Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The gaffe wars

The Republican National Committee is criticizing Obama for stating that his uncle was among the liberators of Auschwitz, when it was his great-uncle helping liberate Buchenwald?

According to CNN, an RNC spokesman says that the comments (which the Obama campaign quickly clarified) "raise questions about his judgment and his readiness to lead as commander in chief."

That’s a bit rich.

Where was the RNC when George Bush confused APEC and OPEC, Austria and Australia, Slovakia and Slovenia, and called the Greeks “Grecians”?

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Obama-Paul connection

The NYT's Sunday Styles (better known as the sports pages for women) had an interesting piece on Ron Paul's diehard supporters. They have raised a phenomenal amount of money and continue to turn out at campaign rallies long after it is clear that their candidate is going nowhere. (Their enthusiasm, incidentially, nicely contradicts the assertion in "Freakonomics", which Polprint has just finished reading, that campaign contributors are clever enough to give to a candidate with a chance of winning.)

Ron Paul is generally presented as an irritation to McCain--as is Bob Barr, the newly coronated Libertarian party nominee who is hoping for Ron Paul's support.

But could Ron Paul also pose a threat to--or an opportunity for--Obama? Sure, Obama hasn't sung the praises of the gold standard, or said that the solution to environmental ills is property rights. But fundamentally, supporters of both are young, enthusiastic and anti-war. Some of the Ron Paul contingent's natural allegiances, therefore, might lie with Obama rather than McCain. Much will depend on Paul's plans--whether he endorses Barr, runs as an independent, or simply bows out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Faithful readers will know that Polprint has long favoured Jim Webb of Virginia for an Obama's VP pick. (In fact, she has a family bet riding on it.)

In looking for more information about Webb, Polprint turned of course to the most trusted source on the Internet: Wikipedia. The interesting aspect of the entry is Webb's Navy Cross citation while serving in Vietnam. Apparently that is the second to top honor in the navy.

Webb's actions were extraordinary. He led the approach to three different bunkers (as part of the same action, on the same day). At the first bunker, he captured several soldiers who emerged from the bunkers; at the second and third, grenades were pitched at him but he somehow avoided them and searched or destroyed them.

Readers are strongly recommended to read the citation for themselves.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A tribute to Ted Kennedy

Polprint is much saddened at the news about Ted Kennedy, whom doctors have just diagnosed as having a brain tumour.

Kennedy is famous in Polprint's immediate family because, upon attending a 85th birthday party for Polprint's grandfather, he remarked that he was glad to see all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren assembled. The grandchildren, the eldest of whom was not yet through college, promptly stared at each other accusingly. (In fact, the first great-grandchild was born just last week, and what a cutie he is, if his doting Aunt Polprint does say so!)

Kennedy has been a tireless fighter for raising the minimum wage, decent environmental standards and much else. He also opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. We wish him the very best, and keep him in our thoughts and prayers.


Polprint has been informed by family members that it was her grandfather's 90th birthday party at which Ted Kennedy uttered his memorable remarks, not the 85th. Polprint's grandfather had a lot of birthday parties (plainly).

Monday, May 19, 2008

What is Geraldine Ferraro's problem?

Geraldine Ferraro is officially bonkers. "I think Obama was terribly sexist," she told the New York Times today, and added that she might not vote for him as a result.

Memo to Ms. Ferraro:

If you are going to make an incredibly stupid remark, at least please give it some context.

By your untraceable logic, it must have been "terribly racist" that Jesse Jackson did not get the Democratic nomination in 1984. (He surely would have done better than Mondale/Ferraro, too.)

Obama goes to Gettysburg?

As Obama prepares to face McCain, foreign policy will be near the top of the agenda--for both. McCain will try to paint Obama as a neophyte; Obama will tie McCain to President Bush and emphasize differences on Iraq.

To the latter end, Richard Parker, a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, suggests that Obama should stake out territory that holds a sacred place in American history. Parker thinks that Obama should make a major speech on the war from Gettysburg, among the
tens of thousands of dead from north and south. The speech could emphasize withdrawal from Iraq; the need for sound diplomacy in its place; American unity; and other key themes.

Polprint is trying to get Parker's memo to the Obama campaign; if she succeeds, readers will be alerted. Interestingly, Parker says that he was initially a Clinton supporter, but was brought around to Obama by the enthusiasm of his students, unheard of since the Kennedy years.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Question hour for McCain

A reader sent in this gem, from Slate: McCain has pledged to hold a regular Q&A with Congress, similar to the tumultuous "Question Hour" in the British Parliament. Not to mention weekly press conferences, a revolutionary concept for the current administration. Hear, hear!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Forgotten Congressional campaigns

Coverage of Obama and Clinton and (sometimes) McCain dominates the front pages. For a political junkie like Polprint, that should mean that the cup runneth over. But Polprint confesses to being a bit frustrated. Aren't there other campaigns happening, too? For inconsequential posts like Senator or Congressman?

Polprint has yet to see a front-page analysis on vulnerable Senate or Congressional seats (not to mention governorships)--how many, what states, and so forth. Case in point: the New York Times story today on how this week's Mississippi special election, won by a Democrat in a conservative district, is a warning shot to Republicans everywhere. But what are the six vulnerable Senate seats that the article mentioned? Readers, are you up on this?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Can someone please define "landslide"?

Call Polprint a cynical, hope-busting pundit. But she has read one too many articles about Obama's "landslide" victory over Clinton in North Carolina last week. The latest culprit was a Week in Review piece in today's New York Times, about how Democrats can win back the South (highly unpersuasive on the presidential front, incidentally).

Is 56-42 really a landslide? Polprint has vivid memories of her first encounter with political landslide: Ronald Reagan's trouncing of Walter Mondale in 1984. OK, so Reagan won the popular vote 59-41, by just four points more than Obama did in North Carolina. But he swept 49 of 50 states, so "landslide" may be more apt for his electoral-college victory.

Clinton actually seems to be the one gearing up for a landslide: she's ahead 66-23 in West Virginia, according to the latest poll. We'll see how the press describes her victory. (Polprint has a sneaking suspicion that "landslide" is chiefly a term of coronation, and mostly applies when expectations are exceeded.)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fashion advice for Obama

Have readers seen the photo of Obama in jeans? Polprint is ashamed of herself for raising such silly issues. But it's interesting! Obama--who never looks his age in the best (worst?) of times--actually looks like a schoolkid, especially because he is carrying his own bag. Polprint advises him to grow a paunch, or at least not carry his own bag, to give himself a bit more gravitas. Oh wait, maybe not wearing jeans would do the trick too.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Clintonian conspiracies

A friend of Polprint's just relayed a delightful conspiracy theory: Clinton is staying in the race in order to weaken Obama, so that he will lose this election and she can run against McCain in 2012.

Polprint discounts most conspiracy theories, and this one is no exception. But why not indulge, once in awhile?

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Chelsea factor

Polprint heartily recommends "Too Solemn For Her Generation", an article about Chelsea Clinton's campaign style by a Washington Post reporter. The piece observes that Chelsea rarely uses the obvious tools of 20-somethings--humor and sarcasm--to answer or deflect questions.

Instead, her stump speech is earnest, dull and repetive. When she is not wonking out (to use a verb that is not in Polprint's dusty copy of Webster's), she says things like: "I'm so proud of my mom. I hope that your daughter is as proud of you or your children are as proud of you as I'm proud of my mom."

What 28-year-old still refers to their mother as "my mom", anyway?