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Candidates Face Three Critical Weeks

By Dan Balz
Barack Obama returns to action Saturday after a week's vacation for a joint appearance with John McCain at the Saddleback Church in California. Obama's reappearance on the campaign trail signals the beginning of three of the most critical weeks of the general election.

In the modern era, there has never been quite as concentrated a dose of potentially campaign-altering events as the coming three weeks could produce. By the end of that period, Obama and McCain will have announced their vice presidential running mates, staged four-day infomercials for their candidacies and delivered what are likely to be the single most important speeches of the general election.

For those who revel in the unpredictability of politics, this calendar is ready-made for enjoyment. The cascading events will heighten the cost of mistakes, affect the post-convention bounce for Obama and perhaps McCain, supercharge the traditional Labor Day opening of the fall campaign and raise the stakes on the two presidential nominees not to misuse their conventions, as John Kerry did four years ago.

Normally these events have stretched over six weeks or more and generally have taken place much earlier in the summer. Voters have had time to fully digest each one before the next has occurred. That changed this year because the Democratic and Republican parties decided to hold their conventions back-to-back, and later than ever before. It also changed because, despite much speculation to the contrary, Obama and McCain have waited until just before the conventions to name their vice presidents.

The competitiveness of the Obama-McCain contest now argues for safe vice presidential choices. Neither is in a position to risk -- nor does either need -- a running mate whose selection dramatically changes perceptions of their candidacies.

The "first, do no harm" rule is especially important for Obama, given the question marks he is still dealing with. But it is similarly significant for McCain, whose still-tenuous relationship with his party's conservative base may check his instincts to use his pick to send a message to swing voters that he is not a George W. Bush Republican. Some Republicans believe he will send that message with his acceptance speech, rather than his vice presidential pick.

As if to test how much leeway he has in picking a running mate, McCain gave an interview to the Weekly Standard in which he floated out the idea of choosing someone who favors abortion rights, someone like former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge. The reaction from social conservatives has been highly negative.

Mike Huckabee then went out and trashed the idea of putting Mitt Romney, who is widely seen as a prospective running mate, on the ticket, given what Huckabee said were his "inconsistencies" on social issues, adding to McCain's woes.

What impact all that will have on McCain, who does not appreciate being told what to do, isn't clear. But the potential for a backlash against his choice must be weighing on the presumptive nominee and his advisers, as they get ready for their final deliberations about the choice.

Obama and McCain each have convention narratives that will require deft management. For Obama, it is the inevitable drama with Hillary and Bill Clinton. Both camps suggest that everything is on track for a harmonious week in Denver even as they continue to negotiate the mechanics of having Clinton's name put in nomination. One of the latest elements of the roll-call vote under discussion is to have Clinton's home state delegation from New York put Obama over the top as a gesture of unity.

Perhaps all that will work out as the organizers hope. Still, there are at least a few veterans who understand the unpredictable dynamics of a convention floor. They worry that the plan to put Clinton's name in nomination could spin in directions neither Clinton nor Obama anticipates. Their view is that with as many delegates as Clinton will have in Denver, that moment could produce spontaneous emotions that will retard rather than accelerate the process of unifying the party.

McCain's narrative presents even trickier management. Can he simultaneously lock down the base and send signals to the independents he desperately needs to win in November that he's different? Can he embrace parts of Bush's presidency and reject others and do so with a consistency and conviction that will resonate with those voters?

Finally there is what the first President Bush called, dismissively, "the vision thing." Will either Obama or McCain demonstrate with their acceptance speeches that they have it? So far they have fallen short on that front.

There's no question that Obama has been an inspiring candidate. The grassroots energy that his campaign has produced is testament to that. By moving his acceptance speech from the smaller, indoor Pepsi Center to gigantic, outdoor Invesco Field, he will shine another spotlight on that part of his candidacy.

But he has a lot more to accomplish in Denver. Obama's rhetorical gifts are obvious, but what he needs is a convention speech that is not just inspirational. His governing agenda is ambitious but sprawling and needs sharper focus. He is still looking for a more authoritative voice on the economy. He also may want to use the speech to confront the issue of race even more directly than he has.

McCain is rarely at his best with the kind of big, set-piece speeches that he will be asked to deliver in St. Paul. So the first requirement is to find a way to take the eloquence of the words penned by his alter ego Mark Salter and lift them off the page and beyond the Xcel Energy Center. Beyond that, there is the question of what kind of America he sees ahead. Can he authentically describe where he wants to take the country?

The presidential campaign has produced a three-week moment fully worthy of what this new, 24/7 media age demands -- a stretch of days that will generate a non-stop string of words, images, commentary and speculation. Three weeks from today, it will all be over, and the sprint to November will be underway, leaving the candidates to wonder whether they were as fully ready for what just transpired as they should have been.

By Web Politics Editor  |  August 15, 2008; 1:12 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Dan Balz's Take , John McCain  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Democrats Attack McCain for his Association with Ralph Reed
Next: Christian PAC Ad Emphasizes Obama's Faith and Family


I think everyone will be very suprised come election day ---John McCain will win. It's going to happen, folks. And I'm voting for Obama

Posted by: Meister | August 17, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Folks, ignore the DianneBOT. Its mutterings can be summarized as:

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Posted by: Fairlington Blade | August 17, 2008 12:11 AM | Report abuse

I find it amazing that most posts to this article act as if BO has already won the election... somebody already stated that BO has already clinched "CA,NY, and IL"... wow! He already clinched the three most populated Democrat states that would vote for Adolph Hitler if he were running as a Democrat... what an accomplishment! Check out the RCP state polls, the states that matter, MI, MN, FL, OH...etc. are all well within the margin of error... funny though, BO has thouroughly outraised JM, yet his national lead is only 3%, and he can't seem to close the deal.

