Really, It’s All About Obama III: Why Are They Tied?

The press and political world are wondering why John McCain has apparently evened up with Barack Obama, despite a week of embarrassing flubs.  How could Obama have lost ground?

But if you start from the assumption that this election is all about Obama, it’s really not surprising at all.  He said it himself:

“If you are satisfied with the way things are going now, then you should vote for John McCain,” Obama says before rattling off a list of current concerns, including rising gas prices, home foreclosures and job losses as the country fights two wars. Then, Obama promises “fundamental change.”

With the exception of Ted Kennedy, John McCain is the best-known politician in America who hasn’t been president or vice-president.  Whether he is “McSame” is a matter for debate, but one thing’s for sure.  He is who he is and you know who he is.  If he has a bad week, if he misspeaks, if he changes his mind on offshore oil drilling or tax cuts, it doesn’t alter our view of him.

The picture of Obama isn’t so clear yet.  The things he says resonate more because they add proportionally more to the sum of knowledge about him.  When Obama alters his positions, there is more of an impact on his overall reputation, because his initial set of positions represented most of what we knew about him.  He is in a real bind on Iraq, because he owes his nomination to his ability to chide Hillary Clinton for her pro-war vote in 2002.

The conventional wisdom is that he can “run to the center” without penalty, but I challenge that opinion.  You could not imagine an article like this one appearing with regard to any of the Democratic candidates since 1976, all of whom tried to position themselves as centrists after securing the nomination.  Some repositionings didn’t seem legitimate, perhaps.  But none have been portrayed as betrayal:

In the breathless weeks before the Oregon presidential primary in May, Martha Shade did what thousands of other people here did: she registered as a Democrat so she could vote for Senator Barack Obama.

Now, however, after critics have accused Mr. Obama of shifting positions on issues like the war in Iraq, the Bush administration’s program of wiretapping without warrants, gun control and the death penalty — all in what some view as a shameless play to a general election audience — Ms. Shade said she planned to switch back to the Green Party.

“I’m disgusted with him,” said Ms. Shade, an artist. “I can’t even listen to him anymore. He had such an opportunity, but all this ‘audacity of hope’ stuff, it’s blah, blah, blah. For all the independents he’s going to gain, he’s going to lose a lot of progressives.”

Later in the article, Shade allows as how she is far out of the mainstream, and the theme of the article is that Obama doesn’t really need to worry about the far left.  But it’s another clue to Obama’s situation that some in the far left thought Obama was one of them.  It’s the amplitude of surprise that impresses me.  Compare that with McCain’s situation.  The far right knows he’s not one of them.  When McCain strikes a centrist pose, they might resent it, but they expect it and have accounted for it already.  They’re surprised when he agrees with them.

It’s all about Obama.  If his statements and positions gel into a coherent whole, a graspable persona, and a philosophy, he probably wins.  But if voters are still trying to square Statement A with Statement B, voters will probably settle for McCain.


Trying to Beat Somebody with Nobody

Matt Bai’s excellent reporting on the netroots — a term he scrupulously avoids in a story that is meant to show the growing influence of the West Coast on the Democratic Party — contains the kernel of what I predict will be the movement’s ultimate frustration:

That these new progressives don’t have a West Coast politician to represent them in the Iowa caucuses is in keeping with the point of their entire movement. The progressive uprising inside the Democratic Party isn’t about trading in one group of politicians for another; it is about building a party in which politicians in general matter less. In their view, the 20th century may have been all about candidates dispersing their messages to the populace through the bullhorn of paid media ads, but the 21st century is about the populace sending its message to the politicians, thanks to the democratization of the online world. Who leads the charge at the top of the ticket hardly matters, as long as he (or she) says what the progressives want to hear.

“A party in which politicians in general matter less” is not the kind of party that can succeed in America.  We do not have a parliamentary system.  As of now, we pick our candidates, Democrat and Republican, through primaries.  There is no effective mechanism of party discipline, particularly on presidential candidates. 

