I was unable to watch the debate live (PKPR was handling publicity last night for Tropfest NY with Julianne Moore and Billy Crudup!) I did, however, receive text updates from Cindy throughout the night and watched on DVR when I got home.
Overall, it wasn't super exciting and no moments that will change the campaign, but one reader at Andrew Sullivan brings up a point that was grating on me - McCain never looked at Obama.
If you were living in the real world, if you were some hotshot young executive at a Fortune 500 company trying to rise in the ranks, and you pulled some whacked crap like this, it would probably get you blackballed permanently. People would think you were either deeply unreliable or maybe just had a screw loose. And yet here he is -- is he kidding? He can't debate Barack Obama because he's got to go to Washington and save the economy? It's like the biggest 'dog at my homework' in history.
I can't conceivably think of a way that John McCain recovers from this.
The political junkies like us might be able to get nuances, but most people are just going to hear the words "suspended campaign". It sounds like he quit. Which he basically did. Whether the debate happens now or not, McCain most definitely blinked, the very antithesis of his whole campaign.
Cindy, Rob, Alex, Gerry, Ted and I drove to Doylestown, PA on Saturday to canvass door-to-door for Barack. We were sent to Quakerstown, a working class town, and met lots of Obama supporters, including an 84-year old woman who opened her door very slowly and hesitantly - we were sure she'd be a Hillary die-hard or for McCain - but proclaimed "Obama's my man" when she saw our buttons.
Before freaking out over this week's polls, read this Huffington Post piece on how the polls are flawed: few of them are reflecting the fact that Democrats now have an 11 million + lead over Republicans thanks to Democratic voter registration drives (and what about the fact that almost all young people - and everyone I know - now only use a cell phone, thus making themselves unavailable to pollsters):
This week's mainstream coverage of the presidential horse-race has been dominated by a series of polls showing the McCain-Palin ticket with its first stable lead over Obama and Biden. Gallup's tracking poll, USA Today and CBS News all show the Republicans with some kind of lead over the Democratic ticket. But, interestingly, all three polls were also conducted using a higher sampling of Republican voters than in July, raising a question of methodology.
In a year in which Democrats have a lead of 11 million registered voters over Republicans, and have been adding to that advantage through a robust field operation, are pollsters over-sampling Republicans?
In some ways, I thought the video was even more powerful than her speech.
First, Chelsea's narration was so sincere and understated. It was so simple yet so powerful.
Second, it showed a side of Hillary that the media and her campaign did not always show - the hairstyles, the crowds, the fans, the history, the connection with voters. It was a historic and massive campaign in every sense.
Third, it was iconic. It reminded me of the reasons I was always drawn to Hillary in the first place. She is the Madonna of politics. A rock star.
As so many commentators - and she herself has pointed out - she has done far more for Barack Obama than any runner-up in history.
The best line of the speech for me:
My mother was born before women could vote. But in this election my daughter got to vote for her mother for president.
This is the story of America. Of women and men who defy the odds and never give up.
How do we give this country back to them?
By following the example of a brave New Yorker, a woman who risked her life to shepherd slaves along the Underground Railroad.
Yet, in some ways, her speech also reminded me of why I have grown so wary of politics - especially 90's style Clinton politics. A style epitomized with the classic Clinton laundry list of issues and interest groups.
Bill Clinton perfected the laundry list. In fact, if you look back at his speeches, that is all they often were -a list of every issue, program, and minor policy.
I'm all for lists, but I'm more into vision these days (I've been working with an executive coach). What is the big picture? What role can we play? What are we really working towards?
Hillary did not have a vision at the beginning of her campaign. She was "in it to win it." There was nothing in it for me. It was a laundry list.
By the end of her campaign she had moved closer to a vision that embraced the historic nature of her candidacy and the change it would have brought to Washington, our world, and everyday life.
But it was too late. Barack had already filled the vacuum.
It is vision that attracted me to Obama in the first place - the hope that a new kind of politics could exist that was about something bigger than just a list of things that will probably never happen (they rarely do - I can only name a handful of meaningful laws that have been passed in the past 20 years). A politics that was about the future, fast, fresh, less scripted, more spontaneous, and more in sync with the world today.
Michelle inspired and moved me last night. I know Barack will on Thursday. And I am excited to no ends that he may be our next president. Phone bank next Tuesday and Thursday in my office.
Barack's speech tonight reminded me again why I believe so strongly in his candidacy:
Yes, we know what's coming. We've seen it already. The same names and labels they always pin on everyone who doesn't agree with all their ideas. The same efforts to distract us from the issues that affect our lives by pouncing on every gaffe and association and fake controversy in the hope that the media will play along. The attempts to play on our fears and exploit our differences to turn us against each other for pure political gain - to slice and dice this country into Red States and Blue States; blue-collar and white-collar; white and black, and brown.
This is what they will do - no matter which one of us is the nominee. The question, then, is not what kind of campaign they'll run, it's what kind of campaign we will run. It's what we will do to make this year different. I didn't get into race thinking that I could avoid this kind of politics, but I am running for President because this is the time to end it.
We will end it this time not because I'm perfect - I think by now this campaign has reminded all of us of that. We will end it not by duplicating the same tactics and the same strategies as the other side, because that will just lead us down the same path of polarization and gridlock.
We will end it by telling the truth - forcefully, repeatedly, confidently - and by trusting that the American people will embrace the need for change.
And this part gave me goosebumps:
Most of all, I trust the American people's desire to no longer be defined by our differences. Because no matter where I've been in this country - whether it was the corn fields of Iowa or the textile mills of the Carolinas; the streets of San Antonio or the foothills of Georgia - I've found that while we may have different stories, we hold common hopes. We may not look the same or come from the same place, but we want to move in the same direction - towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren.
That's why I'm in this race. I love this country too much to see it divided and distracted at this moment in history. I believe in our ability to perfect this union because it's the only reason I'm standing here today. And I know the promise of America because I have lived it.
It is the light of opportunity that led my father across an ocean.
It is the founding ideals that the flag draped over my grandfather's coffin stands for - it is life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It's the simple truth I learned all those years ago when I worked in the shadows of a shuttered steel mill on the South Side of Chicago - that in this country, justice can be won against the greatest of odds; hope can find its way back to the darkest of corners; and when we are told that we cannot bring about the change that we seek, we answer with one voice - yes we can.