And Favreau is right, Gerson's speech for Bush that September 20 was one of the great speeches in American history. But it must be noted here that with that speech the discord between speech and speaker has never been more pronounced, for we have come to know that Gerson's boss never fully grasped the power of words. With an exalting script, Gerson could make George W. Bush sound like Winston Churchill for an hour. But it is Jon Favreau's task and his gift that he is able to make his boss -- a fellow who has been known to write a sentence or two on his own -- sound like Barack Obama.
What I don't understand is how Favreau finds the time to write Obama's speeches *and* direct Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man. Time machine?
I wanted to create something to look at a couple years from now to remember the election and hopefully present a good representation of what both sides of America were feeling on that day as evidenced by the response in the press and on the blogs. I didn't capture everything, though I've certainly tried
Included are lots of videos, links to articles, reactions from the author's friends, and even Facebook status messages as the election results rolled in, covering a nice cross-section of citizens from top politicians to the big media, to blogs, to normal people celebrating on the streets. However, I have a feeling that due to linkrot, much of this may not even be available online.
Well, the "O" was the identity for the Obama '08 campaign and the campaign is over. That doesn't mean that the mark will be forgotten; I think the memorabilia from this campaign will have a long shelf life and will stand as a visible symbol of pride for people who supported the candidate and for those who see it as a representation of a watershed moment for our country. As far as having another life, I can't say. Perhaps the 2012 campaign will hark back to it in some way.
This is not a political blog. However, this is a story I couldn't pass up: the story of how voting patterns in the 2008 election were essentially determined 85 million years ago, in the Cretaceous Period. It's also a story about how soil science relates to political science, by way of historical chance.
Headline I'd like to see in 96 pt. type in the NY Times: Obama Elected By Rich Loamy Soils of Cretaceous Seas.
The ballots are being recounted in the Senate race in Minnesota between Norm Coleman and Al Franken because the initial tally was almost too close to call. MPR has a look at some of the ballots that are being challenged...it's amazing how many weird ways people can mark a ballot that uses a simple fill-in-the-circle design.
I'd spent most of election night in front of the TV in Arlington, Va. But around 11 p.m. I couldn't sit idle any longer, which is why I sped to the memorial. When I arrived, I found a TV crew sitting on the plaza above the Reflecting Pool, waiting, I assumed, for a mob to arrive. I approached with cameras in hand. One of them looked up and said with a slight roll of his eyes, "Nothing to see here."
Instead he found a small group of people listening to Obama's acceptance speech on a transistor radio and shot this wonderful picture of the scene. I can't think of an image that better characterizes the grass-roots, get-out-the-vote, small-donations-by-millions-of-people aspect of Obama's campaign. (via 3qd)
Hopefully I'll have some time this afternoon to update the 2008 Election Maps page; I've got lots of good submissions waiting in my inbox. Thanks to everyone who sent in links and screenshots.
Idea for the Obama administration: fireside chats. On the radio, on satellite radio, as a podcast, transcripts available online soon after airing. Done live if possible, a genuine lightly scripted chat. Maybe Obama could have special guests on to talk about different aspects of policy and government. Bush does weekly radio addresses but they're short, boring, and scripted.
If you followed or were at all interested in the 2008 presidential election, this seven-part series by a group of Newsweek reporters is a must read. The reporters were granted exclusive access to the campaigns of Barack Obama, John McCain, and Hillary Clinton for a year on the condition that they wouldn't print anything until after the election was over. The series, of which the first three parts are currently up on the Newsweek site, is a fascinating look at how the political process works and contains all manner of salacious political gossip.
Part One: How Obama was persuaded to run and found his campaigning rhythm and his first scuffles with the Clinton campaign.
