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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

September 1, 2008


Okay - I got it mixed up. Yesterday's Note From a Madman was Labor Day Weekend Madman, not Memorial Day Weekend Madman.

Someone get me a calendar. -NG

Another GOP Surprise

The only way it could have been worse is if they got a picture of Sarah Palin taking her daughter into an Abortion Clinic waving to the cameras. But that didn't happen. In the wake of the news that Governor Sarah Palin's seventeen-year-old daughter is five-months pregnant; and with the additional news that the not-yet-enough-to-make-her-own-decision-about-her-own-body teenager is also unmarried, one has to wonder how the McCain campaign didn't "vet" this out prior to announcing Palin's coronation.

But according to the McCain campaign, they actually DID know!

Is anybody buying this garbage? Maybe some blind followers of the same-old-bull Bush administration, now following McCain as their new "hero", might believe this stuff, but to think that the remaining 80-90 percent of us believe that McCain chose this woman knowing this about her daughter is ridiculous.

Wouldn't it be grand to hear from the VP candidates daughter about her pregnancy - what she really might want to do rather than marry her "baby-s-daddy" identified as "Levi"? Good thing for the candidates that the girl is still a minor and has to abide by her parent's wishes...

...except for one wish, that is.

"Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We're proud of Bristol's (Palin's daughter) decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents,"
-Sarah and husband Todd Palin in a very brief statement

Reactions from the McCain campaign, other than the obvious lie about them knowing of the pregnancy, were of the "ho-hum" variety:

"Life happens,"
-McCain adviser Steve Schmidt.

"An American family,"
-McCain advisor Mark Salter.

Maybe in GOP-land, Republican-town or McBush-ville this is "An American Family," but many of us who don't think home-schooling is the answer have been able to keep our children from wither getting pregnant or making someone else's child pregnant.

Hey, if this kid was home schooled, just when did she get the "free-time" to have "Levi" plant his seed?


Ask yourself this one question: What would have been the Republican reaction had this happened to any Democratic candidate for any office?

This woman is as smart a parent as Brittany Spears Mother. We could have our first White Trash Vice President."
-My Brother Perry, the McCain and GOP supporter

If you want proof that Governor Palin hadn't told McCain of her daughter's child's impending birth (due December 2008), all he has to do is ask this one question: Why tell us now instead of when you announced her candidacy? Certainly a smallish teenager, now five months pregnant would have a look of a woman in that condition, if not now then soon.

As a political issue, there is no way of comparing telling the truth versus having the truth found out. Even if McCain believed, and still believes, that Governor Palin is the second best person to lead our nation in these trying times, then why would he make things so much worse by not letting this cat our of its bag when he announced her as his running mate? That certainly would have gone a long way towards proving that he knew about the pregnancy prior to its coming out party.

Perhaps Governor Palin would have told us all during her acceptance speech. Now THAT would have been something.

It appears that many in the news media took a look at the young lady, did some math and assumed that Governor Palin's new baby - the one stricken with Down's Syndrome - might actually be her first grandchild rather than her fifth child. Looking at a five-month pregnant teenager began the assumptions that Bristol Palin gave birth to her son (her brother if daughter is sister and mom is mom). Perhaps her figure made it appear that she had just given birth.

And if Bristol's new brother is actually her son, then will Mom Sarah make daughter Bristol walk around with an increasingly larger pillow until the birth is supposed to have happened? Or maybe the young mother will have some sort of pseudo miscarriage along the way.

And what of Levi? Will the young man still marry young Bristol even if there is no (perceived) baby? After all, they did have SEX and, as the morals of those on the far Right who support politicians practicing "holier-than-though" politics state, the young man now has to marry her.

"Senator McCain's view is this is a private family matter. As parents, (the Palin's) love their daughter unconditionally and are going to support their daughter,"

"It's a matter that should stay in the family and they have to work through it together. My prayers go out to them,"
-Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America

But it isn't a private matter when it comes to deciding what us regular Americans should do in relation to their children. The issue of morality - and this falls under that issue - is used as a wedge issue by the same people who now say that it is a "private family matter."

It isn't that a politician's child is having a birth while she is still a minor that makes one grinds one's teeth. it's the hypocrisy that those in Governor Palin's position who are constantly telling us all how to raise our children don't see what is and isn't right. Does anyone think that handing this girl or guy a condom is school would have been a bad idea? And if these kids are home schooled, certainly the home-teacher missed a valuable sex ed class.

"No" doesn't mean "no" when both kids say "yes".

In the real bad news of the day, Hurricane Gustav is battering the not-as-of-yet-recovered-from-Hurricane-Katrina. But in the a little-less-bad-news for the McCain campaign, the news of Bristol Palin's pregnancy is the second story behind the storm.

