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Tilting at Windmills

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January 7, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

KLEIN ON McCAIN....Is John McCain a lock to win New Hampshire? Joe Klein doesn't believe it: "I wouldn't be surprised to see the race tighten or swing toward Romney over the next few days."

Also, from the same post, Klein watched the Republican debate with one of Frank Luntz's dial groups and reports that when the subject came to illegal immigration, "their dials plummeted when McCain said we had to be 'humane.'" Makes you proud.

Kevin Drum 1:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (31)

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Is John McCain a lock to win New Hampshire? Joe Klein doesn't believe it: "I wouldn't be surprised to see the race tighten or swing toward Romney over the next few days."

Over the next few days? They start voting in eleven hours.

Posted by: Jasper on January 7, 2008 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Fortunately, I have invested heavily in popcorn futures.

Posted by: shortstop on January 7, 2008 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Compare with November:
"
In the next segment — the debate between Romney and Mike Huckabee over Huckabee's college scholarships for the deserving children of illegal immigrants — I noticed something really distressing: When Huckabee said, "After all, these are children of God," the dials plummeted. And that happened time and again through the evening: Any time any candidate proposed doing anything nice for anyone poor, the dials plummeted (30s).
"

It's not a one-time deal. This country is populated by some truly evil human beings; and they make up a substantial fraction of the population, they're not some minority.

So much for being a christian nation.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on January 7, 2008 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Klein is such a pig.

Posted by: Pat on January 7, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

When enhanced interrogation is mentioned the dials get turned to "11".

Posted by: steve duncan on January 7, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, don't believe ANYTHING that Luntz says -- literally. He's using actors to stand in a "undecided voters" -- see for yourself:

Posted by: Martin on January 7, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

I think will McCain will get it just like the polls are saying. He'll be the "foxy grandpa" candidate compared to Mitt's slicko sadistic boss persona.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 7, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

That is to say, see for yourself here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3BDvfAf2c4

Posted by: Martin on January 7, 2008 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

"It's not a one-time deal. This country is populated by some truly evil human beings; and they make up a substantial fraction of the population, they're not some minority."

The problem many of our principled politicians have is that they are decent people trying to appeal to an increasingly indecent populace. Spitzer is a good example of this, too.

Posted by: bob h on January 7, 2008 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

This country is populated by some truly evil human beings;

Sez you. Those who can't be humane don't qualify as human.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on January 7, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, back in the 1990’s Bob Altemeyer found American politicians to be quite authoritarian. The Republican politicians where the most authoritarian group he ever surveyed.

Posted by: bellumregio on January 7, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

And why do we give one whit about what Klein has to say about anything?

Posted by: Simp on January 7, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Does that mean Republican candidates will start advocating loading illegal immigrants into boxcars and sending them . . . somewhere? That should send those dials back up to where they belong to be.

Posted by: cowalker on January 7, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

I was preparing to comment that we have to give the focus groups the benefit of the doubt, that maybe Luntz fixed the machines, or maybe it was some other aspect of the argument that they objected to, but I can't. Everybody above is right when they said some people are just assholes, and the Republicans have a bigger percentage of them than the Democrats.

Makes you wonder who you're sitting next to in a restaurant. There's a good chance that person believes in torture and in sending illegals who arrived in the last decade or two back where they came from.

Posted by: anandine on January 7, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

You know, this is weird. JOE KLEIN of all people is breaking with media orthodoxy on McCain?

Posted by: MNPundit on January 7, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm glad someone on the Republican side is trying to take an approach to immigration that is slightly more nuanced than "Deport 'em all!"

A lot of "illegals" were brought to the US as small children, so it's not like they made a choice to break the law. Meanwhile, they grew up here, went to American schools, and perceive of themselves as American citizens. So yeah, I can see why some might call sending people back to a country they might not even remember is inhumane. (Hey, if they're lucky at least they might have learned the lingo from their parents.)

Posted by: Joe Bob on January 7, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Voters swinging toward Romney in the final days? Why would they?

Romney got hammered hard in the Fox forum.

I have a hard time seeing voters shifting toward Romney. I can believe they will shift toward Huckabee, but not Romney.

The GOP has positioned the party as appealing to little guys who think they are being oppressed by regulation. Huckabee and Paul appeal to these Republicans who think of themselves as outsiders.

Romney? If he hasn't closed the sale by now, I don't think he's going to be adding any support, even if Joe Klein wishes it were true.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on January 7, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: why do you believe anything that Joe Kline says? Wait a few weeks then check out his track record.

Posted by: BigRed on January 7, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

There are no locks on the Republican side in any case, but the voting is tomorrow and I have seen no movement back to Romney. Like Carl Nyberg, I think it is conceivable that votes will move the Huckabee before tomorrow. I think McCain will win tomorrow by 5 points. For someone who always thought McCain would be the nominee, I must admit that I had finally written him off after the immigration debacle. Immigration is still his Achille's hill, but that issue has faded into the background with the assassination of Bhutto and prospect of having Huckabee at the top of the ticket. Republican voters may be coming to their senses- at least enough of them seem to for the moment.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 7, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward: Immigration is still McCain's Achille's [sic] hill [sic]

Hi.

