Ask the panel

Pretend you’re on MSNBC or something:

Can the Republicans compete on the national stage without their quadrennial festival of hate? Is the narrowness of Obama’s lead in national polling something to worry about at this point, or will it shake out in a few weeks when people start really paying attention to the race? Is everything Biden says in the veep debate going to come across as a meanspirited attack on women/Down syndrome babies/pregnant teenagers/our boys in Iraq/the leechesupstanding citizens of Alaska?

37 responses to “Ask the panel”

  1. Is the narrowness of Obama’s lead in national polling something to worry about at this point

    Let’s just agree on a general rule going into the election season: For any question of the form “Is X something to worry about?” An answer of the form “Oh my God! Yikes! Yes! worry worry worry worry…” is appropriate.

  2. Dave says:

    With that attitude, Modesto, you’re not going to be invited back on the panel. What could we ever talk about?

  3. How worried we all are?

  4. Patent medicines to restore frayed fingernails?

  5. LP says:

    As the Palin pick showed, it’s impossible to predict anything in this campaign season. So many things could happen between now and election day, it’s still premature to make any judgments about who will win. I do think McCain has seriously undercut his own message and looks foolishly un-Presidential with his pick. Hopefully that will sway some of these undecideds.

    On the other hand, if the drumbeat against Palin intensifies and she steps down, citing pressure on her family, will that backfire against the Dems? There are so many variables at work now… what a bizarre pick.

  6. Dave says:

    Tim, have you stopped hyperventilating about Palin yet?

  7. chad says:

    I think Pain was a dumb move and really cuts his chances. not that I was voting for him anyway

  8. Anyone notice the letter to the NY Times today from Joachin Etcheverry of W. Palm Beach, claiming to be a Democrat who is voting for McCain on the strength of the Palin pick? Looks kind of astroturfy to me.

  9. Rogan says:

    The Palin pick raises a number of questions in my mind:
    1. Is the Republican bench really so shallow that Palin was McCain’s best choice? Or is McCain so isolated and unpopular within his own party that the real heavies didn’t want to compromise their own political ambitions by stepping up for this ticket?
    2. The Palin pick is a huge gamble on so many levels. In what other ways is McCain willing to gamble with the country’s future?
    3. As Bob ‘I don’t think tobacco is addictive’ Dole was to that industry, so John ‘I see the light! We need to drill ANWR’ McCain is to big oil. Doesn’t the Palin pick make this more apparent?
    4. Experience is one thing, and Ideas/intelligence are another. Obama won the nomination of his party based more on the strength of his ideas and leadership than on his executive experience. Some conservatives are trying to use Palin to highlight this as one of Obama’s potential weaknesses, but lets take a look at the other side of the coin — what are Palin’s ideas, and what has she done to demonstrate real leadership?
    5. Do we really want someone’s Sunday School teacher with her finger on the button? I always took some comfort in the belief that Bush’s faith is mostly public posturing for the benefit of his constituency, but Ms. Palin is the real deal. Personally I rather not have someone as president who might take upon herself the duty of fulfilling the prophesies in the Book of Revelations.
    6. Palin might be smart, but is she knowledgeable? How well will she hold up when asked by the media questions that require deep knowledge of American history, government, its workings, foreign affairs, the economy, and international diplomacy? Is it reasonable to expect the media to really probe her about these issues? Or will they keep things predictably superficial?

  10. Dave says:

    “Authenticity is the most important characteristic for someone seeking public office,” said Nick Ayers, executive director of the Republican Governors Association. “Any news that comes out about her is not going to hurt her because it reinforces the point that she is authentically one of us.”

    Remember: If you can fake authenticity, you’ve got it made.

  11. TGW Lurker says:

    Anyone with liberal leanings (read: the vast majority of those present here) is going to find fault with any selection from John McCain, just as the “right” will condemn Joe Biden for his failings and Barack Obama for his inexperience. At least we’re consistent in our disposition and character. I find Sarah Palin to be a compelling addition to this season’s melodrama.

  12. Dave says:

    To Rogan’s (1): McCain had very few choices. Basically, Mittens or Pawlenty, both boring. Rove (wisely) wouldn’t let him choose Lieberman. So he reacted the same way my grandfather did when the family tried to take away his driver’s license: a spur-of-the-moment choice to show he’s still in charge, dammit.

    And to Rogan’s (6): A report in a Seattle paper said Palin skipped most of the Alaska gubernatorial debates, and when she did show up she brought a stack of index cards color-coded by subject. This struck people as bizarre, and we’ll see how it flies when she faces Biden.

  13. “Any news that comes out about her is not going to hurt her because it reinforces the point that she is authentically one of us.”

