October 3rd, 2008
Posts categorized “Politics”.
October 2nd, 2008
Oh boy, the Biden-Palin trainwreck! I haven’t been this giddy since the premiere of Temptation Island 2!!
Here’s a preview of what we can expect:
Annnnnd we’re off.
6:02: During the opening handshake, Palin says “Can I call you Joe?” A reference to Obama “arrogantly” calling McCain “John” throughout the first debate? LET THE MINDGAMES BEGIN!!
6:04: Seventeen words into her first response and Palin is already talking about hometown soccer games.
6:06: “Hockey mom” and “Joe Six-Pack” in a single sentence: drain the glass.
6:09: This debate is not going to be about the vice-presidential candidates at all, is it?
6:12: The Queen is swooning to Biden over here.
6:15: Palin’s doin’ pretty good here, but she sounds like the guide in the Space Needle elevator, rattling off the same dates and heights every hour on the hour.
6:18: Biden with the first laugh of the night (“I call that the ultimate Bridge to Nowhere.”)
6:19: This format is terrible. Only enough time to regurgitate soundbites.
6:20: Oh god, stop grinning Biden–you look like the host of Press Your Luck. COME ON SARAH NO WHAMMIES!!
6:24: The way the candidates use every question as an opportunity to laud their running mates is turning this into “My pa could beat up your pa.”
6:28: Wow, what’s going on? Palin’s fallin’ apart. She looks exhausted 28 minutes in. Red Bull is wearing off or something.
6:33: Whoa, a fully unambiguous answer from Biden on gay rights. That was awesome.
6:35: Protip: If you refer to yourself as “tolerant” of gays, you are probably not.
6:37: So here’s how it works: when they switch to a new subject, Palin perks up, starts smiling, and sounds competent. Then, as discussion continues and the needle on her platitude-gauge travels from F to E, she becomes more and more ragged.
6:41: Biden can’t get through a simple declarative statement with detouring through a windy digression on Congressional procedure.
6:44: Mission to dy readers: please identify who pioneered the term “gamechanger” and garrote him.
6:45: Oh man, I love the Castro Brothers. They make great films.
6:46: I think Biden is doing Sudoku while Palin talks.
6:50: “And now, a long distance dedication. Jews in Florida, these canned responses are for you.”
6:53: “We’re gonna learn from the mistakes of this administration in our administration.” It’s a little disheartening to discover that they haven’t yet learned those lessons, that it’s just something on the todo list.
6:56: At the 85 minute mark Palin is going to look at the items on her notecard that she has not yet crossed off and be all, like, “But, Gwen, can we talk for a moment about: gun control, nuclear power, average South Korean height, the filibuster, Syria, and pitbulls vis-a-vis the lipstick thereon?”
7:00: Biden has Al Gore beat on sighing.
7:02: I wish I could be doing what McCain is doing right now. I could use the sleep.
7:03: “Obviously I am a Washington outsider, because I have no idea what you just said.”
7:05: Why ask a question that no vice-candidate would ever answer? It’s like asking “what is your greatest weakness” at a job interview–you know they are just going to say, “sometimes I work too hard …”
7:10: Why is Palin doing her closing statement? What she gonna do in 20 minutes?
7:11: Going for more wine, brb.
7:12: “Well gee whiz golly-darn rootin’ tooin’ yeehaw doggone bless-your-heart shucks there, Gwen. I … uh, what was the question?”
7:13: LOL @ Biden quoting the constitution verbatim from memory. Palin couldn’t even cough up “Guns and Ammo” when asked what she read.
7:18: “My family has had more tragedy than your family” is the new “well I also have a bracelet.”
7:19: I was so busy typing I missed the crying. DAMMIT!!!
7:22: Did not understand Biden’s response at all. Unrelated: I am tipsy.
7:24: Gwen, you fibber–you said that previous question would be the last. This debate has more false endings than Fatal Attraction.
7:26: Palin: “And if I could just give my seventh closing statement …”
7:28: Biden: “And if I could just reinforce the impression that I am a boring old white guy who is prone to rambling …
7:32: Flag pins are out; clearly Downs babies are the new hot accessory. Next year all politicians will walk around with one tucked under their arm.
