Saturday, June 07, 2008

No Crown for Big Brown

Tip of the hat to Jockey Kent Desormeaux, who felt that something was amiss with Big Brown and pulled him up to finish dead last in Belmont today. By all accounts (so far, at least), Big Brown isn't seriously injured--he does have a cracked hoof, but it seems not to have affected his race--just tired and, it seemed during the race, a little pissed off. But Desormeaux, when he realized that a Triple Crown wasn't going to happen, decided to take care of his horse. That decision is the first step in restoring my faith in the existence of responsible horse racing.

Senator Clinton's Concession Speech

Hillary Clinton delivered the last words of the primary campaign today, addressing her supporters at the National Building Museum in Washington and providing her supporters with the best aesthetics of her campaign. In her speech, she concentrated on four themes: thanking her supporters, endorsing Senator Obama, calling for Democratic unity, and addressing the historic nature of a woman running for president i.e. the gender elements of the campaign.

Like other concession speeches, such as Al Gore's in 2000, it was well written and well delivered. Unfortunately for Gore in 2000 and Clinton today, both candidates delivered their speech after the election was settled. For some reason, maybe because the pressure is off, candidates can deliver outstanding concession speeches when they were not as good on the stump during the campaign. If only the candidates could deliver that type of speech on the stump, the campaign may have done better.

The strength of the speech occurs in the final two sections where Clinton calls for unity and addresses the gender aspects of her campaign. When discussing unity, she did a very good job of standing up for her principles of the Democratic party and Senator Obama while not compromising her beliefs. Unfortunately, during the speech, it is not clear if her supporters desire the unity Senator Clinton addressed. Besides the tension in the race and how close Senator Clinton finished to Senator Obama, it must have been tough for her to deliver this section since she did not want to leave the race and, according to Politico, her supporters forced her hand about the endorsement. Yet, through all of this, even Senator Clinton declared, "Yes We Can."

As for the gender aspect of the speech, she discussed cracking the glass ceiling but not cracking it. The speech features the Democratic idea of progress where her candidacy is another step (abolition, suffrage) expanding the right and ability of people to participate in political life. She attempts to connect this progress with unity as she argues:

So I want to say to my supporters, when you hear people saying – or think to yourself – “if only” or “what if,” I say, “please don’t go there.” Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward.

Life is too short, time is too precious, and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been. We have to work together for what still can be. And that is why I will work my heart out to make sure that Senator Obama is our next President and I hope and pray that all of you will join me in that effort.

This quote is reminiscent of RFK's remarks, "Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not."

For Senator Clinton, it was a very good speech, one of her best. It has been very well received and may help to mend the divisions within the party.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Born Again

A less political post:

Here's a story (a happy one) that gives new meaning to the term "born again."

Thursday, June 05, 2008

"Responsible War" and "Aggressive Diplomacy"

P-duck is not as celebratory…
I wish I could share in The Rhetorical Situation’s overall happiness at Obama’s nomination; however, I am concerned with his inexperience and with his stance towards the Iraq war.

“Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.”

Obama’s plan to “responsibly end the war” (can one “responsibly” end war?) includes the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and the launching of an “aggressive diplomatic efforts” in the region. “Aggressive diplomatic efforts” seems like an oxymoron to me, and I’m curious as to how effective diplomatic efforts will be in a region where life is currently defined by physical violence, not diplomacy.

If “al Qaeda attempts to build a base,’ THEN he’ll keep troops in Iraq? Things will have gotten pretty bad if al Qaeda is able to build a base.

I like that Obama recognizes that there is a “humanitarian crisis” in Iraq happening in the present, but his solutions focus on refugees, not current citizens trying to eke out a living in a war-torn country. Al Qaeda continues to wreak havoc on the day-to-day lives of average Iraqis, and, as Mr. P-Duck and I have discussed many times, a weak economy and faltering infrastructure make it difficult to stabilize the country. Many of the US military’s responsibilities have involved protecting major highways so that food and supplies can reach Iraqi towns, rebuilding schools and hospitals, etc. Terrible poverty and desperation have driven many Iraqis to join the insurgency, thus undermining much of the progress made by humanitarian and military efforts. If the US pulls out completely, who will continue to protect the transportation of goods? The diplomats?

As many of you know, Iraq is a personal subject in the Duck household. Mr. P-Duck and I don’t feel that an immediate withdrawal of the troops will do much good for Iraq. It will, however, make the president (or president-to-be) look good in the eyes of the American public.

I am a Democrat, so Obama will get my vote, reluctantly. Hawkish McCain scares me more than Obama’s naiveté about war.

By Way of The Kinks: An Ode To Obama's True Demographic

The first rock band Harrogate ever truly fell in love with, and they will forever remain a favorite. And, this may be the first song that did it for Harrogate, too:

"Take a good look around," Ray croons in the beautiful closing lines. "The Misfits Are Everywhere." In the phenomenon known as the Obama stump speech, some truth has indeed been put to Davies' argument.

Much Congratulations for Obama

There has been great wailing and gnashing of teeth, as they say, on all sides throughout this Democratic Primary. The foundational Talking Point through it all has been, the Democrats will unite behind the winner when this mess is finally settled. Now, we get a chance to test this meme.

