Stem Cell Hell

| Thu Aug. 28, 2008 12:18 PM EDT

STEM CELL HELL....It's not clear to me how much anyone really cares about party platforms these days, but according to Stephen Spruiell the GOP platform now calls for a complete ban on all embryonic stem cell research. Publicly funded, privately funded, new lines, pre-existing lines, whatever. If it's an embryo, you can't use it for research.

This is the kind of thing that, over and over, seems like it ought to be a big deal to me. And yet, at the federal level, it never really seems to generate more than yawns. I guess everyone is used to conservative hardliners insisting on ideological purity, being humored in one way or another, and then, in the end, ignored. So no one takes it seriously.

Which, in a sense, is almost fair. Still, just for the record: the Republican Party now officially opposes all embryonic stem cell research no matter what. In case anyone ever asks you.

Advertise on

God Understands Irony, Part 2

| Thu Aug. 28, 2008 12:13 PM EDT

Remember when the meeting of global warming deniers in Florida was canceled due to an impending tropical storm? This might top that. President Bush's speech at the Republican National Convention may be postponed from its current Monday slot because tropical storm Gustav may hit the Gulf Coast that day.

John McCain Does Not Understand Cause and Effect

| Thu Aug. 28, 2008 12:06 PM EDT

Others are focusing on the more bizarre moments of Time's McCain interview, but I want to highlight a passage near the end. Here's McCain:

I believe that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein. I believe it's clear that he had every intention to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction. I can only imagine what Saddam Hussein would be doing with the wealth he would acquire with oil at $110 and $120 a barrel.

Are there any sixth graders available who can explain to John McCain why that last sentence makes no sense?

The Manchurian McCain

| Thu Aug. 28, 2008 11:46 AM EDT

THE MANCHURIAN McCAIN....Wow. McCain really does sound like the Manchurian candidate here:

Q: What do you want voters to know coming out of the Republican Convention — about you, about your candidacy?

A: I'm prepared to be President of the United States, and I'll put my country first.

It goes downhill — way downhill — from there. He's really, really terrified of going off message these days.

Dep't of Rapid Response: 1968 Edition

| Thu Aug. 28, 2008 11:44 AM EDT

obama_seven_years.jpg Posted on the McCain campaign's blog yesterday:

Flashback: 40 Years Ago Today, Bill Ayers Arrested at DNC

Emailed to reporters by the Obama campaign shortly thereafter:

Flashback: 40 Years Ago Today, Barack Obama Was Seven Years Old

They made sure to include the photo at right.

Mitt Romney Would Be Karl Rove's Handpicked VP

| Thu Aug. 28, 2008 11:25 AM EDT

According to Politco:

"Rove is pushing Romney so aggressively some folks are beginning to wonder what's going on," grumbled one veteran Republican strategist.
From his perch on Fox, Rove has touted McCain's fierce primary rival as strong vice presidential material.
"Romney is already vetted by the media, has strong executive experience both in business and in government, has an interesting story to tell with saving the U.S. Olympics, and also helps McCain deal with the economy, because he can speak to the economy with a fluency that McCain doesn't have," Rove said on "Fox News Sunday" in June.

Rove is specifically worried about one guy.

Rove called Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) late last week and urged him to contact John McCain to withdraw his name from vice presidential consideration, according to three sources familiar with the conversation. Lieberman dismissed the request, these sources agreed.
Lieberman "laughed at the suggestion and certainly did not call [McCain] on it," said one source familiar with the details.

I'm kind of stunned that the conversation has narrowed to these two guys. Romney, who McCain despised in the primaries because of his transparent lack of principle, and Lieberman, a conservative Democrat who threatens to rip the Republican Party apart. Surely the McCain campaign is smart enough to find a dark horse that will surprise the media (thus resulting in even more breathless coverage) and excite the base?

Update: Rove's denial on this story is so lame even Fox News says he's "waffling."

Advertise on

Thursday Cat Blogging

| Thu Aug. 28, 2008 10:47 AM EDT


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.

