A pay freeze for administration members earning over $100,000 a year and strict rules on lobbying, both before and after serving his White House.
Phone calls to top Middle Eastern leaders, and a nod to former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell as Mideast envoy. Mitchell did great things during the Clinton administration for peace in Northern Ireland, but he has special qualifications for this job, too, as Mother Jones points out:
At first glance, Mitchell may not seem the most obvious choice for the Middle East envoy job. Others have far more experience in the region, and Mitchell's success in Northern Ireland does not necessarily translate to the intractable conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. But what you may not know is that Mitchell is himself of Lebanese ancestry; his father, John Kilroy, was an Irishman adopted by a Lebanese family, and his mother was a Lebanese Maronite Christian.
More than that, Mitchell had a brief, albeit unsuccessful, run as Middle East envoy during President Bill Clinton's last-minute attempt to broker peace there before he left office. The so-called "Mitchell Commission" studied the conflict in detail for several months before releasing a report in April 2001 to the newly inaugurated Bush administration.
As with his work in Northern Ireland, Mitchell suggested in the 2001 report (available here) that no peace could come to the Middle East until both sides stopped the violence and steeled themselves for difficult negotiations. Beyond that, though, he affected a more balanced approach to the peace process, calling not only for the Palestinians to renounce terrorism, but for the Israelis to cease using economic blockades against the Palestinians and to halt the construction of new settlements in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Putting a Lebanese-American at the forefront of policy, along with the well known and widely trusted Secretary of State Clinton, is a great look, and Obama seems to be signaling that he will be as tough on settlement building as Bush was soft on it.
Meanwhile, on the newly de-tourested Capitol Hill:
Hillary is approved, and then greeted as a liberator by a weary Foggy Bottom, which made little attempt to show their relief that the new administration has arrived. BTW the two GOPers who voted against Hillary in the Senate were Jim DeMint (R, SC) and David Vitter (R, Whore House.) Geithner is approved, tax issues and all.
Eric Holder is held up by Bush lackeys on the Senate Judiciary Committee who are apparently seeking assurances that there will be no torture prosecutions emanating from the Obama Justice Department. (Meanwhile, the U.N.'s top torture investigator says the body doesn't really need the United States to act on the matter. They can move against top Bushies themselves, and Manfred Nowak, the U.N. "Special Raporteur on Toture," has at least two defendants in mind ...) Said Mr. Nowak:
“Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation” to bring proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld. […] He noted Washington had ratified the UN convention on torture which required “all means, particularly penal law” to be used to bring proceedings against those violating it.
“We have all these documents that are now publicly available that prove that these methods of interrogation were intentionally ordered by Rumsfeld,” against detainees at the US prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Nowak said.
Cheney should of course be added to the list, along with Bush and Don Rumsfeld, particularly since he has openly admitted to authorizing the torture of U.S. detainees.
BTW, check out the new Whitehouse.gov. It mirrors the previous Obama campaign and transition sites. Nice.
A top aide to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg pushes hard for Caroline to be the next junior Senator from New York, and that's ruffling feathers among the non-upper crust (rather than just among Clintonistas, like before...) leading one assemblyman to state:
Rory I. Lancman, a state assemblyman, said that there was “a growing concern that high public office is being reserved for a better class of people — people who can buy into it like Michael Bloomberg or people who can come into it through their celebrity like Caroline Kennedy.”
Egads. And of course, up to now, in the 240 or so years of formal American existence, politics has been strictly reserved for the common man...
So what's their beef, as our current, class-cutting commander in chief might ask? They Hillaryites are angry that Caroline and her uncle Ted supported Hillary's new boss, Barack Obama, during the primary (but please, don't call it a jihad...) Make sense? No? Me neither.
After all, I think it was Barack Obama who just gave Hillary the second biggest prize of the election season (sorry Joe Biden)... namely, a nomination to be Secretary of State. Not exactly the boobie prize. And Hillary has shown her full (cough) and unwavering support for Obama since giving up the ghost on becoming president herself. So what gives, guttersnipes?
Could it be that if Caroline is named to the Senate, she is sure to win the seat outright by a landslide in two years, and then two more? Could it be the fear that the magic of Camelot, housed in both the Legislative and Executive branches (following the knighting of Obama by much of the Kennedy clan, let alone JFK's speechwriter...) could yet eclipse the magic of Clintalot, even with Bubba ensconced in his Harlem digs, or puttering around upstate, or back-slapping foreign friends at the U.N.? It could very well be so.
But is she qualified? That's today's debate in the New York Times (where one particularly snippy Dem compares Caroline to J.Lo. How rude...) Well, let's see ... Arkansas first lady ... U.S. first lady ... standing by your cheating hubby ... famous name, univesally known to voters ... Senator. Yep! She's as qualified as the last person to hold the job! Hell, what qualifications have their ever been to be a political leader, besides age? We have members of Congress who used to be on "The Love Boat," for god sakes, and the governor of California is The Terminator! (And trust me, if they changed that little Constitutional rule, "Come with me if you want to live" could very well become the oath of office on a distant January 20th.) This is America, Hillbots. Anybody famous can be elected to any office! ... Unless, of course, they're running against Barack Obama.
So suck it up, folks. Caroline should get the job, if only to reinvigorate not just New York politics, but American politics, which she would do, as a Senate ally of the main guy charged with the job, our incoming president. Senator Kennedy from New York. Get used to it, all over again.
Secretary of State - Hillary Clinton Attorney General - Eric Holder Secretary of Defense - Robert Gates (staying on for at least a year) U.N. Ambassador - Dr. Susan Rice National Security Advisor - Gen. Jim Jones Homeland Security Secretary - Janet Napolitano
Says the WaPo:
Obama and Clinton had each claimed to be the best candidate to restore the nation's reputation abroad, end the Iraq war and engage the new global economy as president. Now, they will try to do that together, though under Obama's direction.
Aiding in the effort will be Bush cabinet member Robert Gates, who will continue as Defense Secretary despite having overseen a war policy that was the subject of withering criticism from both Obama and Clinton during the campaign.
To be successful, Gates and Clinton will have to forge a working relationship that often eludes the secretaries of State and Defense even when they are members of the same party. Gates and Clinton will each have their own power base and have each sought assurances of access to Obama.
But Obama clearly believes the pair can work together, especially on the difficult task of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. To help in coordinating the competing views, Obama will turn to former Marine Gen. James Jones, who will serve as national security adviser.
Jones, who will operate inside the White House, will be charged with melding military and diplomatic policy and with helping Obama navigate the two bureaucracies.
The trio that Obama will introduce today represents a centrist team that has already angered some of the president-elect's most ardent liberal supporters, who had expected a foreign policy team with clear, left-leaning credentials.
BTW, Jones happens to be a very close friend of John McCain's, and as Chuck Todd is saying on MSNBC, much closer to McCain personally, than to Obama. Meanwhile, says Steve Clemons:
I think that the Clinton we saw during the campaign will give herself, her views and approach to complex national security challenges a "makeover." She's going to push womens' rights, democracy, human rights, poverty reduction, and the like -- but I think she is going to be party of a realist-tilting, crafty Obama-led, Bob Gates-designed, Clinton-out front process to get a strategic shift in US foreign policy. We applaud that.
James Glassman, her Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, has some ideas on how to move her agenda forward -- and she should consider using a lot of the tools that Glassman and his team are developing.
And Politico suggests Clinton and Gates may be more like-minded than people think, at least on what the relationship between a president and his commanding generals should be. Truth be told, if you parse the Iraq posisitons of Clinton and Obama during the campaign, they're really not that different, if at all.
I'll reiterate that I think the choice of Hillary is smart on Obama's part, even if it produced an initial WTF??? reaction. Clinton's star power will give Obama a leg up overseas. She is a known quantity that world leaders can and will instantly respect, because they already know her, and frankly, because they know her husband. Men of the "old world" may not have the highest respect for women, but they do respect the politically powerful wives of powerful men. And of course, picking Hillary was a master stroke for Obama, who solves Hillary's biggest problem (not wanting to go back to being one of 100 Senators with no committee chairmanship) while simultaneously containing both her presidential ambitions, for now, and her potential to freelance from the dais on the arms services committee.
Brilliant move. Great team.
Meanwhile, Powerline grumbles about "honeymoon time" among the military brass.
He may live to regret it. She may try to upstage him, and run her own presidency on the side. The media obsession with her and her husband could dog his presidency. Bill could grandstand, or do something crazy. She might clash with Joe Biden over foreign policy influence with the president. Her bull in a china shop style and leaky entourage could prove to be a disaster.
Or ... he may breathe a sigh of relief that she's not taking pot shots at his foreign policy from her seat on the Senate Arms Services Committee, or from some as-yet undefined new leadership post. She may use her international street cred to advance his foreign policy goals. She may really be beholden to him now. Running against him in four years may be off the table. And she just might do a bloody good job.
(NYT) Days of back and forth followed the meeting between President-elect Barack Obama and Clinton last week in Chicago, when the two principals first discussed the post, with advisers to Clinton suggesting she might not want the job and questions persisting about the business work and international ties of her husband, former president Bill Clinton.
But the former president agreed to a thorough vetting, and Obama advisers did not back away from reports that the New York senator was the president-elect's top pick. On Thursday night, aides said that the vetting issues have been resolved, and the selection could occur soon, perhaps immediately after Thanksgiving.
She'll take it: and why it's a good idea is she does
The Guardian reports that if (or more like "when") the secretary of state position is offered, Hillary Clinton will grab the brass ring.
Obama's advisers have begun looking into Bill Clinton's foundation, which distributes millions of dollars to Africa to help with development, to ensure there is no conflict of interest. But Democrats believe the vetting will be straightforward.
Clinton would be well placed to become the country's dominant voice in foreign affairs, replacing Condoleezza Rice. Since being elected senator for New York, she has specialised in foreign affairs and defence. Although she supported the war in Iraq, she and Obama basically agree on a withdrawal of American troops.
Clinton, who still harbours hopes of a future presidential run, had to weigh up whether she would be better placed by staying in the Senate, which offers a platform for life, or making the more uncertain career move to the state department.
With Ted Kennedy firmly in charge of healthcare, I suppose HRC felt this was her best play.
So what about Big Bill's big donors? Apparently, the Obama team has it handled:
The Obama team do not believe that Mr Clinton is a serious obstacle to appointing his wife. Yet if she were given the job she would face scrutiny over her husband’s connections with foreign governments – the same leaders that she would be dealing with on behalf of Mr Obama – and fresh calls for him to reveal the list of foreign donors to his presidential library in Little Rock, Arkansas, and his charitable foundation.
Mr Clinton is not required to reveal the list of donors, and has consistently refused to do so. Known foreign benefactors include the King of Morocco, the governments of Kuwait and Qatar, the Saudi Royal Family and the son-in-law of Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine’s deposed President.
Since founding the Clinton Global Initiative, Mr Clinton says that he has garnered $46 billion (£30.6 billion) that has improved more than 200 million lives in 150 countries.
And that final point may be the most important one. While some Obamaphiles may find the Clinton juxtoposition uncomfortable, I am starting to think it's a damned good idea, not least of which because of the tremendous popularity and good will -- and therefore leverage -- that the Clintons, both of them, have abroad. Bill Clinton's stature will only lend to Hillary's. And she is already a formidable international presence in her own right -- something Obama will need in order to play the major cards he seems destined to play: a serious bid for Israeli-Palestinian peace (the Clintons are trusted by the Israelis, and not an abomination to the Palestinians, and Bill Clinton came closer than any modern president to making peace); negotiations with Iran (HRC's tough rhetoric during the campaign will provide a hawkish shield for Obama's policies), nuclear proliferation and dealing with the fearsome actors of Pakistan and Russia. Hillary can handle the portfolio, she isn't seen as an "Arabist," like Dennis Ross or even James Baker, and she is a known quantity overseas.
Will Bill Clinton use his wife's would-be position to try and overshadow the president? Actually, I don't think so. Big Bill seems comfortable in his role as international statesman -- more so than he did as campaign hatchet man. That is his niche, and as he fills it, he can only help Obama shine.
And another thing: on the domestic front, allowing Hillary to exit the Senate will relieve that body of the "what to offer her" question, ease some tension about putting her into the leadership, and allow New York Gov. David Patterson to appoint a replacement, who would likely be to Hillary's left, adding another progressive voice to the 100-member club. Not bad for a day's work.
Hillary Clinton under consideration for Barack Obama's secretary of state? Believe it.
After an under-wraps meeting with President-elect Barack Obama in Chicago on Thursday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is now considered a top contender for the role of Secretary of State in the Obama administration, several people involved in the process said on Friday.
Clinton, in an appearance televised live on Friday, said she would not speculate about Obama's Cabinet selections. Her aides have referred questions about the process to the Obama transition team, whose officials are not commenting. Advisers warn that only a small handful of officials know for certain where Clinton ranks on Obama's short list, which also includes Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts.
But one Clinton veteran who is in touch with the transition team called it a "real possibility." Another said she has a "very good chance" of getting the job. Most notably, Obama advisers have done nothing to tamp down speculation about Clinton, as they did when it became clear she would not be Obama's running mate -- even though letting her name hang in the air holds real risks for Obama if he ultimately does not select her, potentially reopening the Democratic primary's wounds.
The mere mention of Clinton's name has set off a frenzy of speculation about the advantages -- and disadvantages -- of selecting his former Democratic rival and former first lady, whom Obama passed over as his vice presidential running mate.
Obama's victory in the general election produced what his primary campaign couldn't: A swift merger of the Clinton Wing of the Democratic Party with the Illinois Senator's self-styled insurgency. The merger began, during the campaign, in the policy apparatus — which is now rapidly becoming the governing apparatus.
The absorption of the Clinton government in waiting represents Obama's choice not to repeat what he and his advisors see as an early mistake made by the last two presidents: Attempting to wield power in Washington through an insular campaign apparatus new to town.
Obama's first major appointments have been Democrats who worked for President Clinton and did not endorse him in the primary: Transition chief John Podesta and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who will be White House chief of staff, stayed neutral, and Ron Klain, who will be Joe Biden's chief of staff, backed Biden. Obama, advisers told Politico, may even be weighing offering Hillary Rodham Clinton herself the Cabinet plum of Secretary of State.
"Obama is showing great good sense in making use of their experience," said William Galston, a former Clinton domestic policy adviser who’s now at the Brookings Institution. "You have an entire cadre of people in their 30s and 40s and early 50s who were either in senior jobs or second- and third-tier jobs in the Clinton administration, who really earned their spurs and know their way around — and know something about how the institutions in which they served actually function."
* Gravitas: Clinton is well-known and well respected in the international community. Is there any question that she could hold her own in delicate negotiations with our international friends or foes? The one thing that became indisputably clear during the Democratic primary race is that voters view Clinton as eminently qualified on nearly every issue. Putting her out as the administration's top diplomat would likely be received, nationally and internationally, as a solid choice.
Number one "con":
* A Free Lancer: As we noted above, the danger for Obama with regards to both Hillary and Bill Clinton is that they will pursue their own agenda -- political and policy-wise -- rather than advocate for the president-elect's preferred issues. While the chances of Clinton free-lancing are far less if she is a member of the Obama cabinet, there is absolutely no way of ensuring that her own views on matters of foreign policy would be subsumed in favor of those of the administration. Having Clinton on the world stage pursuing her own agenda would be potentially very problematic for Obama and, at that point, it would be impossible to put the toothpaste back into the tube.
And that's one hell of a con. Let's see how it all plays out.
Does Palin attract Hillary women ... or repel them?
Will angry Hillary Clinton supporters be the Naderites of 2008, throwing the election to John McCain out of bitterness, and then living to regret it? Signs point to "no."
William Arnone, an informal adviser to the Hillary Clinton campaign during the primaries, and a very smart political analyst, conducted a small email survey of Hillary voters around the country, many of whom are older white women. From his press release this morning:
Two questions were asked:
If the election were held today, would you vote for the Democratic ticket of Obama-Biden or the Republican ticket of McCain-Palin?
If you would vote for McCain-Palin, why?
A total of 328 responses were received. Respondents included many of Senator Clinton's most fervent supporters, some of whom were convention delegates.
Obama-Biden: 254 (77.4%)
McCain-Palin: 35 (10.7%)
Undecided/Neither: 32 ( 9.8%)
Write-In Clinton: 7 ( 2.1%)
William's conclusion, based on conversations with many of the women, which are included in the detail of the report:
Overall, it appears that John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate has backfired with a substantial portion of Senator Clinton's supporters. The most common word used by those who responded in support of the Obama-Biden ticket was that McCain's selection of Palin was "insulting" to women. Among those respondents who said that they would vote for the McCain-Palin ticket, or vote for neither ticket, or are undecided, there remains a residue of resentment over what they perceive as an unfair nominating process, as well as questionable treatment of Senator Clinton's candidacy by Democratic Party leaders and others.
I was troubled by the first several minutes of Hillary's speech, but the second half was great. She was uplifting, uptempo, and forceful, and at long last, she made the central point: that if her supporters were in this for more than just her, they should vote for Barack. She also characterized John McCain and GWB well, stating that "nothing less than the fate of our country hangs in the balance." Best lines: the "keep going" riffs via Harriet Tubman. Nice. Overall, best speech performance Hillary has ever given, and in the end, she did what she needed to do.
My main caveat would be that Hillary's entire presentation tonight may do more to make her supporters -- particulalry older women -- long for her than not. Not that she should have phoned it in, but the video, the rockstar entrance, the whole thing ... it was like a mini-convention of her own. Perhaps that was the point.
I'd like to see an interview with a PUMA now. That would be interesting...
So far, Hillary Clinton's speech is all about her campaign. But for a sole, tangential reference to her support for Barack, it sounds for all the world like a reprise of her campaign exit speech. WTF???
Bill Clinton just sucked up considerable oxygen in the Pepsi Center, it seems. Just caught him on CNN walking in to take his seat for HRC's speech, warmly greeting several African-American supporters. And guess who's sitting with the prez? Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Miami's own Kendrick Meek, two of Hil's strongest supporters during the primary (along with the late Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Philly mayor Michael Nutter.) Kendrick traveled the country with Bill, and Jackson Lee was a frequent Hillary surrogate. Also in the FOB box: one of my former bosses, Ellen Malcolm of Emily's List, who also was in charge of America Coming Together. Bill and Kendrick and another black guy are yucking it up and apparently having a great time. Clinton even held up a "unity" sign for a hot minute before getting into a really close, close discussion with a redhead... Interesting...
UPDATE: 10:40 - They just played the Hillary tribute video, which raised her to rockstar levels. The video is so good, it's sure to make her supporters even more depressed.
UPDATE: 1045 - Chelsea, who narrated the video, just introduced her mom, to a rollicking rock track and thunderous cheers. Jeez, it's almost as if SHE is the nominee... Bill is crying. Oh my god, this is so weird, I almost feel like I'm watching a convention in the Twilight Zone...
UPDATE 10:46 - one minute of sollid cheers and counting...
You knew this was coming, and it's one of the reasons so many people hated the scorched earth campaign Hillary waged during the primaries:
The question is, will Hillary Clinton supporters be the Naderites of 2008? And will they soon be hated by Democrats as much as Joe Lieberman?
UPDATE: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, herself a Hillary die-hard, responds:
“This ad does not reflect the sentiment of the thousands of former Clinton supporters from my Congressional District who have embraced Barack Obama’s message of uniting Americans and getting the country back on track.
“Cheap political stunts like this ad show that John McCain is offering more of the same: four more years of failed Bush policies and a record of supporting George Bush 95% of the time and losing track of how many houses he owns.
“Hillary Clinton supporters are embracing Barack Obama and Joe Biden because they know they will bring a tax code that gives real relief to working families, a serious plan to tackle the energy crisis and help you cope with rising prices, and an end to the kind of political game too often on display at McCain headquarters.
“The Democrats I talk to are supporting Barack Obama and Joe Biden because they’ll end the political games of Washington and provide real tax relief for working families, address the energy crisis and restore America’s respect abroad.”
More turncoatery here, and here (et tu, Rodham...?)
Incoming! Hillary will campaign for Obama in Palm Beach Thursday
From the campaign today:
The Obama campaign today announced that Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) will visit South Florida this Thursday, August 21, to campaign on behalf of Barack Obama and talk with voters about why he is the only choice for Floridians who want a President who will change the way Washington has worked for eight years under President George W. Bush.
In Palm Beach County, Senator Clinton will host a rally focused on why Barack Obama is the only choice for voters who care about issues important to women in this election. The event will be open to the public, but space is limited. Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Later Thursday, Senator Clinton will attend an event in Broward County. Details for that event will be announced soon.
Tickets for the Palm Beach rally will be available at 5:00 PM on Wednesday, August 20 at the grand openings of two Campaign for Change offices in Palm Beach County: 279 E Main St, Pahokee and 2790 N Military Trail, Ste 6, West Palm Beach. Tickets will also be available online at FL.barackobama.com and starting at 12 noon tomorrow at the following locations: Wexler for Congress, 2500 N Military Trail, Ste 251, Boca Raton; Democratic Party Headquarters, 6634 W Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach; and the FAU Student Union, 777 Glades Rd, Boca Raton.
A deal has been reached to put Hillary Clinton's name in nomination at the convention, on August 27th. She is supposed to then cast her superdelegate vote for Obama, ask her supporters to do the same, and turn over her delegates. We'll see if it goes down that way.
Meanwhile, a judge says Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick CAN go to the convention, without an ankle bracelet! ... leading me to wonder, why in the hell does Kwame Kilpatrick think he should be at the convention? Is his goal to just keep embarrassing himself and the Democratic Party until someone actually slaps him? (sigh)
Last but not least, with all the ugliness that has surfaced about the Mark Penn memos exhorting Team Clinton to trash Obama as not quite American, the latest Atlantic bomblet is that if Obama picks Evan Bayh as his veep -- which he won't, because Bayh is boooooringgggg -- it could mean the return of the slimy Mr. Penn. Goody! |
Top 5 people who are glad John Edwards is the top story today
John Edwards' sex life is one of the least interesting stories I can think of off the top of my head. But that doesn't mean that some people out there in the world aren't damned happy he has admitted to cheating on Elizabeth with a blonde filmmaker type lady who has a baby girl that might be his. Let's count them down, in no particular order...
1. John McCain -
McCain dodges a media bullet today (something he's kind of used to at this point) since now that Edwards is the story, no one cares that he has had to return $50,000 in ill-gotten campaign contributions from a Jordanian national who's the business partner of a shady McCain bundler in Florida named Harry Sargeant.
The Post first reported on Sargeant's efforts on behalf of McCain and other political candidates earlier this week. McCain's campaign has credited Sargeant for collecting dozens of $2,300 and $4,600 checks, many of them from ordinary families in California. The manager of several Taco Bell restaurants, an auto mechanic, and the one-time owners of a liquor store all wrote big checks, even though many were not registered to vote.
Sargeant told The New York Times this morning that he at times left the task of collecting the checks to a longtime business partner, Mustafa Abu Naba'a. The problem with that is that Abu Naba'a is not an American citizen. According to court records, Abu Naba'a is a dual citizen of Jordan and the Dominican Republic.
The law on this question appears to be unclear, said Fred Wertheimer, a campaign finance expert who runs the advocacy group, Democracy 21.
"There's probably very little law on this," Wertheimer said. "If it is not illegal for a foreign national to bundle checks, it ought to be, since it's illegal for a foreign national to make contributions in the first place."
2. Barack Obama -
Barack is finally taking some time off this week, taking advantage of the Olympics to head to Hawaii on vacation. Maybe now that Edwards is the story (and he's not available to comment on it today,) he can take some time to reduce his media profile and come out fresh before the campaign. Also, the Edwards problem helps to highlight his happy, stable marriage to Michelle -- and if the media cares to make the connection, the extent to which the other adulterous elephant in the room -- John McCain -- can relate to Senator Edwards, since McCain's current marriage is the product of cheating on his wife, and then dumping her for a Paris Hilton-style heiress with issues. (Flashback article of the day: High Infidelity)
3. China -
The Communist government in Beijing has detained White House reporters and staff, deported foreign protesters, and generally clamped down on its own population (but not the smog ... not much they can do about the smog...) during an Olympics that never should have been awarded to them, given their human rights record. The idiots who made that award are probably also breathing a sigh of relief today that at least until the Edwards fever breaks, no one will care what basic human rights they're violating. Instead, the foreigners will focus on bright, shiny objects like their cool architecture and snazzy technological wonders ... rather than on their police state:
The Beijing Olympics are themselves the perfect expression of this hybrid system. Through extraordinary feats of authoritarian governing, the Chinese state has built stunning new stadiums, highways and railways -- all in record time. It has razed whole neighborhoods, lined the streets with trees and flowers and, thanks to an "anti-spitting" campaign, cleaned the sidewalks of saliva. The Communist Party of China even tried to turn the muddy skies blue by ordering heavy industry to cease production for a month -- a sort of government-mandated general strike.
