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18 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:55 pm

Joltin’ Joe


Another great point from the only VP candidate actually qualified to hold the job:

COURIC: Your vice presidential rival, Governor Palin, said “To the rest of America, that’s not patriotism.  Raising taxes is about killing jobs and hurting small businesses and making things worse.”

BIDEN:  How many small businessmen are making one million, four hundred thousand–average in the top 1 percent. Give me a break.

I remind my friend, John McCain, what he said–when Bush called for war and tax cuts–he said, it was immoral, immoral, to take a nation to war and not have anybody pay for it. I am so sick and tired of this phoniness.

The truth of the matter is that we are in trouble.  And the people who do not need a new tax cut should be willing, as patriotic Americans, to understand the way to get this economy back up on their feet is to give middle class taxpayers a break. We take the tax cut they’re getting and we give it to the middle class.

Pow! Bam! Zing!

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18 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
04:14 pm

The Candidates and the Crisis


Noah Millman over at The American Scene, my favorite conservative site, summarizes what the four candidates have to say about the current financial meltdown:

Obama: We’re in this mess because the fundamentals are bad, and the fundamentals are bad because the Republicans have been ignoring ordinary working people and their needs. Most of what I think we should do is not particularly germane, and what is germane I don’t want to explain in too much detail because I’m worried I might get it wrong. I’m sticking to my platform.

McCain: We’re in this mess because a bunch of Wall Street hot shots got us into it, but they won’t dare to pull that stuff when I’m in the White House, because I survived five years in a POW camp. Do I look like the kind of guy who hangs around with a bunch of Wall Street sissies who buy their shirts at Thomas Pink? Not on your tintype girlie-girl.

Biden: I’ve been in the Senate forever, and I proposed a whole bunch of bills to deal with this problem – in fact, I’ve proposed bills to deal with just about any problem – but nobody will listen to me, particularly not John McCain. I hate it when people don’t listen to me.

Palin: I’m pretty sure John said he was against the bailout yesterday, but today he said he supported it. So I guess this is one of those times when you have to support something that you don’t basically feel good about because there’s no real alternative. That sounds about right.

Yes it does, Sunshine Sarah, yes it does.

If you’re not reading TAS, check it out.  If other conservatives were as consistently thoughtful (and often hilarious) as they are, progressives actually would have someone to debate.

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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

15 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:45 pm

Best Comeback of the Day


Joe Biden campaigning in Michigan:

I hope this becomes a staple of his campaign.  Obama should use it too.

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10 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
09:45 am

Obama, Messaging, and Dean Wormer


Take a moment to watch this clip.  It’s from an Obama town hall appearance yesterday in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

At first glance, it seems pretty good.  He says that “there should be no contradiction between keeping America safe and secure and respecting our Constitution.”  He gets in a good shot in about the need to catch the terrorists before you worry about what to do with them.  And he has a great line at the end:  “Don’t mock the constitution.  Don’t make fun of it!  Don’t suggest that it’s un-American to abide by what the founding fathers set up.”

Those are all good points.  The problem is that along the way, he violates two fundamental rules of messaging:

1.  Don’t use your opponent’s talking points to frame your arguments.  Obama did that on three occasions:

“Senator Obama is less interested in protecting people from terrorism than he is in reading them their rights.”

“You may think it’s Barack the bomb thrower, when in fact it might be Barack, the guy running for president.”

“The reason you have this principle is not to be soft on terrorism.”

When you do this, you reinforce people’s preconceptions about you.  If folks are already inclined to worry about whether you’re the right guy, then what they’re going to hear is that Obama is soft on terrorism, has a Muslim name, and is interested in protecting the bad guys.

2.  Don’t try to convince people with facts.  Obama spends over a minute explaining the concept of habeas corpus.  He sounded like a professor.  Most people don’t have any idea what the words “habeus corpus” mean.  But they do understand the underlying principle:  that sometimes, our government makes mistakes, and we need rules to protect innocent people from being thrown in jail indefinitely.  They’ll understand that much more readily than talking about how this right goes back to before we were a country.