In some ways, running for president was a preposterous idea for someone who had served as a two-term state legislator and had spent only two years in the United States Senate. But Obama, a careful student of his own unique journey, could see the stars coming into alignment-the country was exhausted by the Iraq War (which he, alone among leading candidates, had opposed as "dumb" from the outset). As Obama saw it, the conservative tide in America was ebbing, and voters were turning away from the Republican Party. People were sick of politicians of the standard variety and yearned for someone new-truly new and different. Another politician with a superb sense of timing, Bill Clinton, perfectly understood why Obama saw a golden, possibly once-in-a-lifetime, opportunity. The former president believed that the mainstream press, whose liberal guilt Clinton understood and had exploited from time to time, would act as Obama's personal chauffeur on the long journey ahead. "If somebody pulled up a Rolls-Royce to me and said, 'Get in'," Clinton liked to say, with admiration and maybe a little envy, "I'd get in it, too."
Part Two: John McCain's campaign gets off to a terrible start and then suddenly recovers.
Along about Thanksgiving, reporters began to notice a change. The size of the crowds was increasing, and McCain began to creep up in the polls, especially in New Hampshire. He was blessed by the quality of his opponents. In the grim days of summer, when a NEWSWEEK reporter had asked why he shouldn't join the rest of the press corps in reading the last rites for McCain's presidential aspirations, Rick Davis had responded with an incongruously cheerful smile. Nothing personal, he said; our opponents are all good men, some of them are my friends-but politically speaking? "Look, at the end of the day," he said, "the rest of these guys suck." However crude, his judgment was not off base. Ex-businessman Mitt Romney seemed to treat the campaign as a management-consulting project, as if he were selling a product and trying to increase market share. He had no fingertips as a politician and came off as a phony, even when he was perfectly sincere. Rudy Giuliani seemed to be building a cult of Rudy, constantly talking about his performance on 9/11 to a nation that wanted to forget about the terrorist attacks, and he badly miscalculated by believing that he could wait until the Florida primary in late January to make his move. Former senator Fred Thompson seemed old and half asleep. Former governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas was emerging as an engaging showman and a lively dark horse-but as an evangelical minister with no foreign-policy experience, he almost certainly could not win.
Part Three: The role of the candidates' spouses, the continuing clashes between the Obama and Clinton campaigns, and Obama's Star Trek joke.
Obama carefully conserved his energy. He was not a man of appetites, like Bill Clinton, who would grab whatever goodie passed by on the tray. Obama was abstemious. Indeed, to the reporters following him, he appeared very nearly anorexic. Most candidates gain the Campaign 10 (or 15). Hillary was struggling with her waistline, as she gamely knocked back shots and beers in working-class bars and gobbled the obligatory sausage sandwiches thrust at her in greasy spoons along the Trail of the White Working-Class Voter. Obama, by contrast, lost weight. He regularly ate the same dinner of salmon, rice and broccoli. At Schoop's Hamburgers, a diner in Portage, Ind., he munched a single french fry and ordered four hamburgers-to go. At the Copper Dome Restaurant, a pancake house in St. Paul, Minn., he ordered pancakes-to go. (An AP reporter wondered: who gets pancakes for the road?) A waiter reeled off a long list of richly topped flapjacks, but Obama went for the plain buttermilk, saying, "I'm kind of traditionalist." Reporters joked that if he ate a single bite of burger or pancake once the doors of his dark-tinted SUV closed, they'd eat their BlackBerrys. Frustrated by reporters fishing for trivial "gaffes," Obama did not like coming back to the plane to talk to the press. As he trudged back from time to time to deal with the reporters' incessant questions, he looked like a suburban dad, slump-shouldered after a long day at the office, taking out the trash.
I got another sense, however: a sense that he was conserving focus. Fed went through all his subsidiary responsibilities as the President of Tennis (as Steve Tignor calls him) without concentrating on anything, or at least on as few things as possible.
Concentration takes mental energy, as anyone who has fought off five break points before shanking a ball on the sixth knows. And whenever I saw Federer on the grounds, he seemed to be using as little of it as possible. Practicing with Nicolas Kiefer on Ashe a few days before the tournament, he mostly just messed around. He would hit a few familiar Federer shots, the heavy forehand, the penetrating slice, then shank a ball and grin, or yell. Either way, he wasn't really concentrating all that hard.
Several folks on Twitter are talking about post-election sex and Obama babies (children conceived on election night...mark your calendars for late July 2009). The consensus seems to be that Barack got laid in a big way last night.
