Friday, November 09, 2007

It's Over

According to the latest poll averages at Real Clear Politics, Hillary Clinton leads the Democrat field with 45.9% of the vote. Obama is a distant second at 22.9%.

I might end up eating these words, but the election is over. The next President of the USA will be the Republican candidate, whoever he is. I'm not saying this is a good thing or that I will vote for the Republican, I'm just saying that Hillary Clinton will get the Democrat nomination and there's no way in hell she can win the general election.

Hillary Clinton's problem is TV. As Dan Rather said, the camera never blinks. TV is not the best medium for communicating ideas, but it is the best for showing who a candidate is. TV communicates a candidate's character, his personality, his sense of life. Voters have an instantaneous emotional reaction to a candidate they see on TV and for all too many voters their first reaction is their last.

Hillary Clinton has a remarkably unpleasant character. She is one of the coldest personalities I have ever seen in a politician. And she can't hide who she is on TV. When she tries to cover it up, such as the day she laughed a lot, she looks worse and ends up on You Tube.

Clinton is a statist through and through. She sees the American people as helpless, deluded creatures who need to be forced and controlled for their own good by altruist philosopher-kings like Hillary Clinton. She thinks of herself as having "compassion" and "caring for the common man," but when one thinks of people as inferior children who need to be lied to, there is another feeling just beneath the surface: contempt. Her contempt and condescension shine through on TV.

A Hillary Clinton candidacy would excite and mobilize the Republican base; it would bring out more Republican voters. At the same time, it would not excite the Democrat base much. If anything, Republican attacks on Clinton would motivate Democrats more than anything positive about their candidate. (Such is the sorry, hate-filled state of American politics.) I see very little enthusiasm for Clinton at Democratic Underground or Daily Kos.

That leaves the independents, who are least interested in ideology or party loyalty and are most susceptible to impressions of a candidate's personality on TV. In his piece on the case for Republican optimism in 2008, Jim Geraghty writes this about independents:

The Democrats have thrown away most of the reform issues that helped them a lot with independents: lobbying reform, ethics rules, earmarks, lack of disclosure, junkets, etc. The “culture of corruption” narrowly outranked terrorism on the list of voter concerns in 2006.

What can we infer about independents from this?

Placing "culture of corruption" above terrorism as a concern shows complete ignorance of politics and economics. The welfare state spends over $2 trillion a year on programs the government should not be involved in. The penny ante corruption of politicians is nothing compared to the scandalous injustice the state perpetrates legally.

People who can think at least a little in principle will evaluate whether they support the war and the welfare state and then choose their party accordingly. But people who ignore the war and the welfare state to place corruption as their number one concern are simply... well, maybe I'd better stop before I degenerate into profanity.

Why don't independents align with any party? For the most part, because they're ignorant. They don't give a damn about politics. They play video games and watch American Idol and take their kids to soccer practice and gossip about Britney and Paris. At some point in the fall they realize there's a campaign going on and they get their first glimpse of the candidates -- on TV.

So you see, Hillary Clinton is doomed. She can lie about her ideas, but she can't fake who she is. How ironic is it that a Democrat candidate will lose because a large part of the American electorate has been dumbed down by government schools (teachers unions being a huge bloc of the Dem base) to the point that they are actually too stupid to listen to Hillary Clinton's lies?

UPDATE: Slight revision. I can't believe all the typos I found in this post. In one sentence I meant to write stop but wrote the opposite, start -- a kind of conceptual dyslexia.


Galileo Blogs said...

Thank you for a thought-provoking essay. I think you're right.

On a different election topic, I thought it was interesting and perhaps surprising that the evangelist Pat Robertson endorsed Rudolf Giuliani for President. My first reaction to the announcement was, "What did Rudy have to promise Pat Robertson to get this endorsement?" Did he promise not to appoint an abortion opponent to the Supreme Court? Etc. Surely, Rudy must have made some sort of "deal with the (Christian) devil" to get this endorsement.

The Christian fundamentalists place such importance on the abortion issue and matters of personal morality that Giuliani just did not seem to have a chance with them. After all, he is publicly in favor of abortion rights and in his own life, his divorces, etc., would alienate many Christian conservatives.

What are your thoughts? What is the significance of the Pat Robertson endorsement?

Galileo Blogs said...

I mis-stated part of my comment. Instead of saying:

"Did he promise not to appoint an abortion opponent to the Supreme Court?"

I meant to say:

"Did he promise not to appoint a supporter of abortion rights to the Supreme Court?"

Anonymous said...

Funny, I've been thinking the opposite. It's over: Clinton will be the next president.

I agree that personality is a big factor, but will personality trump an enormously unpopular war, and economy which will probably only get worse in the next year (been following the stock market?).

Personality is a big factor, but voters can ignore it. Al Gore almost won the 2000 election, and actually did win the popular vote--but his personality was universally regarded as stuff and uncharismatic. Nixon's personality was no match for Kennedy's in the 1960 television debates, but he still managed to win in '68.

