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McCain Blows It:

For whatever it's limited worth, I thought McCain had a few opportunities to do some real damage tonight, and basically blew it. For example, on the Ayers issue, if McCain was going to use it at all, once Obama acknowledged that he and Ayers served on a foundation board together, McCain could have come back with Obama's quote from his debate with Hilary, in which he suggested that Ayers was just some guy who lived in the neighborhood, and only then added that Obama had either his first, or one of his first, fundraising get-togethers in Ayers' home. That would have reinforced McCain's point about the issue being Obama's forthrightness with the American people.

When McCain challenged Obama on whether he has ever gone against the party leadership, he could have followed up by pointing out Obama's 100% liberal voting record in the Senate. (Surprising that the "L" word hasn't come up in this campaign, given that the percentage of American's calling themselves liberals is still rather low.)

When Obama discussed his very limited relationship with ACORN, McCain could have noted that it's been well-documented from ACORN's own contemporaneous web publications that Obama worked closely with ACORN over the years--again, hammering on "forthrightness."

When Obama defended increasing taxes by referring to Warren Buffet, McCain could have pointed out that Buffet's income is almost all from capital gains, and that Buffet started out with inherited wealth. By contrast, many entrepreneurs who work their way up from nothing will face marginal state and federal tax rates of almost 60%. McCain could have then challenged Obama to defend the proposition that someone who works 80 hours a week, creating jobs for the community should "spread the wealth" to that extent--my recollection from polls I've seen is that only a tiny fraction of Americans think taxes should be that high for anyone. I can think of a few more examples, but you get the idea.

On the other hand, I thought McCain was effective when he pointed out that he isn't President Bush, and when he called Obama "Senator Government," even if that was inadvertent. But, in general, McCain just isn't able to rattle off the kind of detailed critique that could throw Obama off his game, while Obama plays an excellent defense.

UPDATE: Jennifer Rubin has a similar, but more detailed, analysis.

FURTHER UPDATE: Here are Obama's exact words about ACORN, from the debate transcript: "The only involvement I've had with ACORN was I represented them alongside the U.S. Justice Department in making Illinois implement a motor voter law that helped people get register (sic) at DMVs." It's all over the blogs, with links to sources, that Obama was a trainer for ACORN. The Obama campaign itself changed its "Fight the Smears" website from stating "Fact: Barack was never an ACORN trainer and never worked for ACORN in any other capacity," to "Fact: ACORN never hired Obama as a trainer, organizer, or any type of employee." That's an implicit acknowledgment that Obama worked for/with, but was never officially "hired" by, ACORN. It was a pretty brazen, and seemingly unnecessary, lie by Obama, but McCain didn't call him on it.

And how about this for the relevance to McCain's campaign: "We are going through a terrible economic crisis that few Americans understand. American will have to trust their leaders when we propose solutions to this crisis. We are still engaged in a 'War on Terror' that necessarily involves secret intelligence work and covert action, and that requires the American people to trust their president. If Barack Obama can't be forthright about [Ayers, ACORN, his position on gun control pre-2008, and so on], how can Americans trust him on the economic crisis and issues of life and death."

Note that I don't think that Obama is necessarily less trustworthy than McCain, and I, in fact, don't trust either of them, or any "political leader." McCain, however, does have the advantage of having a (perhaps undeserved) reputation for straight talk, while Obama has a Clintonian lawyerly way of evading difficult questions, and, for that matter, he also tends to pass the buck to subordinates when people point out that he took some rather non-mainstream positions in his legislative campaigns. If McCain were a more effective campaigner, he could be taking better advantage of this dynamic.

Robby (mail) (www):
"McCain just isn't able to rattle off the kind of detailed critique that could throw Obama off his game, while Obama plays an excellent defense."

McCain: 894/899 U.S. Naval Academy
Obama: President, Harv. L. Rev.

What do you expect?
10.16.2008 12:10am
J. Aldridge:
Maybe he didn't have to do anything. Word on the street is there will be a Obama surprise next week. Surprises are never good for a candidate.

P.S. What is the problem with Obama in providing his original long form birth certificate?
10.16.2008 12:10am
J. Aldridge:
DRUDGE Poll on who won (for what it is worth):

MCCAIN 73% 65,429 votes
OBAMA 25% 22,482 votes
10.16.2008 12:12am
Malthus:
Reasons to vote for Obama: SCOTUS nominations (but only regarding abortion rights and gridlock, not "I feel your pain.")
Reasons to vote for McCain: gridlock with Congress, school choice, healthcare, international trade, energy, spending reduction, tax reduction.

The worst that can happen under Obama: new interminable socialist programs, tax increases, less school choice and dumber young folk, welfare spending, "spreading around" of wealth, reduced travel and work rights of Americans, stupid energy policy.

The worst that can happen under McCain: women will have to look to the states for their abortion rights, as they did pre-Roe, and a unified SCOTUS that will end up making us all genuflect, especially those 95% who are in prison for sex and drug crimes and for not realizing that Amerika is a Christian country.

No contest.
10.16.2008 12:12am
loki13 (mail):
I think it goes beyond your analysis.

Despite McCain's obvious dislike for Obama, he is still a person of (some) integrity. I think he simply feels uncomfortable with the personal attacks. He realizes how insubstantial the charges are, but also feels pressured to raise them. His body language is all off- plus, if he goes too negative, it appeals to the base (such as you) but turns off the people still undecided he needs to win.

It was close to a no-win situation. As you point out, McCain needed an Obama stumble; I think he realizes at this point that going entirely negative wouldn't win the election and would lose what's left of his reputation. However, he isn't good at articulating the positive parts of his platform that are relevant to the American People now (domestic issue). He gave a halfway decent answer on corporate taxes, which is tough to defend in this format . . . but absent a major Obama gaffe, this was unwinnable debate.

And Obama plays great defense.
10.16.2008 12:15am
byomtov (mail):
Word on the street is there will be a Obama surprise next week.

Yeah. Word on the street. Tough guy. Knows what's going down. And so forth.
10.16.2008 12:15am
wolfefan (mail):
If McCain had pushed hard on ACORN, it might have given Obama an opportunity to quote McCain's warm words of thanks for that same organization back when they were on his side in the immigration debate...

BTW, wasn't it just a year or two ago that immigration was going to be the big domestic issue in the campaign? Obviously the economy has had to replace that, but even before the economy went south there was no mention at all of immigration... probably since they essentially agree and so neither has anything to gain...
10.16.2008 12:16am
A Conservative Teacher (mail) (www):
I think you're being too negative. McCain did some things well- as I talk about on my blog, he got Obama to admit that he cares more about solidarity with labor leaders in Columbia than helping America with free trade. He got Obama to admit that he wants judges who rule based on fairness for the 'average guy', not judges who make rulings based on the law and the Constitution. And Obama talked over and over about spending.

McCain did miss chances, but don't give Obama credit for a tie- being present is not qualification for being President.
10.16.2008 12:16am
BookMan:
I'm truly surprised by your analysis. I thought tonight, without exception, was McCain's best performance.
10.16.2008 12:16am
loki13 (mail):
J. Aldridge-

I think there is a telephone poll for the 1932 election that is calling your Drudge report. You might want to check out the poll results coming out from undecided voters. I have yet to see anything less than a 10 point Obama win, an the CBS snap of undecideds is Obama 53, McCain 22.
10.16.2008 12:17am
J. Aldridge:
loki13, CBS like CNN is a leftist hangout, no surprise with the results.
10.16.2008 12:19am
EricPWJohnson (mail):
Obama's very smooth - he win by just showing up

Except perhaps at the polls

McCains made the three week agrument front and center

Senator Government Senator Taxes, Senator spending

Its going to hit - also no one believes a 95% tax cut coming from a democrat
10.16.2008 12:20am
loki13 (mail):
Also-

CNN poll: Obama 58, McCain 31

MediaCurves Independents: Obama 60, McCain 30

I happen to think this was a better McCain performance, but Obama did what he needed to do. He made people feel comfortable voting for him.
10.16.2008 12:20am
DavidBernstein (mail):
I'm certainly not "the base." And if you're going for undecided voters, they are typically the most ignorant of voters, so VALID attacks on character are actually effective, because they are easily understood. I don't think Obama is a bad person (at least for a politician), but he does have a record of disclaiming responsibility for, or even dissembling about, things that voters would find unattractive; from his ridiculous claim that he wasn't aware of policy positions that he signed when he was running for state legislature, to his relationships with Ayers and Wright, to his position on gun control and so on. Given McCain's "straight talk" reputation, it's perfectly legitimate for him to make this a campaign issue, but to do so, you have to have the facts memorized, and be able to recount them smoothly and effectively, which seems beyond McCain's abilities.
10.16.2008 12:20am
loki13 (mail):
J. Aldridge,

I would be happy to see an actual poll of undecideds, as opposed to a a self-selected 'vote on Drudge' poll. Do you have a Dailykos poll you'd like to use too?
10.16.2008 12:22am
J. Aldridge:
loki13, Haven't them "undecided" voters that have shown up at Obama debates been outed as Dem operatives?
10.16.2008 12:22am
J. Aldridge:
loki13, Drudge was purely pointed out because of the sheer number of votes cast and because it it is a favorite site of both sides.
10.16.2008 12:24am
Melancton Smith:
Very big missed opportunity to nail Obama on the 2nd Amendment when he allowed him to dance around the 2nd Amendment when discussing justices: can't allow States to legislate away important rights like the 1st Amendment, and uh, other amendments.

Blah. All McCain showed tonight is that he can just barely argue his way out of paper bag...but that is it.

He is definitely a one-bagger presidential candidate. Wait, can I not say that? lol.
10.16.2008 12:26am
anonxyz (mail):
the man who quotes a drudge report poll questions the validity of undecided voter polls from cnn and cbs? give me a break. btw, the fox news poll showed similarly lopsided results in favor of obama. care to pull your fingers out of your ears now?
10.16.2008 12:26am
ronbailey (www):
@BookMan:

It was McCain's best debate, without doubt. He still got his ass kicked, regardless.
10.16.2008 12:26am
Senkel H.:
@DavidBernstein: I'm certainly not "the base."
Would that make you some kind of an [gasp] elitist?
10.16.2008 12:27am
llamasex (mail) (www):
Buffett supports raising taxed on himself and people like him. In fact he is quite famous for saying his secretary pays a higher % of taxes than he does and that is quite unfair.
10.16.2008 12:28am
Vermando (mail) (www):
Interesting points. On a more meta-level, character, "he's a liberal", and taxes are just not enough to get it done this year for a Republican.
10.16.2008 12:28am
Joshua:
I don't know what's going on inside McCain's head - whether he thinks he's already beaten, or whether he's belatedly realized he's physically not up to the job of POTUS anymore, or whether he just doesn't really want the job anymore. Whatever it is, McCain doesn't look like a presidential candidate anymore. He looks like someone going through the motions of running for president.

With the financial crisis looming, McCain has to give voters a damn good reason not to punish him for the sins of his fellow Republicans. That may be too tall an order to begin with, but after seeing him in the last couple of debates I can't tell if he's even trying anymore. I have my problems with Obama (actually more with the prospect of Dems controlling both the White House and Congress), but at least he still looks like he wants the job, understands it and is enthusiastic about it. McCain, not so much.
10.16.2008 12:28am
J. Aldridge:
anonxyz, I wasn't aware FOX provided a poll.
10.16.2008 12:31am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I have my problems with Obama (actually more with the prospect of Dems controlling both the White House and Congress), but at least he still looks like he wants the job, understands it and is enthusiastic about it. McCain, not so much.
Considering the mess the next President will have to clean up, perhaps this shows McCain's good sense.
10.16.2008 12:32am
second history:
. . . . women will have to look to the states for their abortion rights, as they did pre-Roe . . .

I hope not. What this country should have is a complete ban on abortions. This mealy-mouth idea of prosecuting doctors, but not women, is ridiculous. If the killing of an unborn child is murder, then the person who instigated the killing is just as guilty. If abortion is wrong for the Federal government, it should be wrong for the states. Where is the courage of our convictions?
10.16.2008 12:33am
b:
i think if you're aware of the issues and can spot all of obama's holes and weaknesses, not to mention his outright lies, you feel like mccain had a bad night.

but if you're a little less in tune with all of the talking points and blog debates, you'll think that mccain did a better job tonight of presenting an agenda and highlighting some of the candidate's disagreements.

but it's definitely frustrating watching mccain let obama off the hook time and again...can't help but think of how the other candidates would've cleaned up tonight...
10.16.2008 12:33am
Cold Warrior:
I was surprised by the insta-polls showing Obama the runaway winner. I thought McCain got the better of him tonight. (And this from a libertarian who will be voting for Obama.)

That said, Bernstein is right: McCain whiffed on a few softballs lobbed his way. I will vote for Obama with a fair degree of trepidation, mostly because I know he will be supported by a an iron-clad majority in the House and very close to a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. That worries me, and I don't think McCain drove that home (did he even mention it?)
10.16.2008 12:33am
loki13 (mail):
Drudge appeals to both sides?

Is this sort of like how Fox is fair and balanced?

Wow, I give you three separate actual for real polls, and you try to peddle that? Yo truly need to get out more.

TO clarify: among all CNN viewers, Obama won 58-31, among indies, Obama won 57-31. If anyone can find a real poll showing less than a 10 point Obama win, I'd be all ears.
10.16.2008 12:33am
SecurityGeek:
I'm certainly not "the base."

I literally laughed coffee onto my laptop when I read this.

I believe your continuous repetition of Sean Hannity's talking points on any otherwise respectable blog proves otherwise, Professor.

Acorn and Ayers are done as issues in this election. The biggest benefit of these "scandals" was that very few people understood the details of them so Republicans could push the relationship to the limit with "Pallin' Around with Terrorists" and McCain could darkly hint about "knowing the full extent of the relationship". Obama's answer was reasoned and calm, and seems much more believable to non-Fox viewers than the idea that Obama hangs out with terrorists. Just due to the relative audience sizes of the debate versus cable news I think this answer will stick a lot longer with voters than the accusations.

The real damage to McCain isn't just that these attacks have raised his negatives, it's the opportunity cost of not talking about the pain of voters and starting to eat away at Obama's lead on economic issues.

There's no reason that the Democrat has to be the most trusted candidate on the economy in the race, just as Republican's don't automatically get defense as their issue. I think people's feelings on the relative strengths of the parties is more fluid than the MSM talking heads will ever admit. McCain gave Obama two bye weeks to own the economy while he "pal'd around" with useless claims. oops.
10.16.2008 12:34am
DeoVindice:
LOL! Obama got absolutely destroyed. I love it how the lefties are following the "messiah" talking points that he distributed prior to the debate.

Obama was on the defensive the entire time. McCain exposed Senator Government for the marxist that he is.
10.16.2008 12:34am
DavidBernstein (mail):
@DavidBernstein: I'm certainly not "the base."
Would that make you some kind of an [gasp] elitist?

