John McCain has said before that he'd rather win a war than a Presidential election. And he's all but said that Barack Obama is willing to lose a war if it means being elected President. With House Republicans and Senator McCain killing any hope of saving this nation's economy from almost certain catastrophe (and after reading and listening to some of the smartest minds in the world discuss what might happen if this deal doesn't get done, catastrophe is no overstatement), the Democrats must save this country's financial system. There are enough votes in the Senate to pass a bailout plan. There are enough votes in the House to pass a bailout plan. And the President is prepared to sign a bailout plan. The only thing standing in the way other than John McCain? Politics.
See, Democrats want to pass the bailout and save the country's financial system from ruin. But, the plan, no thanks to an unpopular President with next to no credibility and no ability to convince the American people of anything, has been completely botched in its presentation to the American people. Is it bailing out Wall Street? Absolutely. But, that doesn't mean the plan is helping out risky executives while leaving American taxpayers out in the cold. It's bailing out Wall Street to get credit moving again and to get banks lending again and to stop businesses from failing, banks from closing, and people in their homes. And it's not "spending" $700 billion. It's investing it, in assets which should eventually turn a profit for the country. Is it a risk? Yes. But, unless we enter a second Great Depression, we won't lose everything. But the American people don't understand that, and they either don't understand the bailout or viscerally oppose it, in large part because they don't understand the consequences of not supporting it.
So why won't the Democrats pass the bailout and save the world? Because they are afraid it won't work. And because the plan has been so mis-sold, and is so unpopular, the Democrats are afraid to go it alone. Well, sometimes, you have to lose an election to win a war. Sometimes you have to make a decision you know is right even if it's unpopular.
Screw the House Republicans. They were never on board to begin with and they likely never were going to be. And don't you dare let John McCain, in a disgustingly partisan press release blame Senator Obama for the breakdown in negotiations. Had John McCain not shown up in Washington, this deal may have been done by now. Instead, it's a boondoggle threatening the world economy. Because John McCain wanted to look "Presidential" because his campaign was failing. Yeah, he really puts "Country First."
Pass the plan tomorrow without the House Republicans. Save the country worry about the politics later. If the Democrats have the votes, and they are afraid to exercise them because the Republicans won't give them cover, then everyone involved deserves blame. Saving our economy should come first, even if that means going it alone.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
John McCain has said before that he'd rather win a war than a Presidential election. And he's all but said that Barack Obama is willing to lose a war if it means being elected President. With House Republicans and Senator McCain killing any hope of saving this nation's economy from almost certain catastrophe (and after reading and listening to some of the smartest minds in the world discuss what might happen if this deal doesn't get done, catastrophe is no overstatement), the Democrats must save this country's financial system. There are enough votes in the Senate to pass a bailout plan. There are enough votes in the House to pass a bailout plan. And the President is prepared to sign a bailout plan. The only thing standing in the way other than John McCain? Politics.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
...If you even dare ask about Governor Sarah Palin's foreign policy experience (or lackthereof) the question is so out-of-bounds, so sexist (even when it comes from a woman, Campbell Brown) that John McCain was so offended that he jilted Larry King of all people, canceling a scheduled interview on Larry King Live after Campbell Brown dared ask the question. Give me a break. A few months after Sarah Palin called Hillary Clinton a "whiner" because her campaign was complaining about sexism (saying such comments did women a disservice), the McCain-Palin campaign has decided that any criticism of Palin, no matter how substantive, is sexism.
The fact that she was for the bridge to nowhere before she was against it? Can't bring that up, that's sexism. The fact that her town of 6,500 people received almost $30 million in earmarks? Can't go there. How about her abuse of power in firing a public safety commissioner after he refused to fire her brother in law? Or her and her husband's support of the Alaska Independence Party, which wants a vote on succeeding from the Union and whose founder has damned America and said he would refuse to be buried in the US flag? Or, today's news that Palin's church, while Palin was present, allowed an anti-Jewish group to preach. In August, while Palin was in the pews, Palin's pastor turned over the pulpit to the founder of "Jews for Jesus" which aims to covert those of the Jewish faith, and who said, in front of Palin, that terror attacks on Israel were God's wrath against uncoverted Jews. I can't make this up.
An illustration of that gap came just two weeks ago, when Palin’s church, the Wasilla Bible Church, gave its pulpit over to a figure viewed with deep hostility by many Jewish organizations: David Brickner, the founder of Jews for Jesus.
Palin’s pastor, Larry Kroon, introduced Brickner on Aug. 17, according to a transcript of the sermon on the church’s website.
“He’s a leader of Jews for Jesus, a ministry that is out on the leading edge in a pressing, demanding area of witnessing and evangelism,” Kroon said.
[ . . . . ] Brickner also described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God's "judgment of unbelief" of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity.
Why do I think that Sean Hannity, who spent months railing against Barack Obama (even demanding that he resign from the Senate) because of his association with Jerimiah Wright, won't be talking about how Palin should have walked out of her church, and how Palin should have stood up to her pastor. And worse than Obama, she was there that day in August when the Jews for Jesus founder spoke about how those who are Jewish have a "difficult time understanding the reality" that they need to convert to Christianity.
But, I'm sure bringing this up just makes me sexist. Just one question then before I go. Does questioning Barack Obama's relationship with Reverend Wright or his lack of experience make Republicans racist?
Monday, September 1, 2008
John McCain has gotten a lot of credit in recent days, and deservedly so, for choosing to curtail part of the Republican National Convention in deference to the people of New Orleans the related areas who at this time are being hammered by the remnants of Hurricane Gustav. Good for McCain. He absolutely deserves credit for that. While it's also the right thing to do politically (attacking Obama and celebrating while a hurricane is punishing part of America doesn't work) McCain is paying a price for this decision, as his party will not get the chance to get their message out on an equal basis like the Democrats did last week.
But, let's not kid ourselves, the McCain campaign absolutely is playing politics with the hurricane. And in many ways, what they accomplished today, and the news they buried today, by making it public on the same day all the newspapers, cable news networks, and evening newscasts are focused on the hurricane, was worth so much more than anything they could have gained from tonight's scheduled convention speeches from the vastly unpopular Dick Cheney and George W. Bush.
What news did the McCain campaign release today that each could have been big stories, and could have been very damaging to the campaign? Three dings to the Vice President nobody (including, apparently, the McCain campaign) knows anything about. First was word that Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. And, I agree with what Barack Obama said earlier today that families should be off-limit in Presidential campaigns. The story here isn't that Palin's daughter is pregnant, that's a private family matter. It's how McCain could trust somebody with the future of the country that he knows so little about, and that he's still learning about.
One thing perhaps he didn't know, which was also very quietly released today, was news that Palin's husband was arrested for DUI in 1986. Now does a candidate's husband's mistake as a 22-year-old disqualify that candidate from seeking higher office? Of course not. But there's no coincidence the news was released today when it would get absolutely zero attention because of the hurricane.
And then there was the late breaking news that Palin has hired a private attorney for herself and her staff related to allegations she fired an Alaska Public Safety Comissioner who refused to fire Palin's ex-brother-in-law. As Dan Abrams said on MSNBC this afternoon, it makes a lot of sense that Palin would hire a lawyer (especially since her deposition is likely to be taken in the next few weeks) and there's nothing inherently suspicious about doing so (in fact, it's the right and smart thing to do). But, again, politically, it won't look good. And there's no question the release of the news late this afternoon was done purposefully as to be buried by the hurricane coverage.
Was the McCain campaign smart to release these news items today? Absolutely. No question. But let's not pretend that the timing was simply coincidental or that the McCain campaign wasn't trying to take advantage of the news dead zone the hurricane provided them to release these stories.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
As I was watching Barack Obama's equally awe-inspiring and uplifting acceptance speech Thursday night, a particular line jumped out at me. It's not that John McCain doesn't care, Obama argued, it's that John McCain doesn't get it. I turned to my buddy Dave with whom I was watching the speech, and I said, he just turned into Andrew Shepherd. Shepherd, of course, was Aaron Sorkin's President in The American President, played perfectly by Michael Douglas. After enduring a movie-full of negative character attacks by his Republican opponent, in the climax of the movie, Shepherd, after trying to take the high road the entire film lashes out in the press briefing room, with an awe-inspiring and uplifting response to the attacks. One of the key lines?
I've known Bob Rumson for years. And I've been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy yelling into the rain is because he simply didn't get it. Well I was wrong. Bob's problem isn't that he doesn't get it. Bob's problem is he can't sell it.
And I laughed afterwards when both Brian Williams and Keith Olbermann on MSNBC noted the very same point about Sorkin's words. Well, there are more lessons to be learned from Aaron Sorkin, this time about John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his Vice President.
During the third season of The West Wing, as Martin Sheen's President Josiah a Bartlet was preparing to run for a second term, the question came up about whether he should replace his Vice President on the ticket. Texas, the state the Vice President carried in the election for Bartlet four years ago was no longer in play, and the two never got along and often clashed. So the whole episode, Bartlet's west wing team held closed door meetings, debating whom could replace the Vice President. But, at the end of the episode, President Bartlet put a stop the speculation and reaffirmed his commitment to his Vice President. Why? Because when it comes to selecting a Vice President, only four words really matter.