Posted by: Scott | August 16, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Barack Obama will be fine. He is rested, prepared, and extraordinarily organized. If the DNC can keep a lid on the Clintons and followers, this convention will be a real showcase.

McCain on the other hand, well, it should be very interesting. Green background, anyone?

Posted by: Susan | August 16, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I hope the Republican convention surprises everyone by keeping the negativity at a minimum.

Posted by: Kristen | August 16, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

The media will continue to blather on about the coming election, but there is a lot of quiet structural activity in the Obama camp that will make a difference in November that isn't getting much attention at the moment.

The real action is taking place on the ground, where Obama just outraised McCain $51 million to $27 million, and did it with a much smaller per-donor ratio. McCain is getting his money in big chunks from the usual fat cats, while Obama is raising tons of money in tiny doses. That translates into real votes. The Obama team is also getting millions of new voters registered and threatening to make inroads in areas that were previously considered safe Republican territory.

It's also worth noting that Obama begins the election with three of the largest electoral prizes in the bag-- California, New York, and Illinois. That puts McCain in a deep hole (107 electoral votes) at the start of the race. Add in the fact that youth and minority voters are likely to show up in huge numbers, plus the reality that McCain doesn't even enjoy broad support in his own party, he is identified with the extremely unpopular Bush, we're in a bad war, the price of gas is pushing $5 a gallon, and the probable result is that Barack Obama is the next President. McCain could win, but it requires a creative imagination to come up with a scenario where he is victorious.

Posted by: Gizmo | August 16, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Anonymous - I'd pass it onto a thinking American if it actually came from a thinking American.


Posted by: Fairlington Blade | August 16, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

While McCain was on top of Georgian/Russian events this week, Obama was doing the hula and eating shaved ice.

McCain and Romney have the gravitas to take America's foreign policy and economic challenges by the jugular to keep us a strong and prosperous nation.

Mac & Mitt - a powerful fit.

Posted by: 2thePoint | August 16, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Yo, Anonymous -- I was going to just ignore you the way most smart people have but..... I see your same gibberish posted on different articles that I read ..... give it up, bud, it sounds like rantings and is convincing noone.

Posted by: MM | August 16, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Three most critical weeks of the campaign? Bit of hyperbole, don't you think? While these few weeks will be critically important, undoubtedly the most important period of the contest will occur starting 10/1, when the election is likely to be neck-and-neck, with all campaigning coming at fever pitch. This one is likely to build, not peek in early September.

Also, Mr. Balz might want to elaborate on how Kerry "misused" the 2004 convention. Seems to me he came out with a bounce, and it was only after the neocons swift-boated him that his numbers fell like a rock.

Posted by: fredlevy | August 16, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

McCain is like a Grumpy Elephant with no vision and a flip flopping memory! There is a reason this Elephant is silent on Jerome Corsi. His trainers are Rove & Schmidt at the circus! We know what to expect at the McCain's convention a Grumpy Elephant entwining his trunk with 2 Rogue elephants in Bush/Cheney with two cheering trainers in Rove & Schmidt who are trying to sell the American People a 3 rd George Bush Term.

Posted by: RFK | August 16, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

"Their view is that with as many delegates as Clinton will have in Denver, that moment could produce spontaneous emotions that will retard rather than accelerate the process of unifying the party."

Was "RETARD", their view, or your words, or were their words unfit to print? Is "spontaeous emotions" code for crazies?

"Three weeks from today, it will all be over, and the sprint to November will be underway, leaving the candidates to wonder whether they were as fully ready for what just transpired as they should have been."

"should" implies that you know what they need to be doing, or who you talk to knows what they need to be doing.

This piece's title "andidates Face Three Critical Weeks" shows your lack of knowledge about the grassroots internet movement that has been going on for since before the end of the primaries and exploded since Clinton's suspension speech. There has been tremendous action produced by this movement that had a part in producing the Clinton name in nomination; she saw what was happening, he saw what was happening. This movement involves more than the 18 million who voted for her.

Where have you been besides talking to insiders?

Posted by: hillaryhead | August 16, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Obama is 1000 times more qualified to President than Dragon Lady Clinton. She ran an incompetent , sexist, racist, disingenuous campaign and SHE STILL LOST. He ran a brilliant campaign AND WON. She has no leadership qualities and has been a mediocre senator with NO MAJOR LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVE TO HER CREDIT.

If she steals the nomination at the convention the Democrats are toast and hello PRESIDENT MCCAIN!!!!!!

Posted by: Bonnie | August 16, 2008 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Obama is 1000 times more qualified to President than Dragon Lady Clinton. She ran an incompetent , sexist, racist, disingenuous campaign and SHE STILL LOST. He ran a brilliant campaign AND WON. She has no leadership qualities and has been a mediocre senator with NO MJAOR LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVE TO HER CREDIT.

If she steals the nomination at the convention the Democrats are toast and hello PRESIDENT MCCAIN!!!!!!

Posted by: Bonnie | August 16, 2008 8:21 AM | Report abuse

The campaign really begins these next few weeks. McCain has spent the summer tarnishing his maverick brand and advocating World War III. Obama went abroad and looked like a real President, though it's too presumptuous for him to look Presidential, or something. Now Obama is refreshed after his vacation. The polls haven't budged in two months.

It's now game time.

