Thursday, October 30, 2008

YOUTH OF AMERICA: Don't Become Another Great Pumpkin! GET OUT AND VOTE FOR OBAMA

An Obama Youthquake: Great Pumpkin or Great Bet?
By Andrea Tantaros
Republican Political Commentator/ Contributor

Each year Democrats anticipate the youth vote as eagerly as Linus Van Pelt prepares for the Great Pumpkin. On Halloween night, Linus waits for the Great Pumpkin to appear. On Election Night the left waits for the young to appear. Invariably, the Great Pumpkin fails to show up and a humiliated but undefeated Linus vows to wait for him again the following Halloween. Similarly, the left predicts every presidential election cycle that the demographic will storm the polls in massive numbers resulting in a tidal wave of support, but like Linus their existence exists only in their imaginations. Will this year be any different?

Rewind to 2004: turnout among young people was, as a proportion of the whole electorate, almost identical to 2000’s weak showing. My generation was supposed to win it for John Kerry, so when George W. Bush defeated him in 2004 many Democrats blamed us for failing to show up in greater numbers.

Fast forward to 2008: in state after state, Obama has drawn more young voters than any of his competitors. According to the Associated Press an estimated nine million new voters of all ages have registered to vote this year, with a majority registering as Democrats. However, registration doesn’t always translate into votes.

According to The Wall Street Journal, voters under 30 have not widely participated in early voting this year. “In Florida, they account for 8 percent of cast ballots, though they make up 17 percent of voters. In North Carolina, voters under 30 make up 11 percent of cast ballots, but make up 19 percent of voters.” In addition, a poll conducted by The Journal showed that “only 54 percent of new voters said they would definitely vote on Nov. 4.”

So is Obama is simply a trend? And like most trends (parachute pants, barbed wire tattoos, and poufy bangs) will the Obamamania fizzle as quickly as it fired up?

Young people haven’t been screwed by government. Until they have, their level of intensity can’t be on par with those who are paying out the whazoo in taxes, healthcare and energy costs.

Worse yet, if the mainstream media continues to predict a landslide for Senator Obama on Election Day many youth, who for years have shown that interest doesn’t exactly equal action, could stay home. “Why bother when adults can do it for you?” is already a slogan of the millennial generation. College campuses are reported to be so saturated with Obama propaganda that fatigue has crept in. Without students on the other side to inspire competition, the extent of tween Obama support could end up resulting in the slapping of a bumper sticker on a dorm window.

“In many ways, our fate is in their hands,” Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said on a recent conference call with reporters, a risky bet for such an unreliable ballot box bunch and perhaps the reason for McCain’s continued optimism and perseverance.

Next Tuesday my eyes will be glued to the election results to see if for the first time in memory this voting block proves fruitful, or if Democrats are left disappointed, once again, by their Great Pumpkin.

Endorsement Update #3: Conservative Edition

One of Sarah Palin's "favorite magazines," the center-right leaning Economist, has endorsed Barack Obama for President. In its editorial, they write,

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.

Wikipedia also has a running tally of both Newspaper and Magazine endorsements, for both candidates. Obama is whipping McCain in sheer numbers, 268 to 91; an almost 3 to 1 advantage. Even more telling, 48 traditionally conservative publications have given their endorsements to Senator Obama. And it isn't only conservative papers that are coming out for Barack Obama. Higher ups in the Bush Administration, like former Press Secretary Scott McClellan and of course former Sec. of State Colin Powell will be voting for Obama. In New Hampshire, Fred Bramante, a member of McCain's New Hampshire Leadership Committee and a 2008 Alternate Delegate to the Republican National Convention today announced his support for Senator Obama's Campaign for Change. Mr. Bramante's endorsement marks the first time nationally that a delegate or alternate delegate to the 2008 Republican National Convention has publicly announced their decision to support Sen. Obama. And of course, Republicans For Obama has a detailed list of the many conservatives crossing over to support Senator Obama in this election.

But hey, McCain's still got Lieberman!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The entire Obama Infomercial (sans the live cut to Florida)

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Next President of the United States.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Convicted! Republican Senator Ted Stevens Going to Jail.

Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was just found guilty of lying about gifts he received totaling over a quarter million dollars.

Senator Stevens, a man whom Sarah Palin helped get re-elected by directing his 527 fund, is a living embodiment of the sleazy, special interest driven, corrupt heart of the GOP soul. His conviction is the real October surprise in this campaign. His case is a metaphor for a Washington culture that is out of control, that represents the old, pre-Obama way of doing business. Thankfully, in 8 days, Americans will be able to elect a President who respects the rule of law, who has not taken a single cent from lobbyists or special interest groups.

Let's hear it for the rule of law!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

La, La La La La O-BA-MA

Apparently, there is a city in Japan called Obama. A band from Obama has just put out this very funny video. Check it out!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The History Argument

I just love this story. Had to pass it on...

Upon arriving at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Cincinnati to vote early today I happened upon some friends of my mother's — three small, elderly Jewish women. They were quite upset as they were being refused admitance to the polling location due to their Obama T-Shirts, hats and buttons. Apparently you cannot wear Obama/McCain gear into polling locations here in Ohio.... They were practically on the verge of tears.

After a minute or two of this a huge man (6'5", 300 lbs easy) wearing a Dale Earnhardt jacket and Bengal's baseball cap left the voting line, came up to us and introduced himself as Mike. He told us he had overheard our conversation and asked if the ladies would like to borrow his jacket to put over their t-shirts so they could go in and vote. The ladies quickly agreed. As long as I live I will never forget the image of these 80-plus-year-old Jewish ladies walking into the polling location wearing a huge Dale Earnhardt racing jacket that came over their hands and down to their knees!

Mike patiently waited for each woman to cast their vote, accepted their many thanks and then got back in line (I saved him a place while he was helping out the ladies). When Mike got back in line I asked him if he was an Obama supporter. He said that he was not, but that he couldn't stand to see those ladies so upset. I thanked him for being a gentleman in a time of bitter partisanship and wished him well.

After I voted I walked out to the street to find my mother's friends surrouding our new friend Mike — they were laughing and having a great time. I joined them and soon learned that Mike had changed his mind in the polling booth and ended up voting for Obama. When I asked him why he changed his mind at the last minute, he explained that while he was waiting for his jacket he got into a conversation with one of the ladies who had explained how the Jewish community, and she, had worked side by side with the black community during the civil rights movements of the '60s, and that this vote was the culmination of those personal and community efforts so many years ago. That this election for her was more than just a vote ... but a chance at history.

Mike looked at me and said, "Obama's going to win, and I didn't want to tell my grandchildren some day that I had an opportunity to vote for the first black president, but I missed my chance at history and voted for the other guy."

The GOP Blame Game Has Already Begun

While Rudy Giuliani begins fundraising for 2012, the McCain campaign has prematurely begun the circular firing squad...

Blame game: GOP forms circular firing squad
By: Jonathan Martin and Mike Allen and John F. Harris
October 23, 2008 07:45 PM EST

With despair rising even among many of John McCain’s own advisors, influential Republicans inside and outside his campaign are engaged in an intense round of blame-casting and rear-covering—-much of it virtually conceding that an Election Day rout is likely.

A McCain interview published Thursday in the Washington Times sparked the latest and most nasty round of Washington finger-pointing, with senior GOP hands close to President Bush and top congressional aides denouncing the candidate for what they said was an unfocused message and poorly executed campaign.

McCain told the Times that the administration “let things get completely out of hand” through eight years of bad decisions about Iraq, global warming, and big spending.

The candidate’s strategists in recent days have become increasingly vocal in interviews and conference calls about what they call unfair news media coverage and Barack Obama’s wide financial advantage — both complaints laying down a post-election storyline for why their own efforts proved ineffectual.

These public comments offer a whiff of an increasingly acrid behind-the-scenes GOP meltdown—a blame game played out through not-for-attribution comments to reporters that operatives know will find their way into circulation.

Top Republican officials have let it be known they are distressed about McCain’s organization. Coordination between the McCain campaign and Republican National Committee, always uneven, is now nearly dysfunctional, with little high-level contact and intelligence-sharing between the two.

“There is no communication,” lamented one top Republican. “It drives you crazy.”

At his Northern Virginia headquarters, some McCain aides are already speaking of the campaign in the past tense. Morale, even among some of the heartiest and most loyal staffers, has plummeted. And many past and current McCain advisors are warring with each other over who led the candidate astray.

One well-connected Republican in the private sector was shocked to get calls and resumes in the past few days from what he said were senior McCain aides – a breach of custom for even the worst-off campaigns.

“It’s not an extraordinarily happy place to be right now,” said one senior McCain aide. “I’m not gonna lie. It’s just unfortunate.”

“If you really want to see what ‘going negative’ is in politics, just watch the back-stabbing and blame game that we’re starting to see,” said Mark McKinnon, the ad man who left the campaign after McCain wrapped up the GOP primary. “And there’s one common theme: Everyone who wasn’t part of the campaign could have done better.”

