Monday, June 30, 2008
I wonder if support for Clark has increased as a result of his appearance on Face the Nation earlier today (I suppose technically yesterday), where he said that Senator McCain's military service does not make him qualified to be President. I don't think that is a good line of attack against a war hero, what ever its merits.
But there are other issues that I have with Wes Clark as well - I don't think he did well in the 2004 Democratic Presidential nomination race, which was the only election he has participated in (AFAIK). I am also not sure he has come out with great policy ideas, and I am not sure about his position on the Iraq War. Here's a WaPo column he penned in 2005, and a Democracy Now! interview with the UK Independent's Robert Fisk. I wonder if support for him as Obama's VP is based more on his support for Clinton (as a "unity" ticket) and perhaps to make up for Obama's apparent lack of war/national security experience.
Now, IMO if the VP is not Hillary Clinton, I'd prefer that spot to be filled by AZ Governor Janet Napolitano, or Governor Sibelius. If people still want someone with military experience - then instead of Wes Clark, what about General Anthony Zinni? He's had a distinguished career, and has written well-received books. He apparently didn't believe in or support the Iraq War - here's a Zinni speech in 2002; and a Meet the Press interview in 2007, which mentions his pre-war quote that "these guys [Dick Cheney et al.] don't understand what they're getting into." The same Meet the Press interview has this great Zinni rebuttal to McCain's Surge:
"What has disappointed me is there hasn’t been this debate on the strategy, on the policy, a regional strategy and policy, let alone an Iraq policy. We’re, we’re debating the tactics. The surge is a tactic. In what context is the surge? You can make an argument for a surge if you were going to withdraw, to cover the withdrawal, for example, or to contain, to reposition forces or to re-engage in a different way and a stronger way. And why we got caught up in the tactical debate, in my mind, is an indication that we don’t understand what we want to do. What should our Middle East policy be? What should our policy be in terms of Iraq and, and the war against the extremists out there or the conflict against extremists? We seem to be strategically adrift, in my view."
Though Zinni said in that MTP interview that he would not accept a VP offer, I think it'd be worth making. After all, he apparently also thinks about other issues like climate change, at least in terms of how it would affect US national security.
So - if not Hillary Clinton, I'd prefer Janet Napolitano; if not Napolitano, maybe Kathleen Sibelius; if not, then Anthony Zinni. But please, not Wes Clark, or Jim Webb.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
That is an excellent point - I have had the feeling that Senator McCain scorns Senator Obama. This is apparent in McCain's recent comments that Obama has done well for "a young man with very little experience." [Does McCain want to point out that Obama is much younger? link, link] Besides, experience doesn't exactly translate to good judgment (see Rumsfeld, Don; Cheney, Dick) or electoral smarts (see Clinton, Hillary); in both cases, Obama did better. And as Alan Ehrenhalt writes in Newsweek, Obama does have experience - just a different kind, in state legislature (something Hillarycrats refused to see, and apparently neither does McCain).
In other news, Rebecca Traister of Salon lists 12 reasons why Hillarycrats are mad. Some of these make sense - #1, 2, 8, 9, 11 (except for Geraldine Ferraro!) Some are just irrational; #6: everybody knew - back in 2007 - that FL/MI would not count, and nobody stopped Clinton from taking on sexism like Obama did racism; blaming Howard Dean makes little sense. #10: with the track record of brokered conventions being that the particular Party's nominee lost, would they rather Clinton maybe get the nomination and for sure, lose?
Thankfully, as Traister writes, many Hillarycrats also like Obama (enough!) to support him; otherwise Obama would be polling at 30% or so, not the 50% or so of current polls.
As for Traister's #3 - Hillarycrats will be mad if Obama picks a woman not-named-Clinton as his VP - that's exactly why I suggest Governor Napolitano.
Friday, June 13, 2008
"It is sobering to think that habeas hangs by a single vote in the Supreme Court of the United States — a reminder that the composition of the court could depend on the outcome of this year’s presidential election. The ruling is a major victory for civil liberties — but a timely reminder of how fragile they are."
