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calendar   Sunday - August 31, 2008

Barack Obama had it all…and then it changed.  (should he lose, will he have been Palined?)

Many of the comments that follow this editorial can cause RCOB syndrome.  I haven’t a problem with ppl who have questions or even valid (as they see it) criticism.  But some folks get down right idiotic with off the wall foul remarks.  As though it adds to anything.  Some ppl clearly are just born that way I guess,

Barack Obama had it all...and then it changed
By Anne Applebaum
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 31/08/2008

Change has come to American politics. And no, I don’t mean “change” of the sort that was written on the placards that Barack Obama supporters waved during his nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic convention last Thursday night, though perhaps that will come too.

Republican nominee John McCain’s surprise vice-presidential pick, about which more in a moment, is certainly new and different.

But the change I’m talking about right now is technical, not political, and it involves video clips being passed around from person to person.

Last week’s convention, The New York Times rightly declared, is the first in which “people are passing on enormous amounts of information to friends, who are in turn passing it to more friends, mostly by way of YouTube”, in far larger numbers than ever before.

For the first time, absolutely the best way to watch this convention was not on CNN, not on CSPAN, but on its own website.

At http://www.demconvention.com, all the action was live, high-definition, and without superfluous commentary of any kind. And if you missed a live speech, it was easy enough to watch the clips over a leisurely coffee in the morning.

What this means, though, is that more emphasis than ever was placed not on the Democratic party as a whole, but on a handful of the party’s stars: Barack and Michelle, Hillary and Bill, Joe Biden.

One or two other famous names also appeared on the podium (Teddy Kennedy, John Kerry, Al Gore) and all of the party leadership were there too.

But if you were watching only the video clips, either because you clicked on the website or someone sent them to you on your iPhone, you never saw them at all.

Thus did the major speakers craft and shape the event, at least for those watching it from afar, to a new degree. The drama of the Clintons - would they endorse Obama? And if so, were they sincere? - dominated the first two days.

The drama of Obama - could he make a speech as overwhelming as the one he made at the last Democratic convention, in 2004? - dominated the rest.

As it happens, the Democrats are blessed, in this election year, with an unusually gifted group of speakers. Hillary did seem stiff and rehearsed, as she always does, but Bill Clinton - though he can’t possibly have been happy about giving it - made a superb speech, deliberately noting that he, too, was once called “inexperienced”.

Michelle Obama managed to be both powerful and maternal, not an easy task. And Obama himself, though producing a more workmanlike, less soaring speech than in 2004, managed to condemn Bush without sounding too pessimistic, creating some excellent video clips along the way: “America, we are better than these last eight years!”

To put it mildly, the Republicans have a tough act to follow.

Above all, they now have a problem with their main speakers, starting with tomorrow night’s: President Bush and Vice-President Cheney.

For if the central drama of the Democratic convention was one of reconciliation, the central drama of the Republican convention is one of separation: how can McCain possibly distance himself from the Bush administration without offending much of his party?

Because Bush is profoundly unpopular, video clips of him endorsing John McCain could - particularly when repeated over and over again on the laptops and iPhones of the nation - sink McCain’s chances forever.

On the other hand, anything McCain says that appears too sceptical or too negative about his party’s legacy - and in particular anything he says that appears dismissive of the religious Right or the conservative movement, which provide the party’s most faithful votes - could doom him as well.

But the candidate himself could be a problem too. In person, John McCain is warm and eloquent, one of those rare politicians who actually appears to be listening to people. He is unpretentious, and approachable, the very opposite of “aloof”, the adjective that often sticks to Obama.

Unfortunately, those qualities do not translate well into large arenas and aren’t necessarily visible on camera. He’s never been great at reading speeches aloud, and seems uncomfortable with teleprompters.

Hence part of the logic of his vice-presidential pick: Sarah Palin - corruption-fighting Governor of Alaska, anti-abortion mother of five, Miss Alaska runner-up, wife of an Eskimo fisherman, former basketball star (known as “Sarah Barracuda” to her teammates) - solves a number of problems at once.

Obviously, she solves the immediate problem of the convention: though her short comments on Friday gave no hint of great oratorical powers, it is safe to assume that the clips of the first Republican on a national ticket with double-pierced ears will begin circling the nation the minute she stops talking.

Perhaps, just perhaps, she solves McCain’s other problem too: if nothing else, she is a definite break with the past, and a definite reinforcement of McCain’s old “maverick” image.

She isn’t like anyone in the Bush administration, isn’t an over-familiar face, doesn’t much resemble any of the mainstream Republican leaders at all. She could make his campaign - or break it, of course, if she’s a disaster, as many already fear she will be.

At the very least, her appointment, which came as a total surprise, makes a fitting end to what has been both the most high-tech, as well as the most unpredictable, American primary season in memory.

“Change” has not become the mantra of this campaign for nothing.

http://tinyurl.com/5p7agv


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 08/31/2008 at 03:05 PM   
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