Belated: FoxNews.com Live
I was on FoxNews.com Live today from noon until about 12:20, chatting about Romney's formal clinching of the nomination, Trump's enduring birtherism, and Syria. If you missed it live, you can catch a replay at the link until Thursday morning (dial the wheel back to 12:00:00).
Will update with any clips that make the highlight reel.
Biden Begins Transition To Retirement
The Vice President is taking the week off, on orders - one surmises - to brainstorm credible reasons for shortly begging off the re-election ticket.
The cover story, of course, is that he's simply a bumbling gaffe-o-matic who needs to be kept far from the press and their unforgivingly accurate recording devices.
Vice President Biden, who has been increasingly prone to gaffes and veering off message as of late, is taking the week off.
Biden will be at home in Wilmington, Delaware for the rest of the week.
Biden has been the victim of many other self-inflicted wounds during the past several weeks, including calling Obama “President Clinton,” calling Romney “President Romney,” suggesting the Irish drink too much, crossing himself in front of a meeting of over 1,000 conservative rabbis, and paying a visit to Florida’s “Evergators,” as he put it.
Odder still, he began raving uncontrollably during a speech for no particular reason, fulminating about how his parents “dreamed as much as any rich guy dreams.”
No doubt about it. This is happening.
Biden's Out, Hillary's In
This is going to happen.
Until now, the idea of Hillary Clinton either primarying Obama or being picked to replace Sheriff Joe has been little more than wishful thinking, whether by increasingly nervous Obama-backers looking for a game changer, by Republicans drooling at the spectacle, or by simple fans of high political intrigue, regardless of partisan stripe.
Biden's uselessness itself wasn't enough to warrant such a drastic, high-risk shakeup. As Vice President, uselessness is central to the job description. Nor has his sensational gaffe propensity, nor his inexplicably high self-regard as an unparalleled genius, made him much of a liability, given the media's aggressive disinterest in portraying him as a irredeemable buffoon.
Still, as the Obama re-election playbook has gradually fanned open, the idea that the President might reluctantly accept Biden's ostensibly self-initiated departure appears more and more likely, approaching the point of inevitability.
Every day we draw nearer the election without the economy managing better than an anemic recovery (with ever fewer poll respondents indicating optimism about the year to come), Obama's re-election hopes dim. With his re-elect numbers consistently under 50% (and tied unmistakably to his handling of the economy), he has no choice but to change the subject. But how to change the subject when it's all your 300 million constituents want to talk about?
Enter the already well-dissected shiny object campaign, a misdirection two-step. #1 - Assign blame elsewhere: an obstructionist Congress, George Bush, rich people, bankers, George Bush, the middle east, Japan, and George Bush. #2 - Glitter bomb the American public with a thrilling series of wholly non-economic distractions - headline-grabbers that tend to rank at the bottom of American voters' priorities lists. They've become too numerous to catalog, but of course they include the "war on women" (beginning in earnest with Sandra Fluke and still going great guns with a self-invited lecture to Barnard's graduating class); completion of a 16-year, full-circle evolution on gay marriage (which doesn't move the needle on the administration's policy prescription); rooftop dogs; long-haired classmates; race-baiting, class-baiting, gender-baiting, etc.
An obliging media has given each new shiny object its due oohing and ahhing, committing days or weeks of coverage to its sheen and luster, but alas, each has failed to sustainably divert Americans' from their enduring malaise.
No object, in other words, has yet proven quite shiny enough, to get voters to quit obsessing over their damn livelihoods.
Enter Hillary, the most blindingly shiny distraction an underwater incumbent President could hope for.
The media narrative writes itself (literally, not figuratively (as the imminently-erstwhile VP likes to say), I'm confident this copy is already drafted in finer newsrooms everywhere). "Obama Buries Hatchet With Clinton(s), Proves Himself the Uniter We Always Dreamed" and "Obama Once Again Proves New Kind of Politician, Doesn't Play By Old Rules" and "As Two Privileged White Males*, Can Romney-[TBA] Ever Overcome The Naked Racism of Opposing a Minority AND a Woman?"
* Rubio- and Martinez-boosters need not email angrily. George Zimmerman helped the world realize that Hispanics are, when politically expedient, white. And Republican women are traitors in the Gender War who may as well be male.
With all this in mind, I strain to imagine a world in which Team Obama hasn't already and at length war-gamed the Joe-Hillary switcheroo. The holiest of all Hail Marys, this ultimate "evolution" wouldn't be without significant risks (perceived disloyalty and weakness, not to mention the threat of being overshadowed by such a politically weighty runningmate and her illustrious spouse), but as November grows larger on the horizon and hopes for a sudden economic resurgence fade further, "risky" starts to sound a whole lot better than "hopeless." And if Obama feels a little smaller sharing the stage with the Clintons, rather than Jenius Joe, the fundraising bonanza Bill and Hillary would trigger ought to help cushion any collateral bruising to the Presidential ego.
