Monday, September 29, 2008

McCain needs to save himself

If I was in the McCain camp, I'd have an informal message to the House GOP: thanks for just freeing up my calendar for the next 35 days, since now my candidate has got no need to campaign any further.

Seriously--maybe this is why he normally saves his best jabs for conservatives.

NOW DON'T GET ME WRONG: I don't think the markets are going to fall off the face of the planet. And I also think that Speaker Pelosi was absolutely positively in the wrong to take the tone that she did at that critical juncture.

But there was more at stake than "a spirit of bipartisanship" today. An entire Presidential campaign was on the line.

Not anymore.

Taking vengeance against Pelosi's comments did NOT have to be done today, nor did it have to be done in this manner.

But what's done is done. The House GOP made their bed, and now they'll have to sleep with it. And in November, they can look forward to having fewer beds in the Capitol.

If I was McCain, I'd get out of that hotel as soon as possible.

All is not lost yet. . .but there's only one window available now. Now that the GOP will be (wrongly but loudly) claimed to be the source of the problem and (rightly and loudly) claimed as the reason this problem continues, McCain must do that which he has not done yet:

He must take his spirit of bipartisanship and put it in the closet for the next 35 days.

He must point out how the DEMS, starting in 1999 and continuing all the way through to today when Madame Speaker just had to "go there", have been the driving force behind this crunch. He must point out all the great research that has been done on Frank, and Dodd, and Reid, etc. He must paint the Dems as the party of special interests, the party of ACORN (which has no small role in today's economic troubles), and the party of "look the other way" oversight.

You know who else could make this argument? President George W. Bush.

They are the only two Republicans that could command enough of an audience to make such an argument even the least bit of an attention-grabber.

CAN they do it? Well, I don't know. It's not like the press will help them at all, and to say that making such an argument is second-nature to either of these men is. . .a bit of a stretch.

But honestly, this is McCain's last chance. He looks like a failure in "getting things done" (thanks again, House GOP) in a spirit of bipartisanship in DC.

His only hope now is to show how the DEMS are not only the reason for the hyperpartisanship that exists in DC now, but also he must show that they are culpable for the fears that we're experiencing throughout the economic sector.

It won't be enough to say "look what I did to try to stop this." He MUST start putting blame out there, and showing the fool's errand that bipartisanship is when working with this particular group of Dems.

Godspeed, Sen. McCain. I wish you luck!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

If I was running things

All right, a little more about the upcoming VP debate.

I know that there is a lot of concern about whether or not Palin can handle herself on the stage on Thursday. And although I didn't see the Couric interview, I have heard from some reliable sources that her performance there was. . .something short of inspiring.

And that may be the case. And maybe Palin has had difficulty learning all the ins and outs of our foreign policy, economic problems and all the other stuff in the last couple weeks.

But I have to hope that McCain's team will look no further than McCain's performance on Friday to prep Palin.

Listen, this election isn't about the #2. . .or at least it isn't on the GOP side. Our strategy needs to be showing that Obama isn't ready for the White House, plain and simple. McCain tried to hammer that home on Friday night--maybe even too much.

To that end, this week should be spent filling Palin's head with Obama's political history, with a few of Biden's greatest hits sprinkled in. Especially in places where the two men have disagreed legislatively.

She doesn't have to know the name of the President of Georgia. . .although it will do her good to know that the Georgia that was in the news a bit ago is not the state that borders Florida.

And she doesn't have to go on lengthy tirades about supply-side economics, or about BCRA or any other stuff. Although it would be handy of her to be versed on this financial bailout stuff.

No, instead all she'll really have to do is show some good political instincts. If she can employ a little knowledge about Obama in the right places. . .and with the proper degree of touch. . .well, that knowledge can go a long way.

A long way further down the road that McCain started paving Friday night.

And if she can get Biden to swallow his tongue by challenging either his or Obama's judgement on an issue that the two men have disagreed on. . .

. . .it could even be fun!

strategy vs tactics

The title of this article will be applied in two different areas today.

