Joe Biden

From Chile - An Important Moment in US-Latin American Relations

Vina Del Mar, Chile - This week marks a very intense period of US engagement with Latin America.  Secretary of State Clinton visited Mexico for two days.  Vice President Biden has been holding bi-lateral meetings here in Chile attending the Progressive Goverance Conference, and participated in a wide ranging 3 1-2 hour discussion this morning with the leaders of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay (and Britain).  Tomorrow he meets with a group of Central American leaders in Costa Rica.  He offered this op-ed about our relations with the region in anticipation of this trip.  And then in mid April comes the Summit of the Americas, what will be one of the more important regional gatherings of the modern era. 

For seven years NDN has been making the argument that closer hemispheric relations was a political necessity in the 21st century.   America now has the 3rd largest Hispanic population of all the nations in the Americas, bringing us closer to the culture, language and people of the region than any time in our history.  Our identity is this emerging century will have an increasingly Latin flavor, and it will force our government to be more concerned than it has ever been with maintaining strong relations with our neighbors to the South.  

Even more importantly Latin America has been experiencing an exciting period of sustained prosperity and stable, democratically-elected governments. The region has made tremendous strides in throwing off ideological and political shackles that have held Latin America back for decades.  America needs to acknowledge this progress much more openly, and begin to treat the countries and people of Latin America as what they are truly are now today - brothers, neighbors, collaborators, partners, friends. 

This week the new Obama Administration has sent a very clear signal that it desires a new day in US-Latin American relations.  The leaders here at the Progressive Goverance conference have taken note of this attention, this respect, and I think in this extraordinary first 100 days of the Obama Presidency, the decision to engage decisively with this region this quickly is one of the most important decisions our new President has made - and one we talked about a great deal at our compelling forum previewing the Summit of the Americas this past Thursday. 

It has been exciting be have been a part of this great conference.  Once again kudos to Policy Network for pulling off a remarkable event.

The Dawning of A New Political Age

As our readers are aware NDN has been making an argument for the last several years that a new politics of the 21st century was emerging, one being driven by a new 21st century set of governing challenges, by a new tech and media environment, the emergence of a very different set of demographic realities, and the utter collapse of the conservative movement and Republican Party.  You can elements of this argument in some important stories tonight as we all try to make sense of the historic events unfolding in front of our eyes: 

From a Susan Milligan Boston Globe article tonight:

``It's a new day in Washington. A new political era is coming,'' said Simon Rosenberg, president of the Democratic interest group NDN. ``I don't think we're going to see the restoration of an old political age, but the ushering in of a new age,'' he said. ``They're going to rewrite the rules.'' 

And this one tonight from Wired: 

"The scale and scope of this campaign is unlike anything that we've ever seen before," said Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of the nonprofit think-tank NDN in Washington, DC, a veteran of President Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign. "Compared to our 1992 campaign, this is like a multi-national corporation versus a non-profit."

"He's run a campaign where he's used very modern tools, spoke to a new coalition, talked about new issues, and along the way, he's reinvented the way campaigns are run," he added. "Just like the advent of radio changed the relationship between those that govern and their voters, President Obama will start to reinvent the relationship between American citizens to their President using internet-based tools."

Or this from the Houston Chronicle: 

"This does feel like a game-changing moment in our history," said Simon Rosenberg, head of the Democratic group called NDN. "This is the dawning of a new political day and a 21st-century politics."

Or this from McClatchy:

"The Republican playbook that worked for them for a generation, that's become an anachronism," said Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network. "There's a new voting population, new coalitions, new issues, new media. The Republicans have been fighting the future. That is one of the reasons why they are in trouble. They've gotten on the wrong side of history." 

Or this from USA Today: 

"We are entering a new political era because the changes that are going on in the country are bigger than just politics," says Simon Rosenberg, president of an advocacy group called the New Democratic Network.

"There's the emergence of a new governing agenda that's very 21st-century in nature, very different from the challenges we faced in the 20th century. There's a new technology and media environment, and we're going through the most profound demographic changes in American history."

