Steve Schmidt Doesn’t Blame Palin

picture-56.thumbnail.pngWell, to his credit, Steve Schmidt isn’t blaming the Wasilla Wonder for McCain’s loss. In fact, he looks to the Palin selection as a victory (though he doesn’t name her specifically), insofar as it reversed what Schmidt describes as Obama "running away" with the race until her selection.

And I’m very proud of the fact that when Senator Obama came to opening up the lead and running away with this race, in August, when he returned from his trip to Europe, that we were able to halt his momentum, and to figure out a way to get ahead in the race by the middle of September, which is something that nobody thought was possible for us to do. We needed to, at a strategic level, at our convention, excite the base, appeal to the middle, distance ourselves from the policies of the administration, and to, um, recapture the reform and maverick credential that had been whittled away. And, that strategy was succeeding, and it worked until there was an economic collapse, and I’m proud of the fact that John McCain got up and fought every day, in very trying circumstances.

But even in this statement, he betrays self-delusion. McCain’s Palin spike–and Palin’s favorables–reversed before the financial crisis hit hard; Lehman filed for bankruptcy on September 14 and McCain’s "fundamentals of the economy are strong" comment was on September 15, but McCain peaked closer to September 8 or 9. I first noted Palin’s falling favorability ratings on September 12, and by September 16, the fall in her favorability was noted by others. 

The polls reflected the early success of her strategy. In the three days after Palin joined Team McCain–Aug. 29-31–32 percent of voters told the pollsters at Diageo/Hotline that they had a favorable opinion of her; most (48 percent) didn’t know enough to say. (The Diageo/Hotline poll is conducted by Financial Dynamics opinion research; it’s the only daily tracking poll to regularly publish approval ratings.) By Sept. 4, however, 43 percent of Diageo/Hotline respondents approved of Palin with only 25 percent disapproving–an 18-point split. Apparently, voters were liking what they were hearing. Four days later, Palin’s approval rating had climbed to 47 percent (+17), and by Sept. 13 it had hit 52 percent. The gap at that point between her favorable and unfavorable numbers–22 percent–was larger than either McCain’s (+20) or Obama’s (+13).

But then a funny thing happened: Palin seems to have lost some of her luster. Since Sept. 13, Palin’s unfavorables have climbed from 30 percent to 36 percent. Meanwhile, her favorables have slipped from 52 percent to 48 percent. That’s a three-day net swing of -10 points, and it leaves her in the Sept. 15 Diageo/Hotline tracking poll tied for the smallest favorability split (+12)** of any of the Final Four. [UPDATE: The Sept. 17 Diageo/Hotline tracking poll shows Palin at 47 percent favorable and 37 percent unfavorable–an even narrower +10 split.] Over the course of a single weekend, in other words, Palin went from being the most popular White House hopeful to the least.

In other words, Schmidt is wrong in claiming that the McCain team succeeded in reclaiming the reform and maverick credential until the economic collapse. Palin–and the campaign’s wholesale attack on the truth–had already begun to backfire before the economic collapse, and with it, the campaign lost its credibility on maverickyness. In other words, the campaign began its reversal because of its flogging of the discredited "Bridge to Nowhere" lies, it’s "lipstick on a pig" false outrage, and Palin’s interview with Charlie Gibson (her disastrous Couric interview was later in the month, after McCain had already peaked), then the reversal accelerated with McCain’s erratic response to the economic meltdown (which, at the same time, made Palin a greater liability). 

Which is why I find it so curious that Schmidt insists that the attacks on Palin were all caricatures, and that Palin might still manage to establish moderate credentials between now and 2012.

What role do you think Sarah Palin is going to play?

He will play a role [as a party leader], as will Sarah Palin. Throughout the campaign she was unfairly attacked. She handled it with grace and toughness. She inspired many people across the country, as evidenced by the enormous crowds she attracted at her events. And she’s an important new voice in the Republican Party.

But when you were talking about moving forward, the new, GOP 2.0, or whatever it is we’re going to be seeing in the future, it doesn’t seem like she’s especially reflective of any kind of new thinking about policy, or that she could be someone who could potentially appeal to Latino voters, and people who are not social conservatives. While an incredibly exciting presence, as a person, she doesn’t seem to represent any kind of new approach to conservatism or to the Republican Party.

Umm, I think, I disagree with that because she now returns to Alaska as governor, not as a vice presidential candidate, with her own standing in the party, not in the shadow of the nominee. So her ability to lead a broad coalition that can create an electoral majority in the party has not been tested. So it should not be pre-judged.

If she had aspirations for higher office in 2012, and beyond, she will have to be able to demonstrate that she is able to be an appealing figure outside the base, outside the base of the Republican Party. And certainly she has a track record of being able to do that in Alaska, where there are Democrats in her Cabinet, where even today she has broad support across the, you know, political spectrum.

And the reality of these campaigns at the presidential level is that it is easy to turn candidates into caricatures but when you step beyond the political season and you evaluate her for how she has governed her state, she has governed the state in the middle. And should she decide to run for national office, you know, nobody should judge her ability to assemble a broad coalition that is capable of winning majority support in the country. [emphasis mine]

Schmidt’s still pretending that the most devastating attacks on Palin–that she’s really a "suck at the federal teat and spend" conservative, not a fiscal conservative; that she has routinely abused her power; that she has oversold her accomplishments at every level; that she lacks knowledge about stuff high school seniors should know–were not a big part of her failure, and the failure of the campaign. Kudos to Schmidt for not blaming Palin for his own failures. But he’s still refusing to admit that recommending a candidate without vetting her first–and then attacking the media when they do the vetting the campaign failed to do–were two of the biggest failures of this campaign. 

