With today's RBC deal on Fl and MI, the new "magic number" to become the Democratic nominee is 2,117 (there was a resignation by a guy called Al Wynn, so the 2,118 has been cut by one.) Barack now needs just 65 delegates to clinch the nomination. As Craig Crawford says, there's a new boss in town. All that's left are the deal and the exit.
That said, I don't think Hillary's camp will shrink from their stated goal of piling up primary votes so as to put forward a (phony) claim on the popular vote. (Phony, because you have to discount the caucus states and assume that nobody in Michigan -- not one soul -- intended to support Barack Obama, in order to make it so.) Hillary wants to go out like Al Gore, laying claim to the "moral victory" of getting more votes, and allowing her supporters, inexplicably, to carry away the bitterness of having the nomination "stolen" from them by the powers that be. That, combined with Harold Ickes' and Howard Wolfson's continued nastiness, stoking the rage of Clintons' white women supporters, is just baffling when you consider that these people are Democrats.
The Michigan, Florida compromise at the DNC rules committee is the big news today, but the other headline creeping onto the front pages is Barack Obama and his family's resignation from Trinity Church in Chicago:
Barack Obama has resigned his 20 year membership in the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago in the aftermath of inflammatory remarks by his longtime pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and more recent fiery remarks at the church by another minister.
Obama campaign communications director Robert Gibbs said Obama had resigned from the church "over the last few days."
Campaign aides said they werehttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifn't immediately certain how the resignation took place, whether by letter or in some other fashion, and were trying to find out.
Roland Martin on CNN just read from a letter sent from Trinity's leadership expressing their sorrow for the loss of the Obamas, and asking their parishioners to keep the family in prayer. The resignation follows the latest dust-up, over a sermon mocking Hillary Clinton by a visiting priest, Father Pfleger. My initial reaction was that it was a shame that Obama had to cave to craven, idiotic media types who feel it's their place to vet a politician's pastor, but that it was probably necessary from a pragmatic point of view. The real shame here is that American politics has become so trite, so obsessed with sidebars, that a man standing for political office has to answer for every utterance by his pastor. Next, we'll be vetting the pre-school teachers, choir directors and high school basketball coaches for any views that don't conform to a manufactured, homogenized version of phony patriotism. The media's complicity in creating this ridiculous litmus test (flag pins, platitudes and other tripe) that substitutes for a true and interactive love of country, has been nothing short of shameful.
Enough with this crap. Now that Obama has appeased "middle America" (will he be forced to join a nice, majority white, Presbytarian church next, in order to further bow to this brand of idiotic, "God bless America, civics-free nonsense?) can we please move on to real issues?
UPDATE 8:07 p.m.: Obama is holding a news conference about the Trinity resignation, and the DNC decision, right now. He made the very valid two-fold point, that had he remained at Trinity, he would continue to have to answer for every utterance from the pulpit, even by guest pastors, and the church was being unfairly inundated and scrutinized by the press, which was subjecting every sermon to its own vetting, harassing members, calling shut-in and ill people associated with the church, and generally harassing its membership. So for his own sake, but also the church's, he felt it best to resign. That's a sound explanation, and I think he's absolutely right, as well as prudent, to do what he's doing. It won't appease the right, which will continue to hang his 20 years of membership at Trinity around his neck, but it should calm the rational portions of the mainstream press.
UPDATE 2 10:22 p.m.: Politico has the transcript of Obama's presser.... almost like the kind of thing you'd find on whitehouse.gov...
Following a unanimous vote to accept the full delegation/half vote compromise for Florida, Harold Ickes threw down the gauntlet on the Michigan compromise, which would accept the Michigan delegation at full seating with half votes apiece, and accepting the Michigan Democratic Party's preferred allocation of 69 delegates for Mrs. Clinton and 59 for Obama, each casting a half vote, rather than Clinton's preferred split of 73 for her and 55 for "uncomitted." Ickes "rose in opposition" while seated, and then scalded the committee, saying the compromise violates the fundamental principle of "fair reflection," meaning the proportion should reflect the will of the voters. (Ickes had sparred with Robert Wexler about the issue earlier today, just before he walked off the dais.) Said Ickes:
"I am stunned that we have the gall and the chutzpah to substitute our judgment for 600,000 voters, was the process flawed? you bet your ass it was flawed."
He then opined that in his view, "hijacking" four delegates from Hillary Clinton was no way to achieve party unity (the latter word used with derision by him throughout.)
After Ickes' rant, in which he characterized the delegates as the personal possession of Mrs. Clinton and closed by informing the room -- and the country -- that Mrs. Clinton had instructed him to "reserve her right to take the issue to the credentials committee," (that's tomorrow's headline, by the way) he was chastised harshly, by an African-American member of the committee, Everett Ward of North Carolina, who called the previous remarks "political propaganda." (full list of delegates by affiliation here.) That was almost as good as Donna Brazille telling Hillary's surrogate from Michigan that when she was growing up, her mama taught her that when you don't abide by the rules, it's called cheating..."
In the end, the motion passed 19-8, meaning Hillary failed to carry all 13 of her supporters on the committee. Hillary held onto Hartina Fluornoy and Elizabeth Smith, both of D.C., Ickes, of course, and lost Don Fowler.
Watching the DNC Rules Committee's blockbuster meeting, pretty much all morning and afternoon, a few pieces of news have come out of it. (CNN has a breakdown of who's who on the panel here.)
News item #1:
Harold Ickes and the other Hillary supporters on the committee -- about 13 of them -- intend to be very vigorous in pushing the committee to do what's best for HER. That's stunning, considhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifering the responsibility of that committee, ostensibly, to do what's best for the party, and for its voters. It's been rather startling to watch Ickes and other members of the panel, particularly Hartina Fluornoy, a Hillary superdelegate from D.C., advocate essentially as members of her campaign. Ickes, after a particularly contentious exchange with Obama Florida campaign chairman Robert Wexler, even appeared to walk out of the room, although MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell says he actually walked across the room, not all the way out.
News item #2:
Wexler made the most news today, announcing that the Obama campaign would be willing to support the position taken by Florida DNC member Jon Ausman, whose challenge created the core Democratic position of seating all of the state's superdelegates, whose selection depends on their election to Congress or appointment by the local DECs, not upon the date of the primary, and seating half of the pledged delegates. Wexler said the Obama campaign would be willing to allow Hillary to half the maximum number of delegates available to her: 19, as part of a deal, in the interests of party unity.
News item #3:
Michigan Senator Carl Levin made perhaps the most arresting presentation today, walking the panel through the process that he was a part of, going back to the 2004 party convention, to try and change the almost regal status of New Hampshire and Iowa, with their presumed "god-given right" to hold their votes first. Levin was part of a reform panel that included the Rules Committee members, which agreed that at least one caucus would be moved up in the calendar, such that that state -- Nevada -- would caucus after Iowa but before New Hampshire.
New Hampshire, whose secretary of state has the authority to move the state's primary at will, violated that agreement and moved its primary ahead of Nevada's anyway. New Hampshire appealed to the Rules Committee for a waiver, so that it could preserve its status in defiance of an agreed-upon rules change. So Michigan, which has fought, with Levin's leadership, for a more diverse opening to the campaign, decided to apply for a waiver, too, to send a message that if New Hampshire wouldn't comply, somebody had to face down the bully. the committee gave New Hampshire its waiver but denied one to Michigan. In the end, whereas Florida's primary was held at the mercy of the Republican legislature and governor, Michigan's was an act of principled defiance. Given that, Levin said, no further punishment should ensue. To my mind, that was the most compelling argument made today. It certainly moved committee member Donna Brazille.
News item #1:
Howard Wolfson was just on NBC continuing to take pot shots at Barack Obama, and essentially asserting, as did Hillary's advocates before the panel, that they would settle for nothing short of a full seating of both delegations to her advantage, and would concede nothing to the Obama camp in return. They want Obama to get zero delegates out of Michigan, even while they concede that most, if not all, of the 40 percent "uncommitted" vote would favor Obama. And they want the maximum vote in Florida, too (although Bill Clinton may have conceded privately that his wife would wind up with half). So, to quote Pat Buchanan, Hillary wants "the whole hog." Their position is so recalcitrant, and so basically ugly, it makes me wonder if they have any interest whatsoever, in unifying the party, except under Hillary Clinton as nominee (something that would be all-but impossible, since I don't see how she would attract Obama's core supporters, young voters and Black voters, even if she could snatch the nomination away.) Meanwhile, the Obama team seems more reasonable, more willing to compromise and make concessions, and more eager to unify the party. As one reporter put it, the Obama camp is acting "the way a winner acts." That will matter, I think, to uncommitted superdelegates who are observing today's proceedings.
...In many ways, Mr. Obama is wheezing across the finish line after making a strong start: He has won only 6 of the 13 Democratic contests held since March 4, drawing 6.1 million votes, compared with 6.6 million for Mrs. Clinton.
Still, Mrs. Clinton’s associates said she seemed to have come to terms over the last week with the near-certainty that she will not win the nomination, even as she continues to assert, with what one associate described as subdued resignation, that the Democrats are making a mistake in sending Mr. Obama up against Senator John McCain.
One of the last procedural fights took place Saturday in Washington where, with demonstrators supporting Mrs. Clinton marching outside, the Democratic Party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee struggled with the question of whether to seat at the convention members of the disputed delegations from Florida and Michigan. Those states have been sanctioned by the party for holding their contests in January in defiance of the primary calendar laid out by the Democratic National Committee.
Mrs. Clinton has kept her counsel about what she might do to draw her campaign to a close and when she might do it. Her associates said the most likely outcome is that she will end her bid with a speech, probably back home in New York, in which she would endorse Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton herself suggested on Friday that the contest will end sometime next week.
Still, she has signaled her ambivalence about the outcome, continuing to urge superdelegates to keep an open mind and consider, for example, the number of popular votes she has won. Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a superdelegate who has been at the forefront of calling for uncommitted Democrats to make a choice soon after the last vote, said in an interview that Mrs. Clinton called him last week and urged him to “keep an open mind until the convention.”
Assuming Mr. Obama reaches the total number of delegates and superdelegates he needs to secure the nomination in the coming week, Mrs. Clinton will be faced with three options, associates said: to suspend her campaign and endorse Mr. Obama; to suspend her campaign without making an endorsement; or to press the fight through the convention. Several of Mrs. Clinton’s associates said it was unlikely she would fight through the convention, given the potential damage it would do to her standing within the party, which is increasingly eager to unify and turn to the battle against Mr. McCain.
Mrs. Clinton would almost surely face the defection of some of her highest-profile supporters, as well as some members of her staff. She would no doubt also face anger from Democratic leaders as she contemplates a return to the Senate and, potentially, another run for the White House. ...
And as for superdelegates:
... “A number of people have reported that various members intend to endorse AFTER the last primary,” said one e-mail message to wavering delegates from Mr. Obama’s supporters, its warning barely couched. “Those members need to understand that they won’t get any visibility from that.”
Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who endorsed Mr. Obama nearly two months ago and campaigned with him last week, recently called Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. of Colorado, who has yet to endorse. “Hey Ritter!” Mr. Richardson said. “After June 3, it means nothing. Those who take a little bit of a risk, he’ll remember you.”
On the other end of the line, Mr. Ritter demurred, saying he had pledged to remain neutral until the primary seasons ends.
Since the 2000 election, John McCain has been the golden boy of the Washington press corps. They travel with hin. They laugh at his jokes. They insert the word "maverick" into every story about him. They eat him up with a spoon.
Well... this ain't the year 2000 John McCain.
The current version is forgetful, stammering, and really, scary angry ... a LOT. And there's evidence that the major media reporters who used to dote on him, are changing their tone, perhaps fearing a future Saturday Night Live parody about offering the old boy a pillow...? Case in point, the conference call on which McCain surrogates tried to cover for McCain's latest gaffe on Iraq, as reported by the HuffPo's Sam Stein:
...Reminded that troops in Iraq currently number 155,000, well above the pre-surge level of 130,000, McCain refused to acknowledge on Friday that he had misspoke.
"I said we had drawn down," the Senator declared during a press conference (watch video). "I said we have drawn down and we have drawn down three of the five brigades. We have drawn down three of the five brigades. We have drawn down the marines. The rest will be home the end of July. That's just facts, the facts as I stated them."
But that isn't what he stated. On Thursday, in fact, he made a very specific measurement as to the extent of troop reductions.
"I can tell you that it [the mission in Iraq] is succeeding," said McCain. "I can look you in the eye and tell you it's succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels."
And that was just the beginning. McCain's gaffe had already been exacerbated during a conference call earlier in the day, when aides to the Arizona Republican insisted that he had not misspoke, even while McCain surrogate Sen. Jon Kyl acknowledged on the same call that he had: "What he said was not entirely accurate. OK. So what?"
The campaign aides also ridiculed reporters for even caring about the topic. "It is the essence of semantics," foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann said. "We are having this call about a verb tense and if you choose to write a story about Sen. McCain's use of a verb tense you need to hold Senator Obama to that exact same standard."
All of which, of course, simply piqued the interest of reporters. Michael Dobbs of the Washington Post pointed out that, contrary to the McCain campaign's tone, word choice does, in fact, matter. "If Bush had said 'the mission will be accomplished' as opposed to 'mission accomplished' -- those are two completely different things with completely different meanings."
An increasingly irritated Scheunemann responded: "If you're going to start fact-checking verb tenses, we're going to make sure we start monitoring verb tenses a lot more closely than we have in this campaign."
Later in the call, a reporter questioned whether McCain's verbal error was a sign that the Senator's age was affecting his memory and understanding.
"In every campaign, when you want to change the subject you try to pick a little thing that you can pick on and try to change the subject," replied Senator Jon Kyl, a McCain supporter. "I don't think this has anything to do with age."...
Now, if only MSNBC would replay HIS pastor videos over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again... or at least ask his boy Joe Lieberman why he's still hanging out with John "Hitler was an agent of God" Hagee...
John McCain stepped in it again. Call it a senior moment if you want, but Mac apparently doesn't know what our troop levels are in Iraq, even though he has made a point of shoving it in our faces how many times he has traveled there. Here's a peek at the latest face-off:
The likely GOP presidential nominee told an audience Thursday: "We have drawn down to presurge levels. Basra, Mosul and now Sadar City are quiet."
In fact, U.S. troop levels are not yet down to levels before President Bush's troop increase last year, a move that McCain endorsed.
There were 15 combat brigades in Iraq before the increase began. Five were added, and the United States has been reducing numbers since December. As of Friday, there are 17 brigades in Iraq, another brigade will depart in June and the plan is to pull out another in July, returning the level to 15.
Prior to the increase, there were 130,000-135,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
In a conference call with reporters, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, an Obama supporter, argued that McCain was misrepresenting the facts when he said that the U.S. military has drawn back to levels before last year's force increase in Iraq. "That just is just not true. And everybody knows it's not true. And I assume Senator McCain just doesn't know the facts here," Doyle said in a conference call with reporters.
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, another Obama backer, echoed Doyle's criticism.
That prompted an angry response from the McCain campaign.
"Clearly John Kerry and Barack Obama have very little understanding of troop levels, but considering Barack Obama hasn't been to Iraq in 873 days and has never had a one-on-one meeting with General Petraeus, it isn't a surprise to anyone that he demonstrates weak leadership," the McCain campaign said.
In a dueling conference call, Sen. Jon Kyl, a McCain backer, accused the Obama campaign of deflecting from the real issue that Obama still calls for withdrawal even though the troop-influx strategy has worked to curb violence and he hasn't been to Iraq in two years. "It is absolutely the case that the decisions have been made to draw down to presurge levels," Kyl said.
The Arizona senator said, "It is correct that the levels of troops there are not the same as they were during the surge, and, in fact, all of them will be home by the beginning of July."
In response, the Obama campaign said the GOP campaign "still can't explain why John McCain could be so clearly and factually wrong in stating that our troops are at pre-surge levels. They are not, and anyone who wants to be commander in chief should know better before launching divisive political attacks. Once again, Senator McCain has shown that he is far more interested in stubbornly making the case for continuing a failed policy in Iraq than in getting the facts right."
It was bad enough watching Mike Brzezinksi twist herself in knots trying to turn the Father Pfleger slip into a real-life news story, as Chris Matthews dead-panned that he didn't get why it's important, and try mightily to move on to a discussion of Scott McClellan (he ultimately gave in with a perturbed "it's your show...") But by 5 p.m., Matthews had given up the ghost (or given in to his bosses at MSNBC) and was dutifully inflating the clip (which is actually funny as hell, by the way,) into highly important campaign news. David Shuster and David Gregory have joined in on the act, gleefully forcing the issue onto the airwaves for the better part of the afternoon and early evening (it will stop momentarily when Keith comes on at 8, but will likely return full force at 9 when Abrams comes on.) I didn't even bother to check Fox News Channel, since I'm sure they've been running the clip for 24 hours straight.
The most exasperating aspect of the story is that Pfleger is not only not Barack Obama's pastor, he's not even a part of his religion, let alone Trinity Church. Earth to Pat Buchanan and Tucker Carlson: Pfleger is part of YOUR church. He's a freaking Catholic! Hence, the "Father" part. (sigh)
Worse, what Pfleger said is so uncontroversial, you'd have to be made of papier mache to be offended by it. Here's the clip. While you're watching it, think of the last two Hillary skits on "SNL." Believe me, worse things have been said about Hillary by comedians. Watch, laugh, and then let's please move the hell on:
Geraldine Ferraro, America's bitterest woman, has shredded what was left of her reputation. Her vituperative brand of support for her candidate, Hillary Clinton, has made them both look bad. If I'm Hillary, I'm emailing Gerri with the following subject line: STFU.
Here we are at the end of the primary season, and the effects of racism and sexism on the campaign have resulted in a split within the Democratic Party that will not be easy to heal before election day. Perhaps it's because neither the Barack Obama campaign nor the media seem to understand what is at the heart of the anger on the part of women who feel that Hillary Clinton was treated unfairly because she is a woman or what is fueling the concern of Reagan Democrats for whom sexism isn't an issue, but reverse racism is. ...
... As for Reagan Democrats, how Clinton was treated is not their issue. They are more concerned with how they have been treated. Since March, when I was accused of being racist for a statement I made about the influence of blacks on Obama's historic campaign, people have been stopping me to express a common sentiment: If you're white you can't open your mouth without being accused of being racist. They see Obama's playing the race card throughout the campaign and no one calling him for it as frightening. They're not upset with Obama because he's black; they're upset because they don't expect to be treated fairly because they're white. It's not racism that is driving them, it's racial resentment. And that is enforced because they don't believe he understands them and their problems. That when he said in South Carolina after his victory "Our Time Has Come" they believe he is telling them that their time has passed.
By the way, Ferraro, who goes on to defend the downtrodden white voters who "don't identify with someone who has gone to Columbia and Harvard Law School and is married to a Princeton-Harvard Law graduate. His experience with an educated single mother and being raised by middle class grandparents is not something they can empathize with. They may lack a formal higher education, but they're not stupid. What they're waiting for is assurance that an Obama administration won't leave them behind," wants a study ... at Harvard ... how anti-elitist of you, Gerri.
To punctuate her point, Gerri went on her favorite news outlet, totally un-sexist Fox News Channel (where your bra size and hair have to be bigger than your I.Q. in order to get on the air as a woman, and where ... and this is the big one ... Loofah-waving pervert Bill O'Reilly STILL WORKS ...) to whinge about anti-white racism:
"All the surrogates that they had out there, from the black journalists — you know, have you read Bob Herbert recently in the past six months? There wasn't one column that had anything decent to say about Hillary."
Well ... inevitably, the black journalists, fired back with the following statement, followed by a comment:
"NABJ is outraged that a former vice presidential candidate would suggest that all black reporters are mouthpieces for the Obama campaign," NABJ President Barbara Ciara, an anchor for WTKR-TV in Norfolk, Va., said in a statement. "To suggest this shows not only a stunning lack of judgment but also her unapologetic bigotry. Ms. Ferraro used her appearance on Fox News to reinforce stereotypes that suggest that black reporters can't be trusted to cover another person of color without bias and favoritism."
NABJ's vice president for print, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Ernie Suggs, called the remarks a "direct attack" not only on the integrity of black journalists, but "the integrity of all journalists who work every day to provide good, honest journalism."
Does that mean, by extension, that white female journalists are surrogates for Hillary?
I plan to read Scott McClellan's book, "What Happened" (it's at the top of my summer reading list, along with Vincent Bugliosi's "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder.") And I think that he may be the unlikliest, but also among the most important, truth-tellers to emerge from the nightmare era known as the Bush administration. McClellan is important, not because he was a policy insider, but because he was a personal one. He and the president went back all the way to Texas, and he was the first of the Texas inner circle to break publicly with George W. Bush. Yes, he left disgruntled, but it's why he was disgruntled that is important: he was angry because Karl Rove (another of the Texans) and Scooter Libby, principally, but also Dick Cheney and Bush himself, repeatedly lied to him about important matters. They lied about the outing of Velerie Plame, and then sent him out to lie. They lied to him about the war he was selling. And he had a front row seat to the lies that they were telling us, about Iraq.
So while his former colleagues may not like it, none of their synchronized, personal attacks has touched the fundamental premises of his book. None have even tried to refute his facts. And so his story stands basically unrefuted, even if he is now an enemy.
And yes, it's unprecedented for a press secretary to spill his guts while the boss is still in place (I was a press secretary, so I have some sympathy for McClellan's position,) precedent was thrown out the window long ago by the Bush team. They threw out 200 years of precedent on America's non-aggression foreign policy, 200 years of precedent of America as the "good guy," not torturing our captives, for instance. And in setting up a truly Soviet domestic spying regime, they took the J. Edgar Hoover playbook and super-sized it.
So keep your head up, Scott. You've turned out to be a more articulate, more honest, and more substantial a figure than I certainly ever gave you credit for. And don't worry about the "snitching" rap. We have a lot of that same pathology in the black community when it comes to reporting crimes and turning in criminals. At the end of the day, "snitching" is ghetto-ese for "doing the right thing." I think it's a safe bet that history will judge you a hell of a lot more kindly than it will your former boss.
David Gregory has been spinning himself silly trying to deflate the accusation that the press was too soft on President Bush, and were played by the administration in the run-up to the Iraq. War. His indefensible defensiveness was exploded by none other than Christopher Matthews on "Hardball" yesterday:
Aussie journalist Russell Coker, whose site you can find here, alerted me to this very interesting article in the Washington Post, putting forward what could be the solution to the nettling question of "what to do withher..."
...It's likely that the next president will face at least one Supreme Court vacancy. Obama should promise Hillary Clinton, now, that if he wins in November, the vacancy will be hers, making her first on a list of one.
Obama and Clinton have wound up agreeing on nearly every major issue during the campaign; at the end of the day, they share many orthodoxies. Unless the Supreme Court were to get mired in minuscule details of what constitutes universal health care, Obama could assume that he'd be pleased with most Clinton votes, certainly on major issues such as abortion.
Obama could also appreciate Clinton's undeniably keen mind. Even Clinton detractors have noted her remarkable mental skills; she would be equal to any legal or intellectual challenge she would face as a justice. The fact that she hasn't served on a bench before would be inconsequential, considering her experience in law and in government.
If Obama were to promise Clinton the first court vacancy, her supporters would actually have a stronger incentive to support him for president than they would if she were going to be vice president. Given the Supreme Court's delicate liberal-conservative balance, she would play a major role in charting the country's future; there is no guarantee that a Clinton vice presidency would achieve such importance.
For nearly a year and a half, Clinton has been fighting a bruising battle. Many appointees and officials from her husband's administration have turned their backs on her; she has lost the support of friends she had every reason to believe would stand by her. She has campaigned tirelessly only to discover that, according to polls, more than half the populace mistrusts her. Yes, she can still hope for 2012 or 2016, but why trust that she will be viewed differently next time around? (A recent CNN "quick poll" found that nearly 70 percent of respondents believed someone other than Clinton would be the first female president.)
Instead of subjecting herself to a long wait and another possible defeat, she could don one of those roomy black robes, make a potentially ineradicable impact on the course of the republic -- and never again have to worry about being liked. ...
Now, I have heard theories about what it would cost to get Hillary Clinton out of the race, and the subject of putting her husband on the Court has come up. This is the first time I've been provoked to think about the Court, rather than the New York governership (too provincial), the Senate Majority Chair (too audacious -- she's down in the 40s in terms of seniority, moving her up would step on a lot of toes...) or the vice presidency (never ... going ... to ... happen. Get over it, Clintonettes.) And you know what? I LIKE IT!
Of course, Obama probably couldn't openly declare his support for handing Clinton 11.1% of the nation's highest court, both because it would energize the right -- particularly the religious right -- on one of their most fundamental issues: activist judges (read "abortion,") but also because it doesn't quite seem appropriate to declare your court nominee before (her) time. But the idea that Clinton could ascend to the SUPCO (hey, since her husband has relinquished the "first black president" title, we could call her the "real holder of the Thurgood Marshall seat...") while not as ground-breaking as becoming the first female president, would give her lasting power and influence, things it's clear she desperately craves. A seat on the Court would put Hillary in a position to extend her influence beyond the limited shelf life of the presidency, while freeing her from that bothersome ambition, which has brought her, and her husband, so low in the esteem of former supporters (myself included.)
So I'd at least back-channel it if I were Obama's team, to top Emily's Listers, to League of Women Voters heads, and through his new pals at NARAL (national -- the local NARAL's are probably still pissed off...) and see what happens. So long as they can find a way to filter the hope of an appointment down through the ranks without blasting it on their MySpace, it just might make a difference.
Scott McClellan wasn't as much of a douchebag as Ari Fleischer, or as slick as Tony Snow, but he was as stonewally a press secretary as they whip up in Texas. Do you remember the time?
"I've said that it's not true. And I have spoken with Karl Rove." McClellan on PlameGate, September 23, 2003.
"The President knows he [Rove] wasn't involved." McClellan on PlameGate, September 23, 2003.
"There are unsubstantiated accusations that are made. And that's exactly what happened in the case of these three individuals. They're good individuals, they're important members of our White House team, and that's why I spoke with them, so that I could come back to you and say that they were not involved. I had no doubt of that in the beginning, but I like to check my information to make sure it's accurate before I report back to you, and that's exactly what I did." McClellan on the roles of Libby, Rove and Abrams in revealing the identity of Valerie Plame, October 7, 2003
"As I've previously stated, while that investigation is ongoing, the White House is not going to comment on it." McClellan on new PlameGate revelations, July 11, 2005.
"That's accurate." Later changed in White House transcript to "That's not accurate" regarding a statement that Rove and Libby were involved in outing Valerie Plame, October 31, 2005.
"The last thing anyone should do is politicize this issue by rewriting history." McClellan on revelations regarding bogus uranium in Niger claims, July 17, 2003.
"[I]t is sad and irresponsible that The New York Times is rewriting history to fit an inaccurate storyline and conveniently ignoring key facts." McClellan on criticism of Bush's preparation for Hurricane Katrina, February 10, 2006.
"This is getting into trying to finger-point and play the blame game." McClellan on bungled Bush response to Katrina, September 6, 2005.
"This was a report based on a single anonymous source that could not substantiate the allegation that was made." McClellan describing Newsweek's Koran desecration story, not the role of Curveball in Iraq pre-war intelligence, May 16, 2005.
"Declassifying information and providing it to the public, when it is in the public interest, is one thing. But leaking classified information that could compromise our national security is something that is very serious. And there is a distinction." McClellan justifying President Bush's authorization to leak classified information from the October 2002 NIE to attach Joe Wilson and other White House critics, April 7, 2006.
"The Democrats have a credibility problem when they try to suggest that we were manipulating intelligence, or that this is about something other than what I just said. That's crass politics." McClellan on criticism of President Bush's leaking classified material, April 7, 2006.
Scott McClellan is no longer GWB's chubby little buddy. Now, the sweatiest press secretary ever will forever be known as the guy who wrote "the book."
ormer White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan writes in a surprisingly scathing memoir to be published next week that President Bush “veered terribly off course,” was not “open and forthright on Iraq,” and took a “permanent campaign approach” to governing at the expense of candor and competence.
Among the most explosive revelations in the 341-page book, titled “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” (Public Affairs, $27.95):
• McClellan charges that Bush relied on “propaganda” to sell the war.
• He says the White House press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war.
• He admits that some of his own assertions from the briefing room podium turned out to be “badly misguided.”
