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State of the Kobe

Averaging 43 points in January? Ridiculous. Scoring 40 on 7 of 17 shooting? Double ridiculous. And you can't even say it doesn't work! As long as you get to play against the Knicks, your team can score 130 points and win in a blowout. How could New York possibly suck that much? What happened? I was watching the State of the Union, it's a serious question. Did Andrew Bynum really score 16 points in 12 minutes? When did Kwame Brown become better than Eddie Curry?

February 1, 2006 | Permalink

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» Preview: State of the Union Address from Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator
Renee Montagne talks to Senior Correspondent Juan Williams about some of the topics the president is [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 1, 2006 2:18:21 AM

Comments

Anyone with any sense was watching Nets/Pistons instead, so I missed Kobe at the Garden.

"When did Kwame Brown become better than Eddie Curry?"

It's interesting. Early in the year, Phil Jackson kept literally calling Kwame a "pussy" within earshot of reporters and teammates. He was even making "meow" noises when Kwame walked by.

Would such treatment utterly destroy Kwame's fragile psyche? Or would it toughen him up?

As always, Phil Jackson knows what he's doing.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 1, 2006 12:41:38 AM

Anyone with any sense was watching Nets/Pistons instead

Damn right. Nets actually should have won by more than they did, as they blew about 15 layups and dunks. Marv Albert was amazed that Carter and Jefferson would actually miss those shots. It also helps that Chauncey was the only Piston that really showed up. Pistons' vaunted offensive efficiency was nil.

On topic - the Knicks are really so difficult to figure out. Sometimes they look like they have a lot of talent. Every once in a while, Curry will get you 25 and 10, Marbury will have 10 assists, and guys will hit their shots. But that only happens about once every four games. Their inconsistency must be giving Larry an ulcer.

Posted by: Al | Feb 1, 2006 1:02:28 AM

"It also helps that Chauncey was the only Piston that really showed up. Pistons' vaunted offensive efficiency was nil."

The Pistons looked absolutely awful, and yet they still would've beaten a decent team on the road if Kidd hadn't knocked down that 3 pointer in the final minute.

I'd say that in SAT-speak:

Detroit Pistons : NBA Title :: Hillary Clinton : Dem Nomination

The future is unwritten, but some things are pretty damn likely.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 1, 2006 1:20:08 AM

On topic - the Knicks are really so difficult to figure out.

I'm not sure. They're a really ill-made team. Lots of guys with apparent talent, but not a lot of thought about how they would fit together. They're like a suckier, stupider, more poorly constructed version of the Trailblazers of the late 90s, early 00s. They need to get rid of Stoudamire.

The only way Hillary gets the nomination is if she sucks up all of the money beforehand and scares everyone decent out. It's not that different than McCain; he looks pretty right now, but he's not going to the big dance either.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Feb 1, 2006 2:41:46 AM

"The only way Hillary gets the nomination is if she sucks up all of the money beforehand and scares everyone decent out"

Well, she's not going to suck up all the money, but she will have more money than everyone else combined. However, that will not scare anyone out.

"It's not that different than McCain; he looks pretty right now, but he's not going to the big dance either."

I agree that McCain probably isn't going to win, but Hillary's situation is fundamentally different than McCain's.

Hillary will almost definitely head into '06 as the consensus party establishment choice. And the consensus party establishment choice hasn't lost in either party in 30 years.

With Vilsack playing stalking horse for Hillary in Iowa, no one will be able to get a clear shot at her there. New Hamphire is good regional territory for Hillary. The anti-war activists and loony left will waste their votes on a protest candidacy like Feingold's. And as the lone woman against a pack of men, as the lone blue state 'loyalist' candidate against a pack of red state 'electable' candidates, it's unlikely anyone will ever get a clear shot at her.

