Meanwhile, the Democratic party elders (outside Florida at least,) wonders: how do you stop a problem like democracy? First up: Joe Sestak, who, God bless him, is going to challenge Arlen Switcheroo in Pennsylvania:
“I understand the very short-term, expedient desire to have the insurance of a 60th vote,” Sestak said, speaking of the implications of Specter’s April party switch and why the longtime senator was so quickly embraced by the administration.
But he added of Obama: “I believe in his heart of hearts, he really wants a real Democrat to win this race, and I think he very much respects that we are pretty independent-minded in Pennsylvania and we should have a choice.”
Asked directly if a plea from Obama would make any difference, Sestak shook his head and said: “No.”
In New York, it won't be a Senate walk for the party's designated Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, either, since Carolyn Maloney seems to be very much in the race, probably with Joe Trippi as her campaign manager:
Maloney, a veteran member of Congress who represents much of New York City’s silk-stocking Upper East Side, dispatched longtime Democratic consultant and her likely chief campaign strategist Joe Trippi to state her intentions about a potential challenge to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
“She’s way past all that,” Trippi said when asked about how Maloney would respond to a request from Obama to stay out of the race. “She really believes the people of New York deserve a choice. She’s not somebody who’s going to back down.”
This should all ring very familiar to our president:
For Obama, there’s an added irony that isn’t lost on some Democrats — that the ultimate insurgent candidate is now in the incumbent-protection business.
In the case of Sestak and Maloney, Obama may be reaping what he sowed. While Hillary Clinton wasn’t an incumbent in the presidential race, she was the establishment figure who many Democratic elites rallied around early on in the primary. But the president proved that an insurgent can win and that Democratic primary voters can buck their elected leaders.
“Who do they think inspired these people to run?” asked Trippi. “They started this. They took on the established order of the party. If they had listened to the establishment, Obama wouldn’t be in the White House. It’s hard for them to argue with this when they blazed the trail.”
Amen, and Amen. Like it or not, President Obama has inspired a new thirst for the democratic process inside this country and out. Let's have at it and let the voters decide.
Are white conservatives suffering from 'discrimination envy?'
//So I went and committed myself to taking part in this multi-part "conversation on race" over at Open Salon. (Had I known it was going to be this much work I might have thought better of it, but there you go...) Anyway, here's my entry. You can view previous parts the series here. //
I thought I'd heard it all when Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union over slavery, demanded that Judge Sonia Sotomayor... an Hispanic woman ... apologize, presumably to all white men for saying, as we've now heard umpteen times on cable news (and never in context,) that she would "hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would make a better decision than a white man who hadn't lived that experience."
The charges of reverse racism were made with such zeal and relish -- you almost begin to wonder whether the loud mouths were blowing the dog whistle or hearing it; somehow following what they knew to be an underlying and very real anxiety, even a kind of "discrimination envy" -- among white men of a certain age; plus a frustration about being the only group that doesn't get to cry "ism" when their feelings are hurt.
Indeed, for white men in America, it's been one hell of a half century. From desegregation to affirmative action to the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of '64 and '65, the last 50 or so years have been a period of steady deterioration for the image of white man as America's boss and father figure. In America's collective theater of the mind, white men have traversed from Neil Armstrong and JFK to Al Bundy, Dick Nixon and Jimmy Carter. J.R. Ewing, Don Johnson and Ronald Reagan reinvigorated the brand for a while, but it didn't last.
On television in the 1970s, the fed up white guy was represented by Archie Bunker, who felt free to rail against blacks, foreigners, assertive women and all the rest of what was wrong with the Brave New multicultural world, but only inside his house. The Reagan era brought us a reinvented Archie named Rush Limbaugh -- far less lovable, louder and more blandly vicious than the Norman Lear character (and three times less capable of keeping a wife,) but still venting a real frustration at what seemed to be a world filled with teachers who want his kids to learn Spanish, Mexicans who are taking all the jobs (and not learning English), and Hollywierdos who fill his TV with blacks, browns and "queers", and who keep telling him, in ways large and small, that people like him -- meat and potatoes, Christian white men like the kind who "built this country" and who like their big cars, their cigarettes and their women in skirts -- aren't cool anymore. By the time Archie took its last Klieg lights in the late 70s, Title IX and affirmative action (whose dirty little secret is that it benefits white women more than any other group) had ripped June Cleaver from the kitchen and created a new generation of board room hustle-women who don't want to get married or have kids until they turned 40, or ever, and who don't like to be called "gal."
The 80s and 90s brought hip-hop, where a white guy pretty much has to muse about killing his mama to be taken seriously, and which stole a generation of young white college guys from good old rock and roll. Baseball was taken by the Latinos, basketball and football by the "brothas," hell even golf eventually fell to Tiger Woods (though he's not actually black according to him, he's "Coblanasian," which is black for "please don't call me black.") And there were the Cosbys, who forever replaced the Cleavers as the prototypical American TV family. (To add insult to injury, the show that for a long time was the lead in to Cosby was "Family Ties," in which the lone conservative white male character, Alex P. Keaton, was often the butt of the plot's jokes.)
It's cold comfort, it seems, that white men still controll 85 percent of the nation's board rooms, hold 84 percent of the highest corporate titles (CEO, COO and the like,) and that "just 6 percent of corporate America's top money earners are women," and "only 3 percent of board members are women of color." There is exactly one black female CEO of a major corporation in the U.S. (her name is Ursula Burns, and she now runs Xerox.)
Blacks and Hispanics may dominate on the diamond, court and field, but white men still control 95% of professional NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball franchises.
In Hollywood, Will Smith may have replaced Tom Cruise as the modern era's top earner and box office king, and Shonda Rimes ("Grey's Anatomy" creator") and Oprah may be at the top of the money market, but the majority of films featuring black actors are rehashes of "Boys in the Hood" or slapstick comedies, as Spike Lee has wryly pointed out. On television, the buffoonery is even worse, with not a "Cosby Show" in sight. (If you don't believe me, try being a black Hollywood actress for a day who isn't Halle Berry ...) And across the entertainment spectrum, don't let Diddy and Jay Z fool you, the vast majority of entertainment industry executives are NOT African-American (and neither are the vast majority of its stars.)
In fact, if you look at any statistic, from poverty, to unemployment to high school graduation rates, and on and on, and you'll find that in reality, black and brown people haven't even come close to catching, let alone eclipsing, white men.
So why all the gnashing of teeth It's called politics. In 2008, Barack Obama became the first Democrat to win a majority of the popular vote (53%) since Jimmy Carter. And while he didn't win a majority of the white vote, he won enough of it (43%) to carry him to victory, because he swept every other demographic group, particularly minorities and young people. There was a particularly fixation with white voters and their relationship to Obama during the campaign, and for good reason. Prior to last year, the notion of a black U.S. president -- particularly one named Barack Hussein Obama -- seemed almost absurd, mainly because it was assumed that white people would never vote for such a person (remember how wrong people like Pat Buchanan and Chris Matthews were about white voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio?) But the 2008 election proved a point that Buchanan, Gingrich and other seasoned politicos, and even the portly Mr. Limbaugh understand. Namely, the country's population, and voters, are shifting steadily brownward.
Thus the panic that Limbaugh, Buchanan, Gingrich, Bill O'Reilly and others are exhibiting, about "racism," about Sotomayor, the Ricci case (and "Lou Dobbs" nightly jeremiads about illegal immigration,) is not the panic of people who really believe that minorities are outshining white men economically or even socially. It's the panic of men who hear the drumbeat of the next national election, one that will be held after all the damage that's been done to the GOP, by the GOP with Hispanic voters (and long since with blacks.) Meanwhile, the percentage of white voters in the 2008 voting population shrank precipitously:
"The overall message is total ballots cast by white Americans was down, while African Americans and Latinos cast way more ballots than they did in 2004," said Jody Herman, a researcher with Project Vote. "And young voters, age 18-29, cast over 1.8 million more ballots than in 2005, which is a 9 percent increase. That increase was greater than any other age group."
... In contrast, 2.88 million more African Americans, 1.52 million more Latinos, 67,000 more Asian Americans and 1.32 million members of other minorities, voted this fall compared to four years ago. That is 1.18 million fewer white voters and 6.96 million more minority voters.
Moreover, precisely which white voters stayed home was telling:
"I think absolutely white Republicans did not show up," he said. "They were turned off, disillusioned. They did not turn out. Democratic voters did come out. They couldn't wait to vote."
When Ronald Reagan won the presidency in 1980, his voters were 98 percent white. Had he received the same turnout of whites, blacks and Hispanics as we saw in 2008, he would have lost the election. Which brings us back to Lindsey Graham, Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan, Gingrich and others, (plus this guy) plus the right's favorite drum major: Fox News. Their two-week orgy of Sotomayor condemnation seems tailor made to target the white guys out there who really do feel like so many Frank Riccis -- victimized by "Jim Crow liberalism," having studying harder and overcoming more obstacles than the pampered Princetonians and birth certificate hiding Harvard grads living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, with their exotic childhoods and degreed pomposity, and yet, being denied opportunities at work, at colleges, in sports, and hell, in life ... wait for it ... because they're white. To those Archie Bunkers out there, who found their voices (and their pitchforks) at Sarah Palin rallies and who don't realize G. Gordon Liddy is an actual criminal (or that Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck are not actually delivering the "news,") and who wouldn't care anyway, because these people are speaking up for them, the leaders of the right -- such as they are -- are offering to lead a new civil rights movement, which shall consist mainly of voting Republican.
Meek's campaign says: when you think Kendrick, think Barack.
If he (and many other Black pols) had gotten his way, Hillary Clinton would have been the Democratic nominee for president in 2008. But politics is about the future, not the past, and Kendrick Meek's future has a whooooole lotta Barack in it.
Meek, who I hear plans to raise $25 million or more for his Senate run, already has Obama's deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand, who parked in South Florida for the final stretch of the campaign, on the payroll. Combine that with the Clinton fundraising machine in Miami and beyond (including Timbaland neighbor Chris Korge,) and longtime union friends like SEIU (who surprise! have endorsed him already) and Meek just might pull off that $25 mil and run away with the primary (recent polling here and here). But this campaign solicitation with Hildebrand's name on it might make some die-hard Obamaniacs chuckle:
I was fortunate to spend the final weeks of Barack Obama's campaign in Florida. The experience is one I won't forget -- the inspiration I felt from voters there was unique. My time in the state also gave me the chance to meet great leaders who worked tirelessly to help elect our President.
One leader in particular stood out, and that is Congressman Kendrick Meek. [Emphasis added] He inspired me. His commitment and dedication to helping Barack Obama win the presidency made a real difference. I owe a debt of gratitude to Kendrick for all that he did to help win those 27 critical electoral votes.
The Florida victory was long overdue -- you all know it better than I do. The results of the November 4 elections give Floridians the chance to capitalize on the momentum it provided. So when Kendrick decided to run for the U.S. Senate and make the bold move to get out there early, I asked myself, "Where do I sign up?" ...
... and can they afford my fee!? (spoiler alert: "yes they can.") Okay, maybe that's too cynical. Politics, after all, is the art of the possible, and its possible that Obama supporters no longer care who supported whom during the primary. In fact, most people probably don't. And by Obamatizing his campaign, Kendrick hopes to capitalize on the excitement of the 2008 campaign, particularly among black voters, which is smart. He's also hitting up Obama donors early, the better to raise that $25 mil. Smart times two. And he's going big early to get his name recognition up. Smart move number three.
Still, the idea that Meek was the bestest of all the pro-Obama leaders will likely come as a surprise to Robert Wexler, who was the first politician to endorse Obama in Florida, or to State Sen. Fredrica Wilson (now running for Meek's House seat) who worked tirelessly for Obama dating back to 2007, when she pointedly asked me in August of that year during an interview, how any Black elected official could fail to support an intelligent, qualified candidate like Obama; or to State Sen. Dan Gelber, Meek's main primary opponent at the moment (unless Pam Iorio or Ron Klein get in,) who also endorsed Obama during the primary, and whose campaign manager, Steve Schale, ran the Florida for Obama campaign, or to Manny Diaz or Miami Gardens Mayor Shirly Gibson or all the other pols who stumped for Obama for like, ever.
Then again, it's possible that nobody remembers or cares about any of that stuff, either.
Believe it or not, there are still some Republicans out there who, like the old southerners who have never quite accepted the Confederates' capitulation at Appomattox, similarly can't accept an election that happened more than three months ago. And of course, they're right here in "Flawrida!" First up: a floor fight in the State Senate yesterday between a black South Florida legislator and a crazy lady from Brandon who can't accept that Barack Obama is president. From the Palm Beach Post politics blog:
Democrats and Republicans got into a heated verbal brawl ... over a public campaign finance bill in the Senate Transportation and Economic Development Committee. Some GOP senators railed against President Barack Obama’s reversal about taking public money to finance his campaign, just stopping short of calling the president a liar and refusing to refer to him as “president,” instead calling him “Sen. Obama” or “Candidate Obama.”
Democratic Sens. Chris Smith and Tony Hill grew fidgety as the anti-Obama rhetoric escalated but spilled over after Republican Ronda Storms refused to let the matter drop.
“I understand that some are uncomfortable with Candidate Obama’s faiilure to keep his word and those of us who did not support him calling attention to that,” Storms, R-Brandon, said. “I can completely understand they don’t want to talk about the messiah having a flaw but the messiah has a flaw.”
That pushed Smith, who previously tried to limit discussion on the proposed constitutional amendment (SJR 566) by asking for a vote, over the edge.
Smith said he was concerned that the debate was about federal campaign laws and not the state laws included in the bill.
“Don’t pi** on me and tell me it’s raining. I know what you were doing and I called you on it,” said Smith, whose district includes part of Palm Beach County.
Smith got a reprimand from the committee chairman for his trouble. Storms? Not so much. And Storms is not alone. The Florida Democratic Party chairwoman, Karen Thurman, is out with a statement slamming Storms and adding this:
Today, Congressman Bill Posey from Melbourne drafted legislation designed to fan the rumors on the extreme fringe of the Republican Party questioning President Obama's citizenship. These rumors are completely false, but they just won't give up. Congressman Posey should be focused on creating jobs and jumpstarting the economy, but it seems he's only obsessed with pandering to the right wing.
Floridians need our leaders to be focused on how to crate more jobs, expand healthcare and fix the economy, not pander to fringe elements. Florida Democrats fighting against these smears and working to elect leaders that will work for all of us.
The Posey funhouse legislation, as described by Politico, is yet another birtherfringe attempt to swat at Barack Obama's repeatedly proved American citizenship. The bill, "amend(s) the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to require the principal campaign committee of a candidate for election to the office of President to include with the committee’s statement of organization a copy of the candidate’s birth certificate, together with such other documentation as may be necessary to establish that the candidate meets the qualifications for eligibility to the Office of President under the Constitution." But as Politico points out, even had the bill been law in 2008, that wouldn't have been enough to satisfy the right wing wackos questioning Obama's nationality. (Spoiler alert: it's a racial thing!)
Anyhoo, Kudos to Chris Smith, who's one hell of a nice guy, and rightfully stood up for reason (and not peeing on people.)
Had my mother, born Philomena Augustina Carryl, lived until today, her birthday, she would be 80 years old. (She always told us she was ten years younger than she was, because she looked young enough to get away with it...) [Photo at left: my mother graduating from NYU, sometime in the 1950s. Photo courtesy my godmother]
And what a different world she would have lived to see.
Calvin Coolidge was the U.S. president when my mother was born in Georgetown, British Guyana; and his successor, Herbert Hoover, was sworn in about a month after her birth, on March 4th ... Iran was still called Persia ... the U.S. Immigration law of 1924 (also known as the Asian Exclusion Act) was still restricting the number of Asians and Eastern Europeans who could come into the country ... Lou Gehrig was playing for the Yankees ... there had been 55 Kentucky Derbies, 33 Boston marathons and 64 British Golf Opens ... Palestinians and Jews were fighting in Jerusalem ... the Afghan government was being overthrown ... the Indian National Congress was spoiling for India's independence from Great Britain ... Bessie Smith recorded "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" ... the Harlem Renaissance was still going strong ... and a loaf of bread cost just 9 cents. The Great Depression began, and my mother's generation would live through that, and war, and Cold War, and the birth of the television age, and the assassination of one president and the resignation of another.
My mother died in 1986, so she missed out on Monicagate, Disastrous Dubya, and of course, Barack Obama. But she was born in an era of tremendous change.
Popeye debuts in the comic strip "Thimble Theater" (January 17.)
"NY Daily Mirror" columnist Walter Winchell made his radio debut (January 18)
Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin proposed that Leo Trotsky be banned from the Politburo (January 18 ... Trotsky was expelled from the entire country, to Turkey, on January 31st)
On my mother's birthday, February 11, Eugene O'Neill's play, "Dynamo," made its debut in New York City, and Vatican City, the world's smallest country, was made an official enclave of Rome. Vatican City became a sovereign state June 7th.
Three days later, on February 14, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre took place in Chicago, leaving 7 mobsters dead.
American Samoa became a territory (February 20)
General Motors bought German auto manufacturer Adam Opel in March, which is interesting to me only because I briefly owned a Buick Opel in the early 1990s. Worst car I've ever had. It was a lemon from day one.
The 1st telephone was installed in the White House (March 23)
Louie Marx introduces Yo-Yo on April 1
New York Yankees become 1st team to wear uniform numbers (April 16)
The first regularly scheduled TV broadcasts begin 3 nights per week, for the few who can afford the sets (May 11)
The first Academy Awards take place, with "Wings," Emil Jennings and Janet Gaynor winning statuettes (May 16)
General Feng Yu-Xiang of China declared war on Chiang Kai-Shek government (May 19)
The New York Stock Exchange became the country's largest financial exchange, surpassing the New York Exchange in June, shortly after they installed an electronic stock quotation board (May 21)
The first all color talking picture, "On With the Show," was exhibited in New York City (May 28);
George Eastman demonstrated the first technicolor movie in Rochester New York (June 4)
The first color television set was demonstrated in New York City (June 27)
U.S. cartoonist Elzie Segar created "Popeye" (July 1)
U.S. currency shrunk to its current, smaller size (July 10)
Jones Beach in New York opens (August 4)
German airship Graf Zeppelin begins a round-the-world flight (August 8)
Babe Ruth becomes the first baseball player to hit 500 home runs. He hit number 500 off pitcher Willis Hudlin of Cleveland (August 11)
The Dow Jones peaked at a record 381.17 (September 3)
The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes changed its name to Yugoslavia (October 3)
The stock market crash begins with "Black Thursday," as the Dow Jones plummets 12.8% (October 24)
Former Interior Sec Albert Fall convicted of accepting $100,000 bribe (October 25)
Wall Street suffers a second shock on Black Tuesday, as a 13% (38.33 point) drop in the Stock Market at the previous closing bell triggers the Great Depression (October 29)
In perhaps the worst case of bad timing ever, the Museum of Modern Art opens in New York City on November 7...
Salvador Dali has his first one-man show November 20)
Lt Cmdr Richard E Byrd sends "My calculations indicate that we have reached vicinity of South Pole" on November 29. (He was wrong)
The game BINGO was invented by Edwin S Lowe (December 1)
The first skull of a "Peking man" was found, 50 km outside Peking, China at Tsjoe Koe Tien (December 2)
The first known U.S. nudist organization, the American League for Physical Culture, was founded in New York City (December 5)
Turkish women got the right to vote (December 6)
... and the notion of a black president of the United States was, in 1929, totally unthinkable, to the point of being ridiculous.
Other people born in 1929:
Fats Domino, Anne Frank, Arnold Palmer, G. Gordon "Felon" Liddy, Burt Bacharach, Bob Newhart, Imelda Marcos, Martin Luther King Jr., William Safire, Christopher Plummer, Yasser Arafat.
BTW February 11 is also the 19th anniversary of the day Nelson Mandela was released by South African authorities after spending 27 years in prison (1990). Happy anniversary, Mr. Mandela, and happy birthday, mom.
The prospect: 120 million Japanese people who sound like Barack Obama
CNN just ran a package about the newest education craze in Japan: learning to speak English by reciting the speeches of Barack Obama. Obama is a particular hit in Japan, and not just because there is a town there, called Obama...
Consider this my official endorsement of Chip Saltsman to be the new RNC Chairman. Why? Because in my opinion, despite all the furor he's creating over his song choices, Saltsman best exemplifies the values of today's GOP. Why?
For starters, he's doesn't seem to be a serious person. And for decades now, the Republican Party has become more and more anti-intellectual, retrograde and unserious. Example: during the recent presidential campaign, rather than taking on Barack Obama on issues of substance (economic policy, foreign policy, etc.) Steve Schmidt and company accused Obama of being ... golly! ... a celebrity ... (well duh...) and of "palling around with terrorists," something no serious person believed. And the lack of seriousness from the opposition party could be further summed up in two words: Sarah Palin.
So Saltsman, with his silly CD full of screwball comedy bits like "Barack the Magic Negro," fits the bill. In fact, the Barack song is a great example of conservatism today. The Los Angeles Times column that it's based on, titled "Obama the 'Magic Negro,'" was written in March 2007 by a black guy (actually, a mixed race guy like Obama,) and media critic named David Ehrenstein, who was making serious and interesting points about Obama's candidacy and race in America. A clip:
The Magic Negro is a figure of postmodern folk culture, coined by snarky 20th century sociologists, to explain a cultural figure who emerged in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education. "He has no past, he simply appears one day to help the white protagonist," reads the description on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_Negro .
He's there to assuage white "guilt" (i.e., the minimal discomfort they feel) over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history, while replacing stereotypes of a dangerous, highly sexualized black man with a benign figure for whom interracial sexual congress holds no interest.
