Saturday, August 30, 2008

The "real" Sarah Palin

By Michael J.W. Stickings

We were all over the Palin pick yesterday, with posts from Creature, Libby, JKP, JTD, and Creature and me, and our reaction was essentially this: what a pathetic pick. As Creature put it, McCain "laid a big fat egg."

Surely that's clear. Right? Well, not necessarily.

I was listening to Buffalo sports radio -- call me pathetic, if you must (I much prefer Toronto sports radio) -- on my way home from work yesterday afternoon. The two hosts, one of whom stressed that he wasn't terribly fond of the Republican Party, were talking about Palin. How attractive she is. How "real" she is. How so unlike Hillary she is. How many bases she covers for McCain. What a great pick she is. And I thought, this is exactly how the pick is being received by much of the American electorate, the low-information electorate, the electorate without much of a clue.

It is hardly surprising that some men would find Palin more desirable, in many ways, than Hillary. After all, Palin isn't, or at least doesn't seem to be, much of a threat to their chauvinistic masculinity. She's quite attractive. Back in 1984, she was Miss Wasilla, then Miss Alaska runner-up. She's athletic and sports-minded, once a TV sports reporter in Anchorage. She's a self-defined "hockey mom." And she's socially conservative, extremely so. So, to some men, she's perfect. Sure, she's gone on to become quite successful in the political arena, but it's not like she dominates the men around her, or at least doesn't seem to. Where Hillary is a threat, what with her determination and drive, Palin, simply put, is "real." And it helps that she's from a place a long, long way from Washington and doesn't seem like a politician. So what if she has next to no experience and isn't at all ready for the national stage, let alone the presidency?

No wonder Buffalo jocks like her, eh? They were quick to attack Obama for his campaign's "lack of experience" criticism of Palin, but of course Obama does have significant political experience and has spent the past year and a half running for president. He has proven himself, and he has put his judgement on the line. What has Palin ever done?

Well, it doesn't matter. McCain made a cynical pick. He is hoping to attract women, including disaffected Hillary supporters, simply by having a woman with him on the ticket. He is hoping to balance his old age with youth (and complete and utter inexperience). He is hoping to counter Obama's case for change by linking his maverick myth to an outsider, a reformer, one with no ties to Washington. And he is hoping to capitalize on making what is being seen by some as an exciting pick. He's old, cranky, and senile, but just look at that hot hockey mom next to him!

Yes, a pathetic pick by a pathetic man.


And it helps that she's such an unknown -- including to the guys on Buffalo sports radio, who are just happy she's attractive and not like Hillary. As "a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds: Most Americans say they've never heard of her." She's made a good first impression to many (and McCain got a pretty big donation bounce from the pick), but it's all surface appearance at this point. Whether Americans really want her to be so close to the presidency is another matter entirely.


Make sure to check out Ann Friedman at The American Prospect: "McCain's Sexist VP Pick." The Palin pick is "Republican tokenism and pandering at its worst."

Key passage: "Palin is not a woman who has a record of representing women's interests. She is beloved by extremely right-wing conservatives for her anti-choice record (fittingly, she's a member of the faux-feminist anti-choice group Feminists for Life). Palin supports federal anti-gay marriage legislation. She believes schools should teach creationism. Alaska is currently considering spending more on abstinence-only sex education. And when it comes to a slew of other issues of importance to women, such as equal pay, she's not on the record."

We'll see how McCain-Palin does in the polls once women (and the men who care about such issues as equal pay and the right to choose) learn more about her.


Charlie Black, top McCain advisor: "[Sarah Palin is] going to learn national security at the foot of the master for the next four years, and most doctors think that he'll be around at least that long."

Steve Benen, deconstructing Black (and the Palin pick itself) to shreds:

First, it's not an especially good idea for top McCain aides to joke about whether McCain is going to survive four years in office.

Second, it's not an especially good idea to describe McCain as "the master" on national security, given that he's embarrassingly confused about national security and foreign policy for quite some time.

Third, it's not an especially good idea to concede, on the record, that the Vice President during two wars will need on the job training.

And fourth, John McCain's top strategist has effectively told the New York Times that the Republican nominee for V.P. won't be ready on Day One, but that's fine, because McCain will probably live until 2013. Seriously. That's his argument.

And what a pathetic, and laughable, argument it is.


I'm often critical of Le Politico, but at least they had the good sense to report this: "John McCain was aiming to make history with his pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and historians say he succeeded. Presidential scholars say she appears to be the least experienced, least credentialed person to join a major-party ticket in the modern era."

And, what's more -- if I may offer yet more praise -- they put "He's desperate" at the top of the list of six things the Palin pick "tells us about McCain":

Let's stop pretending this race is as close as national polling suggests. The truth is McCain is essentially tied or trailing in every swing state that matters -- and too close for comfort in several states, such as Indiana and Montana, that the GOP usually wins pretty easily in presidential races. On top of that, voters seem very inclined to elect Democrats in general this election -- and very sick of the Bush years.

McCain could easily lose in an electoral landslide. That is the private view of Democrats and Republicans alike.

McCain had to do something, anything. However, [i]n one swift stroke, McCain demolished what had been one of his main arguments against Obama."


Finally, here's yet more evidence that Krazy Bill Kristol is an idiot: "Let Palin Be Palin Why the left is scared to death of McCain's running mate."

Really? Scared to death? Come on. (With all due respect to Palin, she's an embarrassing pick.)

The first paragraph is especially idiotic: "A spectre is haunting the liberal elites of New York and Washington -- the spectre of a young, attractive, unapologetic conservatism, rising out of the American countryside, free of the taint (fair or unfair) of the Bush administration and the recent Republican Congress, able to invigorate a McCain administration and to govern beyond it."

But of course, as you all know, Krazy Kristol occupies a world that is not our own, a world where this sort of bullshit -- seriously, this is what passes for political analysis in Kristol's world -- is taken seriously.

Read our posts linked at the top of this post for a refutation of the Krazy Kristolian view.


Find more reaction over at Memeorandum.

