Thursday politics

I haven’t caught much of the convention. Ted Kennedy was inspiring. Hillary’s speech sounded good on paper, but I haven’t seen the video. I did catch her calling for Obama’s nomination to happen by acclamation, which was a pretty effective piece of political theater, I thought. Bill was pretty great. Biden’s sounding good — “This administration’s policy has been an abysmal failure.” He’s got the self-confidence to engage McCain on foreign policy. “John McCain was wrong, and Barack Obama was right.”

And the big speech tonight should be fun.

A further thought, on seeing Obama emerge from backstage to give a few “impromptu” remarks: This whole thing is pretty ridiculous, isn’t it? Making it all about Obama or McCain? Pretending to ourselves that one leader or the other will make it all better? We really need to switch to a parliamentary system and get over this nonsense. Vote for the party, get a competent prime minister who only holds power by virtue of being head of the party. Maybe have a ceremonial president like Arnold Schwartzenegger or some minor Kennedy.

What else about the convention?

51 responses to “Thursday politics”

  1. The convention reminds me how much I don’t enjoy watching political speeches on T.V., even good ones. Something about the medium just makes me tune out. Bet it would be exciting to be there though.

    But — I’m holding out hope for the acceptance speech tonight. The man is a very fine speaker and the occasion damn momentous.

  2. Scotty says:

    I’ve gone back and forth between watching the convention on TV and listening to it on NPR, and have found that the speeches sound a lot more genuine when I can’t see the speaker’s eyes following the lines of a teleprompter. That said, and my thoughts on our two party system aside, I thought that Hilary did a great job, which made me wonder how many Obama supporters were feeling a pang of regret.

    Unfortunately, I missed Bill’s live broadcast, but from what I saw, it seemed solid. I thought Kerry sounded great, and I was quite moved by Biden’s speech, especially the part about riding the train past the houses on his way home in the evening – Americans sitting at their kitchen tables, and having to ask questions and make difficult choices that most never thought that they’d have to make. I did think it was funny, however, that he slipped and said “eat” instead of “heat” the house.

    To my mind, the sad thing about modern conventions is that they’re so scripted. Imagine, it was only thirty or so years ago that party platforms were actually voted for on convention floors. Unlike the Modesto Kid, however, I think it all makes for good TV. I especially like how on ABC the convention switches directly to scheduled programming without a commercial break. I would’ve never seen an episode of “Wipe Out!” if this weren’t the case.

    But yes, Dave, I agree about a parliamentary system being way superior.

  3. swells says:

    I had the same experience–i listened to Bill Clinton’s speech in its entirety on the car radio and thought it was remarkably gracious towards his victor and also very powerful. Then I watched the highlights on ABC and was shocked by how much less convincing I found him when I could see his face–he seemed to be gritting his teeth to get through his praises of Obama. Still, it’s all pretty riveting. I am capable of being absurdly moved by it all, despite my underlying discomfort at the COLOSSAL. IMMORAL. WASTE. OF. MONEY. that is all I can see when I look at political campaigns.

  4. Jeremy says:

    I liked Michelle Obama’s speech because I thought it would play well in middle America. But I found it rather sad and ironic that, during an election cycle in which we are celebrating the first woman to launch a credible (indeed, much more than credible) presidential campaign for a major party, that Obama–an incredibly accomplished, brilliant woman in her own right–has to define herself as a mother, wife, daughter, and sister, rather than a woman who went to Princeton and Harvard, who has a distinguished career. And the irony of her saying that Hillary put “18 million” cracks in the glass ceiling still implicitly acknowledges, like the content of the rest of her speech, that the ceiling is still there.

    And I know that she was supposed to prove that she indeed loves her country, but I think that’s sort of sad, too. John Stewart had a great line about the other night, which I will attempt to paraphrase… Of course the Democrats have to prove constantly that they love their country. And everyone already knows the Republicans love their country–even though they hate 50% of the people actually living here…

    I thought Bill’s speech was great–the clearest indictment of the Bush administration I’ve seen so far at this convention.

  5. Dave says:

    how many Obama supporters were feeling a pang of regret.

    In some ways, I’d rather have Hillary in the veep slot than Biden. I think she’d be almost as good as an attack dog, and she’s certainly shown that she’s an expert national politician. On the other hand, if I were Obama, there’s no way I would tolerate having Bill any nearer my campaign than absolutely necessary. I’m guessing Bill was the dealbreaker.

