Friday, August 29, 2008

The Paper Maverick

John McCain made a splash by naming little known Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate in Ohio. But a splash is about all he should get credit for as the John McCain I used to respect so much and have always viewed as a true independent thinker used his VP pick to retreat into the kind of expediency of typical politicians like the ones he claims to be different from.

There has been a lot of reaction to this pick. Some are calling it brilliant, some a risk, yet above all people are asking is Palin ready to be a heartbeat from the Presidency. If anyone asks this question about a VP pick, that means its a failure in my eyes.

In the inspiration for much of this blog Aaron Sorkin's West Wing, this situation came up once when they were debating replacing the sitting VP on the reelection ticket. Fictional President Bartlet said he would replace VP John Hoynes because of four words.

"Because I could die."

The VP job gets a lot of flack because much of the job is ceremonial and there are very few Constitutional responsibilities. Yet, the one most important responsibility is to be ready to assume the Presidency.

Above all McCain is getting credit for two things. First, keeping a secret exceptionally well and second, stealing some of the spotlight from the incredible Obama speech the night before. Americans deserve more from their Presidential Candidates than those that can keep secrets on Richard Branson-like publicity stunts.

Palin is a mysterious and intriguing pick who has and will continue to generate a lot of interest. That initial buzz will provide some that people will want to learn about and has the cover, or mirage of being a bold and Maverick-like move.

This move was not at all about being a Maverick, this move was a knee jerk reaction to the incredible convention that the Democrats staged in Denver. This was a desperate pick for a candidate that had spent much of the last month gaining ground. It goes against everything that caused me for years to say I could vote for John McCain.

McCain got the label Maverick by standing up to his own party, by putting his values and judgement before those of his party. In choosing Sarah Palin he abandoned that judgement in order to gamble both his candidacy and if he wins, his Presidency on a person he met only once before choosing her.

Now since I have graduated college I have worked on four campaigns, two advertising agencies, and my current employer. At none of those jobs did I ever have to go through less than three interviews. In some of them I have known the CEO's of the company since I was 14 years old. They viewed their companies or campaigns as too important to really make sure I was the right fit.

John McCain took the process so seriously that we learned last night that he had his most serious conversation with her the Thursday before the Friday announcement. With Hurricane season upon us do we need to be reminded of bad political appointments (Mike Brown) and that qualifications actually matter when it comes to jobs as important as FEMA, the Vice Presidency, or dare I say the Presidency.

People can always tell me that I follow issues more than most people and that most Americans want to relate to the candidates. But this is our country, is it too much to ask that our candidates thoroughly interview the person who would take over the Presidency should something happen to them.

As you may notice I didn't respond to this pick until today. My initial reaction was anger at McCain and I try to not write when I am angry. But anger that McCain has failed in his first test, picking someone of non debatable qualifications who would be able to succeed him.

My second bit of disappointment in him is that the Maverick went against what he really wanted to do. In the past couple days it was clear that he really wanted to take loyal soldiers and eminently qualified candidates in Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge. Yet the radical right mistrusts McCains pro-life credentials so much that they threatened a floor fight against them because despite the fact they both would be qualified VP's they aren't for criminalization of abortion.

Again the ideology of the Republican party dictates the day.

The courageous McCain then sold out his own beliefs and judgement and made a decision that kissed the ass of the James Dobson, Rush Limbaughs, and Richard Lands of the Republican party. These are the people that don't appeal to the moderate or independent voters of this country and the people McCain made his 'Maverick' label by taking on.

The Republicans, and Joe Lieberman can say 'Maverick' all they want this week, but this pick is just the latest sell out move of the artist formerly known as 'The Maverick' John McCain.

Yes We Must,,,, WIN!

If you didn't see the speech of Barack Obama last evening it is one of the rare 'must see' moments in politics. 84,000 people flooded Invesco Field and saw our next President.

Watch the speech by clicking on this link.

It was powerful, it was moving, it was a game changer. While Obama has had his lead chipped away as of late and questions have been asked if he had the strength to stand up to attacks, he answered all those questions and then some.

Obama showed the country last night he is going to take the fight to the Republicans on his turf, on their turf, and on our behalf to take our nation out of the darkness of the Bush debaccle for the past eight years. He has put the Republicans on notice, this is not 4 or 8 years ago, we are not afraid of your attacks anymore.

While I voted for Barack in the primary, I have had a hard time really embracing him at any point of the election. There has been a disconnect for me. I have wondered if someone with more experience should be our choice. I have never bought the JFK or RFK comparisons, and I am a different voter, rhetoric doesn't appeal to me. Actually governing to help people is what I care about.

Seeing this convention has me on board and its time to start fighting harder for Barack Obama to be President. Not just his speech last night which was great. This convention reminded me why my 401K has shrunk, why my money is going less far, why my country has been damaged in the eyes of the World. It reminded all of us, where Barack and Michelle Obama come from, and where Joe Biden comes from.

