July 30, 2004
Spamusement is a clever concept: silly one-panel comics inspired by familiar spam "Subject" lines, like "Never be sick again," "We have located several horny women in your area!," "you were wrong cabinet sanchez" (which is of the variety that starts with a real phrase and then appends two random words), and possibly my favorite: "Tiny teen takes on the giant one-eyed monster!" (Not to worry, all work safe)
July 29, 2004
And it looks like Jack be gone. What a let down, I was hoping for a late August gun fight at high noon between him and Judy.
I'm off on vaca for few weeks and probably won't post much. Unless Ted Nugent rocks his way into the race of course.
If the party leaders had had their way, not only would Obama not have been delivering the keynote address at the convention, he wouldn't be the party's candidate for U.S. Senate at all. Plan A was to hand the nomination to Blair Hull, a millionaire who could have self-financed the race. That's a recruiting tactic the party's increasingly relied on since the early 1990s; as we saw last night, it can deprive the country of some of the most dynamic and committed public servants out there in exchange for bland nonentities like Herb Kohl. Money matters in politics and I wouldn't suggest the Democrats try to ignroe [sic] it, but this just brings home the need to expand the sort of fundraising success Howard Dean and John Kerry have had at the presidential level further down the ballot.Thinking about the Daily Kos' dKos 8, it seems like the effort is there. I don't know if any of the 8 were written off or challenged by the national party, but I believe the criteria for selection included that they were enthusiastically supported by the grass roots. Visitors to the site have raised several hundred thousand dollars - not much more than a drop in something like a U.S. Senate race, but they're getting hundreds of new donors.
The point is that voters get engaged early and send the party a message to ensure they get the candidate they want. Problem is, it's hard to get people to care about general elections, let alone the period well before a primary. And once the main force focusing people's attention on politics goes away - W - it may be hard to sustain the grassroots netactivism that has sprung up in the past few years. The national party might default to self-financers in the "lean" years when interest is down.
July 28, 2004
No, Pop! No, it's Obama! Yes, he's a nice man from Illinois! No, of course the Democrats aren't voting for the terrorists!
By far the most common phrase used in the past two weeks to describe Barack Obama to the larger public is "rising star." Which can evoke "sports star," but just as easily "movie star," there's some neutrality there. But after last night's keynote success, the sports metaphor has taken over.
David Brooks, immediately following the speech on PBS, said it was like "watching Tiger Woods play for the first time." Today's Trib editorial, The Phenom ("phenom" rarely without modifiers like "tennis"), starts off with a baseball analogy, and they brand Obama the "can't-miss kid." Archpundit says "he hit it out of the ballpark."
I don't want to make too much of this: it was an exciting moment, and we want to convey that excitement and the relationship between expectations and performance under pressure which is such a core piece of major league sports. But it's just a wee bit depressing to hear this metaphor applied to a multiracial man, whom most would identify on first sight as black, who's just had a major achievement in a field which has chronically restricted access to and representation of people of color. As in, we can only make sense of this if we frame it in terms of a context where, fairly or unfairly, the general public have seen blacks as having the most success.
I want to be clear, I don't think any condescension was intended in any of these pieces, and clearly it's not anywhere close to racism. But perhaps because this is such a sensitive point, writers could go out of their way to avoid using the sports metaphor in this sort of case, even if they have or will use it with white politicians.
I don't claim to be someone who can sniff out political talent, but after hearing him for the first time during the primary it was obvious that this guy was an unique talent. He just has that charisma factor that can't be taught and he combines that with an obviously acute intellect. Putting him on a national stage like last evening just allowed everyone to experience that; and the more exposure he gets the better he will do.
Whether you agree with his politics or not almost fades in the background, because he's able to pitch his ideas on such reasonable and non-partisan grounds. It was absolutely Clintonian the way he cast his anti-war stance to the right of the Republicans and how he wove the need for social programs into the more basic principle of American individualism. All this from a guy coming from the far left of the party, and it comes off ten times more convincing then anything Lieberman or Kerry have ever uttered. Word is that Obama wrote the whole thing himself, pretty amazing. And that was his first time with a teleprompter, geez he should give Hillary some lessons.
Of course all the talk about him being president is pretty stupid. He's got plenty of time to screw things up for himself. But he obviously possesses all the tools to get there.
The press is overwhelming on this. Here's just a few:
Saletan in Slate
Obama finding himself flush with media attention
Obama Draws Roars of Approval at DNC
'Obama embodies the hopes of the people'
A star is born
DNC to Obama – XYZ PDQ --Kinda funny.....