First, more about the debate. Debates are tactical engagements, by and large, but in certain instances they CAN BE strategic in value. Think of Kerry's "global test", and how that sound bite became synonymous with his election meaning a loss of American sovereignty in foreign affairs. So the question is: was there such a moment on Friday night? Well. . .maybe. We don't know yet exactly how either campaign will package soundbites from the debate (well, we know what McCain has already done, with the "John is right" ad--which is somewhat underwhelming to me), but I think there may be some opportunities here. Whether letting ride with Obama's tacit agreement that he is the most liberal member of the Senate, or showing him to be an insincere poseur because he had to look at his bracelet to actually remember the name of the soldier in who's honor he supposedly wears it--there is some potential here. But to me, the biggest ad won't be about the debate, but rather about what happened before and after the debate. The Federal government appears poised to pass this HUGE bailout that will have an impact on both Main street AND Wall street--and a huge impact on the next president's plans, as Jim Lehrer pointed out. McCain, of course, was IN DC, doing his job and, although details of this are somewhat sketchy, apparently saving the day on this plan (at least that was the case on Friday). Obama mailed it in, leaving DC after he took the stage to make an opening statement that essentially served no purpose other than to let him take credit for being there--and THEN had the nerve to try to hit up his supporters for more campaign cash IN THE MIDST OF A CREDIT MELTDOWN that found him NOT in DC doing his job. SO how's this for an ad: McCain is a man who works for solutions; Obama is a man who works to take more of your money. THAT could be a big strategic move, and one that just wasn't ready to spring on Friday. Today though. . .after Obama spent all day yesterday in North Carolina complaining that McCain never mentioned "the middle class" on Friday. . .well, I've got news for you Senator Obama: McCain just ACTED in the interests of ALL classes of Americans, while you let your proxies take care of it for you. Leadership vs. optics--the choice couldn't be more clear.

Topic # 2: McCain said on Friday that Obama doesn't get the difference between strategy and tactics. Which is pretty obvious, if you watched that part of the debate--but I'll let Obama pass on this, because he essentially admits that such thinking is not his turf, but rather defers to Sen. Biden.

So what does Sen. Biden say in an interview with Chris Wallace after the debate on Friday night? Oh, if only I could find the transcript.

He was awful.

He seemed to say--at least this is what I heard--that our MILITARY strategy in Iraq needed to be about political reconciliation of the different factions of Iraqis within a central government.

No, I'm not making this up.

I know that foreign policy is a difficult, multi-stage thing. But this guy's supposed to know about this stuff--isn't he?

So let me make it simple for him.

Our government has many instruments to utilize to get desired results in certain policy regimes. When dealing with a foreign policy question, our government can utilize a wide range of these instruments, but two of the most notable are diplomacy and military action.

They are individual components WITH THEIR OWN STRATEGIES that can sometimes be overlapped in order to bring about a foreign policy goal--but they are not the same.

So here's Iraq in a nutshell: the foreign policy GOAL was to rid the world of Saddam while establishing a viable democracy in the heart of the Middle East.

The diplomatic STRATEGY to make that happen was : a) temporarily fill the void created by Saddam's exit while b) trying to help form a new government (Iraqis governing Iraqis) based in democratic principles.

The military STRATEGY was multi-faceted, too: a) overthrow Saddam; b) train Iraqis to defend themselves; c) minimize the "presence" of coalition troops, as otherwise we might offend the Iraqis.

Simple, right? Well, something happened on the way to Tipperary, as they say: the insurgents were making life awful difficult for us to accomplish the second of the two diplomatic strategies. We were accomplishing (or had accomplished) the military strategies, as we were training Iraqi troops, we were retreating to the green "zones" every night so that Iraqis weren't forced to deal with an overwhelming presence, and we had obviously overthrown Saddam--but something was still amiss. And that something led to such violence that some news outlets--and even US Congresspeople--said Iraq was in the midst of a civil war.

So in order to make more progress in our diplomatic strategies, we HAD TO CHANGE OUR MILITARY STRATEGY. Enter John McCain's surge. Gone were the days of "minimizing our presence", which led to certain locations where AQI and other insurgent bands held forceful sway over the population. Dawned were the days of "clear and hold", where these insurgent stronghold cities were attacked one by one, always resulting in coalition victories that were NOT followed by the troops immediately leaving, which helped secure peace (and piece of mind) for the law-abiding locals.

And suddenly, BECAUSE OF THE CHANGE IN THE MILITARY STRATEGY, we were able to start making progress on the diplomatic strategies that feed into the overall policy goal.

Now as they say, we are a long way from being done in Iraq. But that's because the POLICY--not the strategy, as Biden would have you believe, but the POLICY--is so all-encompassing and REQUIRES IRAQI PARTICIPATION--which is NOT something the U.S. can force to happen.

And that's why political reconciliation is NOT part of our strategy. While it is essential to the establishment of a viable democracy, it is NOT something that we can effect alone. Iraqis had to step up to the table. . .and increasingly it is looking like they are.

But that's because McCain urged a change in military STRATEGY--a change that was so successful that it allowed great progress to be made on the diplomatic front as well.

Once again, Biden proves to be an enormous windbag who has no idea what he's saying.

I know people are starting to worry about Palin in the upcoming VP debate. I am not one of those. She doesn't have as much to prove as does Biden, who is, after all, billed as the real experience on the Democratic ticket. If he does what I think he'll do, then Palin could get away with everything short of cursing or picking her nose.

Next Friday we'll be talking about what an idiot Joe Biden is, and how that reflects so poorly on Obama's executive skills and judgement. And THAT opens up ads about Ayers, Rezko and Wright.

