Re: The Cackle

1

The Times political correspondents, and many others too, are capable of making something out of nothing at all. Half the Gore stuff was completely imaginary and fake. The Dean Scream was fake.

We're doomed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 11:37 AM
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"if you think that if the NY Times doesn't mention it, no one will notice the cackle, you're wrong. "

i don't think that, because i'm not a straw man.

but i do think this: if the nytimes didn't turn the personal minutiae of democratic candidates into election-losing pseudo-issues, fewer people would notice those minutiae.

and fewer democrats would lose elections (or have them stolen, as the case may be).


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 11:41 AM
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I agree with Kid B.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 11:45 AM
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Yeah, it really is complete bullshit. Any middleaged person you name is going to have some esthetically off-putting things about them. This really isn't a big deal, you overlook it if it's not important. But once people are writing articles about how ineffably peculiar and wrong some trivial matter of appearance is, it turns into a big deal. Writing this article was simply wrong, and an equivalent article would have been wrong regardless of who it was directed at.

(I'm not saying personal insults are out of bounds -- if someone else's campaign wanted to call Hillary's laugh weird, more power to them. But for a purportedly non-partisan news source to be doing this sort of thing is deeply, fundamentally, screwed up -- it's not news, it's only function is to damage Hillary.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 11:46 AM
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But really, kid said it better.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 11:47 AM
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She giggled, giggled some more, and then couldn't seem to stop giggling

I have never heard her giggle, and I wouldn't describe her laugh as a cackle.

Also, what Emerson and Kid B said.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 11:48 AM
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Her husband doesn't have an off-putting, inappropriate laugh.

Issues of charisma are extremely important to presidential candidates, as well as Presidents.

Which is not to say the New York Times shouldn't go fuck their august selves over the way they cover Democrats.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 11:49 AM
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Do none of you watch The Daily Show? The real scandale is the NYT ripping off Jon Stewart for its political coverage, fer chrissakes.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 11:49 AM
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you can't trust what will says; the other day he said he loved me.

but lb's pretty reliable. she doesn't like anyone very much.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 11:49 AM
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Hey! Did you see how that slut Clinton showed some cleavage the other day???!?! You could also practically tell that she had breasts, if you looked real close in an obsessive Althouse kind of way. Totally slutty and inappropriate.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 11:51 AM
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I agree that their coverage of Democrats is often crappy; this didn't seem like an instance of that. But then, I don't think aesthetically off-putting things are out of bound for serious news coverage.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 11:51 AM
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you can't trust what will says; the other day he said he loved me.

The sad thing is that I'm not sure who made this comment.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 11:52 AM
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just more of us to love, will.
and we all reciprocate.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 11:54 AM
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real scandale

So pretentious. Anyway, the article mentions Stewart's bit.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 11:54 AM
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fewer people would notice those minutiae.

Like ogged, I don't think this is true at all. But I do think that the people, upon noticing, might be less inclined to treat their reaction to such minutiae as politically relevant if they weren't constantly discussed as political issues.

The press attention also helps message consultants to ensure that everybody has the correct negative reaction to Hillary's annoying laugh or John Kerry's horse face or Al Gore's pedantic attitude.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 11:54 AM
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11: It's out of bounds because it makes the reporter's personal esthetic judgment more important than anything else, and falsely presents that judgment as something existing out in the world rather than in the reporter's head. It's simply not an objective fact that Bush was more likeable than Kerry -- I'm a valid, real, existing human being, and completely apart from their politics Bush gives me the creeps, and Kerry is someone I'd be interested in chatting up if I met him socially. Reporting on that as if that reaction to Kerry versus Bush were something that I were literally mistaken about, rather than having personal tastes different from the bulk of the people reporting on the two of them, is fucked up. If you want to report on polling, go crazy, but "I dunno, something about her seems off to me" isn't reporting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 12:00 PM
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Is the Sunday Kid Bitzer male or female? I never remember.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 12:00 PM
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(I am completely pleased by the comments sidebar reading Cut The Cackle over and over. Was that planned, ogged, or just lucky?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 12:04 PM
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16--
it's the journalistic equivalent of push-polling. "many people think that hrc's cackle is an embarrassing, irritating, personal defect that should make her unelectable. do you agree?"
its way over the line.

17--
and on the seventh day shall you rest,and abstain from having a determinate gender.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 12:04 PM
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Just lucky, I guess.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 12:05 PM
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it's the journalistic equivalent of push-polling. "many people think that hrc's cackle is an embarrassing, irritating, personal defect that should make her unelectable. do you agree?"
its way over the line.

Well-said. Look at how few Clinton haters can articulate why they hate her. These elections are too often influenced by likeability due to laziness on the electorate's part. The media exercises too much influence over it.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 12:07 PM
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19: Right. I could see maybe if you wanted to do a comparative piece on everyone in the running: "Which is more of a problem: Rudy's strong and growing resemblance to Death Himself; Edwards' prettyboy callow appearance; Romney's unsettlingly audioanimatronic robot-like-ness; Obama's wing-like ears; or Hillary's nervous cackling?" But picking on one thing like that flaw is self-evidently a huge deal, while other people's flaws aren't politically important, makes me want to get out a flamethrower.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 12:09 PM
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But picking on one thing like that flaw is self-evidently a huge deal, while other people's flaws aren't politically important, makes me want to get out a flamethrower.

Ok, I do concede that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 12:11 PM
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23--
i'll concede anything to get lb to put away her flamethrower.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 12:13 PM
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People can fucking decide for themselves if her laugh annoys them or not. Reporters should spend their time reporting.

I'd say our press is in high school, but I swear to God, I would have been embarrassed to write articles this trivial about student council elections for my high school newspaper. "Is Jill Smith's hair pretty enough to head the student union? Is her opponent's hair a little TOO pretty?"


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 12:15 PM
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Healy also wrote a tabloid-y report on the Clinton marriage, which was rife with rumour and speculation. He doesn't exactly set the gold standard for serious political reporting.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 12:16 PM
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It's the journalistic equivalent of push-polling

Well put. It's irritating because it makes one journalist's opinion "news," it's unevenly applied, and it's sophomoric, as Katherine says. Plus, it crowds out more substantive reporting.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 12:20 PM
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It's really striking how they never seem to pick on these things for Republicans. The last time I remember something like this for a Republican, it was George Bush Sr., who got the reputation of being an out-of-touch wimp. Since then, every Republican is manhood personified.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 12:25 PM
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25: You can't get away with bottom-feeding unless you're at the top. The press is not the only institution that works this way.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 12:35 PM
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The article is almost certainly awesome, and the rest of you are just haters. NYT forever! Specifically, I think the article is fine on the assumption that the NYT has retrenched and is no longer trying to appeal to all comers, but has retreated to the position of news market for Parenthetical America. For national elections, that means it's a Dem paper. In which case, it(or really, a part of it) is picking sides within the Dem contest. I don't love HRC, so I'm fine with some of them slighting her. Don't worry, she has her partisans there as well.

The assumption that the NYT is no longer seeking the same appeal as before might well be wrong.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 12:48 PM
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But then, I don't think aesthetically off-putting things are out of bound for serious news coverage.

Jesus, Ogged, did you just parachute in from Never-never Land?

As I've said, candidate Thompson reminds me of a horrible old drunken pervert, with those jowls and big fat lips. I see him intently working those cheeks and jowls when munches down sausages and biscuits. I see him with his hand in his pants while he chats up a cute teenager. He just looks like the type.

But the major media is covering this up! Only Hillary gets that kind of treatment. What are the chances the Horrible Old Man Thompson ever gets the penetrating, probing, Serious coverage Gore got, and Bill got, and Hillary is getting? Zero.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 12:56 PM
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Odd, that laugh reminds me of my own laugh.

Could the awkwardness be due to the time lag (someone must have mentioned this before)?


Posted by: Venkat | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 1:07 PM
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But then, I don't think aesthetically off-putting things are out of bound for serious news coverage.

Alright, to take this seriously: yes, of course the public responds to presentation.

The "aesthetic" problem with Clinton's laugh (is it aesthetic, or is it more about appropriateness?) weighs differently depending on whether you're talking about the Dem primary or the national election.

Those who already hate Clinton already hate whatever her laugh, understood as a "cackle," signifies.

Backing way up: what is the question here? Do we think that Clinton is losing support in the primary because of this laughing behavior? Or that her broader electability is compromised by the cackle?

Jon Stewart pisses me off sometimes.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 1:10 PM
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You know, people are going to notice her cleavage, and if you think that the NYT doesn't mention write a full article about it, no one will notice, you're wrong.

Break me a give. People notice all sorts of things that aren't suitable material for the NYT.

Also, I think her laugh is really great, actually. And that "cackle" is sexist. So there.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 1:12 PM
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Oh, come on. Like Jon Stewart said, some of those laughs were actually pretty justified. And the only one that sounded "cackly" was the one after the "why are you and the president so partisan?" question.

Both you (ogged) and Stewart, though, make the witch allusion. That's fuckin' bullshit. Oh, god, women occasionally get middle-aged! NOOOOOOOO! Stay away from me with your evil spells!

Jesus.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 1:42 PM
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Oooh! If Hillary's a witch, then the election's in the bag... right?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 1:45 PM
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No, it just means she weighs the same as a duck.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 1:45 PM
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38

Anyway, on the larger point, this kind of "reporting" is bullshit. Not because if they didn't mention it, no one would notice, but because the constant coverage of crap opinions like this as real news gives legitimacy to these observations as grounds for political preference. I'll never forget the time a good family friend (smart middle-aged woman who I respect tremendously) told me she didn't like John Edwards because of some tic he had (I think it was sticking his tongue out of the side of his mouth while thinking about something) that made him look "slimy." I went off on her. I was really shocked.

If this shit wasn't all over reputable newspapers, a lot of relatively smart, mildly political aware people just wouldn't talk about it much. But here we are, discussing her "cackle."


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 1:46 PM
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political aware s/b politically aware


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 1:47 PM
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35:

I didn't actually see the Jon Stewart segment, though a friend found it notable enough to tell me all about it later.

It would appear that the linked NYT article uses the term "The Cackle," so ogged is off the hook, but I dunno whether Stewart used the term and the NYT is picking it up.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 1:54 PM
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38 is correct. While it might be possible that the NYT thinks making only surface criticisms of Dems and ethical criticisms of Republicans displays their Dem-leaning tendencies, it's just not true. It lends legitimacy to the stupid arguments that we only vote for people we'd personally either have sex with or have a beer with, and then they tell us who we'd rather have sex or a beer with.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 2:01 PM
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Speaking of bitching about the NYT, this article in the WaPo reminded me of the NYT style section. "What well-off married couples can learn from this paralyzed man! Because it's all about us, you know."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 2:11 PM
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because the constant coverage of crap opinions like this as real news gives legitimacy to these observations as grounds for political preference

I don't really get this complaint. People are much more competent--or at least experienced--at making such personal judgments than at making fine grained policy judgments. It would be different if these small judgments overwhelmed broad policy commitments, but I don't think that they do. I think Bush did as well as he did in '00 because Republicans made the (inaccurate) case that there wasn't much difference between the parties.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 2:21 PM
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I don't think that they do

I'm pretty sure that research shows you're wrong, Tim.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 2:22 PM
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People are much more competent--or at least experienced--at making such personal judgments than at making fine grained policy judgments.

Sort of the way a lot of people are more competent at losing money in the lottery than they are in investing it.

It would be different if these small judgments overwhelmed broad policy commitments, but I don't think that they do.