And what are those four words?
LEO: I think that issue is probably worth further discussion but we're done talking about the ticket. The President's made it very clear that he wants the Vice President to remain the Vice President and he wrote down his one and only reason.
[He pulls out the paper and hands it to Josh.]
JOSH: "Because I could die." Well, of course he's right, sir.
Because I Could Die. That's why you pick a Vice President, who while he or she may sure up your weaknesses, or help you electorally, at the end of the day, is somebody you are supremely confident could lead the country, and in many ways the world. It's a lesson Barack Obama took to heart. He could have chosen Virginia Governor Tim Kaine as his running mate. The two are very close personally, Obama trusts Kaine (in some ways perhaps more than the man he selected, Joe Biden), he may have helped Obama carry Virginia, and he re-enforced Obama's message of change. But, Kaine had serious questions about his experience (he's only been Governor of Virginia for one term and had little-to-no foreign policy experience) so Obama went in a different direction, and his choice of Biden (no offense to Kaine) was in the better interest of the country. John McCain didn't heed that lesson, and chose a Vice President who in no way would be qualified or ready to be President tomorrow.
Governor Palin may have a lot of positive attributes but she John McCain failed President Bartlet's and Aaron Sorkin's only test for the selection of the Vice President. "Because I Could Die." It's four words John McCain should have thought about before he named a Vice President he met just one time, and spoke with about the Vice Presidency, on the phone, just once. It's about putting the country first, instead of one's political or personal ambitions. And it's another example of why John McCain's judgment and temperament are not suited for the Oval Office.
Friday, August 29, 2008
There's a lot to like about John McCain's Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin. She has challenged her own party on ethics and other issues. She's smart and tough, and getting new blood in Washington is never a bad thing. But, that means she'd make a good Senator. Vice President? At 44, having been Governor of one of the smallest states in the Union (population wise) for less than two years, and having been mayor of a town of just 6,500 people before that, and with no interest in foreign policy (she's been quoted as saying she doesn't know anything about the conditions in Iraq related to our exiting the country) she is nowhere near "ready to lead" (to steal a McCain phrase).
Yet John McCain has put her one heartbeat away from the Presidency. This is despite meeting her just one time, just six months ago (!) and having talked with her about the Vice Presidency exactly one (!) time (on the phone no less). Apparently it's harder to get hired at a fast food restaurant than it is to be named the second most powerful person in the world in John McCain's administration. And while that's not completely fair (I'm sure there was a thorough vetting process which took place) it's not completely unfair either. In many ways, this bothers me more than anything else about the Palin pick, even her inexperience.
The selection of Vice President is often seen as a political gambit, but in many ways, it has to be about putting "County First" to use John McCain's own campaign slogan. Because the Vice President is one heartbeat away from running the free world, ensuring that the Vice President, more than anything else, is qualified to be President, has to be the first quality satisfied. Should something happen to the President, the country has to know that the Vice President is capable of taking over immediately. And how can John McCain know that Sarah Palin is ready? How do you not meet and interview the person, in-person? How do you only speak to the person ONE time about the job? How can you be sure that Sarah Palin is best for the country having hardly spoken to her. If John McCain allows his staff to make this decision for him (and if they didn't, they certainly must have played an extraordinary large role given the lack of personal contact between McCain and Palin) what other critical decisions will McCain similarly have little input on as President? He didn't just pick somebody the country doesn't know very well. He picked someone whom he doesn't know very well. How could he? He's met or spoken to her just twice in his entire life.
As Paul Begala put it so well yesterday night on Larry King, would you entrust your children, if something happened to you, to somebody who you met one time at a luncheon and with whom you've spoken with one time, on the phone, about raising your kids? That would sound absurd. Yet John McCain has entrusted the future of over 300 million Americans (and in many ways, the future of the world) to Sarah Palin, despite not knowing her at all. She may turn out to be a tremendous Vice President, but how can John McCain know that for sure? How can he gamble with the country's future like this?
This shows me a real lack of consideration on John McCain's part which really concerns me about how he'll make decisions if he becomes President. His lack of personal engagement is remarkable in a decision this important.
And what about Palin's stances on the issues? We already know, based on her past statements, that she knows very little about foreign policy. She's fiercely pro-life (going so far as to say she wouldn't allow abortions even in cases of rape and incest), is a life long member of the NRA, and has talked favorably about requiring schools to teach creationism in public schools. And she has a very thin (and questionable) record on Israel. Both her and her husband were fundraisers for Pat Buchanan when he ran for President (he proudly admitted that on MSNBC tonight, giving Palin a stronger Buchanan connection than Politco's Ben Smith earlier believed) and while I enjoy watching Buchanan on MSNBC and think he's very knowledgeable about political issues, he has never been a strong (or any kind) of real friend of Israel. I can't imagine that's going to play well in the very swing state of Florida, where Obama has shown surprising strength.
John McCain needed to follow his own slogan and put "County First" with his Vice Presidential pick. It's what Barack Obama did. There is no question that should something happen where Barack cannot continue as President, Joe Biden is ready and qualified to be President. John McCain, on the other hand, selected a woman with an extraordinarily thin resume whom he hardly knows. And this is after spending months convincing America that Barack Obama is not ready to lead. With the way he made his choice (even more than the choice itself), John McCain certainly did not put his "Country First."
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I was thinking today, could Barack Obama's secret weapon against John McCain be none other than former Pennsylvania Governor and first Homeland Security Secretary, Republican Tom Ridge? May not be as crazy as it first sounds. Here's why.
As Marc Ambinder brilliantly points out today over at the Atlantic, John Mccain is running into a real problem with his choices for Vice President. A week ago, Mitt Romney was the odds on favorite, and I was a firm believer that even if McCain didn't like or trust Romney, he still had to pick him politically. Romney, because of his Michigan connections, would give McCain a coin-flip (or better) chance to win here (and Barack Obama, barring a very strange election, cannot win without Michigan) and Romney also could put both Colorado and Nevada, two traditionally Republican states Obama is showing real strength in, out of reach by maximizing Mormon turnout. But, Romney's chances took a real hit when McCain made his housing gaffe last week. After being painted as out-of-touch with middle-class Americans, can McCain really put Mitt Romney, worth north of $250 million, on the ticket without playing right into Obama's hands? And not only that, look at the ads McCain has run since Joe Biden was named as Vice President. Ads of Biden and Clinton bashing Obama. Mitt Romney said much worse things about John McCain during the Republican primary. And even worse, McCain said horrible things about Romney. Imagine those ads. And McCain opened the door by running his anti-Obama ads starring Joe Biden.
And as Ambinder notes, even the other supposed finalist, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, doesn't look that attractive anymore now that Biden is Obama's VP. Pawlenty, aside from being as inexperienced (if not more so) than Obama, would be eaten alive by Biden in the Vice Presidential debate (just as John Edwards was by Dick Cheney in 2004). And how can McCain continue to attack Obama for not being ready to lead, and then pick Pawlenty as his second in command?
So how does Tom Ridge play into all of this? In his heart of hearts, McCain would almost certainly choose Ridge as his VP. The two are very close, Ridge has both executive experience (Homeland Security Secretary and as Governor of Pennsylvania) and knows Washington well enough to help get things done on the Hill. Plus, electorally, he puts Pennsylvania very much in play, and if McCain wins Pennsylvania, just as does if he wins Michigan, he makes the electoral math very very difficult for Obama. The problem with Ridge? Just one. He's pro-choice. And the so-called "Maverick" of politics has given in to the right-wing of his party and has eliminated Ridge from consideration.
As soon as McCain names his VP, especially if it's Romney, Obama needs to come out with a Tom Ridge ad, very much in the same vein as McCain's ad today about Hillary Clinton and the Vice Presidency. The ad needs to tout Ridge's credentials, his closeness to McCain, and then ask "So why is he not on the ticket? Because he's pro-choice and John McCain gave into the right wing of his party and chose ____ instead. Some Maverick." Or something like that. Maybe "Is he looking out for your values or theirs" while flashing pictures of George Bush and Dick Cheney.
The ad would accomplish multiple goals. First, it would remind women, especially those Hillary supporters, that McCain is staunchly pro-life. Because of his "moderate" imagine, many women wrongly believe McCain is pro-choice, and because of that, they find him easier to support, especially given their feelings about the Hillary Clinton-Obama primary. This would show them how pro-life he really is. Secondly, it would show that McCain is giving in to the far right, and doing so against his own better judgment, and in many ways, against what's best for the country. And it would instantly create credibility questions about McCain's decision making process.
Would it last long in this era of a 24-hour news cycle? Maybe. But it would make a powerful point, and maybe help change the public's perception of John McCain.
As I was watching MSNBC's coverage of the Barack Obama-Joe Biden unveiling yesterday (after I got home from the Lions 26-6 victory over Cleveland, thank God for DVRs) I got to thinking. While the McCain campaign's original ad in response to Obama picking Biden was utterly predictable (a clip of Biden attacking Obama at a debate for being inexperienced followed by Biden praising McCain) I thought that if the McCain campaign was really smart, they'd run an ad praising Hillary Clinton, and try to draw a wedge with Hillary voters and get them riled up that she wasn't on the ticket. After all, in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, the reason why Obama is only up on McCain by an insignificant margin is because of the significant number of Hillary voters either supporting McCain or refusing to support Obama. These are liberal-learning voters, mostly Democrats, but they are angry with Obama for winning the nomination and they are currently preventing him from stretching his lead over McCain. And had a Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee won the Republican nomination, they almost certainly wouldn't have supported those candidates, McCain, because of his "maverick" reputation, and the mistaken belief by many that he's a moderate (when he's not), is a palatable choice. Especially when compared with Obama.
