Convention Season and Memory Lane

The US party conventions kick off next week with the Democratic Party convention in Denver. The news that Democratic Party candidate, Barack Obama, has chosen Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate is not a big surprise and is a clear effort by the Presidential hopeful to limit the impact of the charge by McCain supporters that Obama is weak and inexperienced on foreign policy. Democrats will hope that Biden, in his position as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate, will provide Obama with sufficient political cover to neuter what has proved an effective political line of attack for Republicans. Biden will be remembered by political anoraks on this side of the Atlantic for the controversy sparked during his bid for the party’s candidacy in the 1988 Presidential campaign when it was discovered he had plagiarised a speech by the then British Labour Party leader, Neil Kinnock.
I will declare my hand: I’ll be rooting for Obama in this election (like I have for Democrats in every such election in the States), though with the sobering reservation that I’m not sure what difference he’ll make in the disastrous field that is US foreign policy. But I live in hope.
The 1984 Democratic Primary campaign was significant in that it was the first time a black American politician mounted a serious challenge for the nomination of either of the two political parties in the US- the politician being Jesse Jackson (he also ran unsuccessfully in 1988.)
I was fortunate enough as a nine year old to attend that Convention in 1984, held in the beautiful city of San Francisco. Anyone who has been will know just why Tony Bennett left his heart there…
My father was a party delegate for the state of Arizona, which at the time meant very little to me, beyond being the reason why my family would all be packed into the station wagon to make the long, hot journey across the Mojave Desert to California.
That holiday has remained etched in my mind in the form of a number of patchy, but glorious reminscinces: the sites of the Bay City remain most vividly in that corner of my mind which has stored the happiest/ photogenic holiday memories: the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, Redwood Forest, Lombard Street aka- the ‘crookedest road in the world,’ streetcars, Chinatown, Fishermans Wharf- I can recall them all (and, for someone with an appalling memory, that’s some personal feat!)
I can also remember a Chinese-American shop owner being so impressed that I was an avid 49ers’ fan that he gifted me with a commemorative Super Bowl XVI badge which I still have to this day. Sports fans will know that the former Notre Dame great, Joe Montana, led the 49ers to a famous victory in the January 1982 Super Bowl, at that time the solitary triumph of the then formerly sporting success starved city.
Other than the memories of San Francisco, I can recall watching the culmination of the Olympic Men’s Marathon event from our motel room in San Diego and being delighted that an Irishman had gained a medal (John Treacy’s silver being Ireland’s only medal at the Los Angeles games that year.)
It is therefore ironic that the only memories I retain of the actual Convention are of watching the Jackson ‘rainbow coalition’ speech in our hotel room (somewhat disinterestedly, unlike my mother) and of watching some unknown speaker mid-speech from the floor of the Convention hall, having been brought in during a quieter period to experience the event. US Party Conventions invariably attract protests from many disparate groups. For some reason, I remember catching a glimpse of a protester’s placard which referred to ‘POL POT,’ a picture that not only stayed with me but puzzled me for years to come as, having heard of ‘pot,’ I couldn’t understand who or what Pol was and why he had it….
The 1984 Democratic presidential ticket included another first, with Geraldine Ferraro becoming the first female to run for Vice President. Of course, Democrats will be hoping for a different outcome this time as the 1984 campaign witnessed a comprehensive trouncing of the Walter Mondale- Ferraro ticket by the Ronald Reagan-inspired Republicans.
While it’s sure to be a lot closer, time will tell whether the Democrats can regain the White House this time around.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Great stuff Chris! What an adventure, so much to learn and investigate. To those who haven’t yet worked it out, travel is the best form of education there is. And I don’t mean Ibithfaaaaa neever.

    Anyhow I watch the west thing well the auld episodes that are on E4 at the moment. And It was a no brainer that he would have to go for a mate who was heavy where he was light. Who was Bush’s mate again? A good all rounder was he?

  • Harry Flashman

    Hillary won’t be happy, neither will her supporters.

    Prediction for this time next year; “Barack Who?”

