At last, have you no decency John McCain?

I have seriously spent today somewhat anxious and depressed (a very unusual state for me) and it took me a little while to realize that these feelings were emanating from my utter disgust with the McCain campaign.  This lipstick on a pig fiasco is just about the lowest, basest, most cynical thing I have ever seen in presidential campaigning.  Here's nobody's media liberal Mark Halperin, (via Steve Benen):

…even Time's Mark Halperin, hardly a reflexive Democrat, has had it. From CNN last night:

“Stop the madness. I think, with all due respect to the
program's focus on, listen to David just said. I think this is the
press just absolutely playing into the McCain campaign's crocodile
tears. [...]

“They knew exactly what he was saying. It's an expression. And
this is a victory for the McCain campaign in the sense that every day
they can make this a pig fight in the mud. It's good for them because
it's reducing Barack Obama's message even more. But I think this is a
low point in the day and one of the low days of our collective coverage
of this campaign. To spend even a minute on this expression, I think,
is amazing and outrageous.”

To any half-awake political observer, it is and was 100% clear that Obama was using this expression, as he has all summer, to refer to McCain's policies, not Sarah Palin.  Heck, McCain himself used the expression about Hillary Clinton's health care plan.  To cynically turn this into an all-out attack on Obama as some kind of sexist, is the most base, cynical, and morally disgusting of politics.  John McCain may know how to survive 5 years as a POW, but he certainly does not seem to know much about honor.  Added to the fact that the McCain campaign has spent over a week now perpetuating the lie that Palin is truly Ms. “I stopped the Bridge to Nowhere” when it has been thoroughly debunked by many major news organizations is just too much. 

EJ Dionne nicely and succinctly takes on many of the major ongoing lies here. He conlcludes by stating: “And I wonder if the media will really take on this onslaught of half-truths and outright deception.”  Sorry, EJ, it is already clear that the answer is no. 

As I was pondering all this I was asking myself whether McCain had truly sunk to a new low and I really believe the answer is yes.  The 1988 campaign is noted for George H.W. Bush's absurdly trivial attacks on Dukakis (pledge of allegiance, anyone) and the race-baiting of Willie Horton, but as sleazy as this was, Bush's charges against Dukakis were not out-in-out falsehoods.  And if they had been, I suspect he would have been shamed into not continuing them.

Today, I feel radicalized.  I give lots of interviews, analysis, etc., as “Associate Professor of Political Science” and I try hard to play it down the line and be fair (as I think the Op-Ed shows).  But I've decided in upcoming appearances, I am not going to pretend that McCain's campaign is not the absolute affront to democracy that it is in the interest of some pretend objectivity.  Sometimes you've got to call a spade a spade (and I can imagine the McCain campaign claiming I'm racist for that little expression), and good people who believe in what democracy is about need to stand up to the lies.  I sure do wish some Republicans would, but I'm not exactly counting on it.   I truly believe this transcends partisan politics.  Today, I am utterly outraged as and American citizen, not as a Democrat.  

How much does racism hurt Obama?

A big question I'm not about to tackle in full at the moment, but a nice little bit of analysis from 538's Nate Silver based on analysis of the latest NC polling data:

So, among North Carolinian Democrats not supporting Barack Obama, more
than 60 percent of them were also not supporting Kay Hagan, the
Democratic candidate for governor the Senate. And
lest you say: “not only are they racist — they're sexist too!”, that
doesn't really work here, since Hagan's opponent is Elizabeth Dole.

There
isn't much doubt that Barack Obama is losing some votes because of his
race (although he may be gaining some as well). My guess is that a
great number of you have encountered friends or relatives, or friends
and relatives of friends and relatives, who won't vote for Obama
because he is black.

But there may not be very many of them –
and they may not have voted for Barack Obama even if he were white. If
you back out the math from PPP's poll, about 4-5 percent of the sample
are Democrats who don't support Barack Obama but do
support Kay Hagan. I would suggest that this is far closer to the cap
on the number of votes that Obama may be losing because of his race
than the 15 percent figure sometimes tossed around by other sources.



Third Time’s the Charm

After two unsuccessful attempts, I finally got an Op-Ed in the N&O today.  It is basically about what insights from Political Science can tell us about how Sarah Palin may affect voters.  The highlights:

First, it seems unlikely that the Alaska's Republican governor will
attract many Democratic and independent female voters based primarily
on her gender. For obvious reasons we lack sufficient data to
definitively assess how a female candidate affects a national ticket,
but studies of women candidates for Congress suggest that Palin will
not draw many Democratic voters who would not otherwise be inclined to
vote for McCain.

In analyzing over a decade of male vs. female
congressional races, Craig Brians found that candidate gender had a
very marginal effect on voting decisions. When it did have an effect,
it was Republican women crossing lines to vote for Democratic females,
not vice versa…

There is one area where Palin's gender should clearly prove an advantage– voters' perceptions of her ideology.

Research
by Jeff Koch shows that, all else being equal, voters assume that
female Democrats are more liberal than they actually are, and that
female Republicans are less conservative than they actually are. Thus,
voters may mentally place a conservative female Republican, such as
Palin, closer to the moderate mainstream than she actually is.

In
fact, given that Palin is appears to be on the right edge of the
Republican Party, this pervasive gender stereotype very much works in
her favor. It is a legitimate question as to whether a man with similar
positions on the issues could be nominated to the national Republican
ticket.

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