Obama was winning the election with "a very 21st-century coalition," Rosenberg says.

Among key voter groups, Obama:

•Swamped McCain by more than 2 to 1 among Americans under 30, members of the huge Millennial generation that are moving into voting age. Four years ago, John Kerry edged George Bush among young people by just 9 percentage points.

Young voters gave Obama the most lopsided advantage for a candidate among any age group since that data became available in the 1976 exit polls.

•Reversed gains Bush had made among Hispanic voters, despite McCain's Southwest roots and work on immigration reform. Obama was carrying Hispanics by more than 2 to 1. Four years ago, Bush won support from 44% of Latinos, the nation's fastest-growing ethnic group.

•Won a majority of women with children, another Bush group four years ago, and widened the Democratic advantage among working women.

•Made inroads among upscale voters, traditionally a Republican stronghold.

Obama and McCain split college graduates, a group that had supported Bush four years ago. And Obama led McCain by 6 percentage points among those with a family income of more than $200,000. Four years ago, Bush won those voters by nearly 2 to 1.

McCain didn't improve the Republicans' standing with any major demographic group, the surveys showed.

He maintained the GOP's lead among seniors, those 65 and older, but lost ground among the white evangelical Christians whose support was critical for Bush four years ago.

Keys to the Fall: Obama Leads, McCain Stumbles

Robert Kaiser has an interesting piece in the Washington Post today that makes the case that Senator Obama's strong performance in the debates has been the key to his success this fall. I agree, but think there several other factors.  Remember that McCain came out of his convention ahead and with momentum and a fresh life. It really looked liked it would be a close general election, or that McCain might have a shot to pull this off. So what happened?

Their Reactions to the Financial Crisis - At moments of crisis, leaders are tested. Obama passed this test, looking steady, strong, engaged. McCain stumbled, "suspended" his campaign, changed his message, and in general, looked a little desperate and out of it. He failed this critical test of leadership, which significantly undermined the entire McCain narrative of "proven, tested, ready." 

The Debates - Based on post-election polls, Obama and Biden each overwhelmingly won their debates. And as Kaiser argues, the debates became critical for Obama, for they allowed him to fill in the gaps and to address the very real concerns many had about whether he was up to the job. Again, he looked in command, smart, steady, ready.  McCain, on the other hand, while showing flashes of effectiveness, again came across as a slightly addled and occasionally an angry old man, struggling to keep up with his younger, smarter and more compelling opponent.

All About Sarah - It was her rise that lifted McCain, and with her collapse, came McCain's fall. I predicted in a pre-convention post that McCain would pick a vibrant, telegenic running mate to help make up for his not-so-appealing grumpy old man persona. Well he did, but man, when that teenage belly bump arrived on the scene, it became clear that the Palin vetting was, let us say, a little "mavericky."  They clearly had no idea what they were getting into with her. Tina Fey then gave the nation permission to start saying what they were sensing with her, that seeing Russia from her front porch was not really adequate prep to be VP for a man unlikely to finish out his time in office. The comparison between her vacuousness and Biden's experience became a true black mark on the McCain campaign while doing a great deal to undermine his brand.

A Superior and More Modern Campaign - There can be no doubt now that the Obama campaign is the best run and most innovative Presidential campaign of the modern era, and clearly the model for a new 21st century era of post-broadcast, people-based advocacy and politics. Their commitment to this new Dean/Trippi inspired Internet model gave them the resources to overwhelm McCain these last few months on the airwaves and on the ground in the battlegrounds, and to produce a primetime video seen by an amazing 34 million viewers in the final week of the election. For more on this new political model and the emergence of what we've been calling a virtuous cycle of participation, see this recent post

The Issues - Obama has stayed relentlessly focused on the most important issue facing Americans today - the struggle of every day people to make ends meet. McCain and his campaign have seemed weirdly preoccupied with peripheral issues, political issues - Paris Hilton, Bill Ayers, sex ed and baby killing and now Jeremiah Wright - rather than focusing on the stuff that really matters to people. These divisive, distracting ads - straight out of the Southern Strategy GOP playbook - reinforced the very things that the public has come to dislike about Republicans: their willingness to put politics above solving problems. These ads and attacks helped undermine McCain's brand, and suggested instead that McCain was just another one of "those" Republicans after all.  

