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David Brooks spoke frankly about the presidential and vice presidential candidates Monday afternoon, calling Sarah Palin a “fatal cancer to the Republican party” but describing John McCain and Barack Obama as “the two best candidates we’ve had in a long time.”
In an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg at New York’s Le Cirque restaurant to unveil that magazine’s redesign, Brooks decried Palin’s anti-intellectualism and compared her to President Bush in that regard:
[Sarah Palin] represents a fatal cancer to the Republican party. When I first started in journalism, I worked at the National Review for Bill Buckley. And Buckley famously said he’d rather be ruled by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty. But he didn’t think those were the only two options. He thought it was important to have people on the conservative side who celebrated ideas, who celebrated learning. And his whole life was based on that, and that was also true for a lot of the other conservatives in the Reagan era. Reagan had an immense faith in the power of ideas. But there has been a counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I’m afraid that Sarah Palin has those prejudices. I think President Bush has those prejudices.
Brooks praised Palin’s natural political talent, but said she is “absolutely not” ready to be president or vice president. He explained, “The more I follow politicians, the more I think experience matters, the ability to have a template of things in your mind that you can refer to on the spot, because believe me, once in office there’s no time to think or make decisions.”
The New York Times columnist also said that the “great virtue” of Palin’s counterpart, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden, is that he is anything but a “yes man.”
“[Biden] can’t not say what he thinks,” Brooks remarked. “There’s no internal monitor, and for Barack Obama, that’s tremendously important to have a vice president who will be that way. Our current president doesn’t have anybody like that.”
Brooks also spent time praising Obama’s intellect and skills in social perception, telling two stories of his interactions with Obama that left him “dazzled”:
Obama has the great intellect. I was interviewing Obama a couple years ago, and I’m getting nowhere with the interview, it’s late in the night, he’s on the phone, walking off the Senate floor, he’s cranky. Out of the blue I say, ‘Ever read a guy named Reinhold Niebuhr?’ And he says, ‘Yeah.’ So i say, ‘What did Niebuhr mean to you?’ For the next 20 minutes, he gave me a perfect description of Reinhold Niebuhr’s thought, which is a very subtle thought process based on the idea that you have to use power while it corrupts you. And I was dazzled, I felt the tingle up my knee as Chris Matthews would say.
And the other thing that does separate Obama from just a pure intellectual: he has tremendous powers of social perception. And this is why he’s a politician, not an academic. A couple of years ago, I was writing columns attacking the Republican congress for spending too much money. And I throw in a few sentences attacking the Democrats to make myself feel better. And one morning I get an email from Obama saying, ‘David, if you wanna attack us, fine, but you’re only throwing in those sentences to make yourself feel better.’ And it was a perfect description of what was going through my mind. And everybody who knows Obama all have these stories to tell about his capacity for social perception.
Brooks predicted an Obama victory by nine points, and said that although he found Obama to be “a very mediocre senator,” he was is surrounded by what Brooks called “by far the most impressive people in the Democratic party.”
“He’s phenomenally good at surrounding himself with a team,” Brooks said. “I disagree with them on most issues, but I am given a lot of comfort by the fact that the people he’s chosen are exactly the people I think most of us would want to choose if we were in his shoes. So again, I have doubts about him just because he was such a mediocre senator, but his capacity to pick staff is impressive.”
Palin crackdown un unruly crowd ~
Yeah – right!
I’ll believe that when I see it.
Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden called out his GOP rivals for their attacks of late, accusing John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, of practicing the politics of “fear” in their attacks against Democratic candidate Barack Obama. But Biden stopping short of calling it racism.
Joe Biden arrives at Tampa International Airport to speak a rally at the University of South Florida
At a rally in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Biden had some harsh words for the Republican ticket. “They’re going to take the low road, the low road to the highest office in the land,” Biden said.
