
Dan M.:
Well, look at it this way. Congress removed the earmark for the bridge. Why? Perhaps Palin told Ted Stevens that they didn't need to build the bridge after all, and Ted Stevens had the earmark removed, but fought for the money for his state, anyhow.

Then Palin, being fiscally responsible, didn't spend hundreds of millions of dollars of federal AND state money on a bridge when it wouldn't provide enough benefit for the cost. So she redirected the funds and asked that a more reasonable solution for the island be looked into.

So, if she told Ted Stevens that they didn't need to build the bridge (which is essentially what he claims), and then if she decided to find another solution to the problem, that would be consistent with "I told Congress 'thanks, but no thanks.' If we want the bridge, we'll do it ourselves.'"

Sure, it's a stretch, and yeah, they still got the federal money, but is any state just going to hand money right back to the feds?

Also, they are blaming Palin for all the earmarks that Alaska gets, when it's totally unclear how many are at the request of the governor, since apparently any individual town (like Wasilla) can hire their own lobbyist to get into Stevens' good graces.

Since long before Palin was getting talk about the VP slot, she'd been saying that she was disappointed by the perception that Alaska was free-loading off the rest of the country, and she wanted to cut down their dependence on federal earmarks and contribute more to the nation with oil and natural gas.
9.9.2008 8:33pm
Dave N (mail):
Joe Kowalski,

Context is likely everything. Your posts was dishonest in at least two of three instances--and frankly, a link to Talking Point Memo is hardly a credible source (what would you think if I linked to, say, Hot Air?)

With respect to the Stevens' endorsement, it happened AFTER she defeated Frank Murkowski in the primary. Something that just might be relevant, eh?

The Stevens 527 was in 2003--again context is everything, since Palin broke with the Alaska Repubican power base in 2005.

I can't access the press conference now (my employer blocks streaming video) so I will defer any commet on that for now.
9.9.2008 8:34pm
Splunge:
I'm on a McCain advisory committee on judges.

No kidding? That McCain. He seems to be making all kinds of sensible decisions these days.
9.9.2008 8:40pm
Angus:

No, Obama wasn't honest about his change on public financing.

What we have here is a failure to communicate...
However, Obama was honest in saying that he previously supported public financing, but was now opting out of it. You might not buy the reasons for that, but he acknowledged the change in position.

If Palin came out and said: "I was strongly for federal funding of the Bridge to Nowhere and fought hard for it to be built. Even after Congress decided not to go forward with it, I still pushed for state and federal funds to try and make it happen. However, by late last year I came to believe that the bridge was wasteful and ended all such efforts." THAT would be honest. However, the truth wouldn't work as a pithy stump speech line. So she has to distort her position.
9.9.2008 8:42pm
Ace is Right:
Dilan, do you actually know many core Republican voters? And I don't mean just "knowing" them as passing acquaintances, I mean do you talk to them regularly? I don't mind representing myself as one (shocking, I know), and I can tell you that not a SINGLE person I know and discuss politics with thinks Bush has done a good job. That's not to say that disagree with him on every policy decision. You aren't going to find many Republicans who think cutting taxes is a bad idea, nor will you find many who want to lift the cap on Social Security or raise the rate of capital gains taxes, place higher taxes or corporations, etc. So on a lot of issues, they agree with Bush. And in my opinion, with good reason.

That doesn't mean they agree with him on many others. The conduct of the Iraq War was a debacle. The massive spending you deride is a BIG DEAL among core Republicans, who understand that it isn't just earmarks but increases in entitlement spending that lead to long term national debt, debt which plays a role in real interest rates. I also can't even begin to quantify how many Republicans who are infuriated with the number of incompetent people (Monica Goodling, Michael Brown) appointed to key positions.

Sure, there is a great deal of dissatisfaction about Bush's operational ability. Do you think Bush is good at selling Republican initiatives? I doubt the 3 Republicans in LA would agree with you. When you're debating whether it's a good idea to raise marginal tax rates -- an issue that whatever the economic merits has obvious potential for class warfare backlash -- you need a good salesman. That's why Republicans loved Reagan. He sold the program. Bush couldn't sell water in the desert. And yes, that matters in a presidency. It's a lesson Republicans should never again forget.
9.9.2008 8:43pm
SG:
Here's a story from the Anchorage Daily News Published: March 12th, 2008 10:18 PM. Some choice quotes:


Headline: "Stevens, Palin swap shots over earmarks"

"Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is aggravated about what he sees as Gov. Sarah Palin's antagonism toward the earmarks he uses to steer federal money to the state."

"Palin ruffled feathers when she announced - without giving the delegation advance notice - that the state was killing the Ketchikan bridge to Gravina Island"

"Palin also declared last year that her administration was going to cut back its own earmark requests submitted to the delegation."

"The state requested earmarks for 31 projects worth just under $200 million this year.[...] it's down from last year's request of 54 projects for around $550 million."

"It is a difficult thing to get over right now, the feeling that we don't represent Alaska because Alaska doesn't want earmarks," [Stevens] said.

"Kevin Sweeney, state director for Sen. Murkowski, said Murkowski has also mentioned it's tough to push for earmarks if the state is saying they're not needed. "




I suggest anyone who actually cares about the issue read the article. It was written before Palin was picked as VP and the hysteria made it difficult to separate fact from legend. It's seems pretty neutral.

As I see it, McCain/Palin are definitely engaged in some spin on the Bridge to Nowhere, but it is well within normal bounds. I also think it's valid to push back against the spin. But the raw statement "She killed the bridge to nowhere" is true, and the larger sense, that she worked to reduce earmarks, even against other Republicans, is also true.

And I'm uncertain why people are upset about that. At the end of the day she's still a politician; feel free to point that out. But at least on this issue she seems to have governed in a way that most people claim to want.
9.9.2008 8:47pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Ace, I know a number of Republicans and conservatives. Some certainly do share your opinions-- and I don't mean to say otherwise in my comments. But you'd be surprised how many people think that Bush has been a very good President on the things that matter to them (usually the war on terror, Iraq, tax cuts, and judges), and believe that many of the things that he is often criticized on (such as Katrina) are either invented or overblown by what they perceive as the liberal media.

