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The Expansionist
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
 
Veep Guess. Media are abuzz with speculation that Barack Obama is going to announce his choice of running mate this coming Saturday in Springfield, Illinois, where he announced his own candidacy in February 2007. Will that person be in Springfield too? Not if Obama wants to keep his/her identity secret to the last minute, because all the 'usual suspects' will be under pervasive media surveillance. So unless ALL of the "short list" candidates head for Springfield, the cat would be out of the bag as soon as someone booked a flite. Not even Evan Bayh, from nearby Indiana, could head off in his personal car for Springfield without being followed by a convoy of reporters.
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The pundits' best guesses on newstalk channels tonite were all from the media's own "short list", and most pundits seem to think Senator Biden of Delaware is the likely choice, even tho he said today first, "I'm not the guy" and second, that he didn't know any more than media do because he hasn't been told a thing. I do not pretend to know what Joe Biden does not, but let me take a guess and explain why I make it: Governor Timothy Kaine of Virginia.
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The other member of the media's three-member shortest list, in addition to Biden and Kaine, is Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana. Others on earlier, and longer, versions of the media's short list include Governor (Governess) Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, and even the odious Senator Hillary Clinton of New York. Hillary has been outrite rejected as a possibility by most commentators of late (even tho many said, delusionally, that she would be the strongest choice), because Obama doesn't like her and she would tend to take attention away from him. At least so say the media. Never mind that Bill Clinton would be a huge liability on the campaign trail for Obama, as he was for Hillary. Some of the more delusional Democrats, a delusional lot in general, keep talking nonsense about a "dream team" — of a black man and white woman. In the United States. In 2008. Such people need to be in a mental institution.
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The same madness as to a black man and white woman, with a different white woman, the Governess of Kansas, was put forward for a while as a sort of watered-down "dream team", bringing out the youth vote, the women's vote (which actually means the Radical-Feminist, lesbian vote), the black vote, and the Democratic "base". Never mind that the WHITE Democratic base includes a lot of white men who would feel completely alienated from such a black-female ticket and would vote for the white guy, McCain, in huge numbers.
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So, if Obama and his advisers are at all sane, we can dispense with all talk of a female veep.
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Bill Richardson has everything Obama needs, including a deep résumé filled with distinction in the area of foreign affairs, which most Americans feel Obama is weak in. But, the media have told us in recent days (only), Obama thinks of himself as an expert in foreign affairs and expects to be able to persuade voters of that before November 4th. Richardson also offers some geographic diversity, being from the Southwest, and ethnic diversity, being a white Hispanic. BUT again Obama must consider whether a black-Latino ticket would alienate non-Hispanic whites in places like Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and in "battleground" states, the definition of which varies depending upon the degree of deludedness of the observer. When he was clean-shaven, Richardson, with his Anglo name, was seen by most Americans as white. Now, however, he has a full beard and mustache, and recently acquired a deep suntan, as makes him look (too) Latino. A black-brown ticket again alienates a large part of the Democratic base, even tho Richardson, as a Catholic, does offer a connection with some of those ethnic whites of the Northeast and Rustbelt Heartland who are also Catholic (Irish, Poles, Italians, some Germans, etc.). The Latino minority may be the largest in the Nation in overall numbers, but they are not all citizens, and have a historically low participation rate in elections. To win Latino (minority) votes at the cost of worrying (the majority) Anglos about the 'takeover' of the United States by, er, Hispanics might be seen by Obama and his advisers as unwise. Would Obama stand with a 'fellow minority' against such 'bigoted' considerations, and choose him as best-qualified? He might, if Obama were about principle. But, as we have seen of late, in Obama's many changes of stance in 'moving to the center', Obama is not about principle. He is about Obama. And even if Bill Richardson would be the best man to succeed him if Obama were, oh, let us say, assassinated, Obama may feel (a) I have to be elected before I can worry about my successor, and if Richardson would as much hurt as help in that task, he can't be on the ticket, and (b) If I'm shot by some redneck, I don't give a f(asterisk) what happens to this f(asterisk)ing country after I'm dead.
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Had we to do it all over, as might happen if that bitch, Hillary Clinton, is somehow able to throw the convention into chaos and the delegates deadlock into a no-Barack/no-Hillary deal, the best ticket for the Democrats at present might well be Richardson as President and Biden as Vice President. But that seems unlikely. Before his recent controversy, John Edwards as President and Bill Richardson as Veep would have been unbeatable. That was then. This is now. And while I think adultery is no bar to the Presidency — especially given John McCain's own admitted adultery, which turns out to have been multiple, not single — the Democrats don't have the courage to put a recent adulterer up against a long-ago adulterer.