Finally, incredibly, McCain's economic plan has been so similar to the approach Bush took in his years in office that it has been stunning to watch. The GOP's economic strategy this decade has left the average American making less money while giving huge tax breaks to the most privileged among us. The inability of the Republicans to come to terms with this outcome of their years in control of government has been central to their dramatic fall from power.  That John McCain did not understand this, and did not offer any real proposals to deal with the struggle of every day people, is what allowed Obama to successfully tie him to President Bush and his failed Presidency. I think McCain never really believed that the Democrats would pull off making him a Bush clone because of his own hatred for Bush. But the ideological blindness of the modern GOP to the struggle of every day people is what drove the GOP from office in 2006, and will likely be the central cause of their defeat once again in 2008. 

In early September, John McCain led the race. In the weeks that followed, both candidates were given a series of tests. Clearly, the American people believe Senator Obama passed his tests. Senator McCain, on the other hand, did not. And it was this disappointment with McCain that gave Obama his opening, an opening that he and his focused, disciplined campaign successfully exploited.

7:30 am Update - DemFromCT's morning poll roundup shows no real change of the closing dynamic we've been describing these last few weeks - a slight uptick for McCain but Obama holding steady and retaining a commanding lead. 

More Powell

After his Meet the Press Interview this morning, General Powell did an informal presser, where he repeated some of what he said earlier, but also added some additional observations.  I saw it live on CNN and found it very powerful.  You can watch it here on Daily Kos.

$150 Million, 3.1 million supporters and 100,000 in St. Louis

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe released this video this morning, reporting in on their record breaking month, and discussing the strategy in the final two weeks. $150 milion. 3.1 million donors. 100,000 people in St Louis.  Simply incredible. 

What Plouffe - in his classically understated fashion - describes in this video is the largest and most powerful grassroots organization ever built in the history of American politics.  For those readers of our blog are well aware, we believe this new Obama-led people-based model of how to organize an advocacy effort has fundamentally changed American politics forever.  The emergence of this "new politics" is something we'ven writing and talking about at NDN for years now, and in early 2005, with the help of Joe Trippi, Markos Moulitsas and others, even started a new affiliate, the New Politics Institute, to better study the emergence of a whole new way to organize our politics. These numbers - and what will likely be extraordinary October and November numbers to come - will be seen in the coming years as the moment when all of American politics tipped, when there was a before and after, when we moved from a broadcast-based to a people-based model of how to organize arguments, campaigns and advocacy. When a "new politics" was born. 

Back in February, I reflected back on the early evidence of the success of this new model, and argued that one of the new effects of this new model, properly applied, was the emergence of a "virtuous cycle of participation," which still seems relevant today: 

A Virtuous Cycle of Participation - Finally, Obama has one very powerful advantage in these final days that is hard to see and evaluate - the power of his virtual community across the country. We saw the power of this community with the truly extraordinary amount of money it raised for him in January. But equally important in these final days will be the virtual door knocking these millions of people will be doing - emails to their address books, actions on MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites, text messages sent to friends, viral videos linked too, and comments left on blogs, newspapers and call in radio shows. It is no exaggeration to say that this million or so impassioned Obama supporters will reach tens of millions of voters in highly personal ways in the next few days, providing a messaging and personal validation of Obama that may be equal in weight to the final round of TV ads, free media and traditional grassroots methods.

All the way back in 2003, I wrote an essay about this new era of participation in politics that argued the new Dean campaign model was changing the way we had to imagine what a Presidential campaign was all about. In the 20th century, a Presidential campaign was about 30 second spots, tarmac hits and 200 kids in a headquarters. In the 21st century, the race for the Presidency would be about ten million people going to work each day, wired into the campaign through the campaign's site, through email, sms, social networking sites etc acting as full partners in the fight not just passive couch potatoes to be persuaded.

