Friday, November 14, 2008

Oh, Dear God, Please No....

Obama Met With Clinton to Discuss Possible Role -

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama met late Thursday in Chicago with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to discuss what role she might play in his administration, advisers to both Democrats said on Friday.

Neither side disclosed details of the conversation, and it was unclear how seriously Mr. Obama was considering bringing Mrs. Clinton, his onetime rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, into his cabinet.

Speculation in recent days has focused on the possibility that Mr. Obama would ask Mrs. Clinton, a second term senator from New York, to be his secretary of state.

This is a terrible idea for several reasons:

One: If the idea here is to placate the rabid Clinton supporters. it's not going to work. These are people who even as Clinton was endorsing Obama, continued to insist that she didn't really mean it, that Obama's "thugs" had put a "gun to her head" and that the clips we were seeing of HRC endorsing Obama were a "hostage video." (actual quotes). They are not sane and cannot be placated.

Two: The Republicans would turn the confirmation hearings into a three ring circus. It'd be their last chance to bash the Clintons and drag the Obama Administration into a pointless side battle at the same time. And you KNOW everything Bill's been up to the past few years is going to get dragged in. Sure it's all bullshit, but it's bullshit the press reflexively laps up like cream. It'd be wall to wall coverage and all about the Clintons and the past, not Obama and the future. We don't need the distraction.

Three: Hillary Clinton has the potential to become a real power in the Senate. She could be the next Kennedy or Moniyhan. She's got a safe seat, she's well-thought of, and she's smart. Why would she want to turn over the possible leadership of a co-equal branch of government to go let the man who defeated her be her boss? And she'd be the classic example of the employee you can't tell what to do and you can't fire. The Secretary of State serves at the pleasure of the President, and I just don't see HRC being comfortable in that role.

Don't do it, Mr. President-Elect.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lawyers, Bikers and Bloggers

Frequent blog commenter and librarian Gerard Saylor interviews your Humble Blogger in a quiet moment from the Murder and Mayhem in Muskego conference this past weekend. Be sure to check out his blog at:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Look For This Buzzword Over the Next Four Years....

"Obama recession."
Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh continue to suggest that President-elect Barack Obama is to blame for the decline in the stock market, referring to the state of the stock market as an "Obama recession." In fact, analysts have refuted the proposition that the market decline has anything to do with anticipation of Obama's presidency.

Of course it's stupid. Of course it has no basis in reality. Of course, it's started before Barack Obama has even taken office.

But mark my words, the wingnuts are are going to call this nothing but the "Obama recession." Because the truth means nothing to them.

These are the same people who insisted that Sarah Palin was qualified to be President if anything happened to John McCain because she lived closer to Russia than anyone in the Lower 48. These are the people who held up Joe the Plumber as a symbol of the horrors of an Obama tax plan, even though he isn't really a plumber, his name isn't really Joe, and he'll actually do better under Obama's tax plan than McCain's, a fact that's been proven over and over.

But they just keep on lying.

This fight isn't over.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lessons Learned

Latest Newspaper Column:

Folks, you know I'm a politics junkie, but even I'm glad the election is done.

Of course, I'm glad it ended up the way it did, with Sen. Barack Obama decisively winning both the popular vote and the electoral college, in numbers greater than any president in a century -- numbers, I might add, that only the looniest of the loony, the real tinfoil-hat crowd, could attribute to "election theft." This multi-state drubbing can't be explained by a few dodgy ACORN registrations.

So what have we learned in two years?

One thing we can learn from Sen. John McCain's defeat is that you've got to have more of a message than "I'm not the other guy." Sen. John Kerry made that mistake in 2004, when his campaign theme was, essentially, "I'm not Bush." There were enough people appalled by Bush at the time (and I was one of them) that Kerry almost made it. But you don't win like that.

Like Kerry, McCain could never seem to stay on one clear message other than "Not Obama." Even that message was all over the map: Obama's an elitist. He's a celebrity. He isn't patriotic. He's a socialist. He's a "redistributionist." As my son noted, whichever candidate's ads you were watching, they were probably talking about Obama.

It's true that Obama ran a lot of ads pointing out that McCain's policies were going to be a continuation of George W. Bush's. Some called those "attack ads," but since what message McCain did manage to articulate was basically "make Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy permanent and keep Bush's war in Iraq going," you can't call them unfair.

Plus, Obama managed to keep his criticism consistent. Let's do an experiment: What percentage of the time did McCain vote with Bush? If the number that popped into your head was "95 percent" you begin to see the effectiveness of a consistent message.

But Obama also ran plenty of ads about policies he'd pursue: middle-class tax cuts, closing tax loopholes for companies that send jobs overseas, developing clean and renewable energy, etc. In the final week, Obama ran an infomercial that was seen by millions. One anonymous online commenter pointed out it didn't mention McCain once. "Could McCain have gone a full 30 minutes without mentioning Obama?" the commenter asked. Judging from McCain's ads, the answer was "no."

Another thing that John McCain could have learned from John Kerry is that in the 21st century, no one really cares about what you did in the 1960s, at least not enough to influence their vote. Kerry tried to run on his service in Vietnam, and I have to admit I cringed when he opened his convention acceptance speech with that line, "Lt. Kerry reporting for duty".

McCain mentioned that he'd been a POW so often that he turned it into joke fodder by bringing it up every time he was questioned on something. Everyone gave McCain respect for his service (certainly more than the Republicans ever gave Kerry), but in the end, they weren't going to make him president just for that.

We also learned that no one really cares what some guy you had a nodding acquaintance with did in the 1960s, no matter how rotten it was. McCain did everything he could to hang washed-up Sixties radicalBill Ayers around Obama's neck, and almost 64 million people shrugged and went, "So?"

(And while I'm sure there'll now be a flood of letters to this paper from bitter dead-enders trying to "prove" some tighter Obama/Ayers connection, just remember: No. One. Cares. )

Oh, and people apparently don't much care about some crazy thing your preacher said, no matter how many times you bring it up. Preachers say crazy stuff. No one cares.

All in all, the biggest loser in this election was the divisive Karl Rovian politics in which one candidate seeks to paint the other candidate, and by extension his or her supporters, as not just wrong, but scary, not "really American," even traitorous.

Or, as Elizabeth Dole tried to do, by painting Kay Hagan, a Sunday School teacher and Presbyterian Church elder as "godless," even having a strident female voice behind her picture crying out "There is no God!" as if Hagan herself was saying it. Dole got her head handed to her on Election Day, and rightly so.

All that said, I did think McCain's concession speech was quite gracious and classy. After all the mudslinging he'd been doing, however, it was kind of like the end of "Return of the Jedi," when
Darth Vader renounces the Dark Side, turns back into Anakin and asks Luke to take his helmet off so he can see him one last time.

In closing, I've been thinking a lot about a line in Kurt Vonnegut's classic novel "Timequake." In the book, people are just coming out of a massive disaster that's left its victims depressed and apathetic after seven years of suffering.

"You've been sick," the book's main character tells people, "but now you're well, and there's work to do."

Let's get to work.