Friday, August 15, 2008

Election 08 trivia bites – The minds and styles behind the campaigns

Seldom is there such a marked contrast between contestants for high political office. In trying to divine those difference we are immediately with one candidate whose erratic behaviour spawns endless words and analysis. The other presents a discipline and control which reveals only what he wants revealed.

Given that dynamic a clear tit for tat analysis of style and mindset is highly problematic, but we have still managed a collection of trivia bites, plucked from the presses.

Previous: Coulter and Huffington

The candidates, presumably

The Patriot Game

The Middle East

It's the economy, stupid

Campaign about Campaign...

Campaign Vs policy


  • McCain is called the White Tornado – the Chaos candidate
  • style contains contradictions
  • a shoot-from-the-hip tendency
  • assertions of damn-the-consequences authenticity
  • a grudging acceptance on the other of the need to give in to the discipline of programmed politics
  • preaches the need to improvise under pressure
  • “You’ve got to have competing opinions”
  • “I appreciate and want some of the tension”

Matt Dowd, a key strategist in President's Bush's 2004 re-election race, said that the 2008 election is "either about Obama or about Bush. If it's about Bush, McCain loses. If it's about Obama, he has a possibility to win."

  • Barack Obama represents something big -- an inspiration movement
  • built for himself a reputation for consensus-building in the state senate
  • does not seem to suffer from the narrow-minded presumption that those who disagree must be either stupid or acting in bad faith
  • seems to be a liberal Democrat with the kind of opinions we expect liberal Democrats to hold
  • seems to offer is a respite from pettiness as a necessary prelude for policy breakthroughs
  • You've got to break out of what I call the 50-plus-one pattern of presidential politics


Ned Martel, Men's Vogue deputy editor, on dress style

  • McCain's style is "traditional Republican senatorial garb": a dark suit, a striped tie, solid shirt and, sometimes, the slightly grandfatherly sweater.
  • Obama often goes without a tie and is either in a dark solid suit or khaki pants. He favors blue or silver ties and white shirts.
  • Both candidates wear bracelets given to them by mothers of fallen soldiers
  • "It would be inappropriate if McCain looked as stylish as Obama — he has a different physique, he's a different age and he's much more conservative" Martel
  • McCain's clothes: they're too big. "I think what he's trying to do is create a bigger body image, maybe he uses bigger shoulder pads, but I think it makes him look smaller" Evangelia Souris – Fashion manager
  • “…the former fighter pilot has a quick step and looks dapper in uniform — he can carry off a leather bomber jacket even at 71” Martel

By their offices ye shall know them

  • McCain's office oozes comfy clutter and informality: random piles of books, a fortune-cookie message taped to the desk, an abundance of tchotchkes and bric-a-brac.
  • Obama's office feels more like a gallery of modern art: precisely placed objects, sparsely adorned surfaces, clean lines, choreographed displays.
  • Both offices show their occupants' sentimental streak
  • McCain has a picture of his favorite high school teacher, and a 1904 Navy register that lists his grandfather as a midshipman.
  • Obama has a photo of the cliff in Hawaii where his mother's ashes were scattered into the Pacific, and a tiger-beating stick from his grandmother's village in Kenya.

Campaign Events

  • Obama’s events are multi-cultural extravaganzas
  • McCain’s are almost entirely white
  • Obama draws crowds of all ages
  • McCain’s crowd trends older
  • Obama’s crowds are often huge
  • McCain’s are more intimate
  • The name, the skin color, the cosmopolitan upbringing give Obama the aura of otherness Patriotic themes dominate at McCain events

On Conflict

  • McCain comes from a mindset of the past where war is an acceptable substitution for diplomacy when opposing parties become entrenched in their positions
  • “You’re either for us or against us”
  • leans toward the old mindset of shooting first and asking questions later
  • “McCain's insistence on "winning in Iraq," remaining there "until Iraq is secure," and "bomb-bomb-bombing Iran" reveal the same mindset that made General Power so dangerous” Gen. Thomas Power - Cold War head of the Strategic Air Command
  • McCain can see no alternative to military victory, no matter what the cost
  • McCain began publicly urging the United States to overthrow Saddam Hussein as early as 1997


enigma4ever said...

this is really interesting and really welldone...see the MSM would never be able to pull this together would be too challenging for them....

I think most of us just wish the next 80 days just pass has dragged on and on...

thank you for this...

Cart said...

Thank you Enigma. As you know it took a bit of doing this time. Your man BO doesn't give away more than he deems suitable :)

abi said...

What enigma said. Very interesting composite portraits, Cart.

One of the big differences I get from this is impulsiveness vs discipline. I think the person with his finger on the button ought to have more of the latter.

Cart said...

Abi, that disciple made this particular post extremely difficult.Hard to give equal space in an unequal contest. Discipline limits the copy a little.