Friday, October 31, 2008

The TR: Charlie's Courage, Valium-Assisted Voting, and the Cusp of the Campaign

This is it! The five-year campaign is slogging to an end (what, you said it's only been 20 months?). We've faithfully covered every step of the way. Think about it: by the time you see the next TR, we'll have a new President-elect! So, for this momentous TR, we'll tiptoe into the media's haunted house to see who's shaking and quaking.


Well, what else is going to rock the media world all next week but the fate of the free world? Could Johnny Boy pull it off? The electoral bean counters say it's nearly impossible. If the stars somehow align, look for man-in-the-street interviews about a stolen election and much commentary on the smears and negative ads that drove the rabble mad - and sent McC and Caribou Barbie to the White House. Hate-baiting is a risky path to victory, my Johnny O. When you pull the election into the quicksand, it's hard to get to 270 and not go under yourself. Or as they say in that real America Bible: "What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?"

The big money is on O. If it turns out to be so, the wing-nut media will scream about ACORN-stuffed ballot boxes and socialism and unsubstantiated terrorist ties. More responsible folk will be talking about Obama's incredibly well-run campaign and the real Joe (and Josephine) the Plumber's fears about the economy.

Commentators will also examine the Hispanic and women's vote. When the foreclosure crisis broke, the Latino vote (a community vulnerable to predatory loans) flocked Obama-side. You may remember, Bush's decent numbers among this demographic were needed to (sort of) carry 2000 and (definitely) 2004. O's economy talk also has moved women in a huge way.

If you're still strapped for a costume idea, you could go to your Halloween fetes as someone holding the country's worst job: Congressional Republican. With even Liddy Dole's and Gordon Smith's heads ripe for the chopping block, the Dems will significantly increase their majorities in both houses. Our new favorite lobbyist (you know who you are) says this election will change governing for 30 years.

But lest you get too cozy and complacent about the poll margins, allow us to gently advise you: Get out there and vote, Vote, VOTE! We may as well follow the Dems' lead and conclude Election 2008 with some consistency by playing it safe to the end - this election's too important. And if you suspect that there's voting impropriety or any erstwhile shigidy (as we hear them call it in Pennsylvania) going on at your polling place, do not hesitate to report it at 866-MY-VOTE-1.

Finally, here at TR Central, we've gotten so over-wrought and wild-eyed in the home stretch, that some very human news caught us completely off guard: John and Elizabeth Edwards may be breaking up. His essential decency and her grace made many of us wish they'd move into the house next door when they couldn't move to the White House. May the Edwards' privacy be somewhat sheltered as this news gets lost in the gale-force media winds waiting to embrace the coming of a new President.

The Week That Was

We're loving the new "O is anti-semitic" story line being dished out by McCain (think of Florida much?). This is just the latest unbelievable, wacky, anti-Obama story - they seem to crop up every four hours. You may check out the "homeless aunt" and Palestinian scholar Rashid Khalidi for starters. But this desperate scramble for any late-breaking surprise story shows just that - desperation.

Things have gotten so bleak that candidates are even conceding the Presidential race and campaigning on the idea of no one-party rule (for the health of our democracy, man). Jeez, is anyone playing to win anymore? Liddy's even re-cutting audio in order to present her opponent Kay Hagen as godless. Uh, wow.

Across the ideological spectrum, both sides are SERIOUSLY FREAKED over this election, requiring more hypertension medicine and mucho Xanax. One of our best Facebook friends laments that if O loses, "they'll just have to start passing out the poisoned Kool-Aid." The TR Pre-Election Psychiatric Wing understands this pain.

And what of Sarah Barracuda, you ask? She's committed the biggest of the big ROGUE campaign no no's: openly talking about her 2012 run. The Momocrats share our concern that she might appoint herself to replace Senator Stevens if he loses his bid or is expelled from the Senate. Either way, it seems that nothing we can do on Tuesday will erase Palin from the national scene. But we meet this prospect with gladness, for, with all the heavy troubles to be faced when the political theater is over, Palin-watching will be the source of much-needed satiric relief.