There's nothing wrong with being an elitist if you are actually elite, but that's not what I meant. I meant I'm not a member of the Republican base. In fact, I'm someone who needs persuading to vote for the Republican candidate.
10.16.2008 12:35am
b:

Obama's answer was reasoned and calm, and seems much more believable


that's cool. doesn't make it true.
10.16.2008 12:35am
DavidBernstein (mail):
I believe your continuous repetition of Sean Hannity's talking points on any otherwise respectable blog proves otherwise, Professor.
I've never actually seen or heard Sean Hannity (in fact, I don't know if he's on the radio, t.v., or both.)
10.16.2008 12:37am
J. Aldridge:
loki13, who are the CNN viewers you refer to?
10.16.2008 12:39am
Vandy Law 2010:
Professor Volokh, the partisan bickering here is stale. Please disable comments on your blog. The comments (including my own) serve no purpose.
10.16.2008 12:39am
hawkins:
I agree with all points but the following:


For example, on the Ayers issue, if McCain was going to use it at all, once Obama acknowledged that he and Ayers served on a foundation board together, McCain could have come back with Obama's quote from his debate with Hilary, in which he claimed that Ayers was just some guy who lived in the neighborhood.


While technically true, serving on a board with someone does not really indicate that much more than being from the same neighborhood.
10.16.2008 12:40am
Vandy Law 2010:
And BS on Professor Bernstein not knowing who Hannity is.
10.16.2008 12:41am
loki13 (mail):
J. Aldridge-

I have the joke response (those that were not watching FOX News or CSPAN) and the serious response- they did snap polls of general viewers (including committed voters) and of independent voters. The results were roughly equal. They're also in line with every snap poll I've seen so far.


.... still waiting for any contrary evidence.
10.16.2008 12:42am
DavidBernstein (mail):
He should have come back with the quote from the Hilary debate and THEN pointed out that Obama had his first fundraiser in Ayers' house.
10.16.2008 12:42am
AlterEgo:
The real point is that there is no reason to vote for McCain--why vote for a psuedo-Democrat when you can vote for the real thing. McCain's proposals are just recycled Democratic proposals, some things even Obama opposes.

Supporting multiple government bailouts (banks, homeowners, corporations)--he should have led the charge against it. Taking over home mortgages, violating the sanctity of contracts? Why aren't we objecting to that, in addition to the moral hazard arguments? Forcing banks to accept nationalization--not a peep. Abolishing government departments--don't hear about that anymore. What a wasted campaign.
10.16.2008 12:42am
Stamper:
What was with Obama citing the Violence Against Women Act as being an achievement for Biden? I can't believe that he is unaware of the fate of that law.
10.16.2008 12:43am
Laura S.:

While technically true, serving on a board with someone does not really indicate that much more than being from the same neighborhood.

Well, gee, didn't you hear Ayers helped write Obama's autobiographies...
10.16.2008 12:44am
Asher (mail):
you have to have the facts memorized, and be able to recount them smoothly and effectively, which seems beyond McCain's abilities.

Pretty much. There were so many incoherent moments tonight. The time he tried to go after Obama on abortion and instead sounded like he was mocking mothers' health, the "Obama says nuclear energy to be safe, and that's somehow a bad thing" line (sure, there's a point he's getting at, but the way he puts it it sounds like he's attacking Obama for caring about safety), the muddle over Colombian trade, the botched retelling of the Joe The Plumber story and the insane returns to him thereafter (does he really think this election turns on the votes of small business owners), this odd, telegraphic line:

I would have, first of all, across-the-board spending freeze, OK? Some people say that's a hatchet. That's a hatchet, and then I would get out a scalpel, OK?


and so many others. The weird approach to Ayers. He doesn't care about an old washed-up terrorist, he just wants to know the full extent of the relationship. Don't we already? Why call him old and washed-up, thereby cutting into your own attack? The obscure allusion to the "Sarah Palin is a Cunt" t-shirts that no one but political junkies like me will get. The claim that Palin gets special needs issues better than anyone in America, reminiscent of the time his daughter went on TV and said that no one understands war like the McCains. The shocked "Zero?" when he realized his handlers' talking points were wrong and Joe The Plumber wouldn't be fined if he didn't provide his employees healthcare, and the bitterly snarky "Hey Joe, you're rich, congratulations" response. The flat-out awful and incomprehensible rebuttal to Obama's whining about Ledbetter:

Obviously, that law waved the statute of limitations, which you could have gone back 20 or 30 years. It was a trial lawyer's dream. [awkward pivot]

Let me talk to you about an important aspect of this issue. We have to change the culture of America...
10.16.2008 12:44am
therut (mail):
I thought McCain won. I have a feeling the MSM and pundits are going to be spitting in their coffee election night. It is going to be close not what some outsider polls show. Heck Kerry was ahead as was Gore at this time and Bush was a horrible debator and he won.
10.16.2008 12:45am
DavidBernstein (mail):
And BS on Professor Bernstein not knowing who Hannity is.
I know he's a right-wing talk guy, but I don't know if he has a radio show, a t.v. show, or both. I don't listen to am radio, and I haven't had cable t.v. beyond the basic channels (no Fox News) for years. I know he had a radio show at one time, but then I also know he's one half of "Hannity and Colmes," which I think is a t.v. show. Or did he used to have a t.v. show and now has a radio show?
10.16.2008 12:45am
loki13 (mail):
To sum up:

To date, we have four polls. CBS, CNN (two different polls), and MediaCurves. I could toss in SurveyUSA as well. All have similar resounding Obama numbers.

J. Aldridge has people voting on Drudge on the internet.

The polls I cite are discounted because they're all leftie bastions.

Drudge, on the other hand, is noted for attracting a broad swath of the uncommitted American public.

No wonder there is an inability to converse in America today, when we cannot even agree on basic ground rules for facts.
10.16.2008 12:46am
Cold Warrior:
I really thought Obama was primed to fight the Ayers stuff by raising G. Gordon Liddy. It seemed like that's where the lefty cognoscenti were headed (and I think it would have been a fair retort, much as I think that both associations aren't worth spending even a minute of debate time talking about).

He didn't do it. And I think that's because he was in pure "prevent defense" mode all night. The public polls certainly support that strategy, and I have a strong notion that Obama's internal state-by-state polling is even more powerful.
10.16.2008 12:46am
Something Wicked:
I wonder what it would cost to buy health insurance for a 73 year old cancer survivor. I bet that a $5000 tax credit doesn't cover it. Especially after taxes.
10.16.2008 12:47am
J. Aldridge:
loki13, any of your polls you mention involved the opinion of 130,000 people?
10.16.2008 12:48am
SecurityGeek:
I've never actually seen or heard Sean Hannity (in fact, I don't know if he's on the radio, t.v., or both.)

Well, don't worry about Tivo'ing his show. He's basically just an outlet for pushing the "Greatest Hits of the Insane Right Wing Blogosphere" out into mainstream conversation. Partial birth abortion? Check. Acorn controls the election? Check! Obama's fake birth certificate? Oh yeah baby!

that's cool. doesn't make it true.

I think it is generally true that "Angry, difficult to understand accusation from a desperate party" is often bested by "Calm, easy to understand explanation from the smiling accused". This has been a pretty good technique for the Bush press secretaries, hence the lack of public outrage at complicated legal/political matters, such as the US Attorney firing scandal or FISA.

Whatever complaints you or the other ditto-heads have about Obama's explanation of Ayers, those will not filter out to even a tiny percentage of the 60 million or whatever viewers of the debate.
10.16.2008 12:49am
Cold Warrior:
As someone who (somehow) was blissfully unaware that "Joe the Plumber" is now shorthand for some kind of blue collar small business would-be owners of America, could someone explain to me why Joe thinks Obama's tax plan would put business ownership out of his reach? I really don't understand.

[Yes, I saw the "gotcha" clip of Obama talking about "spreading the wealth," and I understand that, but what does that have to do with Joe's ability to own a business?]
10.16.2008 12:50am
b:

Whatever complaints you or the other ditto-heads have about Obama's explanation of Ayers, those will not filter out to even a tiny percentage of the 60 million or whatever viewers of the debate.


i agree i won't filter out. still doesn't make what obama said tonight true. nor does it make me a ditto head.
10.16.2008 12:51am
Vandy Law 2010:
J. Aldridge, you're an idiot. If you can cite Drudge polls with a straight face, then I'll bring you back some numbers from Kos.
10.16.2008 12:52am
theobromophile (www):
Something Wicked: Medicare covers everyone over the age of 65, so we call that a "moot point." Try looking it up.

I wish McCain would have pointed out that it's rather cruel to make young people - who have lower incomes than their middle-aged peers - subsidise the health premiums of the middle-aged people. Yes, it costs more to get insurance when you're older, but it's still a smaller fraction (generally) of income.

Obama's nonsense about employers dropping coverage was senseless. He obviously doesn't understand the difference between the total cost and the per capita cost. Yes, per capita cost would increase if healthier people dropped out of an employer's coverage pool, but the total cost would decrease. Freakin lawyers don't get these things.
10.16.2008 12:52am
Melancton Smith:
Hannity has two TV shows on FOX and a radio show. He's also the 2nd dumbest guy on opinion TV...Colmes is the dumbest.
10.16.2008 12:52am
Pendulum (mail):
I'm in the tank for Obama, and thought Obama won big tonight. Take that for what it's worth.
10.16.2008 12:53am
Asher (mail):
loki13, any of your polls you mention involved the opinion of 130,000 people?

Come on, you've got to be smarter than that. Huge sample size doesn't mean a thing if you have massive sampling bias. You could poll 30 million registered Republicans, or residents of the Deep South for that matter, and ask them who they think won the debate, and their answers would be less indicative of national opinion than a poll of 50 randomly selected Americans.
10.16.2008 12:54am
loki13 (mail):
J. Aldridge,

I hate to break the news to you, but these intertubez can be unreliable. 130,000 votes does not equal 130,000 unique people. I hope I don't have to explain this, but even ignoring bots and script kiddies, it's trivial to vote multiple times. I simply don't understand why you choose to deny every single credible poll in favor of one self-selected internet poll.

Where you a Ron Paul supporter?
10.16.2008 12:56am
SecurityGeek:
[Yes, I saw the "gotcha" clip of Obama talking about "spreading the wealth," and I understand that, but what does that have to do with Joe's ability to own a business?]

Dude, Joe's marginal rate is going to go from 36% back to the Clinton-era 39%! Joe is toast!

FYI, I am a S-Corp small business owner, and I hate paying taxes. Especially since I live in California. Double especially when I found out what incredible money-sinks Alaska and the other red states are! I will hate having my marginal rate go up, but it's better than borrowing that money from the Chinese and paying it back over the next hundred years.

Too bad I can't vote for a low-taxes and small-government candidate. :(
10.16.2008 12:58am
Visitor Again:
There's nothing wrong with being an elitist if you are actually elite

This says a lot about you.
10.16.2008 12:58am
Cold Warrior:

loki13, any of your polls you mention involved the opinion of 130,000 people?


Wow, someone needs to google:

Literary Digest Truman Dewey

Right away.
10.16.2008 12:59am
therut (mail):
Last Election Kerry was declared the winner 56 to 39% by composite poll. We do remember how that turned out. Google is your friend.
10.16.2008 1:00am
Anderson (mail):
He got Obama to admit that he wants judges who rule based on fairness for the 'average guy', not judges who make rulings based on the law and the Constitution.

Sorry to shock y'all hardcore types, but I suspect "the average guy" likes it just fine to have judges who are fair to him. The average guy thinks that "fairness" and "the law" are SUPPOSED to be the same thing.

Those of you who've seen a plaintiff's face when her case gets tossed on procedural grounds (and n.b., I would be the one working to get it tossed) know what I'm talking about.

The above-quoted comment just confirms the impressions of others on this debate, that if you're already a conservative, then McCain sounded fine -- but if you're someone McCain needed to win over, then not so much.
10.16.2008 1:00am
TruthInAdvertising:
"he got Obama to admit that he cares more about solidarity with labor leaders in Columbia than helping America with free trade"

Seriously? You think that's a winner with voters? The Republican talking heads kept repeating this after the debate. It just goes to show how tone-deaf the McCain camp is right now. Right now, lots of Americans, whether you think they are right or not, don't think "fair trade" has been fair for American workers. Stories of Chinese milk poisoned with melamine don't give American consumers warm fuzzies. And now you want to believe that labor agreements that don't protect us on any of those issues are what most Americans want and that it's a winning political point? If so, please keep repeating it. I can't wait to see how that one bounces for the McCain team.
10.16.2008 1:00am
loki13 (mail):
SecuityGeek-

No, the only real supporters of the GOP are the federal-teat sucking red staters and the state-institution employed Professors who give their policies plausible academic cover.
Us Blue staters are always voting against our interests, you know, helping out those flyover folk by giving them our hard earned money. What's the matter with California?
10.16.2008 1:01am
OrinKerr:
J. Aldridge asks:P.S.
What is the problem with Obama in providing his original long form birth certificate?
Because it would reveal that he is a space alien, and specifically an officer from the planet Zimrod who has come to conquer America and feed us to the ZImrodian fallabasters.

I mean, if you were a space alien, would you provide the original long form birth certificate that shows that?
10.16.2008 1:01am
Vandy Law 2010:
therut: Kerry didn't have a lead like Obama's. Obama could lose, but it's unlikely.
10.16.2008 1:02am
Anderson (mail):
If you're curious, Therut, on this day in 2004, the electoral vote count was Bush 284, Kerry 228.

RealClearPolitics, which as most of you know tilts right, has Obama about where Bush was ... not counting "toss-up" states.
10.16.2008 1:03am
muleskinner (mail):
If Obama were a space alien, he would have to have some awesome powers - all space aliens do. That would mean he would have the capability to produce a perfect fake birth certificate. Since he hasn't produced such a document, he must have a reason for not doing so. Obviously, he is not an alien.
10.16.2008 1:05am
Anderson (mail):
Being a shocking partisan, Prof. Kerr conveeeeniently neglects to mention that the Zimrodians' secret base is in ... THE PANAMA CANAL ZONE!
10.16.2008 1:06am
loki13 (mail):
I think it's the echo-chamber effect combined with the hubris of power. In the same way that the Democratic party became so out of touch with the people in the 1980s into the early 1990s, so has the GOP today (remember Rostenkowski). There's only one question-

Will the GOP recognize this problem and come back stonger than ever?

Or will they continue to listen to their nuttiest members (like those pushing the Ayers crap) and continue to marginalize themselves?

Reagan did something because he recognized what was wrong with the Democrats and provided an attractive, simple-to-understand solution. The current GOP candidates offer nothing more than divisiveness and fear.
10.16.2008 1:06am
SecurityGeek:
Somebody needs to Photoshop Obama's head over Keanu's in the new "The Day the Earth Stood Still" trailers and email it over to RedState. Their heads would a'splode.
10.16.2008 1:07am
Something Wicked:
Theo,
Does John McCain use Medicare? Look it up. Sorry, "Try looking it up."
10.16.2008 1:09am
J. Aldridge:
loki13, Democrats today owe their existence to divisiveness (us against "them"). Diversity seems to be the battle cry.

