Vice President Joe Biden has recently fed into the main stream media’s growing White House side story — his “single handed war” on the past Bush Administration. The latest chapter in the proposed saga came in the form of an interview unrelated to the subject, where Biden, in the process of answering the more or less softball question of “is the US more safe now than before”, made a controversial attack at former President Bush.
“We are more safe. We are more secure. Our interests are more secure — not just at home, but around the world. We are rebuilding America’s ability to lead. I remember President Bush saying to me one time in the Oval Office — and he was a great guy, enjoyed being with him. He said to me, he said, ‘Well, Joe,’ he said, ‘I’m a leader,’”
“And I said, ‘Mr. President, turn around and look behind you. No one’s following.’”
Enter former Bush adviser Karl Rove, who later, in an appearance in Fox News’s On the Record, fired back, assuming the political body and essentially answering for the Bush Administration:
“Joe Biden said, for example, that he spent hours with the president. Joe Biden was never alone with the president for more than a few moments. There was staff in the room at all times. He never said these kind of things.”
“I hate to say it, but he’s a serial exaggerator. If I was being unkind, I’d say he’s a liar. … You’ll notice every one of these incidents has the same structure. Joe Biden courageously raises the impudent question. The president befuddledly answers, and Joe Biden drives home the dramatic response. And I mean, it just — it’s his imagination. It’s a made-up, fictional world. He ought to get out of it and get back to reality.”
Although it isn’t hard or illogical to start with jabs towards both sides in this debate — in my view its important to step back and take a look at what isn’t in this equation, and why.
It surprises me in more ways than not that President Obama or any of his immediate staff has not stepped in with Biden, as his argument may not necessarily be gaining as much healthy traction as it was designed to receive. This, if I may go as far, may be yet another sign of the new administration’s naive nature, but it may very well be a seasoned strategy. I’ll explain:
Looking back into the illustrious and brilliant Obama/Biden campaign, one might recall the many Bush attacks that took place, which most of the time ended in long, back to back ad campaigns that I believe played a role in Obama’s overall win in the polls. These attacks were fully backed, and ruthlessly pushed forward by the Obama campaign, whether they started via mistake (i.e. Biden’s Indian Gaffe) or for a political gain. But now, as we see another attack initiated, President Obama has held back, unlike the past candidate Obama. So why?
My view is that Obama doesn’t believe Biden picked the best fight in the best time.
In a time where the Oval Office is already juggling domestic and international congressional problems, as well as the new policies trying to are trying to implemented, most of the official word coming out of the White House has been positive. And because of this, the right wing is more or less starved of talking points to get out into the press — as they would be taken second stage to the President’s news, which is essentially flowing out in a more of less politically healthy way.
So now that something has indeed come out as an attack, I wasn’t exactly surprised to see a response from the unofficial GOP within the day. Karl Rove, whether himself or a PR coordinator, sensed that this was the loophole that was exactly what they needed and politically pounced on it.
And it was in fact a good idea. Vice President Biden does in fact have a reputation of both sides of the aisle of stretching the truth, and I am more than assured that this alleged “conversation” did not exist. And because of this exaggeration and Rove’s seasoned ability to pounce, he has created a handle for the White House in the GOP — Joe Biden’s mouth.
But again, there are many ways to play something like this, so I’ll open this up to the commenters: Where was Obama in this exchange, and why did he stay out of it?
November 1, 2008
On the morning of August 20, Barack Obama and John McCain were in a virtual dead heat for the White House.
Obama was five days away from the Democratic Nation Convention, where his campaign hoped to put in a press swing that would ride him through the GOP’s Convention. He was also riding up attention for his extremely anticipated Vice Presidential decision, as his anxious base and the country alike stood at a standstill.
But as the infamous truth holds, none of this essentially played out — Sarah Palin was standing in the way.
Blanketing world news, Palin’s entrance to the global stage both wiped clean any and all publicity from Obama’s historic convention and in doing so started a “press wildfire,” exploding into the media for weeks, then months.
But now, as we look back on late August, the daunting shadow in our minds looms between McCain, the press, and the oval office — the polls. Gone from a dead heat to a widening eight point Obama lead, McCain’s promising late August media swing has seemed to backfire.
And as early ballots begin storming in, the McCain campaign finds themselves in a run against the media, the independents, and finally, against Sarah Palin.
As a thirteen year old not effected by voting week or polls, it is more or less clearer to see the strategic effect rather than the emotional toll, and in that respect I believe that the choice of Palin as running mate has essentially the snowball that has turned into an avalanche.
