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Republican Convention Redux – Night 2

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Despite a large crowd that waved placards and broke out in random chants of “U-S-A” and “Country First” over the course of two hours, there was not a great deal of enthusiasm during the first full night of the Republican National Convention. In addition, having watched most of the DNC convention last week, the organization and overall execution were certainly not matched by the Republican party this election year. 

The lack of enthusiasm was reflected most obviously in President Bush’s brief and carefully constructed speech. I’m not sure what the political pundits are saying right now, but it seemed to me that the speech was extremely forced. The President also did not really go after the Democrats, aside from a few small jabs like referring to the “angry left.” The concise nature of the President’s speech has not gone unnoticed by the media, who have indicated that the McCain campaign has taken pains to distance themselves from the sitting President, who is largely unpopular amongst most Americans. 

The surprise speaker of the night was Fred Thompson, not because he wasn’t scheduled, but because he was more energetic than everyone who preceded him. Thompson had some interesting lines in trying to make the case that John McCain was made up of “rebellion and honor.” Perhaps the most out of place line was when Fred Thompson explained that McCain drove a “Corvette and dated a girl who worked in a bar as an exotic dancer under the name of Marie, the Flame of Florida.” Thompson also focused a great deal of time in detailing out John McCain’s extremely painful and heroic ordeal as a POW during the Vietnam War. During these moments, the audience seemed somber, especially the many Veterans that sat in the audience.  

He made several jabs towards Obama, likening him to someone who “talked a good deal on the Sunday talk shows and frequented the Washington cocktail circuit.” However, nothing was much of a surprise, it was really the typical “Obama is a talker, not a reformer” rhetoric. He also warned of the protectionism, higher taxes and expansive bureaucracy if Obama were elected and made fun of the lack of Progress made by the sitting democratically controlled congress. In some ways, it was disappointing, because I expected the Republicans to have some fresh new ideas, but this was not the case. In the same vein, while Thompson did do McCain justice by describing his character, he failed to impart why McCain’s service, would translate to being the best choice for President. 

Then, it was on to the keynote speaker,  Joseph Lieberman, a former Democrat turned Independent.  From the get go, Lieberman failed to engage the audience, and only received applause when he uttered a positive statement about John McCain’s service.  Lieberman, like Thompson, touched on McCain’s history of being a reformer and standing up to political lobbies and even in some cases taking on the Republican establishment. However, as he continued to speak, it almost seemed that McCain, the maverick, reformer etc. didn’t belong to to the Republican party, but rather that he was an Independent, running under the guise of ‘Republican’. By this point in the night, the convention hall in St. Paul seemed like a diffused balloon, as the camera panned across delegates, looking off into space or half-heartedly waving signs emblazoned with “COUNTRY FIRST” on one side. Unfortunately for Lieberman, he did not make a strong case for McCain’s run for the presidency. The only issue he touched on forcefully was the surge in Iraq, which was successful, but at a recognized cost. (See Iraq War Posts on this blog).

Overall, unlike last week, when the Democrats were able to deliver consistent and cohesive messages, the Republican party seemed to flounder. On the second night of the convention, there were no energizing speakers who appealed to the base, but rather a group of scattered speakers who failed to deliver for John McCain. 

Update: In a commentary by Carl Bernstein regarding the theme of last night’s Republican convention, it seemed that he felt strongly that the subtle references to the “angry left” and continual reference to patriotism should be concerning to the Democrats because these are the same tactics that were used to elect Bush 43, in 2000 and 2004.

I agree with Bernsteins’s article because from the haunting video about American’s and service to the detailed account of John McCain’s time in a torture camp, it seems as if they were trying to put forth the notion that he was in fact more in line with “America.” However, as I noted above, the almost feverish appeal of “USA” and “COUNTRY FIRST” chants that took over the room, was eerie, since the population of the room was not representative of a modern-day America.

Here’s the article: http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/03/bernstein.rnc/index.html 

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Written by Veena

September 3, 2008 at 5:18 am

SPIN!

