<B>Tactical Animal: Politics In The Post-Truth Era</B>
Sep 2012 06

Tactical Animal: Politics In The Post-Truth Era

Posted In Blog,Politics

by ChrisSick


In which we dissect the epidemic of Werewolf Disease, chairs what talk back, and why four-day-long political infomercials are entirely useless.


There’s nine weeks left until this horrible, grueling, vile campaign is over. 63 days, 10 hours, 45 minutes, and 10 seconds, as of this writing. Now, 9 seconds. 8.


Yes. I am counting all of them.


It has, thus far, been officially No Fun. There was some dim hope, previously, that the introduction of Paul Ryan — the acknowledged Big Idea man of the Republican party — would dramatically shake up the race, and introduce some much needed debate of the issues. Which is the word talking heads on television use to describe median tax-rates for middle-class wage earners and average Social Security payments. As opposed to meaningless Culture War arguments that only affect unimportant things like whether or not a woman’s less important, legally, than the fetus she carries, or if those people should be allowed to get all married up.


Paul-motherfucking-Ryan, as he shall be known henceforth (having inherited the title of Big Idea Man of the GOP along with the “motherfucking” honorific from Newt-motherfucking-Gingrich), turned out to be surprisingly disappointing. As the media’s anointed Serious Policy and Pretty Face Conservative, he broke the hearts of many a Neutral Arbitrator when he took the stage in Tampa with a mouth just full of goddamn lies. For those of us who’ve read his budget proposals and seen the non-partisan analysis of same, the fact that the man is a compulsive liar wasn’t all that shocking. That he lies about facts that can and will be immediately fact-checked by even friendly media sources is a bit disconcerting, but such are the risks of politics in the post-truth era.


What was surprising was learning that Paul-motherfucking-Ryan did not, in fact, lie. At least, according to reliable media shills. Jennifer Rubin, Knight Templar of the Romney Media Crusade, got out ahead of the story to tell the twelve people who read her WaPo column (mostly employees of Media Matters and Alex Pareene over at Salon) that the left was totally losing their shit:

“The crowd loved it. So nearly en masse the left decided that Ryan ‘lied.’

“For starters, that is the ultimate compliment. It is in effect saying the speech worked so well and was received so well that the only thing to say is that it was a con job.

“But the ‘lies’ turn out not to be lies at all. They are not even misrepresentations or exaggerations.”


Which is true, given that only leftists count lies by omission, lies by misrepresentation, and, well, straight-out-factually-incorrect statements as, y’know, actual lies. Oh, also, Actual Grown-Ass Adults not stricken with a severe case of Werewolf Disease.


Werewolf Disease, according to various medical experts, is a Real Thing. And this is one of the clearest cases I’ve ever seen. Symptoms of Werewolf Disease include being full of lies and false equivocation, not giving a single shit about anything resembling truth or facts, and generally having a smile made of knife blades and hatred.


And, apparently, the entirety of the right wing has been stricken.


Which, really, should shock no one. Of the themed nights, one was, naturally, about rebutting a statement Obama never actually said, and another was about “Loving America,” since Democrats clearly do not.


Because apparently you can take the I-4 from Tampa International directly to the Tampa Bay Times Forum and bypass truth entirely. Select highlights of the convention include:


Yes, did you think I had somehow forgot about that? Did you think anyone, ever, anywhere, could somehow forget about that?



[Via @zdroberts]


Clint Eastwood stood on stage at the Republican National Convention and argued with a chair. Then Mitt Romney took the stage and no one was listening to a single word he said, because we were all busy thinking about Clint Eastwood arguing with a chair.


It was, to use a classic Hunter S. Thompson description, deeply weird. And, if you were watching at home and felt unsettled by the whole thing, you were not alone. Within hours the New York Times had the story on high-level finger-pointing and blame-shifting within the Romney campaign. The speech was panned by liberal commentators and Republican politicians alike.


But!


Within hours of that, The Romney Media Crusade marched forth to bravely deny that there was anything even remotely weird about the speech, and if you thought there was, well you’re just far too coastal elite to get what Clint was laying down. As Derek Hunter of the Daily News observed:


“In the convention hall, Eastwood talking to an empty chair was huge hit. In homes across the country, the reaction was the same. Inside the lefty bubble was the only place it wasn’t well received.”


Polling data released so far is split, with Public Policy Polling finding narrow disapproval in Florida and North Carolina, and Survey USA noting widespread approval among Floridian voters. Both firms are noted for having a left-leaning house effect, for more information on in-house polling biases, see Nate Silver here.


None of which matters worth a damn, Clint Eastwood’s angry chair is to this cycle what Sarah Palin’s debate performance was to the 2008 race. It doesn’t matter what the polling says, any conservative with a keyboard will tell you to shut your stupid, liberal piehole, because Clint’s speech was pitch-perfect, and he wasn’t talking to you, anyway, silly liberal. He was talking to Real America.


After the dust settled and the President ordered the hurricane to dissipate, the polling came in. The Real Clear Politics average of polls has the race at a complete tie, but it only includes two daily tracking polls that closed after the end of the convention, Gallup and Rasmussen. Gallup‘s is a seven-day registered voter poll that shows Obama with a +1 advantage, while Rasmussen‘s three-day likely voter poll gives Romney a +4 advantage for a net bounce of +5 post-convention. (Note: A late check of the polls show Rasmussen giving Romney only a +3 advantage as of 9/4/12)


Nate Silver has, as is his wont, posted an incredibly complex analysis of post-convention polling to try and determine a standard baseline for convention related bounces. If you can actually find such a number within that web of regression analysis and multi-column tables, god bless, but I’m far too tired to sort that out, so for sake of argument we’ll take the Rasmussen’s three day/likely voter poll at face value (here’s a quick list of reasons why we probably shouldn’t take Rasmussen at face value).


A five-point bounce isn’t bad, but historically it seems soft, and as the Clint Eastwood jokes filter out into the land of memegenerator and the like, we’re left struggling to see a post-VP announcement bounce, and the softest possible post-convention bounce. Meanwhile, hot on the heels of Tampa comes the DNC in North Carolina which will most likely negating any potential gain.


Assuming George Clooney doesn’t get drunk and challenge Clint Eastwood to a fist-fight (he’d lose), it’s hard to imagine that by this time next week the race won’t have returned to its status of statistical dead heat with a small, but consistent, lead showing for Obama. Worth noting: none of the outside indicators — such as Nate Silver’s chance to win, or Intrade’s prediction market — have shown any dramatic shift away from the odds of Obama winning reelection.


Which seems to indicate these conventions are a gigantic waste of time, television coverage, empty chairs, and, of course, the $136 million in taxpayer dollars spent subsidizing the political conventions this year. The campaigns themselves will spend roughly $3 billion this cycle and at the end we’ll have learned the Mitt Romney really is exactly as boring as his haircut would suggest, and that the country’s first black President is still viewed as a metaphorical antichrist by a disturbingly large number of troubled individuals, and a literal one by some that are quite famous.


All of which is bringing the Werewolf out in me, but for the sake of your edification and entertainment, I’m postponing treatment until after the election. Sixty-three days, 7 hours, 53 minutes, 7 seconds…6…5…


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