No spectacular flameouts on either side, which was a grave disappointment. In that sense they both won.
Objectively Biden won on points, but it remains to be seen if that amounts to much in the polls. I can honestly say that I have no guess whatsoever as to how this affects the race. In fact, my gut instinct is that it won’t affect the polls much at all–which is bad news for McCain, as the underdog. Palin’s favorability ratings will probably uptick in the next week or so, but both Biden and Palin focused so heavily on their running mates that it may have just reinforced in the average viewer’s mind that they will not be voting for a VP. In other words, I say this hand is a push–and the pot is just that much larger for the next Presidential debate.
October 2nd, 2008
I had honestly intended to liveblog last Friday’s presidential debate. I even wrote this introduction:
Two weeks ago, when McCain fortunes were riding high, people kept asking me why I was so confident that Obama would still win the election. My answer was a single word: the debates. Well, okay: it was a plural word preceded by an article. Sue me.
There's a lot of pressure on both men tonight. McCain, of course, will have to justify debating in the midst of a crisis so dire that he suspended his campaign. He will probably spend much of the night staring thoughtfully into the middle distance; then, when Jim Lehrer prompts him for a response, he will come out of his reverie and say "I'm sorry, could you repeat the question? I was busy doing the long division necessary to save the economy in my head."
As for Obama, many people are suggesting that he try and provoke McCain into losing his temper. Some tactics he could use are:
- Immediately mimicking the cadence of everything McCain says but substituting "meow" for all the words.
- Repeatedly putting his foot over the pre-agreed "invisible line" that separates the two halves of the stage.
- Referring to his opponent exclusively as "Pops".
Unfortunately the venue I then went to to liveblog the event was having problems with its wireless, so that’s as far as I got. I did grab a piece of paper and a pen, but I’m afraid the Herculean task to making physical marks on a page proved too much, and I wound up making exactly one note:
Obama: "And we also have to affirm all the fledgling democracies in that region, you know, the Estonians, the Lithuanians, the Latvians, the Poles ..." Barack has clearly learned the central lesson of 9/11: NEVER FORGET POLAND!!
Oh well, sorry about that. As compensation, here’s my summary of the entire debate in haiku form:
Find it difficult to look
At the alpha male.
I will 100% absolutely for-sure be liveblogging the Vice-Presidential debate tonight though, oh my goodness yes. Wouldn’t miss it for the world.
September 23rd, 2008
September 9th, 2008
I’d intended to liveblog some of the RNC Convention speeches as I had done for those of the Obamas and Hillary Clinton. But, owing to various causes, I was never in front of my laptop when the speakers were on the stage. The good news is that I heard most of them on the radio in real time, and came up with a mental list of witty and/or insightful comments for each. The bad news is that I am old and have since forgotten all of those observations, except for a vague notion that I had some killer joke involving Guillani and a bicycle with no seat.
Oh well. You know what they say: Lack of anything worth saying is the soul of blog.
Too dumb; didn’t watch.
Sweet baby corn, can this guy deliver a speech or what? The “substance” of his tirade was laughable (Washington is a hotbed of liberalism in need of a McCain-Palin napalming), but few can spoon out the flummery with such aplomb. The crowd also did a good job of pretending like they believed a word of it, except when Romney said “it’s time for the party of big ideas, not the party of Big Brother” and there was a momentary silence while everyone was, like, “wtf dude, I thought you were on our side …?”
Okay, confession time: I kind of like Huckabee. I mean, I like him the same way I like America’s Funniest Home Videos: fun to watch, but I’m glad I’m not the one getting a golf ball to the nuts. Were he ever elected president I would immediately pack up the family and move to Mimas.
Still, for all the right likes to espouse religion when it’s politically expedient, Huckabee strikes me as the real deal. He’s staunchly anti-abortion and anti-gay as you would expect, but also pro-environment (because God entrusted us with the stewardship of the Earth, he says), opposed to the death penalty in principle, and adopted a populism platform in the primaries that seemed to arise from genuine concern with poverty. I like that his positions seem to stem from a consistent philosophical framework, even though I think that framework is dead wrong. Better than those politicians that just adopt whatever position they think will help them win. (This is also why I liked Ron Paul, another candidate I swooned over specifically because there was zero chance that he would actually become president.)
