Friday, October 31, 2008

Not Voting Obama? Fine! Believing the right wing talking points? You are just being a sucker and a fool.

I've now spent many, many hours paying attention to the anti-Obama crowd in the interest of objectivity. I'm not impressed.

What is frustrating about tracking down the anti-Obama smears they foolishly keep believing is that they are a simply formula of guilt by fake or exaggerated associations. Just ask John McCain, who correctly profiles Obama as a decent, patriotic guy.

I tracked down a lot of right wing tips but found nothing of greater concern than what you'd have with McCain or most other politicians. In fact Obama's one of the clearest folks out there in terms of stating his ideas and acting consistently with them.

Sure, Obama has some questionable stuff in his past that is of minor concern and he's certainly more left wing than I am but this is America. You want people with a broad, bright, global vision, and nobody has better fit that mold than Obama.

Now, there are obviously issues that should incline you to vote McCain. Pro-life as your key issue? You absolutely should vote for McCain. is you income measured in the millions per year like Cindy McCain's? You should vote McCain. Obama is hammering the rich with taxes. I think probably at rates unreasonably high, but probably better them than....the other 95% of us.

Right wing nonsense spewing has reached new heights as the campaign enters the final days, but it appears to me most of the clowns are simply *extremely* crappy profilers. They parrot the obviously inane points no political insider would ever believe. It is campaign theater but many of these bloggers and McCain advocates seem to think it's some form of a real truth.

As a business guy and fiscal conservative I need to profile folks all the time, and Obama is *obviously* very much what he says he is: A liberal democrat. He's got support of brilliant capitalists like Warren Buffet and Robert Rubin. From brilliant foreign policy military folks like Wesley Clarke and Colin Powell. Why? Because he's *exactly* who he says he is and who he appears to be.

It's hard to hold back the contempt and scorn I have for the inanely stupid notion that Obama is a racist, socialist, communist, or Kenyan citizen. This is unpatriotic nonsense - lies and fabrications of a spin machine out of control and outside of McCain's own belief system - squarely in the hands of nonsensical kooks who wouldn't know a socialist from a capitalisit from a halloween clown.

There are many reasons you should NOT vote for Obama - Democratic liberalism has a history of mistakes, especially in the realm of spending foolishly and failing to assign individual accountability properly.

But if you don't vote for Obama because you think he's a closet communist you are just .... a complete fool, suckered by spinmeisters and hoodwinked by hardball politics you don't even understand.

McCain Campaign Formula Yields Nonsense

The pattern was clear to many - even some McCain supporters - early on but I guess I expected them to vary this a bit when it became clear that that smear attacks were failing to sway any intelligent voters and only seemed to appeal to a crowd that had no interest in the truth about the candidates - only in an outcome.

Every single major criticism of Obama now takes the following form. It’s a formula and it’s BS in every single case:

1) Review Obama records.

2) Find where he crossed paths with objectionable people, esp. if there can be a connection to the buzzword “terror supporter”.

3) Lie or wildly exaggerate the degree of connection to the people.

4) Lie to suggest Obama *shares* the controversial or outrageous views of the people to whom he has little or no connection.

5) Run high profile stories on right wing blogs until FOX picks up the distortions and then more reputable news outlets report the "accusations", thereby bringing a legitimacy to the issue it should not have.

What I can’t believe is that there are some bright people who *actually believe* the nonsense as if they don't even understand this is a game, and McCain and his campaign know much better than any of us that Obama's exactly what he claims to be. As much as I can appreciate hardball politics I'm concerned that trying to brand Obama as sympathetic to terrorism or unAmerican activities will hurt his likely upcoming presidency in the profoundly unAmerican ways, even perhaps leading to violence by unstable elements in the far right.

Although I think most of the current rhetoric falls a bit short of "hate speech", it's still beneath *any* patriotic American to support the many lies and distortions that - successful or not as hardball politics - will compromise our ability to deal with many of the threats facing the USA.

