Category Archives: Joe Biden

The last group picture

Last shot

Phillip and Kathryn have already remarked upon a version of this photo, on Facebook. Said Phillip:

Brad looking extra cool and laid-back there off to the side, showing the youngsters how it’s done.

This was on Saturday. It was the last time campaign staff were together in headquarters. We had cleaned the place out. Or rather, everybody else had cleaned the place out and I had helpfully watched them do it.

I was more helpful on Thursday, when we had dismantled and removed most of the furniture. I went through every sheet of paper in the random heap on my desk — actually, a bare-bones table from Ikea — and then dismantled the table, and left the pieces on the front porch where presumably someone was to pick them up. And did some other stuff, but mainly dealt with my own particularly chaotic space.

But when I got there Saturday, I was late, and everyone else seemed to have a task, and before I could get my bearings we were done, and posing for pictures. (The group you see above is more or less the core staff, with a volunteer or two. Some people who played a major role are missing, such as Phil Chambers.)

It wasn’t a total waste, though. Managing to look cool in the picture is in itself an accomplishment, right?

I’ll have more to say about the last few months, about what preceded the cleaning-out. But I’ll probably unpack it randomly, as a picture or a word or something in the news reminds me. My mind is still decompressing at the moment. All those months of intensity at an increasingly faster pace, culminating with those eight days and nights on the RV — it’s going to take time to process.

In the meantime, there’s the last picture. There will be more. I shot thousands… Below is one (that I did not shoot; this was done by a professional) showing some of the same people the day Joe Biden came to Charleston.

Between those two was the most intense part of the experience. The Biden thing seems in a way like yesterday, and in a way like 10 years ago…

Biden group shot

 

Joe Biden on James Smith

Biden at the Galivants Ferry Stump Meeting in 2006.

Biden at the Galivants Ferry Stump Meeting in 2006.

Seeing that Jim Hodges had become the latest Democratic heavyweight to endorse James Smith for governor reminded me that I meant to go back and read the P&C’s story in which Joe Biden explained why he’s backing Smith.

It’s not just because James led the unsuccessful Draft Biden effort in SC before last year’s election.

Here’s hoping the Charleston paper doesn’t mind if I share a good-sized chunk:

Why Biden is backing Smith: “I have met a lot of guys in my career … but this is a guy, I swear to God, that I would trust with anything. This is a guy who I watched, he never puts himself before anybody else.”

“He’s not about tearing the house down. … I look at him and I think this is a guy with the energy, the integrity, the experience that can really have South Carolina get up and start to walk.”

How Smith reminds Biden of his son: He said Smith possesses the sense of duty of his late son, Beau, who passed on taking his father’s Senate seat when Biden become vice president to remain Delaware’s attorney general. Both younger men went on military deployments to the Middle East while in political office.

“They’re kindred spirits. … I know it sounds corny but it comes down to honor, duty and again the guy (Smith) has all tools. He knows the issues. His instincts are right. He thinks you should be able to make a billion dollars if you could, but you ought to take care of people and just give everybody a chance.

“I remember saying to him once that I thought that one of the problems with the elites in both our parties, we don’t have a lot of faith in ordinary people any more. And James started talking about his grandfather and great-grandfather (working class men from poor backgrounds). Ordinary people can do extraordinary things if you give them half a chance. I’m convinced he believes that.”…

Sounds like he knows James. There’s a bunch more, just overflowing with Joe-ness, if you want to go read the whole piece.

I’m still waiting to hear who’s backing Phil Noble. He must be responding to something going on in the party; I’m just not sure what. I didn’t know there was a sizable contingent of Democrats who didn’t like James. I need to learn more…

Looking ahead, without joy, to a Joe-less election

Our Joe huddled with the president, just before the fateful announcement.

Our Joe huddled with the president, just before the fateful announcement.

Mercifully, I was out on a golf course and oblivious when the terrible news came: My man Joe Biden would not seek the Democratic nomination for president.

This means several things, all bad:

  • Without that to talk about, we’ll likely go back to all-Trump, all the time. And I, for one, am not up for that.
  • If everybody starts to have heartburn about Hillary’s trustworthiness problem again — and remember, that’s the way things were very, very recently — we’ll have no viable options on the Democratic side. At least Joe’s Hamlet routine gave us hope.
  • Even though there’s a ridiculous number of people running for president this year, this leaves us without a single Joe of any sort. And an election without essential Joe-ness is an election hardly worth having.