  6. S. Godfree says:

    …Bill was the dealbreaker.

    But hasn’t history shown (at least in many eyes) that one of Gore’s biggest mistakes was distancing himself from Clinton? Whether or not he’s hated by so many, he still represents the safety and prosperity of the ‘90s for a whole lot of people.

  7. S. Godfree says:

    I should ad that I don’t necessarily agree with the previous view of WJC.

  8. Dave says:

    I just wouldn’t want him married to my running mate. He’s a loose cannon, and Obama’s running a tight campaign.

  9. ruben says:

    yeah, the whole “let’s see how this plays in peoria” aspect of the media coverage drives me up the wall. that i’m supposed to worry about whether or not some supposed swing voter can “picture” michelle obama in the white house or not (other than as a servant I guess) or if he appears “angry” or not just shows how big a challenge the general election is going to be. i’m always amazed at how these things end up as close as they do-i blame the horse race aspect of the coverage and the stupidity of my friends with those unchanging values but as a liberal in our cozy echo chamber i just don’t see what possible choice there is at all…which is precisely the problem when i consider how many people on the opposite side feel exactly the same way. so i don’t bother to watch the coverage-i would vote for him no matter what he said and i can’t stand the commentary which causes me to worry that he won’t be elected. i won’t sleep well (or get that hair cut) until november. oh yeah, i will go on the record once again that hrc would have had an easier time beating mccain.

  10. Jeremy says:

    I’m with you, Ruben (except for the part about HRC). I, too, am constantly annoyed that I have to worry about how my candidate/s are going to come across to these supposed swing voters. And, while I’m enjoying all of this political theater, I also sometimes think, geez, why is all of this even necessary? At this point, why do the candidates even need to keep introducing themselves over and over and over again? Who are these people living under rocks who haven’t been paying attention? Who, at this point, is ignorant enough to still be undecided? When I think about the fact that all of this campaigning, all of this time and money (all of my and our campaign contributions) and thought and effort and media coverage and hand-wringing and posturing and bullshit, is essentially being used to convince a relatively small segment of the population that can’t make up its mind–that’s what I find really appalling. Swells put it best, though (so I will repeat her sentiment): COLOSSAL. IMMORAL. WASTE. OF. MONEY.

  11. Stevie Wonder singing “Signed Sealed Delivered” is a fine convention component.

  12. Marleyfan says:

    I disagree with the second paragraph of this post because of the big What If.

    What If (Obama)-
    – Will get us out of Iraq.
    – Get a hold on health-care.
    – Can have the wealthy pay a fair share of taxation.
    – Could be a role model for our young African-American boys.
    – Will act in a way to regain the respect of other nations.
    – Etc., Etc., Etc.

    I used to think that the President didn’t have much power, and was a figure-head. Bush has proved this to be wrong with his war and the Patriot Act.

    Maybe it does matter

  13. I hope the feelings aren’t widespread, but I have so much campaign fatigue that this convention didn’t do much to stir my blood. I’m tired of Obama the campaigner and just want to fast forward to Obama the president, where we can see if he will really get anything done. His speech was fine for people who might not know his best work.

    For others who listened to the big speech, Obama’s energy policy is going to be quite conservative, in case you didn’t notice: Clean coal, safer nuclear power, and tapping natural gas reserves? At least he is talking about a 150Billion investment, over the next decade, in real renewable energy sources. That kind of coin will make a real difference.

  14. Dave says:

    $150 billion over ten years is only $15 billion per year. By contrast, the FY 2007 budget included $32 billion in “homeland security” spending.

    Obama: Get disappointed by someone new.

  15. 14. Yes, compared to homeland security spending, it isn’t much. I keep crossing my fingers hoping that he will deliver a lot more than he can say in the general election. Affordable health care for all? How about universal coverage? Civil unions? How about full equal protection? Clean coal??? WTF? That is a boondoggle for Montana, which the dems are courting heavy this year.

  16. trixie says:

    how about al gore’s speech last night?
    too bad he wasn’t that forceful and passionate during his campaign.
    the nobel prize and the academy award certainly boosted his confidence.

    did anyone else think it was interesting that billary were not present for the acceptance speech last night. pretty transparent support they are vouching.

