Election Day 2008

6 11 2008

While there are hundreds of thousands of people out there waxing poetic about the events yesterday and I hate to burden anyone who reads this with listening to one more.  But I can’t help it.  So I apologize in advance. And I guess fair warning, I am planning on writing a few more posts about the election before I fade back into obscurity realizing that I have nothing better to talk about once again.

Yesterday was a day that I will never forget.  As painful as it was to be at work all day, counting the seconds until I could go vote and then sit on my couch to watch the returns with a pizza and some beer, it was all amazing.  The DC Metro area was beset by news of long waits across the region so I tried to pick a time that might provide the best chance that I not have to wait for hours.  Been there done that, much more fun when you are a college student, I had places to go.  When it was all said and done I was really glad that I didn’t have the option to do vote ahead of time.  The act of voting, pushing that button for Barack Obama was one of the most exhilarating things I have ever done.  You couldn’t help but stare at that colored in circle, knowing not only that an African-American candidate had made it so far, but that I was able to take part in his campaign.  Leaving the polling location I was filled with excitement and trepidation.  Knowing full well that if he were to lose that this would be a dark day in American history; not because an African-American candidate that had made it so far would fall short but because there would be no preventing the feeling that this election was stolen and that everything that had been done just was not enough.  Not even getting into the implications on race relations and the vile partisanship that has taken hold of our political process.

Last night, we sat and watched the coverage on MSNBC (switching to CNN and Fox every once in a while),

From CNN.com

From CNN.com

analyzing each coming poll and each state called.  Worrying constantly that maybe MSNBC was premature, or CNN or Fox for that matter.  When Pennsylvania was called we were convinced that it was just too early. Chuck Todd was pouring a proverbial cold glass of water over the Obama supporters every 20 minutes which only added to our fears.  We kept saying to one another that maybe we were getting too far ahead of ourselves, having watched the previous two elections closely, we had seen this story before and not to be outdone we continually tried to temper one another.  It was only when my mom called to give her short concession after seeing that Fox had called Ohio for Obama.  We were still not convinced, it seemed too soon for Ohio to be called, yet within minutes I started getting text messages and IM’s from people talking about the victory in Ohio.  As state after state came in and Obama’s margin grew we began to see that not only was he winning the swing states, but he was also getting closer than any would have predicted in the reddest of red states.

It sounds a little crazy to say but at that moment I felt a part of history being made.  Listening to President-Elect Obama’s (how amazing is it to say that finally) victory speech and watching the crowd was maybe the most moving thing I have ever seen.  You don’t want to inflate the significance of an event like this or trivialize it by using cliches, but I’m not convinced that it is even a possiblity in this instance.  I genuinely felt connected to the 125,000 people cheering in Grant Park, the people that turned U Street in DC into a block party, the people in Times Square and everyone else across the country.  But not based on support for Barack Obama, while those were all examples of the excitement for his victory this was a night to be shared by all Americans and in many ways all people around the world.


T-24 Hours

3 11 2008

The polls on the East Coast will close in 24 hours or less and for most that is when the night really gets started.  When we can do nothing else but sit in front the television hanging on the words of each commentator, looking for any semblance of good news from the smallest of blips in voter turnout, voter demographics and the exit polls.  While I am incredibly excited at the prospect that Barack Obama will be our next President and would be considered among the more optimistic about his chances tomorrow; I have to admit that the paralyzing fear has set in.

I ultimately fear that this confidence exhibited by the McCain campaign is not something to be laughed at, like so many continue to do, that they see trends that everyone else has missed.  This is what my life is about right now.  I read each post on Google Reader with the utmost scrutiny searching for some key that will lessen my fears.  But this feeling has taken over.  When I read articles exhibiting the most positive outlooks on Obama’s prospects I can not help but think that maybe the media is really in the tank for him, that we are all setting ourselves up for heartbreak again and that my night will end much like election day four years ago.  When I read the articles discussing McCain’s chances and this upswing in his numbers over the past week, I can’t help but think that my worst nightmare is coming true that all this excitement will disappear without anyone noticing that it’s happening.

Welcome to my life

The VP Debate: A Massacre?

23 08 2008

Without really getting into the selection of Joe Biden.  I can’t express just how excited I am to see the Vice Presidential debate.  It’s already marked in my calendar.  It was clear that he was in part selected for his aggresiveness and the potential that exists for him to be the Democratic attack dog.  Something that has been sorely missed for far too long.