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Boo-freakin'-hoo: Cindy McCain's pathetic pity play

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Poor Cindy McCain. It must be so hard to be a wealthy heiress:

Democrats' attacks on her family's wealth are unfair and offensive, Cindy McCain said today in an interview airing tomorrow on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

For nearly two weeks, Democrats have repeatedly hit Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for saying he is unaware of how many houses he owns, calling the presumptive Republican presidential nominee out of touch with everyday Americans. In his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention on Thursday, Democratic nominee Barack Obama turned up the heat on McCain, saying he "doesn't know" about the lives of middle-class Americans.

"I'm offended by Barack Obama saying that about my husband," said McCain's wife Cindy. When asked if Obama went too far in his criticism of McCain, Cindy responded, "I do. I do. I really do."

What nonsense. Obama is right to go after McCain for not being able to say how many houses he owns. We all know that McCain is out of touch with reality, but now we also know that he's out of touch with the reality of his own life.

It may very well be that Cindy's father, James Hensley, worked hard for his wealth. But what exactly did Cindy do, other than be born, to acquire that wealth?

And what exactly did John McCain do, other than marry into a wealthy family after ditching his first wife, to find himself in a position where he doesn't even know how many houses he owns?

Cindy's argument is the one Romney made a few days ago, and it's bullshit.

It is the Obamas, Barack and Michelle alike, who have worked hard all their lives to pull themselves up to where they are now (which is still far below the McCains). There is no denying that John, if not Cindy, has been through difficulty in his life, to put it mildly, but there is no excuse for being so blatantly out of touch, not least when you're running for the presidency.

Obama's criticism is hardly unfair, and Cindy's pity play, the whining of the wealthy, is simply ridiculous, evidence of a character corrupted by a massive inheritance and a life lived in many houses and on many easy streets.

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On to McCain -- Let the record show...

By Carol Gee

About Governor Sarah Palin -- Senator McCain, we are on to you now about what your actions indicate. The negative reaction to your naming of a right wing novice to be your running mate is broad and deep. And it is far from an unreasoning reaction. There are good reasons for our opinions. It is not as if we citizens would be unaffected by the outcome, if the order of succession tragically came into play here.

About this Veep -- The range of similar views spans the political spectrum. Long time liberals leveled predictable comments; but so did some conservatives. Democratic reaction ranged from edgy delight to dismay. Republicans wanting to support their presumptive presidential nominee were left scrambling for coherence.

What is all the sputtering about? These links from "betmo" offer, she says, "two views of Palin." The first bears on the question of women's choice and the second is by an Alaskan who appears to be in the know.

1) Regarding women -- "Sarah Palin and Feminists for Life," by Ruth Rosen, is at TPM Cafe (8/29/08). To quote its conclusion:

In the end, I decided that Feminists for Life is neither about feminism nor about choice. It is a cunning attempt to convince young women that choice means giving up the right to "choose."

Sarah Palin is the inexperienced woman Sen. John McCain has chosen as his running mate, hoping that she will attract the vital female vote. It's the worst kind of affirmative action, choosing a person he barely knows, who is completely unprepared to assume any national office. It's like nominating Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court. It's all about ideology and not about competence.

To put it bluntly, Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton. Nor does she have the vision and brilliance of Barack Obama. This is an incredible insult to most American women. Just how stupid does he think we are?

2) From on the ground -- "Dispatch From Alaska: Palin? Really?" is by Charles Wohlforth, a lifelong Alaska Democrat and occasional TNR contributor, gives us the word on Palin from up north. It is from The New Republic - The Plank (8/29/08): To quote rather extensively:

I first met Sarah Palin just after she'd been elected mayor of the little town of Wasilla, Alaska, in October 1996. My first impression was that she didn't seem up to the job.

. . . I eventually came to see her appeal when she ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2002. She projected an authenticity and freshness that was very appealing in a state saddled with a corrupt oligarchy of pro-oil Republicans. . . Palin was among the first to take a stand. Having been in the right place at the right time, with that amazing smile, she shot upward in a way no one has ever done before.

The idea of her being a potential president, however, is laughable. That is to say, at our house this morning, we literally were belly-laughing when we heard the news that John McCain had chosen her. I wouldn't be surprised if the audience she spoke to at McCain's announcement was the largest she ever addressed.

Running for governor two years ago, Palin didn't have firm stands on issues, and in debates, she displayed discomfiting shallowness. A moderator had to ask her three times to clarify her position on the critical (for us) issue of indigenous hunting rights. Her victory was simply a vote for change.

. . . By most objective measures, she isn't ready to be a single heartbeat away from the presidency. The image of McCain and Palin on stage this morning looked a bit like a graduation picture, of father and daughter. It reminded me as well of the elder George Bush and Dan Quayle. On the other hand, Palin did well in her speech.

About what we do or do not know -- Author "smintheus" @ Daily Kos (8/29/08) wrote a very good expose, "Some things you didn't know about Sarah Palin." H/T to Jon for the links. To quote:

Sarah Palin had political experience only as a small town mayor until less than two years ago. What we don't know about her could fill a book. Here are a few things we're learning about Palin.

. . . John McCain would have us believe that Iraq is the central battle in the war on terror, and yet he selects as his running mate somebody who was paying almost no attention to the Iraq war for 4 long years after the invasion.

. . . the troopergate scandal, in which Palin allegedly misused her power as governor by bringing inappropriate pressure for two employees to be fired. What's perhaps most interesting is that Palin appears to have begun misusing power almost as soon as she got any real power.

About mainstream media's McCain bias -- Senator McCain, we are on to you about the easy time the mainstream media has given you over the years. This little gem (8/22/08) is from Time Magazine: "McCain, From The Vault." This story features a McCain 1988 campaign video, as well as a recent New York Times correction regarding erroneously calling McCain a "fighter pilot." And even vets are on to you, including this "One Pissed Off Veteran."

About your lobbyist ties -- Senator McCain, we are on to your hypocrisy. This is from Jon* (8/22/08) "This guy is good talking out of both sides of his mouth! Check out this post on Think Progress:" McCain: There Are Too Many Lobbyists In Washington, But 160 Of Them Run My Campaign." To quote the post's opening:

Earlier this week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) held a $1.75 million fundraiser tied to Ralph Reed, the former Christian Coalition head connected to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In an interview with Politico yesterday, however, McCain ripped lobbyists as birds of prey, adding, I think there are too many lobbyists in Washington". . .