“The cake is baked,” agreed a former McCain strategist. “We’re entering the finger-pointing and positioning-for-history part of the campaign. It’s every man for himself now.”

A circular firing squad is among the most familiar political rituals of a campaign when things aren’t going well. But it is rare for campaign aides to be so openly participating in it well before Election Day.

One current senior campaign official gave voice to this “Law of the Jungle” ethic, defending the campaign against second-guessers who say it was a mistake to throw away his experience message in an attempt to match Obama’s “change” mantra.

“Everybody agreed with the strategy,” said this official. “We were unlikely to be successful without being aggressive and taking risks.”

Running as a steady hand and basing a campaign on Obama’s sparse resume was a political loser, it was decided.

“The pollsters and the entire senior leadership of campaign believe that experience versus change was not a winning message and formulation, the same way it was no winning formula with Hillary Clinton.”

Beyond the obvious reputation-burnishing—much of it by professional operatives whose financial livelihoods depend on ensuring that they are not blamed for a bad campaign—there is a more substantive dimension. Barring a big McCain comeback, and a turnabout in numerous congressional races where the party is in trouble, the GOP is on the brink of a soul-searching debate about what to do to reclaim power. Much of that debate will hinge on appraisals of what McCain could have done differently.

That is why his criticisms of Bush hit such an exposed nerve Thursday. Was McCain hobbled by party label at a time when the incumbent president is so unpopular? Or did his uneven response to the financial rescue—and endorsement of such non-conservative ideas as a massive government purchase of homeowner mortgages—seal his fate?

Dan Schnur, a McCain communications advisor during his 2000 run and now a political analyst at the University of Southern California, said McCain should step in to halt the defeatism and self-serving leaks—an epidemic of incontinence—on his own team.

“It’s a natural and human reaction when you’re struggling to make up ground, but that doesn’t make it right,” Schnur said. “As long as the campaign is still potentially winnable, these are an unnecessary distraction. This looks like it’s reached a point where the candidate has to step in himself and crack some heads to remind everyone why they came to work for him in the first place.”

Offered a chance to respond to the suggestion that the McCain campaign is awash in defeatism, a McCain official delivered a decidedly measured appraisal: “We have a real chance in Pennsylvania. We are in trouble in Colorado, Nevada and Virginia. We have lost Iowa and New Mexico. We are OK in Missouri, Ohio and Florida. Our voter intensity is good and we can match their buy dollar for dollar starting today till the election. It’s a long shot but it’s worth fighting for.”

Earlier this week, campaign manager Rick Davis complained to reporters in a conference call that reporters refuse to call out Obama for alleged shady fund-raising tactics, but in the process revealed no small amount of envy about the Democratic financial advantage. "Now, I'd love to have that $4 million right now to put into Pennsylvania,” he said. “It'd be a good thing for our campaign. I think it's a game-changer if I can slap all of that right on Philadelphia media market. It's an expensive place. And, yet, Barack Obama gets away with raising illegitimate money and spending it.”

A New York Times Sunday magazine piece chronicling McCain’s campaign featured numerous not-for-attribution McCain staffers participating in what amounted to a campaign autopsy. One aide told writer Robert Draper, “For better or worse our campaign has been fought from tactic to tactic,” and one criticized McCain’s debate performance.

Long-time McCain alter ego Mark Salter gave an interview to Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg criticizing everything from the news media to the vagaries of fate: “Iraq was supposed to be the issue of the campaign. We assumed it was our biggest challenge. Funny how things work.”

Many conservative commentators likewise have been writing of McCain’s campaign in a valedictory tone. Among this group there is an emerging debate—one with the potential to last for a long time about the role of vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

One school—including syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker and Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal—called her a drag on the ticket and implicitly rebuked McCain’s judgment in picking her. Another school believes she is the future of the party, a view backed by Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard: “Whether they know it or not, Republicans have a huge stake in Palin. If, after the election, they let her slip into political obscurity, they’ll be making a huge mistake.”

In The Week, former Bush speechwriter David Frum wrote of McCain’s travails in a way that seemed to take defeat for granted and warned the GOP faces a long road back. “That’s not a failure of campaign tactics. It’s not even a failure of strategy. It’s a failure of the Republican Party and conservative movement to adapt to the times.”

While Frum was focused on the long view of history, many Republicans in Washington are much more in the moment—and much harsher in their denunciation of McCain and his team.

A senior Republican strategist, speaking with authority about the view of the party’s establishment, issued a wide-ranging critique of the McCain high command: “Lashing out at past Republican Congresses, … echoing your opponent's attacks on you instead of attacking your opponent, and spending 150,000 hard dollars on designer clothes when congressional Republicans are struggling for money, and when your senior campaign staff are blaming each other for the loss in The New York Times [Magazine] 10 days before the election, you’re not doing much to energize your supporters.

“The fact is, when you’re the party standard-bearer, you have an obligation to fight to the finish,” this strategist continued. “I think they can still win. But if they don’t think that, they need to look at how Bob Dole finished out his campaign in 1996 and not try to take down as many Republicans with them as they can. Instead of campaigning in Electoral College states, Dole was campaigning in places he knew he didn’t have a chance to beat Clinton, but where he could energize key House and Senate races.”

A House Republican leadership aide in an e-mail was no more complimentary: “The staff has been remarkably undisciplined, too eager to point fingers, unable to craft any coherent long term strategy. The handling of Palin (not her performances, but her rollout and availability) has been nothing short of political malpractice. I understand the candidate might have other opinions and might be dictating some aspects of the campaign to staff – but the lack of discipline and ability to draft and stick to a coherent message is unreal. You have half of the campaign saying Ayers is a major issue, and then the candidate out there saying he doesn’t care about a washed up terrorist. You have McCain one day echoing Milton Friedman and the next day echoing FDR.”

© 2008 Capitol News Company, LLC

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Endorsement Update #2

Obama continues his overwhelming sweep of newspaper endorsements into this week on two significant fronts. Firstly, on sheer numbers, Obama is beating McCain, 115 to 40. By contrast, in 2004, Kerry barely edged Bush in newspaper endorsement by around a dozen papers or less. More significantly, Obama has already received 26 endorsements from papers that endorsed Bush in 2004, including several papers that have never before endorsed a Democrat, or have done so only one or two times in the last century.

Also significant is the fact the Monday's Zogby poll put Obama at the 50% mark for the first time in national polling numbers, with Obama edging McCain 50-44%. While Obama has been over 50% for some time in Gallup and other polls, this is the first time he has taken this significant "winning" edge in a poll that has traditionally leaned towards the Republicans, and which many conservatives still point to as proof that the race is still closer than it seems. It is also important to note, in this same poll, that while McCain was gaining ground last week, he has once again capped off at or below 45%. He simply has not been able to maintain a sustained place in the polls above 45%. Without a significant change in the underlying dynamics of the race, McCain's White House hopes are looking all the more distant.

Monday, October 20, 2008

One Day More...

15 more days people!!! Get inspired!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday, Bloody Good Sunday

I awoke this morning to two pieces of extraordinary news. On the campaign front, Barack Obama has filed his fundraising report for the month of September, and the result is historic beyond measure. In that month, the Obama campaign raised $150 million dollars from over 600,000 new donors. Even more stunning, the campaign has now raised contributions from 3.1 million individual Americans, and the average contribution to the Obama campaign is still less than $100 - about $86 a person. This extraordinary people-powered campaign has the ability to aggressively compete in states like West Virginia and North Carolina, once-GOP strongholds that are not trending blue. It's an encouraging sign as we enter the home stretch of this race.

The other exciting piece of news is that Colin Powell, the widely respected General and former Secretary of State, gave a full-throated endorsement of Barack Obama on Meet The Press. His endorsement has all the more credibility, because General Powell is a Republican who has known Mr. McCain for 25 years. Watch the video here of Powell directly answering the endorsement question:

Obama at Bicentennial Park in Miami on Tuesday


Barack Obama will be at Bicentennial Park this Tuesday. Ya'll should get out there! Should be an amazing event!

Here are the details...

This Tuesday, October 21st, please join Barack and Michelle Obama in Miami, where they will talk about Barack's vision for creating the kind of change we need.

Early Vote for Change Rally
with Barack and Michelle Obama

Bicentennial Park
1075 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33132

Tuesday, October 21st
Doors Open: 3:45 p.m.
Program Begins: 5:45 p.m.

This event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required; however, an RSVP is strongly encouraged.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

100,000 Rally In St. Louis For Obama!

WOW!!! This afternoon, Barack Obama spoke at a rally under the Gateway Arch in St. Louis in front of 100,000 people.

The fight has turned to taxes. McCain is accusing Obama of "class warfare" and "socialism," when the fact is that Obama wants to return the tax system to the way it was under President Clinton, who wasn't exactly a Communist. While McCain attacked Obama's tax plan, Obama hit back before the giant crowd, saying that John McCain

"wants to cut taxes for the same people who have already been making out like bandits, in some cases literally."