-Noah Greenberg

An Interesting Thought

Has anyone checked the tail number on the aircraft that brought Palin to Dayton, or that brought her to Flagstaff and to Phoenix earlier this year? By any chance, was it registered to an oil company? Or, perhaps to the State of Alaska, thereby sending the bill to the taxpayers? Just asking. There’s a chance that this was all done properly, but these are Bush Republicans and we’re entitled to ask.


by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.

On August 28th, the 45th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) made the kind of history that King could only dream of when he–the first African American nominated by a major party–accepted the nomination for president from the Democratic Party at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Regardless of one’s politics, the drama, import and emotion of that moment cannot be minimized. Obama’s Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, even released an unprecedented ad in which he noted the historic significance.

McCain said, “Sen. 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.”
Obama’s acceptance speech at the Denver stadium with an estimated 84,000 in attendance was preceded by three days of escalating drama at the Democratic National Convention where the tasks at hand were manifold: unite the party, re-introduce Obama to Americans and present a succinct message for the campaign in opposition to the Republicans.

The Democratic Party was badly split by this year’s primary. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) won the popular vote; Obama, with the help of a super-delegate surge in the final week of the primary, won the delegate vote. With the Democratic Party thus split 50/50, Clinton supporters found it difficult to rally around Obama. Between June, when Clinton suspended her campaign, and the convention, tension grew between the two camps.

That tension was fueled by Obama supporters and media pundits who seemed unable to grasp that Clinton supporters felt their own historic attempt to elect the first woman president in American history had been quashed and their quest to achieve it minimized and dismissed. When the convention finally opened, the big question was–What Would Hillary Do?

That question was answered in an electrifying speech August 26–the 88th anniversary of women achieving the right to vote. After a full five-minute standing ovation from the delegates, Hillary Clinton gave what many thought was the best speech of her political career. She referenced suffrage, Harriet Tubman and American grit and determination. She talked about what she had seen and experienced while campaigning across America and particularly in hard-hit areas like our own region. She reiterated the failings of the Bush Administration. She talked about the importance of issues like universal health care and equal pay for women.

She called on her supporters to deliver party unity and get behind Obama. She asked the supporters who have thus far refused to cross over to Obama, “Were you in this campaign just for me?”

The problem, some pundits said when they deconstructed her speech, was that it was so good and so powerful, that it only served to remind her supporters of how superb she is and set the bar high for Obama in his own speech.

The following night former President Bill Clinton did his best to top his wife’s speech. The most powerful orator in American politics–Obama notwithstanding–Clinton brought the house down, too. He reminded people of how much his Administration had done to improve the lives of Americans and how the Bush Administration had squandered it all on ill-conceived wars and corporate welfare, citing statistic after statistic. He referenced every failing of the Bush team from torture to Katrina.

Most importantly for Obama and his supporters, he shut the door on Republican criticism of Obama by linking the candidate to his own experience, noting that the Republicans had also said *he* was too young to lead, but that he had been on the right side of history and that Obama was on the right side of history.

The former President was sharp, incisive and witty. And he left no doubt, reprising Hillary, that he was, first and foremost, a party loyalist. His speech made clear that whatever animosity he might have felt toward Obama for the way the candidate had treated him and his wife during the primary, Clinton would support him enthusiastically for the good of the party, which he believes is best for the country.

After vice-presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden’s acceptance speech, the night ended with the unity that had been so desperately sought by so many. Obama himself made a “surprise” appearance, acknowledging the Clintons and Biden.

What Americans saw was a coalescence of power: the two people who have been the most dynamic figures in the Democratic Party for the past 16 years–Bill and Hillary Clinton–and the new team, Obama and Biden, projecting a united front against the Republicans.

Obama’s speech on the final night of the convention was delivered with the same oratorical flourish that has become his signature. He began by thanking Hillary Clinton and ended with a passage from the Bible. In between he talked about everything from his own upbringing to the troubles average Americans face to the failures of the Bush Administration and how McCain and Bush are too close for comfort. He invoked his trademark again and again: change.

The speech as delivered by Obama had none of the written-by-committee quality that many acceptance speeches have, despite having indeed been written by committee. And whether Obama was attempting to reprise Dr. King or not, the comparisons will inevitably be made and the singularity of the historical event will resonate for decades to come.

Conventions catch people up in their intensity and this one did so more than most. When Hillary Clinton called for the nomination of Obama by acclimation, it was one of the most stunning moments many of us have experienced in recent American politics. The concomitant anniversaries–Clinton speaking on the anniversary of women’s suffrage and Obama speaking on the anniversary of King’s speech–added to the historic resonance. It’s difficult to imagine how one could not weep during either oratory or ignore their significance.

