Obama and Biden lose the script
Barack Obama and Joseph Biden both fluffed their lines today as the new White House running mates ceded an opening to their Republican enemies by veering off-script. Perhaps it was the temperature nudging 100 F (37.8 C) that forced Senator Obama into a slip of the tongue as he introduced Senator Biden as "the next president'' before correcting it to vice president. But the campaign of Republican rival John McCain was in no mood to be charitable, calling it a "Freudian slip'' that, it said, betrayed the 47-year-old Senator Obama's unreadiness to serve as commander-in-chief.
If the silver-tongued Senator Obama does not often slip up, Senator Biden comes with a treasure trove of gaffes that is already feeding the Republican attack machine. The Delaware senator, 65, was in full cry against Senator McCain when he botched his new boss's name, saying "Barack America'' today. That triggered corrective chants of "Obama'' from the crowd in Springfield, Illinois and a rueful smile from the VP hopeful.
(Was this whom Biden had in mind? Via Ace)
Despite the heat, the audience was pumped up for the rollout of Senator Obama's most important decision yet in an epic White House contest. Senator Biden bounced onto the stage, jacketless with shirt-sleeves rolled up for action.
Just hours earlier, the Obama campaign had played possum with media organisations desperate to confirm the new VP pick's identity. The campaign had promised to divulge the name in an electronic blizzard of text messages and emails to signed-up supporters. But Senator Biden's selection eventually leaked across the TV networks, just 24 hours after Senator Obama first asked his veteran Senate colleague to come on board. The hotly anticipated text message finally set cellphones buzzing at 2am Chicago time, rousing reporters from their beds for a frenzy of late-night writing.
Two spokeswomen accompanying Senator Obama on his plane confessed to being kept in the dark themselves, reinforcing signs that the announcement was kept under wraps by a very tight circle at the campaign's top level. "It isn't like there was a staff meeting to say 'this is the person'. We were all signed up for the text messages, like you,'' one of the aides said.
"Obama-Biden'' banners made their debut in Springfield as the 35,000-strong crowd gave a rapturous welcome to the two Democrats standing on the same steps where senator Obama launched his White House quest back in February 2007. The two candidates, who flew separately into Springfield for their only joint rally before next week's Democratic convention in Denver, posed together with their wives as the U2 anthem Beautiful Day rang out ["Star spangled banner" too boring, I guess], just as it did on that far colder day last year.
The Case Against Joe Biden
Yesterday we argued for why Barack Obama should pick Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate. Today we tackle the opposite argument.
Over the course of his presidential bid, Biden cemented his reputation as -- how to put this nicely? -- less than disciplined on the campaign trail. While Biden was on his best verbal behavior for much of the rest of the campaign, there is no question that his tendency to shoot from the lip worries some in Obama world. As one Democratic consultant put it: "You know there will be three days in the campaign where someone in Chicago will get a call and respond -- 'What did you say he said?.'"
For a campaign that prides itself on its message discipline, choosing Biden would be introducing a wildcard into the mix. The Obama campaign exudes quiet confidence that if they do the basic political work between now and Nov. 4 the Illinois senator will be president. Do they really want to risk it with Biden?
Way back in 1987, Biden was riding high in the presidential race -- widely regarded as a serious contenders for the Democratic party's nod. Then Neil Kinnock happened. Biden borrowed passages of a speech given by Kinnock, a leader in Britain's Labour Party, without attribution -- a mistake that led to a detailed examination of Biden's public statements that turned up several more examples of potential plagiarism and resume inflation. The feeding frenzy eventually chased the Delaware senator from the race.
The incident has become the stuff of political lore -- type "Joe Biden and Neil Kinnock" into Google and more than 37,000 hits are returned -- even though those close to Biden insist that the actual facts surrounding the incidents are largely overblown. Maybe. But, while any political junkie worth his (or her) name knows all about the Kinnock incident, it's a mistake to assume the average voter knows about it. In the words of one Republican strategist: "Old news inside the Beltway, new news outside."
That reality means that in every story about Biden done in the aftermath of his selection, Kinnock's name and the allegations of plagiarism would come up. It would complicate the desired flawless roll-out of the new ticket and could even raise questions about Obama's commitment to a new kind of politics. The central tenet of Obama's campaign message is that if Americans want to change their government, then they have to change the people they send to Washington. Picking Biden, who has served in the Senate for the better part of the last four decades, seems to run counter to that core message. Biden was elected to the Senate at age 29 and spent only four years after graduating from Syracuse Law School in 1968 working in the private sector before entering public life.