    This sort of mirrors what I was thinking this morning when I read about her daughter being pregnant. It’s sort of complex because I’m simultaneously thinking “Right on, a scandal for the Republican ticket!” and “Well that’s a pretty normal thing, no reason that should cause a scandal” and, “Aw shit, this is another point of identification between middle America and the Republican ticket.” Not sure which way my head is screwed on currently. I dug Roy’s reaction.

  14. Tim says:

    In re #6, I think you should ask Jeremy, whose shirtfront I grasped last night in hysteria as I tried to impart to him just how certain it is that Palin is *not* Trig’s mother. Yes, I have drunk the Kool-Aid on that one; don’t even try to tell me I’m wrong until all the proper documentation shows up. (I’m of the belief that Bristol is pregnant with her second child, not five full months along (what a convenient number, btw). Don’t ask me for proof; I’m a wingnut, after all.)

    Sorry, but my money is on a McCain win now, unless something verifiable comes out about the kid switcheroo, something that qualifies as a felony (forging hospital documents or tampering with the birth certificate) _or_, _or_, _or_, . . . unless Dems can use Palin’s nomination actually to GET OUT THE VOTE, for reals. I’m talkin’ *everybody*, a *movement*, people, I mean . . . 50 people walkin’ in, singin’ a bar of “Alice’s Restaurant” and walkin’ out. And then, we’re gonna *know* that it’s a movement!

  15. Tim says:

    P.S. As to the debates, they’ll fix Palin up with one of those tiny earpieces, GWB-style. Rove will be whispering everything she needs to say.

  16. lane says:

    what a narrative . . . whew!

  17. Marleyfan says:

    A USA Today-Gallup poll said Obama had garnered 50 percent, compared to 43 percent for McCain. While a new CBS/New York Times poll put Obama and his vice presidential pick Joseph Biden up 48 percent to 40 percent, ahead of the November 4 election.

  18. Rogan says:

    If Gore v. Bush was close when the country was suffering serious Clinton fatigue, and ifKerry v. Bush was close when the country was in the middle of the sitting president’s war, it is hard to imagine that this won’t be the Democrats’ year.

    Obama inspires the base, and McCain doesn’t. The economy is tanking, people are losing their homes, the health care fiasco has reached a tipping point, and the Republicans have failed at their no. 1 agenda of shrinking government and spending.

    Tim, how can you be so nervous?

  19. trixie says:

    i totally understand how freaked out tim is.
    i feel the same way.
    i was dumbstruck when the GOP “won” the last two elections- especially 2004 when i thought we couldn’t possibly be so lame as a country to want that numbskull to remain in the white house. but we were, and he did.
    since my worst fears have been realized for the past 8 years, i have no reason to believe that they won’t continue to be realized. and holy smokes, what a nightmare this country could become. the thought of palin as president is truly horrifying.
    in other news, i hear GWB is looking for a ghostwriter…parrish?

  20. Tim says:

    Tim, how can you be so nervous?
    Two words: electoral college.

    I have no doubt that Obama will win massively in CA, NY, IL, and many other sure-fire blue states. He may very well win the popular vote by miles. However, McC., with the choice of Palin, has struck a huge blow towards winning the heartland states that may go either way: Ohio, Iowa, and Missouri. Energizing the Christian base, too, as done a great deal to secure Florida.

    If he takes those four, which I think he will, four other states will be huge: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. They trend blue, but barely. If McC. can pick up just one of them, he wins. It sounds really dumb, but that hockey is Palin’s sport and her husband snowmobiles may do a lot for McC.’s turnout in MN, MI, and WI. Hockey and snowmobiling, while on the fringe in many areas, are huge in those states, and seeing themselves in a candidate can really inspire people to vote. Srsly.

  21. Rogan says:

    20. Palin will win over a few votes because of her hobbies, and she will lose a few votes because she is a light-weight. Remember how Republican reacted to the SC pick of Harriet Meyer? I think Palin will elicit a similar response. Her net effect will not help McCain.

    Obama is competing in all kinds of traditional Republican strongholds: Montana, Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, the Dakotas, and Colorado. Think of it this way — lets start off with the electoral map from 2004, with Bush at 286 electoral votes vs. Kerry’s 251. A lot has changed since that time to favor Dem candidates, so how many states would have to switch in order to win? We need a net change of 18 electoral points to swing to the dems.

    This means that McCain CAN’T lose any of the big close states from 2004: Florida and Ohio. Both are tossups this year.

    Lets assume the worst with Florida and Ohio. Where else can Obama make up the points?

    The NEW South:
    How about Virginia (13) + New Mexico (5) = 18 pts?

    The Cowboy Slide:
    How about Colorado (9) + Montana (3) + North Dakota (3) + Nevada (5)

    I predict he will pick up Montana, and Brian Schweitzer will be made head of the DOE, Tim, DON’T WORRY so much. Things look pretty good.