This is a very different model of politics. One begun by Dean but being taken to a whole other level by Obama. It puts people and their passion for a better nation at the core of politics. When used correctly, it creates a virtuous cycle of participation, where more and more people engage, take an action and bring others in, creating a self-perpetuating and dynamic network of support. It is also why the endorsements of entities with large, active virtual communities -, MoveOn - is so meaningful for Obama. He has created an on-line ecosystem that can quickly take advantage of the support of the millions of people now doing politics in this new 21st century way and exponentially grow his dynamic community of change.

The Democratic Party is one entire Presidential cycle ahead of the Republicans in adopting this new model, and I will argue it is simply not possible for the Republican nominee to catch up this year. Too much experimentation, too much trial and error goes into inventing this new model for it to be easily and quickly adapted. It has to be invented, not adapted. I'm sure the GOP will catch up over time, but this year year the only GOP candidate who has taken this new model seriously has been Ron Paul - and they have paid the price. Obama raised almost as much money in January of this year as John McCain raised in all of 2007. Democrats are raising much more money across the board, seeing historic levels of voter turnout, increased Party registrations and millions more working along side with the campaigns - all of which is creating an extraordinary virtuous cycle of participation that continues to grow the number getting engaged in politics as never before. While there can be little doubt that anger towards Bush and disapointment with his government is a driving force behind this, the key takeaway is that the adoption of this new politics by Democrats allowed the Party to take advantage of this tidal wave in unprecedented ways, and will be one of the Democratic Party's most significant advantages going into the fall elections.

Much attention has been given to the money raised by this Obama network. Much more needs to be given to the power of it to deliver message, provide personal validation to friends, neighbors, colleagues and peers in ways so powerful, and ways never seen before in American history. I have no doubt that it has been the campaign's ability to foster and channel the passion of his supporters - creating a vrituous cycle of particpation - into an unprecedented national network - helping amplify and reinforce the power of Obama's argument - that is playing a critical role in Obama's closing the gap with Clinton in these final exciting and dramatic days before Super Tuesday.

The explosion of all this money, these people and their passion in our politics, is going to have an extraordinary long-term impact on the center-left side of American politics. I took a look at all this in a recent essay, More Evidence Of A Sustained Progressive Revival, which argues that what we have been seeing these last few years with arrival of the netroots, the blogosphere, the Obama campaign and so much else is a fundamental reinvention of center-left politics in the United States and the emergence of what has the potential to be a very modern, very powerful and very 21st century progressive movement. 

Friends these are exciting days.  Kudos to David Plouffe, Steve Hildebrand, Joe Rospars, David Axelrod, Bill Burton the rest of the history-making Obama team - and of course Barack and Michelle Obama - for not just what they have done but what they will also leaving behind.

Candidates Woo Largest Spanish-speaking Audience in the Country, Part II

More on John McCain's interview with Univision anchor, Jorge Ramos. Univision has the largest Spanish-language audience in the U.S.

ON LATIN AMERICA- When asked about the prospect of Russia providing Venezuela with training and nuclear arms, and whether he would rule out U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, Sen. McCain responded that he definitely would (keep in mind all those Florida voters who are originally from Venezuela or still have family and ties to the country). Sen. McCain stated his priorities regarding Latin America as: 1) U.S. independence from Venezuelan oil, as there is evidence that Venezuela is helping aid the FARC in Colombia, and 2) passage of a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia.

Last weekend, Barack Obama and Joe Biden appeared with Jorge Ramos on Al Punto. By contrast, when asked about Latin America, Sen. Obama appeared to understand that the United States' relationship with the region has so much more at stake than merely trade agreements and foreign aid, "Trade agreements cannot serve as a substitute to sensible policy...It's not about just sending money [to the region] and forgetting about it...If this hollow policy continues, our children will be in danger...we should be in contact at this critical time." Sen. Biden noted, "..this Administration has no policy towards Russia, or towards Latin America for that matter."

