Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sarah Palin's National Security Credentials

John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as vice-presidential running mate is proving more shrewd by the hour. As Blackfive points out, Governor Palin, as Alaska's chief executive, has shared strategic command of the 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard:


One area of Sarah Palin's background that may help her is Alaska's unique role in our national security and homeland defense. Several folks have have mentioned this but Tom W. was specific and his info jibes with the record.

Alaska is the first line of defense in our missile interceptor defense system. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard is the unit that protects the entire nation from ballistic missile attacks. It’s on permanent active duty, unlike other Guard units.

As governor of Alaska, Palin is briefed on highly classified military issues, homeland security, and counterterrorism. Her exposure to classified material may rival even Biden's.

She's also the commander in chief of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF), a federally recognized militia incorporated into Homeland Security's counterterrorism plans.

Palin is privy to military and intelligence secrets that are vital to the entire country's defense. Given Alaska's proximity to Russia, she may have security clearances we don't even know about.

According to the Washington Post, she first met with McCain in February, but nobody ever found out. This is a woman used to keeping secrets.

She can be entrusted with our national security, because she already is.
This really is too much!

Barack Obama would kill to have had that much access to classified defense information as a member of the U.S. Senate!

Meanwhile, the radical left contingents are mucking themselves up with more
sexist allegations and totally unhinged anti-Palin smears.

Of course, both
rigorous polling data and home town reactions indicate that the Obama campaign's treading water on the eve of the Republican National convention. Note though, with Hurricane Gustav bearing down on the Gulf Coast, the Republicans plan to scale back first-day convention activities. Plus, the Bush adminstration and Senator McCain will focus their attention on protecting people in the storm's path. A successful response to the storm raises the possibility of a boost in public relations, which will help innoculate the GOP from Democratic attacks on Republican incompetence following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The whole episode, handled well, will allow the McCain camp the opportunity to burnish its image of putting people first.

Obama Gets No Polling Bounce from Denver!

I took Zogby's numbers yesterday on John McCain leading Barack Obama 47 to 45 percent in the presidential horse race with a grain of salt. Zogby uses some funky panel sampling methodology, which raises reliability issues with his findings.

CNN's new survey shows a statistical dead heat, with McCain trailing Obama by just one point in the general election matchup, 49 to 48 percent:

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Sunday night shows the Obama-Biden ticket leading the McCain-Palin ticket by one point, 49 percent to 48 percent, a statistical dead heat.

The survey was conducted Friday through Sunday, after both the conclusion of the Democratic convention and McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.

A previous CNN poll, taken just one week earlier, suggested the race between Sens. McCain, R-Arizona, and Obama, D-Illinois, was tied at 47 percent each.

“The convention — and particularly Obama's speech — seems to be well-received. And the selection of Sarah Palin as the GOP running mate, also seems to be well-received. So why is the race still a virtual tie? Probably because the two events created equal and opposite bounces — assuming that either one created a bounce at all,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
I predicted so much in my earlier entry, "Obama Will Get No Post-Denver Polling Bounce," which was based the expectation of a continuing Obama pre-convention polling collapse, as well as the likely impact of the McCain campaign's aggressive early veep announcement rollout (which has had a more phenomenal impact than anyone could have imagined).

Cheney Vice Presidency Provides Model for McCain-Palin

A joke going around, following Sarah Palin announcement as John McCain's running mate, is that the Alaska Governor's a great pick for vice president - she's a better shot than Dick Cheney.

Thus with all the attention to Palin's experience for the job,
today's New York Times piece on Vice President Cheney's last months in office provides some perspective on the question of experience in the No. 2 spot.

Cheney's been at the top levels of Washington politics for nearly 40 years. As one who's pushed the institutional boundaries of the office more than any vice president before him, it's interesting that Cheney sees the job as primarily advisory:

Mr. Cheney has ... fundamentally reshaped ... the vice presidency. Fueled by a belief in a strong presidency and American hegemony, and with the help of a president, George W. Bush, who gave him an extraordinarily free hand, he has stretched the limits of the job in ways his predecessors could not have imagined....

But on Jan. 20, 2009, after a career in Washington that has spanned four decades, the 67-year-old vice president will have a new job description: retired. As Mr. Cheney prepares to make the transition to private citizen, a portrait is emerging of a man who is unapologetic, even defiant, but also thinking about his legacy and perhaps confronting the limits of his own power....

“My job as vice president is as an adviser,” Mr. Cheney said. “I don’t run anything. I’m not — it’s not like being secretary of defense when I had four million people working for me.” This comes as no surprise to those who have heard him say the Pentagon job was his favorite. He spoke of “the understandings” he reached with President Bush, that this would be no ordinary vice presidency.

“And he’s been absolutely true to his commitment to me,” Mr. Cheney said, “which was I’d have an opportunity to be a major participant in the process, to be part of his government, to get involved in whatever issues I wanted to get involved in.
With this in mind, critics of McCain's judgment in selecting Sarah Palin might consider widening their gaze a bit.

The Alaska Governor's being lauded as epitimizing the anti-establishment reform zeal shaking the electorate this year. Palin obviously lacks national security credentials like Cheney's. But with a personal history as a trailblazing small-government reformer
who's felled far-more experienced political giants in her path, Palin complements McCain's "maverick" identity with populist reinventing-government moxie (one of her first acts after taking office was to sell the governor's jet on eBay), while simultaneously bringing considerable expertise on questions of energy policy and the environment (she chaired the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, resigning the office in protest against Randy Ruedrich, Alaska's state Republican Party chairman who Palin alleged was moonlighting as a fellow oil commissioner at taxpayers' expense).

Palin's assets as a rising star in conservative politics, her frontier family values, and her own energy, fitness, and lust for life have thrown the entire left-wing political establishment off guard.

Elite, mainstream blogs have latched onto the leftosphere's conspiracies over the alleged Palin "baby cover up," and every other conceivable leftist double-standard has been deployed in breathless attacks against her, from incest to infidelity to indifference to the care of her children.

The more this goes on, the more clear it becomes that McCain made absolutely
the best vice-presidential selection possible.

Sarah Palin Alters Election Dynamics

The political world remains abuzz this morning over the impact of John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate.

Palin appeared confident and poised in accepting her nomination Friday in Dayton, Ohio (below), and
the GOP's conservatives base is absolutely ecstatic with the pick.

CNN reports that Palin's pick is an electoral game-changer:

The McCain campaign calls her a "tough executive who has demonstrated" readiness to be president. The Republican National Committee calls her a "conservative star with the talent, energy and family support necessary to carry out common sense policies."

