Sunday, September 28, 2008



Posted from today's New Republic blog - The Plank

Obama is Winning, But Don't Tell Anyone!

Nate Silver will surely have a more comprehensive (and intelligent) take on all of today's polls soon enough, but for now here is where we stand:

Gallup: Obama +8

Rassmussen: Obama +6

Hotline: Obama +5

As we have seen all year, the daily tracking polls tend to operate within a narrower range than a number of the newspaper/network surveys that only come out periodically. Another way of putting this would be to say that unless something noteable happens very soon, polls next week will begin to show Obama with a double digit lead nationally (The Washington Posta nine-point spread last week). Meanwhile, Gallup has released a separate poll that shows voters judged Obama the winner of last week's debate with John McCain. and ABC News had

The question, then, is this: When will the media stop referring to the candidates, in the wordsNew York Times, as "locked in a tight battle"? The question is a pertinent one because after an unscientific (if not altogether cursory) sampling of friends and family members over a lovely weekend (all of whom, gaspingly, are Obama supporters), the only available, reasonable conclusion is that most Democrats seem to be under the following two impressions: of today's

1. The race could not be any closer.

2. The Palin pick, while irresponsible and reckless, has given the GOP a huge boost.

Now, this may have something to do with a certain inherent liberal pessimism, or with experiences undergone over the past two election cycles, or with fatalism about the idea that the country is finally "ready" to elect a black president. But it also might have something to do with the media's fervent desire to see the race as a nailbiter (which, of course, it very well may turn out to be). But if the election were held today, the national vote (if not the electoral college tally) would look a lot closer to Bush-Dukakis than most people seem willing to concede.

There might be a certain utility in not getting overcofident, especially where it concerns one's heart (be pessimistic!!--it makes losing much, much easier), but the truth of the matter is that right now, Obama is comfortably ahead. In the name of fairness alone, that should be reported on.

--Isaac Chotiner


Posted by Mark from today's


Today's Polls, 9/28

Here's the long and short of it for John McCain: Barack Obama has as large a lead in the election as he's held all year. But there is much less time left on the clock than there was during other Obama periods of strength, such as in February, mid-June or immediately following the Democratic convention. This is a very difficult combination of circumstances for him.

On the strength of a set of national tracking polls that each show Obama at or near his high-water mark all year, our model projects that he would win an election hold today by 4.2 points. It discounts this lead slightly to a projected margin of 3.3 points on November 4, as most races tend to tighten as we approach election day.

This lead might not sound like that much, but it's fairly significant: we've been through two conventions and one debate, voters have dug their heels in, and Obama's position in the Electoral College is extremely robust. Trimming away a 4-5 point lead isn't that difficult over the summer months -- in fact, McCain accomplished exactly that in July and August -- but it's a steeper hill to climb after Labor Day. And if anything, our projection may be lowballing Obama slightly, as the aforementioned national tracking data (which incorporates one day of post-debate interviewing) has Obama's lead in the range of 5-8 points; the model will need Obama to hold those numbers for another day or two before it catches up to them.

Democrats have no reason to be complacent. Although the situation looks dramatically better for them than it did two weeks ago, so too have the stakes of the election increased. The next president will face perhaps the most challenging set of circumstances of any since Franklin Roosevelt, and could potentially have nearly as much impact on the future direction of the country. Obama could very easily lose, and even if he wins, odds are that there will be at least one more swing back toward McCain in the intervening 37 days. Nevertheless, as Isaac Chotiner suggests, I believe that the national punditry is understanding the difficulty of the position that McCain finds himself in.

This article posted by Mark from today's


This has got to be the best thing I've seen yet!!


by Mark Drucker

If the old axiom is true – what you say about others is often true of yourself – then John McCain lost his bid for the presidency in Mississippi. Barack Obama was a true master of ceremonies in this first debate, and he won it handily.

Post debate polls seem to support this notion. Voters felt McCain was condescending, grouchy, snarky and out of touch. Barack, they said, understood them, was more likable and had a sharp grasp of the issues. He shined on economics, held his own on foreign policy, and in fact, taught us much about the state of the world and how he intends to lead. “As President of the United States I reserve the right to speak to anyone I want anywhere in the world if I believe it will keep America safer”, he declared. Slam dunk. Case closed.