As for those Chinese citizens who might go off-message during the games -- Tibetan activists, human right campaigners, malcontent bloggers -- hundreds have been thrown in jail in recent months. Anyone still harboring protest plans will no doubt be caught on one of Beijing's 300,000 surveillance cameras and promptly nabbed by a security officer; there are reportedly 100,000 of them on Olympics duty.
The goal of all this central planning and spying is not to celebrate the glories of Communism, regardless of what China's governing party calls itself. It is to create the ultimate consumer cocoon for Visa cards, Adidas sneakers, China Mobile cell phones, McDonald's happy meals, Tsingtao beer, and UPS delivery -- to name just a few of the official Olympic sponsors. But the hottest new market of all is the surveillance itself. Unlike the police states of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, China has built a Police State 2.0, an entirely for-profit affair that is the latest frontier for the global Disaster Capitalism Complex.
4. Russia -
Hey, have you heard the one about Russia invading former Soviet captive state Georgia? Probably not, thanks to John Edwards' libido. Just in case, here's the story:
On the day the Olympic Games begin to promote unity and healthy competition between nations, Russia and the breakaway state of Georgia have made more brutal and disastrous headlines. It appears that Russia has invaded Georgia after a series of violent exchanges. Before Russia invaded Georgia, Georgia sent troops to the region of South Ossetia, a region that has been demanding independence from Georgia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. After Georgia's attack on South Ossetia, Russia sent troops to strike back at Georgia, putting the two on the brink of war.
Russia's invasion of Georgia is the latest climax of a conflict going back to the end of the Soviet Union. Georgia won it's independence as a result, but South Ossetia wanted it's independence from Georgia. South Ossetia has officially been labeled as a Georgia province, but they have sought to break away from the state.
Russia and Georgia have long conflicted over not only South Ossetia, but over Georgia's desire to be part of NATO. Russia has long opposed these efforts, and has also given support to South Ossetia's separatist forces that are fighting Georgia.
And last, but not least:
5. Hillary Clinton -
I'll bet it feels good to send her thoughts and prayers to some other humiliated wife for a change. And now she can finally klatch with someone other than Chelsea.
Proving the age-old chestnut that racists can't spell to be entirely true, vandals spray misspelled insults targeting Barack Obama on city vehicles in Orlando, then damn Hillary Clinton with likely ungrammatical faint praise.
Phrases including “Obmama smokes crack” and others phrases with racial slurs were written in blue spray paint on the white city cars and trucks.Other vehicles appeared to have had their gas tanks tampered with.Along with the paint, hundreds of business cards were left on windshields.The cards contain criticism of Obama on one side, and support for Hillary Clinton and her family on the other side. The same cards were left on channel nine vehicles in Daytona Beach several weeks ago.
The vandalism happened the same night the Obama campaign kicked off its Florida organization with parties across the state.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that 24 vehicles were damaged in all, including 23 owned by the city. The vandals did about $10,000 worth of damage, added some new catch phrases to the American lexicon, and according to the paper, for once, John McCain was not ignored.
According to pictures from the scene, the vandals tagged notes such as "Obama smokes crack." They left business card-sized notes that disparaged Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama on one side, while supporting Sen. Hillary Clinton on the other.
The cards also included statements like "Legalize Marijuana/Stop Building Prisons," "Ladies I'm Single Some Girl Step Up" and "How About Them Gators." They were signed by "CR."
One of the saddest outcomes of the scorched earth Hillary Clinton for President campaign has been the impact it has had on her husband, former President Bill Clinton. For years, Clinton occupied rarefied air inside Democratic circles -- a president who remained popular, even through impeachment, and who became even more so after he left office. Bill Clinton was so beloved by Black Democrats (even was benighted "the first Black president for a time,) he could waltz into any Black church, even into the funeral for the late Coretta Scott King, and chastise the crowd for being discourteous to George Bush.
Clinton's presidency was looked upon, by all but the most liberal Democrats, as a good time in America -- imperfect, and certainly not free of scandal -- but also full of opportunity and possibility, fueled by the explosion of the Internet, a strong and growing economy, and, say it with me, "22 million new jobs." It was good to be Bill.
Now, in part by his own heavy hand (in South Carolina), and as his wife's burning ambition, which failed to make her the Democratic nominee, has nonetheless led the mainstream media to crown her the new "feminist hero" -- Bill Clinton is shrinking. The all-out war to defeat Barack Obama took him from rock star ex-president to red-faced husband almost overnight, and from philanthropic juggernaut to common political attack dog. Worse, his efforts, and those of the team he bequeathed on Hillary (Mark Penn, Terry McAuliffe, Harold Ickes and others,) bloodied Obama but ultimately failed, leaving most of the stains on Bill. Because while all Hillary lost was the nomination, Bill Clinton lost something that it turns out, seems to have meant much more to him -- he lost the love.
The shrinking of the president has been a sad spectacle for those of us who supported him, even during the dark days of impeachment, and who continued to look upon "Big Bill" with favor: he was the white guy with the "Black passport" -- they guy who works in Harlem -- someone so likable, even women would give him a pass to on "the Monica thing."
For black America, the fall has been especially steep. His once bulletproof approval ratings with African-Americans have now dropped so much, they have helped pull his overall approval rating among Democrats into the negative for the first time, according a March NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. Bill's negative rating in the current survey: 45 percent. His positive number: 42.
Clinton's response to the decline has been to get mad. According to press reports, he's mad at Barack Obama, whose campaign he is sure "slimed him," and falsely tagged him and his wife as racists. He's mad at the winning Democratic campaign which he apparently believes, was run largely as a repudiation of his eight years in office. Tom Edsall of the Huffington Post writes:
Some say Bill Clinton not only wants Obama to reach out to him, but to also promise to lift the cloud of alleged racism -- an accusation that continues to eat at the man once dubbed the nation's "first black president." Clinton, these folks suggest, wants Obama to publicly exonerate him of the charge that he played the race card in the primaries.
Beyond that, some associates say, Bill Clinton wants Obama to reach out to him as a mentor, a guide who can lead Obama through the labyrinth of a tough presidential election. "Bill wants to be honored, to return to the role of Democratic elder statesman, and get rid of this image of him as a pol willing to do anything to win," said one associate.
"He is still bruised from the trail, really hurt about the racist charges leveled against him, and convinced the Obama campaign fomented it," said another source familiar with the former president's attitude. "What he would really like is for Obama to apologize, but on one level he knows that is never going to happen," a third source said.
But for all the blame game, the people Bill Clinton may, secretly, be most angry at, should be himself, his wife, and his wife's campaign. After all, it was the former president who so damaged himself by appearing to dismiss Obama's South Carolina primary win with the nonsequitor, "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here."
It was Hillary who chose to shade the fact that she knows darned well that Obama, her Senate colleague, is no Muslim, Hillary who declared that the "hard working, white voters" of West Virginia were in her pocket, and Hillary who made that horrifying reference about the assassination of RFK in explaining why she was staying in the race until June.
It was Bill Clinton's political attack dogs, on loan to Hillary, who implemented the now notorious "kitchen sink" strategy against Obama, a man more similar to the Bill Clinton of 1992 ("the man from Hope," no less,) than Bill might want to admit. And it was Howard Wolfson and company's bully-boy tactics with the press that ramped up the adversarial relationship the president and his family remembered all too well from the 90s. And it was Clinton supporters who raised the ugly specter of race as a reason to oppose Obama's candidacy, or to diminish it, from Geraldine Ferraro to the 2 in 10 Democratic voters in some primary states who stated openly that they would not vote for a black candidate, to Harriet Christian, the ignorant woman fron New York who derided Obama as an affirmative action hire, or an "inadequate black man."
It wouldn't be surprising, given all of this, that the Obama camp might be reluctant to give Bill Clinton the public embrace he seems to crave (and I have no reporting to suggest that such reluctance exists.) But the embrace will come anyway, mark my words. There is too much at stake for the Obama team to leave even a single vote on the table, and bringing Clinton supporters into the fold will prove to be a higher priority than nursing resentments against the former first lady, much less the lone two-term Democratic president in many of our lifetimes.
So Bill will get his rehab, probably in the form of a "Clinton night" during the Denver convention, and strategic appearances with Obama, at which the latter pours on the praise for the 1990s, and publicly seeks Clinton's council (maybe even accompanying him to a black church, or to the "Tom Joyner Morning Show," where both men have a friend in the host.) Still, many black voters I've talked to are hard-pressed to forgive, at least for now. And during the campaign, Bill Clinton's role will likely be limited to wooing rural and southern white voters -- the ones he and Hillary bonded with during the campaign. The real turnaround for Bill Clinton will come after the election, when he goes back to the good works that he has been doing through his Clinton Global Initiative; when his focus is off politics, and back on his impressive humanitarian projects and outreach to the world.
The good news for the Clintons is that if Obama wins the White House in November, all will be forgiven (except Bob Johnson -- he's good and done.) Things could get more complicated if Obama falls short in November, and his supporters blame the bruising primary, or some outgrowth of it that McCain or the GOP figure out how to successfully exploit. In that case, we could see a real fracture in the Democratic Party, which unfortunately, will be generational, income based, and and least partly down to race.
The newest celebrity couple make their long-awaited joint appearance in Unity, New Hampshire. MSNBC is DOING IT LIVE!
Meanwhile, Howard Fineman says that behind the scenes, with the top fundraisers in both camps, it's more like Guy Ritchie and Madonna than like Angelina Jolie and the man she stole from Jennifer Aniston...
One major Clinton donor described it this way: "This felt like when your mom forces you to go visit your Aunt Ida and she has to pinch your cheeks and you're sitting there in an uncomfortable suit and you can't wait to leave."
No sign of that now, though, as Hillary gives a quite gracious speech in Unity, and she and Barack score with the press on "body language." For god sakes, Margaret Carlson almost smiled...
Also at Politico, which has taken down its curiously symmetrical anti-Obama headlines this morning ... hmmm... Ben Smith says the Obama team is struggling with what to do with the legacy of former President Clinton...
On the Hill, a GOP Senator holds up housing reform, demanding that Democrats put more money into renewable energy! ... is it just me, or is that kind of counterintuitive... this guy must be in one hell of a tight re-election race...
The Los Angeles Times reveals more bad news for the GOP from its poll with Bloomberg. According to the poll, 75% of Americans blame President Bush for the lousy economic times:
Nine percent of respondents said the country's economic condition had improved since Bush became president, compared with 75% who said conditions had worsened. Among Republicans, 42% said the country was worse off, while 26% said it was about the same, and 22% thought economic conditions had improved.
Phillip Thies, a registered Republican and clothing-store owner in Cedar, Mich., who was one of those polled, said the president was doing an able job through the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but "right after that, it was steadily, steadily downhill."
"There has been a lack of leadership and a lack of timeliness of leadership, of not being conscious of the magnitude of the problems," Thies said of Bush in a follow-up interview. "He's always a day late and a dollar short."
And McCain wants to continue Bush's policies? Not smart, John. Not smart.
Meanwhile, the Detroit Free Press has a sort of pathetic story about President Bush and his McCain-sized crowd of 300 fans, who helped him raise a whopping $500,000 for Republican candidates -- a lot of money, to be sure, but rather puny for a sitting president, don't you think?
Across the pond, the Guardian reports on Nelson Mandela's criticism of Mugabe (Bill Clinton is in the U.K. attending Mandela's birthday party...) and Mugabe's push-back. And if you think race relations are sticky here in the U.S., check out this story about a BBC executive's big complaint: "too many black faces on TV." Seriously.
And the Independent doesn't disappoint with three intriguing stories on its website:
First, the U.S. isn't the only place where the defense industry has invaded government. In the UK, the paper tells of the arms dealer who used what amounts to a ringer, to gain access to MPs.
Okay, before I go, here's a quick round of "questions I personally don't need the answer to, but will have to endure hearing on cable news":
1. Is Bill Clinton still mad at Barack Obama? 2. Why did Don Imus say something inflammatory again? 3. Will the netroots stay mad at Barack? (The answer is either "no," or "yes, but they'll vote for him in huge numbers anyway.")
Let me start by saying that from my experience, the vast, vast majority of Hillary Clinton supporters are reasonable, intelligent people who understand politics, and have a sense of fair play. They get that elections are won, and elections are lost, and at the end of the day, what matters most is the future of our country, not the future of our favorite political figure. In the past two election cycles, none of my favorite candidates has won. In 2000, I liked Bill Bradley. In 2004, I was Wes Clark all the way, even volunteered for him. I was extremely unhappy with the guy who won the '04 primary, and still went to work for an organization dedicated to getting him elected president. When Kerry lost, it really sucked.
But you move on, and deal with the situation you've got. Most Hillary supporters are doing just that. The candidate is too, and in gracious fashion. If nothing else, the Clintons understand politics.
So what's with some of their supporters? Some of them are downright loony.
For proof, look no further than Doug Band, chief gatekeeper to former President Bill Clinton.
Band keeps close track of the past allies and beneficiaries of the Clintons who supported Obama's campaign, three Clinton associates and campaign officials said. Indeed, he is widely known as a member of the Clinton inner circle whose memory is particularly acute on the matter of who has been there for the couple — and who has not.
"The Clintons get hundreds of requests for favors every week," said Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. "Clearly, the people you're going to do stuff for in the future are the people who have been there for you."
McAuliffe, who knows of Band's diligent scorekeeping, emphasized that "revenge is not what the Clintons are about." The accounting is more about being practical, he said, adding, "You have to keep track of this."
Ack! Should people be hiding their bunnies? Then, there are the bitter enders of the feminist sort, who demand apologies, from the media, and from the Obama campaign, for the anti-womanism that supposedly brought Hillary down (not the votes, no, not the votes, the misogyny!). From this really angry reporter lady named Erbe:
The Democratic National Committee either doesn't get it or refuses to admit it. Nothing short of a lengthy, detailed mea culpa by the DNC and by Obama himself, directed to Clinton supporters for the sexist name-calling and personal, nasty characterizations Clinton was alone forced to endure, will do. Even that may not persuade these voters to consider supporting the party this fall. The DNC, Democratic Party leaders in Congress, and Obama should have been at her side, calling her treatment by the media (and even by some Obama supporters) unacceptable.
According to most polls, something in the range of 20 to 25 percent of her 18 million supporters say they'll vote for Senator McCain in November. That's 4.5 million votes—too many to take for granted. Yet taking them for granted is just what the party and Obama are doing. When CNN's Candy Crowley asked Obama how he would appeal to disaffected Clinton voters, he missed the mark entirely, giving a standard set of policy proposals.
I appeared on one of the cable news networks over the weekend, paired with a political reporter from a major newspaper. We were asked whether her supporters would kiss and make up with the Obama camp and end up throwing their support to the Illinois senator in the general election. He said, dismissively, "yes." I responded that with all due respect I thought he was quite wrong. But his laissez-faire attitude typifies that of the bulk of the MSM, the Democratic Party, and the Obama campaign.
We won't know how her supporters will vote until after the general election and its exit polls. Those who sit it out won't even be counted in exit polls. My feeling is just as the MSM underestimated the reaction to anti-Clinton remarks would generate, and the DNC overestimated voters' party loyalty, that no one has a clear read on what comes of all this. The party may have created a miniboom in Republican registration—disaffected Democrats who will never vote for a Democratic candidate again.
Never? Never ever ever? Damn.
Then we get into the really wacky weeds. You simply have to read this absolutely insane piece in something called the (San Francisco) City Edition, which was sent to me by Clinton bitter ender Carolyn Kay. It's long, but it's worth a read. To summarize, Barack Obama is a criminal terrorist ally planted by Karl Rove who also reverse engineered the Democratic primaries and caucuses so that Obama would get more pledged delegates out of a system designed by Harold Ickes but really run by Fox News, which the Clinton camp said was their preferred network and which attacks Obama relentlessly but which actually was helping him win bcause Tony Rezko's banker is Obama's banker and his friends are guarded by Blackwater... Seriously. Here's just the log line:
"Strategy involves G.O.P. crossover voting to take out Clinton, marketing newcomer Obama, stripping battleground delegates, inciting violence at the convention, and (if necessary) declaring martial law to prevent November's general election. Meanwhile, revelations about the Illinois senator's ties to Chicago political fixer Tony Rezko and two Iraqi agents are downplayed by the press. For their part, Democratic Party leaders persist in efforts to circumvent the nominating process, even as Karl Rove emerges as a player at Rezko's trial."
Wow. It gets crazier from there...
Evidence of a covert campaign to undermine the presidential primaries is rife, so it's curious that many within both the Democratic and Republican parties have ignored the actual elephant in the room this year. That would be Karl Rove. Long accused of rigging the two previous presidential elections, this master of deceit would have us believe he's gone off to sit in a corner and write op-eds this time around.
Not so. According to an article in Time magazine last November, Republicans have been organized in several states to throw their weight behind Senator Barack Obama, hoping to deprive Senator Hillary Clinton of the Democratic nomination. While Rove's name isn't mentioned in the story, several former fundraisers and strategists for President Bush are identified. Together, these gentlemen helped flush Obama's coffers with cash early on in the race, something the deep pockets had not done for any candidate in their own party. With receipts topping $100 million in 2007, the freshman senator from Illinois achieved a remarkable feat, given that most Americans only first heard of him in 2005.
To expedite the Rove strategy, a website and discussion forum called Republicans for Obama formed in 2006. The executive director of New Hampshire's Republican Party, Stephen DeMaura, later established an even larger cyber enclave on Facebook in 2007 called “Stop Hillary Clinton (One Million Strong AGAINST Hillary)”. At the same time, the Obama camp launched its own initiative targeted at Republican voters. Called "Be a Democrat For a Day", the campaign included a video that was circulated in Florida, Nevada, Vermont and elsewhere explaining the process of re-registering with the local voter registrar's office. In addition, many states nowadays hold open primaries, allowing citizens to vote for any candidate, regardless of their party affiliation. In Nebraska, for instance, the mayor of Omaha publicly rallied Republicans and Independents to caucus for Obama on February 9th. In Pennsylvania, Timereported on March 19th that Obama was running radio ads in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia asking Republicans to register as Democrats and then vote for him in the state's April 22nd primary.
The tactic, called crossover voting, has allowed Obama to open up an unsurmountable lead in pledged delegates. Republicans for Obama was certainly not bashful in making its case in an email appeal linked to its home page before the March 4th contests. "Since Texas has an open primary," the appeal read, "Republicans and Independents should sign in at their polling place and request a Democratic ballot. They should then vote for Barack Obama... Just think, no more Clintons in the White House." Then there was Iowa, which held the nation's first caucus on January 3rd. Here G.O.P. winner Mike Huckabee received just half as many votes as Clinton, who finished third behind Obama and John Edwards. [SIDEBAR: of course, finishing third -- not her fault -- a conspiracy --- read on...]
Of the 17 states holding open primaries, Obama has won 13 of them. And an analysis of the caucus results to date shows that a disproportionate sum of delegates has been awarded to Obama, with red states - which normally vote Republican in the general election - exercising undue influence on the process. For instance, his 13,700 vote margin in the Nebraska caucus netted him 8 pledged delegates, whereas Clinton netted 9 delegates from her 204,000 vote victory in Ohio's primary. In Texas, which holds both a primary and caucus, Obama gained 5 more pledged delegates than Clinton, despite the fact that she won the election by a 100,000 vote margin. And although Clinton won the Nevada caucus, the Obama camp somehow managed to finagle more pledged delegates at the state convention held after the vote.
Never mind that it was Hillary who won Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania, meaning that if there was a conspiracy afoot, it failed... and the rules under which Obama got more delegates out of his states won were crafted by none other than Harold Ickes, who once managed Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign... There's more:
And so we step through the looking glass into a Rovean wonderland. Last year, at the same time Clinton commanded a huge lead in the national polls, political analysts and professional strategists retained by CNN and other broadcast networks began hammering across the notion that "the voters don't like her". Incorporating the use of psychological branding, adjectives like "divisive", "polarizing", and "untrustworthy" have been repeated over and over in connection to Clinton in the same manner that "biological warfare" and "weapons of mass destruction" were disseminated in the lead-up to the Iraq War. In addition, beginning on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, the senator from New York has been roundly derided in the media as the losing candidate. Before Indiana-North Carolina primaries on May 6th, the term "panderer" was added to list of press buzzwords, ostensibly in response to Clinton's senate bill to transfer the federal gas tax to the oil companies.
Much of this pejorative terminology, by the way, traces back to a cadre of right-wing, neoconservative ideologues who keep the studio seats warm at Fox News Channel. "There is no candidate on record, a front-runner for a party's nomination, who has entered the primary season with negatives as high as she has," Rove told Reuters last August. Joining Fox as a part-time election analyst last February, he forgets to mention each time he dwells on this theme that the conclusion is borne of a tautology.
Until recently, Obama himself invariably recited Rove's "high negatives" comment in press interviews whenever discussing Clinton. His often bitter criticism of her, along with other "Washington insiders", who he says want to "boil and stew all the hope out of him", represents a staple of his core political message. The other half of the stump speech, known as the I'm-a-uniter-not-a-divider pitch, is reminiscent of the Bush 2000 campaign, which Rove managed. Perhaps that's not surprising when you discover that one of Obama's speechwriters is Ben Rhodes, the brother of Fox News VP David Rhodes. (Marisa Guthrie, of BC Beat, reported this connection.) You may recall that on election night in November 2000, it was Fox that called Florida for Bush, even though the other networks declared Gore the winner based on the exit polls. How Fox knew the polls were wrong in advance of the votes being counted has never been explained.
And the G.O.P. links to Obama don't end there. The Times of London reported on March 2nd that Obama had interviewed conservative Republican lawmakers Senators Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar for key positions in a future cabinet. "Senior advisers confirmed that Hagel, a highly decorated Vietnam war veteran and one of McCain’s closest friends in the Senate, was considered an ideal candidate for defence secretary." the story revealed. "Some regard the outspoken Republican as a possible vice-presidential nominee although that might be regarded as a 'stretch'." Lugar, who placed Obama's name on his nuclear non-proliferation bill two years ago, is being evaluated as a potential secretary of state.
Hang on, wasn't it HILLARY who during the campaign warmed up to Fox News, and even Richard Mellon Scaife? Obama was slammed by FNC by giving them no quarter, while Hillary's team praised them as the only truly fair network. So who's side was whose? It continues:
Although Obama says he has always opposed the Iraq War, he appears to be linked to Bush Administration policy there through his principle political benefactor in Chicago, Tony Rezko. Rezko received a contract to build a power plant in Iraq through a college chum appointed as the new Minister of Electricity in 2003. Like other Iraqi exiles recruited for posts by Coalition Provisional Authority Administrator L. Paul Bremmer, Aiham Alsammarae absconded hundreds of millions of dollars in reconstruction funds as part of a crime spree dubbed "The Mother of all Heists" by 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft. Currently wanted by Interpol (but apparently not the U.S. Government), Alsammarae now lives in Illinois, where he has donated several times to Obama's presidential campaign. ...
Later, as a state senator, he wrote endorsement letters on behalf of Rezko to government agencies allocating funds to build other housing projects. (Years later, the fact that sued slumlords were still receiving taxpayer funds would raise eyebrows in Chicago, but apparently no one lodged any serious objections at the time.) In fact, a 2007 Chicago Tribune article reported that Rezko's firm got contracts to rehab 30 buildings, including 11 in Obama's state legislative district on the South Side. Edward McClelland, writing for Salon.com, noted that "Rezko, after all, built part of his fortune by exploiting the black community that Obama had served in the state senate, and by milking government programs meant to benefit black-owned businesses."
While it may be unclear why Obama would continue his relationship with Rezko after this point, it's indisputable that he did. In 2005, while Rezko was under investigation by federal authorities for fraud, Obama approached him for help in purchasing a $2 million Georgian-revival home in the historic Kenwood neighborhood of Chicago. The property deal involved splitting the land into two lots, with Rezko buying the large side yard for $625,000. Obama and his wife Michelle then acquired the parcel that included the mansion, paying $300,000 less than the asking price. The Chicago Tribune reported the details of this unusual arrangement in November 2006.
Although no laws were broken in the transaction, the New York Times reported that the Obama property deal may have been an attempt by the developer to shield assets from creditors in several individual lawsuits pending at the time. Even more hair-raising, Rezko - who was in bankruptcy proceedings at the time - received a $3.5 million loan in April, 2005 from a longtime business associate, Nadhmi Auchi. Auchi is a London-based Iraqi exile and one of the world's richest men, according to Forbes. He's also the former moneyman for Saddam Hussein, the Sun-Times reports.
Okay, so after all that, we establish that no laws were broken. Do go on...
