Eagleton Countdown: Day 5

One Republican strategist with close ties to the campaign described the candidate's closest supporters as "keeping their fingers crossed" in hopes that additional information does not force McCain to revisit the decision. According to this Republican, who would discuss internal campaign strategizing only on condition of anonymity, the McCain team used little more than a Google Internet search as part of a rushed effort to review Palin's potential pitfalls. Just over a week ago, Palin was not on McCain's short list of potential running mates, the Republican said.

Ten years on, I think it's a horrible indictment of Google that it's still not good enough for VP vetting...

UPDATE: Oh, bless. Where have we heard this one before?

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - E-mails from the Palin administration are being withheld from the public and the governor is citing executive privilege.

She's Not Bree

I didn’t actually mention the rumour in the previous post, but seeing as how even Andrew Sullivan is going at the story with gusto, here’s why I think that the baby really is Palin’s:

  • The McCain team is not that stupid. Really.
  • More importantly, Sarah Palin doesn’t strike me as that stupid. Given what happened to John Edwards just a few weeks ago, she’d have to be crazy to think that she could get away with such a wild story. In addition to ruining her career, by accepting the VP nomination she’d also expose her daughter to ridicule, oh, and as an aside, completely sink the McCain campaign and the GOP’s prospects for November. There’s no way she’s that insane.
  • How many people would need to be in on this? Doctors and nurses at the hospital for sure. Too many for it to stay a secret.
  • Finally, yes, it is a little odd that she flew from Texas back to Alaska after her waters broke. Or that she went to Texas at all. But it’s on the side of odd that seems to strengthen the case against the rumour – because if her daughter was the pregnant one, then they’d do everything they could to make it not seem suspicious. So Palin wouldn’t have gone to Texas at all.

Can we please get back to the issues and leave the rest to Desperate Housewives?

UPDATE: See! Her daughter wasn’t pregnant…she just is now.

Exposure: North And South

Aside from Dick Cheney’s drastic break with the past, the Office of The Vice-President traditionally doesn’t amount to much more than somebody sitting around waiting for the end of their term or for the President to suddenly drop dead. Sure, they get dragged out every now and then to give a speech, to go on the attack when the President either will not or cannot, but in general, they have very little power except for their tie-breaking vote in the Senate. The classic example is LBJ, who went from being the House Leader of the Senate in 1960 to VP in 1961. Initially thought that he would be about to continue his hold over the Democratic Party from his new office, but the Senate essentially laughed in his face, sending him back to sit on his hands until an assassin brought him the Presidency.

(incidentally: LBJ - the greatest liberal President of the 20th century? Perhaps…)

In addition, the slot means extremely little on the election ticket itself either. George Bush got elected with Dan Quayle by his side, after all. In recent memory, the only time that the choice has been a big impact was in 1972. George McGovern had just won the primary campaign for the Democratic nomination. This culminated in a vicious floor-fight at the convention itself (for those of you thinking that this current primary was cut-throat, the 1972 campaign would shock you. Clinton vs. Obama is tiddlywinks in comparison) where the McGovernites carried the day with a brilliant series of carefully-chosen floor votes that guaranteed that their delegates would be enough to give them victory (see Fear & Loathing On The Campaign Trail 1972 for a full explanation). Unfortunately, whilst they had the prize, some of the party was so disgusted with the idea of the anti-war McGovern being their pick that they openly talked about supporting Nixon instead. McGovern badly needed to pick a Vice-President that would unite the party together.

So he called Ed Muskie and Hubert Humphrey, the two heavyweight candidates that he had just beaten. They turned him down. He begged Ted Kennedy to join the ticket, but no Kennedy was going to accept anything less than top billing. The decision had to be made quickly. Running out of time, McGovern offered the slot to Thomas Eagleton, a senator from Missouri. A safe choice; a disappointment perhaps to the New Left, but his links with unions would help shore up the Democrats’ faltering support amongst blue-collar workers.

He didn’t last a month. By the end of July (he was selected on July 14th), the papers were full of reports of hospitalisations for physical and nervous exhaustion during the 1960s that he had neglected to tell the McGovern team about. To make matters worse, he had also received electo-shock treatment during these periods, leading many to think that he was too unstable to be second-in-command. McGovern initially stood firm in his support for Eagleton, but by the second week in August, after continual press mockery, he dropped him from the ticket, fatally injuring his support amongst his base, and went down to Nixon in one of the worst electoral defeats in American history.

This may mean nothing, of course. But Sarah Palin appears to have been selected in a similar manner of haste; a desperate attempt to steal the news cycle away from the greatest speech American politics has seen in a generation. And that worked, but at what cost? The experience angle of attack against Obama has been taken off the table, McCain’s age is now brought into sharp focus, and the idea that she may peel off disgruntled Hillary voters is deeply condescending considering that they only thing her and Palin seem to have in common is that they both have ovaries. In addition, whilst she’s not as mired in corruption as most of the Alaskan GOP, she appears to have a few troubles of her own (there’s also rumours of Eagleton-level scandal floating around the Internet, but I refuse to believe that the McCain team would be that stupid to not have debunked those even in the limited vetting time they had available). This after a Democratic Convention that fell in lockstep with Obama, delivered a consistent message, and even made John Kerry look like an interesting and funny person.

