John McCain’s latest web video deriding Barack Obama as “The One.” This is too long to run on TV.
** BYE BYE, DENVER? Unless the chronic California budget crisis is solved in the next few days, it looks like dozens of Democratic legislators aren’t going to the Democratic national convention.
Most of them are delegates for the wrong candidate, Hillary Clinton, having gotten on board long before Barack Obama emerged. Though his emergence should not have been a shock.
It does look like Assembly Speaker Emeritus Fabian Nunez will go nonetheless. Nunez is very involved, as both a national co-chairman of the Clinton campaign and as a member of the Democrats’ national platform committee. New Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, an Obama backer, may fly over for Obama’s big acceptance speech.
** VEEPSTAKES: A TIGHT SHIP. Barack Obama is running a tight ship when it comes to his vice presidential pick. Who’s it going to be? Most of the speculation centers on Joe Biden, or maybe Evan Bayh. Or perhaps … Hillary Clinton. Or somebody else. But no one really knows.
Meanwhile, Obama’s campaign is doing a full-court press with surrogate action across the nation hitting John McCain for saying he didn’t know how many houses he and wife Cindy own. That, on top of his saying over the weekend that you have to make $5 million a year to be rich — which would mean that best-selling author Obama isn’t rich — makes him look quite out of touch in this time of economic insecurity.
So McCain’s team is hitting back, saying that at least McCain didn’t have to get help from a criminal — Chicago developer/stringpuller Tony Rezko — to buy his house(s). A TV ad is said to be in the works.
In a new ad, Barack Obama slams John McCain for giving his fundraiser, fundamentalist politician Ralph Reed, a free ride on the Jack Abramoff scandal.
** U.S. NEAR IRAQ TROOP WITHDRAWAL TIMETABLE. Secretary of State Condi Rice and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, meeting in Baghdad, have concluded part of a draft agreement for the withdrawal of US troops. As previously reported, Iraq’s foreign minister is insisting on a timeline, something which has been antithetical to both the Bush/Cheney White House and John McCain, who has called it “surrender.”
What Rice and her counterpart have come up with so far is an agreement to pull US troops out of Iraq’s cities by July 30th of next year.
If Barack Obama can’t make hay out of this, there’s something wrong.
** SCHMIDT PROFILE IN THE WASHINGTON POST. Here is an interesting profile of John McCain campaign director, and former Arnold Schwarzenegger campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, a familiar figure to NWN readers.
“I will not appear in the pages of GQ,” Schmidt declares defiantly, referring to the photo shoot on campaign hotshots that the magazine is doing for the November issue.
Salter sulks out, and Schmidt jumps up to lock the door with a loud click.
“I don’t need anyone knowing who I am,” he mutters, almost to himself. “It’s the thing I despise most about this job. I don’t want to be in GQ. I want to go home.” …
Schmidt often projects a combative partisan demeanor, but his allies insist he is no ideologue. He has referred to himself as a “raging moderate.” In fact, sources say, it bothers him to be called a protege of Rove’s, whose name became synonymous with the contentious partisan politics of the Bush era.
Schmidt’s sister, his only sibling, is gay, and he has made it clear that he is appalled by the party’s hostile attitudes toward gay rights. He urged Schwarzenegger last year to sign the California gay marriage bill, which the governor vetoed.
Friends and colleagues say he never pulls his punches with candidates. He told Schwarzenegger during his reelection bid to lose the leather coat, stop driving his gas-guzzling Hummer around the state, spend more time in Sacramento and start acting like the governor. He bluntly told McCain in June he was going to lose the election unless he brought some discipline to his campaign. …
In truth, he mentored an army of young GOP professionals who adore him. Most are fanned out among local races around the country, in the White House or working for various public officials. “The heart of all campaigns is kids in their 20s, many of whom are in the early stages of work experience, and these are concepts not taught in college, but you have to learn in the real world,” he says.
