The Lady Vanishes
I will, of course, burn in hell for last night's gloating post (about which, accord- ing to Slate, there's still a 2.5% chance I'll feel major embarrassment down the road). Blame Lanny Davis--after a couple of hours of him explaining why the entire nominating process up to and including yesterday was just a fictitious construct, there's no floor on the depths to which I'll sink. Dizzying: when that first 28% came in from Gary sometime after 11:00 and--is this actually happening?--it looked like Indiana was his. I agree with (Clinton supporter) Mickey Kaus that the attendant scandal wouldn't have been worth the win. One thing I thought back to during Obama's speech was that strange interlude when he was reeling off 11 in a row, and how a couple of times she managed to speak at the end of the night without even acknowledging that she'd just been stung with another damaging loss. She's made progress: she made sure to congratulate him on North Carolina last night-- "must..demonstrate...cognizance...of...events"--even if there was still a trace of that surreal "pay no attention to those flames engulfing me on all sides" quality to her rah-rah exhortations. By way of contrast, he was gracious after Ohio and Texas, gracious after Pennsylvania--when it really did look like the wheels might fall off-- and I don't have any reason to believe he wouldn't have been every bit as gracious even if he'd gone 0-2 last night. (Preemptively congratulating her on Indiana was tactically brilliant.) I don't think he's capable of anything else. You would think people might value that in a president. Something you get when you do an image-search on "gracious": "Gracious Spirit #1" courtesy of the Brooklyn Art Project. ----- Day-after comedown...CNN's 8:00 roundtable tonight mostly consists of general-election volleying--lingering Hillary stuff, but mostly Obama and McCain. Right away, you know you've seen this movie. I'm just not sure if the next few months will be as interest- ing as the last few. As generally terrific as I think Obama is, you may have detected that animus towards his opponent has had more than a little to do with my rooting in- terest in the eventual outcome. (Hopping around CNN's electoral map of North Carolina the other night, I noticed she took Transylvania County by a 53-45% margin. That seems about right.) Take Clinton out of the equation, though, and you're left with Gore/Bush and Kerry/Bush all over again: taxes blah-blah-blah, judges blah-blah-blah, military resolve blah-blah-blah, etc. etc., so on and so forth. Obama/Clinton has been an almost perfect confluence of competing dramas, and the last-gasp machinations of the losing side have been sad, epic, fascinating. McCain is McCain: I don't have much feeling one way or the other for him anymore, and I suspect he'll just bumble along from start to finish, either winning or losing in the end not because of anything he says or does, but wholly predicated upon whatever consensus the country reaches with regards to Obama. Barack will have to provide all the drama himself this time; the historical dimensions of his candidacy ensure a certain amount of drama up-front, Wright and Ayers and what Sullivan calls "the freak show" guarantees some more, but this also has the potential to be as forgettable a contest as Clinton/Dole in '96. ----- A couple of more entries and I'm going to start archiving election material. I'll likely keep posting right up to Nov. 5, which would suggest three sections: Indiana/ North Carolina ends part I, from there to the official nomination will be part II, and the general's part III. If Barack wins, I may or may not keep going. One poor word choice in yesterday's post: "forgettable." With the first black pres- ident looming, it's impossible that the upcoming campaign will be forgettable in broad outline. The match-up does bear an unmistakable resemblance to Clinton and Dole in '96, though, and the truth is, even though I followed that election pretty closely, I can't recall a single concrete detail 12 years later in terms of day-to-day specifics--no gaffes, no controversy, no volatile issues. All I remember is how an overwhelming certainty set in at some point that Clinton would win. If McCain is Dole (war hero, generally liked and admired by the American public, just as generally viewed as yes- terday's guy) and Obama's Clinton (magnetic, loved and hated, carrying baggage that makes a certain percentage of voters see red), I can see where the next few months might unfold just as predictably as in '96. And maybe I'm way off here, but I'd be very surprised if the result were any different; I just can't see Obama losing to McCain. If you take a look at every election since '60, it's amazing how reliable a predictor the simple concept of yesterday-vs.