Monday, September 15, 2008

Apparently He's Had Enough

Clearly, Barack Obama is frustrated, and legitimately so. His record and his words have been on the Republican chopping block for a while now and recently have turned into outright attacks which provide some "facts" worthy of skepticism. Now Obama is trying to really fight back. From CBS we find that his campaign has released a new television ad that quotes major news sources as having written about McCain's dishonest and less than honorable campaign tactics. It's even more interesting to note that in using these quotations, Obama never attacks or accuses McCain himself; he allows the media to do that for him. Furthermore, it seems like Obama may be altering his message in order to adapt to changes in the campaign that have frustrated his desire to use his message of hope and change. Politico reports that his slogan has recently been modified from "Change We Can Believe In" to "Change We Need". His speeches also have become less "inspiritional", favoring a more partisan, us v. them perspective than his audience has grown accustomed to.

Obama isn't the only one calling McCain out on his less then noble campaigning., a group dedicated to delivering the truth about misleading claims by both candidates in a non-partisan fashion, has also accused McCain of gross distortions. According to a recent posting on their website, the McCaim camp quoted a previous post in a television ad and skewed it to make it look as if Obama was saying false statements about Gov. Palin. According to FactCheck, the purpose of that previous post was to say the exact opposite. Yes, false statements were made but there is no reason to believe, no evidence to suggest that they came from Obama's campaign.

Now CNN reports that even the notorious former presidential adviser Karl Rove is saying that the McCain campaign has gone too far in some of its television ads. Let's be honest for a second. If one of the key architects of the Swift Boat smear campaign against John Kerry back in 2004 is telling you you've gone too far, clearly you really have crossed a line.

So, will pointing out these inconsistencies make a difference in the race for the White House? I think that these findings of impropriety could spell trouble for McCain if and only if people are actually paying attention to these findings and take the time to really think about what has been and will be said during this election cycle.

Friday, September 12, 2008

What About Biden?

In all the hoopla surrounding the newly minted Republican VP candidate Gov. Sarah Palin, Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden seems to have been lost in the crowd. So what has he been doing the past couple of weeks?

It seems to be business as usual for the nominee, aside from the fact that at every event he attends, he must politely answer questions about the Palin phenomena. The senator does not appear to be phased by his opponent's sudden popularity. Though he may have been eclipsed by the media frenzy over Palin, Biden doesn't seem to be worried. And frankly judging by the way Palin not-so-successfully attempted to dodge some of Charles Gibson's more probing questions, I'm not so sure he needs to be.

To many, the Democrats may have underestimated the strength of the Palin choice in the very beginning. This may be true but it appears that Biden is not trying to appear intimidated by her star-status and vigor, though many others are. He seems to be taking on an approach which says that sure, she became a celebrity overnight and people are loving her but that initial wave will die as quickly as it came and then we'll have to examine the substance of what she has to offer. It seems like we may be hitting this new lull in her stardom, considering the hits and misses of last night's ABC interview. While he has no solid personal judgment on his opponent as of right now, he maintains that once she really starts to open up about key policy issues, like she did last night, the fascination exhibited by the American people will turn into critical assessment. When this happens I think Palin will need to be on her guard, prepared to answer questions she hasn't had to really talk about since she was chosen to be McCain's No 2.

Basically, Palin and the McCain campaign have been riding an intense wave of refreshed excitement, coasting along in the Gallup polls, not having to respond to the other side for a change. However, I think this ride will be ending very soon. Excitement and new faces are great but when the novelty wears off, people want to know exactly what they are left with. Wait for October 2, the day of the vice presidential debates. I think that is when we will really see if Biden was right in just sitting out the Palin storm.

Check out Politico for more.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Discord in the GOP

While I am very much over reading articles about her leadership and how her husband is a "true Alaskan", some interesting and relevant information does indeed emerge from the coverage of Gov. Palin. In a couple articles posted today, writers explain how the running mates for the Republican Party do not see eye to eye on a couple issues. What is interesting is that these are no minor issues.

In one article from Politico, the claim is that McCain and Palin differ when it comes to the issue of global warming. Though, McCain has remained relatively silent on the issue after reversing his stance on offshore drilling a few months ago, he has been more vocal than most in his party about his support for finding energy alternatives to oil. At the very least he constantly maintains that global warming has been accelerated by man-made technologies and practices. Gov. Palin is much more skeptical. As recently as one month ago, the Alaskan executive claimed that “I'm not one … who would attribute it to being man-made." There is no ambiguity here and it appears that the two are certainly not on the same page with respect to this issue.

The second issue which divides the two is sex education, according to the LA Times. Departing from GOP standards, Palin supports contraception education alongside discussions of abstinence. McCain and most Republicans, on the other hand, disagree. A spokesperson for the McCain campaign has been quoted as saying that McCain believes abstinence to be "the only safe and responsible alternative." Where's the harmony in these views? Well, simply put, there is none.

The problems presented for the GOP are troubling in terms of winning and maintaining the support of various voters. In terms of the global warming issue, some people who were once drawn to McCain by his unique stance on global warming may be alienated by the fact that not only does Palin not show any strong commitment to the issue but she also may not even believe it is an issue which can actually be effected by humans. With respect to sex education, socially conservative supporters may feel a bit unhappy with the new Republican ticket, as many are staunchly opposed to any sex education program that includes more than abstinence as a lesson for today's youth.

So how are voters to get past these seemingly irreconcilable differences? My advice would be, if neither running mate changes his/her view come November, assess the opinion you think is most valid and weigh that against the likelihood that the other opinion might interfere with the opinion you believe would be more dominant if the Republicans were to maintain control of the White House. That's really the best I can do because, realistically speaking, if this kind of discord continues, if neither Palin nor McCain back down from their original views, they are going to make it that much harder for undecided and just-barely-right voters to choose them in November.

Friday, September 05, 2008

All About Palin

In trying to find something to write, dear readers, I was struck by the overwhelming capacity of media outlets I reviewed to churn out stories about Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin. There were writers claiming her speech was the climax of the RNC, others comparing her to Dan Quayle and still more reporting on the defensive stance many major news publications are taking after they came down hard on Palin after her nomination.

My question: How does this coverage actually effect the Republican Party?

On the one hand, it really helps. Her entrance provides a much needed boost in the way of excitement for the Republicans. McCain hasn't exactly been earning charisma points lately so any little bit she can contribute helps. Not only that but she also brings along this image of change and reform, something the McCain campaign has been struggling to convey in months past. She can help return McCain to his once seemingly lost "maverick" status. She seems to be making Republicans excited about their nominee again.

On the other hand, the GOP could be hurting as well. The female vote is not a sure thing as many women may feel that Palin's nomination is a political ploy aimed at capturing their collective vote (if such a thing exists). Also, though I did not catch the whole thing, I have seen bits and pieces of Palin's acceptance speech. Indeed, it was a fiesty oration but where's the substance? Yes, we hear the constant jabs at your opponent but what are you going to do that is so different? Many on the left cringe at the overt attacks on Obama's record and such but at the same time this may be a motivator for the Democratic Party. They've been going strong for the duration of this campaign, breezing by while the McCain camp faltered. Not to say that the Democrats are struggling but this kind of attack without support from a solid and substantial message could be yet another boost for Obama's party. Essentially her speech only adds fuel to the fires of change on the left side of the aisle.

So what can we conclude now that both conventions have reached their conclusions? Both sides have some pretty good speech writers but that's not going to ensure victory in November. Happy trails gentlemen (and lady).