August 25, 2008
Barack's Big Night
More than any politician in recent history, Barack Obama’s national career began with a speech--his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. On the eve of the convention that caps the journey begun that night, it’s remarkable how little is understood about how he obtained his historic break--and who really deserves credit for it. In his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama wrote, “The process by which I was selected as the keynote speaker remains something of a mystery to me.” Today, the process remains shrouded in competing versions of events.
Tramps Like Us
DENVER -- The 40-something politician pledged to wage a campaign rooted in his generation's "moment of obligation and opportunity." He sought the presidency at a time when "discontent over the failure of our political system is rampant throughout our citizenry" and said that "it is in this gathering of discontent that my candidacy intends to find its voice." He promised to "rekindle the fire of idealism in our society." But the 44-year-old Joe Biden who announced his candidacy for president with those words on June 9, 1987, would not reach the political mountaintop.
Best of the Press
Almost everything we know about Barack and John and Hillary and Mitt we know because some caffeinated scribbler with a notepad and a deadline told us about it. He or she checked into chain motels in cities like Des Moines, Hanover, and Corpus Christi to dispatch to the voting masses the narratives that would shape our understandings of the candidates--injecting images directly into our political consciousnesses, images that will resonate in infamy: He strapped the family dog to the roof of his car! He thinks the swing voting bloc clings to their guns and religion!
Take A Drink ...
Want to watch the Democratic National Convention, but afraid it’ll distract from your alcoholism? The DNC Drinking Game can help.
Taste the Rockies
By Monday, more than 50,000 Democrats, journalists, protesters, and hangers-on will have descended on Denver for the Democratic National Convention. It promises to be an epic event, peaking with Barack Obama’s acceptance speech in front of 76,000 people on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The people of Denver are excited. We hope all the Democrats have a great convention--we really do. If you give us some of those funny hats, we’ll even join in on the fun. We just get a little worried when we’re in the spotlight.
Smothering The Hatchet
The New Republic has asked me what advice I would give to Senator Obama to improve relations with the Clintons during this convention week. To be clear, I believe both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama have done much to heal the rifts endemic to a long primary. Hillary has done more than any runner-up in the history of the Democratic Party to support and campaign for the nominee since her concession. She has traveled the country making campaign appearances for Senator Obama, imploring her supporters to vote for him, and successfully urging her donors to support him financially.
Talking Like Bill Clinton
Barack Obama prefers to get economic advice from "academic economists" rather lawyers or former White House aides, according to David Leonhardt's fascinating New York Times article on Obamanomics. But Obama doesn't just talk to academics – he talks like them. For example, Obama told Leonhardt, "The market is the best mechanism ever invented for efficiently allocating resources to maximize production."Academic terminology is a good way to talk to the Times, but not to Democrats in Denver. Nor, contrary to editorials in today's Times and Washington Post, is it a question of "putting some fles
Today on TNR.com, former Hillary communications director Howard Wolfson gives advice to Senator Obama on how to improve relations with the Clintons during this convention week: ...By encouraging Senator Clinton's name to be placed in nomination, Senator Obama has shown real respect for her and her supporters. That roll call will be an important unifying event, and is a credit to Senator Obama's foresight and understanding.There is still work to do on the Bill Clinton front. He feels like the Obama campaign ran against and systematically dismissed his administration's accomplishments.
August 23, 2008
I have long been on record in support of Hillary Clinton for v.p., but it is clear that was never in the offing. Clinton aside, Joe Biden was the best possible pick for Senator Obama. Here's why:The fighting in Georgia underscored the need to bring some foreign policy experience to the ticket. No one does that better than Biden. Absent the situation in Georgia, Virginia Governor Kaine might have been the pick--in effect Vladimir Putin vetoed him.It's critical that the veep be willing and able to take an axe or at least an icepick to the presidential candidate of the other party.
That's the Ticket!
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?