The Best Man

1) Post-debate polls: Biden Palin CNN 51 36 CBS 46 21 Fox 61 39 2) A different debate, from somewhere beyond space and time. 3) Fourth quarter, clock ticking down: "Our someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." (I lifted that from a news report; I assume as originally delivered it was "pallin' around," perhaps even "gall darn it pallin' around.") Oh, man...Just for fun, I hope someone gets a chance to follow up: "Tell us what you know about the Weathermen, Governor, or what you know about 1968. Tell us a little bit about John Carlos, Curtis LeMay, or Creedence Clearwater. Tell us a little bit about something. Tell us a little bit about anything." The re- sponse from Obama's campaign yesterday was too tepid to bother quoting, but I'll again defer to their strategic discipline. If I'd been in charge, I would have blown the whole election. ----- From what I've seen and read today, it would appear that Obama's side was just wait- ing for Ayers to make a reappearance. There's a very aggressive push-back underway, from surrogates and supporters alike--some stuff that's been out there for a while, plus a couple of things that are new to me. I'll leave it to you to look around. The swiftness and ferocity with which people are striking back is undoubtedly compounded by the fact that the "palling around" charge came from Palin (or, more precisely, came out of her mouth; I don't think you can ever take it for granted that she fully understands what she's saying); she's got a chance to become the Democrats' most de- spised bête noire since Nixon. (To that end, I suspect Tina Fey helps more than she hurts, keeping Palin safely within the realm of endearingly silly.) Two days ago, I wrote that "she'll likely fade into the background" with the debate over. Wrong. ----- Back to the well once more--it's difficult to convey what it's like listening to Hannity unless you let him speak for himself. Often he's inadvertently funny--he was using "destroy" and "deconstruct" interchangably yesterday, clearly under the impression they mean the same thing ("The Democrats are desperately trying to de- construct Sarah Palin!")--but as this thing starts to slip away from him, more and more I find him depressing. Here he is today, a short excerpt from what was essen- tially a breathless 10-minute tantrum. Shortly thereafter, he said something about the Obama campaign being "in melt- down." Today's polls: Ohio, +6/-1; Florida, +7; Virginia, +2/+10/+12; Colorado, +6; North Carolina, +6; New Hampshire, +13; Pennsylvania, +11; Missouri, +3 (!); New Mexico, +5; Georgia, -7; too many nationals to list, average of +5.8. How do you respond to something like that? ----- It's late--I'll get a debate post up tomorrow night. But a quick word on the value of overhead projectors, before they turn into the Willie Horton of 2008. I use one fairly regularly--not so much that you'd say I pal around with overhead projectors, but I probably get the one in my classroom out a couple of times a week. Sometimes I'll throw up some science notes, mostly I find it a convenient way of taking up tests. They're presently being phased out for LCD projectors (there's one of those in my room too, not yet hooked up). I'm not sure how much the school paid for mine, other than it was significantly less than three million dollars...a few hundred would be my guess. I'm having a hard time visualizing what a three-million-dollar overhead would look like. ----- Obviously, a great night for Obama--the debate, the post-debate polls, the sense that McCain is just flailing away blind. (If you take his plastered-on grimace and unpleasant edginess as givens by this point, I thought he generally did okay.) One thing I loved was Obama's new look for when he was on the split-screen lis- tening to McCain--kind of a beatific grin, someone who knows he's gotten inside McCain's head as effectively as McCain got into Obama's three weeks ago. Rational statistical analysis says its over. 538's win projection is now up to 90.5%. So of course I'm dwelling on two downers. The first came from David Gergen last night. As I've written before, Gergen's preference has been Obama for many months-- first over Hillary, then over McCain. He's careful to position himself in such a way that he appears neutral, but I've never doubted that he wants Obama to win. So when he threw up a yellow flag after the debate, it registered: Anderson Cooper: "But if you look at the CNN poll which Campbell Brown just told us about the short time ago, on the economy, Obama 59 percent and McCain 36 percent. David Gergen, do you agree with John King and James Carville that if those numbers continue it's basically game over?" Gergen: "I think it's too early to declare victory Anderson, because Barack Obama is black. And until we play out the issue of race in this country, I don't think we'll know [until] late in the campaign." The one word I'd use to describe his tone: resigned. Bill Bennett has never been a fan of Obama's (except for maybe a brief moment back in Iowa), but he's a pillar of reason within the context of Patriot's wingnut brigade. I catch about half an hour of him most mornings, and, while he did jump all over Wright when that first broke, I don't recall him ever broaching the sub- ject of Ayers. So it was hugely disappointing to find him replaying a harsh CNN Ayers piece in its entirety this morning. Throw in this charming glimpse into some undetermined portion of Obama's growing support, and there's good reason not to get too carried away just yet. ----- As a matter of temperament, I probably should be supporting McCain--I've been in a state of perpetual panic since April. Maybe I should even be running the McCain campaign; we make a good match. My heart sank when the ACORN story broke today--that's it, game over--but I read a short piece in Salon that calmed me down. Just toss some more hysteria into the mix. The virulence that's taking hold is sobering. It's like a damn broke the second Tuesday's debate ended. Today's damage: 1) Wisconsin guy: he seems to have slithered out of Joe or Network. 