Crossing The Finish Line

Teh awsum way to cross teh finish line:

I liked this image a lot; it showed up in my feed back on Monday or Tuesday and was apparently taken at one of the last, or THE last, campaign appearances President-Elect Barack Obama made.

And yes, I cherish typing that phrase. But I’m not going to get all triumphalist about the win, the way GOP commentators and bloggers did back in 2000 and 2004. We got a clean, solid win and a number of formerly “Red” states were in the “Blue” column, purely because of a lot of hard work by Obama volunteers and due to the hunger for change (and competence) of a majority of voters (those who were not fooled by smears, frightened by push-poll robocalls, and blinkered, irrational religious fanaticism).

Yeah, I probably read more Huffington Post than I should, and soon enough the novelty of an Obama Administration will wear off and I’ll tire of reading “cheerleading” posts, but this item had to be shared: Gun Sales Soar On Obama Victory.

Really. Some people apparently think that a Constitutional lawyer is going to try to change the Constitution. So it’s a good idea to stock up on assault weapons? Right.

People, we’ve got bigger problems: a crap economy. If the thought of an Obama Presidency scares you, think of this: a McCain Presidency would at this moment be engaged in childish infighting, struggling to keep the conflict between Palin, campaign staffers, and McCain’s aides from becoming public knowledge. Newsweek’s article is just the tip of the iceberg:

NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin’s shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain’s top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family—clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent “tens of thousands” more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as “Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast,” and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.

A Palin aide said: “Governor Palin was not directing staffers to put anything on their personal credit cards, and anything that staffers put on their credit cards has been reimbursed, like an expense. Nasty and false accusations following a defeat say more about the person who made them than they do about Governor Palin.”

McCain himself rarely spoke to Palin during the campaign, and aides kept him in the dark about the details of her spending on clothes because they were sure he would be offended. Palin asked to speak along with McCain at his Arizona concession speech Tuesday night, but campaign strategist Steve Schmidt vetoed the request.

I would love to know

  1. who was the wealthy donor that paid for more clothes?
  2. who are the staffers dishing the dirt?
  3. why some bloggers leave out Palin’s aide’s quote defending her
  4. what Palin is wearing right now. A towel? An Alaska sweatshirt?

Some of the second page of the Newsweek “now it can be told” article contain details I hadn’t previously seen in my blog/Googlenews feed. I’d seen the bit about the towel (at least Palin’s a hoopy frood) and Michelle Obama’s distress at the “spike” in threats against her husband and family. But I hadn’t seem some of these nuggets:

On the Sunday night before the last debate, McCain’s core group of advisers—Steve Schmidt, Rick Davis, adman Fred Davis, strategist Greg Strimple, pollster Bill McInturff and strategy director Sarah Simmons—met to decide whether to tell McCain that the race was effectively over, that he no longer had a chance to win. The consensus in the room was no, not yet, not while he still had “a pulse.”

I hadn’t heard this before – wow, what a revelation. Imagine if this news had leaked out on Monday morning… we’d have a much bigger Senate and House majority, the precise reason why all this stuff was deliberately kept “off the record” until after the election was final.

The Obama campaign’s New Media experts created a computer program that would allow a “flusher”—the term for a volunteer who rounds up nonvoters on Election Day—to know exactly who had, and had not, voted in real time. They dubbed it Project Houdini, because of the way names disappear off the list instantly once people are identified as they wait in line at their local polling station.

Interesting only to geeks, but I actually made calls on behalf of Kerry 4 years ago with my friend Jill, and we both had similar experiences: kept calling people who had already been called, but not removed from the “Democratic voter may not vote” lists. I didn’t volunteer this time, although I was given abundant opportunities via near-constant emails and text messages from the Obama campaign. We had the free time in October, but were working on the floor/painting project and trying to stay on track. Also, we didn’t feel like driving to Indiana or Missouri. Maybe we could have, but we didn’t We suck. But the third bedroom looks great, and we did our bit for the economy with our frequent trips to Lowe’s.

McCain also was reluctant to use Obama’s incendiary pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, as a campaign issue. The Republican had set firm boundaries: no Jeremiah Wright; no attacking Michelle Obama; no attacking Obama for not serving in the military. McCain balked at an ad using images of children that suggested that Obama might not protect them from terrorism. Schmidt vetoed ads suggesting that Obama was soft on crime (no Willie Hortons). And before word even got to McCain, Schmidt and Salter scuttled a “celebrity” ad of Obama dancing with talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres (the sight of a black man dancing with a lesbian was deemed too provocative).

I saw the video of Obama dancing as he walked on the set of Ellen’s show. It’s cute, and he’s a great dancer. The embarassment of “OMG, a Presidential candidate might be making a fool of himself” was overcome by “OMG, he looks so cooooool dancing. I’d dance with him in a heartbeat.” But yeah, it could have played against him in a negative ad… but I expect a fair number of people would have liked his moves and nullify the ad.