This is a tipping point thing. The American People are not necessarily morons, but a lot of the swing voters are. But in effect, the swing voters are The American People. In our system, 51% = 100%. The Republicans have a hardcore authoritarian / militarist / antitax / Christian 30%. All they have to do is get 21 out of the remaining 70 percentage points, and "low-information voters" is where they look.

And they also try to discourage or intimidate as many voters as possible.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 2:32 PM
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It would be different if these small judgments overwhelmed broad policy commitments, but I don't think that they do. I think Bush did as well as he did in '00 because Republicans made the (inaccurate) case that there wasn't much difference between the parties.

Don't you think that case was aided by news coverage that focused on sighs and earth tones, given that the media would have had to be a bunch of raving lunatics to devote as much attention as they did to that crap if there were more important differences between the parties? Further, what's it like under that rock, and can you see the color of the sky from under there?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 2:33 PM
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Hillary is going to get SCMT, and his little dog too.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 2:35 PM
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Speaking of That woman, scroll down a bit on this page:

http://www.freakingnews.com/Partial-Face-Transplants-Pictures---1233.asp


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 2:35 PM
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46: I want to see evidence that the NYT (or some other sinning media) is the significant media in the rural areas that went most heavily for Bush. Or something. Maybe that the suburbs that switched received the NYT. My suspicion is that the places where NYT has significant penetration overwhelmingly went for the Dem candidate. I'm increasingly suspicious of the broadest of the anti-MSM charges.

That isn't to say that the MSM doesn't suck in many, many ways, and hasn't harmed the country with it's idiocy.

(Note also that most of the Big Media Dems--by my recollection--supported the war. As did HRC and Bill. Which suggests that, at a minimum, on the big issue of the day, there was a smaller difference between Bush and Big Media Dems (and HRC and Bill) than between you and Big Media Dems.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 2:46 PM
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49:there was a smaller difference between Bush and Big Media Dems (and HRC and Bill) than between you and Big Media Dems.)

I'm going back to my new book on Gramsci. I hope I can pick out some wisdom not completely deracinated by academia.

Y'all continue countering the cackle calumny.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 2:54 PM
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I'm not a big Hillary fan, but I agree with B. about liking the laugh. Maybe it's just because I too have something of a guffaw, but I find it humanizing (not robotifying, as Stewart would have it).


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:01 PM
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49: This is tough -- what gets brought up as evidence in these arguments is print media, because that's what's searchable after the fact. But what gets said in the Times and the Wash Post gets repeated on TV. I really don't believe that the "Gore's a filthy liar who hired a feminist to dress him because he's not a real man" was limited to elite media outlets -- from what I remember at the time, it was all over TV as well.

In 2000, no one supported the war; it wasn't on the table yet. In 2004, "supporting the war" is more complicated, and I'm not sure how what you say affects what we're talking about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:02 PM
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Slate also "reported" on this.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:02 PM
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49.1: Honestly, Tim, that's just silly. JoeBob Sixpack doesn't have to read the NYT for the paper's focus on (say) Hillary's boobs and laugh to reach him. See, the MSM works by defining certain things--boobs, laughter--as "issues" (and they defend this practice by saying "the people are interested in it"). Once it's in the NYT, WaPo, whatever, it gets picked up by the nightly news and the talk shows as a "real issue" and then it's the only thing that gets talked about. You'll notice, for example, as LeBlanc pointed out, that we--unlike JoeBob, poor unenlightened soul that he is--who *do* read the NYT are, in fact, sitting here talking about the woman's laugh.

This process can obviously work in reverse, too; from the tabloids to the MSM.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:06 PM
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52, 49:

Slightly stupid questions:

But what gets said in the Times and the Wash Post gets repeated on TV

Is this true? I don't watch news on tv. Do they pick up print stories?

It's certainly the case that most of the American public gets its news from tv. (But *not* the Sunday talking-head shows.)

Where news comes from newspapers, the local papers, sure, but I think also USA Today. That's the paper I tend to see lying about in the doctor's office or the train station or the airport.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:14 PM
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JoeBob Sixpack

It strikes me, thanks to the other thread, that Joe Sixpack has a beer gut. Eventually these two uses will meet and explode.

Nixon's five-o-clock shadow cost him an election, too.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:14 PM
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People are much more competent--or at least experienced--at making such personal judgments than at making fine grained policy judgments.

People are good at making personal judgments of people they actually know. When it comes to politicians, they take the media's word for it. And all of the research I've read indicates that policy positions are definitely not the most important factor, for most people, in making a decision of who to vote for.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:15 PM
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Yeah, the loathesome NYT and Wapo have a validating function. The straw that stirs the drink. The trickle-down effect.

Also, the core Republicans aren't in play. The NYT speaks to the swing moderates who decide elections.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:18 PM
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People are good at making personal judgments of people they actually know.

If that were true, life would be much different, and relationships would eb a good thing.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:25 PM
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i sorta disagree with 57, although it depends on what value of 'personal judgements' one uses. But whatever one is measuring, people are worse at judgeing it from tv appearences, where the main thing seen are out of context quote, no reaction shots are used, and everything is very orchestrated.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:26 PM
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52: I'm trying to figure out what I'm reacting to in various complaints about the MSM, and I think it's the unspoken Technocrats Claim that if only The People were well informed, they'd vote the way we vote. Increasingly, I don't think that's true. So I'm trying to figure out what I think various parts of the MSM have done wrong.

1. I think they have been guilty of the sort of certification that B talks about in #54, but I'm not sure how that works to shape voters' decisions. I think people were always disinclined to vote for Gore because he comes off as a pedantic bore (a charge that has been around, I think, for twenty years.) I think the media reported on Gore the Bore, etc., because the media has increasingly become about Infotainment. Maybe that made it more clear that Gore was boring, but I have a hard time believing voters wouldn't have known that, and voted accordingly.

2. I think their attempts at even-handedness have been much more damaging, and are probably a function of (a) lack of expertise, (b) being gamed because of that lack of expertise, and (c) an attempt to appeal widely. They just can't do that. Most people need analysis to make sense of news reporting. An unwillingness to do such analysis, or only do so "evenhandedly," is just crushing. But I think that's a function of a mistake in the media culture.

Really, I think I'm just not clear on how the media affects voters' decisions and to what extent. I think that there's a tendency to believe that the everyone treats the media as we (or I) do, but I'm not sure that's true. I don't know. I'm not sure how many places there were that were harder pickups than Gore (or Kerry) thought that they would be.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:29 PM
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I'm trying to figure out what I'm reacting to in various complaints about the MSM.....

So are we all, Tim. Why do you do these things?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:37 PM
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This is just being picked up on because it resonates with Hilary's general inauthenticity problem. Stewart was right about that robotic quality. Clinton vs. Romney: all fake in '08!

But "fakeness" is a tricky quality for a politician. So much of political life is and almost must be "fake" in order to remain inoffensive to at least 51% of the people. Some people can pull it off better than others. I suspect Hilary can come off as wooden in public because she is actually a little less comfortable with telling everyone what they want to hear than her husband was. I just wish I had a notion of what core beliefs Hilary would really take risks for. I have a unpleasant feeling that avoiding further wars in the ME is not one of those core issues, but I'm hoping I'm wrong.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:38 PM
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Really, I think I'm just not clear on how the media affects voters' decisions and to what extent.

Nobody really is, Tim, but most of us guess better than you do. "Quite a bit" is a pretty good answer.

The Republican campaigns are at the level of rumor-spreading, with multiple coordinated repetitions of carefully-chosen sound-bites in media of all kinds. The media shouldn't play along, but they do.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:41 PM
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59:Relationships can still be a good thing, even if you accept that the loved one across the breakfast table is likely as not to stick their grapefruit spoon in your eye. Or even if you are not sure about yourself, wondering if those impulses are really under control. Examining those violent urges in a radical subjectivity that recognizes the infinite alien incomprehensible otherness of that pod zombie person pretending to be your partner with those little wordslips and facial expressions that may not have been there yesterday...

...this is the zest of life.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:43 PM
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A rift develops between McManus and Emerson! Can fights over proper calf development be far behind?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:45 PM
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65: McManus proves he's insane one more time.

63: Alas, it's much worse than that. Making only the most minimal concessions to peace Democrats is Hillary's bottom line. She has vote-counting reasons (which will probably be false in 2008), but she's also part of the interventionist establishment. She's been very firm about rejecting only the execution of the Iraq War.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:49 PM
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But whatever one is measuring, people are worse at judgeing it from tv appearences, where the main thing seen are out of context quote, no reaction shots are used, and everything is very orchestrated.

This is all I meant -- people are better at making personal judgments in person than on TV. I'll allow for the fact that some of you chumps can't read minds yet.

Technocrats Claim that if only The People were well informed, they'd vote the way we vote. Increasingly, I don't think that's true.

Here, I agree with Tim. The problem isn't (just) that The People don't have the right facts. This is something that even, for instance, Lakoff and Luntz agree on.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:51 PM
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Stewart was right about that robotic quality.

No, Stewart is repeating a narrative that's old. Why he's perpetuating it is a question.

There are two ways in which we might characterize Clinton as robotic: in affect; or in terms of her membership in the Corporate Party.

I have no problem with talking about the latter. I do have a problem with glib, easy, dismissive sneering at her public presentation.

It's a cop-out on Stewart's part. He knows better. The fact that he's paid attention to on a wider scale means that he has a bit more responsibility to consider his remarks.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 3:53 PM
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it resonates with Hilary's general inauthenticity problem

Tail, meet dog. There's nothing wrong with her laugh--unless you're preconditioned to think everything she does is "inauthentic" or "robotic." Because, of course, a woman who (successfully) manages to avoid the uber-feminine self-presentation that will get her dismissed as soft is, therefore, fake (all *real* women are uber-feminine, y'see) or else robotic.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:01 PM
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The problem isn't (just) that The People don't have the right facts.

No; it's that The People (including us) make a lot of decisions based on irrational things like whether or not we like a candidate's laugh.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:02 PM
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70: I am conditioned in no such way, and I find Hillary utterly uncharismatic, in ways which I believe it is extremely important for a leader to exhibit charisma. Go figure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:04 PM
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You know, I actually watched Hillary on at least three of the Sunday shows (Don't tell me I got nuthin' to do), and saw her laughter in context. I must say that I did notice it. In my superficial lizard brain, it registered as a very human and appealing reaction.

But then again, I'd like to drink a beer with John Kerry or Al Gore, too.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:04 PM
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I know John Kerry, and I'm not sure I would enjoy going for a beer with him. Go, again, figure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:05 PM
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Because, of course, a woman who (successfully) manages to avoid the uber-feminine self-presentation that will get her dismissed as soft is, therefore, fake (all *real* women are uber-feminine, y'see) or else robotic.

Or, you know, because she comes off like a robot. Like Gore and, to some extent, like Kerry. (Or Bob Wright.) Some people lack a certain hyper-charm that translates across the television screen.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:05 PM
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72, 75: Oh? I find her perfectly likeable and charismatic, and I'm willing to say that this probably has something to do with my being conditioned to like her because of what she represents and some of the things she's said.

And you know, I'm not the only person in the entire universe who likes her. A lot of women do. Hmm.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:08 PM
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69: "old" doesn't mean wrong. You really couldn't see what Stewart was talking about with her affect? Her advisors see it, that's why they've instructed her to laugh so much. Stewart's a comedian, he's going to be glib.

