In the Pointless Forest, You'll See What You Want to See, and Hear What You Want to Hear

CQ Politics has a smart analysis of the fraying Reagan Coalition, and its collective lack of rallying (so far) either for John McCain or against Barack Obama. Excerpt:

McCain worked during the primaries to emphasize aspects of himself with appeal to independents and centrist Democrats. It was a calculation, his conservative critics say, based largely on his assumption that the Democrats would nominate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who's so deeply loathed by movement conservatives that they would have swallowed hard and embraced McCain for the sake of her defeat.

But Obama doesn't generate nearly as much visceral disdain. [...]

The National Rifle Association (NRA), for example, has struggled to convince members that McCain is the candidate most supportive of gun rights. After the NRA sent out an e-mail last month attacking Obama, the group was surprised by the backlash it received. "Amazingly, some people still don't believe Obama is radically anti-gun," a follow-up message sent the next week said. "Some have gone so far as to claim that NRA was actually misrepresenting Obama's anti-gun positions."

I find that last anecdote especially illustrative and interesting, given what Senior Editor Jacob Sullum has described as Obama's "toothless" view of the Second Amendment. It's a classic example of how few things are as politically potent as the Benefit of the Doubt, something that McCain has long banked on but that Obama might have in deeper reserve this time around, due to his blanker slate and hopier hopetasticness.

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  • Elemenope||

    Obama pwns McCain on "benefit of teh doubt" reserves, if only because we've collectively known McCain a fucking long time (and observed his extremely painful flip-flops during the the reign of Bush the Lesser).

    Plus, he's shorter, older, and just flat-out less purrty than his opponent. Ugly people don't get second chances. (It's a terrible, cruel world.)

  • ||

    Thank you so much for the Harry Nilsson reference. I once owned the original LP with the enclosed book. Damn, I wish I still had it.

  • Fluffy||

    I think McCain is experiencing the reverse of benefit of the doubt.

    I honestly don't know a lot about McCain's gun record or positions. But since I know he hates the 1st and 4th Amendments, if I wanted to be a dick [I know, I know - like that would ever happen] I might decide to just assume he's bad on the 2nd Amendment too.

    His marks every other freedom with an asterisk that says, "Subject to the requirements of National Greatness", so why should guns be any different?

  • Episiarch||

    Obama might have in deeper reserve this time around, due to his blanker slate and hopier hopetasticness

    Don't forget his changier changelingness.

    The new meme on the Obaminator from the right seems to be that it's all about himself, and that he's Ego-Man, older brother of Id-Man.

  • ||

    "Amazingly, some people still don't believe Obama is radically anti-gun more interested in his own benefit than theirs"

  • jtuf||

    Obama's campaign started with, "I'm above political tactics." It has morphed into, "How dare you play politics by mentioning my imperfections."

  • Elemenope||

    Obama's campaign started with, "I'm above political tactics." It has morphed into, "How dare you play politics by mentioning my imperfections."

    To be fair, it's awfully hard to run for president on your imperfections in this day and age, when politicians are supposed to be squeaky clean. For comparison, Grover Cleveland had a child out of wedlock when such a thing was a whispered no-no; when asked about he said "Yeah. So?"

    He won.

    To Obama's credit, while he didn't exactly admit to snorting cocaine off of a prostitute's breast, he did admit to snorting cocaine. Unfortunately, this experience has not made the full translation into political policy, but then again for a Black national office candidate, it *can't*.

  • Abdul||

    hopier hopetasticness

    Best two-word summary of Obama ever written.

  • ||

    Said it almost 10 months ago, now. Obama over McCain (60/40) in the electoral college.

  • Matt Welch||

    I once owned the original LP with the enclosed book.

    Mine is sitting 10 feet from where I type!

  • ||

    Elemenope,

    It's not that we expect more from our candidates these days. But when they get caught, they offer us half-hearted apologies, misdirecting justifications, or bald-faced denials. Then they get dropped by the party.

    Cleveland was probably the last president to consider being so candid about his own character.

  • ||

    Obama is getting the benefit of the doubt because of his Democratic Unrepublicanasticity.

    It's 2008. People want to vote for the Democrat, and want to vote against the Republican.

  • ktc2||

    After W why would anyone think McCain or any R would be better on 2nd Amendment?

    Didn't the W admin file a brief opposing the outcome of Heller (ie in favor of the ban)?

  • Colin||

    Obama once proposed banning gun sales within five miles of a school or park -- meaning just about everywhere.

    He has supported every gun ban, including the DC one -- at least, until the Supreme Court decision.

    He has even supported a ban on the manufacturing of handguns.

    What's unclear about his position?

