Archive for the ‘Biden’ Category

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Official Chamber Biden-Palin Debate Thread

October 1, 2008

As a follow-up to the previous thread, I figured that I might as well start one for the much-anticipated and only VP debate.  I do this a day early so we can have room to make predictions, a little liveblogging (if anyone’s around), and reactions.

For now, I’m going to start with a few pre-debate thoughts…

First, it’d be irresponsible for the Chamber not to mention the notion that the various statements made by Palin these last few weeks has reduced the expectations of her to the lowest of levels (that’s what the media’s been implying, anyway).   To sum it up, Countdown put together a pretty good montage:

click to watch

click to watch

Could Palin “win” simply by showing up and not saying anything too embarrassing?  On the other hand, based on these interviews, is that even probable?

Second, to gain a little insight, we should highlight those who have debated Palin in the past, and those people are saying that she shouldn’t be underestimated

While policy wonks such as Biden might cringe, it seemed to me that Palin was simply vocalizing her strength without realizing it. During the campaign, Palin’s knowledge on public policy issues never matured – because it didn’t have to. Her ability to fill the debate halls with her presence and her gift of the glittering generality made it possible for her to rely on populism instead of policy.

Palin is a master of the nonanswer. She can turn a 60-second response to a query about her specific solutions to healthcare challenges into a folksy story about how she’s met people on the campaign trail who face healthcare challenges. All without uttering a word about her public-policy solutions to healthcare challenges.

Of course, most politicians rely on the ability to weild the “nonanswer” as a defense mechanism and to avoid being pinned down.  But tomorrow night’s debate will be a completely different set of circumstances.  This one will be on a national stage covering both domestic and international issues, and subjected to the spin and interpretation of the media and pundits across the country.   It remains to be seen she can pull this off outside of the familiar confines of her home turf.  After all, one would think that it’s a lot easier to do it when the issues exclusively deal with the state in which you’ve lived your whole life.  And given the fact that there’s been so much attention paid to the aforementioned cluelessness that she’s already displayed on the national and international issues, the “nonanswer” will now be something that people will be looking for and picking apart (if not outright mocking).

Finally, I’ll just add that Biden’s best approach is to exude confidence and competence and to be careful not to attack Palin in a condescending manner, as in doing so he risks coming across as a bully and turning people off.  In fact, the best advise would be to avoid attacking Palin at all.  The contrast between the two should be evident if he just plays it safe and answers the questions.

And with that, I open up the thread and start popping the popcorn…

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McCain’s Pander Pick For VP

August 29, 2008

As the overdose of punditry over the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate overwhelms casual readers everywhere, I thought I might as well add my own take on the matter.  And if there is a single word that immediately comes to mind, it would be “pander”.

I mean, is there really any other way to look at it?   I’m no political scientist, but it seems to me that there are three rationales at work when a presidential candidate selects a running mate, and it would come down to a) who helps one’s chances getting elected, b) who would help one govern effectively, and c) who would be a logical successor to the presidency.   On the surface the selection of Sarah Palin would satisfy (a), and that’s about it.   

Why (a)? 

-Well, first, you’ve got a presidential candidate that, throughout the primaries, was derided by the Rush’s and Hannity’s of the world as not being conservative enough.  So, check the box for the conservative pander, since it would appear that Palin is solidly on that side of the fence. 

-Second, as I’ve pointed out with a few posts on the PUMA’s, there is a certain percentage of the female voting block that would be inclined to fill the feminist gap now that Hillary is out of the race, and/or is bitter, having viewed the campaign (or the media coverage thereof) as sexist, or whatever.  For voters out there who wanted to cast their vote for a woman, Palin picks up the baton from Clinton.  So, check the box for the female pander. 

-Third, in Palin you have something that is slightly less tangible, but possibly more powerful than the first two.  Much of political campaigning involves principles of marketing, and marketing 101 students learn about the principle of liking and attractiveness:

Liking. “People prefer to say yes to individuals they know and like,” Cialdini says. In negotiations and sales situations, one can influence the outcome by developing a kinship with prospective clients or being familiar to them. Being physically attractive is also a big advantage. Research shows that people attribute talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence to people they find attractive. 

Palin, as a former runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant, is still attractive at 44, and her “hockey mom” likability is likely what helped her win her own elections.  The McCain camp is probably counting on injecting this principle as an attempt to offset what Obama brings to the table in this regard.  So, I suppose one can say that they’re pandering to the emotional side of the electorate.

