Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Cynicism of the Palin Nomination

My initial impression of Sarah Palin is that she's an engaging politician and public figure who's a lightweight in terms of national politics and international affairs. The short-term question about the politics of the Palin appointment concerns how quickly she learns, whether she can avoid embarrassing herself as she learns more about the world beyond Alaska, and how she projects herself through the national media. One thing is for sure. Pahlin's learning curve is going to be steep. Before her nomination, her interests were overwhelmingly local. Even responding to earlier speculation about her being nominated for vice-president, she quickly brought the discussion back to the local interests of Alaska:

As for that "V.P. talk"...I tell ya, I still can't answer that question uh, until somebody answers, for me, What is it exactly that the V.P. does, every day? I'm used to, uh, being very productive and working real hard in an administration...we want to make sure that that V.P. slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we're trying to accomplish up here for the rest of the U.S., before I can even start addressing that, uh, that question.

Democratic surrogates and the media focus on Palin's lack of foreign policy experience. She doesn't seem to have any experience with the economy, health care, infrastructure, or education either. That doesn't necessarily mean that Palin has no potential. The point is that nobody knows what Palin's potential is. I don't know. The media and the Democrats don't know. Most important, the McCain campaign doesn't know what Sarah Palin's about.

And that's what makes the Palin nomination so inappropriate.

There is no way that McCain could have known much about Palin. Before nominating the Alaska governor, McCain's had only met Palin once or twice and talked with her on the phone once. His advisers might not have known her even that well. Given that he had minimal information on Palin, McCain was in no position to know how prepared she might be to be vice-president, the nature of her temperament, or whether she's capable of engaging in a national level campaign. In fact, the McCain camp did not vett Palin at all and it appears that McCain did not have any more information about Palin than was available to the average blogger.

Perhaps not even that much.

According to conservative journalist and former Bush speechwriter David Frum:
Sarah Palin may well have concealed inner reservoirs of greatness. I hope so! But I'd guess that John McCain does not have a much better sense of who she is, what she believes, and the extent of her abilities than my enthusiastic friends over at the [National Review Online] Corner.

In the final analysis, Palin's lack of experience says a lot more about McCain's cynicism than it says about Palin. Why did McCain nominate Sarah Palin? The most important reason was he wanted to drive the news cycle. Because the McCain camp expected that Obama's Thursday night speech to be extremely successful, they wanted to make a big splash on Friday as a way to keep the media from giving Obama a great deal of credit.

McCain chose Palin primarily as a "surprise female candidate" to dominate the news and didn't believe that he needed to have a lot of detailed knowledge for that purpose. So, the McCain campaign didn't vet Palin, didn't have McCain campaign with her, or try her out as a surrogate before nominating her. I understand the reasoning behind this. Winning "media cycles" is important for a McCain campaign that's always in danger of falling permanently behind and any contact with Palin risked spoiling the media value of the nomination.

At the same time, the cynicism of treating the vp nomination as a disposable media product is typical McCain. For McCain, there is little that is not disposable in this way. The cynicism can be seen on the policy level with McCain's ever-changing positions on taxes, immigration, campaign finance reform, and judicial nominations. But it's probably even more cynical that McCain has adopted the same Karl Rove mentality about personally attacking opponents that George Bush used against him in 2000. For McCain, all the slime bombs that he and the rest of the right are throwing at Obama are "just politics" and kind of fun at that.

In a way, McCain's worse than Bush. After 9-11, the Bush administration had an authentic mission of remaking the world that they pursued in a dishonest and criminal manner. All McCain has is his cynical drive to get elected "by all means necessary." If the country were so unfortunate as to elect McCain, we basically would be set adrift as neither a McCain administration nor the Democrats in Congress would have the mandate or the political capacity to govern. It would be four more years like the last two years of the lame duck Bush administration. It would be a disaster.

Oh No! A Grad Student in the Family

Well, Mrs. RSI is officially a graduate student at the University of Kentucky. Yesterday was her last day of work as a school nurse with the Gateway Health District. Mrs. RSI got a touching send-off from her school. The nurse who replaced her got all 200 kids in the elementary school to sign a card and then presented it in a school assembly.

I'm not usually big for sentiment, but I must say that Mrs. RSI is well deserving.

