What are your thoughts on the Inauguration?

Here are some of my thoughts:

What are yours?

Inaugural Photos

Rachel and I went out to see Barack Obama’s Inauguration today. We were far enough back that we couldn’t actually see what was going on at the Capitol, but here are some shots of what we did see, both in our trek to and from the National Mall and our experience there.

Regardless of your political persuasion, there is no doubt that the inauguration of America’s first African-American President is an historic moment, and it was very cool to be there for it.

How did you experience the Presidential Inauguration?

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I took this shot on the way home from the inauguration. It was inspired by a similar (although much better) one from David Russell. There are some things that are too easily forgotten.

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This is Bernard (or so we’ve named him), the St. Bernard that lives across the street from us. He’s quite cute.

I Voted

Well, I got done voting a little while ago. Everything went just fine. Be sure to check out my quick video recap at the bottom of the post.

On my way to the polls

On my way to the polls

My Ride

My Ride

Me on my way in

Me on my way in

Electioneering signs outside the polling place

Electioneering signs outside the polling place

Vote Here

Vote Here

Entrance

Entrance

The Line

The Line

My Ballot

My Ballot

The Voting Machine

Voting Machine

Voting Booths

Voting Booths

Mission Accomplished

Mission Accomplished



Recap

Robots Attack!

This is the kind of out of the box thinking that has brought the Obama campaign so far. Regardless of your political persuasion, you’ve got to admit that this is creative and not the type of thing you expect to see from a serious presidential campaign.

Bill Clinton Rocks the DNC

Having grown up in a Republican family, I was never a huge fan of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Having since become a Democrat, I had come to like them quite a bit more. I’ve been an Obama supporter from the beginning but didn’t have anything against Hillary Clinton as president. However, by the end of the primary season, I was fed up with both Clintons. It seemed they were willing to tear the Democratic Party apart in an effort to get Hillary elected, even after the delegate math made it virtually impossible (not impossible in the most literal sense but rather something of an absurdity).

That said, I was impressed with Hillary Clinton’s speech last night. As I tweeted before hearing any of the pundits’ analysis, Hillary gave the speech that Obama needed her to give. However, I was probably even more impressed with Bill’s speech tonight. While he didn’t really stick to his assigned topic, national security/foreign policy, he wove together concerns about the economy and foreign policy into a speech that recognized both the things about Obama that make him particularly suited to be President and the more general policy positions that he holds that will be good for Americans.

Perhaps most impressive was the way in which he characterized John McCain. The Democratic strategy has been to try to tie McCain to George W. Bush by saying that his policies will lead to a “third Bush term.” The idea of course being that Bush is so unpopular that if McCain is seen as just like Bush, then Americans won’t elect him. However, this is a difficult claim to make because of McCain is known for his tendency to break from his party. (I believe this was once but is no longer true of McCain, but that’s another discussion.)

In contrast, Bill Clinton simply recognized McCain’s status as a maverick; he embraced it. But what he did next was genius. He essentially said that yes, McCain is a maverick and does break with the Republican Party but that on the two most important issues of this election, restoring America’s leadership in the world and the American economy, he is just like every other Republican. Put in the context of Clinton’s speech, which was about these two issues, he made a very persuasive argument.

In short, I was impressed with both Bill Clinton’s policy discussion and his critique of John McCain. Combined with his strong statements of support for Barack Obama, this was exactly the speech that Barack Obama and the Democratic Party needed.

Watch an excerpt, hopefully the rest to come soon:

Hillary Clinton Moves to Suspend the Rules and Nominate Barack Obama

Moments ago Hillary Clinton, while announcing the votes of the New York delegation, moved to suspend the rules of the Democratic National Convention and declare Barack Obama the Democratic Presidential nominee by acclamation, thus suspending the roll call vote. At an inflection point in this election when the Democratic party could either unite in an effort to win the presidency or divide and likely lose, Hillary Clinton rose to the occasion to unite the Democratic Party.

Absurdity

A couple of days ago John McCain released an ad which states that Hillary Clinton is not Obama’s running mate because she spoke hard truths about Obama.

The ad is beyond absurd. McCain is essentially invoking Hillary Clinton’s expertise in judging character and competency. For years conservatives have blasted Hillary Clinton. At one McCain campaign event, a supporter calls Hillary a b****, and McCain simply laughs about it. McCain once chided Senator Clinton for supporting a museum dedicated to Woodstock. Until now he seemed to have no great respect for Mrs. Clinton, but when it suits him he treats her like an expert on Obama’s qualifications to be President and thinks she should be his Vice Presidential nominee. It is patently absurd that Hillary Clinton went from the person that the right loved to hate to an expert on character, judgment and experience and the best Democratic candidate for the Vice Presidency.

