Thursday, August 28, 2008

The end of John McCain

I know I try to steer away from politics on this blog, but in my professional schlub opinion, I think that McCain is toast after tonight.

Barack Obama gave a mature, reasoned, nuanced speech that made all the arguments against him wilt. I have no idea what John McCain is going to say at the GOP convention next week... but he won't say anything as smart as what Obama said tonight. (After all, what can he say? He's wedded himself to George W. Bush on all the important stuff. For better or worse, as they say.)

I think Obama's address tonight comes at the tail end of a very, very good convention for Democrats. While I had my misgivings on the first two nights, I thought Michelle Obama really knocked one out of the park. And John Kerry, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden all rose to the occasion. (Especially Kerry! Who knew?)

Moreover, I think that Obama's handlers played things very shrewdly in how they structured this convention -- for two reasons.

1) I think it was very smart to announce Joe Biden's pick two days before the convention.

There was no way Obama was going to pick HRC to be his vice president. There was too much bad blood and there's too much drama dealing with the Clintons. (If he picked her he would have immediately looked like the sort of candidate who can be bullied by his running mate. Imagine the McCain ads!)

But there was always going to be a backlash from her die hards if Hillary wasn't on the ticket. Making the pick two days before the convention did not allow for much backlash time. Everybody had to snap to action. The Clintonistas didn't have time to let the story get into the news cycle for more than a few days. Smart.

2) By letting Hillary and Bill have their heads, Obama sort of boxed them into supporting him.

What were they going to say? "Don't vote for Obama"? I don't think so. They might think Obama's going to lose... but win or lose, the Clintons want a future in the Democratic Party. If they don't at least give the appearance that they're doing everything to elect Obama they'll be blamed for the loss (mostly by people like me). By helping him win, Hillary is still viable in 2016 (provided she's up to the task). Or she can get a big portfolio in the Obama Administration. Or she could go to the Supreme Court. I didn't think HRC gave a particularly great endorsement of Obama... but her husband did. Obama got a great endorsement (which at least felt sincere) and the Clintons kept their options opened.

Very smart.

My prediction is that Tim Pawlenty is McCain's pick for VP tomorrow. Which will be a very unsatisfying pick for just about everybody in the GOP. (But Romney, Lieberman, Jindal and Crist all have liabilities that are just too overwhelming for them to get the nod. But, hey, if I'm wrong then all the better. Obama's job will be even easier.)

The convention will be a series of unending attacks on Obama. And it will give off the stale whiff of the Republican convention in 1992 -- when all they had was venom and nastiness (and unabashed bigotry -- but I don't think you'll hear out-and-out bigotry this time). They got crushed a few months later.

Well, I really hope I'm right on this!

PS - I know I've been behind on blogging... three big posts tomorrow afternoon. Maybe four.