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United we succeed; divided, we get Old Man McCain

bringiton's picture

This wonderful discussion we’re having around our remaining two fine, upstanding presidential candidates has provided an exchange through which we may, when done, have learned that Hillary Clinton is not a cold-hearted opportunistic scumbag but a good, decent, warm, substantial, thoughtful and interesting woman and that Barry Obama is not a vacuous opportunistic scumbag but a good, decent, warm, substantial, thoughtful and interesting man.

Not swearing that will be true, not saying it for certain, but I am hoping it will be. What I am certain about is that while we work through this process it is critical that we not lose sight of the most important task ahead of us – the defeat of John McCain and the Republican Criminal Conspiracy he represents.

It may be that the disagreements over our candidates’ policies and capabilities are magnifying differences out of proportion to reality. It may be that the policy differences between Clinton and Obama are small when compared to those of the NixonReaganBushMcCainVRWC dynasty. But with all the time invested inconsideration of funny costumes and brochure symbols and style and tears and dog-whistles and sniffly noses, who has time to, ah, get down into the weeds?

Admittedly, sorting through all of the position pieces and voting records and speeches seems an infinite task. One of the reasons it is difficult is that the VRWC has made a hash out of so many things that it is not a matter any more of focusing on two or three issues and deciding on that basis. So many aspects of life have been made critical, both foreign and domestic, that digging out and interpreting all of the positions of the candidates on all of the issues that matter is in fact both overwhelming and confusing. It may be helpful to let someone else do the heavy lifting and then step back to look at a simple summary of the candidate’s positions from a third-party overview, such as can be had through a policy evaluation site such as OnTheIssues.

These fine folks take the voting record, speeches, policy statements, news clips and everything they can find on the record from a particular public figure and use them to answer an extensive questionnaire covering a wide range of political positions. After taking an abbreviated version myself it is true that some of the questions are not exactly clear, and some of them are difficult to answer in a simple manner, but on the whole it does seem to be fair and comprehensive. (Believe someone here at Corrente wrote about OnTheIssues but I couldn’t find it; let me know and I’ll put in the link. Update Thanks to Shane-O below for the link to an earlier post by Lambert on a similar asessement test.)

Once the questions are answered and scored, the result ascribes a position on the political spectrum from Liberal to Conservative and from Populist to Libertarian. The policy answers for each candidate and the resulting diagrams can be found here. For comparison here are diagrams for Obama, Clinton and McCain with John Edwards also included.

ontheissues compare

In this assessment, there is not a lot of difference between Obama and Clinton and both of them appear to be quite close to Edwards. What this makes strikingly clear, and where all of us most importantly need to be clear, is that they are all of them far, far away from McCain.

I don’t want to over-value this little test. It is at best an informed guess at what the candidates actually think, and even more speculative in terms of what they will do once in office. Additionally, it is only two dimensional and there is the highly important third dimension of track record, the length of time they have held their positions, and that is not shown here. Still, it may be of some comfort that, on the issues, our people are reasonably liberal and we may reasonably expect that they will actually advocate from that position.

What this comparison does do is clearly highlight is how horribly bad John McCain is politically, and what a nightmare he will be for the country. Whatever happens in the Democratic primary, we all of us will need to put aside our differences, pull together for the general election and vote to defeat the forces of evil that will, if not stopped, destroy America. It is that serious.

On a lighter note, because surely someone must be dying to know how far into the authoritarian Fascist brutal taser-fiend zone I must have scored, here’s my grid:

me web

Be damned. Exactly the same as John Edwards. All I can say is, there’s much about that young man’s political philosophy to admire.

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vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... that the two Dems whom the media allowed to be finalists are very similar on policy.

However, policy is far from the only important dimension of a president. Much of the job's impact comes from the values and frames that the president represents -- as well as who can be trusted/expected to do what, when the shit hits the fan. Those things cast a long shadow.

Shane-O's picture
Submitted by Shane-O on

Of a Lambert post from a while back:

The Overton Window Has Four Panes

The Bill of Rights is a born rebel. It reeks with sedition. In every clause it shakes its fist in the face of constituted authority. . . . it is the one guaranty of human freedom to the American people. - Frank Irving Cobb

hypnot's picture
Submitted by hypnot on

Thanks for giving us a break to look at where we are and think about where we're going. I'm going to remind myself and anyone else in the neighborhood that we share mostly common interests and goals and that they are considerably less destructive than those of the real opposition. And I'm going to try to remind myself as infrequently as possible that we are contending for the right to take over a slaughterhouse that's in foreclosure.

Here's my plan for the remainder of the primaries and the general election:

1. Maintain respectful skepticism for both remaining Democratic candidates.

2. Support the Democratic nominee and do everything possible to enhance his or her coattails.

3. Oppose the Republican nominee and every other Republican candidate.

4. Elect the Democratic nominee and every other Democratic candidate.

5. After the Democratic landslide, return to criticizing the victors every time they fail to meet my personal standard.

Submitted by lambert on

Slaughterhouse 6...

Well put. I think the thing to do is vote for Obama, and work to develop resilience for the Klein-style shock we all know is coming.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Deciding who to back and why requires much more than what this kind of simplified analysis can show, for sure, and hopefully I put in enough qualifiers to cover that reality.

No one should mistake this for anything other than a call for the defeat of John McCain and the Republican Criminal Conspiracy - can't say those words too often. Eyes on the prize.

Meanwhile, we still have a candidate to select and the vetting process should be taken very seriously. Both of these candidates will face much harsher criticism from the Republican Criminal Conspiracy than anything we ourselves can muster, so I say lay it on and let them figure out how to defend themselves. Obama especially is untested, so giving him some problems to wrestle with is a good thing, a needful thing, and deserving of praise not condemnation.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

My own neuro search function is little better than Corrente’s own, both of them yielding [Access Denied] far too often.

Here’s the direct link to the Political Compass assessment test Lambert referenced. Who can resist a peek into other people’s psyches and an objective assessment of the self?

political compass usprimaries_2008

The questions here are a bit different in construction from those at OnTheIssues and the outcomes appear to be less differentiated on social issues, with the result that there is less differentiation between McCain and Democrats than I think is actually true.

My own test came out similar to the result from OnTheIssues:

political compass bio

Slightly more anarchic and collectivist than Ghandi, which is about right; he always was a bit of a stick in the mud.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

neither of our candidates are left or liberal in any meaningful way.

Once a candidate is chosen, it's all very much out of our hands--and if they don't run a good general campaign and fight back ruthlessly against GOP slime, and attack instead of defending, we're sunk.

Almost every election since 80 has seen our candidate either run a weak campaign, and/or get killed--Perot is the only thing that got Clinton in to begin with in 92.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

Personal Score 72%
Economic Score 12%

Where You Fit In-

Where your Personal score meets your Economic score on the grid below is your political philosophy. Based on the above score, you are a Populist-Leaning Liberal .

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

The Political Compass scoring system seems to be weighted with less consideration for domestic and social positions, and the response valuation is such that relatively small differences from the middle are magnified in all directions.

Much as I would like to see myself as nobler than Ghandi, I kind of doubt it; I also think the distinction between our Dems and the next proposed Republican Criminal-In-Chief is larger than appears in this exam. Our folks should be grouped closely around the middle.