by Unknown | 10/15/2008 04:48:00 PM
I won't be within reach of a computer to live-blog the debate, but feel free to use this thread to talk about anything debate-related.

Barring that, here's a spate of recent political-historical blog posts that you may find interesting:

The End of the End of History, by devilstower at Daily Kos, is an innovative take on that most well-trashed of polemics, Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man.

Realigning Elections -- A Bit of Historical Perspective, by Paul Rosenberg at Open Left, discusses the consequences of a realigning election on the model of 1932 or 1860. This might be the place to mention that Brooks Adams pointed out in The Theory of Social Revolutions that political realignments in this country go in cycles of seventy-two years. If that's the case, we're only four years overdue for this one.

"I am all right, and you cannot escape listening to my speech either," by Eric Rauchway at The Edge of the American West, is an excellent breakdown of the greatest moment of political theater in American history: Theodore Roosevelt's delivery of a campaign speech in 1912 with a bullet lodged near his heart.

Talk amongst yourselves -- what's on your mind?

[Update] One more: Putting the "Oy" Back Into "Ahoy", by Steven Plaut at the Jewish Press, about -- you guessed it -- Jewish pirates. Biggest find? Apparently Jean Lafitte was Jewish. And wasn't Yul Brynner. (Hat tip strandsofpearl.)




Blogger Ahistoricality on 10/15/2008 9:41 PM:

Well, that was a little more fun than the last two. McCain did a fairly good job, but the vast majority of it was the same boilerplate. When he went off the boilerplate, he stumbled, again, and they danced around the Ayers question. McCain's characterization of Obama's advertising as more heavily negative of any campaign in history is a great line: McCain's advertising has been nearly 100% negative for a week or more; Obama's ads are mixed, but they are spending so much money overall that it turns out to be a lot of money on negative advertising.


Blogger Unknown on 10/15/2008 10:38 PM:

Wow, once again I'm totally off from both the national mood and your feelings (you, on the other hand, seem preternaturally good at prefiguring the snap polls). I thought this was Obama's biggest win of the debate season, a complete KO -- McCain seemed old, angry, and desperate, while Obama was cool, collected, and presidential.

But then again, I judge the debates on style, not substance. Maybe that's the difference.


Blogger Unknown on 10/15/2008 10:42 PM:

Actually, turns out the snap polls agree with me this time.

However, I disagree completely with Stoller, Bowers, and Gergen on that thread. I think Obama started well and McCain finished well.


Blogger Ahistoricality on 10/15/2008 11:13 PM:

Well, I should have clarified: I do think this was McCain's best performance of the three, but I still think he got his clock cleaned on substance. I was paying too much attention to reading the liveblogging to be as affected by the visuals as some, but the difference between McCain's awkwardness and Obama's "there you go again" smile was pretty damned stark.

Best liveblogging line of the night goes to Daniel Larison, again: "Obama repeats his claim that he supports net spending cut. Eliminate programs that don’t work–bold move! These programs are always nameless, which is probably one of the reasons they don’t work."


Blogger Unknown on 10/15/2008 11:54 PM:

On Larison's comment: I don't understand this fixation with specific plans and proposals for Presidential candidates. Everyone knows that you don't just get to propose whatever you want when you're elected President -- you have to negotiate whatever you propose with Congress, and the actual bills that emerge at the end are inevitably compromises, even if all the leaders are from the same party (as Bill Clinton found out during his first two years). Given that, what's the point of asking Presidential candidates to lay out specific plans that they'll never actually be able to propose? The most we need in that direction is general leanings -- whether a candidate wants to raise the minimum wage or leave it where it is, not by how much; whether a candidate wants to renegotiate NAFTA or leave it alone, not the specifics. Obama will propose specific cuts when the time comes, and he won't do it alone, but with consultation from both his advisors and the leaders of Congress. That's all I need to know from him.

In a debate, I'm much more interested in the leadership persona the candidates present, in their ability to react on the spot and communicate to the American people, and in their character as exemplified by their relationships with each other and with the truth. If I want to know their policy positions, I can always go to their websites, or to nonpartisan aggregators like Project Vote Smart.


Blogger Ahistoricality on 10/16/2008 8:50 AM:

Everyone knows that you don't just get to propose whatever you want when you're elected President

Yes and no: the role of the executive branch in budget proposals is considerably larger than it used to be. The House of Representatives is supposed to take the initiative on fiscal matters, but functionally the presidency is where the administrative resources lie.

I mostly agree, though: the debate between Clinton and Obama on health care struck me as being supremely pointless. That said, though, specifics tell you something: McCain's attacks on the planetarium projector, for example, offends me greatly as someone who grew up with and still adores a good planetarium show, who thinks that science education is sadly weak in this country, who thinks that public support of museums and educational institutions should be a source of pride. The lack of specifics tells you something as well, I'm afraid: Obama's vague responses on this -- "line by line" -- suggests that he hasn't actually picked out programs (god knows there's some pretty salty pork in there he could pick on!) or is afraid of offending constituencies.

I think the NAFTA thing was a missed opportunity for Obama: I think the emphasis on "unilateral" was a mistake, when he should have said something like "yes, I want to reopen negotiations because that's what people do when they need to solve a problem; they talk and negotiate a solution."