2) Innovative roadside billboards in Missouri. 3) Frank Keating confusing Obama with Priest from Super Fly. It's an easy mistake to make--if it weren't for the whole senator/Harvard thing, I'd get them mixed up too. Bay Buchanan was asked about Keating's comments on CNN tonight: "I think it's part of a very legitimate theme. Whether I care--I could care less whether he used the drugs or not. I think a more important question is, did he supply it? Did he sell it? Was he part of that scene? Because that goes to your judgment, your char- acter. And that is legitimate." 4) And, of course, the man behind the curtain. Listen to his courageous stand this afternoon against bringing up the, uh, Antichrist issue: leave that one alone, it's a tactical mistake. ----- Now more than ever: speak. ----- The Palin report is probably superfluous at this point--one of Politico's round- table respondents on its impact: "Obama wins with 361 electoral votes instead of 357?"--but it'll help deflate the runaway Ayers hysteria on the right. Take a look at The Corner's reaction to the Palin news; it's like Fenway Park as Bucky Dent trots home. (After which, the Ayers hysteria returns with a vengence--now the idea is being floated that Dreams from My Father was ghostwritten by Ayers. So maybe I'm wrong there.) ----- John Lewis nailed it--he said exactly what I was hoping Colin Powell would step forward and say, and even though I'd rather it had come from the other side, Lewis has historical weight that even Powell can't match. He unfortunately now gets sub- jected to the usual renounce, repudiate, and reject dance, first the wounded moi? nonsense from McCain, then the arm's-length dodge from Obama. (Happily, Obama's response was a little less accomodating than usual.) Lewis did not, in any sense (perhaps charitably so, I'm more and more starting to think), draw an equivalency between McCain and Wallace in their views; he compared them in terms of their tactics. His exact words: "During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the cli- mate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Ameri- cans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama." Sorry--I'm not seeing anything that's worth disputing there. As someone who finds it challenging to draw a convincing, well-proportioned stick person, I'll make this idea for a cartoon available to anyone who wants to run with it. In panel one, we meet Joe Six-Pack: seems affable enough, although nagging frustration is evident. Panel two, Joe Ten-Pack: getting meaner. Panel three, Joe Fifteen-Pack: not pretty. You wouldn't even have to haul out hoods or burning crosses to make your point. ----- Palin 2012: ----- The day before Obama clinched the nomination, I posted a photo of Jackie Robinson. The connection was a baseball fan's somewhat romantic leap across 60 years of his- tory; Jackie Robinson is a part of the story, of course, but he's a long way away. Somewhere between there and here, it occurred to me that it's another athlete who's done more than anyone--more even than Martin Luther King, I'd seriously argue--in psychologically laying the groundwork for an Obama presidency: Tiger Woods. I followed the first few years of Tiger's ascension pretty closely. Parallels with Obama abound--I won't enumerate them here, but if you think back to the late '90s, Tiger's first Masters win and Fuzzy Zoeller, all the analysis of his elusive ethnicity, his ethereal calm, you can see where he's a veritable blueprint for Oba- ma. He turned the whitest of sports upside down, and emerged as the world's most popular and recognizable athlete. He would have made a lot more sense than Paris Hilton or Britney Spears in McCain's celebrity ads (remember them?), but I guess the thinking was that that wouldn't have been such a helpful comparison. Tiger's reserve can also be just as frustrating as Obama's at times. Here he is Sunday morning on The Today Show: "Who are you supporting for president?" "Uh, one of the candidates, yes... "Really? How many are there? There’s two--of the two..." " of the two, definitely." "You don’t want to talk about politics?" "No." "How come?" "It makes things a lot more complicated." You'd think that at this stage in Woods's career, expressing a political pref- erence would not present a problem. But he's always been that way, and he likely always will be. I wouldn't even be surprised to find out that there's a clause written into some of his corporate sponsorships that political advocacy is verbo- ten. That's something else shared by Woods and Obama: they're very careful in a way that the frequently outspoken Robinson ceased to be once he cleared Branch Rickey's three-year probation period. Maybe Woods is for McCain, his vote determined solely by taxation policy; I'm sure Obama will cost him a few million. But his musical tastes suggest otherwise. After listing rap, hip-hop, rock, and '80s as his favorite genres (30 years along, and I'm still confused about the line that divides rap from hip-hop--and "'80s" could mean a million things), the reporter asked him if he'd add country to the list. Best line in the whole interview: "Oh, hell no." ----- Another McCain miscalculation shouldn't surprise anyone at this point, so let me predict that his next one happens Thursday