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Lance Mannion: the voice of reason


At one of those Senate Iraq hearings, I got to hear McCain's voice asking questions right next to a clip of Obama asking (better) questions. The voice quality difference was more than striking. Then I imagined debates: McCain next to a taller, more flexible Obama - plus those voices. Throw in a pinch of McCain's inclination to get pissy about Obama. Oh, please-oh-please-oh-please may that leak out while they are standing next to each other. I tell you, it was a beeeeeutiful thing.

And while we're on the subject of my imagination, as I was reading your entry, Lance, one of your sentences transmuted right there in front of me to this:

He plans to kill a lot of people, FRIENDS, and get a lot of people killed.

There's yer John McCain.


McCain is stuck in the mid-40s.

The GOP as a whole, including the universe of Congressional candidates, the party itself, and the sitting President, poll in the mid to upper 20 percent range.

Obama is stuck in the mid-40s.

Democrats, including the universe of Congressional candidates, as well as the party itself, poll in the mid-50 percent range.

You underestimate McCain's chances, I think. The man who outpolls his own party by twenty percent against a man who can't even capture a clear plurality of polling numbers in a party that is destined for a big win in November is a very weak candidate indeed.

Doug H. (Fausto no more)

Excellent, excellent post.

You underestimate McCain's chances, I think. The man who outpolls his own party by twenty percent against a man who can't even capture a clear plurality of polling numbers in a party that is destined for a big win in November is a very weak candidate indeed.

Or maybe the former candidate, who's all but coalesced his coalition, has hit the ceiling of his support while the other, who's still trying to come to a conclusion with his well-supported challenger, is nearer the basement.



I want to believe this is true, and from my own Upper West Side coffee shop perspective, it sure looks that way.

But then it also looked that way to me when decorated veteran, determined prosecutor and distinguished Senator John Kerry was our nominee in 2004, running against that hopelessly inarticulate frat boy who had dragged the good name of the United States through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison. And 56 million of my fellow Americans agreed with me. Problem was, 59 million did not.

I think Obama will be a more effective candidate than Kerry, in no small part because his contest with Hillary has given him invaluable experience. On the other hand, I still think McCain is a much more dangerous opponent than Bush -- he's at least a recognizable adult, instead of an arrested adolescent, and the corporate media will simply airbrush away all the true unflattering ugliness of his true adherence to 95% of the radical right-wing Republican agenda that has wrecked our country.

That's why I think the Obama team's notion that they can bank the Democratic base and go vigorously fickle independents is daft. That's fighting on ground of McCain's choosing, where he has the corporate media as crooked refs in his corner.

He's already got a reservoir of 34 million people who voted in Democratic primaries and who have little stomach for another Republican kleptocratic trainwreck administration. That's the wave he should be catching. He can worry about "transformation" and "realignment" in his re-election campaign.

Bluegrass Poet

I'm with HenryFTP and Actor 212 here, Lance. I don't think we can say either Democratic candidate will win. It's a long way to November and who in the world was a worse candidate than GWB??

Speaking as a disgruntled woman (so I have an ax to grind), I think Obama has some real fence-mending to do with the female part of what should be his base. I don't know if women defections will be enough to cost him the election but I think he ignores this problem to his peril. Dismissing it only fans the flames.

And I'm not talking women who haunt the blogosphere. I'm talking "normal" women who are quiet but who vote.

Mind you, I'm not one of those who vows never to vote for Obama. I await further developments.



The fence-mending and the reaching out are a matter of course, and if Obama doesn't do it he will lose and deserve to lose. I think he's already started, tentatively. Would have helped if he'd been a little more forceful about smacking down Father Pflegler.

Also, in politics, as in much of life, "will" is always a conditional term. We're going to have to work for this.

Henry, I think this way of looking at 2004, that Kerry should have beaten Bush, turns things on their head. Four years ago Bush was the War President and most of the country, including many Democrats believed they had to support their President during wartime. It wasn't until after Katrina and the Social Security raid that the majority caught on to what we in blogland knew all along, that he was stupid and heartless and either incompetent or criminally negligent, take your pick. In 2004, he was the one who should have won in a walk. Instead he squeaked out a win against the stiff and relatively charmless Kerry who was himself running a tone deaf and slow-witted campaign, and Bush had to cheat in Florida and steal votes in Ohio in order to do it.

As for McCain, no, he won't be a mere tackling dummy, but having the Media on his side is not going to be the big help people think it is. The Media was on his side in 2000. Didn't help him then. They were on his side going into this election season and he fell by the wayside immediately. He's only the nominee by default. Romney turned out to be a stiff. No Great Right Wing Hope appeared. And Rudy Giuliani---who let's not forget also had the Media in his corner---forgot you actually have to run for the nomination in order to get the nomination. Looking back over the last dozen years, being the Media's darling has usually been the kiss of death---Tsongas, Bradley, McCain, Giuliani, and now McCain again. (This of course is a bad omen for Obama, but I think the Media's just been infatuated with his not being Hillary and when the election heats up they'll return to their true love, McCain.) They didn't love Bush in 2000, they loved McCain, but when Bush won they didn't fall in love with him as much as they decided they hated Gore.


actor, I'm with Doug H. on this one.

lina: Lance Mannion: the voice of reason

Lance Mannion: Voice of reflexively and rabidly partisan Democrat.