They may not have lives we relate to today, but their upbringings resonate, and unlike windsurfers or $500 haircuts, it can't be painted that these guys don't care or are out of touch.

For two elections, we let our fears guide us and we let bullshit cloud our judgement. We had candidates who were smart and brilliant men allow street fighters to knife us in the gut. This convention we said as Barack said last night, "Enough".

We saw Michelle Obama, and said, there's a first lady. We saw Joe Biden, and thought, he may not be a huge vote getter, but he is the right person to be VP. We heard Hillary and Bill Clinton tell us of the importance of getting back to a time when our country grows for all of us, and uses the words 'responsibility' and 'accountability', not as slogans, but as ways of governing to lift us all up.

It is important to note, last night is just one speech. There are 9+ weeks to go and anything can happen either way. There will be four debates with a lot on the line for both sides. Conventions don't win elections, but they can lose them, and the Democrats sure as hell didn't lose the election and certainly got a big boost positive for them going forward.

This election is about the future of the country and Barack Obama is that future.

***** As was mentioned by Brian Williams last night, there was a Sorkin-esque tone to the speech last night. Less President Bartlett and more President Shepherd from The American President. Below is the brilliant last speech of that movie.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Convention Night Three:

The third night of the Democratic National Convention was another strong night for the Democrats. I can't call it a monster night for them, but it certainly was a very good night for them. It was the night they took off the gloves and hammered the abomination of the past eight years of darkness of George W Bush. I was thrilled to hear Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and Joe Biden finally start to draw lines of distinction and hammer away at John McCain.

They were tough, they were clear, and most importantly they all did it with respect and did not have the ugly hatred and crassness that is usually reserved for the Republican Convention. This convention has really been a lot like 1992 where the lines of difference have been drawn, people have been alerted to the economic failures by another Bush, and the youth, diversity, and promise of the Democrats have been on showcase.

In 1992 the Republicans followed with a hate fest led by the likes of Pat Buchanan who spewed irrational ugliness against Democrats, Hillary Clinton in particular. It backfired and we'll see how the Republicans come back next week. McCain has come back by going negative so how they go positive in a convention they have to let George Bush speak at will be a tough needle to thread.

If Barack's speech in front of 80,000 people at Invesco Field in Denver this evening is the home run he is so capable of hitting, the Dems will be in great shape and put the Republicans in an awkward position in Minneapolis next week.


The Democrats orchestrated quite a show during the Roll Call vote of delegates. The speeches of the state party chairs were long winded and agonizing (like some people say this blog is), and then rumors started swirling of New Mexico deferring to Illinois who would defer to New York.

Mayor Daley spoke for Illinois. I mention this for three reasons, 1st he said the 'home of the 2008 World Series between the Cubs and White Sox; 2nd, he's the best Mayor in the country and my Mayor, and 3rd, because no one wants an Obama victory more than Daley. Chicago is fighting to be the host for the 2016 Summer Olympics and an Obama victory would greatly enhance the chances of Chicago to win the bid.

Daley passed to New York where Hillary Clinton was walking to the convention floor with a posse of the New York Congressional Delegation. In an appropriate and well scripted move, Hillary Clinton, she of 18million primary votes, who fought tooth and nail until the last possible moment, moved to nominate Barack Obama by acclamation.

Symbols, gestures, and actions matter. I though Hillary walking to the floor like she was a WWE Wrestler rushing the ring unexpectedly was a bit over the top, but you can't under emphasize the fact that Clinton made the effort and motion to the delegates on the floor of that convention.


Democratic, enemy number one, of this blog has been John Kerry. Last night John Kerry reached out to me and many other Democrats and showed what we wished he was four years ago.

His speech on the election was full of some of the best lines of the evening. Too bad he has fallen from importance so fast that almost no one even pays attention. Click on this link to see the Kerry speech. This speech was full of the 'red meat' Democrats have been begging for and from the guy that considered putting John McCain on the Democratic ticket in 2004. See it by clicking this link.

This John Kerry would have won four years ago. My favorite lines...

"They misread the threat and misled the country"

"Talk about being for it, before you're against it."

"To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician"


At the end of the first paragraph of Bill Clinton's speech last evening, the 1st paragraph after a three and a half minute raucous standing ovation, he said "I love Joe Biden".

Well, after that speech by Bubba, I can say, "I love Bill Clinton."

The man is the best we have ever seen in drawing contrasts and making things simple and clear to understand. Embedded above is his speech from last night and if you watch it you will say, 'THAT MAKES SENSE!!

Bill rocked the house and the rumors that he would be booed were ridiculous. The struggles of the Obama campaign have made people appreciate the brilliance of Bill Clinton on the campaign trail. The result was the biggest ovation of the Convention thus far.

Did he lose his shit during the campaign a couple times?

