Sunday, August 31, 2008
"Another week, another Frank Luntz/AARP focus group of undecided voters--this one in Minneapolis and with some bad news for John McCain: they don't like the choice of Sarah Palin for vice president. Only one person said Palin made him more likely to vote for McCain; about half the 25-member group raised their hands when asked if Palin made them less likely to vote for McCain. They had a negative impression of Palin by a 2-1 margin...."Will Palin's numbers rise as people get to know her better? My guess is 'no'.
I spent the afternoon at The Museum of Modern Art which is without a doubt my favorite art museum. Lots of art museums have far larger collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but none give me more pleasure painting for painting, photo for photo.
I don't claim to know much at all about art, but I know what I like, and I like the modern works of Picasso, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Seurat, Chagall and especially Jackson Pollock, whose painting "She Wolf" is pictured here and on display at MoMA.
And in 2 or 3 hours you can see most of MoMAs impressive collection.
Going to dinner and will be hanging out in the East Village tonight. Luzzo's is supposed to have the best pizza in the city or so a couple locals have told me. I'm going to find out.
I went to the Gotham Comedy Club last night and the bar tender - a life long New Yorker - told me the best food is in the East Village and he was nice enough to give me several recommendations. So the East Village it is tonight.
Here is the ADN story today on troopergate.
Simply put, Palin's behavior shows very poor judgment and extremely immature leadership. What kind of person upon taking office as governor immediately starts using her official power to take revenge on her sister's ex-husband?
After reading Josh's primer, it's hard to imagine this ending in a favorable way for Gov Palin -- not so much criminal jeopardy but more like a major embarrassment to Palin personally and the McCain campaign on the eve of the election.
McCain has picked a nut at his running mate.
According to fresh data from Rasmussen Reports, Sarah Palin's selection is a mixed bag. Voters have a favorable impression of her by a 53/26 margin; however, by a 29/44 margin, they do not believe that she is ready to be President. Needless to say, the PR battle over the next couple of weeks will involve the McCain campaign playing up her biography, and the Obama campaign playing down her readiness....And it's hard to imagine these numbers getting better for Palin has people get to know her better.
...there is a gender gap in these numbers...along a variety of metrics, men like the Palin choice better than women [data here]
And as the ADN's Tom Kizzia say's today,Palin was for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it.
The Alaska governor campaigned in 2006 on a build-the-bridge platform, telling Ketchikan residents she felt their pain when politicians called them "nowhere." They're still feeling pain today in Ketchikan, over Palin's subsequent decision to use the bridge funds for other projects -- and over the timing of her announcement, which they say came in a pre-dawn press release that seemed aimed at national news deadlines.
Again, not the coverage the campaign was looking for.
The lead story today on the Anchorage Daily News is their Governor's trooper gate.
On the editoral page, they have this to say,
Stunned because a woman from such ordinary circumstances -- a self-professed hockey mom from a small Alaska town -- is running for vice-president....The Sunday Fairbanks Daily News-Miner was a little more direct,
Alaskans are delighted because the eyes of the world will be on Alaska as Sarah Palin campaigns for the vice-presidency....
Her inexperience won't necessarily sink the Republican ticket. George Bush the elder picked an obscure, young Indiana U.S. senator named Dan Quayle and managed to win the presidency, despite questions about his judgment in selecting a lightweight as his running mate. In this case, McCain's selection at least has the benefit of bringing gender diversity to the Republican ticket....
Gov. Palin will have to spend the next two months convincing Americans that she's ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. She got off to a good start on that score, with a well-executed speech Friday accepting McCain's offer. With her family story, talk of her political independence and graceful acknowledgment of Hillary Clinton's historic candidacy, she projected a likable, competent image..
Sarah Palin’s chief qualification for being elected governor of Alaska was that she was not Frank Murkowski...
Sen. John McCain's selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate was a stunning decision that should make Alaskans proud, even while we wonder about the actual merits of the choice.... Alaskans and Americans must ask, though, whether she should become vice president and, more importantly, be placed first in line to become president.
In fact, as the governor herself acknowledged in her acceptance speech, she never set out to be involved in public affairs. She has never publicly demonstrated the kind of interest, much less expertise, in federal issues and foreign affairs that should mark a candidate for the second-highest office in the land. Republicans rightfully have criticized the Democratic nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, for his lack of experience, but Palin is a neophyte in comparison; how will Republicans reconcile the criticism of Obama with the obligatory cheering for Palin?
Most people would acknowledge that, regardless of her charm and good intentions, Palin is not ready for the top job. McCain seems to have put his political interests ahead of the nation's when he created the possibility that she might fill it.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Scholars question Palin credentials
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.
So unconventional was McCain’s choice that it left students of the presidency literally “stunned,” in the words of Joel Goldstein, a St. Louis University law professor and scholar of the vice presidency. “Being governor of a small state for less than two years is not consistent with the normal criteria for determining who’s of presidential caliber,” said Goldstein.
“I think she is the most inexperienced person on a major party ticket in modern history,” said presidential historian Matthew Dallek.
The risks of a backlash from choosing someone so unknown and so untested are obvious. In one swift stroke, McCain demolished what had been one of his main arguments against Obama.Indeed.
“I think we’re going to have to examine our tag line, ‘dangerously inexperienced,’” a top McCain official said wryly.
The larger article of John's at Politico is worth a read -- The Palin pick says 6 things about the McCain campaign:
1. He's desperate. "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 like Indiana and Montana the GOP usually wins pretty easily in presidential races." [As an aside, it struck me yesterday that the choice of Palin indicates that the campaigns internal polling is not looking good.]
2. He’s willing to gamble — bigtime. "Let’s face it: This is not the pick of a self-confident candidate. It is the political equivalent of a trick play or, as some Democrats called it, a Hail Mary pass in football. McCain talks incessantly about experience, and then goes and selects a woman he hardly knows, who hardly knows foreign policy and who can hardly be seen as instantly ready for the presidency."
3. He’s worried about the political implications of his age. "Like a driver overcorrecting out of a swerve, he chooses someone who is two years younger than the youthful Obama,..."
4. He’s not worried about the actuarial implications of his age.
5. He’s worried about his conservative base. "If he had room to maneuver, there were lots of people McCain could have selected who would have represented a break from Washington politics as usual. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman comes to mind... He had no such room. GOP stalwarts were furious over trial balloons about the possibility of choosing a supporter of abortion rights,...."
6. At the end of the day, McCain is still McCain. "People may find him a refreshing maverick, or an erratic egotist. In either event, he marches to his own beat."
