Next week: The Monty Hall Problem properly explained . . . your thoughts on Telepresence and Oilgae . . . and more. But today:


Jonathan Levy: ‘Beware of unintended consequences, I guess. 🙂 I went to the McCain video and one of the ‘related’ videos that came up showed Obama claiming to have visited 57 states. Clearly, he knows how many states there are and there are any number of plausible explanations that amount to a minor slip of the tongue (meaning to say “47,” counting non-states that hold primaries or caucuses, just flat-out saying the wrong word). The interesting thing is that a quick Google search turned up no such explanation from the campaign or any other even vaguely authoritative source. Many, many hits mocking him for it, though. Any idea what happened and why there was no clarification?’

☞ There are 50 states. That much I can confirm. But there are also Convention delegates from the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands and “Democrats Abroad” – for a total of 56 – in which case (horrors!), if my list is complete, he was off by one. (It is further complicated by the fact that some of the territory delegates get only fractional votes.)

I haven’t seen the video, so maybe there’s another explanation. (Was he staring at a ketchup bottle at the time?)

But I know you’ll agree this is rather different from Senator McCain saying we have reduced the force in Iraq to pre-surge levels (we have not) . . . or repeatedly stating that Iran is Sunni (it is predominantly Shiia) . . . or having to be corrected by Sen. Lieberman when he kept saying Iran was arming Al-Qaeda in Iraq (it is arming the insurgents).

As with so many attacks on Gore and then Kerry and now Obama, a little digging generally shows whatever it was to be unfounded, or else trivial.


Ralph Sierra: ‘Here is a link to Obama’s speech Tuesday. Frankly, it’s the first speech of his that I have read, but it confirms, for me, my belief that he is the candidate for this place and time. He is what I have been waiting for for the past forty years. A presidential candidate who runs on a platform of what we can do rather than promising to get rid of government, cut taxes on the only people who can afford to pay them, and let ‘the marketplace’ magically solve all our problems. It will be a miracle if he can accomplish half of what I hope he will, but at least, he is capable of giving people hope and inspiring them to try to turn things around. Many have said that he doesn’t have the experience to do the job, that he is an empty-suit, that he doesn’t know what he’s getting into. I say it’s a good thing he doesn’t know what he’s up against; otherwise, he’d never try, and we’d have nothing to hope for. I don’t believe in destiny, but I think Obama came along just in time. His speech is kind of long, but I urge you to watch or read it – it’s terrific!’


Mike F.: ‘I’m a gay man, college educated, and generally left-of-center politically. I almost always vote Democratic. However, I’m one of those Hillary supporters who just may not be able to vote for Obama. I’ve heard the arguments. Indeed, they ARE very similar in their positions; that’s not the problem. In a theoretical government, President Obama would be fantastic. My issue is experience. Barack Obama has been a US Senator for less than 4 years. From a domestic standpoint, will he be able to push his “change” agenda through Congress, even a Democratic controlled one? Idealistic presidential fiat only goes so far before those pesky Congressmen and Senators have their say. That lesson was learned in 1993, as I recall. Internationally, do I trust Obama to handle issues more competently than McCain? Will immediately pulling US troops out of Iraq somehow stabilize that part of the world? Consequently, I find myself ‘leaning toward’ McCain. Admittedly, I’m not totally there yet and with five months before the election, he still has plenty of time to alienate me (VP Huckabee, anyone?). But, right now, I’d be more comfortable with him as my ‘go to guy’ when that 3 AM call comes in. I agree with many more of Obama’s policies, I just question his ability to implement them in a less than ideal world.’

☞ Thanks, Mike. No rush, but I hope you’ll come around because:

  1. As you say, McCain would be fighting for, rather than against, many of the things you want.
  1. Clinton had no foreign policy experience but did just fine: He was immediately recognized by world leaders for his skills and intelligence and determination, all of which Obama shares. (By contrast, I once had occasion to ask a high-ranking British official shortly after the Inauguration, what his government thought of Bush. There was a long, thoughtful pause. ‘We think,’ he finally said, ‘he is President of the United States.’)
  • Also, like Clinton, Obama is likely to listen intently to everyone (Bush is not terribly curious, doesn’t read the paper) and appoint the kind of experienced advisors who (unlike Rumsfeld and Cheney) will serve him, and us, well.
  1. Domestically, change is hard. But I think we just might see the kind of mandate, as America comes to know Obama over the next five months, that gives him the clout to begin solving problems. An awful lot of Americans are hurting too badly, and by November may be hurting worse, to buy a third Bush term. Which, when you look at all the issues, really IS pretty much what McCain offers: protecting the tax cuts for the rich; moving the Supreme Court further to the right; opposing the social safety net.
  • (And please note: Obama has NOT called for immediate withdrawal from Iraq.)

Finally, there’s the issue of the message we send to the world.

After reelecting Bush once, do we now go for our 44th white male, a hawk on Iraq, who’s pictured everywhere hugging Bush? The man with the private jet and 9 houses who leads the political party that is associated with Guantanamo and Abu Gharib? Who mocks Obama for his willingness to sit down with our adversaries?

I’m not denying there is much to respect about McCain’s lifetime of service. But that’s not the “meta-message” his election would send billions of people.

Or do we now send the world a message that in America, anything is possible. In America, people are valued regardless of their race, religion, gender identity or ethnicity. In America, there is a new day: the kind of smart, roll-up-your-sleeves optimism, backed by enormous public enthusiasm, that time after time shows we CAN change course, rise to our challenges – not just shop when called upon to do so – and solve big problems.

That’s the meta-message I’d like to see us send the world, and to America’s youth.

So – much as I would have been THRILLED to support Hillary, had she won – I am equally thrilled to be supporting Barack. I hope as this thing unfolds over the next few months, you’ll sign on.


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