Getting on to McCain is not unpatriotic, it is not irrational, and it is not irresponsible. It is necessary. The Democratic Convention is over and now it is time to move on to McCain Unmasked -- The Republican Convention. You have heard before and you will hear again, "We cannot afford four more years of this."

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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The lady on the right

By Capt. Fogg

Somewhere in a closet I have an old Louisville Slugger. I'm thinking of getting it out just in case I have to listen to any more crap about the New York Times and the "liberal Press." Face it; anyone who isn't still asking themselves what the hell John McCain was thinking could use a good whack on the head, but serious questions are not what I am reading in the Times this morning. Instead we have Sarah Heath Palin, an Outsider Who Charms
"She rose to prominence by impressing voters more with gumption than with an established record."

Is gumption some code word for opposing abortion rights, gay marriage and perhaps censoring the public library? Does it stand for deficit spending and unrestricted drilling leases for the oil companies? Yes, her ability to garner support without having to delineate policy has many people dumbfounded. It should have us worried as concerns a country where looks and personality trump intelligence, honesty and knowledge every time.

And then we have: Choice of Palin Is Bold Move by McCain, With Risks Bold Move? Does Bold mean random or erratic or counterproductive nowadays? McCain risks undercutting the "inexperience" gambit, says the article. Yes, sure, but he has already risked undercutting belief in his sanity if not his commitment to hire competent people rather than those who share his religious dogmas.

Let's hope our "paper of record" ends this honeymoon quickly and gets down to doing its job of giving us a clue as to what or whether McCain was thinking!

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Is Sarah Palin American enough?

By Creature

I don't know about you, but John McCain's new VP pick seems a bit exotic to me.

She's from a state not on the mainland (is Alaska even a real state?). She's got that funny accent (almost French if you ask me). Her husband has some sort of Eskimo blood in him (I bet they live in one of them igloos). And, how can we be sure, once she gets into power, that she won't ask for Eskimo reparations?

So tell me, who is this Sarah Palin other than a pretty face and an empty pantsuit? I'm sorry, but Sarah Palin is dangerous for America.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain’s own Dan Quayle

By J. Kingston Pierce

Presumptive Republican’t presidential candidate John “
100 Years War” McCain celebrates his 72nd birthday today by choosing as his running mate Sarah Palin, the 44-year-old first-term governor of Alaska. An unconventional choice, to be sure, but one that also smacks of desperation and pandering.

A developing meme this afternoon seems to be that McCain’s choice of Palin is a “stunt,” one that, as Matt Yglesias of The American Prospect
writes, “calls into question whether he really understands the nature of the job he’s running for.”

By all accounts, McCain doesn’t know Palin well. He didn’t even pick her as a surrogate for his campaign in Alaska. However, she’s respected (if not well known) by the GOP’s dominant right-wingers, is a longtime opponent of abortion rights, and has a son who’s preparing to be deployed to George W. Bush’s war on Iraq in the fall. What’s more,
Palin’s advocacy of more oil drilling in the United States would seem to bolster McCain’s amply disproven assurance to Americans that they can immediately drill their way out of high gasoline costs.

Choosing Palin is a political calculation, pure and simple. Having her on his ticket is meant to shore up McCain’s wobbly relationship with the Christian fundamentalists and narrow-minded moralists who have taken control of the Republican’t Party. Furthermore,
Senator Small may think that by selecting a woman as his running mate he can peel off some of those legendary disaffected Democratic women voters who, the media insist, remain upset that Hillary Clinton is not their standard bearer. But other better-known female GOP congresspeople (Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Olympia Snowe, etc.) must be furious to see McCain passing them over for a woman of so little experience; Palin has been governor of Alaska for only the last year and a half, and before that she was mayor of a tiny Alaska town most people have never even heard of. Women, in general, might be offended by the Arizona senator’s cynical belief that they will make decisions about presidential candidates based on their sex alone. But then, John McCain--notorious for calling his second wife a “cunt” and cheating on his first wife--doesn’t exactly model male respect for women.

All Republican’ts might be made uncomfortable by the fact that
Palin is already under investigation in Alaska for abuse of power. (The last thing GOPers want is to be tainted once again with the “culture of corruption” label that decimated their numbers in Congress two years ago.) And when asked recently what a vice president does all day, Palin didn’t even know. Another sign of her inexperience, if not also her lack of curiosity.

What’s more, choosing Palin presents McCain with a serious problem. Almost his entire argument against Democrat
Barack Obama becoming the 44th president has been that the Illinois senator is too young (at 47), with too little experience to lead the United States. What does it say about McCain’s judgment that he should now choose as his vice presidential candidate somebody who’s even younger than Obama, and can boast much less leadership experience? Compared with Palin, Obama looks like a veteran legislator. This becomes a significant issue because McCain, at 72, is the second-oldest person ever to run for a first term in the White House. (Only Bob Dole, who was 73 in 1996, surpassed him in age). Given McCain’s health problems, it’s not unreasonable to think that, were he elected to the presidency, he might die in office. So, what he’s telling the nation by choosing Palin is that he’s willing to leave it in the hands of somebody with no foreign policy credentials at all, and almost no government background, rather than allow the Oval Office keys to go to Obama--a guy who has the potential and intelligence to return the United States to economic solvency, restore its standing in the world, and rebuild the faith of voters in the presidency.

That’s irresponsible. That’s putting partisan politics above the welfare of the nation. Choosing Sarah Palin for his veep is McCain’s equivalent of George H.W. Bush tapping
Dan Quayle as his running mate in 1988. Quayle, you’ll recall, was also in his early 40s, with little experience. And just remember what a wonder he was.

If, as is so often said, choosing a running mate is the first test of a presidential candidate’s judgment, then McCain has clearly failed the test.

(Cross-posted at Limbo.)

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McCain chooses sacrificial lamb for VP

By Libby Spencer

(My first raw thoughts, that I pounded out in ten minutes this morning, while I process the incredible speech Obama gave last night and McCain's hijacking of the news cycle this morning.) We should be talking about Obama's speech but McCain deployed the GOP weapon of mass distraction and chose an incomprehensible VP.

