John McCain’s campaign touts this former Democratic convention delegate in a new TV ad which is apparently airing nowhere other than the cable shows which choose to play it.
** DEMS’ OPENING NIGHT. A very good speech by Michelle Obama, following Caroline Kennedy’s remarks to the convention, the Ken Burns documentary, and the semi-surprise appearance of Senator Ted Kennedy.
Michelle Obama, the likely next first lady, gave a strong and appealing speech. She looked great, sounded sympathetic, and gave the lie to our friends on the far right with their constant trope that she is an angry anti-American.
What did not happen tonight was the politically necessary definition of John McCain as a third term for George W. Bush. That’s not how the Western senator sees it, naturally, but given the tenor of his now relentlessly negative campaign, he should not be surprised by how he is portrayed.
This was more of a party unity night — the Kennedys, and many tears — and a definitional night for the Obamas and their cute kids. Incidentally, I’ve heard a lot from folks on the far right about the demonization of Michelle Obama, how she supposedly hates America, was a bad writer at Princeton, yada yada.
But these are folks who said that this would be Jimmy Carter Night in Denver. (Clue: He’s not there, and in any event, is far more popular than Dick Cheney.) And have gone on and on about a fantasy version of Michelle Obama and her purported “whitey” comments that was actually taken from a very bad novel.
More to come, along with a column tomorrow on how Team McCain is trying to counter-program the DNC — and itself.
Michelle Obama: And you know, what struck me when I first met Barack was that even though he had this funny name, even though he’d grown up all the way across the continent in Hawaii, his family was so much like mine. He was raised by grandparents who were working class folks just like my parents, and by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills just like we did. Like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities they never had themselves. And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.
And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children – and all children in this nation – to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.
** FROM CAROLINE KENNEDY’S REMARKS INTRODUCING TED KENNEDY. I am here tonight to pay tribute to two men who have changed my life and the life of this country: Barack Obama and Edward M. Kennedy. Their stories are very different, but they share a commitment to the timeless American ideals of justice and fairness, service and sacrifice, faith and family. …
Everywhere I go in this country, people tell me that Barack Obama is making them feel hopeful the way they did when my father was president. It’s partly the words he uses—words that remind us that we are all in this together and that we each have something to contribute to this country that has given us so much. But it’s the life he has led that is the true source of this inspiration—a life spent fighting for ordinary people in neighborhoods and courts, in the state senate and the United States Senate.
I have never had someone inspire me the way people tell me my father inspired them, but I do now, Barack Obama. And I know someone else who’s been inspired all over again by Senator Obama. In our family, he’s known as Uncle Teddy. More than any senator of his generation, or perhaps any generation, Teddy has made life better for people in this country and around the world.
For 46 years, he has been so much more than just a senator for the people of Massachusetts. He’s been a senator for all who believe in a dream that’s never died. …
Not only has Teddy helped put the American dream within reach for so many families, he’s been a powerful force around the world for human rights and human dignity, for refugees and the dispossessed. He helped end apartheid in South Africa and bring peace to Northern Ireland. He’s been a leader on nuclear arms control. And he took a strong, early and courageous stand against the war in Iraq.
He is a man who always insists that America live up to her highest ideals, who always fights for what he knows is right and who is always there for others. I’ve seen it in my own life. No matter how busy he is, he never fails to find time for those in pain, those in grief or those who just need a hug. In our family, he has never missed a first communion, a graduation, or a chance to walk one of his nieces down the aisle.
He has a special relationship with each of us. And his 60 great nieces and nephews all know that the best cookies and the best laughs are always found at Uncle Teddy’s. Whether he is teaching us about sailing, about the Senate or about life, he has shown us how to chart our course, take the helm and sail against the wind. And this summer, as he faced yet another challenge, he and Vicki have taught us all about dignity, courage and the power of love.
In this campaign, Barack Obama has no greater champion. When he is president, he will have no stronger partner in the United States Senate. Now, it is my honor to introduce a tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
** OBAMA ASSASSINATION PLOT? Colorado police will discuss tomorrow the arrest of two men with high-powered rifles and sniper scopes — and methamphetamine — who may have planned to assassinate Democratic presidential frontrunner Barack Obama.
This, of course, is the nightmare scenario with regard to the first black man to get within hailing distance of winning the White House. And the negativity and hatred being whipped up around him.
** “STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES.” So we are many hours on from the announcement from the Iraqi government that it has secured an agreement from the US to withdraw its troops by the end of 2011. And, you know, it’s not a big story in the nitwit blogosphere and ADD cable news cycle.
This, actually, does not surprise me. But it does tell us a lot about the new media cycle. Which is quite like the old media cycle. Just faster. But certainly not smarter.
** COLORADO POLL: OBAMA BY 5. The new Suffolk University poll of battleground state Colorado has Barack Obama leading John McCain, 44% to 39%. Colorado is a key takeaway opportunity for the Democrats in the presidential race.