You may think I’m being facetious on that last bullet point, but I’m not. Without Joe, there’s no viable candidate running on either side that I can truly, actively like. And we are poorer for it.

 

‘Joe, Run.’ Draft Biden super-PAC releases video

Hey, it gives me goose bumps. Here’s a story about the video. Excerpt:

It comes from the “Yale Day” speech Biden delivered the day before the Ivy League school’s commencement, as he knew his son’s fight with cancer was unlikely to succeed. Beau Biden died two weeks after that speech.

Possibly because of that timing, or something, it reminds me of that famous recording of Bobby Kennedy announcing the death of Martin Luther King, just a month before his own death…

Bloomberg Poll: 1 in 4 Democrats favor Biden

And the guy’s not even running — yet.

Here’s the news from Bloomberg:

One quarter of Americans who are registered Democrats or lean that way say Vice President Joe Biden is now their top choice for president. The findings of a national Bloomberg Politics poll released Wednesday represent a notable achievement for an as-yet undeclared candidate, suggest concerns about Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, and raise the prospect of a competitive three-way race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Clinton, once the prohibitive front-runner, is now the top choice of 33 percent of registered Democrats and those who lean Democrat, the poll shows. Biden places second with 25 percent and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is at 24 percent. The other three Democratic candidates combined are the top choice for less than 4 percent of that base….

Not only that, but almost half of respondents say they think the veep should get into it. Sounds like some of those still with Hillary want a backup plan…

Tenenbaum: Using private email account was clearly against federal rules

Another little contact report

Talking with Inez Tenenbaum this morning about her support of Joe Biden, I changed the subject to Hillary Clinton and asked, somewhat facetiously, whether Inez used two email accounts when she was in Washington as head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“No,” she said. “I was told emphatically… that all federal business had to be conducted on federal email addresses.”inez-tenenbaum

“We had lawyers that did nothing but ethics” at her agency, and they let her know “we could not use our own private email.”

And if by any chance she did use private email for public business, it would be treated as public — she was told such communications would all be subject to Freedom of Information requests.

When I asked why she thought Hillary Clinton doesn’t seem to have gotten the same message, she declined to go there.

I had called Inez because she has been named to co-chair (along with Sen. Gerald Malloy) the Draft Biden effort in South Carolina.

She had no news on that front. “I don’t know” whether he’s going to run or not. “It could go either way.”

But she’s ready to support him if he does. And in explaining why, she talks more about a personal connection than anything having to do with politics or policy. “He has been a friend of ours, and we have had a close relationship with him.”

While she cordially knows Hillary Clinton as well, she just has “a much closer relationship” with Biden. “And I just have so much respect for him” as someone who has “serve the country for 40 years.”

If you’ll recall, the last time around (in 2007) she came out early for Barack Obama, while her husband Samuel was backing Biden. Samuel is not in a position now to endorse candidates because of his job, but as an attorney in private practice, Inez has no such barriers to contend with.

I asked whether she’s gotten any pushback from the Clinton campaign. No, she said. “I got lots of calls from the Hillary people early on” seeking her support. But even though there was no serious anticipation at that point that Biden would get in, she said she felt an obligation to him to wait until he said definitively whether he was running or not.

As to whether he should, “One part of me wants him to get into it… one part of me understands” why he might decide not to go through that grinder.

I asked her to keep me in mind if she hears anything…

Yeah, but a ‘long conversation’ with Biden means nothing

Had to smile at this report on Salon, which cites the above Boston Globe video thusly:

Biden has reportedly said he will make a decision on a bid for the White House by summer’s end and when Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who recently met with Biden, was asked if their discussion included any talk of a potential Biden/Warren ticket, she only offered that “it was a long conversation.”

Well, that doesn’t tell us anything. I’ve had a few conversations with Joe Biden myself over the years, and the only one I can recall that was not “long” was a brief chat at the Galivants Ferry Stump Meeting in 2006.

Joe does go on…

OK, there’s ONE reason I might prefer Hillary to Joe Biden

vp_clinton_being_biden_2013

Generally, I’ve been happy, even a little excited, to hear that Joe Biden might challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Part of it is the unsavory side of the presumed front-runner that her email mess reveals, day after day. Actually, not so much “reveals” as “reminds us of.” We are reminded of the control freak, the Nixonian figure who can’t see legitimate criticism as anything other than another attempt by her enemies in the “vast right-wing conspiracy” to trump up a way to do her in.