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Biden is a bore. Competent, amiable, but a bore. He has no charisma at all. While I don't see Obama as the slitest charismatic, some people seem to feel he is. I am certain that 90% of what passes for charisma and celebrity nowadays is media hype that attaches irrationally to people who have very little actually going for them. Is Britney Spears actually the most fascinating woman in the world? Media seem to think so. I do not.
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Biden is also a Washington insider who has been in the Senate for 35 years(!). If Obama wishes to keep railing against the Old Politics, he can't very well choose as the man "a heartbeat away from the Presidency" a Beltway Boy. However, Obama has betrayed so many commitments central to his message since he (apparently) clinched the nomination that he probably feels that one more won't break him. Besides, he has no chance in hell of winning the White House unless McCain makes an insane choice of running mate himself (see below), tho one must assume that Obama doesn't accept that. Certainly we never hear him say that he is running on principle, to prepare the way for someone else to succeed some other day. None of that MLK 'I may not get there with you' stuff for BHO(bama).
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So, tho Biden would be a bad choice, he's not impossible for the Obama of today. Biden is from a tiny, almost empty state, Delaware. He does not live in Washington but commutes by Amtrak to his home in Wilmington (I saw him on the train once, sipping a glass of milk on his way home perhaps 15 years ago). Delaware isn't even influential in its region. It's a border state geographically and perhaps culturally, but has no sway over anyone's political feelings, in other border states or anywhere else.
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Evan Bayh is a physically attractive white guy, young, wholesome, your white-bread-and-mayonnaise guy from a politically important Indiana family. His father was Birch Bayh (that always makes me think of "birch beer", a great soda that our local supermarket chain Pathmark used to offer in a store brand but no longer does), himself a Senator from Indiana, who ran for President against Jimmy Carter. (Maybe he would've been better than Jimmy Carter, but we'll never know.)
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BUT Indiana is right nextdoor to Illinois, Obama's home state, so offers no geographic diversity whatsoever. People in Indiana have probably heard about Obama for years longer than the Nation generally, so wouldn't need Bayh as interlocutor for Obama. Bayh is not from a small town (he lives in Indianapolis, 13th largest city in the Nation), not the boy next door. He comes from money, fame, and privilege (his full name is Birch Evans Bayh III, and his son is ~ IV). What does he bring to the campaign? He's only 6 years older than Obama, and has been in the Senate only 6 years longer. He is also perceived, at least by newstalk pundits, as unexciting/something of a bore. If one's standard for selection of a veep is, first and foremost, that he do no harm, Bayh would be a safe choice. But he brings so little to the table as to be a bad choice if this election is a real contest, and not the cakewalk that it would be for almost any white Democrat at the top of the ticket.
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Tim Kaine is young (only 3 years older than Obama), amiable, and unknown outside his region. He would likely do no harm. He might do some good, in cracking the Solid South, because if any state of the Old Confederacy might vote Democratic, it could be Virginia. Of course, no state of the Old Confederacy is really going to vote Democratic, but Democrats live in perpetual delusion. Hope springs eternal, and they keep hoping against reason that the South has changed, or the Nation has changed — that something, anything that could make a difference, has changed. Alas, almost nothing has changed.
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Still, with any ordinary Democratic candidate, this election should be a foregone conclusion: any Democrat should trounce any Republican. Well, any WHITE Democrat should trounce any Republican.
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The economy is bad; the sitting Republican President is the most unpopular President in the Nation's history; there are two wars going on and being funded by deficit spending, hugely increasing the national debt and producing massive indebtedness to foreigners; one of those wars, the more important in the task of fiting terrorism, is going very badly; consumer confidence is at historic lows; the stock market is tanking. "All things being equal", any Democrat should procéss to a coronation by veritable acclamation, in a landslide. But the polls show Obama at 45% and McCain at 43%. The media say that is a "statistical dead heat" because the polls have a margin of error of 3%.
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"All things being equal", the polls SHOULD have an error margin of 3%. All things are not equal. When you factor in race, the margin of error is perhaps 12%, because lots of people lie to pollsters if they think that what they really feel is so 'politically incorrect' as to be morally reprehensible, as would bring down opprobrium upon them from the pollster. So lots of white people pretend that they are thinking of voting for a black man who will NEVER, to the day they die, vote for a black man (or, even more emphatically, black woman) for President.