Yes, but he was defending and fighting for his wife. As I wrote a number of times during the primary, it is easier to be the candidate than the spouse of the candidate. To see coverage go against your spouse is gut wrenching and Bill over reacted a couple times, but he did what a husband should do, advocate and defend his wife.

I felt he was clear in his support for Obama, even better than Hillary was the night before. His speech was less powerful and poetic, but it was a better campaign and convention speech.

The question will now be if the Obama campaign does what the Kerry campaign didn't. Take the Clinton speech and use it! Don't feel the ego to have the message be totally yours, because the Clinton messaging is 99% better than that of the Democratic party.

They also have to embrace Bill Clinton and travel with him. Both Biden and Obama should never go a week without an event in a swing state with Bill Clinton, because he is still "The Natural" when it comes to campaigning, and without the anger of defending his wife he will be better than ever. An Obama loss would stain the Clinton legacy and reputation. Their speeches were great, but now they have to deliver on the campaign trail.


This is the speech of the night I think fell flatter than I would have liked. Reading the text of the speech it was great, but Biden stepped on it at a couple key points.

Yet the overall presentation was a B+/A-. The intro video telling the story of Joe Biden was fantastic (will post here as soon as I find it). And the intro of his son (embedded below) was a moving story that had half the convention in tears. The Biden narrative really carried the night and covered the weaknesses of the speech.

Unfortunately Joe Biden did not kill it like I hoped he would. However, this is exactly what I feared when I wrote "Anyone Want to Pick a VP?". Delaying that pick meant that Biden had little time to work and fine tune a convention speech. He hasn't been on the trail for more than a week and is in the spring training of the Obama-Biden ticket.

They probably started the writing the convention speech last Saturday. They most likely fine tuned it up until Tuesday night and the result was that Biden had far too little time to work on it to get up there and nail it. There was a great deal of importance on this speech and Biden did really good, but not great. If Obama made the choice a week earlier, Biden would have had his legs underneath him and some practice and I think he would have been much better.

Look at the speeches by Bill and Hillary Clinton. Don't kid yourself that they were written in the last week. They had been working, practicing, and finetuning them for weeks. That is why they hit them out of the park.

Now I don't give Biden a total pass, he has to take some heat for the performance too. He needed to hit the Cheney line better and should have been a little smoother on the call and response at the end of the speech, but considering the way they rushed the announcement and the speech I thought he did pretty well.

Couple a B- delivery with an A speech and and A+ intro and narrative and Biden still had a great night.

Just like Bill Clinton, 'I love Joe Biden' too. Yet, he could and should have been better.

Now is the time for Barack Obama to deliver. The stakes are higher than ever, he needs to nail this speech...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

HRC= Home Run Clinton!

Like many Democrats there were two speeches at this convention I have truly been looking forward to. Neither of them had a speaker whose name was Barack Obama. Instead as it so often is the Democratic Party the anticipation was all about the Clinton's.

Hillary Clinton took to the stage last night and showed her best side. A feat that she has not always done throughout this race. At times she has showed her defiant side, her self pity side, and her bear knuckles brawler side.

Last night she showed the side of her that would have won her the nomination had she consistently stuck to it. The performance last night was big for the Party, big for Barack Obama's chances, and most importantly for her, will solidify herself as a political force for years to come.

She was passionate on her issues, steadfast in her commitment to Barack Obama, and very sharp in her attacks on John McCain. It may have been the best speech I have ever seen her give and it was exactly the tone and speech she needed to give. She couldn't be an attack dog on McCain, but she couldn't give him a free pass either.

Some are saying her line, "I cannot wait to watch Barack Obama sign into law a health care plan that covers every single American", was a slap at Obama's health care plan. Let me ask this. Had she not pushed her signature issue and passed on it wouldn't she be getting slammed even worse? If I were a loyal Hillary supporter and she didn't mention Universal Health Care I would have thought she sold out her core belief for unity. She didn't give in on her issues and I respect that more than if she came out and gave a fluff speech.

Keep in mind,, her issues were always General Election issues. In retrospect this is probably why she lost to Obama, but her core issues are the ones he needs to win in November.

Now I am not going to say everything went perfect last night. Bill Clinton mouthing the words 'I love you' was just plain odd. He is fascinating to watch, and I am in the minority who believes he really loves his wife but it was sooo cheesy. Bill Clinton is a fascinating figure though and I thought the point by Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann was dead on. "There is no one more interesting to watch do nothing than Bill Clinton."

Additionally, I just didn't get all the people the cameras found I just ask,, really? Crying during that speech never crossed my mind. As good a speaker as Hillary has become, I don't think she was tear worthy, just the same way I wrote in February about people fainting during Obama speeches.

And finally, to the die hard Hillary supporters that are saying they won't vote for Obama because they feel 'she got screwed.' You can do whatever you want, but you should listen to your candidate.

