The Phony Campaign

2008-05-04 Update

Be not afraid of phoniness: some are born phony, some achieve phoniness, and some have phoniness thrust upon 'em. But which are which?

Query StringHit CountChange Since
"Barack Obama" phony208,000+34,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony207,000+30,000
"John McCain" phony186,000+25,000

  • Barack Obama has edged in front of Hillary this week. He's made phony news by being the odd man out of the current enthusiasm for a "gas tax holiday"
    “In a moment of candor, her advisers actually admitted that it wouldn’t have much of an effect on gas prices. But, they said, it’s a great political issue for Senator Clinton. So this is not about getting you through the summer, it’s about getting elected,” Obama argued. “This is what passes for leadership in Washington, phony ideas, calculated to win elections instead of actually solving problems.”

    Obama said that a Clinton has deployed a surrogate, who is also lobbyist for Shell Oil, to pitch the gas tax holiday to voters. “It’s a shell game, literally,” Obama said.

    I recall the "shell game" phrase from Deval Patrick's TV ads back in 2006, during his winning campaign for the Massachusetts governorship; he used it to oppose a decrease in the income tax rate. Here's a sample, and you might notice some other themes being recycled this year:

    This isn't the first time Obama has borrowed phraseology from Patrick's campaign. I don't care to call it "plagiarism"; a more interesting question is whether Patrick's fate is a leading indicator for Obama's.

    Jon Keller made that comparison in yesterday's WSJ. Signs aren't good:

    What the Bay State got … is a pedestrian liberal governor who is remarkably quick to retreat in the face of pressure from the status quo.

    Mr. Patrick's first cave-in came just weeks after he was elected, and before he was even sworn into office. On the campaign trail he promised to cut $735 million in wasteful spending from the state budget. But when the Democratic Senate president rebuked him for it, the governor-elect backpedalled. The Boston Globe summed it up this way: "Patrick backed off and said he didn't really mean it."

    If you want a preview of the Obama administration, Keller's article is a good place to start.

  • Part of the problem with the gas tax holiday is that you can't find any economists—left, right, or center—claiming that it will have any beneficial effects whatsoever. This does not deter Hillary:
    “I’m not going to put my lot in with economists,” Clinton told George Stephanopolous on ABC’s ‘This Week’ after he asked her to name a single economist supporting her plan. “If we actually did it right, if we had a president who used all the tools of the presidency, we would design it in such a way that it would be implemented effectively.”
    You have to admire that level of delusional hubris. Hey, all we have to do is design it.

  • But just because McCain and Clinton are so shamelessly pandering on this issue doesn't mean Obama's actually got better ideas. David Frum makes the point succinctly:
    And what is Obama's non-pandering alternative? Demonizing oil company profiteering for high prices - and offering another round of economically dsyfunctional subsidies to ethanol! If that's integrity, let's have more pandering.
    And more phoniness!

Last Modified 2014-12-01 11:02 AM EDT