Unfortunately, this was very much a standard convention speech, part of an orchestrated campaign to steal the “change” theme from the Democrats. Two fantastic lines, though. First, “I’m not a Republican because I grew up rich, but because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life poor, waiting for the government to rescue me.” The second line, “[Palin] got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States!” actually made me laugh out loud in my car (and I was genuinely disappointed to later learn that it was a categorically false statement–so sad).
Most of us -- most of us can lift our arms high in the air so that we can signify when we want something. [McCain] can't even lift his arms to his shoulder, which is a constant reminder that his life is marked not by what he's wanting to receive, but rather by what he has already given.
Oh man, so clumsy. Nice metaphor guys, but that one could have used a few more hours in rewrite.
Sarah Palin addresses the 2008 Republican Convention
I really had no strong opinions on Palin going into her speech. Afterward, I continued to have no strong opinions. Why? Because it seemed obvious to me that there wasn’t a trace of Palin in there. It was clearly written for her–frankly, given the short amount of time that had elapsed since the announcement, and the whirlwind of publicity that Palin had endured thereafter, I don’t know that she could have written her own material even had she wanted to.
But while I have no strong opinions on Palin, I do have one grave concern: that she is simply going to serve as an empty vessel into which McCain–or, rather, the McCain campaign–can just pour slogans and bromides. You know, like Chemo.
By the way, I managed to get annotated draft of the speech in which several analogies were considered and discarded before it was decided to compare Palin and “a pitbull with lipstick”. Here were some of the others:
- A shih tzu with a hairdo
- A malamute with a manicure
- A ferret with a frock
- A gecko with glasses
- A penguin with a pregnant daughter
- A capybara with an assault rifle
- A platypus with a bone spur inside of each hind limb which can squirt poison–true fact, look it up
- A kitten with a LOLCAT caption
- A polar bear with no need for endangered species protection
- A crazy person on the street corner holding a REPENT sign
I used to like and admire McCain. In fact, I’m one of those people who would have loved a Kerry/McCain ticket in 2004 (or, to be honest, a Democrat-Who-Was-Not-Kerry/McCain ticket). I appreciated his willingness to buck his own party, and agreed with him on many of the issues (especially his drive for campaign finance reform, opposition to torture, and rejection of the Bush tax cuts for the affluent). You know, back when he was a maverick.
Sadly, in the primary McCain took out more mortgages on his reputation as a reformer than he has on his nine houses. (Oh ZING! You can totally use that one.) So in February, when he finally caved on waterboarding, it was like the final scene in a Shakespearean tragedy. Or perhaps the final installment in a Lucas trilogy, as he joined the ranks of other honorable Republicans who pulled an Anakin. (Powell was another.)
Well, you could argue, all politicians do this: tack to the extremes during the primaries and then head for the center as the general election looms. Obama himself has reversed himself on a number positions, including public campaign funding, the FISA bill (for shame, Senator), and, today, 527s. That’s bad, no doubt about it. But reversing yourself on your signature issues (all of them!) is something else entirely. McCain’s reliance on lobbyists to run his campaign, and his gaming of FEC funding rules, for instance, is diametrically opposed to his past advocacy for campaign finance reform, the issue for which he is the most well-known.
McCain’s acceptance speech was, above all else, boring. Too long, too biographical, and waaaaay too derivative of the Democrats message of change. (Seriously, even Biden didn’t plagiarize like this. Curious how the “party of big ideas”, as Romney dubbed it, can’t cough up with a campaign slogan that hasn’t in the barackobama.com metadata for the last eight months.)
Not that boring is bad–after eight years of Bush’s recklessness, a little boring might be just what the doctor ordered. But, unfortunately, this speech wasn’t “omg policy details zzzzzzzz” boring, but “omg is there anything in here that’s not a platitude or a self-administered back-pat?” boring. Opening call for civility in the campaign, check. Lauding of the running mate, check. Laundry list of things he’s done right in his career, check. The ceremonial calling-out of people placed in the audience and reciting their heart-warming and/or point-illustrating anecdotes, check. Subtle allusion to his time as a POW, check (albeit one followed, three minutes later, by a ten minute recounting of his time as a POW, for those who missed the earlier reference).
