Thursday, December 30, 2010

Obama Rising, Palin Falling

Or so the CBS news headline goes regarding a recent CNN poll tells us. It was posted by a "friend" on a certain popular social network, and "liked", of course, by several of his friends.   And so I read the story and went out and looked at the poll data.

When you get to the bottom of it, the data backing this PR-driven headline is that Palin, a non-encumbent, potential candidate who has not declared candidacy in a wide open field of potential candidates -- has had support by her party drop by 18 points in the last two years (down to a "measely" 49%). Meanwhile, Obama, the encumbent and presumed candidate has hand his support by his party rise by 2-5 points in the past few months, depending on which particular month you pick.   And these numbers fluctuate more like noise in the data, with no trending to the graph.

I'm shocked. SHOCKED, I tell you. :-)

Of course if you pick Obama's approval rating over the same period as the one over which Palin's is measured, you find it has had a fairly similar fate to Palin's.

Obama rising, Palin falling. O.... kay.

Obviousman here says we're comparing apples to ... frankly, turnips here, struggling to come up with a headline to impress those who wait to see where the masses are headed before they decide where they should be headed.

Polls to create the desired headlines. Oh yeah, everybody does it (meaning both, or "all" sides). But it's one of many things that are wrong with the way we do things around here.

When I pointed this out, the response I got was "it's just a poll".

Actually, at least CBS thought it was "news" enough to write a story that went to the lengths described above to torture a headline out of it that would catch people's attention ... in a certain way.   And the "friend" who says it's "just a poll" when someone challenged the story thought it important enough to pass along (you don't think that kind of behavior has anything to do with CBS's story, do you?)

For someone who is supposedly totally irrelevant she sure gets brought up in headlines a lot -- in stories designed to tell us all how totally irrelevant she is.


mkfreeberg said...

Every time I hear about Palin's plummeting approval rating (strange how that same phenomenon says something about her, but not about Holy Man when He sets a freakin' record on that) or her sky-high "unqualified" rating, I have a thought. I think it's a valid one and if it is, it pretty much changes everything.

A lot of other people are having the same thought, I think, but aren't voicing it.

There is a certain number by which Palin's prospects would bounce upward, when & if she becomes the contender. Leaving aside how likely that is or isn't...the number does exist. It is either zero or non-zero; if it is non-zero, it is *freaking* huge. Which is a rather long-winded way of saying, there are certain people out there who are still in the "denial/bargaining/anger/depression" stages of coping with the fact that it's Palin-or-nobody...they do NOT approve...but if it comes down to Palin versus Obama, they'll vote Palin.

Is this something someone wants to disagree with, to contest, dispute, try to smack down? That would be insane.

As Dilbert once said: This is the part where you back off, acknowledge I'm right, and we all get on with our lives.

It is not too early to figure out who's got the best shot running in 2012, but it is way too early to figure out how well Palin would do. All the denial floating around, amounts to noise, and you can't take measurements with a bunch of noise.

tim said...

You had me at “CBS headline”. No further explanation needed.

Maybe someone can remind me but I don’t ever remember a sitting president being compared, if you will, to a private citizen before. The obsession that the media has for Palin is bordering on seventh grade, school boy crush, “I hate her”, “Then why do you talk so much about her, dude?” kind’a stuff. If she was such a waste of time talking about because - ‘she clearly isn’t qualified for the job‘, ‘not properly educated‘, ‘lacks intellectual curiosity’…’she shoots freakin’ wolves from a helicopter!’ and ‘supported the bridge to nowhere’…why does her name come up ALL the time?

Besides trying to discredit her, I mean.

By the bye, how’s CBS’s and their overpaid and underperforming Katie Couric’s poll numbers lately? Speaking of Couric, how are those marks healing from that recent Condi beat down? Obviously she’s not reading the “ right” newspapers.

Severian said...

Ok, so we know the mainstream media will do anything and everything to discredit Palin, just as they will do anything and everything to pump up Glorious Leader.


Personally, I think the best fun will be had when the field narrows and the MSM tries to pimp us on the "moderate" Republican. That was my favorite part of Campaign '08 - when outlets like tried to sell us Ron Paul, Centrist Moderate. Not even those ditzes could sustain it past a few weeks, but boy were those weeks chuckalicious.