“She’s 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,” said Charlie Black, one of Mr. McCain’s top advisers,...What I want to know is who are the dissenting doctors and when do we hear from them!
I love the way they acknowledge that Palin is totally unqualified for the job but enjoy a good punchline.
But is this even possible? The Twin Cities are a popular convention/trade show destination and others may have the venue booked. Would the RNC have to tear down and rebuild to accommodate another event?
And the venue is the easy part. What about the tens of thousands of hotel rooms booked for next week, many of which are already occupied by convention attendees? It takes a year or more of planning for an event this size and it's not just moved on a whim.
I'm skeptical that there is really any plan to postpone and reporters should be asking more detailed questions starting with whether anyone has actually investigated venue and housing issues.
Republican strategist Karl Rove said on Face The Nation Sunday that he expects presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama to choose a running mate based on political calculations, not the person's readiness for the job.How ironic. So who will be asking Karl the obvious follow-up questions?
"I think he's going to make an intensely political choice, not a governing choice," Rove said. "He's going to view this through the prism of a candidate, not through the prism of president; that is to say, he's going to pick somebody that he thinks will on the margin help him in a state like Indiana or Missouri or Virginia. He's not going to be thinking big and broad about the responsibilities of president."
Rove singled out Virginia governor Tim Kaine, also a Face The Nation guest, as an example of such a pick.
"With all due respect again to Governor Kaine, he's been a governor for three years, he's been able but undistinguished," Rove said. "I don't think people could really name a big, important thing that he's done. He was mayor of the 105th largest city in America."
Rove continued: "So if he were to pick Governor Kaine, it would be an intensely political choice where he said, `You know what? I'm really not, first and foremost, concerned with, is this person capable of being president of the United States? What I'm concerned about is, can he bring me the electoral votes of the state of Virginia, the 13 electoral votes in Virginia?'"
Judging from the reaction to Biden, by the way, I'm convinced that this is exactly what the McCain campaign expected -- a Kaine or Sebelius -- who they would attack as unqualified. The Biden pick really knocked them off their game and they have yet to recover.
Friday, August 29, 2008
....It's a wild gamble, undertaken by our oldest ever first-time candidate for president in hopes of changing the board of this election campaign. Maybe it will work. But maybe (and at least as likely) it will reinforce a theme that I'd be pounding home if I were the Obama campaign: that it's John McCain for all his white hair who represents the risky choice, while it is Barack Obama who offers cautious, steady, predictable governance
Josh's response would be perfect,
Just as John McCain bought his ad time for right after Obama's speech last night, they should get their own for right after Palin.Perfect, but my guess is that it won't happen.
And here's the ad: A one-minute spot featuring Hillary Clinton herself, talking to the camera and laying into Palin on the issues, her complete lack of qualifications, and the temerity of the McCain campaign to think they could get away with this. Then she urges anyone watching who might have supported her to get out there and support Barack Obama.
Then it closes simply with Obama walking on to the set to shake Hillary's hand: "I'm Barack Obama, and I approved this message."
One more thing: this was a bit of a F-U pick, a personal, totally idiosyncratic, gut-level, aggressive piece of opportunism. Yes he can! And yes, it does underline his maverick, out-of-the-box brand. It makes me like his empathy for gutsy young women, even former beauty queens (is there footage of her contest out there?). But it also makes me less comfortable with the idea of him as commander in chief. It seems a less steady choice than Biden.It's clearly not a 'steady choice' but I'm not sure sure it's even McCain's choice. He apparently only met Palin in the last week or so. I think McCain's FU pick would have been Lieberman or Ridge. I think this is a panic pick McCain was talked into by cynical aides who think such a trick will draw in Hillary voters,... despite her very anti-abortion views.
My go-to laugh line this week was, "If McCain chooses Romney, I don't know what I'm going to do with this last little shred of respect I have for him."
I think this is a marginally good sign for those who worried that Karl Rove is actually running the campaign... and a bad sign for those wish he were.
McCain is 72 years old suffers from melanoma.
I'm too partisan to to see these things clearly but isn't this a panic pic? And why would they be panicked. Sure McCain is the underdog but he has a real shot of winning, or he did.
"The key criteria" as McCain has said repeatedly is that he would pick the person most capable of taking his place and so he choose the mayor of Willisa who became the governor of Alaska a year ago January?
I just need to accept the fact that I don't like these old hotels- I don't like the Drake or the Palmer House or the Chicago (Conrad) Hilton and I don't like the Waldorf. I like modern and new.
Sent from my iPhone
The latest is the Gov of Alaska, Sarah Palin, who has 18 months of experience if you don't count her time as mayor of Wasilla, population 8400.
Are we to believe Palin would be chosen as the person to be 'one heartbeat away' from the oldest elected president in history?
Chuck Todd has just reported that Romney will NOT be in Dayton, and Fox is reporting Pawlenty is out?
Joe Scarbourgh has just made the point that Palin would an insulting and condescending pick to women, and he compared it to Harriet Meirs for Supreme Court.
We shall soon see. I will be out so someone email my gmail or text me when the pick is made.
Turns out 'Grand New Party' author Ross Douthat is having the same problem,
When I think of the veep pick purely in terms of the party I'd like to see the Republicans become, I suppose I'd be happiest with Tim Pawlenty or Eric Cantor, both of whom seem much more in sync with the broad thesis of Grand New Party than your average Republican pol, even if neither of them are running around screaming about wage subsidies or the weighted-student formula. So out of the options on the table, I guess I'm pulling for one of them. But from a purely political point of view, I think McCain could use a pick that sparks more media excitement than either Pawlenty or Cantor probably would; I'm just at a loss to come up with someone who fits that bill and passes my own ideological litmus tests.It just seems to me that Pawlenty is the safe choice.
I had mentioned earlier that Pawlenty would have a hard time debating Biden, but Pawlenty is not a putz and there won't be any 'you're no John Kennedy' moment -- and lets remember, Quayle may have badly lost that battle, but he and Poppy Bush won that election.
Looking at the ads I posted earlier this week, how does McCain pick Romney? And yet, Marc Ambider reports that Romney will be in Ohio tomorrow.
Was very workmanlike, but also very good. Obama hit the points he needed to hit very well and rebutted the arguments Republicans have used against him. And gave a flawless delivery -- which was particularly important given the extremely high profile nature of the event.
I thought he especially handled the commander in chief issue well.
Wow, what a scene and what an event.
I'd hate to follow this, and I've read that McCain's speech will be about 20 minutes because that's all he can handle.
