Pennsylvania minus six weeks

A new open thread for discussion of the US presidential election. Barack Obama won easily in Wyoming on Saturday, as he always does in caucuses: on Wednesday our time comes a primary in Mississippi. However, by most observers’ reckoning the last contest of interest is that in Pennsylvania on April 22.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

1,156 comments on “Pennsylvania minus six weeks”

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  1. 1094
    Ron, I don’t think you can draw any conclusion, supportive or otherwise, from the silence of bloggers.

    My point is that Obama asnswered your 2 critical questions with great honesty and wisdom (even allowing for what I think is a false presupposition in your questions). You may not agree with the answers he gave, but to imply that he ignored them is just plain wrong when the bulk of his speech was directed at those 2 points.

  2. “Ron, I don’t think you can draw any conclusion, supportive or otherwise, from the silence of bloggers.”

    FG, I think that you probably can, but I don’t think it’s the conclusion that was sought.

  3. Paul Volker has decided to put it to the ‘smartest guys in the room’ in this way:

    The market was being run by mathematicians that didn’t know financial
    markets. And you keep hearing, you know, god, that event should only
    happen once every hundred years, according to my model. But those every
    hundred years events are coming along every two or three years, which
    should raise some questions.

    …and with that astute observation, the entire edifice of structured financial wizardry collapses on its own assumptions.

    By the way, as everyone probably noticed, commodities took a beating last night and here’s why in a nutshell: the markets are terrified to hold USD (and why not? LOL) so expecting the Fed to drop another 100 pts, the screen jockeys all went long commodities. But blow me down, the Fed ‘only’ (!) dropped 75 pts, the USD went up a bit to compensate for the difference, and whoa, all those holding everything from oil to soybeans headed for the exits.

    This stampede of money shows the terror going on out there in the financial markets, and the aversion to holding paper. Volatility is stratospheric, and everyone is eyeing each other, waiting for the next bomb to go off.

    As goes Baghdad, so goes the world’s financial markets. Last week Bear Stearns got hit with a massive car bomb and imploded, who will it be next week?

    Nobody knows, but they are all busy trying to guess.

  4. Ron, I completely agree with Ferny. Politically (because many Americans are moronic hypocrites who think they own the world) it’s not a good look but I think MORE Americans should be saying these kind of things, not less. Until they understand that THEY are the rogue nation, not every other nation on the planet, they will continue to reap what they sew.

  5. Ron has asked”

    Why would you continue to regularly listen to a Preacher you did not agree with

    1. because you need to disassemble the term ‘preacher’ into a number of roles – the spiritual guide, the dork in the box, the chairman of the meeting, that opinionated guy over there, that someone with a passionate political opinion I can rationalize with, etc., etc.
    2. I don’t always agree with Ron – should I leave pollbludger?
    3. I Ron says hundreds of things I agree with but comes out with some clangers should I disown Ron – thow Ron under the bus?
    4. It is reasonable to separate Ron’s religouse beliefs and principals from his political beliefs and prioncipals – and from with that – recognize that I may have different opinions as to Ron’s mode of deivery may to the mode of delivery that I may chose?

    Why would you continue to be taught such divisive racists values and beliefs

    Divisive – maybe, but racist – I don’t get that impression. But to cut to the chase – take some time out and spend a Sunday morning in a black American church – its a lot more entertaining than the classic white trash equivalent and its a lot more honest. Would you or anyone else suggest that the frank, honest and direct path is somehow a lesser path?

  6. #1075
    But this is before the speech – i.e. this is not so interesting.
    Its the next one that will be really interesting.

  7. [Why did he continue to regularly listen to a Preacher you did not agree with
    Why did he continue to be taught such divisive racists values and beliefs]

    Ron, the reason why there hasn’t been much blog response to your question is due to the simple fact that Obama answered your questions.

    It’s very simple. Obama was drawing a line between rejecting SOME of the opinions of Wright and rejecting OTHER opinions of Wright. He also drew a line between rejecting Wright’s opinions and rejecting Wright himself.

    We expect politicians to distance themselves completely from anything that might threaten their political future, including trampling on the people around them. Such deceitful, selfish, and amoral behaviour has become the norm.

    BUT, Obama is no ordinary politician. Instead, he did the most decent and reasonable thing that a person can do, and that is to respectfully disagree with some viewpoints without rejecting the person. This is fair, just, and honourable. And that is one reason why Obama’s speech was so groundbreaking.

    The fact that you are clearly disappointed that Obama avoided indulging in unethical ways is an indication of just how warped our expectations of our politicians have become.

