Archive for August 23rd, 2008

August 23, 2008


Bidenfreude (n.) The joy Republicans feel at Democratic despondency over Obama’s vice presidential choice.

Anita Thompson is a wonderful person. I should feel no pleasure at her glum reaction to Old Pluggy as Barack Obama’s running-mate pick. Then again, I recall no sympathy from my liberal friends when Maverick somehow foisted himself on the GOP.

Besides, as Philip Klein reports from Denver, many Democrats in the Hyatt Bar think Joe’s just dandy:

I struck up a conversation with an Obama volunteer from Portland, Oregon, and told him who I write for. After the speech, he came over and confidently said, “you guys are in trouble.”
Though he acknowledged that Biden could be a “loose cannon,” he thinks he’s a known quantity who will bring experience to the ticket.
He was also convinced that Obama was not going to be like John Kerry, but would be prepared to fight back against Republican attacks — especially because he took on the Clinton Machine. “That’s like taking on the frickin’ mafia,” he exclaimed.

So cheer up, Anita: Obama’s disciples believe the Messiah can do no wrong, including picking a veep candidate who comes complete with an extensive GOP oppo-research dossier.

August 23, 2008

D Minus-2: Gonzo on Veeps

I had been without sleep for two or three days at the time, and my temper was close to the surface. Beyond that, I had spent the past five or six days brooding angrily over the list of vice-presidential possibilities that McGovern had floated in the New York Times several days before the convention even started. I recall telling Mankiewicz in the coffee shop on Friday night that I had never seen so many bums and hacks listed in a single paragraph in any publication for any reason. . . .
But Frank assured me that my wrath was premature. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.” . . .
So there was nothing personal in my loud objections to Eagleton a week later. It struck me as a cheap and unncessary concession to the pieced-off ward-heeler syndrom that McGovern had been fighting all along. Tom Eagleton was exactly the kind of VP candidate that Muskie or Humphrey would have chosen: a harmless, Catholic, neo-liberal Rotarian nebbish from one of the border states who presumably wouldn’t make any waves.
Hunter S. Thompson,
Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72

For some reason, the late Dr. G0nzo’s words keep haunting me this year. While so many of the circumstances in this year’s election are unprecedented (“vuja de,” as George Carlin would say), Team Obama keeps making moves that recall the absurd overconfidence of the McGovern campaign in 1972, when Mankiewicz, Hart & Co. seriously believed that the unpopularity of Nixon and the Vietnam war would guarantee the election of whoever won the Democratic Party nomination.

Obama’s choice of Joe Biden strikes me as eerily similar to McGovern’s pick of Tom Eagleton 36 years ago. Unlike Eagleton — a young nobody in ’72 when he was tapped for the No. 2 spot — Biden is a known quantity, and all of Biden’s scandals are old news. While there may be some undiscovered conflict-of-interest scandal lurking in Joe’s closet, we’re unlikely to be shocked (pardon the pun) by any revelation of secret treatment for mental illness.

Yet Biden is definitely a concession to the Old Guard, “the Ultimate Washington Insider,” as Patrick Ruffini says, and exactly the sort of Establishment figure that HST would have denounced as a “bum” and a “hack.”

Beyond that, naming the choice in the wee hours Saturday completely undercuts the obstensible purpose of the text-message announcement idea. When this idea was originally announced, you could see its brilliance: About 11 a.m. on a weekday, for instance, the text message would go out, everybody would get it on their cellphones or Blackberries, and the name of the nominee would spread via word-of-mouth buzz in the workplace. Supporters would have the exciting memory of one of those “I remember exactly where I was” moments.

Instead, the campaign dawdled so long that (a) there could not possibly be any word-of-mouth factor, and (b) the MSM beat them to the punch. As Ed Morrissey says:

I’m not sure a political campaign could possibly screw up a running-mate announcement as badly as Team Obama.

Well, it could be done, Ed: McGovern waited until 4 p.m. on the Thursday of the convention before making the call to Eagleton. Still, as in ’72, the disappointment of many on the Left is palpable, especially among Hillary’s supporters like Jeralyn Merritt (who is “underwhelmed and greatly disappointed”) and Big Tent Democrat, who says, “Hell of a rollout. Not.”

Enough of that. My flight for Denver leaves tomorrow, and between now and then I’ve got two articles to write, including about 1,400 words of print-only reporting that will require me to transcribe audio (my least favorite job in the world). So I’ve got to stop blogging and start writing, and you can’t expect many updates from me until I’ve at least made some headway on that stuff.

UPDATE: 350 words into writing the first of two pieces, I take a break to note Michael Goldfarb’s observation:

But what’s with holding the text message until 3 a.m. for Joe Biden? The only explanation that makes any sense is that Team Obama just couldn’t resist one last dig at Hillary.

Allahpundit disagrees:

A likelier explanation: They meant to send it out this morning, but the networks scooped them by confirming the pick around midnight so they had to push it out ahead of schedule to save as much face as possible.

Either way, they’ve pushed it into the Saturday news cycle and blown whatever word-of-mouth buzz factor they might have gotten by sending the message in the middle of a weekday.

UPDATE II: Linked by Memorandum, Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft, Moe Lane at Red State, and Stephen Green at Vodka Pundit. Thanks all. And hey, Tommy Chong says Joe Biden’s a narc — pass it on, man!

UPDATE III: Ed Driscoll links with “The Enharshening of the Mellow.” Wow. Heavy, man.

August 23, 2008


The text message heard ’round the world.

Why did they wait until after midnight? What was the thinking there?

PJM has a quick rundown of blog reaction. I’ll add more after I drink a cup of coffee.