The Good Soldier

| Thu Aug. 28, 2008 1:13 AM EDT

THE GOOD SOLDIER....Jon Chait on Biden's speech:

What continues to be missing is a frame to explain why John McCain believes all these wrongheaded things he talks about. But it's very simple. McCain used to stand against the ideologues and moneyed interests of the GOP, but he decided that if he wanted to win the GOP nomination, he had to make himself their ally. I suspect Democrats will regret this when Republicans tear Barack Obama's character apart next week.

Amy Sullivan expands on this a bit:

A number of speakers have made reference to their personal friendship with John McCain, carefully noting how much they admire him, before going on to criticize him. And that's effective to a point — "more in sorrow than in anger" plays differently than straight-on attacks.

But Democrats might find it would be more effective if they explained why they're so disappointed with their friend John McCain. How did this great guy they admire so much became a candidate whose positions appall them? It wasn't a fluke, it wasn't like he had a personality transplant. And the answer would seem to fit perfectly into a powerful Democratic narrative. John McCain changed because that's what he had to do to win the Republican nomination. That's what the reigning conservative ideology and interests demanded of him.

Right. It's what Biden was getting at when he said, "These times require more than a good soldier, they require a wise leader." It's a good line, but too subtle. The expanded version is that McCain has had to prostrate himself to the neocons, the theocons, and the moneycons because that's what it takes to win the Republican nomination these days: you have to be a good soldier. And one way or another that's a story that the Democrats need to tell. A laundry list of flip-flops doesn't make an impression unless you explain what's behind it.

It's also why I liked the passage from Bill Clinton's speech that I highlighted yesterday. He didn't just tie McCain to George Bush, he tied him directly to the full range of contemporary right-wing dogma. That's what Obama needs to do too. In some simple way, he needs to make people understand that all the stuff they don't like about the past eight years isn't just the fault of one guy's idiosyncrasies, it's the fault of an entire worldview. And if you elect McCain, you're electing that worldview too.

Night Three: Biden Doesn't Wow, But the Convention (Finally) Gains Momentum

| Thu Aug. 28, 2008 12:04 AM EDT

The good news for the Barack Obama camp: Joe Biden has no more big speeches to deliver between now and Election Day.

In what was the Democrats' best night of the first three, Biden capped the evening with a heartfelt speech emphasizing his middle-class roots that was marred by an irregular rhythm and a series of verbal slip-ups. He said "millions" instead of "billions." He praised Obama for working on an Illinois state health care program that provided coverage to 150 children and parents, not 150,000. Biden blasted John McCain in a predictable manner: for championing tax cuts that benefit the wealthy, for misjudgments regarding foreign policy. There were good and touching moments, such as the tribute to his mother and his empathetic recognition of the everyday challenges confronted by Americans facing hard times. And he tied the need to help working-class families to Barack Obama's appeal: "He has tapped into the oldest American belief of all: We don't have to accept a situation we cannot bear. We have the power to change it." Biden covered the bases but did not rock the house. He was no Bill Clinton. He wasn't even a John Kerry. (See Kevin's somewhat more generous take here.)

But the Obama campaign had an insurance policy. After Biden finished, Barack Obama made an unscheduled appearance and restored the energy level to the room and the convention. Working the Pepsi Center like a talk show host--has he been taking lessons from Oprah?--Obama seized control of the evening and promised a great night on Thursday, when he will accept his party's presidential nomination at Invesco Field.

The third night of the convention--Biden aside--presented a more coherent message than the previous evenings, which were dominated by the obligatory tasks of undoing the rightwing attacks on Michelle Obama and satisfying Hillary Clinton and the Hillary Hold-ons. On Thursday, it seemed as if the Obama campaign was finally able to get down to business: making the pitch.

The Convention Picks Up Steam

| Wed Aug. 27, 2008 11:43 PM EDT

THE CONVENTION PICKS UP STEAM....Was Chuck Todd even watching the same speech as me? Yeah, Biden flubbed a couple of lines in a minor way, but jeez. Even seen through the lens of my political speech autism (hereafter PSA) I thought it was a pretty moving performance. And Marian thought he was great, which counts as my "woman in the street" opinion since she's not a political junkie like everyone else I know.

And then Brokaw followed up by saying that the convention sagged today compared to Monday and Tuesday? Did I hear that right? He must have been watching a different bunch of speeches too. Between Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and Joe Biden, I thought this was by far the best night so far.