• The longtime Bush loyalist also suggests that two top aides held a secret West Wing meeting to get their story straight about the CIA leak case at a time when federal prosecutors were after them — and McClellan was continuing to defend them despite mounting evidence they had not given him all the facts.
• McClellan asserts that the aides — Karl Rove, the president’s senior adviser, and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff — “had at best misled” him about their role in the disclosure of former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.
It's safe to say the media is going ape-crap over the McClellan book bomb, as the White House says "we don't know this guy" and reporter David Gregory practically squeals on MSNBC, "the media did NOT let the country down! Waa." Because of course, if Scotty is right, and the media was weak and fed propaganda (by him and the White House) well then that would make Gregory a dupe ... (ahem)
Besides his war mongering tendencies, and close association with creepy Joe Lieberman, the thing that most scares me about John McCain is his apparent utter fealty to corporate interests, even as he swears that he's just the opposite kind of guy (impeccably moral, honest to a fault, and a damn site better than you!) And the biggest fear I have is that if, by some scorn of fate he is elected president, he will complete George W. Bush's task of bringing on a complete, late 19th century-style corporatocracy. Case in point: his economic guru is none other than scuzzy Texas congressman-turned-uber lobbyist Phil Gramm. As MSNBC reported tonight?
Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain’s national campaign general co-chair was being paid by a Swiss bank to lobby Congress about the U.S. mortgage crisis at the same time he was advising McCain about his economic policy, federal records show. [See sidebar.]
“Countdown with Keith Olbermann” reported Tuesday night that lobbying disclosure forms, filed by the giant Swiss bank UBS, list McCain’s campaign co-chair, former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, as a lobbyist dealing specifically with legislation regarding the mortgage crisis as recently as Dec. 31, 2007.
Gramm joined the bank in 2002 and had registered as a lobbyist by 2004. UBS filed paperwork deregistering Gramm on April 18 of this year. Gramm continues to serve as a UBS vice chairman.
... As early as October, 2006, RealClearPolitics.com reported that Gramm was advising McCain on economic issues. Politico.com quoted McCain advisors saying that Gramm had input on McCain’s March 26 policy speech about the mortgage crisis. McCain himself has often cited Gramm’s influence as a way to establish his bona fides with economic conservatives.
When Gramm chaired the Senate Banking Committee, he wrote and passed deregulatory legislation in more than one industry, establishing himself as a pre-eminent foe of government regulation. McCain’s March 26 speech recommended further deregulation of the banking industry as his response to the mortgage crisis.
McCain and Gramm have been friends for more than a decade. McCain chaired Gramm’s 1996 presidential run and Gramm says the two men speak every day. McCain reportedly has hinted Gramm might serve as his Treasury secretary.
Gramm has bankrolled much of McCain's campaign since his finances hit the skids last year. But his nastiness reaches levels you could drive a straight talk express through.
... even before lobbying emerged as an issue, some of his own advisors told the Washington Post last month that they questioned how Gramm’s legislative record might affect McCain’s campaign.
After Gramm passed a law easing regulation of energy-commodity trading, California experienced a sharp run-up in energy costs. The energy-trading company Enron was blamed and soon collapsed.
In 1999, Gramm successfully undid the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, removing the decades-old wall between commercial banking, which was heavily regulated, and investment banking, which was not. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act did not extend significant new regulation to investment banking.
Some economists fault Gramm’s deregulatory successes, as well as lax enforcement of remaining oversight powers, not just for the subprime mortgage crisis, but for its spread to other sectors of finance. Even Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has expressed interest in toughening regulations.
By the by, Graham also killed a bill that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to rewrite mortgage terms to help homeowners in trouble remain in their homes. Nice.
Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute told the Washington Post, “McCain is counting on people having very short memories and not connecting some pretty obvious dots here.”
Well, he's right about one thing: people do have short memories, especially people in the press. Let's see how long this story lasts.
Every couple of days I receive an email in my gmail account from a Carolyn Kay, of makethemaccountable.com. I must admit I don't open them, since it's obvious that the dispatch is an email newsletter from a Democratic-leaning blog or website. Well, tonight, I decided to have a look.
What I found was a lengthy screed, full of links to posts by other angry feminists, denigrating Barack Obama and interspersed with offensive cartoons depicting him as a simian dumbass. It's kind of like the lefty sites devoted to hyperventilating about George W. Bush, only this one is coming from a Democrat, and dedicated to attacking another Democrat. Oh, there's the odd anti-John McCain link, and plenty of Bush-bashing, but for the most part, it's all about Obama.
Ms. Kay, who makes it clear by her posts that she is a rather ... um... dedicated, Hillary Clinton supporter, is apparently a friend, on some level, of radio host Thom Hartmann, who also seems to lean Clinton (hell, he works for Air America. Mark Green doesn't do Obama love...) Given his intellect, I'm surprised that he would hang with such a person. If you don't believe how vituperative, ugly, and snide Ms. Kay can be, go on over to her site and read her for yourself. A sampling:
What Krugman said (by lambert) I’ll bet my first Early Girl tomato that none* of Krugman’s wise suggestions will be adopted. That is, the demonization of the Clintons will continue, Hillary’s supporters will continue to be written off as hicks, and Hillary will not be offered the VP slot.** Nor will Obama address the deficiencies in his health care plan. My views are based on Obama’s past performance in the campaign. If Obama has made no gestures of respect when he hasn’t won, why would he do so after he has? His base won’t demand it of him, nor will his handlers, nor will our famously free press, and so it won’t happen. If it were going to happen, it would already have happened; it’s not like there haven’t been opportunities.
What Hypocrite Obama Should Have Discussed in His Wesleyan Commencement Address (by Truthteller at No Quarter) MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) – “Filling in for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and tying himself to the family’s legacy, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama urged college graduates Sunday to ‘make us believe again’ by dedicating themselves to public service….[and] urged students to focus on more than ‘the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should buy.’” The rest of the 25-minute speech should have been dedicated to urging students to focus on “the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should buy,” for this is the life Barack Obama actually pursued. Indeed, Obama should have offered Wesleyan students instructions on how to find and secure political and financial godfathers in the mold of Antoin “Tony” Rezko. After all, this is how Obama climbed the political, social and financial ladders of Chicago, Illinois.
Meanwhile, on her bio page, she reveals that she grew up in Louisiana, didn't object to segregation, but was just fine with Blacks eventually trying to get equality. Thanks, dear. Then, at the bottom of her bio, just after the revelation that she is a cancer survivor, there's this:
So here I am. And here I’ll stay. I’ll use every talent I possess and all my energy to try to bring back tolerance, decency, and generosity to the country I love.
Tolerance? Decency? Generosity??? Lady, have you read your own blog???
Fox News "analyst" Liz Trotta has it in for Barack Obama ... or at least, she did:
During an interview on Fox News between anchor Eric Shawn and contributor Liz Trotta about the "assassination" comment by Sen. Hillary Clinton, Trotta mistakenly refers to Obama as Osama. "The vast right wing conspiracy blame has been undermined by her evasions, by her outright lies if I may say, by her pandering, by her race baiting, and now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama," she said.
Shawn corrected Trotta just as she herself realized she said the wrong name, and they simultaneously said, "Obama." Then, Trotta appears to attempt to make a joke about the gaffe. "Well, both if we could," she says, and laughs while Shawn says, "Talk about how you really feel." He then changes the subject.
Well, now, Trotta has said sowwy, but only when asked (by Bill Hemmer), after a full segment of truly ironic Hillary explication.
If your man has introduced you to his friends, if you've been invited to Thanksgiving dinner at his parents' house, if he takes you out to places where he could reasonably be recognized, and if, when he answers your phonecalls, he uses your name, rather than just "hey" or your first initial, you ARE the girlfriend. If not, it's time to lower your expectations.
PHOENIX (AP) — John McCain's complex relationship with President Bush can be summed up with a simple saying: can't live with him, can't live without him.
The president's own popularity is bottom-of-the-barrel low. Even allies privately fret that he's an albatross for the Republican looking to succeed him. Voters are crying out for change amid a prolonged Iraq war and a weakened economy.
But Bush also is beloved among GOP loyalists. He's a proven campaigner who can raise serious money. Those are huge assets as Arizona Sen. McCain works to rally the Republican base and fill his coffers while facing the Democrats' unrivaled enthusiasm and record-breaking fundraising.
The president and his would-be successor were appearing together Tuesday for the first time in nearly three months at an event that epitomized both elements of their tricky alliance — they were holding a fundraiser with GOP faithful at a private home, without the media to document it.
By the McCain campaign's own planning, the only time Bush and McCain would be captured on camera would be after the event — and too late to make most evening newscasts — on the Phoenix airport tarmac in the shadow of Air Force One, just before the president departs. McCain's fundraisers typically are closed to the press; the White House deferred to the campaign. No statements were expected.
There was originally supposed to be an arena event, but ... well ... you know, ticket sales aren't what they used to be ... and then there are all those cell phone cameras ... (shudders thinking about Youtube pics of McCain and Bush embracing lustily...)
("Yes, George, give me more pioneers ... and MORE ... and MORE!!!)
"Today, John McCain is having a different kind of meeting. He's holding a fundraiser with George Bush behind closed doors in Arizona. No cameras. No reporters," Obama said before a town hall in Las Vegas, "And we all know why. Senator McCain doesn't want to be seen, hat-in-hand, with the President whose failed policies he promises to continue for another four years. But the question for the American people is: do we want to continue George Bush's policies?"
Oh, and if nobody at his job knows who you are...?
http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifThe New York Times, which it should be said, supported, promoted, and through its former reporter, Judith Miller, laid the groundwork for the war in Iraq, delivers a stinging rebuke of President Bush and his opposition to a new G.I. Bill:
President Bush opposes a new G.I. Bill of Rights. He worries that if the traditional path to college for service members since World War II is improved and expanded for the post-9/11 generation, too many people will take it.
He is wrong, but at least he is consistent. Having saddled the military with a botched, unwinnable war, having squandered soldiers’ lives and failed them in so many ways, the commander in chief now resists giving the troops a chance at better futures out of uniform. He does this on the ground that the bill is too generous and may discourage re-enlistment, further weakening the military he has done so much to break.
So lavish with other people’s sacrifices, so reckless in pouring the national treasure into the sandy pit of Iraq, Mr. Bush remains as cheap as ever when it comes to helping people at home.
Thankfully, the new G.I. Bill has strong bipartisan support in Congress. The House passed it by a veto-proof margin this month, and last week the Senate followed suit, approving it as part of a military financing bill for Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Senate version was drafted by two Vietnam veterans, Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, and Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska. They argue that benefits paid under the existing G.I. Bill have fallen far behind the rising costs of college.
Their bill would pay full tuition and other expenses at a four-year public university for veterans who served in the military for at least three years since 9/11.
At that level, the new G.I. Bill would be as generous as the one enacted for the veterans of World War II, which soon became known as one of the most successful benefits programs — one of the soundest investments in human potential — in the nation’s history.
Mr. Bush — and, to his great discredit, Senator John McCain — have argued against a better G.I. Bill, for the worst reasons. They would prefer that college benefits for service members remain just mediocre enough that people in uniform are more likely to stay put.
They have seized on a prediction by the Congressional Budget Office that new, better benefits would decrease re-enlistments by 16 percent, which sounds ominous if you are trying — as Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain are — to defend a never-ending war at a time when extended tours of duty have sapped morale and strained recruiting to the breaking point.
Their reasoning is flawed since the C.B.O. has also predicted that the bill would offset the re-enlistment decline by increasing new recruits — by 16 percent. The chance of a real shot at a college education turns out to be as strong a lure as ever. This is good news for our punishingly overburdened volunteer army, which needs all the smart, ambitious strivers it can get.
This page strongly supports a larger, sturdier military. It opposes throwing ever more money at the Pentagon for defense programs that are wasteful and poorly conceived. But as a long-term investment in human capital, in education and job training, there is no good argument against an expanded, generous G.I. Bill.
By threatening to veto it, Mr. Bush is showing great consistency of misjudgment. Congress should forcefully show how wrong he is by overriding his opposition and spending the money — an estimated $52 billion over 10 years, a tiniest fraction of the ongoing cost of Mr. Bush’s Iraq misadventure.
In today's editorial, "Mr. Bush and the GI Bill", the New York Times irresponsibly distorts President Bush's strong commitment to strengthening and expanding support for America's service members and their families.
This editorial could not be farther from the truth about the President's record of leadership on this issue. In his January 2008 State of the Union Address, while proposing a series of initiatives to support our military families, President Bush specifically called upon Congress to answer service members' request that they be able to transfer their GI Bill benefits to their spouses and children. In April, he sent a legislative package to the Hill that would expand access to childcare, create new authorities to appoint qualified spouses into civil service jobs, provide education opportunities and job training for military spouses, and allow our troops to transfer their unused education benefits to their spouses or children.
As Congress debates the best way to expand the existing GI Bill, Secretary Gates has laid out important guidelines to ensure that legislation meets our service members' needs and rewards military service. First, since our servicemen and women have regularly requested the ability to transfer their GI bill benefits to their family members, legislation should include transferability. Second, legislation should provide greater rewards for continued military service in the all volunteer force.
There are several GI bill proposals under consideration in both the House and Senate. The Department of Defense has specific concerns about legislation sponsored by Senator Webb because it lacks transferability and could negatively impact military retention.
The President specifically supports the GI Bill legislation expansion proposed by Senators Graham, Burr, and McCain because it allows for the transferability of education benefits and calibrates an increase in education benefits to time in the service. ...
To which Jim Webb, Chuck Hagel and the members of the U.S. armed forces should rightly say, "whatever."
Congrats again to Webb, Hagel, the IAVA and others on pushing the G.I. Bill through. And Happy Memorial Day.
Hillary Clinton and her camp have long complained about media bias against her. But I think the events of the past 24 hours demonstrate that if there is indeed bias, it is squarely in her favor.
Witness the speed with which the flap over her assassination comments of Friday have created an intramural media backlash. The Politico's John Harris and others (including the NY Daily News editorial board, which also published an op-ed by Hillary today) are already coming to her defense, and inveighing against the coverage by their fellow members of the media, calling it overblown. These are the same media types who spent a full month or more obsessing over the comments, not of candidate Barack Obama, but of his pastor. These are the same media types who STILL use Barack's "bitter" comments, which were arguably more misconstrued than Hillary's comments about RFK, in their analysis of why he supposedly does so poorly with white, working class voters. Just this morning, on Stephanopoulos' show, both Rev. Wright AND "bittergate" were floated during the roundtable as evidence of Obama's "elitism problem." The Politico's Mike Allen was among those way out front in explaining how "bittergate" could torch Obama's campaign. And Harris in April published a full-blown manifesto arguing Obama's utter lack of electability which came straight from the Clinton inner circle.
So when, not 24 hours after it broke, reporters are already pooh-poohing the RFK flap, I see biased people, but not in Obama's direction.
The "poor Hillary" media corps have been helped in some ways by Barack Obama, who unlike Hillary with Rev. Wright, or Barack's religious faith (Christian ... as far as Hillary knows ...) and "bittergate," has declined to add onto her misery by being opaque about whether she meant what it clearly appeared that she meant. And RFK Jr. has been helpful by excusing Hillary's remarks, something she was quick to include in her NYDN editorial defending herself today. But on the merits, the outrageousness of Hillary's comments is a bombshell of much greater alarm, it seems to me, at a time when Barack's life really is threatened because of his campaign, than his offhand remarks about bitterness or, for god's sake, the third party remarks of his pastor. And yet, members of the media are, once again, letting Hillary off the hook.
Hillary Clinton pens an op-ed piece in today's New York Daily News, explaining her assassination gaffe, and explaining why she's staying in the race:
This past Friday, during a meeting with a newspaper editorial board, I was asked about whether I was going to continue in the presidential race.
I made clear that I was - and that I thought the urgency to end the 2008 primary process was unprecedented. I pointed out, as I have before, that both my husband's primary campaign, and Sen. Robert Kennedy's, had continued into June.
Almost immediately, some took my comments entirely out of context and interpreted them to mean something completely different - and completely unthinkable.
I want to set the record straight: I was making the simple point that given our history, the length of this year's primary contest is nothing unusual. Both the executive editor of the newspaper where I made the remarks, and Sen. Kennedy's son, Bobby Kennedy Jr., put out statements confirming that this was the clear meaning of my remarks. Bobby stated, "I understand how highly charged the atmosphere is, but I think it is a mistake for people to take offense."
I realize that any reference to that traumatic moment for our nation can be deeply painful - particularly for members of the Kennedy family, who have been in my heart and prayers over this past week. And I expressed regret right away for any pain I caused.
But I was deeply dismayed and disturbed that my comment would be construed in a way that flies in the face of everything I stand for - and everything I am fighting for in this election.
No apologies there, and a wee bit of riteous indignation. As to why she's still all-in, once you get past her usual talking points (not everybody has voted, our economy is in crisis, I still think I can win it all, blah, blah, blah,) you get this:
I am running because I believe staying in this race will help unite the Democratic Party. I believe that if Sen. Obama and I both make our case - and all Democrats have the chance to make their voices heard - in the end, everyone will be more likely to rally around the nominee.
Hillary's last, best argument for staying in, is that if she doesn't, millions of elder white women who support her, and voters in the remaining few states, will feel cheated. Therefore, in order to unite the party in the end, she has to get to the end. That's as rational an argument as she has left to put forward, and because the Obama campaign is amenable to letting it play out, that's what is most likely to happen. However, after June 3rd, Hillary's rationale dissipates, and I think, the drumbeat for her to get out will become insurmountable, especially since she has torched any chance of being asked to be on the ticket (a possibility that was beyond remote to begin with.)
Hillary Clinton's "assassination option" comments are still reverberating through the political atmosphere, with many Obama supporters who were at his big rally yesterday in Florida, myself included, not getting word of the gaffe until last evening. This morning, Mrs. Clinton awoke to a raft of blistering op-ed pieces and general oprobrium, along with numerous calls for her to get out of the race now. Michael Goodwin of the New York Daily News speaks for many:
SICK. Disgusting. And yet revealing. Hillary Clinton is staying in the race in the event some nut kills Barack Obama.
It could happen, but what definitely has happened is that Clinton has killed her own chances of being vice president. She doesn't deserve to be elected dog catcher anywhere now.
Her shocking comment to a South Dakota newspaper might qualify as the dumbest thing ever said in American politics.
Her lame explanation that she brought up the 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy because his brother Ted's illness was on her mind doesn't cut it. Not even close.
We have seen an X-ray of a very dark soul. One consumed by raw ambition to where the possible assassination of an opponent is something to ponder in a strategic way. Otherwise, why is murder on her mind?
Goodwin and others note that with this gaffe -- Hillary's "macaca moment" -- she has certainly ended all speculation about a joint ticket. She was very unlikely to be asked to be Obama's vice president anyway. Now, he can feel comfortable not even considering it.
It's a shame, though, that Clinton's rather bright political career could come down to this. We all know that in a sound byte culture, one mistake can literally end careers: just ask Jimmy the Greek, or George Allen. Sure, one can find a way back: Don Imus is, after all, still on the radio. But it's not the same. He's no longer a mainstream figure in talk radio. He's an outlier; a curiosity, and for Mrs. Clinton, his dual fate could be instructive.
I hate to believe that Hillary truly wants something bad to happen to Barack, so that she can be the nominee. But it's hard to mistake what she said for anything other than a dark reflection of her desperation, her raw ambition, and the cold calculus that she has made that could be summed up: hell, anything could happen -- this guy could be dead by next month. That's not only not becoming of a national leader, its unbecoming of a lady, of a human being, of a sitting Senator, or of anyone who aspires to be president.
We have forgiven you the photos of Osama Bin Laden in an anti-Obama ad...
We have forgiven you fawning over the fairness of Fox News while they were still calling you a murderer.
We have forgiven you accepting Richard Mellon Scaife's endorsement and then laughing as you described his "deathbed conversion."
We have forgiven you quoting the electoral predictions of Boss Karl Rove.
We have forgiven you the 3 a.m. Phone Call commercial.
We have forgiven you President Clinton's disparaging comparison of the Obama candidacy to Jesse Jackson's.
We have forgiven you Geraldine Ferraro's national radio interview suggesting Obama would not still be in the race had he been a white man.
We have forgiven you the dozen changing metrics and the endless self-contradictions of your insistence that your nomination is mathematically probable rather than a statistical impossibility.
We have forgiven you your declaration of some primary states as counting and some as not.
We have forgiven you exploiting Jeremiah Wright in front of the editorial board of the lunatic-fringe Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
We have forgiven you exploiting William Ayers in front of the debate on ABC.
We have forgiven you for boasting of your "support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans"...
We have even forgiven you repeatedly praising Senator McCain at Senator Obama's expense, and your own expense, and the Democratic ticket's expense.
But Senator, we cannot forgive you this.
"You know, my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California."
We cannot forgive you this -- not because it is crass and low and unfeeling and brutal.
This is unforgivable, because this nation's deepest shame, its most enduring horror, its most terrifying legacy, is political assassination.
Martin Luther King.
And, but for the grace of the universe or the luck of the draw, Reagan, Ford, Truman, Nixon, Andrew Jackson, both Roosevelts, even George Wallace.
The politics of this nation is steeped enough in blood, Senator Clinton, you cannot and must not invoke that imagery! Anywhere! At any time!
And to not appreciate, immediately - to still not appreciate tonight - just what you have done... is to reveal an incomprehension of the America you seek to lead.
This, Senator, is too much.
Because a senator - a politician - a person - who can let hang in mid-air the prospect that she might just be sticking around in part, just in case the other guy gets shot - has no business being, and no capacity to be, the President of the United States.
There has been a constant drumbeat of comparisons between Barack Obama and both John and Robert Kennedy, from the family, and from observers who see Obama as a natural bearer of the torch of Camelot.
More darkly, there has been an undercurrent of fear running through the Black community, that Barack Obama, if elected, would not be safe as president. That his communion with the Kennedys might be too close. I know more than a few Black folk, oder mostly, who backed Hillary Clinton because of that fear -- even saying, "I'd rather have him alive than in the White House."
So why ... why in the name of God would Hillary Clinton make a reference to Bobby Kennedy that even subliminally suggested that one reason for her to stay in the race, is that like RFK, Barack Obama might not make it past June? Why would she say anything that could even have been interpreted as such -- whatever she meant -- given the grim news we learned this week about the last remaining brother of the almost royal Kennedy clan? Here, if you can even fathom it, is what Hillary said:
In an interview with the Argus (SD) Leader editorial board today, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, took the unusual step of invoking the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy, D-NY, when discussing reasons why she was staying in the presidential race.
Asked about calls for her to drop out, Clinton said, “This is part of an ongoing effort to end this before it’s over. I sure don’t think it’s over." She mentioned how non-frontrunners took their delegates to the convention in 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992.
Suggesting that Obama's campaign has been the source of stories about a unity ticket with her as vice president, Clinton said, "people have been trying to push me out of this ever since Iowa."
Clinton was then asked if she doesn't think that those calling for the ticket are actually interested in uniting the party.
"I don’t because I’ve been around long enough," she said. "My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know, I don't understand it. And there's lots of speculation about why it is."
Hillary Clinton certainly ended her campaign today. She cannot possibly attract a single new super delegate after what she said in South Dakota. She should pray tonight that she has not also ended her political career.
Hillary has tried to clarify her remarks, insisting she was just referencing her husband's late corralling of the nomination in 1992, and she made a dazed-looking, semi-apology to the Kennedy family, and to anyone "if" she offended them -- though not to Obama -- this afternoon.
That probably won't help.
Because whatever Hillary meant, there simply is no place in politics for associating a candidate with assassination. It simply passes a threshold that Hillary herself lowered when she became the first presidential candidate in modern history to tout white, "hard working white voters" who are voting for her, and not for a black candidate. Hillary has fallen through the floor with this latest comment, and if Rev. Wright is now persona non grata for statements that are arguable, but really not beyond the pale, given what we've subsequently heard from people like John Hagee, how can Hillary continue to campaign after this?
In fact, she had used similar, more carefully phrased language back in March, in a Time magazine interview: "Primary contests used to last a lot longer. We all remember the great tragedy of Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June in L.A. My husband didn't wrap up the nomination in 1992 until June. Having a primary contest go through June is nothing particularly unusual."
The fear of a president or a presidential candidate being shot or assassinated is horrifying precisely because recent history teaches us that it can happen. We don't need anybody to remind us, and we certainly don't need anybody to remind whatever suggestible wackos might be lurking in the shadows.
In the context of Obama, Clinton's words broke a double taboo, because since the beginning of his candidacy, some of Obama's supporters have feared that his race made him more of a target than other presidential hopefuls. Obama was placed under Secret Service protection early, a full year ago. To be unaware that one's words tap into a monumental fear that exists in a portion of the electorate -- a fear that Obama's race could get him killed -- is an unusual mistake for a serious and highly disciplined presidential candidate.
It's surprising, too, because something very similar just happened last week, when Mike Huckabee made a joke at an NRA convention about somebody aiming a gun at Obama. He later apologized and called his remarks "offensive." He also could have called them "instructive" for any politician paying attention.
To translate from Desperate Clinton into English: Senator Obama could be assassinated at any moment, and such an event would represent another -- goddamn, this is awful -- another path to the nomination for her. It's all about her path to the nomination. A possible assassination of Senator Obama. Yep. This is what it's come down to.
Coupled with the well-known, ridiculous and dangerous rumors about Senator Obama, invoking an assassination attempt against him represents a new and ghoulish low for already bottom-feeding campaign.
To date, the Clinton campaign has exploited every despicable tactic and mongered every fear. How much more embarrassment and desperation can she heap upon herself and her party?
Hopefully, not much more.
It's time to go, Hillary. You're losing your bearings, and clearly have begun to fixate on the myriad "bad things" that could theoretically happent to take Obama out of the race. It's becoming obsessive. It's becoming a sad circus act. And it's getting creepy. Stop before you completely destroy yourself.
John Conyers' House Judiciary Committee finally serves Karl Rove, only he says that his former bosses at the White House still won't let him testify. Who knew presidential prerogatives stretched that far? The bottom line:
Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the committee chairman, said the subpoena was necessary because Mr. Rove had explicitly declined an invitation to appear voluntarily. Mr. Conyers and fellow committee Democrats say they want to question Mr. Rove about the dismissals of several federal prosecutors and ask whether he knows anything about the decision to prosecute former Gov. Donald E. Siegelman of Alabama, a Democrat.
Mr. Siegelman, who was convicted on a bribery charge, was released from prison in March pending an appeal after an appeals court ruled that he had raised “substantial questions” about his case.
Mr. Rove’s lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, in a letter to Mr. Conyers this week, said the chairman was “provoking a gratuitous confrontation.” Mr. Luskin asserted that Mr. Rove would not appear because he had been directed not to do so by the White House. Although Mr. Rove has left the White House and is now a political commentator, Mr. Luskin said that Mr. Rove “in these matters is not a free agent” and must comply with instructions from the White House not to testify.
Mr. Conyers has argued that Mr. Rove may not himself invoke any privilege on behalf of the White House but that President Bush could do so.
Mr. Rove’s lawyer also noted that the House committee was engaged in a similar conflict with Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel, who has also declined to provide voluntary testimony about the dismissals of the federal prosecutors and has defied a subpoena. That issue has landed in federal court, and Mr. Luskin said the Rove matter should await the resolution of that case.
Mr. Conyers, in a letter to Mr. Luskin on Thursday, said that the request to Mr. Rove was wider than the one to Ms. Miers because it also sought information about the Siegelman prosecution.
Several Democrats have asserted that Mr. Siegelman’s prosecution was encouraged for political reasons by Republicans in Washington. Mr. Siegelman served nine months of a seven-year sentence before being released pending an appeal.
Mr. Rove has denied any role in the Siegelman prosecution in comments to journalists, but Mr. Conyers is seeking to put him under oath. The subpoena demands that Mr. Rove appear before the committee on July 10.
John McCain makes it a two-fer, chucking both Pastors Hagee and Parsely -- his "spiritual adviser," no less -- over the side. So I guess now he's got to pick Huckabee, or risk having all the right wing nutters sit on their hands in November...
Hillary gets called out by one of her own superdelegates:
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York Gov. David Paterson, a superdelegate who supports Hillary Rodham Clinton, said she's showing "a little desperation" and should give up her effort to count votes from renegade primaries in Michigan and Florida.
Paterson said Thursday that Clinton shouldn't derail the process by which the national Democratic Party stripped Michigan and Florida of their national convention delegates because they moved their primaries up to January in violation of party rules. The rules were agreed to by all the candidates, including Clinton, before she won the two January contests. Because of the violations, no candidates campaigned in either state and her rival Barack Obama took his name off Michigan's ballot.