In fact, that is why the Democratic national convention is in Denver.
** CALIFORNIA LEGISLATIVE DEMOCRATS OUT OF THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION. Assembly Speaker Karen Bass has just called session for Wednesday and Thursday. Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata had previously announced that he would have the state Senate in session.
Assembly Democrats, who have not effectively grappled with the chronic state budget crisis yet, had toyed with rolling over to Denver, where many of them are delegates. Albeit mostly for defeated candidate Hillary Clinton. But it didn’t look like a good idea. Especially since they were going to be drawing per diem payments for the week …
** GET YOUR ANTONIO BOBBLEHEAD. I’m told he’s not running for governor of California in 2010, but there is a bobblehead of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — one of four national chairs of the defeated Hillary Clinton for President campaign — on sale at the Democratic national convention in Denver.
Villaraigosa, incidentally, is not speaking to the convention. There’s a story behind this, naturally, and we’ll get to it on NWN …
** HILLARY CLINTON RELEASING HER DELEGATES. Let me repeat yesterday afternoon’s item, which the AP later picked up on.
According to a well-informed source, Hillary Clinton is releasing her delegates from their pledge to vote for her at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Clinton herself, as a super-delegate, will be voting for Barack Obama.
So much for a much bandied-about fantasy of a close vote between Obama and Clinton.
The Morning Column: MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
With the highest-rated Olympics in television history over, and political nerds pretending that voters were really paying attention to politics, the first of two back-to-back national conventions/infomercials begins.
The Democrats convene today in Denver, with Barack Obama up an eyelash in the polls over where he was a week ago. Meanwhile, I’m-not-a-celebrity John McCain appears once again tonight on The Tonight Show. We’ll see how Jay handles the question of how many houses McCain’s super-rich wife Cindy owns. I think this guy has been on Leno more than Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Anyway, a big week for Obama and his new vice president, Senate Foreign Relations chairman Joe Biden. Following Biden’s totally unsurprising Saturday roll-out, they won’t appear together again until Thursday night, when Obama addresses a crowd of 80,000 at Denver’s football stadium. The pair drew a crowd of 35,000 in sweltering Springfield, Illinois, on Saturday.
Meanwhile, as you see below, Obama is in battleground Iowa today. Yesterday he was in Wisconsin. Later in the week, he goes to Missouri, Montana, and Colorado.
For his part, McCain is pursuing a twofold strategy. Distract. And detract. I’ll explain it all in a forthcoming column.
The fundamentals in this race have not changed for the better for McCain. And with the Iraqi government announcing that it has agreed to a timeline for US withdrawal from Iraq — with the Bush/Cheney White House — the news has gotten worse for the Republican candidate. See my flash item below.
While McCain was right about the Iraq surge, the war remains quite unpopular and his hardcore stance against a withdrawal timeline looks like an outlier opinion.
So he is left with an essentially negative campaign. Which he has been executing rather well since our old NWN friend Steve Schmidt took over as campaign director. Notwithstanding his other big-name client, Arnold Schwarzenegger — whose endorsement was a key clincher for McCain’s primary campaign — uttering various dissents with the McCain campaign’s oil policy.
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Barack Obama is in Iowa. He has a “One Nation” town hall meeting in Davenport. That’s a new theme, by the way.
John McCain is in Arizona and California. He appears, once again, on The Tonight Show in California. McCain has a press conference at a high school in Phoenix. He has private fundraisers in Sacramento and Los Angeles. And he tapes his latest Jay Leno appearance in Burbank. No other candidate has more late nigth show appearances than McCain. Can you say “celebrity?”
** “NEW COLD WAR” LEAVES VOTERS COOL BUT SHOWS OBAMA’S NEED. Given how tentative Barack Obama is in discussing geopolitics, his running mate is unusually important. But there’s some good news for Obama with regard to John McCain’s New Cold War rhetoric. If he and his team can engage successfully with the Vietnam War hero.
McCain’s hot rhetoric in the wake of the Russia-Georgia War — “We are all Georgians,” which of course hasn’t done a thing for Georgians — isn’t catching on. But McCain is still seen as the national security/geopolitics maven.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin’s plans are working and there are some bad repercussions for US policy coming down the pike. After a visit to Moscow by Syria’s president, Russia may be getting a naval base in Syria. And sending a task force with an aircraft carrier and subs to the Mediterranean, all the better to bollix up US strategy in the Middle East. And oil power Kazakhstan, not to be confused with the Borat fantasy, is moving under Moscow’s umbrella. … Friday’s column from my HuffPost blog.
** DARK KNIGHT AMERICA. 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 other blog.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Sacramento, where he will have private conversations in and around the Capitol, mostly centering on the chronic California budget crisis.
His recuperation from athroscopic knee surgery for a workout injury is proceeding without a hitch. So to speak.
** 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 $114 per barrel.
The drop of over $33 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. Though the repercussions may not.
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