According to The Times of London, "Mr. Auchi was convicted of corruption, given a suspended sentence and fined £1.4 million in France in 2003 for his part in the Elf affair, described as the biggest political and corporate scandal in post-war Europe." Rezko and Auchi are current partners in a major 62-acre land development in Riverside Park in Chicago. The Times also reported on February 26th that Auchi lent Rezko additional funds shortly before the purchase of the Obama property. "Under a Loan Forgiveness Agreement described in court, Mr. Auchi lent Mr. Rezko $3.5 million in April 2005 and $11 million in September 2005, as well as the $3.5 million transferred in April 2007."
Interestingly, Obama's unusual mortgage lender visited Chicago in 2004. (The State Dept. has never explained how he got a visa.) A reception in his honor was attended by both Rezko and Emil Jones, president of the Illinois state senate and a key player in Obama's 2004 U.S. senate bid, according to a CNN report.Obama himself attended the Auchi gathering, held at the posh Four Seasons, but says he doesn't recall meeting the man and was at the hotel that day on other business. A prosecution witness at the Rezko trial in Chicago testified on April 14th that Obama met Auchi during a party at Rezko's home April 3, 2004.
And the skeletons continue to pile up in the closet. Another Iraqi ex-patriot connected to Obama, Aiham Alsammarae, posted more than $2.7 million in property as collateral to help spring Tony Rezko from jail in April, according to a story in the Sun-Times. This was an odd development, since Alsammarae is (or was) wanted by Interpol for the theft of $650 million in Iraqi reconstruction funds. Newsweek reported on March 17, 2008 that Alsammarae'a son sent several faxes to Obama's office in Washington in 2006, complaining that his father was being unjustly held in a Baghdad jail in 2006.
In December of that year, Alsammarae escaped. Regarding this incident, the New York Timesreported that "Iraqi officials initially blamed the Americans and later claimed that a private security detail used by Mr. Alsammarae when he was a minister was responsible, saying that a fleet of S.U.V.’s filled with “Westerners” pulled up to the jail and spirited him away, perhaps with the complicity of some of his jailers." (The security firm Blackwater guarded Alsammarae during his time in government.)
The Sun-Times has quoted an Obama spokesperson as characterizing the faxes sent to the senator's office as "a routine request from a constituent." Iraq's former Minister of Electricity, however, boasted that he escaped 'the Chicago way'", according to the New York Times.From the luxury of his compound in Illinois, Alsammarae donated online to the candidate in January, February and March of this year. The Sun-Tmes recently verified that a warrant for the fugitive's arrest remains active, but U.S. officials would not disclose what the warrant is for.
A man of multiple talents, Alsammarae also claims to have brokered a peace dialog with two Sunni militant groups in Iraq in 2005. According to the Washington Post, he "said the groups, which he identified as the Islamic Army in Iraq and the Mujaheddin Army, were willing to enter negotiations with U.S. and Iraqi officials." Alsammarae also told the Post that he lead his ownpredominantly Sunni political group called the Iraqi National Council Front. He also claims that his conviction for corruption has been vacated. (CNN interviewed Alsammarae in January 2006. Scroll halfway down the page to read the transcript.)
Not to be left out of the party, Rezko contracted in 2005 to build a power plant in Iraq with his friend's help, but the project was later given to another firm due to an apparent kickback scheme uncovered by U.S. authorities. A private blog called RezkoWatchhas also reported that Rezko submitted a second proposal to build a training facility for Iraqi power plant security guards in Illinois.
How such business dealings might impact Obama's position on American troops stationed in Iraq, if he's elected president, is unknown.
But here's the strangest twist of all in the Rezko affair (so far): the federal prosecutor in the Chicago trial is Patrick Fitzgerald, the former special counsel in the Valerie Plame C.I.A. leak case. If you remember, a much anticipated indictment against Karl Rove never materialized in that earlier episode. Instead, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby was tried and convicted on four counts of lying under oath. (His sentence was later commuted by President Bush.) Whether Fitzgerald is delaying indictments of Chicago Gov. Blagojevich and Sen. Obama on orders from the Bush Administration is a matter of speculation. Curiously, on April 23rd, Rove's name came up when a witness testified that in 2004, G.O.P. heavyweight Robert Kjellander lobbied Rove to replace Fitzgerald in the case because a vigorous prosecution might hurt Republicans, according to a report ABC News posted on its website. The allegation defies logic, however, since Fitzgerald had specifically been tapped by the President to handle the Plame incident.
First of all, how did Rezko's banker magically turn into Obama's banker, without actually lending Barack any money? And if he was being guarded in Iraq, while holding a government position, by U.S. firm Blackwater, doesn't that make him our guy? And what, in the end, is the point being made? Precisely what is it that Patrick Fitzgerald should want to prosecute Barack Obama for? This kind of nuttery is passing for journalism in a real, live newspaper, folks, though obviously not a very good one.
This is sheer lunacy, and it's not coming from the right, but from people supposedly on our side.
Welcome to crazy town.
Now, that's not to say that there are not genuine concerns by serious women about gender bias, and about what they saw as attacks on Hillary that had a nasty, gender twist. But make no mistake, there were plenty of racist bombs thrown during the campaign as well, including some from within Camp Clinton. And with Youtube, and Zazzle, and all the ways to spew out a poorly thought through message, you've just got to cope with a certain amount of ugliness in the zeitgeist. I don't think it helps either black folk or women (of which I'm one of each) to moan about it now. Campaigns get ugly. Hell, Howard Dean was compared to Osama bin Laden by other Democrats when he ran, and then he was derided as a screaming lunatic, based on one unidirectional mic. But when campaigns end, they end, and those who really believe that their party has the best plans for the country unite, suck it up, and work together to win.
It's time to put, not party, but country before the cult of personality. I was very disappointed by the Clintons during this race, and have caught myself saying that if she won, I'd skip the presidential ballot for the first time since I turned 18. But I really didn't mean it. In the end, I'm a voter. I'm a supervoter. And I would have voted for the ticket.
Here's hoping we can put away the conspiracy theories and at least agree on that.
Hillary Clinton didn't mention it today (and that's a good thing) during her quite wonderful concession speech in Washington, but the question of who really won the popular vote continues to hang over the Democratic contest, if only in the world of pundits. So who won?
Senator Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign in gracious fashion earlier this afternoon, with a speech that was about as good an exegesis about the consequences of politics as I've heard this campaign season. I just watched it on the TiVo, since I was at a community forum in Liberty City with Hot 105 and the Metro Miami Action Plan Trust for most of the morning and afternoon. As to grades, I'd give the speech an "A." Like Al Gore, Hillary gave her best speech at the end.
Hillary declared that though the race had been tough, "the Democratic party is a family." She fully endorsed Obama, drawing a smattering of boos when she first mentioned his name about 6 minutes into the talk. But by the end, she had captured the crowd with the formulation "when we live in a country when (mentions something that must change, like healthcare for all or proper care for veterans,) we will live in a stronger country. And that's why we have to work hard to elect Barack Obama as president." Then, toward the end, came the part about consequences, with an elegant merger with Obama's major theme added for emphasis:
... You know, I've been involved in politics and public life in one way or another for four decades. And during those ... During those 40 years, our country has voted 10 times for president. Democrats won only three of those times, and the man who won two of those elections is with us today. [Ovation for Bill Clinton]
We made tremendous progress during the '90s under a Democratic president, with a flourishing economy and our leadership for peace and security respected around the world.
Just think how much more progress we could have made over the past 40 years if we'd had a Democratic president. Think about the lost opportunities of these past seven years on the environment and the economy, on health care and civil rights, on education, foreign policy and the Supreme Court.
Imagine how far ... we could have come, how much we could have achieved if we had just had a Democrat in the White House.
We cannot let this moment slip away. We have come too far and accomplished too much.
Now, the journey ahead will not be easy. Some will say we can't do it, that it's too hard, we're just not up to the task. But for as long as America has existed, it has been the American way to reject can't-do claims and to choose instead to stretch the boundaries of the possible through hard work, determination, and a pioneering spirit.
It is this belief, this optimism that Senator Obama and I share and that has inspired so many millions of our supporters to make their voices heard. So today I am standing with Senator Obama to say: Yes, we can!
Hopefully, her die-hard supporters will listen. Two words, sisters: Supreme Court.
I think it's clear that Hillary did everything the Obama team could have wanted her to do today. She offered a sense of triumph and inspiration to her women supporters, particularly those older women who believed this might be their last opportunity to see a woman running the country. To them, she announced that the way had been set for the next woman who runs to go all the way, and for that victory to be rendered unremarkable. She unambiguously declared Obama the winner of a close contest. And she very effectively laid out the consequences of failure. She talked about the challenges of sexism and discrimination, but thankfully, she didn't dwell on it. Instead, she declared that if the highest glass ceiling remains in place in America, "there are 18 million cracks in it" now. By doing so, she secured her place in history as the pace-setter for whoever becomes the first woman president, even if it ultimately is not her.)
In addition, the venue, the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. (which is dedicated to one of my favorite subjects: architecture,) was nothing short of spectacular. (The NBM website's homepage says the venue will be "closed for a special event" on Saturday. Ha!)
I have been a harsh critic of the Clinton campaign, having come into the primary last January as a die-hard Clinton Democrat, who became both incredibly inspired by Barack Obama and sorely disappointed with the negative trajectory of the race, which I feel was driven by the former president and the Senator from New York, as well as by some of her senior advisers. Today, I think Hillary took a step back toward the grace that people like me had long expected of her.
Then, she and Obama faked out the press corps twice -- once by ditching them on Obama's press plane, and then by forcing all the cable nets to camp outside Hillary's D.C. area home, while the two Senators met privately somewhere else.
Clearly, the adults are back in charge of Hillaryland.
Today, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the most ... active ... Clintonista in the Sunshine State, signed onto the following statement endorsing Barack Obama:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:
June 5, 2008
Washington, DC – Florida Congressional Representatives Alcee L. Hastings, Corrine Brown, Kendrick B. Meek, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz issued the following statement today endorsing Barack Obama for President:
“It is with enthusiasm and excitement that we endorse Barack Obama for President.
“We are looking forward to working with Senator Obama in the days, weeks, and months ahead. America cannot afford another four years of failed Republican leadership, and we are committed to doing anything and everything in our power to ensure that Barack Obama is elected the next President of the United States.
“We also ask Shttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifenator Obama to do everything in his power to see to it that Florida has a full delegation to the Democratic National Convention with full voting rights.
“We congratulate Senator Clinton for a hard-fought campaign. Never in our lifetimes did we think that we would have the choice of a woman or an African American for the office of the presidency. We hope Americans realize how much the two of them have done for our country during this campaign. America is, indeed, a better place for having the two of them run for the highest office in the land.
“Recent elections have shown that the path to the presidency passes directly through Florida. Florida is in play this November and we invite Senator Obama and Senator Clinton to come to Florida to join us in events across the state from Key West to Pensacola and beyond. All of us standing on one stage, hand-in-hand will send a clear message to Florida voters that regardless of who we previously supported, we stand united and as one from this day forward.”
So why did we learn today, as I heard from someone on the Hill, that Debbie is also behind the following effort to strong-arm the presumptive nominee?
embers of Congress who support Clinton are weighing a joint letter to Senator Barack Obama pressing him to put Clinton on the ticket, a congressional aide confirmed.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida has suggested the letter, which would aim to represent the voices of female members of congress and those from swing states and key demographic groups.
The letter hasn't been drafted yet, though, and as with much of the day's vice presidential buzz, Clinton's supporters seem to be pressing ahead in the absence of clear direction from the candidate, who is meeting with her top advisors -- though not her husband --at her Arlington headquarters today.
"It’s still sort of in the premature stage of whether it’s going to happen or not," said John Bowman, Wasserman-Schultz's chief of staff. "She’s mentioned the idea but it hasn’t gone further."
Surely by now, Deb has caught a bit of cable news and analysis, and has figured out that this unsubtle approach is not only off-putting to the Obama camp, it's also bad for her (still) preferred candidate, Mrs. Clinton. It makes her look desperate, and it makes her look pushy -- not the best audition for a job she had scant chance of getting in the first place...
More on the machinations by Debbie and her Louise, Stephanie Tubbs Jones:
At a moment when Democrats would be expected to be rejoicing over the historic significance of Obama’s victory, any sense of joy seemed to be drowned out by competing messages from factions of lawmakers who have been warring for months.
In one corner of the House, female lawmakers such as Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) were planning to write a letter demanding that Clinton be on the presidential ticket.
“There are a lot of members of Congress who feel this way,” Wasserman Schultz said. “That way, we can maximize party unity and the odds of winning the election. They balance each other out in every way. They’re the dynamic duo. They really are.”
In another corner, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) declared that the Congressional Black Caucus should stay out of the business of pushing for a vice presidential nominee.
And in the Senate, Clinton and Obama surrogates talked respectfully about helping the party heal itself — yet Democrats disagreed over exactly how that should happen.
“The question now is: How do we integrate the supporters on both sides?” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a Clinton supporter. “But I think the winning side should do the reaching outhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif. They have to make sure they reach out to Clinton supporters to solidify the Democratic Party.”
Menendez, like other Clinton backers, said the vice presidential nod would seal the deal.
This is the height of hypocrisy. Miss Debbie is overstepping her mark, and combined with Stephanie Tubbs Jones latest TV performance today, saying that it's up to the Obama people to "welcome the Clinton backers in," you've got to think that these women are losing the plot.
Barack Obama has assembled his vice presidential search team, which includes former Clinton deputy A.G. Eric Holder, veteran veep vetter Jim Johnson, and newfound pal Caroline Kennedy (whom I wouldn't surprised will confer at least some time with her uncle Ted.) I said it before, and say it again, Hillary won't make the final cut. Now, the WSJ has another reason, and it shows that Team Obama does indeed know how to play this game:
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Hillary Clinton, who refused to concede after Sen. Barack Obama claimed the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, will do so Saturday, two top advisers said. Close supporters suggested she would like to be his running mate, on a unity ticket.
But close advisers to Sen. Obama signaled an Obama-Clinton ticket was highly unlikely. People in both camps cited what several called "a deal-breaker" -- Bill Clinton may balk at releasing records of his business dealings and big donors to his presidential library.
So the answer to Clintonistas is, "OK, you want on the ticket? Show me your husband's financials."
Finally, after months of being mathematically eliminated from the Democratic nomination for president, after race-baiting, fictional sniper fire, hard-working white people, angry white women, big wins in states that couldn't get her closer to the nomination, dubious Osama bin Laden references, the red phone ad, even more dubious assassination references, the Michigan and Florida compromises, Harriet Christian, Barack reaching the magic number plus more than 100 and 24 hours after the worst ... non-concession ... speech ... ever ... Hillary Clinton will finally suspend her wheels-off-the-tracks campaign, mercifully, on Friday. The New York Times reports tonight:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton will endorse Senator Barack Obama on Friday, bringing a close to her 17-month campaign for the White House, aides said. Her decision came after Democrats urged her on Wednesday to leave the race and allow the party to coalesce around Mr. Obama.
Mrs. Clinton’s aides said she would “express her support for Senator Obama and party unity” at an event in Washington that day. One adviser said that Mrs. Clinton would concede defeat, congratulate Mr. Obama and proclaim him the party’s nominee, while pledging to do what was needed to assure his victory.
Her decision came after a day of conversations with supporters on Capitol Hill about her future now that Mr. Obama had clinched the nomination. Mrs. Clinton had, in a speech after Tuesday night’s primaries, suggested that she wanted to wait before deciding about her future, but in conversations throughout the day on Wednesday, her aides said, she was urged to step aside.
“We pledged to support her to the end,” said Representative Charles B. Rangel, a New York Democrat who has been a patron of Mrs. Clinton since she first ran for the Senate. “Our problem is not being able to determine when the hell the end is.” ...
Rep. Rangel was apparently one of the prime movers in pushing Mrs. Clinton out of the race. He was visibly angry in an interview with NBC News today, and according to Andrea Mitchell, he told Hillary point blank, along with 23 fellow members of Congress, that she had erred last night in not acknowledging that Barack had reached the number of delegates needed to seal the nomination. Mitchell reported that members were approaching Obama repeatedly on Capitol Hill today and telling him they wanted to move over to him (as many undecided supers are rushing to do before the train is so far out of the station it becomes a puff of smoke,) but Hillary wouldn't release them to switch their endorsement. And Howard Fineman reported that there was a subsequent conference call arranged, no less, by senior Clinton advisers, on which eight senior Senators, presumably including Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Barbara McCulsky and Diane Feinstein, told Hillary it was time to go.
A bit more from the Times:
The desire of the party for Mrs. Clinton to leave the race was signaled — if politely as four top Democratic leaders issued a statement on Wednesday morning asking all uncommitted delegates to make their decisions by Friday. The statement from the party officials — Howard Dean, the Democratic chairman; Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker; Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, and Gov. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — stopped short of endorsing Mr. Obama, but aides said they would likely move in that direction if Mrs. Clinton lingered in the race.
“The voters have spoken,” they said in their joint statement released before 7 a.m., purposefully timed to set the tone for the day after the election. “Democrats must now turn our full attention to the general election.”
Representative Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois Democrat with close ties to Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton who had kept studiously neutral throughout the presidential contest, said in an interview that he was “coming out from my desk” to endorse Mr. Obama. “The fact is that he is the nominee,” Mr. Emanuel said
He seemed quizzical at the slowness of Mrs. Clinton’s decision not to acknowledge this. “You don’t answer about whether you want to be about vice president unless there’s no doubt in your mind that he is the nominee,” he said, referring to Mrs. Clinton’s initial reluctance to congratulate Mr. Obama, noting that she told supporters she would be open to be vice president, if Mr. Obama wanted her.
Mrs. Clinton’s initial ambivalence about her future in her speech on Tuesday night stirred concern among some of her top supporters.
“By the time she got on that podium last night, she knew it was over and that she had lost,” Hillary Rosen, one of Mrs. Clinton’s most prominent women supporters, wrote on the Huffington Post Web site. “I am sure I was not alone in privately urging the campaign over the last two weeks to use the moment to take her due, pass the torch and cement her grace.”
Now, Hillary will get a second shot at that moment. Unfortunately, it will have been forced upon her.
UPDATE: Keith Olbermann just reported that Hillary will make some sort of concession-like announcement to her senior staff at her home in D.C. on Friday, followed by a bigger public event on Saturday.
During a radio appearance today, I made the point that the problem with Hillary Clinton's performance last night has little to do with Barack Obama. I don't believe the hype that "most" of her supporters are so distraught that they will vote for John McCain in November. Most of the 17-plus million people who supported Hillary Clinton in the primary are firm Democrats, who will vote for the party's nominee in the fall. Many are older women -- the party's strongest voting base -- and they will support the Democrat over anti-choice, Supreme Court threatening Republican John McCain.
But there are those bitter-enders out there who are determined to go over the edge for Hillary, writing in her name, voting for McCain or not voting at all, just to punish the Democrats for not picking their girl. Some of these older, white women are, like the notorious Harriet Christian, in true blue states like New York, so we're more than happy to lose them. (Nobody likes a bitter pill.) Others, are in red states where they will simply be joining the majority, and thus will have no impact on the results. To them, we bid a fond "adieu." But there is a small group of dead-enders who DO matter, because they're in key swing states, and like Ralph Nader voters, if enough of them get together, they could do some electoral damage.
These are the voters Hillary Clinton is responsible for and to. Only she can truly talk them down off the ledge. Last night, Hillary missed a golden opportunity to begin to administer that much-needed therapy. She missed the opportunity to end her campaign with the ultimate act of grace and class, by beginning the process of telling her supporters the hard truth, followed by the soft turn toward the real importance of this election, and of at least giving Barack Opportunity the chance to be heard. (Ironically, Hillary tried to do just that with Israel partisans at AIPAC today, but Barack didn't need the help. He got an overwhelming ovation...)
By squandering that opportunity, Hillary diminished herself last night. She disappointed many of her strongest partisans -- people like Hillary Rosen (the non-supporter, supporter, who was on CNN after she wasn't on MSNBC...)
| , and she made herself look small, out of touch with reality, and, well, bitter. And she is tacitly allowing her dejected followers to continue to feel like the ultimate victims. And I'm not sure how bitterness and victimization fit into the feminist message. Actually, I'm pretty sure they don't.
You wouldn't catch Indira Ghandi whining about the sexist media, or Margaret Thatcher clinging to the drapes as they try to drag her off the stage.
This is no way to end a campaign, Mrs. Clinton -- a very nearly successful one at that. It's hard to believe it reading this blog, but I came into this election as a die-hard Bill Clinton fan, a longtime Clinton supporter, and someone who said in 2004 that if she ran for president that year, or this year, I'd quit whatever I was doing to go and work for her. But once Barack Obama made the case to me last summer, I got the chance to take a step back and see the Clintons the way non-Clintonites saw them. For the first time, I didn't like what I saw. I like it even less the more I see, hear and read about them. And last night, I had not love for Hillary at all.
As I said to the radio audience this afternoon, it's time for Mrs. Clinton to go. If not for her country's sake, than for her own.
Meanwhile, Gary Hart, whom my sister and I went door to door for in Colorado when I was in junior high school, has some good advice for Mrs. Clinton:
When he did finally abandon his push for the nomination, Mr. Hart was quick to embrace his rival. It was easy, he said, because he’d been fond of and friendly with Mr. Mondale in the decade before the campaign—and had even recommended him to Jimmy Carter’s vice presidential search committee in 1976. But he admits that his own political future entered into his thinking.
“I was going to have a future in the party, even if Mondale won,” he said, “so there was no interest on my part in being a dog in the manger.”
At the convention, Mr. Hart’s name was entered into nomination, but when Mr. Mondale went over the top, Mr. Hart immediately asked that his name be withdrawn and that Mr. Mondale be nominated by acclamation. The next morning, he met with Mr. Mondale, promised to vigorously campaign for him, and then went out and did just that—totaling, by his count, 50 to 60 campaign stops for his former foe in the fall.
“I think she’s got to do the same,” Mr. Hart said. “Whatever happens, she has to do her best to get Barack Obama elected president. She can’t pull punches or be cute about it. She’s got to work hard.”
And, he added, even if she suspends her campaign beforehand, she should keep an eye on her delegates at the convention: “It’s not in her interest, and I would think her key supporters would want to keep from happening in Denver what happened at that [DNC] meeting in Washington, D.C. It’s a black eye for her. These people might think they’re helping her, but they’re not.”
Hart, back in 1984, was in as strong a challengers position as Hillary is now, if not stronger. He closed by winning California, not Puerto Rico, and he took other big states from Mondale, and was the Obama of his generation -- younger, good looking, a "fresh face" and change candidate. And he would have done much better in the general election than Walter Mondale. In the end, he didn't fight to the death. And he wasn't un-gracious. It worked for him. Monkey Business aside, Hart is a respected, sought after figure in the party, not an angry spoiler.
What's it going to take to make Bob Johnson shut up?
Black Exploitation Television founder Bob Johnson continues to be an embarrassment, most recently as regards his support for defeated presidential contender Hillary Clinton. Bob's latest hit? He has written to SC Congressman Jim Clyburn to ask for ... well ... a little favor:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Billionaire businessman Bob Johnson, a close adviser and friend to Sen. Hillary Clinton , launched a campaign Wednesday to persuade Sen. Barack Obama to offer the vice presidential slot on the Democratic ticket to Clinton.
Johnson told CNN's "American Morning" that Clinton knows about his push but "she didn't direct me to do it."
A day after the final two primaries, Johnson sent a letter to House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn on Wednesday to lobby the Congressional Black Caucus to endorse Clinton as Obama's running mate. He said it needs to be done for the sake of party unity.
"There's no question that Sen. Clinton will do whatever she's asked to do for the party and she will certainly … entertain the idea if it's offered," Johnson said.
In his letter directed at the Congressional Black Caucus, Johnson wrote:
"As African Americans we agree that the stakes in this election are far too high to take any chances that this party will not be unified from the top to the bottom in our effort to gain control of The White House." ...
... "You know as well as I the deep affection that millions of African Americans hold for both Senator Clinton and President Clinton. … But most important, we need to have the certainty of winning; and, I believe, without question, that Barack Obama as President and Hillary Clinton as Vice President bring that certainty to the ticket."
Johnson, who founded Black Entertainment Television, also owns the Charlotte Bobcats basketball team.
He told CNN he was not trying to limit Obama's options, or force him to pick Clinton.
"My letter was not a pressure letter," he said. "This is Sen. Obama's decision.
"If the Congress members can come together and agree as I do that it would be in the best interest of the party to have Sen. Clinton on the ticket, they carry that petition to Sen. Obama," he said.
"This is not a pressure. This is elected officials giving their best judgment."
So Bob wants Hillary to join the ticket of a man he once derided as a drug dealer? Seriously? And he thinks that ... what ... pro-Clinton Congressional Black Caucus members (of whom Clyburn is certainly NOT ONE ... he's been clearly pro-Obama the whole way and formally endorsed him this week) have some sort of leverage with the Obama campaign? Signs point to "no," Bob. Go back to exploiting Black college kids and playing low-brow music videos, you know, the things you do best. Politics is just not your bag. |
The three speeches tonight couldn't have been more different. John McCain was downright creepy in New Orleans with that ghoulish laugh every few bars... his speech, which was supposed to be about REAL change, was so boring, I must admit I fast forwarded through much of it. But I got the drift: "welcome to the general election, punk."