As we creep up on convention season, one presumes the formal announcement is now withheld only to await the release of another several weeks' worth of crummy economic data (such that all advisers may concur on precisely how royally screwed the re-election effort has become) and to allow the optimal ripening of the election year calendar. This is a bullet that can only be fired once, of course, and it wouldn't do for the public to tire of the sensation by election day.
Until today, I would've said that means at least another two months until Obama tells us how heartbroken he was to accept Biden's unexpected withdrawal.
Joe Biden may not be much help to Barack Obama in key swing states this fall.
In a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, Americans split on whether they like or dislike the vice president – 42% said they had a favorable opinion, 45% said unfavorable – but the numbers are worse in key swing states.
In the 12 swing states likely to determine the outcome of the presidential election, only 40% of registered voters view Biden favorably, while 54% view him unfavorably.
That leaves Biden fully 10 points behind his boss in swing-state popularity, enough of a drag that the Vice President may have just graduated from dead weight to gangrenous.
I'd still guess we won't be treated to this "Most Courageous Act In Modern Political History" until mid summer, but if Joe continues to flame out this magnificently, we may have this Shiniest Conceivable Object to play with a little sooner.
Belated: FoxNews.com Live 9-10
I was on FoxNews.com Live this morning from 9-10, discussing Washington lobbyists, Chicago riots, European crises, and Presidential politics. If you missed it live, you can catch a replay at the link until Tuesday morning (dial the wheel back to 9:00:00).
Will update with any clips that make the highlight reel.
Don't Text and Drive!
You'll die before you even make it a billion miles.
I am not a fan of texting while driving, but I’m even less of a fan of ill-considered federal interventions. My new Bloomberg View column concerns Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s war on “distracted driving,” and the dubious evidence behind it.
Advocating the [National Transportation Safety Board]’s preferred ban, its chairman Deborah Hersman noted that 3,092 people had died in distracted-driving incidents in 2010. The Transportation Department estimates that Americans drove 3 trillion miles that year. That works out to 970 million miles driven for each distracted-driving fatality.
FoxNews.com Live 9-10
I'll be on FoxNews.com Live this morning from 9-10, discussing Obama versus Romney on job creation, plus Obama's post-gay-marriage-re-endorsement fundraising appeal. If you miss it live, you can catch a replay at the link until Tuesday morning (dial the wheel to 9:00:00).
Update: Here's a clip:
Rasmussen: Romney Cracks 50%, Expands Lead Over Obama to 7
No, Rasmussen's not as Obama-tilting as most of the other pollsters, but this reversal is pretty dramatic. A 10-point turnaround in just over a week.
This is the first time Romney has reached the 50% level of support and is his largest lead ever over the president. It comes a week after a disappointing jobs report that raised new questions about the state of the economy.
Thanks once again to the magic of one-way revisions, the Labor Department was able to report a drop in weekly jobless claims this morning, from 368,000 all the way down to... 367,000. The previous week was (unsurprisingly) revised upward from 365,000. Upon next week's revision to today's number, it will assuredly show an increase, not a decrease.
The 4-week moving average declined by 5,250 to 379,000, thanks to the whopping 390,000 from early April dropping out of the mix.
Economists had expected the weekly number to stand pat at the (unrevised) 365,000, but stock futures moved moderately higher following the report, which was also accompanied by international trade data.
Sell In May
Anemic job growth, Greece in directionless turmoil, yadda yadda. We've been playing this tape for a while now, haven't we? The question isn't why stocks seem to pining for their fall 2011 doldrums; it's why they ever rallied 20% from those levels in the first place, when these headwinds, uncertainties, fiscal cliffs, and political indifference toward all of the above never left us.
The Life Of Julie
See also: The Life of Julia
At 8:15 this morning, ADP will release its de facto preview of Friday's jobs report. The market expects to see 170-175k private sector payrolls added in April, down from ADP's March estimate of 209k. The usual caveat applies, namely that ADP's predictive powers are mixed at best. But with investors closely watching the swift erosion in payroll growth over the last couple months, a big surprise - while not atypical or necessarily meaningful - is likely to set the tone for early trading.
Estimates suggest Friday's report will show payroll growth rebounding from March's morbid 120k to 160k, so a downside miss could ratchet back even that relatively modest optimism.
I'll place my chip on 95,000.
Stay tuned. Moments away.
Update: Well, it's a big miss, but not quite as big as I predicted. 119,000 (more than 50k below expectations), versus a downwardly revised 201,000.