The presidential campaign in the US has taken off in a new direction since John McCain chose the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, to be his running mate.
The noise level has become decidedly louder and more strident. The liberal attack dogs have been unleashed and they are peeing on the lamp posts and baying at the moon. In the resulting clamor, it is difficult to hear what either presidential candidate has to say.
What we do know is that they are saying something…if only we could get past the public and media chatter.
Wretchard at The Belmont Club has an intriguing work-around for this noise problem. Though I’ve thought about such a device, I didn’t know they actually existed:
Word or tag cloud software has been used to visually represent a frequency count of terms in a given piece of text, providing a clue to the importance of certain ideas. Font sizes indicate the weight or emphasis on certain words. The word clouds of Sarah Palin and John McCain’s speeches at the convention make an interesting study in contrasts. Palin’s address is stocked with what I would call action or power words like ‘energy’, ‘oil’ and ‘reform’. She also uses the name of John McCain frequently. McCain by contrast hardly ever mentions himself in the third person. Remarkably, his speech has a lot of softer words such as ‘jobs’, ‘children’, ‘health’, ‘peace’. It is almost as if he had turned down the volume of political discourse to strike a conciliatory note. But both speeches also share common themes. One obvious pattern is a repetitive emphasis on the themes of ‘country’ and ‘America’, which are also the motifs of the campaign…
Yes, I know many of our readers were already aware of this phenomenon. Obviously it has many applications – for example, some other time I’ll have to see if much analysis has been done on individual Shakespeare plays.
At any rate, now that the sides have been drawn up, clouds and clouds of words are being generated about this campaign. In fact, both sides are generating their own weather systems. It is quite amazing to watch the tempests take shape and move across the political landscape.
Predictably, there are the torrents of abuse being heaped upon McCain for his vice-presidential choice. Palin’s very presence in this campaign seems to call forth thunderbolts of invective from the left. Amazing rage, as in this spittle-flecked comment sent to Mark Steyn by a reader he calls “Mr. Sensitive”:
This abortion prohibitionist hag won’t cut it among women with brains. And BTW she is a good example of reproduction run amok. 5 kids; 1 retard. I wonder if the b***ch ever heard of getting spayed.
As I said, this kind of attack is predictable; it is also a major symptom of irrational fear. Reasoned discourse and disagreement are one matter. We all have differing political philosophies and differing ideas about the direction in which we wish to see our government move. But political beliefs, words, and actions that arise from this kind of apprehension begin in whatever dark part of the human psyche that remains primitive and terrified. Reasonable people don’t think or talk like that.
There is another kind of anger on the left. It began manifesting itself during the Democrat primary, as it became increasingly obvious that the mainstream media was in the tank for Obama. Hillary, formerly the Golden Girl, became a shadow boxer in this event. You could fairly say – especially if you were a Hillary fan – that the machinations for Obama’s ascendancy began with the DNC (for our European readers, the Democrat National Committee, chaired by Howard “Screaming” Dean, former governor of Vermont, and very former presidential candidate).
If you go to that site, as I just did, you will notice that the Dems are on the defensive. Their headline concerns the Republican Convention, which is not a position of strength. Instead of a picture of Obama leading us all to hope, they have a picture of McCain on the banner story. Very strange. However, it does line up with what I’ve been reading, i.e., that the Dems are on the defensive now. Certainly their main page indicates that assertion. Even as they bad-mouth McCain they are leading from weakness, from fear. It will drive people away.
But I digress. I want to discuss the cold anger of those who believe that Obama stole this primary. I can’t remember the last time a primary left either party in the disarray we’re witnessing right now. The best example of this phenomenon is PUMA, and PUMA is fascinating indeed.
Again, for our European readers, an explanation: P.U.M.A. stands for “Party Unity My Ass”. It is the defiant response of those who are positive that Hillary was cheated this time around. But PUMAs are not frothing at the mouth. If anything, they are coldly rational. And they have a plan to destroy Obama for what he did. They may succeed.
As P.U.M.As we support Hillary Clinton and believe if the Democratic Party’s primary process was a free and fair contest she would have won the nomination. Our support for Hillary has nothing to do with the fact that she is female.
We support Hillary because we think she is the best candidate for President the Democratic Party produced in the 2008 electoral cycle. We do not support Obama because we feel that not only did he steal the election, but that he is also an empty suit of the highest order, a man who not only lacks experience, but also lacks integrity.
He talks the talk, but cannot and does not walk the walk. Incidentally, Obama’s ineptitude and character flaws have nothing to do with his race, whether he is white, black, green or purple, he would still be inept and untrustworthy.