Networks Missed a Historic Speech
Whoa—sincerity! Vision! The Democrats' subaltern speaks.Obama!
Barack Obama's Moment-- audio
SIMONS SAYS OBAMA'S SPEECH SHOWS HIS POTENTIAL
Is 'oomph' an oops for Obama?
Benefits of Non-Coverage
The Church of Obama
Obama's speech called most memorable convention speech in 25 years
Unite and Conquer
'Skinny kid with funny name' impresses Democrats
Barack Obama: More Than a Rising Star
Democrats look to rising young stars
Beyond the glare of the spotlight, Obama facts tell different story
OBAMA: TIME FOR OPPORTUNITY
Senior senator in the shadows?
Some nauseating speeches — plus ice cream
Black leadership in flux as new stars take stage
Multipurpose star born for Democrats' effort
Obama finding himself flush with media attention
Flash: Obama for president
July 27, 2004
No surprise to us Illinoisans, but he really is the real thing.
Obama's a star who doesn't stick to the script
Obama's prime time awaits
DA CANDIDATE ON DA COACH
A few impertinent questions for Barack Obama
Obama says war to decide election
Rising Star Obama Addressing Democrats
Former Obama adversaries look on without regret
His Secret Shame!
IL's political rock star Barack Obama center stage in Boston
More as it comes........
Sullivan may be right that that might have been one of the best speeches of Clinton's career. The informal (but of course scripted) asides, the mix of humor and earnestness, the pacing........the guy is just an incredibly gifted speaker. I honestly was floored; I forgot how good he is.
Hopefully he hasn't set the rhetorical bar too high for Kerry though. No Dem can compete with Clinton, but Kerry is a particular bore. I agree with Paul that last night was exceptionally done, and I imagine tonight will continue with that, but all this setup will be for not if Kerry can't drive the runs home with a charismatic and potent speech.
Anyone hear anything about Obama lately? I think the press might be trying to blackball him.
Heck, you don't need to believe me: take it from … Andrew Sullivan?
July 25, 2004
This seems to me a strange choice. First, it blunts and homogenizes your best and brightest -- like Obama and Michigan Governor Jen Granholm, who also popped up on Face the Nation. Obama is by no means a fire-breathing partisan, and nor has he made Bush or the war central to his campaign, but Iraq is a huge and indictable issue for the President, and Obama has taken him to task for it on the campaign trail. Instead, you have the droning repetition of the talking points -- values, strength, safety, etc. -- that gives the inherent charisma of Obama and Granholm no where to go. Second, it gives your base no red meat. Dean proved that anger with Bush was not just an irrational or self-hating position amongst average Democrats, it was demonstrative of serious grievances that prospective candidates needed to acknowledge or risk irrelevance. The DNC should use the convention to fire up the core partisans, much like the Edwards selection did. There will still be plenty of time to strike up the moderate and compromising language that's required of a national general election in the early fall. Since the convention means nothing in terms of actually choosing a nominee, take it as your last opportunity until November to let Democrats be Democrats. Republicans are supposed to be the ones who have to hide their true voices from the mainstream (cf. Santorum, Delay not speaking at their convention).
I can practically hear the internal rationalizations of the Shrums, Cahills, and McAuliffes: we can't leave ourselves exposed to Republican attacks during the convention by taking any chances with our rhetoric; we must present only a positive, upbeat message or we'll risk being labeled as relentlessly angry and pessimistic by the other side; the race is so close and we've taken only careful, measured steps up till now, so we mustn't give the media or the RNC attack machine any off-message stories; etc. The problem with this is that no matter what Democrats do, the GOP is going to try to define them and Kerry the way they want, and they have been doing that for months now. Democrats might as well give the narrow slice of undecided voters a proud and honest glimpse of the party.
I was really looking forward to Barack's keynote, but now I fear it will be just his mouth moving someone else's focus-grouped, safe words.
July 24, 2004
- (CBS) Face the Nation: 9:30am
- (NBC) Meet the Press: 10:00am
- (CNN) Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: 11:00am
July 22, 2004
"But it would be too bad if Mr. Obama cakewalked into Washington. Not just for Mr. Obama, who would take office with an asterisk ("*ran against incompetents"). Illinois voters deserve to see a capable opponent force him to answer tough questions and defend his positions. In other words, they deserve a nonludicrous race."
Yes, it's too bad that Obama will probably get a free pass into the Senate, but there are worse scenarios for a politician. He'll get six years to prove himself in the senate and will no doubt face a strong opponent in 2010, so he'll eventually have to face a few hurdles before his political career gets too advanced. I understand the Times' lament, but I think in general this is a good thing for the Dem Party nationally. If Obama doesn't need help, that aid can be spread to more critical races.
