Saturday, August 30, 2008

Scenes from the Democratic Convention

Hey Folks --

Yes, I was in Denver. Pretty amazing. I was, however, in town earning a paycheck -- you know, the day job. I had hoped to blog from the Mile High City, and I did -- but for work, not for ZR, much to my disappointment. I plan to do a blog about my experiences there, hopefully, but in the meantime I thought these photos would give you a taste of the truly historic 2008 Democratic National Convention.


Celebrities were all over Denver. Actress Eva Longoria talked to the DNC's Women's Caucus about the importance of turning out the Latino vote.

Actress Fran Drescher of "The Nanny" told the Women's Caucus, "A black man is running for president and women and Latinos are the deciding vote. It's a world gone mad -- and it's about time!"

Hillary Clinton addresses her biggest fans at Tuesday's enormous EMILY's List after noon reception -- it was sold out and the hottest ticket in town that day.

Michelle Obama pays homage to the women of EMILY's List, the largest Political Action Committee in the country, period. She's new to the List, but they loved her. The fact that she kicked serious ass on Monday night at the Pepsi Center didn't hurt, either.

The party faithful at the Pepsi Center welcome Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night. They needed to be revived after the deadly dull keynote from former Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA), now a Senate candidate. Actually, it was Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) who was the MVP -- he stole the show until Hillary walked out. Warner was a dumb choice from the beginning.

Hillary hits it out of the ballpark, with a speech that takes care of the business of party unity and delights the crowd waving signs with her distinctive signature. I know it was hard, girlfriend, but you did it well.

Bill Clinton rocked the house on Wednesday night. While he called himself the warm up act for VEEP nominee Joe Biden, the Man from Hope is never a sideshow. He went well over his 10 minutes and speakers had to be bumped to the next night, but who gives a crap??

Joe Biden officially accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination. He talked about how he'd been bullied as a kid, and how his mom would send him back out to "bloody their noses so I could walk down the street the next day." The screenshot of his mom saying to her neighbor, "That's true! I did!" was priceless.

Howard Dean pays homage to the second Women's Caucus meeting on Thursday morning. As well he should, given how much the Democrats rely on women's votes to win elections. Dean talked about how pleased he was with how Wednesday night had went. "Even John Kerry did well," said Dean. Gee, Howard, still chewing on those sour grapes? Course, if Kerry had been has fiery four years ago as he was in Denver, history might have been different.

Longtime progressive women's advocate Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) brought down the house at Thursday's Women's Caucus. On Tuesday, by the way, it was Donna Brazile who was the caucus MVP -- best speech I've ever heard Donna give; she announced that she had signed the petition putting Clinton's name into nomination. Brazile said she did it for Shirley Chisholm, for Barbara Jordan, and for Stephanie Tubbs-Jones -- the Cleveland-based representative and vocal Hillary supporter who just died last week.

John Oliver of "The Daily Show" was on hand at Invesco Field on Thursday afternoon, working the crowd and gathering all the "hard" news for John Stewart. :)

Various musical guests played at Invesco Field between the political speechmaking. It really felt like one massive pep rally. Sheryl Crow, Micheal McDonald, and John Legend and Will.I.Am singing "Yes We Can."
It had been rumored that Springsteen would play that night but, alas, those rumors were false.

The feeling at Invesco Field was electric. Flags, signs, face paint, dancing and music. Despite 3-4 hours in line to make it through three rings of security, the crowd was primed for the main event.

Sen. Barack Obama officially accepts the Democratic nomination to be President of the United States, with a speech that was both accessible about his plans and more sharply critical of his opponent than in the past -- which I, for one, welcomed. No swiftboating allowed this time without an equal response, dammit.

Confetti and fireworks flew over Invesco Field at the conclusion of Obama's speech. Since it was outdoor, the obligatory balloon drop was out. It was the cap to a festive and historic night. Forty-five after MLK's famous "I have a Dream" speech, the first black candidate of a major political party accepted the nomination in front of the largest crowd to ever witness such an event.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

For the Women's Community, Joe Biden's a Good Choice

The wait is over. The text messages have been sent. The pundits have been proven wrong -- or right, depending on how they called it. The breaking news is in, the press conference held -- Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware is the chosen one to stand beside Barack Obama and lead this country back from the brink to which Bush & Co. have pushed us.

Lord knows we've all had plenty of time to think about what this choice would mean, what it's impact might be. This build up to this announcement has been at times both masterful and irritating. All of the folks reportedly on the short list were analyzed by the pundit world right down to their toenails. There's no need to regurgitate that -- though personally, I just have to say I am glad it's not Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), who's about as exciting as licking a wall. But I digress.

So let me look at this from a different perspective. From a key constituency where some folks are still not completely enamored with Barack Obama. Given that a Hillary Veep nomination was a nonstarter, I think for the women's community -- and Hilliary supporters specifically -- Biden is a good choice. NOW's website trumpeted the news of Biden's selection with the headline: "Obama Chooses VAWA Champion as Running Mate." The press release stresses that Biden is a good friend to women and a strong choice. While NOW doesn't necessarily speak for the entire women's community, the press seems to think they do and they are a bell weather in many respects -- so this immediate embrace of a Biden candidacy is a good omen.