-Finally, there is something to be said about what Obama’s selection of Biden did to influence this pick.  We may be seeing a bit of political chess being played here, specifically with regard to the upcoming debates.  Someone in McCain’s circle probably figured that it won’t be hard for the fiery Biden to appear as a big bully when going one-on-one with the cute female Alaskan governor.  In the very least, this dynamic could serve to handcuff Biden in light of how the machine of spin and subsequent perception works.  A couple of 5 second clips could be all that is needed to cement this impression, and the opportunity to do so would be something that McCain’s people will be looking for.  If you expand on that theme and include treatment from the rest of the Obama camp, the punditry and the broader media, you can see where this might play into their hands.  It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out, but some are already urging their fellow detractors to tread carefully.

Also, its conceivable that McCain went out of his way to select someone that wasn’t an opponent in the primaries, thereby avoiding the threat of past criticism and appearances of hypocrisy being used against him as we head towards November.  Again, political chess.

But do you notice that none of those considerations actually has anything to do with effectively running the country?  Say what you want about Biden (I have), but with Obama’s pick, at least one can say that there was more attention placed on the aforementioned (b) and (c), that’s for sure. 

It’s been pointed out that, given McCain’s advanced age, reliance solely on this rationale is risky (both politically and otherwise).   New Republic columnist Peter Scoblic opines that the selection even reveals a certain level of arrogance on McCain’s part.  I think he makes a pretty good point.   Let’s hope that the rest of America sees it that way as well. 

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Why Biden?

August 24, 2008

Like so many others who signed onto Obama’s “Be the first to know” text message gimmick with regards to who he was picking to be his running mate, I received my alert about 5 hrs after the media confirmed that Joe Biden was the guy (the message came via twitter and was timestamped 4:24 AM CST; the other text message I never received, so I’m not sure what I did wrong there).  I was pretty disappointed, and I think it had less to do with the fact that it was a waste of time, and more to do with how it reflects on how Obama was managing his campaign, and what that might mean about he would handle his presidency.  ‘Cause lets face it, “Be the first to know” was a bit of a broken promise.  And for the record, I don’t think that the middle-of-the-night message was designed as a jab at Hillary (as many have opined and discussed) or to imply anything, rather, I imagine that it was timed that way to save as much face as possible, in light of the fact that CNN and others had pretty much let the cat out of the bag (a text message received after it was all over cable news networks on Saturday morning would have seemed pretty silly, no?).

In any case, Biden is the guy, and as an Obama supporter, I must say that I have some mixed feelings about this pick.  I have stated here in the Chamber my feeling that the best choice would have been Bill Richardson, but I’ve never voiced my opinion on anyone else on the short list (although now I’m not sure if Richardson was even on the list), so now that the pick has been made, I thought I’d post something about my initial reaction.  From where I sit, the selection of Biden as VP has pros and cons for both the campaign and the eventual presidency, so I’ll break it down here.

Pro

First, the oft-mentioned experience factor.  I see this from two points of view, in that the experience that the long-time Democrat Senator from Delaware brings to the table can have an effect both perceived (in the sense that voters are more comfortable electing Obama with the resume gap filled) and real (in the sense that Obama’s presidency will be shaped by the actual advise or influence that Biden wields).  I guess the question is which one overshadows the other.  Either way, I view this as a plus.

Second, as a no-nonsense character who is unafraid to speak his mind, Biden is a good choice for a candidate that promised to pick a VP that would  “challenge my thinking and not simply be a yes person when it comes to policy-making”.  I must admit that this is pretty comforting, considering that we’ve just been subjected to 8 years of governance from people who placed loyalty above competence.

Con

I’ve long stated that I wasn’t going to favor a candidate that voted in favor of the 2002 Iraq AUMF.  Biden did, and later ran his own campaign for the presidency that included an Iraq policy that was more in line with what Republican Senator Sam Brownback was proposing, namely, partitioning Iraq into Sunni, Shia and Kurd regions.   This was a position that, as Allah at Hot Air reminds us, even the Iraqis are vehemently against.

Also, Biden has a history of saying some really stupid things, which explains why blog after blog on the right are overjoyed, as they’re anxious for the next opportunity to highlight his next gaffe.  In fact, the front page of the RNC’s website features a “gaffe clock“, counting down the time until his next one.  If Biden takes on the role of a loose cannon, it could really be a turnoff to those who might otherwise be inclined to support the ticket, and can be a major distraction when they’re trying to get the message out.