As might be expected, this figure is chiefly cinematic — embodied by such noted performers as Sidney Poitier, Morgan Freeman, Scatman Crothers, Michael Clarke Duncan, Will Smith and, most recently, Don Cheadle. And that's not to mention a certain basketball player whose very nickname is "Magic."
Poitier really poured on the "magic" in "Lilies of the Field" (for which he won a best actor Oscar) and "To Sir, With Love" (which, along with "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," made him a No. 1 box-office attraction). In these films, Poitier triumphs through yeoman service to his white benefactors. "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" is particularly striking in this regard, as it posits miscegenation without evoking sex. (Talk about magic!)
... And what does the white man get out of the bargain? That's a question asked by John Guare in "Six Degrees of Separation," his brilliant retelling of the true saga of David Hampton — a young, personable gay con man who in the 1980s passed himself off as the son of none other than the real Sidney Poitier. Though he started small, using the ruse to get into Studio 54, Hampton discovered that countless gullible, well-heeled New Yorkers, vulnerable to the Magic Negro myth, were only too eager to believe in his baroque fantasy. (One of the few who wasn't fooled was Andy Warhol, who was astonished his underlings believed Hampton's whoppers. Clearly Warhol had no need for the accouterment of interracial "goodwill.")
But the same can't be said of most white Americans, whose desire for a noble, healing Negro hasn't faded. That's where Obama comes in: as Poitier's "real" fake son.
The parody, on the other hand, was written and performed by a white guy and conservative comedian named Paul Shanklin. It tackles the deep, existential question of whether Al Sharpton thought Obama is really black. let's compare Shanklin's lyrics:
Yeah, the guy from the L.A. paper Said he makes guilty whites feel good They’ll vote for him, and not for me ‘Cause he’s not from the hood.
See, real black men, like Snoop Dog, Or me, or Farrakhan Have talked the talk, and walked the walk. Not come in late and won!
The only mud that momentarily stuck was criticism (white and black alike) concerning Obama's alleged "inauthenticty," as compared to such sterling examples of "genuine" blackness as Al Sharpton and Snoop Dogg. Speaking as an African American whose last name has led to his racial "credentials" being challenged — often several times a day — I know how pesky this sort of thing can be.
Sorry, but aren't good parodies supposed to be at least half as interesting as the things they mock? There are other reasons think our friend Chip should become RNC chair. Here are a few:
1. He's not black. The GOP can only have one black spokesmodel at a time. Michael Steele and Ken Blackwell cancel each other out. Besides, the Republican Party has become so racially polarizing, and so tinged with scary, racist rallies, generic race-baiters, Alaskan secessionists and creepy bald guys, I doubt that either Steele or Blackwell would have much credibility with the rank and file. Even if they were accepted as party leader, either man would appear to all the world like a token, and the GOP needs genuine outreach to people of color, and much better ideas, not tokens.
2. He's from the South. At this point, the Republican Party is essentially a southern party, down to their decided preference for foreign automakers who locate south of the Maxon Dixon with an eye toward tanking American wages. A regional party should have a regional chairman, from a representative state (sorry, Jim Greer. Florida is a bit too cosmopolitan at the lower geographic end. And a state with so many prominent Latinos just won't fit in with the Dixiefide party you belong to.)
3. He ran Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign. Ergo, he's both evangelical-friendly and prone to losing national elections. At this point, everyone in the GOP is one or the other (or both.)
4. He's clueless. This was his response to the hubbub over his holiday CD:
"Liberal Democrats and their allies in the media didn't utter a word about David Ehrenstein's irresponsible column in the Los Angeles Times last March. But now, of course, they're shocked and appalled by its parody on the 'Rush Limbaugh Show.'
Um ... if you thought that the column was "irresponsible," what makes you think the parody isn't?
and last but not least:
5. He's an equal opportunity offender (just like his pal Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the GOP.) After all, the Grand Old Party has not just turned off black folk. They've also spurned Hispanics, young voters, the middle class, smart people, scientists, non-xenophobes and anyone who opposes the Iraq War or doesn't worship George W. Bush. In short: everybody except the Palinites. So is it any wonder that while "Barack the Magic Negro" is getting all the attention, the rest of the CD is no great shakes either:
The CD, called "We Hate the U.S.A," blasts liberals with such musical greats as “Barack the Magic Negro,” first played on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, "John Edwards' Poverty Tour," "Wright Place, Wrong Pastor," "The Star Spanglish Banner" and "Love Client #9."
Great work, Chip. You've done your party a great service. You'll make a mighty fine chair.
The 1992 redistricting piled up non-white voters into congressional districts dubbed "minority-majority," to increase non-white representation in Congress. Republicans eagerly embraced the new take on voting rights, as they felt it would make dozens of white-majority districts less competitive for Democrats. There was also much hand-wringing among Democrats for the same reason, and some even argued that there was no point in increasing non-white representation in Congress if it meant that the party would never again regain power. Obviously, things have turned out quite differently for the Democrats, whose Congressional majority is now as strong as it has been in decades, thanks in part to its robust diversity, and to a growing indifference to race and ethnicity.
It is no coincidence that at the same time, the GOP has shriveled into a more uniform party than at most times since the 1960s. Like a restricted country club that would rather die than change, the Republican Party is marginalizing itself for the sake of the white men who run it. "Barack The Magic Negro" and Palm Beach aryanists are just the more bizarre manifestations of a party that has wallowed for so long in the privileges of its white male supremacy that it does not even realize that everyone has left the plantation, and they are not coming back.
But the whole thing is worth your time. Check it out.
Chip should have been more careful in his selection of Christmas gifts, but no one who knows him would ever suggest that he in any way would purposely disparage other people. Chip knows how sensitive such issues are. It shouldn’t be the main factor in the RNC race.
I mean some of his best friends are Magic Negroes...
The Obama team releases the Blago report, and predictably, there's not much news in it (sorry, Fox News...)
The report was put together by attorney Greg Craig following Blagojevich's arrest for allegedly engaging in a scheme to sell the vacant U.S. Senate seat, as well as other state appointments and services. ...
... Obama, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and his adviser, Valerie Jarrett, all submitted to interviews with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald last week. Craig said neither Jarrett nor David Axelrod, another senior adviser, had any contact with Blagojevich or his office. The report did say that Dr. Eric Whitaker, a close friend of Obama's and a former Blagojevich cabinet member, was approached "by a member of the Governor's circle," deputy Gov. Louanner Peters, for information.
Obama has portrayed himself as taking a hands-off approach to the governor's decision about who to appoint to his Senate seat. In fact, the report noted that he was very much interested in who would succeed him in the Senate.
Once Jarrett said she was not interested in becoming a senator, Obama asked Emanuel to tell the governor that he would support Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., Ill. Comptroller Dan Hynes and Illinois Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth. Later, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cheryl Jackson, a former Blagojevich spokeswoman who heads the Chicago Urban League, were added to the list.
Probably the only new piece of news to come out of the report is that despite the assertions of the Chicago papers, and all the brouhaha those assertions created for "Senate Candidate #5,", Jesse Jackson Jr. WAS on Obama's short list. Oh, and Valerie Jarrett considered the idea of Blago heading HHS to be "ridiculous," which it was, given the games he played with Children's Hospital. I'm sure this won't stop the Roger Simons and Fox News' of the world from continuing to go after Obama on this, but there you go. If you're still exercised after that, read the report online at TPM here.
The right is going overboard to try and tar Barack Obama with the Blago brush. So desperate and tacky are they, that even Newt Gingrich has noticed. As you might expect, the winger cudgel has been taken up by the dutiful GOPer "Morning Joe" Scarborough, who has never let a little journalism job get in the way of his politics.
This morning, Joe harangued Obama chief strategist David Axelrod (a former journalist, just to add to the irony...) on the supposed "fact" that Rahm Emanuel (Obama's chief of staff and former Congressman from the Chicago area) "told (reporter) Ryan Lizza that he and Obama ran Rod Blagojevich's gubernatorial campaign in 2002." Really? Is that what Lizza wrote, Joe? Let's review:
*Lizza reports that Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) told him that Obama was a “top strategist” for Gov. Blagojevich’s first gubernatorial campaign. “He and Obama “participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor,” Emanuel said. “We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two.” A spokesman for Blagojevich confirmed Emanuel’s account, although David Wilhelm, who now works for Obama, said that Emanuel had overstated Obama’s role.”
*The 2000 remap of state senate districts is a critical benchmark in the Obama history. With Democrats in control of the legislature—winning the ability to dictate the maps—Obama in 2001 was able to create a district that stretched from Hyde Park to the Gold Coast. That let him connect with a network of wealthy donors whose support was crucial to his future success
“In the end, Obama’s North Side fund-raising base and his South Side political base were united in one district. He now represented Hyde Park operators like Lois Friedberg-Dobry as well as Gold Coast doyennes like Bettylu Saltzman, and his old South Side street operative Al Kindle as well as his future consultant David Axelrod.”
Rahm "running Blago's campaign?" No, Joe. And as a former politician, Joe knows exactly what those passages mean. Politicians develop a base of operations, which includes donors, and precinct maps that helped them get elected. Often, they use their base to help other politicians from their party to get elected, too. I'm sure the staffers, and the campaign manager, who actually did run Blagojevich's campaign, would differ with Joe's characterization of Obama's role.
Meanwhile, the media continues to ride the Blago gravy train, with more news coming out of Chicago:
Bill Ayers today: not a terrorist so much as a college professor.
Now that one of the ugliest political campaigns in memory is over, Bill Ayers, the man demonized as an "unrepentant terrorist" by John McCain and the Palinites, and turned into a sinister "association" in order to try and bring down Barack Obama (clearly without success) finally speaks for himself in a NYT op-ed. On his actions during the Vietnam war:
... I never killed or injured anyone. I did join the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, and later resisted the draft and was arrested in nonviolent demonstrations. I became a full-time antiwar organizer for Students for a Democratic Society. In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village. The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices — the ones at the Pentagon and the United States Capitol were the most notorious — as an illegal and unpopular war consumed the nation.
The Weather Underground crossed lines of legality, of propriety and perhaps even of common sense. Our effectiveness can be — and still is being — debated. We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism, and the attacks on property, never on people, were meant to respect human life and convey outrage and determination to end the Vietnam war.
Peaceful protests had failed to stop the war. So we issued a screaming response. But it was not terrorism; we were not engaged in a campaign to kill and injure people indiscriminately, spreading fear and suffering for political ends.
I cannot imagine engaging in actions of that kind today. And for the past 40 years, I’ve been teaching and writing about the unique value and potential of every human life, and the need to realize that potential through education.
And on whether or not he "palled around" with Obama:
... The dishonesty of the narrative about Mr. Obama during the campaign went a step further with its assumption that if you can place two people in the same room at the same time, or if you can show that they held a conversation, shared a cup of coffee, took the bus downtown together or had any of a thousand other associations, then you have demonstrated that they share ideas, policies, outlook, influences and, especially, responsibility for each other’s behavior. There is a long and sad history of guilt by association in our political culture, and at crucial times we’ve been unable to rise above it.
President-elect Obama and I sat on a board together; we lived in the same diverse and yet close-knit community; we sometimes passed in the bookstore. We didn’t pal around, and I had nothing to do with his positions. I knew him as well as thousands of others did, and like millions of others, I wish I knew him better.
That enough for you, Palinites? How about you, Hannity? Likely not, but then, the country has demonstrated what use they have for your opinions.
... or did he really make out like a bandit? New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who endorsed Barack Obama at great political and personal risk (those Clintons are pretty scary, man) during a crucial moment in the campaign, went before the press to accept Obama's offer to become his commerce secretary. Only everybody -- and I mean everybody -- knows he really wanted State, the prize that went to his former boss' wife, and the woman whom he had jilted during the campaign.
So if you're Richardson, are you thinking to yourself, "man, did I shave off my cool beard and get called a Judas by James Carville for THIS crappy job?" Or ... you're asking yourself, what is going to be THE focus of the new administration's attention at the start ... foreign policy? Yeah, that'll be there. But the real answer is: it's the economy, stupid. So maybe being commerce secretary won't be so bad ... but I'll still bet he's thinking "damn, the bruja still got the better of me!"
President-elect Barack Obama named Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico as his choice for secretary of commerce on Wednesday, pointedly denying that the job was a “consolation prize” for the two-time cabinet officer who had been considered a candidate for secretary of state.
“Commerce secretary is a pretty good job,” Mr. Obama said, after being asked by a Hispanic reporter about the appointment of Mr. Richardson to a post not considered among the cabinet’s more prestigious or influential.
The president-elect said that his nominee would be dealing with the economy, the most significant issue facing the new administration, and added that “his mixture of diplomatic experience, hands-on experience as governor, experience in the cabinet, experience in Congress, means that he is going to be a key strategist on all the issues that we work on.”
“I think the notion that somehow commerce secretary is not going to be central to everything we do is fundamentally mistaken.”
In addition, Mr. Obama — who has filled about half of his cabinet and White House staff jobs — said that by the time he was done his administration would be seen as among the most diverse ever put together.
Mr. Richardson was the first cabinet nominee to be presented on his own by Mr. Obama rather than as part of a group, which some saw as a gesture of consolation.
And there was another nugget during the presser that hints at why Obama may have thought Richardson, who has been energy secretary, among many other things, right for the particular job he got:
With Mr. Richardson at his side, Mr. Obama underscored his nominee’s capabilities, saying that the governor had the background to help create “green” jobs, support U.S. exports and “start laying the groundwork for long-term prosperity.”
“Bill has seen from just about every angle what makes our economy work and what keeps it from working better,” Mr. Obama said as the two stood on the stage of a Chicago hotel ballroom where the president-elect has spent the last two weeks introducing members of his new team.
And there's the very real fact that the commerce department is going to have to work hand in hand with extranational governments and multinationals, including in the now long-neglected region to our south: Latin America. Richardson is uniquely positioned to get that done.
So maybe it's not such a boobie prize after all, but rather a strategic move on Obama's part, that makes more sense than just giving Richardson the ego boost of heading the State Department.
Next up: Obama will likely soothe the National Latino Congress by tapping Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, either for HUD or for an as-yet unformed "urban czar" position. Diaz spent a lot of time stumping for the campaign, and likely charmed his way into a decent job. Put money on it.
Well, the bird has met its demise (even without Sarah Palin looking on,) the tryptophan has kicked in (I overslept and had to do my radio show by phone this morning, but Roland Martin was great! And those two glasses of wine didn't help!) ... and I'm going to make it through Black Friday without having to tramp through a mall (I refuse. Sorry, kids.) So now, since I've been skipping out on my blogging duties of late, here are ten things I think we can all be thankful for:
#1. Sarah Palin. She brought so much joy and laughter during the campaign, with her kooky vocab and inability to articulate her thoughts in anything resembling adult English. And she put the nail in John McCain's campaign coffin (sorry if that sounds like an age joke,) ensuring, even if he really couldn't have done so anyway,) that he wouldn't win. Thus, Sarah helped spare the country from four more years of Bush-like policies, along with the spectacle of herself playing a Bizarro World, Hilbilly Princess Di to McCain's doddering Charles. You betcha!
#2. John McCain. When he wandered in front of that camera during the town hall style debate, he made my year. Serioiusly. And by so debasing himself during the campaign, McCain has all but ensured that his rehabilitation will involve helping Barack Obama get much of his domestic agenda through the Senate. Thanks, Grandpa! (And thank Joe the Plumber for us when you see him next. Oh, that's right, you're not gonna see him again, because he's irrelevant.)
#3. Steve Schmidt. What a maroon. See #s 1 and 2 above.
#4. Right wing talk radio. Those of us who already thought you were irrelevant blowhards just weren't getting through until you called the Senator from Illinois a terrorist, Marxist Socialist and America elected him anyway. Thanks guys! By the way, Glenn, are you serious about seceding? If so, let me know what the rest of us can do to help you along.
#5. American voters. Well, 52 percent of them, anyway.
$6. Barack Obama. Yes we did.
#7. Tina Fey. See #1 above.
#8. David Letterman. See #2 above.
#9. Fox News. See #4 above. And what will you do at those press conferences now?
and last, but not least...
#10. George W. Bush. No, seriously. Had he not been such a rotten president, we might not be here, on the brink of positive change. And he's been damned funny to listen to over the last eight years, even as he was screwing up the world.
Oh, wait! One more thing! I'm also thankful for this video. Enjoy!
The Alaska governor said in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer that she would be willing to help if Obama asked her for assistance on some of the issues she highlighted during this year's campaign, such as energy or services for special-needs children.
"It would be my honor to assist and support our new president and the new administration," said Palin, whom Sen. John McCain chose as his running mate in August.
"I speak for other Republicans and Republican governors, also," she said.
"They would be willing also to seize this opportunity that we have to progress this nation together, in a united front."
... and talking in the exact opposite manner as she was just talking:
BLITZER: Because, you know, during a campaign, every presidential campaign, things are said, it's tough, as you well know, it gets sometimes pretty fierce out there. And during the campaign, you said this, you said: "This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America."
And then you went on to say: "Someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he is palling around with terrorists who would target their own country."
PALIN: Well, I still am concerned about that association with Bill Ayers. And if anybody still wants to talk about it, I will, because this is an unrepentant domestic terrorist who had campaigned to blow up, to destroy our Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol. That's an association that still bothers me.
And I think it's still fair to talk about it. However the campaign is over. That chapter is closed. Now is the time to move on and to, again, make sure that all of us are doing all that we can to progress this nation.
Hey! Sarah! That thing ... that Wolf handed you there ... it was a SHOVEL. Stop using it!
Barack Obama won 29 states in the November election, but he won something more important: he improved Democrats' performance in all but 22 counties nationwide, among white voters, urban and suburban voters, Catholics, low income and high income voters, and among more educated voters all over the U.S. His remarkable success among a coalition of better educated white voters, Hispanics, African-Americans and young voters not only propelled him to victory, and helped secure 2012 (the demographics are moving even more his way,) his successful campaign marginalized and isolated a region of the country that used to rule it electorally: the American south. The New York Times reports today:
What may have ended on Election Day, though, is the centrality of the South to national politics. By voting so emphatically for Senator John McCain over Mr. Obama — supporting him in some areas in even greater numbers than they did President Bush — voters from Texas to South Carolina and Kentucky may have marginalized their region for some time to come, political experts say.
The region’s absence from Mr. Obama’s winning formula means it “is becoming distinctly less important,” said Wayne Parent, a political scientist at Louisiana State University. “The South has moved from being the center of the political universe to being an outside player in presidential politics.”
Why is that so?
One reason for that is that the South is no longer a solid voting bloc. Along the Atlantic Coast, parts of the “suburban South,” notably Virginia and North Carolina, made history last week in breaking from their Confederate past and supporting Mr. Obama. Those states have experienced an influx of better educated and more prosperous voters in recent years, pointing them in a different political direction than states farther west, like Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and Appalachian sections of Kentucky and Tennessee.
Southern counties that voted more heavily Republican this year than in 2004 tended to be poorer, less educated and whiter, a statistical analysis by The New York Times shows. Mr. Obama won in only 44 counties in the Appalachian belt, a stretch of 410 counties that runs from New York to Mississippi. Many of those counties, rural and isolated, have been less exposed to the diversity, educational achievement and economic progress experienced by more prosperous areas.
Many people in these more rural, less educated and less progressive parts of the South and Appalachia remain deeply suspicious of Obama (they form the core of what I call the Palinites -- anti-Washington, anti-government, anti-big city and anti-intellectual, not to mention anti-not-white...) people like this guy, for instance ... (sorry, Lee County. Just try not to get pulled over if you're a Democrat... or if you have a Middle Eastern sounding name...) But for them, and for the country, that doesn't really matter much anymore, at least not electorally or in terms of the exercise of federal power:
Less than a third of Southern whites voted for Mr. Obama, compared with 43 percent of whites nationally. By leaving the mainstream so decisively, the Deep South and Appalachia will no longer be able to dictate that winning Democrats have Southern accents or adhere to conservative policies on issues like welfare and tax policy, experts say.
That could spell the end of the so-called Southern strategy, the doctrine that took shape under President Richard M. Nixon in which national elections were won by co-opting Southern whites on racial issues. And the Southernization of American politics — which reached its apogee in the 1990s when many Congressional leaders and President Bill Clinton were from the South — appears to have ended.
Florida (along with Virginia and North Carolina, and very nearly Georgia,) managed to escape the hold of the old Confederacy, and emerged as a shaky in parts, but fairly solid, part of the New, Suburban South. That's a good thing for Florida, which along with the North Carolina research triangle, is fighting to be a part of the high tech future, and to gain a foothold as a tech hub for Latin America. It's also good news for moderate Republicans like FL Gov. Charlie Crist, who is no Palinite, and who needs a progressive, moderate coalition to beat back what will surely be an aggressive Democratic challenge for his seat in 2010.
Has the presidential race been analyzed to death yet? Probably. So I'll stop contributing to it. Except to say one last thing. The import of what Barack Obama achieved in this election cannot be overstated, as regards the Demographcs. Take a look at the exit polls (the NYT has a fun gizmo for you to play with on this,) and you find a few startling things:
Barack obama won men, beating McCain by one point: 49%-48%, but beating him nonetheless. That's something no Democrat except Bill Clinton has done in 20 years, and he did it only once, in 1996, when he got 52 percent of male votes. By contrast, John Kerry got just 44 percent of men. Al Gore got 42.
Obama got 43 percent of white votes, more than any Democrat since Clinton, who got just 39 percent in 1992 but tied Obama at 43 percent in 1996.
John McCain got just 4 percent of the black vote; not surprising, given Obama's historic run, but still less than half of George W. Bush's numbers in both his runs, and the only time a Republican has been in single digits since Ronald Reagan got 9 percent of the black vote in 1984.