But the Obama campaign calls her a candidate with "the thinnest foreign policy experience in history" who is "currently under investigation in her own state." And one of the Senate's top Democrats, Charles Schumer, said that although she is "a fine person, her lack of experience makes the thought of her assuming the presidency troubling."

What do we know about Sarah Palin, the 44-year-old first-ever female governor of Alaska, wife and mother of five, and now GOP vice presidential nominee?

On Friday, a new part of her identity dominated the political scene: game-changer.

She enters an already historic election, knowing well two of the biggest things McCain needs her to do: shore up votes among social conservatives and win over disaffected Hillary Clinton-supporting Democrats, many of them women.
Social conservatives are already on board, so what's up with the gender vote? Certainly many will find the Palin pick a condescending appeal to women (many of whom may not warm to Palin's frontier family values), but Gallup reports that Palin may help McCain win over white women independents:

White Republicans overwhelmingly support McCain over Obama, and that doesn't differ meaningfully by gender. White Democrats overwhelmingly support Obama, and that too doesn't vary by gender. But there is a big swing in support by gender among independents -- individuals who in response to an initial party identification question say they do not identify with either party. White male independents go strongly for McCain, by a 16-point margin, while white female independents are evenly divided, 41% for Obama and 42% for McCain. This represents a 15-point swing by gender in candidate support.
The Gallup data offer a promising line of appeal for the GOP, and if the extreme reaction to Palin on the left is any indication, it's clear that the Democrats willl have their hands full trying to keep not only their momentum coming out of Denver, but their monopoly on change as well.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Inverse Power of the Palin Pick

The brilliance of John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as running mate can be measured by the inverse proportion of the reaction her nomination has generated. The "less experienced" she's alleged to be, the more intense the reaction against her.

I'd thought I'd heard most of the potential avenues of attack, but the Politico reports that experts on the presidency are focusing on the presumed thinness of Palin's resume:

John McCain was aiming to make history with his pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and historians say he succeeded.

Presidential scholars say she appears to be the least experienced, least credentialed person to join a major-party ticket in the modern era.

So unconventional was McCain’s choice that it left students of the presidency literally “stunned,” in the words of Joel Goldstein, a St. Louis University law professor and scholar of the vice presidency. “Being governor of a small state for less than two years is not consistent with the normal criteria for determining who’s of presidential caliber,” said Goldstein.

“I think she is the most inexperienced person on a major-party ticket in modern history,” said presidential historian Matthew Dallek.

That includes Spiro T. Agnew, Richard Nixon’s first vice president, who was governor of a medium-sized state, Maryland, for two years, and before that, executive of suburban Baltimore County, the expansive jurisdiction that borders and exceeds in population the city of Baltimore.

It also includes George H.W. Bush’s vice president, Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle, who had served in the House and Senate for 12 years before taking office. And it also includes New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who served three terms in the House before Walter Mondale chose her in 1984 as the first female candidate on a major-party ticket.

“It would be one thing if she had only been governor for a year and a half, but prior to that she had not had major experience in public life,” Dallek said of Palin. “The fact that he would have to go to somebody who is clearly unqualified to be president makes Obama look like an elder statesman.”
Obama an "elder statesman"?

Captain Ed ripped such thinking to shreds in responding to attacks that go like this: "Why would he put a small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?"

This is a real laugher. By the same logic, why would the Democrats make a state legislator the actual president? The answer is that Obama is a U.S. Senator of three years experience, and Palin is a governor of 20 months’ experience. Only Barack Obama has spent two of those three years not in the Senate doing his job but running for President. Before starting his bid, he had a grand total of less than 150 days in session in the Senate. Palin, on the other hand, has run her state for more than triple that time.

And let’s remember that Obama is running for the top job, while Palin’s running for VP.
But note something else that's been overlooked so far: Palin was the regulatory commissioner of Alaska's oil industry, a tenure that not only elevated her stature as a rising star in state politics, but gives her unrivaled expertise on arguably the top inter-mestic issue of the campaign: energy politics.

Palin's got another key asset:
She's faced harsh criticism of inexperience previously, when she ran for governor in 2006. She not only emerged victorious, but she crushed two veterans of Alaskan politics in the process: in the primary she beat incumbent Governor Frank Murkowski, who had been a member of the U.S. Senate for 22 years, and she defeated former Democratic Governor Tony Knowles in the general election, who had served previously in the Alaska statehouse for eight years.

Today, Palin is the most popular governor in the United States.

In tapping Sarah Palin, John McCain could hardly have done anything more powerful in firing up the GOP conservative base. Indeed, Jonathan Martin, who has covered the Republican nominating contests all year, confesses:

I have never seen a crowd with the energy that I witnessed yesterday at the Erwin Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio.
Palin is going to wow the delegates at next week's GOP national convention in Minneapolis. Once she delivers her acceptance speech, it won't be just conservative activists who are absolutely ecstatic about the phenomenal nomination of Alaska's Governor to be the next Vice President of the United States.

The Left is Scared to Death of Sarah Palin

Since John McCain announced the selection of Sarah Palin as running mate, the masses of the Democratic Party's hard left have been jumping over themselves to smear the Alaska Governor with vicious innuendo and ugly untruths.

Friday's initial water-cooler chatter alleged that "
McCain and Palin must be sleeping together." Then some ridiculed and twisted Palin's comments on the responsibilities of the vice president. This morning the wackos at Daily Kos are alleging that Palin's son, Trig, was actually born to her teenage daughter, and thus the Governor's engaged in a "cover up."

I'm sure there are plenty more smears flying around the fever swamps of the leftosphere, but its noteworthy that
there's some speculation that even Barack Obama's official campaign may be behind an attack on Palin claiming that she favors gay marriage.

With this in mind,
William Kristol explains the left's utter terror at the rise to power of Sarah Palin:

A spectre is haunting the liberal elites of New York and Washington - the spectre of a young, attractive, unapologetic conservatism, rising out of the American countryside, free of the taint (fair or unfair) of the Bush administration and the recent Republican Congress, able to invigorate a McCain administration and to govern beyond it.

That spectre has a name - Sarah Palin, the 44-year-old governor of Alaska chosen by John McCain on Friday to be his running mate. There she is: a working woman who's a proud wife and mother; a traditionalist in important matters who's broken through all kinds of barriers; a reformer who's a Republican; a challenger of a corrupt good-old-boy establishment who's a conservative; a successful woman whose life is unapologetically grounded in religious belief; a lady who's a leader.

