We'll all have more to say about Clinton's speech in the next few hours, but one quick note. It's about the closing line, which I took down as "That is our mission Democrats. Let us elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden." That was not in the prepared text. And while I don't know whether she ad-libbed it, I wouldn't be surprised if she did. Whether or not the endorsement of Obama was heartfelt, it certainly seemed heartfelt. The marching orders to her supporters could not be more clear.
Something remarkable just happened on MSNBC. Chris Matthews spent at least two minutes, maybe three, musing over the substantive argument in a convention speech. It happened right after former Virginia Governor Mark Warner finished his keynote address. Matthews seized on Warner's line about the importance of asking Americans to make sacrifices--and Bush's failure to make that request after 9/11.
The Census Bureau just released the latest figures on income, poverty, and health insurance enrollment. And my very hasty take--based on a quick reading of the data and highlights, plus e-mail exchanges with some experts--is that overall the news is, for a change, good: The percentage of people without coverage actually declined in the last year, according to the figures, from 15.8 percent of the population to 15.3 of the population. But before anybody gets the idea that we no longer need health care reform, take a closer look at the numbers.
All through the summer, members of Ted Kennedy’s committee staff in Washington have been feverishly preparing for an all-out effort to enact universal health care next year. They’ve been meeting with counterparts on other committees and bringing in the key stakeholders--unions, insurers, employers, doctors--to get a sense where everybody stands. They’ve also been looking closely at how Massachusetts lawmakers passed health care reform for their state, on the theory that a similar strategy might work in the U.S. Congress. And, of course, they’ve been keeping their boss in the loop.
MSNBC's panel seems convinced, as I guess some of my colleagues are, that tonight was a missed opportunity: Democrats could have attacked McCain and didn't. I understand that reaction. I've been agitating for the Obama campaign to get tougher, too. But tonight's strategy seems sensible enough. The campaign had to introduce America to Michelle Obama and make swing voters--that is, older working- and middle-class white voters--were comfortable with her and the Obamas generally.
Michelle Obama's brother, Craig Robinson, is on stage to introduce her. Seeing him reminds me of his background in basketball--as a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year and, later, a successful collegiate coach. As you might expect, he is a tall man--which, of course, reminds me that Michelle is tall, too. All of which prompts the following, deeply analytical question: I know height is good in a presidential candidate, but is it good in a potential First Lady? Feel free to ponder that fluff while I write something meaningful on Ted Kennedy and health care. P.S.
If you’ve been reading the liberal blogosphere over the last two days, you’ve probably detected some ambivalence about Barack Obama’s decision to make Joe Biden his running mate. Although everybody realizes that Biden is a loyal, decent Democrat who brings energy and experience to the ticket, there’s also a palpable sense of disappointment. Biden supported the Iraq War and, more recently, the anti-consumer bankruptcy bill. He’s been in Washington forever. And so on.
John McCain's new television ad suggests that Barack Obama didn't pick Hillary Clinton as his running mate because he couldn't handle her criticisms--i.e., "the turth hurt and he couldn't handle it." It's a dubious assertion, but the merits of the argument are, for all practical purposes, besides the point. This ad is designed to stoke the resentment of wavering Clinton voters and to make sure the Clinton controversy remains part of the convention storyline. I'll leave it to others to determine whether this gambit will work.
Today's New York Times has some of the backstory on the vice presidential selection process and why Barack Obama ultimately settled on Joe Biden. The overarching narrative is more or less what it appeared to be. According to the article, which is by Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg, Obama was initially wary of Biden. But research by his vetting team and conversations with some of Biden's longtime Senate colleagues, including Congressman Rahm Emanuel, Senator Ted Kennedy, and Governor Ed Rendell, convinced Obama that Biden was a "worker"--and somebody whom Obama could trust.
It’s a great pick! He connects with blue-collar voters and reassures voters worried about Barack Obama’s foreign policy inexperience. It’s a lousy pick! He’s prone to gaffes and, as a senior member of the Senate, steps on the message of change.In the next few days, pundits will be obsessing over the political impact of putting Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket. But the more important questions are the more tangible ones. Is Biden qualified to serve as an advisor to the president and, in an emergency, his stand-in?