Posts Tagged ‘election 2008’

One of the more odd exchanges from Friday night may turn out to harm Sen. Obama far more than he might have thought possible at the time.  Call it the bracelet debate:

I couldn’t find a clip that contained the full Obama statement, so for fairness’ sake, here’s the text:

OBAMA: I’ve got a bracelet, too, from Sergeant – from the mother of Sergeant Ryan David Jopek, given to me in Green Bay. She asked me, ‘Can you please make sure another mother is not going through what I’m going through?’ No U.S. soldier ever dies in vain because they’re carrying out the missions of their commander in chief. And we honor all the service that they’ve provided. Our troops have performed brilliantly. The question is for the next president: ‘Are we making good judgments about how to keep America safe? Precisely because sending our military into battle is such an enormous step.

A fair debate, and one that certainly raises questions about who has the best interests of the troops at heart.  But two issues have emerged regarding Obama’s use of Sgt. Jopek’s bracelet, which might make Sen. Obama look a little less, well, sympathetic.

First, Jake Tapper of ABC points out that Sgt. Jopek’s family is, at best, split on the subject of using their son’s bracelet for political purposes.  In fact, his mother has apparently asked Sen. Obama to stop using the bracelet that she gave him for political purposes.  Now, it is certainly fair to say that Obama may not have gotten the message, but if he did, it’s very poor form to use a military family for political purposes after it has asked the campaign not to do so.

Separately, Jim Geraghty raises the question of whether Sen. Obama had to look down and read the name of the fallen soldier he was about to use for political purposes.  Looking again at the video (in the one inserted above, at about the 1:20 mark), it’s a fair point.  Obama’s “from Sergeant, uh, uhm, [looking down at his wrist] from the mother of Sgt. Ryan David Jopek” doesn’t do much to dissuade the skeptical viewer from this opinion.

If you put on that bracelet every day, as part of your morning routine after you shower and shave, don’t you have to know that name by heart?  He’s been doing that (presumably) since February.

Put it a different way.  During the course of the debate, Sen. Obama knew that Fortune 500 CEOs save $700k a head under McCain’s tax plan.  He knew the amount of money we give in private insurance subsidies under Medicare ($15 billion).  He pronounced Georgia president Saakashvili’s name correctly, and named Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Czechoslovakia as nations concerned about Russian aggression.  He never once glanced at his notes while giving these answers.

But he didn’t know the name of the fallen American soldier who was memorialized on his wrist.  Not without looking first, anyway.

Of course, there could have been something else written on that bracelet, which might have thrown him off:

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We’re half an hour into the debate, and John McCain is incapable of explaining any aspect of economic policy beyond government spending.

Obama talks health care, and McCain talks about how much waste is created by government spending programs.

Lehrer asks about his position on economic recovery, so McCain talks about public corruption.

Obama criticizes McCain’s tax policy, and rather than defend it, McCain talks about Obama’s earmarks.

In the process, he’s allowed Obama to lash him to the sinking ship of GOP economic policies, accuse him of cutting taxes for the rich while keeping low-income Americans from getting health care, and make him look like a one-trick pony.

Problem is, he may just be a one-trick pony on the economy.  The man has never dealt with a budget beyond the federal one, and he has no background in managing private economic issues.  And this is after spending a week trying to facilitate an economic recovery package.  Will he ever be more prepared to discuss this topic than he is today?  And this isn’t even the economic debate!

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“Equity” is the buzzword around Washington as it considers the financial bailout proposed by the Administration. Democratic Congressmen and Senators are demanding, among other things, that Washington get an equity stake in the companies that benefit from the bailout. It seems like an eminently fair concept: if the U.S. taxpayers are going to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to save financial services firms, shouldn’t they be positioned to make money from those firms’ financial recovery?