The Obama 30-minute, $3 million infomercial was money well spent, especially as a lead-in to the final World Series game (kept those folks in Pennsylvania riveted, we're sure). TR Central was most impressed with the stories of struggling families and retirees in Bush-Era America. O made voters take a good, hard look at their own circumstances before heading to the voting booth.

We'd like to take a moment to commend Governor Charlie Christ for doing the right thing down in Florida by extending early voting from eight to 12 hours after reports of technical difficulties. We'd also like to give a big shout out to the folks at Voter Action for successfully suing Da Man in Pennsylvania to get more paper ballots on hand at polling places.


Okay, it was Phillies in four. But we'll still take the credit.

Have a safe and fun Halloween night, DC-ers! See you at the recount!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The TR: Obama Zombies, Reppin' the Rednecks and Al Bundy's Agenda

Brrr! Everyone here in the big city is bundling up, and the interns are showing off their new boots. Really, it's all a part of fall tradition. Did you carve your Barack-O-Lantern yet? They'll soon be everywhere - ditto for the Obama Halloween masks (which may run neck-and-neck with the Palin costumes). Yes, for the next couple of weeks, the unprecedentedly gargantuan and inescapable Prez campaigns will become even gargantuaner. Scary!!!


John McCain has essentially abandoned a slew of states to concentrate on the slim hope of turning Pennsylvania around. Because he can't afford much ad time, he's been glutting personal appearances. But the poor guy keeps undermining himself with mind-boggling verbal slips. At least the gaffes keep him in the news. With no serious GOTV operation and no momentum, he'd otherwise slip our minds entirely.

Meanwhile, Obama is turning red states to blue as he surfs around the country on a massive wave of cash. His big ad buys and superior ground game stun the voters, then he swoops in to reprogram them en masse. Go ahead, say it: "Must. Vote. Obama!" Expect this trend to continue, as he picks up the shallow undecideds who like to vote for whomever looks poised to win.

We must all keep an eye on electoral misconduct, mishaps and mischief. The folks at Brad Blog are doing an excellent job keeping track of problems with touch-button voting. Few people have been paying attention, but just wait 'til they occur in major toss-up states and voters start grumbling about mis-recorded votes and long lines, as we're starting to see in early voting.

Hey, Ben and Jerry's is offering free ice cream for voters on election day. Ice cream in November? Hmmm. You guys don't sell coffee, do you? However this race is going to turn out, there is sure to be a new Obama flavor soon. Baracky Road?

With Conservatives needing something (anything, really) to latch onto, the prospect of beating John Murtha has suddenly become the silver chalice for the next two weeks, after the senior congressman's gaffes about the racists and "rednecks" in his district. Hey, you take what you can get, right? His opponent William Russell has been barnstorming the blogosphere and right wing media. Even if Russell doesn't come out on top, he'll have a higher profile in conservative circles for a long while.

On November 14, Lame Duck Bush will host a 20-nation summit to address the financial crisis. Will the President-Elect have to live with the decisions Bush makes at the summit? Watch for a steady news drip regarding this new G-20 event in the coming weeks.

Proposition 8, the ballot initiative to rescind marriage rights for same-sex couples in California, has been winning support in a state largely divided on gay marriage. We suspect it's because the proponents of the bill have been running ads with young people claiming to protect civil liberties through a strange stew of hipster-Nixonian-doublespeak. The scary part? So far, it's working. This might be the finest use of new media by conservatives in quite some time, and it's gonna heat up real fast.

As for the World Series, Phillies in 6!

The Week That Was

PEW's Project for Excellence in Journalism says Obama DIDN'T win the media war -- McCain just lost, badly. According to PEW's newly released study of media coverage of the 2008 campaign from September 8 through October 16, the heavy bleeding began with the economic downturn and didn't stop. No doubt Colin Powell's wounding endorsement of Obama this past Sunday just made it worse. The lesson of the day is clear: Declare war on the "elite" media at your peril.

No matter how much the wingnuts dug Rep. Michelle Bachmann's McCarthyite screed on Hardball, the blowback for her rant on anti-American activities was severe. Almost overnight, her opponent in Minnesota, the delightfully named Elwyn Tinklenberg, was flooded with donations while the RNC picked up stakes and left town. Way to go, Rep. Bachmann!