“He was like a big brother to me,” says Matt David, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger who worked for Schmidt in 2004. “He made me earn my stripes, and I’ve followed him ever since.” …
Schmidt is aware that in running campaigns, he can be intimidating. On the Schwarzenegger campaign, he stopped attending the scheduling meetings because people were afraid to talk when he was in the room. …
Schmidt says he won’t allow the campaign to get thrown off by momentary distractions and pundits shooting from the hip. To that end, he and his colleagues have developed what they jokingly call the “Dave Gergen theory of the campaign” — a metaphor for all talking heads.
Gergen, a veteran of four presidential administrations, is a frequent pundit on cable news. If senior members of the campaign disagree on a strategic move, they watch what Gergen has to say. They then do the opposite. …
“The Internet has created a wave of venom that is very disturbing,” he says of the e-mails and calls he receives. “People who run these campaigns have become targets very directly. Who needs it? …
“My happiest moment is when the plane lands in San Francisco and you have lowered enough to see the rolling green hills of Northern California,” he says, “and there is a level of happiness and joy that overcomes me. That is mirrored by the exact opposite emotion when I can see the approach to Dulles.”
** NEVADA POLL: VERY SLIGHT OBAMA EDGE. The new Reno Gazette-Journal poll by Research 2000 of battleground state Nevad shows Barack Obama with the slightest of edges over John McCain, 44% to 43%. The poll concluded last night. This despite McCain outspending Obama on TV advertising in Nevada, a situation which is about to end.
** OHIO POLL: MCCAIN BY 4. The latest Rasmussen poll shows John McCain leading Barack Obama, 45% to 41%. Other polls show a dead heat. But certainly Obama is a bit wilted in the Buckeye State, and has been for some time.
The Morning Column. OBAMA VEEPSTAKES.
Bill Clinton picked a running mate who reinforced himself. Barack Obama needs a running mate who brings what he doesn’t have.
What doesn’t Obama have? Actually, for such a talented guy, quite a lot.
He’s letting John McCain have pretty much a free ride on geopolitics. Even though the geopolitics McCain is supporting is awfully questionable.
Some numbskull gave Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili the greenlight to launch an offensive against South Ossetia. Which provided Russia with an eagerly sought pretext to shatter the Georgian military and tell the rest of the world that it’s bad and it’s back.
Now other dominoes are falling over — like maybe Russia getting a naval base in Syria — and they’re not good for the US.
In the short run, this works for McCain, because he’s the pithy war hero. But it shouldn’t. If Obama has the right running mate, he or she will explain, in a hardheaded realist way, how bad this really is for America.
It’s actually not that hard to do. If you understand the issues, how they relate with one another, and are not shy about being cogently critical.
Obama isn’t all that comfortable on the attack. Though I happen to believe he is far more of a Chicago-style gut fighter than he likes to let on.
He needs to unleash a running mate who will get up in John McCain’s grill.
Now, readers know that I like McCain and much of his team. I supported McCain for president in 2000. But he’s been getting away with a lot of stuff.
Constant misstatements and outright gaffes. Obama, for all his supposed press idolatry, couldn’t get away with all this. McCain has a ton of residual good will from his Straight Talk Express days. Which are now, evidently, over, as a result of new campaign director Steve Schmidt’s edict that he not hang endlessly with the press.
This reduces the possibility of mistakes and getting off message. But it also draws down on the good will.
Of course, the election is not that far off.
But putting aside the question of whether McCain knows the difference between Shia and Sunni — an old and repeated gaffe — and I am sure he does, just in the last few days McCain made two more big gaffes. Still underplayed by the press.
In a new ad, Barack Obama rips John McCain for not remembering how many houses he and wife Cindy own and for calling the American economy strong.
On Saturday night in Orange County — where McCain had earlier averred as how he did not know the price of gasoline as he pushed for offshore drilling to bring down the price of gasoline — he declared “rich” to be “$5 million” a year. A few days later, he said he didn’t know how many houses he and wife Cindy, a super-rich beer heiress, own.