McCain managed to get just 37 percent of Hispanics, to Obama's 62 percent. This despite pundits' rumblings that Latinos wouldn't support a Black candidate.
Obama dominated among young voters (18-29), winning 66%-32%. He also won voters 30-44 year olds 52%-46%, and tied McCain among those aged 45-59. McCain did win voters over 60, but not by much: 51%-47%.)
For all the scuttle about less educated voters shunning a black candidate, Obama swept all educational categories, and his biggest numbers, 65%, were among those who did not graduate high school.
And for all the GOP's dirty tricks in Florida, Obama got 78 percent of the Jewish vote, matching the trend of Democrats since Bill Clinton got 80 percent in 1992, and improving on John Kerry.
Obama got 54 percent of Catholics. You were saying, Chris Matthews? No, actually I love Chris Matthews, especially this year. Obama's worst showing was with Protestants (45%) and frequent churchgoers (43%) meaning that fewer evangelicals voted their pocketbooks. Unfortunately for the GOP, evangelicals are not a majority. And Obama did better among Protestants than any Democrat since Jimmy Carter -- five points better than Bill Clinton, 10 points better than card-carrying evangelical Jimm Carter in 1980, and 13-points better than Walter Mondale in 1984.
The GOP has lost the big cities. Obama got 70 percent there, continuing a 20 year trend that only reversed itself in 2004, on post-9/11 fears ginned up by Karl Rove's Bush campaign. Obama also won small cities and suburbs with more than 50 percent of the vote, and he did surprisingly well in small towns and rural America, picking up 45 percent of the votes apiece.
What does all of this mean? For one thing, it means that the Republican Party can no longer expect to win national elections on the basis of guns, god and gays, Reaganomics or appeals to racial animus and fear. They have to prove to wide swaths of America, including ethnic swaths, that they can govern well, and not screw up the country. And they have to demonstrate competence and empathy -- two things that have been in woefully short supply in the GOP in recent years. Democrats won the 2008 election the way FDR won in the 1930s: by asking America to look at the failed corporation that is the government, and hire a better CEO. As someone smart said online, evangelicals have 401Ks too.
What an extraordinary day in the life of America. Barack Obama wins, including Florida, Ohio, Colorado (by a comfortable margin), Nevada and even Indiana (Jackie was right!) and becomes our first black president. By the way, I got my Electoral College prediction exactly right at 349 (still waiting on Congress.) And no, Newton, I hadn't bumped my head. :) Of course, I could wind up being wrong, if Obama hangs on and wins North Carolina ... in which case I'd be LOW by 15 points...
There are times when this country shows itself to be much better than the caricature of us that often dominates around the world, especially over the last eight years. This is one of those times. We have passed an incredible Rubicon tonight, on the matter of race, and opportunity, and in the way that children everywhere will think about power and possibilities. We have come full circle from this nation's founding amid the stain of slavery, and found a little glory. And while this victory has special poignancy for African-Americans, it reflects brilliantly on America as a whole. Good for us.
Meanwhile, America rejected an ugly, divisive campaign, led by a man who tonight, conceded with class. John McCain also proved that he can be better than the caricature he created of himself over the last several months. Good for him.
And good for Barack Obama. His campaign proved me wrong more than a few times. Including winning this often odd state. His strategy (and David Plouffe and David Axelrod's and the whole team's) was on point. He was on message. And his way was, in the end, the way to win, and win well.
I watched the returns at an upscale soul food restaurant in Miami Gardens, a city that in many ways reflects the Obama way: up from a tough past, now progressing nicely under new and refreshing leadership in the person of its mayor, Shirley Gibson, and its county commissioner, Barbara Jordan, and a team of city leaders that really care and work hard for a community that can see tangible evidence all around them, of that caring. It was wonderful to be in the presence of so many happy people, and even more wonderful to win. Big up to the campaign, for which I worked at the very end, and to the terrific and dedicated volunteers, and to America. God bless us.
The Senator's beloved grandmother passed today, just one day shy of seeing her grandson, whom she raised, elected president.
UPDATE: Sen. Obama commented on his grandmother's passing:
No matter what happens tomorrow, I'm going to feel good about how it has turned out because all of you have created this remarkable campaign. She is gone home. And she died peacefully in her sleep, with my sister at her side. And so, there is great joy as well as tears. I'm not going to talk about it too long because it is hard, a little, to talk about.
I want everybody to know though a little bit about her. Her name was Madelyn Dunham. And she was born in Kansas in a small town in 1922. Which means she lived through the Great Depression, she lived through two world wars, she watched her husband go off to war, while she looked after her baby and worked on a bomber assembly line. When her husband came back they benefited from the GI bill, they moved west and eventually ended up in Hawaii. She was somebody who was a very humble person, a very plainspoken person. She is one of those quiet heroes we have all across America, who are not famous, their names are not in the newspapers, but each and every day they work hard. They look after their families. They sacrifice for their children, and their grandchildren. They aren't seeking the limelight. All they try to do is do the right thing. And in this crowd, there are a lot of quiet heroes like that, people like that, mothers and fathers and grandparents who have worked hard and sacrificed all their lives and the satisfaction that they get is in seeing their children or maybe their grandchildren or their great-grandchildren live a better life than they did. That is what America is about. That is what we are fighting for.
And while she won't live to see her grandson become president, she did live long enough to vote for him. And it will count.
Ok, I'm going all-in on the predictions. I'm more conservative on this than some, and am calling it as follows:
Obama - 349 McCain - 189
... an electoral landslide by any measure. I give Barack the following pick-ups from Bush 2004:
Virginia Florida Colorado New Mexico Iowa Ohio Indiana Nevada
... and I say he holds New Hampshire for a solid Northeast.
I'm not so sure about Georgia and North Carolina, although if Obama pulls those off, he's at 379, and if he manages to grab Missouri, he's at an astounding 390. One of the volunteers on the campaign in Miami is married to a former Indiana congressman, so her inside take is that Indiana is very winnable. I agree. Missouri is too, I think, based on the primary turnout for Obama and Hillary, but I'm being conservative, as I said. And my prediction is based on two, I think insurmountable factors in Obama's favor: superior voter registration numbers for the Dems, and exceptional early vote turnout, particularly among black voters.
Make your own electoral map here. Get more electoral math here.
As for the House and Senate, I'm going to guess that the Democrats will pick up 10 Senate seats (9 I'm certain of, Georgia is a maybe...):
Alaska - Begich wins, the other guy's a felon.
Colorado - Udall #1 wins
Maine - I like Susan Collins, but she loses
North Carolina - Bye-bye, Liddy Dole! And take that "godless" ad with you!
Minnesota - The Frankin era begins... (and he makes a return visit to "SNL")
New Hampshire - Bye, Sununu, I hear you're a good guy, but this is just that kind of year...
New Mexico - Udall number two, wins
Oregon - Gordon Smith, another decent guy, goes down
Virginia - Mark Warner. Need I say more?
Georgia - I know, I know, but with black turnout? It can happen.
More fun with the congressional match-ups here. See all the races here.
As for the House, I'll go with a nice round number of 28 seats, including pick-ups in Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico and Washington State, to name a few.
I'm not even paying attention to the national polls anymore, even those this one and this one are pretty damned good. It's the state polls that count, and here are a few key polls from Quinnipiac:
No one has been elected President since 1960 without taking two of these three largest swing states in the Electoral College. Results from the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University polls show:
Florida: Obama at 47 percent to McCain's 45 percent, unchanged from October 29;
Ohio: Obama up 50 - 43 percent, compared to 51 - 42 percent last week;
Pennsylvania: Obama ahead 52 - 42 percent, compared to 53 - 41 percent last week.
Things you really don't want, but that you have to say thank you for anyway
To the delight of the Obama campaign, Darth Cheney endorses the McCain-Fey ... er ... Palin ...ticket:
"I believe the right leader for this moment in history is Sen. John McCain," said Cheney, who grew up in Wyoming and represented the state in the U.S. House of Representatives. "John is a man who understands the danger facing America. He's a man who has looked into the face of evil and not flinched."
Cheney also said he was pleased McCain has "chosen a running mate with executive talent, toughness and common sense, our next vice president, Sarah Palin."
Oh, that'l help...
At an appearance Saturday in Pueblo, Colo., Obama used the Cheney endorsement to underscore his charge that McCain represents a continuation of current policies in Washington.
"I'd like to congratulate Senator McCain on this endorsement because he really earned it," Obama said. "That endorsement didn't come easy. Senator McCain had to vote 90 percent of the time with George Bush and Dick Cheney to get it."
And McCain can't pull a grandpa and claim he "doesn't agree" that the endorsement ever happened, cuz it's on the Youtube:
From the pages of the thoroughly un-Socialist London weekly:
Oct 30th 2008 From The Economist print edition
America should take a chance and make Barack Obama the next leader of the free world
T IS impossible to forecast how important any presidency will be. Back in 2000 America stood tall as the undisputed superpower, at peace with a generally admiring world. The main argument was over what to do with the federal government’s huge budget surplus. Nobody foresaw the seismic events of the next eight years. When Americans go to the polls next week the mood will be very different. The United States is unhappy, divided and foundering both at home and abroad. Its self-belief and values are under attack.
For all the shortcomings of the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama offer hope of national redemption. Now America has to choose between them. The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence. But we acknowledge it is a gamble. Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead.
The most damning assessment?
Ironically, given that he first won over so many independents by speaking his mind, the case for Mr McCain comes down to a piece of artifice: vote for him on the assumption that he does not believe a word of what he has been saying. Once he reaches the White House, runs this argument, he will put Mrs Palin back in her box, throw away his unrealistic tax plan and begin negotiations with the Democratic Congress. That is plausible; but it is a long way from the convincing case that Mr McCain could have made. Had he become president in 2000 instead of Mr Bush, the world might have had fewer problems. But this time it is beset by problems, and Mr McCain has not proved that he knows how to deal with them.
The line at the North Dade Regional Library in Miami Gardens stretched onto the sidewalk and around three corners, almost surrounding the building. I wish I could have gotten an aerial shot. Stage two of the line, after the first bend, is pictured above.
One of my biggest frustrations in observing and working in elections in Florida since I moved here in 1997 has been the inconsistency of the black vote, which turned out in great numbers in 2000, only to be so discouraged by the outcome, that the numbers dwindled every election thereafter. This August, the primary election saw county-wide turnout in Miami-Dade and Broward, the biggest Democratic strongholds and largest black voter bases, stall at pathetic 6-10 point rates.
This election has energized black voters (including African-Americans and Caribban-Americans) like nothing I've ever seen. The lines are exaggerated, the people happy to be there. It's an incredible outpouring unlike anything I've ever seen. Ever. It's actually moving, to see so many people pouring their hopes and dreams into this election, and to be even a small part of this history-making event. And make no mistake, the time that folks are spending in line is making a difference:
Through Thursday, Democrats cast 46 percent of the 3.4 million early and absentee votes in Florida, while Republicans cast 38 percent.
That's a big shift since 2004, when Democrats were outvoted 44 percent to 41 percent by Republicans in early and absentee ballots, according to a study of Florida voting data.
The recent Democratic gains have been most pronounced in early voting, where Democrats have outnumbered Republicans by 432,000 out of nearly two million voters.
Black voters have made the difference, accounting for 16 percent of the early and absentee voters so far -- with 86 percent of them registered Democrats. In 2004, black turnout for early and absentee voting was a bit more than 10 percent of the total.
Black turnout has been especially high in the state's urban areas. In Broward County, blacks accounted for 39 percent of all early voters at the polls through Thursday; in Miami-Dade County, it was 30 percent. In Orange County, 30 percent of all voters were black; in Duval County, it was 36 percent.
And it's not just black voters. Hispanic voters are also trending Obama (as are a strong, 40-plus share of urban and suburban white voters). On Hispanics, campaign manager David Plouffe says:
''We're doing very well with Puerto Rican voters, Colombian voters. We're doing, I think, surprisingly well with younger Cuban voters,'' Plouffe said in a conference call with reporters Friday. ``We think we're going to carry the Hispanic vote in Florida if the trend lines continue.''
Dario Moreno, a pollster with Florida International University's Metropolitan Center, said Plouffe's description of the Hispanic voting bloc is in line with a poll released this week showing that Obama leads McCain by 20 percentage points among non-Cuban Hispanics and was slightly ahead among Cuban Americans under 45.
More on the Hispanic vote in Florida here. And another note on the black vote from the NY Times:
Growing up in St. Louis in the 1950s and ’60s, Deddrick Battle came to believe that the political process was not for people like him — a struggling black man whose vote, he was convinced, surely would not count for much of anything. The thought became ingrained as an adult, almost like common sense.
But a month ago, at age 55, Mr. Battle registered to vote for the first time.
“This is huge,” Mr. Battle, a janitor, said after his overnight shift cleaning a movie theater. “This is bigger than life itself. When I was coming up, I always thought they put in who they wanted to put in. I didn’t think my vote mattered. But I don’t think that anymore.”
Across the country, black men and women like Mr. Battle who have long been disaffected, apolitical, discouraged or just plain bored with politics say they have snapped to attention this year, according to dozens of interviews conducted in the last several days in six states. They are people like Percy Matthews of the South Side of Chicago, a 25-year-old who did vote once but whose experience was so forgettable that he cannot recall with certainty whom he cast a ballot for or even what year it was. Now an enthusiastic Democrat, he says the old days are gone.
And Shandell Wilcox, 29, who registered to vote in Jacksonville, Fla., when she was 18, then proceeded to ignore every election other than the current one. She voted for the first time on Wednesday.
Over and again, first-time and relatively new voters like Mr. Matthews and Ms. Wilcox, far past the legal voting age, said they were inspired by the singularity of the 2008 election and the power of Mr. Obama’s magnetism. Many also said they were loath to miss out on their part in writing what could be a new chapter of American history — the chance to vote for a black president.
Of course, the most wonderful thing about the Obama campaign is, to quote Bill Clinton, its diversity. This isn't just a movement of black people, but of Americans of all backgrounds, pulling together for a single goal. The increae in black turnout is simply symbolic of the power of the idea of change, and how it can bring people back into the process no matter how long they've felt alienated from it.
And speaking of the campaign, Deval Patrick came down today, and he visited three polling sites and a church in South Florida. The Massachusetts governor is a very nice guy, very down to earth. He's Harvard class of (no comment,) and we chatted about his living in Dunster House (I was Cabot.) Great guy, and he got to see firsthand the incredibly long lines in predominantly African-American and one Caribbean-centric site.
Gov. Deval Patrick addresses a crowd standing behind stage one of the line at North Dade Library. Pictured here is the part of the line that extended immediately outside the door of the library.
Gov. Patrick (right) waits to speak as Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson addresses the crowd from her crutches. Beside her is Commissioner Barbara Jordan, whose district includes Miami Gardens. Two of the most outstanding politicians, and best women politicians, out there, in my opinion.
The Huffpo was there in the form of a guy named John Hood, who filed this report:
MIAMI--Pulling up to the North Dade Regional Library in the inner city suburb of Miami Gardens for one of Florida's numerous early voter rallies, the first thing that strikes you is the line of early voters itself. Not just any line, mind you, but a line that begins at the library doors, folds in two, covers the parking lot, stretches out to the sidewalk, then snakes around a very large block. We're talking thousands here. Literally. All of whom who've come to exercise their right to vote -
Beyond the length of the line though, what might even be more striking is the excitement, which is as palpable as the sun is hot and high. Picture the biggest block party you can imagine, throw in a neighborhood-sized backyard BBQ, a county fair, and a traveling carnival, and you'll get half the idea of the energy of this rally, as well as the cross-section of those in attendance. Young toughs and dressed-up grannies, college students and their proud parents, single mothers, single fathers, entire families, in collars of blue and white, not only having the time of their lives, but having it on behalf of what all would agree was the most important election of their lifetime.
In the thick of it all is Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, here in town at the request of the presidential candidate himself. People receive Patrick with so much warmth it's almost as if he was their governor, and not someone else's. And in many respects he is, not simply because of race, but because of the bootstraps, but because of the example he's set for everyone. And, of course, because Patrick, like Obama, represents a sea change in America, a sea change that everyone here is a part of. ...
Read the rest here. And now for a little video entertainment:
Gallup's interviewing conducted Wednesday through Friday shows that 27% of registered voters who plan to vote have already voted. The trend in early voting has trended consistently upward on a day to day basis, moving from 7% of registered voters, who had already voted during the period of Oct. 17-19, to the current estimate of 27%. Another 8% of registered voters still indicate that they plan on voting before Election Day itself. The vote choices of these early voters -- all of whom are included in the likely voter pool since they are definite voters -- skew more toward Barack Obama than the sample average. Thus, more and more of these Obama-oriented voters' choices are being "locked in" to the likely voter pool through early voting, benefiting Obama. (To view the complete trend since March 7, 2008, click here.) -- Frank Newport
Meanwhile, poor Matt Drudge engages in some serious wishful thinking with this headline:
Pollster John Zogby:"Is McCain making a move? The three-day average holds steady, but McCain outpolled Obama today, 48% to 47%. He is beginning to cut into Obama's lead among independents, is now leading among blue collar voters, has strengthened his lead among investors and among men, and is walloping Obama among NASCAR voters. Joe the Plumber may get his license after all. "Obama's lead among women declined, and it looks like it is occurring because McCain is solidifying the support of conservative women, which is something we saw last time McCain picked up in the polls. If McCain has a good day tomorrow, we will eliminate Obama's good day three days ago, and we could really see some tightening in this rolling average. But for now, hold on."
Obama is holding his lead in the three day averages, with the exception of fright night, when apparently more Republicans than Democrats were staying at home with their lights off to keep those darned costumed kids off their lawns. Well before you get to excited, Palinites, read the following from Seth Colter Walls:
Zogby has a unique methodology in his polling. He fixes -- or "weights" -- the partisan balance of his respondents, unlike most pollsters. While his admirably transparent and stable practice guarantees a certain methodological sameness from day to day, therefore making any new lead for McCain worth reporting, Zogby's partisan weighting can also raise other questions.
Asked earlier this week what the partisan weighting of their poll currently is, a Zogby aide told the Huffington Post: "Party ID remains at 38 Democratic - 36 Republican - 26 Independent. We have added a point for 18-29 [year old voters], 1.5 for African Americans, and 2 for Hispanics."
Earlier this year, Zogby told me that "party ID is a lead variable, and a major determinant in how people vote. I apply a weight to party ID, and if I see a reason for it to change, I will."
Still, Zogby's two point party ID advantage for Democrats is the smallest of any polling firm. The last four days of the Hotline/Diageo poll show anywhere from a four- to six-point advantage for Democrats -- and a simultaneous seven-point lead for Obama. Gallup's latest surveys indicate that Democrats have an 11-point advantage over Republicans in party ID (including what the firm describes as partisan "leaners").
Zogby's partisan makeup gives even less of a partisan advantage to Democrats than Fox's latest poll, which earned some skepticism, as well.
As for the day-to-day fluctuations in tracking polls, Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz says they are "almost entirely due" to random statistical error, or "noise."
The Barack Obama-Bill Clinton convergence in Kissimmee is airing live now on MSNBC. It's something else. These two men have given about the strongest cross-endorsement by formerly bitter rivals that I've seen in politics (with the exception, of course, of Hillary.) Nice work on both men's parts.
Barack Obama began his closing argument tonight with a one-two-three-four punch. First, he appeared with Bill Clinton this afternoon in Orlando ... second, he traveled down to Broward County to speak to a packed BankAtlantic Center arena (I went to drop off tickets for some media guests at around noon today and there was already a line, including people who clearly looked like they had camped out...) third, he debuted his much-anticipated 30 minuted infomercial, which brilliantly laid out not only his vision, but Obama's most important quality given the metrics of this election: his regular guyness. Obama in the video, and indeed, in real life, was measured, calm, friendly, approachable and even. He was fatherly, intelligent, youthful but not too young, and above all, totally, completely, unswervingly normal. Kind of a black Mr. Rogers (with amber waves of grain and regular people instead of puppets...)
And fourth, the campaign released this hilarious online ad, which reminds us all that the race, though it seems destined to fall into Obama's hands, is not over. Not for six more days. Here's the ad:
Unfortunately, this is some of what has come out of the woodwork during this campaign. Big up to the feds for catching these guys before they bungled their way into something awful.
Good coverage at Hot Air. The Smoking Gun has the criminal complaint against the two men, Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman. Their apparent plan:
Daniel Cowart, 20, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, began discussing the murder plot after meeting online about a month ago. In the ATF affidavit, a copy of which you'll find below, Cowart and Schlesselman "discussed the killing spree to include targeting a predominately African-American school, going state to state while robbing individuals and continuing to kill people." The pair's "final act of violence" would be an attempt to kill Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee. In separate interviews with investigators, the men said that they planned to speed their vehicle toward Obama while "shooting at him from the windows." Apparently befitting the historic assault, Cowart and Schlesselman "stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt." Cowart and Schlesselman were arrested last Wednesday night by Tennessee sheriff's deputies soon after the pair used chalk to write "numerous racially motivated words and symbols," including a swastika, on the exterior of Cowart's automobile.
Luckily, they'll be wearing their tails behind bars.
That's how many turned out in Miami for the rally on Tuesday. I didn't write it up, because while you, dear readers, were enjoying your day, I was spending 12 hours at Bicentennial Park juggling black press events. One kind of cool thing: BET's College Hill dropped by and filmed a segment for the reality show, which will air in January. The College Hill kids did some fundraising and voter registration stuff, so they wanted to film them attending Obama's speech.
