Saturday, August 30, 2008
His choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate is perhaps the most brash, irresponsible political move by a national candidate in over a generation. And that's not hyperbole. Objectively speaking, it appears to also be a decision that is electorally disastrous.
Now I am a strong Democrat and a strong supporter of Senator Obama since the day he announced, but lets look at the facts in an objective manner:
* Palin gives the GOP ticket little to no direct electoral or geographic help. She does probably put Alaska in the bank for McCain, but nothing else. Alaska is also so unique and small of a state cut off from the rest of the country that no other state is similar enough demographic wise to help the ticket out.
* I think she may well have a cultural problem. As Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic wrote : "The moose stew stuff and her childrens' names may be geographically and culturally appropriate, but pardon me if I surmise that some folks in the Pennsylvania T aren't going to be entranced." This goes back to my earlier point about how Alaska has such a disconnect to even the Rocky Mountain states and the Pacific Northwest.
* This looks like an affirmative action pick, when running against a black guy.
* This looks desperate a la Mondale in 1984. McCain going into Denver was down about five points, not fifteen. He did not need such a gamble. The American people like steadiness and confidence, not someone who's trying a lob a Hail Mary down the field.
* It looks overtly political. Now every decision, and especially the running mate, is an explicitly political decision; however it is never good to make those decisions look at least semi-non political. No one not on RNC payroll realizes that this is some sort of effort to win over women; specifically Clinton voters. Imagine how it'd look if someone put a state wide official from Ohio or Florida (Charlie Crist not being able to pass vetting aside...) on the ticket. That's what this is, but worse.
* So much for that whole experience thing. Obama-Biden now has over a decade of more elected office experience than McCain-Palin.
* Some Republican operative friends of mine, to be fair, have stated optimism about Palin helping with GOP-leaning women independents in the suburbs. While this is possible, the potential upside is marginal compared to the risk.
* On that note, once those women in the Philly burbs find out Palin is against teaching evolution and is opposed to abortion even in cases of rape, they very well could be repelled.
* Yes, the GOP base loves her. But McCain was already polling in the upper 80s with Republicans; and while its possible she helps with turnout, it only helps him with those already voting for him.
* The one bit of caution I do have is to be careful in dealing with her. Biden especially needs to be careful not to be Rick Lazio and appear as a bully in the VP debate. I'd also refrain from asking how she can be VP and raise a down-syndrome baby. Palin isn't a threat, right now, so be aware of that fact and don't set us up for a backlash.
Overall, while there are possibilities of upside for McCain here, those are slim and marginal. He was a slight underdog in this race, now Obama is the prohibitive favorite. I don't know who ultimately made this decision, but it was irrational and brash. I would admit, as I would had Willard Mitt Romney been the pick, if McCain's running mate was a smart move; but Palin is a horrible and reason-defying choice. My friends, we just got our Christmas present early.
"For a man who is 72 years old and has had four bouts with cancer to have chosen someone so completely unqualified to become president is shockingly irresponsible. Suddenly, McCain's age and health become central issues in the campaign, as does his judgment."Former Bush speech writer, David Frum:
"It's a wild gamble, undertaken by our oldest ever first-time candidate for president in hopes of changing the board of this election campaign. Maybe it will work. But maybe (and at least as likely) it will reinforce a theme that I'd be pounding home if I were the Obama campaign: that it's John McCain for all his white hair who represents the risky choice, while it is Barack Obama who offers cautious, steady, predictable governance."
"In my estimation as a pollster and analyst, while historic for the GOP in selecting their first woman on a national ticket, this choice may be the worst selection by a major party nominee for President in modern times."
"To me this is a smoke screen McCain can hide behind. They will use her as new gift wrap around the last eight years of an old package. Would a man be picked with such a short resume? Of course not!"
Friday, August 29, 2008
Not Every Woman Supports Abortion Rights
August 29, 2008
Statement of NOW PAC Chair Kim Gandy on the Selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain's Vice Presidential Pick
Sen. John McCain's choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate is a cynical effort to appeal to disappointed Hillary Clinton voters and get them to vote, ultimately, against their own self-interest.
Gov. Palin may be the second woman vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket, but she is not the right woman. Sadly, she is a woman who opposes women's rights, just like John McCain.
The fact that Palin is a mother of five who has a 4-month-old baby, a woman who is juggling work and family responsibilities, will speak to many women. But will Palin speak FOR women? Based on her record and her stated positions, the answer is clearly No.
In a gubernatorial debate, Palin stated emphatically that her opposition to abortion was so great, so total, that even if her teenage daughter was impregnated by a rapist, she would "choose life" -- meaning apparently that she would not permit her daughter to have an abortion.