There might be a connection between "corporate party" charges (whatever that is supposed to mean, exactly) and affect. I think politicians who are personally more technocratic and analytic are less comfortable with using language instrumentally in the way it's used in political rhetoric. It's not their natural mode of communication, they seem uncomfortable doing it. In an odd way, perhaps that's because they themselves are more aware of and therefore distanced from their own falseness.

If you think high-minded media shouldn't be talking too much about affect at all, accurately or not, well I have more sympathy there. It does tend to lead to a ton of bullshit.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:09 PM
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Because, of course, a woman who (successfully) manages to avoid the uber-feminine self-presentation that will get her dismissed as soft is, therefore, fake (all *real* women are uber-feminine, y'see) or else robotic.

With Hillary, I think it's the inverse. The assumption is that she's really quite masculine: hard-edged, ambitious, cold, calculating, and etc... Hence anything she does that seems to soften or feminize her image must be fake (because in reality she's a mannish, though man-hating, lesbian, of course).


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:09 PM
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78: It's probably both. I mean, to be "really" cold and calculating = to be "really" machine-like. And it's not as if we're not collectively capable of having mutually incompatible expectations of things.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:11 PM
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Maybe that made it more clear that Gore was boring, but I have a hard time believing voters wouldn't have known that, and voted accordingly.

I find this puzzling, Tim. Why do you think Gore is boring?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:12 PM
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76: a lot of people like Mitt Romney, too, and I find him completely robotic and unappealing. Go figure.

Really, though, I can tell you 100% for sure that I do not, as a general rule, find women who are accomplished and ambitious (and who avoid the submissive, feminine role in their professional lives) to be fake or robotic. My mom, just as a f'rinstance, fits exactly this profile, and I don't find her the least bit robotic or fake. Hillary I do (on the fake tip, at least). Go figure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:13 PM
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76: How are we to account for all the men in the world that various people find either charming or not-charming? Or does this just reduce to "Everyone should like everyone, and if they don't, it's conditioning"? Could well be true, but who cares? That's not something that's going away.

80: Because he is. If you don't find him pedantic, long-winded, and occasionally hectoring, I don't know what to tell you. As I said above, this isn't a new problem for him.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:15 PM
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B, this is another criticism of Hillary that you rebut by impliciting "you just don't like women (in authority roles)" when I think most people here can think of women in leadership roles that we don't find grating.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:15 PM
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Okay, Tweety, you like fat chicks. Bully for you. The point, however, remains.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:15 PM
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No, Stewart is repeating a narrative that's old. Why he's perpetuating it is a question.

I'm willing to give Stewart a pass on this. After all, he is a comedian, and comedians use stereotypes as a kind of shorthand.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:16 PM
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61, 68:

The thing is, there isn't a single "The People". Better than half the people are pretty much locked in to one party or the other, whether out of irrational tribal identification, sincere and well-informed belief that that party will serve their policy goals better than the other, or having been duped about who will better serve their policy goals.

When we're talking about who this stuff affects, we don't have to be talking about most of "The People", just a certain percentage.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:17 PM
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84: for some hypothetical male not including any of the ones in this thread? I, along with Tim and whoever, am the exception that proves the universal rule? Just because you (and a lot of people) like Hillary doesn't actually mean that everybody who doesn't like her is a disingenuous sexist.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:17 PM
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B and IA, whose minds do you think you're reading? Guessing about why people don't like someone is about as fruitful as the electability game of guessing what the "regular" voter wants, and it annoys everyone who doesn't think you've gotten it right. Hillary looks and sounds a lot like my first girlfriend's mother, and her laugh reminds of first girlfriend's mom's mirthless laugh and I feel like I know what's going on with her. That's why I don't like it. Betchya wouldn't have guessed that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:18 PM
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82: Why would people deciding who to vote for give a damn about boringness or otherwise unless people kicked up a fuss about it? Who expects to get much lighthearted entertainment out of the President, and if the answer is "plenty of people", shouldn't anyone who cares about governance not encourage them to make descisions on that basis?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:19 PM
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89: see, I think the ability to get a point across to people, and the ability to come off as likable and believable and competent, is extremely important for the President. It is obviously not sufficient, but it surely is necessary.

88 rules.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:21 PM
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Oh my god, this kind of conversation is so frustrating.

No one is claiming to read anyone's mind, defensive guys. What I'm doing is looking at the kinds of things that are frequently said and repeated about (in this case) HRC and pointing out the way those things draw on certain ideas (memes!) about femininity, powerful women, etc. E.g., the "cackle" = "witch" thing that Parsimon pointed out upthread.

You can deny that these associations exist, or you can admit that they exist but claim that you, personally, are so enlightened that they don't affect you at all. And I can claim that in that case you are either lying or (since I would never accuse any of you of such a thing) being hopelessly naive. Do none of you remember the thread where the guys were shocked, shocked! to find that women are frequently told to smile by complete strangers?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:22 PM
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No one is claiming to read anyone's mind, defensive guys. What I'm doing is looking at the kinds of things that are frequently said and repeated about (in this case) HRC and pointing out the way those things draw on certain ideas (memes!) about femininity, powerful women, etc. E.g., the "cackle" = "witch" thing that Parsimon pointed out upthread.

Sure, okay, those associations exist. The problem is assuming that it therefore follows that everybody who doesn't like HRC doesn't like her because they are slave to those associations.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:24 PM
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a woman who (successfully) manages to avoid the uber-feminine self-presentation that will get her dismissed as soft is, therefore, fake (all *real* women are uber-feminine, y'see) or else robotic.

Like Margaret Thatcher, right? The sexism card doesn't work here, a man with her persona would have difficulty with it as well (e.g. a guy like Mitt Romney). Hilary's obviously a ferociously self-disciplined, high controlled person. She doesn't have an easy or empathetic manner at all (such a manner is very helpful for male politicians as well). Yet at the same time she's not an ideologically driven inspirational type in the way Thatcher could be.

I think that in the end Hilary's appeal will come down to managerial competence (something that resonates with her persona and ideals), combined with the assumed additional warmth possessed by a woman. In that sense, I think being a woman could easily be an advantage to her this cycle. It also gives her an easy way to stand for change, to a pretty dissatisfied electorate that doesn't want the same old thing.

I think Romney will be the most dangerous general election opponent for her, and one reason is because they are rather similar.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:25 PM
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I'm sorry to admit it, but I've watched all but one or two of the (bijillion) Democratic primary debates, and Clinton's laugh had started to bug me.

The first time I heard it, as a response to a rude question, I just loved it. It lit up her face, made her pretty and human and mature, and for a moment I forgot all the reasons I mistrust her. But at every single subsequent debate, she's replayed an identical moment! At the most recent one---Wednesday?---she grinned instead of laughed, and I was kinda relieved. But the charm of the laugh, the first time you hear it, is very real.

The problem is that she's got to aim for the low-information voters---those who'll catch her live only once or twice---but those damned high-information journalists get bored and cynical very quickly. (Sometimes they might even think they're being helpful by pointing such a thing out; probably they think their one little feature---which they've struggled for!---couldn't possibly do much harm.) I don't really know what the solution is.

Did the NYT run a couple of articles on that Giulani phone-call thing? Because that deserves to become a byword for campaign calculation.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:25 PM
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Why would people deciding who to vote for give a damn about boringness or otherwise unless people kicked up a fuss about it?

Because people tend to favor, in all walks of life, people they like. So we find out that attractive people are more likely to get the job than similarly qualified unattractive people, charming over charmless, etc. People are rightly looking for someone to act in their stead when they pick a politician. The issues that will be most important are unknown. So, in picking someone, and all else being equal, they pick the person they like. (If you object that all else is not equal, well, I agree. But that requires the media to stop with nationalized "evenhandedness." )


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:26 PM
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I think the ability to get a point across to people, and the ability to come off as likable and believable and competent, is extremely important for the President. It is obviously not sufficient, but it surely is necessary.

Right. Emerson's right, that basically the only people politicians are playing to and trying to persuade are swing voters, and swing voters, as folks who haven't pre-decided based on a candidate's party and positions on the issues, are almost by definition fucking idiots. Next to the combination of who has the White House and how are things going, personal likability is the most important thing about a candidate.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:27 PM
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The problem is assuming that it therefore follows that everybody who doesn't like HRC doesn't like her because they are slave to those associations.

Where did I claim that? What I claimed is that our reactions to public figures are conditioned by how they are defined for us--which is done by the MSM, by these same tropes, by the culture we all live in. The, "well sure, but not ME" response is ridiculous. Were you raised under a rock?

You don't have to be a slave to recognize that just like poor stupid JoeBob Sixpack, you don't make up your mind about things based purely on the highest and most rational principles.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:29 PM
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90: Okay, but there's a huge difference between boring to watch on TV and "I think he's going to be ineffective in functioning as a world leader because people won't listen to him in person." I mean, an incredible, ginormous difference. And confusing the two things is, I think (A) encouraged by the kind of stupid coverage we're talking about, and (B) incredibly stupid in itself. Honestly, if he can get elected to the Senate, and function in the Senate, he can function on the level you're talking about.

The same thing with Hillary's laugh. Do any of you really think that this actually is a matter of substance -- that the laugh reveals poor character, or some lack of skill in self-presentation that would make her function poorly in some significant manner as President? If you do, I just can't have this conversation, both because there's nothing more to say and I'll be even ruder than I've already been. If you don't, then whyever people react to it negatively, having the news media encouraging people to pay attention to it is just wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:29 PM
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"Why should America vote for someone who is fooled by George Bush?"

I dunno, ogged, as with John Stewart and Hillary, I thought the Chris Wallace line was a funny one. And Bill Maher is a professional comedian who was making a joke for Chrissake. And it was a pretty decent joke made at Hillary's expense. Out of her available choices, I can't help but think that there isn't one that would have satisfied her critics.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:32 PM
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What I claimed is that our reactions to public figures are conditioned by how they are defined for us--which is done by the MSM, by these same tropes, by the culture we all live in.

So it does reduce to "Everyone should like everyone, and if they don't, it's conditioning." Go figure.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:32 PM
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A. i do not like Bill or Hillary on the issues.

B. There's as special American problem here. Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, and Golda Meir are recent examples of successful, powerful female political leaders. All of them played key roles during critical times. For whatever reason, many Americans are resistant to someone like that. Not good thing about Americans.

C. W've been talking about the Times and the Post, but the TV media is batshit insane. O'Reilly and Limbaugh are habitual liars who fly into a rage if you dare to accurately quote their own words back to them. To them it's fanatical extremist slander to do that. You cannot exaggerate how horrible these two tremendously-influential guys are. And Cliff Mathews, who isn't even a Republican, has really sick obsessions about sex, especially if it involves the Clintons. He's sane only in comparison to the other two.

D. The stupid voters are blamed far too much. Our media is almost completely toxic. There are a lot of reasons why most voters aren't able to ignore the broadcast media and dig for the truth. In a healthy nation they wouldn't have to do so the way they do nowadays. The media elite is really the main problem.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:33 PM
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100: Yeah, that's precisely what I'm saying, Tim. How astute of you.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:33 PM
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those damned high-information journalists get bored and cynical very quickly.

Yeah. You know, everything high-level presidential candidates do actually *is* canned. It's repeated dozens and sometimes hundreds of times to different audiences. Campaign journalists hear every performance, they can sometimes repeat candidates stump speeches word for word. It takes a particular kind of skill not to make it seem canned. Guys like Bill Clinton and Reagan were natural performers, they had it. Most don't. Hilary doesn't.

