September 19, 2008

What lies beneath Althouse's purported cruel neutrality? -- a poll.

You know I like to say I've taken a vow of cruel neutrality. Here's a poll:

What lies beneath Althouse's purported cruel neutrality?
She's planning to vote for McCain.
She's planning to vote for Obama.
She's preserving some undecidedness but will in the end vote for McCain.
She's preserving some undecidedness but will in the end vote for Obama.
She's really undecided and it's a toss-up who she'll vote for.
She will retain her neutrality to the bitter end and ultimately abstain from voting. free polls


Meade said...

And with 1% of the precincts reporting, I'm projecting the winner is "She's preserving some undecidedness but will in the end vote for McCain." What gives me the right to do this? Nothing. What gives CBS and CNN the right when they do it?

American Liberal Elite said...

I believe it's called the First Amendment

MadisonMan said...

I chose the one an English Teacher would cringe at.

Or should I say at which an English Teacher would cringe?

Anonymous said...

I believe true undecisiveness is still possible at this point.

John Kindley said...

Since I always try to think the best of people, I voted that you will ultimately abstain from voting.

Anonymous said..., not un...blah...good morning to all of you.

Ann Althouse said...

You can be undecided without being indecisive!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Professor Althouse!

Too many jims said...


That, of course, reminds me of the old joke. So let me rephrase Prof. Althouse's choice: "She's really undecided and it's a toss-up who she'll vote for, a--hole." There it is fixed. (And no I don't think MadisonMan is that epithet, it is just from the old joke.)

AlphaLiberal said...

Figment. No evidence of this neutrality. No vote.

She runs with the vilest McCain smears and lies. That is not neutrality we can believe in, my friends.

KCFleming said...

Funny how diffuse the spread on votes is, suggesting the neutrality is real.

The only certainty here is that AlphaLiberal will contiue to have nightmares where Sarah Palin makes him clean up his room.

George M. Spencer said...

What lies beneath it?

It's a come-on to boost readership.

The lady is running a business here, and I say this as a Black Platinum Club level member. I'm telling you the benefits you get for the $75 annual fee are great. I get to see the posts as A.A. writes them, and I also get to delete 40 posts every month from people whose views I disagree with. I'm also now a member of the Wisconsin Bar thanks to my membership. Last week alone I sent three people to prison!

Ann Althouse said...

Alpha is saying he's refusing to vote so he can promote the theory that there would be tons of votes for option number 1 if only all the people who are disgusted with my purported neutrality would vote.

But Alpha's just one pissy guy, and he probably did vote.

Harwood said...

Any adult who is undecided at this point has one of two problems: Either he hasn't been paying attention, or he doesn't know his own mind.

marklewin said...

I am interested in how Ann defines and operationalizes neutrality. Does she mean that she remains emotionally equidistant from each candidate and attempts to portray this on her blog? Does it mean that she will make every effort to equally present supportive and unflattering material on each candidate here at the Althouse ranch and blog...Does it mean that she is remaining neutral with respect to her readers remarks? i.e. providing a forum for her readers to mix it up, think about things, etc. without offering supportive or discouraging comments? I suspect there are other conceptualizations of neutrality, as well.

Also, I would like to ask Ann, if looking back, she believes that she has remained completely and totally true to her vow, or has she slipped up a time or two and has posted or stated something that represents the breaking of her vow.

Personally, I think Ann has done a good (but not perfect) job of employing neutrality. As for my response to her poll, I believe she will vote for McCain....I have no way of determining her level of indecision with her choice, however.

ricpic said...

Beneath the cruel neutrality she's still hungering for daddy's love.

Brian Doyle said...

She's a disingenuous, self-absorbed whack job isn't a possible answer?

KCFleming said...

No, Doyle, mirroring you is not an answer at all.

Modern Otter said...

Not voting at all, I predicted. She's rehearsing for an appointment as one of the Nine.

Paul Brinkley said...

I couldn't find the option for "she's saying it for the same reason Gary Coleman says 'wajutalkinbout' - it's one of her catchmemes, like the coffeehouse and the vortex".

Roger J. said...

Well, maybe cruel neutrality continues to let her work both sides of the debate thereby driving up traffic and perhaps ad revenue. But that would be cynical of me. Now is the fair Professor is genuinely neutral, then it results in the same outcome. Not being a mind reader I will give her the benefit of the doubt and go with the latter interpretation. The key words in the question posed get to intent: "what lies beneath...."

dbp said...

As of now, only about 17% think our host has made up her mind. I think she really has some level of undecidedness and is working hard to maintain it. All posts regarding the election will become boring once she chooses sides. It is human nature to try and bolster a decision once made.

MadisonMan said...

Here is my interpretation of Prof. Althouse's neutrality. This is my theory. It is mine (Think Ms. Ann Elk as you read that).

Prof. Althouse is a Democrat who wants the Democratic Party to succeed, and she cringes when she sees the very foolish things Democrats sometimes do. So following the example of her father, she throws out that example into the blogosphere -- sort of a Would you look at this! -- not as a criticism per se, but more with a disappointed feeling. When a Democrat does something praiseworthy, it's to be expected and not worth so much note. In contrast, when a Republican does something praiseworthy, that is unexpected, and like the Democratic gaffes, the unexpected engenders a response and a post. When a Republican screws something up, unless it has to do with sex (or real estate) -- we all like to talk about sex and real estate -- it's just another long line in Republican Screw-ups and what's so interesting about that? No blog mention.