Obama was never inclined to choose Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate, not so much because she had been his sometime bitter rival on the campaign trail, but because of her husband. Still, as Hillary’s name came up in veep discussions, and Obama’s advisers gave all the reasons why she should be kept off the ticket, Obama would stop and ask, “Are we sure?” He needed to be convinced one more time that the Clintons would do more harm than good. McCain, on the other hand, was relieved to face Sen. Joe Biden as the veep choice, and not Hillary Clinton, whom the McCain camp had truly feared.

It was because of Bill that I didn’t want Hillary as Veep, too. I did not want him moping around the hallways of his old home, I did not want him buttonholing people or trying to play “The Man” or get himself inserted into policy meetings. And I most definitely didn’t want him setting himself up as an easy target for the Right.

On the night she officially lost the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton enjoyed a long and friendly phone conversation with McCain. Clinton was actually on better terms with McCain than she was with Obama. Clinton and McCain had downed shots together on Senate junkets; they regarded each other as grizzled veterans of the political wars and shared a certain disdain for Obama as flashy and callow.

The debates unnerved both candidates. When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, “I don’t consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, ‘You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.’ So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that's green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’ What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I f—ing changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.”(emphasis added)

Holy Crap!! Obama dropped the F-bomb! Correctly! In a non-sexually-charged way that indicates massive irritation, and questions the intelligence of the questioner!

I LOVE this… why haven’t I seen this in my feed before? I apologize if this offends anyone, but I f—ing love this. And I do so agree with his thought “…this is a stupid question,” because so often the questions ARE stupid, insubstantial, and a waste of everybody’s time.

Meanwhile, one of John McCain’s last campaign appearances was in Grand Junction, Colorado – my home town. I was born under the shadow of the red sandstone cliffs of the Colorado National Monument. Mt. Jefferson, the gracefully eroded bluff on the far side of the Grand Valley, overlooks the area of the airport, and the airplane hangar where McCain’s speech took place. I can imagine that old Thomas Jefferson, the landmark’s namesake and a proto-lefty, did not look with favor on McCain’s presence practically at the feet of “his” mountain.

Local papers previously predicted that more than 10,000 people would show up for the rally at the airport; but on the last day of the campaign, while McCain pleaded for their help, 4,000 were there to hear him. He drew fewer people than Cheney did on a visit during the 2004 campaign

It sounds like the rally was less than peppy, and in fact rather bittersweet:

But Mr. McCain, in a race that he insisted was tight, went out for one final rally in Colorado.

As he got through his stump speech, complete with references about “Joe the Plumber” and “Joe the Biden,” some in the crowd wiped their eyes(emphasis added).

Chuck Oleska, a semi-retired man from Grand Junction, said he had a mix of energy and sadness(emphasis added).

“It’s exciting because of the possibility that he will win,” he said. “By the grace of God he will. I just wish he had started hitting Obama on the issues earlier.” .

WTF? Issues? McCain was dodging the real issues: the economy, immigration, and differentiating himself from the Bush Administration’s incompetence. This guy wanted to hear more about Wright, abortion, and Teh Gays.

Check out this image, a screenshot from a local TV station in Grand Junction. This is how McCain crosses the finish line:

KREX-TV McCain Live

KREX-TV McCain Live

This is how it ends: volunteers waving pom-poms, Cindy McCain cracking a smile for once (is she thinking “it’s almost over?”) and Sen. Joe Lieberman’s face obscured by the teleprompter stand. A woman with a terribly sad face is glimpsed in the background behind McCain’s right shoulder. And John McCain tries heroically to look like an energetic winner.

I’ll let the Grand Junction Free Press have the last word (ironic title, eh?).

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — At a Mesa County Democrats party at Mesa Theater & Club, Democrat Rich Alward was encouraged by an elbow-knocking packed crowd of people celebrating Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential win over Sen. John McCain.

“The excitement is just over the top,” he said. “Is it even legal to have this many Democrats in one place in Mesa County?”

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Proud To Be Shady Small Donors

The Republican National Committee plans to file a fundraising complaint against Democrat Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, alleging amongst other things that it’s impossible to say just who has donated, and attempting to hint that there must be something wrong with people being so, like, secretive about giving Obama money. As if they have something to hide, or aren’t real Americans…

Cairncross said little is known about many of Obama’s donors because the campaign is not required to disclose detailed information about people who give less than $200.

The Obama campaign, which is not accepting public funds, has raised more than $468 million. About half has come from small donors, a point of pride for the Obama campaign.

As of a few days ago, my husband David and I have given a total of $200 to the Obama campaign (actually, in two chunks, once to the Presidential campaign, and once to the Democratic campaign for Obama). We’re shady small donors, and we feel eeeeeeevil. Evil, I tell you! Because we’re proud to buck the Republican sleaze machine, and be labeled as such.

Via Daily Kos

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Obama’s War Chest Drives a 50-State Strategy – NYTimes.com

Obama’s War Chest Drives a 50-State Strategy – NYTimes.com

Less than three weeks after securing the Democratic nomination, Mr. Obama is already dispatching paid staff members to all 50 states, an unusual move by the standards of modern presidential campaigns so often fought in just a contained group of contested territories.

