Friday Talking Points [53] -- Why McCain Is Losing, And Why Democrats Shouldn't Say So

[ Posted Friday, October 24th, 2008 – 16:21 UTC ]

John McCain is losing the race for the White House. Now, this doesn't mean he has already lost it -- we've still got to go vote, after all. I'll cover that aspect in the Talking Points section, but anyone looking at the polls or an electoral map these days would be hard-pressed to come to any other conclusion than: McCain is losing. The question that will obsess many in the media post-election will be: Why? So I'd like to offer my read of why McCain is losing. Call it a pre-mortem. Or maybe that should be pre-post-mortem, I'm not sure.

But what I am sure of is being able to identify the disastrous decisions McCain and his campaign have made (so far... we still have 11 days to go...). I've thought about this for a while now, but didn't want to publish it until I was sure it was too late for the McCain campaign to somehow fix any of these mistakes.

But I feel we've now come to that point, so I've identified the following seven major reasons that McCain may get swamped on Election Night, which I share now to see how many of them become media themes in about two weeks.

[This will make for a longer-than-usual intro here, so I promise the other parts of the column will be brief to make up for it.]


The Karl Rove team

The first disastrous decision McCain made happened a few months ago. He hired two acolytes of Karl Rove to take over his campaign, Steve Schmidt in particular. It's easy to remember the point in time when these two took over -- in three words: Paris Hilton ad (which came out almost immediately after they took charge). These guys thought they knew how to use the patented Rovian™ campaign playbook to easily defeat that lightweight with the funny name on the other side. This single action led to further disaster, as evidenced by the next two (and possibly three) items here.


Shutting out the media

Almost the first thing the Rovians did was to cut off almost all access to the campaign by the national media. Up until this point, McCain famously befriended media types, letting them ride on the Straight Talk Express bus with him and chat with him for hours, on the record. It got to the point where reporters were actually running out of questions to ask, because these sessions were so lengthy. This led to media bias for McCain, as I documented back in FTP [36] (and was roundly criticized for by some). But suddenly, the chummy chats with the ink-stained wretches halted. Press conferences became rare. Local media was always favored over national media. They even kicked a prominent national reporter off the campaign plane because they didn't like his coverage -- an act of sacrilege in the world of journalism. The Straight Talk Express became the No Talk Express.

And the media reacted. They started actually reporting the negative things about McCain's campaign (like his almost-daily gaffes), instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt and ignoring such (as they largely had been doing up to this point). Whenever they did actually get a scrap of access to McCain, the questions got a lot tougher. This has been a cumulative effect over the last few months, but (on all but the biased right-wing media) it had a definite effect overall in the coverage. Reporters didn't start viciously attacking McCain, but they did start to actually critically report on his campaign.


Tactics versus strategy

McCain, in the first debate (I believe, could have been the second), tried to score a point off Obama by telling him he didn't understand the difference between tactics and strategy. He was speaking militarily (about... you guessed it... the "surge"), where "tactics" and "strategy" have precise and different meanings. But his entire general election campaign has proven that he himself does not know the difference. For those of you who (like me) haven't gone to West Point or Annapolis, let me be clear: tactics are small-bore battlefield plans and actions; while strategy is the "big picture" campaign for winning. D-Day was a tactic, for instance, while retaking France was a strategy.

But the Rovians' advice meant continually missing the forest, while focusing in on tree after tree. In "The World According To Rove," a political campaign is all about what is called "winning the news cycle." Which means that each and every day, you've got to get out there with some gimmick or some outrageous statement or stunt -- that is media-friendly -- and you will "win" that day's news, because your video will get played more prominently than your opponent's.

Now, lest we forget, there were some spectacular tactical victories during the last few months from McCain. But even the best of these, when viewed strategically, fell flat. And if you asked Republicans today what the overall "theme" of the McCain campaign is, they would scratch their heads and offer up whatever the latest tactic has been ("Um... McCain hates Bill Ayers?"). Because there has been no McCain theme to speak of. Which leads us to the biggest tactical triumph of them all....


The Palin pick

Sarah Palin's ascension to vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party is a tale that still hasn't been fully told. The New Yorker recently ran a story which suggests that at the center of that pick was, once again, the Rovians. But however it happened, it remains the prime example of a brilliant tactic that may have actually been the biggest strategic reason why McCain is losing. Partly because the McCain campaign quite obviously didn't vet her well enough, but also due to the fact that McCain has run a campaign that is entirely backwards from normal. The conventional campaign wisdom is to run to your base in the primaries, and run to the center in the general election. McCain did the opposite. He ran as an aisle-reaching-across centrist to get his party's nomination, and then (with the Palin pick) ran hard to the right, in an obvious effort to excite his base. Because the Rovian strategy has always been: turn out the base, and pull in just enough independents to win.

For a while, it seemed to be working. Of course, this was also during the Republicans' convention week, so it was hard to separate out the normal convention bounce in the polls from what was going on with Palin. The media focused on the fact that crowds were actually showing up at McCain rallies once again, in impressively large numbers. The base was delighted with Palin. They were downright enthusiastic, something McCain had never quite managed on his own.

But strategically, it started falling apart almost immediately. After marveling at the crowd size for a few days, something became painfully obvious -- Palin was merely repeating her convention speech over and over again, with very few changes. Sure, it had been a great speech (if you're a Republican, that is) at the convention, but after a week or so it was wearing a little thin. And if John McCain had shut the door on the media regarding his interviews; when it came to keeping Palin away from the media, he not only shut the door, he barred it, locked the keep, lowered the portcullis, raised the drawbridge, released the moat monster, and started boiling oil on the parapets.