I'm not saying it's impossible. My beloved Johnny Edwards and Mark Warner both have angles to play, although those angles are awfully acute. But I am saying that her chances look much like the Pistons' chances: you'd be a fool to bet real money against either one of them.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 1, 2006 3:25:10 AM

As it turns out, I've bet real money against Hillary. Intrade is giving me 20-to-1 odds on John Edwards, which seems a good deal, and Feingold is even cheaper. I'm in on Russ too, not because I think he'll win, but because he'll probably rise pretty high before he falls.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Feb 1, 2006 7:18:19 AM

"As it turns out, I've bet real money against Hillary. Intrade is giving me 20-to-1 odds on John Edwards, which seems a good deal"

Well, of course, odds change everything.

Just because the Pistons are in a Hillary-like position of strength doesn't mean I wouldn't take 20 to 1 on Dallas, Miami, or Phoenix.

Edwards' strategy of trying to squeeze by Hillary on the left would make excellent sense if we had a real left in this country instead of a loony left. But since we live in reality, the left will most likely marginalize themselves on an anti-war protest candidacy instead of uniting around a lefty who could win.

But at 20 to 1, Edwards is not a bad wager. I've thought about making the same bet, but I'm waiting to see if he's actually going to make the race or not. I figure the odds won't be that different twelve months from now when we'll know for sure.

"Feingold is even cheaper. I'm in on Russ too, not because I think he'll win, but because he'll probably rise pretty high before he falls."

Wise betting strategy. Irrational exuberance should build on Russ sometime in '07, although I somehow have doubts that the unmarried Jewish civil liberties vote will be enough to actually carry him to the nomination.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 1, 2006 7:46:22 AM

It'll be Gore, Warner, or some unknown. Hillary has two advantages: she's married to Bill, and the people we hate hate her. Her retail political skills are not good; when she has to use them on the primary campaign trail, people are going to find her irritating as hell. On the plus side, I think we'll have either a black or female VP candidate.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Feb 1, 2006 11:07:33 AM

"Her retail political skills are not good"

Are you acquainted with our two past nominees? In terms of retail political skills, we nominated Lame in '00 and Lamer in '04. (And you suggest Lame as a corrective to Hillary's retail political deficiencies?)

---

You seem to be suffering under the rather common misunderstanding that Presidential nominees are selected in some kind of popularity contest.

In actuality, the party establishments try to come to some kind of consensus in the out year, and that consensus is put to the party electorate for ratification. While ratification is more than a mere formality, it is extraordinarily difficult to do anything but ratify.

Like I mentioned before, it's been 30 years since the consensus candidate has been denied. And since then, the rules have been changed to make it significantly more difficult than it was in '72 or '76. In '84, for example, the party electorate actually refused to ratify Walter Mondale, giving more votes and delegates to Gary Hart. But with the new rules, the consensus candidate still ended up as the nominee.

A mere lack of political skills, retail or otherwise, is generally not enough to derail the process. Ask John Kerry.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 1, 2006 11:35:09 AM

If by 30 years, you mean 1992, since you're right. If you think Clinton was the early consensus candidate then...well, at least we know you weren't out of highschool in '92.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Feb 1, 2006 11:49:36 AM

Pistons did suck last night, and the Nets definitely would have won by more if they hadn't blown a bunch of layups. Both teams made a lot of stupid turnovers as well.

I didn't see any of Knicks/Lakers, but Kwame was a complete and utter wuss against Detroit on Sunday night. Whatever Phil's being saying around him sure didn't help in that game.

Posted by: Haggai | Feb 1, 2006 11:56:20 AM

"If you think Clinton was the early consensus candidate then...well, at least we know you weren't out of highschool in '92."

Not only was Clinton the overwhelming consensus candidate for '92, but he was so much so that no one even bothered to run against him. The guy had a full blown sex scandal and draft dodging scandal in the weeks leading up to NH, and was such a unanimous consensus candidate that it didn't matter.

He could've threatened to kill every primary voter who pulled the lever for him and he still would've won. He could've had the retail political skills of a retarded, drooling deaf-mute and he still would've won.

There has not been a less consequential series of primary elections in the post-'68 era.

I previously said that the electorate's ratification of the consensus choice wasn't a mere formality? In '92, it was a mere formality.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 1, 2006 12:11:40 PM

Well, I'd say Bush in 2000 was more of a formality than Clinton in '92. Talk about the establishment of one party putting all of its eggs into one basket.

