Friday, October 31, 2008

Victor Davis Hanson believes that the media's extraordinary pro-Obama bias in covering this campaign marks the end of journalism as we know it.

James Carville says McCain will lose, and it isn't his campaign staff that is to blame.

Here is a prediction about the election. Take note of the Senate analysis, which closely tracks my own thinking on what will happen.

Is there a silver lining to an Obama victory?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Is there hope for John McCain? Dick Morris and Eileen McGann believe it is still possible for McCain to win.

Of course, there is still the possibility that unconscious bias will play a role in denying Obama a victory.

In Congress, the Democrats are planning on an Obama victory, and factions inside the party are maneuvering to gain the upper hand in directing the legislative path of the new administration.

An Obama victory would truly be a historic one, but for more reasons than just the fact that he would be the first African-American President. An Obama Administration, coupled with a Congress controlled by Liberal Democrats, would mark a radical sea change in American history. We would head down the path of European-style soft socialism, at least according to this argument by Daniel Henninger of The Wall Street Journal. I wonder, though, if the European analogy is the right one. While I agree with Henninger that the "Progressive" wing of the Democratic Party would like to see us adopt European-style social welfare programs and economic regulation, I also think the American people will reject that path and repudiate the people who try to take us down that path at the next opportunity. I believe Obama understands this, and will soon disappoint the more Liberal members of his party when he governs more from the center.

No matter what happens, I tend to agree with Robert Kagan, who says that America is not in decline, and that Obama and McCain both correctly reject that argument.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska is now a convicted felon. I find it hard to believe that the voters will reward him with a victory next Tuesday, but stranger things have been known to happen.

Mona Charen thinks American Jews planning to vote for Barack Obama should consider Obama's past associations before making their choice. Amir Taheri explains why so many Arabs are rooting for an Obama victory.

A couple of white supremacist morons are accused of a plot to assassinate Barack Obama.

Blogger and columnist Dean Barnett has died. Bill Kristol remembers him fondly.

Investors are fleeing from the change offered by Obama. On the other hand, George Will finds a silver lining in all the bad economic news.

David Brooks explains why some social scientists are finally coming to grips with something many of us figured out without any special training, which is that human beings believe what they want to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary and despite the sometimes disastrous consequences of hewing to their misperceptions.

With the RealClearPolitics Electoral Map still showing the way to an Obama victory (even if McCain can eke out victories in North Carolina and Florida, it still looks like he will lose Virginia, Colorado and Ohio), Pat Buchanan speculates on what Obama's first hundred days as President will look like.

Anne Applebaum explains why she won't vote for McCain, even though she wishes he had won the GOP nomination and election in 2000.

Finally, check out this piece from The Weekly Standard about Obama, McCain, American Exceptionalism, and the ability to recognize evil and fight it, when necessary.

Monday, October 27, 2008

One long-time journalist, who comes from a family of journalists, has had enough, and is willing to write about the almost unbelievable bias in today's media coverage of the U.S. presidential election.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those people who think the media has been too hard on, say, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin, by rushing reportorial SWAT teams to her home state of Alaska to rifle through her garbage. This is the big leagues, and if she wants to suit up and take the field, then Gov. Palin better be ready to play.

The few instances where I think the press has gone too far -- such as the Times reporter talking to prospective first lady Cindy McCain's daughter's MySpace friends -- can easily be solved with a few newsroom smackdowns and temporary repostings to the Omaha bureau.

No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side -- or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del.

If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as president of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography.

That isn't Sen. Obama's fault: His job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media's fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so.

Read the whole thing.

Andrew McCarthy cites an instance, and a media outlet, which makes the point rather nicely.

In West Virginia, there are doubts about Obama, and across the nation folks are buying more guns than usual.

At least one political analyst thinks there is evidence for a McCain surge on election day, with undecided voters breaking his way.

Bill Kristol likens these last days of the campaign with the First Battle of the Marne in 1914.

An economist who has been proven right by recent events fears that the worst is yet to come.

Another economist believes the age of prosperity is over.

Could it be even worse for Europe?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Can an innovation that originated within Major League Baseball help our health care system? These guys seem to think so.

Charles Krauthammer makes the case for John McCain.

