Blogs > Skoop's Blog

In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ditch The Gas Tax?

The price of gas is coming down.  How about a plan to lop another 19 cents off a gallon of petrol?
   That recommendation will be released next week after a special infrastructure task force puts a ribbon on its "menu of ideas" for raising the moola to fix the roads.
   Scrapping the gas tax because it is no longer working will be, on the surface, a popular political move, but.  And there is always a but.
    The gas tax would be replaced with a percentage fee that would be tacked onto each fuel purchase.  The group has not discussed what figure that should be, but dollars to donuts it will replace most, if not all, of the road dollars lost by eliminating the fuel tax.
    There is speculation that motorists might end up with a net savings of a few pennies, but don't put them in your piggy bank just yet.
    The road building lobby, which has renamed itself the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, is always on the prowl for more money which is why it and others will also embrace a local tax option, toll roads, higher license and driver registration fees and who knows what all.
     "We need a comprehensive solution," notes one industry lobbyist. Comprehensive is a fancy word for "lots" of revenue as the road guys want at least a billion more in cash during year one and another two billion after that.
      Of course to do all this requires votes from state lawmakers.  And once the election is safely out of the way, those folks will wander back into town and may vote on some of this stuff.
      One fly in the ointment however.  After last year's tax hike, there are some who believe the state is in no mood to do it again. Suffice it to say the road lobby won't concur.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blizzard Question

               How would you answer the blizzard question?
               You know, would you go out in a blizzard to vote for the candidate of your choice?
                How you answer helps to quantify the degree of passion you have for that person.  If you would not go out, your passion is pretty low but if you would, you obviously are a committed supporter.
                Somebody half jokingly noted the other day that John McCain's best hope next Tuesday is for a snowstorm or a down pour that might depress the Democratic turnout.  In reality it is McCain who is at risk if the winds blow and the snow piles up.
                That's because Barack Obama has tapped into the passion vein more so than John McCain. Just count noses at their respective rallies in these dying days.
                 Yet for the D's there is this underlying paranoia, fear, call it what you will, that complacency could set in between now and Tuesday.
                 "I never sleep until the election is over," notes Debbie Dingell a top tier democrat whose job it is to deliver Michigan for her party.
                 Republicans, on the other hand, are a bit anxious that their troops, deflated with McCain abruptly left the state, will stay home whether the sun shines or the snows blow.
                 With 98% of the state's voters signed up to vote, Michigan could set a record for turnout…depending on the weather and the degree of passion in the electorate.
                 What would you do in a blizzard?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Too Littier--Too Later

       Realizing, as Yogi said, "It ain't over 'til it's over," let's just assume that John McCain loses this thing next week and the pundits will then go to work to tell you why.
        Fact is the analysis can be done right now:  McCain pulled a DeVos.
        You remember Dick DeVos.  He had everything going for him when he challenged Jennifer Granholm two years ago. But she won by 14 points because DeVos could never get out from under one issue---China.
         Granholm and company wrapped up DeVos in the notion that he was shipping jobs off to China. Of course the charge was a distortion, but hey, in politics what's wrong with a little distortion?
         John McCain meet Dick DeVos.  From the opening gun in his bid, McCain was joined at the hip to George W. Bush and the democrats refused to separate the political Siamese Twins.  And by the time McCain found the right scalpel to do it himself, it was too late.
         "If you wanted to run against George Bush," and exasperated McCain finally lectured his opponent in the last debate, "you should have run against him four years ago."
          Too little, too late.
          Then just days before the election, McCain made another stab at it.  He told audiences that both he and Barack Obama had disagreements with Mr. Bush.
           Too littlier, too later.
           By the time McCain figured out what to say, the dye was cast.  When voters looked at him, they saw Mr. Bush.
           And if McCain loses, even state GOP chair Saul Anuzis concedes, "The democrats did a very good job of tying McCain to George Bush."
           How good a job?
           We'll know in one week.