Palin also had to withdraw her appointment of a top public safety commissioner who had been reprimanded for sexual harassment, although Palin had been warned about his background through letters by the sexual harassment complainant.
What McCain does not understand is that women supported Hillary Clinton not just because she was a woman, but because she was a champion on their issues. They will surely not find Sarah Palin to be an advocate for women.
Sen. Joe Biden is the VP candidate who appeals to women, with his authorship and championing of landmark domestic violence legislation, support for pay equity, and advocacy for women around the world.
Finally, as the chair of NOW's Political Action Committee, I am frequently asked whether NOW supports women candidates just because they are women. This gives me an opportunity to once again answer that question with an emphatic 'No.' We recognize the importance of having women's rights supporters at every level but, like Sarah Palin, not every woman supports women's rights.
If you still hold doubts about Barack Obama's toughness, you clearly missed his acceptance speech. After McCain attacked Obama's patriotism, the gloves had to come off.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Democratic Congressman Ben Chandler of Kentucky’s 6th District officially endorsed Bruce Lunsford in his race for U.S. Senate against Mitch McConnell. Chandler made the announcement this morning during a Kentucky Delegation breakfast at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
“I am delighted that Ben has publicly expressed the support that he’s been expressing to me privately throughout the year,” said Lunsford, who attended the breakfast. “I’m thrilled to have Ben’s endorsement, and very grateful for it. Ben and I are united in the fight to put an end to the Bush-McConnell policies that have damaged Kentucky and the nation this decade. For many years, Ben Chandler has been an important leader in Kentucky, and I know Mitch McConnell and George W. Bush realize that when Democrats are united behind a cause, it spells trouble for them.”
"It makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities. Because these days they're awfully hard to tell apart."
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
|AR - Pryor||AK- Begich +1||MN - Franken/Coleman||ID - Jim Risch||AL - Sessions|
|DE - Biden||CO- Udall +1||NC - Hagan/Dole||KY - McConnell||KS - Roberts|
|IA - Harkin||LA- Landrieu||ME - Collins||MS* - Cochran|
|IL - Durbin||TN - Alexander||NE - Johanns|
|MA - Kerry||OR - Smith||SC - Graham|
|MI - Levin||GA - Chambliss||TX - Cornyn|
|MT - Baucus||OK - Inhoffe||WY* - Enzi|
|NH - Shaheen +1||MS* - Wicker||WY* - Barrasso|
|NJ - Lautenburg|
|NM - Udall +1|
|RI - Reed|
|SD - Johnson|
|VA - Warner +1|
|WV - Rockefeller|
Monday, August 25, 2008
"[political coverage in the mainstream media is ] utterly vapid, devoid of context, frequently wrong, and wedded to narratives that defy all logic and reality."
Amen. I'm keeping my blood pressure medication handy.
With the Democratic National Convention set to kick off in Denver, polls are being released galore to provide a baseline before the most condensed and eventful two weeks in recent political history commences. One poll that caught my attention today was the Washington Post/ABC News poll that was conducted late last week, it provides many details on a host of questions and shows that much of the media narrative is non-sense.
Let’s first get down to the pure brass tacks of the poll, which I consider one of the more reputable ones out there, mainly because they’re more transparent about their methodology and release detailed information broken down by demographic.
Obama leads McCain 48-42% in a four way contest (With Nader and Barr) among likely voters, which is basically where the race has been, sans some minor ebbs in both directions, for months. Despite the much talked about negative (and allegedly, effective) attacks by John Sidney McCain III, Obama still sports a 62-34% favorable rating (McCain’s is a robust 59-37% as well). In comparison, at this point in 2004, John Kerry’s favorable rating was only in the +10% range and never did exceed a 55% favorable rating…while Obama, after a much more bruising primary, is flirting with 2:1 territory and one that is extraordinary stable.
Let’s talk about some other myths that this poll puts to rest:
Obama isn’t connecting on the economy
He leads McCain on the economy by a 50-39% margin.
McCain is killing Obama on the drilling issue!
Obama leads 49-42% on Energy issues.
Additionally, Obama is keeping McCain’s advantage among terrorism to a mere 52-38% margin, is tied with him with Iraq and taxes; and sports a double digit lead in social issues.
Here’s another myth:
Obama is underperforming the usual Democratic strength among whites, women, and Hispanics.
While John Kerry lost whites by a 41-58% margin (From 1992-2004, the Democratic nominee ranged from 39-42% of the white vote), Obama only trails McCain 49-43% among whites; and that’s with a decent amount of undecideds and at least a fraction of those will break for Obama. Obama leads among women 55-37% over performing John Kerry, Al Gore, and Bill Clinton’s margin among females, sometimes by significant margins.
