1) From the New York Times, "So Where's Murphy" by William Kristol. As I mentioned earlier in the day, Kristol feels that political consultant extraordinaire Mike Murphy will soon return to John McCain's side and make sense out of the tone-deaf and contradictory hash that the McCain campaign has been cooking up:
"Murphy's arrival would mean a fair amount of turmoil. The current McCain campaign is chock full of G.O.P. establishment types, many of whom aren't great fans of the irreverent Murphy. Murphy's also made no secret of his low opinion of the Bush-Rove political machine that has produced many of these operatives. And Murphy hasn't made his possible entry into the campaign smoother by telling a New York Times reporter the other day that ‘the depressingly self-absorbed McCain campaign machine needs to get out of the way' of its candidate."
My fear with the McCain campaign is that it has the philosophy, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And if it is broke, do nothing because maybe it will fix itself." Sometimes such a strategy can work. See "Republican Primaries 2008" for a case study. But it won't be enough going up against a strong opponent in a Democratic year. Or, to paraphrase Princess Leia, "Help us Mike Murphy - you're our only hope." Other than Obama self-destructing which of course remains a possibility. 2) From the Wall Street Journal, "Obama Faces Resistance From Top Supporters of Clinton" by John R. Emshwiller and Christopher Cooper As the old saying goes, hell hath no fury like an irrational nag scorned, let alone a bunch of irrational nags. The Journal reports that "Clinton holdouts are typically most angry about what they say was the media's sexist treatment of Sen. Clinton during the campaign. And though few, if any, blame Sen. Obama directly, they fault the Illinois senator and other party leaders for what they say was failing to do enough to stop it." Sitting atop the list of silly grievances? "Pundits both on TV and in print referred to Sen. Clinton's laugh as a ‘cackle.'" First of all, objectively speaking, it was a cackle. It is not sexist to call it what it was. Second of all, I was doing a radio show on the Sunday night after Hillary had debuted her cackle (and that is what it was) with Chris Wallace earlier that day on Fox News Sunday. I spent pretty much the entire show making fun of the cackle. Personally, I would rather have spent the time discussing secular humanism or some other more edifying topic, but the listening public kept demanding, "More cackle!" My point is this - I'm unclear exactly what Barack Obama could have done to stop this particular show's sorry direction. Okay, maybe he could have tried to pass the Fairness Doctrine while in the senate instead of writing a dreary campaign book. But it doesn't seem like the Clinton backers have a reasonable beef here. 3) From the New York Times Magazine, "Late-Period Limbaugh" by Zev Chafets. Some people on the left found this lengthy story very annoying. Others on the right found it maddening. I found it enormously entertaining and insightful. Limbaugh comes across as a quadruple threat, just like he does on his show - funny, intelligent, well-spoken and funny again because he's just that good. I especially enjoyed the little nugget on the talk radio business model:
Some (sponsors) simply run their usual ads. Others use Limbaugh as their pitchman, which costs them a premium and a long-term commitment. And lately he has created a new option. At a much higher rate he will weave a product into his monologue (To a caller who said he took two showers after voting for Clinton in Operation Chaos, Limbaugh responded: "If you had followed my advice and gotten a Rinnai tankless water heater, you wouldn't have needed to take two showers. And I'll tell you why. . . .")
This is the one part of talk radio that would-be liberal talk show hosts have never been able to get through their dogmatic little minds. Talk radio is a business, and the endgame comes when the sponsors give you their money. Putting on a good show, assembling a network and getting an audience are necessary first steps, but that's all they are. (Of course most liberal talkers can't accomplish even those things, but that's another story.) 4) From the Wall Street Journal, "The Credit Crisis is Going to Get Worse" by Brian Carney Carney sat down with billionaire financier Teddy Forstman to get the often prescient Forstman's read on where the economy is headed:
"Buffett once told me there are three 'I's in every cycle. The 'innovator,' that's the first 'I.' After the innovator comes the 'imitator.' And after the imitator in the cycle comes the idiot. Which makes way for an innovator again." So when Mr. Forstmann says we're at the end of an era, it's another way of saying that he's afraid that the idiots have made their entrance. "We're in the third 'I' for sure," he interjects an hour after first introducing the "rule." "And that always leads to something. Innovators don't just show up. Some disaster takes place because of the idiots, and then an innovator says, oh, look at this, I can do this, that or the other thing." That disaster is now. In other words, "In order to fix what's going on in the United States there's going to have to be a certain amount of pain. The market's going to have to clear somehow. . . and it's hard for me to believe that it gets fixed without" upheaval in the financial system, the economy and the country as a whole. "Things are going to fail. Enterprises are going to fail. The economy is going to slow," he warns. To be clear, although Mr. Forstmann talks about "fear and greed" getting out of whack, his is not a condemnation of "greedy speculators" or a "culture of greed" or any of the lamentations so popular among the populists in Washington. It is a diagnosis of the ways in which the financial sector responded to a government policy of printing money that was free, or nearly so. "The creation of much too much money caused all of this excess," he says. In other words, his is not an argument for draconian regulation, but for sound money.
Forstman has a way of explaining complicated things in simple terms. He's long made me recall Ronald Reagan in that regard. Even a Democratic congressman could understand Forstman! Maybe. If you want to know what's going in with our economy, read the whole thing. And then shudder at the thought that we have two presidential finalists who have spent a combined 23 minutes in the private sector. 5) From the Politico, "McCain Promises to Balance Budget," by Mike Allen. I wrote earlier in the day that the McCain economic plan seems like a philosophical car wreck involving the Concord Coalition and the Phil Gramm/Jack Kemp wing of the GOP. That was when I was young and full of snark. Now the whole thing just depresses me. The country is quietly panicking over the state of the economy, and yet I haven't heard the phrase "balanced budget" on the evening news in months. (Thank heavens for small favors.) Not to minimize the swellness of a balanced budget, but it's just not where the country's head is at right now. The silver lining for the GOP is the other guy running for president thinks we can tax our way to prosperity and that if a home an American desires is beyond his reach financially, Option A is to have a political fixer friend make the problem go away and give you a backyard in the process. In other words, our guy knows more about economics than their guy. Maybe if Mike Murphy does join the McCain campaign, he can use some derivation of that last sentiment as the new slogan. 6) From Investor's Business Daily, "Energy Myths" by the editors. Assuming you're able to shove aside your panic over the unbalanced budget and want to read something on a trivial matter like the oil crisis, this editorial is an excellent place to turn. Myths are exploded, truths revealed. To wit, we can to a great extent drill our way out of the energy crisis. But with so many people crazy for $4/gallon gas including a certain presidential candidate who thinks $4 gas is just hope/change-eriffic, do we (or rather they) really want to? Bonus: From the Richard Hétu blog, "McCain Peut-il Sauver sa Campagne? by Richard Hétu. They love the Boss (or le Boss as he will henceforth be known) north of the border!
C'est la question que soulève le chroniqueur du New York Times William Kristol, un admirateur de John McCain, dans ce texte… Mais rien n'est encore perdu pour McCain, soutient Kristol. Le sénateur de l'Arizona peut encore sauver sa campagne en complétant le remaniement qu'il a commencé la semaine dernière. Le chroniqueur révèle ainsi que McCain songe à ramener dans son équipe Mike Murphy, le stratège républicain qui avait orchestré sa campagne présidentielle de 2000. On verra si McCain passera à l'action sur ce front.
At least I think they love him. I don't speak French.
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