So what should have Obama said?  How about something like this:

You know, all of us want to be treated fairly.  You could say that’s the basic idea behind the Constitution and the Bill of Rights:  do unto others as you would have them do onto you.  In this country, we give people the chance to be heard. We promise them that they won’t be tortured.  We say to them that they have the right to prove that they are innocent of the charges against them, and that they don’t have to incriminate themselves.

These are our core values.  These are incredible gifts that the founding fathers gave to us.  And these are the very things that our opponents are now mocking.  How dare John McCain and Sarah Palin suggest that what was good enough for Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and Benjamin Franklin isn’t good enough for us.

Other than our familes, our freedoms are the most precious thing we have .  They are what made this country great.  They are the promise that all men and women are created equal, that we are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and, as you said so beautifully, ma’am, that we are the sweet land of liberty.

John McCain and Sarah Palin, just like George Bush and Dick Cheney, want you to believe that our security is more important than our freedoms.  What you know and what I know — and what McCain and Palin and Bush and Cheney certainly should know is that we cannot have security without freedom.  We cannot have justice without freedom.  We cannot be America without our freedoms.

Those who suggest otherwise should be ashamed of themselves.

They should be ashamed for resorting to torture, for doing the very same things that John McCain himself suffered in Vietnam.  They should be ashamed for letting places like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, instead of places like Farmington Hills and Peoria define who we are.  They should be ashamed for allowing waterboarding, beatings, sleep deprivation, and other techniques that we used to think only happened in places like Zimbabwe and Burma and Cuba.  They should be ashamed of themselves for believing that it’s all okay because the President can do anything he wants anytime he wants.

That’s not my America.  That’s not your America.  That’s not George Washington’s or Abraham Lincoln’s or Teddy Roosevelt’s or FDR’s or JFK’s or Ronald Reagan’s America.  Nowhere in our Constitution does it say the President can do anything he or she wants.  Nowhere.  That’s not Martin Luther King’s or Susan B. Anthony’s or Bobby Kennedy’s America.  That’s George Bush’s America.

It’s time we reclaim our heritage of freedom, our role as that shining city on the hill.  It’s time we say “not on our watch,” not here, not in Guantanamo, not anywhere.

It’s time that we say to Bush and Cheney and McCain and Palin and anyone else who supports them, we’re taking America back.  We’re taking America back to what it stands for.  We’re going to make America great again.  We’re going to be the America that respects people’s rights, that honors our core values, that draws so many people around the world to our shores.

Let’s start showing the world why we’re better than our enemies.  Let’s honor our founding fathers by returning to the values that make America America.

That would knock McCain and Palin on their butts.  It would force them to explain why they support the very torture techniques that  John McCain himself endured.  It would make them explain why they aren’t un-American.  It would require them to argue that they don’t want to destroy the Constitution or shred the Bill of Rights.  Tar them with every sin of the Bush Administration, and do it in a way that will leave them no space to reply except by repeating your arguments.

That, after all, is exactly what they’re doing to the Democrats.

So for crying out loud, Senator Obama, stop defending yourself and start attacking them.  It’s the only way you win.

P.S.  To my colleagues in the blogosphere and the mainstream media, this goes double for you.  Stop caring about how many times Sarah Palin lied about the bridge to nowhere and start talking about why Obama and Biden are the right choice. Stop parsing every lie that McCain and Palin tell and start talking about what their Administration would do to the country.  And if you can’t, then shut the hell up.

It’s the Dean Wormer Theory of Politics.  In Animal House, Dean Vernon Wormer tells Flounder, “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

In politics, defensive, bitter, and angry is no way to win an election. 

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7 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
12:27 pm

What’s Wrong with this Picture?


Here’s who appeared on this morning’s news shows:

ABC’s “This Week” — Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden.

In case you’re wondering, she wasn’t on Fox or CNN either.

| posted in media, politics | 2 Comments

7 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
09:45 am

The Dems Strike Back


Beware McCain-Palin — Obama-Biden are ready to rumble, baby.

First, Obama:

Next, Biden:

And only one gratuitous “literally”!

