Thursday, June 17, 2004

A Springsteen Concert To Protest the RNC?

Well, not yet, but there could be.

Andrew Rasiej, the founder of the Digital Club Network, New York's Irving Plaza, and a tech advisor to the DSCC, DCCC, Senator Daschle, Representative Gephardt and others, has put Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on hold for September 1, 2004 for 'A Concert for Change.'

Rasiej has started an online petition at to book hometown boy Bruce Springsteen as the headliner of the concert. I STRONGLY suggest you go and sign it. At the time of this posting, there are already over 92,000 names on the petition.

While there has been an official 'no comment' on the matter, Springsteen has apparently expressed his desire to act as "counterprogramming to the message the Republicans will be broadcasting," according to Daily News columnists Rush & Molloy. NYC Mayor Bloomberg has nixed the idea of anything of that magnitude happening in Manhattan during the convention, though, so the chances seemed slim that anything would actually go down. I had heard a rumor that something could be planned for Liberty State Park here in Jersey, but beggars can't be choosers.

What would my interest be in such a thing? It's not that I've performed in Rasiej-promoted events, though I have. It's not that Rasiej is another Jersey native, like both Bruce and me. It's not even that I'm a huge Springsteen fan, though I am.

For Bruce Springsteen to stand up in front of the whole country--you do realize that this concert will get massive national coverage as a protest against the Republican National Convention--and say 'hell no' to four more years of George W. Bush in the White House will really make a difference in some people's minds. It will go a long way to mobilizing countless numbers of working class voters who have felt disenfranchised and ignored for so long by those in power in Washington. A lot of these people don't vote because they figure they're alone or they wonder why they should care. This will show them they're not alone and give them a reason to care.

So have you signed up? What are you waiting for?!?! Go do it!!!

posted by Scott | 6/17/2004 | |

Veepstakes Roundup

Since the VP announcement is said to be coming from the Kerry campaign within a month, it's important to know what the current lay of the land is. With that in mind, here's as complete a list of potential veep candidates as I could compile, with a brief status report on each one.

IA Gov. Tom Vilsack - In But Fading
For the past few weeks, Vilsack has been the little would-be VP that could, managing to keep his name on the marquee despite intense competition from some much bigger names. But it seems that one black mark on Vilsack's record could be taking his name down from the lights.

In 2002, Vilsack signed into law a bill declaring English to be Iowa's official language. The GOP has been desperately trying--with some success--to attract Hispanic voters for the past few years. As the number of Hispanics in the United States has grown, they've rapidly become a very important voting bloc.

Taking the chance that Vilsack might hurt Kerry's chances--or even depress turnout--among Hispanics is probably not worth the risk.

KS Gov. Kathleen Sebelius - In
Every time someone shoots a VP prediction my way, I give them my opinion, we debate, and then I always end the conversation with something along the lines of, "hey - neither of us know what we're talking about; these things always come out of left field; watch, it's going to be Sebelius."

And I'm always only half kidding.

According to Hotline's Wake-Up Call, MSNBC's Alex Witt agrees with me, saying that the campaign has "whittled down the field to three," referring to Gephardt, Vilsack, and Sebelius. Then again, she referred to Gephardt as a "former Congressman," so what does she know?

Well, she does know that Sebelius was in DC yesterday, as was Vilsack. Sebelius, however, denied meeting with Kerry.

So what's the source of the Sebelius charm? Popular, centrist female Governor of a Bush-backing Midwestern state. Do the math, people. It really does add up.

NM Gov. Bill Richardson - 99.9% Out
During and even well before the primaries, Richardson was everyone's favorite VP prediction. A governor. Hispanic. Likeable. A foreign-policy heavyweight. It's no wonder he's first on everyone's list as a potential Presidential candidate in 2008 should Rove & Co. rig another election Kerry not win in November.

However, Richardson had said repeatedly that he intended to finish out his term as New Mexico's Governor. At the Japan Press club in Tokyo (of all places), Richardson said categorically yesterday, "I'm not interested" and "I'm very happy being governor of New Mexico."

But hey, I believe Richardson and even I'm leaving the door open by .1%.

Ret. VT Gov. Howard Dean - In? Really?
Well, you wanted left field, you got left field. Dean's name is being floated by some who point to a recent Zogby poll that finds that Dean on the ticket neutralizing some of the Nader threat.

In other words, no. Not really.

NC Sen. John Edwards - In, But Not As In As Everyone Thinks
Just about everything that can be written about John Edwards' chances at becoming Kerry's VP has been written. He's vibrant! He's charismatic! He's Southern! He's a great orator! All of the above are all very true and make Edwards an attractive choice.