So what has the McCain campaign done? Put together a Hillary Clinton ad, questioning Obama for not putting her on the ticket. The problem? The ad makes no sense when viewed next to their first ad about Biden. Take a look at both ads:
So let me get this straight. Barack Obama picked a running mate (Joe Biden) who at a debate said he wasn't ready to lead, but he refused to pick another (Hillary Clinton) because she dared question his policies? Am I missing something here? If Barack Obama eschewed Hillary because she didn't agree with him on every issue, then why pick Biden, who, as McCain's first ad is all about, questioned Obama's ability to lead the country? Doesn't Obama picking Biden show that he's willing, if not eager, to select a VP who isn't a sycophant?
The message of these two ads completely conflict with one another. They are utterly inconsistent, and when viewed together, they make no logical sense. It's almost as if whomever created the Hillary ad never saw the Biden ad. Plus, there were a lot more harsh comments by Hillary they could have used (Shame on you Barack Obama!; When you were representing your slum landlord contributor Rezko; John McCain has a lifetime of experience and Barack Obama has a speech he gave in 2002) which would fit much more neatly into the "not ready to lead" meme the McCain campaign has been pushing and would have fit with the theme of the Biden ad. Throw in a line about "18 million voters and she wasn't even on his short list?" and a McCain clip praising Hillary and there's a very effective 30-second spot which should really get the Clintonite blood boiling.
Instead, we get this ad, which while a good idea in theory, does not fit with McCain's broader message, and is contrary to his earlier attack ad on Biden. Good idea McCain campaign, just horrendous execution.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Barack Obama finally selected his Vice President, text messaging his supporters around 3 AM yesterday announcing that Senator Joe Biden was his choice for Vice President (I, however, have yet to get that text message, though I did get an e-mail from Obama around 4:50 a.m. announcing the pick). As I wrote earlier, Biden was my pick for VP. He has an extremely compelling personal story (he was elected to the United States Senate at age 29, then months later he lost his wife and infant daughter to a horrific car accident, was sworn into the Senate from his sons hospital beds as they recovered from their injuries sustained in the same accident; he ran for the Presidency in 1988 and then almost died of a brain aneurysm;, and he continues, to this day, to ride Amtrak back and forth from Delaware to Washington each day, eschewing living in D.C.), he has an encyclopedic knowledge of foreign policy and will undoubtedly help Obama govern effectively, and he's fiercely independent and won't be afraid to question and challenge Obama when they disagree.
Going into the primaries, I wasn't sold on Biden. But after watching him campaign, and especially his performances in the debates, I changed my tune very quickly. From the Democratic CNN YouTube debate on July 24, 2007 (wow, this election has been going on for a long time, and July was almost eight months into it to boot):
As for who else really impressed me, Joe Biden continues to show that he may be the smartest candidate of the bunch. A bit angry at times, but while everyone else talks about getting out of Iraq, Biden sounds like he actually knows how to get out of Iraq. On foreign policy, there is nobody better right now than Biden, and he sounds intelligent on the domestic issues too. He has no chance to be President, but should a Democrat win in 2008, I couldn't think of a better candidate for Secretary of State.
I had much the same opinion in September after an MSNBC debate:
Edwards, as well as Joe Biden, had good nights. I like Biden more and more every time I see him. Sure, he's not going to win, but he's the only one, especially when compared to Clinton, to actually answer questions, and he's incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to Iraq and foreign policy. Would he make a good President? I don't know. But he needs a prominent role in our government.
And then there was the December 2007 debate:
And one last debate thought, Joe Biden, again, a great performance. More than anyone else, including Obama, Biden has impressed me in these debates. So much so that I'm going to write his name in and vote for him in the Michigan primary. It doesn't mean much since the Democrats have all taken their names off the ballot here in accordance with the wishes of the DNC (except for Hillary of course) so our primary is pretty meaningless, but Biden deserves it. He doesn't want to be VP, and probably wouldn't be a good electoral choice, but I'd make him Secretary of State or Defense or anything he wanted if I were the next President.
So, while I was pushing Biden for Secretary of State, Vice President works too. I think he was the best choice, and he's the right choice. And he's going to be a fiery advocate and campaigner for Obama. I can't wait to see the team in action.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I don't know if the McCain Campaign failed to finish their negative Tony Rezko ad in time for the nightly newscasts to air it tonight, or if the networks, without knowledge or confidence the ad will ever air (McCain in the past this election cycle has created strong attack ads but not actually paid to air them, with the aim of having the networks air the ad for free on news and opinion broadcasts, which they have been more than happy to do) but the ad did not air on either NBC Nightly News or ABC's World News Tonight. Instead, the pieces the networks ran focused on Obama's attacks, and his tying McCain's statement that he doesn't know how many houses he knows to how out of touch McCain is with problems in the economy.
The Rezko ad is a brutal hatchet job on Obama. While Obama's negative ad today at least is tangentially related to policy (asking how McCain can understand or fix the economy if he doesn't know it's broken) McCain's ad is completely unrelated to policy. It's a total negative character attack, essentially saying "Obama is a crook who associates with other crooks. He does them political favors and he swindles real estate on the side." Of course, Rezko is not one of Obama's biggest fundraisers by any calculation (and he never donated a dime to Obama's Presidential campaign, and all of the funds Rezko raised or had any connection have long been donated to charity by Obama) and Obama was never the subject of any suspicion of wrong-doing related to Rezko. But, that's surely not the picture painted by McCain's ad.
I'll be honest, nothing surprises me in politics, but I really thought McCain was more honorable than the campaign he's running. The advantage to having McCain as the Republican nominee, and Obama as the Democratic nominee, was supposed to be a civil campaign. Instead, McCain has run almost entirely negative ads, mostly involving Obama's character (not his policies) and he has repeatedly questioned Obama's patriotism (including saying that Obama would choose to lose a war if it meant he was elected President). Obama, in recent days, has gone more on the attack, but always couched in policy distinctions, not personal ones. John McCain has chosen not to follow that path. And it's working, because the polls have tightened, and McCain seems to have the wind at his back. But, something tells me, McCain would not have accepted this kind of campaign when he ran in 2000. But if you want to win badly enough, and you are willing to do whatever your advisers tell you to do, then this is the kind of campaign you get. One indistinguishable from the campaign George W. Bush ran against McCain in 2000.
Monday, August 18, 2008
As we get to crunch time in the so-called Veepstakes (with Drudge via the New York Times reporting Barack Obama could announce his choice as early as Wednesday morning) it appears that the names for Obama are narrowed to the three which have been at the top of the list for months now: Senators Joe Biden and Evan Bayh and Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.
And, maybe coincidentally, and maybe purposefully, each represents a different kind of Vice President and the reasons for selecting each are very different. Biden doesn't help Obama with any particular state on the electoral map (maybe he solidifies Pennsylvania, but I don't think that states in much jeopardy anyway) but he provides Obama with the veteran, foreign-policy expert many believe he needs, he's highly respected and has a national profile, and he "checks a lot of boxes" as Chuck Todd would say. Bayh seems to be an electoral choice. Indiana, a perpetually red state, is turning blue, in large part because of the economic woes, and in part because Obama's familiarity in neighboring Illinois. Bayh on the ticket could tip the state to Obama. And Bayh's very public support of Hillary Clinton doesn't hurt either as Obama tries, still, to soothe things over with Clinton supporters. And there's Tim Kaine. While Governor of Virginia, Obama will likely win or lose the state whether or not Kaine's on the ticket. So why Kaine? Obama and Kaine are close personally, so they will work well together, and Obama trusts Kaine, which is crucial with a VP pick. And Kaine is not part of the Washington establishment, like Biden (and to a lesser extent) Bayh, so he doubles down on the "change" message.
I think Bayh comes in third place here. He's perpetually on the short list for VP but never picked, and despite the desire to put Indiana in the Democratic column, I just don't think Obama's going to go with him. Which means it comes down to Bayh and Biden.
First, who I think Obama will select: Tim Kaine. While many in the national media have consistently said that Obama needs a foreign-policy guy as his VP (hence the talk of Biden, Wes Clark, and Sam Nunn), Obama has never signaled he was thinking that way. In fact, all of his public comments have been just the opposite. While some have called him cocky, and that may be a bridge too far, there is no doubt Obama is supremely confident in his foreign policy judgment. And with very good reason, as his prescient objections to the Iraq War prove. It doesn't seem like Obama believes that foreign policy is a real weakness which mandates the VP nail down that policy area. And Obama certainly seems like the kind of person that would value the personal relationship with his VP and the ability to trust that VP above all else. And there's no question Obama and Kaine are close, and both are simpatico when it comes to fundimentally changing how business is done in Washington.