-tomorrow is. There are crystal-clear examples like Kennedy/Nixon, Carter/Ford, Reagan/Carter, Clinton/Bush, Clinton/Dole, and Bush/Gore, and then there are cases like Nixon/Humphrey, Reagan/Mondale, and Bush/Kerry where the winner was at least perceived to be more forward-looking than the loser (notice Nixon's neat repositioning of himself eight years after losing to Kennedy). Johnson/Goldwater may fit into the second group, I'm not sure; Bush/Dukakis, I don't know what the hell that was all about. The one clear counter-example is Nix- on/McGovern, which also happens to be the precedent that Republicans are seemingly pinning their hopes on. But '72 notwithstanding, McCain beating Obama sure would break with the past. Speaking of Nixon...Besides the three Obama Time covers I posted last night, he's thus far shared two covers with Hillary, shared one with his mom as a three-year-old, and he got a cameo head-shot onto a "100 Most Influential People" issue from last year. So give him five-and-a-half covers so far. He'll get one more out of the convention, at least a couple more during the general, and, if he wins, one for the victory and another for "Man of the Year." That would put him over 10 before his first day in office. If he then went on to serve two terms, and averaged five covers a year (very unlikely), he'd leave office with 50. I read somewhere the other day that the famously photogenic Nixon still holds the record with 55. ----- I've archived the first couple months of this--"this" because I haven't yet figured out a title that's not laughably cliched ("Decision 2008," "Campaign Notes," etc.). For now it goes under the title "Barack." That will change. I said yesterday there'll be three sections. Maybe I'll need four; her minions are still all over the radio and TV, so, to paraphrase David Letterman, there may be a transitional "The Great State of Denial" phase before the nomination countdown offi- cially begins. And seeing as she's still begging to be kicked around some more, a little bit about her USA Today interview. If you've somehow managed not to catch what she said (the day after Indiana and North Carolina), here's the key line: "Senator Obama's support among working, hard- working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me." They're not, um, her words--as you may have noticed from the faulty grammar, I edited out the first part of the quote, which begins with her citing an AP report. So all the disgust and disbelief that have greeted her comments should not be directed at her. The Associated Press is the real villian here. I tried to get a sound file of the interview, but I couldn't find one that was downloadable. Here's a link where you can listen. On the printed page, there's some ambiguity in that comma between "hard-working Americans" and "white Americans"; is the comma meant to separate or link? Are we talking about two overlapping groups, or does "hard-working" = "white"? Well, if you give it a listen, clearly separation was not the intent; the comma really does seem to stand in for "and by 'hard-working,' I mean 'white'." Sorry, let me rephrase my interpretation of what she seems to be saying: "and by 'hard-working,' the Associated Press means 'white'." It probably doesn't make much difference at this point. She says that in March, and that might have been game over right then and there. In fairness, I think Obama more or less got a pass on his "typical white person" remark when he was trying to clarify an anecdote concerning his grandmother--it got lost in the shuffle of all the initial Wright fallout, but I wouldn't be surprised if it resurfaces at some point. The one thing I'm pretty sure he wasn't trying to do, though, was send a coded mes- sage to black voters in upcoming primaries. The Associated Press, I'm not so sure. ----- Reimagining one of the greatest sports photos ever: Love it. ----- Of the many specious myths that have been been given an airing during the Democratic campaign, I ridiculed what to me is the emptiest one of all a few days ago: that Clinton's new-found "coalition" of hard-working Euro-Americans and small-town NRA members constitutes a base of support she could count on were she to move into the general (never mind the fondness right-wing radio suddenly has for her). Obviously, a sizable chunk of her primary voters from those demographics would ditch her imme- diately, not only for McCain but for just about any Republican with a pulse. No ques- tion that she has millions of supporters ready to walk off a cliff for (or with) her, but Joe Pennsylvania ain't one of them. There was another striking example last night of how essentially durable I think anti-Hillary sentiment remains. Remember a couple of months ago, when Saturday Night Live returned to air with its debate parody, how it was widely speculated that SNL was in Clinton's corner? That initial debate sketch had something to do with the six- weeks-in-hell Obama subsequently endured--Wright and the all the rest of it was of course the main reason, but the SNL parody lingered in the background. Anyone who saw last night's opening SNL