Michelle Obama, appearing last night at the Democratic National Convention, sans horns.
** HILLARY SAVES THE DAY FOR THE DEMS. Although the Democratic convention’s secondary speakers picked it up some today in crafting the “contrast” with John McCain, they were largely ignored by the press and the ever-chattering talking heads of cable news.
And after former Virginia Governor Mark Warner’s keynote address, it appeared that half the convention might pass with McCain escaping unscathed.
Warner ran for awhile for president before dropping out to take on a sure shot election in November replacing Virginia’s retiring senator, John Warner. Mark Warner gave a speech about the future vs. the past, and pushed a post-partisan theme. Now, readers now that the future vs. the past them is right up my alley. And I’ve certainly written a lot about post-partisanship.
But this is a party convention. In a time when the Republican brand is in the dumpster. There’s not much risk in wrapping it around John McCain like a toga. And even if one is not a union hall firebreather, which Warner certainly is not, you can take the future/past frame, select several 60% issues, and make your opponents look like the most backward characters imaginable. And devastate them with independents. All with a smile.
Warner didn’t do that. Before he was done, I was reading a recap of Mad Men.
Which put the success of the day all on Hillary Clinton. Who delivered. She did what a keynoter is supposed to do. What Obama himself did four years ago, though not so eloquently.
Clinton defined the nature of the choice in ways appealing to moderates and independents as well as partisan Democrats. And she took out after her old friend, John McCain.
Of course, there is one big caveat here, as my old friend and colleague Marc Cooper points out. The reason Hillary had to make this speech is because she kept fighting on for months after she had no realistic scenario for victory, stoking the sort of bitter end sentiments that allow McCain to have a shot at winning.
Here are some excerpts.
I am honored to be here tonight. A proud mother. A proud Democrat. A proud American. And a proud supporter of Barack Obama. …
No way. No how. No McCain. …
Now, John McCain is my colleague and my friend. He has served our country with honor and courage. But we don’t need four more years . . . of the last eight years.
More economic stagnation …and less affordable health care.
More high gas prices …and less alternative energy.
More jobs getting shipped overseas …and fewer jobs created here.
More skyrocketing debt …home foreclosures …and mounting bills that are crushing our middle class families.
More war . . . less diplomacy.
More of a government where the privileged come first …and everyone else comes last.
John McCain says the economy is fundamentally sound. John McCain doesn’t think that 47 million people without health insurance is a crisis. John McCain wants to privatize Social Security. And in 2008, he still thinks it’s okay when women don’t earn equal pay for equal work.
With an agenda like that, it makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities. Because these days they’re awfully hard to tell apart.
** INDIANA POLL: MCCAIN BY 4. The latest Rasmussen poll of unlikely battleground state Indiana shows John McCain leading Barack Obama, 46% to 42%.
** CALIFORNIA POLL: OBAMA BY 14. The latest Rasmussen poll of blue state California shows Barack Obama way ahead of John McCain, 51% to 37%.
The two politicians’ image scores don’t give McCain much room for growth. Obama is 61-39, favorable/unfavorable. McCain is 51-48, favorable/unfavorable.
** NEW MAC ATTACK ADS NOT REALLY RUNNING. As I suggested in my new column, linked to below, most of these new John McCain TV ads aren’t really running anywhere. According to the Wall Street Journal, a media tracking service checked the buying of air time and calls the new ads “video press releases.”
** DISTRACT AND DETRACT: MCCAIN COUNTER-PROGRAMS THE D.N.C., AND HIMSELF. My new column.
** THE CLINTON MELODRAMA. Now for more of that hardy media perennial, the melodrama around the Clintons. Hillary speaks tonight at the convention, along with the ostensible keynoters, former Virginia Governor Mark Warner. While there are hard feelings between the Obama and Clinton camps, she has, as I reported over the weekend, released her delegates. There won’t be a full roll call tonight. She’ll concede at a certain point, and that will be that.
