Re: Inform Us

1

I find John Kerry pretty nice in person. That aside, I think "personal likeability" is too simplistic, and you're looking for something more like the charisma that makes an actor or rock star compelling; the personal quality that makes you feel instantly personally invested in what happens to somebody next.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:30 AM
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So how do I sign up for the Official Sifu Tweety Fan Club?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:34 AM
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I still don't get what makes George W more likable than John Kerry - except the media drumbeat that insists that it's so.

But you know what? I also like Hillary. Jesus, I even think she's attractive. So my views are clearly beyond the pale - and necessarily so inauthentic that they probably border on trollery.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:35 AM
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I was also struck by Howley's assertion that Clinton "bursts into tears". I saw her get choked up a little, but it wasn't like she was sobbing or there were tears streaming down her face.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:36 AM
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The problem with 'personal likeability' is how strongly it's affected by what people (that is, the media, who are the only people everyone else hear) are saying. Gore was unlikeable, Kerry was unlikeable, now Clinton's unlikeable. Candidates don't get a hard time because they're unlikeable, they get publicly defined as unlikeable and then any mud sticks.

(Ogged, remember the 'cackle' thread, where you got suckered by an RNC blast fax? No matter how good your personal judgment is of people you're actually acquainted with, if you know them only through the media you'd have to be superhuman to not be influenced by the media's slant on them personally.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:37 AM
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Yeah, likeable isn't as big of a problem here as competing with massive charisma. Hillary always had this problem with Bill, too; she is, in most ways, a lot more likeable than Bill, but Bill was pure charisma, and anyone in the room with him was only attractive by association.

There's nothing you can do to compete with it. Edwards knows this, I think, perhaps inappropriately, since he's naturally extremely funny and charming and intelligent. But Edwards has never figured out how to be charismatic to more than a few people at a time.

Of the three front-runners, only Obama is at his best in a big room.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:37 AM
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I think there's something to be said for ogged's likeability theory, although I also think it's important to add that the major factor is whether the press likes someone, and then we get to watch everything filtered through that like or dislike.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:39 AM
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Dammit, LB.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:40 AM
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That is, I mean to say that HRC and Edwards are both really, really "likeable," more so than dour, professorial Obama. What the media keeps talking about is not really "likeability," and I think that's what's confusing the Clinton campaign.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:40 AM
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Rather pedantically, Kerry's a whole lot richer than Bush. Bush's net worth is in the 20 million range, while Kerry's (well, Heinz's) is hundreds of millions.

Of course, Bush clears brush and doesn't ride one of dem faggy Italian road bikes.


Posted by: ptm | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:40 AM
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whether the press likes someone

And of course the press's 'liking' can be an honest personal reaction, or it can be shaped by a political agenda. I think there's a fair shot that they really do, mostly, personally like McCain -- as against the other primary opponents I don't see a political reason for treating him as adoringly as they do. But the Gore/Kerry/Clinton are just all so personally loathsome story really doesn't come off as a straightforward personal antipathy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:42 AM
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10: Although if you're looking at money of origin, Kerry grew up small-scale rich -- well-off, but not serious money. Bush grew up RICH. Kerry's crazy rich because he married a billionaire, not otherwise.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:44 AM
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9 just seems really wrong to me. Obama is likable, and not just charismatic. Clinton is muy unlikable and Edwards too, but less so. Obviously this isn't about my personal interactions with them, but about how they "appear" or "come across," but that's all that matters. I suppose it's possible that I'm just being suckered by the press, but when I said I was suckered by the fax, it wasn't that I decided that Hillary wasn't cackling, but that I shouldn't have posted about it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:44 AM
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The problem with 'personal likeability' is how strongly it's affected by what people (that is, the media, who are the only people everyone else hear) are saying. Gore was unlikeable, Kerry was unlikeable, now Clinton's unlikeable. Candidates don't get a hard time because they're unlikeable, they get publicly defined as unlikeable and then any mud sticks.

This is so important to remember, especially after the Gore/Bush debacle. Rolling Stone's (I think???) piece should be reprinted and be mandatory reading.

Along those lines, whenever I personally or professionally know anything about a particular topic that gets covered in the media, the media has always screwed up a critical part of the story.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:47 AM
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I thought we let Granholm's being a girl slide, and focused on her evil, Canadian nature instead.


Posted by: mike d | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:48 AM
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For reasons that others have stated, I don't think that likeability is doing the work here, but you hit on what is doing the work in your post. The media like a tidy narrative. If they've told a story where Clinton is the competent but unemotional and unlikeable heir apparent, anything that doesn't fit with that, whether it's "crying" (by which we mean barely breaking the "unemotional" template) or finishing third in a close contest, they have to work it in. Thus we get Hillary's campaign breaking down. If they've told a story where McCain is the straight-talking underdog, and he finishes fourth, we get a story of his resurgence.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:48 AM
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I suppose it's possible that I'm just being suckered by the press,

Ya think?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:48 AM
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I don't actually think so, LB. I think Gore, Kerry and H Clinton are all manifestly unlikable and I and people I knew were remarking on this fact long before any of them got the nomination, but I try to throw you a bone every now and then.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:50 AM
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I was also struck by Howley's assertion that Clinton "bursts into tears". I saw her get choked up a little, but it wasn't like she was sobbing or there were tears streaming down her face.

I had the same experience, M/tch.

Sadly, not everyone takes the time to actually see what happened by watching the video.

One would hope that these horrible pundits and line readers would get busted for being wrong so frequently that nobody believes them. But, I doubt it.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:50 AM
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faggy Italian road bikes.

Handmade in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Just sayin'.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:51 AM
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Huh. So, ogged, how often do you hand over your life savings in exchange for a handful of magic beans? Annually, or more often than that? And how's it working out for you?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:51 AM
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I don't know, I find Hilary personally likable too. When you look at the big picture, her responses to all the crazy shit that's happened to her are understandable and sympathetic. In informal settings she seems to have a good sense of humor and a lot of warmth. I totally respect her for sticking by Bill.

There's a difference between persona and personality though, that has to do with this question of large-scale vs. small-scale charisma. Something about her public persona comes across as a bit forced and unnatural. Al Gore had this too. I think many people would; politics is just a weirdly artificial setting.

Agreed with the commenters above who say that this is also about press screens and politics. I find GW Bush obviously unlikable -- that sniggering frat-boy mockery -- and Giuliani is ridiculously self-satisfied and a little mean. But basically Republicans don't get much crap from the press.

But really, Hillary was just doing the bite-lower-lip-and-tear-up thing that was her husband's bread and butter. It's so absurd to say this has anything to do with toughness. In fact, tearing up on cue and then pivoting into a rather telling attack on Obama immediately afterwards shows true toughness and discipline.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:52 AM
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Also, I think HRC's new campaign tactic ("You want change? I've given you 35 years of change!") is a terrible decision. Obama and Edwards have also been working, in less spotlight, and people know it. HRC, however, has been in the public eye for way too long for not getting what she's fighting for.

Also, she's been accusing her opponents of flipflopping on major issues, voting liberal and then coming to the middle, as if they promise change but cave like everyone else. This would only be a strong position if HRC had not herself always voted for the war, the PATRIOT Act, etc.

She comes across as bitter that other people are getting attention, when she's used to being the one in the spotlight, and is using that advantage to downplay O and E's accomplishments. It looks shitty and unlikeable.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:53 AM
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I try to throw you a bone every now and then

I apologize for this. That's pre-breakfast ogged!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:54 AM
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23 is true -- while I wouldn't call it personal unlikability, it's certainly bad campaigning.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:54 AM
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Where the hell are the Michegonians?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:54 AM
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Michegonians s/b Michiganders

/humorless pedantry

It's worth noting that Granholm's personal popularity took a severe beating over the course of her tenure in office as the state's economy deteriorated. Being governor of Michigan is probably akin to what Warren Buffett said about managers (paraphrased): "When a manager with a reputation for excellent performance meets an industry with a reputation for poor economic fundamentals, it is usually the industry that emerges with its reputation intact."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:54 AM
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a bit forced and unnatural. Al Gore had this too

My take on it is that they, like Kerry, come across as vaguely prissy finger-waggers.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:56 AM
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Ogged, certainly you are not suggesting that the media can make a person likable or unlikable?

I do it all the time:

"She kept the kids from him."
"He tried to take the kids from her."

It isnt that hard to change the focus of the story.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:58 AM
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18: Gore to me seemed a million times more likable after the campaigns were done and he became Captain Planet. Either he got a personality transplant, or the passionate and interesting guy was ignored during the campaign.

I worry about the tendency of HRC and her handlers to try Bill Clinton's charisma-based strategy without actually having a politician of BC's talent.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:58 AM
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I think Gore, Kerry and H Clinton are all manifestly unlikable

I don't know if you or anyone you know has actually met Kerry, ogged, but we have right here a longtime commenter who has vouched for his in-person likeability. Which suggests that something else is going on.

Maybe you want to use a phrase like "doesn't come across well on TV."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:58 AM
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Yep. And that's your absolutely personal, uninfluenced reaction to them, not even a little mediated by the media narratives about them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:58 AM
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Check my 13, JRoth.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:59 AM
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26: Where the hell are the Michegonians?

Mayday! Mayday! Tangentially relevant anecdotes needed to save blogger from artless post consisting of Republican-spin drenched media narratives and lame generalizations. Mayday!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:00 AM
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It ain't us, it's the media.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:00 AM
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28: Exactly. With Obama, you could imagine taking a class from him and enjoying it. His pedagogical model reminds me of Frances Willard's in the 1890's---educate and organize people by insisting that they have knowledge and abilities the community is losing if they don't learn how to put them to use. A good teacher facilitates individual ability by giving it motivation and shape.

Now that I've thought of this, I wonder if my irritation at HRC isn't that I would hate having her as a professor. Pre-pres-campaign Edwards would have made a delightful thesis advisor.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:01 AM
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Gore to me seemed a million times more likable after the campaigns were done and he became Captain Planet.

Word. Make me think that his 2000 campaign people should be shot.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:02 AM
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32 to 28.

30: Gore to me seemed a million times more likable after the campaigns were done and he became Captain Planet. Either he got a personality transplant, or the passionate and interesting guy was ignored during the campaign.

I think that's pretty much it.

I don't understand why people like Ogged insist on being such committed suckers. It seems so patently insane to me to sit there and say "Yes, I have a limited picture of these people -- every scrap of information I have about them personally is mediated by a very small group of people who I know to be pushing their own political agendas. Yet I have such incredible faith in my own sagacity that I think I can get a reliable personal sense of the candidates even under these circumstances."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:02 AM
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the passionate and interesting guy was ignored during the campaign.

Bingo. Not to say that he wasn't occasionally pedantic or whatever, but when you look at media responses to his post-convention speeches - which were barn-burners - and his first debate performance - which everyone in real time agreed had eviscerated Bush - it's obvious how they created an impression of unlikeability.

DeLong has made the excellent point that we're really fucked by a system in which the most important quality for participation in public life is the rather un-natural ability to talk to a camera as if it were a personal friend.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:02 AM
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18: Gore to me seemed a million times more likable after the campaigns were done and he became Captain Planet. Either he got a personality transplant, or the passionate and interesting guy was ignored during the campaign.

I think it was a little of both. It seems to me that during the campaign, Gore spent a lot of time second-guessing himself and getting too caught up in the need to distance himself from President Blow-Job, with the actual result of being more stiff and unpleasant than he should have been.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:03 AM
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I wouldn't have gotten pwned there if I hadn't added the very interesting bit from DeLong.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:03 AM
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DeLong has made the excellent point that we're really fucked by a system in which the most important quality for participation in public life is the rather un-natural ability to talk to a camera as if it were a personal friend.

Exactly. Also, what LB said about some people being such committed suckers.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:04 AM
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"Yes, I have a limited picture of these people -- every scrap of information I have about them personally is mediated by a very small group of people who I know to be pushing their own political agendas. Yet I have such incredible faith in my own sagacity that I think I can get a reliable personal sense of the candidates even under these circumstances.

this is exactly what I felt before Unfogged DCon!


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:05 AM
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I should say that I don't think you're a sucker for being influenced by the media narrative. I think you're a sucker for consciously considering the effect of the media narrative, and thinking that you're so impervious to its influence that you can divine valuable intangible truths about the candidates through it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:05 AM
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33: I have a big problem with using the term "manifestly" to mean "once filtered through a hostile media." I guess I'm just a language conservative.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:06 AM
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You're all wrong about Gore. He was a totally unlikable campaigner, but he seems more likable since his loss because, first, he's relaxed a lot and second, the scrutiny people get when they're not running is of a different order--he still has moments now that would have sunk him then, but no one cares. Wesley Clark is another one who seems strong and compelling as a non-candidate, and like a big priss as a candidate. Again, I'm not judging these people's souls, but how they come across.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:06 AM
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40: Probably a little. And no doubt he's actually enjoying life more being able to fight for the issues he cares about. But there's no way a change that drastic is just a change in Gore himself.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:07 AM
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every scrap of information I have about them personally is mediated by a very small group of people

Well, that and a few decades of, y'know, legislative records.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:07 AM
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39: That's true. Being 'telegenic' is different from being personally likable or charismatic, and that's not so much a creation of the media -- you have it or you don't. Thinking it's a valuable way to differentiate between candidates, on the other hand, puts you back into the 'sucker' column.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:07 AM
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46: But ogged, the fact that he isn't subject to the same scrutiny or the same standards is what shapes the goddamn narrative! The takeaway from your post seems to be 'a candidate needs to be likeable in order to win' without recognizing that the reason the candidate seems likeable isn't really something under the candidate's control.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:09 AM
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I was really hoping this would be the Michigander (thanks, Knecht) thread. You're all so wrong about this it makes me sad. It's because you're robots, I think.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:09 AM
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48: That's professional information. You can collect real, valid information about people's policy history and their history of actual accomplishments, and make valid judgments on that basis.

What you can't do is be personally acquainted with them. All the intangible stuff you know about them is created by the media.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:09 AM
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I don't make you sad, Ogged! I bring sunshine and gumdrops!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:10 AM
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LB, no one is saying that our impressions of them are anything like being personally acquainted with them.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:11 AM
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Apostropher doesn't make me sad.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:11 AM
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35: It ain't us, it's the media.

Yes, you are quite right. Like government, we do get the media we deserve ... and uncritically accepting their BS is one reason we have the horribly, malignant national political press we enjoy today.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:11 AM
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I wonder if, by comment 100, Al Gore will be the most likable man on earth.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:11 AM
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There is an interesting question here: I think many/most of us here find GWB to be extremely unlikeable, even before he ruined the country. Now we know that the media love him, for all their various reasons, and so pushed the "likeability" thing on his behalf. Is it really so simple that, whatever the media says, goes?

It's interesting because some of us, at least, weren't suckered about GWB, while some of us have been suckered about Kerry, to say the least (I'm sticking with him because we know that he is, in fact, personable).

I assume that it comes down to "narratives we're open to," but is there more to it?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:12 AM
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This thread is a perfect reminder of why you shouldn't vote based on personality. None of us know what these people are like in real life, and it's not like it matters anyway. What matters is what they've done in office, and what they intend to do in the future. I don't hate the Clintons because they're likable or unlikable, I hate them because they're nasty warmongering bastards who like to fuck the poor.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:13 AM
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But they're described in the same terms as the information you'd get from being personally acquainted -- likable, pedantic, stiff... For anyone but a presidential candiate, a complete answer to "Is he likable?" is "I don't know -- I've never met him, I'm only acquainted with his professional work."

You're reacting to a media-created persona as if it were a person you knew. To the extent you're putting any weight on that reaction, it means that you're a very credulous person.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:14 AM
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60-->54


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:14 AM
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52: Part of what makes Gore and Clinton come off as prissy fingerwaggers is a long, prissy, finger-wagging legislative record, LB. Gore's earlier involvement with the PMRC, picking Lieberman (then best known for wanting to federally regulate video games), etc. HRC loves to bang on those same issues. I agree that there's no escaping the media narrative in a media-drenched environment, but that doesn't mean that image just arose with no justification whatsoever.

Obviously I don't know them personally, but I'm not voting for them to be my drinking buddy. I'm voting on them to write and enact legislation.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:15 AM
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I met Al Sharpton at the Jefferson/Jackson Dinner in Richmond in 2004. We had a very pleasant 2 second interaction. I think he is nice and very likeable.

I regret not getting a huge, wall-sized picture of us together.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:16 AM
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a media-created persona

In what sense is sighing debater Al Gore a "media-created persona?" There he was, sighing.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:16 AM
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This seems a bit like saying that it's silly to differentiate candidates by their likelihood of winning votes. Sure, the connection between vote-getting and smart (or at least appealing to Set X) policy is hard to see, but that doesn't make think vote-getting ability is less important. It might make smart policy less important, though.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:17 AM
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57: Look, what you don't seem to be getting is that even if you're not judging the person's soul, you're putting a lot of stock into 'how they come across' as if it isn't something that isn't also manufactured. By all accounts, GWB is an asshole to his staff, petulant when he doesn't get his way, yet the media pushed the narrative that he was just a reg'lar joe you could have a beer with, when he acted like any spoiled Yale trust fund brat.

But he's just more 'likable' than Kerry?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:17 AM
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When GWB was first running, he struck me as a sort-of likeable buffoon, not a snickering murderous asshole. But I wasn't following the GOP primary and didn't know much about him, other than he wasn't as southern and folksy as he pretended to be.

Remember, though, that GWB's personality has changed a lot over the past 8 years. When he first ran, his speech, frex, was funky, but not totally incomprehensible. Can you imagine him now surviving any kind of unscripted debate at all? I think it's clear he's been suffering from some kind of brain parasite or early-onset Alzheimer's or some other kind of dementia. There's being a dumbass, and then there's brain damage. GWB has stealthily slipped from the former into the latter without many people noticing.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:17 AM
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I lived in Michigan for like years. It was really cold. There were many lakes and trees and morel mushrooms. People with funny hats shot forest creatures.

You're welcome.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:17 AM
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57: I wonder if, by comment 100, Al Gore will be the most likable man on earth.

No George W "please don't kill me" Bush is. ... Or he was, but then he betrayed conservatism.

Jesus Weeping Christ on the Cross! Where, oh where are the Michigonians?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:18 AM
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Let me put it this way: it's one thing to say that Al Gore was not the most charismatic or warm or convincing campaigner. It's quite another to see him standing up there with that flaming asshole, GWB ("Wanna buy some wood? A-huh!")*, and say that Gore was less likeable. And, in fact, that's not what people said - until the media told them it was true. You must know these facts, ogged - right? Real-time focus groups and overnight polling said that Gore won the first debate hands down. By Day 3, polls said he had lost due to pedantry and sighing - being "unlikeable."

Explain this, please, with your "manifest" qualities that aren't in any way manipulated by the agenda-driven media.

* I know this particular assholery was in a Kerry debate, but I think it captures just what a fucking tool the man is.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:18 AM
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In what sense is sighing debater Al Gore a "media-created persona?" There he was, sighing.

He fucking breathed a little heavy and they boosted the gain on his mike until it sounded like he was being an obnoxious jerk. Without the sound manipulation, the 'sigh' was fucking inaudible. What is wrong with you?

(Are you trolling me, in which case my hat's off, or are you really this clueless?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:18 AM
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65 to this: Being 'telegenic' is different from being personally likable or charismatic, and that's not so much a creation of the media -- you have it or you don't. Thinking it's a valuable way to differentiate between candidates, on the other hand, puts you back into the 'sucker' column.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:18 AM
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Anyhow, the depressing part (to me) about the sexist criticisms of HRC isn't that they harm her personally -- it's what they reveal about how pervasive and unapologetic misogyny is in our culture. I get just as bummed out when the same sentiments crop up in discourse surrounding supposedly less-masculine male candidates like Edwards.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:18 AM
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Also, "likable" is a terrible descriptor to be using in this context. Likability is incredibly subjective; if I like Al Gore, then I'll find him likable; if Ogged doesn't like him, then Ogged will think he's unlikable. What we're really going for are words like charismatic and telegenic, which, while still subjective, tend to be applied a little more selectively.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:19 AM
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Look, politicians are advocates for our interests as citizens. To me, the legit questions are: do you agree with their vision of our interests, and how effective will they be advocating for those interests. I really could care less about anything else. How good they are on TV and how well they get the press to present them is (unfortunately) part of their effectiveness as an advocate under our crazy, messed-up system. We should never think that it says much real about them as a person (which is how the media tries to sell it), but it still does matter.

To me, Hillary doing the tearing-up bit probably made me marginally more likely to support her, because it shows she has a greater performance range than I thought she did, she's got better emotional range in her public expression. Edwards response I'm holding back on -- if it works, then it makes me more likely to vote for him, since it shows he knows how to predict and play the public mood when his back is against the wall (as it is now). If it backfires, as I suspect it will, it makes me think less of him as an effective candidate.

NONE of this has anything to do with whether "Hillary is soft" or "Edwards is sexist". All of that stuff is soap-opera bullshit, plain and simple. We don't know these people and we never fully will.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:19 AM
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I have been misspelling likable all day just because it looks stupid to me this morning. Maybe I should try reading, like, books, and stuff.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:20 AM
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I apologize for this. That's pre-breakfast ogged!

So, after breakfast, you wouldn't even throw us a bone?


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:20 AM
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64: Reagan sighed 'There you go again' and was a hero, not condescending at all. Gore sighed and it was proof that he was a condescending fingerwagger. The media works with what the candidates give them, and the successful politician won't play into game if they can, but look at will's comment. Same fact: kids are not spending time with their dad. Under one gloss it's the wife's fault, and under the other it's the dad's.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:21 AM
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He fucking breathed a little heavy and they boosted the gain on his mike until it sounded like he was being an obnoxious jerk.

In real time? That's the first time I've heard that.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:21 AM
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("Wanna buy some wood? A-huh!")*

Now watch this drive.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:21 AM
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We emitted low, mordant chuckles as we quoted a relevant paragraph from Daily Howler in support of LB's and JRoth's points.

By the way: How much did Gore really sigh that night? Here at THE HOWLER, we taped the NBC broadcast of the debate, and you really have to struggle and strain to see or hear this now-iconic misconduct on the tape of that broadcast. Plainly, it hadn't kept the people who watched this debate from naming Gore the winner. But you know that press corps! Rather than focus on Bush's fact-challenged name-calling, they decided to focus on Gore's troubling sighs! (As "sport," it was more "entertaining" and "fun," Margaret Carlson would soon tell Don Imus.) They created a loop tape of the sighs; jacked up the volume; and they played their tape again and again. And as they did so, Gore's poll numbers dropped like a stone. If they had played tape of Bush saying "fuzzy math," the same thing would have happened to him.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:23 AM
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bastards who like to fuck the poor.

I'm pretty sure that Monica came from a fairly well-off family. I think that Bill just fucked the poor in Arkansas due to the socioeconomic condition of the state.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:23 AM
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I was in Michigan then. I remember she ran an ad that showed her family, which raised a few eyebrows. She was likable, and was younger and prettier than (say) HRC, which I guess helped her. TNR had a very unflattering caricature of her on its cover several years ago, though I don't know what the story was about; they seemed to think she was too butch or something, IIRC.

The previous governor was an asshole; thank God Bush didn't win Michigan in 2004, because he would have made him a Cabinet member.

Nobody cared that Granholm was from Canada, except to point out that she was ineligible for the presidency.

Granholm's unpopular because of the horrible economy, like Knecht said, but also because some of the stuff she's proposed, such as the ridulous Cool Cities Initiative, are totally ineffectual.

I don't really understand the question in the post, and don't have time to think about it just now, as I'm late for work.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:23 AM
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I guess if I ever met a journalist I would hate him or her, because I generally think the people they call likeable are detestable. George Bush? Give me a fucking break. Ronald Reagan? Great if you like a slug trail of smarm across your floor.

Except for Obama. He's hott.

Not that it matters. I won't be having a beer with the next president either. Who fucking cares about likeable?


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:24 AM
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"The fact that she's unlikable". Jesus F. Christ. This isn't primarily about gender, even. It's the sheer mind boggling lack of awareness about how this works, & the lack of awareness that you are not just neutrally "reporting" the "fact" of her unlikeability. You're measuring whether she's unlikeable by how often our dumb dumb dumb dumb press corps says she's unlikeable. They of course also aren't say "I don't like her"--oh no, that wouldn't be objective. They just report the fact that crying/not showing emotion/shrillness/lack of passion etc. etc. makes it hard to connect with voters, especially for a woman. And THEY don't care about Edwards' haircut, but it's a story, but voters do. And YOU don't care that Hillary Clinton choked up a little, but clearly this finishes her campaign, because voters won't....

Do you understand that you are doing your bit, albeit a small bit, to contribute to this idiocy, rather than just neutrally reporting "facts" about what other people say?

Do you know why she in particular is taking this sort of crap? It's partly gender & you're pretty blind to that. It's partly because she's not as good at working a crowd as Obama & she's run a more negative campaign & taken more cheap shots herself. It's partlly because she came into this race with having been smeared as an evil vagithug for eight years. It's partly because her strategy for counteracting this exhibited all the pathologies of beltway Democrats.

But the MAIN reason is, she finished 9 points behind Obama in the Iowa caucuses. And there is just NOTHING that our press corps loves better than a winner or hates more than a loser.

I'd say they treat it like a game or a sport. But in sports, you know, the team in a slump gets bad press, but that bad press doesn't actually change the outcome of the game.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:24 AM
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I moved away from Michigan when Engler was still in office. Sorry.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:24 AM
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79: Not in real time, but after the fact. No one watching the debate thought the sighs were obnoxious.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:24 AM
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Or, fuck me, the Dean scream. Did you hear the difference between what the scream sounded like with the background noise of the cheering crowd dampened and with the crowd at full volume? The first sounds like the scream-heard-'round-the-Internet; the second is barely remarkable. Now maybe Dean shouldn't have screamed, but the reaction to the scream didn't happen in a vacuum.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:25 AM
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No one watching the debate thought the sighs were obnoxious.

I can falsify that.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:26 AM
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89: I don't believe that your current memory of your reaction to the debate is uncolored by your later exposure to the coverage.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:26 AM
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Well, I hate to ride to Ogged's rescue, but I was in Michigan then and voted for Granhom. I remember being very impressed by her, and she took out some very serious competition in the primary (Bonior and a former gov). All I remember about the republican candidate is that he had the unfortunate name, Posthumous. I've left the state, but I have the same impression as Knecht that her fortunes have waned with the collapse of the auto economy.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:27 AM
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I can falsify that.

Right. Robots, the lot of you. Apo and SCMT excepted. They are warm and human. I like them.

Or, fuck me, the Dean scream.

Yes, the Dean scream. I was watching that in real time in a room full of people and he hadn't gotten off stage when someone said "He's done."

It ain't us, it's the media.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:27 AM
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There's a deeper question here about how politicians handle the press. Handling the press properly is a big part of their job, so if the press trashes them it's in some sense bad campaign performance. On the other hand, handling the press has to include some aspect of contempt for how bad they really are. The press seems to respond well to being bullied in the proper manner. (The public waking up how bad the press is is helpful too -- liberals are more resistant to press narratives today than they once were).

How will Obama handle it if the press turns on him? Don't believe they ever have.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:28 AM
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maybe Dean shouldn't have screamed

Dean was better before he took off the makeup.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:28 AM
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As far as the media and likeability, I think the important thing to understand is that the media really liked George Bush in 2000 because he reflected their own styles and personalities. The frat-boy competitive snark, the fondling, the indifference to policy, the rudeness and cruelty to subordinates...what do you thing Russert & Matthews are like? They want people like them (Sally Quinn, Broder) in Washington.

And I can't stop myself, what does it tell us that the Village hates John Edwards and loves Obama?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:29 AM
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Further to 90: That was obnoxious of me, and I should never make any statements with 'no one' or 'everyone' in them. That said, polls and focus groups didn't come up with anyone who noticed the sighs that night -- they only turned into an issue after the media pushed them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:29 AM
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(of course, if YOU don't like her, it's fine to explain why. But that's your preference. Own up to it. Don't pretend that you are just neutrally observing an obvious "fact."