So what we will see in the next days and weeks--what we have already seen in the hours after her nomination--is an effort by all the powers of the old liberalism, both in the Democratic party and the mainstream media, to exorcise this spectre. They will ridicule her and patronize her. They will distort her words and caricature her biography. They will appeal, sometimes explicitly, to anti-small town and anti-religious prejudice. All of this will be in the cause of trying to prevent the American people from arriving at their own judgment of Sarah Palin.
Kristol continues, suggesting that Palin's opening remarks upon being selected as running mate left even those "not predisposed to support her" in awe of the Alaska Governor's composure and powerful presence.

It's not surprising, then,
that Rasmussen finds 53 percent of the public viewing Palin favorably (and note that just 43 percent viewed Joe Biden favorably upon his selection as Barack Obama's running mate).

Palin's favorables were stronger among men, which moved a radical feminsit blog to make allegations of sexism, claiming that "men are feeling positive toward her because they are attracted to her."

So, the Democrats' general election
smear campaign is off to a roaring start already, and the GOP's not even begun its convention to formally nominated its own candidates.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Beehive Bombshell is McCain's Secret Weapon!

I awoke close to 8:00am this morning and the news of John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as running mate was already being announced on the cable networks.

I have to admit complete surprise at the news. While I've been thinking over the full implications of the pick all day, the initial totality of my cluelessness - and my sense of McCain's brilliance in making Palin his veep selection - left me marveling at the tight spit-and-polish organization that went into the announcement. I've been consumed, of course, with news of the party conventions and partisan politics all year, and I can't recall a single recent suggestion in the maintream press that Palin was being considered for the post. This is a phenomenally well-choreographed rollout.

The beautiful, beehived Sarah Palin is John McCain's secret weapon!

there's lots of analysis of Palin's assets and liabilities for McCain's election prospects, but upon listening to the cable talking-heads this morning, and especially after hearing Palin's speech accepting her spot on the ticket, tapping the Alaska Governor looks to be a near-perfect vice-presidential selection.

Palin's pick, first of all, wipes out Obama's monopoly on the "change" issue. The Alaska Governor will be only the second woman in American history to run on a major-party ticket for the presidency. In a year when enthusiasm runs high on the Democratic side, Palin's pick will dramatically siphon attention away from left of the spectrum. Indeed, with Obama's selection of 35-year congressional veteran Joe Biden, it's the McCain camp that's better positioned to bring "change to" Washington.

A good reason for this is Palin's record as a small-g conservative and a fighter against government waste, corruption, and high taxes. She's achieved
individual tax relief in the state, sued the Bush administration to block the federal listing of polar bears as a threatened species, and she's taken a populist line on big oil companies operating in Alaska, while leading the movement for domestic drilling and the construction of a natural gas pipeline in her state.

Palin's also an extraordinary asset on social conservatism and small-town family values. She's a mother of five from a frontier state, a lifetime member of the NRA who enjoys hunting and fishing, and her outdoorsman husband's a champion snow-machine racer. Most powerfully, Governor Palin is pro-life, both ideologicaly and practically. The Palins' baby boy, Trig, just four-months old, was diagnosed with Downs syndrome during pregancy. Unlike the 80 percent of families that terminate such pregnancies, the Palins said they've been blessed with the opportunity to raise an "absolutely perfect son."

In the Alaska statehouse, Governor Palin signed into law the "Haven for Infants Act," which allows the safe surrender of an unwanted baby to caring hands. Barack Obama, by contrast,
helped kill Illinois' "Born Alive Infant Protection Act," which sought to prevent babies delivered after failed abortions from being left to die in soiled-linen closets.

Palin is already
being criticized as inexperienced, and she'll be attacked as a lightweight on national security. This is fair game, but it appears that McCain's gone with change over experience, and Palin's critics will not be able to use the GOP chicken hawk slur against her: Track Palin, Governor Palin's 18-year-old son, enlisted in the Army on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and is now being deployed to Iraq. And as her state's chief executive, Governor Palin has taken great care to be involved with the decisionmaking and maintainence of Alaska's National Guard units.

Not only that, the experience question can quickly be turned into the asset of outsider status, and given Obama's shallow resume, by hammering Palin on inexperience, he'll only end up highlighting his own.

In other words, John McCain made an inspired choice in selecting Sarah Palin as running mate: She's the beehived bombshell who's completely neutralized Barack Obama's theme of change in Washington.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Stealth Superstar of Mile High

Barack Obama, in his acceptance speech tonight at Invesco Field in Denver, demonstrated more powerfully than ever why he's the country's greatest public orator since Martin Luther King, Jr.

Obama at Invesco

Obama delivered his address to a crowd of roughly 85,000 people, and there's no gainsaying the Illinois Senator's decision to accept the nomination outdoors, turning what should normally be a insider's partisan rally into a town hall meeting for the masses. Barack Obama is America's incomparable political superstar.

Obama's speech was
less uplifting than combative, but he did what he had to do: He took aim at the Bush administration, and he tied John McCain to the last eight years of GOP rule with more than one pithy turn of phrase.

Speaking of the Republican National Convention next week in Minneapolis, Obama put McCain in the partisan crosshairs, warning against
four more years of the same:

This moment, this moment, this election is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive.

Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third.
Aside from all of his testy thrust and parry, tomorrow is another day in a campaign that will likely be neck and neck throughout the remainder of the election.

For all of his tough talk on national security - seen in his reminder that presidents like FDR and Kennedy kept the nation's security during the most dangerous of crises - Obama is in fact unlike earlier Democratic chief executives. He's less a Kennedy-esque Cold War fighter than he is a Carter-esque captive to the anti-Americanism of Iran (hostages) or the expansionism of Moscow (Afghanistan). Obama's toughness on national security amounts to nothing more than some blustery speech-making falsely claiming better judgment in America's ongoing wars, topped off with a few pictures of his grandfather in his army uniform during World War II. Of course, Obama's big-talk hits the pavement next week when McCain - the campaign's only war hero - reminds the country what it's really like to be tough in warfare

Obama, moreover, like Carter, is a malaise-mongerer.
The Democratic nominee spent time tonight telling stories of personal hardship and economic pain, of rising unemployment and collapsing home values, and of veterans sleeping on grates - but he did not mention today's new statistics on 2nd quarter GDP growth, which found the American economy expanding 3.3 percent from April through June. The United States is not suffering a recession, much less a 1930s-style depression. The Census Bureau reported statistics on growth in median household income for the third year in a row.