Biden has long been a regular on the Sunday talk show circuit and is one of the pillars of the Democratic party establishment. His accomplishments -- of which there are many -- all were achieved as a senator operating inside the deepest heart of political Washington.
Biden allies note that despite his long service in Washington he is, at his core, an outsider inside the Beltway. While that may well be true, the optics for Obama aren't great; he can't change the fact that in picking Biden he would be going with someone who has spent nearly his entire adult life not only in politics but as a member of the world's greatest deliberative body.
One of the most overlooked episodes during the 1987 collapse of Biden's campaign was a snippet of footage captured by C-Span in which the Delaware senator, in response to a question about where he went to law school and what sort of grades he received, delivered this classic line: "I think I have a much higher IQ than you do." While any human being -- especially a candidate for president who is constantly being poked and prodded -- can be forgiven a momentary flash of temper, Biden's detractors point to that incident as evidence that the senator thinks he is the bee's knees and doesn't care who knows it.
Biden, by his own admission, has the capacity to fall in love with his own voice and wander off on tangents about his life that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. During the 2006 confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, the Post's Dana Milbank wrote this of Biden's performance: "Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., in his first 12 minutes of questioning the nominee, managed to get off only one question. Instead, during his 30-minute round of questioning, Biden spoke about his own Irish American roots, his "Grandfather Finnegan," his son's application to Princeton (he attended the University of Pennsylvania instead, Biden said), a speech the senator gave on the Princeton campus, the fact that Biden is "not a Princeton fan," and his views on the eyeglasses of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)." Ouch.
There is evidence from the Democratic primaries that Biden is not only aware of his tendency to go on (and on) about himself but is also able to curb that natural tendency, however. In one of the best moments in an unending series of Democratic debates, Biden was asked by moderator Brian Williams whether he possessed the "discipline" to be the leader of the free world. Biden's simple response -- "yes" -- brought the house down and put the Delaware senator in The Fix's "winners" column for the night.
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McCain Campaign Takes Aim at Obama-Biden
Sen. John McCain immediately began using Joe Biden's own words against him early Saturday morning, drawing on the Democratic vice presidential nominee's criticism of Sen. Barack Obama during the Democratic primary. "There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama's lack of experience than Joe Biden," said McCain spokesman Ben Porritt. "Biden has denounced Barack Obama's poor foreign policy judgment and has strongly argued in his own words what Americans are quickly realizing -- that Barack Obama is not ready to be President."
Running against Obama for the presidency, Biden said nominating someone without national security credentials would be a "tragic mistake" and said that the presidency "is not something that lends itself to on-the-job-training."
The first volley from McCain's staff arrived at 1:50 a.m. ET, reflecting the new pace of presidential politics in the Internet era. And it foreshadowed what is certain to be a principal line of attack
Obama's selection of Biden, which began leaking out Friday evening, set in motion a new Republican effort aimed at undermining the Democratic ticket even as the pair prepare to make their first public appearance as running mates in Springfield, Ill.
McCain aides are also likely to go after Biden by arguing that he does not represent the fundamental change that Obama has been promising since beginning his presidential run.
Biden, a 36-year veteran of the U.S. Senate, is a creature of Capitol Hill, someone who is steeped in the nuances of the legislature and is part of an institution that regularly gets terrible approval ratings by Americans. Obama has been running against Washington, saying that the people there like McCain are the problem that needs to be fixed. McCain can argue that by choosing Biden, Obama abandons that case.
But McCain has to be careful. He has served in the Senate alongside Biden for more than two decades, a fact that Democrats are certain to point out. And Biden's long experience with foreign policy issues is sure to blunt some of McCain's criticisms of Obama.
Biden and McCain are friends, part of the elite Senate club, and are likely to offer praise for each other even as the general election campaign gets underway after the conventions. But that will not prevent McCain from aiming his fire at his colleague, starting with Biden's comments during the primary. During one of the Democratic debates, Biden stood by comments about Obama that "I think he can be ready, but right now I don't believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training." In August, Biden was harshly critical of Obama's lack of experience, saying, "Having talking points on foreign policy doesn't get you there."
Don't Show Me the Money
As November creeps closer and closer and voters' anxiety rises higher by the day, it seems the candidates are now stooping to any level to undercut their opponent. And sometimes when you stoop low you fall in the mud. Barack Obama is practically rolling in it.
Facing waning poll numbers in the wake of a debilitating performance at the Saddleback Civil Forum last weekend, presumed Democratic nominee Barack Obama has now resorted to attacking the wealth of his rival. That's right. The wealth.
In what was clearly an unfortunate and embarrassing gaffe, John McCain, when asked in a recent interview with Politico.com how many houses he owned, answered the following: "I think - I'll have my staff get to you. It's condominiums where - I'll have them get to you."
