By Al Giordano
I'm still formulating what I hope will be a meaningful wrap-up of a wonderful and productive long weekend at the Netroots Nation convention in Austin (which, in part, was a test-drive for our upcoming attendance at and reporting from the Democratic National Convention in Denver, a month from now). One of the successes in Austin was in our hosting the best convention-eve party there: we met a gigantic posse of friends, Field Hands, readers and colleagues to help us navigate the rest of the week.
Our party in Austin was free (well, for everyone else: we sprung for the food) and the trip overall cost us more dough. The expenses for the Denver coverage have already been met through so many of your donations last month, but we've also got to keep the labor, the hardware and the software of this project going: The Fund for Authentic Journalism, which supports our work, relies on your contributions.
And so with the help of some Colorado Field Hands - including Keith Howard, who has lent us his beautiful home on Sunday, August 24 - our garden party in Denver will also be a fundraising event.
And so, The Field and Narco News cordially invite you to:
A Sunday Afternoon Reception in Denver
Sunday, August 24 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.
At the home of Keith Howard
4303 Umatilla Street
(Seven minutes from downtown Denver)
A reception to benefit:
The Fund for Authentic Journalism
Minimum contribution: $50
Sponsors: $100, $250, $500, $1,000
Space limited. Make your reservation today by clicking this link.
Even if you can't be in Denver, we'd love to include your name among the sponsors.
And please consider making a $50 contribution (or a donation of any size) from afar even if you can't be there in person. In addition to the importance of your support to the work, we'd like to be able to announce impressive results to kick off that historic week in Colorado.
Press and other inquiries: email@example.com
Special guests and entertainment to be announced.
By Al Giordano
Salon.com writer Glenn Greenwald (whose got-up-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-bed correspondence with The Field got him featured here a couple of weeks ago) has written a post that I agree with. He says that the Democratic National Convention Committee isn't helping its candidates by selling ad space to telecom corporations on the convention swag bags to be doled out to delegates in Denver next month:
What's most striking about the Convention bag -- aside, of course, from its stunning design -- is how the parties no longer bother even trying to hide who it is who funds and sponsors them.
That's right, Glenn. Go get ‘em. Accepting paid advertising from big telecom companies is very damaging to anyone's credibility and reputation. It's a wonderful thing to have champions that eschew such conflicts as they make the people's case. They've taught us that absolute purity is very, very important in all political discourse.
Now, I'd like to read more from Glenn over at Salon.com, a place where I surely won't be assaulted by ads and logos from big telecom companies - like Verizon - to be able do so...
Oops. Never mind.
By Al Giordano
Bio: Tom Bevan is co-founder & Executive Editor of RealClearPolitics. In addition to writing features and a popular blog for RealClearPolitics, Tom spent two years as an opinion columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. His work has also appeared in The New York Sun and The Arizona Republic, and he has been featured as a political analyst on a number of national radio and television shows including FNC's Hannity & Colmes, CNBC's Kudlow & Company, the BBC's Worldview, and C-Span's Washington Journal, among others.
In fact, Bevan lists zero foreign reporting or policy experience (unless having been on Hannity and Colmes counts as space travel of some sort). Bevan, in reality, is an advertising agency account executive by training and a right-wing political activist that woke up one day and decided he wanted to be a journalist.
That's all well and good. Blogging has opened up commentary to the amateurs and democratized the news in the process. The Field links to RealClearPolitics ("RCP"), among the blogs on our sidebar (we clearly don't agree with all of them all the time), from this site and I check it frequently because it links to so many other sources of information on the subject of US politics, right, left, center and other.
But when it comes to the foreign policy stories it includes, RCP's bent is not merely slightly right-wing, but almost exclusively so and, worse, through a Cold War nostalgic lens. That the blog (and its bloggers) were gobbled up at some point by Time magazine also puts it more into the category of commercial media than that of independent blogs. And yet its right-wing activist bent continues to shine through.
In 2003, Bevan's RCP co-founder, John McIntyre, told the conservative magazine Human Events of their agenda:
"We have a frustration that all conservatives have, which is the bias in the media against conservatives, religious conservatives, Christian conservatives."
So now we can understand how, in its daily link-a-thon to articles about US politics, RealClearPolitics sprinkles that with frequent right-wing spin links regarding foreign policy (that's especially true of stories about Latin America).
There's an evident dose of projection in Bevan's latest blog entry about Senator Obama and what Bevan calls his "arrogance" on foreign policy.