Yes, there's still a LOT of campaigning left before the end of this road!

Friday, September 26, 2008

overview of tonight's debate

First, three disclaimers: one, I'm always overwhelmingly negative of conservatives in debates. I keep putting myself in the shoes of the Republican, and -- probably because I'm such an egotistical fool -- I keep being disappointed in what I see as opposed to what I wish would have been done; second, I actually left the room for the last 25 minutes of the debate out of frustration (see point one above); thirdly, before the debate started I had warned my audience (consisting of myself and my children's teddy bears) of my diminished expectations for tonight. Yes, it was an area that McCain should have been great in--but I harkened back to '04 and thought about that first debate. . .about topics that Bush should've crushed Kerry on. . .and he just didn't. I was afraid I would witness much the same thing tonight.

Sadly, I think I ended up being right.

IF I was a general policy fool and was just judging the candidates on their performance tonight, it was a hands-down victory.

For Obama.

First off, he wasn't a stumble-bumpkin at all. And while there were moments where he was maybe speaking too loudly, since he started off that way there wasn't a noticeable difference as the night went along (in other words, he didn't really appear to be losing his cool). He spoke clearly, was able to get specific in certain areas (not about policy, mind you, but he had enough details to fire decent counter-punches when the situation called for it), and was much more engaging of the atmosphere--Lehrer, McCain and the camera--than was McCain.

And in terms of "attacks", Obama's were pointed. And fairly frequent. McCain's were. . .umm. . .off-topic mostly. And rambling. I mean, I'm SCREAMING at the TV about what McCain should say back. . .and clearly my mind-meld system was on the fritz tonight.

But to the "issues" as they were, tying in my conservative criticisms: how is it that on the economy, we hear about a "warning shot" about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae back in 2006--from Obama? I didn't even know that such a warning existed. . .and I'm actually going to be interested to see if it is. But we KNOW McCain has a moment very similar to that. . .that somehow he neglected to mention.

How is it that Obama's mockery of the small total amount of earmarks in the budget had zero response from McCain? If the debate boiled down simply to earmarks vs taxes. . .well, it wasn't a shining moment for McCain.

But HERE'S my biggest beef: why hasn't McCain HAMMERED Obama on his Iraq judgement as the judgement of someone who was not IN THE KNOW? Listen, Obama has stood by an UNEDUCATED AND UNINFORMED judgement of Iraq in 2002. Did he have access to the intel that members of the UNITED STATES Congress were looking at when they sided with Bush? NO! And Obama's running mate, a man who DID have access to that intel and who Obama wants us to believe is ready to fill in as the top dog if such a situation was warranted, supported the move to war--as did several other members of his party. So for Obama to have ANY judgement about the war from that position of ignorance is DANGEROUS--and THAT is what McCain should have been hammering away at all day long. Sadly, no such luck.

Now it wasn't all roses for Obama. For example, I caught just a little bit of his closing remarks, and if I'm not mistaken I heard him say something to the effect of this country no longer being a place where people feel they can accomplish anything. Is it just me, or does this statement coming from a black man in Mississippi a mere 40 years after the height of MLKs movement ring empty?

Anyhow. . .I expect Obama to get a little bump in his polling after tonight. McCain has GOT to do better than this in the next debate.

And if this election goes sour for McCain, I'm going to think that this week was a big reason why.

Friday, September 19, 2008

not your most authoritative electoral analysis

As I wrote not too long ago, I'm not getting too excited about the polls just yet.

Yes, we're starting to get polling on individual states, and those are more interesting to me. But with the debates ahead, and heaven only knows what kinds of issues still to arise to front-page stories, there's a LONG WAY to go to Tipperary.

But here are some quick reminders:

a) overall polling means almost nothing. The election is decided by states, not by the "general population". So for trends, yes, given a good methodology and a balanced pull of the electorate, MAYBE there's something to a nationwide poll. But really, other than just trends, don't get too excited about anything that doesn't have state affiliation tied to it.

b) McCain does NOT have to keep all of Bush's 2004 states to win. Bush beat the needed electoral spread by 16, so McCain does have some fudge room. So even if Obama turns both New Mexico and Iowa blue, as is expected, McCain is still the winner provided all other states follow their 2004 vote.

c) Keep in mind that of the close state races in 2004, 6 went to Bush from all over the map (OH, NM, IA, FL, CO, and NV) and 5 went to Kerry from primarily the midwest (WI, PA, MN, MI, and NH). At RCP, there are 10 states still in "toss-up", and 6 of them are leaning Obama right now (although the closest margins are for McCain, in Ohio and Nevada). While Obama is probably comfortable with how he will perform in Iowa, New Mexico and CO, he doesn't appear to have an inherent advantage in any of the other states; McCain, on the other hand, can spend just about the rest of the campaign in Big 10 country and really get a lot of bang for his buck in trying to get some other midwest state to turn red. Regionally speaking, McCain has the easier task at hand. Having said that, IF Obama does turn NM, IA and CO into his column and everything else stays the same. . .well, then Nancy Pelosi gets the honor of making Barack Obama our next President.

