The Madness of Crowds

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I've been mixing up coverage of the Ron Paul movement with coverage of the frontrunners in New Hampshire. Barack Obama arrives late to massive rallies (where half or more of the people in line get turned away, the rooms being just too small) where he uncorks a 30-40 minute stump speech and takes no questions. John McCain busses into hokey town halls where his questions are increasingly friendly and the fire marshalls turn away spectators, who keep trickling in after the events kick off. John Edwards' events go the same way, with smaller crowds. Mike Huckabee holds the goofiest political events since the rise of Screaming Lord Sutch, 60 percent music and Chuck Norris and 40 percent his compassionate conservative spiel. Mitt Romney draws the smallest numbers and turns the most seats empty during his speech.

I have yet to see Clinton in action, but Roger Simon has and frames the difference like this:

Obama said things like: "We are one nation; we are one people; and our time for change has come."

Clinton said things like: "I founded in the Senate the Bipartisan Manufacturing Caucus."

This increasingly seems off to me: Obama's speeches are veined with cliches like "working for main street, not wall street," and I talk to people coming out who wanted more specifics. (Obama shunts those into one part of the speech, saying "they" don't want you to pay attention to his ideas like $4000 school tuition credits, and the second time I heard it he didn't even tie it to national service.) But I'm not a New Hampshire voter. The sense here is that Romney is melting away and McCain is heading to a 10-point win. Something similar's happening with Clinton-Obama, but not as dramatically. Huckabee is poaching a bit of the protest vote that would otherwise go to Ron Paul. There are people at these events who want a family man, or a guy who'd abolish the IRS, and after Iowa they see Huckabee as more electable.

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  1. I couldn’t stand it when the candidates were stealing Ron Paul’s talking points. To be fair Fred Thompson always has talked about the constitution, but Ron Paul had his revenge on Huckabee talking about the IRS when he brought up that the Huck had consistently raised taxes.

    For those interested, there is an excellent NH townhall Q&A that Ron Paul did instead of appearing at the Fox News debate. It will also be broadcast by C-SPAN. BTW, am I first post?

  2. am I first post?

    Mods, any chance you could copy Fark’s filter? This forum needs newb self-pwnage for lolz.

  3. For those confused: Fark’s filter changes “first post” to “boobies!” and sets the post’s timestamp to some time in the future so it’s no longer first. Or at least it used to; I haven’t hung out at Fark for ages.

  4. Well, I could always get around it by typing Frist Post!

  5. If what you say is true about Romney, his campaign may be in serious trouble after New Hampshire. Given the money he spent in Iowa and N.H. it would not fare well for him to walk away without a victory.

    I guess with McCain getting his moment in the Sun folks won’t be able to hold Ron Paul’s age against him when he works his way to the top. It will be interesting to see how Paul fares against Rudy, Huckabee and Thompson on Tuesday. Huck has been stealing pages from Ron Paul’s book but that can often work the other way.

  6. I’m not upset that other candidates are stealing bits and pieces of Paul’s platform. If they are paying lip service to it now, it’s more likely that someone will hold them accountable later (assuming the poacher wins, post general election).

  7. Huckabee…sure loves to use Ron Paul’s ideas
    and pretend they’re his…it’s not what Huckster is telling you that’s dangerous…it’s what he’s NOT telling you that is…What next Minister Mike…a blimp??

    Huck’s recent talk about the Constitution is lip service…Ron Paul was, is and will remain the only real defender of the Constitution…check the record.

    GOOGLE RON PAUL FOR PRESIDENT 2008

  8. My father and I were watching the ABC debate on Saturday and saw right through Huckabee’s faithless pandering. He still isn’t on board with Paul, but he’s anti Huckabee and anti Giuliani, a small blessing in itself. I’m hoping the people of New Hampshire get the same message and go for Paul. I really don’t want to fall under 15% in NH.

