Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's Not How McCain Said It; It's What He *Said*

As you will no doubt be aware, last Wednesday Senator John McCain called a press conference to denounce the Obama Administration's lack of forthrightness on the subject of the Benghazi attack, at the same precise moment that the Obama Administration was briefing the senate on the subject of the Benghazi attack. At the end of the press conference the senator did not take questions, but the following morning CNN producer Ted Barrett managed to catch up with him and ask why he would express outrage over an apparent cover-up by the White House, instead of attending a meeting in which the facts as we know them were being presented by the White House.

As you will no doubt be aware, the senator's reaction was blistering and profane. McCain refused to comment about why he missed the briefing -- which was conducted by top diplomatic, military and counter-terrorism officials -- instead becoming increasingly testy when pressed to explain why he wasn’t there. “I have no comment about my schedule and I’m not going to comment on how I spend my time to the media,” McCain said. Asked why he wouldn’t comment, McCain grew agitated. “Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?” When CNN noted that McCain had missed a key meeting on a subject the senator has been intensely upset about, McCain said, “I’m upset that you keep badgering me.”

This story has been all over the political news, from mainstream outlets to amateur bloggers and back again, with withering coverage of McCain's once-again-proven inability to contain his emotions. Comment threads below the various stories about this incident have described Mr. McCain as a sore-headed old crank, and even some members of his own party have apparently wondered aloud at his judgment, with Senator Susan Collins referring to the proposed formation of a special investigative committee by noting that the existing Select Committee on Intelligence is already co-chaired by "Senator Carl Levin, who was at the White House briefing on Wednesday, and by Senator John McCain, who was not."

The admittedly unflattering narrative of this event, we are to believe, is that Mr. McCain is too short-tempered for either his own good or that of his party.  It's a fun story to see covered this way, not least because journalists are finally beginning to wonder -- albeit implicitly, at least for the most part -- what the Administration would stand to gain by misrepresenting what it knew and when it knew it regarding an attack on one of our consulates. Mostly, however, the coverage has been conspicuously confined to the emotional temperature of McCain's reply to Barrett. There's only one small problem with journalists covering the McCain outburst in this fashion, which is that is misses the point as completely as if they'd reported on a show-jumping competition instead.
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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Yeah, Well, That's All I Got; Sorry.

Lately I've been thinking even more than usual about my own judgement -- at least some of which is, to put it charitably, ad hoc. I'm a paid expert on the subject of money, who hasn't had a meaningful insight into shrewd financial decision-making more than a few times in his whole life. I am profoundly, sometimes astonishingly klutzy. I take insufficient care of myself (in much the same way that there is insufficient peace in the Middle East, I suppose). I have had arguments that make very little sense.

There would've been a time when I'd have said these things with shame, or frustration, or self-loathing, but these days it feels something more like entertaining: as if I had a free subscription to a 3D sitcom in which the irregularly competent hero with the tourette's syndrome of the hands is played by someone who looks and talks and falls down a lot like I do. If nothing else, it has made for a lot of unanticipated stimuli. There's really only one major decision-making tool I've perfected, but lucky for me it's been a pretty doggone important one, too: My entire life, going back to early childhood, I've always made it a point to have a project.
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Monday, November 12, 2012

Final Predictions, Part Two

With the benefit of a couple of extra days of dust-settling (to say nothing of one last, momentous call for President Obama in the Sunshine State), the postmortem on the 2012 election has hit its stride, with some pretty interesting results: Republicans, for the most part, are in less of a de-legitimizing frame of mind than I might have predicted, and not independently the White House seems poised to flex a little bit of its post-electoral muscle. Both outcomes are worthy of a few thoughts here.
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Friday, November 9, 2012

Here's a Must-Watch, Must-Share Video

Rachel Maddow, explaining to Republicans what it will take for them to be nationally competitive in future elections and -- perhaps surprisingly -- why the rest of us are depending on it.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Stay Tuned

Yesterday afternoon and evening several loyal readers logged in or privately expressed "welcome back" sentiments, and I am truly grateful for the thought. Over the next few days I plan to digest a few reactions and few more predictions for the future of the country (and of both parties' agendas). For now, let's all enjoy the moment.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Live Blogging the 2012 Election (Hit Refresh for Updates)

2:01AM: Well, that's it for me. Have a great night (morning) and congratulations to us all. Here is the map you will wake up to tomorrow, I think, minus Alaska -- which I forgot to paint in red before I took this screen-capture:

2:00AM: What a terrific moment. A lot of people have said this evening that the Republican party has to do a better job of reaching out demographically, but listening to the President deliver this speech I'm just not sure how that happens. There's clearly only party that gives anything like a genuine and sincere hoot about most of the people living in this country. I mean, what are Republicans planning to say to hard-working Hispanic service-workers, "We'll do away with your Medicaid, but we'll be sure to print the notice in both languages?"

1:58AM: This is clearly who this guy wanted to be all along. He needs advisors who will let him be this guy. Like catchers say in baseball, it's better to have your pitcher throw the wrong pitch with conviction than the right one with doubt. He should have been allowed to talk this way all summer and fall, and he'd have won an even bigger mandate by a wide margin. 

1:55AM: My God, where the hell *was* this speech, four months ago? Three months ago? Two months ago? (Nice way of handling the Bin Laden reference, by the way.)

1:54AM: "The role of citizen in our country does not end with your vote. America is not a country about what is for us, but what is by us. This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich; this country has a more powerful military than any nation in history, but that's not what makes us strong."

1:52AM: "That common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. And whether I have earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. And I have learned from you."

1:50AM: Nice line about Mitt Romney, too: "We may have battled fiercely, but it's only because we both love this country deeply and we both care so strongly about its future."

1:48AM: A really nice speech so far. I'm inclined to wonder if he got bad advice when his handlers told him to ditch the soaring rhetoric because of the state of the economy.

1:45AM: Nice sentiments directed to his campaign volunteers, too: "Thank you for being with me through every valley and over every hill."

1:43AM: Wonderful moment in which he thanks Joe Biden and then Michelle and then his daughters. Touching, celebratory, genuine. 

1:41AM: "By the way, we have to fix that." -The President, referring to the intolerably long lines at polling places. The problem with this rhetoric is that the idea of fixing our elections takes center stage for one day every four years, and then disappears again until the next election. 

