The number of high quality, innovative, non-Campaign, campaigning videos that have been produced and shared on the www is astounding.
And on this basis alone, Obama wins.
AP photo by Gerald Herbert
From Tom Dickinson’s iconoclastic portrait of a self-centred misogynist, who crashed two US planes on his way to becoming a very dishonourable man, in Rolling Stone magazine –
In its broad strokes, McCain’s life story is oddly similar to that of the current occupant of the White House. John Sidney McCain III and George Walker Bush both represent the third generation of American dynasties. Both were born into positions of privilege against which they rebelled into mediocrity. Both developed an uncanny social intelligence that allowed them to skate by with a minimum of mental exertion. Both struggled with booze and loutish behavior. At each step, with the aid of their fathers’ powerful friends, both failed upward. And both shed their skins as Episcopalian members of the Washington elite to build political careers as self-styled, ranch-inhabiting Westerners who pray to Jesus in their wives’ evangelical churches.
In one vital respect, however, the comparison is deeply unfair to the current president: George W. Bush was a much better pilot.
From the Sunday Times –
[…] we have the now mountain of lies that follow Palin everywhere she goes, lies she keeps repeating as if they are not subject to factual scrutiny. In her first interview she said it was common for vice-presidential candidates never to have met a single foreign leader. Untrue. Every living vice-presidential candidate has met some foreign leaders before being picked.
She said she did not deny that climate change was man-made. But she has clearly stated that on the record. A year ago she said: “I’m not an Al Gore, doom-and-gloom environmentalist, blaming the changes in our climate on human activity.”
She keeps repeating as a defining political motif that she said: “Thanks, but no thanks for the Bridge to Nowhere.” But we now know that she originally lobbied for the bridge in Alaska paid for by federal funds. And she never returned the money. And she even wore a “Nowhere, Alaska” sweatshirt to push back against the McCains of this world who derided the bridge as a pointless boondoggle.
She says she’s against pork-barrel spending, and this was partly why McCain picked her. McCain’s signature issue, after all, is his disdain of pork. Here’s one of McCain’s oldest jokes: “We’re not going to spend $3m of your tax dollars to study the DNA of bears in Montana,” he said earlier this year, citing Montana’s request for federal money to study the endangered grizzly bear. “I don’t know if it was a paternity issue or criminal, but it was a waste of money.”
Here’s what Politico.com revealed about Palin’s time as Alaska governor: “According to a ‘summary of requests for federal appropriations’ posted to her budget office’s website earlier this year, Palin requested millions of federal dollars for everything from improving recreational halibut fishing to studying the mating habits of crabs and the DNA of harbour seals.”
She boasts that she secured a new oil pipeline for Alaska, but closer inspection finds that nothing has even begun to be built, and that the state may end up owing billions if the pipeline is never constructed.
She says she’s a fiscal conservative, but as mayor she increased her tiny town’s debt service by 69%. When she took office, the town of Wasilla had no long-term debt. By the time her term was over, the debt amounted to $3,000 per citizen.
She is the biggest joke to be put on a ticket in national politics. The most accurate thing said about her in the past two weeks was said on the day she was picked. It was said by Alaska’s Republican state senate president, Lyda Green: “She’s not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice-president or president? Look at what she’s done to this state. What would she do to the nation?”
Michael Tomasky writing yesterday in the Guardian –
[…] Americans look around themselves and see a middle class that is prosperous but deeply anxious; a healthcare system that works reasonably well, except when you really need it; a world that hasn’t reacted very positively to our attempts at bullying it; a planet that might indeed be suffering for our, pardon the pun, sins of emission.
Americans have given up on Bush. That much we know. What we don’t know is whether they’ve given up on his ideology. It may be they look at Bush’s failures and see an ideological failure, a failure of conservatism. But it may also be that they see only an execution failure, a failure of competence.
So these are the questions – and they’re very important and profound questions – this election will answer: will American voters say that they want a “change,” to go back to the key word, only from incompetence to competence, keeping basic conservatism intact (John McCain, arguably)? Will they say they want a shift away from conservatism, but the cautious and incremental shift that Clinton represents? Or will they want the broader change that Obama signifies – a change not dramatically to the left of Clinton in ideological terms, because he is not, but potentially a vast change in the political culture, toward something that does not accept our red v blue divide and culture wars as a given and would redeem America’s most solemn original sin of racism?
Liberals around Washington, indeed around the country, are upbeat because it feels like it might be one of those moments. It feels like enough Americans are tired of conservatism, not just of incompetence. It feels like enough of them see that conservatism doesn’t have good solutions to some of the new problems America confronts. Not that many Americans, still, are willing to call themselves liberal; just about one adult in five. And no one is hankering for a return to the 1970s or seized with a burning desire to pay higher taxes. But the current mood in the country seems to indicate that Americans are willing to give liberalism that second chance.
And if liberalism gets that chance and succeeds, the modern conservative movement will enter into a period of introspection and recrimination unlike any it’s ever experienced. What in this context does “succeed” mean? As little as two things. If a Democratic president and Congress – and everyone expects that Congress will stay in Democratic control – can 1) pass healthcare and 2) articulate and implement a strategic foreign policy vision that defends America and charts a new course in the world, then Americans will embrace this new liberalism. Movement conservatism will be forced to transform itself so utterly as to be unrecognisable as its erstwhile self; which is another way of saying that, short of its 60th birthday, it will in essence perish.
That’s all that’s at stake.
(Courtesy of Memex 1.1.)
I share Janet Daley’s prediction, published in the Telegraph, about the parties’ nominated presidential candidates. But where I disagree is with her assumption that an older politician with experience as his vice presidential candidate will necessarily drag Obama down –
[…] Barack Obama will become the Democratic nominee. His party will not be able to bring itself to turn down the possibility of choosing the first black presidential candidate, when he is so clearly able and charismatic. To reject him would seem to be cowardly and reactionary. (One observation I have not heard anyone make is that Hillary has lost a major Clinton advantage: her husband was far and away the most popular candidate with black voters in the North and the South. Now those voters have one of their own to support so they do not need Bill-by-other-means.) Obama will then choose a considerably older, more seasoned vice-presidential running mate (but not Hillary) in an attempt to counter his lack of experience.
John McCain will win the Republican nomination and he will choose a social conservative (but not Huckabee) as his running mate. There will be a civilised and edifying contest between Obama and McCain – both exceptionally articulate men – which will itself be politically valuable: helping to restore America’s confidence at home and its image in the world, as well as making life exceedingly difficult for the European Left for whom anti-Americanism is the last hurrah. But for all the inspirational value of his candidacy, Obama will not win the presidency: America will have been made to feel sufficiently good about itself simply by his nomination and the way it responds to him as a candidate not to feel the need to put him in the White House.
The popular, if not the electoral college, vote will be close but America will decide that in such dangerous times, it must choose the wise older leader, the war hero, the statesman who talks about foreign policy and national security with real authority.
(Thanks to Memex 1.1 for the link.)
As a running mate, Gore will be a no-brainer – if, of course, he accepts any invitation offered him. It would certainly give him something useful to do, now he’s twiddling his thumbs earning packets on the international lecture circuit. Together they’d sweep the board.
As it happens, the question was asked by an audience member in a debate back in October.
Of course, another, perhaps more attractive, running mate would be Hillary. But could she stomach it?