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.)