Win or lose, this campaign is going to be fun.
Joe Lieberman. We saw what a lethargic, uninspired veep candidate he was in 2000 and he hasn't exactly picked up speed with age. His Joementum has pretty much come to a dead halt. Together on stage, he and McCain would look like a gay Metamucil ad....
Tim Pawlenty. Who, what? Didn't he just barely squeak by in his last election in Minnesota? He seems to me the Republican counterpart to Mark Warner, one of those talked-about phenoms who light passes through at the first major exposure (Warner's keynote, what a snore). Yes, he would bring a youthful note to the ticket, but you can't fill a vacancy with a vacancy.
Eric Cantor. Even more of a nobody than Pawlenty and a nastier piece of work. Congressman and deputy minority whip, Cantor looks like the pricky proprietor of the Jerk Store; essentially an unregistered Israeli lobbyist with a domestic voting record to make Grover Norquist quiver with delight. Would make NRO's Corner happy but have everyone else running for the hills.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
The GOP must by dying over the images.
We are forced to watch CNN here, and they just reported that the line to get into Investco at some points is "6 miles long"? Which must refer to a highway backup. The campaign is very concerned that many people won't be able to get inside in time. Security, of course, is very tight.
Although it's worth nothing, my money is on Pawlenty. Much as I would love Romney, too much baggage.
Doesn't a McCain leak tonight really screw their plan to strangle Obama's bounce tomorrow with the announcement? If all the news shows in the morning know the veep than they are free to talk more about Obama's speech which is what they want to prevent.
And finally, GOP operators keep trying to float the rumor that Colin Powell is on the list and literally no one seems to be bitting, including Powell's people who have repeatedly shot down the rumors.
UPDATE: CNN is now reporting that McCain has made up his mind, and Ambinder say Fox's Cameron has the name.
Again, is this really wise for McCain do be doing this now? It' s not like anyone will be breaking away from Obama's speech, and if it's out tonight it won't be news tomorrow.
I've long felt that Obama's decision to go to the football stadium was a bad idea -- too grand -- too much. But as I'm watching CNN the buzz is all about the frenzy in Denver for tickets with people offer huge sums of money and in a couple cases, it would seem....sex.
I'm prepared to consider that I was wrong about the stadium and all Obama's advisors who have gotten him to this point were right.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
When you hear the press complain about Obama's lack of meat or specificity in his speeches, Bill's speech is exactly what they want.
Could he have written a more perfect speech?
Will he undo this good will with comments tonight or tomorrow? It's my understanding that Bill does not plan on attending Obama's speech tomorrow night.
The op-ed in today's WSJ by the McCain duo of Lieberman and Graham is far more important for this election, it seems to me, than parsing the dynamics of the Clinton-Obama marriage. What they are laying out in very clear terms is the agenda of a McCain presidency. The agenda is war and the threat of war - including what would be an end to cooperation with Russia on securing loose nuclear materials and sharing terror intelligence, in favor of a new cold war in defense of ... Moldova and Azerbaijan. I'm sure McCain would like to have his Russian cooperation, while demonizing and attacking them on the world stage, but in the actual world, he cannot. Putin and Medvedev are not agreeable figures, and I do not mean in any way to excuse their bullying. But this is global politics, guys, and these are the cold, hard choices facing American policy makers.
In a tough speech delivered in Kiev, Ukraine, Miliband said Russia will face consequences for its actions in Georgia. But he added: "In all international institutions, we need to review our relations with Russia. I do not apologize for rejecting knee-jerk calls for Russia to be expelled from the G8, or for EU-Russia or NATO-Russia relations to be broken. But we do need to examine the nature, depth and breadth of relations with Russia."
McCain, who has no executive experience having spent his entire political career in the Congress and Senate was quick to clarify Rudy's comments by saying he meant to say 'except for John McCain'.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Her prepared remarks are here. Here is a brief excerpt,
Will Bill feel pressure from Hillary's performance tonight to deliver even bigger?
I am honored to be here tonight. A proud mother. A proud Democrat. A proud American. And a proud supporter of Barack Obama.
My friends, it is time to take back the country we love.
Whether you voted for me, or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines.
This is a fight for the future. And it's a fight we must win.
_____I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me?
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?
Klein is being kind. The press just loves drama and when they can't find it, they seek to create it.
The McCain campaign is dispatching Cindy McCain to Georgia with the intention of buying the former Soviet state and filing an eviction action against the Russian Army.
"It's my dream to give Georgia to John as my gift on his inauguration day as President" Mrs. McCain told Time upon the announcement of her trip. "As you may know, John spent five and one half years in a POW prison cell and what could be a better gift than a former Soviet state?"
"John McCain was on the Tonight Show last night for the thirteenth time.
A little bird points out who else has been on the couch with Leno that many times: "Pamela Anderson, Dr. Phil, Larry the Cable Guy, Simon Cowell, Jennifer Love Hewitt." Schwarzenegger has been on twelve times; Obama has been on once."
Monday, August 25, 2008
I think the Water Cube and Birds Nest are architectural masterpieces, that I would love to have in my city.
Kriston Capps looks at past Olympic facilities and finds that most are financial failures regretted by host cities. I suspect Beijing will be an exception to this rule because of the central government control and the national decision to spend this money to show off China. Beijing's facilities are basically nationalized like a monument might be. The vast majority of host cities never have this luxury.
And yet, every news person seems to bring it up constantly.
To hear the chatter on Morning Joe this morning, one would think the 1990's never occurred and the Democratic party has yet to recovery from 1968.
WTF! It's like the media is ruled by morons.
Sadly however, world events have demanded Dick's presences in Azerbaijan, and so he has been forced to send his regrets.
"Cindy and I are deeply disappointed," Senator McCain said upon hearing the news of Cheney's hasty dispatch,"but duty and country come first and the United States has no more important ally in remote Eurasia than Azerbaijan." Wishing the VP safe travel on his critical mission, "Godspeed Dick Cheney" were Senator McCain's final remarks on the topic.
Going back to 1999, John McCain did an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle saying that overturning Roe v. Wade would not make any sense, because then women would have to have illegal abortions.Michael Scherer has the humorous details at Swampland.
Bill, Bill, from one baby boomer to another: It ain't about you. It ain't about us...in fact, people both older and younger than us are getting totally sick of our generational solipsism. Suck it up, big guy. It's Barack's time... and if you want to be remembered fondly by your fellow Democrats, you'll stop your infantile attempts to undermine him.