But this impulse to allow the government to take ownership interests in businesses who get help from the government is a dangerous one. If followed consistently, it could result in nothing less than a socialist takeover of the factors of production, the flight of thousands of businesses from our shores, or both. An overreaction, you say? Consider the following:

  • The federal government give grants to small businesses (and some large ones) on a regular basis to the tune of billions of dollars a year.  These grants, for everything from conducting basic research to developing minority-owned firms, are intended to promote national interests and policies that (the argument goes) wouldn’t otherwise get funded appropriately.  If the government should take equity interests in businesses who are SELLING assets to the United States, assets which may very well turn the government a profit, why wouldn’t the government be entitled to equity from organizations who get taxpayer money for free?
  • The government already has the functional equivalent of an “equity” stake in every American business.  Think about what equity — to most of us, a share of stock — gets the average investor.  It gets us control (proxy votes), return (dividends) and value (the market price of the share).  Well, the federal government already exercises more control over American business than any individual shareholder.  It sets workplace conditions, requires environmental, health and safety controls, and demands transparent corporate governance, among hundreds of other legal requirements.  And it has the enormous power of the courts, the police, and if needed, the military to enforce its judgments.  Compare that with the stockholder’s one-time remote control vote on the board, and it’s hard to imagine why the government needs equity to push the company around.  As for return, the government has total control over the amount of money it gets from each profitable corporation — through tax policy.  If the government wants a 100 percent “dividend” from American corporations, that is fully within its power.  If you’ve ever gotten a dividend check, you know that’s not the way it works for shareholders.  The question of value is the only one where the shareholder may have the upper hand on the government.  A shareholder can convert its investment into value at a moment’s notice through the markets, assuming there is a buyer.  The government is not similarly situated, but do we want it to be?  Imagine the impact on Morgan Stanley’s shares if the government decided to sell its 10% stake to fund a Social Security shortfall.  Sure, the taxpayers get “value” for its investment, but Morgan Stanley has received a potentially fatal blow.  No American business could withstand the shock it would incur if the government decided it was a better deal to sell its shares rather than hold them.  Such a move would effectively be a “no confidence” vote in the marketplace.  The government is just trying to help taxpayers, but financial services firms are folding — sound familiar?
  • If you went to college, you probably got a grant or student loan from the federal government.  If it was a loan, you are paying off that note through regular interest payments to the government.  You are also likely paying higher taxes, because you’re making more money that you would have without a college degree.  Do you feel like you’re taking the federal government for a ride?  Do you owe more control, return and value back to Uncle Sam?  No – you’re just a beneficiary of a government program.  But that’s what Democrats are arguing when it comes to businesses – that they have “invested” in these businesses, and the businesses owe the government more power or money in return, beyond mere interest payments.  College grads would revolt in the streets if they were told where to work by the government merely because they took government loans.  Why not the same outrage with America’s businesses? (more…)

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CNN’s Jack Cafferty is the latest media personality to state without equivocation that ONLY racism can explain the closeness of the presidential election:

The differences between Barack Obama and John McCain couldn’t be more well-defined. Obama wants to change Washington. McCain is a part of Washington and a part of the Bush legacy. Yet the polls remain close. Doesn’t make sense…unless it’s race.

Of course, Mr. Cafferty ignores the fact that, four years ago, we had a contest between two candidates whose differences were arguably more “well-defined.”  Bush was actually on the ballot, and Kerry was running against him as an incumbent.  The Iraq war was far less obviously a success then than it is now .  And both men were, of course, white – meaning that “race” wasn’t a factor.

What was the state of the race on September 17, 2004?

In a new Gallup Poll, conducted Sept. 13-15, President George W. Bush leads Democratic candidate John Kerry by 55% to 42% among likely voters, and by 52% to 44% among registered voters. These figures represent a significant improvement for Bush since just before the beginning of the Republican National Convention.

Compare that to today’s Gallup tracking poll, which has Obama leading McCain 47% to 45% among registered voters.