I certainly believe that McCain has made a conscious choice not to offend those voters, which he believes comprise a portion of his base. But I am not trying to paint conservatives with too broad a brush, and I know that many conservatives do feel as you do.
9.9.2008 8:47pm
Angus:

So, if she told Ted Stevens that they didn't need to build the bridge (which is essentially what he claims), and then if she decided to find another solution to the problem, that would be consistent with "I told Congress 'thanks, but no thanks.' If we want the bridge, we'll do it ourselves

The problem here is that Congress killed the earmark in 2005, when Murkowski was still Governor. I doubt Palin played any role in that whatsoever. And in the Governor's race the next fall, actually said that she would call on the Alaska congressional delegation to make the bridge happen again. By the time she took office, Murkowski had already moved most of the money they had received to other areas. So Palin basically said "No thanks" to a bridge project that was already dead and buried.
9.9.2008 8:49pm
Pon Raul (mail):
To r78 and others harping on her "I was for the bridge before I was against the bridge" position: Her saying that she is against the bridge is not a lie. It might only be a half-truth, but you are being just as dishonest if not more so by calling it a lie. It is technically true. Words have meaning. Use them correctly. I pray that you people calling this a lie are not lawyers.
9.9.2008 8:52pm
Dan M.:
Didn't the funds for the bridge come through before Palin was even the governor? The funds were approved in 2005, weren't they? And she didn't become governor until 2007.

The thing about her claim that disappoints me is that she was always a populist, reassuring the people that she didn't think their island was 'nowhere.' She also earlier wore a shirt that said "valley trash" which mocked a disparaging comment about her region made by a political opponent. She always seemed to try to let the people know that she shared their concerns. Perhaps she was being sincere.

But for her to use the mocking "Bridge to Nowhere" name now mocks those people that she empathized with before. Perhaps there's no other way to reference the project and take any credit for it. From what I can tell her main reason for killing it was that it needed too big of an investment from the state and simply wasn't worth it. So that still shows that she doesn't approve of wasteful government spending. But it doesn't show that as a representative of her state she was really an opponent of federal expenditures.
9.9.2008 8:53pm
EH (mail):
The funniest thing I've read all day is a comment thread where Republicans lambaste Obama for not taking public campaign financing.

Frankly, in the scheme of flip-flops and lies that are floating around, not taking public financing is pretty low on my list of important issues.
9.9.2008 8:54pm
dr:

Sure, it's a stretch, and yeah, they still got the federal money, but is any state just going to hand money right back to the feds?


Probably not. But that's pretty much the way they're presenting, Palin, isn't it? The campaign is selling the notion that Palin, always the spending hawk, told Congress to go take a leap with their $200 million -- Alaska don't want no part in this pork roast!

I'm glad you acknowledge that your scenario is a rosy one -- it may be exactly true, but like you say, it's a stretch. Personally, I don't fault the Governor that much for accepting a windfall from a free-spending Federal government. But I think it's clearly a misrepresentation for her to now suggest that she never showed interest in such wasteful spending.
9.9.2008 8:55pm
Justin (mail):
Hah!

Justin said:
<blockquote>

Say what you want, but its hard-pressed to find a conservative who disagrees with George Bush's policies. Instead, you hear general complaints about overspending, competence, and ability to get the good word out. But really, most conservatives like Bush and his policies, they just don't like the fact that Bush's policies are wildly unpopular and seen as/are failures. A natural, protective, disconnect allows them to say that they don't like or are ambivilant about Bush.
</blockquote>


Ace said:

<blockquote>
That doesn't mean they agree with him on many others. The conduct of the Iraq War was a debacle. The massive spending you deride is a BIG DEAL among core Republicans, who understand that it isn't just earmarks but increases in entitlement spending that lead to long term national debt, debt which plays a role in real interest rates. I also can't even begin to quantify how many Republicans who are infuriated with the number of incompetent people (Monica Goodling, Michael Brown) appointed to key positions.

Sure, there is a great deal of dissatisfaction about Bush's operational ability. Do you think Bush is good at selling Republican initiatives? I doubt the 3 Republicans in LA would agree with you. When you're debating whether it's a good idea to raise marginal tax rates -- an issue that whatever the economic merits has obvious potential for class warfare backlash -- you need a good salesman. That's why Republicans loved Reagan. He sold the program. Bush couldn't sell water in the desert. And yes, that matters in a presidency. It's a lesson Republicans should never again forget.

</blockquote>
9.9.2008 8:55pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
In fairness, Justin, "the conduct of the Iraq War was a debacle" and the claim that Republicans have appointed incompetents are things that many conservatives do not concede, and are clearly substantive criticisms of the Bush Administration.

What I don't agree with is Ace's claim that all conservatives believe these things.
9.9.2008 8:59pm
enjointhis:
Again, an interesting and thought-provoking discussion. I speak only to my own experiences, but Bush managed to drive me to change my political registration (restrictions on civil liberties, Gitmo, excessive spending). But the McCain/Palin ticket has actually quite re-energized me. Why? It may be a case of hearing only what I want to hear, but I was taken by many of Palin's political positions (i.e., what would you do as governor about abortion? I'd follow the legislature's decision). And while I live on the East Coast now, I grew up a lunch-bucket midwesterner and remember how I hated being condescended to. That's why I thought Obama's bitter guns &religion meme was toxic.
9.9.2008 9:00pm
Random Commenter:
Josh said: "For my part, for example, I would bhe interested to hear why you think TPM has become "shrill?"

From Josh Marshall over at TPM:
"On the stump, not a single word that comes out of her mouth -- or not a single word that the McCain folks put in her mouth -- is anything but a lie."

Do we need to look further to justify Orin's description?
9.9.2008 9:02pm
tarheel:

I hope I haven't contributed to it myself, and I apologize if I have, but personally I have found a lot of posts here rather shrill recently.

As one who has complained about the recent shift in tone, I can assure you that you have nothing to apologize for.

Also, dr, great comment above. Captured many of my thoughts exactly. The fact that you have not yet been torn apart gives me some hope.
9.9.2008 9:04pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
On the stump, not a single word that comes out of her mouth -- or not a single word that the McCain folks put in her mouth -- is anything but a lie.

The worst part about that statement isn't that it is shrill. It's that it has been said much more eloquently in the past.
9.9.2008 9:05pm
Dan M.:
Angus,

You're probably right. But Palin was connected to Stevens before that so she may have been in contact with him since she had been running his PAC before that. That's probably a stretch, though. Stevens would surely know, and he's supporting her version of the story. But from his point of view, he probably is considering back when he was trying to get the money rather than during the gubernatorial race when they were debating whether or not to actually build the bridge.

But, now it becomes a matter of the state already receiving the money long before she ever became governor. So she's probably not on record as supporting it while Stevens was petitioning for the money, but rather supporting it once they already had the money and she wanted the state government to keep its promise. Then she got into office and saw how truly wasteful it was and decided not to waste state money on the project even though they had a huge budget surplus, and didn't push Stevens to try to get more federal money for the project.

So, it looks like she probably never had anything to do with lobbying Stevens to get the money, and it's debatable whether you can say she killed the project or if it was killed before she got there.

But they could have started on the bridge, anyway. So there's little contradiction for her to say she killed it.