Racism has become a punch line. If you do not vote for Obama you must be racist.
10.16.2008 1:11am
TruthInAdvertising:
"He should have come back with the quote from the Hilary debate and THEN pointed out that Obama had his first fundraiser in Ayers' house."

If Obama had his first fundraiser in Ayers' house, then why didn't Ayers make a donation to Obama's campaign?
10.16.2008 1:12am
J. Aldridge:
"If Obama had his first fundraiser in Ayers' house, then why didn't Ayers make a donation to Obama's campaign?"

Maybe he agreed to write books for Obama or provide certain services?
10.16.2008 1:15am
A. Zarkov (mail):
McCain was better, but still put in a dismal performance. Obama left himself wide open in many areas such as medical care and energy, yet McCain failed to jump in and correct his many mistakes. For example Obama thinks "preventative medicine" lowers medical costs-- it doesn't. This and other canards are covered in the book Health Care Half Truths. Both McCain and Obama are confused about the oil import problem and think alternative methods for generating electricty will reduce oil imports. Again and again McCain failed to correct Obama's sophistries. In my opinion McCain is simply an air head. We need a tough, intelligent, and well informed candidate to cope with the menace of Obama-- McCain comes up short.
10.16.2008 1:15am
Anderson (mail):
If you do not vote for Obama you must be racist.

Nah. We Dems are much more understanding than that.

Stupidity, ignorance, partisanship, greed, and a desire to see clones of John Roberts on the SCOTUS are all plausible non-racist motives.

(John Roberts always looks like a genetically engineered human to me, anyway. An inspired casting agent would've picked someone w/ his looks, not Richard Burton, for O'Brien in the film of Nineteen Eighty-Four.)
10.16.2008 1:15am
therut (mail):
I'm talking about the after debate snap poll. This one was done by CNN/Time/USA Today. Since everyone hear is so excited about the after debate polls tonight.
10.16.2008 1:16am
OrinKerr:
and a desire to see clones of John Roberts on the SCOTUS are all plausible non-racist motives.

Phew.
10.16.2008 1:18am
Anderson (mail):
<i>If Obama had his first fundraiser in Ayers' house, then why didn't Ayers make a donation to Obama's campaign?</i>

Because the bastard's not just a terrorist, he's a *cheap* terrorist.

What a great TV spot: "Friends, I have served on a board with Obama. I had the chance to donate at his first fundraiser. But I didn't. Because I perceived the menace he poses for America. That's why I, Bill Ayers, unrepentant ex-Weather Underground terrorist leader, am endorsing John McCain for president in 2008."

That would be BETTER than an Osama video.
10.16.2008 1:19am
David Warner:
VandyNihilist2010,

"Professor Volokh, the partisan bickering here is stale. Please disable comments on your blog. The comments (including my own) serve no purpose."

Kids these days!

You've got a bright future ahead of you, even if you chose your school poorly. Don't give up hope yet!
10.16.2008 1:20am
Anderson (mail):
Thinking of you there, Prof. Kerr.
10.16.2008 1:21am
theobromophile (www):
But he's a working member of the federal government and gets benefits that way. So what's your point? His benefits are expensive? So what? He should kindly keel over? Other 73-year-olds who aren't working and getting benefits from the federal government are on Medicare?
10.16.2008 1:22am
David Warner:
Visitor,

"There's nothing wrong with being an elitist if you are actually elite

This says a lot about you."

He's writing the post. We're writing the comments. Questions?
10.16.2008 1:22am
Anderson (mail):
Losing to Mississippi State will do that to even the most promising kids, Mr. Warner.

Theo: McCain is also *rich*. He can put his healthcare on his wife's Amex card.
10.16.2008 1:24am
Vandy Law 2010:
VandyNihilist2010,
Kids these days!

You've got a bright future ahead of you, even if you chose your school poorly. Don't give up hope yet!



Oh, a dickhead on the Internet. Let me tell my mother.
10.16.2008 1:24am
CB55 (mail):
John McCain lost tonite because he was and is facetious, smirking, sarcastic, disrespectful, brooding, dismissive, rude, mean, condescending, and up tight. He reminded voters of American discomfort as to matters of race, age and class ( Mitt Romney, Palin and McCain framed Obama not as a man of sharp mind and manner of speech, but smooth). McCain burned through his anger because Obama is a man that got to this new height not by right of birth, money and marriage, but work and social evolution.

Few if any women and men that graduate from the bottom of the military academy go on to be a US senator, and or marry into money. McCain knows he owes much to his family line and money that came with marriage. This race is his last run for the White House win or lose. Obama is in many ways everything he could have been.
10.16.2008 1:24am
Seamus (mail):
P.S. What is the problem with Obama in providing his original long form birth certificate?

It could be that when you ask the Hawaii authorities for a birth certificate, this computer-generated thing is what they give you. That's what Maryland does, as I found out when I requested a copy of my birth certificate from 1954, and instead of getting a copy of the microfilmed original record, I got something computer generated that looked like Obama's.
10.16.2008 1:31am
Seamus (mail):
For whatever it's limited worth, I thought McCain had a few opportunities to do some real damage tonight, and basically blew it.

Which is not too surprising, since he's basically an idiot.

We are so screwed.
10.16.2008 1:33am
DavidBernstein (mail):
It's good to see that even strong Obama supporters can maintain a cool, objective detachment.

John McCain lost tonite because he was and is facetious, smirking, sarcastic, disrespectful, brooding, dismissive, rude, mean, condescending, and up tight. He reminded voters of American discomfort as to matters of race, age and class ( Mitt Romney, Palin and McCain framed Obama not as a man of sharp mind and manner of speech, but smooth). McCain burned through his anger because Obama is a man that got to this new height not by right of birth, money and marriage, but work and social evolution.

Few if any women and men that graduate from the bottom of the military academy go on to be a US senator, and or marry into money. McCain knows he owes much to his family line and money that came with marriage. This race is his last run for the White House win or lose. Obama is in many ways everything he could have been.
10.16.2008 1:33am
therut (mail):
Good Grief!! LOL...Oh and I do not like Hannity. He appeals to the young voters though. And guess what he makes about 5 million a year and that is just for his show on FOX. Disgusting I know. But hey this is the USA and celebrity pays big.
10.16.2008 1:35am
Anderson (mail):
Good point, Seamus. Mississippi does the same thing. Presumably it takes longer &more money to order a COPY copy.

That's how I've been able to conceal my Zimrodian heritage.
10.16.2008 1:36am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
db:

Obama had his first fundraiser in Ayers' house


Can you present some proof? This claim, often presented and never proven, appears to be wrong. The event at Ayers' house was a fund-raiser for Palmer, not Obama. And that event was not the launch of Obama's campaign. See here:

If McCain continues to insist that Obama launched his political career from Ayers' Hyde Park living room, he is misleading the public … Obama's formal kick-off to announce his run for state senate was at the Hyde Park Ramada Inn on Sept. 19, 1995. … Around this time, Obama started to attend a series of coffees in the Hyde Park community where he lived … "I was certainly (hosting) one of the first," said Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, rabbi emeritus at Chicago's KAM Isaiah Israel--located across the street from the Obama home. "There were several every week," he recalled on Tuesday night when we spoke. …

The Ackermans, Sam and Martha, longtime Hyde Park activists in independent Democratic politics, also held an early event for Obama in their condo on E. Hyde Park Boulevard. … Sam Ackerman told me Tuesday when we exchanged e-mails that "as I recall, the event at Bill Ayers' house (prior to ours) was a fund-raiser for Alice's congressional campaign at which she also introduced Barack as the successor she would like to see elected."

If Ackerman's recollection is correct--that the event at Ayers home was really for Palmer and Obama just piggy backed on it--then any argument that the Obama's political career was launched in the Ayers home is moot.

Martha and I talked on Tuesday night and she said she was not sure if the coffee at their condo for about 20 people was before or after Obama's Ramada Inn announcement. … "...the way to launch the campaign was to have coffee, and not one coffee, as in 'this is the start of everything.' Barack went around to a number of people and requested that they hold coffees for him." … Martha Ackerman said, "I know there were a number of coffees. It wasn't just one or two."
10.16.2008 1:37am
Anderson (mail):
DB, is it insufficiently "objective" to say negative things about McCain that are plausibly true?

I look forward to this interesting "objectivity" on the next Israel-Palestine DB post. Should be interesting.

Of course, if you sincerely believe that Israel is mostly right, and that 90% of the trouble is that the Palestinians are anti-semitic jerks, then you're not going to sound very "objective."

Sorry if our comments on McCain are insufficiently Broderesque.
10.16.2008 1:40am
Psalm91 (mail):
"P.S. What is the problem with Obama in providing his original long form birth certificate?"

This is the best campaign slogan. Better than lost pensions, or jobs.
10.16.2008 1:42am
David Warner:
Loki13,

"Or will they continue to listen to their nuttiest members (like those pushing the Ayers crap) and continue to marginalize themselves?"

Its not the nuts. Or even the members. And it doesn't happen to even be crap. On this one, we're the refs, and we don't much like being worked, so you might want to follow Obama's lead and shrug it off instead of rubbing your thoughtspace dominance in the faces of voters.

"Reagan did something because he recognized what was wrong with the Democrats and provided an attractive, simple-to-understand solution. The current GOP candidates offer nothing more than divisiveness and fear."

Well, he offered more than a mere solution. He offered a positive vision. You're dead on about what's missing, but not about the thin gruel that's there. Reagan wouldn't have been scared away by a bunch of his opponents crying wolf from calling an Ayers an Ayers, past and present, and laying out the case for what that means about Obama. I happen to believe that Obama would effectively present a countercase, but not even getting to that point is not good for the electoral process.
10.16.2008 1:44am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
aldridge:

I wasn't aware FOX provided a poll.


FWIW, the Faux poll is here. It shows Obama ahead, 67/33. With 69292 votes. But I think some of those voters might be dead people. Or voters phoning in from the planet Zimrod. I heard ACORN has a branch up there.
10.16.2008 1:45am
J. Aldridge:
About that Birth Certificate AGAIN: Am I to understand correctly the only known copy we have seen was the one released on KOS?
10.16.2008 1:45am
Anderson (mail):
I mean, think about it: what documentary proof do we really have that Obama was ever born at all?

(Meanwhile, McCain produces a *selection* of his medical records &lets some reporters look at them for a few minutes. This from the oldest-ever president if elected. And the news folks shrug it off. What a bizarre nation we live in.)
10.16.2008 1:47am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
david:

I happen to believe that Obama would effectively present a countercase


True. Part of that countercase might be to point out that the claims about "unrepentant" (you linked to a story that used that word six times) are based on somewhat shaky evidence. The typical reference is a NYT interview Ayers did, but he says those statements are being taken out of context. And no one seems to recall that he also said this:

'We did go off track … and that was wrong,' Ayers now says.
10.16.2008 1:49am
Blar (mail) (www):
Obama already acknowledged that he and Ayers served on a foundation board together back in that same Clinton debate. Clinton brought it up ("Senator Obama served on a board with Mr. Ayers for a period of time...") and Obama acknowledged that it was true:
by Senator Clinton's own vetting standards, I don't think she would make it, since President Clinton pardoned or commuted the sentences of two members of the Weather Underground, which I think is a slightly more significant act than me serving on a board with somebody for actions that he did 40 years ago.

And, for the record, here is Obama's "guy in my neighborhood" quote, which doesn't sound as bad as your paraphrase:
This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis. And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense, George.
10.16.2008 1:50am
Jiffy:
I hate to dignify this issue, but what is the significance of the location of Obama's birth? I haven't heard anyone dispute that his mother was a citizen. Doesn't that make Obama a "natural born citizen" even if he wasn't born in the U.S. (like John McCain)?
10.16.2008 1:52am
DavidBernstein (mail):
DB, is it insufficiently "objective" to say negative things about McCain that are plausibly true?
I'd answer that if I could figure out what "plausibly true" means. But yes, and despite your snarky, obnoxious, and inaccurate remarks re Israel, I'll be happy to defend the proposition that someone who writes that McCain "is facetious, smirking, sarcastic, disrespectful, brooding, dismissive, rude, mean, condescending, and up tight... Obama is in many ways everything he could have been," and thus thinks not just that McCain is all bad, but that Obama represents all the good things that McCain isn't, has lost any semblance of perspective.
10.16.2008 1:56am
Monch:
I am voting for Obama, but I thought McCain won this debate solely because Obama was on the defensive the bulk of the time.

I also thought it was good that McCain didn't relentlessly demand for Obama to answer questions about Ayers or ACORN. That might have entertained a few of the people here, but the average voter, frankly, doesn't give a damn about it. And those are the people whose interests are being placated.

It probably would have been better for McCain if those issues weren't discussed tonight. Instead of letting rumors run rampant in the blogsphere, Obama was given the perfect forum to dispel those rumors in his own words.

Now, there's nothing left to say. And if McCain insists on saying more about Ayers or ACORN on his stump, even more voters are going to lose interest in McCain. McCain is too busy listening to the conservative base to understand the wants of the average voter.

Hey...you can't change a player's game in the 9th ending.
10.16.2008 1:58am
fbeuks (www):
Prof. Bernstein, I'm disappointed that you put enough stock in the National Journal's extremely flawed system to think that their ranking of Obama is in any way meaningful. It isn't.
10.16.2008 2:02am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
jiffy:

Doesn't that make Obama a "natural born citizen" even if he wasn't born in the U.S. (like John McCain)?


That issue is discussed here.
10.16.2008 2:08am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Prof. Bernstein, I'm disappointed that you put enough stock in the National Journal's extremely flawed system to think that their ranking of Obama is in any way meaningful. It isn't.
Meaningful in reality, or meaningful as a debating point? The latter is the only "meaningful" that counts if you're trying to win a debate. Sorry if that sounds cynical, but that's politics.
10.16.2008 2:12am
David Warner:
Monch,

"That might have entertained a few of the people here, but the average voter, frankly, doesn't give a damn about it."

There are several different average voters, and they live in several different states. Most don't give a damn about it because the R's have been thoroughly discredited and thus tuned out and the corporate media is over the moon for Obama.

I worry about what happens when he steps on some of those corporate toes once in office and they start sending the barrels of ink against him. You don't think they know how to make the case about lack of proper vetting? There's a lot of there there and they can hold it over Obama's head. He'd better get some advice from Bill about how to turn it into a mere Whitewater.
10.16.2008 2:13am
TruthInAdvertising:
"Can you present some proof? This claim, often presented and never proven, appears to be wrong."

What kills me is that Bernstein manages to parrot the Hannity talking points even as he tells us that he doesn't watch Hannity. "Great minds" must think alike.

"About that Birth Certificate AGAIN: Am I to understand correctly the only known copy we have seen was the one released on KOS?"

No, neither candidate has presented their birth certificates for public viewing. What has been posted online for McCain and Obama are called a "Certificate of Live Birth", which is a government record that lists your birthplace, time, etc. but is not the actual birth certificate.
10.16.2008 2:21am
David Warner:
Juke,

"'We did go off track … and that was wrong,' Ayers now says."

