Best of the NJDC Policy Conference

BEST JOKE: Joe Biden

Every year, the Yeshiva University crew team takes on the Harvard crew team, and, every year, Yeshiva gets creamed. Finally, the Yeshiva coach says he’s had enough, and asks one of his team members to go spy on the Harvard team, to learn why they are so successful.  The guy goes and hides in the bushes alongside the river, and watches the Harvard team as it passes by. Then, he leaps up, runs from the riverside, and finds his coach.

"I’ve got it!" he says. "I know the secret to their success! They’ve got eight guys rowing, and only one yelling!"

BEST NON SEQUITUR: Joe Biden

Who added: "That’s what we have to do this election: Ignore the malarkey, distractions, emails, and get behind Barack Obama. Straight up, folks."

BEST OPENER: Al Franken

"Thank you Marc. Thank you Ira. Thank you Jews. Thank you Democrats. Thank you members of the press — some of whom are probably Jews."

BEST POLITICAL ANALYSIS: Al Franken

Who noted that he was running against Sen. Norm Coleman (a Jew) who had succeeded Sen. Paul Wellstone (also a Jew), and concluded: "Minnesota is just not ready for a gentile."

MOST OPTIMISTIC ANALYSIS: William Galston, senior fellow, Brookings Institution

"Assuming Sen. Obama does not stumble badly, the odds are he’ll score a narrow but significant victory along the lines of Bush."

BEST ANALYSIS OF SENATE RACES: Amy Walter, Editor-in-chief of the Hotline

"Essentially in the bank" Democratic pickups: Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado, New Hampshire

Democrats have a very good shot: Alaska

Possible Democratic pickups, but still a stretch: Oregon, North Carolina

Tougher races for Democrats: Minnesota, Maine

On election night: 4 or fewer Democratic Senate pickups would be a bad night; 5 or 6 are likely to go Democratic; getting over 6 "means that all hell has broken lose."

BEST ANALYSIS OF HOUSE RACES: Nathan Gonzales, political editor, Rothenberg Political Report

"The Democrats are going to pick up seats, we just don’t know how many yet."

He said, possibly: More than 19.

Among the reasons: There are 26 open GOP seats; only 6 open Democratic seats. Also, the Democrats hold a distinct money advantage: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has $54 million in the bank, compared to $14 million for their GOP counterparts. Democrats are outspending Republicans right now 2-to-1 in competitive districts.

BIGGEST UNDERSTATEMENT: Nathan Gonzales

"It’s hip to like Barack Obama. It’s hip to wear an Obama T-shirt. I don’t think many people think it’s cool to wear a John McCain T-shirt."

BEST EXPLANATION OF SOMETHING I’VE BEEN WONDERING ABOUT: Stuart Rothenberg

Who explained that pollsters believe young people who have only cell phones don’t vote differently from young people who have land lines. (Which would mean the notion that Obama’s support is under-counted in the national polls because many of his supporters only have cell phones is likely false.)

BEST ANALOGY: Amy Walter

Who compared the election to the baseball season. Most people, she said, are just tuning in to the baseball season now, as the playoffs are about to start. "I have no idea who led the league in June," she said. "But I know it now." She added: "All those games played during the season mean very little to me." Similarly, she said, so much of what happened during the primaries and even into the general election — for instance, the Rev. Wright controversy — has little impact on people tuning in now. "It’s just stuff that happened," she said.

BEST SOUNDBITE: Congresswoman Shelley Berkley of Nevada

Who described a meeting she had in March of 2007 with Condi Rice, who was lobbying for support of the administration’s plan to sell $20 billion worth of advanced weapons to the Saudis. (The sale eventually went through, as was reported by the press in July 2007.)

Berkley was very resistant to providing so much deadly weaponry to a Middle East enemy of Israel.

According to Berkley, Rice said: "The president would not do anything to hurt Israel."

At which point Berkley replied: "With all due respect Madame Secretary. In ten months, you won’t be secretary of state. Bush won’t be president. But I’m still going to be Jewish."

BEST FOREIGN POLICY POINT: Congressman Brad Sherman of California

Who said that without Russia’s help, it would be difficult if not impossible to effectively pressure Iran. Yet McCain and Palin appear ready to start and "rigorously wage" a new Cold War with Russia.

"I don’t think we can beat the Russians and the extremists in two simultaneous wars," he said. "We need a smart foreign policy, not an angry foreign policy."

BEST POLITICAL POINT: Ann Lewis, senior advisor to HillPAC

Asked why the issue of Supreme Court nominees has not resonated even more strongly among liberals, Lewis said the threat is still: "Two ifs away."

If I vote for John McCain and if he appoints someone opposed to reproductive rights. It’s less immediate, she said, then, for example, equal pay for equal work.

BEST DOMESTIC POLICY POINT: Joe Biden

Speaking about John McCain’s plan to open up the health care market in the same way that the GOP has opened up the banking industry, he quoted his father: "Don’t tell me what you value, champ. Show me your budget — I’ll tell you what you value."

BEST OVERALL QUOTE : Steve Rabinowitz, President of Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications

How much time should we be devoting in our communities between now and election day to help Obama win?

"I only ask you to spend your every waking moment," he said. "And then — you can do whatever you want."

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7 Responses to “Best of the NJDC Policy Conference”

  1. Loyal says:

    Nice wrap up. Some problems in the details:
    Sunnunu leads Shaheen by 7 in poll out today (NH).
    Kay Hagen leads Liddy Dole in some recent polling (NC)
    Gordon Smith now trailing slightly in Oregon

    And as for Stu Rothenberg — sorry but he seems to have it wrong,

    Mark Blumenthal at Pollster

    Pew, again!

    Thanks for this, Josh.
    Loyal

  2. Neurotic Dem says:

    Go Kos! Great comment on Rothenberg and racism — I totally agree. And I also think it’s a sham that people are critical of Obama for calling out McCain as McSame. Sure, they have some differences — but on the central questions of our time — Should we have gone to war in Iraq; Should we extend the Bush tax cuts in time of war; Should we deregulate as much as humanly possible — he agress with Bush hook, line, and sinker.
    Thanks for the polling update, and the Pew poll. 2-3 points would be HUGE. I’d take one point in some of the swing states!
    Thanks Loyal!
    -ND

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