At the same time, I think she has what it takes to become President. The same non-stop drive and tight self-discipline that sometimes makes her seem stiff also leads her to be very reliably on-message. She rarely makes public mistakes or goes off the script. She's also less wooden in delivery than Gore was, and can project a sort of warmth as well.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:34 PM
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96: Can you please distinguish between 'most important' in terms of 'likely to affect their performance in office' and 'most important' in terms of 'likely to affect the chance that the average voter who I, Ogged, regard as a hopeless moron will vote for them'?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:34 PM
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Responding to 97 and 98: nobody makes decisions based on the highest and most rational principles. Further, a big part of a President's job is to convince half-attentive idiots of the wisdom of a certain course of action. If you're talking about actual, specific competence to make the specific judgments that a President must make, well, I'm still distrustful of Hillary (mostly because of the war). But that's, like, a tiny part of what the President does. In terms of shaping domestic opinion and world opinion, it is absolutely vital that a President have the force of personality such that people (even uninformed halfwits) want to follow them, and believe in them, and are willing to go against their own first instincts to do so. I have yet to see Hillary provoke that reaction in anybody, though of course I'm perfectly happy to have you prove me wrong.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:35 PM
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Guys like Bill Clinton and Reagan were natural performers, they had it.

You know, I remember a lot of criticism of Bill for being fake back in the day.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:35 PM
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102: Maybe you disagree in your deep deep mind, but its what your words are conveying.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:35 PM
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In terms of shaping domestic opinion and world opinion, it is absolutely vital that a President have the force of personality such that people (even uninformed halfwits) want to follow them, and believe in them, and are willing to go against their own first instincts to do so.

Why? What bad thing do you expect to happen for lack of this, that you call it absolutely vital?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:36 PM
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96: in this case, the latter, LB, but not "the average voter" but swing voters.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:36 PM
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104: not easily, no.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:37 PM
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we find out that attractive people are more likely to get the job than similarly qualified unattractive people, charming over charmless, etc.

Tim, you have expressed an inability to understand how the MSM can drive narratives related to charm and likeability. Are you also oblivious to the manner in which the media influences the public perception of beauty?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:37 PM
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The thing about making often-repeated canned shit seem natural is you have to actually be interested in what you're saying. That Hillary doesn't seme to care about what she talks about, and is in politics not especially because she's passionate about some issue, can be correlated.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:38 PM
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I have yet to see Hillary provoke that reaction in anybody

What? She's the Senator of NY. She's got first-name recognition. She's got a lot of support among middle and upper middle class women: we *like* her. I like her so much I'm tempted to vote for her despite my concerns about her positions on the war and on civil liberties and executive power.

And even if that were true--that no one likes her or would follow her--you think that wouldn't have anything to do with the gendered subtext of the way she's talked about?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:38 PM
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108: The point is that you're not talking about what's actually important, you're talking about what will affect the opinions of a group of people who you think of (probably accurately) as stupid, uninformed, and not like you. At which point, fuck it, let's talk about the policy and kick up a fuss when people start lying about our candidates, but getting bent out of shape about the reactions of a bunch of people which you're only theorizing about is a counterproductive waste of energy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:39 PM
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110: Nonsense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:40 PM
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109: a Democratic President who is unable to overcome the institutional biases of DC and the media, and who therefore is unable to even claim for an instant to support an actual progressive agenda, for fear of losing what half-hearted support they have. A Democratic President who is constantly on the defensive when dealing with foreign leaders, because they are convinced they will be percieved as "soft." A Democratic President who is constantly second-guessing their own judgments in order to (fail to) gain the trust of the fucking idiots that have to believe in them. These are the bad things I worry about.

But really, I don't know why it has to be this complicated. I don't like Hillary Clinton because I don't like her. I don't like the way she comes off, I don't like the positions she takes on the issues, I don't trust her. You could tell me that this is the result of my unexamined biases, I could tell you that's a bunch of horsepuckey, and here we are.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:41 PM
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116: The points in paragraph one are nothing to do with the woman's laugh.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:42 PM
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I don't have much to add to our Hillary! discussion, but I wanted to point out that although I showed up late, I totally won the first concert thread.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:43 PM
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But really, I don't know why it has to be this complicated. I don't like Hillary Clinton because I don't like her. I don't like the way she comes off, I don't like the positions she takes on the issues, I don't trust her. You could tell me that this is the result of my unexamined biases, I could tell you that's a bunch of horsepuckey, and here we are.

Sifu speaks for me, so I retire from the thread. Until I unretire, but you know what I mean.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:43 PM
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117: but, if you buy that she is laughing for a reason (rather than just because she thinks it's funny when people insult her) then of course they do.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:44 PM
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116: Do any of those things sound familiar from the 90s, when we elected Super CharismaBoy? Whatever level of endearingness you're expecting from a candidate to protect against that crap, it's got to be a shitload more than Bill had, and I think Bill is up against some hard biological limits in terms of how much charisma the human body can hold. Charisma isn't going to solve that category of problem -- I don't know what is, but I know charisma won't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:44 PM
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The stupid voters are blamed far too much. Our media is almost completely toxic.

Hear ! Hear ! There is a world full of people who have a reasonably rational lack of interest in politics. They are very poorly served by the media, and poorly served by their more politically involved fellow-citizens who believe that the media appropriately treats them like morons.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:45 PM
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98: The same thing with Hillary's laugh. Do any of you really think that this actually is a matter of substance

No, at the end of the day it's really not. I do think it offers a bit of a window into something real about her emotional wiring. But it's not substantial in the sense that it says very much about what she would do as President. Still, there's a fascination with the emotional wiring of the people we give so much power to. And there are some weird subterranean connections sometimes...it's hard not to think Bush's frat-boy snigger was in some way connected to his anti-intellectualism and pigheadedness. Who knows, though, maybe I'm reading back into it.

106: yeah, Bill was "slick", he projected such overwhelming empathy and concern that people would claim it must be fake. But that charge never really stuck with voters, he was always highly popular and his speeches almost always boosted his ratings. Point is, Hilary doesn't project that empathy and concern in the first place.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:45 PM
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119: That sounds to me like "I don't want her elected, so I'm happy to see the Times campaigning against her." That's not a crazy position -- there are candidates I'd feel that way about. Anyone who wants, purportedly objective or not, should be taking cheapshots at Rudy. But admit that's what's going on: this isn't neutral reporting on a genuine problem, this is an attack on someone you want to see attacked.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:47 PM
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I really don't buy it. Why do Thompson and Giuliani seem attractive while Hillary doesn't? They're horrible-looking, genuinely nasty guys, and Thompson is an apparent idiot, but they get soft coverage. Hillary's gotten 16 years of intensive bad coverage by now, and that's sunk in. I just don't think that it's something about Hillary. It's something about the media. And remember, I don't like her politically.

A noce person or an authentic person couldn't function as President, obvs. None of us should be thinking about that at all. We seem to be mixing up our own direct subjective judgments of Hillary, what we think of as the popular judgment of Hillary (from which we derive a meta-judgment of Hillary as "not charismatic"), and whatever it is that Hillary really is. It seems to me that as purportedly-not-bone-stupid people we should give priority to the third of this, what Hillary really is, and give some practical importance to the popular judgment (but without leaping to conclusions about what that really is, as is often done). But I think that it's stupid to deny that the popular judgment has been corrupted by 16 years of media BS, or to conclude that there's a germ of truth there because we share the ppular judgment at the imbecile level of our own psyches.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:47 PM
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Tim, you have expressed an inability to understand how the MSM can drive narratives related to charm and likeability. Are you also oblivious to the manner in which the media influences the public perception of beauty?

I'm all for a campaign to right all the wrongs in our heads prior to the next election. Maybe that can be the next Unfogged Orange project. Or we could, as relates to the election in 13 months, take the world as we find it.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:47 PM
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In the case of Bill, give or take the machinations of the blowjobocracy, it kind of did. It could be that Hillary will be all over that, vastly more successful that her husband, even, and of course I hope that's the case. But see 116.2. I feel what I feel about her, I trust my own judgment, and I've promised myself that those are the criteria I will use to decide who to support.

When I saw Obama speak at the 2004 convention, I thought "yes! The Democrats need a rock star." I still believe that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:48 PM
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This all starts to get exhausting as we all start talking past each other. The fact is, I'm not a Hillary fan because of her policy positions, but I know that I'm an outlier. There are people (in the world and in this thread) who don't like her because of her laugh, or because of whatever deep insight into her soul they derive from her laugh, and I look down on those people. Sorry.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:48 PM
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120: Or perhaps you recognize the reaction to hyperbolic distortions of your position (like, oh, say comment 100), and know that you yourself tend either to laugh at that stuff or else to want to smash, and think that her ability to laugh at it shows that she's got a good sense of humor and is pretty secure with her positions on things.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:48 PM
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having the news media encouraging people to pay attention to it is just wrong

This is the nub. The average swing voter -- much less the average voter who makes up his mind in the last week -- is already something of a goofus. They don't need any help being light-minded but they get plenty of it from the press. There has been a notable decline in the the tenor of political coverage, and I am inclined to blame, in order: 1) TV 2) the rise of a bathetic celebrity culture, 3) the 24-hour news cycle.

All this said, Clinton is a tremendously stiff politician who exudes calculation and phoniness. The analogous type on the GOP side, as someone mentioned above, is Romney. Pretending it isn't so won't help.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:49 PM
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127 was to some comment, but I forget which. I should have stuck with my earlier premise, which was "yeah, of course the Times sucks, but I still don't like Hillary."

Is the outrage over her laugh manufactured nonsense? Could be, probably is. Still don't like her.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:50 PM
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127: So, the success Bill had in the 90s with pushing forward a progressive agenda is the best you're hoping for? Jesus. I think I'm depressed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:50 PM
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130, ¶1: You betcha.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:51 PM
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I do agree with baa's 130 (though not with his ordering). I admit that Times piece didn't bother me as much as it should because I personally don't like Hillary.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:52 PM
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But I think that it's stupid to deny that the popular judgment has been corrupted by 16 years of media BS, or to conclude that there's a germ of truth there because we share the ppular judgment at the imbecile level of our own psyches.

God bless John.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:52 PM
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What's so interesting about this debate to me is that this---
I don't like Hillary Clinton because I don't like her. I don't like the way she comes off, I don't like the positions she takes on the issues, I don't trust her
---is basically how I feel about Rodham Clinton.

However! The first time I heard her laugh, I really did stop and reconsider my dislike for a moment. Too bad repetition breeds, as they say, contempt.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:52 PM
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132: with Hillary? Gosh, I'd be delighted.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:53 PM
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One thing about Hilary and the press: I think there's some widespread understanding among swing voters about just how much unfair shit she's taken. And her family has taken. I think she gets some justified credit for being tough and courageous for soldiering on through it all. At a certain point, you do have to laugh at all that crap, and I think the public understands that.

I'm probably not voting for her in the primary for a bunch of reasons, I'd prefer Edwards or Gore as the candidate, but I think she has the ability to win it.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:54 PM
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130: So Hillary is objectively unlikeable and stiff--despite the support she has among middle- and upper-middle class women.

Whose opinions, of course, aren't properly objective.

Okay, I'm starting to get ready to blow up here so it's time *I* retire from the thread.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:55 PM
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137: No. You're saying we need a rock star. We elected a rock star in the 90s and he may have marginally slowed the rate at which conservatives cemented control over the government. That's what we got from our last rock star, and apparently what you're satisfied with as the best we can possibly hope for. That's unutterably depressing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:56 PM
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For what it's worth, I certainly make no claim to having an objective understanding of her appeal (or lack of it), and would be deeply, deeply distrustful of anybody who did.