In what should surprise no one, Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer, the two guys from Georgia claiming to have a big foot corps, were a fraud. The supposed corps thawing in the bathtub was a rubber suit.
What makes it funny is that big foot website owner and true believer Tom Biscardi -- the fool in this case -- paid the guys from Georgia $50,000 for the corpse and the right to introduce them -- but not the corps -- at a press conference.
Whitton and Dyer are not available for comment, and neither is the $50k.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
What Obama also should have learned by now is that the press is not his friend. Of course, he gets more ink and airtime than McCain; he’s sexier news. But as George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs documented in its study of six weeks of TV news reports this summer, Obama’s coverage was 28 percent positive, 72 percent negative. (For McCain, the split was 43/57.) Even McCain’s most blatant confusions, memory lapses and outright lies still barely cause a ripple, whether he’s railing against a piece of pork he in fact voted for, as he did at the Saddleback Church pseudodebate last weekend, or falsifying crucial details of his marital history in his memoirs, as The Los Angeles Times uncovered in court records last month.
And as Josh noted last night, you know the story is getting some traction when it makes the Sunday MoDo column. As an aside, note how deferential Dowd's tone is when writing about McCain, as compared to the trite shrill bitch who writes about Dems.
But the McCain campaign isn't letting up. They know they can't win on issues. So, the McCain camp says that if Obama doesn't stop resisting their negative attacks on him,
They will be prepared to show McCain's "home" in Hanoi by using images of his cell. They claim they have not overused the POW element and insist they have "underused it." They say Americans think most people in presidential politics are wealthy and will point out that Obama "made himself a multi-millionaire after he entered public life."
Rich is full of good advice to Obama, and concludes,
Is a man who is just discovering the Internet qualified to lead a restoration of America’s economic and educational infrastructures? Is the leader of a virtually all-white political party America’s best salesman and moral avatar in the age of globalization? Does a bellicose Vietnam veteran who rushed to hitch his star to the self-immolating overreaches of Ahmad Chalabi, Pervez Musharraf and Mikheil Saakashvili have the judgment to keep America safe?
Years ago Srpingsteen was famous for 3 and 4 hour concerts. Over time the length of the shows had shorted and I think on the Rising tour the shows were more like 2.5 hours.
Well, last night at the Scott Trade Center it was 1980 again. The show went more than 3 hours with 29 songs making it one of the longest of the tour. Two songs hadn't been played by the band since 1975 (and appeared to have been added to show based upon posters from the floor). This is the first arena concert I've attended that let out after midnight.
Here is the set list,
Then She Kissed Me [Tour Premiere—Crystals cover. First since 1975]It's interesting that there were not a lot of songs from his most recent album, Magic. In years past, the set list of shows was built around the album being supported by the tour.
Out In The Street
Adam Raised A Cain
Spirit In The Night
Mountain Of Love [Tour Premiere—Harold Dorman/Johnny Rivers cover. First since 1975]
Because The Night
She's The One
Livin' In The Future
Drive All Night
Last To Die
Long Walk Home
Girls In Their Summer Clothes
Born To Run
Dancing In The Dark
Little Queenie [Tour Premiere—Chuck Berry cover. Ultra rare]
Twist And Shout
Saturday, August 23, 2008
I don't think Bush would have 'won' in 2000 without Cheney. Bush was inexperienced and not someone who instilled confidence in thinking people. I didn't know a single Republican who wasn't concerned about Bush and his qualifications for the job. When Cheney was picked as Veep they all expressed relief that the elder Cheney would be a steadying hand. I must have heard a dozen people explain with approval that Cheney was the elder Bush's babysitter.
I have no idea if Biden will make a difference in this race, but I have to think that a number of would-be Democratic voters will like the idea of a Biden figure on the ticket.
Ezra has a nice post outlining what Biden brings to the race. Ezra concludes,
Is Bident perfect? Nope. He's gaffe prone, has voted on twelve million pieces of legislation, and has spent more than half his adult life in the Senate. But then, so has John McCain....I don't think you can overstate the press advantage on foreign policy that Biden brings to the ticket. The press corps considers Biden one of the ultimate foreign policy experts in DC and will be very, very deferential to him on the topic. Most in the press agree with Biden (foreign policy smart) as opposed to McCain (foreign policy invade) and we all know that will color their coverage. Sweet.
Biden is an attack dog. He's serenely self confident in his own national security credentials, and never seems surprised to hear himself attacking Republicans on the issue. He radiates comfort with the issue, rather than simply asserting it. The press corps is used to him as a foreign policy voice, and trusts his experience. And, most importantly, he's an arrogant jerk. That's led him to adopt precisely the right attitude of contempt and disbelief at Republicans who seek to dominate the foreign policy arena in this country. And that may make him exactly the right voice for Democrats who want to drive a few more nails into the coffin of the GOP's reputation.
Just before midnight ET yesterday the AP reported the pick was Biden based upon an "official who spoke...on condition of anonymity, saying they did not want to pre-empt a text-message announcement the Obama campaign promised for Saturday morning."
And, at 12:45 AM ET, "Sen. Barack Obama has selected Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware as his running mate on the Democratic ticket for the White House, three Democratic sources told CNN."
"Sources" couldn't wait to leak before the texts went out.
Friday, August 22, 2008
You can let the suspense build and build if you've got a Hillary or a Gore socked away somewhere. Possibly a Biden or a Webb (or some unorthodox pick like a general or a Republican). But you'd better not come with Jack Reed or Evan Bayh after toying with people for over a week.The Obama campaign has really overplayed their hand. At this point can anyone live up to the suspense?
I honestly feel used.
Joe Klein has more.
Here's a sentence I never dreamed I would write: Pat Buchanan makes an important point:
Scheuemann is McCain's principle foreign policy adviser and the campaign needs to do some explaining as to the roll Scheuemann played in McCain's recent positions on Georgia.
From January 2007 to March 2008, the McCain campaign paid Scheunemann $70,000 -- pocket change compared to the $290,000 his Orion Strategies banked in those same 15 months from the Georgian regime of Mikheil Saakashvili. What were Mikheil's marching orders to Tbilisi's man in Washington? Get Georgia a NATO war guarantee. Get America committed to fight Russia, if necessary, on behalf of Georgia. Scheunemann came close to succeeding.
