I Don't Get It

As y'all know, I am not a member of either the Coke or Pepsi party, so I find all the partisan mudslinging on the political blogs to be just kind of funny.  Particularly when both sides are piously accusing the other of exactly the same behavior, while maintaining that they are immune from said behavior  (or only engaging in it because the other guy started it).

I really don't understand political strategy.  I admit this.  Take global warming.  I really thought the CRU email thing was a minor distraction.  After all, the there were so many fundamental flaws in the science and scientific process that a lot of the CRU stuff was old news to those who have paid attention.  But I was wrong.  There was something about the scandal that was more compact and easy to tell, it fit into a box or storyline familiar to both the media that had to report it and the public that had to consume it.  I understood the whole scandal and its impact so poorly that I have done little blogging at my climate site lately, as I still can't get excited blogging about commissions and investigations into the scandal that seem to obsess the skeptic community currently.

So I won't say that this strategy by Kevin Drum is wrong, I will just say I don't understand it:

On Twitter, here was my insta-reaction to Obama's oil spill address from the Oval Office:

What a terrible speech.

Unfair? Maybe! I mean, compared to Sarah Palin's (literally) incomprehensible burbling on Bill O'Reilly's show afterward it was a model of straight talk and reassurance. But that's a pretty low bar.

What's the deal with Sarah Palin?  I swear she gets more pub from her enemies than her supporters.  How does it somehow help a sitting President -- who was supposedly elected because he was the most competent person of all time -- to be compared, however favorably, to a woman with limited political experience who holds no office?  Granted the Republicans really have no one of distinction leading them right now, and Palin is about the only Republican in years with any modicum of charisma.  But since when have losing VP candidates been the standard against which Presidents are measured?


  1. David:

    But since when have losing VP candidates been the standard against which Presidents are measured?

    That's a very good point. I don't remember anyone comparing Bush to either Lieberman or Edwards, or for that matter comparing Clinton to Kemp, Quayle, or Stockdale.

  2. Bill:

    Obviously the bar must be set very low for Obama to appear mildly competent. Even then however he fails the test. This is an issue of basic competence and Obama is showing why prior executive experience is a must in the Presidency. His lack of experience, his wrongheaded ideas as to how the world works and his basic lack of intelligence (this Occidental College man is indeed our first quota President) are now clear for all to see. It is a disaster, just as I thought it would be.

  3. William Newman:

    While I agree that much of the left's Palin-bashing is embarrassing in this way and several other ways, I disagree that it makes sense to compare Palin straight across to Lieberman, Edwards, Kemp, Quayle, or Stockdale. Her independent popularity with tea-party-ish folk gives her a relatively high political profile in a way that isn't captured by describing her as (just) a VP candidate. Better comparisons than L., E., K., Q., or S. would be Al Gore, Ross Perot, and Jesse Jackson: not particularly heavy hitters, but with a political base or organization of some sort beyond the usual temporary coalition which is formed to elect a candidate in a particular campaign.

  4. morganovich:

    it's a theory of linking images.

    it's gotten to the point where perpetual campaigner obama can no longer run against bush anymore, so you set up a sort of straw man to evoke him.

    palin = bush = republicans and conservatives.

    it does 2 things at once: it creates a favorable comparison for obama, and it chooses the right's spokesperson for them like they tried to do with limbaugh. they are looking for someone they can caricature and whom their base dislikes that they can use as a bugbear to rally the troops and to force the republicans to defend (even if just in the minds of the democratic faithful) more extreme ground than they would like to.

    by pumping gravitas into the this faction of the republican party, the dems hope to split and weaken it.

  5. Uncle Bill:

    On the global warming issue: most folks don't have the knowledge (or the interest) to attempt to understand the technical issues involved with global warming. Scientists still rank pretty high in most folks' opinions. So when they hear on the evening news that there is a 'consensus' amongst scientists that global warming is real, they take it at face value. Those of us disputing it seem like cranks, because, after all, the former VP of the US is touting it, and he wouldn't lie, would he?

    Then, they hear that some scientists were dishonest in how they treated and reported the data. This they can understand, so now a lot of people are willing to believe that maybe people like you were right all along. Unfortunately, there are still a large number of people who accept AGW with a kind of simple faith, regardless of the facts. I don't know what it will take to reach them...