These guys are gonna open up a really big can of whoop-ass on McCain-Palin over the next fifty-eight days.  Give ‘em hell.

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5 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
08:47 am

About Damn Time


Joe Biden yesterday, while campaigning in Florida.

Speaking in Florida on Wednesday, as the political world focused on his Republican counterpart, vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin, Biden said a Democratic administration would use a “fine-toothed comb” to investigate — and potentially prosecute — crimes by the Bush administration

“If there has been a basis upon which you can pursue someone for a criminal violation,” Biden said, according to ABC News, “they will be pursued, not out of vengeance, not out of retribution — out of the need to preserve the notion that no one, no one — no attorney general, no president, no one — is above the law.” Despite widespread public opposition to torture, and intense concern about war crimes among the Democratic base, many Democratic politicians, including Sen. Barack Obama, the party’s presidential nominee, have largely avoided highlighting these issues on the campaign trail.

Put them all in jail.  All of them.  I’ll have more on what I mean by “all” soon.  It’s a long list and it’s taking a while to pull it all together.

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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.

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1 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
06:30 pm

A Sorkintorium


Okay, I’ve had it.  Enough with the Aaron Sorkin references already.

First there were The West Wing comparisons between Matthew Santos and Barack Obama.  Then came the Joe Biden-Leo McGarry comparisons.  We’ve even had a few comparisons between John McCain and Arnold Vinick.  Then during Obama’s acceptance speech we kept hearing about The American President.” And when Sarah Palin got picked to be McCain’s VP candidate, we even saw some pseudo-Sorkin references to Commander-in-Chief.

Now we have this from Marbury, in response to the fact that the McCain campaign has released a bunch of information on the Palin family today:

The shocking story about the Palin family that emerged today - no, not the baby, the other shocking story, the one about Todd Palin, Sarah’s snowmobile champ husband, and his arrest for drunk driving in 1986 - leads NBC’s Mark Murray to ponder if the McCain campaign are dumping all their bad news about Palin at once while everybody is looking in the other direction, namely towards Louisiana and the oncoming storm.

As ever, the West Wing did it first and they called it ‘Take out the trash day’. Here are Josh and Donna to explain:

Josh: [Saturday nespapers are] a fifth the size.
Donna: What’s take out the trash day?
Josh: Any stories we have to give to the press that we’re not wild about, we give it all in a lump.
Donna: Why do you do it in a lump?
Josh: Instead of one at a time?
Donna: I’d think you’d want to spread them out.
Josh: They’ve got x column inches to fill, right? They’re going to fill them no matter what.
Donna: Yes.
Josh: So if we give them one story, that story’s x column inches.
Donna: And if we give them five stories…

That’s it.  I hereby pronounce a moratorium on all Aaron Sorkin references.  This is not a prime time soap.  It’s an election.  And we should be able to cover it without leaning on “The West Wing.”

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| posted in media, politics, pop culture | 2 Comments

29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
12:50 pm

Live Blogging the Palin Announcement


12:22  McCain not using teleprompter.  Intentional or it’s broken?  I think the latter former.

12:23  Emphasizing Palin’s anti-corruption props, executive experience, bipartisanship and compassion.

12:24  Are there hecklers?  Part of the audience making noise inappropriately.

12:24  “Grew up in a decent middle class home.”  Shot at Obama?

12:25  High school point guard.  Yep, it’s Palin

12:25  He just played the PUMA card:  suffrage.

12:26  Creepy smile is making its appearance.

12:27  Doesn’t put anyone ahead of the oath she swore?  If so, why did she accept McCain’s offer?

12:28  Here we go.  He names her, crowd goes nuts.

12:28: Family with her, including an au pair or nanny holding her 3-mo old baby.

12:30  Kind of a wierd non-chemistry betwee the two.  Never looked at each other, shook hands.  Okay, now McCain gives her a kiss on the cheek.

12:33  Plays the son going to Iraq card.  Biden didn’t do that.  I think Biden’s move was classier.