This lack of access caused howls in the media. Finally, McCain relented and she did one softball interview on Fox News (what a surprise!), and then selected Katie Couric for her first "real" interview, likely assuming Katie was going to give a lightweight interview. This was a tactical error. Katie's interviews of Palin have been the best journalism on the entire campaign, because she gave Palin enough rope to hang herself, figuratively. And that's when Palin (and McCain) lost the demographics which will decide this election: moderates and women. It became hard for Republicans to aver with a straight face that Sarah Palin could possibly be president, should something happen to McCain.


Throwing his own theme under the bus

There's a secondary reason why Palin's pick may have doomed the McCain campaign. Because they used to have a strategy, and they used to have a theme. It was: "McCain is experienced, Obama is a lightweight." It was, it should be noted, the same theme Hillary Clinton tried. But Hillary, despite doing better than expected later in the game, wound up losing to Obama. So the decision must have been made to change the theme entirely. The problem was, there was no new theme to take its place.

For something like four or five months (after McCain knew he would be the nominee), McCain had been hammering home that McCain equaled experience, while Obama equaled risky, untried, dangerous newness. Republican voters had heard this message for months, and even independent voters were listening. Then McCain picked Palin. Which, in one fell swoop, absolutely destroyed his own campaign's theme. Because, "executive experience" aside, if you could seriously see Sarah Palin in the Oval Office, then it was pretty hard to say that Obama was too much of a lightweight.

Again, if they had immediately replaced this theme with another storyline, and then stuck to it they might have been able to pull it off. But by undermining McCain's own strongest argument with his vice presidential pick, and then never settling on a new theme, he may have put the race out of reach.


Old news

This is just a minor thing, so I'll get it out of the way before I get to the biggest reason McCain is losing. McCain, when speaking (especially when ad-libbing, which he loves to do), keeps reinforcing his own age over and over again, and he doesn't even realize he's doing it. Every cultural reference, for instance, comes from the 1970s or before. Except maybe the required genuflection before Saint Ronald of Reagan, which is only 20 years old. But almost every reference he comes up with to illustrate a point in a town meeting is anywhere from two decades old to ancient. This is a subtle thing, but just points out to viewers over and over again that he doesn't really represent the future, but rather a mistily-remembered past. And when you are a 72-year-old candidate, this isn't really helpful.


Black Wednesday

One Wednesday, a few weeks back, John McCain hit the trifecta in the Campaign Idiocy sweepstakes, which may ultimately deny him the White House. The financial crisis was unfolding, and John McCain announced he was (1) "suspending his campaign," (2) pulling out of the first debate with Obama unless the bailout bill had passed by Friday, and (3) cancelling his appearance on David Letterman's show.

I'm still not sure what order to put those in, in terms of importance. And no, that's not a joke. Now, at the time, it probably sounded like a real good idea to the McCain camp. John McCain, putting "country first," rushes back to Washington to knock some heads together and get something done -- by reaching across the aisle and putting the American people first.

The only problem was, it didn't quite turn out that way. First, Dave Letterman found out that when McCain had phoned him only an hour or so before taping to tell him he was rushing back to Washington, what McCain really meant was "rushing back to Washington... sometime tomorrow." Dave was insulted, and gave one of the most scathing performances I have ever seen a late night comedy host give. But it didn't end there. Because later in the show, while interviewing Keith Olbermann -- who, incidentally, filled in as Dave's guest by blowing off Craig Ferguson, who really lit into McCain an hour later -- Dave's folks found the CBS news feed of Katie Couric interviewing McCain while Dave's show was still being taped. They ran a few segments of the live feed, while Dave yelled at the image on the screen. Keith Olbermann was actually the calm one during the interview, and the one trying to make jokes instead of ranting.

That was on the first night. In the next few days, it came out that McCain was doing nothing but grandstanding. First off, the people blocking the legislation weren't even in his house of Congress, and secondly, they were in his own party. And McCain, after saying he didn't want to "phone it in," wound up doing exactly that -- from across the Potomac River, over in Virginia, where his campaign headquarters are located. McCain looked pathetic during the entire exercise.

And then he meekly ended this string of embarrassments by announcing that he would, after all, attend the first debate.

David Letterman, it is worth noting, spent the next three or four weeks mercilessly attacking McCain, every single night. McCain finally did do a "mea culpa" appearance, but the damage had been done. McCain looked erratic throughout the entire Black Wednesday episode, thrashing around like a loose cannon rolling around a warship. And that's when Obama's poll numbers began to climb. They haven't stopped climbing since.


So, sorry for taking up so much time here analyzing McCain's campaign, but since there will be no Friday Talking Points column next week (sorry about that, it will be pre-empted by our annual Hallowe'en column, due to the vagaries of the calendar), I had to get it out before the actual election.

But since it took so long, let's quickly hand out the awards, and then get to cautioning Democrats not to appear too cocky before Election Day.


Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

There was much to be impressed with in the Democratic world last week. The week started off with Barack Obama announcing he had raised $150,000,000 in just one month. That's not just impressive, it is stunning, since it almost triples the record he had set earlier. All those talking heads who warned of dire consequences if Obama broke his pledge to use public financing (Obama, quite rightly, chose winning over keeping his pledge) should now be eating a heaping plate of crow.

And then there were the thousands of people who donated to Democratic candidate Elwyn Tinklenberg, after the Republican incumbent in a House seat in Minnesota went on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" and apparently called for a return to McCarthyism. Over one million dollars (an absolute fortune in a House race) poured in within hours to Tinklenberg -- from all over the country -- and now the polls have actually swung to the Democrat. I've long been an advocate of making officeholders pay for stupid remarks in precisely this fashion, so I heartily salute each and every donor who sent money in.

But the real, hands-down winner of this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award is none other than Tina Fey. I have to admit, I'm not 100% sure she's a Democrat, as I've never heard her publicly say so, but I'm about 99% sure and that's good enough for me. Tina Fey has absolutely eviscerated Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live" for the past month, including last week's installment with Palin appearing live herself. I still say when people look back at this election, the memorable Palin line will be one she never actually said -- Tina Fey's "I can see Russia from my house!"