"Nothing less than the fate of our nation and the future of our children hangs in the balance. I want you to think about your children and grandchildren come election day. Think about the choices your parents and grandparents made that had such a big impact on your lives and on the life of our nation.

We've got to ensure that the choice we make in this election honors the sacrifices of all who came before us and will fill the lives of our children with possibility and hope. That is our duty to build that bright future, to teach our children that in America there is no chasm too deep, no barrier too great, no ceiling too high, for all who work hard, who keep going, have faith in God and our country and each other.That is our mission Democrats!"

It was a great speech with wonderful writing and it needed a big time delivery. Hillary hit it out of the park.

I'm a baseball fan way before politics and look at the convention this way thus far. Michelle Obama led the game off with a triple off the wall. Hillary drove her in with a two run homer. Now the Dems have their two 3 and 4 hitters (always the best in any lineup) to come out and win the game.

No disrespect to my guy Joe Biden, but in recent times there are not two better speakers than Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. This is Ruth and Gehrig for the Democrats.

Hillary Clinton laid a challenge to them last night and I think they're going to bring it the next two nights!


Hillary was introduced by her daughter and the video below. I thought this was really, really good. I greatly enjoyed it and think if you have daughters, it is the kind of thing you should share with them.

Like her or not, what Hillary Clinton did will change the way we view women candidates and owe her a great deal of gratitude for that. She may have lost, but she went for it like no woman ever has before.

Even tough guy me who doesn't cry during wedding toasts or faint during speeches got choked up with the video below. I'm not a father yet, but I thought of two of my best friends three daughters Keira, Reagan, and Caroline whom I love to death and my crazy little Goddaughter Lilly while watching this. Noone has to say 'suuuure you can be President' to any of them anymore, and not mean it. Hillary Clinton moved the cause for all women forward despite what her irrational haters will say.

When those four little girls are old enough to understand, I want them to see this video and talk to them about the 2008 campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton. How she nearly blasted through that last great glass ceiling, and paved the way for women to go toe to toe with the men and make us all truly think about a woman in the White House. (Ironically, none of the parents of the 4 little girl I named,,, would have voted for Hillary, lol)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Convention Night One

I am not a big believer in conventions impacting elections but the Democrats had as good a first night as they could have hoped for. The opening of two weeks of 'Political Infomercials' started with something old, ended with something new, and hopefully will help kick start the Democrats to cover the electoral map in blue.

Ted Kennedy made a not so surprising appearance where he basically came from a hospital bed to ignite the crowd of true blue Democrats like only a person with the name Kennedy could. There was a wonderful video tribute to Kennedy by Ken Burns that led into Caroline Kennedy's introduction of her uncle.

It certainly wasn't the Kennedy of old and the impact of the brain tumor was evident, but certainly not as bad as I thought it would be. The best line of the speech to me was the fact he said he would be in the Senate next January after an Obama election. I sure hope the Liberal Lion is back and healthy for many more years.

The headliner of the night was the potential next first lady of the United States of America, Michele Obama. I think it was so refreshing to see a new, young face on the stage at the convention. While Barack has talked of hope and change, his recent speeches have lacked the fire and power he had earlier in the campaign. This changed last night when Michelle Obama took the stage. It was a wonderful and hopeful speech where I really felt I was looking at someone who would be an incredible 1st lady.

Michelle Obama has the intelligence and strength of Hillary Clinton without that steely edge which turned so many people off. She has the warmth and likability of Laura Bush without being so boring you felt like you would fall asleep during her speech.

The introduction by her brother, Craig Robinson was excellent. The stories of Michele and her brother growing up on the Southside of Chicago, making it to Princeton, and seeing them control the stage at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 is rather compelling.

Above all, the Opening Night in primetime was less about 'politicians' and more about people and think that will play well in the end. Yes Kennedy is as well known a pol as there is but the story was the impressive bother sister duo of Craig Robinson and Michelle Obama.

I have been slipping away from this campaign and the Obama campaign the past couple months. Yet that is a common thing over the summer for most people and the old belief is that the election doesn't really get started until Labor Day.

Well Obama has had a big week or so. He got great buzz leading up to his VP selection, made a great choice in Joe Biden, and then had his wife hit a home run to lead off the convention. A very high bar was set for Cindy McCain to follow.

The problem many believe for Barack is he has to cross his fingers now as the next two nights of the Convention go very heavy Clinton with Hillary tonight and Bill tomorrow. I believe though that in the end the Clinton's are going to deliver big for the Democrats and Obama. I view the Clinton's following the feel good and wonderful story of Michelle Obama as just what the Democrats need.

To ensure victory in this election, the Dems need to go on the attack and Hillary and Bill are better at this than anyone. It would have been bad form and poorly timed for Michelle Obama to do the attacking, but her appearance has to be in prime time so getting it out of the way early was good strategy.

