Palin

Back in June, I wrote that “Palin may be McCain’s best bet for VP.”

This is a bold, risky pick.

The up sides are that she is likable, solidly conservative, a woman who can peel off female voters, and and will add excitement to the ticket. It’s also a huge surprise that will crowd out the Obama speech coverage, and represents “change.”

The downsides are whether she’s ready, whether her relative inexperience will undermine McCain’s case against Obama. Also, recently she’s been embroiled in a controversy over whether she used her position as governor to fire a state trooper who was in a messy divorce with her sister.

Either way, this roll out was played brilliantly.

Obama’s Freudian Slip

DENVER — “If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from,” Barack Obama declared last night.

Talk about projection.

Accepting the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination before a crowd of roughly 80,000, Obama made a forceful case for change by arguing that the United States is far worse off at home and abroad than it was eight years ago and therefore, the nation must adopt new policies — his polices.

Over the course of the speech, Obama attacked John McCain for being too much like President Bush.

“The record is clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time,” Obama said.

He portrayed McCain as being out of touch with the plight of average Americans.

“It’s not because John McCain doesn’t care,” Obama said. “It’s because John McCain doesn’t get it.”

He criticized McCain for not doing more to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.

“Washington’s been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for 26 of them…” Obama told the crowd. “And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.”

Even though Obama suggested that McCain has been in Washington too long, he chose Joe Biden as his running mate, who has been there far longer.

Obama also blasted McCain for being all bluster.

“If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that’s his choice — but it is not the change we need,” Obama said.

While Obama launched an all-out assault on McCain and called for change, his nearly 4,700-word speech included just 79 words that could even vaguely be construed as him pointing to a record of actually bringing about change.

“I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming,” Obama forecasted, dipping into his vast reservoir of inexperience. “Because I’ve seen it. Because I’ve lived it. I’ve seen it in Illinois, when we provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare to work. I’ve seen it in Washington, when we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans and keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.”

Not only did Obama find little to say about his actual record, but in order to inoculate himself from accusations of embellishment, he had to qualify his statement by speaking of himself as a passive observer (“I’ve seen it”) and collectivizing the achievements (“we worked”).

With this speech, it has now become abundantly clear that Obama won’t make a serious attempt to argue that he has any real accomplishments. Instead, his campaign is banking on the fact that the desire for change is so deep, and the contempt for President Bush so fierce, that merely linking McCain to the administration and representing something different will be enough to put Obama over the top.

He could be right. As weak as a candidate as John Kerry was in 2004, he came just 18 electoral votes shy of becoming president at a time when the Republican brand name was in much better shape than it is now.

Obama was able to ride the change theme to victory in the Democratic primaries, even though he started out as the heavy underdog, so he has no reason to believe that it won’t work for him in the general election.

But next week, Republicans will have an opportunity to fight back, and they will have plenty of material. Unlike Obama, McCain does have a record to run on.

Quick Obama Take

DENVER — I’ll have more, but have to deal with evacuating Invesco right now. As anybody would have expected, it was a strong speech — an indictment of the Bush administration and John McCain’s support for those policies, and a case for the need for change. A case for a modest liberalism where people work hard, but government just ensures that they get rewarded for their work and oppourtunities are open for all. But what stuck out at me was this line: “If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone who people should run from.”

Obama just showed his hand. He has no record, and thus will hope that running against Bush by linking him to McCain will be enough. We shall see.

Debacle in Denver: Invesco Edition

DENVER — The decision by Barack Obama to relocate the Democratic National Convention into Invesco Field so he can deliver his acceptance speech before 80,000 people has resulted in massive confusion and long lines that have delegates steamed.

Just after 3 p.m. this afternoon (about five hours before Barack Obama took the stage), I boarded what I was told was a media bus that would take us to the designated media entrance at Invesco, but it turns out in addition to media, there were delegates to the convention on the bus. After about a ten minute drive, we ended up about a quarter mile away from the stadium, where a long line of thousands of people snaked around the sidewalks and pathways leading to the entrances.