  6. Dr. T:

    "Unfortunately, there are still a large number of people who accept AGW with a kind of simple faith, regardless of the facts. I don’t know what it will take to reach them…"

    Convincing such people that they are wrong is just as difficult as convincing born-again Christians that god doesn't exist. The task is impossible, since their beliefs do not rely on logic, reason, or solid evidence.

    I'll give an interesting example. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a famous Democratic Party Senator and a brilliant and honest man (I know, very unusual for a politician.), provided strong evidence in the 1970s that our welfare programs were hurting the poor much more than they were helping. Despite being one of the most respected politicians in modern history, he convinced very few of the "welfare true believers" that radical change was needed. Thus, decades later, we continue to spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on the same misguided programs, and our inner cities and many rural areas remain trapped in a multigenerational poverty culture.

  7. frankania:

    Dr. T is right; the fact is that across the globe and spectrum of political philosophy, people are in general STUPID.
    I remember the shock I felt when I had been recently drafted into the army in 1963 from a university (LSU) environment. My seargent who seemed so mean and in control, was seen reading a "casper-the friendly ghost" comic book in his bunk.
    And the other draftees, seemed totally unaware of anything around them, except what was in front of them and what they had to do next.

    This is the fodder that politicians of any stripe have to put up with to do ANYTHING--bad or good.

  8. tomw:

    I didn't know how to get the URL, but thought this was a demonstration of more thinking than the MSM gives credit for:

    Fron Sarah Palin's Notes on Facebook

    Less Talkin’, More Kickin’
    Tuesday, June 8, 2010 at 2:31pm
    50 days in, and we’ve just learned another shocking revelation concerning the Obama administration’s response to the Gulf oil spill. In an interview aired this morning, President Obama admitted that he hasn’t met with or spoken directly to BP’s CEO Tony Hayward. His reasoning: “Because my experience is, when you talk to a guy like a BP CEO, he’s gonna say all the right things to me. I’m not interested in words. I’m interested in actions.”

    First, to the “informed and enlightened” mainstream media: in all the discussions you’ve had with the White House about the spill, did it not occur to you before today to ask how the CEO-to-CEO level discussions were progressing to remedy this tragedy? You never cease to amaze. (Kind of reminds us of the months on end when you never bothered to ask if the President was meeting with General McChrystal to talk about our strategy in Afghanistan.)

    Second, to fellow baffled Americans: this revelation is further proof that it bodes well to have some sort of executive experience before occupying the Oval Office (as if the painfully slow response to the oil spill, confusion of duties, finger-pointing, lack of preparedness, and inability to grant local government simple requests weren’t proof enough). The current administration may be unaware that it’s the President’s duty, meeting on a CEO-to-CEO level with Hayward, to verify what BP reports. In an interview a few weeks ago with Greta Van Susteren, I noted that based on my experience working with oil execs as an oil regulator and then as a Governor, you must verify what the oil companies claim – because their perception of circumstances and situations dealing with public resources and public trust is not necessarily shared by those who own America’s public resources and trust. I was about run out of town in Alaska for what critics decried at the time as my “playing hardball with Big Oil,” and those same adversaries (both shortsighted Repubs and Dems) continue to this day to try to discredit my administration’s efforts in holding Big Oil accountable to operate ethically and responsibly.

    Mr. President: with all due respect, you have to get involved, sir. The priorities and timeline of an oil company are not the same as the public’s. You cannot outsource the cleanup and the responsibility and the trust to BP and expect that the legitimate interests of Americans adversely affected by this spill will somehow be met.

    White House: have you read this morning’s Washington Post? Not to pile it on BP, but there’s an extensive report chronicling the company’s troubling history:

    “BP has had more high-profile accidents than any other company in recent years. And now, with the disaster in the gulf, independent experts say the pervasiveness of the company’s problems, in multiple locales and different types of facilities, is striking.

    ‘They are a recurring environmental criminal and they do not follow U.S. health safety and environmental policy,’ said Jeanne Pascal, a former EPA lawyer who led its BP investigations.”

    And yet just 10 days prior to the explosion, the Obama administration’s regulators gave the oil rig a pass, and last year the Obama administration granted BP a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) exemption for its drilling operation.