I actually like Obama much better than Clinton & always have. A lot of my relatives seem to feel the opposite; there's a gender gap but there's a stronger generation gap. Yesterday I was liking her better than Edwards, which is remarkable, but she'll probably have some line today about "false hope" that reminds me why she always my clear last choice in this race.)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:29 AM
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I think likeable gets at something very real about what most people (LB and her position papers excepted) want in a candidate.

But that word is too broad and too personal to capture it well. Coming across as powerful and attractive on TV is really different from personal charisma, even. Most of these politicians are impressive people in person, and some are even people you want to like. But carrying that impression through TV and media reports of you, is some totally crazy skill. But it communicates something that most of us find very reassuring in a leader.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:30 AM
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All I remember about the republican candidate is that he had the unfortunate name, Posthumous.

Even worse, it was "Dick Posthumus".

His slogan should have been "business before pleasure". He was a farmer after all.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:30 AM
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that the Village hates John Edwards

This is a big part of the reason I support him, actually. He pisses off all the people I can't stand.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:31 AM
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I have always found the "likeability" of politicians mystifying. W? A likeable, regular guy only to somebody who has spent several hundred years in a cave far from the migration routes of the rich frat guy herds. Bill Clinton? An excellent salesman, whose favorite product was Bill Clinton. Gore? A little more difficult to comment, because a friend of mine knew him fairly well and always spoke very highly of him. Hillary? Kill me.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:31 AM
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"It ain't us, it's the media."

You're part of that media, buddy.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:31 AM
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Yes, the Dean scream. I was watching that in real time in a room full of people and he hadn't gotten off stage when someone said "He's done."

You weren't in the room, dumbass, you were watching on TV, where Dean himself was miked, but the crowd noise wasn't.

You know that when a football player gets tackled, that pads popping sound isn't actually the loudest thing in the stadium, right?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:31 AM
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I can get behind 98; maybe "likable" isn't capturing it, although some people seem to know what I mean.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:32 AM
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92: Yup. The microphones used to pick up the sound for television were designed to dampen crowd noise. The next day, someone ran a tape from what it sounded like if you were actually at the rally, and it sounds like someone's exuberance being totally drowned out by the crowd. The most you could say is that it looked un-Presidential, but somehow not 'deranged' or 'unhinged', which I remember as some words floating around afterwards.

Of course, you watched it in real-time. Which means something.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:32 AM
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I wonder why I find that capital-V "Village" shorthand so irritating.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:32 AM
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I don't believe that your current memory of your reaction to the debate is uncolored by your later exposure to the coverage.

You're wrong. At a minimum, the physical cringe I remember wasn't dependent on Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine. Note that it is possible we have different reactions to people. Kerry strikes me as an unlikeable, opportunistic fish with a tendency towards an irritating sentence structure. Which is how he struck a lot of Dems prior to his nomination.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:33 AM
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JRoth, I don't see how 103 is relevant to anything I've said.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:33 AM
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she'll probably have some line today about "false hope"

What, like about how LBJ stepped in and saved the poor widdle civil rights movement?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:34 AM
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108: Reread Cala's 105, which says the same thing without the snark.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:34 AM
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jesus christ, I thought ogged had reached the outer limits of trolling the blog with the whole 'no one can dance to hip-hop' thing, but I was wrong. my hat is off to you, sir!


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:35 AM
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an unlikeable, opportunistic fish with a tendency towards an irritating sentence structure

Sounds a great deal like W to me, compared to whom John Kerry is a fucking superhero and saint.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:35 AM
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What "it was really like" or what "they're really like in person" is irrelevant. I now refer everyone to spaz's 98.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:35 AM
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95 is a rather brilliant comment.

But I'm still reassured by the press liking Obama...it might be because he has the proper mix of humorous condescension and contempt toward them. Maybe the left could use some frat boy skills too.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:36 AM
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I thought I could safely form my opinions of the candidates based on their speeches, but no! It turns out that the sound engineers are the most insidious members of the VRWC.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:36 AM
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For "unlikeable" substitute "disliked", perhaps.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:36 AM
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100:Corollary:Anyone the village loves can't be trusted

As far as the media loving a winner, they still love McCain after his 4th place in Iowa and AFAIK Huck's press hasn't gotten that much more positive.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:36 AM
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106: I wonder, too. Too much M. Night Shylaman?

Do you not buy the critique (that the permanent DC class of pundits and preferred pols has a poisonous, anti-democratic insularity), or do you find the term itself doesn't express the critique aptly?

You know the origin, right? Digby's iconic post from a few years back?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:36 AM
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98, 113: But carrying that impression through TV and media reports of you, is some totally crazy skill.

It's not a skill, or not only a skill. It's mostly an artifact of how the media treats you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:37 AM
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By the way, Huckabee is likable but disliked by the press. But that's impossible!!!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:37 AM
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Television can bend space and time, Ogged.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:39 AM
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I basically agree with the critique but find the term offputting and cutesy, or perhaps smarmy. It rubs me the wrong way more than it has any call to, though.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:39 AM
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120: I think Huckabee has the closest to Clinton-level and Clinton-type charisma in this race. (Obama is more JFK type charisma...runs colder than Clinton). The press hates him because he represents the rubes. But Huck seems to shred interviewers pretty effortlessly.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:39 AM
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I'm almost annoyed by this thread, but having two sides who each regard the other as poor, deluded souls is pretty amusing.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:39 AM
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How will Obama handle it if the press turns on him?

He'll be more fucked than we can possibly imagine. It turns out Apo's right: we're not ready for a black President (though I don't think it's simple racism). I'm fine now with HRC or Edwards.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:39 AM
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103 was me. Here is me making the same point a little less shrilly, back when ogged was explaining how a post about American voters' demand for an "angry ape" was "analyzing the factors that are most important.":

"These aren't the factors that are most important as a matter of substance. Insofar as they're most important as a matter of how the electorate decides, it's largely because the press focuses on stupid trivia like this at the expense of anything that actually matters. You can claim that that's the press & electorate we have, & that's how they do decide things. But you're not neutrally observing that--you're contributing to it."

See the same thread for my stirring defense of the politics of hope.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:40 AM
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OK I'll throw ogged a bone here and say that I do not, and never have had, particularly warm feelings towards hilary clinton.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:40 AM
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106, 118: I can't stand it either. It's either that it's simply a joke that's run its course and wasn't all that clever to begin with but still won't go away, or that it's soiling my childhood memories of watching The Prisoner.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:40 AM
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120: The conservative bloggers don't seem to find him likable.

The media isn't all-powerful - they couldn't make the country hate Bill Clinton in '98, either, and God knows they tried. Huckabee has a personality that works on TV - he (apparently) rocked on Leno, which is a great forum for folksy types (who aren't corpses, like Thompson).

Of course, this doesn't mean that Huckabee would be a better president than HRC. But he's more likable. So confusing!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:41 AM
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Huckabee has a personality that works on TV

This is what I call "likable." What the problem?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:42 AM
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It turns out that the sound engineers are the most insidious members of the VRWC.

They are engineers, after all.

OK I'll throw ogged a bone here and say that I do not, and never have had, particularly warm feelings towards hilary clinton.

That's because the media has taught you to hate women.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:42 AM
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Anyway, re Michigan: I'm from there but I don't follow MI politics. It's a subject I carefully avoid with my family. But I can say that the Detroit newspapers are the worst I've ever seen, and that their opinion of any politician seems to be entirely based on whether that politician will favor or oppose pollution standards for cars. Favor bad. Oppose good.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:43 AM
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120: Huckabee is disliked by the Establishment -- but not at all by the press tout court. He plays the bass and drawls folksy aphorisms and they like nothing better but to put their cameras on him and chuckle, and not a bit derisively.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:44 AM
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109: EXACTLY like that!

125: no, it's not simple racism--it's a combination of racism and people who share your dumbass view of these things.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:44 AM
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108:How will Obama handle it if the press turns on him?

Short of the dg/lb, I don't see it happening. Did the press ever "turn on" McCain? Did Clinton ever get this much love, even as a winner? The press has found their dude.

OTOH, the country doesn't like Obama, so far, as much as the press. Very high negatives, only partially based on race.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:44 AM
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It turns out Apo's right: we're not ready for a black President

Whaddya mean, it "turns out" that this is the case? What has happened to reveal this great verity to you?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:46 AM
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135: Thought I saw a poll yesterday that had Obama now tied with Hillary nationally.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:46 AM
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What "it was really like" or what "they're really like in person" is irrelevant.

And were I making an argument based on authenticity, you'd almost have a point.

I am saying that what you think of as 'likable' is entirely shaped by the perhaps even innocuous editorial choices of the media. So saying the candidate is at fault for 'how they come across' is to ignore that they don't get to control that entirely. You and your buddies watch the Dean speech in real-time but the media guys play the crowd noise (to show how he fires up the crowd even after a disappointing third place finish), and you walk away not saying 'he's done' but 'wow, he still has a lot of support.'

And this isn't something we can apply a simple rule to to construct likability.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:47 AM
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what you think of as 'likable' is entirely shaped by the perhaps even innocuous editorial choices of the media

Yes, and I deny this. We seem to have a difference of opinion. But I still find you likable, so it's all good, Bobala.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:48 AM
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This is what I call "likable." What the problem?

Part of what I've been trying to say is that this is a rare skill - there were a dozen more-or-less viable people running for President this year, and Huck's the only one who can go on Leno and succeed the way he did (maybe Obama, but that case isn't proven yet - he's quite poor in debates). So, unless your claim is that we had 9 unlikable candidates and one likable one - who doesn't belong within 20 miles of the White House - you're repeating largely media-driven narratives. They will turn a simpering fratboy who's afraid of horses into a regular joe and an athletic war hero who could score at will with the laydeez into a stiff loser. Not trustworthy.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:49 AM
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So, unless your claim is that we had 9 unlikable candidates and one likable one

There are three likable candidates: Obama, Huckabee, and McCain.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:51 AM
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When we run the George Clooney/Charles Barkley ticket in 2012, it's going to be roses from sunup to sundown.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:51 AM
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137:I said "negatives", which while not as high as HRC's, are a lot higher than I would expect, and as high as most candidates not named Clinton... Obama negatives 41% last time I checked.

If I knew what the country was ready for I'd get rich on the betting markets. The elite, or the "centrist" wing of the elite i ready for this particular black President.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:52 AM
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Oh, I'm not denying that candidates have differing degrees of "appealing in TV interviews" & having more of it helps. If that's all you're getting at, this post is less maddening, though not especially earth shattering. Huckabee is more appealing in TV interviews than Romney, & Obama more so than Dean. But this doesn't explain other results: Bush is, as far as I'm concerned, less appealing than Gore or Kerry & certainly no more so, but he got many more breaks. I find Hillary Clinton more appealing than Granholm who always completely underwhelmed me. I found her more appealing yesterday than I did in December. This also doesn't explain the crap Edwards took for so much of last year.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:52 AM
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There are three likable candidates: Obama, Huckabee, and McCain.

Way to prove you're just part of the media bent on ignoring the only man who can save America, Dr. Ron Paul.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:52 AM
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140: You betcha.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:52 AM
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no, it's not simple racism--it's a combination of racism and people who share your dumbass view of these things

That and the fact that when someone says Obama's the "identity left" candidate, people like you and bob--both well to the left of me, for gawd's sake--think, in full sincerity, "Hmm, what anodyne thing could that mean?" That's not racism, that's a demographic lack of black people at specific levels and with specific sorts of demographic protection who can work out language issues at various levels in the way that "shrill" for HRC gets quickly coded as sexist. He doesn't have the people. (And you know what? That's fine. Lots of people don't get to be President.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:52 AM
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I'm almost annoyed by this thread, but having two sides who each regard the other as poor, deluded souls is pretty amusing.

You're all lame. Ogged and company are reciting decade-old GOP talking points and everybody else is quoting the archives of The Daily Howler, and the subject at hand is whether or not Hillary Clinton and Al Gore are objectively uncool. Honestly, people, there really are bigger problems with both of these politicians than their woodenness on camera.

At some point I really would like American liberals to earnestly reassess the policies of the Clinton era - the Bill Clinton era. For the last several years I've only seen Democrats engage with the Clinton years to the extent of defending Clinton and Clinton-era Dems from various GOP lines of political attack, and the result has been a startling lack of attention to one of the greatest policy shifts in the history of the Democratic Party. I thought we'd see some of that with this primary season, given that a third Clinton term has been in the offing, but the biggest debate has ended up revolving around the candidates' Theories of Change™, not, you know, the actual changes they'd make.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:53 AM
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141: There are three objectively likable candidates: Obama, Huckabee, and McCain.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:53 AM
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the country doesn't like Obama, so far, as much as the press. Very high negatives

Lower than Hillary's, McCain's, Giuliani's, and Edwards. Or in other words, WTF?


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:53 AM
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But Bush is so likeable! What a buddy. C'mon guys -- doesn't he remind you of the stupid asshole fratboy born into money that we all knew back in college?? Why can't the Democrats find more candidates like that?

Also, how do people dance to hiphop?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:53 AM
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Yes, and I deny this.

So is this your unique superpower, or do we all have it? The 20% of Americans who used to find Bush likable but don't anymore - what changed there? The 20% of Americans who thought Gore won the first debate on Tuesday but thought he lost it on Thursday - did they have it? Was there some weird distortion field that made them not recognize likability one day but then recognize it again two days later?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:53 AM
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Maybe the left could use some frat boy skills too.

Let's hope things aren't that bad.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:54 AM
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Before McCain ran for prez he was famous for being ill-tempered and vicious with anger management issues (and sure, if you tortured me for however long, I'd have them too). But now that he talks to the press on his bus and has good pastry he's a hale fellow well met.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:54 AM
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139: I'm not sure how you can deny this. Narratives are powerful shit. Dean gives a calmer speech and the media can spin it as 'Dean still Presidential' or 'Wind knocked out of Dean campaign', pointing to his calm speech as proof that he didn't get it.

Hell, take the media now. Obama wins by a few percentage points, Huckabee wins by a few more. Hillary is a close third, McCain is a distant fourth. So the media is reporting how Hillary's likability has kept the race close, and how McCain's faltered yet again, right?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:55 AM
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the George Clooney/Charles Barkley ticket

You know what? While Charles Barkley is pretty much the definition of likable, I'm not sure Clooney is all that likable--cool, for sure, and charismatic, but likable, or kind of an asshole?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:55 AM
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156: I'm not sure Clooney is all that likable

... yeah, I think he may be a bit self-satisfied....


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:56 AM
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Did Sir Charles denounce his previously affirmed Republicanism?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:57 AM
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148: Good lord, stras. Are you also going to pop into the next thread about Jessica Biel's ass and tell us there are more important issues? Of course there are. Sometimes we talk about them here. Sometimes we talk about bullshit. This shouldn't be news to you.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:57 AM
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So guys, objectively, is LB more likeable than ogged, or less so? Don't tell me who YOU like better--tell me who AMERICA likes better.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:57 AM
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Did Sir Charles denounce his previously affirmed Republicanism?

Yes. I think he said something like "I used to be a Republican, until they lost their minds."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:58 AM
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154: There we go. The Theory of Pastry makes at least as much sense as some Form of Likability.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:58 AM
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148: We're responding to Ogged's post, which is about 'likability' and media narratives. This stuff is important because it affects the possibility that someone decent ever will get elected. The policy problems with the Clinton administration, while very real, are another discussion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:58 AM
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Likable, and to the extent that he does seem like he might have a streak of asshole in him, it's mostly of the likable kind. America loves a charming asshole, especially when he looks deep into your eyes and twinkles.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:58 AM
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156: See, there you go. Clooney is objectively likable. If you think otherwise, you've just been manipulated by the pro-Brad Pitt media.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:58 AM
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164 to 156.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:59 AM
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First things first - it's Michigander, not Michegonian.
As for Granholm. Her gender actually helped her during her political rise. Her first term she was challenged in the primary by former Governor Jim Blanchard and former Congressman David Bonior. The fact that she was a woman actually played into the narrative of her being a fresh new face.

In the general election she ran against the handpicked successor to the incumbent Governor who by the end of his third term had become fairly unpopular as his brand of Gingrich-era reform conservatism had fallen out of favor - possibly because he had largely run out of unpopular government programs to beat up on. This successor was, almost unbelievably, named Dick Posthumous. Granholm's political appeal has always been that she represents a fresh face, a new voice in MI politics, which has traditionally been dominated by old white guys from business or labor. Attacking her on gender lines would have probably backfired and only served to highlight her opponents weaknesses.

The more interesting question is whether, now that she is no longer a new commodity and is relatively unpopular, she is more open to criticism along gender lines. She has been widely criticized for being an ineffective leader during the recent budget crisis. I'm not sure whether such attacks on leadership capability would have landed so readily on a man.


Posted by: JDS | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:59 AM
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Likable, and to the extent that he does seem like he might have a streak of asshole in him, it's mostly of the likable kind. America loves a charming asshole, especially when he looks deep into your eyes and twinkles.

Ogged never looks into my eyes and twinkles. Sigh.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:00 AM
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Let the record show that as early as 2008, I had doubts about Clooney's likability.

I keep forgetting that most of the commenters here are robots.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:01 AM
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168: I'm gonna amplify that sigh.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:01 AM
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Considering George Clooney likable is a sign of robothood?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:03 AM
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162: Don't underestimate pastry. I'm not kidding. When I worked at CNN in the early 90s (don't judge me), we would battle for who would get to go to the Republican press conferences, etc., because they had so much more money and their food was so much better, and we had neither food nor money.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:03 AM
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So guys, objectively, is LB more likeable than ogged, or less so? Don't tell me who YOU like better--tell me who AMERICA likes better.

Well clearly LB's ability to summarize whatever anyone else has said more cogently and more concisely appeals to the decadent coastal elites, while ogged's occasional attempts to turn this blog into an assfest show him to be a true man of the NASCAR set.

Apo, of course, is worse than Hitler.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:03 AM
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Apo, of course, is worse than Hitler.

In that he is not even a vegetarian.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:06 AM
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Likable John McCain at a Repub fundraiser in 1998 - not reported by his big media buds at the time.

"Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?
Because her father is Janet Reno."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:06 AM
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The New Republic, of all things, appears to have a writer who is a personal friend of Charles Barkley.

This interview from May has completely vanished from the TNR website, but fortunately it was plagiarized by a blog before it went.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:06 AM
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154: McCain took a lot of flak from the Bush people in 2000 for "not having a Presidential temperament."

I lived just across the border in Indiana during her reelection, so I got a lot of the DeVos anti-Granholm ads that were aimed at the GOP-heavy southwest Michigan. DeVos was hammering her for overpromising on bringing the Michigan economy back, with a doubtlessly out-of-context clip of one of her state-of-the-state addresses. I didn't see anything obviously sexist, but I wasn't looking.

DeVos never had a chance, between his strange demeanor, family business scandals and weak platform. Granholm could tread water, point at his flaws and be safe.


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:06 AM
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172: In 2000, Bush had Dove bars and lobster ravioli for the press (Gore of course, had granola or some shit, because he was objectively unlikable). But in 2004, Bush just had hot dogs and chips for the press. I think the premise was that they were already whipped into submission, and wouldn't rebel at that point.

That premise was correct, of course.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:08 AM
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Barkley was never seriously a Republican, he just liked watching people scratch their heads in confusion. And he's since said:

"The word conservative means discriminatory practically. It's a form of political discrimination. What do the Republicans run on? Against gay marriage and for a war that makes no sense. A war that was based on faulty intelligence. That's all they ever talk about. That and immigration. Another discriminatory argument for political gain."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:08 AM
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So, uh, I'm right that Granholm's gender wasn't an issue because she's basically likable? Huh? Huh?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:09 AM
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169: no ogged. *I* like Obama better than Clinton. But half my immediate family disagrees or sees no difference, with a slight gender divide & a very pronounced age divide. Similarly, *I* really think Mike Huckabee actually has folksy charm & seems very earnest & sincere about his crazy beliefs, whereas George W. Bush always seemed like a real prick to me. I really disliked Al Gore in 2000 & really like him now. I really liked John Kerry in 2002, couldn't stand him by early 2003, liked him a lot during the Democratic convention, and finally settled somewhere in the middle after election day. I don't like Bill Clinton very much. I like Howard Dean a lot. I liked Lindsey Graham during the Abu Ghraib hearings and now I fucking hate him. I am softer on McCain than most Democrats but if he gets the nomination I expect this to fade. Some of this is policy related but some of it isn't.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:09 AM
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Granholm could tread water

See, this is what ogged was looking for - the swimming backgrounds of the candidates!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:10 AM
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LB is very likable on this blog, but at UnfoggeDCon2.0 I decided she's not someone I'd want to have a beer with.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:11 AM
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"So, uh, I'm right that Granholm's gender wasn't an issue because she's basically likable? Huh? Huh?"

I bet you don't see race, either.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:11 AM
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the swimming backgrounds of the candidates

Racist.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:11 AM
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183: Snf.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:12 AM
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Do black candidates swim?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:12 AM
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186 appears to be some hybrid between "WTF" and "STFU".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:13 AM
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No, no, it's an attempt to sniff pathetically at having had my true unlikability unmasked.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:14 AM
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You know what, ogged? Now that I think about it, I think you're right. I'm not especially sympathetic to Granholm, but I couldn't blame her for the bad MI economy. She's not GM or Ford.

But she reminds me of a woman that I like and respect: Pat Summitt. (which is weird, 'cause they don't really look or sound all that alike and I don't really know all that much about Summitt.) She didn't automatically turn me off, which I admit I've felt on occasion about HRC.


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:16 AM
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Obama is postracial.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:17 AM
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Apo, of course, is worse than Hitler.

But is he as likable as Hitler? A thousand Nuremberg ralliers say nein!


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:18 AM
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191: I agree, he's the Tiger Woods of politics.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:19 AM
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189- Now that she's crying, I know she's not robotic, so I'll go ahead and have that beer with her.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:19 AM
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Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Blogger!


Posted by: Aposturmführer | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:19 AM
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194: don't fall for it! she's faking!


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:21 AM
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Damn. Katherine's unmasked me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:22 AM
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191: I always think he looks terrible in that picture, like--because of the odd posture--he's carrying extra weight. But most people who like him seem to like the pic.

You know what, ogged? Now that I think about it, I think you're right.

Of course he's broadly right about the existence of charisma and the benefits that accrue to it. Only on this blog would people deny the lessons of four years of high school.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:23 AM
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No matter how good your personal judgment is of people you're actually acquainted with, if you know them only through the media you'd have to be superhuman to not be influenced by the media's slant on them personally.

At the bigtime level your intuitions about people will always be influenced and often controlled by bigtime media people who make it their business to channel people's intuitions. You can argue with facts but not intuitions.

Look at Peggy Noonan -- all intuition, all Republican spin. She actually thinks she's sincere, probably, because the immediate specific intuitions she gets paid for are grounded on deep, personal, uber-intuitions which she really believes in.

Granholm was too small-time to get the full treatment, and her small-time opponent couldn't afford it. Obama is bigtime, and he'll get the full treatment.

(Note: Relying on intuition, the way it's been sold, is usually a bad idea. Even when I was on drugs I came to have doubts about it.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:24 AM
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193 -> 192.

I'm more likable than Hitler because I have a full beard instead of some weak-ass moustachelette.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:28 AM
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193:Last night I tried the Newstalk again, God knows why. Won't make that mistake again. But I heard Keith Olbermann compare Obama to Tiger Woods, and cringed in horror.

150: Spent a while looking for a poll, and failed. I concede everything & whatever, til further notice. I will probably troll some cockjoke thread with new Quinniepac numbers. I don't make things up, but often can't remember where I read them. I blame Petey this time.

New Stirling Newberry this morning. I know the Crew hangs on his every word.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:30 AM
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I tried the Newstalk again

The OldStalk wasn't getting the job done? Stupid restraining orders.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:32 AM
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Clinton is objectively a nag for that video game regulation shit. Hmm, I wonder why she does it then, you'd think a calculating robot would be able to carry out an objective cost-benefit analysis.

Oh yeah.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:33 AM
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Of course he's broadly right about the existence of charisma and the benefits that accrue to it. Only on this blog would people deny the lessons of four years of high school.

That's a very good point. Clearly, if Al Gore were likable, he would have had a successful career, instead of being a big fat loser.

Also: Oh my fucking God, running the USA is not goddamn high school. Lincoln would have been a Columbine-like outcast in high school. Are you sorry he made the Presidency despite debilitating bouts of melancholia?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:34 AM
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200: Come talk to us when it's known far and wide as the `apo beard'


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:34 AM
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204: Melancholia sounds nice, like laudanum.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:36 AM
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why she does it then, you'd think a calculating robot

Robots are only as good as their programmers, and the Scoop pinkos probably sandbagged her.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:38 AM
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202:Should have tried Newspeak. Olbermann, among the best of the MSM, was completely intolerable. Flash graphics with a new bannerslogan every day. Ugh.

I don't have a vote, but if I did have a vote, I'd vote to ban puns and apo.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:38 AM
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"Of course he's broadly right about the existence of charisma and the benefits that accrue to it. Only on this blog would people deny the lessons of four years of high school."

gee, my short version would be: "gender isn't a big problem for female candidates unless they're objectively bitchy."

Granholm is irrelevant to Howley's point in part because so much of the sexist crap about a female PRESIDENT involves their inability to lead the nation in the war because they might get their periods & cry. All of this is less of a problem at the state level.

Odd,it seemed to be just yesterday that ogged was saying that Clinton's display of emotion was going to finish her campaign even though a whole bunch male candidates gotten equally choked up with no ill effects.

A lot of the other things people dislike about Clinton probably stem in part from a calculated effort to innoculate herself from those sorts of attacks. She deserves a lot of this dislike--she could have tried other approaches, they might have worked. Obama's strategy for dealing with the obstacles to electing a black president is much much better. But it's early yet & he's going to face much worse in the general election. If you think what this proves is that being black and female is only an obstacle to the presidency if you're "objectively unlikeable", you're a dumbass. Or trolling your own blog. Maybe a combo.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:39 AM
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This discussion is complicated by the necessary subjectivity of it. I can say that Bush's "fuzzy math" was offensive and unlikable because it was a direct, unambigously scripted lie, and an offensive effort to pile up obfuscations in an area where Gore's math was - in reality - pretty specific, in contrast to Bush's own position.

Further, I can say - honestly - that I perceived Al Gore's sighs in real-time as an appealing expression of appropriate annoyance at a twit.

But in the end, these are all subjective judgments, and hard to usefully debate.

Ogged, however, shows us a potential way out. In 64, he dismisses the idea that the sigh thing could be media-created.

JRoth proposes in 70 that polling - an objective measure - suggests exactly that. Anybody have a response for JRoth? I've read most of the thread and I haven't seen the response.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:39 AM
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ogged was saying that Clinton's display of emotion was going to finish her campaign

I never said any such thing.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:40 AM
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211: quite right. sorry. While I'm issuing retractions, Howley doesn't restrict her post it to presidential candidates with breasts. But I am saying that the dynamic where you just can't win kicks in at the presidential level, not necessarily at the state level.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:43 AM
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Olbermann, among the best of the MSM, was completely intolerable.

Alas, yes. But he did feature Hannity being heckled and O'Reilly making a complete clown of himself.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:46 AM
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209:But it's early yet & he's going to face much worse in the general election.

There is no doubt that Obama will have to endure horrible racist attacks, coded and direct, from the usual suspects, but my theory is that the MSM will atempt to use racism to Obama's benefit. That includes the center-right MSM. When I see any evidence that the Beltway aren't trying to grease the rails for Obama I will change my tune.

One theory is the the moneycons & neo-cons have gotten fed up with the theo-cons, and want an election that discredits & disempowers Dixie for a little while.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:48 AM
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I never said any such thing.

I think I probably said something to that effect, but in all honesty I said it before I'd actually seen the video.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:48 AM
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gee, my short version would be: "gender isn't a big problem for female candidates unless they're objectively bitchy."

