Great event today, more coming up

NDN has a very aggressive schedule over the next few weeks. I'll be involved in many of these events, and am excited to reconnect with many of you.

Today in DC, we host an excellent event on how the most important medium of politics, television, is changing. It will showcase a remarkable panel of experts, including the head of audience research for TiVo, who among other things, will be discussing the impact of DVRs on how people are now relating to their TV. You won't want to miss this one.

Next Monday, I will be in New York hosting a forum on the growing power of the Millennial Generation, the largest generation in American history. Joining us will be Morley Winograd and Mike Hais, the two authors of a critically acclaimed new book, Millennial Makeover, and the man who introduced us to the whole Millennial concept, something NPI has done a great job promoting the last few years. Also joining us will be two people who work closely with Millennials, Jon Schnur of New Leaders for New Schools and Alicia Menendez of Rock the Vote.

The following Monday, May 5, again in New York City, I will be hosting a Bernard Schwartz Forum on Economic Policy that will celebrate the compelling new book of our Globalization Initiative Chairman, Dr. Robert Shapiro. Rob's book is a far-reaching look at how the world is likely to play out over the next 15 to 20 years, and the forum will be a discussion you won't want to miss. It will also be a good opportunity to talk politics and look at what is happening on the national stage these days.

Finally, I'll be back in DC on May 9, where Peter Leyden and I will be hosting a day-long working session on the important new tools and new audiences critical to 21st century politics. This event will feature several plenary sessions but will also include 10 or so breakouts to help our family drill down further on specific tools or demographics you might want to learn more about. We've got a terrifc line up of speakers and panelists, which you won't want to miss.

Of course there is more than even all this. We are hosting U.S. Rep. Barney Frank on May 20 here in DC, and have many more events in the hopper that we hope to announce soon. Additionally, the able NDN/NPI team is producing a great deal of new and dynamic content each day, which is best viewed here on our blog.

So keep coming back here, and I hope to catch many of you at our many interesting events over the next few weeks.

Monday morning observations

The Education of Obama - Both the Times and the Post have stories today about Obama "sharpening" his attack against Senator Clinton. My view on this is this tougher rhetoric is long overdue from the Democratic frontrunner, for politics is both about making your own case while effectively indicting your opponent. One of our great strenghts in the 1992 Clinton campaign was our ability to indict President Bush without sounding too partisan and mean spirited. To win in the fall Obama will have to make a powerful and very public indictment of Senator McCain and the failed government of this era. In no way does this cut against his "bringing everyone together" narrative, and simply another tool in his tool box he must develop if he is to win, and to govern.

As I wrote recently I still think Senator Obama should have used the "bitter" flap as he did the Jeremiah Wright controversy. He should have taken the opportunity to give a major speech about the struggle of every day people, demonstrating he both understands how the lack of an adequate government response to globalization is making it harder for people to get ahead, and that he has a comprehensive plan to do something about it. His economic argument is still too political, too focused on attacking Senator Clinton over her NAFTA position than on offering a compelling argument on how he intends to raise the standard of living of all Americans. The inability of the Obama campaign to organize themselves around the struggle of the middle class has been, and continues to be, one of the great strategic weaknesses of this year's remarkable campaign.

For more on this read John Heilemann's excellent new essay in New York Magazine which features some commentary from the head of our globalization initiative, Rob Shapiro.

Not a big fan of McSame - Some of the early arguments coming from the Democratic/ progressive side attempt to make McCain into Bush. But I think this approach is bound to fail. McCain is his own man. He isn't George Bush. They may have worked together to bring about this disasterous conservative era. They have similar beliefs. But McCain isn't Bush. He has a powerful and compelling personal narrative. His take on Iraq is different. His economic plan is different. His position on immigration is different. It is time for those who have opposed Bush to let go of him as a man, and begin making the indictment against his beliefs, his government and the mess he and his team - with McCain's help - have left us. The country has written Bush off, and is turning the page. It is time for the progressive movement to do the same.

To that end I think the new DNC Ad is a good one. It takes McCain's own words and ties them to the performance of the conservative economic strategy now embraced by the Arizona Senator. An editorial in the Post today further disembles the inanity of McCain's emerging economic arguments, providing much more new material for those of us who have opposed the bankrupt and failed economic approach of the modern conservatives.

For more on McCain be sure to read yesterday's frontpage WaPo story on McCain's temperment, something that has been a constant discussion item here in DC chattering classes since the campaign began.

McCain and Immigration - Our very own Andres Ramirez has an excellent new post reminding everyone that during the heat of his primary battle John McCain abandonned his own immigration reform bill, and now repdudiates it on the campaign trail. It is an extraordinary example of McCain's maturation in recent years from virtuous outsider to hollowed-out, craven pol, willing to say and do anything to get elected.


A big test for Obama

There can now be little doubt that Senator Obama's recent comments in San Francisco have become a major test for this candidacy. The ad Senator Clinton launched yesterday on the subject is one of the most powerful ads of this election cycle, and will require a sustained and significant response from the Obama campaign.

As Senator Obama demonstrated in the recent flap over Jeremiah Wright, every attack is an opportunity to offer a very public response. For the Obama campaign those words will never be able to be taken back, but what his campaign can do is to view this as a moment to better address the core of what is being discussed here - his understanding of the struggle of every day people, and to better clarify his plan to raise improve the lives of those facing increased struggle and hardship in an era when the standing of the middle class has deteriorated. As I have written many times, I have long felt this whole area has been a weakness for Senator Obama and his campaign. This moment is in essence an opportunity to correct a major structural weakness in his candidacy and thus if handled successfully could be a moment of great opportunity for the Senator.

Campaigns are a series of tests, some small, some big. For Senator Obama a few words spoken in private have begun to drown out the millions of words he has spoken throughout this long and grueling campaign. But that is politics, and this new test may be among the most consequential and important faced by Senator Obama so far.

Some interesting stuff I've found

NPI contributor Ruy Teixeira has just published an interesting paper for Brookings on how the white working class is shrinking in the US.

Talking Points Memo continues to just nail the truly ubelievable Bob Schaffer Mariana Island story.

Jerry Muller has an excellent article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs which argues:

Americans generally belittle the role of ethnic nationalism in politics. But in fact, it corresponds to some enduring propensities of the human spirit, it is galvanized by modernization, and in one form or another, it will drive global politics for generations to come. Once ethnic nationalism has captured the imagination of groups in a multiethnic society, ethnic disaggregation or partition is often the least bad answer.

Speaker Pelosi appropriately rebuffed President Bush today on his efforts to ram the Colombia FTA through Congress, saying:

“If we are going to be successful in passing a trade agreement,” Ms.
Pelosi said, “we have to first tell the American people that we have a
positive economic agenda.” (see this related post from Tuesday).

The Times had an interesting editorial this am on the global rise of food prices.

Finally thanks to those who came out at 8am this morning in San Francisco to hear Rob Shapiro and I discuss his new, excellent book, Futurecast.

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