Most importantly, Obama's opening video, and speech vignettes of his family's values, paint a biographical picture deeply at odds with the totality of his upbringing. Frankly, at this point Obama appears more about propaganda than patriotism.
The National Review today compared Obama to a Soviet commissar in his efforts to silence researcher Stanley Kurtz by smearing him as a "slimy character assassin." Obama's got a lot to hide, and one Mile High makeover can't bury his past.

Further, in trying to sound substantive tonight (and avoid "changiness"), Barack Obama revealed that the 2008 Democratic Party seeks a return to the kind of big government liberalism not seen since the Great Society. As
Kimberley Strassel argues:

Substantively, Barack Obama's agenda would indeed result in the biggest expansion of government and income redistribution since LBJ. Not that voters would have picked that up in his acceptance speech last night. Democrats are instead pitching this program to Americans in terms that would make the Gipper proud.

Mr. Obama proposes one of the steepest tax increases in modern history, raising rates on personal income, capital gains, dividends and even death. The money Mr. Obama takes from taxpaying Americans he would hand to nontaxpaying Americans in the form of "refundable" tax credits. This is called a "tax hike" and "income redistribution" -- even in the Harvard economics department. And given Mr. Obama's concern with "inequality," you'd assume he'd be proud of it.

Instead, Mr. Obama is careful to declare these new government handouts a "tax cut for the middle class." Joe Biden, in his own nomination speech, stole a favorite Republican talking point, claiming Mr. Obama's dizzying array of tax credits would in fact "reform our tax code." And the Obama team likes to reassure voters his higher capital-gains and dividend tax rates would still be less than those under (can you guess?) Ronald Reagan.

The Illinois senator would create a new "universal" health-insurance plan, which in its size and scope would be the largest government entitlement since Johnson's Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The ultimate goal (as Mr. Obama has hinted) is to pull ever more Americans under the government-health umbrella, until such time as Democrats can kill off private insurance altogether. To hurry us toward "Medicare for All," the Obama plan imposes tough new regulations on insurance companies and big new taxes on business.
This is the message from the 2008 Democratic National Convention, concluded with a flourishing finale from Mile High, delivered by Barack Obama, the superstar of stealth liberalism.

Congratulations Senator Obama!

John McCain's running a congratulatory ad buy tonight during Barack Obama's acceptance speech at INVESCO Field in Denver:

Here's the text:

“Senator Obama, this is truly a good day for America. Too often the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed. So I wanted to stop and say, congratulations. How perfect that your nomination would come on this historic day. Tomorrow, we’ll be back at it. But tonight Senator, job well done.”
This is a great day in history, and Obama's breakthrough is in some respects a culmination of his own search for identity, and America's as well:

Four years ago, Barack Obama introduced himself to America by painting a picture of a country that was united, somehow, in spite of itself.

The pundits, he said in the keynote address to the Democratic convention, like to "slice and dice" the country: red states for Republicans, blue states for Democrats.

"But I've got news for them too: We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach Little League in the blue states, and yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states."

His task that night was to ready the crowd for the presidential nominee, John F. Kerry, but in the end his words were most memorable for an argument that challenged the partisan divide and was built on the foundation of his own unique story. Since then, it's become a familiar element of his speeches. His father was from Kenya and his mother from Kansas.

But it's more complicated than that.

Abandoned by his father, separated for long periods from his mother, Obama searched for many years to find his identity. He was caught between love and loyalty to his white family and respect and an inchoate sense of belonging to the African American community.

He eventually learned to navigate between black and white worlds, a skill that would play well in the political arena. He earned a reputation as a pragmatist and a consensus builder, and along the way raised the bridges that would sustain his ambition.

On the campaign trail this year, he is both a political and cultural phenomenon. For some, he represents a new beginning for the nation. For others, he is inexperienced, merely lucky, even a fairy tale. Underlining it all is a historic prospect: He would be the first black president of the United States.

Race has been the steady undertow of his candidacy -- and of his life.

As he paraphrased William Faulker this March in a landmark speech on race: "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past."
For all of my criticism of Barack Obama, readers should never forget that I deeply respect him, and in him I see some of the challenges of my own experiences.

I've been teaching all day today, four classes of American government. I've extolled the magic significance of Obama's address coming 45 years after Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

I have suggested to my students, however, that Obama cannot dwell on racial recrimination. He can't refuse to acknowledge the phenomenal progress in civil rights that permits him to take the stage tonight in accceptance of his epochal achievement. He cannot sound aggreived. He needs to assure people not only that he shares their values, but that he respects their judgment. Obama, most of all, needs to make the case that he's up to the grave leadership responsibility that comes with occupancy of the White House.

If he can't do all of that, if he instead continues with the ethereal speechmaking and uplift that has been both a hallmark and source of criticism of his campaign, he may fail to rejuvenate the momentum that brought him and our nation to this moment in history. He needs, simply, to recover the magic that Americans witnessed July 27, 2004, during
Obama's keynote address the Democratic Convention in Boston.

Rekindling that feeling of confidence and refreshment must be the product of this year's Democratic gathering in Denver.

Obama Remains Weak on Leadership, Poll Finds

While the new Gallup tracking numbers find Barack Obama benefitting from media coverage of the Democratic National Convention, Obama still lags behind presumptive GOP nominee John McCain on leadership credibility:

McCain has an edge over Barack Obama in the public's eyes as a strong and decisive leader, and McCain is also significantly more likely to be viewed as able to handle the job of commander in chief. These facts underscore an area of weakness for Obama that McCain has attempted to exploit in recent campaign ads, and that Obama could in theory fruitfully address in his high-visibility acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night.

The latest USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted Aug. 21-23, asked Americans to indicate whether a list of characteristics and qualities best fit Obama or McCain....

McCain is significantly ahead on a single, but important, dimension: "is a strong and decisive leader." Not coincidentally, this has been a key focus in recent McCain attack ads against Obama. (Despite the ads, there has been almost no change since mid-June in perceptions of who is the better leader.)

A separate set of questions included in the recent poll asked respondents to indicate whether they believe Obama and McCain could "handle the responsibilities of commander in chief of the military."

Obama clearly operates at a decided perceptual deficit compared to McCain on this dimension. Eighty percent of Americans say McCain can handle the responsibilities of being commander in chief, compared to 53% for Obama. These views have not changed throughout the summer.