c2) How ironic that a ballot initiative put into play in CO in 2004 that was largely hated by the right could have made the above scenario STILL not enough to make Obama the President? I'm talking about amendment 36, the initiative to split the electoral votes in a loose resemblance to the popular vote. It was beaten in '04 by a pretty sound vote, and for the record, I think the winner-take-all system is the right system for just about every state. But in '04 it was defeated behind the efforts of conservatives. . .and then along came 2006, and Dems won just about everything in CO. No talk of another amendment has since arisen, oddly enough. Now, of course, we're worried that CO goes blue this year. Ah, what a country, eh?

d) Are any of the non-close 2004 states in play? Exceedingly, it looks like the answer is no. While I don't think that McCain will cruise to Bush-like victories in Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Missouri, I think he will probably hold serve there. Obama's attempts in Oregon and Washington appear to be on solid ground, too--and that was an area where I thought maybe Palin would make a difference.

SO. . .traditional battlegrounds. A little room for error, although it looks like some of that room has already been rented out. (Why on earth is Iowa in love with Obama, anyhow?) And AT LEAST 4 more major newsmaking events left in the campaign.

Long way to Tipperary, indeed!

another case for drilling?

So the government bailed out a shaky financial environment yesterday.

Kudos to them.

But I have a question: where, when, and how heavy is the shoe going to fall on me, the taxpayer?

This is a 13- or 14-figure expense the government just signed into. They don't just have that kind of money. Or at least, they don't if they want the dollar to hold any value.

So I'm a wonderin': is there a way to use this as another angle to put drilling back in the center of the table?

Listen, I have no idea how inter-related such things are, but two things occur to me: 1) Alaska has a budget surplus, and 2) most observers--if not all--credit that surplus to the oil revenues (i.e. taxes) they receive.

Can the argument be made that if we start drilling the OCS and ANWR and get some oil revenues flowing, then we help pay down some of this new debt with a revenue stream we don't currently have?

That's what we're talking about here: the need for a new federal revenue source. It occurs to me that we have just the thing in abundance in lotsa places throughout this country. And I don't want high taxes on this new oil, don't get me wrong--but even low taxes on that oil is a much better income than any taxes on the current amount of developed oil.

'Cuz that current amount of oil is zero. And taxing zero gets you. . .zero. Or at least that's what the tax on zero SHOULD be!

I mean, even the leftist of us must know that if this bailout is passed on to the taxpayer, then the likelihood of their expensive programs finding an agreeable public becomes smaller. Much smaller.

Is this something that can find resonance on the stump?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reform this!

Reports are that Sen. Joe Biden (in case you forgot, he's Obama's VP pick) is travelling pretty much as an army of one nowadays.

On a big ol' 737.

Isn't that a bit pricey?

I mean, I'm no civil aviation expert, but if his plane is seriously 3/4 empty, then there's GOT TO be a way to transport him at a cheaper cost.

So here's a real put-up-or-shut-up moment for Obama: dare to downgrade the travel set-up of his #2 in order to save a buck, showing good stewardship of the money he's been given by his adoring throngs?

Or keep Biden in the 737. . .and keep burnin' through that election treasure chest, for no real reason other than to keep up an appearance of power?

Style vs substance: a test only for the One.

how about "text message"?

Obama's campaign recently released an ad referred to as "e-mail", which attempts to paint McCain as so old and "out of it" that he doesn't even use e-mail.

Of course, never you mind that the real reason that McCain doesn't favor that medium is because it is physically difficult for him to sit at a keyboard for any period of time due to injuries he incurred in service of this nation many moons ago.

So what to do in the face of this blatant smear? Well, there's always 3 options in something like this: either fire back, or get indignant, or just ignore it.

McCain's surrogates have used the indignant tactic. McCain himself has apparently ignored it. For the record, I think "ignoring" this one is the way for the McCain camp to go, and he needs to direct his surrogates not to get too wimpy with the "indignant" card.

But MAN OH MAN is there an opportunity to go back guns a-blazin' at this thing!

"Sen. Obama promised his followers a text message so they'd be the first to know his Vice Presidential pick. It was another step in Obama's plan to make the little guy feel like he matters in politics.

But every major news agency had already unveiled Obama's choice many hours before that much ballyhooed text message went over the networks.

And the little guy? He got the text message in the dead of the night.

Grand promises. Failed deliveries. The little guy being left in the dark.

Is that change you want to believe in?"