It should be noted that this is above and beyond the call of duty for Fey. She's not even an SNL cast member anymore, and has her own sitcom, "30 Rock." So it's not like she had to do it or anything. But because she stepped up to the plate, gave SNL its best ratings in a decade, and gave people a real reason to watch the show again, she has earned her Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. She brought funny back to SNL, and she also brought back something that's been missing from the show for even longer -- relevance.

Plus, before Sarah Palin even entered the picture, Tina Fey made glasses sexy again for women. OK, that has nothing to do with the award, but I just had to say that. Ahem. In any case, well done Tina Fey!

[You can try to congratulate Tina Fey on the "30 Rock" website, as there's an"Ask Tina" page, but I couldn't figure out how to actually ask her a question from it. Anyway, if you've got a better link to let her know you appreciate her efforts, let me know and I'll post it here.]


Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

There wasn't a lot to choose from for the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award this week, I have to say. Which is good news.

I mean, I cringed when I heard what Joe Biden had said recently about guaranteeing the world will test Obama in the first six months, but it didn't really rise to the level of disappointing. Likewise, my reaction to the news that Attorney General Mukasey had been subpoenaed by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy was: Too little, too late! If he had really pushed Bush's Justice Department, then there would be multiple cases in front of federal judges right now, doing battle over weighty separation-of-powers issues. But because Leahy has allowed the White House to endlessly stall, they have successfully run out the clock. So, while in a normal week (say, a year and a half ago, or even nine months ago), this would have won him a MIDOTW, this week I actually considered his actions for a MDDOTW award.

But, in the end, it just didn't qualify. So, I'm happy to report that, for the first time in three months, we will not be giving out this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week because nobody was disappointing enough to earn it.


Friday Talking Points

Volume 53 (10/24/08)

While the polls look good, and it's always fun to see headlines like "Blame game: GOP forms circular firing squad" (from Politico), this week's Talking Points are a warning to Democrats everywhere who might appear on television any time from now until the polls close on Election Day. Because while Democrats are undoubtedly getting more and more gleeful as the election draws nigh, there is always the danger of appearing too complacent. Bragging, in other words.

We don't need any of that right now. There will be plenty of time to celebrate after the votes have been counted. Don't jump the gun, in other words, keep the corks in the champagne for now, and don't even give off the appearance of smugness or complacency -- because we don't want to screw things up at the last minute. There are millions of Democratic voters out there who are absolutely terrified that this one's going to get stolen, too. And the only way to defeat these fears is to remind everyone that they still need to go vote. It ain't over yet. Strangely (since I have sneered at the media for doing so), I have to say that the best way to assure a good outcome in the election is for Democrats to keep up the pressure and convince everyone that the election is really, really close, even though it may not turn out to be.

Voters want to know their votes matter, and close races motivate them to actually get to the polls on Election Day. So, here are this week's taking points, which are all short and sweet.


   Down to the wire

Don't say: "this race is over."

Instead, say: "I expect to be up quite late on Election Day, as I think this race will truly come down to the wire."


   October Surprise

Don't say: "Well, I guess there was no October Surprise this year."

Instead say: "There are X days left until the election, and I wouldn't put it past the Republicans to come up with an October... or even November... Surprise."


   Don't proclaim victory in any state

Don't say: "Barack Obama is going to easily win in Pennsylvania." (or Virginia, or Missouri, or wherever...)

Instead say: "I don't trust the polls, I think the race will be very, very close in Ohio." (or New Hampshire, or Colorado, or wherever...)


   The Bradley Effect

Don't say: "The Bradley Effect is overblown in the first place, and that was 26 years ago, so I don't think we'll see it this time around."

Instead say: "Since this is the first presidential election with a black man running, it is impossible to say what sort of Bradley Effect there will be. It could be quite large, which is why every state is going to count this year."


   The youth vote

One of the funniest lines in the campaign was written during the primary season, when Barack started beating Hillary and the media noticed the amount of young people at the polls. I've forgotten who wrote it, but it went something like this: "It's ironic that the Baby Boomers gained the right to vote for 18 year-olds, and the first time they actually show up to vote it is to vote against the Baby Boomer in the race, in favor of someone closer to their own age."

So, don't say: "We think the youth turnout is going to be enormous on Election Day, far better than anyone expects."

Instead say: "The youth vote has been counted on for the last thirty or forty years, and it has never shown up in numbers to make a difference on Election Day. While we urge young people to go out and make their voices heard at the polls, I just hope enough of them actually make the effort this year."


   The YouTube Factor

Don't say: "All this nonsense about voter fraud and dirty tricks on Election Day probably won't make much of a difference in the end."

Instead say: "We urge every single voter to be vigilant when voting. If they see any irregularities, or even anything that makes them suspicious in the slightest, we urge them to take out a cell-phone camera and video it for the world to see. The whole world will be watching this election, and that includes every single voter. Anyone who has the intent of causing trouble at the polls should be forewarned that they will not get away with it because voters will be watching them like a hawk."

[Public Service Announcement: PBS and YouTube have teamed up for a "Video Your Vote" collaboration which I wrote about this Monday. There are also other groups doing the same thing -- providing instant access for your video directly to the news media itself. Take your cell phone with you to the polls! Thank you. We now rejoin our regularly-scheduled column, already in progress...]


   New Hampshire, New Hampshire, New Hampshire

Don't say: "Well, the polls are looking like Obama's going to win around 390 electoral votes."

Instead say: "Remember when we all thought Obama was going to beat Hillary Clinton in the new Hampshire primary because every single poll told us that's what was going to happen? Barack himself has said it perfectly -- for anyone trusting in the polls that thinks they don't have to vote, here are two words that show you why you have to go out and vote: New Hampshire."