Come to think of it, that's what'll finally sell me on Sarah Palin as a serious contender - if they keep up the negative stuff instead of pushing Mitt Romney (or whomever), Centrist Moderate. If Palin really is the drag on the GOP some (including me) consider her to be, the media would be pushing her on us for all they're worth... the "yeah yeah yeah, vote Sarah!" campaign would be in full swing.

I may have to rethink stuff....

philmon said...

Drag on the Republican Party. Hmmm. Truth is, she's been the brightest of the few bright spots, and that's what all of the establishment GOP'ers are afraid of.

Do you really get excited about Huckabee or Romney? Of the three males mentioned in the article, the only one I think has a decent amount of respect for anything like originalism would be Gingrich. Between the three of them, I'd be voting for him.

I know. Lotsa people hate him. But remember, you're limited to those three... which one?

Add Palin. What are ya gonna do?

There are other possibilities out there I understand, and if look like they're about to throw their hats in we'll talk.

Severian said...

"Drag on the Republican party" isn't quite right, but I was writing in haste about a subject I'm not really clear about in my own head (which actually makes my comment par for the course in the political blogsphere... sad).

Anyway, I think I was trying to make two interrelated points. First: I take a perverse pleasure in watching our totally nonpartisan, completely objective media spin, spin, spin like hamsters in an exercise wheel, telling us who to love and who to hate. I think it takes a kind of perverse, but real, genius to craft an article like the one you cite. This is akin to me arguing that the Arizona Cardinals' third-stringer is really a much better quarterback than Michael Vick, since he threw orders of magnitude more touchdown passes to NFL receivers in the years 2006-08 (when Vick was in prison, in case you don't follow pro football). Anyone who argued like this in real life would be laughed out of existence, but that CNN clown no doubt got an attaboy and a raise. When it comes to creating fantasy worlds, JRR Tolkein's got nothing on the MSM.

Second point: This spin means they must be a lot more scared of Palin than I gave them credit for. Now before y'all go slapping your foreheads and yelling "duh!", consider my point of view. My working theory is that liberalism is basically a giant cult for teenagers, with Obama as their ultimate Mr. Touchdown prom-king fantasy boyfriend. But in the great high school that is America, the head cheerleader for some reason isn't dating the varsity quarterback, and in fact very publicly calls him a loser. Thus they lash out at Palin with all the pent-up petulant fury of the Babysitter's Club.

[I know, I know, all that sounds horribly childish, especially coming from a man old enough to remember Jimmy Carter. But what else but teenage hormones explains the Obama phenomenon and BDS and its mutant, much more virulent cousin, PDS? I'm no fan of Dear Leader, obviously, and I wouldn't piss on any of his fans if they were on fire. But I don't hate them. I certainly don't spend my whole day talking about how much I hate them, or searching for new ways to hate them, or writing blog posts about the frankly creepy, nearly sexual thrill I get out of hating them. Only teenagers can muster up that kind of venom and sustain it.]

Anyway, given their implacable hatred of conservatives, you'd think the MSM would be positively giddy over the Sarah Palin phenomenon if she's even half the dunce they make her out to be. They should be begging her to run. And that's what's slowly changing my mind on her electability. I'm not quite there yet -- I have memories of my sister sustaining a bright-burning grudge for all four years of high school -- but I'm starting to come around.

philmon said...

I hope my tone didn't come across as anything like condescending, Sev. I love your take on things and you have a way with words that is both thought provoking and amusing. Which I consider a great combination, by the way.

I understand the potential pitfalls of a Palin candidacy, and I'm not even sure she really wants to run. I'm just saying if she did, I've seen enough to say she'd probably be the best president since Reagan.

Sure, she'd get all the vitriol, but I was around for Carter and for Reagan, and I remember Reagan was lambasted all through his presidency for being ... dumb, just an "actor", senile, war monger, hates the poor, loves the rich... see the script never changes.

Ever read "Bias" by Bernard Goldberg? It's pretty good -- and written, coincidentally, by a CBS insider.

Palin would need to polish off a few edges, I think, to be elected. But I think she could and would do it if she decided to run.

