Politics postsSaturday September 27, 2008
We had a good debate party here on First Hill last night, lots of folks, drinks, kids running around and chasing the cat, poor Jellybean, who hid most of the evening but responded well in the quiet afterwards. No ill effects at basically being the tiny Paul McCartney being chased by grasping and clomping Jellybeaniacs everywhere.
As for the debate itself, I thought both sides did well, but my guy — Barack, in case you haven’t been paying attention — did better. He was smart, articulate, tough but civil. He looked presidential. John McCain was rude and crotchety and refused to even look at his opponent. And while he demonstrated extensive foreign policy expertise, nothing he said, either about foreign affairs or the economy, indicated any change in the direction we’ve been going in, disastrously, for the last eight years.
So basically: Barack refuted the concerns that undecideds had about him (that he wasn’t up to the task) while McCain exacerbated the concerns that undecideds had about him (that, in terms of policy, he was an older and more crotchety version of Bush, and will offer nothing in terms of change).
- Andrew Sullivan’s live blogging of the debate
- Footage of a Fox News(!) focus group of independents that gave the debate to Barack
- An article on why and where Barack won. By a 62-32 margin, voters felt he was more in touch with their needs and concerns. But here’s the bigger number: “The CBS poll of undecideds has more confirmatory detail. Obama went from a +18 on “understanding your needs and problems” before the debate to a +56 (!) afterward. And he went from a -9 on “prepared to be president” to a +21.”
- Finally, Michael Seitzman over at HuffPost has a great post about what exactly it is that Barack is bringing that is so appealing and that we haven’t seen in national politics, or even national life, for so long: Grace.
NY Times Offers Lack of Leadership
Christ, the NY Times editorial did the exact same thing Gail Collins just did. They started off with a good, deserved swipe at Pres. Bush:
It took President Bush until Wednesday night to address the American people about the nation’s financial crisis, and pretty much all he had to offer was fear itself.
But then they say this about our absent leadership:
Given Mr. Bush’s shockingly weak performance, the only ones who could provide that are the two men battling to succeed him. So far, neither John McCain nor Barack Obama is offering that leadership.
Really? Both? Obama isn't offering leadership? So you keep reading and discover that the brunt of the article is about how badly McCain has handled things:
First, he claimed that the economy was strong, ignoring the deep distress of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have already lost their homes. Then he called for a 9/11-style commission to study the causes of the crisis, as if there were a mystery to be solved. Over the last few days he has become a born-again populist, a stance entirely at odds with the career, as he often says, started as “a foot soldier in the Reagan revolution.”
After daily pivoting, Mr. McCain now says that the bailout being debated in Congress has to protect taxpayers, that all the money has to be spent in public and that a bipartisan board should “provide oversight.” But he offered not the slightest clue about how he would ensure that taxpayers would ever “recover” the bailout money.
Mr. McCain proposed capping executives’ pay at firms that get bailout money, a nicely punitive idea but one that does nothing to mitigate the crisis. And that is about as far as his new populism went.
What is most important is that Mr. McCain hasn’t said a word about strengthening regulation or budged one inch from his insistence on maintaining Mr. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy.
Their complaints about Obama, meanwhile, are hardly complaints:
Mr. Obama has been clearer on the magnitude and causes of the financial crisis. He has long called for robust regulation of the financial industry, and he said early on that a bailout must protect taxpayers. Mr. Obama also recognizes that the wealthy must pay more taxes or this country will never dig out of its deep financial hole. But as he does too often, Mr. Obama walked up to the edge of offering full prescriptions and stopped there.
In other words, McCain is running around with his head cut off, flip-flopping and flop-sweating all over the country, while Obama offers exactly what we need but somehow doesn't go far enough, and this, in the NY Times' mind, equals a lack of leadership from both?
Somebody get me rewrite. Please.
Bush and the Hail Mary Candidate
Gail Collins has a great graf on Bush's speech last night:
There is, in a way, a kind of talent required to tell the nation that it’s teetering on the brink of disaster in a way that makes the viewers’ attention wander. Bush’s explanation about how the rescue bill would unclog the lines of credit made the whole thing sound less important than a Liquid-Plumr commercial.
Unfortunately, she then goes off and condemns both presidential candidates — as if Barack's level-headed response to this crisis somehow equalled McCain's frenetic and sometimes desperate (and now "hail mary") response. Not sure why she does this. Is she straining for objectivity? She's a columnist; she doesn't have to be objective. Besides, as I've said often and I'll keep saying until the MSM gets it, objectivity doesn't mean stupidity. It also doesn't mean that if one side is constantly and glaringly wrong that you search for some piddly little thing the other side got wrong to balance the report. Sometimes the report is unbalanced. Sometimes, so too is the candidate.
Mark Antony in Oxford Town
Good, sad post byJoseph Romm on what people want to hear during the presidential debates and why the Dems always screw it up. It goes back to Mark Antony in the Roman Forum: “I am no orator, as Brutus is/ But — as you know me all — a plain blunt man.”
Political Quote of the Day
I assume Philip Gourevitch went to Alaska in July to write a piece about Ted Stevens' indictment and attempted comeback — a piece that was subsequently disrupted by the imbecilic vetting from the McCain vice-presidential selection committee. The result, which appears in the Sept. 22 New Yorker, is mostly about Sarah Palin.
On the plus side, Gourevitch interviewed Palin before she entered (and then, like a skittish animal, was shielded from) the national spotlight, so he's got quotes that didn't have to be run by or through or into Rick Davis. Palin is surprisingly up front about earmarks, for example, the bete noir (except for You-Know-Who) of the McCain campaign:
“The federal budget, in its various manifestations, is incredibly important to us, and congressional earmarks are one aspect of this relationship. ... There isn’t a need to aspire to live without any earmarks. The writing on the wall, though, is that times are changing. Presidential candidates have promised earmark reform, so we gotta deal with it, we gotta live with it, understanding that our senior senator, especially—he’s eighty-four years old, he is not gonna be able to serve in the Senate forever."