That’s right — year over year, Bush outpolls McCain.   So, despite the fact that McCain has supposedly painted Obama as the “angry black man,” and “[t]he angry black man . . . doesn’t have broad appeal in White America,” the Angry Black Man is outperforming the Windsurfing White Man by three points at this stage in the race.  And he’s so undermined by prejudice that he’s been able to convince seven percent of 2004’s Republican-leaning voters not to support this year’s GOP candidate. In fact, Americans are such racists that 62% of them approved of Barack Obama in March 2008.  Of course, Democrats like Kathleen Sibelius tell us that “[a]ll the code language, all that doesn’t show up in the polls” — because…why?  Are there verbal racist time bombs that don’t change people’s attitudes today, but magically turn them into virulent bigots on election day?  And what are these code words, and who is saying them?

I guess that means 38% of us are racists, since there is no other justifiable reason to oppose a man who wants to raise taxes, spend unprecedented sums on new government programs, declare failure in Iraq, negotiate with Iran, invade Pakistan, leave Georgia’s security to the U.N., nationalize health care, eliminate democratic union elections, indict Bush Administration officials, close free trade, open our borders, censor talk radio, give terrorists access to US courts, and who changes his positions on issues so regularly as to call into question everything I just typed.

Utterly inexplicable without racism, I tell you.

Update: Crush Liberalism gives his thoughts on this topic here, and Jim Geraghty highlights other gems.

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One of the leading lessons political observers drew from Hillary Clinton’s loss to Barack Obama was her slow reaction to Obama’s emergence following Iowa. Rather than dynamically refocusing on caucuses rather than big-state primaries or attacking Obama’s credentials, Hillary’s team said “steady as she goes.” The result was a string of 11 straight primary and caucus losses to Obama that changed the closely-fought contest into a coronation. Clinton almost crashed the crowning moment by winning a string of primaries at the end, but it took her two months to change course once Obama captured the momentum.

How long did it take McCain to recapture the momentum from Obama after his big speech in Denver?

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I am a big believer in stability when it comes to politics.  As much as we like to say freedom got us to where we are today as a country (and it certainly was a big part), stability and the rule of law probably got us further. Starting with John Adams’ departure from office following his fierce rival Thomas Jefferson’s victory in the election of 1804, American leaders have not used the occasion of a change in regime as a means of punishing the ousted party. 

Well, in the spirit of the Obama campaign, Joe Biden thinks it’s time for a change. Speaking about whether his Administration would pursue criminal charges against Bush Administration officials for the Left’s favorite hobby-horses…

“If there has been a basis upon which you can pursue someone for a criminal violation, they will be pursued,” Biden said during a campaign event in Deerfield Beach, Florida, according to ABC.

“[N]ot out of vengeance, not out of retribution,” he added, “out of the need to preserve the notion that no one, no attorney general, no president — no one is above the law.”

Obama sounded a similar note in April, vowing that if elected, he would ask his attorney general to initiate a prompt review of Bush-era actions to distinguish between possible “genuine crimes” and “really bad policies”.

“[I]f crimes have been committed, they should be investigated,” Obama told the Philadelphia Daily News.

Sure Joe, not out of retribution. To be fair, Obama went on to say that “[y]ou’re also right that I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt, because I think we’ve got too many problems we’ve got to solve.” So, as usual, Barack is of many minds on the matter. What’s most likely is that he’ll find one or two former Bush officials who he can hang out to dry for the liberal blogosphere. And another brick in the crumbling edifice that is American political morality will be removed.

Karl Rove, you may want to consider a nice chalet in Zurich next January.

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In my humble opinion, Governor Palin gave one of the more remarkable political addresses of my life. Some thoughts on the evening:

