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Sep 12

A commercial about nothing; How we are talking about Palin and Seinfeld/Gates

Personal, Politics, Tech Add comments

Disclaimer: If you don’t like politics, Seinfeld, or Microsoft, please more on now!

The latest ad airs, and a larger version gets posted to the Web. The first one had people saying “huh?” and this has lit up the blogosphere again. “This has nothing about Microsoft in it!” That is the point. Seinfeld is going a commercial about nothing… at least to begin with. They are setting the stage. Letting people know that they may be a little out of touch, and how they will explain through each other how Microsoft actually gets it. That will be the tough sell. For now though, they have everyone talking (case in point!).

Remember the last campaign? The WOW factor?

Did people talk a lot about that? In fact, when was the last time anyone paid attention to Microsoft in this way? That is why the commercial is a success, right now.

It actually sounds very similar to the Sarah Palin story. She had the big bang onto the scene (rather than the ‘huh?’), but the more people get to actually interview and thus get to know her, I predict the ‘huh?’ will come to the American people too. I am sure she is a nice person and all, but Matt Damon hits out like we all have too:

I know what you are thinking? Matt Damon? “He is just an actor! I have just as much right to …” You do, and you can get out there and demand more from this election too. I am really hoping that the runway to the election is long enough that people get past the honeymoon phase, and think about the “oh right, that person doesn’t just sit and have fun BBQs, they run the free world.” America voted in the BBQ guy twice over the last 8 years, maybe it is time to go past someone who changed colleges 5 times, and get someone who was president of the Harvard Law Review. Let’s vote in someone who really will fight to make a difference, and will have the respect of the world.

I am writing this sitting at an airport, and I am about to fly to London, Paris, New York, Munich, Madrid, Boston, and in the European countries I know which way they want to go. Don’t take that as “well WE are the ones who get to vote, who cares what the Frenchies think!” Take a second to reason why.

It will be interesting to watch and see if Seinfeld and Gates can grow to show us something about Microsoft that is compelling, and if Sarah can get away with limiting her exposure since she has already probably done her best work.

8 Responses to “A commercial about nothing; How we are talking about Palin and Seinfeld/Gates”

  1. Barbara Gavin Says:

    Great post – wonderful to see these all together.

    “I wanna know if she thinks dinosaurs were here 4000 years ago. I need to know that.”
    Yeah, we *all* do.

    Still hoping you and I can talk about the conference.


  2. Candice Beetrue Says:

    Way to go. You might get an offer to replace Olberman at MSDNC.

  3. giesen Says:

    Actuary tables give a 72 year old male a 15% chance of dying before age 76, not a 1-in-3 chance as Matt Damon says.

    I strongly support lower capital gains taxes to support business growth, less government subsidies for mortgages, corn, and the auto-industry, less free trade barriers such as import tariffs on sugar, and lowered growth of entitlement and social spending… and those policy preferences are well aligned with McCain and almost exactly opposite of Obama.

    It’s the policies that matter, and the politician personalities, resumes, and character judgments are of much lesser concern.

    That being said, I agree with just about everything the op posted about Palin.

  4. Ray Cromwell Says:

    I’ve leaned towards libertarianism most of my life (hence, I lean towards fiscal conservatism, smaller government, free trade, decentralization and competition, etc), but I’ve got to say, the personalities and resumes DO matter. Lest you forget, the Republicans, including Bush, constantly run on a platform of fiscal conservatism, cutting spending and the size of government. In the past, they could blame their failure to achieve their goals on a democratically controlled congress, but this time, they controlled the executive and legislative branch, yet spending wasn’t cut, indeed, the size and scope of the government was massively increased. Civil liberties weren’t protected, indeed, the Bush shredded the constitution. Bush/Cheney, with ample experience in the energy sector, had 8 years to formulate a better energy policy, and didn’t.

    Bush ran on a platform of a humble non-interventionist foreign policy, yet what did we get? The personality, resume, and group of associates that a candidate hangs with certainly does have a huge effect on what they do when they get into office.

    Bush ran on free trade,, but what did he do when he got into office? He implemented protectionism for the Steel industry. And we still find ourselves trying to make ethanol out of corn instead of sugar cane, the latter being far more efficient, only because it threatens American farmers. Do the Republicans oppose protectionist tariffs on ethanol imports like they should?