1:40AM: "The task of perfecting our union moves forward, and it moves forward because of *you*." So much for the end of soaring rhetoric from this President, eh?

1:37AM: At last, the President. Nice optics to start, with the President applauding his family as they left the stage.

1:35AM: Warning sign for 2016: Chuck Todd just reported that Mitt Romney will finish within about four percent of the President in Minnesota, which of course means a widening of the 2016 electoral map in the Republicans' favor. 

1:29AM: Brian Williams said two things that are more than a little bracing. First, he suggested -- or at least insinuated -- that the Secret Service has ramped up security for this particular President. ("We are *told* that it's merely a sign of the times...") Second, he read a tweet from Speaker Boehner that sounded a lot more conciliatory than one he'd sent earlier in the evening, not exactly a reversal, but a fairly sharp contrast at least in tone. I wonder what to make of that.

1:26AM: Will the President "go bold," given that the language Speaker Boehner has used this evening is so divisive? The answer is, probably not tonight -- but maybe over the next week or so, as the Lame Duck session of congress is convened to deal with the so-called "fiscal cliff."

And the award for the dumbest question of the evening goes to Brian Williams: "Congressman [John] Lewis, what is your advice for the Republican party?"

1:22AM: Here's something fun to think about while we wait for the President: Michelle Bachmann is in an *exceedingly* close race for reelection to Congress, at this hour.

1:20AM: Waiting on the President.

1:17AM: Brian Williams asks Andrea Mitchell what happens tomorrow morning in the Republican party, and Mitchell makes the observation that the makeup of the House of Representatives will make it very difficult for the GOP to tack to the center.

1:12AM: President expected at 1:15AM eastern time. With a little bit of luck he won't go on for very long, and we can all go to bed. 

1:11AM: "A remarkably short, businesslike, and incredibly sad speech." -Brian Wilson, describing Mitt Romney's concession. True, true, and true.

1:09AM: Amazing statistic that gets more amazing every four years: The last time the Republicans won the White House without someone named Bush or Nixon on the ticket? 1928.

1:06AM: Kind of an amazing statistic on MSNBC: In 2008 President Obama got 43% of the white vote and 80% of the non-white vote, whereas in 2012 those numbers were 40% and 80%, his non-white-vote remaining completely unchanged. No way was Mitt Romney going to win with those kinds of numbers.

1:03AM: Chuck Todd wondering if Rob Portman would've been the better VP pick, but the only VP pick that would've worked for Mitt Romney, in my view, is Mike Bloomberg. Or maybe Colin Powell, who would never have embraced the Romney style. He also thinks Jeb Bush is the front-runner for the 2016 nomination, which would make a lot of sense for them because he's very popular among Hispanics and has a strong (if undeserved) reputation as an across-the-aisle guy.

1:00AM: Another nice line: "Like all of you, Paul and I left it all on the field." All in all, a very nice speech with a heavy dose of, "now that the country has spoken let's support the President."

12:58AM: "At a time like this we can't risk partisan bickering." Wouldn't it be nice if more Republicans were saying this about themselves, and fewer of them were saying it about the President, this evening? Also nice of Romney to talk about fixing the economy (with an improbably strong note of pro-education sentiment, there).

12:55AM: Romney takes the podium. In his opening remarks it is apparent that he has been weeping, which is completely understandable if also more than a little discomforting. Nice line: "Besides my wife Ann, Paul is the best choice I've ever made."


12:52AM: The final electoral vote tally for the President appears to be on track for 331, with all three of Virginia, Florida and Nevada poised to go his way. This would mean that only two states changed from the 2008 election -- North Carolina and Indiana -- which has to be a bitter disappointment for a great many Republicans who thought this election would be theirs for the taking, after repeatedly obstructing the President's agenda.

12:50AM: It is confirmed that Governor Romney is en route to the hall to deliver a concession speech.

12:47AM: We are hearing that Governor Romney will address his supporters in Boston at 12:55AM EST, and that he will do so *alone*. Presumably this means that his concession call has already been placed to President Obama, and that the speech he will deliver is a concession.

12:40AM: Chuck Todd reporting that the election officials in Miami Dade County are not counting any more votes tonight, but Barack Obama already leads by about 50,000 votes in Florida. There seem to be about 100,000 votes outstanding in Fairfax County, Virginia, with the President leading there as well. Washoe County is outstanding in Nevada, but would require a pro-Romney margin of near mythic proportions to prevent the President from holding there.

12:35AM: Peter Alexander reporting from the Romney headquarters that "the hubbub has died down considerably" with the Colorado call, and that the Romney people are beginning to face the cold hard facts about this thing. Apparently there still hasn't been a concession call placed to President Obama, but the vibration in the hall is that it's more a question of what went wrong, than what will happen moving forward.

12:30AM: Chuck Todd just asked Mike Murphy who the leader of the Republican party would be tomorrow morning, and Mike Murphy said, "We won't know until tomorrow." (Though in fairness that conversation had to be shoe-horned into the building mantra that it's the President who will have to reach across the aisle -- despite the fact that he's been doing just that, over and over, for the past four years.)

12:25AM: Brian Wilson reporting on the severity of the winter storm that is expected in the NY/NJ area for tomorrow, and it certainly does sound frightening given how many people are still displaced from their homes and/or without power.

12:22AM: A call in Florida would put an end to all of this, of course. Wonder when it's going to happen.

12:19AM: Brian Wilson reports that Donald Trump is tweeting that a revolution might be a good idea, and calling our collective decision to reelect the President "disgusting" and "a travesty."

12:15AM: Vaunted Republican tactician Mike Murphy on MSNBC just described this election as a very painful object lesson for his own party. "We've tested out the model here tonight, and it ain't working," sayeth he. In a related and important note, he also said that he thinks President Obama will prevail in both Virginia and Florida, as well.

12:11AM: AP and Reuters CALL COLORADO FOR BARACK OBAMA. This should be enough to get the Romney people off the button on the issue of concession.

12:10AM: A little housekeeping: So many states fell so quickly that my map eventually diverged quite a bit from the "real" one, with Missouri having gone for Mitt Romney and the west coast state that was called for Obama being Oregon and not Nevada. (MSNBC has the President on 274, instead of 275, which would suggest that they are withholding a congressional district from Maine.)