Posted by: Elrod | August 16, 2008 2:55 AM | Report abuse

For Barack Obama: Eight Questions

Posted: 15 Aug 2008 09:52 AM CDT

By Matthew I. Weaver | The Problem With Obama

While most folks accept that Obama was born in the U.S. of an American mother, it is increasingly suggestive that he may have shared Kenyan citizenship from his father, then when his mother remarried, was adopted and became an Indonesian citizen. In the latter, a school record clearly lists his citizenship as Indonesian. This would seem consistent with his adoption and the family move to Indonesia.

Obama has not addressed this. His offered birth certificate is being questioned by a number of folks who claim it is a forgery. It is suggested that his original birth certificate was sealed and replaced by a new one upon his adoption and move to Indonesia. It is suggested that in addition to his new name, Barry Soetoro, his adopted father and his mother changed his citizenship to Indonesia. Surely there will be records of this somewhere but I’ve yet to see anything beyond the notes about the sealed original birth certificate, the new one, a copy allegedly issued in 2007, an original that Obama wrote he held, and comments about the adoption in 1965 or 1966. I have not seen anything definitive on any of this to show it is anything more than speculation.


So when did he Legally change his name back to Obama after he was adopted by his stepfather? Why didn't Obama register for selective service as requied by law ?
Why did he slip in to see Grandma on vacation with out Kids or Wife?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2008 1:50 AM | Report abuse

"He also may want to use the speech to confront the issue of race even more directly than he has."

Hard to see how he could instruct the rest of the nation on this topic, since the anti-white racism of his own past church festering away for 20 years while he was a member seemed hardly to have registered on his celebrated moral radar screen.

Posted by: tma_sierrahills | August 16, 2008 1:44 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Agile womanly | August 16, 2008 1:36 AM | Report abuse

Vote for Hillary? I say Nope.Bill thinks that he's the Pope. John McCain just can't cope. And the writer scrivener is just a dope.

Posted by: majorteddy | August 16, 2008 1:34 AM | Report abuse

Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler


The O-man, Barack Hussein Obama, is an eloquently tailored empty suit. No resume, no accomplishments, no experience, no original ideas, no understanding of how the economy works, no understanding of how the world works, no balls, nothing but abstract empty rhetoric devoid of real substance.

He has no real identity. He is half-white, which he rejects. The
rest of him is mostly Arab, which he hides but is disclosed by his
non-African Arabic surname and his Arabic first and middle names
as a way to triply proclaim his Arabic parentage to people in
Kenya . Only a small part of him is African Black from his Luo
grandmother, which he pretends he is exclusively.

What he isn't, not a genetic drop of, is 'African-American, ' the
descendant of enslaved Africans brought to America chained in
slave ships. He hasn't a single ancestor who was a slave Instead,
his Arab ancestors were slave owners. Slave-trading was the main Arab business in East Africa for centuries until the British ended it.

Let that sink in: Obama is not the descendant of slaves, he is
the descendant of slave owners. Thus he makes the perfect Liberal Messiah.

It's something Hillary doesn't understand - how some complete
neophyte came out of the blue and stole the Dem nomination from
her. Obamamania is beyond politics and reason. It is a true
religious cult, whose adherents reject Christianity yet still
believe in Original Sin, transferring it from the evil of being
human to the evil of being white.

Thus Obama has become the white liberals' Christ, offering
absolution from the Sin of Being White. There is no reason or
logic behind it, no faults or flaws of his can diminish it, no arguments Hillary could make of any kind can be effective against it. The absurdity of Hypocrisy Clothed In Human Flesh being their Savior is all the more cause for liberals to worship him: "Credo quia absurdum" ... I believe it because it is absurd.

Thank heavens that the voting majority of Americans remain
Christian and are in no desperate need of a phony savior.

His candidacy is ridiculous and should not be taken seriously by
any thinking American.

Pass this on to every thinking American you know.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2008 1:30 AM | Report abuse

Scrivener... that is one long-assed conspiracy theory you got there. I didn't know Republicans took LSD. But, I guess I learned something new today.

But you really should go see a Pink Floyd laser light show or go to the carnival and ride the Gravitron... because listening to Rush Limbaugh while frying sounds like a really bad trip to me. And, reading your sprawling premonition about the convention, while amusing to me, pretty much is proof that acid does not necessarily inspire creativity.

Listen to some Captain Beefheart. Go lay in a field and watch some shooting stars. Do anything else but channel Jerome Corsi.

Posted by: Brutus | August 16, 2008 1:07 AM | Report abuse

BUT WILL THE ELECTION EVEN MATTER? Not when government-supported "vigilante injustice" squads are targeting American citizens outside of the bounds of the law:

Posted by: scrivener | August 16, 2008 12:15 AM


you're a moron... HRC is $38M in debt... not a dime left for the general... lost the black vote.... Her interest is in getting Obama elected not engaging your toxic shock meandering fantasy.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | August 16, 2008 1:07 AM | Report abuse

The mainstream media has spoken: the New York Times and the Washington Post, in news articles and in commentary, already have labeled as "symbolic" Hillary's Clinton's well-played gambit to have her name placed in nomination at the Democratic convention in Denver (despite her feigned opposition to the "Hillary Roll Call" trojan-horse strategy).

"Purely symbolic"? Just "emblematic" of a historic but failed campaign, as another MSM outlet declared?

Let's place a gentleman's bet. Get Political says Hillary's got the 200 or so defections she needs to ensure that Obama is not nominated on the first ballot.