As Jeffrey Rosen wrote in an NYT op-ed earlier, Senator Obama may well become the first civil libertarian President. Rosen's similar TNR article (subscription required, via Rojas at The Crossed Pond) starts off:
"If Barack Obama were to win the Democratic nomination and the White House, he would be, among other things, our first civil libertarian president. This is clear not just from his lifetime rating on the ACLU's scorecard (82 percent compared to John McCain's 25 percent). It is clear from the fact that civil liberties have been among his most passionate interests--as a constitutional law professor, state legislator, and senator. On the campaign trail, he has been unapologetic about these enthusiasms. In New Hampshire, I heard him end a rousing stump speech by promising the cheering crowd, "We will close Guantánamo, we will restore habeas corpus, we will have a president who will respect and obey the Constitution." Has a political consultant ever urged a candidate to brandish habeas corpus?"
Rojas, a self-described McCain supporter, takes off from Rosen's TNR article to say Obama is better than McCain on civil liberties, and that libertarian conservatives must be prepared to support Obama on this issue. Rojas, "as a very rigid constructionist and skeptic of judicial authority," suggests civil liberties protections need a mass movement and not judicial intervention - which an Obama presidency is poised to do.
Here's Senator Obama on the PATRIOT Act Reauthorization (2006), his campaign platform on civil rights (which points out, as the first problem, that women, and particularly minority women, make much less than men for the same work), and selected candidates on civil rights.
Finally, Cass Sunstein decribes Obama as a "visionary minimalist" (subscription required, I think). Will read and expand on the Sunstein and Rosen articles later.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
However, it seems the ad is airing in the usual places - CNN/MSNBC, The Daily Show, and Bravo. Apparently, Bravo shows popular among "younger viewers, especially women." But these folks already know McCain = Bush! Shouldn't the ad get play elsewhere, so Cusack's star-power is effectively utilized?
Here's my take on the article, that started off as a response to Ciccina's post but has been considerably expanded:
[Folks] can keep yelling "favoritism! sexism!" all [they] want - but a simple Google search reveals this is old news. For example, see this Reno Gazette-Journal article in August 2007, and this WaPo FactChecker in October 2007.
As far as I can remember, Senator Obama has always said that federal lobbyists cannot contribute financially to his campaign (WaPo calls that technically correct) - and Obama hasn't claimed to be pristine (USA Today, via the WaPo article):
"I have a bunch of friends who were state lobbyists. The fact of the matter is ... I played poker with them, so I don't think that lobbyists are evil," said the first-term Illinois senator. "I just think they've got an agenda and you got to be clear about that, and not pretend that they don't."
<snipped - RS>
Obama said Thursday he was not being hypocritical.
"I haven't gone around blasting Hillary" for accepting lobbyist money, Obama said in a 20-minute interview after touring the popular Iowa state fair with his wife and two young children. "What I said is she doesn't recognize the problem."
"My argument is not that we're perfect. I suffer from the same original sin of all politicians, which is we've got to raise money," Obama said. "But my argument has been and will continue to be that the disproportionate influence of lobbyists and special interest is a problem in Washington (and) in state capitals."
"The argument is not that I'm pristine, because I'm swimming in the same muddy water," Obama said. "The argument is that I know it's muddy and I want to clean it up."
[emphasis added - RS]
As for endorsements - well, there ain't much that can be done about that, and when these lobbyists also happen to be prominent public figures who were elected at some point.... The most prominent example in recent times (of public figures turned lobbyists, not of Obama-endorsers!) is ex-Senator Trent Lott (R-MS), who apparently quit his Senate post early to avoid a new law that prohibits elected officials from lobbying for two years after leaving office (by quitting early, Lott has to avoid lobbying for only one year) - see confirmation of this plan here.
Senator Obama, along with Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), had a major role in getting that new ethics reform passed. Yes, that's a BarackObama.com page, but the NYT agrees, and here's a Senator Feingold page. PolitiFact from the St Petersburg Times/CQ says his claims on this issue are Half-True, but gives him credit for advocating with (egads!) Republicans for stronger rules on earmarks disclosures and emboldening other Democrats to vote for the Republican amendment and for a collaborative provision (with Senator Feingold). Here's what Obama plans to do on this front (which includes an independent counsel measure that failed to pass with the Senate bill) - and no, that ain't a BarackObama.com page.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
As part of the McCain-selling, Lieberman keeps attacking Senator Obama, to the extent that Obama apparently took Lieberman aside in the Senate recently to discuss Lieberman's reported weak denials of the false "Obama's a Muslim" rumors (Newsweek; via Blogrunner/Jake Tapper).
