The Phony Campaign

2008-06-29 Update

Every so often, something … phony happens with the Google Hit Machine. Like, for example, today:

Query StringHit CountChange Since
"Barack Obama" phony753,000+533,000
"John McCain" phony636,000+439,000
"Bob Barr" phony10,600-35,400

Did McCain's and Obama's hit counts really go up over a factor of three? Did Bob Barr's hit counts really go down over a factor of four? The Google doesn't lie, but sometimes I think it counts funny. Anyway:

  • Charles Krauthammer notes Barackrobatics on (a) the FISA compromise; (b) NAFTA; (c) public campaign financing; (d) Iranian negotiations; (e) Pastor Wright. OK, so Obama's just another "calculated and cynical" pol, but:
    I merely note with amazement that his media swooners seem to accept his every policy reversal with an equanimity unseen since the Daily Worker would change the party line overnight -- switching sides in World War II, for example -- whenever the wind from Moscow changed direction.
    It's an overworn cliché, but that won't stop us: the watchdog press turns into a lapdog press pretty easily.

  • One such media swooner is Noam Scheiber of the New Republic. Noam looks at
    … the sum total of Obama's recent pronouncements and maneuvering--on the FISA bill, on the Supreme Court's child rape decision, the DC gun-ban decision, his campaign-finance opt-out, his joint forums stiff-arm …
    … and basically says, no big dealio.
    To the extent that it draws attention from these insinuations, the "typical pol" charge may even help him somewhat. Thanks to his race, his eloquence, and his relative youth, Obama's just never going to come across as completely typical. In some sense the bigger risk is not being typical enough.
    "Typical pol" is one thing; "typical phony liberal pol in the Mondale/McGovern/Carter tradition" is another. Will that play this year? Maybe.

  • We intend to stick to our term Barackrobatics for describing this phenomenon. However, we're happy to note the increasing web presence of another term: "Obamafuscation", which is getting (as I type) 412 Googles; that's approximately 411 more than you get for Barackrobatics, so it may take the day, neologistically speaking. The MinuteMan is fond of the term, for one thing. Here he notes the following triple-yutz:
    "That statement was obviously an inartful attempt to explain the Senator's consistent position," Obama spokesman Bill Burton tells ABC News.
    "Inartful". Heh.

  • Phony fans will want to check out "For some voters, style trumps substance" from J. Scott Orr of the Newhouse News Service. There's depressing news on that front for McCain. Never mind about terrorism, taxes, supreme court nominations, and all that boring stuff, what about body language?
    When it comes to body language, Obama has an advantage, said Ginny Pulos, a New York media consultant and expert on the subject.

    But McCain has improved dramatically with experience, she said, losing some of the rigidity and a phony-looking grin that detracted from his presentations in prior years.

    Actually, I was under the impression that McCain was still using the phony-looking grin. From an analysis by a speech coach made earlier this month:
    McCain displayed an awkward, phony smile. His coaches are telling him to smile, but he hasn't figured out how to make a smile sincere. Smiling is a universal expression of warmth and approachability. Be sure to keep your non-verbal behavior in alignment with your message. How to smile sincerely.
    Remember our motto, Senator: "The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made." You need intensive coaching so you your smile looks less phony.

  • On that score, Obama's a master in comparison. Returning to the Orr article:
    "Credibility is established when our words, the tone of our voice and what we are doing with our body are all in alignment, all working together. Obama has that mastered," [body language expert Ginny Pulos] said.

    "If you watch what he's doing with his body as he speaks, his hands are outstretched, his palms open, so you get a feeling of sincerity. Sometimes he touches his chest, which signals that he is talking from his heart," Pulos said.

    Suuuure he is.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 11:00 AM EDT

Experimental Results


This week's test of the Sunday Basic Cable Movie Actor Theory:

  • 2:00AM on AMC: Patriot Games (Harrison Ford)
  • 5:00AM on TBS: The Whole Ten Yards (Bruce Willis)
  • 10:00AM on TNT: The Fugitive (Harrison Ford)
  • 12:30PM on AMC: Patriot Games (Harrison Ford)
  • 11:30PM on TNT: The Fugitive (Harrison Ford)
The Fugitive is a great, great, movie. But has anyone on God's green earth not seen it?

Anyway: our theory stands unrefuted for the past nineteen weeks.