[Program Note: As mentioned, next week FTP will go on hiatus for our annual Hallowe'en column, which offers up chilling and terrifying nightmare scenarios to cause both Democrats and Republicans to go shrieking into the night. Don't miss it! FTP will resume the following Friday, 11/7/08.]


Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground

Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post


-- Chris Weigant


45 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [53] -- Why McCain Is Losing, And Why Democrats Shouldn't Say So”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    But however it happened, it remains the prime example of a brilliant tactic that may have actually been the biggest strategic reason why McCain is losing.

    Ever read a Lester Del Rey book called, THE INFINITE WORLDS OF MAYBES?? A good read if your about 12-16 yrs old.. At least it was when *I* was 12-16 yrs old. Not so sure about these days..

    Anyways, there's a line in there that pertains to what you posted above... I doubt I can find the exact quote from GOOGLE, so I won't even try... So, I'll have to do it from remembery.. :D

    "Yea, it was a stupid move. But only because it failed. If it had worked, it would have been a brilliant move.. That's how these things work."

    If McCain does win this (doubtful to be sure) you KNOW the pundits will be screaming what a BRILLIANT move the Palin pick was. If it fails (which is likely) then the pundits will be screaming what a bonehead move it was...

    In short, I guess what I am saying in my roundabout way is that I agree with you. :D If it works, it was brilliant.. If it doesn't, it was a bonehead move...

    But the real, hands-down winner of this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award is none other than Tina Fey.

    Now, here I have to cry foul...

    In effect, you are giving an award to someone whose SOLE accomplishment is making fun of another human being...

    Not very liberal of you at all, CW!! :D

    As to addressing your Talking Points. It's no longer fun to do so since we agree on most everything regarding Obama v McCain... :^/


    Crossposted to Huffington Post

  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    No, as I said, it's also because her glasses are so cute.

    heh heh.


  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:


    Due to pgoody pointing out the obvious over on HuffPost, I have to retroactively award the MDDOTW to Jack Murtha, for calling his constituents racists this week. Missed it completely, sorry about that.


  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    What, exactly, did Joe Biden say that made you cringe?

  5. [5] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    Between Palin and Black Wednesday, McCain jumped the shark. His debate performances will be remembered for blinking, lack of eye contact, "that one," and the jaw-hanging moment when he confused Obama's health plan with Hillary's. His candidacy has completely unraveled since the RNC.

    As for the TPs: it's important for Democrats to keep a lid on expectations, but confidence is important. As you said this week, the best case scenario for McCain is an Obama win -- so the TPs ought to reflect that: "I think Obama can take the Electoral College by a few votes." This is all the more important because a BIG victory will carry that much more of a mandate.

  6. [6] 
    Benevolent_Sociopath wrote:


    Your blather about "tactics" vs. "strategy" is all wrong,wrong,wrong,

    October surprise scenario:


    Sarah Palin will be Playboy magazines November Playmate of the month.


    John McCain wins by a landslide.


    Obama is forgotten as nothing but a modified Pepsi logo.

    Saturday night live via Youtube continues it's stranglehold on being the premier intermediary between the political class and people who like to stare into a screen with a beer after work.

    Joe the plumber gets his own reality political TV show called "for the common folks" , which is completely fake , but is strategically necessary to keep people from thinking about how fake shit like Joe the plumber all really is.

    Disneyland merges with Google.

    The world is secure.

  7. [7] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Elizabeth -

    What Biden did was what I (and others, certainly can't claim I made this term up) would call a "Washington gaffe," which is defined as: stating a bald truth instead of the usual partisan spin. In other words, he didn't really say anything disappointing per se, but instead the timing of it wasn't great. That's what made me cringe. But at this point, I really don't see it doing their ticket any damage at all.

    I actually saw a talking head (may have been on Gwen Ifill's Washington Week) say today "Biden has been somewhat of a surprise becuase there just haven't been that many gaffes from him." Grudging respect is still respect, I remind you.

    Osborne Ink -

    Yeah, but Black Wednesday (I really hope a whole bunch of people pick that term up, I seem to have failed miserably with the meme of "moose poop") happened before the first debate. So I still stand by my assertation that it was THE jump-the-shark moment.

    Speaking of which, I hear Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) has a funny pro-Obama video out, gotta check that out this weekend...

    But I do hear you, and I think more than anything else what will win the election for Obama was his three debate performances, which were almost flawless.

    And I also agree that your "he might win by a few electoral votes" is about right. Confidence is fine. Over-confidence is not.

    Benevolent Sociopath -

    BWAH-hah-ha! That is the funniest thing I've read in a long while!! Thanks for a much-needed laugh at the end of this marathon campaign season. I've long said (much to the wife's annoyance) every time I see some flash-in-the-pan pop star "well, we'll see her in Playboy in about ten years..." But I never connected it with Sarah Palin, before now.

    (sniff... wiping eyes from too much laughter...) Thanks again, that was priceless. I would strongly suggest you checking in next Friday for the Hallowe'en column, I think you'll enjoy it...


  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I must vehemently disagree with your choice for MIDOTW. That award should have been reserved for the Democratic nominee for the VPOTUS who demonstrated this week what being a patriot is all about. Here is my short version of the supporting facts.

    (And, if you hadn’t mentioned that Senator Biden’s remarks made you cringe, or that it was really all just about his bad “timing” or that some slightly better than average journalist thinks Biden has been surprisingly short on gaffes - I’ll be sure to let you know when any journalist shows anything that approaches grudging respect for Biden ...David Brooks and Christopher Hitchens have come the closest, to date - then you wouldn’t be about to get both barrels!

