Watching Sheila Jackson Lee tonight in her role as Hillary flak on MSNBC, and even watching the supposedly "neutral" Al Sharpton (he has never been an Obama fan, I'll just leave it at that...) I can't help feel a bit sorry for the Black Clinton surrogates and supporters. The elected officials and clergy who have backed her, on the basis of Bill, now look short sighted (or like haters). As John Conyers put it in an interview with TNR:
"To me, there's a historical consideration in this as well," Conyers says. "How in the world could I explain to people I fought for civil rights and equality, then we come to the point where an African American of unquestioned capability has a chance to become president and I said, 'No, I have dear old friends I've always supported, who I've always liked.' What do you tell your kids?"
Worse, for the elected officials, their constituents don't appear to be paying much attention to them. Here in Florida, Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton among Black voters 73%-25% according to the exit polls, with Blacks beating their percentage of the population (14%) by making up 19% of the electorate -- this despite the fact that all three Black congressmen from Florida (Alcee Hastings, Kendrick Meek and Corinne Brown) are with Hillary.
It seems unfair to say that Black elected officials and public personalities should feel pressured to support Obama because he is Black. But as Conyers said, it becomes difficult to justify when Obama is, beyond being Black, so inspirational and aspirational a candidate, for so many Americans -- Black and White.
And to add to the irony, the pressure on Black folk to support Obama now stands in stark contrast to a year ago, when I was defending Barack on the air against constant attacks from Black radio listeners (and from my P.D. at the time, Coz Carson) because Barack "wasn't Black enough," has no family history of slavery, and never fought in the trenches of the civil rights movement with Al Sharpton and others. It was that ambivalence, exemplified by Tavis Smiley, and for awhile, by Cornell West (who has since endorsed Barack) -- that represents the other part of the Obama conundrum: Blacks didn't embrace him until he showed them he could win a nearly all-white state (Iowa), and the more Blacks embrace him, the more he risks losing his essential charm for White folk: the fact that he is not a creature of the second generation of the civil rights movement (or as some Whites put it, he doesn't have a chip on his shoulder.) From Salon earlier this month:
As Obama's campaign got started, black media juggernaut Tavis Smiley exemplified the black community's lukewarm response, declaring, "There is not a black groundswell ... saying 'Run, Obama, Run.'" He pinpointed Obama's lack of common history with other black Americans as part of what made people of color skeptical about him, because he did not have a "long-standing relationship with the black community." Around the same time, prominent black intellectual Cornel West criticized Obama for beginning his campaign in Springfield, Ill. (which he implied is a predominantly white community), instead of at Smiley's State of Black America conference. Like Smiley, Debra J. Dickerson, writing in Salon, described Obama as "not black" in part because his biography does not include the legacy of slavery.
On that note, it will be interesting to see if Barack chooses to attend the State of the Black Union conference this year. I hear Tavis had some chilly words for him today on the Tom Joyner show (I didn't hear it), and Roland Martin is advising Barack to skip the conference (again.) If he goes, he takes the risk of stepping closer to the kind of Black issues and identity that turn many Whites off. If he doesn't go, he risks being pushed away again by the Black intelligentsia. But then, who's listening to them (or their counterparts in White, conservative talk radio) these days, anyway?
Why do Democrats divide up their delegates proportionally, rather than awarding them in "winner take all" fashion, like the Republicans? I heard this one tonight on "The Tim Russert Show" so I can't take credit (the reporter was ... damn, can't remember ... not Roger Simon, not Dan Balz, not David Brooks ... the other guy who was on with them...) but The Explainer can:
Today's system for picking delegates didn't emerge until the last few decades. For much of the 20th century, delegates were selected through a mix of state primaries, caucuses, and internal party decisions. Then, in 1968, Hubert Humphrey won the presidential nomination over Eugene McCarthy even though McCarthy had received the largest share of votes in the primaries.* A huge outcry followed, and eventually a commission led by George McGovern established rules calling for Democratic delegates to be selected in open primaries. The Republican Party later adopted similar rules.
The rules changed again after Jesse Jackson charged in 1988 that he would have won more delegates if the party had divvied up delegates in proportion to the votes he received. In 1992, the Democratic Party instituted rules for proportional distribution of delegates in all states.
Thanks, Jesse... No, actually it's a fascinating history that speaks to the party's ongoing struggle with how to pick a candidate without back room engineering by the bosses, and it presages what could be our generation's version of the convention floor fight. Let's enter the wayback machine, and go back to the New York Times, circa May, 1988:
In a move that sets the stage for a potential fight over delegates at the Democratic National Convention, the Rev. Jesse Jackson's campaign plans to send a letter to Gov. Michael S. Dukakis charging that the nomination process is ''inequitable,'' ''demonstrably unfair'' and ''distorted by rules that favor insider politics.''
The letter, which is to be released Wednesday, is the first detailed account by the Jackson campaign about what it considers unfair party rules. A copy of a report to be attached to the letter was made available today to The New York Times.
The letter, which will also be sent to Paul G. Kirk Jr., the Democratic national chairman, was signed by Willie Brown, the California Assembly leader who is chairman of the Jackson campaign, Walter Fauntroy, the nonvoting Congressional delegate from the District of Columbia who is co-chairman of the campaign's delegate effort, and Steve Cobble, who runs the day-to-day delegate operations.
Calling the Massachusetts Governor's delegate lead over Mr. Jackson ''unproportional'' to their popular vote, the report says Mr. Dukakis has 61 percent more delegates than Mr. Jackson but only 27 percent more popular votes. CBS Delegate Count Cited
By removing party ''inequities,'' the Jackson campaign document says, ''over half of Michael Dukakis's delegate lead disappears.'' The campaign's frame of reference is a delegate count by CBS News on May 6 in which Mr. Dukakis had 1,485 delegates and Mr. Jackson 923. The number of Democratic delegates needed for nomination is 2,081.
Today, while campaigning in San Diego, Mr. Jackson disclosed that he was planning to visit Mexico sometime before the California primary on June 7 to discuss the narcotics and debt issues and United States-Mexico relations.
Aides to Mr. Jackson said the Presidential candidate had made no decision yet on whether he would formally challenge the party's rules and practices at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta on July 18-21.
Today, we're actually looking at a situation where a floor fight could still occur -- a situation where Barack Obama could go into the convention with more pledged delegates and still lose the nomination, or he could have more, but Hillary could push for the seating of Michigan and Florida -- in which case, do Black voters in those states want the delegates seated or unseated ...??? The possibilities are endlessly fascinating.
Oh, and one more piece of history: about that Jesse Jackson speech in '88 (the first presidential election I was able to vote in...) The prime time address, along with the proportional voting rules, were part of the price of keeping Jackson in the fold for the election, in which Michael Dukakis faced George Herbert Walker Bush. Here's a clip:
The only time that we win is when we come together. In 1960, John Kennedy, the late John Kennedy, beat Richard Nixon by only a hundred and twelve thousand votes - less than one vote per precinct. He won by the margin of our hope. He brought us together. He reached out. He had the courage to defy his advisors and inquire about Dr. King's jailing in Albany, Georgia. We won by the margin of our hope, inspired by courageous leadership. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson brought both wings together - the thesis, the antithesis, and the creative synthesis - and together we won. In 1976, Jimmy Carter unified us again, and we won. When we do not come together, we never win. In 1968, the vision and despair in July led to our defeat in November. In 1980, rancor in the spring and the summer led to Reagan in the fall. When we divide, we cannot win. We must find common ground as the basis for survival and development and change and growth.
Thompson is out of the presidential race. No shocker, there. He has done his job, and now will wait the opportunity to form the oldest, dullest presidential ticket in history, with his friend John McCain...
There, I said it. And not only are the Iowa caucuses an exercise in undemocratic, cliquish elitism and lily white gerontocracy, they're ridiculously complex, too, especially on the Democratic side. By the way, this is one upon which The Wall Street Journal and I agree.
CBS News' ratings also-ran Katie Couric apparently lightly grills the presidential contenders on whether an unfaithful spouse can make a faithful POTUS. Drudge has the alleged transcript. Best answer: Huckabee. Worst: Rudy. I mean, what's he gonna say...?
Clinton's senior advisers have grown convinced that the media deck is stacked against them, that their candidate is drawing far harsher scrutiny than Barack Obama. And at least some journalists agree.
"She's just held to a different standard in every respect," says Mark Halperin, Time's editor at large. "The press rooted for Obama to go negative, and when he did he was applauded. When she does it, it's treated as this huge violation of propriety." While Clinton's mistakes deserve full coverage, Halperin says, "the press's flaws -- wild swings, accentuating the negative -- are magnified 50 times when it comes to her. It's not a level playing field."
Newsweek's Howard Fineman says Obama's coverage is the buzz of the presidential campaign. "While they don't say so publicly because it's risky to complain, a lot of operatives from other campaigns say he's getting a free ride, that people aren't tough enough on Obama," Fineman says. "There may be something to that. He's the new guy, an interesting guy, a pathbreaker and trendsetter perhaps." ...
...Some reporters confess that they are enjoying Clinton's slippage, if only because it enlivens what had become a predictable narrative of her cruising to victory. The prospect of a newcomer knocking off a former first lady is one heck of a story.
Halperin, who surveys political news at Time.com's the Page, says: "Your typical reporter has a thinly disguised preference that Barack Obama be the nominee. The narrative of him beating her is better than her beating him, in part because she's a Clinton and in part because he's a young African American. . . . There's no one rooting for her to come back."
Traditional civil rights-era black leaders are treating Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, a presidential candidate, like strange fruit hanging from the ballot box, and it’s a crying shame.
You may recall the song, Strange Fruit, by Billie Holliday, which condemned racism, particularly the lynchings of African Americans in the South.
What black civil rights leaders are doing politically to Obama is nearly as bad.
Almost daily, these black leaders from yesteryear can be seen on national TV questioning Obama’s blackness, or explaining why he should not be running for president at all.
Others offer reasons why blacks should throw their support to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, a white female, instead of Obama, a black man. Still more question his experience, wonder aloud about his involvement in the black community, and lob subtle hints that his life experience has been, “too white.”
Such notions are not only unfair, but also painful to witness. These once-accomplished leaders embarrass themselves out of clear jealousy and fear. They are jealous of Obama’s past achievements and fearful of what else he might accomplish in a relatively short period.
Throughout the country, we have in the black community traditional, long-winded civil rights-era leaders who have a death grip on positions of social, political and community leadership. At a time when we are confronted with crippling issues like violence, AIDS, illiteracy, crime and drugs, we can no longer turn to this generation, or white folks, to address our needs.
Many of these leaders are on the other side of retirement age, and 1960s-era approaches will not solve these issues. We need a new generation to step forward.
But instead of grooming a younger generation or mentoring successors, these old-school leaders behave as if they will live forever. It is from this mindset that their indifference toward Obama is born.
They are the original “go to” negroes who believe everything must come through them, and that no one else can lead except them. The time has long since passed for them to let their people go…and assume the roles of mentors, advisors and disseminators of wisdom. Their time has passed.
The latest example of this comes from former U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young, a civil rights era icon, during a recent interview.
“Bill [Clinton] is every bit as black as Barack,’’ Young said. “He’s probably gone with more black women than Barack.” Later, he said he was just “clowning.’’
Continuing his shameless display of envy, Young went on to praise both former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Clinton, while piling on more excuses about why Obama should not be president.
“The thing about Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, they have grown up basically in the black community.”
“I want Barack Obama to be president…in 2016.”
“It’s not a matter of his being inexperienced. It’s a matter of being young.”
When examining Obama’s candidacy, one is hard pressed to legitimize those criticisms.
Nevertheless, his life story has brought to the forefront a long-simmering undercurrent of tension and growing resentment between civil rights-era black leaders and those of us born in the 1960s and 1970s. ...
Ouch! This one's officially buzzworthy here in South Florida. I've received links to it in my inbox about half a dozen times...
OK, a girl's got to have a day ... or ten ... off.
So what's been going on while I've been on birthday break?
The Republican race for president has actually become more interesting, while the Democratic race is becoming a bore. Yeah, yeah, there's Oprah and all, but since I don't watch Oprah, and I'm not in Iowa, or South Carolina (and thus didn't have one of those 18-zillion tickets to the O&O Show) I'd rather have a free basket of the grand lady's favorite things (without the taxes to pay, please.)
Meanwhile, a new CBS/NYT poll finds GOP voters even less excited by their race than I am about ours.
Democratic voters, on the whole, view their candidates considerably more favorably than Republican voters do, and are much more optimistic about their prospects next November. Mrs. Clinton is viewed favorably by 68 percent of Democrats, followed by Mr. Obama who is viewed favorably by 54 percent. Mr. Edwards is viewed favorably by just 36 percent.
By contrast, on the Republican side, Mr. Giuliani is viewed the most favorably by members of his party — and that is by only 41 percent. Mr. McCain is viewed favorably by 37 percent and Mr. Romney is viewed favorably by 36 percent. Mr. Huckabee is viewed favorably by 30 percent, but 42 percent said they didn’t know enough about him to say whether to offer a view of him, suggesting that he might be vulnerable to the kind of attacks that his opponents have already been raising against them.
Among Republicans, 76 percent of respondents said that they could still change their mind about who to support, compared with 23 percent who said their decision was firm. Among Democrats, 59 percent said they might change their mind.
Libby Bass, 67, a Republican poll respondent from Woodbine, Georgia, said in a follow-up interview that she was weary of hearing the Republicans argue with one another, and that she was not ready to make a decision. “They’re not telling us what their plans or goals are; they’re just mimicking each other,” she said. “I’m waiting to see if someone comes up with something that will change my mind.
And there is no clear leader among Republicans: Mr. Giuliani was the choice of 22 percent of respondents, Mr. Huckabee with 21 percent and Mr. Romney with 16 percent. Senator John McCain of Arizona and Fred Thompson of Tennessee each had 7 percent.
On the Democratic side, the leader, Mrs. Clinton, has the support of 44 percent of respondents, compared with 27 percent for Mr. Obama and just 11 percent for Mr. Edwards. The rest of the Democratic candidates drew 2 percent or lower.
A CBS News poll conducted in mid-October — which offered voters a choice only of Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards — found Mrs. Clinton with 51 percent, Mr. Obama with 23 percent and Mr. Edwards with 13 percent.
He's facing new scrutiny of his controversial push to pardon a rapist whose victim was Bill Clinton's second cousin ... mainly because he appears to have pandered to the worst elements inside Arkansas, who couldn't accept the word of anyone related to Bill Clinton that she was victimized, even when a jury did accept her word, and that of the police, and the forensics people ... you know, the people who investigate such things...
So much for Huck being the "nice" candidate.
Other excitement on the GOP side:
Apparently Mitt Romney is a super duper Christian ... who knew? And he'll work hard as president to root out the evils of secularism, wherever it rears its ugly head. He will not, however, and did not in his big speech last week, explain the magical underpants. Perhaps fellow Mormon Glenn Beck will step up to the plate on that one.
Tim Russert finally asked a lethal question of a Republican, on this Sunday's Meet the Press, after Sir Rudy of 9/11 attempted to blame the NYPD for Judy's official, taxpayer dog walking security force, saying it was they, and not he, who demanded that Rudy's gal pal get protection, and that poor Judy didn't even want it (the poor dear). To that, Russert asked this:
MR. RUSSERT: Using that reasoning, would it be appropriate for a president to provide Secret Service protection for his mistress?
Bingo. And here's Rudy's waaaaay too long answer:
MR. GIULIANI: It would not be appropriate to, to do it for that reason, Tim, and that isn’t, that, that isn’t the right way to—you know, that isn’t the right way to, to analyze it or to say this. The reason it’s done is because somebody threatens to do harm, and the people who assess it come to the conclusion that it is necessary to do this. The reality is that it all came about because of my public position, because of the fact that when people are public or celebrities these kinds of threats take place. And the New York City Police Department has rules; they applied the rules, they applied them in exactly the same way as they always apply them. I did not make the judgment. I didn’t ask for it. Judith didn’t particularly want it, but it was done because they took the view that it was serious and it had to be done this way. And it was done the way they wanted to do it.
In fact, when you get security like this—and many people think, you know, this is a great convenience. And, and this is not at all to suggest that I don’t have great respect for the processionals who do this. Honestly, Tim, I know how it gets played in the media. This is not something you would want. You would not want to have this security, because it is coming about because somebody has threatened to do terrible things to you or your family and professionals have evaluated it that way and feel you need the security. And you say to them, “Can I do this? Can I do that? Can I go here? Can I go there?” And they tell you, “No, you can’t.” So this is not something—I know how it gets played, but this is not something that anybody ever desires. I remember the first time it happened with me. I mean, the things that I liked to do, I couldn’t, I couldn’t do any more, because they would tell me “You can’t do it this way. You have to do it another way.”
Uh-huh... Here's the take from Tom DeFrank of the NYDN:
His explanation of Nathan's police car service doesn't square with Friday's Daily News exclusive report, citing multiple witnesses and a law enforcement source, that she was being protected by city taxpayers months before the affair was revealed in May 2000.
"The threats were after" their romance became known, Giuliani maintained Sunday. The only guest on Russert's "Meet the Press," Giuliani endured a withering examination of his personal character and business dealings.
To the glee of fellow presidential contenders, the Republican front-runner spent nearly an hour playing defense, attempting to deflect a flurry of questions about his relationship with indicted pal Bernard Kerik and Kerik's mistress Judith Regan, controversial corporate clients and his own tangled personal life.
"The baggage is finally starting to catch up with him," a neutral GOP consultant said.
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side of the aisle, the news is all ...
In all serioiusness, if Barack Obama's team can figure out a way to translate his pop culture wave into real votes, he has a damned good chance of getting the nomination. Hillary still has the machine, and the strongest ground team on the Democratic side, and honestly, new, "hype" voters are serially unreliable on election day, but if Barack can do what Howie Dean could not in 2004, he could pull off wins in Iowa and South Carolina, and seriously shake Hill's inevitability.
OK, the Dem race isn't all that boring. But its much more fun to watch the GOPers flail around, I must say.
Rhett Butler ... Slade Gorton ... men, real and fictional (you decide) ... with Harlequin Romance names and strong, manly jaws. Could Mitt Romney (nee Willard, but how romantic is that...?) join this pantheon of cheesy goodness?
Let's go to the polls...
The latest ABC/WaPo poll (Rasmussen is for suckers) shows the Mittster with incredible staying power, even with his Mormonic baggage.
Romney has a healthy lead in New Hampshire, with 37 percent (the highest I've seen any Republican score in any poll to date). And despite the fact that a whopping 6 in 10 voters served say they could still change their minds, Romney's lead is remarkable in that he leads in almost every category -- he's seen as having campaigned the hardest (50% say that), and he's trusted by most to handle the economy (44% to Rudy's 19%), the deficit (38% to Rudy's 18%), healthcare (37% to Rudy's 13%), taxes (37-17), abortion and gay civil unions (even with the flip-flop he's at 34% to 16% for Rudy and just 11% for Huckabee and 10% for McCain), immigration (even with the newly fired help from Tijuana, he's up 34-19 over NY Snidely Whiplash...) and, Rudy's gonna hate this, he ties with Rudy for trust on Iraq (though McCain beats them both at 36%). The only place Rudy beates Mitt in terms of trust by NH Republicans is on terrorism, where Snidely ties with McCain at 31% and Mitt gets 17%.
And while Mitt gets dealt with by Huckabee in Iowa among religious conservatives, he beats the Huckster across the board with religious voters in New Hampshire. The lesson may be that Republicans in New Hampshire are an entirely different sort than the religous nuts ... I mean conservates... of Iowa (where 80% of Republicans actually think GWB is doing a fine job as president...)
The bad news for Huck is that he may well win Iowa, but he will face a Mitt-style roadblock in the following state. How that plays out when the gang heads back to the Bible Belt (SC) remains to be seen. And if Mitt and Huck split the first three contests, will that open the door for Snidely in Florida?
The GOP race is actually more interesting in some ways than the sniping, griping, back-biting Democrat race. These old, white men are really running a contest, made the more fascinating by the fact that they're running a race in which NONE of them are actually well liked by their constituents. They're essentially battling to be the least unacceptable.
Republicans duking it out over their nominees. What's incredible, is the consensus that the worst two candidates for "the base" are Giuliani and ... Huckabee? Yep, Huckabee. The fiscal conservatives hate him because he's an "economic populist" who raised taxed in Arkansas, and who has criticized Club for Growth Republicans as "greedy" (yeah, he's right on that one) ... and social conservatives dislike Rudy because he's ... no, not the cad part, or the dumping his wife, or having NYC cops chauffeur the mistress around on the public dime, or lobbying for Citgo, or taking on the Qatar government as clients ... no, they hate him because of abortion.
Go figure, they're Republicans.
Anyway, on the RS thread, one Fred Thompson supporter calling himself "redneck hippie" writes:
I made a commitment that if nominated I would vote for (not support) EITHER Rudy or Huck. I also made a commitment that if they team up I will stay home. Eight years I might stomach. Sixteen, never."
Wow. That post was followed by this one:
Guiliani's propensity for authoritarianism scares me more than Huckabee's.
I'd rather have my trans fat taken away than my guns.
Okay, clearly a gun nut, but I agree with the first part.
Given how the media (and many voters in 80% pro-Bush Republican Iowa) have fallen in love with Huck, it's pretty shocking to see comments like this:
As a SoCon and FisCon ...
Huckabee is wrong on 100%. He's following a track with HLA and FMA that do nothing but energize the opposition (remember the ERA?) and he will get nothing, including good judges.
On the Fiscal side, he's a budding socialist. On the war... let's close Gitmo! On cooperating with Congress... let's investigate Bush on Plame.
He is the most unacceptable candidate I can possibly imagine. Ron Paul has better points than Huckabee.
Ouch! On to my favorite comment in the thread:
What is Rudy's foreign policy experience, again? What is his governing experience? Mayor of a city?
Oh wait....it's a really big city he was Mayor of....LOL....maybe Koch and Dinkins were Presidential material after all.
How about his military experience to be Commander-In-Chief? How did Rudy handle it when his number was called back in the day? Was he tough on those Communists? What are his National Security credentials again - nominating Bernie Kerik to run DHS?!?!
Every one of these GOPers would fight the War - except for Ronpaul. It's just that with Rudy - you get to stick your thumb in the eye of those dreaded SoCons and GunCons at the same time. Their issues don't matter in a time of war, after all, and we've declared perpetual war.
And yet I have to hear the laughable - utterly ridiculous - gut-bustingly hilarious meme that the next Preisdent will reduce the size of the federal Government - even in the face of Two Dem Houses. It's never been reduced, but the next guy will do it - this time for sure! Heck, Rudy will do it just based on the sheer strength of his personality!
Senator Clinton stayed cool and calm as she addressed the public and thanked her staff (and all campaign volunteers) during Friday's hostage drama. The AP account describes her as "regal looking" in her post-crisis news conference. And CBS News says Clinton "seized the opportunity" to present a picture of a woman in charge:
“It looked and sounded presidential,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “This was an instance of the White House experience of this campaign. They knew how to handle this.”
That the crisis was outside Clinton's control gave it a rare quality in this era of hyper-controlled politicking, Sabato added.
“What’s most important about it is that it’s not contrived. It’s a real event and that distinguishes it from 99 percent of what happens in the campaign season.”
Whatever the media's parsing, and as cynical as I believe the media is about Mrs. Clinton, I think CBS and Sabato have it right. The Senator's performance yesterday was outstanding. Her voice was measured, no upper register, and she was relaxed and generous with her praise of the young people who run campaigns. Hell, even Chris Matthews was impressed, and he HATES the Clintons! If that's the way she would present herself in a bigger crisis, I think its clear that she has all that it takes to assume leadership.
Rudy Giuliani is a very bad man. I think we've more than established that. He's also a charlaitan who has enriched himself on the graves of nearly 3,000 people who died in the World Trade Center towers (the two that stood alongside his apparent Judy love-nest inside WTC 7, where he also, I'm sure quite coincidentally, housed his city's emergency response center...) And he has a list of clients for his various consulting interests that read from ironic (Hugo Chavez' state-run Citgo) to bad (Cintra, the folks behind that very real, thank you Jeffrey Toobin, NAFTA superhighway), to worse, according to Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice:
Three weeks after 9/11, when the roar of fighter jets still haunted the city's skyline, the emir of gas-rich Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah al-Thani, toured Ground Zero. Although a member of the emir's own royal family had harbored the man who would later be identified as the mastermind of the attack—a man named Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, often referred to in intelligence circles by his initials, KSM—al-Thani rushed to New York in its aftermath, offering to make a $3 million donation, principally to the families of its victims. Rudy Giuliani, apparently unaware of what the FBI and CIA had long known about Qatari links to Al Qaeda, appeared on CNN with al-Thani that night and vouched for the emir when Larry King asked the mayor: "You are a friend of his, are you not?"
"We had a very good meeting yesterday. Very good," said Giuliani, adding that he was "very, very grateful" for al-Thani's generosity. It was no cinch, of course, that Giuliani would take the money: A week later, he famously rejected a $10 million donation from a Saudi prince who advised America that it should "adopt a more balanced stand toward the Palestinian cause." (Giuliani continues to congratulate himself for that snub on the campaign trail.) Al-Thani waited a month before expressing essentially the same feelings when he returned to New York for a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly and stressed how important it was to "distinguish" between the "phenomenon" of 9/11 and "the legitimate struggles" of the Palestinians "to get rid of the yoke of illegitimate occupation and subjugation." Al-Thani then accused Israel of "state terrorism" against the Palestinians.
But there was another reason to think twice about accepting al-Thani's generosity that Giuliani had to have been aware of, even as he heaped praise on the emir. Al Jazeera, the Arabic news network based in Qatar (pronounced "Cutter"), had been all but created by al-Thani, who was its largest shareholder. The Bush administration was so upset with the coverage of Osama bin Laden's pronouncements and the U.S. threats to bomb Afghanistan that Secretary of State Colin Powell met the emir just hours before Giuliani's on-air endorsement and asked him to tone down the state-subsidized channel's Islamist footage and rhetoric. The six-foot-eight, 350-pound al-Thani, who was pumping about $30 million a year into Al Jazeera at the time, refused Powell's request, citing the need for "a free and credible media." The administration's burgeoning distaste for what it would later brand "Terror TV" was already so palpable that King—hardly a newsman—asked the emir if he would help "spread the word" that the U.S. was "not targeting the average Afghan citizen." Al-Thani ignored the question—right before Giuliani rushed in to praise him again.
In retrospect, Giuliani's embrace of the emir appears peculiar. But it was only a sign of bigger things to come: the launching of a cozy business relationship with terrorist-tolerant Qatar that is inconsistent with the core message of Giuliani's current presidential campaign, namely that his experience and toughness uniquely equip him to protect America from what he tauntingly calls "Islamic terrorists"—an enemy that he always portrays himself as ready to confront, and the Democrats as ready to accommodate.
The contradictory and stunning reality is that Giuliani Partners, the consulting company that has made Giuliani rich, feasts at the Qatar trough, doing business with the ministry run by the very member of the royal family identified in news and government reports as having concealed KSM—the terrorist mastermind who wired funds from Qatar to his nephew Ramzi Yousef prior to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and who also sold the idea of a plane attack on the towers to Osama bin Laden—on his Qatar farm in the mid-1990s. ...
There's much more in the article. It's long and detailed, and worth the read. The only remaining question is just how much conservatives are willing to tolerate. They've looked past Rudy's womanizing, his dumping his wife, his pimping 9/11 for personal financial gain, his lapsed morality on issues like abortion, and his partisans are even shrugging off his use of the NYPD as his mistress' personal taxi service, at taxpayer expense. Are the moralistic hypocrites like Glenn Beck (Mr. "I like Rudy because he'll shoot Muslims in the head") and Pat (The Nutjob) Robertson willing to even overlook Rudy's ties to terrorism?
I await the RedState walkback.
Back to the love-nest for a sec. The link in the first paragaph is to a post yesterday by Joshua Micah Marshall. It's worth giving you a taste:
Before 9/11, the city of New York set up an emergency command center in the World Trade Center complex, actually in building 7. After 9/11 this was a matter of some controversy since it obviously wasn't usable on the day of the attacks. (Building 7 eventually collapsed late in the day on 9/11.) And while no one could have predicted 9/11 precisely, there was a certain gap in logic in building the command center in what had already proven to be a top terrorist target.
However that might be, earlier this year it emerged that Rudy actually spent a lot of time in his personal quarters in the command center pre-9/11 because that's where he took Judi for their snogfests while their relationship was still a secret.
