28 June 2008

The Best Parts of Unity

Friday 27th June, Unite for Change Rally - Unity, New Hampshire

Watching Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama on-stage together, and hearing their words, you would be forgiven for thinking that rather than this being an event aimed at uniting the Democratic Party, at trying to persuade Hillary's supporters to now switch their support and vote to Obama, that in fact it is an event after the Convention, an event in which the two candidates on the Democratic Party's Ticket are appearing together in public for the first time to outline their vision for the party, their vision for the country, their vision for Americans.

...and the interesting thing about the 'ticket' idea, is this: from what is said and how it is said, who seems like they are at the top of or should be at the top of that ticket?

Some of the best parts of the two speeches of unity at Unity:

Hillary Clinton (watch her speech here)


- "We may have started on separate paths, but today our paths have merged, today our hearts are set on the same destination for America, today we are coming together for the same goal, to elect Barack Obama as the next President of the United States."

- "We are one party, we are one America, and we are not going to rest until we take back our country and put it once again on the path to peace, prosperity and progress in the 21st Century." [Crowd chants: "Yes We Can"]

- Crowd chants: "Obama, Obama, Obama" followed by: "Hillary, Hillary, Hillary"

- (Hillary's Game On moment!) "Now, Barack and I both have a great deal of respect for Senator McCain and his heroic service to our nation, but in the end after 8 devastating years under President Bush, Senator McCain is simply offering 4 years more.

He sees right-wing judges appointed to the Supreme Court and says why not a few more, he sees billions of dollars in corporate tax cuts exploding our deficit and says why not billions more, he sees 5 long years in Iraq and he's willing to stay for years, even decades more. In the end Senator McCain and President Bush are like two sides of the same coin and it doesn't amount to a whole lot of change."

- "...and that's why I'm standing with Senator Obama today, because I know he'll work for you, he'll fight for you, and he'll stand up for you every single day in the White House."

- "...because I know he'll be a Commander in Chief who will never hesitate to use force when necessary, but never shrink from using diplomacy whenever possible."

- While Hillary is hugging and laughing with Barack, the crowd starts chanting: "Thank You Hillary, Thank You Hillary, Thank You Hillary"

Barack Obama (watch his speech here)

- "For 16 months Senator Clinton and I have shared the stage as rivals for the nomination, but today I could not be happier and more honoured and more moved, that we're sharing this stage as allies, to bring about the fundamental changes that this country so desperately needs."

- "When Hillary Clinton gets up in the morning, even in the face of the toughest odds, the most vicious attacks, she is doing so with the same motivation that took her and Bill Clinton to sign up for their first campaign in Texas all those years ago, the same passion that led her to work for the Children's Defense Fund...what has made her one of the finest Senators that New York has ever seen, what has made her a historic candidate for President, an unyielding desire to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, no matter how difficult that fight may be, I've admired her as a leader, I've learned from her as a candidate...I am proud to call her a friend, and I know how much we need both Bill and Hillary Clinton as a party and as a country in the months and years to come...we need them, we need them badly, not just my campaign but the American people need their service and their vision and their wisdom in the months and years to come because that's how we're gonna bring about unity in the Democratic party, and that's how we're gonna bring about unity in America, and that's how we're gonna deliver the American Dream in every corner of every state of this great nation that we love."

- "I know that while this campaign has shown us how far we have to go, it's also proven the progress we have made, I know that because of our campaign, because of the campaign that Hillary Clinton waged, my daughters and all of your daughters, will forever know that there is barrier to who they are and what they can be in the United States of America, they can take for granted that women can do anything that the boys can do."

- "It's fitting that we meet in a place called Unity, because the truth is that's the only way we can solve the challenges facing this country. Today we look back at the votes that took place here in the snows in January - a hundred and seven votes for Senator Clinton a hundred and seven votes for me, but now we look at them as 214 votes for change here in America, votes cast by young and old, by men and women, by rich and poor, by Democrats and Independents, and even some Republicans who have said enough is enough it is time to bring about change here in America."

- "...this is our chance to bring a new energy policy to America, and new ideas to America, this is our chance, this is our time to march forward in unity as one people to the future, and I promise you that if you are willing to join me and you are willing to join Hillary Clinton..."