The problem? Kaine's almost more inexperienced than Obama (he's been Governor for less than a full term), has zero national profile (and thus wouldn't help the ticket gain any steam or erase any doubts voters may have about Obama, and in fact, may enlarge the doubts people have), and he seems like a third choice from his state alone. With word leaking out last week (courtesy of Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic) that the Obama campaign was pressuring former Virginia Governor Mark Warner to submit his name to be vetted for VP (he declined to concentrate on his blowout of a US Senate Race and was subsequently named Keynote Speaker at the Democratic Convention next week) and with Senator Jim Webb, a perfect VP choice, also declining, Kaine's selection could (and maybe should) be seen as Obama settling. And one should never settle on the VP choice. And most importantly, should something happen to Obama, can you really imagine a President Kaine? Just think about that question for a minute.
Now, my choice would be Joe Biden. I was thoroughly impressed with Biden in the Democratic primaries. So much so that because the Michigan primary meant nothing, I planned on voting for Biden before I learned doing so would make my vote invalid. Nobody running for President (and perhaps nobody else, although, I reserve judgment out of respect for the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin) had a better understanding, knowledge, and ability to articulate a vision of the quagmire in Iraq and other foreign policy happenings than Biden. And while John McCain likes to tout his "Straight Talk Express" there is no doubt that Joe Biden will always tell you what he's thinking, and what he's honestly thinking, and to prove it, he's gotten himself into some trouble speaking his mind. He gives Obama the experience and gravitas Obama may lack, he'd be a huge asset to the country as Vice President. And he's instantly believable and credible as President. And , back to those "boxes" again. He's Catholic. He's blue collar. He's popular with the kinds of voters Obama may have a hard time attracting. And while Obama may be confident in his own foreign policy judgments (again, with good reasons), voters still aren't. Voters need to be convinced. Joe Biden will do that. People will feel much better about Obama as President with the knowledge he has somebody as his VP to support him. Maybe people shouldn't think like that, but they do, and Biden would instantly strengthen the ticket in ways Tim Kaine and Evan Bayh would not.
I hope I'm wrong, and I hope Biden is the pick. We should know by the end of the week. But, while Obama's heart may be leaning towards Kaine, he should make this choice with his head, and he should choose the Senator from Delaware.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
As I have mentioned before, I own way too many books. Well, that has a negative connotation to it, which I don't mean, because I don't regret owning so many books (maybe, if I could do it over again, there are a number of sports related books I purchased at a discount from a book outlet website I wouldn't buy again, but they look good on my bookshelves). So the question always is, when I finish one book (as I did this weekend with John Adams) what to do next. I have over 200 books in my ever-growing collection, and I've read only just over 50. Close to another dozen (including Bill Clinton's My Life which I started but never finished before I began Law School) are in some stage of being read. Instead of picking one of those back up (and in truth, some, I'll likely start fresh if/when I pick them up again), being in a very Revolutionary history state of mind, I picked up Joseph Ellis' Thomas Jefferson's biography American Sphinx.
After the over 650 page Adams' biography, Ellis' character study of Jefferson is just under 370-pages of text, so the long weekend allowed me to devour it almost whole (I have only 70-some pages to go and may finish tonight). I continue to be fascinated by the friendship, rivalry, and correspondence between Adams and Jefferson (so much so that my next book will be one I purchased this weekend, Ellis' study of Adams post-Presidential life which goes deeper into the Adams-Jefferson relationship; I also almost purchased a 600-page text containing the actual letters between John and Abigail Adams and Jefferson throughout their lives, but I left that purchase for another day). And as I learn more about Jefferson, I become more conflicted on what to think of him. As Ellis writes, he is truly a unique character in history, full of honest but real contradictions. What I find most interesting are not his internal battles over slavery, but of his thoughts on government and revolutions. His demand for personal freedom is laudable, but his thoughts on letting laws and governments lapse every generation are wild, and his appreciation, and even desire, for sometimes bloody revolutions (which he thought would ensure citizen freedom) are by today's standards dangerous.
I don't leave these books though h a lower opinion of Jefferson, but of a decidedly improved opinion of Adams, whose left-behind and under-appreciated position in American History I am now much more sympathetic. The books too allow you to really see the human side of these American icons, the day-to-day struggles they faced in their everyday lives, which in admiring all they did for this country, we often forget they had. And learning about the early days of Presidential campaigns (where the principals would steadfastly refuse to campaign, but would bankroll and encourage others to engage in scurrilous attacks) makes today's campaigns look tame by comparison.
In any case, another worthy read, which you could tell by how quick I read through it. My plan is to continue on this Revolutionary-era kick, with Ellis' Adams book next (Passionate Sage) followed by his two composites next, the Pulitzer Prize winning Founding Brothers (of which I have read over half of, but so long ago, I'll likely start from scratch) and his newest book American Creation. Then I'll think I'll be done in this time period (despite having biographies of Franklin and Hamilton to go, as well as David McCollough's 1776 to read at some point as well). But, then again, there's always those Adams-Jefferson letters, right?
Saturday, July 5, 2008
What would a Fourth of July weekend be without a big movie from Will Smith? So, like many others (the film is set to gross at least $100 million in the United States this long weekend and will top its $150 million-plus budget with its worldwide take) I ventured out to see Hancock yesterday, Smith's newest film where he plays a Superhero who, well, doesn't understand or know how to act like a superhero.
I'll be the first to admit I am not a superhero or comic-book movie person. So it is without regret that I readily admit to never having seen any of the Spiderman movies which have made so much money in recent years, or any of the X-Men or Iron Man or Incredible Hulk films. A few years back, when Batman Begins was all the rage, I went to the movies with some buddies, but while they saw Batman, I instead bought tickets for the well-done and vastly underrated boxing movie Cinderella Man.
But Hancock looked (and was) different. While most superhero movies are pure fantasy (with a good deal of special effects, cool as they are, added in) and Hancock certainly has a good amount of that (it is, after all, a movie about a man with superhuman strength who can fly) what I enjoyed most about it was how grounded the movie is. What if a superhero, instead of constantly coming to victims' rescue, didn't understand or know how to use his or her powers, struggled with the psychology of being a superhero, and caused more harm than good, no matter the intent? That's how Hancock begins, and it's a fascinating concept and character study.
I didn't find the laughs in Hancock as plentiful as some, but that's not why I wanted to see the movie. I went to see it for the dramatic story of a superhero struggling to be super, and for most of the movie that's what we got. And the big twist in the movie (which I won't reveal here) was well-done, and one I did not see coming (though, looking back, made sense and was subtly foreshadowed).
Certainly a film well worth seeing, and much better than the poor reviews the movie seems to have been tagged with make it sound. And with Smith, the always funny Jason Bateman, and Charlize Theron (who makes just about anything worthwhile, and as an aside, I just realized this is the second Theron-Smith movie to be panned by critics, but which I actually enjoyed, with The Legend of Bagger Vance being the first) what more do you need?. And while I don't know if I need to see a sequel to the film (there's some talk into making the movie a franchise, a common idea in Hollywood these days anytime any movie does even remotely well at the box office) I recommend Hancock.
Friday, July 4, 2008
It may be no coincidence, and certainly is fitting, that I finished David McCullough's wonderful John Adams this evening, surrounded by fireworks all around me (it really was something, standing on my balcony in Royal Oak, seeing fireworks from all over metro-Detroit in all directions, some just visible over the tree-line, some heard but not seen, others seen but not heard, and some almost directly in front of me). As great as HBO's recent mini-series of the same name was (it was based on McCollough's biography and will undoubtedly and deservedly win numerous awards at this year's Emmy's) the 651-page (751 counting the indexes) book was even better. While McCullough seems to be as much of Adams' advocate as his biographer, it is hard not to come away from reading the book with the highest regard for our nation's second President. Adams is often overlooked in history (Washington, Jefferson, and Ben Franklin get most of the credit for the Revolution and the success of the early United States) and his one term as President may not have been remarkable (he saved the country from war with France but earned the praise of neither political party at the time while doing so) but after reading the book, it is clear that no man fought harder to convince his fellow colonists that revolution was necessary and that independence was essential. And his work in France, Britain, and Holland, securing peace and security (and in Holland, much needed financial support) for the new nation may have been the most important and least appreciated and remembered parts of the Revolutionary War.
It was remarkable to read about the founding generation, the letters between John and his wife Abigail (who could have been and would have been a great political leader herself had she been allowed to govern) and John and Thomas Jefferson, two of the brightest minds of their generation. It's incredible to think back and read about that time in history, where all of the greatest minds of the country gathered to form a new world order. And also to think about how different history would have been if e-mail, telephones, and Blackberries existed in the late 1700s. Much of time back then was spent waiting for word from across the ocean, and it could take weeks, if not usually month, to receive any word on how negotiations were progressing (or not) in matters of peace and war. And how much of history we would have lost had John and Abigail Adams spoken on the phone once a day instead of writing countless letters back and forth, which have provided us an first-row view of the most important period in our country's history.
Whenever I say I'm interested in politics, sometimes I get quizzical looks, and am asked why. After all, most think politicians to be corrupt, and only interested in boosting their own ego and their own political party, advanced not by interest in country, but personal ambition. A recent Rasmussen survey bears that out. Just 17-percent of the country "believe working for the government is more honorable than working in the private sector."