Ogged said: My theory (which seems kind of obvious) is that personally likable candidates get all kinds of breaks and personally unlikable ones get none. I don't think I'm that far off in my summary. And while I think someone like the sadly deceased Ann Richards would have had various problems of her own, coded by sex, I think they would have been very different than the ones HRC faces.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:52 AM
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I 'personally liked' Hillary, for the first time I can recall (but self-reported introspection of past emotional states is not reliable), yesterday. She's now the underdog policy wonk candidate, and I love underdog policy wonks. This doesn't mean I plan to vote for her.

By the way, Huckabee is likable but disliked by the press.

This was called out above, but what the fuck? The press loved Huckabee until his candidacy started being serious, and now they only really like him.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 10:53 AM
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the sadly deceased Ann Richards would have had various problems of her own

For instance, Rove's whisper campaign that she was a secret lesbian immediately preceded a drop in the polls for her.

In fairness to Rove, she did wear her hair short.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:00 AM
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210: Just to follow up - there were 5 overnight polls, all of which showed Gore winning the debate, by an average of 10 points.

So: when y'all talk about Gore sighing, are you referring to the debate that people at the time thought he had won? Or are you referring to some other event - a media-constructed debacle in which Gore proved himself an insufferable ass?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:03 AM
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JRoth, this last bit is silly. SomeCallMeTim reports that he was annoyed by the sighing and found it unlikable. This is wholly consistent with any belief at all about who won the debate. Being likable in the debate does not equal winning it.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:06 AM
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I thought Gore won the debates until I saw his firetruck photos.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:07 AM
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SomeCallMeTim reports that he was annoyed by the sighing and found it unlikable.

Good for Tim. JRoth's point stands in the aggregate.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:08 AM
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But focus groups at the time didn't mention the sighs. SMCT may have been annoyed in real time (although I remain skeptical), but it wasn't a common reaction.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:09 AM
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When I watched that debate, I sympathized with Gore's sighing, all the while tearing my hair out whining that he was giving the election away, because other people wouldn't see it my way. From the polls, perhaps I underestimated the public. Luckily the press stepped in to save my prediction.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:09 AM
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I'm sure they'll fix this soon, but it looks as though TPM's trying to take the gay role away from Edwards and give it to Obama (first headline under N'Hampshire Wire).


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:15 AM
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224 describes my experience as well. I liked Gore better, obviously, and thought he won the debate, but I knew he was being unlikable and that it would hurt him.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:16 AM
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Yep, fixed already.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:16 AM
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"Likability" as a criterion has been heavily promoted by the media themselves, and has to be considered media chaff by now. So we're being all meta, mostly talking about "likability" as an abstract force, with the occasional personal anecdote thrown in to increase the confusion. Stevenson, Goldwater, Ford, Carter, and Dole were all likable, and they went 1-for-7. GHW Bush went .500 without being likable.

Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry were portrayable as unlikable, which is where I think the meme came from.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:21 AM
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People were trumpeting Bush's likability at the time but it seemed transparently obvious he was a total prick. It's substantially a media construct [as has been repeated again and again above].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:23 AM
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209: A lot of the other things people dislike about Clinton probably stem in part from a calculated effort to innoculate herself from those sorts of attacks.

Yes. I will submit that Hillary is the most likable person in the world among those who have had a half-hour of national "news" show( Hardball) devoted to her husband's ex-mistress (Gennifer Flowers) accusing her and her husband of tens of political murders.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:25 AM
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I'll add to 217 that I'm now thinking of her as the policy wonk candidate entirely due to media reports of her in-depth answers at Q&A's which don't even provide illustrative quotes for how in-depth she is going, but just repeatedly describe her as knowing these policies extraordinarily well.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:26 AM
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I liked Gore better... but I knew he was being unlikable

See, this is just nonsense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:27 AM
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67: I think it's clear [Bush]'s been suffering from some kind of brain parasite or early-onset Alzheimer's or some other kind of dementia.

We call that alcohol.

And for fuck's sake people. Likeability is not an objective attribute. Don't be idiots. All politicians, especially those who are the frontrunners in a presidential election have some ability to engage with people or they wouldn't get so far in their profession. Even the small time politicians in the still somewhat overtly idealistic political party I used to volunteer for, in the much less media and personality driven Dutch political arena, had that ability to completely charm and be interested in the people they were talking to.

That's what politicians do.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:32 AM
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Ogged, do you mean in 226 that you liked him and the sighing caused you to like him less, or do you mean that you liked him, the sighing had no impact on how you thought of him, but the median voter on your shoulder told you that the behavior was objectively unlikable?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:33 AM
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See, this is just nonsense.

I can't tell if you're denying the existence of anything like "likeability" or charisma on any scale, or just saying that we cannot be sure of the truth of it when mediated (or particularly and specifically mediated) by the press, etc.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:33 AM
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Yeah, Bush's likability, Dole's likability, and above all Giuliani's likability were all media constructs. Even McCain needs a lot of primping to be likable.

Part of it is a willingness to "let your hair down" and "show your real self", with the opposite being, not "unlikability", formality, stiffness, and always staying on message.

The national political media are almost completely worthless, to the point that I don't even completely trust OK people like Yglesias who have to learn to relate to the assholes in the biz.

And as always, the Cossacks work for the Czar.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:33 AM
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I mean the latter, w/d, but formulated more charitably, of course.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:36 AM
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235: I'm saying that thinking you can separate likability from who you personally like in any objectively meaningful way is nonsense: I liked him but I believe that my liking of him was not a reasonable evaluation of his actual objective likability? That's just insanity.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:36 AM
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234 and 237 would be another way to describe the thought process I am describing as insane.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:36 AM
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That's just insanity.

Sure, to a robot.

Look, "likable" is causing a lot of confusion here. I mean it in the sense spaz outlined in 98, which is a skill of self-presentation on camera. You can assess that quite apart (and a lot better than) the kind of personal likability Sifu notes in comment 1.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:37 AM
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Re-reading, I should say that it's not just self-presentation on camera, but that's part of it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:38 AM
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But really, if you think about how easy it would be to make someone who tried to argue that person X was "cool" silly, you'll see why I think this whole discussion is funny. It's very hard to say what cool is or what makes one person cool or another not, but cool is real.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:39 AM
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Now, mercifully, I have to go swim.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:40 AM
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I haven't read the thread, I just popped in to tell LB that she's being crazy.

thinking you can separate likability from who you personally like in any objectively meaningful way is nonsense

Not really. For example: there are all sorts of personalities that I can tolerate but (I know from experience) many other people find grating. If you've ever found yourself saying things like "he's a great guy but he can be off-putting at first..." you know what I'm talking about. More generally: it's common for people to have nonstandard reactions to personalities and to become aware of this fact about themselves. That's all that's needed to make sense of what you're claiming is nonsense.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:40 AM
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: I liked him but I believe that my liking of him was not a reasonable evaluation of his actual objective likability? That's just insanity.

I feel like we do this, often accurately, all of the time: "That guy's a total ass, but I like him for some reason." Or "You'll hate him, but I get along with him." Etc.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:42 AM
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Okay, you have to add in all of my prior criticisms about the mediating effect of media narratives to make it really nonsense. Which it is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:42 AM
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WOOHOO I am timbot!


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:43 AM
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the median voter on your shoulder

Suddenly, I feel a lot better about having a devil on each shoulder.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:43 AM
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cool is real

The fact that he holds this belief is perhaps the most concise statement of what's wrong with Ogged. If you give him a pass on the kidneys.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:43 AM
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Did anyone go to a high school where the class president was cool? Or knew that you could dance to hiphop?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:46 AM
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LB is objectively anti-Arthur Fonzerelli.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:46 AM
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This is wholly consistent with any belief at all about who won the debate. Being likable in the debate does not equal winning it.

So, again, the claim is that people talk about Gore sighing as a way to describe his clear-cut victory in a debate? This makes sense to you?

Were people who called Peyton Manning a "choker" actually referring to his stupendous achievements in the regular season?

"Sighing" wouldn't be a byword for Gore's unlikeability if it were associated with success. But it isn't. People think that Gore acted like an ass in the debate, which was bad for him and good for Bush. The only trouble is that normal people didn't say that they thought that at the time. They did say that they thought that GWB was being a prick, calling Gore a liar repeatedly (needless to say, in every case Bush was the one lying). So where's the talk about how "manifestly" unlikeable GWB was in that debate? Disappeared by the press.

Final note: The first people who mentioned Gore's sighing on TV? Bob Novak, GOP pollster Lutz, and Dick Fucking Cheney. So really, it was hoi polloi who found Gore's sighing problematic.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:49 AM
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This is why "likeability"is weird standard in the first place. Saying "I like that person, but they're not to everybody's taste, and for sure they'd never be most popular guy in class/professor in school/actor in hollywood/motivational speaker" makes a hell of a lot more sense than this weird "I like person X therefore they are by definition likeable!" argument that seems to be going on.

I like Kerry personally, but it was totally, totally obvious to me that he was not inspiring in the kind of way you'd think a President would be. Didn't mean he couldn't have won, but when I saw Obama speak at the convention in 2004 I thought "holy shit that's the President" in a way that didn't happen for anybody else who spoke (Sharpton was pretty great, but, you know). When I heard Kerry speak I was sort of mentally handicapping it, like "okay, he did okay there, that could be good."

It is obviously shaped by the media, but the media are as susceptible to the attention of this kind of person as much as anybody else. "Wow," says Chris Matthews, "Obama/McCain/Bush/Scooter the High School Quarterback wants to be my friend: I'm totally a cool guy like that!" It is a simplistic and unfortunate way for the press to act, but it's not like they invent these things based on a completely private and indecipherable personal impression. They're suckers for stars, just like everybody else in this country.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:49 AM
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cool is real

Which is why y'all believe that a motorcycle-riding war hero who nailed* Morgan Fairchild when she was hott was the uncool one in 2004. Because you, unlike hot actresses, can reliably discern coolness.

* Apologies for this term, but it's most suitable for this argument.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:53 AM
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221: Nice guns on that mayor, btw.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:55 AM
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I think you give Chris Matthews WAY too much credit to think of him as an ordinary guy with ordinary opinions who just happens to have a platform where everyone can listen to him (and he gets paid $X million per year).


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:55 AM
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Just to repeat one point in my longish screed above. We're not really talking about "likability" vs. "unlikability", but some sort of "regular-guy"-ness vs. "always being on message".

The media are cynics, and they like politicians who go off message, maybe signalling that they know that a lot of what they're saying is really bullshit. It gives the press an insider feeling, and motivates them to communicate the candidate's bullshit to the masses. They hate and sabotage people who really seem to believe what they're saying. (They like Paul and Huckabee because they're crazy and entertaining, but if they stay in the race the media will trash them the way they trashed Perot.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:56 AM
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but it's not like they invent these things based on a completely private and indecipherable personal impression.

If you look at pairs of people, yes, yes they do. Either private and indecipherable or bad-faith. Look, I'll agree that there are people with glowing charisma -- Bill Clinton, Obama's got some but not always -- and most people don't have it. But Bush doesn't have anything like that kind of charisma. In our last two elections, Gore and Kerry didn't lose the all important likability test to some radiant charmer, they lost it to Bush. (I'm not claiming that no one could possibly like Bush, just that he's not unusually charismatic for a politician -- if you're not predisposed to be fond of him, 'sniveling little weasel' is the most obvious and natural description.) But the story was Bush=Crazy Likable, Gore/Kerry=So Unappealing. That's invented.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:56 AM
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So it's not possible to think "wow, fora motorcycle-riding war hero who nailed Morgan Fairchild that guy's, well, kind of a dork"?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:56 AM
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JRoth, this is really tangential to the main issue, but "so-and-so made the better argument, but was a dick about it, so I ended up liking the loser of the argument more" describes a common phenomenon. Since I'm not saying anything else that you ascribe to me (ie., that the media's behavior during the 2000 campaign is anything but a lasting blot on our nation), I don't have responses to the rest of your comment.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:56 AM
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We need a mass excorcism of imaginary American voters on people's shoulders. Let's start here, then head for Chuck Schumer's place with pitchforks! (I know where he lives). Who's with me?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 11:59 AM
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but "so-and-so made the better argument, but was a dick about it, so I ended up liking the loser of the argument more" describes a common phenomenon.

Right, but it doesn't describe "won the debate". Gore didn't win polls on debate night saying "Don't tell us what you thought of the candidates personally, just say whose arguments were better founded", he won polls asking about attitudes toward the candidates generally as influenced by debate performance.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:00 PM
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258: he was the fun party time popular frat guy, big time mediatypes always wanted to be that guy, or at least get that guy's approval, because they were just that kind of nerd, which is why they really dig having a job where they get to suck up to those in power. QED. That guy, as big of a dickhead phony as we bookish, unstriving outsiders have always known him to be was big man on campus. Now, there are other types of star, but Bush tapped into a powerful archetype of cool dude, whether we bought it or not.

I'm certainly not saying it's right that 30 or 40 overgrown college dweebs get to set the narrative. I'm just saying it's not at all opaque why they like who they do, and it's an impulse that many (if not most) of us have at one point or another in our lives.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:03 PM
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Speaking of Obama-as-professor, I once went on a date with someone who had taken his Constitutional Law class at the University of Chicago, was quite lefty-oriented, and said he was sad to say that he found the class "unspeakably dull."

So.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:04 PM
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he was the fun party time popular frat guy

The thing is, if you're talking about position in life, who he's been, what he's done, then you're comparing him to the motorcycle-riding actress-dating war-hero again. If you're talking about personal appearance and demeanor, I stick with my 'sniveling little weasel' assessment.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:07 PM
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I mean, listening to Kerry give his speech at the convention -- and I'm not talking about on TV, this was in a giant hall full of committed Democrats -- I just knew that he wasn't that guy, wasn't a rock star, didn't have that thing, and I had these instincts for no other reason than that I went to high school once upon a time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:07 PM
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264: Is it weird that I find this anecdote to be a huge turn-on?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:07 PM
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256: Agreed, times 100. Chris Matthews is a seriously sick puppy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:08 PM
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Sure, sure, blame it on the anecdote, nympho.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:08 PM
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246: Okay, you have to add in all of my prior criticisms about the mediating effect of media narratives to make it really nonsense. Which it is.

While it's really tempting to go with this, the fact is that not *all* things people dislike (i.e. find unlikeable) are the product of media spin. There are still some fairly identifiable behaviors that most people don't like, or that come across negatively. The issue is separating those from ones that are indeed spin-driven. Clinton as "shrill" quite arguably falls into the latter category, something that could just as viably be described as "passionate," say.

Where people want to claim that no, she just *is* unlikeably shrill (at times), they're instead placing the behavior in the former category -- something that one might try to call "objective" unlikeability.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:09 PM
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he was the fun party time popular frat guy

This has always puzzled me: he had supposedly quit drinking alcohol. Who wants to have a beer with that?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:09 PM
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AWB, allow me to regale you with a list of things I find unspeakably dull. Purrrrrr.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:10 PM
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260: w/d, you're not the only one I'm talking to. And, again: the focus groups were asked about how the candidates came across - even about the sighing. Not who had the facts on his side, but who came across better - was more "likeable" you could say. And they did not say what everyone now insists they must have said.

Why is this so fucking hard? We have extensive evidence of what people thought about this event before and after the media mediated it. Is it so desperately important to deny that evidence, lest it show that we're susceptible to media narratives?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:10 PM
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Furthermore! I'm so damned stuffed up and sneezing that I had to correct like 40 typos in the above and I don't care any more how you spell "likeable."


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:10 PM
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266: I'm not saying Kerry is a rock star. I'm saying you can't explain the press's reaction to him as opposed to Bush with that because Bush isn't a rock star either -- can you imagine Bush delivering a barn-burner. That was an election without a rock star, and yet the press reported it as if Bush had some ineffable quality Kerry didn't, which is nonsense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:10 PM
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267: Who are you turned on by? Me, my date, or Barack Obama?


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:11 PM
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Look, I don't think I can plausibly argue this for Bush, because I've hated him so thoroughly for so long it's really difficult to get outside of that. But shit, I fucking couldn't stand Reagan, either, thought he came off just totally insufferably disingenuous, and they guy is beloved by large (deluded) chunks of the population, and I understand why.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:11 PM
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I'm just saying, someone who can teach an unspeakably dull class is one of two types of people. Type A is the one that doesn't care about the material and wishes he was anywhere else. Type B is the one that is so so obsessed with the details of the material that they have no idea what it would be like to find the material boring.

When I get bad evaluations, they are Type B accusations, and maybe I'm just projecting that this is Obama's problem w/r/t constitutional law.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:11 PM
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Where people want to claim that no, she just *is* unlikeably shrill (at times), they're instead placing the behavior in the former category -- something that one might try to call "objective" unlikeability.

That's Ogged's belief. I'm denying that this is reliably possible when all of your information is selected by the media.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:12 PM
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I'm just saying it's not at all opaque why they like who they do, and it's an impulse that many (if not most) of us have at one point or another in our lives.

Jesus, Sifu, speak for yourself. I've always had trouble staying in the same room with those shits.

One of Bush's specialties as a fratboy was that he was one of the frat guys who was already there, rather than one of the aspirational guys. He held the keys, and people let him humiliate them to get let in.

Same thing I said about club membership. There are enormous real benefits that come by being invited to the Bush clubhouse -- literally millions of dollars.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:12 PM
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263: I'm just saying it's not at all opaque why they like who they do

Agree, as long as you include some component of the degree to which the person's politics/message align with big media's. Take John Edwards as an example—what is his "likability" as a Dem compared to if he were a corporatist Republican candidate?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:12 PM
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277: Still, you had reports of Reagan mesmerizing audiences. No one even ever claimed that Bush was charismatic in the sense that he was a compelling speaker.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:13 PM
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266: Oh, no way is the guy Obama/Jesse Jackson/MLK (shit, need a white guy)/William Jennings Bryan on the stump. I don't think anyone here is saying that speechifying is the crux of this discussion.

Although, again: could any objective viewer, in a million years, prefer a Bush speech? The first time I knew this country was fucked post-9/11 was when people raved about his national address a couple days later. The guy couldn't out-speech an incontinent 3rd grader with a hare lip.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:16 PM
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275: well, okay, I'll agree with that. They wanted a rock star, and having failed to get that, built up the nearest simulacrum (which is to say, the one with the coolest costumes); "aw, ma, I wanted Harrison Ford and you got me Gil Gerard. Oh well, Twiki lights up!"

Still, I really think that Doonesbury from John Kerry's time at Yale was evocative; Garry Trudeau picked up exactly the same vibe (of trying too hard) that the media latched on to thirty years later. He's always given off that sense. Say what you will about GWB (please!) but he's certainly never tried too hard.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:16 PM
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Well, I do agree with Sifu that one hasn't seen man-crushes until one sees adult geeks being proffered tiny tendrils of friendship/acceptance by the bluff and hearty types.

It's just hard for me to sort out who gets man-crushes and who gets "I will destroy you because you were mean to me in high school" -- another phenomenon.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:16 PM
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Take John Edwards as an example--what is his "likability" as a Dem compared to if he were a corporatist Republican candidate?

If John Edwards had Lindsey Graham's politics, he would need to carry a box with him at all times to obscure Chris Matthews attached to his cock.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:18 PM
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One of Bush's specialties as a fratboy was that he was one of the frat guys who was already there, rather than one of the aspirational guys. He held the keys, and people let him humiliate them to get let in.

Absolutely key.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:19 PM
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It's just hard for me to sort out who gets man-crushes and who gets "I will destroy you because you were mean to me in high school" -- another phenomenon.

If any weakness is shown, the victims will turn. But the son of the President of the US doesn't have to worry.


BTW I just realized that HTML here corrects for you if you hold the shift bar down and type "I" and "?I" inside the carets. I think.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:20 PM
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Doonesbury from John Kerry's time at Yale

Those were really funny. Look this is an impossible discussion. Of course Kerry, and Gore before him, had personal flaws that made them less than perfectly appealing. To the extent that I look like I'm denying that, I'm not -- that would be insane. The 'invention' of likability narratives is about the comparative treatment of different candidates.

Give me (or someone like me but with actual media skills) control of one of the networks' campaign coverage and I guarantee to you I could make Obama look like a sad, sorry sonofabitch and Hillary look effortlessly dominant, and I wouldn't have to flatout lie much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:21 PM
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279: I'm not exactly sure what this argument is about, but not all our information is filtered. We somehow managed to divine that Bush is a sniveling little weasel (or a towel-snapper, in Al Franken's words) while the media was still gushing.
Slightly OT, but since JRoth brought it up in 283, does anyone else think that "I can hear you" moment at ground zero was completely staged?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:22 PM
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Major Republican Senators much more fey than Edwards get no shit to speak of. Sen. McConnell of Kentucky looks like The Church Lady with a man's haircut.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:22 PM
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290: I'm sure, and it may have been documented.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:24 PM
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Not buying that counterfactual, LB. You think nobody's trying to do that? It's a little village, but it's not a monoculture.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:24 PM
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Sen. McConnell of Kentucky

That prissy, no-lipped smirk of his makes me want to take his lunch money.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:24 PM
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Give me (or someone like me but with actual media skills) control of one of the networks' campaign coverage and I guarantee to you I could make Obama look like a sad, sorry sonofabitch and Hillary look effortlessly dominant, and I wouldn't have to flatout lie much.

Maybe, but I doubt you could do it for a long time. As Sifu says, it's not just one institution. As people endlessly point out, BJC left office as a really popular President. Which means either the media liked him or it doesn't control perception all that fully.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:28 PM
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293: This experiment will be performed. Clinton, the Republicans, and various media people are already working on it. We will know the answer come November.

I suggest a real bet, perhaps LB's favorite child against Sifu's bong. Seriously.

One caveat: there are rumors that Murdoch is ditching the Republicans. (Why shouldn't he?) The rumor has him supporting Clinton, so we should see some Obama slime during the primaries. During the general it will be very interesting to watch how he handle Obama if he's the candidate.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:28 PM
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Obama lost a Congressional primary in 2000 by the margin of 60-31.

That other guy must have been so likable -- lovable, maybe.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:30 PM
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290: Really? I remember looking for documentation at the time and finding nothing, but my google-fu is not strong enough to cut through all the earnest reportage and recollections.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:31 PM
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You think nobody's trying to do that? It's a little village, but it's not a monoculture.

No, but pretty often most of it gets lined up in the same direction (whether through bad-faith service to political goals, or small-group social pressure of the sort Ogged's trying to exert here by calling us robots for not accepting that Clinton's objectively unlikable), and that's what we're talking about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:34 PM
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Yes, Barbar, it couldn't have had anything to do with conditions on the ground, a money advantage, support of the Democratic machine in a Chicago congressional district, retail campaigning, or a history of legislative favors delivered by somebody upticket. I am making exactly that point, that nothing (besides "likability") ever matters in any election ever. Thank you for clarifying for me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:34 PM
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Seriously, we'll probably have a chance to see, soon enough. It's not a sure thing that the media will unite against Obama the way they united against Gore and Kerry, but if they do we'll see how well it works.

Though, thank God, with the blogosphere, Olbermann, Air America, and a few other things, the media world is somewhat improved over even four years ago.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:38 PM
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It's a little village, but it's not a monoculture.

Pretty goddamn close. Show me the major league press from 1998 calling the impeachment a farce and a major tactical error for the Rs. Show me the articles about how Whitewater was a witch hunt. They didn't get written (except in tertiary outlets, of course; God bless Gene Lyons) or broadcast, even though that would have been both factual and contrarian. There were a few semi-regular guests on Hardball who would defend Gore; semi-regular no more.

Why was Phil Donohue fired? For fear of corrupting the monoculture. C'mon, Sifu, you know this stuff. Certainly there isn't unanimity on every narrative, but the idea that unanimity is unlikely, much less impossible, is absurd.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:41 PM
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289: Right, we're not denying the concept of charisma - just acknowledging how the media shapes that concept for the unwary.

LB is wondering if ogged can be so clueless as to not get that point, but in 64 he reveals, by his selection of anecdata, that he really doesn't grasp it at all.

I'm still waiting for someone to engage JRoth's point on the matter of sighing.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:41 PM
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300: How do you think voters in that election generally perceived Obama? As a super-likable candidate with a promising message of change (but unfortunate "ground conditions" and a "money disadvantage") or as an out-of-touch egghead who thought he was better than the hoi polloi?

Money disadvantage and bad conditions on the ground = less likability. Seriously. This is like thinking if only Al Gore wasn't so stiff, he might have made something of himself, instead of being a nobody Senator/Vice President who ate cheetos and sat on the couch all day.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:43 PM
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Right, we're not denying the concept of charisma - just acknowledging how the media shapes that concept for the unwary.

It's fortunate we have the clear-eyed among us who are not swayed from their instinctive march towards the Truth.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:43 PM
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What JRoth said.

I might add: who opposed NAFTA, etc., or the rest of "free trade". (A real question, but my guess is, very few.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:46 PM
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Likable.

As Giuliani and his entourage were walking to leave, the Huckabee media scrum arrived. The former New York City mayor sauntered over to say hello and wish Huckabee good luck.

"May I have your vote today?," Huckabee joked, his wife Janet at his side.

"I don't think either one of us is voting today," said Giuliani.

Huckabee quipped back: "Same day registration."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:49 PM
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their instinctive march

Tim, we're not claiming to have a better sense of who's really likable than all you guys, we're claiming that given the media realities, everyone's instincts are for shit in this regard and we should go back to reading position papers and analyzing stump speeches for substance.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:50 PM
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How do you think voters in that election generally perceived Obama?

I'm gonna guess that they didn't generally perceive him.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:50 PM
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306: Or who pointed out that we went to war with Saddam because he wouldn't disarm after he agreed to disarm.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:50 PM
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Look, the GOP has been working the refs, obviously. But the reason they've been able to work the refs is they've figured out the game. It's not like they go tell Chris Matthews who to support. They've figured out what Chris Matthews likes -- and it's easy, because he's not too bright and not too popular and likes what needy kids like him always like, which is to say the cool, popular kids -- and they give him as near a simulacrum as they can, because they know how he'll react. This is a game Democrats need to play, and not just because the press reacts this way; this is how you deal with semi-hegemonic national media figures, and they aren't going away anytime soon, no matter how delightfully insurgent we blogging youth might be. It's all well and good to say that everybody should be able to make up their own minds about Hillary Clinton and it's feeding the machine to point out that -- given the social and media structures in place in this country, sure -- most people probably won't, but the machine's there, whether you acknowledge it or not.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:51 PM
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but the machine's there, whether you acknowledge it or not.

You think we're denying the machine's there? Um, no. If we're agreed that 'likability' isn't some ineffable quality that the median voter is perceiving without assistance from the efforts of the machine, we're not too far apart.

(I do think you're hopelessly naive about the machine's output being shaped purely by the poor dears' personal reaction to candidates, but I can't see how to talk you out of it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:55 PM
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It's fortunate we have the clear-eyed among us who are not swayed from their instinctive march towards the Truth.

Not sure where this comes from. It's you and ogged who profess to have identified objective likability, not me. Remember, I've already said that I must know nothing, since, in comment 3, I confessed to finding Hillary both likable and attractive.

I did suggest that ogged erred when he selected in comment 60 an example where the objective evidence, such as it is, argues the other way. Tactically, he would have been better off taking your approach and engaging in non sequiter and baseless ad hominem rather than trying to substantively defend his beliefs.

I'm still waiting for someone to engage JRoth's point, first described in 70, then in 219 and elsewhere, about how the media determined the perception of Gore's "sighing". Why not take a crack at it, SCMT, instead of engaging in nonresponsive snark?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:56 PM
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In case anybody was thinking that the point I'm arguing in this thread contradicts my opinions on electability: it totally doesn't. Not to worry.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:57 PM
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re: 310

The really brave person would have pointed out that you/we didn't have the right to insist he disarm at all.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:57 PM
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Chris Matthews is a player, not a dupe. He's not a Republican -- he count as "liberal media", and the Freepers absolutely hate him. But he has his own game, Hillary-hating and man-crushes being a big part of it, and being a contrarian Democrat being a big part of it.

