Friday, October 24, 2008

Turn of the (previous) century London

Very cool clip of London in 1904:

Krauthammer: McCain for President

This may be Krauthammer's finest column ever.

McCain for President

By Charles Krauthammer


McCain's critics are offended that he raised the issue of William Ayers. What's astonishing is that Obama was himself not offended by William Ayers.


The case for McCain is straightforward. The financial crisis has made us forget, or just blindly deny, how dangerous the world out there is. We have a generations-long struggle with Islamic jihadism. An apocalyptic soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. A nuclear-armed Pakistan in danger of fragmentation. A rising Russia pushing the limits of revanchism. Plus the sure-to-come Falklands-like surprise popping out of nowhere.

Who do you want answering that phone at 3 a.m.? A man who's been cramming on these issues for the last year, who's never had to make an executive decision affecting so much as a city, let alone the world? A foreign policy novice instinctively inclined to the flabbiest, most vaporous multilateralism ... and who refers to the most deliberate act of war since Pearl Harbor as "the tragedy of 9/11," a term more appropriate for a bus accident?

Or do you want a man who ... not only has the best instincts, but has the honor and the courage to, yes, put country first, as when he carried the lonely fight for the surge that turned Iraq from catastrophic defeat into achievable strategic victory?

There's just no comparison. Obama's own running mate warned this week that Obama's youth and inexperience will invite a crisis -- indeed a crisis "generated" precisely to test him. Can you be serious about national security and vote on Nov. 4 to invite that test?

And how will he pass it? Well, how has he fared on the only two significant foreign policy tests he has faced since he's been in the Senate? The first was the surge. Obama failed spectacularly. He not only opposed it. He tried to denigrate it, stop it and, finally, deny its success.

The second test was Georgia, to which Obama responded instinctively with evenhanded moral equivalence, urging restraint on both sides. McCain did not have to consult his advisers to instantly identify the aggressor.

Today's economic crisis, like every other in our history, will in time pass. But the barbarians will still be at the gates. Whom do you want on the parapet? I'm for the guy who can tell the lion from the lamb.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Agenda masquerading as analysis

Froma Harrop's column "Palin Drove Stake Into Centrist Hearts" (here) is a fine example of a superficial analysis cooked up to justify a pre-formed conclusion. In this case Ms. Harrop does not care for Gov. Palin's social conservatism and so sets out to prove that picking Palin destroyed McCain's chances.

Just look at the RealClearPolitics poll averages dating back to early September. The McCain-Palin numbers started cratering about a week after the convention, which was two weeks before the stock market did.
Except they didn't.

McCain did not "crater" until Sept. 24th through 26th, and the economic crisis really began to dominate the headlines beginning Sept. 15th with Lehman Brother's bankruptcy filing.

This is clearly evident if you look at the post-convention detail chart below.

I have plotted the mean of the Rasmussen and Gallup daily tracking polls over the period in question (using a couple of reliable tracking polls instead of the RCP average gives a better indication of responses to specific events because the methodology is consistent throughout the time period). Note that the McCain line jumps dramatically during the GOP convention (Sept. 2 through Sept. 4) and stays higher than the pre-convention level thereafter, taking a small hit around the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and AIG rescue but stabilizing again before falling off sharply on Sept. 24-26. This corresponds exactly to the announcement of the "bailout" proposal, McCain's suspension of his campaign to go back to Washington, and the off-again on-again first debate.

Clearly, voters were not impressed with McCain's reaction. Governor Palin was not the cause, however much Froma Harrop wants to blame McCain's problems on picking a pro-life running mate.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Post-Convention detail view

(Click on chart to enlarge) Chart shows the mean of the Rasmussen and Gallup daily tracking polls, with each datum plotted at the mid-point date of the sample. In other words the lag time between the actual polling and when the data was reported has been removed. The salient features of this plot are:
  • The Democratic National Convention Aug. 25-28 - Obama's gets a five point bounce.
  • The Republican National Convention Sept. 2-4. McCain wipes out Obama's bounce and gets a 5 point bounce of his own, a 9 point relative gain.
  • Lehman Brother's bankruptcy and ensuing credit crisis dominate the headlines. Obama gains 2 points and McCain loses 2, then race stabilizes again.
  • The economic rescue ("bailout") bill is proposed and McCain suspends his campaign, then unsuspends it again for the first debate.
  • The market crash following the passage of the bailout bill did not depress McCain's numbers any further.

The Race