Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘craps

The Bailout, Bristol Palin, and More

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A tenatative deal has been reached on the bailout, with House Republicans still making noise that they may scuttle it. Krugman, for his part, says it’s “good enough”—hardly a ringing endorsement, but perhaps as good as we’re likely to get in the middle of an election season with Bush still president. McCain, for his part, suggests he might not bother to show up to vote, driving home once again the absurdity of last week’s campaign-suspension spectacle.

(For which Saturday Night Live mocked him without mercy this weekend, I should add.)

The chaos in the markets, the transparent campaign-suspension nonsense, and a strong showing from Obama in the debate seem to have conspired to put the election even farther out of McCain’s reach with just 36 days to go until Election Day (and early voting already open in many locations around the country). The tracking polls all have him up by five or more, with three of them showing Obama cracking 50%, and the state polls look very strong. The Senate races are going well too, though as Nate Silver projects it’s probably still unlikely that the Democrats will get 60 in the Senate.

How will McCain recover? If you said “ridiculous stunt,” you’re right! The Times of London reports that Bristol Palin may get married before Nov. 4.

In an election campaign notable for its surprises, Sarah Palin, the Republican vice- presidential candidate, may be about to spring a new one — the wedding of her pregnant teenage daughter to her ice-hockey-playing fiancé before the November 4 election.

Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”

Boggles the mind. I don’t even think the odds are especially good that a Palin-Johnston wedding would help their campaign—putting aside questions of Palin’s rapidly diminishing credibility as a candidate, this is a 17-year-old girl who has already been nationally humiliated once. I look at this situation and what I see is a shotgun wedding whose timetable is being set less by love or lasting commitment than by the mother’s electoral calculus. Let me be clear: I’m not speaking about the merits of the wedding itself, on which I have no perspective and no comment, but rather about the drive to make a spectacle out of his girl’s life, which strikes me as deeply tragic on the one hand and as an ugly circus on the other. I really don’t think I’m alone in this.

I (honestly) hate to even blog about this, and I’m pretty damn cutthroat when it comes to Republicans and electoral politics. These two kids should just be left alone.

So, to cut this discussion blessedly short, I think the odds are a wedding stunt would backfire badly. But then again I suppose bad odds never stopped a gambler.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 29, 2008 at 12:57 pm

After the Flood

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Trying to puzzle out John McCain’s motive for the campaign suspension stunt is proving rather difficult. A lot of people are looking to Palin, both her disastrous Katie Couric interview and the repeated suggestion that hey, you know, we could just cancel the VP debate. (On the margins, Palin’s so-called “preacher problem” is also showing up in these discussions; she definitely loses the secular progressive swing vote with this one.) Or maybe, others venture, he’s trying to cover up his own lack of debate preparation. Still other people think he may be trying to keep the Rick Davis story out of the papers, as there’s now word that Rick Davis didn’t sever his relationship with his lobbying firm and is in fact still listed as one of its only two officers. And a lot of people just point to the polls—witness as just one example a Rasmussen poll that now puts Obama ahead right here in North Carolina (!). Or maybe we should just bring it all back, as Steve Benen does, to the fundamental question that recurs about so much of John McCain’s gambles: cynicism, or risk addiction?

Whatever it is, it’s worth noting that McCain has pulled this very stunt at least twice before.

Reactions have been legion, almost all of them negative, but Noam Scheiber in particular is on fire with posts that suggest just how badly this may backfire on McCain, comparing it first to a form of political hari-kari and then pointing out elsewhere the way in which the gambit automatically defeats itself:

“Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative.”

Clinton Global Intiative > financial crisis > longstanding-to-the-point-of-sacred tradition of nationally televised presidential debate? This will not stand.

McCain Wants to Cancel the Debate?

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McCain wants to cancel the debate? What?

Republican John McCain said Wednesday he was suspending his White House campaign and asked to put off Friday’s presidential debate over the nation’s financial crisis.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 24, 2008 at 7:02 pm

Saturday Politics

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On the politics front, the new GOP line (apparently) is that Sarah Palin isn’t ready to be president after all—yet.

I’m certain that over the next couple of weeks the press will be pounding her and the campaign wanting to know where the access is. There’ll be a lot of process stories about why isn’t she talking to reporters. There’ll be a lot of noise that voters, frankly, don’t really care about—and as frustrated as the press is gonna be it’s a smart move by the campaign because, like I said, voters don’t really care about these process stories, but if she goes out and makes a mistake, that is something that [voters will] care about, and that’s something that will haunt [McCain] for awhile, so I think this is a smart move.

GOP strategist Todd Harris goes on to say that she’ll be getting prepped for as long as two weeks before she talks to anyone in the media. The Jed Report says it best:

This has got to be one of the craziest messaging decisions ever: Harris is conceding that Palin’s not even ready to be a vice presidential candidate, let alone be president.

Kevin Drum, too:

The McCain campaign is scared to death. They knew nothing about Palin before they announced her, they relied on a cursory vetting process that has turned out to be shot full of holes, they realize now that she has no settled views on any issue of national importance and could blurt out anything at any time, and they’re terrified about what might crop up next. So they’re keeping her in the deep freeze.

Has it really come to this? The absolute lack of confidence McCain has in his own pick to be vice president is mind-boggling; the absurdity of this past week truly marks a singular event in the history of our Republic, and if things go wrong it’ll be probably be used (alongside Florida 2000) to mark the start of its final decline.

This is monarchism, not democracy. A candidate for office needs to be accountable to the voters, not to a vague mish-mash of identitarian buzzwords. If we as a nation passively accept the Palin candidacy, if we demand nothing more than this from the Republicans or from ourselves, then American democracy is simply dead.

(Of course, a candidate should also be trusted to talk about something other than their own love of self, but we’re sitting by and letting John McCain fail that test, too.)