  • BfB

    Joe Biden?
    Brace yourself Bridget…..
    Obamaland gets curious and curiouser….
    Rumor has it that Biden was the only one who would take the spot….;-)

  • USA

    No, its Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al who have screwed America.
    “Rumor has it that Biden”, excatly, baseless rumor seemingly being started by you.
    How many houses does McCain have, or do you not know either?

    Nice personal story, or was it plagiarised like Biden / Kinnock? I’m suprised to hear you lived in the US for a while. Are you and your parents citizens?
    San Fran is indeed a nice town, i’ve been there a few times.

  • Greenflag

    Wise choice by Obama . Biden can be a ‘rottweiler’ but he’ll tear the Republicans apart with a smile .

    For a taste of what’s to come

    Biden on McCain

    “Twenty years of experience that has not been very solid in terms of projecting what was going to happen just doesn’t make you a better commander in chief,” Biden said, referring to McCain.

    “We don’t need as a commander in chief a war hero. John’s a war hero. We need someone with some wisdom.”

    So how does Biden help Obama politically? Biden is Roman Catholic. There are nearly 70 million Roman Catholics in the United States, about 20 percent of the electorate, and they can tip the balance in a close contest.

    Biden also has roots in Pennsylvania, a swing state. Obama lost the state to Sen. Hillary Clinton in the primaries. Biden’s support could help the campaign win the state in November.

    “You’re getting national security experience, you’re getting enthusiasm, and you hope you’re getting some help in those white, working-class, blue-collar towns where Barack Obama needs help.

    Biden is also of Irish American ancestry which won’t do him any harm apart from places like like Alabama or Utah .

    Overall a great choice by Obama. Other than Hilary he could not have done better -imo.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Sorry, not plagiarised, but I liked the suggestion.

    Born and raised (for a while) in Phoenix, all citizens. Still have the passion for US sports: flipping between a poor Brady Quinn performance in the Lions-Browns pre-season game and White Sox-Rays game on TV as I type…

  • USA

    Phoenix is a wonderful place. The drive north to Red Rocks / Sedona is true wild west scenery.
    There is a Belfast man called Seamus McCaffrey who owns a great Irish pub in Phoenix.

    So Biden it is then. I believe he is a Senator for the state of Delaware. Its a small state that borders the swing state of Pennsylvania. They have no sales tax (VAT) and low corporation tax. This attracts a lot of corporations to set up headquarters in the state. It is also the center of the Credit Card processing industry so he probably has a strong business background.
    I believe there was a personal tragedy in his life some years ago which may have involved the death of one of his children.

  • RepublicanStones

    No doubt Obama’s decision to pick Biden will please his AIPAC mates.

  • BfB


    Counting houses, a real deep thinking lib…
    You guys are screwed..
    Obama the baby killer and Biden the serial liar….

    Romney will block Bidens hat…
    You see ole Mitt has actually accomplished somethings in his life…Olympics, business, surviving in that socialist shithole Assachusetts..
    Keep checking for that text message…prat

  • Harry Flashman

    I believe the answer to how many houses McCain owns is none, any property he has is owned by his wife or held in trusts, that was the reason he had to come back to clarify the issue.

    Simple really, a non story.

    Not like Barack Obama crashing and burning big time in November (if Hillary allows him to get that far in the convention), now that’s an epic, get me my pop-corn.

  • latcheeco

    O.K Greenflag I’ll bite,
    Why would it harm him in Alabama particularly? It might help him a wee bit in Alabama. You never know, there might be one or two Irishmen about down there (not forgetting the descendants of Confederate Irish units like the 15th Alabama infantry from Montgomery of course or the Emmet guards and Emerald greens from Mobile).
    I’ll ask them if they’ve found any particular anti-irish prejudice here or was it something you just read in a book or even more likely made up) Either way it’s unlikely their votes will upset any of your electoral college predictions though.:) Slan Latch

  • latcheeco

    Any way, back on topic and ignoring ignorant suggestions painting Mississippians as model gaelophiles (i hope there is such a word). Biden is generally sound but can be, pardoning the horrible metaphorical melange, a loose cannon with foot in mouth disease (his earlier remarks re ubiquitous asians and gas stations).He will work well for the blue collars though and has a decent biography. I was honestly very surprised by it and I am an Obama supporter. I think Obama is seething just as much as the Clintons over the primaries and their “if i can’t have it neither can you tactics” and who else was there really if not Biden? Apparantly Hilery believes he should have consulted her first over the choice. The should be renamed the meglomanians.

