Astrology favors McCain!

McCain is behind in the polls by double digits. The Democrats are “almost” starting to celebrate — announcing the death of Rovian politics among other things. With the Presidency almost in the bag the focus seems to have shifted to hitting the “magic 60” in the U.S Senate.

But then … Astrologer (and possibly others) seems to think the stars favor McCain. If you are in the Obama camp this can be reminder not to take chances and continue to maintain the momentum.

Obama’s $150 million record in September

The Obama campaign raised a mind-boggling $150 million in September. I recall reading that the Obama campaign might have trouble matching the McCain campaign with its 84M Federal funding. But the September numbers are truly astounding. From $66M in August (which then a record), the Obama campaign has surely knocked this one out of the park. My guess is that many who had planned to contribute all along jumped on board before its too late while repeat contributors did their bit as well.

…Mr. Obama had added 632,000 new donors in September, bringing the campaign’s total to 3.1 million. The average contribution, Mr. Plouffe said, was $86….”

This record does raise some very interesting questions about the future of public financing and campaigns in general. Is this the end of public financing the way we know it? Is every future candidate going to reach out to the directly to the voters to finance their campaign? Is technology the center-piece of the strategy for all future candidates?

There is no doubt that Mr. Obama’s campaign is easily one of the best run campaigns in recent times. If Senator Obama brings the same amount of consistency, discipline and innovativeness (if he were to become President), there is room for genuine hope that he can turn the US around from its current multi-pronged mess.

p.s: The call for investigations into Obama’s money sources will likely re-surface, now that Senator McCain campaign is clearly run out of steam/ideas.

Republicans Hit The Panic Button

The Republicans appear to have hit the panic button. There are plenty of signs of this. Some are having nightmares imagining President Obama in charge.

The Republican talk radio circuit seems to have only Ayers to talk about. Sean Hannity is getting desperate.

The McCain team seems to have completely run out of ideas that they had to resurrect the Ayers issue  — something the Clintons tried and failed to gain traction on. As their ship appears to be sinking McCain and Palin are grabbing Ayers for survival. Cindy McCain is blaming Obama for endangering her son in Iraq!

Check out Charles Krauthammer saying that McCain should have jumped on the Ayers association sooner and that the ad in North Carolina was not racsict!

McCain has only himself to blame for the bad timing. He should months ago have begun challenging Obama’s associations, before the economic meltdown allowed the Obama campaign…

McCain had his chance back in April when the North Carolina Republican Party ran a gubernatorial campaign ad that included the linking of Obama with Jeremiah Wright. The ad was duly denounced by the New York Times and other deep thinkers as racist.

(btw, notice the “should have” tone. Is this race over?)

David Brooks wants to return to the drawing board of conservative ideology. Check out his piece in NY Times today — plenty of could have, should have and other soul searching comments.

This year could have changed things. The G.O.P. had three urbane presidential candidates. But the class-warfare clichés took control. Rudy Giuliani disdained cosmopolitans at the Republican convention. Mitt Romney gave a speech attacking “eastern elites.” (Mitt Romney!) John McCain picked Sarah Palin.

Senator McCain’s performance in the second debate simply didn’t help his campaign regain momentum. Now it appears to be on a free fall.

Revving up the base is hardly a sensible strategy at this late stage when it might make more sense to reach out to independents and undecided voters.

The Democrats must be wishing that it were November 4 tomorrow!

Ganguly Quits: Good, Timely Call

Sourav Ganguly announced his decision to retire from Test cricket after the series against Australia. Unarguably Sourav Ganguly was one of India’s better captains and his fighting spirit transformed Indian cricket forever. His infamous clash with Greg Chappell, his ouster and subsequent return provided plenty of drama for the entire cricketing world. He probably won’t be missed any longer given his poor form, but there is no question that he has been a phenomenon in Indian cricket for well over a decade. Given the commericialization of cricket of late, one can be asured the Ganguly will re-appear in other avatars beyond the IPL.