  17. Marleyfan says:

    Obama has ran a brilliant campaign. It has been very Clinonesque, in that he hasn’t really said much until last night, which most certainly was by design. Ironically, the thing I didn’t like about the Clinton’s campaigns was that they never had much substance to their speeches.

  18. Scotty says:

    We are in a situation in which we need an administration that understands and is willing to deal with the complexities and interconnectedness of the problems we face; one of things about the normal American political discourse that makes me batty is the way that politicians dissect whole problems and chop them up into little bits that never really aim to solve anything, only to appease voters, and to lull us into a sense that someone is doing something. An example of this is McCain’s push for more drilling as a way for us to deal with our “dependence on foreign oil.”

    I thought that Gore did a great job in trusting us to understand the interconnections of our problems. For example, international relations theorists and military professionals alike have been arguing for years that global climate change is a security issue, and not just an energy or environmental issue. In fact, it wasn’t reported on by the American press, but in 2002 the DOD issued a report warning of the inherent international instability, which will likely be caused by “climate refugees” from low-lying and island nations as they flood the shores of more stable countries (like the US). Of course the question is, would the average Hummer driver rather give up his/her car, or absorb all the peoples of Caribbean nations?

    The reality is that if the US dedicated nearly the amount of money to developing alternative fuels as we do on defense, we’d have the same result, a safe and secure nation. The big difference, however, is that one world would be much, much more desirable. And to those who want a perfect solution to our energy problems, “clean” coal, natural gas, and nuclear need to be a part of the solution, at least in the short term. I hope I’m not stirring the pot too much here, but I think we need to get over our fear of nuclear energy – that’s got to be the liberal compromise.

    After seeing Obama’s speech last night I was sold. Whether or not his exact policy solutions will all be the best, he seems to have the complexity of mind and the political courage to face the biggest problems head on. Or maybe I’m just a patsy – that’s always possible.

  19. Dave says:

    I missed the speeches last night. Just finished watching Obama’s via the magic of the internet. I’m the most soft-hearted cynic I know — totally misted up many times during the speech. It was really the perfect speech for the moment; I am in awe of Obama’s political skills, as I so often have been during the past year.

    I think that for mostly structural reasons our politics — including both parties — is not equal to the task ahead. But Obama is better than McCain by a long way, probably better than any Democrat we’ve had since Johnson if not Roosevelt, and is at least a step in the right direction.

  20. swells says:

    Misted up? I was bawling when Al Gore started talking about how things would have been different if he had been president for the last 8 years. It made me so sad.

  21. Dave says:

    Yeah, I haven’t watched that speech yet, but I feel you.

  22. Scotty says:

    Short term strategy at stealing the History vote? Stealing HRC supporters? Both, I think backfire, but we’ll see.

  23. Dave says:

    Picking a woman is mavericky. But anything McCain does is by definition mavericky.

    I don’t know anything about Palin except that she apparently has very little time in high office, undercutting McCain’s experience argument and possibly making voters nervous given his age.

    But having a woman on the ticket will probably help with suburban moderates, particularly women, and could give people a psychological out if they’re secretly racist — “I’m still voting for a historic ticket!”

  24. Dave says:

    Palin may have some tricky ethics problems. Bad vetting? McCain didn’t have a lot of good veep choices, and may have decided on her as a last-minute Hail Mary.

  25. Jeremy says:

    26: which is exactly what Chuck Schumer just called it, a “hail mary pick.” I am totally shocked.

  26. chad says:

    I am stunned at the pick but I think it is a way to appease the voters that wanted Hillary

  27. Scotty says:

    I think this was the worst choice possible, and it does nothing but clearly illustrate McCain’s short-sided political strategy.

    And how fucking weird is Cindy? She sits halfway through the speech, when everyone around her is standing? And the pink wrist band thing? And John playing with his fingers through the entirety of Palin’s speech? The whole thing was a fucking freak-show rodeo!

    Swells had the most astute analysis: “Tina Fey has just been guaranteed a contract extension at SNL.”

  28. Scotty says:

    And how about McCain’s twice promising to “stand on our side?”

  29. Scotty says:

    28: but don’t you think that most HRC supporters will be insulted by how obvious that strategy is? i.e., “Do the Republicans think that we’re stupid enough to vote for McCain just because he chose a woman (who’s initial defining characteristic is through her husband) as his running mate?”