But there is a difference, one that is often lost, between politics and governance. Yes, I'm interested in politics. The sport, the human chess match, the back-and-forth, the intellectual puzzles and arguments and the thrill of election night. The science of Barack Obama spending the Fourth of July in Montana (despite the Democrats not winning the state in a generation) or John McCain kicking off an economic tour as we inch towards a global recession.
But, politics, to me, is a means to an end (though not an uninteresting or unenjoyable one). Governing is what's important. In the end, I'm interested in politics (and want to govern or help somebody else govern) because of the power and good that can be done when good men and women govern, and not in their own self-interest, but in the interest of their country. Jim Webb, for example, from the day he was elected to the United States Senate in 2006, has worked tirelessly to pass a 21st Century GI Bill. While soldiers returning from World War II were treated as heroes and given a first class college education in return for their service, those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have been all but forgotten. Some said a new GI Bill was too expensive and others, including John McCain and President Bush, believed such a generous reward to our armed forces was too generous, and would hurt retention by encouraging soldiers to leave the Army to get their degrees. As if one tour in Iraq was not enough for a man or woman to deserve a college education. But despite the opposition, Webb succeeded last month in passing the resolution, and President Bush grudgingly signed it into law. Thanks to Webb, a new generation of Americans will receive an education which will pay us all dividends in the future.
The problem isn't that politics and governing isn't "honorable" as the Rasmussen poll suggests. Its that we have too few Jim Webb's in government. Just as the brightest minds of 1776 came together to not just declare independence and win a war many thought unwinniable, but to form a government, the form of which had never before been seen on such a large scale, and which has endured now for over 200-years, we need the brightest minds of this generation to come together to solve the problems we all now face. Otherwise, the government and the governing will be left in the hands of those whose decisions are shaped by self interest and greed, and who put party and politics above the needs of everyday Americans.
It's an obligation to one's country and one's fellow citizen that John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and the rest of the Founding Generation uniquely understood. Governing is honorable. But only when honorable men and women are governing. And that's a lesson we all can take to heart on this Fourth of July.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Over the past, oh, year (and longer than that really) there is probably nothing I have done more then watch MSNBC. The primaries, the election news, every debate, every primary night. And there was Tim Russert. We lost Tim Russert today, and I say "we" not because I knew Tim, but because the collective "we" as a country lost an irreplaceable voice today.
I don't remember a death of somebody famous touching me so much as Tim's death. Partly because it was so stunning in its suddenness and unexpectedness, but partly because it had become second nature watching him, all the time, as I have the past year. Meet The Press, Morning Joe, NBC Nightly News, The Tim Russert Show, the weekly MSNBC primary nights where Tim was a dominant and invaluable presence. I have become so invested in this election and this Democratic primary, and watching Tim was an almost daily ritual.
A lot of people may have watched Tim Russert, but I don't think anyone truly new how large of an impact he had on this country. It is not an exaggeration or hyperbole to say that if you were a politician, and you could not pass the Russert Test, if you could not make it through a one-hour grilling on Meet The Press, you had little future in national politics, much less any chance of being President. There has been a lot of controversy about the "vetters" Barack Obama has tapped to lead his search for a Vice President. Tim Russert was America's vetter. And there was nobody better at holding those in power accountable, and there was nobody better at asking the tough, but always fair, question.
It seems too cruel that now that the Democratic Primary is over, and one of the most important Presidential elections in a generation is about to take place, Tim Russert won't be here to see it, to vet it for us, to comment on it.
Tim was a lawyer, a journalist, a former political operative. A man who loved his hometown of Buffalo and his love of city matched by his love of the Buffalo Bills. And, of course, the love of his family, both his wife and son, and his extended NBC News family. America has lost one of its most important voices today, and only in the weeks and months ahead, when we look to Meet the Press to vet the next generation of political leaders, will we truly understand just what a loss to the country this is.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
It's so gratifying to see your hometown team win a championship. Obviously, as a fan, you haven't gone through the hardships and pain and the long season the players do, but you feel like you have, and you celebrate the championship all the same. In my lifetime, the Detroit Tigers have won a World Series, the Detroit Pistons have won three NBA Titles, the Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans have won NCAA Basketball titles, the Wolverines captured a football national title, and of course, the Detroit Red Wings have won four Stanley Cups, the most recent tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
There are so many people to feel happy for tonight, Chris Osgood an Dallas Drake at the top of the list. Osgood was never good enough for the fans of Detroit, even after he helped this generation win their first Cup in 1997 and led the team to their second in 1998. Osgood left Detroit, but General Manager Kenny Holland brought him back, and Osgood was awesome this playoff run, finally getting the respect he has deserved for a long, long time. And then there's Dallas Drake, who started his career with the Wings, but who in 16 seasons never made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Knowing his team needed more grit and toughness, Holland brought Drake back to Detroit this season, and Drake was an integral part of the Wings' fourth cup.
There is no sports town in America like Detroit. We are so lucky here (even with the Lions) to have such great teams and see so many championships. And each is unique and special and seeing Nick Lidstrom lift the Cup tonight, it was a great feeling for all Detroiters. There's no city in America, sports wise, like Detroit, and tonight was as good of an example of that as ever.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Very interesting morning already. While yesterday the Clinton campaign seemed ready to fight on, even if Barack Obama claimed victory tonight, the chairman of the Hillary Clinton campaign, Terry McAuliffe, on the Today Show this morning, was striking a much different, and much more conciliatory tone.
He said that Hillary Clinton would likely not be going to the convention to fight over "four" delegates, and talked much more about coming together then continuing the fight, and he even acknowledged that if Obama reached the "magic" number (though he did not say what he considered that number to be) that Hillary would declare him the nominee and drop out of the race.
We may get an ending to this campaign which unifies the party after all.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Conventional wisdom says the fight for the Democratic nomination for President is over. Barack Obama is under 40 delegate votes away from the "magic" number of 2,118, and with him guaranteed to gain at least 15 tomorrow (and likely closer to 17), 34 House members set to endorse him by Wednesday, and at least 15 Senators ready to endorse as well, the nomination battle is over. We have our winner, and our winner be Obama.
So, as conventional wisdom goes, Senator Clinton is wrapping up her campaign. Inviting donors to her speech in, where else, her home state of New York (while Obama's speech tomorrow is in the general election battleground and home of the Republican Convention, St. Paul, Minnesota). Telling her staff to go home, but to get their receipts in before they leave. After all, Senator Clinton is a "realist" they say, and she's always pledged to leave the race as soon as that magic number is reached and the Democrats have a nominee.
So why do I feel so nervous about tomorrow? And it's not nervousness about whether Senator Obama will have enough Super Delegates endorse him during the day so he can claim the nomination after the polls close in Montana tomorrow. It's worry over what Hillary will do, because despite the conventional wisdom, I don't think she's going anywhere.
Even after the national networks declare Obama the victor, and even after the flood of Super Delegates which will surely come by Wednesday afternoon, I can see Senator Clinton fighting. Saying that she won the popular vote (even though to do so she has to count Puerto Rico, but not count the Virgin Island, Guam, and American Samoa, and count Michigan, but not give Obama any votes from Michigan, and not count a group of caucus states which went overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, like Iowa, Maine, Nebraska, and Washington. As I've been saying, if you have to explain HOW you are leading in the popular vote, that's probably a pretty good hint you aren't leading in the popular vote). She'll say Super Delegates can always change their mind, and that she needs to fight for the people of Michigan (who, by the way, are just fine thank you with the compromise the state itself asked for, and received, on Saturday). And at that point, there is no end point. Why would she ever get out before the convention? If the argument is, and Hillary herself made it yesterday, Super Delegates are always free to change their mind, then she has no reason to get out before the Convention, even if she falls behind by an overwhelming margin.
So where does that leave us? The Democratic Leadership (Reid, Pelosi, Dean, Gore) will likely give Clinton a few days to decide, but if she keeps fighting, I'd look for those four to start campaigning with Obama. But, until Hillary Clinton drops out, endorses Obama, and starts campaigning herself for Obama, the Democratic party will never come together. She has to not just endorse Obama and campaign for him, she has to do so soon because her supporters are very angry right now, and if she waits until the Convention, claims a fictional popular vote lead all summer, and loses (as she undoubtedly would) at the Convention in late August, her supporters won't have enough grieving time (for lack of a better word) to come around to unite the party. Instead, they will be even more resolute then they are today, and the Democrats are finished in November.
I hope for the sake of the Democratic Party, and for our country (which would be much better served by a President Obama than a President McCain, despite the latter's status as a genuine American hero) that I am wrong and conventional wisdom is right. But if we have learned anything over this long, long primary campaign, it's that conventional wisdom is rarely, if ever, correct.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Some fascinating and really revealing information from NBC's great Chuck Todd. Chuck reports that Barack Obama actually HAD the votes to split the Michigan delegation 50-50 and completely throw out the primary results from Michigan's unsanctioned and flawed primary. His supporters, though, refused to take that hard of a line, even though he would have WON because they wanted a greater consensus in the interest of party unity, thus, the 69-59 split. Instead of compromising, like Obama did, and accepting the will of the Michigan Democratic Party, and instead of bringing the party together, the Clinton campaign called the move a "hijacking" and is now threatening to drag the campaign through August, which would mean no endorsement of Obama by Clinton, no bringing of the party together, and no chance to win in the fall, all over a net of four delegates. It could have been much worse for the Clinton campaign had the Obama supporters not been magnanimous and went even further than they needed to in order to bring the party together.
