McCain's Small Victory

A mostly political Weblog.
Sept. 29 2008 4:52 AM

McCain's Small Victory

We want game-changing! We didn't get it.

(Continued from Page 6)

At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.

McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive [E.A.]

But would a looser format really disadvantage Palin in the encounter? 1) She seems like a scrapper who can handle herself in a "free-wheeling" exchange; 2) Biden, on the other hand, isn't someone you want to liberate. Set him free and who knows what he'll say. He's already way too free-wheeling. He needs limits, no? The tighter format will force him to focus; 3) Point #2 is doubly relevant given the difficulties Biden will have facing off against a woman. He's not supposed to condescend. He's not supposed to bully. (He's not supposed to be Biden, in other words.) Set him loose in an open format and it's a near certainty he would get the tone wrong, maybe even get carried away and go all Lazio on her.

Those "McCain advisers" may have just done him a big favor. ... [Tks to D.] 2:03 A.M. link

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Monday, September 22, 2008

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We Shall Overarch! Jacob Weisberg says Obama needs an economic "message," by which he means a "simple, lucid theme" or slogan or "overarching narrative" that unites and organizes Obama's his "sensible economic policies." Good point. But, oddly, Weisberg doesn't suggest any slogans himself. Is that because the obvious slogan is not clever or especially electrifying:

PROSPERITY FOR ALL, AGAIN

Or something like that (i.e., "Prosperity for all, for a change."). ... Name a policy this doesn't overarch! ... Meanwhile it addresses the central and legitimate Dem complaint, which is that while the economy has grown quite rapidly, in GDP terms, median income has not. .. The main problem with the slogan: It's depressingly banal. But it's no worse than "Bridge to the 21st Century." ...

P.S.: Economic egalitarians note that if the economy is growing, but the wealth isn't trickling down, that's almost by definition because it's been going increasingly to the top. The slogan implies that. But while it contains this buried "money-egalitarian" grievance, it doesn't imply a redistributive or egalitarian solution. If Obama could goose the economy so everyone was getting richer, nothing in the slogan would be violated if the rich were still getting wildly richer, making the overall income distribution more unequal. ...

P.P.S.: Yes, this slogan fails to incorporate Obama's usual anti-Washington theme. No loss. Palin reduces that theme's bite, anyway. And if any Washington insiders can bring us "shared prosperity," don't we want Obama to make use of them? Most of Obama's economic advisers (Summers, Rubin, Tyson, Sperling, Furman) are Washington veterans. At this point in the economic crisis, that gives voters confidence, which is why Obama recently  had his picture taken with some of them. ... 

P.P.P.S.: I'm not saying Obama's policies actually will achieve "prosperity for all." Card-check unionization certainly won't. But the slogan reflects what they're intended to achieve--it's aspirational. And diagnostic. ...

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