McCain vs. Gore

Sorry for the sporadic blogging lately. I have a really good excuse though: haven’t felt like blogging.

But this article got me thinking. It seems that Christopher Buckley, son of William F., is voting for Obama:

John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, “We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.” This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?

This is a common theme. McCain used to be a good and decent man, but then he changed during this campaign. I tend to think that story line is exaggerated. Compared to the usual run of brain-dead, plutocratic, religious fanatics so typical of Washington Republicans, McCain distinguished himself by occasionally showing signs of having a conscience. But that is not evidence of the man’s great character. It is evidence of how low our standards have become.

But I’ll accept the basic premise that the McCain of this election year has certain personality traits that were, at least, well hidden in his previous career. And that got me thinking. Both Al Gore and John McCain suffered huge personal disappointments in the 2000 election. But compare the way the two have dealt with that reality.

By all rights 2000 should have been Al Gore’s year. Unlike Clinton and Obama, Gore had little in the way of charisma or oratorical skill, but he was a solid, serious public servant who had amassed an impressive record of being right on key issue after key issue. Clinton stood vindicated on virtually every major policy front, leaving Gore with a strong legacy on which to run. For him to lose the election required a malicious press corps eager to parrot Republican talking points at every turn, the candidacy of Ralph Nader siphoning off 95,000 votes in Florida, a corrupt Supreme Court stepping in to stop a state-mandated recount that subsequent research has shown would have led to a Gore victory, and a Byzantine electoral system in which you can win the popular vote by 500,000 and still not win the election. Truly a perfect storm of injustice.

How did Gore handle this? First he gave an impressive concession speech completely devoid of bitterness or anger. He did his patriotic duty in that situation, giving the new President a chance (quickly squandered) to begin his administration with an air of healing. It is virtually unthinkable that any major Republican candidate wold have done likewise had the situation been reversed.

In the years that followed Gore largely moved away from politics, beyond giving everyone a reminder of what we lost in electing Bush by being prescient and courageous in his early condemnation of the Iraq war. Then he moved on to new issues, returning to the environmental causes he had championed earlier in his career. He wrote two bestselling books (not ghost-written, mind you) and was featured in an Academy Award winning documentary. He even won a Nobel Prize.

When 2008 rolled around he could easily have been a serious candidate for the Democratic nomination. Many were exhorting him to run. He was riding a wave of popularity and rejuvenation that could have been the foundation of a formidable campaign. In many corners of the punditocracy there were vague signs of a desire for redemption, and it is near certain the press would not have savaged him in 2008 the way they did in 2000.

Obama emerged victorious largely because there was a need for an anti-Hillary candidate, and because he had the backing of many power brokers in the DNC. Gore could easily have filled that role. His resume, after all, is considerably more impressive than Obama’s.

But Gore declined the offer. He had moved on with his life.

Now compare that to McCain. By all rights he should have been the Republican nominee. 2000 was his year. He was a serious candidate with a strong conservative voting record on the one hand, but also with a record of pragmatism and of occasionally crossing party lines. The sort of Republican who could easily appeal to independents and swing voters. His main rival was a feckless and ignorant symbol of Republican decadence, the scion of a disgraced political family who had done nothing with the advantages granted to him by the accident of his birth. A draft dodger constantly being bailed out from one failure after another by his father’s wealth and connections. A man profoundly ignorant of every major policy issue, completely unable to speak coherently on any issue of importance.

McCain was the front-runner after the early primaries and seemed well on his way to securing the nomination. And that was when the conscience-free Bush campaign launched a series of attacks on McCain that were of such unmitigated sleaziness, even a lot of Republicans blanched. But no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence and savvy of the Republican base. The attacks proved effective, and Bush won the nomination.

A bitter disappointment for McCain. How would he deal with it? Not well, alas. He stuck his thumb in the eye of the Bush administration whenever possible, such as by opposing the Bush tax cuts and by forming his various gangs of 14. All the while he was biding his time, desperate for a second chance at the prize that cruelly eluded him in 2000.

On the way to earning that second chance he proved himself willing to flip-flop on virtually every major issue. Criticizing Bush’s economic policies or the religious right? A thing of the past. The straight-talk express? Shamelessly replaced with standard Washingtonian double-speak and pandering. And after a long and difficult primary campaign in which his epitaph had been written many times, he got the nomination.

And that was when his mindless zeal for power really took over. Had he really been a maverick he would have defied his base to go elsewhere and would have chosen either Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge for VP, either of whom would have been recognized as a serious candidate. Instead he kowtowed to the worst elements of the Republican base and made the embarrassing choice of Sarah Palin (who now stands exposed as a corrupt, empty-headed, dishonest, buffoon to everyone outside the darkest and most vapid corners of the American electorate).

His campaign has been characterized by some of the darkest and most scurrilous attacks in the history of Presidential politics The press has finally taken notice, and have done a reasonable job of calling him on it. (Of course, these were the same folks who gleefully participated in the destruction of Al Gore, and who did everything in their power to make sure the lying Swift-Boat vets were given continuous and neutral coverage. But that’s a separate post).

While Obama ran a mostly positive campaign devoted to issues, McCain was accusing Obama of wanting to teach comprehensive sex-ed to five-year olds and of referring to Sarah Palin as a pig. When the financial crisis came on McCain frantically moved from one publicity stunt to another, but proved jnambiguously that he was in way over his head. Now that people are focused on issues, he is desperate to change the subject by convincing people that Obama is sympathetic to terrorists. He is perfectly happy to foment the worst emotions in his supporters, who routinely say of Obama that he is a traitor who should be killed.

(I give him a thimble-full of credit for finally confronting a few of his more rabid supporters at a few recent rallies (for which he was solidly booed in one of them). His new found concern about excessive rhetoric would be more impressive if he weren’t simultaneously running ads fomenting precisely those attitudes, and if Palin weren’t repeating the standard smears at all of her rallies.)

Who knows? McCain may yet pull it out. But it now seems likely that McCain will end his career in much deserved disgrace.

I believe the differences between the ways Gore and McCain handled their disappointments in 2000 are symbolic of the differences between Republicans and Democrats generally, at least at the national level. The post-Presidencies of Clinton and Carter have been devoted almost entirely to public service. In this they differ from Bush and Reagan. Over and over again over the last twenty years, the leaders in the Republican Party have shown that they crave power solely for the benefits it can bestow on them and their supporters. The Democrats, vastly imperfect though they are, have consistently shown there are lines they will not cross, and take seriously the tasks of governing the country.

It is why I continue to be a partisan Democrat, despite the frequent disappointments to which that leads.

