Friday, September 05, 2008


Brand X

My latest for The Root -- the various "brands" now apparently out of favor, based on the make-up of the two presidential tickets.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008


Mac To The Future?

John McCain tonight gave a fantastic, powerful moving address -- assuming you tuned into just the last seven minutes or so.

Sorry, but the rest of it was pretty flat -- and not only because he was following Sarah Palin who captured the convention Wednesday night.

There were certainly things that I liked in the speech -- most notably school choice and his vow to end the bipartisan corruption in DC. But there was nothing really new.

Strangely, for someone who has talked so much about his foreign policy experience, there seemed very little focus on it. Iran was mentioned exactly once -- even though we have been, supposedly, engaged in a proxy war with it for three or four years. Meanwhile, Russia was mentioned by name three times -- essentially for an incident that was more enhanced border dispute. McCain said we have nothing to fear from a "return to the Cold War." The rhetoric he was throwing around this summer (and before that, for that matter) would tend to belie that.

Otherwise, the speech had the feel of a list that had to be checked off.

Still, to give the man his due, considering the unpopularity of George W. Bush, McCain gets points for mentioning him at the outset.

The end, with its moving narrative of his time as a POW and this passionate closing --
I'm going to fight for my cause every day as your president. I'm going to fight
to make sure every American has every reason to thank God, as I thank him, that
I'm an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on Earth. And with hard
work -- with hard work, strong faith, and a little courage, great things are
always within our reach.
Fight with me. Fight with me.
Fight for what's right for our country. Fight for the ideals and character of a free
Fight for our children's future. Fight for justice and opportunity for all.
Stand up to defend our country from its enemies. Stand up for each
other, for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America.
Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight.
Nothing is inevitable here. We're Americans, and we never give
We never quit.
was incredibly emotionally engaging. It was some of Mark Salter's best work. McCain clearly was energized by them (even though the town-hall format caused the crowd noise to drown him out somewhat). That was true poetry.

Unfortunately, the prose and delivery of the rest of the speech was, just that, prosaic.

It will now be interesting to see the arc of the rest of the campaign. Sarah Palin has gotten the base energized and will undoubtedly help prevent a fair bit of erosion in red areas of the country.

The question is will John McCain be able convince the swaths of independents and conservative-leaning Democrats that he's the answer to their concerns. The "fight" mantra -- evocative of Hillary in the closing days -- may reach some of the Scots-Irish folk in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. However, it remains to be seen if there was enough "there" there to reach others.

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Sarah Style

Andrew Halco, an Alaskan radio host and sometime political opponent of Sarah Palin's, grades the governor's speech.  In doing so, he separates fact from fiction on Palin's policy record as governor -- especially on where she stood on the notorious "Bridge to Nowhere." 


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Quick Palin Thoughts...

posted by David S. Bernstein

I know RAG is gonna have a lot to say about the speech whenever he drags himself home from whatever Irish bar he's in watching the convention; so I don't want to step on his rhetorical toes by writing at length. But I wanted to share a personal observation, as a recovering right wing activist and complete and utter political cynic: I was bowled over by Palin's performance.

Midway through, I wanted to shout at the screen:
"We've got our f*cking party back!"

RAG UPDATE (1:00 pm):  I thank Mr. Bernstein for his insa-reaction. After working late at the office and working on another project earlier this morning, I wasn't able to post my speech reactions.  David's quickie post did the important thing -- provided a spot for Bill, MS/Rawhide, Rodak and the other miscreants in the Comments section  to weigh in (which, of course, is why this blog exists.  Heh. Heh.).  Briefly, my reaction to Sarah Palin is similar to how I felt when she was introduced: She's a great speaker very comfortable in her own skin and on whatever stage in which she appears.  She's a firebrand and "right" on most of the issues. I thought her speech was impressive and she will indeed fulfill the "pitbull" role that VP candidates traditionally do.  However, despite what David said, Sarah Palin actually represents a major step away from what "our party" has actually been.  I'll discuss this further in another extended post later -- and whether this is a step forward or backward.  

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008


She's Not Going Anywhere

Because of the flurry of various headlines about and around Sarah Palin, already there is some talk of whether her selection as McCain's running mate can survive. The political marketplace is already taking bets.

And The Atlantic's Josh Green has already consulted with several GOP insiders to find out what the process for yanking a nominee is.

Forget it. It's not going to happen. No way. No how.

How can we be so sure? For two reasons:

1) Republicans generally don't dump running mates (Spiro Agnew and Nelson Rockefeller were Watergate-era aberrations). Arguably, George H. W. Bush had greater cause to get rid of Dan Quayle in 1988 (and 1982): Quayle's debut press conference was an immediate embarrassment (unlike Palin's) and immediately caused panic among his handlers. His adequate performance against Lloyd Bentsen was completely overwhelmed by Bentsen's "You're no Jack Kennedy," one-liner. Worse, after becoming VP, Quayle managed to stumble into one malapropism after another, remaining a staple of late-night comedy for the entire Bush I term. Regardless, Poppy Bush stayed with him. This is partly due to how much Republicans internalize their suspicion and hostility toward the mainstream media. The GOP hates to appear that it is surrendering to an elitist liberal media that wants to choose -- and destroy -- its leaders.

2) But, much more significantly, technology has changed things. Twenty or thirty years ago, the immediate storm of negative media against Palin could have overwhelmed a campaign. The only way they could have guaged how "the base" was feeling was via phone calls -- and that would have been very unreliable. The pick, literally, might not have even survived mail coming in one way or another.

That world no longer exists. What the Internet hath taken away from the public discourse -- including discredited rumors and legitimate lines of inquiry for mainstream media outlets to pursue, the Internet hath also given back: Just as Obama was able to go toe-to-toe with and eventually beat back the Clinton machine because of his prodigious 'Net fundraising, Palin has become bulletproof because the conservative base reacted in a clear, unequivocal way -- with their wallets. McCain has reportedly raised some $10 million since Palin's announcement -- nearly 20 percent of McCain's entire August fundraising haul. Conservatives are literally invested in this woman, not merely ideologically, but financially as well.

Dumping her now would look like fiscal fraud as much as ideological betrayal. Further, it would be suicide -- immdediately killing the energy and enthusiasm that the choice has sparked.

McCain may or may not win with Sarah Palin. He would most definitely lose if he dropped her off the ticket now.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Rootin' Tootin'!

I debut on the Slate-affiliated site, The Root, discussing race and the Democratic Party.

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Monday, September 01, 2008


Movie Review: "Juneau"

Coming soon to a theater near you:

The touching tale of a young teenage daughter of a conservative northern governor. After news comes out that she is pregnant during a high profile campaign, family cheers young girl's decision to keep the baby, thus inspiring her mother's traditionalist supporters.


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