The big issue from where I sat during the speech was the crowding, and the complicated logistics. That was unfortunate, but we managed it as best we could. I didn't get to hear much of Obama's speech, which apparently went hard at John McCain, but afterward, we did a press clutch with African-American and Caribbean press, and I got to sit in the audience for Barack's appearance on "Ellen" (due to my poor seating choice, I wound up directly behind him, so no camera time for me! It was fun anyway.)
Apparently, a Hialeah fire chief was arrested for jumping a fence. Who knew? I was loving the Secret Service that day, because not only were they extremely nice and professional, a group of them also found my lost car keys. Can't beat that!
Meanwhile, the polls in the Sunshine state are tightening, and not in a good way.
That's all I've got on that for now. On to the day...
What is wrong with that picture? The McCain number looks about right -- comparable to the numbers he's pulling in the NBC/WSJ and every other poll, including the often loopy Zogby poll. But look at the Obama number: it has dipped not just below 50 percent, but six points under. How? Obama passed the 50 percent threshold weeks ago. What would account for a 6-8 point downward swing? In a word: nothing.
Next up, the poll sample, which way, way overcounts evangelicals. John Aravosis explains:
45% of this poll's respondents are evangelicals or born-again Christians ... The problem? In 2004, evangelicals/born-again Christians made up 23% of voters. But that same group makes up 44% of likely voters in AP's poll released today. That's almost double the number - it's totally implausible.
Pew's findings back that up, with this most comprehensive survey of American religious life putting the percentage of the country that are evangelical Protestants at a much more modest 26.3%.
In other words, the poll is a crock. Disregard it starting ... now.
Sen. Obama will travel to Hawaii to be with his grandmother in Hawaii on Thursday, where she is ill. The prayers of millions of Americans will go with him and his family. Let's hope the wingers manage to have a little class, at least for one day...
I saw this truck in Pembroke Pines this afternoon, and thought it was brilliantly against type:
If you can't see the signs clearly, the one on the left shows a McCain choice leading to the destruction of the earth. A bit over the top, but hell, it's the election end game... The round bumper sticker on the bumper reads "yes we can."
Update: I edited the original image to keep the nuts at bay. Hat tip to Shara.
Can John McCain win without Colorado? Plus: Newsmax buries the lead
In a word ... no. And yet, his campaign is reportedly looking for a way to do so. Meanwhile, none other than Dick Morris releases a new map that shows Obama creaming John McCain, and the good editors at Newsmax manage to completely bury the lead. Their headline?
Um ... would this be a bad time to mention that Morris' map has McCain losing or Obama getting the lean in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio and Virginia, and beating McCain in the Electoral College 355 to 133? Hell, even Arizona is a "toss-up" in Morris' map. I'm thinking it's time to find a new headline writer...
Now is the Time for All Good Men and Women to Come to the Aid of Their Country.
But wait! There's more...
In a world that‘s rushing toward the end times prophecy, God will bless the true Christian leader, if we choose wisely. The Prince of Darkness’ blood runs through the veins of the evil doers.
We have been given the blessing of free will to choose our own path for good or evil. This Presidential election is unlike any we have ever had before. Choose wisely!
Pray for this country and that God gives you the will and wisdom to vote for a leader who has the experience, knowledge and intestinal fortitude to lift these United States up and set it back on the true course of Godliness that it has slipped away from in our homes, schools, churches and, most of all, our government!
The site then quotes a passage from the Book of Luke, and Rev. Samuel Doak, a Presbytarian minister who founded Washington College in Tennessee in the late 1700s. And if you scroll way, way down to the bottom? You finally get the proverbial "reveal"...
You guessed it! This feller's supporting John McCain. You had doubts?
Now, you may be tempted to write this off as just the ravings of yet another kook who's attended one too many Sarah Palin rallies. But I think it's worth looking into who spent good money, in a recession, to buy ads that rave about the end-times, associating Barack Obama with the dark forces of evil, and relating voting for John McCain to scripture. The site's final word:
Consider your children and grandchildren! Their future is in your voting hands. I urge you to vote your heart and conscience.
Vote for Experience and Leadership.
And then it warns ominously:
GOD WILL HAVE THE LAST WORD!
Jeez, I'm scared already. So who is this harbinger of doom? Someone called Wayne Litz, whose address for his electioneering message is in Morristown, Tennessee.
A quick search of campaign contributions finds a scrap metal dealer named Wayne Litz listed as an RNC donor in 2006:
Mr. Wayne Litz (Morristown Shredder Inc./President), (Zip code: 37815) $200 to NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE on 07/20/06
Litz doesn't appear to have a duly registered PAC in Tennessee, so he's apparently spending his own money... and more than $200 of it at that! Anyone who knows anything more about the man, please do share...
Certifications like Check Point Security Administration NGX II Rev 1.1 (156-315), HP2-E13 and 1z0-043 Oracle Database 10g Database has became the standard of skill measurement. IT certifications are now so common that everyone with little knowledge can start preparing certificate course. However, some high level 650-180 SMBE SMB, E20-322 and MCSA/MCSE 70-284 require technical knowledge and skill about the product.
Republicans try to minimize the Powell endorsement as being all about race ... and they fail. First off, Collin Powell is about as racial a character as Mr. Rogers. In fact, the only people who have ever hawked Powell's racial characteristics were Republicans, who have for eight years demanded that black people praise George W. Bush for appointing him and Condi Rice. Powell has managed to stand so far above the racial fray, that before Barack Obama came along, he was considered the non-white person most likely to become president. Now that he has made his decision, Republicans can't try to drop him in the Jesse Jackson juice now.
And yet, Powell (and Obama) are emblematic of an emerging problem for the GOP, as articulated by the very fish-out-of-wateresque Reihan Salam:
Obama embodies a younger, more urban, more ethnic America, the America that is taking shape in our elementary schools. As a born-and-bred Brooklynite, this is my America, and it is one that has been largely absent from our national leadership during the long era of Republican dominance. Though Republicans have struggled mightily to look more like America, Colin Powell and Condi Rice can't change the fact that the GOP has increasingly become the party of evangelical Southern white men. It certainly doesn't help that Powell, a self-described Rockefeller Republican, has just endorsed Obama.
Because I share many of the values of evangelical Southern white men--a love of free enterprise and the movie Red Dawn among them--I feel comfortable in their presence, but I've never been under the illusion that I'm one of them.
Gen. Powell is giving a press conference right now after his "MTP" interview, in which he endorsed Barack Obama, met the press (before it's airtime.) Powell was asked the obligatory "what about your record on the war?" question, and he's talking now about the negativity of the McCain campaign (particularly the Bill Ayers sludge,) and the role that played in his decision. Powell is breaking such orthodoxy china as saying "taxes are necessary for the public good," and he criticized the Bush administration's handling of the war. He said McCain would "follow the orthodoxy of the Republican party" rather than bring change, and said that his endorsement was a look "forward to 2009," rather than backward. Big day for the Obama campaign. So much for Sarah Palin's non-surprise appearance on the lamest "SNL" in weeks perking up that campaign...
... which was going to have a big day anyway, given that it raised a staggereing $150 million last month. Is it too late for McCain to suspend his campaign again?
More uncommitted voters trusted Obama than McCain to make the right decisions about health care. Before the debate, sixty-one percent of uncommitted voters said that they trust Obama on the issue; after, sixty-eight percent said so. Twenty-seven percent trusted McCain to manage health care before the debate; thirty percent said so afterwards.
... more trusted Obama than McCain to make the right decisions about the economy. Before the debate, fifty-four percent of uncommitted voters said that they trust Obama to make the right decisions about the economy; after, sixty-five percent said that. Before, thirty-eight percent trusted McCain to do so, and forty-eight percent did after the debate.
Before the debate, sixty-six percent thought Obama understands voters’ needs and problems; that rose to seventy-six percent after the debate. For McCain, thirty-six percent felt he understands voters’ needs before the debate, and forty-eight percent thought so afterwards.
Who spent more time attacking during the debate? McCain – 80% Obama – 7% And:
The poll also suggested that debate watchers' favorable opinion of Obama rose during the debate, from 63 percent at the start of the debate to 66 percent at the end of the debate. The poll indicates that McCain's favorables dropped, from 51 percent to 49 percent.
Stan Greenberg is briefing reporters on his focus group of undecided voters in Colorado. He said the respondents felt Obama "won" and that the results were "more decisive than either of the last two." That's a reference to Greenberg's previous focus groups, which also came away preferring Obama.
The most striking result came on the favorability ratings. Although the focus group was officially undecided, it leaned towards McCain. Here were the favorability-unfavorability ratings for each candidate at the start:
McCain: 54 favorable / 34 unfavorable
Obama: 42 favorable / 42 unfavorable
Here's what the ratings looked like after the debate:
McCain: 50 favorable / 48 unfavorable
Obama: 72 favorable / 22 unfavorable
Apparently, Obama scored most with his answers on education and parental responsibility, which produced strong "shares my values" ratings.
And last but not least, here's yet another Frank Luntz focus group that put a sag on poor Brit Hume's face. This time, from right here in Miami! Aye, dios mio!
(...except Sarah Palin. He thinks she's a "reformer...")
Perhaps the two dumbest things John McCain did tonight (besides rolling and blinking his eyes like a madman and slurping spit through his clenched teeth throughout the night) were 1) blowing off the Lily Ledbetter "equal pay" question with a quick dismissal (and a pivot back to something he preferred to talk about ... earmarks, maybe?) and 2) his "Dr. Evil" air quotes response to the question of abortion in the case of a threat to a woman's health.
First, the ledbetter answer. It went like this. Obama was talking about what kind of temperament he'd look for in a Supreme Court justice:
I'll just give you one quick example. Sen. McCain and I disagreed recently when the Supreme Court made it more difficult for a woman named Lilly Ledbetter to press her claim for pay discrimination.
For years, she had been getting paid less than a man had been paid for doing the exact same job. And when she brought a suit, saying equal pay for equal work, the judges said, well, you know, it's taken you too long to bring this lawsuit, even though she didn't know about it until fairly recently.
We tried to overturn it in the Senate. I supported that effort to provide better guidance to the courts; John McCain opposed it.
I think that it's important for judges to understand that if a woman is out there trying to raise a family, trying to support her family, and is being treated unfairly, then the court has to stand up, if nobody else will. And that's the kind of judge that I want.
Schieffer: Time's up.
McCain: Obviously, that law waved the statute of limitations, which you could have gone back 20 or 30 years. It was a trial lawyer's dream.
Let me talk to you about an important aspect of this issue. We have to change the culture of America. Those of us who are proudly pro-life understand that. And it's got to be courage and compassion that we show to a young woman who's facing this terribly difficult decision. ...
Way to segue, Mac. Next, on his way to re-cementing the base, again ... on "partial birth abortion," John McCain completely dismisses the seriousness of a woman's health, even in the case where having a baby might kill her. Watch:
That's the kind of callousness toward women that created the gender gap. And it shows a generational dismissiveness toward women that is one reason McCain is going to have one hell of a hard time catching up by November 4th.
John McCain may not intend to do squat for you, but if elected, he'll damn sure look out for Joe. ... the plumber. By the way, it's a great day to have a business called "Joe the Plumber," as this guy will probably tell you tomorrow ... or this guy ... or this guy here ... hey, I wonder if those guys had $250,000 in cash on hand to buy their plumbing businesses like "middle class" Joe? (And am I the only one who wouldn't think it's such a bad idea to "spread the wealth around" -- given that the opposite is "keeping the wealth in the hands of the wealthy and telling everybody else to go screw themselves???") That said, the CNN focus group hated all the "Joe the plumber" shtick. After about the 20th time, it was annoying... But Joe did get his 15 minutes of fame (or was that 90 minutes) ... and he'll always have his Youtube. Gnight Joe!
Hey, wait a second ... something about that Joe seems strangely familiar... could it be ... SHUT UP!!
Joe the plumber ... and those bald guys from the second debate!
Um ... Rev? Sit down for a second. We need to have a talk. ... It's about your role in public life "on behalf of Black America." See, not that we don't appreciate the whole "keep hope alive" thing, which was really cool when those of us in our 30s were kids ... but ... well ... we won't be needing your services anymore. In short: we've decided to "move in a different direction," and have elected to replace "up with hope" with just ... well, hope, plus a belief in ourselves and in this country's ability to rise to the occasion. For that, we won't be needing you. We've got Barack now, and a whole crop of new leaders who plan to change this country for the better, without the baby mama drama.
Oh, and on the whole "Israel" thing? We really don't need to hear from you on that anymore either. You just don't know enough about it, and your credibility on the subject is, how shall we say ... compromised. Besides, all you're doing by making stupid comments about things you know nothing about (such as, Barack Obama's Middle East policy...) is getting that weird old guy's blood up. You're embarrassing your son (again) ... and you're potentially screwing with Florida (which Barack is winning at the moment.) The Obama campaign very quickly set the record straight about you: that you're basically a Lone Ranger barking at the campaign from the outside, but let's not make them have to do it again, shall we? Hey, here's an idea: why not just pretend that whenever you're speaking? Your mike is ALWAYS hot. And then don't talk. Just don't talk ... at all.
So, that's it. And since you're not an adviser to Obama's campaign anyway, it's not like we're firing you or anything. Maybe you could ... I don't know ... take a vacation! I hear Greece is lovely this time of year ... Oh, I know! South Africa! That's far away ... I mean, enjoyable! Anyway, see ya, Rev, and thanks for the memories (except for the bloody shirt thing and the baby mama drama ... those memories we could do without.)
How sick am I of this silly Bill Ayers shtick coming out of the McCain campaign and their new "my friends" on the right? VERY. And yet, I'm writing another post about it...
John McCain went on the radio with a very solicitous talk show host and responded to Barack Obama's "say it to my face" challenge. McCain said that Obama's comments had pretty much ensured he'll bring Ayers up at the next debate (it's kind of a macho thing, apparently.) Please do, Senator. That should be good for another 5 or 6 points for Barack in the polls!
"Bill Ayers is a professor of education who once served with Obama on a school reform board, a board funded by conservative Republicans tied to McCain," says the ad's narrator. "When Ayers committed crimes in the '60s, Obama was 8 years old. Obama condemned those despicable acts. Ayers has had no role in Obama's campaign, and will have no role in his administration."
"And John McCain? With no plan to fix our economy, smears are all he has left," says the narrator.
The ad is airing in Wisconsin, Colorado, and likely other states.
In 1995, Bill Ayers was part of a team that helped create the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an education reform project that worked with half of Chicago's public schools. Barack Obama, then working as an attorney and law school professor, was elected chairman of the eight-member board of the CAC. The board included individuals of diverse political backgrounds, including Ray Romero, the President of Ameritech; Stanley Ikenberry, the former President of the University of Illinois; and Republican Arnold Weber, who had served in the Nixon White House.
In their best efforts to portray Barack as out of the mainstream, some on the right have tried characterizing the Chicago Annenberg Challenge as a dangerous fringe organization. What they do not discuss is the fact that the CAC was funded by a foundation belonging to Walter Annenberg, the billionaire Republican philanthropist who served as Richard M. Nixon's ambassador to the U.K. Annenberg and his wife, Leonore, gave the CAC $50 million in the 90's.
But Walter and Leonore weren't just giving money to educational foundations started by William Ayers. They were also giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Republican National Committee and various other Republican groups, as well as to a whole host of Republican candidates, including the following:
George W. Bush $4000
Mitt Romney $5000
Strom Thurmond $1000
Fred Thompson $500
Rick Santorum $3000
In other words, most of the people "palling around" with this particular terrorist were ... wait for it ... Republicans, and some darned prominent ones, too! Time to send Rick Santorum to Gitmo! (Oh, sorry, did I type that out loud...?) And by the way, guess which terror loving anti-American flag pin hater endorsed John McCain for president earlier this year?
Polls show Obama is ahead in four key swing states: Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, with Colorado being the important turnaround state that went to Bush in 2004.
In Michigan, Obama leads 54-38; in Minnesota, he’s up 51-40; and in Wisconsin respondents went 54-37 for Obama. (The margin of error is roughly plus or minus 3 percentage points in each of the four states.)
Colorado, meanwhile, went for President Bush in 2004. But if this latest number holds, it’s going blue this year. Quinnipiac reports that Obama leads there by 9 points, 52-43. With its nine Electoral College votes, the state is no Virginia, but it’s a big prize nonetheless, one that would by itself put Obama almost over the top if he holds Kerry’s states and adds Iowa — which polls indicate he will — to his column.
This comes on top of the latest ABC/WaPo poll which shows Obama up by 10 points, and ahead in every measure of leadership including taxes, for god sakes, the Iraq war, and "an unexpected crisis" -- everything except for terrorism, where McCain leads by 6 points. I refer you to question number 9:
9. (ASKED OF REGISTERED VOTERS) Regardless of who you may support, who do you trust more to handle [ITEM] - (Obama) or (McCain)?
10/11/08 - Summary Table* Both Neither No Obama McCain (vol.) (vol.) opinion a. The economy 53 37 1 7 2 b. Helping the middle class 59 31 1 6 2 c. The war in Iraq 48 47 1 4 1 d. Taxes 52 41 1 5 2 e. Protecting the Social Security system 51 34 2 9 4 f. The U.S. campaign against terrorism 43 49 2 4 3 g. Health care 59 30 1 6 4 h. An unexpected major crisis 48 45 2 4 1
Meanwhile, a Politico poll finds that Obama is ahead in 3 out of 4 "bellweather" counties that went for Bush in 2004:
In Washoe County, near Reno, Nev., Obama leads McCain 46 percent to 45 percent , with 6 percent undecided. Obama posts a wider 50 percent-44 percent lead with 5 percent undecided in Raleigh, North Carolina's Wake County, and another 6 point lead in Hillsborough County, Fla., where Tampa is located. There, he edges McCain 47 percent to 41 percent, with 11 percent undecided.
Among the four counties tested, McCain leads in only one: Jefferson County, Colo., a populous Denver suburb. McCain is ahead there by a margin of 45 percent to 43 percent, with 8 percent undecided.
At first glance, these Politico/InsiderAdvantage numbers might not look so troubling for McCain, who trailed Obama by 10 points in an ABC/Washington Post national survey, released Monday.
But these four counties are crucial battlegrounds in four of the most competitive states in the presidential race. In recent years, the Republican path to the White House has run through these areas.
And that, my friends, is called "burying the lead."
Probably the most damning op-ed yet on McCain's dishonorable campaign. Wonder if this is the kind of thing that made the "maverick" blink:
John McCain: In 2000, as a lifelong Republican, I worked to get you elected instead of George W. Bush. In return, you wrote an endorsement of one of my books about military service. You seemed to be a man who put principle ahead of mere political gain.
You have changed. You have a choice: Go down in history as a decent senator and an honorable military man with many successes, or go down in history as the latest abettor of right-wing extremist hate.
John McCain, you are no fool, and you understand the depths of hatred that surround the issue of race in this country. You also know that, post-9/11, to call someone a friend of a terrorist is a very serious matter. You also know we are a bitterly divided country on many other issues. You know that, sadly, in America, violence is always just a moment away. You know that there are plenty of crazy people out there.
Stop! Think! Your rallies are beginning to look, sound, feel and smell like lynch mobs.
John McCain, you're walking a perilous line. If you do not stand up for all that is good in America and declare that Senator Obama is a patriot, fit for office, and denounce your hate-filled supporters when they scream out "Terrorist" or "Kill him," history will hold you responsible for all that follows.
John McCain and Sarah Palin, you are playing with fire, and you know it. You are unleashing the monster of American hatred and prejudice, to the peril of all of us. You are doing this in wartime. You are doing this as our economy collapses. You are doing this in a country with a history of assassinations.
Change the atmosphere of your campaign. Talk about the issues at hand. Make your case. But stop stirring up the lunatic fringe of haters, or risk suffering the judgment of history and the loathing of the American people - forever.
McCain made a start in returning to sanity today, briefly... but then, his campaign started issuing statements like this:
McCain senior adviser Nicolle Wallace released this statement, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports. "Barack Obama's assault on our supporters is insulting and unsurprising. These are the same people obama called 'bitter' and attacked for 'clinging to guns' and faith. He fails to understand that people are angry at corrupt practices in Washington and Wall Street and he fails to understand that America's working families are not 'clinging' to anything other than the sincere hope that Washington will be reformed from top to bottom."
"Attacking our supporters is a new low for the campaign that's run more millions of dollars of negative ads than any other in history."
*** UPDATE *** McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers adds in another statement: “Barack Obama’s attacks on Americans who support John McCain reveal far more about him than they do about John McCain. It is clear that Barack Obama just doesn’t understand regular people and the issues they care about. He dismisses hardworking middle class Americans as clinging to guns and religion, while at the same time attacking average Americans at McCain rallies who are angry at Washington, Wall Street and the status quo."
So what's it gonna be, John?
UPDATE: This is what it's gonna be. The McCain campaign is now broadening it's Ayers attack ... to Michelle.
(TPM Election Central) -- The McCain campaign is now broadening their attack on Obama's past association with William Ayers to include Michelle Obama -- even though McCain has repeatedly said spouses should be off limits during the campaign.
The attack? Bernardine Dohrn, Ayers' wife and fellow former Weatherman, went to work in 1984 for the major Chicago-based national law firm of Sidley & Austin, and three years later, Michelle joined the mega-firm as well.
That's the entire attack. We wish we were joking. But we aren't.
In launching this latest, McCain is ditching yet another formerly-claimed principle as he faces the growing likelihood of defeat. In a statement back in June, the McCain campaign said: "Senator McCain agrees with Senator Obama that spouses should not be an issue in this campaign, and he has stated that position frequently."