In fact, it gets better. While it's difficult to prove, there was a decent amount of circumstantial evidence -- and some city officials believed -- that Rudy's reason for wanting the center in building 7 was so that he could walk there easily from city hall for his trysts with Judy.
So just how do we judge the price NYC paid for the Judi affair?
The Rudy and Judy Show! Sponsored by, the Taxpayers of New York City
File this one under, "I could have told you that..."
The mainstream media finally catches up with a seedy story New Yorkers have known about for years: that Bernie Kerik wasn't the only sleazebag using public resources for his private sexual affairs. Here's the headline from today's NY Post:
REPORT: GIULIANI USED CITY CASH FOR JUDY RENDEZ-VOUS
November 28, 2007 -- America's mayor reportedly dipped into various city agencies' budgets to pay for extra security while kicking off his extramarital affair with now-wife Judy Nathan, a political blog reported today.
The Post reported more than six years ago that the trips were costing New York taxpayers $3,000 a day.
Rudy Giuliani, previously undisclosed government documents show, used funds from small government agencies to pay his tab, Politico.com alleged in a report.
It has previously been reported that Giuliani would sneak off to Hamptons to rendez-vous with then-girlfriend Nathan, and these trips incurred extra costs for the police officers assigned to protect the former mayor.
When the large expenses were found by the city comptroller months after Giuliani left office -- such as $34,000 of travel expenses billed to the New York City Loft Board's account -- the mayor's office simply cited "security," Jeff Simmons, spokesman for the city comptroller, told Politico.com.
The Post indeed did break the story years ago, when Bushie was running for Senator, that he used taxpayer funded security details to protect his then mistress, Judith Nathan, who is now his wife (until he finds something better, of course ... paging the Special Dispensation Cardinal!...) Perhaps the Post could look into who footed the bill for Rudy's rent when his then wife Donna Hanover kicked him out of Gracie Mansion for cheating, and he went to live with those gay guys and their dog...
Oh, sorry, I forgot ... the media doesn't talk about Rudy's private life. It's not relevant...
Anyway, here's the full report from Politico, including these juicy tidbits about the agencies that were paying for Rudy's Hamptons booty calls:
The documents, obtained by Politico under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.
In other words, Rudy screwed crippled people and indigent folk accused of crimes, in order to get his groove on. Now, here's Rudy acting like George W. Bush:
The expenses first surfaced as Giuliani's two terms as mayor of New York drew to a close in 2001, when a city auditor stumbled across something unusual: $34,000 worth of travel expenses buried in the accounts of the New York City Loft Board.
When the city's fiscal monitor asked for an explanation, Giuliani's aides refused, citing "security," said Jeff Simmons, a spokesman for the city comptroller.
And here's Rudy playing Tax Mooch Cassanova:
But American Express bills and travel documents obtained by Politico suggest another reason City Hall may have considered the documents sensitive: They detail three summers of visits to Southampton, the Long Island town where Nathan had an apartment.
Auditors "were unable to verify that these expenses were for legitimate or necessary purposes," City Comptroller William Thompson wrote of the expenses from fiscal year 2000, which covers parts of 1999 and 2000. ...
... The receipts tally the costs of hotel and gas bills for the police detectives who traveled everywhere with the mayor, according to cover sheets that label them “PD expenses” and travel authorizations that describe the trips. ...
... Many of the receipts are from hotels and gas stations on Long Island, where Giuliani reportedly began visiting Nathan’s Southampton condominium in the summer of 1999, though Giuliani and Nathan have never discussed the beginning of their relationship.
Nathan would go on to become Giuliani’s third wife, but his second marriage was officially intact until the spring of 2000, and City Hall officials at the time responded to questions about his absences by saying he was spending time with his son and playing golf.
So Rudy wasn't above using his son as an excuse to see his girlfriend ... sounds very presidential. For those on the right, including kooks like Pat Robertson and self-riteous airheads like Glenn Beck, to justify their support for Giuliani by calling his libidinous behavior "irrelevant", I would ask the following question: how can you say that Rudy's affair isn't relevant when it involved the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for security? Just sayin' ... and I don't want to hear the words "Bill Clinton." Clinton never used the Secret Service to shuttle Monica around, and his fooling around had absolutely no connection to his public office. Not so in the case of Rudy, who conducted his affair with the help of New York City taxpayers -- some of the most heavily taxed people in the country.
Even after his term as mayor ended, Rudy continued to receive taxpayer funded security to the tune of $1 million per year, with more than a dozen cops protecting him, his former wife, and his kids (and probably his mistress, too.) The New York press has covered Rudy's marital soap opera for years, and this story is NOT news to those of us who have lived in NYC.
We remember, for example, back in the spring of 2001 when Rudy, in his move to push Donna Hanover out the door, cut her security detail. Note the interesting detail about Judy in this humdinger from the NYT's Elizabeth Bumiller:
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani cut in half the office staff of his estranged wife, Donna Hanover, yesterday as police officials announced separately that they had reassigned three members of Ms. Hanover's security detail to other jobs.
Mr. Giuliani's actions made it clear that he would continue to use the powers of his office to sever his wife from her public role as the city's first lady and to isolate her as much as possible during his final months in office.
A police official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said three police detectives assigned to Ms. Hanover to make security arrangements in advance of her public appearances had been reassigned on Friday. Ms. Hanover will still be protected, the official said, by an undisclosed number of detectives traveling with her. ''She has an adequate security detail,'' the official said.
Helene Brezinsky, Ms. Hanover's divorce lawyer, said she had no comment. ...
... Last week, aides to Mr. Giuliani said he was stripping Ms. Hanover of her public duties and giving the role of his hostess to Irene R. Halligan, the commissioner of the New York City Commission for the United Nations, Consular Corps and Protocol. Mr. Giuliani filed for divorce from his wife last fall.
... ''To the extent that Donna is no longer performing a function derived from the mayor, she doesn't need a public relations person,'' said a senior City Hall aide.
... The police official added that Judith Nathan, Mr. Giuliani's friend, was no longer receiving security protection. In January, police officials disclosed that Ms. Nathan had been receiving police protection since she was threatened a few days after Christmas, when a man confronted her on the street not far from her Upper East Side apartment. Officials said at the time that it was probable that the man had approached her because of her relationship with the mayor. Ms. Nathan's security protection, the official said, ended a few weeks later.
Mr. Giuliani announced last May that he was seeking a separation from Ms. Hanover and that Ms. Nathan had become increasingly important to him. Ms. Hanover and the couple's two children continue to live at Gracie Mansion, and Mr. Giuliani uses a guest room there. Earlier this month he had his divorce lawyers argue that he should be allowed to bring Ms. Nathan there. A judge disagreed and barred Ms. Nathan from Gracie Mansion. Mr. Giuliani is appealing.
Mr. Giuliani has grown increasingly angry that Ms. Hanover continues to play a first lady role as their marriage has crumbled and he has chosen Ms. Nathan as his public companion.
Update: Wolf Blitzer actually covered the story. Just teased it on CNN. Wow. Next thing you know Chris Matthews will be paying attention...
Feb. 12: District of Columbia primary, Maryland primary, Virginia primary
Feb. 19: Hawaii Democratic caucuses, Washington primary, Wisconsin primary (Hawaii Republicans will have no primary or caucus.)
March 4: Massachusetts primary, Ohio primary, Rhode Island primary, Texas primary, Vermont primary
March 8: Wyoming Democratic caucuses
March 11: Mississippi primary
April 22: Pennsylvania primary
May 6: Indiana primary, North Carolina primary
May 13: Nebraska primary, West Virginia primary
May 20: Kentucky primary, Oregon primary
May 27: Idaho Republican primary
June 3: Montana primary, New Mexico GOP caucuses, South Dakota primary
Thanks to the machinations, mainly of the DNC, Iowa and New Hampshire, two of the least diverse, least representative states in the Union, have an even more outsized influence on who the next president will be. This thing is over after February 5th.
The WaPo offers a handy map, complete with clickable state delegate counts.
Obama is not only getting a boost in the Iowa polls, he's also getting ... "A BASKET OF ALL MY FAVORITE DESIGNER THINGS!!!!" ... no, actually Oprah's just campaigning for him. Not a bad deal, for the Barackster, though...
The latest skirmish between the Democratic front-runners, who are apparently determined to immolate each other so thoroughly that it won't matter which one of their charred corpses emerges as the nominee, because his or her fellow Democrats will have already written that candidate's obituary in Primary blood, has me believing that the Democratic Party might just be terminal.
The latest proof that Democrats are more interested in winning primaries than general elections: Barack Obama is now attacking Hillary Clinton, in person and by name, using material gleaned from one Robert David Sanders Novak.
...the same Robert Novak who knowingly outed covert CIA operative Valerie Plame...
It all started when Novak penned a gossip column entry so thin and nebulous that it almost has to have come, not from secret sources within the Clinton campaign, but from Novak's scumbag Republican friends. Get a load of this idiotic piece of gossip:
Agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton are spreading the word in Democratic circles that she has scandalous information about her principal opponent for the party's presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, but has decided not to use it. The nature of the alleged scandal was not disclosed.
Did I mention that Novak, who is in close running with Rudy's pal Pat Robertson for Most Likely to Actually Be The Devil... had the temerity to do his publishing on a Sunday? Oh, irony...
Anyway, the key line in this waste of words is the following: "The nature of the alleged scandal was not disclosed." And the purpose of the blind item would be ...??? Exactly.
The Novak column did contain one piece of wisdom that even the Dems should be able to figure out:
Experienced Democratic political operatives believe Clinton wants to avoid a repetition of 2004, when attacks on each other by presidential candidates Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt were mutually destructive and facilitated John Kerry's nomination.
Indeed, which I suppose is the last, best hope of John Edwards.
This entire "scandal" is pathetic, but it does prove something I've believed for some time, which is that Democrats are good at only three things:
1. Capitulating to Republican presidents 2. Capitulating to Republican members of Congress; and 3. Decimating each other in primaries in order to ensure a Democrat can't win the White House
Enter Barack obama, who incredibly, not only apparently believes what he reads in a freaking Robert Novak column, but who appears more than willing to act on it, John Edwards style, to the detriment of a political rival who ... and this is the important part ... is a member of the same party he is, and who could eventually become the nominee, as could he. Meaning that if he destroys said political rival, the results in the general election will be predictable, and most helpful to the GOP.
Said Obama at a presser responding to the unsourced rumor:
"We don't want anybody to have any doubts that when it comes to these kinds of practices, I won't tolerate it," Obama said, responding to reporters' questions on the controversy. "In the era of the blogosphere…if you don't get on this stuff quick, then it starts drifting around."
“I am prepared to stand up to that kind of politics, whether it's deployed by candidates in our party, in the other party or by any third party,” Obama said. “The cause of change in this country will not be deterred or sidetracked by the old ‘Swift boat’ politics. The cause of moving America forward demands that we defeat it.”
Nice flourish, but one has to wonder whether the appearance of toughness on Obama's part is somewhat misdirected.
If the ongoing Democratic fratricide had some purpose, other than to satiate a media elite that has been virtually demanding internecine war between the Dems in order to satiate their Clinton fetish without actually appearing to slime the Hated Couple THEMSELVES, then I could understand it. But alas, there is no point to it. John Edwards is on a search and destroy mission against those he sees as standing between him and a White House he will never occupy...
Barack is caving to the media demands that he destroy Hillary for them, only to find himself in the position of being the one Democrat who still reads Novak's column (maybe it's a Chicago thing...) and doing the bidding of Clinton jihadists like Chris Matthews.
And after all the dirt has been thrown, what will we be left with besides a series of neatly produced GOP attack ads for the general election, written not by Karl Rove, but by other Democrats.
To quote Bill Cosby, "come on, people!"
To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the 11th Commandment states that "thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Democrat." Recall that of all the nasty things that were said about Reagan, the one that has really stuck: the notion of "voodoo economics," came from one of his own: his future vice president, George Herbert Walker Bush.
I find it stunning that the Dems who are running for president are getting busy attacking one another, while virtually ignoring the big, fat elephants in the room, starting with the president and working your way down through the his sycophant courtiers in Congress, and those crackpot geezers running for the nomination of the GOP. Ya think the Dem first tier guys could find SOMETHING about any of those clowns to attack?
Earth to Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama: one of you will be the Democratic nominee for president. And before you take on the job of "uniting the county" -- an idea that assumes that most Republicans want to unite with you ... you will have to start by uniting your party, and consolidating the support ... and this is the big one ... of your present rivals. If you make it your business to destroy those Democratic rivals, then good luck doing THAT.
Figure out who the enemy is, fellas. Hint: it's not Hillary and Bill Clinton.
That said, there is a reason why candidates fall into the negative campaign trap: it works. At least in primaries. The latest Iowa polling bears that out, showing Barack Obama pulling every so slightly ahead of Hillary (though still within the margin of error. Still, perception is important.)
The new polling doesn't take the Novak nastiness into account, but it does reflect at least three weeks of continual Hillary pounding. Bottom line, the poll does suggest that the negativity against Clinton is working, not for the main peddler of it, John Edwards, but for Barack:
At the heart of the Democratic race has been the dichotomy between strength and experience (qualities emphasized by Clinton, Richardson, and Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut in their appeals) and the ability to introduce a new approach to governing (as Obama and Edwards have promised to do).
Iowa Democrats are tilting toward change, and Obama appears to be benefiting from it.
Fifty-five percent of those surveyed reported that a "new direction and new ideas" are their top priority, compared with 33 percent who favored "strength and experience." That is a shift from July, when 49 percent sought change and 39 percent experience.
Nationally, Clinton is viewed as a candidate of change, with support from 41 percent of Democrats seeking a new direction in a recent Post-ABC poll. But in Iowa, Obama dominates the "change" vote, winning 43 percent of that group, compared with 25 percent for Edwards and 17 percent for Clinton.
Still, Clinton retains a comfortable lead among Iowa voters who consider strength and experience more important, with 38 percent compared with 19 percent for Edwards, 18 percent for Richardson and 12 percent for Obama, according to the new survey.
She appears more vulnerable on questions of character. Thirty-one percent found Obama to be the most honest and trustworthy, about double the percentage who said the same of Clinton. While about three-quarters credited both Obama and Edwards with speaking their minds on issues, only 50 percent said Clinton is willing enough to say what she really thinks. Forty-five percent said she is not sufficiently candid.
Overall, the poll points to some strategic gains for Obama. His support is up eight percentage points since July among voters 45 and older -- who accounted for two-thirds of Iowa caucus-goers in 2004. He also runs evenly with Clinton among women in Iowa, drawing 32 percent to her 31 percent, despite the fact that her campaign has built its effort around attracting female voters.
In the end, the personal attacks may bring down Hillary. Democrats who want to win next November ought to hope that if the attacks continue, that they DO take her down. Otherwise, Mrs. Clinton will limp into the general thoroughly decimated by members of her own party, and possibly fatally so. If she does go down hard, Obama (most likely the beneficiary) will have a hell of a time bringing her supporters into the fold. And he will foreclose the possibility of utilizing the major campaign asset called William Jefferson Clinton. (though clearly, given his message, Obama wouldn't want to have Clinton campaign for him.)
It's a major gamble on the part of Edwards and Obama. A desperate gamble that can only hurt their party's chances in the general.
Tom Kean, former governor of New Jersey, and former chair of the 9/11 Commission -- you know, the commission charged with getting to the bottom of the intelligence failures that allowed the worst terror attack on this country, which happened to take place in the city where Giuliani was mayor, thus becoming the entire raison d'etre for his presidential campaign, and a nice little money maker for the Rudester to boot -- THAT Tom Kean has endorsed for president, the man he believes can best keep this country safe:
Whether Kean's nod will help McCain remains to be seen, but it sure doesn't help Rudy to continue peddling his 9/11 wares, a hawk job so tacky even the New York Post is picking up on it.
Meanwhile, a group of 9/11 families and New York firefighters are saying, "not so fast, Rudy."
A group of 9/11 families and firefighters who oppose Giuliani's candidacy were outraged.
"Giuliani is running on 9/11 and portraying himself as a hero. It's disgusting. It's horrible," FDNY Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches said.
"This guy will do anything to get elected."
"He's misleading voters and distorting the truth. He didn't prepare the first responders for a terrorist attack. The Office of Emergency Management was a joke that day. There was a lack of communication. People died unnecessarily."
The mailing also says Giuliani "refused to raise taxes after the attacks - refuting calls from Democrats to do so."
The group of 9/11 families and firefighters will be in New Hampshire today to argue that he failed to adequately prepare for a terrorist attack.
The group has also questioned Giuliani's management of the cleanup effort, claiming thousands of Ground Zero workers got sick because they weren't given protective masks.
"I understand the emotions surrounding Sept. 11, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that it was the terrorists who attacked New York City," said firefighter and Giuliani campaign adviser Lee Ielpi, whose son, Jonathan, died on 9/11.
Giuliani has repeatedly challenged accusations that his candidacy is based solely on the attacks, saying during a recent debate, "The reality is that I'm not running on what I did on Sept. 11."
To quote Chris Matthews: "Ha!!"
So, will Rudy's News Corp coziness convince the media to give up its public relations flacking for "America's Mayor?" (a fact very well documented here...) After all, this is a guy running on his supposed "leadership" after the 9/11 attacks, but who spent more time at baseball games than he did at Ground Zero ... (you won't here that on Fox News Channel...) whose only religious endorsement is from a nut-job who spends time predicting the end of "Its a Small World" at Disney World... and whose last remaining Catholic pall is an alleged pedophile priest, and whose top priority after 9/11 was making money, off 9/11 ... an endeavor so important to him he quit the Iraq Study Group in order to pursue it full time.
"Obviously there are some very serious charges involved for a guy who was his protégé and one of his closest friends. And for Rudy to go out and say this is not worthy of discussion when it directly involves him and his decision making, and in the case of department of homeland security, the security of our country - it's disturbing that Rudy would think it's not something he is going to have to address. "
And then the aide said more:
Referring to remarks Tony Carbonetti recently made to me that there was no way Giuliani or any of his aides could have known about Kerik's alleged crimes, the aide said, "That was shocking. It is just revisionist history. Rudy is the godfather to two of this guy's kids--he is as close as you can get."
"They clearly came unhinged," said the aide. "What's going to happen when the discussion turns to Rudy's friend Msgr. Alan Placa?"
Placa is the alleged pedophile priest who married Rudy G to his cousin. Ahem ...
Romney spokesman Kevin Madden had this to say:
"Voters grow very weary of story after story after story having to do with public officials who have not adhered to higher ethical standards," said Madden. "Right now it is very important to Republican primary voters that we have a candidate who can draw a very clear contrast between a Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton. If you have a nominee who is distracted by this type of narrative, you lose the ability to contrast yourself with Hillary Clinton and past Clinton administrations. It cancels out any advantage you would have."
Meanwhile, Rudy was in Tampa today and wasn't asked a single question about Kerik by the crack media folks down here. Oh right, Flawrida is Rudy's firewall state. Why rock the boat?
She improved her performance 100 percent over the last debate. She was extremely effective at backing down the attacks on her, particularly from Edwards, with her line about his "personally attacking her" and "throwing mud." Hillary was prepared (good line: "I'm not playing the gender card here in Las Vegas, I'm trying to play the winning card,") and she capped the night with a nice answer to an audience question about whether she preferred diamonds or pearls: "I want both" said Hillary. Not an important question, but very important in that she continues to humanize and soften herself, while remaining tough and resolute on the issues. Most important, she maneuvered herself into a position in the first 20 minutes where any attacks on her were met with audience boos. Best 20 minutes in a debate for any candidate so far, and Hillary won it hands down. My grade for Hil: A
Not a bad night for my man Barack. He found a good timbre for most of the debate, balancing the professor thing with the candidate thing. He has a problem going forward, though, in that the first 20 minutes not only defanged Edwards, but it also turned his much more gentle digs at Hillary into boo-lines. That complicates things for Barack. And his long, drawn out answer on driver's licenses will take the air out of his attacks on Hillary in that regard. It also highlights HIS very unpopular position on licenses for illegal immigrants -- an issue on which Hillary has since gotten right. (David Gergen is saying that Hil's camp pressed NY Guv Spitzer to drop the plan before the debate.) Barack is still the top second banana. My grade: B
Hands down, his worst night so far. His overheated attacks on Hillary Clinton got the royal smackdown tonight, from Hillary herself, from some zinger questions by the moderators, and by, of all people, Dennis Kucinich and Chris Dodd, who's one-two punches on his switcharoo positions on the Patriot Act, the war, and China, and his "shrillness" -- the Dodd line that will live on for at least a news cycle. He tried to recover at the end by -- and here's a novelty -- going after "Bush, Cheney and the neocons" for a change, but in my opinion, it was too little, too late. Sorry, folks, but Edwards is done. Stick a fork in him. Iowans don't like nasty, and they don't like shrill, and Democrats don't like Democrats who eat their own. My grade: F
Biden is my favorite candidate that I'm not supporting. Seriously, if Hillary and Barack weren't in the race, Biden would be my guy, as he was the first time he ran for president. He's witty, hella-knowledgeable, and thorough in his answers. Biden helped himself tonight. If he doesn't go up in the polls, it's only because people don't believe he can win. And he's learned to be succinct. I will be so as well. My grade: B+
Dodd was actually quite good tonight. His answer on the Supreme Court was in my view the best of the bunch, and he has strong, well thought out positions on Iran and Pakistan. Dodd also nailed the "human rights or national security" question cold. He impressed me with his Espanol (que fluencia!) and he's lost all that weight! My grade: B
Bill Richardson is sooooo out of his depth. His answer that human rights sometimes trumps national security is a classic rookie mistake, falling for a leading, gotcha moderator question. Wolf tagged him on that one. He's not ready for primetime. My grade: D
Besides the fact that he reminds me of a gnome, I thought Kucinich managed to tone down the crazy factor tonight, and he had that great line about being the only one to vote against the Patriot Act, "because I read it." He still has no better chance of being president than I do, but Lil' Dennis did well tonight, for what it's worth. My grade: B
Overall, I think Hillary was the clear winner tonight, with Barack coming in a strong second.
Politico is up with the Obama stumble on ID cards for illegal immigrants. Chris Matthews should enjoy it:
BLITZER: Well, let's go through everybody because I want to be precise. I want to make sure the viewers and those of us who are here fully understand all of your positions on this barring -- avoiding, assuming -- there isn't going to be comprehensive immigration reform.
Do you support or oppose driver's licenses for illegal immigrants?
OBAMA: I am not proposing that that's what we do.
What I'm saying is that we can't...
No, no, no, no. Look, I have already said, I support the notion that we have to deal with public safety and that driver's licenses at the same level can make that happen.
But what I also know...
BLITZER: All right...
OBAMA: But what I also know, Wolf, is that if we keep on getting distracted by this problem, then we are not solving it.
BLITZER: But -- because this is the kind of question that is sort of available for a yes or no answer.
Either you support it or you oppose it.
Not a good look in an otherwise solid performance tonight by Barack. He seems to be doing better at finding a balance between professor and candidate. With the exception of a few rather John Edwards-esque barbs, like "I think I can do it better, that's why I'm running..." He has done well, in my estimation, as have Hillary and a couple of the second-tiers: Biden and Dodd. More oo that later...
BTW Hillary is doing the best so far at portraying a positive candidacy. She seems to have largely defanged John Edwards, as I said before, with considerable help from the moderators, the quite good tonight Campbell Brown, and the testy, impatient Wolf Blitzer.
The candidates were asked what they would look for in a Supreme Court Justice, and whether they would insist that a nominee support abortion rights. On that topic, Politico's Ben Smith, who is liveblogging the debate, just pointed out something interesting about Joe Biden:
For some reason it doesn't get mentioned a lot these days, but Biden was, in large part, the guy who Borked Bork, back when he was running for president in 1988.
"I have taken on those justices," he said, saying the country has had enough ideologues and professors -- Bork is both -- on the bench.
Biden just helped himself with women by saying that the next SupCo Justice should be a woman.
Hillary just praised Biden for his knowledge of the constitution, and called it "one of the great tragedies of our history that George W. Bush didn't understand the way our government is supposed to work."
In this post, I pointed you to an interesting investigation by Taylor Marsh into those nasty push polls in Iowa, attacking both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards as "weak candidates," and the suspicion that the trail could lead to our friend, Rudy Giuliani? Well get a load of this:
Anti-Romney, anti-Mormon calls being made in Iowa
In an apparent push poll, a research firm has called Iowa Republicans this week praising John McCain and critcizing Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith.
An individual in Manchester, Iowa, contacted me on Wednesday night saying he received a call with information about McCain's military service and anti-spending record.
Then there were "lots of negatives on Romney," said the recepient of the call in an e-mail, including mentions of his "flip-flops," hiring illegal immigrants as landscapers and extensive discussion of Mormonism.
"Statements were on baptizing the dead, the Book of Mormon being on the level of the Bible, and one about equating it to a cult," said the Iowan, deeming them "common criticisms of Mormonism."
"I think they asked twice if being a Mormon would be an issue," this person added.
The person conducting the call said he didn't know who they were polling for, said the source.
McCain's campaign, which has fielded calls into their Iowa headquarters complaining of similar such calls, emphatically denies responsibility.
"Senator McCain strongly rejects this style of campaigning and we have absolutely no involvement whatsover," said Jon Seaton, McCain's top aide in Iowa.
Another McCain source, however, said tonight that the calls had been traced back to a number linked to the Tarrance Group -- Rudy Giuliani's pollster.
Of course, Rudy's camp vigorously denies having any part in this. However...
Calls to Ed Goeas, Giuliani's pollster and a principal at the Tarrance Group, and Mitt Romney's campaign were not immediately returned.
I mean if he called back, he might have to lie. Just ask Judith Regan.
The Dems are debating in Vegas (on CNN,) and I've gotta tell you, it's the best one yet. As usual, Joe Biden is bringing the funny, but right off the bat, John Edwards is being made to answer for his personal attacks (Hillary nailed him on that one), his mudslinging (Hillary again), and his shrillness (credit Chris Dodd for that zinger.) Plus, John-boy got called out, big time, via a John Roberts question, on his own position switching (and the attendant hipocrisy.) Well deserved, and it appears to have shut him up. ... for now.
Update: About twenty minutes in, and Barack just got tripped up on the same driver's licenses for illegal immigrants question as Hillary did. Interesting. His answer was longer than hers was in the last debate. Edwards just gave a nuanced answer, too, saying he doesn't support the licenses, except for those on this nebulous "path to citizenship" under equally nebulous "comprehensive immigration reform."
So where ARE these guys on the issue?
Edwards: No, unless we have immigration reform
Barack: Yes, followed by long, complicated answer. Duck and cover, Barack, Edwards is in the room...
Hillary: No (firmly this time)
Kucinich: I resent the way you framed the question
Richardson: Yes, and I did it.
Update 2: 47 minutes in ... OK, Bill Richardson just completely flubbed a major question about Pakistan. After Joe Biden laid out a sensible case that we have to condition U.S. military aid on Musharraf ending his dictatorial stance, Richardson was asked by Wolf Blitzer whether at times, human rights trump U.S. national security. He answered "yes." Yes??? And you want to be president of THIS country? Dumb answer, Richardson. It was a gotcha question, and he gotcha.
Chris Dodd just nailed the question, pointing out that when a president takes the oath of office, he promises to do two things: protect and defend the Constitution, and protect the country from all enemies, foreign and domestic. He added that it's ironic that Bush is now asking Turkey not to invade Iraq, and lecturing Musharraf about restoring the Constitution when he's stepping all over our Constitution here at home. Best I've seen Dodd to date.
BTW, Wolf Blitzer is kind of an ass, isn't he? He won't let any of the debaters finish an answer...
Update 3: 1 hour 15 minutes in. It strikes me that tonight's debate might be the nail in John Edwards' coffin. He just got booed for trying once again, even after being completely defanged during the first 15 minutes of the debate, to attack Hillary Clinton. The audience reaction should tell Johnny that his style of politics -- the politics of fellow Democrat destruction -- is done as a strategy. 11th Commandment, beeyatch. No more attacking your fellow Democrats, and doing so for the sole purpose of feeding your own ambition.
BTW, I really, really like Joe Biden. He's the most articulate, direct and knowledgeable guy on the stage. I wish he had more of a realistic path to the nomination, and the White House. Otherwise, this guy needs to be somebody's secretary of state. And he reminds me of Mr. Sims, one of my favorite high school english teachers (along with Ms. Jacoby. But I digress...)