Whereas I’ve always liked Joe. He was my fave on the Democratic side in the 2008 campaign until he dropped out. It’s hard not to like Biden; he’s just so chock-full of the best kind of Joe-ness. (What is Joe-ness? Oh, it’s many things. One example: Earlier this morning I was talking to Samuel Tenenbaum, and told him to say hi to Inez and tell her I want to talk with her about Biden. That caused Samuel to tell me about Biden calling him to wish him a happy birthday a couple of weeks back. They got to talking about books they had read recently. Samuel, who loves to share books with friends, mentioned he had wanted to send a book to the veep but couldn’t get past his staff. According to Samuel, Biden said, “My staff and the Secret Service can be a pain in the ass.” That’s one type of Joe-ness.)

However it turns out, I’ll be happy to see him get into it, if he does.

But… all of that said, I read a column this morning in The State that reminds me of at least one reason I might prefer Hillary as a commander-in-chief.

It was by Doyle McManus of the L.A. Times. In part, it said:

Biden and Clinton aren’t far apart when it comes to domestic issues, but that’s decidedly not true when it comes to international affairs.

Clinton was on the hawkish side of Obama’s team. She supported a big surge of U.S. troops into Afghanistan in 2009; Obama opted for a smaller surge, with a time limit. In 2011, she called for U.S. military intervention in Libya; Obama went along. In 2012, she urged him to send military aid to Syrian rebels; Obama resisted (after Clinton left office, he changed his mind).

Biden was on the opposite end of all three debates. He didn’t think adding U.S. military force in Afghanistan would solve the country’s problems. He didn’t think Libya was central enough to U.S. interests to justify airstrikes. And he was skeptical about the idea of arming Syrian rebels.

The two even disagreed over whether the president should launch the secret 2011 raid in Pakistan that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Clinton “concluded that this was a rare opportunity and believed we should seize it,” then-CIA Director Leon Panetta wrote in his memoir. “Biden argued that we still did not have enough confidence that Bin Laden was in the compound [where the CIA believed he was living], and he came out firmly in favor of waiting for more information.”

There’s a clear pattern here. Each time, Clinton argued in favor of U.S. intervention. Each time, Biden was a skeptic, warning Obama that the risks outweighed the potential gains….

This piece reminds me that one of the thing I’ve always liked about Hillary is that she is on “the hawkish side of Obama’s team.” It’s not that I’m such a hawk, as many of you believe. It’s just that I’m definitely, without question, to the hawkish side of the current POTUS. More than that, she understands America’s role in the world, that the United States is, as Madeleine Albright used to say, “the indispensable nation.”

And Joe even tried to put the brakes on the Abbottabad operation? OK, it wasn’t unreasonable to want to be more certain about Osama bin Laden being in that compound. Anyone would. Certainty is a nice thing to have. But as it turned out, Obama made the right call in going ahead, and it stands as one of the wisest decisions of his presidency.

So where do we stand here? Definitely, I prefer Joe on a personal level — he passes the “would you want to have a beer with him” test with flying colors. But there’s a lot to be said for Hillary’s approach to national and collective security — which is, you know, kinda important when picking a POTUS.

The bin Laden mission: Biden was the cautious one.

The bin Laden mission: Biden was the cautious one.

James Smith is among those waiting for Joe Biden to run

James Smith, shouting over the band in conversation with our own Lynn Teague at the second flag rally this summer.

James Smith, shouting over the band in conversation with our own Lynn Teague at the second flag rally this summer.

Bryan was dismissing the idea that a South Carolina Democrat endorsing Hillary Clinton was news, and I begged to differ — in South Carolina, there are a number of prominent Democrats waiting for Joe Biden to get into it.

After that exchange with Bryan, I picked up the phone to talk with one: Rep. James Smith.

James was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as someone urging the Veep to run just the other day, which was a change of pace, as it seems to me that the person most quoted on the subject by national media has been Dick Harpootlian. And of course, South Carolina was where Biden chose to get away from it all last week and ponder the matter. His ties to South Carolina, and not just to SC Democrats, are noteworthy.

As James told me, it’s not just about him and Dick. “We have a long list of Biden supporters… community faith leaders, business leaders and elected leaders.” And he said “We’re building an organization, on the chance” that he’ll jump into the race.

Why Biden? Smith starts with his broad experience, with issues both foreign and domestic. He said Biden is “the leader we need for these times,” someone “respected across the spectrum,” particularly in the Senate.

“The rest are just very polarizing figures, like something from a bad reality TV show.”

