There’s an article up over at The American Prospect arguing that yes, Barack Obama actually is playing hardball this campaign season–so nail-biting liberals should relax. The article’s author, Tim Fernholz, points out that Obama hasn’t acted like Kerry 2.0–that is, he hasn’t taken it in the tuchus from low-down, dirty smearers like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (or, in this case, the low-down, dirty McCain campaign).
This is actually true. The Obama campaign has done a pretty good job of juggling the two primary reactions that you need to play up when an opponent starts playing dirty–and make no mistake, the McCain campaign is playing dirty, suggesting that Obama wants to pervert children and “destroy” Palin as a person. The two responses are (1) righteous indignation and (2) aggressive retaliation.
The Obama camp actually does #1 really well: it turns unapologetic outrage into great political momentum, something Kerry couldn’t do in 2004. Sure, Kerry decried the dirty pool of the Swiftboaters and such, but his campaign never packed the punch you need to turn outrage into momentum, because it never really took the initiative to frame the campaign debate. From day one, Kerry ran as the guy who wasn’t Bush (this is true: one of Kerry’s top campaign advisors talked with me at a bag lunch during an internship back then, and explicitly said that the Kerry campaign strategy was “to be the alternative to Bush.”) In doing so, he limited his ability to turn outrage into something more, something tied into his campaign narrative.
But Obama and Biden, these guys are running on something more. They don’t just want to not be Bush, they are insisting that this country be understood, governed, and engaged with in a much different way than it has been over the past eight years. Thus when the GOP tries to slap them around, they don’t just refute the specific claims, like Kerry did, but they use these instances as representative examples, symptomatic of Republican corruption, selfishness, and failure.
Consider Biden’s recent condemnation of Republicans’ unwillingness to talk about issues and their obsession with character assasination.
This is powerful stuff–why? Because it’s not personal outrage, it’s political outrage–it’s anger that’s entirely consistent with the message of the Obama-Biden campaign. Continue reading
So the first part of Palin’s interview with Charlie Gibson just aired, giving fresh meat to the pundit class. Here’s how I think her performance fared in a few key areas.
Okay, this may seem pretty inside baseball, but bear with me here: Palin’s body language made it clear that she’s not ready for prime time. She began the interview surprisingly calm, but as Gibson–who seemed amusingly underwhelmed the entire time–asked tougher questions, Palin began to get tense. Nothing overt or over the top, but she began to slouch a little bit; she leaned forward too much, her hand gestures became almost comically expressive, like she was trying too hard. Check out this screen grab I pulled from abc.com and see if you can get a sense of how Palin slowly scrunched down into defense-mode:
A while back, lots of people were making a big stink over the fact that Barack Obama’s middle name is Hussein, and turned it into something of a “fear bomb” used to tie Obama to anti-Americanism, terrorism, and an identity as the scary “other”–basically, a person to whom we shouldn’t entrust our national security.
Eventually, Republicans realized that this was a low blow, even for them, and disavowed the use of “Hussein” as a passive-aggressive slur against Obama. But after months, of in-depth research, sources tell me that the MiddleNameGate isn’t over yet–but this time, the offender is none other than John Sydney McCain.
Yes, that’s right–John McCain’s middle name is Sydney, just like Australia’s largest city. How can we trust McCain with our national security, when he so clearly empathizes with Australia over the U.S.? Just a few weeks ago, sailors form a missile destroyer named the USS John S. McCain (yes, named after McCain), attended a “Hands Across the Sea Concert” in–you guessed it–Sydney, Australia.
Americans should be worried. Australia, after all, started off as a penal colony–McCain’s ties to this island nation clearly indicate a softness on crime and terrorism. Perhaps most damning of all is the photographic evidence that McCain is a no-good Aussie-lover. Remember the picture of Obama in traditional Muslim garb that was circulated around the Internet in hopes of stoking worries that he might in fact be a terrorist? That’s nothing compared to the picture below, dug up from McCain’s own computer, in a folder dubbed “G’day Mate!.”
Truly, this is a man who does not have America’s best interests at heart. Country first, indeed, Senator “Sydney”–so long as that country’s Australia!
Looks like conservatives were right–you really can tell a lot about someone from their middle name.
Note: As you might be able to tell, weekend posts–insofar as there are any–are going to generally be lighter than weekday stuff which is all, y’know, brainy and shit.
With the help of some super-inside GOP operatives, I managed to snag the first draft of Sarah Palin’s speech from the RNC last week. It’s thematically identical to the speech she actually gave, also some of the language is a bit less nuanced. This unedited draft provides good insight into what Palin’s true platform is, before politicos get their hands on it to try and slicken up the message. Full text follows.
Thank you, thank you. I’m so honored to be here, and to run alongside someone like John McCain. For a small-town, gun-loving, baby-keeping hockey mom like me, this is just a dream come true.
I want to begin by asking you–all of you, from the folks in this hall to the American people watching at home–one important question: did you know John McCain was a POW?
It’s true! He was captured and tortured by the Vietnamese. It was a really, really harrowing experience, and it taught him everything he needs to know about helping a country of 300 million people avoid economic recession and lower health care costs.
But enough about John McCain, let’s talk about me: I’m from Alaska! How friggin’ cool is that? I’m just like you, only more backwards! I shoot moose for fun. It’s so awesome. I love guns. Like, seriously, I just love them.
