Yes He Did/No He Can’t

Obama delivered.  Simple as that.  And the poll bump is now bumping.  Even before his Goldilocks speech last night (Goldilocks because it was “Just RIght” — not too righteous, not too soring, not to wonkish, not too churlish, not too congenial) Gallup showed him regaining momentum over McCain due to a Biden Bump.   By Monday that will be in firm double digits as his “We Can Not Walk Alone” speech works its way into the national zeitgeist.

This despite McCain’s best efforts to steal the limelight back today with his veep pick.  Even if McCain picks first term governor Sarah Palin as    For Republicans woman candidates and politicians are so much window dressing, just like Republican minority candidates.  They’re trotted out like so much chintz in  help to try and obscure the reality that the Republican party has, is and, seemingly, always will be a white man’s party. But after elections it’s the party  good ‘ol boys who run the shop.  Democrats give more than lip service to the efficacy of their female and minority candidates.  Nancy Pelosi is not window dressing.  She’s the whole window.  Ditto Barrack Obama.  He’s now the whole Democratic store.

McCain really has no choice but to go with Palin, just as the GOP really had no choice than to go with McCain.  Had the GOP nominated any of McCain’s primary rivals, candidates who, for the most part, were more in step with core Republican values than McCain himself, Obama would be up by fifteen or more points by now.

The simple fact that Republicans recognize but refuse to really act on is that Americans are finally souring on their anti-government, your on your own, you drown you drown, New Orleans, rhetoric. Republican call to dismantle government has amounted to the opening of our civic gates to the hordes of no-holds barred, loot what you can while you can barbarians masquerading as legitimate businessmen. (Fitting, in its own way, that this week also marked the 1,598th anniversary of the barbarian sacking of Rome in 410 AD. Thanks for the heads up, Mr. Colbert.)

That’s why McCain has been trying to walk the ultimately untenable tightrope of sounding  Republican enough to win his base without sounding so Republican he looses the independents and moderates.  Tain’t possible over the long haul, Johnny ‘ol boy.

Now comes the dropping of the other high heel.  Sarah Palin adds the balance in terms of youth and gender that the Republicans need which can help with the middle.  The Palin Problem is that once McCain picks a half term governor to be one seventy year old’s heart beat away from the Oval Office the whole GOP “Obama ain’t ready” campaign collapses in a heap of hypocrisy.  Once he picks a woman as running mate his luke warm support from social and religious conservatives who, not so deep down, still feel that woman should follow their men, support their men but never lead their men, turns positively tepid.  And once he picks a woman mainstream moderates, seeing the pick for the simple, political, opportunistic choice that it is, will realize that the Republicans really are that out of touch with mainstream moderates.  Diehard Hillary supporters will realize that the Democratic party really is the party that treats women as more than just wrist candy for powerful men.  Hillary Clinton was not run by the Democrats, nor did she get eighteen million votes, as a stunt, a sop to women

Last night Barack Obama proved he can.  Today, with his pick for Veep, John McCain underscores that, come November, he can’t.

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Yes They Can

After two nights of successful speeches by the two Clintons who have dominated Democratic politics for two decades, the world’s oldest party has finally shown the world that it actually can get its house in order and its act together.  Which is no small accomplishment for a political party that has delighted for decades in playing Lucy to its own Charlie Brown, yanking the political football out from under itself.  (Can you say Kerry, 2004; Gore, 2000; Dukasis, 1988; Carter, 1980; McGovern, 1972….).   Tonight all eyes turn to Denver’s Mile High to see if the newly anointed heir of the party can deliver and knock one out of the park, across the country and all the way to the White House.

And Obama is far better situated to do so today than he was at the beginning of the week.  Three days ago—which, in this case, is about two centuries in political terms—the media and punditocracy was abuzz over the looming self-immolation of the Democrats.  Hillary would withhold her support of Obama to do him in this November and claim the nomination in 2012.  Bill would finish the job with a political dagger in Barrack’s back.  Democrats would erupt into a 1968-style riot on the convention floor during the roll call vote.

Three days later, none of that has come to pass.  The Democrats have closed ranks.  The Clintons, placing their legacy ahead of short term political ambitions—and resurrecting the reputation of one ex-Clinton president and preserving the possibility of one more future Clinton President, in the process—rendered all the insta-adds by the GOP over Clintonian sour grapes irrelevant.  And, if Obama delivers the speech he has, to it may all be over but the shouting before the Republicans even gavel things to order next week.