12:34  Trying to keep in mind that this is a historic moment, even if it the Republicans.  And first Prez/VP candidate with a blue-collar spouse.  Will he be able to handle the heat?

12:35  Telling her story.  Focusing on corruption.

12:35  Her speech is truly workmanlike.  Making me realize that Obama’s speech last night really was a thing of beauty.

12:36  Sending revenue back — isn’t that socialism?  Heh.

12:38  Now getting into meat of story:  People of America expect us to serve for the right reasons.  That means challenging status-quo.  “Serve with a servant’s heart.”  That’s a bit of code for the Christian base, I think.

12:39  This is a moment when principles matter more than the party line.  Then why pick someone who appeals to the base?

12:40  “My running mate” makes it sound like she’s the Pres and McCain is VP.

12:40  She’s one tough cookie.  Democrats better not underestimate her.

12:41  Just noticed she’s using a teleprompter.  confirms that that McCain didn’t.

12:41  She just said nucular.  Heh.

12:42  Profiles in courage — linking McCain to Kennedy.  Interesting tactic.

12:43  Is playing the PUMA card:  Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton.

12:44  Given the fact that the glass ceiling is the presidency, doesn’t shattering it require electing a woman president?

12:45  McCain looks uncomfortable.  And is he looking at her butt?

12:45  Again, not much chemistry.  Not standing together, no arms around each other.  Kind of weird.

In sum, Palin did a nice job.  The Democrats definitely should not underestimate her.  And I found it interesting that her emphasis was not on base issues, but rather an appeal to PUMAs and independents.  The Democrats need to get Hilllary out soon to reject her.  But what will Ferraro do?

I think the chemistry issue is one to watch.  McCain just doesn’t look like he’s having much fun.

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29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:30 am

Palin: Why Can’t Biden Be Tough in the Debate?


So the media are pounding the idea that Biden can’t be as forceful in debating Palin as he could have been with one of the guys?  Two points:

  1. Nobody said this when Hillary and Barack debated.
  2. This is pretty insulting to Palin.  If she’s as tough as everyone is saying she is, I have a hard time seeing why Biden wouldn’t go head to head against her just as ferociously as he would anyone else.

Democrats have to be careful not to fall into this trap.  Palin could be a formidable opponent, and would become even more so should the Democrats condescend.

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29 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:45 am

Palin: Kinda Blows the “Is He Ready” Argument


NBC is now confirming Palin.

One of the core themes that the Obama campaign has been hitting over and over again is that Obama is not “ready to lead,” that yes, he’s a celebrity but he isn’t prepared to be commander-in-chief.

Sarah Palin has been governor of one of the smallest (in terms of population) in the Union.  She’s been governor for roughly 18 months.  And before that, she was mayor of Wasilla, a suburb of Anchorage with a population of about 8500.

Here’s part of her Wikipedia biography:

Brought to statewide attention because of her whistleblowing on ethical violations by state Republican Party leaders,[1] she won election in 2006 by first defeating the incumbent governor in the Republican primary, then a former Democratic Alaskan governor in the general election. . . .

Palin served two terms on the Wasilla City Council from 1992 to 1996. In 1996, she challenged the incumbent mayor, criticizing wasteful spending and high taxes.[5] The ex-mayor and sheriff tried to organize a recall campaign, but failed.[5] Palin kept her campaign promises, reducing her own salary, as well as reducing property taxes 60%.[5] She ran for reelection against the former mayor in 1999, winning by an even larger margin.[5][14] Palin was also elected president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors.[11] In 2002, Palin made an unsuccessful bid for Lieutenant Governor, coming in second to Loren Leman in a four-way race.

One other point:  according to Wikipedia, Palin’s oldest son, Track, will deploy to Iraq this fall.  This means that both VP candidates will have sons going to Iraq this fall.

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28 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
08:45 pm

A Little Pre-Speech Levity


Because there’s no bad time to bash the dillweeds at Fox News.

Hat tip:  Undip reader Bob

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28 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
05:30 pm

Repeat after Me: John. McCain. Is. Not. A. Hero.