Even though the most accurate pollster from the 2004 election is showing McCain closing the gap, with 44.8% for Obama to 43.7% for McCain in their daily tracking poll, the RealClearPolitics Electoral Map, which is based on state-by-state polling, shows Obama increasing his lead as Ohio has now dropped into the "Leaning Obama" category. Until I begin to see the state polls in "Toss-up" or "Leaning Obama" states begin to move toward McCain, I can only conclude that Obama will win. If he does not, then this election will be a Waterloo for political pollsters.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is American power a grand illusion? I hope not, because the world will be a far more dangerous place if Americans withdraw from their position of world power and leadership.

Are we about to see a grand realignment in American politics? I hope not, as the American economy will be hobbled by the tax, spend and regulate policies of a Democratic majority in Congress allied with a Democrat in the White House.

The Mayor of London believes Barack Obama should be the next President of the United States.

But, is Obama a transformational figure?

Monday, October 20, 2008

With only a couple of weeks to go before the election, and with Colin Powell having come out and endorsed the new messiah...I mean, er, Barack Obama...let's see where we are headed.

We appear to be headed for a Barack Obama victory, even though the polls are starting to tighten up, as the RealClearPolitics Electoral Map shows. It is also likely that we will see the Democrats make significant gains in the Senate, as shown in this analysis, which mirrors my own thinking on the subject.

Fareed Zakaria makes the case for Barack Obama, and Jonathan Alter says the country is heading leftward in general.

James Carroll says Obama has shown courage and wisdom in an age of fear.

On the other hand, Stanley Kurtz points out Obama's troubling associations with radicals, and Ralph Peters lists all the ways Obama could be worse than Carter in dealing with our foreign adversaries.

Perhaps it will all turn out differently. Perhaps John McCain, so often counted out, will get up from the mat once again and slug his way to victory. Since I honestly believe that an Obama presidency will be at least as disastrous as the Carter Administration, and probably much worse, I can only hope that the American people will show some sense and not give the Democrats control over the whole operation.

Friday, October 17, 2008

No more posts on the stock market, as it is clear to me now that anything I write will be old news only minutes after I write it.

I will, however, continue to comment on the election. Check out this piece in The Wall Street Journal about the possibility of a Democratic super majority, and what that might mean for America.

John DiStaso write about the latest in New Hampshire politics for The Union Leader. Today's column points out that New Hampshire is likely to be very close on election night.

Taking a look at the latest RealClearPolitics Electoral Map, things still look good for Obama. But keep in mind that Obama was leading the polls comfortably here in New Hampshire just before our primary, and he lost. I know Obama is keeping it in mind, as he mentioned it during a speech yesterday. Obama is ahead because he is now leading in several states that George W. Bush won twice (North Carolina, Ohio, Nevada, Indiana, Missouri, Florida, Colorado and Virginia), while McCain is not leading in any of the states won by John Kerry in 2004. Are the polls reliable? As we get closer to actually pulling the lever or marking the ballot, will some people who say publicly that they are going to vote for Obama decide not to, as clearly happened here in New Hampshire during our primary? No one knows, and we won't know until the votes are counted. Right now, I still predict a Democratic landslide (driven by larger than normal turnout for Democratic constituencies and the fact that independents will break their way), but the tax issue could still weigh heavily on the minds of some voters, causing them to recoil from giving the Democrats total control.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Well, my prediction of a market jump on Tuesday was not only wrong, it was "dead cat bounce" wrong, as the markets plunged yesterday. The drop, it seems to me, was based on the very real numbers that continue to show us headed into a recession, probably a deep one.

So, after last night's debate, does John McCain have any chance to win? Dick Morris and Eileen McGan think so, and they base their opinion on "Joe the Plumber".

The continued invocation of Joe the Plumber brought a populist edge to the tax issue that it has lacked since Ronald Reagan.

Strategically, every debate is a chance to ratify the issues that will dominate the weeks that follow. McCain and Obama both made taxes and spending the key issues of the future. With Obama opposing a spending freeze and billing it as a hatchet as opposed to a scalpel, McCain was able to push the Democrat into an uncomfortable position.

McCain has now established the tax issue in a way he has not been able to do so far in the contest. Now he can widen the gap between the campaigns on this key issue. If the Republicans concentrate their campaign on the key issue of taxes and abandon the other lines of attack, they can use the lines developed in this debate to do better and better as Election Day nears.

I agree. The GOP's only hope is to raise the specter of "tax and spend" Democrats controlling all the branches of government and using their power to socialize our economy. This will fire up the base and might bring some of the small government independents over to their side. Will it be enough? I hope so, but I am not optimistic. What, then, to expect if McCain loses?

Mona Charen examines the consequences of an Obama/Pelosi/Reid regime.