Palin’s political entrance in the McCain campaign put an extremely positive effect onto the conservative base, but in doing so moved the McCain campaign significantly to the right.
In addition to strategically abandoning liberal Republican voters and the center, Palin opened the McCain campaign up for examination from almost every political side of the isle, detailing that Palin was the female form of President Bush — far right in many of her individual policies.
But what interests me is that the McCain campaign didn’t solely defend Palin, but set off an array of attack ads to the left, sending off the first signs of agitation from his campaign.
And as Obama simply defended them with response press statements and ads himself, the media simply caught on, causing many have accused the media of — bias. The Obama press endorsements kept racking up, backing the McCain campaign closer and closer to the wall.
The press had caught the strategic unstableness of the McCain campaign, and simply reported it. McCain, in a deeper and deeper hole, executed the response that ultimately will keep him out of the oval office — more attack.
Strategic failure and a political gamble have brought the McCain campaign to their knees — and this is why, as the Fall leaves are raked off the street and world politics comes to a standstill on November 4th, we will see a President Obama elected.
October 25, 2008
In the already delicate presidential election, race has truly worn many masks from the start. Bloggers and the media alike have thrown out suggestions of the race card, and the issue has now become the latest talking point among the press.
But truly what amount of votes will actually swing because of a candidate’s race?
I think the reason that this question is so debated is because there is truly no answer. In an election that I still stress is different from every other, many issues will not truly be answered with previous election trends, but to correctly answer the race question would be essentially impossible.
But in a sense this means less than what it its importance is perceived. After a half-hour drive to the polls, that same man will stand in front of the ballot and thousands of questions will be screaming at him, one being race.
Am I saying that this man won’t vote Obama because he is African American?
No, I am essentially saying that not a single pundit predicting race’s affect in this election will be looking over the voting booth at that man’s vote, nor will that pundit know what that man was originally going to vote if race was not the problem.
But what we can debate is the volume of people who may be swung because of race, which the answer being completely not enough. In my opinion, the amount of people who will vote McCain because Obama is African-American will be close to the amount of people who vote Obama because he is African-American.
So again I’ll open this up to the commenters with the obvious question: What importance does race truly hold?
Repetition can and has proved a deadly political strategy in recent months, but has it necessarily won out voters? I’d like to cite a quote by former USSR leader Vladimir Lenin, reading:
“A lie told often enough becomes truth.”
The strategic beauty of this quote is simply because it has essentially lasted into the present and proved itself when associated with the past. But what is arguable is that campaigns have put this quote into practice — with political ads.
With a seventh grade education (and counting), I am not ready to make a statement about a past world war nor am I about to call anything or everything thrown around the political spectrum a “lie,” but it is unimaginable not to disregard that the concept of Lenin’s quote has surrounded our daily lives. Living in California, media outlets and advertising are close to impossible to escape, only escalating as the voting season has transitioned itself into full swing. But what it also noticeable is the volume in which these ads are coming.
For example, Proposition 8, aimed at taking away certain gay rights, has been advertised almost entirely against by No On 8, with a ratio of 5:1 to their opposition, Yes On 8. This lopsided press swing shows a win in funding to No On 8, but it also begs the question: could more ads from one campaign than another ultimately win a large number of votes?
Obviously gay marriage is an issue that isn’t likely to be effected by the press, but is this also the same in the fragile politics of a national election?
What strikes me even more is the similarly advertising and funding wise between Barack Obama and No On 8 — both have sufficiently more ads and money than the opposing campaign, and both are seemingly in the lead.
So I’ll ask the commenters once more — has Obama’s frequent on-air time and sufficient donation lead effected the polls, and will it effect the voting booth?
October 20, 2008
CNN analyst Gloria Borger recently raised an interesting question: in the increasingly close reality of a McCain loss, who will be to blame?
As I detailed in another post, I used a quote stating a common fact: the Republican party is not currently popular. This can be brought out in many different ways, but recently the common scapegoat for McCain eventually falling short of the presidency would be because of the party he is running in.
Many people would also point out that Sarah Palin ultimately will hand the McCain campaign a loss, mostly because of the clear cut political line she placed between McCain and Barack Obama, and the fact that her social conservative standing has moved the McCain too far right than they want to be strategically.
And then there are many people who say that the reason McCain choose Palin wasn’t exactly strategic — she was rather chosen from the commands of the far right base, which is contradicting to another recent post and what I will bring up here.
My opinion here is that the nomination of Palin for running mate may have been a factor the far right wanting Palin’s politics, but in the end I believe that the main reason for McCain to go with Palin was nothing more than strategy.