"John McCain is so out of touch with the struggles you are facing that he must be the first politician in history to call a tax cut for working people 'welfare,'" Obama said.

As the McCain campaign stays in angry mode while playing defense in states like North Carolina, Obama is laying out his broad, positive vision in former red states and drawing historic crowds. As AP reports,

The candidates' itineraries underscored McCain's dilemma.

Obama spent the day in Missouri, a bellwether state that voted for President Bush in 2004. Campaign aides, citing local police, estimated 100,000 people turned out to hear him at the Gateway Arch on a sunny day.

McCain leveled his most critical rhetoric of the day in a paid weekly radio address, and he campaigned later in North Carolina and Virginia, a pair of traditionally Republican states he is struggling to hold. Aides estimated his North Carolina crowd at 4,000 to 5,000, a number he matched later in the day during an outdoor appearance in Woodbridge, Va.

The senator took the stage there to the theme song of "Rocky," a movie about an underdog and comeback fighter.

Read the AP Report for more details on the rally. Or, check out the excellent New York Times article.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Endorsement Update

Obama has been endorsed by the Washington Post, The L.A. Times, and the Chicago Tribune. Word on the street is the NY Times will endorse him on Sunday. I did predict that these endorsements would start coming fast and furious... what will be even more interesting, however, is to see how some more traditionally conservative papers endorse, and who is endorsed in the critical swing states. For example, the Chicago Tribune has NEVER endorsed a Democrat for President. Amazing!

Fox news has a short article on the endorsement tally, and so far, Obama has nearly three times as many newspaper endorsements than John McCain. I'll be keeping a close eye on this thing in the weeks to come.

North Dakota **Still** In Play!'s aggregate poll now actually has Obama UP in North Dakota!

North Dakota has as many electoral votes as Washington DC: 3. It's not going to be a game-changer, in all likelihood. But it would be huge politically. As Kos points out,

"This is a state Bush won by 28 points in 2004. Obama would expand the Democratic map, earning a national mandate by winning in every region of the country. And it would show Republicans that they aren't safe anywhere, not even in their supposed "strongholds"."

With only 18 days to go, instead of tightening (as the media narrative would have you believe), this race seems to be opening up for Obama in unexpected places. Suddenly, he is pouring resources into West Virginia and making a serious play for it's electoral votes. McCain and the RNC are pulling resources out of nearly every state Kerry won in 2004 and are hunkering down playing defense in must-win states like Virginia, Ohio and Florida. If Obama takes any of those three states, we're going to have an early night on Election Day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Live Blogging the Last Presidential Debate

8:04 PM: Good evening everyone! In less than hour, I will be reporting live to you from Philadelphia on this last debate between future-President Barack Obama and Senator John McCain. Some exciting news... I received my absentee ballot today, and like millions of other Americans across the country, have already voted for President! (Guess who I picked?) Tonight, I will be delivering more of that live color commentary you've come to know and love, breaking down the questions and letting you know what's really going on. Yesterday, John McCain vowed to "kick his you-know-what" and has also suggested he will be bringing up the "radical associations" he and his surrogates have not stopped talking about on the campaign trail. Will McCain finally "say it to my face," as Obama nearly taunted him to do? We will be watching out for that exchange, both to see if and how McCain brings it up, and what Obama has prepared to say to respond to it. All in all, it should make for good political theater. More importantly, we will be watching to see whose economic plans connect better with voters (both campaigns rolled out additional new policies this week). This is one of McCain's last chances to make up precious lost ground to Obama, so the stakes are perhaps higher than ever before. It should be a good show, so stay tuned!

9:00 The setting for this debate is both of them sitting close to each other at a table. This should create a very intimate and different feel from the first two debates. and here they come!

9:02: Doesn't Bob Schieffer kind of look like a zombie? John McCain looks uncomfortable already.

9:03: McCain's $52 billion plan versus Obama's $60 billion plan; why is one better than another?
McCain always has thoughts and prayers for someone in the hospital; remember his kindly remarks for Ted Kennedy in the first debate?
McCain is once again attempting to tie this entire economic collapse to Fannie and Freddie. This is very shortsighted, and not true, but he's doing it because of his claim that he was prescient on that single issue, despite being a lifelong deregulator.
Obama's "fundamentals of the economy was weak" was a underhanded jab at John McCain, since everybody knows that was what he said on the first day of the meltdown a month ago today. On the CNN dial meter, we are once again seeing Obama scoring much higher on his specific proposals than McCain. Obama scored higher overall throughout the entire last debate; will we see that trend again in this debate?
McCain is talking about Obama on taxes and hitting him hard, but it looks like people aren't buying it. Obama will contrast his tax plans with McCain's; as I've argued before, I think Obama is turning this normally negative area for Democrats into a positive. McCain is trying to raise the spectre of class warfare and keeps repeating this "spread the wealth around" meme. I wonder if it will get any traction? I do think McCain may have scored some points in this exchange.

9:14 Aren't you both ignoring reality?
Haven't we heard this question already? McCain with the spending freeze, Obama with the scalpel, blah blah blah. Will we finally hear anything different?
Obama's said this before; I will go through the budget line by line and cut programs. Interesting tidbit: Reagan said the same thing when he was running for President. He also thinks that investing in education, energy, etc. will give us the resources to do what we need. He is scoring high.
McCain: talking about FDR's home ownership corporation. Energy independence. and here it comes... the spending freeze! "a hatchet, and then I would get out a scalpel!" Good line, Obama said that scalpel line twice, McCain makes up some ground there; his scores go way up on the voter meter. McCain brings up the overhead projector AGAIN! oy vey.
Obama: not gonna abandon his scalpel line. Finally, Obama brings up the Bush budget albatross. There are some wild differences here between men and women on how they feel about what McCain is saying. Right now, Men are up in the sixties while women are down in the forties. How strange.
McCain has got to fight hard to distinguish himself from President Bush; can that stick?
What's interesting here is that they are finally having to listen to each other (well, McCain has to listen to Obama) and the intimacy of this setting is making this debate have a much less "speechy" character. They are actually following up much more carefully on each other's statements.

9:25: Hell of a question, Bob! Will you say these nasty things to each other face to face, what you've said on the campaign trail?
McCain is dragging out this tired old discussion about town hall meetings. How can he possible blame Obama for the lies and smears his campaign has been promoting? It seems he's avoiding the worst of his own allegations, while bringing up this Wallace thing (that Obama, in fact, did repudiate). Interesting that he did not address the Ayers thing we have been expecting. Also, it seemed like McCain was genuinely hurt by what Congressman Lewis said.
Obama: makes a smart move by saying, this guy is the negative one, I'm the one who's gonna focus on the issues.
This is so interesting to see them looking at each other in the eye and talking about their own campaigns; its actually sort of surreal.

9:30 McCain is definitely having his finest night so far. I've got a feeling the news media is going to be scoring him a lot higher than any evening before.

9:33 Obama elevating the discussion; McCain starting to get testy and interrupt Barack Obama.
Obama brings up "palling around with terrorists" line from Palin; McCain totally ignores it, and goes into a defense of his supporters.
I wish Obama would just come back and say, "I'm not talking about your supporters, I'm talking about your running mate. How can you defend her dishonorable and dishonest comments?" Obama is trying to avoid the back and forth though, and instead once again focus on solving the issues. I think Obama is trying to take the high road and it is scoring him some points here and allowing him to bring the debate back to his side.

9:36 HERE IT IS! Ayers, ACORN, all the crap we knew was coming... Mr. Ayers indeed HAS become the centerpiece of McCain's campaign- finally getting to the heart of it. Obama is doing a fine job of working out the facts on this stuff, and now he's making a smart turn by talking about his positive associations. "it says more about your campaign, Mr. McCain, than it says about me." McCain is looking like so hypocritical; five minutes ago he said that Ayers was not important, and now he's working again to try and make those negative attacks hit. His numbers went soaring down during that little exchange.

9:40 The running mate question - love it! This is a gimmee for the Obama campaign; how will McCain possibly argue that Sarah Palin is more fit to be president than Joe Biden?
I think this little pump up of Biden is a great little bit of wisdom on why the Biden pick was such a smart one: he'd make an outstanding president.
McCain says the words Sarah Palin, and the positives plummet. He's trying to sell as her as this "breath of fresh air" reformer. Will Obama bring up the recent ethics report? The many lies of Sarah Palin? Will he put her in her place?
Obama: refusing to go negative. Smart? Maybe.

9:49 I think these discussions about energy are so important and Obama is scoring great points on this. Watching McCain's reactions to Obama is very telling. He wears his heart on his sleeve; Obama looks cool as a cucumber.

