Well, like everyone else I’m watching the weekend unfold, and grasping at straws showing McCain supposedly surging. I can’t tell. But there are two things to keep your eyes on as the votes are counted Tuesday night. The prospective election of Obama is touted as a sign of the end of the Age of Reagan (Patent Pending), and the beginning of the Europeanization of America. Maybe. But watch Massachusetts, where a ballot measure to repeal the state income tax might pass, and California where Proposition 8 would repeal gay marriage. Polls show both are going to be close calls.
If these two measures pass--in the two most liberal states in the nation--it will be a sign that the country is still a cognitively dissonant, center-right nation. And that will be a problem for Obama.
I still doubt it, which is different from not wanting it. Evidence: McCain’s only down 4 in PA according Rasmussen, and he’s even closed to 8 in the ALLENTOWN MORNING CALL poll. And of course there’s the really good day on Zogby. A convoluted theory is that the early voters are disproportionally those who would have voted for Obama no matter what. The doubtful and axious have hung back and may be breaking toward Mac, at least some. We’ll see. Other good news: The half-hour network Obama show did no good, and commercials at this point are clearly are waste of (his huge amount of) of money. Realistic news: It’s hard to see how the really huge turnout--given the enthusiasm gap--benefits McCain. But as I said before, I really have nothing new to say about the election, except that Mac should have kept the focus on the evildoing of the all-Democratic government (that is, kept the focus on what’s most obviously true).
So what are we to make of Obama’s proposal for a "civilian national security force" ? Is this like Jefferson’s First Inaugural reference to a united people being the best security of the new nation? Or is this a praetorian guard for Obama, presumably recruited from the inner cities? The former possibility makes no sense given what Obama says about funding it.
I gotta admit there’s little more to say. It’s too late to argue the case for McCain with any effectiveness to those not already on board. The polls just don’t look good, but Obama’s ground game does. He’s now pouring money into Georgia, probably more to influence the senate race than to get a few more electoral votes. I don’t know for sure that Obama will win, but I’m not going to be making any predictions, given that I’ve stopped betting or choosing against teams I really want to win. Obama has run a fine campaign, and McCain, it seems to me, has given us his best. It’s not some meltdown of the "conservative movement." The Republicans have not proven to be particularly competent for a while when it comes to governing, and this year competence gap has been pretty wide when it comes to campaigning. It goes without saying we have to honor the spirit of McCain’s "nothing is inevitable" stump speech by doing what we can to affect the outcome. Never give up, as Mac says.
To be fair or at least balanced, here are ten reasons John Podhoretz thought up that McCain might still win. They aren’t really backed up with much data, as John admits.
UPDATE: Here’s some data-based encouraging news: McCain is actually one point up in Zogby’s daily poll yesterday. I discovered that after going through all the very discouraging polls of those who’ve already voted, especially in Georgia. So maybe there’s still hope.
From the Tax Foundation:
But a new study on inequality by researchers at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris reveals that when it comes to household taxes (income taxes and employee social security contributions) the U.S. "has the most progressive tax system and collects the largest share of taxes from the richest 10% of the population." ... The table also shows that the U.S. collects more household tax revenue from the top 10 percent of households than any other country and extracts the most from that income group relative to their share of the nation’s income.
Obama’s speeches and books make liberal use of Lincoln and the Declaration of Independence, but in far different ways than they intended. What isn’t appreciated is how Obama’s rhetoric fits perfectly his political strategy and tactics.
Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod’s "bookshelves are filled with Abe Lincoln biographies, but what he says he admires about Lincoln isn’t just his philosophy but his political effectiveness, the Great Emancipator’s secret shiv."
Not just conservatives will repeatedly bleed from that "secret shiv" wielded by an Obama Administration. Moreover, his campaign skillfully displayed time after time neo-Lincolnian "political effectiveness"--e.g., turning Obama negatives into formidable political plusses and transforming the most appealing features of the American political tradition into a post-modern willfulness that reinforces the Administrative State and undermines true liberty.
