Republicans are already saying that Coakley’s inevitable loss to Brown is a referendum on Obama’s policies. Democrats are saying that she was just a lousy candidate, and Obama’s and the DNC’s policies have nothing to with it.

Based on the charisma theory, I’d have to say the Democrats are right. But there is a problem here: if charisma is so important, how is it that Coakley got the nomination in the first place? As we have seen, she defeated an apparently more charismatic opponent. How can this be reconciled with the theory?

First of all, it must be made clear that Capuano isn’t much more charismatic than Coakley is. If he had Obama-level charisma, this would be a different story.  Second of all, I speculate that charisma becomes a bigger factor the more important an election is perceived to be. In primaries, for a seat that is considered won by X party candidate by default, it matters less, because people don’t even care enough to really investigate the candidates even enough to find out who has charisma. At that level, it’s the close–almost personal–supporters of Martha Coakley and Michael Capuano, not their party or really even any ideology.

Once a campaign takes on an aura of extreme importance, it changes things. Epic struggles and charismatic people complement each other beautifully. If Barack Obama had lent all his personal charisma to the cause of arguing eloquently for, say, fixing potholes in Chicago, it’d be comical. That’s why, as the book Game Change documents, so many Democrats wanted him to run for President. I speculate that charisma doesn’t just help a person get involved in great events, it almost demands them to.

Oddly, however, you can’t lend your charisma to someone else by means of an endorsement. Obama’s campaigning for Creigh Deeds is proof of this. Having someone charismatic testify on your behalf just… doesn’t seem to work. I don’t know why. All sending Obama to help Coakley does, I think, is demonstrate how important the election is.

And that plays right into Brown’s hands.

via The Daily Dish:

“Here is congressman Capuano from Cambridge, rejected in favor of the tired, useless hack, Coakley:”

He does seem more passionate than Coakley. But there’s still no charisma there. And, quite frankly, shallow though it is, looks matter if you want to win an election, and Brown is better-looking than Capuano. 

He might’ve put up a better fight, but I doubt he’d win.

…if the charisma theory holds, anyway.

I’ll grant this is not a perfect comparison, but, c’mon, she speaks like a robot in that video. Brown is by no means stunningly charismatic like Obama, but he totally has what it takes to beat her out in this race. To make matters even worse, he seems to have gotten off that killer blow: the signature line: “It’s the people’s seat”. And he’s good-looking. And he was an actor. And he is running against the incumbent party. This spells disaster for the Democrats. And no, Obama campaigning for Coakley will not help, because charisma is not transferable
At this point, it would be a Truman-beating-Dewey level upset if Coakley won.

My final thoughts on the Harry Reid quote, which I don’t want to spend much time on, since my main point is that the media (of which I am, after all, a member) is over-discussing it. 

The knee-jerk reaction to this over coverage of the story is to say that “the media” is biased in favor of Republicans. This might be true, but I doubt it. I suspect the real reason this story beats out the vastly more outrageous comments of Rudy Giuliani, for example, is that it involves racial issues.

One of the deepest desires of the MSM  is to have a National Conversation on Race. This is a polite way of saying they adore trying to foment discord between races. This element is dramatic, divisive, and, best of all, there is no means of resolving it, because everyone is always whatever race they were born as, so there will always be a wealth of stories about it. If a story is really juicy, it might spawn more outrage, subsequent racist remarks/actions, and possibly even riots. 

This, I’m sure, won’t happen in this case. The only people who would start riots to oust Reid are the Tea-Party people, and they would’ve done that already if they could. Nevertheless, this makes for an exciting, drama filled story that is meaningless and stupid beneath all the emotional trappings.

That’s what the press is built on. 

He’s “light-skinned” and had “no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.”–Harry Reid, on candidate Barack Obama. 

“We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We’ve had one under Obama,”–Rudy Giuliani, on Obama’s National Security policy.

Which statement is false?

Which statement got more press coverage?


As I have discussed here and here, an attempt seems to be going on to subtly revise history so that people forget George W. Bush was President on 9/11. 

One question I didn’t address in the earlier posts is: Who is doing it? Now, you might think it’s obviously the Republican party doing it, as part of an effort to rehabilitate the image of Republicans as better at National Defense. This is quite likely, although it seems like it would be simpler to demonize Bush, and claim that his Presidency is not typical of Republican ideology. 

But is there any other group that would have an incentive to make this effort?

This little item deserves a bit more attention, I think. First of all, I must admit I have a personal bias against Giuliani because, quite frankly, I am biased against jerks. The man is barely even a Republican in terms of his actual political policies (he used to be a Democrat, in fact) yet he has been using some of the worst elements of the Republican party to gain power for himself. That’s my opinion of him. 

But, his personal character aside, what’s actually interesting about this is that it seems to be part of a concerted effort to absolve Bush from blame for negligence in allowing 9/11 to happen.

The theory behind this goes like this: everybody makes a claim. They make it a lot. The claim will be analyzed, and, often, proven false; but that is irrelevant. The important thing is, if you get enough people saying it, someone who is utterly uninformed will hear it, and assume it’s true because he hasn’t got time to research it in depth. 

Like I said in my previous post, this isn’t the first time prominent people try to hammer home a stock line. I remember a montage on Rush Limbaugh’s show that illustrated this technique perfectly. This sort of thing goes on all the time in politics, and once you know about it, it becomes incredibly obvious. (Remember how every speech at the ’08 Democratic convention pointed out the similarities between McCain and Bush?)

That said, I don’t know if anyone has ever attempted revisionist history on this scale. I know the USSR infamously cropped pictures of people who’d displeased Stalin after they were executed, but this is something else entirely. 

What I wonder is:

1. Who is making this concerted effort?

2. Could it work? Will people really start to forget who was President on 9/11?

To be continued…