Severian said...


no offense taken (and thanks for the compliments,of course!) It's just that I often don't know exactly what I think about something until I start writing about it, which leads to some rambling and confusion. I generally cut about 35% off the word count whenever I edit something. So I wanted to make sure I was being heard.

One of the things I love about being a conservative -- right up there with "being able to deploy facts and reason" and "a rudimentary awareness of history," in fact -- is that we have these little debates about our candidates all the time, including very real disagreements about principles vs. expediency. The liberal hive-mind is really creepy in that regard -- whereas we ostentatiously hold our noses while voting for, say, John McCain, they're passionate partisans of their preferred candidate... until she loses the primary, and then the frontrunner becomes the awesomest most perfectest best candidate evah.

Along those same lines, I like that we can differentiate between "a good candidate" and "a good president." I agree that Palin would be a fine president, since I think the presidency boils down to 1) having a clear vision; 2) clearly articulating that vision; and 3) having the balls to stand up for that vision. Palin has all three in spades.

As a candidate, though, she's the most polarizing political figure of the last few decades. And normally I'd be ok with this, since her candidacy alone would force certain issues to the fore that couldn't help but benefit conservatism no matter who won. But right now I'm in full-on doomsday mode. Obama's presidency has been so historically awful that right now I'm for anyone -- anyone -- whose default position is something other than "bend over and grab ankle for any foreign thug who says boo." Obama must go in 2012 if we are to have any hope of corralling the nuclear-armed psychopaths of the world.

So... yeah: I want "electability." Call me a RINO if you must, but there you have it. And I'm simply not convinced that Palin is the best candidate to beat Obama, and beating Obama is pretty much all I care about.

[And yeah, I know - I preemptively denounce myself as a raaaaacist].

philmon said...

I'm exactly the same way. Writing is often my way of working things out. It's the real reason I started this blog.

And, for the record, I'd say Obama is pretty polarizing as well.

No, a RINO is someone who doesn't hold to republican ideals, but gets elected as a Republican. (note that I used the lower-case "republican" to denote a general philosophy ... of republicanism -- the idea that we are a republic and not a "democracy".)

What I'd like to avoid is electing another RINO. Republicans suck at PR. It's only the fact that a goodly number of people understand what they're attempting to "drive at" that we haven't lost the country completely already.

Severian said...

That Republicans suck at PR is a given, but it's only recently that I've begun to understand why.

Liberalism is simple. Conservatism is hard. That's pretty much what it boils down to. It's not that conservative choices are hard --though they generally are, since we're the only folks who recognize the existence of necessary evils and the law of the excluded middle. Nor is it that conservatives are naturally hard-hearted people -- we give a lot more to charity than the left. It's just that economics is hard, and ethics is hard, and history (done right) is a rigorous and demanding discipline.

For instance: why do the poor stay poor? A conservative attempting a serious answer to that question would spend a few paragraphs, if not a few pages, just defining terms, laying out the context, etc. The liberal answer fits on a bumper sticker: "they're being exploited by The Rich." And this works across the board. Why is sub-Saharan Africa such a benighted hellhole? As a conservative with a decent liberal-arts education, I'd start with "physical geography, especially the lack of deepwater ports" and go on from there. The liberal answer is "racism."

And so on. The best conservative politician is the one who can explain to the American Idol-watching public that "we should consider the tradeoffs involved in this or that program" does not automatically equal "f*ck you." But given the implacable hostility of both the entire educational and media apparatus, I suppose we should be thankful for what we can get, eh?

Severian said...

PS I agree with you that Obama is pretty polarizing, but only in the sense that he reveals the stark and unbridgeable divide between "people who have the first f*cking clue about how the real world works" and "those who do not."

If the media were even the slightest bit objective -- I'm talking 0.0000000000000001% here -- Obama would've been laughed out of the room in 2008 as a Nader-esque vanity candidate. Living as I do in a college town, I now understand the special hell of actors being forced to do scenes with Keanu Reeves, or wide receivers trying to catch passes from Alex Smith. I've spent the entirety of the last two years walking around with this poleaxed look on my face. I want to grab random passersby at the collar and yell "this guy sucks!!! Don't you see how bad this guy sucks!!! Why can't you understand how bad he sucks!!!! What the f*ck is wrong with you??!!!!"

