The Master Plan of David Brooks

I’ve always felt that I should dislike David Brooks more than I do. He’s the erstwhile conservative foil to E.J. Dionne on NPR, Official Conservative at the New York Times, and relatively recent neocon gadfly-lite. I don’t like his ideas, but he’s always seemed so milquetoast that I haven’t been able to get up a good head of steam about it.

Well, last night I had an insight into the David Brooks Master Plan. While watching the Democratic National Convention on PBS, where Brooks was one of the talking heads, he stated that in order to counter the Democratic mantra pairing McCain and Bush, in order to separate himself from Bush, McCain’s only possible choice for Vice-Presidential running mate is now… wait for it… Joe Lieberman.

(Not the first time he has suggested this, thanks Wikipedia.)

To which any self-respecting Democrat, and even the still-ardent Hillary supporters, can only say, “Hell yeah!” You’re welcome to him, and good riddance. I can’t think of any decision John McCain could make that would please me more.

And that brings me back to the motivation of David Brooks. Since there is no way an intelligent, articulate, clear-thinking individual can believe that McCain-Lieberman (the Muppet Show!) would be a successful ticket, he must be a secret Liberal working behind the scenes to push this idea, to secure the election of Ned Lamont, to encourage Lieberman’s recent party-busting comments, hoping that this comes about, thus securing the election for Obama-Biden.

Go Brooksie!

DNC Day 1: A different kind of First Lady

There’s not much to say about the first day of the Democratic National Convention except to note that Michelle Obama will be a very different kind of First Lady. And thank God for that.

She was articulate, comfortable, loving, steely, competent and unafraid. And she was daring. She seemed to advertise that she would take a unique path, sharply skewed from the classic tea-and-comfort First Ladies of the past (which I dare say Cindy McCain would embody), yet not so far as Hillary’s policy-making Office-of-the-First-Lady. Michelle struck all the right notes, giving a very politically astute speech, that, if it was seen, should go a long way towards making people more comfortable with the Obamas in the White House.

In other notes: the kids were delightful, but really, who gave them an open microphone? And Ted Kennedy, who hasn’t really meant much to my political awareness, looked hale and hearty, but terribly stilted. Perhaps he is not really well, just remarkably far along the way to being so.

I’m looking forward to tonight.

Democratic Convention Review: The TV Coverage

So, we set the TiVo to tape the Democratic Convention on CNN. It started coverage at 5:00pm, so I figured it would be the most comprehensive. Several hours into the replay, all I’d gotten was Wolf Blitzer yapping for hours, John King playing “Master of the Map,” and a bunch of bit players trying to get the scraps of airtime Wolf would throw out. Oh, and James Carville looking like he’d swallowed something really bitter (which actually made me happy).

The “best team in politics” routinely talked over speakers (including Nancy Pelosi), only grudgingly allowed that people might want to see any of the video montages, and then bitched ad nauseum about how the Democrats offered no “red meat” on this first day. Considering that I don’t think the “best team in politics” listened to any of the convention going on behind them, I’m not surprised they felt that way.

So, after a while of this, when we’d caught up to live TV (just as Ted Kennedy was ending his speech) we started flipping around. We settled on two channels, PBS, for unfiltered coverage (with just the occasional and well-placed explanatory comment, like who that was on stage), and NBC, for political punditry. ABC was a candidate, but I couldn’t take much of Diane Sawyer trying to be relevant again (where has she been?).

Tonight, we’ll watch PBS and NBC, and we may give ABC a chance again. But, and this is all I have to say on the matter, poor Katie Couric. And is it just me, or is Brian Williams starting to turn into Peter Jennings? Look at him around the eyes. That’s not a bad thing.

How’s your Convention Coverage going? Do tell.

The Dems better not screw this up

I’m pretty sure I speak for most of us (liberal, elite, hand-wringers) when I say, the Democratic Party better not screw this up. My wife asked me just recently if I was still confident that we would win in November. My answer? Not if November were today. But I have confidence that the Dems will get back on their horse and fix whatever has been ailing them the last few weeks.

Many of us are worried because of the polls we see, trumpeting gains and losses and slides and a tight race. But you can’t trust the polling numbers you see, as each poll has a huge number of variables, and even CNN’s vaunted “Poll of polls” can be misguided. Of course, “national trends” don’t matter a hill of beans anyway, since electoral votes are garnered on a state by state basis. But I don’t have the time to check out each state poll as it comes out, so I do keep track of a couple of aggregate polls for a National snapshot. This one at Real Clear Politics, and this one at Pollster.

These two graphs show a tightening of the race, too. Which leads to my… um, un-confidence.

I think Biden was the best choice among the unofficial candidates for VP, but I wonder what might have happened had Obama announced a “change” candidate (like Tim Kaine) and then laid out a likely Cabinet makeup to assuage the “inexperience” doubts. The ink is hardly dry on the Obama-Biden signs (and I wonder what Joe thinks about being a light shade of blue?) and the Rovian machine has already begun to strike at the new strengths of the ticket.

It is what we hate about the Republicans, but what we admire too. Really, you know you do. It’s what we want Obama’s campaign to start doing. Screw the high road, you can’t legislate change from the high road if it goes off a cliff. I’d like to see the Dems fight for the chance to fix the country. And I think we’ll see it. We’d better.

Also, let no one bring up “the new Joe-mentum,” please. Unless McCain is so silly as to pick Lieberman. Then we can have dueling Joe-mentum.

Obama Obsessing

So, I haven’t checked my email this feverishly since… I met my wife, and that was back when I had to dial up via modem each time. Today I am looking for a message from Barack Obama as to whom he has chosen as his Vice Presidential pick.

For those not keeping score at home: Biden said “I’m not the guy,” this morning, and Obama referred to his VP as “he” last night, which leaves us with Bayh the Disappointing, or Tim Kaine, current Governor of Virginia. Or someone completely different.

Stay tuned.


Just another example of awesome data display hammering home a point. This is a chart worth seeing. Reminds me a lot of some of the best of Tufte’s work. Simple, but unmistakeable. Oh yeah, and did you see Bolt run the 100? As someone said, Day-um. Via kottke, of course.

My second favorite VW commercial

Million Miles, by J.Ralph (then going by the name SPY), just cycled through on iTunes, and brought to mind my second favorite VW commercial ever, called “Big Day,” in which the song is prominently featured. The commercial is a gem. It tells a spellbinding story, unspooling perfectly, with an unexpected twist and an uncertain ending. The breath she takes right before it ends could mean so many things. I have a copy of the video on my computer somewhere, but you can watch it on YouTube.

(Get your own crappy Quicktime version from Volksfolks, or read a discussion of the commercial, mostly full of “This is Awesome!” but still interesting, at Tevis.)