Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gustav and the Anniversary of Katrina

9/20 update: Prayers to all affected by Hurricane Ike as well. The recovery effort in impacted areas looks like it will be difficult and long.

It's hard to believe that New Orleans may be hit again by a major hurricane. Already Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica were impacted but Cuba and the U.S. seem to be in for a much worse pounding. Let's keep all in thoughts and prayers and hope this time will be different. But we must never forget:

Hopeful - a Hurricane Katrina Tribute

It also offers a reminder of the stakes this election year and the truest words ever spoken by Kanye West:

I will never get tired of watching this clip.

Palin (Playin' Plain) Politics...LOL

Is McCain brilliant or crazy? LOL :-) That is the question of the hour. Will this strategic surprise VP choice change the game long term and help McCain win the presidency, or did it just seal the deal for Obama? Of course I have some thoughts on this new development...

First, how this choice was politically savvy and strategically brilliant in some ways:

1. I'll see your history and up you one.

Obama's historic speech on the 45th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.'s
I Have a Dream speech drew 38 million viewers. All saw the images of Americans of all color waving flags in unity with tears of pride in their eyes.

But then McCain picks Palin for his VP choice the next morning and the conversation changed immediately. The history Obama made just got eclipsed, and we now have a race v. gender dynamic once again (which was only finally buried at the DNC convention a couple days earlier).

2. Marrying the experience argument with a gender component.

McCain has been running on the fact that Obama has little experience and is not ready to lead. So many are confused by why he would choose a running mate with little experience. It actually politically was a smart move. It may even solidify the argument against Obama and experience because they can now bring it up in a different context: Obama has no executive experience while Palin at least has been governor. And the Obama campaign can not speak about her lack of experience because they have argued that it is judgment not experience that matters, and if they do question her experience but give Obama a pass on the same question, they come off as sexist. The knee jerk reaction of the campaign was to question her experience, but Obama being the smart man and savvy politician he is backed off from that approach quickly. Smart move.

3. Keep them guessing.

With one move, McCain was able to revive his maverick image and counter the idea that he is more of the same. Palin is touted as a reformer and now the republican ticket has a one line campaign of "reform" to fight against the tag the democrats were trying to put on him of "more of the same".

4. Energize the far right evangelical conservatives.

While under their breath, most are like "What was McCain thinking?" the far right are putting a good spin on it because Palin has exactly the conservative credentials they wanted on the ticket. So while those on the far right do not trust McCain, they probably feel like they influenced his decision and own him now. They now feel more secure that McCain will fall in line.

5. Neutralize Biden's best assets: his fighting spirit and ability to be the attack dog.

While many believe Palin will come off as a novice during the VP debates with Biden, now Biden will have to watch how he communicates because political history has shown that the public does not like to see a male candidate "being mean" or "beating up on" a female candidate.

6. Try to tap into the generational politics that is inevitably going to shape politics for years to come.

As I've argued a number of times, if Obama wins, it will be because those under 40 come out to vote in record numbers. It seems as if McCain is trying to challenge this with this pick. However, while she is young, her values probably do not match the majority of young voters that are engaged this year so this may be the least effective strategy, but it gives them a talking point of "new, young blood" etc. so Republicans do not look like the party of old, rich men.

7. It's the gas tank, stupid.

McCain wants to keep the energy issue and drilling as the top economic issue given the polls and the struggles folks are having to buy gas. Palin's main area of experience is energy and opens the dialogue for him to back slide on drilling in Alaska because she is for it.

However, given all of the previous points, I believe McCain just made the biggest political mistake of this campaign and the backlash will come from women, environmentalists, and independents (not to mention sexists who have already talked more about her looks than her ability to be vice president).

1. This is an obvious pander and many will be rightfully offended.

Her first speech when introduced Friday played the gender card obviously (even trying to line herself to Ferraro and Hillary Clinton). The talking points his campaign reps have been pushing include trying to reach out to "disaffected Hillary voters" and painting Palin as a working mother that will relate to all women (despite her staunch conservative stances on choice).

