In January 2008, former President Bill Clinton lit into then Senator Barack Obama, calling the Obama narrative “a big fairy tale.” Tonight he delivers the speech formally nominating Obama for a second term as president of the United States.
** QUICK HITS. Not a great moment for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he chaired the Democratic National Convention and called for a voice vote on last minute amendments to return mention of God and support for the hotly disputed city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to the party platform. Actually, he called three voice votes, none of which seemed to meet the requirement of a two-thirds super-majority to carry, before declaring that the amendments had passed. Thus getting booed in the process. … The language was in the 2008 platform, came out through some mysterious process in the platform, and was reinserted at the insistence of the White House, after coming under attack from Republicans and lobbying from backers of Israel. … It was not always de rigeur to declare Jerusalem Israel’s capital, though in fact it is. Tel Aviv, where Israeli independence was declared, is recognized by most nations as the capital. The U.S. Embassy in Israel is in Tel Aviv. Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama have regularly blocked implementation of legislation calling for moving the embassy to Jerusalem.
** NEW COLUMNS COMING UP … WHILE ONE CLINTON WOWS AT THE OBAMARAMA, ANOTHER PIVOTS TO THE LONG GAME and CONSIDERING THE SEMI-BONDIAN DARK KNIGHT RISES (WHICH JUST ROSE TO $1 BILLION).
** SELECTED EXCERPTS, BILL CLINTON NOMINATION ADDRESS FOR OBAMA.
“In Tampa the Republican argument against the President’s re-election was pretty simple: We left him a total mess, he hasn’t finished cleaning it up yet, so fire him and put us back in.
“I like the argument for President Obama’s re-election a lot better. He inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, began the long hard road to recovery, and laid the foundation for a more modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for the innovators.
“The most important question is, what kind of country do you want to live in? If you want a you’re-on-your-own, winner-take-all society, you should support the Republican ticket. If you want a country of shared prosperity and shared responsibility — a we’re-all-in-this-together society — you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”
** NEW SURVEY: DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION HEADLINERS ARE POPULAR FIGURES (MOSTLY). A new Gallup Poll survey reveals that half of the top headliners at the Democratic National Convention are very popular in the country. One is mostly popular. And one gets a mixed reaction.
This in contrast with last week’s Republican headliners, who got a much more mixed reaction, to the extent they got a big reaction at all.
(Which may explain why Clint Eastwood’s surprise appearance was so greatly prized by convention and campaign strategists.)
Former President Bill Clinton, who delivers the nomination speech tonight for President Barack Obama, is the most popular figure of all, followed closely by First Lady Michelle Obama, then by her husband, with Vice President Joe Biden, who plays the polarizing junkyard dog role, bringing up the rear.
Clinton, in fact, has just achieved his record high popularity rating, besting that from his inaugural period over 19 years ago.
Three of the four principal Democrats the party is showcasing this week in prime-time Democratic convention speeches in Charlotte, N.C., are generally in good favor with the majority of Americans. According to a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted prior to both parties’ conventions, former President Bill Clinton, first lady Michelle Obama, and President Barack Obama all have broad appeal, while Vice President Joe Biden receives mixed reviews. …
Clinton’s 69% favorable rating in the Aug. 20-22 poll is just slightly higher than Michelle Obama’s 65%, and is his personal best in Gallup trends spanning his presidential and post-presidential years. His prior high was 66%, last recorded in July and matching his pre-inaugural rating in 1993. …
Underscoring his value to the convention, Clinton also ties the first lady in positive ratings from several groups that are likely to be important to Democratic victory this fall: women, nonwhites, young voters, and independents. Additionally, of the four prominent Democrats rated in the survey, Clinton emerges as the most popular among men and older Americans, indicating his potential effectiveness at broadening the party’s appeal to these groups.
None of the Democratic figures is viewed favorably by a majority of Republicans, but Michelle Obama and Clinton come close. At the same time, Michelle Obama has solid favorability with all other groups, while President Obama has sub-majority favorable reviews from men, whites, and adults 55 and older.
Biden lags about 10 percentage points behind Barack Obama in favorable reviews from men and women. However, on a relative basis he does slightly better among whites, Republicans, and those 55 and older. He fares slightly worse among 18- to 34-year-olds, nonwhites, independents, and Democrats. …
First Lady Michelle Obama praised her husband Tuesday night in a prime-time Democratic Convention speech as a devoted husband and caring father at home, a regular guy, and a “man we can trust” to keep the country moving forward.