Thanks. That's helpful. But I think rehabilitating Ayers is a lost cause. After Bush and McCain, powerful dads getting their sons out of trouble is not a helpful category in which to participate.

My theory is that Obama learned from the failure of his Alinsky-inspired community organizing efforts and radical-chic ed reforms with Annenberg. That seems like it should be plausible to most intelligent people, given his subsequent career and, I trust, sensible leadership in the White House.
10.16.2008 2:25am
DavidBernstein (mail):
The claim that the fundraiser at Ayers' house was actually for Palmer has been refuted so many times, including on in the comments section of this blog, that I'm not going to bother looking it up again. Someone else might want to.
10.16.2008 2:29am
Anon21:
therut:
Heck Kerry was ahead as was Gore at this time and Bush was a horrible debator and he won.

You are very much mistaken with regard to Kerry. As the RCP page from '04 shows, after 10/11 Kerry led in exactly 3 publicly-released polls out of 37. That election was actually quite close, relative to this one. Check out the current RCP polling page--you've got to go back 34 polls, to 9/25, to find a McCain lead of any magnitude.

The polls correctly predicted Bush the winner in '04, and they are presently projecting Obama the winner by a much more comfortable margin than Bush. The plain fact of the matter is that unless some event extrinsic to the campaign itself alters the dynamic of the race, Obama will win.
10.16.2008 2:29am
DavidBernstein (mail):
My theory is that Obama learned from the failure of his Alinsky-inspired community organizing efforts and radical-chic ed reforms with Annenberg. That seems like it should be plausible to most intelligent people, given his subsequent career and, I trust, sensible leadership in the White House.
I'd like Obama a lot better if he more forthrightedly admitted he flirted with radical ideas (and people) when he was younger, but I acknowledge that candor doesn't necessarily win votes.
10.16.2008 2:31am
Tom Hanna (www):
The line about running 4 years ago if he wanted to run against Bush was good, but it followed so much discussion of plumbing that I nearly missed it. It was kind of like writing the 60th comment on a blog.
10.16.2008 2:31am
OrinKerr:
Thinking of you there, Prof. Kerr.

Appreciated, Anderson.
10.16.2008 2:33am
markH (mail):
I'm very disappointed. I came to this thread expecting to discuss Obama's vote against Breyer's nomination. You've all let me down.

David Warner:

The Ayers thing is done and the electoral process is better for it. Are you concerned that the "lack of vetting" will lead to Ayers being appointed Secretary of Education?

Tell us how this lives on and rears its head after the election.
10.16.2008 2:34am
J. Aldridge:
Uh, Anon21? Kerry easily won the debates by similar margins as shown by polls after Obama/McCain debates. Did him little good when it came to crunch time.
10.16.2008 2:38am
Lily (mail):
As someone who (somehow) was blissfully unaware that "Joe the Plumber" is now shorthand for some kind of blue collar small business would-be owners of America, could someone explain to me why Joe thinks Obama's tax plan would put business ownership out of his reach? I really don't understand.

Buddy, you need to go back and take an Econ 101 class. Joe the Plumber is a small businessman. Most of these types work their tails off to earn a good living. Raising taxes on these business makes it hard to improve your equipment (called 'investing in your business') or hire additional help (called 'providing employment'). Joe needs incentive to work that hard. Usually the incentive is the $$$ he earns to provide a nice living for his family. However, if Obama decides to take all his extra money and 'spread it around', what incentive does Joe have now to work his tail off, invest in his business and provide employment for others? None.
10.16.2008 2:41am
CB55 (mail):
DavidBernstein:

McCain is known for his verbal attacks in Washington DC. The word choice that McCain uses when he address Obama is well known as to record. McCain is also known for his voting record. Few men and women from the Working Poor and or Working Class in recent history become ranking US Senator or get a chance to become president.

The word choice that McCain often uses when he talks to Obama is that of Superior to Subordinate. When he frames the story of abortion he frames the plight of women in the same manner. In trying to paint Obama as being for the great Republican bugaboo of late term abortions (because, you know, there are so many women running around and deciding after being pregnant for six or more months that being pregnant is no longer convenient for them), Obama replied that he didn't vote for the late term abortion ban because it had no provision for the health or life of the mother. McCain went on to talk about tax and spend liberals and the evils of socialism, but then he could suddenly find money for cripple children, adoption and school vouchers. Never mind he spoke early about cutting and freezing budgets. Never mind that he voted all the time or most of the time against federal programs to help children and families.

Unlike McCain, Obama's dad left town when Barrack was 2 or 3 and he did not have some one to open the doors for his Harvard education. Obama did not marry rich. No one gave him a job because of his given name.
10.16.2008 2:42am
PDXLawyer (mail):
Let's not get into the birth certificate thing. I can't see any substantial reason to doubt that Obama was in fact born in the US, or that he is over 35. Whatever his failings, he isn't a Manchurian Candidate. Nothing else regarding his birth is, or ought to be, of public concern.
10.16.2008 2:43am
markH (mail):
J. Aldridge:

Something called "google" directed me to abc news from 2004:

"Among registered voters who watched the debate, 42 percent called Kerry the winner, 41 percent said Bush won and 14 percent called it a tie. That's similar to the outcome of the second debate, while Kerry won the first among viewers by a nine-point margin."

Are these the debates you're referring to?
10.16.2008 2:44am
Opher Banarie (mail) (www):
Speaking of Secretary of Education, the US Plum Book lists some 7,000 positions the President fills by appointment. Who will Obama draw upon to fill those offices? What kind of people will Obama surround himself with? The only examples we (the public) have are Ayers, Reverend Wright and Rezko.
10.16.2008 2:46am
Lily (mail):
However, if Obama decides to take all his extra money and 'spread it around', what incentive does Joe have now to work his tail off, invest in his business and provide employment for others? None.
and..... this is probably why Joe seemed a little angry. Obama is taking his opportunity to really make a good living away. I know I'm angry about this myself.
10.16.2008 2:48am
winstontwo (mail):
Mr. Bernstein,

I hope McCain takes your advice and spends the remaining days of the campaign harping on these petty, trivial matters that mean nothing to most Americans.
10.16.2008 2:48am
David Warner:
David Bernstein,

"I'd like Obama a lot better if he more forthrightedly admitted he flirted with radical ideas (and people) when he was younger, but I acknowledge that candor doesn't necessarily win votes."

I think it was more than a mere flirtation. All the better to know their limitations and motivate one to seek alternatives, as it is evident he has. Definite Prince Hal dynamic. There is a lot of hope out here for future Agincourts, hopefully non-military.
10.16.2008 2:50am
TruthInAdvertising:
"What kind of people will Obama surround himself with? The only examples we (the public) have are Ayers, Reverend Wright and Rezko."

Really? What positions did Obama appoint any of the people you listed to fill? He listed a number of people who are serving as advisors. That might give you a clue.
10.16.2008 2:52am
TruthInAdvertising:
"The claim that the fundraiser at Ayers' house was actually for Palmer has been refuted so many times, including on in the comments section of this blog, that I'm not going to bother looking it up again."

OK, I did. I Googled search Volokh.com on "ayers" "fundraiser" and "first". Around 30 hits, most of them repeating David's unsubstantiated talking points. For instance, your unwillingness to source your claim is what you said here although then, it wasn't the first fundraiser.

"I'm going to sleep now, so I'm not going to hunt links, but neighbors have been quoted as saying they were part of the same social circle, Obama held one of his first fundraisers when he was a nobody at Ayers' house, etc. etc. "

Another commenter referenced this article but no claim of fundraising there.

Fellow Obama-whacker Jim Lindgren tried to tie Obama's fundraising efforts to Tony Rezko here but no Ayers as first fundraiser there.

Someone else linked to this article and claimed it as proof that they held a fundraiser. But what did the article say?

"In the mid-1990s, Ayers and Dohrn hosted a meet-and-greet at their house to introduce Obama to their neighbors during his first run for the Illinois Senate."

So it looks like it's back on the Professor to step up with some facts to back up his statements.
10.16.2008 2:53am
David Warner:
Opher,

"The only examples we (the public) have are Ayers, Reverend Wright and Rezko."

Only? Unlikely. Start with Warren Buffett. No doubt they'll be some doozies as well, but he's assembled a pretty wide bench. I don't think that after the current administration that this point is a particularly strong one.
10.16.2008 2:58am
Anon21:
J. Aldridge:
Uh, Anon21? Kerry easily won the debates by similar margins as shown by polls after Obama/McCain debates. Did him little good when it came to crunch time.

Apples to oranges (and apparently false, per markH). You're talking about insta-polls about who won debates, I'm talking about actual general election polling ("Who will you vote for?") Bush held a very small but consistent advantage in general election polling during October. Obama now holds a medium-sized, consistent advantage this October. Conclusion: Obama is on his way to victory, barring a genuine October surprise (not McCain deciding to hit him on Wright or something).
10.16.2008 3:04am
David Warner:
MarkH,

"Are you concerned that the "lack of vetting" will lead to Ayers being appointed Secretary of Education?"

Why should he accept a demotion?

"Tell us how this lives on and rears its head after the election."

Hell hath no fury like a media scorned.
10.16.2008 3:05am
PC:
Prof. Bernstein, He should have come back with the quote from the Hilary debate and THEN pointed out that Obama had his first fundraiser in Ayers' house.

It was such a winning strategy for the Clinton machine so McCain should have certainly doubled down.
10.16.2008 3:07am
Bandon:
I understand the frustration of McCain supporters regarding missed opportunities for McCain to go at Obama more aggressively in the debate. However, as an Obama supporter, I felt a similar frustration about the many opportunities that Obama passed up by not pursuing a more aggressive response to McCain's attacks. I thought that McCain deserved to be "called" on many of his personal and dishonest attacks on Obama, but Obama stayed cool and calm instead. It would have made me feel better if Obama had fought back more, but the post-debate polls appear to show that Obama made the right decision for his campaign.

Apparently, a large percentage of American voters want a president who stays calm in the face of challenges, cares about their problems, and provides steady leadership in times of crisis. McCain got in the most "digs" in this debate, but Obama clearly won the temperament battle. According to the opinion polls, calm trumps angry.
10.16.2008 3:11am
J. Aldridge:
markH said: "Are these the debates you're referring to?"

No, I was looking at this CNN hit piece:

TEMPE, Arizona (CNN) -- A CNN/USA Today/Gallup snap poll taken immediately after the presidential debate found that respondents gave a significant edge to Kerry over Bush, 52 percent to 39 percent.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

The numbers were similar to the results of a poll taken the night of the first debate September 30 in Miami, Florida. That night Kerry was favored by a 53 percent to 37 percent margin.
10.16.2008 3:12am
Asher (mail):
I'll be happy to defend the proposition that someone who writes that McCain "is facetious, smirking, sarcastic, disrespectful, brooding, dismissive, rude, mean, condescending, and up tight... Obama is in many ways everything he could have been," and thus thinks not just that McCain is all bad, but that Obama represents all the good things that McCain isn't, has lost any semblance of perspective.

Aside from policy, where I don't agree with Obama on much, I think it's fair to say that Obama is in many ways everything that McCain could have been. Obama does practice, to an extent, the sort of intellectually honest, straightforward, non-attack-driven politics that McCain appeared to embody back in 2000. Whereas McCain's running a pretty substance-free, often dishonest, Rovian campaign. Now, Obama's far from perfect, which is why I write 'to an extent,' but he's a lot closer than McCain.
10.16.2008 3:12am
Cornellian (mail):
I thought McCain did better this time than he did in the last one, but not well enough to turn things around. Barring a miracle, he's going to lose, primarily because of 1) the economy, 2) GW Bush and 3) Palin.
10.16.2008 3:13am
Obvious (mail):
DB: "Given McCain's "straight talk" reputation, it's perfectly legitimate for him to make this a campaign issue, but to do so, you have to have the facts memorized, and be able to recount them smoothly and effectively, which seems beyond McCain's abilities."

To be fair, I'm sure McCain was much better when he was alive...
10.16.2008 3:15am
Hoosier:
Anderson:

(John Roberts always looks like a genetically engineered human to me, anyway. An inspired casting agent would've picked someone w/ his looks, not Richard Burton, for O'Brien in the film of Nineteen Eighty-Four.)

Naw. All of us Hoosiers look like that. Which you might have known if you'd get your A&F clad arse out of the Fire Island Starbucks every now and then and drive through the Heartland on the way to your pedicure. Or whatever it is liberals do these days.
10.16.2008 3:19am
dr:

No, I was looking at this CNN hit piece:



Wow, really? The "hit piece" you refer to cites results of three snap polls. And...that's it. Cites results. Nothing else. That's a hit piece?

Do you dispute the polls? Or do you really think that reporting on a poll constitutes a "hit piece"?

Reminds me of Colbert's line about facts having a well known liberal bias.
10.16.2008 3:20am
Rodger (mail):
Good point above about the Second Amendment missed opportunity. Also, I was thinking that McCain should have asked Obama exactly what he did with that $50 million of Annenberg Challenge money that Ayers assigned him to dole out...pencils, textbooks, laptops and science equipment for the students? Or money for political groups pretending to reform education?

All in all I thought McCain did a good job. Obama looked smirky like Biden did in the VP debate, used talking points as answers on most issues, and still provides a foggy explanation of his economic 'plan' and health care.

So, rather than going out and getting a job, student loan or a scholarship, folks can do a hybrid Peace Corp/New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps thing and get their education paid for? How does that work?
10.16.2008 3:22am
Hoosier:
Am I the only one who was disturbed by Obama's proposal to create "American jobs" by investing in "Soylent Green industries"?

I'm telling you, he's holding something back from us.
10.16.2008 3:25am
Obvious (mail):
Cornellian: "I thought McCain did better this time than he did in the last one, but not well enough to turn things around. Barring a miracle, he's going to lose, primarily because of 1) the economy, 2) GW Bush and 3) Palin."

4) He's an extraordinarily bad campaigner, 5) He comes across as a crotchety old man who can't make an argument that is simultaneously detailed, articulate, and correct, 6) that he is as much of a big-government man as Bush and Obama, giving part of his base no reason to vote, 7) that some people don't want a subsidy-sucking* beer magnate as first lady...

I'm sure with more than 10 seconds I can come up with more...

*see Reason.com's blog for details
10.16.2008 3:26am
David Warner:
Hoosier,

Shouldn't that be you liberals?

Therut,

"Good Grief!! LOL...Oh and I do not like Hannity. He appeals to the young voters though. And guess what he makes about 5 million a year and that is just for his show on FOX. Disgusting I know. But hey this is the USA and celebrity pays big."

Hannity's like JukeBoxGrad without the intelligence, wit, or (7th?) doctoral dissertation's worth of Bidenesque facts.

Bandon,

"calm trumps angry"

Who knew?
10.16.2008 3:27am
Jerry F:
The #1 reason why McCain is going to lose: the media.

The #2 reason why McCain is going to lose: the media.

The #3 reason why McCain is going to lose: his unwillingness to attack Obama on Wright and his horrible timing for bringing up Ayers.