Hillary gave absolutely nothing to the cause of party unity. Stunningly, she continued to call herself the more electable candidate, maintained that she's the real winner (of the fictitious popular vote,) and could barely manage a kind word for Barack as she spoke to supporters in a sensory deprivation chamber in the basement of a New York college (so that no one could get cellphone or Blackberry service and find out that Barack had clinched the nomination...) She did not acknowledge that Obama has clinched the nomination, and she essentially threatened to hold him up unless she gets whatever it is she wants (bullying her way onto the ticket? Not a good look, and not a good way to deal with the man who could be the next president...) Text of Hillary's speech here.
Meanwhile, Barack was gracious to a fault, praising Hillary for more than three minutes, even praising Bill Clinton and his administration, after all the barbs the former president has thrown at him, and delivering a truly soaring speech capped with the theme: "it's our time." Read the full text here.
He did get in a good couple of swings at McCain, including saying that he honored and respected McCain's experience "even if he chooses to discount mine." And he stated that change may mean many things, but staying in Iraq for 100 years isn't one of them.
Meanwhile, EUR Web compiles a couple of reports that suggest that when Hillary finally exits the stage, she plans to mug Barack on the way to her dressing room, in part, on behalf of her Black elected supporters, many of whom, including Kendrick Meek of Miami, Stephanie Tubbs Jones (Ohio), Sheila Jackon Lee of Texas, Gregory Meeks of New York and others, were on stage with her tonight:
We've also learned that part of the process calls for Obama to help payoff Clinton's campaign debt which is estimated to be between $20 and $40 million dollars.
Apparently, once that happens Clinton is prepared to step aside and put in place plans to endorse Obama. To that extent, it's being reported that she has asked her key donors and backers to be in New York city tonight where she is expected to make a speech to announce the above items.
The Huffington Post.com says that "Obama and Clinton spoke Sunday night and agreed that their staffs should begin negotiations over post-primary activities, according to reliable sources. In addition to seeking Obama's help in raising money to pay off debts, Clinton wants Obama to assist black officials who endorsed her and who are now taking constituent heat, including, in some cases, primary challenges from pro-Obama politicians."
“It’s not about the vice-presidency or any other position she might get. It’s about the money – in particular the Clinton family money,” a source close to a Clinton donor told the UK's Telegraph.
I'll be interested to see how much of her Christmas list she gets.
Hillary Clinton has a lot of power this week, to shape the psychology of her most fervent supporters -- the ones who aren't core Democrats enough to go with whomever is the nominee, the older, white women who are bitter, angry, passionate and enraged that she has been "denied" (never mind the mistakes made by her own campaign, the 11 straight losses after Super Tuesday, and those damned caucus states) the nomination for president.) What she does over the next several days will matter, not so much for Barack Obama, who I believe will win a majority of the women's vote regardless of the Clinton dead-enders, but to those women themselves, who have put everything -- and I mean everything -- into her campaign. For Obama, she can make this easy, or she can make it difficult. She can bow out gracefully, or she and her supporters can go out ugly, but make no mistkae. Tonight, like it or not, it ends.
WASHINGTON - Hillary Clinton told colleagues Tuesday she would be consider joining Barack Obama as his running mate.
On a conference call with other New York lawmakers, Clinton, a New York senator, said she was willing to become Obama's vice presidential nominee if it would help Democrats win the White House, according to a participant who spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to speak for Clinton.
Advisers for Clinton are also indicating that the former first lady is withholding a formal departure from the race partly to use her remaining leverage to press for a spot on the ticket. ...
Well that depends on what the meaning of "press" is.
I was on the radio this afternoon with my mentor, James T (Hot 105 FM Miami) and when asked whether she would be on the ticket, I gave an emphatic "no." (Hey, it was a one-word answer request.) I continue to take the Nancy Pelosi view, that a joint ticket will not happen, and from a messaging point of view, makes no sense for Barack. But if Camp Clinton decides to play hardball, and attempts to railroad her onto the ticket in August, that, my friends, would be ugly, ugly, ugly.
And I don't think it would work. What it would do is tarnish the Clinton name within the Democratic party, maybe forever. James has made the very good point that if Obama is a strong man who knows who he is, he should be able to handle a strong vice president (and her husband). I agree. But I think Obama has to be allowed to make a fresh start -- to write his own chapter in Democratic history, without dragging her and her husband's vast library behind him. He needs to be, to quote Al Gore, his "own man," free from the Clinton legacy. Already, Washington is shaking off that legacy; as the "Hardball" crew just pointed out, when Howard Dean beat Clinton guy Donnie Fowler for DNC chair in 2005 and when Nancy Pelosi and not a Clinton loyalist became Speaker of the House, the race was on the close the door behind the Clinton family.
I think that door, for now, needs to remain closed. Bill Clinton needs to get about the work of rebuilding his legacy, particularly his tremendous work on global philanthropy. Hillary needs to find an identity apart from the White House. And America needs to take a big gulp of fresh air, free from the Bushes (mercifully) and -- and I say this with sadness, not with relish, because I always really liked and respected Bill -- free from the Clintons.
What is with this affinity between Hillary Clinton's campaign and Fox News? Her most ... um ... nutty?... supporter, Harriet Christian, went right to the Faux News Channel to explain herself after her racially-charged rant following Saturday's Democratic Rules Committee meeting.
During the interview with Neil Cavuto, Harriet adds to her "inadequate black man" comment, parroting the Fox talking points about Reverend Wright, and adding her insight that "99 percent of the blacks don't even know why they are voting for him" (Obama) and then states that she, on the other hand, does know why: because he's black! Harriet fails to explain the irony of her supporting Hillary primarily because she's a woman, adding instead that she very much wanted to see a woman president in her lifetime ... Harriet also claims that because she somehow, opaquely, "worked for civil rights," she is "the furthest thing from a racist." Whatever gets you through the night, dear. Incredibly, Ms. Christian, who apparently now is a John McCain supporter, blythely dismisses the importance of the Supreme Court as an issue for her as a woman. She intends to support McCain, Court be damned, unless her choice, Hillary Clinton, is made the Democratic nominee. Harriet does say that she would support a ticket with Hillary at the top, and Barack at the bottom, "because then, Hillary would be running the country, and not Obama."
Meanwhile, one of her homies claims she really isn't nuts. And in doing so, Will Bower proves that he's as loony as she is:
I have a confession to make. It was I who encouraged Harriet to stay and to face the cameras. Each time she wanted to storm from the lobby in a fiery exeunt, it was I who stopped her, consoled her, turned her around, and told her "Your anger needs to be heard, friend. Don't stop."
Did I think that she could have been more coherent at first? Yes, I did. Did I feel that she was flirting with the edge of reason? Yes, I did. Would I have had her change a thing? No, I wouldn't.
I would like to add that I don't condone any correlation between the words "black" and "inadequate." It is my belief that she was not *equating* "black" with "inadequate." I believe she was saying that *Obama* is inadequate, and that he is where he is because of affirmative action tactics -- much as Geraldine Ferraro has said, and not unlike Joe Biden's misspeak last year. Again, though, not words I personally would have ever chosen.
Many have criticized Harriet for what is being categorized as her "circus antics." What they call "antics," I call the red blood of Democracy. She was angry. She was angry as I was angry. We were angry as thousands of people were angry. That anger needed a voice that wasn't couched behind cold, intellectually dishonest reason.
he DNC had committed an act of war, and Harriet was firing back with bullets of passion. Was she the best marksman? Perhaps not. But did she reveal to America the depth of frustration that many, many people are feeling right now? That she did. ...
Montana and South Dakota bring up the electoral rear today, with polls closing at 10 p.m. Eastern time. So will Hill fold up her tents after tonight? Don't go to Vegas and put money on it. But I do believe what I have been told about her campaign being effectively over as of Friday. No advance staff means no travel. And I've been on the business end of a campaign directive to "get your expense reports in by (date)" the implication being, after that, good luck getting your money. (I won't even go into the hot mess that was the end of ACT's South Florida campaign offices... (stomach gurgling...) ... you really don't want to know...)
But in the end, I'm looking for Hillary to make a fairly gracious, but non-committal statement at the end of today, and to make no sudden moves until early next week, when she's back in New York for her big Tuesday party (another surefire sign of the end of a campaign: the candidate goes home for a "big party.")
Either way, by Wednesday of next week, I suspect we'll all be Hillary-free. And no, she's not getting on the ticket.
Meet Harriet Christian, the angry Hillary supporter who was booted out of Saturday's Rules Committee meeting after the Michigan and Florida compromises were struck. To put it mildly, she was hopping mad. Her big line: Hillary's the best nominee ever, and yet the Democrats are "throwing the election away ... for what? For an inadequate black male!" She added that Obama only joined the race "because there was a white woman in the race." And she capped it all with a Jeremiah Wright-esque "God damn the Democratic Party!" Watch for yourself:
Geez. She makes John McCain look like a guy who actually wants those kids on his lawn...
More seriously, Harriet's response, which goes right to the race card, sure makes you worry about the inner demons of many of Hillary's older supporters. Maybe it's just generational -- after all, in people like Harriet's lifetime, blacks were codified as inferior to them, and largely barred from public life. Harriet, who is a New Yorker, probably felt comfortable with that arrangement. Or maybe she's just momentarily pissed off and she'll feel foolish later on for losing it like this on camera. ... maybe she'll vote for John McCain, with all the implications for the Supreme Court. ... (Maybe she's just nuts.) Who knows. But let's all hope Harriet's hubby had her slippers and a hot toddy waiting for her when she got home. Otherwise, there's probably a busted up old man wandering around Manhattan in his pajamas.
I have it from a prominent Florida Democrat that Hillary Clinton's staffers have been told that Friday will be their last day on the job. My source heard it first hand from a senior Hil staffer Washington/Arlington. Hillary may talk a good game through Tuesday, but according to this source, it truly will be just talk at that point. She's ending her campaign at the end of the week. This confirms similar reporting from Politico's Ben Smith:
Members of Hillary Clinton's advance staff received calls and emails this evening from headquarters summoning them to New York City Tuesday night, and telling them their roles on the campaign are ending, two Clinton staffers tell my colleague Amie Parnes.
The advance staffers — most of them now in Puerto Rico, South Dakota, and Montana — are being given the options of going to New York for a final day Tuesday, or going home, the aides said. The move is a sign that the campaign is beginning to shed — at least — some of its staff. The advance staff is responsible for arranging the candidate's events around the country.
My source also indicated that Camp Clinton appears eager to begin healing some of the racial wounds from the bruising primary campaign. We'll see how that works out ...
Meanwhile, this morning, I got a first-hand peek at an ad soon to be run by a major Hillary superdelegate in Congress. The ad features a center graphic that looks curiously like the red and white striped Obama "O", and which exhorts Democrats to "take back the white house and the state house." The member of Congress, a CBCer who's up for re-election, hasn't spoken about the campaign in months, but has been very close to Bill Clinton. Now, it seems, it's everybody on board for Barack.
Update: Clinton spokesman Mo Eleithee says the story is not true. He elaborated further with Ben Smith, saying the staff simply has no schedule past next Tuesday. That either means the campaign won't fold on Friday, or the Clinton campaign is not prepared to say that it will. |
Hillary Clinton won the Puerto Rico primary today, by a commanding 68% to 32%. But here's the thing: PR normally turns out 80 percent of its registered voters for local elections. This time, with a major national election on the line, turnout was only about 20 percent, according to CNN. And the numbers won't help bolster Camp Hillary's phony-baloney popular vote argument, given that the whole shebang turned out just over 300,000 voters. The finally tally, per the CNN election thingy:
Clinton 257,331 votes, 38 delegates
Obama 118,972 votes, 17 delegates
Clinton net: 138,359 votes, 21 delegates (she had been looking for a 200,000 vote net out of PR.)
That doesn't exactly help put Hillary ahead in the popular vote, even if you use her multi-state deleting, Michigan-including math.
With today's RBC deal on Fl and MI, the new "magic number" to become the Democratic nominee is 2,117 (there was a resignation by a guy called Al Wynn, so the 2,118 has been cut by one.) Barack now needs just 65 delegates to clinch the nomination. As Craig Crawford says, there's a new boss in town. All that's left are the deal and the exit.
That said, I don't think Hillary's camp will shrink from their stated goal of piling up primary votes so as to put forward a (phony) claim on the popular vote. (Phony, because you have to discount the caucus states and assume that nobody in Michigan -- not one soul -- intended to support Barack Obama, in order to make it so.) Hillary wants to go out like Al Gore, laying claim to the "moral victory" of getting more votes, and allowing her supporters, inexplicably, to carry away the bitterness of having the nomination "stolen" from them by the powers that be. That, combined with Harold Ickes' and Howard Wolfson's continued nastiness, stoking the rage of Clintons' white women supporters, is just baffling when you consider that these people are Democrats.
Geraldine Ferraro, America's bitterest woman, has shredded what was left of her reputation. Her vituperative brand of support for her candidate, Hillary Clinton, has made them both look bad. If I'm Hillary, I'm emailing Gerri with the following subject line: STFU.
Here we are at the end of the primary season, and the effects of racism and sexism on the campaign have resulted in a split within the Democratic Party that will not be easy to heal before election day. Perhaps it's because neither the Barack Obama campaign nor the media seem to understand what is at the heart of the anger on the part of women who feel that Hillary Clinton was treated unfairly because she is a woman or what is fueling the concern of Reagan Democrats for whom sexism isn't an issue, but reverse racism is. ...
... As for Reagan Democrats, how Clinton was treated is not their issue. They are more concerned with how they have been treated. Since March, when I was accused of being racist for a statement I made about the influence of blacks on Obama's historic campaign, people have been stopping me to express a common sentiment: If you're white you can't open your mouth without being accused of being racist. They see Obama's playing the race card throughout the campaign and no one calling him for it as frightening. They're not upset with Obama because he's black; they're upset because they don't expect to be treated fairly because they're white. It's not racism that is driving them, it's racial resentment. And that is enforced because they don't believe he understands them and their problems. That when he said in South Carolina after his victory "Our Time Has Come" they believe he is telling them that their time has passed.
By the way, Ferraro, who goes on to defend the downtrodden white voters who "don't identify with someone who has gone to Columbia and Harvard Law School and is married to a Princeton-Harvard Law graduate. His experience with an educated single mother and being raised by middle class grandparents is not something they can empathize with. They may lack a formal higher education, but they're not stupid. What they're waiting for is assurance that an Obama administration won't leave them behind," wants a study ... at Harvard ... how anti-elitist of you, Gerri.
To punctuate her point, Gerri went on her favorite news outlet, totally un-sexist Fox News Channel (where your bra size and hair have to be bigger than your I.Q. in order to get on the air as a woman, and where ... and this is the big one ... Loofah-waving pervert Bill O'Reilly STILL WORKS ...) to whinge about anti-white racism:
"All the surrogates that they had out there, from the black journalists — you know, have you read Bob Herbert recently in the past six months? There wasn't one column that had anything decent to say about Hillary."
Well ... inevitably, the black journalists, fired back with the following statement, followed by a comment:
"NABJ is outraged that a former vice presidential candidate would suggest that all black reporters are mouthpieces for the Obama campaign," NABJ President Barbara Ciara, an anchor for WTKR-TV in Norfolk, Va., said in a statement. "To suggest this shows not only a stunning lack of judgment but also her unapologetic bigotry. Ms. Ferraro used her appearance on Fox News to reinforce stereotypes that suggest that black reporters can't be trusted to cover another person of color without bias and favoritism."
NABJ's vice president for print, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Ernie Suggs, called the remarks a "direct attack" not only on the integrity of black journalists, but "the integrity of all journalists who work every day to provide good, honest journalism."
Does that mean, by extension, that white female journalists are surrogates for Hillary?
Aussie journalist Russell Coker, whose site you can find here, alerted me to this very interesting article in the Washington Post, putting forward what could be the solution to the nettling question of "what to do withher..."
...It's likely that the next president will face at least one Supreme Court vacancy. Obama should promise Hillary Clinton, now, that if he wins in November, the vacancy will be hers, making her first on a list of one.
Obama and Clinton have wound up agreeing on nearly every major issue during the campaign; at the end of the day, they share many orthodoxies. Unless the Supreme Court were to get mired in minuscule details of what constitutes universal health care, Obama could assume that he'd be pleased with most Clinton votes, certainly on major issues such as abortion.
Obama could also appreciate Clinton's undeniably keen mind. Even Clinton detractors have noted her remarkable mental skills; she would be equal to any legal or intellectual challenge she would face as a justice. The fact that she hasn't served on a bench before would be inconsequential, considering her experience in law and in government.
If Obama were to promise Clinton the first court vacancy, her supporters would actually have a stronger incentive to support him for president than they would if she were going to be vice president. Given the Supreme Court's delicate liberal-conservative balance, she would play a major role in charting the country's future; there is no guarantee that a Clinton vice presidency would achieve such importance.
For nearly a year and a half, Clinton has been fighting a bruising battle. Many appointees and officials from her husband's administration have turned their backs on her; she has lost the support of friends she had every reason to believe would stand by her. She has campaigned tirelessly only to discover that, according to polls, more than half the populace mistrusts her. Yes, she can still hope for 2012 or 2016, but why trust that she will be viewed differently next time around? (A recent CNN "quick poll" found that nearly 70 percent of respondents believed someone other than Clinton would be the first female president.)
Instead of subjecting herself to a long wait and another possible defeat, she could don one of those roomy black robes, make a potentially ineradicable impact on the course of the republic -- and never again have to worry about being liked. ...
Now, I have heard theories about what it would cost to get Hillary Clinton out of the race, and the subject of putting her husband on the Court has come up. This is the first time I've been provoked to think about the Court, rather than the New York governership (too provincial), the Senate Majority Chair (too audacious -- she's down in the 40s in terms of seniority, moving her up would step on a lot of toes...) or the vice presidency (never ... going ... to ... happen. Get over it, Clintonettes.) And you know what? I LIKE IT!
Of course, Obama probably couldn't openly declare his support for handing Clinton 11.1% of the nation's highest court, both because it would energize the right -- particularly the religious right -- on one of their most fundamental issues: activist judges (read "abortion,") but also because it doesn't quite seem appropriate to declare your court nominee before (her) time. But the idea that Clinton could ascend to the SUPCO (hey, since her husband has relinquished the "first black president" title, we could call her the "real holder of the Thurgood Marshall seat...") while not as ground-breaking as becoming the first female president, would give her lasting power and influence, things it's clear she desperately craves. A seat on the Court would put Hillary in a position to extend her influence beyond the limited shelf life of the presidency, while freeing her from that bothersome ambition, which has brought her, and her husband, so low in the esteem of former supporters (myself included.)
So I'd at least back-channel it if I were Obama's team, to top Emily's Listers, to League of Women Voters heads, and through his new pals at NARAL (national -- the local NARAL's are probably still pissed off...) and see what happens. So long as they can find a way to filter the hope of an appointment down through the ranks without blasting it on their MySpace, it just might make a difference.
Every couple of days I receive an email in my gmail account from a Carolyn Kay, of makethemaccountable.com. I must admit I don't open them, since it's obvious that the dispatch is an email newsletter from a Democratic-leaning blog or website. Well, tonight, I decided to have a look.
What I found was a lengthy screed, full of links to posts by other angry feminists, denigrating Barack Obama and interspersed with offensive cartoons depicting him as a simian dumbass. It's kind of like the lefty sites devoted to hyperventilating about George W. Bush, only this one is coming from a Democrat, and dedicated to attacking another Democrat. Oh, there's the odd anti-John McCain link, and plenty of Bush-bashing, but for the most part, it's all about Obama.
Ms. Kay, who makes it clear by her posts that she is a rather ... um... dedicated, Hillary Clinton supporter, is apparently a friend, on some level, of radio host Thom Hartmann, who also seems to lean Clinton (hell, he works for Air America. Mark Green doesn't do Obama love...) Given his intellect, I'm surprised that he would hang with such a person. If you don't believe how vituperative, ugly, and snide Ms. Kay can be, go on over to her site and read her for yourself. A sampling:
What Krugman said (by lambert) I’ll bet my first Early Girl tomato that none* of Krugman’s wise suggestions will be adopted. That is, the demonization of the Clintons will continue, Hillary’s supporters will continue to be written off as hicks, and Hillary will not be offered the VP slot.** Nor will Obama address the deficiencies in his health care plan. My views are based on Obama’s past performance in the campaign. If Obama has made no gestures of respect when he hasn’t won, why would he do so after he has? His base won’t demand it of him, nor will his handlers, nor will our famously free press, and so it won’t happen. If it were going to happen, it would already have happened; it’s not like there haven’t been opportunities.
What Hypocrite Obama Should Have Discussed in His Wesleyan Commencement Address (by Truthteller at No Quarter) MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) – “Filling in for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and tying himself to the family’s legacy, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama urged college graduates Sunday to ‘make us believe again’ by dedicating themselves to public service….[and] urged students to focus on more than ‘the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should buy.’” The rest of the 25-minute speech should have been dedicated to urging students to focus on “the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should buy,” for this is the life Barack Obama actually pursued. Indeed, Obama should have offered Wesleyan students instructions on how to find and secure political and financial godfathers in the mold of Antoin “Tony” Rezko. After all, this is how Obama climbed the political, social and financial ladders of Chicago, Illinois.
Meanwhile, on her bio page, she reveals that she grew up in Louisiana, didn't object to segregation, but was just fine with Blacks eventually trying to get equality. Thanks, dear. Then, at the bottom of her bio, just after the revelation that she is a cancer survivor, there's this:
So here I am. And here I’ll stay. I’ll use every talent I possess and all my energy to try to bring back tolerance, decency, and generosity to the country I love.
Tolerance? Decency? Generosity??? Lady, have you read your own blog???
Hillary Clinton and her camp have long complained about media bias against her. But I think the events of the past 24 hours demonstrate that if there is indeed bias, it is squarely in her favor.
Witness the speed with which the flap over her assassination comments of Friday have created an intramural media backlash. The Politico's John Harris and others (including the NY Daily News editorial board, which also published an op-ed by Hillary today) are already coming to her defense, and inveighing against the coverage by their fellow members of the media, calling it overblown. These are the same media types who spent a full month or more obsessing over the comments, not of candidate Barack Obama, but of his pastor. These are the same media types who STILL use Barack's "bitter" comments, which were arguably more misconstrued than Hillary's comments about RFK, in their analysis of why he supposedly does so poorly with white, working class voters. Just this morning, on Stephanopoulos' show, both Rev. Wright AND "bittergate" were floated during the roundtable as evidence of Obama's "elitism problem." The Politico's Mike Allen was among those way out front in explaining how "bittergate" could torch Obama's campaign. And Harris in April published a full-blown manifesto arguing Obama's utter lack of electability which came straight from the Clinton inner circle.
So when, not 24 hours after it broke, reporters are already pooh-poohing the RFK flap, I see biased people, but not in Obama's direction.
The "poor Hillary" media corps have been helped in some ways by Barack Obama, who unlike Hillary with Rev. Wright, or Barack's religious faith (Christian ... as far as Hillary knows ...) and "bittergate," has declined to add onto her misery by being opaque about whether she meant what it clearly appeared that she meant. And RFK Jr. has been helpful by excusing Hillary's remarks, something she was quick to include in her NYDN editorial defending herself today. But on the merits, the outrageousness of Hillary's comments is a bombshell of much greater alarm, it seems to me, at a time when Barack's life really is threatened because of his campaign, than his offhand remarks about bitterness or, for god's sake, the third party remarks of his pastor. And yet, members of the media are, once again, letting Hillary off the hook.
Hillary Clinton pens an op-ed piece in today's New York Daily News, explaining her assassination gaffe, and explaining why she's staying in the race:
This past Friday, during a meeting with a newspaper editorial board, I was asked about whether I was going to continue in the presidential race.
I made clear that I was - and that I thought the urgency to end the 2008 primary process was unprecedented. I pointed out, as I have before, that both my husband's primary campaign, and Sen. Robert Kennedy's, had continued into June.
Almost immediately, some took my comments entirely out of context and interpreted them to mean something completely different - and completely unthinkable.
I want to set the record straight: I was making the simple point that given our history, the length of this year's primary contest is nothing unusual. Both the executive editor of the newspaper where I made the remarks, and Sen. Kennedy's son, Bobby Kennedy Jr., put out statements confirming that this was the clear meaning of my remarks. Bobby stated, "I understand how highly charged the atmosphere is, but I think it is a mistake for people to take offense."
I realize that any reference to that traumatic moment for our nation can be deeply painful - particularly for members of the Kennedy family, who have been in my heart and prayers over this past week. And I expressed regret right away for any pain I caused.