106 replies
  1. MadDog says:

    Stevie’s smitten with Sarah.

    And as a well-deserved bout of unemployment is his due, he’s hoping Sarah might sprinkle a few shekels his way as he tries to sell her/us on starting Campaign 2012…like…next week.

  2. antibanana says:

    “Steve says he doesn’t blame Sarah” is more like it. And just why should we believe Schmidt or anyone else on McCains’ campaign staff?

    We know that they apparenlty lied about the vetting process. If you go back and look at what McCain’s staffers have said about Palin (Truveo is a great source), you will find even more lies.

    I find this all very curious, but I can’t begin to make it out. I’m not buying that this was all Palin’s fault, though.

    Frankly, I don’t really care what happens with the missing wardrobe. I am more interested in what donor originally purchased the clothing. Cindy McCain isn’t the only one close to the campaign known to have a taste for haute couture.

    • emptywheel says:

      Fair enough. I think the accusations that those blaming Palin are themselves at fault for picking Palin have hit their mark. Schmidt is one of the people responsible for the pick, so he’s got to find a narrative that explains away the loss that doesn’t focus on Palin.

      Voila! The financial crash. It’s chronologically inaccurate (that’s my argument here).

      In fact, more important than Palin per se is likely the way Schmidt directed the campaign to attack the press. But he’s isn’t going to admit that. Interestingly, this was largely the same narrative that Robert Draper told, but I guess that shouldn’t surprise me.

      • MadDog says:

        And as Stevie was one of the top two tippers to Sarah’s nod, I can’t see him readily admitting to a blinding fit of vetting unobjectivity.

        Whatever Stevie and Ricky saw in Sarah, it was not based on her intellectual qualifications.

        While it may not have been (entirely or even mostly) based on Sarah sex appeal, it surely wasn’t because she had the wonk stuff down.

        And I do sense that a future Campaign 2012 and choosing sides now is part of the mix.

        To them, it may seem that putty that can be molded (and re-molded) to one’s heart desire is better than a candidate with longstanding, fixed positions.

        Whatever is popular makes for the best in a populist candidate.

        • Leen says:

          Many young people that I have talked with see right through the Palin persona. I just can’t see how this can work, too many people are insulted by her lack of depth and knowledge. Many people want someone far smarter than they are as the Pres or V.P.

          I just don’t know who these Republicans can bank on the dumbing down of voters

          • kspena says:

            …”too many people are insulted by her lack of depth and knowledge.”

            In Oct.13, 2008 issue of Newsweek, Persily, who worked for palin, described her as ‘an easily distracted manager’. “Her preppings (briefings) were accentuated by the brevity of them. She’s not going to pore over briefing books and charts and white papers and reports for hours and hours. She knows how to connect with people, and it’s like, ‘Give me bullet points and I’ll run with it’…I don’t think she had trouble focusing. She didn’t have an interest in focusing.”

            Also regarding her not releasing her medical records, one of the reasons might be that it’s not politically correct for her to reveal to her base that her first child was delivered less than 8 months after her marriage.


      • Leen says:

        Those who promoted and recruited her are far more responsible. But where does the responsibility of the individual come in to know that you are out of your league? Sarah promoted herself and the fact that she obviously does not care or know that she is not qualified is obviously dangerous.

        Example THE LAST EIGHT YEARS

        • perris says:

          But where does the responsibility of the individual come in to know that you are out of your league?

          but sarah does not believe she is out of her league, she believes she’s right up there with them

          • Leen says:

            She is dangerous. Obviously the right wing radicals see her as an empty vessel to fill up with myths and lies.

            • eCAHNomics says:

              I thought Palin would be dangerous, but I was wrong. The farther down the Palin path the Rs go, the better for Ds.

              • DrDick says:

                She is dangerous, but not in an electoral sense. The danger she poses is from legitimating and empowering the lunatic fringe of the right. Atlanta and Oklahoma City could be in our future as well.

            • DrDick says:

              She appeals to them because she really is part of the racist, Xtianist, black helicopter/militia crowd, even if only on the margins. She empowers and legitimates them by her presence in the national arena.

            • perris says:

              I think she’s dangerous if she gets power I see no danger in her as a candidate, she is exposed, the more they put their faith in her the more exposed she will become

              they are destroying themselves, they really believe it was the media that made her look like an idiot, “the media was out to get her”

              this is the best thing that can possibly happen to the democratic party

              • Leen says:

                Ew was the first person that I read who suggested that she would be perfect for the host of the “dating game” or some other reality show. Chris Matthews picked up on this idea and while Matthews ripped up her lack of depth and understanding of even basic issues he has promoted her as a game show or Faux news host. She is a contender for such a spot and could make millions

          • Leen says:

            Left quite the disaster to clean up. Irresponsible addicts. We will be cleaning up for a long time after the Bush Regime… so will the people in the middle east.

            • eCAHNomics says:

              Heh. W still thinks history will bail him out.

              The rest of us know better.

              Someone said earlier today that the Ds are the mop-up crew.

              The last report I wrote on Wall St. (Feb 00) was titled “Surpluses are Worse than Deficits.” Even I did not realized how prescient that was, leaving that wonderful federal govt surplus for W to squander.

