Late Night Open Thread: Throw Down vs. Double Down

The latest from Hugh Atkin, the genius responsible for “Song of Mitt’s Self“. Lyrics at the link.

Meanwhile, Erick “Voice of the GOP Gated Community” draws himself up & sticks out his glass jaw:

This is the week when Democrats and the Arab street both erupted in frenzies over otherwise obscure YouTube videos, with our media tripping over itself to provide excuses for both…

The Romney campaign should double down on what he said. They should own it. The trouble for the left and media (but I repeat myself) is that most Americans agree with Mitt Romney. Most Americans consider themselves part of the 53% and it is not a winning proposition for Barack Obama to convince Americans they are less than they think they are when most Americans already recognize he has made them less than they were…

The media will use this as an opportunity to stop covering North Africa, which continues to have negative implications for Barack Obama. In moving the focus to this, Mitt Romney should embrace it. It’s time to have the discussion everyone has been waiting for and now, with terrible economic data and North Africa Mitt Romney has a very simple message to close the sale: leading from behind is failure.

When I pointed out that were the election held today Barack Obama would win. And he would win because Mitt Romney has a muddled messaging mess. For pointing that out and suggesting that if he fixes it he could win, I was called a “liberal flack” an “Obama collaborator” and Twitchy called me a hand wringer lumping me in with liberals David Frum and Ezra Klein. It is to be expected. But I stand by the point. Now, Mitt Romney has the perfect opportunity to focus his message like a laser and close the sale.

Was it over, when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? I certainly hope that the Romney campaign takes the astute policycraft of Mr. Erickson to heart, because the only ingredient this slapstick comedy has been missing so far is a media-seeking fat guy with an inflated sense of his own importance to serve as a pie target.

Early Morning Open Thread: Can’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

(Jack Ohman via Click over to get a larger version & don’t miss the background banners!)
Paul Constant at Seattle’s Stranger may be even better on the Charlotte convention than his excellent RNC coverage:

I have never been a fan of Bill Clinton. I resented his baby-boomer smugness, the calculating way with which he inveigled the Democratic Party into giving up some core values for a few fleeting moments of centrist popularity—particularly, giving up its devotion to the citizens who could not, for reasons of mental or physical competence, take care of themselves. And I detested the way he tried to tear Barack Obama down, to force him into waiting his turn in line for the presidency back in 2008. But I had never seen Clinton speak before in person, and so I could never understand what makes him so appealing.

Clinton has that one-in-a-million mixture of crippling neediness and unadulterated, (almost literally) unimpeachable self-confidence that generally breeds rock stars, or the kind of writers whose books teenagers keep lovingly rolled up in their back pockets. He desperately needs the love and affection of every single person in the Time Warner Cable Arena (some 26,000 people, with many thousands more turned away at the door) and he has the gall to believe that he deserves that love and affection, too. You can’t deny that kind of pulsing spiritual vacancy, that starving need for love, in a person. You want to help fill his need for attention, and you’re flattered by his attention in return… He seduced a small army of people all at once with facts and figures and his masterful ad-libs. I still think his presidency was too complacent and that he squandered some opportunities that could have at least partially prevented the mess in which we find ourselves now, but I cannot deny—nobody can deny—that Bill Clinton possesses a rare genius…

Something that I often forget about Obama, though, is that he has another, special kind of genius. He always knows how much energy he needs to expend, and he doesn’t expend any more than that amount. Obama never plays an ace when a two will do. During the 2008 debates, Obama surely could have blown John McCain away with a sharp comment or a figure that would have torn McCain’s argument out from under him. But the problem with those showy moments is that they bear a certain amount of risk; every dive for the jugular can result in a self-inflicting injury…. Instead, Obama just ran out the clock on McCain, being reasonable and common-sensical, to show Americans that he wasn’t a freak or a socialist or a monster. By being patient, and by expending just enough energy, he won the whole contest, even though he didn’t give the commentariat the blood for which they were bellowing.

Obama’s speech, then, was like that. It contained promises and mentions of important liberal causes like global warming and marriage equality, but it didn’t reframe the conversation or try to wriggle out of charges of class war by positioning himself as a moderate. This is presumably because Obama and his team have done the calculations, and they’ve realized that they can win on this conversation, that Americans don’t believe that self-interest should be the prime motivation of the country, that fairness and cooperation do have their place in the United States that they want to live in…

If you haven’t time for the whole thing, at least read the last four paragraphs following the final dropped cap, concerning Gabby Giffords: She was there for just another dumb press event that congresswomen have to show up for every day if they expect to keep their jobs, and a mentally unhinged man who slipped through the cracks tried to force his will upon her, to make her dead so that he could have something he could call his own. He took something precious from her that will never be replaced, but he failed…

Seriously, click over, and get yourself a pretty fine headstart on yet another Monday morning.

(Democratic) Party Like It’s 1936!

Two days now after President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, and the conventional wisdom among pundits has now pretty much set the narrative: OK, not great, overshadowed by Clinton and Michelle Obama.* [Warning, or perhaps merely, alert: both of those are Sully links.]

One frequent strand of criticism is that in the midst of the predicament that continues to bedevil the United States now in its fourth year or so of too damn many people out of work, Obama went small, talking incremental solutions in times that demand transformative policy.