If the movement Bai describes is so powerful, how is it that the Internet-based progressives’ favored candidate, John Edwards, is running a distant third to the candidate the progressives dislike most, Hillary Clinton?  (The Republicans are facing a similar quandary:  Their most popular candidate, Rudy Guiliani, only agrees with some of the GOP’s bedrock principles.  Liberal northeastern Republicanism was supposedly dying, but Guiliani might wind up as the most liberal Republican presidential candidate since Theodore Roosevelt.) 

Bai tries to demonstrate the progressive movement’s power this way: Continue reading

Bold Wankers

The Iraq war is a failure. The surge is a failure. General Petraeus? Impressive man, but a failure. If we pulled our forces out now, or as soon as possible, things in Iraq would improve. Meanwhile, that would free up resources to fight terrorists, who are in a lot of other places, but not Iraq.

That’s what we’re supposed to think unless we’re part of the dwindling-yet-vast right wing conspiracy. It is no longer a position. It is an orthodoxy.

So how bold was it for two liberal think-tankers, Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack, to publish this op-ed in the New York Times today? And to title it “A War We Just Might Win.”

VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with. Continue reading

Help Wanted: Democratic Candidate to Run for President that People Don’t Hate

It is said that while the right looks for converts, the left looks for heretics.  The consequences of that tendency are demonstrated in this perceptive story from the LA Times:

It is a paradox of the 2008 presidential race. By a wide margin, several polls show, voters want a Democrat to win — yet when offered head-to-head contests of leading announced candidates, many switch allegiance to the Republican.

In a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll conducted this month, this dynamic was most clearly evident with Clinton.

When registered voters were asked which party they would like to win the White House, they preferred a Democrat over a Republican by 8 percentage points. But in a race pitting Clinton against former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, the Republican was favored by 10 percentage points.

Clinton’s showing against Giuliani was the starkest example of how the general Democratic edge sometimes narrows or vanishes when voters are given specific candidates to choose between.

The poll also showed Clinton trailing when matched against two other Republicans, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. The deficits, however, were within the survey’s margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

These results, as well as follow-up interviews of poll respondents, reflect the array of difficulties that Clinton could face as the Democratic nominee.

Plenty of time remains for Clinton to temper resistance to her candidacy. But for now, her failure to match her party’s generic advantage underscores the primacy of personal appeal in a presidential race, regardless of political context.

“Personal appeal” is part of the problem, but I don’t think it really captures it.  Hillary, Edwards and Obama are anything but repellent personalities.  In their own ways, they can be charismatic.  The problem is the toll that being a Democratic leader takes against a candidate’s image for strength and having a core of beliefs.

The one-issue caucuses within the party, especially labor, put so much pressure on candidates to carry their water regardless of how the general public feels, regardless of what common sense and experience shows that one of two things happens.  The Democratic leader becomes unviable because the special interests exert their veto power; or they become a flip-flopping ball of confusion, totally reliant on careful parsing of words and PR spin to make their positions seem coherent and principled.

To some degree, the netroots phenomenon was supposed to overcome this.  Kos is a “just win baby” Democrat who wants the party to unite around broad principles.  But despite the good intentions, the netroots have somehow evolved into yet another single-issue constituency — the “get out of Iraq now” caucus.   Both Clinton and Obama joined a small minority of Democrats in opposing the troop funding bill, because they believed they would otherwise be crucified.  But that position is likely to come back to haunt them later.

Defining Moments (Updated)*

With the White House an open seat in 2008, you’d think the upcoming election would be about more than Gotcha!  Especially since we seem to be living in consequential times.  But if you thought that, you’d be naive.  Here’s what the most influential and most passionate netroots blogger thinks will win the election for the Democrats next year:

Videotape everything they do

Mon May 21, 2007 at 12:10:19 PM PDT

Every appearance by a top Republican official or candidate should be recorded. Every one of them.