Thus, Obama’s frequent recourse to the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln is not just a sign of self-flattery but of grand ambition, to remake America, in the name of a new, new birth of freedom.
In this, does Obama not recall Lincoln’s warning, issued short of his 29th birthday:
Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. It sees no distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen. Is it unreasonable then to expect, that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time, spring up among us? And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.
Distinction will be his paramount object; and although he would as willingly, perhaps more so, acquire it by doing good as harm; yet, that opportunity being past, and nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of pulling down.
So to such an ambitious type a terrorist William Ayers blowing up some buildings is child’s play, beneath contempt; black liberation theology is mere recreation; international capitulation follows naturally from nationalism’s exhaustion. Obama is hunting bigger game: A whole mentality, expressed succinctly as Reaganism but more broadly as the American political tradition, is what must be overthrown--in the name of the Declaration of Independence. Obama replaces Lincoln as its great interpreter.
The mantra of the Barack Obama campaign--when it isn’t simply "Hope" or "Change"--has been "Yes We Can!" In a country built on "can do" attitudes stretching all the way back to Benjamin Franklin (or earlier), such an appeal gets to the center of the American heart. It has served Obama well, but does he really understand it in the same sense that most Americans understand it? Or is Obama’s politics of "can" really a politics of "can’t"? As Terrence O. Moore ably demonstrates, understanding the real import of "Yes We Can!" requires a serious examination of just who Obama means when he says, "We." His conclusion? "We" is "they"--as in "they" (Obama and his crack team of government experts) promise to do everything you once thought you could do, only better. The implication, of course, is that you really can’t.
We tend to think, along with Miranda, that nothing ill "can dwell in such a temple."
But a professor--who has taught courses on beauty--quoted in this New York Times report, describes this as the "halo-horn effect." Not poetry, this piece or his words, and therefore ugly. Yet, the article and he persist. And now, appropriately, the prof will write on the ugly instead of the beautiful. He investigates whether ugly is only skin deep. And the whole of us, of course, is prejudiced against the ugly. Awfully funny stuff, unintentionally, and the bad prose is worth a glance because it is in the end about something good, and reminds us why we hope beauty’s rose might never die. Beauty is good, even if she says nothing.
A fair look at the poll suggests that Obama moved a bit further ahead yesterday. And there’s no doubt that the early voting, as Joe says, has gone Obama’s way so far, although by how much is hard to say. Rasmussen says about 54-45, and I bet that’s nearly right. Good news: There’s a new poll that has McCain only down 5 in PA.
If in fact 30-35% of the voters will get to the polls early, and if they favor Obama by margins higher than the national polls suggest for the electorate at large (a function, if nothing else, of Obama’s well-funded campaign organization), then the math is hard to ignore. Suppose turnout is 150 million (a conservative estimate, I think). If 30% vote early, that’s 45 million. If Obama gets 60% of the early voters, he starts election day with a 9 million vote lead. At 55%, he starts with a 4.5 million vote lead. Under the first scenario, McCain would have to win 54% of the votes on election day to pull even. Under the second, he’d have to win 52.5% of the votes. Only the second seems even a remote possibility.
Of course, the national result doesn’t matter, except in the minds of those who bear bitter memories of 2000. Not all states permit early voting. Among the battleground states that make it easy are Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa (I’m being generous to McCain here), Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin. McCain has a tiny lead in the RCP average in only one of them (Indiana). I don’t have time to do the math for all these states, but, again, McCain would have to perform significantly better than the polls to overcome a lead Obama established in the early voting.
This is not impossible, especially if the Obama campaign got a higher proportion of its voters to the polls early, leaving the McCain a somewhat larger share of the Election Day electorate. But if you give a well-organized and well-funded campaign a couple of extra weeks actually physically to get its voters to the polls, they’re going to take advantage of it. The turnout of likely Democratic voters will be higher than ever, since there’s more time to drive busloads and vanloads of voters to the polls.
An eleventh hour break in McCain’s direction is highly unlikely to overcome the advantage Obama has established. Hillary Rodham Clinton would, on some level, sympathize.