12:05AM: Brian Wilson speaking to the in-house pollsters about Ohio in particular, and in the general performance of the polls vs. gut instincts in general. Also a lot of talk about some pretty shady practices that took place in New York and New Jersey of necessity, but I'm not sure I agree that letting people vote by fax is a good solution to the voter intimidation problems we've been seeing more and more of in recent elections.

12:02AM: Chuck Todd also projecting a popular vote victory for President Obama, since the present lead for Mitt Romney is expected to be more than offset by the remaining unreported precincts in California.

11:59PM: Chuck Todd reporting that 150,000 votes remain to be counted in Miami Dade County, and that is the only county with outstanding votes. With Barack Obama still leading, it appears as though the President will prevail there. Virginia is, in Chuck Todd's language, "all over the place." Nevada and Colorado are both showing strong leads for the President.

11:57PM: Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted: "We are unable to officially concur with the networks' calls of the state, but we acknowledge that trends can be interpreted, as well." That sounds to me like a surrogate concession, especially considering the source. Meanwhile Chuck Todd is reporting that 750,000 votes are still out in the blue counties of Ohio and only 140,000 votes still out in pro-Romney parts of the state.

11:55PM: The Romney insiders are talking about there being a 25% chance that they still win in Ohio, which is madness given the precincts left to report, but even if it's an honest assessment, he'd still need to come back in Florida and Virginia and Colorado, and the un-reported precincts there are all pro-Obama as well.

11:50PM: Pardon me, do, but all this media narrative about how the President is going to have to work with Republicans in his second term is really quite exasperating, given the extent to which the White House attempted to do just that on issues ranging from health insurance reform to the stimulus to the debt ceiling deal.

11:46PM: MSNBC reporting that Republican Jeff Flake has defeated Democrat Richard Carmona for the US Senate seat in Arizona, which is a major disappointment given Mr. Flake's conduct -- which apparently included robocalling Democratic voters this morning to tell them to go to the wrong precinct.

11:45PM: Chuck Todd reports that the third party candidacies of Gary Johnson (in Colorado) and Virgil Goode (in Virginia) seem not to have gained sufficient traction to influence the outcome in those states, which is a mild upset -- particularly in Colorado, where the marijuana initiative was expected to attract some votes for Johnson and complicate the race there.

11:41PM: It's official: The Romney campaign is refusing to concede in Ohio -- which, for the moment at least, means they are refusing to concede. The President is also leading the partial precincts in Virginia and Florida, with blue-leaning precincts left to report.

11:40PM: If the Romney people decline to concede this evening, there's a certain sense to that. They really expected to win this race (wrongly, as the poll analysts knew all along) but the bitterness of this pill must be unusually hard to swallow, even by the standards of losing Presidential candidacies. From any number of Republican quarters we've been hearing sentiments of the, "If we can't win this election, we may as well pack it in" sort, and when you're the nominee taking the poll position on that effort, it's only natural to expect to win even if some of the hard numbers don't look so encouraging. What would help matters immeasurably at this point is if Florida or Virginia went for the President in the meantime.  

11:35PM: MSNBC is reporting that the Romney people are refusing to concede Ohio, though the President has several other paths to 270 electoral votes -- so any refusal to acknowledge Ohio seems like a bad case of denial, at least to me. Meanwhile it appears at this hour that Mr. Romney may win the popular vote -- which would of course add a lot of impetus to the de-legitimacy crowd.

11:30PM: Boy did the dynamics of this evening really turn quickly. If one scans the entire evening's posts, there's a clear trend of increased confidence and good feeling, but holy cow did those last few dominoes fall in a big rush. Perhaps it only feels that way since there was such an unusually long lull between about nine and eleven o'clock, but the combination of the west coast and Ohio being called more or less all at once leaves me feeling a little stunned. Instead of a stately march to California, with important swing states already in the bag, the California call formed the start of a second wave that broke almost as quickly as it began. Not nearly as celebratory a feeling, to be sure, but part of that emotional difference was because of the pace of the in-falling new information. 

11:25PM: There will be some tough work for the President moving forward, to be sure, but I think the coverage right now is a little bit sneering, frankly: The blood-letting on the other side will make a lot better must-see TV, and the President will have the advantage of a clean, un-asterisked reelection.

11:19PM: An improbable coalition, to say the least: The President won reelection by assembling the white, working-class manufacturing workers of Northeast Ohio, together with the Big Ten voters in Wisconsin and Iowa and the Hispanic service employees in Nevada. Not very many people could have done that. HEY, YOU KNOW WHAT I JUST REALIZED? BARACK OBAMA JUST GOT REELECTED THE PRESIDENT OF THE FREAKING UNITED STATES!!!!!!  

11:17PM: I had missed the Nevada call, apparently, since my 11:15PM map shows Obama on 268, whereas the Ohio call actually put him over the top at 274.


11:12PM: MSNBC CALLS IOWA FOR BARACK OBAMA!!! At this point the President can win reelection with Colorado alone, and NONE of Ohio, Virginia, or Florida. Mitt Romney must win all the remaining states, or Barack Obama will be reelected to a second term.

11:10PM: By "swing county," Chuck Todd means this very interesting thing that doesn't get a lot of play in the mainstream press, but serves as a further validation of just how awesomely powerful statistical sampling can be: If I know, for example, that Hamilton County, Ohio, has gone the same way as the larger state in a long series of elections, then all I have to do is watch Hamilton County to get a projection for the state. 

11:05PM: Chuck Todd says that the President is winning "every swing county" left on the map. Meanwhile, MSNBC is calling Mitt Romney the "apparent winner" of North Carolina.

11:00PM: AP, MSNBC and Reuters are calling Idaho for Romney with California, Hawaii and Washington for President Obama, while ABC and MSNBC are both considering Oregon too early to call.

10:57PM: MSNBC calling the Virginia Senate race for Tim Kaine. 

10:55PM: Another terrific observation by Chuck Todd: The support for the President is supposed to be down across the board as compared with 2008, but in the battleground states this is being more than offset by the demographics of voters registering for the first time. The Romney people seem not to have factored this into their numbers whatsoever.

10:52PM: The big west coast poll closings at the top of the hour, of course: California and the Pacific Northwest. The President is leading in the partial precincts in Florida, Ohio, *and* Virginia, with blue-leaning precincts left to count in those three, and building leads in Nevada and Iowa among the partial precincts there. Meanwhile North Carolina and Missouri *remain* uncalled.