In typical fashion, the Obama campaign seized on this right away, producing a scathing new video advertisement. Answering the question for him, the ad ominously proclaims-tragic background music and all- that Senator McCain owns seven houses worth a total of thirteen million dollars.
Barack Obama, who has already expressed his disdain for lavish, comfortable lifestyles-see "We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times"-wants Americans to look down on John McCain's wealth. The entire point behind the ad, besides pointing out McCain's embarrassing verbal slip up, is to depict his luxurious lifestyle as an abomination.
Wow-spurning great wealth? It seems that once again Mr. Obama has practically plagiarized entire paragraphs from the communist manifesto. Can you imagine presidents Reagan, Kennedy, or Eisenhower using wealth as a negative in a campaign ad? Can you picture them encouraging voters to look down on financial success?
We didn't think so. America has a tradition of encouraging its citizens to make money, achieve success, and live a comfortable live. That is what capitalism is all about, and that is what has made America such a viable and enduring nation throughout its lifetime.
Mr. Obama, however, is playing a game of class-warfare and tapping into the same socialist fears that have triggered so many "people's" revolutions throughout history. Hate McCain because he is wealthy, Obama declares. Hate him because he and his wife have done well for themselves. Hate the rich. What's worse is that Obama-despite all his criticism and rage over McCain being rich-is in the very same boat. As McCain spokesman Brian Rogers recently remarked:
"Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses? Does a guy who worries about the price of arugula and thinks regular people 'cling' to guns and religion in the face of economic hardship really want to have a debate about who's in touch with regular Americans?"
On top of that, Bloomberg.com recently reported that Mr. Obama spent more money on campaign advertisements in July than Mr. McCain spent on the entire campaign. Mr. Obama reportedly spent $33 million on advertisements in July whereas Mr. McCain spent $32.4 million on his entire campaign in July.
The fact of the matter is that neither John McCain nor Barack Obama ought to feel guilty about living a wealthy lifestyle. In fact, the candidates ought to be encouraging Americans to strive for a comfortable, fiscally responsible lifestyle as well. All American's need to feel that achieving financial security is a good thing, not something to look down on. Obama's personal hypocrisy is one thing. His unabashedly communist spurning of the wealthy is an entirely different matter.
Will the "undecideds" ditch Obama?
The great swath of undecided voters who typically decide elections might not be so undecided after all. A new study suggests that individuals have unconscious preferences that can more accurately predict the final vote than standard measures. A test to measure unconscious associations may give pollsters a heads-up on election outcomes.
"Typically, it's the undecided voter that gives politicians a hard time. It's the undecided voters that you need to get," said senior study author Bertram Gawronski, Canada Research Chair on Social Psychology at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. "This study shows that by using these measures, there is some potential for improving the prediction of election outcomes." The paper was published in the Aug. 22 issue of Science.
Conventional wisdom dictates that people make choices based on conscious, informed thought and careful weighing of information. Recent research suggests this might not be the case, and, in fact, there may be ways to measure these unconscious associations. "The inspiration for this study came from the development of a particular class of measures that enables us to assess these automatic mental associations," Gawronski explained. "Over the past couple of years, a lot of research has shown that these measures are able to predict behaviors that psychologists have had a hard time predicting with standard methodology or self-report."
The authors of the study, based both at the University of Western Ontario in Canada and at the University of Padova in Italy, quizzed 129 residents of Vicenza, Italy, about their attitudes regarding the planned enlargement of a U.S. military base in that city. The questions were designed to assess both conscious beliefs as well as unconscious associations via the "implicit association test." In the latter case, for example, citizens were asked to categorize pictures of the U.S. military base and positive and negative words as quickly as possible.
The exercises were repeated one week apart. Participants who initially claimed they were undecided ended up making decisions based on their unconscious associations. But for those who started out with definite opinions, their automatic associations became more consistent over time. This suggests that conscious beliefs might actually be working on unconscious associations.
The research may also have specific implications for the looming U.S. presidential elections. "This type of measure in the domain of prejudice and stereotyping has found that, in North America, there is a large proportion of individuals with relatively negative views of African-Americans. Even people who hold very strong egalitarian opinions or beliefs sometimes show negative associations," Gawronski said. "This can influence their voting behavior, particularly for undecided voters, in a way that they may not be aware of."
Gawronski pointed to case of black candidate Tom Bradley, who unsuccessfully ran for governor of California in both 1982 and 1986. Bradley lost by a slim margin, even though earlier polls had given him a clear advantage, giving rise to the term the "Bradley Effect."