Later, we had a nice gathering with friends and their children on the patio of the local Italian restaurant and just talked about stuff. It turned out that one of our friends was a shot-putter in high school just like me.

I knew there was something special about her.

This morning, Mrs. RSI went off to her first class in the Masters in Nursing program at the University of Kentucky in Lexington sixty miles away. Before she left, the girls and I admonished her that she needed to "make good choices" while she was at school.

Then, she was on her way.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah's The One

Here's some short takes on the Sarah Palin nomination:

Experience. Barack Obama's been a national figure for almost four years. Sarah Palin's been a national figure for almost four hours.

Palin's Role Model. Joe Biden said that John McCain would be picking the next Dick Cheney for Vice-President. McCain picked the next Dan Quayle instead.

The Hillary Effect. Hillary Clinton's candidacy was about expanding opportunities for women. Little did Sarah Palin know that she would be the first woman to benefit from those opportunities.

The Bill Effect. Chris Matthews claimed that Hillary Clinton wouldn't have been running for president if Bill hadn't slept around on her. Sarah Palin would be running for vice-president if Bill hadn't slept around on Hillary either.

The Republicans and Women. By nominating Sarah Palin, conservative Republicans have proved once again that they don't hate women. Conservatives have two behaviors toward women-- hating women or proving that they don't hate women.

Foreign Policy Experience. Who says Sarah Palin doesn't foreign policy experience. She has visited the Lower 48.

It Takes a Village. Before being elected governor, Sarah Palin's main political experience was serving as mayor of her hometown of Wassila, Alaska--population 8,000 and change. Yes, it does take a village to raise a vice-president.

Cindy Shouldn't Worry. Miss Teen RSI thinks that John McCain is sleeping with Sarah Palin. But Cindy shouldn't worry. Sarah Palin only owns three houses.

It's Sarah Palin for McCain VP

Well, McCain didn't pull the trigger on Lieberman after all. It makes me glad that I didn't write all those posts about how sure I was that it was going to be Lieberman.

Sarah Palin is a safe choice for the right wing. She's pro-life and has five kids with one of them being a Down's Syndrome baby. Palin's also a kind of political reformer who ousted an ethically tainted governor. That means she won't be easy to associate with the Mitch McConnell/Tom DeLay corruption wing of the Republican Party.

Two points:

1. Given that the Palin announcement came the day after Obama's speech, I'm not sure there's going to be much of a "Palin Promotion Blitz" before her own nomination next Wednesday.

2. Palin is going to have to answer a lot of questions about her knowledge of foreign policy in general and domestic policy in the other 49 states. There's reason to suspect that she's never been interested in much outside Alaska.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama's Speech--Welding together Principles, Policies, and Testimony

The Tremendousness of it All. Barack Obama's acceptance speech was such a monster home run that it might be reverberate all the way through the Republican convention next week.

The speech was so good that it's difficult to think of images that fully capture the quality of Obama's thought, the skill in his rhetorical constructions, and forcefulness of his emotion.

But that doesn't mean I can't try.

Obama's speech was so tremendous it left the McCain camp speechless.

Hillary and Bill Clinton's speeches were terrific and hit all the supportive marks they needed to hit. But as good as they were, Obama was better and seeing the speech made it possible to understand why he won the Democratic nomination.

Like any other Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama has to face down the GOP slime machine. The speech succeeded extremely well at this as Obama confronted McCain's most popular ads head on without being defensive in the slightest. Describing how he saw the faces of his family in returning veterans from the Iraq war, college students who have to hold jobs while in school, and woman talking about setting up small businesses, Obama portrayed his own family as a model of everyday patriotism, hard work, and achievement. Then he addressed McCain's celebrity ads:
I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as President of the United States.
By rooting himself in lower middle-class striving, Obama rooted himself in everyday American life in a way that powerfully belied the celebrity aspersions in McCain's attack ads.

Finally, as a new public figure and an African-American swimming against the tide of racial stereotypes, Obama has to prove himself over and over. Tonight Obama proved himself yet again just as he proved himself against Hillary Clinton and during his overseas trip. For that, Obama will get another chance to prove himself during the debates.

Why Obama's Speech Worked So Well. Barack Obama's speech was excellent in many ways. He was especially successful in staking out his own positions and he could do so because he did such an excellent job os welding together core values, specific policy proposals, and personal testimony.

