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 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. —
As a bit of an off-topic post: Today I heard something that I had heard in different contexts all my life, but never really brought out in a political light. In a Yom Kippur sermon, a rabbi pointed out to me something the all of us have (or are going to learn) the hard way — it is the human instinct to always be right.
I know that we have all heard this before, but bare with me. The speech was mostly about the science of insisting on being correct to reduce sadness and stress, but as a political junkie rather than a health enthusiast, one point of the sermon clung on to me.
The Rabbi pointed out this (not a direct quote):
This human knack is also translated in many ways than one….into politics. If you remember the famous Nixon/Kennedy debate, and visited a predominately Nixon-favoring apartment, the people living there would say: “look at this whooping we are giving Kennedy!” But if you went to a Kennedy supporting apartment, they would most likely say the opposite: “Look at this pounding we are handing Nixon!”
And although this would certainly not be rare in the present as well, the rabbi’s point was brought out completely in his last quote:
But the interesting thing here was is if you were in the far-right apartment building and Nixon [in the debate] stared straight at the camera and said, “I am a crook. I am not nearly qualified enough to become president compared to my opponent — and frankly, this was a stupid idea to run in the first place.” then the Nixon supporters in the apartment would most definitely roar in approval, saying: “Now there is an honest man fit for the job as commander and chief.”
And although this is certainly not bad, (I wrote a while back on this) some of these people are (this is just my opinion) fixated on destroying the other candidate via the internet and media. And this, in my opinion, can really derail them as voters, and more importantly Americans.
To support a candidate in this day and age is to support someone that you truly believe can make an America that you want, not a congressman, senator, or frankly — another candidate’s America. But when a person rises above a certain passion for a candidate, many will instead turn to attacking the opposing party’s candidate.
And in doing this the really lose touch of their pick for president and become engrossed in a negative mindset of convincing other people that a candidate is not fit as president.
No, I am not having some sort of crisis or am trying out to be a guru, but my main point here is that these people, instead of using this incredible amount of energy on their candidate, choose to use it to attempt to persuade others into something that is truly their own choice.
If you want to get very deep into the subject, this can be traced to many other things involving religion, racism, and cults, but my meaning here is that equally, on both sides of the political spectrum, there is a very radical but still functional mental factor that continues to persuade large numbers of voters.
October 4, 2008
As an American, I have recently been surrounded at all angles by the financial crisis, both presidential and vice-presidential debates, and already interestingly enough, the ongoing saga of Sarah Palin.
So as I tuned in to CNN, passing through images of Wall Street, abandoned houses and OJ Simpson’s Trial, I knew it was only a matter of seconds before I saw Sarah Palin. And when that did in fact become reality, I was completely dumbfounded — not only did I see her, but rather I heard her.
What do I mean? CNN’s routine coverage of a McCain campaign stop in Carson, California showed Palin addressing the public, but not like I was used to. I’ll get to the point — she wasn’t delivering a stump speech.
Yes, a non-stump speech wouldn’t have been such a spectacle at any other campaign event in recent history, but the truth is recent history has never seen Sarah Palin. Although today I will lay off the long saga of Palin herself, I must point out something like this has not only been a rarity in the past few months, but to me shows a turning point in the McCain campaign.
Although I believe that Joe Biden won the Vice Presidential debate, I also will point out that Palin didn’t lose it. She fought, but was taken captive by Biden’s foreign policy credentials and successful soundbite gambles.
But what I think Palin accomplished in the debate gave her more long term firepower than any single thing she has done as running mate for John McCain (and sorry for the bluntness) — she is now no longer a joke.
If you asked strategists from both the right an the left on the morning of the VP debate, there would be no disputing from them across the board that Sarah Palin has been in the public’s eye a PR ploy. Whether that is what the McCain campaign intended to accomplish is another analysis in itself, but my blunt point here is that the Vice Presidential debate simply changed the way people thought of Palin.
She didn’t have any coupe-de-grace moments, she didn’t gaffe, and she certainly didn’t win, but Palin kept up. And in doing that she passed a certain point of public status — from more of a joke and PR stunt to a vice presidential candidate. This will admittedly not change opinions on her policies, especially mine, but as pointed out in a rather comic tone by one of my friends, “Palin achieved the expectations of stringing together multiple coherent and complete sentences.”
Although that comment wasn’t exactly correct, it was essentially in the right direction. Palin’s expectations were in fact incredibly low, and because she exceeded them in such a national stage, my guess is that Palin became a valid political figure to many people.
So what does that have to do with Palin not delivering a stump speech? In truth, a lot.
In more of a bold statement, because of Palin’s renewed status, she has essentially set herself into the position to carefully open herself up to the MSM and public alike. My point here is that because of her partial success in the debate, Palin was either herself motivated or given the green light by the McCain campaign to open herself up to the press.
And this of course temps the question: what would have happened if Palin had gaffed and knocked herself out of the debate?
In my opinion the McCain campaign would be very hard pressed to do virtually anything in that situation. They would face a press fire if they didn’t bring Palin to an event, but would also face a brutal media wall if they let her speak.
So I’ll let the commentators have a say at this.
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.
September 28, 2008
Politics played center stage in the United States on Friday night, once again occupying the front page of press outlets everywhere, and hitting hard in the blogosphere. But in plain words: we won’t see anything until we see the Vice Presidential debate.
And this is essentially because of Barack Obama and John McCain. After a debate of their own that was close enough to produce mixed feelings along the left and right press, both senators have simply set the grand stage up for the rest of their respective tickets.
But what I really am yearning to see is Sarah Palin.
Because for the first time, I believe that she is under pressure. Since her “blindside the press” entrance into the national stage, I have been fascinated by her stardom that has caused a wildfire inside the media. But most prominently, I have been in awe of her difficulty to interview.
And this raises a great point that has gone unnoticed — Sarah Palin’s vice presidential debate could very easily end in a complete disaster for the Republican party, mostly because no one knows what to expect from her, including me. Why? She has avoided the press, only occurring in three formal interviews, which is a sharp contrast to her debate opponent: Joe Biden has appeared in nearly one hundred.
But what I do know is that what we have seen from her rare appearances is that she is not very good at thinking on her feet. There is no disputing from either party that (I’m not about to get partisan) that she has fumbled in all of her interviews, sticking with her proven false points. But there are two very large differences from an MSM interview and a debate — one being that it is for much higher stakes.
The other, (which as a democrat I must admit I am happy about) is the fact that she is debating Joe Biden. What I mean by this is that Biden is essentially the worst person she could dream to face — someone who (unlike Obama), will ruthlessly exploit her lies and attack with “brutally honest remarks” (CNN). And this is not just because he has this type of political strategy, but he can afford to.
Why? I believe that if Joe Biden successfully makes Sarah Palin look like a mayor again on national television, the McCain camp’s “cheater” and “darkhorse” cries will be overshadowed by Palin’s backlash.
And if he doesn’t succeed? I think that Biden will at least be able to recognize that his tactic is not working as he might have wanted, and go back to the subject where he can win — politics.