All it takes is one “Macaca” incident to transform a race or create one where one didn’t exist. As the Montana incident blogged earlier today showed, a video can knock out prospective candidates before they even enter.

And this is no longer about finding one big blunder to put on a campaign commercial. It’s about using video and (free) technologies like YouTube to build narratives about opponents, using their own words, at their own events.

It’s never too early to start.

We’ve got a long, difficult slog ahead of us next year. The more material we amass today, the better we’ll able to use that video to support our efforts next year.

I mean, that’s fine.  And, coming from Markos Moulitsas, it’s hardly a surprise.  As he has said of himself: “They want to make me into the latest Jesse Jackson, but I’m not ideological at all.  I’m just all about winning.”

The problem with the politics of scandal, gaffes, embarassments and “macaca moments” is that, like umpire mistakes in a baseball game, candidate blunders tend to even out.  As a group, almost all politicians are weird.   Count on them to hide something that will be exposed, say something at odds with what they profess to believe, or think in their blind arrogance that they can get away with something that won’t stand the light of day.

Calling for an accumulation of “gotcha” moments is a strategy about nothing, to paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld.  It’s not about persuading or inspiring voters.  It merely reminds them that we are governed by two-faced narcissistic jerks.  That’s why negative campaigning’s most notable effect is to suppress voter turnout.  It doesn’t make voters say, “Aha! Now I prefer X over Y.”  It makes them say, “I was going to vote for Y, but now, ew.” 

Kos is right. If you turn off more Republicans than Democrats, you’ve improved your chances of winning.  But no matter how much video you capture, you can’t depend on coming out ahead in the gotcha race.  It only works if the other side lets its guard down and lets you off the hook when you make your own blunders.  In the YouTube era, that’s basically an assumption that your opponents will commit professional suicide.  Good luck with that.

But beyond the strategic limits of “gotcha” politics, I also question whether “macaca moments” are what voters will be asking for in 2008.  I won’t go as far as to say voters in 2008 will find gaffes to be trivial, and ignore them. I’m not Pollyanna.  But I hope the Democratic Party only half-listens to Kos.  Tactics will matter, but I predict ideas will matter more. 

*UPDATE, 5/24/07.  Todd Ziegler of the Bivings Report raises a related concern today.

In many ways, the story of the web (particularly video) in politics the last few years has been the story of “gotcha” moments. Bad jokes. Pretty hair. Southern accents. Screaming. Terror taxis. Macaca. No strings.The humiliating videos get a lot more play than the substitutive ones (admittedly nobody has done anything that interesting with video this cycle).

Some of the moments linked to above are unforgivable. But in some cases these “gotcha” moments are examples of candidates being real.

So we’re in a situation where we want candidates to be authentic but are quick to punish them when they are. And the constant presence of voters with cameras ensures that there will be plenty of these gotcha moments.

It seems to me that instead of creating a more open election, we may be creating one where the candidate that is the most on message and the most robotic is rewarded. It can be argued that it wasn’t YouTube that defeated George Allen, but his own lack of discipline on the stump. The candidate that makes the least mistakes wins.

Note to Kos:  Of the seven links embedded in Zeigler’s post, four embarass Democrats.  You’d really have to have partisan blinders firmly in place to think “macaca-moment” politics favors one party over the other.

Like Bob Kerrey Says

I’ve just about given up trying to make the case for the Iraq war. Not because I don’t believe it was the right thing to do, because it was. Not because I mind sticking out like a sore thumb among virtually all my friends and family, because I don’t. Not even because Bush and (especially) Rumsfeld repeatedly made bad decisions and blunders that complicated what was already going to be a hard slog, because their mistakes don’t undermine the philosophical or strategic rationale.

No, I’m ready to throw in the towel because it’s obvious nobody cares anymore. I don’t think Democrats and liberals are stupid: They see the peril in ditching Iraq, and the rising tide of blood our departure would cause. They just don’t give a damn.  Republicans are starting to feel the same way.  Their insouciance is the flip side of arrogance, both of them a privilege our vast military might affords us.