July 20, 2004
Update: They're dropping like flies. [hat tip to the Mayor]
"While I haven't made my final decision, this will tell you where I'm leaning," Dillard said today. "I took my three year old daughter to Steak and Shake for dinner last night, and she asked me to take her hand because there were cars in the parking lot. Right then, I decided that I didn't want to miss our girls' formative years."Don't worry Kirk, it'll only be for a few months!
July 16, 2004
July 15, 2004
A run by Ditka would have been fun but brutal
Game over: Ditka won't run
We had fun, until Da Coach took himself out of the game
Ditka punts on possible GOP run for U.S. Senate
Parting thoughts from Fitzgerald
Inquiry accused Senate prospect of 'lewd' behavior
July 14, 2004
What, we're back to actual politicians? BOOORRRINGGG!
We've got to have a few celebrities left in Illinois that we could float out there. Dennis DeYoung! Mr. T! Walter "Skippy" Jacobson! Is Oprah busy? Doesn't that guy who won the Apprentice live in Illinois now? Let's think out of the box, people!
Or maybe they could cut them all up into parts and reanimate them into one super candidate.
Saw Ryan on NBC5 at 10 tonight as well. I know everyone, including me, has been eyeing a Ryan return after all this chaos, but from what Ryan said in that interview about the Illinois GOP leadership that really doesn't seem all that likely after all. Basically he went out of his way to praise the Illinois foot soldiers and national party officials and explicitly skipped over the state leadership. That coupled with the harsh words Topinka has had to say about Ryan tells me that something more than a little spat is afoot. Unless some egos get tossed aside I'd say Ryan ain't coming back. Talk about holding grudges while your party sinks into oblivion. Not my problem. Fun to watch though.
Obama's gets more free advertising.
And Ditka is at this point out of contention. There was buzz that if he did run it could put Illinois back in play for Bush.
Ditka might blitz Senate
Ditka Candidacy Could Be Close To Goal Line
Ditka for Da Senate
Kindred: Hoping to see 'Da Coach' as 'Da Candidate'
Ditka huddles with Illinois GOP
The GOP's Hail Mary play?
Groan! All this 'fun' is going to get tiresome very quickly.
Reader Pete Anderson suggests:
DITKA ERECTS SENATE BID
He's right that none of the new outlets have the balls to run it. Sorry. Well keep the headine suggestions coming. Sorry again. I feel like Wonkette with the dick jokes.
What seems like a better option for the GOP right now is to stage a Ryan return--Ryan emerges from the ashes of his own demise--which after the Ditka circus would seem like a reasonable and refreshing option for a lot of GOP voters. From his tv appearances Ryan's already harvested some sympathy from his situation, so maybe compared to the prospect of drafting a football coach his stock will further increase. Of course, he would still have to gain forgiveness from GOP leaders for all this to be an option, something that seems less and less likely.
In the meantime, Obama is waiting in the weeds hoping that all this attention of the GOP doesn't take too much momentum from his campaign.
Of course no matter who emerges as the GOP candidate faces a real up hill battle against Obama. Four months is a lifetime in politics and even Ditka's schtick would wear thin after a while. I predict that by late September, or whenever the first debate will be, if Ditka's the guy people will tire of his bafoonery and realize that while he was a great coach a good senator he would not make. Some GOPers agree that his candidacy would mostly be about trying to charm his way into office:
"I don't know if Ditka would play [for voters] over the long term," said one prominent Republican.
"But in a condensed process, if you don't put him on until August, all of his crazy Ditka-isms could work."
I think late late August is a better option, or maybe late October. In any case, all this is just so sad. More or less every GOP official I've heard commenting on the possible Ditka run has said something like, "At first I thought it was a joke, but then I thought what else do we have to lose." Such desperation can't instill much confidence for those down the ticket that's for sure.
All partisanship aside though, if I were a friend of Ditka's I'd advise him to keep his money, dignity and endorsements and respectfully decline to run. If it were any other year, he may have a chance but facing off against a rather strong opponent like Obama will be very tough thing to overcome. I have a feeling that what may be really motivating Ditka is that like many former athletes he just misses being in the spotlight. Here's what Ditka has to say about charges that he has no political experience:
Indeed, in an interview on WGN-TV, Ditka said that despite never seeking public office, he could "be a better senator then Ted Kennedy," the veteran Democrat from Massachusetts. "I didn't have any experience of head coaching when I took over the Bears, either, so that's bull," he said.