              • Leen says:

                “surpluses worse than deficits” never looked at it like this. Sad that a bunch of thugs and thieves in the Bush/Cheney cabal have gotten away with this.

  3. lesserdevil says:

    The Delusion Express brings back fond memories of epic fail. I would still like to know what in her medical record made her refuse to release it. Psych treatment for pathological lying?

  4. Jkat says:

    yess.. here’s “drinking to more victories” like the palin pick ..

    bottoms up on the old coffee mug .. [no decaf either.. lol]

    • freepatriot says:

      The repackaging of Palin for 2012 begins

      princess pandora in a whole new box ???

      I can’t wait

      snow blight versus HOW MANY dwarfs ???

      in this corner, the challenger, weighing in at 12 stones, The Drilla from Wassilla

      and in this corner, the defending world champions of idiocy and hypocrisy, weighing in at anywhere from 24 to 36 stones, the newtster, mittins an his kittens, haley the barboor, the huckleberry governor, and fourteen dreamin assholes you never heard of …

      should be good for the popcorn industry

      • antibanana says:

        Actually, I see a scenario in which Palin may be viable for 2012. If the economy truly sours — and many think it will — the electorate may be much more amenable to voting for a pandering demagogue. Palin fits that bill quite nicely.

        Palin reminds me of the current Bush presidency. She lacks the skills and knowledge to be President, but could, with adequate preparation, potentially make a plausible figurehead. Why do neocons appear to be eager to support this type of candidate?

        Conversely, what Republicans who have their eye on 2012 would resist Palin? Jeb Bush comes to mind. There are quite a few people in Florida who have invested quite heavily — and not just in terms of money– in his career. I doubt they want it to end with the governship of Florida.

        • freepatriot says:

          anybody with “BUSH” in their name is politically DEAD

          and they’re gonna STAY politically DEAD

          sorry jeb, call it “corruption of blood” or whatever you want, but you don’t come back from shit like this

          watchin poppy cry about that was one of the most satisfying moments in my life …

        • chrisc says:

          Josh Marshall thinks that Palin is a much more spectacular ignoramus than George Bush. I dunno. I think they are both blockheads, although W is/was more co-operative with his handlers. I still remember the “new presidential walk” George Bush trotted out right before 9/11. It looked like his butt checks were sown together. I imagine that was one of Karen Hughes’ inspirations.

          I don’t think Sarah Palin will be back on the national scene. The neocon remnants will trot out a new (but possibly familiar) face and attempt to hoodwink the undiscerning masses again in 2012.

          Frankly, I am concerned that there is not a greater evaluation of the job the press did or did not do during the election. Just for starters, I want to know why no one questioned Palin’s “energy expert” credentials. How did a communication/journalism major suddenly get to be the country’s foremost energy expert? Through study? Years in the industry? McCain said she was an energy expert over and over again and no one called him on it.

          And why wasn’t there a greater outcry that she was not accessible to the press. McCain’s aides deserve contempt for promoting a dangerously unprepared candidate, but the defferential press must share some of the blame.

          • eCAHNomics says:

            “new presidential walk” George Bush trotted out right before 9/11. It looked like his butt checks were sown together.

            Oooo. I don’t remember that. I wonder if there’s a video.

            The A to why press didn’t Q Palin energy “credentials” is that there was so much other low hanging fruit.

            • PJEvans says:

              She still thinks she is an energy expert. She was offering her services as one to Obama after the election. (I don’t think she’ll be getting that phone call.)

  5. Teddy Partridge says:

    Anyway, it wasn’t so much the economic meltdown that undid McCain; it was his erratic, scattered, inconsistent, unfocused, contradictory reaction to it that literally frightened Americans. I was a little startled that TradMed let us actually see that; it must have looked much worse to them at the time.

    But, yes, mostly not vetting Palin, and all that said about McCain. That the not-vetting fed right into the apparent impulsiveness of his response to the Bush Economic Miracle™ was his complete undoing. Also, not being nice to TradMed helped them tell the story.

    • emptywheel says:

      That’s an important distinction, Teddy–that it wasn’t the meltdown so much as his reaction.

      Though I think TradMed showed it bcause they had to. YouTubes really did McCain in this year, and that particularly week is one where YouTubes did more damage than other weeks.

      • Teddy Partridge says:

        ON Rachel Maddow’s teevee show, between the time Pat Buchanan appears and I can find the clicker — Pat makes the argument that the meltdown destroyed McCain and Rachel replies that it was actually McCain’s reaction to the meltdown that destroyed his campaign. Then I find the clicker, and write my little email to Rachel — “Hi, I just turned off my teevee; Pat’s on your show.”

        Seems to be working; there’s less Pat.

        It’s important to focus on McCain’s erratic, unprincipled, reckless, unfocused, uninformed reaction to the economic catastrophe. By reminding people how he reacted, the blame is on him, not Bush’s economy, for his failure. And that precludes any odd senior-GOP statesman role he may have planned for himself.

        (Rachel needs to heed Dick Nixon, when he stood onstage with his wife during the last week of his presidential campaign and said, “America can’t stand pat!”)

  6. freepatriot says:

    schmidt thinks the repuglitards are making progress ???

