August 18, 2004

Life Imitates Spoof

For the three of you who don’t know this already, The Onion is a satirical newspaper. It is not “the paper.” The stories they publish are, you know, made up and stuff.

Sometimes they run bogus pieces that could just as easily be real. Area Man Confounded by Buffet Procedure, for example.

Same goes for this one from the last issue.

WICHITA, KS—Delivering the central speech of his 10-day "Solution For America" bus campaign tour Monday, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry outlined his one-point plan for a better America: the removal of George W. Bush from the White House.

"If I am elected in November, no inner-city child will have to live in an America where George Bush is president," Kerry said, addressing a packed Maize High School auditorium. "No senior citizen will lie awake at night, worrying about whether George Bush is still the chief executive of this country. And no American—regardless of gender, regardless of class, regardless of race—will be represented by George Bush in the world community."


"This country has embraced a new and dangerously ineffective disregard for the world," Kerry said. "In order to win the global war against terror, we must promote democracy, freedom, and opportunity around the world. My national-defense policy will be guided by one imperative: Don't be George Bush. As will my plans to create a strong economy, protect civil rights, develop a better healthcare system, and improve homeland security."

Heck, run it in Newsweek.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 18, 2004 06:45 PM

It's indistinguishable from the real thing.

Posted by: David at August 18, 2004 08:32 PM

The Onion demonstrates why a lot of so-called "swing voters" will unfortunately vote for Kerry : he is not GW Bush.

Certainly it would be nice to see something like this run in Newsweek. Ain't gonna happen of course. Anyone who reads Newsweek can plainly see it is a mouthpiece for the Left, in spite of the fact that it periodically throws a bone to the Right by carrying a George Will column.

Fox News, segments of the internet and talk radio are the only parts of American media that are not cheerleading for Kerry.

Very few people are enthusiastic about Kerry because of Kerry. If this increasingly unpopular Iraq War was not such an issue, the Kerry campaign would already be in full meltdown.

Posted by: freeguy at August 18, 2004 10:37 PM

I'm not so sure that the war is becoming "more unpopular" as time goes on.

Some people get it and agree with it, some people don't think war is the correct means to the end, and some think a triple secret super duper pipeline is being built between Iraq and the backyard of W's ranch that will pump pure energon into his pockets, which are lined with Evil Fleece™.

I think certain segments of the population that never agreed with the war in the first place are becoming more vocal and screaming more loudly as time passes, and I think certain publications are making it easier for certain voices to be heard at a disproportionate volume and frequency.

Of course, I'm not a pollster, so I can only go by what I've heard and read. But in all my reading, I've never read an account of someone saying, "you know, I used to think it was important that we oust Saddam and make sure he doesn't harbour terrorist camps or pay blood money to suicide bombers, but as time goes on, I've changed my mind."

Does anyone know of such a creature?

Granted, that's a silly example. Far more common, probably, are those like our host, who were initially supportive, but are aghast at what they perceive to be the horrible mismanagement of the "peace." (in which case I'd like to refer to a Stephen Green article a couple weeks back, over on vodkapundit).

Are the polls really reflecting true opinions? Do they ask the same 1,000 people every time, and some of them just change their minds? Or are the questions phrased differently? ("Do you support the war in Iraq" vs "Do you think the War could have been managed better?") Or do they just poll more Democrats and fewer Republicans every couple days to create the impression of a trend?

Reading the shrill invective on both sides of the aisle in various places, I find myself sincerely hoping that there's a silent majority out there that haven't lost their minds. :)

Posted by: bkw at August 18, 2004 11:34 PM

Yeah, the Onion has a pretty solid point on this one.

You don't really have to win the presidency to become President. You just have to be the right guy in the right place at the right time running against the guy who loses it.

If John Kerry becomes President, it won't be because a majority of Americans voted FOR John Kerry. It will be because a majority of Americans voted AGAINST George Bush. No majority of Americans would vote FOR a Massachusetts liberal. No such majority exists, I'm afraid. The real question mark lies in what shape a Not-Bush-Administration would take under the command of John Kerry. Not being George W. Bush only gets you in the door. If history is any guide, it could probably be anything.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at August 18, 2004 11:35 PM


Dude, I personally know a ton of really diverse people who have changed their minds about the war AND I am a pollster or at least can say I work at a polling place. I'd like to think I know a thing or two about this, and trust me when I say you can trust the scientific methodology the pros use. When they say it's a 3 or 4 point margin of error, it really is.

Alot of middle-of-the-road-types are isolationists at heart, especially here in the midwest. They went along because they thought it HAD to be done because of WMDs that never existed. These isolationists are incredibly hawkish but also incredibly uncomfortable with needless foreign intanglement. They're middle-class blue-collar folk who hate their jobs and love their families. They just want to be left the hell alone, they don't have the time to follow current events the way we do because they're busy working so much, and they're not about to grasp the complex bigger-picture-justification for the war on their own when no one in power is out there taking the time to explain it to them.

Tony Blair, unlike George Bush, has done a marvelous job laying out the complex bigger-picture-reasons for the War in Iraq. He does a better job spelling it out for people in a single speech than George Bush has done in all of his. Dubya made it all about evildoers and WMDs because he thought it'd be the easiest and most successful explanation to sell these types of folks. He was right, ofcourse, but now it's coming back to bite him on the ass.