Memo to Joe Biden:  please stop calling John McCain a hero.  He’s not a hero.  At least not anymore.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines hero as” a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities; one that shows great courage.”

McCain certainly showed great courage during his time as a POW.  No one can deny he is a torture survivor. He has been willing to buck convention on a few occasions during his political career (though not as many as he would have you believe).  He has had his share of achievements.

But noble qualities?  I don’t think so.  McCain is so desperate to win this election that he has adopted the very tactics used to smear him in 2000 — the same tactics that he condemned as unworthy of him as recently as this spring.

He has put his days of courage and nobility behind him.  He has embraced the very people he once condemned as agents of intolerance and avatars of hatred.

He’s just another politician now, no different from those he used to denounce.  No matter what the cost to his reputation, he has chosen to practice deceit, use deception, and encourage disillusionment — all in order to win an election.

That’s not a hero.  That’s a sellout.

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28 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
04:30 pm

The Wit and Wisdom of Tim Pawlenty


I wish I was making this up:

[My wife] loves football, she’ll go to hockey games and, I jokingly say: Now, if I could only get her to have sex with me.”

And Joe Biden is gaffe-prone?

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28 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
12:45 pm

Yesterday’s Best Speech


If you missed it — and if you were watching the twitworks or the cabletubes, you probably did — John Kerry gave the best speech last night.  Better than Bill Clinton and even better than Joe Biden.  And of course, because it was John Kerry, nonoe of the networks covered it — instead they switched to their usual gang of idiots so that we could learn just how wonderful Bill’s speech was.

Kudos to TPM for grabbing it off C-Span and putting it on YouTube.  As Josh Marshall says, “do yourself a favor and set aside 13:13 to watch it.”

It’s too bad that Kerry never gave this speech four years ago — it may have been a game-changer.

Well, maybe not.  But it’s pretty amazing nonetheless.

Hat tip:  Josh Marshall

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27 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:21 pm

Thought for the Moment (Biden)


He literally avoided saying literally in his speech.  And that literally was a good thing.

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27 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:04 pm

New Thread: Republican VP Speculation


Now that Biden has given his speech, a nation turns its lonely eyes to John McCain.

Yes, I know Barack still has to speak tomorrow, but remember also what McCain promised:  that he’d announce his VP choice at a rally in Ohio on Friday.

If that’s true, we have less than 48 hours to go.  And we’ve seen nothing like the speculation frenzy surrounding Obama’s choice of Biden.

Meanwhile, CNN is reporting that McCain has made his choice, and MSNBC is reporting it’s not Mittens.

So who’s it going to be?  Who do you want?  Who is the Democrats’ worse nightmare?

The thread is open.

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27 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:01 pm

Live Blogging the Biden Acceptance Speech


10:33  Opening stuff on kids, wife, etc.  pretty great.  Liked the line on his wife leaving him speechless.

10:35  Great line about Cheney.  Too bad the audience treated it as a laugh line.

10:36  Section on his mom is great.  She must be a terrific broad.

10:40  His Freudian slip could be the seed of a great idea.  Call him George W. McCain

10:41  Biden’s comments on Obama are great.  This is the guy to tell Obama’s story.

10:41  150?  150 thousand?  Whoopsie.

10:43  Nice transition to McCain.  Great mention of Amtrak but most people won’t get it.

10:44  “That’s not change, that’s more of the same.”

10:46 “Times require more than a good soldier, they need a wise leader.”  Nice.  Crowd is attentive, enthusiastic even, but not on fire.

10:47  Time for foreign policy section.  Bush has dug us into a very deep hole with few friends to help us get out.

10:48  Oy vey.  What’s with the hard line on Russia? Did they focus group this and find out MCCain position is more popular?

10:49  Whose judgment do you trust?

10:50  “John McCain is wrong and Barack Obama is right.”  Nice contrasts.  Now mention torture, damnit.

10:52  Time to get back up together.  Like it

10:52  Emphasis on values, but what about all the things that Bush Administration has done to undermine those values?

Good speech.  Surprised that audience wasn’t more responsive.  Now will Barack show up?  He’s supposed to.  Ah there he is.

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