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  • An Uncomfortable Thought

    Posted by Ginny on September 29th, 2012 (All posts by )

    “They” say Romney is grasping at straws; another “they” says Obama spends far too much time in some states to indicate those electoral votes are safely tucked away. I have no idea; I know what I want to believe. And it isn’t my impression people are flocking to become Democrats.

    I remember 1972, though, and despite the impending landslide few candidates acted with greater insecurity. (1960 might – understandably – have prompted paranoia.) Just saying.

    On the other hand, of course, does anything from the economic news to the president’s speech at the UN & handling of Benghazi to such projects as the “Obamaphone” to his energy policies to his attitude toward small business . . . indicate that a sane person would vote for this man? Perhaps I’ve built a Pauline Kael world (but a sane one) about me.

    And Romney, well, Romney’s solidity attracts; he may seem stiff but he does seem real. And what he’s done is real. He doesn’t see himself as “eye candy” – he wouldn’t; he’s husband and father, boss and worker. His instincts about business and people seem good – he chose Ryan; Obama chose Biden. Doesn’t that, in a sense, sum up the difference? One acts (and explains well) and the other speaks (and not too coherently). Obama molded ACORN, Romney molded the Olympics and led it to solvency.

    (Okay, another rant. Perhaps I should stop – these don’t add to the dialogue & attract trolls, but it does help my blood pressure.)

     

    33 Responses to “An Uncomfortable Thought”

    1. Joe Citizen Says:

      “Perhaps I’ve built a Pauline Kael world (but a sane one) about me.”

      Yes Ginny, but I can assure you, Pauline Kael thought of herself as sane as well. That is part of the problem.

      As a general rule – when your only explanation for why a majority of your fellow citizens may well vote a certain way is that it is a question of sanity, then perhaps it is not _their_ sanity that is really the problem.

      To wit: “Romney’s solidity attracts; he may seem stiff but he does seem real.”

      That sounds almost Noonanian. A rather stunning statement. Few politicians in recent history have, by general consensus, more richly earned the flip-flopper label – few politicians have had more people, even on their side of things, wondering just what this guy believes. Sorry, but you are really out on the tails when it comes to this.

    2. Jonathan Says:

      Nice dodge, but then you’ve obviously had plenty of practice. You ignore the substance of Ginny’s argument, suggest that she is insane and then attack Romney. A more secure person might try to counter Ginny’s argument by explaining why Obama is a better candidate than Romney.

      The economy stinks and it’s Bush’s fault. No, wait: The economy is doing great and it’s Romney’s fault. Hmm. Did you know that Obama killed Bin Laden?

    3. Scotia Says:

      This is an interesting, Joe C., you imply that Pauline Kael was not sane; however, from your posts it appears that, politically (I have no idea about your opinions of the cinema), you and she are simpatico. Hmm . . . .

    4. Joe Citizen Says:

      Jonathan,

      Is the fact that Obama is continuing to campaign a sign that he is not taking the election for granted? Yes, I suppose so. Seems to me to be a smart attitude on his part, not necessarily a refutation of the trends in all the polls.

      “The economy stinks and it’s Bush’s fault.”

      I have never said such a thing. The economy stinks because there was a massive meltdown in the financial world and the bursting of a housing bubble that left tens of millions of people underwater on their mortgages and years behind their expectations on their retirement plans. As a result, they did the rational thing and stopped spending. Given that this is a consumer-spending driven economy, there cannot be any return to normal prosperity until the demand returns and that won’t happen until most people emerge from this hole. The stock market at least had done well, going from around 8000 to 13500 since Obama has been in office. But mortgages are still an ongoing problem. Its not like there are any quick and easy solutions to that that do not involve governmental action.

      “The economy is doing great and it’s Romney’s fault.”

      ???

      “Did you know that Obama killed Bin Laden?”

      Imagine that. A politician taking credit for an actual accomplishment.
      Just can’t please you, can we J?

      And btw, do you actually disagree with my characterization of Romney?

    5. Bill Brandt Says:

      Obama didn’t kill bin Laden – the navy SEALs did.

