The Phony Campaign

2008-03-30 Update

The phony race continues to be tight as a tick.

Query StringHit CountChange Since
"Hillary Clinton" phony200,000-25,000
"Barack Obama" phony195,000+3,000
"John McCain" phony183,000-15,000

  • The Pew Research Center, apparently not sold on the merits of our Google-hit research methodology, actually polled Democrats on the phoniness of their candidates. Key phony results:
    • "roughly twice as many white Democrats say the word 'phony' describes Clinton than say it describes Obama (30% vs. 16%)."

    • "Democratic women voters are about as likely as Democratic men to say the descriptors hard-to-like and phony apply to Clinton."

    • "views of Hillary Clinton among white Democratic voters are more influenced by perceptions that she is phony than by any other trait or emotion tested."

    It's completely awesome that a reputable polling firm is asking voters about whether their candidates are phony.

  • Both Obama and Clinton look forward to solving the Medicare funding crisis with a huge increase in Nanny-statism aimed at Americans of Mass:
    Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton may differ (slightly) on health-care policy reform, but at least they agree on how to pay for it. At one debate, Mr. Obama announced that "if we went back to the obesity rates that existed in 1980, that would save the Medicare system a trillion dollars." Mrs. Clinton mirrors the claim on her Web site: "Medicare could save over a trillion dollars over 25 years if obesity among seniors could be returned to levels in the 1980s."
    That's from a Dallas Morning News op-ed from Daniel Engber. Engber is quick to reality-check the claim:
    Some fact checking revealed that their numbers (apparently taken from a RAND Corp. study) were a bit off. According to Eric Finkelstein, a widely cited authority on the economic cost of obesity, they should have said the savings would be $200 billion.
    Ah. What's a mere $800 billion overstatement in the heat of a campaign? We'll still be able to save a bunch in medical costs for taxpayers if we get those tubbies to slim down, right? Not so fast:
    But a pair of new epidemiological studies reveals that these attempts to wring money out of the obese are misleading and misguided. Worse, the obesity cost estimates used to justify them are a danger to public health.
    I encourage you to check out the details at the link; it's a good debunking of the notion that it's an easy economic call to have government save us from ourselves. Engber's conclusion:
    We're all interested in the most efficient ways to extend life spans and improve our quality of life. But the rhetoric of wasted fat dollars does little for our health; the claim that obesity costs the government $1 trillion is absurd at best and self-fulfilling at worst.

    Instead, presidential candidates should pledge support for a federal ban on weight-based discrimination. If we stop blaming fat people for our problems, they might start feeling better – and start saving us money.

  • Engber aimed his guns at Obama and Clinton, but McCain's looking to hire the nanny for us as well. At his official site, ironically under the heading "John McCain Believes in Personal Responsibility":
    Public health initiatives must be undertaken with all our citizens to stem the growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes, and to deter smoking.
    Sigh. You might as well bookmark the Official NHLBI BMI Calculator [link updated 2014-07-02, thanks to Ryan Bauer] now; BMI reporting will probably become mandatory sometime next year, no matter who wins.

Last Modified 2014-07-06 10:05 PM EST