McCain's edge almost certainly reflects in part that he was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and an officer in the U.S. Navy for decades, while Obama did not serve in the military. It may also reflect the fact that McCain is older, has more experience in the U.S. Senate and federal government, and has taken a leading role in the Senate in many foreign policy issues, most notably the Iraq war. If these are the major underlying facts informing Americans' opinions about the candidates, then it is unclear to what extent Obama's rhetoric or McCain's campaign ads could change the existing perceptions.
Gallup suggests that if Obama does not attempt or succeed at changing Americans' views of his leadership qualities, he'll continue to suffer liabilities on a key dimension of voter preferences on November 4.

Note, too, an additional complication:
Pew Research indicates that the public knows little about Obama's substantive policy positions, so if in tonight's address Obama focuses on values and leadership at the expense of policy, his campaign will remain the netherland of uplifting "hope and change"( instead of the harder certainty of solutions to the country's problem). Conversely, belting out a policy-driven speech runs the risk of technocratic overload and of diluting the message of GOP incompetence that's driving the need for political transformation.

In other words, Obama's got a tall order in front of him at Mile High Stadium.

Avoiding an Invesco Fiasco for Barack Obama

Barack Obama's acceptance speech tonight at Denver's Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium represents the challenge of a lifetime.

The nominee's acceptance speech is the year's most anticipated campaign event before the post-Labor Day general election battle begins. For Obama, the stakes are the highest: He's not simply "the candidate of change" because of his biracial background. He's genuinely different in ideology and outlook than any presidential candidate before him. Doubts about his affinity to nation haven't gone away, because the more we learn of him, the more it seems he has something to hide..

Just last night, the Obama camp attacked National Review's Stanley Kurtz as a "slimy character assassin," putting pressure on Chicago's WGN radio station to cancel a planned appearance by Kurtz.
Ben Smith has the report:

The campaign e-mailed Chicago supporters who had signed up for the Obama Action Wire with detailed instructions including the station's telephone number and the show's extension, as well as a research file on Kurtz, which seems to prove that he's a conservative, which isn't in dispute. The file cites a couple of his more controversial pieces, notably his much-maligned claim that same-sex unions have undermined marriage in Scandinavia.

"Tell WGN that by providing Kurtz with airtime, they are legitimizing baseless attacks from a smear-merchant and lowering the standards of political discourse," says the email, which picks up a form of pressure on the press pioneered by conservative talk radio hosts and activists in the 1990s, and since adopted by Media Matters and other liberal groups.

"It is absolutely unacceptable that WGN would give a slimy character assassin like Kurtz time for his divisive, destructive ranting on our public airwaves. At the very least, they should offer sane, honest rebuttal to every one of Kurtz's lies," it continues.
Sean Wilentz, at Newsweek, criticizes Obama from the left, saying that the Illinois Sentor's not made the case for an acceptable liberalism, in the mold of the great Democratic presidents of the 20th century:

Much of Obama's appeal to the left stems from what might be called the romance of the community organizer. Although his organizing career on Chicago's South Side was brief and, by his own admission, unremarkable, it distinguishes him as another first of his kind in presidential politics, a candidate who looks at politics from the bottom up. For the left, community organizing trumps party politics and experience in government. Some even imagine that Obama is a secret radical, and they see his emergence as an unparalleled opportunity for advancing their frustrated agendas about issues ranging from the redistribution of wealth to curtailing U.S. power abroad.

Obama still has a long way to go to describe the kind of liberalism he stands for, how it meets the enormous challenges of the present—and how it will meet as-yet-unanticipated challenges after the election. Nowhere is this more crucial than in the harsh and volatile realm of foreign policy. Last winter, when his candidacy gained traction, Obama's foreign-policy credentials consisted almost entirely of a speech he gave before a left-wing rally in Chicago in 2002, denouncing the impending invasion of Iraq as "a dumb war." That speech, made by a state senator representing a liberal district that included the University of Chicago, and that went unreported in the Chicago Tribune's lengthy article on the rally, was enough to convince many of his supporters that he is blessed with superior acumen and good instincts about foreign affairs. Later comments, such as his promise, later softened, to meet directly and "without preconditions" with the leaders of Iran and other supporters of terrorism, pleased left-wing Democrats and young antiwar voters as a sign of boldness—even as they left experienced diplomats in wonder at such half-baked formulations.

Then, suddenly this summer, Russia attacked Georgia—and Obama's immediate reaction was to call for reasonableness and good intentions and urge both sides to show restraint and enter into direct talks. Unfortunately his appeal sounded almost like a caricature of liberal wishful thinking. It was left to his opponent, John McCain—whose own past judgments on foreign policy demand scrutiny—to declare right away the sort of thing that might have come naturally to previous generations of liberal Democrats (let alone to a conservative Republican): that "Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory." Beyond the matter of experience, beyond how thoroughly the two candidates had thought through the situation, the difference highlighted how Obama still lacks a comprehensive vision of international politics.

That Obama's record and statements have created any other impression cannot be ascribed only to his campaign's political skills and the news media's favor. Liberal intellectuals have largely abdicated their responsibility to provide unblinking and rigorous analysis instead of paeans to Obama's image. Hardly any prominent liberal thinkers stepped forward to question Obama's rationalizations about his relationship with his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. Instead, they hailed his ever-changing self-justifications and sometimes tawdry logic—equating his own white grandmother's discomfort in the presence of a menacing stranger with Wright's hateful sermons—as worthy of the monumental addresses of Lincoln. Liberal intellectuals actually could have aided their candidate, while also doing their professional duty, by pressing him on his patently evasive accounts about various matters, such as his connections with the convicted wheeler-dealer Tony Rezko, or his more-than-informal ties to the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, including their years of association overseeing an expensive, high-profile, but fruitless public-school reform effort in Chicago. Instead, the intellectuals have failed Obama as well as their readers by branding such questioning as irrelevant, malicious or heretical.

Can Obama, who lost the large industrial states in the primaries, deal with a troubled economy and become the standard bearer for the working and middle classes—the historic core of the Democratic Party that the last two Democratic candidates lost? Can the inexperienced candidate persuasively outline a new foreign policy that addresses the quagmires left by the Bush administration and faces the challenges of terrorism and a resurgent Russia? Can the less-than-one-term senator become the master of the Congress and enact goals such as universal health care that have eluded Democratic presidents since Truman? On these fundamental questions may hang the fate of Obama's candidacy. In the absence of a compelling record, set speeches, even with the most stirring words, will not resolve these matters. And until he resolves them, Obama will remain the most unformed candidate in the modern history of presidential politics.
I usually take Wilentz's analyses with a tablespoon of salt (he's a leading academic Bush-basher), but I'm pleasantly surprised with his take here.