The McCain campaign has accused Sen. Obama of being a not-so-secret socialist. Many of Obama’s journalistic supporters, if that’s not a redundancy, have denounced the Republicans’ invitation to a seminar on twentieth-century ideologies. The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg says that McCain has reached the “bottom of the barrel” by “suggesting that the dystopia he abhors is not some North Korean-style totalitarian ant heap but, rather, the gentle social democracies across the Atlantic, where, in return for higher taxes and without any diminution of civil liberty, people buy themselves excellent public education, anxiety-free health care, and decent public transportation.”
The problem with asserting – or denying – that Sen. Obama is a socialist, is that the term, which was once merely hazy around the edges, is now just haze. In Brian Morton’s novel, Starting Out in the Evening, published in 1998 and set in New York, a character tells his girlfriend that he still considers himself a socialist. When she asks him to expand on that declaration, he says, “A socialist is someone who sits around pondering the question of whether it can possibly mean anything anymore to call yourself a socialist.”
The old sine qua non, social ownership of the means of production, has been quietly but firmly set aside, for the pedestrian reason that it worked terribly everywhere it was tried, and nobody could offer a convincing explanation of how to fix it. “The socialist economic project, consisting fundamentally of national planning and extensive public ownership, has been thoroughly discredited as a means of economic growth,” Paul Starr wrote in the American Prospect in 1991. “It is now indisputable that communism impoverished the people who lived under it, and it is not clear how or why a more democratically planned socialist economy would do much better – or that such a system is feasible at all.” Even in western Europe, “the idea of a planned national economy has been abandoned or planning of limited scope has accommodated the basic contours of capitalism. Although European social democrats have Marxist grandparents on their family tree, they have largely outgrown not just Marxism, but socialism itself.”
So if socialism isn’t what Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas argued for, what is it? Two years ago Bernard Sanders was elected to the U.S. Senate from Vermont, making him the first self-described socialist to join the Club of 100. When a friendly radio interviewer asked Sanders to define socialism, he said, “Well, I think it means the government has got to play a very important role in making sure that as a right of citizenship, all of our people have healthcare; that as a right, all of our kids, regardless of income, have quality childcare, are able to go to college without going deeply into debt; that it means we do not allow large corporations and moneyed interests to destroy our environment; that we create a government in which it is not dominated by big money interest. I mean, to me, it means democracy, frankly. That’s all it means. And we are living in an increasingly undemocratic society in which decisions are made by people who have huge sums of money. And that’s the goal that we have to achieve.” Socialism, in this formulation, is no longer an ideology with an ultimate goal or any interest in intellectual rigor, but just an assortment of leftists’ inclinations and resentments.
Before scoffing at the idea that Barack Obama is a socialist, then, it might be useful if someone could explain how, exactly, Obama’s political philosophy is fundamentally different from Bernie Sanders’. What are the ideas that Sanders believes in, and that Obama considers outlandish, impossible or pernicious?
For a deft defense of the laudably partisan nature of American politics, see my friend Bill Connelly’s op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Short version: partisanship is good, both presidential candidates will not govern without it--despite their best efforts or rhetoric--, and it’s that way by design and for our own good. It’s how the American citizenry sorts through their political options, and while it does allow for some bad results, the benefits, in the long run, outweigh the drawbacks.
That means you, Hayward.
I have been making the argument to students that Barack Obama’s extraordinary fundraising success has forever raised the bar for presidential candidates and completely destroyed a public financing regime that he (and his opponent) allegedly favored. In the future, only candidates who demonstrate the capacity to raise this kind of money will be taken seriously.
Public financing will come to be regarded as only being for losers, like Dennis Kucinich. (And...?)
Never mind that Obama made a promise when it was politically advantageous and broke it when it was politically advantageous. (He’s different from other politicians, to be sure, but only inasmuch as no one seems to hold him accountable for his previous undertakings.)
