Except the site was down. But really, if only it had been working for the last few days…that would have won me the Pulitzer. Sorry about the inconvenience. Did anyone notice?
I don’t think we should be surprised at all when the government comes up with a 700 billion dollar sack of our money and suddenly everybody shows up with a hand outstretched to get a piece of it. Big investment banks, little investment banks, credit card companies, car manufacturers and energy providers all want a piece of the action. Lobbyists must be busier than bees in a spring meadow.
OK, I get it. If we don’t help out all the banks who made bad and/or predatory loans then many more houses will go into foreclosure and that will seriously damage our economy. I understand, if we don’t help out our neighbors who bought more house than they can afford, and a new car and boat to boot, then there will be foreclosures and the value of my house will decrease!
Anybody who didn’t make one of these poor decisions is faced with Morton’s fork. We either reward poor judgment and pay for it with our taxes, or we suffer the consequences of not doing so and pay for it with perhaps years of recession.
I’ve already complained about that though. The point I want to make here is familiar to anyone who’s sat through the 1168 pages of Atlas Shrugged. As soon as the government offers help, the race towards the bottom begins where company leaders and upstanding citizens alike scramble shoulder to shoulder on their knees begging for money. Imagine the overwhelming power it must imbue Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson with, to nearly single handedly decide who will receive the taxpayer’s money and who won’t.
Perhaps the best solution would be to bite the bullet and suffer the downturn while the world economy corrects itself from markets escalated to fantasy territories. It’s often said that the poor suffer the most from downturns and this will be a world-wide crisis so we’re talking about poor nations along with poor citizens. However, if were to resist socializing losses, it might give those poor nations a bit of a boost as they catch up to the rich nations suddenly taken down a peg by their own lack of judgment. Wouldn’t that be a truly social thing to do? Just a thought. What do you think?
In my last post, I admitted that I can’t take any credit for Mr. Obama’s election, but I think McCain, or at least his campaign, can. From a marketing standpoint, McCain failed to differentiate, present a clear message, and neglected to show how he would fill needs of his market. Beyond the marketing failures, here are some highlights of how his campaign failed to capture the White house:
Not being presidential. Mr. McCain was most impressive in his last debate and above all, in his gracious concession speech. Unfortunately, most of the time, though, McCain appeared more erratic than maverick. During the recent climax to the credit crisis, McCain’s antics of ‘freezing his campaign’ were a gamble he didn’t really have to make. It had little upside, and plenty of downside. Instead of appearing a steady hand at the tiller, McCain looked like a desperate candidate looking for ways to get on the voter’s good side.
Choosing Sarah Palin. Conservatives loved Ms. Palin. But would they really have stayed home without her? They were going to have to hold socially conservative noses to vote for McCain but given the boos and heckles during McCain’s concession speech, they weren’t going to hesitate to vote for him. What Ms. Palin did was scare away the very moderates that McCain actually had a chance with. Many a libertarian and Ron Paul supporter would have joined the nose holding social conservatives and voted for McCain in the hopes that he might have been able to make good on his fiscally conservative promises. But with the unqualified Palin on the ticket, they sure weren’t going to risk it. For example, Mr. Obama may not have won my vote, but McCain surely lost it the moment he selected the inexperienced and extremist Palin. In other words, he traded shoring up the base for the entire middle. Seems like a terrible idea.
Going negative. Well, let’s face it, strictly speaking, Obama’s campaign went more negative than McCain’s. After all, Obama had so many more ads than McCain did, that he had more negative ads too. But it’s clear to anyone watching television in a battleground state like Colorado, that the balance of Obama’s ads were positive vote for me because ads and not McCain’s don’t vote for him because ads. Negative ads work though, so why didn’t they work for McCain? First, because, unlike Mr. Rove, the McCain campaign couldn’t seem to pick a winner. There was no swift-boat that they could find to stick. So instead of staying with the only one I thought might work (Mr. Obama spent 20 years in the church of a downright anti-American preacher) they went from one claim to another and just looked like a bunch of complainers. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign stuck with their one and only swift-boat: that McCain is no maverick at all, but rather more of the ~20% approval rating Bush administration.
Not spending (well, having) enough money. Pundits and bloggers are going on about how there was no way McCain could have won with so much less money than Obama. That’s fair, I guess, Democrats complained about the same thing with Bush. But here’s the thing: who donated all that cash? McCain couldn’t generate the cash that Obama had because he never held on to a message long enough to get people on his side. Obama’s campaign didn’t always have all this money: people flocked to him because he inspired them to open up their wallets and get him elected. Complain about it if you wish, but it says something (good) that there was so much money in the campaign. If you really don’t like this sort of thing, then push for campaign finance limits. Or better yet, spend some of your money on the campaign you want to win the election: that’s your free-speech right! Obviously loads big and small donors exercised that right.