  9. Huckabee is poaching a bit of the protest vote that would otherwise go to Ron Paul. There are people at these events who want a family man, or a guy who’d abolish the IRS, and after Iowa they see Huckabee as more electable.

    I’ve been thinking that for a while. It’s odd, given how different they are on almost all of the issues, but they both tap into the same vein of traditionalists who feel alienated from the Republican Party.

  10. Getting other people to “steal” Paul’s ideas is sort of the point of his campaign, isn’t it?

  11. joe,

    I think we’re afraid that they’re stealing the talking points, but ignoring the ideas behind the talking points. Its called pandering when you don’t really believe it. I want someone who really believes it and outlines the plan, not just the soundbites.

  12. Part of the reason I support Ron Paul is so that others in the GOP will start copying his ideas. That’s the whole point in supporting somebody who probably won’t win. Please, Huckaeeyotch, steal more.

  13. Getting other people to “steal” Paul’s ideas is sort of the point of his campaign, isn’t it?

    Well, yeah, if they’ll actually do it. Which we know they won’t.

  14. L.I.T., sage,

    Take heart! This is a democracy, so talking to the public about ideas accomplishes something all by itself.

    So people hear and like some Paul-ish idea that comes out Huckabee’s mouth, and are disappointed six years later when he hasn’t acted on it. At least they’ve heard it; at least they’re disappointed about it.

    The thing is, cynically putting an idea into our public discourse gets it out there just the same as sincerely discussing it.

  15. So people hear and like some Paul-ish idea that comes out Huckabee’s mouth, and are disappointed six years later when he hasn’t acted on it. At least they’ve heard it; at least they’re disappointed about it.

    …or 8 years later when Bush abandons his promise of fiscal conservatism and moderation or humble foreign policy….

    I’d believe it if Thompson or McCain started talking like Paul, but Huckabee will never in a million years be Paul-like.

  16. L.I.T.,

    It is extremely unlikely that Paul will, under any circumstances, have much of an impact on the federal government over the next four or eight years.

    Probably as little as Barry Goldwater had on the federal government from 1964-1972.

    That shouldn’t be the yardstick.

  17. Joe’s right. Look at how the GOP came into power in congress in ’94(?). There were more than a few folks disappointed with the (lack of) results there.

  18. Joe’s right

    Be still my beating heart…

  19. “This increasingly seems off to me: Obama’s speeches are veined with cliches”

    David, meet American politics. American politics, meet David.

  20. Seriously, Obama is the emptiest suit there is. All he’s done is rewrap tired old platitudes with the rhetoric of hope.

  21. Please, NH, just make sure Paul beats Rudy:

    “Abraham Lincoln picked all of his Republican rivals. He put them in the Cabinet. So the Cabinet would look like last night’s debate …With maybe one exception.”

    Some reporters interpreted that remarks as a swipe at the least popular kid in class, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, but Giuliani was referring to Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

    “I think you know who I was talking about,” Giuliani told reporters in Nashua. “Come on. That was pretty obvious.”

    What’s even more obvious is, you’re an authoritarian douche bag.

    (And remember, kids, terrorism has nothing to do with out foreign policy. NOTHING.)

  22. I would like to thank David Weigel for forcing me to go read the Wikipedia entry for Screaming Lord Sutch. Stuff like that makes politics in general seem less depressing.

  23. Huckabe doesn’t believe in the Constitution he believes in Jesus. I would love to ask him what he would do if his constitutional duty as President conflicted with his duty as a Christian.

    Now a sane answer to that is that that would never happen because Christianity is a religion of personal not national salvation. But Huckabe can’t give that answer because according to him he is running for Jesus. Well, I am pretty sure Jesus can take care of himself. I would like to have a President who will worry about the country.

  24. The McCain movement is fairly predictable given his record in NH. The only surprise is that his staff meltdown had such positive results. The biggest surprise is the Obama surge which, with all due respect to Weigel, is bigger than McCain.

