Presidential Campaign

Presidential Campaign

Protesters Violently Opposed to the Iraq War

I must have walked down the wrong block.

Turning onto St. Peter's Street in St. Paul, Minn., last night, I saw more than 50 police officers lined up. Some were on bikes, others in riot gear. Those on the front line were wearing gas masks.

"Sir, you do not want to be on this corner," one officer told me. "We expect the protesters to charge us and we may have to use tear gas."

Not possessing Griff Jenkins's predilection for being surrounded by angry mobs, I moved a safe distance away. I could soon hear the cacophonous noise of protesters coming down the street.

Sarah Palin's Yankee Stadium Moment

I haven't been out on a blind date since the Carter administration, but I gotta tell you — I am more excited than I care to admit about my date tonight with a woman named Sarah.

True, I expect I will have to share her with several million others at the same exact time, and she won't exactly be giving me that personal attention that I crave, but I will be leaning forward in my seat and hanging on every word nonetheless.

I am talking, of course, about this evening's primetime coming-out party for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R).

Ever since we heard Palin's name mentioned last Friday, most of the cable TV chattering class has been handicapping her selection as John McCain's running mate.

Second Thoughts on McCain's VP Pick

My first reaction on Friday and Saturday — along with that of my most of my Democratic friends — was that John McCain's selection of an inexperienced novice governor with ultra-conservative views on social issues — from a small state that has a fraction of the population of Brooklyn — to be one heartbeat from the presidency was a strategic blunder of the highest magnitude from which he would not recover.

The fact that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) made an overt reference to Hillary Clinton in her introductory press conference, apparently in the hope she could attract some of the disgruntled Clinton supporters, made little sense. She and Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.) must know that her ultra-conservative views that appeal mostly to the religious right wing of the GOP would not go over well with most, if not virtually all, of Hillary's voters. In short, her issue positions would trump the fact that she was female — to assume otherwise is nothing short of patronizing to Hillary's female supporters.

One Enchanted Evening

Seeing the revival of “South Pacific” on the same day last week as Sen. Barack Obama’s (Ill.) nomination to be the Democratic presidential candidate had an interesting connection for me.

The play, based on James A. Michener’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Tales of the South Pacific, was adapted by Joshua Logan half a century ago, has become a musical-theater classic, and has had a spectacular revival this year. How fitting I saw it the same day as Sen. Obama’s acceptance speech.

Sen. Obama, of mixed racial parents and raised in Hawaii, the site of the play, is the personification to many people of a “post-racial” time, the product of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s 45-year-old dream to be sure, but also the lesson of one of “South Pacific’s” serious songs, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught,” written by the show-biz titans Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. The lyrics instruct, “You’ve got to be taught to be afraid/ … Of people whose skin is a different shade/ You’ve got to be carefully taught.”

McCain, Brown, King and Everybody

I usually avoid writing about CNN because we're divorced and I worry that positive or negative, whatever I say might be perceived as conflicted, my impartiality thrown into question.

This time, that's a risk worth taking, thanks to a bit of spitefulness by John McCain that is so spiteful that, while it may appear petty, it is anything but ... it is un-American.

When he canceled a previously scheduled appearance this week on CNN's "Larry King Live" show, Wednesday night, he did so as retaliation for a tough interview the night before by one of the network's other anchors, Campbell Brown.

In Attempting to Straddle Diverging Aisles, Lieberman Risks Tearing His Britches

ST. PAUL — Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-Conn.) speech last night at the Republican convention obviously has the Obama campaign and the Democratic hierarchy reeling and seething about his direct assault and indictment of the Democratic Party and its presidential nominee.

If that wasn't enough, he made it clear that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has the credentials and experience necessary as John McCain's vice presidential choice and made no mention of his colleague Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.). Give Lieberman credit, for there's no doubt that it took guts and deep resentment of his party to deliver his cutting remarks last night.

Like a Hurricane — Sarah Palin at the Republican Convention

I would like to outline a brief history of the so-called culture wars and what potential future they hold because I am getting the feeling that they could actualize out of abstraction very quickly around one extraordinary woman: John McCain’s selection for vice president, Sarah Palin. She will not let go and the Republicans will not let her go. As David Brooks said last night, he has not met one delegate who opposes her. In fact, they’re crazy about her. All of the blue-collar people I have talked to up here in northern New Hampshire, and this is a blue-collar, bears-in-the-yard, libertarian Republican state, are likewise utterly crazy about her. They will not let go of her either, from what I can see, under any circumstances.

Power Points RE: culture war:

1 — The culture wars or the division between red and blue states is a continuation of the Civil War. To paraphrase Carl Von Clausewitz, culture war is hot war by other means; by political and cultural means. Historian Dan Carter, in his biography of George Wallace, The Politics of Rage, makes the point that the Christian Coalition and the Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson movement arose in direct opposition to the perceived decadence of the Sixties — the hippies, racial integration, sexual freedom, etc. Wallace correctly guessed that the regional values of the rural South would serve as a national theme in opposition. It did when amplified by Falwell and Robertson.

How the Palins’ Pregnancy Issue Could Hurt Obama

The pregnancy of Sarah Palin’s daughter will in time be a plus to her campaign. People get pregnant. Welcome to the world. She and her husband Todd do what any family that has their dinner together would do: counsel, love and encourage. This is a family that takes life as it comes and deals with it. Obama and Michelle understand because like Todd and Sarah they are family-first as well (and ideology second or, in family matters, not at all).

In fact, this could hurt Obama and he knows it. Recently, on a PBS series called “The Sixties,” Todd Gitlin, a professor at Columbia, recalled the state of the nation in the mid-1970s when bitterness and anger replaced objectivity and purpose in the anti-war movement. He made the lucid point that a few individuals who went to extreme positions created a slingshot effect and consolidated the vast middle of America in opposition, engendering a conservative backlash.

So-Called 'Offensive' Story is Actually About McCain, not Palin

ST. PAUL — The McCain campaign finds the media coverage of new revelations about Sarah Palin's family "offensive." But let's remember, this would be a story about Barack Obama's vice presidential choice as well. More importantly, this story isn't about Palin; it's about John McCain.

Sarah Palin has walked the walk as a pro-life Republican. Even if she promotes abstinence, she could hardly lock her teenage daughters in the house. Now that one of them is pregnant Palin is doing what she can to bring another child into the world with love and the full support of a whole family.

Who Knew No. 2?

We still don't know if the Palins' journey from Alaska to the vice president's mansion would be more like Mrs. Smith's family coming to Washington or the Clampetts. In other words, we really have no idea what John McCain's running mate is about.

The problem is there are strong indications he doesn't either. His aides are spinning like whirling dervishes right now, desperately putting out the word that Gov. Palin was thoroughly vetted.

What do we make, then, of her daughter's pregnancy? If we take the McCain campaign's word that they were aware of it, wouldn't it have been more honest simply to make it known when she was named to the No. 2 spot on the ticket?