Pew issued a report yesterday with new numbers on the presidential race that underscore some themes likely to endure throughout the campaign. A few points deserve special note. First, Pew highlights a point I expect we'll hear repeatedly for the balance of the campaign: This is no Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum election. Americans hold very divergent views of the two candidates. For example, they think Obama has new ideas, but they believe McCain is more qualified to be president. Pew writes this:
Voters see the candidates' personal strengths and weaknesses in starkly different terms. Fully 74% of voters, including a solid majority of McCain supporters (58%), say that Obama rather than McCain "has new ideas." McCain holds about a two-to-one advantage in views of which candidate is "personally qualified to be president" (55% to 27%). In previous campaigns, voters' assessments of the candidates' traits were more evenly balanced.
Second, while McCain suffers from an "enthusiasm" gap, as Stephen Hayes, among others, has noted, Obama continues to struggle with consolidating his own Democratic base. According to Pew:
John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, has an enthusiasm problem. McCain engenders less strong support than does Obama and has much weaker support than George W. Bush did at this stage in his presidential campaigns.
While Obama draws more enthusiastic support, he has a unity problem. Clinton's former supporters have moved in Obama's direction since the primaries ended, but significant numbers remain undecided or say they might vote for McCain in the fall.
Third, McCain continues to do well with "independents," a significant voter group both campaigns are working hard to persuade. "Independents remain evenly split, as was the case in late May; 42 percent support Obama while 41 percent support McCain," according to Pew. Finally, compared to 2004, a larger percentage of these independent voters remain undecided.
Compared with four years ago, a much greater share of independents are either undecided or say they might change their minds between now and the election. Nearly half of independents (46%) are undecided or may change their minds, up from 28% in June 2004.
Candidate differences, voter enthusiasm, consolidating base voters and winning the swing population are all topics I expect we'll hear a lot about in months ahead.
British troops betrayed by their Leftist government
Research conducted by the Ministry of Defence, and published this week, showed the shocking finding that around half of the brave men and women in our Forces are suffering low morale. Many would leave if they could.
It is, of course, demoralising for our Forces to be caught up in two apparently unwinnable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, those who join the Services do so with a view to the possibility of having to go into battle, and to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country and for the civilised values of our nation.
What they do not expect is to go into battle with inferior equipment that makes them sitting ducks for a vicious enemy. Nor do they expect the politicians who take the decisions that affect their deployment to lie to them about why they are in the front line, or to lie about the quality of the kit that they are expected to use when engaging the enemy. This is the root of the betrayal of every soldier, sailor and airman in our Forces: and it is a betrayal not merely of the poor bloody infantry, or of cannon-fodder among the enlisted men and women, but of the most senior officers too.
Almost daily we hear of brave soldiers being blown up in Afghanistan because their Land Rovers are useless, or being killed or injured because their air transport falls out of the sky. If you talk to Labour loyalists about this - not that there are many of those left these days - you are fed the line that there used to be problems with kit, but these have been resolved. They jolly well haven't. But when anyone in authority seeks to argue the contrary they are summarily dealt with.
Look at the case of General Sir Richard Dannatt, an honourable man and Christian soldier in the most literal sense of the term. Distressed by the offhand treatment of soldiers for whom, as Chief of the General Staff, he is ultimately responsible, he has made his feelings known regularly since taking up that post. This is the highest mark of honour for him, and the right thing to do on behalf of his subordinates: but it has, inevitably, simply attracted contempt from his political masters.
What will happen to our Armed Forces if this goes on is all too clear. Patriotic and brave young people simply won't want to join them. Those in the ranks will leave at an ever-higher rate, fed up with the contempt with which they are being treated. Officers, depressed at the treatment they and those under them are getting, will simply choose a better-paid job in civilian life. If you doubt any of this, go to the internet and look at some of the blogs run by services insiders to see just how shamefully bad things are, not least in the MoD itself.
British blog, "Harry's Place", which is critical of Islam, is being sued by an Islamist for accurate reporting about the Islamist. Under English libel law, the Islamist is at an advantage. So Harry may need financial support to fight the matter through the courts. I will certainly donate if that need arises.
Media slime: "The L.A. Times, out of the thin blue air - apropos of no legitimate news angle - decided to run a 1,700-word feature on the Republican's first marriage and 1980 divorce. An unapologetic slime job with no possible justification as news. It's kind of funny how anyone who raises Obama's Indonesian education (which dates to the same era as McCain's first marriage) is slammed as a smear artist. But 30-year-old news about the Republican's divorce - hey, that's relevant and timely!"
Gasoline Is So Expensive, They're Resorting to Pedal-By Shootings: "Two men with gang affiliations were shot by a person on a mountain bike Wednesday afternoon in the Northwest Side's Avondale neighborhood. The shooting happened about 4:20 p.m. in the 2900 block of North Elston Avenue, police News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli said. Two men were on the street when an unknown person riding a mountain bike fired shots at them, Mirabelli said. The shooting is believed to be gang-related" (H/T Taranto)
The destructive drug "war": "Ever since the Progressive Era the United States government has pursued a policy relying primarily on punishment to curb drug abuse, with abuse and use being considered largely synonymous. While the program has always been a mixture of state coercion and drug treatment, the bulk of the funding has gone into maintaining prohibition. As a result, this country has a racially biased overcrowded prison system on the verge of collapse. We have a law enforcement system employing often very brutal tactics which accomplish very little in way of ending drug use. Our medical system is denying people in pain the medication they need to ease their suffering. And, the nation's economic system must come up with billions of dollars each year to pay for this activity."
For more postings from me, see OBAMA WATCH, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)