I could see why he’d say that about some of the GOP candidates, but Hillary Clinton, who will likely head up his party’s ticket next November? “She can be a very polarizing figure,” he insisted.

Smith said the time at Kiawah was “a very important week” for Biden, and he seemed hopeful.

But isn’t it too late for anyone to mount a serious challenge to Hillary’s inevitability? That’s what The Fix said yesterday, in a piece headlined, “It’s too late for Democrats to start rethinking Clinton’s 2016 viability.” Aren’t the important fund-raisers and others are taken now?

“I promise you that is not the case,” Rep. Smith said. He didn’t get into specifics, but implied that some fund-raisers have indicated their enthusiasm for a Biden candidacy.

So, there you have it — a South Carolina Democrat who is definitely not endorsing Hillary Clinton at this time. And he is not alone…

I knew Strom Thurmond. And Joe Biden is no Strom Thurmond (yet)

Washington is abuzz with how Joe Biden has apparently devolved from good ol’ Uncle Joe to the “Creepy Uncle.”

The latest cause of these musings — and perhaps the last straw, some are indicating — is the incident in which the veep was all over the wife of Ashton Carter while the new SecDef was being sworn in:

This has led the media, both new and old, to recall similar incidents. New York magazine has put together a slideshow. Enjoy.

The Washington Post has run a fun piece imagining an intervention in which everyone Joe knows — “Jill, Barack, Michelle, Sasha and Malia, John (Kerry), John (McCain) and several women he recognizes only from having told them, once, in passing ‘No dates ’til you’re 30!'” stage an intervention to put an end to his pawing and whispering. An excerpt:

“Do any of these women look comfortable?” Sasha asks. She produces the most recent picture.

Joe squints at the picture. “Looks pretty comfortable to me,” he says. “Jill, that’s a comfortable face, right? That face says ‘I’m comfortable around this suave man.’”

“No,” Jill says….

Then there’s the Top Ten list of what Biden may have whispered to Stephanie Carter, courtesy of David Letterman:

10. “Let me know when this gets weird.”
9. “What is that, Pert Plus?”
8. “You have the clavicle of a much younger woman.”
7. “Have you seen ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’?”
6. “Is that the necklace I gave you?”
5. “I haven’t heard a word your husband said.”
4. “You look like young Jeanne Kirkpatrick.”
3. “Ever heard of a second Second Lady?”
2. “I don’t have a time machine but I do have a hot tub.”
1. “In the words of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, ‘I’m not 100 percent sober.'”

Not everyone is taking it lightly, though. Here’s a more serious piece setting out why our gregarious vice president should “probably” cut it out.

Yet Joe is a piker, a paragon of 21st-century Proximity Correctness, compared to his old friend Strom Thurmond, whom he famously eulogized so eloquently right here in Columbia.

Just to give you an idea of the difference, let’s turn again to the pages of New York magazine, which, in a piece about Sally Quinn, quoted from a book about Strom by our own Jack Bass:

Washington writer Sally Quinn told of a 1950s reception where: “My mother and I headed for the buffet table. As we were reaching for the shrimp, both of us jumped and let out a shriek. Senator Strom Thurmond, grinning from ear to ear, had one hand on my behind and the other on my mother’s. As I recall, we were both quite flattered, and thought it terribly funny and wicked of Ol’ Strom.”…

Perhaps we should stage the actual intervention sometime before Joe reverts to that standard of groping…

 

ISIL’s in trouble now! They got Joe Biden riled up…

Here’s what the Veep had to say on the subject today:

“The American people are so much stronger, so much more resolved than any enemy can fully understand,” Biden said. “As a nation we are united and when people harm Americans we don’t retreat, we don’t forget. We take care of those who are grieving and when that’s finished, they should know we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice because hell is where they will reside.”…

Meanwhile, POTUS is talking tougher. Perhaps in response to such critics as Lindsey Graham — who say if he can’t set out a strategy, at least he should be able to state a goal — he has now said that the nation’s goal is to “degrade and destroy” the jihadist army.

Tough talk — and encouraging to hear — but Joe’s “gates of hell” locution seems more likely to grab the public imagination…

Yeah, Joe, but is it a BFD? If not, forget it…

Got this fund-raising email this morning from Joe Biden (really, from the DCCC):

Brad —
This is serious:
House Republicans just passed the most radical budget we’ve ever seen. That’s not hyperbole. It’s a direct attack on President Obama’s second term agenda — and a slap in the face to the middle class.
Right now, we need your help to fight back.
The deadline in 48 hours is the most important yet. We need 24,700 donations behind the campaign to win a Democratic House and put an end to this Republican nonsense. Will you chip in $5 or more right now?