Monday, October 27, 2008


      Seems like most common folk have had enough of this election stuff and would vote yesterday to end it if they could. In that light then, a blog that has nothing to do with the Big O or the two mavericks.
       This may come as a shock to you, but the political game is filled with "users" who are both politicians and journalists and no one seems to care.
       Governors routinely use journalists to advance their agenda and journalists gladly comply because governors usually make news.
       Perhaps the best example of "usury" is noted barrister Geoffrey Fieger.  How many times has this guy said he was "thinking" about running for Mayor of Detroit, or State Attorney General, or who knows what all? Each time he opens his yap, reporters know it's just hype but they jump on it anyway because Fieger is good copy.
       So while sitting in a daylong seminar the other day lo and behold the using thing was discussed. An author from Detroit, James Hunter who has sold over 2.5 million books on leadership, laid this story on the audience.
       As Hunter tells it, Southwest Airlines takes potential new hires to lunch not as a friendly gesture but to see how they treat the wait staff.  If they are gruff and impolite, they don't get the job.
      Leadership, Hunter argues, is "How you treat people who can't do anything for you."
       What a great line and what a great way to live life.
       Unfortunately in politics, no one will ever live by that rule because sources and reporters only talk to one another because they get something out of it.
       Maybe in another life, everyone will come back as a social worker and then the using will stop.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Shout Out Tradition

   The MSU-Michigan game is a deeply embedded tradition in our state.  A recent book on all the states, talks about it at great length as one family is pitted against another as the Green and White denounce the Go Blue crowd and vice versa.
    Years ago there was another tradition associated with the game that amounted to an instant political poll on the popularity of our governor.
    Each game at half time, the governor, who could not sit on both sides of the field at the same time, walked across the field to the other side, just to be fair to both teams.  It was that walk across the gridiron that produced the instant poll.
    You did not have to be George Gallop to determine if the cheers outweighed the boos.  It was often embarrassing for the governor but great theatre for the slugs in the political press corps who could hardly wait to write, "Governor Faces Catcalls on Stroll at Big House."   
    Despite those pitfalls, Gov. Soapy Williams walked. Gov George Romney walked and so did Gov. Bill Milliken.  But then one year out of nowhere, the walking stopped.
     The aforementioned slugs inquired.
     Security came back as the answer.
      Think about it.  The governor was the proverbial sitting duck as he strolled one sideline to the other. It only took one nut in the crowd to do the unthinkable. Recall in 1963, it had happened several times with a president, civil rights leader and a would-be president.
      So the tradition itself was killed, but the governor and his  staff must have been relieved on the political front, too.  No one wants to hear disapproving shout outs.
       But we still have opening day with the Tigers which is exactly why Jennifer Granholm has been a no show for several years.  Gonna guess she doesn't like booing either.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Memories of Engler as governor deals with Detroit

    Former Gov. John Engler, six years out of office, is still 
impacting the current governor. 
     First, he left her an unmanageable deficit, but then every outgoing governor does that.
     Second, while she never wanted to be like John Engler, many have concluded she does have the guts, savvy, and negotiating skills to even be in the same room with the Big Guy.
     Third, Engler was not afraid to take on the City of Detroit and that legacy is now fresh in Gov. Jennifer Granholm's head.
     Back in 1994, Engler engineered legislation to abolish the Detroit School Board and installed a "reform" board of his own. 
     Granholm is now in the same Detroit School board boat and is
 very very sensitive…thanks to what Engler did. She does not want to stir up the emotions of Detroiters, but yet she has to do something to erase a whooping $400 million deficit if the local board can't.  
      Because it has not, the Granholm administration has sent in a review team to document the red ink and work with the local board to sop up the ink.  But here's the rub, if that can't be ironed out in 30 days, the State School Superintendent Mike Flanagan will have to appoint a money manager to run the school's finances.
      With fond memories of the Engler takeover in her mind, Gov. Jennifer Granholm reminded reporters she won't do that.
      In fact, a press aide suggested, "We are not using the takeover word."
      The governor says if she and Flanagan have to assign an emergency manager it will be at the invitation of the local board.  It will be a "partnership," Granholm emphasizes to avoid any link to the Engler past.
      "I understand the racial overtones," explains Flanagan as he expresses hope the local board can solve its own problem without state intersession.
     Having just interjected herself into the Kwame Kilpatrick mess as judge and jury, Granholm does not want to pull another Engler on the good folks in Motown. 
     Read her lips…this is not a takeover.