10:50PM: That last call is perhaps not obviously a boldfaced, all-caps-worthy event, at least in a more typical election. The thing is, the Romney team repeatedly mentioned Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota as possible pickups to widen their range of paths to 270. With all three states solidly in the President's camp, Romney's plan-A is all he has left. And the thing about Romney's plan-A is, he needs to run the table. Barack Obama at this point could lose all three of Virginia, Ohio, and Florida and still win the election.


10:44PM: Brian Williams reporting that John Boehner has already said, "If the President is reelected, this will not signal a mandate for any new taxes." Nice of BronzeBoy to set that marker out on the felt before his own candidate has even lost Ohio, n'est-ce pas?

10:40PM: Another anonymous reader asks, "When the hell are people going to start screaming about this voter suppression by the [Republicans]?" The answer, I think, comes down to technology. We've already seen an instant-viral YouTube video this morning of a voting machine in Pennsylvania that was changing Obama votes to Romney. In much the same way as has happened in other parts of the world, I think the enhanced ability of rank-and-file individuals to break stories like this will make it much harder for bullies to operate with impunity. The irony is that the most technologically savvy country in the world seems to be a lagging indicator of this trend, compared with (e.g.) the Arab Spring. There has *clearly* been some voter intimidation in this country, this election, and it has clearly been on behalf of one party and at the expense of the other, exclusively.

10:37PM: Chuck Todd also reaffirms that the blue parts of Florida haven't yet finished voting, and that in Virginia there may be half a million votes to be counted in the pro-blue DC suburbs. If either of those states go for President Obama, you can stick a fork in this whole thing. Here's the updated map with Arizona for the Romney team:

10:35PM: Chuck Todd makes the very good point that an over-performance against expectations by the President doesn't assure an earlier call, since that over-performance could only leave that particular race in a virtual tie. He also mentioned that Romney isn't running up the score in the rural parts of Ohio the way he'd expected. (AP and Reuters both call Arizona -- finally -- for Governor Romney.)

10:30PM: No poll closings at the bottom of the ten o'clock hour, so let's see what Brian Williams decides to do with the time, instead. My guess is that the Romney-on-the-ropes narrative will be afforded another installment. Mr Obama's deficit in North Carolina is only about 60,000 votes, which is smaller than the same race was at the same time in 2008. Meanwhile the President has a 45,000 vote lead in the partial precincts in Virginia.

10:25PM: Time to open it up for comments up again for comments. Anything anybody would like to weigh in with? Any surprises? Any specific dynamics that merit an observation?

10:20PM:  John Yang says that President Obama is *over-performing* in some key areas of the Ohio vote, as compared with his performance four years ago. In some ways this isn't surprising -- the President wasn't all that secure in his chances of winning Ohio four years ago, and didn't expect to need it, whereas this time around Team Blue has been quietly banking on the state, mostly due to the auto bailout. But on another level it's kind of a small shock, given how much of the President's 2008-support was supposed to have eroded in the face of the soft economy and the pummeling he's been taking from the right-wing media for the past four years.

10:15PM: Is it as fascinating as I seem to think it is, that Romney hasn't sown-up Missouri yet? If Romney loses a state that McCain won four years ago -- even one such state -- it will send a heck of a statement about whether the science of blood-and-guts statistics of the national horse race, or the gut-punditry, was correct. We heard an awful lot, mostly from Republicans, about how the qualitative factors all favored Governor Romney, and here he is unable to put away *Missouri*.  

10:14PM: Reuters is calling the OH-08 congressional race for Tammy Duckworth, and the Ohio Senate seat for Sherrod Brown. There have been *zero* Republican pickups in the Senate so far, and two for the Democrats.

10:10PM: Three days ago I predicted that, with the 11:00PM poll closings in California, we would know that Barack Obama had been reelected. What this would require is for Virginia, Ohio, or Florida to be called for the President in the next fifty minutes. And you know something, I don't want to get too far in front of this, but I think it's going to be -- of all places -- Florida. Barack Obama is 150,000 votes up in Florida and the precincts left to report are all in pro-Obama counties.


10:05PM: In an interview on MSNBC, David Axlerod confirms that the partial precincts in Florida that have not yet reported are mostly favorable to the President, who is already leading. Ohio is sounding more complex, but Axlerod seems to think that the rural turnout in Ohio is high enough to offset Obama's structural advantages there. He's being circumspect but (echoing a sentiment featured in my final predictions) the base note of his interview is how few surprises we've seen.

10:00PM: Utah and Montana pop immediately for Governor Romney, but the news of the hour is that Iowa and Nevada are too early to call but both "with the President in the lead." I could end up being wrong, but honestly (and I've said this before, this evening) I can't imagine a network saying that a candidate was leading in a state if they foresaw any real possibility of having to call it the other way. President Obama leads by about 40,000 votes in the partial precincts in Florida, with 85% of the precincts reporting. 

9:55PM: MSNBC speaking with John Yang in Hamilton County, Ohio, who is predicting a long interval of provisional ballot counting in that part of the state. Wouldn't it be ironic if Virginia or Florida or North Carolina went for Barack Obama and rendered the whole issue of electoral funnybusiness in Ohio, moot?


9:50PM: Poll closings at the top of the hour include a lot of un-dramatic states (e.g. Montana) but the two to watch are Iowa and Nevada. If either one or both of them are called quickly, it's another nail in the coffin of Governor Romney. Based on the early voting numbers in Nevada, which are if anything even more impressive for Mr. Obama than they were in 2008, I think Nevada will be called very quickly -- or at least very quickly after the state moves out of "too early to call" status. This will further harm Mr. Romney's map, but (as you've heard me say several times before this evening) it will far more seriously affect his coverage. And the worse his coverage gets, the more likely Romney voters are to get out of line and go home.
9:45PM: Loyal follower Holly asks, "If Obama wins Ohio, is this thing over?" The answer is an unambiguous yes. It's also effectively over if Obama wins any *one* of Virginia, North Carolina, or Colorado, and *completely* over if he wins Florida.


9:35PM: Ohio looking harder and harder for Mitt Romney as the partial precincts continue to roll in. Barack Obama has once again regained a small lead in the partial precincts in Florida.

