Thoughts from Inauguration Day

A few random thoughts on yesterday:

Though some in the progressive blogosphere disagree, I thought Obama’s inaugural speech was very good. His start, contrasting taking the oath of office “during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace” (as now-former President Bush did 1) versus taking the oath as he does “amidst gathering clouds and raging storms” really set the tone for the whole speech. With Bush sitting right there – mere feet from the podium – Obama categorically rejected almost every policy of the Bush administration. When they cut to a shot of Bush in the middle, he didn’t seem to be enjoying Obama’s speech very much. In a way, I was reminded of Steven Colbert’s epic performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner a few years ago. Of course, the difference was that Colbert was speaking truth to power while Obama is speaking truth from power.

Speaking of Ex-President Bush (man, I love writing that) I can say a lot of negative things about him, but I will grudgingly commend him on handling the transition. However, it does feel like it’s grading him on a massive curve: “Sure he’s been an abysmal president, but at least he was able to peacefully hand over the reigns of power without fucking that up too.”

I felt sorry for Elizabeth Alexander, the poet who had to speak after President Obama’s inaugural speech. Everyone started heading for the exits after Obama was done. I hope those early exiters could hear Reverend Lowery’s benediction, it was awesome. I realize Reverend Warren was a controversial pick to deliver the invocation – certainly, I’m not a fan – but I respect Obama for being inclusive of all-viewpoints. And while having a quartet with the likes of Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma was awesome, I especially liked John Williams’ inaugural piece “Air and Simple Gifts”. But wouldn’t the theme to Superman have been more appropriate? 😄

Finally, I skipped the rest of the pre and post inauguration analysis and commentary other than the Countdown podcast which I listen to on my way to work most days. Frankly, I didn’t need to be reminded of what an historic day it was. Res ipsa loquitur.

  1. The Onion was disturbingly prescient with their article eight years ago “Bush: ‘Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over’” Idea

The words everyone is using to describe President-Elect Obama’s transition is “hit the ground running.” Of all the aspects of the transition, I wanted to call out, the new website dedicated to the transition. There’s not much up there yet: Obama’s election-night Grant Park speech, Obama’s first press conference and first radio address as president-elect, the announcement that Rahm Emanuel will be Chief of Staff and transition co-chair Valerie Jarrett’s MTP appearance. Of course, it has been less than a week since the election – there’s only so much that could get done in that time, even when you hit the ground running.

Most interesting about the site is how it invites average American citizens to participate. Maybe not surprising, given the Politics 2.0 campaign Obama ran, but it’s nice to see an administration that’s interested in my story about the election, my vision for what America can be and my ideas about solving our biggest challenges. Obviously, it remains to be seen how an Obama administration will use this information, but there’s little reason to ask for everyone’s opinions if you’re not really interested in reading or acting on them.

The one criticism I’d make about the site is that it looks like these stories, visions and ideas aren’t publicly published to the site. Obama’s campaign site had My.BarackObama (which will “live on”) but there’s no corollary – at least, not yet. On the other hand, with only 71 days until we drop “elect” from “president-elect”, maybe it makes more sense to hold off on deploying that kind of infrastructure to a more permanent home. Personally, I’m rooting for, My.House.Gov and My.Senate.Gov would also be nice to have. Since doesn’t publicly publish stories, visions or ideas, I wanted to post my idea here as well.

(Side note, is it just me or is a pretty crappy home page?)

Obviously, there are immediate economic issues to deal with and we need to bring the troops home from Iraq. But after those, I would like to see the Obama administration put renewable energy at the top of it’s priority list. I believe that investing in renewable energy as well as the infrastructure to deliver that energy (the so called “smart grid”) should be our top priority because I believe it provides the most bang for the buck when it comes policy.

First off, it will create jobs which is probably the most critical step for turning the economy around. We’ve lost 1.2 million jobs in the past year and unemployment is at a 14 year high.  Second, I’m a big believer in Obama’s long-stated goal of eliminating our dependency on foreign oil. This would have the dual benefit of improving our own economy while reducing the economic strength of petro-dictatorships, some of which sponsor terrorism. Third, shifting to clean renewable energy will reduce our carbon emissions. We need to do more on the climate change front, but it’s a good start. Finally, a smart grid would essentially be a new nationwide market for energy. Even though many Republicans are in the pocket of big oil, they are also big believers in free markets and individual responsibility, so maybe smart grid legislation can be passed in a bipartisan way rather than over the Republican’s wishes.

There seems to be a lot of indication already that energy is Obama’s top priority after an economic stimulus package, so maybe he doesn’t need to hear it from me. But that doesn’t change the fact that the soon-to-be President is continuing to embrace to concepts of Politics 2.0 in an effort to bring Americans together to solve our toughest challenges. Here’s hoping he keeps it up long after “elect” is dropped from his title.