Honestly, I'm really stretching here. But I can't imagine that she wouldn't have some narrative that supports her position given that it's been contested online ever since she first uttered it in public. Otherwise the McCain campaign would have to be completely stupid to keep repeating it knowing there's a great chance she'll be asked about it in an interview. And it's bad enough that she probably has some offended constituents over the issue.
9.9.2008 9:08pm
Justin (mail):
Dilan,

No they aren't. If i was said that "Bush should have raised taxes in order to provide more resources for the Iraq war" or that "Bush should have appointed people who believed in science over religion," those would be substantive objections. These objections are simply ephemeral - they probably couldn't have explained anything Bush did particularly wrong in most instances. Indeed, these objections are protective - they allow themselves to detach themselves from Bush's results without having to change their minds as to their policies or philosophies, which align precisely with Bush.
9.9.2008 9:09pm
Justin (mail):
Dilan,

Also - think of what that means of the person with these criticisms of Bush who think Palin is their dream candidate. It means (assuming they are correct) that Palin will be JUST LIKE BUSH, only she'll be more articulate, less..corrupt isn't the right word, because Republicans do not believe Bush is corrupt...smarter in making appointments, and she'll magically be more successful at war-type stuff.
9.9.2008 9:12pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Justin:

I think your second point is better than your first. I can see the argument for McCain being less likely to screw up Iraq than Bush. (I don't buy it, I think he'd be more likely to screw it up, but I can see the argument.) And (before Palin), I can see the argument that he's less likely to appoint unqualified people.

But I don't see the argument that the choice of Palin signals these things. So there's a disconnect between what some conservatives are saying is wrong with the Bush Administration and what Palin represents.
9.9.2008 9:15pm
dr:

Also, dr, great comment above. Captured many of my thoughts exactly. The fact that you have not yet been torn apart gives me some hope.


Thanks, Tarheel, but I fear that that's just because most of the jackals are resting at the moment...
9.9.2008 9:18pm
Anderson (mail):
The McCain "sex ed" ad is interesting because, although the VC delights in vivisecting anti-GOP news articles, blog posts, whatever, here by contrast we have an ad put out by the McCain campaign itself, which is a demonstrable lie.

And because the VC bloggers mainly support McCain, we're not going to hear much about it here.

That's fine -- support whom you like -- but it changes one's image of the VC bloggers as "smart, objective lawyer guys" to "just more partisan bloggers."

I think it might have been advisable if the Conspiracy had eschewed straight-up political blogging, or spun off a temporary "The Volokh Campaign" site for 2008.

As it stands, bloggers like Prof. Kerr (whom I respect) are finding that their posts are arousing a lot more ire and conflict than previously ... because the nature of the blog has changed, and inseparably so does response to the blog.
9.9.2008 9:21pm
The General:
I see the Obots are out in full force today. These brainless mind-numb robots are suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome and simply aren't capable of thinking otherwise. They've convinced themselves that McCain, who basically is an enemy of Bush and certainly not a big booster of Bush's, is somehow a Bush clone. They're the same. Liberals simply cannot distinguish between two very different politicians.

Now, the Obots have devloped Palin Derangement Syndrome, and offshoot and, again, can't distinguish between Palin and Bush. Just because two people are both Christian and Republican doesn't make them the same. I don't expect the Obots to tell the difference, but adults shouldn't really pay these spoiled political children much attention, other than to ridicule their paranoia.
9.9.2008 9:25pm
tarheel:

I fear that that's just because most of the jackals are resting at the moment...

Indeed. You may awake tomorrow to a 300-comment thread and Bear Grylls eyeing your dismembered e-carcass.
9.9.2008 9:26pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Anderson:

I think that's unfair. The professors here are mostly right-libertarian types, with some ideological diversity but also some shared assumptions. Thus, they are going to be interested in certain things in this election. There's nothing wrong with that, nor are they obligated to post on things that don't interest them.

It also doesn't mean that when they do post on something-- even if the subject might grab their attention for ideological reasons-- that their conclusions are suspect. Their conclusions can be evaluated on their own merits. I read plenty on this site (and other sites) that I don't agree with, but I also read plenty of things I do agree with, including on topics that might have been selected because they are "conservative".

I don't really see what the grounds for complaint is. They post stuff, and if we don't agree with it, we can say why in the comments thread.
9.9.2008 9:26pm
Yankee Southerner (mail) (www):
I think the post boomer frame is good. This seems like a story where the feminist mother raises the child 'to do anything she wants.' Well she decides to go off to... and Mom says, 'OMG, you're going where (and leaving me too)!' [Curtain falls] We miss Chekhov.
9.9.2008 9:27pm
titus32:
I'm not sure you have much to worry about dr. -- reasonable comments often fly under the radar. For most, nuance is not interesting. The jackals go for the raw meat.

That said, I think you are completely full of [just kidding].
9.9.2008 9:27pm
Anderson (mail):
Now, the Obots have devloped Palin Derangement Syndrome, and offshoot and, again, can't distinguish between Palin and Bush.

Well, tell us the difference, then. Besides the genitals, height, and large home states.

What are Palin's differences from Bush? What policies does she advocate/oppose that he opposes/advocates?

Thanks in advance!
9.9.2008 9:28pm
Dan M.:
Palin supports teaching about contraception in schools. Bush does not. Palin seems to truly support the 2nd amendment, Bush does not.
9.9.2008 9:33pm
Perseus (mail):
For the last eight years, the Bush Administration has defined the GOP. The Bush Administration's tremendous emphasis on loyalty helped ensure that few if any successful GOP politicians could define themselves independently of the Administration. And with the Bush Administration unpopular for so long, it meant that there were few if any popular GOP politicians for the last eight years. There was no apparent farm team, no new generation of leaders to take over when the Bush Administration ended.

It seems to me that President Bush's power (like presidents in general) to prevent independent politicians from emerging was confined mainly to the executive branch: the vice-president and his cabinet. In what ways did he have an unusual degree of influence over Congress and state officials (particularly governors) that allowed him to filter out those deemed insufficiently loyal?
9.9.2008 9:34pm
Anderson (mail):
There's nothing wrong with that, nor are they obligated to post on things that don't interest them.

Missing my point, which I expressed badly it seems. The point is that the change in subject matter seems to carry with it an inevitable effect on the comments, which descend pretty much into name-calling and partisanship rather than discussion of ideas, which -- really -- used to be a strong feature of this blog.

It also doesn't mean * * * that their conclusions are suspect.

Did I say they were? McCain may be the better candidate (tho I rather doubt it), and I have enough Republican friends to be aware that GOP sympathies can be sincerely held.

Still, partisan is partisan, and this blog has Most. Definitely. Not. become an objective repository of critique of both sides of the political spectrum.

I don't really see what the grounds for complaint is.

I'm not "complaining"; I'm suggesting that the politicization of the blog has tended to change the blog in ways that, it appears to me, some of the bloggers themselves find unattractive. And I'm wondering if they themselves wouldn't have preferred a greater separation between "traditional" VC and "McCainobamapalinalia" VC. If I'm wrong about that, then I'm wrong.
9.9.2008 9:35pm
titus32:
As it stands, bloggers like Prof. Kerr (whom I respect) are finding that their posts are arousing a lot more ire and conflict than previously ... because the nature of the blog has changed, and inseparably so does response to the blog.