Posted by: Haggai | Feb 1, 2006 12:14:44 PM

"Well, I'd say Bush in 2000 was more of a formality than Clinton in '92."

Dunno if I'd go that far. Bush at least had a viable candidate opposing him.

But Bush in 2000 is an excellent illustration of the rules of the game. His opposition had much stronger retail political skills than he did, but it was very difficult for the electorate in '00 to overturn the consensus reached in '99.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 1, 2006 12:28:13 PM

Bush did not have a viable candidate opposing him, since McCain was not viable with the GOP primary electorate. His only wins were from crossover voters in open primaries. People still talk about South Carolina as if it made a difference, but I don't think it did, not really. McCain's wins in New Hampshire and Michigan were a mirage, there was no way he was going to compete with Bush in any of the regular GOP-voters-only primaries, which most of them were.

Posted by: Haggai | Feb 1, 2006 12:34:28 PM

"People still talk about South Carolina as if it made a difference, but I don't think it did, not really. McCain's wins in New Hampshire and Michigan were a mirage, there was no way he was going to compete with Bush in any of the regular GOP-voters-only primaries, which most of them were."

We're probably quibbling about semantics here, since I think we're pretty much in agreement on the substance.

When I say McCain was viable in a way Jerry Brown and Paul Tsongas weren't, I mean that McCain could've pivoted after the NH win, made a skillful appeal to the GOP base, and had an actual shot at taking the prize. It still would've been unlikely, but it would've been possible.

In '92, however, there simply was no conceivable way for Tsongas or Brown to actually win. Run those primaries twenty times, and Clinton wins twenty of them. Run the GOP '00 primaries twenty times, and Bush only wins fifteen.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 1, 2006 12:52:38 PM

I guess I see what you mean, although I still don't really agree about McCain having much of a chance. But do you think Clinton was more of a consensus candidate of his party's establishment in '92 than Bush was in 2000? I don't think so. Governors, senators, anyone who could make any sort of difference in a primary at all, they were all endorsing Bush.

Posted by: Haggai | Feb 1, 2006 12:58:03 PM

There was no "consensus" candidate in '92; Clinton certainly wasn't one prior to Iowa & NH, but neither was anyone else. As it turns out, Clinton is/was a much better politican than Tsongas or the others in '92, so I'd agree that if you ran that primary 20 times, Clinton would win all of them. But I don't think that the "consensus" knew that prior to Iowa and NH. (Same with '04, BTW, although if you ran that primary 20 times, I'd bet Dean wins more often than Kerry. If Dean had just put more effort into retail work in Iowa, and kept his mouth shut that night, he'd have won.) If you ran the '00 Rep. primary 20 times, I'd bet McCain wins 5. The "McCain doesn't appeal to southern GOP voters" is wrong. He CAN appeal to them, he just didn't try very hard in '00. This is why he is the frontrunner for '08 - he's made more effort since '00.

Posted by: Al | Feb 1, 2006 1:34:19 PM

"Same with '04, BTW, although if you ran that primary 20 times, I'd bet Dean wins more often than Kerry. If Dean had just put more effort into retail work in Iowa, and kept his mouth shut that night, he'd have won."

If you're running the simulation from a couple of weeks before Iowa:

12 Kerry
6 Edwards
2 Dean

Kerry was a relatively weak consensus choice over Edwards in early / mid 2003 when everyone was picking sides, and that was still true at New Years 2004.

Dean was well dead by the time the primaries rolled around. He had a brief opening in Sept/Oct of 2003 to pivot using the momentum from his good summer to embrace the party. And even if he'd done that, he was still going to be considerably less than a 50/50 bet. But Dean didn't pivot, and ended up spending the fall and winter attacking the very party he was seeking the nomination of - note the parallels to McCain in '00.

Kerry's great strategic moment of the campaign came around Thanksgiving when his staffer, the normally uber-smart Chris Lehane, was urging to him to hit Dean hard. Kerry was able to realize that despite all the sturm und drang of the Dean explosion, the race was still the same one it had been in early 2003 and asked Lehane, "What are you trying to do? Hand the nomination to Edwards?"