There are also a thousand land mines waiting to go off in the Republican camp. Guliani's relationship to the evangelicals is yet to be forged. He may yet be pushed out of the Republican race and forced to run as an independent. (There are other scenarios for third party candidates to split the Republican vote, Perot-style.) Romney is positioning himself as a darling for the evangelicals, but they don't like him because he's Mormon.

The prospects for Republican unity are not good. But there are few dramatic fissures in the Democratic camp. The main contention between Clinton and others is her past support for the war, and her more pragmatic approach on the question of withdrawal. But she will probably be able to forge a compromise with a running mate like Edwards. And don't forget the Bill Clinton factor. Where Hillary lacks charisma, Bill has plenty--and voters will rightly conclude that Bill will play a role in a second Clinton administration. (He's already playing a big role in the campaign.)


Myrhaf said...

Galileo Blogs, if Rudy made a deal with Pat Robertson to get his endorsement, that would shock me. I don't think the Robertson endorsement is terribly important in the long run. He has been saying strange things for so long that I suspect people are ignoring him. Robert Tracinski makes a big deal about it, arguing that it means Republicans are put war and smaller government ahead of religious/social issues such as abortion. We'll see.

NS, in a way I hope you are right. I wish elections would be about ideas instead of personalities and scandals. I fervently hope the Republicans stay away from White Water and Hillary's other scandals -- her ideas are more important and more scandalous! I am not optimistic, however, about our dumbed down America. Too many people just a candidate on superficial criteria such as charisma.

Anonymous said...

How about this for another reason Hillary will have emotional (as opposed to ideological) appeal?: She's a woman. I think polls show her to be up there with Oprah as one of the most admired women in America--especially by women. Women are a majority of the U.S. population, and many of them may vote for her just because they've always wanted one of their own in power. And God forbid if Oprah herself should endorse Hillary!


Myrhaf said...

NS, I think the "first woman President" theme might be a huge factor is they can focus on the abstract idea of woman instead of the particular woman that Hillary Clinton is.

Michael Neibel said...

Great Post. I sure hope you're right about Hillary not winning. I thought your idea about superiority feelings breeding contempt for the lesser beings was so spot on I linked to it at my blog. Keep up the great work.

Mike N

Anonymous said...

Great observations on Hillary. But I wonder what is best for America right now at this point in history and what is best for the spread of Objectivism? Would a Clinton presidency force the Republicans to better defend capitalism? Or would it push them to redouble their efforts at creating a Christian America? How damaging would Clinton be to the economy? Could she be any worse than Bush has been with regard to Islam? I don't yet know what to make of the '08 Presidential elections.

John Kim

Myrhaf said...

Mike, thanks. John Kim, you raise a lot of questions that only the future can answer. If a Hillary Clinton presidency turned out like her husband's, with a Republican Congress pushing her around, it wouldn't be so bad. I'd love to hear her say in a State of the Union speech, "The era of big government is once again over."

EdMcGon said...

Myrhaf, I have to take exception to your condemnation of independent voters, and their concern with the "culture of corruption".

The culture of corruption gets to the heart of why our government doesn't do what the voters want it to do. Politicians make a ton of promises, and then ignore them in favor of what their campaign donors want (with donors usually being large special interests with deep pockets).

Frankly, the independent voters are the ONLY voters in this country who seem to understand that our so-called representatives are NOT representing us BECAUSE of the culture of corruption. It's the voters who blindly align themselves with the two parties that I would call "ignorant".

How can you defend people who vote for a party based on the principles of the party, when those principles will easily go out the window for the highest bidder?

The fiscal conservatism of the GOP-controlled Congress of Bush's first 6 years? Gone. The anti-war and anti-corruption of the 2006 Democrats? Nowhere to be found.

Yet people aligned with those parties will still be voting for them in 2008. Who is truly ignorant here?

Anonymous said...

"I fervently hope the Republicans stay away from White Water and Hillary's other scandals -- her ideas are more important and more scandalous!"

I want someone to dig up Vince Foster and goddamned conduct a proper autopsy.

Let me explain something to you people: Rodham is a steely-eyed Stalinist, and that's why Vince died, even if he did it himself, which I find absolutely impossible to believe on the facts as given in the official story.

The "scandals" are a consequence of her ideas, and this is exactly why it's so important to make them clear. And I, for one, am long enough sick and tired of people in this country who don't have the nerve to look right at them and what they mean.

Myrhaf said...

Ed, the "culture of corruption" was a phony issue created by the Democrats to help them win the 2006 elections. It was a cynical smear of Republicans.

Corruption is a simple, not very abstract issue that can be understood by voters who cannot think in principle or understand more complex, abstract ideas.

There will always be corruption in a welfare state, because as Mises explained in Bureaucracy, government cannot use making a profit as their standard, so they don't know how to allocate resources efficiently. Getting a little something under the table is an easy standard bureaucrats use.

It is a waste of time to fight corruption without fighting the big government that makes it inevitable. Lower spending and cut programs and politicians have less to be corrupt with. In a laissez-faire capitalist society (the unknown ideal), politicians would be cleaner and less corrupt than in any other society because they would have almost no resources to allocate and therefore there would be almost no reason to corrupt them with bribes, kickbacks, etc.