** NEW COLUMNS COMING UP … WHILE ONE CLINTON WOWS AT THE OBAMARAMA, ANOTHER PIVOTS TO THE LONG GAME and CONSIDERING THE SEMI-BONDIAN DARK KNIGHT RISES (WHICH JUST ROSE TO $1 BILLION).
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and North Carolina.
Obama received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
At 10:15 AM Pacific, Obama departs the White House on Marine One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 10:30 AM Pacific, Obama departs Joint Base Andrews on Air Force One en route Charlotte, North
At 11:45 AM Pacific, Obama arrives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
First Lady Michelle Obama addressed the convention last night and was by all accounts a big hit, cleverly talking up her husband’s attributes in ways which counterposed them to Romney.
Obama himself was to have accepted the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening at a giant rally in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, which can seat 70,000 to 90,000 people.
Along with 21,000 delegates and others, another 65,000 people were ticketed for the event, with another 19,000 on a waiting list.
But, just like the Republican National Convention last week, this convention has now been disrupted by unanticipated weather.
It’s been very rainy and muggy in Charlotte, something convention planners didn’t count on, and the forecast for Thursday is for rain and lightning.
So Obama’s big speech is being moved indoors, held at the Time Warner Cable Center where the main convention activities are taking place. That’s been set up for 15,000 to 20,000 people, which I suspect will be expanded a bit for Thursday night to accommodate some of the “extra” people.
And yet, with both conventions now disrupted by weather, no one is talking about the Arctic Sea having turned into a “slushy” last week.
Former President Bill Clinton will deliver the nominating speech for Obama tonight, in what may be the most important event of the convention.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s latest big geopolitical “Pivot” tour took her yesterday and today to Beijing, where she is pressing China to agree to peacefully resolve disputes with its neighbors over competing territorial claims in the South China Sea. But China, which claims virtually the entire body of water, questioned the stated neutrality of the U.S.
Things apparently got a bit heated today. More to follow in an upcoming column.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton complimented the U.S.-Chinese relationship, in a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao today in Beijing. She also criticized China’s stance on Syria, during a meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: The Persian/Arabian Gulf is ten hours ahead of Pacific time and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time. The time in Manila, on the South China Sea, is fifteen hours ahead of Pacific time.
** SO WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED WITH CLINT EASTWOOD? (AND THE PERILS OF ARGUING WITH IMAGINARY OBAMAS). So what the heck really happened with Clint Eastwood at the end of last week’s wacky Republican convention?
After watching the spectacle of the veteran Hollywood superstar argue with his non-spectral apparition in that now infamous empty chair on international television, President Barack Obama left the White House early Friday morning to fly to El Paso, Texas. I’m told he was in a good mood. Who could blame him?
Eastwood is a very familiar character here in California. I’ve met him, can’t say I know him, but certainly know friends of his. This episode surprised me on a few levels. In contrast to what many would suppose after his not A-OK speech to the once GOP, he has numerous ties Democratic as well as Republican.
Which makes Thursday’s appearance, backing the most conservative Republican presidential nominee in a long time, rather curious.
Eastwood was apparently drawn to Romney when he was in Massachusetts directing his classic film Mystic River and Romney was running for his lone term as governor of the Bay State. Which, er, doesn’t necessarily explain much, especially after Eastwood did this year’s famous Super Bowl ad for Chrysler — “It’s Halftime in America” — in which Eastwood extols the saving of the American auto industry. Romney, of course, opposed the very plan which saved the auto industry, championed by that invisible guy in the chair.
No less than Karl Rove was outraged by Eastwood’s ad, telling Fox News: “I was, frankly, offended by it. It is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising.”
(Incidentally, Rove was quite wrong in saying that the Eastwood Super Bowl ad was paid for with taxpayer dollars. The successfully bailed out Chrysler, saved by the very Obama plan Romney opposed, had already paid the government back.)
In any event, for whatever reason he did it, Eastwood showed up at a Romney fundraiser last month in Idaho to deliver an endorsement, thrilling the candidate and his team.
Since Eastwood is an icon who exudes the sort of grounded American masculinity that the elitist Romney so notably lacks, it’s easy to see why he would be placed in the prime time program as one of the two presenters of the nominee. What’s not so easy to see is how the debacle of Eastwood’s presentation happened.
The official word from the Romney camp is that Eastwood, who argued with an empty chair — making him only the latest among folks of all ideological persuasions to argue with an imaginary Obama, who has governed essentially as advertised in his 2008 campaign policy book, which I keep on my desk — was ad libbing.
Team Romney, in this version, turned over the stage to Eastwood and hoped for the best.
Well, if so, and that would be one of the biggest ifs you can find, that would be quite extraordinary, to say the least.