And Hillary Clinton somehow thinks that after costing the Democrats the election in 2008, the party is going to come back on their hands and knees to her in 2012? She's not just ending any chance Barack Obama has of becoming President, she's ending her own political future. How she doesn't see that is amazing to me.
The Obama campaign compromised even after they won. And the Clinton campaign refused to budge even an inch, even after Obama won, and then extended a further olive branch to the Clintons. It's unbelievable, and it's not good for the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee gave the states of Michigan and Florida what they wanted. But the Hillary Clinton campaign has taken a hard line over the allocation of FOUR Michigan delegates. They wanted the Michigan delegation apportioned 73-55, a net gain of 9 after the delegates were halved. The end result was 69-59, a net gain of five for Clinton. So Harold Ickes is going to destroy any chance of Democratic unity, any chance of a Democrat winning in the fall, by fighting to the convention over FOUR DELEGATES which will make no difference on the overall vote totals.
And to use the word "hijack" after what happened on September 11 is no less offensive than had he used the word "lynched" or any similar variation. He continually talked about the election being "hijacked" because Senator Clinton lost four delegates. Senator Clinton, as senator from New York, should know almost better than anybody what the word "hijack" means in 2008 and the images the word "hijack" brings up.
The Michigan and Florida delegates are seated. The state parties are happy. The party, though, is not unified, and we saw a clear example of that today. Not just Harold Ickes offensive language, but also the protesters outside. In the interest of party unity, the Obama campaign specifically told their supporters not to protest. We got no similar class or interest in party above candidate from Senator Clinton. Her supporters almost singlehandedly derailed the vote with their protests, and it shows how divided the Democrats are. If we do not come together as a party, the chance of winning in the fall falls almost to zero.
Hillary Clinton is the only person right now who can unite the party. She will not be the nominee for President from the Democratic Party. That is very clear after today. What's left, is for her to do what's in the best interest of the party, and convince her supporters to rally behind Barack Obama. Today, though, despite Obama working towards a compromise, her campaign has been unwilling to do the same, and with their offensive and dangerous rhetoric, they are so close to ensuring this party will never unify. Hillary Clinton must come out tonight and endorse these comprised measures which were approved by the Rules and Bylaws Committee. She must be the bigger person and put party above her own self interest. And if she doesn't, then we all know where she stands, and that she values her own interests above that of the Democratic Party. And if that's where we end up, that is a very sad result for the Clintons, for Democratic Party, and for the country.
Two things become obvious:
1) Senator Carl Levin does not like the state of New Hampshire holding their primary first every year.
2) The best thing I think Barack Obama could do right now, is if David Bonior came out and said "We accept the Michigan proposal to split the delegates 69/59 which also acknowledges that the popular vote in that state was flawed." This accomplishes two goals. First, with Clinton taking such a hard line (Zero delegates for Obama from Michigan, no accounting for those who didn't vote, had write-in votes, and voted for Republicans because their candidates were not on the ballot) it makes Obama look very conciliatory, like a leader, and like someone who is willing to compromise, not fight. Two, it doesn't hurt Obama at all (10 delegates, in the grand scheme of thing, is meaningless) and it makes sure Clinton can't use Michigan's totals in her popular vote argument. Obama can come out and say "We were with both Florida and Michigan, endorsed their proposals, and the Clinton campaign refused to budge even an inch."
I don't think that's what they'll do. Plans are for Bonior to argue for a 50/50 split of the delegates, which I understand, because the primary did not reflect the will of the voters, but I think the Obama campaign misses an opportunity to paint Clinton into a real corner, with no real damage to the campaign, if they do not endorse the Michigan proposal.
3) Another thing. Harold Ickes argues against the reliability of exit polls. Yet, Hillary Clinton, in her OWN words, says her electability argument is that she appeals, and Barack Obama does not, to working class WHITE voters. And how does she know this? EXIT POLLS. The contradictory nature of the Clinton argument is mind-boggoling sometimes.
4) Another another. Great retort by Senator Levin to Ickes when he said it would never be a fair reflection to seat delegates from a flawed primary. Amen.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Tomorrow morning, the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee will meet, and will hear arguments about what to do with the rogue, unsanctioned, and illegitimate primaries of Michigan and Florida. And it has become clear that the Clinton campaign wants one thing and one thing only from the meeting: Chaos. What is equally as clear that they do not want: Any sort of resolution or compromise.
While Barack Obama's campaign has continually tried to reach a compromise with the Clinton campaign over the seating of the delegates from Michigan and Florida, at a net loss of delegates to his campaign. He would agree to seating the Florida delegation in full, and in accordance with the January primary results (even though he did not campaign in the state and undoubtedly would have faired better than he did had he been able to campaign there) so long as each delegate gets only half a vote. This would punish Florida for moving up their primary (and potentially prevent other states from doing the same in the future) and would make the delegate split closer to how it may have turned out had a real campaign taken place. In Michigan, Obama's willing to take a loss in delegates too.
But, Clinton is taking the hardest of hard lines. According to her campaign, Obama should get zero delegates from Michigan, not even those who had voted for "uncommitted." This a a ludicrous position, and shows the Clinton campaign is unwilling to make any compromise at all. It shows they don't want a solution, they want an excuse to carry on the campaign through the Democratic convention in late August.
And so they can claim a popular vote win? It's crazy anyway (how many people didn't vote in Michigan because the primary was outlawed? Hundreds of thousands, and I'm one of them. And to not give Obama any of the uncommitted vote in a popular vote tally and then claim to be the popular vote leader is intellectually dishonest). And what does a popular vote win get Hillary Clinton? The nomination? No. But it gives her a hook to have her supporters not support Obama in the fall, which opens up 2012 for another Hillary Clinton run for the White House. It's why the Clinton campaign is organizing a protest tomorrow, while the Obama campaign has urged their supporters to not follow suit, in the interest of party unity. One campaign is interested in bringing the party together. The other wants to continue fighting and continue to charge up their supporters against the other candidate. And Hillary Clinton wonders why people want her to end her campaign.
Hopefully, this won't matter. The Rules and Bylaws Committee will, in all likelihood, recommend that Michigan and Florida be seated tomorrow, but with some punishment. It will be seen as a compromise which favors the Clinton campaign. When she turns it down as "unreasonable" she'll look, well, unreasonable. And if Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who continue to say they want to end this race after the final primary on June 3rd, have any power, they'll get enough Super Delegates to put Obama over the top, no matter Clinton's protests.
It would be nice to see a compromise tomorrow, but with the Clinton campaign digging its heels in, even though Clinton may gain as many as 20 net delegates, this fight will continue on, to the detriment of Barack Obama's chances this fall, and to the detriment of the Democratic Party Hillary Clinton claims to represent.
Monday, May 26, 2008
But first, some quick notes on the Pistons game. Haven't seen a player will his team to victory quite like Antonio McDyess did tonight. That man wants to win a championship, and if the rest of the Pistons had half his hunger, they'd be unstoppable. And the team's inconsistency is so frustrating. Had they played the way they did in the first quarter on Saturday, this series would be 3-1 going back to Boston right now. And had they continued to play with that intensity, they would have never had to claw to keep their lead in the fourth quarter. This team, other than McDyess, and the young kids like Jason Maxiell and Rodney Stuckey, is just not hungry enough.
This post, though, focuses on the positive, and that's the Detroit Red Wings second consecutive shutout of the Pittsburgh Penguins, putting them within reach of a fourth Stanley Cup in a eleven years. The Red Wings continued to be on their game, and despite the Penguins doing their best to get under the Wings skin, nothing seemed to phase the men wearing the winged wheel. Johan Franzen looked good after missing almost two weeks with concussion-like symptoms, and Valtteri Filppula scored what was one of the prettiest goals you'll see while being dragged to the ice.
And what can you say about goalie Chris Osgood? Two consecutive shutouts, becoming one of only four goalies in NHL history to start off the Stanley Cup Finals by blanking his opponent. And it's not as if Pittsburgh lacks fire power. But Osgood, and the Wings stifling defense, are making Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin look downright ordinary, after their dominant run through the Eastern Conference. I was really looking forward to watching Crosby and Malkin and seeing if they lived up to the hype (thanks to the great NHL schedulers, we didn't get a chance to see Pittsburgh at all this season) and so far, you can hardly tell when the two are on the ice. No spectacular plays, no highlight reel scoring chances.
The Wings offense, on the other hand, continues to hum right along. And with the return of Franzen, the Wings get only more dangerous heading into Games three and four in Pittsburgh. Now, the Wings, despite their 4-0 and 3-0 wins at Joe Louis, cannot start to take the Pens lightly. Pittsburgh has not lost at home in almost two months time, and there's no question the intensity level will be ratcheted up for Crosby, Malkin, and rest of the Penguins. But what the Red Wings have shown this off-season is that they can withstand the best their opponents have to offer, and if the Wings can steal one in Pittsburgh, this series could be over in five, if not sooner.