Lies and distortions are a challenge to our great system- they are unPatriotic and unAmerican, and a shameful way for the McCain campaign to wind up an otherwise honorable career.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Truth vs Lies

American campaigns are no stranger to falsehood, lies, and character attacks. That has been going on since the days of Washington and the rocky birth of our remarkable Democratic experiment.

However that does not make the practice appealing, and clearly in the current campaign it has been the McCain campaign that has gone the farthest to bring up irrelevant nonsense and distort the truth.

Following up on many of the right wing claims about Obama has been an exercise in frustration and shoddy thinking by Obama detractors. This has taken the form of crazy nonsense like the notion Obama was born in Kenya to juxtaposing Obama quotes to make a very reasonable statement seem unreasonable.

Just today I reviewed a bogus claim that Obama, writing at Daily KOS
two years ago, had called for removing moderates from the Senate. Incredibly the writer had simply taken something Obama said should NOT be done in the interest of moderate approaches and then lifted the words in such as way to make it appear to state opposite. These cases of blog fraud or incomprehensibly stupid lack of reading comprehension would not be so bad if they were not immediately picked up by other sites and presented as "fact" along with the misquotes or lies.

Even mainstream media "fact checking" is often very questionable. The latest "guilt by association" play suggests Obama is pals with a Palestinian activist named Khalidi, now a professor and consultant. One of the challenges in this case is that a John McCain board gave a Khalidi consultancy over $450,000 for projects polling in the middle east. Most of McCain's campaign has tried to rely on painfully weak connections to figures that mainstream Americans find objectionable in one way or another. Thankfully that strategy appears to have failed - and perhaps we can hope this is because we as voters have become more reasonable rather than simply because the McCain campaign failed to make the smears stick.

All the smears have happened within a context of an arguably very unqualified Republican VP nominee hit with abuse of power charges *during the campaign* and McCain's very challenged personal history. The Obama campaign has chose not to focus on the personalities and character of the opposition, and stayed squarely on message in a near-flawless and mostly positive campaign. Will this approach succeed? If so, can we expect future campaigns to take a higher road than in the past?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Obamercial

Pundits are wondering if Obama pulled in a few more voters with tonight's 30 minute five million dollar multi-network commercial extravaganza.

I think that was only a small part of their objective as they probably only gained a point or so across the board and gaining votes is near-meaningless in California, New York, and most of the heavily populated states (and expensive media markets) that are already lined up for Obama in terms of electoral votes - the only votes that matter in the big show.

However this was yet another master stroke of the nearly flawless Obama campaign. Why? It runs out the clock for two full days with only 6 days until the main election day, and with many people voting over the next few days in early voting areas. Obama does not need votes now - he needs to simply maintain his sizable lead. The status quo is Obama's friend and this piece helps to maintain that for him in addition to address, in a very stylish fashion, key concerns of key groups he needs.

As with most of the Axlerod innovations this was brilliant and another reason the Obama campaign is likely to go down as *the best run big campaign* in American political history.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Early voting polls

MSNBC is reporting a Diagio poll that shows Obama 48% and McCain 47% of early votes. This is more like an exit poll that a predictive poll and would appear to suggest a close race, though normally since early voting probably skews Republican this is not necessarily contradicting poll results.

Gallup on the other hand reports early voting polls are showing the same Obama lead that the normal polls show - a substantial margin and a huge positive sign for Obama.

Campaign 2008 - we ain't seen nothing yet?

As the Obama and McCain campaigns make their final 7 day push to election day we'll see more ads and get out the vote effort than at any other time in history, especially for Obama (who has far more money), and especially in the key states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Obama's get out the vote system is likely to go down in history as the most sophisticated ever. In Florida over 100,000 volunteers have been mobilized to help with the Obama campaign, and CNN reports that poll workers will scan names of those who voted into a system that will then make decisions about where to run targeted pre-recorded TV appeals by Obama to get out and vote. This is a brilliant tactic as failing to mobilize enough voters was a key reason for the Gore loss in 2000 and Kerry loss in 2004.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Counting Ohio

A flurry of stories and accusations have raised a lot of suspicion about vote counts, especially in Ohio and Florida in the 2004 presidential election.

