Monthly Archives: September 2008

How Does Biden Win Debate? Get Out of the Way for Tina Fey

Biden wins the debate by not making it about himself. Biden needs to convince no one about his abilities here. No real doubts. All the doubts lay on his opponent’s lap, which means he needs to get out of the way and let her talk, and talk, and talk. If he can get away with one or two word or sentence responses, that’s all he should do.  Let Sarah Palin self inflict the damage.

There is simply no way Palin gets good press here unless she can make something stick on Biden, and no way she can do that without his help.  They best she can hope for are reports saying she is not as dumb as the Couric interviews would have us believe, which doesn’t get her votes.

Already the McCain campaign is roughing the ref (Gwen Ifill) with silly empty threats that she better not spend too much time on foreign affairs, obviously because Palin knows so little about it and has already made several gaffes.  You can only see so much of Russia at sunrise.  

That’s ok, questions about the credit crisis would make a swell alternative. She knows even less than McCain about the issues at the center of the House Repub revolt against the Bush Plan. And she didn’t even get the option to “phone it in.” Or, let her respond to questions about the supreme court, or the privatization of social security, or about the flinstones serving as an educational tool for NCLB.

Matters not what the questions are. Just let her talk. let her talk. let her talk.  The more Sarah Palin talks, the more the public will see Tina Fey.  And that’ll be good for Joe.


Obama’s “smart is cool” versus McCain’s kidney punching “dumb is fun”

Given the previous 10 days, Barack Obama could have effectively ended John McCain’s chances of becoming president last night, and he didn’t, and for that reason I am disappointed.  Obama was appealing to the basic decency and intelligence of the american people. McCain’s entire campaign has been appealing to their stupidity. Coming on the heels of 8 years of proof that the American people indeed are capable of being rolled (twice!), McCain’s approach last evening, which played on this sad recognition, seemed to have the edge.  head down, no eye contact, plenty of lies and sucker punches. That’s what I saw.

Consider the recent unveiling of sarah palin at the rnc, which i thought would cement McCain’s demise, but actually had the opposite effect, at least for three weeks or so until her own ineptitute became so obvious that even convervative republicans began running for cover. For McBush, Palin as vp shows how “dumb is fun.”

On matters of the head, clear thinking and cognitive reasoning, Barack Obama won the debate hands-down. (smart is cool)

Regrettably, however, people vote on other matters: like a good story-line, and here’s one from last night.  After several days on life support, the angry old man got off the floor friday night to land some effective sucker punches on an opponent who refused to finish him off even tho he had several opportunities to do so (for example on McCain’s lack of support for veterans, on the bridge to nowhere as an example of McCain hypocrisy on earmarks, on McCain’s not knowing who the PM of Spain was, on several McCain misstatements on foreign policy during the debate itself– botched the names of the iranian president and pakastani pm, calling pakistan a failed state, arguing obama didn’t know the difference between tactics and strategies even tho it was McCain who incorrectly defined these terms, and so forth).

Recent history suggests this sort of “i an’t dead yet” narrative might indeed inspire a resurgence of conservative confidence in McCain, at least to make the next five weeks nailbitingly competitive. It also shows that the inability to finish off an opponent could come back to haunt Obama.

My how the bar has been lowered.   

So, here are the story lines.  Obama is counting on a “smart is cool” story line to take him into the west wing, while McCain is counting on a “dumb is fun” narrative to help his “i ain’t dead yet” candidacy.  

america has less than 40 days to decide.  get your popcorn

Calling Planet McCain

In addition to leading a suspended reality campaign for president,  John McCain also possesses power to warp time and space. He can read the future and communicate about it in the past tense.  That according to Chris Cilizza at The Fix, who reports McCain already is running an internet ad that says he won this evening’s debate starting in about 7 1/2 hours.  And this ad comes from a campaign in suspension that isn’t running political ads…   and from a candidate who was saying this morning he wasn’t sure he’d be attending this evening’s debate.

Perhaps it is time to ask about his medication.  

Or ours– B-T-W, why do the daily tracking polls show a dead heat this morning?

Suspending DisBelief

For a moment imagine the Barack Obama was the one engaging in  in the actions of his Republican counterparts these last four weeks, and ask yourself if Obama would not already have been laughed, scorned and ridiculed out of the presidential campaign.  It would be over.

what if:

1)as it turns out his pastor was a former witch hunter who was responsible for banishing a woman from his town;

2) His unwed daughter got pregnant out of wedlock to some hooligan.

3) he selected as his veep candidate someone no one knows and the more they got to know her all they saw was a combination of ignorance, and a lack of scruples.

4) threatened to postpone the first national debate and 12 hours before it was to start nobody knew if he would show up

5) said he was suspending his campaign with 40 days left and 2-5 points behind because there were important matters going on (and to top it off the campaign was never suspended)

6) he has very little idea about what those important economic matters in DC were all about, is not involved in the details of the negotiations yet is pretending to lead the effort, with unknown results.

Hey, if this were Obama, he would never again be considered for the post of dog catcher.

Now comes the difficult questions?

Suspend Campaign? Postpone Debate? Dog Eats McCain’s Homework

John McCain has not suspended his campaign despite what his campaign says. It’s another ridiculous ploy that makes little sense.  As for his noncampaign, he will be interviewed by the 3 major networks this evening. As for the non-campaign, his campaign headquarters around the country report no cessation of activity. As for for speechifying, McCain made several partisan jabs while at the Clinton summit today.

So, it stretches the imagination to see how McCain has suspended his campaign. 

