EJ on the Tea Party

Nice EJ Dionne column:

The right wing has lost the election of 2012.

The evidence for this is overwhelming, yet it is the year’s best-kept secret. Mitt Romney would not be throwing virtually all of his past positions overboard if he thought the nation were ready to endorse the full-throated conservatism he embraced to win the Republican nomination.

If conservatism were winning, does anyone doubt that Romney would be running as a conservative? Yet unlike Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, Romney is offering an echo, not a choice. His strategy at the end is to try to sneak into the White House on a chorus of me-too’s.

The right is going along because its partisans know Romney has no other option. This, too, is an acknowledgment of defeat, a recognition that the grand ideological experiment heralded by the rise of the tea party has gained no traction. It also means that conservatives don’t believe that Romney really believes the moderate mush he’s putting forward now. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if the conservatives are forgiving Romney because they think he is lying, what should the rest of us think?…

It turns out that there was no profound ideological conversion of the country two years ago. We remain the same moderate and practical country we have long been. In 2010, voters were upset about the economy, Democrats were demobilized, and President Obama wasn’t yet ready to fight. All the conservatives have left now is economic unease. So they don’t care what Romney says. They are happy to march under a false flag if that is the price of capturing power.

In the Navy

Via Drum:

So how are we doing? In 1916, America controlled about 11 percent of the world’s naval power. In 2010, we controlled about 50 percent. We may have fewer ships than we did during World War I, but we carry a way bigger stick than we did back then. Measured in the only way that makes sense, American naval strength today is greater than it’s ever been in history.

Mitt Romney’s not dumb.  Surely he knows the rough truth of this graph.  How utterly mendacious then that he would make his absurd argument about our number of ships.  Not quite sure what that says about him or what that says he thinks about the American people.  Really just insulting and pathetic anyway you look at it.

On polling addictions

Really enjoyed this post from Jon Bernstein about obsessing over the polls.  I honestly wish I was not checking in on the Nate’s (Silver and Cohn) multiple times per day– but I cannot help myself.  Also, my twitter usage has gone way up once I realized Silver was commenting a lot there as well as Mark Blumenthal of pollster.com.  Anyway, Bernstein:

The only really strong recommendation I’ll give you is the basic one: polling averages, not individual polls. The rest? Look, there’s no reason to do any of this; we’ll find out soon enough who wins the presidency. So this is strictly about what to do if you’re a semi-obsessive political junky…you really, really, really want more info, but you also want an honest evaluation of what’s going on.

Yep.  In general, I try not to focus too much on speculation on things over which I have no control.  It doesn’t get you anywhere and you’ll know soon enough.  When it comes to polls, though, I’m just powerless.

Photo of the day

From a Big Picture set of Wedding photos:

Caleb & Candra Pence pose for a wedding photo as a tornado swirls in the background on May 19 after they were married in Harper County, Kan. (Cate Eighmey via Associated Press)

The easy way to fix the wage gap

There’s not.  Tricked you.  A new study out yesterday finds more evidence for just how persistent in can be, even when controlling for lots of factors.  Now, it’s not $.77 on the dollar, but it certainly still is something that needs to be addressed (I’m all for addressing the issue, just not lying about it with statistics and treating it in a way overly simplistic manner).  Via NPR:

For example, many women choose lower paying industries, such as teaching or social sciences, while men select jobs in science and technical industries, which pay more.

So, as the Washington Post notes, the authors tried to make everything as similar as possible. They tracked graduates with identical collegiate experiences, limited familiarity with the work world, and those who didn’t have spouses or children.

But the wage gap persisted.

The study found that in teaching, female college graduates earned 89 percent of what men did. In business, women earned 86 percent compared to men. In sales occupations, women earned 77 percent of what men took home.

Still not sure that controls, everything, but there’s a really, really great commentary on this by Slate’s Amanda Hess.  If you care about the issue at all, read the whole thing.  But her conclusion really says it all:

Blau told the Atlantic that while enforcing anti-discrimination law is important, the pay gap will only disappear with “voluntary changes” from individuals across the economy. That means men mentoring women, fathers taking care of kids, employers setting flexible hours for everyone, young women learning to navigate the sexism of salary negotiation and promotion, teachers recruiting girls into math courses, men stepping into traditionally female fields, industry leaders reconfiguring business practices to accommodate all work styles, changing our perspective on productivity, everyone stopping being so unconsciously sexist all the time, and the government helping out where it can—by setting supportive policies on healthcare, childcare, and gender discrimination, and promoting female workers in government, too.

So, there you go, that’s all we need to do :-).  That’s a heck of a lot.  But it’s not like any of these things are impossible.  So let’s work towards these changes.  But let’s be honest about how complicated and difficult it will be to meaningfully address all these things.

A little more about that alternate reality

Now, there’s absolutely no excuse for journalists doing the work of Romney’s campaign on their behalf by simply unquestioningly reporting their falsifiable spin.  That said, I think Ezra Klein has a nice theory for what both campaigns are up to in terms of “base psychology.”

