"Redistributive Change"--Bernstein, not Sunstein: David Bernstein's take on that Obama "redistributive change" radio interivew seems sound. As Obama's defenders note , he was opposing using the courts to achieve RC, though perhaps as a practical matter and not as a matter of principle. But Obama cadre Cass Sunstein didn't do his reputation any good if he really pretended Obama only meant (in Ben Smith's summary) "narrower forms of redistribution -- education, legal filing fees, legal representation, and other issues." Obama was clearly talking more generally--certainly when he seemed to endorse redistribution through political action. Anyway, if one of the "narrower forms of redistribution" was a constitutional right to "welfare" or a minimum income, how much broader do you have to get to violate the venerable and politically central American consensus that income should only come with work? ...
Still, as Bernstein notes, we knew Obama believed in "redistributive change." The question is always what that means. Traditionally Democratic pols leave it alarmingly vague, with no identifiable stopping place at which enough redistribution is enough. Obama is no exception. But this radio interview makes him seem both smarter and a bit less paleoliberal than most voters probably think he is.
If this is the best they've got on him ... 1:59 A.M.
I never met Dean Barnett. I don't know what he looked like, never knew what he did for a living or, until today, when he died from cystic fibrosis , how old he was. But as soon as I stumbled onto his Soxblog a few years ago I knew this was a clear-headed, humane, no-BS person--the sort of person the Internet is supposed to discover and promote, which it did. Barnett was a man of the right. Here is the gracious tribute he posted when Steve Gilliard, a caustic Kos blogger whom he admired, died-- also at 41.
Mark Steyn told us to pray . It didn't work. Fuck. 12:15 A.M. .
Monday, October 27, 2008
Everybody's Pitching In (6)! Chris Martin has done his part ! ... 9:59 P.M.
"Realignment" ain't what it used to be: Just when the Democrats are about to achieve permanent political dominance, political analysts go and discover that permanent political dominance is no longer possible . Typical! The NYT 's John Harwood blames a persistently large number of swing voters and young, solution-oriented voters. I'd add the Feiler Faster Thesis , which means that any realignment-eroding adjustment process should now happen within one or two election cycles, rather than over decades. .. Karl Rove's dream of a Republican "realignment" turns out to have been more deluded than the neocon dream of a democratic Iraq. The latter didn't really kill the former, which was doomed all along. ... Of course, Rove is a student of history, and those who don't ignore history are condemned to think it will be repeated. ... . P.S.: Talk about "swing voters" seems a shorthand way of describing the result of a) ideological convergence b) declines in powerful interest groups (e.g.,unions) and c) fading historical memories. After the 2000 election, it appeared that these factors would guarantee us a future of painfully close elections-- "50-50 Forever." That no longer resonates--not only do we seem about to have a non -50-50 election, but even formerly stable mass institutions like stock markets are routinely experiencing wild swings. Still, in politics at least the swings are now likely to swing back quickly. (And I still don't quite see why, over time, the swings wouldn't also become less wild. But they probably said that about stock markets too). ... 9:40 P.M.
My gut was telling me that this was a teachable moment and that if I tried to do the usual political damage control instead of talking to the American people like an adult—like they were adults and could understand the complexities of race that I would be not only doing damage to the campaign but missing an important opportunity for leadership.
There are good reasons to have high expectations for an Obama presidency, but the possibility of more "teachable moments" isn't one of them. Is the presidency an adult education class? The whole concept of seeing voters as needing "teaching"--as opposed to persuading, or even selling-- seems more than a bit condescending. [ He was just sucking up to Joe Klein--ed Good point.] 2:47 A.M.
Andrew Gumbel's Nation take on Republican "vote suppression" is too level-headed for most of my Westside L.A. neighbors--he swipes at "hardworking but underqualified Internet campaigners" who "were breathlessly denouncing nonexistent political plots cooked up by the Republicans and the makers of touch-screen voting machines." Gumbel's conclusion is that "the wheels started coming off" the GOP effort this year. And
even the most insidious vote suppression technique makes just a marginal difference--one half-percentage point here, another there--and comes seriously into play only in a close race. Such tactics can't prevent an Obama landslide, if that is what we are about to see, or overturn a two- to three-point victory in any given state.
P.S.: I still don't see what's so terrible about the practice of "caging," which, according to Gumbel, is when a party sends out "out nonforwardable mail" and "uses returned envelopes to question the eligibility of the addressees." Presumably the evidence provided by the envelopes can be rebutted, and the Democrats could do the same in Republican districts. The adversarial system at work! ... On the other hand, I still worry, along with the "underqualified Internet campaigners," about touch-screen voting machines. They seem to add little but ineradicable distrust to the electoral process. ..
P.P.S.: Gumbel predicts a voting machine shortage in Virginia. ... . 2:27 A.M.
Leftish bloggers worry about what they'll do if Obama ... wins. 2:26 A.M.
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