Sunday, October 12, 2008
There were two key moments in last night’s debate. The first when Obama spoke about the chance missed by Bush to rally the nation to service after 9/11, and the second when McCain in his closing words talked about his unique qualifications of toughness in tough times—but in doing so, essentially said farewell. The moments, an hour apart, were linked by the powerful emotional undertow of an election that has little to do with the war of manufactured “gaffes,” factual distortions and outright lies that both sides have been propagating in their desperate desire to win.
As always on TV, the moments were enhanced by the cruel physicality of the screen. The received wisdom so far has been that Town Halls are better for McCain because he can loosen up and relax and make direct contact with what are nowadays called "real people.” But a Town Hall also meant the public saw a tall lithe young senator primed for the terrors of the future, against a stiff, hunched old guy hobbling around the stage in a body held together by an act of will.
Whatever compromises with the truth Obama has made on his chilly rise to the top, he understands the central zeitgeist of the moment.
During the campaign McCain has aged dramatically. Like Dorian Gray, the bargains he has made with his conscience are reflected in the mirror. He has developed a strange Jimmy Cagney rasp and new verbal eccentricities that seem to have fused the speaking styles of Bob Dole and Ross Perot. Critics have already pounced on the explosive contempt of his jab, “You know who voted for [the energy bill]? ... THAT ONE.” The younger man watched him from his Frank Sinatra stool with the look of a family visitor marveling at the antics of the household’s resident crazy uncle.
This is all horrible to those of us who once fell in love with McCain's flinty heroism and independence. It's as if he when he made the decision that fateful day on August 10th, 2004 in Pensacola, Florida to grit his teeth and bear hug Bush, he contracted a political virus that ate away at the nobility of his soul. The most telling moment in the campaign was on Monday when in Albuquerque, New Mexico, McCain shouted at the crowd, “Who is the real Barack Obama?” and an audience member yelled back, “A terrorist!” And there was a panicked look on his face that said, “My God, what have I done?”
Whatever compromises with the truth Obama has made on his chilly rise to the top, he understands the central zeitgeist of the moment. Raising 9/11 at the debate as a psychic event rather than one of national security was a masterstroke that won the day.
“You know, a lot of you remember the tragedy of 9/11 and where you were on that day,” he told the small studio audience, “and, you know, how all of the country was ready to come together and make enormous changes to make us not only safer, but to make us a better country and a more unified country. And President Bush did some smart things at the outset, but one of the opportunities that was missed was, when he spoke to the American people, he said, 'Go out and shop.' That wasn't the kind of call to service that I think the American people were looking for. And so it's important to understand that the—I think the American people are hungry for the kind of leadership that is going to tackle these problems not just in government, but outside of government.”
Right now Americans feel they are experiencing another 9/11 as the brand-name financial institutions stagger and suddenly collapse before their eyes like the World Trade Center. Obama knows that the last dark years under Bush have been about the long postponed millennium. We all knew the shopping spree Bush sent us on had to end. It has taken eight years for the unravel, but now we are there watching the structure of the past melt away. Last night a former key player at Goldman Sachs told me at a dinner party the vast infusion of capital we need can only come from China. They have trillions of our dollars. But China won't come forward unless invited with a specific request by the president. And then they will, indeed, step in. “This is coming," he said. “And it will accelerate the twenty-first century.”
Faltering economy boosts Obama
"All this talk about moose hunting! It is as though, because of the animal's enormous size and imposing antlers, bringing one down is a heroic feat of marksmanship. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Henry David Thoreau wrote in 'The Maine Woods,' killing these big, gentle, myopic creatures is more 'like going out by night to some woodside pasture and shooting your neighbor's horses.' "
The full article is at:
Let's compare two commercials. The first is an RNC spot entitled "Chicago Way", which hits Barack Obama on his connections to Tony Rezko, William Ayers and (somewhat oddly) William Daley:
This is a pretty standard negative ad. The message is essentially: "Obama's a little wet behind the ears, he might be corrupt, and he's made some poor judgments in his associates". The ad is straightforward and -- dare I say -- relatively fair. Nothing is taken out of context. In poking fun at the Chicago tradition, it even seems to have a bit of a sense of humor.
By comparison, take a look at "Dangerous" -- the most recent spot put together by the McCain campaign:
This is a much darker ad. The viewer is caught in a matrix-like web of television screens. The colors are washed out. There a sinister (although barely audible) low-pitched hum in the background. The female narrator is humorless, scolding.
It is an ad, in short, designed to engage the viewer on an emotional rather than intellectual level, to play to the subconscious mind. And that carries through to the tagline -- "Who is Barack Obama?" -- a question that the ad addresses only obliquely. What, precisely, is that supposed to mean? Shouldn't the ad be telling us who Barack Obama is, rather than asking our imaginations to run wild?
I am no advertising critic, but the McCain campaign's ads are routinely among the most bizarre that I have ever seen, appearing to originate from a sort of parallel universe in which cartoonish Obama heads float disembodied before sepia-toned backgrounds, in which language is distilled to a technocratic shorthand, in which the line between imagination and reality is blurred. I find them exceptionally disturbing, and that is surely the reaction they are meant to evoke.
Posted from fivethirtyeight.com
International food prices spiked almost 40 percent last year, indicating that the monetary price is finally catching up with the true costs of cheap food: obesity in the U.S., malnutrition in developing countries and environmental degradation everywhere. This issue is devoted to these problems and some possible solutions, many of them sprinkled throughout the essays and reports.
By MICHAEL POLLAN: What the next president can and should do to remake the way we grow and eat our food.
Obama Has Bought 30 Minutes of TV Time on Oct. 29
Barack has made a huge TV time buy--30 minutes on CBS and NBC in prime time on Oct. 29 and is negotiating for ABC and Fox. This slot would compete with game 6 of the World Series--if there is a game 6. He hasn't announced what he will say then, but given Obama's history, it is likely to be a serious, sober assessment of the country's problems and how he plans to solve them.
by: Michael Winship, t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Michael Winship believes that John McCain and Sarah Palin's manipulation of fear and anger to rally supporters against Barack Obama threatens to "overrule basic common sense and decency." (Photo: Tony Dejak / AP)
And so it has begun. The final month of the presidential race, the campaign that feels as if it commenced some time during the Coolidge administration. And as we slide into these last weeks, what we all feared is coming true. Just when you thought the bottom of the swamp had been scraped, sludge gurgles up from the primordial ooze. This is the endgame, the ugly stuff, meant to assassinate character and distract the electorate with foolishness as our financial house of cards flutters away into the uncertain winds of whatever's left of the global economy. "It's a dangerous road, but we have no choice," a "top McCain strategist" told the New York Daily News. "If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we're going to lose." READ MORE HERE»