Sometimes, as John Kennedy said, we have to do hard things because they are hard. It would have been harder for an intellectual doofus like George Bush to sell the War by making it about the bigger picture. He might not have been able to garner the public support for it. He's not that great a leader, frankly. But God, I wish he would have tried.

The American people are turning their backs on the War they were sold and they should. Evildoers and WMDs that don't exist aren't good enough reasons to go to War. Transforming the Middle East and making the world safe for democracy are good enough reasons, however. They're the best reasons, in fact. It's too bad they're not the ones we got.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at August 19, 2004 12:10 AM

This is a 100% REAL CNN article

Rumsfeld unsure of missing 'mojo'

Friday, October 31, 2003 Posted: 1:56 PM EST (1856 GMT)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said he does not know whether or not he has lost his mojo, as a leading news magazine suggested, largely because he doesn't really know what mojo is.

"Is Rumsfeld Losing His Mojo?" was the headline in Time magazine above a story about Rumsfeld's recent difficulties concerning Iraq policy and differences with U.S. lawmakers.

"Have you lost your mojo?" CNN's Jamie McIntyre asked Rumsfeld during a Pentagon briefing.

Rumsfeld said he did not consult a dictionary -- as he has for words like slog about which he has sparred with reporters -- but he spoke with an aide who had.

"And they asked me that, and I said, 'I don't know what it means.' And they said, 'In 1926 or something, it had to do with jazz music."'

Rumsfeld added, "And I guess the answer is that beauty's in the eye of the beholder. I don't know enough about mojo to know."

The Webster's New World Dictionary defines mojo as "a charm or amulet thought to have magic powers," or "power, luck, etc., as of magical or supernatural origin." The word is thought to be of Creole origin.

Mojo has most recently come into popular culture in connection with the "Austin Powers" movies, starring Mike Myers, in which mojo was portrayed as the secret behind the title character's libido. At one point, Myers complains, "Crikey, I've lost my mojo!"

Legendary blues singer Muddy Waters also famously sang in the 1960's, "I got my mojo working, but it just won't work on you."

Posted by: Moonbat_One at August 19, 2004 12:25 AM

Hmmm...running that onion article in Newsweek. Lately that would be an upgrade for Newsweek, who should replace their magazine title banner with the three chimps that hear nothing, see nothing and speak nothing. Because when it comes to John Kerry, they refuse to print anything that is even remotely critical of the senator. At least the onion usually takes a fair swing at everyone.

Posted by: Jim at August 19, 2004 05:28 AM

The polls lie.

Posted by: Eric Bliar at August 19, 2004 06:22 AM

I'd like to think I know a thing or two about this, and trust me when I say you can trust the scientific methodology the pros use. When they say it's a 3 or 4 point margin of error, it really is.

Bullpoopey! The statistical basis for polling assumes that the non-response rate to a given poll is very small. If it isn't, then the polls are only representative of those willing to respond to polls. That is, they guage only a subset of a given population.

But the polling organizations will not release their non-response rates. Why not? Rumor has it that it is because the non-response rates are well into double digits. I can only speak for myself when I say that I hang up on pollsters.

Polling today is unreliable at best.

Posted by: spc67 at August 19, 2004 08:50 AM

Yep. You're right. Non-response rates are in the double digits. I don't think it has nearly the negative effect you speak of, though. Believe it or not, 99 times out of 100, people who will take the 3 to 5 minutes to complete the survey aren't all that different from those who won't. Well, unless they're old and lonely. I'll give you that one. Old and lonely people tell you what they think you want to hear.

Anyways, please trust me on this one. The way they break them down with demographics and statistics takes EVERYTHING into account, even the old and lonely issues. If you're looking for bias, look at how the questions are worded. That's where the skeptical eye belongs. And be careful not to read too much into the polls, in and of themselves. Eric would tell us that polls lie. Polls don't lie. Polls are nothing but numbers. But people in the media do when they are reaching too hard for a big story. They often interpret out some big hidden meaning that just isn't there. And people lie sometimes, too. If the questions are too personal, don't put a whole lot of stock into the respondents' answers being truthful at all. Just use common sense.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at August 19, 2004 01:12 PM

Thanks for the clarification Grant.

My own social demographic is probably way the hell too limited (e.g. "how did Nixon win? No one I know voted for him!") -- pretty much everyone I socialize with at least knows what blogs are, and most of them read them, and a good many of them have one of their own.

I must admit a certain amount of skepticism re: polls after a number of stories about polls in LA Times sampling 40% democrats, 30% repubs, and 30% independents -- or some skew to that effect. Also a throwaway remark at Captain's Quarters ("The new CBS poll ... that traditionally oversamples Democrats") makes me think this is not uncommon.

Lies, damned lies, statistics ... and polls. :)

Posted by: bkw at August 19, 2004 09:52 PM

Polling methods are deteriorating over time, primarily for technological reasons. Pollsters don't attempt to call cell phones, and they don't count call screeners as non-responders. Both of these trends are worsening over time.

I'm guessing there won't even be an attempt at a correction until we have a "Dewey Wins" headline.

Grant, do you know of any attempts to allow for these variables?

Posted by: mj at August 21, 2004 02:29 AM
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