9:53 Obama makes the excellent point that he is not against free trade; he is for free trade when the agreements are structured fairly and protect human and worker rights. A centrist and intelligent position, to which McCain must make a very loud SNIFF. McCain as Bush: "I don't do nuance."
Obama's discussion about fuel efficient cars, clean energy is scoring the highest points of the night. After a weaker start, Obama seems to have hit his stride here. McCain says Obama wants to sit down with Hugo Chavez and look at Obama - he LAUGHS it off, because it is so ridiculous, and you know what? The dials from the indies seem to agree. People just don't buy these lies from the McCain campaign.

9:56 Healthcare
Obama once again lays out his two pronged approach to Healthcare on lowering costs and getting more people insured. He once again gets into the details about how he's going to change things from the Bush/McCain Healthcare policies. McCain comes out with the standard boilerplate language about how terrible the healthcare crisis is. McCain keeps talking about these little fixes, but people don't buy it. McCain's talking to Joe the plumber again. Will Obama make you pay a fine? Yeah, if you're a huge multinational, not a small business! McCain looks STUNNED that Obama has an exemption for small businesses. It seems like on a lot of Obama's positions, McCain just doesn't know what he's talking about. He didn't seem to know about Obama's vote for the Chile free trade agreement, or this small business exemption.
Obama criticizes McCain for taxing health care benefits for the first time (again) and McCain still has not responded to this attack. Will he tonight?
10:03 What is McCain talking about? Mandating health care? Big government at its best? McCain, where you listening to anything that Obama just said? Bizarre response here... and its not scoring high. People do not trust McCain on the healthcare issue, with good reason; for the last 8 years under Bush and the Republicans, they've been getting screwed.
"Senator Government" says McCain. But maybe Americans are finally getting ready to trust Government again.

10:06 Abortion!
It is very true that this election will be crucial for the composition of the Supreme Court. If you want more judges like Alito and Scalia, vote McCain for the erosion of civil liberties, the disregard for stare decisis, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the like. If you want more justices like Ginzburg and Breyer, elect Obama.

10:13 "if it sounds incredible, that's because it's not true." To which McCain once again gives us that stunned, befuddled, disrespectful look. As Obama explains his vote in Illinois on abortion, he continues to look smart, principled, and moderate. Its fascinating that McCain talks so much about bipartisanship, yet when Obama says there must be a way to find "common ground" on this issue, he gives out another one of his loud sniffs. Oh, and health of the mother? That's some crazy liberal batshit.

10:15 McCain is getting very testy again. As we approach the final 15 minutes here, it seems like he hasn't broken any new ground tonight. He is going to score better in this debate than the last two, but I predict Obama will still have an edge that at least mirrors his current edge in the national polls. If that is the case, I'd say McCain is looking more and more like toast.

10:16 Education
Obama is scoring in the 90s on this whole discussion on education. People really love how he is trying service to loans and making education not only a moral issue, but about the future of our economy and our future.
McCain: choice and competition amongst schools is what works. This is part of the answer, John, but it is not the solution. It is also about resources.
Why doesn't McCain have money for kids to go to college? Obama: "America's Youth aren't an interest group... they're our future!"

McCain's strongest closing so far. Notice, his sell to independent's is "you can trust me," the implication being that Obama is risky and untrustworthy.
Obama gives a typical closing speech focused on his ever-present theme: Change.

Gosh, Obama is a lot taller than John McCain. Look at John going out of his way to look gracious, going over to shake Michelle's hand, very strange behavior. I'll post the snap polls as soon as they come in...

CNN pundits are pretty good tonight. Reagan's guy makes a good point that it was McCain started out strong, and Obama was a little flat at time. Paul Begala agrees with me that the first 30 minutes were for McCain, but that Obama got his footing and was able to carry the last hour. David Gergen is absolutely right that once again, McCain lost his cool, and Obama kept looking presidential.

CNN's voter panel goes for Obama almost 2 to 1.

Over on Faux News, Charles Krauthammer is actually making an extremely good point... that on a day when the economy is down over 700 points, it wouldn't have mattered if Ronald Reagan himself had been sitting in that chair next to Obama... the fact is that McCain represents the opposing party, and this economic crisis has occurred on their watch. Obama just needed to show a steady, presidential air, and he did. Since he didn't make any major gaffes, no matter how well McCain tried, Obama came out the winner.

40 Dem, 30% Republican, rest independent, tracking the numbers in the country

Who did better in this debate?
Obama: 58%
McCain 31%

Favorable/Unfavorable: before and after the debate
Favorable, Before: 63% After 66%
Unfavorable, 35% to 33%
Favorable, 51% to 49%
Unfavorable, 45% to 49%

CBS poll of undecided voters:

Who won the debate?
McCain (R) 22
Obama (D) 53

Shares your values
Obama, Before the debate: 54
Obama, After the debate: 63

McCain, Before the debate: 53
McCain, After the debate: 56

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Obama Tax Calculator: Discover How Much YOUR Family Will Save!

This is so cool.

When discussing John Kerry's loss in the 2004 election, many people point to the effective right-wing smear job that made Kerry seem unpatriotic and unreliable. This is typically referred to as the "Swift Boating" of John Kerry.

A much less discussed reason for Kerry's loss, I think, is the notion that Republicans were able to paint him as a typical "tax and spend liberal" who would invariably raise taxes on most Americans. Kerry did not do an effective job laying out his ideas on taxes. Yes, he discussed repealing the Bush tax cuts, but he did not assure most Americans that his tax plans would help them - and I think this was a major liability.

As I have said before, Barack Obama has finally found an effective way to talk about taxes in a way that is progressive and reassuring to average Americans.

His new "tax calculator" launched today on his website is another ingenious extension of this argument. It is a simple application that allows you to enter a few essential facts about your income, and calculates what your taxes will look like under an Obama Administration, and compares it to the numbers you'd receive under a McCain administration. I put in some numbers for my own family, and found we would be getting THREE TIMES the amount of tax relief under McCain.

Try it out for yourself!

Georgia Looking Blue in Early Voting

An exciting development in Georgia, that may be a glimpse into trends to come...
The Peach State began early voting several weeks ago, which will continue for the next three weeks until the election. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,

"Early vote totals have now reached 499,582 -- about 75,000 more than were cast early in all of 2004. (The state is also newly encouraging early voting this year, so that's a major factor.)

And the ratio of African-American voters remains extremely high: 37% of the early votes were cast by black voters, who make up just 29% of the state's electorate."

Those black votes, and perhaps a large amount of the rest of the votes as well, are votes in the bank for Barack Obama. The heightened turnout of African-Americans is a good sign for the Obama campaign, especially since it is often in poorer, predominantly minority voting precincts that there are long lines on Election Day that dissuade people from actually casting a vote (think Ohio in 2004).

Kos says that "if African Americans end up above 30 percent of overall turnout, we'll have a Blue Georgia at the presidential level and Senator-elect Jim Martin."

Wouldn't that be something amazing?

The Boston Globe Endorses Obama

So far, Obama has racked up endorsements from Esquire, the Reporter in NJ (a paper that hasn't endorsed a democrat since FDR), Rolling Stone, and some other magazines, but for the most part, the major papers have not yet made their formal endorsements. With 21 says to go in this race, expect this first major endorsement of Obama to be the beginning of a trickle that will soon become a flood.

Obama for president
October 13, 2008
Email|Print|Single Page|Yahoo! Buzz|ShareThis Text size – +
COME JANUARY, a new president will take charge of a nation diminished, an America that is far shakier economically, less secure militarily, and less respected internationally than it was eight years before. The nation needs a chief executive who has the temperament and the nerves to shepherd Americans through what promises to be a grueling period — and who has the vision to restore this country to its place of leadership in the world.

Such a leader is at hand. With great enthusiasm, the Globe endorses Senator Barack Obama for president. The charismatic Democrat from Illinois has the ability to channel Americans’ hopes and rally the public together, at a time when the winds are picking up and the clouds keep on darkening.

Unlike many of his rivals this year of either party, Obama isn’t refighting the political or cultural battles of the 1960s. Instead, he is asking Americans to take responsibility for the nation’s problems now; no one else will take care of them, and the consequences of years of disunity and profligacy should not be visited upon future generations.

Obama shows great faith in the possibility of persuasion overseas and in the ingenuity of the American economy. While intransigent rogue states can’t be finger-wagged into giving up on nuclear weapons, perhaps they can be talked back from the brink. As fossil fuels become scarcer, and the ecological damage more evident, Americans can put up windmills and solar panels and drive more efficient cars.

Encouragingly, Obama has assembled an impressive economic team that understands both the power of the market and the need to discourage recklessness and promote social equity. He would broaden access to health insurance, using a mechanism akin to this state’s Commonwealth Connector. And he offers a tax plan that, in offering modest cuts to most taxpayers and taking back some past cuts for the highest earners, acknowledges the widening gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else.