And pity the Republicans their moment in the shadows.  Coming after the Democrats should give the GOP the chance to steal the national bully pulpit back as the bright spotlight of media attention swings to the Twin Cities.  But no matter who John McCain picks on Friday for veep, the GOP convention lacks the drama and poignancy the Dem’s had.  There is no contention over the roll call vote, no “Will Rudy give a tepid endorsement?  Will Huckabee’s fan base riot in the hall?”intrigue.  What will happen next week in Minnesota will be about as exciting as everything else that happens in the land of smoked white fish on any given day.  (No disrespect intended: Minnesotan like things unexciting.)

The Democrats had the twin anniversaries of Women’s Suffrage and Martin Luther King’s immortal “I Have a Dream Speech” to frame their most critical speeches.  What will McCain have?  The anniversary of his former senate leader Trent Lott saying how much better things would have been had segregationist Strom Thurmond been elected president?

When McCain gives his Big Speech next week it will be framed in comparison to Obama’s tonight.  After that, the difference between the two candidates—a mile high and 3000 miles wide–will be clearly manifest to the American people.

And Obama leaves well-intentioned, nice, heroic but a generation or three out of date John McCain miles behind in the political dust.

What Obama Should Say

And now another installment in my ongoing series “What Barack Obama Should Say!” (And, before you go blind looking for the other installments in the series, this is the first ongoing of the ongoing. )

Yesterday, when asked the seemingly “Duh” question of how many homes he owned (usual answer for most American’s being between zero and one) John McCain said: “I think, uh, I’ll have my staff get to you. I’ll try to tell you about that.”

Today, picking that low lying fruit, Barack Obama said: “I guess if you think that being rich means you’ve got to make $5 million, and if you don’t know how many houses you have, then it’s not surprising that you might think the economy was fundamentally strong,” he said.  “If you’re like me, and you’ve got one house, or you are like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so they don’t lose their home, you might have different perspective.”

McCain spokespiece Brian Rogers, immediately responded saying: “”Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses?”

The answer by Senator Obama should be, of course,  “Darn Tootin, Skippy. “

Barack’s response should be:

Yes, I made four million dollars last year.  By that measure, I’m a millionaire.  Which is something I don’t think my wife and kids – or anyone elses’, would complain that much about.  Let’s be honest here, I’m a millionaire.  And so is John McCain.  But here’s the difference between us.  John McCain wants to help today’s millionaires become tomorrow’s billionaires.  I’m a millionaire who wants to help today’s non-millionaires to have a chance to get rich, too .  John McCain is about the Millionaires’ Dream.  I’m about the American Middle Class’ American Dream.

John McCain supports the so called Bush Tax Cut–which is actually a Tax Shift, pushing the cost of government from the broad shoulders of the rich to the overburdened shoulders of the middle class—to help keep making millionaires billionaires. John McCain supports off-shore oil Leasing—not drilling mind you, but leasing oil sites offshore to mega oil companies who already own thousands of acres of oil leases they refuse to drill on—to help make more millionaires billionaires.  John McCain tells you off-shore leasing will bring down prices at the pump?  With all due respect, the good Senator is, at least on this issue, either misinformed himself or deliberately trying to misinform you the people.  All the rhetoric about off-shore drilling is a shell game by the very companies that helped bring you high gas prices to allow them to lock up total control of all future oil supplies in this country.  Which will help make a few billionaires mega-billionaires, but won’t do one thing for your pocketbook the next time you gas up.

So do I want to get in to a debate about houses?  The answer is, ‘No, I don’t.”  At least, I don’t want to get into a debate about my one house or his ten.  I do want to get into a debate about YOUR houses—the houses of millions of Americans in the middle class whose dream of home ownership–the gateway to middle class stability and prosperity—has been turned into a nightmare of debt and foreclosure because of rapacious business practices and  a lax  government oversight of rapacious business practices. A lax government, you can add, that  spent all its time looking for WMD’s that didn’t exist over there while an Economic WMD – subprime mortages—went off over here.

I do want to get into a debate about the millions of Americans whose dream of entering the middle class through home ownership is now denied because the same rapacious business practices that were willing to loan to anyone any amount of money for any reason during the good times are now unwilling to loan anyone any amount for any reason in the bad times – the times when people DO need the help and support of their once friendly and now hostile neighborhood bankers.