Comments

  1. #1 TheDarwinReport
    October 11, 2008

    I remember George Bush Sr. faded quickly into retirement, and was once spotted by reporters at a mega-store buying a TV-VCR combo. I thought at the time that the man hadn’t really fallen very far in his status for during his campaign he lowered himself by calling Dukakis a “bozo”. In Christian republican circles the term “bozo” is primo pith.

    Now the GOP mob is evolved and refers to the opposition as “traitor”, “Muslim”, “untrustworthy”, and a “friend to terrorists”. Next year I expect to see McCain on the nightly news, wandering the aisles of BestBuy looking for a needle for his Hi-Fi set.

  2. #2 SteveF
    October 11, 2008

    To be fair to McCain on the attack dog stuff, he recently kind of defended Obama. I get the impression that his heart probably isn’t really in it:

    A man in the audience stood up and told McCain he’s “scared” of an Obama presidency and who he’d select for the Supreme Court.

    “I have to tell you. Sen. Obama is a decent person and a person you don’t have to be scared of as president of the United States,” McCain said as the crowd booed and shouted “Come on, John!”

    and also:

    A woman at the town hall asks softly: “I’ve heard that Sen. Obama is an Arab.”

    McCain quickly cuts the woman off.

    “No, maam. He’s a decent family man and citizen,” McCain says. “He’s not. Thank you.”

    Although this last one could still imply that being an Arab is a bad thing (though I hope this isn’t what he means)

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/1008/McCain_calls_Obama_decent_person_is_booed.html

  3. #3 Thomas
    October 11, 2008

    Blaming Reagan for not doing any public service after his presidency is unfair. He was too old and sick to work at that point.

  4. #4 SLC
    October 11, 2008

    If Al Gore had run and won the nomination, I’m quite sure that the Rethuglican smear machine would have been out in full force trashing his acceptance of global warming. Most especially, their cheerleadering nutjobs like Limbaugh, Beck, Savage, Coulter, etc. would have had a field day.

  5. #5 Trish Hunt
    October 11, 2008

    Thomas you are wrong. Reagan was well enough to do public service for many years. His Presidential medical insurance ensured this. He chose a life of leisure, holidays in the Caymans, golf days with his friends, relaxation in the tropics, over and above helping his fellow Americans.

    Even if you don’t believe this, then what about Nancy? Princess Diana was able to help the needy irrespective of her man, but we didn’t hear a peep out of Nancy (and don’t say that women can’t do anything without their men – look at Sarah Palin). Self-centred and self-serving, that is what the Republicans have become. Like a Repulic they want to be self-governing, with all the benefits going to themselves. A most fitting name for that party.

  6. #6 BaldApe
    October 11, 2008

    He chose a life of leisure, holidays in the Caymans, golf days with his friends, relaxation in the tropics, over and above helping his fellow Americans.

    And don’t forget the huge speaking fees he got, in Japan as I recall.

  7. #7 Science Avenger
    October 11, 2008

    “And after a long and difficult primary campaign in which his epitaph had been written many times, he got the nomination.”

    I’m not sure I’d call it that. McCain won by inertia, by hanging around long enough for the bottom feeders around him to expose themselves as the weakest Republican field in many memories. Fred Thompson thought we were still fighting the cold war, Mike Huckabee thinks the earth is 6,000 years old, and Mitt Romney’s political gyrating makes McCain’s positions on the issues look absolutely static by comparison. McCain became the winner by default – he got the “I guess vote”, as in “Who do you support?”, “I guess McCain”. He was the only one not clearly an idiot, a loony, or politically unprincipled.
    Once he got the nomination, he had to get the support of those factions to have any hope of winning, so he become politically unprincipled, and choose a loony idiot as a running mate. The real message of this election is that the Republican is going to have to revamp itself, and/or its political strategies, to have any hope of being competitive on the national scale again.

  8. #8 Chris Bell
    October 11, 2008

    a Byzantine electoral system in which you can win the popular vote by 500,000 and still not win the election.

    Pet peeve of mine.

    Imagine that we moved to a pure popular vote system. Eventually, there would be a very close election, and the madness of Florida 2000 would occur in every state.

    I’m willing to trade a little fairness in exchange for never having to deal with that.

  9. #9 Free Radical
    October 11, 2008

    There’s certainly no question that the Republican leadership will do whatever it takes to win the Presidency. There’s evidence that Ohio was stolen in 2004 just as egregiously as Florida in 2000, and in any case the Swift Boat attacks certainly showed a willingness to stoop below the boundaries of decency. Remember in 2004, when Republicans showed up to the RNC with Purple Hearts drawn on their Band-Aids in a mockery of Kerry’s war injuries? Can you imagine an Obama supporter saying of McCain: “Look, I’ve been tortured. It is NOT THAT BAD. He needs to get over it”?

    We can’t forget, however, the reason the Swift Boat attacks worked in the first place was that Kerry more or less chose to ignore them until it was too late. Being a military hero was more or less his main selling point outside of the Democratic establishment; he simply couldn’t believe that anyone would be able to attack his star-studded record and his many decorations. He apparently hadn’t paid much attention to how Karl Rove helped win Bush the nomination: convincing ignorant Southerners that McCain’s adopted Bangladeshi daughter was a black love child. Absolutely abominable.

    We ALSO can’t lose sight of the reason we are winning this election: the economic crisis, plain and simple. Democrats have an edge over Republicans on the economy in general, simply because their position is easier to understand: “we’ll give you money so you’ll have money” goes down much easier than “we’ll give this guy money so you’ll have money.” Before the crisis, this was a neck-and-neck election, with McCain sometimes several points in the lead. And Sarah Palin is certainly a loony, but she’s an appealing loony, and her appointment did exactly what it was supposed to do.

    Democrats must not forget that we are running not against people who disagree with us, but against people who HATE us. They hate us and they want us to be executed for treason. John McCain doesn’t hate us, but his supporters do – look at what’s been happening on the campaign trail. McCain supporters are calling Obama a traitor, an Arab (synonym for traitor in conservative-speak), and shouting for McCain to kill him. They’re not running against us – they’re at WAR with us. Of COURSE they’re going to do whatever it takes to win – you always do whatever it takes to win a war.

    They’re at war and we’re not. Anyone else worried about that situation?

  10. #10 Jason Rosenhouse
    October 11, 2008

    SteveF –

    I gave McCain a thimble full of credit for that in the post. His crocodile tears would be more convincing if he weren’t also running ads fomenting the smears he now seems unhappy about, if Palin weren’t reiniforcing those smears in her public appearances, and if there weren’t massive polling data showing that t is McCain who is being hurt b all of his negative campaigning.

    Thomas –

    What Trish said. Reagan had several good years after he left the Presidency and used them primarily to cash in on the lecture circuit.

    Science Avenger –

    I agree with your characterization of the Republican primary race, but I don’t think it contradicts the statement of mine that you quoted.