The Cossacks work for the Czar, and this is far truer of the American media than it was of the actual Cossacks. Matthews plays the obligato "Democrat" part the way he's expected to play it, as a contrarian ex-Democrat.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 12:58 PM
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Enough with the likability. Which candidate is most lickable?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:00 PM
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309: Obama ran against a congressional lifer in the primary, perhaps even for the purest of progressive reasons for all I know (I lived in Schakowsky's district at the time). But, as noted above in other contexts, getting slapped with the keener/striver label is the kiss of death. The reaction was more or less "Who the fuck does he think he is?"


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:00 PM
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(I do think you're hopelessly naive about the machine's output being shaped purely by the poor dears' personal reaction to candidates, but I can't see how to talk you out of it.)

I think the machine's output is shaped by the poor dear's personal reaction to images of candidates that are finessed endlessly by devious political operatives, but they're finessing with a goal in mind, and that goal, what they're trying to make their candidates seem to be to the self-important knuckleheads who are the opinion-makers, is intuitively understandable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:01 PM
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316: Matthews is just straight-up odd. I still have not fully recovered from his rambling song of praise to Teresa Heinz's beauty . . . so like a European film star . . . Anouk Aimée . . . Jeanne Moreau . . . Claudia Cardinale . . .


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:02 PM
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So is everybody else in this thread misspelling "likeability", or is it me? I'm going with all of you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:03 PM
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The problem, dear Ogged, you dunderhead, is that what determines "likeability" has a lot to do with things like sexism, racism, etc. Duh.

In short, you're completely begging the question.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:03 PM
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For stras, some important news:

Goose Gossage is in the Hall of Fame, and McGwire apparently got 1 more vote than he did last year. Racists, no doubt.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:04 PM
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321: I've been in both camps on the spelling, and have no idea which is right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:05 PM
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I saw someone (a blogger type, not MSM) comparing Michelle Obama and/or Elizabeth Edwards favorably to THeinz, as if it were trivially true that Teresa was unlikable. I think she's awesome, and not just because she sent my family an eggnog cake for Xmas this year.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:06 PM
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324: Me too.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:06 PM
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324: Both are acceptable. Is there an Mineshaft style sheet?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:06 PM
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The internet argues that I'm wrong. The internet is objectively unlikeable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:06 PM
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"an Mineshaft style sheet" -- surely I ought not to be in charge of it.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:07 PM
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317: Arguably, there has been no truly lickable American policymaker since Paul Wolfowitz, who sponged himself clean with his tongue each morning.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:11 PM
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311: This is a game Democrats need to play, and not just because the press reacts this way; this is how you deal with semi-hegemonic national media figures, and they aren't going away anytime soon, no matter how delightfully insurgent we blogging youth might be.

This is a conundrum, but the first rule of breaking out of a disadvantageous meta-game is to talk about being in a disadvantageous meta-game, not necessarily to join in the game on the existing terms. It will be a long process.

My unexpectedly deep depression these last few days appears to stem from my feeling that the deep narratives of corporatist hegemony have won another round, no matter how "inspirational" Obama may seem right now. And it has nothing to do with Obama himself, just the way the whole thing is going down—and the way so much of the "liberal" blogosphere has played along.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:11 PM
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talk about being in a disadvantageous meta-game, not necessarily to join in the game on the existing terms

Right. Saying "If we're just smart enough to pick a candidate who's really really appealing, the media will finally love them" is a chump's game. It's not about who's really personally appealing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:13 PM
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It's a chump's game unless it's true. Jury's still out on that by my lights.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:15 PM
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I was impressed by Theresa, though I feared that she wouldn't be right for the electorate. At the same time, a less-lame Democratic Party could have packaged her infinitely better (though people say that she was too patrician to cooperate, along with not letting her boytoy spend her Republican money).

Anecdote: My then-Republican father couldn't stand Jacky Kennedy in 1960 and predicted that she would be a big detriment to the campaign. Obviously he couldn't have been more worng -- but the Democrats (with lots of media help) did have to do a selling job on her. There were many possible worlds where my father would have been right, just not the one which became actual.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:16 PM
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Given, obviously, that we also have to work the refs, create our own media, fight as hard as we can, etc. But there's a difference between saying "it's not the whole story" and saying "it's a fiction, created whole cloth by the media". I would argue that the latter is the real wishful thinking.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:17 PM
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334: I can tell you for sure that Theresa had a lot of trouble playing ball with her handlers. I wouldn't have ascribed it to being patrician, just independent-minded, but she definitely wasn't interested in working off of anybody else's program.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:18 PM
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The alternative is to let Goebbels guide us, replacing "democratic system/methods" in the following quote with some appropriate descriptor of the current corporate media star system.

When democracy granted democratic methods for us in the times of opposition, this was bound to happen in a democratic system. However, we National Socialists never asserted that we represented a democratic point of view, but we have declared openly that we used democratic methods only in order to gain the power and that, after assuming the power, we would deny to our adversaries without any consideration the means which were granted to us in the times of opposition.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:19 PM
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no truly lickable American policymaker

I guess a Press Secretary doesn't really count as a policymaker, but I'd totally lick Dana Perino.

Now B is going to chime in that my notions of lickability are just byproducts of sexism, isn't she?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:20 PM
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JP you're not trying to make an utterly disingenuous Nazi analogy by any chance, are you?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:22 PM
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Was Dick Morris licker or lickee?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:22 PM
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"it's not the whole story"

The problem with this is that it gets told as the whole story. It's not "Some people like Kerry and find Bush offputting, some feel the reverse -- how many are in each category? Polls suggest X." Stuff like what Ogged keeps on writing, and like half of what comes out in the media ("Candidate X really is [creepy/cold/weak/unlikable/untrustworthy], and if you can't see it or disagree, there's something wrong with you, robot. Shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up.") suggests that they have objective access to the TRUTH about the right subjective judgment to make about the candidates, and that's crap.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:23 PM
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You know, the Iowa caucuses themselves were pretty great. Come on people, think about the turnout numbers. The press reaction has been extremely depressing. But I almost can't imagine the press NOT reacting in a way that wasn't extremely depressing, to any outcome.


Posted by: Katherien | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:24 PM
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think about the turnout numbers

NH towns are running out of Democratic ballots.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:25 PM
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Yeah I absolutely love love love the turnout story.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:26 PM
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I'm not claiming access to objective truth, I'm claiming that you can tell how something is "going to play." That means with the public, and it also means with the press (which is why the Gore sighing polling isn't a refutation of anything I've said). This is also Sifu's point, as I understand it: there is a quality (that I'm calling likability, which isn't the same as charisma or coolness, but is similar to them) that affects how a candidate is covered but also affects how a candidate is perceived by the public, even apart from coverage. Parsimon's 270 is also helpful. The response that all these impressions are mediated just isn't to the point: it's the mediated impression that I'm judging. For all I know, Mike Huckabee skins children alive. He's still likable.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:29 PM
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Was Dick Morris licker or lickee?

The only person who stays on message better than Rudy is Dick Morris.

What is weather like, Dick?

[insert diatribe about the Clintons]


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:30 PM
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It is happy and cheerful. For a note of sunshine, regardless of which Democrat gets elected and what their policy flaws are, isn't it nice thinking about a generation of enthusiastic leftists readying themselves to move into public service? If everyone whoever the next president is can find to work for them is right-thinking, that'll do some good regardless of the policies coming down from the top.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:30 PM
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339:

Believe it or not (I'm relying on my likability), I really was not consciously trying to tar the idea with "ZOMG Nazi!"*. That Goebbels quote has always appealed to me as about the purest expression of working within one system to gain the means to destroy that system.

But, of course I did enjoy the idea of turning it on its head.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:31 PM
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Just an anecdote, I have never liked any politician as much as I liked Kerry watching him in the first presidential debate.

It was partially that he satisfied so obvious a need. I went to sleep that night thinking, "it will be so nice to have an adult as president." I remember the "global test" line seeming awkward at the time but, in general, I thought it was the strongest moment of contrast I'd seen between a reasonable adult perspective, and a complete blithering idiot.

That said, ogged is right that "cool" can't be defined, but some people have it and some people don't. Of course, having said that I am reminded of Jules Feifer's line that (paraphrasing) "we are obsessed with what we call 'charisma' by which we mean sexual energy." He went on to say, in an unfortunately unforgettable image that LBJ had "cock thumping on the oval office desk" sexual energy.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:31 PM
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Also unless things turn really ugly (which I don't think will work), & assuming Mark Penn goes, "Hillary Clinton guts it out, improves her campaign says to hell with the media, gets a rush of support from women frustrated by the unfair attacks & comes from behind to win it in the most populous states" is also a far better story for me than "Hope, Schmope: The inevitable triumph of the the inevitable candidate"


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:31 PM
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The response that all these impressions are mediated just isn't to the point: it's the mediated impression that I'm judging.

You recognize that this impression is not under the control of the candidates, then. That selecting different, more likeable candidates, or changing their tactics can have only a limited effect on the outcomes.

At which point isn't the political goal to do everything you can to diminish the importance of the mediated impression, rather than slavishly repeating it as if it were gospel?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:32 PM
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Huh. So you were really referring to him in his role as a shrewd political tactician, rather than his role as a shrewd political tactician for the Nazis? On re-reading, you crazy person, I see what you were getting at.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:33 PM
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Now B is going to chime in that my notions of lickability are just byproducts of sexism, isn't she?

No, I'm going to say that your cock is completely overriding your brain, man. Ewwwwwwwwww.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:34 PM
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349: all the evidence suggests that LBJ had, and was, a really big cock.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:34 PM
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I personally think that the qualities in a (Democratic; I don't vote for Republicans) candidate most likely to gain them benefit from the mediated media messaging machine are also qualities likely to be tremendously useful in an actual President, so in that sense woo-hoo! The System works!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:34 PM
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This isn't a 100% vs. 0% question, but I think that Sifu and Ogged vastly overestimate the reality of the phenomenon.

Note that the very idea that likeability should be an important criterion was a press creation. Sure, it was always a factor, but when it went meta in the press that was a new twist, and then when it went meta one more time and the dolts in the media started squealing about their own mancrushes (and Matthews reall does squeal), it became totally insane and toxic.

And one criterion of likeability, maybe the main one, was "not taking yourself too seriously", and not boring the media with policy questions, and letting the media in on the joke and pretending to kiss their asses, and letting them into the fraternity. And this is just horrible; the people who are supposed to help the voters understand the election have refused to do so and have shoveled out chaff instead, favoring the worse candidates against the better.

So I'd score this one something like Other Side 90, Sifu-Ogged 10.

(Historical note: the media called Bush a "popular president" even after his approval ratings fell below 40. Only when it reached about 35 did they quit.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:35 PM
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So Ogged is speaking the inconvenient truth, and LB's utterances, like Kristol's, are all mediated by ideology?

I love trolling. Ok, off to Protein Wisdom for a bit.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:36 PM
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all the evidence suggests that LBJ had, and was, a really big cock.

So the question is, does that make him "likable" in the American political system. If the answer is "yes" it makes me feel like we're in "angry ape" territory.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:37 PM
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I personally think that the qualities in a (Democratic; I don't vote for Republicans) candidate most likely to gain them benefit from the mediated media messaging machine are also qualities likely to be tremendously useful in an actual President, so in that sense woo-hoo! The System works!

Yeah. I've said this before, but Bill Clinton was up against a pretty hard biological limit on how much charisma the human body can contain -- more than that, and the radiation from the spontaneous nuclear fusion in your liver kills you. And it didn't get him much of anywhere as President -- the Republican Congress had him shut down and running in circles for eight years. I'm not counting on charisma to save anything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:38 PM
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See, here's the thing: Clinton genuinely is likeable. I genuinely like her. I've always liked her. You've seen me wrapping myself in knots for months now, trying to talk myself into voting for her. Bush is supposedly likeable, but he's a sneering, smug, frat boy and I want to slap the shit out of him.

I mean, fine--you don't like Clinton. But that doesn't mean that she's *objectively* unlikeable, especially when you've got clear evidence that a lot of people do, in fact, like her.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:38 PM
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You recognize that this impression is not under the control of the candidates, then.

Nothing is under anyone's control; I don't know what that gets you. By saying "mediated impression" I'm acknowledging that I have no personal knowledge of these people and I'm not claiming anything about them as people in their lives; I'm judging, mostly, what appears on my screen. What I see is affected by camera angles and lenses and zoom and all that; it's mediated, but it's also not simply what the press feeds me, there's an impression there that I react to and judge.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:38 PM
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I should mention, again, that I'm not really talking about "likeability". I'm talking about whatever it is that gets tens of thousands of people to Obama rallies, which for all I know is sexual energy. Calling it "likeability" completely confuses things, and allows for e.g. 356.3, which really has absolutely nothing to do with the qualities I'm talking about, the posters on Matthews's bedroom ceiling nonwithstanding.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:39 PM
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I agree with LizardBreath and JP Stormcrow, and offer a small contribution to the pile:

When the mass media use terms like "likeability", we do well to treat them as random assortments of sounds being used as placeholders. Terms like "likeable", "commanding", "diplomatic", and the like, in media usage, all refer to media and opinion-gatekeeper approval of qualities they're not naming. They're like the terms used to describe properties of quarks - quarks are not flavorful or charming or strange, but the properties they do possess have no analogue in the world at our scale, so the words just serve to say "this quality, not that one". The political commentary game is fundamentally disconnected from the basic realities of life for the vast majority of Americans and the overwhelming majority of the rest of the world, and its language is calculated to deceive. All of the words that refer to personal qualities mean "we want you to think this candidate has that quality", for reasons seldom if ever explained in an honest manner. There's little any of us can do directly about it, but we can at least recognize that what the pundits mean by "likeable" is as alien to what most of us mean as the thing that physicists call "flavor" in quarks.

Ogged, you're a sucker. You've bought into a comfortable mythology about the independence of your viewpoint, regarding yourself as set free from a whole bunch of cultural constraints. But your refusal to engage in some basic self-skepticism makes you one of the handiest kinds of tools around. All of us are suckers in various ways, but this particular mistake is one you could stop repeating any time and move onto something a little more challenging.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:40 PM
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Note that the very idea that likeability should be an important criterion was a press creation

If by "press" you mean "anyone who has written about politics since the time of Demosthenes," you might have a point.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:40 PM
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At the same time, a less-lame Democratic Party could have packaged her infinitely better

This observation is not original to me (and I can't remember from whom I have cribbed it), but ain't it ironic that the liberals dominate the creative sector (Hollywood and whatnot), and yet the Dems have utterly failed to capitalize on that advantage in terms of innovative ways of selling our candidates? LBJ's "Daisy" ad in 1964 was shockingly groundbreaking for its time, and that might have been the last time the Dems were the innovator in any successful top-down media tactic.

The successful Republican counterattack against the moveon-sponsored make-your-own-ad contest in '04 has probably frightened the party elders away from any kind of "Let a 1,000 flowers bloom" style actions that might harness some of that latent creative talent.

BTW, Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) is totally lickable in my book.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:42 PM
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You know who would love LBJ? Chris Matthews.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:43 PM
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Meh, you're all welcome to take the hard pomo line that nothing is real and all is text and text is interpretation and throw in that the press does all the interpreting...whatever. I'm not invested in convincing you, since the world refutes you every day. Robots.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:43 PM
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I think this debate needs more Slate. I'm not finding anything from Kaus, but this from Weisberg on Obama and McCain's appeal is good. And it shows how many dimensions this process of appealing to people, to journalists, to power players can have.

He seems almost suspicious of charisma, afraid that he will be cast in the stereotypical role of the powerful black orator, or that people will respond to him because of his style rather than his substance. There is little virtuosity in most of his appearances.

Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:44 PM
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Ogged, you are such a spoiled brat. Your poor mother.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:45 PM
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I would buy 363 if my first impression of Obama hadn't been formed in person, absent any media manipulation besides that inherent in seeing somebody speak at a national political convention. Am I so conditioned by the media landscape that my own, personal, spontaneous reactions to a politician are created by the media? I suppose it's possible, but if that's what we're talking about then what kind of crazy post-modern analysis are we up to in this thread? Labs, have a cite?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:45 PM
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Nothing is under anyone's control; I don't know what that gets you

It gets me to that we can't win an election by picking a candidate who will make a good impression, because neither the candidate's personal qualities nor their actions determine the nature of the impression they make on that level. At that point, given that we don't control the media actors who do control the impressions that the candidates make, doesn't it make sense to put some effort into working to minimize the effect of this sort of irrational impression, rather than talking it up as the mark of inevitability?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:46 PM
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Pwned by ogged on the Pomo and Labs on the Labs: what an honor!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:47 PM
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342: Come on people, think about the turnout numbers.

You are absolutely right, of course. it is looking great! Personally, I'm just working my way through this unexpected gut-level rage I have felt the last few days (and thanks various football teams for helping ... not).

There is also some not very salutary "Don't Get Fooled Again" element in my reaction. Any political optimism dredges up painful memories.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:47 PM
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As far as personal observations go: I've really warmed to Sen. Clinton as an individual over the years. Part of it is that I think she's gotten more comfortable being in the spotlight a lot, and certainly a lot of it is my changing perception of her. She and her husband really don't get nearly enough credit for having raised a daughter who turned out really well, in the midst of stresses and assaults I can barely imagine, and I think that doing that is itself testimony to a whole lot of good characteristics. If she had better judgment in policy matters, I'd use that personal side as a tie-breaking consideration, since I think a lot of being president is precisely about making good decisions when the world's being urgently stupid and mean.

In the meantime, I'm loving the turnout stories. I think a more engaged public is just plain a good deal, particularly when it's my side of the public. :)


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:48 PM
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370: So your reaction to Obama is in some sense (correcting for formal public event) a personal one. But most people don't have even that minimal level of personal contact to go on, and are getting their 'personal impressions' solely through the media.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:48 PM
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345: That means with the public, and it also means with the press

But can you separate those two, and call them equal? If the public has one reaction (Gore wins), then the media reacts (Gore=prick), then the public changes (hey, Gore is a prick!), then isn't that the whole point here? That the impressions people have about public figures get shaped (unavoidably, at least to some extent) by how the media choose to play things?


Posted by: Sharkey | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:49 PM
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Any political optimism dredges up painful memories.

Is this why we need the kids, or what? Transformational political decisions and memories of decades of painful failure do not coëxist well.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:49 PM
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Fucking HTML. (Incidentally, Microsoft spells it "likability".)

The very idea that likability should be important was a meme originated by the media. Sure, it always was of some importance, but when they went meta with it and made it an official topic, and then when they started introducing their squealing mancrushes (Matthews really does squeal) that made things worse still.

These are the same people who called Bush a "popular president" even when his approval rating was in the low 40s.

One of their main criteria for likability is not being to serious about the issues. Isn't that horrible? And a second one is buttering up the press and being likable to the press.

And we experience the candidate almost entirely through the media, and their coloring the message horrible.

I score this one Everyone Else 90, Sifu-Ogged 10, and only if you grant Sifu-Ogged a rather strawmannish opponent.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:49 PM
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You know who would love LBJ? Chris Matthews.

Wikipedia says he supported Goldwater in 1964 before becoming a staffer to Democratic members of Congress.

But your point may nevertheless be right w/r/t Matthew's adult personality.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:49 PM
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There is also some not very salutary "Don't Get Fooled Again" element in my reaction. Any political optimism dredges up painful memories.

Heh. Sitting around a bar with Unfogged people on Election night 2006 was like this -- "We're going to lose, this is going to be ugly, there are so many ways this could go wrong..."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:50 PM
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Dems have utterly failed to capitalize on that advantage

The Clintons were very good at it in the beginning. Harry Thomason and Susan Bloodworth-Thomason produced A Man from Hope and Designing Women before it.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:50 PM
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Stuff like what Ogged keeps on writing, and like half of what comes out in the media ("Candidate X really is [creepy/cold/weak/unlikable/untrustworthy], and if you can't see it or disagree, there's something wrong with you, robot. Shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up.") suggests that they have objective access to the TRUTH about the right subjective judgment to make about the candidates, and that's crap.

I don't buy it. Yes, you can't make a statement of the sort "Everyone should find George Bush more personally likeable than John Kerry", but it's not at all hard to make a statement of the sort "most Americans would find George Bush's personality more likeable than that of John Kerry", and have it be completely true.

I've got very little use for frat boys and hate George Bush's politics of incompetence and corruption, but even I find that Bush seems like a more likeable guy than Kerry. Riding motorcycles does not make one cool. Tottering around on a Ducati makes you a rich douchebag. Going along with descriptions of yourself as a "war hero" because you got one of 25,000 Silver Stars given out in Vietnam makes you a self-aggrandizing prick. Being of high social class is questionable.

Bush, on the other hand, didn't want to get shot in Vietnam (understandable!) so he got his daddy to pull strings (lucky bastard) so he could fly fighter jets (cool!). He drank a ton and did a lot of coke, then realized it was causing problems, and stopped. He got cushy jobs and bumbled his way to something vaguely resembling success, which isn't going to get him canonized or anything, but is nice work if you can get it. His politics suck ass, and after 8 years of him as president I have a lot of horrible things to say about him, but at the time saying he was more "likeable" than Kerry seems pretty damn accurate to me.

I think this is a case where Unfoggedetariat being largely composed of those who are in or on track to end up in the 98th percentile of Americans by educational attainment leads to mistaken conclusions.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:51 PM
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Another thing to note: charisma isn't the only necessary political skill. It's possible to be a very good strategist without being very charismatic.

I think Bill Clinton's quite overrated as a strategist. All that charm masks a real lack of imagination & ambition. Obama excites me much more on this front. Who knows if he'll be able to actually execute it--and it's unfortunate that the press is so ready to declare this over before we get more of a chance to know if it's real--but I think he's run a pretty smart campaign; he's not winning-by-default when the press turns on the frontrunner & everyone copies everyone else.

(Bear in mind, I'm also known to defend Feingold & Dean as underrated political strategists).

Another note--everyone's going on about how Kerry is so clearly unlikeable. This is not the tune they were singing the week after Iowa in 2004--how many voters decided he was the most "electable"? I was arguing then: no he isn't, Dean's not either, but no way he is--it's probably Edwards. You know what I based this on? My own personal "God, shut up," reaction to his stump speech.

I don't even want to pile on Kerry though--I thought he was great during the convention & debateso I think what did him in was bad strategic calls--to scared to do the right thing, too decent to cynically do whatever it took--not lack of charisma.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:52 PM
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375: which is why Obama is having so much trouble in the primaries?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:53 PM
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That the impressions people have about public figures get shaped (unavoidably, at least to some extent) by how the media choose to play things?

Look, the original post was about press coverage, not public opinion. My point was that likable people get favorable coverage. For some reason, people are denying that there's such a thing as "likability," which is approaching "deafness is not a disability" territory.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:54 PM
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we're claiming that given the media realities, everyone's instincts are for shit in this regard

I think we're talking about different things. Per ogged, part of "likeablity" is knowing how it will play (with the voters, the media, etc.). Every day, people sort out what sort of "them" will be most likely to get the results they want, and then decide whether to play that role. This is the backbone of every other teen movie, IIRC. People who are good at it are "likeable" or "charismatic" or whatever. Most people are pretty good, though not perfect, at telling who is good at it. It isn't as if Gore's reputation as an interminable bore was a new one. He made jokes about it certainly as early as the early nineties, and I'd bet he made jokes about it before that.

we should go back to reading position papers and analyzing stump speeches for substance

It's hard to think of mediums that are more massaged for appropriate responses than political position papers and stump speeches. (Once upon a time it was considered a truism that political candidates lied.) And it seems unlikely to me that most voters are better suited to making informed decisions on deeply detailed policy questions than on who seems most charismatic. "Look for substance" resolves, outside areas of expertise (or areas where one doesn't believe there is such a thing as expertise), to "trust the experts."


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:55 PM
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363: Yay Bruce!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:55 PM
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Katherine and I have clearly been comparing notes on this subject again.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:55 PM
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Shorter 382: My personal evaluations of people are more valid than yours are, because I'm a real person and you're an overeducated elitist.

At which point what do I say?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:55 PM
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377: Absolutely right. Get off my lawn you kids, and go elect a caring, feeling human being.

[Insert "clever observation simultaneously summarizing this thread and w-lfs-n's take on IPH's hair" here.]


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:55 PM
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Ogged, at least some of us are denying that there's any reliable connection between media portrayal of someone as likeable and that person being likeable in terms any of us as individuals might care about, and are also asserting that the media attention to what they call likeability is part of an overall program of disenfranchisement and marginalization. And also that you're a tool.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:56 PM
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Herseth is a Blue Dog and is only licked by other Blue Dogs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:56 PM
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Riding motorcycles does not make one cool.

Well, fuck. Good thing I sold my bike, I guess.

Tottering around on a Ducati makes you a rich douchebag.

I'd like to disagree with this... but it's hard to.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:57 PM
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I'm claiming that you can tell how something is "going to play." That means with the public, and it also means with the press (which is why the Gore sighing polling isn't a refutation of anything I've said).

But the press in 2000 would take anything - including things Gore did not say - and play them the way they wanted to. So yes, in that sense, you could tell how something was "going to play." They literally made fun of him for not wearing a suit when he visited a national park for an environmental photo op.

So all you're doing is predicting how a predetermined narrative will be applied to a given event. Wow. What a talent.

It has almost nothing to do with the candidate's actually-existing characteristics. So what is it that you've identified? Nothing.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:57 PM
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385: Once more: It's not so much that the phenonenon doesn't exist. It's that it's destructive, stupid, & you are aiding & abetting.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:57 PM
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386: I wasn't going to say anything, but "reading position papers" strikes me lately as an almost unbelievably backwards way to choose a presidential candidate.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:57 PM
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My point was that likable people get favorable coverage.

Okay. So the point is that people the press likes--because they are easy to write about without actually having to do things like research or fact-checking or analysis--get favorable coverage. But that has nothing to do with whether the public at large likes them.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:59 PM
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Look, the original post was about press coverage, not public opinion. My point was that likable people get favorable coverage.

Jesus christ, the naivete is killing me. The press reaction is their spontaneous personal reaching out to a sympathetic personality. It would be wrong of those in the press to color that reaction by deciding which candidate best serves their personal interests, or those of their bosses, and treating them as if they were likable, so it just doesn't happen.

Do people talk you out of your lunch money frequently, Ogged?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:59 PM
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382: Jesus, WM, I don't even want to respond. The unlikable thing about Bush is that he was a cocky bully who relied entirely on his connections. The worst sort of lazy, arrogant, talentless, selfish, privileged shit.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 1:59 PM
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And 391.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:00 PM
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at least some of us are denying that there's any reliable connection between media portrayal of someone as likeable and that person being likeable in terms any of us as individuals might care about

I haven't disagreed with this; see the comment about Huckabee skinning children. I am denying that it's all "media portrayal" as if all the information we have comes from Marty Peretz blog posts or something; you do get to see these people on television.

asserting that the media attention to what they call likeability is part of an overall program of disenfranchisement and marginalization

I pretty much agree with this, assuming that by media attention you mean the amount of media attention paid to this, rather than that any attention at all is paid to it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:01 PM
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So it's a duplicitous scheme disconnected from reality, but it still works for you because you're just that cool. Got it.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:03 PM
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It would be wrong of those in the press to color that reaction by deciding which candidate best serves their personal interests, or those of their bosses, and treating them as if they were likable, so it just doesn't happen.

Of course it happens. So?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:03 PM
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385: Ahhhh. It's taken me quite a while to catch up in this thread--I think I lost the original point of the post. If we say that "people who are likable to the press get favorable coverage," does that pretty much cover it? I wonder if we're getting bogged down wondering if likable-to-the-media=likable-to-the-masses...


Posted by: Sharkey | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:03 PM
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398: The press -- with zero application to objective reality -- turned the idea that Fred Thompson was teh hotness to tha laydeez into Conventional Wisdom for . . . well, a while. And that was a near impossible case! And yet they kind of pulled it off!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:03 PM
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You people are so talking past each other.

