Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Does Keith Olbermann Still Not Vote?

My sister reminded me last night that Keith Olbermann once proclaimed that he doesn't vote. Astonished, I asked the Google and found this OJR interview from 2004:
OJR: How would you describe yourself politically on the liberal-to-conservative spectrum? How important do you think it is for MSM to be transparent on their political affiliations?

KO: I'm not political. I don't vote -- I don't believe journalists covering politics should (and I don't think the democracy would suffer if however many of us there are, recused ourselves). I have no more interest in the political outcome of an election than I did in the winner or loser of any ballgame I ever covered. I think transparency is vital; I think it's also, in these super-heated political times, unintentionally inescapable. If a reporter's work in turn winds up criticizing a candidate or party in some cases, and praising that same candidate or party in others, he's as close to neutral as he can be. If not, he's a partisan. The partisans outnumber the neutrals 1000:1.
Mickeleh's Take: This statement predates Olbermann's signature Special Comments, which began August 30, 2006. Anybody know if Keith still claims to have no interest in the political outcome of an election? Is, "I don't vote" still operative?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama's Closing Infomercial and FDR's

Obama's cross-network TV infomercial tomorrow night is probably the single most expensive political ad buy in history: Thirty minutes on CBS, NBC, Fox, three cable news nets, (but not ABC).

The precedent for this is older than the TV era. On election eve, 1944, the Democrats bought an hour of time on all four national radio networks to drum up votes for Roosevelt in his campaign against New York governor Thomas E. Dewey.

SNL previewed Obama's closer as a variety show.

I have no idea if that's what Obama's team has planned. But an all-star variety show is just what FDR's team delivered.

In 1944, the Democrats handed the assignment for developing the format and script for their get-out-the-vote broadcast to Norman Corwin, the most imaginative and poetic writer of the radio era, (still active today at 98). Erik Barnouw wrote that based on the President's approval of a two-page outline, Corwin was given a free hand to develop the show.

What he delivered combines testimonials from citizens across the country and the political spectrum, combined with musical numbers written for the show by Earl Robinson ("Joe Hill," "The House I Live In," "Ballad for Americans") and lyrcist E. Y. "Yip" Harburg ("April in Paris," "Only a Paper Moon"). Singers on the show included two stars who had introduced Harburg classics in their 1939 films, Judy Garland ("Over the Rainbow" in Wizard of Oz) and Groucho Marx ("Lydia the Tatooed Lady" in At the Circus).

You can hear the FDR infomerical online at Vintage Radio Place. Click the Nov 5 show. Then jump ahead to the second hour.

What struck me on hearing the show was how many of the themes and issues raised in 1944 have close parallels to today's campaign.

Vote Suppression: Roosevelt charged that "Millions of soldiers and sailors and merchant seamen have been handicapped or prevented from voting by those politicians and those candidates who think that they stand to lose by such votes."

Campaign Finance: 1944 was the year of the very first PAC. It was set up by the CIO to allow individuals to make small contributions to counter large Republican donations, such as the $13 million given by Sun Oil's Joseph N. Pew Jr. ($13 million in 1944 is equivalent to $161 million today). Naturally, the Republicans denounced it.

Investment in Energy A Tennessee farmer testifies to the benefits of the TVA

The Republican Brand: Then as now, the Republican brand was in tatters. Just as Obama ties McCain to Bush (Iraq, Katrina, Financial Meltdown), the Roosevelt broadcast tied Dewey to Hoover and Harding (Depression, Prohibition, Tea Pot Dome). James Cagney, Groucho Marx, and Keenan Wynn drive the point home in a medly that included"In the Good Ol' Hoover Time" and
East side, west side
All around the town
Banks were bustin' right in your face
Stocks were tumblin down
"Prosperity 'round the corner"
Bread lines 'round the block
Don't let Dewey bring Hoover
To the Sidewalks of New York.
Socialism: Groucho reminded the audience that the red communism scare had been used again and again with "distinguished lack of success." and went on to sing, "The Old Red Scare it ain't what it used to be."

Republican support: Just as the McCain campaign prodded a stream of conservative and Republican voters to announce for Obama, the FDR broadcast featured a series of Republicans who testified that they were voting for Roosevelt. The highlight was 94-year-old Julius Oscar, who, as a child, had shaken Lincoln's hand.

Celebrity Endorsements: FDR's backers appearing on the show included a very impressive cast. (Ronald Reagan was not there, but Jane Wyman was.)
From Hollywood:
Joan Bennett
Mr. and Mrs. Irving Berlin
Humphrey Bogart
Virginia Bruce
Jimmy Cagney
Harry Carey
Claudette Colbert
Joseph Caution
Linda Darnell
John Garfield
Judy Garland
James Gleason
Paulette Goddard
Susan Hayward
Rita Hayworth
Walter Huston
Rex Ingram
George Jessel
Danny Kaye
Gene Kelly
Evelyn Keyes
Groucho Marx
Paul Muni
George Raft
Edward G. Robinson
Gale Sondergaard
Lana Turner
Richard Whorf
Monty Woolley
Jane Wyman
Keenan Wynn
plus the youngest and oldest voters
19-year-old Betty Hall and 94-year-old Julius Oscar.

From New York:
Constance Bennett
Gertrude Berg
Milton Berle
Charles Boyer
Marc Connelly
Bennett Cerf
John Dewey
Eddie Dowling
Olin Downes
Edna Ferber
John Gunther
Fannie Hurst
the Ink Spots
Dorothy Maynor
Vilhjalmur Stefansson
Alonzo Myers
Dorothy Parker
Waldo Pierce
Elmer Rice
Barney Ross
Vincent Sheean
Frank Sinatra
Paul Strand
Franchot Tone
Louis Untermeyer
Benay Venuta
Fay Wray.

From Hyde Park:
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Roosevelt's speech at the close of the broadcast was surpringly unpolitical. He didn't mention his opponent. He didn't ask for votes. He simply asked the American people to be thoughful, look forward to the peace, and create a world worthy of the sacrifice of our fighters. He ended with a prayer.

The chairman of the DNC, Paul Porter, told Corwin that he thought the broadcast produced an additional million votes.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ron the Director, Meet Your Fans

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Joe the Plumber, Meet Amy the Makeup Artist

I have no special insight here. Just a burning need to unload to post some snark on the news that Amy Strozzi, Gov. Palin's makeup artist, drew top dollar in the entire McCain campaign staff for drawing on the face that launched a thousand quips. I don't suppose Sen. McCain will be introducing her on the Joe the Plumber tour.

Mickeleh's Take: Amy Strozzi's other big credit is "So You Think You Can Dance." Maybe she can offer some terpsichorean tips to the McCain surrogates making the rounds of cable news today. They're going to be doing some mighty fancy tap dancing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Palin's Wardrobe: Stop Whining. Those Outfits Are Fabulous

Politico broke the story. "RNC shells out $150K for Palin fashion." And everyone piled on. Ambinder (Atlantic) said "Republicans Disgusted." Koppelman (Salon) snarked "How real Americans dress." Tayor Marsh reminds us that Cindy McCain spent twice that for a single outfit. dday called her a "Welfare Queen." Josh_Painter (Redstate) brushes it off as a bargain—the money didn't just buy outfits for the Gov, but for her whole family. Pandagon calculates that John Edwards could have had a $400 haircut every week for 7.2 years. L.A. Times calls it a "$150,000 Wardrobe Malfunction" and a "one-woman economic stimulus plan."