Update: Fuck you too, Arizona and Florida. Also, several people objected to the strong language I used here, saying that I can't curse an entire state where many voted against the ban, it was all the Mormon Church's fault, and in one case, that it was hypocritical of me as a New York resident to complain. You know what? I'm *upset* about this and a little profanity, a little lashing out, is totally fucking warranted.
Last night as the election results were coming in online, I took screenshots of a bunch of the now-familiar red/blue electoral maps being used by the larger media sites to show election results and posted them all on this page. (There are currently 25 maps...I'm adding more in a few minutes.)
1. No one strayed from the red and blue. The red/blue combo is overwhelmingly symbolic but there are plenty of other colors in the crayon box; I would like to have seen someone try something different.
2. In the 2000 and 2004 elections, the red/blue map was the focal point of the media coverage. People were fixated by it. This time around, it didn't matter so much. The maps were interesting for 3-4 hours until the overwhelming nature of Obama's victory became apparent and then, not so much. By this morning, the maps are already shrinking or disappearing from the home pages of the Times, CNN, and the like.
3. Nate Silver and the rest of the 538 guys nailed it. They got Indiana wrong and there are a couple more states that are still too close to call, but they got the rest of the map right. Their final projection had Obama getting 348.6 electoral votes and they currently have him at 349.
This page on kottke.org is the #1 result when you Google "obama wins". Servers may get a little melty around here in the next couple of days. That's ok...this is what Twitter's servers are going to look like tomorrow night:
BTW, Treasury? Might be time for an updated name...The Department of the Treasury sounds like that part of the government responsible for safeguarding the nation's jewels, pieces of eight, and fragments of the True Cross.
Michel Balinski and Rida Laraki have come up with a new voting scheme that they say will yield more accurate results in elections. It's called majority judgement. Instead of voting for one particular candidate, voters are asked to evaluate all the candidates on a scale from something like "excellent" to "reject". Here are the results of a trial that they ran in Orsay in France (scroll for English)...and you can see how the results differ from the official election results. To put this in a bit of US-centric context, imagine a voting system where honestly evaluating your feelings about the executive readiness of a third-party candidate like Ralph Nader doesn't necessarily harm a major party candidate's chances of getting elected. (*cough* Al Gore *cough* 2000 election.)
They're running an online majority judgement experiment using the 2008 US Presidential candidates...go sign up and vote. (thx, judy)
And then there's the self-created interview ad that is a product of recent advances in technology. Camcorders that can be taken anywhere. We've seen self-reporting from the Iraq War and video diaries created by soldiers. The photographs and videos from Abu Ghraib are part of this phenomenon. Ultimately, video-blogging and self-reporting finds its expression in campaigns like the "Joe the Plumber." As I understand it, the McCain campaign has posted on its Web pages a request for people to film themselves and discuss why they are Joe the Plumber or Hank the Laminator or Frank the Painter. The intention is to collect these testimonials and then cut them together for a tax revolt television ad.
I was just reading an article in the New York Times by Michael Pollen [sic] about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it's creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs because they're contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in healthcare costs. That's just one sector of the economy. You think about the same thing is true on transportation. The same thing is true on how we construct our buildings. The same is true across the board.
I wonder if McCain had a chance to read it. (thx, tim & jeremy)
This seems to speak of why so many on the right feel there's a MSM bias - 50% of the country is urban, 50% rural, but newspapers are located exclusively in urban areas. So, surprisingly, the major right-leaning papers are all located in parts of the country we consider highly leftish. The urban areas that are the largest are thus both the most liberal and the most likely to have a sizeable conservative target audience.
According to Editor and Publisher, Obama is leading McCain in newspaper endorsements by more than 2-to-1, including most of the major papers. Obama: LA Times, NY Times, Sacramento Bee, SF Chronicle, SJ Mercury, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Boston Globe, NY Daily News, The Houston Chronicle. McCain: San Diego Union-Tribune, Tampa Tribune, Boston Herald, New York Post, Dallas Morning News, The Detroit News.
