August 13, 2008

Joe Biden and McCain's Attack Strategy

So today some of the blogs are wondering if given the events in Georgia, and Wed. night being national security night at the convention, Joe Biden be be Obama's Veep choice. I hope not, for a number of reasons. But I'm particularly puzzled by the idea because it would play directly into the McCain campaigns silly attacks. If McCain's strategy is to portray Obama as someone who is all words and inauthentic, does it make since for Obama to run with someone that most of the idea associates with plagiarism and an inability to ever shut up?

Posted by armand at August 13, 2008 12:01 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Politics


I don't think it's going to be Biden. That would be a major stumble by Obama, and he hasn't made many so far.

Right now I'm fantasizing that this FoxNews rumor about Colin Powell maybe endorsing Obama is half right... and that Powell will in fact be the VP nominee.

Madness, I know. But... wow, that'd be fun.

No matter what, I remain impressed with Camp Obama's ability to maintain secrecy around this process.

Posted by: jacflash at August 13, 2008 06:32 PM | PERMALINK

For whatever it's worth, given how the campaign has been rolling out the convention schedule, at this point I'd guess we'd see the Veep selection announced tomorrow (Thurs.). And at the moment I'm guessing it'll be Kaine. But Biden certainly seems to be in the mix.

Posted by: Armand at August 13, 2008 08:01 PM | PERMALINK

I have no idea how a Kaine speech on national security is any way to debut a guy without foreign policy chops for VP.


(Powell would be cool, too. More fun than Clark, I'm sure.)

Posted by: moon at August 13, 2008 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

True, though technically the theme of the night is "Securing America's Future". And I suppose it's possible that one spin on that would be securing our nation through more than the newest shiny missile and a bomb-first approach to our problems. And Kaine, as a former missionary who speaks a foreign language, and as a governor who has to make his state competitive in an international economy, could perhaps play up a broad sense of who Americans can be in the world to better secure ourselves and our country - how we can strengthen ourselves in ways more productive or efficient than war.

But perhaps that's a stretch, so maybe it's Biden. As much as I like Clark I haven't heard anyone say he's being vetted. And if he hasn't turned over the paperwork, he seems unlikely. But we can dream.

Posted by: Armand at August 13, 2008 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

". . . in ways more productive or efficient than war."

That's crazy talk.

Posted by: moon at August 14, 2008 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Just a thought - now that Clinton and Obama have worked out a plan to have her name put in nomination, is it now easier to go ahead and nominate Sebelius without an uproar from the Clinton cultists who are against any woman other than Hillary being on the national ticket?

Posted by: Armand at August 14, 2008 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

For the die-hard Clintonistas, I fear, anything short of Clinton being the nominee is a rampant insult to womankind, the party, and all right-thinking people everywhere.

Posted by: Moon at August 14, 2008 02:47 PM | PERMALINK

So Bayh and Biden are now on the schedule for Wed. If the schedulers have any knowledge of who the Veep will be (and they don't, necessarily), things still seem to point to Kaine. Unless Obama pulls a surprise - Daschle? Gore?

Posted by: Armand at August 14, 2008 05:29 PM | PERMALINK

goodness, if gore would take it, that would be pretty cool, too. a de facto environmental czar at the prez's right hand. i wonder, if obama made clear enough that gore would have tremendous discretion with environmental policy, whether he might take the job.

Posted by: Moon at August 14, 2008 05:34 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure America's ready for an environmental czar... at least not one like Gore. I'm definitely not ready for it!

Posted by: jacflash at August 14, 2008 06:02 PM | PERMALINK

Really? We have a czar for drugs, which is to say, a czar for intruding upon people's individual acts behind closed doors so we can build the biggest per capita prison population in the free world. We shouldn't have a czar for something that actually makes sense -- i.e., responding to $4 gas not by gerrymandering markets, but by gerrymandering behavior?

I'd really love to know how many wars and semi-wars have to be fought over oil, how much moneyed energy interests have to be given, gratis, out of American pockets, before we realize that environmental questions implicate national security far more than terrorism, and domestic tranquility far more than the drug war, and start demanding of their politicians a level of commitment commensurate with the gravity of those nose-on-our-face realities.

Posted by: moon at August 15, 2008 09:17 AM | PERMALINK

C'mon, Moon, don't get all Morris on me. I don't like the "drug czar" either; why do you think that makes the idea of an eco-czar more palatable? And while An Inconvenient Truth was a great piece of thought-provoking polemic, it's nowhere near a fully-thought-out blueprint for national policy.

Re security, it's not a choice between "make radical, Puritanical changes to American life to stop using fossil fuels" and "status quo vis-a-vis foreign oil producers". There are plenty of third ways and in-between options. Can Gore see them and be prudent? I dunno. I'm willing to be convinced that he can, but it's at odds with his public statements of recent years.

Posted by: jacflash at August 15, 2008 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

An inconvenient truth is about as realistic and likely to be implemented, vis-a-vis a blueprint for change in environmental matters, as Hilary-care is for health care, or just about any other blanket proposal for policy made by presidents on the campaign trail, or pundits freed from the obligation to attempt to implement their ideas. Gore is still the person seeing the issue most clearly, and the person among the political types who are capable of handling such a position most prepared to work from that framework, of anyone.

But even so, if you've got a problem with someone who shoots for the stars (and God forbid we ever embrace a pol or pundit who thinks big, that's so 1960s), fine, don't appoint Gore. But if you don't think the problem is among the biggest we face, as a matter of moral responsibility in world leadership, as well as fiscal and security self-interest, then you really have drunk the Kool-Aid. When Africa (and, quite possibly, the American west) erupts into a conflagration over the lack of potable water, we'll talk again. It's not just global warming, it's everything that has to do with the burden 6+billion people put on the planet, and if that doesn't warrant a dedicated policy figurehead in the administration of the wealthiest country in the world (and the one most responsible for most of the environmental hardships, of course), then we probably shouldn't have a cabinet at all.