    Chris Bell –

    Even if you don’t want to go to a straight popular election, there are other changes that could be made. For example, we could have states apportion their electoral votes by congressional districts. That way the vote in the electoral college would more closely track the popular vote, but we would still have fifty state elections.

  11. #11 Science Avenger
    October 11, 2008

    Go back and look at the polls by date. McCain’s lead had evaporated and Obama had built a solid lead in places like Virginia by 9/20, long before the economic meltdown. It happened once the public started understanding just what an incompetent loon Palin is. Recall that McCain’s move to suspend his campaign and deal with the crisis came out of desperation because he had already fallen behind. I recognize that the economic disaster added to Obama’s advantage, but there is little indication that McCain would be winning otherwise. The Palin pick, despite the initial excitement, did him in, because the Rovian strategy of appealing only to the loony wingnut base is no longer demographically viable.

    Although, in retrospect, perhaps I should shut up and let everyone in the GOP think it was the economic meltdown that did McCain in. That way Palin will get out of this without the blame she deserves, and hopefully return in 2012 to doom the GOP once more.

  12. #12 JimCH
    October 11, 2008

    Who, besides those it systemically benefits, thinks that the electoral college system is still a good idea? This isn’t the 18th century. The country is not mostly illiterate farmers anymore. I can’t see why it is better to continue to allow states with more buffalo than people to have more say than the larger population states (& we all know which color states this benefits most & why it won’t change to the fair without a huge fight). Since every state gets at least 3 electors, low population states have proportionally far more political power than they would have in a direct election system. The number of voters per elector is many times smaller in the 3 elector states than in the most populous states. Also, the winner take all aspect is particularly annoying. In 2000, Bush took Florida by less than 600 votes (that’s out of 6 million) & because of that he took all 25 electoral votes. If Florida’s 25 electoral votes had been split 13 for Bush & 12 for Gore, then Gore would have become president in 2000. If we insist on keeping the electoral college (as Chris Bell would prefer) it could at least be more fair as Jason suggested. But also by simply increasing the size of the House.

  13. #13 mufi
    October 11, 2008

    If the current poll numbers hold up through Election Day (which I’m optimistic about), then the main concern for Obama supporters at this point should be electoral fraud in swing states.

    After all, I’m not convinced that the Republicans won the last two presidential elections fair and square (notwithstanding the relative tightness in those races), and I’ve not seen much in the way of encouraging developments since then. (If anything, the Republicans have gotten more sophisticated at purging lists of Democratic voters and rejecting valid ballots – e.g. see here.)

    mufi

  14. #14 Blake Stacey
    October 11, 2008

    Forget the election business — I’m still waiting for your follow-up post on that dopey Ivy League essay.

  15. #15 Robert O'Brien
    October 11, 2008

    …a corrupt Supreme Court stepping in to stop a state-mandated recount that subsequent research has shown would have led to a Gore victory…

    That is false Jason. Leave statistics to statisticians (like me).

  16. #16 Kevin
    October 11, 2008

    First, Jason, you do have the best reason to blog or not to blog. I, as a long time reader, just recently mentioned to some seed staff that you seemed to be SLACKING OFF! and that I looked forward to your next post. you have achieved tenure (I still have !!!CreationBlog!!! as my favorite) and are no longer even required to breath if you don’t want to.

    but anyway, this comment

    “And that was when the conscience-free Bush campaign launched a series of attacks on McCain that were of such unmitigated sleaziness, …. The attacks proved effective, and Bush won the nomination.”

    is not exactly correct as McCain continued on to win several primaries and then lose some more, in which Bush’s dirty tricks did not figure or effect the outcome, as in NC.

    I grant your central premise, but McCain, Like Palin, may have become more unpopular the more people got to know him.

  17. #17 Kevin
    October 11, 2008

    “Blaming Reagan for not doing any public service after his presidency is unfair. He was too old and sick to work at that point. Posted by: Thomas | October 11, 2008 4:45 AM ”

    HEY! that’s the same excuse you used when he didn’t do any public service DURING his presidency!!

  18. #18 Free Radical
    October 11, 2008

    Actually, Science Avenger, you’re right about the date by which McCain’s lead was gone, but wrong about the date on which the economic meltdown began. By September 20th, IndyMac, Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac were in crisis, and Lehman Brothers had declared bankruptcy. The subprime mortgage and lending crises had been on the make for several years, and by the second week in September it was obvious that things were beginning to go south.

    A good, illustrative example: CNN’s poll of polls reports that on September 4th, 2008, John McCain led Barack Obama 47 to 43. On September 5th, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported five-year unemployment highs. Oy September 6th, McCain was polling at 45%, Obama’s stock began to rise the next day, and on September 8th the race was 47 Obama, 45 McCain. FiveThirtyEight’s Super Tracker shows a HUGE spike in Obama’s favor, starting in EARLY September.

    It would be a mistake to underestimate the political impact of this economic crisis and assume that our tactics are winning us this election. If Iraq was still America’s priority, we’d be losing – to Sarah Palin as much as John McCain.

  19. #19 Free Radical
    October 11, 2008

    Also, JCH, as much as I hate to say it, there is at least ONE argument for the continued existence of the electoral college besides the “illiterate farmers” notion: State’s Rights.

    As the argument goes, the electoral college empowers every individual state to make its own demands of the presidential candidate – rather than having their interests subsumed by the general electorate. Seen from this light, the electoral college becomes a mechanism by which the populace elects the state government, which in turn elects the federal government.

    I – and most liberals, I think – tend to see the states as administrative units, functionally indistinguishable from the people that inhabit them. That being the case, I have no interest in ceding my voting rights to what is, in essence, a lower tier of the federal government. Many Republicans, however, see the USA as a loose confederation of self-governing bodies, in which case something like an electoral college makes good sense. How they manage to reconcile that with their fervent nationalism – or, for that matter, ANYTHING that happened in the last eight years – is beyond me. There’s a reason, though, that Sarah Palin can present herself as a patriot while also supporting the Alaskan Independence Party. They live in a strange universe.

  20. #20 Robert O'Brien
    October 11, 2008

    How they manage to reconcile that with their fervent nationalism – or, for that matter, ANYTHING that happened in the last eight years – is beyond me.

    The one thing George Bush accomplished for which I am grateful was the elevation of two justices to the Supreme Court who understand the proper role of the judiciary and the concept of judicial restraint.

  21. #21 Trin Tragula
    October 11, 2008

    A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly;

    Wha-a-a-t? So calling his wife a c**t in front of reporters was first class? Telling a crude joke about Clinton’s daughter was first class? Stories about McCain’s temper tantrums, well before the current campaign, are legion.

