Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The NYT gets it half right

In a somewhat-bemused article, they note that the punditocracy has finally figured out what the blogosphere has been saying for weeks, that Hillary is farther than ever from the nomination, and that it's now effectively over.

But the impact was apparent almost immediately, as evidenced by The Drudge Report... It had as its lead story a link to a YouTube clip of Mr. Russert’s comments, accompanied by a photograph of a beaming Mr. Obama with his wife, Michelle, and the headline, “The Nominee.”

The thought echoed throughout the world of instant political analysis. “I think there’s an increasing presumption tonight that Obama’s going to be the nominee,” Chris Wallace, the Fox News host, said to Karl Rove, President Bush’s longtime political guru, who is now a Fox News analyst....

A posting on the DailyKos Web site included a mock memo to Mrs. Clinton entitled, “To-Do List Before Dropping Out.”

Speaking on CNN, David Gergen, a former adviser to several presidents, including Mrs. Clinton’s husband, said, “I think the Clinton people know the game is almost up.”

Stating it more bluntly, Bob Franken, the political analyst, told the MSNBC host Dan Abrams shortly after 2 a.m. Eastern time, “Let’s put it right on the table: It’s over. It’s over.”

But, unable to completely let go of a narrative, no matter how wrong, it goes on to argue that even though it's over, it's not really over.

The instant analysts on television and on the Web have not exactly showered themselves in glory this year. They have frequently made predictions that have been upended by actual votes from actual people.

But their opinions matter as much as ever in this late phase of the primary race, when Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama are battling to sway the opinions of the uncommitted superdelegates....

The superdelegates are a largely elite group that presumably will track the conventional wisdom of Washington’s class of political insiders as they weigh their decisions. And the big donors and fundraisers whose help Mrs. Clinton will need to continue her campaign are similarly tapped into the news media echo-sphere.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign indicated early this morning that it would try to prove the commentariat wrong once again. “Pundits have gleefully counted Senator Clinton out before, and each time they have been wrong, because they don’t decide this race -- voters do,” Howard Wolfson, Mrs. Clinton’s communications director, wrote in an e-mail message. “And as the results in Indiana demonstrated, voters are rewarding Senator Clinton with victories, even in states Senator Obama predicted victory in.”

See? The delegate lead doesn't matter, it's about perception. And as long as we're talking about predictions, let's talk about North Carolina being a game-changer, about double-digit wins in Indiana... You know, those things that were going to prove the Clinton campaign had some realistic chance. At this point, Clinton has to get over 80% of remaining unpledged delegates and most of the unpledged superdelegates. Ain't gonna happen. And perceptions, pundit opinions, and media narratives don't decide that.

Wolfson's got a point, actually. Voters decide this. And at this point, even if you count Florida and Michigan the way Hillary wants, she still trails in the popular vote, in delegates, and in states won. She has fewer donors, her campaign's broke, she can't get the Black votes that no Democrat can win without. The votes simply aren't there.

Future pundits will decide whether Obama was inevitable from the start (I don't think he was; his campaign's been skillfully run, but it's not a juggernaut), or whether the Clinton campaign took the strongest brand in Democratic politics and ran it into the ground (and there do seem to have been some key strategic missteps, beginning with the complete lack of contingency planning for anything after Super Tuesday--such hubris never goes unpunished).

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

From the "Gee, ya THINK?" Dept...

TIME: Is Obama's "electability" code for race?

Well, at least they're saying it out loud, even if they have to pretend it's just a wildly speculative question. I suppose that's progress. Of some sort.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The persistence of stupid habits of thought

I don't usually blog about personal stuff, but as this is what's foremost in my forebrain lately, and the purpose of a blog, any blog, is to memorialize the brainfarts as well as the deep thoughts, well, why not...

I'm dealing with a minor frustration regarding some behavior by a friend of mine that's leaving me feeling a bit neglected & taken for granted. On its face, it's no big deal. And rationally, by any sane measure, it is, truly, minor. Not worth getting worked up over, move on to something that's worth firing a few neurons about because this certainly isn't. (Other people do have lives, and sometimes, shocking though it may be to admit it, some aspects of their lives don't involve me.)

And yet. In the back of my head, there's the little voice (my friend Wayne calls his "Waldo") that would be more than happy to play the poor-poor-me game all day long.

Now this is hardly a new phenomenon. (Waldo causing trouble, I mean, not the feeling-neglected issue.) And in fact, that's what's most annoying about it. That this is far from new, in fact it's the same old crap I've fallen into off & on for years. I guess there's some progress, though. I'm not wallowing in it, I'm recognizing what I'm doing, and going out of my way to tell Waldo to STFU for a change. To paraphrase Snoopy, "It's not much, but it's something."

This is ridiculous.

Life has a way of interfering with the blogging, or something... At any rate, I'm still alive, as I'm sure my regular readers (both of you) will be pleased to hear.

We're heading into finals, so there should be a little more time in the schedule Real Soon Now.

Plans for the summer: Development work on orientation for new grad students, working with another instructor to brush up on Python (the language, not Monty) and some gaming applications.
We'll see how it actually goes.