Enough With The McCain Election Fallacy!

I was riding in the car last night with S. when she turned on the radio. My heart sank - it was NPR, her favorite radio station, and the announcers were in the middle of their evening news report. Don't get me wrong - I think National Public Radio does a commendable service of bringing parts of our culture to light that might not otherwise get a voice.

What kills me is the Dramamine-sounding voices, in a timbre and cadence that begins at cloying and escalates to mind numbing, as if the news readers are telling after lunch stories to a bunch of preschoolers who they are trying to lull to sleep.

Last night, the announcer and his cohost recapped the presidential campaigns in an effort to analyze what went wrong for John McCain and what went right for Barack Obama - a subject that gets my blood pressure up when on-air personalities use poor analysis to build specious arguments or make unfounded assertions.

The announcer ascribed McCain's loss to several factors - not defining who he was to the public properly, not hammering the alleged precondition faux pas Obama made at a debate during the primaries, and not appealing to enough "UFP"'s, a designation I never did fully understand, although I took it to mean "undecided for president".

I looked at S., my eyes glaring at the radio speaker in the dash. "This is just bad information. I can't STAND when somebody who should know better uses bad information to reach a conclusion."

I get home, and what do I see - channel after channel full of people saying, "if only the McCain campaign had done this", or "if the election had been held in September, McCain would have won - he was ahead then."

Then I pop on the internet, there is more of the same old story, the same old "woulda coulda shoulda."

Are these people for real? Does someone actually pay them to spin this nonsense out of whole cloth - because there are very few empirical facts to back up what they are saying.

A guy walking down the street can have the internet in the palm of his hand. There are nine hundred and seventy eight channels on my TV, including one that seems dedicated to showing "Dog The Bounty Hunter" reruns in perpetuity. And I'm sure that between Google, Alexa, Yahoo, and MSN, ten thousand new pages of information have been indexed in the time it took to write this sentence.

In a world where the traditional has been turned inside out and upside down, in a world where marketing campaigns have to calibrate their efforts to adjust for the amount of savvy the average man on the street has about being sold to, it is more than amazing that we continue to rely on a structure like this for information, a structure that seems to willfully ignore what is going on around it.

The Obama campaign took a full court approach to a game that is normally played as if it is a half court one. Instead of bulking up with wide bodied players who could throw elbows in the paint all day long, they went with a squad that could run the fast break for forty eight minutes.

Instead of a twelve man squad, they had the Verizon network on their bench, giving them an inexhaustible supply of reserves.

Salary cap? Didn't apply to them. They could pick up anybody they wanted.

They had the Pat Riley of politics, disguised in his "Colombo" costume, who was going for the black candidate "three peat" - Chicago's City Hall, Illinois Senate seat, and now the presidency of the United States.

If they had called these campaigns on ESPN, the announcers would have stopped caring about the Clinton campaign in May, and stopped laughing about the McCain campaign in January.

There was no horse race this fall, not even close. The debates are practically irrelevant, the ads superfluous, and the nightly pandering to whatever locale a candidate is in by drinking a beer, eating cheesesteaks, or wearing a cowboy hat at a rodeo has gotten to be as ridiculous as the footage on America's Home Videos.

I can't take this pablum anymore!

We have trillion dollar problems that will take several, as in more than one, trillions to solve. We've got an economy that has one foot stuck in the fifties and one foot stuck in the door of the new millennium. We've got a population that needs to see beyond the end of their own experiences, but is mighty, mighty comfortable with the labels we allow ourselves to be stuck with.

I challenge my fellow political scribes to think big. If you want to compare Barack Obama to someone, chose someone like Steve Jobs of Apple.

Because the difference between Apple and Microsoft is what the challenge of an Obama presidency is going to look like if you believe he will really attempt to change the way we see government in America.

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rikyrah said...

I love this post. It's too difficult for them, Brown Man Thinking, for them to admit that Obama ran the most brilliant campaign in at least a generation. It's too much for them to admit that HE was in control of his campaign (you know the ' he was controlled by others' memo that some tried to push.)