9:33PM: According to Mark Potter, the Florida Secretary of State is reporting that four counties in Florida still have people standing in line to vote, and three of these four counties are Democratic-leaning: Orange (discussed earlier), Broward, and Dade. Only Leon County (where Fort Myers is) may be considered a pro-Romney county in which people are still standing in line to vote.

9:30PM: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CALLS WISCONSIN FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA. Meanwhile the Florida partial precincts have swung back to a flat-footed tie, which indicates that the late precincts are breaking the President's way.

9:25PM: I hope I didn't give anyone a heart attack with that huge typo. Sorry, everybody. Meanwhile Chris Murphy has defeated Linda McMahon in the race for US Senate in Connecticut.

9:23PM: APOLOGIES! PENNSYLVANIA IS BEING CALLED FOR BARACK OBAMA!!! I have no idea why I said Pennsylvania was being called for Mitt Romney -- I guess it was just a pure brain fart in which I was already anticipating what I'd write about the call in the next paragraph. 

9:22PM: Adjunct to my earlier thought about the disappearance of Obama's early-vote lead in Florida is the opposite factor, namely that the precincts in the Democratic strongholds of Florida (as in other states) tend to report last. At present Mr. Romney has come all the way back to a lead of about 15,000 in the partial precincts in the Sunshine State, but only 80% of the precincts have reported. If the remaining un-reported ones are in Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade Counties, the lead here could very easily swing back the other way. 

9:20PM: More than the call itself -- which is *H*U*G*E* -- is the effect that this call will have on the evening's coverage. The absence of Pennsylvania from Mr. Romney's paths to 270 electoral votes means he's back to plan-A, with Ohio being the centerpiece, and Mr. Obama's lead in Ohio continues to solidify.


9:14PM: Right now, according to MSNBC, the partial precincts in Florida show a separation of 193 votes out of well over six million cast. This is a fun result to ponder, if not a terribly encouraging one (since it means Mr. Romney is erasing -- or has erased -- Mr. Obama's early vote lead). Bear in mind, if Mr. Romney wins Florida, it doesn't effect Mr. Obama's strategy.

9:12PM: "Anonymous" weighs in with the comment, "My stomach is a bit queasy right now, but trying to keep positive." Ain't it the truth. Meanwhile the narrative on ABC is that the Republicans are getting *killed* among Hispanics, and the narrative that's shaping up over there is that demographics are more than offsetting the supposed enthusiasm gap in favor of the challenger. 

9:10PM: MSNBC is calling New Jersey for the President. Meanwhile, another huge moment for Team Blue in the deeper-level data has just come to light. It happens that John Yang of NBC has been in Hamilton County, Ohio (where Cincinnati is), and he has learned exclusively that the President won the early vote in the county by a 57-42 margin, which is if anything a little better than his early vote numbers in 2008. 

9:05PM: Your current map.

9:00PM: Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota and Wisconsin all too early to call, but MSNBC again goes out of its way to say that President Obama is "leading in Wisconsin." I'm intrigued by this have-their-cake-and-eat-it-too approach, here, since what they're really saying is that Barack Obama will eventually be called the winner. (They wouldn't say someone was leading if they didn't feel pretty secure.) The news, such as there is any, is that Michigan popped immediately for the President. The media narrative is shaping up as a long night for Romney. Both ABC and MSNBC are noting Romney's improved performance over McCain in some swing counties in North Carolina, but Mr. Obama didn't expect to win North Carolina, and the coverage of Florida and Virginia is just *killing* Mitt Romney right now.

8:59PM: We just got a really nice, succinct explanation for the difference between "too close to call," and "too early to call," of which I spoke earlier. It's a sensible explanation and I should have thought of it myself. "Too early to call" means that there are still long lines of people waiting to cast their ballots, since those people (thanks to the HAVA) are allowed to vote as long as they were in line at the time of the poll closing. So the reason Pennsylvania is stubbornly not giving us any hard data to work with is because people are still voting there. (Thank you CBS.)

8:57PM: Watch Wisconsin. If it goes quickly it's curtains for Mr. Romney in my view. Governor Walker said that Romney was over-performing in some sparsely populated areas, but he'd have to do quite a bit of that to close Mr. Obama's polling margin in the last batch of polls we saw. 

8:55PM: Another hugely encouraging sign for the President is that he is dramatically over-performing in some crucial swing counties, notably Orange County Florida, which Al Gore carried by fewer than 6,000 votes in 2000, and which President Obama currently leads by over 60,000 with only about two thirds of the precincts reported. The big reason? A huge increase in the Hispanic population there, which is breaking overwhelmingly for the President.

8:50PM: The polls to close at the top of the hour are, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. MSNBC is reporting that 70% of the vote in Colorado has already been cast, which could go some way to offsetting the razor-thin polling margins we've been seeing there.

8:46PM: MSNBC is reporting that 40% of the people they surveyed -- who voted today, nationwide, mind you -- said that the President's handling of Hurricane Sandy was a "very-" or "extremely important" factor in determining who to support for President. Over the whole nation over fifteen percent of those responding said that it was the *most* important factor in their vote. This is *ENORMOUS* news, precisely because none of those people were ideologues who'd already committed to a candidate. By definition such a voter has to be a late-breaking persuadable, and according to MSNBC the President won those people by well over 2-to-1.

8:45PM: I promise not to carp about this (especially if I turn out wrong), but we're coming up on my predicted time -- 8:49PM -- for Pennsylvania to be called for the President. It will be fun to see how close I got it, regardless of whether I did or didn't.

8:40PM: Long dialogue anchored by Brian Williams about how the Romney team must be sweating the fact that NC, VA, FL have not been called. This is important for all progressives (me, first and foremost) to keep in mind: Mr. Romney *needs* these states, and they are stubbornly refusing to go for him. Maybe I got spoiled by 2008 but it's undeniable that one would much rather be an Obama supporter right now than a Romney supporter. The night has already been long and bumpy, but none of our must-win states are hanging out there, twisting in the wind with partial-precinct deficits. That's the *other* guys, who are having that particular night.

8:37PM: Kelly Ayotte demurs on the question of how the national race is going (despite being one of the major Romney surrogates) and, instead of expressing encouragement that Romney will carry her home state of New Hampshire, she talks for ninety seconds about turnout being high. This is extremely encouraging, to say the least. Meanwhile the President's partial-precincts lead in Virginia is over 150,000 votes with none of the most Democratic-leaning precincts having not yet reported. 