I do want to get into a debate about a government that bends over backwards to bail out the big guys—and make no mistake about it, when Republicans decry Big Government its only the Big Government for the Little Guy they defame; Republicans love Big Government  for the Big Guys, government of the people, by the people and for the richest people—a government that doesn’t hesitate to bail out Wall Street but is late to the game to bail out Main Street.  Or bail out just about any Street in a City like New Orleans, I might add.

Senator McCain has accused me of being an elitist, of being out of touch with you, the American people.  That may be true.  I don’t live from pay check to pay check, like most Americans do.  I did once – indeed, I did for most of my life. But not today.  I do live in a million dollar house which most American’s don’t.  Though I didn’t always and lived much of my life without owning a house—or living with a parent who did.  My children do not go to bed at night hearing hushed whispers from their parents in the next room anguishing over which bills they can and can not pay, which medical procedure for which child they can or can not afford,  how long they have before they lose their house to foreclosure or when will the layoff notice come.  Though I once  heard such  hushed conversations—the grownups with the long faces—my children do not.

Yes, I am a millionaire.   But I make no apologies for having achieved the very thing I, and millions of my fellow Americans have always dreamed of. I  had a shot at the American Dream and I have achieved it beyond my own wildest dreams.  I am proud to be an American success story and I am humble enough to realize it is only in America that my story could ever have been told.   And that is why it is my ambition, my goal, to make the same dream I have lived and realized a reality for as many of my fellow Americans as possible.

So yes, Senator McCain, like you I am a millionaire.  Unlike you I know how many houses I own – one, not ten.  And, unlike you, I spend more of my time worrying about the plight of the vast majority of Americans who are not millionaires but who aspire for at least some of the lifestyle and securities millionaire’s enjoy—like guaranteed access to high quality housing, healthcare and education and  economic stability and prosperity—than about those as rich or richer than myself.

Do not get me wrong.  I do not condemn the rich.  Many of those who enjoy great wealth today got to their esteemed stations in life the old fashion way – they worked hard for it.  They worked and achieved the American Dream.  Admittedly many of those who are rich got rich the even more old fashion way—they were born into wealth or married into it.  But, even then America won’t get rich by attacking and destroying its rich.  America will get rich by making room at the great national prosperity table for everyone.  When the non-rich get rich the rich get richer. That’s the true American dream.
As John Kennedy said, a rising tide CAN lift all boats and not just the yachts will the average person’s dingy gets swamped.

For, after all, what would benefit the American corporate and economic elites’ bottom line more: an America filled with the remnants of a former middle class fallen into poverty where wages are stagnant or in decline and home ownership has collapsed? Or an America where the threshold for being in tomorrow’s middle class is what we’d call rich today?  THAT is the 21st Century American dream.

And  such a dream  is not the stuff of flight and fancy.  A century ago  only the rich lived as well and as long as members of what we’d today call the middle class do.  That tomorrow members of the middle class should live as well as those we call rich today?  Well, Andrew Carnegie once famously and factually said that Capitalism is about turning luxuries into necessities.   And that is what the free market, done correctly, should produce:  a broad, vibrant and growing middle class of increasingly affluent Americans—every man a millionaire. Not a middle class in retreat, with a few men multi-billionaires in a society of  declining prosperity.

So the Rich – God Bless ‘em.  Indeed, God has.  So much so that Government need not.  It is time this American government stops worrying more about those who are already rich and more about those who some day should be rich.

So, Senator McCain, do I want to discuss houses?  Yes sir, I do.  For America’s economic house is in disorder.  After a generation of policies to make the rich richer at the expense of the middle class its time to clean house and institute new policies.  Policies that will make the middle class richer the poor richer AND the rich richer,

Fourteen Years Ago Bill Clinton said the age of big government was over.  In that he meant the age of bloated, unaccountable government bureaucracies, he was correct.  But today I say the age of Government for the Big Guy and the Big Guy alone, is over.  The preamble of our Constitution, in describing the purposes for which We The People created this Union, stated one of the most important goals of this union is to “Promote the General Welfare.”  For a generation we have been promoting the selective welfare—the welfare of those whose welfare is already assured.  It is time for our government of the people, by the people and for the people to protect the welfare of ALL the people.

And not just those who own ten houses.  Or their friends.

That’s what the man from Illinois should say.  In my humble opinion, of course