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Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Sound of Nothing

posted by on March 27 at 8:51 AM

George Packer on the political-news vacuum we’re in, Hillary/Obama-wise, until April 22nd:

What we are witnessing is a controlled experiment in modern campaigning: eliminate policy differences between two candidates; space out the primary schedule so that it remains empty for seven weeks, thereby creating a political-news vacuum in which the candidates and their supporters continue to give speeches, hold press conferences, or blog nonstop; and subject every word to the scrutiny and amplification of the twenty-four-hour news machine. The predictable result is that two appealing politicians will quickly start to lose their lustre, until, by the time Pennsylvania gets to vote, on April 22nd, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will seem like the smallest, meanest, dirtiest, lowest, most dishonest candidates ever to run for office in the United States.

Rest of it’s here; that’s just the middle. And here, by the way, is Hendrik Hertzberg’s blog, also fantastic.

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Well, they could, y'know, just focus on selling themselves. Or at least bash McCain.

Posted by tsm | March 27, 2008 9:02 AM

We're just loving the fight. Keep it up!

Posted by McCain FTW! | March 27, 2008 9:02 AM


Posted by Mr. Poe | March 27, 2008 9:07 AM

So.....I've become cynical again. Dammit. For a few weeks there I had hope. meh! This way's easier.

Posted by heywhatsit | March 27, 2008 9:09 AM


Posted by umvue | March 27, 2008 9:28 AM

This is ridiclous! By almost any standards, this has been one of the most civil campaigns in electoral history. It's fascinating how the public buys this acrimony meme hook line and sinker.

Maybe it's because our 24 hrs news cycle just reduces our collective stamina for carping. Maybe it's because we're all hiding behind our computer screens and have forgotten what it's like to acutally engage in spirited debate. Or maybe this is just another phony story trotted out to sell ads.

But I expect more from The Stranger. Christopher is obviously no student of history. Jeez, read up on this stuff before you make some knee-jerk post!

Posted by fluteprof | March 27, 2008 9:34 AM

I have to agree whole heartedly with Hertzberg’s remarks on Obama's race speech. I was a little amazed to see that the transcript of the speech stayed up on the New York Times list of the 10 most emailed stories for an entire week. It didn't move down to the #11 spot until this past Tuesday. I think that the chord that it struck with Americans has yet to be fully appreciated.

Posted by Paul In SF | March 27, 2008 9:45 AM

It's a war of attrition. That makes it ugly and hard to look at. Worse is there is no end in sight.

@6, this is a PRIMARY. This is HRC destroying the party for her own benefit. This is her making the willful decision to destroy the Democratic Party's chance to win the White House for her own political gain and it's the ugliest thing I've ever seen.

Posted by heywhatsit | March 27, 2008 10:01 AM

I think we should have a 24/7 uncensored McCain reporting news channel.

You know, fun things like him singing "Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran", or saying we should attack Iran cause they are behind 9-11 (they're Shiite, we were attacked by Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and Iraq is Sunni).

Just so we know how crazy he really is.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 27, 2008 10:29 AM

I realized why the whole "destroying the party" meme really irks me and it's because it's such a Republican thing to say. It's like when Zell Miller gave the speech at the 2004 convention being like how DARE the democrats run a candidate during a time of war. It's like ... wha?

This is the whole damn point of a primary. Yes, the primary system is effed. Yes, the 24 hour media sucks. But to suggest that one candidate is "destroying the party" simply because she refuses to quit the race is ridiculous.

Mark my words, Barack Obama (who I concede will be the nominee) will come out of this a stronger and better candidate for having gone through all of this in April as opposed to say August. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Kerry, I think, suffered because he wasn't prepared to fight. His whole loss is largely attributable to the Swift Boat campaign, which he dealt with terribly.

Obama is not going to make that mistake because he's been forced to fight in the primary. America has notoriously short attention spans. All of this Wright nonsense will be old news by November. It's best that all of this comes up now, instead of in October.