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gov Won't Make Promise

    Every time the governor ventures out on the stump for Barack Obama, she returns to heightened speculation that if he's elected, she may venture out for good.
     Given a chance to say she would not take a post in a new Obama administration and put an end to the endless speculating, Gov. Jennifer Granholm demurred.
     The question was straightforward, "Will you promise you won't take a job if offered?"
     The answer was not so straightforward.
     "I want to be governor when we have a president that's focused on our issue," she warmed up the fog machine.
       Ah, that was an answer but not to the question asked.
       "I can't get you to say anything other than that?"
        "I want to be governor when we have a president that's focused on our issues," she stayed on message while beginning to smile every so slightly as she picked up the pace to the waiting SUV.
         "You could be governor for a year and then you could leave?"
         Great follow up, hey?
         Now instead of the "I want to be governor" malarkey, the governor gets in the SUV, grabs a back seat and her security guy closes the door with her laughing inside.
         End of interview.
         But not the end of the speculation…not by a long shot.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pick An Adjective Take 2

   As advertised here a couple of days ago, here ya go with another installment of pick the adjective to describe the two guys running for El Presidente.
    Remember a group of highly skilled professionals were given the assignment and after they took the hatchet to Joe Biden and Sarah the Hockey Mom, here's what they did to Barack Obama and John McCain.
    Hands down, the most used adjective to describe McCain guessed it, "old."
    The rest of the folks went with boring, unsteady, staid, inconsistent, confused and angry.  Apparently nobody had heard him called a grumpy old man.
    On the plus side, McCain was viewed as patriotic, a leader, the old stand by maverick, veteran and experienced.
    Obama was an empty suit to one, socialist to another, scary to a third and phony.
     Compared to McCain, he scored more positive points: exciting, smooth, confident, inspirational, young, energy, presidential (he'd like that one) and skilled orator.
     Several felt he was inexperienced.
     Of course this very unscientific survey means very little but here's one that should give both camps some food for thought.  Scholastic magazine ran a mock election for school kids and Obama won going away.
      The kids have picked the winner a vast majority of the time.  McCain hopes they didn't this time.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ancient History

         With zero money to wage an air war, the opponents of the so-called medical marijuana ballot proposal are trying to gobble up all the free media they can get, but some ancient history has surfaced that could give some ammo to the other side.
         A state Senate Concurrent Resolution from March of 1982 has surfaced in which a handful of lawmakers not only embrace the use of "marihuana for legitimate medical purposes," but they urge the federal government to stop blocking those state efforts.
          And here's the kicker.  One of the co-sponsors is the modern day daddy of the state GOP…none other than John Engler!
          Sure enough.  There is Engler's name along with six other co-sponsors of the resolution.
           One current backer of Proposal One says he is "shocked" that the Republican Party has "completely abandoned the John Engler legacy."
            The 1982 resolution argues, "Scientific and medical studies show marihuana to be of medical value in the treatment of glaucoma" and in easing the pain from certain cancer treatments.
             The coalition currently pushing for a no vote claims the plan is flawed and will have a "dangerous impact on our kids and communities."
             And just in case the Engler endorsement shows up in an ad, the anti-grass side will likely argue things are different now than in 1982 and perhaps Engler made a mistake.
             Somebody needs to ask the former gov. if he has changed his mind.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Be Yourself

        Remember the old TV show "To Tell The Truth?"  For you "young'ins" out there, three folks would show up each professing to be the "real" somebody or other and after a panel tried to ferret out the two imposters, the real somebody stood up.
        If John McCain played the same game today, it's really unclear which McCain would stand up.
        Having interviewed this guy only twice in the last eight years, one can hardly profess to know who the real John McCain is, but not knowing him means we can only judge him on what we see.
        First there is the combative John McCain; the take no hostages, hair trigger temper, abandon all caution and go for the win no matter what persona.  That is the McCain the D's call erratic, dangerous, and what McCain calls his Maverick image.
        Then you have the consummate bipartisan deal maker who formed the gang of 14 in the U.S. Senate to resolve a nasty inter party war over George W. Bush judicial appointments.  With McCain leading the way, the D's and R's joined hands in the best traditional of molding a compromise and the logjam was broken.
         And yet a third and very likeable McCain who showed up at a New York City fundraiser recently with his opponent and proceeded to charm the audience with his wit, self-deprecating humor that brought the house down.
         "I get the sense that in this New York audience there are some of you who really want to see me win. (pause for comic effect)  "Thank you Hillary" as he cast an eye on Ms. Clinton.
          So which of the three would stand up in the game show?
          Which one could beat Barack Obama?
          The real John McCain is all of those personas but unfortunately his handlers hid the real guy from the electorate, which violated the first real of politics, "Be yourself."
          Ask Al Gore.  Being somebody he was not, didn't work for him either.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Brain-Dead and Jerk