The entire post of 819 words is based upon only two sourced claims, and lightweight ones at that:
One, what an advisor to Obama reportedly told some people, according to conservative National Review pundit Jim Geraghty.
Two, a March 2008 blog post by Mark Andreessen recalling an alleged 2007 conversation with Obama (one that he says gave him a very positive impression convinced him to vote for him; Bevan twists it to fit his own spin).
Based entirely on these two pieces of hearsay, Bevan concludes:
Humility is a virtue not always consistent with running for President. It is one thing to be confident in one's abilities, and another thing to be overbearing to the point of arrogance.
To try to demonstrate such "overbearing... arrogance" on the part of Obama, Bevan offers only - let me recap in case you missed the entirety of his argument - what a supporter said about the senator, and a paraphrasing (not even a direct quote) of what another supporter says Obama said to him in early 2007. It's like a friggin' game of telephone. And, clearly, the senator's arrogance is so overbearing that... you need a damn microscope to see it.
I found this funny because in a previous column earlier this year, Bevan explained his own vast personal experience (cough) that makes him, in his mind, an expert on Latin American politics and on Venezuela in particular (a topic upon which Bevan and his website are one-sidedly and constantly on the "demonize Hugo Chavez" end of the spectrum):
I remember this period fairly well, because at the time I lived in Miami and worked with a young woman from a well to do family from Venezuela. Her parents, along with the rest of the business class in Venezuela, were petrified by Chavez...
Got that? Bevan is an expert on the subject of Venezuelan politics because he once worked with a young Venezuelan oligarch in Miami, and based on her family's "petrified" response to Chavez, Bevan absolutely knows what is happening in that area of the world.
And now Bevan is an expert on Obama's alleged arrogance (a key talking point suggested by GOP strategist Karl Rove's country club portrayal some weeks back) because, well, Bevan himself is a walking poster boy for a certain overbearing arrogance rooted in a complete lack of experience in the subject matter upon which he deems to write.
Pot, Kettle, Bevan.
By Al Giordano
Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review wrote a public memo to the McCain campaign this week instructing them to mimic Senator Clinton's late primaries tactics against Obama:
He should take a page from Hillary Clinton. She did not, of course, defeat Obama, but she road-tested a strategy that cost him support among crucial constituencies - and that strategy is even better suited to McCain's general-election run than it was to her primary campaign....
For a contemporary Democrat, Hillary ran a center-Right campaign; she talked of blowing Iran to smithereens, downed shots of Crown Royal, and appealed frankly to blue-collar whites. Many of these tactics had little substance, but they conveyed a sense of toughness that endeared Hillary to her voters and highlighted a vulnerability of the polished but aloof and fragile-seeming Obama.
One of those populist tactics was to run against the media; a Fourth Estate that is, after all, legitimately resented by rank-and-file citizens. When, earlier this year, a Saturday Night Live skit lampooned supposed media love for Obama, Senator Clinton (for those of you who just joined our programming, there once was a Senator Clinton who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 2008 but was bested by a young upstart named Barack Obama) went so far as to cite the comedy sketch in a debate (asking aloud and snarkily if she should get Obama a pillow to make him more comfortable). And you can see archival footage of Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe in the McCain campaign video, above, from when he and others were out pushing it so hard. The tactic worked for a few weeks, gut-checking the press (which, after all, has to live up to its self-made impossible myth of "objective journalism") into then engaging in a spasm of Obama-bashing. The key word is "temporarily." Because there are already antibodies in the national political bloodstream to deal with this particular attempt at spreading a media contagion, and McCain basically gets only one shot to do that in this campaign. He would have been smarter to save that play for October.
Like Senator Clinton (and the overall "Clinton brand"), McCain himself has been a media darling at various points in his political career, particularly when he ran against George W. Bush in 2000, and he played the fawning attention to the limits of what it was worth. (And positive commercial media coverage is very much limited in how far one can ride it.) In that historical context, there's something as glaringly pathetic about McCain's complaining stance of today as there was of Clinton's last spring, and that's why it's not likely to work for him any better than it did for the New York senator.
Not only did we see Obama pivot off the media attacks regarding a Chicago pastor and some remarks about bitterness in the population - hammered hard by Clinton and her surrogates and media allies at the time - in ways that strengthened the Obama brand: We also saw Obama's grassroots supporters and bloggers develop inoculating vaccines in short time. The Clinton gambit, accusing the media of excessive Obama-love, turned out to be a mere passing fad, and when Obama hit back he began to pull away from Clinton according to all polling metrics.