I suspect it ain't worth much.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:57 PM
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A Democratic President who is unable to overcome the institutional biases of DC and the media, and who therefore is unable to even claim for an instant to support an actual progressive agenda, for fear of losing what half-hearted support they have.

I don't think that this is about which Democrat it is (Hillary or someone else). it's about the horrible media we have. My guess is that the things someone would have to do to please them would be very stupid and probably harmful things.

As I've said many times, I believe that the bylined media people are the way they are because it works for them. They aren't the people who need their minds changed. It's their bosses.

Just to repeat, American politics has been distorted for at least 13 years now by egregiously unprofessional journalism with an anti-Democratic bias, and two of the most prestigious newspapers in the world have been as guilty as anyone. I just can't believe that this was a because of bottom-up decision by the reporters on the ground.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:58 PM
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It's worth something to me, Sifu. Hugs?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:58 PM
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So Hillary is objectively unlikeable and stiff--despite the support she has among middle- and upper-middle class women.

Yeah, and Romney is objectively a big phony (and unlikeable!) despite the support he gets from middle- and upper-class men. What's the big riddle here?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:58 PM
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126: That wasn't a rhetorical question, Tim.

Here's another non-rhetorical question: Do you really expect the next election to be the last one?

Look, after Reagan, it was understood that projecting an uninformed image was a part of projecting charm - George HW and Gore just seemed too damn competent, as Hillary does now.

If we don't fix that narrative, we're fucked - whether or not we're fucked in the next election.

Pre-Reagan, things were genuinely different. I think that the bullshit can be reversed, but if a critical mass of informed Americans says the current media are just fine, well, like I said, we're fucked.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:59 PM
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Ogged, I wasn't trying to guess at your motives for not liking Clinton (and you're right, I never would have guessed that), and, for that matter, I don't expect you to like her (I'm ambivalent about her myself).

My problem is with the media coverage. If you don't like her because she reminds you of your first girlfriend's mother (but c'mon, isn't that a shorthand for something a little more complex?), that's fine, because you're just stating your opinion on a weblog. If Patrick Healy doesn't like her because she reminds him of his first girlfriend's mother, and he then gets to publish an article in a major newspaper which is based on little more than that dislike, which article then gets treated as serious political reporting...well, I do have a problem with that.

There is a double standard when it comes to the treatment of Democratic and Republican candidates (Bill and Hillary's marriage is a legitimate concern, e.g., but Giuliani's chequered marital career is off-limits). There is, further, a double standard when it comes to the treatment of male and female candidates. With Hillary, those two double standards intersect.

Which doesn't mean, imho, that liberal-leaning men should be expected to support Hillary in order to demonstrate their commitment to feminism. There are all kinds of reasons to not like her, or not support it. But it seems a bit much to deny that she is treated differently, that the media hasn't had issues with her ever since Bill first came to office (eg, the infamous cookie-baking episode).


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 4:59 PM
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141, see 105, where you said I have yet to see Hillary provoke that reaction in anybody, though of course I'm perfectly happy to have you prove me wrong.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:00 PM
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140: wrong kind of rock star, natch. I don't think Obama's instincts are anywhere near as centrist and DLC-ish as (Bill) Clinton's. I also think it's a completely different era, when a genuinely, you know, Democratic Democratic nominee could make up a huge amount of ground against the conservatroids. I haven't seen any sense from Hillary that change of such a scale interests her. Obama? It's fuzzy, but signs point to maybe.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:00 PM
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I disagree with how extremely people were faulting Hilary above (like say 112), and sort of a quarter agree with B...I think Hilary has a genuine core of determination and dedication that people can connect to. That's sort of what I was getting at in 138. I think she has a real idealism about what she thinks government can do, and that's what has kept her going in public life. It's not just an empty drive for power. I think there's some understanding of that.

Problem is, I see her idealism as pretty much tied to the scaled-down centrist liberalism of the mid 90s. On domestic policy, that might be servicable, but on foreign policy it doesn't come close to grappling with the problems we face or the ideological realignment that's necessary.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:01 PM
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147: yes, that surely expresses absolute certainty.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:02 PM
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139: No one's saying that you can't like her, just that lots of people find her personally unappealing. Just as they did Gore and Kerry. Maybe you like her because she's a woman who has a shot to be President. Maybe you find her charming because she matches up with your definition of charming. Maybe the media culture has conditioned you to find her charming. Who knows? Excepting Sifu and ogged, all anyone's is really claiming is that (a) many people don't think she's personable, (b) that her personablity plays into voter decisions. I don't think it's enough to keep her from winning the general.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:02 PM
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150: In the context of the discussion, it sounded like a pretty sweeping statement, yes.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:02 PM
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144: Because there is no such fucking thing as objectively unlikeable, you stupid, stupid, stupid person, whoever the hell you are. I don't like the same people you like. Reporting on someone's likeability is making shit up. (Polls, if well done, might have some information about how many people like a candidate. But reporting about 'likeability' as if it were an objective quality -- that someone can be incorrect in their liking, because the person they like is not in fact likeable -- is stupid, stupid, stupid pernicious nonsense.)

Is this so fucking hard to understand?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:02 PM
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So Hillary is objectively unlikeable and stiff--despite the support she has among middle- and upper-middle class women.

This is weird only because my recollection is that her support is found down the income chain, and that Obama's is found up the income chain, across genders. I may be misremembering.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:03 PM
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152:it sounded like a pretty sweeping statement

That I have not actually seen evidence to contradict my opinion, and that I am happy to be corrected?

B, I am very near to declaring you objectively weird.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:04 PM
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See, now we're having to think about the psychosexual Ogged. He first heard his first girlfriend's mother's cackling laugh when he was attaining consummation for the very first time in his young life.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:05 PM
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Tweety, how could you not have seen evidence that people like Clinton? She is the front-runner. Her support among women is quite high. You don't know these things?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:05 PM
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IA, I do grant that coverage is generally horrible; and like I said, I didn't object to this article as much as I should have because I happened to agree with it.

it seems a bit much to deny that she is treated differently

You know, this is an interesting point, because the fact that she's a woman cuts both ways, but Democrats otend to focus on the ways in which it hurts her, and Republicans on the ways in which it helps her. And it does help her in a lot of ways. You can't forcefully attack her, as Rick Lazio and Giuliani found out, or she gets a sympathy bump. And we're seeing it right now with Edwards and Obama dying to say nasty things about her, but holding back, because no one wants to be the first to beat up on the woman.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:06 PM
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96

"... and swing voters, as folks who haven't pre-decided based on a candidate's party and positions on the issues, are almost by definition fucking idiots ..."

This is not true. Voting by party is sensible only if one of the parties happens to be aligned with your positions on the issues. The combinations of positions that the parties have adopted are not the only ones which are logical and having some other combination of positions does not make one stupid.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:07 PM
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Come on LB, there's no such thing as charisma or charm?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:07 PM
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Then there are the Wrong Ways to like a candidate. For example, I would like to have Kucinich over for dinner and make him some vegan polenta or something, and pat him on the head. He seems like a great guy, and I wish he were my uncle. I do not think he'd be a very effective president, however.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:08 PM
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Obama? It's fuzzy, but signs point to maybe.

That's one of the best lines on Obama's appeal I've ever seen. Come on, the guy's a cipher. His "instincts" don't matter, Bill and Hilary worked for McGovern in the 70s and I'm sure had plenty of "instincts" then. We have very little track record on where Obama would be willing to go politically. He certainly hasn't been radical since he hit the national scene. He's an unknown at this point.

Edwards by contrast has made some clearly considered decisions to tack to the left in the primary, which Obama has not even been willing to do.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:08 PM
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Have we already discussed the Edwards webisodes that went missing and suddenly returned without consent from the Edwards campaign? Seems right in line with this discussion. I can see why Edwards might have wanted them down; there are a lot of jokes he makes that you could take out of context to make him look bad, but in general, it's really nice to see him coming across as a naturally funny and intelligent guy, complaining about the scripting of political discourse. But it might also come off as vain, the whole "see me as I really am" stuff.

Is there a way in which all Democrats are, in a sense, read in the misogynist language of femininity/vanity? I guess I don't think Hillary is alone among Dem candidates in receiving this kind of bullshit, though she's the most obvious case.

The entire discourse around Republicans is about jawlines and sexy masculine stoic charm. Yuck. All that shit about how all women want Fred Thompson to hold their hands? Ick.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:08 PM
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148: The question is, what are you willing to give up to get your rock star. If the answer is "anything at all", policy-wise, you're an idiot. I'm not voting for Hillary because I disagree with her about too much stuff. But if I did agree with her on the issues, anyone suggesting I should change my vote to someone I agreed with less because charisma is vital would be giving me very bad advice. Like you said about Bill, charisma doesn't get you anywhere if they're not fighting for the policies you want.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:09 PM
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I have yet to talk to anybody that likes Clinton because she is the candidate that appeals to their aspirations and dreams, who they believe is the best person for the job, full stop. Yes. This is true. Possibly you are my very first counterexample, but to date I've mostly seen you talking about why other people who don't like her are not being honest with themselves.

It makes perfect sense to me that there would be some people who like Hillary Clinton for the reasons mentioned above: I haven't talked to any of them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:09 PM
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Look, after Reagan, it was understood that projecting an uninformed image was a part of projecting charm - George HW and Gore just seemed too damn competent, as Hillary does now.

Don't think that's true, at all. It was, after 1960, understood that charm was extremely useful in getting elected in a TV nation. Or so goes the story.

Pre-Reagan, things were genuinely different.

Not my sense at all. Reagan's the first campaign I remember at all, so you may have more personal experience.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:09 PM
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Hillary is not only popular among women. She's also very, very popular among Democratic party regulars of all kinds.

I don't like her much for issues reasons, but a lot of the hip urban dislike of her (for the reasons and meta-reasons we've been discussing here) stinks. I had my reasons not to be too crazy about Gore either, but the reasons why the Washington press corps didn't like him were completely different, totally crappy, imbecile reasons. What a bunch of jerks.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:10 PM
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165: I think you're really confused about the nature of the conversation Bitch and I are trying to have. I'm not voting for Hillary, and Bitch has said in this thread that she's probably not voting for Hillary. This does not make the linked article legitimate coverage of a real problem -- a substance-free cheap shot against someone I'm not voting for is still a cheap shot.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:11 PM
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164: oh, nothing. It just doesn't seem like I have to give much of anything up, this cycle. Or, on the other hand, there's Hillary, where I give a lot of things up and she isn't a rock star. This is a good deal why?

165 was to 157.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:11 PM
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165: see 167.1. You're not seeing enough people.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:12 PM
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And 168 to 169.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:12 PM
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168: Indeed. I've said on my blog that I like Edwards (who won't win), but I still think it's going to be Clinton/Obama. And there are plenty of reasons not to support Clinton, but if you're going along with the "she's unlikeable" thing, you should recognize that a lot of your bedfellows are sexist as hell.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:13 PM
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168: I don't think it's substance free (although I do think it's a cheap shot, and I really really think Republicans should have to deal with same), partly because I don't like her. Not liking her is part of why I won't vote for her. Seems topical?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:13 PM
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. And there are plenty of reasons not to support Clinton, but if you're going along with the "she's unlikeable" thing, you should recognize that a lot of your bedfellows are sexist as hell.

And if you don't vote with Obama, you're probably in the same crowd with a lot of racists.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:15 PM
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I don't think it's substance free (although I do think it's a cheap shot, and I really really think Republicans should have to deal with same), partly because I don't like her.

