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December 06, 2008

What the GOP Needs to Win

This interesting article from Slate describes Obama's 'charisma' in terms you may not have thought about:

For researchers of emotions, creating them in the lab can be a problem. Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California-Berkeley, studies the emotions of uplift, and he has tried everything from showing subjects vistas of the Grand Canyon to reading them poetry—with little success. But just this week one of his postdocs came in with a great idea: Hook up the subjects, play Barack Obama's victory speech, and record as their autonomic nervous systems go into a swoon.

In his forthcoming book, Born To Be Good (which is not a biography of Obama), Keltner writes that he believes when we experience transcendence, it stimulates our vagus nerve, causing "a feeling of spreading, liquid warmth in the chest and a lump in the throat." For the 66 million Americans who voted for Obama, that experience was shared on Election Day, producing a collective case of an emotion that has only recently gotten research attention. It's called "elevation."

Elevation has always existed but has just moved out of the realm of philosophy and religion and been recognized as a distinct emotional state and a subject for psychological study. Psychology has long focused on what goes wrong, but in the past decade there has been an explosion of interest in "positive psychology"—what makes us feel good and why. University of Virginia moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who coined the term elevation, writes, "Powerful moments of elevation sometimes seem to push a mental 'reset button,' wiping out feelings of cynicism and replacing them with feelings of hope, love, and optimism, and a sense of moral inspiration."

Haidt quotes first-century Greek philosopher Longinus on great oratory: "The effect of elevated language upon an audience is not persuasion but transport." Such feeling was once a part of our public discourse. After hearing Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address, former slave Frederick Douglass said it was a "sacred effort." But uplifting rhetoric came to sound anachronistic, except as practiced by the occasional master like Martin Luther King Jr. or Ronald Reagan. And now Obama.

We come to elevation, Haidt writes, through observing others—their strength of character, virtue, or "moral beauty." Elevation evokes in us "a desire to become a better person, or to lead a better life." The 58 million McCain voters might say that the virtue and moral beauty displayed by Obama at his rallies was an airy promise of future virtue and moral beauty. And that the soaring feeling his voters had of having made the world a better place consisted of the act of placing their index fingers on a touch screen next to the words Barack Obama. They might be on to something. Haidt's research shows that elevation is good at provoking a desire to make a difference but not so good at motivating real action. But he says the elevation effect is powerful nonetheless. "It does appear to change people cognitively; it opens hearts and minds to new possibilities. This will be crucial for Obama."

This explains, in large part, why the issues played so little part in this past election and why Obama supporters seem so little disturbed that he has largely abandoned every single major campaign promise he made to them so far. Conservatives keep struggling to explain this contradiction using logic: if his supporters voted for him based on support for the issues, shouldn't they be upset now that he is tacking to the right (indeed, essentially hewing to the same course of action he promised to change)?

They counter that this doesn't disturb them because they "trust" him to do the right thing. This makes conservative heads everywhere explode. If he ran on one set of promises and before even being elected, has already abandoned them, how can we trust anything he says?

But if we accept Haidt's theory, Obama voters were literally transported - past the issues, past questions of character (which explains why they were outraged by the same 'guilt by association' tactics they have used time and time again against Republicans) to a place were simply voting for Obama was an affirmative step in the right direction no matter what he does.

All of which only confirms what I was saying earlier in the campaign: most voters couldn't care less about the issues. They vote for the person. What the GOP needs is a charismatic person who is able to transport voters past that whole critical thinking thing.

Of course, it would be awfully nice if we got someone who was principled and could make a compelling argument for our ideas. But that would seem to be entirely unnecessary.

How depressing.

Posted by Cassandra at December 6, 2008 10:06 AM

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Comments

Is it just my liberal San Francisco sister who
was in a swoon over the Anointed One? Or is it that most liberals are flipping airheads? The ninnies at Newsweek or Time (wouldn't buy either of those political opinion rags, but I do glance at the covers when I pass a newstand) are talking about Obama "fixing the world". They're also fitting him for a fifth place on Mt. Rushmore, etc.

Posted by: Mike Myers at December 6, 2008 11:56 AM

Can I just say, "ick"? More seriously, this article leaves the really interesting question unanswered: Why are some people susceptible to Obama as a source of elevation and others not? Or susceptible to Oprah, for that matter. I'd love to see studies that look at factors like age, gender, and other stuff I can't think of right now to see how they correlate with responding to Obama with "elevation". (My guess is younger means higher response. Gender I'm not sure about. Obviously more women than men are susceptible to Oprah but I'd love to see what the number looks like with regard to Obama since a lot of women were "inoculated" against Obama by his contest with Hillary Clinton.)