"We know that there is still a strong prevalence of automatic negative associations regarding African-Americans, and this may have distorted people's perception of the political process, public debates, etc.," Gawronski said. "They've made up their mind who they're going to vote for, even though they're undecided when the polls are taken. This could happen again in the U.S. . . . It may be the case that the big advance that Obama has at this point may completely shift in the election."
Democratic Platform's Hidden Soros Slush Fund
by Michelle Malkin
The Democratic Party platform is like a bag of pork rinds. You never know what high-fat liberal government morsel you're gonna get.
Buried in the 94-page document is a noble-sounding proposal to create a "Social Investment Fund Network." The program would provide federal money to "social entrepreneurs and leading nonprofit organizations [that] are assisting schools, lifting families out of poverty, filling health care gaps, and inspiring others to lead change in their own communities." The Democratic Party promises to "support these results-oriented innovators" by creating an office to "coordinate government and nonprofit efforts" and then showering "a series of grants" on the chosen groups "to replicate these programs nationwide."
In practice, this Barack Obama brainchild would serve as a permanent, taxpayer-backed pipeline to Democratic partisan outfits masquerading as public-interest do-gooders. This George Soros Slush Fund would be political payback in spades. Obama owes much of his Chicago political success to financial support from radical, left-wing billionaire and leading "social entrepreneur" Soros. In June 2004, Soros threw a big fundraiser at his New York home for Obama's Illinois Senate campaign. Soros and family personally chipped in $60,000. In April 2007, Obama was back in New York for a deep-pocketed Manhattan fundraising soiree, with Soros lurking in his shadow.
No doubt with Soros' approbation (if not advice from the hands-on "progressive" activist or his advisers), Obama fleshed out his Social Investment Fund Network plan last December. In concert with his mandatory volunteerism pitch and $6 billion anti-poverty plan, Obama called for the creation of a "Social Entrepreneurship Agency" to dispense the funds in unspecified amounts. The agency would be a government-supported nonprofit corporation "similar to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting," which runs public television. (And we've all seen how fair and balanced that lib-dominated, Bill Moyers-boosting private-public enterprise turned out.) Obama cites the Harlem Children's Zone, which provides after-school activities and mentors to children in New York, as an example of a program that should be funded. (HCZ's former senior leader Shawn Dove is now an official at Soros' Open Society Institute.)
The problem with such initiatives, as Mitchell Moss pointed out in the Manhattan Institute's City Journal several years ago, is that these private-public partnerships formed under the guise of economic renewal often become nothing more than fronts that coordinate "an enormous safety net for social services." Private donations give the illusion of self-help and philanthropic independence, but in reality, the "clients" are never weaned from the teat of the welfare state. They simply learn how to milk it more efficiently.
Even more troubling is how the Democratic Party/Obama plan would siphon untold millions or billions of public tax dollars into the Soros empire without taxpayer recourse. Obama promises "accountability" measures to ensure the money is spent wisely. But who would assess effectiveness of the spending? Why, experts in the social entrepreneurship community, of course. Fox, meet henhouse.
Soros has donated some $5 billion of his fortune to left-wing nonprofit groups through the Open Society Institute -- an institution committed to Soros' militant ideology of toppling the "fascist" tyranny of the United States, which he says must undergo "de-Nazification" in favor of "justice." The mob at Obama-endorsing MoveOn, purveyors of the "General Betray Us" smear against Commanding General, MNF-I, David Petraeus, is the most notorious Soros-backed political arm. But scores of other activist nonprofits have received Soros funding under the guise of doing nonpartisan "community" or "social justice" work -- and it is exactly such leftist activist groups that would be first in line for the Democratic Party/Obama's "social investment" seed money.
Point in case: ACORN. As I've reported before, Obama's old friends at the Chicago-based nonprofit now take in 40 percent of their revenues from American taxpayers. They raked in tens of millions in federal antipoverty grants while some of their operatives presided over massive voter fraud and others were implicated in corporate shakedowns and mortgage scams across the country. Soros has donated at least $150,000 to the group, according to Investor's Business Daily, and "heads a secretive rich-man's club called 'Democracy Alliance' that has doled out $20 million to activist groups like ACORN."
Once the spigot is turned on, there's no turning back. Where are fiscal conservatives on this far-left boondoggle? Well, if you're wondering why the McCain campaign doesn't raise hell over this proposed left-wing nonprofit/government pipeline, it's because McCain himself is a Soros beneficiary. His "Reform Institute," a tax-exempt, supposedly independent 501(c)(3) group focused on campaign finance reform, was funded by the Soros-funded Open Society Institute and Tides Foundation. Birds of a Big Government feather flock together -- and look out for each other. Watch your wallet.
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