Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

About That Poll

According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, "being over the age of 72, a Mormon, twice divorced or a smoker all are bigger drags on a candidate's support than is gender or race." What's most striking about the poll is that it asks about such unusual topics in the first place. Race and gender are pretty standard things to poll about, but the peculiar categories of "over 72," "a Mormon," "twice divorced" and "smoker" seem pretty obviously keyed to what intuition suggests might be weaknesses in the candidacies of McCain, Romney, Giuliani and Obama, respectively. Of course, there's no reason to avoid such topical questions - after all, these people are running for the presidency right now.

But why does this poll avoid every obvious potential specific weakness of Hillary Clinton's candidacy? Is the point to make Senator Clinton look good, or "inevitable?" Or are the pollsters just dense? For example, John Fund today scribes a pointed and astute analysis of why Mrs. Clinton's biggest problem may be voters' unease with dynastic politics. While Mr. Fund's particular take is clever and characteristically his personal style, the general topic of voter sensitivity to dynastic politicians such as Senator Clinton is hardly obscure or subtle or novel, and it is certainly a more respectable voter concern than a candidate's religious orientation, for example. It comes up automatically and constantly and appropriately whenever Jeb Bush is discussed even in passing. So why does the Washington Post-ABC News Poll avoid this topic?

How about asking about candidates who have never explained large commodities trading profits that beat the market so much that any option-back-dating corporate officer would be green with envy? And isn't it more than a bit odd that a poll including so many topical, candidate-specific questions omits to ask about the voters' take on a candidate whose brother seems to have sold a presidential criminal pardon just before the candidate herself cleared out of the White House? Would it be too delicate for a poll asking about religion, marital history and age to include a question or two regarding a candidate who never denounced her husband's pardon of, say, Marc Rich? It wouldn't be too hard to come up with a slew of other such topical, specific questions pertaining to Senator Clinton the same way the Washington Post-ABC News Poll question specifically pertain to her competitors.

But there are no such specific questions in that poll. Strange that is. Passing strange.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Another Step Beyond

It seems that Ms. Royal has trouble learning from even her serious mistakes, a very dangerous trait in a high level politician. The Wall Street Journal Reports:
Days after her remarks on Quebec sovereignty, a famous French comedian called Ms. Royal pretending to be Quebec's prime minister. During the call, which he recorded and then aired on French radio, he compared her comments to supporting independence for the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, where sovereignty also is a divisive issue. Ms. Royal joked that the French wouldn't mind, but then hurriedly added: "Don't repeat that. It will create another incident in France." It did, prompting derision from the Sarkozy camp.
My post immediately below on this topic was intended as tongue-in-cheek parody. What does it say about Ms. Royal that she seems to effortlessly move beyond parody while seeking the presidency of France?

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