Sarah Palin looks like a nice woman on the surface. Great populist story. Married 20 years today, five kids, wife of a fisherman who belongs to a union, son in the military. But she looks like a deer caught in the headlights.

This was obviously an 11th hour pander in search of PUMAs which she made very clear at the end of her acceptance speech. A little arrogant though if you ask me, for her to imply that she's going to be a pioneer by crashing through the glass ceiling after Hillary did all the work to crack it to the breaking point.

It would appear the choice was so last minute she wasn't even vetted. Cindy McCain looked surprised to hear it was Palin's anniversary today. And Palin called Cindy Mrs. McCain, another clue they have never even met.

McCain succeeded in his short term objective to steal the news cycle. The media are caught flatfooted, no one had ever heard of her before so they're obsessing about the surprise while the bloggers are already doing the oppo. Palin is anti-choice, supports teaching creationism in the schools instead of science, is involved in some kind of investigation surrounding an attempt by her to get a person fired for personal reasons. If I understand that one correctly, Palin is attempting to squash the investigation. I'm guessing she's cozy with Big Oil. Oh and she's on record as not wanting the VP nomination because she doesn't even know what a VP does.

I feel kind of sorry for her. She seems likeable enough for a quasi-fundie, but the air of sacrificial lamb around her is palpable. Her so called experience amounts to little more than being the mayor of a tiny town of 9000 residents, the president of the PTA and now a short stint as a new governor where she's already embroiled in an impending scandal. She's going to crash and burn when she has to answer any questions of substance.

Basically she's just more of the same old politics but with a prettier and younger face. I'm not sure the McCain camp really thought through the visual on this either. Seeing the two of them together, Palin makes McCain look like her great grandfather and even makes Cindy look older. After the novelty wears off, voters are going to be asking themselves if they want this untested young woman to be one heartbeat away from the presidency.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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McCain VP confusion; Staff had Canadian actress Sarah Polley in Dayton hotel for three days

By J. Thomas Duffy

Sources tell The Garlic today, that the staff of Senator John McCain was so confused over the choice of his Vice Presidential pick, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, that they had mistakenly flown award-winning Canadian actress Sarah Polley to Dayton, Ohio, and had her in a hotel for three-days, awaiting the planned announcement.

Polley was said to have been "very surprised" with being chosen by McCain, especially with her long time political activism, and that she is a member of the New Democratic Party in Canada.

Polly, an accomplished actress, had starred in such films as The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), and The Sweet Hereafter (1997).

Additionally, Polley was nominated for an Academy Award, in the category of Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, for the film, 'Away from Her (2006)'.

Sources say that the McCain staff had believed that "he was really going outside the box", with the choice of the Canadian Polley, and that action had been started to usher Polley through an expedited U.S. Citizenship process, so that she could appear on the ballot with McCain.

When asked by reporters on how such an error, such confusion occurred, a senior McCain staffer offered only that "The Senator as been a little prickly this week."

Polley was reported to have said that it was "nice to get a little vacation", and that she had never been to Dayton, Ohio before.

"I mean, I hung around a hotel room for three days, they had me under wraps," said Polley. "I thought, if I was going to be his Vice President, I should have been reading policy papers, and such."

Ironically, Polley had the same question as McCain's actual choice, Governor Palin, when she asked assembled reporters, "What, exactly, does a Vice President do?"

Bonus Sarah Palin Proxy Posts

Think Progress: McCain’s VP Choice Is Under Ethics Investigation For Abuse Of Power In Alaska


Attytood: It's Palin!

(Ed. Note: Will Bunch beat me to the punch on the Monty Python reference)

BooMan: On Sarah Palin

Is John McCain Buggering Little Boys?

Mas Que Nada ... McCain Goes Pow Pow Pow - Again! Or: Donate To John McCain, and Be Included In The Telling of His Next POW-POW-POW Story

The Bob Dole For The New Millennium

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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McCain and Palin on the TV

By Creature

The whole thing is kind of creepy, amateurish, and forced. Neither of them seem to be able to command a stage. Sorry, Republicans, but John McCain just laid a big fat egg. This choice is far from a game changer.

So much for his first executive decision.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)


For more, see our more extensive analysis below. And see Memorandum for more reaction. -- MJWS

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McCain picks Alaska's Gov. Sarah Palin

By Creature and MJWS

Certainly unconventional, but hasn't McCain just blown his experience argument out of the water? Does he really have time to introduce her to the country? Is this not the ultimate pander to the conservative base (not to mention Hillary voters)?

I say this pick will fall flat. It smacks of desperation.

-- Creature

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)


Unconventional, and surprising.

As I wrote recently, I think this a year (and perhaps an age) for big-name, national-celebrity politics. Look at who ran for both parties in the primaries. For the most part they were all big names: Hillary, Obama, Edwards, Biden, Richardson, McCain, Giuliani, Romney, Thompson, etc. Huckabee and perhaps Dodd were the major exceptions. Which is why I thought Obama would go with Biden or perhaps Bayh, not Kaine or Sebelius, and why I thought McCain would go with Romney or Giuliani, not Palin or Pawlenty or Jindal.

It is a time for seriousness, for that overused word gravitas. And hasn't McCain's entire campaign been built around gravitas and the contrast with Obama's youth and rawness? It's the experience, but experience full of gravitas, from the military to the Senate. It's the alleged character, but one that is allegedly serious. McCain's very argument for himself is that he is up to task of being president, that he can step right in and lead. Obama, true, doesn't have extensive experience, but he has obviously emerged over the past couple of years as a big-name, national-celebrity (in a good way) figure. And, of course, he has proven that he has both the judgement and many of the necessary skills to lead -- and he now has the full endorsement of the likes of Bill and Hillary, John Kerry, and Al Gore.

But what now of Palin? She pales in comparison to Biden. She was mayor of a small town, Wasilla, before winning the governorship in 2006. She is something of a reformer, yes, but her experience is minimal -- and certainly not national. So why her? To balance the ticket in terms of age and sex? Sure. To appeal to Hillary supporters, those still disaffected even after the convention? Sure. Because she's an outsider with no ties to Washington, and because she can make a "change" argument of her own? Sure. Because she knows a thing or two about energy? Sure. Because she's relatively attractive? Sure.