Obama listens from a back stairwell as he is introduced in Muscatine, Iowa. It was his second or third speech of the day. Unlike many of the politicians I have photographed in the past, I find it is easy to get a photograph of Obama alone. He lets his staff do their jobs and not fuss over him.
I loved that he cleaned up after himself before leaving an ice cream shop in Wapello, Iowa. He didn't have to. The event was over and the press had left. He is used to taking care of things himself and I think this is one of the qualities that makes Obama different from so many other political candidates I've encountered.
Two staffers had just passed this site and done two pull-ups. Not to be outdone, Obama did three with ease, dropped and walked out to make a speech.
...and/or that those of his friends/colleagues/co-conspirators to whom he did reveal his true agenda, (William Ayers, et al) have also maintained absolute perfect silence/mendacity on the topic, forever, as no one who actually knows Obama has ever said, "You know, once he's got a couple of drinks in him, he starts going on about Che and finishing the Revolution;"
To summarize what little I learned from all this: A candidate may well change his or her position on, say, universal health care or Bosnia. But he or she cannot change the fact -- if it happens to be a fact -- that he or she is a pathological liar, or a dimwit, or a proud ignoramus. And even in the short run, this must and will tell.
To hammer home his point, Hitchens compares McCain to Admiral James Stockdale, Ross Perot's running mate in 1992. Oh yes, he went there.
Mr. McCain is not the first person to find himself in these circumstances. The last Arizona Republican to be a presidential nominee, Barry Goldwater, faced the issue. He was born in the Arizona territory in 1909, three years before it became a state. But Goldwater did not win, and the view at the time was that since he was born in a continental territory that later became a state, he probably met the standard.
In an NY Times op-ed piece, Michael Bloomberg says that he's not running for President but will support a candidate with an "independent approach".
The changes needed in this country are straightforward enough, but there are always partisan reasons to take an easy way out. There are always special interests that will fight against any challenge to the status quo. And there are always those who will worry more about their next election than the health of our country.
These forces that prevent meaningful progress are powerful, and they exist in both parties. I believe that the candidate who recognizes that the party is over - and begins enlisting all of us to clean up the mess - will be the winner this November, and will lead our country to a great and boundless future.
It's the morning after the election. The president elect calls you up and says, "You know, after this grueling, absurd campaign, I now see that the state of our democracy is something we have to grapple with right away. What should I do?"
Respondents include Bill Bradley, Hendrik Hertzberg, and Dahlia Lithwick. (via snarkmarket)
10. The primary system: Sure, the early primaries give a handful of white, rural voters disproportionate influence over the election and state caucuses make Tammany Hall look like a golden age of democratic participation, but they're an entrenched part of party politics at this point and it's not wise to mess with them. Just ask the Democrats in Michigan or Florida.
Related: the latest episode of This American Life leads with a fascinating piece about how the funny happens at The Onion. In a lovely paradox, it turns out that the process of making funny things isn't all that amusing...the sound of silence following the recitation of a funny possible headline in the writers' room is deep and unnerving. (thx, marshall)
Is it right to suggest, as many have, that atheists and agnostics are somehow less moral when the numbers on crime, divorce, alcoholism and other measures of social dysfunction show that non-believers in the United States are extremely under-represented in each category?
How would you suggest that we reason with someone who claims that his or her decisions are informed, shaped, even dictated by fundamental religious principles, which nevertheless can't be probed or questioned by those who don't share them?
The Democrats have now only two candidates who stand to chance against this powerful phalanx: Barack Obama, senator of City Chicago and nephew of Saddam Hussein; and Hillary Rodham Clinton, organizer of popular solidarity-building women's breakfasts for discussion of hair-hygiene and of place of woman in American politics, and only official wife of number-one enemy of Serbs and all Slavic peoples, Bill Clinton.
Man, I tell you what...you read Admiral Akbar's resume, take a look at his long career, his credentials, and it's amazingly clear how qualified he is to run a major government. What about his prescient snap evaluation..."It's a trap!" We sure could have used that in Iraq.
Update: An earlier version of this post wrongly stated that Mitt Romney raised his hand when asked about disbelieving evolution...Tom Tancredo was the third person. (thx to several who wrote in about this)