Am I right about this? Will public financing die a quiet death (along with one of its principal advocates, who shall remain nameless)? Or will Democrats, once firmly ensconced in the White House and both branches of Congress, repent of their sins and seek to protect us from this year’s excesses, thereby insulating incumbents from the perils of well-financed challengers?
On the way to Ohio last week, I picked up a book in the airport that outlines Obama’s "Plan to Renew America’s Promise" and includes several of Obama’s more famous speeches. In reading it, I could not help but notice the way that Obama has picked up (ultimately for the purpose of discarding) the tone of Bill Clinton and his "third way" or "New Democrat" speech. That is to say, he covers up his Liberal tracks with Conservative sounding platitudes. His speeches and his "plan" are laced with language such as "government can’t solve all our problems," "personal responsibility," "hard work," "self-reliance," and "we don’t like to see our tax dollars wasted." But I could not help but notice that this phraseology was always employed as the follow up to some more outrageous and liberal claim.
An example that seems especially fitting given the direction of the campaign: his speech in Flint, Michigan last June. He titles this speech, Renewing American Competitiveness and, in it, he outlines plans for a top-down approach to solving all of America’s economic woes. What seems at first to be an inspiring look at what America, at its best, is capable of doing is--upon closer examination--a cynical evaluation of the prospects of Americans when left alone to their own devices and in possession of their own freedoms. Note this paragraph:
[His plan is] designed to restore balance and fairness to the American economy after years of Bush Administration policies that tilted the playing field in favor of the wealthy and the well-connected. But the truth is, none of these short-term steps alone will ensure America’s future. Yes, we have to make sure that the economic pie is sliced more fairly, but we also have to make sure that the economic pie is growing. [emphasis mine] Yes, we need to provide immediate help to families who are struggling in places like Flint, but we also need a serious plan to create new jobs and industry.See how he does that? He talks about slicing up an economic pie in a way that no longer favors the wealthy and well-connected but then, to play to what’s left of any sentiment resembling American self-respect, he also notes that we have to make the pie "grow."
Now, maybe I’m overly sensitive to things like sloppy metaphors, but I can’t help but think there’s a tell in there. He’s trying to marry two completely incompatible ideas. I mean, pies are wonderful and delicious, but the last time I baked one I noticed that it did not "grow." Pies (at least the kind worth eating) do not grow, they only shrink. If your pie is growing, it’s probably a rotten pie and it’s only growing mold. So maybe "pie" is the wrong metaphor for an economy one expects to see grow. It’s certainly the wrong metaphor for an American economy that has always grown and, quite naturally, spread itself without the intervention of wealth spreaders in Washington.
In fact, I’d say an economy is more like a fruit tree than a pie. It doesn’t come to us a finished (and limited) product--like a pie, ready to feed our hunger or satisfy some deep craving for sweets not earned. Rather, an economy presents itself like that tree as raw opportunity that depends upon our efforts to nourish it, protect it, and help it grow. When we do that and fortune smiles on us (because chance can never be removed from the equation), it may yield fruit--fruit that we can use to make our own pies (or cider). Indeed, it may yield fruit that carries within it seeds for the growing of more trees! So, if your object is to yield more fruit to make possible the baking of more pies, it’s probably better (and more just) if you just leave the slicing of those pies to the ones who baked them. Better, that is, unless we want to go back to an economic philosophy that says, "You work. I’ll eat."
Well, the old reliable Weekly Reader poll of the nation’s children gives Barack Obama a decisive victory. Not to be outdone, the Nickelodeon poll also gives the Democrat from Illinois the edge. But do note that the margin of victory in the second poll was much, much closer (and within the margin of error) than the margin in Weekly Reader poll. Indeed, the margin in the Weekly Reader poll was almost laughable in giving Obama 54% of the vote and McCain only 42%. While the Weekly Reader’s bragging rights boast a correct prediction in 12 of the last 13 elections, this particular prediction appears to me to be swept up in a ball of exuberant and youthful enthusiasm--spurred on, I’d venture to guess by reading some of the accompanying commentary, by similarly exuberant teachers talking about the "historic importance" of this election. The Nickelodeon poll--though newer to the game--also boasts an impressive level of accuracy in that it has correctly picked 4 of the last 5 presidents. It, unlike the WR poll that is conducted in the classrooms of America, is an online poll. In that poll McCain was only two points behind Obama.