But so what? Does anyone really think she's ready -- with just two years in Juneau -- for the national stage, let alone to step up and be president, if necessary? It's like she's another Dan Quayle (or Geraldine Ferraro) -- less awkward, perhaps, but with even less experience. Obama, Biden, and the Democrats will have to be careful not to seem condescending -- Biden in particular when they debate -- but what she brings to the ticket is outweighed overwhelmingly by what she lacks.

Creature is right: This destroys McCain's experience argument. But it also destroys his gravitas argument. Sure, it'll be pointed out that he's the presidential candidate, not her, but she's on the ticket now as his first "presidential" decision, and, if they win elected, she'll be right there, next in line for the top job.

With all due respect to Gov. Palin, this is a terrible and pathetic pick. (Which gives us reason to rejoice.)


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This is the Week!

By Carol Gee

Update for The Reaction -- Memeorandum reports that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is McCain's VP pick: source.

The mornings after the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week, I was often struck speechless. The DNC was so very big, bold and beautiful along the way. Fast paced, and yet somehow at ease, the convention moved towards the last day with ascending excitement. Media coverage of the week was available to cable and satellite TV viewers in pundit-driven or gavel to gavel style. By Thursday's the DNC had visited almost everything. The convention's conclusion did not begin until afternoon.

FRIDAY MORNING, everyone agrees the DNC was unprecedented in several respects. Barack Obama is the first African American candidate to be nominated by a major party to run for President. His acceptance speech audience was the largest ever. His candidacy was the most high-tech in history. And the United States is in a brand a new kind of governance crisis. The USA is embroiled in two very high cost (in people and money) wars. Polarized politically, in economic recession, its citizens have been routinely victimized by an out of control, inept, constitution-shredding administration. An unprecedented level of problems faces the nation; that is the reason the Democrats are willing to leave the venue mostly united. They and the whole country know what is at stake.

Is it any wonder that the "Change We Need" campaign of (dare I say it?) destiny's Obama was eventually so welcomed by Democrats? The other reason for Democratic party unity is Barack Obama himself. His skill as a the leader of his own campaign became more apparent as the week progressed. The stadium setting was the story for a while. And it was seized upon by nay-sayers as "over the top." A full stadium of flag-waving, enthusiastic people, who came early and in large numbers, affirmed the planners' decision, in my opinion. A text message exercise in voter recruitment energized a huge starry map showing supporters. Lots of good video filled in the gaps, along with food and funny hats, statement t-shirts, and Diverse Dems dancing in place. The audience was entertained by good music that seemed just right, much of it with a a modern folk feel. Stevie Wonder and Sheryl Crow sang. Republicans and Independents testified to their support. Obama's best political friends, including his mentor, Senator Dick Durbin, gave little speeches. And a set of "just folks" told us through vignettes why they had to support Obama. In contrast, a stage-filling group of military leaders and generals marched out in a line to support the candidate, some of whom had previously retired in protest against the Bush administration. Vice-President Gore did 'his thing" with sincerity and skill.

This is the week that culminated last night in Senator Obama's acceptance speech. By most accounts it was perhaps his best speech ever-- it was dynamite. At once biographical, inspirational and confrontational, it was also policy specific. It was a magnificent blue print for the next couple of months of this 2008 presidential campaign. I cannot wait for it to unfold. Unwilling to post yesterday, because I wanted to just enjoy the moments, I went back to my occasional years-ago choice of "being on vacation without my camera." The blogosphere took appropriate notice, however, as links to the other blogs where I post show. This is the rest of the week as reflected in my earlier notes:

THURSDAY MORNING, Wednesday was historic -- Senator Barack Obama was nominated by the Democrats to run for President. In a stroke of genius, Senator Joseph Biden was nominated for Vice-President. Speeches by Former President Clinton, Senator John Kerry, and Veep-to-be Senator Joe Biden were all outstanding. Many of us were relieved by Bill Clinton's endorsement. Wednesday night's theme was national security. Morning-after reflections gave the Democrats high marks for the way the theme was handled during the third night of this historic week. Bloggers gave the mainstream media less than high marks for the coverage. Because of the difficulty of Surviving the DNC on cable, too many viewers missed the best speech of the evening given by John Kerry.

WEDNESDAY MORNING, Democratic National Convention -- Tuesday night was all Hillary Clinton's, though she was not the official keynoter. The keynote speaking task fell to Governor Mark Warner, who was lack luster, by many of the next morning's accounts. To me, it was probably one of her best to date. A few questioned whether Clinton's endorsement of Obama was strong enough, but most bestowed qualified approval of her speech. Scott Paul, for instance at The Washington Note, gave: "A (Potentially Premature) Defense of Clinton." To quote:

I had two immediate reactions to Clinton's speech. First, purely from the perspective of speechcraft and delivery, I've never seen her deliver a better one. Second, she said very few positive things about Barack Obama or his candidacy. She talked at great lengths about the need to support Obama given the state of the country, the challenges we face, the alternative of John McCain, and the importance of Democratic Party unity. But aside from one line of praise for the grassroots oriented, bottom-up nature of Obama's campaign, she had precious little to say about the appeal of the candidate himself.

TUESDAY MORNING, Dateline: Democrats -- Michelle Obama was a big hit with all of us who listened to her speech Monday night (8/26/o8). She was both highly "professional," as well as very personal. On the morning after, this was a typical story: "Michelle keeps things down to earth." It was penned by Roger Simon at It refers to Michelle's narrative about Barack, the brand new father, driving his little family home from the hospital at a snail's pace. To quote:

. . . She was describing a simple moment, a real moment, an emotional moment and one that made only one point: Barack Obama is a human being just like you. He is not an other, he is not a celebrity. He is a father, a husband, a person.