sketch is not going to be waiting around for another friendly cameo from Hillary anytime soon. It was brutal--notwithstanding that politicians are required to be preternaturally thick-skinned, I think it would have been a very sobering thing for her to sit there and watch. The sketch was basi- cally Amy Poehler as Clinton cheerfully enumerating and explaining the three reasons why she was still the better general-election candidate: 1) I'm a sore loser (and therefore won't support Obama the way he'll support me); 2) My supporters are racist (ditto); and 3) I have no ethical standards (always an advantage in politics). One of the popular cliches of the last few weeks has been people throwing other people under the bus. Last night SNL threw Hillary under the bus, then they drove the bus back and forth across her body for five very withering minutes. ----- Tomorrow night will be strange--I don't think I've ever watched a baseball game or any other kind of sporting event where I was rooting for someone to get merely trounced rather than obliterated. I'd say the over/under sits at about 65-35; any- thing closer's no big deal (if she were to miraculously fall short of 60, it's a disaster for her), but if the margin's wider--even though technically that's no big deal either--we'll have to listen to all sorts of hand-wringing and pointless second-guessing the whole night. Kentucky next week will be more of the same, but at least it'll be cushioned by Oregon. I suppose this is unfair, but the prospect of this one small state turning out in droves for a defiant and symbolic repudiation of one party's presumptive nominee has had me thinking about Neil Young's "Alabama" all day: Alabama, you've got the rest of the union to help you along What's going wrong? If there's a West Virginian band out there somewhere with a rejoinder as brilliant as "Sweet Home Alabama," I'd love to hear it. ----- I don't think I have anything worth saying about last night. I'll be very interested to see what happens in West Virginia come November. A few weeks ago, I was applauding the timing of Bill Richardson's endorsement--it came right in the middle of the initial Wright maelstrom, and it was a clear statement that at least one key party figure was in no way wavering at a critical moment. Far from self-serving, I thought Richardson took a palpable risk in terms of his own pros- pects for the next few years; no one knew exactly where the Wright story was headed at the time, and if it happened that the fallout was about to take down Obama for good, then Richardson would have essentially vanished right alongside him. Today's Edwards endorsement feels a lot different, even though it too has been trotted out at a moment of (albeit significantly less drastic) uncertainty. The main reason I know it feels different is that it actually makes me feel sorry for Hillary, something I wouldn't have thought possible. I just don't get why Edwards dithered around for two months over this. And if he wanted, for whatever reason, to hold off until after North Carolina, couldn't he have at least spoken up before last night, when he may have had enough sway to turn an awkward, somewhat troubling 40-point blowout into a generic, barely-noticeable 20- point sleeper? Coming out the next day and stepping all over what may well be Clin- ton's last flurry of adulation in this campaign is odd, to say the least. Edwards would argue that the timing was in the service of party unity, but to me I see a guy who reduces personal risk to the almost absolute minimum, while at the same time giv- ing the appearance that he's stepping in, as Richardson did, at a moment when Bar- ack's seen to be wobbling. The endorsement speech was fine, and there were seemingly heartfelt words set aside for Hillary. But if I were a Clinton supporter--and especially if I were female--I'd see these two smiling GQ guys up on stage, hear the booing when my candidate's name is mentioned, and wonder if last night even happened at all. I really think this could have been handled with a little more sensitivity. ----- For all the battering Obama's been subjected to since that breakthrough night in South Carolina when he was still walking on water, I think one thing remains more or less as true today as it was then: the Republicans really aren't sure how to run against him. Sometimes Wright/Ayers/San Francisco seems to be the way to go, but then something like that congressional race in Mississippi will strongly suggest otherwise. So there they were yesterday, flailing away on three different fronts: Bush in Israel, an anti-Michelle (!) ad in Tennessee, and Karl Rove addressing the NRA. (I'll give Huckabee a pass on his lead balloon at what I assume was the same NRA event. He earned some markers for his sanity and civility over Wright.) I suspect the Republicans are going to have a real fat-kid-in-a-candy-store problem from now until November: they're going to be running against the first