This article does seem to help explain why emotions ran so very high in this Presidential election. A lot of Democrats already had the "disgust" thing down with regard to Bush in 2004 but I doubt even his own mother would claim Kerry "elevated" anyone. But take that Bush "disgust" thing and transfer it to McCain then add in the Obama "elevation" thing and you've got people who simply cannot imagine why anyone would even consider voting Republican - and therefore "know" that those who would must be either mentally or morally deficient.

I also wonder if this helps explain some of the incredible - and often incredibly irrational - vitriol directed at Palin. Let's say you want to vote for Obama because he hits your vagus nerve so you want to really hate the other guy. But McCain is not so hate-able for Democrats. Enter Palin who could basically be turned into a caricature of Bush - folksy and clearly conservative - plus she's got all those kids and one is just not right and so on. Bingo! You can now justify and intensify your emotional attachment to Obama by "rationally" feeling disgust for Palin. This disgust in turn helps explain why people were so happy to just make stuff up about Palin - including some truly disgusting stuff - and why other people were so willing to believe it. Like I said, ick.

On the other hand, I assume "elevation" has a finite shelf life. If Obama continues to objectively disappoint his followers, I wonder at what point his spell will wear off. It also puts the spate of left-leaning articles "explaining" Obama in a new light. The articles usually claim that Obama is still working toward "progressive" goals and his less than progressive appointments are presented as either proof of his wanting everyone to work together or proof of his Lenin-like cunning in lulling reactionary forces to sleep while he executes a series of stealthy radical policy changes. Maybe the articles are wrong and the authors simply find themselves scrambling to justify what their vagus nerve told them to do as they begin to realize all the "progressive" changes they thought they heard Obama promise were more projection than reality. (We should live so long and be so lucky.)

Posted by: Elise at December 6, 2008 12:13 PM

Liberal: all about feelings, no thought permitted. Now we know scientifically why.

Posted by: Dandapani at December 6, 2008 02:15 PM

And they don't have the vagus idea why they feel that way...

Posted by: BillT at December 6, 2008 02:33 PM

I had a Vega once.

Posted by: Snarkammando at December 6, 2008 02:46 PM

This is, in my opinion (childish though it sometimes is) somewhat similar to the fascination people felt about John Kennedy when he was elected, and even MORE so after he was assasinated.
I must be immune or cold or something, because I can't think of any politician who moved me emotionally to vote for them, unless that emotion was loathing, which I sometimes felt for Bill Clinton and John Kerry. But even now, it is hard for me to sustain loathing for those two. Most politicians are just too distant from me to form an emotional bond with, positive or negative. Of course, there is always Barney Frank (and John Murtha), who I really do hate.

Sarah Palin comes to mind with respect to this, as Elise pointed out. Some people in the GOP have become very emotionally attached to her, for some reason. I like her, but even now she is a flawed and damaged candidate. Of course the damage was done intentionally by the media who viscerally hate her, and saw her as the same kind of "emotional" candidate that Obama was.

There will always be a strong core of supporters who will continue to adore Obama no matter what he does. All you have to do is look at the childlike adoration still resereved for John Kennedy, who was a poor and flawed President, who unfortunately was tragically murdered and died young. Whenever Ted Sorensen shows up on CSPAN or some other cable deal, and starts up with the Kennedy apple-polishing, it just makes me laugh; it has to be embarrassing for a grown man of his age to still be carrying an emotional torch for a man 45 years dead.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at December 6, 2008 02:53 PM

Soooo.....basically Xerxes has the ability to inflame the passions of the masses thereby causing a *rise* in their *spirits* powerful enough to overcome critical thinking skills so they will pull the lever time and time again for him, but yet they lack the steely resolve to finish the job.

I hear there's a pill for that now. Just ask Bill.....
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at December 6, 2008 02:55 PM

Pills? Don' need no steengkeeng pills.

I'm 100% natural -- except for the kevlar insert keeping my guts inside.

On the *plus* side, I'm sorta-kinda bulletproof there.

On the *minus* side, I crinkle when I do situps.

Posted by: BillT at December 6, 2008 03:49 PM

This is a really fascinating article that, again, shows the lack of logic in the leftist illuminati's campaign. I had thought for a while Obama's tactics weren't much more than smoke and mirrors.

Posted by: ew at December 6, 2008 04:20 PM

"It does appear to change people cognitively; it opens hearts and minds to new possibilities. This will be crucial for Obama."

