Live blogging today's Midmorning, featuring John Harwood: co-author with Gerald Seib, "Pennsylvania Avenue: Profiles in Backroom Power." Harwood is the chief political correspondent for CNBC. He also writes The Caucus column for The New York Times.
9:08 - Harwood said he was with Tim Russert on Friday morning. Russert, of course, died Friday afternoon. "I don't think Tim was feeling all that well," he quoted his co-author, Gerald Seib, as saying. Harwood was to be on Meet the Press yesterday. Jim Fallows, by the way, had an interesting blog post on the subject, too.
9:13 - "What's the thing you're most curious about in Obama-McCain?" Kerri Miller asked
To what extent Obama tries to surf the Democratic wave, Harwood says. "All the signs are positive for Democrats that they'll expand their majority. Does Obama simply try to ride that wave or ... is he going to try to reach across the aisle and create a different kind of politics and work with Republicans?"
Here's some recommended reading: Why a McCain Win May Be Bad for GOP, Good for Democrats
Each candidate has to win over internal skeptics. There's a reason conservatives gravitate to the GOP and liberals to Democrat Party. The ideological divide is the core of the campaign, but how the candidates change "around the edges" -- look for new constituencies and states -- is what will define the campaign.
9:19 - McCain is trying to hang tax-and-spend around Obama's neck. Harwood interviewed Obama last week and asked if it's wise to go ahead with tax cuts. "I'm not going to be an idealogue, if I talk to my advisors and they say this will hurt the economy, I'm not going to go ahead with them," Obama said. This, Harwood says, is the flexibility that makes Obama a "different candidate and Republicans don't hate him so much."
9:22 - The Catholic vote. Clinton dominated the Catholic vote. "Some of the analysis that he (Obama) is losing the Catholic vote, the blue-collar vote... it's going to be easier for Democrats to remember they are, in fact, Democrats. Those who are independent -- those are big targets and Obama will have to work to win those -- the soft Republican Catholics, you might say -- over.
9:24 - Discussing an NPR story on McCain's voting record.
McCain's Senate record generally shows strong support for President Bush's agenda, although he opposed both big Bush tax cuts. As a presidential candidate, McCain has gone from breaking ranks with the president on taxes, to falling in line.
9:25 - McCain faces a challenge. He's got a declining Republican "brand," and a base that doesn't trust him. How does he win that base, and then expand it to the center?
9:32 If Obama is elected, a "real drama' will be how will he navigate the power avenues in Washington while keeping reformers happy.
9:39 - Caller asks why sexism and racism wasn't dealt with the media? "It'll be an issue if she (Clinton) ever runs again."
9:41 - I find myself wondering where the Harwood's snapshot of what's going on in the backrooms is. What's going on behind the scenes, John? Most of the anecdotes so far are things that happened out in the open.
9:44 Caller: Media should help lead us to the search for the truth rather than a desire for advocacy. "American journalism is increasingly adversarial and journalism of advocacy which historically is editorial work, not reporting."
Over to you, John.
"Those points are right on," he said. "It is correct that historically we had an advocacy press for a lot of our country's history. We saw increasing professionalization of the press after WWII. After WWII, you had a much more sense of the common space of a national conversation -- three TV networks, millions of Americans that shared a common experience. Over time, the parties sorted themselves out, the media sorted themselves out, and with the rise of cable TV and the Internet, that analysis has taken on partisan colorization, so the common space is lost; the civil space is lost and what you see is supercharged conversations among partisans but not across the citizenry.
9:50 - Kerri relays trouble getting Sen. Jim Webb booked for her show. Is that because he's on the short list for vice president?
Webb, Harwood says, is an example of the "new" Democrat, candidates who can talk to blue-collar voters, and talk to gun owners.
9:54 p.m. -- Miller: Who's the best press secretary? Harwood gives Marlin Fitzwater -- Reagan and Bush -- props. Says he knew how to help reporters without hurting his own boss.
9:56 p.m. - Will McCain pick Pawlenty as VP? "I'm not going to predict that but he would be in a group of possibilities. Not terribly insightful, there.
There's certainly a Minnesota flavor to flood recovery efforts in Cedar Rapids.
According to a news release today from the Hennepin County sheriff and the Minneapolis Police Department:
In the early evening of Saturday June 14th Chief Greg Graham of the Cedar Rapids Police Department placed a personal call to Chief Dolan asking for whatever law enforcement resources the City could provide. Chief Dolan immediately committed one Lieutenant, two Sergeants and six officers to respond. Sheriff Stanek also committed an initial 10 deputies and supervisors. By 1 a.m. Sunday MPD Deputy Chief of Patrol Rob Allen was in Cedar Rapids coordinating our response. By 12 p.m. Sunday the Minneapolis and Hennepin County Sheriff's initial response teams were at work in Cedar Rapids. The officers and deputies are working in areas of Cedar Rapids where the flood waters are receding to allow residents to return to their homes on a limited basis. Our personnel are working to prevent theft and other crimes in those areas.
The Minneapolis police chief also authorized another 20 officers and Stanek, the sheriff, authorized another 10 deputies. Since the Cedar Rapids police department communications center is underwater, the locals ("our" locals) are sending down a mobile command post, too.
Meanwhile, according to the Twin Cities Red Cross, 11 area volunteers have been dispatched to assist in flood efforts in the Upper Midwest.
Do you think you'll ever see $2 a gallon gasoline again? Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota's 6th District thinks you will, if the U.S. "sends a signal" that more oil will be pumped out of the ground.