Two strategists I respect a great deal, James Carville and Paul Begala both are begging for attacks at the convention and I agree to an extent. Yet I don't think it needed to be last night. Let people talk today about Michelle Obama and how she would make a great 1st lady. Then have Hillary, Bill, and Biden remind the American people what an abomination the past eight years have been and how McCain will be an extension of that. They need to fire people up, talk about gas prices, corruption, Republican fiscal irresponsibility, and say Bush-McCain-Cheney as often as possible.

Then Barack has to come in and close this Convention with a big time speech. It isn't a speech where he can afford misspeaks or things that will be mocked. It needs to be a speech that inspires and that is a taller order than people realize. This will be the biggest speech he gives in this election and the importance cannot be understated. He needs a big bounce off this convention and fouling off this speech will haunt him heading into McCains VP pick and the Convention.

The convention got off to a great start for the Dem's, but they are not in a position for a 4 day feel good fest. Hillary needs to unequivocally throw her support behind Obama, let women know the importance of losing, and start the attacks on McCain. Bill's speech will be the highlight and knowing him he will draw the distinction between Obama and McCain better than anyone, then Biden will show his toughness and experience. I have confidence in all of that.

The question will be, can Barack bring 'it' on Thursday?

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Pick is Joe Biden

In a recent IM (Instant Message) discussion with one of my dearest Republican friends I said that if Obama picked Joe Biden as his running mate it wouldn't really excite me. With the recent struggles of the Obama campaign I was starting to lean towards him taking Hillary Clinton and felt that was the only choice he could make that would create excitement and get him votes.

I committed the mistake many pols make, I started to panic when I shouldn't have and thought he needed a VP with a big contincuency like Hillary with women, Evan Bayh with Indiana, or Tim Kaine with Virginia. These three all have more flaws than Biden. The election has to be about Obama and by picking Hillary the election would have been all Clinton, all the time. Bayh is a good guy, but boring and wouldn't have brought any gravitas to the ticket. Kaine I really liked and think he helped in Virginia, but Kaine would have been the pick if Obama were up 15. Obama needed experience on the ticket and I like the spin that Biden hasn't been changed by Washington.

I am ashamed of my negative recent feelings about Biden. He is a man I really respect. Last November I was talking to a friend and said if I could have financially, I would have quit my job and gone to work for Biden in Iowa. Joe Biden has been my favorite Senator for some time and a man I have always admired and identified with. When I hear Biden talk I usually think two things. 1st, wow, that's what I was thinking. 2nd, Joe, wrap it up!

After the Iowa caucuses I concluded my blog post by writing the following about Biden.

And to Joe Biden, one of my favorite Senators and the person I would have voted for, you deserved better. The intelligence, experience, and eloquence of Joe Biden is an important voice for this country and hope he gets strong consideration for the VP slot on the ticket for either Hillary or Obama as they and the country would both would greatly benefit from this true statesman.
I should have stayed more firm in my support for Biden throughout the process, but am excited to have him on the ticket today. The biography or 'narrative' of Joe Biden is even more compelling than I knew. He appears to be a family man in a business that doesn't lead to that being an easy thing to do and his 'blue collar' roots are deeper than I realized and I respect that.

I read the other day that he can't stand the 'limousine liberal' crowd, and that spoke directly to liberals like me. We that can't stand people who talk about helping the poor or struggling, but want nothing to do with them in their neighborhoods or life.

I watched him on Saturday and was energized about the Democratic ticket in a way I haven't been in,,,, well,,, ever. I was reminded about why I love Biden so much. He delivers clear attacks without sounding like a complete jerk. Plus I know I'm the minority, but I think it's great that he is so incredibly qualified.

I went back to the 1st ever blog on this website where I reviewed a Democratic debate and here is what I wrote then.

Edwards is no longer my candidate. Last night I decided to leave one guy who probably won’t win the nomination for another guy who definitely won’t win the nomination. Joe Biden proved to be the smartest, most thoughtful person on the stage. Biden was the clear winner of the debate when it comes to issues.

He was concise, clear, funny and eloquent on actual issues. Biden was passionate talking about education, brilliant in illustrating an Iraq strategy,made sense out of the messy situation that is Pakistan, and flashed his credentials on the Senate Judiciary committee when the story of the next Supreme Court justice came up.

My concern with Biden is that he is too old school to do well in the era of sound clips. I feel he is too much like me on this blog, "why say 10 words when 100 will do?". We are at a time when it's time to be more detailed and stop treating the nation like we all have ADD?

I have always identified with Joe Biden in a way I have with almost no other politician. I have always viewed myself as a 'common sense liberal' and think that is what Biden is. We are unionists who put real blue collar issues, above all and are willing to mix it up for what we believe when most Dems are chickenshits on hot button issues. Whether it be true education reform, not the lame ass 'No Child Left Behind', or the intelligent, non-macho, foreign policy Biden can and will go toe to toe with everyone.