Obama's camp--who NEVER misses a chance to play indignant--would keep this entire topic alive for another WEEK!

And it's a line of attack that does NOT make Obama look good.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

gotta wonder about Bob Slowik

Broncos fans will recognize the name in the title. For those who don't he's the defensive coordinator for the Denver donkeys. My beloved B-men are in a shootout right now with the hated Philip Rivers (I mean the San Diego chargers).

And I have one question:

With Champ Bailey and Dre Bly on the field, how is it that Karl Paymah is the one who ends up covering the Chargers best receiver?

And by the way, how much is Denver regretting saying goodbye to Dominic Foxworth?

Lighter reading


All right, some observations from week 1 in the NFL, but especially about my beloved B-men.

1) Three big things about the Broncos victory Monday night. First of all, they TROUNCED the Raiders!!! (And there was much rejoicing) Secondly, I loved that Jay Cutler was NEVER under pressure the whole game. If the O-line can just let Cutler breathe this year. . .it will be a pretty big year. Thirdly, was I the only Bronco fan that noted the couple of touchbacks that Prater gave us on kick-offs? Yes, the first kickoff of the game was returned for a big gain--and that will happen. But if Prater can give us 50% touchbacks ON THE ROAD. . .then we're not going to lose the field position battle this year as badly as we have in year's past. And that is a battle that goes a long way to winning the war!

2) Tom Brady is out for the year. So that fact, combined with an uninspiring Indy performance and a San Diego loss of game and key player (Shawne Merriman), and people are asking if the AFC is up for grabs? Well, the answer is "no more than it was before"--when those 3 teams, plus Pittsburgh, were all considered as viable favorites. And they still are. What, you ask, no drop for New England? No, I'm not willing to knock them off yet. Yes, Brady WAS the game-changer for the Pats, and obviously his absence is going to be painful. BUT really, how hard is it to go 6- or 7-player protection and throw the ball deep up the sideline to Moss? And every so often, just find Welker out of the slot, where he ALWAYS seems to be open. And it will be a beautiful year to own Lawrence Maroney in fantasy leagues. No, the Pats will be fine for the regular season. And by the time the playoffs roll around, they'll have as much chance as anybody.

What of my B-men? Well, I still don't know enough about the D-line. Today we'll get a better idea, but until then. . .

3) In the NFC, that Pack-Vikings game was a good 'un, and I think both teams have to be encouraged: for the Pack, Rodgers won't lose a game for you. And that's what this team needs from him, especially if Ryan Grant comes back strong; and for the Vikes, Tavaris Jackson showed some pretty good stuff in the second half. Both those teams have reason to be excited about their prospects this year.

But nobody should be happier than Carolina and Chicago fans, as their road victories were quite impressive.

Oh yes, I am SO READY for some football!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Change you can believe in?

If you read this blog, you are familiar with the words I used in the title. "Change you can believe in" is, of course, Obama's creed.

Well, "change" is now kind of a big thing in this election. Or is it?

For what it's worth, I totally believe that electing Obama will result in "change".

Working with a (likely to be) Democrat-controlled Congress, his liberalism will be totally unleashed. He will expand the government in a manner that we haven't seen since the depression, he will appoint the most liberal-minded jurists to the many vacant spots in higher-level courts, and he will unhinge our economy in the name of "stopping the rise of the oceans and healing the planet".

So make no mistake: there will be change under an Obama administration.

It just isn't a change that I want to be a part of.

What does McCain offer? Well, I think he will change things too--but in a much milder manner than would Obama. I think he will push hard to open OCS drilling (at the least). And I hope he sticks to his guns when he gets his first spending bill that includes pork--and I think he will. But other things that McCain offers--like limiting the bloating of government programs--aren't so much "change" as they are a "reform" of the current status quo. Heck, even the anti-pork crusade is more of a reform of the appropriations process than it is an outright change.

So Obama DOES represent a bigger potential change to Washington than does McCain--in my humble opinion.

But does our government really need to be changed?

Or does it just need to start doing its job better--more efficiently and more in the spirit of representing the people?

Because THAT isn't the kind of government that Obama is interested in providing to you.

Again, that's my humble opinion.

Carnac-like analysis

Today is Sunday, September 7th. The day the NFL regular season kicks off in full force.

And, if you believe Rasmussen and Barack Obama, the day the rise of the oceans continued unabated and the planet's healing was put off for at least another 4 years.

Or something like that.

Because today, Rasmussen says that things are all even. And we have every reason to believe that by mid-week, Rasmussen might be telling us that McCain-Palin is in the lead ever-so-slightly.

Zogby (I know, Zogby!) has McCain-Palin up 4. Gallup still has Obama with a lead, but that is with a poll that hasn't taken full account of Palin's performance and McCain's speech yet. And lest ye wonder if McCain hurt himself with his rather dreary oratory the other day, the answer appears to be "no".