But I was deeply dismayed and disturbed that my comment would be construed in a way that flies in the face of everything I stand for - and everything I am fighting for in this election.
No apologies there, and a wee bit of riteous indignation. As to why she's still all-in, once you get past her usual talking points (not everybody has voted, our economy is in crisis, I still think I can win it all, blah, blah, blah,) you get this:
I am running because I believe staying in this race will help unite the Democratic Party. I believe that if Sen. Obama and I both make our case - and all Democrats have the chance to make their voices heard - in the end, everyone will be more likely to rally around the nominee.
Hillary's last, best argument for staying in, is that if she doesn't, millions of elder white women who support her, and voters in the remaining few states, will feel cheated. Therefore, in order to unite the party in the end, she has to get to the end. That's as rational an argument as she has left to put forward, and because the Obama campaign is amenable to letting it play out, that's what is most likely to happen. However, after June 3rd, Hillary's rationale dissipates, and I think, the drumbeat for her to get out will become insurmountable, especially since she has torched any chance of being asked to be on the ticket (a possibility that was beyond remote to begin with.)
Hillary Clinton's "assassination option" comments are still reverberating through the political atmosphere, with many Obama supporters who were at his big rally yesterday in Florida, myself included, not getting word of the gaffe until last evening. This morning, Mrs. Clinton awoke to a raft of blistering op-ed pieces and general oprobrium, along with numerous calls for her to get out of the race now. Michael Goodwin of the New York Daily News speaks for many:
SICK. Disgusting. And yet revealing. Hillary Clinton is staying in the race in the event some nut kills Barack Obama.
It could happen, but what definitely has happened is that Clinton has killed her own chances of being vice president. She doesn't deserve to be elected dog catcher anywhere now.
Her shocking comment to a South Dakota newspaper might qualify as the dumbest thing ever said in American politics.
Her lame explanation that she brought up the 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy because his brother Ted's illness was on her mind doesn't cut it. Not even close.
We have seen an X-ray of a very dark soul. One consumed by raw ambition to where the possible assassination of an opponent is something to ponder in a strategic way. Otherwise, why is murder on her mind?
Goodwin and others note that with this gaffe -- Hillary's "macaca moment" -- she has certainly ended all speculation about a joint ticket. She was very unlikely to be asked to be Obama's vice president anyway. Now, he can feel comfortable not even considering it.
It's a shame, though, that Clinton's rather bright political career could come down to this. We all know that in a sound byte culture, one mistake can literally end careers: just ask Jimmy the Greek, or George Allen. Sure, one can find a way back: Don Imus is, after all, still on the radio. But it's not the same. He's no longer a mainstream figure in talk radio. He's an outlier; a curiosity, and for Mrs. Clinton, his dual fate could be instructive.
I hate to believe that Hillary truly wants something bad to happen to Barack, so that she can be the nominee. But it's hard to mistake what she said for anything other than a dark reflection of her desperation, her raw ambition, and the cold calculus that she has made that could be summed up: hell, anything could happen -- this guy could be dead by next month. That's not only not becoming of a national leader, its unbecoming of a lady, of a human being, of a sitting Senator, or of anyone who aspires to be president.
We have forgiven you the photos of Osama Bin Laden in an anti-Obama ad...
We have forgiven you fawning over the fairness of Fox News while they were still calling you a murderer.
We have forgiven you accepting Richard Mellon Scaife's endorsement and then laughing as you described his "deathbed conversion."
We have forgiven you quoting the electoral predictions of Boss Karl Rove.
We have forgiven you the 3 a.m. Phone Call commercial.
We have forgiven you President Clinton's disparaging comparison of the Obama candidacy to Jesse Jackson's.
We have forgiven you Geraldine Ferraro's national radio interview suggesting Obama would not still be in the race had he been a white man.
We have forgiven you the dozen changing metrics and the endless self-contradictions of your insistence that your nomination is mathematically probable rather than a statistical impossibility.
We have forgiven you your declaration of some primary states as counting and some as not.
We have forgiven you exploiting Jeremiah Wright in front of the editorial board of the lunatic-fringe Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
We have forgiven you exploiting William Ayers in front of the debate on ABC.
We have forgiven you for boasting of your "support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans"...
We have even forgiven you repeatedly praising Senator McCain at Senator Obama's expense, and your own expense, and the Democratic ticket's expense.
But Senator, we cannot forgive you this.
"You know, my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California."
We cannot forgive you this -- not because it is crass and low and unfeeling and brutal.
This is unforgivable, because this nation's deepest shame, its most enduring horror, its most terrifying legacy, is political assassination.
Martin Luther King.
And, but for the grace of the universe or the luck of the draw, Reagan, Ford, Truman, Nixon, Andrew Jackson, both Roosevelts, even George Wallace.
The politics of this nation is steeped enough in blood, Senator Clinton, you cannot and must not invoke that imagery! Anywhere! At any time!
And to not appreciate, immediately - to still not appreciate tonight - just what you have done... is to reveal an incomprehension of the America you seek to lead.
This, Senator, is too much.
Because a senator - a politician - a person - who can let hang in mid-air the prospect that she might just be sticking around in part, just in case the other guy gets shot - has no business being, and no capacity to be, the President of the United States.
There has been a constant drumbeat of comparisons between Barack Obama and both John and Robert Kennedy, from the family, and from observers who see Obama as a natural bearer of the torch of Camelot.
More darkly, there has been an undercurrent of fear running through the Black community, that Barack Obama, if elected, would not be safe as president. That his communion with the Kennedys might be too close. I know more than a few Black folk, oder mostly, who backed Hillary Clinton because of that fear -- even saying, "I'd rather have him alive than in the White House."
So why ... why in the name of God would Hillary Clinton make a reference to Bobby Kennedy that even subliminally suggested that one reason for her to stay in the race, is that like RFK, Barack Obama might not make it past June? Why would she say anything that could even have been interpreted as such -- whatever she meant -- given the grim news we learned this week about the last remaining brother of the almost royal Kennedy clan? Here, if you can even fathom it, is what Hillary said:
In an interview with the Argus (SD) Leader editorial board today, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, took the unusual step of invoking the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy, D-NY, when discussing reasons why she was staying in the presidential race.
Asked about calls for her to drop out, Clinton said, “This is part of an ongoing effort to end this before it’s over. I sure don’t think it’s over." She mentioned how non-frontrunners took their delegates to the convention in 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992.
Suggesting that Obama's campaign has been the source of stories about a unity ticket with her as vice president, Clinton said, "people have been trying to push me out of this ever since Iowa."
Clinton was then asked if she doesn't think that those calling for the ticket are actually interested in uniting the party.
"I don’t because I’ve been around long enough," she said. "My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know, I don't understand it. And there's lots of speculation about why it is."
Hillary Clinton certainly ended her campaign today. She cannot possibly attract a single new super delegate after what she said in South Dakota. She should pray tonight that she has not also ended her political career.
Hillary has tried to clarify her remarks, insisting she was just referencing her husband's late corralling of the nomination in 1992, and she made a dazed-looking, semi-apology to the Kennedy family, and to anyone "if" she offended them -- though not to Obama -- this afternoon.
That probably won't help.
Because whatever Hillary meant, there simply is no place in politics for associating a candidate with assassination. It simply passes a threshold that Hillary herself lowered when she became the first presidential candidate in modern history to tout white, "hard working white voters" who are voting for her, and not for a black candidate. Hillary has fallen through the floor with this latest comment, and if Rev. Wright is now persona non grata for statements that are arguable, but really not beyond the pale, given what we've subsequently heard from people like John Hagee, how can Hillary continue to campaign after this?
In fact, she had used similar, more carefully phrased language back in March, in a Time magazine interview: "Primary contests used to last a lot longer. We all remember the great tragedy of Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June in L.A. My husband didn't wrap up the nomination in 1992 until June. Having a primary contest go through June is nothing particularly unusual."
The fear of a president or a presidential candidate being shot or assassinated is horrifying precisely because recent history teaches us that it can happen. We don't need anybody to remind us, and we certainly don't need anybody to remind whatever suggestible wackos might be lurking in the shadows.
In the context of Obama, Clinton's words broke a double taboo, because since the beginning of his candidacy, some of Obama's supporters have feared that his race made him more of a target than other presidential hopefuls. Obama was placed under Secret Service protection early, a full year ago. To be unaware that one's words tap into a monumental fear that exists in a portion of the electorate -- a fear that Obama's race could get him killed -- is an unusual mistake for a serious and highly disciplined presidential candidate.
It's surprising, too, because something very similar just happened last week, when Mike Huckabee made a joke at an NRA convention about somebody aiming a gun at Obama. He later apologized and called his remarks "offensive." He also could have called them "instructive" for any politician paying attention.
To translate from Desperate Clinton into English: Senator Obama could be assassinated at any moment, and such an event would represent another -- goddamn, this is awful -- another path to the nomination for her. It's all about her path to the nomination. A possible assassination of Senator Obama. Yep. This is what it's come down to.
Coupled with the well-known, ridiculous and dangerous rumors about Senator Obama, invoking an assassination attempt against him represents a new and ghoulish low for already bottom-feeding campaign.
To date, the Clinton campaign has exploited every despicable tactic and mongered every fear. How much more embarrassment and desperation can she heap upon herself and her party?
Hopefully, not much more.
It's time to go, Hillary. You're losing your bearings, and clearly have begun to fixate on the myriad "bad things" that could theoretically happent to take Obama out of the race. It's becoming obsessive. It's becoming a sad circus act. And it's getting creepy. Stop before you completely destroy yourself.
Hillary gets called out by one of her own superdelegates:
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York Gov. David Paterson, a superdelegate who supports Hillary Rodham Clinton, said she's showing "a little desperation" and should give up her effort to count votes from renegade primaries in Michigan and Florida.
Paterson said Thursday that Clinton shouldn't derail the process by which the national Democratic Party stripped Michigan and Florida of their national convention delegates because they moved their primaries up to January in violation of party rules. The rules were agreed to by all the candidates, including Clinton, before she won the two January contests. Because of the violations, no candidates campaigned in either state and her rival Barack Obama took his name off Michigan's ballot.
"I would say at this point we're starting to see a little desperation on the part of a woman I still support and will support until she makes a different determination," Paterson told WAMC-FM radio. "Candidates have to be cautious in their zeal to win that they don't trample on the process."
I love the way the mainstream media (perhaps more correctly termed the "corporate media," gets an eyeful of the New York Times and suddenly, spins on a dime. Don't know if you caught Norah O'Donnell's act tonight on MSNBC, but she was spinning out of control, walking back from weeks of political race-baiting during her ever stranger primary night impersonation of Frank Luntz (this week in a black cocktail dress and way too formal necklace, no less...) Suddenly, after apparently reading this piece in the New York Times (as it seems everybody in punditland did today,) she discovers that wait! West Virginia white voters aren't RACIST ... they're REPUBLICANS!
So what did the Times say that has so many pundit heads exploding?
...Consider the media shorthand for both Kentucky and West Virginia, where Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama by huge margins. These are hard-working, real Americans, the Clinton camp says, and a Democrat can’t win without them.
In fact, both West Virginia and Kentucky have gone against the national tide of the last 8 years and have been trending Republican. Also – and this needs to be said – a significant percentage of the voters in both those states have now indicated that they may not vote for a fellow Democrat simply because he’s black.
Pollsters know that people lie about race; voters rarely come out and say they will not vote for someone because he’s black. Instead, they say things like we’re hearing from West Virginia and Kentucky – that “race is a factor.”
In Kentucky, over 25 percent of Clinton supporters said race was a factor in their vote – about five times the national average for such a question. Clinton, if she really wanted to do something lasting, could ask her supporters why the color of a fellow Democrat’s skin is so important to their vote.
Now, consider the argument that a Democrat needs these states. In 2000, George Bush won West Virginia 52 to 46 percent. Four years later, he’d increased his margin to 56-43.
In Kentucky, Bush won 57-41 in 2000, and padded that to 60-40 four years later.
Appalachia, we now know, is Clinton’s heartland – but it does not resemble the Democratic landscape. If these are Democratic states, there’s some strange serum in the local brew at party headquarters.
On to Oregon, where Obama won by double digits. A bunch of chai tea sipping elitists, with zero body fat, living in hip lofts while working at Nike, yes? No. Well, they do like running, and tea. Oregon is one of the nation’s whitest states – just under 2 percent of residents are black – but rich it is not. The state is below the national average in both per capita income and median household income.
This suggests that Obama doesn’t have a white working class problem so much as a regional problem, in a place where Democrats won’t win anyway. ...
Now think ... how many times this afternoon and tonight did you hear a cable talker use the phrase, "Obama doesn't have a white working class problem, he's got a regional problem...?" I'll count them for you: Norah O, David Gregory, Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann are just four of the analysts who came up with that ephiphany tonight.
Do tell. You mean the third of white voters who indicated THEMSELVES that they are in actuality, McCain voters just participating in the Democratic primary to vote down the black guy won't vote for Barack in the fall any more than they supported him in the spring? REALLY? And Hillary, after all her pandering and stroking "hard working white folk" may not be turning out white Democrats, but rather, McCain voters, in the primary?
Well I'll be a unicorn's horse shoe.
And white people who aren't self-described racists WILL vote for Obama, even though he isn't entirely white? But ... if the media can't keep obsessing over racial voting ... I suppose we'll just have to hear about CLASS and REGIONAL voting bias FOR THE REST OF THE CAMPAIGN...
"In Florida, you learned the hard way what happens when your votes aren't counted and the candidate with fewer votes is declared the winner," she said. "The lesson of 2000 here in Florida is crystal clear: if any votes aren't count, the will of the people isn't realized and our democracy is diminished."
Clinton, at times sounding like a modern history professor, praised the abolitionists, suffragettes and civil rights pioneers and talked about her own efforts to fight legislative redistricting and voter identification initiatives that she said dilute minority voting power.
"This work to extend the franchise to all of our citizens is a core mission of the modern Democratic party," she said. "From signing the Voting Rights Act and fighting racial discrimination at the ballot box to lowering the voting age so those old enough to fight and die in war would have the right to choose their commander in chief, to fighting for multi-lingual ballots so you can make your voice heard no matter what language you speak."
Yes, yes, and the Democratic primary is just like World War I and World War II and the American Revolution and you're exactly like Lady MacBeth ...! ... okay you might not want to use that last part...
A tale of two campaigns: rumble in the sunshine state
A day after John McCain held his panderfest at the Versailles restaurant in Miami (for those not from South Florida, Versailles is where the old Cuban heads hang out and kvetch about Fidel Castro, and how they coulda, shoulda, and woulda deposed him if not for those darned Kennedys...) Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama barnstormed Florida today, and with very, very different vibes. First, Mrs. Clinton:
She spoke to about 800 "seasoned folk" at the Century Village retirement complex in Boca. An unfortunate paragraph from the Sun-Sentinel article:
Clinton added a new wrinkle to her argument: Not only should Florida's vote count - but all of the state's 210 delegates should be seated according to the results that gave her a 17-percentage point victory.
Did they have to mention wrinkles???
Meanwhile, Barack Obama spoke to the LARGEST CROWD EVER in the state, in of all places, Republican-leaning Tampa. The Miami Herald's Beth Reinhard does the honors:
How does a presidential candidate make up for snubbing, disparaging and being downright rude to the nation's largest battleground state for nine long months? If you're Barack Obama, you do it with the largest campaign event ever in the state of Florida -- a sold-out rally at a hockey arena with more than 15,000 people.
''It's good to be back in Florida,'' Obama told the rowdy crowd, which didn't want to sit down or shut up. ``I know you guys have been holding down the fort.''
Hey, Beth, what's with the snubbing and disparaging? I don't remember Barack doing any of that...
Anyhoo, the contrast, you might say, is striking.
And look for Barack to beat the Tampa crowd record when he comes to Broward on Friday. The BankAtlantic Center arena in Sunrise holds more than 20,000 people.
Is Geraldine Ferraro the angriest broad in America? Yes, yes yes yes yes. Appearing on "Today" this morning, Gerry reiterated just how terribly sexist Barack Obama and the media and everybody else who won't Hillary Clinton be the nominee without winning enough pledged delegates is.
If this is what menopause looks like, count me out.
Both the New York Times and Washington Post have stories today about the dejection and bitterness engulfing some Hillary Clinton supporters who saw her candidacy as a triumph of feminism, and now see its defeat as evidence of the scourge of sexism.
“Women felt this was their time, and this has been stolen from them,” said Marilu Sochor, 48, a real estate agent in Columbus, Ohio, and a Clinton supporter. “Sexism has played a really big role in the race.”
Not everyone agrees. “When people look at the arc of the campaign, it will be seen that being a woman, in the end, was not a detriment and if anything it was a help to her,” the presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said in an interview. Mrs. Clinton’s campaign is faltering, she added, because of “strategic, tactical things that have nothing to do with her being a woman.”
As a former first lady whose political career evolved from her husband’s, Mrs. Clinton was always an imperfect test case for female achievement — “somebody’s wife,” as Elaine Kamarck, a professor of government at Harvard and a Clinton supporter, described her.
Still, many credit Mrs. Clinton with laying down a new marker for what a woman can accomplish in a campaign — raising over $170 million, frequently winning more favorable reviews on debate performances than her male rivals, rallying older women, and persuading white male voters who were never expected to support her.
“She’s raised this whole woman candidate thing to a whole different level than when I ran,” said Geraldine Ferraro, a Clinton supporter and the first woman to be the vice-presidential nominee of a major party, contrasting her own brief stint as a running mate in 1984 with Mrs. Clinton’s 17-month-and-counting slog.
Ms. Goodwin and others say Mrs. Clinton was able to convert the sexism she faced on the trail into votes and donations, extending the life of a candidacy that suffered a serious blow at the Iowa caucuses. Like so many women before, she was heckled (in New Hampshire, a few men told her to iron their shirts) and called nasty names (“How do we beat the bitch?” Senator John McCain was asked at one campaign event).
But the response may have been more powerful than the injury. In the days after Mrs. Clinton was criticized for misting up on the campaign trail, she won the New Hampshire primary and drew a wave of donations, many from women expressing indignation about how she had been treated.
And Mrs. Clinton seemed to channel the lives of regular women, who often saw her as an avenging angel. Take Judith Henry, 67, for whom Mrs. Clinton’s primary losses stirred decades-old memories of working at a phone company where women were not allowed to hold management positions. “They always gave us the clerical jobs and told us we didn’t have families to support,” she said. At a rally last month in Bloomington, Ind., she sat with her daughter Susan Henry, 45, a warehouse worker, who complained that her male colleagues did less work and made more money than the women did.
Decades after the dissolution of movement feminism, Mrs. Clinton’s events and donor lists filled with women who had experienced insult or isolation on the job. Moitri Chowdhury Savard, 36, a doctor in Queens, was once asked by a supervisor why she was not home cooking for her husband; Liz Kuoppala, 37, of Eveleth, Minn., worked as the only woman in her mining crew and is now the only woman on the City Council.
Ms. Kamarck, 57, the Harvard professor and a longtime adviser to Democratic candidates, said she was still incredulous about the time her colleagues on Walter F. Mondale’s presidential campaign, all men, left for lunch without inviting her — because, she later discovered, they were headed to a strip club.
In that piece, Geraldine Ferraro, perhaps the most bitter woman I've ever witnessed in public life, indicates that she might not vote for Barack in the fall:
Some even accuse Mr. Obama of chauvinism, pointing to the time he called Mrs. Clinton “likeable enough” as evidence of dismissiveness. Nancy Wait, 55, a social worker in Columbia City, Ind., said Mr. Obama was far less qualified than Mrs. Clinton and described as condescending his recent assurances that Mrs. Clinton should stay in the race as long as she liked. Ms. Wait said she would “absolutely, positively not” vote for him come fall.
Ms. Ferraro, who clashed with the Obama campaign about whether she made a racially offensive remark, said she might not either. “I think Obama was terribly sexist,” she said.
Cynthia Ruccia, 55, a sales director for Mary Kay cosmetics in Columbus, Ohio, is organizing a group, Clinton Supporters Count Too, of mostly women in swing states who plan to campaign against Mr. Obama in November. “We, the most loyal constituency, are being told to sit down, shut up and get to the back of the bus,” she said.
The "likable enough" comment comes up in the WaPo article too:
Lifelong Democrat Kathleen Cowley watches with disdain as huge crowds hang on Sen. Barack Obama's every word. She dismisses Obama's "intolerable logic." She turns the channel on pundits who chalk up Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's primary victories to little more than racism. And she doesn't much care for the notion that while Obama is fresh and inspiring, Clinton is, by implication, old and mean.
"There's just been an attitude that if you aren't voting for Barack Obama, then you're a racist," said Cowley, 49, a mother of four from Massachusetts who has vowed to never back the senator from Illinois. "I just find that intolerable. I feel like when the members of the media talk about how [Obama's supporters] would react, they say, 'Well, we can't take the vote away from African Americans.' Well, excuse me, there's a higher percentage of women."
A Democratic race that a couple of months ago was celebrated as a march toward history -- the chance to nominate the nation's first woman or African American as a major-party candidate -- threatens to leave lingering bitterness, especially among Clinton supporters, whose candidate is running out of ways to win.
Some women, like Cowley, complain that Clinton has been disrespected and mistreated by the media and the political establishment. Many see Obama as equally condescending, dismissing Clinton's foreign policy role as first lady, pulling out her chair for her at debates and suggesting offhand during one debate that she was "likable enough."
"The sexist crap that comes out of people's mouths is really scary to me," said Amilyn Lanning, 38, a Zionsville, Pa., voter who supported Clinton in last month's primary. "There's a lot of the b-word being thrown about, even in jest by comedians. There's a lot of comments made about her pantsuits, and the way she dresses. There's a viciousness."
The Washington Post piece points out that the bitterness over the campaign runs both ways, with African-Americans resenting HRC's camp as much as some of her older white women resent him.
Odds are, most of Hillary's millions will return to the Democrats come November. It's hard to imagine these same feminists, for whom gender was so central to the campaign, rolling up their sleeves and voting for an old, white man who opposes abortion, for president. Wouldn't that be affirming everything they claim to oppose?
Meanwhile, the Clinton Agonistes are causing one hell of a schizm at NARAL:
With the clock running down on a long-fought primary, NARAL Pro-Choice America leaders sent state affiliates reeling this week by endorsing Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. It was seen as a gratuitous slap in the face to a longtime ally, and it sparked a fear even closer to home: that the move will alienate donors loyal to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
Many on this week’s conference call were stunned on learning the news, making urgent pleas for the group to remain neutral until after the June 3 Democratic primaries.
“It’s created a firestorm,” said NARAL Pro-Choice New York President Kelli Conlin, who was on the conference call. “Everyone was mystified ... saying, ‘What is the upside for the organization? And, frankly, [there was] a lot of concern about the donor base. ... There was real concern there would be a backlash.” There was a backlash, and it was swift, starting with NARAL’s own website. At last count, there were more than 3,300 comments in an electronic chat about the endorsement, the overwhelming majority of them negative. “Shame shame shame!” read one, with many correspondents threatening never to support NARAL financially again. “No more donations from me!!!” wrote another.
In Washington, two dozen women members of Congress who support Clinton held a quickly organized press conference to tout her abortion-rights record Wednesday night. Ellen Malcolm, founder of the abortion-rights women’s fundraising group EMILY’s List, sharply rebuked NARAL for its endorsement. Two former members of Congress (and Clinton supporters) — Geraldine Ferraro and Pat Schroeder — jabbed at NARAL for endorsing before the general election. “Looks like some higher ups at NARAL are trying to get jobs in the new administration ... nothing else makes sense to us,” they wrote in a joint letter.
Candidates never welcome outside groups. John Kerry's campaign probably couldn't stand America Coming Together (which I worked for in 2004), and George W. Bush probably didn't appreciate the Swift Boat Veterans for ... ok, scratch that last one. The problem: outside groups, or 527s, are free to craft their own message and spend lots of money promoting it, even if that message conflicts with the strategy of the campaign. Of course, 527s can be hellafied useful, especially in doing the nasty work of negative advertising that sometimes candidates are loathe to do.
That said, I would be surprised if Barack Obama didn't face a head-on assault from right wing 527s this fall, particularly since all the big money on the GOP side appears to be holding back, not pouring into John McCain's or the House and Senate campaign committee's coffers. And yet, Obama has succeeded, at least so far, in crushing outside group efforts, directly telling his top donors, and small potential ones, too, I can tell you from direct experience, not to fund anything outside the main campaign. So far, his effort appears to have choked off the David Brock-led nascent effort, and expect others to have a hard time raising money too. Besides, the main engines behind Democratic 527s are Clintonites -- people like Emily's List founder Ellen Malcolm (who also ran ACT), Harold Ickes (our then money man). They are highly unlikely to mount a serious effort on Obama's behalf, particularly if he is already discouraging it.