The attack on Michelle came on a McCain conference call with reporters this afternoon featuring John Murtagh, who has been hitting Obama over the Weather Underground's attack on his family's home back in 1970. Murtagh noted that Dohrn and Michelle Obama had both worked at the firm starting in the late 1980s.
Murtagh didn't even bother alleging that the two even knew each other, instead suggesting that they might have. If so, he said, the Obamas have known the two longer than suspected.
"If it is true" that the two women knew each other, Murtagh said, "the relationship is almost a decade older than Senator Obama has acknowledged. And that can very easily be resolved by Senator Obama, by Mrs. Obama, by Mr. Ayers and by Ms. Dohrn."
"And incidentally, I would emphasize that we've all been focusing on Senator Obama," said Murtagh. "I think we need to speak to his wife."
My article about Barack Obama's healthcare plan and how it could impact African-Americans is up and running. And now for a highly intellectual response courtesy of somebody called NorthernDog at Lucianne.com, who said this to me via email:
Rather than bling, KFC, IPods, and 200 dollar Jordans sneakers, why don't blacks buy their OWN health insurance instead of being parasites on the backs of everyone else? Just "axing". JCH
Isn't that brilliant? Read some of the winger commentary here, by people apparently too stupid to figure out that Obama's plan ISN'T JUST FOR BLACK PEOPLE ... (sigh. Are there any smart people over there on the right???) The original article can be found here.
The Dow keeps plummeting, (below 8,000 -- losing nearly half its value this year...) along with the global markets. It's a crisis that it seems no entity, no agency of government can stop. General Motors' stock fell below FIVE DOLLARS for the first time in 60 years. FIVE... Jesus... analysts are projecting that the big three U.S. auto makers cannot all survive. At least one will go away completely, or be absorbed by another company... President Bush is making noises about doing something, but honestly, events have overtaken him, and everybody else... World finance chefs are holding an emergency meeting. Good luck with that.
BTW one astute blogger posted a chart plotting McCain's poll numbers against the S&P 500.
Fascinating. Clearly, this guy is going to need more than Bill Ayers to get back into the race. Or not:
As Pollster’s Steve Lombardo says, “The economic situation has virtually ended John McCain’s presidential aspirations and no amount of tactical maneuvering in the final 29 days is likely to change that equation.”
Meanwhile, Barack Obama slams McCain for "stoking anger and division" at a time like this ... Italy's Silvio Berlusconi walks back from his suggestion that world markets simply be closed.
"I am surprised that, you know, we've been seeing some pretty over-the-top attacks coming out of the McCain campaign over the last several days, that he wasn't willing to say it to my face. But I guess we've got one last debate. So presumably, if he ends up feeling that he needs to, he will raise it during the debate."
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is out with its 2008 Congressional Report Card, and the news for our most prominent veteran at the moment, John Sydney McCain III, isn't good. McCain gets a "D" from the IAVA. That would be the letter immediately after the letter "C," which, incidently, is what Mac's fellow Arizona Sen. John Kyl got.
The scoring was based on the Senators' votes on a number of bills important to veterans, including:
A 2007 bill funding veterans' healthcare
A March 2007 bill funding so-called MRAPS ("mine resistent ambush protected" vehicles for use in Iraq and Afghanistan
A 2008 vets' healthcare funding bill
October 2007 legislation added to the National Defense Authorization Act that expanded veterans' opportunities to seek VA healthcare and for Guardsmen and Reservists to keep education benefits after separating from the military.
An April 2008 bill to improve so-called "adaptive housing" for disabled veterans
A move in may of this year to stop the second rate G.I. bill being pushed by Miss Lindsey Graham to try and kill Jim Webb's stronger benefits bill
The "Post 9/11 G.I. Bill" improving veterans' education benefits
The second vote on the G.I. Bill that passed with an emergency supplemental for Iraq war funding in June of this year
And the final phase of passage of the 21st Century G.I. Bill (Webb version, which McCain opposed.)
McCain declined to become a co-sponsor of the Webb G.I. Bill, despite entreaties from friends of his in the Senate including Chuck Hagel. His low score also stems from the fact that he was absent for 6 of the 9 votes. (Kyle was there every time, but he voted against veterans benefits four out of nine times, including against the enhanced G.I. Bill).
As for Barack Obama? He receied a "B" from the IAVA. The Illinois Senator signed on as a co-sponsor of the G.I. Bill, and voted with veterans all but the four times he was absent from the chamber.
Michelle Obama was as cool, calm and collected as her husband tonight on Larry King. And she and Larry were so matchy-matchy with the purple outfits! She was gracious to Hillary Clinton, and even to Sarah Palin and the newest John McCain female pit bull: his wife Cindy, who have been relentlessly attacking the Obamas. Honestly, I don't know if I could be that nice. Here it is:
I never cease to be impressed with how thoroughly the Obama's debunk, with just their personalities, the wild rumors and caricatures of them that are painted by the eye bulging, bile spitting right. They are a class act.
The Secret Service is now investigating the infamous "kill him!" remark hurled at a Sarah Palin rally here in Florida this week, which has so far been a crescendo of pretty scary crowd reactions to insinuations by Palin that Barack Obama -- who I might remind you is a sitting U.S. Senator, and one of those colleagues John McCain supposedly would "reach across the aisle" to work with as president -- is essentially a terrorist (or terrorist sympathier) -- allegations Joe Biden is calling "mildly dangerous" (to put it mildly.)
Apparently, agents at the rally site didn't hear the remark, but people in the crowd did, as Dana Milbank reported in the WaPo. Some people, myself included, are now warning McCain that his campaign is playing with fire, and possibly even endangering Obama's life. There are real nuts out there, some of whom are being whipped into a frenzy of racist and xenophobic hatred against Obama even before Sarah P started aligning him with terrorists. Remember those screwballs in Denver? Well even a screwball can change the world, as Lee Harvey Oswald proved in 1963.
Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan puts it bluntly: "they know what they're doing."
Could John McCain have looked any older, any more doddering, or any more like the neighborhood crank than he did in tonight's debate? (Transcript) The Arizona Senator wandered around the stage erratically, told oddball jokes (about hair plugs, and responded to Tom Brokaw's question about who he'd pick as treasury secretary with "not you," and didn't get a laugh either time...) stammered over both Obama and the moderator that if Obama got a follow up, doggone it he wanted one too, did an impression of George H.W. Bush with that geezery "steady hand on the tiller" line, and incredibly, referred to Obama in the way an old codger might have referred to his black house boy back in the 1950s; calling him "that one." (video)
McCain was very aggressive -- he seemed to get almost too close to the audience at times, and he kept doing that weird combination of "my friends" and, as Chris Matthews put it, that creepy, menacing smile. He was also condescending, taking for granted that an African-American questioner wouldn't know what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were. And he dropped the ball on his signature POW schtick, referring to it so obliquely, it sounded like he was losing his train of thought.
Perhaps McCain's only two solid moments, were the one early in the debate when he suggested that the Treasury buy up bad mortgages -- something any good Democrat might find tempting. Of course, such an idea is exactly the opposite of conservatism, and therefore will strike much of his base as a steaming pile of socialism, and the moment when he shook hands with a questioner who was a fellow Navy man, saying "everything important I ever learned, I learned from a midshipman."
But everything else tonight went Obama's way. He was languid, calm, warm and presidential. He spoke to voters in terms that screamed "kitchen table" (i.e., we have to prioritize in Washington the way families do...) He walked over to the questioner, found a mark, and stuck to it, where McCain wandered around the stage so frenetically, a friend of mine texted me and asked what was wrong with his legs. He shut McCain down twice with authority: once when he said, "McCain keeps saying I don't understand. ... You're right, I don't understand how we got sidetracked from going after Bin Laden and went into Iraq instead," and when he slammed McCain, who had just done a soliloquy on "speaking softly and carrying a big stick," by reminding the audience that McCain is the guy who sung "bomb bomb bomb Iran," called for the annihilation of North Korea and before we finished in Afghanistan, said "next stop: Baghdad." And his call for AIG to give back the $400,000 in bailout money they spent on a luxury junket and fire their executives hit the mark.
And Obama got the question on healthcare right: McCain called it a "responsibility" and Obama said it's a "right," and very affectingly talked about his mother's experience at the end of her life.
Obama also won the aftermath -- he and Michelle stuck around and worked the room for a long time, talking with the undecided voters who made up the audience in the debate, and taking lots of pictures (including with the brother in the goldenrod colored suit who I suspect wasn't really undecided, seeking out the Navy veteran, while McCain was in such a hurry to get out of the room, he actually walked in front of the camera, and Tom Brokaw -- blocking the shot in a most erratic, old man wandering around the neighborhood off his meds kind of way... (video)
The post-debate polls are as follows:
Who won the debate? Obama - 54% McCain - 30%
Who was more likable? Obama - 65% McCain - 28%
Who seemed more like a typical politician? McCain - 52% Obama - 36%
Who spent more time attacking his opponent? McCain - 63% Obama - 17%
Thirty-nine percent of the 400 uncommitted voters surveyed identified Barack Obama as tonight's winner; 27 percent said John McCain won, while 35 percent saw the debate as a draw.
After the debate, 68 percent of uncommitted voters said that they think Obama will make the right decisions on the economy, compared to 54 percent who said that before the debate. Fewer thought McCain would do so – 49 percent after the debate, and 41 percent before.
Before the debate, 60 percent thought Obama understands voters’ needs and problems; that rose to 80 percent after the debate. For McCain, 35 percent felt he understands voters’ needs before the debate, and 46 percent thought so afterwards.
McCain did win the question of who is more ready to be president. But I think you can ask Hillary Clinton how far "ready on day one" gets you with voters scared about their 401Ks.
Taegan Goddard (with an extra zinger for the oddly old guy seeming Tom Brokaw, too...)
Tonight's debate wasn't even close. Sen. Barack Obama ran away with it -- particularly when speaking about the economy and health care. Talking about his mother's death from cancer was very powerful. On nearly every issue, Obama was more substantive, showed more compassion and was more presidential.
... Tom Brokaw was terrible as moderator. His fixation with the rules -- particularly when the candidates were not complaining -- was distracting and a disservice to everyone. The format didn't work very well, but Brokaw made it worse.
This was, I think, a mauling: a devastating and possibly electorally fatal debate for McCain... I've watched a lot of debates and participated in many. I love debate and was trained as a boy in the British system to be a debater. I debated dozens of times at Oxofrd. All I can say is that, simply on terms of substance, clarity, empathy, style and authority, this has not just been an Obama victory. It has been a wipe-out. It has been about as big a wipe-out as I can remember in a presidential debate. It reminds me of the 1992 Clinton-Perot-Bush debate. I don't really see how the McCain campaign survives this.
We have a disaster here — which is what you should expect when you delegate a non-conservative to make the conservative (nay, the American) case. We can parse it eight ways to Sunday, but I think the commentary is missing the big picture.
Here's what Obama needed to do tonight: Convince the country that he was an utterly safe, conventional, centrist politician who may have leftward leanings but will do the right thing when the crunch comes.
Now, as the night went along, did you get the impression that Obama comes from the radical Left? Did you sense that he funded Leftist causes to the tune of tens of millions of dollars? Would you have guessed that he's pals with a guy who brags about bombing the Pentagon? Would you have guessed that he helped underwrite raging anti-Semites? Would you come away thinking, "Gee, he's proposing to transfer nearly a trillion dollars of wealth to third-world dictators through the UN"?
Nope. McCain didn't want to go there. So Obama comes off as just your average Center-Left politician. Gonna raise your taxes a little, gonna negotiate reasonably with America's enemies; gonna rely on our very talented federal courts to fight terrorists and solve most of America's problems; gonna legalize millions of hard-working illegal immigrants. ....
... Memo to McCain Campaign: Someone is either a terrorist sympathizer or he isn't; someone is either disqualified as a terrorist sympathizer or he's qualified for public office. You helped portray Obama as a clearly qualified presidential candidate who would fight terrorists.
If that's what the public thinks, good luck trying to win this thing.
Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard -- here's the opening and closing paragraphs:
John McCain had a very strong debate tonight. It’s too bad for him that it came on a night when Barack Obama was nearly flawless.
... Obama’s test in the first debate was to present himself as a plausible president, as a guy who didn’t seem out of place on stage at a presidential debate and wouldn’t seem out of place delivering a State of the Union address. Much as I’d disagree with the policies in such a speech, it was clear that he passed that test. Tonight, his job was to persuade voters – particularly independents – not only that he could be president but that he should be president. I suspect polling in the next couple of days will provide evidence that he passed that test, too.
I thought that Barack Obama won the “visuals” of tonight’s debate. He looked younger and more vigorous, of course, but, in addition, John McCain did too much moving around. He seemed focused on addressing a “town hall,” as he has done so well over the years. But in reality, as Obama seemed quicker to appreciate, the audience tonight was in television land. To them, McCain’s movement must have seemed a bit aimless.
... A win on the visuals and at least a draw on substance (if that’s a fair assessment) is a win for Obama at this point. So tonight he moves a little closer to the presidency. I continue to believe that voters will subject him to one more round of serious scrutiny when the debates are over. Tonight’s performance marginally enhances his chance of surviving that scrutiny, which was already pretty good.
Oh, and Obama also won Frank Luntz's Fox News focus group, too, which prompted Brit Hume to make the most undertakery, deadpan facial expression he may have ever produced for a television camera. Hilarious.
The economic crisis demands that we understand John McCain's attitudes about economic oversight and corporate influence in federal regulation. Nothing illustrates the danger of his approach more clearly than his central role in the savings and loan scandal of the late '80s and early '90s.
The bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee launched investigations and formally reprimanded Senator McCain for his role in the scandal -- the first such Senator to receive a major party nomination for president.
John McCain was accused of improperly aiding his political patron, Charles Keating, chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. At the heart of the scandal was Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which took advantage of deregulation in the 1980s to make risky investments with its depositors' money. McCain intervened on behalf of Charles Keating with federal regulators tasked with preventing banking fraud, and championed legislation to delay regulation of the savings and loan industry -- actions that allowed Keating to continue his fraud at an incredible cost to taxpayers.
When the savings and loan industry collapsed, Keating's failed company put taxpayers on the hook for $3.4 billion and more than 20,000 Americans lost their savings. John McCain was reprimanded by the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee, but the ultimate cost of the crisis to American taxpayers reached more than $120 billion.
The Keating scandal is eerily similar to today's credit crisis, where a lack of regulation and cozy relationships between the financial industry and Congress has allowed banks to make risky loans and profit by bending the rules. And in both cases, John McCain's judgment and values have placed him on the wrong side of history.
It's something we nervous Democrats almost don't dare say out loud, but what if ... gulp ... the 2008 election is already over, and the sputtering fury of the McCain campaign is just the last, angry, desperate gasps of a campaign no Republican could win? Consider this by commentrator ... I mean Fox News analyst, Howard Wolfson:
Perpetually fretting Democrats will not want to accept it. The campaigns themselves can't afford to believe it. Many journalists know it but can't say it. And there will certainly be some twists and turns along the way. But take it to a well capitalized bank: Bill Ayers isn't going to save John McCain. The race is over.
John McCain's candidacy is as much a casualty of Wall Street as Lehman or Merrill. Like those once vibrant institutions, McCain's collapse was stunning and quick. One minute you are a well-respected brand. The next you are yelling at the messengers of your demise as all around you the numbers start blinking red and stop adding up.
McCain's road was difficult to begin with: the President of his party has had record-low approval ratings for two years and the number of Americans who say the country is heading in the wrong direction is stratospheric. He also had the misfortune to be pitted against an exceptional candidate running an extremely well-executed campaign.
Still, before Wall Street's collapse Senator McCain was ahead. His approval ratings remained high, his VP pick had generated excitement and interest, and his campaign operatives were capable, on any given day, of winning news cycles and giving their opponents fits. And then the underpinnings of American capitalism begin to sink -- and with them sunk McCain.
An election dominated at its inception by the war in Iraq is now overwhelmingly focused on the economy. More than half of voters in polls say that the economy is their top concern and Senator Obama enjoys double digit leads among voters asked who can better fix our economic mess. Put simply, there is no way Senator McCain can win if he continues to trail Senator Obama by double digits on the top concern of more than half of voters.
Wolfson also says McCain's nasty tactics may help him with right wingers on the margins, but that most voters couldn't give a damn about William Ayers (Mike Murphy said the same thing over the weekend on "Meet the Press.") And he concludes:
Republican philosophies have been discredited by events. Voters understand this. This is a big election about big issues. McCain's smallball will not work. This race will not be decided by lipsticked pigs. And John McCain can not escape that reality. The only unknowns are the size of the margin and the breadth of the Democratic advantage in the next Congress.
From the beginning, there were two ways the McCain could use Sarah Palin: as the feel good face of an otherwise brittle, old mannish campaign, or as McCain's attack dog -- literally, his pit bull with lipstick. After last week's conference call in which the McCain campaign admitted it was about to go nuclear on Barack Obama, I think it's fair to say they've taken door number two...
CARSON, Calif., (AP) — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Saturday accused Democrat Barack Obama of "palling around with terrorists" because of an association with a former '60s radical, a harsh attack on his character that she repeated at three separate campaign events without substantiation.
Palin's reference was to Bill Ayers, one of the founders of the group the Weather Underground. Its members were blamed for several bombings, including a pipe bomb in San Francisco that killed a police officer and injured another. Obama, who was a child when the group was active, has denounced Ayers' radical views and activities.
While it is known that Obama and Ayers live in the same Chicago neighborhood, served on a charity board together and had a fleeting political connection, there is no evidence that they ever palled around. And it's simply wrong to suggest that they were associated while Ayers was committing terrorist acts.
Nonetheless, Palin made the comments at three appearances in separate states.
"Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country," said told donors at a private airport in Englewood, Colo. Palin echoed the line later in Carson, Calif., and Costa Mesa, Calif.
Falling behind Obama in polls, the Republican campaign plans to make attacks on Obama's character a centerpiece of candidate John McCain's message in the final weeks of the presidential race. Coming late in the campaign, Palin's remark could be particularly incendiary, either backfiring on McCain or knocking Obama off his focus on the troubled economy — or both.
On that question, I'm choosing door number one...
By the by, the Obama campaign isn't just sitting around waiting to get doused in slime. They go up tomorrow with a new add calling McCain "erratic in a crisis." Politico, perhaps locking the Palin-loving Roger Simon in a closet, previews the coming war games:
Obama officials call it political jujitsu – turning the attacks back on the attacker.
McCain officials had said early in the weekend that they plan to begin advertising after Tuesday’s debate that will tie Obama to convicted money launderer Tony Rezko and former Weathermen radical William Ayers.
But Obama isn’t waiting to respond. His campaign is going up Monday on national cable stations with a scathing ad saying: “Three quarters of a million jobs lost this year. Our financial system in turmoil. And John McCain? Erratic in a crisis. Out of touch on the economy. No wonder his campaign wants to change the subject.
“Turn the page on the financial crisis by launching dishonorable, dishonest ‘assaults’ against Barack Obama. Struggling families can't turn the page on this economy, and we can't afford another president who is this out of touch.”
Then Obama says: “I'm Barack Obama and I approved this message.”
McCain officials told Politico that the new offensive is likely to focus on Rezko and Ayers. The officials said the campaign will not bring up the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor, because McCain has forbade them from using that as a weapon. Without being specific, the officials said outside groups may focus on Wright.
Meanwhile, both the NY Times and the Wapo expound on the cause of Team McCain's desperation: the map ... the dreaded, awful, shrinking map. (By the way, I'm not sure how confident I am in Rasmussen, but if this poll is correct, and Obama is pulling away in Nevada, this race is over.)
In tonight's debate, Sarah Palin delivered 90 minutes of word salad. She was like a "talking points shooter" you'd purchase on one of those cable infomercials, growing wide eyed and automatic while churning out whatever was locked in her memory banks regardless of whether the verbal lettuce and cucumbers flying out had any relationship to the question being asked. The theme of the night could have been, "and now, for something completely different." Shouldn't you wait for the moderator to ask you about energy before you start spouting off about it?
In 90 minutes, and a blizzard of non-sequitors, I'm honestly not sure the woman directly answered a single question. Gwen Ifill didn't even need to be there! Asked about A, she answered about tomatoes. Asked about B, she declared that she wasn't going to answer the question at all. She was folksy to the point of being a Clampett. But would you elect Ellie Mae president?
Clearly, Gov. Palin was coached to the hilt, crammed with information (some of it off key, like General "McClellan", the non-existent military general in charge of Afghanistan, or the dangerous announcement that a McCain Palin administration would be moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem) to help her get through the evening. But she spit out those memorized talking points like she was anxious to pump them out of her brain before they dissolved. How many times did she say "Ahmadinejad," exactly? Joe Biden, several times, had to keep from visibly laughing out loud!
This is the woman who wants to not only be a cancer recurrence away from the presidency, but who also would like to expand the powers of the vice presidency beyond with Dick Cheney has done??? What's she going to use her newfangled powers for? To blather the Congress into submission on drilling?
On a factual level, Palin declined to defend John McCain's policies, particularly on tax cuts for the wealthy, or on his healthcare plan which would tax health benefits for the first time in history. Instead of defending the assertions made about McCain, she simply launched into her word fusilade and pretended the question never happened. Stunning.
For his part, Biden was coherent, adult, and presidential. That, frankly, is all he had to be. And his personal story about his first wife and sons was moving. His closing was terrific.
The media will pat her on the back because she didn't drool or stare off into space. Expect that. But make no mistake, Sarah Palin didn't help herself tonight with anyone who wasn't already voting for John McCain.
The Republican National Committee held a conference call for reporters today featuring their chief counsel, Sean Cairncross, and communications director Danny Diaz, to discuss what they billed as "recent developments in Wisconsin regarding ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now."