      On the rubber chicken circuit to keep the audience awake, members are asked to take out a piece of paper and a pencil, which immediately sends them back to elementary school when those words meant test.  Instead they are asked to write the names, Obama, McCain, Palin and Biden and then are told to write one adjective under each name to describe the quartet.
       The results are always illuminating and funny and to prove it take a gander at these goodies taken from a roomful of highly skilled professionals.  As they used to say on Dragnet, the name of the group is changed to protect the innocent.
       Of course they had the most fun with Sarah Palin, the "I can see Russia from my backyard" GOP V.P. pick.
       The responses started with train wreck and degenerated from there to include: stupid, scary, insecure, annoying, redneck, uninformed and brain-dead .  Ouch.
        There apparently were some R's in the joint as they noted she was dynamic, refreshing, folksy (you betya), charismatic, energetic, and ?.
        If there was a trend line it had to do with her appearance as one person called her a hottie, another cute, and a third beautiful.  Gonna guess those were all guys.
        Somewhat surprisingly her seasoned opponent Mr. Biden took some hits too beginning with old fart and going down from there: bone head, verbose, jerk, indiscreet, stiff, strange, non-trustworthy, tainted, and non-existent, whatever that means.
        On the up side, several noted his experience with one calling him a senate warrior, and another felt he was steady.
        But one concl usion from the informal survey, the majority of folks didn't like either one albeit for different reasons but being called brain-dead and a jerk are not terms of endearment.
         In another blog, the findings on the two big guys. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

So Long Joe Six Pack

     You had to wonder as the third and final debate for president unfolded, how many folks were watching the Phils and the Dodgers in their playoff game?
      At least at the end of that thing, there was a clear winner.  The same could not be said for the match-up between Barack Obama and John McCain.
       Oh sure the GOP self-described underdog got in some good zingers, but if he laid a glove on Obama, you'd need a magnifying class to find it.
       Unfortunately viewers who skipped the ballgame got a rehash of earlier debates. The two guys still disagree on health care, the role of government in solving problems and who has the nastier commercials.
       Obama did get one thing right i.e. the American people are not interested in the "tit for tat and=2 0the back and forth" of who is attacking whom. Unfortunately political reporters love that stuff which is why it gets so much media play.
       Debate moderator Bob Schieffer almost had the question of the night but seemingly blew it when he raised the issue of those campaign attacks.  Instead of asking the two to comment on the ad contents, he should have asked if they wanted to apologize for some of the unkind and perhaps untruthful statements made in the ads.
       We did learn one thing .  The days of Joe Six Pack appear to be over as he has been replaced by Joe the Plummer who apparently has a better talent agent than the other Joe.
        McCain, trying to appeal to the blue collar little guy, used Joe to explain how Obama's policies would hurt him, but Obama concluded two can play that pandering game as he addressed Joe the Plummer, too.
        Wonder if good ole boy Joe was watching the ball game?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cockrel gets an audition

Rarely does a politician get an audition for a job he or she
wants. Count Ken Cockrel Jr. as one lucky guy.
With the demise of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatarick, Cockrel has
his audition and will be on stage until February when a special
primary election will be held to pick candidates to fill out
Kilpatrick's term until November of 2009.
Others would love to be in the spotlight to prove they can do
the job, but they will have to sit idly by while Cockrel either kills
'em dead or falls on his face. So far, it is the former as reflected
in an early poll.
The Denno-Noor survey for the MIRS newsletter and the Rossman
Group gives Cockrel the early lead with 27% of the vote. Coming up
the backcourt, is former Piston star Dave Bing with 15%. He is
followed by Freeman Hendrix who was supposed to beat Kilpatrick last
time out. He's at 6% and followed by Southfield attorney Geoff Feiger
at 5%. The rest of the enormous field has even lower numbers.
Cockrel is enjoying a honeymoon right now based mostly on the
fact that he is the antithesis of Kilpatrick. Cockrel will have to do
more than that to win the role for good, and he's gotten good marks
on assembling a new team that is also everything that Kilpatrick's
team was not.
One of his early tests will come in Lansing, where he will show
up after the November election. He needs financial help from the
state to expand Cobo Hall and he'll need money from stingy lawmakers
for the Detroit Crime lab that he recently turned over to the
Michigan State Police.
He'll get a helping hand on Cobo, but could get a hand in the
face on state taxpayers footing part of the bill for the crime lab.
Everyone will evaluate how Cockrel does on breaking down that anti-
Detroit sentiment which he acknowledges is alive and well in the
state capitol. That could be the toughest challenge of his rare

