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Finally, Some Common Sense Politics

My friend and erstwhile pastor Toby Sumpter just posted some excellent thoughts about why Republicans aren't prolife--"Muslim school kids aren’t as cute as American babies," why Obama's not much to worry about--"I don’t trust Obama, but I didn’t trust any of his predecessors either," and not much to get excited about either--"Obama was elected primarily for his smooth words and good looks," and why Sarah Palin might actually be better than the alternatives--"It would be a human in office and not a machine. It would be a person for a change."

I took issue with him on the last point, but it's definitely worth checking out.


"Obama was elected primarily for his smooth words and good looks"

I don't know to what extent you're endorsing this or how seriously you're taking it, but it's probably not a very useful theory for how Obama (or any other politician) got elected.

I don't have the data on hand (though I think I did have a post about it back during the election), but during the campaign there was this remarkably strong correlation between McCain's approval rating and the DOW index (the DOW being one of the most salient indicators of economic performance to the average person). I mean, a really strikingly tight correlation there. And in general, poor economic conditions portend a power shift in electoral politics. What is interesting is that this is the case regardless of ideology. So for example when the economy tanked last year, incumbent governments all over the world--whether conservative or liberal--became extremely unpopular.

So I think the best explanation for Obama's win: he won because he wasn't a Republican, and he wasn't therefore associated with the tanking economy. (To be clear: I'm not saying that Republicans are necessarily responsible for the economic collapse; it's just that the public perceives it that way, justifiably or not.)

November 24, 2009 at 9:27 AM  

Fair enough. But the smooth words and good looks certainly helped a lot, especially when the opposition is an eyesore like McCain or Hillary Clinton.

And don't get me wrong...I'm not picking on Obama. I'd like a good-looking leader, not a large-jowled cadaver like McCain. And good speaking ability is a fine political art that has been too long neglected.

November 24, 2009 at 12:44 PM  

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