What's the best way to show your solidarity with struggling moms? Um, spend $150k on your wardrobe? (GONG!) It's all going to charity after the election, but do struggling families really need womanly-yet-assertive jacket and skirt combos to get them through a bitter winter?

Right-wing pundits haven't been much help to the Republican effort. Some say Matt Drudge has been rendered virtually irrelevant to the media narrative (citing Nickelodeon Kids Choice polls as evidence of a McCain comeback). Limbaugh isn't even skirting his racism anymore. And Michelle Malkin thinks that Joe Biden has "imploded," even though the man has to practically beg to get on p.15 of Arts and Leisure. Is this the best they can do?

Talk about turning on the heat. The far right now insists Obama not only consorts with terrorists but with Satan-lovers. Check out Fox News Political Contributor James P. Pinkerton's latest posting in the Fox Forum Report. Just in time for Halloween!

The RNC's been insisting for months that the media is biased for Obama, and now that includes Nick at Night and TV Land. Seems Opie and the Fonz want you to pull the lever (or push the button, or touch the screen, or stand in line, or whatever) for Obama. Even Al Bundy is in the tank!

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die


We anticipated some shake-ups in the newspaper endorsement game, and, boy, were we right. Many publications that backed Bush in '04 are now on the Obama bandwagon, including the Chicago Trib, which has never ever endorsed a democratic presidential dandidate. Glad to see everyone got the memo!

See you next week.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Video Game Voters, Pesky Plumbers, and CosmoGirl's Coda

The debates are over and now we can vote! Soon! Please? It will distract us from constantly checking how our meager savings are being decimated by the still-plunging Dow. Besides, we have to take what's left of our home equity line of credit to start shopping, though, given the economy, the Election Eve tree will look more like the True Value discount aisle.


Hey, Iraq! Long time no see! So, um, hows about we hang around 'til 2011? Right now that's the tentative agreement the U.S. and the Iraqi government have reached for a withdrawal. Since this is likely the first step in what will no doubt be a long journey to pull out, we're really begging someone to do a proper editorial on this development and the possibilities it holds for global and domestic security. C'mon, guys, we know you've got it in there somewhere.

The latest war between man and the money he hath wrought has turned to emerging markets around the world. Expect to hear more talk of the threats facing globalized economics in newly industrialized countries in the next weeks. Perhaps even mentions of debt forgiveness may find its way into the mix (you hear that, Bono?).

Newspaper endorsements are right around the corner, and it's pretty safe money that Obama will be raking them in heavily this time. No surprises there. However, we'll be looking anxiously at the language used by editors to define McCain and the GOP as the hateful right wing mailings sink lower and lower. Oops -- they're ahead of us! Here's the Post's "go, go Obama!" nearly full-page piece.

The Week That Was

While Obama and McCain shamelessly pandered to fancy millionaire plumbers (no we won't repeat his name -- for once a plumber is going to have to wait for us to call back), George Packer provided one of the most insightful pieces on "economy-first" voters this week in the New Yorker. Get your heads out of the Beltway clouds, flacks and flackettes, to see a more reliable window into the swing states.

We'd like to point out instances of responsible journalism (for a change). If you're curious about what actually caused the crash, check out this past week's Economist editorial (the whole crazy story in a page and a half -- without the complicating factor of Dem/Repub finger pointing), the Washington Post's series, and the New York Times editorial.

If you had any doubt how powerful the Obama's campaign ad money is, they've recently purchased space on, get this, 16 video games. Digital billboards -- jeez, people may vote for this guy just to see what he'll do for re-election. In response, McCain has vowed to follow Donkey Kong to the gates of hell.

As for messages, the desperate new Republican Party triangle is: Fannie/Freddie/Clinton/Obama caused the crash; ACORN plans to steal the vote; and (sotto voce and only in deep red states) Obama is a terrorist.