Also, the economy.

But let's not blame Palin.
10.16.2008 3:37am
Psalm91 (mail):
"What kind of people will Obama surround himself with? The only examples we (the public) have are Ayers, Reverend Wright and Rezko."

Aai a day or so for Colin Powell to weigh in. In the meantime, ponder the role of Saddam Hussein's former lobbyist, Bill Timmons, another new member of the McCain campaign. No problem there, I suppose.

The only McCain play left is full on voter suppression. Two and a half weeks of noun-verb-ACORN.
10.16.2008 3:47am
Psalm91 (mail):
"Jerry F:

The #1 reason why McCain is going to lose: the media.
The #2 reason why McCain is going to lose: the media.
The #3 reason why McCain is going to lose: his unwillingness to attack Obama on Wright and his horrible timing for bringing up Ayers."

Everywhere I go, to the grocery store, the gas station, the bank, the receivables ledger, the worldwide stock markets, the unemployment departments, the bankruptcy courts, things are really very good; indeed terrific! It is only the liberal corporate media that are convincing people things are not good, and have not been good. How dare they believe their lying eyes! And how dare they not share the concern about board member Ayers! Wow.
10.16.2008 3:55am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
db:

I'd like Obama a lot better if he more forthrightedly admitted he flirted with radical ideas (and people) when he was younger


I'd like you a lot better if you forthrightedly admitted that you are incessantly making a claim that's not supported by facts: that "Obama had his first fundraiser in Ayers' house."

TruthInAdvertising summarized some of the non-evidence here. I looked around in a similar manner, using a site search for fundraiser ayers obama. The most relevant thread is here, where the claim was made, and challenged. One or two people purported to show proof by providing links that point (directly or indirectly) to a CNN report here. Scroll to 5:07 for the relevant portion. Angus then explained how the CNN claim is poorly sourced.

To review: the three key primary sources on this point are Politico (2/22/08), CNN (10/6, I think), and Chicago Sun-Times (10/15/08).

None of these sources say it was a fundraiser. And the 10/15 article establishes pretty clearly that it was Palmer's event, not Obama's. A different date and location is provided for Obama's first event.
10.16.2008 4:04am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
warner:

Hannity's like JukeBoxGrad without the intelligence …


Thanks. I guess.

I'm also better-looking than he is, but you'll have to take my word for it.
10.16.2008 4:20am
David M. Nieporent (www):
What I don't understand about McCain is why he isn't attacking Obama on the merits. During the primaries, I was saying that Obama was a garden-variety liberal, but that this wasn't helping Hillary because, well, in Democratic primaries garden-variety liberals do well. But that once it got to the general election, the Republican nominee could simply point out how liberal Obama was. Since voters have regularly rejected liberal Democrats for the presidency -- who was the last one to win, LBJ? -- this would likely be effective.

And yet, throughout the campaign McCain has run on change, has run on Obama-knows-Ayers, has run on Obama-was-wrong-about-the-surge, has run on Obama-wants-to-meet-with-Ahmadinejad, has run on everything except "Obama will raise your taxes, regulate through the wazoo, and generally do all the things that cause people like Mike Dukakis, John Kerry, Walter Mondale, etc., to lose."
10.16.2008 4:58am
David M. Nieporent (www):
None of these sources say it was a fundraiser.
Except for the Chicago Sun Times piece, which says it was a "fund-raiser." Is a "fund-raiser" different than a "fundraiser"?

Now, this is your cue to say, "Well, but that says it was a fund-raiser for Palmer," which is true, but it's highly unlikely that she would ask for money for herself, introduce Obama as her chosen successor, and yet not be asking for money for him, also. Seems sort of unimportant anyway; if the Ayers association is irrelevant to people, then who cares whether it was a fundraiser or just a gathering, and if the Ayers association matters to people, then who cares whether it was a fundraiser or just a gathering? Either way, he was introduced at a political event at Bill Ayers' home.
10.16.2008 5:10am
Vermando (mail) (www):
Watching DB make political arguments is like watching a dog on adderall try to navigate a minefield.

The difference between Mr. Nieporent's last comments and DB are stunning - Mr. Nieporent sensibly asking "why [Senator McCain] does not attack [Senator Obama] on the merits", and DB arguing that since Senator Obams is untrustworthy when accused of something slimy, we just can't trust him with anything. I think that DB is now the majority in the Republican Party, and that is why they shall lose. Thankfully. Have a real argument and get a freaking agenda that is relevant to people's lives, fellas, then people might vote for you. Sheesh.

How far does that "trust" analogy go? Should Michelle not "trust" Barack to pick up the clothes from the cleaners? Can I assume that he, like all untrustworthy people, will breach if I sign a contract with him? Can I not "trust" him to give me sound legal advice, to give me a fair grade in one of his classes, or not to damage my car if I lend it to him? So many different uses of the word "trust", and yet DB conflates them all. I know that the only quality that I look for in a person I have to "trust" (i.e., depend on) to do something important is he be someone I can trust (i.e.,g believe the veracity of his statements). Yep, that's the leadership that the country's looking for as we teeter on the edge of the Great Depression - the other guy fibs, so put me in charge of everything.

Unbelievable. I gotta get me a professorship.
10.16.2008 5:37am
I_AM_FOR_OBAMA:
http://www.bpmdeejays.com/upload/hs_sal_in_Harlem_100108.mp3
10.16.2008 5:44am
Buck Turgidson (mail):
There is a lot of fun stuff here tonight. I'll try to be brief, for a change.

@DB:
Counting all the McCain missed opportunities misses the point that Obama let go a lot of opportunities as well. And even then, the debate was Mr. Crotchety vs. The Unflappable. It doesn't matter what chances McCain missed. Like Bob Dole, he was long on service and short on accomplishment, so when his chance finally came up, he was out of luck, despite feeling entitled to the presidency.

@everyone who is trying to have a logical argument about polls with JAldridge and therut:
Don't waste your breath. The argument that "scientific" polls are biased while a non-randomized poll is valid because it has 130,000 "people" is pure idiocy and not worth discussing. And the other argument completely confuses the poll about who won the debate and the poll of voting preferences. Yes, John Kerry won the debates, but he was behind or very marginally ahead in every poll of voting preferences. In contrast, Obama not only won the debates, but he's now well ahead in every tracking poll and every major poll as well.

Rove tried to make an argument on Fox that all the polls with wide margins have a Left bias (sound familiar?). The one "careful" poll, according to him, has a margin of 3%, withing the MOE. This is actually factually wrong. SUSA and Rasmussen have a traditional Republican bias--that is, they usually overestimate Republican support. CBS and Gallup are similarly slanted to the other side. Others--Hotline, ARG, Pew, Fox, Zogby--often tilt unpredictably, but lack an identifiable bias. Overall, it is a reasonable statistical conclusion that Obama has a 6-8% lead and is near 50% support--which would make it statistically significant and virtually insurmountable. McCain must reverse both his own decline and Obama's rise--simply closing the gap will change nothing. After this debate, he's going in the opposite direction.

A couple of other observations:

McCain is running against Walter Mondale, not Barack Obama. That cannot be helped--just like Dukakis, Gore and Kerry all used the same advisors, McCain is stuck with the old-guard of Republican politics who think that what worked for Reagan or GWB would work for any Republican candidate.

John McCain is the Joe Isuzu of presidential contenders. Simply saying, "You can trust me" and "I know what I am doing" won't convince anyone. Obama is right--the wheels have come off the Straight-Talk Express.

A few weeks ago, a study suggested that McCain supporters get most of their news from TV while Obama supporters are more diverse in their sources. It seems that it's actually worse--McCain supporters get most of their information from FoxNews, which is simply acting as an echo chamber. Conservative bloggers tend to copy each other, which means that their information also comes from the same sources. So they are all absolutely baffled why others do not see what they see. This also explains why those at the McCain and Palin rallies are "afraid" of Obama.

As for reasons why McCain should lose, I disagree with the ordering. In the spring and early summer, GWB was the top reason for people turning away from McCain. The ranking of factors at that point was 1) GWB (including Iraq), 2) economy, 3) Obama. Post convention, the order has changed. It is now 1) economy (McCain is erratic), 2) Palin (poor judgment), 3) GWB (more of the same). The War has been nearly forgotten. I strongly disagree that Palin is not a factor. Many Republicans and Conservatives who are not that keen on the Base are simply afraid of the possibility of President Palin. She makes their mind up for them by spouting nonsense, as she has in the last four days, for example, proclaiming that the legislative report has cleared her of any wrongdoing and found that there was no abuse of power or unethical behavior. One may disagree with the validity of the report or its legal implications, but there is no question that there was a finding of violation of the ethics act and abuse of power. Combine that with McCain's lack of leadership skills and inability to make sense of the economy, and it's easy to see why he's losing.

But if you think that GWB is a non-issue, just take a look at the Senate races. Dems are virtually guaranteed to go +8 and have a chance to go +11, including some states that have been Republican strongholds for at least a generation. (Make that +10 once they boot Lieberman to the curb.)
10.16.2008 5:45am
Litigator-London:
To those of us watching from afar, the suggestion that Obama is some kind of marxist is laughable.

By the politics of almost anywhere in the civilised world (ie outside the USA) Obama would classify as centre-right and McCain as lunatic right.
10.16.2008 6:01am
EH (mail):
David N. Nieporent:
But that once it got to the general election, the Republican nominee could simply point out how liberal Obama was. Since voters have regularly rejected liberal Democrats for the presidency -- who was the last one to win, LBJ? -- this would likely be effective.


This is impossible for McCain. For him to attack Obama as a Liberal would mean that he has to run as a Republican in order to define the respective territories. Running as a Republican would likely be the only thing worse than he's doing now, as he would necessarily have hitched his ride from GWB.

Everybody knows W is poisonous, even the local election out at my Mom's has the Republican candidate printing their side of the issues on a blue background, the Democrat incumbent's on a red background. McCain just simply hasn't been able to hoist the (R) flag, though we'll see how desperate and lashing he gets over the next three weeks.
10.16.2008 6:12am
Modus Ponens:
"For example, the Ayers issue...."

STFU, David. Please.
10.16.2008 6:58am
EH (mail):
Buck: If Lieberman is as smart as I think he is, he'll retire rather than run again.
10.16.2008 7:11am
paul lukasiak (mail):
McCain's two biggest missed opportunities were

1) the VP question -- he should have emphasized that Biden repeatedly said that Obama was not ready to be President -- and that he would have been proud to serve with McCain

2) on the education question, he should have emphasized Obama's involvement with the Annenberg Challenge, and the radical programs and ideas that Obama "threw money at".

(I've watched all the debates, and McCain clearly won this one -- but the media gave it to Obama based on his "unflappability".)

McCain's biggest mistake was in not pursuing the themes that gave him the lead for a little bit -- the theme that made Obama the issue. The "rock star" and the "Democrats saying Obama isn't ready" commercials worked.... and by abandoning those themes, McCain abandoned the single advantage he had in a year when the Democratic nominee had all the advantages. The next (series of) commercials should have been about "Obama will say anything" to be President -- focussing on the numerous times that Obama has said stuff that he later denied saying. That would have made McCain's "Obama will raise your taxes" line much more resonant, because Obama has consistently said he wouldn't raise taxes on the middle class and McCain needed to establish the foundation where people would be skeptical of such claims.
10.16.2008 7:42am
just me (mail):
I think on substance McCain won.

I don't think Obama did much other than spout his talking points. Obama, however, didn't have to do much more than that. He was on the defensive for most of the night, but it was a safe defense, and he was sitting on his lead, so as far as the debate changing anything-Obama wins, because he didn't make any big mistakes.

I think the biggest loser of all the debates is the media and "old guy" moderators. If the debates need anything, they need something younger, fresher and a design that will force the candidates away from their talking points. It was the talking point regurgitation that made all the debates rather boring. Shoot if it wasn't for Joe the Plumber half the more interesting exchanges wouldn't have happened.

20 years from now the only person that will remember any of these debates will be Joe the Plumber when he tells his grand kids about his 15 minutes of fame.
10.16.2008 7:54am
Public_Defender (mail):
So McCain thinks Acorn is "destroying the fabric of democracy"? I didn't know Acorn was that powerful.

With apologies to Professor Kerr, McCain has a really bad case of Acorn Derangement Syndrome.
10.16.2008 8:17am
Angus:
Re: McCain won because he was on offense and Obama was on defense. An offense that fails to breach the defense loses. For example, Robert E. Lee was on the defensive the entire Battle of Fredericksburg vs. Ambrose Burnside. Does that mean Burnside won?
has run on everything except "Obama will raise your taxes, regulate through the wazoo, and generally do all the things that cause people like Mike Dukakis, John Kerry, Walter Mondale, etc., to lose."
McCain can't really run on that because polling is showing that 1) People believe Obama will do all of those things, and 2) They are willing to vote for him anyway. That's how toxic the Republican brand is this year. There's a real possibility that the Dems will have 11 Senate pickups, 30-40 House pickups, and the Presidency. All with the Democratic party having terrible Congressional leaders and Obama not running a very effective campaign.
10.16.2008 8:30am
Angus:

But let's not blame Palin.
I know conservatives this year don't believe in polls, but polling is showing consistently that Palin is a drag on the GOP ticket when it comes to undecideds and independents. What good is it to secure the base while pushing away independents?
10.16.2008 8:32am
A. Zarkov (mail):
McCain could have scored points against Obama on the illegal immigration issue. But notice how the press hardly ever brought the subject up. Of course McCain couldn't bring it up because he's worse on the issue than Obama. Thus McCain helped engineer his own defeat. At this point Obama would have to rape a nun to lose the election. Even then he might still win because Obama supports abortion.
10.16.2008 8:44am
Hoosier:
Litigator-London--You guys really are in the cups early on weekdays, what?

JBG--I was going to go along with the Hnnity/JBG comparison. But then I read last night (on this thread?) that Hannity makes $5 mil. per year from his FNC show alone.

Sorry, buddy. But that is "smart."
10.16.2008 8:54am
Arkady:
@ Melancton Smith


Very big missed opportunity to nail Obama on the 2nd Amendment when he allowed him to dance around the 2nd Amendment when discussing justices: can't allow States to legislate away important rights like the 1st Amendment, and uh, other amendments.


Snore. The market just went down 700+ points (again), etc., and you want McCain to start huffing and puffing over something that, while is has orgasmic effects here on the VC, most voters are, if not indifferent to, lukewarm about. McCain had enough sense to stay away from the nonstarter of an issue.
10.16.2008 8:56am
Hoosier:
A. Zarkov--With the financial crisis raging these days, nun-rape is just a distraction. The American people want CHANGE. Not the same old politics of "Who-Raped-Sister-Immaculata" destruction.
10.16.2008 8:56am
loki13 (mail):
Re: Palin,

I was watching the NBC feed for the debate last night (please, don't ask) and they had their 6-pack panel of undecideds. They did the typical hand raising questions. I thought the following two were the most informative:

1. How many of you know someone who won't vote for Obama because of his race?
3 hands shot up (slowly...).

2. How many of you know someone who won't vote for McCain because of his pick of Sarah Palin for VP?
All 6 hands shot up like they were gunners in a 1L torts class.