  22. #22 Trin Tragula
    October 11, 2008

    Supposing Obama gets elected; he would be 51 or 55 when he leaves office, presuming he serves full terms. That would leave him with a lot of ex-president time to fill.

  23. #23 JimCH
    October 11, 2008

    Free Radical…
    Granted, but I didn’t mean to imply that the “illiterate farmer” argument was the only argument. I merely highlighted what I think to be one of the worst arguments (I don’t consider any of the arguments robust, incidentally). My main point is that if you’re going to keep the system it could easily have much more interstate fairness built into it.

  24. #25 Nomen Nescio
    October 11, 2008

    Ralph Nader siphoning off 95,000 votes

    yeah, because those votes were in Gore’s gas tank already. they were his property, and Nader went and stole them, even though he had no right to try and convince people to vote for him instead of some random other candidate.

    and, hey, look at that horrible vote-siphoner George Bush! look at how many millions of Gore’s votes he siphoned off! you should be outraged at that sort of behavior, shouldn’t you?

    try listening to yourself more, maybe you won’t say quite such stupid things in the future.

  25. #26 Science Avenger
    October 11, 2008

    Free Radical: I think you are grossly overestimating the average American’s interest and understanding of financial markets. The political impact of a financial meltdown is going to coincide with the drop in the stock market, not by any reports of company bankruptcies. You think the average voters reads the financial pages or watches Moneyline? Voters notice things when it hits their pocketbook.

    The huge spike for Obama in early September correlates perfectly with when all of Palin’s idiocy starting coming to light, and they did notice that. Palin’s approval ratings were dropping points per day in early September. There was nothing comparable about the financial markets in that time. It’s not the financial crisis that has McCain’s rallies sounding like Klan rallies. It’s Palin.

    Whatever the reasons, let hope the lead holds.

  26. #27 Robert O'Brien
    October 11, 2008

    yeah, because those votes were in Gore’s gas tank already. they were his property, and Nader went and stole them, even though he had no right to try and convince people to vote for him instead of some random other candidate.

    No doubt Jason also decries Perot’s vote siphoning that paved the way for Clinton-Gore in the first place.

  27. #28 David Marjanovi?
    October 11, 2008

    He did his patriotic duty in that situation

    Well, frankly, his duty to the Constitution would have been to do something against the Supreme Court’s coup. After they robbed it from everyone else, only nine people had the right to vote in 2000, if you understand what I mean.

    Thomas you are wrong. Reagan was well enough to do public service for many years. His Presidential medical insurance ensured this. He chose a life of leisure, holidays in the Caymans, golf days with his friends, relaxation in the tropics, over and above helping his fellow Americans.

    Raygun already showed symptoms of Alzheimer’s before his presidency was over.

    Imagine that we moved to a pure popular vote system. Eventually, there would be a very close election, and the madness of Florida 2000 would occur in every state.

    Not if you voted in ink on paper and counted the ballots in the polling station, you know, the way First World countries do it. It is mind-boggling how easy it is to steal an American election.

    That is false[,] Jason. Leave statistics to statisticians (like me).

    You don’t need a statistician to count.

    Please.

  28. #29 Robert O'Brien
    October 11, 2008

    Marjanovi?,

    Please confine your delusions of adequacy to Europe. Gore did not win Florida or the 2000 election, period.

  29. #30 Prof. Bleen
    October 11, 2008

    That is false Jason. Leave statistics to statisticians (like me).

    Evidence, please–for either claim?

    Are you, by any chance, the same Robert O’Brien who has earned a prominent place near the top of PZ’s killfile for “Stupidity, Stupidity, Stupidity, Stupidity, Trolling, Wanking”? Looks like you’re at least 4 for 6 here.

  30. #31 Robert O'Brien
    October 11, 2008

    Evidence, please–for either claim?

    Misvotes, undervotes and overvotes: The 2000 presidential election in Florida

    Both Brett Presnell and Alan Agresti are statisticians of note. (Incidentally, I know for a fact that Brett Presnell is a Democrat.)

    Are you, by any chance, the same Robert O’Brien who has earned a prominent place near the top of PZ’s killfile…

    Yes. I typically have that effect on those who wish to remain in their deception and ignorance.

  31. #32 Nomen Nescio
    October 11, 2008

    moving to a pure popular vote for the U.S. presidency might make for a harshly contested, nationally close election at some point in the future, yes. then again, keeping the electoral college runs the risk of an electoral college tie, the resolution of which — while constitutionally clear enough — would probably be just as divisive and frustrating all around. there are no perfect electoral systems, but why should the system we’ve got be automatically better than a straight-up popular vote?

  32. #33 trrll
    October 12, 2008

    The true significance of the “maverick” label is that McCain has historically shown himself unable to lead, even within his own party. I think that McCain may well be a decent man at heart, but he has been unable to govern even his own campaign, acquiescing to scurrilous guilt-by-association and fear-mongering, only to back away when personally confronted with the consequences that choice. I suspect that the unfortunate decision to choose Palin as running mate, thereby fatally undermining his message on the importance of experience, was another example of allowing extreme right wing elements in his campaign to overrule his own better judgment. Very often, McCain’s heart seems to be in the right place, as when he spoke out against torture, but here again he ultimately folded, lining up with his party to vote against the bill that would have stopped it. If McCain wins, chances are strong that we will have another 4 years of a president being manipulated by the most extreme right-wing elements of the Republican Party.

  33. #34 dreikin
    October 12, 2008

    Robert O’Brien: From the paper you cited:

    7. Summary

    In many ways, the 2000 Presidential election in Florida appeared to be a “statistical tie.” The difference between the state-certified vot for Gore and Bush is likely to be be much smaller than the potential number of additional votes if all truly legal votes could be accurately counted. Evidence provided by the inspection of ballots in the NORC Florida Ballots Project supports this conclusion.

    Sadly, there was a very large number of illegal votes, as well as votes apparently cast for other than the intended candidate, due to such factors as the butterfly ballot, the two-column and two-page ballots, voter confusion and voter carelessness. Much of the available information suggests that these factors worked primarily against Al Gore, perhaps in the magnitude of thousands, or even tens of thousands of votes.

    (Typos mine)

    So,
    1) From a purely statistical standpoint (paragraph 1), it’s a tie – the available statistical methods are not sufficient to establish a clear winner.
    2) From an analytical standpoint (paragraph 2), Al Gore should have won.

  34. #35 Robert O'Brien
    October 12, 2008

    (Typos mine)

    So,
    1) From a purely statistical standpoint (paragraph 1), it’s a tie – the available statistical methods are not sufficient to establish a clear winner.
    2) From an analytical standpoint (paragraph 2), Al Gore should have won.