If there is an attempt to make "her" roll call purely symbolic, and not binding, such a move would reek of sexism, and probably would be discriminatory and illegal to boot. If Obama tries to invalidate Hillary's vote tally, perhaps Hillary would elect to take the DNC and his campaign to federal court.

"PU-MA! PU-MA!" (That's the grassroots pro-Hillarian group, "Party Unity My Ass," for Hillaryworld uninitiates).

No, here we are wagering that Obama had no other choice but to cave on the Hillary roll call. And we're going out on the limb to say that Obama may even know that he's been checkmated. If he doesn't win on the first ballot, he is officially declared a political eunuch. And then Hillary can pledge her delegates to a third candidate, such as Al Gore, who would go on to win the nomination and then promptly name Obama as his veepee in a swift and effective unification move.

And the hostile takeover of the DNC is reversed in a cunningly executed "coup de parte." The Clintons know how to fight and win, unlike the compromising, combat-averse Obama. His hubris is unearned.

In fact, this script already may have been written, and signed off on, by Obama; perhaps that's why he didn't cut short his vacation so he could look more "presidential" and in command during a critical news week. Maybe he knows something the pundits have yet to figure out.

McCain clearly won the week by showing up, looking very much like the candidate who's ready to lead -- and next week's tracking polls will tell the tale.

What has been characterized by Obama apologists as a "magnanimous" gesture, we would call back-to-the-wall capitulation. Remember, Obama didn't want to do this. Just a week or so ago, he rejected the "catharsis" of a Hillary roll call. But then he realized that he would be perceived as anti-democratic -- Obamanistic, you might say -- if he fought the vote.

Let's repeat the prognostication once again: Obama will not get the presidential nomination because the supers know full well that he cannot win the general. Look at those battleground state polls over at It's dead-even at a time when the Democrat should be pulling away.

If the Dem superdelegates let Obama get the nomination, they are ceding the general election to the GOP. They cannot do it. And Obama's issue vacillations and his unwillingness to fully engage demonstrate why he does not deserve the nomination.

But Obama can unify the party -- and get his shot at the top job in 2016 -- if he's a good soldier and accepts the probable deal he's been offered by the Clintons, with Al Gore and John Kerry as their friendly enforcers: Take the vice presidency, Barack, and live to fight for POTUS another day.

To quote again from my favorite poet du jour, the unknown Larry Eisenberg, whose Ode to Obamanistic Capitulation I discovered while reading a "comments" section on the New York Times web site:

Barack Obama, to appease,
May soon find he’s shorn of fleece,
Bought Ms. Hill’ry’s pig-in-poke,
Put his neck right in her yoke!

BUT WILL THE ELECTION EVEN MATTER? Not when government-supported "vigilante injustice" squads are targeting American citizens outside of the bounds of the law:

Posted by: scrivener | August 16, 2008 12:15 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, the debates are going to decide this thing. These three weeks may be the most important to the media, but the 18% of voters that aren't leaning toward either candidate will make up their minds on Sept 26, Oct 3, & Oct 7. Patience, my friends. Patience.

Posted by: Mordecai | August 15, 2008 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Because McCain seems quite willing to connect himself in several ways with the policies of the soul-shriveling Bush administration, and because he has a reputation for explosive anger, he is clearly the riskier bet of the two candidates. What right wing pundits and McCain’s advisors are presently doing is cheap and cliché-ridden, relying on stereotypical responses among the uninformed. If the level of public discourse rises, the Republicans are doomed, because Obama’s vision is broad and multi-leveled, and his intelligence far sharper. Circumstances now clearly favor the Democrats and their candidate as rescue agents, hence the desperation on the right and the all-too-predictable activation of the now-farcical Republican smear machine (viz. “Obamanation”).

Posted by: tadpcf | August 15, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

growing up in the Southland... we always had a Bigfoot at the Tennessee State Fair. .50 to see a wax figure in ice, in a glass case. Somebody probably found one of the many that floated around carnivals and State Fairs. Hillareous. BTW, I would comment on the story, but I mean really... critical weeks ahead, uhh huh. Preaching to the Cheerleaders.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | August 15, 2008 10:31 PM | Report abuse

2 Edwards supporters are talking
The first one says, "So do you think that's John's baby."
2nd one: "Nah, the timing's not right"
1st: "You're right. It never is when you're running for President."

Posted by: ivote2 | August 15, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

To:John McCain
RE: Viet Nam

We Lost. Get Over It!

Posted by: Bob North Smithfield | August 15, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

The last memorable thing the Huckster did was make a despicable joke before a white, gun-toting NRA group about Obama fearing assassination. Media should reference that every time they quote the bigot.

Posted by: WakeWashington | August 15, 2008 8:58 PM | Report abuse

My brothers are dying in Iraq and all I got was lousy $4 a gallon gas...

4 More Years! 4 More Wars! $8 gas!

Posted by: Corruption Anon | August 15, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Roses are red
Violets are blue
no, wait...

Roses are orange
Violets are pink
no, wait...

Violets are green
Roses are yellow

I'm you're fellow

Sincerly, Obama

Posted by: FlipFLop | August 15, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Russia should be a partner of ours in the fight against nuclear proliferation and Islamic extremism.

If McCain thinks we can do a little surge and rout Al Qaeda in AfPakistan he's delusional.

Posted by: Corruption Anon | August 15, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

The McCain Arizona motto was always "from rags to rackets to riches to respectability" (you could google it.)

So he's in with the darker elements behind the front people for Big Oil, Big War, Big Tobacco, Big Drugs, Big Media, Big Entertainment, etc.

