Barack Obama’s positive closer ad. “Something’s happening in America … endorsed by Warren Buffett and Colin Powell.”
** ABC NEWS/WASHPOST NATIONAL TRACK: OBAMA BY 8. The new daily tracking poll shows only the slightest slip in the race, with Barack Obama leading John McCain, 52% to 44%. President Bush is a major drag on McCain.
** DEMOCRATS: THE NEW WESTERN STRATEGY IS PAYING OFF. From my new column.
** THE ECONOMIST ENDORSES OBAMA. The classic center-right magazine The Economist endorses Barack Obama in the issue hitting newsstands tomorrow.
IT IS impossible to forecast how important any presidency will be. Back in 2000 America stood tall as the undisputed superpower, at peace with a generally admiring world. The main argument was over what to do with the federal government’s huge budget surplus. Nobody foresaw the seismic events of the next eight years. When Americans go to the polls next week the mood will be very different. The United States is unhappy, divided and foundering both at home and abroad. Its self-belief and values are under attack.
For all the shortcomings of the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama offer hope of national redemption. Now America has to choose between them. The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence. But we acknowledge it is a gamble. Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead. …
The Candidate McCain of the past six months has too often seemed the victim of political sorcery, his good features magically inverted, his bad ones exaggerated. The fiscal conservative who once tackled Mr Bush over his unaffordable tax cuts now proposes not just to keep the cuts, but to deepen them. The man who denounced the religious right as “agents of intolerance” now embraces theocratic culture warriors. The campaigner against ethanol subsidies (who had a better record on global warming than most Democrats) came out in favour of a petrol-tax holiday. It has not all disappeared: his support for free trade has never wavered. Yet rather than heading towards the centre after he won the nomination, Mr McCain moved to the right.
Meanwhile his temperament, always perhaps his weak spot, has been found wanting. Sometimes the seat-of-the-pants method still works: his gut reaction over Georgia—to warn Russia off immediately—was the right one. Yet on the great issue of the campaign, the financial crisis, he has seemed all at sea, emitting panic and indecision. Mr McCain has never been particularly interested in economics, but, unlike Mr Obama, he has made little effort to catch up or to bring in good advisers (Doug Holtz-Eakin being the impressive exception).
The choice of Sarah Palin epitomised the sloppiness. It is not just that she is an unconvincing stand-in, nor even that she seems to have been chosen partly for her views on divisive social issues, notably abortion. Mr McCain made his most important appointment having met her just twice.
Ironically, given that he first won over so many independents by speaking his mind, the case for Mr McCain comes down to a piece of artifice: vote for him on the assumption that he does not believe a word of what he has been saying. …
There is no getting around the fact that Mr Obama’s résumé is thin for the world’s biggest job. But the exceptionally assured way in which he has run his campaign is a considerable comfort. It is not just that he has more than held his own against Mr McCain in the debates. A man who started with no money and few supporters has out-thought, out-organised and outfought the two mightiest machines in American politics—the Clintons and the conservative right.
Political fire, far from rattling Mr Obama, seems to bring out the best in him: the furore about his (admittedly ghastly) preacher prompted one of the most thoughtful speeches of the campaign. On the financial crisis his performance has been as assured as Mr McCain’s has been febrile. He seems a quick learner and has built up an impressive team of advisers, drawing in seasoned hands like Paul Volcker, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. Of course, Mr Obama will make mistakes; but this is a man who listens, learns and manages well.
It is hard too nowadays to depict him as soft when it comes to dealing with America’s enemies. Part of Mr Obama’s original appeal to the Democratic left was his keenness to get American troops out of Iraq; but since the primaries he has moved to the centre, pragmatically saying the troops will leave only when the conditions are right. His determination to focus American power on Afghanistan, Pakistan and proliferation was prescient. He is keener to talk to Iran than Mr McCain is— but that makes sense, providing certain conditions are met. …
This cannot be another election where the choice is based merely on fear. In terms of painting a brighter future for America and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent. Whether he can fulfill his immense potential remains to be seen. But Mr Obama deserves the presidency.
** THE RECESSSION BEGAN IN THE SUMMER. According to the US Commerce Dept., the American economy, contrary to much denial on the right, actually began a recession over the summer. During the third quarter of the year. the US gross domestic product contracted by 0.3%. This followed 2.8% growth in the spring, some of it prompted by a government stimulus program.
This means the economy was already in the tank before the epic financial crisis which has gripped global attention, not to mention the global economy.
The US economy is expected to contract further in this quarter, with the advent of the crisis.
** INDIANA POLL: OBAMA BY 1. In this brand new Indianapolis Star poll of deep red state Indiana, Barack Obama has the slightest of edges over John McCain, 46% to 45%. It’s young voters and black voters against evangelical voters.
** NATIONAL JOURNAL RED STATE BATTLEGROUND POLLS: EDGE FOR OBAMA. The National Journal polls of five red states shows Barack Obama with an edge over John McCain in each. Colorado, 48-44. Florida, 45-44. North Carolina, 47-43. Ohio, 48-41. Virginia, 48-44.
** TV AD WARS. Barack Obama, as the frontrunner, has two closer ads which begin running on Friday. The positive uplift version, seen above, and the he’s-backward-looking-and-a-continuation-of-Bush version, seen below.