    But when you were talking about moving forward, the new, GOP 2.0, or whatever it is we’re going to be seeing in the future,

    since the repuglitards are in a RETROGRADE ADVANCEMENT, shouldn’t we actually say it’s the repuglitard party .75

    the repuglitards are movin backwards an shrinking, their numbering progression should reflect that

  7. freepatriot says:

    does princess pandora realize that if she runs for prexnit, we’re gonna crawl into the asshole of the Alaska Independence Party and FUCKING DESTROY IT

    do Alaskans realize this ???

    wait till America finds out the founder of the AIP was murdered in a fucked up deal to buy plastic explosives

    that “Palling Around With Terrorists” line is gonna leave a scab

    and we get to pick at it for 2 years, and then ripp the fucking scab OFF in front of the whole country

    who do you think is worse, Mr Ayers, or tim mcvay ???

    bye bye princess pandora

    trying to buy illegal explosives ain’t all that shocking to me, but what I consider normal would shock the fuck outta most people …

    • Gunner says:

      I don’t know you, but some how I bet it would shock the hell out of most. But that keeps things interesting.

  8. manys says:

    This speaks to the larger (all sides) argument that the election was all about the economy. Maybe they figure (and maybe they’re right) that the people at large have a short memory and so can be cowed into expecting only the most recent issue in the campaign to have the most significance in the administration.

    • freepatriot says:

      this election was about THE REPUGLITARDS

      we didn’t choose the Democrats, we told the repuglitards to FUCK OFF AND DIE

      Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, fookin Indiana ???

      you think these states suddenly bought into the Democratic Party ???

      they told the repuglitards to go piss up a rope, nothing more …

      the sooner everybody realizes that, the sooner we can dispose of the repuglitards

      guess that “SOONER” stuff is really in the blood …

  9. Leen says:

    I don’t think that Obama would have come close to running away with the race if McCain would have played above the belt (ignoring recommendations to play dirty). If McCain would have stayed on message I have crossed the divide on THESE ISSUES, the I HAVE SERVED MY COUNTRY VIA MY MILITARY SACRIFICE, and then picked Senator Hutchinson or another solid Republican woman as his running mate….this election would not have been a “slam dunk” His team his message was all over the place.

    Steve needs to get out on the street and talk with the peasants. Sarah turned many people off on both sides of the aisle. She may have that fundamentalist base down..but those folks are not driving the bus anymore.

    • sunshine says:

      I don’t agree. Our candidate was not chosen by Super Tuesday. Our primaries brought 2 and 3 times more supporters than the GOP did. The Dems primaries lasted longer than ever before and Dems became more energized all over the nation making these later states come into play big time. They built up more campaign offices & supporters months earlier than previously and that gave us a bump for the election. The news was the Hillary and Obama tug of war night after night. Once McCain was the candidate for the GOP he just about dropped off the screen. McCain should have choose a VP 3 months earlier and went out campaigning and got his VP nominee named branded during this time and raise more campaign dollars. But he didn’t. He lost allot by not doing this. McCain waited to see who our candidate for President before he choose his VP. Even this decision here shows he was a follower not a leader. He lost valuable time. His crowds were nearly non existent. He didn’t have much campaign money either. That is why they were so excited about Palin, she got some crowds out there for McCain and campaign dollars started flowing in. But she wasn’t enough. No way McCain would have won, that party was fractured before Palin came on the scene. She just made it more pronounced. When Arnold came to the rescue, they said the stadium Arnold & McCain was in held 20,000 4 years earlier for Bush but was only half full for McCain and Arnold. McCain was the Maverick, different from the GOP party but he picked some one just like Bush, not to bright and too far to the right. And all things come to an end. Everything that climbs up evidently falls, some slower, some faster, but nothing stays on top for ever. I worked a short while on the Obama campaign. Of the few McCain supporters I saw some said Palin scared them to death. And a few told me McCain is so old and may make it through his term and Obama may have something happen to him, Palin as Prez scares me but I think Biden would do a good job.

      • freepatriot says:

        mcstain never had a chance

        neither did Hillary

        both player the tortoise to Obama’s rabbit act

        cept this time, the fookin rabbit never slowed down

        lookin back, our nominee WAS chosen on super tuesday (Hillary just didn’t know she lost)

        and mcstain’s loss was in the box before the polls opened on election day

        early primary wins and early voters were Obama’s secret weapons

        by the time Hillary knew what was going on, she was done

        mcstain never did figure out what hit him

        Obama plays offense, early and often, folks

        get ready for a wild ride in January

      • Leen says:

        Good Points, but I still stand by that the race would have been much closer if McCain would not have sunk to such pathetic strategies…played it above the belt…played his Vet status even more…separated himself more from Bush and Cheney and been more steadfast. If he would have picked up Senator Hutchison it would have been a much closer race.

  10. Leen says:

    Many Americans are tired of this anti patriot hogwash

    Secret Service/Spike in threats to Obama after Sarah Palin stirred it up

    ” The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied. Michelle Obama was shaken by the vituperative crowds and the hot rhetoric from the GOP candidates. “Why would they try to make people hate us?” Michelle asked a top campaign aide.

    Tim Shipman at the UK Telegraph has more:

    Details of the spike in threats to Mr Obama come as a report last week by security and intelligence analysts Stratfor, warned that he is a high risk target for racist gunmen. It concluded: “Two plots to assassinate Obama were broken up during the campaign season, and several more remain under investigation. We would expect federal authorities to uncover many more plots to attack the president that have been hatched by white supremacist ideologues.”

    Irate John McCain aides, who blame Mrs Palin for losing the election, claim Mrs Palin took it upon herself to question Mr Obama’s patriotism, before the line of attack had been cleared by Mr McCain.”