It’s nice to see him bid adieu to the game while still in the Test team. It is the first time since Sunil Gavaskar that a top Indian cricketer has left the cricketing scene while still being a member of the team. Even the great Kapil Dev was dragged along in the team until he reached his record wicket tally. While there has been widespread speculation in the media about the future of the “Fab Four”, the reality is that Ganguly could have dragged along longer if he chose to. A couple of good knocks in the first two Tests would have secured his position for the next tour or two. While its is unclear what triggered his decision, overall there appears to be a fair indication of professionalism on both the part of the selectors and Ganguly himself for how this has all transpired. Hopefully the public will be saved from another media circus in the days and weeks ahead without new revelations of any sort from Ganguly. The new selectors lead by Kris Srikanth deserve credit for giving Ganguly an opportunity to quit while still in the team.

Meanwhile, lets hope that the remaining stalwarts — Sachin, Dravid, and Kumble — plan their graceful exits. This series should be a decider for them. If they fail to perform, they should simply call its quits or plan their exits in discussion with the selectors.  The selectors would also do well to have a chat with these folks to figure out what they have in mind with regard to their continued presence in the team. It is in the best interest of the team that these players phase out over time rather than all at once. Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Badrinath, Kaif, Raina, Pujara, Kohli and many others are waiting their turns and deserve a shot at the highest while they are still at their best.

That One ’08

Check this out. Senator McCain referred to his opponent as “That One” in last night’s debate. This is new logo is in response to that comment! I thought this was pretty funny.

I was surprised to hear James Carville say that “these two men deeply dislike each other”. It’s obvious that Senator McCain deeply dislikes Senator Obama, but there was little to suggest in last night’s debate (or prior to that), that Senator Obama dislikes Senator McCain. In fact, I think Senator Obama has remained very restrained and never really displayed his dislike, if any, for Senator McCain.

Obama vs McCain Debate 1: “Boring”

The first debate was an overall disappointment. As I think back to the debate, the only lines I recall are “Senator Obama doesn’t understand” and “John is right”. Despite the change in debate format where each participant could question the other, neither candidate  chose to avail of this opportunity. So much for modern day debates.

As always the first question that pops to mind after a debate is “Who won?”. The truth is, its hard to say because there was no real winner. Firstly, there was hardly any “debate” so to speak. It was one moderator and two individuals answering questions! Secondly, neither of them had any memorable lines that evoked any laughter or drove home a point.

Putting the debate in context of the state of the race adds a slightly different perspective when analyzing the event for winners and losers. Going into the debate Senator McCain’s campaign was in a shaky state with his “campaign suspension”, “backing out of the debate” and other negative news. Had he stumbled in the debate, he could have been hurt beyond recovery. Considering this backdrop  he did well enough so as not to damage his standing in the race. As for Senator Obama, he needed come across as knowledgeable and someone capable of being President. While Senator Obama did very well to appear calm, composed and Presidential, he did little to question or attack his opponent. In fact, it appears as though the “community organizer” in him does not permit forceful disagreement. This has been a consistent pattern with Senator Obama beginning with the primaries where he rarely went after his opponents. Perhaps it was a tactical ploy to avoid being seen as as the “angry black man”. In any case, this approach made the debate that much more boring. His responses were more like “lectures” than pointed, deliberate, tactful quips. Besides, he could use a sense of humor .

As for John McCain, he came across as someone who deeply dislikes his opponent. He never once looked at him when answering any questions or referring to him. In fact, he barely made eye contact with Senator Obama even during the initial hand-shake. He consistently referred to his opponent as Senator Obama (while Obama referred to him as “John”) more than a few times. His irritation (and to some extent grumpiness) was palpable at various points in the debate. He deliberately threw in names of foreign heads (referring to Zardari as Kadari and struggling to say “Ahmadinejad”), and of course mentioned his POW experience (which he often he reminds people he that he does not like to talk about!), and the boring  “I was not voted Miss congeniality” line (he mentioned this twice).

The only hope for more exciting follow on debates is if McCain falls back further in the polls (as he appears to be doing now) making the debates that much more critical to him. The other scenario is if Senator Obama manages to get under Senator McCain’s skin and trigger his supposed bad temper. Barring these or some untoward events like the release of a new “Osama tape”, the remaining debates promise more of the same. (Aren’t you happy McCain picked Sarah Palin? At least there is something to look forward to in the debates:-)

p.s: The audience was forced to remain silent throughout the debate. This was one of the positives of the debate.