Of course, married women are a real weakness for Obama, right? All those angry Hillary supporters will harm his candidacy fatally, no? He leads 48-44, a group that voted for Bush by 11 points four years ago.
Well then, naturally whites making less than 50K are a weakness for Obama? Well he leads by a 49-40% margin, where Kerry lost this group by 7 points.
As for Hispanics, he overperforms Kerry by a significant margin as well, leading 61-27% among the group that Kerry only got 57% with. A particular strong showing against a Southwestern Senator from a border state, who is a moderate on immigration.
Obama has even made significant strides among traditionally Republican voters. While George Bush won White Evangelicals by a 78-21% margin, Obama has cut the GOP advantage to a 65-27% margin; a near twenty point swing. He is also polling double what John Kerry did among self-described Republicans. While he still faces insurmountable deficits among those groups, in a close election those are significant number of votes gained.
While I know the storyline of working class white Americans and other groups that Obama underperformed with in the primary not supporting a black candidate is intriguing, it just isn’t based in the data.
While, it is still a tight race, it is a static one and one that still favors Senator Obama. This race has potential to be fluid soon though, with two conventions in the next ten days. But for now, the media coverage is fundamentally not honest. No wonder, since the media is in the tank for John Sidney McCain III. And why wouldn’t they be? He cooks BBQ for them at his retirement estate in Sedona, AZ.
But let’s be honest about the state of the race.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
In naming my colleague and friend, Joe Biden, to be the vice presidential nominee, Barack Obama has continued in the best traditions for the vice presidency by selecting an exceptionally strong, experienced leader and devoted public servant. Senator Biden will be a purposeful and dynamic vice president who will help Senator Obama both win the presidency and govern this great country.
This is a choice that works on many levels. Biden brings some serious foreign policy chops to the ticket, he's a happy warrior, who will be an excellent attack dog with a grin, and is an excellent campaigner on a hand-to-hand level; and from a political standpoint will help Obama clear the commander-in-chief threshold, and make inroads among some key demographics (and may well put Pennsylvania in the bank).
Biden is also a smart choice from a governing standpoint. Biden is a pragmatic and effective legislator; and there are few others that I would want to see help run our country in an effective, smart, and responsible manner.
But what is the best thing about having Biden on the ticket? We have wonderful responses to GOP attacks like this to look forward to:
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
...is married to his second wife, who happens to be an heiress to a $100 million beer fortune.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
by John Brake
To some political observers, the return of “whispering campaigns” is reminiscent of the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano. But if the latest anti-Barack Obama murmur to hit my in-box is any indication, it makes more sense to compare the sneaky mudslinging tactic to a backed-up sewer.
For the uninitiated, whispering campaigns are how supporters of a given candidate -- say, John McSame -- spread lies and innuendo about his or her opponent.
They are comprised of disingenuous and dishonest talking points that candidates want voters to hear, but are too afraid to say themselves. These are sometimes silly (think "Al Gore claims he invented the internet"), but most often they are vicious and baseless smears ("Barack Obama is a radical Muslim who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance").
A variety of media collude to deliver the whispers to your eyes and ears. Radio and TV waves are saturated by callers who spread these lies on political talk shows. The editorial pages of our newspapers are filled with this garbage, often in the form of head-scratching conclusions to fallacious and illogical arguments.
Even our poor email in-boxes have become a battleground for this type of under-the-radar campaigning, and I got one today that took me from a whisper to a scream.
It arrived with the subject line, "Fw: Random Thoughts by Thomas Sowell."
I groaned in anticipation of what was to come.
We know Sowell to be a right-wing author and social commentator. Not the worst of that ilk, but not everyone can be Ann Coulter.
The email -- sent by an old classmate I invited to a high school reunion years ago who, inexplicably, added me to her permanent friends list -- was copied to dozens of addresses. Unsuspecting victims, I thought, as I scrolled down for the content.
The disclaimer read: "The article below was written by syndicated columnist, Thomas Sowell. He wrote it in a humorous way this past week in a column titled 'Random Thoughts' and published it in newspapers nationally, so maybe you've already seen it. If not, be my guest."
Fair enough, I thought.
Boy, was I was wrong.
Not only was the attack NOT written in a humorous way, it wasn't even written by Sowell -- a fact I quickly uncovered thanks to our friends at www.truthorfiction.com.
I will decline the opportunity to reprint the (disgusting) email here. But if you want to check it out, click here.
The gist is that only Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton could convince Sowell to vote for McCain, and then he lists a variety of examples of how the two have done just that.
The "reasons" he gives are -- surprise, surprise -- the same shopworn GOP talking points that Obama has tackled head on via his web site, www.fightthesmears.com, since day one.