I say, knock it off. Back in the fifties, Nixon kept his place on the ticket by telling the TV audience that his wife, "doesn't have a mink coat. But she does have a respectable Republican cloth coat, and I always tell her she'd look good in anything."

But TV was black and white back then. And generally fuzzy. Today, we're in a world of color and HD. I say, let Palin dress for success.

Here's the most delicious irony of it all. The official McCain response to the flap:
With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it's remarkable that we're spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses. It was always the intent that the clothing go to a charitable purpose after the campaign."
—Tracey Schmitt, McCain spokesperson.
Aren't these the folks who said “If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we’re going to lose”? Now that they want to talk about the economy, they're stuck with the visual dissonance of a hockey mom in couturier fashion. Oops.

Mickeleh's Take: Back in burlesque, they used the phrase "talking woman" to mean a female who could actually deliver lines in a sketch. Talking women were rare in the genre. Most women in burlesque were hired strictly for their looks. Palin may have started out at the Republican Convention with great reviews as a talking woman, but lately the more she says, the less voters think of her. Yesterday's polls say she's an even bigger drag on McCain than Bush. So Palin's a washout as a talking woman. Still, the outfits are fabulous. She wears them well. Don't begrudge.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Robocalls: Shine a Light and Make the Cockroaches Scurry

Have you ever before seen a campaign rebroadcast their opponent's slimiest ads? Obama has put the McCain Robocalls on YouTube for all to see.

Time was that politics was like the world of Fritz Lang's Metropolis. A visible world of daylight, and a dark subterranean shadow world. The worst of the smears through push polls, phone calls, flyers and mailers thrived in the underground campaigns. No more.

Mickeleh's Take: The primary campaign was a vaccine. We all got the killed virus months ago. We have anti-bodies now.

The Musical Lilt of Sarah Palin's Speech

Woid sent this to me. He says it's sprechtstimme. I say it's bold and refreshing and devilishly funny.

Mickeleh's Take: There are so many things this talented woman could do. She'll bounce back.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

McCain Defends His Fans. Let's Meet a Few

McCain said this last night at the debate:
"I'm not going to stand for people saying that the people that come to my rallies are anything but the most dedicated, patriotic men and women that are in this nation and they're great citizens."
Let's meet some of these great citizens:

Senator, do you want to revise your remarks? Or stand by them.

Mickeleh's Take: I cheated. Those folks aren't actually going to a McCain rally. They're going to a Palin rally. Whole different animal.

Debate Insta-shirt

Looks like John McCain has a new running mate. And the merchandize is ready-to-wear already. Woid is the designer. You have a choice of several shirt styles and a mug. Celebrate the world's second most famous plumber (Nixon's gang of burglars notwithstanding).

(Note: at the presidential debate last night, John McCain made innumberable references to a citizen that had a conversation with Barack Obama about taxes. McCain called him "Joe, the plumber." Today we've learned a lot about Joe: He's not a licensed plumber. While he's concerned about Obama's tax plans, he owes back taxes. He thinks Social Security is a joke.

Josephine The Plumber,
Even More Famous than Joe

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Help to Filibuster-proof the Senate

Goal Thermometer
A sixty-seat, fillibuster-proof majority within reach of the Democrats. Can you give $6 for 60 votes?

As of October 15th, Democratic challengers lead in enough states to yield a 59-seat Democratic caucus. But that includes Joe Lieberman (I-CT).

Can we get to 60? Can we do it without Lieberman?

There are six states where polls put the candidates within 5 points of each other. Democrats are barely ahead in three (AK, MN, NC). Republicans are barely ahead in three (KY, MS, GA).

If we hold the three Democratic leads, that brings us up to 59. If we can turn one of the Republican leads, we make 60. If we turn two, we can have sixty without Lieberman.

Because of the closeness of these races, these are the states where additional contributions can have the greatest impact in reaching a filibuster-proof majority.

I've set up a page on ActBlue to make it easy to contribute to these six tight Senate races.

If you give each of these candidates $6, that's a total donation of $36. If that's too much, then pick your favorites from the list and give $6 to as many as you can.

Mickeleh's Take: I set up the page with a very modest goal of raising $360. We blew past that in just a few hours, so I've doubled the goal.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hey, John, You Earned Yourself a "Get Out of Jail Free" Card. But You're Still on Parole

John, my fellow prisoner, you did us proud last night, telling your fightened, hateful fan-base that Obama is not Arab (though you might have mentioned that it's okay to be Arab and it's even okay to be Arab-American). You told them that Obama's a decent family man and you said the members of your posse don't have to fear him as president. For that, I hand you this "Get Out of Jail Free" card.

But, my friend, you're still on parole. And we can haul your ass back into Demogogue Jail at any moment. What you did was good as far as it goes. But now you have to show us far it can go. Does it undo your running-mate's and your advertising's game of guilt by word association (terrorists-pallin' around-shady)?

You answered "Who is the real Barack Obama?" Twice. But many times did you ask it? Has your campaign ceased asking it? Look how nicely your new words fit your old questions:

John, you have, as the Prophet Hosea put it, sown the wind. And now you're reaping the whirlwind. Your campaign has attracted a core supporter base that is among the most fearful, ill-informed, hateful, and irrational in the country. You, Palin and your surrogates have expressed, magnified, and unleashed their hatreds. The vast subterranean river of slander carried out of public view by emails is now spewing forth in your rallies with calls for violence against Barack Obama. Are you going to take responsibility for cleaning up that sewage? When?

You've made a meme of "I know how to do it." Well let's see if you know how to do this: Can you stuff that foul genie back into the bottle?.

You're auditioning for leader. Let's see if you can lead your rabble back to sanity. Let's see if you can lead the Atwater-inspired, Rove-trained crew that you hired on a path back to rational discourse? Can you lead your Vice Presidential choice away from her winky-poo demagoguery? Can you lead your estranged and bullying base back into the American family?

We're watching.

Mickeleh's Take: John, I'm so proud of my country because it isn't falling for the same old Nixon-spawned politics of division that your team attempted. They don't believe, don't even have much interest in the scurrilous messages you approved. And have you noticed the growing chorus of decent conservatives and Republicans who have spoken out agains your wretched, lying, dangerous tactics? I don't expect you to listen to me. But how about listening to them? I don't think you can save your campaign any more, but there's a chance might be able to save some shred of your reputation. Get out of jail, my fellow prisoner. Get off parole. Be a mensch.

Lee Stranahan's 30 Days, 30 Reasons

Lee Stranahan counts us down to election day with a project to release a video a day telling us why he's voting for Obama. Here's the series so far.

Mikeleh's Take: So far, so good. Worth watching. Subscribe to Lee's YouTube Channel to get the rest of the series. Or Come back here, I'll be adding them as he releases them.

Feelin' The Love?

Guess Who's the Real Crypto Muslim in This Race

Hat tip to John Green, (author, vlogbrother, nerdfighter, and anagrammarian) for getting me thinking about vice presidential anagrams this morning.

I soon discovered that Sarah Palin anagrams to "Sharia plan." So, clearly, she's the one who plans to institute Muslim law in the United States.

