Scranton, Jewel on the Lackawanna

It's National Security Night in Denver, and the Democrats are rolling out their big guns. Former President Bill Clinton speaks about 9 p.m. EST. An hour later U. S. Sen. Joe Biden delivers his speech as the nominee for vice president.

And flanking them will be talks from a few men mentioned as vice presidential candidates, Bill Richardson and Chet Edwards, one vet who ran for president - John Kerry - and a woman who served as secretary of state during the Balkans wars - Madeleine Albright.


Expect Biden to sound presidential, without sounding too presidential.

Blogging for The Atlantic, Marc Ambinder details the Delaware Democratic senator's tasks:

Tonight, Sen. Joe Biden's goal is to vouch for Obama as a commander in chief. That's going to be tough, given Biden's past insistence that Obama wasn't ready.  Biden has two other jobs tonight. One - Democrats are salivating for a tough anti-McCain speech, and Biden will  give it to them. But he has a very compelling life story, and one that is attractive to working class whites. He needs to find a way to merge those themes.

Somehow he failed to mention that Biden is from Scranton. That might be a first. Someone's got  to invent a drinking game where you have to down a Stegmaier any time that hard-scrapple Pennsylvania city is mentioned on the floor. Or when someone uses the phrase hard-scrapple. Hillary, Bob Casey and Biden all are rooted there, which we've heard 1,000 times.

Speaking on the Journal editorial Report this weekend, Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot seemed to heard enough of of the city, which is code for the working-class white voters - read: Reagan Democrats - everyone wants to reach.

"If they mention Scranton, Pa. , one more time..." he began, but failed to finish his threat.

Let's leave it to native son Mark Jurkowitz to put this matter to rest. Writing in Real Clear Politics, he explains the political charms of the city that might as well call itself New Peoria:

With its population of socially conservative voters who tended to be Democrats by birth, Scranton has been a kind of political bellwether in national elections. But for all the city's attempts to to "get back up," as Clinton would say, no one could have envisioned its emergence as a full-blown icon in this campaign.

In an election in which economic hardship and working class anxiety are crucial issues, Scranton has somehow become a symbol of both the ills and resilience of our society as a whole. And for the candidates, a Scranton background is a badge of honor, a way of saying "I am one of you."

The way things are going, Bruce Springsteen will probably write a song about Scranton. (Billy Joel did "Allentown," but he was off by about 50 miles.) All that will be needed to complete Scranton's improbable rise as the touchstone of this year's election will be for a candidate to utter the cliche, "Today, we are all Scrantonians."

But back to national security ...

The Republicans are hitting Obama hard on the subject, John McCain contending in a new TV ad that the Democrat is "dangerous unprepared" for the White House, which he is said to have showed by describing Iran as a "tiny"nation that posed no serious threat.

According to the AP
, the ad goes:

"Iran. Radical Islamic government. Known sponsors of terrorism. Developing nuclear capabilities to 'generate power' but threatening to eliminate Israel," says the ad, which was being run in key states. "Terrorism, destroying Israel -- those aren't 'serious threats'"?

The AP account also says the ad twists Obama's words.

Missing from the ad was the context of Obama's remarks last May in which he compared Iran and other adversarial governments to the superpower Soviet Union. "They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us," he said in arguing for talks with Iran. "You know, Iran, they spend one-100th of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn't stand a chance."

Earlier: Read Charles Barkley, Not Your Average Taxpayer.