Yeah, Joe, it may be “serious,” but is it a BFD? If not, why are you bothering me?

Not that I’d ever donate anyway…

Joe Biden apparently can’t think of Hillary Clinton’s name

… because, you know, that’s the one reason most of us can think of for Joe not to run.

Anyway, watch the video, in which he tells CNN’s Kate Bolduan why “there’s no obvious reason for me why I think I should not run” for the top job in 2016.

Personally, I’d like to see Joe run, and not just because he’s fun. But, if you’ll excuse a locution even more convoluted than the Veep’s, I’m certainly not at a loss for coming up with a reason why he would decide not to.

Of COURSE she has a ‘commanding lead,’ when no one can think of another Democrat

Thought this headline on an email alert from The Washington Post kinda odd:

Hillary Clinton (has a) commanding lead over Democrats for 2016, poll finds

Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropWell, yeah. Duh. I mean, since I can’t think of a single other Democrat being seriously spoken of as a 2016 candidate, one would assume she would have a “commanding lead.”

OK, yeah, Joe Biden. But we already knew she would swamp Joe Biden. I mean, I like Joe, but let’s be serious.

The Post further reports:

The race for the Republican nomination, in contrast, is wide open, with six prospective candidates registering 10 percent to 20 percent support….

What that means is that there is someone who has had a lead (if not a “commanding” one) over on the GOP side, too, but he’s in a lot of trouble.

And so, my little fantasy of having two acceptable people who were shoo-ins for their nominations, possibly avoiding the tears and flapdoodle of the sort of musical chairs game the Republicans played last time around, is to remain a fantasy. As, of course, I knew it would.

Democracy is so… messy

Glad to see the administration on board with Colombia trade

Some of y’all — those who carry grudges — will recall that one of my reasons for endorsing John McCain in 2008 was that he supported the Colombian Free Trade Agreement. This caused some Obamaphiles to freak out, it just seemed so esoteric to them.

But to me, it was important to cite. First, the large portion of my childhood spent in South America causes me to care more about that part of the world than do most people in this country. I find Yankee indifference to the rest of the hemisphere pretty appalling, frankly. One reason I got into reading British publications years ago was that they actually covered news events in Latin America. Most media in this country do not, for the simple reason that their readers and viewers aren’t interested.

I also saw this as a little-discussed microcosm of a difference in judgment and decision-making with regard to foreign policy in general, one that for me made McCain look better.

I went into why I thought it was important in this post.

Anyway, spin forward more than four years, and I’m pleased to read this piece by Joe Biden in The Wall Street Journal, headlined “The Americas Ascendant.” It begins:

Last week, during a five-day trip through Latin America and the Caribbean, I visited a cut-flower farm outside Bogota, Colombia, an hour’s drive from downtown that would have been impossibly dangerous 10 years ago. Along the way I passed office parks, movie theaters and subdivisions, interspersed with small ranches and family businesses. At the flower farm, one-quarter of the workers are female heads of households. The carnations and roses they were clipping would arrive in U.S. stores within days, duty free.

What I saw on the flower farm was just one sign of the economic blossoming in the year since a U.S. free-trade agreement with Colombia went into force. Over that period, American exports to the country are up 20%…

Yeah, and we could have been enjoying that increase in trade years earlier, had not Sens. Obama and Clinton opposed it, to the gratification of Big Labor.

But hey, welcome aboard. I’m glad the administration gets it now.

I thought it particularly interesting that the vice president focused on the cut-flower trade. So did Nicholas Kristof in an April 24, 2008, piece that had helped focus my attention on the need for the agreement. It began:

BOGOTÁ, Colombia

For seven years, Democrats have rightfully complained that President Bush has gratuitously antagonized the world, exasperating our allies and eroding America’s standing and influence.

But now the Democrats are doing the same thing on trade. In Latin America, it is Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton who are seen as the go-it-alone cowboys, by opposing the United States’  free-trade agreement with Colombia….

That piece, too, focused on the cut-flower industry in Colombia. The headline was “Better Roses Than Cocaine.” Indeed.