The economy sucks, so -- BUY STUFF!!! That's what plenty of companies are trying to tell you these days, although they might be using a slightly more subtle approach. The financial crisis of late has been the perfect advertising tool for the likes of Burger King, Denny's and even Brooks Brothers, whose recent ad says, "Just as our ad stated in the 1940's, during these uncertain times Brooks Brothers is still the investment you can trust." Don't buy stocks; buy pants. Priorities, people!

Chris Buckley, the man who has conservatism hardwired into his DNA (no, seriously, it's the latest fad in genetic science), is now backing Obama following his resignation from the National Review. Yes, folks, now even the Buckleys aren't conservative enough anymore. The TR Historical Society is ghostwriting a posthumous endorsement from Herbert Hoover to go along with this one.

It isn't a new idea, but it's getting more and more popular. In the same vein as that creepy Wendy's ad we mentioned a while ago, another corporate giant jumped into viral video marketing with both feet -- and hit bottom fairly quickly. This time it was Ruby Tuesdays, with their video of a mistaken demolition of a neighborhood "Chici's" instead of one of their older chain restaurants. Um, is this supposed to be post-modern messaging? It's going over our heads.

Oh no, CosmoGirl is going under! Now 16 year-old girls will have to switch to Cosmo in order to find out about life's kinky knickknacks and domestic disappointments. Sigh, they grow up so fast, don't they? See you at the nail salon, ladies.

We really cleaned up last week. Palin was pummeled in Philly and, more importantly, the European banks found solidarity behind an innovative plan to preserve the liquidity of their own banks. Gotta keep that momentum going... See you next week!

Friday, October 10, 2008

AIG's Affront, Dry Debates and Palin's Puck Drop

Is that CRASH the sound of your retirement portfolio going under? Or is it just the shuddering of a multinational earthquake of mortgage-backed securities bringing down markets from New York to Beijing to Reykjavik? People, listen up: It may be a three-day weekend for 9-5ers (or 8-7ers if you work at TR Central), but constant vigilance is required to sort out whether Clinton or Reagan is responsible for this mess. Read on...


We are sorry to be the bearers of more ill tidings, but the world economic crisis and multinational governmental fixes will continue to dominate the headlines. Expect articles on international cooperation and digging the change out of various Central Bank sofas. We were happy to hear that the head of the IMF stepped up yesterday to promise third- and first-world bailouts, with the proviso that they had "over 700 billions" to spare (loved the IMF pres then switching to French to deliver the good news - trés chic!). Let's hope for more of this - and some successes.

Mystified by some of the exchanges during last Thursday's debate? You haven't heard the last of it. The TR Financial Group (Newly Public NYSE: TRFG) would like to point your attention to Dem-backed Freddie and Fannie's role at the heart of the mortgage crisis. First, you've heard that Clinton is behind all of this, huh? You are behind the times -- it's already credo quia absurdum* among Repug party faithful and conservative talk radio. But, despite the Washington Post giving it a few clarifying graphs this week -- after weeks of crazed YouTube videos and right-wing blog rants -- it just may be too late to re-assign blame. (BTW, the YouTube masters thesis on this one has been removed from the site because of music copy-right infringement. Too bad, it was worth watching.)
*I believe because it is absurd.

But don't let's get too cocksure thinking it will be "that one" by a landslide. Despite some early good numbers, it's too early to know and irresponsible to speculate. First, there's all sorts of polling biases. Not to mention that the Queen herself has the electoral stigmata of polling blisters from heel to palm after days of Virginia canvassing. There's plenty of white-guy hostility out there (some of it even directed at little blonde 9-year-old Obama supporters). If you think this will be a cakewalk for the Big O, we've got some Gore/Lieberman signs in Florida to sell you.