Actually, Anderson, I find the tone of your comment quite in keeping with your usual (i.e., non-election year) stuff. Congrats on the consistency!
9.9.2008 9:39pm
Anderson (mail):
Palin seems to truly support the 2nd amendment, Bush does not.

Ah, good. Bush doesn't support the 2d Amendment? Because DOJ went with the status quo in Heller?

As for teaching about contraception, that's good to hear - let's hope she continues to hold that position.

But since we're talking about candidates for the White House, I find those distinctions a bit trivial. The Second Amendment is going to mean what the Supreme Court says it means. Sex ed is not a federal program, that I'm aware of.

So differences like that lead me to suspect that the similarities are pretty large.
9.9.2008 9:40pm
The Ace (mail):
Ace, I know a number of Republicans and conservatives. Some certainly do share your opinions-- and I don't mean to say otherwise in my comments. But you'd be surprised how many people think that Bush has been a very good President on the things that matter to them (usually the war on terror, Iraq, tax cuts, and judges), and believe that many of the things that he is often criticized on (such as Katrina) are either invented or overblown by what they perceive as the liberal media.

Bush has been fantastic on the war, taxes, and judges.

You, nor anyone reading, can offer a substantive criticism about "Katrina"
So yes, that "criticism" (when you have no clue what FEMA or the federal government does during a disaster of course it is easy to "criticize") was always overblown.

Massively.
9.9.2008 9:41pm
Anderson (mail):
Actually, Anderson, I find the tone of your comment quite in keeping with your usual (i.e., non-election year) stuff. Congrats on the consistency!

Um ... thanks? (I thought I was being non-snarky, but perhaps the "Anderson" at the top of the comment affects the message in the box below.)
9.9.2008 9:42pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I think we are holding two Aces here.

Unfortunately, I think one of our opponents flopped a set.
9.9.2008 9:43pm
Anderson (mail):
You, nor anyone reading, can offer a substantive criticism about "Katrina"

Delightful to read, as always. I was heartened to see that, 4 years after 9/11, the federal government (and its "Department of Homeland Security") was so ready to deal with a city-threatening emergency. Heckuva job, one might say.
9.9.2008 9:44pm
The Ace (mail):
I was heartened to see that, 4 years after 9/11, the federal government (and its "Department of Homeland Security") was so ready to deal with a city-threatening emergency.

Again, when you have no clue what FEMA or the federal government does during a disaster of course it is easy to "criticize"

So, what you said was not a substantive criticism.
You wouldn't even know what one is.
9.9.2008 9:46pm
The Ace (mail):
the federal government (and its "Department of Homeland Security") was so ready to deal with a city-threatening emergency.

You couldn't list 3 things they are supposed to do that they did not do.
9.9.2008 9:49pm
dr:
With respect to Prof. Kerr, it strikes me as remarkable that the even-keeled, if admittedly persistent, Dilan was asked to stop commenting, while the consistently obnoxious The Ace and The General (among others) are not discouraged in any official way.

It's your party and your rules. It just strikes me as odd.
9.9.2008 9:49pm
Anderson (mail):
Again, when you have no clue what FEMA or the federal government does during a disaster of course it is easy to "criticize"

The tactic of announcing others' cluelessness, without demonstrating any clues oneself, is not effective rhetorically, though perhaps it amuses its perpetrator.

So, what you said was not a substantive criticism.
You wouldn't even know what one is.


Not from reading your comments, certainly.

Are we to glean, then, that in the post-9/11 era of a perfectly thinkable attack on an American city that could dwarf 9/11 itself -- a dirty bomb, say, or a tactical nuke -- we're to suppose that the federal government has no role to play? That it's up to each state to fend for itself?

If that's your position, please say so. It's okay -- be substantive.
9.9.2008 9:51pm
Anderson (mail):
while the consistently obnoxious The Ace and The General (among others) are not discouraged in any official way.

Prof. Kerr did reproach Ace for his personal attacks on another thread recently.
9.9.2008 9:52pm
The Ace (mail):

The tactic of announcing others' cluelessness, without demonstrating any clues oneself, is not effective rhetorically, though perhaps it amuses its perpetrator.


Is that like saying the federal government was not "prepared" for a disaster when a) you can't define prepared and b) you have no proof of this?

Sort of like that?

we're to suppose that the federal government has no role to play?

Who said this?

Again, you couldn't list 3 things they are supposed to do that they did not do in response to Katrina.
9.9.2008 9:55pm
The Ace (mail):
the federal government (and its "Department of Homeland Security") was so ready to deal with a city-threatening emergency.

List what they are supposed to do.

And the relevant regulations.

This will be illuminating...
9.9.2008 9:56pm
Hoosier:
" "county girl:
What's the difference between Palin and Muslim fundamentalists? Lipstick

(LINK TO JUAN COLE OP)"

Juan Cole? Ha ha! What a funny guy! That reminds me of another joke:

What's the difference between the UMich CMENAS and a cactus?

Anyone?

Anyone?
9.9.2008 9:57pm
Ace is Right:
Ha? Good grief. Don't strain yourself patting yourself on the back. Is it actually a surprise to you that Republicans support lower taxes and lower spending? How clever you are to point out for the masses that many Republicans agree with Bush on these issues. Shocking then that they would have voted for him -- twice no less? Pure genius.

Equally stunning, then, is that these Republicans might actually want someone else who takes Republican positions. Mind-blowing, right? Can't believe you broke this story!

So, let's recap. Bush supports many Republican ideas, and Republicans hope that the next president will also support those ideas.

Keep knocking those strawmen down. It's noble work you're doing.

Back to the real world. Our fundamental disagreement comes down to your premise that "overspending" does not represent a "policy." Probably didn't make a difference to the Soviet Union either, but hey, what's a few trillion dollars in government spending between friends? Bush has greatly increased discretionary spending, done nothing on entitlements, and failed to really tackle immigration. There was also that unfortuante Harriet Miers moment, which though you may chalk up as a management issue, to many Republicans, it became a glaring vote of no confidence that Alito's appointment never rectified.

Still, at the end of the day, if Republicans were voting between Bush and Obama, they'd choose Bush. Why? Because they are Republicans, and Bush is closer to them on issues than Obama is. But that doesn't mean that they would want Bush as President again. In a perfect world, you get someone who agrees with your policies AND can actually implement them in an effective way. Well, Bush is so-so at best on policy (horrible, horrible, horrible on spending, reckless with Court appointments) and in terms of management, he's even worse. Why wouldn't one complain about both?
9.9.2008 9:57pm
The Ace (mail):
The tactic of announcing others' cluelessness, without demonstrating any clues oneself, is not effective rhetorically, though perhaps it amuses its perpetrator.