One Democrat celebrates the thought of a political realignment and a new "New Deal".

On the other side, an advisor to Ron Paul's campaign calls on us to not blame capitalism for our recent woes, rather to see the culprit as a meddlesome government.

The New York Times has assembled four op-ed pieces from Europe, examining how the financial crisis has impacted people in Iceland, Ireland, England and Germany. They all make good reading.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Expect the stock market to surge again today as the President and his economic team announces today a plan, coordinated with similar actions in Europe, to buy equity stakes in some of the nation's largest banks. The plan also includes an expansion of government insurance, all in an effort to break the logjam in the credit markets. It appears to be a bold, but not unprecedented, nationalization plan. While it may be temporary, and I hope and expect it will loosen the credit markets, I am a little concerned about the consequences.

One positive political consequence, if the markets continue to recover, is that it may blunt the momentum built up over the last week by Barack Obama and the Democrats. But, as of right now, that momentum shows no signs of slowing, as indicated by the RealClearPolitics Electoral Map, which now puts Colorado and Florida in the Obama column, just a day after Virginia moved Obama's way. This polling data has led to some op-ed speculation about just where we are headed.

David Brooks says we are headed for a new era of Big Government.

Jesse Jackson, in this interview with columnist Amir Taheri, says we can expect a new foreign policy, less influenced by the Israelis.

Former Clinton adviser Mark Penn says we can expect all sorts of social and economic changes due to the financial mess and the resultant political fallout.

Fred Barnes paints a worst case scenario.

Christopher Hitchens says recent events have led him to conclude that John McCain doesn't have the character or temperament to be President and that Sarah Palin is simply a disgrace.

I disagree with Mr. Hitchens (although I still credit him with being one of the few political Liberals to be right about the character deficiencies of Bill Clinton), but it doesn't matter. I have only one hope left, which is that McCain can make up enough ground in these last couple of weeks to prevent a filibuster proof Democratic majority in the Senate. If the stock market can continue to rally, that may be enough. If not, then the Barnes scenario will come to pass and Peter Canellos may have it right in this piece...

The "New Deal coalition" that dominated American politics from Franklin Roosevelt's election in 1932 until Ronald Reagan's in 1980 was the high-point of Democratic rule. Roosevelt governed with large Democratic majorities in Congress; John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Jimmy Carter also worked with Congresses heavily weighted to the Democratic side.

But the New Deal coalition wasn't purely liberal. Southern Democrats provided the decisive margins in the House and the Senate, and most were unabashed conservatives. In fact, only during the height of the Depression and the tiny window between 1964 and 1966 were Democratic majorities large enough for liberalism to reign unfettered.

Now, with just three weeks until the 2008 election, Democrats are beginning to see the outlines of a majority more potent than those of the New Deal era, because it wouldn't require the support of Southern conservatives. They're Republicans now, and the Democrats running for their seats are more liberal.

A powerful, liberal government in Washington that doesn't need any conservative support. I guess the era of bipartisan politics will have to wait, again.

Monday, October 13, 2008

As Her Majesty's Government in the U.K. moves to take control of the Royal Bank of Scotland, officials in Washington are pondering similar actions that would allow the U.S. Government to take ownership stakes in major banks. This is all part of a process called "recapitalization" which, in layman's terms, means pouring cash into lending institutions so that they can resume the business of lending. The hope is that this will alleviate the problem created by the collapse in the U.S. housing market. But, as Robert J. Samuelson points out, there is more to the story than just a lot of bad mortgages on the books of so many financial institutions.

What we've discovered is that the real problem is bigger. Large parts of the financial system are too thinly capitalized and too dependent on unreliable short-term debt. Leverage ratios often reached 30 to 1 for investment banks and hedge funds (that is, $30 of debt for every $1 of capital). The presumption was that the MBA types had learned how to "manage risk." That false conceit backfired. Low capital didn't adequately protect against losses. Confidence and trust evaporated, because no one knew which institutions held suspect securities, how much the losses were and who was ultimately safe.

Deleveraging -- a shift from excessive debt toward more capital -- is inevitable and desirable in the long run. The trouble is that, in the short run, it could destabilize the economy if it proceeds too rapidly.

Read the whole thing.

CNBC's Charles Gasparino has another concern in this piece in The New York Post, that the market is already factoring in an Obama Administration that will raise taxes. There is already evidence for that supposition in the latest word coming from the Democratic leadership in Congress.