27 June 2008

AFL-CIO endorses Obama

On Thursday, America's largest labor [sic] organisation - the AFL-CIO, gave its endorsement to Barack Obama.

The AFL-CIO's statement was absolutely in line with the message of Obama's campaign:

"Barack Obama has proven from his days as an organizer, to his time in the Senate and historic run for the presidency, that he's leading the fight to turn around America."

It's expected that the rallying call will help increase support for Obama in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota - all critical swing states and all states in which union voters make up between 25 and 35% of the vote.

Also, recognising the vital part that the internet now plays in politics, the AFL-CIO have launched a new area on their web site "Meet Barack Obama", an interactive flipbook filled with information and videos of and about Barack Obama and his labor-linked initiatives and policies.

Click here
to visit the AFL-CIO's "Meet Barack Obama" area.

Then there's the AFL-CIO volunteers, who have already knocked on thousands of doors and distributed over a million leaflets critial of Obama's presumptive-opponent, John McCain.

24 June 2008

Fox News Erased McCain Saying He "Really Didn’t Love America"

McCain: “I think it makes you a better person. Obviously, it makes you love America. I really didn't love America until I was deprived of her company.”

In itself, not such a big deal, but can you imagine the wrath that would rain down on Obama if he said something like this?

23 June 2008

Outside The Box Thinking On VP Choice...

Democrats

Al Gore

Internationally respected, former Vice President Al Gore would add some much needed gravitas to Senator Obama’s ticket. He knows the ins and outs of Washington DC better than most and would send a clear signal that an Obama administration was serious about the threat of climate change.

His recent endorsement of Obama in Michigan played very well for the cameras and the two made a plausible pairing. Senator Obama has since refused to rule out Gore serving as his No2.

But would Al Gore take it? Everyone looks good the night before their wedding as they say. Why would Gore trade in international respect and a fledgling business empire to return to the grubbiness of politics - especially to be No2 again, a role that he found infuriating at times in the Clinton White House.

What’s more, in a very similar respect that having Clinton on the ticket, would Gore not negate Obama’s message of change? He, after all, served for 8 years in Bill Clintons administration and failed to win what should have been an easy election victory for the Democrats in 2000 - a time of booming economic growth and a nation a peace.

Michael Bloomberg

Earlier in the year, Mayor Bloomberg had consistently been touted as a potential presidential candidate in his own right. The one time Democrat turned Republican turned Independent has been widely admired for his tenure in office and could have helped establish a tradition of the New York Mayors office being a spring board for presidential ambitions.

What is more, the business mogul mayor would bring to the race his multi billion dollar fortune to fund his (or anyone elses?) campaign.

However, those days have now passed, and Mayor Bloomberg has ruled out making an independent bid for the White House.

Since then he has been vigorously courted by both Barack Obama and John McCain = both of whom have made the support of independents the bed rock of their campaigns.

Selecting Bloomberg would be seen as an attempt to solidify both men’s cross party appeal and could put New York in to play for the Republicans.

Bill Bradley

2000 presidential hopeful Bill Bradley gave the presumptive nominee Vice President Al Gore somewhat of a scare by running strongly in the early state primaries.

The former professional basketball player and US Senator received several high profile endorsements during the campaign and ran to the left of Gore on most key issues. He also raised large amounts of money giving him a deep war chest. However, he ultimately floundered, in part because he was overshadowed by Senator John McCain's far more attention-gaining, but ultimately unsuccessful, campaign for the Republican nomination; McCain had stolen Bradley's "thunder" on several occasions.

Bradley also failed to win two early primaries. He was much embarrassed by his two to one defeat in the Iowa caucus, despite spending heavily there, as the unions had pledged their support for Gore. He then lost the New Hampshire primary 53-47%, which ended any hope of him making up ground to Gore. Bradley finished a distant second during each of the primaries on Super Tuesday.

Since his unsuccessful run in 2000 he has laregely stayed out of the limelight to endorse Howard Dean in 2004 and Barack Obama in January this year.

Did you know - Bill Bradley has a far wider peripheral vision that most people. While most people's horizontal field covers 180 degrees, his covered 192 degrees. Vertically most people can see 47 degrees upward; Bradley could see 72 degrees.