black presidential can- didate ever, a deliberative intellectual with an unconventional background, a young guy with big ears and a name that's allusive in all the wrong ways, and even though they know they ought to tread lightly around all that stuff and "stick to the is- sues," they just won't be able to help themselves. One after another--the President today, some mid-level advisor tomorrow, the candidate himself next week--they're going to dive right in and self-destruct. No one ever mentions Biden any more for VP, but he sure would be a lot of fun. I bet "sweetie" wouldn't be such a big deal with him around. ----- A sad story that needs a sad soundtrack: the New Colony Six's "The Time of the Year Is Sunset" from 1966. ----- I only caught a bit of Face the Nation, so I may have missed somebody, but I think this morning was the first time in ages where there weren't any Clinton people on the Sunday roundtables. Gone in 60 seconds--after all the pyrotechnics, it's amazing how suddenly and relatively quietly Hillary has receded into the background. I've come across one poll that has Oregon down to five points; I just can't see Obama losing, but if he were to, and assuming he loses Kentucky as lopsidedly as expected, we'd be heading into some uncharted weirdness. I've had to deal with a lot of kids who misbehave over the years. I've never taught a kid whose life's mission is to wipe Israel off the map, but there are always at least a couple each year who will consistently and predictably make bad choices. Sometimes I use carrots to try to get them not to do these things, sometimes I use sticks. (Metaphorically, okay?) Sometimes I enlist outside help--parents, administra- tion, our behavioural teacher--most times I act unilaterally. I've never been big on negotiating with 12- and 13-year-olds, but occasionally I'll do that too. I never have pre-conditions before negotiations begin. So I guess, when absolutely necessary, you could say I've taken on the role of appeaser. Before Illinois and Arizona meet in November, they may face off in October. The Cubs, White Sox, and Diamondbacks are all in first place right now--Arizona has had the best record in either league the whole way, led by Brandon Webb's phenomenal 9-0 start, the first pitcher since 1985 to do so. The White Sox and D-Backs have each won a recent Series, though, so this year it's the Cubs' turn. Alfonso in October, Barack in November. ----- Time out for an important document. Dave Rave, my old editor at Nerve, has put together a list of his 45 favourite singles to coincide with his 45th birthday. Dave is, by his own admission, a little behind the times when it comes to the "web net," so I told him I'd gladly post his list here. Biggest surprise: no Gowan. ----- Appease Hillary--if it'll shut her up, if it'll leave her with nothing left to whine about, give her Michigan and Florida. Some quick math...Barack is 156 pledged dele- gates ahead; if he wins Montana (16) and South Dakota (15) and she wins Puerto Rico (55), she'll probably cut the lead to 145 or so. She'd pick up 73 more if you give her Michigan, and she'd get a net gain of 38 out of Florida. Final score: Obama wins by 30-35 pledged delegates. He's already opened up a superdelegate lead that current- ly stands at 27, and that's not going to be threatened by a smaller margin of victory in pledged delegates. So: he still wins the supers, he maintains his lead in pledged delegates, he wins. Done. There are three complicating factors: 1) Michigan and Florida (and a big win in Puerto Rico) would likely give her the popular vote lead, provided you don't count some, or maybe all, of the caucuses--it gets kind of confusing, but I know there's some magic combination where she'd win the popular vote. 2) Where do Michigan's 55 "uncommitted" delegates go? If you go by the numbers outlined above, there are theoretically enough of them to give her the lead in over- all delegates. 3) If you bow to Michigan and Florida, and don't punish them for breaking rules that were made clear to them from the outset, then you've opened up a myriad of poten- tial problems down the road. I don't think the first would threaten Obama's claim to the nomination in any way. The popular-vote argument has no inherent value; it only works if Clinton can convince superdelegates that it's actually meaningful. You would hope that none of them would be convinced, since everyone would know that it was only achieved through a phony compromise. It's an argument that would have no practical value at all. I don't see Michigan's uncommitted delegates presenting a problem. Whether you view those votes as pro-Obama/Edwards or anti-Clinton, the point is that they don't end up going to her. They could only widen Obama's lead, not endanger it in any way. As far as the third point goes, that one's trickier, but I think you would effect- ively be punishing those states anyway by only counting their votes at a point where they don't