I can say, though, that there's no gainsaying Obama's historic achievements, which are magnified tonight by the timing of his speech on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech of 1963.

Yet, if Obama fails to recognize that we have achieved much of Dr. King's dream of a Promised Land he risks turning the evening into a shaming festival rather than a call to recognize our nation's accomplishments while simultaneously defining an even higher purpose.

I'm confident Barack Obama is skilled enough to know this, and if he can make the sale for a real politics of unity, if he can return to his powerful message of post-partisan, post-racial transformation, he may well avoid the kind of weak performance that only leaves listeners hungering for more.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Barack Obama and the Right to Life

This video shows a protest against the Democratic Party abortion policies with a massive sign showing the message: "Destroys uNborn Children":

Also, at the Chicago Tribune, Dennis Byrne exposes the culture of death that characerizes the party's position on abortion, best represented by the revelations of Barack Obama's extremist views on the right to life:

Can we just listen to ourselves? We're debating whether some babies born alive have a right to medical attention....

Jill Stanek, a former nurse at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, described in 2001 during congressional testimony how it happens: In a "live-birth abortion," doctors "do not attempt to kill the baby in the uterus. The goal is simply to prematurely deliver a baby who dies during the birth process or soon afterward." Medication stimulates the cervix to open, allowing the baby to emerge, sometimes alive. "It is not uncommon for a live aborted baby to linger for an hour or two or even longer. At Christ Hospital, one . . . lived for almost an entire eight-hour shift." Some actually are born healthy because they are aborted to preserve the "health" of the mother, or because the pregnancy was due to rape or incest. At best, they are left in a "comfort room," complete with a camera (for pictures of the aborted baby) "baptismal supplies, gowns, and certificates, footprinting equipment and baby bracelets for mementos and a rocking chair," where they are rocked to death. "Before the comfort room was established," Stanek said, "babies were taken to the soiled utility room to die."

Yes, there ought to be a law against this, and Congress passed one unanimously. It declares that a person is defined as "every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development." Born alive means any human being that after "expulsion or extraction" from the mother "breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut, and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, Caesarean section, or induced abortion."

Pretty simple, right?

Well, not really. Some people fear that this fundamental protection, ensuring to all the first of the rights of "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness," is in reality a sneak attack on a woman's right to choose an abortion. To prevent this "Trojan horse," they insisted, and got, in the federal law a guarantee against construing the law to "affirm, deny or contract any legal status or legal right applicable to any member of the species homo sapiens at any point prior to being 'born alive'. . ." This mumbo jumbo is supposed to mean that abortions can't be restricted.

To mollify pro-choice concerns, including Obama's, this was inserted in several versions of the Illinois legislation. But it didn't matter, because the legislation died anyway, with Obama's help. Whether or not he refused to vote for a version that contained the right-to-an-abortion provision isn't what's important here. What is important is that Obama put the supposed and vague threat to an abortion right ahead of a real and concrete threat to the most innocent of human lives.

Obama's response to all this is to sidestep any discussion about when human personhood begins, the key question in the abortion debate. Some say it begins at the moment of conception; others say it begins at birth. (Still others look for a middle ground, suggesting it begins when brain activity starts.) But by arguing against the born-alive legislation because it might in some distant and ambiguous way obstruct abortion, Obama implies that the right to an abortion trumps an infant's right to life, even after he is born.

Such logic is breathtaking. It says that even after birth, a mother's right to rid herself of the baby supersedes any right that a child, now independent of the mother's body and domain, has a right to live. Where America stands on this issue truly is a measure of its sense of justice and compassion. On this score, Obama fails.
See also, "The Secret Life of Senator Infanticide."

Progressives Paint McCain as Angry American Warmonger

Desperation is building on the far-left at the realization that Barack Obama's nomination is turning out to be an unmitigated disaster for the Democratic Party's chances in November.

Note first the letdown among "
progressives" at the dreadful polling numbers for the Obama-Biden ticket this week. Chris Bowers and Tremayne, at the radical portal Open Left, express their frustration and helplessness at the fading likelihood of a post-convention bounce following this week's events in Denver. As Bowers laments:

I am feeling really frustrated today. I am sensing that something is wrong with this convention, and that there will be no bounce. I don't know exactly what we need to do to get a bounce, but I do know that we haven't done it yet.
Both bloggers search for explanations for declining Democratic fortunes (blaming, for example, an insufficient "populist message" or the inattention of the "traditional media" to the events).

Neither, naturally, engage is the kind of introspective analysis that might lead to the conclusion that Americans are burned out on "Obamania" and they're getting hip to "The One" and his oppositional combination of fringe extremism and mainstream policy superficiality.

Thus, it's no surprise that other "progressives" want to quit pussy-footing around and hit back at "Chimpy" and "McSame" with all they've got. For example, check out
Ilan Goldenberg at Democracy Arsenal:

John McCain has an ad up trying to scare the American people about Iran and saying Obama doesn't take the threat seriously enough. I think it's time to take the gloves off and paint McCain as the reckless and dangerous overeager warrior that he is.
Goldenberg continues with some unhinged anti-neocon conspiracy theorizing suggesting that McCain's "paranoia" will elevate every international event to another "Thirteen Days."

And then we have
Cernig at Newshoggers to top it all off with a deconstruction of "McCain's inner Ugly American":

It never was true of all Americans, but it certainly was true of some. But more and more, the phrase has come to be associated abroad with the mindset exemplified by the Bush administration these last eight years. Not just loud and pretentious about lands beyong American shores, oblivious to local nuance and complexities of culture - but pugnacious and belligerent about it too. And it doesn’t matter whether these Ugly Americans are home or abroad, their underlying attitude doesn’t change. (I write this as a European living in the U.S. - I’ve seen the Ugly American both at home and abroad.)

Bush, Rumsfield, Bremer, Bolton, the entire Kagan family, Podhoretz - Cheney, of course - and a slew of hard right pundits and bloggers. The right is filled with Ugly Americans right now, who simultaneously want to dictate how non-Americans will behave and to insist that only American interests matter, only what they want matters. It’s a mindset rooted in the ideology of American exceptionalism, with a hefty dose of Divine Mandate (code for “The White Man’s Burden” reset as a uniquely American one), leavened with fear of “the other”, but to perpetuate it requires ignorance, arrogance and a belief that all problems can be solved by using a bigger hammer.

Out of all the Ugly Americans of the modern hard Right, John McCain is rising as the star. His entire worldview is based not just upon American exceptionalism but upon McCain exceptionalism - “
Verb, Noun, P.O.W.
All of this impotence comes when the Democrats are supposed to be strolling to victory in the November election.

