"Conversation 16" - The National
I'm a confident liar . . .
That line has been running through my head all day. For some reason.
- Spent the early evening listening to Nate Silver flogging his book at the local book store. Nate is something of a rock star in this part of the world. My wife was urging me to hurry given all of the 538 groupies who were no doubt streaming into the neighborhood -- I pleaded that a bathroom stop was necessary as I could not wet myself in front of the great Mr. Silver. She noted that Nate could no doubt put odds on the likelihood of that sort of thing happening. This is the kind of bathroom humor we go for up here in Ward 3 of DC.
Silver was quite good and did, naturally, draw a huge crowd. He's like an eager young high school teacher with an honors class -- he assumes we will get what he says. I got the chance to ask him 1) if he read the comments on his blog; and 2) what he made of the invective sometimes directed at him in the comments by right wingers who do not like his numbers. He indicated that he reads the comments from time to time and, becoming a bit animated, described hyperpartisanship as "evil." He elaborated, I think making his essential point, that he feels that people who don't make some sort of effort to understand the world objectively succumb to evil impulses. It was an interesting moment -- a data driven guy who is passionate about trying to understand the world as it truly is, running into people whose reality is defined by tribal affinities. He admitted that his own politics notwithstanding if he picked Romney to win he would be rooting for him to win, as a mark of his professional skill (and his pecuniary interest in same).
It was quite enjoyable listening to him. I remain incredibly impressed with the rigor and integrity he brings to his task.
- I am finding that 24 hours later I am growing considerably more sanguine about last night's debate. I have the gut feeling that Romney's "victory" will prove ephemeral and that his lies and his steamrolling manner are not going to play well as all of this gets digested. Already one gets the sense that multiple lines of attack are going to be pursued by the Obama campaign and that at least some of these will draw blood -- from an already wounded candidate. Additionally, it appears that the mainstream media, spurred on in large part by the liberal blogosphere, will scrutinize the Romney prevarications in a way that has not always been the case. And most importantly, we get down to the reality of the few undecided voters likely to be swayed by the debate -- how big is that demographic?
We'll see what the polls look like over the next 24-72 hours bring.
- To anyone who is skeptical of the powers of great editing, I recommend this post from Sullivan regarding William Seward, Lincoln's Secretary of State, who wrote a very different ending to Lincoln's first inaugural address than Lincoln's original and somewhat belligerent conclusion. Steward helped take the tone of the address into a far more conciliatory territory -- Lincoln turned it into pure poetry, one of the greatest pieces of writing in American history. Well worth taking a look at.
Update: New jobs and unemployment figures. The latest figures on job growth were just released and they strike me as modestly good news -- the September figure of 114,000 jobs is okay, but not overwhelming, but the comparaple August figures have now been revised upward from 96,000 to 142,000 and the July figures from 141,000 to a very robust 181,000. That's 437,000 new jobs over the last three months, which is the kind of figure that could actually sustain a recovery. Moreover, unemployment has dropped below 8% for virtually the first time in Obama's term to 7.8%, while -- and this is really important I think -- the workforce has actually expanded by 418,000. In other words the drop in the unemployment rate is not due to a shrinking labor force as it has been at other times over the last four years. I think this gives the Administration a pretty good story to tell in terms of urging people to stick with them. It also seems consonant with the recent uptick in economic confidence among the pubic in recent polls.
I have to see how the MSM is portraying this.
What's up with you?