  8. #1115
    My guess is that Ron is already well and truly aware of this – but instead he to trying to cultivate some alternative answers to the same question. I would suggest that Ron is far from disappointed – in fact I would suggest that Ron is in fact too busy popping bottles of champaign.

  9. Ferny #1090
    “And he (Wright) is certainly no racist or extremist”

    IF that was the case , Jerry Falwell is not either.
    My opinion is that BOTH Wright & Falwell are racist and extremist , and worse still at the looney extremity. One is ‘left & one ‘right’ doesn’t improve palatability
    I believe you are in self denial because of Wright being your man’s Pastor.

    Jen #1096
    thank you for your frankness on sensitive to Obama rev.Wright issue.
    you acknowledge Wright like most evangelical Pastors are extremists & validly mentions Catholics attending church but eg. still objecting to conception teachings. I do NOT disagree with one word you wrote Jen.

    However 2 additional points is both Wright & Falwell are at the absolute outer extremity of divisive extreme and racism views. Intellectually there are degrees of extremism & racism & the best test is these 2 guys top the ‘left’ & ‘right’ lists

    Secondly conception is not the doctrine basis of Catholicism whereas divisive extreme and racism views ARE the basic doctrine of both Wright & Falwell

    asanque #1098
    thank you for your frankness on sensitive to Obama rev.Wright issue.
    “nor do I hold Obama responsible for remaining in a church with a pastor of extreme views.”

    asanque , I think you SHOULD hold Obama responsible for remaining in a church with a pastor of extreme views. He’s is own man . The real questions are :

    Why did he continue to be taught such divisive extreme & racist values and beliefs ,
    which are the FUNDAMENTAL doctrine basis of Wright’s belief & values structures…yet disagree with those SAME extreme & racist values & beliefs

    And why the hell early in the piece did he not leave that congregation

    I have my own views but am interested in others opinions

  10. Jen @ 1114 – I like this from that article – sums up the likely impact of the speech:
    ‘Tad Devine, a Democratic consultant who is not supporting a candidate said …
    “Obama, confronted by an issue that was boiling, seemed to wade into it with a speech that was in many ways profound,” Mr. Devine said. “As a result, now these people who were so interested and awakened by his candidacy are back with him again. Instead of this being a setback, it becomes an opportunity.” ‘

    Ron – The path to enlightenment depends on asking yourself the right questions.
    The 2 questions you posed are non-sequiturs.
    Implied in them is the concept that:
    + a person should have the same views as their friend about everything, or the friendship should end.
    + if a friend goes a bit over the top about an issue they feel strongly about and says something in public that you don’t agree with, the friendship should be over.

    Isn’t that attitude a bit simplistic and childish, in the style of GWB: “Either you’re with us, or you’re against us.” ?

  11. Noocat and junior senator

    the ignorance of your logic is :
    You would strongly disagree with Hitler’s views but not distance yourself

    When someone is as repugnant as Wright and Falwell you should distance yourself.
    Obama didn’t because he COULD NOT credibly do so after 23 years except by accepting he made error of judgement.
    Get some political nous

  12. Ron – And by the way, I find the fact that Obama even ATTENDS a church much more disturbing than what the bloody minister says. What could be more offensive and outlandish than the irrational superstitious rubbish usually spouted from a pulpit? I mean, what could be more controversial than getting people together to worship the invisible man?
    Why would Obama support that gibberish?
    (Don’t tell me – I know the answer, it’s the USA)

  13. So the remarks made by Pastor Wright about equity and responsibility that are the subject of this attack are probably the most rational utterances of his pastoral career, when you think about it.

  14. 1117 – Ron

    I believe Obama said it best.
    Very few people in life are perfect, each is capable of great good and great evil.
    I suggest that Obama believed that Wright contributed more good then evil, which is why he remained.

  15. Noocat- The list of Clinton’s associates she has blown off is endless. As soon as there is a hint of political flack from one of her supporters etc she denies knowing them and removes them from her website. Norman Hsu, Peter Paul, Spitzer….

    Obama showed some rare decency for a politician in what he said. I hope we are not the only ones who appreciate that.

  16. Ron,
    exactly what is it that Wright said that has earned such wrath from you???
    In truth most of what I have read that has caused such outrage seems quite reasonable to me. Even Goddamn America – so what?? Given the acts of violence and immorality that the US has gladly conducted in the name of God then it seems fair enough.