    You did not interpret the article correctly. Miscast votes do not count. It does not matter how many more votes Al Gore would have received if his supporters were not so stupid as to misread a ballot approved by a Democrat. As for the votes actually cast that can legally be counted, Al Gore “wins” only if the deck is stacked in his favor. He did not win by any remotely objective metric.

  35. #36 dreikin
    October 12, 2008

    “Miscast votes do not count [and so on]” Correct, but also irrelevant. Legally, we already know Bush won, so the only obvious topic is what *should* be the case, if everything had been handled correctly. According to the paper you cited,

    [...] the National Opinion Re-
    search Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago
    analyzed the rejected ballots. Their Florida Ballots
    Project has developed computer data bases based on
    detailed inspections of the 175,010 rejected ballots
    from all 6,000 Florida precincts. The New York Times
    reported (November 12, 2001) that the winner of
    the recounted election would have varied according
    to the standard used to determine voter intent, but
    that in every scenario the margin was narrower than
    Bush’s final 537 vote lead.

    Most of the paper’s conclusions are like this: There is insufficient data to prove one way or the other. However, there is one section that mentions data that would be relevant to a recount, had it occurred:

    An analysis, published by The Miami Herald and
    several other newspapers (May 11, 2001), reviewed
    111,000 overvotes and 61,000 undervotes in Florida.
    Of the overvotes, Gore was marked on 84,197 ballots
    and Bush on 37,731. Voter intent was clear on only 3%
    of these ballots (e.g., on some ballots voters had both
    voted for Gore and written his name on the write-in
    line). These overvotes, if counted, would have yielded
    a net of 682 more votes for Gore than Bush.

    So, in the one area they could make a definite declaration with regard to votes that could be properly counted but we not, the evidence points toward the claim that the vote should have been awarded to Gore. Further, the other sections support, but are not sufficient to conclude, that Gore should have won. (Such as, you know, the summary where they state that plainly).

    “Al Gore ‘wins’ only if the deck is stacked in his favor.” The paper does not make, nor support, that assertion. Are you keeping evidence from us?

  36. #37 David Marjanovi?
    October 12, 2008

    As for the votes actually cast that can legally be counted, Al Gore “wins” only if the deck is stacked in his favor. He did not win by any remotely objective metric.

    Untrue.

    Have a look here: even when Buchanan, McReynolds, illegal purging of voter lists, illegally unprocessed voter registration forms and so on are completely ignored, Gore won by any legal way to count votes in Florida.

    Stay on that site and its links for a few hours. You will learn a lot (…provided that your reputation is wrong and you actually can process that much information).

    Yes. I typically have that effect on those who wish to remain in their deception and ignorance.

    And you really don’t notice that you’re projecting?

  37. #38 pough
    October 12, 2008

    try listening to yourself more, maybe you won’t say quite such stupid things in the future.

    Metaphors aren’t meant to be so literal. It’s not about ownership of votes, but about where those votes would have gone without Nader. Try listening to yourself more. Maybe you won’t say such stupid things in the future.

  38. #39 Robert O'Brien
    October 12, 2008

    Untrue.

    Have a look here: even when Buchanan, McReynolds, illegal purging of voter lists, illegally unprocessed voter registration forms and so on are completely ignored, Gore won by any legal way to count votes in Florida.

    So sorry, dumb ass, but I am not about to prefer partisan bellyachers to experts. You do not understand mathematics or statistics and it shows. Please restrict your delusions of adequacy to ‘paleobiology.’ (Which qualifies you to critique Jurrasic Park but little else.)

  39. #40 Robert O'Brien
    October 12, 2008

    So, in the one area they could make a definite declaration with regard to votes that could be properly counted but we not, the evidence points toward the claim that the vote should have been awarded to Gore. Further, the other sections support, but are not sufficient to conclude, that Gore should have won. (Such as, you know, the summary where they state that plainly).

    “Al Gore ‘wins’ only if the deck is stacked in his favor.” The paper does not make, nor support, that assertion. Are you keeping evidence from us?

    This is not difficult. Look here. (This link was cited in the article.) Also see Judge Posner’s article in The Vote.

  40. #41 Robert O'Brien
    October 12, 2008

    By the way, an overvote is just as invalid as a vote ‘meant’ for one candidate but marked for another.

  41. #42 mk
    October 12, 2008

    OK, I usually do not go here, but no kidding… this O’Brien character really is one of the most intellectually dishonest, ignorant, deeply insecure, dimwits loitering the interenets. It really is embarrassing to watch.

  42. #43 David Marjanovi?
    October 12, 2008

    So sorry, dumb ass [sic], but I am not about to prefer partisan bellyachers to experts. You do not understand mathematics or statistics and it shows.

    You managed to completely miss my point, and you make an ad hominem attack against the source I cite — without even noticing that this source cites nonpartisan sources for each and every number it presents!

    Are you sure you are capable of logical thinking?

    Please restrict your delusions of adequacy to ‘paleobiology.’ [sic] (Which qualifies you to critique Jurrasic [sic] Park but little else.)

    You’re just jealous. :-)

    By the way, an overvote is just as invalid as a vote ‘meant’ for one candidate but marked for another.

    And if you do not count a single overvote, Gore still won by 107 votes.

    Do you know what this shows? It shows that you looked at the URL of my source and decided, in an ad hominem argument, that you didn’t need to look at it. Pathetic. My previous paragraph is demonstrated right at the top of that website (chapter 1).

    You keep accusing people of having “delusions of adequacy”. You evidently labor under delusions of mediocrity when in fact you are in the left tail of the Gauss curve.

  43. #44 Robert O'Brien
    October 12, 2008

    OK, I usually do not go here, but no kidding… this O’Brien character really is one of the most intellectually dishonest, ignorant, deeply insecure, dimwits loitering the interenets. It really is embarrassing to watch.

    Bitch please. Liberals typically wax bilious when you prick their fantasy bubbles with reality and this one is no exception.

    mk,

    Gore lost the election; move on, loser. McCain was a skillful pilot; accept it, dumb ass.

  44. #45 Robert O'Brien
    October 12, 2008

    And if you do not count a single overvote, Gore still won by 107 votes.

    Stop pretending that you know what you are talking about. If you had checked out those allegedly ‘nonpartisan’ sources, then you would have cited them, instead of citing a web site that cites them. Only fools rely on internet sources. By way of contrast, I have done the responsible thing, which is to make recourse to original sources with relevant expertise. Gore did not win FL by any objective metric.

    Incidentally, I should not even be having this discussion with you. I assure you that I care even less for the clueless political opining of foreign leftists than I do for domestic leftists. (If that were possible.)

  45. #46 David Marjanovi?
    October 12, 2008

    If you had checked out those allegedly ‘nonpartisan’ sources, then you would have cited them, instead of citing a web site that cites them.