The Delaware senator, a long-time Senate colleague and friend of McCain, said the Arizona senator had filled his campaign with some of the “political manipulators” from President George W. Bush’s team in 2000. He brought up that year’s South Carolina primary, when rumors spread that the McCains’ adopted daughter was McCain’s child from an affair.
“The McCain campaign went out and hired some of the very political manipulators in the Republican primary who, in 2000, led those vicious attacks against John’s daughter and John’s lovely wife,” Biden said.
He continued: “They’re attacking Barack Obama in the ugliest of ways. Ladies and gentleman, this is beyond disappointing, this is beyond disappointing, this is wrong.”
As for McCain’s comment at a rally this week in New Mexico–when the Republican nominee asked “Who is the real Barack Obama?”–Biden said it was a “veiled” question and an “appeal to fear.” He also responded to Palin’s attacks of late, where she insinuated that Obama has a close relationship with 1960s-radical-turned-college-professor Bill Ayers. “To have a vice presidential candidate raise the most outrageous inferences, the ones that John McCain’s campaign is condoning, is simply wrong,” he said.
UPDATE: Responding to Biden’s comments, McCain campaign spokesman Ben Porritt did not defend the original attacks but instead lobbed another round at the Democrats. “What Barack Obama and his running mate fundamentally lack is a record of making change or reform and in turn the credibility to call for it,” he said. “Their ‘run with the herd’ mentality, radical associations, and partisan proposals have made them the most liberal ticket in political history.”
Tonight’s debate wasn’t even close. Sen. Barack Obama ran away with it — particularly when speaking about the economy and health care. Talking about his mother’s death from cancer was very powerful. On nearly every issue, Obama was more substantive, showed more compassion and was more presidential.
In contrast, Sen. John McCain was extremely erratic. Sometimes he was too aggressive (referring to Obama as “that one.”) Other times, he just couldn’t answer the question (on how he would ask Americans to sacrifice.) And his random attempts at jokes (hair transplants?) were just bad.
Tom Brokaw was terrible as moderator. His fixation with the rules — particularly when the candidates were not complaining — was distracting and a disservice to everyone. The format didn’t work very well, but Brokaw made it worse.
Andrew Sullivan: “This was, I think, a mauling: a devastating and possibly electorally fatal debate for McCain… I’ve watched a lot of debates and participated in many. I love debate and was trained as a boy in the British system to be a debater. I debated dozens of times at Oxofrd. All I can say is that, simply on terms of substance, clarity, empathy, style and authority, this has not just been an Obama victory. It has been a wipe-out. It has been about as big a wipe-out as I can remember in a presidential debate. It reminds me of the 1992 Clinton-Perot-Bush debate. I don’t really see how the McCain campaign survives this.”
Ezra Klein: “Tonight was supposed to be John McCain’s night, but it was the first clear debate win Obama has scored over the course of this campaign — including the primary. McCain, as it turned out, was badly disadvantaged by the format. This debate was more physical than previous encounters. And McCain, for reasons of age and injuries and height, has a less commanding physical presence than Obama.”
Mark Halperin: “McCain spent much of the evening trying to define Obama on his terms, but never broke all the way through.”
Marc Ambinder: “CW says that John McCain had a 90 minute window to turn his campaign around – to put into play the McCain Resurgence Strategy, if you will, and if that’s the CW threshold, I don’t think McCain met it.”
The instant polls taken just after the debate also show Obama as the winner.
CNN poll of debate viewers: Obama 54%, McCain 30%
CBS poll of uncommitted voters: Obama 39%, McCain 27%
That One was raised by a single mother and his grandparents. They didn’t have much money, but they taught him values from the Kansas heartland where they grew up. He took out loans to put himself through school. After college, he worked for Christian churches in Chicago, helping communities devastated when steel plants closed. That One turned down lucrative job oﬀers after law school to return to Chicago, leading a successful voter registration drive. He joined a small law ﬁrm, taught constitutional law and, guided by his Christian faith, stayed active in his community. That One and his wife Michelle are proud parents of two daughters, Sasha and Malia.