Monday, October 13, 2008

Stem Cell Money Hunt

         Michigan has a rich history of ballot proposals. Since 1963, some 67 constitutional amendments have gone before the voters.
         Years ago if a group could scrap together two to four million dollars; it had a shot at passing its proposal.  Those days are loooong gone, as Ernie Harwell use to say.
          With the cost of TV advertising leading the way, the folks pushing a yes vote on Proposal 2 would love to have $12 million but would settle for half that amount. They are not there yet, and may not get there which means expanding embryonic research is in trouble.
          Nobody on the anti-side will release their budget figures either, but it's a pretty good bet that Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference will open up their check books to make sure their message gets into your ears.  And don 't forget the age-old axiom of ballot plans, it is easier to cultivate a "no" vote than it is to explain why you should vote yes.
          In other states where this stem cell plan has been approved, it's been the results of one benefactor making a huge contribution to push the issue over the top.  So far that has not happened here with the proponents, but there is hope that financier Alfred Taubman will do that.
          He gave $22 million to the University of Michigan the other day, but will he do it again on stem cells?  He has already loaned the group $1.5 million but that is not the same as donating another 10.
          You'll know if that happens because the number of TV commercials will rise dramatically, but the clock is ticking on that and with each tock, the chances of passing stem cell research goes down.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Game Changer

     Popular wisdom is often wrong in politics, but this time it is dead on right:  If John McCain has even a whimper of a hope of winning this thing, he needs a game changer.
     Going into the last debate this week there is one sitting out there, but it's unclear if McCain's brain trust, which has been short on brains recently, may miss it.
     So here it is…an apology.
     Picture the opening moments of the final debate.
     McCain does the gratuitous thank to the commission for sponsoring the debate and thanks his ole buddy and moderator Bob Schieffer for showing up and then he slowly pivots to look his opponent in the eyes and begins.
     "Before we get into t his exchange, I want to look you in the eyes Barack and apologize…apologize for a number of things.  First you are not "that one" as I incorrectly referred to you the other night.  Secondly, you've probably heard that at my rallies, some of my avid supporters have encouraged me to take you on, take the gloves off, and hit you with the Bill Ayers stuff.  I will not.  That has nothing to do with this contest and on behalf of my supporters; I apologize for them and the commercials they've been running.  And, finally, I did stand up for you the other day when someone called you an Arab.  I said it then and repeat it here now; you are a decent American and a patriotic man who loves his country as much as I do.  And my friend, it's been an honor to debate you and with this hand shake, I promise you, if you win I will be there to help you lead, just as I know deep in my heart that if I win, you and Michelle will be there for Cindy and me as well.  (Hand shake and hug.)
        Independent voters who will determine the winner have been leaving McCain in droves. They would suddenly stop and reevaluate.  They love candidates who have the stature to admit a mistake and they might even believe that McCain really was a maverick if he did it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

State Vs. Detroit City Council

      Michigan government has a rich and sordid history of sticking its nose into the business of Detroit.  Years ago then Gov. John Engler engineered, as only he could do, the abolishment of the Detroit School Board and replaced it with state appointees.  The experiment flopped.
       Recently another governor named Granholm took on the role of judge and jury and before the verdict was in, the Mayor of Detroit resigned.  Her move worked.
       Now comes the democratically controlled Michigan House with its political eye on Motown one more time.  This time the objective is to change the method of electing the Detroit City Council.  Suffice it to say the current council won't like this one iota.
       We know that because for years the idea of scrapping the so-called at large system in favor of a ward system has been beaten back by the council.
       But House D's will try after the November election to add more accountability by making city council members run in seven wards instead of being elected by the whole city.
       City council members, the theory goes, who screw up under the current system are difficult to un-elect because lots of folks have to vote them out of office. If they run in smaller wards, the number is reduced dramatically.
       So as if the city doesn't have enough challenges, this legislative move will open up another as the Detroit legislative caucus and friends fight the local council which will wave the local control flag while again telling Lansing to stick its nose some place else.
       A guy to watch in all this is the new mayor.  Does Ken Cockrel, Jr. side with the council from whence he came or with the legi slature to which he must go for financial support.
       This could get nasty.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Open Blog to COPD