Posted by arduous | March 27, 2008 10:30 AM

@7 - i guess that answers the initial criticism of the obama speech, which was that the american public was too dumb to be moved by it. @8 - the meteoric drop in the approval rating of "hils" in the new wall street journal/nbc poll seems to confirm that a lot of people think her campaign and her candidacy is pretty ugly.

what this electoral season has taught us so far is that the 24 hour news cycle may not be as powerful as the media likes to think. they have been wrong about polling, they have been wrong on their analysis, and for the past several years the 4th estate has been on the wrong side of the people.

to what degree is this due to corporatization of media, the rise of "infotainment", or just generally being out of touch with reality, could be subject of many discussions.

either way, obama is an interesting campaign because he has enough substance that he has an inertia that doesn't get knocked off course by the typical gamesmanship that have defined campaigns for the past fifteen or twenty years. the failure of clinton's kitchen sink strategy proves that.

Posted by some dude | March 27, 2008 10:31 AM

"This is HRC destroying the party for her own's the ugliest thing I've ever seen." hoo, cry me a river. Calm down, too. Either you are blind or ignorant -- see ted van dyk at cross cut, this campaign is no worse than any other primary.

2. anyway bitching doesn't achieve anything. Either she won't quit because she's a bitchy bitch or (and this is the case) she like 99% of all candidates isn't a quitter. LBJ didn't quit, Kennedy didn't quit, etc. The Japanese didn't quit the nazis didn't quit w. churchill didn't quite nixon didn't quit obama doesn't quit -- hope, remember!! -- so stop dreaming about someone quitting.

3. To win in the fall and help get her out of the race, pay her off with VP.-- a graceful exit from the field with honor -- this is typically how you get an army fighting you to quit

it's called a negotiated surrender

best thing is just by talking up VP you would discourage her own supprters and look better and start get more of their votes!
make them tell her to take it!
just starting a discussion thru

very art of war-ish, no?

All polls show Obama losing key states to McCain now. Do an ECV map - McCain wins.
For Obama to win in general, he needs to maximize support from HRC fans.

You know how to attract flies, don't you?

Posted by unPC | March 27, 2008 10:46 AM

fluteprof @6: By almost any standards, this has been one of the most civil campaigns in electoral history.

arduous @10: Mark my words, Barack Obama (who I concede will be the nominee) will come out of this a stronger and better candidate for having gone through all of this in April as opposed to say August.

I've got to agree with my two fellow Hillary supporters here. (A) This has to be one of the most civil nomination battles in electoral history. And (B) Obama will only emerge the stronger general-election candidate having weathered this relentless, severe storm of civility.

You know what they say about civility. What civility doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

Posted by cressona | March 27, 2008 10:48 AM

Whether this primary is unusually ugly or not, I am sick of hearing that waiting until August for a nominee is no big deal. Newsflash: that only gives us a couple months to campaign. How does that help us?

Posted by keshmeshi | March 27, 2008 10:57 AM

@14, I have a feeling that the nominee will be decided in June. If it's not though, that's the fault of neither candidate, but is the fault of supers who pussyfoot about committing until August.

But I think it will be decided in June.

Posted by arduous | March 27, 2008 11:09 AM

Perhaps Hillary might at least not do her part to publicize awful hit jobs from the right-wing American Spectator - the same magazine that wrote equivalent hit jobs about her family for years, no less.

If the "she'll take the whole party down to win" line is just hyperbole, she's not doing much at all to dissuade us from it.

Posted by tsm | March 27, 2008 11:09 AM

I think we should go back to the good old days when people would say "Hey, Ma! Where's my Pa? Gone to Washington, ha ha ha!" and just have the old race-baiting sexual innuendos out in the open ...

What sheltered lives people lead now ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 27, 2008 11:09 AM

kesh@14, most observers agree that this will be over one way or the other by June. Supes will line up one way or the other after the last primaries/caucuses. 5 mo is more than enough time for a general election.