    6. Bill Brandt Says:

      Ginny – in some ways this reminds me of Reagan-Carter 1979 – can’t say anyone can know with certainty what the outcome will be but having huge crowds for Romney-Ryan and unable to fill stadium crowds for Obama (and lets face it probably bussed-in union activists) – is a good sign.

      Only “poll” that matters is in November

      It is funny – all these Beltway pundits who were for Romney during the primary are having 2nd thoughts – saying he isn’t running his campaign “right” and those of us who really preferred someone else – Perry – Santorum – are backing Romney now.

      The debate – this Wednesday? – will be illuminating. One of the women in our HOA – cancelled our Wed meeting so she – an active Obama supporter – could watch the debates.

      I’ll be watching it too.

      I think Romney will do fine.

    7. Mike K Says:

      Ginny, you were right on about attracting trolls.

      I think Romney is doing OK but we are denying the validity of the majority of the polls. I think you and I are right about that but it does take some deep confidence in the American voter to believe that the Obama phone voter is not in the majority. About 47%, I would say. :)

      Romney was right about that but it wasn’t very politic to say it and he had to know that enemies are getting into those fund raiser meetings. The Obama revelation about bitter clingers was actually from a supporter who was upset at the cliche. I think the Romney statement was no big deal although Obama is trying hard and it does fit their desired story.

      I really wish that Romney would say more about the Benghazi screw-up but he may be too cautious after being attacked by the Obama press.

      The Reagan win in 1980, and 1984 for that matter, depended on the debates. I think that will be true of this year as well. Bush I looking at his watch in his debate with Clinton was an error that has been forgotten. I was watching Ford when he made his blunder about Poland. I was screaming at the TV. The press was also hostile to Bush in 1992 but I have seen nothing like this love affair with Obama.

      Ann Althouse, on her blog, announced that she is upset at the “racism” of Rush Limbaugh playing the audio of the idiot woman about the cell phone so Althouse has decided to vote for Obama again. This, to me, is another example of the uncurious nature of the Obama supporters who think the economy is fine and he couldn’t do anything about it if he wanted to. They seem to believe, with him, that America is in decline and they aren’t too upset at the prospect. After all, if the economy was booming, we’d be releasing all those green house gases. It is an odd combination of magical thinking and nihilism. To quote from one of my favorite columns again.

      Gorbachev and Obama do have one major thing in common, and that is the belief that, regardless of what the ruler does, the polity he rules must necessarily continue. This is perhaps the most essential, if seldom acknowledged, insight of the post-modern “liberal” mind: that if you take the pillars away, the roof will continue to hover in the air.

      Gorbachev seemed to assume, right up to the fall of the Berlin Wall and then beyond it, that his Communist Party would recover from any temporary setbacks, and that the long-term effects of his glasnost and perestroika could only be to make it bigger and stronger.

      There is a corollary of this largely unspoken assumption: that no matter what you do to one part of a machine, the rest of the machine will continue to function normally.

      I saw another piece today attributing this belief to the ignorance of economics on the part of the left. Zero sum economics is part of their world view. Creation of wealth does not compute. For this reason, they do not see the attraction of Romney for those of us who believe in classical economics. We know about the Broken window fallacy of Bastiat; they don’t. Hence “cars for clunkers” and other nonsense. It might be enough to re-elect Obama but I hope not.

    8. Ginny Says:

      At some point in the late nineties I began to realize – reading Hayek, maybe, listening to people I knew – that it wasn’t a zero sum game. The minute I got my head around that idea, everything has been better. The idea that we have responsibility is, well, wonderful. It isn’t what someone else does; it’s what we do. That’s bracing. Scary. But wonderful. I wished I’d thought that way more when I ran my business – I think I would have done better. And been happier. But that’s life. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to figure out the most obvious things. That’s why Romney’s policies would be bracing but, in the long run, lead us to more productive and fulfilled lives. And why Obama’s policies seem to me immensely sad. Cars for clunkers was immensely sad to anyone raised to believe that waste was criminal. We’ll never, as individuals or as a society, regain that energy and creativity and joy that the last four years have dissipated.