David Brooks, for one, had a terrible sad immediately after Obama finished despite the obvious howling enthusiasm of those in the hall.** His first reaction, delivered with the kind of grey pallor you get when you’re still trying to grab your senses after being whacked in the gut, was swiftly echoed in the column he posted shortly thereafter:

But what I was mostly looking for were big proposals, big as health care was four years ago…At its base, this is a party with a protective agenda, not a change agenda — dedicated to defending government in all its forms…Worse, the speech was dominated by unexplained goals that were often worthy, but also familiar, modest and incommensurate with the problems at hand….The country that exists is not on the right track. It has a completely dysfunctional political system. What was there in this speech that will make us think the next few years will be any different? America will only be governable again if there is a leader who breaks the mold and reframes the debate. Romney is unlikely to do that, and Obama’s speech didn’t offer much either.

Leave aside the nonsense and the sleight of hand on display here and throughout this particular column.  Brooks has a genuine sense of disappointment because, as in the passage quoted above, he knows that Romney and the current Republican party is hopeless — and he loathes his fantasy of what Democrats actually aim to do (that “protective agenda” and “defending government in all its forms” BS).  In particular, he feels that in these terribly parlous times, we need audacity above all else — and that President Obama’s speech lacked the necessary vision to accompany what he concedes is this President’s impressive character. (Again, leave aside the question of what “audacity” got is into during the previous administraton

Well, all that — the general sense of disappointment at the lack of orgasmic moments in the speech plus Brooks (and others) seizing on the “too small for the times” meme made me think.   Is there any historical reference for what someone in such circumstance might say that would shed light on what Obama was trying — and in my view, successfully — to convey.

Why, yes there is.  Remember how so many speakers termed the Bush collapse and its consequences the most disastrous since the Great Depression?  Well, y’all may recall that we had a President elected to deal with the mess the Republicans had left him back then, and four years later, he had to make the case for re-election in times of economic hardship.  To be clear — Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal (or New Deals) had a major impact on the economy in his first term, during which unemployment fell from 25% to just over 14%.  You may note, however, that as the campaign in 1936 took place, that still represented a load of misery.  So what did he say to the 1936 Democratic National Convention? Read more

Open Thread: Eleven Little Words

Margaret Doris, reporting for Esquire at the DNC:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Stella Adams came to the Democratic convention so full of hope that she’d sprinkled her face with red, white, and blue stars, swabbed on blue-glitter eye shadow, and topped it all off with a stars-and-streamers USA tiara. But after another in a stream of “surprise” delegate visits here from Michelle Obama on Thursday morning, this one to the Women’s Caucus, the alternate delegate from North Carolina found herself fighting back tears.

“We worked so hard to build a just, moral society,” Adams said, after the First Lady reminded the delegates and guests that the election was not just about issues, but “how we want our democracy to function for decades.”

Michelle Obama’s words were a grim foreshadowing of a future that Adams, a fair-housing advocate from Durham, had already begun to fear. “And I’m going to live to see it — see it go back,” she worried.

Adams says it’s hard to motivate young women to understand what’s at stake in this election. “I’m 53. I was a kid when we got these rights,” like Title IX and the right to contraceptives and abortion. “I grew up seeing women not allowed full participation in American life. My daughter is 28. My nieces are 17, 15, 16. They have never known when girls had to play half-court ball because it was thought women were too fragile to play otherwise.” And as young black women, the segregated world of their grandmothers seems to be the stuff of the Brothers Grimm….

“I’ve really been motivated… to protect my daughter’s future,” Adams said, with a hint of new resolve in her voice. Her daughter, Danielle, a graduate student at Appalachian State University, is also a North Carolina delegate. “We will win this election, or we will lose our future.”

I’m 56, and I fully endorse this message.

Food For The Heart And Soul

Republicans, complain all you want to about the President moving his acceptance speech Friday Thursday indoors due to storms, what the Democrats did afterwards for Charlotte is outstanding.  The logistics for the event move included deciding what to do with all the food for the 65,000 people expected to be on hand, and when the event was moved, the DNC absolutely did the right thing.

All the fancy catered food intended for the VIP suites and club rooms at the stadium – and perhaps even for the president himself – was redistributed Friday to local soup kitchens and shelters, via Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina.

On the menu: thousands of pounds of pecan-fried chicken, baked orzo, fresh crudités, three-bean bake, fresh-cut fruit and something called short rib cobbler.

And that’s only a partial list.

It had all been prepared in advance by chef Jon Morey and the kitchen staff of Delaware North Inc., the official food provider for the stadium. A dollar value for the food was not immediately available.

“It’s really a wonderful order,” said Kay Carter of Second Harvest, which got 7,500 pounds of the food.

“None of this food will go to waste. We contacted every shelter and soup kitchen in town and asked them how much refrigeration capacity they have and how many are they feeding. It will all be gone at the end of the day.”

Second Harvest has a history of redistributing fresh food at a moment’s notice, she said, including leftovers from major golf tournaments.

However, the Democratic National Convention’s gift is different, if only for the inclusion of enough popcorn for 70,000 people, popped and stuffed into bags. It will go to the community’s various children’s programs, including low-income day cares. “At least it doesn’t weigh a lot,” Carter said.

This is outstanding, and more people need to know about it.   Spread the word.