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Update 9/3: Looks like the McCain campaign thought they were being treated unfairly because Campbell Brown, asked them a question. As a result, Larry King Live will no longer get the McCain/ Palin interview. More on this story here: http://www.broadcastingcable.com/CA6592163.html

 

Original Post:

The McCain campaign’s spokesman, Tucker Bounds, was surprisingly grilled on CNN by Campbell Brown. Definitely watch the entire thing because she tries to hold his feet to the fire, because he actually failed to answer a single question that she asked with a direct response. Instead, his response throughout the 7 minute interview was to deflect her questions and respond in the negative about the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. 

However, throughout the whole interview, Tucker Bounds is unable to articulate clearly whether Sarah Palin meets the McCain campaign’s high standard for foreign policy experience, which they have so aggressively applied to Barack Obama in the summer months of the campaign. 

This is a departure from the traditional interviews that CNN anchors usually conduct with political strategists and campaign representatives. Moreover, it does continue to highlight how ill-eqiupped the McCain campaign is to respond to specific questions about their VP candidate. It will be interesting to see how the campaign represents Palin to the general public during the Republican National Convention this week.

Written by Veena

September 2, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Polar Opposites

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 Senator McCain has chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate. This move seems to indicate that McCain’s campaign has hitched their success in this election to the Hillary Clinton supporters that are still angry and unwilling to accept Barack Obama as their Presidential candidate. However, Sarah Palin is quite possibly the polar opposite of Hillary Clinton.

If the McCain camp tries to tap the experience issue, then Sarah Palin’s time as city council member and mayor of a small time, and brief executive experience as governor (less than 2 years) is not going to quell voters concerns. In fact, it might raise more concerns about whether the McCain administration is ready for the hard work that awaits them in the White House. This is especially true because she thus far doesn’t seem to have any major foreign policy or national security experience.

If the McCain camp is trying to appeal to women’s rights, well then Sarah Palin is definitely not their lady, because she is pro-life and an active member of Feminists for Life

Oh, she also opposes same-sex marriage and is in favor of drilling in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge. 

The strategy on selecting Palin is still unclear to me, but from just a few minutes of research, it is clear that she is going to find it challenging to debate Senator Biden on national security, foreign policy and perhaps even economic issues. In addition, several the country with a serious question – if McCain could not serve, is America willing to take the risk on this one-term governor as the next President of the United States? This seems to be the contention in the media as well.

It will be an interesting election moving forward, but I certainly don’t see any Hillary supporters moving over to this camp, because Sarah Palin’s social values are so distinctly different. In fact, the selection of a candidate who is so far removed from Hillary’s beliefs, might have helped bring those on the fence, back to Obama’s side.

Written by Veena

August 29, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Patriots

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Last night, those of us who watched the Democratic National Convention had the opportunity to witness many of our senior statesman (and women) speak. I think that one speech that deserves special attention is John Kerry’s speech. First, this was perhaps one of the most powerful speeches of the night, and it is unfortunate that major cable networks did not cover the entire thing because every American should have heard his words. He made it clear to anyone who has tried to use the libelous argument that Barack and Michelle Obama are somehow less patriotic is completely unfair and inaccurate.He reminded us of the way in which the 2004 campaign was swallowed by mistruths and underhanded techniques that undermine the integrity of both the election and Americans in general. 

In addition, he also showed how “Candidate” McCain is not in step with Senator McCain. The policy proposals and even legislation that Senator McCain supported in terms of alternative energy strategies and immigration are things that he no longer supports. Interesting, “flip flops” that have been overlooked.

If you are interested, this is a great speech to watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dO2PAm4iCtE

Unfortunately, major news networks like CNN only aired part of Kerry’s speech and provided political commentary over some very important remarks. Perhaps, if they are going to be the “Best Political Team on Television” (Wolf Blitzer’s words, not mine), then they should actually pay attention to ALL of the speakers?

Written by Veena

August 28, 2008 at 7:36 pm

Whose not TOUGH ENOUGH?

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Rudy Giuliani was quoted yesterday as saying that the Democrats less prepared to deal with terrorism and the Iraq War. Thats rather suspect, since its a Republican administration who has had 7 years, since September 11th, 2001 to go after the actual criminals, failed. Instead, they (the Bush administration) falsified evidence by lying about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and then went to war in a country that had absolutely nothing to do with the terrorist attacks that befell New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon. 

