MEDIA
11/09/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

New Yorker Fest Campaign Trail: Nouns Are Not Enough

I attended the "Campaign Trail" panel at last weekend's New Yorker festival, with Rick Hertzberg, George Packer and Ryan Lizza, moderated by Dorothy Wickendon. I live-Twittered it then, and have collected those bullet points here for posterity. (Keep in mind that this was all typed on a blackberry with a 140-character limit.) The full podcast is here, in case my shorthand doesn't do it for you (i.e. "RyLi" is Lizza, "Hertz" is Hertzberg, "Wick" is Wickendon. Packer you don't touch if you know what's good for you).

My takeaways: Packer saying that cable news culture has made us more ignorant; Hertzberg noting that usually people vote for the party or vote for the man, and in this case it seems like it might be a vote for temperament; Lizza on how cool, unflappable Obama got emotional when rehearsing his Invesco speech (according to aides), at the part where he referenced MLK; Wickenden cursing like a sailor; Lizza noting that there is a whole swatch of people this time around who are being missed by traditional polling; and Packer noting (archly) that the mere fact that we are talking about "lies" in the campaign is significant, because you used to not be able to say that word. Great panel, and particularly excellent questions from the audience following.
  • RyLi comments on McCain clip with green screen: "That's got to go in the Smithsonian after all this is over." Ha. 12:16 PM

  • Packer: They used to say the McCain brand was unshakable. Now not so sure. But he was the only brand the GOP had a chance with. 12:18 PM

  • RyLi points out all that had to happen for McCain to take it - Huck knocking out Romney in Iowa, Giuliani in Florida. 12:20 PM

  • RyLi: "Liberal" Obama revealed his conservative side in bailout crisis by being cautious and trying to return to normalcy. 12:24 PM

  • Packer mentions Kentucky and how Obama can't win there bc of race. Someone else mentioned Kentucky last night. 12:25 PM

  • Packer mentions the ridiculousness of the Manchurian Candidate idea, that he'd bring a secret agenda to the WH...what the NYer cov satirized 12:27 PM

  • Packer: Did not meet anyone who said that Sarah Palin had changed her vote. 12:27 PM

  • Wickendon quotes Chris Rock: "George Bush has fucked up so bad, he makes it hard for a white man to run for president." 12:32 PM

  • RyLi likens McCain camp to ship w/ hole in the hull - then there's a fire on deck (Palin), and they put it out - but there's still that hole 12:35 PM

  • Packer: The internet and the current media culture has made people more ignorant and monolithic. Everyone is a talking head. 12:39 PM

  • Clip of Obama dressing down McCain ("you act like the war started in 2007"). Packer says they both have points about each other's.... 12:41 PM

  • ....lack of prescience. The fact is, it's about either staying in Iraq or getting out - and who will be a good Comm in Chief. 12:42 PM

  • Hertzberg: Voting choice is vote for party or for man? Voting party is voting for policy. This looks to be a vote for TEMPERAMENT. 12:44 PM

  • This has been going for almost an hour, and the name "Biden" has not been mentioned once. 12:48 PM

  • Packer: Afgh strategy isn't working, and a Surge there prob won't help. The U.S. may need to sit down with the Taliban. Why not? 12:52 PM

  • Okay now we get to Biden. Minute 53. 12:54 PM

  • Showed the Couric intvu question on the Supreme Court, Biden and Palin. The crowd ooooohed. 12:55 PM

  • Hertzberg: Palin was better in the debate because her syntax was better. (She passed the 'coherence' test.) 12:56 PM

  • Packer on Palin: "There are no verbs. There are gerundives, there are nouns - hockey mom, Joe SixPack...identity politics are about nouns." 12:59 PM (See his blog post on the subject here.)

  • Wick asks Hertz about the politics of tears on the campaign trail; Hertz talks about Obama. 01:02 PM

  • RyLi said Obama choked up rehearsing Invesco speech, at the part where he referred to MLK. Said it had been first time he'd [heard about] that from O 01:11 PM (update: I misheard this and assumed this was a first-person story from Lizza; it was actually one he recounted based on being told that by Obama aides).

  • Questions now - they are really sharp. Say what you want about the NYer elite readership, they do their homework. 01:12 PM

  • RyLi on first hundred days: It will be interesting to see if Obama or McCain will run the White House with the same top-down discipline. 01:17 PM

  • Packer: Even "the sainted" David Petraeus won't talk about victory. Obama talks like we can leave and leave it to the Iraqis. Not likely. 01:18 PM

  • Packer: Why is Iraq so important, and fragile? Look at a map. 01:19 PM

  • On lies in the campaign: The fact that we're now using the word "lies" is significant. You couldn't say that. 01:20 PM

  • RyLi: There's an entirely new class of likely voters that are not being detected by traditional polling. 01:21 PM

  • Wickendon: "You guys ask tougher questions than I do!" (Question on trade and globalization.) 01:22 PM

  • Question about demographics: Winning popular vote, losing the white vote? Hertz: "Democrats have lost the white vote for a long time!" 01:26 PM

  • Packer: The Republicans are captives of their base, cf hispanics. McCain knew it. 01:29 PM

  • Hertz: I dont think I'll be disappointed in Obama b/c I am so steeped in skepticism/disappointment in the system. 01:30 PM