HBO is really on a roll right now (though, I guess the question is, when are they not?). After the incredibly good John Adams mini-series, HBO took a look at a much more recent period in our political history, the Florida recount which decided the 2000 Presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
I'll always remember that night. The satisfaction when the networks called Florida for Gore. The bewilderment when they took it back. The frustration when it looked like Bush was pulling ahead for good. I remember late into the night, continually refreshing CNN.com's election site, looking at the county-by-county returns as they came in, in real-time, keeping track of Bush and Gore's votes (and the changes as new votes were reported) on a blank piece of printer paper next to my computer. I stayed up as long as I could that night, waiting for word on who won the election. And the country stayed waiting a lot longer than that. If I end up working in politics one day (or, perhaps a better word is when) I'll probably look back on that night, and the night I found out I passed the Bar Exam (where instead of going out and celebrating, I was watching MSNBC's coverage of the Indiana and North Carolina Democratic Primaries until after 1:00 a.m. waiting for results from Gary, Indiana to come in to see if Barack Obama had swept the night, and swept out Hillary Clinton from the Democratic nomination fight) as nights where it was clearest to me that more than sports and more than almost anything else, politics was what was in my blood.
HBO's Recount, staring the great Kevin Spacey as Al Gore's former Chief of Staff and Florida recount, premiered tonight, and it captured the tension, and the spectacle, and the over-the-top nature of the characters and caricatures which made up the Florida recount. Despite knowing how it was going to end (as my buddy Dave, who was watching the movie pointed out, the movie was like watching 'Titanic,' we all knew the unfortunate fate awaiting the Gore team in the end) the movie was full of tension and great performances. Tom Wilkinson, who was was exceptional as Benjamin Franklin in the John Adams miniseries was equally as brilliant in Recount as George W. Bush's Recount leader, James Baker. And Laura Dern disappeared into her role as Katherine Harris, which may be the biggest compliment you can pay an actor or actress. She completely became Kathrine Harris, and played her perfectly. The rest of the cast was phenomenal as well.
And while the movie may have had a slight Democratic slant (the main character, after all, was Al Gore's former Chief of Staff), it was fair to the story I thought, and presented both sides. Some of the moments were over the top, but so was the real life recount. HBO has done another great job with another terrific cast, and if you have a chance to catch what I'm sure will be the first of many re showings Monday night at 9:00, check it out. Especially with another close election upcoming (and another between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton which won't seem to end) we cannot forget about the lessons of the past, and through HBO's Recount, we never will.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
This had all the makings of a classic night in Detroit sports history. The Detroit Tigers awaken from their season-long hibernation and put up 19 runs against the Minnesota Twins. The Detroit Red Wings open up the Stanley Cup Finals with a 4-0 shellacking of the Pittsburgh Penguins. And the Detroit Pistons, of course they would take care of the Boston Celtics in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals. They had just stolen Game Two in Boston, and of course, the Celtics had yet to win a road playoff game this season.
What do the Pistons do? They decide to do what they have done all season, and that's show up for one quarter. Unfortunately for the Pistons, they were already down 24 points when they decided, "Hey, we should probably show up tonight." If the Pistons were a young team, learning how to win, learning how to play in big games, then inconsistent performances would be acceptable, even expected. But, this is a team that has been to six straight Eastern Conference Finals. Their play is simply inexcusable. Playing hard when you feel like it, playing hard only when you feel like you need to, that's not what a championship team does. And it's why the Detroit Pistons are destined to lose to the Boston Celtics and fall short of the NBA Finals yet again.
One thing we have learned this series so far is that Rodney Stuckey is going to be a star. So much so, that if I were Joe Dumars, I would think seriously, really seriously, about blowing this team up. The Pistons, in their current form, with their current core, have gotten content with winning 50-plus regular season games, sleep-walking through the playoffs, and getting close, but not close enough. Putting the same pieces together again next year and hoping they don't put their game on cruise control is not how to win another NBA Championship.
Putting the same team back together for another run is what's easy. It's the safe course. Joe Dumars, though, should take a risk. He should take a step back in 2009 because it could mean a huge step forward in 2010. Trade Chauncey Billups. Drop Rasheed Wallace. Move Jason Maxiell and Rodney Stuckey into the starting lineup. Oh, and fire Flip Saunders and get a new coach, with some new ideas, and most importantly, some new motivational techniques, in the building.
This current iteration of the Pistons have given us some great memories, and an NBA Title. But it's over. We aren't going to win another NBA Championship with this current team, and keeping them together, while it may make town feel good with their 50-win seasons and constant trips to the Eastern Conference Finals, will not win another ring in its current form. And it's time we stop pretending that they will, realize that we have some very impressive young players, and give them the change to succeed or fail, and hopefully, change the face of the Pistons franchise once again, brining a hunger and determination which the Pistons just simply does not have right now.
Friday, May 23, 2008
By now, most have probably heard about Hillary Clinton's offensive comments earlier today referencing Robert Kennedy's assassination while trying to defend why she has not dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination. Now, I don't think she meant to say "I'm staying in because Barack Obama may get killed" and I do think she really meant that "Look, primary campaigns have gone on until June before" but the comment was incredibly ill-advised. There are plenty of other primary fights she could have referenced, and talking the way she did about the assassination of one of our country's great leaders, even if not ill-willed, was still offensive. But what was even more offensive was her defense of the comments.
The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy and I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, and particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive.
The problem? She's lying. Again. She didn't make the Bobby Kennedy reference because Ted Kennedy was on her mind. How do I know this? Because she's made the assassination comparison before, multiple times, before Ted Kennedy took ill. This is a theme with Hillary Clinton, a repeated one, and not an analogy which happened to be in her head because of Ted Kennedy's illness.
In fact, to use Ted Kennedy's illness as political cover for her remarks is even more offensive than the remarks themselves. As I said, I really believe that her original comments today were inarticulately delivered, and it is a fact that political nomination fights have gone late into the summer before (most times, though, to the detriment of the party fighting, but that's another argument). But her excuse of "Oh, the Kennedy's were on my mind" that wasn't a slip of the tongue or a off-the-cuff remark. It was a prepared justification for her original comments, and it was specifically chosen to give her a justifiable excuse for her comments. And had she not made the comments before, maybe she could get the benefit of the doubt, but knowing that she hasn't, the excuse is worse than the original comments.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
In some ways, there is a real risk in overstating the "Barack Obama mania" that has spread throughout the United States during the fight for the Democratic nomination. While many members of "Obama-Nation" have instantly taken to the Senator and his message, Obama is still unknown to much of the country. He has, after all, only been on the national stage for less than four years, making his debut at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. And as the results from West Virginia showed, where he doesn't spend a lot of time introducing himself to voters, they still are very unfamiliar with him, and aren't willing to take a leap of faith based on the rave reviews the rest of the country has given Obama. And while it might seem contradictory that some can both believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim (at least 10% of the country according to recent polling) and at the same time think that he shares the views of radical former Pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright, many voters do not see the inconsistency (one, , Ben Smith at Politico first noticed).
Then there are days like today, when Barack Obama brings out over 75,000 people in Oregon. No, I didn't add a zero accidentally, he really did have, at least, seventy-five thousand people attend a speech in Oregon. That's beyond incredible for a person who nobody knew outside of Chicago just four years ago, and who hasn't even officially won his party's nomination for the Presidency yet, much less been sworn in and taken over the Oval Office.
The reason why Obama is so exciting as a candidate, and why he can win where other Democrats couldn't, is because he expands the electoral map by creating so much excitement that 75,000 people take their Sunday to come see him speak. As Obama has constantly said, getting elected means nothing if you don't have a mandate to get things done. In order to solve the problems we fight about year after year, you need more than to win an election, you need to build a broad coalition of citizens who will demand nothing less than universal health care, an end to the war in Iraq, and energy policy which saves the planet and ends our dependence on foreign oil, and saves Social Security for my generation (and more importantly my kids and grandkids generation).
Early in the campaign, when Obama was trying to build up his name recognition in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Dakota, he drew tens of thousands of people to rallies. But that was because Oprah Winfrey was introducing him. Just five months later, though, whether its in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia or in Portland, Oregon, Obama is drawing 75,000 people to hear him speak. It's a level of political engagement and interest we have not seen in perhaps a generation. And it's one that should excite all Americans, because even if you don't agree with what Obama stands for, there's no doubt, anything or anybody who engages the citizenry to care about, and participate in the political process, now that's something, or in this case, somebody with a special gift.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
It probably does not come as a shock that I consider myself a Detroit Lions and Detroit Tigers fan first and foremost (I do write a Detroit Tigers blog for MLive.com after all). Don't get me wrong, I love all the Detroit and Michigan sports teams, and choosing between them isn't easy, but if I had to choose, I'd put football and baseball just a bit ahead of hockey and basketball. Just a bit. So I have watched at least 100 Detroit Tigers game a year the past, oh I don't know, the past seven or eight years. It certainly was not a new phenomenon when the Tigers got good three seasons ago. God knows I watched a lot of bad baseball, but throughout high school and undergrad, if I was home, I was watching the Tigers every night during the summer.