    Senator Biden’s 17-minute address to an influential group of Obama donors and supporters - respected leaders in their own right with influence in their respective communities - has been quoted wholly out of context. Biden’s critics have so mangled his words and perverted their meaning as to make the gist of his remarks completely unrecognizable.

    These critics have failed miserably in their analyses on a number of levels. They fail to understand the underlying crux of the matter that was so forcefully and eloquently outlined by Senator Biden, despite the fact that he was bang on point, as per usual.

    They fail to understand that Senator Biden is the leader among Democrats - and Republicans, for that matter - on issues related to foreign policy and national security and that his impeccable and unimpeachable credentials are second to none...or that he has served with seven Presidents - up close and personal - and has worked with world leaders and parliamentarians for the better part of the last 35 years, earning their respect and admiration.

    Most importantly, the critics fail to understand that Senator Biden is NOT gaffe-prone. This is a media-conceived and driven national myth of epic proportions about Joe Biden that has been gleefully taken up - hook, line and sinker - by a very, very, very dangerously ill-informed electorate.

    In addition to all of that, the critics have failed to report what Senator Biden actually said - words and context matter and, so far, the critics have rarely reported the comments in question accurately or completely.

    Senator Biden has a long history of studying how the international community - friend and foe, alike - respond to new American leaders. He was pretty much guaranteeing that there would be an international crisis of some sort, emanating from any number of places around the globe (including some hot spots), within the first six months of an Obama/Biden administration - of ANY administration, to be sure, but...remember the audience!

    He told the community leaders - Obama donors and supporters - that the next President is going to inherit an extremely difficult set of challenges and a monumental mess on the scale of magnitude comparable to the “Augean stables”, no less! (I’m guessing that there are few students of the classics or fans of Hercules, for that matter, among the critics) And, tough decisions are going to have to be made - decisions that may not readily appear to them to be either the right decisions or very popular. In fact, Senator Biden suggested to them that the right and sound decisions would probably not be popular. He was, in essence, urging and pleading with the audience to understand this and to not only stand with Barack but to be vocal and public in their support for him during those critical and early days of an Obama/Biden administration when the iron hits the fire.

    The message delivered by Senator Biden was both profound and powerful and, in the final analysis, a remarkable validation of Barack Obama and of the exceptional President that he would be. In other words, Senator Biden has your back, Barack!

    There are many differences between the Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin tickets but one of the most important is that Barack Obama has a loyal and wise defender and protector who has his back at every turn. Sadly, I am not convinced that the candidate himself fully realizes just how wise and faithful an ally and advisor he has in Joe Biden.

    It is obvious, from the barrage of their misguided reporting and analyses, that Biden’s critics, throughout the media/blogosphere and from within the Democratic party, have not even bothered to listen to his full remarks. But, truth be known, they wouldn’t have understood them anyway. They’re not smart enough...not by a long shot.

    And, of course, the GOP has jumped all over this. But, one has to ask why has that been allowed to happen? I would suggest the reason rests with an incompetent and inept media - all parts of it - which has lead directly to a very dangerously ill-informed electorate. And, here's what I don't get...Senator Biden's remarks are not difficult to understand...unless people are desperately looking for something - anything - to denigrate one of America's greatest statesmen. And, frankly, I don't get that, either.

    Here is the audio link - courtesy of our friends at FOX News of the entire 17-minute address...and you just gotta love the irony of that! You have to scroll down to the last sentence and click on the one-word link to hear the speech in its entirely. The quality of the sound is not great but it’s good enough.

    By the way, FTP (53rd Ed.) was still worth the wait! You should be considering putting them all into book form as a collector’s edition of the 2008 campaign, in all of its glory. I’ll go ahead and place my order now, thank-you very much!

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    ...oops...this is going to need some serious editing...but, anything worth saying is worth saying twice, I always say...

  10. [10] 
    kevinem2 wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller- I'm sorry if I should know this from your previous posts, but what is your status, citizenship-wise? I know you are a passionate Biden/Obama supporter living in Ontario, but are you an American with the right to cast an absentee ballot living in Canada; or just a concerned Canadian political junkie like me? If you are Canadian and old enough, do you remember our Rhino party? A good friend of mine ran for a federal seat under their banner about 30 years ago.
    The reason I bring this up is that the Republican "campaign" has become so surreal that I think a U.S. version of our old Rhino party would make more sense than what the Repubs are excreting. :)

  11. [11] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Elizabeth -

    Editing done.

    kevinem2 -

    It's a shame we're not in Britain, then we could all join the Monster Raving Loonie Party. Their last political platform included solving England's bad weather by towing the island to the Caribbean. Why doesn't America have a bold party like that?!?



  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    Why doesn't America have a bold party like that?!?

    My chosen party would be the Time Travel Party..

    We go back in time and fix problems before they even exist!! :D


  13. [13] 
    kevinem2 wrote:

    Chris- Thanks for reminding me of the Monster Raving Loony Party. Their name was on the tip of my tongue while I was writing about the Rhinos. Chris and Michale- If by some remote chance you haven't seen the Monty Python skit Upper Class Twit of the Year (From their first movie, And Now For Something Completely Different...), try and find it ASAP. Sorry I'm too much of a computer Luddite to find it and post links...

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:


    Here ya go.. :D

    I can't view it right now, but there it is for ya and whoever else wants it.