    These people may be very surprised when their gun rights are slowly whittled away to nothing under Obama. But then again, perhaps they'll be just like the frog sitting in the pot not realizing the water's too hot until it's too late.

  • ||

    I once owned the original LP with the enclosed book.

    Mine is sitting 10 feet from where I type!



    Even as I acknowldge envy as one of the the seven deadly sins, under my breath I mutter "That lucky bastard Matt, Grrr".
    :-)

  • Elemenope||

    It's not that we expect more from our candidates these days. But when they get caught, they offer us half-hearted apologies, misdirecting justifications, or bald-faced denials. Then they get dropped by the party.

    It's hard to get more direct than "I snorted cocaine." But maybe that's just me.

  • ||

    It's 2008. People want to vote for the Democrat, and want to vote against the Republican.

    Which explains the softness of Obama's support. Given the full media fellatio he's gotten so far, you'd think he'd be doing better, no?

    I'm not sure we've seen the top of the Obama market yet, but I suspect we're close, because from here on out people are going be getting to know more about him, and as they do he will become more ordinary. He's still the favorite, but absent some kind of McCain meltdown (not all that unlikely by any means), I don't see a landslide.

  • Guy Montag||

    Love that title! First time I have seen one of my favorite prime-time cartoons (just one, not a series) in a headline.

    Didn't it air on ABC in the 1970s?

  • ||

    Which explains the softness of Obama's support.

    Actually, Obama's support is much firmer than McCain's. They linked to a poll on Kos a few days ago, showing that, IIRC, Obama had 45% overall support with 38% saying they would definitely vote for him. McCain had 40% support, with somewhere around 20% saying they would definitely vote for him.

    Given the full media fellatio he's gotten so far, you'd think he'd be doing better, no? Running against media darling McCain, who calls the press "my base?" No, I'd expect one media darling to do about that well against another media darling.

    He's still the favorite, but absent some kind of McCain meltdown (not all that unlikely by any means), I don't see a landslide. I think we're going to be in the Clinton/Dole neighborhod. Not Reagan 84, but not Bush 04, either.

  • Colin||

    You really think a Kos poll is objective?

  • Elemenope||

    You really think a Kos poll is objective?

    It's a poll linked to on Kos, not a poll *from* Kos. Is it too much to ask for people to tell the difference on these types of things?

  • No Name Guy||

    Don't worry, the media will start dumping all over obama like they did from March-May earlier this year in the fall once they get bitched at enough for being to nice to him. Count on it. They have a love-hate relationship with this guy.

  • ||

    Colin,

    It wasn't a Kos poll, it was a real poll that Kos linked to.

  • Elemenope||

    hopier hopetasticness.

    I like my politicians like I want my beer: plenty of hops.

  • hotsauce||

    Obama is getting the benefit of the doubt because of his Democratic Unrepublicanasticity.

    It's 2008. People want to vote for the Democrat, and want to vote against the Republican.



    This is mostly true. I have friends, Republicans all of them, with Obama signs in their yards. It's quite a sight really. I doubt very much, though, that if the Dem nominee (presumptive) were Hillary that this would be the case.

  • ||

    # J sub D | July 22, 2008, 10:12am | #
    # Thank you so much for the Harry Nilsson
    # reference. ... Damn, I wish I still had it.

    Thanks from me, too. When I saw the title of the I said, "Can it be? Naw... But it was."

    Damn, I wish we still had him.

  • ||

    xxx title of the THREAD

  • ||

    I'm saddened, but not surprised, to see the NRA sucking up to McCain. I'd hoped Barr might be able to work his connections there.

  • ||

    Andy, The NRA is not going to endorse a minor party candidate. In their magazines they always not that LP candidates score A+ on the questionaire, but they'll alway endorse a R or D with a lower score.

    It would have been interesting to see what they would have done if Richardson had gotten the D nod. They endorsed him in the NM governor's race.

  • ||

    Isaac-

    I know their SOP. It just seemed that the combination of McCain vs. Obama, plus Barr's affiliation with the NRA, was something of a perfect storm. If they were ever going to endorse a third party candidate, this would be the candidate they'd endorse, and against these opponents.

    But alas, idiocracy marches on, and the NRA will end up endorsing a candidate who they've (rightfully) openly loathed for years.

  • ||

    Conservatives will not vote for a candidate who embraces the spirit of ever expanding government power at the expense of individual liberties, freedoms, and opportunity. McCain, like Bush is an advocate of the groth of government. Why should conservatives rally to him?

    I intend to support and work for conservatives. I have had my fill of RINOs. It took Carter to get us Reagan and Ford and Nixon to give us Carter. Do we really want or need McCain?

