Saturday, August 30, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
However, I have to say that the speech didn't do as much for me as Biden's. I know that I am in the minority on this, but I honestly choked up a couple of times when I saw it. I didn't get the same feeling from Obama's speech, although I have felt that way with other speeches.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The Democratic convention in Atlanta witnessed even more tumult from the second-place finisher when Jesse Jackson, furious at being passed over for the vice-presidential slot by the party's nominee, Michael Dukakis (who failed to call Jackson and tell him the VP news), threatened to withhold his delegates' support from the party's nominee. In fact, just hours before the convention began, Jackson's supporters threatened to place the candidate's name into nomination for the vice presidency, which would have created a massive floor fight between Jackson and Dukakis' pick, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas.
Pre-convention tension grew so heated that the mild-mannered Dukakis was quoted as saying, "I don't care what Jesse Jackson does. I'm going to this convention and I'm going to win." During his convention keynote address, which lasted nearly an hour -- much longer than expected, Jackson did not specifically endorse Dukakis.
Looks like they have.
This is the line that needs to get burned into the minds of voters:
“He has a huge anger problem,” Boxer said. “And he never hid that. ... I have seen it happen on the Senate floor many, many times. … He has exploded at me a couple times.”
Boxer said McCain has always apologized after the dust-ups. Nonetheless, she insinuated that McCain’s temperament makes him unfit for the White House.
“It’s all well and good to apologize,” Boxer added, “but if you are in charge of that black box, I worry about that.”
Like most media narratives, I fear that they have latched onto an idea and will never give it up. Hillary and Bill Clinton will heap praise upon Obama. 99% of her supporters at the convention will support Obama. Each of the speakers will talk about how united the party is. Yet the only thing that will come of this is that this is a party in crisis. The media will find support for this narrative by finding one or two camera hungry Clintion delegates and trot them out for a zillion interviews. Thus proving that the party is irrevocably harmed.
Monday, August 25, 2008
I think the speech will touch a lot of people who are unfamiliar with the real story of this family and it's interesting because the pundits commenting on this speech don't get that. If Michele had driven on to the stage with in a red pickup truck, that would have signaled 'Real American' to them. Unfortunately, she sort of walked up on stage which means that, of course, she is an elitist.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Barack Obama's public image has eroded this summer amid a daily onslaught of attacks from Republican rival John McCain, leaving the race for the White House statistically tied, according to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll released today.
Far more voters say McCain has the right experience to be president, the poll found. More than a third have questions about Obama's patriotism.
I think a lot of Obama supporters (myself included) have been worried about Obama's lack of a counter attack in this campaign. Much like Kerry and the Swift Boat attacks in 2004, Obama has been absolutely silent this August and really needs to hit back. Unfortunately, it seems that he has taken the 'please stop kicking sand in my face' approach (from earlier today):
Barack Obama is giving his speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars right now. With some Dems questioning whether he's hitting back hard enough against John McCain's attacks, Obama went out of his way to directly confront McCain's claim that he would rather lose a war than lose an election.
The problem with this strategy is that it still plays into McCain's frame. It is still allowing for the discussion of whether Obama is patriotic. Instead of this feeble response, Obama needs to hit back hard. He needs to equate McCain with Bush, he needs to show the country that McCain is a pampered rich guy, he needs to openly question McCain's mental status. This is how you fight against these people.
Which is funny, because after 22 years of serving together in Washington- McCain has NEVER reached out to him before.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Back in 2002, the rationale for going to war was incredibly flimsy. If you looked at the case that was presented by the Bush administration and weighed the evidence thoughtfully, there was very little reason to support the war. There was no terrorist connection, there was no link to 9-11 and the existence of stockpiles of WMDs was doubtful. Similarly, McCain is an exceptionally weak candidate. If you look at what he offers, it becomes abundantly clear that he is simply not a good fit for this country. Many of the policies that he embraces are ill conceived (e.g. gas tax moratorium), downright destructive (e.g. harsh stance towards Russia) or unpopular (e.g. support for Bush Tax cut).
However, just like in 2002, it is nearly impossible to get at the meat of the issue. One thing that the McCain campaign does is exploit personal tragedy to avoid criticism. Case in point, when asked whether McCain was in the 'cone of silence' during the forum at Saddleback, the campaign response was:
“The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous,”
This is not the first time that the McCain has used this tactic during the campaign (see here), and it brings to mind the tragedy of 9-11 to thwart criticism of the war. We were constantly reminded of the 3,000 deaths suffered on that day, especially when anyone would point out that the rationale for the war was not as strong as it should have been.
Another tactic is the impugning of motives for those that oppose McCain's candidacy. As noted by Josh Marshall, McCain has repeatedly stated that Obama is committing treason so that he can win an election- which is eerily similar to the tactic commonly used by war supporters in 2002. While now it has become a joke (i.e. "Why do you hate America?"), many commentators would ask why 'opponents would want to undermine the troops' or 'let the terrorists win'.
Lastly, there is the suggestion that questioning McCain's credentials means that you are unpatriotic. As we all learned from the Wes Clark dust-up, asking whether McCain's military background matters is strictly forbidden. We have also had no mainstream coverage of the Solzhenitsyn issue which, as I noted yesterday, is to be expected since asking about it would mean that you are unpatriotic. This matches perfectly with what happened to many critics of the war in 2002 (e.g. Phil Donahue, Dixie Chicks), as they were vilified for opposing the war and speaking their mind.