    Paul is going to pull his 10 percent and slide into nonrelevance from NH on out. Romney will try to spend his way back to relevance. Thompson is hoping Huckabee wilts. Guiliani is waiting. McCain is hoping that people will think of him as “Maverick” not “Methuselah.”

    Whatever they might say publicly, all of the candidates would rather face Clinton with her amazingly high negatives than Obama. If Obama becomes the Dems nomination, folks, he’s going to be the next president, empty suit or not.

  25. I suspect the incredible Huck would do the same as “christian” business owners, ignore the teachings in favor of personal gain or increased power.

  26. Whatever they might say publicly, all of the candidates would rather face Clinton with her amazingly high negatives than Obama.

    That’s why we’re seeing this all over the country:

    “Dear Editor, as a life-long member of the Democrat Party, I am concerned that Hussein O’bama won’t be as strong a candidate Republicans as the She-Beast, Hitlery…”

  27. er, “against the Republicans”

  28. Dave Weigel:

    I can get horserace and meta from any other MSM hack. Word on the street is that Hillary is opening the floor to questions. Why don’t you be a Nick Gillespie-style Bad Boy [TM] and go ask a question or two?

    Alternatively, just tell us what you had for lunch.

  29. I would love to ask him what he would do if his constitutional duty as President conflicted with his duty as a Christian.

    I believe the correct answer is “resign his office”, which is how principled people deal with such conflicts in the larger world. However, Huckabee is a power-seeker first and a Christian second (a quite common ordering of priorities among clergy of all faiths, unfortunately), so there’s no way he’d give that answer.

  30. “I believe the correct answer is “resign his office”, which is how principled people deal with such conflicts in the larger world. However, Huckabee is a power-seeker first and a Christian second (a quite common ordering of priorities among clergy of all faiths, unfortunately), so there’s no way he’d give that answer.”

    Absolutely true. If we were a truly committed Christian he would have never left his ministry and got involved in politics. Jesus performed miracles, spoke the truth and tried to reform Jewish society. He started a faith, not a political party.

  31. …which doesn’t mean that Christians can’t be involved in politics, any more than they shouldn’t be involved in road construction. There’s nothing un-Christian about taking care of the business that needs to be done.

    They just shouldn’t think that tof politics or their road-building as a way to advance Christianity.

  32. Ron Paul isn’t much of a family man- married to the same woman 50 years with all those kids and grandkids and everything.

    And I watched a speech by Michelle Obama ( she makes HIGH six figures, right?) where she thanked people for buying Barak’s books because that was the only way they would have ever made enough money to pay off her student loans. So she understands all the young people struggling with loan debt and whether to make that “investment decision.”

  33. Joe,

    I guess I don’t read the papers as much as you do. While I a find it difficult to overstate the stupidity of the American electorate, I think most vertebrates know that Obama is a tougher game for the GOP than Clinton. Sure, the name is little funny for some Red Staters, but so is “Oprah.” The country (in the broadest terms) is tired of war, tired of bible thumping, tired of BS and worried about the economy. The more the GOP plays to the traditional pro-War, pro-God crowd to win the nomination, the more they piss away the general election.

  34. Here’s my solemn pledge:

    If Ron Paul does better than fifth place in NH, my last post here will be an abject apology.

  35. Edward | January 7, 2008, 12:13pm | #

    Here’s my solemn pledge:

    If Ron Paul does better than fifth place in NH, my last post here will be an abject apology.”

    Dear God,
    You can take me home immediately if you will just let Ron Paul place at least 4th in N.H.

  36. All I can be glad for is that soon, these people will vote, and no one will need to ‘speculate’ any more about the candidates potential positions

    I think most vertebrates know that Obama is a tougher game for the GOP than Clinton.