Useful idiots and those vulnerable to propaganda are almost useful to puppet masters. When has this ever been a new thing?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 6, 2008 10:55 PM

it stimulates our vagus nerve, causing "a feeling of spreading, liquid warmth in the chest and a lump in the throat."

Hmmmmm...as you can see from this diagram, the vagus nerve has endings in the throat area, which for me, (when I read articles such as the linked one), stimulates my gag reflex, causing me to throw up a little bit in my mouth.

Posted by: MathMom at December 6, 2008 11:06 PM

BillT -

Whassup wit da Kevlar?

Posted by: MathMom at December 6, 2008 11:09 PM

Obama's "charisma" may not be enough to drag William "Cold Cash" Jefferson to the House o' Reps this time. Looks like Anh "Joseph" Cao has a commanding lead with 79% of precincts reporting.

Posted by: MathMom at December 6, 2008 11:16 PM

Whassup wit da Kevlar?

One of the downsides to being lean 'n' mean.

Rip the muscle sheath over your guts and the durn muscle *shreds*. Kevlar is inert, fairly flexible and strong, so the docs took a couple of 4"x6" sheets of the stuff and anchored 'em to solid muscle a few inches beyond the tear.

I overheard the docs discussing the technical aspects when I woke up on the table.

"...and run them from the corner to these..."

"Geez, what a mess."

*blink* *blink*

"%$#@! He's awake! Put-him-out-put-him-out-put him out!"

Priceless...

Posted by: BillT at December 7, 2008 01:36 AM

Ah, yes, the Kevlar abdominal sheath. He was cutting edge at one point...

Posted by: Sly's Wardrobe Mistress at December 7, 2008 03:43 AM

...and I have the scars from the cuts to prove it.

Posted by: BillT at December 7, 2008 06:39 AM

Crikey, Dude!

I guess it's better to crinkle than to "hang out", eh? It's a good time to be alive - you're bionic, MathMan has a heart it's former owner no longer needed.

Posted by: MathMom at December 7, 2008 09:23 AM

Obama 'fixing' the world. I did that when I fixed my cats, both male and female. Yes, I am in a really grumpy mood after having to read 'Literature; Art or Creation?'

Posted by: Cricket at December 7, 2008 12:13 PM

Yeah, I remember when my vagus nerve was stimulated during my first c-sec. Sadly, I was not knocked unconscious for that procedure.

I do remember saying something about needing to throw up but they all laughed and said 'You have nothing to vomit, you drank the antacid.'

Posted by: Cricket at December 7, 2008 12:18 PM

Bill always has some of the best stories. I don't even want to know what would have happened had Bill gone into Army SF in addition to his other career.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 12:45 PM

Seriously, how is she 'flawed', yes she's prolife, but doesn't care so much about the courts side of it; but through persuasion nad leading by example. She has a genuine record of accomplishment, that was literally'shredded' in order to discredit her. Did they damage her, only among those that didn't care to inform themselves, and we really don't want them anyways. They did similar, although not to the same extent, to Bobby Jindal, to Jeb Bush. I won't deny that her ability to persevere in spite of all this garbage, to not complain, to continue with a consistent message has not won her supporters. She's one of the only ones in the party that does stand for the conservative side anymore. I'd understand if she doesn't want to put her family through this; she did more than yeoman's work in this campaign.

Posted by: narciso at December 7, 2008 12:58 PM

Well, at the risk of enraging those who do love Palin, I defended her from what I saw as unjust and unfair attacks, narciso, but in no way would I be enthusiastic about a Palin candidacy.

I think she's bright and talented, but so are a lot of other folks.

I never saw what many people saw in her. IOW, not enough to nudge me over into the active supporter column.

For one thing, she is a little too 'in your face'. Her judgment is a little bit off: like Ann Coulter, she is a polarizing figure. I think that one can be true to one's principles without pissing off the other side.

She doesn't have that knack, and let's face it: it's an art. In politics, it's also a NECESSARY art, because politics is all about building consensus. I don't want another 8 years like we just had. I think the media were very unfair to her. But I also think she has a little bit of growing to do before she's ready for a run at the presidency.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 7, 2008 01:16 PM

I don't even want to know what would have happened had Bill gone into Army SF in addition to his other career.

Oh, geez, you want me to talk about eating *bugs*?

Posted by: BillT at December 7, 2008 01:20 PM

I never saw what many people saw in her. IOW, not enough to nudge me over into the active supporter column.

For one thing, she is a little too 'in your face'. Her judgment is a little bit off: like Ann Coulter, she is a polarizing figure. I think that one can be true to one's principles without pissing off the other side.