That, in and of itself, is troubling enough. But the fact that he doesn't understand that all the Bush Admin did was spend 2 trillion US dollars installing a democracy in a place that would vote to kick us out in a heartbeat is even worse. Worse still is that Wars and tension in the gulf increase energy prices and arms sales and play right into the hands of KGB Inc, who have an even darker, dirtier, tighter business network than our Big Oil, Big War people. So now the world hates us, and Russia is on the move. And McCain wants to double down on Bush's failed ecconomic and foreign policies. That is so stupid.

Rebuild America and get energy independent. Stop screwing with Putin in his backyard.

Posted by: Corruption Anon | August 15, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Now we get to see him pretend to be a Cold War leader, as the authentic-Obama-du-Jour.

Is it true he actually ate at a restaurant today called "typical white food"?

Is it true he's going to pick Michelle for VP cause Obama-Obama 2008 sounds twice as narcissistic than Obama 2008?

Posted by: AsperGirl | August 15, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Corruption Anon about McCain: my sentiments exactly.
We have had to endure him in Arizona. Heaven help us if he becomes President. WWIII won't be far away. McCain will never forget that the Soviet Union help the VC torture him. He still thinks and feels like the prisoner at the Hanoi Hilton. Understandable, but hardly a qualification to be President.
I'd rather have someone with a thin resume than a thick head.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 6:47 PM | Report abuse

"The cascading events will heighten the cost of mistakes, affect the post-convention bounce for Obama and perhaps McCain"

perhaps McCain

There doesn't seem to be an expectation of objectivity for bloggers like Dan, even at the WaPo. I guess it's ok - it's not like they're journalists.

Posted by: getting it | August 15, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Both McCain and Obama are neck-in-neck in the polls the favorable media coverage and surplus of money that Senator Purple Lips has in his coffers.

Posted by: Nadeem Zakaria | August 15, 2008 5:38 PM

Gee, I wonder why Obama supporters feel like some of McCain's supporters are racists? Your racism is eating you up from the inside - how does that feel - a-hole!

Posted by: NM Moderate | August 15, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

I just can't vote for a Muslim for president, not so soon after 9/11.

Posted by: Mike | August 15, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

vote in your favorite candidate at

Posted by: mark | August 15, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Goody, goody! I can't wait to see how the Post will "report" these earth shattering stories. So far, the Post's election coverage has been pretty pathetic and lame. Will they dare to get off their bums and do some real reporting, or will they continue to regurgitate whatever they're fed by their favorite food, "sources?"

Posted by: TJK | August 15, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse


What's that hissing sound?


Is it . . . ?


. . . no, it can't be!


But it is . . .


. . . the sound of the air going out of Obama's suit!!


Posted by: The Moving Finger | August 15, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Barack supporter, but this is where he lost the election. I'm not sure if he's communicating to the American people effectively enough. I would almost say he's lazy or his campaign is to slow afoot in responding or not capturing what the GOP is doing to his campaign. It's not simply enough to give a good speech and that's it. I feel for him because if he does and lose, African Americans will lose faith in the democractic party.

Posted by: James | August 15, 2008 5:40 PM | Report abuse

There are going to be many people jumping from windows when Barry Hussein fails to "seal the deal" in November. Both McCain and Obama are neck-in-neck in the polls the favorable media coverage and surplus of money that Senator Purple Lips has in his coffers.

Posted by: Nadeem Zakaria | August 15, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Everyone keeps expecting Obama to react to the old style of politics and when he doesnt the speculations go wild. He reviewed with us from the first time we laid eyes on him and heard his soaring rhetoric, that he and his political model is not like politics as usual. Frankly, I am always pleasantly surprised to see he is true to his word. I am excited and waiting with baited breath at his Presidency, because I believe it will be all that he has promised and more.


Posted by: OBAMA '08 | August 15, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse


You call Obama an empty suit, but have you even looked into the details of his plans? Or even at his plans at all? Just b/c he is new to national politics doesn't make him an empty suit, being the president of the US doesn't carry with it an empty suit presence. Obama has a lot more detail to his plans and more plans for that matter than McCain by far. Just check their websites.

They both have flip flopped about the same amount of time, that is why the right hasn't been able to paint Obama as one like they did Kerry. On top of that Obama was vague in the beginning and then started refining things, which is flip flopping but not the extent that McCain has just flat shifted positions to appease the right once he realized being the maverick working to spite them wouldn't get him elected. McCain's reasons were of political expediency NOT Obama's.

What about McCain?????? Why can't you promote your candidate???? Tell me one thing substantial you like about McCain.


Posted by: Obama for NC | August 15, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I think it's great that we get to talk trash on these political boards. Lords knows I won't be able to say what I really think at tonight's party, due to the prospect of offending one of the Hillary nutjobs or far right lunatics.

So here goes my rant for the day: Sen. McCain, you are are a stupid, gutless, worthless, lying, two-timing, maybe even three or four-timing, John Tower partying and womanizing, Charles Keating sleazy, Kemper Marley mobbed up thug.

People who are as crooked and as temperamental as you are - like Georgia's guy Saakashvili - have no business being in power. You would get your lunch - our lunch - my lunch - eaten by Vladmir Putin, who is just another arms dealing oil machine thug a politician, just like your buddy W.

The Bush Administration has made the world better for the Russians, and has made America worse for Americans. We need to flip the script, and we need to boot you out on your arse.

Let the Harvard kid play chess with Putin; you are out of your depth. You nutbag.

