Friday, September 19, 2008

NewsWatch 9.19.08

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Trends and Tremors
Here is the key quote I'm looking at today, from McCain's newly-unveiled plan for the economy:

McCain blamed the economic crisis on "corruption and manipulation of our home mortgage system." At the center of the problem, he said, were lobbyists, politicians, and bureaucrats who kept Congress and the Bush administration away from problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The problem is the same one I talked about yesterday: McCain keeps casting around blame without being specific and defining his position like Obama. McCain's playing policy vs. personality, a game policy wins in high-stakes elections. Why?

Notice how he shields congress (read: himself) and the Bush administration from the blame today, again centering his attack on lobbyists and bureaucrats (read: Wall Street insiders). The emerging trend is that despite his talk, McCain's policies reveal he is not a man who will take on Washington or his own party - and Obama needs to jump on that.

McCain's plan, as outlined in a speech in Wisconsin today that mostly focused on Obama, was more purely generic garbage. Six vague proposals in 10 paragraphs. Here's a good summary: an institute to prevent this kind of crisis, a transparency law, "clarity" (but no explanation of how to get it), "protection" (again, no explanation), real loan guarantees (a good idea, but the shortest paragraph of them all), and scaling back the Fed's bailout power.

That's not a plan, that's just taking all the adjectives in a speech about what's wrong with the economy and making them into nouns! Obama, meanwhile, is being coy. Instead of throwing out a new answer every day, he's followed the administration's efforts and offered conditional support for their solutions. A good move, as it turned out, because the markets loved them. His calm and patience is the mark of a good leader:
"You don't do it in a day. We've got to do it in an intelligent, systematic thoughtful fashion and you know I'm much less interested at this point in scoring political points, than I am in making sure we have a structure in place that is sound and that is actually going to work."
McCain's panicky, shallow responses, on the other hand, are the mark of a reactionary. And that's today's trend. Expect Obama to focus on those keywords over the weekend and into next week.

Ad-viser Wars
McCain lost yesterday's war over who had closer ties to bad economic advisers. So why do it again today?

The latest ad tries to link Obama to former Fannie CEO Jim Johnson, who was fired from the VP search committee after three days. Sounds like playing with fire given the McCain campaign's many links to "Frennie" (Fannie + Freddie).

If anything, the only thing McCain's ads are proving is that Obama's rapid-reaction team has its mid-primary mojo back.

Rearranging the Deck Chairs
From commenter 'AB' on this CNN article:
McCain = Titanic
Palin = Iceburg
The article brings up something interesting: a week ago, it would have been crazy to say that Palin didn't connect to voters because she didn't live in the real world up in Alaska - it was her connection to voters that was keeping McCain afloat (pun very intended). Now, people are looking at Alaska's $500 per head in earmarks, no state sales tax, and oil rebates...and it starts to look like she might come from a socialist paradise.

Okay, okay, science
So McCain submitted his answers to Science Debate 2008 questions a few days ago (Obama's came in August), and it's now cropping up in the headlines. The candidates have similar positions on cap-and-trade emissions, disease proliferation and genetics.

Oddly, when asked about (I assume, scientific) innovation, Obama talks about research grants in specific fields, whereas McCain brings up streamlined regulations and intellectual property rights law? That was the overall theme of answers. Obama: Specific, McCain: Not so much.

One for the weekend
Do we care that McCain's new Raines ad may have played the race card? Oh, the Sunday morning punditry! Here's one I hope doesn't boil over; I'm enjoying the increased focus on issues.

Today's Top Headline
Rothschild: I'm a middle-class girl from Jersey

Snicker. Sometimes headlines write themselves.