8:36PM: Chuck Todd just said that none of the (pro-Obama) precincts in the DC suburbs have reported in yet, and Barack Obama presently has a lead in the partial precincts that *have* reported, which could mean -- dare I imagine it? -- that the President could actually over-perform in the state.

8:35PM: Some very encouraging in-falling data at this hour, with the President widening his "lead" in Florida, way ahead in Ohio, and extremely close in North Carolina. This is the first *huge* moment of big news of the evening, since North Carolina had been McCain territory for most of the evening four years ago. Partial precincts are always dangerous, but the patterns are looking a lot more encouraging than they did even half an hour ago.

8:30PM: Arkansas enjoys its quadrennial moment in the sun. Still no call in NC, VA, FL, OH.
8:25PM: The most encouraging piece of news out of the exit polls of the whole evening just ran while I was typing the last entry: People are saying that the sort of change they want is for the two parties to work closer together (never mind that they keep electing unhinged lunatics and sending them to Washington; that's a column for another time). But the thing is, if they think both sides need to work together, the optics of the Chris Christie / Barack Obama moment last week should make a big difference.
8:21PM: So what do you all think? I notice that my pageviews are (relatively speaking) through the roof this evening, so how about I take advantage of this little lull to see if anyone else would like to weigh in with an assessment of the early coverage? Big things that I'm missing by not being able to channel search on TV? Place a comment at the bottom of the thread and I'll reprint (some of) them here.

8:20PM: If you're reading these words, you've read the other ones that came before them, so I'm not telling you anything you don't already know -- but the sphincter-factor on tonight's election returns is far, *far* higher than I expected. There have been very few encouraging signs so far, a lot of inconclusive ones, and more than one or two discouraging ones. Another aspect of the behavior of the electorate that could be operative here is that the HAVA permits a person to vote if he was standing in line at the time the polls closed, regardless of how long that takes. Those people tend to be Democrats too, and that's a good thing because it means that exit polls won't have those peoples' opinions included in them. The bad news for Democrats is that those people also have to get up and go to work in the morning, and in 2004 they got out of line about midnight and went home, costing John Kerry the Presidency.

8:15PM: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is saying "it's going to be close" in Wisconsin, which (again) is not the same thing as saying that Mr. Romney is really going to pick the state up. This is another state in which the science of polling has been at odds with the "gut instincts" that (mostly conservative-leaning) pundits keep insisting on. I'm not quite prepared to bet my mustache, but I'd be very surprised if Wisconsin goes for Mr. Romney.

8:10PM: The raw totals from early voting in Florida are *shockingly* disappointing for the President. He's only got about a 50,000-vote lead in the early vote total, and that isn't going to be nearly enough. Looks like Rick Scott did the job I'd been predicting he'd do, in limiting early voting (and disenfranchising voters in other more interesting ways) to prevent a repeat of the Obama victory in 2008.

8:05PM: MSNBC talking about Pennsylvania like it's a "non-call call," in that they don't want to have to take it back out of the President's column later but they also don't want to be left behind, so they're splitting the difference and saying that Obama is over-performing his own campaign's expectations. Meanwhile, here is the map:

8:00PM: Brian Williams calls Pennsylvania "an Obama lead" in Pennsylvania, but not actually calling the state yet. (This is a brand-new media tactic, by the way.) Georgia has been called for Romney now. Florida and New Hampshire are considered too close to call yet. TN for Romney, together with MS and OK. Missouri is considered too close to call. The Northeast is holding to form except for New Jersey, which is taking a long time to compile a sense of in the wake of the storm, but which will definitely go for the President.

7:59PM: Look for one to two (mild) surprises in the pacing of calls -- to add to Georgia, which is now an hour old and still uncalled, encouragingly. 

7:55PM: Here's what you can expect in five minutes: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, The District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island (which used to close at nine, if I remember correctly), and Tennessee. Meanwhile, Joe Donnelly is still leading in the Indiana senate race.

7:51PM: If you haven't seen it yet, here is the video of that voting machine in Pennsylvania that changed an Obama vote to a Romney vote. If anyone wants to send me a video of a voting machine changing a Republican vote to a Democratic one, put the link in the comment field and I'll add it to the live blog. (Anyone placing any bets?) 

7:50PM: Brian Williams is already bracing the viewing public for the quadrennial ritual of the eight o'clock blizzard of poll closings. Many of these states will be called immediately, and others won't, but the one to watch is New Hampshire. If the networks call the Granite State for Obama in the opening minutes of the eight-o'clock coverage, I think we're going to be absolutely fine. 

7:45PM: Coverage of Virginia just took a sharp turn for the blue: Again on MSNBC, Governor Bob McDonnell just said, "Most of the exit polls I've seen of my state show it a tie." Folks, if Virginia was exit-polling anything like as pro-Romney as the CBS coverage made it sound a half an hour ago, a Republican governor would have said so gleefully. Mr. Romney is *trailing* in Virginia.

7:40PM: The state of the electoral map, with Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio remaining uncalled.
 7:38PM: If you are persuadable in your choice of TV coverage, check out NBC/MSNBC's interview of a future President of the United States, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, live right now.

7:37PM: South Carolina being called for Romney.

7:35PM: MSNBC saying that North Carolina and Virginia not falling immediately for Romney is a bad sign for their team. I'd be lying if I didn't say that a good chunk of my (over-)confidence about this race went straight out the window with those exit poll results from Virginia, but perhaps a few more minutes of forced perspective will re-float the situation a little. It is certainly true that Romney basically can't win without Virginia and Obama has many more paths -- but it will be a major setback for the science of polling if Virginia doesn't go for Obama, and with such a result would of course go the satisfaction that polls (and other scientific facts) always take precedence over gut feelings. If they don't in Virginia, they of course don't have to anywhere else.

7:31PM: North Carolina and Ohio also too close to call, also. 

7:30PM: The bottom of the hour coverage begins with a breathless announcement that Georgia and South Carolina both refuse to be called, at least at the exact moment of their poll closings. That's a nice balance-out for that early bad story from the Old Dominion. Also the Senate races in Indiana and Virginia are both hanging in the balance, with Joe Donnelly leading the early precincts in the Hoosier State, and Tim Kane over-performing in the early precincts in Virginia.