Now, I fall back on my all-time disclaimer: these polls mean nothing. McCain taking even a 5-point lead at this stage of the game--which he won't, but for the sake of argument let's use this number--does NOT mean that we should all start breathing a sigh of relief.

When we start getting some state-by-state polling that shows a consistent trend, THEN we can see a better picture developing. But even those polls won't matter much.

It's all about election day.

Pardon me, let me rephrase that: experienced hands know that it's ALL ABOUT election day.

Which leads me to the point of today's post: Obama WILL start panicking.

He has plenty of money. He has plenty of popularity. He has every reason to believe that this is his year.

But if these polls show it to be anything but, I think he is going to have an awfully hard time keeping a reign on his machine.

We'll know better in a couple days if McCain's speaking tendencies are off-putting. To put it honestly, it's hard to imagine any politician doing worse in delivering that speech on Thursday than did McCain.

But if McCain sees polls in his favor this week, that means that America is looking past his delivery and is looking directly at his words. And they're liking what they see.

I'm going to assume that we will see some positive trend in McCain's direction out of the convention. With that as the foundation, here goes my prognosticating:

The Presidential debates have no up-side for Obama. McCain is unlikely to lose voters there, but Obama may very well lose some if he stutters too much (as he's been known to do) or if he says something remarkably off-message or easily fact-checked to be incorrect (which he's also been known to do).

And as the debates pass by, I think Obama will start looking for some way to seize the advantage.

Enter Michelle.

She's already been declared off-limits for "attacks", which makes her the perfect vehicle for Obama's camp to get out some ridiculous message that can't be tied to the candidate himself.

Never mind that even Michelle's appearance on the stump totally invalidates the left's arguing that Palin is an unfit mother if she continues on her quest for the Vice Presidency. At least Palin is leaving her kids in the care of their father--who's watching Obama's kids when he and she are both on the stump? But I digress--I just gave the left's talking points entirely more attention than they are worth.

So I think long about mid-October Mrs. Obama's going to say something . . .classless. Something that has as much truth in its fiber as all the truther conspiracies circling out there. Something that takes the rhetorical level of this election to new lows.

And the media "may" just report it. They won't investigate it, of course--they'll just report it.

And suddenly the "issue" that springs to the front of the media isn't about "reform", or "change", or "experience"--it's about this ridiculous innuendo that just so happened to enter the political landscape via the wife of the Democrat's nominee.

By then, we have no idea of knowing how much credibility the media will have in mainstream America. But they will do their best to put it all on the line in the name of getting their One across the finish line.

Will it work? Nationwide, my guess is no, it won't work.

But "nationwide" doesn't matter. What matters is Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida.

McCain needs 3 of 'em in his column to have a chance on election night. A well-placed attack may just tip the scales against him.

And we all know by now: don't put dirty fighting beyond the capability of the Obama camp.

They've got the medi--I mean, they've got the messengers. And even if all the polls start leaning McCain, Obama will still have enough follwers to be close enough to take advantage of a slip.

They will not be above trying to manufacture that slip themselves.

No matter what the polls start saying, this thing isn't done until after sundown, Hollywood time, on November 4th. Period.

Or so goes my prediction du jour.

Friday, September 05, 2008

RNC impressions

So it's over--the quadrennial GOP convention has sang its' last note.

Last night, McCain gave a completely appropriate address to the delegates. His delivery was off, due mostly to a crowd that was so eager to cheer that they continued to do so at the wrong time (seriously, maybe in 2012 when he's running for his second term, he can let key members of each delegation get a copy of the speech beforehand so that a lot of people in the audience are telling the floor "not yet--just wait a line"), but the content was unmistakeable: I am a guy who takes being President seriously. I am not trying to snow you with theatrics or a booming voice--I am trying to woo you with good principles, and a servant's heart.

Take that, Obama.

I had the great fortune of reading the speech while I watched McCain deliver it (I was watching him on Tivo well after he actually gave his address). I could find so very few things wrong with the written speech. It was unmistakably conservative, far more so than even I would have thought him to dare. It was also above the fray, quite respectful of Obama, while drawing some unique contrasts to the future plans of the two campaigns.

And once again, he played on Obama's turf.

What line from Obama's much ballyhooed speech will resonate with the conservatives and value-based voters on the right as much as McCain's "education is the civil rights issue of this century" will resonate with liberals and the inner-city populace of the left (or at least those who aren't already in line waiting for The One to start giving them things)? And that was just the introductory phrase to an awesome plan on education. Final line: "(we need to) help bad teachers find another line of work". While Obama might be able to muster enough conviction to SAY that in a speech, he could never deliver on that promise. Never.