I think one of the best moments in the debate, really, was buried in Obama's response to the Ayers question:
"Let me tell you who I associate with. On economic policy, I associate with Warren Buffett and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. If I'm interested in figuring out my foreign policy, I associate myself with my running mate, Joe Biden or with Dick Lugar, the Republican ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, or General Jim Jones, the former supreme allied commander of NATO.

Those are the people, Democrats and Republicans, who have shaped my ideas and who will be surrounding me in the White House. And I think the fact that this has become such an important part of your campaign, Senator McCain, says more about your campaign than it says about me."

McCain never really got asked that question, so all we know about his likely circle of advisors is that he thinks Sarah Palin is the bee's knees. One of the random pundit suggestions that I thought had some merit was that McCain could make some real ground by naming names of people he'd appoint to Cabinet positions -- bipartisan, competent, interesting people. In fact, Obama's much more likely to do that....


Anonymous Anonymous on 10/16/2008 6:06 PM:

What struck me about all of the debates is how mediocre BOTH candidates are as communicators/salesmen.

John McCain's been a professional politician for more than 25 years and Obama is a Harvard law grad.

Obviously, success in politics (defined as successful in getting elected) is that money is far more important than things like ability to communicate clearly, forcefully,
and in a way that resonates with
a majority of voters.

Neither McCain nor Obama is very effective when it comes to personally selling their talking points...with or without a script.


Anonymous Anonymous on 10/16/2008 8:42 PM:

While I'm at it and since I forgot to mention it - in my opinion, Obama
needs some coaching on avoiding "scare" words and phrases.

Saying things like "spread the wealth around" is something that any smart politician should know just plays right into the hand of right-wingers.

He does that kind of thing way too often, however, I do give him credit for improving his delivery by not saying "and" whenever he's trying to recall what comes next in a particular talking point.

It's a bad habit, but based on last night's debate (sic), someone
apparently advised him not to do that so much.


Anonymous Anonymous on 10/16/2008 11:52 PM:

My Eulogy to the Republican Party:

In the end the ass kissing punk John Sydney Mc Cain will crash and burn the Republican Party for good. The James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Mark Larson, Sara Palin, and Ralph Reed reprobate; of the self righteous cult will urinate their territory in the sign of the cross. Then in a high mass ceremony this reprobate will lay claim to the decaying remains of the Republican Party as their sacred creation. The James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Mark Larson, Sara Palin, and Ralph Reed gang, the loyal disciples of their messiah George W. Bush will now become the soul proprietors of the Republican Party. These dedicated followers will shortly realize that they were no more then two bit crack whores in the misconceived OIL scheme. Even the daily talking points can only serve as senseless slop to the mentally atrophy swine. Like the crack whores; their self seeking desires to serve their dealer by compromising their integrity was only a hallucination caused by their internal beliefs. The last eight years of this criminally, insanity spectacle is coming to a flame out. Just like the beat down skid row addicts and their deplorable appearance and conditions they will always be the last to realize their squalor. My Friends!!!


Anonymous Anonymous on 10/17/2008 10:47 AM:

The reality is this, remember George W. Bush’s base the haves and have mores and the gift he gave them on the tax rate on dividends of 15%. Well, well as this economy flips out of control like a NASCAR flipping down the track at over 180 mph + disincarnating in front of the crowd; so are future dividends. 15% of nothing is still nothing and just like us mythical little people that have been raped over the last 8 years by unregulated corporate greed. It’s time for the haves and have mores to get up front and center and grab your ankles you’re next. Mismanagement, incompetence, and fraud are the descriptive words that define the last eight years of the Bush administration. It will be financially impossible for many corporations that have been paying dividends to continue paying them during this global economic calamity. So 15% x 0 = shit, not so funny now.

Did I mention this global economic calamity? Presently the DOW's bottom is around 7500 again that is the current reality if John Sydney Mc Cain were to get elected you could see a 3000- 4000 drop to the DOW on November 5th. Many may consider that a bold prophecy but did I mention this global economic calamity? Yes the world markets will bitch slap the United States for the stupidity of electing John Sydney Mc Cain.


Anonymous Anonymous on 10/18/2008 12:24 PM:

Great video to wrap your head around the economic situation we are currently immersed in. MUST SEE:


Anonymous Anonymous on 10/20/2008 10:51 PM:

Joe the plumber buys a lottery ticket and now he is really pissed!!!

For Joe to buy the plumbing business and become stuck paying the Obama proposed tax increase Joe will need somewhere; between $3-$5 million to purchase that plumbing business.

The dummying down of the United States of America pays big dividends to the mindless right. For a small business to get to $250,000.00 taxable amount threshold is a very large profit. Assume the business works at a 25% profit margin that business would have to provide $750,000.000 worth of services or product. Now factor in all the costs and expenses you are well below the $250,000.00 threshold.

It would have made more sense for John Mc Cain to say that he was at a liquor store and Joe Somebody was buying a lottery ticket. Joe then told John Mc Cain that Obama proposed tax increase will be hardship when he wins the lottery; then and only then would John Mc Cain’s argument make sense.