Obama articlated his idea of core American values in several versions of this sentence:
That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.
There are two sides of the rhetorical equation--individual striving and obligations to other people. Andrew Sullivan views Obama's speech as quintessentially liberal--"more unabashedly, unashamedly liberal than any Democratic acceptance speech since the great era of American liberalism" in the 1960's. Actually, the individual elements in Obama's equation--responsibility, hard work, drive, innovation, and success--have strong echoes of the conservative Democratic themes that resulted in welfare reform during the 1980's and 1990's. But Obama connects these kinds of "bedrock" values to liberalism in a very common-sense way when he stresses that government needs to do "that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology." By incorporating conservative values into a liberal framework, Obama articulates a kind of stripped-down "consensus liberalism" that had a great deal of rhetorical force but could also appeal to anyone socialized into American traditions.

Then, Obama articulated his specific policy proposals in terms of his core values. The Democrats often get criticized for either talking about values without policy or talking about policy in a way that's unconnected to core values. But Obama avoided these shortcomings.

Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the
American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes - cut taxes - for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

Obama avoided wonkishness by articulating his proposals briefly and clearly. But he was also successful in connecting each of those proposals to core values of striving, work, and responsibility. That's a lot of the reason these kinds of economic proposals--which are standard Democratic Party proposals--had a force that most Democratic politicians aren't able to give them. The same was the case with Obama's proposals on education, health care, energy, and foreign policy. They were brief, specific, and closely connected to his vision of what's at the core of American life.

What gave all of this even more force was that Obama was successful in further connecting his policy proposals and vision of core values with testimony about lower-middle class and middle-class Americans. At the beginning Obama told a number of anecdotes about his mother, grandmother, grandfather, factory workers in Indiana, women starting up small businesses, and the like. Having done so, Obama set himself up to pose the idea of his idea of political change as a force that emerged from outside Washington:

You have shown what history teaches us - that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it - because they rise up and
insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.

And I've seen it in this campaign. In the young people who voted for the first time, and in those who got involved again after a very long time. In the Republicans who never thought they'd pick up a Democratic ballot, but did. I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day than see their friends lose their jobs, in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb, in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.

Obama's testimonials to the power and possibility of the yearning for change were capped by a final, and very moving, testimonial to the civil rights movement. Yesterday was the 45th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream Speech" and Obama held off any reference to the speech until the end of his speech when he represented Martin Luther King and civil rights activism as a particularly American movement that "pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend."

By linking up everyday striving and the various ways that most people sacrifice for each other with Martin Luther King in this way, Obama was able to present ground his policies in a compelling vision of the United States as a society brought together by a shared yearning for a "better future."

It was great stuff. I'm glad I saw it.

Obama Better Than a Rock Star--A Note on Appearances

The McCain campaign and the Republicans have a lot of fun with Obama's "rock-star" and "celebrity" status. But Obama did not look like a rock star during his speech at Invesco Field tonight.

He looked better. A lot better.

When I see telecasts of bands playing the Super Bowl and other stadium venues, my first impression is almost always that the band is physically overwhelmed by the massiveness of the space.

That didn't happen to Obama. Most of the time, the cameras stayed fairly tight on his face and Obama filled up the camera with smiling, impassioned, tough, and determined expression. It was a stadium speech in front of more than 80,000 people.
Even when cameras panned away from Obama to his backdrop, they did so in a way that did not diminish Obama's physical presence. Obama was helped by the bright blue flooring. It had an electric, bright, bouncy feeling that went along very well with the beginning of his speech. He was also helped by the way he was placed out front, by himself in such a way that background visuals couldn't clutter from Obama's presence.
The people who arranged the cameras also had a way to pan to the audience without making Obama look as small compared to the stadium as he actually was. It looked like the directors had the cameras pan to fairly small sections of the large crowd rather than try to capture the crowd as a whole. Obama would have looked small if he had been justaposed to the whole crowd. Arrayed against small sections, he looked comparatively larger.

Partly because of brilliant staging, Obama dwarfed the stadium.