“Do you want to get out here and walk to the end of the line or do you want to be dropped off at the end of the line?” a police officer who road with us on the bus asked.

That resulted in confusion, because both the media and delegates were informed that they would be allowed to enter separately. The people waiting in line had “community passes” given to Obama fans and members of the general public.

Several miffed delegates asked the officer if there were separate entrances. But he said he had no idea, that he was told there was only one line, and that we would have to wait with the tens of thousands of other people in the boiling heat. Then he let us off the bus and said, “Good luck.”

Along with about a half dozen frustrated delegates, I decided to just keep walking toward Invesco, hoping to find the right entrance — or at least somebody who knew something.

“This is totally disorganized,” one Connecticut delegate fumed. “They wanted to fill a stadium, now a lot of people are going to say it’s not worth it.”

Another delegate snapped.”They basically took a convention, and decided to throw an extra 60,000 people into it.”

After about a five minute walk, we came to an intersection, and approached a cop car. One of the women asked an officer if he new anything about other entrances. But he and his partner just shook their heads. “I’m sorry, the information flow here is more of a trickle.”

So we kept charging along, but eventually got to a place where we couldn’t walk any further without running into a fence and another massive line. Trying to walk past it, we were harassed by angry people who had been waiting for hours. “Hey buddy, there’s a line here!” one man barked at me.

What made the man from Connecticut particularly angry was that they told everybody to arrive early. “I bet if we waited until the last minute, we would have gotten in, no problem.”

So, I started to make some phone calls, starting with a superdelegate I know who is an elected Democratic politician. I asked him what the deal was. “I have no idea,” he told me. “They just said to get there early.”

Then I called the press office, which said there was, in fact, a press entrance, and they said I should just walk through the line, and tell a police officer. So I started to walk, before a guy in a green neon vest with “EVENT STAFF” printed on it stopped me and started yelling.

“If a police officer comes, he’s going to escort you to the back of the line,” he barked.

But I ploughed ahead, getting about 10 paces before I encountered a police officer. I explained my situation.

“There’s no media entrance,” he said. “I can’t let you through this line. I’m under strict orders from the Secret Service.”

After waiting about another 20 minutes, I finally came across a police officer who knew about the media entrance and who pointed me in the right direction — where I got to wait in another line, though a shorter one.

Waiting for Obama

I shot this about thirty minutes ago, where at 1 p.m. mountain time, or about seven hours before Barack Obama is scheduled to speak, people were already waiting in line to get to Invesco. The McCain campaign has done a great job mocking Obama’s rock stay appeal, but elections are won and lost on enthusiasm and voter turnout, so you can’t tell me this is meaningless, either.

Obama Gets His Bounce, Now Up 6 Points

Barack Obama has so far received anywhere from a 5 to 8 point bounce from the Democratic National Convention (depending on when it’s measured from), and now leads John McCain 48 to 42 in the latest Gallup tracking poll.

Gallup notes:

There is a lag of sorts involved in the daily tracking; interviewing is conducted in most parts of the country before that evening’s high-focus speeches have taken place. Thus, the current three-day average would reflect any impact of Monday night’s speech by Michelle Obama, and Tuesday night’s speech by Hillary Clinton, but would not completely reflect Wednesday night’s lineup of speakers, such as John Kerry, former President Bill Clinton, and vice presidential nominee Joe Biden, nor the appearance on stage at the end of the evening by Barack Obama himself.

Since I thought last night was the strongest, I would say that this is a solid but not overwhelming bounce for Obama. With McCain’s VP choice set to be formally announced tomorrow (though possibly leaked this evening) and the Republican National Convention starting up on Monday, any bounce is likely to be short-lived. Remember that Obama went up by 9 points initially when on his European trip, but that quickly evaporated as McCain unvieled a series of sharp attacks, including the celebrity ad. Really, we won’t see any meaningful polling until the week of Sept. 8, after Americans have digested both conventions. But it’s hard to look away.

The Rebounding Economy Throws Us a Curve

With a higher-than-expected 3.3 percent growth rate in the second quarter, Phil Gramm seems to be vindicated that the recession is mental — the economy is not contracting. One interesting thing to note is that a weaker dollar boosted exports, which helped spur growth. That’s just basic classical economics.

