Friday, August 29, 2008

Thoughts on the conventions and VP pics.

Like 38 million other people, I spent at least some time watching the Democratic National Convention.

Of course, nothing in the convention dispelled the notion of Obama as The One, and he was appropriately appointed Savior of the Universe in his own Greek Temple. This wasn't lost even on the New York Post (hardly a conservative think tank):

Ouch! And those are the folks that are on his side! Obama gave an adequate speech. Not great, adequate. He has a problem with rhetoric, and with facts. On the rhetoric side, he claims of McCain that "he wouldn't even follow [bin Laden] to the cave where he lives." Nobody believes a word of it. McCain is a proven military hero. Obama spent his youth pointedly avoiding the kind of military experience and personal sacrifice for which John McCain volunteered. Obama has EXACTLY ZERO credibility of any kind on this subject. End of story. On the subject of energy independence, Obama promises total independence from Mid-East oil within ten years. This smacks of complete ignorance. It's easy to promise a chicken in every pot. It's another thing to provide it. Obama has no details at all... he just knows what you'd like to hear, and has no objection to saying it regardless of his actual ability to deliver.

The previous night, Bill Clinton gave a rousing speech. I mean that sincerely... I love listening to Bill give a speech. It's always clear, concise, and superlatively delivered. Almost everything he said was bullshit, of course, but it was supremely articulate bullshit. Here are some examples:

Bill focused closely on economic issues, ignoring entirely the effect on the economy of prosecuting the war on terror. He doesn't think that's a valid issue at all, which is no change from his stance during his own presidency. Of course, it was his presidency that saw the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the bombing of the USS Cole, the disastrous involvement in Somalia and more; all of which weakened the reputation of the United States and set the stage for the attacks of September 11th, 2001. Those attacks were in part, his fault, and his criticisms of Bush's foreign policy have little, if any, validity.

Likewise, regarding the war, Bill Clinton asserts that America is "weakened by too much unilateralism". Yet it has been the courage to do the right thing without waiting for the consensus of the uninvolved and uninterested third parties that has prevented further attacks for the last 7 years; something Bill can't say about any of his own attempts at keeping America safe. His was a presidency where terrorists attacked us again and again and again with impunity. This was while his administration murdered American citizens on Ruby Ridge and in the Waco Massacre. Not the guy to deliver a balanced perspective on security matters. At all.

Bill Clinton further claims that if Obama "cannot convert adversaries into partners, he will stand up to them." The problem with that claim is that Obama cannot discern whether an adversary can be converted to a partner. Indeed, Obama asserts that Iran is "a tiny country" that doesn't pose a threat regardless of their ambitions to nuclear arms. On the other hand, McCain has made the right calls in foreign affairs over and over again. Obama fought against the military surge in Iraq that was urged by McCain, but that surge was incontrovertibly successful, and now Obama would like to take credit for that success (brazenly, but unsuccessfully). McCain warned of the dangers of Russian aggression that would lead to the situation we're currently seeing in Georgia, though this wasn't even on Obama's radar. Unlike McCain, Obama has not the experience or perceptiveness to properly interpret world events.

Bill Clinton described Obama's choice of Joe Biden as a running mate as "hit[ting] it out of the park." Hyperbole at best. Look... Obama had exactly one primary criteria for his running mate; he needed somebody more experienced than himself, who would make voters feel better about electing a noob to the White House. Hardly a difficult task... anybody he could choose would have more experience. And in choosing Biden, Obama's got somebody more experienced than himself; so what's Obama doing at the top of the ticket? The Democrats would have done much better to nominate Hillary for President and Obama for VP so that he could gain the experience necessary for a follow-on run 4 or 8 years from now. Not doing so was a disastrous blunder. I thought it hilarious to hear Obama describe his criteria for a running mate include the need for someone who wouldn't let his ego get in the way. If that's so, then he failed miserably with Biden.

John McCain had a more difficult task in choosing a VP. There's nobody he could choose with more experience, nor did he need to. He needed somebody younger (not difficult), vibrant, who appeals to women and young voters alike. Somebody who would cement the votes of the conservative Right, who were very shaky about supporting McCain due to his maverick tendencies. Someone who was strong-willed, and who stood a good chance of carrying his policies forward beyond his own Presidency, as all programs of real change and worth need time for success. Considering the broadly separated groups he had to appeal to with one choice, it is McCain, and most certainly not Obama, who hit it out of the park.

Palin squarely hits every criteria. As a former mayor and current governor, she's got more executive experience than Obama. Her ethical reforms are unanimously considered to be successful. As a member of the NRA and pro-lifer she appeals to the Right. And she's gracious: tonight on FoxNews Geraldine Ferraro offered her excitement at Palin's candidacy; and noted that Palin's acknowledgement of Ferraro's candidacy was the first time in 24 years that anyone had ever thanked her for her own attempt at cracking the "glass ceiling".

I think that she's such a good choice that Obama's campaign stands a serious risk of forgetting who the Presidential candidates are. It will take every ounce of restraint for them to refrain from attacking Palin's inexperience. They will most likely forget that it's OK for a VP to grow in office; that this should be the case. Should they make this mistake and start comparing Palin to Obama, they will merely highlight Obama's own inexperience; and if they compare Palin to Biden using the argument that the VP is a step away from the Presidency, they once again open the question of why their Presidential nominee - Barack Obama - is the least qualified person on either ticket.

In any event, Sarah Palin was an inspired choice. Witness this: since the announcement of Palin as a running mate, the news coverage on every channel, everywhere, has been all Palin, Palin, Palin. She's completely stolen the show from Obama. One day after Obama's acceptance speech, on what should be a day of the Democratic nominee basking in the glory, the big question is "Obama Who?"

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