By the way, John's favored anagrams for the candidates:

I need job (Joe Biden)
Las Piranha (Sarah Palin)

Mickeleh's Take: Other anagrams for Sarah Palin include:
a sharp nail
a plain rash
anal parish
has anal rip
(but you didn't hear them from me.)

Two apt anagrams for Joe Biden:
jibe node
jibe done.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Divine Intervention Against Free Speech?

At the Palin rally in Greenville, N.C., the Rev. Walter Leake prayed this prayer invoking both Scripture and the X-Files:
Father, you said the truth will set us free. We know the truth is out there, and the truth is that the other side is lying, ubelievably lying... God, we ask you to close their mouths."

After which, Palin proceded to tell two oft-debunked lies that stand at the heart of her stump speech.

Mickeleh's Take: "God bless America," I'm used to. "God, tell Obama to STFU" is new territory.

Quick, Everyone Send John McCain a Cake With a File Baked Into It.

I don't know exactly why John McCain addressed us all as, "My fellow prisoners." It may have been a vibe he picked up from Warden Baracuda standing behind him. He may have been watching too many Naomi Wolff videos. He may just be feeling trapped in a role which has forced him put his honor into dry dock for the duration. Maybe he was reading the biography of Father Damien among the lepers on Molokai. But whatever it is, he said it.

When you watch the video, keep your eye on Palin. She's looking at John until he has his brain-fart, then... well, see for yourself.
Mickeleh's Take: Let's all send him a cake with a file baked in. If that won't get by the Secret Service, then let's all send him a harmonica.

The Rabid Base Gets Real Foamy

Earlier, I noted that John McCain declined to bring the mud last night. I thought that was in recognition that the mud is only working for his rabid base and not at all for independents and undecideds.

Turns out the rabid base was none-too-happy about that. Andy McCarthy in NRO's "The Corner," got real foamy in the mouth about it. Called it a disaster and said McCain failed because he didn't portray Obama as a radical leftist. He blamed the failure on McCain's not being a true-believer in conservative doctrine.
Memo to McCain Campaign: Someone is either a terrorist sympathizer or he isn't; someone is either disqualified as a terrorist sympathizer or he's qualified for public office. You helped portray Obama as a clealy qualified presidential candidate who would fight terrorists.


With due respect, I think tonight was a disaster for our side. I'm dumbfounded that no one else seems to think so.
The debates have been a fine way for us all to answer Groucho's question: "Who are you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?" McCarthy is just furious that the country is coming around to believe our own eyes rather than the dangerous radical they conjure and fulminate against.

Mickeleh's Take
: Memo to McCain Campaign; cc: Andy McCarthy. You can tell me: Do any of you actually believe the crap you are trying to pin on Obama? Or is it—as it looks from the outside—pure, cynical demogoguery? I'm getting the impression that you are derranged enough to swallow your own snake oil.

"That One" "That Girl" & "This Boy"

"That One" is the immortal line from this debate. File it with "There you go again," and "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

In celebration, please enjoy the following vids.

That One (McCain)

That Girl (Marlo Thomas)

This Boy (Beatles)

Mickeleh's Take: At least McCain didn't munge all three of these and call Obama "That boy."

Who Won The Debate? Irrelevant.

Before last night's presidential debate, Obama had a clear lead in both national polls, and state-by-state electoral votes.

In order to change that, McCain would have had to deliver a breakthrough. He didn't. If you favored him, he did well enough for you to tout his victory. But if you didn't, nothing he said or did would have flipped you into his column. Best line of all is from Melissa McEwan:
McCain needed to win; he did not. He got owned. Say goodnight, Johnny. It's President That One to you.
I'll tell you (though you know I'm biased going in) that Obama did better on substance, style, energy, focus, and looking, as Buffy once said, "very commandery." He did himself some good in bringing home some undecideds.

I'll tell you that McCain started strong, but tired out through the debate, puttered aimlessly across the stage, looked grumpy and uncomfortable when Obama spoke, came to life briefly when he gave a navy guy a back pat and a handshake.

I'll tell you that the CNN audience dial-a-smile didn't seem very interested in what McCain had to say.

I don't have to tell you, because you probably read it elsewhere that the insta-polls gave it decisively to Obama.

I won't miss Tom ("Is Russia evil?") Brokaw.

Mickeleh's Take: If you want Obama in the White House, don't let up. We still have four long weeks to go. But smile while you work.

Second Debate: Who is the Real John McCain?

The most striking thing about last night's presidential debate is what we didn't hear. McCain didn't bring up Ayres, Rezko, or Rev. Wright. He didn't tell us that Sen. Obama accuses the U.S. of doing nothing in Afghanistan but bombing innocents. He didn't accuse Obama of wanting to raise taxes on people making $42,000. He didn't say that Obama just showed up "out of nowhere."

The Sen. McCain who debated last night bore no resemblance to the Sen. McCain whose campaign has been throwing nothing but mud and asking, "Who's the real Barack Obama?" The John McCain who came to at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn comes from an alternate universe.

Except for an eruption of disdain that burst out in when he called his opponent, "that one," this John McCain pretty much stuck to issues while he puttered around the stage. He threw only the mildest of shopworn zingers ("nailing jello to a wall") and a short list of distortions, including the canard that Obama voted 94 times for tax increases. (Using the same dubious methodology that gets Obama to 94, McCain voted 105 times for tax increases since 2005 and nearly 500 times in his Senate career.)

It was a tacit admission that the core of his campaign is not working for anyone but the rabid base. It's a flop with undecideds and an energizer for Democrats. If you watched the CNN dial-o-rama to see how their panel of viewers rated the debate minute-by-minute you could see that anytime McCain went negative, the response flat-lined.

Mickeleh's Take: Who is the real John McCain? The fellow who showed up last night to debate, or the one that approves a steady stream of deceptive smear ads and whose running mate demagogues Obama as a pal of terrorists?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Short Takes

Time for Biden to get up and remind a rally that John McCain is pallin' around with Phil Gramm, an economic terrorist who targets his own country.

Marlon Brando in the Story of John McCain
(Upright Citizens Brigade)

BarbinMD: "At what point do we call the tactics of John McCain and Sarah Palin for what they are? Hate mongering"

Howie Klein: "Unless 'maverick' means a crook or a tired old wreck of a man, McCain is no maverick."

16-yr old girl: "Mom, anyone who has ever seen even one Disney movie can tell that Sarah Palin is the bad guy in this story."

One more right wing lie to set straight: The Palin Rape Kit story has not been debunked.

I used to think this Ira Gershwin lyric was a quaint reminder of a time long gone:
Refrain from "Who Cares?"

Let it rain and thunder,
Let a million firms go under.
I am not concerned with
Stocks and bonds that I've been burned with!
The lyric also includes this couplet that I've enjoyed all my life (because it mentions the town where I grew up). But I've never caught its full impact till now:
Who cares what banks fail in Yonkers
As long as you've got a kiss that conquers.
Here's how to answer someone who tells you they won't vote for Obama because he's a Muslim.

Mickeleh's Take: Here's the upside of the McCain Palin Slime Talk Express: It exposes them as having zero honor. It wouldn't be happening if they didn't know why the rest of us know: they're losing.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Thirty Days, Thirty Reasons to Vote Obama

Lee Stranahan kicks off a month-ong series of videos in support of Barack Obama. First installment: health care.