Caroline Kennedy

Making up one third (or is it one half now Jim Johnson has resigned?) of Senator Obama’s VP vetting squad, Kennedy is the daughter and only surviving child of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.

Kennedy is an attorney, editor, and writer. She is one of the founders of the Profiles in Courage Award, given annually to a person who exemplifies the type of courage examined in her father's Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name.

In addition, Kennedy has represented her family at the funeral services of former Presidents Ronald Reagan in 2004 and Gerald Ford in 2007, and at the funeral service of former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson in 2007.

Caroline Kennedy also represented her family at the dedication of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, Arkansas in November 2004.

She would bring with her unbeatable name recognition and the power to further add to Obama’s image as the second (or is it third, JFK, RFK, BHO?) coming of the Kennedy’s. The beginning of the restoration of the Kennedy dynasty - tied directly to Obama’s star - would send political hacks into a frenzy.

What’s more, Senator Edward Kennedy has been an avid and vocal supporter of Obama’s campaign and there is a great deal of sentiment for Senator Kennedy following his recent health troubles.

It would also satisfy those pressuring Obama to select a woman - without looking like he has merely settled for any woman who was not Hillary Clinton.

What’s more, this would not be unheard of. Dick Cheney was asked by then Governor of Texas, George W. Bush to head up the task force to find him a Vice Presidential running mate… before promptly selecting himself for the job.

But being realistic for a second, it won’t happen. Ms. Kennedy is a complete unknown political quantity, she has no political track record and no foreign policy experience to speak of.

Colin Powell

Colin Powell has subtly been making his admiration for Barack Obama known in recent months.

Having been in the eye of the storm as the good soldier serving his Commander in Chief in the run up to the Iraq war, Powell knows better than anyone the controversies and incompetence’s of the Bush administration. He is still widely respected by the American public for hisi military service and the tactful pressure he applied on President Bush.

On the down side, this is the man who stood centre stage at the United Nations proclaiming to the world that Saddam Hussein had developed weapons of mass destruction - the pretext for the war in Iraq. The very same war which Barack Obama has vehemently opposed from the start.

Additionally, is America ready for one, let alone two African Americans on a ticket?

Nancy Pelosi

Now her position as the most powerful skirt in the land (not my quote!) has been secured with the demise of Hillary Clinton, why not take one step closer to the presidency by becoming No2 (she is currently third in line to the presidency in her position as Speaker of the House)?

She is the second most high profile woman in Democratic politics and is the first female Speaker of the House.

But quite frankly, would she want to leave the power of the House and her position as the highest ranking female in Government to take up the Vice Presidency - a position that is subordinate and that has no real guarantee of any solid powerbase?

I am sure she would help to deliver the, ahem, older female demographic that Obama has typically struggled with - after all, she is a self proclaimed grandmother in a Chanel suit.

But apart from that does she bring much to the ticket? She represents a Northern Californian constituency, hardly a November battle ground.

And she already has her place in history as the first female speaker of the house. Why trade in (trade down?) for the Vice Presidency - a position that probably carries less weight that the speaker of the house?

John Kerry

The 2004 Democratic presidential candidate received the highest percentage of votes of any losing candidate challenging a sitting President in American history.

He harboured ambitions to complete his quest for the White House in 2008 until an ill timed and poorly delivered joke during the 2006 midterms about those without an education getting stuck in Iraq ended his chances.

Even before this I don’t think his second round of presidential ambitions would have got far. 2008 is very different to 2004, with the strongest field of Democratic candidates being fielded for a generation, In the era of constant media saturation and scrutiny, people rarely get a second chance when there is something new and more exciting around the corner.

Although there is a of anger about the treatment of Kerry - a decorated Vietnam war veteran - in the swift boat scandal.

Kerry’s Vietnam record would contrast nicely with that of John McCain’s - although it would invite questions over his record of service as was the case in 2004.

What is more, Massachusetts, Kerry’s home state is not a competitive state meaning his geographical appeal is strictly limited.

I’m not sure Kerry was seen as a particularly effective candidate in 2004, often appearing wooden and disconnected.