The Bush administration, using nearly no intelligence and having no knowledge of the tensions amongst Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, invaded Iraq, deposed Sadam Hussein and installed an interim government that made room for a destructive civil war. At the same time, they continued to underfund the war in Afghanistan and FAILED to capture Osama Bin Laden, who was responsible for the attacks. Not only that, the Republican administration who sent our troops to war, didn’t even provide them with the proper armor. More than 4000 Americans have died in the Iraq War alone, and somehow President Bush and Senator McCain attempt to pacify the angry masses, instead of admitting that they FAILED our troops. As Ted Kennedy said the other night, “young Americans in uniform must never be committed to a mistake, but always for a mission worthy of their bravery.”

Another talking point for the Republican party has been the surge. The surge was successful, but what most Americans don’t know, is that in order for the surge to work, the American forces had to pit Sunnis and Shiites against one another, and bring the Sunnis to the American side. While this might have posed a military solution in the short-term, even General Patreaus had said that the surge had put into place, a precarious peace, that could be toppled at any time. 

None of these statements are inaccurate, and yet the Republican party is somehow disillusioned to think that they are better equipped to go to war. 

Rudy Giuliani and many others obsess over how experienced John McCain is. Well if he’s so experienced, how come he doesn’t even know where Iraq is on a map? Why does he continue to confuse Sunnis and Shiites? Is this the COMMANDER in CHIEF that we want? Someone who could be in serious negotiations, and make a huge political gaffe, that affects millions of lives? If Giuliani thinks thats strength on terror, then I fear for the future of this country. That type of incompetence, regardless of your military background is not acceptable.

Moreover, aside from this bout in Vietnam, McCain does not seem to be very comfortable with foreign policy matters. As it looks, war is no longer a viable option, both economically and feasibly, as more and more of our troops survive tour after tour and the recruiting levels for all parts of the military have decreased substantially over time. In that case, McCain will need to be a statesman, a diplomat, someone who can negotiate, understand the nuances of issues and be able to work with an array of leaders that might either be our allies or our current adversaries. This doesn’t sound like the politics that McCain is going to practice, not with Karl Rove’s protege by his side. McCain is not ready to be a negotiator, not the commander-in-chief for the next generation of Americans. 

McCain might have been tough enough, when he went to war. But the tough stuff that will make a President in our generation will be a keen intellect and understanding of the issues, a persuasive auditory style, open-mindedness among others. This is much more like the tough stuff that Barack Obama will bring to the Presidency.

Written by Veena

August 27, 2008 at 5:30 pm

Dear Hillary Supporters

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The Clintons have come under a considerable amount of fire over the last few months leading up the Democratic Convention. People have accused both Hillary and Bill Clinton of being sore losers and wanting to hold on their political dynasty. What I think the press is forgetting or conveniently overlooking is that 18 million people DID vote for Hillary Clinton. While the media has been obsessed with badgering the Clintons over their sore loser status, they more often than not, fail to mention that millions of Americans identified with Mrs. Clinton and wanted to see her as the next President of the United States. 

If you take a look at message boards after Barack Obama’s announcement that Joe Biden was going to be his VP, there were so many angry Hillary supporters who lashed out against this choice. While the likelihood that a Obama-Clinton ticket was small to begin with, there were still many who had hoped that this historic election would allow for both the first African American and first woman to hold the highest positions of leadership in our government. 

With that said, I too, supported Hillary in the primary, but at NO time, since she suspended her campaign in June, did I think that I would vote for John McCain as the next president. If you are a Hillary supporter, than you believe in supporting women and children’s rights through a strong educational system and a woman’s right to choose. You believe in universal health care and that the government does have a role in all of these areas, among others. You also believe that offshore drilling is NOT the answer to our energy security issues and tax cuts for corporations and the richest echelon of our society, are not logical and fair to the lower and middle class in this country.  You believe that there should be a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, and that our soldiers should come home. Why? These are some of the core values of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Now, if you look across the two candidates, John McCain does not believe in ANY of the things that Hillary Clinton stood for. So if you vote for McCain, then its almost a slap in the face to Hillary because, after everything, she is still a public servant, fighting for those same issues in the Senate. However, with a President like McCain, you will not assist her in advocating for the very issues, that she would have carried as a President. In fact, you will make more difficult for her to help people in this country because McCain is not going to be the type of leader who will fight for ordinary Americans. He is known to “shoot from the hip” and is so inconsistent, constantly changing his message to fit the Republican party base. 

