23 August 2008

Barack Obama picks Joe Biden as his running mate!

Presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama has selected fellow U.S. Senator Joe Biden as his running mate.

21 August 2008

Tubbs Jones has died

Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the first black woman to represent Ohio in the U.S. House of Representatives, died Wednesday after suffering brain hemorrhaging caused by an aneurysm, medical officials said.

Tubbs Jones, a 58-year-old Democrat in her fifth term representing parts of Cleveland and its suburbs, suffered the aneurysm Tuesday evening while driving in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, her staff said.

She was rushed to East Cleveland's Huron Hospital, where a team of doctors determined Wednesday morning that she had "very limited brain function," said Dr. Gus Kious, the hospital's chief of staff.

Wednesday afternoon, before Tubbs Jones died, Kious said that the aneurysm was in "an inaccessible part of her brain" and that she was in critical condition.
She died at 6:12 p.m. ET Wednesday after her condition declined "throughout the course of the day and into this evening," according to a joint statement from her family, Huron Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic.


Veep Fever!

As Obama prepares to announce his vice-presidential nominee this week with McCain sure to follow soon, it is clear to many that the second spot on the ticket this year could be more important than in previous years. Both candidates have certain key perceived gaps in their appeal, and the vice-presidential announcements may well be calculated choices to help consolidate their offer to the electorate.

For the Democrats, Obama is relatively young and has a short stint in elected office behind him. He has never been a chief executive in government or business, has never served in the armed forces, and is considered inexperienced in foreign policy. His vice-president will aim to bring some of this to the table. His choice need not necessarily be much older than him, but they will need to demonstrate some of the above skills. Of the rumoured front runners, Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana is not a great deal older, but ticks the chief executive box having been governor of his state in the 1990s. Joe Biden of Delaware has been in the Senate since the early 1970s and is a foreign policy expert. Former senator Sam Nunn of Georgia is much older, and could be seen as a Cheney figure, guiding the younger man without any presidential ambition of his own.

McCain on the other hand has opposite weaknesses. If elected, he will be the second oldest man ever to hold the presidency. He is apparently weak on economic policy. He has spent over twenty years in Washington, and crucially this year, he is a white male. He is definitely looking for someone younger, perhaps much younger, and a Washington insider will not add much to the Republican ticket. Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is half his age and one of the most high profile Asian American politicians in the US. Another Governor, Sarah Palin of Alaska, could add some contrast to the ticket and potentially win over Democratic women still bitter about the defeat of Hillary Clinton. Former candidate Mitt Romney is a successful businessman so could add some economic gravitas, show party unity, and show a clear line of succession to those concerned about McCain’s age.

Of course, people may just vote for the main man this year as they often have done in the past. But the criticisms and media exposure are greater than ever before and therefore a vice-presidential candidate who can deflect attention, assuage fears, and give support and advice to the top man will be a friend indeed.

By Nick Cooper

VP speculation reaches fever pitch

Speculation over the identity of Barack Obama's running mate has been rife over the past few days, with rumours surrounding Joe Biden, Evan Bayh, Kathleen Sebelius and Tim Kaine.

Who do you think it will be?

Friday night and the lights are low...

It’s 2009, and in the deep inner recesses of the White House, President John Sidney McCain III is preparing to meet with his National Security Council to discuss the latest international crisis. As he collects his thoughts and flicks through his notes, a tune drifts into his mind. If you were to stand close enough, you might even hear him mumbling the lyrics under his breath. “Friday night and the lights are low...”

Blender magazine’s report that McCain’s favourite song of all time is ABBA’s Dancing Queen, a choice so improbable and bizarre that McCain has since denied putting it at the top of his list, has rocked the media world. Particularly giddy have been the reactions of the online media, from PerezHilton to CNN.com.

When asked about his number one choice at a press conference on Monday, McCain was keen to point out that he thought he had chosen Frank Sinatra’s I’ve Got You Under My Skin as his favourite, a song which appears much further down Blender’s printed list at number eight. Despite McCain’s correction, the inclusion of two ABBA songs in the presumptive Republican party nominee’s top ten has not gone unnoticed.

Unsurprisingly, Obama’s list encompasses a far greater range of modern songs than McCain’s. The average year of release for the songs on the Democrat’s list is 1983; on McCain’s list, which includes a greater number of classics, it’s 1966. In fact, Dancing Queen is the most recent of McCain’s choices, released in 1976, whilst Obama chooses three songs from the noughties.

This includes will.i.am’s viral Internet music video Yes We Can at number ten, which incorporates soundbites from Obama’s New Hampshire primary concession speech. Narcissistic this choice may seem, but it shows that even when publically picking his favourite songs, Obama concludes with a charismatic wink and a cheeky grin.

Missing from McCain’s list is Running on Empty, the song by Jackson Browne which the McCain campaign team used with reference to Obama in a negative television advert earlier this month. The infamous ad, which compared Obama to celebrities Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, has provoked Browne to sue McCain for using his song without permission.

All songs by Britney Spears and Paris Hilton are also omitted from McCain’s list.

When the contents of George W Bush’s iPod were revealed in April 2005, the presence of anti-establishment bands such as Credence Clearwater Revival appeared as bizarre as McCain’s top 10. However, Bush’s former chief media strategist and cycling partner Mark McKinnon told the New York Times that an iPod playlist which overlooked all anti-establishment artists would be decidedly “slim”.

Whilst Bush’s musical taste may distance him from his politics, McCain’s happy-go-lucky top 10 seems even less congruous with his recent negative campaign ads and the straight-laced conservatism traditionally associated with the Republican party. From the frivolous fun-in-the-sun ambience of the Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations, to the put-on-your-gladrags goodtime feel of Dancing Queen, the prevailing image of McCain is of a 1960s teenager who just wants to have fun (in actual fact, the nominee celebrated his 30th birthday during that particular decade).

The reality is rather different: Good Vibrations was released in October 1966, the same month that McCain was assigned Vietnam war duty.

Mark McKinnon stated in 2005 that political analysts should not read too much into the President’s iPod playlists. Yet in the run-up to the party conventions in the next two weeks, every word and every gesture of each nominee will be scrutinised to the nth degree. Recent research on battleground states, reported by Politicana below, shows just how close the 2008 race could become. Who’s to say it won’t rest on the crucial swing votes of some ABBA fans from Ohio?

By Robert Black