Republicans

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Only in America could a pot smoking, serial groping (allegedly), Austrian born body building movie star become Governor of the largest state in the USA and fifth largest economy in the world. It is a testament to his political skills that he has been able to recover from his first term difficulties to become a popular second term governor with a reputation for tackling difficult economic issues in a bi-partisan manner and reaching out to those typically disaffected with the Republican Party.

However, an American citizen who was not born in the United States is ineligible to become President. Would John McCain risk handing the White House to a Democrat (let alone Nancy Pelosi) if he were to die in office. Speaker of the house - is third in line to the Presidency.

Condi Rice

The first female African American Secretary of State is as glamorous and poised as she is smart and shrewd. She has won many international admirers with her manner and charm.

The selection of Ms. Rice as Veep would make the Democrats ground breaking African American man vs. Woman race look decidedly old hat and would be ‘a game changer’, making a Republican candidate look like the forward thinking progressive choice.

There had also been consistent rumours that Ms. Rice would run for the top job herself, with speculation reaching such a fever pitch that tabloid trash writing Dick Morris even penned a book entitled Condi vs. Hillary, hypothesising that this would be the next big presidential race (how accurate that turned out to be!)

The big problem is, of course, Iraq. There are few who are more associated with the Bush administrations Iraq policy than Condi Rice. Having served throughout both of President Bush’s administrations she has been involved with the planning and management of the invasion and occupation from the beginning.

With John McCain attempting to distance himself from the toxic ratings of George Bush, having Rice on the ticket would unnecessarily remind the voters that he is an Iraq war supporting Republican who has backed his unpopular party in 83% of his Senate votes.

It would be a home run for the Democrats attempting to paint John McCain as a third Bush term.

With so much attention being given to John McCains age and the elevated importance this will give to his Vice Presidential selection, is Rice really the best candidate to reassure nervous potential McCain voters?

Ms Rice’s background before serving as National Security advisor and then Secretary of State has been in academics. She has little known domestic politics experience and has never ran for elected office herself - making her a complete unknown on the campaign stump.

What’s more, Rice is unmarried, which would inevitably lead to speculation about her romantic life- including, I would imagine, her sexuality.

Rudy Gulliani

The one time Republican front runner dropped out of the race with a whimper following his third place showing in the January Florida primary. The huge strategic blunder of skipping all of the early states meant Rudy was left struggling for votes against Ron Paul in 5th place in Iowa and New Hampshire.

But out of the ashes of his spectacular implosion, Rudy has become an active surrogate for John McCain.

His liberal views - pro choice, pro civil unions, pro gun regulation would likely infuriate the more right wing Republicans who are already sceptical about John McCains conservative credentials.

Details of his murky business dealings and shady associates came to light during the campaign and would certainly reappear with greater urgency in a general election.

His unconventional marriage track record would also turn off many family value conservatives - he has been married three times and divorced his second wife under very public circumstances.

On the plus side, even though his reputations for 9/11 leadership was tarnished during the primaries - at one point diminishing him to Mr. 9/11 + noun + verb - he is still Americas Mayor who was greaty admired for his steadfast leadership in the aftermath of the terrorist attack - he was eve knighted by the Queen of England!

A President also wants a VP who has signed up whole heartedly to his or her agenda -meaning that in their absence, they can be trusted to continue a certain course of policy and leadership. Had Reagans would be assassin been an inch or two more accurate, Reaganism would have been a political phenomenon lasting all of 2 months. Gulliani and McCain made little secret of their admiration for one another on the campaign and Gulliani has whole heartedly and enthusiastically signed up to Senator McCains agenda.

Gulliani may also be able to help bring New York in to play and would certainly help with McCains appeal to independent voters.

General David Patraeus

This would possibly be the most controversial pick that John McCain could make. He has made no secret of his admiration for the Generals handling of the Iraq surge strategy - something that McCain was calling for almost from the first tank arriving in Baghdad

But the wrath that would reign down from the Move On liberals would be ferocious. General Betray-Us as he was nicknamed by move-on.org would signal McCain was ready to stay in Iraq as long as necessary to achieve his promise of victory.

