Setting the Record Straight

August 29, 2008

McCain’s Balancing Act

Don’t Be Too Obvious, John

     John McCain, in a move as cynical as it is obvious, has chosen Sarah Palin, Republican governor of Alaska, as his running mate this fall.
     One can only wonder whom else he would have selected had Barack Obama not chosen Joe Biden.

McCain/Palin                       Obama/Biden               The Balance
Wh. male/wh. female.           Bl. male/wh. male        Minority m./female
Experience/first term             First term/experience   Exper./little exp.
Washington/outsider             Little Wash./Wash.      Wash./non-Wash. Ariz./noncontig. state            Noncontig. state/Del.   That foreign feeling
Ages 72 & 44 = 116              47 & 66 (11/20) = 113  Age/Youth            
Celeb. looks (beauty queen)   Celebrity status          Sycophantic youth  Shooter/Shootee                   Not hunters                 NRA types/not 

     Picking a female, of course, is intended to attract Hillary Clinton’s disappoint and disaffected supporters, assuming many of them actually exist. All the blogs and e-mails smell of another political dirty trick fostered by the GOP.
     A female on the ticket also is intended to balance Obama’s obvious black heritage/white mixture, possibly attracting some one other than the traditional white males.
     Alaska was a curious move, and probably not intended to balance the Democrats and their Hawaii-born candidate with someone from the only other noncontiguous state, both of them admitted in the 1950s.
     And finally, choosing someone even younger than Obama is intended to help defray the age issue, even though the selection of Biden already had defused that issue somewhat.
     The big difference is: McCain appears to have chosen a running mate purely for campaign purposes and not someone who would be much help in running the country should he win; Obama chose someone who could be a great help in running the country, and not so much in winning a campaign.

     Remember the elder George Bush’s selection in 1988 when he wanted to balance his age with youthful charm? We ended up with Dan Quayle as our disastrous vice president—for one term.



August 23, 2008

Biden Was Best for President,

Is Best for Vice President

     As occupants of front-row seats for decades of D.C. doings, we have watched Joe Biden grow from someone who matured from simply playing at being a member of Congress to being a major player in world politics. He should be allowed to be an even bigger player.
     As much as Democrats love their candidate, Barack Obama, his biggest lack and his main Achilles’ heel in the upcoming campaign is his lack not only of experience, but also knowledge of foreign affairs.
     The replacement for the boob in the White House has a major mess to clean up over the next four to eight years, but he can stumble through on the domestic front —there are plenty of people who can help him out.
     In foreign affairs, the country needs not only to extricate itself from Iraq, do the right job in Afghanistan and finish it, it needs to restore its credibility around the world and demonstrate this is not really a nation of bumbling fools. And the nation needs to act with the greatest authority possible.
     Biden, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is in a position to hit the ground running as vice president to establish and lead a foreign-affairs team to get busy and right all the Bush administration wrongs.
     As Vladimir Putin has demonstrated in arranging to sidestep the Russian constitution and hang on to power for eight more years, and the invasion he led into Georgia to nip off its Russian-speaking sections, he has delusions of grandeur and perhaps illusions of Cold War II. His arguments for Georgia could easily be applied to Ukraine, which is half Russian-speaking, and who knows where else.
     Biden also has demonstrated a deep knowledge of all the other foreign-affairs issues the nation will face in the coming years, inside and outside of the Middle East and Eastern Europe, and has the respect of his peers abroad.
     As a senator for 36 years, he also has a background depth on the major domestic issues the nation has faced and the maturity that Obama seriously lacks. Biden has served in the past as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and could be a treasured adviser with that background.
     We all know that with tabloid-cable, bloggers and e-mail swappers, this is going to be the nastiest campaign period in U.S. history. Biden played around a bit when he first came to Congress, but suffered an early family tragedy that appeared to turn him around and cause him to focus more seriously on life.
     Yes, he makes speaking gaffes and overstates his own works that will be exploited to the hilt in this day of gotcha media, but he has been around long enough he should be able to weather a serious probe into his past.
     But for Oprah and Iowa, Biden might have had a chance to last long enough in the presidential primaries to be choosing his own vice president at this point.
     Whom better to have sitting a heartbeat away than a man who fits Obama’s wise description of the right person for the job: “I want somebody who’s independent, somebody who can push against my preconceived notions and challenge me so we have a robust debate in the White House.”


May 23, 2008

Introducing Bobby Jindal–A McCain Coup?



          The speculation about who will be John McCain’s vice presidential candidate has begun. The New York Times reports that three possible candidates have been invited to McCain’s Phoenix place Memorial Day weekend.
On the Times’ list were Mitt Romney, presumably there to assuage the right wing of the Republican Party, and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a political nobody on the national scene who presumably would be a generic sidekick unlikely to ruffle GOP feathers. It was the third name that interested us. As a reporter we spent many hours covering Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal over the course of just over a year when he was director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare.

          Jindal’s highest political achievement before that had been head his native Louisiana’s health department at the age of 24. That is less surprising considering he finished high school at 16 and became a Rhodes scholar.
His genius and abilities became clear over the course of the commission’s work, which was to assess the status of the Medicare system and recommend solutions to its financial problems lurking in the future. It took a genius to handle the super-egos of the commission members, a third of them members of Congress. He did so with aplomb and was able to massage a final report in 1999 that managed to balance all of the partisan tugs and pulls he faced.
Through it all, he was a personable, helpful and available leader who astounded with his grasp of the issues and encyclopedic mind, a reminder of the high intelligence of fellow Rhodes scholar Bill Clinton. It is not Jindal’s fault the report, still considered the bible of Medicare, did not move to any great action by Congress and the administrations that followed. Nothing will be done long-term about either Medicare or Social Security because our system of government does not encourage long-term solutions.

          The selection of Jindal would be a political coup McCain badly needs. Jindal is a conservative Republican, but the stereotype ends there. He is a dark-skinned individual who surmounted politics in Louisiana, probably because he was born in 1971 in Baton Rouge of immigrants from India, which makes him less black but dark enough to make McCain’s candidacy less white against a Barack Obama challenger and one likely to help carry a state that helped give Obama the Democratic nomination. Jindal was not even old enough to serve as vice president two years ago, giving McCain some balance on the age issue that already dogs him and a counter to Obama’s youth.
Jindal also brings an expertise to a GOP presidential candidate weak in the area of health care, which undoubtedly will emerge as one of the major issues of the fall campaign. Regardless of whether he makes McCain’s cut, keep an eye on this fellow.



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