Tuesday, September 23, 2008

NewsWatch 9.23.08

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at http://www.DemocraticConventionWatch.com

Trends and Tremors
Get out your tubs, briefs and cards, it's about time for the debates. Both campaigns are scrambling to lower expectations for their candidate and raise them for their opponent. McCain will talk about Obama's eloquence, Obama will bring up McCain's scrappiness and experience. I've already talked at length about how much I hate expectation-bating, but after last week, I really think McCain has the edge...in that he is expected to do much worse than Obama.

That said, this debate is a foreign policy debate, and once voters realize that the economy will likely be put on hold, they may start to remember that foreign policy is supposedly McCain's strong suit. Expect Obama aides to point out that McCain has been in the senate for a long time, and should theoretically know more about these issues than Obama. That, combined with attempts to rattle McCain or catch him off guard (I'd love to see a return of Zapatero) could lead to a big win for Obama. Or it could mean virtually nothing.

More is...Less
At some points in an election news cycle, the angles on certain stories just dry up. There's only so much you can say about the economy before people get it, and that's what's happening right now. I could spend paragraphs talking about the economy, but the bottom line is that it's confusing and that neither candidate really knows what they're talking about. McCain suffered the worst damage due to last week's zigzagging and rash blame-casting on the economy. Even George Will agrees.

McCain's trying to combat this perception today by accusing Obama of being 'MIA' on the economy, but given McCain's own record of standing by while congress stripped away regulation, I doubt the latest accusations will take hold. Besides, I don't think anyone is fooled that McCain's lashing out was really taking good action in comparison to Obama's measured, and today, very honest response.

Palin's Crash Course Collides With Media
Oh boy, could Palin's foreign policy tour have gone any worse? Instead of talking about today's visit with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, most of the headlines focus on the press, which is furious about not being allowed in. The lesson to the McCain campaign: don't expect to get the spin you want if you don't let the spinners in.

Oh, and does anyone else think McCain's assault on the New York Times yesterday didn't help his standing with the media?

Zapatero Who?
As I mentioned in today's Trends and Tremors, I'd love to see Obama specifically reach out to Hispanic voters during the debates, though not in the weird way Bush did with evangelical voters and his now infamous Dred Scott reference, and Polish voters with the much-maligned "you forgot Poland!"

However, is anyone else picking up on Obama's increased focus on Latinos after McCain's Zapatero gaffe? Even though much of this focus is on the economy, Obama's staff seems keenly aware of the opening presented to go after the Latino community after McCain's bizarre interview with Union Radio last week. The same station interviewed Obama this week, and asked many of the same questions, including whether he would invite Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to the White House. Obama's response:

"Of course...Spain is a NATO ally...The fact that Senator McCain indicated that he might not meet with Zapatero I think indicates that he wants to continue the Cheney policies of trying to dictate American foreign policy instead of trying to build cooperation -- and I think that's a mistake."

Today's Top Headline
Snowmobilers Endorse McCain-Palin
Associated Press via WCVBTV Boston

Sorry, sometimes local headlines are too funny to pass up. Oh no! The powerful Maine snowmobile lobby could be the deciding factor in this race. Sometimes it's good to take a break from more serious news, though I am not saying that people shouldn't take their snowmobiling seriously. Okay, maybe I'm saying they shouldn't take it as seriously as the election. Now I'm just rambling. Sign off, Gabe, sign off!