I could be wrong, of course. This could be the game-changing event that turns things in favour of McCain; Palin may be able to make Biden come across as a bully in the VP debate. But even the media, the biggest McCain-apologists around, seem mystified and even a little annoyed at this choice. If he loses them, the Republicans may be in for a rout come November…

Classy To The End

“The Republicans can’t seem to get a break when it comes to August and when it comes to the weather,” said Rove, a FOX News analyst.

I'm sure NOLA shares your pain.

Great Krypton!

Superman: Beyond is completely impenetrable: written in a strange hyperlanguage known only to Grant Morrison, reviving a pet storyline last seen almost twenty ago, featuring a character designed to annoy Alan Moore, guest starring the Yellow Submarine, and requiring 3-D glasses to read properly.

It is, obviously, wonderful.

A Noun, A Verb, and POW

He’s turning into Rudy, isn’t he?

Dial A For Apple

I’ve now had an iPhone for a week. This picture roughly shows how I feel. Admittedly, part of this is probably because my previous phone couldn’t even send text messages in capital letters, but it feels like it should come with a jetpack. It’s the future, right there in your hand. A communicator out of every science fiction movie, except this one screams “Yeah! Yeah!” every time somebody calls (Davo, Lolly, I’m truly sorry). It’s the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, except it plays music whilst you’re checking to see if Earth is being demolished this week or next. Other phones are crammed with buttons; the iPhone makes them look as outmoded as a rotary dial; instead, your fingers swish over the screen and make it dance.

Shiny. But, just as with the jetpacks and lasers, it’s not quite there just yet. There are a few things which make you remember that the future is still a little way off:

  • The camera. Actually, I don’t mind the 2 megapixel aspect of the camera, as the sensor is small enough that cramming more pixels probably won’t help improve the image quality too much. It is a shame that it doesn’t allow you to record video clips, however. There’s an application available for the jailbroken phone, so this seems to be an Apple restriction rather than a problem with the camera itself. It’s also a bit awkward having to unlock the phone, press the camera icon, wait for it to power up, and then to take the picture, in comparison to a normal camera. But then normal cameras don’t tag photos with GPS information and upload them to flickr.
  • I haven’t hard too many problems with 3G/Edge connectivity problems, but did find that I couldn’t get a signal in the middle of Oxford, which is a tad worrying (though that may have been down to me - I’ll be trying it out again next week).
  • The keyboard does take quite a bit of getting used to, and it’ll never be as comfortable as a proper set of buttons, I think. However, you do find yourself typing away quite happily most of the time with only a few errors. I’ve been answering work emails on it all week!
  • The App Store bothers me a little. It’s very nice to have a central place to go and find all the interesting things people have written for the device (at the moment, I’m using Twinkle, Mobile Fotos, and LondonTube, as well as stalwarts like NetNewsWire, Facebook and Google), I find it disturbing that all this work exists solely at the pleasure of Apple. At any time, they can pull your application with no warning and no recourse. There’s no way to put your program on anybody else’s iPhone without going through iTunes. If Microsoft tried to pull this, we’d be up in arms, and rightly so.

No buyer’s remorse yet, but the future still needs a little work.

The Campaign Starts Here.

David Tennant must light the Olympic flame in 2012. IT’S IN CONTINUITY, PEOPLE.


Welcome To Wal-Mart UK

The decision to alter the text came after supermarket chain Asda announced it would stop selling the book.

currently playing: Los Campesinos! – Clunk-Rewind-Clunk-Play-Clunk

Should We Be Worried?

The usual caveats apply: Zogby’s record isn’t great, and it’s only one poll. But last month ago, it looked as if all Obama had to do was show up in November, and now he’s on the wrong end of a five-point lead. Even worse is that people trust McCain more on the economy, despite him admitting that he knows little about the subject, and that his platform consists of continuing the last eight years of Bush’s policies. Ask Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac how that’s going. I’m just hoping that Obama’s vacation in Hawaii has more to do with this than any deeper problems in the Democrats’ campaign. It’s looking a bit too much like Kerry 2004 at the moment.

Meanwhile, next week is the beginning of convention season! Hurrah! (really, I have problems) Four years ago, I sat and watched both conventions from start to finish. Many, many problems. Today, I find myself gainfully employed, so I probably won’t be able to do that this time around, but I am planning on watching the final night of the Democratic Convention. Monday at the RNC seems like a fun line-up: Bush, Cheney, and Lieberman! Together as you demanded! But perhaps not in a courtroom like you also demanded!

(seriously, guys, I think it’s time you threw Lieberman out of your party. It’s getting embarrassing now)