Watching you be unable to respond with substance is entertaining.

However, you are utterly unaware of things like this:

# Access to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.

# The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.


Which follows this:

Federal DHS National Response Plan, Emergency Support Function #6 - Mass Care, Housing, and Human Services:
Under ESF #6, DHS and FEMA specifically name the American Red Cross as their "primary agency for mass care"
which coordinates the Federal mass care assistance in support of State and local mass care assistance."


I bet you knew all that already...
9.9.2008 10:00pm
Anderson (mail):
Ace, I am wasting time that I'm supposed to be spending writing about Medicare reimbursement, which initially seemed like a less attractive subject than this thread.

However, I will try to explain: what the feds were "supposed" to do was itself a subject for debate. If the feds had *not* secured authority, in 4 years after 9/11, to suspend the Posse Comitatus Act, impose federal control over a disaster area, and step up to the plate when local officials (such as the rather hapless Governor Blanco) were dithering ... then the feds had not done their job to coordinate a game plan for a major citywide disaster.

Had we lost a city to nuclear attack, or had a city been struck by a biological weapon, there doesn't seem to be any reason to suppose that the response would've been any more effective than was the response to Katrina.

THAT is what amazed me, when the power came back on at my house (Jackson MS) and I saw the tape of the people gathered at the convention center.

Now, as I said, Medicare is starting to seem more intellectually rewarding. I actually have a better chance of persuading the district court to overrule an administrative agency than I do of persuading any die-hard Bush fans.

Bon soir, citoyens.
9.9.2008 10:01pm
The Ace (mail):
Anderson,

Let me know when you want me to start quoting from the City of New Orleans Preparedness Plan which was summarily ignored by Mayor Nagin.

I'll be happy to do so.
9.9.2008 10:04pm
The Ace (mail):
If the feds had *not* secured authority, in 4 years after 9/11, to suspend the Posse Comitatus Act

Huh?

The Posse Comitatus Act is no barrier to federal troops providing logistical support during natural disasters. Nor does it prohibit the president from using the Army to restore order in extraordinary circumstances -- even over the objection of a state governor.

Wake me up when you stumble on a substantive criticism.
9.9.2008 10:08pm
dr:

Prof. Kerr did reproach Ace for his personal attacks on another thread recently.


In that case, I stand corrected -- I didn't see that when it happened. Though it clearly doesn't seem to have done any good.
9.9.2008 10:13pm
Hoosier:
Anderson

//As it stands, bloggers like Prof. Kerr (whom I respect) are finding that their posts are arousing a lot more ire and conflict than previously ... because the nature of the blog has changed, and inseparably so does response to the blog.//

My sense is that most of the 'noms de blog' (I can play along with this) that look familliar can play nice. Outside links (and Google searches?) are bringing in new names. Some I welcome. Many are partisan axe-grinders. And some, in addition to being axe-grinders, are just complete sweatbeetle-dickweeds.

I am sorry about the cuss-words what is up thar in that last sentence. But it's how I see it.

You are liberal. I am not. So you would like more criticsm of McCain and Palin. OK. But you are not irrational about it. I am not thrilled with the coverage of Obama in many other media, and I enjoy having the anti-Palin stuff discussed and challenged here.

But I read this blog even when I'm not in campaign mode. I don't take offense at the particularities of interest of the Conspirators, nor at their ideological inclinations. I am conservative, /not/ libertarian; I'm much more in the communitarian/CD camp in my social/economic philosophy than any of the Conspirators seem to be--right, left, or other. (You can take the boy out of Rome, but you can't take Rome out of the boy.)

The right/left distinction just doesn't hold on this blog in any comfortable way. Yet we have a two-party national election coming up, and we all have to take a side, or else be irrelevant. It doesn't surprise me that the Conspirators tend to fall more on the McCain side. This doesn't change the fact that they have more intellectual integrity that one finds in most other places. Or among the noobs who are shouting the loudest about how "biased this blog has become." (How would they even know what it was like a month ago?)

I hope you either stick around, or come back after November. I'm staying put, though I'm not engaging the the guys with big shoes and squeaky noses. I mean, except with my Wauvian wit. But that does go without saying, doesn't it?

Hope we see you around.
9.9.2008 10:19pm
Hoosier:
"Anderson (mail):
Ace, I am wasting time that I'm supposed to be spending writing about Medicare reimbursement, which initially seemed like a less attractive subject than this thread. "

I'd rather be taped to alley cats and thrown into the shower.
9.9.2008 10:21pm
The Ace (mail):
Are we to glean, then, that in the post-9/11 era of a perfectly thinkable attack on an American city that could dwarf 9/11 itself -- a dirty bomb, say, or a tactical nuke

This isn't comparable to Katrina.
And here is why:


But the city managed to avoid the worst of the worst. The Mississippi River did not breach New Orleans's famed levees to any serious degree, at least in part because Katrina veered 15 miles eastward of its predicted track just before landfall.

"We believe we were spared," said Jacquie Bauer, a spokesman for Jefferson Parish, La., which lies next to New Orleans. Still, she said, some rescue crews had come back saying "the damage was worse than anything they've seen before."


And,

Katrina Spares New Orleans as Storm Moves Across Mississippi


The original reporting on the matter turned out to be quite different than reality. It is doubtful that would be the case regarding a dirty bomb.
9.9.2008 10:25pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
The Posse Comitatus Act is no barrier to federal troops providing logistical support during natural disasters. Nor does it prohibit the president from using the Army to restore order in extraordinary circumstances -- even over the objection of a state governor.
In other words, it is fine for the federal government to invade any of the states whenever the president thinks there are extraordinary circumstances.

In any case, you have implicitly admitted that the governor of LA did not request help from the Federal government nor authorize federal troops to restore order there until well after it was too late, and well after his peers in adjoining states did. This is, of course, one reason that there is a new governor there now, who was far more proactive last week when it appeared that that state was going to get hit hard again.
9.9.2008 10:28pm
Random Commenter:
The Obama talking points today are obviously (1) McCain, Palin, Republicans are lying about everything, including what they ate for breakfast; (2) there's no difference between Palin and Bush; and (3) the onus is on the Republicans to point out where Palin and Bush differ in prefered policies.

Pretty good message discipline so far, other than Anderson. Tighten it up, buddy.
9.9.2008 10:29pm
LM (mail):
As usual Orin's take is much closer to my own than is Todd's (or generally the other VC bloggers').
9.9.2008 10:30pm
The Ace (mail):
Oh how I love trips down memory lane:


Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding.


And,

President Bush, as he readied the federal government for a massive relief effort, on Sunday urged people in the path of Hurricane Katrina to forget anything but their safety and move to higher ground as instructed.