When Arnold Schwarzenegger, then merely the sitting governor of California and not a former mayor of Carmel, spoke to the 2004 Republican National Convention, his speech was gone over and over with a fine tooth comb.
In my own observation and experience, no star, no matter how cool or commanding, is given anything near this high profile a platform and simply trusted to make the magic.
Yet in the official scenario, Eastwood went on twice as long as scheduled and went on stage with a chair, supposedly surprising only the prop master who figured he might sit in it. And what of the senior Romney campaign figures you would expect to crowd around Clint off-stage? Crickets.
MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell says that Romney senior strategist Stuart Stevens was behind it, and that things simply went bad.
Stevens, as O’Donnell pointed out, likes Hollywood and has worked in Hollywood. In fact, he worked for O’Donnell on the NBC series Mister Sterling. I worked on the show, too, which is how I got to know Stevens. O’Donnell was a West Wing producer before and after Mister Sterling, a show about a maverick son of a beloved former Democratic governor of California who is appointed to the U.S. Senate and turns out to be an independent (any similarities to Jerry Brown and Pat Brown are entirely coincidental).
This wouldn’t be the first time that a Republican campaign, highly irritated by Obama’s hold on much of the electorate, would go for a play that, internally, seems clever and emotionally satisfying but externally, well, not so much. I have talked about that very thing with McCain for President campaign director Steve Schmidt, the former Schwarzenegger campaign manager, writing about it here several times, most recently in the spring in my piece around the Game Change movie.
I felt badly for Eastwood, whom I’ve admired since I was a kid.
He was a John McCain backer in 2008, which makes more sense to me than Romney. The Vietnam War hero McCain (Romney toughed out the days of the Vietnam War, which he backed vociferously, as a Mormon missionary in, er, France) at least had the background of someone who was willing to go against the partisan grain.
Which Eastwood himself has done in California.
He’s friendly with Governor Jerry Brown, endorsed Senator Dianne Feinstein, and was appointed by then Governor Gray Davis to the state Parks & Recreation Commission. He’s also a friend of other Democrats, like former San Francisco Mayor and Assembly Speaker Willie Brown and former Assemblyman and Coastal Commission chairman Rusty Areias.
It was fellow Republican Schwarzenegger, who expanded on Eastwood’s penchant for action movie catch phrases in his own superstar career, who decided not to reappoint Eastwood to the state parks commission in 2008, a move Eastwood ascribed to his opposition to a toll road through a Southern California state park.
None of which marks Eastwood as the likeliest character to show up to make the big pitch for the likes of Romney. Maybe some things just don’t make sense. Which sounds like something a character in Eastwood’s classic revisionist Western Unforgiven might say, come to think of it. But one thing’s clear: A man’s got to know his limitations.
And what to say about closing night at the Republican National Convention? …
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown is working on the many bills sent on to him by the legislature, which ended its session for the year last Friday night.
He’s also working on his November revenue initiative.
Brown is not attending the indifferently awaited Democratic National Convention, now well underway in rainy, muggy Charlotte, North Carolina, home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa chairing.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will only be on hand for a few hours, despite the plane ride from New York only taking two hours, and won’t address the convention.
Several California political figures are addressing the convention, among them House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, state Attorney General Kamala Harris, Assembly Speaker John Perez, former state Controller Steve Westly, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, Congresswoman Judy Chu, and Congresswoman and former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass.
State Democratic chairman John Burton headed for home, he said to undergo a root canal, after likening Republican tactics to the Big Lie propaganda techniques of Joseph Goebbels. A fair point, but a losing one for a politician to indulge in.
** AFTER THE ROMNEYRAMA, AND MORE SERIOUS MATTERS. … From my August 30th essay.
** SPACE, JERRY BROWN’S PLACE, AND A RACE. … From my August 27th essay.
** AN INSULAR ROMNEY STRUGGLES WITH HIS SURPRISINGLY HEARTFELT VEEP PICK AFTER STRIKING OUT INTERNATIONALLY. … From my August 23rd essay.
** RECALLING TOTAL RECALL: INTRIGUE, ULTRA-VIOLENCE, HUMOR AND WHAT ELSE THAT IS MISSING FROM THE SCHWARZENEGGER REMAKES. … From my August 17th essay.
** LONDON’S GRAND OLYMPICS, ON AND OFF THE TRACK. … From my August 13th essay.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 feature.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th, 2009 Huffington Post column.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in major military operations in the region, and the Arab awakening underway, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 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 from the Russia Today channel. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the state-run channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading around $95 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $61 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity, and down about $19 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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