Personally, I feel a connection to his work ethic and values instilled by humble, hard working parents. We also both went through a scary unforeseen medical condition. I bet that Biden's 1988 aneurysm was the kind of experience that even in his 40's gave him a toughness that those who haven't had an experience like that totally understand.

As I already stated, we also both can't shut up and sometimes lose arguments and attention by rambling. We may win on content, but not on conciseness. Though as I try to do on this blog Biden uses humor and self deprecation as often as possible, though that humor is used sometimes too much for our own good and faar too often, not that funny.

Some have said Biden in arrogant, yet its a different kind of arrogance. It's more a disdain for people who are full of shit. When many Democrats whimper away from fights on wedge issues, Biden calls people out for their stupidity and does so effectively. It's not always what you want to hear, and when you hear things you don't want to and they are right, people call them arrogant.

In the end Biden in the right choice for Obama. He brings needed experience to an inexperienced candidate against a very experienced Republican. He likable guy who will help in Pennsylvania and as I wrote the other day has a narrative people will connect to. Plus Biden is the best debater in the party and when it comes to being the running mate the VP Debate is the most important moment. The bar will be set high for Biden, but if it is Pawlenty or Romney, I think it will be the moment of the campaign to watch him carve them up.

Obama could have made a more flashy choice, but in the end he made the right choice and should they win, I believe we will be a better country with Joe Biden as our Vice President.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Anyone want to pick a VP?

I realize that in the old days VP's were picked at the conventions. Even in my favorite ever TV show, The West Wing, then Governon Bartlett picked then Senator Hoynes at the convention as shown in John Spencer's Emmy winning performance in the brilliant episode Bartlett for America.

Yet in recent years the VP choice has happened earlier and earlier. The Democratic Convention is only about a week away and the Republican convention is about two weeks away.

What is the delay?

I think the problem is that as in recent years there is not going to be an excitining or particularly newsworthy selection. Evan Bayh, Tim Kaine, Mitt Romney, and Rob Portman are not the kind of names that will excite anyone.

The only way Obama really makes a splash is to take Hillary Clinton, which is an unlikely scenario. Though I would say if Obama took John Edwards now,,, that would certainly create a buzz.

The only way McCain really makes a splash is to take General David Petraeus in my opinion. Taking an African American or woman for McCain would be a good move, but I don't see it being a big mover for him one way or another.

Unless Michael Phelps is under consideration there are very few names outside of Clinton that would create a considerable buzz. I think people will end up liking the choices of both, but there is always a thought that VP is going to make a difference, win a state, or help in a region of the country, but that has not been the case since LBJ joined JFK's ticket in 1960.

So if the VP isn't going to be exciting, why do I think that they should have already made their selections?

The answer is two-fold. 1st, it doubles there coverage ability. Surrogates like Caroline Kennedy or Chuck Norris are great, but to have the future VP and his/her spouse working the country is a benefit.

Opposing partisans may not have liked Lynne Cheney or Tipper Gore, but to be able to send even the spouse of a candidate on the campaign trail is quite a draw for advance staff and field organizers.

The visual of the team that will run the country is also a powerful image. The youthful look of Clinton and Gore together served them well against George HW Bush in 1992 and Bob Dole in 1996.

While I consider Cheney the equivalent of the Emperor in Star Wars, to have an experienced voice and face with the untested Governor Bush gave that ticket more credibility.

The second reason is that one of the bounces a candidate gets from the VP is the telling of their personal story. We learn about their history, all their successes, their spouses, and families.

If the VP choices end up not being a household name like Romney or Clinton, the nation is going to have to learn about the person that would be a heart attack away from the nuclear codes.

Yet once the convention hits, the race becomes a 60-70 day sprint and the time for telling nice stories and narratives goes away.

I have spent no time discussing the VP's because I think it's an overrated and hyped part of Presidential politics when it comes to decision making. But both campaigns have missed an almost two month window to get their running mate on the trail and into the minds of the American people.

The longer they wait, the better the chance you see the tense tickets of running mates that don't like each other like Obama-Clinton or McCain-Romney.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dark Knight Yet Again-- Bigger, Better, In IMAX

So last evening I took my cousin and his new bride to see my latest cinematic obsession, The Dark Knight.

It was the second time, ok the third,,,,,, maaaaaybe the 4th time I have seen the movie. Each time I go I see something different or read something that I want to go and check and out and this experience was different for another reason. I'd go see it again, I think it's just that good. Plus this time I noticed the mayor's eyeliner and the Illinois license plates that said Gotham.

This time was different,, I saw the movie at an IMAX theatre. The Dark Knight marks the first time a director used IMAX cameras to film parts of a traditional theatrical release. Other movies have been shown on IMAX screens but none have used the IMAX cameras for a couple reasons. you can see in the above featurette.