"I would say at this point we're starting to see a little desperation on the part of a woman I still support and will support until she makes a different determination," Paterson told WAMC-FM radio. "Candidates have to be cautious in their zeal to win that they don't trample on the process."
Well, he wasn't so bothered by the "God smote New Orleans because of the gays" comments (btw why are the media so surprised at this? It's not like offending gays is going to hurt a guy with Republican voters...) and he let ride the notion of the Catholic Church as "The Great Whore." But Pastor Hagee finally got served the divorce papers by John McCain with the latest nut-ball rant uncovered on the Internets. ABC blogs as follows:
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., this afternoon rejected the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee after a sermon was publicized in which Hagen suggested Adolph Hitler and the Holocaust were caused by God so as to bring about the creation of the state of Israel.
A source close to McCain told ABC News the Arizona senator thinks these sentiments are crazy, and that back in February when the campaign accepted Hagee's endorsement, no one on the campaign, and certainly not McCain, had any idea that Hagee believed these types of things.
“Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them," McCain said in a statement. "I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee's endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well."
Hagee had quoted the book of Jeremiah saying, "Behold I will bring them the Jewish people again unto their land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold I will send for many fishers and after will I send for many hunters. And they the hunters shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and from out of the holes of the rocks."
Hagee suggested that Hitler as a hunter, and as a result of the Holocaust, Jews had been brought back to the land God gave unto their fathers.
Feel free to enjoy the Hagee nuttery by clicking here.
John McCain erupts over G.I. Billhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif
John McCain is a hot head. Most people know that. His reaction today to Barack Obama's criticism of his failure to support the G.I. Bill which passed the Senate today can only be described in two words: ape shit. Observe:
"And I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did," the Arizona senator said in a harshly worded statement issued Thursday.
McCain lashed out at Obama's personal history despite Obama's repeated praise of McCain's military service. As Obama said Tuesday night in Des Moines, Iowa: "We face an opponent, John McCain, who arrived in Washington nearly three decades ago as a Vietnam War hero, and earned an admirable reputation for straight talk and occasional independence from his party."
In fact, that's just a snippet of what was actually an eight-paragraph screed, which is posted on McCain's web-site. A few snippets:
"It is typical, but no less offensive that Senator Obama uses the Senate floor to take cheap shots at an opponent and easy advantage of an issue he has less than zero understanding of. Let me say first in response to Senator Obama, running for President is different than serving as President. The office comes with responsibilities so serious that the occupant can't always take the politically easy route without hurting the country he is sworn to defend. Unlike Senator Obama, my admiration, respect and deep gratitude for America's veterans is something more than a convenient campaign pledge. I think I have earned the right to make that claim. ...
And later, after a curious segway reminding voters that he was very much alive during World War II ... there's this:
""Perhaps, if Senator Obama would take the time and trouble to understand this issue he would learn to debate an honest disagreement respectfully. But, as he always does, he prefers impugning the motives of his opponent, and exploiting a thoughtful difference of opinion to advance his own ambitions. If that is how he would behave as President, the country would regret his election."
It will be interesting to see how the old man's bitter demands for respect from the haughty young ... whippersnapper ... yeah, let's go with that ... will go over on Main Street.
Meanwhile, it's helpful to remember that this is the same John McCain who has stood with George W. Bush, who ducked his National Guard service by going AWOL during the Vietnam War, with Dick "Five Deferments" Cheney, with Joe "More Wars ... but I never served" Lieberman and other chickenhawks time and again as he helped them push the useless war in Iraq, and who stands with the GOP firestarters who slam congressional Democrats -- many more of whom HAVE served their country versus elected Republicans -- as unpatriotic for not me-tooing GWB on the war.
It's also the same John McCain who has, unconscionably, refused to support a G.I. Bill with the kinds of benefits afforded to people like him when he left military service, because in his view, it's too expensive, and might woo servicemen out of repeated tours in Iraq. Too expense? Shouldn't it be that nothing is too expensive for those who have sacrificed so much and received so little in return? Too expensive? When we're draining our treasury to help the Iraqis buy cheap oil and use our soldiers as their policemen? Too expensive? For who, John? You seem prepared to spend every penny of American treasure for Iraq, but not for your fellow soldiers...?
Worse, the response from McCain, whether from him or approved by him, is so over-the-top, so enraged, that it calls into question McCain's mental fitness to serve as commander in chief.
Barack Obama flew back to Washington this morning to cast his "aye" vote on the G.I. Bill, which passed today as part of a $165 billion war funding bill that was, against the president's wishes, married to a domestic spending package. (Score one for Jim Webb and IAVA...)
Says the WaPo:
... The 75-22 vote surprised even the measure's advocates and showed clearly the impact of the looming November election on Republican unity. Senate Republicans who face reelection broke first on the amendment, followed by other Republicans who quickly jumped on board.
It was a clear rebuke to Bush, who has promised to veto any measure that adds domestic spending to his $108 billion request to fund the war. The White House opposed the expanded G.I. Bill, concerned that the price tag was too high and the generous benefits could entice soldiers and Marines to leave the overburdened military rather than reenlist.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, who was in Ft. Bragg, N.C. with Bush, said of the vote: "There's a long way to go in this process, and fortunately it takes two houses of Congress to send a bill to the president. Our position hasn't changed: This is the wrong way to consider domestic spending, and Congress should not go down this path."
The Senate measure extends unemployment benefits for 13 weeks, funds levee construction around New Orleans and guarantees that veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will receive education benefits equal to the tuition of the most expensive state universities.
It provides additional funds for the Food and Drug Administration, the 2010 Census, federal prisons, local law enforcement agencies, heating assistance for the poor and many other domestic priorities. It also blocks the administration from implementing regulations that would limit access to the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
Although parts of the amendment have always enjoyed bipartisan support, the measure has taken on the weight of the presidential campaign in recent weeks. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the presumptive GOP nominee, opposed the domestic spending and advocated a slimmed-down version of the G.I. Bill, adopting the administration's argument that the original version -- authored by Sens. James Webb (D-Va.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) -- would deplete the military.
In so doing, McCain went against virtually every veterans organization, from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion to the more partisan VoteVets.org.
McCain did not interrupt his campaign schedule to vote today, but his Democratic rivals, Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), did.
"I respect Senator John McCain's service to our country," Obama said. "But I can't understand why he would line up behind the president in opposition to this G.I. Bill. I can't believe why he believes it is too generous to our veterans."
So who were the 22 Senators who voted against the bill? My money's on Traitor Joe and Miss Lindsey being in that number. Let's take a look-see:
Well I'll be damned! Lieberman surprised me this time, although his favorite little warmonger didn't even bother to show up and vote. Way to show that courage, McCain... And with the other AZ Republican Senator voting down veteran's benefits (the vote you'd have to assume McCain would have cast, had he had the cojones to show up), you've got to wonder what Arizona's veterans and active duty troops think of their present leadership. Could it be time to revive the question, Senator, "when and why did you sell your soul?"
Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, (a/k/a Mika's dad) is on "Morning Joe" scaring the bejeezus out of everyone. He has posited the notion of America as a "gated community," totally isolated from the world, if John McCain becomes president. Brzezinksi, who was Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor, reminded the panel that McCain's principle foreign policy adviser, Joe Lieberman, is "advocating World War IV against the world of Islam," that, as CNBC's Erin Burnett reported, much of the world is "organizing itself" separate from, and in many ways, against the U.S., and that President Bush recently went to the Saudis to "beg for oil in private, and insult them in public," by giving a speech in which he stated that the common practice in the Mideast is to have a dictator in power and the opposition in jail. And of course, he was politely rebuffed.
But here's why the meetings probably don't matter, unless they're actually a camouflage for just meeting with Mitt.
Jindal: too new, and too obvious a play for the minority visual vs. Obama. Can't you just see the 527 fliers from some right wing racist organization asking if Jindal is the REAL father of John McCain's adopted, brown daughter?
Crist: too liberal, in the eyes of many Republicans, McCain doesn't really need him to carry Florida, and let's keep it real, the gay rumors may have blown over in the sunshine state, but that dog won't hunt in other red states, where a handy flier touting the single guv's possibly alternative lifestyle will freak out the Christian right (especially the closeted ones.)
Romney, of course, is another matter. His father was god-like in Michigan, so the Romney name could help McCain poach that state. And Romney, because of his business and Olympic background, brings McCain the economic conversance that he himself clearly lacks. Downside: Romney comes across as a pompaded phony, and that's not exactly helpful to a campaign whose "straight talk express" is already running on the rails, pushed overboard by lobbyists, flip-flops and Mac's total incoherence on the Middle East.
So maybe the other two meetings are about solidifying those two semi-swing states (Louisiana and Florida) and a McCain pitch for Jindal and Crist to open up their fundraising files. Other than that, when it comes to running mates, don't hold your breath, at least not for those two.
Meanwhile, Hot Air asks, "what, no Huck?" and reports that of course, The Entourage (Traitor Joe and Miss Lindsey) will be there, too ... in case Mac needs a back rub. The missus is way to rich for that kind of thing.
I love the way the mainstream media (perhaps more correctly termed the "corporate media," gets an eyeful of the New York Times and suddenly, spins on a dime. Don't know if you caught Norah O'Donnell's act tonight on MSNBC, but she was spinning out of control, walking back from weeks of political race-baiting during her ever stranger primary night impersonation of Frank Luntz (this week in a black cocktail dress and way too formal necklace, no less...) Suddenly, after apparently reading this piece in the New York Times (as it seems everybody in punditland did today,) she discovers that wait! West Virginia white voters aren't RACIST ... they're REPUBLICANS!
So what did the Times say that has so many pundit heads exploding?
...Consider the media shorthand for both Kentucky and West Virginia, where Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama by huge margins. These are hard-working, real Americans, the Clinton camp says, and a Democrat can’t win without them.
In fact, both West Virginia and Kentucky have gone against the national tide of the last 8 years and have been trending Republican. Also – and this needs to be said – a significant percentage of the voters in both those states have now indicated that they may not vote for a fellow Democrat simply because he’s black.
Pollsters know that people lie about race; voters rarely come out and say they will not vote for someone because he’s black. Instead, they say things like we’re hearing from West Virginia and Kentucky – that “race is a factor.”
In Kentucky, over 25 percent of Clinton supporters said race was a factor in their vote – about five times the national average for such a question. Clinton, if she really wanted to do something lasting, could ask her supporters why the color of a fellow Democrat’s skin is so important to their vote.
Now, consider the argument that a Democrat needs these states. In 2000, George Bush won West Virginia 52 to 46 percent. Four years later, he’d increased his margin to 56-43.
In Kentucky, Bush won 57-41 in 2000, and padded that to 60-40 four years later.
Appalachia, we now know, is Clinton’s heartland – but it does not resemble the Democratic landscape. If these are Democratic states, there’s some strange serum in the local brew at party headquarters.
On to Oregon, where Obama won by double digits. A bunch of chai tea sipping elitists, with zero body fat, living in hip lofts while working at Nike, yes? No. Well, they do like running, and tea. Oregon is one of the nation’s whitest states – just under 2 percent of residents are black – but rich it is not. The state is below the national average in both per capita income and median household income.
This suggests that Obama doesn’t have a white working class problem so much as a regional problem, in a place where Democrats won’t win anyway. ...
Now think ... how many times this afternoon and tonight did you hear a cable talker use the phrase, "Obama doesn't have a white working class problem, he's got a regional problem...?" I'll count them for you: Norah O, David Gregory, Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann are just four of the analysts who came up with that ephiphany tonight.
Do tell. You mean the third of white voters who indicated THEMSELVES that they are in actuality, McCain voters just participating in the Democratic primary to vote down the black guy won't vote for Barack in the fall any more than they supported him in the spring? REALLY? And Hillary, after all her pandering and stroking "hard working white folk" may not be turning out white Democrats, but rather, McCain voters, in the primary?
Well I'll be a unicorn's horse shoe.
And white people who aren't self-described racists WILL vote for Obama, even though he isn't entirely white? But ... if the media can't keep obsessing over racial voting ... I suppose we'll just have to hear about CLASS and REGIONAL voting bias FOR THE REST OF THE CAMPAIGN...
So .... um .... John McCain's prized endorser, Pastor John Hagee, thinks Adolph Hitler was a hunter, sent by God ... you know what? Why don't you just read it yourself:
John Hagee, the controversial evangelical leader and endorser of Sen. John McCain, argued in a late 1990s sermon that the Nazis had operated on God's behalf to chase the Jews from Europe and shepherd them to Palestine. According to the Reverend, Adolph Hitler was a "hunter," sent by God, who was tasked with expediting God's will of having the Jews re-establish a state of Israel.
Going in and out of biblical verse, Hagee preached: "'And they the hunters should hunt them,' that will be the Jews. 'From every mountain and from every hill and from out of the holes of the rocks.' If that doesn't describe what Hitler did in the holocaust you can't see that."
He goes on: "Theodore Hertzel is the father of Zionism. He was a Jew who at the turn of the 19th century said, this land is our land, God wants us to live there. So he went to the Jews of Europe and said 'I want you to come and join me in the land of Israel.' So few went that Hertzel went into depression. Those who came founded Israel; those who did not went through the hell of the holocaust.
"Then god sent a hunter. A hunter is someone with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter. And the Bible says -- Jeremiah writing -- 'They shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and from the holes of the rocks,' meaning there's no place to hide. And that might be offensive to some people but don't let your heart be offended. I didn't write it, Jeremiah wrote it. It was the truth and it is the truth. How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because God said my top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel."
Yeah. The HuffPo has the audio, too. Can't wait that long? Here you go.
So John, care to re-visit not repudiating the endorsement you worked so hard to get?
"In Florida, you learned the hard way what happens when your votes aren't counted and the candidate with fewer votes is declared the winner," she said. "The lesson of 2000 here in Florida is crystal clear: if any votes aren't count, the will of the people isn't realized and our democracy is diminished."
Clinton, at times sounding like a modern history professor, praised the abolitionists, suffragettes and civil rights pioneers and talked about her own efforts to fight legislative redistricting and voter identification initiatives that she said dilute minority voting power.
"This work to extend the franchise to all of our citizens is a core mission of the modern Democratic party," she said. "From signing the Voting Rights Act and fighting racial discrimination at the ballot box to lowering the voting age so those old enough to fight and die in war would have the right to choose their commander in chief, to fighting for multi-lingual ballots so you can make your voice heard no matter what language you speak."
Yes, yes, and the Democratic primary is just like World War I and World War II and the American Revolution and you're exactly like Lady MacBeth ...! ... okay you might not want to use that last part...
A tale of two campaigns: rumble in the sunshine state
A day after John McCain held his panderfest at the Versailles restaurant in Miami (for those not from South Florida, Versailles is where the old Cuban heads hang out and kvetch about Fidel Castro, and how they coulda, shoulda, and woulda deposed him if not for those darned Kennedys...) Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama barnstormed Florida today, and with very, very different vibes. First, Mrs. Clinton:
She spoke to about 800 "seasoned folk" at the Century Village retirement complex in Boca. An unfortunate paragraph from the Sun-Sentinel article:
Clinton added a new wrinkle to her argument: Not only should Florida's vote count - but all of the state's 210 delegates should be seated according to the results that gave her a 17-percentage point victory.
Did they have to mention wrinkles???
Meanwhile, Barack Obama spoke to the LARGEST CROWD EVER in the state, in of all places, Republican-leaning Tampa. The Miami Herald's Beth Reinhard does the honors:
How does a presidential candidate make up for snubbing, disparaging and being downright rude to the nation's largest battleground state for nine long months? If you're Barack Obama, you do it with the largest campaign event ever in the state of Florida -- a sold-out rally at a hockey arena with more than 15,000 people.
''It's good to be back in Florida,'' Obama told the rowdy crowd, which didn't want to sit down or shut up. ``I know you guys have been holding down the fort.''
Hey, Beth, what's with the snubbing and disparaging? I don't remember Barack doing any of that...
Anyhoo, the contrast, you might say, is striking.
And look for Barack to beat the Tampa crowd record when he comes to Broward on Friday. The BankAtlantic Center arena in Sunrise holds more than 20,000 people.
It's official. Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy is suffering from a malignant brain tumor. Kennedy is the last man standing in the generation of his family that brought us Camelot, and "Bobby." He was the baby of the family, having lost each of his older siblings one by one, in more and more terrifying fashion. Kennedy is father not just to his own children, but to his brothers' Jack and Robert's children as well. He is also, as has been said so many times, a lion of American politics. This is, then, no time for politics. (Right and left, for once, agree. though I wonder if the Wizbangers and others on the right who have been so cruel to Kennedy over the years, will observe the truce for long.)
In any event, God speed to the Senator, and God bless his family.
MSNBC is reporting that the senior Senator from Massachusetts, and the pater familias of the Kennedy family, has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, specifically a "glioma," which was the apparent cause of his seizure. The common treatment is radiation and chemotherapy, and apparently, it is a very serious, fast-spreading type of cancer.
All of our prayers should be with the Senator and his family today. |
With St. John in Miami today, it seems like as good a time as any for this Salon flashback. (The Iseman in the clip is Vicki Iseman, the blonde lobbyist McCain's aides once worried he was getting much to close to, as reported earlier this year in the New York Times...)
... Eight years ago, when McCain's connection with Iseman alarmed his staffers, the most lucrative lobbying contracts won by Alcalde & Fay were with the cruise ship industry. In 2001 alone, Iseman's firm received well over a million dollars from passenger ship companies and interest groups, which include local port authorities in Florida as well as companies such asCarnival Cruises. That year, the International Council of Cruise Lines paid Alcalde & Fay a fee of $990,600, by far the largest amount from a single interest that the firm has earned during the past decade. Iseman herself is a longtime registered lobbyist for Carnival.
It may be just a coincidence that around the same time, McCain became a dedicated sponsor of bills to deregulate the cruise and passenger ship industries, which have been hobbled for decades by protectionism and national security laws. Year after year, he promoted legislation that would have permitted greater freedom for foreign-flag cruise ships to operate in U.S. coastal waters, even while he occasionally scolded the cruise operators for persistent safety problems on their boats. During those years, he became known as the best friend of the port authorities, cruise lines and others seeking to rewrite laws dating back to 1886 that protect American ships from foreign competition.
Welcome back, John. And bon voyage!
And Johnny Mac's lobbyists friends have other Florida ties, including ties to Univision, which will no doubt give glowing coverage to his pandering speech on Cuba today.
UPDATE: Meet all of John McCain's lobbyist friends here.
John McCain is in Miami today, giving a speech right now that panders in the most blatant fashion to Cuban-Americans who remain obsessed with Fidel Castro. McCain went after Barack Obama for supposedly calling for unconditional meetings with Raul Castro, and he pledged to keep the embargo going if he becomes president. What's remarkable is how determined McCain appears to be to cleave to George W. Bush's hardline policies, and I suspect that his audience probably shares his age demographic. (Note to McCain, younger Cuban-Americans favor easing the embargo, particularly as regards remittances and family visitation.)
McCain did some chearleading for the failed free trade agreement with Colombia, which can't help him out with economically struggling middle class voters, who despise free trade. He did throw a bone to Hispanic voters who aren't Cuban, accusing the U.S. (and by implication, the Bush administration,) of "treating Latin America like a little brother, rather than an equal." As president, he would change that, I take it, while extending the kind of free trade that has driven America's industrial basin into a ditch.
And McCain has driven himself right into the middle of very complex Cuban-American politics in Miami, and in Florida, where the Cuban stranglehold on U.S. policy isn't exactly popular outside the Miami city limits. Meanwhile, where will South Florida's Democratic congresspeople be hiding today, since two of the most prominent, Kendrick Meek and Debbie Wasserman Shultz, have refused to campaign for the three Democrats who hope to replace the Cuba-fanatic trio of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the Diaz-Balart brothers, whose family grudge with the Castro brothers has helped to grind U.S. policy in the region to a halt. Do they ... the Dems, I mean ... endorse McCain on this one?
Is Geraldine Ferraro the angriest broad in America? Yes, yes yes yes yes. Appearing on "Today" this morning, Gerry reiterated just how terribly sexist Barack Obama and the media and everybody else who won't Hillary Clinton be the nominee without winning enough pledged delegates is.
If this is what menopause looks like, count me out.
Perhaps the most poignant endorsement so far comes from West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, a Klansman in his youth, and a supporter of a black candidate for president, today.
Ben Smith has the news, and a stirring passage from Barack Obama's autobiography about his first time meeting Byrd, whom right wingers caricature, but who renounced his ties to his racist past long ago, and whose rempentance should be no less accepted than any other sinner's. Byrd's endorsement has heavy symbolism, not for politics, but for this country.
Both the New York Times and Washington Post have stories today about the dejection and bitterness engulfing some Hillary Clinton supporters who saw her candidacy as a triumph of feminism, and now see its defeat as evidence of the scourge of sexism.
“Women felt this was their time, and this has been stolen from them,” said Marilu Sochor, 48, a real estate agent in Columbus, Ohio, and a Clinton supporter. “Sexism has played a really big role in the race.”
Not everyone agrees. “When people look at the arc of the campaign, it will be seen that being a woman, in the end, was not a detriment and if anything it was a help to her,” the presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said in an interview. Mrs. Clinton’s campaign is faltering, she added, because of “strategic, tactical things that have nothing to do with her being a woman.”
As a former first lady whose political career evolved from her husband’s, Mrs. Clinton was always an imperfect test case for female achievement — “somebody’s wife,” as Elaine Kamarck, a professor of government at Harvard and a Clinton supporter, described her.
Still, many credit Mrs. Clinton with laying down a new marker for what a woman can accomplish in a campaign — raising over $170 million, frequently winning more favorable reviews on debate performances than her male rivals, rallying older women, and persuading white male voters who were never expected to support her.
“She’s raised this whole woman candidate thing to a whole different level than when I ran,” said Geraldine Ferraro, a Clinton supporter and the first woman to be the vice-presidential nominee of a major party, contrasting her own brief stint as a running mate in 1984 with Mrs. Clinton’s 17-month-and-counting slog.
Ms. Goodwin and others say Mrs. Clinton was able to convert the sexism she faced on the trail into votes and donations, extending the life of a candidacy that suffered a serious blow at the Iowa caucuses. Like so many women before, she was heckled (in New Hampshire, a few men told her to iron their shirts) and called nasty names (“How do we beat the bitch?” Senator John McCain was asked at one campaign event).
But the response may have been more powerful than the injury. In the days after Mrs. Clinton was criticized for misting up on the campaign trail, she won the New Hampshire primary and drew a wave of donations, many from women expressing indignation about how she had been treated.
And Mrs. Clinton seemed to channel the lives of regular women, who often saw her as an avenging angel. Take Judith Henry, 67, for whom Mrs. Clinton’s primary losses stirred decades-old memories of working at a phone company where women were not allowed to hold management positions. “They always gave us the clerical jobs and told us we didn’t have families to support,” she said. At a rally last month in Bloomington, Ind., she sat with her daughter Susan Henry, 45, a warehouse worker, who complained that her male colleagues did less work and made more money than the women did.
Decades after the dissolution of movement feminism, Mrs. Clinton’s events and donor lists filled with women who had experienced insult or isolation on the job. Moitri Chowdhury Savard, 36, a doctor in Queens, was once asked by a supervisor why she was not home cooking for her husband; Liz Kuoppala, 37, of Eveleth, Minn., worked as the only woman in her mining crew and is now the only woman on the City Council.
Ms. Kamarck, 57, the Harvard professor and a longtime adviser to Democratic candidates, said she was still incredulous about the time her colleagues on Walter F. Mondale’s presidential campaign, all men, left for lunch without inviting her — because, she later discovered, they were headed to a strip club.
In that piece, Geraldine Ferraro, perhaps the most bitter woman I've ever witnessed in public life, indicates that she might not vote for Barack in the fall:
Some even accuse Mr. Obama of chauvinism, pointing to the time he called Mrs. Clinton “likeable enough” as evidence of dismissiveness. Nancy Wait, 55, a social worker in Columbia City, Ind., said Mr. Obama was far less qualified than Mrs. Clinton and described as condescending his recent assurances that Mrs. Clinton should stay in the race as long as she liked. Ms. Wait said she would “absolutely, positively not” vote for him come fall.
Ms. Ferraro, who clashed with the Obama campaign about whether she made a racially offensive remark, said she might not either. “I think Obama was terribly sexist,” she said.
Cynthia Ruccia, 55, a sales director for Mary Kay cosmetics in Columbus, Ohio, is organizing a group, Clinton Supporters Count Too, of mostly women in swing states who plan to campaign against Mr. Obama in November. “We, the most loyal constituency, are being told to sit down, shut up and get to the back of the bus,” she said.
The "likable enough" comment comes up in the WaPo article too:
Lifelong Democrat Kathleen Cowley watches with disdain as huge crowds hang on Sen. Barack Obama's every word. She dismisses Obama's "intolerable logic." She turns the channel on pundits who chalk up Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's primary victories to little more than racism. And she doesn't much care for the notion that while Obama is fresh and inspiring, Clinton is, by implication, old and mean.
"There's just been an attitude that if you aren't voting for Barack Obama, then you're a racist," said Cowley, 49, a mother of four from Massachusetts who has vowed to never back the senator from Illinois. "I just find that intolerable. I feel like when the members of the media talk about how [Obama's supporters] would react, they say, 'Well, we can't take the vote away from African Americans.' Well, excuse me, there's a higher percentage of women."
A Democratic race that a couple of months ago was celebrated as a march toward history -- the chance to nominate the nation's first woman or African American as a major-party candidate -- threatens to leave lingering bitterness, especially among Clinton supporters, whose candidate is running out of ways to win.
Some women, like Cowley, complain that Clinton has been disrespected and mistreated by the media and the political establishment. Many see Obama as equally condescending, dismissing Clinton's foreign policy role as first lady, pulling out her chair for her at debates and suggesting offhand during one debate that she was "likable enough."
"The sexist crap that comes out of people's mouths is really scary to me," said Amilyn Lanning, 38, a Zionsville, Pa., voter who supported Clinton in last month's primary. "There's a lot of the b-word being thrown about, even in jest by comedians. There's a lot of comments made about her pantsuits, and the way she dresses. There's a viciousness."
The Washington Post piece points out that the bitterness over the campaign runs both ways, with African-Americans resenting HRC's camp as much as some of her older white women resent him.
Odds are, most of Hillary's millions will return to the Democrats come November. It's hard to imagine these same feminists, for whom gender was so central to the campaign, rolling up their sleeves and voting for an old, white man who opposes abortion, for president. Wouldn't that be affirming everything they claim to oppose?
Meanwhile, the Clinton Agonistes are causing one hell of a schizm at NARAL:
With the clock running down on a long-fought primary, NARAL Pro-Choice America leaders sent state affiliates reeling this week by endorsing Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. It was seen as a gratuitous slap in the face to a longtime ally, and it sparked a fear even closer to home: that the move will alienate donors loyal to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
Many on this week’s conference call were stunned on learning the news, making urgent pleas for the group to remain neutral until after the June 3 Democratic primaries.
“It’s created a firestorm,” said NARAL Pro-Choice New York President Kelli Conlin, who was on the conference call. “Everyone was mystified ... saying, ‘What is the upside for the organization? And, frankly, [there was] a lot of concern about the donor base. ... There was real concern there would be a backlash.” There was a backlash, and it was swift, starting with NARAL’s own website. At last count, there were more than 3,300 comments in an electronic chat about the endorsement, the overwhelming majority of them negative. “Shame shame shame!” read one, with many correspondents threatening never to support NARAL financially again. “No more donations from me!!!” wrote another.
In Washington, two dozen women members of Congress who support Clinton held a quickly organized press conference to tout her abortion-rights record Wednesday night. Ellen Malcolm, founder of the abortion-rights women’s fundraising group EMILY’s List, sharply rebuked NARAL for its endorsement. Two former members of Congress (and Clinton supporters) — Geraldine Ferraro and Pat Schroeder — jabbed at NARAL for endorsing before the general election. “Looks like some higher ups at NARAL are trying to get jobs in the new administration ... nothing else makes sense to us,” they wrote in a joint letter.