Camp McCain tries to get all Bill O'Reilly on CNN, and raise a little dough in the process. Check out the email McCain campaign manager Rick Davis sent to supporters today (courtesy of The Hill). As you read it, remember, Rick Davis is the campaign BOSS, second only to the candidate himself:
“The CNN Network, affectionately known as the Clinton News Network, has stooped to an all-time low and is gratuitously attacking John McCain for not sufficiently defending Hillary Clinton enough when a South Carolina voter used the 'B' word to describe her when John McCain stopped into a luncheon yesterday at the Trinity restaurant in Hilton Head, S.C. ...
... The liberal media has figured out that John McCain is the only thing that stands between a Hillary Clinton presidency, and they are therefore trying to stop the McCain comeback,” Davis said. “Simply put, CNN is scared that John McCain will beat Hillary Clinton. They are right to be scared.”
Oh where to begin...
First off, Ricky darling, "not sufficiently defending Hillary enough" is redundant. You could have left off either "not sufficiently defending" or "enough" and your statement would have been much more fitting for a man of your station.
Second, the idea that the media is "scared" of John McCain because they fear he "stands in the way of a Hillary Clinton presidency" creates two problems for you. First, you appear to have capitulated to the notion of Hillary's inevitability as president, which should come as a pleasant surprise to her. Second ... um ... the only thing about Senator McCain that scares members of the public AND the media is this:
Rudy Giuliani has responded to the allegation by Judith Regan that News Corp executives told her to lie about issues surrounding Rudy's pal Bernie Kerik, with whom she was having an affair (canoodling in a downtown apartment that was supposed to be used to rest rescue workers working on "the pile" at Ground Zero, no less ... the same rescuers Rudy has dissed by suggesting he was as much in respiratory danger as they were...) to protect Rudy's presidential ambitions.
On MSNBC a few minutes ago, Rudy responded to a reporter's direct question of whether he knew that his boy was having an affair with Judith (hm... wasn't Rudy having an affair with a woman named Judith at the time, or was that after his television-announced divorce from the woman he was cheating on ... namely his wife ... but I digress...) Again, did Rudy know that Bernie was sleeping with Judith #2?
Rudy's answer was less than definitive. He said "um, that sounds like a gossip column kind of story .... I don't know anything about it."
Which means that every New York reporter worth a damn will now be scrambling to find out what Rudy knew about his pal's bedroom antics, and when he knew it.
Hang on ... the New York Times front page is a gossip tome?
Update: BTW, Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice, and author of "The Grand Illusion" an unauthorized biography of Rudy Giuliani, was just on Countdown. He's read the Kerik indictment and confirms that on around page 61, the indictment makes it clear that the "senior executive" who told Judith Regan to lie to spare Rudy and Bernie the rod, was indeed Roger Ailes, Rudy's good friend and lifelong pal.
Barrett also talked about how back when nobody wanted to carry Fox News Channel, then Mayor Rudy strong-armed Time Warner Cable into carrying the channel, on pain of serious problems with the city. Cronyism ... crooked pals ... poor decisionmaking ... and the two Judiths ... yeah, Pat Robertson, you're going straight to hell, papi.
Pat Robertson loves politics more than he loves The Lord... (I mean, how many divorces does a guy get a pass on just because he's leading in the GOP polls, anyway? And if God was going to strike Florida with a tsunami over Gay Days at Disneyworld, won't the fact that Rudy was roommates with a couple of gay dudes bring on the Armageddon? ... oh ... that's what Pat wants to happen... ooohhhh......)
Pat Robertson hates Muslims more than he loves the Lord ... The only sane (and I use that world loosely, given who we're talking about here) explanation for Robertson's break from his evangelical brethren to support the pro-abortion, pro-gay rights former mayor of Sodom and Gamorrah is that he believes that if elected president, Rudy will continue, or even escalate, George W. Bush's war on the Islamic foes of Israel -- a place Pat wants to conquer for Christendom and build a theme park ... where he can ride the Til-o-Whirl and await the Armageddon. Oh, there we go with that Armageddon thing again... The two weirdos apparently got to know each other on a flight back from Israel, a place they both cleve to like Likudniks on steroids. And in his endorsement speech, Robertson left little doubt which he cared about more, between loving the unborn and hating the Ay-rabs: "To me, the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the bloodlust of Islamic terrorists..." lest they try to blow up Disneyworld AFTER gay days...
Pat Robertson is insane ... goes without saying.
This of course, does beg the question, which even Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is asking, of whether Rudy now believes, as Robertson does, that America had 9/11 coming because of the gays and the abortionists, and ... well ... everybody Rudy supports ... OR ... has Pat Robertson flip-flopped, Rudy style, on issues like gay rights, abortion, cousin marrying, philandering, divorce and all the other stuff Rudy can't get communion in his own church because of ... OR ... does Rudy's new anointing mean he'll never wear that dress again...
The world waits.
Update: The reviews are in! The religious right, and other parts of the GOP hothouse, are officially flummoxed by the Pat Robertson-Rudy Giuliani axis of weird...
Gary Bauer (himself the Earl of Odd) says it's all about Hillzilla:
“I did have some sense it was going to happen, so I wasn’t completely surprised,” Bauer said. “Those leaders who are endorsing are going through the same thought process that a lot of conservatives around the country are wrestling with, which is that whatever one thinks about the field, it’s clear to everybody that a Hillary Clinton presidency with Democratic control of the House and Senate would be a disaster no matter what kind of conservative you are.”
The Huffpo's Michael Roston made the rounds of other evangelical operatives of the GOP:
A spokeswoman at the Christian Coalition said that Robertson had made the endorsement "in his personal capacity" and so the group wasn't commenting. A spokesman at Focus On The Family similarly told us, "Anything about Pat Robertson we're not talking about." The group's leader, Rev. James Dobson, had warned last month that Christian groups might pick a third party candidate to represent social conservatives if Giuliani was nominated to head the Republican ticket.
Similarly, OneNewsNow, a news website linked to the Christian Coalition of America, published an article headlined "Pro-Family leaders mum on Robertson's endorsement of Rudy." It noted, "OneNewsNow contacted several pro-family leaders to get their reaction to the Robertson endorsement. Some did not return calls, while others said they did not want to comment."
Still, OneNewsNow's Jim Brown was able to find "a close personal friend of Robertson" who "believes the endorsement is "tragic," and that if Giuliani wins the nomination, it "will destroy the Republican Party." So you have to imagine they'll be speaking out in some way soon.
Meanwhile, John McCain, who himself picked up an endorsement from Sam Brownback today and who probably was referring to Robertson when he talked about the looney toons on the right back when he was a maverick in 2000, declared himself "speechless" regarding the endorsement.
"I thought it was important for me to make it clear that Rudy Giuliani is more than acceptable to people of faith," said Robertson. "Given the fractured nature of the process, I thought it was time to solidify around one candidate."
Okay not that part, THIS part:
[Robertson] insisted that while some on the "fringe" of the social conservative movement may see Giuliani as an unacceptable nominee, the "core know better."
How can you tell who's on the fringe when you're insane...?
The cable chat media, led by Chris Matthews of MSNBC (backed by his seconds, Chuck Todd and Howard Fineman), and their friends in the print press, have a message for the non-Clinton Democratic candidates: "Bring me the head of that Clinton woman!"
Matthews and company are desperately casting around, offering beligerent free advice to Barack Obama: ATTACK HILLARY NOW! Why are they so certain that Barack must quit to professorial schtick and lop off Hil's head? Becauase John Edwards, for all his shrillness, isn't getting the job done. And for the mainstream media hit squad that tried with all its might, but failed to take down President Bill Clinton over that phony scandal with a chubby, horny intern, the job must get done.
Matthews in particular seems bent on justifying his near decade of obsession with the Clintons' sex life, and his spittle-mouthed, high horsed jihad against the former president back in the bad old days of 1998, when the right wing Congress and their bounty hunter, Ken "show me the panties" Starr, sought to undo the results of two elections by hounding a sitting president out of office for doing what just about every president before him has done: cheat on his wife. (Just a guess, they probably all lied about it, too.)
And now that Hillary Clinton seems to be running away with the Democratic nomination for president, she... must ... be ... stopped. And if the media can't do it themselves (too obvious) then Barack had damned well better start the shelling.
If he doesn't, the media bete noires say, he's toast. He can't beat her if he doesn't beat her. The desperation to see a bar room brawl is so thick that yesterday on "Hardball," Pat Buchanan, who usually holds it together a lot better on "the race thing," at least on TV, actually mused that Obama "sure doesn't come off like a Black guy from the south side of Chicago." Huh? What's he supposed to do to Mrs. Clinton? Smack that ass and call her a "ho?"
Meanwhile, on the other side of the political aisle, there's no competing narrative demanding why Mitt Romney doesn't mount a real, full throated attack against Rudy Giuliani, the front runner for the GOP nod. The assumption is that there is so much to attack with Hillary, but with Rudy? Not so much. I mean, he's "America's mayor" after all -- what's there to attack? The media insists that the only thing worth attacking Rudy for is his apostasy on social values issues -- gay marriage and abortion. Beyond that, Matthews and Co. can't imagine anything, by golly by gosh, that Mitt or Huck or Fred could possibly want to bash Mr. 9/11 for...
Honestly, with the exception of David Shuster and of course, Keith Olbermann, it's almost as if the powdered men of the MSM have formed a Jim Jones-like cult whose ritual chant is an incantation to burn Hillary in the fires of hell. ... and her cheating but still getting love from his wife, still more popular than any of the TV talking heads, and more manly to boot hubby, too. (Haters.)
Anyhoo, the Dems will attempt to live up to the Mathews brawl-o-meter tonight, if Barack and his team are that easily hypnotized (earth to Barack, look how well nasty attacks have worked for John Edwards!) The debate will be moderated by the almost rhythmically bland Brian Williams and the Roger Ailes golf buddy posing as an objective journalist, Tim Russert.
Earth to 27 percent of Republicans: Rudy Giuliani is lying to you. And I mean, like, daily...
He wants you to believe that he was the REAL hero of 9/11 ... single-handedly doing what no other mayor could: talking to the press! Walking around with a mask on! Brushing dust off his suit shoulders, and uniting a city ... and a nation... ! Cue the angelic choir...!!!
Aside from a belabored p.r. strategy, and continual boasts about his supposed sage foreknowledge of 9/11 (knowledge he apparently didn't feel compelled to share with anyone who could have done anything about it, including the Clinton administration with whom he was working so closely (and exchanging mushy-gushy letters) on things like the assault weapons ban and the COPS program ...) boasts that are at this stage, even more irritating than John Edwards' "son of a millworker" schtick, what is Rudy Giuliani, really? Who is he, to those of us who know him best -- namely, New Yorkers?
He's not the crime-fighting super sleuth whom the Gotti boys targeted for a rub-out. That's only interesting to Rudy's high-fiving, snarky little press aides. For the rest of us, it's "talk to me when you get something more interesting than Rudy nearly getting whacked. Hell, Curtis Sliwa got shot in the butt by a made guy. Want him to be your president, too?"
He's not the beloved mayor of Gotham City. New Yorkers hate his guts (and not just the firefighters. We civilians despise him, too.) Remember when he floated the idea of staying on past his lawful mayoral term in the wake of 9/11 to ... um ... keep the leadership coming ... possibly in a Hugo Chavez-like version of forever? Not! He got shot down like ... well ... Curtis Sliwa's butt... Ouch!
He's not the only man with the foresight to see 9/11 coming, as he likes to tell Republican voter-bots during his incipid "love me, I'm 9/11" speeches. In fact, sealed testimony to the 9/11 Commission -- an entity Rudy quit after just a few months because attending the meetings was cutting into his 9/11 profiteering time -- which wasn't supposed to see the light of day until after the 2008 election, but obtained by the Village Voice's Wayne Barrett reveals the following:
A 15-page "memorandum for the record," prepared by a commission counsel and dated April 20, 2004, quotes Giuliani conceding that it wasn't until "after 9/11" that "we brought in people to brief us on al Qaeda." According to the memorandum, Giuliani told two commission members and five staffers: "But we had nothing like this pre 9/11, which was a mistake, because if experts share a lot of info," there would be a "better chance of someone making heads and tails" of the "situation." (Such memoranda are not verbatim transcripts of the confidential commission interviews, but are described on the cover page as "100 percent accurate" notes taken by staffers, stamped "commission sensitive/unclassified" on the top of each page.)
Asked about the “flow of information about al Qaeda threats from 1998-2001,” Giuliani said: “At the time, I wasn’t told it was al Qaeda, but now that I look back at it, I think it was al Qaeda.” He also said that as part of one of his post-9/11 briefings, “we had in Bodansky, who had written a book on bin Laden.” Giuliani was referring to Yossef Bodanksy, the author of Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America, which was published in 1999 and predicted “spectacular terrorist strikes in Washington and/or New York.” Giuliani wrote in his own book, Leadership, that Judi Nathan got him a copy of Bodansky’s prophetic work “shortly after 9/11,” and that he covered it in “highlighter and notes,” citing his study of it as an example of how he “mastered a subject.” Apparently, he also invited Bodansky to address key members of his staff.
Giuliani attributed his pre-9/11 shortcomings in part to the FBI, which was run by his close friend (and current endorser) Louis Freeh, and to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, an FBI-directed partnership with the NYPD. "We already had JTTF, and got flow information no one else got," he explained. "But did we get the flow of information we wanted? No. We would be told about a threat, but not about the underlying nature of the threat. I wanted all the same information the FBI had, and we didn't get that until after 9/11. Immediately after 9/11, we were made a complete partner." He added: "Without 9/11, I never would have been able to send an adviser to FBI briefings."
Oh, and did I mention that he's a foreign policy novice under the sway of a claque of neoconservative advisors who are itching to go to war in the Middle East near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers? Sound familiar, guys? Huh???
In fact, the only good thing about Rudy is his original position on gun control, which is amply documented here. Of course, the new, flip-flopping Rudy is totally, and I mean totally, against gun control ... sort of ... depending on who he's talking to ... Bo-Sox, Yankees, my God, so much to decide...!
Anyhoo, I guess the bottom line is that Rudy Giuliani is whoever he thinks he has to be that day, in order to get to be your president. Here's hoping he's doing all that huffing and puffing in vain. At least some conservatives are finally growing suspicious of the slippery character who changes positions faster than he changes wives ... and dresses.
Wake up, the rest of you Rudyphiles. The last thing you want in the White House is somebody about whom the one true thing you can say, is that you're certain that you really don't know who he is. When that happens, you have two choices: lift up his skirt and see if there are any jumblies under there, or ask those of us who do.
So much for being competitive in New York... Rudy's gambit, of course, is to pander to BoSox fans in nearby New Hampshire, ahead of a certain primary election. But any true Yankee fan (and I am one, baby) knows that the Red Sox are the Evil Empire, the uber enemy, and you cannot be with them, and also with the Yanks.
...unless of course you're a shape-shifting, gone with the wind, spineless pol, like Rudy... expect him to be dressing in drag again soon, too.
Hillary Clinton is kicking ass in the latest Washington Post poll. In every conceivable way... Even her husband is polling out of control (two thirds of Americans are bullish on his presidency, including a third of Republicans.) Witness:
Former President Bill Clinton has emerged as a clear asset in his wife's campaign for the White House, with Americans offering high ratings to his eight years in office and a solid majority saying they would be comfortable with him as first spouse, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
But Americans said they would not regard the election of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as simply the resumption of her husband's presidency. Instead, two-thirds said she would take her presidency in a different direction and half of all Americans said they believed that would be a good development. And about half of those who said it would be a resumption described that as positive.
Now tot he meat of the matter. Hillary is beating Rudy Giuliani, the likely Republican nominee, 51 to 43 in this poll, taking 88 percent of Dems, 48 percent of Independents (Rudy gets 44) and even 10 percent of Republicans (more than Bushie got of Dems in 2000). But is she polarizing (I argue who cares, but let's pretend that it matters):
Many Republicans have said they are eager to run a general election campaign against Hillary Clinton, describing her as a highly polarizing candidate who would unite and energize the opposition. But as of now Clinton appears to to be no more polarizing than other leading Democratic candidates. Nor is there a potential Republican nominee who appears significantly less polarizing.
Forty-one percent of those surveyed said they definitely would not vote for Clinton in the general election if she were the Democratic nominee, one of the lowest "reject rates" of any of the leading candidates in either of the two major parties. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama registers the lowest definite opposition, at 39 percent.
...in the South, Edwards's home turf, the three leading Democrats all have been ruled out by nearly identical percentages; Edwards by 47 percent, Clinton by 46 percent and Obama by 45 percent.
Americans currently view the top four Republican candidates in equally or even more negative terms. Forty-four percent said they definitely would not vote for former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, while 45 percent said the same of Arizona Sen. John McCain. More than half of all Americans said they definitely would not vote for former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson (54 percent) or former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (57 percent).
On the other side of the ledger, more Americans, three in 10, said they definitely would support Clinton than any other of the leading candidates of either party. In contrast, just 17 percent said they definitely would support Giuliani.
So who's polarizing, again? Chris Matthews, present yourself!
Two more items from the poll:
First, the word from those who are paying attention...
...among those following the election very closely at this point, Clinton enjoys a sizeable lead -- 58 percent to 40 percent.
And next, Hillary's real mojo factor: women...
A Clinton-Giuliani race could produce a big gender gap. Men now split about evenly between the two, but the New York senator's potentially groundbreaking candidacy draws heavily among women, 57 percent to 39 percent.
Note again, that Hil is not losing men -- she's polling equally with Rudy there.
Camp Clinton managed to rake in $22 million for the Democratic primary battle and another $5 million for the general election. Obama, the Illinois senator, raised $19 million for the primary, plus a bit over $1 million for the later contest.
Clinton's $22 million primary haul marked her best fundraising quarter yet.
"Wow. It's like they're always holding the trump card - they are good, and that's why they pulled out the stops this quarter," said Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio of the Clinton money machine.
Clinton's cranking ATM helped narrow the gap with Obama, giving her about $73 million to fight for the nomination to his $75 million.
When general election numbers are added in, the pair are neck and neck in buck-raking, at about $80 million each since January. Clinton started off with a $10 million advantage, funneling leftover campaign cash from her successful Senate bid into her presidential account. Observers say the money is important and the timing of the announcement helps Clinton because she can trumpet momentum while Obama has flatlined - at the polls and on the fundraising circuit.
Florida's Democratic Party isn't backing down in the battle over our primary date, which the GOP-led state legislature has set for January 29. The DNC -- led by the thoroughly misguided Dr. Dean (and Donna Brazille, surprisingly) -- has seen fit to punish Florida by threatening to disenfranchise 4.2 million Democratic voters, by taking away 100 percent of our delegates to the Denver convention. (The RNC is threatening to take away half of the GOP delegates as punishment.)
The issue here is whether Iowa and New Hampshire have some God-given right to decide who the Democratic and Republican nominees for president. Where this right comes from, and why it was afforded to two of the least diverse states in the country, I'll never know.
But I do know this. The Democratic Party had better pray that this doesn't come down to a showdown. They will lose.
For now, it appears the Florida Democratic Party will sue the DNC over the disenfranchisement threats.
PEMBROKE PINES - Florida Democratic party leaders on Sunday dared their national party to disenfranchise millions of voters next summer when their delegates meet in Denver to nominate their candidate for president.
Their dare, they added, might be bolstered by a lawsuit contending that "four rogue states" are conspiring to violate the civil rights of minorities in Florida by getting the Democratic National Committee to ignore the results of Florida's Jan. 29 party primary.
"For God's sake, this is the state where the election was stolen from in 2000," state party Vice Chairman Luis Garcia said at a news conference held in Broward because it is the most heavily Democratic county in the state.
At stake are the 210 delegates that Florida Democrats plan to send to the Democratic National Convention in Colorado. The national party in August threatened not to seat those delegates unless Florida delays its primary at least a week so New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina can pick their nominees for president.
"Four rogue states took action against the state of Florida," said Sen. Steve Geller of Cooper City, the Senate's Democratic leader.
Florida Democrats said it wasn't their fault the date was set for Jan. 29; the Republican-controlled Legislature did it. But Democratic leaders said they ruled out other options, such as holding a Democratic-only primary, a caucus or a mail-in vote.
"We looked at other alternatives and some looked serious and some not so serious, but at the end of the day we came down to the primary on Jan. 29 as the only way to have a fair and independent election," said party Chairwoman Karen Thurman.
The problem, she said, is that municipalities throughout Florida moved their elections to Jan. 29 and the state set the same date for Floridians to vote on a constitutional amendment for a "super" homestead exemption. This was done because presidential primaries attract people to the polls and without Democratic candidates on the ballot, Democratic voters might not show up to vote on the other issues.
"So there are a lot of reasons we stand together today to say to voters of the state to vote on Jan. 29 and to be assured their vote will count," she said.
Thurman said the national party isn't likely to carry out its threat to ignore the delegates selected by Florida Democrats.
"I believe they have to seat Florida's delegates," she said. "Florida is part of the United States."
Added Geller: "There is no question that in Denver our delegates will be seated, no question about it." ...
Get 'em, Florida.
... Geller said it might take a lawsuit to force the party to seat Florida delegates. He predicted one will be filed contending that the national party, by ordering Florida to move the date, is violating the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965
The suit will be brought, he said, by a minority resident of Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough or Monroe County and contend that the four early voting states are "conspiring amongst each other to intimidate the presidential candidates, telling them that if they come down to Florida, they will be blackballed in the state."
According to Geller, the civil rights violation is that moving the primary date would force minority voters in the five counties to pay to see presidential candidates in person, something they could do for free if the candidates stumped in Florida for the scheduled Jan. 29 primary.
Because candidates would fear being blackballed, he said, their only appearances in Florida would be at fund-raisers open to those who pay. Without the fear of being blackballed, they would come to Florida and make traditional, free campaign appearances.
The suit would have to come from one of the five counties because they are being monitored by the U.S. Department of Justice for violations of minority voting rights.
Go ahead and try and disenfranchise Florida, Dems. I double, triple dare you.
Rudy Giuliani is slowly, but surely, beginning to show himself. From the Guardian UK:
LONDON (AP) - Rudy Giuliani was on the trans-Atlantic campaign trail Wednesday, schmoozing with conservative idol Margaret Thatcher and bragging about his international credentials.
``I'm probably one of the four or five best known Americans in the world,'' Giuliani told a small group of reporters at a posh London hotel as onlookers gathered in the lobby to gawk at actor Dustin Hoffman, who was on a separate visit.
The former New York mayor is the latest GOP presidential candidate to travel to Britain, meeting the country's new political guard and rubbing elbows with Thatcher, an icon for American conservatives.
He also was asked to deliver a special lecture at the Atlantic Bridge, a group that promotes ties between British and American conservatives.
Giuliani told reporters he has made 91 trips to 35 countries in five years and many governments seek him out for advice on security. He was given an honorary knighthood in 2002 by Queen Elizabeth II for his leadership after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
But who are the four other best-known Americans?
``Bill Clinton ... Hilary,'' he said, but he was whisked away for another engagement before he could throw out any other names. ...
What a shit. Why would anyone want this 9/11 pimping nut-ball for a president? Republican Rudy supporters, please take your temperature and "just say no."
Looks like the Republican National Committee will follow the DNC's lead, by punishing states that choose to push up their primaries in defiance of the Iowa-New Hampshire hegemony, and that could put a crimp into the plans of one Rudolph "I married my cousin" Giuliani.
The Giuliani campaign has reportedly set up a "firewall" in the state of Florida, according to campaign materials obtained by Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post and discussed on his blog, The Fix. Says said Fix:
Florida is the "firewall" in former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid, according to a Powerpoint presentation made to volunteers of his campaign in the Sunshine State and obtained by The Fix.
"Florida is the firewall" proclaims the second slide of the presentation which, by in large, is aimed at outlining the goals of Giuliani's effort in the state -- which is slated to hold a primary on Jan. 29. The slide goes on to highlight two press reports: the first, from the Associated Press, notes that Giuliani has "adopted an unorthodox campaign itinerary....lavishing attention on Florida."; the second, from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, points out that "Giuliani's strategy is to win delegate rich Florida to catapult him." The next slide notes that Giuliani's average lead in national polling is seven points but his average lead in Florida is 14 points.
Tony Carbonetti, a senior adviser to the campaign, dismissed the idea that Giuliani viewed Florida as a make or break moment for his bid. "Florida's the firewall, New Jersey's the firewall, Connecticut's the firewall, New York's the firewall," said Carbonetti. He added that the document was put together by state staff, not national staff, in order to "motivate our volunteers."
Although Giuliani's campaign has made clear that the states set to vote on Feb. 5, 2008, which include New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California and Illinois, are likely to strongly favor their candidate, they insist that the former Mayor is also running hard in traditional early voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Nonetheless, the slide show does suggest that the Giuliani campaign believes Florida will play a central role in determining the identity of the Republican nominee.
And, while most of the rest of the document is rah-rah sort of stuff, there are some glimpses into Giuliani's broader Florida strategy in the document.
In a slide entitled "Opportunities to get involved", a list of "key coalitions" is provided that includes: "former Yankees" (we assume that means ex-northerners, not the actual Pinstripers), first responders, volunteer firefighters and, The Fix's personal favorite, Italian Americans.
On a slide titled "Our Plan for Victory" there are handwritten notes that read "go after congressional districts" and "Miami -- key city". As we noted in a story for washingtonpost.com's "Fast Track Campaign" series, Florida is one of several large states that splits its delegate apportionment between the winners of each congressional district and the winner of the statewide vote. Win the entire state of Florida and you get 39 total delegates. But, 75 delegates are up for grabs in the congressional districts -- three for each of the 25 seats. ...
The Republican National Committee plans to penalize at least four states holding early primaries, including New Hampshire and Florida, by refusing to seat at least half their delegates at the party’s national convention in 2008, a party official said Tuesday.
Much of the focus in the primary scheduling fight up to now has been on the Democratic National Committee’s moves to penalize Florida by not seating its convention delegates because of the state’s decision to move up its primary. But the Republican rules are even more stringent, and the national party said today that it would not hesitate enforcing them.
The actions by Republicans and Democrats to move against states holding early contests is a rare instance of the two parties moving in concert, in this case to regain control over a rapidly evolving primary calendar that has thrust the nominating system into deep uncertainty just months before it is to begin.
“The rules are clear,” said Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. “Any state that holds their primary outside of the window shall be penalized delegates.”
In addition to Florida and New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina also face sanctions for moving their contests before Feb. 5. Two other early nominating states, Iowa and Nevada, will escape Republican sanctions because they hold nonbinding caucuses, not primaries.
Republican Party officials in both Florida and Michigan said yesterday they still believed it unlikely that they will face penalties — despite being told exactly the opposite by national party officials — and are crafting a plan to make their voice heard during the convention.
“I am confident that all 114 delegates from Florida will be seated,” said Jim Greer, the chairman of the Florida Republican Party.
Mr. Greer argued that Florida technically does not select its delegates on the date of the primary, but rather, the leaders in each of its 25 Congressional districts choose delegates starting Feb. 6, so it is not breaking the rules.
“I am confident that the Republican National Committee or any eventual nominee will not allow the voices of Florida voters not to be heard,” he said. “Florida is too important a state as it relates electing to the next president.”
Banning half a state’s delegation would be an extraordinary move. While state party officials have played down the impact, noting that presidential candidates are often selected before the convention, there is the chance that the parties could have brokered conventions in which each delegate’s vote would be prized. ...
The DNC has dropped the hammer on Florida, threatening to deny the state its 210 delegates to the party's convention if the Sunshine State goes ahead with its plans to hold a primary election on January 29. Here's how Nedra Pickler at the AP reports it:
Florida Democrats would forfeit their votes in selecting a presidential nominee unless they delay their state election by at least a week, the national party said in a stern action Saturday meant to discourage others from leapfrogging ahead to earlier dates.
The Florida party has 30 days to submit an alternative to its planned Jan. 29 primary or lose its 210 delegates to the nominating convention in Denver next summer.
The state party chairwoman, Karen Thurman, said she would confer with state officials about the ultimatum. "It's going to be a difficult discussion," she said, because Floridians are wary of having their votes taken away.
Elected officials in Florida have said they would consider legal action and a protest at the convention if the national party barred the state's delegates.
Florida's vote change was pushed by the GOP in order to enhance the state's stature by making it one of the early primary states, along with South Carolina, Nevada, and the whitest states in the union, Iowa and New Hampshire. The logic is that with Florida's diversity, it is more representative of the country writ large, and should have a louder voice (I suspect that the GOP also sees Florida as a state more amenable to a more moderate, non-evangelical candidate like Rudy Giuliani, who leads the state in the polls and in terms of elected leadership support, as opopsed to a North Carolina, or a Nevada, where anti-immigration forces could hurt Rudy pretty badly...)