Did gender play a role in denying Hillary a fair shot, yes it did. Is that fair? It isn’t, but life isn’t fair either. It is all about choices we make. The DNC and Obama chose to give the election to Obama, and PUMAs have chosen NOT to recognize Obama’s electoral viability and have also chosen to work against him.
Only time will tell if we stand on the right side or wrong side of history. One thing is clear though, and that is never again would the Democratic Party take those who vote in its primaries for granted.
The comment section response (included in the link above) is vintage vitriol. As coolly angry as the PUMAs are, their opponents are heatedly rageful. The comment section on this post surprised me. I expected a discussion amongst like-minded PUMAs about their disappointment, but instead it is mainly frenzied indignation at the nerve of this group of disaffected Hillary supporters to publicly “diss” Obama. The opponents of the PUMAs are afraid, and well they should be. Hillary’s people deserve respect simply for the force of their loyalty, which is of much longer duration than that of Obama’s followers.
Obama could have saved himself from the wrath of the PUMAs had he chosen Hillary as his vice president. Instead, he went for a very limited, mediocre running mate. Joe Biden lost his first bid for the presidency when his blatant plagiarism of a speech by British Labour politician Neil Kinnock was revealed. In a world where integrity operated, that should have finished Biden’s career, period. But here he is, still flourishing as the senior senator from Delaware.
Here is what Thomas Lifson had to say about Biden’s weakness. Evidently, he is a repeat offender:
Political insiders have long known about Joe Biden getting caught plagiarizing almost word-for-word a speech given by British Labour politician Neil Kinnock. In fact, that killed his 1988 presidential campaign.
But a more serious plagiarism charge has been out there even longer – that he plagiarized in law school. That is something that can get you thrown out if proven…
I didn’t know about the incident in law school, but this problem does seem to be a characterological flaw for Mr. Biden. The one discovered in 1988 made quite an impression on me; it remained a source of wonder that he kept getting re-elected to the Senate despite this flaw. What especially struck me was the bullying manner he used in his attacks on any Republican who had the misfortune to appear before the various committees Biden served on over the years. The man has no shame and no sense of proportion.
And this is the person that Obama chose as his running mate. No wonder the PUMAs are mad. Fighting mad. Some would say suicidally mad because they want one thing: Obama’s defeat in November.
PUMA is a well-organized group which thinks strategically. Though they haven’t said so, I believe their battle plan goes something like this: first, a defeat for Obama in 2008. Make the Dems feel the full press of their fury. Then, in 2009 they begin planning for Palin’s defeat.
Here is my guess at the broad outline of their strategy –
- It is very likely that John McCain will not run for a second term. At least that’s what I’ve heard here and there. People question his age, his injuries, etc., and think he will give up after one term. This may or may not be correct, but it is the current wisdom.
- Thus, barring obvious incompetence, Palin, as the vice president, will be the natural choice for the Republican presidential candidate in 2012.
- Obama will be toast when the PUMAs are done with him in this election cycle. Thus, the only viable candidate for the Dems will be Hillary. And the PUMAs have those four years to plan their strategy and to put the fear of God into the DNC. They will not permit their candidate to be overlooked next time around.
- 2012 will feature a face-off between Hillary and Palin. As far as the PUMAs are concerned, it will be no contest since they see Hillary as having more gravitas than Alaska’s governor, whom they consider to be an upstart who stands for every issue they despise.
Therefore, look for strong advocacy of Sarah Palin by the PUMAs for this election. Look for lukewarm endorsements of Obama by Hillary.
Even now, there are murmurings of a landslide for McCain. I think the contest will be more bitterly fought than that, and the advantage more evenly shared once the bloom is off the surprise of Palin’s candidacy.
However, this move by the Republicans has thrown everything off balance. To illustrate that, look at one of the commenters on the PUMA site above. This person does not compare Obama and McCain. Instead, in a very long screed, the contrast is between Obama and Palin.
McCain’s choice of Palin as his running mate has thrown a real spanner in the works. Obama is all about change – watch his campaign do some drastic changing as it tries to work its way back to an advantage it has lost…lost to Palin.
NOTE: I have deliberately withheld any opinion of Palin. There’s enough of that to go around already and you can read about it on most American websites that deal with politics. What I was – and am – interested in is the Palin effect in this election. In other words it is the process of the campaign, not its contents, that bears close observation.
I wonder if Obama plays chess? If he wants to stay on his feet, he’s going to need to stay several steps ahead in this game. It may be that his queen is already irrevocably compromised.
Time will tell.