I do not remember having been in an IMAX theatre since I went to one on a field trip in high school. As I entered the theatre and saw the screen you have to be in awe of the screen itself. The IMAX theatre at Navy Pier boasts a 60ft tall by 80ft wide screen with 440 seats.

That's right, the screen in six stories tall!!!

Even more cool, when you leave the Theatre and start walking back towards Michigan Ave.,,,, you are essentially entering Gotham City. The Batman tour essentially began at that point.

"I think that's the building of the last scene."

"See Hotel 71 over there? That's Bruce Wayne's Penthouse."

I wrote in my review of the movie that the unspoken star of the movie was Chicago. The IMAX experience furthered that belief for me. The shots of the Chicago skyline and city with the IMAX cameras were breathtaking and added more depth and power to the movie.

The opening scene of the movie starts with an aerial shot and you get that feeling that you are flying over the city and get that feeling you are falling. The Joker's henchman then zipline over a street in Chicago and the whole thing felt and looked so different because of the IMAX resolution and size.

That opening scene by the way is too easily forgotten after the non stop action the rest of the movie, but may be one of the best of the whole movie and most clever as well (see picture below).

Now it's important to note only around 30-40 minutes of the movie were shot in IMAX, but even the non-IMAX shots are improved and magnified.

If your one of the 10 people out there who haven't seen this movie yet,,,, you gotta go, but if you can,, see it in IMAX. It's worth the few extra bucks and is how the movie should be seen.

For the record the 7:00pm and 10:00pm shows at Navy Pier,, SOLD OUT!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Edwards Disappointment

Have had a couple emails about John Edwards come in asking why I've been so quiet in commenting on this. First, I've been kind of quiet in general. Second, I've been in a bit of a personal funk of sorts. Seems like since my weight loss competition ended I lost a bit of purpose.

Feel like I have started a ton of blogs and then just discounted them as bad or left them unfinished. A bit of a case of writers block and a bit of a case of the 'stuck in a ruts'.

The regular readers of this blog know that I think highly of John Edwards. One of the better and most sincere articles on this blog was "17people's Tribute to John Edwards" written after he dropped out of the race in January.

My reason for connecting with Edwards hasn't changed with his admission of his affair with a former campaign staffer. He fought for and brought the issue of poverty to the national campaign and forced both Obama and Clinton to address the issue in the primary. The poor and homeless in this country are forgotten and treated as inferior not just by politicians, but by too many people. In recent years this has become an issue that fires me up more than anything and Edwards spoke to my passion on the subject and it related to me.

We both may not have been poster boys for the impoverished and homeless. Like Edwards I come from a solid family that never worried about shelter or food. Well our parents might have, but we didn't. Yet it didn't mean that we didn't care about their plight.

I admired Edwards for this stand and his consistent dedication to the cause. I hope he continues to fight for it in the years ahead, but think that the effect of his adultery will lessen his credibility to do so.

Watching and reading about Edwards admission of guilt has made me very disappointed and angry with him and above all made me feel for his family.

What he did was shitty. When you run for office and know the intense scrutiny you are under why can't you control your urges? Edwards is just the latest to let his lesser judgement get the best of him.

I am most upset because of my immense respect for Elizabeth Edwards. I think she is a total class act and feel she would have been a wonderful 1st lady. My heart goes out for her that her personal life is now being dragged through the media.

More importantly, I feel for the Edwards children that they have to go around their friends and classmates with everyone knowing about their dad's terrible mistake. They never asked their dad to run for office or become a celebrity. Many families have issues like this that are never known publicly. The Edwards kids are the truly unfortunate victims to their dad's mistake.

What I am saying is that I can care less about John Edwards political career. Yet am madder than hell about what he is putting his family through.

Yet, the way Edwards handled his admission deserves some credit. Did he deny the reports initially calling them 'tabloid trash'?


But his admission was the classiest we have seen in some time.

Unlike Eliot Spitzer he didn't force his wife to stand by him in public.

Unlike Bill Clinton, he didn't deny the news both in public and to his wife. If reports are true, Edwards admitted the affair to his wife long ago before the '08 campaign.

His adultery was a mistake, but he handled his admission like an adult.

While it sounds crass I am very thankful that this news came out before he was offered the Vice Presidency. There were a lot of rumors in recent months that he was on the short list to be Obama's running mate. This news hurts the Democratic brand a bit, but it's impact is far less because the ticket didn't already say "Obama-Edwards".

Hell, if I had my way, Edwards would have been the nominee.

The USA is a forgiving country and comebacks are very common. I don't know where John Edwards will pop up, but its a shame that a guy who showed political courage in taking on one of our country's biggest and most difficult problems, is going to be known in the short term as just another 'typical' politician you can't trust.


If you haven't seen the 4x100 meter Freestyle Relay that took place at the Olympics last night, watch the video here. The above video is just the last leg of the relay, but the whole race was a spectacle to behold.