So, here’s the good stuff:
I know how the military works, what it can do, what it can do better, and what it shouldn't do. I know how the world works. I know the good and the evil in it.
I know how to work with leaders who share our dreams of a freer, safer and more prosperous world, and how to stand up to those who don't.
I know how to secure the peace ...
I'm running for president to keep the country I love safe and prevent other families from risking their loved ones in war as my family has. I will draw on all my experience with the world and its leaders, and all the tools at our disposal -- diplomatic, economic, military, and the power of our ideals -- to build the foundations for a stable and enduring peace...
Again and again I've worked with members of both parties to fix problems that need to be fixed. That's how I will govern as president. I will reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again.
This passage appears about two-thirds of the way through McCain’s speech, and is immediately followed by the POW stuff. In journalism, that’s called “burying the lede.” Experience is McCain’s most compelling argument, and why they chose to give it only perfunctory mention is beyond me. Maybe this only sells to people like me, for whom Obama’s lack of experience is a genuine concern. Maybe they’ve determined that the base and the Independents are going to vote based on biography, and so that’s what they are going to emphasize from here on out. I don’t pretend to know.
Overall McCain’s speech, while dull, succeeded in reassuring me that a McCain presidency wouldn’t be a disaster. But it did nothing to convince me that such a scenario will ever come to pass. Even in the face of McCain’s bounce, I still think Barack has this election in the bag.
August 29th, 2008
Just a quick note regarding McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. This may have seemed like a good idea on paper–appeal to disgruntled Hillary voters, add a “change” component to the McCain platform, etc.–but I’m betting it’s going to backfire big time.
As many have pointed out, Palin has little experience. Some argue that this works for Democrats: now McCain can not longer belittle Obama for same; others say that it works for McCain: if anyone questions Palin’s experience, they’ll take those quotations and run them in an ad featuring Obama’s smiling mug.
So who will Palin’s lack of experience ultimately favor? I say Obama–but not for the reasons everyone has seized on.
Democrats will assert that Palin’s inexperience is an issue because she’ll assume office if McCain dies … and that gives them license to talk about the likelihood of such scenario. Expect incessant talk about McCain’s age and his health, two topics that were largely taboo before. After all (Dems will argue), they aren’t bringing up McCain’s age to denigrate him–that would be a nasty personal attack, after all–but simply as something to consider when discussing Palin.
Even if the Obama inexperience v. Palin inexperience slugfest winds up as a draw, the age thing will linger. And in the final equation, Americans vote for a President, not a Vice-President. I don’t think the McCain campaign thought this selection all the way through to the bitter (if cynical) end, and they are going to have buyers remorse real quick-like.
August 28th, 2008
Longtime readers of this blog know I have been in the tank for Obama for a while. In Hypothetical World my candidates were Gore and then Dodd, but among the feasible candidates there was really no question who I supported. Hillary I like, and think she would have made a fine president (and perhaps still may), but put succinctly, I am so sick of this dynasty crap.
And call me naive, but despite the (supposed) narrowing polls there’s still no doubt in my mind that, barring electoral shenanigans, Obama’s gonna win it. McCain is, to my mind, some sort of horrible Dole / Kerry hybrid, doomed by the utter lack of enthusiasm he engenders in his party.
Barack still has the task of introducing himself to the vast majority of America which is only now starting to pay real attention to the presidential race. It’ll be interesting to see how he does so.
6:00: Good, if muted, speech by Al Gore. I’ve seen him get really riled up while speaking, but this was him in campaign mode, pulling his punches and just wonking-out up there. Second opinion, courtesy of The Queen: “As soon as Al Gore starts talking, I stop listening.”
6:12: Who is this non-Obama person, and why is she talking … ?
By the way, I busy playing Settlers of Catan last night, which is why I wasn’t able to liveblog Clinton or Biden’s speeches. Saw them both after the fact, though. Bill, it seemed to me, pulled some sort of crafty triple-cross; like, “Give me in a pre-prime time spot, will they? Well I’m going to give such a kick-ass stemwinder that they’ll be wracked with agonizing regret for having stuck me in the six o’clock slot.” Mission accomplished, Big Dog.