ON OTHER ISSUES - On immigration, Barack Obama said during his interview with Ramos that in order to truly secure the border, we also need to go after unscrupulous employers and to provide legalization to all the undocumented in order to bring them out of the shadows. On the election:

JR: Will Hispanics decide this election? What do you think of Latino voters?
BO: "...The states with the largest Hispanic populations will certainly have a decisive role during this election....Hispanics could be the largest group of voters in New Mexico....I do think Hispanics are going to turn out and vote because they will decide whether they want to continue 8 years of failed policies or I have no doubt that this election will turn out record numbers of Latinos and voters in general."
JR: So will Hispanics decide this election?
JB: In some states, like Florida, my state for example, small state of Delaware, has among the largest rates of growth of states on the east coast, the population has increased 25% over the last 17 years, and a full quarter of that growth is comprised of Hispanics in my state.

Jorge Ramos also posed a few tough questions to Sen. McCain:

JR: Governor Palin, she said Sen. Obama worked from an ex-terrorist's living room. But she works for the campaign right? So I take it she had your approval to say those things, are you suggesting that [Sen. Obama] tolerates terrorism?
JM: No. We just believe the American people should know more about this relationship.

**Sarah Palin was scheduled to appear with John McCain, but she reportedly had a scheduling conflict. Sen. McCain did say that she will be on Al Punto soon.

Some Sunday Morning Reading

Frank Rich has one of his best columns of the year today.   It focuses on the way the McCain Palin ticket is stoking anti-Obama fires in a way most ugly.

A Kos dairist, DCDemocrat, reviews Alaskan news coverage of Troopergate, reminding us that further action might be taken against the Governor's unlawful and unethical acts, including impeachment.  

David Leonardt has an excellent essay this morning looking at America's financial overreach and the challenges to come.  

In the Washington Post Sumit Ganguly has a disturbing article on Pakistan's march to becoming a failed state.  

And DemFromCT's morning poll roundup has more good news for Obama.

Happy Sunday.

One More.  From today's lead story in the New York Times: 

As international leaders gathered here on Saturday to grapple with the global financial crisis, the Bush administration embarked on an overhaul of its own strategy for rescuing the foundering financial system.

Two weeks after persuading Congress to let it spend $700 billion to buy distressed securities tied to mortgages, the Bush administration has put that idea aside in favor of a new approach that would have the government inject capital directly into the nation's banks - in effect, partially nationalizing the industry.

As recently as Sept. 23, senior officials had publicly derided proposals by Democrats to have the government take ownership stakes in banks.

The Treasury Department's surprising turnaround on the issue of buying stock in banks, which has now become its primary focus, has raised questions about whether the administration squandered valuable time in trying to sell Congress on a plan that officials had failed to think through in advance.

It has also raised questions about whether the administration's deep philosophical aversion to government ownership in private companies hindered its ability to look at all options for stabilizing the markets.

Some experts also contend that Treasury's decision last month to not use taxpayer money to save Lehman Brothers worsened the panic that quickly metastasized into an international crisis.

On this page, in post after post, essay after essay, we questioned whether Bush and Co had any idea what they were doing, and suggested again and again that the Bailout plan would not resolve the financial crisis.   None of this should come as any suprise for these are the guys who brought us Iraq, Katrina, incredible levels of corruption, out of control spending, declining standards of living, more people in bankruptcy, without health insurance and in poverty.   Virtually everything this Administration has attempted to do has ended up in disaster.  Why all of a sudden did we believe they could get the financial crisis right after ignoring all the warning signs for so long?  

Friends tell me the reason Treasury hasn't signed on to the Gordon Brown plan is that it wasn't their idea, and they couldn't look like they are following the lead of those across the pond. It will be interesting to see what happens here in Washington the next few days, and how Congress reacts to the Administration's apparent repudiation of the sky is falling strategy they made Congress embrace just ten days ago.

Daily Tracks Now Average 7 Points

Catch the latest poll analysis from DemFromCT this morning, showing among many other things the poll average now at 7 points. 