Women will be offended that it appears that McCain thinks any woman would do (like women are interchangeable). This is evident because if he wanted someone that could energize the evangelical base, he could have chosen Huckabee who had also been a governor (executive experience), and for longer. . . If he wanted a woman to sincerely smash the glass ceiling, there were other republican options that had more experience and were better known: former governor Christine Todd Whittman, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, or Sec. Condeleeza Rice. Whittman gives the same argument as Palin (executive credentials and a reformer) but with much more experience. Hutchinson would have made more sense with his campaign theme of "country first" with her knowledge of homeland security and foreign policy. Rice may not have been an option since she said she had no interest, but her experience also eclipses Palin's. So while cultural conservatives will be happy, the backlash from many women less ideological will be intense. Believe that.

Also, this intensifies the discussions about McCain's age and judgement. While the Obama campaign can remain on message about issues, focusing on the contrast between the two ticket policies, the blog world can debate this latest example concerning McCain's judgement. The media and blogs will do the dirty work of raising all the questions about McCain's judgement, his age (and possible death leaving Palin in charge), if he really "gets it" regarding the issues that are affecting and most important to voters, and "old politics" vs. "new politics". Obama can remain on message and avoid falling into a trap of sexism and comparing resumes. It will look like he is concerned about people losing jobs and houses while McCain is playing political crapshoot with everyone's future. Independents and libertarian leaning republicans will seethe over this pick...not to mention animal lovers and environmentalists who know Palin's record concerning their issues.

When you read the comments on this cnn blog, the majority support this analysis. Here are some examples:


Eve from NY August 29th, 2008 7:10 pm ET

DONT BE FOOLED by false bloggers saying we clinton supporters arent insulted by this… WE ARE!!

My friends and I have been EXTREMELY INSULTED by McCains' vp choice!!

Even more so because we were going to vote for him come Novemeber! But this is OUTRAGEOUS..selecting Palin simply because of her anatomy, and expecting intelligent american women to vote for him because of this!!

We have set up a group, consisting of 42 women already, who have commited to voting for OBAMA because of McCains decision.. which shows that he really IS OUT OF TOUCH with women in America!! There is only one choice this year.. OBAMA!!!


Fairfax Deb August 29th, 2008 8:03 pm ET

Obviously McCain is pandering to Hillary's supporters. He needs to learn that woman are not interchangable. I was a Hillary supporter and I am not amused. I will vote for Barack.


susan August 29th, 2008 7:24 pm ET

Palin is a set back for the women's movement


sandyalip August 29th, 2008 8:16 pm ET

McCain just doesn't get it. We didn't want Hillary because she was a woman. We wanted her because we truly believed she was the best for the job. Picking an unqualified novice to be a heartbeat away from the presidency because she is a woman is such a horror-and such an insult to all American women. If she did somehow rise to the presidency, God help America. A beauty pageant contestant would be Commander in Chief. I'm a registered Republican woman. I have been trying to decide what I should do now that Hillary is gone. Thank you McCain-I've made up my mind!


anom August 29th, 2008 7:51 pm ET

Given that she is just a heart beat away from become VP - is this how McCain puts his country first??????
Are we, the American women, so very stupid that he thinks we loved Hillary for her gender? I find McCain's stop gap selfish choice of a woman VP both, offensive and yes, unpatriotic. He said he wasn't going to put the election before his country - well, you just did Senator McCain!
You met her only once in the vetting process and you made up your mind about her being your VP - hmm stinks of insincerity about the 'putting politics before the love of country.' Are you just that desperate?
You just helped me make up my mind. Yes, Obama/Biden you got my vote!


Lisa from VA August 29th, 2008 7:24 pm ET

He is sadly mistaken if he thinks this Hillary supporter is going to fall in line. I am insulted at the idea that I will just settle for any woman just for the sake of getting to vote for a woman. Shows what he thinks of women's intelligence, IMO. And she called Hillary whiney a while back and now she is praising her. Well I can see right through it. She is NO Hillary Clinton. I support Hillary Clinton for WHO she is, not WHAT she is.


Dyan, MN August 29th, 2008 7:50 pm ET

Dear Senator McCain,

I'm not stupid. I know the difference between a woman of substance and qualifications and one who is nothing but pretty token to have around.