Either way, the Democrats are now committed to the primary date, and the Republican-led legislature has no real incentive to help the Dems out, unless of course the RNC decides to go the same route. More from the AP:
There is general agreement that the eventual nominee will seat Florida's delegates rather than allow a fight at a convention intended to show party unity. But the decision by the Democratic National Committee's rules panel could reduce Florida's influence because candidates may want to campaign in states where the votes are counted.
In other words, the DNC's action could cost this state -- and particularly our media outlets, like the one I work for, a shitload of cash. More on what we know, and check out hard-ass Donna Brazille!
The calendar was designed to preserve the traditional role that Iowa and New Hampshire have played in selecting the nominee, while adding two states with more racial and geographic diversity to influential early slots.
Several DNC officials said before the vote that they wanted to take the strong action against Florida to discourage Michigan, New Hampshire and other states that were considering advancing their contests in violation of party rules.
Garry Shay, a rules committee member from California, said allowing Florida to move forward "would open the door to chaos."
DNC committee member Donna Brazile also argued for a strong penalty, saying, "I hesitate to see what happens if we show somehow some wiggle room in our process."
The party argues that Florida's early primary could cause a headlong rush by other states, including Michigan, to move their primaries up, too. Now, to Ms. Brazille, as reported by The Politico:
During the debate, Donna Brazile, a DNC member from D.C. who was campaign manager for Gore-Lieberman in 2000, said: “I understand how states crave to be first. I understand that they’re envious of the role that Iowa and New Hampshire have traditionally played. And I understand that they would like to see if they can get the candidates to come down and … spend all of their time and the resources and fill their bars — oh, sorry, not the bars! — fill their farms and their barns up with people. But the truth is is that we had a process. … That vote will stand … and send a signal to the people of Florida – which includes my sister, who had to show not one, not two, but three forms of ID in 2000.”
And as regards "funny hats", the Politico's Ben Smith continues;
As the meeting broke up and all the cameras and reporters (and there are a bunch of both) lunged for the Florida folks, I walked up to the dais and asked Mr. Roosevelt and his co-chair, Alexis M. Herman, the practical consequences for Florida if the sanctions remain in place.
Roosevelt: “The event on Jan. 29 would be purely a beauty contest — equivalent, as somebody said, to the Iowa straw poll.”
Herman: “But voters WOULD get to register their preference. I think that’s important to point out.”
Roosevelt: “There would be a state-run poll or beauty contest, as has happened before. But there would NOT be a selection of delegates for the national convention in that process.”
What will happen at the national convention, in Denver a year from now (Aug. 25 to 28, 2008)? Will Florida have a section with a "Sunshine State" sign and the funny hats?
Herman: “This would then come under the purview of the credentials committee of the convention. And the convention credentials committee would then have to make a determination as to how they would interpret whatever activities would have occurred in Florida — be it the 29th process, or any subsequent activities, if it were not party approved.”
So is it disenfranchisement, as the state party is claiming, or just strict adherance to the rules? Hm...
As for the Republicans, they stand to lose up to half of their delegates when the powers that be over there decide September 5th. But the state GOP chair is vowing to fight the power. We shall see...
So, if launching blistering attacks on Hillary Clinton isn't working for John Edwards, why would Barack Obama try the strategy on for size? And is the Obama camp preparing to go all netroots nuclear on Hillary? From the WaPo this morning:
"I think it is fair to say that I believe I can bring the country together more effectively than she can," Obama said. "I will add, by the way, that is not entirely a problem of her making. Some of those battles in the '90s that she went through were the result of some pretty unfair attacks on the Clintons. But that history exists, and so, yes, I believe I can bring the country together in a way she cannot do. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be running." ...
... "Her argument is going to be that 'I'm the experienced Washington hand,' and my argument is going to be that we need to change the ways of Washington," he said. "That's going to be a good choice for the American people."
Saying that Bill Clinton's presidency was good for America, he added: "The question is, moving forward, looking towards the future, is it sufficient just to change political parties, or do we need a more fundamental change in how business is done in Washington . . .? Do we need to break out of some of the ideological battles that we fought during the '90s that were really extensions of battles we fought since the '60s?"
Obama never used the term "polarizing" to describe Clinton but made it clear he has studied polls that show that many people have an unfavorable opinion of her. "I don't think there is anybody in this race who's able to bring new people into the process and break out of some of the ideological gridlock that we have as effectively as I can," he said.
Okay, but the problem for Barack is that Bill Clinton won the ideological war he fought with bloodthirsty Republicans in the 1990s - he won it on the economy, on competency and on "peace and prosperity." And he won it on impeachment. Democrats aren't shrinking from an ideological war with the new iteration of the GOP -- the neocon war party, bathed in corruption and incompetence -- most are relishing it.
I also think Barack risks becoming shrill, at at time when Democrats need to be united to win. Not a good look for the candidate of hope.
Mitt Romney buys himself an Iowa straw poll! The Mittster took a resounding 32% of the vote, at a bargain price of around $3,000,000 (divided by the 4,505 or so folks who voted for him works out to ... ah! About $666 per voter! ...COINCIDENCE...!!!??? ) Ahem... Mike Huckabee finished second with 18%, followed by Sam Brownback of Kansas. Rudy didn't bother to compete, and I think "Baghdad John" got, like, some old lady from Deluth to show up for him... Interestingly enough, Ron Paul finished fifth, which for him, is pretty freaking fabulous. Of course, Romney's win in a contest in which only around 14,000 people voted, does give rise to certain, less than exuberant headlines. Here's one from the AP:
Despite the swarthy shenanigans of the rainbow and sunshine state and pesky South Carolina, the whitest state in the Union (sorry, New Hampshire) will maintain its first in the nation polling status, without moving its caucuses into the Christmachaunakwanzika season. Hooray!
(CNN) – At a campaign stop in Bettendorf, Iowa Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was asked whether any of his sons were enlisted in the military and what they were doing to “support the war on terror.”
“The good news is, we have a volunteer army, and we’re going to keep it that way,” the former Massachusetts governor responded. “My sons are all adults…. They’ve made their decisions about their careers and chosen not to serve in the military and I respect that decision.”
The question came from a reputed war protestor while Romney was discussing Iraq. The presidential hopeful continued his answer by calling for a “surge of support” for those enlisted and their families.
Can't you jusr hear the patriotic marching band? I think it's playing the old timey tune, "Summer of the Blue Blood Chickenhawks." Watch Romney take it to the streets here.
The Democratic debate tonight on MSNBC, sponsored by the AFL-CIO, is a wrap. It was by far the most contentious, combative debate so far, and the leading candidates ripped into each other in a way that was almost uncomfortable to watch. Barack took incoming fire from Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden on his comments about invading Pakistan. Hillary took flak from Edwards about being on the cover of Forbes Magazine as the candidate that corporate America is betting on, but she gave it right back, declaring herself the candidate who can win, and who has a history of taking on the wingers. In a nutshell, here's my quick assessment, in order of how well I think they did:
Hillary Clinton - I think she won it again, even though she lost the battle for the crowd with Barack, who had home field advantage. Hillary came off as strong, and as the one on the receiving end, rather than the battering end, of Dem on Dem attacks. Hil needs to watch her upper register when she gets loud to shout over the crowd, but overall, this tiny lady again distinguished herself as the most succinct, the most savvy, the most competent, and the most prepared to be president on the day she enters office.
Joe Biden - Another strong performance. This guy has knowledge to spare, particularly on matters of foreign policy. He did well tonight, even infusing some humor into the debate, i.e., his one word answer to the question of whether he would end no-bid contracts ("Yes.") ... and when he showed a softer side by sympathizing with a woman who lost her husband in the Sago mine, by referring to his own loss of a spouse. This guy would make a hell of a secretary of state.
Barack Obama - I thought he came off as strident, almost to the point of nasty tonight, and far too prone to Democratic fratricide in his quest to topple Hillary Clinton. His constant slaps at Hillary, Dodd and other "Washington insiders" who voted for the war is what he has to do (though they might remind him that since taking office, he has repeatedly voted for the funding of the war,) and he had the hometown crowd in the palm of his hand. But at the end of the day, Chris Dodd was right when he said that Barack was in the wrong for telegraphing his Pakistan policy to the world. Hillary is right on substance, but Barack won the crowd. At the end of the day, when the glow wears off, Hillary will be seen as the more presidential on foreign policy.
Chris Dodd - He's a bit dull, but was good on substance tonight. He still has an image problem, and no shot at being president, but he did well. One caveat: he was one of the worst at not directly answering the questions.
Bill Richardson - Richardson is as dull as dishwater, and he failed to distinguish himself in any way tonight. This guy's timer should have long since run out, but he's still in play, frankly, because Democrats still believe they may have to play the Latino card to win out West.
John Edwards - Edwards probably had the worst performance of the night. He is coming off as increasingly desperate in these contests, flailing out at Hillary's corporate ties (despite being a rich trial lawyer himself), trying to sting his opponents on the war, as if he never voted for it, and pushing his one liner about not taking lobbyist money even when the question was about healthcare. Not a good show, John.
Dennis Kucinich - This guy is a Socialist, pure and simple. He wants to put us all on Medicare, which is insane, he wants to turn the White House into the "workers White House," which sounds suspiciously like "Socialist paradise," and he claims he'd cancel NAFTA and the WTO agreement immediately upon entering office. He sure is animated, though, and I'd have rated him higher than Edwards had he not sounded so insane.
At the end of the day, Barack will probably win the Internet polls, but Hillary will be ahead by another 2 points by week's end.
Much to the chagrin of people like John Edwards (and Newt Gingrich, from the sound of his increasingly histrionic tone) there really are only three people in the race for president: Hillary Clinton, who now holds a commanding 22 point lead over her nearest Democratic contender for the nomination, according the the latest USAT/Gallup poll; the aforementioned nearest competitor, Barack Obama, and Rudy Giuliani, the nightmare candidate from the left-right, who would have us mow down every Arab and Muslim from here to Timbuktu were he to ever darken the door of the White House.
The latest news on the triad:
Hillary and Barack enter a Cold War phase -- I'd guess Hillary was pissed when he screwed around with her inevitability by running.
Still, many are predicting that eventually, they'll have to unite under one banner, given his hugh fundraising and continued popularity -- oddly formed plans to bomb the bejeezus out of Pakistan, notwithstanding...
Rudy predicts as much, too, even as the smart observers predict that he would make an absolutely awful president, and a dangerous one too, given that he fuels his neoconservatism with ignorant bluster and constant threats of terrorism and war. Not what the thinking American voter is looking for, but unfortunately, there still are some cowardly Americans out there who cleave to Rudy's brand of scare 'em from the rafters phony conservatism.
Meanwhile, out there in the hinterlands, John Edwards has gone from sniping at his betters for fighting each other, to sniping at Bill Clinton -- not so smart, J.E., I mean you do want to win the Democratic nomination, right...?
Dennis Kucinich has gone straight up Socialist -- still whinging for "not-for-profit" healthcare -- read Medicare for all, and a "Department of Peace." What is this guy smoking, anyway? Survey says: his camp thinks he's winning this thing...
I'd go on, but as I said at the start, there really are only three people in this thing. Four if you count the current iteration of Mitt Romney (or more to the point, Mitt Romney's money...) or the ghost of Fred Thompson...
"What Giuliani is, is George Bush on steroids.” Edwards said. “Giuliani, Romney and the rest of the Republicans running for the nomination are going to give the country four more years of crony capitalism, which is exactly what we have now. We have insurance companies and drug companies and oil companies running this government. They need to be stopped. And Giuliani just wants to empower them.”
CNN did a nice job with the Youtube debate last night. No major news, nothing to really shake up the race. I still think Joe Biden is freaking hilarious, John Edwards looks rather desperate (and there was something strange going on with his hair ... kind of an airplane hangar effect in the front...) Bill Richardson looks like a bullfrog, Dennis Kucinich fades into the background and Mike Gravel is nuts ... with moments of lucid truthtelling, if in a bug-eyed crazy kind of way. Hillary and Barack did well and they remain the leaders.
The Pentagon's Eric Edelman, one of those notorious neoocn undersecretaries, tossed Hillary a big, juicy softball with his ridiculous "aiding the enemy" letter in response to her letter, via the Senate Arms Services Committee, on which she serves to oversee the Pentagon ... duh ... and in which she asked for any Pentagon plans for an orderly eventual withdrawal from Iraq. Here's the background, in case you missed it:
On May 23, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates urging him to “prepare plans for the phased redeployment of U.S. forces.”
Given the express will of the Congress to implement a phased eplroyment of United States forces from Iraq and the importance of proper contingency planning to achieve that goal, I write to request that you provide the appropriate oversight committees in Congress - including the Senate Armed Services Committee - with briefings on what current contingency plans exist for the future withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Alternatively, if no such plans exist, please provide an explanation for the decision not to engage in such planning.
Clinton said she conveyed similar concerns in a private meeting with Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Peter Pace, and has publicly warned the administration that redeployment is “complicated” and “If they’re not planning for it, it will be difficult to execute it in a safe and efficacious way.”
Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia. … [S]uch talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks.
Tough talk, and I'm sure Mr. Edelman thought that as in the past, such talk would shut down any talk about withdrawal, timetables, or opposition to the president's policy in Iraq. But this is not 2004, and Hillary Clinton is not John Kerry. In fact, as The Politico's Ben Smith points out, Edelman's broadside was probably the best thing to happen to Hillary all week:
Defense Undersecretary Eric Edelman, a former Cheney aide, really handed Hillary an enormous gift with his letter warning that "premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda."
That may have worked in 2004. Now it's just a gift to Hillary. Her staff would not, of course, say whether they knew how the AP had "obtained" Edelman's letter. But it was an incredible gift to her, and her aides promptly hit it out of the park, right there in the first version of the story.
Her Senate spokesman, Philippe Reines, demanded that the administration provide a withdrawal plan rather than "a political plan to attack those who question them."
He also called the comments "outrageous and dangerous" and, to boot, warned against "redeploying out of Iraq with the same combination of arrogance and incompetence with which the Bush administration deployed our young men and women into Iraq."
Is there still any danger here for Clinton, any chance that voters — Democratic primary voters?! — consider criticism of the war effort and discussion of withdrawal disloyal? Edelman seems to have thought so -- that excerpt reads as a shot across the bows. But it's a bit too late in the day for that, isn't it? When you've everyone from Richard Lugar to a front-page blogger on Kos getting your back, it's a pretty good day.
Indeed. Hillary, who is clearly thinking about her administration, rather than her nomination, is simply smoking the Bush administration out on its continued lack of planning in Iraq. The fact that the undersecretary would throw elbows in such a retro, 2004 manner might leave one to conclude that, just as they failed to plan properly for the occupation of Iraq, the Pentagon has made no plans for withdrawal from Iraq. And Hillary is on firm ground in asking the questions, first, since its her job as a member of the Armed Services Committee, and because the American people are demanding withdrawal by 70 percent majorities, and it would help to know if the civilian morons running the Pentagon have any clue how to get it done.
Hillary gets to try out her Dojo Bill immediate slap-back style, plus she gets some love from the left end of the base, and she plumps up her credentials as a pragrmatic, thorough and forward thinking commander in chief. Nice work if you can get it. More on Clinton's response, including her letter to Edelman's boss:
Saying that other members of the Bush administration had not resorted to political attacks when asked about contingency plans or the possibility of a phased withdrawal, Senator Clinton, a member of the Armed Services Committee wrote:
Rather than offer to brief the congressional oversight committees on this critical issue, Under Secretary Edelman – writing on your behalf – instead claims that congressional oversight emboldens our enemies. Under Secretary Edelman has his priorities backward. Open and honest debate and congressional oversight strengthens our nation and supports our military.
His suggestion to the contrary is outrageous and dangerous. Indeed, you acknowledged the importance of Congress in our Iraq policy at a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee in March, when you stated, “I believe that the debate here on the Hill and the issues that have been raised have been helpful in bringing pressure to bear on the Maliki government and on the Iraqis in knowing that there is a very real limit to American patience in this entire enterprise.”
I renew my request for a briefing, classified if necessary, on current plans for the future withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq or an explanation for the decision not to engage in such planning. I also renew my concern that our troops will be placed in unnecessary danger if the Bush Administration fails to plan for the withdrawal of U.S. Forces. Finally, I request that you describe whether Under Secretary Edelman’s letter accurately characterizes your views as Secretary of Defense.
I would appreciate the courtesy of a prompt response directly from you.
Take that in our backside. (Full letter via ThinkP here)
Meanwhile, the headline I get out of the New York Times/CBS poll is that Americans of both sexes are united in finding Hil to be a credible CIC, and that she's holding all the cards when it comes to the women's vote, with the exception of the throwback '50s housefrau vote. ...
Update: Bob Gates apparently is saying he will get back to Mrs. Clinton shortly. Meanwhile, the headlines have been gonzo for her:
Well, senator, with the "Sopranos"-influenced video gone viral, you managed to convince millions of Americans that you do have a sense of humor. With the continuing massaging of your position on Iraq, you've managed to convince a significant number of liberals that you have a sense of urgency about the war. And with the most recent poll results, you must have a sense of yourself as the front runner.
Now it's time to show that you have a sense of history, a sense that this election is bigger than just one woman's ambitions. Make it your business to persuade Barack Obama to be your running mate.
Conventional thinkers like to make this sound risky, pairing a woman and a black man on the ticket. But it's not as wild as it sounds. The calculus of choosing someone for the second spot is always, first and foremost, whether the choice hurts your chances. The answer here is no. Anyone who would be put off by Obama isn't going to vote for you in the first place.
The second question is what you gain. The way in which that has been interpreted has usually been tediously predictable, and has centered on geographic balance. That's how John Kerry of Massachusetts wound up with Southerner John Edwards.
You have a more inventive and useful role model where this issue is concerned, and, I'm sorry, but it's Bill. You probably get tired of hearing about how good he was at all of this, especially since one key to how good he was, was you. But people forget that he stood the issue of how to choose a running mate on its head. Instead of balance, he and Al Gore were a double threat—two young Southerners with future-forward notions about government. Millennium squared.
But that was nothing compared with the excitement that would ensue if you eschewed your customary caution and asked Obama to join you in creating the first real 21st-century ticket. It's not simply that with one fell swoop you would solidify the two largest blocs of Democratic support, but that the historic nature of the pairing would galvanize the race and make any Republican slate seem so same-old. Every politician likes to talk about a new era. The day the Clinton-Obama ticket is announced would really be one for the history books.
There's more. Read the rest of Quindlen's piece here.
New York's firefighters have good reason to despise Rudolph Giuliani.
As mayor of New York, he made the absolutely ridiculous decision to locate the command center for emergency response inside World Trade Center 7, a decision he made just months after the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, just before he took office ... Giuliani's decision was apparently made for his own convenience -- to locate the command center close to City Hall, rather than in Brooklyn, a place Giuliani was loathe to go (too many Black people, you know...)
He failed to make sure that firefighters, like his cherished New York police, had the most modern radios, leading to tragedy on September 11, 2001, when New York City's bravest failed to get the radio message that the towers were going to collapse -- something Giuliani knew in advance, but that the firefighters did not. As a result of the confusion on that day, most of the police officers who were, heroically, working to evacuate people from the towers got out alive. Scores of firefighters did not (a total of 343 firefighters and paramedics, along with 23 NYPD officers and 37 Port Authority Police officers lost their lives, including 200 firefighters who never got the order to evacuate.) A PBS account of that morning tells the chilling story:
8:46 a.m. American Airlines Flight 11 crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center.
8:47 Eighteen fire companies begin responding to a fifth alarm, setting up a command post in the lobby of the north tower when they arrive.
9:03 United Airlines Flight 175 crashes into the south tower of the WTC. Another command post is set up in south tower, as a second fifth alarm is broadcast. ...
... 9:10 Over thirty more companies have arrived, and a third interior command post is set up inside the Marriott Hotel, located by the base of the north tower. Meanwhile, an exterior command center has been set up on West Street. Top-level fire chiefs send units into the towers from here. ...
... 9:45 Battalion Chief Orio J. Palmer and Fire Marshal Ronald P. Bucca have reached the impact zone on the 78th floor of the south tower. Palmer radios to Chief Edward Geraghty that they are sending a group of injured survivors to the tower's only working elevator on the 41st floor.
9:57 Dozens of firefighters near the south tower command post are still waiting in the lobby for orders to go up into the tower.
A warning about the towers' instability is issued from the Fire Vehicle Staging Area, where emergency vehicles from Brooklyn have gathered and wait for orders.
9:59 On the 35th floor of the north tower, some firefighters hear a cry of "mayday! Evacuate the building" over the radio, and four companies begin to descend. Around the 28th or 30th floor, a crowd of resting firefighters is told to evacuate.
Meanwhile, the south tower collapses.
10:00 Battalion Chief Joseph Pfeifer radios an evacuation order that is received by some chiefs in the north tower, but not all.
A firefighter on the 65th floor radios that a nearby floor has collapsed. This is the highest floor a firefighter is known to have reached in the north tower.
10:15 Firefighters, court officers, and other witnesses find group of firefighters, according to some estimates as many as a hundred, catching their breath on the 19th floor. Most in the north tower are not aware that the south tower has already collapsed. Told to evacuate, many of the firefighters say they'll come down "in a minute."
10:29 The north tower collapses, bringing down the Marriott Hotel as well. Over a third of the firefighters lost were in the north tower, and some were still in the lobby of the Marriott directing evacuations.
Some two weeks after the September 11 attacks, on September 30, Mayor Giuliani was informed that a cache of silver, gold and precious metals, including $200 million worth of gold bullion deposited in the vaults of the Bank of Nova Scotia -- a cache worth several hundred millions of dollars -- had been located beneath World Trade Center building 4. The next day, Giuliani ordered the recovery of remains -- including those of still missing firefighters, to halt, and instead, called for a mass excavation of soil from the site which was transported to Fresh Kills landfill -- a dump. Remains of many firefighters and other victims of the World Trade Center attacks and collapse are believed to still be in that rubble, at that garbage dump.
After September 11, Giuliani proceeded to use the attacks, not as a platform to try and heal the nation, or the city he himself had torn apart during his stormy mayoral term, but rather, to enrich himself, literally trading on the memories of murdered Americans and others, and on the deaths of the same firefighters he couldn't be bothered to recover from the field where they had fallen. Giuliani has become filthy rich making speeches, and taking on clients for his security consulting business, all while burnishing a phony image, greased by a pliant, sycophant American media, as "America's mayor."
WASHINGTON -- The day before Senate Watergate Committee minority counsel Fred Thompson made the inquiry that launched him into the national spotlight -- asking an aide to President Nixon whether there was a White House taping system -- he telephoned Nixon's lawyer.
Thompson tipped off the White House that the committee knew about the taping system and would be making the information public. In his all-but-forgotten Watergate memoir, "At That Point in Time," Thompson said he acted with "no authority" in divulging the committee's knowledge of the tapes, which provided the evidence that led to Nixon's resignation. It was one of many Thompson leaks to the Nixon team, according to a former investigator for Democrats on the committee, Scott Armstrong , who remains upset at Thompson's actions.
"Thompson was a mole for the White House," Armstrong said in an interview. "Fred was working hammer and tong to defeat the investigation of finding out what happened to authorize Watergate and find out what the role of the president was."
Asked about the matter this week, Thompson -- who is preparing to run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination -- responded via e-mail without addressing the specific charge of being a Nixon mole: "I'm glad all of this has finally caused someone to read my Watergate book, even though it's taken them over thirty years."
The view of Thompson as a Nixon mole is strikingly at odds with the former Tennessee senator's longtime image as an independent-minded prosecutor who helped bring down the president he admired. Indeed, the website of Thompson's presidential exploratory committee boasts that he "gained national attention for leading the line of inquiry that revealed the audio-taping system in the White House Oval Office." It is an image that has been solidified by Thompson's portrayal of a tough-talking prosecutor in the television series "Law and Order."
But the story of his role in the Nixon case helps put in perspective Thompson's recent stance as one of the most outspoken proponents of pardoning I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Just as Thompson once staunchly defended Nixon, Thompson urged a pardon for Libby, who was convicted in March of obstructing justice in the investigation into who leaked a CIA operative's name.
Thompson declared in a June 6 radio commentary that Libby's conviction was a "shocking injustice . . . created and enabled by federal officials." Bush on Monday commuted Libby's 30-month sentence, stopping short of a pardon.
The intensity of Thompson's remarks about Libby is reminiscent of how he initially felt about Nixon. Few Republicans were stronger believers in Nixon during the early days of Watergate. ...
Thompson, in his 1975 memoir, wrote that he believed "there would be nothing incriminating" about Nixon on the tapes, a theory he said "proved totally wrong."
Joe Biden has rarely been at a loss for words. Political acumen? Maybe. But not words. Here's his latest verbal fireball (which often is tied to his penchant for self-immolation):
DES MOINES — Joseph Biden, the Delaware Democrat running for president, is a man of strong opinions. During a campaign event in a Des Moines backyard today, Mr. Biden had some choice words for President Bush and two of the Republicans running for the White House.
“This guy is brain dead,” Mr. Biden said to surprised applause and laughter from the crowd. “I know I’ll be quoted, I’ll be killed for that.”
“This is a guy who is on the balls of his heals, here’s a guy who is lower off in the polls than any president in modern history and he goes ahead and he does something that just flies in the face of the sensibilities of the American people.”
Ha! I love Biden's bluntness in a lot of ways, and I agree that Dubya is a moron, but damn, Joe, that's not exactly presidential...
I think that one of the most fascinating things to watch is white politicians attempting to communicate to a room full of black people. At tonight's PBS debate between the Democratic presidential candidates at Howard University, hosted by Tavis Smiley, the performances by the white candidates ranged from full-on pander (John Edwards -- using 2004 "two Americas" rhetoric for God's sakes...) to really loud, churchy sounding semi-pander (Biden) to wrong audience pander (Richardson -- the "I'm the first Latino to run for president" deal works a lot better in front of a Latino audience, pal, especially since many Blacks feel they are being displaced as the Dems' minority of choice...) to surprisingly smooth and stealthy (Hillary Clinton).
It will come as a surprise to the MSM that Barack Obama -- the only Black candidate, as you know -- did not get the loudest applause during the walk in -- that went to Hillary. And she delivered the line of the night when she noted that "if AIDS was the leading cause of death among white women in their 20s and 30s we'd be well on the way to a cure." I won't go through the littany of responses by each candidate, but each gave the star-studden audience (Marian Wright Edelman, Cornel West, Tom Joyner, Harry Belafonte, Al Sharpton, etc., etc., etc.,) some permutation of "the war on drugs is hurting Black people", "racism is still a problem," and "tax cuts for the rich suck."
Maybe I'm being a bit cynical, but I guess I was looking for more questions about Iraq.
OK, here's the rundown:
Hillary Clinton -- she's your winner tonight. She came off as the most commanding, the most prepared, and the most thorough in her responses. She constantly reminded the audience of the contrast between the current administration and her husband's without naming him (he's now known as "the 90s" ... and she managed to stop shouting ... eventually.
Barack Obama -- a close second to Hillary. He exploited his ease with the audience for all it was worth, but as has become the norm with Barack, as much as I like him, he was short on specifics. Barack has a natural, conversational style that is very seductive in a political sense (and he had a great comeback when Biden talked about himself and Barack getting tested for AIDS while in Africa. Barack clarified that he was tested along with his wife, in public...)
John Edwards -- this guy is the ultimate pander bear. He opened by casually name dropping the Howard mascot, and reminding the audience that he's from the Sizzouth. Then he got going with the "talking about poverty is my life's work" spiel. This guy has really got to update his message, and put 2004 behind him. Had he reminded us that he was the son of a mill worker, I would have been forced to jab a fork in my eye.
Bill Richardson -- I can't remember a single thing he said, sadly. Not a single, solitary thing.
Chris Dodd -- zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.......
Joe Biden -- he came off as a little bit too forceful for my taste. He came off like an angry father ... either that or a guy just two seconds from using the phrase "you people."
Dennis Kucinich -- still trying to take the profit out of healthcare. Don't tell those med students still paying off their student loans and looking for good paying jobs.
