August 2008

As I expressed in a posting on Thursday night, what I believe Obama failed to do in his acceptance speech that night was convince independents and heartland undecided voters to vote for the Obama-Biden ticket.  Why?  Because he gave a speech to his base that almost surely alienated voters who are more conservative – as independents are likely to be (more conservative than liberal Democrats).  This excellent Op-ed by Michael Gerson in today’s Washington Post talks about the “orthodox” Democratic speech that Obama gave on Thursday.  It is entitled Obama the Orthodox.  This is a must-read Op-ed.  Here are some excerpts that particularly resonated with me.  My comments in italics follow each excerpt.

“The remarks themselves invited comparisons to every Democratic stump speech of the past 20 years.  In substance, Barach Obama’s convention speech could easily have been given by Al Gore or John Kerry — and, in various forms, was given by Kerry and Gore. It was all in there: the lunchbox economic populism — based on the assumption that most Americans are filling their lunchboxes with scraps from Dumpsters. The attacks on corporations, millionaires and other sinister job creators.”  Obama, the supposedly transformational candidate, divided us into the oppressed and the oppressors.  And that message is meant to unite America?

“In tone, Obama’s big speech was small, partisan, often defensive and occasionally snide. ‘I’ve got news for you, John McCain,’ he exclaimed. ‘We all put our country first.'”  It was most certainly a small, partisan and defensive speech.  And while on paper I would most certainly agree that “we all” (the Democratic Party) put our country first, there is a pacifist element in the Democratic Party, albeit fringe and small, that would if their views were adhered to harm the country greatly.  I would also argue that, albeit fringe and small, the party pays this group more heed than it should.     

“He offered no creative policy proposals that might transcend partisan divisions. In fact, his message ran with perfect smoothness along old partisan grooves. That is genuinely disappointing. A Democrat who wins in this fashion will be unable to rein in the inevitable excesses of the Democratic Congress. And the inevitable counter-reaction of Republicans will leave Washington, once again, a World War I battlefield of trenches and grudges.”  I couldn’t say this better.  The pendulum will swing from one extreme to the other when what the country needs is that non-partisan place in between.  I thought Obama could deliver this but he has apparently chosen not to.

“Some illusions have also been lost.  For many Americans, the exciting young candidate who won the Iowa caucuses had the promise of being a new kind of politician entirely — better than and different from the political norm of bitterness and calculation.  Those hopes now seem — in the words of a famous Democrat — like a “fairy tale.” In this convention, Obama “matured” into the spitting image of the typical Democratic politician.”  There was a lot of bitterness in Thursday night’s speech.  I, too, had hoped for more from this most talented man.  I didn’t get it Thursday night. 

It is the conventional wisdom that this transformation is politically brilliant: In an election year of massive voter discontent, a Democrat who sounds like a Democrat will surely win.  That may be correct.  But Obama seems determined to test the theory in full.  The Democratic ticket consists of two of the most ideological liberals in the U.S. Senate.  It includes no reasonable governor, no candidate with Southern roots, no member with a military background (for the first time in decades).  And now it offers the purest message of partisan aggression and class resentment.  Let the depressing battle begin.”  Obama had his base all wrapped up on Thursday night.  He did not need to conduct a pep rally for the true believers.  He needed to reach out to the rest of America and give them a reason to vote for him.  This is something that Democrats just don’t seem to get.  Not all of America agrees with them.  If Obama loses the election, party stalwarts will once again scratch their heads and write America off as stupid.  But the stupidity lies in a party that can’t figure out that what it needs to do is run to the center, even if only moderately so.  The Labour Party of Tony Blair in Britain figured this out and established a succession of electoral victories.  The Democrats could have done this too, and may yet.  The point is this election should not even be close given the miserable failure of leadership under two terms of George Bush and Republicans in Congress.  Instead of taking the prudent path (a less leftist ideological course), for the third election in a row the Democratic Party has opted for liberals to head their ticket.   