It's too much for them to admit that he learned from the South Side of Chicago, how to organize A FRIGGING COUNTRY.

It's too much for them to admit that he was brilliant every step of the way.

If this election has proven to me anything, it's that the Mainstream press is a fucking joke.

The Democratic Primary season was OVER the night of the Wisconsin Primary, yet they continued with the bullshit about this being a ' horserace'.

The General Election race SHOULD have been over 10 days after Caribou Barbie was chosen. If they had taken the same rectal exam approach to Palin as they had done to Obama, the General Election would have been over 2 weeks post her selection. Her selection, above all else, proved what a SHAM McCain's entire campaign was, because it was a complete betrayal of America.

Love the post.

Melinda said...

I think what you were hearing was the term "UFG," which was to stand for "Up For Grab" voters---more commonly called undecided voters, I think. But your suggestion that it was "UFP" makes sense, too, and means the same thing as what I thought I was hearing described as "UFG" voters.

Great post, as always.

King Politics said...

McCain ran a terrible campaign, every step of the way; Obama ran a beautiful general election campaign, every step of the way.

dave crockett said...

Mad Skillz as always BMTH,

I'll mildly disagree a bit with rikyrah’s comment though. I don't think the MSM, even including the so-called experts they employ, is even at the point of flat denying Obama's skill as much as they still just don't get it. (Pat Buchanan gets it. He's a hater that hates for the right reasons. When Buchanan feels the need to make up stuff you know your game is tight.) In the general worldview of the MSM Lee Atwater (and his protégé Karl Rove) was a brilliant political strategist, and the electorate will always respond to the kinds of tricks you use to cheat your way on to the homecoming court in high school. They can’t wrap their minds around electioneering under different conditions, namely high voter turnout. Dirty tricks and shenanigans--even when they work-- tend to be less impactful with a bigger base. See, these people, disproportionately vapid and shallow, still kinda don’t get why Rev. Wright and then Bill Ayers didn’t work for Clinton or McPalin. So all they're left with are appeals to Obama’s preternatural “cool” or some other mystical quality masquerading as analysis.

I’ll extend BM's basketball analogy a bit further. Once Obama committed to a high-turnout campaign, taking a major cue from Howard Dean before him and Jesse before that, he flipped the script on the Atwater assumptions about how the game is played. As BMTH notes, Obama made the Clintons (and subsequently McPalin) defend the full court for the full 48 minutes (i.e., the 50-state GOTV strategy, the internet, the huge volunteer base). But I’d also argue that he made them defend the *width* of the court as well, through his fundraising arm, his advertising—both quantity and quality, as well as his public persona. So when the pace of the game slowed down, and he was forced to go toe-to-toe in the battleground states and in the Bush states he was still able to keep the Clintons and McPalin working hard on defense. (Even when they were able to score--like with the guns and God comment, or with Rev. Wright--all they were ever doing was trading baskets with Obama.)

Obama changed the game on them. A high-turnout campaign is virtual kryptonite to the Atwater-inspired campaign. Once Obama made that decision, he was halfway home.

As for the MSM, it’s clear to me that they still don’t get any of this. When they get it, they will deny him his propers--I don't doubt that. But right now all they can scrounge together is, "young voters this, Hispanics that." "Catholics this, working class white men that." All those factors are important, but Obama’s success with those groups flows from the basic assumptions he made about the electorate and how to win.

karen marie said...

yeah, but they also don't want to have to admit how bad mccain truly was, or palin, or how completely empty and soiled the Republican and conservative brands are. they've been pimping it too long.

people talk a lot about how bad it is now and how it was better in the past. it never was better in the past, it was just bad wearing a slightly different outfit and maybe a wig. but the script hasn't changed significantly.

if you have never seen it or you haven't reviewed it in a long time, go over to youtube and watch frank zappa on crossfire in 1986. things are pretty bad when frank zappa comes off looking like the adult.


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