    There are three reasons I didn’t.

    - The site I cited provides a nice synthesis of all those different sources.
    - ScienceBlogs comments with more than two or sometimes three links go to moderation. It’s Sunday afternoon in America, so I expect Prof. Rosenhouse to do other things for the next few hours.
    - I wouldn’t have thought that you’re too lazy to click on the links in my source.

    And finally, complaining that a source is partisan is an ad hominem argument. Show me that it is wrong, rather than simply assuming it.

    Two clicks away from my source is this page which lists the members of the Board of Trustees of the organization that found Gore to have won by 107 votes. Why didn’t you go there yourself? Most of them are university professors, BTW, in case you want your ad hominem argument handed back to you on a silver plate.

    Incidentally, I should not even be having this discussion with you. I assure you that I care even less for the clueless political opining of foreign leftists than I do for domestic leftists.

    You don’t give me that impression. Instead, you give me the impression that you’re deeply afraid my source might be right, and try very hard to convince yourself it isn’t. It’s often the case that the greatest missionaries are those with the greatest private doubts…

    ————————-

    Whether McCain was a good pilot doesn’t matter. Whether he would make a good president does.

  46. #47 Robert O'Brien
    October 12, 2008

    Most of them are university professors, BTW, in case you want your ad hominem argument handed back to you on a silver plate.

    That and a dime won’t get you a gumball from a gumball machine. What do I care what a sociologist, a biologist, or a business professor thinks? I do care what statisticians think and a judge thinks, however.

    You don’t give me that impression. Instead, you give me the impression that you’re deeply afraid my source might be right, and try very hard to convince yourself it isn’t. It’s often the case that the greatest missionaries are those with the greatest private doubts…

    Your cyber-psychoanalysis is about as impressive as your grasp of mathematics, statistics, and the U.S.

  47. #48 mk
    October 12, 2008

    Gore lost the election; move on, loser. McCain was a skillful pilot; accept it, dumb ass.

    Speaking of delusional. Heh-heh-heh….

    One more time now… with feelin’!, Insecure, ignorant, intellectually dishonest and dimwitted. Each post painfully reinforces this. It’s OK though Robert… there is room for much improvement. Hang in there.

    Oh yeah, and McCain? Skillful pilot? *CRASH!!* (oops.)

    And 894th out of 899. Also, like Dubya, he’s deeply proud of his “C student” standing in the world.

    *snicker-snicker*

  48. #49 mk
    October 12, 2008

    Sorry… meant to provide a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsiADdmoh3E

  49. #50 Nomen Nescio
    October 12, 2008

    It’s not about ownership of votes, but about where those votes would have gone without Nader.

    why play what-if games about a world without Nader, in particular? why not fantasize about a world in which Gore did not run, or where Bush was not a candidate?

    choosing the third-party candidate in particular for this kind of exercise makes an implicit assumption that yes, all the votes are belong to the major parties and any non-major party candidates are poaching on their betters’ territory. i reject that attitude.

    what if Nader hadn’t run, eh? well, people voted for Nader over Gore for a reason. maybe, perish the thought, they felt Nader would better represent them, or that the green party’s platform would be a better one to support than the democrats’. if the dems had really wanted those votes, perhaps they should have tried, y’know, standing for what those voters wanted in their representative? instead of daydreaming, years after the fact, about a world in which nobody tried to run on such a platform, or tried to represent such ideas.

  50. #51 Robert O'Brien
    October 13, 2008

    I should have paid better attention to Marjanovic’s braying. The web site Marjanovic cited cites the same data I did, except they cite it dishonestly. And although the people listed on the page Marjanovic linked to are not statisticians, Kirk Wolter, who headed the project on the ballots, is a statistician of note.

    Again, the results of various recount schemes using the data of the ballot project can be calculated here. As I wrote previously, Gore only ‘wins’ when the deck is stacked in his favor.

    Don’t trust Marjanovic or his internet source, as both are full of ****.

  51. #52 pough
    October 13, 2008

    why play what-if games about a world without Nader, in particular? why not fantasize about a world in which Gore did not run, or where Bush was not a candidate?

    Because it was a very close election. Wasn’t that obvious?

    choosing the third-party candidate in particular for this kind of exercise makes an implicit assumption that yes, all the votes are belong to the major parties and any non-major party candidates are poaching on their betters’ territory. i reject that attitude.

    Ah, now I get it. You’re making shit up and then blaming Jason for it. Nice.

  52. #53 David Marjanovi?
    October 13, 2008

    What do I care what a sociologist, a biologist, or a business professor thinks?

    What they count, not what they think.

    I do care what statisticians think

    About questions like the abnormally high vote for Buchanan, sure. This is, however, not what I’m talking about, as I have already tried to explain to you three times.

    and a judge thinks, however.

    That judge makes a number of interesting but untested assumptions before the snippet preview ends.

    Most interesting, however, is that he claims the recount that was done should never have been ordered. This is outrageous in a democracy. The very point of not immediately burning all ballots is to be able to recount them again and again whenever any doubt, however unreasonable, is raised.

    (And when the results of different recounts don’t converge, or when there’s reason to suspect any problem with letting people vote for their preferences — confusing ballots, illegal voter roll purges… — the election is usually repeated, but that’s something that the American election laws seem to have an irrational horror of.)

    Your cyber-psychoanalysis is about as impressive as

    And yours?

    Again, the results of various recount schemes using the data of the ballot project can be calculated here.

    That’s a link to the New York Times which doesn’t cite any source for its data, as far as I can see. Why is that better than the Media Consortium count, the Miami Herald count, or the sum of those listed in Chapter 3 of my source?

    Don’t trust Marjanovic or his internet source, as both are full of ****.

    And we’re back to the ad hominem arguments. Feels good to be home again.

  53. #54 David Marjanovi?
    October 13, 2008

    Incidentally, democrats.org is obviously not nonpartisan, but is the NY Times one? The newspaper that kept saying “WMD! WMD!” months after the whole rest of the world just laughed anymore? Ad hominem arguments have a tendency to go both ways.

  54. #55 David Marjanovi?
    October 13, 2008

    Should have been “a nonpartisan source”.

  55. #56 Nomen Nescio
    October 13, 2008

    no, pough, i’m defending third parties’ rights to run candidates against the major parties’ candidates, on platforms that compete with what the major parties stand for, even when the two major parties are using platforms so similar to one another that the election ends up being very close. if you think this amounts to “making shit up”, then maybe you need a refresher course in something called democracy.

    sheesh, and here i thought my quip about “stupidity” was just hyperbole designed to attract attention and set people to thinking critically. shows how much i knew about the audience here…

  56. #57 Dan
    October 13, 2008

    @Robert O’Brien

    Please let us know what an “objective metric” is, at least from your point of view. dreikin did an excellent job of finding and quoting relevant evidence for his claims. That is the best a rational person can do in such a situation. Yes, I am a professional in statistics. The most I see from you is a shoulder shrug and pointless personal attacks. That’s not convincing to anyone who cares about the underlying.