LB I would suspect ogged is not saying that "those in the press... color that reaction by deciding which candidate best serves their personal interests, or those of their bosses, and treating them as if they were likable" is something that never happens, he's saying it doesn't always happen, that the instinctual reaction of the press to a candidate is, in fact, often a factor in how they cover that candidate, and that said instinctual reaction is to some degree predictable based on how charismatic and appealing (in a certain not-necessarily-substantive way that we really shouldn't call "likeability" or probably "charisma" either) that candidate is.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:03 PM
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you do get to see these people on television.

Right. Out of a candidate's day, you get to see the :47 that the media thinks portrays them accurately, shot and edited by the media. That's not "media portrayal" at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:03 PM
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Herseth is a Blue Dog

Maybe so, but a vote for Speaker Pelosi is a vote for Speaker Pelosi. This is, after all, South Fucking Dakota we're talking about, so I'm not holding out for Maxine Waters to be elected to Congress there.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:03 PM
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It's hard to think of mediums that are more massaged for appropriate responses than political position papers and stump speeches. (Once upon a time it was considered a truism that political candidates lied.)

Funny. Paul Krugman never left Princeton, NJ, and yet was the only major pundit to note that Bush's plans would bankrupt the country while enriching the very wealthiest. He did it by reviewing Bush's position papers.

Reality 1, Stupid, Self-satisfied Cynicism 0.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:04 PM
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345: I'm not claiming access to objective truth, I'm claiming that you can tell how something is "going to play." That means with the public, and it also means with the press

Ogged of 345, allow me to introduce you to the ogged of 64: In what sense is sighing debater Al Gore a "media-created persona?" There he was, sighing.

Until 345, I had the sense that you recognized no critique of the media here - that "unlikability" was merely a reflection of the public's taste.

You figure it's just a coincidence that your personal taste matched the media narrative and not actual public opinion? Or have you so internalized the media narrative that you can not only anticipate it, you can actually feel it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:04 PM
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406: or maybe not.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:04 PM
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LizardBreath, re 407: And of course nearly all the media outlets will end up using the same 47 seconds. It would help a bit if they at least grabbed different snippets, giving us the most basic of mosaics. But noooooo.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:05 PM
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Ogged, you really are an idiot and a tool. Are you trolling again?

As I said elsewhere, a lot of people trust their intuitions even though their intuitions are 100% mediated, and even though they know that the mediators are cheesy shits with nasty agendas. Your intuitions about famous people are completely worthless, Ogged! All of them! You're like the guy who thinks that the stripper has fallen in love with him.

People have said that in person Gore is, in fact, likable and funny.

Likable to the press is different than likable, and on top of that media people often know in advance who they're supposed to like.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:05 PM
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some of us are denying that there's any reliable connection between media portrayal of someone as likeable and that person being likeable in terms any of us as individuals might care about

Also, the popular kids in high school: total dicks. And?

and are also asserting that the media attention to what they call likeability is part of an overall program of disenfranchisement and marginalization.

And the useless twit hangers on who liked and enabled them were tools. And?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:05 PM
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Well, fuck. Good thing I sold my bike, I guess.

Riding motorcycles can be correlated with coolness, but it's because of the hidden "devil may care" attitude. Getting a bike because it'll get you chicks is, on the other hand, horribly uncool.

But selling a bike is never a good thing. Wanna buy a 2001 GS w/ 80k miles on it?


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:06 PM
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ogged is not saying that "those in the press... color that reaction by deciding which candidate best serves their personal interests, or those of their bosses, and treating them as if they were likable" is something that never happens, he's saying it doesn't always happen, that the instinctual reaction of the press to a candidate is, in fact, often a factor in how they cover that candidate, and that said instinctual reaction is to some degree predictable based on how charismatic and appealing (in a certain not-necessarily-substantive way that we really shouldn't call "likeability" or probably "charisma" either)

At which point you have an information source that (a) doesn't tell you much important about anything even when accurate ("not-necessarily-substantive")and (b) is trivially easy for the media to manipulate, even if it's not always manipulated, and (c) you don't have any good way of differentiating the marginally relevant 'valid' information from the total bullshit. At this point remind me what the downside is from totally disregarding it and trying to get other people to?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:07 PM
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Enh, I need to run now, so I stopped reading about 30 comments ago.

I do wish that there was a better way for me to evaluate a candidate's chances of effecting his or her agenda. I really don't like a whole bunch of Hillary Clinton's policies, so she's a no go. I generally prefer Edwards to Obama and plan on voting for Edwards, but if Obama can get his health care plan through it's probably good enough that it's better than having Edwards fight unsuccessfully for his. (Sometimes I think that no change is better than incremental change, but Obama's isn't as incremental as Hillary's, so I'm ok with it.)

I'm inclined to think that it's important for politicians to be well-liked by other politicians, because it will help them accomplish their legislative goals. On the other hand, LBJ seemed to get what he wanted through fear.

And I can't escape the idea that character matters on some level. It matters that Bill Clinton executed Ricky Ray Rector when hie IQ was under 70 to show that he was tough on crime; it foreshadowed a lot of his later triangulation. (Of course I'm talkign about public character, not private morals, but it's hard to separate them completely.)


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:07 PM
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Out of a candidate's day, you get to see the :47 that the media thinks portrays them accurately, shot and edited by the media.

This is just false. There's C-Span, there's YouTube, there's coverage of speeches and events; the information is there.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:07 PM
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382 is so freaking awesome in the context of this thread. Except for forgetting the clearing brush on the ranch -- good honest work on a hot summer day!


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:09 PM
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414: And likeability or whatever is a useless metric by which to evaluate candidates because it's innately unimportant and easily manipulable by people who do not have our best interests at heart. That's the "And".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:10 PM
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SCMT, re 414: Well, when I really grasp that I'm being surrounded by lies from authorities, I can start looking for alternative sources. I can try to figure out what I've already internalized that I wouldn't have chosen consciously and try to weed it out; I can try to build up a stronger sense of my own values and priorities, and look to join up with like-minded folks to see what we can get done despite the lies. All the usual stuff of trying to live truthfully and productively. I'm sure it's not very glamorous, but it's often engaging work in practice, with room for good discoveries as well as bad, and sometimes real accomplishments at the end of the day.

If you think I'm missing something either obvious or important (or both), by all means, please jump in. I'm not trying to claim all wisdom achieved or anything like that. I'm not sure what the point of your comment was, though, and would like to know more if you feel like explaining to the probably-missing-something one over here on this end of the screen.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:10 PM
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"People who are likable to the press get favorable coverage"

I don't even grant that. The bylined people are lackeys and kissasses, and they learn pretty quickly who advances and who doesn't. Most of the big media players have a low profile, and a lot of them (editors and publishers) are virtually nameless.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:11 PM
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But alas, gotta go, like jesting Pilate not staying for an answer except that I'm really hoping nobody posting here is actually the next Jesus. That would be very unlikeable.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:12 PM
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418: It is easier for highly-motivated voters to at least lessen the role of media-as-prism. Most voters are lazy little shits, though. So the real-world effect is still real and valid, even if it's theoretically avoidable to some degree.


Posted by: Sharkey | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:12 PM
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416: At this point remind me what the downside is from totally disregarding it and trying to get other people to?

The downside is that you will completely fail to get them to disregard it and, after decades of painful failure, be unable to wholeheartedly support bold, transformational political moves when somebody charismatic and appealing enough to actually implement them shows up, because you're too busy disagreeing with the fine points of position papers and laying into the media.

Or the upside is you're canny enough to not get snowed by a glib fascist who leads your country down the road to wrath and ruin, who knows.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:12 PM
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418: Get back to me on a day when you have personally viewed more than :30 of footage of some candidate that did not appear on a media network, broadcast or cable. And be prepared to tell me on how many days that's true for you, and for how many people in the US you think it's ever true. No credit for watching footage on YouTube if it's coming from mainstream TV.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:13 PM
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I was disagreeing with your 47 second snippet characterization. If ABC carries a speech, they carry a speech, and it counts if you watch it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:15 PM
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426: how many times do you really need to do that? I'd say once seems like plenty to get a pretty good sense.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:15 PM
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428: When you're interacting with someone personally, you think you know something valuable about their personal qualities after a couple of minutes of passively watching them, once? Neat. You must be very perceptive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:17 PM
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368: This is the second time in two days I've heard about "the Washington phenomenon of the lavish dinner eaten while standing."

Is this a real thing? How does it work? Do DC restaurants have taller tables now?


Posted by: elemund | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:18 PM
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I am!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:18 PM
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429: You don't? From just the brief, shouted conversation you and I had in DC, for example, I could tell that you totally wanted me.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:18 PM
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You must be very perceptive.

Ok, seriously, you're sounding robotic. Yes, lots of people can get quite a good sense of someone from even shorter interactions than that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:19 PM
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I can't help but think that it comes down to this:

In 2000, America had a very rare chance to elect a man who was actually one of the very best-qualified* people in the country to be President. But because a bunch of reporters can't get over their high school days, they decided that they didn't like him, and proceeded to work to destroy his candidacy. The last 7 years speak for themselves.

Ogged and Tim seem to think that this was somehow acceptable, and that we should accept these terms going forward. I think that such a system needs to be blown up. Take your pick, y'all.

* Not just "has qualifications," but was prepared, recognized the greatest threats facing our nation (terrorism and global warming), etc.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:19 PM
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I can start looking for alternative sources.

Who will also lie to you for their own advantage.

I can try to figure out what I've already internalized that I wouldn't have chosen consciously and try to weed it out;

With what still-unmediated-mind?

I can try to build up a stronger sense of my own values and priorities,

Which will usually have come from your parents, teachers, peers, and reading, I suspect.

All the usual stuff of trying to live truthfully and productively.

I have a deep suspicion of the "authentic," so "live truthfully" isn't, I suspect, comprehensible to me. This might be the root of our disagreement (I'm guessing).

My claim is that I'm OK (not perfect) at guessing who will come off badly on the likeability axis, and on what grounds. And that I don't understand why we're supposed to throw that knowledge out, or pretend--insofar as it is broadly predictable how some mass of people will react--that it won't influence the sorts of problems various politicians will run into.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:19 PM
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It has to be the right two minutes, of course.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:19 PM
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432: That one's easy. Who doesn't?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:20 PM
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Ogged and Tim seem to think that this was somehow acceptable

Where have we said that?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:21 PM
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433: Again with the question about the lunch money. If I had your real-life address, I'd be sending my cousin the real estate agent by with some excellent investment opportunities on some swampland in Florida.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:22 PM
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As we know, ogged's business interviews rarely last longer than it takes the faxed cover sheet to come through the machine.

Seriously, yo, this is just stupid. Would you actually select among 3 candidates for an important job in your firm solely on the basis of watching them talk to your receptionist?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:22 PM
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I am denying that it's all "media portrayal"

Well, presumably part of what the media react to--and I'm not joking when I say it's "easy to write about because doesn't require fact-checking or analysis"--is something that most people will react to. It's "easier" to hang out with people who tell good anecdotes than people who actually, you know, think out loud. The human interest stories are more popular than the real news.

But at the same time, that's not universal: there really *are* some of us who are more interested in the interesting stuff than in the cute puppy stories. And in any case, I fail to see how any of this in any way suggests that Clinton's "unlikeability" doesn't have a hell of a lot to do with her being an ambitious woman.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:22 PM
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Somerby distinguishes between stories and story lines. Likability is a story line. Everything that Gore did was plugged into the unlikability story line, if at all possible, and everything Bush did was plugged into the likability story line.

The story would be something that happened on a particular day, often something essentially insignificant or even, in many cases, something that didn't even really happen at all. The storyline (with a little nugget of story embedded in it) is what people read or saw on TV.

So what we're arguing is, in fact, that neither real likability nor even likability to the press is the main thing here. It's the story line in effect among the media. And this story line is to only a small degree even the result of the personal reactions of the media people on site, but is decided higher up.

A story line is like a talking point, and in fact Republican talking points are very influential among media people and are often regurgitated whole right on schedule.

(Also irrelevant is whether either HS popular kids OR popular politicians are really nice people you'd actually like. To a degree I suppose you could say that HS popular kids are the ones with rich parents, and that Bush is just this times a million. But there's a special dynamic in media politics.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:22 PM
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438: The way you keep on making fun of people who don't want to buy into it as objective fact?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:22 PM
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I think that such a system needs to be blown up.

JRoth, nobody here thinks it's a good system for choosing a president. But I'll be happy to hear your plan for destroying the media-industrial complex.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:24 PM
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438: You are both all over supporting the current system as providing valid information to voters. Tim thinks it's better than reviewing the actual proposals of candidates. You're even saying that a 47 second soundbite is adequate for picking the goddamn President. Are you seriously fucking denying this? Have you read this thread?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:24 PM
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I deny that likability ever comes across on CSpan. Also, no one watches CSpan.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:24 PM
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ogged's business interviews rarely last longer than it takes the faxed cover sheet to come through the machine

Funny, I do conduct notably short interviews, and they ask me to interview people because I'm very good at getting an impression of them. Maybe you all are actually deficient at this, and I should be more respectful of your disabilities and stop making fun of you. I apologize.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:25 PM
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434: ditto for 1988, probably 1984, 1980, and on and on. Unless you can tell me exactly and specifically how you're going to "blow up that system", outcomes would lead me to wonder if you secretly wouldn't rather see Republicans win every time.

I mean, it's not a matter of what's "acceptable." I think it's unacceptable that I can't smoke pot at work, and yet! I work within the system, because it's there. Talk of revolution is swell, but why vote? Why pay taxes? Why not move to the back woods and take up arms against the state? You could almost certainly talk Emerson into it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:25 PM
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But I'll be happy to hear your plan for destroying the media-industrial complex.

Step One is not perpetuating its lies in whatever circles of influence we have. Assuming that ogged hasn't just been trolling all day, he's trying to tell thousands (right, Becks?) of sometimes-influential people that the current system provides valid, useful info for electing Presidents.

Is that helping or hurting?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:26 PM
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You're even saying that a 47 second soundbite is adequate for picking the goddamn President

That's right, that's exactly what I said. Come on, try harder, people.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:26 PM
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I think it's unacceptable that I can't smoke pot at work, and yet! I work within the system smoke up before I leave the house. And go home for lunch.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:27 PM
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ditto for 1988, probably 1984, 1980, and on and on

WTF? Dukakis? Mondale? Carter? What are you talking about. Those guys were various flavors of marginally competent. I'd put them in maybe the top 200 most qualified. I'd put Gore in the Top 5. Jesus.

outcomes would lead me to wonder if you secretly wouldn't rather see Republicans win every time.

Fuck off.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:28 PM
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451: that's totally working within the system.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:28 PM
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Ogged and Tim seem to think that this was somehow acceptable, and that we should accept these terms going forward.

I think it's more basic than that: ogged and Tim (or at least Tim) believe in the existence of proxies (educational background, politics, wearing makeup, their friends, etc.) that give you better information about various issues than simply flipping a coin. Or reading position papers (or some short personal summary on a dating site). It need not be determinative--it shouldn't be--but you shouldn't just disregard it out of spite towards this fallen world.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:28 PM
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Unfogged started getting worse when Ben discontinued the kitty page that popped up between posting a comment and the comments page reloading.

I still get the kitty, though, which is why I'm so much calmer than everyone else these days. I don't know what Apo's excuse is. Probably that damn baby of his.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:29 PM
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I don't think anybody noticed but bitch is making a different (and also correct!) anti-Ogged argument -- that what we consider "likable" or "unlikable" is different for men and women and thus the "likeability" factor can't be separated from sexism.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:30 PM
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If I may be allowed to get way out of my league for a moment:

To what extent is the current media role shaped by the generation of people currently running things (specifically, a press nurtured on fairy tales about Watergate and the Great Reporters)? The fact that we have a set of media elite who want, more than anything else, to appear adversarial or "tough" does a good job of obscuring things like, you know, policy positions. I'm thinking of Russert, for example. 50 years ago, reading policy papers might well have been a shitty way to judge candidates. I don't think that's true any more, because candidates recognize that those papers are the only place they can actually present their unmediated views. Upthread somebody mentioned Krugman reading Bush's positions; I don't see how that's illegitimate today, and I think that's caused by a very specific generation of people in the press.

But, what the hell do I know? They don't let me drink in bars...


Posted by: Sharkey | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:30 PM
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Okay. Let's talk practicality, and roll it back to 2000, because the Gore election was nice and clear; the 'likeability' narrative there was supported by and constructed out of a whole series of flat lies.

What I think the reaction to that should be is to make the biggest public fuss possible about the lies, trying to discredit the liars, and stating as clearly as possible that 'where there's smoke, there's fire' does not apply to a situation where you have motivated slanderers.

What I understand Ogged's sense of the proper reaction to be (well, no. Day by day I bet I could talk him into going along with me. But what appears to be the implication of his position) is to ruefully recognize that the media wouldn't be treating Gore like that if he weren't really kind of annoying, and to take it as an object lesson to pick a better candidate next time. That seems like an ill-advised reaction.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:31 PM
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I think there are (at least) two threads getting combined in the discussion of the likability narrative. The first is the role of the media, and the second is the role of cultural frames of race, class, gender.

Thought experiment: Imagine if the media did everything else the same, but didn't select the clips to use. Let's say they went around and filmed each candidate on the campaign trail, and then said, "we will take all of the filmed interactions we have of the candidate interacting with a person that isn't part of a prepared speach, and randomly select one of those interactions to air, and we will randomly select one paragraph from a speach" and then the talking heads did their analysis of those clips.

You wouldn't have the "media as filter" element in play, but you'd still end up with the discussions of the candidates being heavily influenced by how well they conform to class/race/gender norms, and that would still be a problem.

I mean, that's democracy for you, I'm willing to accept that many people won't vote for someone who performs geneder roles, for example, poorly but, in our role as people sitting around unfogged talking about the presidential race, we should still be able to recognize that this is a bullshit frame, and be annoyed that it carries so much weight, both in the media environment and with voters.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:32 PM
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Let me link again to this, and note that this woman has a master's degree from UVA. So watching a 47-second speech would be more information than many voters use to choose their vote, even educated ones.

You go to the polls with the citizenry that you have, not the citizenry you wish you had.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:33 PM
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Yes, lots of people can get quite a good sense of someone from even shorter interactions than that.

They think so, but they're idiots. Intuition is not your friend when you're watching TV. They're playing to you're intuition. They can make something out of nothing. Seriously. A very small amount of media savvy tells you that.

CSPAN is only watched by wonks, and long speeches almost only by wonks, and the rare long speech that gets a big audience is immediately intepreted to death by people like David Brooks, Pat Buchanan, William Kristol, and Robert Novak. These are smart people and masters of manipulation.

They frequently have some success in convincing people the opposite of the truth. Recently, someone gave "Iowa was a big win for Giuliani" a try, and while they didn't convince many people, they very successfully fended off the more reasonable "Giuliani is dead" idea.


I'm becoming increasingly convinced that Ogged is trolling his own site again.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:33 PM
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456: Sort of. Plenty of women don't like Clinton, either, and plenty of men do. But I do think that a lot of disliking her is about whether one does (or doesn't) like feminism and feminists.

My real anti-Ogged argument here is that he's not articulating what he means very well. I, too, believe that I'm pretty good at forming impressions of people, and that my impressions often turn out to be pretty accurate. (Then again, don't we all?) The problem is figuring out what that's based on, and then figuring out how to explain it.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:33 PM
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458 seems pretty much right to me. I think it's useful to push back against the supine and incompetent press, but I also think that we ignore likability at our peril, and that would be true even with a good press, because likability matters and it has an effect beyond what the press can control.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:34 PM
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452: Dukakis was "marginally" competent? Did you live in this state in the 80s? Have you seen Boston now? Have you driven on 93? Marginally competent my ass, that man was a great governor.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:35 PM
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Intuition is not your friend when you're watching TV.

I dunno, it only took seeing about 30 seconds of Steve Forbes' goofy-ass grin to know he wasn't ever getting any major party's nomination.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:36 PM
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do we have any readers who were in Michigan when Jennifer Granholm ran for governor?

Some anecdata for the Granholm sex-appeal hypothesis.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:36 PM
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463: Heh. I wrote that thinking "It's really what he seems to be saying, but I'm being kind of obnoxious. No one could possibly sign on to it stated like that." And then you did.

Trolling, or merely a very unusual person? Ogged comments, you decide.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:37 PM
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That's right, that's exactly what I said. Come on, try harder, people.

Sorry, apparently you're saying that ABC carries the entire speeches of candidates prior to the conventions (hint: they don't), and so there's plenty of opportunity to get unfiltered observation of them during, say, the primary season. That's a lot more true.

Also, you keep comparing "interactions" (your word!) with live human beings with televised sound bites. Not. The. Same.

Read coverage from the primary states - these reporters see the same speeches over and over again, and talk about day-to-day variations. Hell, for people who had been watching Obama on the stump, his post-Iowa speech was stunning. So imagine if your impression of Obama came from one of his less-stunning speeches. Just as valid as if it came from his most-stunning? They don't give the same impression, and they're both real. Confusing!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:37 PM
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461: we were talking about appearances outside of major media, John.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:37 PM
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The problem is figuring out what that's based on.

Media constructions.

, and then figuring out how to explain it.

The overwhelming power of the capitalist-patriarchy hegemon.

I still don't understand how Bill Clinton left office as a popular President, given that we believe the media hated him as they hated no other.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:38 PM
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JRoth, seriously, you're not even reading what I write anymore.

Kill Al Gore!!!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:38 PM
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If it were driven by the media personally liking this person, on an individual level, it would actually be better. I am charmed (shut up mcmanus) by stories of editors pulling reporters off the RFK campaign because after enough time they went native & started submitting gushy stories. Of course, it gets inappropriate, because they're no longer scrupulous about it--see the McCain thing. But what's really, really pernicious is writing stories about what VOTERS think about candidates' likeability.

The track record of those stories as an accurate reflection of what voters actually think is quite, quite, quite lousy.

Your individual reaction to a candidate is idiosyncratic but at least it's real. Your blind guess as to how The Average Voter will react is even less likely to be accurate, & it's not clear what legitimate journalistic function it serves--some guy in Iowa is better qualified to decide whether he likes a candidate than you are qualified to guess. Then add in the herd mentality: they don't do this individually. Rather than make shit up on your own, it's much less risk to copy down what everyone ELSE is reporting about how average voters are reacting. Add it all together and voila: Fred Thompson, super hottie & International Man of Mystery.

Whereas the track record of all this crap at INFLUENCING the electorate during the rare moments when it's paying close attention is excellent.

I defend some reporters, but I have almost no use for campaign coverage, or indeed most coverage of Washington. It is unbelievable to me how a group of people who are supposedly too professionally concerned with their objectivity to call a lie what it is, has no compunction with deciding elections based on who's hot & who's not.

This is way you are infuriating me ogged. Your arguments in this thread are extremely, extremely similar for their defense of it. You're not a neutral observer in this. You're a participant.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:40 PM
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Marginally competent my ass, that man was a great governor.

I was mostly thinking of Carter and Mondale, actually. But I'm nowhere near convinced that Dukakis was in Gore's league. Top 25-50, maybe.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:41 PM
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Would you actually select among 3 candidates for an important job in your firm solely on the basis of watching them talk to your receptionist?

Or, to tighten the analogy, by watching them in a community production of Our Town? I don't doubt ogged's ability to form relatively accurate impressions of people he interviews in jobs, or meets personally. I expect that's a good proxy for most personal interaction, and might give you a better sense of a person than reading their essays.

But doing the same with politics seems closer to believing that Hugh Laurie is a good doctor because House saved all those people than it is to a good way to judge character.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:41 PM
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Without looking at the IP address, 472 is Katherine. I could tell because it's right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:42 PM
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dd it all together and voila: Fred Thompson, super hottie & International Man of Mystery.

But he's going to get the nomination, right?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:42 PM
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472 was me.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:43 PM
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doing the same with politics seems closer to believing that Hugh Laurie is a good doctor because House saved all those people

I was just responding to the point about interviews; I'm not claiming that you can get a good impression of the person (in-itself) from the television (at least not in this thread). What I am saying is that you can assess the quality I'm calling "likability."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:43 PM
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474: to tighten the analogy further, would you decide that somebody is a good actor by watching them deliver a two minute monologue? Convincing people through mediated communication and quickly executed persuasion is what a politician does.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:44 PM
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472, I think, is about right. (Katherine, I presume?) Saying "voters find Kerry unlikable" is pretty self-fulfilling.


Posted by: Sharkey | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:44 PM
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476: You've made this point a few times now. Yes, the media narratives do not control everything. Some people don't pay attention to them, others are unswayed by them. No one's argument depends on their controlling everything. They just have to effect people substantially, which they do, to cause a lot of harm.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:44 PM
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471: When you correctly pointed out that I'd misread your take on the 0:47 thing, I went back and reread. You have so fucking clearly come down in favor of the idea that you can get reliable impressions of people based on minimal encounters, and that this is comparable to watching clips on TV. If that's not what you meant, rewrite, because that's what you said.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:44 PM
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They just have to effect people substantially, which they do, to cause a lot of harm.

Unless you can figure out how to use them to your advantage, which is, sadly, impossible for anybody to do.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:46 PM
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385: My point was that likable people get favorable coverage.

This is sensible out of context, but in context it reeks of tautology. How do we know what's likable? Ogged's practical answer seems to be that the media tells us - and that we can anticipate (and apparently even internalize) the media's judgments so that we don't even have to wait for those judgments to air before we can adopt them.

As ogged puts it elsewhere:

I'm not claiming access to objective truth, I'm claiming that you can tell how something is "going to play." That means with the public, and it also means with the press.

When the media revolution comes, we won't have to put the SCMTims and oggeds up against the wall. They'll come along quietly and without complaint, and won't even recognize that they are obeying new masters.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:47 PM
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Your blind guess as to how The Average Voter will react is even less likely to be accurate

But this varies by candidate, doesn't it? I mean, it's one thing when we're talking about Fred Thompson or Barack Obama, but Hillary Clinton is one of the most widely recognized figures in American politics, who has been in front of the TV cameras more or less constantly for 16 years. It isn't really that blind of a guess how voters are going to react to her.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:47 PM
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the person (in-itself)

Your otherwise inexplicable position in this thread has something to do with Heidegger, admit it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:47 PM
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Some people don't pay attention to them, others are unswayed by them. No one's argument depends on their controlling everything. They just have to effect people substantially, which they do, to cause a lot of harm.

Should we at least use Thompson's numbers in open primary states as proxies for the number of people the media effect to great ill?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:47 PM
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JRoth, I've said that you can assess someone's likability (which in this case is a public quality) from seeing them on TV or YouTube, etc. I'm not saying I can see into Joe Lieberman's soul, assuming he has one.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:47 PM
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I could tell because it's right.

The rest of us would have known, too, had we been able to rule out LB.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:48 PM
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483: It's impossible to the extent that the press is explictly not on your side. John Edwards can't get arrested in front of a camera these days largely because his political positions are substantively unattractive to the media class, so he's unlikable. He can't very well fix that by being more charming. Accepting this shit as a hard constraint, rather than fighting it, means taking a big piece of the spectrum of left politics off the table.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:49 PM
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Your otherwise inexplicable position in this thread has something to do with Heidegger, admit it.

Actually, y'all are arguing the Heideggerian line, and I'm arguing against it (crudely speaking; don't get worked up, parsimon).


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:49 PM
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488: Is that likability good or useful in choosing a president/governor/whatever?

Not meant as snark: a genuine question. I can imagine arguments for both sides.


Posted by: Sharkey | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:49 PM
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I think I'm taking this from Gladwell, which worries me, but job interviews generally don't improve employment decisions, and in many cases just add more noise than anything else. For instance, being tall is a substantial advantage in interviewing and does not make you better at most jobs (unless they involve reaching high places or impressing people with your height). Sorry, Labs.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:50 PM
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490: until you get elected, I guess. And only until you can (via money, offered to you because you have power) build your own infrastructure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:51 PM
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Unless you can figure out how to use them to your advantage, which is, sadly, impossible for anybody to do.