The question, of course, is whether Obama can make good on his promises under the circumstances. For George W. Bush will leave a woeful legacy. The Iraq war, which was sold to Congress and the public on false pretenses, continues to consume billions upon billions of dollars, even as many of the plotters of Sept. 11 are still at large. In his efforts to cultivate democracy abroad, Bush has hacked away at its roots here: due process, the separation of powers, the conviction that there are some things that government must not do. Waterboarding and secret prisons abroad, warrantless wiretapping at home — these acts belie America’s image of forthrightness, the nation’s greatest asset in world affairs.

Meanwhile, as the planet gets warmer, its top energy consumer has no plan to wean itself from fossil fuels. Healthcare costs are strangling businesses. Real wages have declined for the average worker, even as the cost of food and fuel has skyrocketed. Vague unease about the economy has turned into outright fear as the financial system sank into quicksand and 500-point-plus plunges on the stock market have become a near-daily occurrence. Obama’s opponent, Senator John McCain, would try to solve all these problems by going back to the same Republican set of tools: tough talk abroad, tax cuts for the richest at home. In contrast, Obama’s presidency would benefit from the Illinois senator’s formidable political gifts. A graduate of Harvard Law School and a former community organizer on Chicago’s South Side, Obama debuted on the national political scene with a dazzling speech at the Democratic National Convention four years ago. Since then, every word of his books and his speeches has been closely parsed. Evident from all that scrutiny is a nimble mind, an ever more impressive grasp of policy detail, and an ability to listen to contradictory viewpoints. Obama is clearly a liberal. But when he led the Harvard Law Review, he won praise from conservative thinkers because he genuinely wanted to hear what they had to say.

Obama is hardly immune to political calculation. Though he has positioned himself as a supporter of campaign finance reform, he backed out of the public financing system after his ability to raise jaw-dropping sums over the Internet became apparent. In the general election campaign, he has been slow to admit how much the financial crisis would limit his policy options come January.

Even so, the way Obama has run his campaign has been a marvel of sound management: He laid down principles, put the right people in positions of authority, and spent money strategically. And he has shown a remarkable steadiness. Whether he was far behind Hillary Clinton before the Iowa caucuses or on the verge of locking up the Democratic nomination, whether he was leading or trailing McCain in the general election contest, Obama made the same forward-looking appeal to voters’ best instincts.

As the first black major-party presidential nominee, Obama has strived to make voters comfortable with a ‘‘skinny kid with a funny name.’’ And yet the historical significance of his bid is impossible to ignore. Voters can make no more powerful statement about America’s commitment to inclusion and opportunity than to put forward this man — Barack Hussein Obama, son of a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas — as the nation’s representative to the world.

An early Obama campaign slogan declared, ‘‘We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.’’ His critics deemed such rhetoric too ethereal. Now it seems prescient, as the nation confronts a financial crisis of historic proportions, as well as all the other policy failures and debt-fueled excesses of the last eight years. The United States has to dig itself out. Barack Obama is the one to lead the way.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Barnyard Hope

Had to post this picture I came across today because it is so beautiful...

And who says Obama isn't resonating in the Heartland?

22 days to go... donate now!

Adopt A Classroom: Help a Teacher Today!

My sister is a first year middle school English teacher in a school in my hometown of North Miami, Florida. Like so many teachers in this country, our school district does not give her the resources she needs to run her classroom in the best way to reach here 141 students. She recently registered with Adopt A Classroom, an online non-profit that allows people to use their credit card to make donations to any one of the hundreds of classrooms that teachers from across the country have registered with the site. Here's a terrific way to make an immediate impact in a needy classroom and do a good deed. Please, check out the website, and find a classroom that you can afford to support. It's a great way to begin the New Year!

Here's the description of my sister's classroom, so you can get an idea of what the site is all about:

Dear Friends:
I am reaching out to you to help me inspire my students to reach their highest potential. Adopt-A-Classroom ( is a non-profit organization that offers an easy and accountable way for you to donate funds to my classroom and make a real difference for me and my students.

All donations are tax-deductible. 100% of the donation goes to my classroom. Adopt-A-Classroom takes $0 out for administration.

Here`s a description of my classroom and our specific needs:

School: North Miami Middle School
Grade: 8th Grade
Subject: English
Number of students your donation will impact: 141

Paper, dry-erase markers, stapler, whole puncher, poster board, markers, folders, tape, bandaids, pens, pencils, pencil sharpener, and ink cartridges for printer, a broom, tissues, and hand sanitizer (none of these crucial supplies are provided by the school) Expanded Classroom Library - I do not have enough copies of the novels that I would like to teach to my students this year (some examples include Walk Two Moons and The Outsiders). Additionally, I allow students to check-out books from my library and to read those books for pleasure if they finish work early. The purpose of this is to encourage students to read more. If students get hooked on an engaging relevant book, they will be more likely to read. However, at this time, I simply don`t have enough books to make either of these options worthwhile for kids. Post-it notes - Studies show that students who engage in active reading (in other words, think and take notes while they read) increase their reading levels at an exponential rate. My students are always expected to actively read; it is excellent practice of an important life skill as well as an important test taking strategy. Since my students usually read borrowed books they cannot write down ideas in the margins. Therefore, we use post-it notes as a substitute to take notes inside of our books. Workstation shelves - Will be used to create learning centers throughout the classroom.

To learn how you can support my efforts in the classroom click on the link below (or copy and paste it into your Internet browser):

Alison Schwartzbaum Adopt-A-Classroom Homepage

I greatly appreciate your consideration in adopting my classroom. Please pass this email on to your employers and friends.

Thank you for your time.

Alison Schwartzbaum
North Miami Middle School
Classroom: 6 Classes

Helping Communities Help Schools
Visit the website at

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mourning & Remembrance On The Day of Atonement: A Personal Essay At A Time of War

In every synagogue service, Jews recite a special prayer called “the Mourners Kaddish.” According to Jewish law, it is mandatory for every Jew to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish every day for one year after the death of a spouse, child, sibling, or parent. The prayer comes at the end of every prayer service. Three times a day, Jews across the world solemnly intone the famous lines: Yitgadal v’yitkadash, shmei Rabbah… It is universally accepted that during this prayer, the mourners rise. What is less certain is what the rest of the congregation should do while the mourners stand.

The custom in my synagogue is for those not in mourning to sit, and indeed in most American synagogues it seems this is the prevailing minhag. Hence, for most of my life, I sat during the Mourner’s Kaddish, and watched as the mourner’s stood and made their prayer. In high school, I joined United Synagogue Youth, the conservative youth movement. At sub-regional and regional conventions, as well as other programs and retreats, I was surprised to see how many of my peers stood during the Mourner’s Kaddish. I knew most of them were not actually mourning a close relative, and wondered why they chose to stand.

After seeing it over and over again, I realized that I, too, wanted to stand during Mourner’s Kaddish, as did many of my friends and both of my siblings. Since it is a break from my family’s custom, it is important for me to have compelling reasons for this change. We rise for a host of reasons. On one level, we do it to stand in solidarity with the mourners. In many synagogues, I’ve often noticed that people have a tawdry habit of gossiping over others losses: “I didn’t know she was mourning; I wonder who died?” To eliminate this opportunity, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the mourners to afford them respect and dignity, and to acknowledge that every loss is the community’s loss. We also do it for ourselves. We rise during the Mourner’s Kaddish to remember the loved ones we’ve lost over the years, and the countless other departed souls whose spirits deserve commemoration: the victims of the Holocaust, our soldiers overseas, innocent people killed by famine, war and disease. As I stand in synagogue during the Mourner’s Kaddish, the physical act raises me into the community of mourners, and I engage in a profound moment of reflection.

Today was Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and my brother David and I attended services at the conservative student-led services at the University of Pennsylvania Hillel House. As I stood to stand during the Mourner’s Kaddish, I was reminded of a moment earlier this year when two of my friends and I visited Arlington National Cemetery. It was a day of bizarre weather. We arrived on a beautiful autumn afternoon, the sun shining, and the temperature warm enough for shorts and lights sweaters. As we made our way through the cemetery up to the Robert Lee House that dominates the top of the hill, the wind picked up, and in what seemed like only a few minutes, the sky darkened with clouds, then opened up with powerful rain. David, Gina and I tried to hide under some bushes to wait out the storm, but a park ranger told us we could not sit there, so we got up and made a dash for the shelter beneath the awning before the House at the top of the hill. When we made it, we were greeted with a spectacular view with Washington DC and the banks of the Potomac. Only a few miles away, broad shafts of sunlight pierced through the scattered clouds, bathing the city in an ethereal, intermittent radiance. The eerie quiet of the cemetery with its endless, undulating rows of white tombstones spread out before us on the banks of the hills instilled in me a deep sense of spiritual connection with the dead, and with God who gives and takes away the awesome gift of life. Despite the rain, I was determined more than ever to achieve our goals for the day: to visit JFK’s resting place, watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and pay my respects to our soldiers killed in Iraq at the part of the cemetery where their bodies are being buried.