night. I bet the campaign is expecting 15 minutes of we're-all-friends-again schtick with Letterman; McCain will drama- tically announce at some point in the interview that he has to rush back to Wash- ington to tape Desperate Housewives, at which point everyone's supposed to forget about his bizarre behaviour two weeks ago and think, "Wow, what a swell guy." I hope Letterman ambushes him. I still remember when he had Limbaugh on sometime in the mid-90s, a post-Gingrich moment when Limbaugh's public visibility and political clout were at their apex. I don't remember the exact question, but towards the end of the interview Letterman said something to the effect of, "Honestly, though-- don't you look in the mirror every day and say, 'Man, I'm a blowhard.'" Limbaugh managed to talk past the question without too much visible reaction, but the fact that I still remember the exchange 10+ years later should tell you something about how devastating a moment it was. Letterman ought to frame a similar question that addresses McCain's (and even more so his party's) increasingly pathetic caricature of Obama. I suspect he will, especially if (as promised) McCain finally "goes there" tonight with Obama in the same room. They've goaded him into it brilliant- ly. I trust they're ready. Barack, boom ba yay! ----- I was keeping tabs on the the Red Sox-Rays game last night, so I missed Letterman. From what I've read, sounds like I was half-right; some aw-shucks absolution, but also a question about G. Gordon Liddy that I'm sure McCain would not have been ex- pecting. The debate. Early on, I seized on McCain's Bush rejoinder; it seemed like such an obvious Bentsen moment that would, Obama's steady response notwithstanding, overwhelm anything else said during the night. I've been dying for Obama to get off a similar line at some point--he had a great one against Hillary in one debate when he said he wasn't sure who he was running against, her or her husband--but I guess he's not allowed that luxury against a war hero. Obama handled Ayers well, although he finished flat: "And he will not advise me in the White House" won't be especially reassuring to the kind of people who obsess over this stuff. (Not that anything Obama ever says on the matter will be.) I was very conscious as the debate went on of what emerged as the night's big story: McCain's excruciating split-screen mugging. Especially how he stiffens up, widens his eyes, and seems to tilt back at a 120-degree angle to the floor. When the polls rolled in and Obama cleaned up in every one, I concluded once and for all that either a) the debate polls simply mir- ror the daily tracking polls, b) it matters not a bit what gets said, only the way in which it gets said (and how your opponent reacts to what gets said), or c) the "winner" is dictated by some combination of the two. I'm not saying Obama wasn't good--he was, at times very good. But I was surprised by how lopsidedly the numbers favored him. I'm a day late on all of this--my server was down for most of last night. Joe the Tech-Support Guy came over and fixed everything up, albeit with a stern warn- ing as soon as he stepped in the door: "I'm in a hurry here--15 minutes max, and the clock's ticking." ----- I haven't mentioned Lou Dobbs in ages. He's such a buffoon. I assume he pulls in spectacular ratings, because otherwise it's difficult to fathom why CNN keeps him on the air. Not that cable news isn't infested with such people--from the little I've seen of Keith Olbermann, I suspect he's almost as hard to take as Hannity or O'Reilly on a regular basis--but the weird thing about Dobbs is that his peculiar brand of buffoonish goes completely against the grain of his own network. CNN is supposed to be middle ground in the Fox/MSNBC polemic, and give or take a Jack Cafferty, it generally is--if you were to distill the network's sobersided essence into one being, David Gergen would be the guy. But there's Dobbs fulminating every night about immigration, hissing invective at his own correspondents (he regularly conflates message with messenger; I'm surprised no one has yet called him out on it), and basically labelling everyone associated with either major party as irre- deemable slime. He's, uh, "Mr. Independent," you see, even though actual indepen- dents are presumably open to either party, and he treats both with disdain. But his special animus towards Obama has overtaken even that, and he's basically been shilling for McCain the past month. His newest obsession, naturally, is Joe the Plumber. I think he's secretly angry that McCain laid claim to him first; Joe's the ultimate poster-boy for Dobbs's phony populism. His indignation was in full flower yesterday, triggered by Obama and Biden's insufficient deference to the glory that is Joe: And what is the--the idea that "Joe the plumber", Joe Wurzelbacher, is being attacked by Joe Biden and Barack Obama? It is one of the--I have to say it's incredible. I mean he has become, frankly, a symbol for working people in this country. Later on, the phrases "attacking him mercilessly" and "under assault" were bandied about. As was Ayers--always back to Ayers: It also gives [McCain] an opening to Bill Ayers. Because we've watched the nation- al media surround this man's home in Holland, Ohio, surround his home, 20 satel- lite trucks, reporters all over him, the national liberal media. I mean, what was flying through the blogosphere is disgusting, as well as what's happening on the late-night talk shows...How many times have you seen videotape of Bill Ayers' home? How many satellite trucks have been ringing his home? If you didn't catch Obama or Biden yesterday, here are the comments that