More at thatone08.com
In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, John F. Kennedy’s nephew discusses Barack Obama’s leadership potential, why it’s difficult to compare the candidate with the former president and his gripe with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
SPIEGEL: Do you think that trust in American capitalism has been shattered by the finance crisis?
Anthony Kennedy Shriver: Over the course of time our country has faced enormous challenges, many far greater than this one — the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, Vietnam, the civil rights movement, the riots in Chicago and Indianapolis and Watergate, which rocked confidence in the political system. The country will get through this, and we’ll be stronger and better than before. We have enormous resilience.Shriver: Not at all. This is going to be our biggest and best year ever financially. We just held a huge bike ride fundraiser out in California with help from my brother-in-law Arnold Schwarzenegger and my sister Maria Shriver, and it raised 30 percent more money this year than we did last year. The Best Buddies Ball is scheduled for October and we’ve increased revenue by 220 percent over last year. You’ve got to be more creative and work harder to appeal to people. There’s nothing I can do about the economy, obviously. You just have to realize there are obstacles in front of you and you have to figure out how to get over them and do better than in the past.
SPIEGEL: Who has the best plan to heal the economy, John McCain or Barack Obama?
Shriver: This is not about who has the best plan. Great challenges always bring people together, and this will do for the United States what we haven’t seen in many years. The World-War-II generation had a common bond — they fought together to overcome a great enemy during the war. That created a sense of respect and dignity in Congress. But a lot of people there now, many of whom are my age and younger, have never faced anything that’s really been that challenging. Sept. 11 was a great tragedy, but it didn’t make us work together as a nation. The economic challenge could bring the country together, including the White House and Congress, to rally behind something that is challenging the whole fabric of our society.
SPIEGEL: Are you saying it doesn’t matter who becomes the next president, that McCain or Obama will both be forced to bring the country together?Shriver: No. It matters enormously who becomes president for many reasons other than the current economic crisis. It’s very important that Obama get elected because he would take the country in the right direction. There’s a huge difference in the way they view the role government plays in people’s lives in the US and the role Washington plays in the world.
SPIEGEL: Obama would likely be very different from McCain — he’d call for greater regulation of financial markets and increased international diplomacy. He’d be the antithesis of Bush.
Shriver: Bush totally blew it by not capitalizing on the international spirit of goodwill and the desire to help America after the tragedy of 9/11. He lost it, and I think you don’t get many opportunities like that your lifetime.
SPIEGEL: How do you feel about Obama’s lack of experience?
Shriver: I understand people’s concern about that. It is important to be out there in the world, meeting heads of state and traveling, and for this years of public service are certainly key. I don’t necessarily think you have to have held political office, but I think you do need to be informed and have engaged with people in a public way for a considerable period of time. That’s not a highlight of his resume, but he’s got many other things going for him. He’s got excellent judgment, and you can tell a lot about people based on the decisions they’ve made in their lives.
SPIEGEL: By judgment you mean that he spoke out against the Iraq War when it was still popular?
Shriver: Yeah. It gives you a sense that he’s tempered, thoughtful and reflective — important qualities to have in a leader.
SPIEGEL: Your uncle, John F. Kennedy, didn’t have a lot of experience when he came into office, either.
Shriver: He had quite a bit. He had been a Congressman and a Senator. He also gained a lot of experiencing fighting in World War II, which made him a hero. He wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book and traveled and lived abroad.
SPIEGEL: Granted, that is a bit more than Obama.
Shriver: But look at Sarah Palin. She seems like a nice enough woman, but it’s horrifying that people in the US would consider somebody who didn’t even have a passport until last year and oversees one of the smallest states by population in the whole union — someone who has little political and no worldly experience — as a serious candidate for vice president.