Meanwhile, the latest RealClearPolitics Electoral Map shows Obama over the top as Virginia is now in the Leaning Obama category. McCain's campaign is in trouble, with Conservative columnist Bill Kristol calling on him to fire his campaign. According to this story, McCain hopes to "reset" his campaign with a new speech. I think it is too late. Why? Since the Republican Party is perceived as the party of Wall Street, and the excesses of Wall Street have led us to a financial crisis which imperils the jobs, livelihoods and life savings of all Americans, and since the American people cannot directly vote to fire the people on Wall Street who caused the mess, they are left with only one the Republicans.

This, of course, will have consequences. A Liberal Democrat in the Oval Office, combined with Liberal Democrats running both the House and the Senate will mean all sorts of changes. More government spending, more taxes (although at first they will try to limit those tax increases to "the rich") and, according to Michael Barone, less free speech.

The good news? The wheel keeps turning. As we have seen before, the party holding total power will overreach, causing a backlash by voters (which is one of the reasons why the party holding the White House almost always loses seats in the off-year election). Power in Washington will go back into balance eventually, but the damage that will be done is, of course, unknowable at this time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

As world leaders consider a global approach to dealing with the financial crisis, more than a few people are wondering about the consequences of these events, which will extend far beyond the immediate economic problems that are being created.

Does the crisis mean the end of the current Western-dominated economic order?

Is it the end of American-style capitalism?

Will it mark a return to old-fashioned protectionism?

Will it result in a political realignment here in the United States?

No one really knows the answers, of course, but opinions abound. Here are mine:

1. I believe the Democrats will make significant gains in the election, but it will not mark a political realignment, unless the real economy drops into a long, deep recession. If the Democrats follow up their big wins in 2008 with more wins in 2010, then we'll know if a realignment is happening.

2. Protectionism is on the way, you can take it to the bank (or stuff it in the mattress). There was already a strong current opposed to the dislocations caused by globalization. Add to that a sharp economic downturn, and you get protectionism which, of course, will only make things worse.

3. As for the end of American-style capitalism, and the end of a Western-dominated economic order, don't count on that...not yet, at least. I still believe our political and economic systems are the best for creating wealth, despite the periodic panics and crashes that plague the system. We're down, but don't count us out.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Yet another move to try and loosen up credit markets, as the U.S. may take an ownership stake in banks. This is just another effort by government officials, here and abroad, to avoid The Great Depression II. Two economists, writing in The Washington Post, says that these efforts will work.

In the 1930s, nobody in the private sector could borrow, raise equity or sell insurance because everyone lost trust in everyone else. Uncle Sam stood on the sidelines and marveled at the chaos. But today Uncle Sam is saying, "Listen, if you households and firms are too scared to invest in each other or sell each other insurance, give us your money, and we'll do it for you. We'll pay you a sure return on the Treasuries and, if our investments and insurance sales do well, you'll benefit by paying lower taxes."

This may sound like socialism or state capitalism, but it's simply rearranging the financial furniture. As Americans have freaked out, Uncle Sam has stepped up. He'll continue doing so until we realize the sky is not falling. The $700 billion rescue authorizes the federal government to keep doing what it has been doing for the past year to the tune of $400 billion -- buying distressed assets at bargain-basement prices and selling insurance at high premiums. If all works out, Uncle Sam will make a killing. This would be great, given our government's real problem -- paying the long-term Social Security and medical costs of retiring baby boomers.

Read the whole thing. I hope they are right.

Politically, the crisis has just about killed any chance for the Republicans when the nation goes to the polls less than a month from now. New data shows, according to this story, that the GOP is losing ground in Senate and House races.

Hugh Hewitt sees a real downside to an Obama Administration coupled with a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress.

The argument about the disastrous economic policies being pushed by Obama must be made by McCain every day going forward even as the campaign continues to hammer Obama for his past judgment and future inclinations when it comes to allies and associates. Ayers-Rezko-Wright-Khalidi are part of a pattern that would certainly follow into the staffing of trhe vast federal establishment. The Daily Kos-Michael Moore wing of the Democratic Party wants its pages from the Plum Book, and the Pelosi-Reid staffers have all got their Assistant Secretary offices picked out. The Left is planning for a huge sweep, and a big party, and...Then what?

