Tag Archives: McCain

Battleground fatigue: A letter from Columbus

By James Oliphant
Tribune correspondent

October 28, 2008

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Here’s one random sampling from a battleground state, with some margin for error.

“I just want it to end,” my father says. “Make it stop.”

The phone has just rung, and he knows the number. Knows not to answer. “It’s just them,” he mutters.

“Them,” by the way, is a non-partisan designation. When it comes to wanting to be left alone, my father is politically agnostic. It really isn’t his fault. He’s lived here going on 40 years and has watched, helplessly, as his once-sleepy town sprouted up around him, went major-league and now is suffering the consequences of being the most divided large city in one of the most divided states in the union.

Throw in advances in technology and the transformational effect of hundreds of millions in cash, and there is literally nowhere to hide. John McCain, Barack Obama and their surrogates can’t be ducked or dodged. They’re on television, on the phone, pounding on doors, sending mail. When it’s one-and-one, they call that felony stalking. Writ large, it’s the modern political campaign in a make-or-break state.

There’s no relief. Michelle Obama was here Friday. McCain Sunday. It’s like the old joke about the weather here. Don’t like it? Wait. Continue reading


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If McCain went Hollywood

John Woo, Kevin Smith and Wes Anderson weigh in. Well, not really.

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Biden: No brain scans for aneurysms


The Chicago Tribune reports that among recent medical records released by Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, there are no scans that might indicate the potential for another dehabilitating aneurysm such as the ones he suffered 20 years ago. Biden, 65, had multiple brain surgeries following the attacks.

Here’s the report:

Newly released medical records from vice presidential candidate Joe Biden do not include the results of any recent brain scans, which some experts consider necessary to assess whether the senator is at risk for a repeat of the brain aneurysms that nearly killed him 20 years ago. Biden’s most recent physical exam in July showed him to be in good health, according to a letter from Dr. John Eisold that the campaign released Monday. The letter from Eisold, who is the attending physician for Congress, described Biden’s cardiac capacity as excellent.

But the 49 pages of records the campaign released gave no indication that Biden’s doctors sought follow-up tests after the serious aneurysms he suffered in 1988. Medical experts are divided over the need for such precautionary brain scans, but many feel it is the only way to be sure a patient is out of danger.

“If this was my patient, I would re-image every three to five years to make sure no new aneurysm had cropped up,” said Dr. Mark Alberts, a professor of neurology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

The health of the candidates on both sides has become a small but growing issue in the last days of the presidential campaign. A comprehensive look on the subject by the New York Times’ Lawrence K. Altman stated that all four candidates on both tickets could be more forthcoming about their physical condition.

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Obama: ‘Who are they fighting for?’



Barack Obama addresses reporters at a hydroelectric turbine plant in York, Pa. 

YORK, Pa.–Barack Obama said Thursday he wasn’t surprised by the ferocity of Republican attacks this week during the party’s convention in St. Paul.

“This is what they do,” Obama told reporters after a campaign event at a plant in York. “They don’t have an agenda to run on. They haven’t offered a single concrete idea so far in two nights about how they would make the lives of middle class Americans better”

Obama echoed a theme that his campaign has established all day in response to jabs from former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin that questioned his experience and mocked his work as a community organizer as a young man in Chicago.

Obama called the attack on community service “curious.”

“i would argue that doing work in the community to try and create jobs, to bring people together, to rejuvenate communities that have fallen on hard times, to set up job-training programs in areas that have been hard hit when the steel plants closed, that that’s relevant only in understanding where I’m coming from, who I believe in, who I’m fighting for and why I’m in this race.

“And the question I have for them is? Why would that kind of work be ridiculous? Who are they fighting for? Who are they advocating for?

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DOUBLETAKE: Is Mac thumpin’ PC?

Welcome to Doubletake, your morning mash-up with Tribune correspondents Jim Tankersley and Jim Oliphant. Now in new Extreme Arctic Blast flavor.

Jim Oliphant: So, get your text message yet?

Jim Tankersley: No. And my new rule is, no text, no veepstakes in the chat. This is non-negotiable.
Oliphant: I haven’t gotten mine yet either. But this I am pret-ty sure this art student in Denmark has me confused with someone else.

As for the veep, the guessing game has reached critical mass. I’ve read LeBron James is “confident” it’s going to be Tim Kaine, but he’s also hearing Bayh’s name again.