Mickeleh's Take: Obama wants to end the insurance companies's ability to reject people who have pre-existing conditions. The best way to do that is to reject McCain-Palin on the basis of their pre-existing condition: they're Republicans.

Bruce: Why he Supports Obama

Mickeleh's Take: I've heard many speeches in support of Obama. This is a good as they come. (He sings, too.)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

McCain and Palin: Double Standard?

L. John McCain, speaking in Indepedence, MO, Oct. 1
R. Sarah Palin, at the V.P. debate in St. Louis, Missouri, Oct. 3.

Mickeleh's Take: The eyes have it. When McCain does it, they call it a twitch. When Palin does it, they say it's a wink. Somehow that just doesn't seem fair to me.

Friday, October 03, 2008

VP Debate: What did Palin Actually Say?

The lasting impressions of the debate come from the visuals, the demeanor, the smiles, the glares, the poses. We all know that. But before it all fades away, it's worth taking note of what Gov. Palin actually said last night.

Well, for one, Palin said nookyular. There's one culture war I'm happy to sign up for: the Nuclears against the Nookyulars. If you can't pronounce nuclear, you just don't get to be Vice President. Stop trying to rhyme Nookyular with arugula. We've had eight years of nookyular. That's enough.

And then she said this:
"I'm thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president's policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are. "
WTF? Do we know which Constitution she's referring to? Do we know what her intentions are? And if I may be so bold as to ask, does she?

There was a brief relapse into her Couric-era syntax of loosely connected phrases (includin' some more o' that "head-rearin" she's so fond o' warnin' us about—only this time it wasn't Putin doin' it. It was pesky mortgage lenders)"
...there have been so many changes in the conditions of our economy in just even these past weeks that there has been more and more revelation made aware now to Americans about the corruption and the greed on Wall Street.
We need to look back, even two years ago, and we need to be appreciative of John McCain's call for reform with Fannie Mae, with Freddie Mac, with the mortgage-lenders, too, who were starting to really kind of rear that head of abuse.... It is a crisis. It's a toxic mess, really, on Main Street that's affecting Wall Street.
Throughout the debate she made a string of assertions that ranged from dubious to infuriatingly false:
  • that John McCain is "one representing reform" in our financial markets
  • that he's the one who brought the folks in Congress together
  • that he suspended his campaign
  • that he put politics aside
  • that he really meant "the American workforce" when he called the fundamentals of our economy strong
  • that Obama supported raising taxes for families making only $42,000
  • that John McCain is "known for" pushing for even harder and tougher regulations
  • that John McCain's health care proposal is a good deal for folks.
  • that Barack Obama "even opposed funding our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan"
  • that our current troop deployment (152,000) is down to pre-surge levels (132,000)
  • that Obama's plan for for troop withdrawal is white flag of surrender in Iraq"
  • that Obama refused to acknowledge the surge is working
  • that "victory is within sight" in Iraq
  • that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror
  • that Obama would meet with enemies "without diplomatic efforts being undertaken first"
  • that John McCain knows how to win a war
On that last point, I need to ask, what is the evidence that John McCain knows how to win a war? Did he ever win one? Given his academic record (finishing 894th out of 899 students in his class at Annapolis), it surely wasn't book-learning.

Palin declared that she wasn't about to answer any questions that didn't please her, and proceeded instead to deliver a rote recitation of the misleading and discredited talking points that the McCain camp has been peddling all summer. That's treating her audience with the same dirisive contempt that McCain showed to Obama last week.

It wasn't so much a debate as an interrupted monolog. Eugene Robinson put it this way: "the pattern, so far, has been one of Biden presenting facts and Palin countering with… saying stuff."

The New York Times summed up the debate this:
In the end, the debate did not change the essential truth of Ms. Palin’s candidacy: Mr. McCain made a wildly irresponsible choice that shattered the image he created for himself as the honest, seasoned, experienced man of principle and judgment. It was either an act of incredible cynicism or appallingly bad judgment.
Mickeleh's Take: I said yesterday that even a perfect storm of Palin success, Biden failure, and Ifill bias wouldn't change the dynamics of the race. In reality there wasn't a storm of any magnitude whatever. Palin had, at best, a mild recovery. Biden's performance carried the day with independent voters in both the CBS and CNN surveys, and Ifill lived up to her well-earned reputation as a solid pro. On balance, the Dems are now two for two in debates. So the race goes on.

VP Debate: Talk About Your Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

If you are a Republican you're ecstatic that your candidate actually can talk. You're proud she can duck questions and deride "the filter." You think she was pretty slick to co-opt Obama's change message and slap it onto McCain. And you marveled at her attempt to ward off any examination of your sorry record with a leaden rewrite of a Reagan classic: "Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointin' backwards again." You loved how perky she was, with the beaming smile, the winks, the head tilt and the occasional puzzled nose-scrunching.

If you were grading her on a curve that also includes a tennis ball, an avocado, and that lady who showed up for the Couric interview, you'd have to say she aced it. OK, base, consider yourselves re-energized.

Mickeleh's Take: As for the rest of us, we're still scared shitless about what the Republicans have done to our economy, our national honor, our prestige in the world, and our constitution. We didn't find any substantive answers in Palin's presentation. Instead we found a rote recitation of discredited Republican talking points. We're ready to move on.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The VP Debate. Will it Even Matter?

The most likely outcome of tonight's debate between Gov. Palin and Sen. Biden is this: we get to see Tina Fey again this weekend. 

But will the debate have any impact at all on the race to the White House? Probably not.

People vote the top of the ticket, not the bottom. And at the top of the ticket, the Obama momentum is growing. A CBS-New York Times poll finds Obama's favorable rating at 48%—the highest its been in this poll. By contrast, McCain's mavericky teflon has worn perilously thin; his unfavorable rating now reaching 42%—the highest in the poll's history.

Following a tiny bounce after the Republican Convention, Sen. McCain's national polling has been trending down, while Sen. Obama's is trending up. (shown pollster.com's trend chart of last month's composite poll of polls).

Even more dramatic is the recent movement in electoral votes. In state polling since the Wall St. meltdown and the first presidential debate, Obama seems headed for a solid win in electoral votes. CNN - Time - Opinion Research polling shows Obama ahead among likely voters in Florida (+4), Minnesota (+11), Misouri (+1), Nevada (+4), and Virginia (+9). Obama's lead among registered voters is even wider. (Given all the evidence we've seen of expanded voter interest and participation, the likely-voter forumula probably understates Obama's margin) NBC's Chuck Todd, this morning, called it a "tipping point."

It's Character, not Issues.

The McCain strategy has always been to make the campaign about driving up Obama's negatives to make him appear too risky. Celebrity. Speechmaker. Unready. Unpatriotic. (The underground campaign pushes even further: crypto-Muslim, anti-American, anti-Israel, socialist—a guy whose secret agenda is set by some shady, dangerous friends and influences. Not to mention his wacky peacher—and mention him as often as possible.)

But the last two weeks have reduced that campaign to a Groucho line: "who are you gonna believe—me or your own eyes?"

