Monday, October 06, 2008

Shirts v. Skins

With each new day bringing about increasingly surreal events, I find that some of the best political commentary is being delivered by behavior scientists, psychologists, and other people who pay more attention with the "hows" and "whys" of belief rather than the "whats".

For those of you who haven't already, please take the time to bookmark Shankar Vedantam. Here he is talking sports and politics:
"Party identification is part of your social identity, in the same way you relate to your religion or ethnic group or baseball team," said Gary C. Jacobson, a political scientist at the University of California at San Diego. This explains why, on a range of issues, partisans invariably feel their side can do nothing wrong and the other side can do nothing right. By contrast, moderates don't feel there is a yawning divide on issues because they don't identify with one party or another. Moderates, in other words, are like people who are uninterested in sports and roll their eyes when fans of opposing teams hurl abuse at each other.


"What is pulling it is partisanship," Hetherington said. "I don't think people have strong ideological commitments on any of these things, but they know the team they are on. You might actually have a middle-ground position on abortion, but you find all the people you agree with on small-government issues are conservatives on abortion, so you become conservative on it, too. You may even come to believe it over time."


"You look at the candidates and you ask, 'What does it mean for my kind of people?' " said Donald P. Green, a political scientist at Yale University. "If you are a feminist or a Christian evangelical, it does not have to hinge on what those candidates will do in real terms [for you] as much as 'a victory for them is a victory for my team.' "
I bring this up because it's becoming increasingly hard to ignore:

This debate was a lot of fun.

Before it all started, people were lining up well more than two hours before doors opened. About a half hour before doors opened, the Coleman campaign had a chartered bus that dropped off a group of people with signs and prepared cheers to chant at the people who were in line. The people in line, by the way, were by far mostly Franken supporters: at least 90%. Some Coleman supporters were escorted by a Coleman volunteer or staffer to join other Coleman supporters in the front of the line. A few Coleman supporters chanted “four more years!” until they heard everyone laughing at them. “It’s six years,” a Franken button-wearer chimed. The busload of Coleman supporters also had huge letters that spelled out “NORM” and the “N” and the “O” wandered off to another side and everyone in line started laughing and chanting “NO! NO! No, Norm!” This group then gathered near the door at the front of the line then charged the doors when they opened, cutting off everyone who was waiting for an hour and a half. It was shameless, arrogant and childish. Everyone in line was upset at first, but then it turned into jokes about how this is the kind of campaign Coleman’s running. I took photos and I’ll post about it if I have extra time — it was a pathetic, dirty play by Team Coleman.

As a result, for the most part Coleman supporters were in the middle section and Franken supporters were the rest of the auditorium. I saw about four Barkley supporters total. Actually, there were two anti-Barkley protesters in Tyvek suits and face masks handing out literature about Barkley’s negative lobbyist past.

If you can possibly imagine it, Mr. Landry follows up his home team account of the tailgating session with an attempt at impartiality:

The debates themselves were easy to sum up: Barkley was really all over the place, Coleman was a very smooth but lied repeatedly and Franken was the calmest and in my opinion, won the debate.
Of course.

Amazingly, over at Shirt HQ, the Skins Exposer sees it differently:

ROCHESTER – Despite repeated attacks by both of his opponents, Norm Coleman focused on the future of our nation, and his record of accomplishment on behalf of Minnesota. Coleman’s forward looking vision, focused on energy independence, affordable and accessible health care for all Minnesotans, and new and focused efforts on strengthening our economy, won strong support from the crowd gathered at the UCR Regional Sports Center.

Go team!!!

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