Yet while the Democrats were getting an A for history making, John McCain–the status quo white guy Republican–was continuing to move up in the polls.
There was no traditional poll “bounce” for Obama after he chose Biden for his running mate. Rather, his numbers went down. Many pundits suggested that Obama’s choice of a Washington insider who is one of the longest serving senators undercut his assertions that he was against Washington politics as usual and was in opposition to his message of change. After people saw Hillary Clinton’s magnificent speech, more wondered why he hadn’t chosen her.

Candidates always get a poll “bounce” after a convention, and no doubt Obama will get some bounce in next week’s numbers. But then McCain will get his own bounce when the Republican Convention ends. Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod was careful to defuse any notion that there would even *be* a bounce when talking to reporters during the convention.

Yet the question cannot be ignored: Why are the numbers so close? Statistically, Obama has gotten more than 80 percent of all news coverage to McCain’s paltry 54 percent. As veteran reporter Daniel Shore noted when Obama was in Germany, “Obama’s news. McCain isn’t.”

The convention itself answered some of the questions about the close poll numbers. What *is* the Democratic message?

In his acceptance speech, Obama laid out his plans for the future and attacked McCain. But the litany of how he would juggle federal dollars to pay for new entitlement programs was hard to envision, particularly for anyone who knows the Congress. Once you peeled away the drama of who was giving the speech, the speech itself offered less than the delivery.

In the current political climate with Congress garnering only a nine percent approval rating and George Bush not much higher, there is really no excuse for McCain to be anywhere near Obama in the polls, let alone ahead. How could the young, energetic and palpably charismatic Obama not be leaving McCain in the dust?

Obama and his campaign need better weapons against McCain than “he’s old” and “he’s like Bush.” Obama and McCain have agreed on numerous issues lately, including faith-based initiatives, off-shore drilling, limiting abortion rights, telecom immunity and expanding the death penalty. Those aren’t bipartisan agreements, they are ideological stances. The complicating factor of Obama’s reversals on key issues during the primary has given McCain ammunition.

Obama’s calls for change through bipartisanship are not sufficient, nor is reiterating that McCain equals Bush. Obama has yet to fix his overarching problem–the inability to connect with the average American voter as a candidate who fully understands who they are.

Only two months remain in the longest presidential campaign in U.S. history and Obama remains static in the polls. Obama’s surrogates can continue to present the case for Obama with strength and verve as the Clintons did at the convention, but the candidate himself has to do more. There needs to be less rock concert and more kitchen table, fewer broad strokes and more specifics. Voters need to believe that Obama feels their pain the way Bill Clinton always did and George Bush never came close. Voters need a palpable sense of commitment to the issues that are driving Americans’ emotions–bread and butter, not polemics.

If Obama is the son of a single mother rather than the son of a prominent feminist anthropologist with a Ph.d, then he needs to project more of the kitchen-table basics that he says he learned from his maternal grandparents and less of the Ivy League he got from his mother.

Many Democrats have said this is one of the most important elections in U.S. history. Perhaps. But what is certain is that a surprising number of voters remain undecided and a significant number of Democrats are leaning toward McCain.

The convention opened the door to a more statesmanlike Obama–one who could set aside petty differences to acknowledge the standing of both his closest political rival and the only Democrat to be elected to two terms since FDR. But the clock is ticking. If Obama wants to make history of the sort he began at the convention, then he needs to hit the bricks, not the thesaurus and get closer to the people who still feel he’s an Ivory Tower elitist, rather than a populist with their best interests at heart. Obama should review that “I Have a Dream” speech for Dr. King’s passionate connection to his audience. Every man and woman regardless of race felt connected by that speech and does to this day. Obama knows how to give a good speech. Now he has to deliver the goods.

In response to, "It was a shockingly minimal endorsement of Barack Obama," by Fox News' William Krystal, Victoria Brownworth writes (and corrects):

Victoria Brownworth responds: I guess I was listening to a different speech than neo-con William Kristol (not to be confused with Billy Crystal, the comedian, as Madman implies with his major typo here). Because what I heard, and what the historians heard was, to quote even the quisling from the Clinton Administration, ABC's George Stephanopoulos, "more than any loser has ever done for any nominee in history."

Hillary Clinton's speech, which she wrote herself, far out-shadowed Barack Obama's written-by-committee acceptance speech.

The fact is, the pundits hate Hillary and always have. Now they have a new female victim in Sarah Palin, who, regardless of her bad Republican politics is very undeserving of the sexist slams she is receiving.

Hillary Clinton's speech made a lot of people feel that the manipulations of the DNC to make Obama the nominee were misplaced indeed. She reminded listeners of what the heart and soul of the Democratic Party is supposed to be about.

If we learned nothing from the Democratic primary, we should have learned that sexism is just as wrong as racism. Apparently we didn't. And the backlash may just come back to bite US, not THEM.

Typo's aren't implications - they're just typo's. NG

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-Noah Greenberg