       To the Commission on Presidential Debates: Thank you for sponsoring these debates.  Now ditch that lousy format you used on Tuesday night.  It was awful.
        If you had never heard a word from Barack Obama or John McCain over the last six months, you loved this town hall format, because all you got was an extended version of their TV commercials and their stump speeches.  Blah, blah, blah.
        If you have been up to speed on their rhetoric, some differences did emerge but they were few and far between and neither gentleman did much to advance their cause.  McCain needed a game changer. If he had one, he left it in the locker room.
       If you were a journalist, you were pretty much bored to tears and frustrated at the same time.  A format that allows common folks, God love 'em, to ask questions sounds very American. But the quality of the questions was weak at best and only allowed the candidates to segue into what they wanted to say.
       The most frustrated guy in the room was Tom Brokaw, the veteran NBC moderator. Reporters get paid to ask tough questions, to do follow up questions, and to hold candidates tootsies to the fire.  He got to do none of that. He tried but the format rules tied his hands.  He was reduced to a glorified timekeeper and he didn't do a bang up job on that either.
       Blame the two campaigns for this.  They negotiated the rules and there is one objective in doing so: Reduce the chances of your guy making a mistake.  The rules worked perfectly for Obama and McCain.  Not so perfect for the ele ctorate which got warmed over sound bites for ninety minutes.
       For the final debate, it would be great if they took health care, taxes, Iraq, energy, and pork barrel spending off the agenda.
       Isn't there somebody out there who can come up with some other questions that might give us more insight into who these guys are and what kind of president they would make?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

R U Better or Worse Off?

    If what they say is true and perception really is reality, than folks around these parts of schizophrenic.
    Check out these findings in a new Michigan State University statewide survey in which 1000 folks were asked if they are better or worse off today than a year ago.
    60% claim to be worse off which is the lowest number ever recorded by the data sifters.  Looking deeper into the numbers you find that 70% of the democrats are feeling lousy which is maybe why Barack Obama's "change" message is giving them some hope.
     68% of the women but only 52% of the men says they are worse off creating a gender gap on the confidence scale.
     This next finding is interesting.  61% of White folks say they are worse off while 53% of the Blacks20feel that way.
     Now comes the schizophrenic stuff.
     Some citizens who are down in the dumps about not being well off, turn out to be mostly optimistic about next year.
     "Will you be better off one year from now?" everyone was asked.
      A respectable 52% say yes.  16% expect to be right where they are today and 31% feel things will get worse.
      While that seems encouraging, the historic perspective takes some of the polish off the findings.  Back in 1999, 70% said the next year would be better and then the number begins a steady decline.
       By 2007, the number was 45% but=2 0it has now jumped to 52% leaving one to ask, what do they know, that we don't know about the future?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Driil, Obama, Drill

     Following last week's stunning announcement that Mr. Maverick was movin' onto another state, Michigan republicans have been scrambling to put Humpty Dumpty back together again i.e. a campaign effort in Michigan that does not include John McCain, but maybe Sarah Palin.
      Caught with their political pants down, Oakland County Executive Brooks Patterson and state GOP Chair Saul Anuzis tried to put the best face possible on this mess by assembling stalwart republicans to show the world they are not giving up on Michigan even thought it sure looks like J.M. is.
      Patterson told the Oakland Press the decision was, "impetuous, shortsighted, and selfish."
      Anuzis chimed in that this will be like fighting a war without air support.
      Over the weekend the national McCain folks did announce that two, count9 9em, two staffers will remain in the Great Lakes State to work with volunteers.  Big deal, and they reconfirmed that all the TV and radio ads are caput sending shock waves throughout the executive suites at stations all over the state.  There goes those holiday bonuses for the suits.
      While it is not panic time in the GOP ranks, a sense of reality is settling in.  Even Karl Rove could not deny the obvious saying over the weekend that if the balloting was held today, his guy would not win. But he quickly added for the FOX news hounds that the contest is "susceptible to rapid change."
      And for McCain that change could come as early as  TV debate number two.  Don't be surprised if the guy who lost the Miss Congeniality award in the U.S. Senate, shows the rest of the nation how he did it.
      McCain may reinvent his "Drill, Baby, Drill" line and make it "Drill, Obama, Drill."< /o:p>