Maybe we could ask Becks. Somehow she managed to figurer out, like a year ago, that Huck was going to come off as likeable.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:51 PM
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I've been on the fence about Obama for more than two years now, ever since his breakout performance at the Democratic convention in '04. When I saw that speech -- an iconic piece of inspired nonsense/political showmanship, one that set flashbulbs popping like Michael Jordan's virtuoso 1988 dunk contest performance -- I knew right away that he would be the Democratic presidential nominee someday, perhaps even in the next election cycle.

When I mentioned this to my friends, they told me I was crazy. Obama had had absolutely no national experience at that time, he was a political virgin, there was no way he was ready for prime time. My answer to that was, compared to what? Throw a guy who can speak like that against the list of likely Democratic candidates in 2008 -- a sorry collection of human saline drips that included Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John Kerry, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd -- and Obama could fucking walk to the nomination, even if he chose a page from the Betty Crocker cookbook as his stump speech.

Fast forward two years and that appears to be exactly what Obama has done. The Illinois Senator is the ultimate modern media creature -- he's a good-looking, youthful, smooth-talking, buttery-warm personality with an aw-shucks demeanor who exudes a seemingly impenetrable air of Harvard-crafted moral neutrality. If Hillary Clinton even dares to open her mouth within a hundred feet of him at any time during the campaign, she's going to come off like a pig digging for truffles. Even Edwards -- the so-called "slick" candidate from '04 -- sounds like a two-bit suburban Buick dealer next to Obama. You get past the "issues," and it's a wipeout.


Posted by: Matt Taibbi | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:51 PM
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I granted Ogged-Sifu-Tim 10%. Because some people are better campaigners than others, some people are better on TV than others, and some people have more "charisma" than others. If there was someone arguing that none of those are important at all, that someone was way wrong.

But the "likability" meme is wrong every which way. It's just bullshit and shouldn't be taken seriously. It's a wonk meta artifact peddled by cheesy spin doctors to pseudo-sophisticated semi-educated wonk wannabes.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:52 PM
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This is a confusing argument. Are people really saying there's no such thing as a candidate who is more likable? Or that this is a bad thing to be judging candidates on? Or just that it gets horribly twisted when journalists who live 'off' politics but not 'for' it (see De Long and Weber) start to make judgments about what other people think is likable?

I'm with number three, but I'm very skeptical about two (as SCMT says, position papers are even easier to massage), and I just can't believe anyone really accepts number one.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:53 PM
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496 is exactly how I felt.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:53 PM
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488: This still doesn't explain the Bush phenomenon. We've all seen a million clips in which the man comes across as an utter tool. I don't mean the differential reactions of people to a given type - some of us can tolerate fratboys better than others - I mean that his "Now watch this drive" and "Wanna buy some wood" moments are objectively unlikable, by your definition. So how did people think he was likable? Because, in 2000, there were no alternate media to replay those moments.

Sighing or no (and yes, I did hear it on the radio, but it didn't phase me), if the media had chosen to endlessly replay Bush's "fuzzy math" line - with his self-satisfied smirk - he would not be president today, because everyone would have agreed he was unlikable. Sometimes he can be likable; sometimes he's not. The media gets to pick which one you see.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:53 PM
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Or just that it gets horribly twisted when journalists who live 'off' politics but not 'for' it (see De Long and Weber) start to make judgments about what other people think is likable?

I agree with this, even. They should stop. We can stop when they do, I suppose, but I don't really think that's a good idea.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:55 PM
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I agree with this, even. They should stop.

That's all I want. I'd even agree that if they stopped, it wouldn't be crazy for us to start. But until they stop, treating the likability narrative as anything other than media created bullshit is culpably naive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:58 PM
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500: On the practicalities of how these narratives get constructed, building someone up by protecting them from their stumbles, while you report on their opponent's, is a huge deal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:59 PM
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498: Likable to whom?

The argument that LB summarized away up there was that there are undeniably likable/charismatic candidates (this is not quite the have-a-beer notion, but close enough), but that these are the exception. The norm is a pair of congenial-enough people (they couldn't be national politicians without that), one of whom is anointed* as more-likable. This is generally bullshit - there's 300 million of us, and you're not going to get consensus on likability except through manipulation (not counting the aforementioned exceptional people).

* Only 2 n's; who knew!?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 2:59 PM
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500: Bush Jr. always reminded me of that guy who shows up at the party that nobody likes --- but everybody tolerates because his family is rich and he brought lots of coke and will share if you pretend he's ok.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:01 PM
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499: Matt Taibbi wrote that back in February 07, believe it or not. He's the best campaign journalist working now.

But the bottom line here is that if you want a give-'em-hell left-wing populist, you've got Edwards (make no mistake, Edwards is more liberal than Obama). If you want a smooth operator who can capture the center while still being acceptably left, you've got Obama. I'm not sure there's room for Hillary -- she's got the wonkiest command of domestic policy details, for sure, but that alone is not going to set anyone's heart afire.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:02 PM
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But then no Democrats get elected, and things go further to hell. We have to game the media. This is how things are. So the media presence of the democratic candidate is vitally important. Insofar as charisma gives them a leg up on making things go their way, it is a tremendously important quality in a candidate, even if you don't agree with me that it's tremendously important anyhow. I would argue it's much more important for democrats, because we don't own a fucking cable network.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:02 PM
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I'm very skeptical about two (as SCMT says, position papers are even easier to massage)

Again, this has not been proven. It appeals to our inner cool cynic, but the only major pundit who got 2000 right was Paul Krugman, who attended no campaign events, did no reportage; he just read the position papers.

GWB has done very few things that he hasn't openly promised to do. He hedges and fudges so as not to alarm people, but he's mostly hiding in plain sight (think of the signing statements - hundreds of them before anyone noticed).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:02 PM
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488: you can know whether you like them. I'm an Obama supporter, I'm not arguing that charisma & emotion don't matter or ought to be irrelevant to the candidate *you* pick. Politics depends on emotion.

You can guess whether other people will like them. This can be fun; I do this, I'm not so pure--I start mainlining this stuff for the brief period every four years when the nomination's in play. But really, it serves no useful purpose. Even if it's not going to unduly influence voters it crowds out real stories. If you're right, it will take care of itself if the primary process is allowed to unfold instead of trying to guess the outcome & influencing it in the process. If you're wrong, you're prejudging the result prematurely--why not just shut up? Obama deserves a bounce from Iowa: the turnout was impressive, that was a great speech, perfectly reasonable to say: hey, this could be for real. But I'll be more convinced it's for real if he keeps pulling it off, so why should anyone else give up or assume that this is over before NY votes? Quite plausible but self fulfilling in a way I'm not comfortable with.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:04 PM
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I'm not sure there's room for Hillary -- she's got the wonkiest command of domestic policy details, for sure, but that alone is not going to set anyone's heart afire.

I still like her to win. I think it's going to be a longer primary than people think, and that the longer it goes, the better she does.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:04 PM
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This isn't really to the point, but I remember reading in Salon, of all places, about a private meeting Bush had with some families in 2000, and the reporter said that if people could see that George Bush, he would win in a landslide. (I want to say that the reporter had literally peeped this interaction through a door that was ajar, but I might be embellishing that in my mind.)


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:04 PM
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504: we're dangerously close to comity, you and I, if you'd agree that when one of those exceptional people comes along we have to jump on the opportunity to support them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:04 PM
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I agree with 509, too. I just knew people were talking past each other. Except ogged, that loon. I'm sure he's crazy, even though it seems like we mostly agree.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:06 PM
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What I am saying is that you can assess the quality I'm calling "likability."

That's what I doubt, except that you seem to have operationalized the definition of "likability" in a circular way.

When was "likability", named as such, declared an necessary quality for a politician? People recognized that Reagan and Clinton had it and that Bush I, Dukakis, and Mondale didn't, but when did it go meta? (Actual question, not rhetorical, and I'm asking about when it became a stereotyped media meme).

I'm wondering whether it wasn't in the Bush Gore campaign itself, and that it was a Bush talking point.

Bush's campaign had tremendous message control and was crafted around his supposed likability. He was a pretty obscure figure before 1999, with not much media footprint, so it was a very well controlled message.

Meanwhile another narrative was being crafted around Gore's supposed unlikability. I'm wondering whether this self-aware, meta, likability standard didn't come into being as a Republican talking point. Especially because Republicans were trying to contrast Gore with Clinton (successful well-liked President) as much as with Bush.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:06 PM
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507: For anyone actually working on a campaign, they should be playing the media for all they're worth. Of course. Snubbing them as a danger to democracy would be, while satisfying, counterproductive and insane.

But I'm not working on a campaign. And for people who aren't, and who have bigger soapboxes than mine, I think it's really important to try and convince people not to trust the uncheckable media narrative on how 'normal people' are going to react to the candidates, because it's constructed bullshit.

The candidates, to the extent I support them, should do the best job they can of trying to get the media to spin bullshit for them rather than against them. Great. The voters on the other hand, should develop the sense and background to ignore it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:06 PM
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But then no Democrats get elected

Dude. Gore got more votes. While I insist that the media has nefarious narrative-creating power, they can't do it all by themselves. Except for the stupid butterfly ballots, Gore wins, and this likability shit looks as vapid as it is.

I really don't see how your "don't vote strategically" kick works with this "vote for whoever you think the press will like" idea you're apparently insisting on (and I have trouble reading 507 another way). I know you said they go together, but I'm not seeing it.

Case in point: Edwards vs. Obama. Edwards is clearly more progressive. Edwards will clearly get worse press. Your traditional position says one thing (to the progressive voter), your position today says the other. Ne c'est pas?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:07 PM
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, but the only major pundit who got 2000 right was Paul Krugman, who attended no campaign events, did no reportage; he just read the position papers

Focusing, I thought, on economic matters. And I'm pretty sure that there were others who came out against Bush.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:07 PM
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the reporter said that if people could see that George Bush, he would win in a landslide.

What makes you trust the reporter, beyond your general gullibility?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:08 PM
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516: I definitely don't mean to be saying that. A better way, maybe, to put it is that I think charisma and personal appeal and so on are a tremendously important part of what makes somebody successful as both a candidate and an elected official, and I think Democrats have long had a tendency to distrust their own instincts on this, because of how successfully and disingenuously the GOP has played the "likeability" game with the media. All I'm saying is that it's important to trust your own instincts on whether somebody has the kind of personal charisma to get things done, and that this does not necessarily line up with who you personally like the most, even on an instinctual level.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:12 PM
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What makes you trust the reporter, beyond your general gullibility?

That reporter was...my brother! Who said I trust the reporter? Anyway, to answer pedantically, I would have noted who it was, thought about other things he'd written, considered the fact that he was writing for Salon and not the Washington Times, and gauged what he wrote against my own impression of G-dub.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:12 PM
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364: If by "press" you mean "anyone who has written about politics since the time of Demosthenes," you might have a point.

True. Well, if by "anyone who has written about politics" you mean "anyone except for Machiavelli.

Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with.

Ogged on politics: likability is real, more-or-less immutable, and its importance is universal so there's no point in complaining about different treatment of "unlikable" politicians. Michiavelli on politics: fuck likability. Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum.

397: Okay. So the point is that people the press likes--because they are easy to write about without actually having to do things like research or fact-checking or analysis--get favorable coverage. But that has nothing to do with whether the public at large likes them.

I swear I would be exactly one of the people we're all complaining about here if I simply worked in Washington rather than a small Vermont college town. There is one guy who's probably right and has the best interests of the community in mind, but I can't stand the guy because no matter what he won't shut up. That, and several similar problems with him and with his rival, have affected the quality of articles I've written involving them. Luckily, my editor is better than Joel Klein's editor. (That might be giving my boss too much credit for wisdom and stuff: luckily, my boss follows the issue pretty closely and doesn't have the same problem I do with the guy.) So consider me one more data point in favor of the proposition that the medias' sympathies have little to do with who is objectively right and/or who would be more likable socially.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:14 PM
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if you'd agree that when one of those exceptional people comes along we have to jump on the opportunity to support them.

This is how I felt about Obama in 2004. His SS/mandates/trial lawyer shit has seriously damaged him in my eyes. As I've said before, I personally don't "like" Edwards, but I trust him more than I trust Obama (who has apparently started throwing rhetorical bones to the progressives in the last day or two). I certainly don't count his charisma* against him, and Iowa has me half convinced that his Happy Hope shit may actually work in the playoffs.

* Again, I would note that what I'm calling charisma is different from the "likability" that drives/is driven by media narratives. You can't fake what Obama can do with a crowd. You can fake Bush's "charm."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:14 PM
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When was "likability", named as such, declared an necessary quality for a politician?

Kennedy-Nixon?
Truman-Dewey?
Garfield-Whoever?
Aaron Burr?
Alcbiades?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:15 PM
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519: Here, I think you're making a simple mistake. The kind of "personal charisma" necessary to get things done when you're in a room with people is almost completely unconnected with media presence. Bob Dole, for example, was apparently dripping with the former, and had none whatsoever of the latter. Reagan was riveting on camera, and apparently almost non-existent in person.

Some people have both, but as a general rule the only thing a good media presence tells you is that the candidate is telegenic and the media likes them. This only relates to the part of the job that involves giving public speeches (a real part, but not the whole thing). It's not the same charisma you need to interact with Congress.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:16 PM
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Focusing, I thought, on economic matters. And I'm pretty sure that there were others who came out against Bush.

Many liberal pundits, of course, opposed Bush. What I mean is that what he got right was that Bush was a radical, not a "compassionate conservative," and that Bush completely misrepresented his own proposals on the stump on a daily basis. I'm not aware of anyone else who wrote that.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:16 PM
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524 is so fucking true.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:17 PM
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500: This is how subjective that shit is: As much as I hate Bush, "wanna buy some wood" actually earned a point from me. It was an unscripted response to something of a cheap shot, it was kind of funny, and if the speaker didn't happen to be, through a collossal clusterfuck of fate, the leader of the free world, it would have been endearingly lame. It's just about the only thing I've ever heard Bush say that made me sympathetic to him as a human being.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:17 PM
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* Again, I would note that what I'm calling charisma is different from the "likability" that drives/is driven by media narratives. You can't fake what Obama can do with a crowd.

Right. This is what I'm talking about as well.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:18 PM
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1. Are people really saying there's no such thing as a candidate who is more likable? 2. Or that this is a bad thing to be judging candidates on? 3. Or just that it gets horribly twisted when journalists who live 'off' politics but not 'for' it (see De Long and Weber) start to make judgments about what other people think is likable?

1. I'm saying that likability is a media story line that doesn't necessarily have much to do with the candidate. Specifically, Bush is not more likable than Gore, but he had better media people and the big media were against Gore.

1a. Likability to the media is not likability. The media like the guy who butters their bread one way or another. The media like the wrong people for the wrong reasons; their feelings shouldn't color the process. (In this kind of thing, the present media are like corrupt public servants who show favoritism in return for perks and flattery.)

2. Likability is a bad standard, not only because it's a media artifact but also for other reasons. Con men live off likability.

3. When likability went meta in wonk discussions, an additional stupid wonk problem did arise.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:18 PM
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524: most of the work of the President doesn't happen in a room. He's not a legislator; he's an executive. He works the crowds.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:20 PM
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I assume people know what I meant by "in a room", and don't interpret that comment as me being a total moron. Perhaps I assume incorrectly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:21 PM
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470: I still don't understand how Bill Clinton left office as a popular President, given that we believe the media hated him as they hated no other.

I don't understand how the media hated him, given that he's so charismatic and that people could get a good feel for him in just 30 seconds.

You know, Chris Matthews is just a regular dimwitted guy who always wanted to be a cool kid. Why didn't he like him?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:21 PM
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530: He's also not a figurehead, he's a policy-maker. If a President is doing his job, there's a lot of work in a room, with legislators and agency heads and so on.

Carter at first did pretty well with the public -- he didn't have the other kind of charisma he needed to take on Congress.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:22 PM
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531: No, no, we're good.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:23 PM
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532: because Clinton was a hick southerner and Matthews is Irish-Catholic and from Boston, making him susceptible to Rovian nonsense about moral decay? Just a thought.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:24 PM
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People recognized that Reagan and Clinton had it and that Bush I, Dukakis, and Mondale didn't, but when did it go meta? (Actual question, not rhetorical, and I'm asking about when it became a stereotyped media meme).

Emerson, it's my belief that this was Reagan's key accomplishment. Early in his tenure, the media had a headscratching attitude that essentially endorsed Tip O'Neil's dictum that Reagan was an "amiable dunce." For awhile, Tip and the media thought this was a bad thing.

But Reagan ate everybody's lunch. He locked out the media, controlled his media events, and kept succeeding. Since the media has always been more into the horserace than policy, they began to craft a narrative where policy preferences don't really matter. And once the non-policy narrative is all that matters, meta-narrative becomes the order of the day. The result: Today you can have guys who go beyond talking tough and promoting imaginary defense systems. You can actually have hot wars based on imaginary premises, and the media doesn't care.

You can have guys say that cutting taxes raises revenue, and the media won't call you on it, because Reagan said dumb shit like that all the time and he was a winner.

The media demanded a measure of competence from Nixon, and enforced a level of non-criminality too. With W, criminality and policy incompetence were, for a long time, actively aiding his respect from the media, and indeed, it's only the public's loathing of the man that's changed the media narrative, and it hasn't changed all that much. The sumbitch still gets ludicrous amounts of respect from the media, in part because somebody arbitrarily decided that he was likable.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:25 PM
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523: Likability named as such, as opposed to charisma, for example, or "the common touch" (which seemed to have had a class focus). When did the word "likability" become a meme in American political journalism? When did it go meta?

Likability seems contrastive to respect (though not incompatible with it) and seems grounded on stupid people's envy or resentment of smart people (though in today's world many stupid people are very middle class.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:25 PM
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It's not the same charisma you need to interact with Congress.

Part of what made HRC a player from Day One in the Senate was her ability to get media whenever she wanted. (This, of course, was reported by the media, so who knows?)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:26 PM
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533: Reagan did okay with a hostile Congress.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:26 PM
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539:Not hostile enough.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:28 PM
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Sure. All other things are not always equal. He didn't get savaged like Carter, but he also didn't have them eating out of his hand.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:29 PM
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But Reagan ate everybody's lunch. He locked out the media, controlled his media events, and kept succeeding.

Perhaps likability in the narrow sense is a function of media control and a disciplined message.

I'd still like to see someone do a lexis-nexis and find out when the word "likability"/ "likeability" became a key word when discussing prospective candidates.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:30 PM
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511: and the reporter said that if people could see that George Bush, he would win in a landslide

And of course that was the Real Bush® and would totally negate "Please don't kill me" Bush, "Now watch this drive" Bush, "It would be easier as a dictator" Bush, "OK, you've covered your ass" Bush, Furious George the Debate Monkey etc., etc.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:30 PM
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But anyhow, all other things disregarded, being able to convince the American people -- or whatever non-trivial subset of them -- or as importantly people overseas -- of the wisdom of a course of action is an extremely important skill for the President, especially if (a) he has a friendly Congress and (b) he's trying to implement real, progressive change. Look at FDR in this regard. He was able to roll over Congress on a number of occasions by marshalling popular support.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:32 PM
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Oh, bigtime charisma is a real plus, and it's something worthwhile. It's rare enough that we don't have a charismatic candidate in every election, and it's got nothing to do with 'likability'. But it's a genuine thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:34 PM
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HTML is fucking with me again.

OK, OK!. I'm sorry I called Wonkette "the cute redheaded assfucking lady".

But Reagan ate everybody's lunch. He locked out the media, controlled his media events, and kept succeeding.

Maybe likability is partly a function of a controlled message and a scripted candidate, in the context of an anti-intellectual campaign strategy.

I'd still like to see a Lexis/Nexis search of "likability"/"likeability" as a primary criterion for prospective and actual candidates.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:35 PM
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I should add to 536 that Reagan convinced the media that treatment of the media doesn't matter. Bush totally abuses the media as they carry out their professional responsibilities, but you still find them looking for reasons to praise him on the grounds of his good treatment of the media. Instead of granting them access or telling them the truth, he feeds them Dove bars and lobster ravioli and bullshit narratives about how he speaks for Joe Sixpack (a term that I think originated in the Reagan years).


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:38 PM
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John, I'm finding references to Reagan's likability back in 1981, from an article warning people about him. It also refers to Eisenhower as the original Mr. Likable. I'm not sure Nexis goes back farther than that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:39 PM
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Emerson -- If I'm actively in a thread, hit refresh a couple of times before reposting. When I notice, I clean up obvious HTML errors. (Both times, you had "?" for "/" closing a tag.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:41 PM
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I'd still like to see a Lexis/Nexis search of "likability"/"likeability" as a primary criterion for prospective and actual candidates.

Tip called it amiability, but that's a more esoteric term. When Bill Clinton dispatched HW in '92, that also boosted the narrative, I think. Bill, like HW, was a serious-minded policy wonk, but he managed to win anyway.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:42 PM
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And of course that was the Real Bush® and would totally negate "Please don't kill me" Bush, "Now watch this drive" Bush, "It would be easier as a dictator" Bush, "OK, you've covered your ass" Bush, Furious George the Debate Monkey etc., etc.

How do you even know about this stuff? (Hint: Five letters.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:42 PM
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Is it quantifiable? It seems to me that it's become more prevalent and stereotyped recently (2000) but perhaps it's projection on my part.

Maybe Reagan + likable, Carter + likable, and so on through the presidents and candidates.

My hypothesis is that it increased in 2000, becoming a key word, and has remained prevalent since. Here's someone's chance to prove me wrong. I'll admit it for once.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:44 PM
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See my 481. The fact that it's not a total and complete lockdown on unauthorized information doesn't mean that the media's choices of emphasis aren't powerful.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:45 PM
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because Clinton was a hick southerner and Matthews is Irish-Catholic and from Boston, making him susceptible to Rovian nonsense about moral decay? Just a thought.

You serious? You know Matthews has been a presidential speechwriter, worked for Senators, run for Congress himself?

Actually I didn't either, but that's what Wikipedia says.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:46 PM
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This argument is tiresome. But I just thought about what Ogged said upthread about doing interviews--you do realize, Ogged, that your methodology, as reported here, is absolutely begging for a discrimination lawsuit, right?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:46 PM
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My hypothesis is that it increased in 2000

From clicking through the Nexis results--a dozen or two a year until 2000, then hundreds--you're absolutely right.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:48 PM
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John, I'm finding references to Reagan's likability back in 1981, from an article warning people about him.

That's the tone I was referring to in 536, which (if memory serves) was quite common. The media, having some interest in reality at the time, came down fairly hard when Reagan said things like the majority of pollution comes from trees.

But Reagan and his political descendants have changed the game, drubbing the smug "reality-based community" so thoroughly that it's become disreputable and naive in elite media circles to care about actual facts, policy and results. For awhile, the media forgave Bill Clinton his wonk tendencies because he could be cast as Elvis.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:48 PM
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I get extra hung up on "likeable" and "unlikeable" because of the suggestion that it is simply not possible to like such-and-such a politician's self-presentation. I recognize that this is excessively pedantic of me.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:49 PM
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begging for a discrimination lawsuit, right?

I'm not the only person who interviews them, and everyone else takes much longer. Plus, we're the friggin' united nations, in addition to having balanced gender representation, so thanks for your concern but I think we're ok, fatty.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:50 PM
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I also can't bring myself to leave out the "e" anymore. It looks too weird!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:50 PM
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551: How do you even know about this stuff? (Hint: Five letters.)

You're right! Every one of them was covered so extensively and prominently in the press, and repeated ad nauseum in clip after clip and analyzed to death. Not hidden away like Teresa saying "Shove it!" to a Scaifian Trbune-Review reporter at the Repub convention, or a botched Kerry joke on Iraq, or sighs, or a poor sound levels on a speech, or cackles.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:51 PM
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But Reagan and his political descendants have changed the game, drubbing the smug "reality-based community" so thoroughly that it's become disreputable and naive in elite media circles to care about actual facts, policy and results.

This is what's making me heated about this conversation -- the impression I'm getting from Ogged and SCMT (less from Tweety) that paying attention to substance over ineffable personal qualities makes you out of touch and ineffective. To the extent the media buys into this, it's horribly damaging to anyone who's interested in good government; to the extent that the voters buy into it, the same.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:51 PM
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(Hint: Five letters.)

COCKS!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:52 PM
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The fact that it's not a total and complete lockdown on unauthorized information doesn't mean that the media's choices of emphasis aren't powerful.

I would think the following are reasonable questions, though:

1. How powerful?
2. Are there cases where we can reasonably guess that the candidate will simply overwhelm any media bias?
3. Are there cases where we can reasonably guess that the media will like the candidate?
4. Is it somehow wrong to use any information we have about #2 and #3?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:53 PM
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The repeated iteration of brief TV clips selected to show a candidate as likable / unlikable, in the context of a professional spin campaign in various media portraying one or the other candidate as likable or unlikable, and also in the context of a media claque which has made up its mind about the likability or unlikability of the candidate, is what we're all talking about. And we're saying that a lot of "likability" is engineered this way, and also that it is usually tendentiously skewed at more than one level (by the reporters and by their editors-publishers-producers).

And then, you have the autonomous TV wonk discourse about "likability", which is also tendentious.

So to repeat myself, because Tim hasn't surrendered yet, I think that "gaining control of the media storyline" is more important and more real than "nominating more likable candidates."

Though then again, two of the likable Republicans were pure front men, whereas the Democrats nominate actual statesmen, and maybe nominating amiable empty suits is the way to go.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:54 PM
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564:

2: Not a lot, and not reliably.

3. No, because we can't tell when they're going to operate on the basis of their natural reactions, and when on the basis of their, or their bosses', policy goals. Dennis Kucinich could be a 6'2" deepvoiced handsome charming charismatic devil, and it wouldn't make much of a difference to the press he gets. (That is, we can't guess that the media will 'like' the candidate on the basis of the candidate's 'likability'. You'd have to add in their politics to get any hope of guessing at all, and there's still going to be a big random factor based on how much they want someone else to win instead.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:57 PM
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I think that "gaining control of the media storyline" is more important and more real than "nominating more likable candidates."

You're not going to gain control of the media storyline with an unlikable candidate. Bush is a weird case, because he's partly totally likable and partly a mass murderer, and he lost the election in any case.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 3:58 PM
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One more meta-thought.

It strikes me that much of what makes good journalism is when someone writes about a phenomenon that we can all perceive, but can't describe and finds a pithy word or phrase to capture it.

I think ogged is describing something we can all perceive, but I think he's failed to capture it's essence and the label "likability" is confusing matters. Partially because the traits that make someone personally likable are not necessarily traits that correlate with "being good on TV" and it would be better if we had a term that didn't invite confusing the two.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:00 PM
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You're not going to gain control of the media storyline with an unlikable candidate

THE

MEDIA

STORYLINE

IS

LARGELY

WHAT

DETERMINES

WHETHER

THE

CANDIDATE

IS

LIKEABLE.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:00 PM
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You're wrong, LB. Let's do this again for another 500 comments.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:03 PM
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559: I assume you work for a lovely, completely progressive company, Ogged. I'm just pointing out that the "gut impression of whether or not they're likeable/a good team member/a good fit" sort of thing is precisely how unconscious discrimination works.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:03 PM
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2: Not a lot, and not reliably.

Here we just disagree.

3. No, because we can't tell when they're going to operate on the basis of their natural reactions, and when on the basis of their, or their bosses', policy goals.

And here too.

People go with their own experiences.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:04 PM
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Bush is a weird case, because he's partly totally likable and partly a mass murderer, and he lost the election in any case.

And we circle back to the same impasse we began with. By what standard, besides the media's, is that smirking chimpanzee likable?

I get Reagan - I understand why people were drawn to him. I understand Bill Clinton the same way. And Obama and Huckabee, too. But Bush? Absent the media narrative - and the enforcement of that narrative that has been documented here and elsewhere (especially by Somerby) what evidence is there of Bush's charm?