  • latcheeco

    Is it true the National Guard were mobilized in Savannah after GW heard the Russians had invaded Georgia?

  • Perhaps Hibernophile, latcheeco

    Here are a couple of Biden youtube links that caught my attention:

  • Greenflag


    ‘Why would it harm him in Alabama ‘

    On reflection what I was trying to say was

    ‘Even if Jesus Christ was to reappear and put himself forward as the Democrat’s candidate Utah and Alabama are States that will be red this November.

    Joe I suspect will not be spending much if any time in either He will be seen and heard in Ohio , Pennsylvania , Minnesota , Wisconsin , Virginia and other marginal States .

  • Greenflag

    ‘Is it true the National Guard were mobilized in Savannah after GW heard the Russians had invaded Georgia? ‘


    Sounds like a Bush/Cheney plan alright ๐Ÿ™

    Mobilise and plan after Iraqi invasion not before ๐Ÿ™ That way you get to kill more of your own troops , more of theirs and turn 95% of the world against the USA . A stroke of genius ๐Ÿ™ In addition you create such destruction that you provide vast opportunities for private sector contractors (now 180,000 in Iraq ) who make billions and Mr Cheney’s pals in Haliburton and Blackstone securities who make tens of billions.

  • USA

    I know your type and I find you obnoxious. Comments such as “Obama the baby killer and Biden the serial liar” are a perfect example of why I will not waste my time engaging you.

    Mitt Romney seems to be a good man.

    You are pretty much right. Obama / Biden will not be spending many resources in the south with the exceptions of Georgia and Florida. Biden will be deployed to try and win the retired Jewish vote in Florida. (Biden is popular with Jewish people due to his strong support for Isreal which is always a safe course of action for a successful polihere in the US). In Georgia they will try to increase the voter registration of the large African American population and there may be a third runner (Barr) in that state which may cost the republicans a few percentage points.
    But ultimately Obama is hoping Biden helps deliver white working class votes in PA, West VA, Ohio.

  • USA

    Harry Flashman,
    The McCain house blunder was certainly an issue here. It was a gaffe that Obama immediately used to his advantage, its out there and i’m sure McCain regrets it. It’s not a huge issue but its publicity McCain doesn’t need and i’m sure it cost him votes.
    Credit crunches, mortgage meltdowns with Fanny Mac and Freddy May, high fuel prices, food prices all while McCain is not really sure how many houses he has.
    If its was a non issue Harry Flashman how come the Democrats spent resources on TV attack ads on the topic.
    The democrats claim he has 7 houses, the republicans eventually made a statement saying McCain has 4 homes “and some investment properties”.
    It just didn’t play well with the electorate.

  • latcheeco

    Mitt will be more of a liability down here than Biden I think. I believe there has not been a Republican majority in the Alabama statehouse since the civil war, but they always go republican in the presidential.
    Cheers for the links (and the elucidation)
    Having seven houses does not play well with people who are wincing everytime the approach a gas station. Goldman Sachs just predicted $149 by the end of the year.If that is true McCain’s perceived wealth will certainly play against him everywhere in November.
    Not knowing or giving a straight answer on how many houses you own is a big gaff for a presidential candidate on the straight-talk express.
    BTW Tropical Storm Fay is turning out to be a real fairy. Not at all like the real rain you get at the bottom of Broadway Roundabout. Slan Latch

  • Greenflag

    The Bush /Cheney Republicans have proved themselves to be serial incompetents and non achievers ..

    Bush promised he’d balance the Budget -he did’nt .
    He said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction he did’nt. He said most of his tax cuts would go to the middle class -they did’nt . He said he’d be a ‘uniter’ not a divider – ( he got it backwards) .He even said the USA was going to Mars and then left everybody behind , the country’s economy in the tank , a worldwide foreign policy disaster , and a property market meltdown .