As I have pointed out a large number of times, the acquisition of Palin was in fact well orchestrated, providing a media diversion from the Obama campaign and redirecting it to McCain for the good part of two months.
But what I failed to point out is this: Palin was not the best strategic choice for McCain — Joe Lieberman was.
Why? Lieberman would have moved John McCain’s campaign to the the left, not necessarily where the conservative base would have enjoyed it being, but precisely where the votes that will ultimately be the nail in McCain’s political coffin lie — moderates.
Because of Lieberman’s political standing, he would do the opposite that Palin has done — move McCain farther left. And because of this, Lieberman would increased McCain’s overall popularity, and fetched more votes rather than excited a handful of extremely right conservatives.
But the possibility of choosing Lieberman also answers the overall question of this post — will McCain’s loss be credited to the Republican party.
And the answer to that question is no. If McCain (who some consider to the most liberal Republican who ran) chose Lieberman instead of Sarah Palin, he would be in a significantly better place strategically by turning his campaign arguably the most liberal the Republican party has ever seen.
In short, McCain is on track to lose the election in part because of his unpopular party and demanding base, but he had the chance to dodge both of those obstacles with the acquisition of Joe Lieberman.
To open this up to the commenters, is has McCain’s party been a factor if he falls short of the oval office, and what would have happened if Lieberman was chosen?
October 17, 2008
There is no disputing that the decision to nominate Sarah Palin as the Republican’s vice presidential pick was certainly a surprise, causing the press to have one of the biggest political field days in history. But in the end was she strategically a gain or loss for the McCain campaign?
I think that this essentially is the problem: what is a gain, what is a loss, and what was Palin meant to do — things certainly debatable but not entirely clear.
But nevertheless, the centrist point here is that John McCain is (in his own words) “Running to win, and winning to govern.” What this is perceived to mean is that McCain is essentially running for the oval office and frankly doesn’t mind whoever contributes in getting him there.
So with this mindset the question can be more or less tackled, starting with the concept that Palin’s effect on the press was positive or negative.
I think the answer to this is yes and no. As explained a countless amount of times, Palin’s immediate burst into the political media was very much a success off the bat, but the (to be theoretical), the chaos that Palin threw at the press has in a sense died down — to the point where Palin is at the point of strategic questioning. And as we have seen lately, this has been proven to be damaging to the McCain campaign in the long run.
And how has this happened? Palin’s immediate political success can be largely credited to timing. Announced the day after Barack Obama’s final democratic convention speech, the McCain camp essentially used the general political media attention to their advantage, and in doing so not only sweeping away both parties’ attention from the Democrats, but also setting an extremely flammable fictional wildfire in the media. And this I ultimately credit to Palin’s extreme demand in the first few weeks she was in the political spotlight.
I, as many other people also pointed out that while the Sarah Palin “wildfire” was burning, Palin wasn’t actually conducting much press herself, shown in the fact that she has yet to break ten television interviews.
And although this may have been extremely efficient for both Palin and the McCain campaign, it hasn’t politically helped the McCain campaign in the long run — both sides of the press are now politically and strategically questioning Palin, in my opinion one of the factors in McCain’s deficit in the polls.
So I ask the commenters, has Palin helped John McCain strategically and politically — and has Palin truly solitified the base and gained votes not possible by McCain himself?
Overall, has she been worth it?
October 10, 2008
In the final stages of the presidential election, there is certainly no disputing that the national spotlight has shifted to Barack Obama rather than John McCain, whether rightfully so or not.
While listening to a Fox Radio broadcast, a republican strategist put out a bold analogy in a similarly bold topic, quoting:
The party that can’t lose [Dem.] has nominated a candidate that can’t win, and the party that can’t win [Rep.] has nominated a candidate that can’t lose.
Although the quote isn’t exactly historically accurate (its very debatable), nor do I necessarily agree with what the man said, he certainly raises a very good point.
Although I am a (obviously non-racist) liberal Obama supporter who frankly doesn’t care about his previous political involvements, I know for a fact that many other people don’t share my views — whether they support Obama or McCain.
Several polls have shown that a great number of people are in fact concerned with Ayers and other people’s involvement with Obama, mostly the people that the McCain campaign have hit on in their recent campaigning.
It is of course also debatable if those campaign tactics have in fact succeeded (maybe another post), but my main point here is to raise an even more subtle question: “Has Obama’s background and not necessarily clear past kept the political race as close as it is?”
In my opinion the answer is yes.