Hillary supporters – you have a right to be angry and disappointed in the results. However, the reality is that Obama did win the primary election. It was a tough election, there were mistakes on both sides, but in the end, his victory is a fact. It was not a stolen election, like in 2000 with Al Gore and W, it was a hard fought and extremely close battle.

However, the likes of Jack Cafferty, every FOX news reporter and so many more are obsessed with only taking the view that the Clintons are looking to upstage our future President. If you continue to feed into this media frenzy, then the Democrats, do look divided, and we have a bigger chance of losing the most precious opportunity we have for really changing this country. 

I sincerely hope that you will choose to look beyond the primary battle, and look to the future of this country as you make a choice, because too many people are looking for the Democrats to fail.

Written by Veena

August 26, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Check your facts Mr. Beck

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The other day, CNN’s Glenn Beck wrote an article about poverty entitled “The poverty of Democrats’ ideas for cities” in urban America. Mr. Beck’s argument was that urban areas with high poverty concentrations are in their current state of affairs because the majority of their mayors have been Democrats. He comes to the conclusion that if Republicans were voted into office, poverty would somehow be reduced. Essentially this diatribe against Democratic mayors is misled and poorly argued.

 Mr. Beck fails to recognize the complex nature of poverty in urban America. He fails to include a fair and balanced analysis of other factors that might contribute to poverty in urban cities like lack of access to quality education, healthcare and other resources. Many of these social services are often supported by Democrats, but not by Republicans. Moreover, the lack of human capital (in terms of skilled workers) also deters businesses from investing in urban centers, especially when it comes to manufacturing jobs. Many of these jobs were at the core of city employment, especially the Midwestern cities that Beck touches on. 

I went to school in Pittsburgh, where steel mining was one of the major industries, until business went elsewhere, which severely depressed the area, and some parts of Pittsburgh have never recovered. However, this means that both the public and private organizations in these cities need to work together to foster investment and growth and support education and social services, in order to have enough human capital to balance out the investments. 

Mr. Beck’s argument also fails to analyze factors like;  the number of Republican/Democrat city council members, how tax increases/decreases might have affected the budgets and whether economic downturns or federal and state level policies might have negatively impacted cities. (The Detroit Free Press’ article on urban poverty does a good job of looking at some of the issues and solutions.)

Finally, Mr. Beck continues to wage war against Newark. Perhaps if he paid closer attention, he would see that Cory Booker, who was elected in 2006, has made significant strides in trying to combat poverty, crime and rebuild the education system in Newark. In fact, Cory Booker is being recognized as a pioneer in the fight to rebuild Newark, not as Mr. Beck assumes, another cog in the democratic wheel of poverty.

Moreover, even a city like New York, where Mayor Bloomberg has been touted as being a fairly successful mayor, still has a poverty rate of 21%.   

This is simply another example of a media personality whose lens is so focused on the divisive nature of American politics that he has failed to see the bigger picture. Urban poverty is an extremely complex issue, and yes, a large responsibility does rely on the mayors of the various cities. It is appalling and devastating that so many in the United States are living below the poverty line. However, that is not a call to arms for Republican mayors, it is a call to arms for public officials and each citizen of this country to think about what they can do to improve this situation. It doesn’t have to be in donations, it can be through volunteering or voting. 

Glenn Beck might think that Republicans are better equipped to manage poverty. However, after seeing the way the top Republicans in this country have mismanaged our tax dollars, which could have gone to federal programs like Head Start, squander it in an unjust war, it does not seem likely that anything will change at the local level. Poverty is not a red or blue issue, its an issue that does affect everyone, but Democrats are much better poised to handle this issue because they actually have been fighting for the rights of the people who are so disenfranchised in this country. 

Mr. Beck – do your homework would you? 

 

 

Here are some real facts about poverty in the United States: 

1. According to the 2005 US census bureau statistics, nearly 40 million Americans live below the poverty line. 

2. 24% of American families make less than $30,000 a year. (US census bureau) 

3. According to the Detroit Free Press “Nearly 40 million Americans are officially poor — meaning an annual income of less than $16,000 for a family of three. Eight in 10 of them live in urban areas.”  

 

 

More Resources: 

* http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/08s0672.pdf

* http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080217/OPINION01/802170547

Written by Veena

August 25, 2008 at 5:43 pm