The Vice Presidential Debate has a tendency to be really boring.  More often than not, the safe pick for each campaign is someone who will speak only when spoken to.  Whether it is Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty facing off against Joe Biden the debate is sure to be hilarious.  I’m hoping that the choice is Pawlenty; he’s a little bland, would be selected in part for his youth and location and definitely not known for being feisty. I’m basically picturing the GOP candidate cowering behind the podium.  Oh man I hope that happens.  This could be quite the event.

Biden in 3

Appeasement (the good kind)

8 08 2008

It should be no surprise that the issue of Hillary Clinton’s role in this campaign has not been completely decided as of yet.  There are many Obama supporters, myself included, that could not wait for the primaries to be over so that Barack Obama could officially begin campaigning against John McCain and also so that we would no longer have to listen to Hillary Clinton.  And for the most part, she has fulfilled the role that most hoped she would.  To campaign with Barack Obama on occassion, showing her support for him and even helping him with a little fundraising.

No one expected the reconciliation process to be a smooth ride.  The devotion that many of the supporters on both sides had for their candidates, especially given the historic nature of each is a recipe for disaster.  The Hillary supporters felt that Obama hadn’t done enough to help her with the debts that she incurred or shown her the respect that she deserved.  While Obama supporters have been stymied consistently by Hillary supporters who have been wary to jump on the bandwagon from the start.  This all amounts to very little more than hurt feelings, but it will become a significant problem unless things begin to change.

This relationship between the two sides has charted a perilous course, especially now with Hillary Clinton with the much publicized video of Hillary Clinton discussing her role at the campaign and the potential to be included on a first ballot.

Seen here:

This could be dangerous for Obama, or it could be a huge boon for his campaign, depending on how he chooses to play it.  While this obviously angers and frustrates a great number of Obama supporters, it does not have to be the huge deal that it has been made out to be.  Rather, the Obama campaign should seriously consider putting Hillary Clinton on the ballot at the convention and letting her supporters cast their ballots for her.  While it may seem to be a plea for anarchy, it could work to solidify the oft discussed role and preferences of female voters.

The Veep Debate

29 07 2008

Like just about everyone else I am growing increasingly excited about the upcoming VP selections.  The campaigns are circling around the select few candidates remaining, trying to find out every thing possible about each and determine how the race could change depending on the selection.  It seems that the Republicans are just about set on their selection, or at the very least have it down to two candidates, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty.

For weeks most everyone seems to think that Romney had the VP slot locked up but I am growing less convinced by the day.  It comes down to a couple things in the end.  Ultimately, Romney and McCain do not seem to like each other very much (remember the primary season), they have serious disagreements on healthcare (Romney’s plan covered more people than Obama’s and had more government involvement) and finally, how does McCain think he can stack up on the economy with Obama.  While Pawlenty and McCain get along very well, are much closer aligned politically (Pawlenty is a little farther right, which can’t hurt) and he’s from Minnesota (a state the Republicans have had their eyes on for quite some time).  I think it will be Pawlenty in end.  He’s young, and would provide a nice balance to the ticket and maybe infuse some life into the campaign.

Yesterday, Barack Obama met with his David Plouffe and his vice presidential selection committee for nearly three hours.  While at the same time, there were a number of rumors coming out of Richmond about the fate of Tim Kaine.  Although, the often attributed quote from an unnamed source was something to the effect of Tim Kaine is “very, very high” on the list.  While this may be the case, I think it would be a major mistake for Obama.  He obviously gets along very well with Kaine and he is the popular Governor of Virginia, which is a nice talking point; however, he is a first-term governor and sounds very much like Obama does.  The single most popular point of attack used against Obama by Hillary Clinton, the RNC and John McCain has been his inexperience and the people’s lack of familiarity with him.  Adding Tim Kaine to the ticket only fulfills the attack line and does nothing to shore up the other lines of attack.

If Obama is smart about this he will have to move in the direction of a “Washington insider,” something he is loathe to do.  This campaign will not be waged about who is better fit to be the President, it has been entirely about Obama and what the people think about him.  You have John McCain who is the “safe candidate,” the one that everyone knows and has a decent idea of what to expect from him.  Or, you have Barack Obama that an all too large percentage of the population knows too little about and is not yet ready to fully entrust the duties of President to.  There are also the significant foreign policy concerns regarding Barack Obama; the selection of Tim Kaine would do nothing to alleviate them given that he has zero military experience as well.

