Saturday, April 26, 2008

 

Open Thread

Your chance to have your say.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

 

The Long Boom Continues

Andrew Sullivan has an excellent post up which is essentially a long letter from a reader explaining the appeal of Obama for he and his wife (both in their mid-20's). The letter is essentially an appropriate indictment of the baby boom generation -- its excesses, its lack of discipline, etc. Andrew's reader sees Obama as a way out of the culture trap the boomers have bequeated society and its younger generations.

As it happens, I had a chat with a younger colleague (in his 20s, conservative and a Republican) and an acquaintance of his who was about the same age, but a Democrat who was supporting him. I was telling Danny -- the Democrat -- what I had shared with my colleague John earlier, how I felt that Hillary Clinton was going to be the eventual Democratic nominee, despite what the delegate counts look like now. Danny, however, spoke about Obama in almost exactly the same terms as Andrew's letter-writer. He specifically mentioned that he was "tired" and "done" with the baby boomers and everything they represent.

I said, "You may well be, my friend. However, they are not yet done with you."

That is the underlying cultural foundation of this election. Despite Obama's charisma and McCain's charm and their common crossover appeal, Hillary Clinton will be the standard-bearer of the largest, most self-indulgent generation in the history of America. They have driven the culture since the '60s, took over the presidency in 1992 and full control of Congress in 1994. Once they get their teeth into an institution, they don't let go. The sense of entitlement that Bill and Hillary have shown throughout this campaign is in perfect sync with the character of their cohort.

This is a sentiment that crosses party lines: Rather than the ideology that separates them, look at Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Newt Gingrich, Hillary Clinton, etc. and consider their shared characteristics and approach to politics. To varying degrees, they talk about conciliation and cooperation (why? because this generation always wants to be loved and praised for everything they do). But their political style is confrontational. They are always right; their opponents are not just wrong, they are evil. Upheaval and division is what boomers are about. Battle and chaos is their "normal." It is the supreme irony that the generation that dodged the draft revels in conflict. It's there in their language -- '92's Clinton campaign "War Room", '94's Gingrich-led "Republican Revolution."

The 2000 election was the first contested between two boomers -- and look what that produced.

Thus, Hillary's language of fighting -- and her security ads -- appeal perfectly to her temporal tribe.

The younger generations want this long-standing cultural war to stop. Obama aside, that's why McCain, who is older than the boomers also appeals to them (and may get many of their votes against Hillary).

But the boomers will not go quietly. The arrogance the Clintons show to Obama carries a, "It's not your time yet." After they get through with him -- which they will because boomers reinvent the rules and the language to suit their own purpose -- they will do to John McCain what Bill did to Bob Dole: His time is past and he cannot lead this country.

And Hillary Clinton will win the presidency because she will convince enough of those of her own generation that they mustn't be pushed aside by those coming behind them -- and will not be repudiated by their elders.

One final point: RT readers, be happy. What you read here over the previous two days on Barack Obama's nomination prospects is about to become the conventional wisdom. See here, here, and here. Oh, and what do we have here -- a suggestion that Obama needs to be tougher? Where did that come from? No need to thank me now. There will be a tip jar coming soon enough.


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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

 

The Warrior Queen & Lazio's Ghost

Non-disclaimer disclaimer: To be clear, anything positive or negative I say about a Democratic candidate is straight-forward analysis and opinion. I'm not part of any Rush Limbaugh vote-for-X-because-he/she-is-the-"easier"-candidate-to-beat. For one thing, I don't have time for such games. For another, I actuall remember 1992 when then-Bush I campaign manager Mary M.atalin declared that Bill Clinton would be the easier general election candidate to beat. We know how that turned out.

Hillary Clinton won in Pennsylvania the same way she won in Ohio -- by not being afraid to be perceived as a conflict-happy, unapologetic hawkish b***h. And, yes, that's a compliment. She doesn't care if elite liberal opinion hates the fact that she is running a pseudo-Republican "tough Democrat" campaign. More significantly, if Barack Obama doesn't figure out how to present himself as an aggressive alpha male type, he will never be president.