And so, indeed, was Senator Ted Kennedy awesome, according to David Rogers at (8/26/08). Most every listener was rooting for his success. In a way, he "had us with hello." The headline hinted at how we all still felt the next morning: "Ailing Kennedy: 'The dream lives on.'" To quote:

Most people have to fight a whole Civil War before getting a Ken Burns documentary. Not Teddy Kennedy, who staged a triumphant appearance before the Democratic National Convention Monday night complete with a Burns-crafted tribute casting him as the modern Ulysses bringing his party home to port.

Weakened by cancer, the Massachusetts senator first let the pictures do his talking but then rocked the Denver hall with an appeal for healthcare reform and party unity that brought him full circle from his famous the dream shall never die speech in New York 28 years ago.

This is also the week that Senator McCain was to have announced the identity of his running mate. I am not waiting to conclude this piece with that information. I want to savor the week before being forced to move on before I am ready. But, of course I will move on -- to Minneapolis. I predict that I will be able to post much more because I will not be savoring all those Republican moments. I give them back to the next participants in this wonderful democratic process.

ADDENDUM -- References From Tom Head, who writes about civil liberties for

  1. Obama vs. McCain (on civil liberties issue differences)

  2. Joe Biden on Civil Liberties

  3. Joe Biden's Middle East Policy

  4. Civil Liberties and November 2008 Ballot Initiatives

  5. If You Make a Mistake While Voting

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Veepstakes: Probably Romney (updated)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

UPDATE: Well, I was way wrong. It looks like it's Palin. Quite the surprise. (See Creature's post above.)


As I've been predicting for some time -- and, hey, I was right about Biden -- it looks as though McCain will tap Romney to be his running mate. (And if it is, it'll be fun to go back over all that McCain-Romney tension/dislike during the primaries. Biden's comments about Obama not being ready were nothing compared to that.)

Romney is scheduled to be in Dayton, Ohio today, where "two senior McCain campaign officials confirm that John McCain will appear with his vice presidential pick," likely at around noon. There has been quite a bit of speculation recently surrounding Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, with reports that she was on her way to Dayton, but it seems that she is still in Alaska. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, another leading contender, won't be in Dayton either, saying it's "a fair assumption" it's not him. (And it won't be Huckabee, who has told supporters that he has "never been contacted by the McCain campaign at any point about the VP slot.")

There are still other contenders -- Ridge, Lieberman, Portman, Cantor, even Giuliani (my wildcard) -- but the recent Secret Service security sweep of Romney's sister's house would seem to be yet another indication that Romney's the pick. (Unless we're all reading too much into that.)

(Note: It probably won't be an outsider like Lieberman or an unconventional Republican like Giuliani or a pro-choicer like Ridge or a relative unknown like Palin or Cantor. Reports suggest that the pick will be a traditional one, likely either Romney or Pawlenty.)

And yet, Fox News today is playing up the Palin-to-Dayton story and claiming that Romney and Pawlenty are "out of the running."

So who knows?

Well, we'll know soon enough. The announcement should come in just over an hour.

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The speech

By Creature

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's on!

By Creature

"So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first." -- Democratic nominee for president of the United States, Barack Obama.

Barack Obama's speech tonight was a point-by-point answer to every criticism leveled against him for the last few months. John McCain won't be happy after this speech, but I certainly am. Simply amazing.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Obama and America

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Update (post-speech): And... wow. What a speech. Obama has given so many incredible speeches throughout the campaign, notably back during the primaries, but this one stood with the best of them -- and, given the setting, rose above them with a grandeur that surpassed even the lofty expectations going in. David Gergen just called it a "symphony," a "masterpiece," and I agree completely. Obama told his story, and talked about change, but he also took the fight to McCain and was extremely effective in drawing the key distinctions, in defining McCain, and in developing a new narrative for the race to come. And the ending, which drew on Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech from 45 years ago today, was deeply moving and profoundly inspiring.

It is time for change. It is time for Obama.

(Full transcript here.)


Biden just made a brief speech at Invesco Field. What an incredible setting. Forget all the ridiculous Republican sniping today. It's not a temple, and we're not bowing down before anyone. This is about Obama, and about the Democratic Party, but it is also about the future of America, a country I once called home and that, despite some misgivings now and then, still love a great deal.

Indeed, it is because I love America so much, because of my American ancestry (I am one-quarter American, to be precise), because of my deep and profound connections to the country, that I call myself a Democrat and pay such close attention to American politics (and write this blog) even though I am a proud Canadian and now live in Canada.


And it is because of my love for America that I support Obama.

And tonight... tonight is about America, about a new America.

We are indeed witnessing history. And what a privilege it is.

Let us savour it, and let us move forward with confidence and determination, with a sense of purpose but also with humility. There is much to be done.

Tonight is Obama's time and the Democrats' time, but is also America's time, the people's time.

And America needs Obama in the White House, just like the rest of the world does.


Al Gore from earlier this evening: "[L]et us leave here tonight and take the message of hope from Denver to every corner of our land and do everything we can to serve our nation, our world -- and most importantly, our children and their future -- by electing Barack Obama President of the United States."

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Yes we can

By Creature

We are all privileged tonight to be a witness to history.

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"The choice is clear, our cause is just." -- Kerry on Obama

By Michael J.W. Stickings

This is obviously a big night at the Democratic Convention -- both Gore and Obama are speaking -- but make sure, if you haven't already (or, if you have, do so again), to watch Kerry's speech from last night. Sandwiched between Bill and Joe, it didn't get much attention, but it's Kerry at his finest, the Kerry it should have been four years ago. He makes a compelling case for Obama, but it is his critique of McCain ("the myth of a maverick"), his juxtaposition of Senator McCain and Candidate McCain, that is the most effective part of his speech.

We need more of this, more of a sustained attack on McCain and the Republicans, more of an effort on the part of the Obama campaign, as well as the Democratic Party more broadly, to define the opposition and to create a compelling narrative to dominate the remainder of the race. Clinton and Biden did extremely well last night, as (I suppose) did Hillary the night before, as did Michelle and Kennedy the night before. But let's not overlook John Kerry. He may not have run the most impressive campaign four years ago, but he remains a good, decent, and, as he proved again last night, incredibly impressive man. And I was reminded, once more, of why I admire and respect him so much.