But remember, Bush didn't care and was on vacation laughing about it all I'm sure.
9.9.2008 10:36pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
And there's no evidence of that, because, frankly, Sarah Palin hasn't even established that she's even THOUGHT about the major or less major issues facing the federal government.
...and...
One problem with Palin is that while she has been physically distant from Bush, ideologically her distance is like living next door to him.
That's right. We don't know anything about her (Dilan), but we know she's exactly the same as Bush (Aleks).

Can't you guys at least get the talking points straight?
9.9.2008 11:22pm
wolfefan (mail):
Hi -

David, what's the deal with the "talking points" thing re: Dilan and Aleks? I expect that from Smokey or The Ace, but you're usually better than that.

And in case Orin is still around, I second those who wonder why you suggest that Dilan beat it (when people are talking past each other, the fault if any lies with both) and do nothing about some of the other folks. You made one sternly worded post to The Ace, who said all the right things for an hour or two, but now seems to be slowly but surely moving back into his old ways...
9.9.2008 11:43pm
TokyoTom (mail):
Orin, I`d say this is pretty astute, even though this note is misdirected:

"For many Democrats, Palin's candidacy is a completely unfair effort to avoid holding the GOP accountable for its loyalty to George W. Bush."

I don`t think the "accountability" focus is so much on loyalty to Bush as it is on the behavior and results of Administration/GOP Congressional actions.

Even though I like McCain and Palin, I find it impossible to vote for them for precisely the need to hold Republicans accountable.

What`s interesting is how well Republicans good to be at ignoring and distancing themselves from Bush and the past 8 years - by reluctantly choosing "maverick" McCain as their presidential candidate, and then ecstatically falling all over themselves to embrace a post-Bush Palin who is clearly more conservative than McCain, and so can help Republicans further pretend that they are running against a government that they themselves grossly mismanaged.

Who`s fooling whom?
9.9.2008 11:43pm
Darrin Ziliak:
Palin supports teaching about contraception in schools. Bush does not. Palin seems to truly support the 2nd amendment, Bush does not.


Indeed.
Those are pluses in my eyes.

The sole real problem I have with Governor Palin* is her demonstrated tendency to use her power to fire people ('troopergate' and the librarian and police chief in Wasilla) who disagree with her politically.

The remaining reservations have more to do with what we don't know about her, policy wise, than any suspicion she's George Bush with lipstick.

I have a reasonable idea where Joe Biden is on most issues.
Sarah Palin, not so much.




*I don't know enough to determine whether or not she's 'over the line' as far as religious fundamentalism goes, so that's not an issue.
9.9.2008 11:45pm
Dan M.:
The reason that I say Bush doesn't support the 2nd amendment is because he pushed for the No Fly list to become the No Guns list. There's no way in hell that I want it entirely at the discretion of any attorney general to put someone on a terrorist watch list, deny them their 2nd amendment rights, and then never give them a chance to challenge it, while never charging them with a crime.

Palin, on the other hand, actually had the nerve to stand up and say that law enforcement exemptions are unfair with regard to gun ownership prohibitions. Even if her anger at her ex brother in-law was the reason for that, if she really is sincere in that belief now, I think that's great. I'd love to make cops subject to the same rules as the rest of us, then maybe they'd step out of the Brady Camp.

Also, regarding Palin and the Bridge to Nowhere, the Alaska Democratic Party's website has taken down a page crediting her with killing the project.
9.9.2008 11:52pm
libertarian soldier (mail):
She field dresses moose, played hockey, went to the PTA, wears lipstick and glasses, has a child deploying to Iraq, vetoed gay marriage ban and wanted oil companies to pay more.
I vote for anti-Bush.
9.9.2008 11:52pm
TJIT (mail):
To me it looks like the current governing culture (on the part of the republicans and democrats) in Washington is completely corrupt, dysfunctional, and counterproductive.

I think a lot of the enthusiasm for Palin from the libertarian / leave me the hell alone / good government folks is the hope that getting someone who has not been immersed in the dysfunctional Washington culture might be the only way to break reboot things and make national governance a little less dysfunctional.
9.10.2008 12:00am
XXX Fredrik Nyman (mail):
After reading through the comments, I think that Professor Kerr, Dilan Esper and Clastrenster are on to something.

The way I see it, Palin, to a large extent, not just represents but even personifies things liberals dislike about small-town rural America: conservative social values, evangelical Christian faith, likes hunting, guns and Wal-Mart.

Between that and the political issues that Prof. Kerr identified, I can certainly see how many Democrats feel their buttons pushed, hard.
9.10.2008 12:02am
DiversityHire:
what causes such strong reactions to her on both sides — is that she is a post-Bush politician rather than a post-Boomer politician.

Or both. Palin is interesting to me because she's a post-boomer conservative (who probably rocked-out to Bon Jovi's Wanted: Dead or Alive in her Camaro in the 80s) who was selected because she's post-Bush. Same with Obama: he's interesting to me because he's a post-boomer liberal (who seems like more of an English Beat in a Honda Prelude kind of guy), he won the primary because he's a post-Clinton Democrat. The pre-Clinton, pre-Bush, pre-boomer halves of their respective tickets aren't change—they're more of the same.

By selecting Palin, McCain made his campaign the mirror image of Obama's—essentially affirming Obama's embrace of "change". So now, there's a race on &the rhetoric is flying on both sides. Makes for interesting blog-reading when everybody plays nice and doesn't carpet bomb the place with tired talking points.
9.10.2008 12:14am
Anderson (mail):
The way I see it, Palin, to a large extent, not just represents but even personifies things liberals dislike about small-town rural America: conservative social values, evangelical Christian faith, likes hunting, guns and Wal-Mart.

I would just add that the very faults that Dems have pointed to -- her inexperience, her lack of policy depth -- appeal to one of the deepest American fantasies: the politician who isn't really a politician.

Obama plays that angle as well, but he's obviously an ambitious policy wonk. Palin thus far (due partly to her newness on the national scene) is able to seem much more like a Regular Person And Not One of Those Terrible Politicians.

-- Done for the night with Medicare, and the obvious virtues of section 413.40(c)(4)(iii) as opposed to the invidious nature of section 413.40(c)(4)(ii). Thank god the filing deadline is tomorrow and I will have to stop working on this.
9.10.2008 12:22am
DiversityHire:
the dirty little secret is that a lot of the Republican base still thinks Bush was a very good President

At the close of the Clinton administration, I think even the Democrats were tired of Clinton. Perhaps because of the utter exhaustion of having to defend him against the Republicans experiencing Clinton Derangement Syndrome. That's how I feel about Bush, he's a good president but it's exhausting dealing with his image in the media. Its boring hearing the same-old, same-old. Anybody but Bush &what passes for analysis, insight, and humor has to be a little bit refreshed, right? Please.
9.10.2008 12:23am
DiversityHire:
If we're going to clone a Bush, can it be this one
9.10.2008 12:27am
fullerene:

I think a lot of the enthusiasm for Palin from the libertarian / leave me the hell alone / good government folks is the hope that getting someone who has not been immersed in the dysfunctional Washington culture might be the only way to break reboot things and make national governance a little less dysfunctional.