  11. Waccamaw says:

    I’m proud of the fact that John McCain got up and fought every day, in very trying circumstances.

    Schmidt better be bloody glad that they were simply able to get him up every day…..I still have questions as to what kind of medications they needed to pump into him in order to achieve that end result.

  12. freepatriot says:

    Is that the same thing as Re-Gifting??

    well, you’re close

    only off by one letter

    it’s what ya call regrifting

    only the most brazen grifters try the same mark twice

    and here’s a message for the techies, this software might be a little naive, it doesn’t know what “grifters” are …

    • dmac says:

      yep, and there’s a grifter on this thread right now as a matter of fact.
      trashed fdl repeatedly, jane, christy, others, pushing her anti-israel [email protected] agenda… was banned, i thought. funny, she’s mainly posting on the sister blogs, but with her new name, kinda new name.

  13. JohnLopresti says:

    There are a few interesting thresholds in the discussion of the campaigns’ histories. The Republicans loudly protested the success of the Berlin presentation in late July 2008 by Barack Obama. The ensuing epoch in the campaigns had as a substrate the Wall St crunchtime. As a beginning I looked at the announcements and scheduling of the standard investor advisory telephone conference which Merrill held; their earnings call with occurred mid October, ie mid Q3, then there was the RMcCann’s September 8 ppt demo which is formatted as a pdf but is a slide series in several senses*. Each of the tumbling entities has a timeline for the 10Qs, Merrill’s 3Q closing date was September 28. Researchers know well prior even to the conference call what to expect. I would look beyond to FreddieFannieBearLehmanAIG. Merrill actually made out alright if only 10 BBN USD is ‘ok’ followed by takeover. I agree about Palin’s halflife being abbreviated, but there are currents which were driving a perhaps ill prepares Schmidt and co., as well.
    *Merrill may be an interesting place to begin the whitepaper, but one will be written about the autum 2008 season, and their part will appear, even if most of the slides are predictable gloss; their actual call re earnings occurred mid month prior, in October. This train was on the rails and the grade crossing protection bar lowered long before midSeptember.

    • freepatriot says:

      you keep sayin October, but merril died long before October, no ???

      and I think any study od this economic disaster begins with greenspan and gramm

      the “unwarranted optimism” moment was the point of no return on a path to disaster

      dot com bubble, ennron bubble, sub-prime meltdown, credit freeze

      it was a logical progression on a downward spiral

  14. WilliamOckham says:

    I’m fascinated by this Schmidt statement:

    And I’m very proud of the fact that when Senator Obama came to opening up the lead and running away with this race, in August, when he returned from his trip to Europe, that we were able to halt his momentum, and to figure out a way to get ahead in the race by the middle of September

    Obama wasn’t opening up a lead at the end of August. Obama’s numbers jumped up as soon as Clinton withdrew in early June. The race was essentially static until mid-August when it started tighten slightly. While McCain was nominally ahead around 9/8-11, this was at the peak moment for a post-convention bounce. Most telling, is the way Schmidt was running that campaign at that point. They were running like a campaign that was behind and knew it. I don’t if Schmidt is fooling himself or trying to protect his business reputation, but it’s pretty transparent bs.

    • emptywheel says:

      Back in the summer, a number of people said McCain was gambling on the surge being correct. Which might have worked out if Maliki didn’t endorse Obama’s entire strategy. That, plus Obama so resoundingly quieting any worries about his ability to manage on teh world stage, really undercut any hope they had of running on a pro-McCain message.

      I believe that’s what remains unsaid in the mention of Berlin.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        That was a foolish gamble. The Pew polls had this revealing stat. They asked folks whether or not they thought invading Iraq had been a good idea:

        Do you think the U.S. made the right decision in using military force against Iraq? (Over time this stayed pretty stable)
        Yes = 75%-80% voting for McCain
        No = 80% voting for Obama.

        As long as there are more people who say no, Obama wins (split is 50-39 right now).

  15. Leen says:

    Ew voters on both sides of aisle began to gain a clearer view of just what Palin was about soon after the Couric interview. The more she said the clearer many in the public became about just how unqualified Palin is.

    When Andrew Sullivan, Buckley, Colin Powell, and others came out and criticized the pick…it was all over

      • Leen says:

        The voters or the big shots?

        I think for some voters the dazzle of Palin and the subtle stroking of the reptilian brain stem worked for awhile for some male voters. For the women who want to think that they could be a V.P. too and know as little as Palin does about foreign and domestic issues this went on far too long.

  16. Garrett says:

    Outamyarse-level guess:

    [start video, cue scary music]

    Sarah Palin thinks Africa is a continent, not a country. Can America really trust her as GOP presidential candidate in 2012?

    I’m John McCain. I’ve worked with her closely, I’ve got no shot at it myself, and I approve this message.

    [roll credits]

    Lead actress: Nicolle Wallace.

    Producer: Mark Salter.

    Directors: Steve Schmidt and Rick Davis.

  17. LabDancer says:

    It’s surely in our DNA to try to explain a singular outcome, notwithstanding “it” derives from the complexities involved in the decisions of 130 million or so separate deciders; and it can engage notable, to some extent even measurable, degrees of delight and frustration in expounding, or listening to others expound, on one decider’s theory as to why other deciders settled on blue than settled on red.

    But neither that human tendency, nor even the extent to which our animal natures are susceptible to Skinner box manipulations along the scales of pleasure and pain, render such theories and measures truly meaningful.