I also liked what I call the "my party isn't always right and we haven't always been good" part of the speech. Real change demands that you break with the current scene in Washington--not JUST the current administration. Listen, this country is leaving a lot of people wanting not JUST because of the happenings at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. McCain called out on ALL of Washington to pull their heads out of their collective arse and get back to the business of the people. Did Obama make that appeal? And again, even if he says the words, does he have any measure of conviction in that endeavor?

Was it rousing? Well, no, not 'til the end--and even that was forced, as if he was tired of constantly having his best lines deflated by the homecourt crowd and he just decided to get it all done at once.

But was it good? Yes, it was. It was honest. It was appropriately forceful.

It was McCain. And that made it perfect for this night.


Seriously, WOW!

Why? Because 2 weeks ago, there were still serious concerns about the enthusiasm gap in the two parties. Because 2 weeks ago there was a not-so-silent assassin (the media) playing against the GOPs interest every step of the way. And because 2 weeks ago, this was an election about change.

Today? Well, I think the enthusiasm gap has been closed. I'm reading in TV week that more people watched MCCAIN speak than did the savior of the world? That's IMPOSSIBLE!

And today, I think the not-so-silent assassin has been identified for what it is: a homer of the left. They will continue doing what they do best until the end of the election--lie, fabricate, cover, etc--but the mask has slipped. All it took was the integrity of an All-American girl being eviscerated across every medium to shine this most unwelcome spotlight on the newsbearers themselves. They will still have influence, let me make clear--but at least now people know that there is no "unbiased" angle in their news. Hopefully they'll look to other places for their info--and hopefully that will lead people to draw their own conclusions, rather than to repeat the idiocy of the chattering class.

And today--well, this may still be an election about change. In fact, I hope it is--because that's not just Obama's turf anymore. He'll still get more people voting for him strictly out of the "change" meme--but at least it won't be a slam dunk. That's a battlefield that is too close to call--which makes the favorable standing on the "experience" and "tough as nails" front all the more enjoyable.

And let's not forget the "smart" front, either. Yesterday, Biden referred to Palin as the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska. I can't make this stuff up--fortunately, as long as there's Biden, I don't have to. You know, it was insufferable enough to refer to her as a mayor of a small town, as Obama did as recently as Tuesday if I'm not mistaken, because at least that was historically true while it was so remarkably inaccurate for the framed debate. But yesterday Biden called her a position she hasn't even held. If that's intentional, that's remarkably dumb. And if that's unintentional. . .well, that's remarkably dumb, especially since it happened the night after her big splash. Seriously, what politician DIDN'T know that she was the Governor of Alaska?

And THIS GUY is supposed to be okay as the man one heartbeat away from the Presidency?

But that's off-topic: what I want to write is that things have changed. It wasn't just Palin--but she certainly helped.

And it wasn't just Obama--but he certainly helped, too. And I have every reason to believe that he's going to help out more in the future. (But that's a topic for another post)

McCain has played all his cards perfectly so far. While I have no illusion that this is a done deal, I think he should be comfortable with his position.

And I hope he doesn't abandon the strategies that got him there.

Be bold. Be "unconventional". Be about the big picture as opposed to down-in-the weeds (or down-in-the-mud).

In other words: Be yourself.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

thoughts on the night

I'll be quick:

Romney was awesome! The PBS commentators were saying that he was so far right tonight that he couldn't see the middle--but that's not what I remember. What I remember was that he set up a nice theme for the night: attack Obama. I was glad it was done at some point in time, and I felt tonight was the night that it had to happen if it was to happen at all. And Romney was good tonight, very very good.

I skipped a few speakers and came in for the last part of Rudy Giuliani. He also was very very good--I was almost falling down laughing after a couple of his lines. His delivery is pitch-perfect for these types of things.

Of course, those were undercards--and let me tell you, it takes a lot to put Giuliani in the undercard. Tonight's show was all about Palin.

And she did. . .pretty darn good.

You know, I debated what I wanted to see tonight. In the end, it came down to this: show us that you're comfortable on this stage, show us that you know you're not an identity politics ploy, and show us something that we haven't seen yet.

SO, on this scorecard:

Comfort on stage: check. Maybe even check-plus.

Anti-Identity politics: check. THANK THE HEAVENS! I guess we'll call that a lesson learned the hard way.

Something we haven't seen yet: check, when she talked about her executive experience. She's the only one on either ticket who brings that to the table, and she celebrated it tonight. And I like where she set her sights with this: she wasn't about attacking her cohort on the bottom of the ticket. She set her sights on Obama, showing some moxie. It was a nice continuation on the theme of the night, and I liked how she made her shots: quick barbs, almost throw-away lines said with a picture-perfect s(!t-eating grin on her face.

