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In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, dated 27 September, the Congressional Black Caucus declared bankruptcy reform directed at "distressed homeowners" an essential component to any "financial rescue package." Otherwise, the letter suggests, the Caucus would see the plan as a bailout for Wall Street rather than a benefit to the American people.

As you know, the bankruptcy reform did not make the final cut.

What role did the Black Caucus play in the Monday vote?

Of the thirty-nine (39) members of the Caucus casting votes on the bill, twenty-one (21) voted in the negative. While approximately 60 percent of Democrats voted in the affirmative for the bill, 21/39 in opposition is significantly higher than the party profile. Moreover, four out the five Congressional Black Caucus officers voted against the measure.

As you know, the bill failed by twelve votes.

We have been told repeatedly by Democratic leadership that Barack Obama has never been more than a phone call away during this crisis, ready to help the process along in any way possible.

Interesting Question:

What influence did Senator Obama, member in good standing within the Black Caucus, exert on the votes within this oftentimes extremely unified coalition?
A Bosque Boys Timeline:

30 August: A Hail Mary (a low-percentage play that just might work and why).

31 August: The Genius of the Palin Pick (three reasons why Palin might play well and a prediction that the prObama frenzy might backfire).

5 September: The Homerun (how Palin's convention speech changed the nature of this contest).

6 September: Is She Reagan? (she is engaging and polarizing, in a positive political way--but a word of caution: we have only known this woman for eight days).

11 September: Immediate Analysis of the Charlie Gibson interview (not devastating but not great). September 12: Charlie sinking; Sarah on the rise.

13 September: Let's be honest
with what we have here (Sarah has limits; she is no Republican David; she may be as good as Reagan was when he first emerged on the national stage--but early Reagan was much rougher than we remember).

Where Are We Now?

Palin is not as good as her maiden speech--but she is not as bad as Tina Fey (who, by the way, may well prove to be the single-most influential and effective outside actor in this entire election season).

What has happened to our girl? Bill Kristol had it right today on FOX News Sunday: "we have not let Palin be Palin."

We/they have gotten inside her head. She is a raw natural talent with great instincts. We have filled her head with "do's and don'ts." Team McCain has overprotected her, creating the impression inside and outside the camp that she is vulnerable. They have her second-guessing herself.

She needs to relax. She needs to breath through her eyelids.

Let Palin be Palin.

It is worth mentioning that no candidate in history has ever had so much scrutiny and/or so many bright lights in the American intelligentsia rooting for her complete and utter humiliation. In this way, at least, she is Reaganesque.

There is no question that she faces an atrocious double standard. If some reporter had her on tape blithely conversing about visiting all fifty-seven states, or placing President Roosevelt on TV in 1929, she would be over. Sarah Palin does not get the benefit of the doubt, ever. She is the nation of Israel; every battle, every interview is a fight for survival. She is singular among the candidates in that she faces a sudden-death situation every time she walks out of her house.

An Important Aside: the double standard is not sexist--although her liberal tormentors play on sexual stereotypes. Rather, the double standard is the half-century-old conservative disadvantage dealing with left-leaning media institutions, multiplied by a factor of 100 because so much is at stake and her presence makes the race so volatile.

But no honest observer can deny the double standard. Obama can hem and haw, stammer and stutter, and misspeak all across America--but nothing he says will ever do damage to the template of the articulate and erudite constitutional law professor. Joe Biden is good for a gaffe a day (and the Roosevelt thing is perhaps the worst of all time--much worse than "potatoe" in the mind of this history teacher), but none of that matters. Joe Knows.

In truth, none of these gaffes really do matter very much--but the glaring unfairness of the coverage frustrates us. "Call 'em both ways, ref." You can call fouls any way you choose--just make sure a foul is a foul on both ends of the court.

So What?

We got a big event coming on 2 October. It's a Thursday (one day before my 10th Wedding Anniversary--thanks be to God). But this truly is Must See TV.

Conventional Wisdom: silver-haired Senator Joe Biden is going to demolish Tina Fey.

My guess (my hope, perhaps) is that Tina Fey won't show up. From Day One, we have all known Sarah Palin had to deliver on two occasions: her convention speech and the veep debate. She hit a homerun in late August. If she can muster coherence on this Thursday night in early October, it will be tantamount to slapping a tough pitch down the first base line into the right-field corner for a triple.

Is that even possible? If nothing else, we have the expectations game on our side. Although Team Obama understands this--and with their willing accomplices in the media--they may attempt to rehabilitate Palin a bit this week, to fatten her up for the kill. However, Tina Fey and the boys (ours and theirs) and Sarah Palin herself have done too much over the last fortnight to establish the Palin template--it is set in stone.

We will be tuning in on Thursday to see a ferocious liberal lion devour a confused and nearly defenseless Christian. If she can hold her own, we might just have something new to talk about for a week. If she can rise above the expectations, SNL may actually have to come up with a goofy Democratic character.

On the other hand, if she falters at all, say goodnight, Gracie. This debate very well could be exactly what most observers expect: the final nail in the coffin for McCain-Palin 2008.
Just when I had called all TV debates meaningless, Jim Lehrer and his friends offer a vastly improved format designed to encourage more substantial interaction. The new regime was not perfect. Too often, just when the two principals began to find a rhythm, Moderator Lehrer started blowing his whistle and instructing the two contestants to reset for a new line of questioning. Having said that, this was the most fluid and meaningful debate in recent memory.

