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The Gadfly

A few days ago, I wrote that John McCain isn't the right candidate to put John McCain into the White House (i.e., he's an electable candidate, with his history and record, but he's unable to run a winning campaign). If he loses, it will be easy to blame the financial meltdown, but it was his response to it, and his incoherent inability to discuss economics sensibly, and his unwillingness to go after his colleagues in Congress, that will be the ultimate cause. I still think that it's winnable, though. And if he wins, I think that he'll have been saved by Sarah Palin.

In any event, Rich Lowry says much the same thing.


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Bald Tires wrote:

The other night I watched a part of an interview McCain gave on TV and just utterly despaired at his poor performance. He was as inarticulate and incoherent before the cameras as George Bush. Now I have agreed with some (not all) of Bush's decisions, and find the written text of his speeches quite acceptable for the genre, but cannot bear to watch him deliver a speech or give a press conference. To have four more years of that from McCain as President is probably more torture than even I could stand. I don't expect the POTUS to be superficially glib like Clinton or Obama, but I do expect him to be able to address the nation with some coherence, to inspire confidence and trust. Bush was never up to the task. I am not convinced that John McCain is either, the consequence of which is that I don't think he will be able to govern effectively if he is elected. There is a lot of anger and hostility out there among the Democrats, and no President can be effective unless he can overcome some of that. It goes with the job. McCain will get my vote only because the alternative for the nation is much worse.

Kelly Starks wrote:

I never liked McClain much before, and if he loses this one to "The One", I want his head on a pole!

Carl Pham wrote:

Nah, I think you're unreasonable here, Rand. One man cannot shovel back the tide. This is why statistical models that predict Presidential election outcomes using a few variables, all of which have to do with stuff like the state of the economy, can do so well. It's a very, very rare Presidential election that actually turns on the quality of the campaign.

It's like arguing that whether a person turns out heterosexual or homosexual has to do with whether he's exposed to gay teachers in school or not, or like your previous thoughts on how social acceptance of the word "marriage" to refer to cohabiting pairs of gay men, or women, would influence how young couples form their own future marriages.

Sure, there may be some influence at the margins, but there are strong and deep tides that pretty much mostly determine the outcome. And do not doubt that, as the highly social hominid species we are, we have predispositions and tendencies in how we hire and fire our tribal leaders that are just as deep-rooted, unconscious, and powerful as our sex drives.

Bald Tires wrote:

I must disagree with C. Pham. When I was much younger, I was a straight ticket Democrat. On the local scene, I still vote for as many Democrats as I do Republicans, if I like their platforms. In the past I have voted for the likes of JFK and Ed Brooke, John Anderson and Ralph Nader, Ronald Regan and George Bush. I admire LBJ for his Great Society programs, despite their many failures. So how can it be that I am deeply, even "genetically" disposed to favor one party or another? I could even see myself voting for BHO---maybe not now, but 4 or 8 years from now after he'd built his record--if I could figure him out and he were honest enough to tell us what we can expect from his Presidency. There's nothing deep about my choice this time around. I'm going for the lesser of two evils, in this case with the evil I may "know" instead of the evil I am sure I don't have the faintest clue about. Yes, McCain, like Bush and many before him, will probably govern in a way that breaks every promise he's made in his campaign. I should not trust him either. I choose to place my trust in a divided government.

Carl Pham wrote:

Jeez, I dunno, Bald, but all the elements of your life story would seem to confirm my argument, viz.:

You voted Democrat when younger, but as you grew older became more independent and conservative. Well, so does nearly everybody. That's why the Democrats are enthused about the youth vote, every year.

You place your trust more in divided government than in any one man, however well he speaks. Well, so have most Americans since Madison -- and Madison designed the divided government we have for exactly that reason: because he trusted that better than any one man, even a man like Washington.

Further, all the criticisms you level at Obama are pretty much the same as the top concerns every other voter expresses about him.

So, if the tendencies you report here are so very similar to the tendencies of maybe 500 million other people -- all the Americans that have ever lived -- how can they be the product of your detailed and unique life history? Not likely, is it? Much more likely that you, just like the rest of us, are strongly swayed by a whole lot of instincts and wired-in tendencies.

I'm not arguing against the existence of your free will -- I'll save that for another day, ha ha -- but I am arguing that, when it comes to picking your tribal leaders, your will is about as powerfully constrained as when you're picking your mate, when you find yourself (strangely enough!) picking an attractive, well-spoken female (if you're male) or male (if you're female) member of your own species, just like all the rest of us, with your freedom to choose largely restricted to superficialities like blonde or brunette, B or C cup, et cetera.

Bald Tires wrote:

Wrong again, C. Pham. 43 years ago my mate chose me, not vice versa, and I said, sure, why not, we're taking the same courses, aren't we? The rest is herstory. :-)

Carl Pham wrote:

Er...what about this bit here:

and I said, sure, why not

Sounds like you had a part in the decision.

But as for your argument that that decision was entirely free of any instinctual influence whatsoever, it was all just a pure cool intellectual exercise of weighing up the pros and cons -- well, I'd be foolish to debate the beliefs a man has about his heart's choice, would I not? Sail on, brother.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on October 28, 2008 9:42 AM.

What's Wrong With The First One? was the previous entry in this blog.

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