The vice president today writes,

There is enormous potential—economically, politically and socially—for the U.S. in its relations with countries of the Western Hemisphere. And so the Obama administration has launched the most sustained period of U.S. engagement with the Americas in a long, long time—including the president’s travel to Mexico and Costa Rica last month; my own recent trip to Colombia, Trinidad, and Brazil; Secretary of State Kerry’s participation in the Organization of American States’ annual meeting in Guatemala; the president of Chile’s visit to Washington this week and a planned visit to Washington by the president of Peru. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff arrives in Washington in October for the first state visit of the second term.

As leaders across the region work to lift their citizens out of poverty and to diversify their economies from commodity-led growth, the U.S. believes that the greatest promise—for Americans and for our neighbors—lies in deeper economic integration and openness.growth, the U.S. believes that the greatest promise—for Americans and for our neighbors—lies in deeper economic integration and openness.

I agree. And welcome aboard, Mr. Obama.

Biden says Obama will issue executive order on guns

Wow. I don’t know whether Joe Biden is being — excuse the seeming pun — a loose cannon again, or whether the president is really considering this (or both), but I pass it on:

(Reuters) – Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday the White House is determined to act quickly to curb gun violence and will explore all avenues – including executive orders that would not require approval by Congress – to try to prevent incidents like last month’s massacre at a Connecticut school.

Kicking off a series of meetings on gun violence, Biden said the administration would work with gun-control advocates and gun-rights supporters to build a consensus on restrictions. But he made clear thatPresident Barack Obama is prepared to act on his own if necessary.

“We are not going to get caught up in the notion that unless we can do everything, we’re going to do nothing. It’s critically important that we act,” said Biden, who will meet on Thursday with pro-gun groups including the National Rifle Association, which claims 4 million members and is the gun lobby’s most powerful organization…

“There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken. We haven’t decided what that is yet,” Biden said, adding that Obama is conferring with Attorney General Eric Holder on potential action…

It this is true, this would be a stunningly bold move by the president on an issue of great concern to the nation that our Congress has demonstrated for decades that it is unwilling or unable to address.

But, wow: The reaction he would likely engender from the really serious pro-gun people out there hardly bears thinking about. On the one hand, this shouldn’t be a shock to them, since they (and only they) have believed all along that “That Obama’s gonna come after our guns” — even though, before Newtown and his pledge to do something in response to it, the president has shown little or no interest in their guns. Which is why they went on a gun-and-ammo shopping spree after he was elected.

But that doesn’t mean their reaction won’t be visceral to any unilateral action by the president, however limited. It would be, to them, the realization of their darkest forebodings.

So is the president really willing to go down that road? Maybe. And maybe Joe doesn’t know what he’s talking about…

Wait a second. That was the Reuters story. In The Washington Post, Biden sounds a lot more definite about this:

Vice President Biden vowed Wednesday that President Obama will use executive action where he can to help stop gun violence as part of  the White House’s response to the mass shootings in Newtown, Conn.

“The president is going to act,” Biden said during brief remarks to reporters before meeting with victims of gun violence and firearm safety groups…

Meanwhile, Cardinal Dolan spanked the Democrats on their home field

My favorite moment in either convention came late last night, when one of the commentators on PBS used the word “exegesis” in describing what he’d just heard.

He was referring to Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s benediction right after President Obama’s speech. I had not heard it, whether because PBS didn’t show it or I was out of the room, I can’t recall. But C-SPAN had it, as you see above.

The commenter — I think it was Ray Suarez — was saying that the Cardinal had delivered “a riff” on something. Then he corrected himself, saying perhaps the word “exegesis” was more appropriate. His colleagues were impressed.

I very much appreciate that the Democrats gave the cardinal this forum, only about an hour after ostensible Catholic Joe Biden had roared out his approval of the party’s embrace of abortion. The cardinal said, among other things:

Thus do we praise you for the gift of life. Grant us to defend it. Life, without which no other rights are secure. We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected…

At the end of his prayer, the assembled Democrats responded with a strong “amen,” which was a settler for all those Republicans who think they’re just a bunch of heathens. To what extent all had been listening carefully, I don’t know. But the fact is that as with most public prayers, most of the words were ones they would most likely have agreed with.

The coverage came later, after the assembled media caught their breath.

The cardinal was the one person who spoke at both conventions, by the way.