Stuff like the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry and McCain's Celeb/P Diddy assault on Obama aren't really about the attacks themselves. In themselves, they're often too cartoonish to be believed in any literal sense. What they're about is smacking the other guy around and making him take it. There's no better way to demonstrate someone's lack of toughness or strength than to attack them and show they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves -- thus the rough slang I used above. That not only makes the other guy look weak. It also transforms him into an object of contempt, which together are politically fatal. It's this meta-message of weakness that resonates far beyond the literal claims. And it's this that Democrats so often seem to miss -- explaining the factual inaccuracies of the claims, demanding that the attacks stop, all the while reinforcing the intended message of the attacks in the first place.As Josh notes, and as I've mentioned on this blog, you can't respond to these attacks by complaining about them and insisting you are correct. You must hit back, and hit back hard. It would appear that Obama has started doing so, per the ad below, but this has to be just the beginning.
John McCain is as prickly a candidate as anyone who has run for office in many years. His campaign doesn't take criticism well, hence the constant references to his time as a POW. Obama must exploit this weakness with a battery of assaults all the way to November. McCain will have a melt down, and better now than as POTUS.
It takes shows like SNL to really bring these things to a head with serious mockery, and with the show on hiatus, they seem to be getting a free pass.
Can anyone remember any campaign having created so much buzz over the VP choice?
Does Matt still believe the text message gimmick is anti-climatic?
Thursday, August 21, 2008
When you look at it up close, it appears that McCain has Obama on the ropes these days, and Obama's taken a month to really start responding. Looked at from a distance, though, it appears that the Obama campaign always had a very specific plan and timeline, and nothing that McCain has done has really altered it.We'll see. I don't think there is any question that the panic from Obama's supporters is a tad overblown.
Obama wrapped up the nomination, gave some tough speeches about McCain and foreign policy, then went to Iraq, Afghanistan and Europe, then went on vacation while the stump speech and the message were re-tooled to be more economically populist and also more aggressive against McCain's economic statements/policies.
This hasn't happened because McCain has been attacking; this seems to have been a deliberate strategy, one that could have been easily predicted in advance.
So, rather than allow himself to get sucked in to a lose-lose dynamic during the summer, where he and McCain could hack each other to pieces while making no appreciable gains, the campaign decided: the summer is for shoring up the foreign policy/national security cred. The fall (beginning with the convention, and going through November) is all about the economy. Now, poll-wise, it's true, Obama made no appreciable gains, but I'm sure they feel that the foreign trip was was absolutely vital to the campaign, and the summer was the only time such a trip would make sense. He had to go. I'm sure they anticipated taking some small hits in the polls, especially with the trip and with Obama's vacation, where McCain had the campaign trail to himself. Now, it's campaign season.
The McCain campaign's constant invocation of the candidate's POW past is weird bordering on irrational: yesterday, Nicolle Wallace used it as evidence that McCain didn't "cheat" at Saddleback. By a VERY generous interpretation, she could have meant that POWs don't cheat. Or that once you've been a POW, you've been through so much you're above cheating. Or maybe you can't accuse a POW of cheating unless you're a POW.So when exactly does the press -- to whom these absurd dodges are directed -- start calling them on it? Obvious follow-ups might begin with, "What does the Senator's former status as a POW have to do with the number of houses he owns?"
Today, spokesman Brian Rogers took the same tack against the "housing crisis" they currently face: "This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison."...
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I was thinking (again!) as I was driving home last night about the pros and cons of Biden when I realized the obvious -- every has them -- and you can go on forever about any name thrown out.
Everyone seems to agree the short list is:
The campaign will probably announce on Friday but it could be as early as Thursday night by text message.
I think it takes computers time to text 1 million people so my guess as the text starts going out the buzz will be huge as some people get the message and text others who haven't gotten it yet, etc.
Maybe I've just been thinking about this too long (well, clearly that's true) but I'm starting to think the veep might actually be a big surprise to all of us as in someone who we never thought he would pick. And by this I don't mean Wesley Clark, but someone we will find a little stunning.
And finally, isn't it impressive at how tight-lipped the Obama campaign has been on this? Clearly, very few people know what Obama is really thinking or we would be seeing better leaks. When you read Fineman's comments from yesterday, it seems clear that he is just repeating educated speculation from people who don't know what Obama is thinking. Those campaign workers just below the top level love to leak to prove to members of the press that they are 'in the know' and in the inner circle of the campaign. Those preening jackasses clearly have no idea or we would all know.
Any last minute thoughts?
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
His top contenders are said to include Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Less traditional choices mentioned include former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, an abortion-rights supporter, and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential prick in 2000 who now is an independent.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Incredibly, Fallows reviewed every single democratic debate. He offers excellent analysis of what was done well, and not so well by the moderators and as well as the candidates, and places it all in an historical context. Fallows concludes by attempting to project what to expect from both Obama and McCain in the fall.
Finally, Fallows explains with examples what the worst of the moderators did wrong and really how their poor performance was/is a real public disservice. In doing so, Fallows explains why I disliked Tim Russert's style so much.
The article is great. Go read it now.
A conservative friend of mine who watched the forum made the same case today at lunch. This friend has a blog so I'm hoping he will summarize his position on his blog. I really don't want to speak for him, but in brief, he felt that Obama came off as sincere and thoughtful, and did not simply give standard talking point answers -- something he felt McCain was guilty of and not always effective. Obama had little to lose in appearing before a group of heretofore solid GOP voters so any pick-up of votes would be a win for Obama.
I expect Obama's VP pick on Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. The DNC convention starts a week from today so it would seem like a good time to get some buzz going.
But I can't figure out for the life of me why Joe Biden would want to be VP. It's a dead-end do nothing job with the only possible upside being the front runner for your parties nomination when the President is done.
Biden is 65 years old. He will be 66 on Inauguration day. He's been a senator since he was 30, so he's clearly at the end of his political career and not a candidate for President even in 4 years. So why on earth would Joe Biden want to end is polical career as the VP?
Biden has a chance to become Secretary of State which would be a dream job for a guy like Biden and a wonderful way to end a lifetime in politics. So why he would choose to spend his last days in DC hanging out at the Naval Observatory is beyond me.
I'm sticking with Bayh.
Best case against Bayh? Dems would lose his senate seat which is a serious reason to look elsewhere.
In case you haven't yet figured it out, Russia is enjoying its humiliation of Bush and the US as payback for Bush's policies that Russia believes was designed to humiliate them -- zealous expansion of NATO and putting a missile defense base at their doorstep, to name just a few.
And it's ok if you haven't figured this out. McCain is certainly clueless.
Interestingly, it turns out that McCain was not in "a cone of silence", but riding in his motorcade speaking to his staff by cell phone. Joe Klein doesn't think it would matter anyway, and my guess is that Joe is right.