    These decisions and the resulting spill have shaken the public’s confidence in the ability to safely drill. Unless government appropriately regulates oil developments and holds oil executives accountable, the public will not trust them to drill, baby, drill. And we must! Or we will be even more beholden to, and controlled by, dangerous foreign regimes that supply much of our energy. This has been a constant refrain from me. As Governor of Alaska, I did everything in my power to hold oil companies accountable in order to prove to the federal government and to the nation that Alaska could be trusted to further develop energy rich land like ANWR and NPR-A. I hired conscientious Democrats and Republicans (because this sure shouldn’t be a partisan issue) to provide me with the best advice on how we could deal with what was a corrupt system of some lawmakers and administrators who were hesitant to play hardball with some in the oil field business. (Remember the Alaska lawmakers, public decision-makers, and business executives who ended up going to jail as a result of the FBI’s investigations of oily corruption.)

    As the aforementioned article notes, BP’s operation in Alaska would hurt our state and waste public resources if allowed to continue. That’s why my administration created the Petroleum Systems Integrity Office (PSIO) when we saw proof of improper maintenance of oil infrastructure in our state. We had to verify. And that’s why we instituted new oversight and held BP and other oil companies financially accountable for poor maintenance practices. We knew we could partner with them to develop resources without pussyfooting around with them. As a CEO, it was my job to look out for the interests of Alaskans with the same intensity and action as the oil company CEOs looked out for the interests of their shareholders.

    I learned firsthand the way these companies operate when I served as chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC). I ended up resigning in protest because my bosses (the Governor and his chief of staff at the time) wouldn’t support efforts to clean up the corruption involving improper conflicts of interest with energy companies that the state was supposed to be watching. (I wrote about this valuable learning experience in my book, “Going Rogue”.) I felt guilty taking home a big paycheck while being reduced to sitting on my thumbs – essentially rendered ineffective as a supervisor of a regulatory agency in charge of nearly 20% of the U.S. domestic supply of energy.

    My experience (though, granted, I got the message loud and clear during the campaign that my executive experience managing the fastest growing community in the state, and then running the largest state in the union, was nothing compared to the experiences of a community organizer) showed me how government officials and oil execs could scratch each others’ backs to the detriment of the public, and it made me ill. I ran for Governor to fight such practices. So, as a former chief executive, I humbly offer this advice to the President: you must verify. That means you must meet with Hayward. Demand answers.

    In the interview today, the President said: “I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar. We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”

    Please, sir, for the sake of the Gulf residents, reach out to experts who have experience holding oil companies accountable. I suggested a few weeks ago that you start with Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources, led by Commissioner Tom Irwin. Having worked with Tom and his DNR and AGIA team led by Marty Rutherford, I can vouch for their integrity and expertise in dealing with Big Oil and overseeing its developments. We’ve all lived and worked through the Exxon-Valdez spill. They can help you. Give them a call. Or, what the heck, give me a call.

    And, finally, Mr. President, please do not punish the American public with any new energy tax in response to this tragedy. Just because BP and federal regulators screwed up that doesn’t mean the rest of us should get punished with higher taxes at the pump and attached to everything petroleum products touch.

    - Sarah Palin

  9. TakeFive:

    "There was something about the scandal [Global Warming] that was more compact and easy to tell,..."


    "What’s the deal with Sarah Palin? I swear she gets more pub from her enemies than her supporters."

    Because in many ways Sarah Palin is that "compact and easy" expression of people's frustration with the government in general, now in control by the Democrats. For that reason she must be destroyed. This is an example of the Tall Poppys.

    So you see her and her family subjected to the most savage beastialty from the press in service of the democrats because she could rally a significant opposition come November. Yet this is backfiring to an extent and we're seeing a "strike me down and I only grow stronger" scenario develop.

  10. Val:

    I beleive that the MSM and the dems have seriously misunderestimating Mrs Palin. Most seem to forget that she worked very, very hard against almost impossible odds to get where she is, having come from absolutely nowhere. I may not agree with all of positions, but I have a high degree of respect for her. The left realizes all of the above and MUST destroy her - she is woman, by God, and cannot be on the other side!