The other side needs to be pissed off and buried. We didn't AQ's help in Iraq, just the Sunnis. On that note, the "other side" in America literally consists of the 22% conspiracy theorists and mentally unbalanced freaks like Code Pink. Don't need em. Only have to fight them and bury them for the "moderates" (many of them swing depending on which side does the better manipulation and propaganda campaign).

Sarah can definitely bury them. Bush has demonstrated, and so has McCain, that you can't bury people you aren't willing to engage, no matter how "moderate" you are or how "compassionate" you are in "reaching across the aisle". None of that matters worth a damn in reality.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 01:34 PM

Look: I separate out the media treatment of Palin from what I saw from some of the my intelligent and informed friends. I may not agree with them, but they, too, had a visceral reaction to her.

I don't have to agree with someone to notice it when something happens and wonder why, Ymar. Some of the things Palin said could have been framed better.

It's not that they didn't have some truth to them. The appropriate parallel, I think, is Kathleen Parker.

She has been pissing off people on the right like mad.

She also has made some very valid points in with the things where she is wrong. The problem is that she displays no respect for anyone who disagrees with her. I'm tired of that sort of rhetoric. Calling religious people 'oogedy boogedy' just raises hackles. Like it or not, Palin displayed the same sort of thinly veiled contempt for Democrats.

It's no wonder they hate her.

When you are elected President, you are president of ALL the people. She forgot that. And that's not something you GET to forget as a leader. Inexcusable. You don't have to shrug off your principles to get elected, but displaying contempt for those who disagree with you is never smart politics.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 7, 2008 01:44 PM

And by the way, let's not forget that I called Obama on that same sh*t when he did it.

Wrong is wrong. I don't care which party you belong to or what your political affiliation is: you will not hear me excuse it just because someone is on "my side". That's crap.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 7, 2008 01:46 PM

Anne Coulter has a long history as a pundit, author, and controversy advocate. She has written books calling (fake) "Liberals" dumb or insane or so forth. Anne Coulter, for all her virtues and faults, needed bodyguards to defend herself against student activists throwing pies and being thugs.

Anne is a world away from Sarah.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 02:08 PM

Like it or not, Palin displayed the same sort of thinly veiled contempt for Democrats.

It's no wonder they hate her.

You haven't successfully argued that Palin displayed the "same sort". All you have mentioned are Kathleen Parker and Palin's other political enemies as examples. That in no way an argument makes: not against Palin.

Trying to justify the proto-typical reaction of propaganda targets with "no wonder they hate her" is an exercise in futility. They can be made to hate or love whomever propagandists decide needs to be hated or loved. This decision rests upon the skill and power of the propagandists, not the Left or even the moderates (those who call themselves Not So Strong Democrats).

Plenty of articles, scientific, non-scientific, partisan, biased, GOP, and military have demonstrated that, to no end.

Whether you justify it with the argument that the GOP lacks a charismatic person that can mentally and emotionally manipulate people so they "transcend" cynicism and doubt, like an Obama, or whether you justify it as the power of the MSM's ability to control the "narrative" and thus the perceptions of most normal people (who don't pay attention to politics in detail), does not change the original reality. The original reality being that any reason can be provided as a motivation to mob to hate Sarah Palin. The methods are known to me, known to Democrats, and known to Obama as well as foreign powers like the Soviets. And they do not have any ethical or moral compunctions about using them, nor do they lack the funds and the power to do so.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 02:15 PM

And by the way, let's not forget that I called Obama on that same sh*t when he did it.

Which just means that it doesn't matter to the people what Palin or Obama "is" or "is" not. What matters is who gets to control the people, and if Obama wins, then he wins it all. If, on the other hand, Palin wins, then she would win it all. That is what the office of the President has been evolved for: total victory, a winner takes all grab bag, to the victor.

By your logic, Cass, it would be "no wonder" that Republicans and GOP and Sarah Palin loyalists would hate Obama and would attempt to undermine him the same way the Left tried to undermine Bush.

However, your logic is not workable in this situation. There are too many examples otherwise. People are not as static as all that in their love or in their hate. It is all too easy to turn one into the other.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 02:17 PM

If it wasn't easy, then there would be no need for a "charismatic" leader, now would there.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 02:18 PM

Ymar, I'm already sorry I brought it up.

Any reply I could make (and trust me, I have no trouble replying) would not lead anywhere good.

Sometimes it's just better if I keep my thoughts to myself :p

Posted by: Cassandra at December 7, 2008 02:23 PM

Reagan is no exception. They treated him the same way. Dunce, warmonger, and so forth. Sounds like Sarah Palin to me, if all I listened to was the MSM.