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Obama at Mile High

By Michael J.W. Stickings

"Dems nervous about Invesco risks," claims the rightist Politico, but, as Creature put it earlier today, this is just another Republican talking point. Some Democrats may be internalizing it -- Democrats are awfully good at that, letting the Republicans control the narrative -- but, from what I can tell, it's Republicans are are making way too much ado about Obama's Mile High appearance tonight, not Democrats.

My own concern, which I expressed last month, is that the sheer spectacle of it all might just be too much:

[A]t what point, if at all, are people turned off by this? Put another way, will there be any pushback against Obama for giving his speech at such a large venue. Even if the spectacle is awesome, even if the 75,000 in attendance are really into it, will it drive a wedge between Obama and the audience watching the spectacle on television? Will it increase the distance between Obama and the voters? Will it create (or enhance) the perception that Obama is an elitist who is simply too detached from, and hence out-of-touch with, mythical Main Street America? After all, McCain may be a terrible orator, but at least most people can relate to an old guy who doesn't speak so well in public. Few of us can relate to a rock star.

I'm not overly concerned, but I think Obama needs to counterbalance the grand spectacle by giving a speech that is not just soaring and inspiring, a message of hope and change, an appeal to the best of America, but grounded in the very real problems facing America and the world, a speech that keeps it real, so to speak, one that allows him to remain approachable, one of us, human.

Again, though, most of the hot air is coming from the right, some of it through the right's mouthpieces in the media, ever willing to play along. This includes both The New York Times, which focuses on the riskiness of it all, as if it may not be such a good idea, what with Democrats quaking in their boots, and the rightist New York Post, which spews nonsense like this: "Democrats will kneel before the 'Temple of Obama' tonight."

Yes, it's a rather bold move on Obama's part, but I suspect that a good deal of fear lies behind all the Republican sniping (much of it directed at the "enormous, Greek-columned stage," as the Post puts it), fear of Obama's huge following and appeal, fear of the symbolism of Obama at Mile High.

Obama is a new leader for a new time set to give an acceptance speech at an enormous venue to an enormous audience. If I were a Republican, I'd be scared, too.

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Horserace horse laughs

By Libby Spencer

Quick links to amusing stories of the day. It seems they can't give them away for free. Tickets are still available for McCain's big VP roll out rally tomorrow in Dayton, Ohio. I'd love to know how many are left. They don't say but if they're issuing an open call, I have to think it's a lot.

Maybe that's because even the dullest GOP loyalists realize that the Straight Talk Express has morphed into the GOP Talking Points Express, or as I like to call it, the Double Talk Shuttle. Short but funny interview with McCain at the link.

And this is quite possibly the funniest convention story I've read yet from the resident bloggers. I'm surprised Harry told it.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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A mile high irrational worry

By Creature

Democrats must stop internalizing GOP talking points. Now they are hand-wringing over Obama's choice to speak at Mile High. No, fuck that. Obama's strength is speaking to the big crowd. His strength is in the movement. His strength is in the people. His strength is in the enthusiasm. John McCain and Karl Rove want to take this historic moment away by making us doubt. By making us worry that maybe their celebrity charge has teeth. It does not and I for one will not let them rain on this parade. Enough.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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"Barack Obama is the man for this job."

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I'm with Creature. It's been a powerful and effective Convention so far, and I feel inspired again. Hillary calling on the delegates to nominate Obama by acclamation yesterday was a high point, but the speeches have mostly been excellent, too.

I don't have much to add tonight at this late hour.

Suffice it to say that the momentum is building, from Michelle on Monday to Hillary on Tuesday to Bill and Joe last night, culminating with Obama's appearance (and brief remarks) on stage with Biden. There appears to be genuine excitement among Democrats, now united, the Obama-Clinton rift overcome. I thought Bill's speech was outstanding. He made the case for Obama, declaring that he is in fact ready to be president, and no one else could have done it better. Kerry was solid, too, if less rousing, and Biden, who started slowly and, I thought, tentatively, did what he had to do, presenting his personal story with emotional intimacy, going after his "friend" McCain with effective resolve, and making the case for Obama with impassioned confidence.

And tomorrow -- or, rather, later today -- it's time for Obama at Mile High.

It is all so much political theater, but what political theater it has been.


Here, below, is Bill Clinton's speech from last night, via C-SPAN's excellent Convention Hub:

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Democratic convention day III

By Creature

I know there are naysayers out there that don't "feel" the power of this convention, but from Michelle, to Hillary, to Bill, and Biden this convention has power. It's all working for me, but I'm easy.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Waiting for Bill

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Waiting... waiting... waiting...

I expect Bill Clinton to give a rousing speech tonight, one that expresses genuine support for Obama. At the very least, he will say the right things, much like Hillary did last night, and he may just make the strong case for Obama that Hillary didn't, at least not in any personal way. What we need to hear from Bill is that Obama is ready for the job. I know he is, as do many others, but there lingering doubts played up in the media, and McCain will go after Obama's lack of experience throughout the campaign, as he has already. Of course, Obama needs to continue to make the case for himself, and more strongly than he has thus far, but Bill's full endorsement would go a long way towards changing the narrative in Obama's favour.

With Obama nominated by acclamation, and with Hillary putting him over the top, it is time for Bill to do the right thing, whatever the lingering tensions and doubts.

Meanwhile, I feel a bit like Vladimir and Estragon.


9:02 pm - And here he is... along with a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop." It's 1992 all over again!

I'm not going to live-blog his speech. I'll be back later with some reflections.

9:10 pm - Okay, a quick comment or two. There, truly in no uncertain terms, Bill has expressed his support for Obama and encouraged all of those who voted for Hillary to vote for Obama in November.

And now he's making the strong personal case for Obama, the one Hillary didn't (or couldn't) make last night, the case the Obama is "ready to lead America and restore America's leadership in the world."

9:13 pm - "Barack Obama is ready to be president of the United States." Huge. And exactly what needed to be said, and said by the person most qualified to say it.

And he's effectively connecting Obama to specific domestic and foreign policies. President Obama will...

My respect and admiration for Bill Clinton are skyrocketing tonight.

9:19 pm - "Yes, he can, but first we have to elect him." Great, great line. And seemingly a spontaneous one.

Okay, I'll be back later.