    Despite the fact that the Iraq War has been the worst disaster in US history -that is until the Cheney/Dubya team invade Iran ๐Ÿ™ this election will probably be decided on the economy unless the Russians pull another ‘bait ‘ Uncle Sam adventure .

    McCain is clearly rudderless on economic issues and is too closely aligned with Bush’s economic record . His ‘how many home’s ‘ memory lapse will not impress the two million Americans either in or facing into foreclosures nor the tens of millions of Americans who are a payment or two away from foreclosure.

    Not well known is the fact that Joe Biden offered his expertise and advice in foreign affairs to Dubya post 9/11 . Dubya preferred to prance around on aircraft carriers and sending 8 billion dollars a month into a bottomless pit in Iraq ๐Ÿ™

    When the full truth of the Bush Cheney 8 years of serial economic and foreign policy incompetence becomes known the word ‘conservative’ will become the top derisory epithet in the political lexicon .

  • Greenflag

    latch ,

    ‘Mitt will be more of a liability down here than Biden I think’

    Can’t see him picking Mitt Romney. The South may be a safe bet for the ‘babbling in tongues’ born agains and preachers for Armageddon but not for a Mormon – Romney’s economic credentials not withstanding . McCain is between the proverbial rock and hard place in picking a VP . If he goes too far left/liberal (Lieberman, Ridge, Romney) the born agains stay home in November . If he picks a ‘born again’ Huckabee , what’s left of the Republican liberals will either abstain or go over to the Democrats .

    I can see some of Hilary Clinton’s supporters staying at home but the Biden pick will reassure most of her support base .

  • Harry Flashman

    Keep whistling past the graveyard folks, who wants to take my bet, Obama loses heavily in Nov 4th?

    Come on boys, how many extra votes will Biden (as a matter of interest how many houses do you think he owns?) bring to the party? Will it make a difference to a campaign that’s already circling the toilet drain?

  • latcheeco

    The fun is starting. The new McCain ad uses three quotes from Hilery casting doubts on Obama back in the primaries. One thing is sure, Hilery will get the blame if it goes south and there are four more years of Bush.She put herself before party and will be badly damaged goods as a democrat if McCain gets in.
    The South is not at all the stereotype from the 1960’s that you appear to think it is. Louisiana, Georgia, South Alabama and Florida have very large Catholic constituencies. Actually Huckabee is not the worst bet for McCain. He is very personable, smart and popular all over and his record in Arkansas was very conciliatory and middle of the road.Ridge would probably be best but for his abortion stance and “stock up with duck tape gaff”.
    Biden is irrelevant as long as he does no harm.It’s the economy stupid. I would imagine someone as sharp as Biden at least knows how many he owns and doesn’t need to ask anybody.

  • latcheeco

    Actually they have been extremely successful and competent and high achievers. They were in office to enrich themselves from war profits. They managed to start a war with a third world country with no casus belli and everybody went along and other countries even helped out. A+ on their report card.

  • Harry Flashman

    While trolling the YouTube vaults for something else entirely quite by chance I came across this fascinating snippet, it’s only five minutes long and for anyone who was too young to follow US politics at the time will come as quite a revelation. It made me think immediately of the catastrophe that the Democrats are self inflicting in Denver this week.

    Have a look;

    Don’t make the wrong choice!

  • latcheeco

    Repubs using Hilery to bait Obama has changed the game for the Clintons. They will have to tread carefully now and be wary of upstaging anyone. She still has to go back to the Senate and work. Clearly the reason she ruled herself out of the running for v.p. GOP would have had even more of a field day quoting her own words.

  • latcheeco

    I hate to say it but deep down everybody knows this election will boil down to how bad the economy is versus skin color.

  • Greenflag

    ‘I hate to say it but deep down everybody knows this election will boil down to how bad the economy is versus skin color.’

    Or in other words how many white working class voters will vote against their economic interests and vote for the Party of God and War or out of envy because they never did get to go to Harvard or Yale etc etc .

    I suspect most Americans will rise above ‘skin colour’ politics . If they don’t they can expect another 4 years of the rich getting richer and further impoverishment of what Americans call the ‘middle class’.