Biden himself has always been proud of his work on women's issues, and violence against women in particular. "What I'm most proud of in my entire career is the Violence Against Women Act," Biden said in a quote from his web site. "It showed we can change people's lives, but the change is always one person at a time. There are many more laws and attitudes that need changing so women are treated with equal opportunities at work, in the classroom, and in our health care system."

Biden is clearly pro-choice, not afraid to vote against right-wing judicial nominees, and has also long been a vocal supporter of Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities. He's also taken a keen interest in the fight against breast cancer. These are all key issues for those Hillary supporters who might still be on the fence, or if not on the fence still not completely happy campers. The familiarity of Biden, a man women's advocates fought with in the trenches for more than a decade to get the Violence Against Women Act passed, could be just the salve any lingering wounds might need.
Biden has a 100 percent voting record with the American Association of University Women. The group has voting records on their site back to 1981, and it's hard to find a Congress where he hasn't been right on just about all the votes they scored. Not always perfect -- but typically 90 percent and often 100 percent, consistently, on the broad range of women's issues the AAUW scores. This should also reassure women who are looking for an administration that will not just take their concerns seriously, but make addressing them a priority.

"He's brought change to Washington, Washington hasn't changed him," said Obama in introducing him at the Springfield press conference today. And that's probably true. Biden's blunt, hates bullshit, and will go after John McCain and the Straight Talk Express with unmistakable relish. Yes, folks, people want to have a beer with Joe Biden. These "everyman" qualities could be a good foil for Obama's more deliberate, thoughtful, inspirational approach. And let's just be clear -- Biden's a helluva campaigner.

My one worry about the Biden choice is this: it will be viewed by many as a clear admission on the part of the Obama Camp that the junior senator from Illinois is so unprepared to lead -- especially in the area of foreign policy -- that Obama had to go find a ringer to help him out. It will be up to Obama himself to prove this wrong.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Jilted by John Edwards

I've been stewing about the John Edwards fiasco. Stewing, fuming, bitching. Many of you know I was an Edwards Girl. I fell for his shtick -- hook, line and sinker. And this blog may seem oddly timed, given the fact that the country seems to be on collective pins and needles waiting for news about Barack Obama's running mate. But really, it's those circumstances combined with the looming Denver convention that crystallized things for me. While I didn't really think Edwards was up for another VP dash, I did think he might have an opportunity to play a meaningful role in an Obama Administration. Yeah, not so much.

John Edwards has been revealed to be like so many other powerful men -- he couldn't or wouldn't keep it zipped when temptation crossed his path. Yeah, yeah, there are no choir boys in politics -- and there's clearly no shortage of powerful men of all political stripes who are congenitally unable to resist a pretty face.

As I've said before, it almost seems like some kind of rite of passage -- a macho power trip to prove to themselves they're such hot shit that the regular rules no longer apply. Edwards himself confirmed this hubris, saying part of the reason for his horrible, disappointing lapse was -- well, cuz he could. Because running for president put him on such a nifty ego trip, it warped his perspective. Wow. That's great. Wonderful. And he was a serious candidate for president? I feel betrayed, and I'm not even his wife.

It's amazing to me that Edwards apparently had not figured out the fundamental axiom of modern politics: once you run, you can't hide. Despite all the clear lessons that had come before him -- Edwards thought he was different, that he wouldn't get caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Hypocrites just plain piss me off. Especially self-righteous hypocrites. But with Edwards, it goes one step further -- I feel jilted.

Why, you might ask? It's not simply that I was an Edwards fan. Or that I have enormous respect for his wife, his terminally-ill wife, who sure as hell deserves better. It's that the real John Edwards has been at last been revealed -- and shown to be a man who didn't just cheat on his wife, but who also has proven himself more than willing to throw us all to the wolves.

Imagine this scenario if you will: say Edwards had won the nomination. Clearly he ran for the presidency again, knowing he had this kind of campaign-choking skeleton in his closet. Edwards didn't come clean to start his second campaign with a clean slate -- nope, he decided to hide his bad behavior and lack of judgement. And in making that conscious decision to keep living a lie rather than make his mea culpa, Edwards was willing to take a serious risk -- not just with his own political ambitions but with the future of the entire country -- on the fact that the emperor's new clothes would not be revealed until after he was in the White House. At that point, I guess he thought he would simply work to rehabilitate himself -- a la Bill Clinton.

What a breathtaking gamble. If Edwards had come out on top in this extraordinary primary year, and things had played out on the same timeline, Democrats would have had the earth fall from under their feet just a few weeks before their convention. Edwards was willing to risk four or even eight more years of Republican destruction in order to pursue his own single-minded goal.

The scope of his hubris is amazing. With all that was at stake -- with an economy on the brink, an ill-conceived war draining our coffers and our spirits, with decades of progress on civil and women's rights at risk, with an environment literally gasping for help -- Edwards was willing to sacrifice us all on the alter of his vanity. Aside from the clear moral deficiencies Edwards exhibited in terms of his personal relationships, it is this grand selfishness and lack of vision that I find most disappointing -- and most unsettling in someone I had wanted to see in the White House.

So as the excitment swirls around the Obama Veep-stakes, for me, there is definitely a bittersweet tinge of what might have been -- and what's been irrevocably lost in a man who used to be a hero to so many.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.