This season though, I haven't watched nearly as many games as I have in the past. And it's not because I'm working and am not home and it's not even that I'm watching the Wings and Pistons playoff runs instead (although I am, and certainly I have seen a considerable up-tic in my MSNBC-watching as compared to past years, but with my Slingbox, I could be watching the Tigers at the same time if I really wanted). It's just the Detroit Tigers are not fun to watch, in a way that even the embarrassing and laughable 2004 team did not turn me off as a fan. When the Tigers were the doormat of Major League Baseball, in a strange way, it was okay, because, they weren't even trying. But this season, with expectations high, and excitement palpable because of the trades for Edgar Renteria and Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, for the Tigers to be the worst team in baseball through just over 40 games (or second worse team in baseball to be completely fair) is beyond appalling.
Take tonight's great effort (sarcasm intended) against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Fresh off yet another sweep by the Kansas City Royals, the Tigers started interleague play, and most nights, Dan Haren versus Jeremy Bonderman, I'm in. Instead though, I fell asleep on my couch and made no real effort to make sure I was awake for the 9:40 first pitch. When I did awake from my slumber, I turned on the game. And what did I see almost immediately upon waking up? Carlos Guillen committing yet another costly error at third base, this time throwing what should have been the third out of the seventh inning into the dirt, and allowing what would be the winning run to score. I quickly learned the Detroit Tigers had given up three runs in the seventh, blowing a 3-1 lead (and Jeremy Bonderman's best performance of the year) and they never recovered. Guillen's making a habit of committing game changing errors at third base, a position he was moved to only because he couldn't learn how to play first base, and the Tigers $157 million man, Miguel Cabrera, couldn't play third anymore.
Honestly, the way this season has gone, blowing tonight's game was not a surprise. Every game, you almost just wait for the team to blow it somehow. The team is just not fun to watch. And that's so disappointing given how excited I was and frankly everyone was heading into this season. I don't know what the Tigers can do to turn their season around, but another lineup shakeup is in order. Brandon Inge, almost by default, is going to have be named the everyday third baseman at some point in the near future, and Carlos Guillen is going to have to become the everyday DH. And if Gary Sheffield isn't healthy enough to play the outfield, maybe he needs to sit out. But the Tigers must do something to improve their porous defense. How many games can Jim Leyland let his defense blow while having a potential Gold Glove third baseman sit on his bench? I don't care that Inge can't hit. Neither can most of the other Tigers right now. So at least Inge will provide you a dependable glove at third base.
I wrote over a month ago that the Detroit Tigers slow start wasn't cute anymore. Now, it's simply unacceptable. And while we as Detroit Sports fans can tolerate it for a bit longer because of the great runs the Red Wings and Pistons are on which are taking up most of our attention at the moment, soon the spotlight will be solely on Comerica Park and the Detroit Tigers. And if the Tigers cannot figure out what's wrong with their team, it might just be too bright for some in the Tigers lineup or coaching staff to survive.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Yes, Hillary Clinton won a blowout victory in West Virginia tonight Yawn. Next week, in Oregon, Barack Obama will wrap up a majority of pledged delegates, and having recently taken the lead in Super Delegates, the race is in all but name, over. While Hillary will now try to get Michigan and Florida seated (despite herself saying in October that Michigan was "not going to count for anything") and while Hillary Clinton now saying that one needs 2209 delegates to win (despite herself saying the number was 2,025, the delegates without Florida and Michigan, as recently as last month) Michigan and Florida will not be seated fully, that we know for a fact. Even if they were, she'd still be down almost 100 total delegates (assuming, of course, the "uncommitted" delegates are apportioned to Obama) so then the popular vote matters. Except, if Florida and Michigan are seated at half-strength, delegate wise, how can Hillary claim a full popular vote from those states, especially when she gives Obama zero votes from Michigan because he wasn't on the ballot? So, rant over, it's over, and in early June, Hillary needs to bow out gracefully, and allow the Democrats to rally around our nominee.
The real winner tonight though, was not Hillary Clinton, but the Democratic Party and Travis Childers. Who is Travis Childers you ask? He's the newest member of Congress, the third Democrat to be elected in a Special Election this year, and the third in an overwhelmingly Republican district in an overwhelmingly Republican state, Mississippi. President Bush won Childers' district with over 60% of the vote, the seat was in Republican hands since 1994, and the Republicans did everything they could to hold on to that seat, a seat they had no business losing. They had Dick Cheney come out to the District, they spent millions of dollars, and they ran television advertisements tying Childers to Barack Obama and Rev. Wright. And yet, they still lost. If the Republicans cannot win in the First Congressional District of Mississippi, where on earth can Republicans win this fall? They can't win their own seats, much less swing districts, or poaching Democratic seats. MSNBC described the win as seismic, and the fact that Barack Obama was not a drag on Childers in the reddest of red-state America shows what a force he will be on the top of the Democratic ticket. And it shows how strong a position the Democrats will be in this fall, assuming of course, Hillary Clinton doesn't sink the party by fighting all the way to the convention in Denver.
Monday, May 12, 2008
After a brief blog hiatus, Quo Vadimus is back with regular posts starting tonight, and I'm still in practical disbelief about how great the Detroit Red Wings are playing hockey right now. I have watched the Red Wings for a long time, and in my lifetime, I have seen three Stanley Cups, so many President's Cups (for the best regular season record) I have lost count, and teams with Hall of Fame players from top to bottom. And, yet, I don't think I have ever seen the Wings play as well as they have this playoff run.
Colorado, the once vaunted foe of the Wings, were nothing more than an afterthought. And, yes, part of that was due to injuries which decimated the Avs, but the Wings have kept the pressure on against Dallas, winning the first three games of the Western Conference Finals quite convincingly, and winning the last two games, including tonight's game three, without star-in-the-making Johan Franzen. No worries, Pavel Datsyuk simply scored a hat trick (the first of his career, which is a pretty amazing stat itself) as he and linemate Henrik Zetterberg continue to dominate games.
We're really spoiled here in Detroit. I don't think we really appreciate how great Datsyuk and Zetterberg really are. Some of their goals this post-season, the incredible skating and passing and shooting, have been nothing short of breathtaking. They just make it look so easy.
And goalie Chris Osgood cannot get enough credit for his play. The first 10 minutes of tonight's Game Three was Dallas' chance at surviving and making a real comeback against Detroit. The crowd was into it, Dallas' players were pumped up, and they put the pressure on the Wings and on Osgood. But Ozzie was more than up to the task, and the Wings jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Dallas tied it up (and tied it 2-2) but Ozzie and the Wings defense shut the Stars down after that, and with a 3-0 series lead, the Wings may have back-to-back sweeps ushering them into the Stanley Cup Finals.
And that is just what a starving Hockeytown needed to fall in love all over again with a team which despite its star power and regular season successes, had lost its luster among Detroit sports fans in recent years. Maybe it was the explosion of the Tigers, the tough economy, the strike, or the retirement of Steve Yzerman. For whatever reason, the Wings, despite their star power, were in a rut. Well, the team is now one game away from the Stanley Cup Finals.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Using their second round pick to address their glaring need at linebacker, the Detroit Lions selected Jordon Dizon, a very productive linebacker from Colorado. And I'll leave the debate over whether Penn State's Dan Connor would have been a better fit for another day, because honestly, I don't know which of the two would have been best, and I'll take the Lions coaching staff and scouting department's view that Dizon fits their scheme best.
But the big mistake was not trading back into Round 2 and picking up running back Ray Rice. Rice would have filled a desperate need for them and is an all around back who could have stated from day one for the Lions. And the Lions have extra picks (the third rounder they picked up in the Shaun Rogers trade and the fifth they got today from Kansas City) they could have used to move up. Instead, they sat back, and now who knows which running back will be available when they pick tomorrow. They could have come out of today with a starting offensive tackle, starting linebacker, and starting running back. They failed at getting a running back, and whether Dizon will be good enough to start right away is a serious question.
This was not what the Lions needed coming out of Day One.
You can't blame Matt Millen for this one. The Detroit Lions did not get the player they needed or the player they wanted with their first round pick, but it has nothing to do with Matt Millen's incompetence. It was a confluence of events which could only happen to the Detroit Lions, taking any chance the Lions had of getting the starter they needed away.
It started going bad when the New England Patriots traded down from 7 to 10, because you had to know that they were targeting the Lions dream pick, inside linebacker Jared Mayo, and 10 was a much better spot to take him at than 7. Then Carolina moved way up to take defensive lineman Derrick Harvey (the other dream pick for the Lions). And in between, Keith Rivers was taken by the Bengals. Absolutely screwed on defense.
So let's take Jonathan Stewart, the running back the Lions really liked. Nope, he was gone too.
So they did the best they could with a trade down, moving down two spots with Kansas City, picking up an extra fifth round pick and moving up 10 spots in the third round in the process.
And for the pick itself, they took an offensive tackle, and some guy, I'll be honest, I've never heard of. Gosder Cherilus. He was a first round talent (apparently) but who knows. If they were going to take an offensive tackle, I would have almost rather seen them take Alberts, the guard who is converting to tackle in the NFL. Yes, offensive line, and tackle especially, was a need for them, but running back and linebacker were bigger needs and they have no help there right now.