Barack Obama addressed more than 200,000 people yesterday in Berlin.
** MCCAIN MEETS WITH THE DALAI LAMA. After a tough speech to the Latino-oriented GI Forum convention in Denver knocking Barack Obama for opposing the surge in Iraq, John McCain met for 45 minutes in Aspen with the Dalai Lama. While the famed spiritual leader is not urging Tibetan Buddhists in the US to vote for McCain, which would be a rather worldly act on their part, he and McCain share a common goal of building pressure on China to gain autonomy, if not independence, for Tibet.
The Dalai Lama, wearing his traditional robes as a monk, presented the Vietnam War hero with a white silk scarf, a sign of respect.
John Ackerly, president of the International Campaign for Tibet, said McCain had requested the meeting months ago, and that while they had never met, the two had spoken by phone. “And the Dalai Lama doesn’t talk on the phone very often,” Ackerly said.
** SIX REASONS MCCAIN’S LUCKY HE DIDN’T MAKE IT ON THAT OIL RIG. From my other blog.
** NEW MEXICO POLL: OBAMA BY 6. The new Rasmussen poll has Barack Obama leading John McCain in battleground New Mexico, 49% to 43%.
** MINNESOTA POLL: OBAMA BY 13. The new Rasmussen poll (owned and operated by Republican Scott Rasmussen) has Barack Obama leading John McCain in Minnesota, 52% to 39%. This is as expected. There was a poll earlier in the week of a few battleground states, conducted over a lengthy period of time by Quinnipiac, thus with stale numbers, showing a very close race in Minnesota.
** CALIFORNIA POLL: ECONOMIC MOOD TURNS GRIM(MER). For the first time in nearly 50 years of polling, a majority of California voters tell the Field Poll that their financial circumstances have taken a turn for the worse in the past year. 63% say they are worse off now than a year ago. Only 14%, a record low, say they are better off. The previous low for that figure was 25%.
86% say California is in bad economic times, a 34-point increase since December. Only 8% say California is in good economic times.
** NATIONAL POLL: BRING TROOPS HOME FROM IRAQ IN A YEAR. A new Rasmussen poll shows that 63% of US voters want American combat troops withdrawn from Iraq now or in a year’s time. That is significantly faster than the timelines advanced by Barack Obama and the Iraqi government.
The number in favor of a rapid US withdrawal from Iraq has consistently been around 60% since the polling on this question began in August 2007.
Within that 63% of American voters who favor a rapid withdrawal from Iraq, two-fifths want the troops withdrawn “immediately.” Which is, of course, impossible. That’s 24% of the US electorate.
Only 35% of American voters want US troops to stay in Iraq “until the mission is completed.”
** REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATES SHYING FROM NATIONAL CONVENTION? It seems that 9 of the 12 Republicans running in U.S. Senate races targeted by the Democrats may be shying away from attendance at September’s Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
According to the National Journal’s Congress Daily: Among those who will not attend are Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, who is not close to presumptive presidential nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is a McCain loyalist. Stevens and Collins will use the convention week to focus on their campaigns. Also sending regrets is former Rep. Bob Schaffer of Colorado, running for the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Wayne Allard.
Six others — Sens. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, John Sununu of New Hampshire, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Gordon Smith of Oregon and challengers John Kennedy of Louisiana and Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico are still on the fence. Their spokesmen offered responses ranging from “there are no plans yet” to “no decisions have been made.”
By contrast, most Democrats in those races are either planning to attend the party’s late August convention in Denver or are leaning toward attending the event that will formally make Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois the party’s nominee for president.
** SARKOZY EMBRACE OF OBAMA NO REAL SURPRISE. Conservative French President Nicolas Sarkozy didn’t quite endorse Barack Obama during their very friendly joint appearance today, but he came awfully close.
“Obviously,” said the French president hailed by the American right upon his election, “one is interested in a candidate looking toward the future rather than the past. We say ‘good luck’ to Barack Obama. If he is chosen then France will be delighted. And if it is someone else then France will be the friend of the United States.”
That sounds a lot like an endorsement.