As for Bernstein wishing McCain had attacked more, I recommend looking at the analysis at fivethirtyeight.com. The insta-numbers were running even *until* the Ayers/ACORN exchange, and then Obama starting pwning McCain. Why? Because it was prefaced with the question of who had been running negative ads more, and if you live in a battleground state, you already know the answer to this (McCain has a commanding lead, and he has not run a positive ad in my state for at least three weeks that I've seen):


Obama, it should be noted, was not particularly effective during this exchange (especially considering that he should have prepped for this kind of sequence days ahead of time), eliciting a lukewarm response from the dial groups. But it turned out that he didn't have to be, as McCain was left with just enough rope to hang himself. And from that point forward, the dials looked like the S&P 500 every time that Obama finished one of his responses and McCain began his. The voters had been pleasantly surprised with the McCain they saw in the first 20 minutes of the debate. But after that disingenuous sequence on negative campaigning, they basically gave up on him.


So yes, perhaps in an alternate universe were independents want the red meat the base does, and McCain is an effective communicator, and Obama is easily rattled, and people weren't worried about real issues, and they hadn't already been exposed to this on the TeeVee by insinuation over and over again, it might be effective.

In other news, I have a pony.
10.16.2008 8:57am
arg11 (mail):
Obama had two big missed points on the character issue:

1) He didn't defend himself when McCain attacked him for slandering McCain's supporters, as if he had actually done such a thing. Obama was talking about people who were yelling "Kill him" at rallies, and McCain said, "I won't stand here and let military wives and veterans be slandered" when Obama had done nothing of the kind. Clearly nothing but a ploy to set up future stump speeches.

2) The head of McCain's transition team lobbied for Saddam Hussein. Talk about guilt-by-association.


Only in America can you act like a four year old for two hours, not listen to questions, constantly interrupt, and be considered the better debater.
10.16.2008 8:58am
DavidBernstein (mail):
and DB arguing that since Senator Obams is untrustworthy when accused of something slimy, we just can't trust him with anything.
Actually, what I said is that this is a potentially effective argument for McCain, given that his whole political persona is based on "straight talk". I also said that I don't think that Obama is necessarily less trustworthy than McCain, and that I don't trust either of them.

With regard to several of the comments, sure, I'd love it if political campaigns were decided based on voters thoughtfully deciding between two candidates who have presented their deepest thoughts on the major issues of the day. That's not how campaigns are decided, however, which is a major reason I don't think much of politics. McCain will likely lose because he is tarred with his association with Pres. Bush, which right now is much more powerful than all of Obama's dubious associations combined. But if you think that the marginal vote for Obama is coming from people who have closely studied their health care plans, I've got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.
10.16.2008 9:08am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Obama's goal was to play defense, and he did it well. He can afford to save his attacks for his ubiquitous media buys. McCain's goal was to shift the direction of the election, and I doubt he succeeded.
10.16.2008 9:10am
DavidBernstein (mail):
As for Bernstein wishing McCain had attacked more, I recommend looking at the analysis at fivethirtyeight.com.
My point was that McCain's attacks were ineffectual, not that there weren't enough of them. All of the examples I gave were of McCain already attacking, but giving garbled, sometimes (as with Joe the Plumber and the Palin "c*nt" t-shirts), incoherent to non-political-junkies responses. And I don't really "wish" McCain had attacked more. If I'm getting wishes, I "wish" we had two different candidates running for president.
10.16.2008 9:19am
BobVDV2 (mail):
The meaner demeanor didn't really work for McCain.
10.16.2008 9:19am
loki13 (mail):
arg11-

I think that is what people 'in the know' would have wanted, but I thought Obama did a perfect job. He basically ignored attacks and refused to take the bait. He appeared above it all, and *gasp* Presidential. Engaging in a tit-for-tat with McCain would simply have tarnished both of them, and Obama didn't need to do that.

McCain was using tactics.
Obama had strategy.

Given his current standing, saying he was playing defense may be a little too pat. Instead, he used the chance to appear calm, cool, rational, and connected to the voters' problems. Given what I've seen, it was a wise choice. He's been nmaking a lot of them. But that's what you get when you have your plan and stick to it. Somehow, it seems to work better than trying to keep throwing up 'game-changers'.

VP? How about that gal from Alaska, goshdarnit?
Suspend the campaign? Why not?
Go negative in the battlegrounds with all my ads? Sure!
Try a different debate strategy each time? Well, something's got to work!

It goes to temperament- and I think this last debate continued that theme.
10.16.2008 9:21am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

Except for the Chicago Sun Times piece, which says it was a "fund-raiser."


You're right, thanks, I didn't notice.

But how does that explain all the people who've been making statements (mostly prior to 10/15, when that article appeared) that it was a fundraiser? What was their source? Were they reading an advance copy of the article? Were they being fake but accurate?

it's highly unlikely that she would ask for money for herself, introduce Obama as her chosen successor, and yet not be asking for money for him, also.


There all sorts of reasons why she would "not be asking for money for him, also." Here's one: he's perfectly capable of asking for money for himself, at his own event, that he calls for that purpose.

You weren't there. Sam Ackerman was. He said this:

the event at Bill Ayers' house (prior to ours) was a fund-raiser for Alice's congressional campaign at which she also introduced Barack as the successor she would like to see elected


He was perfectly free to say this:

the event at Bill Ayers' house (prior to ours) was a fund-raiser for Alice's congressional campaign at which she also introduced Barack as the successor she would like to see elected, and at which she also solicited funds for him


But he didn't.

All you've got on this point is pure speculation. The people (like DB) who are claiming it was a fundraiser for Obama are pretending that they know this for a fact, even though they don't. Sound familiar? It's the same habit that you've got.

then who cares whether it was a fundraiser or just a gathering, and if the Ayers association matters to people, then who cares whether it was a fundraiser or just a gathering?


There are really three separate claims that are being made. I agree that the fundraiser aspect is the least important of the three. Let's review the three:

A) It was an Obama event, not a Palmer event (this would mean, among other things, that the location was chosen by the former and not the latter).
B) It was Obama's inaugural event.
C) It was a fundraiser.

I think A and B are clearly more important than C. And the evidence seems to indicate that A and B are false.

he was introduced at a political event at Bill Ayers' home


He was "introduced" to certain people at that event, and he was "introduced" to other people at other events, including events that preceded this event.

By using that word ("introduced"), you seem to be claiming B. That's the claim that DB and lots of other folks have made. Trouble is, that claim appears to be false.
10.16.2008 9:23am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

But then I read last night (on this thread?) that Hannity makes $5 mil. per year from his FNC show alone.


How do you know how much I get for my show?
10.16.2008 9:23am
loki13 (mail):
DB-

I stand corrected ass regards your OP. I think that our difference is that you believe that the attacks could have been effective; I do not, both because of the person delivering them and because of the place we are in during the campaign. I'm not sure what would have worked for McCain; but he clearly performed at his best during the first 20 minutes before Ayers and ACORN came up.
10.16.2008 9:26am
lpc (mail):
The answer to Jukeboxgrad's questions can be found in the CNN video here, in which a reporter finds that Obama, not Palmer, planned the event, and that indeed Palmer had nothing to do with it except showing up.
10.16.2008 9:31am
Hoosier:
jukebox--AhA! Just as I suspected. You are Larry King!

(How's the new trophy-wife working out?)
10.16.2008 9:51am
DanO29 (mail) (www):
Doom!
10.16.2008 10:10am
pluribus:
McCain made frequent references to Palin's special understanding of autism and the needs of autistic children. He thinks she has an autistic child, when in fact she has a child with Down Syndrome. Get the condition right, then you can figure out how to deal with it. He again referred to the Adler Planetarium projector as an "overhead projector," when that has been adequately explained on the web. It isn't an overhead projector, but the oldest planetairum in the U.S. I have heard that McCain is computer illiterate? Doesn't know how to google. Maybe this explains some of his gaffes. Obama didn't challenge him on these points--they are distractions--to Obama's credit.
10.16.2008 10:27am
SeaDrive:

Buddy, you need to go back and take an Econ 101 class. Joe the Plumber is a small businessman. Most of these types work their tails off to earn a good living. Raising taxes on these business makes it hard to improve your equipment (called 'investing in your business') or hire additional help (called 'providing employment'). Joe needs incentive to work that hard. Usually the incentive is the $$$ he earns to provide a nice living for his family. However, if Obama decides to take all his extra money and 'spread it around', what incentive does Joe have now to work his tail off, invest in his business and provide employment for others? None.


Let's look at this logically. It's OK if we give a break to small business, but only without a ceiling on the size of the business. So Exxon Mobil qualifies.

I had not noticed that progressive income taxes made everyone content to work for minimum wage. Thanks for pointing it out.

One of the big problems with all this political debate is an unrecognized assumption that the status quo is in some way privileged, and that any change is from correct to incorrect. The truth of government is that the status quo is the a jumbled equilibrium of political ideas and individual interests and should have no privilege at all. I'm pretty sure Thomas Jefferson would agree.
10.16.2008 10:37am
Snowdog99 (mail):
@Cold Warrior

"And this from a libertarian who will be voting for Obama."

This made me laugh...seriously. No true libertarian (small or capital "L") would EVER vote for Obama. You're joking, right?
10.16.2008 10:40am
ChrisIowa (mail):
McCain's basic problem is that he is too nice to be a good campaigner at the national level. He only very reluctantly says anything that attacks his opponent in any way. He is under the illusion that the high road will be effective when dealing with a politician that came from the mud and dirt that is Chicago politics.
10.16.2008 10:42am
Sarcastro (www):
I finally caught jukeboxgrad in a lie. NO ONE is hotter than Hannity.

It's clear McCain won against those he most needs to win over: Drudge report readers and people named "Joe."

Soon he'll move onto readers of "The Corner" and people named "Bob" and then the election is pretty much over.

And to all those people who think Obama won? Well, you just love Obama so I can't trust you. Only those who love McCain are truly objective, since we're not blinded by love for the Obamessiah or hatred for the PalinCudda.
10.16.2008 10:44am
pluribus:
I'm sorry, Professor Bernstein, but I agree that McCain "is facetious, smirking, sarcastic, disrespectful, brooding, dismissive, rude, mean, condescending, and up tight..." I cannot claim to be objective, because I will vote for Obama. But I am a loss for the Republicans, having voted for George W. twice and for every other Republican candidate for president since Ford. I have heard that 27 percent of the voters are now registered Republicans. Is that "objective"? I can't really say, but I do believe it is factual.
10.16.2008 10:51am
JosephSlater (mail):
Late to the party, but I'll just add this. As a Joe who lives in Toledo, I was very disappointed that Senators McCain and Obama spent so much time talking about Joe the Plumber from Toledo. Yeah, yeah, but what about me, Joe the Law Professor? I want attention too!!!
10.16.2008 11:01am
Osama Bin Laden (mail):
I look forward to an Obama presidency. How can he have the moral authority to go after me when he has no problem breaking bread with someone who committed the exact same crime that I did?
10.16.2008 11:11am
Melancton Smith:
Arkady wrote:

Snore. The market just went down 700+ points (again), etc., and you want McCain to start huffing and puffing over something that, while is has orgasmic effects here on the VC, most voters are, if not indifferent to, lukewarm about. McCain had enough sense to stay away from the nonstarter of an issue.


Some of us feel that Liberty is more important than security or comfort. Given what Ben Franklin had to say on the subject, we find ourselves in good company.

Funny how it is such a non-starter of an issue that Obama and his campaign and his surrogates continue to lie about his pro-2A creds. If people love gun control so much, why not embrace it?
10.16.2008 11:12am
Uh_Clem (mail):
Bill Clinton had this advice for evaluating who win a presidential debate: turn off the sound, don't listen to the words coming out of their mouths, just watch and see who looks more presidential.

A picture is worth 1000 words.

(Not Photoshopped, BTW. It's the photo used on the front page of Der Standard website this morning.)
10.16.2008 11:19am
Kevin P. (mail):

Litigator-London:
By the politics of almost anywhere in the civilised world (ie outside the USA)...

LOL, another sneering Brit! I am guessing that you must be an Obama supporter. Don't speak too vigorously, since Euro-trash sneering tends to turn off American voters.
10.16.2008 11:20am
pluribus:
David M. Nieporent:

McCain . . . has run on everything except "Obama will raise your taxes, regulate through the wazoo, and generally do all the things that cause people like Mike Dukakis, John Kerry, Walter Mondale, etc., to lose."

Four years ago--eight years ago--that argument resonated with me. Hence my votes for Bush. But in the last eight years, we have run up another five trillion dollars in the national debt and permitted our financial institutions to run amok with greed and inadequate regulation. Right now, I am more concerned with the fact that I have lost several hundred thousand dollars of my lifetime savings than with the probability that I will have to pay a few thousand dollars more when the next income tax time comes around, and I want those who blew up the bubble that just burst to be regulated so they can't do it again. How are we going to pay off the national debt--it's got to be done sooner lr later? Paying taxes is the only way I've heard of. And how are we going to make financial assets safe for those who have worked and saved all their lives? Regulation is the only way I've heard of.
10.16.2008 11:23am
Baseballhead (mail):
Osama Bin Laden (mail):
I look forward to an Obama presidency...
Really? Is this what the righties here have stooped to?
10.16.2008 11:23am
Sarcastro (www):
I would also like to insult Litigator-London. Not only does he disagree with me about who is the best Presidential candidate, but he is from Europe!

Having the temerity to post on an American internet site about the American Presidential race when he's not American! I think he even kinda insulted America while not being American! Can't stand for that.

Whatta tool, just sitting there being not American all day!
10.16.2008 11:25am
Triangle_Man:
Hoosier said...

Am I the only one who was disturbed by Obama's proposal to create "American jobs" by investing in "Soylent Green industries"?

I'm telling you, he's holding something back from us.


No matter how you slice it, it's all about investing in people. Plus, you know, "reduce, reuse, recycle".
10.16.2008 11:27am
Arkady:


Funny how it is such a non-starter of an issue that Obama and his campaign and his surrogates continue to lie about his pro-2A creds. If people love gun control so much, why not embrace it?


From a purely partisan point of view, I would like nothing better than for McCain and Palin to make guns a central issue in every campaign speech from here on out.
10.16.2008 11:32am
LM (mail):
JosephSlater:

Late to the party, but I'll just add this. As a Joe who lives in Toledo, I was very disappointed that Senators McCain and Obama spent so much time talking about Joe the Plumber from Toledo. Yeah, yeah, but what about me, Joe the Law Professor? I want attention too!!!

Toledo beats UM, Obama comes to town, and you're still complaining?

Ingrate.
10.16.2008 11:32am
Anderson (mail):
You tax experts, help me out here: how is Obama's plan going to take away "all" of Joe's profits, as Lily suggests?

Isn't the top bracket going back to 39% from 36% That's going to make Joe unwilling to keep working?