This is the sort of stuff that the Obama campaign should slam down McCain’s throat.
His economic policies are essentially a continuation of those of President Bush. And we know how well those have played.
McCain has a great regular guy aura, from his Navy days, but he’s been on the government payroll virtually all his life. And when he wasn’t, he was doing PR for his wife’s firm.
He leads an extraordinarily privileged life. Actually, McCain is a character from an unwritten F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. He made his money the old-fashioned way; he married it.
He met a gorgeous young blonde at a party in Hawaii, pursued her and married her. And it turned out she was super-rich.
Hey, more power to him. That’s certainly part of the American Dream. But there is no question that that makes him an elitist.
Just like pretty much everybody at the highest levels of American politics.
Obama needs a running mate who can cut through all this, er, stuff.
And do those other things I mentioned.
There will be veepstakes items throughout the day.
** THAT HUGE SAN FRANCISO FUNDRAISER FOR OBAMA. It’s been more than a little underplayed, but the three-tiered Barack Obama fundraiser Sunday evening at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco is probably the biggest presidential fundraiser in California history. And the biggest in this entire campaign.
New York friends crowed over the $5 million they raised for Obama and the Democratic Party. LA friends were even more ecstatic about the $5.5 million they raised.
The Bay Area rolled in with $7.8 million.
Former California state Controller Steve Westly, the ex-eBay honcho who is now one of Silicon Valley’s top greentech venture capitalists, emceed the affair. He’s one of Obama’s earliest and biggest supporters, the Democratic nominee’s first California co-chair and a national finance co-chair of the campaign.
Westly introduced rock legends Jackson Browne — busy suing the McCain and the Republican Party for using one of his songs (“Runnin’ On Empty”) in Ohio without permission — and Graham Nash. And wondered how many in the crowd, which was a tad on the younger, techy side, were really that familiar with them.
But they were a hit, nonetheless.
As was the event. Nearly $8 million at a San Francisco fundraiser. Take that, New York and LA.
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Barack Obama is in Virginia, with town halls in Chester and Chesapeake.
John McCain is off the trail.
Hillary Clinton is campaigning for Obama in battleground Florida.
Remember that name, Hillary Clinton.
** DARK KNIGHT AMERICA. My latest column. All the hyperpartisan spin aside, here is where we are in a deeper cultural sense. The Dark Knight ends up in much the same place we find ourselves today. Bereft of a clearcut hero. Having narrowly survived a fundamental assault against our essential selves. And wondering what comes next. … From my new Huffington Post column.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger holds private meetings in and around the Capitol on the chronic state budget crisis. He has no scheduled public events.
** EIGHT KEY THINGS TO KNOW, AND ONE BIG QUESTION, ABOUT RUSSIA V. GEORGIA. Russian politics is very tough. While I’m no expert, I’ve followed it for many years. In 1994, when the State Department placed a former top aide to then President Boris Yeltsin with me for several weeks as he moved around the country learning American politics, I remember that he spent much of his time on the phone to Moscow, trying to deal with physical attacks on his reformist friends.
Moscow is not such a Wild West under Vladimir Putin, whose KGB expertise has led to consolidation, but aggressiveness is a major factor in its politics. Which brings us to the debacle of Russia v. Georgia. While the politicians talk through their hats about what they’re going to “do,” here are eight key things to know — and one big question — about the Russia-Georgia War. …
So what does it all mean? It means that most of what you’re hearing from the politicians in America is just rhetoric. And that Russia has scored a big win. Let’s see if it can avoid turning it into a loss. … From my other blog on the Huffington Post.
** 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. After crashing over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, crude oil is trading around $121 per barrel.
The drop of over $26 per barrel comes on acknowledgement that the weak US economy will cut future demand and the easing of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. The Russian war with Georgia, confounding much speculation and reporting to the contrary, actually decreased the geopolitical risk premium.
But oil is trading up somewhat as Russia makes an apparent move on the Middle East, reacting to the proposed American missile shield, discussed yesterday on NWN.
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