A pledge

And hold me to this!

If I encounter Alan Keyes on the campaign trail, I will mock him mercilessly. I will laugh in his face. I will point out that we have the same chance of becoming president, but unlike him, I am employable.

I mean, the guy clearly had a psychotic break sometime between 2004 and 2007. Nobody’s doing him any favors by asking him real questions and putting him on TV.

It is 5:14

And I predict that the Des Moines Register will endorse… Joe Biden.

I have at least a 25 percent chance of correctness, I think. They occasionally endorse Obama-style insurgents (like Bill Bradley) but Obama’s pissed them off with his courting of non-Iowan, caucus-eligible college kids. They rarely endorse frontrunners, so Clinton is out. They like John Edwards even in his current, worse-than-ever incarnation, albeit less than they used to. They’re not above endorsing no candidate. So no-bullshit, hard-working Biden, who regularly blows away editorial boards and small halls, is as good a bet as anyone, and endorsing him has the biggest potential effect on the caucus – they could rocket him past Edwards if he’s stagnant or even Clinton if she keeps thrashing and spitting.

UPDATE: Sometimes I’m wrong. Also, what’s the other side of this story?

Clinton and her husband met with the board over cocktails to make the case. A series of surrogates — including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, EMILY’s List chief Ellen Malcolm and Robert Kennedy Jr. — barraged the board with calls in support of Clinton. High-level Clinton staffers — including campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, pollster Mark Penn, policy director Neera Tanden and senior adviser Ann Lewis — met individually with members of the board to make the case.

Is that ordinary? Do campaigns usually blitz the board like that? It sounds like some people are trying to dampen the impact of the endorsement by spreading word of how Clinton bought it. I’ve thought all along that Democrats in the state were looking for reasons not to support her, and I dunno the extent to which this changes that.

Random thought

Saturday Night Live isn’t on right now, thanks to the writers’ strike. Is that having an effect on the presidential race? Not a huge one, probably – the media has evolved plenty since Al Gore looked to the show for advice in 2000, and they never bothered doing anything with Barack Obama since the only black cast member (Kenan Thompson) is about twice Obama’s size. I still wonder what they would be making of sleepy Fred Thompson, Giuliani’s sex scandal, Mike Huckabee’s general nuttiness, John McCain’s desparation, or Ron Paul. If they wanted to do a debate sketch:

Fred Thompson – Darrell Hammond
John McCain – Bill Hader
Rudy Giuliani – Jason Sudeikis
Mitt Romney – Seth Meyers
Mike Huckabee – Will Forte
Ron Paul – Fred Armisen

As for the jokes… no clue.

Steve James is wrong!

I’m finally watching The Wire season 4 on DVD (I didn’t get addicted to the show til this year) and, realizing Television Without Pity didn’t recap that season, started reading Slate’s old Steve James-Alex Kotlowitz diaries. To my surprise, I think James is missing (well, missed) all kinds of plot points.

In the body of the episode we learn that Mayor Royce is ready to play hardball with the surging candidate Carcetti. In the most moving moment, Carcetti visits the funeral home to witness firsthand the cost of the mean streets, and then refuses the photo op, out of respect.

But it looked like Carcetti cagily dodged the photo op because he knew that Delegate Watkins (who has a terrible poker face) was warming to him, and had an inkling that Watkins was watching him go outside. By dodging the cameras he powerfully convinced Watkins that he was an honest pol, not a glory hound… and we viewers knew this was a Machiavellian ruse.

My standards for political drama are actually pretty low… I saw all the flaws in Tanner ’88, in the Gary Sinese HBO biopics (of Harry Truman and George Wallace), and I’m used to fairly cliched, hero-worshipping political stories. So I find myself really adoring the portrayal of city hall in The Wire. Mayor Royce is actually a more sympathetic, less cartoonish figure than a raft of real-world politicians like Sharpe James. Carcetti is a Kennedy figure who exhibits all the rotten shit it took us decades to learn about Jack and Bobby Kennedy–self-obsession, elitism, power lust. The scene where he angrily rants about “this fucking city” and “these fucking whining people” and then bounds out of his SUV to suck up to a black church group, was simply beautiful.

The mediocre Mrs. Mitchell

I’ve got like 79/80 of my hard drive full, and 45 gigs of music, so I’m trying to purge 8-9 gigs of the stuff. Having trouble, though, with Joni Mitchell, especially the For the Roses lp. So much of her music is samey and pleasant and it’s tough to discern a huge quality leap between songs. And it’s all lyrically great, of course, which makes it tougher.