Oh, what did I mean by my headline above? Well, this morning I saw a Tweet from the Charleston paper that said, “Bishop England beats Porter-Gaud. Story:http://bit.ly/NYyg6j .” So I couldn’t resist responding, “… And Cardinal Dolan thrashes the Democrats. Big night for the Catholics…”

Mackerel-snappers had a big one the night before, too. Among the non-headliners, I thought the speech by Sister Simone of “Nuns on the Bus” probably the most uplifting, least off-putting of the two weeks. Her delivery was beatific, but pulled no punches: After taking apart the budget of another dubious Catholic, Paul Ryan, she said to fervent cheers, “This is part of my pro-life stance, and the right thing to do.”

Both of them expressed what I believe. Which is a big reason why I’m so uncomfortable with both parties.

Obama provides strong finish to successful convention

OK, the quick, overall assessment: However this election turns out, in the short term the Democrats will likely get the bigger convention bounce. They earned it these last two nights.

Yes, there was just as much irritating nonsense at this convention as at the one last week — I turned down the sound and picked up a book to spare myself the aggravation just as many times. But the headliners were stronger. They showed greater conviction, presented more compelling ideas (and, alas, emotions), and I believe did a better job of engaging not only the true believers in the room, but the more important audience at home.

Doubt me? Honestly, now, whatever your political persuasion — do you really think Mitt Romney truly believes all the things he said as much as Barack Obama does, whether you agree with the president or not? And sincerity sells; it connects.

Of course, it didn’t hurt the president a bit that veteran Bill Clinton left him a five-run lead going into the last inning. He just had to hold on to it, and he actually did better than that.

But I’m just repeating what I already said on Twitter. So here are my Tweets as they came to me, starting at 9:02 p.m.:

  • David Brooks just made the good point that if you talk to both sides’ advisors, there’s not that much polarization over national security…
  • Biden says Romney & Obama bring vastly different values to the contest. I wish they didn’t. This nation so badly needs sensible consensus.
  • Tim Kelly ‏@tdkelly Drinking a Red Hoptober by @newbelgium — http://untp.it/NfjegL
  • One ping. One ping only, Vasily…
  • The Daily Beast ‏@thedailybeast Biden: Conviction, Resolve, Barack Obama. That’s what saved the automobile industry.
  • “The finest soldiers in the history of the world.” Hooah, Joe, Hooah.
  • This may be the first time in my life that talk of whacking a guy was applause line at a national convention. Not criticizing, just noting.
  • Benjy Sarlin ‏@BenjySarlin Clinton was about policy. Biden speech entirely about character, through policy lens. Different but very effective approaches.
  • Yeah, but only under a yellow sun… “@scott_english: Biden on Obama: “A spine of steel.” And adamantium claws? #wolverine
  • Coo-coo-ca-choo… “@TheFix: Biden’s call outs of people in the audience — “Mrs. Robinson” — is hilarious. #dnc2012
  • Even tho admiral advised against. “@alexcast: Per joe biden, Barack Obama is a man of courage. must be. He gave Biden a live mic.#cnn2012
  • God love him… “@JKuenzie: Biden says “look” at least as often as “literally.” #DNC2012
  • Sometimes I get tired of hearing about all the people who lost their jobs in the Great Recession. And I’m one of them…
  • I was gonna say “what are VMAs?” but I looked it up. Oh. “@BlondeScientist: Why in the hell are the VMAs on tonight?!?!”
  • Forrest L. Alton ‏@YoungGunCEO come on Brad, you know you’re a VMA kinda’ guy.
  • I’m not an ANY kind of pop culture awards guy. And I quit watching MTV when they quit showing videos 24/7.
  • I love movies, but hate the Oscars…
  • Commenter on PBS said it looks like Biden WILL stay on the ticket now. Funny thing was, she didn’t sound entirely, 100% certain…
  • I kid about Joe Biden, but I’ve always really liked the guy. And tonight, his performance was full of Joeness…
  • Was that George Clooney just then? The voice?
  • Dan Cook ‏@DanCookSC yes
  • So was that what we got tonight instead of Eastwood?
  • Let the man talk! [during prolonged applause when Obama came out]
  • That critique was dead-on. A philosophy that responds to every situation with a tax cut is surreal, and moronic.. .
  • “Our problems can be solved.” The candidate who more confidently asserts that is the one who wins. Or should win, anyway…
  • Cars going twice as far on a gallon of gas is at least less grandiose than lowering the oceans. Magical, but more achievable-sounding.
  • This is not, and probably won’t be, as exciting as Clinton’s speech. But then, I don’t think it really has to be. POTUS should be cooler…
  • “… and Osama bin Laden is dead.” Matter-of-fact, not cheerleading. As befits the office. More Michael than Santino
  • “My opponent and his running mate are.. . new… to foreign policy.” Excellent timing.
  • As one who sees POTUS in terms of international relations, I didn’t like that “nation-building at home” bit of pandering.
  • Nothing against nation-building at home, but don’t suggest we’ll do it by turning our backs on the world…
  • “This is what this election comes down to”… Have a feeling we’ll hear that as voiceover on an ad…
  • “Citizenship.” That’s the most welcome word I’ve heard these two weeks.
  • Roll Call ‏@rollcall Obama: We don’t think government can solve all our problems. But we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems.
  • “Responsibilities as well as rights.” Wow. Pure communitarianism in a presidential acceptance speech! Who wrote this, Amitai Etzioni?
  • This isn’t Bill Clinton, but it’s solid, even masterful. More to the point, it’s more powerful, easily, than Romney’s speech.
  • There was much irritating nonsense in this convention, just as in GOP’s. But the Democrats’ headliners have been stronger, more engaging…
  • I don’t know how this ends up, but the Democrats seem sure to get the bigger convention bounce. The headliners were more inspiring, engaging
  • … of course, it helped that Bill Clinton left the closer a five-run lead going into the last inning…
  • One big difference between Obama and Romney, for good or ill, is that you know Obama really believes the things he’s telling us…
  • Yeah. Sorta glad I didn’t end up going up there tonight… “@JKuenzie: And now, the traffic. #DNC2012