It would reinforce McCains message that he is a foreign policy authority who can be trusted with the welfare of American troops.

But would his presence on the ticket make Iraq centre stage, rather than the broader issue of national security?

What's more, very little is known about Patraeus’ views on non-military matters and has never run for elected office before. In fact, we don't even know his party affiliation!

It would also be another stark reminder of McCains links to Bush’s Iraq strategy - after all, he was Bush's pick for commander of troops in Iraq.

And my guess will be that instead of reinforcing a message that McCain already trumps Obama on in many peoples mind (National Security), he will want to draft someone on to the ticket who can strengthen his economic credentials - after all, McCain readily admits that economics is not his strong point.

Joe Lieberman

Al Gore’s Vice Presidential pick in the 2000 contest against George W. Bush has since become a strong advocate for Senator McCain's campaign for the presidency.

Since 2000 he has been abandoned by his less hawkish state party and forced to run for re-election to for his Senate seat as an Independent - succeeding in defeating the Democratic Party candidate.

Even so, Lieberman has continued to caucus with the Democratic party and has voted with the party in 81% of Senate votes.

And although he may be too conservative for some Democratic tastes, I can guarantee placing him on the ticket together would soon mobilise an infuriated Republican right to label him a looney liberal for his pro choice, pro gay, pro gun regulation views.

And having seen many, many pictures of McCain and Lieberman together on the campaign trail, I can say that they certainly do not set the world alight with their charisma and spark. What’s more, Mr Lieberman is 66 years old - hardly a youthful balance to John McCain’s 71 years. Between them they would have a combined age of 137 years!

But it would paint McCain as a bi-partisan maverick who is not afraid of reaching (although not too far) across party lines. Could also help bring in the all important jewish vote in Florida...

Jeb Bush

Paying homage to a Republican Party dynasty could potentially mobilise currently sceptical evangelicals to back Mr McCain and complete his transformation from outsider maverick to party establishment candidate.

It would almost certainly give him a large boost in Florida where Jeb was a popular governor and could be used to reach out to the Hispanic community - Jeb’s wife is latino and their photogenic son, George P. Bush would potentially be an asset on the campaign trail.

But lets face it - he’s a Bush, and too many Bushes in a row make a hedge as Jeb once infamously said. And I am sure the Democrats would just be dying to find anything untoward about Jeb’s involvement with brother George’s 527 vote victory in Florida in 2000.

Dick Cheney

OK.......

Just kidding...

Interesting thought...

A friend of mine said something to me over lunch today that got me thinking.

Barack Obama is being hailed as the first black nominee of any major American political party and would become the first black President of the United States if he wins the General Election in November.

Barack Obama is the son of a white American mother from the state of Kansas and a black father from Kenya.

Which led to the debate - if Barack Obama was running to be President of Kenya and was stressing his mothers background and ethnicity, would he be considered the first white President of Kenya?

A rather irrelevant musing, but it did get me thinking...

22 June 2008

Wes Clark Vying For VP Slot?

Former NATO General and 2004 Democratic presidential hopeful Wes Clark has been a vocal backer of Hillary Clinton during the primary contests. After ending speculation that he was preparing for a second run at the White House, Clark chose to become a powerful surrogate for Senator Clinton

I would argue this was largely cold calculation rather than a particular passion with Hillary’s politics - although they do share strong ties to Arkansas. Clark would have taken one look at the 2008 field of candidates and probably deemed that he could not beat then inevitable nominee Hillary Clinton, and would struggle to break in to the top tier of candidates against Obama and Edwards.

But rumours have recently surfaced that Clark is actively lobbying to secure the Vice Presidential spot on Obamas ticket.

This could potentially be a match made in heaven. Obama needs someone one with respected national security credentials - Clark led NATO troops in Kosovo in the 1990’s.

As a prominent Clinton supporter, Clark would also be an ideal unity candidate and be seen as an olive branch to fuse the two warring tribes.

What would prove more difficult is how Clark could remedy his new found affection for Senator Obama with his previous campaign rhetoric where he criticised Obama has being unready to lead on day one.

And for sure I would not rate Clark as amongst the A List of candidates - he is certainly no Clinton or Edwards. But Obama could certainly do worse.