    9. grey eagle Says:

      Speaking as a market researcher: If you have a sample of 100 respondents, selected at random, and the outcome is a 50-50 split (50% Romney, 50% Obama) then there is a 95% chance that the error level is 8.2% – i.e. if there were 20 polls (n=100) conducted at the same time, 19 of them would show a split somewhere between 50.0-50.0 and 41.8 – 58.2). 1 poll would be outside this error range.

      sample 50-50 split
      size error level
      100 8.2%
      200 7.1
      300 5.8
      500 4.5
      1000 3.2
      2000 2.2
      5000 1.4
      10,000 1.1
      50,000 0.4

      Large samples are more accurate than small ones.

      The survey is a snapshot in time. Like all snapshots, it only shows what people are doing and thinking at the moment the snapshot is taken. 1 second later and things could be different. 1 month later and the happy couple in the snapshot might be in divorce court. Attitudes change.

      Most market research professional do not believe in weighting data. Weighting data is done to correct an error in the data – eg not enough Dems, not enough Conservatives, too many men, too many old women, not enough good looking young girls.

      But if the sample is wrong in one way, than it is probably wrong in every way and canot be trusted.

      All the research we see reported by the MSM is weighted to fix a demographic type error. Its unbelievable.

      Ask to see the unweighted data.

    10. VSSC Says:

      “We’ll never, as individuals or as a society, regain that energy and creativity and joy that the last four years have dissipated.”

      Oh I don’t know but we’ve got some work to do first.

    11. Joe Citizen Says:

      “Obama didn’t kill bin Laden – the navy SEALs did.”

      Oh, thats brilliant Bill. Actually, the Navy SEALS did not kill bin Laden, the bullets they fired did.

      jeeez…

    12. Dan from Madison Says:

      Grey Eagle – interesting comment, thanks for leaving it.

    13. Joe Citizen Says:

      “They seem to believe, with him, that America is in decline and they aren’t too upset at the prospect. ”

      Neither Obama nor his supporters believes America is in decline.

      If you want to know why y’all have had such a stunning lack of success in turning the American people, it may well be because y’all have such a deep need to tell yourselves these fairy-tales. I doubt that anyone outside your small circles find this type of stuff to be credible.

      Ginny chimes in:
      “We’ll never, as individuals or as a society, regain that energy and creativity and joy that the last four years have dissipated.”

      And you think “THE LEFT” are the ones who see America in decline??? What a downright pathetic statement this is. I can assure you – neither I nor any of my fellow travelers see the world like this.

    14. Mike K Says:

      Joe, the reason I believe you are a troll is related to your attitude.

      “a deep need to tell yourselves these fairy-tales.”

      ” a downright pathetic statement ”

      You don’t want discussion, you want to make these angry statements and feel good about yourself. You told us off. Sort of like Obama feeling he was “behind enemy lines” in his one brief experience in the private world.

      You are not welcome here, Joe. You will not be banned, as you would if you had made the mirror image comments at a leftist site. But I do think you should be aware that we all know what you are.

      Now, I’;m sorry about ignoring my rule about not responding to trolls.

      This is actually a nice group with interests far afield from politics. You aren’t that sort.

    15. Mike K Says:

      Grey Eagle, thanks for the comment about polls. I took a course in survey design at Dartmouth, as I was getting my degree in medical policy issues. There are lots of warnings about how to do surveys, especially with the poor and uneducated. We were taught that, especially with that group, design of a survey is critical. The respondents will often give the answer they believe is desired by the pollster and one way to avoid that bias is to ask the question from two points of view, one that implies a yes and the other that implies a no. Or the equivalent.

      When I learned that present day phone polls are only getting a 9.6% response rate, I concluded that we are seeing a deeply flawed process. Then we read about the White House threatening Gallup. Everybody knows the Gibson Guitar story and can take the hint. The GM dealership story is another example.