  17. Ron, I suppose it’s just one of those moral decisions which divides liberals and conservatives. Are the bigotries of the victims, more deserving of tolerance and understanding than the bigotries of the perpetrators?

  18. Further to 1124 and as a counterpoint to 1120

    Strictly speaking I don’t believe in good and evil.

    I don’t believe Bush is evil. Just dangerously incompetent, delusional and stupid.

    I didn’t believe Howard was evil. Just selfish and narrowminded.

    Just because I don’t agree with someone’s position, doesn’t mean that they have nothing worthwhile to contribute. The world is not black and white 🙂

    However, I do proviso by saying its more likely then not that people of a certain mindset may have less to contribute then most.

  19. [Obama showed some rare decency for a politician in what he said. I hope we are not the only ones who appreciate that.]

    I agree completely Diogenes. Obviously, Ron is one person who can’t appreciate this.

    [Noocat and junior senator, the ignorance of your logic is :
    You would strongly disagree with Hitler’s views but not distance yourself]

    No, Ron, the ignorance of your argument is that you are comparing Hitler with Wright. Get a grip, please. These two men are in NO way comparable.

    Obama actually talked about the many positive things that Wright has contributed through his position as Pastor. Clearly, Obama has a great deal of respect for him. This explains why he continued to attend the church. It still doesn’t mean that Obama agrees with EVERYTHING that Wright says.

  20. asanque
    Just because I don’t agree with someone’s position, doesn’t mean that they have nothing worthwhile to contribute. The world is not black and white

    I’m afraid that I will have to make an exception to this in the case of GWB. I truly thibk he has nothing to offer that is worthwhile EXCEPT that his quotes are hilarious in their idiocy . Sadly this does not make up for the hundreds of thousands of deaths he has caused.(in the name of God, of course: and people are upset about what rev. Wright says from a pulpit…)

  21. Seriously Ron, it’s time you stopped using the term “logic” in your posts. Your argument is a flawed by the Fallacy of Extension.

    Straw Man (Fallacy Of Extension):

    -attacking an exaggerated or caricatured version of your opponent’s position.

    For example, the claim that “evolution means a dog giving birth to a cat.”

    Another example: “Senator Jones says that we should not fund the attack submarine program. I disagree entirely. I can’t understand why he wants to leave us defenseless like that.”

    On the Internet, it is common to exaggerate the opponent’s position so that a comparison can be made between the opponent and Hitler.

  22. Ron, Phew! Where to begin.
    1. It can’t be ‘self denial’ as I’m not denying myself. I suspect you meant I am in ‘denial’. This appears to be a common accusation (along with ‘dreamers’ etc) of anyone who holds a differing view. Like all such accusations it is not a coherent argument and therefore is incapable of logical rebuttal – which is, after all, the purpose of such accusations.

    2. I have had many years experience of Jerry Falwell and others of his ilk. I would venture to say you have little or no exposure to the man other than that reported in the media. I suggest you read his history, writings, speeches and background and then tell me whether you think he can be compared to Wright. This is, after all, the man who blamed homosexuality and other ‘sin’ as the cause of 9/11.

    3. Obama is not ‘my man’. If he were, then the late Rev. Falwell would be very disapproving of me – and Obama. I have tried to view the events of the Dem campaign with as much objectivity as I can muster. Again, though, such accusations are designed to avoid rational debate and I suggest you examine why you need to resort to such an approach.

    4. I doubt your ‘left’ vs ‘right’ stereotyping has any validity in this context (and is rapidly losing its applicability in any context. Wright is, in my view, a conservative Christian with some liberation theology influences not uncommon in African-American culture. From where I sit, however, he is on the Right.

    5. Obama has answered your questions thoroughly, honestly and with a degree of humanity and wisdom that is rare in a politician. I really can’t see why you feel the need for him to repeat himself. Go read his speech!

    6. Wright condemned social policies on social justice grounds; Falwell condemned people’s lifestyle choices and damned them to hell for them. The differences are so stark I have a hard time believing I have to spell them out to you – unless, of course, your only source of information is the media.

    7. I can’t be bothered with 7.

  23. 1133 – Jen

    There are a lot of exceptions to the rule 🙂

    I’d list Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Janet Albrechtsen, Cheney And Dubya in a list of those whose contributions to society rate somewhat between toilet scum and a skid mark.