So, bare minimums met, how was the rest of it? Well, the speech was. . .okay. I didn't like the flow of the thing--I thought it ended a little flat. On substance, it was fine. I didn't need laundry-lists, but I did need at least some policy stuff. She was a little light on the latter, mostly only providing specifics when talking about what she's done in Alaska. She'll have to be better than that on the "circuit"--but tonight wasn't about that.

In all, I say that was a solid performance. The crowd, by the way, absolutely loved her. How many lib press-type folks were shocked that she wasn't booed off the stage? Time for another story, guys and gals: Palin's not going anywhere.

What about post-speech reaction? Well, the round table at Fox loved it--even Mort Kondracke. Two bits of cold water: Nina Easton said--correctly, I believe--that it was a home run, but it's still the first inning. And Krauthammer said that her performance didn't alleviate any of his concerns about what her presence on the ticket does to McCain's experience narrative--which is also true, but I'm not hung up on it as much as he is.

Howard Wolfson said something that I thought was very point-on. He called the "stagecraft" tonight impressive. What stagecraft? Palin appeared by herself on the stage; the camera sometimes flashed to her family; and then when she was done, her family joined her on stage. That's not stagecraft--that AUTHENTIC! Obama's speech was at least partially about stagecraft--and it was as artificial as money could buy. Check that, make that "as artificial as A LOT of money could buy." Palin's appearance wasn't about stagecraft--but because of the authenticity of Palin, an impressive and inspiring scene kinda came through. That's the kind of thing that relates to the midwest--not the columns of Zeus.

And in case you missed it, Palin took a really good shot at those columns. The crowd ate it up!

Yeah, she was pretty sharp.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

quick thoughts on tonight's RNC

Fred Thompson's speech was good. My favorite part was when he did some straight-talking about Obama's tax proposals and how Obama swears "they won't raise your taxes. . .unless you buy things from a business or get paid by a business." That is a theme that needs to be hammered home from now 'til November. I don't think the speech was as much "red meat" as we were promised, but it was good. And as was written at National Review, I don't think anybody has ever spoken about McCain's POW time as well as Thompson did tonight.

Joe Lieberman's speech was pretty good, although it didn't get the rousing cheers of Thompson's. I did like his line about "unity of the country" instead of "unity of the party". And Lieberman hit on a thought that I've been having a lot lately: our party system is as much a hindrance on representative government as, say, the teacher's union is a hindrance on a primary education. The most important thing is to be correct on the issue, not correct on the party's stance. And that is something that McCain has tried to be, time and again.

SO here's the question: was tonight effective? Well, I wasn't the target, so I don't know for sure. But at least there was a pretty direct plea to an audience that apparently the DNC never reached out to.

And at least a decent stage is set for the next two nights, when the lights will be really shining.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Stealing a theme

My brother has already started writing Sarah Palin's speech. And that's a good idea, one that I hope he doesn't mind me piggy-backing on. I'm not as much for the big thoughts and themes as he is, but rather I live for the zinger. In that vein:

(After applause dies down and she's said thank you about a half-dozen times, and spoken about how honored she is to be there, etc) "I know how important this speech is to you, and to my candidacy, and to the campaign of John McCain. I need look no further than Sen. Hillary Clinton herself, who during this campaign season had this to say for the experience of the Democrats' nominee for the White House: "he has a speech he gave in 2004". Based on that astute observation from a venerable politician, I guess now I'm as qualified for the job of President as is Barack Obama."

talking more about her qualifications: "The Obama camp has been quick to criticize my experience, saying that I didn't have enough to assume the #2 job in the White House. But I disagree. You see, this country has frequently elected Governors to the White House, and despite the left's insistence that I'm nothing more than a mayor of a small town, I am, in fact, the Governor of the biggest state in the Union. Why do I mention the size of Alaska? Well, on May 19th of this year, Obama actually said that Iran doesn't pose a serious threat to us because it was a tiny country. I guess to Obama, one of the key ingredients to his vaunted judgement is "size". Well, I got news for you: size DOES matter. (flash to picture of Todd with a huge grin on his face. The T-shirts and the bumper stickers will practically print themselves!) Using that same basis of judgement, since I am the chief executive officer of the biggest state in the union, if there's ANY governor fit for federal office, it would be me.

And that's a judgement that I can agree with--for once"

And that's it for the specifics. You know, I'm kinda waffling on whether or not I want her to attack on Wednesday night. Maybe fun little barbs like these are fine, but there is something to be said for letting Wednesday night be about her. I critiqued Obama's speech on Thursday as un-Presidential, but it was more than that: it was un-Obama. On Wednesday, Palin is still going to be very much in the roll-out phase of her candidacy, and I think she needs to make it more about her: her policies, her beliefs, and her desire to serve. She'll get plenty of time to attack--I'm just not sure it should start on Wednesday.

But that doesn't mean she can't have the line(s) of the convention, at the expense of Obamania.