I’ve worked for people whose philosophy of life is, “I’ll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.” If a power vacuum at the heart of the Middle East causes horrible problems there and here, fine. We’ll deal with them when they arise — and maybe score a few points by blaming that idiot Bush. It’s cynical, but it’s not hidden, and people seem to be buying into it.  This question has never been polled but I suspect a majority of Americans believe that if we pull out of Iraq, and that it turns out to be a mistake, well, hell, we can just roll back in.

One of my arguments — one that everybody hates and shoots down — is this: If we hadn’t invaded, and had just waited for Saddam Hussein to die or be overthrown, the warfare between Shi’ite and Sunni militias would have commenced then. And Al Queda would have tried to capitalize on it, as would have Iran. The only way that could have been avoided was if Hussein had successfully gotten a nuclear weapon. Ex-CIA director George Tenet believes that probably would have happened between now and 2009.

So, the Iraq of 2008 would have either been in a state of bloody civil war and in danger of falling into the hands of Al Queda or Iran, or Hussein’s regime would have still been in place, equipped with a nuclear weapon to sustain his rule or the rule of his sons. And we would have been forced to deal with Iraq then, from an even less advantageous position than the one we have now — including, possibly, military action.

I have been told repeatedly this is a stupid argument. And maybe it is. But at least I now have the validation of being joined in my stupid argument by former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey, a Democrat, the one-time presidential candidate who is now president of the New School in New York. In Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal he restates the case for the war “from the U.S. point of view”:

The U.S. led an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein because Iraq was rightly seen as a threat following Sept. 11, 2001. For two decades we had suffered attacks by radical Islamic groups but were lulled into a false sense of complacency because all previous attacks were “over there.” It was our nation and our people who had been identified by Osama bin Laden as the “head of the snake.” But suddenly Middle Eastern radicals had demonstrated extraordinary capacity to reach our shores.

As for Saddam, he had refused to comply with numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions outlining specific requirements related to disclosure of his weapons programs. He could have complied with the Security Council resolutions with the greatest of ease. He chose not to because he was stealing and extorting billions of dollars from the U.N. Oil for Food program.

No matter how incompetent the Bush administration and no matter how poorly they chose their words to describe themselves and their political opponents, Iraq was a larger national security risk after Sept. 11 than it was before. And no matter how much we might want to turn the clock back and either avoid the invasion itself or the blunders that followed, we cannot. The war to overthrow Saddam Hussein is over. What remains is a war to overthrow the government of Iraq.

Okay, so far, all this does is put Kerrey in the same “wanker” category where netroots bloggers put Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman due to his robust support for the war. But then, Kerrey continues with this:

Some who have been critical of this effort from the beginning have consistently based their opposition on their preference for a dictator we can control or contain at a much lower cost. From the start they said the price tag for creating an environment where democracy could take root in Iraq would be high. Those critics can go to sleep at night knowing they were right.

The critics who bother me the most are those who ordinarily would not be on the side of supporting dictatorships, who are arguing today that only military intervention can prevent the genocide of Darfur, or who argued yesterday for military intervention in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda to ease the sectarian violence that was tearing those places apart.

Suppose we had not invaded Iraq and Hussein had been overthrown by Shiite and Kurdish insurgents. Suppose al Qaeda then undermined their new democracy and inflamed sectarian tensions to the same level of violence we are seeing today. Wouldn’t you expect the same people who are urging a unilateral and immediate withdrawal to be urging military intervention to end this carnage? I would.

American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq’s middle class has fled the country in fear.

With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.

He closes by saying that a U.S. withdrawal would hand Bin Laden an immense “psychological victory,” and carries his argument one step further with an insight I’ve not read anywhere else — a powerful refutation of those who say our invasion “created terrorists.”

Those who argue that radical Islamic terrorism has arrived in Iraq because of the U.S.-led invasion are right. But they are right because radical Islam opposes democracy in Iraq. If our purpose had been to substitute a dictator who was more cooperative and supportive of the West, these groups wouldn’t have lasted a week.