Posted by Big Sven | March 27, 2008 11:10 AM

you're right tsm. which is ALSO why the stranger shouldn't be running 15 year old comments about hillary maybe going into the marines right? or that obama shouldn't keep bringing up the whole kosovo gaffe?

because what if she does defy all expectations and get you know 65% of the vote in the next elections?

look, both sides are bringing up crap about the other. it's ridiculous to suggest that obama supporters have a pass to bring up whatever the hell they want about clinton, but clinton supporters can't draw attention to anything about obama or else they're "destroying the party."

Posted by arduous | March 27, 2008 11:13 AM

...meanwhile I sit at SeaTac because my flight to MN was delayed for SIX FUCKING HOURS and my poor Mom tries to go find the wallet that she lost while I watch all of our shit...

Posted by Big Sven | March 27, 2008 11:14 AM


You've said some stupid things before but that was a doozie. How did you get Nazis and WW2 Japan out of my comment? Jesus, dude. Get a grip.

Posted by heywhatsit | March 27, 2008 11:46 AM

For all those of you who are tired of waiting for the outcome of this race (warning, spolier alert): HILARY WINS!

Asked and answered. Now go about your normal daily business.

Posted by fluteprof | March 27, 2008 12:21 PM

HILARY? like as in hilary duff? hope not.

Posted by cochise. | March 27, 2008 12:26 PM

Nice try. Now go put away that tar brush andlet your amygdalia calm down. Didn't get nazis out of your comment. Got the notion folks are pissing and moaning too much about HRC out of your comment as it is totally undproductive and won't change anything as people don't quit, and to make that point, used disparate examples from history and politics including good guys and bad guys from ww2.

Or didn't you realize who w. churchill is?

anyway, you avoid the point which is: knowing she's not going to quit, no matter what you or anyone else thinks about that, what can Obama do so WE WIN IN THE FALL?

now back to some logical type thinking:
from lindsey in the WSJ:
re: FL and MI-- ignoring FL and MI as Obama wants is also what the GOP wants this "would doubtless hurt the Democrats in both states in November."

Gee, that's bad.

On the other hand if we seat FL and MI based on the "early" votes that were had (lindsey makes a minor upward adjustment for O. in MI) then "Obama's current edge in pledged delegates [goes] to 115 from 167" and he's still ahead in total votes case by hearly half a million.

Obama can give on this issue, he's still ahead in pledged delegates and still projected to win! And it helps set him and us up for victory in the fall by not creating two large states where we are so far behind.

So....why is he fighting on this?? When it hurts us in the Fall in two largish states?

And more: what kind of visionary leader is Obama if he can't make a tough call to "lose" a battle that doesn't matter, makes him look good and fair and unity minded, takes away a prime argument of HRC, and helps him AND US win in the Fall?

Remember that guy Churchill? He retreated out of Dunkirk to create a stronger position that enabled our side win the war.

Being more strategic on FL and MI would help Obama and help us in the fall general election.

Posted by unPC | March 27, 2008 12:36 PM

Not that anyone cares, but my Mom found her wallet. And we went home so she could take a nap before the (rescheduled) flight.

It will be interesting to see which Obama supporters welcome the new order when Clinton wins the nomination, and which ones just spontaneously combust.

Posted by Big Sven | March 27, 2008 1:54 PM


It'll be interesting to see you and fluteprof eat crow in a few months.

Posted by keshmeshi | March 27, 2008 1:57 PM

@25 - glad your mom found her wallet.

Whilst I realize opinion polls mean very little, Obama is favored over Clinton only in the Philly area. HRC has Pittsburgh. Hell, she marched in our St. Pat's parade (and I've heard ours is the second largest in the U.S., behind only Boston) along with our fairly cute, young, popular Mayor. Most of the Dems around here loved Bill, and people around here tend to be loathe to change. A vote for HRC is akin to a vote for Bill.

Sorry Obamaphiles, but Clinton is going to take PA.

Posted by JAM in PGH | March 27, 2008 5:47 PM

I'll tell you what makes a compelling enormous penis!!!

Posted by Christopher Frizzelle's Enormous Penis | March 27, 2008 9:37 PM

kesh@26: crow or humble pie? I like pie.

Posted by Big Sven | March 28, 2008 9:12 AM

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