Postpone the debate? why? It boggles the mind to accept the McCain bromide of country first (which is a political slogan) over a political debate that would explain to the public what he would do as president to lead the country out of the current economic tumult.  Since McCain will probably spend the time tomorrow night giving interviews, or napping, I do not understand what patriotic act he will participate in that is more important than democratic discourse and political debate on highly complicated economic issues.

Aha, That’s the key.

McCain is chicken shit, or some such equivalent. He never even read the 3 page Paulson plan before suspending his campaign and calling Obama to postpone the debate, and on the bigger plane, he knows he cannot respond coherently to questions about a 26 year career of pro market deregulation and his overnight calls for regulation, bailouts and oversight.  He knows that even tho the theme tomorrow night is foreign policy that the meltdown will indeed be the agenda. And he cannot speak to it.

McCain is doing the equivalent of faking an illness so as to be excused from the exam that his staff fears will cement the demise of his presidential ambitions.   When my students’ “dog eats their homework,” they get an “F.” In a democracy the equivalent is the candidate loses my vote.

McCain should lose yours.

Muting Sarah Palin: The incredible Sexism of John McCain

I have never before seen anything so sexist in presidential politics as the efforts by the McCain campaign to mute Sarah Palin and to colonize her state of Alaska with McCain staffers who are now calling the shots on state business.

Three glaring examples.

First, when the campaign pretty successfully tried barring reporters from the photo-op sessions of Palin at the UN, the only comments picked up by the mics had to do with Palin and Hamid Karzai talking about Karzei’s domestic life and new child (stereotypically female issues).  When Palin was shown with Columbian leader uribe, Uribe looked extremely uncomfortable and his was the only voice heard. The candidate was mute.  Generations ago, women struggled to have their voiced heard on the public stage. Hillary Clinton’s candidacy represented the culmination of the struggle in large part because the candidate was substance, her voice unmistakable and highly influential. Her voice, more than her presence, changed the course of the ’08 campaign.

Second, when she does talk, as to Charlie Gibson or Katie Couric, she refuses to speak in anything but cliches, repeating them as often as she can get away with before the reporter moves on to something else.  Again, no voice here. No substance. No policy, nothing more than a satiric ripoff of sexist “dumb blonde” routines, that played well in the entertainment business of the 1930s-50s, but clearly have no role in 2008. 

And third, consider troopergate, where the governor’s silence forces one to wonder what in heck’s name she is hiding.  During the past couple weeks, McCain has dispatched lawyers and Rovians to do everything they can to quash the investigation and palins’s reputation as a “good government” governor.  They have instructed the governor and her husband to stay away for investigators and to stay quiet.  They have intimidated witnesses who had earlier voiced their cooperation to now stay quiet.  Thanks to John McCain, from these days on Sarah Palin will forever have to live down her coverup of the troopergate scandal.

 During her first 18 months as governor, she was seen as a strong, vocal voice for transparency and clean government.  This is what bought her 80% approaval ratings.  Folks thought they were getting a clean contrast to the corruption of Ted Stevens and other high ranking Repubs. Turns out they weren’t.  Palin will return to Alaska should she lose, with her reputation in tatters, not because of a sexist press, but because she has allowed herself to become the antithesis of the strong leader her supporters suggest she once was.  

Key:  And who is to blame for her supplicant role here?  John McCain, who has shown by his actions he is more interested in her status as former beauty queen (like his two wives), who gives a good wave and smile but no voice.

Since Palin’s voice has been silenced by John McCain, one wonders what the women’s struggle for political rights was all about.  Perhaps that’s way too big a question here. How ’bout this. what was John McCain thinking when he selected her to be Veep?  Did he really want to make the sort of history of having the first female VP in history would not be allowed to talk?  Yikes.

McCain Would Rather Pretend 2 b President than Be President

John McCain’s erratic decision and his apparent agitation during the past few weeks is quite disturbing for a would-be president. Only 3 weeks ago, he nearly cancelled the $70 million dollar RNC because of a hurricane, and now he says he wants to suspend his campaign because of the meltdown on wall street.


he wants to cancel friday’s debate. 

seems to not want to run for president. prefers pretending he is president.  and like a little kid in need of some ritalin, he is jumping from activity to activity, reversing course and in need of some cohering thread so others might follow along. 

sorry. no cohering thread here.

Not only do these moves suggest desperation and poor judgment, they are nothing more than cynical ploys of diverting attention away from a flailing campaign.  A contrivance.  Problem for John McCain is the smoke is clearing on his charade of a campaign and the american public is beginning to see the wizard behind the curtain.

Here’s the one thing John McCain could do as presidential candidate: show a way out of the mess. Lead through discussion. make us understand the intracacies of this problem so we are less afraid.  show the country how you would lead the country out of this mess. In short, DEBATE the issue!!!  But alas, he doesn;t want to because he doesn’t understand, and thus cannot really lead.

There was nothing john McCain could have done during the republican convention to save the people of Louisiana.  He wanted the american people to believe he holds executive powers which he does not hold.  But, all he could have done is get in the way. Obama understood this.

Same now. John McCain is no expert on this meltdown; Quite the opposite. By his own admission he does not much about economics.  As Senator Schumer suggested this afternoon, McCain would just get in the way and that he ought to just stay away.

No constructive role here for a McCain presidential simulation.   and the pretend quality of his actions are unnerving to say the least.

It makes me wonder what John McCain would do a president when crises hit. Would he grind the government to a halt until the crisis passed?  Or, would he calmly and credibly handle the situation in the every day course of being president, which is what I would like my president to be able to do?