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17 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
02:15 pm

Memo to Michael Gerson: WTF?

In today’s Washington Postdated, former Bush flack-hack and occasional thoughtful conservative Michael Gerson goes off the rails again, suggesting that Obama has made three mistakes during his campaign that just might prove to be fatal.

1.  Obama made the mistake of choosing in Joe Biden a thoughtful, experienced, and capable running mate instead of a crazy, inexperienced, and frequently vicious unknown.

He could have reinforced a message of change and moderation with a Democratic governor who wins in a Republican state, or reached for history by selecting Hillary Clinton. But his choice came soon after Russia invaded Georgia, and the conventional wisdom demanded an old hand who knew his way around Tbilisi. When the Georgia crisis faded, Obama was left with a partisan, undisciplined, congressional liberal at his side.

Apparently it is better to score easy points by creating a celebrity while sating your red (moose) meat base than it is to think about what is necessary to govern a large and complex nation.

2.  Obama made the mistake of turning his convention speech into a thoughtful discussion of the issues that matter to the American people instead of a rehash of his inspirational stumps:

In his Denver speech, it seemed that every American home was on the auction block, every car stalled for lack of gasoline, every credit card bill past due, every worker treated like a Russian serf. And John McCain? He was out of touch, with flawed “judgment.” His life devoted to serving oil companies and big corporations. And, by the way, he didn’t have the courage to follow Osama bin Laden “to the cave where he lives.”

Apparently it is better to speak blandishments than talk about the real problems facing this country.  The irony, of course, is that much of the commentariat before the speech — including Republicans — could not stop talking about how Obama needed to talk policy.  After the speech every commentator — even Pat Buchanan, for crying out loud — called the speech one of the finest of his career and an extraordinary challenge to McCain.  All that was forgotten by Gerson and other folks, largely because the next day, John McCain opened up that big ol’ can of crazy known as the Sarahnator.

3.  Obama is now making the mistake of getting tough on McCain for being such a lying liar who lies about his giant sack of lies.

Who is hurt most by this race to the bottom? McCain, by the evidence of his own convention, wants to be a viewed as a fighter — which a fight does little to undermine. Obama was introduced to America as a different and better kind of politician — an image now in tatters.

That’s right — it’s Obama’s fault for challenging the lies, because it makes him look like a typical politician.  Forget the fact that McCain has sullied his honor.  It’s far more relevant that Obama chose to fight back, thus hurting his reputation as a change agent.

If Michael Gerson wants to put on a pair of beer goggles when he looks at John McCain, that’s his prerogative.  But he shouldn’t expect the rest of us to believe him.

| posted in foreign policy, media, politics, war & rumors of war | 1 Comment

14 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
05:55 pm

The Hillary and Sarah Show

In case you missed last night’s SNL:

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8 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
08:45 am

New Poll: Pick a New Theme Song for Sarah Palin

Thanks to everyone who voted that Dick Cheney should prevent the Rebel Alliance from destroying the Death Star last week.  We’ve passed your recommendation on to the Vice President — you should expect your invitations to the Guantanamo Country Club any day now.

This week, we have a very special poll.  As you may have heard, the band Heart has sent a cease and desist letter to the McCain campaign for its unauthorized use of “Barracuda” as Sarah Palin’s theme song.

Here at Undip, we feel bad for the Sarahnator, so we’re conducting a Hillary Clinton-style song contest!  You can see the finalists below.

Don’t forget to vote early and vote often!  And if you have other suggestions, please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments below.

| posted in media, politics, pop culture | 1 Comment

3 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
03:31 pm

The True Experience Test

Pundits and bloggers have spilled a lot of ink (and bits) this week over whether Sarah Palin is qualified to be a “heartbeat away from the Presidency.”  I’m not sure that’s the right question.

Let’s pose a different hypothetical.  What if John McCain were to die tomorrow?  Would the Republican National Committee name Sarah Palin to be their candidate?  Probably, in fact almost definitely not.  They would turn to someone else — Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, maybe even Fred Thompson.  But you can bet the bank they would not choose her.

To be fair, were we to pose the same hypothetical about the Democrats, there’s a very real possibility that DNC members would not name Joe Biden — they would almost definitely name Hillary Clinton.  But Biden would be a clear second choice, passed over not because he was qualified but rather because Hillary got almost as many votes as Barack.

In contrast, Palin probably wouldn’t even make the top five.  Senior Republican leaders don’t believe she’s qualified.  That’s why so many party regulars are leaking to the press.  They’re stunned and angry, and worry that she will drag down the ticket.  They don’t believe she has the foreign policy chops.  They also don’t believe she knows how to manage a large and complex economy.