But it's not just frustration with the GOP or John McCain. This is the outrage of an anti-establishment radicalism, which evinces a loathing in a search for scapegoats: The "lamestream" media or the evil of "BusHitler," Halliburton, and the neocons!

The problem, of course, is not John McCain or any of the other usual suspects identified throughout these threads. The problem is Barack Obama and the Democrats' abject ideological bankruptcy that's preventing the party from offering anything remotely acceptable to the broad swath of the American electorate.

For example,
signs of progress in Iraq have left the progressives boxed-in and confused in a funk of surrender. The failure of the economy to collapse into deep recession removes from the Democrats a powerful economic cudgel with which to hammer GOP "incompetence." And polls show that Americans prefer health care simplification and reduced costs in medical provision, not the program of single-payer nationalization that the left envisions under an Obama administration.

But most of all, Americans tell pollsters that
Barack Obama does not share their values, that he's too risky and inexperienced for the office of President of the United States.

All of these facts force a paralysis on the leftists. They can't think outside of the neat boxes of demonization they've concocted for their enemies.

Barack Obama's one of them. He'll negotiate unconditionally with the enemies of the United States, and those of our allies. He'll seek denuclearization to weaken American national security, and he'll promote a postmodern sensibility on the country that will leave innocent babies to die in soiled-linen closets and one that befriends unrepentant domestic terrorists who now "teach" our children.

When that's all you've got, I suppose the desperation of pulling out the stops by painting the GOP candidate as an angry and reckless warmonger actually makes some sense.

University of Illinois at Chicago Releases Annenberg Files

The Chicago Tribune's report on the Daley Library's release of Barack Obama's Annenberg records is intiguingly titled: "Files Linking Obama to '60s Radical a Hot Commodity":

The University of Illinois at Chicago on Tuesday released more than 1,000 files detailing the activities of an education reform group in which both Barack Obama and former 1960s radical William Ayers played key roles.

The release of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge documents turned the sterile special collections room at the university's Daley library into a media frenzy. Television crews hovered at the room's entrance. Librarians scurried to copying machines to fulfill the requests of a roomful of reporters. Two security officers stood guard.

On a typical day, one or two scholars may conduct research there. The library director laughed when asked whether it has had security before.

A partial examination of the documents did not reveal anything startling about the link between Obama, the Democratic presidential contender, and Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground, a Vietnam-era anti-war group that claimed responsibility for several bombings. Ayers, who spent years in hiding, is now a UIC education professor.

The interest in the documents comes as supporters of Republican presidential candidate John McCain have questioned Obama's ties to Ayers. The Obama campaign this week countered by airing television commercials suggesting that McCain is stuck in the '60s.
Perhaps there's nothing "startling" in the files, according the Tribune's initial review, although the report mentions that "Obama and Ayers attended board meetings, retreats and at least one news conference together," a simple fact that puts the lie to Obama's claim that:

This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.
But the National Review has a deeper analysis of why Obama's Ayers connection matters:

Have you ever been a friend or business associate of a terrorist? Not someone who, to your shock and horror, turned out secretly to have bombed government buildings. No, the question is whether you’ve ever befriended an unreconstructed radical whose past was well known to you when you entered his orbit and walked through doors he opened for you. Have you been chummy with an unapologetic terrorist who, years after you’d known and worked closely with him, was still telling the New York Times he regretted only failing to carry out more attacks — and that America still “makes me want to puke”?

Barack Obama has.

An organization called the American Issues Project, backed by Dallas investor Harold Simmons, is running a campaign ad which highlights Obama’s troubling relationship with William Ayers. Ayers is a former member of the Weathermen terrorist organization that bombed the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol, various police headquarters, and other targets in the early 1970s....

Obama’s campaign has acknowledged that the candidate and Ayers are friends. Though Obama has more recently minimized Ayers as “just a guy who lives in my neighborhood,” it is clear that the relationship was much deeper than that. Ayers and his fellow-terrorist wife, Bernadine Dohrn (who has spoken admiringly of the infamous Manson Family murders), are icons in Chicago’s hard-left circles, to which Obama sought entrĂ©e as a young “community organizer.” In 1995, they hosted a fundraiser that helped launch his career in Chicago politics.

Ayers has never abandoned his indictment of America as an imperialist hotbed of racism and economic exploitation. He has merely shifted methods from violent extortion to academic indoctrination. Through his perch as a professor of education at the University of Illinois, he has been a ceaseless critic of the criminal-justice system (he is essentially opposed to imprisoning even the most violent criminals) and a proponent of what he calls “education reform” but what is actually the use of the classroom to proselytize for the Left’s political agenda.

Writing in the Chicago Tribune in 1997, Obama called A Kind and Just Parent, Ayers’ polemic on the Chicago court system, “a searing and timely account.” Michelle Obama, then a dean at the University of Illinois, invited Ayers to participate in a panel with her husband, then a state senator who, the program explained, was “working to block proposed legislation that would throw more juvenile offenders into the adult system.”

Obama apologists dismiss all this as “guilt by association” based on a single joint appearance. But it was far from the only one.

In fact, by 1997 Obama and Ayers were collaborators on a far more significant level. They sat together for several years on the board of the Woods Fund, a left-wing Chicago charitable organization. There, they doled out tens of thousands of dollars to such beneficiaries as the Trinity Church (where Obama was a longtime member and where another Obama mentor, Jeremiah Wright, preached a radical, anti-American brand of Black Liberation Theology) and the Arab American Action Network (co-founded by Rashid Khalidi, a Yasser Arafat apologist who has supported attacks against Israel and now directs Columbia University’s notorious Middle East Institute, founded by Edward Said).

Even more intriguing, in 1995 Ayers won a $49.2 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation — matched two-to-one by public and private contributions — to promote “reform” in the Chicago school system. He quickly brought in Obama, then all of 33 and bereft of any executive experience, to chair the board. With Ayers directing the project’s operational arm and Obama overseeing its financial affairs until 1999, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge distributed more than $100 million to ideological allies with no discernible improvement in public education.

Until this week, moreover, the University of Illinois at Chicago, where Ayers works, was blocking access to the project’s files (examination of which was being sought by frequent National Review contributor Stanley Kurtz), until finally relenting under public pressure. Less than three months from Election Day, analysis of the records from Barack Obama’s only significant executive experience is just beginning.