I think that pretty accurately captures what is going on here. People this go round feel that some pretty radical measures need to be taken to fix a broken system. Whatever people think of her, Palin is offering hope to a lot of people. The only issue I take with this view is that our problem is one of a broken system rather than a corrupted culture. When people stop giving their representatives high marks for the very same activities that they complain about more generally, we may be able to solve this problem.
9.10.2008 12:29am
js5 (mail):
Darrin,

here's a clip about her church; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5K_1Eit0pxM

make your own conclusions.
9.10.2008 12:33am
Mike Keenan:
Well, this thread has passed its usefulness, but I don't think this field was weaker than before. 2000 had Bush and McCain. 2008 had Romney and McCain (and Guiliani and Thompson). I would rate 2008 stronger. 1996 had a weaker field than 2008 as well.
9.10.2008 12:36am
OrinKerr:
Re postings by the Ace and The General,

I have deleted a bunch of their comments and given warnings before, but I haven't seen their recent contributions. Can someone point to their more recent contributions that are offensive? (Sorry I seem to have missed some stuff: I had the nerve to go out to dinner, so I missed much of the thread.)
9.10.2008 12:38am
DiversityHire:
Mike, I think the Republican field felt especially weak because the Democratic primaries were contested down to the end. Romney and Giuliani and Thompson weren't on display in the kind of see-saw battle that the Democrats had going. I heard a bunch of complaints that the Democrats had screwed-up by not doing the winner-take-all thing, but I think their structure produced a much more interesting, involving, and informational race that ultimately made Obama a more formidable candidate. This has been the most interesting presidential election of my lifetime, I hope it continues that way.
9.10.2008 12:45am
omarbradley:
diversity,

you mentioned her rocking out to wanted:dead or alive back in the 80s. Are you aware that the middle name of her new son Trig is Van, as in Van Palin. And yes, she said she chose it deliberately.

Apparently, she was also rocking out to Panama, Jump and Hot For Teacher
9.10.2008 1:36am
pwedza (mail):
Post Bush?! Bush Clone? Interesting.

Have you ever really been to a Red State Professor Kerr? I see from your wiki profile that you got to D.C. from Delaware via Princeton, Stanford, and Harvard. Have you ever spent a significant amount of time in a rural enclave in a Red State? If you had, Palin would be no real surprise to you.

I'm from East Tennessee - a place where there are Palins left and right (male and female). Just like in many parts of Red America. Been to South Dakota recently?

Palin is what Bush was just pretending to be - which is ultimately a narrow-minded, righteous bumpkin - who, if it was up to her, would certainly drive this country farther down than her predecessor.

I would just say that Bush - a President who the American public, and it seems his own party, generally deems a failure - simply paved the way for a Palin on the national scene, to warm all of our hearts.
9.10.2008 2:36am
LM (mail):
Ace is Right:

If the "real Republicans" who make up 25 to 30% of the electorate don't support Bush, which 25 to 30% of the electorate is rating his job performance "favorable?" It ain't the Democrats. Do you think it's the liberal wing of the Republican party, many of whom are pro-choice, pro-diplomacy, anti-Iraq War? Unlikely, but even if they do contribute their share, you can't make the numbers add up without a lot of Bush's support coming from the base.
9.10.2008 3:05am
LM (mail):
Hoosier:

I'd rather be taped to alley cats and thrown into the shower.

An intriguing idea, but I wonder, "Would it work?"
9.10.2008 3:09am
OrinKerr:
pwedza asks:
Have you ever really been to a Red State Professor Kerr? I see from your wiki profile that you got to D.C. from Delaware via Princeton, Stanford, and Harvard. Have you ever spent a significant amount of time in a rural enclave in a Red State? If you had, Palin would be no real surprise to you.
Pwedza, Palin is no real surprise to me. As for how Bush cleverly set up Palin, I'm afraid I'm too much of simple American beer-drinkin guy to see how.
9.10.2008 3:49am
David Warner:
Dilan,

"the dirty little secret is that a lot of the Republican base still thinks Bush was a very good President."

This is true, but beside the point. The shriveled husk of a base on display at the RNC would be lucky to elect a dog catcher. It is the former Republicans whom Bush (or I would argue, Rove - I know several who left because of the crateloads of pushy direct mail) drove out of the party who are the crucial element. Palin pushes several of their buttons, and many of them have known about and advocated for her for much longer than two weeks.
9.10.2008 4:05am
David Warner:
Orin,

Josh is, and has ever been, the consummate Machiavel. This is a value-neutral statement - it just is. He is currently shrill because he has little time to destroy Palin before her public image becomes somewhat set. He is doing so for the same reason Atwater tried to take down Clinton.

As an anti-Machiavel, I've made my feeble attempts to counter both, but they're way out of my league.
9.10.2008 4:11am
jgshapiro (mail):
I agree with Orin on one of the causes of Democratic angst: they really want to tie the GOP ticket to Bush and Cheney, but they are running against one candidate who is widely known to have diverged from Bush on many things -- and who appears to barely be able to stand him -- and another candidate who has probably never met Bush outside of a Governor's lunch and who has no connection to his administration whatsoever. I think this is very frustrating for them. They want this election to be about accountability for the last 8 years, but how do you ask the American people to hold people accountable who are hard to tie to the problem?

I don't think that is the only reason Palin pushes so many Dem buttons, though. The problem with the accountability strategy for Obama would have also occurred had McCain picked other VP prospects who are difficult to tie to the Bush administration (e.g., Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney or John Kasich), but I don't think you would have seen the same reaction as you are seeing with Palin.

Another reason is that the Dems wanted to be the pathbreaking ticket and now that card is off the table. Whatever happens in November, either ticket will break new barriers demographically. This may not seem like a big deal to the GOP but I think it really is a big deal to the Dems. I think they were counting on the historic nature of the ticket to sway some fence-sitters in their favor. Much of their rhetoric during the primaries was about the historic ticket of Obama, but now both tickets are historic. And obviously, the Palin pick pokes at a wound that was just beginning to heal between the Obama partisans and the HRC partisans (whether or not the HRC partisans are willing to vote for McCain because of the addition of Palin).

Relatedly, Palin provides a role model for a conservative brand of feminism. I think some Dems were very invested in the meme that advancement for women or equality for women was inextricably entwined with liberalism, so that feminism/gender equality was actually a subset of liberalism. See, for example, this tirade in the New Republic just a day or two ago. Palin explodes this narrative just by existing. In the same way as Clarence Thomas proved you don't have to embrace liberalism to support black equality or to get ahead as an african american man (and encountered the same outrage), Palin proves you don't have to embrace liberalism to support women's equality or get ahead as a woman.