have Dobbs so agitated: Obama: "[McCain's} trying to suggest that a plumber is the guy he's fighting for. How many plumbers do you know making $250,000 a year?" Biden: "We're kind of worried about, you know, Joe the fireman, Joe the policeman, Joe the real plumber with a license." Translation, in both instances: Nothing against actual plumbers, but this guy's right out of central-casting. First Palin, now Joe; there's still time for McCain and Dobbs to start deifying Comic Book Guy for the trifecta. ----- You started hearing about the possibility of a Powell endorsement months ago, and a piece by Lawrence O'Donnell on Huffington's site earlier this week suggested the endorsement was imminent. So it wasn't a surprise--this is the fourth photo of Powell I've posted since starting this enterprise, so he's been a Godot-like presence in my own attempts to size up the election--and McCain brushed it off on the basis of that predictability. But it isn't the endorsement itself that matters so much, it's the words Powell chose to explain himself. If you didn't see Brokaw's interview this morning, look it up--it's devastating. It went above and beyond what I was hoping for as recently as a week ago (see above), and, bar- ring any unexpected feats of heroism from Joe the Plumber in the next two weeks, I think McCain's finished. Basically Powell grabbed hold of the mantra you always hear in connection to Reagan Democrats: I didn't leave my party, my party left me. He closed the book on Ayers--Hannity's obsession is going to sound even more pathetic than ever on Monday. He closed the book on Palin--ditto all the gushing that continues una- bated on The Corner (there's a post about her non-appearance on SNL last night that has already been ridiculed by The New Republic). He eloquently closed the book on Muslim as today's all-purpose scare word. And, for good measure, he took a few more questions outside the NBC studios and closed the book on this latest socialist! stunt. ("Taxes are always a redistribution of money..."--a hearty duh to the McCain brain-trust who suggested they get Obama palling around with Karl Marx this week.) He even footnoted the New Yorker; that will really endear him to the Sarah Palin media-elite wing of the party. ("Read? In what sense, Katie?") Most of all, though, I think it's an endorsement that will serve to crush the spirit of anyone who's been holding out hope for a McCain comeback. I know that whenever Obama hit a bad patch during the campaign--most jarringly during the worst moments of the Wright debacle, and again in the two weeks following the Palin announcement--I lost all desire to post here. I'd usually throw something up anyway, but I could never be one of those hacks who pretend to see nothing but sunshine and light as the water comes rushing in from all sides. And that's pretty much the only two alternatives left to McCain's side now: fake the sun- shine and light, or, even worse, publicly declare the race a lost cause. Such is the stature of Powell within the country generally, and among Republicans specifically. Because it's not like anyone would be stupid enough to start attacking him, right? ----- It was a million to one shot, Doc. Million to one. ----- They've been agonizing for weeks: "No--not under any circumstances. It just wouldn't be right." "I'm not saying it's something we want to do. Sometimes what you want to do and what you must do aren't the same thing." "No, no, and no again." "Definitive?" "Definitive." "What about this then: what if someone else forced our hand? What if we had no other choice?" "Not even then." "Definitive?" "De--what do you mean by 'no other choice'? Give me an example." And so, with a heavy heart, and with John Lewis forcing their hand, Rick Davis has a moment of clarity: "Look, John McCain has told us a long time ago, before this campaign ever got started, back in May, I think, that from his perspective, he was not going to have his campaign actively involved in using Jeremiah Wright as a wedge in this campaign. Now since then, I must say, when Congressman Lewis calls John McCain and Sarah Palin and his entire group of supporters, fifty million people strong around this country, that we’re all racists and we should be compared to George Wallace and the kind of horrible segregation and evil and horrible politics that was played at that time, you know, that you’ve got to rethink all these things." You can understand where they're coming from. They have to defend their honour; they have to prove they're not racist. Obviously the only way to do that is to resurrect Jeremiah Wright. ----- Headline of the campaign, from the New Republic's endorsement: Obama for President: Check Out the Big Brain on Barack. ----- You've heard this a million times the past month: Obama's job going into the de- bates was to pass the comfort-level test. He did, with room to spare. Those who say they're still not sure of him aren't going to change their minds now. Palin, on an entirely different track, is grappling with the Salvador Dali test at this point: exactly how surreal would it be to have her installed as VP? It's a question where she's losing ground daily. Here's something from today's CNN interview. The reporter was Drew Griffin, CNN's house version of a scary Fox guy--he did the harsh Ayers piece from a couple of weeks ago. A sympathetic ear, more or less. CNN: "Governor, is Barack Obama a socialist?" Palin: "I'm not gonna call him a socialist, but, as Joe the plumber has suggested..." ----- Hannity spent part of his show today trying to come to terms with this morning's barrage of polls--the "shock and awe" polls, as Nate Silver dubs them--and was every bit as