    Please quote evidence for your claims, and why you think dreikin is wrong.

  57. #58 Dan
    October 13, 2008

    @Robert O’Brien

    PS: What exactly do you mean by “stacked in his favor”? Are you alleging that the statistical methods are a priori favoring Gore? Is your professional opinion that Gore supporters are a priori more likely to be “stupid” or “confused”?

  58. #59 Klaus
    October 13, 2008

    Straying from the current discussion, just yesterday I watched an episode from the Daily Show, starring Bill Clinton. I’m from Germany, so I don’t get to see much of him on our television anymore. He said something that got me. He explained that after the dot com bubble, there was money floating around (remember, money won’t disappear, just change the owner), and it was then that it started going into houses. Mr. Clinton said that it would have been better if the money went into new energy sources (solar power, wind power and so on), and it sounded feasible, especially its long term effects. He expressed it better then I did, and it could be that directing the money in such projects, maybe with tax cuts on them and so on, really was on the Democrats agenda. But the experience watching this was the same for me as reading that post here. A revelation indeed.
    I think there aren’t any blog entries I ever read that excited unsettled me more than this one, because now I know what could have been. Bush is a terrible president, but looking at the alternatives he becomes even worse.

  59. #60 SLC
    October 13, 2008

    Just for the information of those still wasting time on this thread, the Idiot of the Month Robert O’Brien award has been announced.

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2008/10/robert_obrien_trophy_winner_re.php#more

  60. #61 Robert O'Brien
    October 13, 2008

    PS: What exactly do you mean by “stacked in his favor”? Are you alleging that the statistical methods are a priori favoring Gore? Is your professional opinion that Gore supporters are a priori more likely to be “stupid” or “confused”?

    Gore only ‘wins’ with overvotes, which are invalid. Anything involving hanging chads, flapping chads, sunlit chads, or pregnant chads gives Florida to George Bush (again).

    If everyone had been intelligent enough to vote for the person he intended to vote for, then Al Gore might very well have won Florida and the Presidency, but so what. You can only count legitimate votes cast on the day of the election (or absentee).

  61. #62 pough
    October 13, 2008

    no, pough, i’m defending third parties’ rights to run candidates against the major parties’ candidates … if you think this amounts to “making shit up” …

    What I meant by “making shit up” was you’re putting words in Jason’s mouth and then blaming him for those words, not that you invented the idea of more than two parties. He didn’t say Nader didn’t have any right to be a candidate, only that his candidacy ended up having the effect of reducing some votes that otherwise would have gone to Gore.

    then maybe you need a refresher course in something called democracy.

    Considering I come from a nation that isn’t quite reduced to only two viable parties (something I find very reassuring), I don’t think I do.

    shows how much i knew about the audience here…

    What am I, plural? You do know that you’re having a discussion with a single person, don’t you? And that nobody else that reads or posts here is also me? One person does not an audience make. I’m not going to judge an entire audience by one person’s posts, but I will treat some individuals to the killfile.

  62. #63 Robert O'Brien
    October 13, 2008

    That’s a link to the New York Times which doesn’t cite any source for its data, as far as I can see.

    The link to the vote calculator is from the paper by statisticians Agresti and Presnell.

    “The New York Times
    reported (November 12, 2001) that the winner of
    the recounted election would have varied according
    to the standard used to determine voter intent, but
    that in every scenario the margin was narrower than
    Bush�s final 537 vote lead. As of this writing, the
    web pages of The New York Times provide an interactive
    feature (http://www.nytimes.com/images/2001/11/
    12/politics/recount/) that uses the NORC data to compute
    the Florida vote that would have resulted from a
    recount under various standards for determining voter
    intent.”

    Incidentally, democrats.org is obviously not nonpartisan, but is the NY Times one? The newspaper that kept saying “WMD! WMD!” months after the whole rest of the world just laughed anymore? Ad hominem arguments have a tendency to go both ways.

    The New York Times has endorsed John McCain, Gore, and Kerry against George Bush, and yet you would have us believe that they have rigged their interactive vote calculator so that he wins. Uh-huh. You and mk may be that dumb, but I am not.

  63. #64 Nomen Nescio
    October 13, 2008

    He didn’t say Nader didn’t have any right to be a candidate, only that his candidacy ended up having the effect of reducing some votes that otherwise would have gone to Gore.

    and, see, there you’re doing it again — assuming that folks who vote for third-party candidates would otherwise have voted for your favorite major-party candidate. that’s the exact same fallacy, the assuming that all the electorate is naturally split up between the two major parties and third parties somehow unnaturally bias that field. (FWIW, i immigrated from a multiparty parliamentary democracy in adulthood, so yeah, i know what that looks like too.)

    geez, i’m starting to think this might be how feminists feel when trying to point out the effects of patriarchy, or perhaps what people of color might feel when talking systemic racism to us white folks.

    saying that Nader voters would have voted Gore but for Nader’s candidacy, or equivalently that Gore would have won but for Nader running, is slighting the concept of third parties running by implicitly blaming the loss of a major party’s candidate on a minor party candidate. a mistake which, by the way, Gore himself is not small-minded enough to make. now killfile me and bugger the hells off my case, because your stubborn refusal to understand that simple fact is pissing me off.

  64. #65 mk
    October 13, 2008

    If everyone had been intelligent enough to vote for the person he intended to vote for, then Al Gore might very well have won Florida and the Presidency, but so what.

    Thank you for your candor. Your anti-democratic heartlight shines!

    Intent matters in a democracy. The will of the people. Presidents should not “win” on a technicality. That’s banana republic stuff. The confusion with certain ballots crossed party lines by the way. It wasn’t lack of intelligence, it was sincere confusion… Republicans, Independents, Libertarians and Democrats all.

    And yes, finally, your are indeed that dumb.

  65. #66 Dan
    October 13, 2008

    @Robert

    Gore only ‘wins’ with overvotes, which are invalid. Anything involving hanging chads, flapping chads, sunlit chads, or pregnant chads gives Florida to George Bush (again).

    Well then we have to understand what you mean by “stacked”. Because in my view, “stacked in his favor” implies that the person doing the “stacking” knows that the stacking will benefit one participant over the other. There’s no a priori correlation between “ability to fill out a voting card” and “who will you vote for”.

    You are pretending to be objective, but your bias shows: to you, confusing ballots are not OK, but faulty voting machines are. Both are bad for democracy, and, as pointed out above, in both cases the intent is what matters.