  15. [15] 
    kevinem2 wrote:

    For what little it is worth...where I'm coming from...1969- Hear Beatles White Album for first time and think what nonsense it is...1970- catch Monty Python on CBC and waste next six months trying to talk friends into it (It was on Thurs. nights at 10 PM). 1970-71- Thanks to brilliant friend, get turned on to Rolling Stone magazine and early Garry Trudeau/Doonesbury. 1971-73- Thanks to Rolling Stone, introduced to Hunter Thompson, Randy Newman (if you don't know him, buy, download, or whatever the current practice is; his Sail Away album;), Blue Oyster Cult (way before they had hit records), and American politics (thanks to the late HST). Read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and HST's book on the Hell's Angels. (He was the best American writer of my lifetime before he got fried on coke..which reminds me, if you ever get the chance to read Snowblind, by Steven Sabbag, please do so- it will literally blow your mind..)
    Anyhew, to continue spouting through my blow-hole...Back to 1971- meet first girlfriend, relisten to White Album and realize it was genius (took me long enough). 1971-73- introduced by friends much more intelligent than I to Mike Royko and Russell Baker (My writing idols to this day).
    1973-present: All downhill. Crap.
    I so much enjoy the writer's to this takes me back to the time when I had a brain.

  16. [16] 
    kevinem2 wrote:

    Michale- thanks so much for the link..I'd never seen it in color before. (Yes, I'm that old!).

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hey Chris! (aka Dear editor)

    Re.: Editing done. (Oh, my...)

    Thanks for cleaning that mess up a bit but I want you to know that there was quite a lot more that needed to be done...and a lot more to be said.

    You see, it was very early in the morning...too early in the morning...I was rushing to get to work on time AND I was upset...never a good combination for me when posting my thoughts, to say the very least...I couldn’t believe you put ‘Biden’ and ‘gaffe(s)’ in the same sentence - twice! - and, then...I accidentally hit the ‘comment’ button! I was trying to use another post and make changes and add things - nice, complimentary things!...but it was too late - there’s no edit function - and there was no time, either!

    I never hit the comment button on the first draft - too many things to apologize for afterward. :(

    Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

    Are we still friends?


  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Citizenship-wise, my status is that I’m hoping and praying we’ll become the 51st state, and soon, so I can move to the 1st, if not the 50th! Seriously, how on earth did you know that I live in Ontario? And, I’m not an American...just a Canadian in love with the idea and promise of America...sounds pretty corny, but it’s the unvarnished truth. I’m a cockeyed optimist, at heart.

    I’ve had a keen interest in US politics for many years (though I refuse to comment on the existence of the Rhino party except to say that it sounds vaguely - very vaguely - familiar), particularly of the foreign policy kind. And, so...I guess it’s not too surprising that I would eventually find my way to the world according to Biden, the quintessential US foreign policy expert.

    You’re right about the Republican “campaign” - heck, I would go so far as to say that the entire presidential primary and election campaign of both parties has been pretty surreal, from the get-go! Consequently, all convention wisdom might as well be thrown out the window and nothing should surprise us about what happens on November 4th - it may make us cry, but it shouldn’t surprise us.

  19. [19] 
    kevinem2 wrote:

    Elizabeth- I guessed your "Ontarioness" a few months ago after your explanation to a fellow Weiganite about why you weren't down in the states banging the drum for your Biden god. (I like him too, especially after his son's convention speech about "we" marrying our mother... I'd vote for the son for anything...) Anyhew, love your politics and sense of humor. (I don't know about you, but I try to use American spelling out of respect for what I assume are the majority of Chris's fans.).

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Spelling - American or Canadian?

    I had to laugh out loud at that one! That can be one of the great dilemmas of the blogosphere. For me, it all depends on the word and the conversation at hand...and whether or not I'm OK with looking like I can't spell!...respect for fellow 'Weiganites'?...well, there's that, too. :)

  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:


    Michale- thanks so much for the link..

    De nada... My pleasure...

    I'd never seen it in color before. (Yes, I'm that old!).


    While I am young enough to remember color TV as a child, I AM old enough to also remember that there were plenty of B/W shows still when I was a kid.

    Anyone remember seeing GILLIGAN'S ISLAND in B/W!?? :D


  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    Playing Devil's Advocate here.. (as I am wont) to do..

    What is everybody's opinion on what the reaction would be if McCain actually won the election.

    Assuming nothing major happens between now and Nov 4 and McCain wins..

    My prediction is that this country would be ripped apart along racial & political lines that would make the Watts riots look like a picnic by comparison..

    I simply cannot conceive of a scenario where the Left would simply accept such an outcome, even if there was ZERO evidence of fraud or cheating...


  23. [23] 
    kevinem2 wrote:

    Michale- For me, immediate plunge into delirium tremens...(Sp.?). Elizabeth, I actually prefer the simpler American spelling most of the time. Our extra "u"s can get confusing. As for the Monty Python skit, the show was in black and white on our color (chortle) TV, and so was the movie when I first saw it in 1973 in Edinburgh.

  24. [24] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Many think a McCain win would be the end of the world, but honestly, part of me would like to see it. Why? Because Republicans still seem in denial about their free-market philosophy and I think a McCain presidency might just finally doom neo-conservatism.

    Also, I'm soooo tired of listening to the endless Republican whining about how everything is some elitist liberals fault. I'd like to think if McCain were President we wouldn't hear as much of it.

    (Ok, I'm dreaming. The whining will be there no matter what. I think a McCain win would be a great opportunity for Canada to start charging Americans who want to move there.)

    The Expatriate Liberal Intellectuals Theocracy Escape (ELITE) plan

    p.s. Elizabeth and kevinem2 - I was in Toronto during the Canadian elections and found it fascinating. One Canadian summed it up best. He said, we decide to have an election, it's a month away, everyone looks at the candidates' stands on issues, and then we vote. It doesn't take 2 years!

  25. [25] 
    kevinem2 wrote:

    akadjian- not to mention our actual voting system..paper ballots and never a vote-rigging scandal that I can recall. If I ever had to deal with a Diebold machine, my brain would explode.

  26. [26] 
    Michale wrote:


    That's why I am somewhat non-pulssed at the prospect of an Uber Dem Administration..

    It's a win-win for me. If Democrats actually live up to their braggings, then a little guy like me will be a lot better off..