Some quick thoughts:

1. The so-called Truth Squads are all over McCain and his extemporaneous (I presume) use of Dwight Eisenhower and the Longest Day (following Jim Lehrer's prefatory remarks noting Ike's 1952 quote concerning "national security and solvency").

Some smarties are upset that Johnny Mac called D-Day the "greatest invasion in history" (numerically it was not). Many are jubilantly noting that McCain inaccurately described Ike's famous letter of responsibility (written beforehand in case of failure) as a letter of resignation.

Come on fellas. Is this the best we can do? At worst, this was a harmless error that did not alter McCain's obvious point on accountability. And, arguably, it is a semantic distinction without a difference. It is easy to read that note as a letter of resignation (one old warrior confessed to me that he always saw it as a suicide note). In any event, it is a document speaking to the tradition of falling on one's sword, which is a practice that has fallen severely out of favor in modern culture. It is a long way from "mistakes were made," which illustrated brilliantly McCain's simple assertion.

2. The exchange on the economy was less than revealing. McCain got the best of the debate with his promise to freeze spending, drill offshore, and pursue nukes--but the economy remains Barack Obama's major asset in this campaign. Nothing transpired tonight to alter that basic fact of life.

3. McCain won the battle of the Surge. Obama cannot compete with McCain on the current facts concerning Iraq. Obama repeatedly staggered under the weight of recent events, invoking the specter of Osama bin Laden, evading 2007 by emphasizing the decisions of 2003, and even reminding his audience that Joe (Biden) knows. But again--does any of that really matter right now? Remember when we thought this election was going to be about Iraq?

4. McCain gave a tour de force on foreign affairs knowledge, effortlessly integrating into the conversation unpronounceable names and obscure faraway places. During these riffs, Obama could do little more than furrow his brow and nod his head in a serious way. McCain pounded the point that Obama had no idea or understanding of American foreign relations. I believe him. But, again, does anyone really care about foreign policy experience in this election? My hunch is not so much.

5. I don't have FOX News--but it certainly seems that Obama is dominating the spin on TV (the networks and PBS). The mainstream consensus: draw (or, slight edge for Obama). Considering that this debate was McCain's strong suit, a draw for Obama equals BIG CASINO.

My sense is that McCain did better than the talking heads think right now. We will see how this all plays out over the next forty-eight hours. My guess is the "take away" (the on-again, off-again drama) generated more interest in the debate than we might have seen otherwise; therefore, I would expect some high numbers in re viewers.

My guess: not as bad for McCain as the pundits are predicting-- but, certainly, no dramatic knock down for the maverick.

Revised and extended version of the comments section here.
Barack Obama on why he insists on maintaining the debate on Friday night as scheduled:

"This is exactly the time the American people need to hear from the person who in approximately 40 days will be responsible for dealing with this mess."

"In my mind, [the debate] is more important than ever."

Three Quick Things:

1. No one new will be in charge of this mess until 20 January. We have an election in 40-odd days--but we wait more than two months after that for an actual changing of the guard. We cannot wait four months for a fix.

2. The debate in question is over foreign policy--not economics.

3. And the last thing we need is two donkeys (and I am not talking party symbols here) "demagoguing it up" on TV. We need two statesmen who are willing to forgo political advantage and put their country first. No solution is possible with the grandstanding Congressional leadership mugging for the cameras and dueling for the best plan to help the "little people." Our only hope is some selflessness.

Elections be damned. I salute John McCain for the sentiment and the paean to the founding heroes of the United States of America. Even if he is just being cynical (and I am not at all sure that he is), I appreciate the sop to an antiquated American tradition. John Quincy Adams would be proud.

14/09: Run This Ad

A lot of talk this week about disingenuous McCain ads. Aside from the fact that the prObama press labels every hard-hitting negative ad against their man misleading and beneath contempt, our recent attacks have lacked punch. Not only are they weak in the veracity department, they are mostly sound and fury.

The McCain team should run this ad:


Video of an ecstatic Barack crowd (women fainting and men shouting hallelujahs), with Barack chanting something like, "we are the change we seek; we are the change we have been waiting for."

Voice Over: The Change we Need?

Fade to black.

Come back on a headline: Obama Rejects Public Financing.

Voice Over: Barack Obama promised to participate in the public financing system, just as every other presidential candidate has done since its inception in 1976. He kept his promise (a pause) right up until the moment he saw advantage in breaking it.

Cut To: Crowd again. More soaring oratory from Obama. Some platitude about a new post-partisan better way of doing the business of the American people.

Fade to black.

Come back on a headline: Obama: No Townhall Debates

Voice Over: Barack Obama says he wants to concentrate on issues and raise the level of political discourse in this country. But when John McCain invited him to tour the breadth of this nation, debating and discussing the vital challenges confronting America in a series of townhall meetings, traveling together from stop to stop, demonstrating that two patriots from opposite sides of the aisle could disagree without being disagreeable, Barack Obama saw no personal political advantage. So, he never got around to responding to the invitation.

This is a Change We Can Believe In?

Senator Obama talks a good game--but he is not nearly as adept at walking the walk.

John McCain. You may not always agree with him, but you can always count on him to put Country First.