I'm serious that I don't want this to become a political blog.
I'm half serious that I thought it would be funny to review the campaign commercials as cinema.
I'm not serious that watching the ads made me throw up in my mouth. But they did annoy me.
I'm serious that I loved Mike Gravel's "Rock" ad, but I'm not serious that I supported him for President. Also, to my knowledge nobody else called his supporters "Gravel-heads", but that's probably because no one could find any. I think it would've been a good moniker (and I'm serious about that).
I'm serious in my generic support for negative campaigning, and I'm serious in my reason--that negative ads tend to be more informative than positive ads.
I'm very serious that McCain's first two ads completely broke this model and were utter, vapid crap. From what I can see he's gotten more substantive since then (if not more honest. Non-partisan factcheck.org has officially declared that the McCain campaign has engaged in a "pattern of deceit" regarding Obama's tax plan.)
I'm half-serious about not wanting to comment on the differences in tax policies (for the record, I'm in the range where the two plans have nearly the same effect on me, I prefer Obama's, but don't want to get into this debate).
I'm absolutely serious that people misunderstand the Laffer curve. Laffer said that the relationship between tax rates and revenue is non-linear, and it has a negative second derivative (i.e., it's non-linear in a way that a X% tax increase/decrease would lead to a
I'm mostly joking with just a hint of truth when I say issues don't matter. It's true that Congress writes the laws, but the veto is a powerful tool, and the President can exert a lot of control over Congressional priorities. The argument that stances on legislation doesn't matter is only important if the candidate's stances are close enough that you can assume they'd both get the same thing out of Congress. E.g., the policy differences between Obama and Clinton were essentially nil. Everyone has the right to vote however they like, but if you're a former Clintonite who now opposes Obama because of the issues, you are fucking retarded.
I'm half-joking when I say you should vote for whomever makes you feel better. However I'm completely serious when I say that's what people do automatically anyway.
More than anything else in that post, I'm serious that I'd want to know who would be in the President's cabinet.
I'm serious that Joe Biden seems like a good choice for VP, and I'd assume he'd play a close advisor role, even devil's advocate at times. If I could trust Obama to keep a pattern of choosing smart, honest, expert, people who aren't "yes men", that would go a long way to making me feel very confident in his administration (and to my thinking, obliterate the "experience" argument).
However, the VP's primary responsibility (possibly more important than inquiring daily if the President is still alive) is getting the President elected. And as such it's hard to read a lot into a candidate's VP choice. I grant them a lot more leeway to make a purely political pick, as opposed to their selections for key advisers and experts.
And that brings me to McCain's maverick-y move. He selected something we've never seen before in a VP. Not a woman--that's been done before--he selected a freakin' Alaskan! My friends, I used to live in the Alaska national crazy person refuge, and I'm absolutely giddy at the prospect of the particular mix of corrupt and bat-shit crazy that is Alaskan politics being paraded out for the nation. We will all soon learn that she's the most popular governor in the nation, but her state is also #1 in crazy!
First up, that crazy band of secessionist kooks that Palin allegedly belonged to at one time? (and now maybe not...but maybe her husband was...and at least she was friendly to them...but maybe that was just ordinary mayoral politeness....) I can't wait for the country to learn that the Alaskan Independence Party is the third party in Alaskan politics, with more registered members in the state than the Libertarian and Green parties combined. Hell, I was there when we elected an AIP governor (and then tried to recall him because he didn't call for a secession vote). The 'Alaskan first, American second (if at all)' attitude is pretty damn mainstream up there, because it's generally accepted (for good reason) that those idiots "outside" don't know what the fuck it's like to live up here, and they shouldn't be writing laws that apply to us. When I saw her at the "America First" night at the RNC, I couldn't help thinking that a real Alaskan would kick her ass for even considering putting the national interests above our own.