Fox News scrapes the bottom of the barrel ... again
Yet another reason to dismiss Fox News from the ranks of serious journalism: this afternoon, I was scanning through the cable channels for updates on Sen. Ted Kennedy's hospitalization. I happened to pause on Fox News Channel, and caught a few minutes of their coverage. Only on Fox would the news be about politicial reactions the Senator's hospitalization (they were about to introduce Trent Lott), but the crawl be about ... you guessed it ... Chappaquiddick. The right is so dispicable, so callous, that's all they can think of when they think of Ted Kennedy, and they feel the need to remind their idiot minions about it at every opportunity, lest one of the flock break out of the pen and grow a mind of their own.
Fox News staff: you should be embarrased. Of course, if you were capable of embarassment, you wouldn't be working at Fox News...
Barack Obama took on an unpopular president, and won, and thanks to John McCain and George W. Bush's combined stupidity, he was able to lash the two men together in history, and elevate himself to the presidential pillar.
Confronting a major challenge to his world view, Mr. Obama tried to turn the tables on his critics, saying they were guilty of “bluster” and “dishonest, divisive” tactics. He cited a litany of what he called foreign policy blunders by the Bush administration and accused Mr. McCain, the presumed Republican nominee, of “doubling down” on them.
“George Bush and John McCain have a lot to answer for,” Mr. Obama said at a midday forum here, listing the Iraq war, the strengthening of Iran and groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, Osama bin Laden’s being still at large and stalled diplomacy in other parts of the Middle East among their chief failings.
“If George Bush and John McCain want to have a debate about protecting the United States of America,” Mr. Obama said, “that is a debate I am happy to have any time, any place.”
His defiance and disdain for Mr. Bush’s record appeared to be a signal that he will push back against efforts to define him or his record as weak on terror or accommodating to foreign foes, a strategy Republicans used successfully against Senator John Kerry in 2004.
The appearance also signaled that the campaigns are pivoting swiftly toward the general election, with the two sides already in full attack mode.
Consistently throughout his comments about foreign policy, Mr. Obama yoked Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain as one entity, mentioning their names in the same sentence 10 times in barely 10 minutes. He portrayed them as being not only inflexible, but also “naïve and irresponsible,” the characteristics they ascribe to him.
The remarks were made a day after Mr. Bush, addressing the Israeli Parliament, spoke of what he called a tendency toward “appeasement” in some quarters of the West, similar to that shown to the Nazis before the invasion of Poland.
Mr. Bush also said he rejected negotiations with “terrorists and radicals,” implying that Democrats favored such a position. Mr. Obama said he found the remarks offensive.
“After almost eight years, I did not think I could be surprised by anything that George Bush says,” Mr. Obama said, criticizing Mr. Bush for raising an internal issue on foreign soil. “But I was wrong.”
Mr. McCain endorsed Mr. Bush’s remarks, saying, “The president is exactly right,” and adding that Mr. Obama “needs to explain why he is willing to sit down and talk” with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.
Mr. Obama at first joked that he wanted to respond to “a little foreign policy dustup yesterday.” But he quickly made it clear that he regarded the exchange as anything but funny, criticizing Mr. Bush and saying Mr. McCain “still hasn’t spelled out one substantial way in which he’d be different from George Bush’s foreign policy.”
“In the Bush-McCain world view, everyone who disagrees with their failed Iran policy is an appeaser,” Mr. Obama said.
Mr. McCain’s campaign answered quickly and sharply on Friday. A spokesman, Tucker Bounds, called the remarks a “hysterical diatribe in response to a speech in which his name wasn’t even mentioned.” ...
So the best they've got is "hey, he wasn't even talking about you!"
I really like Mike Huckabee, which is why stories like this one are so disconcerting:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Republican Mike Huckabee responded to an offstage noise during his speech to the National Rifle Association by suggesting it was Barack Obama diving to the floor because someone had aimed a gun at him.
Hearing a loud noise and interrupting his speech, Huckabee said: "That was Barack Obama. He just tripped off a chair. He's getting ready to speak and somebody aimed a gun at him and he — he dove for the floor."
There were only a few murmurs in the crowd after the remark.
Here's the video:
And he just HAD to wrap by saying that "the future of our democracy depends on people who understand that policy cannot act in a moral vacuum."
I'm assuming Reverend Huckabee, who remains an ordained minister, I must remind folks, will clarify his remarks, and apologize. He seems like too good of a guy to really mean what this seems to mean. It's just way too RFK circa 1968, Huck. Not cute.
Talk about appeasement. George W. Bush gave Osama bin Laden what he was demanding when he pulled U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia after 9/11. Now, he goes with hat in hand to the Saudis, who supposedly adore him, to plead for higher oil production in order to deflate gas prices before the summertime drive pushes his approval ratings into the teens. So what do the Saudis say?
(CBS/AP) President Bush's second stab this year at getting oil-rich Saudi Arabia to increase production and drive down the soaring gasoline prices hurting U.S. consumers appears to have again failed.
Saudi Arabian leaders made clear Friday they see no reason to increase oil production until their customers demand it, apparently rebuffing Mr. Bush, the White House said.
During Mr. Bush's second personal appeal this year to King Abdullah, Saudi officials stuck to their position that they are already meeting demand, the president's national security adviser told reporters.
"What they're saying to us is ... Saudi Arabia does not have customers that are making requests for oil that they are not able to satisfy," Stephen Hadley said on a day when oil prices topped $127 a barrel, a record high.
Maybe he could give them part of Czechoslovakia...?
Remember the Lying Guy on Saturday Night Live? The White House is channeling him with a pathetic denial on Bush's un-American remarks in Israel:
"We did not anticipate that it would be taken that way, because its kind of hard to take it that way when you look at the actual words. ... There was some anticipation that someone might say you know its an expression of rebuke to former President Carter for having met with Hamas. that was something that was anticipated but no one wrote about it or raised it."
Yeah, Ed Gillespie ... Jimmy Carter ... that's the ticket...
John McCain is going to be Hamas' worst nightmare if elected ... if by nightmare you mean boring them to death while negotiating with them...
...given his own position on Hamas, McCain is the last politician who should be attacking Obama. Two years ago, just after Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections, I interviewed McCain for the British network Sky News's "World News Tonight" program. Here is the crucial part of our exchange:
I asked: "Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?"
McCain answered: "They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it's a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that."
... Given that exchange, the new John McCain might say that Hamas should be rooting for the old John McCain to win the presidential election. The old John McCain, it appears, was ready to do business with a Hamas-led government, while both Clinton and Obama have said that Hamas must change its policies toward Israel and terrorism before it can have diplomatic relations with the United States.
The rather grand Peggy Noonan is out with another column. Here's an excerpt:
The Democrats aren't the ones falling apart, the Republicans are. The Democrats can see daylight ahead. For all their fractious fighting, they're finally resolving their central drama. Hillary Clinton will leave, and Barack Obama will deliver a stirring acceptance speech. Then hand-to-hand in the general, where they see their guy triumphing. You see it when you talk to them: They're busy being born.
The Republicans? Busy dying. The brightest of them see no immediate light. They're frozen, not like a deer in the headlights but a deer in the darkness, his ears stiff at the sound. Crunch. Twig. Hunting party.
The headline Wednesday on Drudge, from Politico, said, "Republicans Stunned by Loss in Mississippi." It was about the eight-point drubbing the Democrat gave the Republican in the special House election. My first thought was: You have to be stupid to be stunned by that. Second thought: Most party leaders in Washington are stupid – detached, played out, stuck in the wisdom they learned when they were coming up, in '78 or '82 or '94. Whatever they learned then, they think pertains now. In politics especially, the first lesson sticks. For Richard Nixon, everything came back to Alger Hiss.
They are also – Hill leaders, lobbyists, party speakers – successful, well-connected, busy and rich. They never guessed, back in '86, how government would pay off! They didn't know they'd stay! They came to make a difference and wound up with their butts in the butter. But affluence detaches, and in time skews thinking. It gives you the illusion you're safe, and that everyone else is. A party can lose its gut this way. ...
You really should read the whole thing. I don't agree with her ideologically, but the woman is brilliant.
One more telling clip from her column:
But this week a House Republican said publicly what many say privately, that there is another truth. "Members and pundits . . . fail to understand the deep seated antipathy toward the president, the war, gas prices, the economy, foreclosures," said Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia in a 20-page memo to House GOP leaders.
The party, Mr. Davis told me, is "an airplane flying right into a mountain." Analyses of its predicament reflect an "investment in the Bush presidency," but "the public has just moved so far past that." "Our leaders go up to the second floor of the White House and they get a case of White House-itis." Mr. Bush has left the party at a disadvantage in terms of communications: "He can't articulate. The only asset we have now is the big microphone, and he swallowed it."
Gulp. And yet they trod along behind him, exhibiting, in Noonan's words, "not leadership, but followership." That's the essential GOP problem. They have become so authoritarian in their mindset that, so long as he keeps fattening them up and enriching the corporate friends who feed them the lard, they will follow their leader, even off the cliff.
Analyses of John McCain's Ohio speech in which he painted a rosy, gauzy picture of the Nirvana that America would become after a single McCain term as president, are in. And the verdict is: dud. First, from the Asia Times' Jim Lobe:
In separate speeches delivered an ocean apart, the two standard bearers of the United States Republican Party on Thursday offered rosy visions of a future designed to gladden the hearts of Israel-centered neo-conservatives without offering any details about how their dreams will be achieved.
... Indeed, Thursday's speeches served to underline how powerful and durable the neo-conservative vision of the world, particularly for the Middle East, remains, at least for the Republican Party, and how likely it would be that a president McCain would "stay the course" set by Bush.
Of course Senator McCain should strive to reach his goals. But there is a surprising lack of realism to this speech — particularly given that if elected, McCain will likely confront a Congress that is more Democratic and more liberal than even the one now, and which will fight McCain on almost every front. ... and of course life is too complex, with too many variables and contingencies, to declare with any degree of confidence what America will look like in January 2013. Consider that if George W. Bush had given such a speech in May 2000, sketching out what the world would look like four years later, no mention would have been made of al-Qaeda, Afghanistan, or probably Iraq. Most of the focus would have been on domestic issues.
For all I know, the conceit of the speech might work. The approach is certainly intriguing, and even original. And it’ll probably get attention, which may be among its chief selling point. But my initial reaction is it doesn’t work, at least for me — perhaps because the speech seemed to cut against one of McCain’s more impressive qualities, which is that he is a grounded, clear-eyed, realistic man, not given to wishful thinking. [emphasis added]
And from longtime McCain aficionado Leslie Gelb, comes this less gentle critique:
"I think John McCain has been one of the most important voices on national security policy for many years now," said Leslie Gelb, a former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who described the speech as "almost in la-la land."
"It is unsupported generalizations and predictions that he would have scoffed at as the old John McCain," Gelb said.
Some blog conservatives are wondering where the panders to their side were in the speech. Says Reverse Vampyr:
Personally, I’m still waiting for him to “reach across the aisle” to conservatives!
The man who tells many wingers precisely what to think, Rush Limbaugh, had this to say on his show yesterday about the motives behind McCain's Columbus dreaming:
I think Senator McCain's going to have trouble defining who he is because he's trying to become all things to most people. He doesn't really have a consistent worldview.
He doesn't have a reasoned approach to governance, which is why he can reject national health care but embrace global warming -- and while embracing global warming, talk about ending earmarks and having tax cuts and getting rid of Big Government. "Yep, we gotta get rid of Big Government," then we're going to do the global warming plan, which is one of the fastest, surest ways to government growth to come down the pike in a while. I don't think he expects to have any coattails, either. He's not seeking to have any coattails. He's out there running on his own. The New York Times today says that McCain's guy is going to run against Bush, is going to run against Congress. Running as a maverick, running as an independent, not running as the head of a team. His entire strategy is make sure the quarterback gets protected. The rest of you guys can blow out your ACLs, but you gotta protect the quarterback.
So who originally said the now infamous quote, "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided," used by George W. Bush to, in unprecedented fashion, to attack a political opponent and fellow American on foreign soil?
It was Senator William E. Borah, Conservative/isolationist Republican out of Ohio, and an opponent of U.S. entry into World War II, and he said it in 1939.
“John McCain supports the right of the people of California to recognize marriage as a unique institution sanctioning the union between a man and a woman, just as he did in his home state of Arizona. John McCain doesn’t believe judges should be making these decisions.”
Obama's campaign also noted, in a different way, their candidate's view that states should decide. What Obama didn't say is that he's opposed to gay marriage (note the phraseology of first sentence)
Barack Obama has always believed that same-sex couples should enjoy equal rights under the law, and he will continue to fight for civil unions as President. He respects the decision of the California Supreme Court, and continues to believe that states should make their own decisions when it comes to the issue of marriage.
Pelosi said she would "encourage California citizens to respect the court’s decision, and I continue to strongly oppose any ballot measure that would write discrimination into the state constitution. Today is a significant milestone for which all Californians can take pride."
House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is the first Republican leader out with a statement, saying "this ruling effectively opens the door to allowing the opinion of this state’s court on same-sex marriage to stand as the law of the land for the entire country."
In his full statement, Blunt uses the phrase "unelected judges" twice, which is a message to the conservative base that more right-leaning judges should be nominated should John McCain be elected president.
Joe Biden makes it plain regarding President Bush's un-American conduct in Israel:
Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), piling on to Democratic complaints about President Bush’s speech in Israel today:
“This is bullshit, this is malarkey. This is outrageous, for the president of the United States to go to a foreign country, to sit in the Knesset ... and make this kind of ridiculous statement.”
Speaking before the Knesset, Bush said that “some people” believe the United States “should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along."
"We have heard this foolish delusion before," Bush said. "As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
Democrats have interpreted the comments as an attack on Sen. Barack Obama, and Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the president was out of line.
“He is the guy who has weakened us,” he said. “He has increased the number of terrorists in the world. It is his policies that have produced this vulnerability that the U.S. has. It’s his [own] intelligence community [that] has pointed this out, not me.”
Biden noted that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have both suggested that the United States ought to find a way to talk more with its enemies.
"If he thinks this is appeasement, is he going to come back and fire his own cabinet?” Biden asked. “Is he going to fire Condi Rice?”
How about firing himself? After all, Bush is the man who turned to the Iranians after 9/11 for cooperation against our mutual enemy, al-Qaida, in neighboring Afghanistan. Bush then "appeased" al-Qaida itself, by pulling American troops out of the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia (whom he constantly appeases, even though they produced 15 of the 19 hijackers who flew planes into our buildings on 9/11, and their money funds global terrorism...) giving in to one of Osama bin Laden's chief complaints. Gates and Rice have indeed advocated talking to the Iranians, and worse, Bush's Iraq policy has done more to benefit Iran than a decade of its own war with Iraq ever could. Bush has made Iran the preeminent power in the Gulf region, and by driving up oil prices, his war has enriched the Mullahs to no end.
So congratulations Mr. Bush, you're our Appeaser in Chief.
Candidates never welcome outside groups. John Kerry's campaign probably couldn't stand America Coming Together (which I worked for in 2004), and George W. Bush probably didn't appreciate the Swift Boat Veterans for ... ok, scratch that last one. The problem: outside groups, or 527s, are free to craft their own message and spend lots of money promoting it, even if that message conflicts with the strategy of the campaign. Of course, 527s can be hellafied useful, especially in doing the nasty work of negative advertising that sometimes candidates are loathe to do.
That said, I would be surprised if Barack Obama didn't face a head-on assault from right wing 527s this fall, particularly since all the big money on the GOP side appears to be holding back, not pouring into John McCain's or the House and Senate campaign committee's coffers. And yet, Obama has succeeded, at least so far, in crushing outside group efforts, directly telling his top donors, and small potential ones, too, I can tell you from direct experience, not to fund anything outside the main campaign. So far, his effort appears to have choked off the David Brock-led nascent effort, and expect others to have a hard time raising money too. Besides, the main engines behind Democratic 527s are Clintonites -- people like Emily's List founder Ellen Malcolm (who also ran ACT), Harold Ickes (our then money man). They are highly unlikely to mount a serious effort on Obama's behalf, particularly if he is already discouraging it.
Meanwhile, women's groups are staging a mass tantrum over NARAL's decision to endorse Barack. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and others are calling the national organization's decision to endorse before the end of the primary season a "betrayal." And a new group has emerged that could become a thorn in Barack's side this summer:
An Ohio-based group of Democratic Hillary Clinton supporters say they’ll work actively against Sen. Barack Obama if he becomes the nominee, arguing that Clinton has been the subject of “intense sexism” by party leaders and the media.
Led by Boomer-aged women, the group, Clinton Supporters Count Too, is holding a press conference in Columbus at noon to release this statement.
Organizers Cynthia Ruccia, 55, and Jamie Dixey, 57, both from the Columbus area, say they’re coordinating women, men, minorities, union members and others in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan – all important swing states next November – to impress upon Democratic party leaders what they think has been outright discrimination – and not of the racial kind.
“We have been vigilant against expressions of racism, and we are thrilled that the society has advanced that way” in accepting Obama as a serious candidate,” Ruccia said. “But it’s been open season on women, and we feel we need to stand up and make a statement about that, because it’s wrong.”
With growing calls for Clinton to leave the race, she said, women feel like “we’re being told to sit down, shut up, and get with the program.”
They're doing O'Reiily's show tonight, according to Ben Smith at Politico.
And meanwhile again, at least one observer is betting that the only way to appease Hillary's angry hoarde of white women over 50, will be to put her on the ticket, whether Barack Obama likes it or not... the premise: at the end of the race, Hillary will need only 19% of superdelegates to go her way at the convention, to get her way at the convention...
Can you imagine how hard it was for most of these super delegates to turn down the former president of the United States? It was tough enough turning Hillary down, but their former boss, political godfather, and personal friend? I've talked to many of them; trust me it was for most the hardest thing they have ever had to do in their political lives.
Just consider for a moment the final phone call with Bill Clinton when the super delegate had to tell him he or she had decided to go with Obama. Clinton," It's time to make a decision. Hillary needs you and I need you. We've been through a lot together. When you needed me I was there, now we need you".
Super delegate, "Mr. President, this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but I'm going with Obama because (whatever). Ask me for anything else Mr. President, but I've got to do this". Clinton, "I'm very disappointed and personally hurt, but do what you think you have to do. So long."
Now imagine its June 4th and Clinton calls again. Clinton, "I know Obama has enough votes to win, but I wanted you to know Hillary has decided to run for vice president at the convention. You know there are two roll call votes at the convention: first president then for vice president. I know you are voting for Obama for president. Fine, but I want your commitment to vote for Hillary for vice president."
You imagine being on the floor in Denver. Hillary's delegates, NEARLY HALF THE DELEGATES, are demanding she be on the ticket. These are true believers who have stuck with Clinton through thick and thin. To them, putting Hillary on the ticket is a crusade.
Most Clinton delegates are women, most Democratic voters are women, and they're going to just accept some middle aged white governor that Obama is rumored to want? No way. They are in your face. Hillary supporters from back home are jamming your Blackberry. This and more horror scenes flash through your mind in a nano second.
Then it occurs to you; if the roles were reversed and Obama came close to winning and wanted to be the vice presidential candidate, could you imagine the convention saying no?
Clinton," If we get your commitment now (we've already got a bunch of Obama super delegates to support her) we don't have to take a vote or fight in Denver. With Hillary's pledged delegates and a hundred or so super delegates we'll be over 2026 before the end of June. Saves Barack the hassle of picking a running mate and we can be united against McCain on day one."
Are you going to tell the former president of the United States no again? Anyway you convince yourself it's a great ticket and will help Obama in those big swing states. "I'm with you Mr. President". Clinton," I knew I could count on you". You want to bet there aren't 20% of the super delegates who would buy this deal? We're talking super delegates here, not profiles in courage.
If Hillary Clinton wants the vice presidential nomination, and her loyal delegates demand it, and the Clinton machine puts its full weight behind it, she will be on the
This could all mean nothing if Obama is determined enough not to pick her, and cuts a deal before Denver that gives her something she wants, in exchange for her standing down on both the nomination and the vice presidency. And it assumes she wants the vice presidency (which I think she does at this point ... and badly.)
Still, odds are he picks "some middle aged white man," and white women are left steaming.
Then, it's on Barack and Barack alone -- no 527s, remember -- to win them back.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Bush's remarks were "beneath the dignity of the office of the president and unworthy of our representation" at the celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary.
Referring to Sen. John McCain, Pelosi said: "I would hope that any serious person that aspires to lead the country, would disassociate themselves from those comments.”
As Pelosi was speaking, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel issued a statement in which he said: "The tradition has always been that when a U.S. president is overseas, partisan politics stops at the water's edge. President Bush has now taken that principle and turned it on its head: for this White House, partisan politics now begins at the water’s edge, no matter the seriousness and gravity of the occasion. Does the president have no shame?”
Speaking of the "promise of God" for a "homeland for the chosen people" in Israel, Bush told the Israeli parliament after a visit to the Roman-era Jewish fortress at Masada: "Masada shall never fall again, and America will always stand with you."
He predicted the defeat of Islamist enemies Hamas, Hezbollah and al Qaeda in a "battle of good and evil". ...
... Of the Palestinians, half of whom were pushed into exile to make way for the Jewish state, Bush said that, looking ahead another 60 years in the future, "the Palestinian people will have the homeland they have long dreamed of and deserved".
"SLAP IN THE FACE"
The president's language in Israel has dismayed Palestinians looking for the U.S. superpower to mediate in their negotiations with Israel. Islamist Hamas, which spurns such talks, said Bush sounded "like a priest or a rabbi" and had delivered a "slap in the face" to those Palestinians who placed their hopes in him.
... In a speech marking what Palestinians call the "Nakba", or catastrophe, when some 700,000 Arabs fled or were forced from their homes during Israel's foundation, President Mahmoud Abbas said: "Isn't it time for Israel to respond to the call of a just and comprehensive peace and achieve historic reconciliation between the two peoples on this sacred and tortured land?"
But Palestinian political analyst Ali Jarbawi said Bush's rhetoric showed Washington was not being an honest broker: "He is not talking about a two-state solution. He is talking about a state of leftovers for the Palestinians," Jarbawi said.
Declaring that "the era of the permanent campaign would be over and the era of problem solving would begin" if he were the president, John McCain gave a deadly boring ... sorry, meaty, substantive speech this morning, promising Americans everything from a chicken in every pot to a Democrat in every cabinet position.
McCain said that upon becoming president, he would indeed put Democrats into his administration, win the Iraq war in four years, channel Tony Blair or Gordon Brown in Prime Minister's Questions sessions with Congress, only he wouldn't be the prime minister ... restore the Constitutional presidency and end terrorism as we know it. (No word on poverty, want or sin...) Saint John would end America's practice of seeing the other political party as an enemy, rather than a compatriot, and inspire every young person to make volunteerism, not bling, their life's dream. Because He IS, upon ascension to the White House, he would cause Republicans and Democrats to lie down together like lambs (which would take much less of a toll on Senator Craig's stance,) and to dine and drink together after each long day on Capitol Hill. Thus would he render all human conflict and suffering obsolete, with a wave of his mighty arms ... okay, maybe not a wave, so much as a grimace...
And he would do all of that, as soon as he's finished convincing voters that Barack Obama is the candidate of Hamas ...
Summary: A New York Times article detailed the connection between numerous media military analysts and the Pentagon and defense industries, reporting that "the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform" media military analysts "into a kind of media Trojan horse -- an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks." A Media Matters review found that since January 1, 2002, the analysts named in the Times article -- many identified as having ties to the defense industry -- collectively appeared or were quoted as experts more than 4,500 times on ABC, ABC News Now, CBS, CBS Radio Network, NBC, CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, and NPR.
George W. Bush thinks it appropriate to accuse a fellow American of appeasing Iran while on foreign soil. But he and his friends also thought it appropriate to put a foreign national on the U.S. payroll for years to supply them with false intelligence on Iraq, all the while apparently blissfully unaware that their payee was spying for Iran. (At least we hope they were unaware...) Now, the neocon darling Ahmad Chalabi has, at long last, been cut off:
Sources in Baghdad tell NBC News that as of this week American military and civilian officials have cut off all contact with controversial Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi, the former favorite of Washington's once powerful neoconservatives.
The reason, the sources say, is "unauthorized" contacts with Iran's government, an allegation Chalabi denies. Iran has been accused of arming and training rebel Shiite forces in Iraq.
Only this week? What the hell have you idiots been doing all this time???
Since the invasion, reports of Chalabi's ties to Iran and his contacts with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have at times been sore spots. The FBI once sought to interview him, sources say, about allegations that secret U.S. codes had been passed to Iran.
Since September 2007, however, American military officials and civilian officials working out of the U.S. Embassy had contacts with Chalabi. At that time he was installed as the head of a "services" committee for Baghdad that was to coordinate the restoration of services to the city's residents.
Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the Multi-National Forces-Iraq, even escorted Chalabi on a trip, on U.S. helicopters, to address reconstruction issues. And American officials attended meetings with him and supported his efforts.
That contact and all support has ended as of this week, American officials tell NBC News. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.
The U.S. Embassy had no comment, and a spokesman for the multinational force said any questions "related to Dr. Chalabi and his duties and status" should be addressed to the Iraqi government.
At noon, the Senate quickly “devolved into a procedural mess” when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) attempted to attach Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) watered-down GI Bill — which is strongly backed by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — as an amendment. McConnell also immediately seconded his measure, but then filed cloture, “prohibiting Democrats from filing their own version of the proposal.”
This amendment is a poison pill. It not only kills the Public Safety bill, but also blocks Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) more generous GI Bill from being considered. In one swift maneuver, conservatives trampled over first responders and veterans. In a fiery speech, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) responded on the floor:
We have seen this parliamentary gimmick that has taken place offered by the Republican leadership that is a slap in the face to every firefighter and police officer and first responder in the country. […]
We’re saying to the firefighters of this nation and to the police officers of this nation and the first responders of the nation: Your interest, the safety and security of our communities across the nation, should be put aside in favor of some political gimmick by the Republican leader here in the United States Senate.
Way to support the troops, boys. Of course, John McCain's little buddy, Miss Lindsey, has offered her own, watered down G.I. bill, and McCain's emissaries have begun scampering around Jim Webb's ankles looking for an embarrassment-avoiding compromise. Here's hoping Webb and the Dems (and their Republican supporters on the bi-partisan bill) stand strong. Don's we at least owe the men and women George sent to their doom in Iraq a decent G.I. bill?
George W. Bush and the politicization of absolutely everything
Never in American history have we seen a sitting U.S. president go onto foreign soil and knee-cap a fellow American ... a sitting U.S. Senator, who could follow him into the presidency, at that. Then again, we've never had a president quite like George W. Bush. Speaking before Israel's Knesset today, Bush, having arrived in Israel this week to the tune of rocket fire, took a nakedly political swipe at Senator Barack Obama, essentially comparing his fellow American to an appeaser of Hitler:
JERUSALEM (CNN) – In a particularly sharp blast from halfway around the world, President Bush suggested Thursday that Sen. Barack Obama and other Democrats are in favor of "appeasement" of terrorists in the same way U.S. leaders appeased Nazis in the run-up to World War II.
"Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," said Bush, in what White House aides privately acknowledged was a reference to calls by Obama and other Democrats for the U.S. president to sit down for talks with leaders like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"We have heard this foolish delusion before," Bush said in remarks to the Israeli Knesset. "As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American Senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
Full transcript here. Obama's communication team wasted no time firing back:
“Obviously this is an unprecedented political attack on foreign soil,” Obama Communications Director Robert Gibbs told CNN’s John Roberts on American Morning Thursday, adding that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had been quoted Wednesday making remarks about dialogue with Iran that were similar to the Illinois senator's.
“Let's not confuse precondition with preparation,” said Gibbs of any talks with Iran. “Obviously these meetings would be full of preparation. But we're not going to sit down and engage Iran, unless or until they give up their nuclear weapons program.
“It is unfortunate that an American president would fly halfway across the world and make a political attack instead of honoring the tremendous accomplishment and achievement of the 60th anniversary of the birth of Israel,” he added.
Obama's camp also released a statement, amplifying the point:
It is "sad" that Bush would use Israel's 60th anniversary "to launch a false political attack. George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists."
Meanwhile, the White House issues a rather flimsy denial that Bush's comments were directed at Obama:
"It is not," press secretary Dana Perino told reporters in Israel. "I would think that all of you who cover these issues and have for a long time have known that there are many who have suggested these types of negotiations with people that the president, President Bush, thinks that we should not talk to. I understand when you're running for office you sometimes think the world revolves around you. That is not always true. And it is not true in this case."
No thank you note yet from the McCain campaign for his buddy George's "help" with the Jewish vote. No reaction, either, from Reagan's ongoing dialogue with the Soviets or Nixon's visit to China.