    The singular outocme of this election is largely if not completely explainable by, in order of acending significance: [a] a few demographics, particularly as to perceived opportunity, age and education, and [b] the sort of result one might expect from employing objective tools to assess the candidates relative competence in dealing with challenges.

    IMO the data shows that the deciders tended to focus on the respective candidates depending on relative importance to their futures. Thus, it was less important to focus on the well known foibles of one candidate simply because he was running to back up a significantly younger leader, while conversely it was more important to focus on the possible foibles of another candidate in part because so remarkably little was known about her and otherwise because she was running to quite possibly replace a significantly older leader.

    The fact that the deciders were called on to engage in the process that led to those contrasting approaches was dictated by the outcomes of the respective primaries. Notwithstanding the moves during Silly Season, the period from mid-June to the parties’ conventions, those outcomes were mostly intact coming into those conventions.

    Obama’s choice was predictable for being one among a range of persons the selection from which would do nothing to disturb the image projected for months, years really – because it had to be. In contrast McCain’s choice was predictable for being unpredictable, for nothing less would alter the dynamics leading to a massive loss, and the fact that it went to scratch the perception of a pressing need to feed the Republican base should be seen as less not more surprising.

    The economic crisis was hardly an unforeseeable event, and while it did act as a timely reminder of the incompetence inherent in one party’s approach to challenges, I think it will become clearer over time that even its timeliness was a by-product of the same incompetence. It loomed over the debates but in the end those provided the little bit more in the way of evidence in support of where the deciders were headed anyway and what they would have guessed without them.

    My take is that Schmidt was simply engaged in self-promotion, with the basic message being that the politics of Nixonland are engrained in the American political pysche, and the corollary being that his approach to running an election remains relevant to the future of the Republican party. I think he’s right enough on the corollary at least that he’ll make lots more money, but that he’s so wrong on the larger picture it won’t help them regain the White House.

  18. Kelpie says:

    Schmidt is rumored to be the one who pushed for Palin in the first place, he’s hardly likely to bad mouth her in any event

  19. JohnLopresti says:

    @28, what I was beginning was the September material, but Merrill had an October event, the guidance call, which is de rigeur for the thoughtline; disclosure, I emptied my Merrill 401k in 2007 after their first quarterly decline reported at a time when the market was all taurine. After the post, I learned GretchenM is on their case today, too. Not that I picked Merrill for the reserve, a new equity holder on my company’s board seems to have been the prime mover to migrate to Merrill several additional years ago.

    But the Berlin moment, and Maliki’s warmth around that time similarly, seemed to wipe the polemic wind from McCain’s tailwind aiming for an already challenging landing in MN. LabX, above, has it in focus, particularly, with the dual statements of the conventions. Economics folks usually arrive first. The issue about one party leadership mentioned upthread also highlights reasons why Schmidt had to function in a blend of myths, many of his own fabrication, and some of them inchoate. I think the calendar forced him to act, but already it was a troubled campaign even before Berlin, yet it was a turning point, I thought.

      • eCAHNomics says:

        Works for me. I’ve been outside, then cooking, most of the day, but I think I saw on a break that Gingrich is one of the suggested R saviors. Forget who advanced his name. It would be enough for an old atheist to think there might be a god.

        • DrDick says:

          I pray for a Palin/Gingrich or Gingrich/Palin ticket in 2012. Nothing could better push the Rethugs into permanent electoral exile.

          • eCAHNomics says:

            Glad you’re covering the bet (i.e., that there is a God).

            On a serious note, at least what is making the R news since the elections is that all the extremists are coming out in full bore, explaining that if they only say it one more time, and a little bit louder, everyone will understand (like the drunk at the party).

            If the old RINOs are doing anything to get their party back, it sure ain’t obvious.

            • DrDick says:

              That ain’t the bet I’m covering (mine deals with the Republican lizard brain). Have to agree about the current state of the Republicans. Not sure how this is going to sort out. Right now the social conservatives (like Palin) really do not have the funding to compete and the money boys (like Romney) don’t have the numbers (hard to win with less than 10% of the electorate). They really have needed each other for the past 40 years to do anything. Of course the money boys made sure they controlled the relationship. I think “the base” is feeling a tad resentful and rebellious about that right now.

                • DrDick says:

                  Indeed. Pure prime vintage schadenfreude that I intend to savor as long as possible. I suspect it will only last until Obama actually takes office, at which time they will be at least temporarily united in their efforts to outdo Attila, Alaric, Genghis Khan, and Tamerlane combined.

                  • eCAHNomics says:

                    The only one in your list that I haven’t read (well, listened to) a book about is Alaric.

                    I agree that, if you thought the rightwing conspiracy against Clinton was bad, you ain’t seen nuttin yet. I’m suprised that R disarray has so far gotten in the way of Obama attacks.

                    • DrDick says:

                      Alaric was king of the Goths.
                      Oh, yeah, the Clinton years will look like a Sunday school picnic. I think they haven’t had enough details to mount a full bore attack. Once he gets into office and starts putting his program into action, they will line up pretty quick. The current news about his staff compiling a list of executive orders to overturn may get them started.

                    • eCAHNomics says:

                      Don’t think O overturning W stuff will get them started. The Rs don’t want to shine any lights on what W did. More likely the attack will be on O’s programs.

                      The failure of attacks on O’s associations have set the Rs back. They surely expected those to be more effective than they were.