    16. Ginny Says:

      Liked your point, Mike.
      Actually, I’m optimistic. It has been my experience that Americans like to take responsibility – not push the debt down the road to their children, not assume that people that die in Mexico because of American policies don’t count, not coveting the goods of others, not wanting to retire early on the backs of younger generations, not thinking in tribal or factional terms but rather in broadly universal ones. They don’t trust people who don’t take responsibility – who say it’s the other guy’s fault. They know such a guy is likely to double down on failed policies and doesn’t have sufficient courage or imagination to face the effect of policies that had seemed right but turned out wrong.

      That’s the world of business, of course. Bob Kerrey once said that running for office was like putting out a new choice on his restaurant’s menu – no matter how good he thought it was, if people weren’t buying, they weren’t buying. The sensible thing was to cut his losses and take it off the menu. If a business could be turned around, well, it could. If it couldn’t, well, it couldn’t. But an idealogue is absolutely certain that the idea – the new dish at the center of the menu – is good; it is other’s fault that people aren’t buying; or, perhaps, in the best of all worlds, it can be the only thing on the menu in a restaurant people have to go to. Kerrey may be a Democrat but he was also right. And I suspect he could distinguish crony capitalism from the free market. On the other hand, it looks like his place on the current menu will not be a big seller, either.

    17. Joe Citizen Says:

      “Joe, the reason I believe you are a troll is related to your attitude.”

      So, the original poster, who called half the people in the country insane (including me, btw) has the proper attitude? If I were to take that as a role model, or some of your statements (!), would I be more or less off-putting?

      “You don’t want discussion, you want to make these angry statements..”

      I have actually had some interesting discussions here. As for angry statements, look in the mirror.

      “You are not welcome here, Joe.”

      By you. Don’t break my heart. If no one ever engages with me, I will go away. But I won’t accept your verdict as if you have been given the right to speak for all. Have you?

    18. Mike K Says:

      ” It has been my experience that Americans like to take responsibility – not push the debt down the road to their children, not assume that people that die in Mexico because of American policies don’t count, not coveting the goods of others, not wanting to retire early on the backs of younger generations, not thinking in tribal or factional terms but rather in broadly universal ones. They don’t trust people who don’t take responsibility – who say it’s the other guy’s fault. ”

      Ginny, I agree but my experience of living in California for 56 years has shaken me. I think that is still true in red states. I hope so.

    19. Bill Brandt Says:

      Condescending, doesn’t address the issues but instead attacks the messenger and/or source, if ignoring him is all it takes to make him disappear, I’m in.

    20. CAR Says:

      Mike K — I believe you are wrong when you say that “Althouse has decided to vote for Obama again.” The last she has said publicly on this (as far as I know) is that she is “a genuinely undecided voter, watching and thinking these last few weeks.” She said that yesterday evening in a comment to a post on her site.

    21. Death 6 Says:

      “fellow travelers”? Hmm. I thought that term had gone out of use in the early 1960’s, I guess it must have lived on in the insular progressive universe. Beam me up, Scotty, no fellow travelers here.

      Bill,
      ditto.

      Mike

    22. grey eagle Says:

      The problem with the MSM polls is that they are trying to predict the outcome of the election.

      However, polling is a snapshot in time and, if the sample is large enough and random, it can tell us which candidate the people in America prefer.

      Polling cannot predict the future.

      Polling can generate information a campaign can use to identify the groups that supports each candidate. There is plenty of data on how to reach each group, if you know which groups prefer your candidate.

      A questionnaire should ask at least these questions.
      1 Who do you prefer, Obama, Romney, someone else?
      2 Are you a citizen?
      3 Party affiliation
      4 race
      5 sex
      6 age
      7 employed, unemployed, disabled, retired (check all that apply)
      8 Do you intend to vote? yes, no, maybe.

      Most polls ask these questions. The MSM shouild report this data to us readers by cross-tabulating Q1 vs Q2 thru Q8.

      Then we can understand what is going on. Weekly polls would let us track changes in preference by demo.

      By the bye:
      1. Only the living can vote. Dead people aren’t supposed to vote.
      2. Only citizens can vote. Aliens aren’t supposed to vote.
      3. Only registered voter can vote.