His aides and advisers said they did not believe Obama necessarily has a serious chance of winning in many of the traditionally Republican states, but rather that he can at least draw Mr. McCain into spending time and money there while also swelling the rolls of Democratic voters and supporting other Democrats on the ballot.

This is exactly the kind of thing I had in mind the day after the 2004 Presidential elections, kind of like Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy, but with teams of gay couples touring the country in Winnebagoes, distributing fabulousness, demonstrating tolerance, and giving out loves of banana bread.

Imagine people in previously Red states feeling emboldened and empowered to vote Democratic, rather than stay home and assume that there wasn’t any point in voting for the losing side. I suspect that there are a lot more people willing to vote for Democrats in Republican bastion states than we’ve been led to believe. Those “Dumb States” aren’t as think as we dumb they are.

Yes, we can make a difference – and the sweet part is forcing Republican pols to fire up their creaky machines in states where they haven’t had to work too hard to ensure that only the “right” people vote the “right” way.

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I Am A Demographic Anomaly

This is one of the top stories of the day: Democrats Agree to Compromise on Delegates : NPR I’ve heard or read dozens of stories in the lead-up to this decision, listened with only passing attention to soundbites, and frankly, I’m tired of being lumped in with the wrong demographic group.

I am a white, middle-aged suburban woman. I am a Democrat. I am NOT a Hillary Clinton supporter – in fact, I’ve never liked her, although I gave her grudging props during her husband’s term for trying to get her health policies through a hostile Congress.

When she insisted on running for President, I groaned. I didn’t want to listen to several years’ worth of campaign rhetoric in the run-up to the primaries, I didn’t want her exposing herself to the tender mercies of the sort of right-wing commentators that specialize in framing the debate their way, so that no matter what, you look like a whining loser. I just wanted her to fade away into Senatorial obscurity and do a good job for New York, and for her husband to do his book and speaking tours and get involved with something useful in his post-Presidential years.

But no, she insisted on running. And she looked to be an inevitability. As time went on, I became more and more annoyed with her malleability; she will do or say anything it takes to get elected. She will jump on the latest bandwagon to come down the pike. But her politics aren’t my politics; she’s more centrist than I am, to the point that it seems she has no firm and fast ideals (other than running the White House her way this time). I’m not fooled by the “beer and a shot” stunt, nor by numerous other attempts to pander to one of the many constituencies in this country for whom appearance, not substance, is everything.

Frankly, I’m really, really tired of candidates whose real reason for running appears to be to achieve a “do-over” of a relative’s administration.

You should hear what my husband David has to say on the subject – he considers Hillary Clinton to be little better than a Northern carpetbagger, who purchased her seat in the Senate after choosing New York as the most likely state to launch a Presidential campaign from. He insists that he won’t vote for her if she is the nominee. I think he’ll have a big problem voting for her if she’s the running mate. Which of course is a vote for McCain.

On the other hand, I’ve always been an Obama supporter. Starry-eyed though I maybe, I think it’s time we had a Leader of the Free World who embodied the ideals of this country. He’s managed to avoid the corruption that taints politics in the state of Illinois, for the most part (he has some troubling connections to the Rezko case, but that’s it). Yes, at first I thought he needed to sit out a term and build some seniority in Congress. I didn’t want him to run at first. But then I realized that we need a complete break in this country from political business as usual, and Obama represented an inspiring way forward out of our many divisions.

I know that in some states, his race is an issue, and this bothers me a great deal. That’s not American to me – that’s not my country. But in other states, it has not been an issue at all – Iowa being one example, and Oregon another. He is welcomed with open arms (and huge screaming crowds) in states that have small African-American communities. He motivates people to do their best for him, and for their communities. What a novelty: an American politician who walks the walk instead of just talking the talk.

Perhaps the most telling endorsement of Obama is something I just heard an NPR “In Character” piece on Mr. Spock, the Classic Star Trek character played by Leonard Nimoy. After a discussion of Spock’s intriguing hidden qualities and his half-human, half-Vulcan heritage and how that translates to contemporary issues, we find out that Nimoy is an Obama supporter, too.

Actually, I bet someone’s already done a parody of the candidates as Star Trek characters. McCain would have to be late-stage Kirk, perhaps from one of the odd-numbered movies. Although I’m also tempted to see him as Commodore Matthew Decker

Ron Paul might make a good lesser commander, probably one of the insane ones with fanatical followers, like Capt. Ron Tracey.

Hillary Clinton? the best she could hope for is as a wannabe Janeway, in my opinion. She runs the ship, but doesn’t really get anywhere, is literally tossed around the galaxy by events beyond her control, is in permanent damage control mode, and everybody is relieved when it’s all over in a confusing jumble.

Star Trek asides aside, I’m now annoyed that the Michigan-Florida delegates debacle wasn’t solved before. The Republicans are loving it, but according to this, they didn’t really orchestrate the thing, because the Democrats in both states’ legislatures voted for the early primaries.

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