This is hardly English to me. How do you say "I think this criticism is substantive." "What are your reasons for that?" "I don't like the person criticized."

That's not what substantive means, is it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:15 PM
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And we're seeing it right now with Edwards and Obama dying to say nasty things about her, but holding back, because no one wants to be the first to beat up on the woman.

This seems remarkably naive. "Going negative" is a political strategy with significant problems, especially in a multi-candidate race. Were Hillary a man, it seems like this calculus changes not-at-all.

Seriously, ogged, the universe in which Hillary is treated kindly out of some chivalrous impulse seems like a pleasant place to live. What color is the sky there?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:16 PM
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She's also very, very popular among Democratic party regulars of all kinds.

My impression is that this is because she really is extremely competent and hard-working and reliable at doing all the straightforward pol stuff. She's won many friends. My fifth-hand impression is that she's reversed many of the impressions that came from the missteps she made when she first got to DC in 92-94. She's clearly got a lot of tools to be a very competent President.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:16 PM
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you should recognize that a lot of your bedfellows are sexist as hell

Sure, no doubt. The same thing is of course true for a lot of my bedfellows when it comes to liking (e.g.) rap music or football. I just don't think sexism is a necessary or primary condition for people to dislike Hillary: I think this because in my case it is not.

I, obviously, will support Hillary to my last breath if she's the nominee. She's still a Democrat, I'm still a partisan, holy fuck the GOP candidates are scary, &c. &c.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:16 PM
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PF, if you're going to snark, it helps to be right; the problems Lazio and Giuliani had when they attacked Clinton were well-documented.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:17 PM
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175: mocking me for my inability to use the language is a cheap shot, LB. I don't think it's substance free because I agree with the article that her laugh (and the way it is deployed) can be off-putting. It is, still, a cheap shot on their part, yes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:18 PM
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Chris Dodd is totally winning me over. I'm still in the Obama camp, but I do like Dodd.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:18 PM
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174: If the NYT does an article about how Obama might have some problems because he's (say) threatening to women, then I am not going to react to that by saying "well, I don't like him, and I'm in no way being racist, so I think that's true, and that saying that the black man threatens women is a racist statement is irrelevant." Or anything to that effect.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:19 PM
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179: Giuliani dropped out before they really locked horns, and Lazio ran into trouble attacking her in a way that looked particularly sexist -- he made what looked like an attempt to physically bully her during a debate. I don't think you can say that going negative in the manner that you'd have gone negative against a male candidate would have been a problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:20 PM
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Lazio was a politically incompetant twit, though.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:20 PM
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I have yet to talk to anybody that likes Clinton because she is the candidate that appeals to their aspirations and dreams, who they believe is the best person for the job, full stop.

I guess we all travel in different worlds. The Politicalfootball spouse is unambiguously one of these people. Have you never talked to someone who likes Hillary? Or do they have different reasons for liking her.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:20 PM
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Whoops, I was 144. Sorry to see that even when (unintentionally) anonymous I can accidentally drive LB into a frenzy.

Basically, what ogged said. There's such a thing as charisma, there's such a thing as charm, there's such a thing as folksiness. We all agree that there's such a thing as being articulate and such a thing as being inarticulate, right? Think of likability as the same thing but with respect to general affect.

I don't think we need a big survey to declare Bill Clinton as likable, charming, charismatic, and articulate. Sure, some people hate (hate!) him, but everyone kind of agrees he has these properties. Right? Is there anyone out there who says Reagan isn't likable, or says that Nixon is?


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:20 PM
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Sorry to see that even when (unintentionally) anonymous I can accidentally drive LB into a frenzy.

Sorry about that, chief. On the other hand, it's good to know that I'm not just overreacting to an expectation that I'm going to violently disagree with you -- the violent disagreement comes up in blind trials as well. SCIENCE!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:22 PM
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The important thing to recognize is that we have a lot of good people to choose from. None is ideal on every issue, but all the front-runners are far more electable than John Kerry, and none of the GOP candidates are without major opposition within the party. The reluctance to go negative, so far, in the Dem primary campaign can only be a good thing, in that it presents a strong front. 2008 is likely to be the election year in which the far-right splits off to a third-party candidate, as the conservative Christians are threatening, so they can have their own little Nader moment.

That is, if the worst internal criticism we can muster is (a) disagreement on one or two of several key issues, and (b) mild criticisms of facial expressions and charisma, we're going to be fine. Clinton would not be my top choice on the issues, but I will have no trouble throwing my support behind her if she makes it to the big dance.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:23 PM
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I think that the "cackle" article is objectionable independently of how you feel about the person it was directed at.

If the New York Times posted my own description of Giuliani to a snake flicking out its tongue as it circled its victim, or my description of Thompson to a horrible old man with his hand in his pants while he chatted up a cute teenage girl, that would be a bad thing too. The Times shouldn't be The Exile.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:23 PM
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Have you never talked to someone who likes Hillary?

Not mostly, no. What can I tell you, I've been kind of a shut-in lately.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:23 PM
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182: I don't really understand what you're saying. Lots of people have said that Obama will have a problem winning the election because he's black.. A Southern black pol endorsing HRC said he'd kill the party down ticket if he got the nomination. Was that racism? Was HRC's acceptance of the endorsement and indication that she's a racist? Maybe it was the pol's true belief, maybe it was a convenient belief that allowed him to endorse HRC.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:23 PM
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189: But that kind of thing almost never happens to Republicans these days.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:24 PM
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188 is disturbingly thoughtful and comity-inducing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:24 PM
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We should all ban each other, or talk about baseball. I don't even know what we're arguing about anymore.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:24 PM
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Giuliani did attack Hillary before dropping out. The NY media portrayed his attacks as vicious and unnecessarily personal because 1) Hillary was still riding the sympathy from Blowjob-gate, and 2) because the NY media knew quite well that Giuliani was, in fact, a vicious son-of-a-bitch.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:24 PM
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98

"90: Okay, but there's a huge difference between boring to watch on TV and "I think he's going to be ineffective in functioning as a world leader because people won't listen to him in person." I mean, an incredible, ginormous difference. And confusing the two things is, I think (A) encouraged by the kind of stupid coverage we're talking about, and (B) incredibly stupid in itself. Honestly, if he can get elected to the Senate, and function in the Senate, he can function on the level you're talking about."

I think this is mistaken. Everybody is a combination of traits. Relative weakness in one area can be compensated for by strength in another. This does not mean the weakness is unimportant particularly when trying to move up in class. And POTUS is a big step up from Senator.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:25 PM
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153: Reporting on someone's likeability is making shit up.

No, it's creating social reality.

C'mon folks, this isn't rocket science, it's anthropology or sociology or some such thing.

Back on the savannah, before people had learned to spell veldt, there were social groups. There were social cohesive forces, and rank, and leaders and followers. Questions such as "am I liked?" and "do we like him, or should we kick him out and leave him to be eaten by tigers?" were important.

So people tend to be influenced about whom they like by whom others like; if you like the wrong group of people, you could end up having a close encounter with a tiger. People note who has status - money, good looks, a TV talk show - and emulate. Like who they like.

And, of course, the people who hire TV and newspaper frontpeople know who they want to keep in control of the group. So they make sure that their hired social leaders express great admiration for the people who will cut their taxes and make sure the government subsidizes their business.

When you see someone say:
I don't like Hillary Clinton because:
A. I don't like her.
B. I don't like the way she comes off,
C. I don't like the positions she takes on the issues,
D. I don't trust her

And note that most of those are wholly matters of subjective impression, you gotta think there're some social forces at work. Ridiculing someone's laugh, or their haircut, or their clothes, is as much a social group/identity marker as anything you see among junior high school girls, or among dogs peeing on trees.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:26 PM
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189: Nonetheless, in the world of today perhaps we should encourage the Times and the Post to steal my images.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:26 PM
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Sweet Jesus, Shearer appears to be trying to agree with me. Quick! Talk about baseball!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:27 PM
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194: So says the master baiter.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:27 PM
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Yeah, I think that one suffices for FDA approval.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:28 PM
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Since we're being shallow, I sometimes want to kiss John Edwards on the lips. I'd hold affectionate hands with Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama, of course, is far too attractive and dignified for me to imagine making physical contact with.

I had no relevant such thoughts about John Kerry.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:28 PM
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197: As someone with high social status on this blog, I now officially like Schneider, and think he's right about stuff. Everyone, fall in line.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:28 PM
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LB is banned!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:30 PM
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About the "lots of people like hillary" argument:

i haven't met people that like her, but my guess is that most people that support her haven't seen more than 20 seconds of her, and haven't read anything else she's said in the last year. They just remember the 90s fondly and see her doing the same thing, plus she's a woman.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:30 PM
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Barack Obama, of course, is far too attractive and dignified for me to imagine making physical contact with.

I assume that you saw the topless photos, and this is ironic?

Also, do you ever secretly want to mess with Edwards' hair?


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:31 PM
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Barack Obama, of course, is far too attractive and dignified for me to imagine making physical contact with.

Yeah, that's not how I feel about him.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:31 PM
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but my guess is that most people that support her haven't seen more than 20 seconds of her, and haven't read anything else she's said in the last year.

Funny, that's also my guess about most people who hate her guts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:32 PM
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I would just sit and stare into Barack's eyes, I think, and tremble with love.

But yeah, a nice hair-mussing makeout with John would make my day.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:32 PM
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See? None of the women here have even mentioned making out with Hillary.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:34 PM
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or talk about baseball

How 'bout those Mets? Haw-haw!


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:34 PM
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Ridiculing someone's laugh, or their haircut, or their clothes, is as much a social group/identity marker as anything you see among junior high school girls, or among dogs peeing on trees.

As is treating MLK as a secular saint, or deciding that Issue A is more important than Issue B. I feel like there's an implicit claim about some objective position from which the reporters can work. Which I know must be wrong as regards Schneider.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:35 PM
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Come the revolution schism I'm following LB. We will have discipline! And a better watering hole.


Posted by: Michael ("Knuckles") Schneider | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:35 PM
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Actually, I've changed my mind. MoveOn should make a three-minute clip with Giuliani circling around a victim and flicking his tongue in and out, and another one with Thompson with one hand in his pants, working his jowls and big fat lips eating biscuits and sausage and flirting ponderously with his sweaty hand on the cute teenage waitress' shoulder.

Just forget most of what I said above. The gutter's where we want to be.



Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:35 PM
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To amp up your Obama-love even further, you should read his first book. It's actually, like, really well written.

I assume "Obama Girl" has already been extensively linked here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKsoXHYICqU


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:36 PM
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Just don't break a rib, AWB.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:36 PM
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Just forget most of what I said above. The gutter's where we want to be.

Exactly!

No, really.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:37 PM
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How 'bout those Mets?

I saw some guy walking up the street, alone, yelling at the top of his voice "Ha HA! Take that! Fucking Mets"--and this is the part that really struck me--"Go back to the Outer Boroughs! Ha HA! Fucking Shea."


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:37 PM
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"And it does help her in a lot of ways."

Okay, fair enough. But the reason why it does help her is that, contrary to what the media have been telling us for years and years, a lot of people really like her.

I take your point that this liking cannot be abstracted from her gender, and that the gender issue cuts both ways. But in terms of gender (and contrary to what the MSM has to say), many people do not see her Lady MacBeth, they see her as some sort of reassuring maternal manager type. A high school guidance counsellor, maybe, whose pencil-necked geekitude is offset by her genuine concern for the kids... look, I'm not saying I love any of these stereotypes, I'm just saying that anyone who buys the media line about how she comes across as robotic and phony is not paying enough attention...