The Latest Fiasco of the Repugnant Conservative

Today, the John McCain campaign has to throw another conservative under the bus. This time it was John Goodman, a guy who seemed to have served as an adviser on his health care proposal. Goodman's clever idea is that everybody "effectively" has health insurance because they have access to the emergency room.

Here's Goodman's "solution" to the problem of those who don't have health insurance (via Talking Points Memo)
"So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime," Mr. Goodman said. "The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American -- even illegal aliens -- as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care. "So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved."

What goes unstated in relation to these kinds of conservatives is just how repugnant and inhuman they are--the lack of concern for human suffering of any kind, the eagerness to cover up inconvenient facts, the smugness with which it's all done.

It's just disgusting.

Live Blogging Bill Richardson

8:16, Bill Richardson wasted no time laying into John McCain. He must have been reading RSI when he said that John McCain was telling people they didn't know their own minds.

Best line: "John McCain pays hundreds of dollars for his shoes, but he's going to make you pay for his flip flops."

Joe Biden--The Good and the Bad

Joe Biden got very emotional in his VP acceptance speech, largely because Biden views the VP nomination as a validation of his political career. Last night, that quest for validation gave his speech an emotional authenticity that added a great deal to the oratorical quality of the speech.

But the downside is that Biden needs that validation so badly. That's what often makes him questionable as a top level politician.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Forward Leader vs the Default Option

Liberal blogger Matt Yglesias reminds me of something I've thought for a long time. Noting high favorability ratings for both Obama and McCain, Yglesias claims that "before this campaign started, John McCain was the most popular politician in America and Barack Obama was a widely admired rising political star."

It's a good insight, but I'd go a little farther. John McCain has been the most popular politician in the United States since 2000. As a result of the 2000 campaign, McCain had a very strong base of support among moderates and independents and was also liked and trusted on the left. In fact, I believe that McCain was more broadly popular than either Gore and Bush during the 2000 general election campaign. The only constituency that disliked and distrusted McCain was the conservatives who dominated the Republican Party. Of course, that was enough to keep him from winning the Republican nomination. But McCain was a dominant political figure.

McCain remained highly popular through the beginning of the 2008 election campaign. That popularity was somewhat "well-worn" as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama emerged as popular Democrats and McCain's began to strongly defend the war in Iraq. But McCain was still popular enough that he could serve as a "default option" for Republicans when alternative candidates like Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney proved to be unpopular.

The durability of McCain's popularity has a significant impact on the race between him and Obama. Most important, McCain's personal popularity has made it possible for him to stay even in the race despite popular disdain for the Bush administration and broad hostility toward the Republican Party and conservativism as an ideology. John McCain has been able to sustain the "McCain Brand" despite associating himself with damaged goods in the Republican Party.

As a result, one of the questions for the Republican convention next week is whether the assocition with Republican figures like Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and various Republican senators and members of Congress is going to help or hurt McCain.

I suspect the latter.

The durability of McCain's personal popularity also defines some of the tactics around Barack Obama. Obama has slightly higher "favorable" ratings than McCain at present, one of the most important objectives of Obama's campaign has to be solidifying his "favorability" ratings as voters get to know him. Obama needs to prove himself over and over again in order for people to fully trust their positive perceptions of him. That's why Obama's overseas trip was important for him. Questions had been raised concerning Obama's ability to lead in foreign affairs. Obama needed to show that he could do it.

This is why Obama needs to keep having an affirmative, positive dimension to his campaign. He wants to keep reinforcing his general favorability.

At the same time, Obama and his surrogates need to convince voters that John McCain is no longer the politician they grew to respect between 2000 and 2004. It's not so much "tearing down" McCain as convincing people that McCain is no longer the politician they originally liked and trusted. Last night at the Democratic convention, Joe Biden was especially effective at contrasting Barack Obama's positions to McCain's to show that McCain's views had become exactly the same as President Bush's.

Conversely, much of what the McCain campaign is about is an effort to encourage voters to question their own favorable impressions of Barack Obama. In some ways, McCain's campaign reminds me of the efforts of the Los Angeles police in relation to the Rodney King trial back in the early 90's. Because the police officers were shown beating Rodney King on videotape, their defense attorneys focused their efforts on convincing jurors to believe the police accounts rather than their own eyes. This is what McCain is doing with Obama as well. At bottom, the McCain campaign's repeated sneering at Obama as a "celebrity" is an effort to convince people that their positive impressions of Obama's speeches and campaigning are wrong and that Obama is "really" a shallow Britney Spears/Paris Hilton kind of person.