Clearly, the economy isn’t out of the woods yet, and this doesn’t wipe away American’s anxiety, particularly because we can’t count on the media to report good news with the same ferocity with which they report bad news. But the harder it is for Democrats to make the argument that the economy is in shambles, the better the chances are for John McCain — especially because Obama lags on the comander in chief question.

The Clinton Rehabilitation

Surverying the liberal blogs this morning, not to witnessing the reaction within the Pepsi Center last night, Bill Clinton took a big step toward rehabilitating his image within the party with last night’s speech. Over several months on the campaign trail, Clinton made a spectacle of himself and liberals were finally able to see his ugly side because his nonsense was directed at one of their own. But he gave easily to most effective speech on behalf of Obama last night, and reminded Democrats why he’s been the only twice-elected president from their party since FDR.

It’s too early to tell what how Obama will come out of this convention, but we can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it could not have gone any better for the Clintons. From Bill and Hillary’s speeches, to their calls for unity, to the theater of Hillary cutting off the roll call vote to make Obama the President by acclamation (only after enough states had announced their delegates to show she still had a loyal following) — it was the perfect launching pad for her next presidential run.

Kerry Looks Backward

DENVER — The last time we heard from John Kerry, it was because he made a botched joke. Last night, he delivered a botched speech.

Kerry had his work cut out for him by speaking after Bill Clinton brought the house down at the Pepsi Center with the first speech of the Democratic National Convention that offered anything close to a coherent case for Barack Obama.

But after Clinton left the stage to a rousing standing ovation, Kerry made an appearance so he could to air his dirty laundry from his defeat in the 2004 election, starting off by reminding delegates that “we came so close to victory.”

The speech was littered with catch phrases from the last presidential election: “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time”; “mission accomplished” and “being for it before you’re against it.”

But mostly, it was a myopic, narcissistic, and belated attempt by Kerry to fight back against what he perceived to be unfair attacks that sank his presidential hopes.

Early in the speech, Kerry, who couldn’t hold a consistent position on Iraq during the last election, attacked McCain as a flip-flopper.

“To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician, I say, let’s compare Senator McCain to candidate McCain,” he said, adding that, “before he ever debates Barack Obama, John McCain should finish the debate with himself.”

Then Kerry launched a completely inside-baseball assault on McCain’s campaign style:

Senator McCain, who once railed against the smears of Karl Rove when he was the target, has morphed into candidate McCain who is using the same “Rove” tactics and the same “Rove” staff to repeat the same old politics of fear and smear. Well, not this year, not this time. The Rove-McCain tactics are old and outworn, and America will reject them in 2008.

Later, Kerry said Obama “will be a president who seeks not to perfect the lies of Swift boating, but to end them once and for all.”

It’s an accepted narrative within Democratic circles that Kerry lost because of unfair character attacks, but while such arguments have resonance within the party’s activist base, the phrase “Rove-McCain tactics” has very little meaning to most normal people.

And then, the man who testified against his fellow soldiers before the U.S. Senate during a time of war declared that “this election is a chance for America to tell the merchants of fear and division: you don’t decide who loves this country; you don’t decide who is a patriot; you don’t decide whose service counts and whose doesn’t.”

Evidently, Kerry is the decider.

Beyond that, his actual critiques of McCain and President Bush were utterly incoherent. On the one hand, he argued that Bush’s foreign policies are a failure and that McCain will continue the same failed policies. On the other hand, he told attendees that Obama has been vindicated because the Bush administration has emulated many of the policies Obama has called for during the campaign (diplomatic engagement with Iran and a timetable in Iraq).

The speech was well-received by the party faithful who still believe that Kerry lost because of right-wing tricksters, but it did absolutely nothing to advance the case for Obama among undecided voters.

A Much Better Night

The attacks on John McCain were much sharper, the speeches were stronger, and there was much more unity and excitement than in the first two days. Bill Clinton may have pulled the convention from the abyss.