Mike Gravel -- he steals the crazy right out from under Kucinich's nose. I half expected him to leap from the stage, whip off his shirt and trousers and scream like a warewolf. Actually, I wish he'd done that. It would have livened things up. Gravel did make the comment that this debate was the fairest thus far. In other words, it was the only debate that gave the candidates with absolutely no shot at the nomination, much more airtime than they deserved.
Update: it's just after 10:30, and John Edwards just mentioned that goddamned mill. Where's my fork...?
Update 2: Hillary just called for shooting down the planes of those attacking civilians in Darfur. Now Biden is yelling about no-fly zones to try and match her Margaret Thatcher with his Winston Churchill. Bill Richardson's answer on Darfur was both long and boring. Heavy on resume, light on charisma. Oh god, now John Edwards is answering ... here comes the two Americas writ large ... two worlds, perhaps? Obama on Darfur: "no fly zones are important, but we have to look at Africa before the crises begin ... on trade and investment." Good answer, but he failed to get to the passion of the audience. Kucinich is getting some audience love right now by saying that "let's face it, if Darfur had a large supply of oil, the administration would be occupying it right now." Um ... Congressman... there's oil under them there Janjaweed...
With Al Gore counted out of the race (he says he's not running, so why count him in? Ditto Thompson and Gingrich, although at least Thompson is a likely entrant, probably sometime soon...) Hillary expands her lead over Barack Obama in the Sunshine States by five additional points.
On the GOP side, the big story is the continued insurgency of Fred Thompson, which does not appear to be anywhere near its last throes. Thompson has shaved Rudy Giuliani's lead in the state down to a nub, and if and when he enters, he apparently has the effect of bisecting the religious white male vote, giving abortion-averse but terrorism-fearing Republican men someplace else to go.
This morning, Phil Hendry, the right wing self-described Democrat who inexplicably has been added to the early morning lineup of the Clear Channel station that runs Air America and Jones Radio Networks programming here in South Florida, predicted that Clinton and Giuliani would ultimately be the nominees, and that despite his preference for Rudy, Hillary would likely win the White House because she represents "just enough change" to move us away from George W. Bush's problems, but not so much that it makes people uncomfortable.
Ralph Nader has a need ... or rather, he has two needs. The first is a need for attention. Specifically, he needs the kind of attention that you can only get from running for president. After receiving that kind of gaze, it's hard to go back to being a mere columnist. The second need that Ralph Nader appears to have, is for there to be the kind of president in office in Washington -- since he, of course, cannot win the presidency, he can only prevent some other candidate from winning -- whom he can rail against and blame for the ills he will one day run for president to reverse.
Given that, it is highly likely that Ralph Nader will attempt to feed his twin needs again in 2008 -- running for president in order to rev up his ego, and in order to prevent a Democrat from assuming office, if he can, the better to maintain his relevancy. That's because if a Republican wins, Ralph Nader can continue to rail against -- and to raise money on -- the evils of war, pollution and corporate greed. Those have become the hallmarks of the Republican Party, and at the end of the day, the best friend the Republican Party has, is Ralph Nader.
And then there are Nader's more prurient interests. Back in 2000, Salon.com described Nader's financial holdings this way:
Lefties like to bash Gore for being a tool of corporate America. More specifically, Gore incurs their wrath because the trust of his mother, Pauline, owns stock in Occidental Petroleum which, according to Nader running mate Winona LaDuke, "is working to exploit oil reserves under U'wa land in Colombia." The U'wa are an indigenous tribe in Colombia, and became the champions of an anti-Gore rally at the Democratic National Convention.
"As I listen to the vice president espouse his views on campaign finance reform, I look at his investment portfolio and have to ask how that might influence public policy," LaDuke has said, slamming Gore erroneously for "own[ing] substantial stock in Occidental Oil Co."
"The Occidental projects are so beyond the pale about what's reasonable and moral in this modern era," says Patrick Reinsborough, grass-roots coordinator for the Rainforest Action Network. Reinsborough says that his group has been primarily targeting Gore and Fidelity Investments in general, Fidelity Magellan being part of the Fidelity Investments mutual funds network, as well as the one with the largest quantity of Occidental stock. "We have called upon Ralph Nader -- as we would call upon any citizen -- to either divest from Fidelity or to participate in shareholder activism," Reinsborough says. "Gore has much more long-standing links to Occidental Petroleum."
But even if Fidelity were to divest its holdings in Occidental, it holds shares in so many companies Nader has crusaded against, it's hard to escape the conclusion that Nader's participation in the fund is supremely hypocritical. The fund, for example, owns stock in the Halliburton Company, where George W. Bush's running mate, Dick Cheney, recently worked as president and COO. The fund has investments in supremely un-p.c. clothiers the Gap and the Limited, both of which have been the target of rocks by World Trade Organization protesters, as well as Wal-Mart, the slayer of mom-and-pop stores from coast to coast.
Nader spokeswoman Laura Jones says that only the candidate himself can answer questions about his personal investments. Nader could not be reached for comment.
In a June interview with the Washington Post about his millionaire earnings -- much of which he has donated to his public interest groups -- Nader said the stocks he chose were "the most neutral-type companies ... No. 1, they're not monopolists and No. 2, they don't produce land mines, napalm, weapons."
But this is not true. The Fidelity Magellan fund owns 777,080 shares of Raytheon, a major missile manufacturer. And this isn't the only example of his rhetoric not matching up with his financial investments.
"I'm quite aware of how the arms race is driven by corporate demands for contracts, whether it's General Dynamics or Lockheed Martin," Nader told the Progressive in April. "They drive it through Congress. They drive it by hiring Pentagon officials in the Washington military industrial complex, as Eisenhower phrased it." The Fidelity Magellan fund owns 2,041,800 shares of General Dynamics.
Nader's holdings also include "2,908,600 shares of Boeing, 24,753,870 shares of British Petroleum-Amoco and 28,751,268 shares of Exxon-Mobil [through the Magellan fund]. The fund also owns stock in Shell, Sunoco, Texaco and Chevron -- on whose board Bush advisor Condoleezza Rice serves" as well as "15,266,900 shares of Bristol-Myers Squibb," which Nader has slammed for charging 20 times the manufacturing costs for its drugs. Nice portfolio if you can get it.
So if -- or when -- Nader runs, from whom can he expect support? Only the farthest extreme of the left, which detests Hillary Clinton and considers her to be just another corporate sycophant who refuses to apologize for her vote to authorize force against Iraq. But I suspect that even on the left, the pragmatists will far out-number the Nader nihilists, especially if a particularly authoritarian Republican candidate makes the finals (Rudy Giuliani comes to mind, but then again, these days, so does Fred Thompson...)
Nader can have very little impact nationally, and he will likely continue to decline in terms of electoral support, from his 2.7% in 2000 to the 1 percent or so he pulled four years later. But even if he gets a few tenths of a percent, the question isn't how much he gets, it's where he gets it. If it's in key swing states like Pennsylvania or Florida (though the latter is less relevant this year, in my opinion, given the primacy of the Western states) he could do just enough damage to give himself a fresh Republican president to rail against, and a few million more pennies in his stock portfolio.
Mitt Romney wants to double the size of Guantanamo, use "24" style torture, and fight to the last American in Iraq. Too bad he didn't have that fighting spirit back during the Vietnam War... surprise surprise ... is John McCain the only Republicans alive who isn't a rank hypocrite when it comes to the war?
As if I needed yet another reason to detest Uncle Rudy... Greg Palast has the latest dirt on "Mr. 9/11" and his nefarious friends. Reports Palast:
Paul Singer is a vulture. And a billionaire. And, with his underlings at Elliott Associates, the number one sugar-daddy donor to the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani, dropping $168,400 so far and, according to secret campaign documents, committed to raise $10 million for Rudolf the Great, Emperor of 9/11.
So who is this bird of prey Singer who holds Rudy in his beak?
Unlike feathered predators, Singer preys on the living. Singer figured out a way to siphon off funds intended for debt relief to some of the poorest countries in the world. Nice guy.
And by the way, I didn't come up with the moniker "vulture." Just about everyone, from the new Prime Minister of Britain to the World Bank, calls Singer and his ilk "vultures."
Here's how a vulture operation works. The vulture fund buys up the debt of poor nations cheaply when it is about to be written off and then sue for the full value of the debt plus interest -- sometimes more than ten times what they paid for it. Singer, for example, paid just $10 million for Congo Brazzaville's debt and is now suing for over $400 million.
Singer knew he'd turn a 1000%-plus profit on his $10 million investment with George Bush's help.
Bush convinced the US Congress to forgive the money Congo owes the US taxpayer, but once the US taxpayer forgives Congo's debt, the vulture, Singer, swoops in with lawyers to claim, "Congo now has the money to pay ME."
But wait a minute - the debt money given up by US taxpayers wasn't supposed to go to Rudy's predator Singer. In fact, the US Constitution provides power to the President to stop vultures from suing a foreign country in a US court if the President states such a private lawsuit interferes with America's foreign policy.
Singer, by suing Congo for the taxpayer money meant for debt relief and medicine, is interfering with US foreign policy. Yet Bush has done nothing.
While the President has made big speeches about debt relief for Africa and has even had his picture taken with a Bono, he won't get in the way of Singer's talons. One wonders if the President is influenced by Mr. Singer's strong support for debt relief, that is, debt relief for the Republican Party. The world's top vulture has become top donor to the GOP in New York.
Singer's not alone. He's joined in tearing at the flesh of the Congo's poor by a Washington operator named Michael Francis Sheehan. Sheehan is also known as "Goldfinger."
Besides joining Singer in attacking Congo, Goldfinger has also taken a piece of the debt relief earmarked for AIDS medicine for Zambia. Goldfinger paid $4 million for the right to collect on Zambia's debt - and just won $22 million from Zambia in a UK court, half that nation's debt relief. Goldfinger was able to seize that money because, he boasts in an email, he secretly paid $2 million to the "favorite charity" of Zambia's president. (That former President, Frederick Chiluba, is now under arrest for taking bribes ... but Goldfinger can still collect his pound of flesh.) ...
Hear Palast's report on the Rhandi Rhodes show here. More on our friendly neighborhood Bush pioneer and Rudy 'raisin vulture, Paul Singer, from Public Citizen here. Apparently, he has the hots for Peru's debt, too...
One wonders whether Rudy -- who has made fear and 9/11 his carrion just as sure as his fundraisers have done with Africa's poor -- should add a thirteenth "commitment" (not one on his marriage, because we all know how much he values commitments of that sort...) to his presidential "to do" list: this one to hedge fund managers everywhere: "I will help you to get even richer, probably at the expense of some black or brown kid with flies in his eyes... just as I have enriched myself on the graves 9/11."
Those of you who read this blog or listen to the morning show I do for Radio One Miami know by now that I detest, abhor and despise Rudolph Giuliani, the cousin-marrying former Gestapo mayor of New York. And so I delight in any news that is detrimental to his candidacy for president. (Hey, there's no shame in my game!) So here are some delights for my fellow travelers:
In December of last year, around the time of Pearl Harbor Day (the day of the Alberto Gonzales U.S. attorney purge, btw...) Rudy took it upon himself to bloviate about how awful it would be for the United States to quit Iraq, indicating that he disagreed with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group that the U.S. set a timeline for orderly withdrawal and push the Iraqi government to take charge of its own affairs. The conservative New York Sun newspaper reported the following on December 7:
Mayor Giuliani resigned from the Iraq Study Group when it became clear that signing the group's report would politicize its findings and conflict with his likely presidential run in 2008.
On Tuesday, June 19, 2007, the Sun, apparently revised its opinion, reporting as follows:
Ouch. This is a damaging one for Rudy Giuliani: He apparently quit the Iraq Study Group last spring in favor of giving millions of dollars worth of speeches trading on his status as the "hero of 9/11."
So in other words, why sit on the Iraq Study Group and get some actual FOREIGN POLICY EXPERIENCE when a full third of brain dead Republican voters think you already have it, by virtue of surviving the attacks at Ground Zero ... which, by the way, means that tens of thousands of New Yorkers in the vicinity of the Twin Towers on the morning of September 11, 2001 are also qualified to be president of the United States... And besides, Rudy had to make ... that ... money peddling Oxycontin and gettin' that NAFTA superhighway built. He's a veritable (and that's the correct usage of the word, by the way, to those who listen to the morning show ... wink-wink...) 9/11 cash machine, pimping his undeserved glory for all its worth. More from the NY Sun's revised opinion on Rudy:
So far, Mr. Giuliani's Iraq position has boiled down to, "We have to win." That, plus instituting Compstat in Iraq — an almost laughable if it weren't so serious solution to the hell on earth we've helped birth in the broader Middle East. One has to hope he (and the rest of the Republicans) has a little something better up his sleeve.
(More on the WTC and Rudy here. More on Rudy's prevarications on the matter here.)
Oh, and his South Carolina campaign co-chair: indicted, just like Bernie Kerik.
Michael Bloomberg, former Democrat, today became a former Republican. In other words, he's running for president. From the competition, a back and forth over who a Bloomberg (with Chuck Hagel?) candidacy would hurt:
"If he runs, this guarantees a Republican will be the next president of the United States. The Democrats have to be shaking in their boots," said Greg Strimple, a Republican strategist in New York who is unaligned in the race.
The belief among some operatives is that Bloomberg's moderate positions would siphon votes from the Democratic nominee. Others say it's not clear and his impact would depend on the nominees.
Former Democratic Party Chairman Donald Fowler said Bloomberg would be "a disturbing factor to both parties," but the mayor would probably draw more Republican votes simply because "Republicans are more disenchanted than Democrats."
"Democrats are pretty happy with their candidates," Fowler said. "The Republicans are absolutely in disarray."
He called Bloomberg "an exceptionally capable guy" who is "hard-nosed and accomplished," but argued that the obstacles for a third-party candidate are so daunting that it would be nearly impossible for Bloomberg to win.
Will the MSM ever examine "Mr 9/11" Rudy Giuliani's actual record as mayor of New York (and his pimping of 9/11), his ties to the nefarious plan to build a NAFTA superhighway, his ties to Venezuela's Citgo and Mexico's Cintra, or his dirty dealings with Bernie Kerik? Only time will tell. One thing's for sure, it's not likely that one network in particular will bother:
Fox News' Pro-Giuliani Conflict of Interest By Cliff Kincaid May 22, 2007
Rudy Giuliani's much-publicized but misleading put-down of Ron Paul during the Republican presidential debate should have been tempered by a report that Saudi Arabia, the country that spawned most of the 9/11 hijackers, has been one of Giuliani's lucrative foreign clients. However, Fox News questioners Chris Wallace and Wendell Goler did not bring it up.
Perhaps this can be explained by the fact that the same Associated Press story that named Saudi Arabia as a Giuliani client listed News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, as another Giuliani client. This AP story, which was not disputed by Giuliani or News Corporation, was carried on the Fox News website.
Giuliani's law and lobbying clients have included Saudi Arabia, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., and chewing tobacco maker UST Inc.
Hm.... which leaves the Post-Chronicle's Kincaid to conclude:
This writer had raised questions about Fox News' co-sponsorship of the debate, based on the fact that the company had a relationship with Giuliani when he was mayor of New York City. But now we know that the relationship has continued into the period of time that Giuliani has been planning a presidential run. It is an obvious conflict of interest.
The conflicts continued after the S.C. debate:
Giuliani was the first Republican candidate to come on Fox News after the debate and talk about his performance. Co-host Sean Hannity wanted to focus on Giuliani's comments on 9/11 and his attack on Paul. Later, Michael Steele, Maryland's former Lieutenant Governor, was on Fox News, declaring that Giuliani had destroyed Ron Paul. "It's done," Steele said of Paul's campaign. It wasn't mentioned that Giuliani had campaigned for Steele when he ran for a Maryland Senate seat.
New polling numbers are out! Yes, for me that's akin to Christmas ... I've got issues... and here's how we're looking:
In New Hampshire, it looks like Guy Smiley has flip flopped into voters hearts, following the latest presidential debate. He's now ahead of the pack, with 27 percent in a new Franklin Pierce/WBZ poll, to Rudy Giuliani's 18 and Baghdad John's 17 percent.
A new Mason-Dixon poll concurs, showing Romney ahead for the GOP and Hillary continuing to rule the Democratic primary, with 27 percent and 26 percent respectively. In that poll, the GOP field is equally shaken up:
I think Pat Buchanan is right to peg Romney as the man most likely to win the New Hampshire primary.
The Fred Thompson factor...
New polls on the GOP side find one clear trend: Thompson is rising. He's tied with Giuliani in the latest Rasmussen poll, and just six points behind Rudy in a new LAT poll -- almost a statistical tie. Polls aside, Thompson is sucking the air out of many of his officially running rivals, particularly Rudy, who is slowly sinking like a leaky balloon, into the twenties, though still in the lead.
Meanwhile, on the Dem side, Hillary continues to maintain her lead, and surprise surprise, it's because of her strong support from women. No news there.
He's not yet running, officially, but the actor playing the part of Ronald Reagan in the GOP primary is already making waves in the polls.
Well, the CNN Republican debate is history (and could it possibly have been any older and whiter??? I felt like Wolf Blitzer should have been handing out free Viagra samples...!) Anyway, tomorrow morning we'll be having two Black Republicans from here in South Florida, as well as newly minted MSNBC political analyst Rev. Joe Watkins on the Big Show to discuss their reactions to the debate.
CNN's mini-panel has already weighed in, with Paul Begala scoring the debate for Rudy, GOP strategist Amy Holmes going for McCain, and the eternally non-committal Bill Schneider being non-committal.
If I had to score it, I'd give a slight edge to Rudy, because he managed to improve his answer on abortion, and finesse most of the questions that raise doubts about his conservatism. Also, he gets points for sheer will in getting 9/11 into literally every question -- I think he even shoved it into global warming!!! Overall, however, I think McCain might have himself some good, by appearing the most knowledgeable, the most sincere and the most passionate, about Iraq, immigration and even his defense of Native American tribes who might not fit an "English only" bill (McCain's answer had poor Duncan Hunter begging for a chance to show how much he loves the "injuns" too...)
I think Romney was the big loser tonight. He wasn't as polished as he was in the first debate, and he seemed unprepared to give fresh answers to the mounting questions about his flip-floppery. And he got nailed on the Spanish language versions of his ads and web-site. N.A.I.L.E.D.
Tom Tancredo put on a surprisingly good performance this time, with his blistering attacks on President Bush, which probably sets him apart as the true anti-Bush candidate this go-round. The crowd actually cheered when he said that as president, he'd echo what Karl Rove recently told him, namely, don't bother to darken the Whtie House door (then he lost it by saying we should halt all legal immigration into the U.S.) ... By contrast, I was amazed at how closely Rudy has decided to tack to the president, mimicking his stump speech lines on the "war on terror" and almost taking on his healthcare tax credit scheme verbatim, as his own. He was the most vigorous supporter of a pardon for Scooter Libby, and the staunchest defender of the decision to invade Iraq, saying it was "absolutely the right decision." (By the way, Bill Kristol has gone OFF on Bush over not immediately giving Scooter that pardon...)
One more point for Rudy, and I hate giving him points because I utterly loathe the man -- he was the only one to pick up on the political tactic of using the debate to attack the Democrats, based on their debate two nights ago.
By the way: best moment of the night: God striking Giuliani with lightning -- or at least striking his microphone -- as he tried to square his views on abortion with his Catholic faith. (See previous post).
Ron Paul struck me as exasperated, but again, as the only one on stage with a realistic grasp on the historical realities we face in the Middle East. Every one of his positions were ones that just 20 years ago, would have been wholly supportable by most Republicans. It's astonishing to me how much corporate greed (particularly in the oil and defense sectors) and neoconservatism have twisted and misshapen the Republican Party. It's almost unrecognizable from the party of even the 1980s. The bent toward interventionism, the hyper-paranoia, the desire for massive influxes of cheap laborers from abroad ... and all while apparently, the causes of Christian conservatives have fallen by the wayside, as much relics as Alberto Gonzales and Rudy Giuliani believe the Geneva Conventions to be.
It is precisely because the GOP has drifted so far off its moorings, that the neoconservatives have been so effective at taking over, shunting religous conservatives and fiscal conservatives (and Constitutional conservatives for that matter) aside, and made Wilsonian liberalism the standard that a Rudy Giuliani can carry right to the front of the line as a presidential candidate.
What a revolting development.
Update: MSNBC analysts call the debate a snooze. Haters. No, actually they're right.
God, Wolf Blitzer is annoying. Just thought I'd mention that...
The GOPers are in part two. The citizen question period starts with a very poignant question from a woman whose younger brother died in Iraq in December 2005, eight days before he was to return home.
Duncan Hunter and Sam Brownback answered pretty well, with Hunter getting in the fact that his son is serving. But John McCain owned the question, standing up while the others sat, and talking "straight talk" (ahem) about why we have to win in Iraq. Not that we can, John...
Ron Paul is taking the second question on Iraq. He says the biggest incentive for the Iraqis to do what they need to do is to leave and let them do it. Paul's answer on this so far has been the high point of the debate for me.
Oh God, now it's Rudy's turn. He's up and stalking the audience, and guess what? He's mentioned 9/11!!!!! Surprise, surprise. He is saying we need to properly "take on the role of nation building." I guess that answers whether he is a neocon. "We have to train our military" to do an "Iraq-stat" program (like his COPSTAT program in New York City) to determine whether schools are opening, factories are opening etc. Is this guy serious? That's NOT what the military is trained for. This guy is a Wilsonian Democrat from 1913! He should be writing for the New Republic, not running for president! Jeez...
Next question: Gilmore is saying conservatives should conserve ... the environment.
Tancredo says "ditto."
On healthcare: A town moderator told the story of a friend of his who discovered on vacation in Spain that his prescription drugs cost $600 less there. What do do?
Rudy Giuliani was first up, and may I say that it's really creepy when Giuliani gets up and walks toward the audience. He looks like an evil robot. He shouldn't do that anymore. His answer, by the way, was verbatim, the Bush "buy your own insurance through a tax credit" strategy. VERBATIM.
Now Tommy Thompson has bounced out of his chair to anwer a question about single payer healthcare. He's scaring me. His hair looks like it's going to get up and run away. And he's talking really loudly... Why is Tommy Thompson yelling at me...???
Most pressing issue facing America today (asked by a philosophy professor):
Gov. Huckabee -- "getting all the moral questions tonight better than getting the immoral questions..." -- understanding the sanctity of life...
Giuliani -- selling American freedoms to the Middle East (good God, this guy is a total neocon!)
Ron Paul is the town crier tonight. He sounds exasperated, saying the most pressing issue is the idea that we've now accepted the idea of preemptive war, rejecting the "just war" theory of Christianity. "Tonight we hear that we're not even willing to rule out a nuclear strike against a company that has done nothing to us directly and that is no threat to our national security" (Iran). "We have to come to our senses about this issue of war and preemption and go back to traditions and our Constitution and defend our liberties and defend our rights, but not to think we can change the world by force of arms and to start wars." Brilliant. In the background, you can hear cries of "Wolf! That's not right...!"
Brownback - the issue of life. That's why we can't nominate somebody who's not pro-life. Forget what I said in the first post. This guy's "I'm not a religous nut" disguise is starting to chip off. So if Rudy got the nomination, could you support him? "Um... " Brownback says he doesn't think we'll nominate someone who is pro-life. He's waffling. I'm taking that as a no.
Next question is for Romney from an airline agent. He says Romney has been accused of "flip flopping" on immigration, and that "just earlier tonight you said you're for the national language being english, so why are you airing ads in English, and providing a Spanish language version of your website?" Romney's answer: "well, I'm not anti-immigrant ... I'm pro borders ... I'm not for illegal immigrants staying ... oh God ... please zap me with your Mormonic laser in my magical undergarments and get me out of here ... I mean I'm Mitt Romney, and I approved this message..." Romney didn't answer the question. He's making a speech about making America great.
Tancredo: would you advertise in Spanish? In MIAMI???? No, says Tancredo. He's advocating the preservation of English as the glue that holds our country together. Can I say, Romney down 5 more points by week's end???
McCain: starts by saying "first of all, governor, muchos gracias!" Good one. McCain is saying that Hispanic immigrants are enriching the culture, especially in his state, where Spanish was spoken before English was. He says go look at the Vietnam War memorial, and you'll see the names of Spanish speakers and even green card holders. "So lets from time to time, remember that these are Gods children. They must come into the country legally, but they have enriched our nation like generations of immigrants before them." Elegant answer.
Next: Why did the GOP lose in 2006 and how to stop the bleeding in 2008?
McCain: spending, spending, spending, and the attendant corruption. He promises to veto all pork bills as president and "make the earmarkers famous." Good answer.
Giuliani: Democrats. This guy is bald and not in a good way. He gives me the creeps.
Interestingly, these guys are answering the question "what was Bush's biggest mistake" but none is answering it. They're all answering what Republicans did wrong.
Finally, someone answers! Tancredo, who is on fire tonight, says Bush's biggest problem is that he "ran as a conservative and governed as a liberal." He says that is the basis of his rightfully lost credibility.
Paul: Bush ran on a humble foreign policy and then changed his tune. He drained the treasury for his mad ambitions.
Gilmore: principles were violated, on immigration, on spending and earmarks, and taxes.
Hunter: the Republican Party has to become family friendly. Huh???
Huckabee: Americans want low taxes and no regulation and no illegal immigrants or lawsuits. Again, HUH???
These nimrods aren't answering the question and Wolf isn't making them. I give up.
Next question: re illegal immigration, what does it mean to be an American?
Tancredo: "cut ties with the past, especially politically, from the country you came from." Tancredo wants a time out. He wants to stop all legal immigration except for family members and refugees. We need assimilation! And English only! Tancredo just boarded the crazy wagon. And he was doing so well.
Show of hands: end legal immigration? No takers.
Last question: Should the GOP follow Arnold Schwarzenegger's example of working with Democrats to win back popularity?
Duncan Hunter got in a three way broadside against Rudy McRomney, saying Romney supported the Clinton assault weapons ban, as did Rudy, that Romney took a "major step toward socialism" with his Massachusetts healthcare plan, and that McCain is on the wrong side of immigration, adding that "I think the person who has the most influences with these guys is Ted Kennedy, and I think we need to move away from the Ted Kennedy wing of the Republican Party." Bang! Zoom!
Romney's answer was a rambling mess that had something to do with Reagan and optimism, Rudy tried a one liner, saying "the way to do it is to nominate me" ... then he went back into his terrorism spiel. UNITED AGAINST ISLAMIC TERROR!!! THEY'RE COMING TO GET YOU! ELECT ME OR DIE!!!! Ahem. McCain tried the soft sell, saying "protect our American family." Awwww.... and fight "this transcendent issue of our time: the battle and struggle against Islamic extremism..." now it's Baghdad John's turn to cite the supposed terror attack tries in the U.S. He ends with a flourish about his life, experience, background and heroes qualifying him to lead.
And that's the end. Thank God. My ears were beginning to bleed ...
The GOPers are debating on CNN. They were asked to give a brief self-introduction. The best one: Mike Huckabee -
"I'm Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas. I'm from a town called Hope. You might remember it. And I hope you'll give us another chance." Cute...
Worst: Rudy Giuliani - Paraphrasing: "I'm Rudy Giuliani -- vote for me or die..." (He actually said, "I like the motto of this state, 'live free or die." I think it's a good motto for our country...'
On a more substantive note, Giuliani followed Mitt Romney's feeble attempt to deflect Wolf Blitzer's question of whether he would invade Iraq today, knowing what we know now about how it's turned out (Mitt made no sense) by saying the invasion was "absolutely the right thing to do." The base will love it, but it will also end up in a campaign commercial should the unthinkable happen and he becomes the nominee.
Update 7:12 - How hard is it to remember Matthew Stanley? John McCain had to look at his paper twice to remember the name of a soldier killed in Iraq whose family he met with. Not good for a politician. Meanwhile, he can't seem to answer the question, if Gen. Petreus reports in September that the surge is not working, what then? McCain trotted out his tried and true, "they'll follow us home!" chestnut. In other words, he wants in until the last American dies, just like Bushie. ...
Tommy Thompson chimes in: if it ain't workin' divide Iraq! Somebody's been listening to Joe Biden...
Just a note: Thompson looks like he needs a shower...
Duncan Hunter looks like a grumpy security guard...
Oh, ok, Ron Paul is up. He says if no progress in September, we should bring our troops home. He added that it was a mistake to go in, and if you get a bad diagnosis, you change the treatment, saying we're less secure now than before we went in ... and you know what? He got applause. Clearly, this is not that rabid Fox News audience.
Mike Huckabee's head is too small for his body... sorry...
