Preference Cascades and Past Elections

So, I meant to write something sarcastic and slashing about … whatever over the last weekend, but I got distracted by life, and by a couple of different news reports – one of them being that Kanye West apparently has gotten in touch with his inner conservative and decided – for the moment – to come out enthusiastically for Trump. While not a particular fan of his brand of pop music and acknowledging that his judgement may not be all that – the man married a Kardashian, for g*d’s sake – I have never heard of anyone calling him a stupid man. Talented – yes, fabulously successful, and financially well-rewarded for exercising those talents; there must be more to him than pure dumb luck. Lamentable as it is to me that present-day celebrities wield more social influence than is good for them, and for us … that someone with that much influence in the black community is pointing out some self-evident truths must count for something.

I cannot decide if Kanye West initiated a preference cascade, or he was sharp enough to see that Trump’s policies were benefiting urban black communities in a substantial way, a way that Obama promised but never delivered, and made a rational decision to speak his mind and get out in front of it all. It has been suggested that this is all a gigantic trolling of conservatives anyway; still seems like going a bit too over the edge, in ginning up publicity for an album or something. In any case, Kanye West certainly has provoked a backlash of his own, with Mad Maxine Walters spouting inane and condemnatory gibberish in the manner which we have come to expect of her, Ta-Ne-Hissy Fit Coates spouting likewise in a somewhat more literate manner.

The other matter which drew my attention, are reports that terminally-ill John McCain now is saying that he never wanted Sarah Palin as his VP in the 2008 presidential campaign. And he doesn’t want President Trump coming to his funeral. That first sentiment strikes me as spiteful, the second as ungracious, although Senator McCain will be in no position to complain in the eventuality. Spiteful, because it was clear to me at the time that adding her to the ticket was about the only thing that energized his campaign at all; having her on board was the one thing that energized me and a lot of others about what was a spiritless and by-rote campaign. Spiteful again, the way that his inner circle basically threw her to the dogs, blaming her for the failure. Looking back now on how it all played out, I wonder if McCain was ever really serious about pursuing the presidency in 2008 – was he always intended to lose? He did suspend campaigning, which seemed like an inexplicable decision then. Was the fix in for Hillary the Inevitable, and then for Obama, the Fresh Prince of Chicago; John McCain was just there to make a show for the establishment GOP and then gallantly concede? Supposing that was the plan, and everyone but Sarah Palin was playing along with it? Five years ago, fifteen, even – I would have thought that was political paranoia talking but considering the recently-revealed shenanigans of the Clinton-Trump campaign – I can’t quite be so dismissive. Was Sarah Palin just picked as convincing window-dressing for a deliberately self-sabotaged campaign, at the cost of her own formerly quite promising political career?

Discuss, if you can bear it.

21 thoughts on “Preference Cascades and Past Elections”

  1. I know – very dark. But the more I think on it, the more plausible it becomes. And the uglier McCain looks in retrospect. So many bad decisions; after a while, you wonder if the pattern is a deliberate one. He was one of the Keating Five, after all…
    If I were Sarah Palin, I’d be incandescent with rage at being used in that manner … hell, I’d be furious anyway, at how his campaign staff basically stood back and threw her to the dogs.

  2. 1. Well, of course McCain wanted to win. But he wanted to win with the GOP electorate of the 1980s, of Reagan and Bush I, not that of Bush II even, certainly not of Palin and Trump.
    2. The first I heard of Sarah Palin was this by Nat Hentoff: The jackals and vipers who destroyed her can all burn.
    3. McCain/Lieberman would have been totally obliterated everywhere. That ticket would have had Evan McMullin level of appeal.
    4. It’s forgotten that McCain was only the front-runner in the leadup to 2008 because he had finished second in 2000, and gave Bush II a pretty good run at it. But that wasn’t because he was particularly liked, but because he was Not Bush, and a huge fraction of the party even then really didn’t like the establishment. And in the 2008 primaries, Romney was Not McCain, putting him in the lead for 2012. And in 2012 everyone got to be Not Romney, even complete jokers like Bachmann, Santorum, and Cain. Each time more and more of the party base loathed the establishment more and more, until they made the absurd decision to back Jeb! in 2015 (and Hillary! in 2016).
    5. Has there been a single case of establishment Dems getting booted in a primary and then endorsing a GOP candidate? I can think of probably about 10 times that’s happened with the GOP in the last decade.
    6. McCain is an heroic and honorable man, and a great argument for term limits.

  3. And he doesn’t want President Trump coming to his funeral.

    That was rather petty of Senator McCain.