UPDATE: OK, the straight news from Associated Press:

Barack Obama named Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware as his vice presidential running mate early Saturday, balancing his ticket with a seasoned congressional veteran well-versed in foreign policy and defense issues.
Obama announced the pick on his Web site with a photo of the two men and an appeal for donations. A text message went out shortly afterward that said, “Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee.”
Biden, 65, has twice sought the White House, and is a Catholic with blue-collar roots, a generally liberal voting record and a reputation as a long-winded orator.

You can say that again. And again.

UPDATE II: Man, that was quick:

UPDATE II: Something tells me the graphics department at Obama HQ wasn’t very excited about having to work late Friday night on this announcement.

VodkaPundit‘s got the slogan:

Change you can believe in — because it’s been in Washington since 1973 already.

Yeah. That works.

UPDATE III: Michelle Malkin dubs it the “Smarmy & Smirky” ticket, probably because “Ren & Stimpy” was already taken.

Linking the story of Biden’s notorious plagiarism, Ed Morrissey says:

Now Obama, who supposedly represents a new brand of politics, has instead hitched his wagon to an old-time pol who has trouble coming up with his own words when he campaigns. That’s desperation, and what’s more, it’s obvious desperation. And in politics, just as in dating, desperation is not an aphrodisiac.

Bridget Johnson of the Rocky Mountain News:

Joe Biden, change?? Biden, the sixth-longest-serving and notoriously long-winded senator? Biden, who was named a Face for the Future by Time magazine in his freshman senatorial year — in 1974, before I was even born? Biden, who withdrew from the 1988 presidential race after speech-plagiarizing and school-grade-exaggerating scandals? Biden, who snagged a whopping 1% of Iowa delegates in January?

But, but, but … Biden is so beloved by the “progressive netroots community”!

UPDATE IV: Gonzo on Veeps.

UPDATE IV: Linked by Fausta. Thanks.

UPDATE V: Linked by Dad29, who offers what is likely to be a common reaction of Catholic traditionalists to Obama’s pick of a pro-choice “Catholic.”

August 23, 2008

Team Obama hits Cindy McCain

Team McCain spokewoman responds:

“It is profoundly disappointing to see surrogates for Barack Obama attacking Cindy McCain, particularly after Obama himself claimed that ‘families are off limits’ and pledged to ‘speak out against’ attacks on spouses in this campaign. If Barack Obama expects the American people to believe he is a man of his word, he has a personal responsibility to condemn this ad.”

(Via Hot Air.) But this is fine. If Team Obama wants to say spouses and personal income are fair game, then everything Michelle Obama has said or done, including her financial dealings with her husband’s campaign donors, is now a reasonable subject of discussion. We’ll see if Obama can take it as well as he dishes it out.

August 23, 2008

Still no Obama veep?

I took my family to a baseball game (the home team lost 6-1) and came home expecting that Obama would have announced his veep. Instead, nothing but rumors.

Everybody’s hearing Biden. John McCormack at the Weekly Standard hears it’s Biden. NBC says it’s Biden.

Meanwhile, Hot Air found a story out of Kansas City that Obama-Bayh ’08 bumper stickers were already being printed. But that fizzled and Team Obama says the announcement will come Saturday morning. Then CNN noticed a “flurry of activity” at the Biden residence. I think Allah nailed the general reaction:

Is that really happening? After a week of excruciating suspense, the big revelation is Joe Hairplugs?

Exactly. I mean, after all the wild speculation (hey, what happened to the Chet Edwards bubble?) now it comes down to a guy who made his first White House bid in 1988? Anti-climatic in the extreme. The oddly delayed announcement drew this reaction from Ed Morrisey:

In fact, one has to wonder whether Obama really had made up his mind, or whether his first or even second choice didn’t turn him down. That would explain the delays in the announcement, and the apparent disorganization of Team Obama in handling an event that should have underscored the seriousness of their candidate. After all, they set the expectation that the running mate announcement would come this week, and they missed their own target.

Is it still too late for Obama-Eagleton?

UPDATE 11:35 p.m.: Clinched?

The United States Secret Service has dispatched a protective detail to assume the immediate protection of Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., a source tells ABC News, indicating in all likelihood that Biden has been officially notified that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, has selected him to be his running mate.
Sources also tell ABC News that two others said to be finalists for the position of Obama’s running mate — Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and Virginia Gov Tim Kaine — have been told they have not been selected for the vice presidential slot.

So says Jake Tapper, whose original claim to fame was having once dated Monica Lewinsky.

UPDATE 11:45 p.m.: Seems kind of obvious by now, but Hillary has been informed she’s not the running mate. Meanwhile, given Biden’s reputation for “clean and articulate”-type quotes, Dan Riehl says:

Secret Service enroute to protect Joe Biden? Better hurry before he shoots himself in the foot before the official announcement. That is, if his foot isn’t already in his mouth, of course!

This promises 10 weeks of non-stop gaffes, clarifications, damage control and apologies.

UPDATE 12:20 a.m. Saturday: Politico:

As it now stands, his announcement will land on a weekend and bleed right into the nominating convention — a time when a nominee can already expect to be nominating national attention.
What’s more, by keeping expectations hanging for so long, Obama makes it harder to deliver on all the anticipation. A weeks-long strip tease, ending with a naked Joe Biden or Evan Bayh — or some other safe but unsexy choice — might prove deflating.

The thing is, Joe is old news. Very old news. And he’s got no executive experience. To jerk around the national press for a full week, only to deliver Joe Biden — this is a disappointment. Imagine the reactions of those poor saps getting their text messages: “WTF? Dude. Joe Biden?”