While I wrote last week of my love for Chuck Hagel, I would be pretty surprised if Obama moves in that direction, as much as I might want that.  That leaves Joe Biden, Sam Nunn, and maybe Chris Dodd.  I wouldn’t count Kaine or Bayh out of it yet, but my money is on Biden when it comes down to it.  He has a serious track record in the foreign policy community and will prove to be a really strong surrogate in the leadup to the November.

Running to the Middle (and there’s nothing wrong with it)

18 07 2008

All this talk about how Obama is running to the middle and how that makes him just a typical politician is ridiculous. Who cares if he moves to the middle for the campaign?  People like him because he is supposed to be this post-partisan politician. Guess what, a move to the middle is not a bad thing. Attention bloggers, Democratic party activists and whoever else thinks their head is about to explode…everything will be okay.  Barack Obama has not turned his back on the left wing of the Democratic Party, this is more important than appeasing the more radical among us, this is about being the candidate that can represent the whole United States. All of this talk makes me crazy because ultimately these feelings are central to the climate of extreme, uncontrollable partisanship and it is nothing if not ugly. It shouldn’t be, “we barely won so now you who disagreed have to suffer our will.”

I feel the same way about the potential VP candidates. Many Democrats are up in arms over the suggestion of Senator Hagel being considered for the position. But, why not?  Does he line up perfectly with the Democratic Party platform? No.  Does his addition to the ticket make Barack Obama a considerably better candidate? Without a doubt.  Chuck Hagel does not agree with the Democratic Party on most issues, mainly social ones, but he does agree with the establishment on the War in Iraq as well as civil liberties and a couple of other issues.  Senator Hagel is important because he is a heavyweight of the most impressive kind on foreign policy issues and he would balance out the ticket a great deal.  While his addition would anger the left quite significantly, it would be a true show of bipartisanship and Hagel would help to cancel out some of those fears about Obama’s inexperience on the world stage.  Granted, you could make the argument that there are plenty of foreign policy heavyweights in the Democratic Party, but the two main ones that I would imagine are being considered have some serious problems.  Chris Dodd, is at the center of the still yet to be determined investigation into VIP mortgage deals.  Joe Biden is notorious for putting his foot in his mouth, most memorably calling Obama something like “a good, clean black man” on the day he announced that he was going to run for President.  I guess that is what makes him intriguing, he has survived many of these remarks and still remains a very relevant figure in the American political scene and could prove very helpful in defusing any more slip ups that might come from Barack Obama over the next four months.  However, he does not bring much in the form of moderation to the ticket.  This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but for the sake of bipartisanship and lessening some of the incessant bickering, I think that Senator Hagel could make a great Vice President for Barack Obama.

Oh, Jesse

10 07 2008

It remains to be seen just what Jesse Jackson actually said about Barack Obama just audible enough for a hot mic to pick up.  We know it was bad, given that even Bill O’Reilly won’t air the tape, and most people seem to “know” that this was a bad moment for Barack Obama and for the Democratic Party.

Except it might actually be the best thing that could have happened to Obama right about now.  He’s currently running across the Midwest, Appalachia and Mountain West trying to convince voters that he is a normal guy, not super liberal, not a Muslim and maybe most importantly not planning on representing only African-Americans should he become the next president of the United States.

Who would have thought that Jesse Jackson actually would have helped Barack Obama to garner the support of white people.  Now I realize I am taking a much too broad approach to such a matter and should not talk so generally about white people, or any other demographic for that matter.  But, it should be said that Jesse Jackson is not viewed particularly favorably by a large segment of the population.

This whole big thing could actually be sort of a boon to Obama’s campaign and what he is currently attempting to achieve.  Ultimately, the African-American voting population is not going to leave Obama’s side and go vote for John McCain who has not once cited any plans regarding issues that tend to be the most prominent within the African-American community.  Barack Obama on the other hand has consistently and openly talked about the role that his government would play, while at the same time putting the onus on the people as well. While this may come as being preachy and lecturing to Jesse Jackson; it is the right thing to say, not just for Obama’s chances to become the next President but for those same communities to succeed.  This will hopefully help him be seen not as the candidate of the African-American people, but of all people.

This story should disappear within just a couple days, but in the meantime we should all thank Rev. Jackson for saying something remarkably dumb (again), that just might help Barack Obama’s campaign.  I hope…