Cone of silence or not, it was mistake for Obama to have agreed to the appearance. The forum clearly favored McCain from the start and then you add to that Obama's agreement to go first and allow the event to go forward while McCain was NOT in a green room? The Obama campaign clearly got gamed in the negotiations. Nevertheless, having agreed to the appearance (and terms), the Obama campaign should not be heard to be uttering a peep to anyone about it.
Moreover, the suggestion that the process of choosing the next president should require a joint appearance before on of the nations largest Christian churches is offensive to me. That many Americans will make their election choice based on religious faith should not require such vetting, and I'm very concerned that this will suddenly become expected with all future Dems being beaten up by the GOP for resisting such appearances. The Obama campaign no doubt believed they had no down side to this appearance with most of the intended audience having decided against Obama going in. Thus, picking up even 5% of the audience would be a win. Nevertheless, the consequences of this appearance for all future campaigns should have been reason enough to say 'no'.
Surprised to learn that McCain was NOT sequestered during Obama's appearance, the press -- and not the Obama campaign -- asked the McCain campaign if their candidate had been tipped to any question. Said McCain spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace: "The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous."
Really? Does McCain's first wife think any suggestion of his "cheating" is outrageous?
Of course, the press should have a field day with this response, but they didn't. The follow-up should have been to ask what McCain's former status as a POW has to do with the events of Saturday night and go from there. The McCain campaign will be trotting out the 'former prisoner of war' deflection until they suffer for it.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Anyway, I'm told the question of how much money you need to make in order to qualify as rich came up last night at Saddleback. I was watching Phelps win his 8th gold medal.
And since my ignorant friend doesn't read this blog, I'm happy to point to Phil Klinker who provides some data from the Census Bureau:
Note that 'household' income data and individual income data are not the same thing.
—In 2006, the median household income was $48,201. That means half of all households made less than this amount and half made more.
—For family households, the median was just shy of $60,000. For married couples households, the median was $69,716.
—Households making over $133,000 were in the 90th percentile.Households making over $174,000 were in the 95th percentile. This means that Obama’s line of $150,000 probably hits the top 7-8 percent of household incomes.
—The data on those making above McCain’s line of $5 million dollars aren’t readily available, but those making over $1.6 million are in the top 0.1 percentile (that’s the top one-tenth of one percent). Overall, there are only 146,000 households making over $1.5 million and only 11,000 with incomes over $5.5 million.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Corsi’s approach to politics is both destructive and self-destructive. If Senator Obama loses, he should lose on the merits: his record in public life and his political philosophy. And while it’s legitimate to take into account Obama’s past associations with people like the Reverend Jeremiah Wright–especially for someone like Obama, about whom relatively little is known–it wrong and reckless to throw out unsubstantiated charges and smears against Senator Obama.But of course the GOP establishment is feteing Corsi and his book. The consummate GOP insider, Mary Matalin is the publisher and has been lauding the book to anyone who will listen.
Conservatism has been an intellectual home to people like Burke and Buckley. The GOP is the party that gave us Lincoln and Reagan. It seems to me that its leaders ought to make it clear that they find what Dr. Corsi is doing to be both wrong and repellent. To have their movement and their party associated with such a figure would be a terrible thing and it will only help the cause of those who hold both the GOP and the conservative movement in contempt.
The GOP can't win on policy so this is what they are left with, and until someone figures out how to make them pay a price for it, it will continue.
One thing the Obama people should be doing is taring McCain with this book forcing him to embrace it or denounce it. Camp Obama should have a daily plan for getting under prickly John's skin.
Former Bush undersecretary of state Paul Saunders does just that in today's WaPo,
But the situation inside Georgia belies Saakashvili's rhetorical commitment to freedom. Most glaring was his handling of opposition protests last fall. The State Department's 2007 Human Rights Report, released just a few months ago, found "serious problems" with Georgia's human rights record and notes "excessive use of force to disperse demonstrations"; "impunity of police officers"; and declining respect for freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and political participation. Ana Dolidze, a democracy advocate and former chair of Georgia's Young Lawyers Association, has described in detail how Saakashvili acted quickly after entering office to empower the executive branch at the expense of parliament and to strengthen the government by "stifling political expression, pressuring influential media and targeting vocal critics and opposition leaders" -- including by using law enforcement agencies. Saakashvili is far from the morally pure democrat he would have the West believe he is.
Evidently, this is SOP for the Obama campaign.
Over the past week, we've gotten our hands on a number of negative TV ads Obama's been running against McCain in key states like Ohio and Michigan. This is in addition to the tough spot, uncovered by...the Washington Times' Christina Bellantoni...that Obama's airing in Indiana. Clearly, the Obama campaign isn't interested in telling the media about every single McCain attack ad they’re running. Perhaps this is because Obama's brand can't afford to be tarnished too much if he's seen as constantly running negative TV ads. So the campaign simply puts them on the air in key markets, doesn't tell the press about them, and layers those ads with positive ones being run nationally during the Olympics. Also, by not releasing to the media, it forces the McCain camp to wait a day or two before they see the ad. McCain's camp is much more comfortable unveiling their negative ads, perhaps because they want the free press that comes with them. But make no mistake, Obama’s running plenty of negative TV ads, particularly in the industrial Midwestern states. In fact, one of Obama's biggest candidate strengths -- which doesn't get the attention it deserves -- is that he plays political hardball as well as his opponents; he just sometimes does it under the radar.
Disdain for McCain is combined with enthusiasm for Obama in some quarters. Many of the brokers, bankers and traders in the securities industry, who contributed $9.2 million to Bush and $4.8 million to Kerry four years ago, are now Obama supporters, motivated by issues such as the Illinois senator's opposition to the Iraq War. Obama has received $8.9 million and McCain $6.3 million from the industry from Jan. 1, 2007 through June 30 of this year, according to the center.
Their support comes even as Obama seeks higher taxes for wealthy Americans. He's pushing a rollback of Bush's income tax cuts for families making more than $250,000 a year. The average salary on Wall Street was $339,910 in 2006, according to the New York State Comptroller.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
US Troops deployed overseas have favored Obama with campaign contributions by a 6 to 1 margin over McCain. $60,642 to Obama compared to a paltry $10,665 to McCain.
More interesting is that military donation overall still favor Obama $335k to $280k.
Needless to say, this is unprecedented.
Of course no one expects Alan Colmes to say anything so the group was completely unprepared to respond, until Hannity collected himself and with all the righteous indignation he could muster pointed out that McCain had been beaten and tortured daily in a POW camp which gave him license to cheat and that it was outrageous to compare Edwards to the McCain.
