Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In Honor of the DNC

Saw this at the economics blog Chicago Boyz and had to pass it along. Bob Hope for the win!

Man, was Biden a not-good choice. Obama was kind of betwixt and between with Hillary as a VP -- he's more likely to win in a couple of months with her, but the payback would be four years (at least) with her in the White House, with Bill, hanging out in the VP's office with a cup of coffee and telling "...well, when I was President" stories to anyone who would listen. If he wanted to win, and bolster his numbers with women, he should have picked Hillary.

As it is, he went with Joe Biden, from the Electoral College powerhouse Delaware, who has much to offer. A lot of what he has to offer is a legacy of misstatements that make George W. Bush look like Oscar Wilde, including a couple of lines about his new boss, interpreted as crypto-racist by some earlier in the Democratic Primary process:

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

I seem to remember Trent Lott getting pilloried for making comments that some interpreted as racist, and here Joe gets a pass in part because of his known habit of talking until he says something stupid. Not only does he get a pass, he gets promoted to he head of the class, over guys like Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, either of whom could have probably taken Virginia into the blue-state column in November. Instead, we get Joe Biden, who allegedly is a master of "retail politics", converting people one-on-one to his point of view, as in this appeal for the subcontinental Indian vote:

In case you missed it, the punchline is this:

"I've had a great relationship. In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian-Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking,"

Why this is a bad choice is that Obama's selling point is Change -- he's not like the old-style politicians. This is true, at least as far as him not having much in the way of experience or accomplishments like all the other old-style politicians. Apparently the 'Change' thing has been wearing thin, so Obama hired himself one of the oldest of the old-style politicians, who's been in the Senate since Obama was in seventh grade, more or less. To my mind, this is changing horses in midstream, it will be interesting to see how this is spun in Obama's speech on the final night of the convention. He's dynamic! He's bold! He's new! But don't worry, he's hired an Old Guy in case you're nervous about the dynamic, bold or new parts. Like I said before -- specificity is like poison for Barack Obama's political career at this point.

There has not been much in the way of warm reaction to this from any quarter, other than the GOP. The daily Gallup McCain-Obama poll is a statistical dead heat, down from a +9 Obama lead. There is not even a convention bounce yet, much less a VP pick bounce. I would say this does not bode well, and it leads to another criticism of Obama by the Clinton supporters that does seem to have some legs -- can't close the deal.

If Obama walks away from the convention still in a dead heat, I would say that bodes very ill for him in the coming weeks. Typically the GOP closes the gap toward the end of the electoral season, if the Democrat isn't ahead by the end of their convention history suggests that they will not make it up in the last few weeks.

Now that Obama has flipped his hole card, there is some ability for McCain to make a choice that accentuates the differences. McCain already has gravitas, he doesn't need to bring an old hand on deck to reassure Middle America. He gets the liberty of a partial stunt pick, and the obvious choice would be Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska......were it not for an evolving maybe-scandal relating to a state trooper who was married to a Palin relative, the now-fired Commissioner of Public Safety, and whether or not the Governor's Office tried to get the ex-relative fired. I would say that puts her out of contention for this year.

The more converntional female pick might be Kay Bailey Hutcheson, the conservative Texas Senator. She's got more experience than the Democratic candidate, including several positions in Texas state government, and she's telegenic. The less-conventional female candidate would be Meg Whitman, who led the growth of eBay and who is one of McCain's economics advisors. Her resume is probably better than anyone else in the field of candidates from the standpoint of leadership and experience.

Meg Whitman

On the male side, the big three I hear discussed are Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal (current first-term Louisiana governor) and Eric Cantor (a US Representative from Virginia). I kind of like Mitt, he's not a bad choice. He's probably conservative enough for most conservatives and has a good executive resume, again -- better than the Democratic Presidential candidate's resume.

Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal, if he doesn't get picked this year will be a definite choice in 2012 if he can do well at the state level. He's younger than Obama, a Rhodes Scholar who came back to Louisiana to help fix the adopted state he loves, plus he's Indian-American and I would love to see him make a Dunkin Donuts crack during the VP debate. Jindal is a conservative Catholic who's pro-life, pro-guns, articulate and can be counted on to make Joe Biden look stupid, which is a plus -- but he is young and relatively inexperienced, though I predict good things from him. Cantor I don't know so much about, but apparently if you want a conservative who is smart and can help you keep VA in the red-state category, he's your guy.

Eric Cantor

Lieberman -- well, not a horrible choice, but to a certain extent you're trading your conservative base (who will come out to vote if you treat them nice) for independents who may or may not get off the couch to acknowledge your 'Maverickness'. Lieberman is avowedly pro-choice, even if the does get the War on Terror right, and it's questionable how much he'd help you with conservative Democrats. Connecticut is a questionable Electoral College prize, as well.

Well, I'm sure Bill Clinton will give a great speech and Joe Biden has been fitted with the electrical shock device to prevent him getting off-topic. I won't be watching the convention, but enjoy if you do. My favorite new controversy is the "Temple of Gloom" built at Invesco Field as a backdrop for Obama's speech:

When told that Obama would emerge from a "temple", an unnamed McCain staffer gave my favorite one-liner so far: "Is this from The Onion?"

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