I suppose it also was no "wonder" the Left hated Reagan, either. He was a tough guy on the Soviets and started raising the stakes for WWIII, nuclear fallout, and all that. Had Carter been able to get the hostages back and get an "October Surprise" like Obama, Reagan would have had a much smaller lead, assuming he won at all.

Today, however, there are plenty of people who voted for Carter, who then voted for Reagan, or those who voted twice for Carter who now have changed their minds on Reagan.

Time, or in this case, propaganda, changes all things eventually: one way or the other.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 02:24 PM

Any reply I could make (and trust me, I have no trouble replying) would not lead anywhere good.

What's not going to lead anywhere good is to argue that Sarah Palin has been acting like Kathleen Parker and Anne Coulter vis a vis Democrats or those who disagree with her and not giving any real examples or justifications.

If you have something you know about Sarah Palin that I don't, then it would benefit both us to have that out in the open where there are no misunderstandings.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 02:28 PM

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/10/17/palin-touts-the-pro-america-areas-of-the-country/

Not that someone won't try, but I'm sorry. You just can't put a good spin on that.

It was not a good thing to say.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 7, 2008 02:30 PM

You don't have to shrug off your principles to get elected, but displaying contempt for those who disagree with you is never smart politics.

No, it isn't smart politics. It is only smart propaganda, if you can pull it off. And Obama pulled it off.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 02:31 PM

I like Palin, but only because she stood for the values the Republican USED to have. She can be polarizing, but she isn't the scold Ann Coulter is. Trust me on that one. I agree that if she were to mature sufficiently to see that we all have to work together, then there will be more than unicorns shivvying Barney off the White House lawn and dragging bones from Keith Olberman's grave.

I am beginning to detest contemporary fiction and I want to move to a Shaker commune. I have been reading too much poetry.

Posted by: Cricket at December 7, 2008 02:44 PM

“We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, D.C.,” she said to applause.

“We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans.”

The comment prompted Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton to send this e-mail to reporters: “Just asking: What part of the country isn’t pro-America?”

I might have wished that the article gave me less information, that way the answer wouldn't have been so obvious. What part of the country isn't pro-America(n)? How about DC, where 97% voted for Obama, 2-3% less than the percentage that went for Saddam Hussein, and which also bans handguns, except for the bodyguards needed to protect the politicians.

Mention this to crime ridden neighborhoods and those who have suffered from criminal violence with no help from the police or the "government", and you can get some Al Anbar Awakening type results, if you can offer such demographics an actual solution to crime. The GOP could gain great strides in urban populations due to this. And yet, people have a "negative" response to Palin's comments? I dare say they would, if DC and bans on handguns are their ideal for America.

And btw, that last line of mine definitely would be contemptous. Just to give a compare and contrast example of Palin's not so contemptuous line with a real one.

Unless a person able to analyze emotional or intellectual manipulations had been there when Sarah had given that speech, any kind of out of context or even in context quotation would not give the full meaning or impact of her words. This is relevant to anybody reading such lines on paper and then forming a "negative" impression. That is to be expected, but it was due more to the skills of manipulation than it had to do with Sarah Palin's intentions.

This can be easily compared to the GOP or Bush's attempt to try to get Democrats to go with the War in Iraq after the pre-war debates had ended by talking about patriotism. This gets manipulated, massaged, and portrayed as Republicans calling Democrats un-patriotic. Which is only negative in the sense that Democrats are un-patriotic but it is not a good thing to simply be talking about patriotism without also talking about what it entails in terms of loyalty to America, rather than the government or even the military. It didn't benefit America to side line the debate into "patriotism vs non-patriotism" given that people's understanding of patriotism needs to be clarified first. This produced benefits to Democrats, precisely because it was an issue easy to manipulate. It didn't benefit Democrats because Republicans, the GOP party, pro-Iraq partisans, or Bush were "contemptuous". Some of them were, when a few years had gone on after 2003, but the great majority just wanted the sabotage of America's foreign policy to stop. They were more tired and demoralized than "contemptuous". They still cared; they still believed Democrats were the loyal opposition. It was only after many years of such abuse that their contempt started really getting up: rightfully so.

Putting the good of the country over your own personal benefit is patriotism. Defining the good of the nation as being composed of individuals and not welfare recipients, however, requires a better terminology than "American" or "anti-American". Edwards was right; there are two Americas. One has to define what America is to begin with these days.