Posted by: Corruption Anon | August 15, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

If only we had a police state, they'd all be dead or in Gitmo.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Boy,What if hussein does'nt win?Man than will be tough for a lot of poeple.A co worker is so convince that Obama will win he took a vacation on inauguration day to go to DC to cheer for BarackusseinObama.Frm here,I can not immagine what the like of Chris Mat, K Olbe
Chuster, Joe Scar and on and on will say Nov 5!There could be blood everywhere that day.

Posted by: mink/celes | August 15, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Isnt it ironic that they have the nerve to celebrate themselves, while we lose our homes, and pay $5 a gallon for gas?
The Democrats and Republicans have ruined a once great country. As a proud American, this year, I will vote Green. No more lies, no more war and especially no more looking the other way while an idiot sends our boys off to die in another pointless war. Cynthia08!

Posted by: ClintonDem4Cynthia08 | August 15, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Seems more and more like Lieberman will be McCain's running mate. In fact he's already a frequent walking mate, and the two get along famously.

Lieberman has been in close harmony in praising McCain's foreign policy salvos, not just on Georgia but especially on the Middle East. Like McCain he sees a harsh world tightly drawn between friends and foes, white hats and black hats, good and evil. Like the ticket header, Lieberman appears nostalgic for the clear lines and military competitions of the Cold War.

And Lieberman brings to the ticket a progressive past that will enable McCain to move leftward on selected issues that will endear this potent combination to the Independent voter who longs to see less partisan gridlock.

Posted by: Buck TX Ind | August 15, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I notice several rants about a "police state" on this board. Clearly you lefies have no clear idea what a police state really is. Do all liberals read from the same rhetorical manual? You guys have spent 8 years trashing Bush and you have nothing to show for it. Nothing. Stolen elections, police states, illegal wars, blah, blah, blah. Do you truly beleive your own crap?

Posted by: Jay Johnson | August 15, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I don't think a week has gone by where McCain didn't put his 72 year old foot in his mouth. I'm starting to think that Bush just maybe smarter than him. I'm starting to wonder if he's aware that it's the country of Georgia that's been in the news and not our southern state of Georgia he said "We're all Georgians today"...what a clown. Can we get this man some senility pills.

Posted by: Ryan | August 15, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

How many times during his acceptance speech will Obama sputter, "Uh," "Let me make this perfectly clear," "Uh (his favorite word)," "Hey, what's wrong with the teleprompter?" etc.

Posted by: "Uh" | August 15, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Did Obama take off a week to completely flip flop. I've lost track of his stances on issues and he is probably going to flip again. Damn. He is like a yoyo.

Posted by: Chief | August 15, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

A better question would be to ask Obama why he belonged to a bigoted church for so long. If McCain had the same history it would be front page news. This isn't going away guys. The commercials are on their way.

Posted by: Jay Johnson | August 15, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse


Bravo! Your comments managed to be both racist and sexist at the same time. Fantastic!

Posted by: OGLiberal


She is much more tolerant toward Michelle than you Obamanuts were toward Hillary. Remember. Did that bother you?

What has happened to Michelle? Have they muzzled her? I haven't heard from her lately. She hasn't gone back to hating her country, has she?

Posted by: Chief | August 15, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

He probably gets it from Obama's drug connection.

Posted by: Jay Johnson | August 15, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Why at a town hall meeting doesn't someone ask Mccain what medications he takes everyday? I was told by someone who was there that he was taking something supposedly for high blood pressure but the pill looked like a Cholinesterase inhibitor from what they saw. Cholinesterase inhibitors are used to the slowing of Alzheimer's disease. We need a yes or know to this. He needs to be confronted with this publicly. We know due to his wife's connections getting the medication without a prescription and without anyone knowing would be no problem.

Posted by: ????????????? | August 15, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

That's absurd.

Posted by: Jay Johnson | August 15, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Man an intelligent black leader really scares the white folks doesn't it. Im white and I can't wait to NOT see a wrinly old good ole' boy leading the country. Look what they've done the past 8 years. It's embarassing and they should be jailed for their crimes against the US people.

Posted by: Patrick | August 15, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Please do, Az.

Posted by: Franky | August 15, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Obama is an empty siut with a good speech writer. Eloquence does not equal leadership. I find it amazing that Obama supporters find it necessary to constantly insult John McCain's age bracket and yet want us to beleive that any attack on Obama is somehow race oriented. You guys are foolish. Not one of you had ever heard of this guy 9 months ago. Now he's the messiah. Rubbish. One more leftist loudmouth.

Posted by: Jay Johnson | August 15, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Obama and campaign staff have devised a totally different strategy. During the Primary, Sen. Clinton looked as if she was winning and was going to overrun Obama. In the end, Obama had racked up so many points that Clinton could not catch up with. Out of view, there are reports that Obama is doing well in states that traditionally do not vote Democratic; i.e. Virginia, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Alaska. Also, Obama are focusing on Electoral Votes not popular votes. Anyway, Obama seems to be taking it easy and does not seem frazzled or hysterical.

Posted by: M. Stratas | August 15, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Franky, you have summed it up completely.
I hope you don't mind, but I intend to paste your entire post into other message boards.

Posted by: az | August 15, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

yawn...obama will lose because he's weak, confused, unpatriotic, and too left wing...the democrats need to get serious if they wanna take back the white house...

Posted by: jane | August 15, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Republicans have us at war in two countries as a result of Republican lies and deceptions, and we might be in two more wars--Iran and Pakistan--by November. We have alienated the entire Muslim world and most of the rest.

The dollar has lost 60% of its value against the euro, and the once mighty dollar is losing its reserve currency role.

