Saturday, August 23, 2008

 

McCain's Boomer Opening

As an American, I'm pleased that Obama is going to the well with Joe Biden. Yes, the senator from Delaware can be irritating and sanctimonious (like, say, John McCain) but he is also a serious thinker on foreign policy, and would be an important balance to some of Obama's sillier impulses in that area should the ticket actually win.

I do think think that the selection offers a very interesting opening for McCain, though. From a generational politics perspective, it's pretty extraordinary that the largest generation living -- those pesky Baby Boomers -- are completely essentially unrepresented on the national tickets so far. McCain ad Biden are both from the elderly Silent generation, while Obama, though technically a Boomer, missed out on many of the seminal experiences of the largest portion of the cohort. And perhaps most importantly, he is not a culture warrior itching to re-fight the campus battles of the 60s like Hillary or President Bush.

All of this leaves a significant percentage of the Boomer vote (particularly independents and former Hillary voters) up for grabs, and opens a opportunity for McCain with a savvy VP pick.

But please, G-d, don't let it be Mitt Romney.

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Biden This Time

The Delaware senator is Obama's veep say CNN and Fox.

Give Vladimir Putin an assist on this one. The Russia-Georgia conflict once again put foreign policy front and center. McCain took advantage of it. Biden's helps Obama on the international experience part of the portfolio.

One potential downside: Once again, it's two senators running on the Democratic ticket. There's no one with executive experience. That gives McCain an opening to go with either Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty.

UPDATE: There are all sorts of cases for and against Joe Biden as VP. Andrew Sullivan has several. Here's what endeared me to Joe Biden in a very narrow sense: He delivered the line of the primary season when he assessed Rudy Giuliani thusly:
"Rudy Giuliani... I mean, think about it! Rudy Giuliani. There's only three things he mentions in a sentence -- a noun, a verb, and 9/11. There's nothing else!"
Ideology and partisanship aside, this appealed to me as a part-time stand-up comic. Expertly and succinctly delivered. Well-played, Sen. Biden, well-played. The fact that the target of his sarcasm happened to be my least favorite candidate in the GOP field was just icing on the cake. (The link above also contains footage of reporters asking Biden about the statement later. His body language is as equally hilariously dismissive of Rudy.)

That should also be a lesson for the McCain campaign: Be more judicious on the P.O.W. references.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

 

Open Thread

So, heading into the weekend, Barack Obama's running mate is still unknown. So, that gives the media even more time for idle speculation. Oh, yay!

Anyway, there will be updates here over the weekend as the VP is rolled out. In the meantime, chat amongst yourselves.

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Houses In Motion

Talk about a game-changer. No sooner does it look like Obama might be limping into his convention, on the defensive over "celebrity" and falling poll numbers, than John McCain gives him a gift from the gods.

What was most impressive is how quickly the Obama camp turned McCain's, "I don't know how many houses I have into an attack ad:



The McCain camp responded quickly as well -- with an ad pointing out Obama's mortgage signed with the help of now-convicted embezzler Rezko:



Sorry, but Obama wins this exchange: First, his speaks directly to an issue high in voters mind -- the economy. Secondly, it uses McCain's own words against him. Third, there is the snarky, "McCain became confused; he couldn't remember." line which makes him seem "out of touch" in a way more damaging than just economically.

McCain's ad, on the other hand, looks too "generic" -- much like any other political ad: It's a character slam against Obama that requires too much information for the viewer to immediately assess. Furthermore, it doesn't have the light touch that the "celebrity" ads have accomplished.

Worse for McCain, the gaffe has also sparked multiple press stories examining his and Cindy's wealth -- including a Politico story "correcting" the Democrats, by saying that the McCains actually have eight, not seven homes. And as Ben Smith notes, McCain risks danger by again going to the POW well as an attempted rhetorical shield to ward off any criticism.

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R.I.P. Gene Upshaw

The death of Gene Upshaw, a former offensive guard for the Oakland Raiders and current head of the NFL Players Association, comes as a sad shock to me.

For all my fond memories of Upshaw's work on the Raiders offensive line, his greatest legacy will be his work as head of the NFL Players Association, the players union. The collective bargaining agreement(CBA) which Upshaw negotiated with Paul Tagliabue (former NFL Commissioner) stands as arguably the finest union-negotiated agreement of any industry ever, for the simple reason best said by Tagliabue in his statement about Upshaw's death: "[Upshaw] never lost sight of the interests of the game and the big picture."

Unlike other unions, the NFLPA under Upshaw knew that if they killed the league, they get nothing. So the union negotiated for a percentage of income, as opposed to the specific salary demands many unions get. In effect, as the NFL prospered, the players prospered. This can be seen in the NFL's salary cap, which has increased every year of the current CBA, as the NFL's income has increased every year.

If all union leaders were as smart as Upshaw, I would happily support unions in more industries. Unfortunately, I doubt the success of the NFLPA will be remembered by other unions. I just hope the NFLPA remembers it's own success under Upshaw.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

 

Definitions

While it's true that polls don't matter a whole lot in the late days of summer, perhaps Barack Obama should be concerned about what's happened to him in the dog days of August. By all measures, he is in a statistically weaker position nationally than he was at the beginning of the month.

It's not the raw numbers that Obama should consider most disturbing. Instead, the fact that John Zogby finds voters believe McCain is better able to handle the economy -- hardly his strongest issue! -- must drive Democrats nuts. But, this is more a reflection of what the McCain campaign has (temporarily?) successfully accomplished: The Republicans have managed to alter the definition of Barack Obama in the public's mind. Instead of a guy offering positive vision of hope and change, Obama has been changed into -- a "celebrity" offering nostrums of "hope" and "change", but with no actual leadership ability to accomplish that. Oh, and he's a tax-and-spend liberal who won't keep the country safe either.

The rule in politics usually is -- the candidate who defines himself and his opponent the best tends to go on to victory. Obama is going into what should be his best week of the year, so he has time -- and money -- to change the definitions. But, given voters perceptions of George W. Bush and the broader Republican brand, being essentially tied with McCain at this point has to be considered a major setback for Obama and the Democrats.


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Reasons Corporatism Can Be Annoying

1) The Watchmen movie may actually not appear next spring -- because of a court fight over rights. Yeah, I shouldn't care about a fight between Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox, but damnit! -- fanboys have been waiting for "Watchmen" for a damn long time! Lots of legal documents on the case can be found here.

2) The RIAA finds yet another reason to get people to despise it. Fortunately, record companies long ago convinced the public that it deserves absolutely no sympathy.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

 

Veep Stakes

Yes, it's true: RT has been comparatively quiet over the last week or so. The summer doldrums have hit ye olde blogger and I'm taking it relatively easy. Not going anywhere, but not burning myself out posting for the sake of posting either.

[And, yes, congratulations, Michael "Flipper" Phelps -- and thank you for giving us something other than politics or Brett Favre to talk about.]

Anyway, it's not like the next couple of weeks won't have more than enough material for politics.

Thus, this is sort of like an open thread -- but with a specific focus:

Who will be Barack Obama's vice presidential choice?

I say Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (with Joe Biden as a potential dark horse/surprise).

RT-ers, say what?

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