matter anymore. You'd essentially be saying, "We've already decided on our nominee, so sure, all your votes count; they're not going to have any impact whatso- ever on a decision that's already been made." There are also excellent arguments against capitulation, chief among them that Hillary's out there making a fool of herself again, a spectacle that's always fun to watch. Or there's what I'd call the grade-1 argument: that by grade 1, most kids understand that once you agree to a set of rules, you're not allowed to change them if they don't suit your purposes anymore. Complicated stuff like that. I need to reconnect with Barack again. I wasn't as excited by the Oregon win, or by his Iowa speech earlier that evening, as I should have been. Not sure why. ----- "Mistah Wright, he dead." I think I've started and abandoned Heart of Darkness three different times in my life, the kind of thing people usually say about War and Peace or Finnegan's Wake, not a novel that checks in at about 120 pages. I'll probably try again at some point. Thanks to Francis Ford Coppola and the famous line paraphrased above, I al- ready know how it ends. It was pretty funny seeing McCain doing major damage control on the pastor front yesterday, forced to cut loose not just one but two different creeping liabilities. First was John Hagee, and as McCain explained his dismay over Hagee's Holocaust theo- ries, you could tell he wasn't quite ready yet to let go of Jeremiah Wright; he made a point of reminding people that he hadn't been attending Hagee's sermons for 20 years, and he had never turned to Hagee for spiritual counsel. ("I was just transpar- ently grovelling for support from a voting block that disdains me every bit as much as I disdain them"--my mistake, he never actually said that.) About 23 minutes later, he was out there again, this time to give what I'll hereby dub "The Full Jeremiah"-- repudiate, denounce, and reject--to Rod Parsley (who, I was pleased to learn, once did a brief turn as Humble Pie's lead singer in 1972). McCain's contrast of his arm's-length relationship with these people to Obama's with Wright is perfectly valid and just as meaningless. The only thing that counts is that Hagee and Parsley effectively shut down any possibility of a fresh round of Wright hysteria in the fall. Does McCain or anyone in his campaign really want to start picking over the relative merits of Hagee's and Parsley's crackpot ideas versus those of Wright's? No, I'm pretty sure they don't. My guess is that, after yesterday, the only people still obsessing over Wright come November will either live in West Virginia or Kentucky, or they'll host radio shows on Patriot. ----- The thing that surprises me most about Clinton's latest mess is that there's still enough anti-Hillary energy out there to summon forth the level of reaction it did. At this point, with the nomination wrapped up and her running as a ghost, I thought everyone might have just sighed and whispered "Look away, look away..." But she hit a nerve, and the outcry has been comparable to what Obama went through with Wright and San Francisco. I would have welcomed the political cover her comments might have provided a few weeks ago, but, notwithstanding something I wrote above, it's actually not all that enjoyable to see someone go down in flames so spectacularly. I'm really not sure what to make of what she said. My inclination is to believe that there was no deeper mean- ing whatsoever to her RFK comparison, that she was 100% focussed on the nomination timeline and just used a bad example to illustrate her point. But the idea that our words sometimes reveal far more than we want them to (originally attributable to Freud, I believe, and later revised by Jake LaMotta) can't be discounted altogether, and looked at from that vantage point, her Nixonian fascination grows ever deeper. ----- It took political analysts a few weeks to figure this out--or maybe just to admit it--but it turns out that all the recent talk of Obama's "problem" with white voters isn't nearly so all-encompassing; he instead has a very specific problem with a very specific region, Appalachia, and the problem isn't so much his as it is theirs. Here's one link among many--love the droll headline. Remember the minor uproar a few weeks ago when Congressman Geoff Davis of Kentucky offered his sensitive appraisal of Bar- ack's foreign-policy credentials? "I'm going to tell you something: That boy's finger does not need to be on the button." Thanks, Geoff--with friends like this, who needs exit polls? I am not at all saying that every vote cast for Clinton in West Virginia and Ken- tucky was a product of racism. About 20% of Clinton voters apparently are very up- front (perhaps even proud) about this, and you can add some undetermined additional percentage who feel the same way but won't admit to it. That still leaves a large swath of anti-Obama voters who were motivated by other considerations. But