Earth warming, Gore cooling.

A mostly political Weblog.
May 14 2006 8:26 PM

Earth Warming, Gore Cooling

NYT poll's double-secret buried lede.

(Continued from Page 7)

Would this "grandfathered" solution--leaving existing illegals working in their current jobs--amount to legalization or amnesty, and thus act as an incentive to would-be illegals still on the other side of the border? I don't think so,  because the benefit of already being here--being left alone--would only be valuable to the extent border controls were effective. If the border remained porous, existing "grandfathered" illegal workers would only have obtained the ability to avoid border controls that were meaningless anyway. If the border controls weren't meaningless, would-be illegals now in Latin America and elsewhere would have an incentive to sneak into the country and work--in the hope of being grandfathered-in later--but by the same token they'd have less ability to do so. (They'd have to get over a wall and get around an effective system of employer-based document verification.)

Also, the existing, left-alone "grandfathered" illegal workers a) still wouldn't be legal and b) couldn't change jobs without subjecting themselves to the non-phony, computerized document check. Eventually, as they left those jobs, they'd be put to the same choice (self-deport, or work underground, etc.) as would have been put to them if they'd never been "grandfathered." But the process would be drawn out over years. And by then, there might be a guest worker program for which they could qualify (perhaps by returning home and waiting at the end of the line, perhaps more easily). ...

P.S.: If you want to watch me invite humiliation by trying to think through this issue on camera while being badgered by Bob Wright,  click here. ... 7:41 P.M. link

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Evan Coyne Maloney has come up with a computer program that automatically generates Bob Herbert columns by recombining anti-Bush paragraphs from previous columns. They all read about the same. ... You could never do that with kausfiles! [Pinch, Burkle, Bangle, Borders, Pinch, Bangle, Borders, Burkle--ed OK. OK. Please don't.] Via Instapundit. 2:41 P.M.

Not So Klein: At an L.A. party for his book Politics Lost, Joe Klein advanced an intriguing, optimistic thesis relating 1) the need for a candidate who exhibits humanity and competence, in part by expressing occasional deeply-felt heterodox, inconvenient, authentic views (as opposed to safe poll-tested views); 2) the rise of the interactive, 24/7 Web. ...

Klein's idea--which is not, as far as I can see, in his book--is that trend 2 is the cure for problem 1.  Specifically, the modern poll-tested, consultant-emasculated candidate is the product of the TV age, in which the idea was to come up with one Roger-Ailes-approved video clip each day, which the networks then beamed to the masses. But the Web demands more. Candidates will now be expected to actually interact with online voters, which requires at least some spontaneity and broad knowledge.   Bob Forehead would never cut it as a blogger, or a chat guest. A liberated-from-his-consultants Al Gore has a shot. At the very least, the web requires  immediate, spontaneous reactions to events on a cycle too rapid to war-game and focus-group. ... That's the hope, anyway. Just because Klein's idea summons technology as a sort of deus ex machina to solve previously intractable poblem doesn't make it wrong!

Unlike Instapunditish arguments, Klein's scenario doesn't count on the wisdom of empowered little guys. It counts on the wisdom of emperiled big guys. That may make it more plausible, or less plausible. But its technological determinism isn't obviously misguided. The link between broadcast technology and the rise of filtering, "message"-shaping consultants seems pretty solid, after all. Why shouldn't Internet technology favor a different arrangement?  Campaign press secretaries are  already whining that they don't have time to "call three consultants" before answering blogger queries. They have to actually know the answers themselves beforehand! Scary.  Maybe soon even the candidates will have to actually know the answers. Speechwriter David Kusnet has declared that, thanks to the Web,   "authenticity is the new eloquence"--though he's trying to tell a new generation of speechwriters how they can fake it for their bosses. It seems simpler to just have an authentic boss.

But doesn't the Internet also empower all the interest groups to which even authentic politicians have to appeal? That might make candidates more packaged and robotic. Not only does the Democratic nominee have to say the correct thing to differently-abled gays and lesbians, but the differently-abled gays and lesbians now have a website and email program that gets word of any deviance out to their members immediately. Klein's authentic Webbish candidate would have to have the appeal to roll over these empowered lobbies.**

McCain's presidential run should be a good test of Klein's thesis. McCain seems like the perfect, spontaneous 24/7 candidate, having pioneered the required techniques in the pre-blog era on his famous bus. And as an independent or third party candidate, McCain would be able to take full advantage of his chatroom-ready personality. The problem is that he's running in a Republican primary where saying the right things to the right Right constituents might be very important--and communicating quirky authenticity to the mercurial middle will be not-so-important.

The institutional technology of lobby-dominated party primaries, not the electronic technology of communication, could turn out to be the ur-cause of the consultant problem Klein identifies. If the Web is going to fix our politics, I suspect it will have to undermine the two-party system first. (Which it might! Remember the "party in a laptop" debate of 2003-4.)

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