An ex-Hillary Supporter


Sue August 29th, 2008 7:49 pm ET

What an insult to women! Today, for the first time, I made a donation to the Obama-Biden campaign! To pick a woman who John McCain met one time and has decided she can take over in a heart beat - is purely a political move. Women who wanted Hillary Clinton didn't want a woman - they wanted Hillary who was capable of being the Commander in Chief and who had experience, knowledge and the ability to lead. Hillary didn't want the VP job - as Bill would have to divulge too much info. That needs to come out and stop this talk that Obama didn't pick her when in fact she didn't want the job. More will come out about Palin including she doesn't believe in abortion even if the live of a woman is threatened. I shutter to think how she can stand up to Iran and Iraq or even South Korea without any idea who they are. Look at her quotes…those will come out. She hasn't given the situation in Iran/Iraq any thought at all. Terrible pick John, just awful.


darl August 29th, 2008 7:44 pm ET

What an insult..McDaddy Cain is now pimping for women votes.
Go McDaddy….


Rosemary August 29th, 2008 7:31 pm ET

Does McCain believe that we (women) are simply idiots!!! We aren't looking for someone who simply has ovaries, we're looking for someone who can actually lead our country. let's go back to the add "when the call comes at 2 AM, who do you want to answer the call"? Palin (NOT!!!). I'm a women who will be 47 on the day of the election. I've never voted before but McCain has encouraged me to register (Democrat) and cast my vote for a team that takes women seriously and has the judgement to run the most powerful and diverse country.


An Insult! August 29th, 2008 7:29 pm ET

It's an insult to the more capable women and men that he could have chosen and an insult to the women voters he is pandering to.


Janet Cooper August 29th, 2008 7:27 pm ET

Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton, as a woman I vote on issues not GENDER!!


Matt August 29th, 2008 7:27 pm ET

McCain could and should have picked a more qualified republican. But to pander and try to copy Obama's theme, he picked a inexperienced 1.5 year governor. I was on the fence, but now I am voting for OBAMA.


Gorefan August 29th, 2008 7:24 pm ET

McCain went looking for a highly qualified vice president and found a fairly qualified Secretary of the Interior.

So much for McCain the Maverick, he stared Rush Limbaugh in the eyes and McCain blinked. He let the right wing of the Republican Party hijack his vp pick.


Napoleon Complex August 29th, 2008 7:31 pm ET

John McCain doesn't have the judgment or the temperament to be President. He's made a mockery of his own campaign slogan. The choice of Sarah Palin doesn't put country first. She not capable of being commander-in-chief on January 20th. This was a cheap, desperate political trick designed to hide the conservatives' abysmal record on civil rights and gender equity.


Missy August 29th, 2008 7:49 pm ET

I am just trying to picture Sarah Palin having the dreaded 3 a.m. conversation with Ahmadinejad… And I haven't been this frightened since I watched Silence of the Lambs.

I can clearly imagine Hillary, Condaleeza or any number of strong, qualified women in that situation, but this soccer mom with her perky ponytail who admits that she has been too busy to pay much attention to the war in Iraq will never be taken seriously by a Middle Eastern leader. Bin Laden must be drooling in anticipation of the next four years.

I am so disappointed in you, John McCain, for putting your ambition ahead of your country. You know in your heart that this woman should not be the President of the United States. Shame on you.


Mike Dallas August 29th, 2008 8:10 pm ET

Are there no moderate Republicans to stop the insanity! Oops, guess that is a oxymoron, since this pro-life choice was only chosen to solidify the base and pander to women.


Geoffrey August 29th, 2008 8:14 pm ET

The reason that McCain and his party will loose big this year, is because he and the republicans are so rapped up in political tactics and games that they have lost sight of the issues which are priorities for the electerate. When people are losing their jobs, their homes and their children's lives over in Iraq, they pay attention. The looser is the one who tries to insult the American people in these hard times.


Disappointed Republican! August 29th, 2008 7:59 pm ET

This is an absolute disgrace, to the men and women serving our country knowing that their possible future president is someone with judgement who would not place them in harms way, and now McCain picks a VP who has no clue on what's going on with the war or foreign affairs. This decision comes from a former POW with experience and politica background; however, failed to make a wise decision for a VP pick- May I remind you this person will be "A heart beat away". This is one person I don't want answering the phone 3am in the morning! Sorry, McCain you lost my vote and respect.


suz August 29th, 2008 7:19 pm ET

SARAH PALIN????? The WORST governor in the COUNTRY on environmental/wildlife issues????? Someone a heart beat away from a presidency occupied by a pasty-faced sick-looking OLD white guy????? If nothing else, THIS should MOBILIZE a LOT of people!!!!!! It is me! What a stupid stupid choice by McCain! Nice try; no cigar!