And this all ties in with that nonsense where Republicans are given a pass on their claims to authenticity, where they are the ones to speak for the real America...Hillary polls very well with working-class and lower-middle-class women ("women with needs," as her staff members put it), and again, contrary to the MSM, those women are an integral part of the real America.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:38 PM
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deciding that Issue A is more important than Issue B.

See, no. Just no. Some issues are more important than other issues for reasons other that group bonding. This kind of statement makes me insane. If it's all bullshit, why are you paying any attention at all?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:38 PM
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217: he'll get his when the Indians wreck the Yankees, not to worry.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:38 PM
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Why hasn't somebody hired Emerson for their campaign yet? I want to see those ads.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:39 PM
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many people do not see her Lady MacBeth, they see her as some sort of reassuring maternal manager type. A high school guidance counsellor, maybe,

Yeah, exactly. Not only that, but I think that perception is in some ways accurate to some of the basic impulses that drew her into politics. "It takes a village", the politics of virtue, and all that stuff.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:40 PM
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221.---It's not like Yankee stadium is downtown though. It's in the Bronx, for chrissakes: the sketchiest outer borough.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:41 PM
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Well, this pussified western male has to go cook some food. I can only surmise that LB has one hell of a brief to write, given her willingness to take on all arguments here. The rest of you can get those ads made.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:42 PM
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My main argument isn't that there's no such thing as charisma or personal appeal or being good on tv outside the media coverage--it's that whether a candidate is charming, charismatic, or good on tv, is a subject that the press is no better equipped to judge or report on than any voter, and "news" coverage on the subject is worthless at best, unethical at worst.

What is supposed to be newsworthy about such stories is that they're reporting about the likely outcome of the election. But you know, we'll know the outcome of election soon enough, & if we want a snapshot beforehand we can look at a chart of polls with detailed internals, or the Iowa futures market. The horse-race-y coverage in the newspapers adds nothing. It does far more to INFLUENCE the outcome of the election than to accurately describe it. Not a reporter's job.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:42 PM
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Yeah, but it's not of the Bronx. Rich Manhattanites and suburbanites go to games, and never get more than a hundred yards from the stadium.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:43 PM
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Hey, JM, forward it to Drymala. I'm just a concept guy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:43 PM
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225: You know me too well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:43 PM
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226: This, together with Schneider's thing, gets to everything I've wanted to say in this thread.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:44 PM
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211: fuck off.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:44 PM
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212: As is treating MLK as a secular saint, or deciding that Issue A is more important than Issue B.

I'm not enough of a relativist to claim that all social groups are created equal. I think there are good reasons to prefer Democrats over Neo-Nazis at election time.

But there are two distinct things going on:
1. Marking group boundaries, who's in and who's out, and pointing and snickering at those who are out; and
2. Deciding which group would do a better job of running the country.

Of course, the vast right wing conspiracy is relying on the usualy unstated assumption that those with the best haircuts, the best looking women, the most toys, etc. are the ones to be taken seriously and to whom to entrust the country.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:45 PM
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See, no. Just no. Some issues are more important than other issues for reasons other that group bonding.

I'm saying that the issues are markers of groups, not that they function solely to bond the group. I may have misunderstood the point that Schneider was making.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:45 PM
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166: It was, after 1960, understood that charm was extremely useful in getting elected in a TV nation. Or so goes the story.

Tim, you quoted my words accurately, but I think you misread them. What I was talking about was not the role of charm in elections, but the attributes that were considered charming back in the day. Everyone understood that Kennedy was a bright guy - ever heard of the "Best and the Brightest"?

Believe it or not, Jimmy Carter was regarded as a charmer back in the day. When I blamed Reagan for the rise in the stupidity=charm dynamic, I should note that the failure of the very-smart-seeming Carter also played a role.

(To anticipate a potential objection, nothing in the preceding paragraph changes if Reagan is, in reality, quite smart and Carter is a moron.)

There is a separate argument to be made about the role of charm itself, and that's the argument that you responded to, even though I didn't make it. But for the record, you are wrong about that, too. Nixon was, in fact, elected twice, and nobody ever accused him of being charming or charismatic or what-have-you. Indeed, Carter's enemies attributed his success to his charm, not his friends. Things really have changed.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:47 PM
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I take your point that this liking cannot be abstracted from her gender

The difference being that the women who like her don't feel the need to assert that their doing so has nothing, nothing! to do with her sex.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:47 PM
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230: This, together with Schneider's thing, gets to everything I've wanted to say in this thread.

Sorry, I never have known when to sit down and shut up. That's why you're The Litigator.

I don't know who swiped the other l from usually, supra.


Posted by: Michael (prolix) Schneider | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:49 PM
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OT: Does anyone here have friends at Dart/mouth? Please email me if you do. I desperately need a corner to crash in later in Oct.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:49 PM
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The difference being that the women who like her don't feel the need to assert that their doing so has nothing, nothing! to do with her sex.

I take it you are implying (again) that those of us who do make such a claim about our dislike of her are full of it? Because: horsepuckey.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:51 PM
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212: I feel like there's an implicit claim about some objective position from which the reporters can work.

There is such a claim, but oddly it's yours. See your 82.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:51 PM
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. Everyone understood that Kennedy was a bright guy

I think you may have causation backwards. My recollection is that he had an undistinguished career at Harvard and in the Congress. At a minimum, I don't think people said, if bright, then charming.

Nixon was, in fact, elected twice, and nobody ever accused him of being charming or charismatic or what-have-you.

And the campaign accounted for that. Is it "Selling of the President" that described this?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:52 PM
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"Of course, the vast right wing conspiracy is relying on the usualy unstated assumption that those with the best haircuts, the best looking women, the most toys, etc. "

But Edwards has the best haircut & Kucinich has the best looking woman. Couldn't speak to the toys--Romney has the highest net worth, I think, but he seems too boring to spend it on toys.

Like Jackmormon, I really like Dodd. I think he's showing up Obama a little, because he's in the Senate & is more likely to show up & vote the way I want him to vote than Obama is--or declare his intentions to do so before Obama does.

Obama is missing too many votes. Normally, I think it's overblown as an issue, & unless the vote is close or unpredictable then yeah, of course you have to miss votes to go campaign. But he is not voting on issues like Lieberman-Kyl, where I really want to know what his position is. I think that's a mistake.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:52 PM
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when the Indians wreck the Yankees

Speed the day!


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:53 PM
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Dear Friend at Dartmouth:

If you're man enough, I have a hott friend who's coming through town.She's not as crazy as she seems.

John


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:54 PM
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242: I just assumed you were a Yankee fan; was 211 sheer anti-NYC animus?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:55 PM
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Kucinich's woman, of course, is not the product of wealth and status like Thompson's. She's in love for hippyish ideological reasons like a love of hugs and teh environment and stuff. So, as far as the MSM coverage goes, she doesn't count.

I would also kiss Kucinich's wife on the lips, given the chance, FWIW.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:55 PM
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I am a Red Sox fan with a long memory. Hard to see it happen to a good guy like Randolph, however.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:56 PM
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243: Seriously, John, if you know someone, I swear I won't be weird to them. I'll cook for them and otherwise be very quiet/absent.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:57 PM
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246 is the first comment baa has made that I can agree with 100%. It feels sort of weird.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 5:58 PM
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Nah, I don't. Joke.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:04 PM
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In order to lure y'all into my alternate universe - a universe where Hillary Clinton is a politician of considerable gifts who leads the Democratic primary by a substantial margin over two candidates who are lionized for their charisma - I offer this clip.

I recognize the subjective nature of our conversation about charm, but Jesus, who didn't find that response charming?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:15 PM
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238: Not at all, Sifu. I know that you and the other men of Unfogged are completely free from even the slightest unconscious gender expectations, and are so enlightened that you fully comprehend your motives at all times.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:16 PM
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And here we are.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:17 PM
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250: Yeah, that was endearing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:17 PM
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250: Very nice, pf. We have to recognize that the anti-Clinton attacks on her "charm" are ones that are begun and perpetuated in the media, because they're trying to stand by a long history of anti-HRC paranoia. Bill Clinton has always stood by Hillary's superior charm and political gifts, and has had to, I think, because he realizes that his own portrayal as The God of Charm was as much a media construction as HRC's as a stiff and politicized machine. Not that WJC wasn't indeed very great, but that, as he's always argued, HRC may be even greater.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:23 PM
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253: And goddamit, it was straightforward and correct on merit too, on a politically troublesome issue that has been very helpful to the Republicans. No triangulating here - in direct contrast, as Russert points out, to the Great Triangulator.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:24 PM
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After one of the Kerry-Bush debates, Clinton was on Fox News for some reason and they asked her about her husband's health problems. She came across really well, especially in the way she taunted the Fox viewership with the prospect of seeing him again.

I haven't watched a lot of coverage, but the John Stewart laugh thing is the only segment I've seen recently where she didn't come off that well.

Also, like Jackmormon and Katherine and maybe a few others in this thread, Dodd has been the candidate I've found more and more impressive as time has gone on.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:30 PM
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I haven't focused on Dodd at all, mostly because I'm assuming there's no point. Is there any way he could get within striking distance?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:32 PM
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Is there any way he could get within striking distance?

I'd say that I doubted it, but who the hell knows? Iowa and New Hampshire are mysterious to me.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:35 PM
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I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I've been so assuming that Dodd has no chance that I can't even remember some of the positions he's taken that I liked. Generally what happens is I read a blog post, something from Dodd sounds pretty good, I think "but he has no chance" and then I forget all but the good impression.

Even if he does well in the early primaries, does he have enough money to stay in the race?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:42 PM
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226

"My main argument isn't that there's no such thing as charisma or personal appeal or being good on tv outside the media coverage--it's that whether a candidate is charming, charismatic, or good on tv, is a subject that the press is no better equipped to judge or report on than any voter, and "news" coverage on the subject is worthless at best, unethical at worst."

I don't understand this. Part of charisma is being attractive in one-on-one encounters or in small groups. This seems something that the press is much better positioned to judge than the average voter.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:43 PM
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Fine, but that's not what they're reporting on. I wouldn't mind knowing that Edwards is loose and goofy one-on-one, or whatever. That's different from telling us how we're supposed to feel about HRC's TV appearances.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:45 PM
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I don't even know what we're arguing about anymore.

<inhale> Hillary Clinton is a perfectly likable person that women like because she's a woman and men (and perhaps some women) don't like her because she's a woman, and thus she has been treated unfairly by reporters and Jon Stewart (who should be careful with what he says unless he wants to spend the rest of his life in a cage) who are all right-wing hacks or tools of right-wing hacks anyways, but it doesn't matter because we (Americans) should only debate candidate's positions and completely ignore personality but no one does that because Americans who don't post to Unfogged are idiots and anyways no one actually likes Clinton's positions and so everyone is going vote for her anyways, <exhale><inhale> because she's a robot but she's a likable human robot and not a Republican pervert who might get elected and corner Emerson and molest him, but she's going to win anyways so then there can be a robotic love-in at the White House with AWB, so just don't use the word "cackle" for the next 10 years.<exhale>

Also, McManus has been declared insane, possibly because he doesn't like baseball.

Here's another non-rhetorical question: Do you really expect the next election to be the last one?

The election AFTER this one is the Last Election.

max
['I hate cookies.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:47 PM
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Dodd is really very good on education. He's stoutly for universal preschool, for example. The way he describes rolling back No Child Left Behind while maintaining some of its better elements was convincing to me: he seemed to understand the difficulties of the system well enough to emend it carefully. I don't get a sense of his foreign policy, though; I mean, he seems to take the right positions, say the right sorts of things, but FP doesn't seem like an area in which he's done a lot of long thinking. I might be wrong about that.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:50 PM
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No, McManus is insane because he genuinely likes people and thinks relationships are a good thing.