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By Creature

"With eyes firmly fixed on the future, and in the spirit of unity with the goal of victory. With faith in our party and our country, let's declare together with one voice right here, right now that Barack Obama is our candidate and he will be our president."
-- Senator Hillary Clinton puts Obama over the top.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Any questions?

By Carl

There. I hope the Obombers choke on their bile and swallow an huge helping of crow...

In a fiery call to arms last night, Hillary Clinton tried to clear up the one thing that hadn't been clear before: Her level of enthusiasm for making Barack Obama president.

In past speeches, she has offered sincere endorsements of Obama, but then gone on to extol the accomplishments of her own campaign. This time, perhaps sensing a greater urgency, she offered repeated appeals on Obama's behalf.

"I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me?" she asked, in what seemed like a question directed at the roughly 30 percent of her supporters who are resisting Obama, according to polls. "Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?"

She linked the historic moment of her campaign, the first by a women to make a serious run at the nomination of a major political party, to the other historic moment that won out, the mealymouthed whining of a bunch of progressives who hate her and, taking great pride in their misogyny, backed a man whose character has shown that he will struggle in the general election, making what should have been a Democratic, any Democrat, coronation into a horse race.
She even tore a rhetorical page out of Obama's playbook and took great pains to praise John McCain, just before launching into the most vicious attack on McCain during the convention. Now we know part of the deal struck between the two candidates.
Pundits will spin this speech a million different ways, and find nuances in phrasing and applause lines. The simple truth is, Senator Clinton looked her constituency right in the eye and in plain terms told them they need to vote for Obama for President.
And that cannot be spun in any other fashion by any rabid nutcase lefty who still believes the Clintons are only out for themselves.
Now...let's go kick the wheelchair out from under that old guy from Arizona!

(crossposted to
Simply Left Behind)

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Rachel Maddow gets it

By Creature

Here she is on the format of her new show:

Unlike Olbermann, Maddow plans to interview some conservative guests. But she is determined to avoid the left-right pairings that sustain much of cable news.

"It creates fake balance," she says. "I'm sorry -- we're going to have a debate about whether or not the Earth is flat? It doesn't make sense to have a debate about whether offshore drilling is going to bring down gas prices. You know what? It's not. The fact that it's false ought to be reported, or you're advancing a lie."

Hopefully some of Rachel will rub off on her colleagues.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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After Hillary

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I continue to go back and forth on Hillary's speech last night. It was, on the whole, rather impressive. As I put it last night, she did what she needed to do for Obama, for the Democratic Party, and, perhaps first and foremost, for herself and her political future. Regarding that last point, I didn't care for all the self-promotion, but, of course, self-promotion is what her more ardent supporters wanted. They still think she deserves the nomination, after all, and, watching and listening to Hillary last night, it's pretty clear she thinks she does, too.

One notable exception I take to Hillary's speech is that while she praised Biden and even McCain personally, she said nothing about Obama other than to express her support for him in the election and to encourage Democrats, all Democrats, including her more ardent supporters, to vote for him. She may still not think she's qualified for the presidency, but a few words about his leadership and other qualities would have been nice. All I can remember is a line about building change from the bottom, not from the top, but applying it generally, not just to Obama.

Like others, I am hopeful that perhaps, just perhaps, the task of praising Obama personally, and of asserting that he is indeed qualified for the presidency, ready for the job, has fallen to Bill, who speaks tonight. Hillary may not have been able to do so, given her past criticisms of Obama on the experience and readiness fronts, but Bill could, and his support would be especially meaningful given his rather objectionable performance, if I may put it kindly, during the primaries and his seemingly lingering bitterness. Tonight may be about national security -- with both Bill and Biden speaking -- but it is also about building up Obama for tomorrow.


Regarding Hillary's apparent lack of enthusiasm last night for Obama personally, John Dickerson provides some useful historical context:

Tuesday night, the Democrats celebrated Ted Kennedy. He was in Clinton's shoes in 1980, after his hard-fought battle with Jimmy Carter. When he gave his convention speech, he mentioned Jimmy Carter once, congratulating him only in passing. Ronald Reagan never mentioned Gerald Ford in 1976. Hillary Clinton named Barack Obama more than a dozen times. Kennedy's famous speech declared that the dream will never die. Clinton's pitch was that the dream cannot live without electing Barack Obama.

There is a stark divide between Obama and the Clintons, but, as usual, the media -- eager for a story, eager for sensationalism, eager to fill up their preconceived narrative -- are making much more of it than there actually is.


For positive reviews of Hillary's speech from a couple of commentators I like a great deal, see Jonathan Cohn and Jonathan Chait.

And, yes, it was an extremely effective speech in many ways. I grant it that.


So what to do with Hillary now? Obviously, she needs to be out there campaigning for Obama. But what role is best for her? Michelle Cottle thinks it should be not cheerleader or character witness, for both of which she is ill-suited, but attack dog:

[I]n the coming weeks, the Obama people would be wise to use Hillary as a key attack dog against McCain and the GOP. Obama is the leader of hope and unity and change and promise. He cannot afford to be too angry or too negative. But Hillary... Hillary has always been a polarizer. She is angry. She is a brawler. She is a grudge-holder. She has issues. Most particularly, she knows what it's like to be slapped around by Republicans better than anyone in this country, and, whatever bipartisan strides she has made in her senate years, she still has the taste for Republican blood. You can see it in those bulging blue eyes.

Better still, playing the attack dog would lessen the need for Hillary to fake enthusiasm for Obama. All her anger and resentment and disappointment of the past 20 months -- hell, the last 20 years -- could be channeled into gutting McCain like a trout. People expect Hillary to rage against the Republican machine. For years, she has been their whipping girl, just as for years she has stood as a symbol of perseverence and strength for many Democrats -- especially women. Instead of having her run around trying to sunnily convince women or working-class whites of what a swell guy her former opponent is, Obama's people should just wind her up, point her in the direction of these constituencies, and let her rip John McCain and his whole lousy party a new one. It would be honest. It would be real. For Obama, it would be useful. For Hillary, it might even be a little cathartic. Everybody wins! Except McCain. Which is the whole point, right?

It is indeed. Lest we forget.

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