7:25PM: Let's see if the next story to come out of Virginia is as ominous as that one was. It could very easily be that exit polling (never an exact science) is producing some wacky results, not least of them that early voters tend to be more progressive, and election-day voters tend to be more conservative. If this ends up being the reason why the coverage was so scary just then, I'm going to bill CBS for a couple of nitroglycerin tablets, that's for sure.

7:20PM: First sign of potential trouble is the way the media is covering the exit polls in Virginia. Both CBS and NBC are reporting high rates of Romney support among the people they spoke to in Virginia, and (improbably) having apparently given Governor Romney high marks for his prospective handling of the economy. If these exit polls are an accurate depiction of the situation in Virginia, there could be some unanticipated rough sailing ahead of us this evening. An electorate giving high marks to Romney for his potential handling of the economy is a very troubling early sign, but it is indeed still early.

7:15PM: CBS (which is the only network I've so far had any luck streaming) is still flogging the dead-even narrative -- though I suppose the least-surprising time for media types to lie about the suspense-value of an election would be during their coverage of the results, n'est-ce pas? Turnout is high in Virginia and the race is (predictably) too close to call.
7:10PM: Not even your intrepid columnist is immune from technical glitches this evening, but I'm diligently working on it. If anyone in Gainesville would like to bring me a phone splitter, I'd be very grateful as the only one I own seems not to be working. Meanwhile, MSNBC projects Romney will win Indiana and Kentucky (both calls made immediately upon the last of the poll closings, alas), and Barack Obama will win Vermont.

7:05PM: Here's the most disturbing story I can find of Tea Party people intimidating voters. There are, unfortunately, others.

7:00PM EST: Well, here we go. Sporadic but disturbingly consistent stories all day long about voter intimidation, long lines, and even voting machines that turn people's votes for Obama/Biden into votes for Romney/Ryan, but through all of that funnybusiness the narrative seems to be coalescing around a narrow Obama/Biden victory. Click Here to Read More...

Ohio, Ohio, ...Virginia?

I tried to stay away from blogging about this election and for a long time -- up until the Republican National Convention in Tampa -- I succeeded. But as Sherman once said to Grant, "You could never stay home when armies are moving." And so there came a point in the cycle where I just couldn't help myself. I hope those of you who've subscribed and read these columns have found them interesting, if not always particularly connected with reality. (This is what I hope my friends think about me generally, if it comes to that.)

First, some housekeeping: I will once again be live-blogging the election returns as they come in this evening, though I don't think I'll be using the map gadget to do so since it stalls out my ability to update in anything like real-time. There will be many maps from which to choose, and all being orderly and well this evening, they will all look approximately the same from one moment to the next. That out of the way, let's consider together where things stand one last time, with our focus on a state that hasn't been getting a lot of street cred in the battle for tipping-point status, at least so far.

No matter how one feels about the competing narratives about the state of the race, it isn't being argued by any reasonably non-partisan pundit out there that the President doesn't at least have the polling momentum on his side in these last few days of the campaign. And that, it turns out, has presented a comparatively new and daunting obstacle to the prospects of Mr. Romney.
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Final Predictions, Part One

In my most recent post I observed that the state-level polling data seems to be lagging the actual condition of the race on the ground, and yesterday's and today's polling data has done nothing to disabuse me of that intuition. Survey USA has the President up in Colorado (without which Romney can't win), Marist has him up in Florida (without which Romney can't win), and PPP has him up in Ohio (without which Romney cannot win). With these new polls emphasizing the short shelf-life of any supposed insights, and allowing that the lid isn't exactly 'on' between now and Tuesday, it seems to me that the time is right to make a few predictions.
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Friday, November 2, 2012

Mitt Romney's Really, *Really* Bad Week

Seven days ago, the 2012 Presidential election was close -- to be sure closer than it should've been in the absence of the Denver debate -- with Barack Obama leading on the rail by a neck. He was up by about two points in Ohio and about three points in Nevada, with Iowa, Colorado and Virginia tied. Mr. Romney was narrowly ahead in Florida and North Carolina, but the dynamics of the race in these two places were suggesting to some pretty smart people (Nate Silver, among them) that things weren't really that close. Romney's path to electoral college victory was simple, if not enviable: Close the gap in Ohio, hold in North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, and Colorado.  Doing so would have been an upset, but a mild one, mostly involving a gotcha pickup in the Buckeye state.

Seven days later the map isn't really all that different, or at least doesn't immediately *sound* all that different in laundry-list form like this: Mr. Romney is narrowly ahead in North Carolina and Colorado, with Florida and Virginia more-or-less tied, and Mr. Obama leading in Iowa and Nevada and Ohio. Why is it, then, that the state-of-the-race feels so completely different?

The easy answer is that the week Mr. Romney just had is one of the worst of his entire campaign -- and after London and 47%-gate, that's definitely saying something -- and the polls really haven't caught up yet. State-level polling is notoriously slow to respond to the changing realities on the ground, since polls have to be in the field over multiple days, then regressed, then scrutinized for math errors, then written-up, then published by the polling firm, and then re-published by political news sites, all before any of us get a chance to begin factoring them into our sense of where things stand. The data is often over a week old, and even some of that data will itself display a conspicuous lag, as individual respondents in the process of changing their mind will often exhibit more stubbornness about it than they really feel, just to avoid having to re-reverse themselves a day or two latter.

The slightly less easy answer, though, is that while the two lists of swing-state standings I've digested in the opening two paragraphs sound cosmetically similar, the new list actually describes an electoral map in positive *shambles* for Mr. Romney -- even before the effects of this past week can fully manifest there. The only way, then, to accurately report in real time on the question of just how much things have  turned, is to begin with a recap of the seven days that Mr. Romney has just had. And oh my goodness, what a week it was.
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Sandy Surprise

In a country as big and messy as this one, nothing is to be as consistently expected in Presidential elections, as the unexpected. In 2008 it was the Lehmann meltdown which cost McCain any chance of winning. In 2004 it was the final Osama Bin Laden tape which, together with the Ohio Secretary of State's office, probably cost John Kerry the election. In 2000 it was... well, we all know what it was in 2000, now, don't we.