However the total Ohio recount conducted in December of 2004 that effectively shifted the results by only a few hundred results based on allowing previously rejecte ballots suggests to me that the claims of counting conspiracies are probably misguided:

However I remain concerned by reports of defects in Diebold voting machines and optical scanner voting results that appeared to favor George Bush in 2004 by margins that are very hard to explain without invoking fraud.

Without a doubt our elections process is flawed so seriously that outcomes were certainly affected in the 2000 election where Gore would have won Florida without ballot errors, though I do not think this was due to conspiratorial activity unless you count the aggressive vote purging efforts of Katherine Harris and other Secretaries of state as a conspiracy. These suppression activities are probably legal in the narrow sense, though I think vote suppression efforts appear to have become a strategic part of many campaigns and this probably should be considered a somewhat nuanced violation of voting rights laws. Suppression efforts generally seem to hide behind the notion of preventing votes by felons and vote fraud, but I think that in general the true purpose is to alter outcomes in a partisan way.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Obama's lead steady, McCain looking for a miracle

Unless modern polling is pretty much a garbage science (it's not), the election appears to be wrapping up with Obama in a commanding lead and McCain poised for a defeat that will pull many states out of the proverbial "red" column.

Here in Oregon Jeff Merkley is poised to wrestle away the seat of our excellent moderate Senator Gordon Smith. The campaign has been nasty and expensive and although Smith is well funded Merkley now has the help of national funding that will - in my opinion - give him the election, probably more on the basis of negative ads about Smith than platform issues.

Perhaps as importantly, the financial troubles of the country and perceived foreign policy failures of the Bush administration appear to be taking the country towards a House and Senate that are so strongly controlled by the Democrats many policies will face low levels of opposition.

This is likely to prove a mixed blessing unless the Democrats use this power with greater wisdom than either party has in the past. As the country and the world teeters on the brink of a potential depression the likes of which the world has not seen since the great Depression of the 1930s we can only hope that the new administration and congress will prove to be the most innovative and successful American political experiment of modern times. Anything short of that .... could be trouble.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ashley Todd - McCain Campaign Worker "Attack" is a Hoax

The Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Ashley Todd attack was a hoax designed by a low level McCain campaign worker to fuel the ongoing smear campaign against Obama:

Although the right leaning Drudge Report and FOX News deserve some of credit for putting the “hoax” coverage on their internet home pages, enough damage has been done that any objective observer would question the motives of news agencies reporting as fact such a suspicious story.

This was initially reported by Fox news in a totally questionable fashion that simply accepted Todd’s dramatic story that was designed to play on many of the irrational fears and stereotypes that have been used to smear Obama supporters. Drudge and FOX were (outrageously) running the lies last night even as it became crystal clear she was lying about all or some of this. That abuse of the news cycle is simply unconscionable.

Also outrageous is that Todd was an official McCain *campaign worker*. Given the smears against Obama based on people and groups who have little or no connection to his campaign I think it’s clear we have a disturbing double standard.

McCain to miss his election night party

You know your campaign is in big trouble when the candidate says he may not even attend his election night party.

Some reports suggest John McCain will be bowing out of the small party scheduled in an Arizona Hotel due to "space limitations". AP Reports

Meanwhile Obama's team is preparing a huge stadium for what polls suggest will be a huge election night acceptance speech by Obama.