Note Hillary's closing ads in both the Ohio/Texas and the Pennsylvania contests. They were "security" appeals that cast her as a warrior queen willing to do what is necessary to protect America. And in "heartland" states where general elections are won and lost, Hillary Clinton cleaned Obama's clock. This is hardly a coincidence.

Politics isn't the same as war, but in each, the effort to produce victory is called a "campaign." The aggressor and smarter tactician ultimately wins campaigns by assessing circumstances and adapting tactics as necessary. In 1992, Bill Clinton's political operation was run out of a "War Room." In both his presidential campaign years, he wasn't simply the more likeable candidate, he was also the attacker. So many pundits talk about how the more "likeable" candidate is the one who wins general elections. They ignore the fact that it is usually the more aggressive candidate and campaign -- who also wins. An aggressive campaign doesn't mean a given individual will be a "strong" hawkish president, but it does convey a certain assertive leadership style.

Hillary Clinton has a campaign right now and she is on the attack. She has a message and she has a strategy. She sees herself as a fighter and won't apologize for suggesting that she might go after Iran if it attacked Israel. Pure cerebral "thinkers" rarely win in presidential politics. Bill Clinton won because he was a synthesis of Arkansas and the Ivy League, Hope and Harvard. Al Gore and John Kerry lost because they were seen as geeky and out-of-touch liberals. Hillary Clinton is more like Richard Nixon -- and not in the obvious negative way. They are two people who will always lose the charisma contest, but they are old school Protestant hardworking types who don't back down from a fight.

Barack Obama has many great qualities. But not even his strongest supporters would use words like aggressvie, assertive or belligerent to describe him. His intellectual and smooth delivery may press the ideological and tempermental erogenous zones of many latte liberals. But they do nothing for blue-collar, white, middle- and working class voters. The cliche is that voters often go for the candidate that they'd rather have a beer with. I think that's true to an extent. For a certain subset -- those so-called "Reagan Democrats" (who are in their late-50s and early '60s now) -- it's not just about drinking the beer. Ocasionally, the question may arise, "Would this person I'm chatting with at the bar have my back if a fight breaks out?"

Obama has to show some sense of testosterone if he wants to win over some of these white blue-collar voters. One problem he faces though is that he doesn't want to appear to go negative as that would again besmirch his brand of "new politics." More significantly, he certainly knows what happened to Rick Lazio back in 2000 when it looked like
he was "invading" the space of a female candidate. And Lazio was a skinny Italian guy from the New York suburbs. How would it look if it's a tall black candidate "attacking" the female candidate this time? But if Obama doesn't figure out a way to show he has an assertive attack mode -- to demonstrate he's something more than a willowy figure without real heft, he will pay the price.

Though technically the leader among Democrats, Obama is currently in a reactive mode. To use a term from his favorite sport, he is trying to run out the clock. If this were a sport, this would be wise strategy because, when the whistle blew, the team with the most points would be the winner. But unlike sports, *this* political contest requires that a winner have a certain number of points which neither candidate can reach by winning the remaining "games" that are played on the field. The "refs" will finally decide how this season plays out.

Even before the primary season concludes, the Clintons will make the argument -- if they haven't already -- that Obama isn't tough enough to win in November. They will also point out that those same white, blue-collar voters who respond to the tough side of Hillary Clinton are far more likelky to
desert the party (not merely sit out the election) if Hillary is not the nominee. That's disturbing, if you're a Democrat. Obama has brought new voters in, but they are less likely to vote for McCain than many of these blue collar voters who have been switching parties for decades. In particular, many are quite comfortable voting for a Republican presidential candidate. That's the beginning of the political case Hillary Clinton will make to convince superdelegates to support her.