With the rain calming to a misty drizzle, the first two items on our agenda were fairly easy to accomplish. We stood by the eternal flame that burns at JFK’s tombstone, and watched the changing of the guard with dozens of others in deep silence. When it was finished, the sky was darkening. The rain seemed to be picking up. We could have gone home, but I was determined to find where our soldiers are being buried, to see their graves and make the reality of this terrible Iraqi War as real and immediate to me as it is to the families of our brave soldiers who are still dying there to this very day. Buoyed by David and Gina’s will to accompany me in this task, we set off in search of the grave plot.

This was no easy task. Arlington Cemetery is large and confusing. Out in the heart of the cemetery, nothing but graves and paths surround you, with the irregular tree doing little to break up the disorienting pattern of perfectly aligned rows of white tombstones. The rain was picking up, and we were getting cold. My rain-soaked map of the cemetery, with a circle around the area a guide had avowed was the final resting place I sought, seemed a poor reference to the seemingly endless plots laid out before us. Yet after what seemed an interminable search, we began to get our bearings. We were heading down the hill, and east, and the ground began to flatten out. Beyond the graves before us lay acres of untouched land. Thick shrubs rose up beyond the empty plain, where a singular bulldozer rested on the horizon like an ominous warning. Here the ground was soft and muddy. Unlike the other parts of the cemetery, the land here was low, closer to the river, more swamp-like than the solid rolling greens we experienced up on the hill. Our sneakers sank into the ground as murky water crept into our socks. Still we trudged on, scanning the crosses for the words “Operation Iraqi Freedom” that would tell us that these were the men we were looking for.

Finally, almost at the very end of the cemetery, we found them. Here in the fresh, soft earth were our fellow citizens killed in Iraq, many younger then myself. The sight of their graves hit me like a kick in the stomach. Tears welled up in my eyes as I meditated on the tragedy of this war, the loss of these young men, their lives cut off short by a conflict I dread, sent to there deaths on a package of lies. As my thoughts turned to politics, a hot feeling of indignation rose up in my throat. Here lay these honorable men, these American heroes, at the shameful edge of swampiest part of the cemetery. There position seemed like a metaphor for the whole conflict: hidden down in a dark corner of our national consciousness, buried by a soft, empty field that waits ready to accept many more dead without too much of a hassle.

As we wandered through the graves, we came across a Jewish star, the sign of a fellow Jew killed in this Iraq War. Almost instinctively, I gathered my friends around the grave, and then softly, tasting rain mixed with tears, began the Mourner’s Kaddish. Yitgadal V’Yitkadash Shmei Rabah… We completed the prayer, and after a few final moments in silence, we left.

Though the Jewish Day of Remembrance ended today at sundown, it is never too late to take a moment to commemorate the lives of the soldiers and innocent people that have died in the Iraq War. We’re all busy people, and our lives don’t often afford us a lot of time to stand and commemorate the lost lives of those we should mourn. I hope that in some small way, this story will inspire you to take a moment to stand up and remember.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Ronald Reagan for Obama

You don't believe me? Watch the video below...

Good Yom Tov

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Live Blogging The Second Presidential Debate

6:57 PM: Good evening everyone! I'm jumping on the blog to quickly let you know that, after the positive response from the last live blog, I will be giving it another go tonight for the Town Hall Meeting. So tune in to ABAUM'S WORLD and keep refreshing for that spicy political commentary you've come to know and love. See you at nine!

8:50 PM: I am at the apartment of fellow Penn Law Student Nikki Sachdeva, who has generously invited several other students to join her in her lovely apartment in my building to watch the debate. We've just turned on CNN, where the talking heads are doing their best to fill space before the main event. In case you've been living under a rock for the past week, let me set the political stage for you for this debate. John McCain is sinking in the polls faster than the Titanic (and is almost as old!). His anemic response to the economic crisis has made Americans wake up again to the issues in this race, and that is boding well for Obama, who has had much more measured and consistent answers to how he will address the many challenges facing our nation, including the economy. As a result, John McCain and Sarah Palin have spent the week trying to distract the American people from the issues by pulling the Bob Dole "where's the outrage?" line, dredging up old stories about Ayers Wright et. al. in order to try and smear Obama and make him seem like a dangerous choice for Commander in Chief. Tonight, we will be keeping a high alert for attacks from McCain, as he has promised to "take the gloves off," and also analyze how Obama responds to these expected attacks. According to the pundits, the stakes for McCain couldn't be higher; 28 days out from the general election, Obama enjoys leads by a comfortable margin in both the national and state polls. Will McCain be able to make any serious inroads in this debate? Or is the race, as Howard Wolfson recently argued, already essentially over? We'll find out in just a few minutes. As Wolf Blitzer just said, "this should be an exciting night!"

9:00 Blitzer is explaining how this zany town hall format is going to work. Personally, I think these are always a lot of fun, although reports have said that the questions have been pre-screened (boohoo) BUT you never know what people might say on live television. OK, here comes Tom! Best part about this introduction: we at home can be as obnoxious as we want, unlike those in the hall. Point taken, Tom.

9:04 I love this first questioner! Look at the sheen on that skull. Of course the first question is about bailing out Main Street, no Wall Street. Predictable, Obama is tying the downturn to the deregulatory hands off approach of Bush/McCain. Obama's steps to recovery: 1. make the bailout work for the American people will vigorous oversight; high scores for his attack on AIG's recent $400,000 spa getaway; 2. tax cuts for the middle class; 3. long term fixes on healthcare and energy.
McCain: he has a plan too, and it has to do with energy independence. Let's not raise taxes on anyone. Let's stop spending spree in DC. McCain also scoring high marks here. Starts talking about home values. He says he will have the treasurer buy up the homes and renegotiate... this idea not going over as well with the undecideds. McCain tries to put a little emotional oomph behind his "creating jobs" line. And he tries to distance himself from Bush. I think it was a pretty effective opening speech from McCain.

9:09 Treasury Secretaries! McCain: Whitman. Obama: Warren Buffet who by the way supports me. OH I think Obama looks a lot better on this little question. Kristen-Elise would like you all to know that Obama just got a haircut.

9:11 What is the bailout going to do for me?
McCain: this isn't a bailout, it's a rescue! I suspended my campaign (HAHAHA) to go back and fix stuff in DC (actually he got the negotiations off track and contributed to further chaos). Also, I know you never heard of Fannie and Freddie before this crisis (I guess we're all to stupid to know about the two biggest mortgage guarantors in the country). McCain is dipping into th negatives with this speech. Again he's pushing this idea that the government will buy up these mortgages.
Obama: What's in it for you Oliver? Loans for small businesses. Now he's going to correct McCain's history. The problem was the deregulation of the financial system, when McCain was bragging in March that he is a deregulator! Meanwhile, Obama was prescient years ago about regulations. Good job by Obama drawing this important distinction on regulations between he and McCain. I like that Obama looks directly at McCain and says - your people lobbied directly for Fannie Mae. He's not afraid to confront McCain head on, unlike McCain who seems to never look at Obama.

9:17 Obama is doing a great job of continuing to push his message, which has been consistent throughout this entire campaign. McCain is getting much lower marks in his discussion of the economy, and I think this is because people don't think he has credibility on this issue.

9:20 Tying the George Bush budgetary issues around McCain's neck is like a giant anchor that is dragging him down; recall that a new poll this week put Bush's approval rating at 24% (the second lowest of any president in history).
I'm not sure how much credibility we should give the CNN independent voter meter, but overall in the first twenty minutes of this debate, Senator Obama is scoring much higher. McCain keeps talking about this earmark and spending stuff, but people don't care about that. They want to know about what McCain is going to do to fix the economy, not the small potatoes (relatively) of earmarks. This whole line of attack just isn't selling.

9:24 What are your highest priorities out of these 3: social security, healthcare and energy? McCain ducks ranking; instead, he says we can do all three! We can have that commission on entitlements, invest in energy, and... no answer about healthcare.
McCain is trying to sound energetic; he knows people see him as old and cranky, so he's making a smart choice to try and sound bold and optimistic.
Obama says energy has to be dealt with today as both a domestic and foreign policy issue. He wants us to be free of middle eastern oil in ten years, just like JFK wanted to send people to the moon. Love that analogy! Then healthcare, and then education (which Tom didn't even mention, but Obama is smart to put it in, because that's very important to the future of our country and to voters).