Here's the long-awaited two-shot. Call it the "reverse Miami Vice" ticket, the "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" ticket (h/t to Chris Matthews) or the Abercrombie & Fitch ticket, but some campaign watchers, including my husband Jason, are calling it the future Democratic ticket. I still rank Edwards fourth, behind Chuck Hagel, Jim Webb and Tedd Strickland, but here's the MSNBC write-up on Edwards' equally long-awaited endorsement of Barack Obama. (P.S.: NARAL endorsed Barack today, too.)
Wow. If you TiVo'd "Hardball" tonight, skip the 5 p.m. and version and green dot the 7:00. I just watched the most stunning ten minutes of that program that I think I have ever seen. It was a conversation between Chris Matthews, Andrea Mitchell, who has been covering the Clinton campaign, and our old friend Patrick Buchanan, author of the excellent book, "Where the Right Went Wrong," and a man who, while very bright, can loosely be said to be an unofficial captain of the white power movement. Buchanan was in such a lather over what he called put-downs of West Virginia voters on the MSNBC set, "calling them dumb and uneducated, poor, and racist," I thought his head was going to explode. He then went into a jeremiad about why the pundits don't say that Blacks who give Barack Obama 92 percent of their votes are bad people. "Maybe they said, he's one of them, and maybe the people of West Virginia said she's (meaning Hillary Clinton,) one of US." The use of "us" was a telling slip.
Chris then impressed me, trying to gently explain to Pat that given this country's 400 years of history on race, where we've had only three Blacks elected to the Senate and just a handful of governors, "and that's it," while whites have been "running everything," it's quite a different thing for Blacks to vote for someone who looks like them who could be president, then for white voters in West Virginia to "volunteer to a total stranger that race played a part in their vote."
The clincher was Matthews describing the more colorblind world his kids live in, where they have teachers, friends, and even romantic interests who are Black, "and they don't even think about it," and he said he wanted to see America become that world. Then he pointedly asked Pat, "do YOU want to see that world?" When Pat failed to answer, he asked him AGAIN. Pat stumbled out something about Martin Luther King's dream, and went right back into his red-faced rant about how poor West Virginia white folk "haven't been running anything."
My revised list of Obama veep picks, in order of favorityness:
Chuck Hagel - still the one, as far as I'm concerned. He brings instant bipartisanship, and cross-over appeal. Could he also bring Nebraska? It depends on how pro- or anti-war that state is.
Jim Webb - I still put him at number two, because he has the national security street cred, military macho chips, and potential to deliver his state (VA) that Obama could really use.
Ted Strickland - As I said before: Ohio, Ohio, Ohio.
John Edwards - If the visuals on his Obama endorsement are compelling enough, there could be a drumbeat to draft the former veep candidate once again. He couldn't deliver his home state (South Carolina) or the state he represented in Congress (North Carolina), for John Kerry in 2004, but this isn't 2004, and Barack Obama isn't John Kerry. His big win in NC, and the incredible turnout, particularly among African-Americans, is making that state look a lot more "swing," and beyond that state, Edwards could give Barack overall strength with white men. No small thing: his endorsement today puts him back on the list, big time.
Bob Casey - Better than Ed Rendell in some ways, because he's younger, and he's actually been an Obama pal. His family is legendary in PA, so he could help keep the state in the D column, if the Obama team is worried about it.
Roy Romer - something of a longshot, but Colorado's former three-term governor has a lot to bring to the table. He's a Clinton loyalist, who recently declared her candidacy dead, nonetheless. He was born in Kansas, like Barack's mom, and he ran the school system in L.A., which will make him familiar to Cali fundraisers. If he could put Colorado in the Dem camp, he's of great value.
Off the list: Janet Napolitano. No sense gambling on trying to grab Arizona.
Possible also-ran: Claire McCaskill. She has been loyal to Barack, and is the potential female running mate candidate with the most oomph. That said, I think Barack needs a man. Preferably a melanin-challenged one, if you know what I mean.
Does it still matter that at long last, John Edwards is endorsing Barack Obama? Not as much as it would have before North Carolina (or hell, West Virginia, where Edwards got 7 percent of the vote, and where the possibility of campaigning together around the state might have enticed Barack to spend some time and money...) but it doesn't not matter either. In the wake of Obama's rejection by hard-working white Americans (the new, colorful term for racist Appalachian rusticators...) having a good ole' boy in his corner can't hurt.
The endorsement matters in three other ways as well.
- First, it puts the slap to Hillary's claim that her big win in West Virginia is a game changer that will make superdelegates sit up and take notice. They've taken notice, and one of the biggest remaining players has chosen her opponent. And it throws ice cold water all over her "big win."
- It also sends a strong signal to Edwards' natural demographics: union workers, lower middle class whites and southerners, that despite the results in West Virginia, Obama is a.o.k. That could be helpful in Kentucky, and if Obama's numbers improve there, it will put Edwards in a good position with the candidate (just in case he's interested in having a working relationship.)
- Third, Edwards' timing is actually pretty good (assuming it's his timing, and not joint timing with the campaign, which could very well be the case.) He jumps smack dab into the news cycle at the same time most news organizations are busy yanking Hillary's press details, downshifting from the horse race coverage and downplaying the WV effect on this now largely concluded campaign. That means Edwards will get ink for days. Also good for him, good for Obama.
And you've got to figure he took a beating from Elizabeth to get this one to happen, because you KNOW she's a Hillary girl. So you go, John, with your cute self. Way to keep the dream of that reverse Miami Vice ticket alive! Watch for those two-shots. They'll be all over the web tomorrow.
West Virginia has achieved a great feat: they have stolen Western Pennsylvania's identity as Alabama Plus Philly, by just being Alabama. They have slapped the label "racists R us" on their state flag, and gone out in a blaze of primary glory by frightening impresionable 20-something Obama volunteers with the individual displays of ignorance we've heard about from your mountaineers (Indiana has done their share, too.)
So West Virginia, I ask you:
What are the chances that when those 20-something college students grow up, graduate from college and go out into corporate America, they will be the least bit interested in returning to your state to start business, create jobs, or make a life for themselves that could lift your state economically, the way many rehabilitated southern states (think Tennessee, North Carolina, even South Carolina and Georgia) have done?
How much money do you think the Obama campaign will spend in your state during the general campaign, pumping much-needed advertising dollars into your television stations and newspapers? Note to you: Obama has probably written you off. Hence, the paltry time he spent in your state before, or after the primary. And the media have written you off too, as one of those old fashioned bastions of recalcitrant racism that really don't matter in the fall because they always vote Republican.
And how do you attract tourism to your arguably beautiful state, with its breathtaking mountain vistas, when you now are thought of by affluent, college educated blue staters as something akin to Birmingham or Memphis, circa 1960? I can tell you that placed like Birmingham and Memphis are tourist destinations I would put on my list today, and my former state of Colorado, which once was rampant with Klan activity, is a great destination for travelers of all races. Your state? Not so much.
So enjoy your brush with Hillary's non-existent destiny, West Virginia. I'm not saying you had to go Obama, but the way you went out? Not pretty. Indiana will escape your fate because it showed itself to have a pretty even balance of ideologies. Same with North Carolina, and even Pennsylvania, which apparently, if you believe Pat Buchanan, is the new headquarters of the white power movement. See, Pennsylvania has the Liberty Bell.
CBN reporter David Brody analyzes Barack Obama's religious pitch, and how it could broaden his appeal among "faith voters."
Kentucky, he is making a direct appeal to Evangelicals with flyers that mention his conversion experience and they highlight a big old cross. Remember Mike Huckabee’s supposed subliminal cross in his Christmas campaign ad? Well, the Obama campaign ditches the subliminal and goes for the in your face cross. Look at the flyer here.
The Obama campaign has consistently believed that their candidate can compete for the “religious vote”. A lot has been made about how Obama hasn’t done as well with Catholics compared to Clinton. But let’s remember one thing: Obama has a story to tell about how Jesus came into his life. You can bet we will be hearing more details about it on the stump in the fall. (if Obama is the nominee)
Meanwhile, John McCain won’t be partaking in the “Evangelical speak” or handing out these types of flyers in the south which makes you wonder if Huckabee could help McCain shore up the Evangelical base and at the same time play to the Independent middle with his populist streak.
I know the conservative policy purists will say that Obama is liberal and therefore Evangelicals won’t buy his “Evangelical speak”. Not so fast. Remember, many people vote based on an emotional connection to a candidate or if they can relate to that person. Obama may need to work on this perception that he is “elite” but when he talks about Jesus and the Bible and the fact that he’s a sinner, it makes him more real and in the process, more electable too.
Brody also has a pic of the Obama flyer.
This comes at a time when young evangelicals are abandoning the Republican Party in droves, over issues ranging from the war to poverty and AIDS. Younger Christians, and some older ones, too, are rediscovering the Book of Matthew, and Jesus' admonition to feed the poor, clothe the naked, and take care of one another (I guess they missed the part about get thou riches and Caesar shall cut thy taxes...) These are prime Obama voters, and he is bringing them into the fold.
The stories I've read and heard anecdotally about young, eager college students getting the cold water of racism thrown over their heads in West Virginia, Indiana and Pennsylvania as they campaigned for Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton's race baiting comments about "hard working white Americans," plus WV's 2 in 10 who "voted white" yesterday, can really get you feeling down about the state of race relations in this country. But sometimes, a story turns your frown around. Like the one about the white valedictorian of Morehouse College:
From his first day at Morehouse College — the country's only institution of higher learning dedicated to the education of black men — Joshua Packwood has been a standout.
His popularity got him elected dorm president as a freshman. His looks and physique made him a fashion-show favorite. His intellect made him a Rhodes Scholar finalist. His work ethic landed him a job at the prestigious investment banking firm Goldman Sachs in New York City.
But it's his skin that has made all of this an anomaly. This month, Packwood is set to take the stage and address his classmates as the first white valedictorian in Morehouse's 141-year history.
The 22-year-old from Kansas City, Mo., will graduate Sunday with a perfect 4.0 GPA and a degree in economics.
He could have gone elsewhere, to a school like Columbia, Stanford or Yale, but his four-year journey through Morehouse has taught him a few things that they could not, and he makes it clear that he has no regrets.
"I've been forced to see the world in a different perspective, that I don't think I could've gotten anywhere else," he said. "None of the Ivies, no matter how large their enrollment is, no matter how many Nobel laureates they have on their faculty ... none of them could've provided me with the perspective I have now."
When Packwood applied to Morehouse, he had frequent conversations with George Gray, an alumnus who was a recruiter at the school. Gray was impressed by Packwood's credentials and spent months trying to talk the sought-after senior into choosing Morehouse over other elite schools.
"He had outstanding numbers," said Gray, now director of admissions at historically black Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark. "He was the kind of kid we were looking for to be a presidential scholar."
After several conversations, Packwood began to suspect that Gray had no idea that he was white. His suspicions were confirmed when one of Gray's calls caught Packwood in the middle of track practice.
"Don't let the white kids walk you down," Gray quipped.
"The challenge was to get the best student that we could, and Josh definitely fit that," Gray said.
And for Packwood, knowing that he had been picked on his merits, and not as a token white recruit, made the difference. ...
Yes we can.
And he's cute, too!
Packwood was on the Tom Joyner Morning Show this morning and was very impressive. He'll do well at Goldman Sachs, and in life. Way to go, Brother Josh. And don't let the haters (check the comments in this story) walk you down.
Not forcing you to watch Hillary Clinton's speech again (assuming you did the first time around), but you've got to check it out for just a few minutes. When you do, watch the guy in the yellow shirt on the bottom right corner of your screen. You can't miss him. He's about the only Black guy in West Virginia the room. Maybe it's me, but does he look ... kind of high? He keeps rocking back and forward, and at one point, starts yelling Barack Obama's campaign theme ("yes we can! Yes we can!) And sorry, but he just looks out of place among Hillary's demographic of hard working white Americans. I'm thinking somebody on the advance team spotted this guy in the building, and gave him $20 bucks to stand within camera shot of Mrs. Clinton. Watch for yourself:
Tic tac toe, three in a row. The Republicans have lost a once-solid House seat, no, not Denny Hastert's seat in Illinois ... nope, not the seat the GOP just gave up in Louisiana ... the special election in Mississippi's 1st District, between Republican incumbent Greg Davis and Democrat Travis Childers, which appears to have gone D as well.
JACKSON, Miss. - Democrat Travis Childers wins a U.S. House seat in Mississippi's deeply Republican 1st Congressional District.
Childers defeated Republican Greg Davis in a special election to fill the final few months of a two-year term in Congress. The seat was vacated when Roger Wicker was appointed to the U.S. Senate after Trent Lott resigned.
The win allows Democrats to add to their 235-199 majority in Congress — if only for a few months until November's general elections.
The Republicans, proving they have learned nothing from the 2 previous losses, have tried to paint Childers with the "liberal" tag, and emphasized his association with Barack Obama. This same tactic failed in Louisiana last month where another conservative, pro-life, pro-gun, Democrat won a seat that was thought to be one of the safest in the country for Republicans.
Those tried and true Republican methods which have worked so well in the past aren’t flying this year, in what some have called the year of the centrist. Even Newt Gingrich has warned Republicans that if they don’t change their tactics they face a catastrophic defeat in November. But old habits die hard.
Childers has taken a page from Tip O’Neill’s playbook that all politics is local, and has focused his efforts on issues that affect the mostly rural district of northern Mississippi. Childers won 49% of the vote in the first round of voting and missed an outright victory by a little over 400 votes, so his strategy is apparently working. Davis, on the other hand, turned off many voters with his harshly negative primary campaign against another Republican.
While there is racism present to varying levels in every state, what makes WV different is that there is not a presence of a large AA community who will enthusiastically balance out that vote like there are in other states. Add to it that WV is a Hillary Clinton kind of state- lots of blue-collar union types who are comfortable working with and voting the party machine. As the Clinton’s are an established name, the Clinton’s are viewed as the party candidate.
Again, I am not claiming a refusal to vote for Obama makes one racist. I am claiming that, in WV, at least, there will be a number of people who refuse to vote for him because they are in fact racist. That isn’t a smear, that is just the truth. If you can not deal with it, well, that is on you. It is also why people like me have been frequently upset throughout this campaign when we have seen what we perceive to be dogwhistles coming from the Clinton camp. Whipping up this sort of sentiment is, in my book, inexcusable.
So there was Hillary tonight, giving a defiant speech and insisting that, with certain niceties toward Obama, she's going on and going forward (Terry McAuliffe nearly burst a blood vessel arguing with Chris Matthews on this point, with Matthews trying to get him to understand that the media doesn't want her to quit, the media wants a contested convention...)
BTW, apparently, Hillary didn't take Barack's concession phone call tonight. He left a message.
PODUNKAVILLE, WV. -- Conservative parents across the U.S. began demanding that their schools immediately stop teaching science, after it was revealed that Nobel prize winning scientist, the late Albert Einstein, didn't quite believe in God. A letter revealing Einstein's disdain for the Suprme Being, whom Einstein derisively called "nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses," and for the Bible, which Einstein called "a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish," was published in the Guardian newspaper this week, subjecting the newspaper's publishers to eternal damnation in the fiery pit of Hell. The letter is to be sold at auction in Great Britain on Tuesday. The buyer is widely expected to be struck dead by a bolt of lightning on the spot.
"This confirms that Einstein was a Democrat," said former Congressman Tom Delay, on his way to a court hearing.
"I liked it when he stuck his tongue out," added a heavy-breathing and still not-retired Senator Larry Craig, adding, "even though I'm not gay."
As for Einstein himself, "I'm sure he's enjoying his barbecue ... burnt up special for him by the Devil!" said hard-working, white American parent Wanda Kleghorn, on her way to vote in West Virginia. "That just goes to show why I keep my children away from all that sinful book learnin'. Besides, he ain't even a real American. Look at his fuzzy hair ... and his name sounds like Saddam Hussein." Reminded that the discussion was about Albert Einstein, Mrs. Kleghorn, who volunteered that she usually votes Republican but intended to vote for Hillary Clinton this time, added, "Einstein, Obama, what the hell's the difference. Neither one of 'em wears a flag pin."
Einstein's letter, in which he also denied that Jews are the "chosen people," drew a strong rebuke from Republican-leaning Independent Senator Joe Lieberman.
"I think this shows why John McCain needs to be our next president," Lieberman said. "We have to send a message to whatever country Einstein was a citizen of, that we will bomb them into the stone age if they continue to produce dead scientists who threaten Israel." Informed that Einstein became a U.S. citizen in 1940, that before that, he was a Swiss citizen, and that he was once offered the presidency of Israel and turned it down, Lieberman said he intended to introduce legislation declaring both the U.S. and Switzerland to be state sponsors of terror, and that he would strongly encourage McCain to begin bombing immediately upon taking office. Lieberman added that he hoped his legislation wouldn't jeopardize his seniority in the Senate, which majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada noted would require a literal act of God -- with lightning and everything -- to make Democrats take it away. Reid insisted the party would never stand up to Lieberman, even if he were to host the upcoming Republican convention at his own home.
Added Sen. Reid, "luckily for us, Albert Einstein said there is no God, so there's no danger of that."
Copyright 2008, The Reid Report
Update: Just in case, allow me to point out that the above is satire, and not a real news story. Cheers. |
Is West Virginia the dumbest state? Enquiring minds want to know...
My new homies at Constructive Anarchy answer the question of the week... (pictures included...) Meanwhile, as West Virginia's Mountaineers prepare to head to the polls to put down the rebellion by that skinny colored feller and his pointy-headed carpetbagger friends, and restore the South to her eternal glory, the world (sort of) watches and waits (okay, they're mostly watching and waiting on Barack Obama, since the primary is over for all intents and purposes and West Virginia doesn't matter...) but anyway, the state that was home to the first land battle of the Civil War (and the first Union death,) Harper's Ferry and King Coal, will soon show the world (those who actually give a crap, or who, like our dear pundit contrarian Rachel Maddow, insist that other people give a crap) what they're made of.
Need some West Virginia trivia to brighten your day? Here 'tis. And here's some political trivia, too. Would you believe Michael Dukakis won the state in 1988?
MSNBC has been running the clips of "Saturday Night Live's" skewering of Hillary Clinton this weekend, and once again, the show is being credited by the MSM with being on the cutting edge of political satire. Well, while I found this week's opener to be both funny and on point, I'm having a hard time giving SNL much credit for "edge." I mean, how much courage does it take to suck up to the Senator from your home state when she's still viable, and then to kick her when she's already clearly on the ground? It's like kicking an unconscious guy that somebody else knocked out. SNL was conveniently on hiatus for at least the last three weeks -- the crucial weeks during which the remaining air seeped out of Hillary's campaign balloon. So after sitting out everything from the NC, Indiana skids to the race-baiting USA Today comments, SNL snarks that ... surprise! ... Hillary is losing ugly? Well knock me out with a bowling ball...
BTW, in other SNL news, Jimmy Fallon is moving up to the big boy chair, taking over the desk at "Late Night," next year when Conan O'Brien gets the daddy seat: "The Tonight Show." I watch none of them, but don't go by me...
... that Haitians in the U.S. today shouldn't be granted "temporary protected status," particularly given what we're learning about the state of U.S. detention policy and healthcare for the immigrants who are stuck in it. If Haiti doesn't qualify for TPS, which is meant to stop people from being deported to countries utterly destabilized by politics or natural disaster, I'm not sure what country does. The Chicago Tribune editorial board weighs in today.
Picking up from the previous post, here's how I'd rank my top five picks for Obama v.p., in order:
Chuck Hagel - This is my very own "dream ticket." And Barack shouldn't ask him to switch parties. The better to show his bi-partisanship, and scoop up some disaffected Republicans voters.
Jim Webb - Strong military cred, great surrogate, and he's a former Reagan guy.
Joe Biden - Best one liners in politics, and he's got foreign policy experience that makes John McCain look like a preschooler. They'd have to assign a mouth minder, though...
Ted Strickland - Ohio, Ohio, Ohio...
Janet Napolitano - She could help with women, and she'd force McCain to spend big in his home state, during a race where he's almost sure to be at a cash disadvantage. AZ is also situated out West, so she could help in Colorado and New Mexico, too.
Honorable mention: Mark Warner - he was immensely popular in VA, and was often talked about as a possible presidential candidate in his own right. Squeaky clean, and conservative on things like guns and gay marriage. Could help with the Hilbots.
John McCain has spent today angering the GOP base by getting all hopped up about global warming (psst! You know why he likes the issue? Because it's scaaaary... John McCain loves scaaaary...) Never mind that he missed every relevant vote on environmental issues this year and his legislative record on the environment reads more like a job application to Texaco. But McCain's other triangulation could be the one yet to come, when he chooses his vice presidential running mate.
Lately, I've been seeing a lot of a certain fired computer executive acting as a McCain surrogate on the TV, and it makes me wonder, could McCain float Carly Fiorina, the 54-year-old former Hewlett Packard president, as his running mate? It would certainly be e clever gambit to snatch the Hillbots away, before they get the chance to get used to Barack Obama. And Fiorina, in addition to being a southerner (from Texas and North Carolina) who lets him play the white woman card, could shore up McCain's shoddy credentials on the economy, providing him with the requisite "person who has run a business," without forcing him to pretend he can stand Mitt Romney. Plus, Fiorina gives him a woman that could help his lack of love from Wall Street, while providing him, and his decrepit Old White Guy party with diversity that isn't tied to the Bush administration's legion of failures (sorry, Condi.)
On the downside, Fiorina was ultimately a flop at HP, presiding over the failed merger with Compaq and riding the share price down to the point where her board cried uncle ... er ... auntie. And she did say once, that "There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore. We have to compete for jobs as a nation," which won't look good in a campaign ad (she said it in 2004, about a year before she found out that there was no CEO job at HP that was her God-given right...) And she was an aggressive proponent of outsourcing American jobs, which she cleverly labeled "rightsourcing." She did live in Califnornia when she was running HP, but that doesn't mean the people there like her much. (See 7,000 jobs, above.)
It's a thought, and one Team Obama should take seriously.
Meanwhile, the HuffPo has a good laundry list of possible Obama picks. I'd bump Chuck Hagel up on the list. If I could wave a magic wand and pick someone for Barack, Hagel would be the man. And the Huff left two big names of the list, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, and current Ohio guv Ted Strickland.
Left wing talk radio is buzzing about the Bill O'Reilly vintage rant from his "Inside Edition" days. Apparently a teleprompter really can bring you down... but on the Youtube, CBS Entertainment (probably with a little help from a new O'Reilly rant, followed by insane threats and stalking) has ordered the offending clip pulled down. Well, we found one enterprising webpreneur (Break the Matrix) who's still got it:
Watch, and enjoy, but also remember: this guy is free, unsupervised, and unmedicated...
Like most people in Mingo County, West Virginia, Leonard Simpson is a lifelong Democrat. But given a choice between Barack Obama and John McCain in November, the 67-year-old retired coalminer would vote Republican.
“I heard that Obama is a Muslim and his wife’s an atheist,” said Mr Simpson, drawing on a cigarette outside the fire station in Williamson, a coalmining town of 3,400 people surrounded by lush wooded hillsides...
I swear, this isn't a parody...
...Occupying a swathe of the Appalachian Mountains on the threshold between the Bible Belt and the Rust Belt, West Virginia is a swing state that voted twice for George W. Bush but backed Democrats in six of the eight prior presidential elections.
No Democrat has been elected to the White House without carrying West Virginia since 1916, yet Mr Obama appears to have little chance of winning there in November. Recent opinion polls indicate that Mrs Clinton would narrowly beat Mr McCain in the state but Mr Obama would lose by nearly 20 percentage points.
West Virginia is hostile territory for Mr Obama because it has few of the African-Americans and affluent, college-educated whites who provide his strongest support. The state has the lowest college graduation rate in the US, the second lowest median household income, and one of the highest proportions of white residents, at 96 per cent.
A visit to Mingo County, a Democratic stronghold in the heart of the Appalachian coalfields, reveals the scale of Mr Obama’s challenge – not only in West Virginia but in white, working-class communities across the US. With a gun shop on its main street and churches dotted throughout the town, Williamson is the kind of community evoked by Mr Obama’s controversial comments last month about “bitter” small-town voters who “cling to guns or religion”.
“If he is the nominee, the Democrats have no chance of winning West Virginia,” said Missy Endicott, a 40- year-old school administrator. “He doesn’t understand ordinary Americans.”
Ms Endicott was among roughly 500 people who crammed into the Williamson Fire Department building on Friday to attend a rally by Bill Clinton, the former president. He told them his wife represented “people like you, in places like this”, and urged voters to turn out in record numbers on Tuesday to send a message to the “higher-type people” who were trying to force her out of the race.
Ok, just one more piece, and then I'll stop, I swear:
Most people questioned said they mistrusted Mr Obama because of doubts about his patriotism and “values”, stemming from his cosmopolitan background, his exotic name and the controversy surrounding “anti-American” sermons by Jeremiah Wright, his former pastor. Several people said they believed he was a Muslim – an unfounded rumour that has circulated on the internet for months – despite the contradiction with his 20-year membership of Mr Wright’s church in Chicago. Others mentioned his refusal to wear a Stars and Stripes badge and controversial remarks by his wife, Michelle, who described America as “mean” and implied that she had never been proud of the US until her husband ran for president.
Conservative commentators have questioned Mr Obama’s patriotism for months and the issue is expected to be one of the Republicans’ main lines of attack if he wins the nomination. “The American people want a president who loves their country as much as they do,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist. Obama supporters believe patriotism is being used as code to harness racist sentiment.
Josh Fry, a 24-year-old ambulance driver from Williamson, insisted he was not racist but said he would feel more comfortable with Mr McCain, the 71-year-old Vietnam war hero, in the White House. “I want someone who is a full-blooded American as president,” he said.
Nobody tell Josh that McCain was born in Panama ... the mental disconnect could kill him...
The sad thing is, Hillary and Bill Clinton have spent the latter half of the campaign stoking the ignorance of people like these, Hillary's "hard working white people," because they know that racism works, especially in places where the educational system isn't putting up much of a fight. I feel sorry for the West Virginians who are being tainted by the ignoramuses among them, but we're about to find out if this country is made mostly of the ignorant, or mostly of the evolved. And if Barack Obama loses the general election because of people like the ones quoted in this article, then they will richly deserve the four more years of Bush-league government they get.
You may have read the accounts about the tendency of "Saturday Night Live" producers to be pro-Hillary, as evidenced by donations to her campaign, and several skits portraying Obama as either media pampered or freaked out and incompetent. The candidate herself seemed to enjoy a kinship with the SNL cast, even appearing on the show alongside Amy Poehler, the actress who portrays her. Any bias (which the show's staffers vigorously denied,) could stem from the fact that the show originates from New York City -- purportedly Hillary's home base (if you're not counting Scranton, Chappaqua, Arkansas, Illinois and Washington D.C.) Well for now, the debate is moot, because it appears that SNL has jumped way off the bandwagon (or the producers are trying to prove they're really not HilBots...) This week's opening skit, the first in a while since SNL has been conveniently in hiatus as the news cycle turned grim for Senator Clinton, was what you call and old fashioned skewering. Cliffs Notes version: "I'm Hillary Clinton; I'm a sore loser and my supporters are racists." Watch:
Let's see if this gets any traction in the McCain-loving media. A line item -- not a headline -- in today's Washington Post:
PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- Sen. John McCain championed legislation that will let an Arizona rancher trade remote grassland and ponderosa pine forest here for acres of valuable federally owned property that is ready for development, a land swap that now stands to directly benefit one of his top presidential campaign fundraisers].
Initially reluctant to support the swap, the Arizona Republican became a key figure in pushing the deal through Congress after the rancher and his partners hired lobbyists that included McCain's 1992 Senate campaign manager, two of his former Senate staff members (one of whom has returned as his chief of staff), and an Arizona insider who was a major McCain donor and is now bundling campaign checks.
When McCain's legislation passed in November 2005, the ranch owner gave the job of building as many as 12,000 homes to SunCor Development, a firm in Tempe, Ariz., run by Steven A. Betts, a longtime McCain supporter who has raised more than $100,000 for the presumptive Republican nominee. Betts said he and McCain never discussed the deal.
The Audubon Society described the exchange as the largest in Arizona history. The swap involved more than 55,000 acres of land in all, including rare expanses of desert woodland and pronghorn antelope habitat. The deal had support from many local officials and the Arizona Republic newspaper for its expansion of the Prescott National Forest. But it brought an outcry from some Arizona environmentalists when it was proposed in 2002, partly because it went through Congress rather than a process that allowed more citizen input.