My hope is that this trend can be reversed, but in all likelihood, public discourse will remain unchanged. I see no evidence that the traditional media will change their ways and fight through the BS. I only hope that voters are wise enough to see the difference.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
On and on it goes...
Friday, August 15, 2008
One of the great threats we face is the personal sense of grandiosity of the lead foreign hands who shape the course of our role in the world. Not national grandiosity, but personal grandiosity. Because if you're a foreign policy hand or political leader your own quest for greatness is constrained by whether or not you live in times of grand historical events.As I have been watching this all unfold, I have gotten increasingly worried that the press will fall into the McCain as leader meme that he is just itching to play. They so much want to believe that they are all living in a grand historical moment, and all they need to complete this is a grand historical figure that can lead us through it.
There's a lot of this nonsense floating around today by pampered commentators who want to find a new world historical conflict to write bracing commentary about before we're done with the one from last week. But John McCain might be president in six months. And whether it's his own shaky judgment, temperament or just the desire to find a campaign issue, this loose cannon is a real threat to this country.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
This is really starting to annoy me. Saying "San Francisco mentality" and derisively calling someone "a French-speaking socialist from Boston, Massaschusetts," and refering to Hawaii as "foreign" is considered completely appropriate for public discourse in this country. They issue these little bon mots in a derisive tone, suggesting that anyplace that votes in a somewhat liberal fashion (even though they often vote Republican too) is somehow unAmerican. And yes, I realize that there are liberals who are rude and dismissive of Southerners, but you don't hear it coming from politicians or media figures. They wouldn't dare say anything like this about Mississippi or South Carolina in public.She is absolutely right about this, for quite some time it has been absolutely unthinkable in popular discourse to cast the same sort of derision on these areas of the country or cultural type. I am not saying that it should be welcome on either side, but what is good for the goose is certainly good for the gander. For every pundit that calls liberals unAmerican, there should be some mention made of the large group of Americans that believe in the Rapture or deny global warming.
I know that makes me an elitist, but for those people who purposefully shut themselves off from reason I think it is deserved.
I know that sounds rather stupid, but it really seems like they believe that war exists purely to give their lives meaning.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Sixteen years ago, the Democratic Party refused to allow Robert P. Casey Sr., then the governor of Pennsylvania, to speak at its national convention because his anti-abortion views, stemming from his Roman Catholic faith, clashed with the party’s platform and powerful constituencies. Many Catholics, once a reliable Democratic voting bloc, never forgot what they considered a slight.I mean really, I would challenge the Times to present 50 Catholics who won't vote for Obama because Bob Casey Sr. didn't speak at the Democratic convention in 1992.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Last Friday, police in Des Moines, Iowa arrested four people who attempted to make a citizens’ arrest of former top White House aide Karl Rove, who was in town to speak at a GOP fundraiser. A retired minister and three members of the Des Moines Catholic Workers community were cited for trespassing. However, according to a press release, the judge presiding over the case praised their efforts:
[Mona] Shaw was the first called before Polk County Fifth Judicial District Associate Judge William Price.
After entering her plea, the judge asked Shaw, “Mamn, what were you doing at the Wakonda Country Club?”
“I was attempting to make a citizen’s arrest of Karl Rove, your honor,” Shaw answered.
“Well,” the judge looked up and said, “it’s about time.”
Here is what bothers me, the American people are entirely sick of the Bush Administration and of the Republican party. They know how badly the policies and politics of this party have hurt the country. Unfortunately, we have a modern press discourse which wants to completely ignore this. They want this election to be about the petty issues or about how the completely fictitious "Real Americans" (as conceived of by David Broder and the rest of the pundit class thinks) are looking at this election. It is this power of the media, their ability to set the agenda for the election, that matters and how it might ultimately doom us all.
In general, I try to avoid all of this and am really fortunate that I live without a television. But, it is unavoidable to completely sequester myself from all of this crap. Whenever, I do see this stuff, I feel incredibly disconnected from all of it. As I view this election, I see a candidate (McCain) who cannot feasibly win and this is without considering the 'image stuff' (i.e. that he is old and awkward). He shouldn't be anywhere close to Obama when you look at the policies he is advocating and how poorly thought out they are and/or unrealistic to carry out. For instance, his expressed belief that he will balance the budget by winning the war in Iraq, his unrealistic belief that we can secure Afghanistan AND Iraq at the same time with troops that appear out of thin air, his advocating a gas tax, as well as offshore oil drilling, that will do nothing for the American consumer and his absolute refusal to consider the economic hardships that most Americans face. Furthermore, he is running with the legacy of the most incompetent presidency of all time and with a party that has shown itself to be inequipped to run the country.
Of course, I think that the Obama campaign must share a modicum of the blame here- but on the whole, I believe that it is the sheer incompetency of the 'new' press (by this I mean the press, as it has come to operate since the inception of Fox News) which shoulders the lion's share of the blame. They behave like children with undiagnosed ADHD and will focus on whatever shiny thing is laid out in front of them, they offer judgment on the issues by not offering judgment and they will debate, endlessly, any talking point which is shoved in their face.
That is all, time to get off of the ledge.