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They don't have to say that race is why. They can say that they don't trust Obama, or doubt his patriotism, or feel he doesn't have enuf experience, or is arrogant and too full of himself, or any of a large number of other excuses. And they will indeed believe some of those things. But they're not the real reason. The real reason is very simple: he's black. And that is why Obama has done well among white people only in areas not devastated by blacks in the Sixties, Seventies, and on to today.
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Go, however, to those parts of the country ravaged by race riots and black crime, those black central cities surrounded by white suburbs in the Northeast, Middle Atlantic states and Rustbelt Midwest and find out what white people there think, and you will see that scores of millions of white people have been so traumatized and are so furious with blacks and what 'They' did to cities they loved that they will never vote black for President or anything else.
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The pretense is that the United States is now "post-racial". Oh? How many black Governors do we have? Two, one of whom was not elected but ascended from the Lieutenant Governorship when New York's disgraced Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned. That's the most we've ever had at any one time, out of 50 states. In fact, there have been only 4 black governors in the entire history of the Nation, total, and one of those was in office for only 36 days in 1872-73, during the Reconstruction Era. How many black Senators do we have? One, out of 100. That too is the most we have ever had at any one time, even tho blacks comprise 13% of the Nation's total population. There are 40 present black members of the U.S. House of Representatives, out of 435 total members: 9%. How many black mayors of major cities do we have? The mayors of the 10 largest cities in the Nation break down thus: 1 black (Philadelphia), 1 Latino (L.A.), 8 white, much like the Nation overall.
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The bulk of black officeholders come from black-majority towns and legislative districts. Blacks vote mainly black; whites vote mainly white; Hispanics, where they amount to a large portion of the population and have Hispanic candidates, vote Hispanic. The United States is 80% white. Which way do you think the election is going to go?
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McCain's Masterful, Magical Media Misdirection. The McCain camp has gotten the media to speculate wildly about his making a drastic, thinking-out-of-the-box, "Hail Mary" play in choosing a veep, from feeling that he is doomed unless he does something desperate. In actuality, he is practically assured of winning the Presidency by a landslide. Still, the talk is that he is thinking of selecting as running mate a pro-abortion Republican 'moderate' (or Liberal, as most Republicans would see him), like Tom Ridge, or even the Jewish, nominal Democrat, pro-abortion beast Joe Lieberman. Rush Limbaugh has reacted to such talk by declaring that such a selection would destroy the Republican Party and ensure the election of the Democrat, as the Republican base stays home in droves.
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Another rumor making the rounds is that McCain might dramatically announce that he cares so much about doing the right thing, without regard to the electoral consequences, that he will announce at the same time as he announces a 'daring' choice for veep, that he will not seek a second term. Oh? McCain himself said very publicly that a President elected on such a pledge would be a "lame duck" the instant he took office, so could accomplish nothing (especially if both houses of Congress are won by Democrats, altho he didn't say that part).
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Could McCain possibly be so deluded that he would see himself in danger of losing to a black man? — and that that danger is not just real but so great that he has to do something drastic that would drive away the Republican base in hopes of appealing to moderate Democrats and independents in sufficient numbers to make up for the loss of his own party's voters? I have said before that McCain is out of his mind, so you can never know what he will do. But, you see, McCain is no longer in charge. You didn't know that, did you?
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What is actually happening with all this speculation is that a campaign that was dull and going noplace has reignited media interest by implying that something startling is about to happen. And so the media are all taking much more active interest in McCain than they had been doing recently. And while the media are looking here, the people in charge of McCain are acting elsewhere. I don't know where yet, but they seem to me to be diverting attention in the manner of a magician or making a feint in the manner of a military commander, the better to deliver an inspired stroke of genius (or what will seem so after the pointless wild goose chase the media have been led on) when they finally make their actual move.
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McCain, you might think, isn't smart enuf or devious enuf to pull off something like that. But, as I say, McCain is no longer in charge of his campaign, and those who are, are indeed smart enuf to carry off something just like that.
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At some point, the real powers of the Republican Party decided they had had enuf with the Romneys and Huckabees and Giulianis, and other unelectables, so settled on McCain. That is when the McCain campaign, nearly 'dead', suddenly came to life, and he came from behind to win the nomination. It is the same Silent Hand of the Republican string-pullers as created Reagan from whole cloth and put forward the amiable goofball Dumbya because he was so malleable and so deeply coated in Teflon that no matter how much people disliked his policies, they would never dislike him, and thus never move to impeach him or even use him as an electoral devil. (Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's ultra-critical satirical revue, The Daily Show, recently said of Bush after some goofy bit of video, "He is ADORABLE." And then followed it up with a disclaimer like, "If only he didn't ...".)
