Well, there were a lot of sweaty palms in my Democratic-minded New Jersey town, but Obama, in the end, carried it off, putting a fitting and dramatic capper on this most dramatic of election seasons. I ended up, Election Night, at a party where most present were drinking the odd concoction of ginger beer and rum, causing numerous sugary hangovers the next day, no doubt, but also leading to high spirits. Each time the CNN would call a state for Obama, applause broke out, and occasionally someone
Tuesday, November 4, dawned warm and grey-ish here in New Jersey, but now (1 pm) we have a little quiet sun filtering down. Last night my daughter Carson had a sleepover here with her friend Emma (both girls are 9) and the whispering and giggling went on until after midnight. My wife and I rose groggily at 6 AM--of course, the girls were already awake. No school today, so the plan was for my wife to vote, then head into NYC to work while I took the girls with me to vote. Emma's mother and fathe
Well, it has at last arrived, ladies and gerts, Election Day eve. Following so close upon Halloween, and having its own contingent of dirty tricks, Election Day always reminds me of that spookiest of holidays. Down the street from me in my little and solidly Democratic New Jersey town, a woman has planted several "Democrats for McCain" signs (huh?) on her front lawn, only to see them repeatedly torn down, just one local sign of election nastiness. I see that today she has planted anoth
Well, Obama's half an hour last night was not as excruciating as it could have been. Definitely slick and well-produced and it gathered power along the way, although I am inherently suspicious of any political ad which begins with waving fields of wheat. I mean, is there not another symbol for the Republic than this one? And, as with many large-scale Obama productions, there is an odd sense of grandeur not, quite, befitting a Democratic candidate.
However, one will take grandeur, even pomp
And what a long, strange trip it's been, talking at the country's colleges about dirty tricks in American politics. From Auburn to Iowa, from Massachusetts to Wyoming, with a slide show full of campaign commercials (such as the ones Errol Morris is talking about in his informative NY Times piece today) and a desire to show people that today's election is nothing compared to what was going on way back in the distant past, such as 1988!
Flashes from the road--the Libertarian party student at
Back now from Springfield, Ohio, and Covington, Kentucky, where I spoke at Wittenberg College and University of Northern Kentucky, respectively. The students and faculty at both places were great (thanks to Nate, Maureen, Casey, Alex and Josh) as were the community members who turned out to see the slide show and hear the talk.
I did not hear rabid expressions of allegiance to either party, interestingly. People are engaged by this election, but also somewhat puzzled and stunned, waiting,
The Chinese curse about living in interesting times is indeed pretty apropos right now. With the largest financial institutions crumbling around our ears, we have the sight of one presidential candidate heading to Washington to attempt to alleviate the crisis--or so he says--and another reluctantly trailing along. The first debate between John McCain and Barack Obama is scheduled for tonight, but John McCain may not show up if a bailout agreement has not been reached. And at this writing, early
I want to take a moment from campaign goings-on to comment on the tragically early death of the writer David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide on Friday on California, at the age of 46. Foster was a brilliant writer whose novels ("Infinite Jest" and "The Broom of the System") and collections of short stories and reportage were manic, multi-layered looks at contemporary society. Wallace was apparently deeply depressed. To show how politics never quite leaves us this electi
One of Barack Obama's worst tendencies, if you're a Democrat in this election season, is to turn into Adlai Stevenson, the two-time failed Democrat candidate for president in the 1950s. Stevenson, Illinois governor, was brilliant, cool, subtly ironic, wonkish, and cared deeply--and he got his ass handed to him on a platter twice by Dwight Eisenhower, the man of whom Claire Booth Luce gushingly said: "General Eisenhower exemplifies what the fair sex looks for in a man—a combination of husban
...don't you love 'em? They really do so little--Sarah Palin was right to wonder last July just what the heck the office is all about--yet in campaigns they cause so much trouble. Even John Adams, our first vice-president, spent much of his time grumbling that he got no respect. And our second vice-president, Thomas Jefferson, spent most of his time undermining President John Adams.
Democrats should take care not to crow too much over Palin's family troubles, since backlash is a wonderful
Well, who said there wouldn't be any surprises in store for us, this convention season? (I guess me, below). Certainly John McCain's pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for veep is just what the (witch) doctor ordered to perk up this unusually dull presidential race. Although Hurricane Gustav heading, with just the right touch of apocaplyse, up the Gulf Coast as I write this, has also stirred things up. (Looks like the worst has missed New Orleans, but it is truly amusing to watch Republicans scram
Matt Lauer led off the "Today Show" this AM agreeing solemnly with Meredith Vieira that, despite rumors to the contrary, there were surprises to be had at the Democratic National Convention. Turned out by surprises he meant Ted Kennedy's "dramatic" appearance, which of course could be seen coming from a mile away by everyone but, apparently, "Today's" hosts. A surprise is defined as "something nobody expects to happen," and while there were plenty of surpr
The other day's description of my little dream conversation with Obama and George Bush brought other dream sequences out of the woodwork. One friend claimed that John McCain approached him on the street and insisted he touch his skin cancer surgery scars. My friend declined. Another emailed me a startling dream he had, in which he was watching the Democratic National Convention, Hillary and Bill both on the stage together, and Hillary pulls out a gun and shoots Bill for sucking up all the atten
Woke up this AM to the strangest dream--I was standing around at a cocktail party with Barack Obama and George Bush, making small talk. Although we were indoors, Barack wore the trench coat he's been wearing in his Olympic commercials. George wore a Mr. Rogers-esque cardigan sweater. They both asked me what I was doing today and I told them I would be playing pool--I don't play pool, so the answer surprised even me. My reply caused George to let out a barking laugh and clap me on the back. Bara
The conventions are coming up soon of course and while I love a good convention as well as the next political junkie I sometimes really crave a bit of the spontaneity that characterized the good old days, even if it did mean that nominees would make their acceptance speeches at 7pm--Guam time, that is.