                    • DrDick says:

                      True. I think one of the reasons they have been so quiet post election is that they threw all this stuff at him pre-election and nothing gained any traction. I think you are right about the policies once he clearly enunciates them and starts to implement them.

          • eCAHNomics says:

            Righto. Novak was exactly the person who’s promoting Gingrich. Go Novak! Go Gingrich! (That would be the Gingrich who stole the Rs’ Christmas.)

  20. Kathryn in MA says:

    Ooooooooooh, they don’t like having their party leaders turned into caricatures? Sauce, gander, howdeedo.

  21. perris says:

    while I agree palin hurt the republican party, while I agree her negatives were going to overtake her positives with or without the economy, here is where I disagree;

    mccain could get neither volunteers nor donors and there was no vice presidential prospect that would have gotten him donors and volunteers

    therefore, he was going into full collapse without palin, she did indeed give him a shot, though short lived, that shot would not have existed without her.

    she hurt the ticket, she hurt the party for the future, she hurt their chances at getting any swing voters

    never the less, she was the only thing that took the momentum from obama

  22. EdwardTeller says:


    This is an important essay. I’ve been thinking about writing something along the same lines, from the Alaska perspective. Essentially, all the progressive Alaska bloggers knew from the start (August 29th) that Palin was an extremely poor choice. By the end of the 29th, some – both inside and outside of Alaska – were able to determine how sketchily she had been vetted. Because some of us, myself included, were heavily invested in seeing in-State Democratic Party candidates succeed in November, we hoped she would be somehow pulled from the GOP ticket, once the McCain campaign realized what an awful error they had made.

    That didn’t happen. But the view from Wasilla, as I watched more and more national media print truthful and highly unflattering reports about Palin during the week of the GOP convention, got me to start watching Palin’s positive vs negative numbers very closely.

    By the beginning of the week after the GOP convention – September 8 through 12 – her numbers were starting to change markedly. The only place they were continuing to ascend, was in far-right and right-of-center GOP crowds. Money started pouring into the McCain campaign, and if the McCain strategists had been thinking of dumping her between Labor Day weekend and Monday the 8th of September, the money and big crowds at her events stopped all talk of that during the week of September 15 through 19, which is when the economic problems in the USA began to change the campaign narratives of both parties.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      You & perris are right about Palin putting the McCain campaign on life support (as opposed to dying altogether). But kinda reminds you of all those legends about selling your soul to the devil for jest a lil more longevity.

  23. foothillsmike says:

    Watch out that the same game isn’t being played as was played with McShame. His infidelity etc came out along time ago so it was “all out there and no one talked about it. By mid campaign the rethugs were saying that Obama had questionable “family values”

    • eCAHNomics says:

      Good point. But one can always “go to the videotape.” KO is doing a good job on that right now.

      Replay is our friend.

  24. Knut says:

    Schmidt is giving us PR-speak. Ever since Nixon, but especially since Reagan, the Republiks have run their Presidential campaigns like automobile ads — appealing largely to the same public. They view everything from the perspective of how it impacts on public opinion, and work the refs to ensure that the press gives them a hand up. The strategy works when there is nothing super serious at stake, when the public aren’t thinking too much about the Presidency except as a symbol of self-expression.

    Schmidt interpreted Obama’s campaign as the kind he was runningl for McCain — as all PR. He didn’t see the game on the ground, and obviously didn’t appreciate that people were paying attention this time.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      strategy works when there is nothing super serious at stake


      Carter Adminstration was a disaster. (Don’t defend him. I’m not talking about substance, but rather ratings.) And Raygun offered hope.

      Ditto W and Obama.

  25. JimHarrison says:

    Candidates routinely get a bump in the polls from their party’s convention. Was McCain’s bump larger than average? Whatever temporary advantage Palin gave his campaign should be judged by subtracting the predictable bump from the actual bump. Has anybody done that?

    • eCAHNomics says:

      The Palin bump came right after the D convention. It served one purpose: to prevent a D post-convention bump.

  26. sdrDusty says:

    We’re getting a good look at GOP 2.0 here in Georgia. Chambliss using 9/11 on his campaign commercials against Martin. It’s gonna be the same old shit wearing a new suit.

    And the prospect of Newt leading them to regain control? Oh, please! we could be so lucky!

  27. radiofreewill says:

    The Goopers are a Dying Party, literally.

    A bunch of Dirty, Old, Pasty, White Men and Weak, Submissive Women – who can’t change.

    It’s too late for them now – they are dying-off at a rate of about 15,000 per day – and only the Dumbest Few Among US are Joining Their Ranks.

    Four years from now, Sarah herself will Still Be Dumb As A Fence Post – but, hey, that’s not a problem for Geriatrics.

    I doubt she’ll even be a Politician.

    But, it’s easy to see her ’preaching’ the ’Old Tradition’ – our way is the only right way – to the Geezers – and Taking Their Money.

    The Ignorant, Addled GOP Base – as they Dwindle – will continue to be Easy Marks…and Sarah won’t be able to resist Robbing Them on the way to their Graves.