The Republicans' policies have driven up the price of both oil and gold by 400%.

Inflation is in double digits. Employment is falling.

The Republican economy in the 21st century has been unable to create net new jobs for Americans except for low wage domestic services such as waitresses, bartenders, retail clerks and hospital orderlies.

Republican deregulation brought about fraud in mortgage lending and dangerous financial instruments which have collapsed the housing market, leaving a million or more homeowners facing foreclosure. The financial system is in disarray and might collapse from insolvency.

The trade and budget deficits have exploded. The US trade deficit is larger than the combined trade deficits of every deficit country in the world.

The US can no longer finance its wars or its own government and relies on foreign loans to function day to day. To pay for its consumption, the US sells its existing assets--companies, real estate, toll roads, whatever it can offer--to foreigners.

Republicans have run roughshod over the US Constitution, Congress, the courts and civil liberties. Republicans have made it perfectly clear that they believe that our civil liberties make us unsafe--precisely the opposite view of our Founding Fathers. Yet, Republicans regard themselves as the Patriotic Party.

The Republicans have violated the Nuremberg prohibitions against war crimes, and they have violated the Geneva Conventions against torture and abuse of prisoners. Republican disregard for human rights ranks with that of history's great tyrants.

The Republicans have put in place the foundation for a police state, which they have no problem using against fellow citizens!

We must get the Republicans totally out of power, or we will have no country left for any of us!

Posted by: Franky | August 15, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

EiVE-"Thankfully, most voters are smarter than that"

Uh, we can hope.

Posted by: Charles | August 15, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

You can take all the polls you want, but getting a Republican base to be fired up about a guy they don't like or trust will be impossible for McSame.
The Grumpy Old Man just won't carry the day. Fact is McCain is 4 more years of Bush, and the country is bushed out. No matter what Obama has to offer it won't be four more years of Bush, and that will be enough for the middle of the road voters.

Posted by: Dean | August 15, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Everything McCain has done in the past few weeks smacks of incompetence. This is the man who calls himself President, calls Putin President of Russia, reads Wikipedia from a telepromter and thinks he is impressing us with his foreign policy credentials. If for all his years of 'experience' he still does not know that Pakistan doesn't border Iraq or the difference between Shia and Sunni, I don't think there's much hope for improvement. And that is a scary thought!

Posted by: katharine | August 15, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Obama is clearly a is a shame that the african american community has waited so long to have a canidate to vote for and no all we have a is a marxist wannabe no moral having for the writer of this article regarding huckabee, he is right, i do not like flip phoney mitt b/c he is worse than obama he has no core values and if mccain puts him on the ticket for the sake of the big wigs in the party they can expect defeat cause people are already second guessing mccain to put another person on the ticket that has passed laws contrary to true conservatives - they will just plain ole loose b/c the base will stay home. if the gop is that stupid then they need to body wants romney but wall street...if he is such an economic genuis why is the hillary style health care he mandated in mass while govenor causing the state to go bankrupt? he is the worst politician ever, even worse then obamanation and i will never vote for nothing with his name on writer of this biased article, write on that...

Posted by: sha | August 15, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse


Bravo! Your comments managed to be both racist and sexist at the same time. Fantastic!

Posted by: OGLiberal | August 15, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

When Putin took a bite out of Georgia, Obama's first response reminded me of Bush's musings about looking into Vlad's eyes. After 8 years of Bush, we don't need more inexperience and poor judgment at the helm and that is what Obama represents. His claims to superior judgment are laughable. He veers from naivety to bellicosity (e.g. advocating pulling troops out of Iraq only to mire them in Afghanistan), all without a principled position.

Posted by: NancyJ | August 15, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

"What impact all that will have on McCain, who does not appreciate being told what to do, isn't clear. But the potential for a backlash against his choice must be weighing on the presumptive nominee and HIS ADVISERS, as THEY get ready for THEIR final deliberations about the choice."

The first above cited sentence is ridiculous, the second sentence tells the truth: THEY (= McCain's neocon advisers) are getting ready for THEIR final deliberations about the choice of McCain's running mate.

McCain himself is nothing else but a Neocon puppet. His neocon advisers are feverishly thinking about THEIR running mate choice for McCain who is totally dependent on them.

McCain himself obviously is not capable any longer to say even one sentence without reading from a prepared script. Even when he talks to ordinary folks at a table in a pub he has a piece of paper before him. He cannot hide his lack of assurance any longer.

The coming debates (and earlier the joint appearance with Obama at the Saddleback Church in California) will show the terrifying ignorance of McCain and his increasing loss of memory. This loss of memory has extinguished the rest of McCain's experience.

There is a fundamental fact you never heard of in the American media: Experience without memory doesn't exist. Experience without memory is NO EXPERIENCE. That means: McCain has got no experience. McCain's 'experience' and 'independence' are the greatest and indeed breath-taking blunders of this whole presidential campaign.

Posted by: Hegelfan | August 15, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

With Romney at his side McCain could crush Obama. Look at the difference in economic credibility.

Posted by: nate in CO | August 15, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Dan Balz needs to get out more.