Obama-Pelosi-Reid will not be able to resist the massive tax hikes that have lurked behind their every scheme for the past 28 years since Reagan wrested the government from the last group of statists. The unions have wanted protectionism since Bill Clinton signed on to NAFTA. The environmentalists want the sort of global warming regime that will not merely curb but positively punish economic growth, and the anti-nuclear reflex within the Democratic Party is so deep that while Obama can make a few noises about the need for new nuke plants, none would begin under his tenure. Obama said last night that we need new oil exploration off-shore. Does anyone really believe that will happen? Energy shortages would go from a predictament to a policy overnight.

Scary thoughts.

George Will sees an Obama blowout on the horizon.

And, just when you think the news couldn't get any worse, a new study says we are losing the war in Afghanistan. It's a good thing General Petraeus is now running that show as well as Iraq, and a good thing that even Obama is committed to staying the course there.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


With only a few more weeks until election day, I thought I might take another look at the Senate races. When I first looked at the races early this year I calculated that there were 11 vulnerable Republican seats and 2 vulnerable Democratic seats. The only two Democrats in trouble at that time seemed to be Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Well, times have changed, and not in the GOP's favor, as I now find zero vulnerable Democratic seats and 13 vulnerable Republicans. Why?

Mary Landrieu is ahead by 13 points in the most recent poll against her challenger, Republican John Kennedy. If the national polls continue to move toward Obama, and if we see the much larger than normal African-American turnout and new Democratic voters, it should be more than enough for Landrieu.

Tim Johnson is even farther ahead of his opponents in South Dakota.

So, expect no losses for Senate Democrats. Meanwhile, in addition to the 11 vulnerable Senate Republicans I saw early this year (Stevens-AK, open-CO, open-ID, Collins-ME, Wicker-MS, Coleman-MN, Sununu-NH, open-NM, Smith-OR, Cornyn-TX, open-VA) we can now add McConnell of Kentucky and Dole of North Carolina to the list. What does it look like for the now 13 vulnerable GOP seats?

Alaska - Democrat Mark Begich is ahead of incumbent Republican Senator Ted Stevens as Stevens continues to face a public corruption scandal. Alaska, however, is a pretty reliable Republican state, and the top of the ticket for the GOP now, of course, features a favorite daughter in Sarah Palin. Still, I expect this to be a loss, as I did earlier this year.

Colorado - Democrat Mark Udall is ahead of Republican Bob Schaffer. Colorado is trending Democratic, and I expect it will be an Obama state. This is a loss.

Idaho - Republican Lt. Gov. Jim Risch is up big over Democrat Larry LaRocco. Idaho is about as red as a Red State can get. This is a hold.

Kentucky - Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is ahead of Democrat Bruce Lunsford. But it has gotten pretty close. Still, I expect the state to vote for McCain, and McConnell. This is a hold.

Maine - Republican Senator Susan Collins is well ahead of Democrat Tom Allen. Despite the fact that I think Maine will go for Obama, Collins should win. This is a hold.

Minnesota - Republican Senator Norm Coleman finds himself in a tight race with Democrat Al Franken. This is a solid Obama state. The anti-incumbent, anti-establishment, anti-Republican mood in a state with a history of populism will, in my opinion, lead to Coleman's demise. This is a loss (Senator Al Franken...I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous. But, he wouldn't be the first clown to stalk the halls of Congress).

Mississippi - Republican Roger Wicker is in a tight race with Democrat Ronnie Musgrove. This is a tough one. Mississippi is a reliable Red State when it comes to picking a President, but there are signs that the Democrats are gaining some ground. There are a lot of African-American voters in Mississippi who will be voting for Obama, and will no doubt vote for Musgrove. I'm going to call it a hold, but just barely.

New Hampshire - Incumbent Republican John Sununu is trailing former Democratic Governor Jeanne Shaheen. Sununu beat Shaheen for the seat back in '02, but not by a lot. New Hampshire continues to trend Democratic. Obama will probably win the state, but McCain is popular here and could still pull it out. Still, Sununu is tied to George W. Bush more than he is to John McCain, and Bush is very unpopular here. This is a loss.

New Mexico - Democrat Tom Udall is up big over Republican Steve Pearce. This is a loss.

North Carolina - Incumbent Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole is trailing Democrat Kay Hagan. North Carolina is also one of the few Southern states that is leaning toward Obama. If that is the case on election day, then call it a loss.

Oregon - Incumbent Republican Gordon Smith is in a virtual tie with Democrat Jeff Merkley. Oregon is a Blue State and will vote for Obama. This is a loss.

Texas - Incumbent Republican John Cornyn has a solid lead over Richard Noriega, but not an overwhelming lead. Still, I expect Texas will vote for McCain, so call this a hold.