    If they crash and burn, then the thrill of being able to say "I told ya so" over and over (and over and over again) will be quite enjoyable too. :D

    I have a feeling that Democrats will piss off their base within 6 months by simply being an extension of the Bush Administration. The FISA issue is a perfect precursor of things to come..


  27. [27] 
    kevinem2 wrote:

    Just read a great article about Obama from people he knew growing up, on Huffpo. I REALLY wish I knew someone in my ghost town who could show me how to post links... Also, once again Jason Linkins is hilarious on his Sunday Morning Talking Heads Huffpo post.

  28. [28] 
    Michale wrote:


    I REALLY wish I knew someone in my ghost town who could show me how to post links…

    No problemo..

    At the top of the web browser is the WEB ADDRESS of the page you are on.. Highlight the entire address by clicking and holding the LEFT Mouse Button and dragging it across the web address. Let go of the mouse button and hit CTRL and C at the same time.

    Come into here and, in the posting section, click on where you want to place the link and then hit CTRL V

    That will paste the copied text..

    My apologies if I dumbed it down too much. I don't know your computer skill level so I explained it in as much detail as I could.

    "If you dumb this down anymore, I'm gonna slug you!!!"
    -Lt Col John Shepard, STARGATE:ATLANTIS



  29. [29] 
    kevinem2 wrote:
    Did that work? I think I also just discovered that you can only post one link at a time. I'll hop back and try again for the Obama article.

  30. [30] 
    kevinem2 wrote:
    Thanks Michale...You've given me a new tool to badger my friends in civilization with.

  31. [31] 
    Michale wrote:

    Yea, that worked fine..

    And yea, as a defense against URL Spam, any post with more than one link is held for a human-being check.. Or, in this case, CW... :D yuk yuk yuk


  32. [32] 
    Michale wrote:

    My pleasure.. :D


  33. [33] 
    kevinem2 wrote:

    Chris- Sorry about the Michale/Kevin show. I'll try to restrain myself in the future. Michale- thanks for all your help. I think you were right about us having a lot in common. Elizabeth- Are you from the Hamilton area? I have a passel of relatives from thereabouts. (So ends my Beverly Hillbillie's tribute). Your regular, sane commentary will now resume.

  34. [34] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Wow, you guys have been busy!

    OK, I have to admit I'm a little bummed nobody complimented the snazzy new "VOTE" banner, courtesy of our in-house (but intermittent) cartoonist, CW Cunnighnam. He's also given me a vote cartoon, which will run soon, I promise.

    And nobody mentioned the sentence: "when it came to keeping Palin away from the media, he not only shut the door, he barred it, locked the keep, lowered the portcullis, raised the drawbridge, released the moat monster, and started boiling oil on the parapets."??

    I spent some time with an online dictionary putting that together, and yet no comments? Hrmph.

    OK, gotta drink some caffeine and wake up... slurrrrp... ahhh... that's better.

    Sorry, I'm grumpy when I wake up. (that's why I picked that cat photo...)

    Anyway, let's get on with this.

    Elizabeth -

    Sorry about the Biden hit, but I calls 'em as I sees 'em, and Biden's comments weren't particularly helpful. SNL ripped on him for it, which didn't help, but I really don't see it doing Obama one tiny little bit of damage this late in the race. So no harm, no foul.

    Michale -

    I'd join the time travel party, but I bet there'd be a lot of arguments about who decides what needed to be fixed in the past! Best time travel story ever written (short story), Robert A. Heinlein's "All You Zombies..."

    kevinem2 -

    I'm surprised "Laugh In" wasn't on that list...

    "1973-present: All downhill. Crap."

    Hmmm... I don't know... music didn't completely die until some time in the mid-eighties...

    Actually, if truth be know, I think Mankind was put on the earth to reach the pinnacle of "Toccata and Fugue in D-minor" (JSBach), and that everything since then has pretty much been downhill...


    Elizabeth -

    It'd take a lot more than that to make us not friends! Seriously, editing a comment is pretty easy, and I provide the service to all. I'd hate to tell you how many times I've had to edit Michale when he uses [] instead of angle brackets for html tags... heh heh.

    And I've got to hand it to Canada, they've produced some of the finest comics I've seen in the past 30 years or so... from the whole SNL crowd to Bob and Doug MacKenzie. Take off, eh!

    kevinem2 -

    Wow, that's the first time I've seen a term for my followers (who are legion... well, maybe battalion... OK, a couple of platoons at least...). I'm not sure I like Weiganite, though. Maybe we can have some more suggestions from the peanut gallery? Wieganter? Weigantaholic? Please post some more, folks, and me my wife and the cat will decide which one is best!

    Hey, feel free to stick all those extra "U"s in if you feel the need. I lived in Europe for a while, and got use to it from buying books at WH Smith's and listening to the BBC. Weirdest Britishism I ever heard was when I was half-awake and heard a story on the radio about how Britain was proposing to ban "dummies." That woke me up. "Wow," I thought, "what a great idea!" This was soon followed by "Where are they going to put them all?"

    Heh heh. Took me a while to figure out they were talking about a baby's pacifier. I still stumble over ones that look just too weird ("kerb" instead of "curb", "dual carriageway" and "semi-articulated lorry" etc.), but like I said, there's no spell check here, so feel free!

    Michale -

    I feel you are right about the "Watts look like a picnic" thing. There would be some seriously pissed off people, that's for sure.

    akadjian -

    That's one of the best things the parliamentary system has going for it -- VERY short elections. The thing I admire most about Canadian elections is that there's something like 35 million (about the size of CA), and they HAND COUNT the ballots, and they have the official results in less than 24 hours. For sheer efficiency and quick results, I have got to say that's pretty impressive.