    I am reminded of my uncle’s ex wife- his third. (My aunt- his first wife- had a tragic, early death.) They had an acrimonious divorce. I will spare you the details. At the same time, my uncle had good relations with his stepsons, for his having assumed the role of a father for children whose father had died. After the divorce, the stepsons continued to keep in contact with my uncle. Similarly, my cousins got along with their step brothers. Rest assured my uncle didn’t want his ex wife at his funeral, several decades after the divorce. Nonetheless, she came. After all, her sons were coming. My cousins’ attitude was, “whatever.”

  4. I seem to remember that McCain was the Moderate Republican in the 2008 primary. There were a bunch of Conservative candidates who split the right wing of primary voters, while all the Moderates voted for McCain.
    Of course, I see this in a lot of presidential primaries: the Republicans always seem to end up with a moderate candidate.

  5. Five years ago, fifteen, even – I would have thought that was political paranoia talking…

    I suspect you’re right. Either Felonia or Please Clap were perfectly acceptable to the federal bureaucracy in 2016 and I suspect that (if not for Obama’s African daddy) Dem’s would have been perfectly happy with either McCain or Romney. Oh, they’d still have painted them as Hitler but both were safe, swampy choices.

    I’m now absolutely thrilled that the carnival barker Trump won. He was by far the best choice.

  6. Yogi Berra said you should always go to people’s funerals or you can’t expect them to come to yours.

    I doubt Trump is too upset at being disinvited.

  7. And he doesn’t want President Trump coming to his funeral

    Why stop with Trump. I know I’d prefer no one go to his funeral—to pay their respects, anyway. If they want to attend to dance and spit all over his grave, that’s a whole ‘nother monkey.

  8. McCain didn’t want Palin as his VP? What sort of weak toad candidate has a veep forced upon him?

  9. I was with Brian till 6. McCain was heroic and honourable in Hanoi without a doubt. Afterwards, not so much, especially at Jacksonville. After that he played for the approval of the swamp. His decision to suspend his campaign was an indication of how much he overestimated his importance to the nation. Like his soul-sister, Hillary, we are fortunate not to know what his presidency would have been.

  10. “His decision to suspend his campaign was an indication of how much he overestimated his importance to the nation.”

    McCain never signed the front of a paycheck. As best I can tell he had no concept of what the economy does.

    The 2008 crash could have been largely blamed on the 2006 Democrat Congress which stopped every attempt by Bush officials to slow down Fannie/Freddie in their rush into the abyss.

    Bush was not much help as He has only slightly greater economic chops.

  11. “Maybe we should let McCain know that.”

    Oh, I think he knew that at the time – and that’s why he and his people were so nasty, and likely why he is being a petty, spiteful jerk. Because she set the crowds at his rallies on fire, whereas he could barely get them to pay attention to him. She showed him up, in addition to possibly bollixing his plan to lose like a gentleman. And Trump showed him up by actually winning a national election. Another reason for being a petty, grudge-bearing jerk.

  12. McCain and W are both ne’er-do-well sons of high-status establishment fathers. To them Palin was, is, and will always be gutter trash. As is the Tea Party in general. As is, despite his wealth, Donald Trump.

  13. At the time of the campaign, I was told by a friend who “had connections” that the people at the top of the GOP had decided that Obama was going to win no matter what, and they decided that McCain should run because that would finally shut him up. They didn’t like him, didn’t *want* him to win, and just wanted to be done with him.

    Of course I have no proof – and if the GOP elite chose to not actually pick a candidate they thought would win, nor back that person so that they won – that’s their choice.

    So what’s remarkable is how close he came, even with the top of the GOP being somewhere between “willful negligence” and “actively non-supporting” him. It told me that the USA was hardly moving to the left the way a lot of people liked to believe.

  14. “At the time of the campaign, I was told by a friend who “had connections” that the people at the top of the GOP had decided that Obama was going to win no matter what, and they decided that McCain should run because that would finally shut him up”
    This is serious alternative history. McCain was the obvious “next in line” the whole Bush presidency, since it was clear Cheney wasn’t going to run. And Obama I firmly believe didn’t expect to get the nomination at all. I think he immediately grew bored in the Senate, as he had with every “job” he ever had in his life–nothing short of the Presidency would fit his massive ego–and figured he could run against Hillary, raise his profile, maybe even be VP, and then be well set to run the next time around.

  15. “Obama I firmly believe didn’t expect to get the nomination at all.”

    I think he was running for VP, which would have been the logical place given his thin resume and race.

    Then he realized how weak Hillary was.

    I expected her to pick Cory Booker for VP in 2016. He had all the qualifications, Black, stupid and a Senator.

    Maybe she was afraid he would do an Obama on her.

    It would have been interesting to see Bernie run. Sort of reverse Goldwater.

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