McCain is now outspent by over 3 to 1, losing in every poll, and appears to be on the verge of a campaign meltdown as they concede state after state to Obama. Pennsylvania may be McCain's sort of "hail mary pass" where they hope to turn the state red and shift the 21 electoral votes to McCain. Even this won't work unless McCain also picks up other states in which he currently trails such as Ohio and Indiana.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Voter Suppression vs Registration Fraud vs Voter Fraud

The ACORN scandal is serious, but conservative talk shows and radio are absurdly trying to connect this effort to the Obama campaign in irrational and unethical ways. Vote fraud is not much of a problem in the USA where sophisticated voter suppression ... is a problem.

Forget Acorn, I'd hire Ken Blackwell if I was in the vote manipulation biz:

In 2004 in Ohio Blackwell tried to preferentially and illegally enforce a rule that said the *weight* of the paper would disqualify registrations. Even his own offices forms did not qualify as well as standard forms around the state. His ruling was overturned eventually, but had some suppressive effect. It's hard to measure suppression and I don't think it turned the 2004 election but I now think it's clear that without the very strategic suppression efforts against Florida voters in 2000 Gore would have *easily* won the state even with the butterfly ballots disallowed as they were.

As everybody should know but does not, there is *no rational dispute whatsoever* that the butterfly ballot spoilage lost the election for Gore. It's not clear you could have done anything about that legally (eg allocate votes proportionally rather than destroy them), but it is clear that in terms of voter intent Gore won Florida. Also not well known, but shown by a Miami Herald recount of every ballot (a great read!), is that even if the Supreme Court recounts had gone through Bush would have won using most of the prevailing counting standards of 2 or more chads disconnected. (Gore did not challenge the factors that lost the election - Palm Beach spoilage and/or voter suppression). Bush was "necessarily" installed as President after losing the Florida election, although there was a precedent for keeping those ballots and proportional votes.

I think if one is truly interested in Democracy working more than partisan concerns, they should be a lot more worried about the suppression efforts, especially in Ohio and Florida. These are simply appalling. The system is very good at finding fraud and very bad at avoiding suppression and ballot spoilage.

The reason suppression is a lot more worrisome is that it appears they keep a lot of legitimate voters from voting where voter fraud is likely to be very uncommon (convicted felons, for example, even if registered by ACORN, are hardly gung ho to go in and vote illegally).

I started looking at the situation after the Florida fiasco of 2000 and was really appalled because until then I'd bought the line that fraud was the big deal. I do think fraud helped Kennedy win Illinois thanks to Daley and possibly the mob, but suppression is more relevant now.

Electoral Counts Give Obama the Win

With a large and stable lead in the polls, an even more favorable lead in the electoral analysis, and a huge amount of money in the bank the Obama campaign juggernaut looks very hard to beat:

"The Bradley Effect", where polled people tend to vote differently than they tell the pollsters due to race, seems unlikely to play a role although some think this may work against Obama in the final tallies.

Clearly the most important factor at this late time is the mother's milk of American Obama's campaign raised a jaw-dropping 150 million in September and will be able to outspend McCain by something like 3 to 1. This is a huge advantage and makes it much harder for McCain to "raise his voice" and profile in the public eye at this critical time.

Vote Fraud vs Vote Suppression

There's a massive campaign in the conservative media to connect the Obama campaign to the ACORN vote registration scandals. There does not appear to be a significant connection - certainly no suggestion that the Obama campaign has done anything to encourage ACORN to cheat on their behalf. Here's my summary of the situation:

ACORN registration fraud is at the individual level, where workers are padding their registration piles with fake registrations to make more money.

No signs that the fake registrants would actually be voting in the election. FOX is very conspicuously failing to talk about this, though I'd guess somebody will find a small number of ACORN people who had plans to go and try to vote based on the fake registrations.

It is possible, but I think unlikely, that there is a conspiracy on the part of ACORN to conduct a large scale vote fraud campaign based on the fake registrations. The evidence does not support this at all. For example "Mickey Mouse" mass duplicated names, and pro football name registrants are going to get scrutinized at the polling places and likely rejected.