shirl August 29th, 2008 8:12 pm ET

All you animals lovers, check out Defenders of Wildlife web site to read about "Ending Alaska's Aerial Killing before you decide if Palin is right for VP. Just more of the same!!!


b. Krause August 29th, 2008 7:18 pm ET

Instead of a woman who runs with wolves, Palin prefers killing them…from airplanes and helicopters. What a brave, brave hunter! Then there's her position on teaching of evolution in schools: "It should be taught from all sides," she said ignorantly and presuming that there are many sides. Creationism (or "Intelligent Design") as the conservative courts of the land have decided is religion. Evolution is science. I wonder what her grade point average was at Univ. of Idaho.

Is it any wonder that in the last 28 years, America has dropped from being in the top ten literate countries to 41…after Poland, Cuba, and Slovenia? And this is the package Republicans think America should buy? Come on, fellas and gals. You're losing your minds.


Sue August 29th, 2008 7:19 pm ET

He is such a fake. First he says foreign policy is something his VP pick must have, and that he must be comfortable with that choice. Nice to see that he feels he can get in bed with her after two short meetings. Judment of McCain - 0!


August 29th, 2008 7:32 pm ET

What kind of judgment is McCain exercising when he chooses a running mate he's only had two conversations with, one whose experience in goverment, particulary with foreign policy, is shorter than even Obama's? This was a total gimmick and it's going to blow up in McCain's face. He just lost this election.

Obama-Biden '08!


Peggy August 29th, 2008 7:43 pm ET

The choice is shocking in its contempt for the country and the office of president and vice-president. McCain's judgment is seriously impaired; his cynicism is controlling him. He's not even taking this position seriously. Shame on you, McCain.


August 29th, 2008 7:50 pm ET

Judgement… Judgement… Judgement…
He meets the woman one time and chooses her to be his VP running mate. Once again, John McCain makes a monumental blunder in judgement. This man will destroy our country with his ill-advised, reckless poor judgement.


Laura August 29th, 2008 8:14 pm ET

What an insult. McCain has shown his lack of judgment.


dan August 29th, 2008 7:59 pm ET

McCain has insulted every single American by making a joke out of our Presidential election. He's opted for a cheap publicity stunt instead picking a qualified running mate. He's a shell of a man who has sold every last scrap of his dignity to extremists. The John McCain that suffered for American ideals in Nam wouldn't stop to spit on the pathetic coward that's currently running for President.

This is truly a sad day for America.


Bonnie NYC August 29th, 2008 8:03 pm ET

This guy after having met her once and makes her the VP on the Rep ticket. He's not a maverick, he's an idiot and doesn't have the judgement to be president. PERIOD !!!!


Don Bo August 29th, 2008 8:02 pm ET

As a fellow member of the NRA, I wouldn't mind seeing Governor Palin in the centerfold of the American Rifleman magazine, but I sure as heck don't want to see her as our Commander in Chief, if McCain bites the big one, or becomes incapacitated, before his term is up.

Let's stop kidding ourselves…..the Mayor of Podunkville, Alaska, and less than 2 years as Governor of a State of a half-million people? Vice-President?

I don't think so.

Is this strategic mistake enough to ensure an Obama victory?? Not in this I am thankful I can always go to Jamaica to live if need

Some are suggesting this is all a publicity stunt to squash Obama's momentum. The conspiracy theory is that she will back down in a couple of weeks claiming she needs to be at home with her infant with downs syndrome. Since I have been known to be a bit cynical from time to time (lol), I would not be surprised if that happened.

Plus, I still believe that this election really isn't about McCain; it's about America and if people are really ready for an Obama presidency. Obama has a battle and his biggest obstacle is not his's his race. So while this McCain blunder helps, Obama's victory will still depend on his grassroots mobilization efforts and a high youth voter turnout. Believe that.

But Obama's campaign is extremely organized and disciplined, so I am sure they have a winning blueprint to get to the White House. History seems to be knocking.

Palin, playin plain politics...what a year! LOL :-)

Here are a couple funny editorials to read:

Commentary: Is McCain out of his mind?

By Paul Begala
CNN Contributor

Op-Ed Columnist

McCain’s Baked Alaska

Published: August 30, 2008