  • latcheeco

    I’d love to agree with you about economic interest but where do the poor anywhere ever really vote in their real interest. Turkeys tend to vote for Christmas/Thanksgiving;;Bush got in twice after all. I doubt it has anything to do with elitism just racism versus economic interest. Its so ingrained even if everybody denies it the economy will have to be bad to overcome it. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about which may or may not be analgous or typical but: I work with a middle aged woman , a life long dem. whose husband is the dem. mayor of a small town. She told me in absolute candour that the thought of Obama as CinC completely terrifies her. Again that’s in the South and that may not be typical but it’s at least an indication of the size of the “mountain.”

  • Greenflag


    ‘but where do the poor anywhere ever really vote in their real interest.’

    Or more accurately where do they ever really vote in numbers proportional to their share of the population .

    The economy is bad – So bad in fact that the pols, Federal Reserve , and Wall St are not expecting any upturn for maybe a couple of years if then These problems are not just the usual cyclical events -they are deeply structural and have been embedding themselves further into the American economy for the best part of 25 years. The USA is now a ‘debtor’ nation not a creditor . If intersts rates rise which is what many in Wall St are demanding so as to ‘flush out’ all the losers in the most recent ‘ponzi ‘ scheme it’s the USA taxpayer who will take a further hit . The American National Debt now costs some 400 to 500 billion a year. If/when interest rates rise as they surely must that national interest will hit the trillion mark ,and the dollar will be toilet tissue .

    If the Republicans play the ‘race card ‘ which would not surprise me with the Karl Rove element in the GOP now pulling the strings in a vain attempt to re-launch the McCain no surrender one wheel wagon that can also backfire . Some 11% of African Americans voted Republican in 2004 . The Republicans do not want to lose any of them nor the social conservatives nor the liberal republicans .

    The bottom line as regards the Republican Party’s economic priorities over the past 8 years has been to take money out of Joe Sixpack’s wallet to pay for Donald Trump’s tax cut . That’s not an economc plan .That’s not an economic plan .It’s a ‘ponzi ‘ scheme . The children of the baby boomers will be hoping that their children or their childrens children will be able to pay off the Chinese , Saudis , and Japanese .

    Perhaps the Republicans can come up with a new trade off to those to whom they have indebted the USA . Now that they have outsourced most decent paying jobs which the former white working class could rely on why not re-introduce ‘white slavery ‘ and export these poor whitey’s to China and other fast developing nations as cheap labour ?

    Give these ‘conservatives’ time and they’ll even quote you Adam Smith to prove that if it’s waht the market wants then that’s what the market gets .

    As an aside the above trend has already started in Japan where some retaurants catering to high wage Japanese are now employing only white americans and europeans as waiters’ . What’s upmarket today will sooner or later end up standard for the hoi polloi .

  • BfB

    For you useful idiots and your brainless trust in

  • latcheeco

    I think they’ve safely written off getting any of the AA vote but everybody here is so extremwely sensitive to outright charges of racism that it will be subtlely used until close to the end.
    They already have indentured servitude here its called Walmart. Unless they start paying the retail/service industries middle class wages and these jobs then replace exported manufacturing jobs then all you will have is an eventual return to surfdom/aristocracy. Free trade has been a disaster with countries like China but they are paying our war/deficit note so until we get out from under that were hoisted by the short ones.

  • latcheeco

    “extremwely” was that a weird English public school boy moment?

  • Greenflag


    ‘โ€œextremwelyโ€ ‘

    Naw that was a mild case of ‘dyslexia’ KO or should that be OK ;)?

    ‘here is so extremwely sensitive to outright charges of racism that it will be subtlely used ‘

    Subliminal conditioning is what the psychops call it . You can bet your remaining home equity that Karl Rove , Cheney & Co are deeply embedded deep in the vault of ‘dirty tricks ‘. You can expect ‘racial ‘ swiftboating but it’ll be less crass than that hurled at Kerry -reason being there are ‘laws’ with penalties and jail time and large financial fines against those who ahem cross the line .