Our own eyes have given us a close look at "no drama Obama," responding to crisis with measured strength, steady communication, and deft humor. The same crisis showed us a clear view of McCain lurching from one position to another, one stunt to another, one outburst to another.

What's the Best She Can Do?

Against all this, what's the very best outcome Sarah Palin can deliver to her ticket? The bloom is definitely off the rose. Gov. Palin has quickly moved from an argument for McCain's strategic genius, to another example of his impulsively dangerous decision-making. She's in a very deep hole right now. Clearly unprepared for national office. Uninterested in national issues. Unable to name a newspaper. Unaware that supporting a constitutional right of privacy undermines the anti-Roe v. Wade position.

Some pundits are telling us is that the bar is now so low for Palin, that a charm offensive, a few canned zingers, plus some folksy soccer-mommery will make her a winner. Nonsense. She can't charm her way out of the devastating self-portrait she painted under the gentle prodding of Katie Couric. No way. Laughing stock today. Laughing stock tonight. Laughing stock tomorrow.

Some pundits are telling us that verbose and gaffe-prone Biden will say something dumb and talk too much. Who cares? He's immune. That's who he is. That's who he was. That's who he will be. Everyone already knows that. But he's also solid, informed, and active in both international and domestic issues and in tune with the Chris Matthews "regular American" voter. That won't change either.

Mickeleh's Take: Let say there's a perfect storm tonight. They let Palin be Palin and she's the best Palin she can possibly be. Joe Biden is at his worst. And Gwen Ifill is discredited as pro-Obama. Does anyone expect significant votes to shift toward the erratic, impulsive, resentful, disdainful, and less-than-honest McCain-Palin ticket? I don't. All their base is belong to them. The rest of us are voting for change.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Perfect Palin Metaphor: She's a Post Turtle

Just got this email from a local Obama supporter. It pretty well sums it up.

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75-year old Texas rancher who was injured while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to Sarah Palin and her bid to be a heartbeat away from being President.

The old rancher said, "Well, ya know, Palin is a post turtle."
Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a post turtle was.

The old rancher said, "When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle."
The old rancher saw a puzzled look on the doctor's face, so he continued to explain.

"You know she didn't get up there by herself, she doesn't belong up there, she doesn't know what to do while she is up there, and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put her up there to begin with."

Have a great day and see you at the polls on November 4th.

Mickeleh's Take: Pass it on.

"We Have Some Results For You"

Mickeleh's Take: Brilliant. Daisy-girl, I think you're in second place now.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Spin Surrogates: Biden kills, Palin is MIA

Presidential debates are the only sporting event where the post-game show counts for more than the game. It's the coverage that reminds people what they need to remember. Obama sent his V.P. Biden was on fire.

Sen. Joe Biden Surrogate and Spinmeister Extraordinaire.

In the debate last night McCain praised his V.P. "I'm happy to say that I've got a partner that's a good maverick along with me now." But said V.P. was not available for spin duty. (Maybe she was on Letterman last night.)
Gov. Sarah Palin. Nowhere to be seen last night.

Mickeleh's Take: It's not that Palin wasn't up to the job. It's just that those master showmen in the McCain camp are trying to build suspense for the Vice Presidential Debate next week.

The Debate: Pictures trump Words.

As the Fonz used to say, "I was wr-wr-wr-wr..." 

I was mildly disappointed by Sen. Obama's performance in the debate last night. Yes, Obama landed a few: mocking McCain for his "bomb Iran" ditty; unleashing a flurry of "You were wrong about..." jabs on Iraq; tying McCain to Bush.

But I was looking to him for more harder hits against Sen. McCain and fewer "John is absolutely right" interjections. I worried that McCain's theme line of "You just don't understand..." would resonate with the viewers. Whle I thought that Obama carried the early rounds, McCain came on stronger and stronger as the debate wore on.

In affect, it looked to me like the smart guy vs. the strong guy. And I feared the public would opt for the strong guy.

But then I saw this tweet fly by on Twitter's mesmerizing new election site
knowalott ... he didn't look obama in the eye. not once. he wouldn't look him in the eye, and as a southern boy, I can't accept that.
Hmm... I remembered what my college chum, Jeffrey Bell, once told me about the Nixon-Kennedy debates. Jeff had been attending school in Switzerland. In 1960 their only access to the debates was by radio. He said everyone at his school was sure that Nixon had won. They were astonished to read in the news that for TV viewers, Kennedy had won. Pictures trumped words.

Debate Clip circulated by Democrats

What did last night's pictures show?

At one podium: an old man, showing contempt and disrespect by not deigning to look at his rival. An old man whose troweled-on pasty-white makeup and botox combined to make him less lifelike than a Disneyland audioanimatronic robot. An old man whose fixed smile conveyed intense disdain. An old man who responded to his opponent with a dismissive chuckle. Chris Matthews boiled it down to "troll-like" and "grouchy."

At the other podium: a young man, poised, informed, centered, calm, courteous, and focused.

Early polling and focus groups say Obama won.
CBS/Knowledge Networks polled 500 uncommitted voters. 39% Obama, 24% McCain, 37% tie.
CNN/Opinion Research Corp polled 524 adult Americans who watched the debate: 51% Obama, 38% McCain.
Focus groups conducted by Frank Luntz (Republican) and Stan Greenberg (Democrat) also gave the nod to Obama.

Mickeleh's Take: Gore lost his first debate when the only things people could remember were his eye-rolling and the heavy sighs. This year, the lasting impression will be McCain's contempuous affect. Wanna bet that tonight's SNL sketch cements the McCain affect as in our memories.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Groucho on Palin

Watching Part II of the Palin Couric interview, one of Groucho's lines from "Duck Soup" popped into my head:
"Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you, he really is an idiot."
Mickeleh's Take: Quick John, do another one of your batshit crazy stunts and maybe people will stop talking about your idiot trophy running mate for a sec. I know, go to Washington and scuttle the bailout. And, um, tell everyone you're just too righteous to debate while you're at it.
In case you missed it, here's Pt II of Palin-Couric

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Olbermann: Never Lie to Letterman

Joe Scarborough, this morning, in one of those moments that have habituated me to watch his show barefoot, lest I destroy my TV by hurling a shoe through the screen, excoriated Letterman for daring to spice up his McCain rant by including a feed from the Katie Couric interview with John McCain. Neither Joe nor anyone on his panel (not even Mika) bothered to mention what had set Dave off and motivated him to show the feed: Sen. McCain and his campaign had not only canceled at the last minute, but had also blatantly lied to Letterman. He wasn't rushing off to the airport at all. But heading to another CBS studio for an interview with Couric.

In case you haven't seen it yet, I've included a clip from last night's Letterman show in a previous post.

Tonight, Keith Olbermann set the record straight. (He was not only a witness, but a participant, having jumped in as a last minute replacement for the mendacious senator.)

Letterman would probably have been a tougher interviewer than Katie. Except that McCain chose to duck Letterman, perhaps as a warm-up for ducking tomorrow's debate. If McCain does chicken out of facing Obama, I trust he'll be clobbered for it at least as hard as the clobbering Letterman gave him last night.

The moral Keith drew: Never lie to David Letterman.

Mickeleh's Take: Never wake up to Joe Scarborough.