I recommend the Op-ed by Matthew Continetti entitled Two-Front Republicans in today’s New York Times.  It is a worthwhile read.

The N.Y. Times (NYT) Editorial Board is repeatedly showing itself of late to be abysmally ignorant of oil and natural gas development in this country.  I previously criticized (here) a NYT editorial that showed a profound lack of understanding of energy issues.  A statement in today’s editorial Senator McCain’s Choice again highlights a profound ignorance.  The statement today was the following:  “Like many Alaska politicians, Governor Palin favors oil and gas interests over environmental protection.  She’s for drilling in her state’s wildlife refuge, which Senator McCain opposes, even after reversing his position to favor offshore drilling.”

No one who really understood the complexity of our country’s energy supply situation would really believe that the reason Governor Palin (or I, or anyone supportive of development for that matter) believes we should develop in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is because she favors oil and gas interests over environmental protection?  Ridiculous.  I could care less about oil and natural gas interests other than they do know how to safely (environmentally and otherwise) produce the oil and natural gas resources this country so desperately needs.  This isn’t about favoring companies over the environment.  It is about developing needed domestic resources in an environmentally safe and responsible manner so that we don’t have to import those resources from abroad.  Make no mistake,  everything we don’t produce here will have to be imported.   So in sum, the NYT gets it wrong on two fronts.  Not only is the choice not oil companies over environmental protection, it is not even the production of oil over environmental protection, because the country has demonstrated its ability to produce oil and natural gas that is completely protective of the environment.  It is not an unregulated activity.  It is highly regulated by the states and Governor Palin has had previous experience doing this a member of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.  Additionally, of anyone in Alaska has credibility in standing up to the large north slope oil companies, it is Sarah Palin.  Her plan to develop a natural gas pipeline is opposed by the largest Alaskan oil companies.  She is hardly a patsy to those interests I’d say.

This ignorance of energy doesn’t end with the NYT editorial board.  In his brief remarks on the Palin selectionin the Washington Post today, former President Clinton chief of staff John Podesta makes the following statement: “While we sit on only 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves, Palin thinks we can drill our way out of our oil addiction by exploiting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”  Who said anything about drilling our way out of this.  Also, where does this 3% figure come from?  We don’t know how much we might have in reserve until we explore the U.S. offshore.  The issue is domestic production vs. foreign imports for national security and economic reasons.  When are leading Democrats such as Podesta going to quit parroting the environmental group line and do some independent research?

This news analysis in today’s New York Times is also worth a read.  It’s entitled A Bold Choice, WIth Risks

News stories today begin to answer the question. As I noted yesterday, I know Governor Palin both from her chairmanship this year of the organization for which I work, the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), but also from when she attended IOGCC meetings as a representative of Alaska to the IOGCC. Although I don’t know her well, I know others who have worked with her, are very good friends of hers and think very highly of her.

This article in the New York Times today begins to tell us more about Sarah Palin. It is entitled An Outsider Who Charms under the heading “WOMAN IN THE NEWS”.

What is your initial reaction to Senator McCain’s choice of Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska to be his vice president?
It improves the chances he’ll be elected President.
It neither helps nor hurts the chances he’ll be elected President.
It decreases the chances he’ll be elected President. free polls

A reader writes “Yes, Let’s be frank. She will be slaughtered by Joe Biden in the debates.”  Maybe, we’ll have to see.  Clearly it will be a very interesting debate, one in which Senator Biden will have to take great care not to look like a bully.  It will be a tightrope walk for both of them.  It will certainly draw a viewing audience.

Let’s be frank.  Governor Palin has only slightly less foreign policy experience than Barack Obama.  Unless you count running campaigns, she is the only one of the four who has any executive experience.  And, unlike Barack Obama, she will have a learning period while she serves under a President McCain.  Barack Obama, on the other hand, will have to receive on-the-job training.  I prefer it this way, thank you. 


Virtually all of the media is reporting that Sarah Palin will be McCain’s choice for vice president. Here’s the Washington Post story .

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