Up For Grabs

The role of “attack dog”.  Traditionally, one of the benefits of a VP was the ability to deflect partisan criticism away from the president and allow him to remain above the fray.  When Obama launched his campaign and announced his bid for the presidency, he promised a “new kind of politics”, and one could make the argument that the addition of a fire-in-the-belly persona like Biden would undermine that.  On the other hand, as this campaign slides into the sewer of attack ads and personality wars, Biden could be the perfect countermeasure (something that Richardson wouldn’t have been as effective at), and provide Obama the ability rise above it.   The deciding factor might come down to the aforementioned gaffes, and a nightmare scenario might be one where Obama is called upon to disavow something that Biden has said (and don’t be surprised to see those calls come early, often, and for just about anything).

Also, the Biden pick could be seen by those Clinton supporters as a slap in the face, further disrupt party unity, increase recruitment of the PUMA mindset, and eventually lead to disaster in November.  Indeed, the McCain camp sees a light at the end of this tunnel, and has already begun to exploit it with a recent ad painting Clinton as “passed over”.  Will people fall for this?  Does Biden represent the “risky” choice, and Clinton the “safe” one?  Just how fractured is the party?  Time will tell, I suppose.

This is going to be one heck of a home stretch.

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Update: It would appear that I was right about the text message: CNN forces Obama to release VP pick early

“Had a certain network not blown our cover at a certain time the text message would have gone out in the morning, 8 a.m. Eastern,” Robert Gibbs, a senior advisor, said with a grin on Sunday. “We told people they would find out from us. When we decided it was going to get out we decided to send the text out.”

Gibbs said he believes despite the fact that the rollout plan had to be altered, a “vast majority of the people” still learned by text message when they woke up in the morning.

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The “Petraeus Is Above Criticism” Resolution

September 20, 2007

OK, this whole outrage over the full-page MoveOn.org ad in the NYT has gone a little too far.  Today, the Senate passed a resolution written “to specifically repudiate the unwarranted personal attack on General Petraeus by the liberal activist group Moveon.org”.

The text of the resolution begins with the acknowledgement that the Senate voted unanimously in approval of Petraeus’s selection for the job back in January, followed by a rundown of his resume.  Then, it required that one agree with this statement:

(8) A recent attack through a full-page advertisement in the New York Times by the liberal activist group, Moveon.org, impugns the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all the members of the United States Armed Forces.

While the preceding 7 findings were a matter of relatively indisputable fact, this last one was clearly a matter of opinion.  While one might agree that the ad was obviously directed at Petraeus, I consider it a bit of a stretch to say that it “impugns the honor and integrity” of “all the members of the United States Armed Forces”.  This could be one basis for voting negative on this resolution, even before you get to the “sense of the Senate” part.  That part, incidentally, contained this rather vague statement:

(2) to strongly condemn any effort to attack the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all the members of the United States Armed Forces

What is an “attack”, really?…and… According to who? Could it be any disagreement with anything he states?  This is the crux of my problem with the resolution.  If you put the MoveOn ad aside for a second, this appears to be a politically motivated effort to solidify a sense of Petraeus’ infallibility. This could be dangerous territory. The Senate could effectively be signing on to the notion that they cannot question the actions, statements or motivations of people simply because they are in the military. I mean, read it again. It’s a broad and sweeping statement. 

The final vote was 72-25 in favor, with notable nays coming from presidential candidates Clinton and Dodd.  Other Dem hopefuls, Obama and Biden, didn’t vote. 

Update:  As predicted, the blogosphere is going nuts over this, complete with the usual spin.  Again, my personal conclusion is that you could support Petraeus, the military and the mission in Iraq and still vote negatively on the resolution, simply because it is technically too ambiguous and seems crafted in an effort to give the military (and Petraeus specifically) too much power in the political arena.  At the same time, a vote of nay doesn’t necessarily “support” the actions of MoveOn.  A negative vote on this could be nothing more than unwillingness to be subjected to someone’s opinion on what exactly an “attack” is.  To me, he idea that a disagreement over a decision, course of action, or even a claim could be seen as an “attack” worthy of “condemnation” is more than a little unsettling, and I think that this resolution leaves that door open.  Nevermind the fact that this resolution insulates Petraeus (and, depending how you read it, “all the United States Armed Forces”) from accusations of being disingenuous or outright lying even if it was blatantly obvious that he (they) were. 

Oh well, it passed.  I suppose that it will be interesting to see what effect this has over the debate.

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Are We Clear, Kristol?