SPIEGEL: Your organization Best Buddies works with children with disabilities. Palin has a child with Down syndrome. You, like many Americans, must sympathize with her for that.
Shriver: She gets sympathy for it, but it doesn’t mean anything to me. I wrote to her before she had that baby, and she didn’t even pay attention to us. So now she’s a great hero because she has a baby with Down syndrome. That baby is going to be a great gift for her, but it doesn’t mean she’d make a good president.
SPIEGEL: What’s more important — for a president to inspire people or to have the best programs?
Shriver: The best scenario is to have the substance and the inspiration. That’s why President Kennedy was so effective and unique. Obama clearly has the ability to inspire, but it is difficult to compare him to someone like Kennedy, who had the chance to serve in the White House and had a record of delivering in really challenging times.
SPIEGEL: In the course of the campaign, did you get the feeling that Obama overdid it a little bit by comparing himself to your uncle all the time? His campaign chose a stadium for his nomination ceremony — emulating John F. Kennedy, who also accepted his nomination at a stadium in the 1960s — and often held events at schools that bear his name.
Shriver: It’s common in the United States for young, aspiring leaders as well as older ones to want to connect themselves to political leaders or individuals who are highly respected and admired. Obama’s not the first one, either. John Kerry tried to talk about President Kennedy, saying he was also from Massachusetts, had served as a Senator and had the same initials: John F. Kerry.
SPIEGEL: But if you overdo it you might come across as displaying too much hubris.
Shriver: It’s always risky to compare yourself with an iconic figure. You run the risk of coming out on the wrong end of the equation.
SPIEGEL: Your brother-in-law, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, talks very fondly of Obama. Could he end up in an Obama administration, even though he’s a Republican?
Shriver: He’s very open-minded, and in the end it would depend on the job and what kind of an impact he thought he could have. I think if it was the right opportunity, he’d do it. Many of the values and positions he holds are very much in line with the Democratic Party platform; he also has some from the Republican platform.
Source: Der Spiegel
Another predictable debate which noone won can only be good news for Barack Obama who needs only not to lose to winGerard Baker, US editor in Nashville, Tennessee
If John McCain’s supporters were hoping that Tuesday night’s second presidential debate would turn back the Obama Tide that has engulfed their campaign in the last two weeks they will have been disappointed.
It was a flat, unmemorable affair, a matchsticks-on-the-eyelids struggle to stay awake, a predictable canter through the now familiar fields of the fading 2008 presidential election landscape: the financial crisis and the economy; health care; energy; taxes; Iraq; the war on terror; Afghanistan, Iran.
Some of the exchanges, it is true, were sharper than in their first debate two weeks ago. Senator McCain, behind in the polls, swung a few times and landed a blow or two on the glass jaw of his opponent. But this was not a debate in any meaningful sense of the term. It was once again an alternating recitation of standard campaign lines.
Senator Obama – you may be shocked to hear – promised tax cuts for working people; universal health care, an end to financial deregulation, the winding down of the war in Iraq, a renewed commitment to the war in Afghanistan and an America that is liked by the world. Senator McCain – in case you hadn’t heard – is a Republican who will continue the failed policies of George Bush.
For his part Senator McCain insisted he was – wait for it – a reformer who would reform Washington, end corruption on Wall Street, drill for oil, win the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and robustly defend America’s interests. Senator Obama, he gravely reminded the audience, could not be trusted because he didn’t have the experience or the judgment.
One expects candidates to get their points across in these debates. But real debates involve thrust and parry; contention and objection; point and counterpoint. This had none of those necessities. And neither candidate was properly challenged by the moderator, Tom Brokaw, the superannuated NBC News Voice of God, to explain the trickier elements of their observations or square the contradictions in their claims. The town hall format, in which a few regular Americans in the auditorium (and a handful from outside via the internet) asked mostly bog-standard questions failed to break the gnawing predictability of it all.
