But with the Dem convention underway and the Labor Day starting gun for the electoral stretch run about to fire, it is time to get back into the starting block. Bear with me. It may take a week or so to get up to speed.
First, apologies to Steven Taylor, who took the time to respond with a comment on my last post, and was rewarded by spending two weeks in comment moderation purgatory.
So - What have I missed over the last three weeks? As near as I can tell, just this:
- According to both the right and left McCain bested Obama in the Rick Warren Saddleback Forum.
- McCain has narrowed the gap and has tied Obama in national polls.
- The left was shocked! shocked! to learn that McCain is rich, and does not know how many houses he and his wife own.
- Obama selected Joe Biden as his VP delegate.
The first point is interesting, because it is a different result than I expected in a head to head meeting. Granted - McCain had a "home field advantage" in this forum, but this was really about the candidates meeting, exceeding or falling short of expectations. I have maintained throughout that Obama would chew McCain up and spit him out in the upcoming debates. With that assessment I neglected to factor in the "expectations" game. Obama is such an extraordinary and electrifying orator that expectations for him in a live debate or interview are exceedingly high. And he consistently falls short of those lofty expectations in those venues. McCain is such a god-awful public speaker that expectations for him in a debate or interview are exceeding low. And he consistently surprises and exceeds those low expectations. That is what happened at Saddleback. Is this a dynamic we are likely to see repeated throughout the campaign? Is it a Kerry/Bush redux? Others have reached such a conclusion.
Joe Biden is great pick for VP. I mean, you got a mainstream Irish-American Roman Catholic who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. What's not to like? All kidding aside, I do like Biden. In my January 2007 stack rank, Biden and Obama were my top two Democratic Party choices. Hagel was my first Republican pick and top pick overall. If, as some have speculated, Hagel becomes SECDEF in an Obama administration, three of my top four picks in that post would be part of the Obama administration. If if were not for the Divided vs. Unified Government problem, I would find it to be a pretty compelling ticket.
Biden will help give Obama credibility and he will be a very effective campaigner for Obama. However, the choice does leave McCain an opportunity to make a play for disgruntled Clinton supporters by selecting a woman for VP. There are plenty of good choices, Whitman, Fiorina, Hutchison, or my favorite - Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. It would be a smart move, but I doubt he will take my advice this time.
The first night of the Dem convention is in the books. The Ted Kennedy tribute and speech at the convention was memorable and moving - a political warrior's last stand. You don't have to like his politics to admire his gutsy upbeat performance, made poignant by the knowledge that he is staring into the abyss.
On an ocean passage, you get a lot of time to catch up on your reading. I read three books, finally finishing David Mayhew's "Divided we Govern" (No - really - see picture above). Originally published in the mid-nineties with a second edition in 2005 - this book was, to a large degree, the seminal work that debunked the notion that the federal government functions more effectively with single party control. Watching the ubiquitous blue "Change" signs waving at the convention last night, I was reminded of another Mayhew theme in the book. He explores the notion that a primary pre-requisite for the periodic legislative "surges" we have seen throughout our history is a pervasive "public mood" demanding "change". Is the Obama support an indicator of one these periodic "public moods"? Fodder for a future post.