    I’m not saying that policies don’t matter, but I’d say that party doesn’t either. The old party lines don’t always hold. Republicans friends of business? Why is the Bush Department of Justice harassing Google then? Isn’t Google the ideal example of a natural monopoly gained on merit?

    The fact of the matter is, none of us know what Obama or McCain will do once in office, I have only these things to say on the matter:

    1) Our credibility in the world has been hurt by the Bush presidency, and much it would be restored by electing Obama because that’s what the population around the world wants. Unless you’re anti-globalism, it’s important.

    2) The Democratic Party was forced to change and move to a centrist platform after many electoral losses. The Republican party today, is not GOP of Ike, nor Goldwater, nor Nixon, nor Reagan, or even Ron Paul, more than ever, the fiscal conservatives have been silenced by the voices of the religious conservatives. It’s unhealthy, and losing the election might help to reorganize the party and moderate it, bringing it to the 21st century. In other words, electing Obama could be good for the GOP. Just look at McCain as one example, supposedly a “moderate” Republican, they were forced to swallow McCain because fielding someone like Huckabee would have guaranteed a loss. (Remember Pat Robertson’s bitter swallow of endorsing Guiliani?) A rejection of Palin and GOP talking points and sleezy campaign tactics might help clean them up. Or, we could reward Karl Rove yet again, and nothing will change.

    3) The country did not meltdown by electing Clinton, it did pretty well. It didn’t really self-destruct from FDR, JFK, or LBJ either, so let’s not get too hyperbolic about “socialism”. I mean, people are complaining about stuff like a $5 billion college fund, when Bush just gave Georgia $1 billion, and spends $10 billion per month on the war. As a fiscal conservative, I perceive Obama’s spending proposals as far less dangerous than the current deficit spending. Other people expect me to get up in arms over proposals to spend a measely few hundred million on alternative energy, or say, high speed rail, but this is a distraction.

    4) Even if you are for low taxes, why must it be monotonically decreasing? Sometimes they’ve got to go up, before they can go down. We’ve been borrowing heavily and national savings are at an all time low. We’ve also neglected our infrastructure. We can’t grow our way out of this without cutting consumption, so before we can lower taxes, we’ve got to pay off some of our debt and fix some of the stuff we’ve neglected, then, we can elect a Republican to lower taxes again. Business cycles happen. Things get out of balance. Then there’s a correction.

    If you take a more utilitarian approach, maybe you’ll get some actual results. So I say, vote Obama as a protest to help the moderate voices of the Republican party get back into power. Vote Obama to help restore some of America’s prestige abroad. Vote Obama because he seems much more passionate about the issues he campaigns on, whereas McCain only seems truly passionate about war issues. (just my impression, but his energy and education talking points seem dispassionate and a cynical grafting on of the opposition’s platform.)

    And finally, Vote Obama, because isn’t it about time we tried to elect someone who didn’t graduate near the bottom of their class. Someone who is intellectually curious? Someone who can put two words together and deliver them effectively? I’d like to have someone representing my country that doesn’t make me cringe with embarassment at press conferences and international venues.

  5. giesen Says:

    The deficit skyrocketed under Bush for three reasons: major economic slowdown (which wasn’t really attributable to any recent presidential policies), a major war (which is terrible from a budget/economics perspective, but that’s really a separate and complex foreign policy issue), and tax cuts (which is arguably the correct response to an economic recession, and helped lessen the recession).

    I’m a huge Google fan, but I’ve never heard of the Bush administration harassing Google (I’ll have to look into that). Bush repealed all the steel import tariffs (although I agree that it was a terrible move to begin with).

    However on the ethanol issue: McCain is very clearly against domestic corn subsidies and foreign sugar tariffs. Both his voting record, speeches, and campaign promises back this up (and those are fairly reliable predictors of future behavior). Obama clearly supports domestic corn subsidies and foreign sugar tariffs in both his speeches and in his voting record as a senator.

    Most of the other issues you raise are strictly resume issues and character judgments which are exactly the kind of thing that I’m not concerned with. Obama has a better resume, is a far more eloquent public speaker, and he’s better looking, but McCain has a much better voting record and policy strategy which is what I care about.