Before the debate there had been much discussion about whether Senator McCain would use the occasion to repeat some of his campaign’s recent attacks on Senator Obama, specifically whether he might raise the spectre of some of the Illinois Democrat’s questionable associations in his past. Senator McCain has a reputation as a bare-knuckled fighter when he’s down, and given the parlous state of his campaign with less than a month to the election, it was thought he might take the lunge.
But in the event the Republican left the gloves on. There were no references to William Ayers, the 1960s lefty terrorist with whom Senator Obama evidently has a not-fully-explained past entanglement. Nor was there any time – on this occasion – for the volcanic Jeremiah Wright, Senator Obama’s professionally aggrieved preacher and mentor.
Instead, Senator McCain tried to duff up his opponent by what might be called Marquess of Queensberry Rules. In the financial section of the debate he got in a few good jabs over the Democrat’s support over the past few years for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two mortgage behemoths whose bloated expansion, with the willing support of Democrats, is at least as much to blame for the current crisis as any supposed capitalist rush to deregulation. And he cheekily compared him to Herbert Hoover, the Republican widely credited (if that’s the word) for the policy errors that led to the first Great Depression.
Probably the only moment of real surprise in the whole 90 minutes came when Senator McCain, explaining how he and his opponent had voted differently on an energy bill, referred to Senator Obama as “that one”.
It produced a slight wince of disapproving dismay in the media watching hall, the sort of response you might evince when someone gently belches at a dinner party.
But, like that little betise, it was gone in an instant. The debate quickly resumed its lumbering path towards bedtime. Even a final bright question from the internet that asked the candidates to say what they didn’t know and how they might learn it quickly became an excuse for another predictable recital of stump speech talking points.
In short, as with the first presidential debate two weeks ago, and the vice-presidential contest last week, no-one won this bout.
All of which is good news for Senator Obama. Thanks to the financial crisis that has erupted in the last three weeks , the Democrat has opened up a commanding lead in the polls that will surely now – less than four weeks before the election – only be undone by some terrible error on his part, or some unimaginable breakthrough by Senator McCain.
The Illinois senator is now in the position of a golfer who is dormie three in a matchplay tournament. If he doesn’t lose, he wins. And he can even afford to lose a couple of holes and still be in command.
Source: Timesonline UK
Immediately after the debate, Wolf Blitzer goes there: “It’s apparent to say that Sen. McCain has some disdain, I think it’s fair to say, for Sen. Obama. That was very apparent throughout the course of this debate.”
Watch full debate here
A good debate, McCain tried his usual lines of attack but Obama was prepared. What we could most take from it – was the differences between the two men. The McCain style is to attack almost without looking and the Obama style – to gather the facts and make a solid advance given a broad view of factors.
McCain was undoubtedly more respectful to Obama – bar a couple of incidents most notable – when he referred to Obama as ‘that one’. It seems to be slowly sinking in that Obama is for real – and not only is he there as McCain’s challenger – but also what Obama says and thinks has gravity with the American public.
I thought McCain got off the a running start and looked for a moment like – he was 40 years younger (maybe thirty yrs) – but that soon dried up – and I was honestly worried about McCain’s health – he appeared pent up – shaken and sometimes out of breath – that it really brought home his frailty – but more it had the effect of making him look desperate and even begging.
Obama clearly wants to take America along another vein – and it is not at all clear that McCain wants to do the same – instead he seems to be a man who is bolstering himself on what he knows already – and where he has been – and added to this McCain seems to be ignoring – the atmosphere of change – that is sweeping the world – in the environment, foreign relations to name a few. Where McCain seems to be looking to put the old puzzle together better – Obama seems to be gathering the pieces to put together a new puzzle. That’s change – whereas what McCain seems to talking about is an alteration.
Obama is saying it may be necessary to use aggression – but under his administration – he would use every effort – including diplomacy and gathering the support of our allies – to avert ever having to use such force. When Obama talks about aggression – McCain attempts to make it look as though he is being reckless – not only has Obama’s ideas been copied by the Bush administration – both making cross border attacks into Pakistan’s lawless border – and in dealing with Iran.