For Obama, this means that he needs to redouble his efforts to solidify the connection between himself as a leader with his largely popular positions on the issues. Obama's mainstream Democratic views on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economy, taxes, social security, and education are all broadly in line with American public opinion. Currently, Obama is seen as an intelligent and charismatic leader and plausible presidential candidate. To seal the deal, Obama needs to establish himself as the political leader who can effectively champion these important issues over the coming eight years. In other words, Obama needs to show himself as "the man" (to quote Jack White from The Root) for an ambitious, forward-looking political agenda.

Otherwise, a majority of voters could vote for McCain as a "default option" they know and trust.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bringing in the Big Leaguers

A Big Leaguer. Michelle Obama was a highly effective amateur, but Monday night was basically amateur night at the Democratic Convention. Last night, the Democrats brought in the big leaguers for the prime time television slots. Former Virginia governor Mark Warner gave an outstanding keynote address that focused on broad opportunity and creativity as competitive advantages for the United States. I have to admit that I've always been suspicious of Warner because of his reputation as a "moderate," and "non-partisan," which usually means "agree with the Republicans," Democrat. But Warner's speech was much more of an Al Gore vision of the tremendous opportunity that can be created as the U. S. addresses energy and environmental issues. Warner had a lot of ideas and he delivered the speech with fire and enthusiasm even if one could still see a little of the geek behind the heavy hitter. Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats have a deep bench of credible "presidential" figures behind Barack Obama. Mark Warner is one of them.

Hillary in Her Own League. If Mark Warner's speech was outstanding, Hillary Clinton's was even better. Before getting into what Hillary Clinton said, I thought that her commanding presence on the podium was a strong testament to her leadership ability and the leadership ability of all women. Much of what Hillary Clinton established with her presidential campaign is that women could be more than plausible as candidates for president of the United States. And Hillary continues to represent herself as "presidential timber" even in defeat.

I may be biased because I supported Hillary Clinton up through the Kentucky primary in May, but I agree with everyone who sees her speech as a monster home run. What Hillary needed to do most was to urge her most disappointed supporters to get behind Obama. That hasn't been a problem for me. I've always thought well of Obama despite the fact that I liked Hillary better and Obama outhustled and outfought Hillary during the primaries. He deserved to win. But a large number of Hillary supporters are still doubtful and Hillary directly challenged them directly by asking if they really believed in the issues that Hillary was fighting for. It was the best way for Hillary to appeal to disappointed supporters. Hillary Clinton's views on health care, education, foreign affairs, and veterans are almost exactly the same as Obama's. The best way for her to talk to her supporters was to emphasize what she and Obama shared in this way.

At the end of Hillary's speech, she referred to the first women's rights meeting in Seneca Falls, NY in 1848 and made an extended reference to underground railroad heroine Harriet Tubman and her urging women to "keep going, keep going, keep going." I thought that was an inspired way to bring together the traditions of women and African-Americans striving for opportunity and equality in the United States.

I was inspired by it anyway.

One of the questions tonight is whether Joe Biden is in the same league as Hillary Clinton. I suspect that Biden will do well even if he's not quite at Hillary's level.

Last night, Hillary was in a league with few peers and her husband is not one of them.

Fortunately, Barack Obama is.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Democratic Convention--Day One

Gotta Love the Democrats--Not so much the politicians, but the everyday Democrats in the convention hall. It's not just the top of the ticket that's diverse. The Democratic convention has been a testament to American diversity since the 70's. White Democrats, Asian-American Democrats, Asian-American Democrats, and Hispanic Democrats could all be seen tonight. Fifty percent of the Democratic delegates are women and a lot of emotion and personality was shown on the faces of female delegates as Teddy Kennedy and Michelle Obama were speaking.

The Democrat Party has never done particularly well by women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans. For that matter, the Democrats haven't done very well by gays either and it's been awhile since they've done much for labor unions. One of the real disappointments of the Democratic Party is that the leadership has never been strong enough, principled enough, or clever enough to redeem the hopes of all their supporters.