ACORN, which was founded by a group of mothers in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1970, has been a favorite whipping boy of the right for many years -- they do irritating things like push for low income housing, helping those icky poor people and registering minorities to vote. As in every election cycle in recent memory, the charge on this call was that ACORN is hiring convicted felons to register people to vote. And while Cairncross couldn't cite a single instance where either an ACORN-registered voter voted illegally, or where a felonious ACORN worker committed identity theft againt a registrant, he said the "worry" of those things is there. Okay, but so is the worry that the earth will be wiped out by an asteroid.
The impetus for the call was this AP story on ACORN's use of felons in Wisconsin. Cairncross said WI felons working for acorn were designated as “special registration deputies," giving them "the power to collect and hold voter registration applications from individuals they were soliciting information from." He said that in the past, ACORN has "dumped thousands of registrations on supervisors of elections" close to election day, meaning that ... they're ... effective felons? And a line in the AP story kind of killed the buzz of the call for me:
State law says anyone who is able to vote can be a special registration deputy. Felons can vote as long as they are no longer on probation or parole.
Oh. So they're not doing anything illegal ... are they? Said Cairncross:
“I'm not making a charge here, I’m raising the point that ACORN has once again used their judgment to use felons to gather information and hold onto those voter registration cards.”
Um. ... okay. The call also floated a theme I've heard often from my GOP friends: that ACORN and Obama are intertwined like white and rice -- or black and rice? Diaz said Obama has funneled more than $800,000 to ACORN for voter registration activities, a figure Cairncross later raised to "over $1.5 million." I'm waiting for confirmation from Team Obama. What's troubling about the constant ACORN drumbeat is the tendency of critics to wander into dangerously racial territory, and what looks for all the world like an attempt to "niggerize" and criminalize Barack Obama by casting ACORN in the light of the legendary "welfare queen." To be fair, in response to a reporter's question about allegations that the McCain campaign in Wisconsin had yet to respond to allegations they sent Democrats absentee ballot applications with the wrong return addresses on them, Cairncross and Diaz emphasized that "both the campaign and the RNC are trying as best we can to bring as many new voters into this process as possible and believe that newly registered voters will vote for us."
Uh ... whatever you say. But I still wondered if the point of the call was to get members of the media to pursue what would be a decidedly race-angled story on Obama, even though there is no evidence that even if ACORN is up to something horrible, Obama is part of it. My experience is that the Obama campaign is incredibly self-contained. They don't use outside consultants or groups to do voter registration, because they have about a bazillion volunteers doing just that, and doing it "the Obama way." Why would they outsource?
Among John McCain's many problems (and perhaps an under-reported reason why he was so ineffective at moving the bailout bill along when he swooped into the Capitol "like Mighty Mouse" last week) ... is his personality, which according to Washington reporters and even his present and former Senate colleagues, falls somewhere between Norma Desmond and Attila the Hun. McCain's McNastiness was on display again yesterday, when he shooed away a Politico reporter following his vote for the pork ... I mean "rescue" bill ... and also, apparently, inside the Senate chamber. Per CQ Politics, when the two made their joint appearance on the Senate floor, it was Obama who made the first move:
As the two shared the Senate floor tonight for the first time since they won their party nominations, Obama stood chatting with Democrats on his side of the aisle, and McCain stood on the Republican side of the aisle.
So Obama crossed over into enemy territory.
He walked over to where McCain was chatting with Republican Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida and Independent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut. And he stretched out his arm and offered his hand to McCain.
McCain shook it, but with a “go away” look that no one could miss. He tried his best not to even look at Obama.
Finally, with a tight smile, McCain managed a greeting: “Good to see you.”
Obama got the message. He shook hands with Martinez and Lieberman — both of whom greeted him more warmly — and quickly beat a retreat back to the Democratic side.
Message to Obama: I hate you. Recall that McCain delivered the same performance in last week's debate, and in his testy performance before the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, and on, and on, and on.
McCain likes to own his nastiness, and often brags that he hasn't been elected Miss Congeniality int he Senate. The problem with that is, Americans don't like to elect assholes, and McCain isn't helping himself by acting like one. More important, his central claim -- that he is a consensus builder who can "reach across the aisle" and heal this country's ills through the force of his personality, is starkly at odds with the reality of his history of being a miserable jerk. How does he propose to get an even more solidly Democratic Congress to work with him should he become president, when the only two people he seems to get along with in his current job are Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham (whom McCain regularly belittles)?
Calling himself "the Sheriff" and promising to publicly ridicule members of Congress and "make them famous" for their pork barrel spending, sound more like threats than outreach, meaning that as president, McCain would be fighting like a cat in a paper bag with Congress, rather than working harmoniously with it. Will McCain, who has a history of pissing off his own caucus even more than the Democrats, build consensus like this?
"F--- you," he shouted at Texas Sen. John Cornyn last year.
"Only an a------ would put together a budget like this," he told the former Budget Committee chairman, Sen. Pete Domenici, in 1999.
"I'm calling you a f------ jerk!" he once retorted to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.
With Cornyn, he smoothed things over quickly. The two argued during a meeting on immigration legislation; Cornyn complained that McCain seemed to parachute in during the final stages of negotiations. "F--- you. I know more about this than anyone else in the room," McCain reportedly shouted.
The Honorable Barack Obama United States Senate SH-713 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Obama:
I would like to apologize to you for assuming that your private assurances to me regarding your desire to cooperate in our efforts to negotiate bipartisan lobbying reform legislation were sincere. When you approached me and insisted that despite your leadership’s preference to use the issue to gain a political advantage in the 2006 elections, you were personally committed to achieving a result that would reflect credit on the entire Senate and offer the country a better example of political leadership, I concluded your professed concern for the institution and the public interest was genuine and admirable. Thank you for disabusing me of such notions with your letter to me dated February 2, 2006, which explained your decision to withdraw from our bipartisan discussions. I’m embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss routinely used in politics to make self-interested partisan posturing appear more noble. Again, sorry for the confusion, but please be assured I won’t make the same mistake again.
What John McCain is promising Americans is more contention, more drama (his campaign is like a circus freak show) and more rancor, even as he's paying lip service to offering more bipartisanship and consensus. Besides, if he wins, isn't one of the Senators he'd have to reach across the aisle and work with named Barack Obama?
Meanwhile, far, far away in the land down under, we're getting a taste of what the world might look like under a McCain presidency. In short: it will look a lot like the world under a George Bush presidency. Not only is McCain being dismissed by the Aussie press -- Rupert Murdoch controlled though it is -- scroll down to the comments under this post and you get the idea that the citizens of the world won't like or respect us any more under McCain than they do under Dubya.
Just for fun, Melissa McEwan has compiled Senator McNasty's greatest hits.
John McCain's teeth are going to fall out if he clenches them like I think he's gonna clench them after this... Quinnipiac's new polling justifies the internal confidence of the Obama campaign about Florida:
No one has been elected President since 1960 without taking two of these three largest swing states in the Electoral College. Results from the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe- ack) University polls conducted before and after the debate show:
Florida: Obama up 49 - 43 percent pre-debate and 51 - 43 percent post-debate;
Ohio: Obama up 49 - 42 percent pre-debate and 50 - 42 percent post-debate;
Pennsylvania: Obama ahead 49 - 43 percent pre-debate and 54 - 39 percent post-debate. Pre-debate surveys ended at 8 p.m. Friday with post-debate surveys Saturday-Monday.
More than 84 percent of voters in each state say the debate did not change their mind. But by margins of 13 to 17 percent, voters in each state say Obama did a better job in the debate. And by margins of 15 to 27 percent, independent voters in each state say Obama won.
"It is difficult to find a modern competitive presidential race that has swung so dramatically, so quickly and so sharply this late in the campaign. In the last 20 days, Sen. Barack Obama has gone from seven points down to eight points up in Florida, while widening his leads to eight points in Ohio and 15 points in Pennsylvania," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"Sen. John McCain has his work cut out for him if he is to win the presidency and there does not appear to be a role model for such a comeback in the last half century," Brown added.
"Sen. McCain's problem is not with this or that demographic group. Although he still leads among white men, albeit by a smaller margin, his problems are across the electorate.
"Sen. Obama clearly won the debate, voters say. Their opinion of Gov. Sarah Palin has gone south and the Wall Street meltdown has been a dagger to McCain's political heart. Roughly a third of voters, and almost as large a share of the key independent vote, say McCain did more harm than good in trying to resolve the financial crisis, and the share of voters who see the economy as the top issue has risen from roughly half to six in ten."
President Bush's approval rating doesn't crack 25% in any of the three key swing states: Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, McCain only holds five-point leads with white voters and white men in the Sunshine State, and Obama has opened up a 20 ... that's TWENTY point lead among women in the state.
And yet, John McCain could still win this election. How? It's not pretty, but he has to hope that there are enough of three groups in key states to pull things out for him:
1) Republican partisans 2) Evangelicals who think Obama is the Antichrist; and 3) Racist white people
It's not pretty, but that's what it's come down to. Having demonstrated his erratic temperament, inability to lead his own party, fecklessness with the country's interests versus his own, and his utter recklessness -- in short, his unfitness for the office of president, and with George W. Bush's economy hanging around his neck like an anvil, John McCain has one remaining hope of becoming president: he needs for there to be more racist, than non-racist white folks, plus enough knee-jerk partisans and evangelical believers in the most bizarre conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, out there in the country -- and willing to stand in line and vote -- to win.
It's almost like he's from Mississippi instead of Arizona ... oh wait, he IS...
... The Senate bill would raise Federal Deposit Insurance limits to $250,000 from $100,000, as called for presidential nominees Barack Obama and John McCain only hours earlier.
... The Senate measure will graft the bailout language to a tax bill it approved last week, on a 93-2 vote. It includes: a provision to prevent more than 20 million middle-class taxpayers from feeling the bite of the alternative minimum tax, $8 billion in tax relief for those hit by natural disasters in the Midwest, Texas and Louisiana and some $78 billion in renewable energy incentives and extensions of expiring tax breaks.
In a compromise worked out with Republicans, the bill does not pay for the AMT and disaster provisions but does have revenue offsets for part of the energy and extension measures.
That wasn't enough earlier this year for the House, which insisted that there be complete offsets for the energy and extension part of the package.
The Senate version also may include a measure to require health plans for 51 or more employees to give equal treatment to mental health or addiction if they cover such illnesses. The House and Senate have passed similar mental health parity measures, but none has gone to Bush for his signature.
So its cookies and cream all around! And if Obama and Biden back it, Nancy P will be backed into a wee little corner. This as Pelosi and Harry Reid take the extraordinary step of attempting to come to the rescue of President Bush (a man no one trusts, in or out of his party...)
Other bailout news: two Yale professors say: why not just pay off all the delinquent mortgages? The Financial Times has more global doom and gloom. Meanwhile, in the WaPo, CFR conservative Michael Gerson excoriates Nancy Pelosi for her now infamous "mean-girl" speech, and then says this about House Republicans:
... whatever their provocations, pressures and justifications, House Republicans once again revealed the souls of backbenchers -- spouting their ideological purity from atop the ruins of the financial system. The temporary government purchase of bad mortgage debt is not equivalent to the liquidation of the kulaks. Serious conservative thinkers such as Ryan and Cantor, who chose to work within the legislative process, got many of the improvements they sought. But most House Republicans with ideological objections had nothing better to propose and no intention to try. They chose allegiance to abstract principles over practical reality. It is the political philosophy of Samson: Bring down the entire temple to make a political point. In this case, the president, their own congressional leadership, their own presidential candidate and the world economy are now wounded and struggling amid the rubble. I suppose the point is made. But it is a reminder of why Republicans are no longer trusted as the congressional majority.
Guess who will be rocking the mike, and the vote, for Barack Obama on Sunday? (If you guessed Beyonce's snotty sister's baby's uncle-in-law, you're on track...!) The celebs have been pouring it on for Obama over the last few weeks, with Tyler Perry, Forrest Whitaker, Cynthia Nixon (from Sex in the City), local baller Alonzo Mourning and out-of-towner Patrick Ewing just some of the celebs passing through. Let's guess who's getting the cool kids' vote this year... (by the way, no swearing, Jigga! Fox News is watching...!)
Is it a good thing ... or a very bad thing ... that Bill Clinton is headed to Florida Wednesday? This release went out to media from the Obama campaign late Tuesday:
Wednesday October 1, President Bill Clinton will host ‘Change We Need’ rallies in support of Senator Barack Obama in Orlando and Fort Pierce. Due to unexpected demand, the event in Orlando has been moved to a larger venue: the Arena Plaza at UCF. At both events, President Clinton will urge Floridians to register to vote before the Oct. 6th deadline.
Barack Obama’s Campaign for Change has conducted a comprehensive voter registration effort that has registered thousands of new voters in Florida over the past few months. The former President’s visit kicks off the final push before the Monday deadline.
Both events with President Clinton are free and open to the public. Tickets are not required, but an RSVP is strongly encouraged. Visit FL.barackobama.com to RSVP. Local rock band ‘Independently Poor’ will play before the rally in Fort Pierce.
So which Bill Clinton is going to show up tomorrow? The one who just oozes with love and praise for John McCain (but little more than chills and schadenfreude for Barack Obama) or the one who gave that barn burner of a speech in Denver? Psychoanalyzing Big Bill and his wife have become the "fantasy baseball" for political junkies, and the betting is, Bill really wants to see Obama lose, but in a way that makes it look like he wanted to see Obama win. ... Tomorrow will tell whether Team Obama erred by bringing him here. By the way, Clinton is headed right into I4 territory -- the part of the state Obama must turn blue in order to carry the state without miracle turnout from Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. His job may not exactly be to "hustle up the cracker vote," as he so inartfully put it last week, but it's something very much like that...
The New York Times editorial board writes that Obama won the discussion of the economy and that McCain seemed out of step with the current moment:
Mr. McCain fumbled his way through the economic portion of the debate, while Mr. Obama seemed clear and confident. Mr. McCain was more fluent on foreign affairs, and scored points by repeatedly calling Mr. Obama naïve and inexperienced.
But Mr. McCain's talk of experience too often made him sound like a tinny echo of the 20th century. At one point, he talked about how Ronald Reagan's "S.D.I." helped end the cold war. We suspect that few people under the age of 50 caught the reference. If he was reaching for Reagan's affable style, he missed by a mile, clenching his teeth and sounding crotchety where Reagan was sunny and avuncular.
Tom Shales sums up the night as 'McCain too nasty, Obama too nice':
Obama supporters must have been displeased, then, to hear their candidate keep agreeing with McCain, a case perhaps of sportsmanlike conduct run amok. Doesn't Obama want to win?[...]
Many of McCain's answers were preceded with belittling references to Obama as if he were talking to a college freshman way out of his depth.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board felt that McCain won on foreign policy while Obama won on the economy:
As planned by the commission on debates, most of the night was devoted to foreign policy and there we give the clear edge to Mr. McCain. This is the ground where the 72-year-old is most comfortable, and you could see it in his self-confidence, as well as his command of history and facts.[...]
Where Mr. Obama did score better was on the domestic front, where he tried repeatedly to link Mr. McCain to President Bush and to what he called a failed "economic philosophy."
Time's Joe Klein calls it a narrow victory for Obama:
Obama emerged as a candidate who was at least as knowledgeable, judicious and unflappable as McCain on foreign policy ... and more knowledgeable, and better suited to deal with the economic crisis and domestic problems the country faces.
And overall, bottom line, the winner is Barack Obama. He comes into this race where the country wants change, his number one goal was to show that he belonged on that stage...he could hold his own on national security, he did that tonight, he gets the win.
Appearing alongside him was George Will, who also said Obama came out ahead:
I think Barack Obama came out and looked comfortable and as though he belonged there. So, in a sense, the structure of the debate, indeed, the fact of the debate had to give a mild leg up to Barack Obama.
Not to mention the public, which clearly favored Barack, who did miss opportunities to attack mcCain, but who I also believe won the debate.
Ignore the commentariat. John McCain in the debate tonight came across as rigid, grumpy, and frankly, old. McCain indulged in several of his pet obsessions: repeating over and over "he doesn't understand," along with worn out phrases from his stump speeches like "I wasn't voted Miss Congeniality." He literally harped on "the surge," even when bringing it up was a non-sequitor, first saying Obama had acknowledged its success, and then insisting that Obama refuses to acknowledge its success. And while his stories may endear the crew on MSNBC, they make him look like a grandpa ... and a mean, grumpy one at that.
Obama, on the other hand, was better in this debate than in any of his meetings with Hillary Clinton, where his responses sometimes seemed to meander. Tonight, he was clear and focused, and at times, even threw an elbow or two. He clearly understood the issues, and appeared prepared and "grown up" enough to be president. Most importantly, his answers were keyed to a specific target: middle class voters, and he consistently repeated two themes: McCain's past wrong judgments (on the economy and Iraq) and his determination to give more tax cuts to the rich and to corporations. That's something the D.C. reporter class (whom I still think tend to tilt toward McCain) missed, big time, and it will resonate with voters.
On the downside, he could have scored more points, and indeed, he let several soft balls go right over home plate:
Obama could have hit McCain on the 60 lobbyists running his campaign during his long volley on how lobbyists push earmarks;
He could have hit him on Sarah Palin's earmarks, particularly when McCain himself made a reference to his runningmate.
He could have slammed McCain on the Boeing deal that McCain brought up, saying McCain killing that deal cost thousands of American jobs.
And he missed the opportunity to hit McCain on his failure to support the G.I. Bill, or his low ratings with veterans' groups when it comes to his voting record.
Lastly, Obama should never, ever, EVER again say the phrase "John McCain is absolutely right" (and he should instruct Joe Biden and if he can swing it, Bill Clinton and the other surrogates not to do so either.)
But by coming across as the bigger man -- literally and figuratively -- and by being both knowledgeable and congenial, (maybe he would win Miss Congeniality) Obama simply looked more presidential than John McCain, who for his part, looked tightly wound, surly, and even angry. McCain appeared to take Obama's criticisms personally, while Obama literally laughed McCain's off. And as the MSNBC team all pointed out tonight, McCain refused ... for the entire length of the debate ... to look at his opponent. McCain's physical, visible, obvious contempt for Barack Obama came through the screen like 3D. I suspect that most voters won't like it, or him.
My prediction at the end of the night was that whatever the commentariat said, Obama would win every online poll 60-40. So far, I've been right. Here are the first snap polls:
"Unfortunately, I think Obama won this debate," said Dick Morris on Hannity and Colmes.
"I don't know which debate you were watching, Dick," said Sean Hannity. "It was book knowledge."
Morris responded:"Obama showed himself to be more concerned about the average person, or at least acted that way."
Bottom line, debates aren't won on substance, per se. They're won on a combination of comfort with the issues, and on style. Obama may seem somewhat aloof and professorial, but he also seems like someone you'd be comfortable with in the White House. McCain, as Chris Matthews just said, comes off like a troll. At the end of the day, though I think the debate won't change many minds, and will only harden people's preferences, whatever they were before the debate. If anything, people who were leaning toward Obama but needing him to pass the experience threshold probably got what they needed tonight. I suspect that those who wanted to come away liking McCain enough to quell their doubts did not.
Best line of the night: Obama hitting McCain on not wanting to talk to the prime minister of spain, tied with his line about McCain singing "bomb Iran."
Sen. Barack Obama in Miami September 19th. Pictured to Obama's left, is Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. To Obama's right, is Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
On Friday, September 18, I had the opportunity, along with James T (of top Miami urban station Hot 105) to interview Senator Barack Obama.
The interview came a couple of hours after he held a rally with some 8,000 people at the University of Miami's Bank United Center, as part of the "Women for Obama" campaign. I did the interview on assignment for a few outlets, and it has already aired in total or in part on American Urban Radio Networks, Hot 105 FM Miami, and on "The James T Good Morning Show" in Atlanta and Valdosta, Georgia. We talked about whether black turnout was a certainty, even in this historic year, about what he'd do about the crashing economy, and about his overall political philosophy. Here it is:
John McCain finally stopped doing interviews and kibbitzing with folks at the Clinton Global Initiative to make his "emergency" return to Capitol Hill today, but the reporting suggests his presence wasn't exactly a profile in presidential-style leadership:
Senator John McCain had intended to ride back into Washington on Thursday as a leader who had put aside presidential politics to help broker a solution to the financial crisis. Instead he found himself in the midst of a remarkable partisan showdown, lacking a clear public message for how to bring it to an end.
At the bipartisan White House meeting that Mr. McCain had called for a day earlier, he sat silently for more than 40 minutes, more observer than leader, and then offered only a vague sense of where he stood, said people in the meeting.
In subsequent television interviews, Mr. McCain suggested that he saw the bipartisan plan that came apart at the White House meeting as the proper basis for an eventual agreement, but he did not tip his hand as to whether he would give any support to the alternative put on the table by angry House Republicans, with whom he had met before going to the White House.
He said he was hopeful that a deal could be struck quickly and that he could then show up for his scheduled debate on Friday night against his Democratic rival in the presidential race, Senator Barack Obama. But there was no evidence that he was playing a major role in the frantic efforts on Capitol Hill to put a deal back together again.
On the second floor of the Capitol on Thursday night, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and one of Mr. McCain’s closest confidants, complained to a throng of reporters that Democrats were using Mr. McCain as a scapegoat for the failure of the rescue package. But Mr. Graham was met with a barrage of questions on why Mr. McCain never explicitly said he favored the bailout proposal.
The situation was evolving so rapidly that it was all but impossible to judge the political implications; with the government under intense pressure to avoid another breach in confidence in the global financial markets, it was possible that a deal could be struck without further reshaping the campaign and that Mr. McCain could still be able to claim a role in a positive outcome.