Incidentally, I believe that President Bush is the first president in history never to make a public campaign appearance in the general election on behalf of any of his party’s candidates for any office.
John McCain, who is trailing, is still all negative in his advertising. His latest, which tries to tie Obama to Islamic jihadists, is seen below.
** COMING UP LATER TODAY … COLUMNS ON THE RESOLVING CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS AND THE DEMOCRATS’ WESTERN STRATEGY.
Barack Obama’s 30-minute infomercial aired last night on TV nets around the US.
** TIME MAGAZINE/CNN BATTLEGROUND STATE POLLS: OBAMA LEADS IN NEVADA, NORTH CAROLINA, OHIO, AND PENNSYLVANIA. The new Time/CNN polls of more key battleground states show Barack Obama ahead of John McCain. Here are the numbers. Pennsylvania: Obama 55, McCain 43. North Carolina: Obama 52, McCain 46. Nevada: Obama 52, McCain 45. Ohio: Obama 51, McCain 47.
** FIELD POLL: CALIFORNIA LANDSLIDE FOR OBAMA SEEN BIGGER THAN REAGAN WINS. The new Field Poll of California likely voters shows Barack Obama ahead of John McCain, 55% to 33%. This is the biggest pre-election lead for any candidate since World War II. Ronald Reagan’s leads in the Golde State were smaller than this.
Sarah Palin is very popular with Republican voters. Very unpopular with Democrats, of course. And equally unpopular with independents.
Barack Obama’s negative closer ad, “Rearview Mirror,” lashes John McCain to the mast of the economic policies of President Bush.
** TV AD WARS: MCCAIN TAKES HIS LAST SHOT(S). For all the rumor-mongering about Obama as a “Manchurian candidate,” there is no silver bullet to defeat the vampire that haunts the nightmares of the far right. Reality is dawning. … From Tuesday’s column.
John McCain’s new TV ad holds out the prospect that Barack Obama would agree with the Islamic jihadist agenda of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Barack Obama is in Sarasota, Florida, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Columbia, Missouri.
Joe Biden is in Arnold, Missouri and Williamsport and Allentown, Pennslvania.
John McCain is in Defiance, Sandusky, Elyria, and Mentor, Ohio.
Sarah Palin is in Cape Girardeau, Missouri and Erie and Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appears in downtown Los Angeles this morning to announce creation of the bipartisan Commission on the 21st Century Economy that will address California’s chronic budget crisis and modernize our state’s tax laws.
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass of LA joins in for this event, which will be webcast live at 11:05 AM on www.gov.ca.gov.
The former action superstar also holds three campaign events today.
At 10:30 AM, he has a No on 5 event in downtown LA with former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown, former Governor Pete Wilson, former Governor Gray Davis, former Governor George Deukmejian, LA District Attorney Steve Cooley, former eBay CEO and McCain campaign national co-chair Meg Whitman, and various law enforcement officials from around the state. Proposition 5 would decriminalize various drug crimes. Opponents say it would also shorten parole for methamphetamine dealers and let drug dealers out of prison sooner.
At 1:30 PM, Schwarzenegger gives a speech boosting Proposition 11, the redistricting reform initiative he chairs, in Universal City.
At 3:30 PM, Schwarzenegger holds a virtual town hall meeting on Prop 11 with leaders of AARP and other reform groups.
** GLOBAL OBAMA: BIG OPPORTUNITIES, BIGGER CHALLENGES. If he wins, Obama will have the global popularity that no American president has had in a great many years. But what sort of challenges will counter the global opportunity that an Obama presidency might afford America? … From my Friday column.
** INSIDE THE “BRADLEY EFFECT.” Barack Obama has won all three presidential debates over John McCain. He has a solid lead in the polls. What could go wrong for him? Well, many say the polls could be wrong, skewed by a hidden racist vote.
The “Bradley effect” — the notion that white voters lie to pollsters when a black candidate is in the race — has become widely known. But what you think you know from the campaign that gave rise to the phrase, then Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley’s ultimately near-miss race for governor of California in 1982, isn’t so.
I was in the middle of that, doing opposition research for Bradley’s campaign. I vividly recall election day that November, as reports from the exit polling done by California’s leading polling organization, the Field Poll, circulated. It seemed that Bradley, the first black mayor of Los Angeles, was headed for a big win as California’s first black governor. … From my recent Huffington Post column.
** 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.
** SCHWARZENEGGER’S CALIFORNIA. Here is my series of five columns on the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Los Angeles Times in debate with Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times reporter/editor Bill Boyarsky, whose columns are also included.
Among them is what I’m sure is the first piece examining Schwarzenegger’s legacy as governor of California. Since he will actually be governor of California until 2011. No technology known to be disruptive to the space/time continuum was used in its preparation.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL 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 down again in the $66 to $67 per barrel range.
The drop of over $81 per barrel since the record high three months ago comes on acknowledgment that the weak US economy will cut future demand and on the easing of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. It is clear that that, contrary to much chatter, neither the US nor Israel is about to launch a strike against Iran. And the Russian war with Georgia, confounding much speculation and reporting to the contrary, actually decreased the geopolitical risk premium in the oil market.
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