July 21, 2007

According to Federal Election Commission figures tabulated by a diarist on Daily Kos, the Q2 donations made my active-duty troops to presidential campaigns breaks down like this:

Anti-war:
Ron Paul 26.23%
Barack Obama 24.02%
Hillary Clinton 11.08%
Bill Richardson 5.59%
John Edwards 2.63%
Joe Biden 0.84%
Mike Gravel 0.16%
Dennis Kucinich 0.05%
Chris Dodd 0%

Pro-war:
John McCain 18.31%
Mitt Romney 4.05%
Rudy Giuliani 2.44%
Mike Huckabee 1.84%
Tom Tancredo 1.63%
Duncan Hunter 1.05%
Sam Brownback 0.07%
Tommy Thompson 0%
Jim Gilmore 0%
John Cox 0%

In other words, 70.6% to anti-war candidates vs. 29.4% for pro-war candidates (although I’m not sure if it’s fair to lump candidates like Brownback or Biden into opposite camps, seeing as they seem to be advocating a similar way forward in Iraq, but you get the idea).

Then, today, we get another wonderful bit of wisdom from William Kristol:  They Don’t Really Support the Troops

Having turned against a war that some of them supported, the left is now turning against the troops they claim still to support. They sense that history is progressing away from them–that these soldiers, fighting courageously in a just cause, could still win the war, that they are proud of their service, and that they will be future leaders of this country. They are not “Shock Troops.” They are our best and bravest, fighting for all of us against a brutal enemy in a difficult and frustrating war. They are the 9/11 generation. The left slanders them. We support them. More than that, we admire them.

–William Kristol

Does anyone else smell that?

groisman_fewgood.jpg
Clear?

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Something That Sam Brownback And Joe Biden Agree On

July 5, 2007

You might have already guessed what that was, but I thought I’d put it in here because I saw another story about this come across the AP wires:  Scholars: Divide Iraq into 3 regions

Under the plan, Iraqis would divide the country into three main regions. Each would assume primary responsibility for its own security and governance, as Iraqi Kurds already have in Kurdistan.

“Creating such a structure could prove to be difficult and risky,” the report said. “However, when measured against the alternatives — continuing to police an ethnic-sectarian war, or withdrawing and allowing the conflict to escalate — the risks of soft partition appear more acceptable.”

Brownback has been talking about this for months, and if I remember correctly, he was the only GOP presidential candidate in the field that brought this up in the debates thus far (although I could be wrong about that).   Biden has been pushing for his “third way” for quite a while as well.  What I haven’t seen, I suppose, is a lot of serious talk about it in the media.

I should note that one of my blogger pals has dedicated his blog toward this solution: Partition of Iraq

I know all this isn’t exactly news, but I thought I’d bring the debate over to my blog.  My personal feeling on this is that it may be too late for this.  Had this been the initial plan, this would have gone quite a bit smoother that it would to try to do it now.  In fact, at this point, it is almost like starting over.  Maybe that’s why the idea hasn’t picked up a lot of steam.  Hypothetically, if someone were omnipotent and knew that this would be the only way to achieve a positive outcome in the region, it would be interesting to know if the American people would have the will to see this through.  The biggest problem is getting the Iraqi people to go along with it, and it isn’t clear that there is a lot of support for this idea.  Even if they were warm to it, it’s hard to imagine that they would have a lot of confidence in our ability to pull it off in light of all the missteps and incompetence that have plagued the effort up to this point.  In the end, there may be just too many variables and risks in just dropping what we’re doing and try something completely new.

For the record*:

sunni-shia-map.jpg

*I’m not sure how old this map is, or even its exact origin.  It’s quite possible that the war has changed the landscape quite a bit, so consider it a pretty basic visual representation.

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WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

May 25, 2007

I had an idea (strange, huh?). Originally I thought it would be neat to add political WordPress.com blogs in a special section of my blogroll, and create my own little community of amateur pundits that use the service. In a way, ALL WP.com bloggers are part of a community already, but I thought I’d start a club just for those who like to talk politics.

Most political bloggers will have blogs from other services in their blogroll.  Not everyone uses WP, after all.  There are advantages to staying within the community, however. One advantage would be ease of commenting. Once you’re logged in, you can hop from blog to blog without having to enter in tedious email info and quickly drop a comment (nice to have avatars too), and all discussions can easily be kept track of through the “my comments” section of our dashboards.  Another advantage: you don’t have to do a lot of work to ping these blogs.  All you have to do is link to a post, and it pings them immediately (leaving a pingback in the comments section).  With other blogs (or blog services), you may have to copy/paste trackback urls, and that can be a bit of a crap shoot.  It can work real slick for some blogs and not work at all for others (or at least I’ve discovered). Yet another advantage is how easy it is to search for tags within the community, but that is less special because services like technorati seem to be dialed into it as well. Anyway, you get the idea….