Right.  The presence of democracy, and its desperate struggle to root itself in Iraqi soil:  That’s what’s drawn the brigades of poisonous wasps that are Islamists into Iraq.  Contrary to Rep. John Murtha’s assertions, if we leave, they won’t leave; not until they can kill secular-based self-government once and for all.  Optimally, they want an Islamist fundamentalist government.  But if that can’t be achieved, then any other option is better than a functioning democracy with a functioning civil society, because that’s a threat to the Islamist movement’s growth, worldwide.

The US is no longer in the business of installing friendly dictators — let’s hope. We’ve chosen a much harder path. It would have been nice if we’d taken that path without all the well-documented mistakes, but we should be proud we took it, and we need to stick to it.

Oh, hell, now I’m back in this debate again.

David Broder, Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’

If you read the left-wing blogs, you quickly learn there is no journalist or commentator more despised than David S. Broder, the “Dean” of Washington columnists.  In recent writings, Broder has been less than thrilled with the performance of the new Democratic Congress and its leadership.  To the netroots, it’s still the honeymoon phase; but here’s this old guy, an uncle you sort of have to listen to, standing at the back of the reception saying “You stink!”

What they despise about Broder is his reputation as a liberal, which derives in part from his position at the Washington Post.   The netroots disagree that the Post is actually all that liberal, or that Broder is “one of them,” and it really steams them that Broder’s critical comments about the Democratic party are seen as coming from a sympathetic corner.  

Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter leave no mark; they’re dismissed easily as right-wing crackpots.  But Broder disrupts what the netroots repeatedly call “the narrative.”  When a liberal says what conservatives say, the conservatives’ viewpoints are legitimized.  The netroots don’t really enjoy debating conservatives; they’d rather dismiss them from the debate entirely. It’s harder to do that when they can cite liberals like David Broder as agreeing with them. 

I’m beginning to think David Broder likes provoking the netroots.  What else would explain today’s column, in which he compares Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to…omigod!… Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez!  

The column was prompted by Reid’s much-criticized comment last week that “this war is lost.”

…Reid’s verbal wanderings on the war in Iraq are consequential — not just for his party and the Senate but for the more important question of what happens to U.S. policy in that violent country and to the men and women whose lives are at stake.

Given the way the Constitution divides warmaking power between the president, as commander in chief, and Congress, as sole source of funds to support the armed services, it is essential that at some point Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi be able to negotiate with the White House to determine the course America will follow until a new president takes office.

To say that Reid has sent conflicting signals about his readiness for such discussions is an understatement. It has been impossible for his own members, let alone the White House, to sort out for more than 24 hours at a time what ground Reid is prepared to defend.

Instead of reinforcing the important proposition — defined by the Iraq Study Group— that a military strategy for Iraq is necessary but not sufficient to solve the myriad political problems of that country, Reid has mistakenly argued that the military effort is lost but a diplomatic-political strategy can still succeed.

The Democrats deserve better, and the country needs more, than Harry Reid has offered as Senate majority leader.

Broder’s comparison with Gonzalez is, in fact, quite apt.  The problem with Sen. Reid is that he is an incompetent Senate Majority Leader.  As Michael Dukakis said, “It’s not about ideology. It’s about competence.”  The AG is manifestly unfit for his job, and so is Reid.  Reid can’t manage his own mouth; how can he be expected to manage the U.S. Senate? Vice President Cheney’s stinging retort to Reid drew blood because he mostly just quoted Reid’s own incredibly contradictory pattern of statements about the war over the past few months.

But to the netroots, even pointing out obvious incompetence screws up “the narrative.”  Here’s what diarist mcjoan says on Daily Kos regarding Broder’s column:

It’s just so sad, so disconnected from anything even remotely resembling reality. We had ample warning that it was coming, but maybe somehow didn’t think it could really, really be as bad as expected. It is. You can go read it, if you like. But there’s really hardly any point any more.