As I noted in my post, when a government spends over $2 trillion of money stolen from taxpayers on programs the government should not be meddling in, who cares about their little side deals off the books? The entire welfare state is a massive scandal, a theft that dwarfs all thefts since the beginning of time. It and the war are vastly more important issues than corruption.

Billy Beck, the same principle applies to the Vince Foster scandal. Even if HRC murdered the guy, it's not as important as the many deaths that would result if she socialized medicine. Yes, it would be good if the truth came out -- someone should be working on Craig Livingstone -- but it's not the fundamental reason to oppose Clinton.

johnnycwest said...

Very interesting post and comments - I agree with NS - I believe you will be having another President Clinton. I am Canadian so I hope you do not mind my 2 cents (which is now worth more!).

Hillary will win largely for emotional reasons, but if it came down to principles and ideas, the candidates would all deserve to disappear into a black hole of non-existence. The overarching bad idea is that mysticism and religion should play a role in the government. I agree with Leonard Peikoff on this - the Republicans deserve to lose and for the good of your nation and the world they will. Religion and mysticism are infinitely more dangerous than any harebrained program of quasi-socialism that Hillary is likely to come up with. I still believe she is more of a pragmatist than anything, which is bad enough, but not the fount of evil she is portrayed to be.

The Republican party is also still associated with business and capitalist interests generally by many voters and the party is making it harder to advance views and programs in support of freedom and capitalism.

Hillary Clinton is very smart and as NS points out, Bill is a huge asset to her. The voters are angry and the Republicans are too unstable and divided to overcome that anger. When Hillary's numbers remain high against the Republicans, the inherent instability of the party will lead to an explosion.

Hillary could grow a beard and still be elected. Overall that will not be bad thing in relation to the alternatives. And I still maintain that politics is the fight over the back seat of the car. Philosophy and culture will always be in the front seat with the steering wheel and that is where we have to fight for Objectivism.

EdMcGon said...

Myrhaf, the Abramoff scandal and the "bridge to nowhere" were just made up by the Democrats?

While I agree with you that the size of our government is undoubtedly a contributing factor to the culture of corruption, it can also be said that our elected politicians are NOT required to be corrupt.

The culture of corruption is NOT just a Republican thing either, as I'm sure you're aware. The fact is BOTH parties are more than delighted to spend our money to increase the size of the government. Yet you see the party loyalists as the smart voters? At least the independents are smart enough to shop their vote around.

Myrhaf said...

The culture of corruption is NOT just a Republican thing either, as I'm sure you're aware.
You're making my point. It was a phony argument by Democrats that the Republicans had a "culture" of corruption.

The fact is BOTH parties are more than delighted to spend our money to increase the size of the government.

That's not corruption, that's the welfare state. There might be a minority of independents who are informed and take a non-party stand from some kind of principle. Most independents are people who have little or no interest in politics and don't think in principle, and are thus susceptible to non-intellectual, inessential, unimportant side issues such as corruption. To ignore war and a massive, out of control welfare state, and list corruption as the more important issue takes a voter who is ignorant and cannot think straight.

Anonymous said...

Philosophy and culture will always be in the front seat with the steering wheel and that is where we have to fight for Objectivism.

That doesn't mean that politics can't go off the rails and bugger up the whole works in short order. In other words, while focussing on "philosophy and culture" is how to win in the long run, we need our freedom of thought and speech to last for the duration of that long run. Our quarterback needs blockers for the play to develop, else he gets sacked.

That is why the best thing to hope for, and to help realize where possible, is political gridlock. I'm not optimistic about the Republicans resisting the power of the God wing for much longer, and so they'll likely try to fob off somthing like Romney or Huckabee on us.

In that case, voting for the Democrat presidential ticket with Republican Senate and House is likely the best bet. In that configuration, the Reps in the House -- which controls spending bills -- will more likely fall into their "fiscal restraint" mode in opposition to the President's efforts at expanding the welfare state. That's the Bill Clinton setup.

The reverse, which is what we have now, is worse; the Democrat spendthrifts now control the purse strings, and with enough votes can override the President -- so all they do is pass crap like SCHIP, again and again. And if the veto override isn't bad enough, any Republican will fold up if the bill is weepy (altruistic) enough.

johnnycwest said...

Jim, I do not disagree, but I cannot even guess who would be better in the short run. As I indicated I am very much on the sidelines, continuing your football metaphor. If I was an American, I would lean towards Giuliani, with many concerns. I would be very open to arguments for other candidates, but I like the idea of showing the Republicans that religion is a dead end for them. I have become so cynical about politics and politicians on both sides of the border that I am truly at a loss to decide who is the lesser evil to vote for. I thought that Bush and the Republicans took the threat from Islamism seriously, but it turns out they have done more damage by fighting an altruistic and ineffective war. I used to follow politics with enthusiasm, but my waning interest is marked by disgust. In my despair, I think that Leonard Peikoff is correct - voting Republican is not consistent with Objectivism - mysticism as a basis of government must be defeated at all costs. It does make voting easier if not less repugnant.