The Hit Parade

John KerryOkay, the Kerry campaign had a terrible August, but let’s be clear: the recent Time and Newsweek polls were inaccurate in declaring a double-digit lead for President Bush. Doing a little bit of the kind of vetting that, disturbingly, few news outlets are willing to engage in, Rasmussen finds that the President’s bounce was a nontrivial but still manageable 4 to 5 percent. There’s still 57 days left, enough time to turn this around.

The consensus is that the Kerry-Edwards campaign has let Bush-Cheney define the debate over the past few weeks, and allowed Kerry’s fitness to lead to become the question. They hit first, which sucks, but it gives Kerry an opening to fight back and with great ferocity. I say, call Bush’s own competence into question by saying what everyone already knows loud and clear — Bush is an intellectual lightweight, who can barely grasp the enormity of what’s going on around him, and it’s this unsuitability for handling the weighty issues at hand that have led us so far astray.

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Grant Me the Serenity

Two things, which are completely out of my control, have me in a foul mood this evening, and I wonder half-jokingly if they’re somehow linked. If you were the sort to gloat, you might say that they’re exactly the kind of things that an East Coast liberal should be rightly suffering over. There’s lots of things I could say in response to that, but I’ll just say that that’s what makes this country great, right?

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Obama Said Knock You Out

Barack ObamaIt’s the end of a very long, long day at the office, and I haven’t even been home yet to catch John Edwards’ speech at the convention yet, but I’m sure it was just fine and not a little bit ‘sunny.’ Before I head home to bed though, I had to get up some belated thoughts about the keynote speech Barack Obama gave last night. I had read so much about the guy beforehand that I was intensely curious and not a little skeptical, but he really did live up to all that advance billing. What an amazing speech he gave; it really did feel like watching something very, very important unfolding. Of course, half of the appeal is that this man has a very short voting record, but the immense potential he displayed last night was staggering. I still feel a little in awe, over twenty-four hours later.

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The Donkey Show

Al GoreFour years off have been kind to both Bill Clinton and Al Gore, if their opening night appearances at the Democratic National Convention were any indication. Clinton, who has lost weight and whose hair now is a full shock of distinguished white, looked like nothing else than a bona fide rock star when he strolled on stage. He gave a speech that should put everyone running for office this year — with the possible exception of John Edwards — to complete shame; it was elegant, forceful and crowd-pleasing, and irrefutable proof that the man does in fact possess the kind of political talent that comes along only once a generation (for better or worse).

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Two’s Company

Kerry EdwardsIt made no sense to me at all that Representative Dick Gephardt’s name continually appeared in the scuttlebutt leading up to John Kerry’s selection of a vice presidential running mate, but apparently he was a mainstay on the short list right up until the last moment. Gephardt’s old school, protectionist rhetoric always struck me as a sure way to write a ticket to another damaging Democratic loss in November, so you can imagine the complete relief that I experienced upon hearing yesterday that Senator John Edwards got the official nod. Once in a while, to see something happen in politics with which you whole-heartedly agree, and to find that most pundits agree with you too — in my view, Edwards’s charisma and highly-regarded elocution are huge pluses on a ticket headed by an ashen-faced father figure, and against opponents marked by dim cronyism and pure, unmitigated mendacity.

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Rumble in the Bronx

Subway SeriesAt yesterday’s opening game in the annual Yankees/Mets “subway series,” I realized that, in the twenty or so major league ballgames I’ve attended in my lifetime, I’ve probably only made it to the ballpark early enough for the first pitch perhaps once or twice. Yesterday was one of those days — we got there almost forty-five minutes early — and I found myself sitting through the pre-game ceremonies and wondering, “Is the beginning of every baseball game always so militaristic?”

There was an embarrassing pageant of military gung-ho on display, from an absurd, protracted series of daring-do landings by the U.S. Army’s parachute team to the presentation of colors by West Point cadets to — most egregiously — a noisy, ostentatious fly-over during the national anthem by a trio of F-11 fighter planes. There were more mini-ceremonies too, the details of which I didn’t catch, but all of which were received with vigorous enthusiasm by the crowd of 55,303 baseball fans.

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Hell Is Other Liberals

Hell Yes!If you were looking for a thought-provoking opportunity to “investigate how graphic design, visual persuasion, and the media will influence the 2004 election,” you would probably have walked away disappointed after this evening’s “Hell Yes!” event, sponsored earnestly by the New York chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

To their credit, the organization made it perfectly clear that the panel session would be biased in favor of liberal politics and, specifically, against the policies and track record of the Bush White House. So in that sense, I should have had lowered expectations for the content of the presentations, but I still felt like the whole affair had a sour taste to it.

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Money for Nothing

John Kerry for PresidentSo I put a little bit of money where my mouth is today and donated US$100 to John Kerry for President. I’ve been thinking about the gap in time since my last donations to a campaign, way back in the heat of the Democratic primaries, and how the relatively long dry spell might actually be an indication that perhaps I’m just as lukewarm about Kerry as half the American populace seems to be. This, in spite of my professed staunch advocacy of his campaign over that of George W. Bush.

I guess I lost a little bit of enthusiasm for the Democratic bid for the White House after Howard Dean dropped out (though in retrospect I consider my flirtation with the Dean movement to be more daydream than pragmatism), but only a little. In every way, I still believe strongly that Kerry is far, far better qualified to be president than George W. Bush. I’m pretty sure that it won’t be the last hundred dollars I’ll be sending John Kerry’s way.

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Outraged by the Outrage at All the Outrage

One of the most frustrating tricks that conservative politicians manage to actually get away with is the inversion of indignation, i.e., taking an offensive position on issues where clearly, all good sense would indicate that they should be defensive. In the awful bellyflop that was President Bush’s most recent press conference, I remember Bush answering a question about the paltry international support that the United States could point to in our ongoing operations in Iraq, and how when one took a close look at the numbers, it becomes apparent that, after U.S. and British troops, the single largest demographic of allied troops on the ground is “ private contractors — literally, hired guns.”

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