Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 10, 2008

Re: Lipstick on A Trainwreck

As evidence of Obama’s alleged sexism, the “lipstick on a pig” remark is a problematic issue for the McCain camp. It’s not much more than the old “making a purse from a sow’s ear” line. It’s not loaded and it’s not aimed with particular misogynist malice at Sarah Palin. As has already been discussed everywhere, McCain used the very same metaphor to trash Hillary Clinton’s health care plan in 2007. Moreover, pretending that this was some sort of gender-based attack on Sarah Palin opens the door to speculation about double standards and special consideration for a woman who herself clearly wants no part of PC gamesmanship.

But as evidence of Obama’s increasing tone-deafness, bad luck, and desperate hunger for valid anti-McCain talking points, Pig Gate is a turning point. One day after declaring his “Muslim faith,” Obama seems to compare the female GOP vice president nominee to a tarted-up pig. We all only have two feet to put in our mouths, and the Democratic nominee has swallowed up both of his in no time. He is obviously so rattled by the turnaround of McCain’s fortunes he can’t think straight. Speaking extemporaneously is suddenly a liability and in all likelihood, any concerted effort to speak carefully will suffer from the obvious effects of overcalculation.

In other words, Obama is turning into Hillary Clinton at her worst: a candidate with such a chronic inability to deliver a sincere message that radio-silence becomes the only option. The problem here is silence will will cost Obama too much. If he lays low while Palin soars, he’ll wake up every day between now and November reading about his own demise in real time. The Obama campaign was built for cruise control. As long as His hands were on the wheel, it was steady as she goes.

The thing is they’re still in cruise control, but coasting is now a luxury this lost candidate can’t afford.

As evidence of Obama’s alleged sexism, the “lipstick on a pig” remark is a problematic issue for the McCain camp. It’s not much more than the old “making a purse from a sow’s ear” line. It’s not loaded and it’s not aimed with particular misogynist malice at Sarah Palin. As has already been discussed everywhere, McCain used the very same metaphor to trash Hillary Clinton’s health care plan in 2007. Moreover, pretending that this was some sort of gender-based attack on Sarah Palin opens the door to speculation about double standards and special consideration for a woman who herself clearly wants no part of PC gamesmanship.

But as evidence of Obama’s increasing tone-deafness, bad luck, and desperate hunger for valid anti-McCain talking points, Pig Gate is a turning point. One day after declaring his “Muslim faith,” Obama seems to compare the female GOP vice president nominee to a tarted-up pig. We all only have two feet to put in our mouths, and the Democratic nominee has swallowed up both of his in no time. He is obviously so rattled by the turnaround of McCain’s fortunes he can’t think straight. Speaking extemporaneously is suddenly a liability and in all likelihood, any concerted effort to speak carefully will suffer from the obvious effects of overcalculation.

In other words, Obama is turning into Hillary Clinton at her worst: a candidate with such a chronic inability to deliver a sincere message that radio-silence becomes the only option. The problem here is silence will will cost Obama too much. If he lays low while Palin soars, he’ll wake up every day between now and November reading about his own demise in real time. The Obama campaign was built for cruise control. As long as His hands were on the wheel, it was steady as she goes.

The thing is they’re still in cruise control, but coasting is now a luxury this lost candidate can’t afford.

Read Less

Get Them A Mirror

If you watched Anderson Cooper’s 360 on CNN Tuesday night, you would have gotten some laughs — if you suffered through a side-splitting display of self-righteous indignation from David Gergen and Mark Halperin. They were obsessed with the latest Palin storyline: Why isn’t Sarah Palin doing interviews? “Outrageous, outrageous,” they tut-tutted. And they seemed confused as to why. Honestly.

Hmm. Could it be that their network and every other MSM outlet ripped her to shreds, turned her into a caricature and spread vile gossip about her for days? It didn’t seem to dawn on Gergen or Halperin. And in all the discussion of her popularity they never managed to explain the media’s role in building her audience, fueling conservative solidarity and engendering sympathy for the new political star.

And they bemoaned — “A new low!” — the reaction to Obama’s “lipsitck on a pig” comment. Not Obama’s comment mind you. The reaction. And they complained their own program was covering it. All a distraction, all nonsense. Former Virginia Senator George Allen, who lost a 2006 Senate race over something far more trivial (“macaca”), no doubt wishes that sentiment prevailed during his race.

It is shocking how lacking in self-awareness these pundits and many of their colleagues are. They constantly misread the electorate because they have a skewed view of reality in which they stand at the center of events. No wonder they invariably get things wrong, especially with regard to conservative opinion and reaction ).

One note: CNN did do a credible job of debunking the Palin myths (e.g. creationism, Pat Buchanan). I give the network credit for that. The commentary is an embarrassment.

If you watched Anderson Cooper’s 360 on CNN Tuesday night, you would have gotten some laughs — if you suffered through a side-splitting display of self-righteous indignation from David Gergen and Mark Halperin. They were obsessed with the latest Palin storyline: Why isn’t Sarah Palin doing interviews? “Outrageous, outrageous,” they tut-tutted. And they seemed confused as to why. Honestly.

