Sunday, March 2, 2008

[UPDATED 3/3 PM] More on Senator Obama and the Democratic primary campaign

Read a few good articles recently. Best of all, Jeffrey Rosen writes in an op-ed for the NYT that if elected, Senator Obama will be the first civil libertarian President of the US. One of the reasons I support Senator Obama is because of his efforts to reduce government power enabled by the PATRIOT Act. Senator Obama was a Constitutional Law teacher at the University of Chicago as well as a civil rights attorney, so excess Government power should be kept under check by a President Obama.
The Rosen article is also timely; recently, I saw a blog comment on that compared Senator Obama to - Adolf Hitler! "Good speaker, mobilized the nation... [all to wage war and cause the Holocaust]!" Or words to that effect. To start with, this comment came at the end of a long exchange between a Clinton supporter and some Obama backers (including yours truly). Proves Godwin's Law! But while the comparison may have been applicable on the surface, in reality that ignores the fact that Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and other great speakers have used their oratorical gifts for good, noble causes.

Another article, on Rasmussen, talks about how the conventional concept of red and blue states (or the United States of Canada and Jesus Land!) may not hold this November. I have written earlier about polls that show Senator Obama winning currently-red states like Colorado and Nevada. Other polls have also shown Senator Obama beating Senator McCain in Virginia and Iowa (which went to President Bush in 2004), while Senator McCain would win these two states against Senator Clinton. In the interests of fairness, a recent Rasmussen poll shows Senator Clinton beating Senator McCain in New Jersey, while Senators McCain and Obama are tied. However, in addition to the four states - Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Iowa - I believe the Democrats could bring very-red Kansas into play if Democratic Kansas Governor Kathleen Sibelius were to be the VP nominee. Governor Sibelius has backed Senator Obama; further, if Senator Clinton becomes the Presidential nominee, another woman on the ticket is highly unlikely (maybe sexist, but true). On balance, I think Senator Obama's candidacy would bring more states into the Democratic fold than he might lose.

Senator Clinton recently released a "red phone" ad (similar to an ad Walter Mondale released in 1984 against Gary Hart). Howard Kurtz at WaPo does a concise analysis of the ad and its history. Basically, the ad tries to make voters decide which President they would be safer under - some (including moi) would call that an ad that tries to gain votes through fear, though predictably the Clinton campaign does not. [UPDATE] Three things:
- Senator Clinton herself has no directly-relevant, personal experience in the "3 AM phone call" situations. This was palpably obvious when in a conference call with the Clinton campaign and other reporters, John Dickerson of Slate asked what similar situations Senator Clinton herself had been involved in. There was a long pause before Mark Penn, Senator Clinton's chief strategist, mentioned Senator Clinton's "work on the Armed Services Committee."
- Back in 2004, while campaigning for Senator John Kerry, President Clinton mentioned one of "Clinton's laws of politics" - that voters should vote for the candidate who makes one think and hope (yes, that word again!), not the candidate who tries to play on one's fears. Oh, the delicious irony!
- SlateV has a great "voter response" piece showing the reactions of Clinton-supporters, Obama-backers, and undecideds to the ad.

To end, here's a WaPo article that talks about the split in the female vote - poor women going for Senator Clinton, while their well-off sisters line with Senator Obama. And another WaPo article describing a citizen's movement in Delhi, India - started by the Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit to allow ordinary citizens to hold the administration responsible. Not quite about the Democratic primaries, but about democracy, and possibly another example of a politician trying to get people really involved in government.

On to March 4!

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