I am sure that this will not be the last word on the GOP's sneaky whispering campaign against Barack Obama. But I’m glad it gave me the opportunity to share with you, in case you didn't know already, how to determine if the charges contained within are valid.
There are some good web sites that deal with political urban legends. My favorites are www.snopes.com and www.truthorfiction.com.
Book mark them now. You will need to visit them repeatedly between now and November. Count on it.
About the author: John Brake is the former chairman of the Williamson County Democratic Party and a political columnist for the Williamson Herald. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brown "At what point is a baby entitled to human rights? McCain said 'at conception,' and Obama was extremely vague in his answer."Perkins "[Obama said] that's above my pay grade. And that should make people question whether or not he's ready for prime time to be President."
In 2004, the highest number of reported legal induced abortions occurred in Florida (91,710), NYC (91,673), and Texas (74,801)Please note that two of the three states listed are solid red and in firm Republican control. Abortions, even there, are still legal.
Monday, August 18, 2008
This is not particularly news, other than the fact that names like Kathleen Sebelius and Sam Nunn seems to have taken a backseat to the aforementioned trio. So before all of our cell phones buzz Wednesday morning (or whenever the announcement is sent via text message to all us political junkies), I wanted to briefly talk about these three choices and their potential upsides and drawbacks (especially those not talked about by the media).
The Good: Photogenic, Experienced in multiple offices, well liked by the conservative wing of the party; yet palatable to most of the party, puts Indiana even more in play (the Hoosier State has been a fixation of the Obama campaign), strong and early supporter of Hillary Clinton. Geography: Could put the upper Midwest in the bag for Obama
The Not-so-good: Likely forfeits a Senate seat, has a reputation for being bland, and picking him would look extremely safe and political in nature.
A few questions: Is picking a son of a legendary U.S. Senator the best way to present your message of change? Is he a better candidate on paper than in practice? Is geographical balance still important? If so, how will an all Midwest ticket play?
Bottom-line: Bayh is the "safest" pick for Obama, yet still very attractive. The imagery of a young running mate would make a great photo-op. I still ultimately don't think Obama risks a Senate seat (nor do I think Bayh is Obama's top choice for the job) and the charges of being too safe in his selection.
The Good: Well-liked, a great debater and attack dog, strong foreign policy credentials, has a moderate profile, and is somewhat well-known and nationally vetted. Could help with Catholics and could put his birth state of Pennsylvania in the bank.
Not-so-good: His Mouth, Delaware is already safely in the Democratic column, questions about health, his position on Iraq.
A few questions: Can Obama claim to be an agent of change while putting a thirty-six year Senator on the ticket? He's 65 years old and had two brain aneurysms over twenty years ago. Could the Biden-Iraq partition plan be a liability? Does he make Obama seem small by comparison a la Lloyd Bentsen? Would picking him be a subtle signal that Obama is not over-sensitive to racial remarks?
Bottom Line: Biden, while he could contradict Obama's message of change, makes perfect sense as a running mate. During the primaries he was a happy warrior against Rudy Giulani and other Republicans. Yes, his mouth is problematic, but could make things lively and would bring even more energy to the ticket. Could be the compromise candidate for Obama between head (Bayh) and heart (Kaine).
The Good: Fits perfectly with Obama's message, Governor of key swing state (Virginia), Helps with Catholics and religious voters, energetic, and has perfect chemistry with Obama. Would provide a great photo-op.
The Not-so-good: Vulnerable to accusations of inexperience, forfeits Governorship to a Republican for 12 months, not a favorite among women's groups and labor, while popular he is no Mark Warner.
Questions: Is Denver going to be too Virginia centric with Mark Warner keynoting? Kaine's electoral win in Virginia was based more in Richmond/No. Va. rather than Warner's rural strategy and does he help that much in VA in light of that? Was he too accessible the last month? I can't imagine all those leaks and interviews made Team Chicago too happy...
The Bottom Line: He is clearly, politics aside, Obama's preferred governing partner (they share a similar history, Kaine was an early backer of his, and their message is largely the same). But in light of the events in Eastern Europe and some slight poll tightening will Obama pick a more tested running mate like Biden or Bayh?
Biden and Kaine seem more likely right now than Bayh (though myself and Stephen Moody are looking for good recipe books just in case...) or a dark horse. I don't know who he picks, but I definitely feel it is either Biden or Kaine. But I'll be impatiently waiting by my phone in the meantime...
But remember as William Goldman said, "No one knows anything," and I think we all remember this (though in retrospect it might not have been the worst idea in the world):
Friday, August 15, 2008
|2000||Bush 58.6%||Gore 27.7%||Bush + 30.9%|
|2004||Bush 61.1%||Kerry 32.5%|| Bush + 28.6%|