Although the bill called for the two parcels to be of equal value, a federal forestry official told a congressional committee that he was concerned that "the public would not receive fair value" for its land. A formal appraisal has not yet begun. A town official opposed to the swap said other Yavapai Ranch land sold nine years ago for about $2,000 per acre, while some of the prime commercial land near a parcel that the developers will get has brought as much as $120,000 per acre. ...
Say it over and over again: John McCain is better than other politicians .. John McCain is better than other politicans ... John McCain is better than other politicans ...
The Daily Kos posts an excellent summary of the backlash building online against Hillary's comments, summed up brilliantly by Mike Barnacle in what could be Hil's new campaign slogan: "Vote White." But one question that's not being asked, at least so far, is where are Hillary's black supporters, particularly the elected officials, on this issue? So far, I haven't heard a peep.
That one's developing...
But I also wonder whether Hillary's comments will be put through the same media wringer that Rev. Wright's sermon snippets were fed into. Will the MSM react with the same obsessive-compulsive zeal, when this time, it isn't someone the candidate knows, but the candidate herself, who has uttered the unpleasant words? I remain prepared to be pleasantly surprised.
Who, exactly, are the Hillocrats, half of whom said in the exit polls from North Carolina and Indiana that, if she loses the nomination, they will stay home or vote for McCain?
They are white, working- and middle-class, Catholic, small-town, rural, unionized, middle-age and seniors, and surviving on less than $50,000 a year. They are the people most belittled by the condescending commentary of Barack behind closed doors out at Sodom on the Bay.
"You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, (where) the jobs have been gone now for 25 years. ... And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
In 40 years, two Democrats have won the presidency, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and both did so only after connecting with these folks.
People forget. In 1976, Carter ran as a Naval Academy grad and nuclear engineer, a born-again Baptist and peanut farmer from Plains, Ga., who, in Philadelphia, talked about preserving the "ethnic purity" of the neighborhoods. Clinton first ran as a death-penalty Democrat.
It was Ronald Reagan who cemented the GOP hold of these Nixon-Agnew New Majority Democrats, who are now headed back home. ...
And Pat has this advice for his former party:
Keep an eye on West Virginia. The votes Hillary gets, and the way she gets them, may provide a road map for how the GOP can hold the White House this fall, if they are not too squeamish to follow it.
... The Democratic Party can't celebrate the triumph of Barack Obama because the Democratic Party is busy having a breakdown. You could call it a breakdown over the issues of race and gender, but its real source is simply Hillary Clinton. Whose entire campaign at this point is about exploiting race and gender.
Here's the first place an outsider could see the tensions that have taken hold: on CNN Tuesday night, in the famous Brazile-Begala smackdown. Paul Begala wore the smile of the 1990s, the one in which there is no connection between the shape of the mouth and what the mouth says. All is mask. Donna Brazile was having none of it.
Mr. Begala more or less accused the Obama people of not caring about white voters: "[If] there's a new Democratic Party that somehow doesn't need or want white working-class people and Latinos, well, count me out." And: "We cannot win with eggheads and African Americans." That, he said, was the old, losing, Dukakis coalition.
"Paul, baby," Ms. Brazile, who is undeclared, began her response, "we need to not divide and polarize the Democratic Party. . . . So stop the divisions. Stop trying to split us into these groups, Paul, because you and I know . . . how Democrats win, and to simply suggest that Hillary's coalition is better than Obama's, Obama's is better than Hillary's -- no. We have a big party, Paul." And: "Just don't divide me and tell me I cannot stand in Hillary's camp because I'm black, and I can't stand in Obama's camp because I'm female. Because I'm both. . . . Don't start with me, baby." Finally: "It's our party, Paul. Don't say my party. It's our party. Because it's time that we bring the party back together, Paul."
In case you didn't get what was behind that exchange, Mrs. Clinton spent this week making it clear. In a jaw-dropping interview in USA Today on Thursday, she said, "I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on." As evidence she cited an Associated Press report that, she said, "found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."
White Americans? Hard-working white Americans? "Even Richard Nixon didn't say white," an Obama supporter said, "even with the Southern strategy."
If John McCain said, "I got the white vote, baby!" his candidacy would be over. And rising in highest indignation against him would be the old Democratic Party.
To play the race card as Mrs. Clinton has, to highlight and encourage a sense that we are crudely divided as a nation, to make your argument a brute and cynical "the black guy can't win but the white girl can" is -- well, so vulgar, so cynical, so cold, that once again a Clinton is making us turn off the television in case the children walk by.
"She has unleashed the gates of hell," a longtime party leader told me. "She's saying, 'He's not one of us.'"
She is trying to take Obama down in a new way, but also within a new context. In the past he was just the competitor. She could say, "All's fair." But now he's the competitor who is going to be the nominee of his party. And she is still trying to do him in. And the party is watching. ...
Meanwhile, Peggy's home paper gleefuly ruminates on the impending Clinton-Democratic Party divorce:
Like all divorces after lengthy unions, this one is painful and has had its moments of reconciliation, but after Tuesday a split looks inevitable. The long co-dependency is over.
Truth be told, this was always a marriage more of convenience than love. The party's progressives never did like Bill Clinton's New Democrat ways, but after Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis they needed his epic political gifts to win back the White House. They hated him for their loss of Congress in 1994, but they tolerated Dick Morris and welfare reform to keep the presidency in 1996. ...
Then a bunch of drivel trying to justify the Starr investigations, Monica, blah blah blah... continuing:
Slowly but surely, these Prisoners of Bill and Hill are now walking away, urging Mrs. Clinton to leave the race. Chuck Schumer damns her with faint support by saying any decision is up to her. Columnists from the New York Times, which endorsed her when she looked inevitable, now demand that she exit so as not to help John McCain. With Mr. Obama to ride, they no longer need the Arkansas interlopers.
If the Clintons play to their historic form, they will ignore all this for as long as they can. They will fight on, hoping that something else turns up about Mr. Obama before the convention. Or they'll try to play the Michigan and Florida cards. Or they'll unleash Harold Ickes on the superdelegates and suggest that if Mr. Obama loses in November she'll be back in 2012 and her revenge will be, well, Clintonian.
The difference between now and the 1990s, however, is that this time the Clinton foes aren't the "vast right-wing conspiracy." This time the conspirators are fellow Democrats. It took 10 years, but you might say Democrats have finally voted to impeach.
Not quite, Journalistas. Don't lick your chops THAT much. We Dems who have fallen out of love with the Clintons haven't suddenly seen the light on Whitewater. That, dears, was the dumbest, most useless waste of investigative effort and taxpayer money in history (not counting Iraq.) What we dislike about the Clintons is what we used to like about them, however: their never-say-die tenacity, and willingness to do just about anything to win, even if that means reviving the party's racist past. On that, there has indeed been a turnaround.
If George Stephanopoulos is right, and Camp Hillary is looking to force her on Barack Obama as his runningmate, the following comments should be classified "most unhelpful"...
"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."
"There's a pattern emerging here," she said.
Clinton's blunt remarks about race came a day after primaries in Indiana and North Carolina dealt symbolic and mathematical blows to her White House ambitions.
So it's the white vote, huh? Want the audio to go with it?
With the handwriting all over the wall, Hillary Clinton must be in a mental whirlwind today. Publicly, she's still in the race, but to paraphrase Keith Olbermann last night, the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse has happened; the war is over. The skirmishes that follow are just the messy aftermath. So how (and more importantly when) will Hillary bow out?
ABC tapped its inside source, supposed journalist and former Clinton staffer George "All Ayers and Flag Pins" Stephanopoulos, who was quizzed by his Get Barack tag team partner, Charlie "People Used to Have Respect for Me" Gibson...
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: There are various exit strategies right now. Number one would be, go out on a win. So, stay in until West Virginia, where Sen. Clinton is likely the winner, and Kentucky on May 20, and after that, bow out. Two, negotiate for the imposition of Michigan and Florida, to get those delegations seated, declare victory on that, and get out. But the big one, Charlie — and this is what some people close to the Clintons are talking about: Is there a way to negotiate a settlement with Barack Obama to have Sen. Clinton on the ticket?
CHARLES GIBSON: And what do they think?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: It's hard to know. I mean, first of all, would Sen. Obama go for it? Can he get over the bitterness of this campaign? Can he be convinced that it's the strongest ticket? Third, of course, would Sen. Clinton take it? I think if it was offered in the right way, yes.
Make that, "Hell Yes." But I rather doubt she'll be tapped. First off, Barack Obama is running his entire race on "changing the nature of politics," and nothing says "old politics" like the Clintons, who have run a scorched earth campaign more reminiscent of Nixon in 1960 or something out of Lee Atwater's wet dreams than anything that could be called "the new politics." In fact, Hillary has made a point of saying that there is no new politics, and that Barack must learn to play the old game.
Second, the bitterness between these two, and between their staffs may or may not be insurmountable, but their working styles likely are. A veep candidate Hillary would probably want to serve as Obama's attack dog, along with the former president, but Barack isn't having that, and wouldn't want that kind of thing inside his campaign. Also, there's a major question about whether or not he could trust her. Third, Barack's team seems confident that they can win over most of her supporters, without her. At best, Hillary might be able to get one of her close associates, say, Wes Clark, on Obama's short list.
Still, Stephanopoulos is pushing the story that Camp Hillary is raising the issue with the Obama team.
Congress faces a crucial vote on a new G.I. Bill tomorrow. From an IAVA press release today:
On Thursday, May 8, the House of Representatives will vote on a World War II-style GI Bill for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation's first and largest nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, strongly endorses this critical legislation. It was originally introduced in Congress by some of the Senate's own combat veterans, including Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE). The bill has the extraordinary bipartisan support of more than 330 Senators and Representatives and the endorsement of every major Veterans Service Organization from IAVA to the American Legion to Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The GI Bill is being voted on as an amendment to the war supplemental spending plan.
"Congress has a historic choice to make tomorrow. Lawmakers will go on record regarding whether they support our nation's newest generation of veterans," said Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "The momentum for a 21st Century GI Bill has been incredible. The widespread support among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle proves that caring for our nation's veterans is not a partisan issue. Tomorrow, we urge every member of Congress to vote ‘yes' on GI Bill funding and show unanimous support for our troops."
The GI Bill being voted on tomorrow would substantially increase the educational benefits available to servicemembers who have served since September 11th, 2001. The bill would cover the cost of tuition up to the most expensive in-state public school and provide a living and book stipend, so that new veterans can focus on their educations and their readjustment to civilian life. It would also offer a more equitable benefit to National Guardsmen and Reservists than what is currently available. Furthermore, because the legislation is linked to the cost of higher education, it would keep its value over time.
"In addition to providing veterans with a brighter future, a 21st Century GI Bill would stimulate our nation's economy and serve as a tremendous boon to military recruitment," said Rieckhoff. "Passing a new GI Bill is simply the right thing to do."
The Senate version is the one NOT being supported by U.S. Navy veteran John McCain.
Newt Gingrich, not the most moral guy in the world, but certainly one of the smarter tacticians on the right, issued his weekly "Winning the Future" newsletter to conservatives on Tuesday. What he had to say to his side is instructive for the fall. (Cliffs Notes version: OH GOD, WE'RE GOING DOWN'! MAN THE LIFEBOATS! HEEEEEEELP!!!!)
Ahem. First, on Congressional seats:
The Republican loss in the special election for Louisiana's Sixth Congressional District last Saturday should be a sharp wake up call for Republicans: Either Congressional Republicans are going to chart a bold course of real change or they are going to suffer decisive losses this November.
The facts are clear and compelling.
Saturday's loss was in a district that President Bush carried by 19 percentage points in 2004 and that the Republicans have held since 1975.
This defeat follows on the loss of Speaker Hastert's seat in Illinois. That seat had been held by a Republican for 76 years with the single exception of the 1974 Watergate election when the Democrats held it for one term. That same seat had been carried by President Bush 55-44% in 2004.
These two special elections validate a national polling pattern that is bad news for Republicans. According to a New York Times/CBS Poll, Americans disapprove of the President's job performance by 63 to 28 (and he has been below 40% job approval since December 2006, the longest such period for any president in the history of polling).
A separate New York Times/CBS Poll shows that a full 81 percent of Americans believe the economy is on the wrong track.
The current generic ballot for Congress according to the NY Times/CBS poll is 50 to 32 in favor of the Democrats. That is an 18-point margin, reminiscent of the depths of the Watergate disaster.
Next, on why John McCain's current durability in the polls should be no comfort to Republicans for the fall:
Senator McCain is currently running ahead of the Republican congressional ballot by about 16 percentage points. But there are two reasons that this extraordinary personal achievement should not comfort congressional Republicans.
First, McCain's lead is a sign of the gap between the McCain brand of independence and the GOP brand. No regular Republican would be tying or slightly beating the Democratic candidates in this atmosphere. It is a sign of how much McCain is a non-traditional Republican that he is sustaining his personal popularity despite his party's collapse.
Second, there is a grave danger for the McCain campaign that if the generic ballot stays at only 32 % for the GOP it will ultimately outweigh McCain's personal appeal and drag his candidacy into defeat.
And third, on whether the GOP can win with an all-Wright, all the time strategy in November:
The Republican brand has been so badly damaged that if Republicans try to run an anti-Obama, anti- Reverend Wright, or (if Senator Clinton wins), anti-Clinton campaign, they are simply going to fail.
This model has already been tested with disastrous results.
In 2006, there were six incumbent Republican Senators who had plenty of money, the advantage of incumbency, and traditionally successful consultants.
But the voters in all six states had adopted a simple position: "Not you." No matter what the GOP Senators attacked their opponents with, the voters shrugged off the attacks and returned to, "Not you." ...
A February Washington Post poll shows that Republicans have lost the advantage to the Democrats on which party can handle an issue better -- on every single topic.
Americans now believe that Democrats can handle the deficit better (52 to 31), taxes better (48 to 40) and even terrorism better (44 to 37).
This is a catastrophic collapse of trust in Republicans built up over three generations on the deficit, two generations on taxes, and two generations on national security.
Newt wants House Republicans to call an emergency "members-only conference" at which they should propose an immediate schedule of votes on "real change" issues -- sort of a 2008 version of his 1994 "Contract with America." Newt's 9-point plan will sound familiar to McCain watchers. It includes:
A summertime repeal of the federal gas tax, paid for by radical cuts in discretionary (read non-Social Security, non-Medicare) spending. In other words, kill all the local projects that inject cash and jobs into the Districts of these House members, and then ask those same members to go home, sans "the bacon" and ask for votes based on a gas tax cut that nets their constituents $30 bucks for the entire summer ... did I say Newt was one of the smarter ones...?
Putting the oil headed for the Stratetic Petroleum Reserve onto the open market, which Netw claims would lower gas prices 5 to 6 cents a gallon. Unfortuately, it would also deplete America's emergency reserves of ... petroleum ... and did I mention gas has gone up about three times Newt's proposed savings in the last month?
Announcing a one-year moratorium on earmarks (See bacon notes on #1...)
This one is weird, unless you understand "conservatives": Neutering the Census Bureau and turning their function over to "Internet savvy" private companies. So-called conservatives have never believed in demography, because it allows Democrats to figure out who's being discriminated against on the basis of race. The Census also turns up inconvenient numbers, like estimates of the growing number of Hispanics, which could hurt efforts to sell a borderless North American free trade blob to white, rural Americans.
Implement a "space-based, GPS-style air traffic control system." Call it Reagan's Star Wars fantasy meets private enterprise. Here, Newt appears to want to take advantage of the Reagan-era plan to weaponize space by twisting that program to what probably was its ultimate goal anyway: making some big, Republican-leaning corporation even richer than they are today. Meanwhile, the safety of air travel will be subordinated to the profit motive, and oversight? Who needs it!
Declare that English is the "official language of government." Throwing a biscuit to the Lou Dobbs crowd, which has soured on the GOP. Maybe if they do this, they'll forget about that border fence... Meanwhile, the already blanched GOP loses whatever brown voters they might have had out West. So much for putting California in play.
"Protect the workers right to a secret ballot." This one's about pure union-busting, another GOP technique to wrestle away Democratic voters without actually offering attractive policies.
and finally, "remind Americans that judges matter." Sounds vague, but Newt wants the House to begin trying to ram through Bush's right wing judges, and mount a national scare campaign to convince unhappy right wingers that the "activists on the bench" are coming to their trailers to give their daughters abortions and take their guns, which is clearly a much more pressing matter than that job they can't find, those outrageous gas prices or the foreclosure notice in the mailbox.
That's Newt's plan. So now you know what to expect John McCain to be squawking about for the next few weeks, my friends ... and I'm sure he and Lieberman will endorse whatever the House guys come up with.
What's interesting about Newt's prescriptions is how absolutely devoid they are of the Bush formula that worked, if barely, in 2000 (compassionate conservatism, phony appeals to religious voters on gay rights, abortion and the like...) or the 2004 Bush model of scaring the bejeezus out of everyone with constant threats from "terr'rists." Instead, Newt's plan is to push corporate gimmies and the much-belittled gas tax holiday, along with schemes to twist the demographic calculus and gin up fears of "Spanish spoken here" signs popping up at City Hall. It's an interesting strategy. Let's see if the House puppies bite.
The International Herald Tribune does a story you wouldn't see in the U.S.; a wrenching piece on the plight of Israeli Arabs, dispossessed of their land and villages, prohibited from settling on captured lands that remain undeveloped, waiting for Jewish owners who might emigrate to the country someday, and yet remaining in Israel because they have no place else to go, and no confidence in what might someday emerge as the new Palestinian state next door. Here's a clip:
... One recent warm afternoon, Jamal Abdulhadi Mahameed drove past kibbutz fields of wheat and watermelon, up a dirt road surrounded by pine trees and cactus, and climbed the worn remains of a set of stairs, declaring in the open air: "This was my house. This is where I was born."
He said what he most wanted now, at age 69, was to leave the crowded town next door, come back to this piece of uncultivated land with the pomegranate bushes planted by his father and work it, as generations have before him. He has gone to court to get it.
Mahameed is no revolutionary and, by nearly any measure, a solid and successful citizen. His children include a doctor, two lawyers and an engineer. Yet, as an Arab, his quest for a return to his land challenges longstanding Israeli policy.
"We are prohibited from using our own land," Mahameed said as he stood in the former village of Lajoun, now a mix of overgrown scrub and pine trees surrounded by the fields of Kibbutz Megiddo. "They want to keep it available for Jews. My daughter makes no distinction between Jewish and Arab patients. Why should the state treat me differently?"
The answer has to do with the very essence of Zionism - the movement of Jewish rebirth and control over the land where Jewish statehood first flourished 2,000 years ago.
"Land is presence," remarked Clinton Bailey, an Israeli scholar who has focused on Bedouin culture. "If you want to be present here you have to have land. The country is not that big. What you cede to Arabs can no longer be used for Jews who may still want to come. Israel is here as a haven for them." ...
Discrimination against Arab citizens, both inside Israel and in the occupied territories, which Desmond Tutu and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter have variously described as Israeli Apartheid, is one of Israel's dirty little secrets, one that's much better known in Europe than the U.S. In many ways, Palestinians inside Israel are that country's African-Americans, pre-1970...
The creeping signs of a superdelegate crack-up for Hillary Clinton are in the air. One of her most prominent supporters, Sen. Diane Feinstein of California, is asking the Clinton campaign to explain just how they think they can still win the nomination...
“I, as you know, have great fondness and great respect for Sen. Clinton and I’m very loyal to her,” Feinstein said. “Having said that, I’d like to talk with her and [get] her view on the rest of the race and what the strategy is.”
Clinton, who eked out a win in Indiana Tuesday night but lost big to front-runner Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) in North Carolina, has not responded to Feinstein’s phone call, the California senator said.
“I think the race is reaching the point now where there are negative dividends from it, in terms of strife within the party,” Feinstein said. “I think we need to prevent that as much as we can.”
Tuesday night’s results are widely viewed as a blow to Clinton’s hopes after she failed to deliver a “game-changing” performance. Instead, Obama extended his leads among delegates and popular votes.
Feinstein stressed that Clinton is not an “also-run candidate,” but added that there is a question “as to whether she can get the delegates that she needs. I’d like to see what the strategy is and then we can talk further.”
The article quotes several other Senators and makes it clear that the abundance of caution continues among the supers, but slowly but surely, they seem to be trying to get Mrs. Clinton to glimpse the writing on the wall.
The undeclared Democratic superdelegates are either overly cautious, or really terrified of the Clintons. What additional information do they need after last night (really, since February,) to make a decision on who to support? Do they really intend to wait until the last contest in Puerto Rico, which mathematically cannot change the result? Makes you wonder, if the situation were reversed, and Hillary Clinton held an unsurmountable delegate and popular vote lead, if the supers would remain on the sidelines for so long. Team Obama is working on pushing them toward the inevitable conclusion. His memo to the supers today reads in part:
At some point – we would argue that time is now – this ceases to be a theoretical exercise about how superdelegates view electability. The reality of the preferences in the last several weeks offer a clear guide of how strongly superdelegates feel Senator Obama will perform in November, both in building a winning campaign for the presidency as well as providing the best electoral climate across the country for all Democratic candidates.
It is important to note that Senator Obama leads Senator Clinton in superdelegate endorsements among Governors, United States Senators and members of the House of Representatives. These elected officials all have a keen sense for who our strongest nominee will be in November.
It is only among D.N.C. members where Senator Clinton holds a lead, which has been rapidly dwindling.
But Hillary Clinton is pressing on. Her team held a conference call with reporters this morning in which they continued to pound away at the theme that Barack Obama is not electable ... except against her... Hil barely edged out Barack in Indiana, a state she should have won by 10 points. And despite the fact that she loaned her campaign another $6 million last month, just to stay in the game, Hil apparently will continue to press donors and super delegates for support. She's even added West Virginia stops to her schedule, not that it matters anymore.
I think Team Clinton will continue to give the appearance of running a vigorous campaign, but she will soon run out of cash, and the media will run out of interest. Perhaps she's playing for a spot on the ticket, and if that's the case, she should think twice about attacking the presumptive nominee.
I say let Hillary continue to run, so long as she's not hurting her party's candidate. Her run keeps her supporters from hurting themselves or others, and it allows the Dems to stretch out their campaign operations to the full 50 states (well, 48.)
If Hillary Clinton winds up losing Indiana tonight (or this morning) -- which could very well happen with much of Gary, Indiana still to come in and a margin of around 20,000 -- the irony for her and her husband will be that the deciding margin will be black voters in that city, and in Lake County. Bill Clinton made his national reputation by making black voters fall in love with him. As his wife's chief surrogate during this campaign, he led her in a renunciation of the black vote that was so thorough, so definitive, and so grotesque, it was stunning, not least of which to black America. Now, as their campaign draws to a close, it appears that it will be the black vote that ultimately did Hillary in. Payback really is a bitch.
200,000 votes still out in Indiana, and Chuck Todd says it's mostly in Lake County, which is heavily African-American and heavily pro-Obama. Barack needs more than 60 percent of the vote to take the state from Hillary ...
West Virginia, Oregon and the like don't matter. Actually, neither does Indiana, to be blunt about it. Hillary Clinton's campaign is done. It's all over but the dragging out of the room and the kicking and the screaming...
Tomorrow, Hillary will be making some tough decisions. She's deep in debt, she's out of gas on pledged delegates, and even if the party did count Michigan and Florida, she can't win. Lisa Caputo, Hillary's spokeswoman on MSNBC tonight sounded like a neutral analyst, not a Clintonite. This thing is done (face it, Rachel Maddow.) It would be political suicide for Hillary to keep attacking Barack. She'll try to win concessions on the outstanding states, and piddle her way to the convention. What other choice does she have?
Going forward, Barack can essentially tune Hillary out, though he made it clear tonight that he will immediately begin a raprochment with her supporters. He can and should focus on John McCain.
The question of a joint ticket has been raised again, but in all honesty, Hillary may not be the asset to Obama that she seems to be today. There are as many reasons to reject her as there are to take her on board. Barack might do just as well to pick a white guy from the West (and seal Colorado and Nevada, forgetting Florida this time.)
Another question will be what to do with Bill Clinton at the convention. As a former president, and the only two-term Democratic president in modern memory, he has to be given a slot. But now that he has traded in his immense popularity with Black voters for extreme Bubbary, and a singular appeal to white voters who, how to say, aren't keen on electing a black guy, what does he say? Can he and Hillary turn in a performance that undoes the damage they have done during the campaign? And don't you have to put them both on in prime time?
Did Hillary Clinton and I watch the same returns tonight? Probably not, given that her camp has probably banned MSNBC (except for HRC-friendly "Scarborough Country,") in favor of her newfound friends at Fox News. Fox (and CBS) have definitively called Indiana for Hillary, though her lead is down to less than 40,000 votes with 200,000 or so outstanding. NBC/MSNBC remains the loan holdout, but if their instincts turn out to be right, Hillary might regret opening her surreal speech tonight with "we broke the tie," and "now it's full steam ahead, on to the White House!"
Not the speech I was expecting. Not that I thought she'd concede. Never that. But tonight was perhaps Hillary's last best chance to leave Democratic voters not already in her camp with a positive impression of her. She should have reached for inspiration, not politics. She should have gone for grace notes, not excuse-making ("we were out-spent five to one") and snidery (referring to Barack as "my opponent" instead of using his name.) Even her supporters' borrowed chant of "yes she will" sounds stilted (as does the chant "Hillary! Hillary!" next to the higher plane rhetoric of Obama's "yes WE can!" I don't think the speeches even come close to comparing. And while I'm biased, I used to be a Clintonista, and I know a good -- and a bad -- speech when I hear one.
Hil, this was a sucky speech.
Update: the pundits on MSNBC are focusing on the second half of HRC's speech, which they're describing as conciliatory. I suppose so, but I think the first part was such a misfire, it probably negated it. Her followers remain as angry as ever. I'm struck by just how angry they are, judging by their comments on posts like this one...
I think one big loser tonight is Evan Bayh, who may yet deliver Indiana, but Russert is hearing that it could be by 1,800 votes.
One of the reasons I love politics is that it is one of the few things in this modern life that has the genuine possibility to surprise. Tonight, that happened. Barack Obama appears to be headed for a blowout (15 points or so) in North Carolina; not unexpected given the fact that he has led by as many as 20 points in recent weeks. But Hillary Clinton's forecast parallel victory (10 points or so) in Indiana not only has not materialized, that race is now too close to call. It's down to 39,000 votes, with some 300,000 votes or more still outstanding, many of them in Obama territory in the northern part of the state, according to Chuck Todd at MSNBC.
Barack's victory speech tonight was a back to his core strength barn burner. (Note to my friend, Newton: you called it. Barack has gone back on message.) It was as inspiring a speech as I can imagine, hitting all the themes he needed: magnanimity for Hillary and her supporters, unity within the party and the country, a campaign, not about him, ("an imperfect messenger,") but about "you." He took a needed swipe at the media and the politics of distraction, and he said he "trusts the American people" to rise above it all, focusing instead on bettering the "country he loves." This was Barack's most substantive speech, even if it lacked detail, because it improved upon his previous loftiness by making him a man who cares about real people, in Indiana, in Iowa, in Pennsylvania, and in North Carolina. Even the gas tax issue, one on which I was critical of Barack's campaign for not hitting Hillary harder, Barack (and the much maligned "economists,")appear http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifto have won the day. Even in Indiana.
Hillary Clinton may wake up tomorrow having lost Indiana. Even if she squeaks through, she will have one hell of a time explaining what she's still doing in the race, other than mounting a vain attempt to take down the certain Democratic nominee.
This primary is effectively over, folks. (Sorry, Rush. I guess your listeners aren't as dumb as them seem...) Welcome to the general election.
No surprises in North Cahttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifrolina, which MSNBC (and the other nets) have just called for Barack. At this point, Barack is guaranteed at least a split, and because NC has more delegates on offer, the results in Indy just became less important. That said, exit polls suggest that HRC is pulling 60 percent of white women, 72 percent of voters 65 and older, and just 8 percent of the black vote. Barack is winning every age group under 65, according to Russert and Company. The nets have been reporting all day that turnout in both states is shattering records.
On the "old politics" front, Barack was reduced to downing Pabst at a NC bar today. Can the beat-up jeanhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifs jacket be far behind? Maybe he should start smoking again! And basketball ... lots and lots of basketball...