But the willingness of active people from all of these groups to continue supporting the Democrats despite repeated disappointment is a testimony to the resilience of hope among the many groups that continue to be disadvantaged and discriminated against in American society.

All of these folks are a testimony to the human spirit.

Good Atmospherics. I like the design of the platform stage. It's largely a blue stage and backdrop, interspersed with red and pink color columns. It has a sweeping, dramatic kind of effect. There is some Republican commentary that the colors are "pastel" and "weak" compared to the colors of the official flag. I don't find that to be the case. The design strikes me as inspired by internet graphics and has a very kind of bright, optimistic, buoyant effect. It's consistent with Obama's message of America as a nation of hope, promise, and progress. The Republicans tend to view strength in terms of attacking and being under siege. For the Democrats, strength lies in a kind of bounding vitality and it's precisely this vitality that the cameras pick up in the faces of the delegates as they pan the crowd.

A Comment on Speeches. Michelle Obama's speech was by far the best speech that I saw this evening and far outshone Nancy Pelosi and Teddy Kennedy. What's interesting about that to me is that Michelle Obama is still a non-politician despite the fact that she's been on the campaign trail for almost 20 months.

One of the understated themes of the Democratic Party is the extent to which they've become the "family love" party. Once again, there's a big difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. When the Republicans say "family values," they mean a series of "no's"--no abortion, no pre-marital sex, no single mothers, no gay rights, and no to equality between men and women in the household. They might as well call them "frigid family values." To the contrary, the Democrats are all about love, energy, warmth, and nurturing whether its Nancy Pelosi talking about her grandchildren, Teddy Kennedy on his gigantic boat, or the on-stage enthusiasm of Barack Obama's daughter.

The person who was best at this was Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama's enthusiasm and happiness were almost as infectious as that of her seven-year old daughter's. She had a very effective way of grounding herself in motherhood and community while expressing her own aspirations as the aspirations of everyone. Michelle Obama even reached to the famous St. Crispin's Day speech in Shakespeare's Henry V to link all families to the Obama presidential campaign.

Here's Shakespeare:

This day is call'd the feast of Crispian. He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd, And rouse him at the name of Crispian. He that shall live this day, and see old age, Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.' Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.' Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot, But he'll remember, with advantages, What feats he did that day.

And Michelle Obama:
And as I tuck that little girl and her little sister into bed at night, I think about how one day, they'll have families of their own. And one day, they - and your sons and daughters - will tell their own children about what we did together in this election. They'll tell them how this time, we listened to our hopes, instead of our fears. How this time, we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming. How this time, in this great country - where a girl from the South Side of Chicago can go to college and law school, and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House - we committed ourselves to building the world as it should be.
Just as Shakespeare portrayed "old men" as showing their wounds and telling the feats they did at Agincourt, Michelle Obama expects young mothers "to tell their own children about what we did together in this election."

It was a great touch.

Unfortunately, Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy did not do nearly as well. Watching Pelosi speak was positively painful and made me wonder whether the Democratic leadership was going to fail at crunch time yet again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Should I Trust My Mother-In-Law?

My mother-in-law just got off the phone saying that PBS was saying that McCain was going to announce his VP pick and that it would be Lieberman.

I made a quick internet check and couldn't confirm that, but thought I'd pass it along anyway.

Obama Nominates--Republicans Attack

In what has to be the least surprising event of the 21st century, the McCain campaign launched attack ads as soon as Obama announced that Joe Biden was his choice for VP. The idea was to hurt Obama among Hillary Clinton voters by questioning why Obama didn't choose Hillary.

Conservative media presence William Kristol also has a column out criticizing Obama as having a "glass ceiling" for women.

Of course, if Obama had chosen Hillary Clinton as his VP, the Republicans would have launched attack ads criticizing her as well. Likewise, if he had nominated Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, Kristol would have called it "the worst form of affirmative action."

It looks like the McCain campaign and the Republicans are turning the presidential election into a "free fire zone" in which they shoot at anything that moves.

But there is also a point when the attack ads start having diminishing returns.

If the McCain campaign attacks everything about Obama, they could find that each bullet hurts a little bit less as the criticism has less and less impact.

In this sense, the main effect of yesterday's attacks on the Biden nomination might have been to lessen the impact of McCain's next round of attack ads.