Friday, May 23, 2008

Painful Gas at the Pump, at Free Republic and from McCain

As we all unfurl our rolls of twenties this Memorial Day weekend for $4-per-gallon gas, look for journalists everywhere - as well as polar bears migrating south for some cooler weather. But promise neither a ride unless assured of good story placement or the real skinny on the melting Arctic. As the Queen sadly knows, flacks never truly take a vacation, they just use their ├╝ber-persuasive skills to browbeat friends into better restaurant and hotel choices on long weekends. Or, in the case of journalists and polar bears, the best newly-formed ice floes in chilly Ocean City. Read on if you can stand it.

Forecast

Govs. Jindel, Crist and Romney will be guests at Johnny-boy's BBQ this weekend. Is this a line-up of Veep contenders? Maybe, but at TR Central we see a larger picture emerging: McCain needs all the bona fides possible to shore up every faction of the GOP to support him. He must be perceived as uniting the party while the Dems are divided in two. It's a magnificent two-step, which will lead to more photo ops in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Obama will tour the swing states of Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. He's shifting into general election campaign mode - or maybe he's embarking on a fact-finding tour to assess possible roles for Hillary in the future of the party. Meanwhile, O still has to make good with the Jewish community to show he's the man with the plan for the Middle East. That's a lot of mouths to feed before the convention. We think the spoonfuls will start next week.

The DNC will convene to decide whether and how to seat Florigan. Why didn't they choose to meet in, say, Peoria, rather than reporter-infested DC? We really don't need a front-row seat to watch the Democratic Party possibly implode. Expect more "I must save Democracy" rhetoric from Hill, more chilly superior silence from O and continued O-McBush dialogue on issues large and small. Even though the public has not yet fully made its views known, political dialog will increasingly exclude Hill as the press decides this battle is over.

In the latest showdown between Congressional Dems and the White House, the Senate approved new money for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but tacked on Democratic social programs. How will it look if the President comes out against military spending on Memorial Day weekend? Stay tuned for the whirlwind!

And Ticketmaster is about to roll out a "paperless ticket" system for concerts and other shows, which will require purchaser ID and thus make the shady tradition of scalping much harder. As squeaky clean as the gesture seems, this is Ticketmaster we're talking about, AKA the Blackwater and Halliburton of the live music world. What other strategies might the company devise to vanquish all other avenues of ticket resale? Surely the folks at eBay and Craigslist are waiting for the other show to drop (heh).

The Week That Was

Ted Kennedy's illness has given us all a bit of a pause. He's been able to make grander gestures and take bigger risks in his career because he and his family have experienced so many tragic losses in public service to the American people. But, even at this time, the bruises are still being piled on. Members of the Free Republic community were so jubilant over the news that the site had to shut down its forums multiple times. And the right wing wonders why they can't mobilize a decent online base.

And, of course, we can't contain ourselves over the story line emerging from Kennedy's health crisis: "So Hill, Senate Majority Leader's not enough for you? Ted Kennedy has a cancerous brain tumor, so the way is opening up for you to come back from your increasingly quixotic presidential bid and be the conscience of the Senate. Pretty please? Just give up on this Florida-Michigan thing, 'kay?"

Joe Lieberman's had a busy week. Aside from penning a Journal op-ed full of crusty Cold-War-era platitudes, he's been calling for Youtube to remove all videos produced by terrorists. Youtube has pushed back - this online channel is a free speech haven, ya know. It's sort of weird that the community which houses gems like the "dramatic chipmunk" would be the modern day equivalent of Clarence Darrow. But we'll take what we can get.

This Thursday on "Ellen," McCain's attempt to nullify the gay-marriage issue was garnished by quiet mutterings and uncomfortable facial expressions, topped off by hearty laughter so we could move on as quickly as possible. While we appreciate Ellen's effort to grill McCain on a "hot" and, for her, personal issue, the whole thing seemed a little bit too much like what happens at Thanksgiving dinner when you're stuck next to an offensive uncle and doing your darndest to maintain the family peace. We're sorry, girlfriend, but no dice. You should have had a dance-off instead.

Our final piece of McCain news (last one, we swear) comes from his online campaign. They're asking supporters to go to various blog sites and "make your opinions supporting John McCain known." And, after asking commentators to report on what they said, they'll be awarded points through the McCain Online Action Center. Some progressive bloggers consider this "recruiting trolls," but we think it's less insidious than that - merely another indulgence in nostalgia from our septuagenarian candidate. Green Stamps, anyone?

In a hopeful development on the human rights front, the Dalai Lama said he would consider appearing at the Beijing Games this summer if the Tibetan peace talks prove productive. The catch is that an invitation from the Chinese does not seem to be forthcoming. Someone's suggesting smuggling him in in Yao Ming's Nikes. Do they make Odor Eaters that size? Yikes.

And American Idol ended this week! But didn't the whole thing seem sort of like an Orwellian idea of choice? David A. or David C. We can't remember the last time television was this un-good.

Reader Comments

A prominent blogger and Philadelphia newspaper publisher was kind enough to note that we made her week with the Hillary comment, "Shouldn't we be glad that little girls all over America are being taught not to give up?"

And our own dear Minister of Art and Culture heard from her mother: "Now that you're a minister, do we have to put up an altar for you in the house?" Do, commands the Queen. We all have our own altars to Katie in the office, so why not at home?

Scorecard

The GI Bill passed the Senate this week by an overwhelming margin. But it became real news in a more tangential way as Jim Webb parlayed its success into an opportunity to grab the national spotlight. He IS a tempting nominee for Obama ticket. Still, our prognostication on the headlines remains as sharp as ever.

More on the scorecard - the Queen knew in her black little heart when we went to press last week that the political storyline was moving to a direct O-McBush dialogue. We knew Hill was about to get cut out, but we wanted to give her at least one more week. There's something to her contention that she's winning all the battleground states, even in her run against RFK (oops, we meant O). But with historically-high Democratic registration and turnout matched against historically-low Republican showings, maybe that won't matter so much in the general elec-- Hmmmm.

Behind our light-hearted snark, we hide our pain over the disasters in Burma and China. We saw the flood of human-misery stories coming from a mile away and see it stretch into the foreseeable future. May it inspire us all to open our wallets.

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