It's also been said that Kerry's VP needs to be able to go toe-to-toe with Cheney on foreign policy. Edwards is said to lack the necessary foreign policy experience to forcefully stand up to the evil Dr. Halliburton, but I don't buy it.

First of all, Edwards is a smart trial lawyer. He'll learn what he needs to learn to make his case and then he'll beat up on his opponent. Besides, Cheney's come increasingly unhinged of late and is fast losing whatever credibility he once had. Therefore, I don't really think the foreign policy experience question matters here.

However, I'm reluctant to call this thing for the very public front-runner. Rarely is the VP pick this easy to predict.

FL Sen. Bob Graham - Doubtful
If this ticket has to be two white guys, let's not make it one boring white guy and one wacky white guy, even if said wacky white guy might win you Florida. I know we want to win it, but we shouldn't put all of our eggs in that one basket.

Especially not while Team W's family is holding the damn basket.

FL Sen. Bill Nelson - Probably Out
He's an attractive candidate to help swing Florida, but with Bob Graham's Senate seat up for grabs due to his retirement, I just can't see the Dems handing a free GOP Senate appointment to Bush's brother.

LA Sen. John Breaux - In
Louisiana's a Bush-voting swing state that's been trending Democratic of late and Breaux is the state's popular centrist Senator. Breaux is also known to be one of the White House's most loyal Democratic partners. Two thoughts on this...

One. Breaux running with Kerry will be a huge slap in the face to Team W and will go a long way towards making them look like real right-wingers.

Two. Putting Breaux on the ticket could alienate many liberals and progressives in the Democratic camp in the same way that the Lieberman pick did four years ago. If you're worried about Nader now...

Breaux has met with Kerry, though, so he's very much in.

DE Sen. Joe Biden - In
Biden has said that he doesn't want it, but that he would like to be the next Secretary of State. While it could be that Biden doesn't want to appear over-anxious, at the very least this tells us that he does want to be a part of the Kerry administration.

He's got incredible foreign policy experience and would make Cheney look like a chump in a Vice Presidential debate. Helen Thomas is calling him a "dark horse" contender, but I've got to disagree. This horse ain't all that dark.

IN Sen. Evan Bayh - Extremely Doubtful
Bayh looks good on paper, but is a bit of a wet noodle as a candidate. He's on the list, but only to fill space.

Ret. GA Sen. Sam Nunn - Out
In a statement to the press, Nunn said, "I do not intend to be extensively involved in any political campaign, and I have no intention of going back into government." Pretty cut and dried there.

MO Rep. Dick Gephardt - In, But...
I could just write "see Graham above," but I won't be so dismissive with Gephardt. Labor loves him and he's from swing state Missouri, which could also help Kerry in other parts of the Midwest and Upper Midwest (Ohio and Michigan immediately come to mind).

But what about Gephardt's impact on the rest of the country? Will he really help rally the base on the West Coast? Then again, does the base really need rallying on the West Coast?

The St. Louis Congressman had a high-profile pow-wow with Kerry yesterday, boosting the speculation that he is definitely in the running. But the meeting was so high-profile that I wonder if it wasn't a ruse. Actually, no. Let me revise that. The meeting was so high-profile that I'm forced to think that it was a ruse.

As I've said before, Gephardt is a lot like Graham in that you look at a Kerry/Gephardt match up and just think, "eh, middle-aged white guys." Even though it's true of most of Kerry's potential running mates, you don't look at John Edwards or Wesley Clark and think, "eh, middle-aged white guy." You think, "charismatic attorney" and "four-star General."

In other words, recent reports of Dick Gephardt's chances as VP have been greatly exaggerated.

Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark - In
As I laid out about a month ago, Wes Clark's definitely got a shot at the veep nod. And unlike a number of other potential running-mates, he really hasn't done anything to jeopardize his chances.

Since I've already made the case for Clark's chances, I won't repeat myself. To confirm that he's in the running, let me say that Clark's meeting with Kerry and attending fundraisers with (not just for) Kerry. The rumor of a July 4th announcement also piques my interest in the idea that the Kerry campaign could announce an all-veteran ticket.

However, with the controversial 'Fahrenheit 9/11' on the horizon, will Kerry really want a Michael Moore-backed Democrat on the ticket?

NY AG Eliot Spitzer
This is a pick that has been forwarded by only two people I know of--myself and TNR Editor-in-Chief Martin Peretz. (I don't mind bragging that I beat Peretz to the punch on this one by about six months.)

Just like then, however, I don't really see it. Spitzer's riding too high in New York right now to go ride shotgun on Kerry's run at the White House. On the other hand, if a Kerry/Spitzer ticket were to fail, Spitzer would have two years to prepare for the 2006 NY Governor's race.

posted by Scott | 6/17/2004 | |
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