      It seems that the U.S. Justice Department is working hard to let dead people and non-citizens vote.

    23. grey eagle Says:

      Of course, polls should be unweighted.

    24. grey eagle Says:

      obamaphone – through a government agency Obama is giving free cell phones with 72 free minutes/month to people on welfare. (see youtube: ‘obamaphone lady’).

      The beauty of this campaign tactic is that on election day Obama can send a text message to millions of supporters offering them free minutes if they vote. And warn them that if Romney gets elected they will lose their phonnes.

      And it is all paid for by the government!

    25. Joe Citizen Says:

      obamaphone

      I am always glad to see my favorite president getting credit for things, but really, Grey Eagle – why do you credit Obama for a program that began (with discounted landlines) in the Clinton administration, and took on its current form in the Bush Administration?

      I would hate to think you were maliciously spreading untruths for petty partisan advantage. LINK

    26. Joe Citizen Says:

      “Of course, polls should be unweighted.”

      Grey Eagle,

      Why do you keep referring to “MSM pollsters”? The most egregious poll-weighter is Rasmussen – the house pollster of the conservative movement.

      I actually more or less agree with you – if your sample seems skewed relative to the demographics, then you should figure out a better sampling strategy, rather than trying to weight according to numbers that are themselves a result of sampling the population.

    27. Mike K Says:

      CAR; Mike K — “I believe you are wrong when you say that “Althouse has decided to vote for Obama again.”

      What bothered me is this

      9/28/12 6:41 PM
      Blogger Ann Althouse said…

      Look, those of you who don’t see the racial problem are already probably going to vote for Romney. For Romney to win, he has to influence people in the middle who are sensitive to this kind of racial ugliness. You may say my sensitivity is set to high, but I’m saying that I believe the people with my level of sensitivity are much more likely to determine the outcome of the election.

      You are losing me.

      Given her musings all summer that she is undecided, this is close to a decision to vote for O and only because she thinks that video is racist. This is the height of irresponsibility and she has had 700 plus comments on that thread after her comment. Very few are supportive.

      She may be just fishing for comments and volume but she presents herself as a rational libertarian. I simply cannot see how anyone can take those two positions.

      I have children who plan to vote for Obama, or at least did in 2008. One is a government employee, one is a trial lawyer who sees his purpose in life as disagreeing with me (according to his mother), and the third is a graduate student who has some odd ideas. She went to Cuba a few years ago to see if socialism really worked. She is too smart, and fluent in Spanish, and figured out that Cuba is a prison. She is married and wants children so my daughter-in-law, who is her ideal mother, thinks she will change once she is a mother.

      My other two are religious and conservative. The youngest is still evolving and gets angry when her siblings think she is an airhead but seems to have good instincts.

      I have a niece who is a nurse and voted for Obama but is fiercely anti-abortion. She stumps me but she also has a rock band and sort of straddles two worlds.

      Althouse sounds like she is justifying another vote for Obama.

    28. Ginny Says:

      I don’t understand. Did Romney do the Obamaphone video? Is that from his campaign?

    29. CAR Says:

      Mike K —

      I am one of those people of who is amazed that anyone paying attention to the 2012 campaign could still be undecided. I read with some interest Althouse’s explanation of her suspension of decision in two comments to a recent post:

      “Why decide before the debates?
      Why decide until you see what’s happening in world events?
      Look at 2008 and that financial crash. Things happen.” (9/26/12 10:11 AM)

      “I’ve decided not to decide until I have to decide.
      I’m quite decisive. I make decisions just in time.
      I don’t put energy into early decisionmaking that might require rethinking.
      I am an efficient decisionmaker, not someone who has trouble making decisions. I’m just fine at it.
      I prefer to make my decision while walking to the polling place on election day.
      Gives me something to do while walking.
      I can walk and make a decision at the same time. I don’t need all this advance planning you other folks seem to require.” (9/26/12 10:16 AM)

      These comments helped me understand that she has a slightly different understanding than I do of what it means to be undecided.

      In any case, I find myself agreeing with your take on things in this post. I just didn’t want anyone to come away from your remark (that “she has decided”) thinking that Althouse had actually announced such a thing.