The key question isn’t whether Palin is qualified to be President “someday.”  The key question is whether Republicans believe that she is qualified to be President right now.

| posted in foreign policy, politics, pop culture | 0 Comments

31 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
08:37 pm

Palin No Longer Hearts Hillary

Earlier today, I speculated as to whether Sarah Palin’s comment on Hillary was genuine or cynical.  The test, I argued, would be whether her pro-Hillary comments stayed in future speeches after they were booed in Pennsylvania.

Now we have our answer:  in a speech today in Missouri, Palin did not praise Hillary, talk about her, or even mention her name.

The McCain campaign chose Palin because she appealed to the base and, they thought, had the potential to draw in some disaffected Hillary voters.  But at the first hint of the obvious contradictions within that strategy, they’ve now dropped HIllary like a hot brick.  In fact, they’ve disappeared her — it’s as if her candidacy never existed.

So much for principle.

Let’s hear it for cynicism!

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31 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
02:45 pm

Palin: The Core Contradiction

If you believe the cynics, John McCain chose Sarah Palin for two reasons:  1) to energize the right-wing base and 2) to entice some die-hard Hillary supporters to vote for him.

Setting aside, for the moment, the fact that those are largely contradictory motivations, you would have thought that the McCain campaign would have anticipated that Palin shouldn’t play the Hillary card to Republican audiences:

In just her second appearance on the campaign trail with John McCain, newly-minted GOP running mate Sarah Palin was showered with boos on Saturday for attempting to praise Clinton’s trail-blazing bid to become the first female president.

As she did at in her debut speech in Ohio yesterday, Palin appealed to the women in the crowd here in Pennsylvania with a political shout-out to Geraldine Ferraro, who preceded Palin as the first women [sic] to be tapped as a vice presidential candidate.

But in contrast with the mild reception that greeted her comments at the Ohio event, when Palin praised Clinton here for showing “determination and grace in her presidential campaign,” the Alaska governor was met with a noisy mix of boos, groans and grumbles around the minor league ballpark where the “Road to the Convention Rally” was held.

You have to wonder just how much the campaign thought this through before sending Palin out on a speaking tour of Republican strongholds.  The same people who love Palin’s pro-life, pro-gun, pro-creationism and anti-gay marriage props absolutely loathe Hillary.  In fact, they probably hate her more than anyone else currently active in American politics.

That said, Palin’s next few campaign appearances will tell us exactly whether her (and the McCain campaign’s) professed appreciation of Hillary is real.  If she ignores the catcalls and continues to tell Republican audiences that they should respect Hillary for what she’s done, then chances are her comments reflect her real feelings on the matter.  But if that talking point suddenly disappears from her stump speech, we’ll know that its inclusion was pure cynicism.

| posted in media, politics | 0 Comments

30 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
12:45 pm

Quote of the Day

Max Bernstein of Max and the Marginalized:

John McCain thinks that if you throw any ol’ pair of [breasts] at Hillary supporters, they’ll cast their principles to the wind and vote Republican.


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29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:06 am

Palin: Think Twice PUMAs

Okay, I’m already getting grief for posting the photo.  Let me explain why I did it.

Sarah Palin is a strongly pro-life, anti-gay marriage former beauty queen.  If John McCain picked her to appeal to Hillary dead-enders (along with his evangelical base),

This is who the PUMAs are going to support?  Had he picked Meg Wittman or Carly Fiorina, McCain may have had a chance.  But if any of the Hillaryites think that choosing McCain isn’t going to affect their core issues, they really are smoking some really good crack.

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28 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:00 pm


Anyone seen the Clintons tonight?  I havent.

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28 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
07:45 am

The World’s Most Powerful Women

Forbes Magazine has put out its list of the world’s most powerful women.  As you would expect from Forbes, there’s a strong emphasis business leaders.  Here’s the top ten:

  1. Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Germany
  2. Sheila Blair, Chairman of the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation)
  3. Indra Nooyi, Chairman and Chief Executive, PepsiCo
  4. Angela Braly, Chief Executive WellPoint U.S.
  5. Cynthia Carroll, Chief Executive, Anglo American U.K.
  6. Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and Chief Executive, Kraft Foods
  7. Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State
  8. Ho Ching, Chief Executive, Temasek Holdings, Singapore
  9. Anne Lauvergeon, Chief Executive, Areva France
  10. Anne Mulcahy, Chairman and Chief Executive, Xerox

At first I was surprised that I had only heard of three of those in the top ten:  Merkel, Nooyi, and Rice.  But then I saw how Forbes had determined its rankings:

We measure power as a composite of public profile — calculated using press mentions — and financial heft. . . . The economic component of the ranking considers job title and past
career accomplishments, as well as the amount of money a woman
controls. A chief executive gets the revenue of her business, for
example, while a Nobel winner receives her prize money and a U.N.
agency head receives her organization’s budget. We modify the raw
dollar figures to allow comparisons among the different financial
realms so that the corporate revenue that an executive controls, for
instance, is on the same footing as a country’s gross domestic product,
ascribed to prime ministers.