Meanwhile, women's groups are staging a mass tantrum over NARAL's decision to endorse Barack. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and others are calling the national organization's decision to endorse before the end of the primary season a "betrayal." And a new group has emerged that could become a thorn in Barack's side this summer:
An Ohio-based group of Democratic Hillary Clinton supporters say they’ll work actively against Sen. Barack Obama if he becomes the nominee, arguing that Clinton has been the subject of “intense sexism” by party leaders and the media.
Led by Boomer-aged women, the group, Clinton Supporters Count Too, is holding a press conference in Columbus at noon to release this statement.
Organizers Cynthia Ruccia, 55, and Jamie Dixey, 57, both from the Columbus area, say they’re coordinating women, men, minorities, union members and others in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan – all important swing states next November – to impress upon Democratic party leaders what they think has been outright discrimination – and not of the racial kind.
“We have been vigilant against expressions of racism, and we are thrilled that the society has advanced that way” in accepting Obama as a serious candidate,” Ruccia said. “But it’s been open season on women, and we feel we need to stand up and make a statement about that, because it’s wrong.”
With growing calls for Clinton to leave the race, she said, women feel like “we’re being told to sit down, shut up, and get with the program.”
They're doing O'Reiily's show tonight, according to Ben Smith at Politico.
And meanwhile again, at least one observer is betting that the only way to appease Hillary's angry hoarde of white women over 50, will be to put her on the ticket, whether Barack Obama likes it or not... the premise: at the end of the race, Hillary will need only 19% of superdelegates to go her way at the convention, to get her way at the convention...
Can you imagine how hard it was for most of these super delegates to turn down the former president of the United States? It was tough enough turning Hillary down, but their former boss, political godfather, and personal friend? I've talked to many of them; trust me it was for most the hardest thing they have ever had to do in their political lives.
Just consider for a moment the final phone call with Bill Clinton when the super delegate had to tell him he or she had decided to go with Obama. Clinton," It's time to make a decision. Hillary needs you and I need you. We've been through a lot together. When you needed me I was there, now we need you".
Super delegate, "Mr. President, this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but I'm going with Obama because (whatever). Ask me for anything else Mr. President, but I've got to do this". Clinton, "I'm very disappointed and personally hurt, but do what you think you have to do. So long."
Now imagine its June 4th and Clinton calls again. Clinton, "I know Obama has enough votes to win, but I wanted you to know Hillary has decided to run for vice president at the convention. You know there are two roll call votes at the convention: first president then for vice president. I know you are voting for Obama for president. Fine, but I want your commitment to vote for Hillary for vice president."
You imagine being on the floor in Denver. Hillary's delegates, NEARLY HALF THE DELEGATES, are demanding she be on the ticket. These are true believers who have stuck with Clinton through thick and thin. To them, putting Hillary on the ticket is a crusade.
Most Clinton delegates are women, most Democratic voters are women, and they're going to just accept some middle aged white governor that Obama is rumored to want? No way. They are in your face. Hillary supporters from back home are jamming your Blackberry. This and more horror scenes flash through your mind in a nano second.
Then it occurs to you; if the roles were reversed and Obama came close to winning and wanted to be the vice presidential candidate, could you imagine the convention saying no?
Clinton," If we get your commitment now (we've already got a bunch of Obama super delegates to support her) we don't have to take a vote or fight in Denver. With Hillary's pledged delegates and a hundred or so super delegates we'll be over 2026 before the end of June. Saves Barack the hassle of picking a running mate and we can be united against McCain on day one."
Are you going to tell the former president of the United States no again? Anyway you convince yourself it's a great ticket and will help Obama in those big swing states. "I'm with you Mr. President". Clinton," I knew I could count on you". You want to bet there aren't 20% of the super delegates who would buy this deal? We're talking super delegates here, not profiles in courage.
If Hillary Clinton wants the vice presidential nomination, and her loyal delegates demand it, and the Clinton machine puts its full weight behind it, she will be on the
This could all mean nothing if Obama is determined enough not to pick her, and cuts a deal before Denver that gives her something she wants, in exchange for her standing down on both the nomination and the vice presidency. And it assumes she wants the vice presidency (which I think she does at this point ... and badly.)
Still, odds are he picks "some middle aged white man," and white women are left steaming.
Then, it's on Barack and Barack alone -- no 527s, remember -- to win them back.
Not forcing you to watch Hillary Clinton's speech again (assuming you did the first time around), but you've got to check it out for just a few minutes. When you do, watch the guy in the yellow shirt on the bottom right corner of your screen. You can't miss him. He's about the only Black guy in West Virginia the room. Maybe it's me, but does he look ... kind of high? He keeps rocking back and forward, and at one point, starts yelling Barack Obama's campaign theme ("yes we can! Yes we can!) And sorry, but he just looks out of place among Hillary's demographic of hard working white Americans. I'm thinking somebody on the advance team spotted this guy in the building, and gave him $20 bucks to stand within camera shot of Mrs. Clinton. Watch for yourself:
While there is racism present to varying levels in every state, what makes WV different is that there is not a presence of a large AA community who will enthusiastically balance out that vote like there are in other states. Add to it that WV is a Hillary Clinton kind of state- lots of blue-collar union types who are comfortable working with and voting the party machine. As the Clinton’s are an established name, the Clinton’s are viewed as the party candidate.
Again, I am not claiming a refusal to vote for Obama makes one racist. I am claiming that, in WV, at least, there will be a number of people who refuse to vote for him because they are in fact racist. That isn’t a smear, that is just the truth. If you can not deal with it, well, that is on you. It is also why people like me have been frequently upset throughout this campaign when we have seen what we perceive to be dogwhistles coming from the Clinton camp. Whipping up this sort of sentiment is, in my book, inexcusable.
So there was Hillary tonight, giving a defiant speech and insisting that, with certain niceties toward Obama, she's going on and going forward (Terry McAuliffe nearly burst a blood vessel arguing with Chris Matthews on this point, with Matthews trying to get him to understand that the media doesn't want her to quit, the media wants a contested convention...)
BTW, apparently, Hillary didn't take Barack's concession phone call tonight. He left a message.
MSNBC has been running the clips of "Saturday Night Live's" skewering of Hillary Clinton this weekend, and once again, the show is being credited by the MSM with being on the cutting edge of political satire. Well, while I found this week's opener to be both funny and on point, I'm having a hard time giving SNL much credit for "edge." I mean, how much courage does it take to suck up to the Senator from your home state when she's still viable, and then to kick her when she's already clearly on the ground? It's like kicking an unconscious guy that somebody else knocked out. SNL was conveniently on hiatus for at least the last three weeks -- the crucial weeks during which the remaining air seeped out of Hillary's campaign balloon. So after sitting out everything from the NC, Indiana skids to the race-baiting USA Today comments, SNL snarks that ... surprise! ... Hillary is losing ugly? Well knock me out with a bowling ball...
BTW, in other SNL news, Jimmy Fallon is moving up to the big boy chair, taking over the desk at "Late Night," next year when Conan O'Brien gets the daddy seat: "The Tonight Show." I watch none of them, but don't go by me...
You may have read the accounts about the tendency of "Saturday Night Live" producers to be pro-Hillary, as evidenced by donations to her campaign, and several skits portraying Obama as either media pampered or freaked out and incompetent. The candidate herself seemed to enjoy a kinship with the SNL cast, even appearing on the show alongside Amy Poehler, the actress who portrays her. Any bias (which the show's staffers vigorously denied,) could stem from the fact that the show originates from New York City -- purportedly Hillary's home base (if you're not counting Scranton, Chappaqua, Arkansas, Illinois and Washington D.C.) Well for now, the debate is moot, because it appears that SNL has jumped way off the bandwagon (or the producers are trying to prove they're really not HilBots...) This week's opening skit, the first in a while since SNL has been conveniently in hiatus as the news cycle turned grim for Senator Clinton, was what you call and old fashioned skewering. Cliffs Notes version: "I'm Hillary Clinton; I'm a sore loser and my supporters are racists." Watch:
The Daily Kos posts an excellent summary of the backlash building online against Hillary's comments, summed up brilliantly by Mike Barnacle in what could be Hil's new campaign slogan: "Vote White." But one question that's not being asked, at least so far, is where are Hillary's black supporters, particularly the elected officials, on this issue? So far, I haven't heard a peep.
That one's developing...
But I also wonder whether Hillary's comments will be put through the same media wringer that Rev. Wright's sermon snippets were fed into. Will the MSM react with the same obsessive-compulsive zeal, when this time, it isn't someone the candidate knows, but the candidate herself, who has uttered the unpleasant words? I remain prepared to be pleasantly surprised.
Who, exactly, are the Hillocrats, half of whom said in the exit polls from North Carolina and Indiana that, if she loses the nomination, they will stay home or vote for McCain?
They are white, working- and middle-class, Catholic, small-town, rural, unionized, middle-age and seniors, and surviving on less than $50,000 a year. They are the people most belittled by the condescending commentary of Barack behind closed doors out at Sodom on the Bay.
"You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, (where) the jobs have been gone now for 25 years. ... And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
In 40 years, two Democrats have won the presidency, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and both did so only after connecting with these folks.
People forget. In 1976, Carter ran as a Naval Academy grad and nuclear engineer, a born-again Baptist and peanut farmer from Plains, Ga., who, in Philadelphia, talked about preserving the "ethnic purity" of the neighborhoods. Clinton first ran as a death-penalty Democrat.
It was Ronald Reagan who cemented the GOP hold of these Nixon-Agnew New Majority Democrats, who are now headed back home. ...
And Pat has this advice for his former party:
Keep an eye on West Virginia. The votes Hillary gets, and the way she gets them, may provide a road map for how the GOP can hold the White House this fall, if they are not too squeamish to follow it.
... The Democratic Party can't celebrate the triumph of Barack Obama because the Democratic Party is busy having a breakdown. You could call it a breakdown over the issues of race and gender, but its real source is simply Hillary Clinton. Whose entire campaign at this point is about exploiting race and gender.
Here's the first place an outsider could see the tensions that have taken hold: on CNN Tuesday night, in the famous Brazile-Begala smackdown. Paul Begala wore the smile of the 1990s, the one in which there is no connection between the shape of the mouth and what the mouth says. All is mask. Donna Brazile was having none of it.
Mr. Begala more or less accused the Obama people of not caring about white voters: "[If] there's a new Democratic Party that somehow doesn't need or want white working-class people and Latinos, well, count me out." And: "We cannot win with eggheads and African Americans." That, he said, was the old, losing, Dukakis coalition.
"Paul, baby," Ms. Brazile, who is undeclared, began her response, "we need to not divide and polarize the Democratic Party. . . . So stop the divisions. Stop trying to split us into these groups, Paul, because you and I know . . . how Democrats win, and to simply suggest that Hillary's coalition is better than Obama's, Obama's is better than Hillary's -- no. We have a big party, Paul." And: "Just don't divide me and tell me I cannot stand in Hillary's camp because I'm black, and I can't stand in Obama's camp because I'm female. Because I'm both. . . . Don't start with me, baby." Finally: "It's our party, Paul. Don't say my party. It's our party. Because it's time that we bring the party back together, Paul."
In case you didn't get what was behind that exchange, Mrs. Clinton spent this week making it clear. In a jaw-dropping interview in USA Today on Thursday, she said, "I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on." As evidence she cited an Associated Press report that, she said, "found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."
White Americans? Hard-working white Americans? "Even Richard Nixon didn't say white," an Obama supporter said, "even with the Southern strategy."
If John McCain said, "I got the white vote, baby!" his candidacy would be over. And rising in highest indignation against him would be the old Democratic Party.
To play the race card as Mrs. Clinton has, to highlight and encourage a sense that we are crudely divided as a nation, to make your argument a brute and cynical "the black guy can't win but the white girl can" is -- well, so vulgar, so cynical, so cold, that once again a Clinton is making us turn off the television in case the children walk by.
"She has unleashed the gates of hell," a longtime party leader told me. "She's saying, 'He's not one of us.'"
She is trying to take Obama down in a new way, but also within a new context. In the past he was just the competitor. She could say, "All's fair." But now he's the competitor who is going to be the nominee of his party. And she is still trying to do him in. And the party is watching. ...
Meanwhile, Peggy's home paper gleefuly ruminates on the impending Clinton-Democratic Party divorce:
Like all divorces after lengthy unions, this one is painful and has had its moments of reconciliation, but after Tuesday a split looks inevitable. The long co-dependency is over.
Truth be told, this was always a marriage more of convenience than love. The party's progressives never did like Bill Clinton's New Democrat ways, but after Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis they needed his epic political gifts to win back the White House. They hated him for their loss of Congress in 1994, but they tolerated Dick Morris and welfare reform to keep the presidency in 1996. ...
Then a bunch of drivel trying to justify the Starr investigations, Monica, blah blah blah... continuing:
Slowly but surely, these Prisoners of Bill and Hill are now walking away, urging Mrs. Clinton to leave the race. Chuck Schumer damns her with faint support by saying any decision is up to her. Columnists from the New York Times, which endorsed her when she looked inevitable, now demand that she exit so as not to help John McCain. With Mr. Obama to ride, they no longer need the Arkansas interlopers.
If the Clintons play to their historic form, they will ignore all this for as long as they can. They will fight on, hoping that something else turns up about Mr. Obama before the convention. Or they'll try to play the Michigan and Florida cards. Or they'll unleash Harold Ickes on the superdelegates and suggest that if Mr. Obama loses in November she'll be back in 2012 and her revenge will be, well, Clintonian.
The difference between now and the 1990s, however, is that this time the Clinton foes aren't the "vast right-wing conspiracy." This time the conspirators are fellow Democrats. It took 10 years, but you might say Democrats have finally voted to impeach.
Not quite, Journalistas. Don't lick your chops THAT much. We Dems who have fallen out of love with the Clintons haven't suddenly seen the light on Whitewater. That, dears, was the dumbest, most useless waste of investigative effort and taxpayer money in history (not counting Iraq.) What we dislike about the Clintons is what we used to like about them, however: their never-say-die tenacity, and willingness to do just about anything to win, even if that means reviving the party's racist past. On that, there has indeed been a turnaround.
If George Stephanopoulos is right, and Camp Hillary is looking to force her on Barack Obama as his runningmate, the following comments should be classified "most unhelpful"...
"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."
"There's a pattern emerging here," she said.
Clinton's blunt remarks about race came a day after primaries in Indiana and North Carolina dealt symbolic and mathematical blows to her White House ambitions.
So it's the white vote, huh? Want the audio to go with it?
With the handwriting all over the wall, Hillary Clinton must be in a mental whirlwind today. Publicly, she's still in the race, but to paraphrase Keith Olbermann last night, the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse has happened; the war is over. The skirmishes that follow are just the messy aftermath. So how (and more importantly when) will Hillary bow out?
ABC tapped its inside source, supposed journalist and former Clinton staffer George "All Ayers and Flag Pins" Stephanopoulos, who was quizzed by his Get Barack tag team partner, Charlie "People Used to Have Respect for Me" Gibson...
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: There are various exit strategies right now. Number one would be, go out on a win. So, stay in until West Virginia, where Sen. Clinton is likely the winner, and Kentucky on May 20, and after that, bow out. Two, negotiate for the imposition of Michigan and Florida, to get those delegations seated, declare victory on that, and get out. But the big one, Charlie — and this is what some people close to the Clintons are talking about: Is there a way to negotiate a settlement with Barack Obama to have Sen. Clinton on the ticket?
CHARLES GIBSON: And what do they think?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: It's hard to know. I mean, first of all, would Sen. Obama go for it? Can he get over the bitterness of this campaign? Can he be convinced that it's the strongest ticket? Third, of course, would Sen. Clinton take it? I think if it was offered in the right way, yes.
Make that, "Hell Yes." But I rather doubt she'll be tapped. First off, Barack Obama is running his entire race on "changing the nature of politics," and nothing says "old politics" like the Clintons, who have run a scorched earth campaign more reminiscent of Nixon in 1960 or something out of Lee Atwater's wet dreams than anything that could be called "the new politics." In fact, Hillary has made a point of saying that there is no new politics, and that Barack must learn to play the old game.
Second, the bitterness between these two, and between their staffs may or may not be insurmountable, but their working styles likely are. A veep candidate Hillary would probably want to serve as Obama's attack dog, along with the former president, but Barack isn't having that, and wouldn't want that kind of thing inside his campaign. Also, there's a major question about whether or not he could trust her. Third, Barack's team seems confident that they can win over most of her supporters, without her. At best, Hillary might be able to get one of her close associates, say, Wes Clark, on Obama's short list.
Still, Stephanopoulos is pushing the story that Camp Hillary is raising the issue with the Obama team.
The creeping signs of a superdelegate crack-up for Hillary Clinton are in the air. One of her most prominent supporters, Sen. Diane Feinstein of California, is asking the Clinton campaign to explain just how they think they can still win the nomination...
“I, as you know, have great fondness and great respect for Sen. Clinton and I’m very loyal to her,” Feinstein said. “Having said that, I’d like to talk with her and [get] her view on the rest of the race and what the strategy is.”
Clinton, who eked out a win in Indiana Tuesday night but lost big to front-runner Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) in North Carolina, has not responded to Feinstein’s phone call, the California senator said.
“I think the race is reaching the point now where there are negative dividends from it, in terms of strife within the party,” Feinstein said. “I think we need to prevent that as much as we can.”
Tuesday night’s results are widely viewed as a blow to Clinton’s hopes after she failed to deliver a “game-changing” performance. Instead, Obama extended his leads among delegates and popular votes.
Feinstein stressed that Clinton is not an “also-run candidate,” but added that there is a question “as to whether she can get the delegates that she needs. I’d like to see what the strategy is and then we can talk further.”
The article quotes several other Senators and makes it clear that the abundance of caution continues among the supers, but slowly but surely, they seem to be trying to get Mrs. Clinton to glimpse the writing on the wall.
The undeclared Democratic superdelegates are either overly cautious, or really terrified of the Clintons. What additional information do they need after last night (really, since February,) to make a decision on who to support? Do they really intend to wait until the last contest in Puerto Rico, which mathematically cannot change the result? Makes you wonder, if the situation were reversed, and Hillary Clinton held an unsurmountable delegate and popular vote lead, if the supers would remain on the sidelines for so long. Team Obama is working on pushing them toward the inevitable conclusion. His memo to the supers today reads in part:
At some point – we would argue that time is now – this ceases to be a theoretical exercise about how superdelegates view electability. The reality of the preferences in the last several weeks offer a clear guide of how strongly superdelegates feel Senator Obama will perform in November, both in building a winning campaign for the presidency as well as providing the best electoral climate across the country for all Democratic candidates.
It is important to note that Senator Obama leads Senator Clinton in superdelegate endorsements among Governors, United States Senators and members of the House of Representatives. These elected officials all have a keen sense for who our strongest nominee will be in November.
It is only among D.N.C. members where Senator Clinton holds a lead, which has been rapidly dwindling.
But Hillary Clinton is pressing on. Her team held a conference call with reporters this morning in which they continued to pound away at the theme that Barack Obama is not electable ... except against her... Hil barely edged out Barack in Indiana, a state she should have won by 10 points. And despite the fact that she loaned her campaign another $6 million last month, just to stay in the game, Hil apparently will continue to press donors and super delegates for support. She's even added West Virginia stops to her schedule, not that it matters anymore.
I think Team Clinton will continue to give the appearance of running a vigorous campaign, but she will soon run out of cash, and the media will run out of interest. Perhaps she's playing for a spot on the ticket, and if that's the case, she should think twice about attacking the presumptive nominee.
I say let Hillary continue to run, so long as she's not hurting her party's candidate. Her run keeps her supporters from hurting themselves or others, and it allows the Dems to stretch out their campaign operations to the full 50 states (well, 48.)
If Hillary Clinton winds up losing Indiana tonight (or this morning) -- which could very well happen with much of Gary, Indiana still to come in and a margin of around 20,000 -- the irony for her and her husband will be that the deciding margin will be black voters in that city, and in Lake County. Bill Clinton made his national reputation by making black voters fall in love with him. As his wife's chief surrogate during this campaign, he led her in a renunciation of the black vote that was so thorough, so definitive, and so grotesque, it was stunning, not least of which to black America. Now, as their campaign draws to a close, it appears that it will be the black vote that ultimately did Hillary in. Payback really is a bitch.
200,000 votes still out in Indiana, and Chuck Todd says it's mostly in Lake County, which is heavily African-American and heavily pro-Obama. Barack needs more than 60 percent of the vote to take the state from Hillary ...
West Virginia, Oregon and the like don't matter. Actually, neither does Indiana, to be blunt about it. Hillary Clinton's campaign is done. It's all over but the dragging out of the room and the kicking and the screaming...
Tomorrow, Hillary will be making some tough decisions. She's deep in debt, she's out of gas on pledged delegates, and even if the party did count Michigan and Florida, she can't win. Lisa Caputo, Hillary's spokeswoman on MSNBC tonight sounded like a neutral analyst, not a Clintonite. This thing is done (face it, Rachel Maddow.) It would be political suicide for Hillary to keep attacking Barack. She'll try to win concessions on the outstanding states, and piddle her way to the convention. What other choice does she have?
Going forward, Barack can essentially tune Hillary out, though he made it clear tonight that he will immediately begin a raprochment with her supporters. He can and should focus on John McCain.
The question of a joint ticket has been raised again, but in all honesty, Hillary may not be the asset to Obama that she seems to be today. There are as many reasons to reject her as there are to take her on board. Barack might do just as well to pick a white guy from the West (and seal Colorado and Nevada, forgetting Florida this time.)
Another question will be what to do with Bill Clinton at the convention. As a former president, and the only two-term Democratic president in modern memory, he has to be given a slot. But now that he has traded in his immense popularity with Black voters for extreme Bubbary, and a singular appeal to white voters who, how to say, aren't keen on electing a black guy, what does he say? Can he and Hillary turn in a performance that undoes the damage they have done during the campaign? And don't you have to put them both on in prime time?
Did Hillary Clinton and I watch the same returns tonight? Probably not, given that her camp has probably banned MSNBC (except for HRC-friendly "Scarborough Country,") in favor of her newfound friends at Fox News. Fox (and CBS) have definitively called Indiana for Hillary, though her lead is down to less than 40,000 votes with 200,000 or so outstanding. NBC/MSNBC remains the loan holdout, but if their instincts turn out to be right, Hillary might regret opening her surreal speech tonight with "we broke the tie," and "now it's full steam ahead, on to the White House!"
Not the speech I was expecting. Not that I thought she'd concede. Never that. But tonight was perhaps Hillary's last best chance to leave Democratic voters not already in her camp with a positive impression of her. She should have reached for inspiration, not politics. She should have gone for grace notes, not excuse-making ("we were out-spent five to one") and snidery (referring to Barack as "my opponent" instead of using his name.) Even her supporters' borrowed chant of "yes she will" sounds stilted (as does the chant "Hillary! Hillary!" next to the higher plane rhetoric of Obama's "yes WE can!" I don't think the speeches even come close to comparing. And while I'm biased, I used to be a Clintonista, and I know a good -- and a bad -- speech when I hear one.
Hil, this was a sucky speech.
Update: the pundits on MSNBC are focusing on the second half of HRC's speech, which they're describing as conciliatory. I suppose so, but I think the first part was such a misfire, it probably negated it. Her followers remain as angry as ever. I'm struck by just how angry they are, judging by their comments on posts like this one...
I think one big loser tonight is Evan Bayh, who may yet deliver Indiana, but Russert is hearing that it could be by 1,800 votes.
One of the reasons I love politics is that it is one of the few things in this modern life that has the genuine possibility to surprise. Tonight, that happened. Barack Obama appears to be headed for a blowout (15 points or so) in North Carolina; not unexpected given the fact that he has led by as many as 20 points in recent weeks. But Hillary Clinton's forecast parallel victory (10 points or so) in Indiana not only has not materialized, that race is now too close to call. It's down to 39,000 votes, with some 300,000 votes or more still outstanding, many of them in Obama territory in the northern part of the state, according to Chuck Todd at MSNBC.
Barack's victory speech tonight was a back to his core strength barn burner. (Note to my friend, Newton: you called it. Barack has gone back on message.) It was as inspiring a speech as I can imagine, hitting all the themes he needed: magnanimity for Hillary and her supporters, unity within the party and the country, a campaign, not about him, ("an imperfect messenger,") but about "you." He took a needed swipe at the media and the politics of distraction, and he said he "trusts the American people" to rise above it all, focusing instead on bettering the "country he loves." This was Barack's most substantive speech, even if it lacked detail, because it improved upon his previous loftiness by making him a man who cares about real people, in Indiana, in Iowa, in Pennsylvania, and in North Carolina. Even the gas tax issue, one on which I was critical of Barack's campaign for not hitting Hillary harder, Barack (and the much maligned "economists,")appear http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifto have won the day. Even in Indiana.
Hillary Clinton may wake up tomorrow having lost Indiana. Even if she squeaks through, she will have one hell of a time explaining what she's still doing in the race, other than mounting a vain attempt to take down the certain Democratic nominee.