Election Predictions

Is it to early to start making predictions about 2010, 2012 and beyond yet? Probably, but I’ve got a few thoughts anyway.

First, if Obama runs his presidency like he ran his candidacy, he’ll be a great president and will win reelection in a cakewalk. Obviously, there are huge challenges ahead, but I have faith his administration will be able to handle them.

Second, assuming prediction #1 pans out, we’ll see another wide open race in 2016. I’m a big Joe Biden fan, but he’ll be 74 in 2016 – two years older than McCain is now. No way he runs. Hillary Clinton will 69 so I don’t see her running either. Well, maybe they run but I doubt they’d win the nomination. I’m guessing the Democratic nominee in 2016 will be someone who’s not top of mind today – someone who emerges in the next two or four years as “the next Obama”.

Third, we haven’t seen the last of Sarah Palin. I’ve been extremely critical of her, but my libertarian friend recommended I not underestimate her. So I won’t. I think she’ll be the Republican nominee for president in 2016. I know folks are talking about her for 2012, but I think she’d rather take her chances in a wide open race in 2016 than go up against Obama a second time. She’s only 44 now, so she’ll be 52 in 2016 – about perfect for a presidential candidate. Eight years is a long time for her to close the unqualified gap.

In fact, I’d say Ted Stevens apparent reelection is a likely silver lining in otherwise crappy election for the Republicans. Ted Stevens was found guilty on felony corruption charges and faces expulsion from the senate, regardless of his apparent victory yesterday. If he is expelled, there would be a special election to decide his successor. You have to assume Mark Begich, Stevens’ Democratic challenger, would handily win that special election. But what if Palin ran against Begich? She’s taken a hit it her approval ratings since joining the VP ticket, but she’s still very popular in Alaska and probably liked best by Stevens’ supporters. I’m not saying it’s a shoo-in, but I believe she’d have a very good chance to win a special election.

Being a senator for eight years would be long enough to shore up the concerns about her qualifications but short enough not to have much of an attackable voting record. She’d have to win reelection in 2014, but given that Stevens has won seven elections in a row dating back to 1970, I’m guessing getting reelected in 2014 would be no problem.

So my predictions are a fairly easy Obama reelection in 2012, followed by Sen Palin (R) vs. “The Next Obama” (D) in 2016. Midterms in 2010 will probably see Dems give back some of their recent gains, but not enough to lose control of either house of Congress. 2014 is to far out to predict, much less who wins in 2016. But looking at voting trends among minorities, party ID advantages, etc, I like Democrats chances for the foreseeable future.

Finally, I wonder if this is the “end of identity politics” as some have suggested. One election is not a trend, so I tend to think that Obama was immune to such attacks more than those attacks no longer viable. We may need to wait until 2016 to find out. When Palin does run again, will she still be a pitbull with lipstick? I like to think identity politics is toast, but I’m guessing the Republicans will go back to that well a few more times before giving up on it. Democrats, on the other hand, have all the proof they need that they can win against identity politics: President-Elect Obama.

Yes We Can

What a difference four years makes. In 2004, I was up until the wee hours because Ohio wasn’t called until the following morning. This year, with Pennsylvania called at 8pm EST and Ohio about 90 minutes later, it was basically over before my kids finished their dinner. We were watching SNL on the DVR from last night when my Dad called to tell us the nets had called it for Obama.

As I write this, Obama has 349 electoral votes – 79 more than he needed to win – with three states still to be called. It looks like Obama will pick up North Carolina (ahead by 12,160 votes with 100% of precincts reporting). Montana looks to be going for McCain (he leads by 7,000 votes with 77% reporting) and Missouri looks like a true tossup, with McCain ahead by a scant 1,740 votes with 99% reporting. Assuming those leads hold up, that would give Obama 364 EVs to McCain’s 174 EVs. Compared to the last two elections, that’s a good solid win on par with Clinton’s win in 1992 (370-168) but nowhere near the ass-kickings by Regan in 1980 (489-49) or 1984 (525-13) or Bush 41 in 1988 (426-111).

(BTW, check out the electoral college map from Carter’s win in 1976. It looks like Bizarro’s electoral map. The south went all blue while California went red? Can you even conceive of that happening today?)

But even though it wasn’t 500 point blowout, consider that Obama flipped all the following red 2004 states to blue in 2008: Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and (probably) North Carolina. My parents are very excited to live in a blue state (VA) now. McCain on the other hand flipped none – goose egg – from blue to red. McCain’s only real hope was Pennsylvania and it wasn’t even close – Obama won PA by 9%.

I did like McCain’s concession speech. Obviously, with the president around 25% approval rating, the incumbent party is at a major disadvantage to start with. But of all the Republican candidates, McCain was the only one I was ever worried about. IMO, any of the other Republican possible nominees would have lost by a much worse margin. McCain was attractive to independents in a way no other Republican candidate this year was.