Hmm. Could it be that their network and every other MSM outlet ripped her to shreds, turned her into a caricature and spread vile gossip about her for days? It didn’t seem to dawn on Gergen or Halperin. And in all the discussion of her popularity they never managed to explain the media’s role in building her audience, fueling conservative solidarity and engendering sympathy for the new political star.

And they bemoaned — “A new low!” — the reaction to Obama’s “lipsitck on a pig” comment. Not Obama’s comment mind you. The reaction. And they complained their own program was covering it. All a distraction, all nonsense. Former Virginia Senator George Allen, who lost a 2006 Senate race over something far more trivial (“macaca”), no doubt wishes that sentiment prevailed during his race.

It is shocking how lacking in self-awareness these pundits and many of their colleagues are. They constantly misread the electorate because they have a skewed view of reality in which they stand at the center of events. No wonder they invariably get things wrong, especially with regard to conservative opinion and reaction ).

One note: CNN did do a credible job of debunking the Palin myths (e.g. creationism, Pat Buchanan). I give the network credit for that. The commentary is an embarrassment.

Read Less

No Effect on Women Voters?

It seems that all the pundits who predicted that Sarah Palin would have a negligible impact on female voters, including disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters, had it wrong. John McCain’s poll numbers are soaring, in large part because women are making a lunge for the McCain-Palin ticket. The MSM has perked up to this state of affairs. This report notes:

The McCain and Obama campaigns are rushing to assess what the Palin force will represent. If it is a small but energized group of Republican women, it could have only marginal impact; if it is more, it could tip the balance of the campaign. On the other hand, anecdotal evidence suggests that Palin has also mobilized liberal women.

.   .   .

Several senior officials in both parties said they think Palin’s attraction is the result, in part, of a generally negative mood among some female voters this year, first, as Clinton faced a “boys’ club” mentality in the Democratic primaries and then as Palin faced intense questioning, much of it highly personal, after McCain named her as his running mate. To Republicans, Palin’s burst onto the national scene could be a chance to redefine the nature of feminism in politics, recasting it beyond traditionally liberal issues such as abortion rights. “I hope so, because I think it’s been unfortunate that it’s been so closely pegged, so closely defined, to just a few issues,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).Murkowski, whose father lost to Palin in a 2006 gubernatorial primary, said Palin represented a “generational shift” for voters in her state, something that will bode well for her ability to appeal to younger female voters.

Now, it would be a mistake to view this shift as permanent. A flubbed debate or some  event could well arrest the McCain-Palin movement in the polls. But one thing is for certain: the assumption that Palin wouldn’t help move women, including plenty of independents, into the GOP’s column turned out to be as faulty as the notion that merely screaming “Bush clone!” would be enough to beat McCain.

It seems that all the pundits who predicted that Sarah Palin would have a negligible impact on female voters, including disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters, had it wrong. John McCain’s poll numbers are soaring, in large part because women are making a lunge for the McCain-Palin ticket. The MSM has perked up to this state of affairs. This report notes:

The McCain and Obama campaigns are rushing to assess what the Palin force will represent. If it is a small but energized group of Republican women, it could have only marginal impact; if it is more, it could tip the balance of the campaign. On the other hand, anecdotal evidence suggests that Palin has also mobilized liberal women.

.   .   .

Several senior officials in both parties said they think Palin’s attraction is the result, in part, of a generally negative mood among some female voters this year, first, as Clinton faced a “boys’ club” mentality in the Democratic primaries and then as Palin faced intense questioning, much of it highly personal, after McCain named her as his running mate. To Republicans, Palin’s burst onto the national scene could be a chance to redefine the nature of feminism in politics, recasting it beyond traditionally liberal issues such as abortion rights. “I hope so, because I think it’s been unfortunate that it’s been so closely pegged, so closely defined, to just a few issues,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).Murkowski, whose father lost to Palin in a 2006 gubernatorial primary, said Palin represented a “generational shift” for voters in her state, something that will bode well for her ability to appeal to younger female voters.

Now, it would be a mistake to view this shift as permanent. A flubbed debate or some  event could well arrest the McCain-Palin movement in the polls. But one thing is for certain: the assumption that Palin wouldn’t help move women, including plenty of independents, into the GOP’s column turned out to be as faulty as the notion that merely screaming “Bush clone!” would be enough to beat McCain.

Read Less

The McCain Factor

It is not just conservatives who are coming to the realization that John McCain’s Convention speech was largely successful. Walter Shapiro notes:

But what does seem clear — and, believe it or not, we are not talking about Sarah Palin here — is that McCain’s acceptance speech, widely derided as flat and forgettable, seems to have connected with persuadable voters. As pollster Andrew Smith, who directs the Survey Center at the University of New Hampshire, put it, “What McCain did best was to connect with the blue-collar vote and portray Barack Obama as the second coming of John Kerry.”

And so, while everyone is fascinated by the Sarah Palin phenomenon, we shouldn’t lose track of John McCain’s expert move to scoop up independents. In his speech, he offered patriotism, nonpartisanship, reform and outsider-ness. It isn’t hard to see that this would be more attractive to swing voters than Obama’s angry rhetoric about America’s decline, McCain’s purported lack of determination to track down Osama bin Laden, and his vision of government as the solution to our woes.