entertaining as you'd expect. He began by urging his listeners, as emphatic- ally as possible, "You have got to ignore the polls"--and then immediately proceeded to cite three or four of them where he approves of the result. A little later, con- fronted by the (Republican-friendly) Zogby poll that has Obama up by 10, he threw up his arms. Well, here's one thing he might make of it: Obama's up by 10. I will say that you've got to be very skeptical of these Big Ten polls, especially the +10 in Indiana. But skeptical doesn't even begin to describe one of the polls Hannity's clinging to (the choice of verb is intentional), the IBD that has a one-point race. Silver eviscerates this one, seizing on an internal that shows 18-24 year olds sup- porting McCain 74-22: What are the odds, given the parameters above, that a random sampling of 98 voters aged 18-24 would distribute themselves 74% to McCain and 22% to Obama? Using a bi- nomial distribution, the odds are 54,604,929,633-to-1 against. If there's one thing I've learned in life, it's that binomial distributions do not lie. Back to Hannity. He even gets into it mano-a-mano with Obama. He has no choice; he's been provoked. Attacked? Attacked? As Joe the Plumber has suggested, Lord thunderin' Jesus, that's wack. ----- This section is way too long--I'll archive a lot of it tonight. Ten more days. End- ings are sad. Messy endings are sadder. (I've revised the second link twice now. There's a lot to choose from.) ----- I found this on Andrews Sullivan's site. Not normally my style of humour, but it's as catchy as Kid Rock's summer single, and there are some great lines. My favorite: "She might not know about knowin' stuff." Ted Nugent, you've been punk'd. These YouTube links slow this page down considerably, so I don't want to post a second one, but I'd also recommend this, maybe the funniest campaign goof since Slate's Clinton/Tracy Flick spot from last spring. ----- For some reason, I checked Drudge before I left the house this morning--I rarely look at anything that early other than e-mail--gave a quick listen to the 2001 interview he was hyping, and immediately went into full panic mode. I e-mailed Scott when I got to work, told my two Obama cohorts that "this could be bad," and spent the rest of the day keeping tabs online to see how much play the story would get--and, more important, where (The Corner, yes; would CNN pay much attention?). Well, it looks like this too shall pass. Between Ted Stevens, assassination attempts, on-going market worries, and the inexhaustible fascination with Palin, no one outside the Drudge-Hannity-Limbaugh Triangle seems especially interested. So far, anyway--we'll see. One thing I am sure of: as nicknames go, "Rogue Diva" is a trillion times sexier than "The Redistributor." ----- I take in half an hour of this every day on the way home--probaby a couple of hun- red hours in total for the whole year. I can't explain the compulsion to listen, but when the switch goes off for good in December, I won't miss it. ----- The most amusing thing of the whole campaign has been this new phenomenon of cut- ting ads that never actually air anywhere, but that are posted online and then get talked about, analyzed, and, uh, redistributed via TV, radio, and print to a point where they reach a much larger audience than they ever would have if they'd been aired in conventional fashion. As cost-cutting measures go, ingenious. Both sides have been doing it. I don't know if this one's actually running anywhere, but I hope so. I love it-- it finally addresses the Great White Whale of this election without so much as a word. I suppose it's Bush who's the Great White Whale of this election. Then they're taking on the Gigantic Cartoon Moose here. ----- You've undoubtedly seen this by now: It immediately reminded me of a quote Scott Woods and I included in a piece we wrote 20 years ago on live-album stage patter: "How many people out there read Kerrang?...Kerrang?...Nobody? Anyhow..." (Thor, Live in Detroit) Actually, my favorite part of the McCain clip comes right near the end: "Wherever you are Joe, let's give him a round of applause for what he's done for America." What he's done for America? Anyhow... ----- Most of my recent posts have been short because...I'm as exhausted as anyone who's been following this for months. Is there anything still left to say? I watched (and taped) last night's big Obamamercial. They were going nuts on Patriot today, and it's not difficult to figure out why: Obama's stealing from the hallowed Reagan now, and that's really twisting the knife. Sunrises and wheatfields in a political context always make me roll my eyes (they can look pretty good in a film like The Straight Story), so I won't pretend they were any less saccharine be- cause it was Obama. A little less saccharine, maybe. But at the same time, I'm glad he went that route instead of sitting at a desk and delivering a pre-emptive (and presumptive) inaugural address--he would have caught major hell from all directions if he'd done that. Sad to say, but less than a week from the election, he still has to work hard at making himself not scary. To that end, last night helped to neutral- ize the din. Again. ----- When Ichiro was chasing the single-season hits record a few years ago, a friend of mine didn't want him to break it. Why? Because George Sisler, who'd held the record for 70-some years, was a much better player than Ichiro, and records should only be held by superior players. I agreed with him up to a point--if it had been Joe Shlabotnik threatening the record, a player of absolutely zero distinction having a historically fluky year, I would have been rooting for the record to stay