    I have more confidence than you seem to have in the good sense of most Americans . We forget that most Americans are not ultra Dems or ultra Republicans . Many of these people who switched off their ‘thinking ‘ as a result of 9/11 have now seen the light and that light is telling them that the biggest terrorist and economic threat to the USA is not Al Quaeda or China but another 4 years of a Bush ‘lite’ Republican administration .

  • Greenflag

    Question 1 :

    ‘Is there a conspiracy among oil interests , Republican moguls and power brokers , and the military industrial complex to wage a war for global domination and control of the world’s oil reserves ?

    Answer 1 :

    No . They’re actually very open about it ๐Ÿ™

    Question 2 :

    Are they winning .

    Answer 2 .

    When they started the USA and it’s allies and suppliers controlled either directly or indirectly about 50% of the world’s oil supplies .

    Now they control 20% .Thus according to the Bush doctrine that would represent a win ๐Ÿ™ When it’s 10% he’ll declare absolute victory and when it’s 1% you can be he’ll fly into Annapolis on a fighter jet declaring the ‘oil and energy ‘ issue accomplished ๐Ÿ™

  • latcheeco

    Hate to say it Greenflag but they are the same good sense as people everywhere. I am an optimist but wouldn’t rely on good sense unless the gaspump is hurting them.

  • BfB

    McCain and ANYBODY.. ’08
    You yurpeens are so out of touch will the real USA it is a bit sad. But you must fiddle while your neck of the woods smolders, must you not?

    ‘It’s safe to say that America can not afford Barack Obama, and we’re going to be sick to death of smokin’ Joe Biden by the end of October. And, when the dust settles, the grownups around here that still look out for the collective best interests of our country will have successfully averted a disastrous administration by putting McCain in the White House to hold us over until some younger grown ups can be found that really DO care more about the best interests of “we, the People” that pay THEM to do our bidding…in the White House and around the Halls of Congress…than they do about all that fame and celebrity they lust for.
    However much I might struggle with McCain, this is a slam dunk now…thanks Barry, for the memories…but most of all for helping me see the error of my earlier ways.’

  • BfB

    I know you thin veneered, useful idiot types are deeply offended by true statements, and I don’t give a shit what you think, which is a word that probably doesn’t describe your addled mental processes. Please continue to make my points about clueless, reality suspending, lemmings, aka progressive, change making, elites..

  • latcheeco

    Still waiting for your “Grown-ups” to explain why the hell we’re involved in the monumental blunder that is Iraq, or why the economy they have been running for eight years is a mess. Tell the truth, by “Grown-ups” what you really mean is a return to a European style, eighteenth century aristocracy in the U.S, where “Grown-ups” will happily tear up the parts of the Constitution they don’t like and exist as mandarins in a satelite of China.

  • BfB

    the monumental blunder that is Iraq

    There is your problem. Most Americans don’t see it as a monumental blunder. Only those who write the articles you read. Just because you say and write it a million times doesn’t make it so. You eurpeens are really a bunch of recalcitrant children. That’s why the socialist, democrat, infanticide favoring, free speech suppressing, Barry Obama appeals to you.
    Tsk, tsk

  • latcheeco

    Really,Iraq’s not a mess. When will it fulfill Wolfiwitz’s assertion that it will pay for itself rather than sponging 12 billion a month of our taxes.Any time soon, ever? How weak are the Tabliban/Al Quaeda now while young Americans are dying by the Tigris nowhere near Bin Laden? There was no Al Quaeda in Mesapotamia in Saddam’s time. You broke it you own it.
    And btw a surge with the goal of getting troops down to pre-surge levels is not a measure of success.
    How much extra have you paid in gas? How much has your hopuse depreciated? And out of interest where are you standing,by the stars and stripes on the moon?

  • latcheeco

    By “most Americans” do you mean the 30% who approve of Bush? Bush economics wonderfully illustrated!

  • BfB


    I commented on your ‘Iraq mess’ lie, no swerving when confronted with the truth. Unless, of course, you’re an Obamite….

    ‘Voter confidence in the War on Terror is at the highest level ever recorded since Rasmussen Reports began regular tracking in January 2004. Fifty-four percent (54%) of American voters now think the United States and its allies are winning the war. The previous high-water mark for optimism–52%–was reached a handful of times in September and October 2004.’