This year's "October Surprise" is of course a massive storm which has slammed into the northeastern United States just a week before election day -- with consequences ranging from major flooding in New York City, to power outages in eastern Ohio, to all but comically deep accumulations of snow in the middle- and lower Appalachian mountains. This is nothing to wax idle-pundit about, either: People have lost their lives in this storm and will continue to do so for several days -- though the impression that is slowly forming in this commentator's mind is that the chances for a Katrina-sized death toll (or corresponding embarrassment for the White House) are already effectively nil.

Allowing that the situation transcends our usual partisan gamesmanship, it is unavoidable human nature to wonder in print just exactly what effect the storm will have on the trajectory of the Presidential horse race -- with outlets ranging from the sublime to the sublimely ridiculous having already weighed in. The broad consensus seems to be that the storm cannot possibly help the President, given the suppressive effect it is sure to have on the turnout of poor and minority voters in such crucial states as Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. I hope you will therefore pardon me for taking a few paragraphs to weigh in with the contrary viewpoint that the storm can no longer harm the President's chances of reelection and will almost certainly help them instead, both directly and by hurting the candidacy of Mr. Romney.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Divergence, Explained

There's a story on Teagan Goddard's Political Wire today about the apparently bizarre disconnect between the current state of punditry on election 2012, and the current polling data.

As you know (you wouldn't be reading these words if you didn't), there is a droning mantra of paid political analysis out there right now, insisting in a way we haven't seen since 1980 that the challenger is closing hard and fast and has all the momentum on his side. The public has gotten to know him, gotten comfortable with him and, especially after the first debate, come to find him plausible as a potential President. Mitt Romney has passed the "living room test," and with the strong economic headwind facing the incumbent, all that is left for the challenger is to close the deal.

Meanwhile the state-level polling data has shown very little movement in Governor Romney's direction. Even the much-ballyhooed national tracking poll by Gallup (which shows Governor Romney with a substantial lead in the countrywide popular vote) suffers from the unfortunate credibility-inhibitor that it dramatically -- one might even say intentionally -- under-counts minorities. In other words, aside from a poll of angry southern white guys, none of the hard data about the race is consistent with the punditry. President Obama is up by small but structurally sound leads in Ohio, Nevada, Virginia, and Iowa; he is dead even in Colorado and Florida, and within the MOE or just outside of it in North Carolina and New Hampshire.

Even more perplexing is pundit-land's seeming lack of appreciation for just how daunting Mr. Romney's comeback would be from this starting point: Barack Obama, it happens, could lose *all* of Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado and Florida, and with just Ohio and Nevada, where his leads are outside of the MOE, he would win with 272 electoral votes. We keep hearing that it's all about Ohio -- and for *one* of the two candidates it surely is -- but Mr. Romney's urgency to win Ohio is completely one-sided: If he wins it he can still lose. Indeed if the election were held today, and Ohio went to him (somehow), he almost certainly *would* still lose, because he would fail to carry Nevada, Iowa, and Virginia, and the Ohio victory would be meaningless. If Romney loses Florida, it's over; if he loses Ohio, it's over; if he loses Virginia, it's pretty close to over. If he loses Colorado it's basically over and if he loses Iowa and New Hampshire put together it's more-or-less over, and at the moment he is trailing or at best tied in ALL of these places. And still the pundits clamor on about Romney's camp feeling good about where they stand and looking forward to culminating their late turnaround on election day.

So what gives? 

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Other Thing Late-Breaking Undecideds Do

I had an amazing encounter yesterday evening at my garbage can. And no, I'm not talking about an encounter with any of the half-dozen previously unknown life forms I might have found building complex civilizations on the inside lid, either. This was both an amazing encounter and, despite taking place at my garbage can, not totally disgusting.

It happens that my next-door neighbor on one side is a young graduate student in engineering, steadily working his way through the laborious process of completing his Ph.D. Let's call him Keith. He's a good kid insofar as he doesn't set couches on fire in his front yard, but his parents--a husband-and-wife team of contractor/landlord/developers in Melbourne--are two of the most unhinged Tea-Party-moron lunatics you are ever likely to encounter in your life. Keith's dad once told me that money is made from gold and that the shavings of gold are sometimes irradiated by the government to diminish our capacity to resist its efforts to control us*, while Keith's mom recently self-published a 360-page book in which she laid out a blueprint for fixing the public school system, of which the entire text seems to have consisted of the words "fire all the teachers and replace them with people I agree with" written over and over again**.

They are in other words the embodiment of precisely those attributes one imagines when one thinks of Tea Party / Constitution Party advocates who also happen to be wealthy enough to be landed contractor/developers: Loud, blinkered, counterfactual, selfish, scary, and, above all, wrong. I need not elaborate to the point of describing what they think of the current occupant of the White House. It isn't good. And no, the apple doesn't fall terribly far from the tree. But bear with me because there's more to this story than meets the eye.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

On the question of "building that"

Regular readers of Cinema Democratica will know that there hasn't been anything regular to read. I won't apologize here because, well, because that's been done. There is the matter of a new novel, which I began outlining on January 1st of this year and which--owing to a comedy of unforced errors--is scarcely any closer to completion than it was, then. Bringing the sort of attention to detail to that project that I very conspicuously failed to bring to any of its predecessors in my own bibliography, I've had little energy and even less enthusiasm to write anything else.

Quite aside from the issue of my time, though, there has also been the issue of my emotional investment. For any number of reasons, mostly to do with my disappointment with the President, I've felt almost none of the feverish daily investment in political affairs during this election cycle that I did four years ago. (When the guy to whom you gave three months of your persuasive-essaying life, four long weekends driving people to the polls, and a couple of thousand bucks, stands before a joint session of Congress for the last State of the Union Address of his first term and blames the high cost of college tuition on excessive faculty salaries, you may be forgiven for harboring a certain measure of ambivalence to the question of his continued incumbency. Especially if you teach college classes for a living.)

The thing is, there is only so much internet-free office space in the universe, and only so many ways to avoid viewing the aggregated political news of a person's daily facebook feed, before the whole thing becomes so unavoidable that fatalistic detachment starts competing inside one's head with fully-formed theses about what's going on. "You could never stay home when armies are moving," is how Sherman put it to Grant, after the latter had "retired" to Ohio in a snit in 1862. And if there are to be fully-formed ideas inside my head about what's going on, there seems little point in not inflicting them on the five of you, too.

The fully-formed idea inside my head this morning is that the Republicans have committed a grave and, as far as I can tell, un-commented miscalculation, with this whole business about "yes we did build that."
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