with Sisler. But Ichiro, a few years into his career by that point (many years, if you counted his time in Japan), was clearly a great hitter. Overrated a bit, almost certainly, but great nonetheless. From there, it came down to one simple question for me: would you rather witness history, or would you rather read about it in a book? One of my favourite cliches is "the right side of history"--it has a nice ring to it, and I think it describes a meaningful distinction. Unless something stunning un- folds on Tuesday, Barack Obama will make history. I can't vote for him, but I share something with all the people who will: I'll feel very good if he wins, and, yes-- and I realize how self-righteous this sounds--I'll feel like I was on the right side of history in rooting for him. Some people rooting against him have acquitted themselves well--if you've been following closely, you already know who they are. Others haven't, and if Obama wins, I hope the full weight of their reaction to Obama's candidacy stays with them for a long time. (If nothing else, lots of video and audio evidence will linger.) "History? I was there, and I wasn't there. Basically I spent 10 months yelling and screaming like a scared little child." If you want to get up exceptionally early on Sunday morning and sit in front of a computer, Scott Woods and I will be talking about the election on CKLN-FM, a col- lege station out of Toronto, from 7:00-8:30. You can listen online here. We'll have our own magic wall, we'll have internals after the jump, and we promise to say "game- changer," "double-down," and "you betcha" as often as possible. ----- I might not know about knowin' stuff, but man, when it comes to crunching scenarios, I'm like Sadaharu Oh. (I have no idea what that means.) There are currently an abso- lute maximum of 15 states still in play: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, Virginia, and, even though this may turn out to be a complete mirage concocted by the McCain campaign and a couple of sympathetic pollsters, I'll even throw Penn- sylvania into the mix. (Today's Pollster map has Pennsylvania as +8.8 for Obama, but there are two polls out today that have it at +4 and +8, so who knows what's going on there.) From these 15 states, I see four paths to victory, each one a little dicier than the last. (Everything below begins with a solid foundation of 238 electoral votes.) Scenario #1, The Front Line of Defense: Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida--if Obama wins even one of these, it's pretty much over. Ohio gets him to 258, Pennsylvania to 259, Florida to 265; from there, Virginia on its own would be enough to cross 270, and if not Virginia, some combination from Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. The only one that wouldn't do it would be Ohio + New Mexico + Nevada, with the other 12 states all going to McCain; final score, Obama 268 - McCain 270. The odds of that happening are likely astronomical. Scenario #2, The Back-Up Plan: Obama loses Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, North Car- olina, Missouri, and Indiana. From there, he can still get to a 270-268 win by taking Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada, four states where he enjoys healthy leads at the moment. Scenario #3, The Nightmare Scenarios: If Obama were to lose Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and either Colorado or Virginia, there are still somewhat promising routes available. If he holds on to Virginia, he gets by with any one of North Carolina, Missouri, or Indiana, plus both Nevada and New Mexico; that would leave him with a minimum of 272 EVs. If he holds Colorado instead, it gets tougher; he'd then have to win Nevada and New Mexico, and either North Carolina on its own or Missouri and Indiana together. Scenario #4, The Jesus-I-Can't-Believe-This-Is-Happening Scenario: Obama loses Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida, he loses North Carolina, Indiana, and Missouri, he loses either Virginia or Colorado, and he also loses either Nevada or New Mexico. This would leave him with a minimum of 252 EVs, and a maximum of 256. If the former, he'd need Georgia plus one of Montana, Arizona, or the Dakotas; if the latter, just Georgia would be enough. The worst thing about #3 and #4 is that they involve a) waiting around until at least 11:00 for western states to report, and b) winning states that currently fall within the margin of error. I suspect #3 and #4 would probably inflict some kind of irreparable psychic damage on me and millions like me. ----- Honest to god...Tuesday is close enough that this isn't getting a great deal of attention thus far--the big stories of the day are Obama's aunt, and also his scan- dalous use of the word "vindicated" rather than "renewed" (or, even more patriotic, "sent soaring into the stratosphere")--but it sure is something to hear. Is it im- portant? No, I suppose not--just one more piece of evidence that she's unbelievably empty-headed. How could anyone be fooled by these two guys?! "Taking away life, that is so fun!" That happens at the 2:20 mark. They reel her in for three more minutes after that. The perpetrators are a couple of Canadians. I don't think I've ever been prouder of my country. ----- Let me amend the previous post--it is important! Here she is, talking on the phone for six full minutes to what she mistakenly thinks is a major world leader. There's no way of knowing, but what if these guys had said something like, "What about Iran, Madame Palin? Oh, mon dieu, tres difficulte!"