Update: Exit polls suggest Obama will get at least 36% of the white vote. Take that, Pat Buchanan. Essentially, the race is down to age and to a slightly lesser extent: gender. Barack, however, is getting more women, percentage-wise, than white voters. Bottom line: old-line Democrats who haven't caught up with the multiculturalism thing: Clinton. Modern Americans who don't commonly use the word "coloreds": Obama.
View the NC exit polls here, and the Indiana exits here.
In NC, it appears Barack has won a majority of men, women, churchgoers, voters with and without college degrees, high school graduates, all income levels except $50-75K, and voters who cared most about the economy. He carried conservatives, got 35% of the white vote and 56% of voters who said the candidate "caring about people" was most important (take that, Chris Matthews.) Hillary won gun owners, Republicans, white Democrats and Independents, by one point (46%-45%) because she carried white Independents. (BTW Rush, GOPers represented just 5% of the turnout in NC, and don't fool yourself into thinking most of them were your "Operation Chaos" lemmings.) Worse, 50 percent in NC said she is not trustworthy. Only 40 percent said she is, while 72% called Obama trustworthy.
In Indiana, Hillary barely edged Barack among men and even women (he got 47% according to exit polls.) The candidates split church attendees, though Hillary carried both Catholics and Protestants by about two-thirds margins. The Rev. Wright issue was very important to just 28% of Indiana voters, it turns out (sorry, MSNBC) and Hillary got 73% of those voters. Hillary's downscale voters returned to the fold in Indiana, but not overwhelmingly. She scored in the high 50s with these folks. Obama got the college educated crowd, which is significant for him, because turnout on the numerous campuses in Indiana is said to have been heavy.
We're waiting for the call, which I would expect to be for Hillary, thought not by double digits.
Most important of all, I think, just 15% and 17% of voters in the two primaries said they would prefer John McCain in the fall if their candidate didn't win. |
It's time once again, to play "If I had a 527." This time, the subject is the phony gas tax holiday, for which Hillary Clinton has climbed aboard the "straight talk express" for a ride to fantasyland. She's even throwing the idea of consulting experts -- I think they're called economists -- under the bus in the service of her ambition. So what should Team Obama do? Maybe run a radio ad like this...
As I said in the Youtube notes, the old politics sucks, but sometimes, you've got to do what you've got to do. Barack should be tying Hillary Clinton to John McCain in every speech and every ad, in order to consolidate core Democrats. He should hit her squarely in the jaw on the gas tax, on the basis of it costing jobs, and he should belittle it -- directly, and without the high-minded rhetoric, the better to reach downscale voters.
Back in January, when he dropped out of the presidential race after failing to win or place in any of the first four contests, John Edwards had a great deal of political capital to spend. He could have thrown his weight behind either of the two front-runners at any time; before "Tsunami Tuesday," before "secondarily Super Tuesday," February 19th, before the big Texas, Ohio or Pennsylvania primaries ... any of those times would have given Edwards major ink. But then, of course, the ink would have run dry, his time in the spotlight would have faded, and he'd be "John Edwards Who?" before you know it.
By holding out until later in the game, Edwards preserved his mystique, and his viability as a possible running mate for the eventual winner.
Not anymore. John Edwards' chance to be a player in the presidential race of 2008 is draining out little by little, as North Carolina voters go to the polls today. You can almost hear the sound of destiny riding off into the sunset.
See, had Edwards, who was born in South Carolina but represented North Carolina in the Senate for one term, come out and endorsed either Barack or Hillary before this week, he would have provided valuable atmospherics to Hillary as a winner, or Barack as a guy white guys with a drawl can hang with, which would have been helpful in Indiana, too. Edwards still has a national constituency, particularly among left wing Democrats, and had he endorsed, he might at least have made Barack's vice presidential short list, or the short list for "poverty czar" in a HRC administration. Not that he would have ultimately made the cut, but making the list would have stretched his 15 minutes a few minutes more.
Instead, Edwards is just an observer of the NC and Indiana primaries, like everybody else.
Perhaps he's holding out to try to be a player at the convention. But with just 19 delegates (which, who knows, could be decisive at this point I guess) and the fact that he failed to carry either of his home states in 2004 as John Kerry's running mate, and the fact that in reality, his political power in North Carolina is about bupkis, about the only real card Edwards and his wife Elizabeth had to play was the endorsement card. Even if they had split their endorsement -- John for Barack, Elizabeth for Hillary -- they would have preserved their news value going into the June cycle. And even with his liabilities (short time in the Senate, rich lawyer with puffy hair persona,) Edwards was a decent choice, at least for the short list, particularly since he has had the experience running as wing man in a national campaign (I used to call Barack-Edwards "the Miami Vice ticket," only with Crockett and Tubbs reversed.)
But now, all that's left are Edwards' faults, and his failure to play his strongest hand when it really counted. And sorry, guys, the People Magazine thing ain't gonna keep you interesting.
I admire Barack Obama's desire to run a "different kind of campaign." Unfortunately, he and Hillary Clinton are playing by two sets of rules. (By the way, it's official: Bill Clinton has traded in his magic with Black voters for a new magic, with white, rural voters. He's THEIR Big Bill, now...)
Back to HRC and Barack. With her latest hypocrisies on trade, decrying the loss of jobs at an Indiana company called Magnaquench that her husband's trade policies helped to turn into yet another outsourcing wonder, you'd think the Obama campaign would fire off an ad or two. Well if they have, I haven't heard about it. And so far, there are no pro-Obama 527s in the water. Well what if there was? Or what if Hillary Clinton became the nominee, and the inevitable Republican 527s had a go at her on the trade issue. The result might be something like this:
The big day in Indiana and NC is tomorrow, and as usual, the polls tell us nothing.
Having worked in media since 1998, I have to tell you I haven't seen a concerted effort at a media takedown like the one heaped on Barack Obama by the Washington press corps and cable news talking heads since the Clinton impeachment fiasco. (Howard Kurtz tries to explain why the press corps turned on Obama in his WaPo column. The Cliffs Notes version: "Saturday Night Live." Pretty pathetic.) But over the weekend, a kindly blogger at the Huffpo and a writer at the New York Times had the decency to show us the numbers. Blogs Al Giiordano:
I turn on the TV, read the political columnists (and a significant number of analytically-challenged bloggers, too) and all I hear is a bunch of white folk prattling on about their favorite narrative: "Obama's losing white voters!"
They've swallowed the Clinton racially-obsessed spin, hook, line and sinker. Some, because they are gullible, haven't an original idea in their little pea brains, and follow the pack of what everybody else is talking about. Others, because they like to toss around knowing falsehoods. Nary a superdelegate can go on Fox News without being berated by an anchorperson screeching (this is pretty close to an exact quote): "But your duty as a superdelegate is to select the most electable and that's Hillary Clinton!" That these anchorpersons are Republican partisans openly cheering for Senator Clinton is our first clue of the game afoot. One of the major successes of Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos is that it has got all the right-wing pundits and reporters marching lockstep behind the effort to give Clinton enough oxygen to keep slashing away at Senator Obama, who remains the prohibitive likely Democratic nominee.
And when Clinton wins state primaries that, because of demographics, she was always going to win - last week, Pennsylvania and next week, Indiana - they then wave that event up like a blood-soaked flag as proof of their narrative: See? See? We told you so! White people won't vote for Obama!
The question is this: Have white Democrats soured on Obama? Apparently not. Although his unfavorable rating from the group is up five percentage points since last summer in polls conducted by The New York Times and CBS News, his favorable rating is up just as much.
On the other hand, black Democrats’ opinion of Hillary Clinton has deteriorated substantially (her favorable rating among them is down 36 percentage points over the same period).
While a favorable opinion doesn’t necessarily translate into a vote, this should still give the Clintons (and the superdelegates) pause. Electability cuts both ways.
... and awfully quickly too. My question: do people really talk like this?
"I cannot live the next 6-8 years behind bars for what both you and I have come to regard as this 'modern day lynching,'" Palfrey wrote. Local Florida police released the notes to the media Monday morning. Palfrey said she did not want to face leaving prison as a "penniless and very much alone woman."
"6-8 years?" Sounds awfully legalistic to me, but then, I'm feeling conspiratorial today. That's supposedly in the note Palfrey left to her mom, in which she also asks to use the "little surprise in the BOA (Bank of America?) account" for "final arrangements and various account settlements." there was a second note, addressed to Palfrey's younger sister, Bobbie, in which she references a lack of any other "exit strategy." Again, I'd want to know if this is the way Palfrey normally spoke. And sorry but if I'm the family, I'm having that handwriting analyzed.
One question that continues to plague me in this case: if her sentencing wasn't scheduled until July, why take herself out in May?
When his unpopularity runs so deep, he has to send his wife out to do the press conference on the U.S. humanitarian response to the 10,000 or more storm deaths in Myanmar. And by the way, it was bugging me to no end to hear Laura adopting her husband's preference of repeatedly calling the country Burma, rather than Myanmar, until I looked up the context and noted that her usage is apparently a political swipe at the country's ruling junta. Laura, being the brighter spouse, most likely knows what she's doing and why. (I suppose sticking "Burma" in the junta's faces is the Bushian substitute for actually confronting that government, or the Chinese over Tibet, for that matter...)
All of that said, Laura did about 1,000 percent better at the presser than her rather pitiful husband ever has in front of the press.
CNN just pointed out the important fact that in order to get aid to Burma/Myanmar, the Bush administration will have to get around its own sanctions against that country, which the libertarian CATO Institute lambasted this way:
The U.S. policy of imposing unilateral trade and investment sanctions against Burma has proven to be a failure on all fronts. By forcing U.S. firms to disengage from Burma, that policy has harmed American economic interests and done nothing to improve the living conditions or human rights of the people of Burma.
Sanctions have denied Burmese citizens the benefits of increased investment by American multinational companies--investment that brings technoloygy, better working conditions, and Western ideas.
State and local sanctions against Burma have compounded the problem caused by federal sanctions and raised troubling constitutional questions.
Unilateral sanctions have alienated our allies in the region and strengthened the hand of China but achieved none of the stated foreign policy aims. If Washington had allowed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to take the lead in setting policy toward Burma, the United States could have enjoyed a "win-win" situation--better relations with our allies and more influence over the regime in Rangoon.
As an alternative to the failed policy of sanctions, the United States should allow U.S. companies to freely trade with and investment in Burma. A pro-business approach to engagement would more effectively promote political, civil, and economic freedom around the world. Congress should enact legislation requiring a full accounting of the cost of sanctions and explicit justification on national security grounds before they can be imposed.
Ah yes, let the corporations in. That'll fix it for the Burmese little guy...
Lord, is there a conservative out there with a a conscience?
He holds a solid lead over John McCain, and beats HRC in the new CBS/NYT poll. Meanwhile, the Times tries to make a story of the 25 percent of voters who say their opinions are impacted by the ubiquitous Rev. Wright. Note to Times: 100 minus 25 is Seventy Five...|
Courting the latte-sipping, Volvo-driving, European gun owning set
The latest dispatch from Hillary Clinton: Woman of the People! Apparently, Hillary's newfound support for gun owners' rights is of a certain, snobby, snooty, I don't pump my own gas, dahling, variety, as Ben Smith of the Politico reports:
Sen. Hillary Clinton’s mailing attacking Sen. Barack Obama’s record on guns appears to include a striking visual gaffe: The image of the gun pictured on the face of the mailing is reversed, making it a nonexistent left-handed model of the Mauser 66 rifle.
To make matters worse, a prominent gun dealer said, it’s an expensive German gun with customized features that make it clearly European.
“The gun in the photo does not exist,” said Val Forgett III, president of Navy Arms in Martinsburg, W.Va. Forgett's company was Mauser’s agent in the United States when the gun was released, and it sold Mauser guns here again in the 1990s. “The bolt is facing to the left side of the receiver, making it a left-handed bolt action rifle, indicating whoever constructed and approved the mailer did not recognize the image has been reversed.”
Forgett said the error would be obvious to sportsmen.
“I find it laughable on its face,” he said. “It’s like a picture of Babe Ruth hitting right-handed.”
... The Mauser 66, released in 1966 and no longer manufactured, is a high-end hunting rifle that found military use as a sniper rifle. In Clinton’s mailing, it’s pictured with a double-set trigger, a customization that’s popular in Europe but “almost unheard of in the United States,” Forgett said.
“It’s a $2,200 German import — it’s hardly typical of what the average workingman in Indiana uses,” he said.
That, and the image looks like Camp Clinton is vicariously shooting Barack Obama in the head...
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF My Times colleague Barry Bearak was imprisoned by the brutal regime in Zimbabwe last month. Barry was not beaten, but he was infected with scabies while in a bug-infested jail. He was finally brought before a court after four nights in jail and then released.
Alas, we don’t treat our own inmates in Guantánamo with even that much respect for law. On Thursday, America released Sami al-Hajj, a cameraman for Al Jazeera who had been held without charges for more than six years. Mr. Hajj has credibly alleged that he was beaten, and that he was punished for a hunger strike by having feeding tubes forcibly inserted in his nose and throat without lubricant, so as to rub tissue raw.
“Conditions in Guantánamo are very, very bad,” Mr. Hajj said in a televised interview from his hospital bed in Sudan, adding, “In Guantánamo, you have animals that are called iguanas ... that are treated with more humanity.”
Al Jazeera’s director general, Wadah Khanfar, said by telephone from the hospital that Mr. Hajj was so frail when he arrived that he had to be carried off the plane and into an ambulance. Guantánamo inmates are not allowed to see their families, so that evening Mr. Hajj met his 7-year-old son, whom he had last seen as a baby.
Reliable information is still scarce about Guantánamo, but increasingly we’re gaining glimpses of life there — and they are painful to read.
Murat Kurnaz, a German citizen of Turkish descent, has just published a memoir of his nearly five years in Guantánamo. He describes prolonged torture that included interruptions by a doctor to ensure that he was well enough for the torture to continue.
Mahvish Rukhsana Khan, an American woman of Afghan descent who worked as an interpreter, has written a book to be published next month, “My Guantánamo Diary,” that is wrenching to read. She describes a pediatrician who returned to Afghanistan in 2003 to help rebuild his country — and was then arrested by Americans, beaten, doused with icy water and paraded around naked. Finally, after three years, officials apparently decided he was innocent and sent him home.
A third powerful new book about Guantánamo, by an American lawyer named Steven Wax, is summed up by its title: “Kafka Comes to America.”
The new material suggests two essential truths about Guantánamo:
First, most of the inmates were probably innocent all along, but Pakistanis or Afghans turned them over to America in exchange for large cash rewards. The moment we offered $25,000 rewards for Al Qaeda supporters, any Arab in the region risked being kidnapped and turned over as a terrorism suspect.
Second, torture was routine, especially early on. That’s why more than 100 prisoners have died in American custody in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo. ...
It gets even bleaker after that, and Kristoff ultimately concludes that "Granted, it can be hard to figure out what version to believe. When I started writing about Guantánamo several years ago, I thought the inmates might be lying and the Pentagon telling the truth. No doubt some inmates lie, and some surely are terrorists. But over time — and it’s painful to write this — I’ve found the inmates to be more credible than American officials. The comments on his column are unsurprising, including this one:
I am a Canadian living in Vancouver. As a state that practices, condones and justifies torture, the U.S. has departed the family of civilized nations.
The Bush administration has conclusively lost its “war on terror” by embracing the barbaric practices of the presumed enemy and attacking fundamental human rights.
The initial Bush policy of unilateralism undermined American leadership of the liberal democracies. Americans should realize that the subsequent descent into bestiality has caused widespread revulsion amongst your closest friends and allies. The entire Guantanamo security command structure are not brothers and sisters of other Western security services, they are the brothers of the SS and NKVD.
But there are a few comments like this one, too:
who is surprised that the nytimes writers believe terrorists who killed our people on 9/11 over the men and women who risk their lives protecting us from the savage barbaric killers down in gitmo? — Posted by jimmy lee williams
To those recalcitrant Dittoheads like Jimmy Lee, who probably get most of their news from right wing talk radio and Fox News, rather than the New York Times, I refer you to the story of Specialist Sean Baker, also from Mr. Kristof:
The prison abuse scandal refuses to die because soothing White House explanations keep colliding with revelations about dead prisoners and further connivance by senior military officers -- and newly discovered victims, like Sean Baker.
If Sean Baker doesn't sound like an Iraqi name, it isn't. Specialist Baker, 37, is an American, and he was a proud U.S. soldier. An Air Force veteran and member of the Kentucky National Guard, he served in the first gulf war and more recently was a military policeman in Guantánamo Bay.
Then in January 2003, an officer in Guantánamo asked him to pretend to be a prisoner in a training drill. As instructed, Mr. Baker put on an orange prison jumpsuit over his uniform, and then crawled under a bunk in a cell so an ''internal reaction force'' could practice extracting an uncooperative inmate. The five U.S. soldiers in the reaction force were told that he was a genuine detainee who had already assaulted a sergeant.
Despite more than a week of coaxing, I haven't been able to get Mr. Baker to give an interview. But he earlier told a Kentucky television station what happened next:
''They grabbed my arms, my legs, twisted me up and unfortunately one of the individuals got up on my back from behind and put pressure down on me while I was face down. Then he -- the same individual -- reached around and began to choke me and press my head down against the steel floor. After several seconds, 20 to 30 seconds, it seemed like an eternity because I couldn't breathe. When I couldn't breathe, I began to panic and I gave the code word I was supposed to give to stop the exercise, which was 'red.' . . . That individual slammed my head against the floor and continued to choke me. Somehow I got enough air. I muttered out: 'I'm a U.S. soldier. I'm a U.S. soldier.' ''
Then the soldiers noticed that he was wearing a U.S. battle dress uniform under the jumpsuit. Mr. Baker was taken to a military hospital for treatment of his head injuries, then flown to a Navy hospital in Portsmouth, Va. After a six-day hospitalization there, he was given a two-week discharge to rest.
But Mr. Baker began suffering seizures, so the military sent him to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center for treatment of a traumatic brain injury. He stayed at the hospital for 48 days, was transferred to light duty in an honor burial detail at Fort Dix, N.J., and was finally given a medical discharge two months ago.
Meanwhile, a military investigation concluded that there had been no misconduct involved in Mr. Baker's injury. Hmm. The military also says it can't find a videotape that is believed to have been made of the incident.
Baker's probably disability payment: about $2,100 a month.
KHARTOUM, May 2 (Reuters) - Al Jazeera journalist Sami al-Haj returned home to Sudan on Friday after more than six years in the U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay prison, urging Washington to respect human rights and branding torture as terrorism.
Haj said he and the other Guantanamo detainees had been subjected to all kinds of torture, but the worst had been when his jailers insulted Islam or desecrated the Koran in front of prisoners.
"Security and human rights are inseparable issues -- you cannot have one without the other," he told Reuters in an interview.
"Human rights are not only for times of peace -- you need to hold onto them always even during difficult times and times of war," he added.
"My last message to the U.S. administration is that torture will not stop terrorism -- torture is terrorism."
Haj looked frail but visibly stronger than 12 hours earlier, when he arrived in chains aboard a U.S. military plane from the U.S. prison in Cuba, where he spent the last 16 months on hunger strike in protest at his illegal detention. ...
And yet, what could ultimately push the Bush administration to close America's gulag, won't be conscience or a decent respect for the opinions of mankind. It could be the Supreme Court:
The government is under international and domestic pressure to close the prison camp, which opened at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay on Cuba in January 2002 to house terrorism suspects caught after the invasion of Afghanistan.
"A decision could be made in this administration to announce the closure of Guantanamo," said a senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition he was not identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.
"It is unlikely in the next nine months that Guantanamo could be physically (closed) but it is possible the policy decision could be taken to close it."
Officials say planning and debate has intensified in recent months over how to deal with Guantanamo, which President George W. Bush acknowledges has tarnished America's image and human rights advocates say has damaged U.S. credibility.
"Everyone is agreed that we need to find a way that eventually leads to the closure of Guantanamo, which is the president's policy decision. It is a very complicated matter," said National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule within weeks whether Guantanamo prisoners have rights under the U.S. Constitution even though they are held on the base in Cuba, where the United States has had a presence for about 100 years.
The court decision could influence whether the government announces plans to close the prison before Bush leaves office in January 2009, several officials said. ...
I wouldn't bet against the Roberts court ruling on the side of the Bush administration. After all, that's what Mssrs. Roberts and Alito are there for. But on the slight chance that the court might eke out a 5-4 ruling against the Bush torture policy, the sources in the Reuters story say it could push the administration to make a move, if for no other reason, than to deprive Bush's successors of the opportunity to make him look even worse in history:
There is also a drive to announce the closure before Bush leaves office rather than have his successor claim credit.
One more from the Times: Thomas Friedman muses about America's sense of lost greatness, and throws in the fact that hope and inspiration, on the order that Barack Obama is trying to deliver, are not trivial to the daunting task of rebuilding America. It strikes me that, and Friedman didn't say this, Hillary Clinton is attempting to gin up a sense of "fight" in her voters -- we're going to fight this one and that one, the Republicans and the Obamaphiles, the media and whoever else gets in our way. In a sense, what she's promising is to bring the 90s back wholesale -- including the drama and the clashes of civilization with whoever's considered "the other side."
That kind of thing may inspire a temporary sense of superiority, which on a bad day can be mistaken for greatness, and she's making downscale Democrats feel in charge (and older, white women, too) but none of these can be mistaken for the kind of rebuilt American greatness that Friedman is talking about -- the sense of industry and invention, that we've ceded to Asia and other parts East.
The more I watch the present campaign,the more convinced I am that Hillary is simply not capable of leading that kind of movement. She's too divisive, too angry, to much in it for the fight and the kill, rather than for the much needed outcome: a changed and whole America.
This is why Bob Herbert doesn't get booked on MSNBC
I like Eugene Robinson. I like him a lot. But he has been sickeningly pliant in going along with the Rev. Wright 24-7 nonsense on MSNBC, which has turned the "story" into a spectacle so tiresome and overblown, I've actually started watching CNN. Bob Herbert, on the other hand, doesn't get booked on MSNBC nearly as much as his colleague at the "other" big paper (the WaPo, where I count no fewer than four op-ed pieces on Wright just this morning). Here's an example of why:
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright is no doubt (and regrettably) a big issue in the presidential campaign. But what we’ve seen over the past week is major media overkill — Jeremiah Wright all day and all night. It’s like watching the clips of a car wreck again and again.
We’ve plotted the trend lines of his relationship with Barack Obama over the past two decades. What did Obama know and when did he know it? We’ve forced Barack and Michelle Obama, two decent, hard-working, law-abiding, family-oriented Americans, to sit for humiliating television interviews, reminiscent of Bill and Hillary Clinton on “60 Minutes” at the height of the Gennifer Flowers scandal.
We’ve allowed the entire political process in what is perhaps the most important election in the U.S. since World War II to become thoroughly warped by the histrionics of a loony preacher from the South Side of Chicago.
There’s something wrong with us.
Race is like pornography in the United States — the dirty stories and dirty pictures that everyone professes to hate but no one can resist. But I suspect that even porn addicts get their fill sometimes.
The challenge for the working press right now is to see if we can force ourselves past the overwhelming temptations of Wright and race and focus in a sustained way on some other important matters, like the cratering economy, metastasizing energy costs, the dismal state of public education, the nation’s crumbling infrastructure or the damage being done to the American soul by the endless war in Iraq. ...
Amen, Herbert. Now to be fair, Robinson has criticized the overkill on Wright, too. But by participating in the endless loop of discussions and re-discussions on the issue that have been playing on MSNBC, literally from morning until Keith Olbermann saves the network from itself at 8 p.m. weeknights, he is helping to feed the beast, as are the very intelligent Rachel Maddow (who I like much better on TV than radio), and the Wright obsessed Joe Scarborough, Chris Matthews, Pat Buchanan and Dan Abrams.
MSNBC should be ashamed of themselves. It's as if there is literally nothing interesting to talk about in this political season besides Wright. They have milked this story for all its worth and then draining it some more. There is no more dog left to kick. Let's see if next week, the GE sideshow manages to move on. (To quote Herbert's column, "don't hold your breath.")
By the way, Frank Rich doesn't seem to turn up on the network much, either...
It is entirely fair for any voter to weigh Mr. Obama’s long relationship with his pastor in assessing his fitness for office. It is also fair to weigh Mr. Obama’s judgment in handling this personal and political crisis as it has repeatedly boiled over. But whatever that verdict, it is disingenuous to pretend that there isn’t a double standard operating here. If we’re to judge black candidates on their most controversial associates — and how quickly, sternly and completely they disown them — we must judge white politicians by the same yardstick.
When Rudy Giuliani, still a viable candidate, successfully courted Pat Robertson for an endorsement last year, few replayed Mr. Robertson’s greatest past insanities. Among them is his best-selling 1991 tome, “The New World Order,” which peddled some of the same old dark conspiracy theories about “European bankers” (who just happened to be named Warburg, Schiff and Rothschild) that Mr. Farrakhan has trafficked in. Nor was Mr. Giuliani ever seriously pressed to explain why his cronies on the payroll at Giuliani Partners included a priest barred from the ministry by his Long Island diocese in 2002 following allegations of sexual abuse. Much as Mr. Wright officiated at the Obamas’ wedding, so this priest officiated at (one of) Mr. Giuliani’s. Did you even hear about it?
There is not just a double standard for black and white politicians at play in too much of the news media and political establishment, but there is also a glaring double standard for our political parties. The Clintons and Mr. Obama are always held accountable for their racial stands, as they should be, but the elephant in the room of our politics is rarely acknowledged: In the 21st century, the so-called party of Lincoln does not have a single African-American among its collective 247 senators and representatives in Washington. Yes, there are appointees like Clarence Thomas and Condi Rice, but, as we learned during the Mark Foley scandal, even gay men may hold more G.O.P. positions of power than blacks.
A near half-century after the civil rights acts of the 1960s, this is quite an achievement. Yet the holier-than-thou politicians and pundits on the right passing shrill moral judgment over every Democratic racial skirmish are almost never asked to confront or even acknowledge the racial dysfunction in their own house. In our mainstream political culture, this de facto apartheid is simply accepted as an intractable given, unworthy of notice, and just too embarrassing to mention aloud in polite Beltway company. Those who dare are instantly accused of “political correctness” or “reverse racism.”
An all-white Congressional delegation doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the legacy of race cards that have been dealt since the birth of the Southern strategy in the Nixon era. No one knows this better than Mr. McCain, whose own adopted daughter of color was the subject of a vicious smear in his party’s South Carolina primary of 2000.
This year Mr. McCain has called for a respectful (i.e., non-race-baiting) campaign and has gone so far as to criticize (ineffectually) North Carolina’s Republican Party for running a Wright-demonizing ad in that state’s current primary. Mr. McCain has been posing (awkwardly) with black people in his tour of “forgotten” America. Speaking of Katrina in New Orleans, he promised that “never again” would a federal recovery effort be botched on so grand a scale.
This is all surely sincere, and a big improvement over Mitt Romney’s dreams of his father marching with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Up to a point. Here, too, there’s a double standard. Mr. McCain is graded on a curve because the G.O.P. bar is set so low.
Good news and bad news for Democrats in Louisiana House race
The good news for Democrats is that yet another Republican House seat changed hands yesterday, as a long-held Louisiana House seat switched to the D column. The bad news, is that to win the seat, the candidate had to put miles of distance between himself and the party's potential standard-bearer:
Don Cazayoux, a state representative, defeated Woody Jenkins, a small-newspaper publisher and former legislator long associated with religious-right causes in Louisiana, by 49 percent to 46 percent, in a tight race for a seat left open by the retirement of Richard Baker, a Republican.
Mr. Cazayoux portrayed himself as little different from Mr. Jenkins on social issues, overcoming the Republicans’ depiction of him as a “liberal” in lock step with figures like the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Barack Obama, who shared billing with him in a barrage of Republican attack advertisements.
...Mr. Cazayoux, a low-key member of the State House and a former prosecutor, fit the conservative model Democrats deployed successfully in the 2006 elections when they took seats from Republicans. He was close to Mr. Jenkins on social issues like abortion and guns; he spoke approvingly of Senator John McCain; he rarely if ever mentioned the Democratic presidential candidates; and he suggested he would buck his party if the district’s interests seemed to call for it.