Biden: Yeah, whatever. He’ll eviscerate whomever he faces in the debates, but that speech was a yawner.
Now there’s someone else speaking, and he too, by all appearances, is not Obama. I feel tricked, like going to the cinema at the published time and getting 20 minutes of ads before the feature film.
6:22: Speak of the devil, it’s Joe Biden again. Time to read Go, Dog! Go! to Squiggle.
6:30: Oh jeeze, who are these people? Delegates? I gotta say, that dog party was looking a lot more lively that the democratic party, right now.
6:36: TV is on mute. A woman with indigo hair is speaking, possibly an X-man of some sort.
6:50: TV still on mute. The mouth of PBS commentator Mark Shield is moving and in my head I hear the voice of Droopy Dog.
6:57: Dick Durban is now introducing Obama, and just bad-mouthed cold pizza. WAY TO LOSE MY VOTE THERE, CHAMP.
7:00: “And now there will be a video, to introduce Barack Obama.” Up next: the cast of Gossip Girl introducing Barack Obama, followed by the 1976 Barber Of The Year (West Division), who will introduce Barack Obama.
7:08: I want a framed picture of that portrait of Obama and his grandfather. Also: whenever he says “the Fat Cats” I just want to pinch his cheeks, it’s so adorable.
7:10: Obama just came out, and the sound engineer is probably already fired. It sounds like 17 of the 60,000 people in attendance are applauding.
7:12: Apparently Obama is going to utter one “thank you” for each person in attendance before beginning.
7:14: Accepted the nomination, thanked Hillary Clinton, thanked Bill Clinton. Then stopped for a moment, pulled a piece of paper from his breast pocket, and crossed the first three items off his to-do list.
7:16: Lapel pin.
7:19: Confidential to audience: when he says “Veterans are sleeping on the streets” you’re not supposed to chap and cheer.
7:20: “On November 4th, we must stand up and say ‘eight is enough’.” Including that joke does not reflect well on his judgment.
7:21: “too much mccain. too little obama” What he said.
7:27: This speech really is for the benefit for those who have not paid attention to the race thus far. If you’ve been following the campaign at all, you’ve heard all this before.
7:30: Okay, here we go. He’s mentioning actual policy, and started with taxes. #2, taxes. #3, taxes. #4, end dependence on foreign oil.
7:33: Buh? Did he just endorse nuclear power? Ballsy and awesome.
7:35: Little hearts float out of the top of my head when Obama speaks about Big Dreams.
7:38: McCain could just repeat this portion of the speech at the RNC, if the RNC still stood for (actual) conservatism.
7:40: Just openly questioned McCain’s temperament. Oh man, I can’t wait for the debates. If McCain wears his cranky pants that day, that could be the end of it right there.
7:45: Each ten minute block of this speech is better than the last.
7:50: Bumpersticker manufactures around the nation are scrambling to get “CHANGE HAPPENS” decals on the assembly line now.
7:52: Keeps saying “promisssssss”; sounds like Gollum.
7:55: Obama is totally emulating the Dr. King speaking-style while talking about MLK. I wonder if that’s on purpose or, like, when you talk to a Brit and unconsciously lapse into an English accent.
7:56: That ended very … abruptly. Suddenly The Queen and I are sitting in our living room, drinking beer, and listening to country music against our will.
7:58: The PBS pundits are all, like, “I’m not … sure … what’s going on ..”
Kind of a strange speech. The first half was like a “Greatest Hits” compilation of various lines used on the stump and in the primaries; the second half covered essentially the same ground, but was all fresh and newly written. It was like Obama pasted his usual rhetoric in Word, used it as a guide to write a brand new speech, and then neglected to delete the old stuff before delivery.
That said, the second half was great, with a lot of attention paid to Big Ideas and unity–something we haven’t seen much of recently, as the Obama campaign has been bogged down in responding to the fusillade of negative messages coming from McCain. Hopefully they will again fly the banner of Hope going forward, and not get suckered into these rope-a-dope tit-for-tat flamewars.
August 27th, 2008
There’s a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could define honor for us?
Read it in my books.
I’ve read your books.
No, I’m not going to define it.
But honor in politics?