  22. Rogan says:

    Hicks Defeat Pricks:
    Colorado (9) + Virginia (13)

  23. Rogan says:

    … and sin no more:
    Florida (27)

  24. Dave says:

    Will you be available to tape our Sunday show, Rogan? We’ll send a limo for you. Thanks a million.

  25. lane says:

    dave you ignorant slut.

  26. LP says:

    T-Wag! You must breathe! Take a deep breath! Palin faking that she’s pregnant would have required her to wear a convincing “pregnancy belly” for six weeks, day in and day out. She would have had to engineer a coverup among numerous hospital employees, not all of whom could be counted on to be her political allies. She would have had to keep her daughter in seclusion for months while the girl’s belly grew. Why has no one come forward to say they saw her daughter when pregnant? Did they lock her in a dungeon?

    As a general rule, most suspected conspiracies are far too complicated to actually pull off. Why would hospital employees put their careers in jeopardy to help the governor lie? Why has no one come forward to say “I saw Gov. Palin’s daughter, nine months pregnant, go into the hospital the day Trig was born”? Because it probably didn’t happen that way. The simplest explanation is usually the correct one.

    That said, do I think it’s impossible that her daughter is the mother? No. It is certainly possible. But I do think it’s really unlikely. I think it’s more likely that the governor actually boarded that plane after her amniotic fluid began leaking, endangering the baby’s life and risking a mid-air incident. I think she’s careless and selfish. But not a master organizer of such a complicated conspiracy to carry out.

  27. LP says:

    I also agree with Rogan in 21: The Palin pick will definitely garner McCain more votes. It will also lose him more votes. I don’t believe the net effect will be the tipping point of support TIm predicts. Yes, many Americans are just that simplistic in their reasoning. But many are not.

    Also, this story is just beginning. Three days ago, we’d never heard of Sarah Palin. Who knows what news tomorrow will bring? I’m half convinced they’ll convince her to step aside “for the good of her family” before tomorrow night’s scheduled speeches.

  28. Dave says:

    One thing that’s become pretty clear today is that the Palin pick weakened McCain with his true base: the media. It too obviously crossed the line from mavericky to reckless. Now the press has fallen out of love, and that’s the real damage Palin will do to McCain’s candidacy. His Hail Mary play has already failed.

  29. Tim says:

    I’ve contracted a cold by weakening my immune system with expending so much energy on this. By my wife’s orders, I cannot speak or write about she-who-must-not-be-named for at least 24 hours. And so to bed.

    P.S. Parrish, there are many photos of s-w-m-n-b-n when she was supposedly 5-7 mos. pregnant that in no way look like she is. Older women who are pregnant for the 5th time get very big, very early. Her own staff said they were shocked to hear the news, because she in no way looked “with child”. And that’s the last thing after the last thing that I have to say on this until the next thing I say on it. Aaand scene.

  30. LP says:

    I shall forever after refer to s-w-m-n-b-n as “Swim Nubbin,” which sounds like an exotic Alaskan sea mammal. One that she would probably shoot with an air rifle. Or an AK-47. Of which the Founding Fathers approved.

  31. Jenomnibus says:


  32. ruben says:

    Tim, let’s you and I hang out. I want you to be my guru on all things related to older women and what happens to their bodies after multiple pregnancies. My particular fetish is usually looked upon with contempt but it sounds like you understand me…

    Dave, great point on McCain screwing himself with the media. Hopefully this will prove his undoing in the long run, if reporters stop sitting on all of the bullshit that he’s said and done over the last 30 years (hint: anyone want to talk a wee bit more about the first Mrs. McCain?) or at least stop spinning his limitations like they’re maverick-like virtues I think the Palin pick may yield us more concerned independents than kool-aid drinkiing evangelicals (who I don’t believe were really going to “stay home” anyway after being scared at the last minute with dire visions of Obama’s Supreme Court nominations).

    Seriously, Tim, give me a call. No one should muzzle a conspiracy theorist in full flight.

  33. Rogan says:

    I keep a latex pregnancy bump in the closet, right next to my AK-47 and MRE’s, just for occasions like these. I call it my ‘Emergency Preparedness Kit.’

  34. LT says:

    wow, i’m trying to remain non-partisan and all, but the republican national convention is…boring. and scarily caucasian.

  35. Dave says:

    33 makes this whole thread worth it.

  36. autumn says:

    I shall forever after refer to s-w-m-n-b-n as “Swim Nubbin,” which sounds like an exotic Alaskan sea mammal. One that she would probably shoot with an air rifle. Or an AK-47. Of which the Founding Fathers approved.

    I love you LP. Funniest thing I heard all day.

  37. Jeez Louise. The top headline at the NY Times today is, “Bush and Lieberman Hail McCain as a Leader”. What kind of fucked-up country do I live in.

    Be sure to read the second story on the front page — lays out pretty clearly where Palin is coming from. It’s a little surprising, and hopeful-making, to see it on the front page of the Times.