Also, isn't it a bit detrimental to this "loss of incentives" theory that millionaires live and work even in the bad old European countries with higher tax rates?

Higher taxes are unfortunate, but when you've got a skyrocketing deficit and national debt, not least because of a foolish, expensive war, then you've got to get the money somewhere. And taxation is better than borrowing it from China. Someone should ask Joe the Plumber what's *his* plan for reducing the deficit. Earmark elimination ain't gonna do it.
10.16.2008 11:39am
Kevin P. (mail):
I am all for Litigator-London expounding at great length about the uncivilized USA and its only hope for redemption, the great Obama. Go for it, Litigator!
10.16.2008 11:41am
LM (mail):
Buck Turgidson:

This is actually factually wrong. SUSA and Rasmussen have a traditional Republican bias--that is, they usually overestimate Republican support. CBS and Gallup are similarly slanted to the other side. Others--Hotline, ARG, Pew, Fox, Zogby--often tilt unpredictably, but lack an identifiable bias. Overall, it is a reasonable statistical conclusion that Obama has a 6-8% lead and is near 50% support--which would make it statistically significant and virtually insurmountable.

Actually, at least according to Nate Silver (who accurately predicted the rise of the Rays), CBS and Gallup balance Rasmussen and SUSA's ideological bias, but are otherwise infected by far greater pollster introduced error. That said, I think your 6-8% and roughly 50% conclusions are still correct.
10.16.2008 11:47am
Anderson (mail):
Nate Silver (speaking of) has an interesting take on just where McCain went off the rails last night.
10.16.2008 11:50am
Kevin P. (mail):

Anderson (mail):
You tax experts, help me out here: how is Obama's plan going to take away "all" of Joe's profits, as Lily suggests?

Isn't the top bracket going back to 39% from 36% That's going to make Joe unwilling to keep working?


Imagine for a moment that the top marginal bracket went to 90%.

If you worked a job that paid by the hour (like many jobs), if you worked an extra ten hours per week, you would effectively get paid for only one hour.

Would this be worth it to you? I know that I would forgo the extra ten hours of work (and one hour of pay) and spend it on myself and my family. My customers, employees and the economy would ultimately pay the price for my lack of economic output.

Now going from 36% to 39% may not make much of a difference in the case of an individual, who factors many things into this decision. But across the span of the entire economy, a 3% tax hike becomes significant. For a business with several employees that is struggling, it could mean the difference between hiring or firing a couple of employees because it can't afford to pay them any more. And often, these will be lower income employees who are not directly affected by a progressive tax rate.

Ultimately, having the government take more money out of the productive economy and spend it on unproductive things is going to rebound upon everybody, regardless of how much their income is.
10.16.2008 11:50am
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
i hear some people say Bush was polling with results similar to McCain in 2004. I hear others saying the opposite. This actually quite interesting. Please give me some EVIDENCE. Surely, you lawyerly types are up to the task.
10.16.2008 12:05pm
PC:
Jerome Cole, the 2004 polls were nothing like this year's polls. CNN polls here. At this time in 2004 President Bush had an 8 point lead over Senator Kerry.
10.16.2008 12:21pm
Anderson (mail):
Kevin, I get the 90% argument, and from my years as a philosophy undergrad, I am skeptical by training of any argument that depends on "now, pretend this OTHER thing happens ... that's bad ... so this is bad too."

As for the (more plausible) rest of your comment: Yes, there will be incremental negative consequences from higher taxes. But there are also incremental negative consequences from higher deficits, higher national debt, and the kind of cutbacks that would be necessary to pay those down w/out raising taxes. As they say, TANSTAAFL.

(Also, doesn't Obama's plan try to address the specific point about hiring new employees by providing tax credits for small businesses that do just that?)

This country is in T-R-O-U-B-L-E financially, and the squeaks from those who would be paying 39% not 36% frankly don't sound very ... patriotic, to borrow a word.
10.16.2008 12:28pm
Anderson (mail):
Jerome Cole: You might also visit Electoral-Vote.com, which provides a link on the main page for what the polling-based electoral vote appeared to be for the same day in 2004.

There were some people calling the EV for Kerry on the eve of the election, but that wasn't surprising -- the EV was very close, decided by Ohio, and Ohio went Bush by, what, 20,000 votes? That is just the kind of situation where polls by nature are likely to be confounded.
10.16.2008 12:32pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
If you worked a job that paid by the hour (like many jobs), if you worked an extra ten hours per week, you would effectively get paid for only one hour.

Of course no one is suggesting raising top marginal rates that much. Also, how many hourly workers are there in the the top bracket (say over $250,000 per year)? I would say it is very few--maybe divers on oil rigs and a few other highly skilled technicians.

So your argument is just silly.
10.16.2008 12:37pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
That's an implicit acknowledgment that Obama worked for/with, but was never officially "hired" by, ACORN. It was a pretty brazen, and seemingly unnecessary, lie by Obama, but McCain didn't call him on it.

Would have just been more pointless meandering. You, I, John McCain, and Barack Obama know that the ACORN meme is a political tempest in a teapot. ACORN was ripped off by canvassers filling paid by the registration filling out bogus registrations. They are required by law to turn them in because only an election board can reject a filled out form. A number of election boards have said this is registration fraud unlikely to lead to voting fraud it just gives them much more work. McCain can't push it since he praised ACORN just 2 years ago. Both ACORN and Ayers are distractions of a political nature, nothing more.

The real question is should you be able to pay canvassers at all, and if so maybe you should have to gives some money to the election board to pay for all the increased support?
10.16.2008 12:39pm
Kevin P. (mail):

Anderson (mail):
Kevin, I get the 90% argument, and from my years as a philosophy undergrad, I am skeptical by training of any argument that depends on "now, pretend this OTHER thing happens ... that's bad ... so this is bad too."


Anderson, it's not some OTHER thing, it is the SAME thing, just a difference in degree. I used 90% to more clearly illustrate the consequences of marginal tax rates. I am an engineer, not a philosophy grad, so the comparison may be clearer to me than to you.

Incidentally, we have had 90% marginal tax rates in this country, imposed by FDR during WWII. However, WWII was a special situation where the government ran the entire economy with the focus of winning the war, so I am not going to generalize from that period to a peacetime economy.


Yes, there will be incremental negative consequences from higher taxes. But there are also incremental negative consequences from higher deficits, higher national debt, and the kind of cutbacks that would be necessary to pay those down w/out raising taxes.


I agree with this and the ultimate solution to this as to be to start cutting government spending at some point. Unfortunately, both of the major candidates are big government spenders. The huge blockbusters on the horizon are the Social Security and Medicare entitlements, whose spending will balloon through demographic pressures. They will make the war spending look like trifles.


This country is in T-R-O-U-B-L-E financially, and the squeaks from those who would be paying 39% not 36% frankly don't sound very ... patriotic, to borrow a word.

There is no patriotic duty to pay taxes, sorry. There is only a legal duty to do so. Patriotism, legality and morality are different things. If you want to find patriotism in paying taxes (an involuntary act), I can find patriotism for you in all kinds of voluntary acts of commission and omission.
10.16.2008 12:40pm
Sarcastro (www):
[Kevin P. that was great! It was the first time anyone made an argument about high tax rates as a bad incentive that made sense to me!

The idea that a rich individual is giong to stop working cause they make 10% less on that last 5K didn't wash with me. But a small business...that makes some sense.]
10.16.2008 12:41pm
Kevin P. (mail):

J. F. Thomas:
Of course no one is suggesting raising top marginal rates that much... So your argument is just silly.


You missed the "Imagine for a moment... " with which I began my response to Anderson's question. Try reading the whole post the next time, not just some parts of it :-)
10.16.2008 12:45pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
About that Birth Certificate AGAIN: Am I to understand correctly the only known copy we have seen was the one released on KOS?

What does it matter? If his mother was a citizen who had lived in the US for 5 years it doesn't matter where he was born - he was born a US citizen.

He's submitted a valid birth certificate from Hawaii, supposedly you can look up his birth announcement in the local hawaii paper a few days after his birth, its a non-starter for anyone other than conspiracy buffs. Might as well be obsessing about McCain being the Manchurian Candidate from his POW time.
10.16.2008 12:46pm
Kevin P. (mail):
This whole birth certificate thing is a pile of crap. Obama's mother was a US citizen, and he was automatically a natural-born citizen through her even if he was born on the moon. Unless he was somehow switched at birth, this thing is ridiculously far fetched.
10.16.2008 12:53pm
pluribus:
Kevin P.:

Anderson, it's not some OTHER thing, it is the SAME thing, just a difference in degree.

It is peurile to argue that raising the top marginal rate to 39 percent is the same as raising it to 90 percent. Would lowering the rate to 36 percent be the same as lowering is to nothing? My sympathy for Joe the Plumber weakens when I hear him complain about the hardships of making over $250,000 a year. To paraphrase, I don't feel his pain. McCain probably hasn't a clue what it's like to make $250,000 a year. His wife's inherited fortune, coupled with his military pension and his government salary, put him way, way over that measley income.
10.16.2008 12:54pm
PC:
Unless he was somehow switched at birth, this thing is ridiculously far fetched.

Please don't give the tinfoilers more ideas.
10.16.2008 12:56pm
josh:
Sorry I'm late to the comment thread.

Let me reiterate a prior comment to DB:

Thank you for this post. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
10.16.2008 1:00pm
Anderson (mail):
Kevin, the fact that 90% taxes would be unacceptably bad, does not make 39% taxes unacceptably bad.

Re: your hope for significant spending cuts, that is Not Going To Happen. Defense can be cut some, but even w/out the stupid Iraq war (which Obama is trying to get out of, not least on fiscal grounds), we are going to be spending lots of money on soldiers, anti-terrorism, etc.

Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are not going away, and that's the vast majority of the rest of spending.

Since you like arguments "from the extreme," look at what happens if the gov't cuts ALL (or 90%?) of discretionary spending outside those 4 areas I've named. The effect is trivial. And we know that's simply not going to happen in any event.

Much to the dismay of many smart people, Americans like the welfare state. They like Grandpa having Medicare. They even like the poor having Medicaid. We don't much care for the poor, but we're not quite to the point yet in this country of wanting to see them dead.

Taxes have to cover this. We can discuss which taxes and how high, and jigger the tax credits to favor this or disfavor that, but we have to pay taxes, and in the short term at least, we have to pay higher taxes.
10.16.2008 1:00pm
Kevin P. (mail):
pluribus, if you don't get the comparison, you don't get it, sorry. I can't explain it any better than I have already. Perhaps that is my fault.

Incidentally, Joe the Plumber was talking about running and expanding a small business that might pull in over $250K a year, not his personal income.
10.16.2008 1:01pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
loki:

he clearly performed at his best during the first 20 minutes before Ayers and ACORN came up


Instead of staring at the squiggly lines that CNN provides, I decided it might be fun to watch the live trading at Intrade. There was a bunch of selling right around the time that Ayers came up.
10.16.2008 1:05pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
lpc:

The answer to Jukeboxgrad's questions can be found in the CNN video here, in which a reporter finds that Obama, not Palmer, planned the event, and that indeed Palmer had nothing to do with it except showing up.


Gosh, this is tiresome. Have you read this thread? I already mentioned that video. I even indicated exactly the minute and second you should scroll to in order to hear the relevant statements. I also pointed to Angus's comment which explained how poorly sourced that video is. Treating Alice Palmer as a reliable source regarding Obama is a lot like treating Lyda Green as a reliable source regarding Palin.

By the way, please notice that CNN does not quote Palmer saying that this was Obama's inaugural campaign event. Palmer doesn't even say that Obama organized the meeting. She only says that the didn't organize the meeting herself. In other words, it's entirely possible that someone else organized it on her behalf.

CNN's other source is Dr. Young, the same source who was quoted by Politico. According to CNN, Dr. Young said this was "Obama's political coming-out party." That's the smoking gun you're looking for. But here's what that same source told Politico:

I can remember being one of a small group of people who came to Bill Ayers' house to learn that Alice Palmer was stepping down from the senate and running for Congress


Young clearly told Politico that this was a Palmer event, not an Obama event. There's nothing in the Politico article, via Young or any other source, that even hints at the idea that this event was "Obama's political coming-out party." That's a bit hard to explain, and it casts doubt on the way CNN quoted Young. Either Young decided to change his story, or CNN is being careless. Or both. Meanwhile, multiple sources in the Sun-Times piece tell a different story, and are pretty emphatic about it.

Meanwhile, this is what Power Line said on 4/22/08:

Bill Ayers … hosted Barack Obama's first fundraiser


What's the basis for that claim? Of course they don't tell us. You're asserting that the source for that claim was the CNN report. I guess that means Power Line has a time machine. The CNN report came out in October.

This is a standard case of the usual suspects in the echo chamber inventing their own facts, and then repeating them emphatically, and then quoting each other as proof.
10.16.2008 1:05pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

AhA! Just as I suspected. You are Larry King!


It would be better if you didn't tell a lot of people. I already get too much email.
========================
sarcastro:

NO ONE is hotter than Hannity.


You just don't remember what I looked like back in the Flintstones era. I was quite dashing.
10.16.2008 1:05pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
clem:

A picture is worth 1000 words.


That picture is priceless. Unbelievable.
10.16.2008 1:06pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
anderson:

Higher taxes are unfortunate, but when you've got a skyrocketing deficit and national debt, not least because of a foolish, expensive war, then you've got to get the money somewhere.


Another liberal who knows nothing about economics. Money comes from the US Mint. We can print as much as we want.
10.16.2008 1:06pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
kevin:

having the government take more money out of the productive economy and spend it on unproductive things


The key words there are "unproductive things." Here's a good example: breaking things and killing people on the other side of the planet.

I know that I would forgo the extra ten hours of work (and one hour of pay) and spend it on myself and my family.


You might want to consider the possibility that this could actually be a very good thing for you, your family, and your country. Measuring wealth and well-being in strictly short-term economic terms leads to some distortions. The true religion in the US is money, and that might not be such a great idea.
10.16.2008 1:06pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
bob:

If his mother was a citizen who had lived in the US for 5 years it doesn't matter where he was born - he was born a US citizen.


The law was different then. But that's a quibble, because the other parts of your argument are correct, and more important.

kevin:

Obama's mother was a US citizen, and he was automatically a natural-born citizen through her even if he was born on the moon.


See above.
10.16.2008 1:06pm
PC:
Here is another 2004 poll, this time from Real Clear Politics. RCP had Bush ahead of Kerry by 1.5% of the popular vote. President Bush won by 1.4% of the popular vote. Currently Obama has a 6.9 point lead on McCain according to RCP.
10.16.2008 1:06pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
pc:

Here is another 2004 poll


Speaking of polling, I think it's amazing that Obama is leading in VA (by 8.6%, according to RCP). In the last 80 years, only three D candidates (for president) have won VA: LBJ, Truman, and FDR.

If Obama wins VA, he will be doing something that all the following Ds failed to accomplish: Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Dukakis, Mondale, Carter, McGovern, Humphrey, JFK, and Stevenson.