  • Republicans were reminded tonight what it sounds like when a principled leader fights on their behalf.  After years of half-hearted defenses and ill-conceived agendas, Sarah Palin presented one of the most full-throated statements of American conservatism since Ronald Reagan.  She didn’t hesitate to take on the Democrats who had beaten down President Bush and other Republican “leaders” for the past eight years.  She didn’t couch her party’s low-tax, small-government message — she embraced it, explained it, and dared the Democrats to oppose it.  The Governor expressed pride in her country, not despair; she effused warmth toward her family and its principles, not embarrassment; she stood strong beside her running mate, didn’t strike poses and elide nuance.  THIS is a conservative.  Has any woman been more forthright in her defense of freedom as a candidate for office since Margaret Thatcher?
  • Governor Palin has burst through the Obama bubble.  If the Republicans were looking for someone who can strike back at Barack Obama, they have found her.
  • A friend who is a dedicated Obama supporter started the evening hitting Palin on the personal stuff — that she can’t be an effective mother of an infant with Down syndrome and still be VP; that she had fired too many people as mayor; etc.  By the end of the evening, between congratulations of her skill as a speechmaker, he was talking about her support of earmarks as Mayor of Wasilla.  Has her speech finally moved us past the personal silliness and, at least, to discussions of policy?  I’m hopeful, but not expectant.
  • Another good friend, who is a reasonable independent woman, was turned off by Palin’s willingness to attack Obama.  She considered her “bad mouthing and personal attacks” as unattractive, particularly for “a woman,” saying that “as a woman” she could say that.  She went on to say that, by making such attacks, she had become one of “them,” the “men who had been running the country for years.”  I don’t doubt that for some voters (including some women), Palin’s willingness to draw distinctions with Obama will be a turn-off.  But is it true that, by raising distinctions between the candidates, a woman can forfeit her femininity and become a good ol’ boy?  Especially one who has made her political career going after good ol’ boy politics?  I honestly solicit opinions here, because I am frankly surprised that a woman candidate can be disparaged for doing what other candidates must do to win any election.
  • As we have found out with Senator Obama, we won’t know how Governor Palin will wear until she faces unexpected questions.  Senator McCain, please put your honorable running mate in front of the press, again and again, well before the VP debate.  She will benefit from it, and the media will get it out of their system (somewhat).  Trust me – if the woman I saw tonight shows up for the presser, the upside is tremendous.
  • Governor Palin’s geopolitical discussion of energy was one of the most effortlessly comprehensive I’ve heard.  Her statement, in a few sentences, cast itself across the gas fields of the North Slope to the refugees of Georgia to the nuclear pretenses of Iran to the mother filling her gas tank in Omaha.  Her self-confidence (here and elsewhere) spoke volumes.  Democrats will tread lightly before challenging her on energy in the debate.
  • Thanks to Brit Hume for ending the pundits’ mentioning of the fact that a “speechwriter” gave her these words.  We never heard this for Hillary, or Obama, or Biden, or McCain, or Romney, or Huckabee, or….  As Fred Barnes said on Fox, she’s a natural.  Let her own it.  She earned it.
  • Wow.

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Notes on the Palin pick, in no particular order:

  • McCain closed the deal with me (and likely millions of conservatives) with this pick. Not that we were planning on voting for Obama, but we were the Fred Thompson voters, the Mitt Romney voters, even some Mike Huckabee voters. We were deeply worried that the man who seemed to take pleasure in voting against Republican measures during his time in the Senate was now that party’s leader. But we’d moved his way as we grew horrified by the thought of an Obama presidency. We started getting comfortable as he spoke our language at Saddleback. And by picking Palin, McCain told us that he doesn’t just tolerate conservatives, he admires them; he doesn’t just want us to vote for him, he wants us to help him govern. I’m in.


  • Women won’t be the only mass demographic to move with the Palin pick. Watch how Western states start shifting in McCain’s direction now. One of the more overlooked dynamics in politics is the fact that Western states, Western politicians, and Western values are largely absent from national politics. And they don’t appreciate it – much like ESPN is always lambasted for its East Coast Bias, Westerners assume that Washington is looking out for the 13 original colonies. Even though McCain is an Arizona senator, his years in Washington, his age, and his wealth distance him from Westerners. Palin, by contrast, oozes Western living. Her husband is a fisherman in the offseason and rides snowmobiles in competition. She shoots guns for sport, owns a float plane, and has a large family. She’s run a town of 9,000 people that’s 18 hours and a trip through Canada away from the state capital. Her parents cancelled today’s caribou hunt to watch their daughter accept the nomination for Vice President. These simple facts will connect Palin to voters in North Dakota, New Mexico, and Nevada in a way that no political ad could. And the contrast will be stark when the Senator from the First State faces off against the Governor of the Last Frontier.