Virginia - Former Governor Mark Warner, the Democrat, is up big over former Governor Jim Gilmore, the Republican. Expect a Warner to replace a Warner, even though the Democrat is not related to the retiring Republican. This is a loss.

So, at this moment, I expect the Republicans to lose 8 seats, which will change the Senate composition from 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans and 2 Independents (who caucus with the Democrats, thus giving them the majority) to 57 Democrats, 41 Republicans and 2 Independents, although one of the Independents, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, may choose to caucus with the Republicans, as he will be stripped of any power and privileges by the Democratic majority.

The bottom line? A solid Democratic Senate majority, but not veto or filibuster proof.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The financial crisis has spread to Europe, where it will probably be more difficult to deal with since, unlike the U.S., their political union is not as comprehensive as their economic union. We've already seen some European governments take steps that are not helpful to their neighbors.

Robert J. Samuelson asks whether or not it is 1929 again. He concludes that it is not, primarily because it was the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Government, through action and inaction, that made what should have been a recession into the Great Depression. It seem that, so far at least, the U.S. Government and the Federal Reserve are reacting helpfully (although we won't really know until later on whether what they have done is helpful or harmful).

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Now, we wait. Will the $700 billion bailout loosen up the credit markets? Does it matter, if the economy continues to grind to a halt, as recent news seems to indicate? What is the political fallout going to be?

Michael Barone says recent events are just the latest chapter in a year of campaign chaos.

Bill Kristol says that while McCain-Palin are behind, they can still catch up.

But how? The latest RealClearPolitics Electoral Map shows the Obama-Biden ticket only six Electoral Votes aways from victory, if the polling data is at all accurate. People vote with their guts as much as with their heads. The crisis on Wall Street is incomprehensible to most people, so they fall back on their prejudices, which means that the Republican Party is the party of Wall Street, the greedy bankers and hedge fund managers and the other rich folks in Manhattan robbed the people blind and then left us to hold the bag, therefore, the GOP is to blame. They will not be convinced by the alternative explanation, which is that the Democrats in Congress passed laws that sought to increase the level of home ownership in America and that to do so, the standards for making loans were relaxed. Lenders happily joined the party because it seemed that real estate prices would continue going up, so the fact that they were making loans to people who wouldn't have qualified under prior conditions didn't seem to matter. Then, when the bubble burst, they were left holding all these bad loans.

Why doesn't this explanation work? Because the average American will not be convinced that the people who wanted to own a home shouldn't have been given that opportunity. Home ownership is "good". Bankers, speculators and financiers are "bad". People who had bad credit and were given a loan anyway are "victims". The people who gave them the loans are "predators". All the Democrats need to do is to hammer away at this theme, and they will win in a landslide.

Meanwhile, Russia continues it's bid to control Caspian oil, and the West cannot come up with a coherent policy to deal with Moscow's aggressive policies.

Finally, justice finds O.J. Simpson, 13 years too late.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Lots of reaction to last night's debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, mostly positive.

David Brooks says Palin rebounded nicely from her disastrous one-on-one interviews.

Peggy Noonan agrees, and hits on the reasons why.

She killed. She had him at "Nice to meet you. Hey, can I call you Joe?" She was the star. He was the second male lead, the good-natured best friend of the leading man. She was not petrified but peppy.

The whole debate was about Sarah Palin. She is not a person of thought but of action. Interviews are about thinking, about reflecting, marshaling data and integrating it into an answer. Debates are more active, more propelled—they are thrust and parry. They are for campaigners. She is a campaigner. Her syntax did not hold, but her magnetism did. At one point she literally winked at the nation.

Noonan is right on. Politics is as much about style as substance, in my view, which is why a man with "a second-rate intellect, but a first-class temperament", as was said once about FDR, can be a great leader. Perhaps Sarah Palin can be a great leader, and perhaps not. But to do it she needs the kind of temperament and style that allows her to connect with her constituents, and she has that in spades.

Of course, the cool temperament and suave speaking style that defines Barack Obama is also combined, in him, with a first-class intellect. That saves him from his own inexperience, as Charles Krauthammer points out in this piece, and may lead him to win the election.

Of course, Obama is also aloof, at least according to the British Ambassador.

Fred Barnes also believes Palin started a comeback last night, and Bill Kristol believes if the House Republicans now help to pass a financial bailout plan, it might get McCain-Palin going in the right direction.