In 2004, Kerry had a lead in VA in this many polls: zero. Bush's lead was never smaller than 2%. This year in VA, McCain hasn't polled above 50% since April.

Similar story in NC. The last D to win NC was Carter.
10.16.2008 1:20pm
Jane:
Higher taxes are unfortunate, but when you've got a skyrocketing deficit and national debt, not least because of a foolish, expensive war, then you've got to get the money somewhere.

Um, yes, but Obama is not talking about reducing the deficit with the money, he want to increase spending. Completely different. You will see the debt increase, and productivity and income in America decline. Quite likely we will see reduced tax reciepts even with a higher tax rate.
10.16.2008 1:21pm
Fury:
jukeboxgrad writes:

"Another liberal who knows nothing about economics. Money comes from the US Mint. We can print as much as we want."

"Money" in the form of coinage is produced by the the U.S. Mint. Money in the form of paper currency is produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
10.16.2008 1:27pm
Lily:
how is Obama's plan going to take away "all" of Joe's profits, as Lily suggests?

Excuse me Buddy, I never suggested that Obama would take away all of Joe's profits. But decreasing the amount of money he get to keep for his extra effort, tends to be a strong disincentive.

Keep in mind, it is likely that Joe gets to keep less than half of the extra money he would earn for his extra effort. In addition to the higher FIT, he also pays State Income Taxes as well as Social Security. And as an owner of the business, he will both sides of that tax (whereas 'wage earners' split the SS tax with their employers). Less than half! Can we discuss that with Obama?
10.16.2008 1:31pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
fury:

Money in the form of paper currency is produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.


You mean there's paper money available in this country? I've got to stop carrying all these coins around.
10.16.2008 1:50pm
JosephSlater (mail):
LM: I think the term for this campaign is "whiner." I guess I'll just be happy for all the "Joe" references in this campaign, be they plumber, six-pack, or Biden.

Triangle_Man: Brilliant line about investment in people. But what does Particle Man think?
10.16.2008 1:56pm
byomtov (mail):
Incidentally, Joe the Plumber was talking about running and expanding a small business that might pull in over $250K a year, not his personal income.

Is he talking about business revenue of $250K/yr? Does he not understand the difference between revenue and profit?

Could be I guess. Following an NRO link I found this article by leading Republican thinker Rush Limbaugh, which clearly indicates he doesn't understand the difference, so why should Joe?
10.16.2008 2:00pm
Fury:
jukeboxgrad writes:

You mean there's paper money available in this country? I've got to stop carrying all these coins around.

If we keep going the way we are, we'll be able to use it for tissue paper...
10.16.2008 2:01pm
mlstx (mail):
jukeboxgrad writes:


jiffy:

Doesn't that make Obama a "natural born citizen" even if he wasn't born in the U.S. (like John McCain)?

That issue is discussed here.

"Here" is a link to an NRO post saying that the statutes in effect at the time of Obama's birth (1961), when applied to his mother, a citizen, would not have given Obama citizenship if he were born abroad.

But I thought NRO and VC readers would be asking a different question -- what did "natural born citizen" mean to the framers? Who cares what statutes say more than 200 years later!

Would a foreign-born McCain or a foreign-born Obama have been a "natural born citizen" in 1789 because they were born to American citizens?

Most scholars have said yes.
10.16.2008 2:03pm
byomtov (mail):
Kevin P.,

For a business with several employees that is struggling, it could mean the difference between hiring or firing a couple of employees because it can't afford to pay them any more. And often, these will be lower income employees who are not directly affected by a progressive tax rate.

Struggling small businesses don't make $250K/yr. And if you hire an employee the pay is a tax-deductible expense, so the higher tax rate has nothing to do with it.
10.16.2008 2:08pm
Suzy (mail):
Warren Buffett started with inherited wealth? What are you talking about? He "started" with paper route money and other stuff he earned from selling things as a kid! He then founded an investment group with a pool of money from his neighbor, sister and some friends. He was giving investment classes and some of his students gave him bigger sums to get started, before he was purchasing Berkshire Hathaway. Where does the inherited wealth come into play here?
10.16.2008 2:23pm
Fury:
jukeboxgrad writes:

Would a foreign-born McCain or a foreign-born Obama have been a "natural born citizen" in 1789 because they were born to American citizens?

Most scholars have said yes.


Thank you for posting this.
10.16.2008 3:01pm
Brian K (mail):
You will see the debt increase, and productivity and income in America decline.

i take it your voting for obama then. reports came out a while ago that mccains plan will increase the debt greater than obamas. (search marginal revolution for numerous convenient links.)
10.16.2008 3:28pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
fury:

Thank you for posting this.


It was mlstx, not me, who posted those interesting and helpful remarks.
10.16.2008 3:35pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Incidentally, Joe the Plumber was talking about running and expanding a small business that might pull in over $250K a year, not his personal income.


A lot of interesting facts are emerging about Joe the Plumber. For example, he's a registered Republican, and he's not a licensed plumber. He appears to be some kind of a plant.

It also appears that he was really talking about buying a business with a value of $250k. That means the revenue is probably some fraction of that.
10.16.2008 3:46pm
Hoosier:
He appears to be some kind of a plant.

Like a ficus or something? Unlikely. Although there was a movie like that in the late '50s. So anything's possible.
10.16.2008 4:28pm
Fury:
jukeboxgrad writes:

A lot of interesting facts are emerging about Joe the Plumber. For example, he's a registered Republican, and he's not a licensed plumber. He appears to be some kind of a plant.


A pretty good recounting of the conversation is found here.

Is there specific information on him appearing to be some kind of plant? I've seen a lot of speculation at this, but the evidence does not seem persuasive.
10.16.2008 4:33pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):

A lot of interesting facts are emerging about Joe the Plumber.


He also thinks Social Security is a joke. One has to wonder if his middle name is Sixpack.
10.16.2008 4:39pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Fury, no specific evidence is needed for jukeboxgrad to find a conspiracy.

In any case, Joe the Plumber is a registered Republican. That's half the evidence right there.
10.16.2008 4:40pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

What is the problem with Obama in providing his original long form birth certificate?

If you ever lose it, you can't get another one. I lost mine, and have to settle for one similar to Obama's.

Reasons to vote for McCain: ...spending reduction, tax reduction.

Under McCain, the government will be buying up a slew of mortgage loans at the housing bubble inflated amounts. How does this constitute a spending reduction? The savings from cutting out one planetarium projector earmark will cover, at most, six bubble mortgages. And "tax reduction" equates directly into "deficit increases." We have to start paying for W.'s spending binge at some point.

Heck Kerry was ahead as was Gore at this time and Bush was a horrible debator and he won.

I can't readily find poll date from mid-October 2004, but Gore did win the popular vote in 2000, as you may recall. Bush was a few points ahead of Kerry at this time in 2004.
10.16.2008 4:44pm
Kevin P. (mail):

byomtov:
And if you hire an employee the pay is a tax-deductible expense, so the higher tax rate has nothing to do with it.


Are you seriously suggesting that the taxes a business pays will have no effect on how many employees it can afford to maintain? Wow!
10.16.2008 4:50pm
Lily:
He also thinks Social Security is a joke.

It has become a joke. Or is it a crime?
10.16.2008 4:52pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Here is more information about Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher. He does work as a plumber at a plumbing company, although he is not licensed as a plumber. It is unclear if he actually needs a plumbing license if he is the employee of a plumbing company.

Considering that the guy was playing football in his front yard - quite a strategic plant, jukeboxgrad! - when Obama walked up to him, the press has dug into his background with an alacrity not seen around Obama himself.
10.16.2008 5:07pm
Kevin P. (mail):
I'll be waiting for jukeboxgrad to withdraw his insinuation that Mr. Wurzelbacher is a sinister Republican plant.
10.16.2008 5:09pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Here is information on Ohio's licensing regime for plumbers. You need:

* Five years experience before you can even apply.
* To be a US citizen - presumably to avoid leaks!
* This fee, that fee and more fees, to be paid every year.

Still more licensing in the county and in the cities.

This is quite a sweetheart deal for licensed plumbers.
10.16.2008 5:14pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Charming. The City of Toledo Plumbing Board of Control may consider a punishment for Wurzelbacher. That should teach him about speaking up to his betters.
10.16.2008 5:32pm
byomtov (mail):
Kevin P.,

Suppose you have a business and are considering hiring an extra worker, who will cost you $50K/yr. How would you decide whether to do that or not?

I think you would estimate how much extra revenue the new employee would bring in. If it's more than $50K you'd make the hire, if less, not. Suppose you conclude that there will be $75K in additional revenue, so you're $25K ahead by hiring. Why would the difference between paying 36% and paying 39% on that $25K matter?

This is a pretty simplified analysis, and I can think of reasons why there might, sometimes, be a small effect. But the idea that Obama's tax plan is going to be devastating to small business is silly, for a number of reasons that are being overlooked.

First, Obama also has a number of tax benefits for small business.

Second, this particular increase is on individual incomes above $250K, not small business profits per se. If a small business (organized as LLC, Sub-S, or partnership) has profits of, say, $400,000 but more than one owner there will be no tax increase.

Third, the $250K is taxable income, not AGI. Individuals with that level of income normally have a fair amount of deductions - mortgage interest, state taxes, etc. It's probably a fair guess that few people with AGI under $300K will actually face a tax increase.
10.16.2008 5:49pm
Fury:
Kevin P. writes:

Charming. The City of Toledo Plumbing Board of Control may consider a punishment for Wurzelbacher. That should teach him about speaking up to his betters.

I think that would depend on if he did work in the City of Toldeo or other townships in Lucas County.
10.16.2008 5:57pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
kevin:

no specific evidence is needed for jukeboxgrad to find a conspiracy


That's pretty ironic, given all the GOP hysteria over ACORN.

Here is more information about Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher. He does work as a plumber at a plumbing company, although he is not licensed as a plumber. It is unclear if he actually needs a plumbing license if he is the employee of a plumbing company.


Here's an idea: try reading the article you cited. It says this:

He is also not registered to operate as a plumber in Ohio, which means he's not a plumber.


Guess what he told Obama: that he's a plumber. So he's a phony. Also see this:

Joe the Plumber is not exactly a plumber, he's "not even close" to making the kind of money that would result in higher taxes from Democrat Barack Obama's proposals and has such an aversion to taxes that a lien was filed against him by the state of Ohio.


And this:

ABC News reported the morning after the debate that Wurzelbacher admitted to a reporter that he won't actually make enough from his new plumbing business to pay Obama's higher tax rates. ABC said his admission "would seem to indicate that he would be eligible for an Obama tax cut."


And of course it's just a coincidence that the guy is related to Charles Keating. See also here.

Considering that the guy was playing football in his front yard - quite a strategic plant, jukeboxgrad! - when Obama walked up to him


Wrong. He walked up to Obama.

This is quite a sweetheart deal for licensed plumbers.


I hope McCain announces loud and clear that he hates unions as much as you do.
10.16.2008 6:29pm
Fury:
jukeboxgrad writes:

"Guess what he told Obama: that he's a plumber. So he's a phony."

That's an incomplete statement. He could indeed be a plumber. He would not need to be licensed/registered depending on where he worked. I suppose a more accurate statement would be if he had told Obama that he did "plumbing work", again depending on where he worked in Ohio.

"And of course it's just a coincidence that the guy is related to Charles Keating. See also here."

The first source you cite says the following:

"You see, Joe Wurzelbacher is apparently (emphasis added) related to Robert Wurzelbacher. Who is the son-in-law of (are you ready...?) Charles Keating!"

The second article you provide makes a more definitive assertion:

"Turns out that Joe Wurzelbacher from the Toledo event is a close relative of Robert Wurzelbacher of Milford, Ohio. Who's Robert Wurzelbacher? Only Charles Keating's son-in-law and the former senior vice president of American Continental, the parent company of the infamous Lincoln Savings and Loan"

The latter article says "close relative" - how is Joe Wurzelbacher related to Robert Wurzelbacher? Has that been determined? If you're going to make the statement "And of course it's just a coincidence that the guy is related to Charles Keating", it would be helpful if you provide some more factual information to back up that claim.
10.16.2008 7:01pm
Kevin P. (mail):
You're conflating "licensed plumber" with "working plumber". The two are not the same.

From the Toledo Blade article:

Mr. Wurzelbacher was playing football in his front yard with his son, Joey, on Sunday afternoon when Mr. Obama made an unscheduled stop to go door to door greeting voters and asking for their support.


But hey, if you want to persuade everyone that the evil McCain campaign planned for Mr. Wurzelbacher to be in his front yard for an unscheduled Obama stop, be my guest.

Also, re: the Keating connection, people are starting to realize that there is actually no proof that the two are related. Maybe they are, but nobody has actually provided some tangible evidence. I suspect that the resident jukeboxgrad of some other blog has seized upon the last name and created himself a connection. Read the comments to your own two links and read the blog posts themselves carefully.
10.16.2008 7:10pm
Colin (mail):
Also, re: the Keating connection, people are starting to realize that there is actually no proof that the two are related.

Why can't Joe the Plumber just provide his long-form birth certificate? How else can we ever truly know that he wasn't born a Keating in Kenya?
10.16.2008 8:31pm
Anderson (mail):
Lily, upthread: However, if Obama decides to take all his extra money and 'spread it around', what incentive does Joe have now to work his tail off, invest in his business and provide employment for others?

Lily, later: Excuse me Buddy, I never suggested that Obama would take away all of Joe's profits.

Whatever.
10.16.2008 8:49pm
Hoosier:
Fury:

///jukeboxgrad writes:

"Guess what he told Obama: that he's a plumber. So he's a phony."

That's an incomplete statement. He could indeed be a plumber. He would not need to be licensed/registered depending on where he worked. I suppose a more accurate statement would be if he had told Obama that he did "plumbing work", again depending on where he worked in Ohio. ///

So now do we re-open the question of Obama's calling himself a "law professor"? Perhaps if Obama were not a "phony" he would have said he "teaches some classes" at UC Law.

///related to Robert Wurzelbacher. Who is the son-in-law of (are you ready...?) Charles Keating!" ///

Is my wife's sister "closely related" to my dad? I bet she doesn't even know his first name.

This is really stooooopid.
10.16.2008 11:26pm
Hoosier:
We've been reduced to this?:


Considering that the guy was playing football in his front yard - quite a strategic plant, jukeboxgrad! - when Obama walked up to him


Wrong. He walked up to Obama.
10.16.2008 11:29pm
CB55 (mail):
If the McCain handlers had vetted Joe The Plumber and Sarah Palin maybe we would be telling a very different story. The fact is McCain shot himself in the head or he had lots of help from his own party. Given the war, the economy and the past 8 years - it's not always happy under the GOP tent as we face the 2008 election. Sure the GOP can and will blame the Liberal Media for making Sarah look like a Class 5 Moron, and for smearing Joe, but at the end of the day Sarah is just good looking and is just as shallow and hum drum as the average voter, and if they want average they can have it with McCain and no need of a plumber. Who needs a plumber when we live on a turd.
10.17.2008 12:03am