Sunday, October 5, 2008


     It's not what you know, but whom you know.
       It was quite a feather in Gov. Jennifer Granholm's bonnet to be picked to do debate prep with perhaps the next Vice President of the United States.
       Four days last week she was holed up in a meeting room at a local hotel in Wilmington, Delaware with Joe Biden.  She didn't know Biden from Adam, so how in the world did she get the plumb and unique gig?
        Turns out Biden has a relative who did media consulting for Granholm when she was running for office.  And this person showed the Biden team some debates with Granholm in action.
        The rest as they say is history.  An aggressive debater, Granholm=2 0had a history of making political mincemeat of her male opponents.
        Regarding her sparring with Biden she notes, "I tried to throw him off.  I tried to get under his skin."  In other words she did to him what she had done to Jim Blanchard, David Bonior, and the two Dicks from West Michigan, Posthumus and DeVos.
        And it worked.
        Biden pulled off a buffo performance last Thursday against the real Sarah Palin who didn't have such a bad night herself.
        Biden was not condescending, sexist, and was always respectful.  At one point he called her Sarah and quickly self-corrected and called her Governor.
        Granholm reveals Biden was not trying to be "cute" with little zingers and he was not looking for a "gotya
 moment." She adds he was really debating John McCain.
          A real danger was Biden's propensity to be verbose but Granholm says he demonstrated great discipline by cramping just enough data into his 90-second sound bites.
          "He's a great guy," she concluded while describing her own role as being a "Palin-tologist."
           And she now has a chit that could land her a job in an Obama administration…doing more than just debate prep maybe? 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Biden Vs. Palin: A Draw

   Those of you hoping to see a train wreck in the first and only vice presidential debate, did not get one.
    GOP candidate Sarah Palin found her voice which she recently lost in network TV interviews.  Her answers had meat on the bones. And she fulfilled her assignment of defending John McCain.
     Democratic candidate Joe Biden did not produce any gaffs, which he's done before.  He was not disrespectful to his female opponent and he defended his partner Barack Obama, too.
      Call it a draw.
     Going in, Palin's best strategy was to be herself and she did just that.  Just listen to her language.  Within the first ten minutes or so, she worked soccer, hockey moms and Joe Si xpack into her answers.  And when Biden continually linked John McCain to George Bush, she put a smile on her face and said, "So there ya go Joe. Dog gone it" as she admonished him to stop the comparison.
      Biden was especially good at refuting charges from the other side.  When Palin accused Obama of voting 94 times to kill tax cuts or raise taxes, Biden countered that using her criterion, John McCain did the same thing 477 times.
      His best line was when he whacked at the McCain health care plan calling it, "the ultimate bridge to nowhere."
      Her best line was flipping a democratic attack on McCain that he's supported Mr. Bush 95% of the time, saying Obama voted the straight democratic party line 96%.
      And on it went.
      She closed talking about her own family and her "connection to the heart land of America" as she ticked off the challenges her family had faced.
      Not to be out done and even choking up at one point, Biden reported he's been there too having been a single parent and facing the same kitchen table decisions along with every other American.
      What had the potential to be a game changer turned out to be anything but.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Odd Couple Agree

       If you plopped the two opinion page editors of the Detroit News and Free Press on the same dais, you would expect fireworks as they couldn't possibly agree on anything.
       After all the popular wisdom has the News, or the Ole Gray Lady as old-timers refer to her, as the more conservative of the two papers and the Freep leaning more to the left.
       Well come to find out Messer's Nolan Finley and Ron Dzwonkowski had a lot in common despite their philosophical predilections to the left and right.
       The scene was the 92nd annual gathering of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan which does yeoman's work on presenting unbiased data on all things political and financial in Michigan.
       Finley and Dzwonkowski agree the race for president will be close in Michigan and they agree it will be difficult to poll for what impact "race" will have on the outcome.  Mr. D. believes if Barack Obama loses here it will because of race and experience.
       They also call on Obama and John McCain to name names now.  That is, reveal before the election whom they would pick for top cabinet posts including U.S. Treasurer, Secretary of Defense and State.  A majority of the 300 in the CRC audience applauded approval as well.
       They also concluded that charisma was not as important as experience in the White House dash.  While they got that wrong, they are entitled to their opinions.
       The editorial duo also give high marks to the new Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel, Jr. along with throwing cold water on a soon to be released recommendation allowing county government to raise their own revenue for roads.
       Less you think it was a total love-in, the Freep editor wants to change term limits and the News guy does not.  Finely wants no part of a rewrite of the state constitution in 2010, and Dzwonkowski does.