The Post has a story this morning detailing the McCain's camp decision to go scorched earth all the way to the end now. 

1045am Update - Rasmussen's daily starts this way: 

With one month to go until Election Day, the Rasmussen Reports daily
Presidential Tracking Poll for Saturday shows Barack Obama attracting
51% of the vote while John McCain earns 45%. For each of the past nine
days, Obama has been at 50% or 51% and McCain has been at 44% or 45% (see trends). The stability of these results suggests that the McCain campaign faces a very steep challenge in the remaining few weeks of Election 2008.

Some Modest Liveblogging

901pm - I think Palin will do well tonight.  She's a natural. 

903pm - My CNN HD has a running dial group with Ohio undecideds.  It's a wild way to watch the debate. I will resist referencing it during my blogging.  Biden had a solid start.  She tried hard but didn't do so much. 

907pm - Palin - we bring new energy.  John McCain! 

910pm - She's just getting out there, delivering her message, making her case.  She's not responding to Biden, not attacking.  Just using this time to make her case.  She's a very good messenger.  Biden is arguing, not making the simple case for the Obama message.  He's not making his case to the audience....

925pm - I dont really understand her argument when Governor Palin makes the case that she is the one who will take on the oil companies, not Obama Biden.  The McCain Palin ticket has so little to work with.  

928pm - Biden makes the case for keeping people in their homes!  Thanks Joe.

930pm - Palin just repeated the most crazy fringe thing she has ever said - that it doesn't matter what has created climate change we just have to fix it.  That climate change may also have been caused by cyclical weather patters? Friends, what does this mean?  Don't we need to understand what has caused it in order to combat it?  Oh, Biden just said this.  Well done Joe. Of all the wild stuff she has ever said this is the craziest and most dangerous.

939pm - Iraq.  Man she really sounds like she is over her head now.  Hate it when all these talking points run together! Biden's answer got off the charts ratings from the Ohio dial group.  Biden is just burying her in this portion of this show.  She seems so out of her depth.  He is raising the bar now. 

951pm - Maybe she's a little tired now.  Biden is finally, finally making the case now that the Bush strategy for the Middle East has been an abject failure.  Her response - change the subject!  This part of the debate has been a rout, a rout.

10pm - Biden just knocked the ball out of the park on Darfur, and on Iraq.  She just can't play at this level.  This part has left her smaller, diminished.  And she knows it. 

1015pm - Biden has kept his game at a very high level for a long time now.  She is trying hard to get back in the game but just can't keep up.  

1019pm - Exceptionalism.  Beacon of Hope.  My old boss Linda Ellerbee had a great line - the words are all there they are just in the wrong order.  She is awfully likable but she comes off as a well-intentioned local pol fighting way above her weight. "Quasi-caved in."

1028pm - This has been a good night for Joe Biden, and Barack Obama.  Palin did all right, but simply could not play at this level.  Biden gained confidence, strength and his voice as the night went along.  All in all I think Senator Biden just got much more out of tonight than Governor Palin, which of course is a problem for the McCain Palin ticket.

The Presidential Race is Stablizing with Obama Firmly In The Lead

After a period of significant movement to Obama over the last couple of weeks, the major nightly tracks seem to be settling down.  The major tracks have the race anywhere from 4 to 10 points now. The Real Clear Politics poll aggregate now has the race 49% - 44.2% Obama.  Their Electoral College map now has the race at 348 EVs for Obama, with Virginia, North Carolina and Florida now in the Lean Obama category. 

So the race is settling down in a way that looks awfully bad for John McCain and Sarah Palin.  I still don't see an easy and clear path for how they turn this thing around absent a major stumble or scandal from the Obama camp.  A big stumble at this point while possible is unlikely - Senator Obama has proven himself again and again to be effective at this level of politics, and if anything his campaign is hitting its stride, finding its voice at the right time.  The latest round of direct-to-camera ads from the Obama camp have been the best media the campaign has produced in some time, and I am sure are contributing to the vastly improved position in the key battleground states.

230pm Update: DemFromCT has a great new polling update.

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