Poet - No question, Obama will have some serious work to do with Hillary-supporting women. I also think Hillary will need to join in this work with inspired enthusiasm. It's not just one side's responsibility or fault.

David Parsons

I don't know if that will make any difference. Ms. Clinton isn't the one who's riding the sexism, homophobia, and Rove-style campaigning bandwagon to the convention. If the DNC can bully Ms. Clinton into doing the cleanup work after Mr. Obama's slime-throwing, I might as well just register as a Republican now and get my evil without the infusion of hypocrisy that the Democratic Party brings.

Tom Hilton

This is eminently reasonable. I'm less certain about [Democrat] winning, but I'm optimistic, and I think your reasons are sound.

Obama will have some serious work to do with Hillary-supporting women. I also think Hillary will need to join in this work with inspired enthusiasm. It's not just one side's responsibility or fault.


Lance is right on the merits, but what worries me is the skewed perspective to which I plead guilty, namely that of underestimating an opponent who in my own eyes may be unthinkable, but right here in my own household I find that I have to keep reminding my Brooke-era Massachusetts Republican spouse that McCain is not some reincarnation of Charles Goodell or Mac Mathias.

Bluegrass Poet will find that a very large cohort of men likewise feel that Obama has quite a bit of fence-mending to do. Charles Pierce put it most aptly recently when he wrote that he was perfectly happy for Obama to appeal to "the better angels of our nature", but that he expected those angels to be armed with flaming swords of justice.

There is a real difference between counting on my antipathy for the radical right-wing Republicans and getting my enthusiastic support. Hillary got my support by convincing me that she would not just depose the Republicans but lead us in extricating ourselves from the wreckage of Republican foreign and domestic policies and back into the light.

Obama has been saying a few things that give me some hope that he sees that it won't be nearly enough to declare our latest long national nightmare over if he's elected. Obama's "legitimacy" will be under assault from the corporate power structure from the get-go, just as the Carter and Clinton presidencies were under attack even before their inaugurations. He's going to need all the help he can get. I may be prejudiced but I persist in thinking that we graying boomers and our seniors have a lot more political staying power than more youthful "morning glories" -- if for no other reason but that we know only too well how much Ronald Reagan's "ideas" have so profoundly corrupted public policy and political discourse in our country.

James Wolcott

If you want a good, healthy scare, go read McCain's interview with Jeffrey Goldberg over at Goldberg's Atlantic blog, especially the parts about Iran, in particular this exchange:

JG: What do you think motivates Iran?

JM: Hatred. I don’t try to divine people’s motives. I look at their actions and what they say. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the state of their emotions. I do know what their nation’s stated purpose is, I do know they continue in the development of nuclear weapons, and I know that they continue to support terrorists who are bent on the destruction of the state of Israel. You’ll have to ask someone who engages in this psycho stuff to talk about their emotions.

Scary, too, is the passage where McCain uses the phrase "hell-bent" three times in succession to describe Iran's regional, political, and military intentions. It's real apocalyptic-cauldron rhetoric, and a major reason why I, unlike some Hillary supporters, refuse to entertain the possibility of voting for McCain out of spite or because he's more experienced than Obama, whatever.

McCain's the one who seems hell-bent.

James Wolcott

I should have phrased that "Jeffrey Goldberg's interview with McCain." Oh, well, it's Friday.


Re McCain and the whole Neocon view on Iran: Obama will have to find a way to explain the dishonesty and the inherent failure of this approach to foreign policy. McCain knows the nutty president of Iran does not run that country. But it makes for a better Fox News jingoistic sound bite, just like "I will NEVER surrender in Iraq."

Not only do I want a President Obama to meet with Achmadinijad, I want Obama to go to Tehran and walk through the streets, shop in the markets and visit the cafes. I want a President Obama to speak OVER the leadership of Iran directly to the people of Iran. He should do the same thing in Syria. He should do it in Latin America. He should do it all over.

Somehow the American public has to be reintroduced to the idea that you can have a strong national defense AND a strong diplomatic presence in the world.

However, I don't know how you sell it if it doesn't fit on a bumper sticker.

Bluegrass Poet
I also think Hillary will need to join in this work with inspired enthusiasm. It's not just one side's responsibility or fault.

In the event that Obama's the nominee, Clinton has said she'll "work her heart out" for him.

But Obama will be the one asking for votes.

Bluegrass Poet

Well, I phrased that badly. I'll plead Saturday morning.

Of course Clinton will be asking for votes for Obama.

What I meant to convey is that in the event Obama is the nominee, Clinton's most "inspired enthusiasm" won't win him the election unless he reaches out more than tepidly to his base. (Sorry to be sexist, HenryFTP.) If he is the nominee, he is the one responsible for the campaign.

McCain is scary to us but not to everybody. "Not McCain" is not enough.

And again, I'm not here vowing not to vote for Obama. I just have my doubts. But it's a long time until November, believe it or not. Time for it all to play out.

Lance, your Nixonland quote in the subsequent post is telling.

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