SO THAT'S WHERE HANNITY COMES IN

Posted in Election 2008, Quick Hits on September 18th, 2008 by Ed

I assume you've all seen this, but…McCain's campaign manager says that media will not have access to Sarah Palin (shocking!) until she is treated with "deference and respect." That would explain why her next interviewer was Sean Hannity, who will no doubt ask probing questions like "Does it hurt your feelings when liberals lie about you?"

I originally prepared a more substantive comment, but I'll condense it in the interest of efficiency: are you fucking kidding? There may not be precedent for a campaign with enough balls to explicitly state that the media lose access unless they agree to kiss the candidate's ass and promise not to ask any questions tougher than "Gee Sarah, is it hard to be so wonderful and important while raising five kids?"

SICK BURNAGE

Posted in Quick Hits on September 18th, 2008 by Ed

I never get tired of watching this: the sickest burn in debate history followed by the lamest comeback (attempt) since Franklin Pierce responded to critics by making fart noises with his mouth.**

**I may have made this up. But it's plausible.

FLEX YOUR HEAD

Posted in Election 2008 on September 18th, 2008 by Ed

It's a good day when I can introduce talk of polling with Minor Threat lyrics.

If you need to crystallize contemporary presidential politics you could do worse than pointing to the recent (9/10-9/11) Newsweek/Princeton survey questions about Sarah Palin:

"Based on what you have seen or heard about Sarah Palin so far, please tell me whether or not you think each of the following phrases describes Palin. What about [see below]? Does this describe Palin, or not?"
"Has taken on her own party to fight corruption in the Alaska state government"
"Has a record of opposing wasteful earmarks or 'pork barrel' government spending"
"Shares your views on the abortion issue"
"Shares your views about environmental policy and climate change"

Keep in mind, this poll is asking Americans (and we know how much substantive political information the man-in-the-street has) questions about someone they had never heard of five days prior. In short, aside from the abortion issue – on which her position was made front and center – an individual would have to be a voracious political junkie to answer any of these questions with information beyond the campaign PR that accompanied her nomination.

This reduces the system to the worst, most cynical brand of Newspeak: just introduce her as Sarah the Reformer and it'll stick more often than not. Sure, that strategy punts on the 25% of the population who will do some research to determine the veracity of that claim, but that's an acceptable consequence of firmly planting the idea in the remaining 75%. Don't bother finding a candidate who is a reformer or a feminist or whatever. Just nominate whoever you want and stick the label on 'em.

The question, in essence, is not asking "Do you think Sarah Palin fights corruption?" What the folks at Princeton and Newsweek are really asking (probably unwittingly) is "Of the marketing slogans hurled at you over the past week relative to Sarah Palin, which ones managed to stick?"

N.B. the Red Flag Polling No-No of prompting responses with information embedded in the questions. If they asked "What word comes to mind when I say Sarah Palin?" I wonder how many people would say "reformer?" On the other hand, I don't need to wonder how many will agree when the question is phrased, "Sarah Palin may be a reformer. Do you think she is?"

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