There is no real way to use "Unity" rhetoric to target everybody. You will offend somebody, somewhere. Obama's skill has to do with playing on people's stereotypes of rednecks and bible thumpers and gun freaks. If you have to offend somebody and make them out to be the stalking horse, then you might as well offend the minority in the rural areas rather than the majority in the urban areas. This is a strategic calculation. Sarah Palin lacks this kind of perspective and skill set, unfortunately. Palin's use of pro-American would have been fine had she defined what anti-American meant (like Bill and Obama defining right wing extremists that most people can agree aren't part of their America). Palin didn't do so, apparently, which allowed for a counter-attack on her wording. So I can definitely say that she chose the wrong words to use in speeches like that, but only because Palin comes from one nation called America and she thought most everybody had the same idea of the nation as she did (excluding DC of course). She now has realized that the culture in the rest of the 49 states is a little bit different than Alaska's.

Then again, many of us had the same impression in 2003 or before 9/11. We still believed in something called the "loyal opposition". The gap between the civilians and the military became clear during Iraq or just Vietnam, but before that, many people had believed there was no rift. Many people who supported Iraq believed that the Democrat's objections about WMDs were in good faith and were correct responses to what Democrats saw as bait and switch tactics. In reality however, the Iraq supporters eventually realized that Democrats didn't give a damn about WMDs, either way. Just like Democrats didn't care whether Bush put more troops into Iraq or less troops into Iraq, so long as it damaged Bush and helped the Democrat party. Calling Bush to "listen" to his generals and push more troops into Iraq suddenly turned into "Betraeus" (Betrayus) about how more troops wouldn't do any good in Iraq.

I believe if people are honest about the years between 2003 and 2008, they wouldn't be too surprised at seeing somebody far out in the frontier not being a veteran of such warfare. Everybody has to learn the true nature of America's internal problems one way or another. And while there are benefits to being out on the frontier, there are a couple of detriments as well.

Then again, there were benefits to Reagan's acting career and detriments as well. The only thing that matters is whether a leader has enough skill sets, in aggregate, to manipulate the American population in order to defeat the manipulations of their political opponents.

And this is why many people with honor don't like politics. You have to appear like a sheep, a moderate sheep, before the elections and then go back to your true visage after you have won (presumably). Not many people are cut out for this for not many people are motivated enough to adopt this kind of skillset. But whatever Palin's virtues or flaws, she certainly has the motivation.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 03:05 PM

I think McCain would have lost by 20 points if it had not been for Palin. Since this election consisted of four people who were not ready to be President, we had to make do. Also, since it was Obama vs McCain, not Obama vs Palin, the argument about her readiness to be President is sort of off-point, especially when we look at Obama's total lack of qualifications to be President (the job he sought, and unfortunately, won). And I cringe to think what will happen if Biden has to step up to the plate. IMHO, something happened to his wiring with the aneurysms, something that makes random s#!+ come out of his mouth at inappropriate times. Why not just get someone with Tourette's for the job, I ask?

What captivated me about Palin is her unabashed love for America, and her willingness to say it out loud. As compared to Obama's "we're a flawed country" tripe, this is a breath of fresh air. I want to smack him upside the head every time I hear that coming out of his mouth, because he is fargin' rich and totally without accomplishment. Where else can you do that, unless you're the dictator of some tin-pot Third World country? And, as compared to Hillary, Palin took body blows without ever saying anything about the boys being mean to the girls. Hillary complained about sexism and unfairness in the race, then said something to the effect of "but I'll soldier on..." I couldn't believe that a serious candidate would say something like that - does Ahmadinejad give a good happy crap about being mean to a girl? Crikey! Such words would not and did not come out of Palin's mouth.

Except for the Left's treatment of George Bush, I can't remember when anyone in politics was as horribly treated as Palin. But the only time I saw her show any sign of becoming emotional was at McCain's concession speech.

She has made it to where she is on her own skill, talents, merit and effort. She is not riding a powerful husband's coattails into office, she does not have a family pedigree in politics. She mixed into her stump speech new information every day, gleaned from the newspapers and blogs, and threw them up in the face of the Obama campaign. She fought to win. She called out the media on their lapdog status with the Obama campaign. McCain just wouldn't engage, just wouldn't call out the Democrats for their complicity in the entire financial meltdown. Palin can land body blows with a smile, and she was truly treated like a man in this campaign. There was absolutely no one who gave her a break because she was a girl.