  • Todd Palin is a member of the United Steelworkers’ Union. He’s proud of being the “First Dude” of Alaska. He worked in the oil fields of Alaska’s North Slope. To my knowledge, no union household has ever occupied the White House or the Naval Observatory. Can all the union endorsements of Barack Obama possibly overcome that? WIll Palin’s Local petition the Steelworkers to rescind its endorsement of Obama?


  • The Obama campaign struggled today with how to deal with the Palin announcement. The campaign was in full attack mode at first, calling her unqualified and unprepared to be President. Later, Obama and Biden congratulated her, and Obama chided his campaign for developing a “hair-trigger.” Don’t expect this internal debate to end today — the currents and countercurrents at work here, particularly for gender-obsessed Democrats, are myriad. A moment I desperately want to see: Palin turning to Biden during the debate and asking, “Senator, why are you going so easy on me? Don’t you worry, I can take it.”


  • There’s something different about a mom, rather than a dad, who’s willing to put her son in harm’s way. I can’t put my finger on it, but there just is. Track Palin, the Governor’s oldest son, enlisted in the Army on September 11, 2007 — the first anniversary of that fateful day when he could join the armed forces. He will deploy to Iraq with his unit this year. Has any pair of national leaders been more prepared to judge whether it is worthwhile to put soldiers in harm’s way to protect America than John McCain and Sarah Palin?

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Geraghty and the folks at Hot Air bring to my attention a far more accomplished piece of political film, also of the McCain campaign. My only question is, how has the final quote in this series not been broadcast sooner?

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I don’t consider Michelle Obama’s convention speech to be some momentous statement of the campaign’s principles. It was pretty, it was quick, and it tried (although I don’t think it succeeded) to humanize the man who is being framed by McCain as too big for his britches. Nevertheless, it did strike some notes that, for me anyway, explain Barack Obama and his way of seeing the world. Michelle tells us that

“[Barack] talked about “The world as it is” and “The world as it should be.” And he said that all too often, we accept the distance between the two, and settle for the world as it is – even when it doesn’t reflect our values and aspirations.[…] And he urged us to believe in ourselves – to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be.”

Now I understand! When Obama is confronted by the “world that it is,” he feels compelled to strive for “the world as it should be.” If Obama is reminded that he lives in a world where he promised to take public campaign funding in the general election, he instead strives for a world where he made no such promise and he’s flush with private cash. “World as it should be,” 1, “World as it is,” 0. (We’re ignoring, of course, that “your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do.”)

When Obama is told that, in this world, the surge has worked, and that he can’t declare defeat in Iraq, he chooses to talk about a different world — one where the surge wasn’t the force behind success in Iraq and where our “win” in Iraq is really just a sign of our loss in Afghanistan.

If Obama wants to run for state senate and win, but the world he lives in has other candidates who might actually beat him, he creates a new world he’d rather live in — one where he uses technicalities and sharp-elbow politics to remove his opponents from the ballot and start his rise to the presidency. (Ignoring, of course, that “you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.”

If Obama reads in the papers that he’s been attending church for the past 20 years under the tutelage of a radical pastor who he called, in print, his spiritual mentor, Obama chooses to write his own story, where he sat through no hateful sermons and Rev. Wright made no outrageous statements. In fact, you can write him entirely out of your own narrative, just as easily as you wrote him in [no mention of church in Michelle’s speech, in case you were wondering].

And doesn’t this simple move, this metaphysical twitch, explain so much about the Obama movement? “All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do – that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.”

Fantasy over reality. Emotions over facts. It’s a refreshing, exciting way to live, I have to say. As a way to run for president, though, it has its challenges. And it is NOT “why I love this country.”

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