One thing about Unity. It doesn't mean you have to love, or even really like, those with whom and behind whom you are unifying. What it means, simply and beautifully from the perspective of our republican institutions, is that there is common ground which all have an interest in staking out.

At present, the tracts of common ground are enormous. So what, for example, if Clinton and Obama's health care plans are almost the same, a little different, or widely different? So what if Obama's Health Care plan doesn't fix the whole shabang at once? The point is, if Health Care was a selling point of HRC's in a voter's mind, then they now can cheerfully vote Obama, because of common ground. In short, at least the man acknowledges there is a problem and seeks solutions to it. This puts him in a different category altogether from any prominent Republican.

Similar arguments can and should be made for the gamut of issues foreign and domestic. Because of common ground, HRC supporters ought not withold their votes from Obama come this fall. It really ought not affect things for her die-hards one way or the other, whether she is chosen to be his running mate. In fact, the only argument Harrogate can think of for Obama offering her the Veep spot, is simply as a gesture of genuine respect for someone who garnered so very many votes, who pushed him so hard (and thus arguably at least, made him a better politician), and who in these last few months seems finally to have learned how to give a real political speech. Such, probably, won't constitute enough of an argument, with so much metaphorical blood on the wall.

Obama is going to want to go in a different direction, and that is of course his right, and must be respected as such by all parties involved.

So congratulations, Senator Obama. You practically owned, this season, a demographic of voters that many politicians in both parties have persistently refused to recognize: No, Harrogate is not alluding to race, though that will be all the rage for the next several months. Harrogate instead refers to the burned-out, the bitter, the apathetic. The non-voter, in short, has been pursued this season, and pursued vigorously. Adding this suddenly viable block to the aready substantial block of Democratic loyalists, Obama thinks he's got a shot at winning the White House.

Time will tell if Repubs' Death Grip can be loosed this November, O Readers. Harrogate is deeply skeptical, but with lives in the balance, it would be unethical not to hold out a shred of hope.

An End to the Long and Winding Road

The NY Times reports that Senator Clinton will suspend her campaign and endorse Senator Obama on Saturday, five days after Senator Obama won the Democratic Primary. Yesterday, Senator Clinton received feedback but not support from her key backers, telling her it was time to end her campaign and support the Democratic nominee.

And M, you are correct: I do not believe there will be a joint ticket. Clinton's RFK comments, her lack of concession on Tuesday, and the pressure from her camp to secure the VP slot are recent examples to suggest why she won't be number two. Besides the fact Bill Clinton won't pass the vetting process and the Clinton's are a direct contradiction to Obama's message, there seems to be one other problem. In her speech on Tuesday, Senator Clinton stated that what she wanted was respect for herself and her supporters. Of course, throughout the primary, she has shown very little respect for the process and for the fact that someone beat her. Even when she adressed AIPAC yesterday, after she lost the nomination, she used the chance to take aim at Senator Obama.

If she believes that Senator Obama is not the legitimate nominee or that he will not win in November save having her on the ticket-- both of which her speeches suggests she believes and both of which are incorrect-- there is little need to have her on the ticket. These will only hinder a Democratic administration that does not have Senator Clinton on the top of the ticket and there is little chance she will be on the top of the ticket in 2008. Of course, if she were on the top of a ticket now, the division will be too great for her to win.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The long and winding road continues

Unlike Solon, I'm not going to wax poetic over the "end" of the Democratic primaries. Yes, I am glad this part of the election cycle is over. That said, I think those of us who support a democratic candidate have along fight ahead of us. Mark my words (and those of Paperweight, who has said is far louder and far more often than I have) this election is going to be ugly. Further, there are a few things that the democrats need to take car of right away.

First and foremost, HRC needs to pull her head out of her ass and withdraw. I am a longtime supporter of HRC and part of me is very sad that she isn't the nominee; that said, she needs to do what is best for the party and end her run. Second, Obama needs to determine the best strategy to win, and frankly if that means choosing HRC as his running mate (she's recently made statements suggesting she is very open to a VP position) he and his ardent supporters need to make this decision and make it fast. Frankly, I'm not at all convinced either Obama or HRC can beat McCain on their own. Together, I would argue they are almost unbeatable. (And, yes, Solon, I am fully aware that you disagree with everything I've just written, so you don't need to feel compelled to remind me why Obama shouldn't choose HRC as a running mate.) If Obama chooses another running mate (and there are a lot of other good choices out there), HRC needs to be given a fairly public role in his administration and at the Democratic National Convention. In short the democrats need to unify themselves very, very quickly if they are going to win in November.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Long and Winding Road

The Democratic Primary is over, and Senator Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee.

If you are still uncertain about Senator Obama, read his victory speech from tonight. It is a speech that the Democratic nominee needs to deliver and it stands in stark contrast to the speeches of Senator Clinton and Senator McCain.

Megs, Sweet Baby J, and I are on vacation. We could not watch the coverage or the speeches though we found all three om the radio, living Megs romantic ideal.

Tonight, it is a beautiful world....