The McCain campaign, in my view, is taking extremely long and (I’ll quote Obama on this) “erratic” bounds as far as attacks, but it has worked to some extent with the general audience. As pointed out in a great post, McCain’s attacks may have not convinced any talking head to intellectual blogger. But I disagree with the post it its claim that they has altogether failed.
But in the same sense, Obama is still a clear shot away from the White House, and this issue most likely would be far from relevant in that were to happen.
So instead I’ll open up another (certainly way off track) concept to the commenters, which is further prompted by my original question: Has Obama’s background and not necessarily clear past kept the political race as close as it is?
What if a non-scandalous John Edwards were in Obama’s political place at the moment? Would the election be more of a landslide?
—- In my opinion, this would be completely irrelevant and false, mostly because I support Obama because of his policies rather than his past involvements. —
October 7, 2008
In what many would call a fascinating debate intellectually as well as strategically, I will say that I am completely shocked by the lack of political and strategic performance that John McCain put forward.
In my opinion, this debate for John McCain held a huge importance — McCain was in need of a breakthrough, and he as well as I knew that it would need to come with negative attacks.
But McCain simply didn’t pick the right fights — he picked all of them. In almost every question and issue, McCain choose to attack his opponent. And this simply did not (and is proven to have not) provoke a positive reaction from the audience.
And this is essentially what part of the outcome is for McCain’s slip in the polls — he has chosen a proven strategy, in this case negative campaigning, and has abused it — both in this debate and in his campaigning in total.
“You don’t want to hear politicians pointing fingers, you want to know how my or senator McCain’s policies will affect you.”
This quote was both the closest point to a knockout punch that this relatively motionless debate held, but also a show that McCain was not pointing his finger correctly at Obama. As a democrat and Obama supporter myself, I will say (and you can quote me on this) the Obama won the debate from a policy standpoint. But as a thirteen-year old American and political blogger, I will also say that McCain lost a debate on the strategic side that he very well could have won if he simply stopped attacking.
And this is essentially because although McCain had very little momentum coming into tonight, the debate’s town hall-style favored him — he purposely holds his campaign events as town-halls because he knows that it is his strength.
But despite this, McCain, instead of capitalizing on the town-hall format by directly answering the questions asked, seemed anxious to put fourth a knock out punch question after question in the form of a political attack towards Obama.
And because of this, McCain left Obama the momentum door a jar and Obama exploited it, using his strengths to please the crowd with his policies, ignoring the sometimes off-topic McCain points. His ratings instantly increased and as an effect, the normally non-commenting people I watched the debate with pointed out that Obama clearly had a strategic and political edge.
And in the end, McCain never got his chance for a knockout punch. Why? Obama never gave him another chance — using his earned momentum to both answer McCain and present his point in the way he wanted to.
And so I think that McCain fared as more anxious in his portion of the debate than Obama, and that is why he clearly lost.
October 2, 2008
In what was anticipated to be a debate of gaffes rather than politics, the first and only vice presidential debate was of more depth and quality than then its preceder – the presidential debate. I say this not in my political view, but of the nation’s vibe preceding the event. And this is essentially because of hype.
There is no disputing from either party that the preparation for tonight was unbalanced. The public, mainstream media, and bloggers alike were seemingly convinced two different ways: the first that Palin would gaffe, and the second that she would be surprisingly intelligent. In a sense, both were right and wrong.
John McCain had Palin prepared, but from any perspective he knew Palin would be Palin. The Governor, policies aside, has a distinct personality that he could not change no matter how much she was prepared. In a non-partisan sense, Palin has a not only unique personality, but a certain way of bringing out her points, and that is what has made her successful on the political stage.
However, the McCain campaign could and did save her from a gaffe. Again staying non-partisan, Palin has and is so closely examined that she (as a completely new national politician), could very well send off a misjudged point or flat out gaffe that would explode onto the MSM stage. My case in point would be Palin’s disastrous CBS interview with Katie Couric.
And because of this, one of the few things that the McCain camp had the ability to do before the debate is give Palin a response to Biden’s likely attacks so that she didn’t gaffe. That was definitely apparent tonight.
Biden came into the debate as an underdog to win. What I mean by this is that the press essentially predicted Palin to decide not the winner or loser, but rather if she would lose well or collapse. Biden, however, was never perceived to walk out of the door with a loss.
And this changed dramatically with the start of the debate. A main point that I would like to get out is the fact that I sensed a feeling of renewal. Despite the fact that the media had called for a one-edged debate with a gaffed ending, both candidates were place on the same level.