when you concede that much of the electorate off the top, it makes it pretty much impossible to win either state in November, and sure enough, Obama's getting crushed by McCain in current Kentucky polling. Maybe this is laughable naivete, but there may be a hidden upside to this through- out the rest of the country. Most people are basically fair and decent, right? Maybe there's a not insignificant percentage of people scattered throughout the other 48 states (or 47-and-a-half; I believe a large part of Pennsylvania counts as Appala- chia) who will recoil from the sobering reality that this is still going on. Maybe there are voters whose political inclination might have been to support McCain, if only half-heartedly, but they'll instead vote for Obama as a symbolic gesture--about the fact that it's 2008, and it's time to move on. And maybe there'll be enough of them to tip one or two states. ----- It was a busy week at school, but that had less to do with keeping me away than the simple fact of waning enthusiasm. I don't think it's too hard to figure out why. Excepting the excitement of Obama's North Carolina win coupled with his microscopic loss in Indiana, the last few weeks have essentially consisted of a) Obama scandals, b) Clinton landslides, and c) Obama carefully walking on eggshells, as he tries not to antagonize Clinton or her voters. South Carolina, which for me was Obama's great- est night of the campaign, seems eons ago. Yesterday's Rules Committee meeting was an interesting non-event. You knew ahead of time that whatever they arrived at would not change the race at all--there was no way Clinton was coming out of there with a favorable result. Basically, the whole thing was a charade. If it had been a couple of solidly Republican states that had broken the rules, say Texas and Arizona, yesterday wouldn't have happened--as threat- ened, they would have lost all their delegates. But because it's two states that could determine the winner in November, they got 50% of what they wanted, and once Clinton concedes, there'll be the charade of Obama restoring the other 50%. A clear message has been sent out for 2012: do not, under any circumstances, break party rules concerning the calendar, unless you're an important swing-state, in which case do as you wish, we'll work something out when the time comes. Hurray for Donna Brazile having the bad manners to remind everyone that cheating is cheating. Meanwhile, Reverend 3rd Bass was far and away creepier than anything that came from Jeremiah Wright. Watching a white guy prance around to curry favour with a largely black audience, one that I would have hoped would have been cringing as much as I was--they instead seemed to be with him all the way--was depressing. And the ab- ject stupidity of this guy was astounding. Although it's frustrating how Obama has had to refrain from criticizing Clinton the past couple of weeks, I understand the reality of the situation, as should anyone supporting Obama. But this wingnut instead decides it would be a good time to start openly taunting the other side, and chooses to do so in racial terms. "What can I do to help Barack today?"--well thought out, Reverend. Solid wins in Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday will go a long way towards quell- ing one uncomfortable possibility. The more I look at polls, and the more Obama gives the impression of backing into the nomination, the more I think she may be right: she might be the stronger candidate in November. ----- It's all over tomorrow. You would hope, anyway--surely enough supers will declare early in the day so that South Dakota and Montana push him past the finish line. If they hold off until Wednesday and deny Obama all the attendent media hoopla that will go along with actual voters clinching the nomination, they're fools. I suppose everyone who's ever won a political campaign has felt battered by the end, but this one has seemed especially brutal, bringing to mind another iconic Ali image--his 1968 Esquire cover. Some of, or much of--or somewhere between some of and much of--the damage was self-inflicted. Meanwhile, a poll came out today that has Clinton up by an astounding 60-34 in South Dakota...shudder. After a month or two of twisting in the wind, we need something to feel good about. Two wins, a great speech, and a clear sense of the historical moment should be more than enough. ----- I'll stand by what I wrote just before North Carolina and Indiana with regards to an Obama/Clinton ticket: no, no, no, and no again. Doubly so if, as seems to be the case today, she's dangling the possibility as a means of forcing his hand and creating yet another media distraction. I'll even concede something at this point that wasn't even a factor a few weeks ago (when one of the strongest arguments against her was the simple fact she would likely have been a drag on Obama); she might now well be critical to his chances in November, bringing in (or