This primary is effectively over, folks. (Sorry, Rush. I guess your listeners aren't as dumb as them seem...) Welcome to the general election.
No surprises in North Cahttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifrolina, which MSNBC (and the other nets) have just called for Barack. At this point, Barack is guaranteed at least a split, and because NC has more delegates on offer, the results in Indy just became less important. That said, exit polls suggest that HRC is pulling 60 percent of white women, 72 percent of voters 65 and older, and just 8 percent of the black vote. Barack is winning every age group under 65, according to Russert and Company. The nets have been reporting all day that turnout in both states is shattering records.
On the "old politics" front, Barack was reduced to downing Pabst at a NC bar today. Can the beat-up jeanhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifs jacket be far behind? Maybe he should start smoking again! And basketball ... lots and lots of basketball...
Update: Exit polls suggest Obama will get at least 36% of the white vote. Take that, Pat Buchanan. Essentially, the race is down to age and to a slightly lesser extent: gender. Barack, however, is getting more women, percentage-wise, than white voters. Bottom line: old-line Democrats who haven't caught up with the multiculturalism thing: Clinton. Modern Americans who don't commonly use the word "coloreds": Obama.
View the NC exit polls here, and the Indiana exits here.
In NC, it appears Barack has won a majority of men, women, churchgoers, voters with and without college degrees, high school graduates, all income levels except $50-75K, and voters who cared most about the economy. He carried conservatives, got 35% of the white vote and 56% of voters who said the candidate "caring about people" was most important (take that, Chris Matthews.) Hillary won gun owners, Republicans, white Democrats and Independents, by one point (46%-45%) because she carried white Independents. (BTW Rush, GOPers represented just 5% of the turnout in NC, and don't fool yourself into thinking most of them were your "Operation Chaos" lemmings.) Worse, 50 percent in NC said she is not trustworthy. Only 40 percent said she is, while 72% called Obama trustworthy.
In Indiana, Hillary barely edged Barack among men and even women (he got 47% according to exit polls.) The candidates split church attendees, though Hillary carried both Catholics and Protestants by about two-thirds margins. The Rev. Wright issue was very important to just 28% of Indiana voters, it turns out (sorry, MSNBC) and Hillary got 73% of those voters. Hillary's downscale voters returned to the fold in Indiana, but not overwhelmingly. She scored in the high 50s with these folks. Obama got the college educated crowd, which is significant for him, because turnout on the numerous campuses in Indiana is said to have been heavy.
We're waiting for the call, which I would expect to be for Hillary, thought not by double digits.
Most important of all, I think, just 15% and 17% of voters in the two primaries said they would prefer John McCain in the fall if their candidate didn't win. |
It's time once again, to play "If I had a 527." This time, the subject is the phony gas tax holiday, for which Hillary Clinton has climbed aboard the "straight talk express" for a ride to fantasyland. She's even throwing the idea of consulting experts -- I think they're called economists -- under the bus in the service of her ambition. So what should Team Obama do? Maybe run a radio ad like this...
As I said in the Youtube notes, the old politics sucks, but sometimes, you've got to do what you've got to do. Barack should be tying Hillary Clinton to John McCain in every speech and every ad, in order to consolidate core Democrats. He should hit her squarely in the jaw on the gas tax, on the basis of it costing jobs, and he should belittle it -- directly, and without the high-minded rhetoric, the better to reach downscale voters.
I admire Barack Obama's desire to run a "different kind of campaign." Unfortunately, he and Hillary Clinton are playing by two sets of rules. (By the way, it's official: Bill Clinton has traded in his magic with Black voters for a new magic, with white, rural voters. He's THEIR Big Bill, now...)
Back to HRC and Barack. With her latest hypocrisies on trade, decrying the loss of jobs at an Indiana company called Magnaquench that her husband's trade policies helped to turn into yet another outsourcing wonder, you'd think the Obama campaign would fire off an ad or two. Well if they have, I haven't heard about it. And so far, there are no pro-Obama 527s in the water. Well what if there was? Or what if Hillary Clinton became the nominee, and the inevitable Republican 527s had a go at her on the trade issue. The result might be something like this:
The big day in Indiana and NC is tomorrow, and as usual, the polls tell us nothing.
Having worked in media since 1998, I have to tell you I haven't seen a concerted effort at a media takedown like the one heaped on Barack Obama by the Washington press corps and cable news talking heads since the Clinton impeachment fiasco. (Howard Kurtz tries to explain why the press corps turned on Obama in his WaPo column. The Cliffs Notes version: "Saturday Night Live." Pretty pathetic.) But over the weekend, a kindly blogger at the Huffpo and a writer at the New York Times had the decency to show us the numbers. Blogs Al Giiordano:
I turn on the TV, read the political columnists (and a significant number of analytically-challenged bloggers, too) and all I hear is a bunch of white folk prattling on about their favorite narrative: "Obama's losing white voters!"
They've swallowed the Clinton racially-obsessed spin, hook, line and sinker. Some, because they are gullible, haven't an original idea in their little pea brains, and follow the pack of what everybody else is talking about. Others, because they like to toss around knowing falsehoods. Nary a superdelegate can go on Fox News without being berated by an anchorperson screeching (this is pretty close to an exact quote): "But your duty as a superdelegate is to select the most electable and that's Hillary Clinton!" That these anchorpersons are Republican partisans openly cheering for Senator Clinton is our first clue of the game afoot. One of the major successes of Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos is that it has got all the right-wing pundits and reporters marching lockstep behind the effort to give Clinton enough oxygen to keep slashing away at Senator Obama, who remains the prohibitive likely Democratic nominee.
And when Clinton wins state primaries that, because of demographics, she was always going to win - last week, Pennsylvania and next week, Indiana - they then wave that event up like a blood-soaked flag as proof of their narrative: See? See? We told you so! White people won't vote for Obama!
The question is this: Have white Democrats soured on Obama? Apparently not. Although his unfavorable rating from the group is up five percentage points since last summer in polls conducted by The New York Times and CBS News, his favorable rating is up just as much.
On the other hand, black Democrats’ opinion of Hillary Clinton has deteriorated substantially (her favorable rating among them is down 36 percentage points over the same period).
While a favorable opinion doesn’t necessarily translate into a vote, this should still give the Clintons (and the superdelegates) pause. Electability cuts both ways.
He holds a solid lead over John McCain, and beats HRC in the new CBS/NYT poll. Meanwhile, the Times tries to make a story of the 25 percent of voters who say their opinions are impacted by the ubiquitous Rev. Wright. Note to Times: 100 minus 25 is Seventy Five...|
Courting the latte-sipping, Volvo-driving, European gun owning set
The latest dispatch from Hillary Clinton: Woman of the People! Apparently, Hillary's newfound support for gun owners' rights is of a certain, snobby, snooty, I don't pump my own gas, dahling, variety, as Ben Smith of the Politico reports:
Sen. Hillary Clinton’s mailing attacking Sen. Barack Obama’s record on guns appears to include a striking visual gaffe: The image of the gun pictured on the face of the mailing is reversed, making it a nonexistent left-handed model of the Mauser 66 rifle.
To make matters worse, a prominent gun dealer said, it’s an expensive German gun with customized features that make it clearly European.
“The gun in the photo does not exist,” said Val Forgett III, president of Navy Arms in Martinsburg, W.Va. Forgett's company was Mauser’s agent in the United States when the gun was released, and it sold Mauser guns here again in the 1990s. “The bolt is facing to the left side of the receiver, making it a left-handed bolt action rifle, indicating whoever constructed and approved the mailer did not recognize the image has been reversed.”
Forgett said the error would be obvious to sportsmen.
“I find it laughable on its face,” he said. “It’s like a picture of Babe Ruth hitting right-handed.”
... The Mauser 66, released in 1966 and no longer manufactured, is a high-end hunting rifle that found military use as a sniper rifle. In Clinton’s mailing, it’s pictured with a double-set trigger, a customization that’s popular in Europe but “almost unheard of in the United States,” Forgett said.
“It’s a $2,200 German import — it’s hardly typical of what the average workingman in Indiana uses,” he said.
That, and the image looks like Camp Clinton is vicariously shooting Barack Obama in the head...
One more from the Times: Thomas Friedman muses about America's sense of lost greatness, and throws in the fact that hope and inspiration, on the order that Barack Obama is trying to deliver, are not trivial to the daunting task of rebuilding America. It strikes me that, and Friedman didn't say this, Hillary Clinton is attempting to gin up a sense of "fight" in her voters -- we're going to fight this one and that one, the Republicans and the Obamaphiles, the media and whoever else gets in our way. In a sense, what she's promising is to bring the 90s back wholesale -- including the drama and the clashes of civilization with whoever's considered "the other side."
That kind of thing may inspire a temporary sense of superiority, which on a bad day can be mistaken for greatness, and she's making downscale Democrats feel in charge (and older, white women, too) but none of these can be mistaken for the kind of rebuilt American greatness that Friedman is talking about -- the sense of industry and invention, that we've ceded to Asia and other parts East.
The more I watch the present campaign,the more convinced I am that Hillary is simply not capable of leading that kind of movement. She's too divisive, too angry, to much in it for the fight and the kill, rather than for the much needed outcome: a changed and whole America.
Okay, not to get too deep or eerie about it, but the political season is routinely described as a horse race ... and wasn't this the horse Senator Clinton told her robots to bet on in the Kentucky Derby?
Both came here chasing history and hinting at greatness. Big Brown was unbeaten and trying to become the first horse in 93 years to win the Kentucky Derby after three lifetime races. Eight Belles, a filly, had ticked off four victories, emboldening her owner to run her against the boys in America’s greatest horse race.
When Big Brown entered the stretch, seemingly finding a gear seen only on sci-fi rocket ships, the 157,000 here to celebrate thoroughbred racing, had their breath taken away by the big colt’s dazzling burst. When Eight Belles broke from the pack to give determined chase, many checked their programs, “Was that really the filly?”
Big Brown hit the wire nearly five lengths ahead of Eight Belles, but moments later, there was heartbreak. While Kent Desormeaux was galloping out Big Brown, Eight Belles fell.
She had fractured both of her front ankles, said the Derby’s on-call veterinarian, Dr. Larry Bramlage, and was euthanized on the racetrack.
What's the name of the NFL team from Indiana, again...?
Eight Belles’s death is bound to raise new questions about the safety of traditional dirt tracks like Churchill’s and lead to second-guessing over whether a filly, which usually runs against other fillies, should have competed against colts.
And the metaphors just keep coming!
Against 19 rivals, Big Brown was trying to become the first horse since the filly Regret in 1915 to pull into Churchill Downs solightly raced and leave a Derby champion. ...
“He truly was in a gallop to the quarter pole,” Desormeaux said. “No distractions. No alterations in course. Just slide over.”
Ahead of him, Bob Black Jack, Cowboy Cal and Recapturetheglory were leading the charge, but were hardly setting a challenging pace as the half mile went in 1:11.04. In the clubhouse, Dutrow and Big Brown’s co-owner Michael Iavarone were puzzled.
“Is he too far back?” Iavarone asked Dutrow.
... Desormeaux, however, was unconcerned as he sat atop a colt that repeatedly has given him goose bumps, something his previous Derby winners, Real Quiet in 1998 and Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000, had never been able to do.
“He was just galloping, floppy eared, off the bridle, cruising,” he said. “I just left him alone and let him canter until I needed him.”
As they entered the far turn, Desormeaux nudged Big Brown ever so slightly.
“Whoosh,” is how Desormeaux described his colt’s reaction.
It was too early, however, to unleash him. Desormeaux let Big Brown pull him like a water skier around the far turn. Cowboy Cal, Recapturetheglory, Cool Coal Man — all disappeared behind him. “Big Brown just kicked in the afterburners,” said Recapturetheglory’s rider, E. T. Baird.
Only Eight Belles had anything left in her tank to give chase. Her rider, Gabriel Saez, took aim at Big Brown and Desormeaux, and with a quarter-mile to run in the mile-and-a-quarter race got within two and a half lengths. Suddenly, however, Big Brown picked up speed and bounded away.
There was plenty of discussion afterward about whether Big Brown was talented enough to become the 12th Triple Crown champion. It has been 30 years since Affirmed swept the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, and horsemen and horse lovers have been longing to crown another great champion. ...
I mean it's not perfect. Obama is in his sixth lifetime race (three successful runs for the Illinois Senate, one failed Congressional run, one successful U.S. Senate run and the current run for president) not his third. He's not all that big (though he is tall, and he is brown...) and Obama didn't pick his horses all that well. He chose a horse called Colonel John to win and predicted Big Brown would come in third (show). Although something tells me his advisors weren't keen on him putting his name behind anything called "Big Brown..." if you know what I'm sayin...
If ultimately, the race for president proves to be too much for Bill's little filly, and she eventually, kicking and screaming all the way, clawing at the chamber door, throws in the towel, there'll be some solace for her legions of older white ladies, beer drinking rural folk and other assorted Clintonistas, and it comes from this racing fan:
James Clemons, 58, a machine operator, was in line waiting to cash his $2 bet to place on Eight Belles, a ticket worth $10.60, when he heard about her death.
“Oh, man,” he said, beginning to choke up. “She’s one of the best fillies around. She showed she could run with the boys.”
...and she beat 'em up real good, too... R.I.P. Eight Belles.
We have officially entered the Twilight Zone. The Clinton camp has cozied up to the right wing media, including Fox News, they've been blessed by Richard Melon Scaife, and they've adopted every sleazy campaign tactic that has ever been used against them. Now this:
Yesterday in the Huffington Post, Sid Blumenthal, a close friend and advisor of Hillary Clinton who has been widely credited with coining the term "vast right-wing conspiracy" used by Hillary in 1998 to describe the alliance of conservative media, think tanks, and political operatives that sought to destroy the Clinton White House, appears to be exploiting that same right-wing network to attack and discredit Barack Obama. And he's not hesitating to use the same sort of guilt-by-association tactics that have been the hallmark of the political right dating back to the McCarthy era. Blumenthal regularly dispatches emails to a list of opinion shapers, including journalists, former Clinton administration officials, academics, policy entrepreneurs, and think tankers -- an obvious effort to create an echo chamber that will reverberate among talk shows, columnists, and Democratic Party funders and activists.
Almost every day over the past six months, I have been the recipient of an email that attacks Obama's character, political views, electability, and real or manufactured associations. The original source of many of these hit pieces are virulent and sometimes extreme right-wing websites, bloggers, and publications. But they aren't being emailed out from some fringe right-wing group that somehow managed to get my email address. Instead, it is Sidney Blumenthal who, on a regular basis, methodically dispatches these email mudballs to an influential list of opinion shapers -- including journalists, former Clinton administration officials, academics, policy entrepreneurs, and think tankers -- in what is an obvious attempt to create an echo chamber that reverberates among talk shows, columnists, and Democratic Party funders and activists. One of the recipients of the Blumenthal email blast, himself a Clinton supporter, forwards the material to me and perhaps to others.
These attacks sent out by Blumenthal, long known for his fierce and combative loyalty to the Clintons, draw on a wide variety of sources to spread his Obama-bashing. Some of the pieces are culled from the mainstream media and include some reasoned swipes at Obama's policy and political positions.
To cite just one recent example, Blumenthal circulated an article taken from the fervently hard-right AIM website on February 18 entitled, "Obama's Communist Mentor" by Cliff Kincaid. Kincaid is a right-wing writer and activist, a longtime critic of the United Nations, whose group, America's Survival, has been funded by foundations controlled by conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife, the same millionaire who helped fund attacks on the Clintons during their White House years. Scaife also funds AIM, the right-wing media "watchdog" group.
The Kincaid article that Blumenthal circulated sought to discredit Obama by linking him to an African-American poet and writer whom Obama knew while he was in high school in Hawaii. That writer, Frank Marshall Davis, was, Kincaid wrote, a member of the Communist Party. Supported by no tangible evidence, Kincaid claimed that Obama considered his relationship to Davis to be "almost like a son." In his memoir, Dreams from My Father, Obama wrote about meeting, during his teenage years, a writer named "Frank" who "had some modest notoriety once" and with whom he occasionally discussed poetry and politics. From this snippet, Kincaid weaves an incredulous tale that turns Davis into Obama's "mentor."
Kincaid's piece had been previously circulating within the right-wing blogosphere, but Blumenthal sought to inject the story into more respectable opinion circles by amplifying it in his email blast. ...
Scary stuff. And there's a lot more in the piece. It will be interesting to see how, or if, Camp Clinton (or Mr. Blumenthal himself,) responds. Clearly, the only lesson that the Clintons learned from their experience in the 1990s, is how to do the dirt that was done to them, and to be willing to do it to one of their own.
Economists weigh in on the Clinton-McCain gas tax holiday plan and give it the thumbs down:
Backing up Obama's position against Clinton's proposal to suspend the 18.4-cent-per-gallon tax for the summer is a slew of economists who argue that the proposal, first offered by Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, would be counterproductive. They argue that cutting the tax would drive up demand for gas at a time when the supply is tight, which would mean that the price at the pump would drop by much less than 18 cents per gallon.
The tax suspension would, as a result, cut into the highway trust fund that the tax supports, a loss of about $9 billion over the summer, but also result in fatter profit margins for oil companies. Clinton says she would replace the lost revenue by raising taxes on the oil industry.
Harvard professor N. Gregory Mankiw, who has written a best-selling textbook on economics, said what he teaches is different from what Clinton and McCain are saying about gas taxes. "What you learn in Economics 101 is that if producers can't produce much more, when you cut the tax on that good the tax is kept . . . by the suppliers and is not passed on to consumers," he said.
He anticipates the Clinton campaign "will use the same words and the same language to attack me that Republicans used to attack me when I was DNC chair and I was defending Bill Clinton."
"I say this as a longtime participant in old politics," he says. "I've sparred with everyone from Lee Atwater to Karl Rove."
Andrew points out that he was in charge during a rather tumultuous time for the party — during impeachment and the Florida recount.
"The same words will come out of the [Clinton campaign's] surrogates' mouths to attack me that the Republicans used — and that demonstrates the very hypocrisy of the old politics," he says. "We need to unite the party. You can actually be for someone without being against someone else."
House majority whip James Clyburn,one of the most respected members of Congress, rips Hillary a new one in a Reuters interview:
“Scurrilous” and “disingenuous” were among the words a top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives used on Thursday to describe Hillary Clinton’s campaign tactics in her bid to defeat Barack Obama for their party’s presidential nomination.
House Democratic Whip James Clyburn, of South Carolina and the highest ranking black in Congress, also said he has heard speculation that Clinton is staying in the race only to try to derail Obama and pave the way for her to make another White House run in 2012.
“I heard something, the first time yesterday (in South Carolina), and I heard it on the (House) floor today, which is telling me there are African Americans who have reached the decision that the Clintons know that she can’t win this. But they’re hell-bound to make it impossible for Obama to win” in November, Clyburn told Reuters in an interview. ...
Then he went after Clinton on her push to count Florida and Michigan:
“I think it’s so disingenuous … (adviser James) Carville and Sen. Clinton were all on TV. I’ve seen them two or three times this week, talking about counting Florida and Michigan.”
Obama did not campaign in those states because the Democratic Party said Florida and Michigan wouldn’t be included in the formal tally for the nomination. “Her name was the only one on the ticket in Michigan and still 42, 43 percent of the vote was against her,” Clyburn said.
Still, Clyburn said “I don’t think she ought to drop out.”
But he added, “There’s a difference between dropping out and raising all this extraneous scurrilous stuff about the guy (Obama). Just run your campaign … you don’t have to drop out to be respectful of other people.”
Ouch... Then it was Bill's turn, courtesy of the New York Times: In an interview with The New York Times late Thursday, Mr. Clyburn said Mr. Clinton’s conduct in this campaign had caused what might be an irreparable breach between Mr. Clinton and an African-American constituency that once revered him. “When he was going through his impeachment problems, it was the black community that bellied up to the bar,” Mr. Clyburn said. “I think black folks feel strongly that that this is a strange way for President Clinton to show his appreciation.” Mr. Clyburn added that there appeared to be an almost “unanimous” view among African-Americans that Mr. and Mrs. Clinton were “committed to doing everything they possibly can to damage Obama to a point that he could never win.”
Mr. Clyburn was heavily courted by both campaigns before South Carolina’s primary in January. But he stayed neutral, and continues to, vowing that he would not say or do anything that might influence the outcome of the race. He said he remains officially uncommitted as a superdelegate and has no immediate plans to endorse either candidate. At one point before the South Carolina primary, Mr. Clyburn publicly urged Mr. Clinton to “chill a little bit.”
Asked Thursday whether the former president heeded his advice, Mr. Clyburn said “Yeah, for three or four weeks or so. Or maybe three or four days.”
Ouch again! It's getting tight for the former president, who I think has officially lost his Black pass. (Hillary never really had one, so she might not be feeling as much pain...)
According to CBS, Hillary's haul from her Pennsylvania victory is a whopping 9 delegate net. She'll take home 82 delegates to Barack's 73 according to CBS' number crunchers. And as Chuckie T, MSNBC's numbers guru repeatedly reminds us, there is no math -- none -- not even including Michigan and Florida, that gets Mrs. Clinton to the nomination. None. Zilch. Zero. No wonder Barack doesn't bother to attack her... He's just waiting her out, letting her throw her tantrum, and she'll get her juice box when she calms down.
Meanwhile, the NYT calms the nerves of jittery Obamaphiles with this very sober read on the actual prospects of the Dems in November.
With Hillary picking up 82 delegates last night to Barack's 69. (The NYT and AP score it 1,661 to 1,511.) Is that enough for her to win the nomination? No. Is her 200,000 popular vote pick-up enough to overtake Barack there? No. His popvote lead is now down to about 500,000, and with 9 smaller contests left, the math still doesn't work for HRC. Every analyst working right now agrees that Hillary's only shot at the nomination is to draw the calendar out, and hope Barack implodes, either on his own, or by her doing (or because white voters simply stage a rebellion and refuse to move him forward to the nomination, handing her something like 70-30 wins in the next nine contests.)
That's the ballgame, Hillary fans. It's all over but the screaming and dragging out of the room. Still, there are real perils for Barack, who will have to endure more nastiness from Camp Clinton, and more backlash from a press corps desperate to appease her operatives, and to not appear to be favoring him (they have no similar desperation as regards their clear love for John McCain.) And the race has exposed -- or more accurately, ginned up, real racial divisions that could haunt Barack into November, as WaPo's Dan Balz points out:
In Pennsylvania, Clinton won white voters who did not go to college by about 40 points. In Ohio, it was 44 points. Nor did Obama increase his vote among white college graduates, losing them to Clinton in Pennsylvania by six percentage points after losing them in Ohio by seven.
Clinton won the late-deciders in Pennsylvania handily, an apparent sign again that Obama has had trouble closing the most competitive primaries. In Pennsylvania, in contrast to Ohio, Obama threw everything he could into the final days, airing three negative commercials on television, hammering Clinton with a closing argument that cast the choice as one between a practitioner of special-interest politics as usual versus a reformer who would change the way Washington works.
One clear bright spot for Obama was the nearly one in 10 voters in the Democratic primary who had recently registered with the party. Pennsylvania experienced a huge shift in voter registration over the past year, with Democratic registration rising by more than 300,000 and Republican registration shrinking by about 70,000.
Among newly registered Democrats voting yesterday, Obama won them by about 20 percentage points. His advisers will point to that as evidence that he can draw support from former independents or even disaffected Republicans in a general-election race against McCain.
And so we go on, and on, and on ... to the detriment of the Democrats' chances in November.
More than a year ago on the radio, I said that if Hillary Clinton became the Democratic nominee, she would be almost irresistible to white women over 50. In fact, I said it all the time. And if you've conversed with women in that demographic, you know that it's true. I predicted that even some Republican women would cross over in November to vote for her, believing it might be their last chance to see a woman win the White House (Gerry Ferraro having been a dud.)
I still believe that's true. What Hillary Clinton primarily has going for her in this election is older white women, who exit polls in Pennsylvania bear out (and New Hampshire made the same case) will stand by her no matter what the polls and pundits say, no matter how much left leaning talk radio and the bloggers dump on her, and no matter how vicious and negative her campaign becomes. Hillary's demographic is tuning all of that out, and if she is not the nominee, white women over 50 will be the biggest challenge facing Barack Obama. Younger women I doubt he'll have much trouble with, except for the fact that they traditionally don't vote in proportion to their population share (ditto with young people.) But older, white women will have to be won over. It may not be easy, because I've also observed that Clinton voters are among the most rabid, the most insistent on their candidate, and frankly, the most angry voters in this campaign.