It's the most ambitious ad buy to date this election season. (If it doesn't work, maybe the candidates also have a little extra cash to spare for Freddie or Fannie?) The Obama campaign has purchased a full half-hour of primetime ad space on CBS for October 29 at 8 p.m. Will this be an FDR-style fireside chat about the sacrifices Americans need to make to get us back on track? An effective biographical sketch to counteract the "Who is Obama?" RNC strategy? Or a wasted half-hour of top-dollar-Democratic-consultant-inspired tired campaign slogans? OMG, the suspense!
The GOP is worried about voter fraud! Stop laughing. Ok, chuckle a BIT. The party of Diebold and Kitty Harris is now alleging that ACORN is submitting questionable voter registration rolls in over 10 crucial states. Expect this to be a burgeoning talking point for the McCain flacks as Election Day looms. And expect push back from people who AREN'T being registered who should be.
The Supreme Court is on the brink of deciding a major case that can impact workplace discrimination and the way private enterprises can investigate their own personnel. This has huge repercussions for non-profits who specialize in workplace fairness and gender equality. We are sure to hear much more buzz from the DC fold when the Supremes render their final judgment.

And welcome to Kingdom Come. It appears that Guns 'n' Roses album Chinese Democracy, which has been slated to be released repeatedly for the last 14 years, is finally coming out in November through Best Buy. Rawk. But if this is your gateway to modern music, um, wow. E-mail our Culture Minister STAT to get your head in the game.

The Week That Was

The hot topic regarding Tuesday night's debate seems to be less the candidates and more Tom Brokaw. Right-wingers spin that Tom "lost control" and allowed it to be a "tepid debate." Others claim it was the worst debate in the history of western civilization! Or it was just plain boring. But when your only points of comparison are campaign rallies that resemble Bircher meetings, you don't have much to stand on.

Even though summer has drawn to a close, apparently flip flops are still in high fashion among fall interns, with even McCain's representin'! Remember that mortgage plan he proposed on the fly during Tuesday's debate? By Thursday it was kaput. That steady hand at the till seems to get shakier by the day on the economy. How is it that he still, at long last, hasn't settled on any economic messaging?

After huge amounts of ugly backlash, the folks at AIG has now decided that their usually swank conference at the Ritz should perhaps be postponed this year, since taxpayers would be footing the bill. Wise idea, guys, but late, dontcha think? And now the Senate wants hearings on how the giant is squandering our moolah.

Is anyone surprised by the Sarah Palin hate rallies? Luckily, newspapers of record are covering them, and the blogosphere is a-dither. Let's just hope they don't extend to the Palin opening puck-drop at the Flyers game Saturday. Will this be a dramatic and possibly hubris-filled photo-op? To quote Mommy Moose Hunter: You betcha!

This one is severely under the radar, especially for a story depicting a growing and urgent trend: Yet another Gitmo prosecutor has resigned due to the kangaroo-court atmosphere of the hearings at the infamous institution. Progressive institutions need to track these guys down and get their testimonials on what's been going on the past seven years in our detention centers. Make it an issue.

And the new "Jane Fonda for Despots" has arrived! The Vladimir Putin instructional Judo DVD (no, really) is your best tool on how to hurt friends and kill interesting people. Hey, it's this or a Hugo Chavez Tae Bo class in spandex, and he isn't competing with Billy Blanks anytime soon.

Reader Comments

"Where is my TR?" screeched one faithful reader when we went late to press last week. "Please put my name back on your list" begged others. Sorry, not quite sure what happened. Maybe our e-mail program is managed by... Diebold?

It wasn't hard to predict that major international market collapses were going to be the story of the week (esp if you read the WSJ every day), but thanks, we'll take the credit. As for our prediction that McCain would try to change the subject, well -- we give you this week's stories on O's cozy terrorist ties. We'd curtsy, but we ARE of royal lineage. (That means YOU should curtsy or bow, or just throw money.)

Check you next week. Have a great 3-dayer if you're a lightweight. If you're a Washingtonian, don't bother coming in Sunday if you're not in the office Saturday.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Debate on the Debates

This is the first time in history that two sitting U.S. Senators have run against each other for the Presidency. So, no matter what they’ve learned about public speaking in the past, grandstanding is the only rule that either of them live by on a daily basis.

The Senate has never historically been the people’s chamber in either its temperament or organizational structure. It’s the chamber of the filibuster, non-pertinent amendments, six year terms and legislators who hang around well into their 80’s and 90’s. And its members have been directly elected for less than 100 years.