I do have to give this to the Dean. He is somehow adroit enough to hammer the final nail into the coffin that holds all that was left of his ability to reasonably comment on current events. What more is there to say?

And here is what Greg Sargent, a TPM Cafe blogger, says:

Boy, oh, boy. Will Broder really argue that Reid is as inept as Gonzales, despite the fact (or perhaps because of the fact) that Reid has refused to back down on Iraq while simultaneously maintaining public approval of his approach? He’s also maintained a respectable 46% approval rating — far higher than Bush, who Broder says is on the verge of a comeback. What is it that’s so profoundly threatening about Reid’s success to the Broders of the world?

In the respective comment threads, the “blogswarm” goes on a Broder-bashing spree.  Kos himself weighs in:

 What more is there left to say? (22+ / 0-)

That finally it’s clear as day that Broder is simply another run-of-the-mill beltway partisan hack. Once upon a time, he convinced everyone in DC that he was a non-partisan arbiter of conventional wisdom. That fiction is now blown apart. Broder is no better or different than Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly. An inglorious conclusion to a career in hackdom.

by kos on Wed Apr 25, 2007 at 10:56:27 PM PDT

Here’s one from Sargent’s thread:

Its time for the blogshere to do some investigative reporting on Broder and the like.

It’s pretty clear that the Bushies/necons will do anything to advance their cause, protect themselves and manipulate public opinion.

Why has Broder nor Wapo disclosed Broder’s close relationship with Rove?

Broder is either being paid off financially or blackmailed. Cayman Island bank accounts, junkets, or compromising personal information. All of the above?

Posted by:erict
Date: April 25, 2007 08:26 PM

And how about this one from the Washington Post’s own comment thread:

Take the package, Mr. Broder. Retire now before you shred what reputation you have left any further. Old windbag. If the war is so great, why arent your kids and grandkids there? Harry Reid is right. The war is lost. Its time to come home and stop playing cowboy with American lives, which is just making everything in Iraq worse. Bush is the worst disaster in the history of the United States, and Broder was one of his sycophantic cheerleaders after nine one one. The emperor never had any clothes.

By snoopydc | Apr 26, 2007 12:32:42 AM |

Throughout the comments you find the view expressed that Reid’s “war is lost” comment is true, and that polls show the public agrees with it.  What they are overlooking is the American public doesn’t prefer to lose this war.   Reid seems to be egging on that result, especially when he says things like this:

“We’re going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war. Senator Schumer has shown me numbers that are compelling and astounding.”

Broder isn’t a hack, and he isn’t on the take.  He has a memory.  Memory curses dreams like the netroots’.  

Here’s an inconvenient analysis that draws on my own memories.

At the end of the Vietnam War, the Democrats facilitated the final defeat, denying President Ford’s request for funds to fulfil the promises the U.S. made after we pulled out. In 1975, the politics of that move looked pretty good; the public was sick of Vietnam.  In 1976, Carter beat Ford — but it should have been a landslide because of Watergate, and instead it was a squeaker.  Why?   In 1978, Republicans reversed most of the gains the Democrats had made in Congress in 1974.  In 1980, Reagan clobbered Carter, and the Republicans took the Senate. 

I believe the atrocities that followed the ignominious end to the Vietnam War, and the U.S.’ impotence to stop mass genocide and annihilation of our former supporters fueled those Democratic setbacks.  For the first time in decades, Republicans started talking about an aggressive stance toward the Soviet Union, and after the horrors of postwar Southeast Asia, the message resonated.

Losing Iraq would be another bloody business. It’s not hard to imagine.  Suicide bombings would increase. Civil war would widen. Any Iraqi individual or institution committed to democracy would be targeted for murder. Al Queda could well end up effectively in charge of parts of Iraq. 

And Harry Reid thinks this will help the Democrats win elections?  It’s absurd.  And he’s incompetent for thinking so, much less saying so.