    I agree in general with Ortega taco shells. 🙂 The rumbling from the anti-obamaites tends towards the “DO YOU KNOW HIS MIDDLE NAME IS HUSSIEN>?!?!” variety. Clinton on the other hand drives even many democrats into fuming rage without any help.

    joe, the letters to the editor type shit you mention are basically clinton-partisans. A long time democratic operative in NY told me “Hilary’s got this all sewed up already”. I met him after obama won Iowa, and he was admittedly flummoxed. The idea that Obama is weaker than clinton against the GOP in the national race is pure balony. More people will come out to vote AGAINST hil than would Obama. Obama also seems to be pulling really well with the young votes, which will clinch a victory against a GOP thats flailing overall.

  37. If Ron Paul does better than fifth place in NH, my last post here will be an abject apology.

    That’s all fine, Ed, but what we want to know is when you will finally post your last?

  38. Gilmore,

    Did you see the fake pro-Hillary blog comment I copied yesterday? That wasn’t actually a Clinton partisan, but a Republican posing as a Clinton partisan.

    Republicans have been playing scary Hussein Osama card and trying to pawn it off on Hillary ever since that Faux Nooz piece.

  39. One word, Joe. Backlash. If the “Dirty Tricks” HRC breaks wide, it will hurt her badly. Why? Most people suspect she’s the kind of person who will do anything to get elected and she’s been in the political game long enough where she doesn’t have a chance of plausible deniability. She is screwed because her best pitch against Obama is her experience which is also one of her biggest weaknesses… she a business-as-usual pol in an election cycle where people think business as usual sucks. She has to hope for a Howard Dean-like miscue.

  40. “I think most vertebrates know that Obama is a tougher game for the GOP than Clinton.”

    I think Obama is much more formidable than Clinton. There would be tremendous pressure on white americans to vote for him to show were not racist. At least here is Washington, you hardly ever see Obama signs in black neighborhoods. Go to a rich white liberal neighborhood and they are everywhere. Also, the country has had 20 years of a Clinton or Bush in the Whitehouse. I don’t think they want four more, if for no other reason than they just want something new.

  41. You’re going to start seeing a lot more Obama signs in black neighborhoods now that he’s won something.

    40% of black voters in South Carolina said they didn’t think Obama could win against a Republican, even as all of the polling shows hims cleaning every Republican candidate’s clock.

    The sight of Obama winning elections, all by itself, is going to change race relations in this country for the better.

  42. joe,

    Obama’s black?

  43. No, PL, he’s an Eskimo.

  44. Joe,

    I thought he was Mexican. If Obama had a good sense of humor he would get the guy from “Super Troopers” with the mustastache whom you never figure out during the movie what race he actually is and start making campaign appearances with the guy in character.

  45. he is screwed because her best pitch against Obama is her experience

    Experience at what, exactly?

  46. Experience at what, exactly?

    At dealing with governmenty-type-stuff from the president’s p.o.v.

    I think of Hillary’s experience in the White House as being comparable to that of Leon Panetta, or Scooter Libby, or Josh from the West Wing. Top-level White House aide. It’s not the equivalent of being Vice President, but it’s not “picking china and hosting receptions,” either.

  47. If the good and great Lord Sutch yet lived, he would surely be in charge of the Arkansas Guv’s spot ad production.

    As is, brace yourselves for a last minute blitz by Jello Biafra and the Dead Huckabees

  48. Obama may not be that good at beating the GOP. His speeches are full of free-floating abstractions — aka ‘Change for a New Tomorrow’ — and even the ditziest voter will notice after a while.

    We’re nine trillion dollars in debt, the dollar is collapsing like the South Tower, and we need a man with a plan. So far Obama hasn’t told us when he’s going to pull out of Iraq, let alone how he’s going to fix the economy.

    Even the ditzes will notice after a while.

  49. Joe, please, let go of HRC. Let her slide back into the fetid swamp of the U.S. Senate where she can coexist with the other political reptiles. This is like “Dune,” Joe. “Clinton” is a killing word.

  50. “even the ditziest voter will notice after a while.” The same ditzy voters that never noticed Reagan’s lack of “content”?

  51. “Experience at what, exactly?”

    RC, HRC has proven herself adept at standing by her man.