Tom Tancredo is saying the surge isn't working and he didn't support it. He says he "hopes to God" it works, but if it isn't by September, we need to tell the Iraqis the answer to the age old question, what have you given us? "A Republic, if you can keep it." Now keep it. Applause.
7:22 update: Mistake number one for Rudy. He just said we need to make it clear to Iran that it's unacceptable that they have nuclear power ... nuclear power??? Oh dear... He also added that we'd nuke Iraq to stop them from having ... nukes ... and he got his chance to throw in that "Islamist terrorists have been nabbed trying to ATTACK JFK AIRPORT!!! ATTACK FORT DIX!!! VOTE FOR ME GODDAMIT OR YOU'RE ALL GONNA FREAKING DIE!!!!!!!" Ahem...
What about you, Mormon guy? Should we nuke the Persians? "You don't take options off the table," says Guy Smiley. "You stand back and say, 'what's going on here...'" Huh??? Now he's saying we need to move the moderate Muslim world toward modernity with the help of our allies. Sounds like a Democrat, except that he just said the Democrats don't understand that there's a war on terror. Gulp...
7:25 - immigration time. Tancredo's up. He's asked about his vow to oust any Senator who supports the monstrous "reform" bill now winding its way through Congress, and the retort by senior NH Senator Judd Gregg that Tancredo is from the "no nothing" wing of the GOP. Tancredo is wearing a really cheap, ill fitting suit. I'll bet it was crafted by illegal immigrants...
Giuliani has called the bill a "typical Washington mess" that has "no organizing purpose." And what should that purpose be? Identify all aliens with a TAMPER PROOF I.D. CARD THAT MAKES SURE THEY'RE NOT TERRORISTS!!!! PHTTTPH!!!
Mitt Romney says his big problemo with the immigration bill is Z visa ... get it? "Z visa..."? Sorry, I know I should be taking this more seriously, and take it seriously I will...
McCain's turn: he starts by saying "I agree with Judd Greg" (ooh, no he didn't! Tancredo, he just called you a no nothing...!) McCain says that the bill is a national security bill. "For us to do nothing is silent and de facto amnesty. What we have done is what you've asked us to do, my friends, and that is, come together with the president ... sit down and figure out an approach to this problem." He adds that if someone has a better idea ... which caused all other hands on the dais to go up...
Rudy has managed to get a 9/11 or terrorism reference into every single one of his responses. He was just on a roll, saying the legislation is "typical Washington" in that it doesn't say in the text (he says he read all 400 pages) what McCain says is in it. He says there should be one form of ID, a national database, etc. Not unreasonable. And then he goes for the 9/11 reference and I immediately tune him out.
Duncan Hunter's up: cue the double fence!!!
I had to stop and Tivo a bit, so I'm running a scosh behind real time.
The first wire stories are coming in. The AP has this unfriendly headline:
I guess that kills that anti-Hillary ad. I wonder if snarky-ass Tucker Carlson will go after them the way he did Hillary. Newsflash: Few members of Congress read either the legislation in front of them, or the reports handed to them. Their staffs read it, and then they get briefed. Sad, but true.
I don't think Tommy Thompson's hair is real...
Ron Paul is getting only his second question. Does he still support the border fence? Paul says the fence was his "weakest reason" for voting for the Duncan Hunter bill previously signed into law. He says he supported the bill because of the rule of law, and the need to stop drawing people here and paying for their healthcare and education. He calls illegal immigrants the scapegoat for our failure to have a true market based economy.
Should English be the official language of the U.S.? No hands went up, but John McCain makes the point that his state, AZ, has made treaties with the Navajo, who speak their own language, and "that's okay." He uses his answer to reiterate that his bill isn't amnesty, and to thank Jeb Bush for his support. I'm thinking running mate...
I was just about to blog about Gov. Gilmore's "Rudy McRomney" retort, but Wolf just asked Rudy about the Rhode Island Bishop's equation of him with Pontius Pilate. Just as he began answering, a bolt of lightning struck the CNN sound system, BY WAY OF GOD...
Giuliani is saying he feels he has to make good government public policy decisions, consulting his views, but not having government impose those views on women. God is still striking down CNN's sound system. I take it as a sign.
There goes the lightning again ... every time Rudy opens his mouth to speak ... spooky...
Romney McFlipflop is justifying his change of mind on abortion. Interestingly enough ... no sound glitches ...
Update: Gov. Huckabee, who is an ordained minister, just finessed the hell out of his previous answer about whether he believes in evolution, saying that he believes the question was unfair, because he isn't "asking to write the science curriculum for an eighth grade textbook" and that knowing how long it took God to create the earth or mankind wouldn't make him a better or worse president. This guy hides being a religous fanatic nut job better than anybody I've ever seen!
Now it's wacky Brownback's turn. He sounds like a Sunday school teacher, but his suit fits him better than any of the other candidates. Brownback says we should "engage faith and reason." Okay, so does that mean you believe in evolution now?
McCain is saying students should be exposed to "all theories" of creation, not exclusively creationism. McCain says that he believes that God loves us. That's nice. I feel much better now. Update: The candidates are asking questions about American dependence on Mideast oil and the GOP's close ties to Big Oil, this after Rudy Giuliani put another nail in his conservative coffin by saying he believes in global warming. Ron Paul was great on this question, giving a brief history of why we overthrew Mosedeq in Iraq in the 1950s -- because of oil. He pointed out that we shouldn't be so dependent on oil that we fight wars over it.
On gays in the military, Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee agree that homosexual conduct, like heterosexual conduct, is outlawed under the uniform code of military justice. No need to change existing policy.
Giuliani is asked to address the dismissal of gay linguists. Rudy says "this is not the time to deal with disruptive issues like this." Okay... he says that "in a time of war..." terrorism, war, blah blah blah... this isn't the right time to deal with this. We should "listen to our commanders." Sounds like Bush...
Romney: "in 1994, you were quoted as saying you advocated gays serving open and honestly in the military." Surprise, surprise, he's changed his mind. He says "I was wrong." and "this is not the time to change 'don't ask don't tell.'
McCain, same issue: "we have the best equipped, best trained military in the world and I'm proud of them. We just don't have enough of them. It would be a mistake to reopen the issue. The policy is working."
Anyone for open service? No takers.
Next question: Tommy Thompson, how would you use George W. Bush in your administration? Thompson says "I certainly would not send him to the United Nations...." pause for applause ... find that there is none ... resume answer awkwardly ... Thompson is now saying that GWB should be used speaking to young people about public service. So ... Bill Clinton and Bush Sr. get to travel the globe taking on AIDS, famine and natural disaster, and Dubya heads back to the classroom to read "My Pet Goat..." Damn.
Senator Brownback says former presidents should sit quietly in the corner and shut the hell up.
Tom Tancredo says some time ago, he got a call from Karl Rove saying that because of his criticism of the president, he shouldn't "darken the door of the Oval Office." Tancredo says that he has been so disappointed in the president, that he's afraid he would have to "tell the president the same thing Karl Rove told me." DAMN!!!
Mike Hukabee is answering "what happened to the GOP"? He says the party lost credibility because they didn't do what they were supposed to do, from corruption to Katrina, and that they "deserved to get beat" in 2006. He's using his answer to focus on GWB and the GOP's indifference to border security to score points.
Next topic: Pardon Scooter?
Duncan Hunter: you'd have to look at the transcript. You know what transcript he's looked at? Campeon and Ramos. Score an applause line for Duncan Hunter. He's now saying we need to "bring back the Reagan Democrats" by getting right on trade.
Yes or no: pardon Scooter? Paul: no, Gilmore: no, Hunter: no, Huckabee: no, McCain - says he's going through an appeal, he'd wait and see ... Rudy says the prosecution was "way out of line." He would wait for an appeal, but the "excessive punishment" favors a pardon. He's filibustering. The case is "incomprehensible." ... I think he says yes. Oh, God, now Mitt is filibustering. He says he didn't pardon anybody as governor so as not to overturn a jury. He says the prosecutor was dead wrong, and he's look into it. Brownback says yes. Tommy Thompson says he'd wait for the appeal. Tancfredo says yes.
The new ABC News/WaPo poll is out, and it has good news for Hillary, bad news for pretty much everybody else. From ABC:
A softening of underlying confidence in Rudolph W. Giuliani, including some damage on the abortion issue, could hearten his current -- and future -- opponents for the Republican presidential nomination.
Giuliani's hardly in trouble; he maintains large leads over his opponents on key personal attributes including leadership and electability. But he's lost ground on empathy, honesty and inspiration; his support is not strong -- and a third of Republicans now flatly rule him out because of his position on abortion, up from just under a quarter earlier this year.
Giuliani remains the Republican frontrunner, with overall candidate preferences stable compared with an ABC News/Washington Post poll in mid-April. But just 36 percent of his supporters are "strongly" for him, and his backing is notably lower among conservatives -- a core Republican group -- than among moderates. Indeed, it's moderate Republicans (and the party's relatively few liberals) who propel Giuliani to a clear lead.
On the Democratic side of the 2008 contest, Hillary Clinton continues to lead on most personal attributes and in voter preferences alike, with no significant changes in her or Barack Obama's positions. Support has slipped slightly for John Edwards.
Clinton owes her frontrunner status to women; they're much more apt than men to favor her for the nomination, and significantly more likely to pick her from among the leading candidates as the best on a range of personal attributes. Democratic women, for example, are 16 points more likely than men to pick Clinton over Obama as the "most inspiring" candidate. (Men are nine points more likely than women to pick Obama as inspirational.)
And 53 percent of Clinton's supporters are "strongly" for her, substantially higher, for example, than Giuliani's strong support.
A potential concern for Clinton is that she does best with less-educated Democrats, whose turnout is less assured; another is that Obama leads her on honesty and trustworthiness. Still, experience is her trump card, she remains competitive with Obama among African-Americans, does best with committed Democrats (as opposed to Democratic-leaning independents) and stands the most to gain if Al Gore stays away.
More details on the poll from PollingReport.com (Dems here, GOPers here), show that with the undeclared candidates, Gingrich and Fred Thompson are taking support from basically all of the frontrunners, Romney is stagnant, and on the Dem side, Edwards is slipping. None of the second tier candidates is moving, even a little. It's still the same seven: Hillary, Barack, Edwards (fading), Giuliani (fading), McCain (fading), Romney (fading) and the actor playing the part of Ronald Reagan, fred Thompson.
Digging deeper into the poll, we find that the "rejection rate" for John McCain is spiking, with roughly half of voters ruling him out as a presidential candidate. More on the rejection rates (the percentage saying they definitely wouldn't vote for a given candidate):
Romney - 54 percent (includes a third of Republicans)
McCain - 47 percent (up from 28 percent)
Cllnton - 45 percent (unchanged from a year ago and includes just 15 percent of Dems, and she has the highest locked in vote of any candidate of either party at 27 percent)
Giuliani - 40 percent
There's much more polling goodness. Read the full questionnaire here.
The Washington Times says evangelicals are coalescing around Fred Thompson. Says one unnamed leader:
"It's the moment of truth for conservatives ... Either social conservatives rally to stop a Giuliani nomination and victory for him in November 2008 or our issues -- abortion, same-sex marriage, the preservation of the family -- are permanently off the Republican Party agenda."
That about sums it up. And besides, do you really want the guy who allowed firefighters and other workers to breathe the polluted air post-9/11 to run our country? Signs among New Yorkers point to "no."
Rudy Giuliani and Bernard Kerik, crimeys to the end
What do you do with the good will of the world, after you've done your duty as mayor of New York City, comforting a shaken public after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001? If you're Rudy Giuliani, you use your newfound fame to make yourself rich:
In Private Sector, Giuliani Parlayed Fame Into Wealth Candidate's Firm Has Taken On Controversial Executives, Clients
By John Solomon and Matthew Mosk Washington Post Staff Writers Sunday, May 13, 2007; Page A01
On Dec. 7, 2001, nearly three months after the terrorist attack that had made him a national hero and a little over three weeks before he would leave office, New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani took the first official step toward making himself rich.
The letter he dispatched to the city Conflicts of Interest Board that day asked permission to begin forming a consulting firm with three members of his outgoing administration. The company, Giuliani said, would provide "management consulting service to governments and business" and would seek out partners for a "wide-range of possible business, management and financial services" projects.
Over the next five years, Giuliani Partners earned more than $100 million, according to a knowledgeable source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the firm's financial information is private. And that success helped transform the Republican considered the front-runner for his party's 2008 presidential nomination from a moderately well-off public servant into a globe-trotting consultant whose net worth is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars. ...
Rudy soon hired his pal Bernie Kerik, who would later be convicted on corruption charges, along with two other friends: Pasquale J. D'Amuro, a former high ranking FBI executive and counterterrorism expert, who would later "retire" after it was disclosed that he looted "mementos" from Ground Zero, and then there's this guy:
... Alan Placa, an old friend who resigned as vice chancellor of the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island a week after being confronted by Newsday with allegations that former parishioners had been abused. The newspaper published portions of a 2003 Suffolk County grand jury report in which accusers said he used his position to stifle complaints of abuse by clergy.
And who were some of Rudy's secret clients? Why, they included:
Giuliani Partners was hired in December 2002 by Florida-based Seisint, Inc. to help market its data-mining product called Matrix. The product got a high-level airing in the White House in January 2003 at a meeting attended by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Vice President Dick Cheney. At that meeting, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother, gave a presentation in favor of the product. But by late 2003, reports surfaced that Seisint chief Hank Asher, a Giuliani friend, had smuggled cocaine into the United States earlier in his life. The Matrix project eventually fizzled and questions were then raised inside Seisint about the size of the firm's compensation.
Connecticut drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma hired Giuliani Partners in May 2002 as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration began investigating a wave of overdose deaths attributed to the firm's powerful and lucrative painkiller, OxyContin. The agencies had started looking into the pain product's illicit use as a recreational drug, and probing lax security at the company's manufacturing plants in New Jersey and North Carolina. A week before the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the former mayor joined then-DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft for the opening of new exhibit at the DEA's traveling museum and lent his star power to luncheon that day that raised about $20,000 for the DEA Foundation. In June 2004 U.S. prosecutors announced that the Purdue Pharma affiliate that ran the Totowa, New Jersey plant would pay $2 million to settle the investigation and the drugmaker would not have to admit wrongdoing or take its product off the shelf.
In January 2003, Giuliani Partners landed a $4.3 million contract to tackle Mexico City's vexing crime problems. His firm delivered a 146-point plan that the city's public security secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, trumpeted as an antidote to the city's longstanding crime scourge. Ebrard, now the city's mayor, said in a recent local television interview that many of the recommendations have in fact been implemented. Other Mexican leaders have described the contract with Giuliani as a "$4 million publicity stunt."
Sounds like a nice way to make a living, if you can get away with it.
Rudolph Giuliani and his consulting company, Giuliani Partners, have served as key advisors for the last five years to the pharmaceutical company that pled guilty today to charges it misled doctors and patients about the addiction risks of the powerful narcotic painkiller OxyContin.
Federal officials say the company, Purdue Frederick, helped to trigger a nationwide epidemic of addiction to the time-release painkiller by failing to give early warnings that it could be abused.
Prosecutors say "in the process scores died."
Drug Enforcement Administration officials tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com Giuliani personally met with the head of the DEA when the DEA's drug diversion office began a criminal investigation into the company.
According to the book "Painkiller," by New York Times reporter Barry Meier, both Giuliani and his then-partner Bernard Kerik "were in direct contact with Asa Hutchinson, the administrator of DEA."
And then, according to ABC News' "The Blotter", led by the exceptional Brian Ross, it gets worse:
Hutchinson told the Blotter on ABCNews.com today that Giuliani asked for a meeting, "and we gave him a meeting." Hutchinson says he was aware the company was under investigation at the time, and "any time a company is under investigation I like to give them a chance to make their case."
Kerik told New York Magazine at the time that Giuliani had raised $15,000 in donations for a "traveling museum operated by the DEA."
Some officials told ABC News there were questions inside the agency of whether the donations were an attempt to influence the DEA.
Meier wrote that "with Giuliani now in the mix, the pace of DEA's investigation into Purdue's OxyContin plant in New Jersey slowed as Hutchinson repeatedly summoned division officials to his office to explain themselves and their reasons for continuing the inquiry."
Giuliani publicly praised the company, Purdue Frederick, when it hired him in May 2002 for an undisclosed amount. "Purdue has demonstrated its commitment to fighting this problem," he said, referring to the issue of drug addiction.
According to Giuliani Partners, Kerik, a New York City police commissioner under Giuliani, was in charge of helping Purdue improve security at the New Jersey plant.
Nice. Just the kind of guy you want in the White House.
Rudy Giuliani says George W. Bush will go down in history as a great president. Unfortunately, Rudy is very much alone in that belief. But for a few stalwarts, most Americans believe Mr. Bush to be an abject failure. In fact, only 28 percent of Americans int he latest Newsweek poll approve of the job Bush is doing as president. In the same poll, any of the top Democratic contenders would beat any of the Republicans, Rudy included, if the presidential election were held today. No surprise there. (One possible surprise, Barack Obama, who is becoming the darling not only of the media, but also of some prominent former Bush Republicans, does the best of the top tier Dems against the GOP's top guns.)
With the dawning of another day, the completeness of Rudy Giuliani's screw-up in last night's debate becomes more and more clear. Giuliani, asked a round robin question about whether the overturning of Roe v. Wade would be a good day for America, chose to elaborate on his flippant answer of "it would by okay..." and then did so to disastrous effect. Said Giuliani, who was ninth in line to answer the question, and preceded by a string of "yesses" (meaning it would be a great day), told his red meat craving Republican audience of Reaganites:
"It would be OK to repeal it. It would be OK also if a strict constructionist viewed it as precedent."
He then went on to publicly support public funding of abortions, but only in New York, and despite the fact that he "hates" them (abortions). Well, as a pro-life Democrat, I suppose that's just fine, if a bit all over the place. But, and here's the key part: I'M NOT RUNNING FOR THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION FOR PRESIDENT WITH A BASE OF RIGHT WING CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES.
Reactions from the wingersphere?
Redstate ponders the vicissitudes of Rudy's thoughts on abortion.
Wizbang has a decent roundup of winger reax, and Auntie Kim has not a word about Rudy therein. Here's something on which Kim and I actually agree
I was amazed at how inane the questions were. What's with "do you believe in evolution?" With all the turmoil going on in the world, that's a question Matthews chose to use? Or "would it be good for America for Bill Clinton to be back in the White House?" What kinds of question is that? Although I loved Romney's reaction: "You've got to be kidding."
As to the scoring, I think it was a clear win for Romney, with the only possible dent being his rather egregious flip floppery on abortion. I'm told righties really liked Mike Huckabee, too. However, it appears the punditocracy is congealing around my conventional wisdom.
According to our poll, Drudge’s poll, and many bloggers, Romney won the debate. I’ve got to say, I’m not a Romney guy, but he came off as the winner to me. However, he also won the “invoke Reagan as much as you can” award. It would be interesting to see Fred Thompson debate this “incomplete crowd.”
What's interesting is that Rudy's performance last night has actually earned him some stripes with Democrat and probably with Independent political watchers. Maybe that's his strategy -- catapult over the GOP primary and into the general election debate. Maybe he was running for California. The problem, though, is that in order to get to California you have to go through South Carolina first. Perhaps Rudy is figuring that he can afford to lose the early contests, with a look toward winning the more moderate Super Duper Tuesday States on February 5th, including Nevada and California. We'll see...
Meanwhile, Ms. Malkin has a good roundup of conservablog reax. Best line so far:
A HA commenter on Rudy's NYC talking points: "I love you Rudy and I want to vote for you, but if I hear you rewind that 'Rudy Crime Statistics' tape one more time I’m going to go hang myself."
As Chris "Clinton Obsessive" Mathews would say, Ha!
Rudy Giuliani dropped the ball on abortion on at least three occasions, but on one of his answers, he also raised a question. Giuliani said that regarding public funding of abortion, he supports the Hyde Amendment, and that the states should make the decision on public funding. He also said he supported public funding of abortion in New York (after a few "ums" and "uhs") but that other states "can come to a different conclusion." So what is the Hyde Amendment? Let's ask the ACLU:
Passed by Congress in 1976, the Hyde Amendment excludes abortion from the comprehensive health care services provided to low-income people by the federal government through Medicaid. Congress has made some exceptions to the funding ban, which have varied over the years. At present, the federal Medicaid program mandates abortion funding in cases of rape or incest, as well as when a pregnant woman's life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury.
Most states have followed the federal government's lead in restricting public funding for abortion. Currently only seventeen states fund abortions for low-income women on the same or similar terms as other pregnancy-related and general health services. (See map.) Four of these states provide funding voluntarily (HI, MD, NY,1 and WA); in thirteen, courts interpreting their state constitutions have declared broad and independent protection for reproductive choice and have ordered nondiscriminatory public funding of abortion (AK, AZ, CA, CT, IL, MA, MN, MT, NJ, NM, OR, VT, and WV).2 Thirty-two of the remaining states pay for abortions for low-income women in cases of life-endangering circumstances, rape, or incest, as mandated by federal Medicaid law.3 (A handful of these states pay as well in cases of fetal impairment or when the pregnancy threatens "severe" health problems, but none provides reimbursement for all medically necessary abortions for low-income women.) Finally, one state (SD) fails even to comply with the Hyde Amendment, instead providing coverage only for lifesaving abortions.
So Rudy supports the idea of restricting government funding of abortions for low income women through Medicaid, except in New York? Color me confused.
And here are Rudy's headlines for tomorrow, which I'm sure his campaign won't enjoy:
You get the picture. The trouble for Rudy is that by tomorrow, that soundbite -- that it would be "just ok for him" to use a Randy Jacksonism, if Roe v. Wade was overturned, will be a Youtube video, then an anti-Rudy campaign commercial in the Bible Belt (Romney has the cash to do it) and a soundbite heard round the religious right world. In other words: it was a major mistake on the part of the purported frontrunner. He's been Youtubed on this before, and to his credit, he has never run from his position (I suppose the campaign has decided its better to be principled than a Romneyesque flip flopper.) But I'd guess that in the case of abortion, Romney is the one who has made the right moves. His only test will be to convince the righties that his conversion is sincere. Giuliani must convince them to accept a man who will not convert at all. Much higher bar.
I think it's hard to come away from tonight's GOP debate with any other conclusion but that Mitt Romney emerged as the strongest, most articulate and confident candidate on the stage. Coupled with his impressive fundraising (with the caveat that most of it was from Utah, so he'll have to broaden that out), I think Romney should, all other things being equal, get the biggest bounce from the debate. (Gilmore did well, too, but he lacks the charisma that Romney has.)
I think it's also clear that Rudy Giuliani failed to live up to expectations. He was flat, emphasized at least three times his pro-choice stance on abortion, repeated his New York City record so many times it became annoying, and made a point of tagging himself as the guy who can work with Democrats -- not a good look in a primary fueled by people who loathe Democrats.
Going into tonight, Giuliani was already losing momentum in the polls. I wouldn't be suprised if he continues to drift downward. Going in, Quinnipiac had his lead down significantly:
27% said they support Giuliani, down from 40% who said than in early February.
14% said they support Thompson, who wasn't included in the February survey.
19% said they support Sen. John McCain, vs. 18% in February.
Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were tied for third. Each had the support of 8%.
McCain came off a bit desperate for me, like an old man trying really, really hard to sound young and tough. I don't think he hurt himself, but I don't think he helped himself either.
Outside the top tier, I think the most interesting person on stage was clearly Ron Paul. He'll probably enjoy a brief love affair with Democrats who will then be let down terribly when they find out exactly what a Libertarian thinks. Next to Paul, who upheld good old fashioned Goldwater Republican values quite well, I think Governor Jim Gilmore came off as the most impressive, from a policy standpoint. He will probably get a serious look as a secretary of state, no matter who wins the White House. Gilmore is now in the spin room saying that to his mind, neither Giuliani nor McCain are true conservatives, and Rudy, says Gilmore, hasn't represented himself as such.
Chris is now justifying his Hillary and Bill question, saying he thinks it would be the unifying principle of the GOP in the presidential campaign. But the answer elevated Hillary on the Democratic side, which has to piss of her Democratic rivals. None of the respondents took Chris' bait and attacked Bill. They all went after Hillary. I'll repeat my statement that the question was a waste of time, and an indulgence of Chris' Clinton hating fetish at the expense of serious voters who wanted to hear about issues tonight.
No surprise, Chris began by pitching Rudy a softball, asking how we get this country back to Reagan's "morning in America." Rudy stuffed in as much conservative boilerplate as he could.
McCain came out of the blocks charging on Iraq, taking on Harry Reid on his statement that the war is lost.
Tommy Thompson says the Iraqis should be required to vote if they want us in their countries, and if they vote no, we get out. He also suggests dividing Iraq into the 50 states of Iraq, split the oil reserves between federal, state and individual Iraqis.
Hunter: Bush boilerplate: "the key to winning in Iraq is standing up the Iraqi military."
To Romney, Politico's reporter asks why Americans shouldn't have a president who'll listen to them on Iraq. Romney says if we want a president who governs by polls, "we can just plug in the TVs and have them govern the country." Romney says he wants to get the troops out, but in a way that's not precipitous, and doesn't cause larger chaos. Initial impression: Romney seems very prepared, very polished, very smooth. That he has going for him.
Brownback: Chris asks him about polls showing increasing hostility in the Arab world against the U.S. Brownback: "I think we win the war by standing up for our values." Then he goes into how many people are really with us. Okay, tuning him out now... This guy is Bush lite...
Update 1: Least presidential so far: Tom Tancredo. He just hummed and hawed his way through an answer about what he would do if Israel said it would be attacking Iran soon.
Giuliani, meanwhile, has used the words Ronald Reagan in each of his answers.
Ron Paul is making the most sense, having said that non-intervention is both an American and a traditional Republican principle. Note he didn't say "practice," because that isn't true.
Most coherent so far: Jim Gilmore. He has made the point twice now that America must re-exert leadership around the world, by working with our allies. He just said "we can't allow a situation where people from Morocco to the Phillippines don't believe America has their best interests at heart. ... We have to represent the aspirations of people of good faith."
Most blow-dried: Romney.
Least interesting so far: Giuliani.
That's the end of the first round.
Now, the interactive round. McCain is asked if he would be comfortable with Tom Tancredo as the head of the INS. McCain's answer: "in a word, no." Then he zigged back to tracking Bin Laden, saying "I'd follow him to the gates of hell..."
McCain now asks a patented pander question. Should we change the Constitution to allow foreign born citizens like Arnold Schwarzenegger the chance to run for president. So far, it's all no's. Tommy Thompson says yes, after he serves his eight years. McCain said he'd consider it if Ahnold endorses him. Giuliani gave an odd answer about being afraid to say no to him, so yes.
Giuliani is asked if he learned or regretted anything about his tenure in NYC regarding race. So far, Giuliani says he learned much and regretted much, but that he worked hard to reduce crime, move people out of welfare, etc. Says "moved 660,000 people off welfare and that's the reason crime is down."
Romney is asked what he dislikes most about America. Romney played it like a job candidate, turning it around to how great America is. And he got in a kiss up to Nancy Reagan. I'm telling you, this guy is a used car salesman.
Huckabee gets a question from Boca about global warming. I find myself looking at the way Huckabee's suit fits ... sorry, back to his answer. He says God says we must be good stewards of the earth. Didn't really answer the question though.
Tancredo is asked about selling organs for transplants. Huh?
Duncan Hunter just answered a question about whether he's a compassionate conservative like George W. Bush with a yes, and a call for the U.S. to take military action against Iran.
Ron Paul says if he was president, he would abolish the IRS,
Next up: values.
Update 2: Would repeal of Roe be a good day for America? Yesses all the way around, except for Rudy, who says "it would be okay." He adds that "if a court ruled that it was precedent, that would be okay too." Tancredo goes one further, saying it would be "the greatest day." Gilmore says that his convictions on abortion 'have never changed throughout his public life. He then adds his record in VA about passing parental notification and 24 hour waiting period."
Thompson says Roe should be up to the states. First impression: Thompson is very, very boring.
Romney is called on the carpet for being "always for life" and "always pro-choice." Romney says he ran on a platform of upholding the law as is, though he is "personally pro life" and that he changed his mind on the road to Damascus ... er, stem cell research. Politically convenient, Mitt? He says cloning convinced him that "we have gone too far."
Brownback: could you support a nominee who is not pro-life? Brownback says yes, because the GOP is a 'big coalition party.' That might not have been the right answer for his base.