So, every so often, I’ll click on the WP ‘politics’ tag and check out what people are posting.  If I stumble upon a blog that I haven’t seen before, I’d just add it to the blogroll.  I’ve been adding a couple a week since I started it.  I’m sure there are more, so as time goes on this list will grow in my sidebar (under “wordpress political blogs”)

Then I started thinking. What if we formed some semi-formal alliance? A ‘club’ made up exclusively of WP.com political bloggers (right, left, and center) who could regularly exchange ideas and comment on others’ posts. So far I haven’t seen anything like that. Maybe it’s worth a shot?

I whipped up a ‘club’ button that we can put in the sidebar. You’ll have to forgive my photoshopping skills, but here goes:

wppoliblog1.jpg

If you want to add the button to your blog (it links back to this post), here is the code (with border):

<a href="https://chenzhen.wordpress.com/2007/05/25/wordpress-political-blogger-alliance"><img src="https://chenzhen.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/wppoliblog1.jpg&quot; alt="WordPress Political Blogger" /></a>

WordPress Political Blogger

…and without a border:

<a href="https://chenzhen.wordpress.com/2007/05/25/wordpress-political-blogger-alliance"><img border="0" src="https://chenzhen.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/wppoliblog1.jpg&quot; alt="WordPress Political Blogger" /></a>

WordPress Political Blogger

Update 11/2:  The alliance has become interactive!  The lowdown:

What I’m attemping to create here is a tool that we can use to make our blogs more lively and entertaining.  I’m not really forcing any obligations on anyone, so I don’t want you to get the impression that going along with this means that there’s going to be a whole list of expectations (beyond etiquette).  You don’t have to respond to every ping.   Just so you know.  

If you want to participate, there are just a few details…

  1. In order for this to work smoothly, everyone needs to create a page that can be pinged.  It took me about 2 min. to make mine: https://chenzhen.wordpress.com/wp-political-blogger-alliance/ .  And I need to know the link so that I can consolidate them, so just post it in that thread or respond in email once you’ve whipped it up.  That’s really the only requirement.  A handful of you already have done this, and the pings work beautifully.  The idea here is to compose a code that is easy to paste in your post that allows you to ping everyone in the alliance at the same time.*
  2. I don’t really like the idea of any one blogger “abusing” the tool by using it to try to dominate the discussion.  In other words, if you’re calling out and pinging the alliance 3 times a day it might get a little annoying.  Sure, it’s easy enough to just ignore such a thing, but nevertheless I think it would be akin to blog whoring just for the sake of blog whoring.  It’s kind of a fine line, and we’ll probably tweak the guidelines as we go forward, but for now I’ll stick with a rule of 1 per day max.  No minimums, since some of you might prefer to comment only.  And, it probably goes without saying, but we don’t want to double up on a topic either, so try to make sure that a story or headline hasn’t already had pings sent by someone else first.  If it has, and you’ve got your own unique analysis that you just spent like 2 hrs on, just link to that thread in your post instead.  We’ll see it.  Make sense?
  3. Be somewhat civilized.  This might be the hard part, ’cause a) there’s a very diverse crowd being pinged and b) it’s the internet.  In debate, you win by attacking the argument or idea, and you lose once you resort to attacking the person (there is a difference).  Keep that mindset, and we’ll be fine.  That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a good blog war.  This will be a bit of a free-for-all, so I hope people are relatively thick-skinned when it comes to having  logic, facts, position, etc. challenged.  We’ll just have to see how this goes, cause I’m not sure if anyone has really tried anyting like this before. 
  4. This is about “politics”, so use the “politics” tag/category when you post, and only send the pings when you post about “politics”.  You might have a cool car, for example, but please don’t ping the whole group to show off the latest pics you just posted.  Also, consistent use of the “politics” tag in general means more views from the wider wordpress.com audience.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy as individuals to block urls and IP’s if #2 or 3 becomes a problem for someone.

* The up-to-date code can always be found in my sidebar (——>): 

Founder of the

WordPress Political Blog Alliance

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

Simply copy the “WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance” and paste it at the bottom of your post. Once your post is published, it will send a ping back to everyone in the alliance.  Easy!

Update 11/4: A tag (category) specifically for the alliance:

WordPress Political Blogs

Create the “WordPress Political Blogs” category and add it to your alliance-oriented posts.  In2thefray and I have already added the RSS feed for this tag in our sidebars, so we can see the latest offerings right on our blogs:

RSS WP.com political blog alliance

Even better, if everyone uses the tag consistently, the above link will provide a great chronological record of the posts within the alliance. In addition, you will have a record of your own contributions to the alliance in your sidebar (assuming you have added the “categories” widget).  Remember to use “WordPress Political Blogs” exactly (alternate spellings and abbreviations will be a different tag, technically)