You know Joe Biden’s gone off the rails when even Sarah Palin can see it

Enjoyed this blog post by Alexandra Petri over at the WashPost:

On Fox News, commenting on Joe Biden’s Danville “Put Y’all Back in Chains” gaffe, Sarah Palin observed: “If that’s not the nail in the coffin, really, the strategists there in the Obama campaign have got to look at a diplomatic way of replacing Joe Biden on the ticket with Hillary.”

It is seldom that you get such good quotes from the pot about the color of the kettle.

Then again, you know you’ve made a gaffe when Sarah Palin is suggesting you might have chosen your words more judiciously. That’s like Charlie Sheen suggesting you might have a substance problem.

But perhaps we should cut her some slack. Vice presidential candidates whose comments prompt everyone in the vicinity to wince uncontrollably for several minutes is a subject no one knows better than Palin. Maybe she and Biden were better matched than we thought.

After the selection of Paul Ryan to fill the VP slot on the ticket (prompting such exciting merchandise as this button!), it is hard not to think back to August 2008, when everyone was cheering Palin as a game-changer. And she was a game-changer, in the sense that Godzilla is a city-changer. Say what you will about Paul Ryan and the potential risks of having to engage in a Serious Mature Debate of his policies, everyone admits one thing about him: He’s no Sarah Palin. If anyone sets off the trademark “Mayday! Mayday! The Veep’s Saying Something” alarm this year, it’s Biden.

And yep, she oughta know. Onion Joe!

$41 million for SC, and everybody’s in on it

You get used to press releases from congressional offices in which Rep. This or Sen. That announces that his district or state is going to get X amount of federal largesse. Even when the member had nothing to do with it, by announcing it, he gets credit. It's routine.

But this one was so big that the president and the veep had to get in on it, which is something new for me:

President Obama, Vice President Biden, U.S. Transportation

Secretary LaHood, Announce Availability of Nearly $41.2 million in Public Transportation Investments for South Carolina

More than $8 Billion Made Available
Across the Country for Mass Transit

President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the availability of $41,154,218 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for South Carolina in public transportation funding.  The funding was part of $8.4 billion made available to repair and build America’s public transportation infrastructure.
    “All over the country, resources are being put to work not only creating jobs now – but also investing in the future. A future that strengthens our transit system, makes us more energy efficient and increases safety,” said Vice President Joe Biden.  “With this recovery package, we will be creating jobs, saving jobs, and putting money in people’s pockets. And with these resources, we’ll not only be rebuilding roads and bridges and schools, we’ll be rebuilding America.”
    “Investments in public transportation put people to work, but they also get people to work in a way that moves us towards our long term goals of energy security and a better quality of life,” said Secretary LaHood.  “That is why transit funding was included in the ARRA and why we think it is a key part of America’s transportation future.”
    The U.S. Department of Transportation has already committed $540 million in federally financed loans, about one-third of the total cost, for the intermodal center, which is proceeding on time and on budget.
    The U.S. Department of Transportation will monitor state compliance and track job creation. The projects will be web-posted for the public to see with information on projects accessible at www.recovery.gov.

###