So when Sens. McCain and Obama attempt to occupy to the “people’s pulpit” in these debates, they never make it to the proper platform.

In lieu of speaking to voters, both candidates have been trying to be “right” rather than “good” in these debates. They’ve clashed on batting averages instead of judgment and temperament. Instead of debating the philosophies of the other candidate directly they’ve been talking about bloodless policies. The debates have suffered as a result and have reached a stalemate that favors Obama on clarity and speaking points solely.

These debates have become competing brainstorming sessions that just meander endlessly, the sole purpose of which is to vindicate either candidate instead of asserting themselves.

Americans aren’t so naïve that they want a President who’s right all the time. They want the person who will do what is best in a job where there are tough choices with consequences. If you’re afraid to talk directly and frankly about that level of responsibility to the only other person who can take that job away from you, how are you going to convince the rest of the country?

But they have one more chance to get it right. For the sake of a proper dialogue, let’s hope they deliver.

Friday, October 3, 2008

More Veep Commentary from Facebook-Land

The Queen's love for Facebook shouldn't be called an obsession. She's part of the new wave! Here are some of her favorite status updates from the debates last night and this morning. Excellent job, all!
Eli Pariser has a few follow-up questions.

Patrick Ruffini is rejoicing at Palins' big win.

Cliff Schecter is wondering if Sarah Palin thinks Hamas is best served with pita bread.

Matt Stoller feels like he's blogging a soap opera where nothing happens. And, for some reason, Joe Biden is in it.

Sheryl Canter is just as afraid as the Queen that Palin likes the extra-legal, extra-constitutional, Cheney-like VP powers. And we are both relieved Biden has actually read the Constitution and can quote it live on TV.

Tamar Abrams is so worried about the evil Castro Brothers, who Sarah P. warned us against last night. I bought a sofa from them last year. I didn't know they were EVIL!!!!!

Will Robinson is recovering from a betcha and doggonit hangover.

Marc Chimes doesn't have to answer the questions either. No black lady who's writing a book about Obama is gonna be the boss of me...

Nicole St. Clair Knobloch is turning it off, turning it on, trying with and without sound.

Ted Leonsis wants everyone to know that "no one is perfect."

Aaron Matthew Arnwine says that us bitter clingers, holding our guns and our bibles, witnessed what we hoped and expected - Krauthammer, Parker, et. al. can suck on it.

The TR: Economic Exigence, Combat Communications and Belittled Bulldogs

Great Tina Fey impersonation last night, Gov P! Or was that a Stepford Candidate robotically throwing out canned talking points no matter what the question? "Maverick!" "Hockey mom!" "Drill, baby, drill!" "You betcha (wink)!" Put on the popcorn, SNL may be the best thing that happens this week.


Don't expect the stock market to calm down any time soon, and start the countdown to other countries' major market meltdowns. This, and all details related to the bailout, will continue to dominate the news, as well as the "I was against the bailout before I was for it" U.S. representative pre-election CYA.

If it weren't so damned scarifying, it would be funny. This roller-coaster ride ain't over anytime soon, so stock up on the Dramamine. It's bad, folks... so bad that even amusement-park company Six Flags may have to get off soon to vomit.

With his campaign in a post-suspension tailspin and Michigan now off his electoral map, we're anticipating more craziness with John McCain in the approaching 9th inning of the campaign. (Hat tip goes to First Read for a nice run-down of the status of the other battleground states.) Expect more attention to McCain's Mitten State bail-out, both in analysis and bizarre "new" news to try to distract our attention.

The Week That Was

Feeling seasick as the world economy teetered on the brink all week? For those of you who expected your government to work for you, you're either delighted, outraged or both. Did Speaker Pelosi scuttle the initial bail-out plan all by herself, or was it the two-thirds of Republicans who didn't vote for it? Then the Senate rode in to the rescue with a more expensive plan that Paulson still can't fully explain. Aaaaah -- hard to know what to do with a gun to our heads, dear reader. Bail out Wall Street? Or watch the world go down in flames? Do tell us what you think. And, in the mean time, run out and get one last home equity loan to pay off those credit cards.