  6. Ray Cromwell Says:

    The Iraq war is a major cause the deficit skyrocketed, shouldn’t we lay the blame on Bush? Or distrust McCain who seems predisposed to prolonging it more than Obama?

    And what about Bush’s Medicare D program? That’s another $30+ billion annual of entitlement spending locked into the budget. That can’t be explained by slowdown or war, it was a deliberate expansion of federal responsibilities.

    Yesterday, even Alan Greenspan, Mr John Galt himself, came out against McCain’s tax cuts, so it seems I’m not the lone libertarian worrying about McCain. You can’t reflexively depend on Republicans to act like fiscal conservatives, so if both candidates are going to increase the size of the government, why not elect the one who will spend the money more wisely rather than throwing it down a foreign policy rat hole.

    It’s not clear to me that McCain of 2008 is McCain of 2000-2006. McCain originally opposed the Bush tax cuts, now he’s for them and extending them. At one time, Republicans had more sense. Both Reagan and Bush Sr raised taxes when they needed to. There’s alot more going in the economy today than will be solved by cutting marginal rates on top earners, or messing with corporate taxes, or hoping and praying we’re not already on the maxima of the Laffer curve. There are huge structural problems in the global credit and finance system, there’s a huge amount of consumer debt, so it’s not clear that an “investment led” solution will achieve anything until all of the imbalances unwind.

    What we do know is that America’s image has been irreparably harmed, and that McCain is unlikely to revive our brand. Polling data shows that. That means we will have to continue to rely on expensive “hard power” like the military, and less on cheaper “soft power”.

    We also know that much of the government was harmed by Bush appointing people who had little desire or experience into positions of power purely as patronage. In the justice department, in FEMA, and who knows where else. McCain owes the religious right big-time for coming out for him, so if he wins, I’d expect a continuation of appointing Messiah University graduates.

    Finally, there’s the fundamental fact that McCain will be 76 years old by the time his first term is over. Should we run even a 16% of electing a POTUS who will not serve out his term? That’s a 1 in 10 to 1 in 6 chance of President Palin, plus the upheaval of the whole scenario.

  7. giesen Says:

    “if both candidates are going to increase the size of the government…”

    That’s not true at all. Obama is more of a traditional big government candidate and this agreed upon by both sides of the debate. Obama proposes less tax cuts, less spending cuts, and more new spending programs while McCain is proposing the exact opposite. Most Obama fans are open supporters of big government: more business taxes, more social spending, and economic redistribution in general.

    I also disagree with your comment that McCain is predisposed to prolonging a war in Iraq. The current US involvement in Iraq is not a war, but an expensive military policing and nation building operation. If we could go back in time, and avoid the war to begin with, I’d vote for that, but given where we are now, I’m in favor of continued military support to help Iraq achieve stability and avoiding open civil war rather than withdrawing to save taxpayer money.

    And yes, McCain’s old age is a very relevant criticism that holds weight, but that’s not a dealbreaker

  8. Ray Cromwell Says:

    It’s not clear to me that anyone should be proposing tax cuts at this point. Whether you call it a war, or a national building exercise, makes no difference. It’s eating up $120 billion per year, and $600 billion in long term veterans benefits. If anything, the government should be asking for sacrifice via taxes or “war bonds/iraq nation building bonds”, but even if it isn’t, it should then be cutting other spending and keeping taxes constant.

    Even if you believe supply-side economics, the effects on government revenues are not predicted to be instant, whereas cutting taxes is immediate, which means even if economic growth manages to make up for the shortfall in revenues, you’ve still ballooned the deficit. A McCain tax cut may very well be revenue neutral in the long term, but we’ve already dug a deep hole, and you have to ask, how much longer is the rest of the world willing to lend us their savings to dig Iraq and the US out of the hole?

    The only thing that would be truly scary about Obama is if he had 60 Democrats in the Senate, but he does not, and as Newt Gingrich showed, the Republicans, even as a minority, can balance out a Democrat who wants to do alot. Obama will still have to compromise and work with Republicans to get his programs passed.

    Again, I think there is too much paranoia over what a left wing Democrat can do while in office.

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