at least holding onto) enough votes from women and hard-workin' white people to shore up his own demographic strengths. They could well be unbeatable together. I'd rather lose. ----- Amazing, amazing timing. It's been widely noted that when Barack officially accepts the nomination on August 28, he'll do so on the 45th anniversary of MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech (which I assume means as delivered during the March on Washington; surely he gave variations on the same speech elsewhere). Steve Rubio's blog has alerted me to the fact that today, the day on which Hillary is numerically van- quished, happens to be the 40th anniversary of Valerie Solanas's assassination attempt on Andy Warhol. I bet Solanas's explanation of what motivated her would have a wry poignancy for those Clinton supporters (and the hundreds of thousands who share their anger) who were yelling "Denver, Denver" on Saturday afternoon: "I just wanted him to pay attention to me." ----- Martin Luther King will be quite rightly commemorated a few thousand times tonight, as analysts try to give historical context to the moment. I hope somebody thinks to reach back a little bit farther. Speaking of which, I had a baseball game tonight and haven't yet watched any of the speeches; I set the VCR and will look at them tomorrow. The CNN panel is almost unanimously panning Clinton's, and doing so emphatically. From this point forward, she and her sychophants have lost the right to say she's staying in until someone actually wins. Someone has now actually won. Every day that she refuses to concede this--and apparently she passed on her opportunity to do so tonight--pro- vides additional reason for her own party to shun her. ----- So she concedes on Saturday--the math, apparently, is just not there. I'll also use Saturday to close out this section of my election scribblings--what I called the "Great State of Denial" section after North Carolina/Indiana, not really expecting that it would involve so much turmoil getting from point A (inevitable victory) to point B (metaphysical certitude, as John McLaughlin used to say). I still haven't gotten around to watching Clinton's speech from the other night, but I did play about 10 minutes' worth of Obama's for my class. Most thrilling moment: "Because of you, tonight I can stand here and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for the president of the United States of America," a wav file of which will lead off the mix-CD I'll give to my students in a few weeks. Nagging mystery that doesn't mean a thing but bothers me nonetheless: why did he lose South Dakota so badly? A friend tells me he's going to try to keep some distance the next while--which, he then goes on to say, will still mean 1-2 hours a day! I think I'm still good for twice that at least, between CNN, Patriot, and the web. Unless they start fix- ating on issues and policy, at which point I'll be pining for Hillary. ----- I keep missing all the good stuff. I wasn't in this afternoon, so all I caught of Clinton's speech was a few seconds towards the end. Everyone on CNN seems to agree it was worth the wait. Maybe--I have my doubts. The one thing I know she didn't say was the one thing that politicians rarely provide, the absolute truth (a charge from which I don't exempt Obama--he also came up short in Philadelphia): I know a lot people were confused and angry that it took me so long to support Senator Obama. The fact is, I was having a hard time accepting that I'd lost. This is the most disappointing thing I've experienced in my life, but I think I'm past the worst now. I've compared her to Nixon more than once, but he still stands alone as providing the most honest moment of self-assessment in political history. And he probably stumbled onto it totally by accident. Davis, Begala, McAuliffe, they're all on Larry King tonight. Begala's a regular on CNN, so he'll be around for the duration. The other two will likely vanish for a long while. Yes they should. ----- Another bit of serendipity that I didn't pick up on initially. Yves St. Laurent died a week ago today. My interest in the world of fashion sits somewhere between minimal and non-existent, so I didn't take much notice of his death until This Week's "In Memoriam" segment this morning. The signature achievement they ascribed to him? The pant suit. Driving downtown yesterday morning, I was listening to the mix-CD for my students that I mentioned in an earlier post. The Clash's "Complete Control" is on there, a song I've never placed on a Top 100 list but which might sit in my Top 10 today. I switched over to the radio at one point and had to dodge the Doobie Brothers' "China Grove," which I've hated for three decades and counting. Surprising discov- ery: for about the first two-and-a-half seconds, it's not impossible to confuse the two. Keep listening, though, and the one seems incalculably more vital and alive than the other. On to the conventions.