Failing to notice that the Obama campaign was a new and different campaign which spent less time convincing people and more time encouraging them to join the team. This might be key element of the Obama campaign. People felt a part of something. Obama could sit back and look presidential in the face of attacks because he was ahead and in the closing weeks of the campaign, early voters were turning out for Obama while McCain’s campaign was struggling to find a message. Obama’s recruits enthusiastically hit the streets and found others to join them. Together they motivated a record turn out. If Mr. Obama can continue that enthusiasm forward, it may not only be the most important lesson for campaigns, but the true legacy of his presidency.
Let’s get this out there right away: I didn’t vote for Mr. Obama. But, like many, around the entire world (!) I am glad to have him as the president of the United States. It’s a significant achievement. Not only because he is (part) black. Not only because he’s actually seen more of the world than only our neighboring countries. Not only because it will be a relief to have a president who can form a complete sentence. Perhaps most important, was how the Obama campaign inspired and rallied 134 million voters (64% of eligible voters), many, many of them brand new voters, to go to the polls and to feel enfranchised in the United States.
I suspect that the huge bump in world-wide public relations will fade all too rapidly, at least Mr. Obama does appear to be able to speak to foreign leaders without embarrassing the United States. I’m afraid that the news for African Americans is mixed. Many will see Mr. Obama’s election as proof that the nation has arrived at true racial equality. In spite of a new black president, the statistics for black Americans didn’t changed on November 4th and the statistics don’t look any better in terms of incarceration rates and poverty for African Americans. There are two sides to the “Yes You Can” mantra. The feeling that you can succeed is yoked to the responsibility to do the work, and unfortunately, many African Americans are starting off with a disadvantage, whether it’s of their own making or not.
I don’t believe Mr. Obama won by motivating the ‘black’ vote (and certainly not elected because the world is so ecstatic about our choice). It’s quite likely that many did not vote for him because he is black. Many more appreciated the historic nature of the election and voted, in part, for him because he is black. More importantly, the campaign will be an unmistakable lesson for future politicians.
Mr. Obama’s campaign was about motivating, and inspiring people to become part of the campaign itself. Mr. Obama has already been compared with John F. Kennedy. His campaign, and hopefully his presidency, has not been only about what he will do, or what damage his opponent would do. Instead supporters were asked to “hope” and work for “change.” They were asked to become part of the solution and not only vote, but get the vote our from others. During his acceptance speech the theme continued. Mr. Obama told supporters, as well as those whose supports he has not yet won, that there is much work to be done and he needs their help.
“Ask not what your country can do for you…” John Kennedy said, and he too was an inspiring president. For a libertarian, my hope is that Mr. Obama’s administration will continue this theme; for it shakes the foundation of entitlement that has grown so prevalent, aided in no small part by President Bush, in the United States today.
Conservatives are worried that the Democrats will only raise taxes. I worry too, but if my choice had only been between Republican and Democrat (it wasn’t!) I would not have had any confidence that the incessant claims of what McCain and Palin would do for their constituents to win their vote seemed to me just more entitlement, akin to Bush’s promise that a war in Iraq wouldn’t trouble Americans with any inconvenience, be over in a few months, only cost $60 million, and that the best way to defeat the terrorists was to go out and shop.
Even though he didn’t get my vote, I join African Americans, Democrats, new voters, most of my friends and the majority of American voters in their excitement about the promise of our new President. I join people in Kenyan villages, Indonesian schools, Australian pubs, a city in Japan which shares the name of Obama, and people all across Europe and much of the world who stayed up late just to watch the elections of a country where they don’t even have a vote because they believe that change may leak out of our borders and into theirs. I join them in this excitement and hope. Now let’s listen to his first speech as president-elect: the real work lies ahead of us. And that’s not just him, but all of us!
Today, the blogosphere is filled with the desperate November surprise from conservatives hoping to save Mr. McCain’s ailing run for the president. McCain’s campaign won’t be saying anything about this, you can bet, but dozens and dozens are reporting (from a single source of course) That Obama said he would bankrupt the coal industry. (Try any of the links. They all report from the exact same transcript, the same quote from January, 2008.)
What Mr. Obama was saying, while trying to impress a liberal paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, is that he will push for a cap and trade system which will charge businesses that produce CO2. Businesses like coal-fire power plants produce quite a lot of CO2 and so, as far as he’s concerned they can do what they wish and build new power plants, but that the costs associated with producing CO2 may, and here his choice of words probably resonated well with the liberal audience, bankrupt them.
Why is this not really news and not something Mr. McCain’s campaign will be discussing? Because Mr. McCain has also proposed a cap and trade system and more or less, his proposal would have essentially same effect on greenhouse gas producing businesses as Obama’s.
For conservatives to attack Mr. Obama’s strong words which we can assume as a politician were meant both to simplify the complex results of a cap and trade system and to show how green his and is typical but childish and shows how little they understand the proposals of their own candidate.