We plan to liveblog tonight's "town hall" debate, cause we had such a fun time doing it last week. I won't hazard a guess on who will win the debate, but I can predict who'll lose -- the audience/the American people.
Nothing is more embarrassing than these "undecideds" asking "earnest" questions of the candidates. The naivety, the populism, the belief that their hopes and dreams somehow lie in who gets elected to political office. (see: The YouTube debates)
In the end, the audience will help enforce the worst insult you can make about Americans: that they deserve the politicians they get.
Not that any of you should really care, but I've been jotting down some of my ongoing thoughts on the election over at my other blog JosephWeisenthal.com. You know: Just in case you were somehow not getting enough politics talk these days.
I missed the debate, but virtually everyone I know seemed to think McCain won, so I'll assume he did. That being said, this is the kind of thing that would bug me. Felix Salmon:
Don't ask me who won the debate in terms of persuading formerly undecided voters to fix an allegiance. The number of undecided voters who understand the difference between financial and fiscal is minuscule, and the number of those who think that the difference actually matters is probably zero. But from a technocratic standpoint, the fact that McCain twice referred to the financial crisis as a "fiscal crisis" is telling.
Although Palin's handling of the issue scores higher on the candor meter than Clinton's, she has the same difficulty reconciling her personal experience with her policy positions, a problem also shared by former pot smoker Barack Obama. None of them has a persuasive answer to the question of why other Americans should be arrested for something they did with impunity.
You know, she's a politician too, so of course she has this problem.
But what bothers me is that Palin's pot use supposedly coincided with when it was legal in Alaska, and not when it was illegal. There are all kinds of good reasons not to smoke pot -- 1) put smokers are frequently dumb, lazy and unmotivated, with terrible aesthetic sense -- but whether it's legal or not hardly seems like a good reason to do it or not to do it.
No doubt, Reason's Matt Welch is not a McCain fan. He even has a book bashing the dude, entitled "The Myth of a Maverick". Still in the name of intellectual honesty, he presents The Libertarian Case for McCain: Seven potential upsides to a maverick presidency. Yes, there are a few dollops of goodness for those of the freedom mindset. My favorite: Divided government. Also, as Welch notes, McCain is a committed free trader, one of the bedrocks of a healthy economy.
One of the enduring moments from the 2000 Republican Primary was when, in a debate, Bush was asked who is favorite political philosopher was. The question was directed at Bush, because, of all the candidates, he seemed the least likely to be comfortable on the question of political philosophy. His brilliant answer, of course: Jesus Christ. He took a lot of shots for that, but it was a great answer. And I never really thought this answer was so bad. I consider myself to be intelligent, but I don't know what I would've said in a similar spot (it wouldn't have been Jesus, but it might've been pretty friggin' stupid).
I'm curious what John McCain would say to the same question. Maybe he'd name some famous war general.
I got thinking about it after hearing his take on the Wall St. crisis, which he somehow related to a "social contract":
The workers, McCain said on FOX, are the "victims'' of greedy and corrupt financiers on Wall Street. "If there is some way to get that money back, there may be legal remedies for some of them,'' McCain said of the financiers who have profited from the risk-taking that has resulted in so much disruption in the financial markets. "There is a social contract between capitalism and the citizen. That has been broken by these Wall Street'' executives.
I'm sorry, but I have no idea what he could possibly be referring to when he says there is a "social contract between capitalism and the citizen". He's just making up sentences here. Where would he even get something like that?
Yesterday, Barck Obama made a lot of hay by attacking McCain on his "the economy is strong" line. But whatever; that's just typical political puffery and politicians from both sides engage in it when it's expediant. But this is the line I'd be all over. He should take this quote, put it in an ad and question how McCain can help the economy, when he obviously hasn't the foggiest notion of capitalism, or whatever this means.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think Obama could do anything either, and I can't stand his populist rhetoric on every business issue. But at least he's read "Friedrich Hayak"
I'm back from Malaysia had a great time, and judging by the news, it seems I picked a great couple of weeks to be away from America. I don't know where to begin.
While I try not to care too much about politics, it was really hard to avoid, even oversees. Even in Malaysia, everyone is following the race between Sarah Palin and Barack Obama.
Sadly, I'll probably feel compelled to write more on the election sooner rather than later (I say sadly, since I think getting too wrapped up in electoral politics is vaguely embarrassing). But I will say that Sarah Palin should be a bit concerned that following 2.5 fantastic weeks, she's not more up on Obama. That should be the big red flag on her side.
A fish without a bicycle? Apparently a small town in New York state has no government after three of its five town boardmembers resigned. Somehow I have a hunch the people in that town will be just fine.
The mood on Obama reminds me of the response of some MR commentators to Eric Lyon on Radiohead.
I cannot imagine how devastated and hopeless the Democratic left would feel if Obama loses. That response would be a big mistake but in part it explains "Obama insecurity." The left is uneasy that so many of their hopes are pinned on this man and as Paul Krugman points out he is somewhat unknown. There is a secondary fear that Obama is in fact committed to the notion of America as a center-right country or at least is unwilling to challenge that idea.
The Stalwart is a blog written by Joseph Weisenthal, covering such topics as stocks, business, economics, politics, technology, gambling, chess, poker, economics, current events, music, math, Chinese food, science, randomness, kurtosis, sports, evolutionary fitness, and anything else of the author's choosing. The words contained herein are the author's own, not affiliated with any other firm or employer.