Giuliani gets a second shot, courtesy of his friend kiss, I mean Chris. Why do you support the use of public funds for abortion? Giuliani says "I don't. I support the Hyde amendment." In other words, it's up to each state. Chris gets out of him that he supported public funding for abortions in New York. I think that's Giuliani's second mistake tonight. His drawn out answer on abortion was mistake 1.
McCain's line of the night: "I may not be the youngest candidate up here, but I'm the most prepared." The question was about every cab driver knowing what Reagan stood for. "I don't want to be president of a failed nation, or a sad nation or a nation that thinks our best years are behind us. I want to be president of a proud nation."
Hunter jumps in saying me too on having and armed services background. You know what Duncan Hunter reminds me of? A mean school principal.
Huckabee has given us our second "city on a hill" reference. "We are a great nation because we are a culture of life. We celebrate life." We go search for people lost on Mount Hood, etc.
How to reconcile this moral leadership role of conservatism with libertarian, Goldwater conservatism, Ron Paul? "if the goal of government is to be the policeman of the world, you lose liberty. If the goal of government is liberty you unite people." ... "the moral principle is that of protecting liberty."
Thompson is asked whther an employer should be allowed to fire a gay worker. Thompson says it should be up to the employer. In other words, yes.
Romney is asked what he'd say to Roman Catholic bishops who would deny communion to a politician who supports abortion rights. Romney: "I wouldn't say anything to a Catholic bishop. They can do anything they want." This was Romney's opening to say we don't choose leaders based on their faith, and he seized it. Again, very smooth.
Huckabee is called on whether he criticizes Romney's saying his faith wouldn't affect his decision making. Huckabee says his faith does inform his politics.
Update 3: Governor Gilmore is asked by Chris if he would employ Karl Rove, whom he knows. Gilmore's answer was a good one: "what's important is not Karl Rove. What's important is how this government is run." Gilmore gets in the line that he's a "consistent conservative." Tancredo says Karl Rove would certainly not be in his White House, mainly because of their differences on immigration.
Chris asks Rudy if the influx of Christian conservatives has been good for the GOP. He says yes, then parries to say that neither party has a lock on virtue or vice, and that we have to bring in Democrats and Independents. He's reading his record again. Is saying we need to reach out to Democrats a good move in a primary debate? I think not. If it is in a mistake, Thompson just made it too. And he added that Republicans went wrong by going to Wahington to change it, but being changed by it. And he just gave us another Reagan big-up.
Brownback is asked about corruption and goes right to the one Democrat involved. Now he's saying we need to build stronger families and a stronger culture. Oh, here comes the conservative nanny state. Brownback just played the Imus card and said we've got music being sold with the same words. Sound like he's running for vice cop.
Tancredo on the same questions says the corruption thing is about individuals, not the party. Now he's going off track. He says regarding whether a centrist is the only way to go in order to win, Tancredo reminds that Reagan was no centrist and won California twice.
McCain is asked about the shots he took at Giuliani regarding incompetence and first responders. McCain says he was talking about special interests, not New York City. He immediately left that topic to say the GOP went off track by spending too much. Interesting that he didn't want to take that bait.
Jim Vandehei asks McCain what specific programs he'd cut. McCain says yes to the line item veto, yes to reducing costs for military spending cost overruns. No programs yet, but he says each unnamed program should justify its existence every year.
Huckabee asked to give the Bush administration a grade on its handling of the war. He says it's too early to give a grade.
Giuliani is put back in the spotlight on abortion. He says he "hates" abortion, encouraged adoption as mayor of New York City, but says "since it's an issue of conscience," he would "support a woman's right to make a different choice."
Thompson is asked if racism is still a problem in our society and can a president do anything about it. Thompson says a president has to unite, Ronald Reagan was a uniter...
Tancredo is asked beside himself, who should be the nominee. Tancredo says if he thought there should be another one, he wouldn't be there. Tancredo is stumbling around verbally, but he's sticking to his talking points on illegal immigration, plugging them into all of his answers.
McCain is now defending he and the president's plan on immigration, saying we must secure our borders but we also need a guest worker program and a plan to sort out the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country.
Duncan Hunter says he hasn't seen "An Inconvenient Truth" but he sees the issue of global warming as an opportunity and challenge to remove energy dependence on the Middle East and create new technologies. Good answer.
Gilmore was asked about mothers behind bars. He says the law must be applied, but he got in a plug for himself as governor during the 9/11 attacks.
Down the line: Nancy Reagan wants the government to expand embryonic stem cell research. Are you for it? Romney says no, Browanback: only adult stem cells. Gilmore: no. Huckabee: no. Hunter: no. Thompson: can't answer yes or no, there's so much research that will allow adult stem cells to do. McCain thanks Nancy Reagan for her kindness to him and other POWs. He says we need to fund this research, because these embryos will be discarded or perpetual funding. That's a yes. Paul: programs like this are not authorized under the Constitution. Let the markets and states handle it. Giuliani: if no creation of embryos created for that purpose, then yes. Tancredo: no.
Romney called on not touting his version of Hillary care. His answer: "I love it! It's affordable and portable. We won it 198 to 2. It's bipartisan!" I'm telling you, this guy should sell cars.
To all: name a tax you'd like to cut Romney - zero tax on capital gains Brownbax - alternative flat tax Gilmore - I eliminated the car tax in VA. Current tax: the AMT Huckabee - pass the "Fair Tax", get rid of the IRS, all capital gains taxes, etc. Hunter - trade deals suck. we need to eliminate all taxes on manufacturing Thompson - Alternative Minimum Tax. let's have a flat tax choice McCain - give the president the line item veto, repeal the AMT. Give tax credit to purchase health insurance (sounds like Bush), flatter Fair Tax Paul - get rid of the IRS, dump these entitlement programs and foreign adventures. Get rid of the "inflation tax" with sound money Giuliani - get rid of the AMT, the "death tax", and make the Bush tax cuts permanent. "Regularize the rates" whatever that means Tancredo - Repeal the 16th Amendment. And you can veto all the spending you want and you won't touch the deficit until you deal with mandatory spending.
McCain is asked what Democrats he's appoint, besides Joe Lieberman. He can't name one that's elected. Okay, he just named a businessman named John Chambers. McCain is running in the general election already, not the primary.
Update 4 - lightning round: Hunter is asked what the government does
McCain: believes in evolution. Anyone who doesn't? Tancredo, Brownback and Huckabee raised their hands (though Tancredo seemed to be looking to see who else would first.)
Romney wouldn't carry any of Bush's cabinet over.
Giuliani is quizzed on Sunni vs. Shia Islam. He looked like he was trying to remember it from his debate prep.
Gilmore declines to uphold his previous statement about being the only conservative in the pack.
Ron Paul trusts the Internet more than the mainstream media.
Giuliani is asked what is his biggest weakness is. His quip that it's "the fact that they're not all endorsing me" fell absolutely flat. Instead of answering the question, he reracked his New York City record yet again, and threw in a gratuitous Reagan.
Sidebar: I'm struck at how much alike these guys look. Very different from the multiethnic, multi-sex Democrat debate...
Thompson is asked how many Americans have been killed and injured in Iraq. His answer was "over three thousand killed and several thousand injured." Not too specific.
Giuliani says he's for a "tamper proof national I.D. card" -- oh, lord, he's back to talking about crime in New York again. He wants every American in a database. Please, God, let Ron Paul answer that. Romney is for the national I.D. card, too. He just got in a USOC plug. Brownback is against a national I.D. card. He says secure the border with a fence, and make the Social Security number mean something. "We don't need a new system." McCain says he's for a national I.D. card. Dr. Paul finally gets his chance. "This a total contradiction of what a free society is all about. The purpose of government is to protect the secrecy and privacy of Americans." Tancredo agrees. Clarification: Romney and Giuliani say their card is only for immigrants.
To all: Pardon Scooter Libby? Romney: candidates shouldn't make that decision, but outrageous for prosecutor to go after Libby knowing he wasn't the leaker. Brownback: it's up to the president. Gilmore: president should go to the American people to make the case if he wants to do it. Anyone for pardoning Libby? Tancredo says yes, but pardon Ramos and Campeon, the two border patrolmen (he gets the Lou Dobbs vote.) Paul points out that Libby was part of the misinformation that got us into the war. Good going, Ron.
Now, to the Schiavo case. Should Congress have acted or let the family make the decision? Romney: Congress' intervention was a mistake. Leave it at the state level. Brownback: Congress was right. Stand for life. McCain: difficult issue, all of us were moved, but in retrospect, we were too hasty. Giuliani: that's what we have courts for. Not a good answer for a GOP primary, where they distrust the courts...
Would it be good for America to have Bill Clinton back in the White House.
Romney: "You've got to be kidding..." Brownback says "no" because Hillary's not pro-life. Gilmore: no. McCain got in a shot about activist judges. Matthews couldn't resist the opportunity to give these guys a chance to Clinton bash. What an asshole.
I have half a mind to turn this off at this point.
Anyway, the next question from the GOP lackey from MSNBC is how the candidates would differ from Dubya. Romney says he respects Bush but would change the way we operate at home and abroad. McCain would manage the war better and cut spending. Gilmore: we need to be vigorous on the GWOT, draw the world in, improve homeland security, and energy independence. Huckabee: more power to the states. Hunter: bring back our industrial base, enforce trade laws. Brownback: break up Iraq, push a political solution there. Tancredo: Bush has done many good things, but on No Child Left Behind and prescription drugs, he overreached, and on Iraq... he ran out of time. Thompson: change healthcare system, settle Iraq, better foreign relations. Giuliani: oh, lord, remind ourselves every day about 9/11. Paul: change foreign policy, protect privacy of Americans, caution on warrantless searches and never abuse habeas corpus.
Overall score: C. Not much excitement. No headlines. Romney looked good, and smooth. I can see why the establishment favors him. He'll either be received as a liberator, or written off as far too slick -- the candidate you build from a kit. If Gilmore was smoother, he'd probably have won the debate on substance. McCain came off very forced. Tommy Thompson looked like he should be working on his papers and research in a basement somewhere -rumpled fellow, that. Giuliani didn't come off well, in my opinion, and he didn't appear strong or presidential, and he fumbled the ball on the abortion question. Ron Paul impressed me, I have to say. Too bad he has no shot at getting further media coverage. Duncan Hunter wasn't as nutty as I expected, and Tancredo seemed nervous and a bit shaky. Huckabee made very little impression on me, and Brownback came off as a religious nutter.
Was it just me, or was it kind of weird the way Politico's John Harris kept rolling up on the candidaes when he asked them a question...? Sorry, total sidebar...
So who was the winner? I think it's clear: Ronald Reagan. He got the most props tonight, along with his wife, and he was the man everyone up there wanted to be (sorry, George.)
The big loser? Chris Matthews. His chopping off of the second tier candidates and largesse toward his favorites was embarassing. And the fact that he wasted the audience's time on questions about Bill Clinton -- as if anyone on the stage would dispute that his wife shouldn't be president -- was a disservice to the voters who care about this race. Next time, MSNBC should give the job to Brian Williams, or even Tim Russert. Chris really was a let down tonight.
Florida takes a giant step away from the bad old days of the Bush election fix, scrapping Jeb's Old World Order along with those touch screen, no paper trail voting machines that have been in use in 15 of our 67 counties, including Miami-Dade and Broward, in favor of optical scan machines. And while they're at it, Florida lawmakers move the state's primary way up, from March to January 29, mugging the "super duper Tuesday" of February 5, where California and Nevada have moved up to, and putting the Sunshine State's primary election right behind the Iowa and New Hampshire pony shows, and on the same day as South Carolina. I'm loving it. This time, Florida counts for more than fundraising. I'm loving it!
What's interesting is how much Republican support there is for both these measures (the House approved the primary move 118 to 0), but the killing of the ATM style machines in particular. That has the strong support of our Republican governor, Charlie Crist, who at this point is looking like the Anti-Bush. Republican House Speaker Marco Rubio had championed the primary move in what he called his "100 innovative ideas for Florida's future" -- a book and website that I believe was published last fall.
Rubio is said to be training to succeed Crist as governor. I wouldn't doubt it. He has the profile that former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas once had, before he torpedoed his political future by going Bull Connor on the Elian Gonzales saga, and leaving the country rather than support Al Gore during the 2000 recount.) Rubio is on the political flip side, but that profile -- young, good looking, charismatic, Hispanic ... is one the Republican and Democratic parties are very much enticed by. And since the current governor is earning chips across the aisle every day -- (hell, I was dead set against the guy and I like him -- and I'm what you call a "yellow dog Democrat") Rubio stands a more than decent chance of getting into the governor's mansion, provided he doesn't do anything really, really stupid over the next seven years.
The Reidblog handy dandy guide to the first GOP presidential debate
The GOPers debate tonight, (and in so doing, they attempt to find their souls...) so in case you're not in the know, let's handicap the ten declared candidates, shall we? Here we go:
1. Rudy Giuliani Best known for saying, after 9/11, that the first thing he did after the attacks leveled the buildings where he had moved the command centers for the police and fire departments right after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was to turn to his crimie Bernard Kerik and say, "thank God George Bush and Dick Cheney are in the White House." Likes: gun control, wearing frilly dresses, gay civil unions (unless he's campaigning in the South) and public funding for abortion (see previous "like"). Dislikes: wives (once he finds a better one). Southern strategy: publicize the fact that he was once married to his cousin.
2. John McCain Also known as "Baghdad Johnnie". Best known for taking a stroll through an Iraqi market with 100 of his closest military friends, 2 Apache helicopters, 2 Blackhawk helicopters
3. Mitt Romney Best known for: Running the U.S. Olympic Committee, being a Mormon, and yet, having only one wife, and for looking exactly like Guy Smiley...
4. Sam Brownback Dubbed “God’s Senator” by Rolling Stone Magazine. Voted NO on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives. Voted NO on repealing tax subsidy for companies which move US jobs offshore. Voted NO on $1.15 billion per year to continue the COPS program to put more police officers on the street. And says Stare decisis would have upheld separate-but-equal! What would Jesus do, indeed.
5. Mike Huckabee Former governor of Arkansas. Most famous for: losing a busload of weight (over 110 pounds). Biggest problem for the GOP: as governor, he raised taxes, a big no-no.
6. Duncan Hunter Most famous for: promoting the Gitmo diet, and saying that the food at the Guantanamo detention facility is to die for! Perhaps no one briefed the California congressman about the suicides...
7. Tom Tancredo Most famous for: calling Miami a Third World country. Southern strategy: don't campaign in Miami.
8. Tommy Thompson Former governor of Wisconsin and Bush's onetime Health and Human Services secretary. As secretary, he helped create Bush's stem cell research compromise, which legalized federal funding for the use of ... well ... compromised, old and mainly useless stem cell lines for research. Researchers, were mostly not interested.
9. Jim Gilmore Former governor of Virginia during the Clinton era, and was governor during the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Stole Howard Dean's line by saying he represents "the Republican wing of the Republican Party." Negatives: not many. Biggest problem: no one outside of Virginia knows who he is.
10. Ron Paul 10-term Congressman, medical doctor (M.D.) and two-time and current presidential candidate from the U.S. state of Texas. Wants to abolish both Social Security and the Federal Reserve. Chances of becoming president: 0. Look for him to be the Mike Gravel of tonight's debates.
Throw out the conventional wisdom (and Chris Matthews' amorous obsession with him) ... Giuliani has not won the Republican nomination for president. The race is still up in the air. Two pieces of evidence:
Word to Matthews (and my morning show co-host, whom I suspect is a closet Giuliani fan, or maybe not so closet...) nationwide polls, particularly a year before the primaries, are pretty meaningless. It's the state by state polls that matter, if any polls at this stage matter at all. And guess who's leading those, in three of the first, key primary states?
Contrary to Matthews' patently false statement on Hardball tonight, Giuliani does NOT continue to "go up in the polls." His numbers are trending steadily down. Especially when Fred Thompson is thrown into the mix.
Thompson, who's not yet in but whom I suspect will get in, has become the official candidate of Ronald Reagan's friends. That's not a good look for Rudy. As Thompson said of Rudy: "His popularity may be a mile wide and an inch deep. I'm sure that lead will shrink." Oh, and Thompson, unlike Giuliani, really could put California in play. Of course, Thompson has his issues, too, and a formidable hill to climb to get to the White House...
Rudy still has many nasty negatives for the media to uncover. Oh, here's one now!
Giuliani is way too close to Bush, whether the media chooses to tell you or not. Eventually, they'll have to tell, and then he'll continue to slide.
No surprise, Barack Obama wins the South Carolina stream of consciousness poll, which is heavily weighted toward Black Carolnians. But Hilary still wins the day, having come off the most prepared and presidential in last night's debate. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
Meanwhile, surprise! The day after the debates, the Bush administration announces a major terror arrest! ... and there are big, nasty terror plots afoot in Saudi Arabia!!! See the media pant like a trained puppy over this one, but sorry guys, I've seen this movie before.
Evaluating the Democratic debate tonight, overall, I think Hillary Clinton was the best on stage tonight, scoring with her answer on the response to a terror attack, and being straightforward and succinct regarding the war.
Barack did quite well, too, though I don't think he did nearly as well as Chris Matthews thinks he did on the foreign policy questions.
It strikes me that were it not for his position on cutting off funding and ending U.S. involvement in the Iraq war this year, Bill Richardson, because of his views on guns and national security overall, could almost run as a moderate Republican, which makes him all the more attractive as a vice presidential candidate. One big miss for Richardson tonight: saying that he hesitated on Alberto Gonzales because he's Hispanic. That won't play in Peoria.
Dodd was a non-entity. Except for the one good line on speaking economically, Biden was, too.
I was disappointed in Edwards, who didn't really raise his game from the 2004 race.
Kucinich had his crazy guy routine stolen by Mike Gravel, who is truly out there. As I said in the previous thread, Kucinich should thank Gravel for making him look fairly normal tonight. Either that or he should hate him for stealing his lines...
There were no serious discussions on racial issues, nothing much for other minority groups to seize on (gays won't like Dodd's answer on civil unions), and not much fire overall. The debate was genial and mostly headline free. I'm looking for the Miami machine to start cranking on Richardson's Cuba answer, and I suspect the Iraq portion of the debate will make the most headlines.
Overall, if I had to guess, I'd say this debate will move the needle up slightly for Hillary and Obama, might make some GOPers take a look at Richardson (the NRA thing stands out) and also will make him the primo vice presidential candidate down the stretch.
So far, Obama is winning the post-debate online poll over at MSNBC, and Hillary is getting the highest negatives. I think that's just built in for her, because I don't think an honest reading of the debate supports that Barack won it, or that Hillary came off as less than credible. I really like Barack, but off all the eight standing up there tonight, Hillary was the one I could picture actually taking office as president.
So far, Edwards and Obama are neck and neck in the Kos Kids' poll, but commenters are lauding Mr. Gravel ... no, seriously they are ... which tends to take away from the lucidity of the poll.
Next week, it's the Republicans' turn. That one won't be as nicey-nicey.
Pre-game show: For the Dem debate on MSNBC tonight, each of the 8 candidates has a slightly different mission.
For Hillary ... it's sound presidential
Barack ... live up to the charisma hype (and sound mature enough to be president)
Edwards ... get back the charisma hype
Richardson ... tuck in that neck...
All others ... say something memorable so as not to be blanked out of tomorrow's news cycle
7:00 - Okay, now to the substance. Brian Williams went straight to the war questions, starting with Barack and Hillary.
Barack reiterated that he is proud to have opposed the war from the get-go.
Hillary says as forthrightly as I've heard her that if she knew in 2002 what she knows today she would not have cast her Iraq vote the way she did.
Kucinich says you can't be against the war and continue to fund it.
Richardson says not only would he not vote to continue funding the war in Iraq were he in Congress, but that if he were president, he would push to withdraw all U.S. forces by the end of this calendar year, and use that leverage to push the Iraqis to come to a political settlement.
Chris Dodd talked about his legislation with Russ Feingold that would set a firm deadline to end the war.
Former Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska, who played a role in cutting off funds for the Vietnam war back in the day, got a shot in and called what the Congress is doing "embarassing." He said Congress should pass a law making it "a felony" for the president to remain in Iraq. Gravel, in very animated fashion for an old dude, laid out a tactic he said would force the president's hand: let the Senate Republicans fillibuster and call for a daily cloture vote at high noon to make clear who is keeping us in the war.
Next round, Obama is asked a question by a citizen who has a 19-year-old loved one deployed to Iraq. Obama is asked, what would he consider to be a "mission complete" status in Iraq. Obama so far isn't answering the question, but he did get his "we are one signature away from ending this war" line. He talked about needing 16 votes to override the veto. Short answer: Obama didn't answer the question.
Clinton's turn: Barack is right -- we have to put together the political support within the GOP to join with Dems to bring an end to the war. Easier said than done, and she adds that Bush seems determined not to change course despite the fact that we are losing ground. She ends by saying we need Republican support to finish the job.
Next round: "elephants in the room." This should be good!
Obama first -- "you promised a new kind of politics, so what about questionable ties to a Chicago donor tied to a kickback scheme." Obama: we have thousands of donors, this one engaged in bad behavior and I've denounced it.
Edwards -- "what about those $400 haircuts, paid for out of campaign funds?" -- Paying for the cuts out of campaign funds was a mistake. I'm privileged, yes, but that's not what I come from (cue the "son of a mill worker" shtick.) Actually, I'm being facetious, but Edwards handled it well, telling a good story, and ending that he's running to give others the same chance he's had. He's asked about repping hedge funds, and deftly parried it into a rundown of the lack of healthcare coverage.
In her response, Hillary bigs up the entrepreneurial economy and says that's what makes the country great. She also added a nice kicker that she's proud to represent the New York capital markets, and what we need to do is get back to a Democratic president who can undo the damage done by this president and the prior Republican congress.
Bill Richardson just got called on the carpet for being last in line to call for Alberto Gonzales' resignation. He admitted that he hesitated because Gonzales is Hispanic. Not a good move on the larger stage, hermano. But at least he was being honest.
Chris Dodd (I still can't figure out why this guy is running...) was asked about taking money from big money men. Honestly, he just said it and I've already forgotten what point he made...
Kucinich is doing his anti-war spiel now. He got in a pop culture reference by noting that this is not American Idol. I predict Kucinich will move up in the Moveon poll, but he still needs a pressed suit and a new life goal -- president really isn't on the table.
Joe Biden just got off a good one, giving a one word answer to Brian Williams' question about whether he can control his verbosity: "yes." Williams didn't seem to really believe he wasn't going to say anything else. Clearly, those stints on the Daily Show have helped.
Gravel is on a tear, saying some of the people on stage scare him. This guy is replacing Dennis Kucinich as the crazy uncle on the dais. So who scares you, Senator Gravel? He says the "top tier ones," and he says Biden "has a certain arrogance" and wants to tell the Iraqis what to do. He's now saying "we need to get out." "The entire deaths of Vietnam died in vain, and they're dying in vain this second. You know what's worse than a soldier dying in vain? More soldiers dying in vain..."
Hillary on her unfavorables, and the question of why Republicans are so looking forward to running against her. Hillary says you'd have to ask them. She says she takes it as a perverse form of flattery -- if they weren't worried, they wouldn't be so vitriolic. Hil reminded the audience that she tried for universal healthcare back in the day, and now the country is ready for change. This exchange will make the clips. Good job, Hil.
Next stop: abortion. Williams points out that most Americans polled approved of the SUPCO ruling on partial birth abortion. The question to Edwards: is there a disconnect between the candidates (all of whom are pro-life except Kucinich) and the public. Edwards says no disconnect. The question is whether women's health decisions will be made by women, or by a "bunch of men on the Supreme Court." He says the abortion issue is "extraordinarily difficult" for many people and "we have to show respect for people who have different views on this issue."
Obama, same issue: reiterates the difficulty of the decision, and says "I trust women to make these decisions with their doctors and their family and their clergy." Broader issue: can we move past the things upon which we disagree toward areas of agreement, such as reducing teen pregnancies. Nice parry.
Biden: would you have a Roe litmus test? Biden says he wouldn' t, but he would make sure his nominees shared his values re a right to privacy. Danger zone: Biden said he led the fight to dump Robert Bork. That will be looked up, dude. Also reminds that he opposed Clarence Thomas, Roberts and Scalito. He says the discussion is intellectually dishonest in that the procedure is so rare, but the legal maneuver is a first step toward ending Roe.
Kucinich says he wants to get America together in support of a "culture of life" including prenatal care, universal healthcare, etc., and listen carefully to those who are opposed to abortion. I'm now wondering if Kucinich has changed his mind on abortion (he used to oppose it) or if he's just being deft for the primaries.
Dodd is asked whether he regrets his vote for Roberts on the SUPCO (he's the only one on the dais who voted in favor of him.) Dodd says he's disappointed in Roberts, then he quickly moves on to Alito, and his history of voting pro-life.
Each candidate is asked to pick a model SUPCO justice:
Richardson - Windsor White (dead), among the living? Ruth Bader GinsbergDodd -- Brennan (dead), GinsbergEdwards -- Ginsberg or Breyer
Clinton, did the government fail those students at VA tech. Yes. She throws in a "Bill" reference, talking about accompanying the then president to Columbine. We need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable. During the Clinton administration, that was a goal -- not to curtail gun ownershiprights. The background checks clearly didn't work.
Bill Richardson -- you are currently the NRA's favorite candidate in either party. Did anything about the massacre make you rethink your position on guns? Richardson smartly starts with condolences. He says he's a westerner and a hunter and the Second Amendment is precious in the west. Two big problems here are mental illness, and instant background checks should be properlyfunded at the state and local level. Richardson parries quickly to mental health parity. That NRA thing makes Richardson an even more attractive veep, I think.
Show of hands: how many of you have had a gun in the house: Gravel, Biden, Dodd, Richardson and Kucinich.
Biden: what could the feds have done? Biden's bragging again, saying he was the guy who put 100,000 cops on the street "that the Clinton administration made work so well." Aye, yay, yay! He then says close the gun show loophole, etc. says schools should be able to remove a student deemed dangerous.
Next up, taxes: Edwards is asked which taxes he'd raise. He says he'd get rid of the Bush tax cuts for those making $200K a year or more. Then he does the big dodge. Require employers to coverall employees with healthcare. But what about those tax cuts, dude?
Obama -- have a national pool people can buy into if they don't have health coverage, similar to what members of Congress enjoy. Second, control costs. Obama has statistics, which is good, includingthe rise in Black infant mortality. But weren't we talking about taxes?
Hillary says she tried to put forth a universal healthcare plan and people got scared. She says she's ready to try again. She says save money within the existing system first, before spending new money on new programs.
Richardson called the most strident in opposing tax increases to pay for healthcare. Richardson reminds the room that as a governor, he deals with these issues daily. His healthcare plan: no new bureaucracy, every American shares the costs, focus on prevention, cut out inefficiencies and bureaucracies, better information sharing to save cash, cut out middle men like HMOs between docs and patients. Richardson has clearly carved out the position as the most centrist or conservative guy in the race.
Q from the viewers: Re the ban on SC from the NAACP over the Confederate flag. Why are you guys here?
Biden answers that we're here because we were asked by James Clyburn, and it's better to show off this historically Black college than to walk away from this opportunity.
Barack says the Confederate flag should be put in a museum, that's where it belongs. But we've got really big problems, such as Black infant mortality. Parries to "people are hungry for change." Deft dodge.
Another Q from viewers: biggest professional or personal mistake? Gravel gets it. This should be good. Says he's the senior statesman up there and was beginning to feel like a potted plant. Then he tries to use Ronald Reagan's "youth and inexperience" line to no effect. Kucinich says his biggie was firing the police chief on the 6:00 news when he was mayor of Cleveland. Hillary says not enough time to list all of hers, but ends with "believing the president when he said he'd go to the U.N. on Iraq." Barack says he shouldn't have left the Senate in advance of the Terri Schiavo vote. Biden: overestimating the competence and underestimating the arrogance of the Bush administration. Edwards: voting for the Iraq war. "Unfortunately I'll have to live with that forever. The lesson I learned is to listen to my own judgment". Dodd: voting for the war. Richardson: being too impatient and aggressive, including a push to increase the minimum wage, and instead of pursuing diplomacy, tried to ram it through the legislature. Strange one to choose in a Democratic primary.
Next Q: would you defy the American people if you were president by offering amesty to illegal immigrants? Hillary: says she's for comprehensive reform, letting illegal migrants pay a fine, get in line and become citizens. Nobody else got socked with this one.
