Nick Baumann

Nick Baumann

Senior Editor

Nick is based in our DC bureau, where he covers national politics and civil liberties issues. Nick has also written for The Economist, The Atlantic, the Washington Monthly, and Commonweal. Email tips and insights to nbaumann [at] motherjones [dot] com. You can also follow him on Facebook.

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What The Palin Pick Says About John McCain and the GOP

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 1:57 PM EDT

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John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate this morning was a bit of a shocker. After all, the vast majority of Americans have never heard of her. But that could be an advantage for the Republicans: suddenly, their convention next week isn't about John McCain or George W. Bush. It's about introducing Sarah Palin to America. That could be the best distraction imaginable from issues like Katrina, Iraq, and the economy.

On balance, though, Palin could be bad news for the Republicans. Unconventional running-mate choices (and a first term governor who until recently was the mayor of a town of about 9,000 people is certainly an unconventional pick) signal desperation. Confident candidates make safe picks. Candidates who are trailing and need to make big moves make unconventional ones. McCain is taking a big risk by picking Palin because he has to.

The selection of Palin smacks of tokenism. Every four years, the Republican party trots out its few non-white, non-male leaders for the Republican National Convention. Many get prime speaking spots. Apparently Sarah Palin gets the Vice-Presidential nomination. The pick is clearly partly directed at disaffected Hillary voters with the idea that simply putting a woman on the ticket will win their votes. This is obviously wrong, as Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro will tell you. But the GOP and their mouthpieces don't get it: on Fox this morning, an anchor said: "It looks like the glass ceiling hasn't been broken by Hillary Clinton, but by Senator McCain." There is just so much wrong with that sentence, but for starters: it's obvious that this pick is more about John McCain than Sarah Palin. It's not about women succeeding on their own; it's about them being given something by a man. Frankly, the comparison to Hillary Clinton is just insulting.

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Thursday Cat Blogging

| Thu Aug. 28, 2008 11:47 AM EDT

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Kevin Drum's passion for the kitties is leaking over to MoJoBlog. So I'll briefly note this important development: cats have grown wings. Yes, it is true. I saw it on BoingBoing.

In all seriousness, please check out Kevin. He's been blogging up a storm, not only providing crucial updates on Domino and Inkblot but also giving readers an outside-of-Denver view on the convention. Haven't been able to catch much of the action? Read David Corn's night-by-night reviews of the action in Denver: Night One, Night Two, and yesterday's very-successful Night Three.

Evan Bayh Attacks McCain With a Double-Edged Sword

| Wed Aug. 27, 2008 10:00 PM EDT

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) lost out in the Democratic veepstakes. But on Wednesday night he was given a prime-time speaking slot and dutifully joined in the evening's assault on John McCain:

George Bush and John McCain were wrong about going to war in Iraq, are wrong about how to get us out of Iraq, and wrong to ignore the dangers in Afghanistan. The time for change has come, and Barack Obama is the change we need.

But this was an odd line of attack, coming from Bayh. He was one of the co-sponsors of the 2003 Authorization of the Use of Military Force in Iraq (AUMF). Bayh wasn't just attacking McCain. By condemning Bush and McCain for going to war in Iraq, Bayh was saying, "I was wrong." Well, sort of. He wasn't quite that explicit. And a great question for Bayh now would be, did you err, too?

And even in a speech that included a shot at McCain and Bush in almost every paragraph, Bayh did not launch as sharp an assault as he might have. He summed up the case against McCain this way:

John McCain, he's not a bad man, but he is badly mistaken about embracing the Bush agenda.

The GOP blasts Barack Obama for being risky and dangerous (and not really an American). In Bayh's view, McCain is a good guy who got some things wrong. Obviously, those two attacks don't match up. Bayh didn't define McCain in negative terms; he just disagreed with him. Can the Democrats win with that? A little more oomph might be needed.

MoJo Video: Meet Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com at the DNC

| Wed Aug. 27, 2008 9:46 PM EDT

Nate Silver invented PECOTA, a system that predicts the future performance of baseball players that's used by teams and baseball geeks alike. Now he's turned his attention to political forecasting, and he's found he's pretty good at that, too. Silver's site, FiveThirtyEight.com (named after the number of electors in the electoral college), relies on polls, demographics, and statistical analysis to predict who is going to win the 2008 Presidential election. I sat down with him for a quick chat yesterday at the Democratic National Convention; watch the video here. [Nate's on the right.]

Bush "Came Into Office on Third Base and Stole Second"

| Wed Aug. 27, 2008 1:47 AM EDT

Second line of the night:

You know, it was once said of the first George Bush that he was born on third base and thought he'd hit a triple. Well, with the 22 million new jobs and the budget surplus Bill Clinton left behind, George W. Bush came into office on third base, and then he stole second.

—Ohio Governor Ted Strickland in a speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

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