Posted by: Iraq War, circa 2107 on January 7, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Crap. I was rather hoping for a Romney candidacy, since I think he's the most beatable due to his high bullshit to noise ratio.

But once Klein comes out and says it, you know it's plain wrong. Jeezus, this turd is wrong almost all the time. He's like Dean Broder or some of the other dumbasses in the Beltway. If you ever took what he said to the bank, turns out it was the cleaners.

Posted by: The Critic on January 7, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

I was watching part of that segment and noticed when Romney mentioned "Health care for all" the dials plummeted, but the words following were "we do NOT want socialized medicine" and the dials immediately went back up. It struck me how automated the Repubs in the room were, as soon as they heard health care for all they recoiled but as soon as a negative attack against proposed Democratic healthcare was spoken they relaxed again as if all was better.

Posted by: tom.a on January 7, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "their dials plummeted when McCain said we had to be 'humane.'" Makes you proud.

In defence of the focus group, they recognized that "humane" is a euphemism for "make little effort to enforce the law." Many of us are frustrated by leaders of both parties who have promised to enforce the law, promised to build a fence, etc., but have done little.

Joe Klein wrote: Mitt Romney, loathsome as always on this issue, had both McCain and Giuliani totally on the defensive about the definition of amnesty. Romney's argument that a $500 fine wasn't amnesty is ridiculous. What sort of hoops does he want the illegals to jump? Does he want all 12 million in prison? Does he want to deport them--and, if so, how?

Klein is correct that there's no practical way to deport or imprison 12 million illegal immigrants, but that doesn't mean we need to give them legal status. He ignored the reasonable option of leaving their status unchanged.

BTW I think Klein meant to write, "Romney's argument that a $500 fine was amnesty is ridiculous." I think a plan where illegals could stay here by paying $500 does amount to something like amnesty. Imagine how many millions of people throughout the world would be thrilled to pay a mere $500 for the privilege of immediately immigrating to this country. Why should people who have broken our laws get preference over people who obeyed the law?

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 7, 2008 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Republican voters may be coming to their senses

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...

That's just hilarious. The Republican field is made up of crackpots, warmongers, christianists and guys who stand for whatever will get them votes from the rubes who still think the Republican Party has something to offer besides death, more death, the fear of death and lowering taxes on the wealthy.

The Republican voters who have come to their senses are called Democrats.

Posted by: heavy on January 7, 2008 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is a hot tempered azzhole, and if you want to see another Bush in office only worse and if you want to see our troops in Iraq for a very long time then go ahead and vote for this sick fuck, just remember another Republican=another LIAR.

Posted by: Al on January 7, 2008 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Why should people who have broken our laws get preference over people who obeyed the law?

That's a good question. Why should Bush and Cheney be given salaries rather than prison sentences?

Posted by: heavy on January 7, 2008 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Why should people who have broken our laws get preference over people who obeyed the law?

To paraphrase Mr. Berra, if people don't want to go home, how are you going to stop them?

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on January 8, 2008 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

Luntz may have just been caught running phony focus groups (see Democratic Underground). No surprize - in the past he's never displayed the slightest concern for polling ethics (oxymoron alert!). Don't trust any of his data.

Posted by: Ancient Mariner on January 8, 2008 at 2:34 AM | PERMALINK

Well seeing as how Klien doesn't have the time nor the inclination to know anything or to do leg-work and research, who really gives a damn what his lazy, less than two-cents opinion is worth?

Posted by: me-again on January 8, 2008 at 3:13 AM | PERMALINK

Yikes! Should have been "heel". Good catch, Iraq War-Circa 2107.

As for your broader point, the Iraq War is a Republican liability, not McCain's personally. Of the likely nominee's, McCain is going to look better than the others in regards to this, especially if the violence continues to dissipate, or, at the very least, doesn't spike up again. It will be very dangerous for a Democratic candidate to promise a quick pullout of troops in the general election campaign. People are tired of the war, but they will not look kindly on someone who wants to just give up as soon as they take office. This issue is far more politically complicated than many here like to believe.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 8, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK
...the Iraq War is a Republican liability, not McCain's personally....Yancey Ward at 2:01 PM
Because of his strong support for the war, his talk about a thousand year occupation, and his outright lying about his market visit , he has made it his.

The war was lost the day Bush invaded. That loss was sealed when Bremer enforced disbanded the Iraqi army and de-Baathized the country (Abu Ghraib, the massacre at Haditha and numerous other atrocities didn't help either). Spending more lives and more treasure only to increase terrorism and anti-Americanism is a policy so stupid only a Republican could endorse it.

Posted by: Mike on January 8, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK
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