Still, as a matter of political appearances, the day’s events succeeded most of all in raising questions about precisely why Mr. McCain had called for postponing the first debate and returned to Washington to focus on the bailout plan, and what his own views were about what should be done. Those political appearances are a key consideration for Mr. McCain less than six weeks from Election Day and at a time when some polls suggest he is losing ground against Mr. Obama, especially on handling the economy.
Meanwhile, the day gave Obama the chance to look presidential:
by nightfall, the day provided the younger and less experienced Mr. Obama an opportunity to, in effect, shift roles with Mr. McCain. For a moment, at least, it was Mr. Obama presenting himself as the old hand at consensus building, and as the real face of bipartisan politics.
“What I’ve found, and I think it was confirmed today, is that when you inject presidential politics into delicate negotiations, it’s not necessarily as helpful as it needs to be,” Mr. Obama told reporters Thursday evening. “Just because there is a lot of glare of the spotlight, there’s the potential for posturing or suspicions.”
“When you’re not worrying about who’s getting credit, or who’s getting blamed, then things tend to move forward a little more constructively,” he said.
So far, all John McCain has proved is that he has neither control nor influence over the right wing of his party, even having dangled the shiny (well, after that dreadful Katie Couric interview, somewhat less shiny...) Sarah Palin object in front of them. And he has no more influence over the process than does the lamest of lame ducks, President Bush. He exerted no leadership in the meeting, which in itself apparently helped blow up the process that had been well underway before McCain showed up. And now, right wing Republicans, led by the Boner, are actually proposing a regime of more tax cuts, and the complete elimination of regulations on Wall Street as their version of a fix, plus forcing banks to buy private insurance. Seriously.
In short, what leadership has McCain exercised, and how can his supporters argue that he has made things better, not worse?
Tonight, the WaPo's Chris Cilizza is reporting that a memo released by the suspended? but curiously still operable McCain campaign indicates that McCain won't be attending tomorrow night's debate. Okay, and his continued presence in Washington, given that he is on neither of the relevant Senate committees, Banking and Financial Services, and that his only chance to lead was a bust, what is it that he'll be doing?
Of course, it is possible (and in my opinion, somewhat likely) that the Bush administration is overstating the crisis, in order to make one last grab for power, and for a last dash at emptying what's left in the treasury on behalf of their fat cat friends -- sort of a "shock doctrine" applied to finance, as it was to war. That could be. But with Washington Mutual going under on Thursday, no one in Washington is going to want to be blamed for an economic meltdown, should it turn out the Bushies aren't lying for once.
McCain's boisterous intervention -- and particularly his grandstanding on the debate -- was less a presidential act than the tactical ploy of a man worried that his chances of becoming president might be slipping away.
John McCain has mastered the rhetoric and appearance of bi-partisanship. But at this point, the only evidence of it is his constant sidekicking with Joe Lieberman (isn't that "tripartisan?") If McCain claims to be the king of bipartisan leadership, he should start by leading his own caucus. If he can't do that, then he should do us all a favor and just go to Ole Miss.
McCain and Obama meet with Dubya today. Meanwhile, via an astute Politico commenter, a new SurveyUSA "snap poll" of 1,000 Americans finds little support for John McCain's debate delaying "time out" for his campaign. Key findings from the poll:
Should the debate be delayed? -- 50% say hold it as scheduled. -- 36% say hold as scheduled but make the focus of it the economy. -- 10% say delay it. -- 4% say they aren't sure.
Should the Presidential campaigns be suspended? -- 31% say continue campaigns as is. -- 48% say continue campaigns but focus on the economy. -- 14% say suspend campaigns. -- 7% say they aren't sure.
If Friday's debate is delayed, is that good or bad for America? -- 14% say good for America. -- 46% say bad for America. -- 35% say no difference. -- 6% say they aren't sure.
Going inside the tabs, it turns out those who support delaying Friday's debate tend to think McCain would win a debate with Obama, while those who support going forward, either as is or with a changed focus, think Obama would win. So again, the reactions are mostly partisan. Not exactly a win for McCain.
The Obama campaign finally comes out with that joint statement, more than 12 hours after Obama contacted John McCain privately, to suggest they put one out, and nearly eight hours after McCain double-crossed him by rushing before television cameras to try his "suspend the campaign!" stunt. Here's the statement:
Joint Statement of Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain
“The American people are facing a moment of economic crisis. No matter how this began, we all have a responsibility to work through it and restore confidence in our economy. The jobs, savings, and prosperity of the American people are at stake.
“Now is a time to come together – Democrats and Republicans – in a spirit of cooperation for the sake of the American people. The plan that has been submitted to Congress by the Bush Administration is flawed, but the effort to protect the American economy must not fail.
This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country.”
And in a smart move, I think, the campaign has taken a cue from McCain, and gone their own way, with Obama releasing the following statement on his own:
Speaking for himself, Senator Obama outlined the following principles that he calls on Senator McCain to support:
I believe that several core principles should guide this legislation.
First, there must be oversight. We should not hand over a blank check to the discretion of one man. We support an independent, bipartisan board to ensure accountability and complete transparency.
Second, we need to protect taxpayers. There should be a path for taxpayers to recover their money, and to turn a profit if Wall Street prospers.
Third, no Wall Street executive should profit from taxpayer dollars. This plan cannot be a welfare program for CEOs whose greed and irresponsibility has contributed to this crisis.
Fourth, we must help families who are struggling to stay in their homes. We cannot bail out Wall Street without helping millions of families facing foreclosure on Main Street.
Fifth, we both agree that this financial rescue package should move on its own without any earmarks or other measures. We have different views about the need for other action, but this must be a clean bill.
This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. This is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem – this is an American problem. Now, we must find an American solution.
Sound principles, and again, Obama waxes presidential, while McCain just goes bat crap crazy. As Chris Matthews said on Rachel Maddow's show tonight, the McCain strategy is that every time the compass needle points to "true north," which is change from the party that's screwed things up, McCain pulls a "razzle dazzle" play. As Chris then said, "do you want four years of razzle dazzle?"
The Obama campaign released a slew of comments slamming John McCain for his "stop the campaign, I want to get off" gambit. A few classics (besides Letterman, not to mention Jon Stewart, who's skewering him as we speak in the 11 p.m. broadcast of his show...)
Mickey Edwards, former Republican Congressman: “Oh, brother. What idiot came up with this stunt? It ranks somewhere on the stupidity scale between plain silly and numbingly desperate. McCain and Obama are both members of the senate and they're both able to help craft a solution if they wish to do so without putting the presidential campaign on hold; after all, I’m sure congressional leaders would be willing to accept their calls if they have some important insights to impart. And while one of them will eventually become president, neither one is president yet, nor is either one a member of the congressional leadership; I’m confident that somehow the administration and the other 533 members of congress will be able to muddle through without tapping into the superior wisdom and intellect of their nominees. Sorry, John; it really sounds like you're afraid to debate. This sounds like the sort of ploy we used to use in junior high school elections.” More
The Atlantic (Ambinder) “What is Politics?”: This is the time when politics matters the most, not the least. When the philosophical differences that each party organizes around are put to the test of reality. When conflict builds consensus, not by ignoring conflict. When the public craves answers and debate from their politicians. When the stakes of the presidential election could not be more acute. Comparative advantage: the best thing the presidential candidates can do now is to practice their politics honestly, not to abandon politics altogether -- itself, of course, a political move. Suspending your campaign basically says: all that over the past sixteen months? It wasn't important. Ignore what I said or did. Too late. The tough thing here for McCain is that nobody in Washington asked him to come back; nobody seems to need him to come back; and that Democrats simply do not trust John McCain's motives. More
TIME (Joe Klein): McCain suspends his campaign because of financial crisis? Oh please. Given today's poll numbers--even Fox has him dropping--it seems another Hail Mary (like the feckless selection of Palin) to try make McCain seem a statesman, which is difficult given the puerile tenor of his campaign's message operation. More
The New Republic (Jonathan Cohn): So, no, I don't think this is such a great idea. In fact, it feels to me a bit like McCain is trying to use this crisis as a way to prop up his political fortunes. More
TPM (Greg Sargent): If this version of events was true, McCain's public call for a suspension was anything but apolitical. If McCain had truly intended to keep this apolitical, he would have asked Obama to jointly suspend the debates and waited for Obama's private and definitive answer before going public. More
One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain's campaign manager from the end of 2005 through last month, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement. The disclosure contradicts a statement Sunday night by Mr. McCain that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had no involvement with the company for the last several years. Mr. Davis's firm received the payments from the company, Freddie Mac, until it was taken over by the government this month along with Fannie Mae, the other big mortgage lender whose deteriorating finances helped precipitate the cascading problems on Wall Street, the people said...
...On Sunday, in an interview with CNBC and The New York Times, Mr. McCain responded to a question about Mr. Davis's role in the advocacy group through 2005 by saying that his campaign manager "has had nothing to do with it since, and I'll be glad to have his record examined by anybody who wants to look at it."
Freddie Mac had previously paid an advocacy group run by Davis, called the Homeownership Alliance, $30,000 a month until the end 2005, when that group was dissolved. That relationship was the subject of a New York Times story Monday, which drew angry denunciations from the McCain campaign. McCain and his aides have vehemently objected to suggestions that Davis has ties to Freddie Mac-an especially sensitive issue given that the Republican presidential candidate has blamed "the lobbyists, politicians and bureaucrats" for the mortgage crisis that recently prompted the Bush administration to take over both Freddie Mac and its companion, Fannie Mae, and put it under federal conservatorship.
But neither the Times story -- nor the McCain campaign -- revealed that Davis's firm, the Washington, D.C. based lobbying firm Davis Manafort, continued to receive $15,000 a month from Freddie Mac until last month-long after the Homeownership Alliance had been terminated. The two sources, who requested anonymity discussing sensitive information, told Newsweek that Davis himself approached Freddie Mac in 2006 and asked for a new consulting arrangement that would allow his firm to continue to be paid. The arrangement was approved by Hollis McLoughlin, Freddie Mac's vice president for external relations, because "he [Davis] was John McCain's campaign manager and it was felt you couldn't say no," said one of the sources. [McLoughlin did not return phone calls].
Why does John McCain want to postpone Friday's debate? Does he seriously believe that one night in Mississippi, when both he and Barack Obama could easily fly in from Washington after voting, theoretically, on a bill that probably won't even be ready by then, would harm the country? The McCain "breaking news" literally came about 15 minutes, by my clock, after the Obama campaign sent out a statement to the press, which I got in my in-box at 3:38 p.m.
The McCain sudden call for putting politics aside was also synchronized almost perfectly with the White House. Per CNN:
It was not immediately clear how extensive the suspension he announced would be -- whether it would include dropping television advertising or just canceling scheduled appearances. McCain took no questions after reading his statement.
Immediately after the announcement, White House press secretary Dana Perino released this statement: "We welcome Sen. McCain's announcement. We are making progress in negotiations on the financial markets rescue legislation, but we have not finished it yet. Bipartisan support from Sens. McCain and Obama would be helpful in driving to a conclusion."
McCain's campaign also said that he had canceled his scheduled appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman" for Wednesday night.
McCain's announcement came just hours before President Bush was scheduled to address the nation on the troubled state of the U.S. financial system -- a problem for which his administration has proposed a $700 billion bailout.
A Bush statement about anything can only be bad news for McCain, who must know that despite the foreign policy focus, he would face questions about the bailout, and his incoherence on the subject, on Friday.
ABC News reports that McCain not only wants to postpone the debate (the Obama camp says the debate is still on) he has also tried to get the Obama campaign to agree to both campaigns pulling their advertising down. Really? It would sure be a good way to keep the latest New York Times story on his campaign manager's Freddie Mac ATM machine off the air in swing states, no? And McCain can't be enjoying the campaign trail these days, what with all the questions, waffles, and dredging up of the Keating Five scandal ... Oh, and the contradictions. From ABC:
Obama supporter and chief debate negotiator Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., told MSNBC that "we can handle both," when asked about his reaction to McCain's call to postpone the first debate because of the administration's bailout plan.
He believes they are making good progress on Capitol Hill on the bailout and his initial reaction is that the work on the Hill should not preclude the debate from taking place.
An Obama campaign official told ABC News the Democratic presidential candidate called McCain this morning to suggest a joint statement of principles.
McCain called back this afternoon and suggested returning to Washington.
Obama is willing to return to Washington "if it would be helpful." But reiterated Obama intends to debate on Friday.
McCain and his top advisers said the Republican presidential candidate has not committed to voting for the massive financial bailout plan proposed by the Bush administration, with aides saying he will reserve final judgment until there is a final product.
A senior McCain campaign official said that the “Bush package is dead. This is a serious situation. Package must be resolved by the time markets open on Monday."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that McCain had assured Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that he would support the $700 billion legislation.
Asked about that Wednesday, McCain responded: “I did not say that.”
(Sidebar: want to see the Keating Five scandal boiled down to 97 seconds? Here you go.)
McCain's gambit is as crass as politics get, but it could have a similar effect to his "lipstick" and "Britney" sideshows - taking the focus off him, and his lobbyist pals, and even the economic crisis itself, and putting it back on Obama, who McCain's aides will cast as a crass politico who can't even go along with McCain's principled call for a suspension of campaign hostilities "for the good of the country." This is clearly a gambit to reclaim his "country first" mantra, in a very clever way, and also to stop the bleeding in his own poll numbers, not to mention the questions.
Let's see how Obama plays it, and whether the media falls for it. My guess is that the media will (Fox News is, of course, already setting the tone by lauding McCain's "big move.") We'll see if McCain has lost so much good will with the non-GOP press that they refuse to play along.
This interest in the bailout is new for McCain. As recently as yesterday, when a reporter asked him about his position on the Bush administration's financial proposals, McCain said, "I have not had a chance to see it in writing. I have to examine it." As the stock market tanked and the federal government bailed out financial institutions over the past week, McCain has been campaigning around the country. Originally, McCain McCain planned to skip the vote on the bailout and continue campaigning. The last time McCain voted in the Senate was on April 10.
It's not clear at all that having McCain and Obama back in DC will actually help. "What does seem apparent, though, is that putting the two candidates in the negotiating room is far more likely to distract--and derail--negotiations than having them out on the hustings," Jonathan Cohn writes at the New Republic. "Besides, it's not as if McCain has any great expertise he can bring to this subject. Or does he plan to bring Senator Phill Gramm, Mr. Deregulator himself, along?"
Both candidates have been marginal players; McCain, though, seems to have the potential to make himself a major one, and his move is a mark, most of all, that he doesn't like the way this campaign is going.
But in terms of the timing of this move: The only thing that's changed in the last 48 hours is the public polling.
More reactions from the political consultant class. So far, whether you think it's a brilliant move or a cynical, desperate one depends on your party persuasion (surprise, surprise...)
John McCain sits on the Indian Affairs, Armed Services, and "Commerce, Science and Transportation" committees, none of whom can hold hearings on the bailout. In fact, it's the Senate Banking Committee that handles such things. So again, what is McCain, who has no particular expertise in the area of finance (or the economy for that matter) going back to Washington to do? (besides grandstand and buy himself some time...)
Yet another update...
By the way, Congress is scheduled to recess on Friday, so what is McCain suspending his campaign for, like two days? Is he saying that if there's no deal, he's prepared to stay in Washington into next week? Or is he using this move to push for a quickie deal, which can't be a good idea...
Bill Clinton tells Larry King that after the Jewish holiday, he's going to head down to Florida and other points south to "sort of hustle up what Lawton Chiles used to call the 'cracker vote..." Earth to oversensitive people: some white Floridians really do call themselves "crackers..." go figure. And isn't the original Bubba saying "cracker" sort of like black people using "nigga?" Just sayin'...
But Bill Clinton, whatever his wording, makes a good point.
For all the fundamentals in his favor, polls and economic disaster included, and for all the walking disaster that is John McCain, I had a very bleak conversation with a friend of mine today who is black, and who is convinced that Barack Obama is going to lose in November. Not because he's not qualified, but because there are enough white people in this country who won't be able to bring themselves to vote for a black man, to put McCain in office. I'm not there yet, and still think Obama can pull it off, but as I said in this earlier post, to me, anyone undecided at this point is probably a McCain voter who's too embarrassed to tell a pollster he or she is actually thinking of voting for McCain, who is clearly a disaster walking. Many of these undecideds are simply waiting for McCain to stop behaving like an erratic whirling dirvish of an old man for five seconds and show them something -- ANYTHING -- that would justify their voting for him, without having to admit to anyone, or perhaps to themselves, that it's because Obama is black. But for most of the undecideds, and I suspect, for a fair number of the recalcitrant Hillaryites, it IS because Obama is black, not to mention trying to rise above his station.
"The Bubba vote is there, and it's very real, and it is everywhere," former House Majority Leader Dick Armey recently said. "There's an awful lot of people in America, bless their heart, who simply are not emotionally prepared to vote for a black man."
... Yet even Bubba knows something about political correctness these days, so he won't always tell the truth to pollsters. As a result, you will not always hear Bubba speak as candidly as Armey, who now chairs the conservative think tank Freedom Works, spoke to editorial and reporters at USA Today and Gannett News Service, where he made his comments.
Nevertheless, as Armey said, race-based voting is "deplorable, but it is real." That's why, Obama has more reason than McCain to feel nervous about close polls.
In fact, if he fails to show at least a six-point advantage in the polls by Election Day, I expect John McCain to be our next president.
You still see the ugly specter of racism out there. You see it in incidents like this, but you also hear it in the vitriol of some former Clinton supporters who spit out that they're not voting for "that Obama" but can't really explain what McCain has going for him, or in common with them. And you here it in the discredited, but effective use of the phony "Obama is an undercover Muslim" meme (or as Limbaugh keeps insisting, an Arab.) As far as I'm concerned, Muslim is the new "nigger."
If Obama does lose, I think it will clearly be because of race. Period. But I also think that many white McCain voters will push back hard against that fact, and attempt to chalk McCain's victory up to something else, though they won't be able to cite a well run campaign, or coherent thoughts on ... well ... anything. But they will try. They'll be mistaken (or lying.)
Bottom line, while he is up in the polls, I suspect Obama will need even more than a 52%-43% lead in any poll going into November in order to squeak this one out on Election Day. He'll also need record shattering black and young voter turnout to offshore the white women he's going to lose, and the possible mass turnout of Anybody But the Black Guy white voters on November 4th. Whatever works.
Let's just hope the Obama ground game really is as good as they say it is.
The economy shakes more Americans awake, and Barack Obama takes a 52-43 lead over Crazy Grandpa John.
Two weeks ago, in the days immediately following the Republican National Convention, the race was essentially even, with McCain at 49 percent and Obama at 47 percent.
As a point of comparison, neither of the last two Democratic nominees -- John F. Kerry in 2004 or Al Gore in 2000 -- recorded support above 50 percent in a pre-election poll by the Post and ABC News.
Last week's near-meltdown in the financial markets and the subsequent debate in Washington over a proposed government bailout of troubled financial institutions have made the economy even more important in the minds of voters. Fully 50 percent called the economy and jobs the single most important issue that will determine their vote, up from 37 percent two weeks ago. In contrast, just 9 percent cited the Iraq war as their most important issue, its lowest of the campaign.
But voters are cool toward the administration's initial efforts to deal with the current crisis. Forty-seven percent said they approve of the steps taken by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve to stabilize the financial markets, while 42 percent said they disapprove.
Anxiety about the economic situation is widespread. Just over half of the poll respondents -- 52 percent -- believe the economy has moved into a serious long-term decline. Eight in 10 are concerned about the overall direction of the economy, nearly three-quarters worry about the shocks to the stock market, and six in 10 are apprehensive about their own family finances.
Two weeks ago, McCain held a substantial advantage among white voters, including newfound strength with white women. In the face of bad economic news, the two candidates now run about evenly among white women, and Obama has narrowed the overall gap among white voters to five percentage points.
Much of the movement has come among college-educated whites. Whites without college degrees favor McCain by 17 points, while those with college degrees support Obama by 9 points. No Democrat has carried white, college-educated voters in presidential elections dating back to 1980, but they were a key part of Obama's coalition in the primaries.
In addition, Obama is favored by whites who are worried about the economy. He doesn't do as well with those who aren't.
Still, Obama pitfalls remain, including the 18 percent of voters in a new AP/Yahoo poll (have I mentioned my increasing lack of trust in the Associated Press?) who are undecided. In my book, at this stage and with this economy, undecided is generally American for "I can't vote for that black guy, but don't go calling me racist ... and I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm voting for McCain, knowing he'll screw things up even more."
I have been a longtime critic of the Florida Democratic Party's eternal pursuit of what I call the "white whale" of winning the I-4 corridor: the part of Florida that stretches north from around Orlando to Tampa-St. Petersberg. When the party held a conference call earlier in the year to talk general strategy, and announced that once again, the Democrats would run an I-4, rather than a South Florida (Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach) based strategy, and that the Obama campaign would be based in Tampa, I hung my head in distress. Particularly given the party's lack of success with this strategy in any election since I moved here (Kerry lost Florida by 380,000 votes and went down swearing he could cut into the military vote in Tampa, and Jim Davis lost the governor ship to the tan guy otherwise known as NOT GETTING MARRIED ANYTIME SOON since he's not the v.p., swearing that he could bring home his home city: Tampa.)
But something is looking mighty different this time around.
First, the Obama campaign is being managed here by Steve Schale, probably the only Democrat in the last ten years who truly knows how to win in Florida. Schale speaks "evangelical," since he is one, and he is credited with helping Democrats pick up seats statewide in 2006. If his Tampa-centric strategy works, he will officially be labeled a supah genious.