But in the end, McCain had the probably impossible job of pulling together the 25% of Americans who approve of Bush (politely called “the Republican base”, though I call them “wack-jobs”) with another 25% of Americans who don’t. Kinda like trying to push like charged magnets together, they just wouldn’t stick. To me, it seemed like McCain tacked hard right and prayed the independents would still support him. But as I watched McCain’s concession speech, it made me wonder if McCain could have won by running an honorable campaign, tacking to the center and hoping the conservatives would still support him. Maybe they would, maybe they wouldn’t, but he ended up running as a hate-mongering Rovian erratic demagogue and significantly damaged his personal brand. I can barely reconcile McCain from the stump with McCain from the concession speech. I’m guessing he’ll retire instead of running for reelection in two years.

(I’ve also got thoughts on Palin’s political future, but those will wait for another day.)

As for President-Elect Obama, I’m obviously excited than he won. Patrick made me promise to tell him who won in the morning (it wasn’t official until the west coast results came in after he went to bed). I’m going to show him Obama’s victory speech – it was amazing. I especially liked when he said “And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.” My libertarian friend who thought it would break for McCain today (way, way wrong dude) immediately went political, pointing out that the Democratic “trifecta” means they can’t shift the blame if things get worse. I’m guessing Obama will have to do quite a bit to earn my friend’s support but I’m hopeful that he can.

In other races I’m following, looks like Gov. Christine Gregoire will win reelection and Darcy Burner is leading in her race to unseat Rep. Reichert (though with only 21% reporting so it’s far from sure thing). In California, Prop 8 to ban gay marriage is currently leading but with only 51% reporting so I’m hoping that changes. (Amending the constitution in CA doesn’t require a super-majority? That sucks).

Finally, a quick shout out to my friends from New Zealand that I hung out with after the Opshop concert at the TechEd Attendee party back in September. They confided in me that “everyone in the world” was pulling for an Obama victory. Based on this Global Electoral College from the Economist magazine, “everyone in the world” is pretty close to spot on. Happy that my fellow Americans and I could deliver an Obama victory. Feels good, doesn’t it?

Election Day 2008

(Editor’s note: almost every time I make a political post, some yahoo, typically anonymously, suggests that I “stick to technology”. I will remind you, dear reader, that This Is Not A Technical Blog. If you don’t like my politics, you’re free to ignore the political posts or simply unsubscribe from my blog altogether. Anonymous suggestions as to what I should or should not be blogging about will be summarily ignored.)

Jules and I voted this morning, before work and school. Patrick helped Julie vote and Riley helped me vote. I’m assuming regular readers don’t need to be told who I voted for. Riley just wanted to help fill in the bubbles because it’s like coloring. Patrick kinda got what was going on – check out Jules’ post about how they cast “our” vote.

For shits and giggles, I went back and looked at my posts from two years ago. It doesn’t make me Nostradamus, but I did guess we were going to have “a very ugly race, especially from the Republicans” and that “the nomination race will be worse” than the general election. If Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow want to get in on this insightful political analysis, they know where to reach me. 😄

I’ve been obsessed with three polling sites over the past few months:

My wingnut libertarian friend (anyone from my kids’ playgroup who reads this blog can guess who I’m talking about) thinks McCain will win with “295-305” electoral votes. This election is far from being in the bag for Obama, but the suggestion that McCain will come from six or seven points down in the polls to win a 10-20 point bigger EV victory than Bush did four years ago seems like crazy talk. As for me, I’m not willing to make a firm prediction except to say that I think the polls are wrong – I’m just not sure in what direction they’re wrong.

On the one hand, if the polls are underestimating Obama’s support by excluding cell-phone only voters and Obama’s Get Out The Vote effort is as strong as it looks, that could net Obama as much as five or six points on top of the lead he’s already got and we’ll be looking at an epic landslide with Obama maybe brushing up against 400 EV. For example,’s 291 solid/lean Obama EV + 105 toss up EVs would be 396 total EVs for Obama.

On the other hand, if the polls are overestimating Obama’s support due to the Bradley Effect, the undecideds break for decisively for McCain and Obama’s GOTV effort doesn’t materialize, McCain’s might net those five or six points and turn this into a toss-up squeaker decided by less than 35 EV (about the size of Bush’s victory in 2004). For example, if McCain wins all of’s tossups + the lean Obama states, it’s a scant 8 EV Obama victory (273-265). If McCain could also pick off any of New Mexico, Colorado, Iowa or Pennsylvania in that scenario, then he would win by anywhere from 2-34 EVs.

Of course, those effects could cancel out and leave us where we are right now, Obama with a six to seven point PV and low 100s EV victory. Frankly, I’ll be happy to be wrong about the poll inaccuracy since that would give Obama the presidency.

How do you think things are going to play out today?