Watch it, it's priceless,
Obama advisers say that whenever they hear that Corsi has been booked for an appearance on a network program, they are quickly contacting the program's producers to rebut the book's charges in phone conversations and giving them a whole run-down of past Corsi quotes that are controversial.In addition to a Corsi counterattack, Obama needs to attack from behind the scenes any program that is willing to allow the author or his surrogates time to promote the book. They need to push hard to shame any show that gives the book publicity. The talking points need to be blunt and direct calling the author "a liar" and pushing back in similar fashion to anyone who trades in Corsi's lies. Use terms like 'dispicable' 'bigoted' hateful' and most importantly, 'un-American'. Accuse them of treating our great Democracy as just anther marked to be gamed.
Obama aides also vow to insist that the producers allow them to have on a campaign surrogate to attack the charges, and are expecting to recruit more campaign surrogates, well plied with talking points, to push back against the book.
Call out those in the media who are all too willing to indulge this vile behavior as Joe Klein did yesterday. Klein was not just angry at McCain and the right-wing smear machine but at the MSM who dignify the smears as being in some way legitimate like they are covering a sporting event. Note the dig Joe takes at Mary Matalin "who appears regularly on mainstream media programs like Meet the Press..." Make it very clear to everyone who fancies themselves a player like Matalin and her husband that the Obama campaign does not see 'swiftboating' as 'just politics' (as Bush told McCain after Bush's people told SC voters in 2000 that McCain and his wife 'had a black baby') and those who indulge it will never be welcomed again. Both Matalin and her husband should be persona non grada at the campaign and any future Democratic White House.
When those who trade in this bullshit -both the politicians and those who give them quarter - suffer for having done so, the swiftboating will stop, and not a minute before.
Hilzoy ( I HATE blogger 'handles') gets it right,
...allowing Georgia to join NATO, under any circumstances that remotely resemble the present, would make people wonder: are the United States and the other NATO countries really willing to go to war to protect Georgia? And the reason it would make people wonder is that it is not, in fact, even the least bit clear that we would, still less that we should. And that means that admitting Georgia to NATO would badly damage NATO's status as a credible defensive alliance.
As a conservative who's goal is peace, not war, Andrew gets frustrated by self-described conservatives who saw the end of the Cold War ans an opportunity to find new enemies.
...For some, we now realize, the Cold War was not about democratic values versus totalitarianism, in the Kirkpatrick formulation. It was about American hegemony against any rival power, totalitarian or not, globally expansionist or not. The end of Communism was, for some, a problem. It removed a key rationale for military power. China was the first object of demonization, in the first months of the Bush administration; then - defensibly - Islamism; then Iran, Iraq and NoKo; now, Russia....And for the record, let's not forget that there was nether a more zealous advocate of the Iraqi war nor a more McCarthite attacker of opposition the war than Andrew himself who casually labeled anyone opposed to the war as a traitor. His dispicable behavior following September 11, up until he himself turned on the war was not only reprehensible and unforgivable, but as un-American has anything Rove, and company ever dreamed of. For years I refused to link him, and although he has apoligized for his offending behavior -- a little -- I will never forgive him. Nevertheless, his writing is often very smart and interesting and so I can't resist reading him nearly daily even if I disagree with much of what he writes.
McCain is very, very comfortable in this situation. It speaks his language. A thoroughly twentieth-century figure, he lives and breathes war and conflict as a state of being. For him, it is always 1938 somewhere; America's duty is to control, occupy or intervene wherever any rival seeks influence and any group does not share our alleged values. And so American power must be brought to bear in Georgia and Iraq and Iran and Burma and Darfur and Bosnia and anyplace else where American interests are threatened or democratic allies seek help...This is the higher purpose McCain lives for: the glory of liberation, the thrill of conquest, the adoration of the soldier, the defeat of evil.
But for conservatives whose goal is peace, not war; who are quite comfortable balancing global power with other great powers such as Russia, China, India and Europe rather than demanding an expanding American hegemony; who believe that defense means defense, not a proactive preference for war; who see war and control of other countries as something distasteful if it goes beyond pragmatic self-interest; those conservatives do not agree....
"Three Bedroom Ranch" TV Ad
It begins with a plan.
A plan to build.
A plan to put hard working Americans first.
He’ll put the middle class ahead of Corporate Interests to…
Grow the economy.
End tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.
Help businesses that create jobs here.
Invest in education.
Cut taxes for working families.
And make energy independence an urgent national priority.
I’m Barack Obama and I approve this message.
The Obama and Clinton camps have agreed to have Hillary Clinton's name placed in nomination for the roll-call vote at the Democratic convention, according to a source familiar with the discussions.Ambinder has more.
The source adds that the mechanics of this are still being worked out, but it's "likely" that Clinton will release her delegates to vote for Obama after her name is submitted. Clinton -- who is a superdelegate -- will cast her delegate vote for Obama.
The source also notes that, contrary to previous speculation, these Clinton-Obama discussions haven't been acrimonious at all. This was a joint decision, "and both sides were open to this, and pleased with the outcome."
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Read his post on the new Corsi book. It's a rant not just against Corsi and swiftboat politics but again McCain personally, for becoming what they are.
Klein is uncommonly blunt and I will be curious to see what if anything comes of it.
I've tried to pull a quote, but one quote doesn't do the post justice.
No pending endorsement and no plans to speak.
At this point, shouldn't corrections of Kristol reports just be assumed?
I'd bet lunch that Powell won't be endorsing anyone.
The reaction from the chattering class should be interesting.
Will the White House comment or have they all just given up?
What does it say about Sen. Clinton that so many aides were willing to share private matters publicly? Clearly, many are eager to shift blame to her and away from themselves. That is not particularly new for losing bids.
But giving so many campaign documents to the press? That suggests a certain hostility between candidate and underlings that should give pause to those who believed that Clinton was ready "on day one" to take command of the White House.
Expect the GOP to file suit to seek an injunction ASAP.
The AP explains why,
The move will benefit Obama, who enjoys a 2-to-1 lead over McCain among 18- to 34-year-olds, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released last month. If Obama's campaign were able to tap into college campuses with one-stop voting, it would add thousands of votes to his tally in a state where, in 2004, John Kerry lost to President Bush by only about 118,000 votes, putting Bush over the top in the electoral count.And here's why the injunction will likely be granted,
Of the more than 470,000 students enrolled in Ohio's public colleges and universities in 2006, the most recent figures available, nine out of 10 were Ohio residents, the state Board of Regents said. To register to vote in Ohio, a person must be a resident of the state for at least 30 days immediately before an election.