    She also claims to be the candidate of change.
    Please, somebody insert a dollar in her and see if she returns four quarters.

  52. When you’re broke, increasing spending doesn’t get you out of the problem.

    Also, damning Reagan doesn’t get you out of the problem.

    Telling someone to stop pining over HRC (as if!) doesn’t get you out of the problem.

    Making obscure references to a 1960s science fiction novel doesn’t get you out of the problem.

    If Obama is the man, then what’s his plan?

  53. Sorry, I thought you weere the other Joe.

    I actually liked Reagan. I just don’t think a President needs a plan… any more than any other figurehead needs a plan. What we want is someone that is charming and funny and looks good on TV and tells us what we want to hear. Relax, a hundred million other people will elect the president, not you or me.

  54. joe | January 7, 2008, 12:30pm | #

    Gilmore,

    Did you see the fake pro-Hillary blog comment I copied yesterday? That wasn’t actually a Clinton partisan, but a Republican posing as a Clinton partisan.

    Republicans have been playing scary Hussein Osama card and trying to pawn it off on Hillary ever since that Faux Nooz piece.

    No. didnt see that. But I hear you. Both sides have been ‘pretending’ to represent the other parties side by dragging out the worst of the respective constituencies. (e.g. wouldnt be surprised if TLB was a software program written by the RealMexicanCIA – he gives the anti immigration folks such a bad name)

    This whole deal about Obama’s ‘fuzziness’ and ‘lack of a plan’ is sort of a joke. Which one of these other people has a realistic plan you think they’ll actually come to the table with? (DONT SAY PAUL) Its an unfair accusation when virtually all of the candidates are empty shirts, and actually take pride in the fact that they are all slightly different versions of vanilla pudding-politics. In fact, Paul IS the only one you can be sure has a real agenda. As for Obama, one thing I like about him is that (unlike Hil) he has so little baggage that will have greater freedoms to develop more moderate proposals that get bipartisan support.

    whatever… my feeling is the guy has the best chance of winning, and the alternatives are all pretty shit. Yes, I wish he were more free market. I wish he were less wishy washy. Unfortunately, no one is going to elect the Strong Positioned Leader Who Really Wants To Reform Medicare and the IRS and Currency and Foreign Policy… all these voters want “change” in style, not details about the change in substance = which scares them…

  55. If Congress had any sense I’d agree the President doesn’t need a plan, but when you are A) at war, even if you want to end it and/or B) have a Congress that can’t wipe their own ass, then you as President need to make decisions. You need to know what to do. I think Obama has no plan. He will make his decisions based on what Congress does, but I think he knows the Constitution well enough to make hsi decision to sign or veto “sound” well enough to the American people. Hillary has many plans, but they all suck. Most of the Republicans have plans (except for Fred) and they all suck, save for Ron Paul or maybe some of Romney’s domestic policy plans. His war plan has yet to be defined but chances are it sucks. Obama’s and Paul’s “plans” are the safest. They start with ending the war and from there implement what they can through Congress. Safe, especially if they have a Congress opposite of their party which now means Paul is safer. Make your decision accordingly.

  56. Gilmore, I typed my last post before I read yours…not that I would give a shit what you advised, but it really was an original thought;)

  57. Nick | January 7, 2008, 4:52pm | #
    I think Obama has no plan.

    In the calculus of, “No plan vs. shitty plan that will never see the light of day and change the moment I face contact with ‘the enemy (congress)”, I choose No Plan as the superior choice.

    Again, his lack of experience and lack of plan i think gives him potentially the greatest political flexibility to govern from the center.

    Anyway. I dont rate the increased presidential authority case in time of war very high at the moment. I dont think anyone who gets elected is going to be able to do very much with the war in their first term, aside from babysit our babysitting armies until we think we have an window to leave completely. And thats probably not until 2012.

    Hey, if anyone saw roger clemen’s press conf this afternoon, it was pretty cool. He was PISSED OFF. I think his closing statement was “I dont give a rats ass”.

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