Mr. Jenkins and the Republicans, on the other hand, sought to tie Mr. Cazayoux to his party’s national standard-bearers at every opportunity, especially Ms. Pelosi. Television advertisements paired Mr. Cazayoux with Mr. Obama, and called him a “liberal” — a description that fit uneasily with Mr. Cazayoux’s voting record in the State House of Representatives. He raised nearly twice as much money as his Republican rival, his fund-raising bolstered by Congressional Democrats eager to take the seat.
Lesson for the Dems: a "50 state strategy" won't work in November. There are clearly places -- mainly in the old, Republican South, where Barack won't be able to help candidates win, and where instead, he (with Rev. Wright and all the other media/talk radio driven drivel) will be used against Democrats. Of course, the Louisiana race proves the tactic won't always work, but Team Obama would be wise to pick a running mate who would be more useful in parts of the country outside the South, where the southern political model will be in play (I'm thinking rural Pennsylvania, Ohio and the like, since the Dems aren't winning back the South -- not this year, and certainly not with a black candidate, though Virginia could be an exception, giving the changing demographics there. Outside of that state, the South isn't THAT evolved...)
Okay, not to get too deep or eerie about it, but the political season is routinely described as a horse race ... and wasn't this the horse Senator Clinton told her robots to bet on in the Kentucky Derby?
Both came here chasing history and hinting at greatness. Big Brown was unbeaten and trying to become the first horse in 93 years to win the Kentucky Derby after three lifetime races. Eight Belles, a filly, had ticked off four victories, emboldening her owner to run her against the boys in America’s greatest horse race.
When Big Brown entered the stretch, seemingly finding a gear seen only on sci-fi rocket ships, the 157,000 here to celebrate thoroughbred racing, had their breath taken away by the big colt’s dazzling burst. When Eight Belles broke from the pack to give determined chase, many checked their programs, “Was that really the filly?”
Big Brown hit the wire nearly five lengths ahead of Eight Belles, but moments later, there was heartbreak. While Kent Desormeaux was galloping out Big Brown, Eight Belles fell.
She had fractured both of her front ankles, said the Derby’s on-call veterinarian, Dr. Larry Bramlage, and was euthanized on the racetrack.
What's the name of the NFL team from Indiana, again...?
Eight Belles’s death is bound to raise new questions about the safety of traditional dirt tracks like Churchill’s and lead to second-guessing over whether a filly, which usually runs against other fillies, should have competed against colts.
And the metaphors just keep coming!
Against 19 rivals, Big Brown was trying to become the first horse since the filly Regret in 1915 to pull into Churchill Downs solightly raced and leave a Derby champion. ...
“He truly was in a gallop to the quarter pole,” Desormeaux said. “No distractions. No alterations in course. Just slide over.”
Ahead of him, Bob Black Jack, Cowboy Cal and Recapturetheglory were leading the charge, but were hardly setting a challenging pace as the half mile went in 1:11.04. In the clubhouse, Dutrow and Big Brown’s co-owner Michael Iavarone were puzzled.
“Is he too far back?” Iavarone asked Dutrow.
... Desormeaux, however, was unconcerned as he sat atop a colt that repeatedly has given him goose bumps, something his previous Derby winners, Real Quiet in 1998 and Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000, had never been able to do.
“He was just galloping, floppy eared, off the bridle, cruising,” he said. “I just left him alone and let him canter until I needed him.”
As they entered the far turn, Desormeaux nudged Big Brown ever so slightly.
“Whoosh,” is how Desormeaux described his colt’s reaction.
It was too early, however, to unleash him. Desormeaux let Big Brown pull him like a water skier around the far turn. Cowboy Cal, Recapturetheglory, Cool Coal Man — all disappeared behind him. “Big Brown just kicked in the afterburners,” said Recapturetheglory’s rider, E. T. Baird.
Only Eight Belles had anything left in her tank to give chase. Her rider, Gabriel Saez, took aim at Big Brown and Desormeaux, and with a quarter-mile to run in the mile-and-a-quarter race got within two and a half lengths. Suddenly, however, Big Brown picked up speed and bounded away.
There was plenty of discussion afterward about whether Big Brown was talented enough to become the 12th Triple Crown champion. It has been 30 years since Affirmed swept the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, and horsemen and horse lovers have been longing to crown another great champion. ...
I mean it's not perfect. Obama is in his sixth lifetime race (three successful runs for the Illinois Senate, one failed Congressional run, one successful U.S. Senate run and the current run for president) not his third. He's not all that big (though he is tall, and he is brown...) and Obama didn't pick his horses all that well. He chose a horse called Colonel John to win and predicted Big Brown would come in third (show). Although something tells me his advisors weren't keen on him putting his name behind anything called "Big Brown..." if you know what I'm sayin...
If ultimately, the race for president proves to be too much for Bill's little filly, and she eventually, kicking and screaming all the way, clawing at the chamber door, throws in the towel, there'll be some solace for her legions of older white ladies, beer drinking rural folk and other assorted Clintonistas, and it comes from this racing fan:
James Clemons, 58, a machine operator, was in line waiting to cash his $2 bet to place on Eight Belles, a ticket worth $10.60, when he heard about her death.
“Oh, man,” he said, beginning to choke up. “She’s one of the best fillies around. She showed she could run with the boys.”
...and she beat 'em up real good, too... R.I.P. Eight Belles.
"No, no, I was talking about that we had fought the Gulf War for several reasons," McCain told reporters.
One reason was Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, he said. "But also we didn't want him to have control over the oil, and that part of the world is critical to us because of our dependency on foreign oil, and it's more important than any other part of the world," he said.
"If the word `again' was misconstrued, I want us to remove our dependency on foreign oil for national security reasons, and that's all I mean," McCain said.
"The Congressional Record is very clear: I said we went to war in Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction," he said.
Oh, well that clears that up. I mean, all the WMD we found in Iraq and all...
Kids! Grandpa's had another senior moment! At a town hall meeting today, he essentially conceded the point that the Iraq war was over oil. Crooks and Liars has the video, which includes Chris Matthews talking about something other than Jeremiah Wright, and here's the quote:
“My friends, I will have an energy policy which will eliminate our dependence on oil from Middle East that will then prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East.”
My friends, I wonder if tomorrow, Grampy might admit that we've become the world's first Western torture democracy?
We have officially entered the Twilight Zone. The Clinton camp has cozied up to the right wing media, including Fox News, they've been blessed by Richard Melon Scaife, and they've adopted every sleazy campaign tactic that has ever been used against them. Now this:
Yesterday in the Huffington Post, Sid Blumenthal, a close friend and advisor of Hillary Clinton who has been widely credited with coining the term "vast right-wing conspiracy" used by Hillary in 1998 to describe the alliance of conservative media, think tanks, and political operatives that sought to destroy the Clinton White House, appears to be exploiting that same right-wing network to attack and discredit Barack Obama. And he's not hesitating to use the same sort of guilt-by-association tactics that have been the hallmark of the political right dating back to the McCarthy era. Blumenthal regularly dispatches emails to a list of opinion shapers, including journalists, former Clinton administration officials, academics, policy entrepreneurs, and think tankers -- an obvious effort to create an echo chamber that will reverberate among talk shows, columnists, and Democratic Party funders and activists.
Almost every day over the past six months, I have been the recipient of an email that attacks Obama's character, political views, electability, and real or manufactured associations. The original source of many of these hit pieces are virulent and sometimes extreme right-wing websites, bloggers, and publications. But they aren't being emailed out from some fringe right-wing group that somehow managed to get my email address. Instead, it is Sidney Blumenthal who, on a regular basis, methodically dispatches these email mudballs to an influential list of opinion shapers -- including journalists, former Clinton administration officials, academics, policy entrepreneurs, and think tankers -- in what is an obvious attempt to create an echo chamber that reverberates among talk shows, columnists, and Democratic Party funders and activists. One of the recipients of the Blumenthal email blast, himself a Clinton supporter, forwards the material to me and perhaps to others.
These attacks sent out by Blumenthal, long known for his fierce and combative loyalty to the Clintons, draw on a wide variety of sources to spread his Obama-bashing. Some of the pieces are culled from the mainstream media and include some reasoned swipes at Obama's policy and political positions.
To cite just one recent example, Blumenthal circulated an article taken from the fervently hard-right AIM website on February 18 entitled, "Obama's Communist Mentor" by Cliff Kincaid. Kincaid is a right-wing writer and activist, a longtime critic of the United Nations, whose group, America's Survival, has been funded by foundations controlled by conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife, the same millionaire who helped fund attacks on the Clintons during their White House years. Scaife also funds AIM, the right-wing media "watchdog" group.
The Kincaid article that Blumenthal circulated sought to discredit Obama by linking him to an African-American poet and writer whom Obama knew while he was in high school in Hawaii. That writer, Frank Marshall Davis, was, Kincaid wrote, a member of the Communist Party. Supported by no tangible evidence, Kincaid claimed that Obama considered his relationship to Davis to be "almost like a son." In his memoir, Dreams from My Father, Obama wrote about meeting, during his teenage years, a writer named "Frank" who "had some modest notoriety once" and with whom he occasionally discussed poetry and politics. From this snippet, Kincaid weaves an incredulous tale that turns Davis into Obama's "mentor."
Kincaid's piece had been previously circulating within the right-wing blogosphere, but Blumenthal sought to inject the story into more respectable opinion circles by amplifying it in his email blast. ...
Scary stuff. And there's a lot more in the piece. It will be interesting to see how, or if, Camp Clinton (or Mr. Blumenthal himself,) responds. Clearly, the only lesson that the Clintons learned from their experience in the 1990s, is how to do the dirt that was done to them, and to be willing to do it to one of their own.
While grabbing links for the previous post, I noticed something that hadn't caught my attention before, for some reason. I knew that Jeb Bush was an original signer of the Project for a New American Century's "statement of principles," back in 1999, but there's another name on the list that I hadn't taken note of before: Dan Quayle, the dim-witted former vice president under George Bush I. How did his name get on the list of something called a "think" tank? He was probably asked to sign on by his former chief of staff, Bill Kristol, who co-founded the PNAC with fellow McCain adviser Robert Kagan.
Like other neoconservatives Frank Gaffney Jr. and Elliott Abrams, Kristol worked for hawkish Democratic Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson. But by 1976, he became a Republican. he served as chief of staff to Education Secretary William Bennett during the Reagan administration and chief of staff to former Vice President Dan Quayle during the George H. W. Bush presidency.
And let's not forget who Elliot Abrams is:
In 1991, Abrams pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress about the Iran-Contra affair. President George H. W. Bush pardoned him in 1992. In 1980, he married Rachel Decter, daughter of neocon veterans Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter.
I think it's safe to say that Junior isn't the only Bush who has found himself in the thrall of the neoconservatives. They have hovered around all three Bushes. George was just the one who implemented their policies in the most screwed up fashion. You could argue that the Iran-Contra affair was a neocon project, and if you believe Ronald Reagan's contemporaneous denials (he did beat back the neocons as long as he could -- they would have had him go to war with the U.S.S.R.) that operation may have emerged from the vice president's office. Bush I went to war against Saddam on the dubious provocation of Kuwait, which makes you wonder what noises were coming out of his vice president's office, where Kristol was probably Quayle's brain, in much the way Rove was for Dubya. And now we have Iraq War II.
Makes you wonder... clearly, these guys are effective at influencing the powerful. Makes you shudder all over again just thinking about a McCain presidency...
I think it's pretty evident to anyone who's paying attention that John McCain is down to doing anything, short of literally dropping to his knees and becoming Monica Lewinsky to whatever Republican would have him, to get into the White House. He has switched positions on nearly every issue that could be said to be a onetime core belief: tax cuts for the rich in a time of war, immigration (he reversed his support for his own bill...) even torture (not to mention the whole "against the King holiday, for the King holiday thing...) So it should come as no surprise that McCain's views on a longterm occupation of Iraq might be, how shall we say, fluid, as well:
When it comes to getting U.S. troops out of Iraq, Sen. John McCain was for the idea before he was against it.
Three years before the Arizona Republican argued on the campaign trail that U.S. forces could be in Iraq for 100 years in the absence of violence, he decried the very concept of a long-term troop presence.
In fact, when asked specifically if he thought the U.S. military should set up shop in Iraq along the lines of what has been established in post-WWII Germany or Japan -- something McCain has repeatedly advocated during the campaign -- the senator offered nothing short of a categorical "no."
"I would hope that we could bring them all home," he said on MSNBC. "I would hope that we would probably leave some military advisers, as we have in other countries, to help them with their training and equipment and that kind of stuff."
Host Chris Matthews pressed McCain on the issue. "You've heard the ideological argument to keep U.S. forces in the Middle East. I've heard it from the hawks. They say, keep United States military presence in the Middle East, like we have with the 7th Fleet in Asia. We have the German...the South Korean component. Do you think we could get along without it?"
McCain held fast, rejecting the very policy he urges today. "I not only think we could get along without it, but I think one of our big problems has been the fact that many Iraqis resent American military presence," he responded. "And I don't pretend to know exactly Iraqi public opinion. But as soon as we can reduce our visibility as much as possible, the better I think it is going to be."
The January 2005 comments, which have not surfaced previously during the presidential campaign, represent a stunning contrast to McCain's current rhetoric.
They also run squarely against his image as having a steadfast, unwavering idea for U.S. policy in Iraq -- and provide further evidence to those, including some prominent GOP foreign policy figures in the "realist" camp, who believe McCain is increasingly adopting policies shared by neoconservatives. ...[Sam Stein, the Huffington Post]
"When our Secretary of Defense says that it is up to the Iraqi people to defeat the Baathists and terrorists, we send a message that America's exit from Iraq is ultimately more important than the achievement of American goals in Iraq. We send a signal to every Iraqi - ally, neutral and adversary - that the United States is more interested in leaving than we are in winning."
"The United States will fail in Iraq if our adversaries believe they can outlast us. If our troop deployment schedules are more important than our staying power, we embolden our enemies and make it harder for our friends to take risks on our behalf. When the United States announces a schedule for training and deploying Iraqi security officers, then announces the acceleration of that schedule, then accelerates it again, it sends a signal of desperation, not certitude…. When we do this as our forces are coming under increasing attack, we suggest to friends and allies alike that our ultimate goal in Iraq is leaving as soon as possible - not meeting our strategic objective of building a free and democratic country in the heart of the Arab world."
"There can be little political or economic progress in Iraq until the United States creates a stable and secure environment there. Prematurely placing the burden of security on Iraqis is not the answer. Hastily trained Iraqi security forces cannot be expected to accomplish what U.S. forces have not yet succeeded in doing: defeating the Baathists and international terrorists inside Iraq. It is irresponsible to suggest that it is up to Iraqis to win this war."
In that same speech, which was praised by the PNAC crowd, McCain called for feeding more U.S. Marines and soldiers into the Iraqi grinder.
So while I like the idea of calling McCain on stuff like this, and think it will make great 527 fodder ... if we ever get an anti-McCain 527 ... the danger with McCain is not that he doesn't really mean it when he says 100 years, it's that he DOES.
House Democratic Whip James Clyburn stays feisty, with some new verbal ammo, this time aimed at Jeremiah Wright:
"I have a daughter the same age as Barack Obama," said Clyburn, the most senior African American in Congress. "I've tried to provide shoulders for her to stand on. And I was absolutely saddened when it became clear to me Rev. Wright, rather than providing a shoulder for his parishioner to stand on, was engaged in some kind of knee-capping operation. That's not the kind of anatomical analogy we ought to be involved in."
He took particular umbrage with Wright's suggestion that attacks on him were attacks on the black church, writ large. But, said Clyburn, if Wright had done grievous damage to Obama, the candidate would not have picked up the endorsements over the past two days from former Democratic Party chief Joe Andrew or Rep. Baron Hill, who represents a conservative district in Southern Indiana.
"Just because one sets out to do damage doesn't mean it will be successful," Clyburn said. "I don't think it was successful."
Meanwhile, a NYT story on Indianapolis voters offers a telling insight into the minds of upscale Hoosier voters, and their projection of the attitudes of their downscale brethren:
INDIANAPOLIS — In the cafes, gift stores and the gourmet dog biscuit shop in this city’s neighborhood of Broad Ripple Village, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.’s name draws all sorts of responses — sighs, rolling eyes, laughter, grim silence.
But many people, like Clyde H. Crockett, a retired law professor who was sipping a drink in a coffee shop here on Thursday, said his thoughts about Mr. Wright would have no bearing on his decision — still unfinished — about whom to vote for in Indiana’s Democratic primary on Tuesday.
“Why should it?” Mr. Crockett said. “No one should be tainted because of Reverend Wright.”
The shoppers in Broad Ripple and in the neighborhoods nearby reflect a demographic group — mostly white, highly educated, professional, artsy, relatively well-off, politically independent — that has leaned toward Senator Barack Obama in other states and one that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton will hope to gain an edge with here, in a state that polls show as almost evenly split.
But in interviews here on Thursday, voters said Mr. Wright’s highly publicized comments and the responses and echoes that have followed had had little bearing on them.
Supporters of both Democratic candidates said that they did not think the Wright episode should change the race but said, again and again, that they feared it might in other, less cosmopolitan areas of Indiana where they thought people might be searching for some acceptable explanation for not voting for a black candidate.
Mr. Crockett, who said he was leaning ever so slightly toward Mr. Obama over Mrs. Clinton, his wife’s preferred candidate, said he worried that Mr. Obama’s ties to his former pastor could harm him among voters in the far southern part of the state, the small towns, the more conservative enclaves.
“I think Reverend Wright will give a lot of people an excuse not to vote for Obama,” Mr. Crockett said. “They’re looking for an excuse, and this will be it.” ...
And as they say, "as goes Indiana..."
UPDATE: Okay, I know I called this post the "Clyburn smackdown," but way to go John Kerry, smacking down MSNBC the other day!
Babwa Wawters reveals she nearly created a little Barack Obama of her own, back in the day:
NEW YORK (AP) — After three decades of keeping mum, Barbara Walters now says she had a past affair with married U.S. Senator Edward Brooke, whom she remembers as "exciting" and "brilliant."
Appearing on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" scheduled to air Tuesday, Walters shares details of her relationship with Brooke that lasted several years in the 1970s, according to a transcript of the show provided to The Associated Press.
A moderate Republican from Massachusetts who took office in 1967, Brooke was the first African-American to be popularly elected to the Senate. Both he and Walters knew that public knowledge of their affair could have ruined his career as well as hers, Walters says.
At the time, the twice-divorced Walters was a rising star in TV news and co-host of NBC's "Today" show, but would soon jump to ABC News, where she has enjoyed unrivaled success. Her affair with Brooke, which never before came to light, had ended before he lost his bid for a third term in 1978.
Brooke later divorced, and has since remarried. Calls to a listing for Brooke in Miami by The Associated Press were not immediately returned Thursday.
Walters is the guest of Oprah Winfrey to discuss her new memoir, "Audition," which covers her long career in television, as well as her off-camera life. On "Oprah," Walters recounts a phone call from a friend who urged her to stop seeing Brooke.
"He said, 'This is going to come out. This is going to ruin your career,'" then reminded her that Brooke was up for re-election a year later. "'This is going to ruin him. You've got to break this off.'"
Winfrey asks Walters if she was in love.
"I was certainly — I don't know — I was certainly infatuated."
"I was certainly involved," Walters says. "He was exciting. He was brilliant. It was exciting times in Washington." ...
Death at the trailer park. So-called "D.C. madam" found dead of apparent suicide.
Jeane Palfrey, a 50-something woman who became better known to the world as the "D.C. Madam," who pimped women to the powerful, including Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter, and Randal Tobias of the Bush State Department (plus guys from NASA, the U.S. Military, and the International Monetary Fund), was found dead in a utility shed behind her mother's Tarpon Springs, Florida trailer home. Leaving aside questions about what she was doing with her prostitution money (apparently not buying her mother a new house,) suspicions now hang over the apparent cause of death: suicide. (Ironically enough, one of her former employees killed herself in January...)
TIME reports that a man who Palfrey approached to help her write a book says she told him she would commit suicide before going back to prison.
Palfrey's trial had threatened to bring down a number of prominent Republicans on the Hill. Now that she won't be sentenced, she won't be talking, releasing that hot ticket client list of hers, or writing that book, either. Just sayin'...
Let the conspiracy theories begin. Wikipedia offers links to a tantalizing start:
She wrote in August 1991 following an attempt to bring her to trial,"If taken into custody, my physical safety and most probably my very life would be jeopardized, rape, beating, maiming, disfigurement and more than likely murder disguised in the form of just another jailhouse accident or suicide would await me," said Palfrey in a handwritten letter to the judge accusing the San Diego police vice squad of having a vendetta against her.
"No I'm not planning to commit suicide," Palfrey told The Alex Jones Show on her last appearance, "I'm planning on going into court and defending myself vigorously and exposing the government," she said.
Here we go. At least on the left end of the spectrum, Jeane Palfrey just became the right's Vince Foster.
Economists weigh in on the Clinton-McCain gas tax holiday plan and give it the thumbs down:
Backing up Obama's position against Clinton's proposal to suspend the 18.4-cent-per-gallon tax for the summer is a slew of economists who argue that the proposal, first offered by Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, would be counterproductive. They argue that cutting the tax would drive up demand for gas at a time when the supply is tight, which would mean that the price at the pump would drop by much less than 18 cents per gallon.
The tax suspension would, as a result, cut into the highway trust fund that the tax supports, a loss of about $9 billion over the summer, but also result in fatter profit margins for oil companies. Clinton says she would replace the lost revenue by raising taxes on the oil industry.
Harvard professor N. Gregory Mankiw, who has written a best-selling textbook on economics, said what he teaches is different from what Clinton and McCain are saying about gas taxes. "What you learn in Economics 101 is that if producers can't produce much more, when you cut the tax on that good the tax is kept . . . by the suppliers and is not passed on to consumers," he said.
He anticipates the Clinton campaign "will use the same words and the same language to attack me that Republicans used to attack me when I was DNC chair and I was defending Bill Clinton."
"I say this as a longtime participant in old politics," he says. "I've sparred with everyone from Lee Atwater to Karl Rove."
Andrew points out that he was in charge during a rather tumultuous time for the party — during impeachment and the Florida recount.
"The same words will come out of the [Clinton campaign's] surrogates' mouths to attack me that the Republicans used — and that demonstrates the very hypocrisy of the old politics," he says. "We need to unite the party. You can actually be for someone without being against someone else."
For all the talk of Barack Obama turning the corner following his vehement denunciation of Rev. Jeremiah Wright this week, the poor mainstream media is still trying to suck the last, fainting whisps of breath out of what has been, for them, a blockbuster ratings grabber.
MSNBC devoted a full day -- no joke -- to agonizing over the Wright aftermath. CNN did better, which is why I got my actual news from them yesterday. This morning on "Morning Joe," the team tried to wring some news value out of the clips of the Obamas answering a SINGLE QUESTION about Wright, out of what I must imagine were dozens, on the trail yesterday, and a fleeting moment of Wright drama with Meredith Vieira on "The Today Show."
It's almost pitiful, watching the press try and extend the life of this very dead story. Poor Pat Buchanan seemed lonely and apoplectic yesterday, all but calling for a media black-in, meaning his pals at MSBNC must continue to cover Wright every day to the exclusion of all else, including the scintillating question of WHY BARACK OBAMA DIDN'T DO HIS DISTANCING ACT SOOOONER! Robert Novak pitches in to help his friends in the GOP, too, and David Broder, also at the WaPo, does his usual "both sides of the fence" agonizing. (Chuck Todd went off the reservation yesterday, reporting that GOPers he's talking to are lamenting the fact that the Wright issue might be "off the table for the general election," having peaked too soon, and been foreclosed by Obama's angry reaction to Wright's grandstanding.
Meanwhile, the New York Times throws one more Wright Hail Mary pass this morning, digging deep, deep into the Obama-Wright split with this actually quite well done piece:
Late Monday night, in the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, N.C., Barack Obama’s long, slow fuse burned to an end. Earlier that day he had thumbed through his BlackBerry, reading accounts of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.’s latest explosive comments on race and America. But his remarks to the press this day had amounted to a shrug of frustration.
Only in this hotel room, confronted with the televised replay of the combustible pastor, did the candidate realize the full import of the remarks, his aides say. At the same time, aides fielded phone calls and e-mail from uncommitted superdelegates, several demanding that the candidate speak out more forcefully.
As Mr. Obama told close friends after watching the replay, he felt dumbfounded, even betrayed, particularly by Mr. Wright’s implication that Mr. Obama was being hypocritical. He could not tolerate that.
The next afternoon, Mr. Obama held a news conference and denounced his former pastor’s views as “divisive and destructive,” giving “comfort to those who prey on hate.” And so, with those remarks, a tightly knit relationship finally came apart — Mr. Wright had married Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, and baptized their children.
Theirs was a long and painful falling out, marked by a degree of mutual incomprehension, friends and aides say. It began at the moment Mr. Obama declared his candidacy, when he abruptly uninvited his pastor from delivering an invocation, injuring the older man’s pride and fueling his anger. ...
... As for Mr. Wright, he saw a cascade of perceived slights coming from the campaign of a bright young follower whose political ambitions were tugging him away from Trinity United Church of Christ. He saw the church he had founded coming under pressure from reporters and critics, forced to hire security guards. And he made no secret of whom he blamed: Mr. Obama’s political adviser, David Axelrod, a white Chicago political operative.
Not to be outdone, The Hill reports on Capitol Hill reaction to the media obsession crucial issue of Rev. Wright:
Lawmakers supporting Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) say they have no fears about a backlash against Democrats or their candidate because of the controversial remarks by Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), an Obama supporter whose state has a key primary Tuesday, said he’s not worried: “African-Americans I’ve talked to feel it’s imperative for him to distance himself from Rev. Wright.” ...
... Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), suggest worries behind the scenes about the re-emergence of Wright are more serious. After coming off the floor Tuesday night, Cleaver said an Obama supporter had just told him, “We’re scared to death.”
Cleaver has a unique perspective. He’s a black preacher himself, and a supporter of Clinton’s. He worries that white voters will be angered by Wright’s remarks, and that black voters will be put off by Obama’s rejection of his onetime spiritual leader.
“I don’t think there is a way out of this,” Cleaver said. “If African-Americans are convinced that Obama was treated fairly, they will come out. If not, we will lose the black vote for two decades — the young black vote.”
But other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including prominent Obama supporters, aren’t so worried.
“I think Sen. Obama said everything he needed to say,” said Butterfield, who has been tapped by the Obama campaign to help deal with the uproar over Wright’s remarks. This weekend he’ll be making appearances and doing interviews in his home state to help put distance between Obama and Wright. ...
Back in Barack's home state, the Chicago Tribune appears to have tired of the Wright story, and the Sun-Times goes with an AP wire story -- signs that for some newspapers, the Wright story is finally losing its sexiness.
Not so for the cable news folks, especially at MSNBC, and I'm assuming, Fox News. They'll try to drag the Wright story into the weekend if they can, and if possible, beyond. But as Lawrence O'Donnell said on MSNBC Tuesday night, after Obama's definitive statements on the matter, any news outlet that continues to try and cover the Wright story ought to examine its motives.
The drama continues at my former employer. I just got it from a very good source that Lee Michaels, the former regional PD (and my one-time nemesis) has been fired (there goes your meal ticket, D...) It's not in the trades yet, but I'm not surprised. His corporate counterpart Zemira Jones, took a walk a couple of months ago.
Apparently, the company finally managed to sell its L.A. station, (then called KKBT - 100.3 The Beat, now called V100, and the station that used to employ Steve Harvey, before the Radio One folks kicked him to the curb, allegedly over remarks he made about Cathy Hughes as she sat in the audience for the BET Comedy Awards, which he was hosting. The station, which with Harvey had the number one show in the market, promptly went in the tank after that, and in 2005, Harvey jumped to Clear Channel. The rest, as they say, is history...(Cliffs Notes version: he's really, really successful...) for $137.5 million (they bought it for an eye-popping $400 million in 1999, so I'm not sure if the selling price is the good news or the bad news.) Interestingly enough, they sold the station to a religious outfit -- in this case a Mormon broadcasting company -- much like they did with our station, WTPS here in Miami...) Not everybody was feeling the move:
... one of its own the outspoken and candid Baisden took difference to yet another Black station being sold to a White owned establishment during his show on Tuesday, but before his listeners could hear his comments he was silenced by music.
No comment. I wouldn't want to be silenced by music or anything...
And yet, even as the company continues to shed stations, they've now decided to launch yet another cable TV network, on top of the ... well ... on top of TV One.
Stock quote at the open: a cool buck. Can I sell now, or should I just hold onto my handful of shares out of nostalgia?