It is not just conservatives who are coming to the realization that John McCain’s Convention speech was largely successful. Walter Shapiro notes:

But what does seem clear — and, believe it or not, we are not talking about Sarah Palin here — is that McCain’s acceptance speech, widely derided as flat and forgettable, seems to have connected with persuadable voters. As pollster Andrew Smith, who directs the Survey Center at the University of New Hampshire, put it, “What McCain did best was to connect with the blue-collar vote and portray Barack Obama as the second coming of John Kerry.”

And so, while everyone is fascinated by the Sarah Palin phenomenon, we shouldn’t lose track of John McCain’s expert move to scoop up independents. In his speech, he offered patriotism, nonpartisanship, reform and outsider-ness. It isn’t hard to see that this would be more attractive to swing voters than Obama’s angry rhetoric about America’s decline, McCain’s purported lack of determination to track down Osama bin Laden, and his vision of government as the solution to our woes.

Read Less

Who’s “Stupid” Now?

Over at The Nation, Adam Howard writes:

I have this regular debate with my fellow progressive friends about whether voters are simply stupid. I always play devil’s advocate and argue that the voters are not stupid, just misinformed. That a barrage of 24-hour cable news numbs them and makes them more susceptible than they should be to the ignorant and blatantly false arguments of the right. But lately I haven’t been so sure.

Howard acknowlegdes that his own belief in the stupidity of the American people is contradicted by his favored presidential candidate, who’s a far more generous soul:

Obama has been fond of saying “the American voters aren’t stupid” lately. But I’m inclined to think the jury is still out, at least for the next few weeks.

And so the answer to the question of whether or not the American people are “stupid” will be determined by one thing: whether Barack Obama is elected president. Holding forth on the alleged “stupidity” of the American people, however, is a rather difficult task, given that there’s over 300 million of us. It also doesn’t seem to hold up to any sort of empirical analysis, either. The United States has one of the best-educated populations in the world with a higher education system that far surpasses that of any other country. Our workforce is the best-skilled and one of the most productive. Presumably, the “stupid” Americans are those who vote for John McCain. How the world’s strongest economy could even manage to function when tens of millions of its participants are knuckle-dragging buffoons is a conundrum with which Howard does not grapple.

As we’ve seen over the past few weeks, of course, condescension and downright vitriol towards the majority of Americans is nothing new for the Left. Friedrich Engels explained long ago that one major impediment to global proletarian revolution was “false consciousness” — that is, the working class’ widespread misunderstanding about their station in life and how to improve it, a misunderstanding imposed upon them by the oppressive strictures of capitalist society. If it could just be made clear to those numbskulls, the thinking went, then the world would turn Red pretty quickly. Claiming that the American people are “stupid” is a far less sophisticated rendering of this theory, and a convenient salve for someone who works at The Nation. Given the manifest unpopularity of its ideas with the American public, what better way for the magazine’s employees to rationalize that unpopularity than to blame the “stupidity” of the American people for not listening to their advice?

Over at The Nation, Adam Howard writes:

I have this regular debate with my fellow progressive friends about whether voters are simply stupid. I always play devil’s advocate and argue that the voters are not stupid, just misinformed. That a barrage of 24-hour cable news numbs them and makes them more susceptible than they should be to the ignorant and blatantly false arguments of the right. But lately I haven’t been so sure.

Howard acknowlegdes that his own belief in the stupidity of the American people is contradicted by his favored presidential candidate, who’s a far more generous soul:

Obama has been fond of saying “the American voters aren’t stupid” lately. But I’m inclined to think the jury is still out, at least for the next few weeks.

And so the answer to the question of whether or not the American people are “stupid” will be determined by one thing: whether Barack Obama is elected president. Holding forth on the alleged “stupidity” of the American people, however, is a rather difficult task, given that there’s over 300 million of us. It also doesn’t seem to hold up to any sort of empirical analysis, either. The United States has one of the best-educated populations in the world with a higher education system that far surpasses that of any other country. Our workforce is the best-skilled and one of the most productive. Presumably, the “stupid” Americans are those who vote for John McCain. How the world’s strongest economy could even manage to function when tens of millions of its participants are knuckle-dragging buffoons is a conundrum with which Howard does not grapple.

As we’ve seen over the past few weeks, of course, condescension and downright vitriol towards the majority of Americans is nothing new for the Left. Friedrich Engels explained long ago that one major impediment to global proletarian revolution was “false consciousness” — that is, the working class’ widespread misunderstanding about their station in life and how to improve it, a misunderstanding imposed upon them by the oppressive strictures of capitalist society. If it could just be made clear to those numbskulls, the thinking went, then the world would turn Red pretty quickly. Claiming that the American people are “stupid” is a far less sophisticated rendering of this theory, and a convenient salve for someone who works at The Nation. Given the manifest unpopularity of its ideas with the American public, what better way for the magazine’s employees to rationalize that unpopularity than to blame the “stupidity” of the American people for not listening to their advice?

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.