Since this election year has been all about giving the advantage to the new, the slick, the technologically savvy, and so forth, I’ll go along and say that the Nickelodeon poll is probably a better representation of reality. The question is whether McCain can overcome a 2 point difference in less than a week’s time. For the answer to that question, I guess we’ll have to wait for the ultimate poll--the one in which children are not supposed to participate.
The best news today: McCain did better, once again, on the RCP average. And he’s only three down in the Rasmussen trackng, which is widely thought to be the best of the trackers. Obama is also topping out at around 50 everywhere, it seems. That allows us to have some hope that the undecideds breaking massively for McCain...
The worst news: McCain seems behind in all latest polls from the battelground states, although usually not by much
There’s a lot of change going on outside of the Court, that, you know, the judges have to essentially take judicial notice of. I mean you’ve got World War II. You’ve got the doctrines of Naziism, that we are fighting against, that start looking uncomfortably similar to what’s going on back here at home….
That now much-discussed 2001 radio interview affirming "economic redistribution" contained as well the above snippet which Mark Levin uncovered and broadcast on his show yesterday (Oct. 28). (Click on the “We have nothing in common with the Nazis” heading in the left column.) This moral equivalence perfectly reflects his autobiography’s post-modern casualness about justice and lack of devotion to America that disqualify a person from being President.
What can Obama mean by similarities between Nazis and Americans? Presumably not government regulation of the economy! An alliance with the Soviet Union? He surely can’t mean the temporary relocation of West coast ethnic Japanese--who, after all, were free to leave the relocation centers, if they had jobs or schools to attend outside the West coast.
This is all of a single narrative intertwining terrorist William Ayers, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi in his past and attacks on defending American interests in the world today. The point isn’t that Obama necessarily holds the same views as these extremists (though he well might; it’s hard to say he doesn’t); it’s that he even regards them and their views as legitimate and non-objectionable--until his ties become politically inconvenient.
So Obama goes on TV tonight (or is it tomorrow??) with his half-hour broadcast where he’ll try to close the deal. What will we see? The "audacious" Obama of last year, or the relatively cautious Obama we’ve seen since mid-summer? As several observers have commented, Obama decided to become relatively boring as a way of making himself into Bill Cosby/Dr. Huxtable. Occasionally the mask has slipped, when surprised by Joe the Plumber. (Obama doesn’t have to worry about such pesky questions from Joe the Reporter.)
The cautious approach would counsel for a bland, soothing broadcast. I’m betting, however, that Obama goes for it. I think he’ll try to strike bold notes, maybe even making a broad partisan appeal for a strong Democratic Congress to enable him to implement his mandate, rather than repeating his "reach across the aisle" sentiments. This is something Reagan didn’t do in 1984, much to the chagrin of many conservatives. It would be a high risk strategy, as it could easily backfire and cause some voters to split their ticket as a hedge against Obama’s unknown inclinations. It would be a sign to me that he really does intend to govern as far to the left as possible. With a big enough majority, he doesn’t have to reach across the aisle.
To paraphrase Stephen Stills, "There’s a man with a poll over there, tellin’ me, I’ve got to beware." Beware of polls, perhaps.
It is the dream of every trailing candidate to repeat the Truman in 1948 experience. But the nonstop polling of modern election cycles suggests we can’t be surprised like that again, and even the late polls in 2000 picked up most (though not all) of the late Gore surge. That said, number-cruncher extraordinaire Jay Cost has been noting oddities in recent poll results that suggest this election has some intrinsic weirdness (to use a technical political science term) going on: "They [the leading polls] are disagreeing with one another in ways that can’t be chalked up to statistical ’noise.’ That gives me great pause." Me, too.
