Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Feeling Different?

I hope it's not just me, but that Mr. Obama has turned some sort of corner. Maybe the 1-2-3 punch is: route in South Carolina, endorsement by Caroline Kennedy and Ted Kennedy (read the NY Times piece by Caroline if you haven't) and Edwards dropping out.

I think Hillary is a smart cookie and a tough campaigner, but I think there are at least four reasons we must choose Obama over Hillary to have a chance at winning in November. They are interconnected, but yet at least arguably distinct:

1. No Dynasties/Clinton Fatigue. There are no dynasties or royalty in American politics. We've got more political families in the U.S. than Bush and Clinton. I think the Democrats are weary of the Clintons and won't be enthusasitic supporters in the general election. We can't afford not to have a juiced up Democratic base, because....

2. No uniting the Republicans. Related to number one, the Republicans are in disarray and disappointed with their field. The best (only?) shot they have of uniting and getting energized is clear: we nominate Hillary. And Barack will get some, if not a lot, of crossover votes, more than enough to compensate for those who won't vote for a black man. Were they ever going to vote Dem anyway? And especially for Hillary?

3. Yesterday's Politics. The Clinton way is to divide and polarize. Slice and dice the electorate. Get some votes by alienating some in the hopes that you'll attract more (net) than you drive away. Yes, the Republicans are the Zen masters of this art and perfected it with Atwater and Rove. People seem ready to turn the page I think, and this strategy may backfire. I loved Bill because he could "play the game" right with the Republicans; it was fun having someone who could hand them their hat from a purely political point of view. Sort of like trading for that big home run hitter. You love it when he belts one out for your side, but deep inside you also don't like what it does to the rest of your team; when Ozzie starts swinging for the fences and pops weakly to left center (instead of knocking the slap opposite field single and stealing second), you know you're cooked.

4. Billary. Bill may be quiet going in to Super Tuesday. But at some point he'll enter the stage again. And if Hillary gets elected, Bill is going to be involved in everything trying to burnish his own legacy and do everything he didn't get a chance to in the first eight years ("Hillary who?" he'll say). He did some great things (and was Abe Lincoln and George Washington rolled in to one compared with the current occupant of the White House), but I just think a co-presidency cannot actually be good in this instance. And I don't doubt that's exactly what it will be--when I was typing this entry, I typed "... if he gets elected...", and I was really thinking of it that way--that we'd be re-electing Bill. Enough already.

So let's all chant: Fired up! Ready to go!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Count or Duke?

I've been asked for sample snippets to assist with the latest poll. (Ella won the last poll soundly, for those keeping score at home.)

You get the essence I think of Count Basie's swing with this rendition of Corner Pocket from 1962:

Harder to generally characterize the Duke sound, but here's a clip of the great "Take the A Train" that purports to be from the early '40s:

Great playing, although not concert footage, obviously. Duke's group had a fatter sound, although I'm not completely satisfied that I've captured the contrast well enough.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Obama II

Well, the first paragraph of my January 7 blog entry was correct--just was a little early, meant to say it was correct for South Carolina. I just don't think the nation is ready for Billary II. Paraphrasing something I read attributed to The Nation, the Clintons are high minded on the surface but smarmy underneath. It is too bad because each of Bill and Hillary have extraordinary gifts and talents. But they each have inner demons that they apparently cannot control (especially Bill).

How does a McCain/Obama race in o8 stack up?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

No-one Knows Anything

I think the conventional wisdom is that a long primary brawl hurts the Republicans, and the Dems are in better shape because they'll have relative stability. I heard Newt Gingrich say he was not sure that was the case, citing 1992 as a good example. George HW Bush had it sewn up and Bill Clinton had a very messy path to the nomination and was in third place (behind Bush and Perot) in May (maybe June even) in 1992. But then he of course won the whole thing. I don't think a nutty primary process will hurt the Republicans as much as people think. Although if they nominate a nutty candidate that might be a different story. I know some really die hard Republicans who are very dismayed at one or more of the significant GOP candidates.

Bottom line, the pundits can't figure this one out. They'll say as much, but then inevitably go on to to explain what is going to happen in any event.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ella or Sarah?

In case clarification is needed on the recent poll: Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan. (The correct answer is: why pick?)

See them together (with Pearl Bailey); although well past their prime, worth a view:

It is not apparent from that clip, however, how unique their respective singing styles were. Here are two clips that are fairly representative of how great they each were and yet how different their styles were.

Ella struts her stuff on Mack the Knife in 1965:

See my initial post about Ella's version of Mack the Knife with the Duke Ellington big band. That version is available on iTunes; just punch in "Ella Duke Mack the Knife" on the search and up it comes. The whole album is available, but you can also just buy that track for a mere $0.99.

Sarah with My Funny Valentine in 1981:

Sharon and I saw the wonderful Ms. Vaughan in the late 1980s at the Blue Note in New York. Magic.

Monday, January 7, 2008


Saw in passing on CSPAN Barack in New Hampshire Friday night and Saturday morning, addressing crowds. Also saw the victory speech Thursday evening from Iowa. His oratory skills are very spectacular. I think he is going to quickly wrap this thing up--when I saw those NH speeches I thought it was all but over. He's always been great, although I don't know that he has been as consistently spectacular as he is now. I think those double-digit poll leads posted either last night or this morning are going to hold.

I don't think that Huckabee is going to be easy to get rid of. He won't win New Hampshire, but since Romney will be cooked in 36 hours, it's going to make that field better for Reverend H. I guess McCain will still be around to challenge, don't think Rudy has a legit shot (too little too late?), but that Huckabee is sneaky good. I still think though that not believing in evolution should be an automatic disqualification for that office. But I guess it's not.