9:28 What sacrifices will you ask Americans to make?
McCain: Some programs may need to be eliminated. Smart for McCain to talk about cutting defense spending - there's an issue even I agree with. Even good projects will need to be cut. Once again, McCain is calling for a spending freeze. Here's a good question: how is a spending freeze consistent with the government buying up all these mortgages, as McCain as said several time he wants to do?
Obama: Bringing up 9/11... where is this going? Bush squandered the opportunity to unite Americans after 9/11; Americans were looking for a greater CALL TO SERVICE than just "go out and shop." Americans want to be inspired to do more. I'm going to ask you all to conserve. He's talking about the efforts we can do to help. The takeaway here: notice that Obama has shuffled to the center on energy; he's not talking about renewables, but about increasing conventional supplies here at home. Its a smart political move, even if its not what people concerned about climate change like myself really want to hear.
I am so happy Obama is pumping service here!! As a former AmeriCorps alum, I am so glad to see Obama putting national service on the national stage here at the debate. Thank you BO!
Obama is employing the "hatchet/scalpel" argument again, and I think it is very intelligent, because it demonstrates his understanding that the very richest in this country need to sacrifice a little too. He's able to talk about the unfair policies favoring the rich without looking like a class warfarer.
McCain attacks Obama's tax policy. I'll post the fact check here as soon as it comes as because this was a very unskilled attack on Obama's tax policy.

9:37: Obama: "I want to provide a tax cut for 95% of Americans." If you make more than $250,000 a year, your taxes will go up. If you make less than $200,000 a year, your taxes will go down. Most small businesses will get a tax cut. Meanwhile, Senator McCain wants to give tax cuts to the very rich. It isn't fair and it doesn't work!
I think Obama is the first Democratic candidate since Bill Clinton who has found a clear and compelling way to explain Democrat's progressive tax policy. It sounds smart, fair, and does not sound like class warfare.
Notice that when McCain talks about fixing Social Security, he just says "we will have a bipartisan commission," but gives no answers. He does the same thing on Medicare. McCain gives a minute long answer that doesn't actually say anything.
Summary of McCain's answer: Commission, Commission, Attack Obama.

9:43: "Obama says is has to be safe for disposal or somethin' like that." Yeah, that crazy Obama, wanting to make sure nuclear waste is safely stored! That Whacko!

9:45 What's amazing is that McCain and Obama can both give the same speech essentially - this one now about energy independence and global warming - and Obama makes it sounds like the better speech. Halfway through this debate, I think Obama looks cool, collected and very intelligent, and while McCain is holding his own, he undoubtedly looks like the weaker of the two men.
Tom Brokaw keeps complaining about the breaking of the time limits. No surprise there.

9:48 This is such a strange demeanor McCain keeps showing. "you know who voted against him? that one!" People here think McCain sounds pretentious, especially with this "my friends" line over & over again. Might there even be a bit of a racist tinge behind that kind of statement? It is extremely undignified, to say the least.

9:52 I feel like eyes are glazing over a bit on this whole discussion of healthcare; the question is if healthcare should be treated as a commodity, and Obama doesn't answer it outright. However, Obama does do a good job of contrasting his plan with McCain's.
McCain's answer is to put medical records online? What is he talking about?

9:53: Message from my friend Stephen: "This election is over"

9:55 He sounds like he's talking down to the electorate about health care. Every single one of his lines is going up at the end, making him sound edgy and nervous. It seems like, 55 minutes into this debate, McCain is starting to realize that he's losing this debate and it is making him sound terrible.

9:56: Obama on Healthcare: It should be a right! YES! Thank you Obama! Great job tying his own mother's death from cancer and problem with pre-existing conditions to the problems millions of Americans are facing today.

9:59 The first discussion of foreign policy tonight. Wow. Just another proof of how much economic and domestic issues have become the dominant issue in this election eclipsing big issues like Iraq and terrorism.

10:01: Interesting that as McCain attacks Obama's judgment on Iraq and Georgia, McCain's favorability on foreign policy pummets.
Obama: Yep, there are things I don't understand: I don't understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda or 9/11! This is very smart. It was this line of attack, using his prescience on Iraq, that was instrumental in helping Obama beat Hillary in the primary, and it is going to do the same for him in this election against McCain. As I have always argued, Obama's early opposition to the war is a tremendous strength for him that gives him immediate credibility in discussions of foreign policy. What's amazing is that here, on foreign policy, the issue John McCain is supposedly strongest on, Obama seems stronger than at almost any other time this evening. Watch this again here:

10:04: Obama takes an interventionist tone on the humanitarian intervention question, but qualifies it by saying we can't be everywhere all the time, which is why it is so important for us to work with our allies. I am so glad we're talking about Darfur again; Obama discusses the pro-active steps we could (and he will) be taking as president to stop this genocide.

10:11: "My hero is Teddy Roosevelt..." He just said it was Reagan!
McCain sounds all over the map on his foreign policy discussions.

10:13: Making Obama sound like the one who would go after Bin Laden while he is the "somber and responsible one" doesn't really jive with his "bomb bomb bomb Iran," "let's destroy North Korea," "next stop Baghdad," loose canon-crazy faceness! McCain's outburst, "thank you!" sounds ridiculous, and then Obama shut him down. McCain just doesn't seem to get it.

10:16: Afghanistan:
Obama: to solve that problem, we need a responsible exit from Iraq so we can do what we need to do to secure Afghanistan.

10:18: Did McCain just say "Senator Obama is correct!" Shock of Shocks!

10:21 For better or worse, I just don't think people care very much about Russia, Eastern Europe, or any of these countries. Perhaps sadly, I think Americans are feeling very insular right now and care about what's going on here at home. It seems like eyes are glossing over a bit in the hall.

10:23: Yes or No: Is Russia and evil empire?
Obama: they've engaged in evil behavior, and they still have dangerous national impulses.
McCain: Maybe. And look at this, McCain again picking up on Obama's good point by repeating Obama's excellent line about energy. Smart move for McCain: adopt the smart positions of Obama. Maybe that will help him in the polls!

10:25: Israel! What happens if Iran attacks Israel? Would you support Israel in an attack, or would you wait for the UN?
McCain: I wouldn't wait for the UN... but now instead of answering the question, I'll talk about Iran.
Obama: (oh my god PLEASE do something to show support for Israel). SHIT! Obama baby, you took the bait; instead of talking about Iran, talk about defending Israel! Come on come on make those old bubbes and zeides in my home state know that you're gonna kick as for Israel!!!
Well, it isn't the answer I wanted to hear, but Obama's answers on Iran are scoring in the 80s with those Ohio independent voters. That's pretty great. And others here have made the good point that Obama's discussion about smart diplomacy is good policy AND good politics.

10:30 LAST question: What don't you know, and how will you learn it?
Obama: Most of the time I learn it by asking my wife. He doesn't really answer the question, and he's fumbling over his words a little here, but it is smart to try to create a personal connection with voters that downplays his "exoticism" and shows him as a product of the American dream that he wants to make more available to all Americans.
McCain: I don't know what is going to happen.
QUOTE: "We will be talking about countries that we hardly know where they are on the map." Is McCain admitting that he doesn't know where some countries are on the map?
Does McCain's slogan imply that Obama doesn't put his country first?

That ended on a funny/awkward note: Obama's in the way of the teleprompter? hahaha

Obama kicked ass tonight. Hands down, this was a win for him. I think the door is closing on any chance for John McCain to come back in this election. I believe we will see big numbers for Obama among viewers as the winner. A big bottom line is that this is no game changer; Obama will maintain his lead in the polls and is looking very strong going into the final weeks of this election.


Andrew Sullivan: "This was, I think, a mauling: a devastating and possibly electorally fatal debate for McCain... I've watched a lot of debates and participated in many. I love debate and was trained as a boy in the British system to be a debater. I debated dozens of times at Oxofrd. All I can say is that, simply on terms of substance, clarity, empathy, style and authority, this has not just been an Obama victory. It has been a wipe-out. It has been about as big a wipe-out as I can remember in a presidential debate. It reminds me of the 1992 Clinton-Perot-Bush debate. I don't really see how the McCain campaign survives this."


Who won the debate?

Obama 54%
McCain 30%

Obama's Favorability/Unfavorability Rating
Before Debate: 60%
After the Debate: 68%
Before Debate: 38%
After Debate: 34%

Before Debate: 51%
After Debate: 51%
Before Debate: 46%
After Debate: 46%


Who won?
McCain (R) 27
Obama (D) 39
Draw 35

Will Obama will make the right decisions on the economy?
Before debate: 54
After debate: 68

Will McCain will make the right decisions on the economy?

Before debate: 41
After debate: 49


Who expressed his views more clearly in the debate?
Obama 60
McCain 30

I said during the debate that it seems like McCain is all over the place; he sounds inconsistent, and it is hard to understand what he really believes. Obama, on the other hand, continued to be consistent with his message and the proof is here in this poll.

Who spent more time attacking his opponent?
Obama 17%
McCain 63%

Duh. The problem is that McCain is not leading with any of his own ideas, because his leadership is bankrupt. Obama made smart and devastating attacks, but they didn't seem like the focus of his argument, which is positive and future focused.

Who seemed to be the stronger leader?
Obama 54%
McCain 43%

This is devastating for McCain. Even until recently, this was one of the few areas where McCain had an edge. This poll demonstrates just how far Obama has come in proving to the American people that he is a strong leader.