Second, the Obama campaign is seriously, seriously competing for this state. They've pledged $39.3 million in spending -- more than they've budgeted in Ohio, and they are making a serious push to hold the Jewish vote, erode the Hispanic vote (complete with a new round of Spanish language TV ads running this week,) and turn out the black vote (complaints by some local black pols and preachers about the lack of spending money notwithstanding.)
Third, the army of Obamatrons roaming the state appears to be having an effect. The Dems have picked up a more than two-to-one new voter registration advantage, with about 250,000 voters registered as Dems through July versus about 98,000 for the GOP. If they improved on that in August and September, it's a good look, even in a state where most Democrats north of Jacksonville vote Republican.
Fourth. Sheer commitment. Obama and his team have been blanketing the state over the last two weeks, and guess where the Senator is doing his debate prep? Tampa. Hell, even I got an interview!
Now, to the polls.
And this one's a stunner.
Mason-Dixon, one of the best, but also one of the most Republican-leaning, of the Florida polls, actually shows Barack Obama opening up a slight lead in the Sunshine State (per Chuckie T and company:)
Yet inside those numbers, Obama leads McCain in the Tampa Bay area (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, and Polk counties) by a 49%-43% margin. Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker says the key to winning Florida statewide is usually through Tampa Bay, and Obama’s six-point lead in the area explains why he’s ahead in this poll. Moreover, outside of Nevada, there is probably not another state that has been hurt more by the housing and credit crunch, and that may be benefiting Obama right now.
Also potentially troublesome for McCain in this must-win GOP state, he leads by just six among Hispanics (49%-43%), which in Florida is made up of a majority of Cubans. (If Obama does pick off younger Cubans, he may close the overall gap thanks to his large lead among non-Cuban Hispanics in the I-4 corridor.)
Also, McCain's four-point lead among seniors (48%-44%) is not as big as he needs it to be to offset the electorate-changing demographics among blacks and young voters. ...
Those are four big "yikes!" if you're John McCain.
A bit more on the poll, from the Miami Herald:
... voters prefer Obama by a slight margin to handle the economy (49-44) and to reform government (48-44). But McCain trounces Obama on the question of who's best to handle national security: 57-39. Military voters favor McCain 57-39, those who haven't served prefer Obama 49-42.
Also keeping McCain strong: white support (he edges Obama 50-42) and support among Hispanics (49-43), a crucial swing-voting demographic.
Obama has a decisive lead among black voters (88-5) and barely leads among women voters, 49-41. Past election exit polls show that the Republican who captures 45 percent or more of the woman vote generally wins the state.
The biggest swing in the poll: name-recognition for Republican vp pick Sarah Palin. About 75 percent of voters didn't recognize her name in the last Mason-Dixon poll in August. Now, only 2 percent don't recognize her. About 45 percent of voters view her favorably and 31 percent unfavorably. That compares to Joe Biden's fav/unfav of 39-21.
Palin has also had a bigger effect on her ticket than Biden has on his. About 60 percent of voters say Biden's pick had no effect on their vote, compared to 37 percent for Palin. And 36 percent say they're more likely to vote for McCain because of Palin, while 23 percent say it made them less likely. Biden's more likely/less likely numbers: 21-15
For Obama to be holding onto 42 percent of the white vote isn't a bad look in this state. And if he can hold onto women, and get black turnout to put some muscle behind his commanding lead there, he really could win Florida, and this coming from someone who wasn't so sure of that a month ago.
BTW McCain is still ahead in the Rasmussen survey, by five points, and he has an average two point lead per RCP. But Mason Dixon is considered the gold standard of Florida polls, and given what they're spending, you've got to believe Team Obama has some internal polls that tell them Mason-D is on the right track.
From the WaPo today, proof that outside the evangelical base, there is no Palin effect. It's still the economy, stupid.
The presidential race between John McCain and Barack Obama in four key battleground states remains remarkably stable despite a month of politically significant developments, with the Illinois senator running ahead of or even with his Republican rival according to polling conducted by Quinnipiac University for washingtonpost.com and the Wall Street Journal.
In Colorado, Obama takes 49 percent to 45 percent for McCain while in Michigan Obama stands at 48 percent as compared to 44 percent for McCain. The contest in Minnesota, once considered a lock for Obama, is also quite close with Obama at 47 percent and McCain 45 percent. Only in Wisconsin does Obama have an edge -- 49 percent to 42 percent -- outside the statistical margin of error for the poll.
Those results are remarkably similar to data from July Quinnipiac polls in each of the four states and suggest that despite the massive media coverage surrounding the two parties' national nominating conventions as well as the vice presidential selections -- especially that of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, which many presumed would alter the campaign's dynamic -- little has changed in the race for the White House.
Obama won't lose a single Kerry state. Bank on it. And he will pick up New Mexico and Iowa. That leaves his task as the following: get Nevada, Florida, Virginia or Ohio. If he grabs one of those, and picks up New Hampshire, it's over. Tick, tick...
The Obama campaign just finished a conference call for reporters to discuss the new ad, "Article," which hits John McCain on his love of deregulation, and his plan to do to healthcare what his and Phil Gramm's policies have already done to the financial markets. Watch the ad:
Ever since McCain's article from the September/October edition of Contingencies Magazine was first re-posted by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on Friday, Democrats have been chomping at the bits to ram it down McCain's throat. After all, what better way to deflate the idea that the Republican nominee, after years of pursuing deregulatory policies, all the sudden was a champion of government oversight? Or, for that matter, what better way to drive home the notion that McCain would put one's health care - not to mention Social Security - at play in a clearly erratic market.
Here’s what McCain has to say about the wonders of market-based health reform:
Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.
So McCain, who now poses as the scourge of Wall Street, was praising financial deregulation like 10 seconds ago — and promising that if we marketize health care, it will perform as well as the financial industry!
The full McCain article is available as a PDF file here. The McCain response, according to one reporter on the call, is as follows:
Two more bank failures on Wall Street, as Lehman Bros. files for Chapter 11, and Merryl Lynch is sold under duress, to Bank of America. The feds will let Lehman fail, opting not to go for yet another bailout.
What will Wall Street and the City of London look like, when the smoke clears?
The collapse of Lehman Brothers and the rescue of Merrill Lynch at the weekend do not mark the end of the financial crisis. There may still be more failures to come - former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, hardly known for his pessimism, suspects there will be.
For one thing, power will no longer rest with the great Wall Street investment banks, which once pulled the levers of corporate America, even though their financial firepower was dwarfed by the commercial banks'.
Only Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley remain forces to be reckoned with, now that Lehman is gone and Merrill and Bear Stearns subsumed into much larger entities,
Does that matter? In practical terms, not really: their functions - trading and underwriting debt and equity, advising companies on mergers - are already provided by big global banks such as Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Barclays.
The US low-tax zealot, Grover Norquist, is famous for wanting to "shrink government down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub". Still alive, he is not turning in his grave, but his idea has been well and truly buried - and not by the Democrats he hates; they have been tongue-tied on the credit crisis.
It is Wall Street, the paradigm of "red in tooth and claw" capitalism, that has turned to government subsidy on an unprecedented scale.
Low, ideally non-existent, taxes may be very desirable, but when free-market principles came into conflict with the survival of business as we know it, priorities were clear. The US Federal government's full faith and credit - in other words, the resources of American taxpayers - should be urgently deployed to preserve as much as possible of the financial industry.
Luckily for Wall Street, government was still too big to fit in that bathtub - and proved only too willing to take up the challenge.
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was first with a statement, at 6:17 a.m. Eastern: “The situation with Lehman Brothers and other financial institutions is the latest in a wave of crises that are generating enormous uncertainty about the future of our financial markets. This turmoil is a major threat to our economy and its ability to create good-paying jobs and help working Americans pay their bills, save for their future, and make their mortgage payments.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) followed at 8:01 a.m.: “The McCain-Palin Administration will replace the outdated and ineffective patchwork quilt of regulatory oversight in Washington and bring transparency and accountability to Wall Street. We will rebuild confidence in our markets and restore our leadership in the financial world."
McCain was first with a TV ad, called "Crisis", vowing: "Our economy in crisis. Only proven reformers John McCain and Sarah Palin can fix it. Tougher rules on Wall Street to protect your life savings. No special interest giveaways. Lower taxes to create new jobs. Offshore drilling to reduce gas prices."
If it sounds familiar, it’s because it is: The candidates are repackaging their normal stump rhetoric to deal with an economic earthquake that could constrict voters’ ability to get loans, and is already reshuffling the biggest names in American finance.
Anything new to offer, Grandpa?
I await the Obama ad, which I assume is forthcoming ... (eyes rolling...) eventually...
Meanwhile, John McCain revives the "son, if you'd only have let me drag YOU around the country to my nifty town hall meetings so I could hear the adulation of large crowds before I die, I wouldn't have had to get the Moose Lady to drag around ... and maybe I wouldn't have to have my boys rough you up so fearsome..."
Meanwhile, the campaigns take a break today to observe the eight year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Barack Obama and John McCain are in New York for the commemoration, and a town hall about ... wait for it ... "service." I wonder if McCain will discuss the use of sleazy politics in the service of ambition...
...for that "lipstick on a pig" remark, about which the Murdoch press is now blatantly lying, I quit. I will call the campaign and demand my donation money back, stop blogging about the campaign, stop paying attention to the election, and the next Obama volunteer I see, I will punch them in the face. Okay, maybe not with the punching...
Team Obama should ignore the high school newspaper press corps -- you know what? That's unfair to high school newspapers -- they should ignore the preening, lazy, headline-happy press corps, and have the candidate, not a surrogate, not a spokesman, but Barack himself, walk out to a group of reporters and their microphones, and say something like this:
"Enough. I'm not going to be lectured on sexism by a man who refused to support a bill that would guarantee equal pay for women.
I'm not going to be lectured on language by a man who jokes about a woman getting raped, who ridiculed Hillary Clinton's then-teenage daughter for her looks, and whose temperament is questioned, even by members of his own party.
And I'm not going to get down into the mud with a once honorable man, who is now running the most dishonorable campaign since I've been involved in politics.
The American people want to hear about issues, not about sleaze. And yet, John McCain, who lately you never see by himself, interestingly enough, is running an ad, right now, that accuses me, a father of two young girls, of wanting sex ed taught to kindegartners. Lies. Damned lies. And John McCain knows they're lies. He's adopted the same Karl Rove smear tactics, using the same people, including Karl Rove himself, that smeared him in 2000. And he's hiding behind his running mate to play the gender card, when throughout his quarter century in Washington, he can't name one thing -- not one thing -- that he's done to demonstrate that he cares about women in this country.
If John McCain wants to debate me about sexism, he should let Sarah Palin do her job as his vice presidential nominee, which I'm quite sure she's capable of doing, unhitch himself from her celebrity status, which is the only thing carrying him in this campaign now, and come talk to me one on one. Until then, Maybe John should look up 'honor' in one of his books. He might need a refresher course."
And then he should turn around, and walk the hell off camera.
What Obama needs right now, to cut through the noise and foolishness of this campaign, is a moment of genuine anger, emotion, and outrage. He's long overdue. He needs to, as they say in the neighborhood, "get gully" with McCain. Call the geezer on the carpet, man to man. That would shore him up with men, whom he's already doing better with, according to the new NBC/WSJ poll, thanks to the McCain camp's overplaying the "I am woman, hear me roar" card. And it would help him with women, myself included, who want to see that the professor can knuckle up.
Call that press conference, Barack. Do it today. By yourself, with no array of women surrogates standing behind you. Just you. If John McCain respods by going bat crap crazy, you win. Hit him on temperament. If his press flaks issue yet another "noun, verb and POW" statement knocking you, have your press team issue one that says "there you go again." If he says, "I'll tell you what I've done for women, I named Sarah Palin as my vice president!" Your female surrogates hit the talk circuit and ask, "is John McCain saying he only picked Sarah Palin because she's a woman, and not because of her qualifications to be president?"
You'll lead every newscast, and force the press corps to ask McCain to respond to your charges against him, one day before he has to stand next to you at that 9/11 ceremony. Oh yeah, his convention exploited that tragedy, too.
UPDATE: Drudge has a headline that indicates Obama may be reading my mind...
On second thought, it may not be "niceness" or weakness, as some frustrated observers (myself included) have assumed as this wearying general election drags on, that may be main problem. It may be overconfidence, and a certain dismissiveness about the racial dynamic in America. Listen to what Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told members of John McCain's traveling circus yesterday:
“There’s a lot of hyperventilating about national polls,” Plouffe said, which wasn’t a surprise since both a CBS News poll and the Gallup daily tracking poll showed McCain taking the lead nationally in the presidential race. “When you look at battleground states, we feel very good about where we are.”
Plouffe argued that McCain has “jettisoned the idea” that this election is about experience with selection of first term governor Sarah Palin on the ticket. McCain is now trying to make the election about change, Plouffe said, and “that’s a debate we’re happy to have.”
So why aren't you having it, man? The Obama campaign hasn't taken the race to McCain YET, and we're 56 days from D-day. Worse, they've allowed the McCain campaign to remain on offense, and to dictate the daily news message, even before the Palin pick. Now let's hear why Plouffe is so confident. Two words: ground game:
Plouffe said the election would boil down to which campaign could appeal to undecided voters in battleground states and who could bring out the highest turnout numbers. “We have a huge ability to grow turnout,” he said. “We have a more credible path to 270 [electoral votes, the number it takes to win] than McCain does.”
Of course, he's right that Team Obama has a superior ground operation. The one here in Florida is something to see, even if it is run by the eternally flat and out-gunned Florida Democratic Party. But what Plouffe is discounting, apparently, is the Republican's trump card, which before the Palin selection, wasn't McCain's to play: evangelicals. They were tepid about McCain until Palin was chosen, but now, they're electrified by the chance to put a woman who speaks in tongues one heart attack away from power (watch for them to begin believing on God for a McCain heart attack if he gets elected...) That means they will get their churchmembers out on election day. Believe that. (And yes, Focus on the Family does operate here in Florida, where we've also got a marriage amendment on the ballot...)
Now, look at what Plouffe said about the impact of race on the cmapaign:
Both campaigns have attempted to take race out of the campaign, and Plouffe rejected the notion of a “Bradley effect” – voters telling pollsters they would vote for a black candidate, but changing their mind in the voting booth. “Swing voters that are up for grabs are not going to factor race into the equation,” he said.
Sorry, but this sounds exactly like the stuff Plouffe said when he addressed supporters at a private event here in Miami early in the primary, when it looked as if Obama wouldn't be able to put Hillary Clinton's campaign away. Of course, at that time, Plouffe's confidence was justified. But as aggressive and skilled at political marketing as they are, the Clintons have nothing on the ruthlessness of the Karl Rove street gang masquerading as the Republican Party. For Plouffe to continue to be as nonchalant about the very real shifting dynamics in this race is, to say the least, troubling. White women are now very much in play for McCain. Evangelical voters are a lock. And the idea that "both campaigns" have pushed aside race is laughable. Hell, the entire subtext of the McCain campaign is, "look at this flower of white, Christian womanhood. Wouldn't you rather have her, and her red-blooded American family, in the White House, instead of Militant Michelle and Mr. 'community organizer,' foreign, elite, undercover Muslim 'Obama'?"
With Palin on the ticket, rural and even suburban white voters, like the ones I grew up around in Colorado, or who I've encountered in Wyoming, Utah (yeah, I'm black, but I've been there), Texas and Florida, now have a cover story for their race-based vote: "we're makin' history by putting a woman in, see?" Many will fall right through that trap door, and never have to admit they rejected Obama because of race. Obama and his team can discount race all they want to. It's there, baby. In a big way. And if he's counting on perennially underperforming black and young voters to neutralize the race factor and bring it home for him, he's in bigger trouble than he knows. (Earth to Obama: some Hispanic voters are gonna deep six you because of race, too...)
Bottom line: as much as I like and respect the Obama team members I know here in Florida, and as hard as I'm rooting for them, Obama's team is way too confident, not nearly aggressive enough, and not even close to consolidating a strong, coherent marketing message.
Back when I first graduated college and was working as a beverage industry analyst in the early 90s, I learned the following lesson about the cola wars: Coke is the de facto cola, all over the world, and the market share leader, because when Pepsi tries to market itself as the de facto cola, the Coca-Cola Company squashes them like a bug. They are aggressive at retail, pushing stores to feature Coke, not Pepsi, displays, they are aggressive advertisers, and ruthless price-cutters who win by putting their products at arms length, no matter where you are, what time of day it is, or what you're thirstry for. Coke achieved what you might call "full spectrum dominance" in the soft drink market by crowding out any possibility of message theft, and by co-opting whatever good messaging Pepsi comes up with. This despite the fact that Coke usually loses to Pepsi (and RC Cola and Sam's Club Soda) in taste tests. Go figure. The Republicans are looking like Coca-Cola in this campaign. Better marketers, more message discipline, more aggressiveness, product? Who said anything about the product?
I hate to say it, but this is looking, sounding, and feeling more and more like 2004 every day, and the Obama candidacy more and more like John Kerry's. I watched that mess unfold from my job working for a national 527 here in Florida, and I'm getting the same sinking feeling now that I had then.That's not what Democrats want to hear right now, but it's real (and the proof, Unfortunately, is in the fundraising...)
I'm literally being driven insane by the Barack Obama campaign. Literally. The nicey-nicey approach, the courtliness, the inability to use the word "lie..." the 11 days they've allowed the superior marketers in the McCain campaign to positively define Sarah Palin, the failure to capitalize on early focus groups showed she tested poorly with undecided voters... all of it represents wasted opportunities for Team Obama due to poor messaging and lack of aggressiveness, and that's bloody frustrating in a year when we're facing the possibility of four more years of Bush policies and evangelical nonsense in the White House.
That said, and after watching Olbermann last night practically giving Obama campaign advice (um ... might you want to attack...? Ya think???) the Obama camp may finally be getting the message.
They've produced their first really direct attack ad of the campaign. Here it is:
Good ad. Now the Obama people need to follow it up by going on offense, every day, pushing back hard at the Palin-loving media, and stomping a mud-hole in the McCain-Palin ticket. It really is this simple: there is no new politics. There's politics. And the candidate with the more disciplined, aggressive messaging wins. Right now, the McCain team is playing kick-ball, while the Obama team is playing croquet. Get in the game, people, or watch the geezer and the church lady take the oath of office in January.
The latest Gallup daily tracking poll shows John McCain moving ahead of Barack Obama 50% to 46%. Since Friday, Obama has lost one point, but McCain has gained seven. Among "likely voters," the poll has McCain up by ten points. That's what you call a bounce (unimpeded by the Bradley effect.)
Republican enthusiasm has jumped from 42% at the end of August to 60% now. Democratic enthusiasm is higher, at 67%. Clearly, Sarah Palin is making a difference.
The question is, who is she making a difference with? Base voters, or swing voters? Signs point to the former. Let's see how long McCain holds that number, and if he's able to grow beyond 50%.
Shared thoughts from the New York Times op-ed page
In the Sunday paper, Frank Rich was feeling what I'm feeling (that Sarah Palin's pick shows how truly scary and sad John McCain has become) but MoDo is thinking what I'm thinking: that the way things are going, including the blithe lack of urgency that, frankly, is emanating from the Obama campaign, this country is in big trouble; and four years from now, the presidential race is going to include more hair pulling than "America's Next Top Model." Perhaps I'll be living in England by then.
I had two friends today tell me that they thought last night's raucous GOP convention reminded them of a Klan rally -- between the sea of old, white faces in the crowd, and the angry, taunting speeches on the dais (and the crowd's Germany c.a. 1939 response...)
Well if you thought this election was not going to be about race, you must be completely cocooned in your state of Obama-love. Outside the bubble, we all know what-a-gwan.
Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland used the racially-tinged term "uppity" to describe Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama Thursday.
Westmoreland was discussing vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's speech with reporters outside the House chamber and was asked to compare her with Michelle Obama.
"Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they're a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they're uppity," Westmoreland said.
Asked to clarify that he used the word “uppity,” Westmoreland said, “Uppity, yeah.”
Said it, meant it. Yup-yup... and remember the time ...?
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said that Obama's middle name – Hussein – is relevant to the public discourse surrounding his candidacy, saying in March that if Obama were elected, "Then the radical Islamists, the al Qaeda, the radical Islamists and their supporters, will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11 because they will declare victory in this War on Terror."
At an April 12 event in his district, Kentucky Rep. Geoff Davis (R) said of Obama: “I’m going to tell you something: That boy’s finger does not need to be on the button. He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country.”
Georgia is a southern state Obama is playing hard for. Iowa is one he's winning. It's sad to say, but there are still some white folks in this country who can't abide the thought of a black man leading the nation, and who want to preserve the literal meaning of "White House." Do me a favor and throw Sean Hannity into that bucket, would you? "Take the bone out of your nose" Limbaugh, too. And particularly for older white women (a minority, hopefully...) who feel that way, Sarah Palin is the trap door that allows them to "make history," just like the Obama voters, and in their own minds, prove they're not the retrograde throwbacks that they are. Time to keep it real.
The ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee is seeking information from the nonprofit University of Chicago Medical Center about jobs held by Sen. Barack Obama's wife and one of the senator's best friends.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa on Friday sent the center a letter saying he was "troubled" by recent news reports about the hospital's efforts to steer patients with non-urgent complaints away from the center's emergency room to local clinics. Michelle Obama was a key figure behind the initiative.
The letter, which Grassley released to the public yesterday, does not directly mention the Democratic presidential nominee, his wife or his campaign. Grassley asked for financial data, board minutes and other documents related to hiring, job promotion, business contracting and care for the poor.
Are taxpayer dollars being spent in pursuit of politics? Look into it, Dems...