Sarkozy went on in this vein.
“We have been following with passion the election campaign in the United States. Barack Obama’s America is an adventure that rings true in the hearts of our people.”
Sarkozy and Obama called one another “dear friend” and “buddy” at various points during their joint appearance this morning following an hour-long private meeting in the Elysee Palace.
Many on the American right must be going … Huh?
Sarkozy, after all, was the interior minister who cracked down on rioters earlier in the decade. The interior minister who was adamant that French culture not be overwhelmed by an encroaching culture advanced by Islamic immigrants. And John McCain frequently cites Sarkozy on the campaign trail.
Yet here he is embracing Obama, a figure that many on the far right of American politics have convinced themselves is a sort of “Manchurian candidate” out to undermine and ultimately destroy Western civilization. Thus showing they have never seen the movie, incidentally.
I’m not surprised at all by this. Yes, Sarkozy opposed radical Islamic elements in France. And in the context of French politics — he defeated the glamorous Socialist Segolene Royal for the presidency of France in May 2007 — he is a conservative.
But in America, he might be a Democrat. Or an Arnold Republican.
And in France, Obama might be a Conservative.
Or he might be, as Tony Blair was and is in Britain, a modernizer of the left-of-center party. Obama, incidentally, is about to meet privately with the former British prime minister.
Before casting Obama in the ranks of the (relative) right, a bit more on Sarkozy. He made it plain in his election campaign that he would champion efforts to cut the emission of greenhouse gases. As I pointed out at the time. This is an issue that the American right still denies.
Although not John McCain, the scarcely remembered man of the week. Who Sarkozy also likes. Just not as much as he likes Obama.
As Obama pointed out, after he was elected to the Senate in 2004, Sarkozy came to Washington while still France’s interior minister, and a controversial one at that on the left. He met privately, as Obama noted this morning, with only two senators. Obama and McCain.
“So if you want to see the way things are going, watch what President Sarkozy does,” Obama said, with an amused smile toward his friend.
For his part, in a striking interview in this morning’s Le Figaro, Sarkozy exclaimed: “Obama? He’s my pal. Unlike my diplomatic advisors, I never believed in Hillary Clinton’s chances. I always said that Obama would be nominated.”
An Obama victory, he said, “would validate” his stance of friendship with America.
Obama also, for all their evident chemistry and an undeniable certain ideological simpatico, suits Sarkozy’s purpose in trying to unify his own country, riven as it is in ways by racial strife. Though as he noted in today’s press conference — in answer to a question from CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in which she pointed out that he had called rioters “scum” while interior minister — the streets have been peaceful during his presidency.
After Paris, Obama is off to London, where he will meet, as I mentioned, with Tony Blair, as well as Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Tories’ moderate young Opposition Leader, David Cameron.
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Barack Obama is in France and Britain. He meets with President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris and holds a press conference. He then flies to London.
John McCain is in Denver and Aspen, Colorado. He addresses the American GI Forum and meets with the Dalai Lama.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will join Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg live via satellite in St. Paul, Minnesota at noon to deliver remarks at the Building America’s Future Coalition tour.
Schwarzenegger, Rendell and Bloomberg all co-chair the Building America’s Future coalition which highlights the need for more federal investment in infrastructure.
Schwarzenegger was to have joined the other two yesterday in New Orleans and today in St. Paul, but cancelled due to the chronic California budget crisis. He will address the US Olympic team at San Jose State University this afternoon.
** MCCAIN TRIES TO COUNTER-PROGRAM A WAVE. You know, Obama’s new flood of foreign policy cred. Resulting in a somewhat confusing, rather sulky, kitchen sink approach. With full analysis of the two new anti-Obama attack ads, first of the general election. One is arguable. The other is preposterous. From my other blog.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, which I know as a former DemRussia advisor, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND U.S. ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Crude oil is trading now in the $123 to $125 per barrel range. After crashing over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, crude oil closed down on Friday at $128.88 per barrel. The drop of over $20 per barrel came amidst multiple signs that the weak US economy will cut future demand and fresh signs of a rapprochement between the US and Iran.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.