  24. “Sharpton Keeping Support of Obama Quiet
    Al Sharpton is backing Sen. Barack Obama, “but he’s made the strategic decision to keep his support quiet,” according to the New York Daily News.
    Sharpton “boasted of talking to Obama ‘two or three times a week’ — and insisted the Democratic front-runner knows the rev is in his camp.” ”

    Al is another of Barack’s supporters who has also said some outrageous things in public, such as:
    “Bill Clinton strikes me as the kind of guy who goes wherever the polls lead him, rather than leading the polls. ”

    I rather think Obama should disown Sharpton now, before the backlash, don’t you Ron? 🙂

    Asanque @ 1137 & Jen – They could all contribute. They can drive a cab – offensive right-wing opinions are the main pre-requisite. Knowledge isn’t. (Although I make an exception in my case for the time I drove.)

  25. JV –
    that is most unkind of you to talk about ignorant cabbies and Bush in the same breath.
    You do the cabbies a great disservice.

  26. Jen – But imagine the pleasure of hailing GWB’s or Albrechtson’s cab when pissed, jumping in with a kebab, putting most of the lettuce and other contents on the seat while attempting to eat it, and then spewing on the floor, and them. You know, a bit of normal Friday night passenger behaviour. An opportunity not to be missed.

  27. Finally, just when I thought the Obama/Clinton debate was getting a bit stale, this thread has been Godwin-ed.

    I think that polls over the next few days are going to be interesting. CBS has a new national poll out with Obama ahead by 2 points. However, there’s some interesting tidbits in there (although the MoE on the smaller demographic stuff is probably a bit larger), such as Clinton leading by 8 points on Repubs, Obama 8 points on Indies. Worse for the Dems though is how much McCain is thumping both candidates on Independents.

    Still, there’s a long time between now and November, and in America there’s a difference between preferring to vote for someone, and actually going to vote for someone.

  28. Jen –
    I sure hope so. Hopefully the Democratic Party machine has worked how to outslug the right wing dirt units, regardless of who the candidate is.

  29. Last month the US lost about 100,000 private sector jobs, a big jump from the previous month’s figures.

    Another month or two of this will focus the minds of voters like a laser, and as the mortgage foreclosures rise, credit defaults rise, all the baloney about what someone’s pastor says on a hot day is going to evaporate into thin air.

    Obama did the right thing bringing Wright into focus, and warning the GOP not to bother thrashing it day and night, because the moment they do, the bulk of people will ask what’s the relevence? Especially when they see the wrecking ball of recession eroding their home’s values, their investments, their job security, and as state and municipal spending on everything from health services to libraries and a myriad amenities shrinks to nothing.

    Their economy is going down the gurgler, and John McCain is going to go down with it, clutching his ‘surge’ and his ‘experience’, (for all the good they will do him).

  30. Could be some dangers in Hillary’s 1st Lady schedules for her despite there being no earth-shattering revelations discovered so far:

    ‘An early example from ABC News: “Hillary Clinton spent the night in the White House on the day her husband had oral sex with Monica Lewinsky, and may have actually been there when it happened, according to records of her schedule released today by the National Archives.”

    The other big danger is that the schedules will shed some light on some of Clinton’s claims of “35 years of experience,” such as this headline from The Guardian: “Clinton a long way from the White House at key foreign policy moments.” ‘

  31. I have a friend, a Canadian, who for some time walked with some in the Whitehouse.

    In his travels and out of curiosity he visited Bush’s usual church [but not being a Christian], he didn’t relate where it was or if he did I dont recall now. He did say that it took him a hour to come out of shock afterwards [and this guy has had dealings with some pretty willing people over the years].

    He did say the platform of the preacher was the need to create the conditions for the second coming of Christ, one of them being continual war on earth. And this was a theme thoroughly expounded in the sermon and the cause of my friends utter shock.

    Now I would find Bush’s preacher much more a disturbing and wonder how much influence he has had on Bush.

  32. The real and present danger for Obama is the “Anti America” or “Not patriotic” tag.

    1. Not wearing his American flag pin
    2. Not putting his hand over his heart during the national anthem
    3. Michele Obama saying she’s really proud of her country for the first time in her adult life after Obama is being feted as POTUS candidate
    4. Now, the Pastorgate

    (1), (2), and (3) on their own might not have been significant, but Pastorgate has and will amplify them and presents Obama’s opponents with a pattern to parade. If, in the next few weeks/months, there are (5), (6) etc. he is finished. Watch them polls.

  33. Kina – Sounds like Bush’s pastor, and Bush, take literally the entreaties to violence the bible is full of. And why not? After all, it was meant to be taken literally. Same as the K’ran. People were very weak at irony (as well as science) when those tales were first told. And life was cheap.

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