Yes, but you did play football and presumably were gaining coaching experience while observing coaches for all those years playing ball. Having fuzzy ideological positions doesn't count for political experience and the press will hammer you about this. Stick to your analyst jobs and e.d. commercials. Not all spotlights are worth being in.
July 13, 2004
USA Today is always good for nice chart or graph. This interactive map of where the two campaigns are spending their dough is pretty useful. [via Hit & Run]
Salon's top piece today is on the new documentary Outfoxed, about the balance of everyone's favorite news channel.
The Times flatters and spatters Daley on the occasion on the opening of Millenium Park.
"Well my platform would be what the people want. I hate to say that, that sounds so generic, but what do people want? You talk about banning smoking. Okay, why don't we ban abortion? Let's talk about things that are really important. You know you talk about, well, you think one thing can harm your health, the other one takes a life.
Come on here, you know you're talking to a guy that is ultra-ultra-ultra conservative. So you know people who don't like that, you won't like me one bit. But I think I'm about what the majority of this people in the country are.
I believe this country was founded under God. I think people who say it wasn't are crazy. But that's their biz; you know, that's me.
What you see is what you're gonna get. You're not going to like all of it. But you're gonna like some of it, and maybe you'll like enough of it to say okay this guy is all right."
Am I alone in thinking that this garbled mess of rhetoric is beneath the average Illinois resident's intelligence? What the hell is he talking about? People may respect this guy for his astute football knowledge and his rough but charming demeanor, but, and maybe I'm way off here, I really do have faith that the average Illinois citizen knows the difference between charm and the skills needed to be a U.S. Senator. Unvarnished straighttalk is one thing, incoherent rambling is another.
In any case, if the Democratic contender were some lifeless, Kerry-like, blowhard, I can see how people might turn to someone like Ditka, but Obama is actually a very plain-spoken yet obviously qualified and intelligent candidate.
I agree with Dan Johnson-Weinberger that this is a pretty nifty move for the GOP, but however much this alleviates their immediate ills it's going to set them back in the longrun by making them a national joke. But what do I care, as Mr. Ditka says, "that's their biz."
July 09, 2004
Livingston did an interview with the New York Times the following day and referred to me as a "bottom feeder." The Times called me for a comment. I said, "Yeah, that's right. I'm a bottom feeder. But look what I found when I got down there."
The Washington Monthly gets hip and reports on the unbelievably bizarre and brilliant Adult Swim, the late night programming on the Cartoon Network. The Wash Monthly site isn't working today so read the article here.
The NYT had a good piece on Family Guy yesterday.
What's not mentioned is that Obama had not yet begun his incredibly successful ad assault (whether you liked him or not, it's hard to argue that his ads weren't masterfully done) when Hull had that big lead. Obama's strategy was to finish up strong and even though Hull would have been a formidable rival if the divorce issue hadn't surfaced, I think it's fair to say that Obama would have been a good bet on winning the nomination without Hull's stumble.
Remember Obama won by an absolute landslide in March, and while certainly a lot of that support came from the Hull fallout, his win can't be simply attributed to Hull's implosion. Obama had built up a lot of momentum on his own through his strong stump speech and the word of mouth buzz that surrounded him. The ads run just weeks before the election simply harvested that latent support. Hull had a big lead because he saturated the airwaves for months before the primary and gained great name recognition. But once people started really paying attention to the race in the weeks leading up to the primary, it became clear that Obama was the candidate to choose. He certainly wouldn't have won so commandingly had Hull not lost his footing, but it's hard to imagine him not being the nominee even if Hull had run unscathed.
update: This is what Rauschenberger said after announcing that he is withdrawing his name as a potential nominee:
it's still a winnable race," but it would require a politician or celebrity known throughout the state or someone with access to personal wealth or an existing federal campaign fund.
What I think this indicates is that whoever the choice is will get little financial and organizational support from the Party. Why else would such a desperate measure as picking a football coach with absolutely no political experience be even a serious topic of conversation?
If Illinois Republicans really want Ditka's help, they should ask him what a good coach would do in their present situation. And that's punt. Put up a young rising star for the seat and get him or her some name recognition for the future. I still want to see Ditka debate though, so don't listen to me.
July 07, 2004
July 02, 2004
To get an invitation, post a comment below, but (and here's the catch) write a few words about why you read Polis. Really. We have no idea. It's a mystery to us, even.
This also signals rather light posting for a few days as Scott and I regroup and think about which Congressman or other candidate for office to embarrass next. Kidding! They bring it on themselves, am I right, people?
UPDATE: Whoops, I forgot to mention that we need your current email address in order to invite you to Gmail. So send us a note with your address to firstname.lastname@example.org.