Tankersley: And your streak of mentioning Ohio sports reaches an unprecedented 12 days! Quick, tell me something about your hair. What I’m saying is, I’m not taking your running-mate bait. I refuse.

Oliphant: Sebelius up? Biden down? Hillary in an “October Surprise”?

Tankersley: Say, what do you make of that situation in Pakistan with Musharraf leaving?

Oliphant: Uh, unstable? A tinder box. Yes, a geopolitical tinder box. I think that is always the safe answer.

Do you think he would make a good veep? Build that bridge to the Muslim community?

And–do I have to say it?

Tankersley: You might as well.

Oliphant: Pretty decent head o’ hair for a deposed head of state.

Tankersley: And there it is.



Yes, I took over in a military coup, fired the Supreme Court, and

couldn’t find Osama if he came equipped with a Lojack, but check

out this head of hair. All mine, baby!


Oliphant Here is an excerpt from a recent story on Musharraf by our colleague Kim Barker. Gotta love the introductory graf to the quote.

Many insiders said his resignation was part of a deal allowing him to avoid the humiliation of a public impeachment in Parliament and perhaps avoid criminal charges for actions during his almost nine years as president, including seizing power while army chief in 1999, declaring emergency rule in November, and firing the country’s top judges, also in November.
“I am leaving with satisfaction that whatever I could do for this country, I did that with honesty,” Musharraf told the nation in a televised speech.


Classic stuff.

Tankersley: OK, here’s a topic more up your alley. We’re about to hit the party conventions – I’m off to Denver in fairly short order, in fact – and polls show the race basically tied.So — who’s position would you rather have at this point in the race? McCain or Obama?

Oliphant: McCain.


Read the rest at the Swamp, the blog of the Tribune’s Washington bureau.

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Obama on crime: Doing the Willie Horton?


WASHINGTON — Few presidential candidates in modern times have been identified with a large urban area likeBarack Obama is with Chicago. And sometimes, that can present a problem.

This election season, for instance, the residents of Obama’s hometown are being murdered at a clip not seen in five years.  

Murders have risen 18 percent over a year ago. Assaults in the city involving guns are also rising. City officials, Police Supt. Jody Weis and the police force are increasingly coming under criticism.

But some Republicans say part of the blame also lies with Obama.

They argue that while serving Illinois as its junior senator and earlier, when the Democratic candidate for president was a state lawmaker, Obama didn’t do enough to make violent crime a priority. Specifically, they point to Obama’s votes over gun legislation and the death penalty.

“Whether it was voting against or voting present on issues related to stricter penalties on offenders of serious crimes or disallowing citizens to exercise their right to self-defense, Obama demonstrated poor judgment on an important issue to his constituents,” said Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee.

But Obama’s campaign says the link between Obama’s votes and violent crime is specious, and that Obama has actually done more to effectively combat urban violence than his Republican opponent, John McCain, who it says has consistently resisted federal efforts to place more police officers on the streets and voted against banning vest-piercing, or so-called cop-killer, bullets.

“John McCain voted to keep cop-killer bullets on the street and opposed the bipartisan crime bills of the early ’90s that led to the hiring of thousands of police officers and helped communities stay safe—a record that he will have to explain,” said Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt.

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Hamdan: John McCain statement

ARLINGTON, VA — U.S. Senator John McCain issued the following statement on today’s verdict in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan:

 “I welcome today’s guilty verdict in the first trial held under the Military Commissions Act (MCA). This process of bringing terrorists to justice has been too long delayed, but I’m encouraged that it is finally moving forward. I supported that legislation, which was a good-faith effort by Congress to meet the Supreme Court’s direction to establish a process to bring terrorist detainees to trial. Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a trusted confidante of Osama Bin Laden, was provided a full hearing of the charges against him and was represented by counsel who vigorously defended him. The jury found that the prosecution lawyers had proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Hamdan had aided terrorists by supplying weapons to Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

This process demonstrated that military commissions can effectively bring very dangerous terrorists to justice. The fact that the jury did not find Hamdan guilty of all of the charges brought against him demonstrates that the jury weighed the evidence carefully. Unlike Senator Obama who voted against the MCA and favors giving Al Qaeda terrorists direct access to U.S. civilian courts to contest their detention, I recognize that we cannot treat dangerous terrorists captured on the battlefield as we would common criminals.”

Well, it’s your move, Barack Obama. In the past Obama has criticized the commission system. We will see if he issues a statement today.


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