Far more significant in terms of affect are the voter suppression campaigns where secretaries of state are removing huge numbers of names from the registration rolls. Often this appears to be a legitimate attempt to clean ineligible voters from the rolls but in some cases such as Ohio 2004 it appeared to be a very calculated approach to change outcomes. This year Ohio's voting process is under the control of the Democrats and it appears they are working too hard in the opposite direction - effectively having too few checks on the registration process.

The system failed in 2000, and Democracy is still reeling from our inability to qualify voters and count votes properly. Partisans who are more interested in outcomes that the Democratic process should bow their heads in deep shame (warning: do not hold your breath on this).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Of Plumbers and Presidents

The inane stupidity of the "Joe the Plumber" discussion tells us a lot about how out of touch the media is with America. As a "Joe" myself, I'm in a better position to understand Joe the Plumber than, say, Lou Dobbs.

My take is that neither left nor right wing media understands why Joe the Plumber is relevant to the current debate, which is simply because he is representative of many middle income Americans who make about 40-80k per year, would actually benefit in the short term from Obama's tax plans, but don't share Obama's sensibilities about how to run country or the idea that deficit spending is a good idea.

First, Joe does not even come close to making 250k. No plumbers make 250k. Some plumbing *businesses* with several workers might make that in, although many are mom and pops making far less. Lou Dobbs and some McCain folks have *idiotically* asserted that the issue is about Plumbers when it's about small businesses, most of which do not make 250k.

Joe is not a small business - in fact he's not even a plumber. He was (probably wrongly) thinking that if he bought the plumbing place he worked for he'd have trouble paying Obama's taxes, and Obama foolishly just assumed that was true. Unless this is a pretty good sized plumbing business and Joe is a heck of a good businessman it is very unlikely he'll pull in 250k taxable income. Do the math! There are 2000 working hours in a year. Factoring in travel time and such, most plumbers are not going to work that many hours but even assuming they do they'd need to make on average $125 per hour to bring their annual take up to 250k. $125 per hour? Maybe in New York CIty but most places charge far less. But wait there's more.... that's just revenues. You get to deduct expenses, so even if Joe is the best paying guy AND the best business guy AND has several plumbers all pulling in 250k annually for him after he pays them and deducts expenses he'll likely fall where most small businesses fall - under the Obama threshold for tax benefits.

But wait.... that does NOT suggest he should vote for Obama. If he's strongly anti-abortion, or really big on gun rights, or wants military spending to be a huge priority he should probably go with McCain. If he hates Democratic control of politics he should vote Republican.

So, there are plenty of reasons Joe the Plumber might want to vote for McCain.

Taxes, however, are quite ironically not one of those reasons.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Colin Powell to Endorse Obama (probably)

Colin Powell appears ready to endorse a candidate and it's likely he'll pick Barack Obama in what may be a bit of a coup de grace to McCain's flailing campaign.

Although it's possible Powell will endorse John McCain this is unlikely since Powell remains a key player in global affairs and he'd be throwing that away for at least the next 4 years with a McCain endorsement.

As a moderate Republican Powell's credibility remains high and he's likely to sway at least some of the type of moderate middle class voters Obama would benefit from.

Obama Birth Certificate

Yes, Obama was born in the USA. Here's the birth certificate issued by Hawaii. Note at the bottom that this is considered "primae facie" evidence in any court of law.

Here is even more detail (including the Certificate number which was blacked out in this copy)* for those of you gullible enough to believe Jerome Corsi is not manipulating the evidence to smear Obama unfairly, which seems to be his main objective with the book "ObamaNation".

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 Endorses Obama for President

When I started this blog I'd hoped to provide objectivity in a race I knew would be clouded with the usual nonsense of our American democratic experience where marketing and the politics of personal destruction trump the issues. I had not planned to endorse any candidates. But time and politics have changed and so...

President Picker endorses Barack Obama for President.