In more positive news, at least Joe Biden continues to win my respect. Give ’em hell, Joe.

RNC Day 2 Preview

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I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the seriousness with which the mainstream media has handled John McCain’s veepstakes roll of the dice: there’s negative pieces on the poorly vetted, poorly thought-out selection in the New York Times, Washington Post, and L.A. Times today. However, I’m not hopeful this attitude of diligence and responsibility will last past tonight—Palin’s ability to read a speech to an adoring crowd will be taken as “proof” that she’s ready to take over as president if something happens to John McCain. (And yes, thank you, I’m already fully aware of the irony.)

I had high hopes the caught-flat-footed Lieberman video I uploaded last night would go viral and destroy McCain’s credibility for all time. That hasn’t happened (yet!), but so far it has been picked up by Washington Monthly / CBS Online, Cynical-C, and Crooks and Liars. Alongside the Daily Kos diary I hope that means it’s catching some eyes. It’s an incredibly revealing, damning, and best of all self-inflicted indictment of McCain’s gamble from one of his top supporters; I can’t say enough good things about it. Show it to anyone you can.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 3, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Morning Links

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Morning links.

* The protests in St. Paul turned violent yesterday, with police tear-gassing the crowd.

They had come in their thousands – grandmothers, veterans, young families and even disgruntled Republicans bearing banners and peace flags, to demand an end to the five-year conflict. And for the most part, the demonstrations passed off peacefully.

But once the main antiwar march had finished, splinter groups embarked on a violent rampage, smashing windows, slashing car tyres, throwing bottles and even attacking Republican delegates attending the nearby Xcel Centre.

Many of those involved identified themselves to reporters as anarchists. These protesters, some clad in black, wreaked havoc by damaging property and starting at least one fire.

* Washington Monthly has a nice pair of posts detailing the entire Sarah Palin fiasco so far, if you haven’t been following the coverage closely here and elsewhere. And for a good articulation of the gambling frame I’ve been pushing as the best way to understand John McCain, see Josh Marshall.

* Barack Obama loves science and science funding.

* Google releases its long-awaited browser, Chrome, tomorrow. MetaFilter’s talking about it.

* Neal Stephenson and the 10,000-Year Clock. There’s more Stephenson links at MeFi.

* “The Night Gwen Stacy Died”: The End of Innocence and the Birth of the Bronze Age.

The Sarah Palin Chronicles

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More and more evidence mounts that the McCain camp didn’t actually vet Palin at all. They didn’t read a single article in the Wasilla newspaper, and they didn’t talk to Walt Monegan, the man at the center of her still open abuse of power ethics investigation—nor, apparently, did they talk to anyone else. They’ve been pushing as one of her few notable accomplishments her opposition to the “Bridge to Nowhere,” which has turned out to be, well, bullshit. Nearly recalled as mayor, she left the small town of Wasilla over $20 million dollars in debt. That’s after she tried to censor the town library and fire long-time town employees without cause for “not fully supporting her efforts to govern.”

Oh, and her husband works for BP, one of the largest employers in Alaska, which is not in any way a conflict of interest.

And those are just the highlights. Given all this, I get a sinking feeling when I see how much attention the already ubiquitous, totally moronic baby smear is getting. Even Andrew Sullivan is pushing it now, though he’s careful to hedge his bets. That’s just not a basket in which I want to put Barack’s eggs; it’s the raw irresponsibility of John McCain’s cynical and poorly thought-out VP pick—a roll of the dice from a chronic gambler—that we should be talking about, not whether a seventeen-year-old girl does or doesn’t have a “baby bump” in a given photo.

The Juno/Juneau parody poster on Gawker made me laugh, but that’s the only upside here. I don’t think we’d want anything to do with the baby thing even if by some impossible chance it all turns out to be true.

John McCain says he made this decision because he looked into Putin’s Palin’s eyes the one time they met and saw a soul mate. The only thing we should be saying about Palin is that this is not the way to make the most important decision of your candidacy. The Palin pick is stone-cold proof that John McCain has neither the judgment nor the temperament to be president.

So leave her kids alone. Keep your heads on straight, netroots.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 31, 2008 at 11:44 pm

Last Words on Palin

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Last words for a while on Palin.

* Andrew Sullivan of all people has been absolutely brutal, all day, hitting just about every objection to Palin in order. He’s also pushing the gambling meme, which I’m convinced is the key frame through which to view this very reckless, lunatic choice.

* More gambling: Dan Gerstein, a former adviser to Sen. Joe Lieberman, in the New York Daily News:

“In picking an unknown, untested, half-a-term woman governor from Alaska to be his running mate, John McCain is following in a long line of reckless men who have rolled the dice for a beauty queen. Except in this case, McCain is taking one of the biggest, boldest gambles in modern American political history.”

Sometimes you have to roll the hard six?

* Sullivan and Ben Smith together point out the worst vetting lapse I’ve heard thus far, that Palin supported Pat Buchanan for president in 1996 and 1999. That’s mind-boggling. Was she vetted at all?

* Maybe not: as of Sunday, he’d still wanted Lieberman, and the final decision was only made last night.

* Ezra’s been good today too, particularly on the cable news coverage.

* Robert Elisburg’s verdict: The Worst Vice-Presidential Nominee in U.S. History.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 30, 2008 at 4:06 am

Cynicism or Risk Addiction?

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A text message from an old friend raises a question about my last post, in which I called the Palin selection the most “cynically short-sighted, purely news-cycle-motivated choice in presidential politics history.” Echoing Pat Buchanan, he asks:

Cynicism or risk addiction?

It’s certainly not the first time questions have been raised about McCain and high-stakes craps.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 29, 2008 at 6:53 pm