September 03, 2008
David Kusnet was chief speechwriter for former President Bill Clinton from 1992 through 1994. He is the author of Love the Work, Hate the Job: Why America's Best Workers Are Unhappier than Ever. John McCain canceled most events on the first night of the Republican National Convention and promised no partisan political rhetoric.
September 02, 2008
The Fantastic Five
With Mitt Romney slated to speak at the Republican convention tonight, the question on (at least some) people’s minds is what a certain Romney quintet has been doing since Mitt’s White House hopes dimmed. During the race for the Republican presidential nomination, you’ll remember, Romney’s five sons--by descending age: Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben, and Craig--livened up the campaign trail with their gee-whiz antics, fraternal banter, and out-of-this-world bone structure. Their rise to fame began in early 2007, when they launched a blog, Five Brothers, on their dad’s campaign website.
The Bush Quarantine
What a weird speech? Keeping Bush locked up in the White House turned out to be a mistake. The crowd wanted to erupt and warmly embrace him. Instead, the whole moment felt rushed and disembodied. And it was clearly hard for him to deliver a full-throated political speech from the White House. All in all, it had the feel of a busted play. It’s stunning to see the decline in Bush’s rhetoric. Since Mike Gerson left his side, Bush’s speeches have really stopped singing. I can hardly remember a line from his oeuvre these past years.
Why Experience Matters, Cont'd
Republicans are still making the argument that Sarah Palin has the necessary experience to serve as vice president she has spent less than two years as governor of Alaska--er, sorry, I mean Commander-in-Chief of the Alaska National Guard. After careful consideration, I've decided not to rebut this argument, lest I lend it even a shred of credibilty. Instead, I'd like to dwell on why experience matters in a vice presidential candidate, perhaps even more than it matters in a presidential candidate.
Bush In Exile
It was odd to see George W. Bush speaking to the convention remotely from the White House. He looked like a man in exile--or maybe a quarantined leper. Incidentally, a friend emails wondering how Bush is allowed to give such a blatantly political speech from the White House grounds. Isn't that a Hatch Act issue? Zinging the "angry left" seemed a particularly classless move from behind the presidential podium. P.S. NR's Lowry calls it "kind of sad and maybe even a little disrespectful that Bush was reduced to such a small role." --Michael Crowley
Yesterday I argued that Obama dodged a bullet with Gustav, since a more serious crisis would have primed McCain to play president this week, basking in the glow of an effective response he had nothing to do with. It seems as though the McCain campaign has come to a similar conclusion--and decided to shoe-horn Gustav into the McCain narrative anyway. At a high-profile New Hampshire-South Carolina breakfast this morning, campaign manager Rick Davis dwelled at length on what McCain's response to the storm said about his moral code.
Over at the Plank, Cass Sunstein has already noted that Sarah Palin doesn't seem to understand that the current rise in global temperature is being caused by human activity. (After joining the GOP ticket, her spokesperson said that Palin "stands with John McCain in his belief that global warming is a critical issue that must be addressed"—but stayed mum on the whole what's-causing-it-question).
A very good friend, who is a lifelong Alaskan and one of the smartest people I know, offers this word of caution to those (yes, like me) inclined to take Sarah Palin lightly: At the end of 2005, a close friend called to say that he begun writing speeches and talking points for a certain gubernatorial candidate. "Remind me," I asked. "Who is Sarah Palin?" I was dismayed at my friend’s choice of political entree. Why was he wasting his time on a relative nobody, trying to beat an incumbent governor (and former three term senator) in the Republican primary? It was utter folly.
The Essential Problem With Palin
Think of an American president being inaugurated. What image comes to mind?Almost certianly this one, eh?This picture embodies what is perhaps the essential difference between the qualifications for the presidency and the qualifications for the vice presidency. In a perfect world, we would all like a president who is Ready on Day One (TM); it is not uncommon for a newly-elected president to face a major crisis almost immediately upon taking office.
September 01, 2008
Notes On An Invasion
The future of Russia's excursion in Georgia remains to be determined. But some conclusions can already be drawn: 1. Russian power is extraordinarily brutal in the post-Soviet era, as we have already seen in Chechnya. This brutality has been confirmed -- although on a smaller scale -- in the spectacle of the Russian army occupying a sovereign country, moving through it as it pleases, advancing and retreating at will, and casually destroying the military and civilian infrastructures of a young democracy as an astonished world watches. Today it is Georgia. Tomorrow will it be Ukraine?