I had hoped for her to be picked as VP, long before it happened, because I thought she could pry McCain's head out of his posterior with respect to ANWR - McCain truly looked like a fool when he compared it to drilling in the Grand Canyon. But there was not time to fly him up there and have him really see what the area looks like. I realized that she was a bit light in the experience column, but again, she was going for VP, not President. I cringed a bit when she was asked early on if she was ready to be President and she said "sure!" I think most people running are not truly ready, and should always say something humble, like that they realize it's the toughest job in the world and with God's help, they will do their best blah blah.

I hope to see more of Palin in the future. I'd love for her to have two good terms in Alaska, then head south for another go.

Posted by: MathMom at December 7, 2008 03:08 PM

The sad thing is would take a great crisis, the kind the One's people are likely to ramble into; before this choice was made. Right off the back, I see at least the unemployment rate as being at 1993-1994; which aren't that bad. They're probably closer to mid 70s, when there was a two minute hate directed at Nixon, and later Ford, because of the 'long national nightmare' that he forestalled. So people voted for Carter, who ended up dissapointing them, to put it mildly.
The Iranian hostage crisis, and the inflation put Carter's faults in sharp relief. Yet who were the leading candidates in 1980; Baker, Connally, the old retread, John Anderson; Reagan only surfaced later, even though he had set down markers from his primary campaign; a rough analogue to Sarah's recent experience. Yes I won't deny that there is a defensive reaction to all this; when some one sets about attacking a mother, a wife, a public servant who's challenged the establishment and does it almost exclusively with personal attacks and lies, one can't help come to her aid. The fact that she didn't complain, didn't modulate her message really, didn't back down on her values means a lot. But there are real accomplishments on her side of the ledger and let us say less on the other.

Posted by: narciso at December 7, 2008 03:24 PM

I agree, narciso, and I always said as much when I defended her. I don't hate the woman. Not by a long shot.

I think she has a lot to recommend her.

I am not sure that she is the strongest candidate we can field. But she is welcome to try and win my vote: I'll not dismiss her out of hand. I think she handled herself amazingly well, considering the very rough treatment she was accorded.

I still am looking for just a bit more in a *presidential* candidate (as MathMom pointed out, even though the media tried to make this into an "Obama vs. Palin" race, she was never the presidential candidate). Maybe with a bit more experience, she would fit the bill. Just not (IMO at least) quite yet :)

But then I felt the same way about Condi Rice a few years back. Now, I would have no such reservation.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 7, 2008 03:41 PM

They're probably closer to mid 70s, when there was a two minute hate directed at Nixon, and later Ford, because of the 'long national nightmare' that he forestalled. So people voted for Carter, who ended up dissapointing them, to put it mildly.

Reagan raised a nice point in his campaign. When Carter ran against Ford's economic problems, Carter said something to the effect that you can't having a living wage or something when unemployment was at X percentage (can't really be exact on the figures). When Carter came on the scene, the unemployment rate rose up another 2%. Reagan made great use of Carter's own attacks against Ford's economic policies in this regard.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 04:01 PM

Sarah also has a Journalism degree (BS). Found that out through some off the highway background story.

Not as good as Reagan's acting career, perhaps, in the personal charisma business, but if she had learned it when they were teaching that "journalists had to change the world" then certainly that might explain her entry into politics later on. But regardless, media manipulation will be necessary in any GOP Presidential candidate that wants to get into office and not get flayed in the process.

Not everybody is a Bush and can just "shrug" it off. Nixon, for example, went paranoid from the same kind of treatment.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 04:11 PM

Also, we all know that Sarah Palin ended up with a college degree in journalism (even if she had to go through five colleges to get it). But for the first time, probably, she mentioned it today in an interview, on the rightwing talk show hosted by Hugh Hewitt. She also referred to herself as "normal Joe Six-Pack American" and said it was time to have that type of Joe (not Biden) as vice president. The J-degree exchange:

HH: Now Governor, the Gibson and the Couric interview struck many as sort of pop quizzes designed to embarrass you as opposed to interviews. Do you share that opinion?
SP: Well, I have a degree in journalism also, so it surprises me that so much has changed since I received my education in journalistic ethics all those years ago. But I’m not going to pick a fight with those who buy ink by the barrelful. I’m going to take those shots and those pop quizzes and just say that’s okay, those are good testing grounds. And they can continue on in that mode. That’s good. That makes somebody work even harder. It makes somebody be even clearer and more articulate in their positions. So really I don’t fight it. I invite it.

Background link

That's not my source, btw, just something for people to read.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 04:13 PM

We don't need a Nixon, however qualified or experienced, in office. Republicans and the nation for that matter, can't afford another President taken down by MSM manipulation and hate fests. But we can't afford another Bush, either. Bush is completely, almost, immune to this kind of stuff, but Bush doesn't use it: he just ignores it.