To Biden, how can we reverse the American brain drain? Raise teacher pay to get the best teachers in the world.
To Dodd: shouldn't welfare recipients have to pass a drug test? Dodd says we're an overtested society. Let's try a little tenderness.
To Edwards: with oil co profits so high, why is gas so expensive? Edward says we need to address climate change and dependence on foreign oil, focus on new technologies. Edwards isn't really giving me charisma, I have to say.
The candidates are fielding more questions from viewers. I won't recount them all. Kucinich is talking now, about healthcare and his universal plan, no profits for anybody, blah blah blah.
For all comers, one sentence please: "while sitting in the Oval Office on day one of your administration, what's the first thing you want to accomplish?"
Richardson -- get us out of Iraq, day two: Apollo program on energy independence, day three: climate change, day four: day off. That wasn't one sentence, so nobody else got a shot.
Next section will be non-Iraq foreign policy.
Obama is asked who are America's three most important allies. He says EU is most important, and we've made new allies via NATO. He's veered off into Afghanistan now, and I'm not quite sure why... looking east, the center of gravity is shifting to Asia. Japan has been a great ally, but China is rising, though they're not an enemy or a friend. I count two so far. In a follow up, Brian Williams notes that Obama didn't mention Israel. He calls him out on saying "nobody has suffered as much as the Palestinian people." Obama points out that the rest of that sentence was "because of failed Palestinian leadership." He'll get slammed tomorrow by the AIPAC lobby.
Biden? Biggest threats besides Iraq? North Korea, Iran and Putin's tendency to move in a totalitarian direction in Russia. Biden adds that we have to jettison the ideas of preemption and regime change in favor of "prevention" and "conduct change." This administration "is saying give up the weapons that are the only things keeping us from attacking you, and once you do that, we're gonna take you out."
Gravel says we have no enemies. We must start treating other countries as equals. Kucinich should fall on his knees tonight and thank God that this guy was on the dais...
Edwards is asked whether Russia is a friend or foe. He says the government has moved away from democracy under Putin, but we need to ask "how to make America a force for good again." He's having a Princess Di moment, talking about showing U.S. commitment to good things.
Richardson, the only diplomat in the house is asked how he would do things differently with Russia. The governor says he wants to see control of loose nukes, a new policy on Chechnya, stable energy supplies and more democracy. "Being stubborn isn't a foreign policy, and power without focus is blind." He says he would focus on terrorism and nuke proliferation. Richardson sounds great on these issues. Very coherent.
Next, Hil is asked about the Giuliani "vote for me or die" quote, and is asked how Republicans got that "protector" vibe going? She's pointing out the disconnect between rhetoric and reality on port and homeland security, and says the administration hypes the fear, but doesn't deliver. And its foreign policy "has made the world less stable, which ... has a ripple effect on what we're going to face in the future." Hil didn't take the opportunity to attack Rudy directly, interestingly. Maybe she's keeping her eye on New Jersey, the only contestible Blue state, or New York itself? Dodd is basically reiterating Hillary. No news here.
Show of hands: is there a global war on terror? All hands went up except Edwards, Kucinich and Gravel. But no hands were held very high... Kucinich says that the GWOT has been a pre-text for aggressive war. He says he wants to stop using war as a foreign policy instrument and get rid of all U.S. nukes. Right. Gravel: please save this guy...
Obama: how would you change the U.S. military stance overseas if two U.S. cities were hit by al-Qaida (why two, Brian?) Obama says we need to change our domestic response capabilities, get good intelligence on who carried it out (Williams just said it was al-Qaida...) He's off on not using faulty intel and bluster, and talking to the international community. This was Barack's weakest answer of the night.
Edwards, same Q: Edwards says he'd make sure it was al-Qaida and try to figure out how they got passed us. So far, two answers, no winners. On GWOT, we have more tools than bombs.
Hil: starts her answer "Having been a Senator on 9/11..." nice. Says "a president must move swiftly to retaliate." ... If there were nations who gave aid or assisted the attack, we respond swiftly. Says she supported hitting the Taliban. Says we haven't found Bin Laden. Says "let's focus on who attacked us and let's get 'em." FINALLY, the right answer! Geez...
Impeach Cheney? No hands supporting Kucinich. So is it an appropriate use of time and energy? Kucinich has whipped out his pocket constitution, a la Senator Byrd.
Dodd: for civil unions, not for gay marriage.
Biden: time to get serious on climate change.
Richardson just threw in that he'd have a swift military response to a terror attack. Now on to Castro, Richardson we need to "find ways to deal with a post-democratic Cuba" -- I think he meant a post-Castro Cuba. He said he's opposed to the family visit ban by the Bushies, and says we should reevaluate the embargo. Miami's old school won't like that one...
Senator Mike Gravel is talking again ... he's really nutty...
Kucinich is calling out Barack on saying "all options are on the table" when it comes to Iran. He's saying we have to change energy policies and stop using war as a strategic tactic. Obama responds that it would be a mistake to go to war with Iran, but Iran having nukes would be a threat to us, and they are a major sponsor of terror. We just got our first "let me finish..." Obama is trying to buck up his foreign policy strength quotient. Now Gravel is jumping in ... oh, lord. He says we need to stop "scaring the bejeezus out of" Iran. Okay, he just declared the U.S. the biggest violator of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Yep. Great way to be a credible candidate.
Now, on to who is your moral leader? Edwards is pausing a long time, but says he couldn't identify a single person. He then says he goes to the Lord for counsel, and now mentions his wife as a source of great conscience, his father too is cited as an influence.
Hillary is asked if Wal Mart is a good thing or bad thing overall for America. She says it's a "mixed blessing" -- allows people to stretch their dollars further, but they've raised issues of corporate responsibility re providing healthcare for employees, non-discrimination, etc. She says that the administration and corporate America "don't see middle class Americans." Another winner for Hil.
Biden is asked if the Dems lose a third time, it will be "modern day extinction" for the party, so is there a winner on this stage, putting himself aside? Biden says he sees winners, and says anyone who is "wishing for Hillary is making a mistake ... on the Republican side." Good that he added that last bit.
Well now, we've got ourselves a presidential race.
John McCain is taking off the gloves, dinging Giuliani, distancing himself ever so gently from the president and the war, and even calling for the head of Alberto Gonzales (guaranteeing that he stays in the first tier of the news cycle going into the Sunday Shows. Smart.) As badly as McCain is doing right now in the polls and the "money primary," don't count this guy out just yet. Baghdad John wants to be president probably more than anyone in this race on either side, and he has surrounded himself with the worst attack dogs from Bush-Cheney 2000 and the Swiftboat cause. He will scratch out the eyes of every other Republican and crawl through broken glass before he gives up the ghost. Hell, he has to fight. He's as old as sin, and this is his last shot.
By the way, the new NBC/WSJ poll is out of doors, and get a load of Fred Thompson! He's not even running and he's already within 5 points of McCain...
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger, Hils and Barack are squeezing closer together in the same poll, but Obama continues to have the big mo. His newest devotees? Bush pioneers.
Back to that poll for a minute. It shows just 22 percent of Americans believing the country is headed in the right direction, and a clear majority (nearly 6 in 10) wanting the Dems to set a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Oh, you little surrender monkeys, you American people...
The Dems debate tonight in South Carolina. It's their first go, and hopefully won't be too deadly boring.
"Rudy's arrogance has gotten the best of him," said Karen Finney, communications director for the Democratic National Committee.
"How can the man who failed to prepare NYC for a second attack after the first one, quit the 9/11 commission because he was too busy raking in money from sketchy business deals, can't assess if the surge is working or if Iran and North Korea have nuclear weapons claim that he will keep America safe?"
Dusting off his best FReeper imitation, Giuliani told an enthralled crowd of fear-addled, rage addicted New Hampshire GOPers:
"This war ends when they stop coming here to kill us!" Giuliani said in his speech. "Never, ever again will this country ever be on defense waiting for (terrorists) to attack us if I have anything to say about it. And make no mistake, the Democrats want to put us back on defense!"
Is this a political campaign, or an audition to be a fill in host for Michael Savage? Moving right along:
"Rudy Giuliani today has taken the politics of fear to a new low and I believe Americans are ready to reject those kind of politics," said Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) "America's mayor should know that when it comes to 9/11 and fighting terrorists, America is united."
"There are people right now in the world, not just wishing us harm but actively planning and plotting to cause us harm," said New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"If the last six years of the Bush Administration have taught us anything, it's that political rhetoric won't do anything to quell those threats. And that America is ready for a change."
I give Barack a B+ for his response. Hillary's, with the me-too-FReeper opening? I give a C, with the caveat that she has to play Margaret Thatcher in this movie in order for it to get green lighted.
"Rudy Giuliani's suggestion that there is some superior 'Republican' way to fight terrorism is both divisive and plain wrong. He knows better. That's not the kind of leadership he offered in the days immediately after 9/11, and it's not the kind of leadership any American should be offering now.
"As far as the facts are concerned, the current Republican administration led us into a war in Iraq that has made us less safe and undermined the fight against al Qaeda. If that's the 'Republican' way to fight terror, Giuliani should know that the American people are looking for a better plan. That's just one more reason why this election is so important; we need to elect a Democratic president who will end the disastrous diversion of the war in Iraq."
Meanwhile, John McCain did his big announce today, complete with a nice little dig at Rudy:
[The American people] ...won't accept that firemen and policemen are unable to communicate with each other in an emergency because they don't have the same radio frequency.
And the latest NBC News poll reads as follows:
Just before Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina, a new poll by NBC affiliate WIS-TV shows Clinton and Obama virtually tied (24%-23%), with Edwards (who won the state in 2004) in third at 16%. On the GOP side, meanwhile, a new Zogby poll has McCain leading Giuliani in South Carolina (22%-19%), with Fred Thompson in third and Romney in fourth.
There's also an NBC News poll that comes out this evening that will show Giuliani losing support, down from 38% to 33%, McCain losing two points, down frmo 24% a month ago to 22% and Fred Thompson going to zero to 17%.
At some point, the media is going to have to start evaluating the incoherent, ephemoral nature of Rudy Giuliani's foreign policy ideas. Witness these quotes from an interview he gave about a subject he should be very well versed in, considering he wants to become the next president:
"I don't know the answer to that," the former New York City mayor told reporters after speaking with a group of business leaders in the first-in-the-nation primary state.
Giuliani did, however, have an opinion on what he said is necessary for victory in Iraq -- an emphasis on helping Iraqis rebuild their country.
"By build I mean, re-establish the infrastructure, both physical and political, and the emphasis on that is going to be key to whether it does work or not," he said in response to a question about whether Bush's troop boost that was aimed at pacifying violence-plagued Baghdad was achieving results.
"We have had success in stabilizing certain parts of Iraq," Giuliani allowed. "The real question is whether we can hold it and use it as an opportunity to build."
He also said couldn't assess whether the Bush administration was focusing on the rebuilding aspect enough or at all. "That part of it is the part that I would emphasize dramatically, and I can't tell you how that's going," Giuliani said.
The ex-mayor made his remarks a week after insurgents penetrated Baghdad with four bomb attacks that killed 183 people in the bloodiest day since the U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown began Feb. 14 with additional troops. On Monday, northeast of Baghdad, a suicide truck bombing killed nine U.S. paratroopers and wounded 20 in the worst attack on U.S. ground forces in Iraq in more than a year.
Giuliani also sidestepped a question about the circumstances in which he would withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq.
"The minute you start listing the circumstances under which you're going to pull out you start talking about defeat," Giuliani said. "What we have to achieve in Iraq is a government and a situation that acts as a bulwark against terrorism rather than as an encouragement for them -- and then you've got to figure out the strategies to get you there and make them work."
Again ... HUH????? This guy hasn't got the qualifications to be New York City mayor again, let alone the president of the United States. ... Damn, I'm glad I'm not a Republican voter.
Meanwhile, Republicans in New Hampshire confront a testy Rudy...
Rudy plays the fear card, Wolfie plays the Bennett card
Rudy Giuliani played the uniter about as long as he can stand it. Now, he's showing himself for what he is, (as one Politico commenter put it) a "bald George W. Bush". Giuliani told an appreciative GOPer crowd that ... surprise! If Democrats win the White House in 2008, there will be another 9/11 ... I wonder if Rudy remembers who was mayor of New York City the first and the second time the World Trade Center was attacked -- and whose stupid idea it was to move the nerve center for emergency response into the WTC after the 1993 attack...
The adventures of Baghdad John, continued ... when a stroll isn't exactly a stroll
Okay, so maybe it wasn't exactly a pleasant stroll through that Baghdad market ... Baghdad John McCain "clarifies" his remarks about just how safe it is in Iraq:
(CBS) Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., says he misspoke in comments he made about security in Baghdad and acknowledged that heavily armed troops and helicopter gunships accompanied him when he visited a market there. ...
Apparently, McCain took his stroll along with that heavy guard, and a crew from 60 Minutes. Apprently it was meant to be the centerpiece of a free media coup for the McCain presidential campaign, the way that horrid Katie Couric interrogation of the Edwardses boosted John Edwards' prospects for the Democratic nomination. It didn't quite work out that way, which McCain acknowledge in an interview to be aired on 60 Minutes tomorrow:
... "Of course I am going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future," says McCain. "I regret that when I divert attention to something I said from my message, but you know, that's just life," he tells Pelley, adding, "I'm happy, frankly, with the way I operate, otherwise it would be a lot less fun."
Well isn't that nice...
He continues to maintain that the president's surge policy has improved safety in Baghdad. "I can understand why [the Army] would provide me with that security, but I can tell you that if it had been two months ago and I'd asked to do it, they would have said, 'Under no circumstances whatsoever.' I view that as a sign of progress," says McCain.
You can watch the full interview for yourself tomorrow, including full video of the now infamous "stroll..."
I took a couple days off blogging to deal with "other issues" (you just ponder that one for a minute... cause I'm not giving details...) Strangely enough, the political universe didn't shift that much since Wednesday :)
So what's new in the world as of today?
Fred Thompson is getting serious about maybe, possibly running for president, while Rudy Giuliani is still catching softballs, even from the blog press... (Roger Simon of Politico apparently didn't find the time to ask the former New York mayor about his caustic relatioonship with firefighters, his cozy relationship with probable felon Bernie Kerik, his problems with "the race issue" in New York City, or his poor decisionmaking on security prior to 9/11 (who moved the logistics and communication nerve centers of the city into the WTC before the attacks? Why Rudy, of course! But don't hold your breath waiting for the media to ask him about it. They're too busy chasing stories about his Cruella de Ville wife and his bad management of his marriage to Donna Hanover ... SIDEBAR: I got it on good authority from a prominent person who knows Rudy very well that Donna doesn't just resent Rudy, she HATES him, and so does his son. The person I spoke with talked to Donna recently and got it straight from the jilted spouse's mouth. ... but I digress...)
John Edwards has pulled out of the Fox News debate to be put on by the Congressional Black Caucus. And now many are wondering, what the hell is the CBC doing partnering with the Faux News network anyway?
Clinton-hating TIME columnist Joe Klein calls Bush "unfit to lead" and the head of "one of this nation's worst administrations" but says talk of impeaching him is "a bit nutso..."
An Iranian diplomat freed -- quite coincidentally, I'm sure -- around the same time the Iranians freed 15 British military personnel is now claiming torture at the hands of the CIA...
Meanwhile, the now freed Royal Naval and Marine personnel are talking about their ordeal, including being blindfolded, tied up, and threatened with execution. The group explained that in their determination, "fighting back was not an option." Seems like a reasonable enough explanation to me, but then again, I've never worn the uniform.
And now for a completely different view, from Col. Jack Jacobs, who slams the Britons for clearly making their top priority "going home," rather than preserving their honor as military men and women... Whatever your opinion of the Royal Navy/Marines, I think it's clear that in the propaganda war between Iran and Great Britain, Iran won this one, just as Hezbollah beat Israel over their captured soldiers, and Hamas did the same (neither group has returned the Israelis, despite a reign of military horror by the Israeli military...) I feel badly for the Brits, they are young, and clearly they weren't in this for an ideological fight. I tend to wince at chickenhawk winger slaps at them, and brash statements about what the Limbaughs, Hannities and Savages of the world claim they would have done in their place (cower and beg are my best guesses). These guys did what they had to do to get home. But I can understand why a guy like Jack Jacobs -- a hero and Medal of Honor winner -- would feel the way he does.
Final note, it must really cheese off the Brits to recall stories such as this one:
June 13, 2004 - ... Last week, a U.S.-led coalition in Iraq rescued three Italian hostages - Salvatore Stefio, Umberto Cupertino and Maurizio Agliana - who since April 12 had been held captive by terrorists calling themselves the Green Brigade. When the Italians returned home, they said they had joked with one another to ease the tension and quell their fears. Although they told reporters they had not been physically abused, their lives were constantly threatened. Only after the rescue did the former hostages discover that their captors had murdered their friend, a fourth hostage Fabrizio Quattrocchi. Just before the terrorists shot and killed Quattrocchi, he tried to pull off his hood and yelled, "This is how an Italian dies." He was buried in his home city of Genoa on May 29. Dying with dignity - and honor - is brave.
But that said, if you were in the place of the 15, what would YOU have done? In all honesty??? And before you wingers get too giddy, let's also recall that there have been Americans in this situation, too, both military and civilian. And in some cases, they too have chosen to comply... It is a basic human instinct to want to live. When one can force oneself to deny that basic instinct, we either call it bravery, or stupidity (recall that suicide bombers also deny that instinct.) I don't personally fault these guys, because in their shoes, I really don't know what I would do.
Here's one I completely missed: Geraldo vs. O'Reilly, the grudge match... Scroll down and watch the video ... the REAL comedy here is the segway that the ladies of Good Morning America manage to makde after the Fox News scream-fest was over. Trust me, it's worth listening until the end...
Unemployed former U.N. Ambassador (sans Senate confirmation) John Bolton snaps at the Saudi King for criticizing his pet project in Iraq.
Bafflingly still employed U.S. vice president Dick Cheney continues to take up residence in LaLa Land over the issue of the late Saddam Hussein's supposed ties to al-Qaida, despite the rheems of evidence, from the intelligence services of his own government, that there were no such links. Of course, you can say just about anything to Rush Limbaugh ... what the hell does he know...
Don Imus has apologized for his "nappy headed hos" remark about the Rutgers women's basketball team. On his April 4 program, Imus, his executive producer Bernard McGuirk and sportscaster Sid Rosenberg got into a stupid discussion about the teams that delved into the supposed manishness of the Rutgers girls (apparently Rosenberg feels they favor the Toronto Raptors). It quickly devolved from there. Imus did not, however, take back the comments on the same program which called the Tennessee women "cute..."
Sen. Barack Obama raised at least $25 million dollars during the first quarter for his presidential campaign, a total surprisingly close to the $26 million collected by his chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Obama actually may have raised more for the primary campaign than the former first lady, but that cannot be definitively known because the Clinton campaign has refused to say how much of its total is designated for the primary election versus the general election. ...
The right has a pattern that they automatically fall into when they're down: first, they find a way to deflect their own negative press by blaming it, not on their own actions, not on the vicissitudes of fate, but on ... well ... the press. Then they attempt to hang the reporters for reporting facts that they never actually getting around to disputing. Then, finally, when whatever charges they're making turn out to be bogus, they scare up some secondary supposed wrong and hang their pitiful little hats on that.
Such is the case with Michael Ware, about whom the Drudge Report blared the headline: REPORTER HECKLES MCCAIN! "Heckles"? A reporter? Ware's supposed infraction was that he hurled insults at McCain during the Senator's Green Zone press conference, which followed his little stroll through a Baghdad market about 3 minutes away (surrounded by a phalanx of 100 heavily armed troops, a couple Blackhawk helicopters and three airborne gunships...) McCain was attempting to make the point that Baghdad is far safer since the surge began. Once the Drudge headline broke, the right went ballistic, accusing Ware of violating his oath of independence as a journalist, and of being a tool of the Defeatocrats. (The Young Turks call it what it is: character assassination.)
Well ... a funny thing happened on the way to the hanging ... Michael Ware fought back, going on CNN and asserting that not only did he not heckle McCain, he didn't even get a chance to ask a question. And then he said three little words that made all the difference: play ... the ... tape.
So some enterprising bloggers did. And guess what? No heckling. Not a sound from Ware or anybody else while McCain was blathering on about his market stroll.
So what does the right do?
Bitch and moan about what Ware said on CNN, long after the presser... So what did Ware say about McCain and his delegation?
"Essentially they're here to view the impact of the surge on the Baghdad security plan and essentially to sell its merits to say that, yes, it is having an impact and to take that message home to an American people desperate to hear signs of progress..."
By the way, the link above is to Powerline's Paul Miringoff's rant that Ware was lying about how great the surge is going -- which by the way is really, really great! -- because he "holds a grudge" because McCain disagreed with his Iraq assessment on CNN. Problem is, it was Ware who disagreed with McCain's assessment, not the other way around, McCain having given Wolf Blitzer his assessment of the desirability of a pleasant Baghdad stroll before Ware was called upon by Blitzer to respond. ... I refer you to comment #15 on Miringoff's post:
15. I am sure, John McCain with his few days visit can analyze the situation much better than a reporter who has been observing the situation there for years, even stared death in the face. Mirengoff, did you pass the bar?
Ha! Other righties are echoing the same "bias line," including the usual suspects at Wizbang. I'm still waiting for Drudge's retraction of the original non-story...
And as for Ware's statement on the McCain's trip, what I have to say about that is ... duh... McCain's political fortunes are now bound up tightly with the Bush policy in Iraq. The surge has to succeed in order for his presidential candidacy to succeed. So yes, he's there to support the policy and make the surge look good, so that Americans will support it. So what was wrong with what Ware said?
Who the hell knows.
And as if things weren't dire enough for the winger nation, their blogger faithful will have to take on a new target: the Iraqi merchants from that lil' ole bazaar. They're taking their turns paddling Baghdad John, too...
"What are they talking about?" Ali Jassim Faiyad, the owner of an electrical appliances shop in the market, said Monday. "The security procedures were abnormal!"
The delegation arrived at the market, which is called Shorja, on Sunday with more than 100 soldiers in armored Humvees - the equivalent of an entire company - and attack helicopters circled overhead, a senior American military official in Baghdad said. The soldiers redirected traffic from the area and restricted access to the Americans, witnesses said, and sharpshooters were posted on the roofs. The congressmen wore bulletproof vests throughout their hourlong visit.
"They paralyzed the market when they came," Mr. Faiyad said during an interview in his shop on Monday. "This was only for the media."
It was a given that Hillary was going to raise more money than God ... but who knew Mitt Romney was such a pistol? Romney didn't just win the GOP money primary, he whipped its tail, raising a surprise $23 million -- just $3 million shy of Hillary's mark -- to demolish the Republican field. Rudy "Third Time's the Charm" Giuliani took in around $15 million (he's out there boasting that he can raise $100 million -- and he's telling the media to "lay off his third / hussy/dog-harming wife!", and poor, addled John McCain, who has self-immolated over Iraq, took in just $12.5 million. Meanwhile, a new poll shows that a non-candidate/television actor/former Senator, Fred Thompson, goes from zero to third place among Republican voters, sucking most of his 12% polling numbers from Rudy, who's now down in the 30s, after hovering around 44 percent in USAT/Gallup. The caveat with Romney is that he was an investment banker at one point in his life, and made a lot of big money contacts as head of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and as Chris Matthews just pointed out on Hardball, when you marry Romney's fundraising to his low poll numbers, you get one hell of a high per capita rate (meaning Romney is the candidate of the very rich, and not much more...)
There clearly is no Republican front runner right now, and a lot of dissatisfaction is in evidence on the right side of the dial. That leads me to believe that Thompson, despite a stunning lack of substance that even some RedStaters have noticed, as evidenced in this surprisingly lucid post (once you look past the strained attempt not to call Dubya a failed president), could still emerge as a front runner in this rather pitiable field.
On the Dem side, Bill Richardson did better than expected at $6 million, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden should just hang it up, and Edwards did pretty well. The big question is how much did Barack Obama raise, which we'll find out probably tomorrow. The Hillary people are already trying to raise expectations, putting out the buzz that Barack's haul could be as much as $21 million. We'll see.
Meanwhile, here are the latest poll numbers from Florida:
THE NUMBERS - DEMOCRATS
Hillary Clinton 36 percent Al Gore, 16 percent Barack Obama 13 percent John Edwards 11 percent (all other candidates below 5 percent)
Hillary and Giuliani are in roughly the same position, while poor Baghdad John is in the shitter, with Newt Gingrich, of all people, trailing him by just 4 percentage points. The Al Gore number is interesting, as Dems still haven't let go of their Gore nostalgia. I maintain that if he ran, he couldn't win, but that's just me. Once Dem voters finally get over it (rent his climate change movie and call it a day, folks...) I think Hillary will put some distance between herself and her competitors, with Obama ticking up a little, too.
America's Authoritarian Mayor, Rudy "Third Time's The Charm" Giuliani tells a softball tossing Barbwa Walters that if he's president, his husband stealing, three man marrying whore wife will make a darned fine advisor, who'll even be welcome at cabinet meetings! Maybe she could hire Angelina Jolie as her chief of staff...!
Rudy Giuliani -- thrice married (to a thrice married, man stealing hussy who, if God truly hates America and he is elected persident, could be running policy from an office in the West Wing), liberal on issues dear to the religious right and GOP gun nuts, and running on 9/11. But here's the problem: firefighters hate him, and the real story of his incompetence before and his callousness after the terror attacks on the Twin Towers is now coming to light, anecdotally today, in "Swift Boat" style TV and radio ads, inevitably. From this week's TIME:
"If Rudolph Giuliani was running on anything but 9/11, I would not speak out," said Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son was among the 343 FDNY members killed in the terrorist attack. "If he ran on cleaning up Times Square, getting rid of squeegee men, lowering crime — that's indisputable.
"But when he runs on 9/11, I want the American people to know he was part of the problem."
Such comments contradict Giuliani's post-Sept. 11 profile as a hero and symbol of the city's resilience — the steadfast leader who calmed the nerves of a rattled nation. But as the presidential campaign intensifies, criticisms of his 2001 performance are resurfacing.
Giuliani, the leader in polls of Republican voters for his party's nomination, has been faulted on two major issues:
— His administration's failure to provide the World Trade Center's first responders with adequate radios, a long-standing complaint from relatives of the firefighters killed when the twin towers collapsed. The Sept. 11 Commission noted the firefighters at the World Trade Center were using the same ineffective radios employed by the first responders to the 1993 terrorist attack on the trade center.
Regenhard, at a 2004 commission hearing in Manhattan, screamed at Giuliani, "My son was murdered because of your incompetence!" The hearing was a perfect example of the 9/11 duality: Commission members universally praised Giuliani at the same event.
— A November 2001 decision to step up removal of the massive rubble pile at ground zero. The firefighters were angered when the then-mayor reduced their numbers among the group searching for remains of their lost "brothers," focusing instead on what they derided as a "scoop and dump" approach. Giuliani agreed to increase the number of firefighters at ground zero just days after ordering the cutback.
More than 5 1/2 years later, body parts are still turning up in the World Trade Center site.
"We want America to know what this guy meant to New York City firefighters," said Peter Gorman, head of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. "In our experiences with this man, he disrespected us in the most horrific way."
The two-term mayor, in his appearance before the Sept. 11 Commission, said the blame for the death and destruction of Sept. 11 belonged solely with the terrorists. "There was not a problem of coordination on Sept. 11," he testified. ...
Sounds a bit like Baghdad Bob.
Newt Gingrich -- dumped his wife while she was in a hospital bed recovering from cancer, so he could marry his mistress, left Congress in disgrace, but hey, he's conservative!
And then there are the wee also-rans, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, libertarian Ron Paul and such-like, but really, is it worth the blogspace to do more than mention their names?
So at this point, I'm thinking the GOPers had better lean hard on Fred Thompson to run. He may not have the "fire in the belly," but damnit, at least he's a celebrity. And to my knowledge, he never egregiously left a wife, botched the response to a terror attack, or pissed off the Cubans in Miami.
The media is focusing on the thing that, at the end of the day, matters most to them: the media ... when it comes to the scoop that wasn't re John Edwards future plans as a presidential candidate. But more important than Politico's dropped ball (relying on a single source? Journalism 101: don't do it, but then again, it's not as if this is the first time a journo has gotten something wrong...) is the question of whether Edwards can go the distance, given his wife's condition, and whether soldiering on makes him more noble and presidential, or less. That, and the utterly cynical basic tendencies of what passes for the right these days...