By June, more than a few of them may be willing to listen to it.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

 

Peters Vs. The Pentagon

A rare day when Ralph Peters commends the "other" paper in town:

EVEN The New York Times gets it right once in a while. On Sunday, the Times published a lead article about a genuine military-related scandal: propagandizing on TV by retired military officers who take defense-contractor blood money or toe the Pentagon party line.

The sole fault I can find with the piece is that the rogues' gallery of faces on the front page failed to distinguish between the good, the bad and the ugly - between genuine men of conscience, and scoundrels who'd sell their underage daughters for three cents on the dollar.

The article described - accurately - how many retired-military talking heads conceal business ties to the defense industry, or are willing to parrot Pentagon agitprop in return for the illusion of privileged access.

(For the record, I take no defense-industry payola - I'd rather empty cesspools with a straw - and I'm proud to have been unwelcome in the Rumsfeld-era Pentagon.)

Officers who trade on their former service and knowingly deceive the American people to increase their chances of winning defense contracts for the firms they represent disgrace the uniforms they wore. Period.
Well, Eisenhower called it the "military-industrial complex" for a reason.

This is why I have a great deal of respect for Peters. I don't always agree with him, but he's truly a writer of integrity who calls it as he sees it.

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A Lost Nomination

It's D-Day in PA.

I think Obama's failure to put Hillary away over the last six weeks is likely to cost him the nomination. It doesn't automatically give her the prize. But, by any estimation, he is a significantly more bruised candidate than he was before the long march to this primary. Hillary, not so much (i.e., we knew everything there was about her characterwise beforehand).

A narrow win allows Hillary to stay in the race (what other errors can she force Obama to make?). A large win forces Democratic superdelegates to think about whether the cerebral Obama has the intestinal fortitude to slog it out with John McCain.

Yeah, I'm crazy, but I still think Hillary will be the Democratic nominee.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

 

Johnnies 3, Midshipman2

Despite a lightning storm that technically cancelled the eventSt. John's College again took home the Annapolis Cup, extending the liberal arts college's quarter-century croquet domination of its across-the-street rival.

This was the first year in quite a while that I wasn't able to make it down to Annapolis for the match. However, I like to think the good wishes I sent their way during Mass at Yankee Stadium helped the virtuous Johnnies!


Congrats!

And nice combined patriotism at the conclusion of the event (read story to get my meaning)

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

 

God & Man at The Stadium



My colleague (and much better Catholic) John Wilson scored tickets to the big "game" today at Yankee Stadium.

The Bombers aren't in town, but a Cardinal is "pitching." (Though based on the early season, Yankee starters could use some divine inspiration.)

Concert at noon. Mass starts at 2:30. For now, we are trapped in a never-ending line.

Oh, was at NY ComicCon on Saturday. Pictures of both events will be posted later.

Will try live blog until service begins -- depending on Blogger/Treo technical issues.


UPDATE (8:00 PM): Well, obviously, the live blogging didn't work. But here are some nice artifacts of a rather memorable day:




Yep, this would appear to be the train to Yankee Stadium.



Ronan Tynan performs as part of the "Concert of Hope" before Mass.




Hey, not even a man of the cloth can depend on divine guidance for everything.




Yours truly awaiting the big event.



Jose Feliciano entertains the crowd with, among other tunes, Lee Greenwood's "God Bless The USA".




Jose on the big screen.

A dance of dove ends the concert and prepares everyone for the start of service.

Mass begins...

Benedict addresses his flock.

One of the lucky few to get communion from The Pope.

How do you serve communion to nearly 60,000 worshippers -- in about 20 minutes? You have about 200 priests spread out to nearly every stadium entranceway. Very efficiently done.


"Il Papa" takes a trip around the stadium and gives a farewell wave:




If I can get a technical problem fixed, look for some video a bit later on.

UPDATE II: Here are more pics from Sunday.

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