How about that whole "Bridge to Nowhere" (that Palin was for before she was against it)? Well, it's actually a proposed bridge from the 5th largest city in Alaska (Ketchikan) to its airport (conveniently located on an island, about a 5 minute ferry ride away). It had nothing to do with the 50 people living on Gravina island. And by the way, she didn't say "no thanks" to building the bridge until Congress said "You need more money to build the bridge? No, you can keep the money but you don't have to build the bridge" (and of course she kept the money--she'd be a traitor to Alaska if she gave it back).
Oh, and as for that amusing plan to sell the former governor's state-owned jet on eBay. Yeah, she tried--and failed. We still has the jet and the state pays for upkeep without using it.
Oooh, ooh! And when she gave birth to Trig she flew back home after her water broke instead of rushing to a local hospital. Real Alaskans don't question her judgement, they're in awe of her vaginal fortitude.
I'm not actually trying to attack Palin here. From what I know, she's been a good governor. Her social views are pretty close to the extreme opposite of mine, but I haven't heard about that affecting her ability to govern. I'm trying to point out how crazy Alaskan politics are. I've said before, I regard politics as the opposite of sausage--I usually hate the end product, but I love watching it get made. And Alaska is the perfect place for opposite-of-sausage politics.
People will try (and succeed, easily) to tie Palin to current corruption poster boy Sen. Ted Stevens. Full disclosure, I've met Ted Stevens twice, and he seemed like a nice enough guy. First was in junior high when I was on the team representing Alaska in a national mathematics competition. Second was the summer just after I graduated high school when I was an assistant scoutmaster for our troop attending the National Boy Scout Jamboree (full disclosure--I'm a hopeless, pathetic nerd).
But Ted Stevens is nothing. I'm offering a million Internet points (cash redemption value, diddly-squat) for the first person to link Sarah Palin to Theresa Obermeyer! Here's a little help--there's a one line mention here that Obermeyer was at Palin's inauguration ball (scroll down to 9:44). I'll let you figure out for yourself why Obermeyer would be such an entertaining albatross. Again, I think it might be pretty hard to link the two, and I don't think it would actually hurt her, I just think it would be really, really funny.
Okay, enough. I just wish the nation had more than 2 months to learn about crazy Alaska politics.
But I do want to make one final serious point. Palin has thrown the "experience" debate into a whole new light, and it seems conventional wisdom is that in terms of experience the Republican ticket is right side up and the Democratic ticket is upside-down. But fivethirtyeight.com offers a compelling case that the conventional wisdom might be wrong. So the question is which is worse:
- Electing an inexperienced President. Note that he will be given 2 months between the election and the inauguration. In that time he can choose his cabinet and set out the game plan for the beginning of his term. He will take office peacefully, in a general spirit of goodwill, and (something near) more than 50% of the electorate will be (at least somewhat) pleased that he's President.
- Having an inexperienced President take office immediately during a time of crisis. Due to a sudden death (a la Johnson after Kennedy) might be more shocking, but also elicit sympathy making the job easier. Taking over after a career-ending scandal (a la Ford after Nixon) could be a worse nightmare, depending on how closely the VP is linked to the scandal.
I think it's clear that scenario 1 is preferred to scenario 2. All things being equal, experience is preferred (of course, all things are never equal). And, of course, scenario 2 might not happen if McCain is elected (in fact, thinking about it is kind of ghoulish). So the question really is would you rather take the known scenario 1 or assume the risk of scenario 2, and at what probability would you prefer the risk of scenario 2? Is a 10% chance of scenario 2 is worse than scenario 1? What about a 20% chance? Or a 50% chance?
I'm not trying to make a case that should change anyone's votes. I think voting based on experience alone (without regard to judgement, temperament, stance on the issues, who has the nicest hair) is kind of stupid. And I think voting based more on the VP pick than the top of the ticket is equally stupid. I'm just suggesting that maybe everyone has this issue upside down, and an inexperienced President with an experienced VP is preferred.
I'm still saying nothing is likely to solidify or change my opinion more than a statement on who would at least on each candidate's short list for every cabinet office.