Interestingly, much of the anger against Senator Clinton at the time was based on the prescient sense that McCain, later on, would take the memes she forwarded to damage Obama and make them his. That's exactly what's being attempted now. As the National Review columnists note, "she road-tested a strategy that cost him support among crucial constituencies." I would venture that the McCain campaign is aiming this cannon at the exact same base constituency: Aging, Appalachian white voters, particularly in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
And this is going to bring a test of just how sincere and committed Senator Clinton's proclamations - still suspect in some corners - in support of Obama really are: These are the attacks that she and her handlers authored, armed and activated. I have no doubt that Obama, with fresh experience having bested those arguments once, will dispense with them once again.
The greater risk here is for Senator Clinton, who, for the sake of her own political future, had better bring out her wire cutters and make a big show of disarming the bomb that sports her logo on its design. As McCain attempts to brand himself as Clinton II, he simultaneously imposes the McCain brand on that of Clinton, who has the keys to her own cell, er, toolbox on this one.
By Al Giordano
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told a German magazine he supported prospective U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's proposal that U.S. troops should leave Iraq within 16 months.
In an interview with Der Spiegel released on Saturday, Maliki said he wanted U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible.
"U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes."
Watch the video for the three-point shot.
I'm off back into the final night of Netroots Nation. More to report soon!
Update: It's not on Obama's official campaign schedule, and the campaign hasn't yet announced it to the press, but the Unity Journalists of Color, Inc. organization that holds its national conference next week in Chicago says that Obama's first stop upon returning home will be there:
Sen. Obama, the apparent Democratic presidential nominee, will appear on stage Sunday morning, July 27th. This will likely be his first national appearance after returning from his international trip to Europe and the Middle East. Sen. Obama has accepted the invitation that UNITY also extended to Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.
"We are pleased that our UNITY colleagues will have the chance to hear from Sen. Obama and be among the first to question him upon his return from his overseas trip," said Karen Lincoln Michel, UNITY president. "We hope that in this historic campaign, Sen. McCain, whose presence is equally important, will also address our audience - the kind of audience that reflects the growing diversity in America."
Update II: More from Chuck Todd on NBC's Meet The Press today (courtesy of Jed):
Update III: Jed predicts that to stem the bleeding from what begins as a strong week for Obama, Republican nominee McCain will announce his vice presidential pick this week and that it will be Mitt Romney:
John McCain will select his VP choice this week, perhaps on Wednesday. His intention? Distract attention from the utter collapse of his agenda on Iraq, his total flip-flop on Afghanistan, and, last but not least, Barack Obama's successful trip overseas.
As predictions go, that's a bold but plausible one. The Field has also opined that Romney would be his most likely pick.
Update IV: Robert Novak is now echoing Jed, citing unnamed source that says McCain will pick his veep this week.
By Al Giordano
Steve Hildebrand (in the photo above), deputy campaign manager for the Obama campaign, just announced at the Netroots Nation convention a "three-day massive voter registration drive for Labor Day weekend, after the Democratic National Convention."
"Thousands upon thousands of volunteers will go register millions of people that weekend alone," said Hildebrand, a key architect of the 2007 "Walk for Change" strategy that spurred the Obama organization in states throughout the country before the campaign had even a single staff member in most of them.
Hildebrand, speaking at the Organizing for Change: An Inside Look at Obama for America's Grassroots Strategy panel this morning at the Austin Convention Center, called 2008 "an historic opportunity to build a truly dominant Democratic Party and forget, once and for all, about this concept of red states and blue states."
Hildebrand said that the goal is to target "people who have been disenchanted" with electoral politics, and "people who thought their votes didn't make a difference."
The suggestion is that the "bully pulpit" of the widely televised Democratic National Convention August 25-28 will be used to prod viewers and supporters into participating in the registration drive the following weekend.
Update (from the panel, still going on): In response to a question by The Field, Ohio General Election Director for the Obama campaign, Jeremy Bird, noted that as the Obama Fellows program winds down next week, the campaign will be hiring many of those newly trained and field-tested community organizers as field staff, and that the campaign will hold "huge statewide and regional trainings" as the next step.
Volunteers will be trained to register voters and "to take ownership over your turf," said Bird, "giving people the skills to register, persuade and turn out voters, so when we go to doors and when we talk to people on the phone, it won't just be reading from script, but forming relationships."
Hildebrand added that he considers the grassroots field organization and bloggers to be vital in beating back rumors and smears: "Every single day there is an attack. In a 24-hour news cycle, we need immediate response, we need help, and we can't do it on our own. Make sure that people who are reading your sites know the truth."