Underlying all that is the goal to drive traffic on an art project/blog.

(I am not a psychiatrist.)

Next: I analyze the meaning behind Bissage's humorous poetry.

MadisonMan said...

Or maybe I'm projecting.

miller said...

I thought this blog was a leftist blog (what with all the ranting on it by leftist) but that allowed conservatives to post fairly cogent posts w/o banning them.

Perhaps Ann's cruel neutrality means "I might have a personal view, but when it comes to politics, I examine the argument w/o reference to my own position."

Perhaps it means "no fair, she doesn't smack down the guys on the other side that keep undermining my witty snark."

Troy said...

I can't fully consider the poll topic without 2 more choices...

1. Undecided

2. Who cares?

ricpic said...

The glory of Bissage's poetry is that it has no meaning!

MadisonMan said...

You have to dig to find the meaning underneath all the meaninglessness. It's transgressive and fully exploitive and a crypto-fascist metaphor for nuclear war!

No meaning indeed. Bah!

Anonymous said...

MadisonMan, I suspect you are correct. Very good analysis.


Anonymous said...

I was referring to your analysis about Prof. Althouse's motivations and political leanings.

Just to clarify...

Jeremy said...

Well said, MM.

Likewise I'm a closet republican who secretly wants Obama to win. I avoid the Does Not Compute error by claiming that I'll vote for Barr. It's just a defense mechanism.

rhhardin said...

It's a waste of time to vote.

The chances that something you care about will be decided by your vote are zero.

If everybody thought that way, that wouldn't be true of course. But they don't, so it is.

Now consider you and your idiot neighbor. You prefer McCain and he prefers Obama. You both vote, and you cancel each other out.

But what if, instead of voting, you convince your neighbor that Obama is nothing but bad news. He votes, you don't, and it's 1-0 your way.

You have made progress not by voting but by convincing.

Now imagine that you convince a thousand voters instead of one. You have gotten up where you might move an election with some noticeable chance. Up from zero!

Lesson: convince, don't vote.

Cruel neutrality is throwing your vote away; and it doesn't matter how you personally vote.

Except of course that cruel neutrality is going to notice that Obama is a moron along the way.

Anonymous said...

Doyle said..... a disingenuous, self-absorbed whack job...

Ba-rry! Ba-rry!

blake said...

But Alpha's just one pissy guy, and he probably did vote.

Astute analysis.

Now, here's my armchair analysis (perhaps not astute) of the character AA plays on her blog:

I think MM is close to right, but I don't think that, even as a Democrat, AA identifies all that strongly with her party.

We can see that with her frequent mention of the sacrifice of feminism at the, uh, hands of Bill Clinton.

I think we see there that her identification as a feminist (as she defines it) is far stronger than party affiliation. Minimally, we see a level of integrity and respect for logic that prevents her from lauding Democrats when they do the things they've attacked Republicans for.

Still, she believes in things she associates with the Democrats like social justice (witness the fracas with the Libertarians). She believes, perhaps hesitantly, that race has a non-zero weight in making her decision.

And we might guess that there's a certain, almost sarcastic identification with the person of her youth, that hippie art student who wouldn't bother with A Man For All Seasons or listen to square music, man. This character is obviously a Democrat, even if her future incarnation is surely too sophisticated to boil down politics into "Democrat Good. Republican Evil."

In that context, "cruel neutrality" wasn't ever about being 50-50, something the more strident here have missed. It simply meant that this character was going to go about her business as she always has, and not close her mind to the possibility of voting one way or the other.

Democrat has always been her starting point; but just as Kerry proved unworthy of her 2004 vote, Obama could prove unworthy of her 2008 vote.

The cruelty part comes in playing Devil's Advocate with her own comfort zone. As MM says, she's inclined to vote for Obama, but she won't give him a free pass. She's not the hippie true-believer any more.

This drives the hyper-partisans nuts, of course, since they need every observation to be balanced by a tu quoque.

As for the performance art/traffic angle, my take is slightly different:

If any of you are familiar with Loudon Wainwright III, you know that he writes all these songs about, essentially, himself. Ultimately, however, and by his own confession, the self that sings about isn't really him, but a more dramatic and interesting version of him.

That's sort-of how I see Althouse. There's certainly a motivation to drive traffic, but only within the parameters of what amuses the real Althouse.

5 cents please.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Here's my top three possibilities:

1. "She's going to base her decision on some last minute round of lies, without realizing they're lies."

2. "She's going to base it on something completely trivial, like the dresses the potential first ladies wear."

3. "She's going to do what Insty tells her to do."

4. "She's going to reveal that she's not really a law professor but actually an elaborate hoax from UW and her posts have been written by students at a local high school."

Mrs. Lillian Forkliss said...

A white Instructress----a Caucasian Professora in which 98% of the class She teaches is black......She has no choice but to vote for the Black man, at least officially.

In the privacy of the voting booth....she'll vote White.

Ann Althouse said...

Some insightful stuff here, but I'm too neutral to say what!

blake said...

OK, that's not neutral, that's just coy.