Like Christopher Buckley I'm a small government low tax fiscal conservative, but also like Buckley I think the country right now needs - desparately - a "first class mind" in the oval office. The world faces the greatest fiscal crisis since the great depression, and global terrorism remains a critical threat around the world. Obama, unlike any other prominent American leader, will send a signal to the world that the USA remains both the shining beacon of prosperity we have always been but also is asserting an entirely new approach to internal affairs - an approach characterized by flexibility, compassion, and intelligent reflection rather than the knee jerk ideological responses that have compromised our reputation and standing in the global community for the past 6 years.

Obama appears to be the right man for these challenging times. I hope that the economic challenges will force Obama into more realistic ideas about how the economy and personal responsibility need to be part of the big equation, while the country will benefit from Obama's ability to galvanize support and bring people together.

The future is uncertain and potentially very perilous. Major changes are in order, and Barack Obama is the person America needs right now.

Friday, October 10, 2008

McCain challenges nonsense about Obama

John McCain deserves praise for his statements making it very clear that Obama is an honorable man and candidate. "He's a decent family man citizen...he's a person you do not have to be scared...." said McCain to a crowd that clearly wanted a speech with more red baiting and red meat.

Although the McCain campaign has crossed the line many times using guilt-by-association to try to to paint Obama as a supporter of terror and other nonsense, but it's great to see John McCain taking the microphone away from a lady as she said "Obama is an Arab" and pointing out to his supporters that Obama poses no threat to the stability of the country.

Spirited politics has a long history in the USA, but as the Obama lead grows and frustration mounts all Americans should be very concerned about the tone of the anti-Obama rhetoric, which at it's extreme is supporting violence.

A sure way to betray the proud ideals of American freedom is to threaten to silence opposing ideas with violence. I'm very glad to see John McCain backing away from supporters who don't seem to understand that.

Palin Troopergate verdict is in: Abuse of Power.

The "TrooperGate" scandal that has plagued Sarah Palin for the past months now has an official judgement and that is that Palin abused her power but did not break any laws.

Here's the report from Alaska's website

I haven't read it yet but CNN quotes the investigation committee which unanimously approved the report, saying Palin abused power but did not break laws.

Although Palin partisans will suggest this was a political move, it now appears very clear that Palin engaged in seriously questionable activities in this case.
This is especially ironic as Palin has led the charge to suggest that Obama's associations with others bring his character into question. Palin more than any candidate in recent history has tried to make character rather than issues the focus of her campaign. It will be interesting to see if she keeps tossing stones from within a glass house.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Ed Rollins, Republican Guru: It's over, It's Obama

On CNN tonight Ed Rollins said it's over and Obama has won. He suggested that the tidal wave of bad economic news means McCain no longer has much if any chance at winning, and the issue is whether the Republicans will lose so many seats their influence in congress is demolished.

Rollins is one of the master modern political strategists and a key architect of the Reagan rise to power. He's also much less of a spinner when he'd being a pundit on the many political shows that talk to him.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Debate 2: No Winner is Big Win for Obama

Tonight's debate reviewed much of the same ground in the same way, with little new information from either candidate. The town hall format didn't seem to change the talking points all that much from campaign speeches.

Without anything like a knockout, let alone a likely "win", McCain remains in serious trouble because he's losing in many of the close states and needs to make major campaign progress within weeks to have even a shot at winning the big prize.

I'd predict most undecided debate viewers will give the debate, narrowly, to Obama. CNN results will be in soon.

If tonight's performance is any indication of the final month of the campaign we are looking at an Obama win.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Smears and Swiftboats

Frankly I've been amazed at how little dirty smear campaigning there has been in the campaign so far, but it looks like that may be about to change as new ads and FOX news are really harping on a fairly insignificant connection between Obama and Chicago radical William Ayers. Ayers is now a professor but in the 1960s he and his current wife were founding member of the violent "Weather Underground". They served prison time for terror activities.