Who was most likeable?
Obama 65%
McCain 28%

McCain's "my friends" line isn't cutting it anymore. Obama is showing a Clinton-like ability (Bill, not Hillary) to personally connect with voters. His personal story is authentic and compelling.

Who would better suited to fix the economy?
Obama 59%
McCain 37%

With the economy the overwhelmingly #1 issue in this campaign, Obama's huge edge here should be scaring McCain's campaign.

Who sounded more intelligent?
Obama 57%
McCain 25%

Because he did! Obama just sounded more coherent and fresher and more principled. John McCain sounded like a typical politician.

Monday, October 06, 2008

"What a desperate empty embarrassment the McCain campaign has become."

Joe Klein has written a devastating piece on the McCain campaign that powerfully depicts the depths to which the GOP candidate has sunk in his quickly degenerating White House bid. For my Jewish audience, I'd like to especially point out the part about Sarah Palin. While Barack Obama is criticized for statements made by Reverend Wright when Obama was not even present, Sarah Palin has acquiescently sat in the pews while the founder of Jews for Jesus lectured on how terrorist attacks on Israel are God's punishment to the Jews for refusing to accept Jesus. Until 2002, Sarah Palin's husband was a member of an Alaskan Political Party that wants to secede from the Union until 2002; John McCain was a member of the Keating Five, and is a close associate of convicted Iran Contra criminal Gordon Liddy. If the McCain campaign wants to play the guilt by association card, I'm game. But I think we'd all be better served by a focus on the great crises that face our country.

Posted by Joe Klein | Comments (167) | Permalink | Trackbacks (0) | Email This

I'm of two minds about how to deal with the McCain campaign's further descent into ugliness. Their strategy is simple: you throw crap against a wall and then giggle as the media try to analyze the putresence in a way that conveys a sense of balance: "Well, it is bull-pucky, but the splatter pattern is interesting..." which, of course, only serves to get your perverse message out. I really don't want to be a part of that. But...every so often, we journalists have a duty to remind readers just how dingy the McCain campaign, and its right-wing acolytes in the media (I'm looking at you, Sean Hannity) have become--especially in their efforts to divert public attention from the economic crisis we're facing. And so inept at it: other campaigns have decided that their only shot is going negative, but usually they don't announce it, as several McCain aides have in recent days--there's no way we can win on the economy, so we're going to go sludge-diving.
But since we are dealing with manure here, I'll put the rest of this post below the fold.
It is appropriate that the prime vessel for this assault is Sarah Palin, whose very presence on a national ticket is an insult to your intelligence. She now has "credibility," we are told, because she managed to read talking points off notecards in the debate last week with unwitting enthusiasm.
Over the weekend, she picked up on an article in The New York Times, which essentially says that Barack Obama and the former terrorist Bill Ayers have crossed paths in Chicago, served on a couple of charitable boards together, but aren't particularly close. To Palin--or her scriptwriters--this means that Obama has been "palling around" with terrorists. Now, I wish Ayers had done some serious jail time; he certainly needed to pay some penance for his youthful criminality--even if most people in Chicago, including the mayor, have decided that he has something of value to say about education. But I can also understand how Obama, who was a child when Ayers was cutting his idiot swath, would not quite understand the enormity of the professor's background. (I got to know Alger Hiss twenty years after the fact--he was a printing salesman then, a friend of my father's--and thought of him as a sweet old man, if a good deal more liberal than dad's other friends.)

In any case, this is rather rich coming from Palin, who is married to a man who belonged to a political party--the Alaskan Independence Party--that wanted to secede from the union. (I should add here that the Times may have been overreacting to the McCain campaign's attack on its fairness here: the Ayers story was a nothingburger, but it was placed prominently in the top left hand corner of page one--a position that would seem to indicate that it contained important news, which it didn't.)
Then we have the ever-reliable Bill Kristol, in today's New York Times, advising Palin to bring up the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Palin, of course, believes that's a darn good idea:
“To tell you the truth, Bill, I don’t know why that association isn’t discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country, and to have sat in the pews for 20 years and listened to that — with, I don’t know, a sense of condoning it, I guess, because he didn’t get up and leave — to me, that does say something about character. But, you know, I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring that up.”
So then, I'd guess, it would be appropriate to bring up some of the nuttiness that passes for godliness in Palin's religious life. Leave aside the fact that The Embarracuda allowed herself to participate in a cermony that protected her from witchcraft, how about her presence--she didn't "get up and leave"-- at a sermon by the founder of Jews for Jesus, who argued that the Palestinian terrorist acts against Israel were God's "judgment" on the Jews because they hadn't accepted Jesus.
Speaking of Jews, the ever-execrable Sean Hannity has been having intercourse with a known Jew-hater named Andy Martin, who now wants to expose Barack Obama as a Muslim. According to the Washington Times:
In 1986, when Mr. Martin ran as a Democrat for Connecticut's 3rd Congressional District seat under the name "Anthony R. Martin-Trigona," his campaign committee filed papers saying its purpose was to "exterminate Jew power in America and impeach U.S. District Court of Appeals judges in New York City."
Calling all Podhoretzs! Where's the outrage? I mean, don't the hateful doings at Palin's church and Hannity's perfidy deserve a lengthy exegesis from Pete Wehner or Jennifer Rubin or one of the other empretzled ideologues over at Commentary?
As I said, I'm of two minds about this. I don't want to give currency to this sewage, so it will remain below the fold. And I'll try to devote the lion's share of my time to the issues--the war, the economic crisis, the fraying health insurance system, the environment--that should define this campaign. But what a desperate empty embarrassment the McCain campaign has become.

Republicans Fear PA Slipping Away

My friend Dan Hirschhorn writes for, a great website on regional politics that has individual sites for many states. A few days ago, I predicted that McCain may need to pull out of PA in the next few weeks as his position in the state continues to erode, and he faces tough battles in states like Florida and Ohio that are must wins for him come November. Here's an article by Dan that extends that argument. Check it out!

Hypocrisy In Action

Back in April, when the North Carolina Republican Party planned an ad about Wright, McCain said (quoting from a NY Times Article):

“There’s no place for that kind of campaigning, the American people don’t want it, period,” Mr. McCain told reporters on his bus this morning. He said he had not seen the ad and hoped that he wouldn’t, but that he had been given a description of it.

“I understand that it moves numbers, negative ads do all that, but that doesn’t mean it’s right,” Mr. McCain said.

Fast forward to today. John McCain and his campaign are releasing a barrage of attacks, trying to tie Obama to William Ayers and Reverend Wright. Weren't these the exact tactics McCain himself denounced?

I guess for John McCain, it's "do as I say, not as I do."

UPDATE: A former teacher of mine had the following comments on this post; quite insightful, so I thought I would share:

"Guilt by association is a terrible tactic for McCain/Palin. They've opened the can of worms re: McCain's association with Charles Keating and the Lincoln Savings & Loan debacle for which McCain was reprimanded by the senate for "poor judgement." More troubling is the fact that in the 80's he was on the board of the U.S. Council for World Freedom, a group with ties to Nazis and neo-Nazis that the ADL classified as anti-Semitic. And Palin has some serious background issues as well. She was not a member of the AIP but her husband was. Hmm. Guilt by association? Do the Republicans really want to go there?"

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Economists Overwhelmingly Agree: Obama Better for the Economy

An article out in today's Economist reports that "a survey of academic economists . . . finds the majority—at times by overwhelming margins—believe Mr Obama has the superior economic plan, a firmer grasp of economics and will appoint better economic advisers." This may come as a surprise to some died-in-the-wool conservatives, but for me, it was no great shock. Earlier this year, I posted an article from Slate on Facebook about economic data indicating that, over the past sixty years, the American economy has done better under Democratic administrations by most indications. And it wasn't long ago that our economy was creating millions of new jobs, enjoying rising wages and living standards, and projected budget surpluses under the Clinton Administration. This news about Obama's economic team is really just a continuation of a running theme in his campaign, which is that he strives to make wise, studied and steady judgments by soliciting the best advice he can get from the best people, and then uses his own values and judgment to lead people in the right direction. Americans are turning to him in droves at this critical juncture in the campaign because they can trust Obama on the economy, and because all they have seen from John McCain is an erratic approach that leaves most voters unclear on where he stands and uncertain if he really knows anything about the economy at all.

Here's the breakdown of the numbers from the Economist article:

Here's a devastating assortment of clips of John McCain himself being questioned about the economy.

John McCain, in his own words:

"I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated."
-The Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2005

"The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should, said Mccain. I've got Greenspan's book."
- Boston Globe, December 18, 2007

Here he is again, saying he is not an expert on Wall Street...

Is this the man you want running the country during an economic crisis? Or do you want the man that 71% of unaffiliated economists believe is the smart choice to govern this nation, and whom 81% of economists think will do a better job than John McCain?

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