There are moments in athletics that get people talking and this race is an example of just that. The word 'great' is used far too often in our vocabulary to describe everything. This race was great.

I was at my parents house last evening and the three of us were going crazy rooting for the Americans. The phenomenal call of the race by Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines added to the excitement. Couple that with the bad blood that had been developing between the French and American swimming teams. Before the race Alain Bernard of France said about the American Team, "We are going to smash them".

The race was full of history breaking performances. The previous world record was beat,,,, by five of the 8 teams. The US won, by .08 seconds. The 100m freestyle world record was broken by the leadoff swimmer for the Australian team. In the same 100meters Michael Phelps set an American Record with his leadoff leg. Cullen Jones who swam the third leg became just the second African American to win a swimming medal. Jason Lezak who swam the incredible Anchor Leg of the race swam the fastest 100m relay leg in history.

And it was all done on the biggest stage in swimming at the Olympic games.

17people will post the entire race video once I am able to find it for public use, as it is one of those moments that was too much fun.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Cheers and Jeers of the Opening Ceremonies

I have heard a lot of people say that the start of the Olympics mean little to them.

For me, the Olympics is a big deal. I remember as a kid watching track and field, swimming, and gymnastics with my parents and always enjoying it so much. Especially the summer games, and this year has many intriguing stories to follow and athletes to cheer for. Whether it was rooting for Carl Lewis, Edwin Moses, Greg Louganis, Matt Biondi, or Janet Evans I often got excited for events I didn't know very much about.

Then after two and a half weeks I forgot about these athletes and their sports for four years. It doesn't make sense, but during the Olympics I really care about a sport that isn't baseball or college football.

I have not had many kind words to say about the government of China since the inception of this blog. Yet last evening I was at a bar in Chicago rooting against the White Sox and having dinner and I suddenly was entranced by the show the Chinese put on last evening in the opening ceremonies.

The rather packed bar of 20 and 30 somethings were quite a focus group to hear their thoughts and reactions. When the US team walked into the stadium the bar erupted with cheering and chants of "USA, USA". I thought that was pretty cool that in between 'Jaeger Bombs' and trying to hook up the bar was interested in the Olympics.

But there was a reaction I enjoyed even more. The drunks of Chicago booed the hell out of President Bush when he came on the screen.

Who says the young don't know anything?

The Olympics are part of history, and as a Greek I am always proud when the Greeks lead the procession of country's as the home of the Olympics.

I encourage you to watch the Beijing games and hear the amazing stories of the athletes of the world. While the Olympics are far past the days of pure amateurism, the athletes of these sports get one chance to perform and win. Hundredths of seconds determine their success or failure.

Think about training for your sport,,,,,,,, every day for your entire life. And then having just ONE chance every four years to capture the attention of the world. That's the story of most Olympic athletes. This is their chance,,, take some time and watch it unfold.

Monday, August 4, 2008

My Cable Guy(s) Story

In the span of our lifetime everyone has certain stories that we share with others. If you want to get a rolled eye reaction from most people around bring up what happens when you have your cable provider show up for a service call.

We all know the way it works. You have an inexplicable problem with your cable and call for help and the company tells you when they can come out and correct it. Not just the day that works for them, but the 3 or 4 hour window that they will be out in.

My cable guys turned up and hour and a half later than the 3 hour window they gave me. Also instead of just one guy coming out, there were two. I'm not sure about you, but I never feel very comfortable with people in my place that I don't know, but I live in a 1 BR apartment and there aren't many places to hide.

They installed a new cable box they then said they had to wait for the information to download or the server to upgrade to recognize the new box.

This process created a unique scenario as the time they had to wait with me was 30 minutes long. The station that came up when they installed the new cable box was Encore. A movie channel I don't even subscribe to.

Playing on Encore at that moment is brat pack movie Sixteen Candles.

Do they change the channel?


So for the next 30minutes I am sitting in my apartment with my TWO cable guys both of whom were big enough to be offensive linemen for the Chicago Bears,,,, watching Sixteen Candles.

Better yet, they loooved it. They were cracking up and making fun of Molly Ringwald to the point I was starting to laugh.

Eventually the new cable box was ready, though I think they stayed a few minutes extra to see the scene where Anthony Michael Hall shows off Molly Ringwald's panties to his fellow 'geeks.'

Cable Guy 1: Your all set, just play the HD On Demand for 60 seconds and everything will be fine.
Me: Really you guys should come back next week, maybe watch some "Pretty in Pink"
Cable Guys 1 and 2: Uggggghh

Best part of the whole deal is after I watched the HD On Demand thing I learned that my HBO, Showtime, MLB Package (yes I have a siick cable deal) and HD channels,,, none of them were working.

All this meant was I had to get on the phone with Comcast wait on hold for 15minutes and have them send a signal to my new box to make it work.