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The same people who pull George W. Bush's strings and wrote every word Reagan said have now seized control of McCain, and that's why he has now changed his tune on a host of issues, because he's no longer in charge. McCain wants desperately to be President, and the Invisible Hand told him, "You can be President, but only if you do exactly as we say." So he's doing exactly as they say.
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(Senator McCain has admitted in print that the ambition to be President was his ultimate motive in 2000, but he was criticized for that admission last nite and again tonite by Keith Olbermann of MSNBC because McCain accused Obama of saying what he says only because ambition to be President has seized control of him. McCain was speaking from experience. Obama IS dominated by personal ambition, just as is McCain, just as was every single candidate for the Presidency this time and every other time in recent history. It is never about us, never about principle, never about a crusade for the Nation or the world. It is always about personal ambition. If Keith Olbermann doesn't understand that, perhaps it's because he has never aspired to be President. But Olbermann's well publicized (and copiously self-publicized) competition with Bill O'Reilly should give him, if he is at all self-aware, some insight into what ambition can do to a person.)
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Keith Olbermann and others have been struck by recent statements from the McCain campaign HQ that corrected McCain's own statements on the stump, and summarized their stance as "The candidate does not speak for the campaign." No, he doesn't. McCain is a puppet on slitely looser strings than Dumbya, who is so intent on becoming President and so convinced that he cannot do so on his own (after all, he almost lost the Republican nomination, before the Silent Hand stepped in) that he has yielded sovereignty over his own campaign to the insiders who gave us Reagan and Bush (at least Bush the Younger, and possibly Bush the Older as well, tho they might have abandoned him when he proved too much his own man, letting him fall to Clinton the Elder).
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The key factor in the selection process of the Invisible Hand is likability, which makes for a Teflon President. And Teflon is what all Republican Presidents must be coated with to survive the terrible things they try to do to us. John McCain is likable. He has spent years making appearances on late-nite television and elsewhere to make himself a household name, regarded even by people who can't stand his politics (to the extent they know them) as a good guy and good sport who can make fun of himself. He sits across the table from Jon Stewart and other people of hugely different political orientation, and banters and jokes, and gets along with everybody. That is what it takes to be a Republican President. You take care of the likability; we will take care of everything else, says the Invisible Hand. And they do.
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So no, the candidate really does not speak for the campaign now. And that is why he is unlikely to make an insane choice of running mate. Because even tho McCain himself is such a loose cannon and so changeable that he might make a bizarre choice, he is not in charge of making that choice. It will be made for him. It has probably been made already.
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So who will it be? Romney? Romney's a Mormon. Aaaaa! (That's as close as I can come in print to the sound of the "wrong" buzzer in game shows.) Giuliani, a Catholic from the detested New York City? Aaaaa! Jindal has taken himself out of consideration, as tho a man born Hindu stood much of a chance of being selected by the anonymous controllers of the Republican cabal. Pawlenty? No buzzer, no clamor. (We could be facing a "Battle of the Tims" if Pawlenty and Kaine are chosen as veeps.) Crist? Somebody whose name has not been mentioned by media pundits putting together their short list (or long list)?
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Think young, think Teflon. Of the people on media's short list, Pawlenty seems to fit the bill. He meets the first criterion: do no harm. He's not a dunce, like Dan Quail. He's from the North, but the Republican Powers That Be don't need to worry about losing the South if they don't choose a Southerner, because the South is not voting for a black man. Not even Florida, with all its transplanted Northerners, is going to vote for a black man. Many of those Northerners left places in the North not just because they were cold in the winter but because they had become "too black" year-round.
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Kaine vs. ?? My guess as to Obama's choice of running mate is Governor Kaine of Virginia. I would prefer Richardson, but Obama's advisors may have told him that two minorities on one ticket is one too many. Besides, if, as I suspect, the Obama campaign goes down in flames, in an electoral catastrophe for the Democratic ticket (tho things should still go well for Dems in both houses of Congress), it might be better for the Nation and for a chastened Democratic Party if Richardson isn't dragged down by Obama, in order that he might rise in 2012, as President or Veep to a reconstructed and forgiven John Edwards. As for the Republican veep? We'll just have to wait for August 29th. And the media will keep wondering aloud all that time, giving intense attention to a campaign to which for weeks they had given very little attention. That Invisible Hand knows what it's doing.
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(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,144 — for Israel.)


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