I just don't get it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:04 PM
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568 is probably right. Once again, I thought I was saying something obvious and picked a word as shorthand that I should have taken more time to choose.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:05 PM
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566: You're wrong -- if Kucinich were a taller and more charismatic man, he'd get savaged in the media because his positions on issues would be dangerous. As it is, he gets a pat on the head, an eyeroll, and we move on to other, taller candidates.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:05 PM
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Also, Bush is in *no way* likeable, truly. Mass murder completely aside.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:05 PM
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570 meet The response that all these impressions are mediated just isn't to the point: it's the mediated impression that I'm judging.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:05 PM
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It's at moments like this when we need OPINIONATED GRANDMA, who always seems to know how to put these things in perspective.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:05 PM
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568, 574: No, it's the right word -- the other phrase that gets used is "who would you want to have a beer with?" which clearly refers to personal likeability. You can't make the argument stand up better by picking another word.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:07 PM
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564.2:I think we are watching two such instances this year, with a negative bias against Huckabee, and a bias toward Obama that is considerably less interesting than Obama's charisma and the electorate's desire for a charismatic candidate.

The snowball avalance effect I am seeing out there for Obama is getting fascinating. There are, I think plenty of cases where a person or story gains momentum in part because the masses want to climb aboard a fun ride.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:07 PM
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578: I was trying to channel her.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:07 PM
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556: Well, it seems to me that the "likability" meme was a Bush campaign talking point which raced through the media during the 2000 election, and since has gone meta among wonks and journalists. And that it's characteristic of a certain kind of heavily stage-managed, message-controlled, anti-intellectual political campaign which obscures policy details while relying on slogans and foregrounding a figurehead candidate who need not be a statesman at all (a soft cult of personality). And once a candidate has been elected on that kind of campaign, he's brand-named "popular" even if people hate him. And perhaps it involves suborning the press by getting to their bossess, but I don't think that was a factor in 1980.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:08 PM
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Hypothesis: what we're discussing under the word "likeable" is actually a sense of relaxed, confident entitlement. We "like" people who seem at ease, and people who seem at ease in a political campaign are (rarely) incredibly charismatic extroverts (Bill Clinton), show-offy frat boys (Bush), extroverted good ol' boys (Huckabee, Bill Clinton), or actors (Reagan, Schwarzenegger).

It isn't about being likeable, and it very rarely has anything to do with actual fitness or talent for the job.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:10 PM
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getting back the original post--the intersection of gender w/ likeability, etc--in addition to what everyone says about "likeability" I think this is in a way unfair to BOTH Clinton & Obama.

1. I think you have to ignore U.S. history to argue that it's not, in general, harder to get elected President as a woman or a black man than as a white male. I'm not sure which is a bigger disadvantage.

2. Judging by the campaign so far, I'm tempted to say say: gender. But it's very hard to know because we're not running a controlled experiment. Maybe gender is harder to overcome. Maybe he's just a better candidate, or running a better campaign.

3. For instance: Maybe it's biography--before he opens his mouth, his story makes him much less scary to white America than the average black man. Meanwhile, she comes in--to the Senate if not the Presidential race--having been attacked viciously for a very long time. But of course she has advantages too from the fact that she was married to Bill Clinton--she has more institutional support, she has the money, she has the machine. He has to build one.

4. Maybe it's charisma. He clearly wins here--though I will say: not in all forums; she's better in the debates. But over all this is very easy.

5. Here's another thought though: they've probably actually given a great deal of thought about the fact that it was not going to be easy to be the first black president or first female president, that it was going to make them vulnerable, & that they had to come up with a strategy for dealing with it (along with the other cards they were dealt re: charisma etc).

Like I said, I don't know if the overall obstacles they faced were comparable in magnitude--we could go on for a while about that. They also weren't likely going to be the exact same obstacles: some people have said to me that no woman in America could get elected with experience comparable to Obama's & I tend to agree: I cannot imagine male voters swooning for a female candidate in quite the same way many white voters swoon for Barack Obama. But on the other hand, you know, there are a fucking hell of a lot more female voters than male ones--maybe she didn't need to rely so much on stirring oratory to convince.

The point is: I think the politician Hillary is today is very much informed by her gender. I think the politician Obama is today is very much informed by his race. And not only because everyone's life is affected by those things--but because they both wanted to be the first X president, & must have thought: "well how the hell am I going to pull this one off?" And I like the way that he's played the cards he was dealt much better than I like the way she's played hers.

The "hope, bipartisanship, one nation, brighter dawn, new tomorrow" talk worries me too. But I started to mind it much less when I understood it as a strategic choice specifically designed to deal against the racist bullshit that is likely to come his way. It has its downsides but I find it infinitely preferable to "well, I can't let them think I'm not tough, so I better vote the war, & I better not say I'm sorry."

Of course everyone looks like a genius when they're winninng....still though. He does actually have some audacity, I think.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:10 PM
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My guess is that one reason likability took off in 2000 was that Gore was so damn unlikable. Of course there are other reasons, like the laziness of the press corp, the pressure to have stories in the 24-hour cycle, which keeps anyone from learning about the issues, etc. But Gore's unlikability in 2000 is a cold hard fact that the Unfoggetariat will never erase.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:11 PM
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getting back the original post--the intersection of gender w/ likeability, etc--in addition to what everyone says about "likeability" I think this is in a way unfair to BOTH Clinton & Obama.

1. I think you have to ignore U.S. history to argue that it's not, in general, harder to get elected President as a woman or a black man than as a white male. I'm not sure which is a bigger disadvantage.

2. Judging by the campaign so far, I'm tempted to say say: gender. But it's very hard to know because we're not running a controlled experiment. Maybe gender is harder to overcome. Maybe he's just a better candidate, or running a better campaign.

3. For instance: Maybe it's biography--before he opens his mouth, his story makes him much less scary to white America than the average black man. Meanwhile, she comes in--to the Senate if not the Presidential race--having been attacked viciously for a very long time. But of course she has advantages too from the fact that she was married to Bill Clinton--she has more institutional support, she has the money, she has the machine. He has to build one.

4. Maybe it's charisma. He clearly wins here--though I will say: not in all forums; she's better in the debates. But over all this is very easy.

5. Here's another thought though: they've probably actually given a great deal of thought about the fact that it was not going to be easy to be the first black president or first female president, that it was going to make them vulnerable, & that they had to come up with a strategy for dealing with it (along with the other cards they were dealt re: charisma etc).

Like I said, I don't know if the overall obstacles they faced were comparable in magnitude--we could go on for a while about that. They also weren't likely going to be the exact same obstacles: some people have said to me that no woman in America could get elected with experience comparable to Obama's & I tend to agree: I cannot imagine male voters swooning for a female candidate in quite the same way many white voters swoon for Barack Obama. But on the other hand, you know, there are a fucking hell of a lot more female voters than male ones--maybe she didn't need to rely so much on stirring oratory to convince.

The point is: I think the politician Hillary is today is very much informed by her gender. I think the politician Obama is today is very much informed by his race. And not only because everyone's life is affected by those things--but because they both wanted to be the first X president, & must have thought: "well how the hell am I going to pull this one off?" And I like the way that he's played the cards he was dealt much better than I like the way she's played hers.

The "hope, bipartisanship, one nation, brighter dawn, new tomorrow" talk worries me too. But I started to mind it much less when I understood it as a strategic choice specifically designed to deal against the racist bullshit that is likely to come his way. It has its downsides but I find it infinitely preferable to "well, I can't let them think I'm not tough, so I better vote the war, & I better not say I'm sorry."

Of course everyone looks like a genius when they're winninng....still though. He does actually have some audacity, I think.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:12 PM
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585: Trolly McTrollerson. Troll troll troll.

I'm going to tell Bob Somerby where you live.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:13 PM
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568, 574: No, it's the right word -- the other phrase that gets used is "who would you want to have a beer with?" which clearly refers to personal likeability.

That's only true if the trait that ogged is talking about is the same as the "have a beer with" trait, and I'm not convinced that it is.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:14 PM
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I'm serious, LB. Did you not have a "oh, put a sock in it" reaction every time you heard Al Gore?*

*Note, this question is designed to determine if you're an out of touch elitist.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:14 PM
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Democrats can't really gain control of the media storyline, because we're Democrats. They have to go around the media, and both Kerry and Gore almost won that way.

Choosing an objectively more likable candidate will not gain control of the media storyline, because the press gaggle are all just flunkeys and lackeys.

Bush is really likable mostly to rightwing white males, especially the successful ones (about 20-30% of the electorate altogether).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:14 PM
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It just sounds like Ogged doesn't like scolds. Mother issues or something.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:16 PM
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This clip is a great example of Bush being a complete jerk and, seconds later, way likable.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:16 PM
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589: Dude, no. Not everyone is you. Other people exist in the world. Your reactions to people are not objective facts about those people. There are real people, out there in the world, who find Al Gore interesting -- they went to see a movie of him delivering a lecture with Powerpoint slides, and enjoyed it.

Solipsistic, much?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:17 PM
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Ogged doesn't like scolds

I must be unique in this.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:18 PM
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592: To the extent you find fixed, panicky grins likeable, I guess.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:19 PM
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My parents like Hillary, they don't like Obama at all. They think he's insubstantial, untrustworthy, possibly a Republican plant. They think she's a dependable rock.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:19 PM
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Not everyone is you

I was asking about you, dude. I, personally, kind of like Al Gore, but I recognize that he's unlikable as fuck. Anyway, I specifically said he was unlikable in 2000, because he's loosened up a lot since then.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:19 PM
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Ogged, there's nothing wrong with liking Bush. It shows that you're an awful person, but, hey! no law against that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:20 PM
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I was just responding to the point about interviews; I'm not claiming that you can get a good impression of the person (in-itself) from the television (at least not in this thread). What I am saying is that you can assess the quality I'm calling "likability."

Very late to this, but I wanted to be clear that I understand that you're not talking about judging the person's soul. But I still think you're putting way too much stock in what isn't a real quality outside of a media narrative, in that I'm getting the impression you think that this is an objective quality we can pick out in a politician. And I'm not sure whether you think this connects up with good governance.

Put it this way: you believe that likability is important. How would you advise HRC to become more likable?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:21 PM
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you think that this is an objective quality we can pick out in a politician

Yes.

How would you advise HRC to become more likable?

Haha.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:23 PM
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597: And I answered the question, personally, in my first sentence. No, I didn't have a reaction like yours. I watched the debates and was proud that my party's candidate knew what he was talking about and could think on his feet. I thought the jokes about how stiff he was were funny -- I like the deadpan delivery.

(My father doesn't think much of Obama. I'm a little afraid to probe this, because I'm unsure that his reasons will bear looking at.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:23 PM
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When do exit poll results come out?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:23 PM
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When the polls close, barring a leak, no?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:24 PM
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So you're an out of touch elitist. So are most of my friends! Hugs all around.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:24 PM
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I liked Gore, when I saw him in person in 1994. His line (at an Interior Department presentation on GIS, where we were demonstrating a little "high school students can use a web browser to get geographic data, how cool" project) was that he wanted the phrase "Good enough for government work" to become a positive thing. Totally wonky, but friendly and hopeful, not at all stiff or scolding or boring.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:24 PM
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When the polls close, barring a leak, no?

Right, of course, I was confused about what time it was. Nevermind.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:25 PM
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596:I like your parents. They can comment here, if they don't mind f-bombs.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:25 PM
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gah. 584 & 586 are me. sorry.

Also, on Obama: I can't tell you how many times I went to earnest liberal discussions about things & people would earnestly conclude the answer was to build a movement. I would always wonder: "what the fuck does that mean? How do you build a movement?"

Here's the recipe for a movement, I think:
(1) an urgently needed change; (2) some step you can ask people to take to help bring it about, which is (a) fun, (b) seems like it could plausibly help; (3) as much peer pressure as humanly possible.

There's a positive feedback mechanism between for all these things. It is often painfully slow trying to build them, & most attempts fizzle. Not especially fun being involved in hopeless causes or harassing people about them. But in the rare cases where they reach a criticial mass--bang: an honest-to-god movement.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:25 PM
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604: I'd say the same, but I can't think of any other friends of mine who are quite that credulously naive. SCMT, I guess, given that I think the world of both of you.

Hugs!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:26 PM
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Surely Ogged can believe in likeability or charm or cool or TV appeal or whatever as something that at least partially is inherent to a person, not just to the way others present them, and still not believe that adjusting it is in everyone's control.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:26 PM
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600: See, I figure it's situational enough that a clever enough politician can re-shape 'likable' into whatever suits him. Not everyone has this gift, the likable guys don't all sound alike. Bush is likable. So is McCain. So is Obama.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:27 PM
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you think that this is an objective quality we can pick out in a politician

Yes.

I've unarguably spent way too much time in humanities departments, but I can in no way get my head around that.

Even Taibbi's thing above I took to be a reaction to how he knew the press would react to Obama's brand of awshucks non-scary demi-sec(ular) preacherman, rather than a response to the eidos of Likeable.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:27 PM
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One reason I find the likability criterion objectionable (besides the fact that it seems correlated with not talking about issues) is that it apparently trumps the more serious criteria. In 2000 and 2004 an incompetent candidate portrayable as likable beat competent candidates portrayable as unlikable. There were other factors, of course (ideology), but likable candidates can be pure figureheads.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:27 PM
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I'm not sure which is a bigger disadvantage.

Gloria Steinem has an interesting take on this question in today's NYT


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:28 PM
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608: Great recipe, Katherine, but there are solid theoretical and empirical arguments against building a social movement around a charismatic individual. There are even jargonistic terms.

A lot of history in the last century.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:30 PM
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589: Dude, no. Not everyone is you. Other people exist in the world. Your reactions to people are not objective facts about those people.

I think the claim is limited: "more people than not," "70% of people," etc. We make judgments about these sorts of things--will people think I'm crazy if I wear these pants, is this the right way to express what I'm saying, etc.---every day, all the time. I'm not sure what people who don't think they behave this way think they're doing throughout the day.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:30 PM
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you know what's really fucking elitist? Thinking: I know that Gore would be a far better president & that Bush is scarily lacking in empathy. But the American voter is far, far too stupid & uneducated & selfish to ever realize that. I am objectively right about this--prove it you ask? Turn on CNN and see!


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:30 PM
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614: Yeah, that was interesting. I've been thinking vaguely along those lines (without necessarily sharing her conclusions) that while racism is more hostile than sexism, it's more possible to evade: depending on the circumstances, it's possible for someone black to not be treated in a manner affected by their race in a set of interactions, while it's almost never possible for a woman not to be treated in a manner affected by her gender. I'm not sure that this is true, but there's stuff to be said along those lines.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:31 PM
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I've unarguably spent way too much time in humanities departments, but I can in no way get my head around that.

Come back to human interaction, oudemia, and to life. Look, as I said in a recent thread, Unf was being recruited to work for this awesome dude who taught Con Law at U of C, because people recognized something about Obama. I watched the convention speech in real time and afterwards, every single commentator said something like "Holy shit, here comes Barack Obama." Media narratives are very powerful and they become entrenched and distorting, but they start with certain facts.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:34 PM
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616:I'm not sure what people who don't think they behave this way think they're doing throughout the day.

I cocoon most of the time, but take the dogs out mornings & evenings to scare the schoolchildren.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:35 PM
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Mother issues or something.

Bingo!

I just finished skimming the antichrist thread over at apo's, and honestly, folks, I'm not sure whether that argument or this one is more completely stupid.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:36 PM
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616: The thing is, though, Gore in 2000 can't possibly be an easy call on being unlikable. He's been elected to statewide office a couple of times, and was perceived as a political asset to Clinton's campaigns. He functioned just fine in the Senate, heavily dependent on the ability to form personal relationships, without being a pariah. Given those objectively checkable facts, a statement that "Well, it's just obviously true that most people would innately dislike or be repelled by him," can't possibly be the case.

Does that mean that he was the charmingest most lovablest man in the whole wide world? Of course not. But the kind of easy call you're talking about (Andrea in accounting who twitches funny and won't look you in the eye while she drones on endlessly about her methods of fertilizing her garden for maximum length of blossoming on her day-lilies) can't possibly apply to someone in Gore's position, and if you think it does someone's snookered you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:37 PM
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615: leaving aside portents of doom, you're entirely right--if you expect the savior to ride in on a white horse, etc. etc. But it's not as if you have a hell of lot of respect for people trying to do this in a way that's centered on a cause rather than a person. If we're working on an issue, we're failing to recognize the fact that the overall trend in this country is a slow doom spiral requiring revolution. If we're working on a national political campaign, we're dangerously messianic and up to no good and trying to fuck things up. You'll be wildly inconsisent about how people trying to change things in the better are wrong. But that we're wrong, that's a constant.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:38 PM
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618: As I said elsewhere, we're about to ask black women in SC, who seem pretty well situated to think through some of these things.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:38 PM
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618: Can we agree that Obama vs Clinton isn't necessarily the proper test case, because Obama is so much more personally charismatic? (I think I deserve extra trolling points for this one, because it's actually my opinion.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:38 PM
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From Steinem's piece, this: "because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman" reminded me that I am eager to have a baby who spends all day in the company of Snarkout's working-from-home ass!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:39 PM
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625: Oh, I don't know how you could settle it, really. Just that you can't just talk about which is a bigger handicap -- racism and sexism are very differently shaped handicaps.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:40 PM
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Media narratives are very powerful and they become entrenched and distorting, but they start with certain facts.

Obama's media narrative -- his tiny local Chicago media narrative -- started with his being a striving egghead (that's one of the nicer takes) for running against Bobby Rush. And so he was presented for a while, albeit on a much smaller scale. No doubt the man has tons of personal charisma, but the channel 5 news didn't always see it.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:41 PM
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I'm not sure whether that argument or this one is more completely stupid.

With due respect to apo, I contend that unfogged comment threads are unmatched in the blogosphere.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:41 PM
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Given those objectively checkable facts, a statement that "Well, it's just obviously true that most people would innately dislike or be repelled by him," can't possibly be the case.

Sure it can. Gore was the son of a beloved local politician in Tennessee and he had a lot of other good qualities, in addition to having taken all the necessary steps to become a politician. That can take you a long way; all the way to the Senate, apparently. And that's possible also because no other elective office is as personality-focused as president.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:41 PM
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626: It is sweet and good. And Buck's not even isolated in the neighborhood -- it's riddled with 50% of childcare or more fathers. (Riddled meaning, maybe 5-10%, but they're out there.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:41 PM
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Snarkout's ass and Jammies's ass can totally swap SAHD child-rearing tips.

Is this true, "Women are the one group that grows more radical with age."? It seems reasonable. And neat.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:41 PM
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He's been elected to statewide office a couple of times,

Dad's seat, I think.

His lack of charisma, I know, was an issue/thing to joke about as far back as the early nineties. I believe it was true in '88, when he first ran for President. Doesn't make him a bad person.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:42 PM
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men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman

I really wish every feminist over the age of fifty would shut the fuck up.

That said, I think there's no question that gender is a bigger barrier than race. Way bigger. Most personality traits are primarily coded in terms of gender; it's almost impossible to escape the various frames that sets up.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:44 PM
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Yeah, that paragraph about young women wanting to escape the sexual caste system and women getting more radical with age just rings like a bell, doesn't it?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:44 PM
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630: Yeah, but he wasn't holding Bill back in 1992 or 1996, he was an asset. And he had relationships within the Senate allowing him to be effective. Even with the nepotism, you can't hack a political career on that scale without being at least acceptably personally non-repellent.

no other elective office is as personality-focused as president

So this "likability" is now an objective personal quality that's only a dominant factor in presidential elections, not in any other political context. You betcha.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:45 PM
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I really wish every feminist over the age of fifty would shut the fuck up.

Gosh, how charming of you.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:46 PM
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that's only a dominant factor in presidential elections, not in any other political context

I don't know about "any other," but in a national campaign where some tiny fraction of the voters will interact with you in any way other than through a television, why should this even be controversial?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:47 PM
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Apropos of not much, I'm still really peeved that Gore picked Lieberman as his running mate.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:48 PM
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Gosh, how charming of you.

Just ignore Ogged when he gets that strident tone in his voice.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:48 PM
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Gore was the son of a beloved local politician in Tennessee

This is a bit of revisionist history. Al Sr. was retired by the public. He didn't go voluntarily.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:49 PM
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I have to see that as ways to kill time while waiting for the New Hampshire results to come out, watching LB completely destroy ogged in an argument is a pretty good one.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:49 PM
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How much time have you spent looking at your governor or senators (or representatives) in person, compared to on TV, Ogged? If you're a crazed speech-attending political junky, the ratio might be as low as 1-10. For most people, they've never seen holders of statewide office in person. The Senate isn't particularly more up close and personal than the presidency.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:50 PM
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Fair enough, replace "beloved" with "notable."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:50 PM
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639: Oh, true. I didn't really realize how bad it was at the time -- the awfulness dawned on me during the recount. God knows what he was thinking.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:51 PM
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639, 645: It was pretty transparently awful during the mutual masturbation of the first VP debate.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:53 PM
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I lived in Illinois and California, I don't count. Nevertheless, personal interaction isn't the only reason personality is more important in the presidency, since it combines the figurehead role, and, as I've argued before, since character is actually the most important trait to look at when we try to get a sense of someone's foreign policy.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:53 PM
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That said, I think there's no question that gender is a bigger barrier than race.

For one thing, people wouldn't say, even in jest, that they wish every black person entering the prime presidential years of 50-and-beyond would just shut the fuck up.

I wonder if an argument could be made that civil rights and feminism have similar generational fault lines.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:53 PM
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watching LB completely destroy ogged in an argument is a pretty good one.

I dunno. I think her shrillness is kind of off-putting, don't you? I mean, deep down?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:55 PM
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Can we agree that Obama vs Clinton isn't necessarily the proper test case, because Obama is so much more personally charismatic?

Are we discounting their ability to see through that because they're black or because they're women? Maybe we could get at it that way.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:56 PM
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The STFU thing was a bit harsh, granted, but I do get tired of people like Dowd and Steinem making these generalizations based on their experience with their old, grumpy age cohort. I do wish Stephen A. Smith would shut the fuck up, though.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:56 PM
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Snarkout's ass and Jammies's ass can totally swap SAHD child-rearing tips.

If I get the job I'm currently hoping will pan out, their asses will be a mere six hours apart!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 4:58 PM
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Buck can mentor longdistance.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:00 PM
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Six hours is short enough for tin-can phone lines. Their asses can toot to each other.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:01 PM
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Media narratives are very powerful and they become entrenched and distorting, but they start with certain facts.

They don't need much to work with. I just don't buy this.

There is a pre-existing fact there about Obama, charisma, eloquence, and there's a media narrative about Obama, but that doesn't mean that you need a pre-existing fact for there to be a media narrative. (You DO need someone willing to be coached, to read lines written by others, and accept stage direction.)

John D Rockefeller the billionaire skinflint cultivated an image of generosity a century or so ago, without letting go of much money right off. Pioneering P.R., and it worked by putting a competing meme out there.



Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:01 PM
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Obama benefits a lot from not being the descendent of slaves, not having any black relatives, and not having a single thing in common with the average American's stereotypical black man except his appearance and his love of basketball.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:02 PM
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And then his descendants went on to employ my great-aunt Nancy as their cook. Not that that's relevant to anything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:03 PM
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I'm not sure whether that argument or this one is more completely stupid.

We don't all have an inexhaustible barrel of random opinions we can dip into any time we want to, B. Some of us are stuck with a few specific opinions we have to develop and defend.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:03 PM
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657: Obama may also benefit from his descendents' traveling backwards through time, as if he wasn't already the candidate of the future.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:05 PM
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But Gore's unlikability in 2000 is a cold hard fact that the Unfoggetariat will never erase.

Good news, folks! I've been vindicated! Based exclusively on my presentation of her character here at Unfogged, ogged has determined that my Bad, Old GF was, in fact, a bad person! He knows it because he watched how I presented her to him! It's foolproof!!!!!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:05 PM
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If Maureen Dowd is a feminist, everyone's a feminist.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:06 PM
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660 makes a good point.

Somehow I feel that my opinion of Di Kotimy's husband may be colored by hearsay. But if he was on the presidential ballot, I'd probably vote against him, given the information I have.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:07 PM
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661: Yay! We won!

Why is this less satisfying than I thought it would be?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:08 PM
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Maureen Dowd is a feminist in the same sense that the governor of Pittsburgh is a Democrat. Throughout her life she has succeeded through networking in milieux where it was literally laughable to not call yourself a feminist. This encourages one to see it as a word containing no content.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:09 PM
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Given the information I have, JRoth, I'm pretty sure you were the cause of all the discord in that relationship.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:10 PM
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I think B is just upset to see her Heterosexual Life Partner ogged get beaten so badly in an argument.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:14 PM
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His lack of charisma, I know, was an issue/thing to joke about as far back as the early nineties. I believe it was true in '88, when he first ran for President. Doesn't make him a bad person.

OK, funny/stupid thing about this. What was the cliche about Gore in 1988?

Boy Scout.

What was the cliche about him in 2000?

Liar who would say or do anything to get elected.

What do you think changed? Al, or how the press felt about him?

Given that info, why do you think you are so fucking special that you know ANY facts about the man's personality?

PS - Actually, he WAS described as charismatic in 1988. Boy Scout, but charismatic one (you could look it up. But you won't, since you desperately want it to be false).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:15 PM
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"For one thing, people wouldn't say, even in jest, that they wish every black person entering the prime presidential years of 50-and-beyond would just shut the fuck up."

yep. I tend to think: overt sexism is more socially acceptable, but I'd still much rather have been born female.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:16 PM
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That can take you a long way; all the way to the Senate, apparently.

Question-beg much?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:16 PM
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I'm sure ogged has derailed this into "Shutting the fuck up of feminists over fifty: objectively more important than the shutting the fuck up of swimmers under forty?" but I have a posit: the trait that has been called "likeability" might be more properly defined as "natural defenses against being unfairly characterized as unlikeable"; that is, if you said about somebody with this trait "that feminist over fifty is a lying, two-timing slime," people would look at you with a puzzled expression, rather than paying attention to the substance of your attack.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:20 PM
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Given the information I have, JRoth, I'm pretty sure you were the cause of all the discord in that relationship.

There you go, blaming the media again.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:20 PM
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You know, ogged didn't say every woman over the age of fifty. He said every feminist. Maureen Dowd would presumably be allowed to speak her mind by this criteria?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:23 PM
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667: His stiffness/woodenness was a joke at least back to 1992, but not one that seemed to hurt him much. SPY magazine had a great insert in the 1992 campaign -- a comic book of Bill, Hill, Al, and Tipper as the Fantastic Foursome: The Golden Doughboy, Sweet-n-Sour Girl, The Wooden Wonder, and the Happy Homemaker, in a battle against The Changeling (Bush Sr.) It was really funny as a series of comic-book cliches -- they were superheroes, and they were a rock band driving around in a van. (It also had an ad on the back cover for Jesse Jackson and Mario Cuomo in the new video game Super Oratory Brothers: both of them dressed up in overalls giving lines in their characteristic styles.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:23 PM
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in the same sense that the governor of Pittsburgh is a Democrat.

My wife thinks that there should be an independent committee to determine a pol's party. The current mayor is a lot less bad than the last one, but the last one was awful. There was no black crepe in this house, believe me.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:24 PM
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"natural defenses against being unfairly characterized as unlikeable"

Under the conditions of a national campaign, I deny that such defenses exist.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:25 PM
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636: Likability does matter differently for President than other elective offices. We've still got our head of state all tangled up with our head of government.

It's possible that the public face of your country matters a lot more to how you feel about yourself than its actions and policies, which are remote and not obviously connected to your day-to-day life. If that's your reasoning, consciously or unconsciously, voting for beerin'-and-brush-clearin' isn't totally unreasonable. (it's not the public face i'd choose, needless to say.)


Posted by: elemund | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:25 PM
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"likeability" might be more properly defined as "natural defenses against being unfairly characterized as unlikeable"

An admirable attempt to pierce the liberal/academic orthodoxy, my friend, but I'm told that there are no actual traits (certainly nothing "natural," you quisling), only media narratives.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:26 PM
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675: Bill Clinton lost? Crap! It was such a beautiful dream.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:26 PM
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His stiffness/woodenness was a joke at least back to 1992, but not one that seemed to hurt him much.