She held a news conference in Woodbury today (interestingly, it was at the gas station which usually has the lowest prices in town) to push her "No More Excuses Energy Act," which opens up more land for drilling
Bachmann says it would take about four years to get prices down to $2 a gallon.
Last week Bachmann told Politico that gas prices are now the #1 issue for her constituents:
As a matter of fact, in the parade we were at last weekend, people were shouting from the sidelines: "Drill in ANWR! Drill in ANWR!" One woman was sitting in one of those lawn chairs, and she had a piece of cardboard, and she had written on it, "Down with global warming freaks." I mean, these people are just ready to find someone to shake and say, "Help me with my gas prices."
Back when the price of a barrel of crude was $37 (it's around $140 today) in 2004, the U.S. Energy Department said opening up sections of Alaska to drilling would lower the price of a barrel of oil by 50 cents.
In May the energy department issued another report on ANWR, calculating an peak of 780,000 barrels a day. The report, which is being used by Republicans to justify opening ANWR to drilling, nonetheless contains this sentence:
Consequently, ANWR oil production is not projected to have a large impact on world oil prices.
One has to be careful in predicting the price of gasoline. Just ask Nathan Schaffer, a manager of the group that tracks gasoline refining and marketing for PFC Energy, a consulting firm in Washington. About 18 months ago he figured if a barrel dropped below $50 a barrel, gas prices would drop to below $2. That prediction didn't work out so well.
In today's news conference, Bachmann presented Diane and Gary Baran, two Woodbury residents who described their concern about gas prices.
Who are the Barans? He was a 2006 delegate to the Republican State Convention and an early Bachmann supporter in her bid for Congress. Both are longtime Republican activists in the 6th District.
It's not unusual to display political supporters at a news conference. On the other hand, they'res not exactly the average man-on-the-street.(82 Comments)
The Minnesota Department of Human Services is out with its drug trend report in the Twin Cities today. Here's the bottom line:
Were we less hopeful when we -- that's the country we-- were younger? Or does it just seem that way because we don't know any better?
The question came to me today because of two unrelated conversations -- one online, and one on the radio.
First, Mitch Berg, who writes the Shot in the Dark blog, muses on the subject, recounting a conversation last Saturday with Star Tribune columnist James Lileks:
James and I were talking about how crushing pessimism was one of the dominant leitmotifs of American pop culture over the past fifty years. We also noted that next week's Minnesota Street Rod Association convention at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (at which the NARN will be broadcasting!) harkens back to an era when America was profoundly optimistic - where the sky, and beyond, was the limit. Cars were big, brawny, cheery and optimistic.
I noted, in contrast, that this is the face of the current American car-buying public (or at least the stereotype of it).
Mitch, one of the better writers in these parts, makes a compelling argument -- how can anyone lose an argument when a '65 Mustang is on your side? -- but it's this premise of optimism over the generations that I find intriguing (ignoring for now that the conversation was about optimism as reflected by popular culture).
If I were James Lileks, I'd riff now about the fact we know the drivers of yesteryear were optimistic because they didn't install seatbelts in their cars. They were that sure they weren't going to die in a flaming wreck. And then I'd link the beginning of our "pessimistic years" to the seat belt, and connect it to government interference. Somehow, I'd get around to the Corvair, because all important moments in the history of our nation should somehow relate to the Corvair.
But I'm not James Lileks, so I'll just point out that in the '50s we were so optimistic that we built bomb shelters because we were sure a nuclear holocaust was inevitable. Maybe it wasn't that we were optimistic about the future. Maybe we just lived like their was no tomorrow because we didn't think there'd be one. Or maybe we were optimistic because we thought we'd survive a nuclear holocaust merely by getting under our desks. What is that if not unbridled, blessed, don't-know-any-better optimism?
In the video above, we're told "even a newspaper can protect you in the event of an atomic bomb." Instinctively, I become more pessimistic. With the decline of the newspaper business, we are at the mercy of the bomb now.
I don't pretend to know whether we were more optimistic, or just naive back then. In my hometown, the paper companies dumped dye in the Nashua River and every morning we'd strain to see what fluorescent color our river was that day. Was that a sign of our optimistic generation? Or were we just stupid, as we were -- looking back -- when we thought nothing about pitching our litter out the window of our cool cars?
And that's what leads me to the unrelated related conversation today: MPR's Nikki Tundel's excellent segment with David Sedaris. It was a passing reference in a long conversation to the way we long for a time in the past... a time in which we did not live, but we miss it anyway.
"It's kind of like being all wistful about the Renaisance and the cool outfits you could've worn," Nikki says, "overlooking the Bubonic Plague and all the rats running around."
"When I was a teenager, I so wished I had lived in the 1940s, but then when you think about it, I would be on Iwo Jima. Or as a homosexual, I would have to be married. I couldn't live with Hugh unless I told people he was my cousin or something," Sedaris said.
The only people, possibly, who can adequately compare our optimistic nature as a country, are those who lived both in the '50s and are still alive in 2008.
But we're all qualified to consider whether we're optimistic now. The quick reaction is to cite war, environmental concerns, the economy, and the Minnesota Timberwolves and conclude that we are not optimistic. And yet, there's evidence we are. In the '50s, a diagnosis of cancer was a death sentence. Now people are more likely to ask, "what are my treatment options?" before they'd ask "how long have I got?" What is that if not optimism?
So, think about it for a few minutes and then comment below. Are you optimistic.