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The presidential campaign is tiresome, and the campaign reporting is arguably worse. Late last week, I decided I had had enough. After all, I know where my preferences lie. I can imagine no sort of gaffe or folly by my candidate or assertion by the warring class that will get me to think otherwise. Therefore, I intend to avoid he-said/he-said campaign stories. I have unsubscribed from the worst offenders in my RSS feeds; I am even refusing to read Yglesias again until this is over. I do wish that Morning Edition would quit averaging two campaign stories an hour, but that’s the narcissistic U.S. media for you. If that’s the worst I get from now to November, I’ll be thankful.



What do you think of attempts by sociologists et al to explain election outcomes purely in terms of macro trends (perceived state of economy, war, weather, etc)?

It would be really cool if it turned out that presidential campaigns were completely superfluous to the entire process.

Don’t you think it’s sociologists’—and especially human geographers’—jobs to create models that demonstrate that political choices don’t matter? In a way, they’re right: short of declaring all-out war, for example, no American president is going to stem the movement of capital eastward. (In that case, even war is more likely to be mutually destructive than it is to create a victorious West.) Similarly, pandemic diseases—like the plague in the Medieval period or various outbreaks of Influenza—can dramatically reshape the world in ways that are mostly irrelevant to public policy, even though there are obviously public policies that can diminish such effects. Changes in climate will create migrations, and so forth.

But at that point, in terms of what will happen and how peoples and nations will react to sudden or prevailing changes, it seems to me we’re digging into the realm of chaos: predictions become always unreliable and anything can create really horrible—or great—things to happen.

There probably are some elections where the campaigns don’t matter because the prevailing winds point in certain directions. This may be one of them. (I hope so.) But methinks nobody would be so fatalistic to campaign as if it’s pointless.

Oh I wasn’t saying that it would be awesome if politics didn’t matter. I think it would be awesome if campaigns didn’t matter. You know, the back-and-forth and scuttlebutt that gets soundbitten on CNN and reported on at politico.com.

But methinks nobody would be so fatalistic to campaign as if it’s pointless.

That’s actually a pretty accurate description of the McCain campaign right now. It’s bordering on nihilistic.

Sorry to be obtuse. I don’t think campaigns matter much. The jostling by campaigns to control the message and the jostling by reporters to allow the messages to be controlled exists in inverse proportion to its value. The few truly independent voters out there who do waver between candidates are like as not too sophisticated to care what happens day-to-day. On the other hand, the many more voters out there who call themselves independent but primarily vote on style probably won’t pay attention for another two months. Karl Rove’s best insight into American politics turnout of those who are disposed toward you (simple voters, if they vote) matters way, way more than swingers. In most campaigns, GOTV is way more important than rhetoric.

That’s actually a pretty accurate description of the McCain campaign

Heh. I thought the same thing as I was writing it.

God help us, they almost all read The Page, which is the stupidest thing on the planet.

Also: Jake Tapper’s list is a horror of horrors.

I get reading the Corner, but the fact that anyone would approach LGF with a straight face (maybe Tapper doesn’t?) is distressing, to say the least.

Instapundit is worse. It has the same frothing at the mouth worldview as LGF, but with a thin veneer of respectability.

Worse because of the respectability? Because I could perhaps forgive someone for being fooled by the respectability because he believed he needed to stay current on GOP identity politics or paranoid suspicions—at least Insty is brief, if sometimes incomprehensible for being so. But times I’ve read LGF, I’ve come away very, very, very frightened. They’re like Michelle Malkin, only scarier.

Yeah, worse for being respectable. People whose politics are motivated by rage should look like people whose politics are motivated by rage.