? (I'll skip the accents; I think that's something approximating French.) Would she have caught on, or would she have kept yammering away? I mean, if she didn't clue in on "I can see Belgium from my window," maybe she was one question away from openly discussing military strategy. (Yeah, I know--like she's been privy to lots of high-level foreign-policy sessions. Work with me here.) This really is Strangelove territory. ----- David Broder gets ridiculed a lot on Kos; he's a slighter older version of David Gergen, a wishy-washy centrist who's been around forever, and I generally like guys like that--I remember having a favorable impression of him during the Clinton ad- ministration. I don't see him much anymore, but he still turns up on Meet the Press, where this morning Brokaw quoted something he'd recently written about why this has been the best campaign he's covered since 1960: "...thanks in large part to McCain's personal aversion to any suggestion of racial campaigning, [Jeremiah Wright] never fully emerged in a negative way this fall, sparing the country what could have been a divisive experience." Oh, please...Any reluctance on McCain's part to directly re- visit Wright is wholly a function of three huge problems he'd have if he did so: 1) the press would crucify him, citing his condemnation a few months ago of some state committee that brought the issue up; 2) his own preacher problems (if you can remem- ber back to the summer, he had to disassociate himself from two different guys with- in 24 hours); and 3) Palin's even bigger preacher problems (check YouTube). You can also add to the list that 4) it's probably sunk in by now that very few people out- side of his base give a damn, and 5) he's got 527s running ads anyway--I saw two on CNN just last night. And "sparing the country what could have been a divisive exper- ence"? Could have been? Which election is Broder watching? ----- I imagine that Republicans are overwhelmingly indifferent to the fact that Bob Dylan not suprisingly came out for Obama--weird sixties agitator, bad news all around--and I'm sure they'd happily pay to keep someone like Madonna as far away as possible. But it must demoralize a lot of McCain supporters under 60 to see Bruce Springsteen always out there prostelyzing for the other side. "He's one of us...why isn't he ever on our side?" I've written about my general indifference to Springsteen on many occasions, but I was surprised to find myself moved by his introduction of the Obamas in Cleveland tonight. Great theatre. CNN followed with some of McCain's town hall in New Hampshire, and it wasn't difficult to detect a pronounced softening in tone. There's still all manner of deviousness going on with ads and robocalls in key states, but maybe (hopefully) his pollsters have told him it's just not going to happen, and he's making an effort to finish on a grace note of sorts. Last night's SNL appearance would support that theory. ----- Scott Woods has posted a four-part podcast (approx. 80 minutes in length) of our election ramblings on Toronto's CKLN yesterday morning. We lost the first few min- utes because of...well, seeing as she doesn't know of this site's existence (join the club), it was the fault of the woman who precedes me. A couple of points I'd like to amend: 1) when listing our media favourites towards the end, I should have made mention of Donna Brazile and 538's Nate Silver; 2) I say at some point that Palin will never get the Republican nomination because 35% of the country despises her. Very doubtful--what I should have said is that 35% of the country views her as a joke, and that's an insurmountable obstacle. Not sure what to say about Obama's grandmother, except that the timing is stun- ning. I went out to the car to see, just out of curiosity, if this was enough for Hannity to maybe step back and treat him like a human being for a couple of hours. He seemed marginally more subdued than he usually is--he had Gingrich on there with him--but no, not really. It was still socialist/radical associations/etc./etc. ----- Final post before what promises to be some kind of day. Pretty much the end of the road on the Boogeyman Express would be "pedophile!" and "Nazi!" No mention of the former as of yet from McCain's acolytes (although there's still a few hours before polls open), but Mark Levin and others have man- aged to work in Nazism somehow--not that Obama himself is a Nazi, but that he once outrageously compared his own country to Nazi Germany. The quote in question comes from the same 2001 interview that Drudge had up the other day: "...just to take a sort of a realist perspective, there’s a lot of change going on outside of the Court that judges essentially have to take judicial notice of. I mean, you’ve got World War II, you’ve got the doctrines of Nazism that we are fighting against, that start looking uncomfortably similar to what we have going on back here at home." Levin is aghast--what could he possibly mean by that? Well, it's not too hard to figure out: Obama's referring to a moment in history when America was at war with notions of racial purity and ethnic cleansing, even as black Americans who were doing some of the fighting were treated as decidedly infer- ior in their own country. And the courts took notice. The relatively quick jump from the end of WWII to Jackie Robinson to Brown vs. the Board of Education couldn't be any plainer. Levin's not stupid, he's just playing at being stupid. I should pull myself away from the TV and contemplate empty space for the next 18 hours, but of course I won't. ----- I hope the Rothko I posted yesterday didn't send out any mixed messages. I should have flipped it upside down. If things are going well tonight, I'll turn on the computer and check around for a few minutes. I probably won't post anything