The voting window, so far, is only being implemented in some counties _ typically, urban areas or those with college campuses leading Republicans to cry foul.Equal Protection issue?
Interestingly, in OH one does not need an ID to register but does need ID to vote.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
First Read - msnbc.com
Summer doldrums? Then spend the day clicking and reading Josh Green’s Atlantic Monthly piece on the Clinton campaign, as well as all the campaign memos and emails he obtained. It's not a pretty picture of Team Clinton. The memos paint a picture of Mark Penn as someone who just doesn't seem human. They also show Hillary Clinton as shockingly paralyzed; the person who ran on her experience to do the job couldn't make an executive decision in a timely fashion -- or if she did, she wasn't listened to. Bill Clinton was one of the powers behind the scenes, providing the backbone Mark Penn was looking for inside the campaign. The article, as well the memos and emails, is a severe blow to the Clinton Restoration Project -- just as her supporters are trying to get her name onto the convention ballot.
The McCain campaign had a web only video up this morning full of white women gushing for Obama ala the now infamous RNC Harold Ford ad ran in the TN senate race in 2006.
Tapper called them on it and it now appears, per Tapper, to have been taken down.
How many times will the McCain campaign raise the issue of race before the talking heads stop defending them?
And please don't be so naive as to believe that constant accusations of Obama 'playing the race card' are not intended to keep Obama's race on the 24 hour news cycle. It's very cleaver, but it's also using race against Obama.
Josh is exactly right that no campaign message is accidental,
During the campaign there was a lot of clucking about whether the [Clinton] campaign's message just accidentally stumbled on to charged words and associations. And now we can see what was obvious at the time -- that the people in charge of the message weren't sloppy and unlucky but rather what you would expect, professionals following a detailed plan.
Now how about Sen. McCain? You see his ads lining Obama up with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, a new ad with the tagline "hot chicks dig Obama" (yes, those are the actual words in McCain's ad) and countless montages of Obama as pop music sensation. How do you think McCain's memos read?
MOSCOW — President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia agreed on Tuesday to the terms of a cease-fire that could end the clashes in Georgia, saying Russia had “punished” Georgia enough for its aggression against the separatist enclave of South Ossetia.This is an enormous win for Russia no matter how you slice it.
The six-point agreement — which the Georgians had endorsed in an earlier draft — would withdraw troops to the positions they occupied before fighting broke out Thursday. It would grant unfettered access to humanitarian aid, cease the use of force in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, a second disputed territories, and begin the delicate process of negotiation over the future of the two breakaway enclaves.
“I think these are good principles to settle the problem, to end this dramatic situation,” Mr. Medvedev said at a news conference with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France. “It is up to Georgia now.”
Putin has embarrassed Bush who was making idiotic promises to Georgia about their security, and at the same time reminded every former Soviet state who's their Daddy. The former Warsaw Pact nations will be rethinking any plans to get in bed with the U.S. Putin has reminded the rest of the world that Russia still matter and is not to be trifled with. Putin has given current NATO countries serious pause as to whether they want to surround Russia, as Bush and McCain desire --- although to be fair, Bush and McCain are just about the only people in the world who thought that was a good idea. Never the less, NATO expansion is ongoing and current members may begin a much more cautious approach to expansion. And finally, it would appear Russia can now expect a favorable outcome in their negotiations with Georgia on the future of South Ossethia and Abkhazia.
Is there any downside in any of this for Russia?
In the long term, the best way to take Russia down a notch (along with Iran, Venezuela, and other hostile powers overflowing with oil money) is to pursue policies and fund technologies that slash the demand for oil. The Georgia crisis should make clear, if it isn't already, that this is a matter of hard-headed national security.
The actual responsibilities of a superpower--which sometimes do include military action, as in Afghanistan in 2001 (and, I'd argue, in Iraq in 1991)--require far more careful and considered actions than this Bush Administration has practiced. They require the prudence of the first Bush Administration...in which the President refused to hop a plane to celebrate the fall of the Berlin wall because he didn't want to rub the Russians' noses in it. Bush the Elder knew that he'd need their cooperation in the far more important work of reuniting Germany.So is Obama capable of taking charge of the conversation and defining for the American people a reasonable response to Georgia? His response to 'drill more wells' does not fill me with confidence.
I suspect Karl Rove would have put Junior on the next plane to Germany. What a great photo-op for the next campaign! More to the point, I suspect Kagan (and his apparent disciple, John McCain) have a weakness for an ill-considered, blustery foreign policy that seeks neat divisions between friend and foe--a policy of gesture rather than thoughtfulness, of ideology rather than intricacy.
He sees a cautionary tale for the next president,
Regardless of what happens next, it is worth asking what the Bush people were thinking when they egged on Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia's young, Western-educated president, to apply for NATO membership, send 2,000 of his troops to Iraq as a full-fledged U.S. ally, and receive tactical training and weapons from our military. Did they really think Putin would sit by and see another border state (and former province of the Russian empire) slip away to the West? If they thought that Putin might not, what did they plan to do about it, and how firmly did they warn Saakashvili not to get too brash or provoke an outburst?Bush pushed hard for fast tracking NATO admission of Georgia, and McCain is now calling for the same. Fortunately, the adults in Europe vetoed the idiots recognizing that running NATO literally to the Russian border was inviting war not unlike, say, placing Russian troops in Mexico. And thank God they did or the West would now be obligated to storm into a shooting war with Russia to save Abkhazia and South Osseita -- who by the way -- want Russian and don't want Georgia.
To the lunatic right screaming appeasement and demand action,
Do you really believe that Russia's move against Georgia is not an assertion of control over "the near abroad" (as the Russians call their border regions), but rather the first step of a campaign to restore the Warsaw Pact in Eastern Europe and, from there, bring back the Cold War's Continental standoff? If so—if this really is the start of a new war of civilizations—why aren't you devoting every waking hour to pressing for the revival of military conscription, for a war surtax to triple the military budget, and—here's a twist—for getting out of Iraq in order to send a few divisions right away to fight in the larger battle? If not, what exactly are you proposing?Kaplan's suggested outcome?
....if an independent Georgia is worth saving, the Russians need some assurances—for instance, a pledge that Georgia won't be admitted into NATO or the European Union—in exchange for keeping the country and its elected government intact. (Those who consider this "appeasement" are invited to submit other ideas that don't lead either to Georgia's utter dismantlement or to a major war.)