This is what gave Palin a boost out of the gates — no one expected anything, and because of this, Palin showed a surprising degree of fluentness in her points, something that took everyone off-guard. And in a sense, Palin used this to run away with the first topic — the economy.
Then came foreign policy.
The main turning point in this debate was exactly what Biden needed — a direct soundbite — coming after Palin’s first talking point on foreign policy in which she essentially backed up her ticket but never gave examples.
Biden answered in what I would call the best way possible — reading:
“With all due respect, I didn’t hear a plan”
In this quote, Biden both found his grip on the debate and swept Palin off her feet for the first time. The quote itself was simple, but orchestrated what is essentially the biggest difference with both tickets as far as foreign policy — ending the war and winning it. He took advantage of a bad talking point from Palin, and then turned it into a much needed soundbite.
From then on, Biden rode the wave of confidence, further taking chances with the crowd and the public, in example — quoting that Dick Cheney has been the “worst vice president” the US has had, and later in the debate jumping on a softball question about what would happen if he would replace Obama in president if something were to happen.
In short, the debate showed its ups and downs, but in the end Palin lost not because of a gaffe, but rather through a single quote.
September 30, 2008
It seems like the press is now convinced on two topics — the economic bailout that has cost us one trillion in a day — and everything about Sarah Palin. Because I am no economics professional and am too young to have a bank account, I have become more or less obsessed with Palin and her press craze.
Very early this month, I found a small blog offering that John McCain’s campaign should ask Palin to step down as running mate, in what seemed like a drunken tone, which I had very little interest for mostly because the blog’s credibility and links were nothing less than bogus.
I then started seeing more and more blogs pop up with this topic, along with the occasional webzine posting a opinion piece with similar views to the original blog. But I was extremely surprised to see the story go all the way to CNN’s Jack Cafferty File, a very prestigious, and to me, credible opinion blog. So as I sifted through the hundreds of comments, some (let us say) “interesting” points came up. This is one that I will center my analysis around — written by “erica”:
If he [John McCain] has half a brain he will – but I think we know how much brain he has, based on the fact he chose her in the first place.
I originally noticed this comment because it was so overly partisan that it triggered dozens of follow up arguments, but after staring at it for quite a long time, I saw something different in it — it was completely true…without the “brain” comments.
In truth, McCain made a smart decision, but a very important one in his acquisition of Palin. And many can agree that it has not paid off.
In my perspective, Palin was chosen in the most part for a nation-wide press boost and to collect outer right conservatives who otherwise wouldn’t support McCain. It is widely disputed if they intended to also herd in former Hillary Clinton supporters, but that is completely off topic.
In short, for whatever reason John McCain choose Sarah Palin, he cannot avoid the fact that he has chosen her. He also cannot avoid the fact that he has backed her up and called her “the best running mate I could have chosen” multiple times. So this now brings me to a revised version of the comment I saw.
John McCain is now feeling his Sarah Palin press fire burn out in the midst of the economic crisis, and although he and his staff know that Palin does not have a good chance of coming out of the debate (or really any public appearance) with an increase in the polls, he has chosen her. He cannot replace her.
He simply can’t. Sending Palin into a debate that now seems impossible to win and hard to stay alive would prompt any political writer, commentator, strategist, blogger — anyone to think that it would be a good campaign move to replace her. But he can’t.
Palin, in her VP beginnings, was a literal press flame although she barely ever choose to enter the media. And I, as well as many liberal and conservatives alike thought it she could carry that media flame all the way to the White House. As a Democrat and teenage citizen of the US, I was terrified by her, but as a political strategist I strongly thought that she could eventually carry her stardom all the way. But I forgot one thing — she had to debate. I stand corrected.
The McCain campaign has found themselves in a trap. Their favorite baseball was hit as a home run, but instead of clearing their fence to their friendly neighbor’s yard, it was hit too hard, landing in the haunted house that Joe Biden lives in.
In more simple words, Palin was a genius idea that worked, perhaps too well. The conservatives just didn’t look far ahead enough politically and tested all available traps to see that this could happen. Palin started off brilliantly, but then she made some mistakes and the press as well as many others have exploited them. Hence her “Bridge To Nowhere” claim that everyone from Bono to Keith Olberman have capitalized on. Her two failed interviews that are now legendary on youtube, being smashed to pieces by comedian Tina Fey. But most of all, it is the few information that has been given out, most of it called lies.
So as Palin limps into the debates, there is a very low chance she will make it out. And there is literately nothing John McCain can do about it.