Friday, August 29, 2008

Veepstakes Demographics: How Did I Do?

In May, I made a few predictions regarding the "demographic affiliation" of the Republican and Democratic vice presidential nominees. Now that we know who the running mates are, I can see how I did. My predictions are in Italics, followed by the results:

First of all, no more than one of the running mates will be a white male Christian. It is quite possible neither one of them will be a WASP, but definitely not both of them.

I got this one right. Joe Biden is a white male Christian. Sarah Palin is a white female Christian. I was wrong about the possibility that both won't be WASPs, but I was right that at least one won't be. Joe Biden is a Roman Catholic (the P in WASP stands for Protestant).

Since I doubt that all four people on the two major tickets will be senators, no more than one current senator will be a VP nominee.

Indeed, one of the four people on the major party tickets is not, nor ever was, a senator: Sarah Palin.

Both will come from either red (conservative) or purple (swing) states. Neither one will come from a blue (liberal) state, unless Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton run together.

I was wrong here. Only one of the running mates fits this description. Gov. Palin comes from Conservative Alaska. Sen. Biden comes from the safe Democratic state of Delaware. The swing states are not on either ticket.

If Barack Obama wins the Democratic presidential nomination, his running mate will not be black. John McCain's running mate will probably not be black, either.

Sure enough, both VP candidates are white.

Both running mates will be between the ages of 50 and 65.

I was half right, sort of. Sarah Palin has not reached this age range - she is 44. Joe Biden is exactly 65, but will be 66 by Inauguration Day.

One or both of the running mates will be a member of at least one of the following groups: women, Latinos and Jews.

No Latinos or Jews, but Sarah Palin is definitely a woman. I predicted correctly.

Neither RM will be openly gay or bisexual, nor will be even suspected as such.

In this still homophobic age, this one was a no-brainer.

At least one, but probably both, will have previous executive experience as a governor, major city mayor, United States Cabinet member, diplomat, high ranking military officer or a prosecutor.

Well, technically I was correct. One running mate, Sarah Palin, indeed has executive experience, but not much. She has been governor of the small state of Alaska for less than half a term (two years), and before that was mayor of a tiny city. I'd say that even Joe Biden, as the chairman of two powerful committees - the judiciary and especially the foreign relations committee, has more executive, and certainly diplomatic, experience than Gov. Palin, although he has never held an outright executive office.

My score: Six right, 2 half right, none completely wrong. You could say that's 7 out of 8. Not bad.

Excitement Deficit Disorder

I can't imagine myself staying up till 6 a.m. in the morning to hear an Israeli political rally or debate. Yet, when it comes to American politics, I often do just that. Yesterday, I stayed up all night in order to hear Al Gore and Barack Obama's speeches. I had to force myself not to stay up each night to watch the Democratic National Convention so I would not ruin my whole week, sleep-wise. Next week, I don't plan on sleeping on the night of John McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.

As an Israeli-American dual citizen who lives in Israel and is a political junky, Israeli politics interests me very much. It doesn't excite me, though. American politics does. I think that in general, while Israelis are much more involved in politics than most Americans, there always seems to be more excitement among Americans interested in elections than among their Israeli counterparts. I've noticed this long before Barack Obama's charisma and George W. Bush's failures fired up even more political fervor in the United States.

Maybe it just seems that way because I'm here in Israel, living with the muck of Israeli politics on a daily basis, observing American politics from afar. Maybe I've romanticized American politics, or just translated my own deep interest in all things USA into an incorrect generalization. Maybe the Excitement Deficit Disorder also exists in the States during most election years.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The President Joe Lieberman Scenario

Here's an unlikely, yet possible, political scenario for the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections:

Republican presidential nominee John McCain picks so-called Independent Democrat Joe Lieberman as his vice presidential running mate. The McCain-Lieberman ticket defeats the Obama-Biden ticket in November. On January 20, 2009, McCain and Lieberman are sworn in as president and vice-president, respectively. Sometime during the term, John McCain either dies or has to resign for health reasons.

Now Joe Lieberman becomes president. He is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. He nominates a hawkish Democrat as his VP. In 2012, President Lieberman decides to run for a full term, but he cannot run as a Republican or as a Democrat, so he runs as an independent. Since he is the incumbent, he is the strongest independent candidate in years and has an actual chance of winning electoral votes, if not the presidency.

On election day, the votes are split almost evenly between the three major contenders - the Democratic nominee (Hillary Clinton?), the Republican nominee (Mitt Romney?), and Joe Lieberman. Nobody gets at least 270 electoral votes. For the first time since 1824, the House of Representatives will have to choose a president, and for the first time since 1837, the Senate will have to elect a vice president.

I don't want this to happen, but it would certainly be interesting politically if it did.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Joe Biden for VP

I like Joe Biden. I like him much more than I like Barack Obama. I certainly like Biden much more than I like John McCain.

I'm surprised Obama chose a running mate with no executive experience, but Biden certainly has a lot of important experience as a senator. In fact, he has been the chairman of two of the most important committees in the United States Senate - the judiciary and foreign relations committees - and committee chairmanships have an executive aspect to them. Biden is more experienced than either presidential candidate.

There certainly is an even greater chance now that I will vote for Obama.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Modest Proposal for Russia and Georgia

Hey, Russia, I've got a suggestion. Maybe Georgia can be convinced to let South Ossetia and Abkhazia gain independence or become part of the Russian Federation if in return, you, Russia, will grant Chechnya independence and recognize Kosovo's independence from Serbia.

What, no takers?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Grandiose, Magnificent, Boring: Olympic Debut

The opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing is a well orchestrated show. It is colorful and beautiful, but I just can't keep my eyes on it. I keep finding myself surfing the web instead of watching what is supposed to be the greatest show on Earth (and as I write this they're literally dancing on a globe). I don't think I suddenly developed ADD. Is it just me, or did China produce a ceremony that, despite its grandiosity, is just plane dull?

Good luck to the Israeli and American athletes: I wish them that if they don't bring home a medal, they at least won't bring home damaged lungs from all the pollution.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Hamas Leader's Anti-Islamic Son

Last weekend's Haaretz magazine had an interesting article by Avi Issacharoff about Masab Yousef, son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, leader of Hamas in the West Bank. Masab converted to christianity, denounced Hamas and Islamism and moved to California, where he is seeking political asylum.

Read the article in English or Hebrew.