Republican strategy explained

Really nice summary by Marc Ambinder in his column about the president’s speech (as you may have guessed, I didn’t watch myself.  Dinner at Bojangles followed by more Mrs. Frisby):

“Voters do give the president credit for being reasonable,” says Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster. “They would just rather be giving him credit for making the economy better.”

That’s hard to do when the president and the speaker of the House do not like or trust each other. And it’s especially difficult when the opposition Republican Party has based its organizing philosophy around a determination to completely discredit government at every turn. Getting things done—anything—means that government is doing something. And that’s bad. So the worst thing that can happen is for anything associated with the president to pass cleanly, or even at all. If you’re a Republican member of Congress, there is no real incentive to compromise.

The GOP has created a political feedback loop that is calculated to destroy President Obama’s credibility as a change agent. They’ve figured out that when government is gridlocked and sclerotic, even silly and absurd, no one in Washington comes out smelling like a rose. No one seems reasonable, because nothing gets done. The reasonable man just looks weak.  [emphasis mine]

That pretty much hits all the key points.  And that last one sure strikes me as sadly true.   Now, if only Obama would realize that’s the case and stop trying so damn hard to just be the most reasonable man in the room.

Media vs. Republican base

As you’ve gathered, I had better things to do last night than watch the debate (I went with reading Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh to my oldest followed up by watching a PBS documentary on construction of the 9/11 Memorial).  I don’t have better things to do, though, than to read interesting post-debate commentary.  The insight I like best so far belongs to Chait:

Yet Perry, stylistically, ruled the roost. The media seems to consider Romney the winner. Pardon the condescension, but they’re not thinking like Republican base voters. Romney approaches every question as if he is in an actual debate, trying to provide the most intellectually compelling answer available, within the bounds of political expediency. Perry treats questions as interruptions. What scientists do you trust on climate change? I don’t want to risk the economy. Are you taking a radical position on social security?  We can have reasons or we can have results. His total liberation from the constraints of reason [emphasis mine] give Perry a chance to represent the Republican id in a way Romney simply cannot match.

That strikes me as about right. I think we can be quite confident that your average political journalist does not think at all like a GOP base voter. In fact, most sane people don’t.

Fact-checking the Republican debate

The Post has a piece up Fact-Checking last night’s Republican debate.  That’s just not fair to author, Glenn Kessler.  Seems like it would have been much more straightforward and less work to have an article saying where Republican candidates were not horribly distorting reality.  Might have been worthy a whole paragraph or so.

Media Fail

Kevin Drum highlights the latest results on a survey about global warming.  The key fact here is that the survey asks, “what proportion of climate scientists think that global warming is happening.”  It doesn’t even say man-made.  The answer to this is an empirical fact and it is easily north of 95% no matter how you look at it.  Yet, the results of the survey:

Yeah, Tea Partiers are complete idiots, as Drum highlights, but I find the Democrats and national average columns the most depressing.  Only 18% of Democrats get this right.  There truly is only one thing to blame when the public as a whole is this misinformed– the mainstream media’s obsession with presenting “both sides” of an issue even when there’s only one side.

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