Michael Schaffer

Editorial Director

Reading John Judis' take on the drift of professionals into the Democratic camp, I’m reminded of Paul Begala’s dismissive description of Barack Obama’s base: "Eggheads and African-Americans." Obama, the logic went, would flounder outside the combined population of one minority ethnic group and the nation's roster of assistant professors of anthropology.

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I'd shortchanged the dog tonight while I was geeking out with election returns. So I set off on a trot with him once Obama's speech was done. A few blocks away from my house in Philadelphia, I found a block of Baltimore Avenue shut down by about 200 people beating drums, pots, and pans and dancing in the street. It occurred to me I'd never actually, literally seen people dancing in the street.

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He's currently doing an interview with will.i.am...by hologram. --Michael Schaffer 

Delighted?

I have to pronouce myself less than delighted with the Obama campaign's new "Delighted" ad. The endorsement of the most loathed vice president in the history of democracy, of course, represents a boon to the Democrats. But, like a hitter watching a fat, slow pitch come over the plate, they've used the opportunity to take an undisciplined whack at John McCain, tittering about Cheney's endorsement and McCain's 90 percent record of voting with the administration but failing to use the chance to remined voters why the endorsement is so objectionable.

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The Party Of Spaz

When I was in fifth grade, there was this kid named Matt who was the Kid With the Temper. Three or four times a year, he'd spaz out to comic, theatrical effect--throwing things, kicking desks, roaming the hallways, and, once, locking himself in a closet and emerging with a black eye. With the sort of cruelty unique to 10-year-olds, classmates used to goad the poor kid when it looked like an outburst was near, circling around him in the knowledge that we'd soon glimpse what we all knew was inside.

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Obama Phanatics

Philadelphia's World Series victory on Wednesday night is good news for at least one sector of this swing state's economy: Sales of t-shirts, hats, trinkets, and commemorative baseball kitsch. And today, when some one million people are expected to watch the Phillies parade down Broad Street, is that industry's version of the Friday after Thanksgiving. With not championship of any sort since 1983, and no tradition of moderation or subtlety in any aspect of sports fanhood, the throng should buy up anything in sight.

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So you're driving down the road, and you glance in the rearview mirror, and...aack! In what may be his final negative spot of the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama may have released their year's single creepiest spot. Not that it's offensive or unethical: The ad sticks to Democratic boilerplate tying McCain to a slew of unpopular elements of the Bush era. But the repeated shots of the 43rd president superimposed into car mirrors manage to weird me out.

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Eskimomentum!

Maybe I'm just being some sort of elitist liberal PC grievance-monger here, but was I the only one who thought there was something distinctly weird about Sarah Palin's role in SNL's rap sketch on Saturday? In the skit, Palin sits by and bobs her head while Amy Poehler delivers a gangsta-rap style rendition that Palin has ostensibly been supposed to perform--full of references to  Joe the Plumber, moose-hunting, "drill, baby, drill" and Bill Ayres. No problems there, albeit not necessarily the sort of thing that suggests Palin sees herself as about to win high office.

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Time Warp

Time was when Scranton was known for anthracite coal, America’s first electric streetcar system, and what is said to be the nation’s most heavily Irish population. The last decade, though, has done strange things to the popular image of this old northeastern Pennsylvania city.

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Fifty-Second Street, in West Philadelphia, could easily be a Hollywood backlot stand-in for any depressed inner-city strip in the country. There are signs on streetlamps that advertise shared van service rides to visiting hours at distant state prisons. The awning of the deli announces that the store accepts food stamps and also sells wigs. There’s a tax-refund joint, of course, and it’s even collocated with a McDonald’s. This afternoon, though, the streetscape features some less familiar pieces of vernacular decoration: Billowing American flags.

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