In the next few weeks I'll be sharing my store of information about fabled conventions of the past. I thought I'd start with 1948, the year Harry Truman would run against (and upset badly)
One of the great articles in my beloved New York Daily News yesterday was about what type of flip-flop Obama is wearing while he sojourns in Hawaii, giving rise to the impression that perhaps John McCain is right all along--the dude is a celebrity. Can you imagine anyone caring what kind of footwear, of any type, Old Mr. Wingtip is shod in?
The News also carried a column from Michael Goodwin, Hillary Alarmist, about the Clintons who, of course, are about to sucker poor Obama and suck the a
Well, it turns out to be true, at least the part about John Edwards screwing Reille Hunter, as the National Enquirer reported way back last winter, and you wonder, once again, how a supposedly smart guy can be so stupid. Not necessarily about the affair, although that's not too smart, but about the lying and the cover-up. I mean, when will these guys ever learn? And for how long can we have politicians who compartmentalize their lives in such a way? Who of these men is a whole? One suspects Edw
More fuss over John McCain accusing Barack Obama "playing the race card" recently of course, most of it quite manufactured. As Bob Herbert points out in his recent NY Times column Obama's remarks about "not looking like all those other presidents on dollar bills" was a direct response to attacks on him from the McCain faction, not something he had simply invented on the spur of the moment. This is not to say that the Obama campaign is entirely innocent of playing the race car
Finally, as we reach the dog days of August, the dogs have started barking--I had lost hope for anything really nasty going on in this doldumry presidential race, but then John McCain, down about nine points in latest polls, released his lovely anti-Obama piece, which shows the Democratic candidate refusing to visit wounded soldiers and playing basketball while (presumably?) Rome burns. The ad got a lot more play than its six paid airings (as did Lyndon Johnson's "Daisy" piece in 1964,
My apologies for not blogging more lately. I have been finishing up another book--one about castaways on deserted islands--which has placed my head in far climes and centuries. What part of me that remained in New Jersey has been dealing with the aftereffects of the severe storms which have devastated much of the county I live in, with trees falling on houses (we lost a phone line to a huge limb), power outages, and my daughter being unexpectedly out of school.
In my mental absence, the ge
Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has finally clinched it for the Democrats, after the longest priimary season in history, after twenty debates with his opponent Hillary Clinton, after raising more money than any presidential candidate in history--and it's about time. Primary fatigue has set in in the last month with almost everyone I've spoken to, Democrat or Republican, who feel that it is now time for the two parties to turn their attention to each other.
Obama still has some house-clean
Michael Goodwin of the New York Daily News, who has been writing a series of rather hysterical anti-Hillary columns, today published responses from readers who agree with his take that Clinton, in her remarks about the 1968 Robert Kennedy assassination, was really talking about a possible Obama hit.
Interesting, several doctors weighed in:
"This was an encoded/unconscious death wish toward Obama. It was not even thinly disguised."
Joseph Reppen, Ph.D., ABPP
Some people have asked me why I seem to take such great delight in the good old days of American presidential dirty tricks--bagmen delivering satchels full of dough in the 1880s, Al Smith being roundly dismissed as a druken papist, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon bugging their opponents campaigns.
I guess it's because these seem like real, old-fashioned, in-your-face-red-blooded-American dirty tricks, as opposed to the game of "gotcha" we've been playing lately. The whole brouha
Well, the first real salvo of the 2008 general election has been fired and I, for one, am frankly glad to see it. Like a lot of people I have gotten extremely bored with the infighting among the Democrats and even though Hillary is all but gone, I had assumed it would be some time before we got to the donkeys and the elephants going at it trunk and tail.
But our president can always be counted on, can't he? His calling Barack Obama the Neville Chamberlain of the Mideast is the beginning of
Although Hillary is soldiering on, it seems the end of this extended Democratic primary season is nearly upon us. Many have decried the nasty politics waged, especially by the Hillary camp, but, by comparison with past primary seasons, it was almost nothing. Some underhanded electioneering by Hillary supporters in North Carolina, where they pretended to register black voters, a few attack ads by both sides, nasty comments during debates--really, how bad was that?
It was certainly nothing c