till tomorrow--I just want to sit back and take it all in. Today's final set of polls looks very promising. I'm amazed that I'm still seeing (Wright) ads on CNN as I type. I don't think you're allowed to air ads in Canada on the day of the election. ----- Withdrawal: I'm sitting at the computer today, checking Huffington and RCP and all the other sites that have become part of my life the last few months, and I catch myself wondering, "Why am I doing this?" The handful of people who've been looking in on this page regularly will soon be asking yourself the same question, if you aren't already. The most exciting moment of Tuesday night happened Wednesday morning for me. As an Obama win became certain, I arranged for my overworked and underpaid engineering staff to grab a network call off of YouTube and e-mail it to me as an mp3, which I then burned onto a CD that I brought into school to lead off the morning announce- ments. I posted the front page of The Toronto Star outside my classroom, and for the rest of the day I had one kid after another coming up to me to say, "Mr. Del- lio, Obama won!" It's the hat, and the fact that I bored last year's class silly going on and on about the primaries--I'm Obama Guy around Huttonville P.S. Just as I imagine Obama looking at David Axelrod Tuesday night and reenacting The Candidate ("What do we do now?"), I'm not sure where I go with this. I may continue to observe the Obama presidency, I may veer off into a more conventional blog, or I may just stop until something else captures my attention. The Palin freak show doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon, so maybe that'll be enough to keep me connected. I finally finished the Goldwater book. Arizona Senator gets trounced in a land- slide, party in complete disarray--perfect timing. On to Nixonland. ----- I'm trying to figure out what this Nancy Reagan flap portends. Obama makes a fairly innocuous joke grounded in self-deprecation--he was calling attention to his needless distinction that he'd been talking to "living presidents"-- and within a matter of hours he's on the phone issuing highly-publicized apologies? That's so weird...Like I say, I don't know if this simply has to do with Obama being so new, if it says something about the future boundaries of acceptable behaviour for him in particular, or if the story instead is his own tendency to proceed with extreme caution to the point of over-compensation. Turns out that he got Reagan confused with some composite of Hillary Clinton and Mary Todd Lincoln. A phone call to Hillary would have been fun; one to a seventh-generation niece of Lincoln would have just been weird. ----- I got an Obama e-mail today offering me a "Victory T-shirt" for a minimum contri- bution of $30. I'm surprised in the first place that they've never removed me from their mailing list--they refunded my donation weeks ago. That aside, isn't a bit unseemly to still be soliciting donations at this point? Seems to me they ought to be mailing out some token of appreciation for free--a button, a fridge magnet, a life-size soap carving of Barack, something. This would incur a certain amount of cost, obviously, but my understanding is that there was lots of money left over at the end; I saw an article somewhere that explored possible options for spending it. Isn't the phenomenon of the never-ending campaign one of the things that voters are most upset about? If there were a debt still to be paid (Hi, Hillary!), fine. There isn't. A passage from Nixonland--nothing I didn't know already, but made to order: "And to a new suburban mass middle class that was tempting itself into Republi- canism, admiring Richard Nixon was becoming part and parcel of a political iden- tity based on seeing through the pretensions of the cosmopolitan liberals who claimed to know so much better than you (and Richard Nixon) what was best for your country. This side saw everything that was most genuine in Nixon, every- thing that was most brave--who saw the Checkers speech for what it also actu- ally was, not just a hustle but also an act of existential heroism: a brave refusal to let haughty 'betters' have their way with him." ----- In advance of my usual year-end Eye/Pazz & Jop ballot, which I'll post sometime next week, I want to close the book on Obama. I've had five or six regular read- ers during the months that I've been writing about the campaign; I sincerely hope none of you have been checking in more than occasionally the past few weeks. (I've avoided looking at the site meter altogether, because I'll feel guilty if it turns out anyone's still checking regularly.) I've followed all the transition noise with interest--Emanuel, Hillary, Blago- jevich, Warren, Kennedy--but none of it has had me rushing home Sunday mornings from the radio station to plunk myself in front of the Sunday shows, and nothing has elicited a strong enough reaction that I've felt like writing about it. They actually feel like transitional controversies, there to fill the void between Bill Ayers and whatever crises come Obama's way after Jan. 20. I definitely experienced a letdown after the election. I go out like I came in: I like the drama more than the details, the show more than the substance. Jeremiah Wright, Sarah Palin, Bill Clinton, they were all a trip-and-a-half. The long-term implications of Obama's plan to fix the infrastructure, well, I wish him all the luck in the world, but the wonky stuff loses me. In the best of all possible worlds, the Republicans will run Palin next time out. I don't see it happening, but if they're that insane, political coverage will resume here in 2012.

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