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18 August 2008


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I think you are missing the point of Obama's appearance among and approach to that audience.

McCain is going to win that demographic (conservative Christians). That was never in doubt.

Obama is not appearing there to win the demographic, but to reduce McCain's margin among voters traditionally ceded completely by Democrats.

So Obama took the smart approach: Adopt a tone and a message designed to woo a small portion of the audience which normally does not go to Democrats.

Elections in our era are a matter of margins. Obama's people understand that. When commenters say that McCain "won" the debate, they miss the point. Obama's people have proved that they are extremely savvy strategists, focused on winning the most delegates.

This event fits within that existing approach and strategy.

William R. Cumming

As the saying goes sometimes quiet waters run deep. So was Ike. He was deeply concerned that the two party system in the US had been eroded by the four election wins by FDR and Truman's 1948 win. He decided in part on the Republicans to provide a corrective balance, and historically of course he could not have foreseen that most of the rest of the 20th Century would be dominated by Republican victories. Caret, but for the Nixon pardon by Ford, and Clinton, but for Ross Perot, would not have held the highest office. Yet thinking on his feet was not necessarily a skill of IKE. It is a rather rare and unusual skill, witness the lack of skilled trial lawyers. But what is now really needed in the US is thoughtful perhaps even visionary decisionmakeing for the long term. If either party spends the next 4 years looking back and trying to correct past wrongs and not focus on the future, the Shining City on A Hill may be doomed. Wall street has again conclusively demonstrated where short term thinking leads us. So does Putin and Russia. China may be the only real long term player internationally. WOW! If that is the case then perhaps McCain and Obama can detail there China policy in both short term and looking 20-30 years down the road. Yes, key to the 2008 election is the VISION THING. Will McCain sink the NAVY? Doubtful. Will Obama pull a Clinton and be so defensive about his lack of military and national security experience that he puts in trust in the usual suspects of the Democratic national security establishment roster that blew the Clinton years and the real end of coldwar opportunities including getting the military/Industrial/Academic complex devoted to militarism back under full civilian control. Corporations without direct or indirect federal subsidies are rare. Same goes for many of the large Academic complexes. Let's leave the non-thinking THINK TANKS for later.


" 'The more we know about the
audience the more accurately my computer program can produce the key words and phrases. They are woven into a speech-'

'Can they? Will they make sense?'

'That's up to the ingenuity of the speech writer, but it doesn't really matter. If you're pounding a drum, you might get the audience stirred up until their feet and hearts are pounding with it; till they reach ignition point.' "

From Ignition Point!, a short story by Isaac Asimov from 1981. This post brought that story to mind.

Nancy K

My husband, who grew up in Europe and Israel, is a professor and speaks several languages, agrees with you that McCain will win, because Obama is too intelligent.
How sad is that. America would rather have a president who speaks in 5 word sound bites and will keep us living in constant fear of the others.
I hope you and my husband are wrong. I hope that in the voting booth Americans will start thinking that maybe it takes more than a Rovian trained monkey to lead this country. Not that I think McCain is a trained monkey, I'm sure he is both honorable and fairly intelligent but he has drunk the kool aid.



hit 'Post' instead of 'Preview'

Anyway, the story is about a "mob psychologist" trying to sell his crowd-manipulation services to the campaign manger of a handsome, statesman-looking empty suit who hasn't a hope in hell of winning office.


Actually, Adlai Stevenson lost three times, if you count his primary loss to Kennedy in 1960. And that third loss was one "elite" against another. Had Stevenson run against Nixon in 1960, what would have been the result? Scary thought considering how close that race ended up. In many ways, Adlai was the last Democrat to run after a loss. Now losers are put out to pasture in the party, McCain showing that losers in the Republican party can keep on keeping on for ever.

David Habakkuk

As an Englishman who has never lived in the United States, I cannot judge. But the argument sounds horribly plausible. A difference of course is that I would have preferred Eisenhower to Stevenson -- while the thought of McCain fills me with dread.

I do find myself thinking back to a saying used by Czeslaw Milosz to preface his classic anti-communist polemic The Captive Mind. Attributed to 'an old of Jew of Galicia', it runs as follows:

'When someone is honestly 55% right, that's very good and there's no use wrangling. And if someone is 60% right, it's wonderful, it's great luck, and let him thank God. But what's to be said about 75% right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100% right? Whoever says he's 100% right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of rascal.'

Mad Dogs

"I continue to think that McCain will win."

You're scaring me Pat! *g*

I'll agree that the polls are narrowing and more than a few on the Democratic side are wondering just when Obama is going to take the gloves off. Maybe never? Yikes!

Obama wasn't my 1st choice, nor even my 2nd choice, so I'm not one of those Obama-zombies who believes in the Tooth Fairy, but Jiminy Crickets, we cannot afford another 4 years of McSame.


"He (McCain) spoke to the audience, not to the host. He spoke in simplistic terms of complex issues."
This is something Obama better start doing (speaking to the audience) unless he wants to lose.
As for Sally "I want to believe that our biggest enemy is radical Islamist terrorists. I want to be part of a world that doesn't have to raise taxes."
"I want to live in a world where Gen. David Petraeus and Meg Whitman, former chief executive of eBay, are the wisest people I know,…"
"By the time McCain finished his interview…I was curled up in a fetal position in my chair, wrapped in a mohair throw, practically sucking my thumb.""

This is the quality of reporting from the Washington Post? Pat, I can only think of the line about the Franciscan priest who left California in your post "McCain speaks in Slogans." "When asked why, he said that his Mercedes had been getting in the way of his ability to follow Jesus."
Seems like there are plenty of Americans suffering from the same problem; but are unwilling to look inside themselves.


McCain comes off as an angry old man - indeed, one who might be paranoid. If the liberal members of the Supreme Court are "evil", he certainly is not ready to lead one-half of the nation.