  28. freepatriot says:

    at least novakula’s column provided an answer to one question

    in the comments, somebody pointed out that the newtster could be a texas politician, since he has rick davis’ hair and tom delay’s ethics

    i was wondering who had the bugman’s ethics, cuz it was obvious the bugman wasn’t using them

    if anybody ever writes a post mortem on the repuglitards, the bugman’s booking photo should be on the cover …

  29. freepatriot says:

    I spoke with a very informed citizen last tuesday, the type that newtie is gonna have a problem with.

    this citizen couldn’t vote on tuesday, cuz he is only 17. but he did drag both of his parents to the polls, one at a time (so I got to talk to him twice), and sent each one into the booth with a clearly marked sample ballot

    in 2010, this guy is gonna join our ranks

    and he spoke with PURE VENOM when he spoke of repuglitards …

    I never heard a 17 year old person speak of kkkarl rove with such hatred

    hey repuglitards, our children is learnin

    they’re learin bout YOU

      • freepatriot says:

        my youngsters are coming home to roost vote

        10 years back or so, when I started tellin the kids “See ya soon” on election day, they thought I was joking

        I got to see about a dozen of em vote this time

        an I’m takin reservations for 2010, 2012, 2014 and beyond

        ain’t democracy great

  30. masaccio says:

    Now that the election is over, we can all go back to the crises we were watching before. They haven’t gotten any better, whether its financial decay, Bush administration efforts to screw us on the way out the door, FISA, or any of the rest.

    I have a post up at Oxdown on the terms of the $25bn we gave to Citigroup, and Yves Smith has another on the subject of what happened to the money we gave to AIG, and their demands for more. It looks like AIG is just a conduit to its counterparties on swaps and other derivatives. I have a small but growing level of concern that the entire risk system is on the verge of collapse.

    Also of interest is Gretchen Morgenson’s article on the demise of Merrill Lynch, which she attributes to derivatives, and which she describes in tedious detail.

    Come to think of it, Yves and I have also written in tedious detail. No one would care if not for the trillions at stake.

    • bmaz says:

      Is it possible to just do away with most classes of derivative financial instruments? And if so, how and where is the line drawn? I have never liked them, have always thought they were Ponzi-like gambling schemes; but that is an overly simplistic reaction I suppose. How do we eliminate this problem?

  31. pdaly says:

    I was in the malls this weekend. Christmas decorations, already!

    Anyway, somewhat on topic: has anyone else noticed an increase in Eskimo and igloo decorations this year?
    Wondering if marketeers were taken by surprise that there will not an Alaskan moving into the VP mansion on the grounds of DC’s US Naval Observatory this year. Wonder if they’ll blame the economy, too, for any left over igloos.

  32. pdaly says:

    No wonder then that Peggy Noonan once defined herself as a Republican–’one who does not believe you can change people.’ Maybe she hung out with AIG types and was speaking from experience.. and for once not juggling clouds with her eyes and cupped hands. Disturbing. (both the fact that she could be right and her juggling habit)

  33. pdaly says:

    OT: Movie critic Roger Ebert has a blog.

    Ebert, by his own admission, is socially conservative, but he’s fighting the good fight with some of his posters:

    By Mickey on November 7, 2008 12:15 PM
    Roger: I love you and don’t want to argue about your opinions (though I assume that your hand would break from the vigorous typing explaining to me how wrong and/or ignorant I am to believe what I do), but I would reduce the amount of pompous that you use in the rice cooker.
    If Obama wants a successful presidency, his hope should be that the far left wing stops the pointing and laughing at 50 million Americans who did not vote for democrats. The Republicans have set a tone of respect and reconciliation with the well-earned win by President-Elect Obama. God, even Elizabeth Hasselback is on board. But that will could easily be diminished if the taunting of traditional values continues.

    Ebert: Can’t say as I’ve heard any taunting. Why must it be “far left wing?” Why not left wing, ofr left, or liberals, or center-left, or “moderate and liberal coalition,” or “majority?” Why is Republicans capitalized but not Democrats? Both are proper nouns. The “tone of respect and reconciliation” is lacking from some of the posts above, as in yours. What would “taunting of traditional values” consist of? Torture? Illegal wiretaps? Uncontrolled deficit spending? Declaring war based on deliberate lies to the American people? The Minnesota GOP headquarters sending out mailings that Obama is a Muslim?

    Can’t wait until he reviews the movie of FDL/ew/jeralyn in DC to broadcast the Libby trial at the Prettyman Courthouse despite big media’s wishes to keep everything hush hush. Hint. Hint.

  34. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Sarah Palin has unrecognized or unacknowledged problems of her own, and they are multiplying. She needs to grab for the brass Senate ring to save herself. One such problem: The “socialist” money she passes out to every Alaskan (her own family budget and lifestyle is likely dependent upon this) is based upon the oil revenues collected by the state and directly tied to oil prices. Anyone noticed the price of oil lately? If Ian is corrct and the oil price continues downward or heaven forbid drops precipitously, Alaskans aren’t going to have to worry about where to spend the oil company largess distributed annually. They may be looking at taxes just to keep the lights on and the wolves away from the state and municipal door.

  35. radiofreewill says:

    Emotionally stunted, intellectually dim and narrow, hanging on – hard! – to all that their grubby little hands could squeeze: these are the Pompous, Hypocritical Haters who bellowed out that they knew what was best for US…while they Lied, Cheated and Stole everything they could – calling US whiners along the way, too.

    We may not be able to get the Money back – they may have let their Cronies gut Our system so badly that it’s going to collapse back to ’bartering’ – but We can get Our Honor back!

    War Crimes Investigations and Trials Now!

    Financial Corruption Investigations and Trials Now!

    Make Them Pay!

    We ought to start with our own Characterless ’leaders’ – Out with the Weaklings Pelosi and Reid!

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