Meanwhile, two big Clinton backers spoke to the California delegation meeting this morning — Ohio Governor Ted Strickland (whose support was key to Clinton winning the Ohio primary and is key to Obama winning the state in November, and New York Governor David Paterson. Their big message? Unity and moving forward with Obama.
** SCHWARZENEGGER OPENS SMALL PATH THROUGH BILLS BLOCKADE. As part of his pressure tactics on a recalcitrant Legislature around the chronic California budget crisis, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger instituted a bills blockade, insisting he won’t sign new legislation till the budget is done. This morning, he opened up a small path through his blockade, for a a few select issues that need to go on the November ballot.
Writing to the four legislative leaders, Schwarzenegger said: The deadline for enacting measures for the November 2008 ballot is upon us. Any measures that must be placed on the November ballot must be acted on quickly. There are four measures that fall into this category: a measure that makes critical changes to the high-speed rail bond already slated to appear on the November ballot; a measure to allow the state to improve the performance of the Lottery, which is critical to the budget negotiations now underway; legislation to establish a rainy-day fund and reform our budget process; and a general obligation bond measure to address the mounting state’s water crisis. I urge you to send me these measures that must be placed on the November ballot immediately.
** QUINNIPIAC POLLS: SPLIT DECISIONS IN BATTLEGROUND STATES. The new Quinnipiac polls of three key battleground states — Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida — contains mixed tidings for both Barack Obama and John McCain, and signs of slippage for Obama. Since 1960, no one has been elected president without winning two of these trhee states.
Obama had the lead in all three states at the end of July. That’s changed. In Pennsylvania, it’s Obama, 49-42 (Obama’s lead holding steady there). In Ohio, it’s Obama by an eyelash, 44-43. In Florida, it’s McCain, 47-43.
Voters in all three states say they want a Democratic president. But they have doubt about Obama. And they still see McCain as more than a regular Republican.
It will be interesting to see if the hits on McCain start coming today at the Democratic national convention. That was the missing element in last night’s presentation.
The Quinnipiac poll director comments: “Sen. Obama needs to close the sale with voters who want a Democrat, but because of Sen. McCain’s strength at this point, they don’t want this Democrat,” said Brown. “Much of the reason for this disparity is that Sen. McCain is drawing support from voters who say they don’t want a Republican in the White House.
“In fact, McCain is running an average of 9 percentage points ahead of the ‘generic Republican.’ Whether this reflects Obama’s weakness or McCain’s strength, the effect has been to make a close race out of a campaign many initially expected to be an easy Democratic win.
“If Obama picked Sen. Joseph Biden to solidify his foreign affairs credentials, he did so with good reason. By wide margins voters – even some Obama supporters – trust McCain more to handle terrorism and international problems. By smaller margins, Obama still is viewed as best able to fix the economy, which voters overwhelmingly see as the most important issue in the election.”
“The electorate is split by gender and age. The gender gap is not new; Democrats have been winning among women and losing men for decades. But it’s larger than in some recent elections and that is because of the white vote – since Obama is going to get virtually all the African American vote, male or female. But the large age gap is new. This could be the first generational election in recent history.”
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Barack Obama is in Missouri. He holds a discussion at a town hall on domestic policy in Kansas City.
John McCain is in Arizona and California. He addresses the American Legion convention in Phoenix and has a fundraiser in San Diego.
Ted Kennedy, introduced by his niece Caroline Kennedy, made a dramatic appearance last night at the Democratic National Convention.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will private meetings and discussions in and around the Capitol today, focusing on the chronic California budget crisis. He appeared yesterday at John McCain’s Sacramento fundraiser, but did not speak or take questions.
First Lady Maria Shriver is in Denver for the Democratic national convention, prominently shown on-screen when her great friend Caroline Kennedy introduced their uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy.
Schwarzenegger is scheduled to be the first speaker in prime time opening next week’s Republican national convention in St. Paul. But if the state budget has not been adopted, he won’t be going, even though next Monday is Labor Day and the Legislature will almost certainly not be in session.
** “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.
** 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 $116 per barrel.
The drop of over $31 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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