And hey, you know who I’d really like to shoot? Barack Obama. What a fucking loser! What a turd! What a nobody! Harvard Law, community organizer, state senator, full Senator, and winner of a rough-and-tumble Democratic primary? Please! What’s he ever done? He’s a poopface. Do you want a poopface for president? No! All he does is talk–blah, blah, blah. But we all know that speeches don’t make good leaders!
Hey, isn’t this speech so great? I am totally qualified to be second-in-line for the presidency because this speech is so good. (Barack Obama is a poopface!)
Let’s talk about something serious for a second: e-bay. Did you know that I put the state jet up for auction on e-bay? Isn’t that bad-ass?! Think about all the other things I can hawk to the highest bidder if I’m vice-president, like America’s credibility.
Let’s be clear about something: John McCain is ready to lead because he was tortured in Vietnam, and I am ready to lead because I tried to sell something on e-bay and my son plays hockey. Barack Obama is not ready to lead, because he is a poopface. The choice is clear.
I mean, come on! He wrote two books! Two! Do we really want someone who’s thoughtful and reflective in the White House? There’s an old saying in Wasilla: thinking is for Communists, terrorists, and fags. This has been scientifically verified by my pastor. Let me tell you, when I’m out in the woods looking for moose or cheering alongside the hockey rink and calling for the blood of teenagers to be spilled in a bare-knuckle brawl, I’m not doing a whole lot of thinking.
Look, I know that America is a crossroads. We’re entering a recession and our health care costs are skyrocketing, as are the ranks of the uninsured; our international credibility is at an all-time low, and we’re fighting multiple wars; faith in Congress and our leaders has hit rock-bottom; and so on. That’s exactly why you need to vote for me: I am totally, 100% pro-life.
With so many problems in the U.S. right now, there is nothing more important than demanding that women who become pregnant give birth to children who will likely grow up in circumstances not conducive to their welfare and healthy development. We cannot lose sight of our priorities! Like electing a hockey mom who tried to sell something on e-bay, and who is not a poopface like that fucker Barack Obama. Asshole thinks he can just come from nowhere and make a big splash on the national stage? That’s ridiculous! His kids don’t even play hockey!
Think fast: what’s the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom? Dogs can’t use computers, and thus can’t put items up for auction on e-bay. Barack Obama is a poopface.
In closing, you don’t want Barack Obama to be president. He is a poopface. I am not. I am one tough-ass bitch, and if you fuck with me I’ll body check you, shoot you, or put you on e-bay. Think about it: I am so hot and yet such a bad-ass. Don’t I just give you a huge boner? This November, vote with your boner.
McCain and Palin are walking around and waving as the theme from “Rudy” plays in the background. I would have preferred the theme to “Jurassic Park.” Because McCain is really old, get it? GET IT?
UPDATE: Christ Almighty, now they’re playing “Barracuda.” That’s almost as clumsily literal-minded as my Jurassic Park joke.
UPDATE 2: I just realized that “Rudy” could be construed as a reference to Rudy Giuliani. It’s not. I’m talking about this.
McCain is now talking about how he wants to work with Democrats to do the peoples’ work, partisanship-be-damned. He says he’ll take anyone’s hand to get things done, that he’ll have Democrats in his administration, and that everyone needs to work together for the sake of change.
Surely it’s a sign that Republicans are panicking if they’re lifting, wholesale, Barack Obama’s central campaign message, no?
John McCain really isn’t cut out for big, spectacle orations. He’s to sneery, and his voice is too much of a hiss–I feel like his cadence and tone always comes off like he’s scolding someone. It’s strangely patronizing…I can’t quite put my finger on it. But you can understand why he prefers town halls to large-scale speeches: he’s much more suited for in-your-face commentary than the broad, epic rhetoric of arena-style politics. His voice just doesn’t carry, and his rhythm doesn’t flow like Obama’s.
Whaddya think, am I being too harsh?
Okay, first off: George W. Bush is getting applause for his leadership after 9/11. Yes, seriously.
Second: McCain’s smile terrifies me. It always looks like he’s trying to hide something, or trying to not fall into a murderous fit of rage. Exhibit A:
Only thing creepier? His use of “My Friends.”
The RNC has been a very juvenile exercise: lots of chest-beating, derision and slander directed toward Democrats, and a whole lot of desperate attempts at self-affirmation. So how does Barack Obama respond? Why, by splashing a well-worded dose of reality on the proceedings:
Barack Obama said Thursday that attacks on him at this week’s Republican National Convention were no big deal: “I’ve been called worse on the basketball court,” he told reporters at an afternoon press conference.
“What did you guys expect?” he asked, smiling, “This is what they do. They don’t have an agenda to run on. They haven’t offered a single concrete idea so far in two nights about how they would make the lives of middle class Americans better. They’ve spent the entire two nights attacking me or extolling John McCain’s biography, which is fine. They can use their convention time any way they want.”
I like this: he’s calling a spade a spade, and noting that the Republican Convention really is politics as usual for the GOP. The Republicans are itching to bring him down to their level, where they can sling mud in his face. I’m glad he’s not biting–at this point, the Republican playbook has become downright predictable.
Here Obama comes across as the more mature, serious candidate–at a time when America’s problems demand a mature, serious response. So keep throwing your tantrums, Republicans–they only make you look more ineffective and delusional.