    I think it backfires…that is unless Dems are too glib (as if) about how poor of a choice this was. Then people will feel sorry for Palin, just like they did for W in the first debate with Gore.

  30. Dave says:

    “Do the Republicans think that we’re stupid enough to vote for McCain just because he chose a woman (who’s initial defining characteristic is through her husband) as his running mate?”

    Exactly. She’s extremely anti-choice, among other anti-feminist characteristics. It’s not good enough just to pick someone with ovaries.

  31. Marleyfan says:

    Two years as Governor of Alaska (no disrespect to any readers from Alaska) does not make much of a V.P. candidate (especially where McCain is so old). Not too many Hillary supporters will vote for McCain because he asks a woman to be on the ticket. Palin will actually help Obama. I predict a big jump in the point-spread for Obama.

  32. ruben says:

    What’s your guys problem? I LOVE Michael Palin…oh wait.

    My being overconfident is the worst possible thing for us Dems but you’ve got to like how stupid this pick is. For as great as it looks on the surface and to talking heads at the end of August the blatant political calculation of the choice should turn even some hardened right wingers off. The right does have disturbingly admirable party unity but I think that the sexism of many GOP voters may be an issue as well as throwing such a rookie into the national spotlight. I agree about vetting-Alaska is a weird place and she’s bound to say and do something almost as scary as McCain in the remaining sixty something days. I DON’T like gloating about how Biden will tear her apart because that simply lowers expectations and makes her sympathetic if she manages to merely sit upright and smile. I would emphasize how screwed up it is that other more experienced Republican hacks, uh, women were passed over for what is the equivalent of a reality show candidate. Kay Bailey Hutchinson? Elizabelth Dole? Daughters of Satan to be sure but couldn’t some anger be stirred up about how Palin is supposedly the best qualified Republican woman?

  33. Dave says:

    the blatant political calculation of the choice should turn even some hardened right wingers off

    Yes. McCain is one of the biggest opportunists in politics today, and that’s a narrative that’s already established among his right-wing detractors. This pick plays into it perfectly.

  34. Scotty says:

    equivalent of a reality show candidate.

    You meant that as a dis, right Rubin?

  35. Scotty says:

    Sorry, I mean Ruben.

  36. Dave says:

    ZOMG she really does look like Tina Fey. Swells for the win!

  37. Rogan says:

    Sarah Palin? Wow! What a terrible calculation. The Hillary/Obama rift might be bad, but it isn’t THIS bad. I wonder how she will do in the debates. I would guess that Biden would eat her lunch.

    I will go ahead and toss this out there, since there are definitely a lot of Republican strategists thinking along the same lines — Palin is pretty freaking hot, no? How will her hotness play out?

  38. Tim says:

    Okay, people, I’m here to be the bucket of cold water on your party.

    I think picking Palin was a political masterstroke. All those PUMAs who still think Obama is the Muslim Manchurian Candidate will now vote for that “historic ticket”. All those m-o-r Republican women who were just going to stay home instead of voting for McC. or O. will now vote for McC. and the mother of 5. Also, they’ll let their husbands go out and vote Republican now, too.

    Not to mention that the Christians fucking love her. Loveherloveherloveher. She walks the anti-choice walk; she knew through chromosomal testing that her youngest was going to be born with Down syndrome and did not get an abortion. Christians get out and vote, too, unlike a lot of 23-year-old hipster kids who move a lot and can’t remember where they’re registered and isn’t my show on right now? or something.

    It’s the most amazingly brilliant cynical pick possible. All of her political weaknesses will prove strengths when it comes to getting elected. If you don’t think Americans love voting for underprepared incompetents who are intellectually unthreatening, you haven’t been paying attention. (Also, they get to feel progressive while doing it.) Attack her for her obvious lack of experience and you will look like a big, bad Washington insider meanie. Biden will crush her in the debate (just like Bentsen crushed Quayle, btw), and Americans will sympathize with her. Americans hate smart, educated people who make the ignorant look bad.

    And, she’ll help open up ANWR and we’ll all be paying less for gas, right? And wouldn’t it be cool if it happened? I mean, just like a movie, where a total unknown comes out of nowhere and wins? and then becomes president? and then, like, totally schools all of old Europe with her hockey-mom-in-a-minivan ways? Awesome! America, fuck yeah!