The dumb fuck. Screw him.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:51 PM
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260, 261: And even then, that should be reported as a subjective impression, if that's what the reporter is talking about. Not "Reagan is charismatic in one-on-one interactions" but "I was dazzled by him."

If it's more than that, then report on "Hillary's colleagues in the Senate (a) get on fine with her, or (b) loathe her," whichever the case may be.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 6:53 PM
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"Also, McManus has been declared insane, possibly because he doesn't like baseball."

I thought that comment got lost with my connection. I keep looking for it. But I choose to be insane, as in avoiding social group bonding.

As in, why after the last six years of the blogosphere, after even Florida 2000, are we still have these group gripes about the MSM? Do we have any evidence that the Media will change, become anything less than a friend to Capital and an enemy of the left? Has it been gettng better under pressure?

Is complaining about the "cackle" any kind of politics? It lost its entertainment value for me several years ago. That makes me crazy, and a troll.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:00 PM
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What really got to me in 2004, and was the end of my relationship with the NYT, was the extensive coverage of how people will react to the graphic design of GWB and JK bumper stickers. God knows graphic design is the closest thing to an ethos most NYT journalists have these days. But isn't the point that graphic design does things? That you don't have to tell the public about unless you're (a) warning them to be less gullible, or (b) trying to train them to become graphic designers?

It was all "Bush uses a strong font with no lower-case letters! People will see this as strength and determination. Kerry uses a weak-ass pansy font and lower-case letters, and also his flag waves around, just like some might say his platform does! People will see him as an effete, floppy, faggy snob." Oh, thanks, NYT, for treating that kind of stupid shit as if it's a reasonable reaction to meaningless crap like logos.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:02 PM
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257

Intrade has Dodd at .1 bid, .2 asked (behind Clinton, Obama, Gore, Edwards, Richardson and Biden) for the Democratic nomination. So he is a 500-1 longshot.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:02 PM
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261

"Fine, but that's not what they're reporting on. I wouldn't mind knowing that Edwards is loose and goofy one-on-one, or whatever. That's different from telling us how we're supposed to feel about HRC's TV appearances."

Aren't they in fact speculating on how the average person will react? This is not quite the same thing, is important and is something that the press theoretically at least) is better positioned to judege than the average voter.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:08 PM
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This is not quite the same thing, is important and is something that the press (theoretically at least) is better positioned to judege than the average voter.

Nonsense. Neither is at all positioned to have any insight into this.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:11 PM
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Ps: I really liked Schneider's comments above.

197:C'mon folks, this isn't rocket science, it's anthropology or sociology or some such thing. ...MS

The book I am reading is Gramsci for anthropologists, ya know, culture.

And I pay no attention at all to baseball.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:11 PM
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I think the assumption behind the NYT telling its readers how voters will react is that NYT readers are not real people, or real voters, and that we'll benefit from their coverage of what two guys in a diner in Utah think, or would think, or might or should think.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:14 PM
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But isn't the point that graphic design does things? That you don't have to tell the public about unless you're (a) warning them to be less gullible, or (b) trying to train them to become graphic designers?

Graphic design merits critical discussion just like everything else. It affects most people without their knowing it and in ways they don't understand -- we don't pay explicit attention to it. Good writing about graphic design makes things explicit.

I also like Robin Ghivan, of course, so pay no attention to me.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:15 PM
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272: which, gaaaaaah. I mean really.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:15 PM
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Say what you will about graphic design, at least it's an ethos.


Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:17 PM
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Kerry's font was in fact weak, IIRC.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:17 PM
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The "average person" is a fictional character who lives inside the pundit's head. As far as the question of how *I* react to Hillary's TV appearance, I can promise you, I am in a much better position to judge that than any reporter. If I want to know how other people in my neighborhood react, I can ask them.

If you're saying that watching someone live is different from watching them on TV, correct. But if I want to know how a Hillary speech will strike me if I see it live, I should probably try to go to one. Failing that, I should read an honest first-hand account by someone giving their honest opinion of a particular speech. The biggest possible waste of my time would be to read some New York Times story quoting a bunch of anonymous "experts" with an axe to grind discussing how the imaginary Middle Americans in their brains react to Hillary. Particularly since the pundit is probably basing his view of what imaginary Middle Americans think of Hillary primarily on reading a bunch of other stories from other pundits about what the fictional Middle Americans in their heads think about Hillary's tv appearances.

There are so many real stories out there going begging.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:19 PM
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Big media writes for esch other, some stupid Beltway East Coast thing. It makes as much sense, has as much relevance as Variety to a movie fan, Forbes to a factory worker, or Vogue to someone who shops at Walmart.

Y'all have fantasies about influencing policy and having a say in elections, like a shopgirl dreaming of Versace. The MSM wants to feed your fantasies of power.

Is it all bullshit? Not at a local level, Congressperson and below, if you work really hard. Sometimes. But you have nothing to do with Senators or Presidents, electing or influencing, and might as well ignore it all.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:20 PM
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270 272

So all the money campaigns spend on polls and focus groups and the like is wasted, it is all just random chance? I don't think so.

And of course if how the average voter reacts is determined by how the press reacts the press is far better positioned to judge.

Which is not say that the press actually reports this honestly or competently, just that it could.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:23 PM
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Walter Sobchak? Didn't I ban you?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:24 PM
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Is it all bullshit? Not at a local level, Congressperson and below, if you work really hard. Sometimes. But you have nothing to do with Senators or Presidents, electing or influencing, and might as well ignore it all.

Hah! I was born into influence, coach. Well, not born into. Lucked into? But you'd be surprised how small a world the insider world is.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:24 PM
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277

How do you feel about movie reviews?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:25 PM
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This is why, btw, campaign coverage is one place where the blogs really do a better job than the newspapers. Bloggers write about *their* reactions to the candidates, they don't quote anonymous sources speculating about how other people react to the candidates. If you're deciding whether to see a movie, which is more useful: a review describing the author's reaction to the movie? Or a "news" article quoting "cinema experts" taking guesses about what composite/fictional "average movie-goers" will think of it?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:26 PM
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283 was actually written before I read 282, oddly.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:27 PM
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A lot of the media tells the average person what the average person thinks. Since the average person isn't completely sure what he himself thinks, and since he doesn't really claim to know what the average person thinks, he might either say "Oh, most people disagree with me, guess I'm wrong" or "Most people disagree with me, guess it's hopeless". So these estimates are performatives, deciding what the average person thinks by telling him what he thinks.

David Brooks is famous for doing this in the face of clear evidence that the average person disagrees with him, but O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Matthews, and lots of others channel the average person all the time. It's a tremendous hoax. 9I call that opinion contracting. )


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:29 PM
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but it seems 250 does in fact play as charming, but in a feminine way.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:35 PM
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The average person is not sure what he or she himself thinks.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:35 PM
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heck, i should be reading or watching weeds and californication instead of thinking how politics is like baseball...the mets don't care what you think and you cant help them win

anybody watching californication? big theme is that duchovny really understands and likes women, and the dirty wit reminds of the mixed threads on unfogged


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:42 PM
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I am not the former commenter Walter Sobchak, I am the movie character Walter Sobchak.


Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:58 PM
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Walter Sobchak? Didn't I ban you?

This is my favorite part of the movie. These losers decide that they will accept what ever cash Donny, the Dude and Walter have on them in lieu of ransom. Everyone seems OK with this except Walter, "No! What's mine is mine!" Like Thoran Okanshield in the Hobit, standing alone against two armies refusing to give up the dragons horde of treasures. Donny's telling question, "Are they going to hurt us?" and Walter's very caring and quiet answer, "No Donny, these men are cowards" demonstrates that Walter has no idea how serious the situation really is. The most phenomenal thing is that when the three of them attack, Walter, who has a pistol in his bowling bag, instead of ending it right there and making them leave, instead throws the bag at one of them, breaking three of his ribs. Then he rips another's ear off with his teeth and punches him in the face. This is all movie behavior. Not real, but Walter makes it real. It is very hard to go through life this way, never growing, never building on ideas and incorporating the inevitable changes in beliefs and values that knowledge and experience requires. I cry for Walter because he seems so very real to me. This is a man who like a moth around a flame just keeps going in circles.

max
['Don't cry for me Argentinnnnnnaaaaaaaaaa...']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 7:58 PM
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Hmmm.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 8:12 PM
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286: but it seems 250 does in fact play as charming, but in a feminine way.

And therefore should be discounted?

Whatever. If a man came out with a forthright denunciation of torture as a policy, then followed it up with an observation that his wife's view wasn't relevant to the current conversation, then said with a smile that he and his wife would talk about it later, there is absolutely no way in the world you would describe that as a "feminine."

In fact, if you must shoehorn this episode into some genderized narrative (and it appears you must), then it would have made more sense to describe her response as stereotypically masculine - Hillary asserted her own view, and asserted her dominance over her spouse.

The funny thing is, actual real people understand how they themselves think - until the media drums start pounding. This is how it is possible for Gore to win a debate in the polling immediately following the debate - but lose it later because people who didn't watch the debate are told that he lost.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 8:22 PM
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Holy shit. I didn't read the NYT article until just now - I didn't think I needed to because this stuff is so rote. But wow, this piece really goes above-and-beyond for shear loathsomeness.

First, the author suggests that Hillary's response to the abortion question is the equivalent of eye-rolling. But Healy does nothing - nothing - to demonstrate that the question was anything other than ridiculous. Everybody who has paid attention over the last 20 years (and probably the last 40 years) knows the standard Clinton line on abortion: "Abortion should be safe, legal - and rare."

And yet, in making a statement entirely consistent with decades of Clinton sloganeering, Hillary is somehow accused of inconsistency. Why shouldn't she roll her eyes? Healy doesn't say - and doesn't treat the question as even being worthy of asking.

I'm pretty sure I actually watched, live, every example cited by Healy from the Sunday shows - and while watching I thought, gosh, Hillary sure is having fun. You could see her confidence, you could see that she knew that healthcare - the topic she was invited to talk about - was a topic that she was very much at ease with. Check the ratings, though, for the Sunday talk shows; people don't watch that stuff, they read the New York Times or watch Fox News, so Healy can get away with this horseshit essentially uncontradicted.

And Omigod, Healy brought up the "bad men" bullshit again. Hillary made an obvious, unambiguous joke - and a pretty good joke, at her own expense. The press took this opportunity to demand that Hillary denounce her husband explicitly. She refused.

And somehow this enters the national narrative as an example of a problem with Hillary and not a problem with the media. Are you fucking kidding me? I can't believe you endorsed this crap, ogged.

I used to ask myself what the fuck was wrong with people, but now I realize that it's really not people that are the problem - it's the media, and the gullible shits who uncritically accept what they read there.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 9:50 PM
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Someone else has probably said this in this thread - I haven't bothered to read all three hundred comments - but Clinton's laugh isn't objectionable because it sounds forced, but because it typically comes at times when she's asked about a subject she doesn't want to deal with - for example, her health care task force or her vote for the Iraq war. That she responds to serious questions about her most serious failures - failures which have cost hundreds of thousands of lives - with canned laughter is infuriating... especially when that canned laughter is typically followed by a craven rhetorical dodge.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 10- 1-07 7:38 AM
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293 is great.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10- 1-07 9:38 AM
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