    Michale -

    Well, we partially agree. I don't think it'll be as bad as you paint, though. I think Obama will (intentionally) do something in the first 100 days which will ROYALLY piss off the far left. He will do it to calm down centrists, and prove he's not beholden to anyone. I have no idea what issue he'll pick, but I bet it'll happen.

    But overall, I think an Obama Administration will do the right thing, on average.

    And you're right, if you post two or more links it is held for anti-spam check. But sometimes I turn such duties over to the cat, so watch what you say about "human." Heh heh.

    Well, I don't know if that was "regular, sane commentary," but at least the caffeine cured the grumpiness...

    Thanks to all for writing!


  35. [35] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, that just shows you how not-awake I am. I misspelled my own name.

    That should have been "Weiganter"...


  36. [36] 
    kevinem2 wrote:

    Chris- Thank you from your adoring masses...well, maybe three drunks in a ditch..Seriously, us peons appreciate it when our Weigant-god talks to us in person.:) Sorry if us cretins miss some of your more subtle site improvements...Anyone else notice how the Colbert Report has replaced multi-grain with vote in the opening credits? Lastly. how about Weegees instead of Weiganites? Since I seem to have started this nonsense, I'm flexible.

  37. [37] 
    kevinem2 wrote:

    Geez i'm windy this a.m.- I have this image in my head of McCain/Palin staring at the matchbox hurdle and wondering "what do we do now?".

  38. [38] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    What a relief - I thought I might have become persona non grata around here! Whew...not because of the editing job as I know that’s included with the price of admission. I was worried about the content of the post itself, incomplete as it was with the implication that I was lumping you in with the rest of the moronic world of journalism - but, thankfully, you know better than to think I would ever dream such a thing, much less imply it.

    As for the remarks Biden made to a select group of Obama donors and supporters...I would have to agree that they were not particularly helpful - TO THE MCCAIN CAMPAIGN! Far from doing Obama any damage, Biden’s message was the most powerful and profound validation of the exceptional President that Barack Obama would be that I have heard from anyone at any time throughout this entire campaign...and that includes the candidate’s wife! Funny...I don’t recall anyone reporting on this - the crucial theme of the 17-minute address. Why is that, I wonder?

    Unfortunately, there are precious few in the media/blogosphere, not to mention the wacky world of pundits and strategists of BOTH parties, who are actually capable of understanding anything Joe Biden says - they’re just not smart enough. Senator Biden’s remarks have been quoted incompletely and wholly out of context and the meaning of his words that have been quoted have been so perverted as to make the gist of his remarks completely unrecognizable. I mean, for God’s sake - the point of his message was NOT to say that Barack Obama would be tested. To believe that is to miss the point of this address...ENTIRELY! And the really funny thing is that the media are now wondering out loud why Joe Biden doesn’t talk to them as much anymore! Give me a freakin’ break!

    The SNL piece was, I’ll admit, moderately funny. I even laughed out loud. Of course, that’s just my own coping mechanism so as not to assume the rocking fetal position. But, even the comics didn’t get it.

    Here's what I don't get...Senator Biden's remarks are not difficult to understand...unless people are looking for something - anything - to denigrate one of America's greatest statesmen. And, frankly, I don't get that, either.

  39. [39] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    Chris: In the NYT today, Bill Kristol advises McCain order his entire campaign to stop talking to the press. Considering how well the campaign's media curtain has worked for them, I think this is more excellent advice from a man consistently wrong about everything.

  40. [40] 
    Michale wrote:

    In the NYT today, Bill Kristol advises McCain order his entire campaign to stop talking to the press.

    And ABC News is reporting that Senator Obama hasn't talked to the press in over a month...

    On another note, anyone want to take a shot at condemning this:


  41. [41] 
    Michale wrote:

    There IS some good news out there.. :D

    Falling Gas Prices..

    In my area: St Augustine, FL - $2.39

    In the state of Florida: Summerfield, FL - $2.23

    In the country: Tulsa, OK - $2.13

    Wouldn't it be great to see gas fall below $2!!?? :D

    According to the latest reports, oil could fall to around $48 per barrel...

    I wonder what that translates in price per gallon..


  42. [42] 
    Michale wrote:

    I'm not sure I like Weiganite, though.

    Wouldn't that be 'Weigantite' Although that reminds one of "Hittites"

    Peter Venkman: "Well, okay. I found the name Zuul for you. The name Zuul refers to a demi-god worshipped around 6000 BC by the - what's that word?...

    Dana Barret: "Hittites"

    Peter Venkman: ".....Hittites, the Mesopotamians and the Sumerians..

    Maybe we can have some more suggestions from the peanut gallery? Wieganter? Weigantaholic? Please post some more, folks, and me my wife and the cat will decide which one is best!

    Actually with the hard 'T' at the end, wouldn't Weigantians (Pronounced we-GANT-eee-ans) sound appropriate??

    Sounds like "ATLANTIANS" which would be no small thrill for us Stargate:Atlantis fans... :D

    Although, saying it aloud, I can't help but visualize Dr Evil saying 'hi' to Frau Farbissina...

    "Weigants{sic} iss einen" :D

    Anyways, my choice is WEIGANTIANS... :D


  43. [43] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Actually, my name is pronounced "WHY-gant" so it would be "why-GANT-ee-ans". Minor correction.

    Weigantians actually has kind of a ring to it...


  44. [44] 
    Michale wrote:

    Why "why-GANT-ee-ans"???

    Yuk yuk yuk.... :D


  45. [45] 
    Michale wrote:

    Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Monday that he’s looking forward to one party controlling all aspects of government, despite GOP charges that it would be a disastrous Nov. 4 outcome.

    “Republicans had a chance to rule. They failed miserably. I think it’s time to give the other party a chance,” Dean said on MSNBC.

    Guess what??

    I completely agree with Dean..

    And gods help the Democrats if my life isn't the Utopian paradise they claimed it would be under their rule...


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