Yeah, I guess you could call that polarizing....

philmon said...

Yes, the Liberalism is easy, Conservatism is hard explanation is one I came to as well.

Another thing that seems to be beyond them is that, for the most part in this country, "The Poor" do not stay poor. And the "rich" often do not remain "rich".

In other words, the poor are not necessarily the same people year after year, nor are the rich. They are people who find themselves temporarily in certain situations that make them so. Trying to wrap their simplistic worldview around this would make most of their li'l heads explode.

Ever pick up "A Conflict of Visions" by Thomas Sowell?

Severian said...

I haven't read "A Conflict of Visions" but I'm relatively familiar with the arguments.

This is going to sound like horrible heresy, but I'm actually not that big a fan of Sowell. His books are almost too perfect, if that makes sense. For instance, Intellectuals and Society absolutely demolishes what I like to call the academic-industrial complex. Nobody with a shred of intellectual honesty could take perfessers' arguments seriously for one single second after finishing it.

But that's just it. Perfessers don't take their own arguments seriously. Nobody is better at squashing their foolishness with reason and evidence than Sowell, but since reason and evidence have no place in the "intellectual" worldview, it doesn't matter. Just as even the best Christian apologist can't argue one into faith, the best demolition of leftist ideas ever penned won't argue them out of Socialism.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't wholeheartedly recommend all his books to anyone trying to understand conservatism -- for me, the answer to the question "why are you a conservative?" is "Thomas Sowell" -- but reading his books I rarely feel anything more than a dull anger, because I know a) no "intellectual" would ever deign to read Sowell anyway, and b) it wouldn't matter if they did.

For my money, the best explanation of modern liberalism is David Stove's two-part essay "Idealism: A Victorian Horror Story." It's actually about philosophy, but he shows to devastating effect the process by which "intellectuals" will grasp at any shred of an idea, no matter how preposterous, to have something transcendent to believe in once faith in God is gone. Stove's "Gem" argument in that essay is the cornerstone of pretty much all modern "intellectual" -- that is to say, "liberal" -- arguments.

Severian said...

PS I wholeheartedly agree with this:

In other words, the poor are not necessarily the same people year after year, nor are the rich. They are people who find themselves temporarily in certain situations that make them so. Trying to wrap their simplistic worldview around this would make most of their li'l heads explode.

I've played with the idea that what liberals really want is stasis, and that far from being "progressives" they're actually the ultimate reactionaries. They long for a medieval world where everyone has one fixed identity from birth to death (and didn't Marx himself say somewhere that the dissolution of feudal relations was the cause of "alienation"?). Try to imagine what "social justice" would look like, should we ever achieve it -- we'd all have our place, and everything we could ever do or think or say would be controlled entirely by our class/race/gender.

I sometimes think that's why liberals' greatest vitriol is reserved for black conservatives like Sowell, and why they're so anxious to deny Sarah Palin membership in the group of "real women." And that's why so much of day-to-day liberalism revolves around status markers -- how else can members of the Elect identify each other? By their arugula shall ye know them.

philmon said...

I suppose that's the biggest difference between my approach to what I read and the academic-worshipping left reads.

I read to understand, not to impress anyone with what I've read.

Sowell has a way with words that convey understanding of the concepts he tackles to anyone with a basic high school education. I think we need more Sowells precisely because -- Conservatism is Hard.

Hard core leftists will never be argued out of socialism, either by Sowell or by someone they would read for reasons not the least of which is they wouldn't read anyone who disagrees with them, or buy any conclustion contrary to their narrative.

What we need to do is to innoculate every-day Joes with arguments they can grasp and make themselves to keep them from being sold the bill of goods which is Progressivism.

Yes. Stasis is right. There is unfairness in the world, and if you don't do as we say, it'll never get fixed (never mind that it'll never get fixed anyway). Ok, that's not the best example... I was playing off the "the poor are ever the poor" and "the rich are ever the rich" meme.

Environmentalism is a good example. There is a "balance" of nature and if you don't do as we say, it'll get all screwed up. There is a "correct" earth climate, and if you don't do as we say, it'll get all screwed up. Things like that.