The New York Times has an excellent summary of the situation.

The challenge to a clear thinker in cases like this is fairly simple and involves a few key questions, none of which have to do with whether somebody met somebody, had coffee with them, talked with them, etc.

Guilt by association is often an effective tactic but it's not a legitimate reason to be concerned, and it appears that's all there is to this story.

Relevant questions and answers:

Did Obama support Ayers' activities? No, Obama was 8 years old.

Does he support Ayers' past activities now? No, nothing in Obama's record or statements or activites suggests he does, and he has stated he does not.

Has Ayers had anything that could be a significant influence on Obama's thinking? Clearly not in terms of Ayers past activities. Probably somewhat influential in terms of Ayers educational reform activities, which appear to be of a strictly non-violent nature.

The idea that a virtuous person must immediately disassociate himself from any objectionable people and ignore everything they do or say is preposterous. On the contrary, virtue and wisdom *require* these types of interactions.

Obama's very liberal voting record is legitimate territory for intelligent debate. Obama's minor association with not.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Nielsen: 70,000,000 Watched Palin - Biden Debate

70 million people watched the VP Debate last night between Biden and Palin, I think making that debate the most watched event of the current election. Only about 50 million watched Obama and McCain in their first matchup and I have a hunch the next two will be about the same.

Nielsen Story at Yahoo

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Palin v. Biden Debate won't change minds

The Palin Biden debate ends pretty much as a tie, with Sarah Palin surprisingly holding her own against a far more experienced politician. Palin's answers seemed well rehearsed, and it appeared her strategy was to have several good rehearsed answers and several good bridges to those topics. When Palin was spontaneous she seemed "off", but when rehearsed she'll be seen as spot on by her supporters.

CNN's trend meter indicated good marks for both, though it seemed to me Biden was pulling better with the Ohio undecided women who they measured moment to moment.

Overall affect on polls? I'm guessing not much. Palin will appeal to those who like her but this won't change many votes.

Palin v. Biden: The Debate

Tonight's Vice Presidential Debate promises to be one of the most if not the most interesting event of the entire Presidential Campaign. Even with expectations for a Palin "knockout" near zero, Palin may sink the Republican ship without a solid performance tonight. The media is clearly angry at the McCain campaign's unprecedented protection and management of Palin media interactions but much of that media concern will prove justified in the eyes of many Americans if Palin can't hold her own in this format.

I almost - but not quite - feel bad for suggesting Gwen Ifill should have offered to step aside because conservatives are making so much foolishness out of what will almost certainly be an objective and unbiased approach by Ifill. That said it's absurd to suggest that she has no stake in the outcome. She does and the Jan 20 publication date proves this. As usual the criticisms by each side are in part correct and the defenses are generally weak.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Gwen Ifill's Debate Dilemma

PBS's VP Debate moderator Gwen Ifill's upcoming book about the rise of African American politics in the "Age of Obama" is raising some eyebrows as she'll be moderating the debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden tommorrow night.

As Brit Hume correctly noted today there is little reason to think she won't be objective but it is of some concern that the book, set to release on *inauguration day* means that Ifill has a significant financial stake in the outcome of the election (ie her perspective if Obama wins is far, far more valuable than if he loses).

With journalistic objectivity pretty much in a death spiral already, I think PBS should be getting *out* of the game of partisan journalism rather than finding themselves squarely in the eye of that storm.

Given that Gwen just broke her ankle she's got a great excuse to pass her debate duties along to another and she probably should do that. Unless the McCain campaign had been briefed about her book when they agreed to have Ifill moderate the debate it's not reasonable for her to claim this should be of no concern at this time, especially given the publication date which clearly presages the outcome of the election. Ifill is involved in predicting and profiting from the outcome of this election and therefore should offer to excuse herself from the debate.

FYI Ms. Ifill - McCain will tell you to go ahead anyway, so why not take the high road here?