...but he seems to be creeping toward the margin of error in the Rasmussen, Zogby, and Gallup polls. Go to RCP and see for yourself. Other good news: Wicker looks more like a winner in MS.
Duane Patterson offers some hope for dejected conservatives on the question of the polls. Note, especially, his discussion of a post from a blogger in Virginia who had dinner with a Democrat pollster.
I have no idea if the things this Virginia blogger claims have any merit or grounding in reality. But I will say that there are enough signs of some movement toward McCain and enough bizarre (and varied) results in polls that also seem to defy on-the-ground observations, that I begin to wonder. I am chastened by the prospect of allowing the wish to become the father of my thought . . . but our eyes should be open to all of the possibilities, not just those that seem most likely. Obama keeps tracking back to Ohio and Pennsylvania . . . and Virginia? It’s enough to be at least interesting, I’d say.
These are the real objectives of an Obama Administration according to our own, Robert Alt in an article today in the New York Post. Alt, a former law student of Obama’s at the University of Chicago, carefully examines Obama’s statements in the now-famous PBS interview wherein Obama describes his views about the court and redistribution. If Obama does not want redistribution to take place through a radical court, it is not at all clear that he does not want it to take place alongside of one. Alt also finds Cass Sunstein’s spin to be unimpressive though not surprising. Sunstein, Alt notes, is also the guy who argues that people ought not to complain when government takes for the purpose of redistribution because government, in making markets and wealth possible, ought to have some claim on both for the purposes it deems important. Read the whole thing.
This is not an issue that is going to sway the election, but it ought to be sufficient to persuade any friend of the Constitution to show up at the polls. Steven G. Calabresi outlines what’s at stake, if you didn’t already know.
As for the judicial path to redistribution, of which much has recently been made, this post seems to offer the most "judicious" examination of Obama’s views, circa 2001. Yes, he is sympathetic to redistributive concerns, but he doesn’t think the courts are particularly well-suited to a job that can better be accomplished by the political branches. Make no mistake about it, Obama will seek to spread the wealth around, but what we should expect from his judicial nominees is sophisticated and activist judicial leftism, especially when following "the letter of the law" produces a politically uncongenial result.
Good article in the International Herald Tribune on why Europeans will surely end up disappointed by a President Obama.
The reports of disharmony within the McCain and Palin camps cause John J. Pitney to offer some good observations about possible motives for revealing this information and some good advice to McCain staffers: Shut up!
Politico is reporting that Jack Murtha’s opponent for his congressional seat, veteran of the Persian Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom William Russell, is getting an unexpected boost in the polls and in funding as a result of Murtha’s "racist" and "redneck" comments. Good.
Apparently something called the National Inhalant Prevention Council (NIPC) has protested a Wendy’s hamburger TV ad that features people breathing helium and floating around the room, with the tag-line, "Don’t fill up on just anything." The NIPC thinks this promotes unsafe behavior, because, yeah--people will go out and start breathing helium and stuff. (Helium is actually harmless to breathe; it’s a substitute for the 80% nitrogen in normal air for deep sea divers, duh.) I know I’m going to stay awake nights worried about this.
Who knew there was a National Inhalant Prevention Council. Maybe it was formed just last week. It seems to me that although it is not quite a perfect fit, NIPC’s acronym should be pronounced "nit-pick."
From a defense(!) of New York City’s prospects for the future in the New York Post: "New York City’s secret is that it periodically reinvents itself. In 1950, we had more than 1 million people working in manufacturing. Today, we have more people working in higher education than in manufacturing."
The National Journal’s inimitable Jonathan Rauch goes all mavericky on us with this piece making the counter-intuitive case that liberals should favor McCain and conservatives should favor Obama, on policy grounds. I don’t buy it, but it is always fun to see Jonathan’s quirky mind at work.
This 2001 radio interview would seem to confirm that Obama is a fairly radical guy. (On NPR, of course.) Wonder if this will get any traction in the last seven days.