McCain's Willful Suspension of Credibility

The great talent of the McCain campaign is throwing stunts to dominate the news cycle whenever Obama is gaining momentum. They write the songs that make the whole world sing. But stunt-based hits chart only briefly. And with each shot the public and press build resistance.

Where the Palin bubble lasted more than two weeks, yesterday's dramatic announcement that Sen. McCain would suspend his campaign drew raucus skepticism within minutes. Suddenly the McCain campaign wanted to suspend the first presidential debate... and possibly reschedule it by canceling the vice presidential debate. How convenient.

McCain's stunt succeeded in overshadowing news coverage of a devastating critique of his foreign policy by Sen. Biden. Watch this and you'll understand why McCain has every reason to duck an open debate on foreign policy and national security.

The day did not end well for John McCain. While the public may be used to McCain's lying, David Letterman was mighty pissed when McCain lied to him personally. Letterman has a big megaphone for expressing his annoyance.

For a more complete and coherent rundown of McCain's day, see Arutisha.

Mickeleh's Take: By his series of reckless stunts, McCain may gain ink and airtime, but he is also demonstrating how willing he is to ditch his credibility as a reliable leader in times of crises. By asking for an extension on the first debate he is turning tail rather than showing us a profile in courage.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Casting Idea for Gov. Palin.

How about if we just put Gov. Sarah Palin into a road company of "Annie Get Your Gun" and be done with her? Also starring Todd (First Dude) Palin as Frank Butler, Sen. John McCain as Buffalo Bill.

Mickeleh's Take: In a minor rewrite, we could give one of Frank Butler's songs to special guest star Levi Johnson: "The Girl that I Marry."

Banners for President Palin

Help yourself. Take one. Collect 'em all. Please use liberally.

More banners...

Monday, September 15, 2008

THIS is the Change We Need: Toughest Obama Commercial Yet.

Slated to run on national cable and in battleground states. Also slated for a lot of free showings on cable news shows, followed by talking heads. Can't wait for Keith and Rachel to weigh in on this one.

Mickeleh's Take: I thought the last two were on the right track. This one pulls into the station and unloads a can of whup ass. McCain earned this one. As for the rest of us: let's get out there and canvass. Do you know how your neighbors are voting?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

New Obama Ads: Back on Track

One of the most pernicious fallacies perpetuated by media coverage and polling is that a presidential campaign is a form of job interview. Do the candidates care about people like me? What have they done? What do they know? Are they strong, resolute, compassionate?

All that's important, but it leaves out something more important: We're not hiring an individual. We're installing a team, a party, a governing philosophy. The outcome of an election is most important to people who want jobs or contracts with the government. It's all those department heads that actually do the governing and regulating. It's the corporations they contract with and write laws to favor that actually do the screwing us over.

Yes, the president makes the call on the big issues—but usually picking from a range of staff-prepared options.

That's why I love the approach of these two recent Obama ads that talk about McCain's staffing choices.

His Administration

It's Over

Mickeleh's Take: Talking about lobbyists too hip for the room? I hope not. Because this is the real issue. McCain-Palin would like us to believe that we can throw the bums out by electing them. Who are they kidding. They are the bums. And this year they have nothing to peddle but lies, distortions, attacks, and smears. I've had enough.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Helping McCain Use a Computer

Yesterday, Obama released an ad that reminded us that McCain still doesn't use a computer and can't send email.

Magically, as though their strings are all pulled by the same puppet master, the usual suspects in the right wing blogosphere lit up in outrage. Their claim: McCain can't use a computer because of war injuries. (Did you know, by the way, that he was a POW? Never talks about it, so you might have missed the news.)

Here's some news that John McCain and the right wing attack dogs may have missed: Computers have had adaptive devices and software since before John McCain was first elected to the Senate. Computers are accessible to folks with disabilities far more limiting than McCain's.

Voice recognition and dictation software is now rated at 99% accuracy. (Which is better than my typing skills.)

Two solutions worth looking into are Dragon Naturally Speaking and IBM ViaVoice

John, I know you can't read this yourself, given your current skillset, but maybe someone will notice it and pass the word along. Welcome to the computer age. Seriously.

Mickeleh's Take: McCain supporters, if you have any positive energies at all, please channel some toward helping your audience learn about accessibility options for people with disabilities.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

John McCain Taking Campaign Cues from Pat Nixon and Nancy Reagan?

Enduring images in my memory: Pat Nixon standing silently, gazing adoringly at Dick when campaigned; Nancy Reagan doing the same for Ronnie.

Based on the news clips, it looks John McCain has been going to school on Pat and Nancy. He's learning to beam his admiration at Sarah Palin, who takes on the traditional Republican campaign task of lying through her teeth.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Joe Biden: "The Silence of the Republicans"

Here's what Joe Biden heard at the Republican convention. And what he didn't hear.

Mickeleh's Take: Please sir, I want more.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Palin: The Perfect Candidate for the Twitter Era

Mickeleh's Take: Sarah Palin is the perfect candidate for the Twitter era. Her resume can fit into 140 characters.

Friday, August 29, 2008

PUMA Bait, the Video

Playlist: Best Speeches of DNC08

McCain goes for the PUMA bait.

All week the Dems have been telling us that McCain doesn't have good judgement. His first presidential decision—picking a running mate—confirms it. Meet Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska (44) who reaches us across that bridge from nowhere.

Ooh, look a woman. Oh, so mavericky. Guess that'll stick it to Obama for not picking Hillary. Hey, PUMAs (all seventeen of you)! You were right. McCain is the one, isn't he? (PUMAs here's your essay question: compare and contrast Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton. I think McCain just insulted you. Big time.)

The Constitution defines only two responsilities for the Vice President: To preside over the Senate and to succeed the President in the case of death or resignation.

Get that? A Vice President needs to be prepared to be President. Go work on the concept of President Palin for a while. I'll wait.

Back? The big case that McCain is making against Obama is that he's not qualified for the job. Get out your balance scale, boys and girls. Put Obama's qualifications on one pan, Palin's on the other. Can McCain say with a straight face (or even with his crypt-keeper's forced grin) that Palin is ready but Obama is not? Well, maybe he can. But that goes right to the issue of his judgement.

If (G-d forbid) McCain becomes president... and if (G-d forbid) Palin has to succeed, her only hope would be to appoint Cheney as Vice President and follow the GWB model. (Just kidding. A Vice Presidential appointment must be approved by a majority of both houses of Congress.)

Mickeleh's Take: First decisions: McCain goes for the PUMA bait. Obama goes for someone with deep knowledge of domestic and international affairs. Are you scoring this at home?

I've just made a movie of this post. You'll find it here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Watch This Hillary Delegate Run Away from McCain

Here's the latest (in a series of three, so far) McCain ad hoping to pick off disappointed Hillary supporters. It's a testimonial from a woman named Debra Bartoshevich, itentified onscreen as a "former hillary delegate."

Mickeleh''s Take
: The funny bit comes at the end. As McCain's image dissolves on, Debra skedaddles away from him. Like most Hillary supporters with a lick of sense, she'll be smart enough not to vote for another four years of Bush policies. I'll bet the odds are good that she'll vote for Obama - Biden.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

McCain Camp Scratchin' Through the Teflon?

When John McCain said he needed some staff help to sort out how many houses he owns, he opened the door to Obama's strongest negative ad of so far.