Well, no wonder it’s all business executives.  But what isn’t clear is exactly how both Merkel and Rice, who have little “financial heft” made the top ten, while Hilary Clinton, who Forbes said was the woman with the highest public profile, is only #28, behind the Director of the Centers for Disease Control, for crying out loud.

Another interesting contrast is that of Shelia Blair (#2) and Nancy Pelosi (#35).  Isn’t control over U.S. government’s purse strings greater financial clout than managing the U.S. banking insurance system? And what financial heft does Laura Bush (#44) have?

Their methodology doesn’t make much sense.  But it does make interesting reading.

Other figures of note in the top 100: 

  • Cristina Fernandez, President of Argentina (13);
  • Yulia Tymoshenko, Prime Minister of Ukraine (17)
  • Sonia Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress (21);
  • Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile (25);
  • Oprah Winfrey (36)
  • Aung San Suu Kyi (37)
  • Gloria Arroyo, President of the Philippines (41)
  • Tzipi Livni, Israeli foreign minister (52)
  • Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand (56)
  • Queen Elizabeth II (58 — profession listed as “Queen.”  Heh.)
  • Meredith Vieira, co-host “The Today Show,” NBC (61 — higher than Katie.  That’s gotta hurt.)
  • Katie Couric (62)
  • Barbara Walters (63)
  • Diane Sawyer (65)
  • Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia (66)
  • Tarja Halonen, President of Finland (71)
  • Ruth Bader Ginsberg (72)
  • Mary McAleese, President of Ireland (74)
  • Christiane Amanpour, CNN (91)

I’m sorry, but I have a hard time taking seriously any list that thinks that the foreign minister of Greece is more powerful than Angelina Jolie.

| posted in globalization, media, politics, pop culture, world at home | 0 Comments

28 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
06:45 am

Newsflash: Obama Is Actually Ming the Merciless

The front page of yesterday’s Washington Times:

I didn’t know that we were living during the Mughal Empire or the Han Dynasty.  Silly me.

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27 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
07:00 pm

It’s Official

Thank you Hillary.  Barack is the Democratic nominee.

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27 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
05:44 pm

DNC: Stop Panicking, Please

So the progosphere, together with many Democrats, appears to be in complete meltdown mode at the moment, anxious that Hillary’s speech last night wasn’t enough, worried that most of the speakers at the DNC have sucked (well, that part is true), and dreading what the Republicans will “do to us” next week in St. Paul.

Four words:  Calm. The. Hell. Down.

Much of what you’re worrying about is the product of the mainstream media’s feeding frenzy over the supposed Hillary-Barack feud.  That was going to happen no matter what, even if Hillary had won the nomination.

In fact, let’s play pretend for a moment.  Let’s go to an alternate universe where Hillary did win the nomination of the Democratic Party of, oh, I don’t know, the country of PUMAstan, and Barack had to give the Tuesday night speech.  Here is an example of what you would see in the media:

Barack Obama delivered a ringing call for Democratic Party unity on Tuesday, promising to work for Hillary Clinton and challenging his supporters to bury their grudges and rally behind her White House bid.

“Whether you voted for me or voted for Hillary, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose,” said Obama in a speech Democrats hope will end a lingering party rift left over from their bitter nominating fight.

Obama an Illinois senator, praised Clinton and said Democrats could not sit on the sidelines and watch Republican presidential candidate John McCain take the White House and “squander the promise of our country.”

“No way, no how, no you can’t, John McCain. Hillary Clinton is my candidate and she must be our president,” Obama told a roaring crowd waving a sea of blue and red “Obama” signs.

Obama used his highly anticipated turn in the spotlight to say Democrats must unite to help the former first lady beat McCain in the Nov. 4 election. A Democrat is needed in the White House to turn around the struggling U.S. economy, he said.

“When Hillary Clinton is in the White House, she’ll revitalize our economy, defend the working people of America, and meet the global challenges of our time,” Obama said.

His wife, Michelle Obama, watched from the balcony, seated next to former President Bill Clinton.  At one point her eyes welled with tears and she mouthed the words “I love you.”

Clinton watched the speech on television in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as she makes her way to Denver to accept the nomination on Thursday night. “That was a strong speech,” she said. “I thought he was brilliant.”

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said Obama would not convince undecided voters that Clinton was ready to be commander in chief.  “Millions of Barack Obama supporters and millions of Americans remain concerned about whether Hillary Clinton is the right choice for America,” Bounds said.