Post-debate, Palin must be feeling QUITE relieved. No campaigns suspended, no MAJOR screw ups, and Biden/Ifill were too afraid of looking mean to force her to actually answer questions. Gotta love the the Gov's support for the Cheney-like extra-legal extra-Constitutional expanded VP role. And adore even more that Biden not only has read what the U.S. Constitution (!) but can quote the part about the VP post live on TV. If you missed it (really?! Where WERE you?!), here are some bite-sized pieces, and don't miss the TR Staff analysis on the Turner Blog.

Global opinion of the U.S. may be in the toilet, but at least we're an absolutely riveting Technicolor spectacle for the rest of the world. Everyone is watching us, from the vultures to the hapless masses (except for JK Rowling, who's busy trying to punch an airhole through the avalanche of money falling on her). In addition to harshly criticizing the slow-motion trainwreck that is the American financial system, Russia's planning the largest military exercise since the Cold War, named (get this) Stability 2008. In Mother Russia, a financial crisis is great news.

And finally, oh yeah, there's still a war going on. The Defense Department has hired private contractors to ramp up its PR efforts in Iraq (it's called "PSYOPS" in Army-speak). It's not a new tactic but it's certainly now a well-funded one. Hey Pentagon -- we can see the White House from our office windows, at least during the cold months when the trees are bare -- and yet you haven't called us! Not that we would take that gig. So there.


Still going strong. Hope you toasted the media madness that was this last week! Now we're gonna go sleep off this hangover. Have a great weekend.

Veep Debates!

The TR Staff couldn't resist putting in our two cents about the debates last night. Here's just a smidge of our opinions, and it's all over the board.

The Queen of Snark

I think Palin still sounded like an alien -- wandering sentences, misplaced message rigor, no command of the issues -- and Joe Biden and Gwen Ifill were just too nice to go after her. She's a train wreck. And it's sad, because she's clearly talented -- she's just completely out of her league.
I hoped in vain for another Couric moment. Palin exceeded the low expectations most people had for her performance, and she'd clearly memorized a lot of talking points (or at least had good index cards on her lectern), and she had dogged message discipline.
I think the only measure of her succeeding would be if she could convince people that McCain had good judgment and could be a capable leader, because right now even some of his supporters don't know what he's about. As his leading surrogate she really didn't do that, so I think it was a marginal loss for the campaign even if it was a high point for her.
Joe Biden was gracious, conveyed heart-felt concern for the future of this country and was a bottomless well of experience and fact. When he choked up over memories of watching his sons struggling to survive after the car accident that killed their mother and sister, I was a goner. Joe Biden is the sexiest Man Over Sixty in the country today. As for Sarah Palin, once I got past her artifice of cuteness (grating “you betcha”s and winks like facial tics), I was very impressed by her self-possession and refusal to be intimidated by low expectations and the Super-Bowl-sized audience that showed up to watch her fail. Still, her performance - and that’s what it was - could not dispel the acute pain I felt watching her bullshit her way through her interviews with Katie Couric last week. My verdict on how she did overall? Still unacceptably scary as possible President of the United States.
Biden’s not the hot topic this morning, and that means he did exactly what he was supposed to do. In fact, he exceeded expectations: Biden’s heartwrenching personal story obviously wasn’t in Palin’s talking points, but it endeared him to parents, no bulldog-metaphor required. The expectations for Palin, however, were much lower, so she didn’t have to jump very far to reach them. Points all around.
Honestly, I have to commend Palin on her efforts in her first debate. Although she may not be the most qualified vice presidential candidate, I think it’s safe to say that she has proven herself to be a contender. Biden, on the other hand, only sees the world in hindsight. He never seems to fully answer the questions; he can only blame the Bush administration for every downfall. For a man who said that he doesn’t see himself changing, he’s sure full of contradictions especially when he’s in a campaign that promotes just that. Whether it’s good change or a change for the worst, only time will tell, because after all the Obama campaign never really specifies what type of change they stand for.
We're sure you've already started tackling the media crush of post-debate review, but what did you think? Who spoke to your heart? Who gave you the willies?