Posted by: moon at August 15, 2008 03:00 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, you've really put me in a little box, haven't you? I don't know whether it's better to respond by saying, "Don't fucking lecture me about the environment, Moon, I'm the one spending seven hundred large to move into a fricking ecovillage in south bumfuck, Massachusetts and I expect to be almost completely off the grid within 10 years" or by saying "I know apocalyptic fantasies are the trendy thing right now, but I never was a trendy guy, and I think I'll just sit here in the corner with my Sir John Templeton quote and watch my contrarian investments bounce while you panic-kiddies scream yourself hoarse."

I'll have to think more about which tack to take, but later. Right now I have a date. More tomorrow, maybe.

Posted by: jacflash at August 15, 2008 05:01 PM | PERMALINK

Now who's going Morris? "Panic kiddies?" Mocking my terms while ignoring the underlying proposition? Offering nothing but derision?

My point is this (and I'm repeating it pro forma; I know you know what I meant): if we don't start acting (and spending) as though we value taking care of the planet every bit as much as we value maintaining an arsenal big enough to evaporate it, subsequent generations will pay a hefty price (which is a lot to ask, since they're already going to paying for our other reckless policy decisions, borrow-and-spend wars, etc.).

Anyway, since you've mocked the notion, what do you propose, aside from the well-off living in ways that enable them to feel above the problem? I get the not-Gore part, but that's not a proposal, and seeing as your plans indicate that you know there's a problem, how do you propose we enable the families living on less than, say, $80K/year not to trash the planet? They're the ones who really matter, since they comprise the vast majority of the country. And feel free to explain how your proposal doesn't require the sort of commitment at the federal level that would be accompanied by a dedicated official ("czar" or otherwise) responsible for setting and adhering to a real agenda and overseeing the sizable budget setting things right will require.

Posted by: moon at August 16, 2008 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

The short answer is I'm with Lomborg, not so much with Gore. Is action needed? Yes. Is it already happening? Yes. Can the federal government do more to push that along. Yes. Are most policy proposals currently being offered likely to do more harm than good? Absolutely.

I am EXTREMELY skeptical of all apocalyptic predictions, on all sides on any subject, because they seem much more to me about personal fantasies and/or tribal bonding than they do about actual sound predictions. It has surely not escaped your attention that humans have been predicting the imminent end of the world for at least 6000 years; we seem to be wired to do it in some way. And yes, I think that even much of the "science" around warming starts with the fantasy and then looks for support. So I mock them. Panic kiddies indeed. If there's anything this discussion needs, it's more grownups. I do not presently count Gore among their ranks. Hysteria is not a plan.

What should we do? There are actions of some low utility that we can take that will certainly make us feel better and might have some local impact. Invest in PV stocks. Root for GM and the Volt. When possible, choose local produce -- organic or not -- over produce shipped from a thousand miles away. But these aren't going to have the impact our do-gooder egos might like to think they will. Lots of "common sense solutions" are just dumb.

For instance, I think limiting fossil fuel consumption is a fool's game. I see no realistic scenario under which all of the easily-accessible oil in the ground is not going to get burnt, whether by Americans or Indians or Africans or whoever. Whether it gets burnt in 100 years or 200 or 400, it's gonna get burnt. Is dragging that process out really a net boon for the planet?

Posted by: jacflash at August 18, 2008 08:34 AM | PERMALINK

I don't dispute your point about oil, although I differ that it makes no difference. I can smoke a carton of cigarettes in your house this week or over the next two years, strictly during the summer when the windows are open. Which do you prefer? Giving the vegetation on the planet time to do its job, as we release insane amounts of carbon dio- and monoxide, is based on pretty indisputable science; it's just better. And as we asymptotically approach really just not needing it, I'm not at all sure we have to burn it all, especially as we have no idea how much is left.

I'm no pie in the sky lefty eco-type: I continue to be baffled that we haven't moved more aggressively to nuclear power, count it as a plus that China and others are getting on board in a big way, and hope we do so, too, while we continue to improve our infrastructure for even more ideal solutions.

But I do dispute the notion that this is just another faith-based millenarian proposal to be debunked in twenty years when it doesn't come true. There's no empirical data for the Four Horseman, but the data regarding the degree to which we're loading the atmosphere with carbon is real; the geological record indicating that when things happen they tend to happen dramatically is real; the fact that many of the supposed doomsday predictions regarding global temps, the ice caps, etc., have been coming true and decades ahead of those supposedly outrageous predictions . . . sorry, washing that all away as so much hokum doesn't work for me. Every major mainstream estimate about the effects of climate change made in the past twenty years has proved conservative, and there's no reason to think the same won't be true in the coming twenty years, during which time a lot of brown people in poor places who are already three times more populous in coastal regions than the food, water, and terrain can support, are going to be running inland. Perhaps only a few miles; perhaps that's enough to shake barely stable detentes the world over.

Will the world be here in 200 years no matter what. Of course. Will people be here in 200 years no matter what? Barring something truly supernatural in the vein of a plague, of course we will. Will the world be even as nice as it is now, which is pretty shitty for billions of people, all things considered? I'm not convinced, and it's not all paranoids who share my skepticism.

(Thank you for the serious response; I'm not unsympathetic, and obviously you take this stuff very seriously.)

Posted by: moon at August 18, 2008 05:15 PM | PERMALINK
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