      I have family, colleagues, significant other, all of whom are voting for Obama. That is not a comment on who is up and who is down. The crew I just mentioned would vote for Obama no matter who or what ran against him. Go figure. At least one of our cats will vote with me—of that I am sure.

    30. Mike Doughty Says:

      Mike K; you can speak for me. I’ve said this a couple times ….simply don’t respond to him. He’s now stated that if he doesn’t get responses he’ll leave. Test him, people.

    31. Mike K Says:

      I read and comment on Althouse’s blog and enjoy a non-troll discussion. Years ago, before 2004, I used to read and comment on Kevin Drum’s blog, which began as “Calpundit. Then he moved to Washington Monthly and I continued to read and comment. Before the 2004 election, the blog began to delete my comments. I complained to Kevin who lives near me and whose e-mail I had. He said he has no control.

      The debates there were interesting at first although they included a lot of nasty personal stuff from far left angry jerks. I don’t hide behind a pseudonym although I understand why others may do so for work considerations, etc. Eventually, it became a useless exercise and I gave up. Interestingly enough, I got a lot of anger from lefties who read my blog and were angry because I have some strong opinions on health care reform but do not support their favored single payer. It was kind of interesting that they were unwilling to consider any alternative to single payer, which I think is fatally flawed.

      I am willing to debate but I don’t respond to obvious trolls. They only want someone to react to the stuff they post and are not interested in real discussion. I’ve been there, done that.

    32. foxmarks Says:

      “counter Ginny’s argument by explaining why Obama is a better candidate than Romney”

      This ignores a different possibility. Obama is a great *candidate*, but a lousy President. Romney is a lousy *candidate*, and due to his shortcomings as a national campaigner, we are unlikely to learn how disappointing we would be as President.

      In my Kaeliverse, I know zero people actually attracted to Romney. He was just the “most electable”, not preferred by anyone. I always saw that claim of “electability” as ludicrous. Romney’s campaign has shown the dexterity of Herman Munster. He has done nothing to counter or diffuse the stereotype of being the guy who shipped your job to China so he could buy his wife a fourth Cadillac.

      However much one might disagree with the stereotype (I think Mitt is actually a miser), there seems to be a willful blindness among the non-left over seeing how effective that caricature is. The Romney-led GOP has forgotten that most people, even most Republicans, are not entrepreneurs. As bad as things are, and as bumbling as the Obama administration has been, I don’t think Romney has developed an image of himself as a trustworthy improvement. People stick with the devil they know.

    33. Mike K Says:

      “However much one might disagree with the stereotype (I think Mitt is actually a miser), there seems to be a willful blindness among the non-left over seeing how effective that caricature is. The Romney-led GOP has forgotten that most people, even most Republicans, are not entrepreneurs. As bad as things are, and as bumbling as the Obama administration has been, I don’t think Romney has developed an image of himself as a trustworthy improvement. People stick with the devil they know.”

      The caricature requires that the American public is as economically ignorant as the left is. The 47% that make up the Obama base probably are. That still leaves 53% who know better. They may be doctors or pharmacists or truck drivers, lots of whom listen to Rush, or people who own a bakery. There are a lot more entrepreneurs than you seem to believe. Every garage owner and probably his employees know about economics. The days of career employees in private industry has declined severely the past 50 years. Government employees, part of the 47%, are one of the few groups who think they have lifetime employment and secure pensions.

      The “bumbling” of the Obama administration is far worse than that term suggests. I think a lot of people see that. I don’t think you have to read the Wall Street Journal to see that worse is coming for the economy if Obama is re-elected. He had the ability to do what Clinton did but he is too ideological to accept that. He really doesn’t listen; hence no intelligence briefings. He thinks he knows more than his briefers. Romney has been in the private sector long enough to understand that he can’t know everything. Obama hasn’t learned that yet and may never do so.

      I think the media and the left is (They are one group, so “is,” not “are”) due for a severe shock on November 7. Their reaction may make 2000 look tame. Of course I could be wrong. We will see.