This one has legs. That's clear from how hard the McCain camp and camp followers are struggling to quash it. They've even gone so far as to bring out the POW shield. McCain spokesperson Brian Rogers told the Washington Post: "This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison." The Rogers line reads like it originated in the writers' room of a late-night TV show. (Although he might want to punch it up from "one house" to "one room." Rim shot.)

McCain is quickly passing from being reluctant to talk about being a POW never shutting up about it. Just as Giuliani managed to turn 9-11 into a punchline, McCain can do the same for his POW ordeal.

Mickeleh's Take: What McCain endured was dreadful, but if his campaign persists in exploiting it as the prize in a Survivor-style immunity challenge, they're wrong. Even Teflon wears out if you don't treat it with respect.

Addendum: digby covers this same territory, as usual much more eloquently and with more punch, "A noun, a verb, and POW" Go digby.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Did War Candidate McCain Just Show the White Flag?

Did the McCain camp just blink?

After days of saber rattling, using the Russian action against Georgia for partisan purposes to paint Obama as "not ready," McCain finds himself isolated at at the belligerent fringe of neo-con opinion. Obama, Bush, the EU, and even Cheney, are unfied in calling for a more nuanced approach.

According to MSNBC's First Read, Obama's foreign policy advisor, Susan Rice, characterised the McCain position this way:
"We cannot shoot from the hip. We cannot act on the basis of ideology and preconceived notions. When this crisis began, Barack Obama, the administration indeed, and all of our NATO allies took a very measured and reasoned approach, because we were dealing with the facts as we knew them. John McCain shot from the hip -- very aggressive, very belligerent statement, and he may or may not have complicated the situation."

The McCain response? From spokesperson Tucker Bounds, "“During an international crisis when bipartisanship is needed most, it’s disappointing that the Obama campaign has chosen to launch inflammatory and baseless political attacks.”

Say, wha? Is the McCain camp suddenly retreating to "politics stops at the water's edge"? Oops.

MSNBC details a whole string of inflammatory and baseless political attacks on this issue by Sens. McCain, Graham, and Lieberman and Gov. Jindal. But now that it's clear how out of bounds "More Wars" McCain has been on this issue, the McCain camp calls for bipartisanship.

Mickeleh's Take: I think we saw Mr. Tough Guy blink.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Clinton's Speech and What Seinfeld Once Told Me

Earlier today, I listed three things that I hoped Sen. Clinton would deliver in her endorsement speech: 1. Acknowledgement of Obama's victory. 2. Endorsing Obama as the agent to achieve her goals. 3. Making McCain an unacceptable choice for her supporters.

She delivered on the second in full and merely hinted at the other two, but she did something even more important. She tuned her speech brilliantly to the expectations and emotions of her supporters and she moved them towards acceptance and support of Barack Obama.

I want to talk in depth about what she accomplished, but I'm going to start with a long diversion.

One night in the eighties, the Improv in L.A. arranged a showcase for some of the hot San Francisco comics of the day. The house was filled with producers, agents, scouts. A bunch of comics had flown down from the Bay Area to perform. After the last San Francisco comic finished, half the audience left the show room and headed for the bar.

But the show continued, and the next comic up was Jerry Seinfeld. This was in the time after his role in Benson had ended, and a few years before he got his own show on NBC. He was one of the strongest standups working at the time.

But this night, he went onstage to an audience that had just been disrupted by a major exodus. There was a long pause in the show. The remaining crowd was left talking amongst themselves. Then Jerry came up and did his set. He got some laughs, but not too many. It was tough going.

When he came off stage, he told me, "That was one of the best sets I've ever done in my life." I asked him how he could say that. What he told me was one of the most important lessons you can have in communication.

He said he always rates his own sets on the basis of where the audience is when he starts and where they are when he finishes. If you have any comedy chops at all, you can get up before a hot Saturday night date crowd and kill. The audience starts at a 10 and you keep 'em there. Maybe get them to 11. What Jerry was so pleased with this night at the Improve was that he took a non-audience, just a few clusters at tables talking amongst themselves, and brought them from minus -10 to a healthy 5.

Communication is always about moving an audience from point A to point B. You can't start your speech at point B.

I like to talk about what I call "The Parable of the Taxi." If you call a cab to take you to the airport, it doesn't do any good if the driver heads right to the airport. He has to come by and pick you up first.

Which brings us back to Clinton's speech. She did a masterful job of coming by to pick up her audience before heading to the airport.

She wasn't talking to the crowd at an Obama rally. She was talking to her own supporters, people who had invested their time, money, and aspirations in her quest. She needed to connect with them and move them.

That's why it was important for her to spend as much time as she did rehashing her campaign themes and connecting with her voters. Some critics pounced on this as an unwarrented "all about me" indulgence. But that's not the case. It was all about her audience.

As for the three things I had hoped for, she delivered best on endorsing Obama. She listed her goals and made a refrain of "...and that's why we need to help elect Barack Obama our president."

She did acknowledge his victory, but did not explicitly embrace it's legitimacy. She still flirted with claiming a popular vote majority.

As for making McCain an unacceptable choice, she did it only by implication. She didn't name him. She didn't even name President Bush. Instead, Clinton talked about how the past seven years were a set-back and diversion from the goals that she and her supporters are fighting for.

The conclusion of the speech was another master stroke. Where the opening connected with her supporters on the basis of their shared history, the conclusion connected with the emotional state of their dissappointment. If Clinton is to succeed in bringing her supporters to Obama, this is, perhaps the most critical area to address. "Always work hard, and when you stumble, keep faith. ... and never listen to anyone who says you can't, or shouldn't go on." I trust that means "go on to get Obama elected."

Mickeleh's Take: This speech wasn't for Obama supporters. It was for Hillary supporters. It didn't do everything I hoped for, it did a few things I wasn't clever enough to hope for. I look forward to joining with Hillary's devoted and passionate supporters in reaching our shared goals.

What HRC Must Do In Her Speech: Obliterate McCain

Sen. Clinton is about to make her concession speech. I'm looking for three things:

1. Concede that she lost fairly. This will be tough for her. She's been making the case that she's the real winner based on popular vote. It's false claim for two reasons. First, the contest was always about delegates, not popular vote. Second, her count takes unfair advantage of the fact that Obama supporters in Michigan had zero opportunity to vote for him. Zero. And it takes advantage of the fact that some caucus states simply didn't report any vote totals. Obviously the super-delegates were not persuaded, but many of Clinton's supporters were. To them, Obama is a trickster and a usurper. Clinton has to fix that.

2. Annoint Obama as a strong advocate for her own agenda. She needs to let her supporters know that Obama will work for the issues that she values. There is very little that Clinton and Obama disagree on. The only significant issue is whether participation in a health care system should be mandatory or voluntary.

3. Kick McCain in the nuts. Hard. Somehow her hardcore supporters have the notion that Obama is the anti-Hillary. That's just crazy talk. It's a hookah vision. She needs to tell the Harriet Christians of the world, in the friendliest way possible,what W.C. Fields told Grady Sutton in The Bank Dick, "Don't be a luddy duddy. Don't be a moon calf. Don't be a jabbernowl. You're not those, are you?" Do you want what Hillary wants? McCain ain't gonna get it for you.

