Thursday, September 04, 2008


We spent a nice, quiet evening here. Autumn is our sunny time, and we took a walk in the afternoon. While Margaret tried a biofeedback game on her computer, I shot some hoops before twilight. After dinner we watched an episode of "Mad Men" on DVD.

Then I watched the Daily Show but it's a day behind. Some brief channel switching turned up the usual smarminess, but online it was a little different. McSame's speech got panned. Greg Sergeant at TPM predicted that not only won't McSame get a bounce, reaction to his speech "will smother Palin's sizzle like a wet blanket." Ex-Bush speech writer Michael Gerson called it disappointing and tired, and Jeffrey Toobin said it was "shockingly bad."

Republicans crow that they raised $1 million since Palin's speech. Unfortunately, unless that went to the party directly, the McSame campaign can't spend it. They're now on the federal dole.

And by the way, since Palin's speech, the Obama campaign has received ten times as much in donations: $10 million in 24 hours.

Palin is the heir to Bush without the taint. The GOPer convention never identified itself as the Republican party, and they're running on a platform of change--change from the current Republican presidency. That's apparently the strategy. If McSame were more likable, it might even work. Palin will pale eventually, perhaps soon. Obama and Biden are hitting the right notes about this convention on the campaign trail. They just have to make sure that every time they mention McSame, they mention that he's the Republican candidate.

The polls should be fluid for the next week or so. There's always counter-evidence. A CBS poll showed the race tied, though the swing from their last poll was too extreme for it to seem reliable. And there's a poll showing that independents were "reassured" by Palin's speech. Whatever that means. It seems that for any number of reasons this campaign is going to look close for awhile, whether it actually is or not.

The New York Times editorialized: Thursday night, Americans mainly saw the old John McCain...But there were also chilling glimpses of the new John McCain, who questioned the patriotism of his opponents as the “me first, country second” crowd and threw out a list of false claims about Barack Obama’s record, saying, for example, that Mr. Obama opposed nuclear power. There was no mention of immigration reform or global warming, Mr. McCain’s signature issues before he decided to veer right to win the nomination.

There could not have been a starker contrast between Mr. McCain’s night on the stage and the earlier days of the convention, a carnival of partisan rancor. It was not a forum for explaining policies or defining ideals, certainly none ever associated with Mr. McCain.

On Wednesday, the nastiest night of the week, Mr. McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, and other speakers offered punch lines, rather than solutions for this country’s many problems — ridiculing the Washington elite (of which most were solid members) and Barack Obama. “Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America, and he’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights,” Ms. Palin said. Mr. Obama, in reality, wants to give basic human rights to prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, only a handful of whom are Qaeda members, and shield them from torture. So, once upon a time, did Mr. McCain, but there was no mention of that in St. Paul, or of the bill he wrote protecting those prisoners.

Mike Huckabee dismissed Mr. Obama, the first black candidate of any major party, as a mere “symbolic” choice for president.

At the same time, the Republicans tried to co-opt Mr. Obama’s talk of change and paint themselves as the real Americans. It is an ill-fitting suit for the least diverse, most conservative and richest Republican delegates since The Times started tracking such data in 1996. It was, in short, a gathering devoted almost entirely to the culture war refined by Mr. Rove in Mr. Bush’s two campaigns.

On Thursday, Mr. McCain said he would reach out to “any willing patriot, make this government start working for you again.” Mr. Bush, too, promised the same bipartisanship in his campaigns, and then governed in the most divisive, partisan way. Americans have a right to ask which John McCain would be president. We hope Mr. McCain starts to answer that by halting the attacks on Mr. Obama’s patriotism and beginning a serious, civil debate.

Did somebody say debate? In just a few weeks.

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