What you’re seeing here are two very different views of base psychology. The Romney campaign believes — and polling confirms — that Republicans are fired up to fire the president. They don’t need to worry about voter enthusiasm. But they do worry about voter confidence. If Republicans don’t believe they can win, they may not turn out to the polls. They don’t like the former Massachusetts governor enough to turn out on his behalf. So as they see it, confidence is their friend: Every Republicans wants to say they helped turn Obama out of office.

The Obama campaign believes — and polling confirms — that Democrats aren’t particularly fired up about the president. But they’re very fired up by the idea that Romney might become president. For the Obama campaign, then, voter enthusiasm can be squelched by voter confidence: If Democrats don’t think Romney can win, they may not be motivated to vote…

The bottom line is that Boston fears scared Republicans won’t vote and Chicago fears confident Democrats won’t vote. And so, in this final stretch, Boston wants Republicans confident and Chicago wants Democrats scared. Keep that in mind as you read the spin.

The alternate reality

Tomasky on the different responses to the debate and why its important:

Factually, this isn’t remotely justified. At worst from Obama’s perspective, the thing is tied. As far as we know, looking at all the averages, on a state-by-state basis he’s ahead. If you assume seven or eight states in play and go through all the permutations, Obama often wins by taking just two or three of them. Yes, a lot hinges on Ohio. But he can win even without it (he needs a strong inside straight, but it’s possible). Romney absolutely cannot.

Conservatives know all this. But they’re constructing an opposite reality. This is at the heart of everything going on right now, I think. It’s what they can do that liberals can’t really do. They’ve always done it.  “Romney is going to win” in 2012 isn’t so different from “We’ll be hailed as liberators” in 2003. They say something and try to make it so, and the media go for it time and time again.

This is what’s maddening to liberals about what Romney has done since the first debate. He’s constructed a new reality about himself and he’s gotten away with it, mostly. Specifically, it’s that he’s flip-flopped on all these things without the remotest hint of acknowledgement that the old positions even existed. Last night’s Afghanistan pirouette was stunning…

So today is the most crucial day of the campaign. Republicans are going to be filling journalists’ heads with the inevitability “reality”: a few poll results, a few morsels from the trail, and so on. A lot of the media will keep writing it that way, too.

And a really good piece from Alex McGillis about journalism’s ultimate bias– the desire for a good story:

We are the liberal media—hear us roar. We like Aaron Sorkin and gay marriage and invitations to the New Yorker’s bash on the roof of the W Hotel on the eve of the White House Correspondents Dinner. We have Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer’s cell phone on speed dial. If you water-boarded us, we’d admit to voting for pretty much every Democratic presidential candidate for the past two decades, with the possible exception of Al Gore in 2000 (he didn’t give us a clever nickname; the other guy did.)

But we are not driven by politics or ideology, really. Above all, we love a good story. Which, after all, is a very deeply ingrained yearning of the human race, isn’t it? …

We crave narrative. And let’s face it, the narrative of the 2012 campaign was a real dud. Incumbent president faces tough reelection environment but manages to hold onto slim, steady lead thanks to a just-enough recovery and a singularly uninspiring challenger…

But then: our mile-high salvation! Denver, O Denver. As the dynamic of the first debate began to register just a few minutes in—the crisp and hopped-up Romney against the wordy and listless president—we sang our relief across the Twitterverse. The true partisans among us, the Maddows and Sullivans, rent their garments, but most of us were barely able to suppress our glee: we had ourselves a story.

Meanwhile, Ed Kilgore is skeptical that this actually matters all that much:

All true, and yes, it is maddening. But does it actually matter right now?

As a deep skeptic about the importance of “momentum” in sports or in politics, I keep looking for evidence that the belief a candidate is ahead will add to his or her vote…

Maybe that’s so, but I wouldn’t be so sure about it. You can make the argument that an achingly close race in which Obama desperately needs a fantastic GOTV effort might be a “self-fulfillling prophecy” as well, which adds to the zeal and effectiveness of that effort. Yes, conservative “enthusiasm” has always depended on the perception that Mitt wasn’t a stone loser; one he crossed that threshold (one set by the polls rather than any perceived “moderation” or “Etch-a-Sketch Moment”), there was no doubt the GOP “base” would turn out impressively, given the hate frenzy they’ve been in towards Obama for four years now. Beyond that, though, it’s not clear all the spin matters—no matter how deeply annoying and dishonest it is for the MSM to buy it.

Personally, I’m torn.  Ultimately, I do think media narratives have an actual impact on voter beliefs and therefore voter behavior.  In fact, I would argue that the media narratives are the single most important feature on the campaigns– far more so than the events that actually underlie them.  That said, I do think Tomasky probably goes a bit far.  But I think Kilgore may be underselling it.

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