We need someone, like Reagan, who can both manipulate the media, perceptions, and people's emotions (Obama's transcendant rhetoric for example) but also not become insane in the bargain due to the Left's attacks.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 04:15 PM

This is the fourth time the fools have voted this way. First time for Kennedy and then Carter and Clinton and now bho.I remember back to Ike.I thought that with Sara Palin we had a chance. Not. But I know why.

Posted by: mike at December 7, 2008 04:37 PM

Mike, it's not that bad. We only have, what, 3-5 million people to target and manipulate emotionally and convince through the art of persuasion (propaganda)?

That's not a lot. And it is a task that propaganda is capable of covering. Just like in warfare, the more determined and capable side will usually win. Discounting the times when the more capable side loses because they are not the more determined side.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 05:39 PM

Sometimes it's just better if I keep my thoughts to myself :p

I don't like the Left, especially not vis a vis the subject of Sarah Palin. It has little to do with you, Cass, or you bringing up her.

It only matters in so much that, unlike many other subjects, I won't drop this one. Not here, at least.

It doesn't take much effort on my part for my hostility to the Left to show up.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 06:36 PM

Hrm, the Vagus nerve, that's one of the targets in Target Focus Training. Interesting.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 7, 2008 06:38 PM

I agree Cassandra, and dissent in part, much like those Supreme Court decisions that don't decide anything. I wouldn't mind Bobby Jindal; they tried to torpedo him back in 2003 and ended up with Blanco, botching Katrina. Sanford has some good points, but he's from South Carolina and Time Magazine (Luce is rolling over like a top, at what his publication has become) dubbed him an idiot governor, yet they think Granholm is some kind of genius. Crist, my home state governor has been aggresively dissapointing, Pawlenty couldn't even explain his 'Sams Club' Republican argument properly. I was originally for Guiliani, for his anti-crime, anticorruption, strong foreign policy,
but he was torpedoed mostly by what turned out to be baseless rumors so I cottoned to McCain with strong reservations, on interrogation practices,
campaign finance, global warming, and domestic oil drilling. I thought Sarah patched those gaps
in the system.

You know, if anyone has actually read Kaylene Johnson's bio of her; they'd find she's not that extreme; she couldn't be and prevail in Alaska's
political environment. But she is a Christian, and she did believe in the War, and followed through on her Feminist for Life stands, not by
empty words but by example. That counts a great deal in this day and age; of course that can also be held against you. It's kind of funny, that they thought she's botch the Convention Speech, she was a sportscaster, much like Reagan, and she's been in office, for more than a dozen years, if one counts her city council experience. If she rose to the highest office in the land, she'd please many, but just as likely tick off many on our side; who really value unanimity over practicality. Certainly on immigration, she seems more pragmatic than some would like, suggested in the Univision interview. It's doubtful she could really cross over the breach of the left wing; she'd certainly try with mixed results.

On paper, it seemed that this level ofvituperation
seemed excessive directed at just the vice presidential candidate; but look closer. She was almost the polar opposite of the President elect.
Rural over urban, accomplished over rhetorical, reformist over machine politician (remember Biden and Obama voted for the "Bridge to Nowhere)pro-life over pro-choice, pro-military over ambivalent
if not antipathy to the military (remember the picture at the hospital in Kuwait, over the brushoff at Rammstein). In that speech, she challenged the whole vacuous notion of community
organizing; reacting to the rebuffs against her
experience. She brought up the influences of Ayers (for which she was deemed to be inciting
assasinations)and Wright on Obama. She argued the
the anti-tax, pro growth, pro energy development.
She supported the bailout, as a necessary evil; but one could see she had grave reservations about its impact. She made the case for supporting
the Caucasus against the Russian intervention (which was reframed as a pedge to go to war) So in very large measure, she was the campaign. I know her wingman was around on occasion, but what his message was from day to day; god only knows.
She drew out the largest crowds everywhere they went in multiple rallies in multiple cities. Which does make me question some of the claims of 'wardrobe and makeup gate' there's not enough time in the day for all that has been alleged she was being pampered and going to all those events. So yes, she hits the vagus nerve, among those on the center right, and a fair number of independent
libertarians. She made the only arguments really worth making at the RGA meeting and she was sniped
at by Pawlenty and company; and they picked Sanford as their spokesman. But it clear, until another comes along, she's really the voice of the party. Now that shouldn't be, she has a state to run, take care of her family, which is really what keeps her grounded. But that's the way one sees it.

Posted by: narciso at December 7, 2008 08:47 PM

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