Mickeleh's Take: It was Clinton who famously brought the threat of obliteration into the campaign. It's time for her to obliterate the idea that McCain is an acceptible plan B for her own supporters.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Rep. Insee's Menschy Letter Endorsing Obama

My Congressional representative (and former Clinton superdelegate), Jay Insee (WA-1), announced his decision to endorse Barack Obama for President. It's well done, menschy, with a powerful unity message to both Obama and Clinton backers.

Dear Michael,

First of all, let me offer my congratulations to those who helped Senator Obama secure his historic nomination.

As this Democratic primary process concludes, I want to let you know that I am going to work very hard to help unify our party behind our nominee, Barack Obama. This Saturday, Senator Clinton will announce her support for Senator Obama, and I will be officially endorsing his candidacy as well.

Some of you who receive this are strong Hillary Clinton backers, and have passionately supported her campaign. Others of you are strong Barack Obama supporters and passionately support his candidacy. To all, I ask that we now pull on the same rope.

For a guy who admires Senator Obama, I am deeply concerned when I read in the paper or receive e-mails from Hillary supporters vowing to not support our new candidate. I am already excited about an Obama presidency, but to those who are hesitant I implore you to join this cause because time is a luxury we cannot afford.

Over the next few weeks, or as long as it takes, I will be urging Hillary supporters in Washington State and across the country that we must put the past behind us. We must be unified in our support of Senator Obama, or else we risk another disastrous four years of a Republican White House. Whether Obama or Clinton supporters in the primary, we all are neighbors, we are friends, we are Democrats, and we are family. And, like any family that has occasional squabbles, but who has learned to put their problems behind them and move forward, we must do the same.

I know that many people didn't agree with the candidate that I endorsed. I respect their feelings, and all I can say is that sometimes I even disagree with my own wife after 35 years of marriage. Now we have a job to do together, so let's do it.

I know personally that Senator Obama is uniquely capable of bringing our family together. A couple of weeks ago when I ran into him on the House floor, I asked him when will he get a hoop up on the South Lawn of the White House. He replied "As soon as I'm president...hey, did you know that I've been playing basketball with the North Carolina Tar Heels?" I jokingly replied "Of course, that's why you won North Carolina by such a large margin." He laughed a big Obama laugh. This is a man who can put past differences aside and move on to unify the Democratic Party, as well as the country.

I was asked by a reporter today if I was disappointed in this result. I answered honestly and said no, I always knew that we had two brilliant candidates each in their own way, either of whom would represent a break through for America.

Senator Obama's genius is obvious, his inspirational qualities have touched millions, and I am confident in his ability to win this race - if we all pull on the same rope. Now I am chomping at the bit to hear Senator Obama's Inaugural Address, one that has the capacity to have the same effect as the one we heard in January 1961 by JFK. I will do everything within my power to ensure that America has the chance to hear that speech. I hope that you will do the same.

Very truly yours,

Jay Inslee

Monday, April 07, 2008

Reports of Penn's Departure, Exaggerated, Premature

Sam Stein on Huffington Post reports on a conference call that Mark Penn hed with the managing directors of Burson Marsteller (where he is CEO). They can't have been any happier about the events of the past week than were the Clintons (where he is no longer Chief Strategist, but still plenty plugged in.

Burson Marsteller has even more reason to be upset than the Clinton campaign: Penn's handling of the matter lost them the Colombia contract.

Stein confirms that Penn's resignation is (per Penn, anyway) a non-resignation.
"I think you've heard that I made the decision to step down as chief strategist of the Clinton campaign. Penn Schoen and Berland is going to continue to poll for it and I'll continue to play a role advising Senator Clinton and former President Clinton as well as the rest of the leadership of the campaign."
The Clinton campaign, apparently, is eager to absorb even more of his disastrous advice.

(Tags: Clinton, Hillary, Hillary Clinton, Mark Penn, Mark J Penn, Lobbyist, Burson-Marsteller, campaign)

Mickeleh's Take: Here are three things any chief executive (POTUS included) needs to master:
  1. Finding smart advisors,
  2. Empowering them to develop smart strategic options,
  3. Having the perspective and judgment to select the best of those options for implementation.
Seems to me that Hillary, working with Penn, is 0 for 3.

Mark Penn's Triangulated "Resignation"

Mark Penn, caught-out selling his knowledge and access to both sides of the free trade war, has resigned from the Clinton campaign. Or has he? He's dropped one title ("Chief Strategist"), but apparently he personally and one of his firms stay on the payroll and will continue to advise the campaign. Here's the official announcement from Maggie Williams, Clinton's campaign manager.
"After the events of the last few days, Mark Penn has asked to give up his role as Chief Strategist of the Clinton Campaign; Mark, and Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, Inc. will continue to provide polling and advice to the campaign."
Two questions: What were the unmentioned "events of the last few days," that led Mark Penn to ask to to give up his role? Is he gone or not? [Update: The answer is "not gone." Penn participated in this morning's conference call.]
  • Monday, Penn (wearing his hat as CEO of lobbying and PR giant Burson-Marsteller) met with officials from Colombia to advise them on strategies for getting Congressional approval of the Colombian Free Trade agreement. (Sen. Clinton has been wooing labor with her vigorous opposition to free trade—and has specifically denounced Colombia for anti-union violence.
  • Thursday, the press and blogosphere started playing back an unfairly edited Clinton remark from early March regarding leaks that an Obama staffer had back-channel conversations with Canada. The snipped version: "“Just ask yourself [what you would do] if some of my advisers had been having private meetings with foreign governments," What Clinton actually said: "Just ask yourself, if some of my advisers had been having private meetings with foreign governments basically saying 'ignore what I’m saying because its only political rhetoric,' I think it raises serious questions.” Well, close enough for politics.
  • Friday, Penn apologized for the meeting: "“The meeting was an error in judgment that will not be repeated and I am sorry for it. The senator’s well-known opposition to this trade deal is clear and was not discussed.”
  • Saturday, Colombia, taking umbrage a the apoloty fired Burson-Marsteller: "The Colombian government considers this a lack of respect to Colombians, and finds this response unacceptable.” (The $300,000 contract had been in place for more than a year, and as Joe Trippi noted, the only question is why hasn't this been an issue earlier?)
But there's one other event that surely preceded Mark Penn's asking to step down: A confrontation with Bill and/or Hillary. According to Ann Kornblut and Dan Balz this much has been leaked: "Clinton and her husband, Bill Clinton, were furious with Penn for going to the meeting, campaign officials said." Delicious details, surely to follow.

Steeped in triangulation (the art of finding middle-muddles between two controversial positions), Penn and the Clinton campaign offer us a non-resignation resignation. What exactly happened here? By giving up one title, but retaining a lucrative contract Mark Penn finds himself unable or unwilling to ask the Clash's musical question: "Should I Stay or Should I Go"

Mickeleh's Take: Given the long string of self-wounding strategic blunders that the Clinton campaign has made, and given the ludicrous and transparent goal-post moving spin that Penn has concocted almost daily in his press calls, it's amazing that he's held the Clinton's trust until "the events of the last few days." More amazing that he may still have it.

(Tags: Clinton, Hillary, Hillary Clinton, Mark Penn, Mark J Penn, Lobbyist, Burson-Marsteller, campaign)