Obama used his segments wisely – to clearly lay out a broad a plan as possible – over scoring points – he seemed to be more focused on relaying his message in the most positive and direct way as he could. McCain was also clear on many points – but this was lessened by the fact that he was maybe looking for a punch up or a dust up – in the end McCain did not show himself at all superior. And that matters in a debate.
As for scoring points – Obama comes across as being more measured – and through this his brilliance comes out. He starts off his segments – kind of like the water that comes onto the shore – first the water is by your feet and next you know – it’s up to your knees. That’s Obama’s style. And one of the best examples of this was when he talked about energy and the need to come together – to effect change.
McCain’s style seems very – us and them – and then ‘them’ is made in to a target – them could be Barack Obama and them could be Russia – but it is almost as if he still flying the plane – as a naval bomber – and has to solve the problem via bombing. And he portrays himself almost as the man who knows how to bomb – but more there is a phantom army in support of his efforts. He has been in the Senate for many years – and he says I know how to catch Bin Laden – and another thing he frequently says is I know how to win a war. And what is Russia, for McCain – it’s the KGB – over an evolving nation – that most in Europe would attest to. And how he plans to deal with it – in his short answer – it seems would be like going back to the good old days – or pure aggression between the two nations – US and the
USSR, over the reality of a far more open Russia that looks very different today.
With McCain’s shaky health – and Palin’s pursuit of trigger happiness – I would be worried about this line of attempt to deal with the problems we face with Russia.
Another part of the debate focused on healthcare and taxes. On taxes McCain seems to have switched direction on that one – telling Obama – in gambling man’s style – that maybe he would not lower taxes for the rich /those making over $250,000/yr. That’s when Obama retorted – that the Straight Talk Express has lost its wheel. If McCain has changed his mind here – then he agrees with Biden – in this economic environment that kind of expenditure on the rich – is unpatriotic – as it is the poorer people who need money more in tougher times. And goes directly in the face of what Palin has been yelling on the stump.
All in all it was clear that Obama – has become more adapt at debating McCain – one of the highlights was when he said – McCain keeps saying I don’t understand – yes I don’t understand how we could have gone to war – in Iraq when Al-Qaeda was in Afghanistan.
Obama Wants to Talk About the Economy; McCain Wants to Talk About Obama
Sen. John McCain has said he wants to shift the national dialogue away from the ongoing economics crisis and onto Sen. Barack Obama’s character, and will likely use the stage of tonight’s debate to do just that.
When the candidates meet tonight at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., for their second of three debates, the pressure will be on McCain, who is trailing in the polls, to convince people to reconsider their priorities as well as their votes.
That means continuing his campaign’s strategy of attacking Obama’s judgment, analysts said.
“He’s got a very difficult task ahead of him,” said Torie Clarke, a Republican strategist and ABC News political consultant. “He has to do something different. He has to say something that will change the game. He has to inject something into the system that will shake things up, because right now, it does not look good.”
Tonight’s town hall style debate is moderated by Tom Brokaw of NBC News. Brokaw will ask six or seven of the more than 6 million questions submitted over the Internet.
Another dozen or so questions will be asked by a group of 80 undecided voters from the Nashville area selected by the Gallup Poll.
Questions on both domestic and foreign policy will be followed with a two-minute response by each candidate and then a minute of open debate between the two.
McCain favors the town hall format and has previously challenged Obama to other town hall debates, but he arrives tonight at a moment when people say they are deeply dissatisfied with the current Republican administration and worried about their financial futures.
Down in the polls in the key battleground states, McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, went on the offensive this weekend, aggressively attacking Obama for his association to 1960s radical William Ayers, a move some see as part of a last-ditch attempt to revive a flagging campaign.
Source: ABC News