Finally, there is the marketing aspect of the Palin pick: Palin is sexy. Not in a sexual way, but as a candidate. Whatever you think of her values and positions, she is charming and well spoken and tough and humorous and everymom. In a campaign where Obama was supposed to be the sexy, cool candidate and McCain the stodgy, boring one, Obama supporters are seeing their celebrity bubble burst as attention shifts to Palin, and by extension, McCain. Given the expectation that McCain would pick a VP from a roster of boring cyphers, Dems are now up against a phenomenon every bit as big as Obamamania.
9.10.2008 6:59am
The Ace (mail):
Re postings by the Ace and The General,

Um, Orin, here is an example:

Until then, I'll assume that you're simply a dishonest shit unworthty of further consideration.


Why do you think you let it slip that people respond to my posts like that, but delete my when I never use profanity?
9.10.2008 10:28am
josh:
Prof Kerr:

Re: your response to my comment:

Nonetheless, I appreciate your participation, and, minus some minor missteps, this still is the best blog going. Keep up the good work, and don't be a stranger to the comments section.
9.10.2008 12:20pm
just me (mail):
I join Mike Keenan in being interested in the strength of the GOP field, and not the bridge debate (The Debate to Nowhere?). I think the issue gets muddled because of differences between weighing them on experience/resume, or on policy/ideology, or on style or independence from Bush, etc.

The 2008 field was pretty strong on resume power -- McCain of course, and Romney had Gov and the whole Olympics/business background, and while mayors are disparaged, I think NYC is distinct (bigger than many states). Huck was similar to Clinton, of course.

Contrast that to the Dems -- they had long resume guys, but they all tanked first (Biden, Dodd, Richardson). Obama of course is thin, and so was Edwards, and Hillary, in my view, was actually darn weak, too.

It turns out that many GOP rank-and-file disliked the whole field, while many Dems loved several in their field. That difference does not reflect disappointment on "experience," but the GOP folks were upset that (1) on policy, everyone seemed to sell out the old Reagan gospel in major ways (Giuliani on social, Huck on economic, McCain on a bit of everything) and (2) they were upset at Bush's freefall destruction of the GOP brand and that no one in the field knew how to address it.

In my view, that assessment of the field ties in with my view of Prof. Kerr's point about Bush messing up all the other GOPers. Bush's biggest problems have been management or process -- the stubbornness, the secretive executive branch, etc. But most of his actual policies have not been that upsetting to the base, and here's the kicker -- not that upsetting to Americans, either. People will tell pollsters they're unhappy, but ask them whether they prefer Policy X or Y, and they're not far off from him. Democrats will dispute this, but their actions speak louder than words. Enough of them signed on to FISA updates, MCA, etc., not to mention the original Iraq War authorization and Patriot Act.

The policies that actually bother people, like overspending, are ones where a lot of America is with the GOP grassroots in wanting something more conservative. Even the Democrats admit that by talking about big deficits, as opposed to saying that those deficits would be fine if only we'd spent the money on health care instead of Iraq (their real view, I suspect).

That's why "voting 90% with Bush" might or might not work. If McCain's image separates him from the mismanagement, but no one minds the policies so much, he wins. The "McSame" line works only if people stay blurry on what they dislike about Bush.
Bush's mismanagement and high-handedness tarred the policies
9.10.2008 12:41pm
David Warner:
Orin,

Palin isn't so much post-Bush as she is post-DeLay, post-Lott, and most importantly post-Rove. As I've pointed out before, she is less beholden to the Republican machine than any candidate since Eisenhower. If she retains the public support she has so far engendered, she will have tremendous influence over the party, without having to worry about alienating those within its ranks responsible for the destruction of the brand. As will a President McCain also freed from such worries.

Which gets to why this blog has been so energetic in defending her. Whose moose ox might be most gutted gored by the sudden mass appeal of this diminutive Corsican Lieutenant Alaskan Mayor? Given McCain-Feingold and Palin's signature issue on her rise to power, do you not think there is some concern that McPalin's first hundred days could include aerial wolf hunting on a certain street named "K"?

As libertarians in the American tradition of representative government, do we not have an obligation to prevent such malevolent forces from silently taking down those who dare to openly oppose them, to represent our shared interests over against their particular ones?

Obama's demonstrated go along/get along approach presents much less of a threat.
9.10.2008 3:41pm
TokyoTom (mail):
David, are you suggesting that McCain and Palin are Paultards, and that the pork barrel power structure in DC is amasssing to keep them out?

While I certainly hope the former is true, I see little evidence of any sincere reform agenda. While the rent-seeking community may be shifting somewhat to the Dems, what conspiracy are you talking about?
9.11.2008 3:24am
David Warner:
"While I certainly hope the former is true, I see little evidence of any sincere reform agenda. While the rent-seeking community may be shifting somewhat to the Dems, what conspiracy are you talking about?"

No conspiracy is necessary. They're lobbyists. They convince for a living. I'm saying that given her record it is in their clear interest to destroy Palin, and that likewise it is in our clear interest to defend her from that destruction. I'm voting for Obama this go round, but I want to have Palin around to clean up the mess his friends will undoubtedly make.
9.11.2008 3:44am
David Warner:
Evidence. Evidence. She's not your father's conservative, in more ways than one.

There's more out there, but K Street and friends are flooding the zone.
9.11.2008 4:15am
Lucas Seibert (mail):
"...there are a lot of suspicions among Democrats that Palin is just a Bush clone. I understand the meme, but I don't see the evidence that backs that up."

While I agree she is post-Bush in terms of her relationship to the power structure that has been defining the GOP brand for the last eight years, I think that the meme has more of a basis in fact than you are acknowledging.

What we have in Bush and Palin are two politicians who are coming from a position of relative inexperience and based on the ABC interview, I would say a significant gap in knowledge of world affairs. Both are possessed of a certain cult of personality based around their status as "just like your average Joe (or Jane as it were)". Both gloss over past misdeeds and poor decisions by repeating blatant falsehoods until they are adopted as common knowledge. (Bush's efforts in this area are well documented, Sarah Palin's less so. In this regard I am speaking primarily to her opinion on earmarks, her position on the Bridge to Nowhere and most recently the questionable talking point of her considered book banning.) Finally, we have two politicians driven by an intense effort to surround themselves with people seen as loyal to them, which was the basis of the premise post-Bush politician. I think it is fair to say that there is a strong argument for there being a "post-Palin" politician in the next election, if she and McCain were to achieve victory. To me, this speaks volumes of some of the similarities between Bush and Palin.

So in closing, do I think she is a carbon-copy of Bush? Certainly not. At the same time, I think many of the character flaws which have plagued the Bush presidency are covertly hinted at, if not overtly shown for all to see in the character of Palin.

Just my two bits.
9.13.2008 2:43pm