As for the real reasons that Hillary was not picked as Obama’s VP, I can imagine that there were a two big ones: her unwillingness to conceed defeat in the primary when she was obviously beaten and Bill Clinton. Senator Joe Biden, who Obama picked to be his running mate, said some things about Obama that weren’t exactly flattering (not personal attacks, but not great either). Senator Obama is willing to have people around him who hold different viewpoints. In fact, when he first entered the Senate he gathered together advisors from across the political spectrum. Once again, this ad is absurd.

Joe Biden as Obama’s VP Candidate

[Update] The official announcement is here: http://polfeeds.com/item/Message-from-Barack-The-Next-Vice-President

News has recently leaked that Barack Obama has selected Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) as his Vice Presidential running mate. I find this to be an incredibly interesting choice.

At age 29, Senator Biden was the youngest person ever elected to the U.S. Senate. He turned 30 (the Constitutionally mandated minimum age for a U.S. Senator) between his election and his swearing in. His birthday being on November 20th, it would be very difficult for anyone younger to ever be elected to the Senate.

He has run for the Democratic Presidential nomination on a few occasions (most recently during this cycle) and is known to be quite verbose, having occasionally gotten himself into trouble as a result. However, as of late he has shown more restraint when speaking, famously answering simply “Yes” when asked if he would be able to exercise said verbal restraint as President. On a related note, Biden got himself into hot water early last year when he made comments about Senator Obama that some believed to be racist. I’m not going to get too far into that, except to say that I believe the comments were mostly innocent but that they do belie an unfortunate stereotype of African-Americans. Senator Biden meant no ill-will, but nonetheless, he chose his words poorly and in doing so exposed some all too common assumptions about Black Americans. Of course, at least part of this can probably be chalked up to Biden’s natural tendency to misspeak.

Moving away from the trivia, Senator Biden brings a wealth of foreign policy experience to the ticket. He is widely recognized as a foreign policy expert, having been Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. While his selection may help allay some fears about Senator Obama’s perceived lack of experience, he brings no state/regional electoral advantage, and his long tenure in the Senate may undermine Senator Obama’s message of change. That said, I think it more likely that the powerful message and presence that Obama brings will make up for this.

As for my opinion, well, I like Senator Biden. He’s smart, and he knows the issues. He’s not perfect, and I’m not sure he’s the greatest choice politically. However, he is more than qualified for the job. While I’m sure political considerations came into account when selecting a running mate and I may be underestimating his political value, this is very possibly one time when a candidate’s quality and qualification trumped political consideration. Kudos to Senator Obama for choosing someone who can fill his shoes should the unfortunate need ever arise.

Obama Wins Wyoming

With 78% of precincts reporting, Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton 59-40. I think it’s safe to say that Barack Obama has won the Wyoming caucuses.

Leave Online Political Analysis to the Experts

Or at least those willing do some research. Brian Stelter of the New York Times is something of a phenom when it comes to news about the TV industry, having started the influential blog tvnewser.com and subsequently being hired by the New York Times straight out of college, but his article on the “It’s 3 AM and I’m ready to be President” campaign ads of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (embedded below – hat tip to TechPresident) shows that being an expert on one medium doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re qualified to discuss other types of media.

Mr. Stelter states that “Three days after it made its television debut, the Clinton commercial had registered more than 600,000 views on YouTube, and Mr. Obama’s recorded over 200,000, making the dueling advertisements the first breakout hits of the YouTube campaign. (Some campaign videos are lucky to receive 10,000 views.)”

While it may be true that some campaign videos don’t hit 10,000 views, I’m not sure what metric that Mr. Stelter is using to determine what makes a YouTube video a “breakout hit.” By far, the biggest video of the campaign season is “Yes We Can” by will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, having received over 12 million views spread across the numerous copies posted to YouTube, but we can look back much farther for breakout hits. Perhaps the first big hit of the 2008 Presidential election was 1984/Vote Different by Phil de Vellis with over 5 million views (again over multiple uploads), and who could forget Obama Girl. None of these are candidate produced videos, but we need only go to Obama’s response to the State of the Union (1.3 million), Obama’s victory speech in Iowa (1 million), and many others to find videos that have been viewed many more times than either of these. In fact, Obama’s SOTU response has been watched more times than both of those ads put together.

I’ll admit that I may be overly defensive of new forms of media, be it blogs, online video, or social networks, but it irks me when someone in the mainstream press makes a blatantly untrue statement that trivializes the revolution that is taking place in the field of communications.

Since this is my blog, I’m also going to take the opportunity to editorialize on the videos just a bit and note that YouTube users have rated Clinton’s “3 AM” video with one star out of a possible five (Obama’s version has four) and that tens of thousands of her views have come from an extremely heavily trafficked DailyKos post slamming the ad.

Hillary’s 3 AM Ad

Obama’s 3 AM Ad

Yes We Can

1984

Obama’s SOTU Response

Obama’s Iowa Speech

Obama’s New Hampshire Speech (Just because I love it and because it’s been viewed more times than Hillary’s 3 AM ad.)