If Kerry and Lehane had twenty disagreements about strategy, I'd expect Lehane to be right 19 times. But this was Kerry's one, and it was a big one. Edwards was always the real threat to him.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 1, 2006 2:56:20 PM

"There was no "consensus" candidate in '92; Clinton certainly wasn't one prior to Iowa & NH, but neither was anyone else."

I'm really not kidding. No one viable ran against him. The primaries were superfluous that year. Tsongas was an almost comically uncharismatic former Senator from Massachusetts with cancer in tenuous remission running on a platform of everyone eating their spinach. Jerry Brown was Jerry Brown.

Well, Bob Kerrey was originally theoretically viable. But his campaign flamed out before the primaries got underway. Once Kerrey was done with, Clinton could've eaten live baby after live baby during the primary debates and still gotten nominated. He could've advocated bombing Michigan back into the stone age and still gotten nominated. There simply was no one else.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 1, 2006 3:20:59 PM

Jeebus, I feel slightly dirty agreeing with Al all the time. Clinton was the leftover candidate in '92. All the "consensus" candidates sat that election out, because everyone was sure GHWB would win. No Cuomo, no Kerry, no Gore, no Biden, no Gephardt, etc. In fact, one of the books on that election says that Clinton entered for the purpose of getting known; he went in thinking he had no shot at winnng the primaries. Clinton was further helped by the fact that no one was sure that Tsongas wasn't dying.

I still hate this Administration, Al.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Feb 1, 2006 4:02:12 PM

Titanic was a good movie and LeHane is "uber-smart"? Get a grip, man!

Posted by: Steve | Feb 1, 2006 4:17:22 PM

"Jeebus, I feel slightly dirty agreeing with Al all the time."

I never knew you were a Republican, Tim. I always figured you for a lefty.

-----

"Clinton was the leftover candidate in '92. All the "consensus" candidates sat that election out."

Sure. But if HRC, Edwards, Warner, and Clark all dropped out in 2007, we'd suddenly find Evan Bayh as the "consensus" candidate prior to the voting, even though he came by that consensus designation in a somewhat unusual way.

-----

Folks kept dropping out in 1991 for three reasons: Originally, they were scared of Bush. Then they were scared of Albany. And finally, as Clinton accumulated strength in the summer and fall of 1991, they became scared of Clinton too.

The day Harold Ickes Jr signed on to the Traveling Arkansas Roadshow in Fall 1991, it was a signal that Clinton was now the guy to beat, no matter who was in the race.

But the final and formal designation of "unanimous consensus-hood" didn't come to Clinton until very, very late in the season, all the way into December 1991, when a plane sat gassed up with engines running on a snowy afternoon in Albany, and failed to board its passenger.

(Of course, there is a dandy counterfactual involving the passenger deciding to get on to that plane instead. But even under the counterfactual, I think Clinton already had him encircled, and would've taken him down.)

But if Hamlet had entered, at least the primaries would have had some small meaning that year with two candidates to choose from, instead of the unopposed one candidate Soviet Politburo race than we actually got.

At that point, Clinton could have announced he was Mormon marrying against their wills all the girls of Gwinnet county between the ages of 12 and 16 and he'd still have taken the Georgia primary. Can't beat something with nothing, y'know.

------

Just because the mechanics of the game kicked into place six to nine month later than standard doesn't mean the rules of the game were any different than usual.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 1, 2006 4:52:48 PM

LeHane is "uber-smart"?

IIRC, someone pointed out that, in the primaries, there was a close corelation between Lehane leaving a campaign and a slightly lagging uptick in that candidate's poll numbers. Another Lehane success was, of course, Gray Davis's defense against recall.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Feb 1, 2006 4:55:52 PM

"IIRC, someone pointed out that, in the primaries, there was a close corelation between Lehane leaving a campaign and a slightly lagging uptick in that candidate's poll numbers. "

Playa-hatas abound, especially for the free radicals.

But if I were putting together a team, but pick LeHance in the first five.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 1, 2006 5:28:34 PM

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