McCains’s strategy was to convince the public that Obama was some sort of na├»ve oaf, lacking a fundamental understanding of world affairs. The tactic: repeat, ad nauseum, “….my opponent doesn’t understand…” I didn’t count, but I’m sure he said it somewhere between five and eight times. We prayed Obama would finally go for blood. But let’s understand two things: First, that’s not his style. His counterpunch is always delayed and more thoughtful when it finally arrives. Second, no one has ever been able to expose McCain’s inner Hitler in a public forum. I suggest we stop hoping for it. He always pulls through in a debate. What McCain did do, to no avail, was to persist at chipping away at Barack’s [presumed] inexperience in hopes that he’d come undone – utter the big gaffe or expose some hidden dark side. But it didn’t happen. So if McCain thought he could outsmart the junior senator from Illinois - you know, the one who was president of Harvard Law Review and trained in making arguments in exactly this setting - then he underestimated the steel, the grit, the preparation, the grace and the very superior intellect of the man.

Know your enemy. Obama knows his, and he’s armed. Poised, steady, cool – he listened, he smiled and he hit back. He deflected McCain’s cheap shots, not by directly responding to the insult, but by presenting cogent, smarter, better foreign policy solutions with an alternate point-of–view, thereby persuading us that it is McCain who doesn’t understand the modern world. Obama spoke to the future. He put a different face on diplomacy and the fight against terrorism. McCain looked back. He referenced Reagan’s missile defense system, World War II and Vietnam. This probably worked well for the over-55 Republican viewers, but not too many others. Fortunately, they both had new bracelets.

John McCain needs to set conditions before agreeing to diplomacy. Barack Obama is willing to go and get conditions – make them, create them, negotiate them - face to face with the enemy if need be. I ask you: Who’s the real coward and who is the real warrior? Of the two candidates, which one doesn’t understand?

Obama didn’t take the bait. He didn’t hit back with zingers, and he didn’t recoil. By the end of the evening, the verdict was in. Despite McCain’s attempt at being the 'warm, fuzzy professor to the masses' who can devalue Obama’s seemingly weak grasp of the issues, Obama succeeded at completely deflating both McCain’s central argument and his ego. He was rewarded handsomely in the polls the next morning.


From The Nation: Posted by Mark

Paul Newman

Actors do not usually turn in performances that gain the notice of presidents.

But when Paul Newman decided to take the role of anti-war activist in the early days of the Vietnam imbroglio, he performed so ably – as an early and essential campaigner for Eugene McCarthy in 1968 and prominent supporter of George McGovern – that he ranked high on then-President Richard Nixon's "enemies list."

Newman's name was on the original list of enemies produced by Nixon aide Charles Colson in 1971.

Colson's notes on the memorandum with regard to the actor read: "Paul Newman, California: Radic-lib causes. Heavy McCarthy involvement '68. Used effectively in nationwide T.V. commercials. '72 involvement certain."

The official purpose, according to internal memos that circulated in the Nixon White House prior to the 1972 election was to "screw" liberal politicians, labor leaders, business titans, academics, activists and an actor who might be threats to the president's reelection.

"This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration; stated a bit more bluntly--how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies," wrote White House counsel John Dean.

Newman, who died Friday at age 83, survived and thrived.

He won acting's top honors and even became one of the nation's most successful entrepreneurs, marketing his own exceptionally successful "Newman's Own" brand of salad dressings and organic food. ("It's all been a bad joke that just ran out of control," Newman said of the food business, which allowed him donate more generously than just about anyone in Hollywood or on Wall Street to charity.)

Newman remained political -- dedicated to civil rights, women's rights and gay rights, committed to ending the nuclear arms race and determined to elect opponents of war and militarism.

Newman supported, and even wrote for, The Nation.

And he was a steady campaigner for and contributor to progressive causes and candidates – mostly Democrats but also anti-war Republican Pete McCloskey when he challenged Nixon in the Republican primaries of 1972 and to Green Ralph Nader in 2000. In 2006, the actor helped Connecticut's Ned Lamont mount a successful Democratic primary challenge to U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman. (Newman got so into the Lamont campaign that he even volunteered to do calls for the campaign -- and wrote his own script.)

This year, Newman was a maxed-out contributor to the campaign of Barack Obama for president.

The actor finished his life with more friends and fewer enemies than just about anyone in his chosen profession. And Newman's extensive philanthropy earned him little but praise in his final years.

Yet, Paul Newman was particularly proud to have been an "enemy."

Indeed, he said to the end of his days that the place he held on Nixon's list was "the highest single honor I've ever received."


From Maureen Dowd's op-ed column in today's New York Times.

"...Who would have dreamed that when socialism finally came to the U.S.A.
it would be brought not by Bolsheviks in blue jeans
but Wall Street bankers in Gucci loafers?"