  66. #67 Leni
    October 14, 2008

    Nomen Nescio wrote:

    …assuming that folks who vote for third-party candidates would otherwise have voted for your favorite major-party candidate. that’s the exact same fallacy, the assuming that all the electorate is naturally split up between the two major parties and third parties somehow unnaturally bias that field.

    Well, we only need to assume that some of those voters would have, not all.

    Incidentally, there have been polls on the matter:

    Among Nader voters, 45 percent said they would have voted for Mr. Gore, 27 percent said they would have voted for Mr. Bush, and the rest said they would not have voted.

    In California, where Mr. Nader received 4 percent of the vote, 46 percent said they would have voted for Mr. Gore and only 14 percent said they would have gone for Mr. Bush.

    Because there is no reason to believe the breakdown was not similarly lopsided in other states, it is safe to assume that Mr. Nader cost Mr. Gore states that Mr. Bush narrowly won.

    In Florida, Mr. Nader received 97,488 votes, 1.6 percent of the total, and Mr. Bush carried the state by 537 votes. In New Hampshire, Mr. Nader won 22,198 votes, 3.9 percent of the total, and Mr. Bush carried the state by 7,211 votes. Had Mr. Gore won in either state, he would have become president.

    My guess is that this would be because Nader is, for the most part, further to the left than Gore. Most of the votes would have gone to Gore and that’s what Nader supporters appear to have said themselves. In the states where the vote was really close, it definitely could have made a difference, and there is no fallacy in remarking upon that.

  67. #68 mamasgoosey
    October 14, 2008

    leni, thanks for repeating the obvious after you quote a better version of it. Or are you just reassuring your compadres that you understand it.

  68. #69 Nomen Nescio
    October 14, 2008

    “no fallacy”? i’m not saying it’s any fallacy, i’ve been trying to ask what the purpose of such hypothesizing is. i’ll be blunt about it yet again: the purpose of asking what the 2000 election would have looked like without Nader is to blame Gore’s loss on something other than Gore’s campaing; to make Nager a scapegoat and to dream of a world in which third parties would not be allowed to “spoil” the elections for the major parties by having the temerity to actually run candidates.

    what other purpose were you trying to serve, leni? i’m betting “none”, unless maybe you’ve managed to deceive yourself about it.

  69. #70 Leni
    October 14, 2008

    the purpose of asking what the 2000 election would have looked like without Nader is to blame Gore’s loss on something other than Gore’s campaing; to make Nager a scapegoat and to dream of a world in which third parties would not be allowed to “spoil” the elections for the major parties by having the temerity to actually run candidates.

    Well, I’m sure that is “the” purpose of some people, but it certainly isn’t the only purpose people care about how 3rd party votes affect outcomes. Elections are interesting, complicated affairs and we like to understand them. Is there something inherently bad about about that?

    I might add that any of the information gained from analyzing elections could be used for the nefarious purpose of smearing Nader could just as well suit 3rd party candidates, who would presumably want to have an impact on elections and would like to know whether or not they did, and to what extent. Information is like that: it can be used for whatever purpose you want to use it- that doesn’t make it bad.

    As to your point that Gore’s loss was due solely to his campaign, I can only say that sounds to like an over-simplified asnwer. There is more than just Gore’s campaign in play, and I shouldn’t have to point that out. Not to mention, how would you know if it was only Gore’s campaign unless you checked? You just assume that it’s true, but it was just a declaration.

    Beyond that, you seem more than a little defensive about the whole thing. I don’t care about Nader, and I don’t blame him for the loss of the election, but it strikes me as disengenuous to say that it wasn’t a factor or that it is dubious to even ask the question. The fact remains that knowing how 3rd party candidates influence elections is potentially very useful information for all of us, not just those of us who want to smear Nader.

  70. #71 mamasgoosey
    October 14, 2008

    Leni, it should be obvious to all but perhaps yourself that Nader knew he couldn’t win, and that therefor his participation could well skew the election more toward a win by Bush, as his policies were clearly more aligned with Gore’s than Bush’s. Third party candidates on the national level are almost certain to be spoilers in some fashion as there are no runoffs in most national elections, especially those for president. Nader persisted in running regardless in what had to be an egotistic if not ego-maniacal need to establish his own importance, the public good be damned.
    Sort of like your need for ultimately insipid commentary.

  71. #72 Nomen Nescio
    October 14, 2008

    leni:

    did i ever claim this information wasn’t useful? i’ve been objecting to how it is used — y’know, that thing you’re now handwaving away — rather cavalierly, in my opinion — as not your department.

    and yeah, i am defensive about third parties’ right to run. that’s a personal gotcha with me, stemming mostly from the fact that i hate the two-party system in general. i’ll make no apologies for this.

    mamasgoosey:

    it should be obvious to all but perhaps yourself that Nader knew he couldn’t win

    i’m trying to imagine a worse reason for not running, but it’s a hard slog uphill. care to help me out? considering you’re apparently quite good at coming up with them…

  72. #73 mamasgoosey
    October 14, 2008

    Well Norman, the point is that he was aware of the alternate consequences by running nevertheless. So the focus has to be on the reason FOR running other than to win. I know this is a bit complicated, as your position so far has been as simplistic as Leni’s.

  73. #74 Leni
    October 14, 2008

    did i ever claim this information wasn’t useful? i’ve been objecting to how it is used…

    Actually, you said the purpose of such an exercise was to smear Nader:

    the purpose of asking what the 2000 election would have looked like without Nader is to blame Gore’s loss on something other than Gore’s campaing; to make Nager a scapegoat…

    Which leads me to think that you are forgetting some other, fairly obvious “purpsoses” for the exercise. And you apparently failed to notice that I posted a link describing polls of Nader voters who by and large said they would have voted for Gore, but for Nader.

    Earlier, you said:

    …choosing the third-party candidate in particular for this kind of exercise makes an implicit assumption that yes, all the votes are belong to the major parties and any non-major party candidates are poaching on their betters’ territory. i reject that attitude.

    And I am telling you: no it doesn’t. You admit as much when you concede that “choosing the third-party candidate in particular for this kind of exercise” can provide useful information for all parties, and indeed all of us.

    and yeah, i am defensive about third parties’ right to run. that’s a personal gotcha with me, stemming mostly from the fact that i hate the two-party system in general. i’ll make no apologies for this.

    Well, no one asked you to apologize. And no one is questioning the “right” of third party candidates to run. I don’t love the two party system either, but you are acting as if even criticizing, questioning or analyzing the Nader candidacy or vote is some sort of offense. It isn’t.

    That’s what happens when you run for president. Repeatedly. Despite the fact that you know you will not win.

  74. #75 mamasgoosey
    October 14, 2008

    Was there a conclusion in there somewhere other than it is what it is?

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