Yeah, I was aware of this as a preteen. Observe his characterization in this 1994 episode.

Then it struck me as bizarre that during the 2000 campaign suddenly he was not only a robobore, but also an enormous liar. That hadn't been part of his image before. It seemed unfair. Then when I started thinking it seemed a bit unfair, my mind was opened to the possibility that it was not only unfair but based on the media perpetrating fabricated facts for its own enjoyment, which turned out to be true.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:27 PM
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pierce the liberal/academic orthodoxy,

Wait a second. I've been misunderstanding your argument all along, Ogged. Do you mean to say it's unorthodox? And those who disagree with you are by contrast stuffy and hidebound? You should have said so -- this changes everything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:28 PM
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678: Yeah, in the face of the settled hatred of the media. Oh, wait, during the 1992 campaign they loved his ass.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:29 PM
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The media made Clinton the nominee in 1992. They loved him. For some reason he disappointed them, and they turned on him. Joe Klein's Primary Colors read like the product of a jilted lover.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:31 PM
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681: why was that? Why did the narrative -- that particular election -- swing towards the Democratic candidate? Because Clinton's team was unbeatable? The Economy? Their successful attempts to paint the eminently charming George Bush Sr. as unlikeable? Chris Matthews was on his meds? The campaign never went negative?

Or...


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:31 PM
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682, his main problem was when the Arsenio Hall show went off the air. Suddenly he had no venue for his consensus-building saxophone performances.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:32 PM
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But why did they love him? Sheer bloody-mindedness? Mercurial news-bosses? His allegiance to the big-money GOP platform?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:33 PM
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685 to 682. Why they loved Arsenio Hall remains a mystery.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:34 PM
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683: I didn't argue the likeability narrative is always a plot -- I don't have to in order to support my point. So long as it can be faked up at will, the fact that sometimes it's an honest reaction doesn't make it any more reliable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:34 PM
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every feminist over the age of fifty would etc
how rude
but rudeness is valued here, right?
i think older women, feminists including, are wiser, they have real life experience, they should be really listened to
younger feminists can be really annoying though
can't stand their aggressiveness
why not try to see and understand the other side of the argument


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:36 PM
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Perhaps the fix wasn't on in 1992. George Will was really pissed off at Bush I for many reasons, one of which was that Bush I didn't support Israel sufficiently.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:37 PM
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Sifu, stop stammering, man. Out with it! Drink a glass of water first, if you need to.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:37 PM
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I didn't argue the likeability narrative is always a plot

What? Sure you did, by denying that there's any such thing as likability aside from the created media narrative.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:38 PM
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Although actually, if I were leftier than I am, and more convinced that the media is always controlled by its corporate owners, I could come up with something pretty convincing about how loving Clinton allowed them to elect a right-wing Democrat while punishing a moderate Republican. I still think that Clinton was a better president than Bush Sr., and I don't actually have an opinion about the reasons for the media's loving treatment of Clinton during the 1992 election, but there's a fair argument to be made that his election pushed both the Democratic and the Republican parties to the right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:39 PM
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Why did the narrative -- that particular election -- swing towards the Democratic candidate?

Actually, the (Boomer) press corps thought that Bill & Hill would turn out to be the attractive couple they'd always imagined in the mirror. But then they came in and trashed the place. And, of course, it wasn't their place.

Also, N.B. - Bill was discounted after Iowa. Hence, COmeback Kid. As has been noted above, the media love a familiar narrative.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:39 PM
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687: but if it can be faked up at will why didn't the Republicans do it in 1992? They didn't want to win?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:39 PM
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Actually, the (Boomer) press corps thought that Bill & Hill would turn out to be the attractive couple they'd always imagined in the mirror.

So, they... liked them?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:41 PM
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ogged, this is pretty tiresome. When you're challenged you switch to defining "likeability" as useful political traits like charisma, rhetorical skill, etc. which people acknowledge. Then you switch back to the indefensible proposition. You really are trolling.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:41 PM
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where are we discussing the New Hampshire primary? Mike Gravel is going to be able to personally write and address a "thank you" note to ever single one of his voters between breakfast and lunch break tomorrow.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:41 PM
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Sure you did, by denying that there's any such thing as likability aside from the created media narrative.

I thought the argument was that in the case of national politicians, it's hard or impossible to assess likeability independent of the narrative narrative(s).


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:42 PM
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What? Sure you did, by denying that there's any such thing as likability aside from the created media narrative.

This is at least as inaccurate as my summations of your position(s), O. See 687. As well as probably a dozen other comments over the past 700 (egad!).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:42 PM
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When you're challenged you switch to defining "likeability" as useful political traits like charisma, rhetorical skill, etc. which people acknowledge

Where did I do that?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:43 PM
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700: most recently in 677.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:44 PM
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See LB's 569, JRoth. I don't see why my summary is inaccurate.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:44 PM
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691: No. I said (or, meant. I'm not checking for what I said.) that you can't tell if your reaction to the information you're getting as mediated by the media bears any relationship to what your reaction would be to the person if you knew them. Maybe the media is making them look good because they're lovable, and media figures want to treat them well out of genuine liking. Maybe the media is making them look bad because they're loathsome, and media figures want to treat them badly out of genuine loathing. Maybe the media is doing one or the other for policy reasons, and their genuine emotional reactions don't come into it much. Maybe a couple of crucial media figures are in the tank for one candidate or the other, and drag everyone else in their wake.

You've got no way of telling. The reaction you're seeing could be genuine, but if you don't know that it is, it's not information.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:44 PM
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687: but if it can be faked up at will why didn't the Republicans do it in 1992? They didn't want to win?

Don't be a dumbass, Sifu. The parties don't get to pick the narratives (the "Gore is a liar" narrative was invented by the press, not the RNC. Same deal with Whitewater, to a great extent).

When I see how pathetically in thrall to MSM/GOP propaganda my fellow "Dems" are, I despair for the future of my country.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:45 PM
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677 was a joke, Katherine.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:45 PM
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697: Yeah, I'm with Michael. Can we have a "ZOMG! Obama is losing by 113 votes right now!" thread?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:45 PM
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702: Huh. I guess putting LARGELY in all caps made it hard to read.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:46 PM
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See LB's 569, JRoth. I don't see why my summary is inaccurate.

"LARGELY"

Get serious, please.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:46 PM
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Dammit.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:47 PM
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when Ogged says "likeable" I think he means "probably game for anal sex"

and when you call Ogged a troll, I can't help but think you're making fun of his nose, which isn't nice


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:47 PM
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you can't tell if your reaction to the information you're getting as mediated by the media bears any relationship to what your reaction would be to the person if you knew them

Then we really have been talking past each other. I thought I said half a dozen times that I wasn't saying anything about what the candidate was "really" like.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:47 PM
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704: so why did the press pick that particular narrative? That's what I'm asking.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:47 PM
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Ok, ok, largely, so what practical effect do you think your concession for the small-ly has?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:48 PM
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The reaction you're seeing could be genuine, but if you don't know that it is, it's not information.

"Genuine" is to distinguish from the case in which the media explicitly decides to misreport its reaction? I'm not sure I believe it's that explicit.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:49 PM
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I think that likability has become a campaign spin meme and a wonk meme since 2000, far beyond its analytic or practical usefulness, and that it probably originated as a Republican talking point aimed at Gore (since Bush could be groomed to be more likable than Gore).

There also may be some likability factor accruing to actual individuals, and this certainly is something to think about, but this can be swallowed up in the more useful terms "good campaigner" and "has charisma".

Likability specifically seems tied to fluffy, empty, message-controlled, issue-obscuring campaigns pushing figurehead candidates with no ideas or ability.

Being a good campaigner has always helped, but when the wonk meta likability meme came to be part of the process by which people decided whom to support, something stupid happened. For one thing, the issue-free aspect of politics came to be accepted as dominant and legit even by people who cared about the issues. People felt better about supporting a candidate just because they liked him/her, or even just because they'd been told that other people found the candidate likable. This had a stupidizing effect on the already stupid political process, and the wonks were cheering that process along.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:49 PM
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There's a former NH congresssman named Dick Swett.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:49 PM
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712: Dunno. My 703 offers one possibility, another is that they weren't getting a lot of pressure one way or the other and did in fact actually like him, another possibility is spite against Bush Sr., who I don't think was well liked -- but I couldn't tell you. If I were thinking about the question in those terms back in 1992, I might have had a better idea.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:50 PM
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There's a former NH congresssman named Dick Swett.

Objectively unlickable.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:52 PM
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712, 713: The press is capricious and unreliable. who knows or cares what the combination of incentives are for any particular narrative. They are all unreliable except insofar as they rely on independently verifiable facts. Our duty, as citizens who don't want a fucking clown show for a gov't, is to watch vigilantly for when their narratives depart from verifiable facts, and pounce with whatever tools we have at our disposal. It is not our duty to nod sagely at the correctness of unverified narratives.

And now off to dinner. I assume this will all be worked out by the time I return.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:52 PM
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the media explicitly decides to misreport its reaction

The media isn't one thing, of course. If you've got a certain amount of dishonesty from influential people, it's perfectly possible that the rest of the reporters could fall into line sincerely. I'm sure plenty of them really do think that Gore is unbearably unpleasant to be around and are mystified by his continued popularity -- I'm just pretty sure that they wouldn't have had that sincere reaction if they hadn't been following the crowd.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:53 PM
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717: why on earth would they not be getting pressure? The press? In the middle of a Presidential campaign? If it was because they didn't like Bush Sr., well, is that because he was unlikeable? Or at least less likeable than Clinton? To the movers and shakers, at that point in history? Because it sure seemed like that at the time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:53 PM
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Is the trait that ogged is calling "likability" different from the trait that LB calls "charisma"?

If it's the same trait isn't there consensus that Bill Clinton is at the far end of the curve for that trait.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:54 PM
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713: People, in person, are appealing to each other or not -- while everyone will be appealing to some people and repellent to others, some people are more appealing/charming than others. Under the circumstances where media figures don't have an more pressing professional/employment-based pressures on them, the fact that a politician is personally appealing or repulsive to the media figures might have some effect on the coverage they get. But not necessarily.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:57 PM
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721: I'm not following your argument at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:58 PM
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725

I'm going to take 723 and declare victory, because I'm so very, very tired.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:58 PM
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This is a whole different 1000-comment argument, but no one has convinced me that the political wishes of media owners don't have a lot to do with the slant of media coverage.

Bush the First made a bunch of enemies, and Clinton got active or tacit support from some of them. (Bush was guilty of raising taxes once, not supporting Israel enough, and I think, not being aggressive enough against Cuba). I do remember the Bush-hatred. And Perot confused the issue too -- he drew ridicule and venom his way.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:59 PM
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Hey, me too!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 5:59 PM
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725, 727: If that's enough to make you declare victory, I've got a game I'd like to interest you in. We play craps, but the neat trick is that you're blindfolded. The dice are real, and the spots on the top are real, and I swear on my mother's grave that I'll tell you what they say, accurately, better than half the time.

Wanna play?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:02 PM
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729

Has someone already linked to this video?

Hillary is a fucking class act, and this kind of reaction is exactly what people want to see from her, I imagine.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:03 PM
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728: sure, loan me some money.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:03 PM
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731

Isn't yopur mother still out there killing buffalos, LB?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:03 PM
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732

Don't make trouble, Emerson.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:04 PM
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733

If you've got a certain amount of dishonesty from influential people, it's perfectly possible that the rest of the reporters could fall into line sincerely....I'm just pretty sure that they wouldn't have had that sincere reaction if they hadn't been following the crowd.

I don't disagree with that. I just think that (a) the reader can correct for it, (b) the press is less likely to fall in line with regard to certain people, (c) we can make better than coin-flipping guesses about whether someone falls into the category described by (b), and (d) it's not wrong to fold (c) into the decision process.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:04 PM
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I admire your insouciant faith in your ability to see through the information provided by the media to the unvarnished truth.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:09 PM
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It's not the unvarnished truth. You can see the truth, occluded, beneath the thick coat of varnish. But, look! It's ugly and brown, but there's (some of) the truth!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:11 PM
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I admire your insouciant faith in your ability to see through the information provided by the media to the unvarnished truth.

What can I say? I got skillz.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:11 PM
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Some of the "likability" of candidates to reporters comes from a sort of chummy old-boy network dynamic. It's just a way of recruiting supposedly-independent reporters onto one of the teams. These aren't pure personal relationships, they're business relationships, presumably underwritten by favors or a common interest of some sort.

Suppose your lawyer found the opposing lawyer and his client "likable." Wouldn't you fire him?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:12 PM
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Maybe! Or maybe that bit you're looking at is varnish! Some of it could be the truth, but it's awfully hard to tell which bits!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:12 PM
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738: the varnish has grain? That's futuristic!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:13 PM
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Or the result of brush marks. Looks like grain!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:14 PM
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Shit, from now on I only vote for candidates I dislike. Agree with, but dislike.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:15 PM
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585

My guess is that one reason likability took off in 2000 was that Gore was so damn unlikable. ... But Gore's unlikability in 2000 is a cold hard fact that the Unfoggetariat will never erase.

This gets at something interesting, namely that *unlikeability* is a much more identifiable property than *likeability*. I'd venture that one's reaction to the vast majority of people is simply neutrality, followed by unlikeability. Likeability is a much rarer quality.

Anyway, this thread is obviously off its rails, and trying to argue for the objectivity of likeability (as opposed to unlikeability, a little easier to argue) is hideously fraught.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:16 PM
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740: I've seen that before. You can always tell.

This analogy is looking a bit scuffed and dinged, though. Maybe it's time to replace it?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:20 PM
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585:
My guess is that one reason likability took off in 2000 was that Gore was so damn unlikable.

The Bush campaign had nothing to do with the propagation of the meme? It was never a Republican talking point? It didn't become an easy storyline for the media?

It was the obvious story that wrote itself, the overwhelming TRUTH that became immediatelt evident to everyone because it was so TRUE?

This is really galling. One of the things that the media hated about Gore is that he cared about the issues and talked about them all the time. Jesus Christ, if you are or were a guy like that, don't let people find out.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:23 PM
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Parsimon, this thread is not off its rails. It's actually been fun for those of us who like this kind of thing, and Ogged and I did confirm that the "likability" meme is in fact a spinoff of the 2000 Bush-Gore race. Though we differ greatly about interpretation.

If you feel like it, email me at emersonj at gmail dot com. I have a bookselling question.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:26 PM
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Comments from Katherine and LizardBreath remind me of something I haven't thought much about for a while, but developments in my day job happen to be relevant...

A lot of the crap we see beyond the mass media about "likeability" and stuff comes from people who want to comment as if they were campaign managers and the like. Sure, if I'm one of the few dozen people in the country who has a significant input into a major Democratic candidate's campaign, then I have to think really carefully about what I can do to work my media connections as best I can, apply counter- and counter-counter-strategies to expected media manipulation in their coverage of my candidate, and so on. To a lesser degree that'd be true if I'm one of the several thousand people working on lower-tier Democratic campaigns.

But I'm not.

I'm a voter with no particular connection to or influence on anyone's campaign. I make some donations, but not in large amounts, and can't take a very active role in volunteering, either. I'm just this guy, without even the advantages of two heads or a stolen starship. Something similar is true for nearly every one of us, and the exceptions don't seem inclined to grandstanding based on their real connections to political decision-making. If I ever do become a campaign coordinator, it's true that I'll have a lot of fast learning to do on this subject, but, duh, I'll have that with lots of others, too. And one of the things I've learned because of moving from fan to pro in a field with an active noisy fandom is that fannish speculation is actually no help at all in preparing for the real work, and often a genuine liability because of the reinforcement for false conceptions based on insufficient evidence but taken as true by the folks not doing the real work.

In the meantime, playacting about what I'd do if I ran a campaign is mostly distraction from the task I actually do have, of being a voter and constituent. Ditto for the rest of you.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:40 PM
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744: Emerson, if you picked up on 585 because I referred to it, I should be clear that my 742 isn't an endorsement of the view that unlikeability is actually an objective trait, outside of a very attenuated sense of that term.

As for the thread being off its rails, that impression just offers itself when you read 200 or 300 comments that seem to show people digging in their heels and making exaggerated claims they didn't originally intend. Maybe I'm wrong.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:41 PM
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Ya know, if you like sausages you don't want to watch them being made. But I actually enjoy the sausage-making processes which end up producing public opinion. (No reference to your post intended, I'd missed the original the first time around.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:44 PM
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John, re 748: Much agreement about the satisfactions of studying it. I'm just thinking that the question of what to do with the knowledge can run in a lot of different directions, some much more productive than others. I take a lot of your comments as useful as well as insightful because they don't loop back around to focus on what players in the existing system should do, but what the rest of us can/should do.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:47 PM
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737

"Suppose your lawyer found the opposing lawyer and his client "likable." Wouldn't you fire him?"

Unclear. Do you think a lawyer has to hate the opposition to be effective? Perhaps some do but I think that would make me a little uneasy as a client.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:52 PM
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Okay, now this is funny:

When asked what made the difference in Romney's projected loss to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one Romney advisor simply said, "Authenticity." Romney called to congratulate McCain at 8:20 p.m.

(But ogged is still wrong, even if he now tries to substitute "authenticity" for "likability").


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:52 PM
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Frankly, I also enjoy the chopping up heads and guts part of public opinion sausagemaking.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:53 PM
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750: You want a detached, impersonal relationship. You don't want a buddy relationship. Not with the opposing lawyer, and especially not with the opposing client.

Same way, you don't want a bank auditor going out for beers with the bank officers.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 6:55 PM
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753

I am not convinced. Why would the lawyers being buddies be worse for you than for your opponent?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 7:01 PM
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I had a horrible dream two nights ago that I knew was over when it hit the punchline, "And that's why you never ask how sausages get made." Shudder.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 7:06 PM
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Actually, lawyers can be buddies after hours even though they fight against one another in court. It's the guild thing.

The problem is that politicians and reporters are not supposed to belong to the same guild, but increasingly reporters behave as if they do.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 7:07 PM
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754: The buddy relationship is not commutative.

That said, thinking someone is likeable does not mean that you are buddies with them. Especially in the context of a courtroom where a large part of the act is convincing a jury to side with your client. eg: "We have to watch out for that guy, he's really likeable."


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 7:10 PM
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LB, Katherine, JRoth, et al. are right that The Issues >>> "likability" in figuring out who'd be the best president. And also right that insofar as this discussion makes the media focus more on "likability", this discussion is Bad.

They're even right that the media doesn't make their "likability" assessments based 100% on actual liability.

But Ogged/Sifu are clearly, clearly right that the media is seizing on some quality that does, yes, objectively exist. "Coolness"? The definition of "objective" here is that Ogged and Sifu, and LB/K/JR and most of the human race, can pick it out beforehand. If Obama's policy views were switched with Edwards' or Clinton's, Obama would still be cooler and more "likable" than either of them. That's how it goes.


Posted by: Dr. Zeuss | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 7:12 PM
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I would absolutely want the detached relationship, though in many contexts that's impossible. In buddied-up small towns some people have trouble getting legal representation at all, and sometimes people get bad representation.

Even if the odds were the same, having the buddy relationship working against me would make me terribly angry, whereas having it work for me wouldn't make me happy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 7:13 PM
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640: No kidding.

I think that "every feminist over 50 should stfu" pretty much explains why Hillary is "unlikable", not only to Ogged, but to an awful lot of Americans.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 7:23 PM
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What I've been saying is that in various ways various people are more charismatic or better campaigners, but that the "likability" thing which came out of the Bush-Gore campaign is mostly bogus. Not only isn't Bush really likable (we have had only very controlled looks at him, and the unlikable stuff has been scanted), and not only is Gore not as unlikable as that, but the idea that "likability" is a legitimate reason to vote for a candidate was openly proclaimed by the media during that campaign, mostly because that was one of the few areas where the almost-unknown and talentless Bush could compete.

And now it's a pervasive media lackey / policy wonk meme, but that's just part of the degradation of our political process.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 7:24 PM
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Take heart, B: in my ethnic working-class Queens neighbourhood, a lot of guys of all ages like Hillary. No, I mean they really like her.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 7:25 PM
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Good for them.

IA, serious question: do you think that if Clinton loses to Obama, (1) there will be male gloating; and (2) if so, that'll keep women away from the polls in the general election?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 7:32 PM
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763:
1. Yes.
2. Probably not. Women generally aren't that petty.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 7:38 PM
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Mmmm. I'm feeling pretty petty at the moment.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 7:40 PM
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pretty much explains why Hillary is "unlikable"

I dislike Hillary for the same reasons I dislike Lieberman. They're Rockefeller Republicans.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 7:45 PM
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See, that's cool. Make it personal if you like, so long as you're reacting to her positions.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 7:47 PM
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And it isn't even the positions so much, it's that their wing of the party is way way way overrepresented in the leadership and has been for a decade and a half now.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:04 PM
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I'd just like to point out that HRC is winning in NH. Therefore, she is objectively likable. We've long since proven that likable candidates are more likely to win, and to be effective officeholders.

Welcome to our new over-50 feminist overlords.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:27 PM
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769: Yes. my wife just told me the "crying" is now officially a "humanizing moment".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 8:43 PM
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682: The media made Clinton the nominee in 1992. They loved him. For some reason he disappointed them, and they turned on him.

Not sure of all the currents, but at ground level, Travelgate played a role. At lot more there than met the eye, and most of it reflected extremely poorly on the press corps, who viewed the Travel office as their own little fiefdom: many White House journalists "point proudly to expensive collectibles and furnishings in their homes that were collected from around the world and on which they paid not one penny of duty. . . . All this was abetted by the White House travel office." Just one piece of the judgment that they "trashed" the place.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:10 PM
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771: Thanks, JP. I never did understand what the hell went on there.

Fucking press corps.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-08 9:35 PM
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I think that the Gingrich takeover was intertwined with the press's Clinton trashing. Gingrich took over the Republican Party in the House in early 1994, and became Speaker in early 1995. Clinton took office at the beginning of 1993, so he had only a year without Gingrich nipping at him.

I can't remember the chronology of the Clinton trashing, though. As far as I know, Gingrich's takeover was internal Republican politics combined with on-the-ground political organiuzing for the1994 election -- I don't think that he was helped much by the press.

Subject to correction.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 9-08 6:06 AM
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Yeah, I don't know from the beginning of the Clinton administration -- I was out of the country in 1993 and 1994, with no news but a subscription to Newsweek. Which is no news.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 9-08 7:25 AM
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773: Yes, the Gingrich stuff certainly comes into play. I want to go do some research on this one and put together the timeline on what all happened when. I think it was a convergence of various streams. Elements that I think played a role:
• The 25-year mantra of the "liberal" press taking hold. Growth of cable news. Limbaugh & talk radio.
• Gingrich revolution (and this was greatly abetted by the fact that the old line Dems in Congress really had gotten complacent).
• Early "missteps" by Clinton—don't ask don't tell, Travelgate.
• And I think the shock of a "boomer" in the WH sinking in, compounded by Arkansas "Mafia".
• (not as sure on this one) Continuing transformation of the press from "ink-stained wretches" to upper-middle-class and flat out rich socially-connected brahmins fueled by TV money. (clearly a matter of degree - it was always that at the top end.)

These things all merge together, I do need to go read more on it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 9-08 7:36 AM
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775: I think you're underrating the extent to which the then-existing Dem political structures ended up setting themselves against Clinton. (This is why I don't, in the end, think it's fair to blame the UHC disaster entirely on HRC: she/the Administration didn't have that much political protection from other Dems who had been in DC long enough to become political institutions.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 9-08 7:44 AM
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Yeah, I think that this "Gingrich revolution (and this was greatly abetted by the fact that the old line Dems in Congress really had gotten complacent)," from 775, touches on the same thing. The Republicans in Congress developed disciplined party loyalty under Gingrich -- the Democrats were still doing whatever seemed like a good idea to each of them individually, and screwing the President's policy initiatives seemed like a good idea.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 9-08 7:49 AM
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766/768 gets it right. In a year like this, the Dems really ought to be able to do better than that.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 9-08 7:50 AM
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I also suspect that the neocon takeover of the opinion-maker cliques was progressive and wasn't quite complete in 1992. Clinton was a New Dem and neoliberal but not quite a neocon, and while the neocons were happy enough with him, after 1994 they saw the way toward even better things, and they dumped him.

George Will was tacitly friendly to Clinton both in 1992 and 2000. "We could have done a lot worse" was his valedictory. In 2000 both parties were more right wing than they had been in 1988, and George was happy about that. Without Clinton and the New Dems the possibility of a liberal takeover would still have been there.

On free trade Bush the First and Clinton were more or less identical, and each thought of it as his biggest accomplishment.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 9-08 7:56 AM
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the Democrats were still doing whatever seemed like a good idea to each of them individually, and screwing the President's policy initiatives seemed like a good idea.

Just to be clear, I don't think they were screwing him just for the sake of screwing him. Clinton really did reset the direction of the party a bit, while all of the powerful people had won elections and maintained positions based on the prior organization of ideas and interests. Bill got attacked from the left (or "left," as I seem to recall Kerrey and Moynihan particularly) a fair bit early on. They thought he caved too much to/agreed too much with Republicans.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 9-08 7:57 AM
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On gays in the military and health care, Democrats attacked Clinton from the right too.

I hate Democrats, as I've said before, but that's the two-party system for you.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 9-08 8:00 AM
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On gays in the military and health care, Democrats attacked Clinton from the right too.

Yeah, I definitely remember on gays in the military. If a lot of your old bulls come the region of the country least comfortable with the idea, that probably shouldn't be that surprising.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 9-08 8:05 AM
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You know, I only just read the Steinem op-ed now, and I'm dumbfounded by this:

What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age.

On what bizarro planet is voting for the most conservative candidate in the race, who represents the corporate/lobbyist DLC wing of the party, an expression of radicalism?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 9-08 8:06 AM
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774: I was in the country, but due to a variety of factors was not paying very close attention. A big ramp up in work and family responsibilities was a primary cause, but a less honorable reason was that I just kind of mentally withdrew, "content" that at least the GHW Bush/Reagan regime had ended. A secondary effect of this lack of attention, and one of the reasons that I am so adamant on focusing on media storylines, is that it was only well into Clinton's 2nd term that I began to examine my own informal attitudes and realize how shaped they were by those narratives.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 9-08 8:07 AM
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On what bizarro planet is voting for the most conservative candidate in the race, who represents the corporate/lobbyist DLC wing of the party, an expression of radicalism?

On Planet Steinem, where the civil rights movement is just kinda eh, and Jim Crow and lynch mobs never happened.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 01- 9-08 8:11 AM
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Who was it who said that Thatcher made them feel good as a woman, even though her policies were all wrong? I understand the sentiment, but occasionally I seem to run into individual purely single-issue feminist or GLBT voters, and I just hate them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 9-08 8:13 AM
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On what bizarro planet is voting for the most conservative candidate in the race, who represents the corporate/lobbyist DLC wing of the party, an expression of radicalism?

I think there's a fair bit of confusion in that statement. I do think older women are much more likely to either (a) have suffered under past gender regimes, or (b) hit the point in their careers when gender clearly matters again. But old people just are more conservative often enough. We can look at the age splits for the Republicans to see that, as I recall. Or Clinton's breakouts, I believe: she was always winning old people. And Steinem's at the DLC end of feminism, anyway, as I recall.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 9-08 8:14 AM
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I'm about 200 comments behind in reading this thread, but a search of the word "Toles" turns up nothing, so:

Toles

There's a discussion upthread about how we know Gore was intrinsically a robot in 2000 because he was always considered a robot and therefore this was an quality that wise people could recognize in advance. This argument seemingly contradicts the argument - also put forward by the Gore-is-intrinsically-unlikable faction - that Gore was no longer portrayed as a jerk by the media after 2000 because he suddenly ceased being a jerk.

I'll grant that Gore had a problem finding an appropriate tone for his interactions with the media in 2000 - but that was largely because of a screwed up media, not a screwed-up Gore. Toles gets it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01- 9-08 8:37 AM
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