His disdain for Obama is palatable; it's the same attitude fighter pilots have for groundpounders. One top of that, Obama is a black guy: how dare him disagree with me! A lot of people can read the code from the mouth of a 71 year old white guy. (I'm 71 and have heard patronizing words for years.)

McCain with his finger on the trigger is frightening. The best reason for NOT electing him: we cannot afford him and his kind.


Col. Lang:

'Morning in America' again? God save us.

I can only hope that McCain's growing image as someone who, like Reagan, will save us by showering us with reassuring slogans will become so irrelevant to the vicious reality facing many Americans and the world that he will be defeated.

Unfortunately, however, the disastrous consequences of Reagan's irrational optimism may not yet be far enough behind us nor created enough misery for that to work.

Still, if Obama can focus enough of us on how best to cope with the realities of the world even Quinn acknowledges that we live in . . . . .


So he was an elitist despite having a hole in the sole of his shoe?

I thought Eisenhower won because Americans were tired of the (Democratic-led) Korean war and Ike said he would end it, and being a WWII hero gave that promise a lot of credibility.

Cold War Zoomie

I'm getting burned out and keep telling myself that my life will carry on the same regardless of who occupies the White House.

Time for Marshmallows and Puppie Dogs again!

Awwww. That feels better.


John McCain will win only if the media continues to be in the tank for John McCain (I realize that he is currently complaining that the tank is not deep enough).

If they will not expose him for who he really is (someone who plays the POW card at every turn; believes that he can defeat Evil although the Bible specifically leaves that to the Lord; appears to make up POW stories based on books he has read; lies about his opponent's positions constantly --although the media doesn't seem to question him on that; and believes that books smearing his opponent are funny, yet takes offense about any and everything said about him)we are in deep trouble.

For you to state that you'd rather live in John McCain's world is frightening indeed.

Patrick Lang


English is not your native language?

You can not distinguish between prediction and hope? pl


mccain has personal appeal
and he knows how to sing jingoism

it is his strength and he has worked hard to refine and develop it over the years

rev rick as it turns out gave questions in advance (admits to some, but was it all) and he did not put mccain in a "cone of silence" (rev's words)

did this give the admiral's son an edge?

don't know

he came across well sitting with the rev providing stump speech answers to questions

obama came across well thoughtfully answering the rev's questions

i was impressed with how differently each of them approached the questions

i personally thought mccain did not answer the questions so much as play riff's from his stump speeches

i don't think your analogy to eisenhower and stephenson fits

mcain is career military but he is not the icon that ike was

obama is an intellectual but he has a carisma and political savy that stephenson lacked

a slight transfression

my three year old grandson is in love with the name barrack obama

he thinks he is a star wars character

every time he sees a tv commercial or sees a campaign poster he exclaims "there he is, back obama!"

Patrick Lang


I was not interested in commenting on Ike. I agree there is little that he and McCain have in common.

On the other hand I think that Obama and Stevenson have in common an elevated and intellectual air which many people resent and mistrust in the United States.

On top of that, Paul is right. Obama is black and there are still people in this country who will not vote for a black man. pl


Col, I agree Obama was very bad during Saddleback because he tried to make a speech rather than talk to the audience.

I also agree McCain was better during the event because he could communicate in sound bites.

However, Obama was coming off a vacation in Hawaii while McCain has been in the limelight for the past week.

Why Obama scheduled a vacation at this time is beyond my understanding.

The real race begins Thursday when as expected Obama will pick his VP.

Just hope Mr. Bayh or Mr. Kaine are good attack dogs because Obama refuses to get his hands dirty.

"“Ignorance is bold and knowledge reserved.” - Thucydides

P.S. Looks like Bayh:


Patrick Lang


No. I thought Obama did very well in the "forum." Unfortunately, not enough of the audience thought that. pl

Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA

Pat, I'm thinking McCain may have a temper-engendered "Macaca Moment", probably in October when the pressure gets to him. His normal speaking voice has a tone that conveys barely controlled anger.

We'll see.

Clifford Kiracofe

McCain may well win thus consigning our republic to a dark and uncertain future. The public would have a chance in 2010 to register disapproval and again in 2012 but the world will have moved on.

McCain will continue Bushism-Neoconism in foreign policy, as his staff choices and policy statements indicate, thereby further weakening and isolating the United States. More reckless crusades and unnecessary military adventures would keep the blood and treasure meter running. The New Cold War against Russia would be ramped up and the "strategic alliance" with Israel expanded. Within the next five to ten years, the US could find itself in something of a corner with Russia-China-Japan tightening their relations and the EU beginning to tilt away from the US and its delusional "leadership."

The Russian perspective is quite well reported on RussiaToday (Novosti) streamed television programming over the Internet. Spending a few hours watching the news shows in English is a useful exercise, IMO. Note the very British accents of the lead newscasters/presenters. Hit the "Online" button at

G Green

I really hope that Obama wins. It will be very disappointing if McCain does. Please vote for Obama. Visit WHYOBAMA08.ORG!!


McCain as our Kaiser Wilhelm II?

Do you get the feeling that we will be nostalgic for Dubya's "nuance" if McCain wins.

BTW, we are NOT all Georgians now.

Patrick Lang


Intelligence organizations do not advocate policy. It is not their role. pl

Sven Ortmann

A majority of Europeans didn't really like the choice of GWB over Gore.
Few Europeans understood how GWB could be re-elected over Kerry.
If the Americans really elect McCain (again Republican and listening to NeoCon whisperers as it seems), it severe the close relationship between Europe and the USA, right to the breaking point.

It's about patience. Patience is running out.
Americans have the right to elect whomever they want, but Europeans have the right to quit friendship and leave the alliance.

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