  • ||

    Running against media darling McCain, who calls the press "my base?" No, I'd expect one media darling to do about that well against another media darling.

    joe, if you think Big Media hasn't opted for Obama over McCain, you are in a bubble of some kind. Compare the time given to each, the number of favorable mentions given to each, and, just to close the deal, the number of network anchors that went overseas with Obama compared to the number that have gone overseas with McCain (or even a sitting US President). They're in the tank for Hope 'n' Change, make no mistake.

    McCain, like Bush is an advocate of the groth of government. Why should conservatives rally to him?

    I think that's his fundamental problem. Obama is a very beatable candidate, but only by a Republican who can get his base out. McCain has bet on winning with moderates and independents, and Obama will beat him there.

  • JB||

    Half of Obama's supporters think he is the second coming. He is going to wave his magic Obama-wand and solve all problems.

    I just can't wait until he tries gun confiscation. Then it's party time, excellent.

  • ||

    Or maybe, the honest to gosh truth is, that Obama has no plans to Come and Take Our Guns Away.

    I'm not saying he's the world's most dedicated defender of the 2nd Amendment. Far from it. I'm saying I don't think he much cares about this as an issue, and plans to stay far away from it. What has he ever said in this campaign that suggests he wants to restrict gun ownership? If he's ever asked about it he looks like he wishes he could just change the damn subject.

    Given that, it's no wonder that NRA members are skeptical when their leadership tries to tell them that he's "radically anti-gun." Because he isn't. Even if he has really does have a "toothless" view of the second amendment, that's not the same thing as being "radically anti-gun."

  • ||

    It's certainly self-evident that gun control isn't much of a priority for Obama, but he's also clearly a gun banner at heart. And four, maybe eight years, is a long time with an activist Democratic Congress. I agree any kind of confiscation is extremely unlikely, but expect a lot of under-the-media-radar tinkering. The supposed "gun show loophole" (also known as one private individual buying a gun from another private individual) is almost certainly gone, and I wouldn't be too surprised to see some version of the Assault Weapons Ban return to haunt us from the grave.

    Luckily a lot the new Dems in Congress are Western, Bill Richardson types.

  • LarryA||

    Conservatives will not vote for a candidate who embraces the spirit of ever expanding government power at the expense of individual liberties, freedoms, and opportunities.

    Unless it's Christian government power at the expense of individual liberties, freedoms, and opportunities not scripturally approved.

    OTOH, the more I hear from Obama the more I think he considers Chicago an example of good government. [shudder]

    I just can't wait until he tries gun confiscation. Then it's party time, excellent.

    If the Democratic leadership is really stupid enough to push their "common sense gun laws" through Congress, they'll lose their majority in 2010.

    It's certainly self-evident that gun control isn't much of a priority for Obama, but he's also clearly a gun banner at heart.

    Will Obama enter the White House with "assault rifles," gun shows, and concealed carry high on his list? Not if he's politically savvy. (An unproven assumption.) But there are senior Democratic members of Congress who will propose the laws. If they pass (which they may not, given the Western Democrats) Obama will gladly sign them.

  • Anonymous Hero||

    "Unless it's Christian government power at the expense of individual liberties, freedoms, and opportunities not scripturally approved."

    I wish. Today's fascists (you know, socialist populists pushing nationalization), like usual, are pure products of the Left. Il Baruce cares for undeclared workers and represents hope for free health care and safety from homeowners murdering immigrants in their own home!

  • ||

    Obama was on the board of directors for the Joyce Foundation, which is the non-profit that funds the vast majority of anti-gun groups in this country.

    In Illinois there was a case of a man who defended his home with an illegally-owned pistol.

    For this, he was charged with a crime. Several Illinois legislators, in a fit of rational thinking, opted to draft a law that would make it illegal to prosecute an Illinois resident for defending his/her home with a gun held in violation of the law.

    Obama voted against this bill.

    I fundamentally don't understand how people can think that Obama is neutral or even pro-gun.

    Every vote the man has ever cast on an issue dealing with guns shows him to be an anti-gun extremist.

    That he's tempered his speech to appear moderate on the gun issue is fundamentally of no importance. It's all spin in an attempt to appeal to the middle.

  • The situation is beyond parody||

    That he's tempered his speech to appear moderate on the gun issue is fundamentally of no importance.

    This reasonable argument pops up everywhere, and Obama supporters shout it down by insinuating that it takes him out of context, or it doesn't matter because gun rights aren't an issue in this campaign after Heller, or that the arguer is fabricating the argument in order to push a cryptoracist agenda. I hope everyone has witnessed it themselves (though there's not much of this at reason) and understand that I'm understating the situation.

    It seems impossible for an election that's lasted so long that it's only July, and even Obama thinks it's over.

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