I defined it in five books. Read my books.
[Your] campaign today is more disciplined, more traditional, more aggressive. From your point of view, why the change?
I will do as much as we possibly can do to provide as much access to the press as possible.
But beyond the press, sir, just in terms of …
I think we’re running a fine campaign, and this is where we are.
Do you miss the old way of doing it?
I don’t know what you’re talking about.
August 26th, 2008
Typo week continues here at dy, as I liveblog Hillary Clinton’s speech.
6:55: Hmm, Mark Warner is still speaking. He just told a convoluted story that ended with “and that’s how I wound up at the gymnasium of a high school.” Right. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that you keep getting older, but they stay the saaaaame age.
6:59: And so ends the keynote speech. Four years ago, right at this moment, I was shouting at the television, “Holy shit dude, you’re gonna be President some day!”
7:00: By the way, some funnyguy-and/or-gal at Slate is also liveblogging the convention at http://twitter.com/Slate. Go check it out, or just keep refreshing my site–I’m gonna steal all the good jokes from there anyhow.
7:05: They are interviewing Michelle Obama now. She seems a little confused. They keep asking asking her, “what were you trying to do in your speech last night?’ and she’s, all, “I thought I covered that ground … in the speech … last night …”
7:12: Michelle says that one of the things her husband will do as President is “touch people”.
Funny, Hillary said the same thing in 1992 …
7:14: WTF, I thought Hillary was on at 7:00. No? Well, she better not come on in the next 40 minutes, because now I’m a-gonna watch this episode of Prison Break.
7:25: Okay, so see this guy is a structural engineer, and he purposely got himself locked into prison because brother, who’s on death row, was framed for– maybe I should stop liveblogging now.
7:30: Switching back and forth between Prison Break and the convention. They are starting to blur together. Except at the convention we’re not trying to get out of jail, we are trying to get out of Republican rule. And instead of looking at ripped young men in undershirts, we get to see David Brooks.
7:34: Oh, here we go: Hillary Clinton pre-speech video biography. They just showed a picture of Bill with the caption “Hillary’s Husband”
7:40: Holy smokes, I bet the Clintons went another $12m is debt making that tribute to themselves.
7:41: Hillary looks fabulous. Independent corroboration: Bill is leering at his own wife.
7:43: Affirmed her support for Obama in the first sentence. And the second. And the third. This is going to be a full-throated endorsement of unity.
7:45: Whoa, they just showed Michelle and she was either choked up with emotion or giving Hillary the hairy eyeball. GO BACK I WANT TO KNOW WHICH!!
7:48: A big shout-out to my homie autism. WOOOHOO!
7:50: LOL’d at “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits”
7:52: ZZZzzzzzzzz laundry list of Bush bad, my campaign good.
7:55: Beginning to think she’s going to accept the nomination at the end of this speech.
7:56: Okay, here we go. Making a strong case of Barack. Although when she said, “It won’t be easy” I thought for a moment she was going to finish with, “supporting Obama.”
7:58: Michelle is still making that face. You can tell that the networks aren’t sure what it means either, because as soon as they cut to her they cut away as quickly as possible.
8:00: Dude, McCain just got brutalized.
8:03: They’ve given up on Michelle. Now they are just cutting to Chelsea.
8:05: I don’t really understand where that the Harriet Tubman digression came from, but the audience lapped it up.
8:06: Conservative spin tomorrow, today: Speech didn’t end with “God bless America” and is therefore invalid in the continental US.
Very nice speech. Very, very nice, I’m really impressed. She spoke about herself a fair amount as was her right, but her challenge to her supporters–were you voting for me, or were you voting for the best possible future for America?–is an almost irrefutable argument in favor of Obama.
Hillary is going to get rave reviews for this speech, as well she should.
August 26th, 2008
Just in time for Hillary Clinton’s appearance at the Democratic convention, the McCain campaign has rolled out a new video that samples her infamous “3 AM’ ad.
Of course it just snipes at Obama, without saying what McCain himself would do if woken at 3 AM by a call. My guess is that he would groggily pick up the handset to his rotary phone, bellow “you punks quit calling about Prince Albert!!!”, and then blow a sports whistle into the mouthpiece.