To that base, Hillary and her team have been very straightforward in adding generic white voters. The conventional wisdom has been that Bill Clinton played the race card by trying to marginalize Barack Obama as "the Black candidate," thus "scaring the hell out of" lower middle class white voters, just as he accused Republicans of doing back in the early 1990s. In this case, the conventional wisdom was right. The Clinton campaign has skillfully isolated white voters, male and female, into their camp, leaving only the most highly educated, and thus most liberal, white voters, plus young voters and Black voters, for Barack. Mathematically, in a state like Pennsylvania, which is significantly older, and significantly whiter, and where white residents have enough proximity to urban Blacks to have a "certain view" of them, Barack can't win, and Hillary, by consolidating voters on the basis of age, gender and race, can. (By way of proof, exit polls show Clinton won ALL white voters, regardless of race.)
Going forward, Barack's challenge will be to begin to peel off white men. Forget older white women until the general: they're as untouchable for him as Black voters are for her. The game, right now, is white men. He can do that through endorsements, he can do it through ads, but at some point, he has to do it directly, probably through a populist economic message that white men who earn around $50,000 a year can relate to. He can also do it by pushing hard against John McCain on the subject of Iraq.
If I were advising Barack's campaign, that's what I would tell them to do.
The Pennsylvania campaign, which produced yet another inconclusive result on Tuesday, was even meaner, more vacuous, more desperate, and more filled with pandering than the mean, vacuous, desperate, pander-filled contests that preceded it.
Voters are getting tired of it; it is demeaning the political process; and it does not work. It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election.
If nothing else, self interest should push her in that direction. Mrs. Clinton did not get the big win in Pennsylvania that she needed to challenge the calculus of the Democratic race. It is true that Senator Barack Obama outspent her 2-to-1. But Mrs. Clinton and her advisers should mainly blame themselves, because, as the political operatives say, they went heavily negative and ended up squandering a good part of what was once a 20-point lead.
On the eve of this crucial primary, Mrs. Clinton became the first Democratic candidate to wave the bloody shirt of 9/11. A Clinton television ad — torn right from Karl Rove’s playbook — evoked the 1929 stock market crash, Pearl Harbor, the Cuban missile crisis, the cold war and the 9/11 attacks, complete with video of Osama bin Laden. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” the narrator intoned.
If that was supposed to bolster Mrs. Clinton’s argument that she is the better prepared to be president in a dangerous world, she sent the opposite message on Tuesday morning by declaring in an interview on ABC News that if Iran attacked Israel while she were president: “We would be able to totally obliterate them.”
By staying on the attack and not engaging Mr. Obama on the substance of issues like terrorism, the economy and how to organize an orderly exit from Iraq, Mrs. Clinton does more than just turn off voters who don’t like negative campaigning. She undercuts the rationale for her candidacy that led this page and others to support her: that she is more qualified, right now, to be president than Mr. Obama.
The Times is advising Hillary to "call off the dogs." The only trouble is, the Times' analysis is wrong. Pennsylvania voters, at least responded to Hillary's negative campaigning by voting in larger numbers for her than for Barack Obama. They were persuaded by her message of fear and loathing, in part because it gave them a justification for the fear, and in some cases loathing, that they may feel toward Obama. At the end of the day, it has to be assumed that older, white voters, particularly women, would prefer to see a candidate like themselves win the race, just as Black voters would prefer to see one of their own win. It's human nature. Not pretty, but real. Hillary has successfully exploited the tribalism of white voters to her advantage. That may be the "old politics," but sometimes the old politics works. I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for Camp Hillary to clean it up. I think it just gets nastier on her part, from here on.
This may sound like the sour grapes of an Obama supporter, and maybe it is. But the bottom line is that the Clinton way of doing politics is mean and nasty. It always has been. That's why those of us who supported Bill Clinton through the 90s liked them. We knew they would throw their mother under a moving train to win an election. That was cool then, when the election was against Republicans. Now that they're training the dogs on one of our own, the Clinton's don't look so clever to us anymore.
There is hope for the Obama faithful, of course. Barack can come roaring back by winning North Carolina (though Camp Clinton will dismiss such a win as yet another Jesse Jackson moment) and by beating her in Indiana -- the combined effect of which would neutralize tonight's win for HRC. But it clearly is time for the Obama camp to regroup, to drill down into his weakness with white, working class voters, and to find a message that blunts the hardball sledge hammer being wielded by Hillary and her team.
The margin in PA is 10 points with 91 percent of precincts reporting, and she could pick up 200,000 popular votes out of the state, cutting Barack's lead down to about 500,000. Oh, the Hillary people are gonna be impossible to live with now...
Bitterness update: Exit polls show the Democratic race is getting ... to use a fave media word these days ... bitter. It's not limited to PA. My sister, who lives in Los Angeles, just informed me that the bitterness has so calcified in her that she's lost the ability to feel. OK, maybe that's a little bit dramatic, but I can assure you, the numbness is setting in, I'm sure, for Obama supporters everywhere...
The crusty old state of the union goes for the gentlelady from Arkansas/New York/Scranton... All we're waiting for now is the margin. If it's not close to or greater than 10 percent, I think Hillary will have a hard time getting much of a fundraising (or superdelegate) sling shot into next week's primaries in North Carolina and Indiana. And since her campaign is broke, and her big donors tapped out, she desperately needs that sling shot.
In the exit polls, nearly 30 percent of newly registered voters say that if Hillary became the nominee, they would not support her. Still, more Hillary voters say they would be dissatisfied with Barack as said the reverse. We're looking at a hardcore, entrenched Democratic support for Hillary Clinton that's mostly based on age -- prehistoric voters are sticking with the Clintons, it appears based on the belief that they would provide a stronger hand on the economy (I suspect that a lot of the old gals and fellers figure Bill will be running the country anyway. Sorry, that was mean...)
All jokes aside, the exit polls make it clear that age was a key factor in Hillary's favor tonight, as was the fact that 59 percent of the electorate in PA were women, and 37 percent were between ages 40 and 59; another 32 percent are 60 and over. Older voters clearly were not ready to go out on a limb with Obama. They stayed with the safe candidate: Hillary. Similarly, Hillary won white voters across the age spectrum (I guess they're no different from Black voters, eh?) Interestingly, Barack appears to have won men tonight, 52% to 48%.
And with 22 percent of precincts reporting, it's 53%-47%.
Awaiting the margins and speeches. Balloon drops optional.
And apparently, hell has frozen over, because Richard Mellon Scaife -- funder of the vast right wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton during the 1990s, has completely rolled over for Hillary. His Pittsburgh paper gave the New York Senator its endorsement this weekend.
Meanwhile, the MSM "Get Obama" campaign doesn't appear to be having much effect. Barack was greeted by a record crowd of 35,000 people independence Park in Philly Friday night (5,000 more than his record Oprah crowd), and he has regained his Gallup daily tracking poll lead after a sustained pounding by Hillary (and her china) and the full weight of the televised press.
My TiVo crapped out on me so I didn't catch Stephanopoulos' interview of John McCain. I'm assuming it was a love-fest. I did see some of the self-justification spree with George, George, Cokie and Sam (I guess he needed to assemble the core self-justification team this time) and found it boring and useless. Saving the TiVo of SNL until later.
Meanwhile, Stephanopoulos has succeeded in making attacking Obama for supposed "radical ties" fashionable outside the wacky world of right wing blogs.
For all the media's efforts to close this race up and keep it going, a Newsweek poll shows Barack Obama pullling away:
Despite her campaign's relentless attacks on Barack Obama's qualifications and electability, Hillary Clinton has lost a lot of ground with Democratic voters nationwide going into Tuesday's critical primary in Pennsylvania, a new NEWSWEEK poll shows.
The survey of 1,209 registered voters found that Obama now leads Clinton by nearly 20 points, or 54 percent to 35 percent, among registered Democrats and those who lean Democratic nationwide. The previous Newsweek poll, conducted in March after Clinton's big primary wins in Ohio and Texas, showed the two Democrats locked in a statistical tie (45 percent for Obama to 44 percent for Clinton). The new poll puts Obama ahead among women as well as men, and voters aged 60 and older as well as younger voters. (For the complete poll data, click here).
One of the more devastating results for Clinton was that a majority of all registered voters now see her as dishonest and untrustworthy. According to the poll, just four in 10 (41 percent) registered voters view the New York senator as honest and trustworthy, while 51 percent think the opposite. This compares with solid majorities of voters who see Obama and McCain as honest and trustworthy (both polled 61 percent).
The results suggest that Clinton was damaged more by being caught in a tall tale about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire than Obama has been by his recent controversies, including the firestorm of criticism provoked by the Illinois senator's remarks that blue-collar voters "cling" to religion, guns and other issues because of their bitterness. In addition, over half (53 percent) of voters say they believe Obama shares their values, more than those who say the same thing about Clinton (47 percent) or McCain (45 percent).
Even so, the poll indicates that both Obama and Clinton have been harmed by the fierce attacks they have aimed at each other. While Obama has a 57 percent favorable rating among all voters in the latest survey, that represents a 4 percent drop from March, and his unfavorable rating has jumped from 28 percent to 36 percent. Clinton is viewed favorably by just 49 percent, compared to 56 percent in March, while 47 percent view her as unfavorable, compared �"This is not a year for negative campaigning and Clinton's pounding of Obama on his controversial description of small town voters in Pennsylvania does not seem to be working. Obama leads in the Philadelphia and eastern part of the Commonwealth, among African Americans, and Very Liberal Pennsylvanians. He also has a slight lead among voters in union households and has an 18 point margin over those who have lost a job. Clinton maintains her lead among whites, Catholics, Liberals, and Hispanics.
"The gender gap is huge with Obama leading among men by 15 and Clinton leading among women by 15. But Clinton holds a wide advantage on the question of understanding Pennsylvania (58%-27%) and handling the economy of the country (47%-38%). She also is ahead in understanding the personal financial situation of individuals (41%-35%).
"On the other hand, Pennsylvanians by a two to one margin (60% to 29%) are more likely to agree with supporters of Obama that voters in Pennsylvania are bitter about their economic situation than with Clinton and critics of Obama that he is an elitist who does not understand working people.
to 40 percent in the previous poll. Even so, the unopposed McCain has also suffered a setback: his favorable rating has dipped to 52 percent from 55 percent, while his unfavorable rating has increased to 42 percent from 35 percent. ...
Time is running out for Hil. Look for her to take the really big clubs to Obama's knees going forward.
Meanwhile Zogby, who's been very unreliable lately (maybe it's because he's partnering with Newsmax...) has the PA race down to 1 point. The undecideds in the Zogby poll: 9 percent. Here's Zogby's take:
�"This is not a year for negative campaigning and Clinton's pounding of Obama on his controversial description of small town voters in Pennsylvania does not seem to be working. Obama leads in the Philadelphia and eastern part of the Commonwealth, among African Americans, and Very Liberal Pennsylvanians. He also has a slight lead among voters in union households and has an 18 point margin over those who have lost a job. Clinton maintains her lead among whites, Catholics, Liberals, and Hispanics.
"The gender gap is huge with Obama leading among men by 15 and Clinton leading among women by 15. But Clinton holds a wide advantage on the question of understanding Pennsylvania (58%-27%) and handling the economy of the country (47%-38%). She also is ahead in understanding the personal financial situation of individuals (41%-35%).
"On the other hand, Pennsylvanians by a two to one margin (60% to 29%) are more likely to agree with supporters of Obama that voters in Pennsylvania are bitter about their economic situation than with Clinton and critics of Obama that he is an elitist who does not understand working people. ...
We shall see. But most polls show Pennsylvania closing. Rasmussen has Clinton up by 3% (47%-44% with 9% undecided in a poll taken the night of the ABC debate debacle) but with 6 percent of Obama supporters saying they could still change their minds (to 2 percent for HRC.)
Two former senators with long records on foreign policy and national security issues -- and who come from "red" states where Republicans dominate -- have just endorsed Sen. Barack Obama's bid for the White House.
Sam Nunn of Georgia and David Boren of Oklahoma, both Democrats (as is Obama), will also be serving as advisers on Obama's national security foreign policy team.
Meanwhile, New York magazine reports that one-time "friend of Bill" and former Clinton administration Labor secretary Robert Reich will this afternoon also endorse Obama. Reich is set to make his announcement official around 1 p.m. ET, on his blog.
According to New York Magazine's John Heilemann, the reasoning behind Reich's decision to endorse is particularly biting:
Now, in one sense, the Reich endorsement comes as no great surprise. For some time, it's been clear to anyone paying attention that Reich favors Obama. Back in December, in a blog post titled "Why is HRC Stooping So Low?," Reich loudly and sharply criticized Clinton's conduct in Iowa and defended Obama's proposals for health-care and Social Security reform. Two days before the race-charged South Carolina primary, he assailed Bill Clinton's "ill-tempered and ill-founded attacks" on Obama, arguing that they were "doing no credit to the former president, his legacy, or his wife's campaign." And all throughout the primary season, he has spoken and written of Obama's candidacy with evident admiration and enthusiasm.
But Reich insists that the endorsement does indeed come as a surprise — to him. As we chatted in Washington, where Reich had come from Berkeley, where he teaches, to give a speech and meet with some Democrats on Capitol Hill, he explained that, despite the criticisms he's made of the Clintons ("I call it as I see it"), he had planned to refrain from offering an official backing for Obama out of respect for Hillary. "She's an old friend," Reich said. "I've known her 40 years. I was absolutely dead set against getting into the whole endorsement thing. I've struggled with it. I've not wanted to do it. Out of loyalty to her, I just felt it would be inappropriate."
So what's changed? I asked Reich.
"I saw the ads" — the negative man-on-street commercials that the Clinton campaign put up in Pennsylvania in the wake of Obama's bitter/cling comments a week ago — "and I was appalled, frankly. I thought it represented the nadir of mean-spirited, negative politics. And also of the politics of distraction, of gotcha politics. It's the worst of all worlds. We have three terrible traditions that we've developed in American campaigns. One is outright meanness and negativity. The second is taking out of context something your opponent said, maybe inartfully, and blowing it up into something your opponent doesn't possibly believe and doesn't possibly represent. And third is a kind of tradition of distraction, of getting off the big subject with sideshows that have nothing to do with what matters. And these three aspects of the old politics I've seen growing in Hillary's campaign. And I've come to the point, after seeing those ads, where I can't in good conscience not say out loud what I believe about who should be president. Those ads are nothing but Republicanism. They're lending legitimacy to a Republican message that's wrong to begin with, and they harken back to the past twenty years of demagoguery on guns and religion. It's old politics at its worst — and old Republican politics, not even old Democratic politics. It's just so deeply cynical."
I was talking with my mentor in radio earlier today, about the prospects for the Democrats to win back the White House in the fall (assuming HRC hasn't foreclosed any possibility of that already.) The bottom line is, the Democrats have to hold all of the John Kerry states, and add Ohio, or Florida (less likely) or two Western states (say, Colorado or Nevada and New Mexico) in order to win the Electoral College vote. What I said this morning is that I have no doubt that the Dems can win the popular vote -- Democrats are more motivated, more numerous (based on party identification) and they dominate in terms of new registrations in every state that has voted so far except for Florida. Independents, meanwhile, are siding with Dems on nearly every issue. Last but not least, John McCain is a less than inspiring candidate, whose lack of personal magnetism, combined with his lukewarm support from hard core religious and other conservatives, should mean that he brings out fewer voters overall.
That said, McCain doesn't necessarily need to generate enthusiasm in order to win, and as we discovered in 2000, he doesn't need to win the popular vote, either. All John McCain has to do is hold the states George W. Bush won in 2004, even if he does so by slim margins.
Gallup today has an analysis of where the statewide races stand so far, in the red, blue, and "purple states." They find that:
Democratic front-runner Barack Obama has a four-point advantage over presumptive Republican nominee John McCain among registered voters residing in states that were competitive in the 2004 election. Obama has a comfortable lead in states John Kerry won comfortably in 2004, as does McCain in states George W. Bush won easily. ...
... Hillary Clinton also leads McCain by the same 47% to 43% margin among purple-state voters. But she does not fare quite as well as Obama does in blue states, and she trails McCain by a slightly larger margin than Obama does in red states.
... Hillary Clinton also leads McCain by the same 47% to 43% margin among purple-state voters. But she does not fare quite as well as Obama does in blue states, and she trails McCain by a slightly larger margin than Obama does in red states.
Gallup includes the following as "purpole states": New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon.
That's not as good news for the Dems as it sounds, because:
McCain and his supporters can take solace in that there are more red states, more voters, and thus, more electoral votes in those states. So even though he trails by four points in the most competitive states, he is down by only two points to Obama (46% to 44%), and is down by just one point to Clinton (46% to 45%), among registered voters when all states are combined.
According to 2004 election statistics, 36% of all voters in that election resided in red states, 33% lived in blue states, and 31% in purple states. So the Democratic candidate is starting out at a disadvantage, everything else being equal. Thus, in order to win the election, the Democratic candidate probably has to defeat the Republican by at least a couple of percentage points in the competitive states, assuming the vote distributions in the red and blue states stay relatively constant. The Republican can probably win by essentially breaking even in the competitive states, as Bush did in 2004. (While this analysis focuses on the popular vote, the electoral vote results should generally follow a similar pattern, in which the candidate who wins a greater share of the popular vote in the competitive states will probably also win a greater share of the electoral votes in those states.)
The final 2004 popular vote results were more polarized than the current poll data suggest is the case now. McCain is not faring as well as Bush did in 2004 in red states, where Bush defeated Kerry 59% to 40%. And Obama only matches the 13-point advantage Kerry had in blue states (56% to 43%). The two candidates essentially split the vote in the most competitive states in 2004, with Bush winning 50% and Kerry 49%.
Bottom line, red state voters are impervious to the realities on the ground. They will vote for whatever Republican is put in front of them, even if not enthusiastically. Therefore, the Dems have a slimmer margin of error than John McCain, as crazy as that sounds given the fix this country is in.
Amid a storm of criticism that Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate focused too heavily on “gotcha” questions and not enough on substance, ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos defended his decision to ask Illinois Sen. Barack Obama about his relationship with former political radical William Ayers. Stephanopoulos denied he’d been spoon fed the question by Fox News host Sean Hannity.
“We have been researching this for a while,” Stephanopoulos said in a phone interview from New York. ABC News political correspondent Jake Tapper, he said, had blogged about the issue April 10, after it was first reported by Politico, the political news website. “Part of what we discovered is that Sen. Obama had never been asked directly about it, even though it’s being written about and talked about and Republicans are signaling that this is gonna be an issue in the general election.” ...
... Stephanopoulos dismissed the idea that he was doing Hannity’s bidding.
“The questions we asked were tough and fair and appropriate and relevant and what you would expect to be asked in a presidential debate at this point,” he said. “The questions we asked…are being debated around the political world every day.”
By this morning, more than 14,000 viewer comments had been posted on the ABC News website, the overwhelming majority critical of the debate moderators, who spent most of the first hour on what Stephanopoulous called “electability questions.”
“The way we thought about it was, it made sense to hit the electability questions first, then move on,” he said. “I can see where reasonable people would differ with that.”
I just finished watching my TiVo of the umpteenth Democratic debate on ABC, and I have to say, not since the group pile-on against Hillary Clinton in Philly have I seen a more concentrated media gang tackle of a candidate. Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos (you have to wonder about the propriety of having a debate featuring Mrs. Clinton co-moderated by a man who used to work for her husband) spent the first 27 minutes of the debate pounding Senator Obama -- asking so many negative questions of him that Gibson had to admit to not giving Hillary equal time. (She smiled). And then, George and Charlie proceeded to dredge up every media-created "scandal" (they opened with "bittergate," then re-racked Rev. Jeremiah Wright, then Stephanopuls incredibly, teed up the Sean Hannity-inspired William Ayers schtick (Obama's flimsy supposed ties to a former member of the Weather Underground, who did his dirt when Barack was 8 years old.) That was the moment I almost turned off the TV.
Were it not for Keith Olbermann, I think I would be on meds by now. Keith pointed out in his Countown post-debate show opening that "the campaign may be nasty, but it has had nothing on one of the moderators tonight." (Your guess is as good as mine which one he meant. I think the two were an evenly matched set.)
ABC News should be embarassed by tonight's performance. I can tell you, I won't be spending a moment more of my Sundays watching Bill Clinton's former lackey pretend to be a news man. I have no need to shun Gibson, since there's nothing he does on television that I watch anyway.
Now, an observation. Hillary was on her game tonight. She usually is in these forums. And I've noticed a fundamental stylistic difference between these two that could be problematic for his campaign going forward, and it is this: given the opportunity to bury Barack over something he has said, or something someone he knows has said (such is the nature of his campaign,) she wastes no time in going for the jugular. But given the chance to bury her (on Bosnia, for instance,) he plays the gentleman, and gives her a pass. He does it consistently, and only broke from the chivalrous stance a couple of times (such as when he nailed her on Ayers, pointing out after she declared the issue fair game, that her association with the Weather Underground is quite a bit closer given the fact that he just sat on a board with Ayers, while her husband commuted the sentence of two of Ayers' boyhood bomber colleagues.
This was a stunning display of journalistic neglegence on the part of ABC News. The debate contained not a moment of substance for the first half hour. And they seemed to begin dealing with issues like Iraq only reluctantly. And the amount of time spent belaboring issues of gun ownership and the Second Amendment seemed more aimed at satisfying right wing radio, than elucidating issues important to voters.
Even the atmospherics of the debate were ridiculously slanted. How many cutaways of HRC supporters does one need to see in a debate? We were treated to shots of Lil' Chelsea, Wes Clark, Ed Rendell, and the Philadelphia mayor, all of whom are Clinton surrogates. And Hillary was smart to keep pointing people out in the room, so that the camera would cut to them. Can't blame her for playing the game. But ABC made not even the slightest pretense of balance. Surely there were one or two Obama supporters in the room?
Anyone who cares about fairness in media, and who is as alarmed as I am by the taint of Fox News on ABC (the same outfit that ran that ridiculous 9/11 mockumentary, and which originally spawned Chris Wallce) should write to them. Tomorrow.
Meanwhile, people are already getting things started on the ABC comment board.
My outrage over tonight's absurd, embarassing spectacle aside, I can come up with exactly three things to remember about tonight's debate:
1. Hillary has now laid down the most compelling argument so far for the superdelegates to swipe the nomination from Barack. Essentially, she has proven tonight that she can and will mimic the Republican attack machine, and play as dirty as they do. For some Democrats, that is an asset, while Barack's almost endemic congeniality could be seen as a weakness once he's facing the full onslought from the right (think Charlie Gibson's eye-bulging on the capital gains tax mixed with Stephanopoulos' Hannity pandering on William Ayers, time 100...)
2. The sole substantive point in the debate was that Hillary promised to extend the dubious concept of extending the "security umbrella" the U.S. currently deploys over Israel -- a nuclear-armed military bohemoth -- to other countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, yes, THAT Saudi Arabia. And that means the U.S. would reverse George W. Bush's reversal on Saudi bases, presumably stationing a military presence not just in Iraq, but across the Middle East. That almost out-neocons the neocons, and rewards the prinicipal financiers of al-Qaida to boot.
3. It should now be clear to Team Obama that the meme about media bias in their favor is officially dead. They should be prepared to fight both the Clinton campaign and a preponderance of the Washington press corps, not because the press love Hillary. They don't. But they love the ratings that come with phony, tabloid "news." And lately, Barack generates lots and lots of it. And once the general election comes along, Barack will meet the politician the elite D.C. media really loves: John McCain.
For all the media's fulminating and braying on behalf of the gun owning, churchgoing, illegal immigration opposing, small town Americans that most of their East Coast elite backsides quietly despise, it appears that so far, Americans are proving to be much smarter than the people who bring them the news.
To whit, the "bittergate" flap -- five eye-rolling days rolling, with no end in sight -- has had exactly zero impact on the presidential primary race. Zilch.
The new LAT/Bloomberg poll finds the race in Pennsylvania actually getting tighter -- it's down to five points in a poll taken Thursday through Monday, meaning all but one polling day included this stupid, tedious, non-story about who's bitter and who's the salt of the earth. The same outfit has Hillary losing her lead in Indiana, and going down 13 points to Barack in North Carolina.
Meanwhile, Lou Dobbs spent the better part of his show today spouting off at Obama, but when he tried to put it in a poll, that too fell flat. Lou's poll asked whether the viewers of his show would desribe themselves as "partisan and pathetic," "bitter and angry" or "independent and proud." I think he was pulling for "independent and proud." the results, instead the results were as follows:
Partisan and pathetic - 3% Independent and proud - 45% Bitter and angry - 52%
52% Lou. That's a majority of your viewers who describe themselves as bitter and angry. I mean, you do listen to your show, right?
BTW, Hillary's PA lead according to Quinnipiac: 6 percent. No change from last week.
And Barack is up one point in Gallup's daily tracking poll - 51% to 40%.
Hillary's very own extra special wild west adventure
There's a new Mahatma Hillary posted. And in case you haven't checked out the blog, it chronicles HRC's long history of service to ... well ... everything that ever happened in history that could be useful to recount on the stump during a presidential campaign. Here's the main link.