The mainstream media has been derelict on the Obama/Ayers relationship. Perhaps now, finally, it will get the scrutiny it deserves.
Obama's ill-advised relationship to Ayers raises questions of judgment that should be at the center of the national discussion on the Illinois Senator's qualifications to serve as President of the United States.

While the National Review doesn't address the topic in its editorial, the mainstream press has also been derelict in its inattention to
Obama's extremist positions on abortions and the right to life.

See also, Sister Toldjah, "
FactCheck: It’s the NRLC, not Obama, telling the truth on BAIPA."

See the additional analysis at Memeorandum.

Hillary Makes Good Start on 2012 Campaign

I admire Michael Barone, so I'm pleased that my analysis of Hillary Clinton's speech last night dovetails with Barone's analysis today, "Hillary Clinton's Speech Was a Good Start on Her 2012 Run":

Clinton's speech was carefully tailored, like the very attractive orange pants suit she wore. It was tailored to her need to speak directly to those who supported her, especially those unreconciled to Obama's nomination. It was laden with references to feminist advances—the Seneca Falls conference of 1848 got hearty applause, the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment was duly noted, Harriet Tubman was cited as advice to all (keep going). She saluted thereby her own persistence through the primaries and noted that America does not like a quitter. So much for those Obamaites who kept urging her to get out of the race.

My sense is that many of the women—at the convention and out in America—who are heartsick over Clinton's defeat and see it as somehow illegitimate are women of a certain age, like Hillary, women who made choices over and over again to do things they were told growing up they shouldn't do (live with a man before marriage, work outside the home after having children), women who are disappointed that the young women of today don't share their fervor and sense of outrage (because those women were never told not to do those things). An increasing percentage of mothers with children under 5 are choosing not to work outside the home. Michelle Obama, as
Danielle Crittenden notes, spoke on Monday night more as a wife and mother than as a career woman (and indeed quit her $321,000 job to campaign for her husband). The Hillary feminists sense that time has passed them by. Time and the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton addressed their grievances and gave them visibility and legitimacy.

In contrast, the argument for supporting Barack Obama was far more abstract. Clinton voters supported her because she could help those unfortunate souls out there (the requisite lugubrious stories follow). Barack Obama would help those unfortunate souls, and John McCain wouldn't, not at all. He'd just be four more years of George W. Bush. Ergo, logic requires you to support Barack Obama. But Clinton's affect was chilly, or at least seemed so to me; I could see the back of her head as she spoke from my press seats and could watch the Fox News feed on Chris Wallace's TV on the podium two rows in front of me. Yes, she smiled, but not a lot, and at moments when it was she (or her husband) she was spotlighting.

What was missing was much in the way of description of Barack Obama. What kind of man is he? One who supports the same positions she does. Has she looked deep into his heart and found something worthy? No evidence here that she had. Would he be a good commander-in-chief? Not a word on that, as the McCain campaign quickly and gleefully noted. Clinton can tell Obamaites that she made the case for Obama and brought the convention cheering to its feet. She can say that she told her supporters in the most explicit language possible to work hard for his election. She can make this claim whether he wins or (the more tantalizing case) he loses. In the latter case, she's made a good start on her own 2012 campaign. She'll be only 64 that year, the same age as George H. W. Bush when he was elected in 1988.
See also, Victor Davis Hanson, "Hil's Grand Strategy."

Michael Dukakis Emerges From Political Exile in Denver

Former Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis disappeared from the top echelons of the party establishment after his devastating loss to George H.W. Bush in 1988. I recall in 2004, during the Democratic Convention in Boston, where Senator John Kerry was being nominated, commentators still spoke of Dukakis as a disgraced loser who would not be on hand to address the delegates.

So it's interesting to see Dukakis reemerging from obscurity to attend this year's festivities in Denver. Katie Couric, in the video below, interviews Dukakis outside the Pepsi Center arena. The former Massachusetts Governor is apologetic for his loss in 1988, lamenting that he didn't combat the GOP attack-machine effectively. He says this year Obama's got to "fight fire with fire":

See also the background story on Dukakis' return at Scripps News Service, "Even Now, Dukakis Blames Himself for 1988 Blowout":

Twenty years have passed, but Michael Dukakis still kicks himself -- again and again and again.

Seven times in an hour-long chat, he brings up "mistakes" from that 1988 presidential election.

Twice, he flat-out admits that he "screwed it up." He wonders aloud whether he might have been naive. And, lest anybody still wonders who was to blame for his loss to Republican George H.W. Bush, Dukakis keeps repeating that the strategic decisions were "my fault, nobody else's."

Things just didn't work out the way the former Massachusetts governor had hoped. And this after what Dukakis considered a "great," "terrific," "unified," "positive" Democratic National Convention in Atlanta.

Turns out, a great political get-together just isn't enough, particularly if the presidential nominee forgets the most important part of a convention: The morning after.

After the last balloons drop, a presidential nominee has to start the campaign all over again. He has to be ready to fight back against attacks. And, Dukakis says from experience, those attacks are coming.

"What I would change obviously, and what you have to be aware of, is the final campaign is very different from the primary," Dukakis says, sitting in front of a vintage map of Denver at his daughter's stately home in the city's Country Club neighborhood. "You think you've addressed every issue under the sun. You try to do so in your acceptance speech. But it's a whole new ballgame, and you've got to begin, post-convention, as if the campaign has just begun."

After his upbeat convention in 1988, "I just kind of assumed, 'Look, it's just a continuation of what I've been doing: a very positive approach that so far seems to have done what I hoped it would," Dukakis says. "And anyway, that's the kind of guy I am, so we'll just kind of continue . . .' "

But it was a famous miscalculation. Dukakis wanted to stay positive. So he was slow to respond to some brutal attacks on his record, his positions and even his wife's reputation.

By the time he fought back, it was too late.

That's a painful lesson Democrats should never forget, Dukakis says. And it's clear that a sometimes "feisty" Sen. Barack Obama already has taken it to heart, he adds.

In Dukakis' view, any and all attacks have to be countered, swiftly and forcefully, he says. Or else, suffer his fate, a party's standard-bearer who ended up as one of those self-deprecating woulda, coulda, shoulda guys.
I think Dukakis is right to argue the best defense is a good offense, but in my mind his deadened, liberal technocratic ideology is what did him in, seen most infamously at the 1988 presidential debate where he told moderator Bernard Shaw that would not support the death penalty in response to the rape and murder of his wife, Kitty:

Dukakis can help the Democrats this year by reminding them that their soft-on-criminals eschatology had as much to do with their party's defeat 20 years ago as the GOP's well-justified attack strategy.