  39. Tim says:

    From Timothy Egan, on NYT on line:

    “Palin brings a bit of the “Legally Blonde” aspect to the race -– you underestimate her at your peril, as opponents found in Alaska, and in the movie.”

  40. Dave says:

    Tim, you’re such a Democrat.

  41. Tim says:

    I like to think of myself as a realist.

  42. scotty says:

    My right lobe?

  43. Tim says:

    Okay, I just watched the video of her speech and I think we’re really, really screwed. Her oldest son signed up for the Army last Sept. 11? And he’s going to be deployed this coming Sept. 11? And the chants of “USA!” that followed? And her mentioning over and over that she will be “honored to serve beside a man like John McCain”? How well does all of that play in the heartland? So well. Say goodbye to Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, my friends. Say goodbye to Iowa. Nighty night, Missouri, Minnesota, and Michigan.

  44. ruben says:

    Tim, I feel you as to that youth vote.

    But the folks who are really turned on by Palin would never have voted for Obama in the first place.

    I think this election will be fascinating in how much identity politics come into play after eight years of such completely incompetent government. I actually wonder if some capable women who are supposed to be enthralled by Palin will be turned off that she is unquestionably underqualified. It would be a great comeuppance if Bush finally got people fed up with electing people who they somehow have been convinced to be more “comfortable” with. Won’t some folks have issues about a 44-year-old woman potentially being their commander in chief?

    Yes, we are an anti-intellectual nation, no question about it (Idiocracy was just a movie, right?) but I think this is pushing the question of who we really want to make important decisions to the forefront and I think even some kool-aid drinkers may be given pause before turning over the keys to a 72-year-old and a hockey mom who is the recently elected governor of a state with fewer people in it than the city of San Diego.

    Tina Fey-steph is right on but I guess I’m going to be in the minority on Rogan’s assessment of Palin’s hotness. I don’t see it-never got the Tina Fey thing either to tell you the truth. Why do funny women who happen to not look like Joan Rivers have to be marketed as bombshells?

    Last thing, how does her youngest son play into all of this? I HATE wanting to hate someone and then read that they have a sick kid, etc.

  45. Tim says:

    Ruben, I don’t think Palin is going to help McC. get people who may have voted for O. She’s going to get people on board who were not going to vote — Christians, primarily, who would have refused to vote for McC. otherwise. Remember: most of the people you know may vote, but most of the people in America don’t.

    Americans love getting energized to vote for the complete outsider, e.g., Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and that other dude from Predator who is gonna kick Mitch McConnell’s butt in November.

    P.S. Tina Fey = the Hotness.

  46. Her oldest son signed up for the Army last Sept. 11?

    Note that the vice-presidential candidates of both major parties have each got a son in Iraq.

  47. Tim says:

    Yes, but is Biden’s son named “Track”?

    Also, Biden can parade that around a little bit, but it won’t sway anyone to vote for the ticket. Dems have to be solidly against the war, but supporting the troops, of course, . . . what I mean to say is, um, I think it was the wrong thing to do to go in there, but I don’t want our young men and women in harm’s way to get hurt, and I don’t think it would be better for the world if Saddam Hussein were still leading Iraq, but I *do* think that we should leave there soon-ish, even though “the surge” is “working” and I love America and want to keep “her” safe.

    Complicated (and, frankly, wishy-washy) messages do not play in the heartland. USA! USA! USA!

    P.S. To all of my concerned readers, I need to take a break from roaming the internets and getting worked up about this. Just to let you know, though, I’ve done the math on the electoral college, and McCain will win. This is my final statement on the matter. Now I need to step away from the computer and go get a drink. Dude! It’s Friday! Long weekend! Woo hoo!

  48. autumn says:

    Having just returned from outside my Los Angeles bubble from the PNW (Spokane + North Idaho) where I was reminded that ignorance is alive and kicking in many (most) parts of the greater US, the pictures of a beautiful, middle aged mama pulling king salmon out of the stream, holding a gun and waving an American flag are going to fire people up and get out the vote.
    with everyone/anyone.

    Random thought, but I think Cindy McC non-verbals look like she may have a hard time with a female ‘second lady’.

  49. Adriana says:

    Palin’s 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. The plot thickens…http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/02/us/politics/02PALINDAY.html?em