1. Don’t forget that you can see ME in scenic NEWPORT, RI at the NAVAL WAR COLLEGE at NOON and SALVE REGINA COLLEGE at 4. The topic: "Liberalism and the Future of Nations," which has a strong vote American, not European subtext.
2. Zogby continues to have McCain down 5, which isn’t such bad news. The news from all the battleground states has them all within the margin of error but VA and PA. There’s finally a poll that casts doubt on the possibility of Sen. Al Franken.
3. Here’s another thing that ticked me off about David Brooks’ column yesterday: He says straight out that McCain would be an OUTSTANDING president, but he will lose and seemingly deserve to lose merely because of campaign missteps. So David is all unspeakably sad (and I feel his pain). But, in real life, there’s still time for most people to vote for him anyway, preferring reality to atmospherics.
I, for one, doubt Mac will be an outstanding president, but he’s still far and away the better of the two alternatives as chief excecutive, although he’s clearly come in second in terms of campaigning.
I note that John McCain is speaking at a rally in Zanesville as I write (now from California again). I woke up in Zanesville this morning and spent all of yesterday talking to folks who were desperate to get tickets to see him. Most Republicans I talked to were down--but not quite out. They are stunned by Obama’s poll numbers and can offer no explanations for them based on what they claim to see around them. In other words, the polls seem to defy their observations. The GOP headquarters was doing brisk business. This is interesting, perhaps. Southeast Ohio is one of the parts of Ohio that is most in question. I note that the instant poll (not scientific, I know) on the Zanesville paper’s website has McCain up by 9. I’d caution too that there’s more to Southeast Ohio than Zanesville, but Zanesville is still pretty representative.
In this weekend’s Wall Street Journal, Fred Smith, the founder and CEO of FedEx argues that our tax and regulatory structure is out of wack:
"The United States has a completely uncompetitive tax structure in general and it has a particularly onerous tax structure for firms that are asset-intensive. If you run an industrial company like FedEx, which employs 290,000 folks, most of whom are blue-collar people, the way we have to run this business is to equip those workers with billions of dollars of assets that allow them to pick up and deliver millions of things around the world."
His theory is that the tax bias against capital explains why so much top U.S. talent got whisked off to become investment bankers. "Not too many young people coming out of school are studying to be production managers at General Motors." He says that most of FedEx’s first line managers come not from the top flight universities, but out of community colleges and the military. "The top talent has wanted to go to Wall Street." . . .
He uses an example from FedEx. "Look, our capital budget as we went into this year was about $3 billion. We went out to Boeing in July for our board meeting to see the new triple seven, [the Boeing 777] which we have bought. If we had a lower corporate tax rate with the ability to expense capital expenditures, guess what? We’d buy more triple sevens. We absolutely have to cut the corporate tax. Our current tax rate is about 38%. Even Germany has a 25% rate."
Smith’s point furthers the point I tried to make a
a little while ago: Banking and finance might need more regulation, but industry probably could use less.
The Mason-Dixon poll has McCain up 6 in GA. Zogby has McCain moving from 12 to 5 down over several days.
On David Brooks’ column today: I think he’s right to criticize McCain for not having a "progressive conservative" domestic policy. Mac didn’t even explain his good health care plan and was obsessive on earmarks, which didn’t impress anyone. But I gotta add that McCain has never been known for his interest in or eloquence on economic policy. Not only that, David, when he was at Berry in April, said the election would turn on whether Americans could get comfortable enough with the idea of Obama as president. If so, he would surge at the end and probably win easily. That projected surge, everyone knows, occured relatively early with the first debate and, of course, the very scary economic semi-collapse. The amazing thing, in a way, is that McCain hasn’t collapsed altogether, which should give Republicans some hope and fear for the next nine days. I don’t think the battle of the health care plans would have helped Mac all that much. The trouble is that his plan is on the "ownership society" model, which isn’t so popular when people feel threatened by economic forces way beyond their control. One more rant: Brooks has been all over the map on Palin; he praises her for achieving "debating parity" with Biden one week and then calls her a "cancer" the next. Now he says she’s a conventional Republican, which is a lot different from a cancer.