So let the MSM do that thing that they do.  Calm down.  And remember, we got ground game.  And money.  And a candidate who can clean McCain’s clock.  Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry didn’t have any of those qualities.

And, for the record, neither does John McCain.

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26 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:12 pm

Hillary Rocks the House

She didn’t just take the high road, she owned it.  At least 10-12 explicit endorsements of Obama.  She did it at the beginning, in the middle, at the end.  And she never got lost in solipcism or narcisissm.

Ambinder on Twitter speculated that her speech will be to 08 as Obama was in 04.  I think that’s about right.

Have to say that Hillary having been away for three months has made the heart grow fonder. That said, I wish her foreign policy positions had gotten more than a total of about 1 minute (30 seconds each on two occasions).

How’s this for unfounded speculation:  the DNC intentionally lined up a bunch of duds to make Hillary look this good.

Wonderful speech.  As Olbermann just said.  “I don’t know how it could have been better.”

| posted in foreign policy, media, politics | 1 Comment

26 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
08:47 pm

Why Hillary is Going to Rock the House Tonight

Earlier today at the Emily’s List event:

Wasn’t Michelle Obama terrific last night? I know a little bit about the way the White House works, and you know if the president is not exactly on your side, call the first lady. And with Michelle Obama we’re going to have somebody who answers that phone.

Especially liked the not-so-subtle 3 am reference.

Hat tip:  American Prospect

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26 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
08:36 pm

Comforting Thought of the Moment

Kathy Archuleta is the Lord Haw Haw of Hillary dead-enders.  Just because she makes a lot of noise doesn’t mean she reflects public opinion.

Hope she’s enjoyed her 15 minutes in the media glare, because Hillary is about to smush her like a bug.

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26 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
08:16 pm

Shut up Already

Poor wittle Billy-boy can’t keep his mouth shut.  This is what he said today in Denver.

Suppose for example you’re a voter. And you’ve got candidate X and candidate Y. Candidate X agrees with you on everything, but you don’t think that person can deliver on anything. Candidate Y disagrees with you on half the issues, but you believe that on the other half, the candidate will be able to deliver. For whom would you vote? . . .This has nothing to do with what’s going on now.

Oh dude.  “This has nothing to do with what’s going on now”?  Are you high?  Did the heart surgery give you brain damage?  Are you a Republican secret agent?  Did Mark Penn help you write this too?

Just STFU and leave town now.  Go back to your charity work.  Go back to the Canadian heiress.  Go to hell.  I don’t really care anymore what you do.

Just go.


| posted in media, politics, pop culture | 0 Comments

25 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:55 pm

Live Blogging: Michelle Obama

Great introductory video.  Really touching.

And her brother is great.  They should use him more.

Michelle is out-smokin’ Caroline Kennedy.  Looks really good.

Use of the images of veterans’ families really well done.

Mentioned Hillary — 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling.  Very nice touch.

“That’s why I’m proud of my country.”  Excellent — take on the attacks head on.

She is really, really good.  Best speaker of the night. In fact, this is exactly what the Dems needed.  This could be to ‘08 what Barack’s speech was to ‘04.

People in the audience are tearing up.  Wow.

A truly great speech.  Michelle is now a force in her own right.

Yes, it’s clear.  I didn’t just drink the Kool-Aid.  I’ve opened a neighborhood stand.

| posted in none of the above | 2 Comments

25 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
04:24 pm

More on The Hillary v. Barack Fantasy

Take that, PUMAs and McCainiacs!

Hillary Rodham Clinton preached unity Monday in her first appearance at the Democratic National Convention.

Her first stop in Denver was a breakfast meeting for New York Democrats, where supporters waved signs declaring that “Hillary Made History.”

Clinton was quick to put Republican John McCain in her sights, saying the GOP nominee was running ads using her words to try to divide the Democrats.

Clinton’s response: “I’m Hillary Clinton, and I do not approve that message.”

Clinton tried to acknowledge the hard feelings of the primary season while encouraging everyone to move past them.

“We were not all on the same side as Democrats, but we are now,” she said. “We are united and we are together and we are determined.”

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25 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
03:32 pm

The MSM’s Misplaced Obsession with Hillary v. Barack

The mainstream media has decided to make today all about the supposed problems between Barack and Hillary — despite pleas from HRC and others to shut up already.

Think they will pay similar attention to a much more real and deep rift between McCain and Ron Paul supporters.

I don’t know if anyone has done the math, but I’m willing to bet the following:

  • Paul’s counter-convention in St. Paul will outdraw Monday’s PUMA rally by a factor of at least 5 to 1, if not higher.
  • MSM stories about Clinton vs. Obama this week will outnumber MSM stories about McCain vs. Paul next week by an equally high — if not greater — factor.  Let’s say 6 to 1.

Anyone willing to take that bet?

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