Posted by: Alex | August 15, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

"No question that Obama needs to start thinking of how he can out the election away. Waiting and waiting until the last few weeks of October leaves little room for error and allows McCain to control the dialogue of the campaign"

to Matt:

it worked for him during the primary. He campaign told him to bite his lip throughout the summer

and as you remember he was polling at like 19% nationally than and in like 3rd place in iowa, 2nd in NH

but once the fall began he started to gain traction

its pretty clear to me (and obviously somewhat to you) that the most important, yet ironically most simple, tool his campaign has been using is timing.

since the beginning of this year i knew that if obama were to be the nominee

his campaign would wait until a week or two before the convention to gradually start playing hardball

and thus here we are now, 1.5 weeks before the convention and obama just aired his 1st attack ad using McCain's words against him

by about a or two before the 1st debate (i think sept. 26th.)
his campaign will be runnning at like 75%

he will make this debate his best yet and he will be at 100% full throttle.

true the RNC will make good use of the time between now and then

but Obama and his campaign already know questioning his character and patriotism and americanism

only plays to certain voters, and they probably weren't going to vote for obama anyway

david plouffe, david axerold, and rober gibbs are very very savvy campaign strategist.

Posted by: Sean | August 15, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

During McCain's acceptance speech, how many times will he scratch his belly and utter the term "my friends"?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

It would be helpful if you would elaborate what you mean when you say Obama's governing agenda is sprawling and lacks focus? Do you understand that the president is responsible for a "sprawling list" of issues? In terms of focus, I have found Obama's agenda to be fairly comprehensible. There is enough focus for people to understand what he stands for. I am so tired of the no taxes and war agenda that McCain offers. Is that what you mean by focus?

Posted by: cdierd1944 | August 15, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

"For those who revel in unpredictability" is a wonderful way of describing those few who are insulated from the real hardships that Americans face in the real world..far apart from the critic class. It doesn't surprise me when his "conventional wisdom" turns out to be false. For instance, was Balz correct about Obama's popularity among the "white working class?" No. Has he discussed the overwhelming number of lobbyists in the employ of one particular presidential candidate and the influence that has on policy? No. Is there a further discussion about a credibility problem with a candidate when he needs an "alter ego" to compose his thoughts as stated above about McCain? No. "Enjoy the chaos" is Balz's message. Count me out.

Posted by: Richard Ray Harris | August 15, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

With a massive defeat at the polls looming, it now should be clear as day that the War Party wants to divert attention from failure in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon etc (not to mention domestically) by opening a new front - The Caucasus

These people are as dangerous as they are desperate

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Great analysis, but this:
"What impact all that will have on McCain, who does not appreciate being told what to do, isn't clear."

Come on. Who on the national political stage does appreciate being told what to do?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

So they found BigFoot, Guess which candidate he is supporting. I always figured him for a libertarian??

Posted by: Peter | August 15, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Arkansas Party Chair Bill Gwatney had been selected as Obama's running mate, but was killed by the Russian KGB before the public announcement could be made.

Washington is in a diplomatic quandry on how to respond to the assassination of an un-announced, un-nominated Vice-Presidential candidate, which is why the news agenda has been freeze-framed for the last 72 hours.

Posted by: Kacoo | August 15, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

...Found on the Huffington Post Website...

Today we have one more bureaucratic blunder to add to the list. The VA has banned voter registration at veterans' nursing homes and homeless shelters. The irony is almost too great. Disabled veterans, who have made such tremendous sacrifices in defense of democracy, are now being denied assistance in voting.

The VA is claiming that voter registration drives are partisan, and would interfere with the functioning of their facilities. But hundreds of nonpartisan organizations regularly participate in voter registration drives -everyone from the League of Women Voters to the Elks Club. Helping people vote is a civic duty, not a partisan activity.

And if voter registration drives interfere with an institution's functioning, someone should tell the Texas Hospital Association and the American Medical Student Association, both of whom run voter registration campaigns at hospitals and clinics. The "Rx: Vote Campaign," run by the National Physicians Alliance, argues:

"Without exercising the right to vote, patients and those who care for them lack the power to improve the health of their communities. As a result, patients' health, and the health of our democracy, suffer. The nation's community health centers, clinics, and hospitals have a unique ability and responsibility to empower patients to participate in the democratic process."
If doctors believe voter registration drives can and should be happening at their hospitals, why can't the VA accept voter registration at their facilities?

The VA doesn't have a leg to stand on morally or legally. But if the VA refuses to budge, Congress will have to act quickly to overrule the VA, before veterans start missing their states' voter registration deadlines.

It should not take an act of Congress for the VA to admit they made a mistake. But until they do, hospitalized veterans like Martin O'Nieal, "a 92-year-old man who lost a leg while fighting the Nazis in the mountains of Northern Italy," will have to struggle to exercise the very rights they helped defend on the field of battle.

How can you help protect the voting rights of our veterans? Keep an eye on In the meantime, make sure that you are registered to vote. It only takes a second.

Posted by: AlexP1 | August 15, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I think Lady Luck will look more favorably on Obama than McCain during the next several weeks. McCain seems likely to veer off into some controversy as he tries to be all to all Republicans - Conservatives, Bush followers (If there are any) and independent minded types. McCain has to deal with the problem of making a case for himself as opposed to dumping on Obama - he looks like a liberal Republican who has sucked up to Bush, and I would be suprised if that doesnt do him in.
Obama on the other hand has the chance to focus attention on himself and on how his policies wll be good for Americans. He has to keep the attention on him and not on the Clintons and not on the scurrilous attempts by the Republicans to slander him. When the going gets tough, the tough get going and I think Obama is alot tougher and smarter than his often cool demeanor shows.
Let the race begin and lets hope this race doesnt resemble a huge train wreck as we head to November

Posted by: nclwtk | August 15, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

No question that Obama needs to start thinking of how he can out the election away. Waiting and waiting until the last few weeks of October leaves little room for error and allows McCain to control the dialogue of the campaign.

Posted by: matt | August 15, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

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