If true - that Lieberman offers the same weak denials of these false rumors as Senator Clinton - that further proves that Lieberman is just caucusing with the Democrats (a) to keep the Chairmanship privileges of the Homeland Security Committee; (b) because he has no sense of gratitude/shame (your pick). Per TPM, the Lieberman campaign back in 2006 "begged" Senator Obama to endorse Lieberman in the Democratic primary for the Connecticut Senate seat, after anti-war Ned Lamont entered the race. And anti-war Obama did - presumably because Lieberman was his "mentor" in the Senate. However, Lieberman lost the primary; per Kos and TPM, Obama didn't help Lamont much beyond an endorsement, a fund-raising e-mail sent out to a paltry 225-people in CT and $5000; and Lieberman went on to win the CT Senate seat.
Back in 2000, Lieberman - even while running as Gore/Lieberman for the White House - ran for the CT Senate seat. I thought this was a very bad idea - running for (Vice)-President is a full-time occupation as it is, without the added distraction of fighting for a Senate seat. Perhaps Lieberman wanted to make sure he had at least one elected position irrespective of the Presidential election - which does not inspire much confidence in his commitment to the Democratic Presidential ticket in 2000.
So... I would call Lieberman something very similar to Trader Joe, but surely one cannot call a US Senator that, can one?
And by the way - I am disappointed Obama didn't do more to help Lamont. Maybe that was Obama's way of repaying his mentor. At least, he didn't actively help Lieberman, unlike Mary Landrieu (D-LA).
Monday, June 9, 2008
Senator Obama has launched his VP search with a 3-member committee comprising eternal Democratic VP-vetter Jim Johnson (one-time CEO of Fannie Mae), Eric Holder (ex-Deputy US AG) and Caroline Kennedy. Hopefully Jim Johnson, he who picked Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 (who was dogged by questions about her husband's taxes), will do a better job now... I wonder if Caroline Kennedy will pull a Cheney and nominate herself?! That would be one good-looking Democratic ticket :-)
My earliest memories of a conversation with an American about politics was speculation about President Clinton - Hillary Clinton. This was back in 2000, in the last months of the Bush v. Gore Presidential campaign. My room-mate, an American woman and a Republican from Virginia (who said "Cheney? people love him!"), said Americans were probably not ready for a woman POTUS. I was rather surprised - after all, the US has been in existence for over 200 years! Thankfully, this year Senator Clinton put that question to rest. In fact, after Senator McCain transformed into a cookie-cutter Republican, I supported Senator Clinton (link) - I think it is high time the USA had a woman President. Even as late as Super Tuesday (Feb 5), I thought she had the most powerful theme - when she mentioned her mother, who was born when women could not vote, and was now seeing her daughter on the verge of becoming the first woman POTUS:
"And I want to thank all my friends and family, particularly my mother, who was born before women could vote and is watching her daughter on this stage tonight."
But as the campaign continued, I decided - a woman, yes, but not this woman, who came to epitomize the status quo. And Senator Obama offered freshness, honesty, and a dramatic change from politics-as-usual. Still - I hope the Democratic VP nominee this year is a woman - and/or a woman becomes POTUS in 2016 (after two Obama terms!)
As for the current campaign, Senator Obama has a lot of work ahead of him - as many Hillarycrats (Senator Clinton's supporters) are mad. Despite Senator Clinton's strong endorsement of Senator Obama, sites like Hillaryis44 (who are still stuck in the '90s based on their photograph of First Lady Clinton rather than Senator Clinton) and groups like Party Unity, My Ass are filled with bile-spewing Hillarycrats who would rather vote McCain or otherwise enable a GOP Presidency in 2009 - all out of spite and against Senator Obama, he who stole the Democratic nomination.
Of course, this makes absolutely no sense. On the issues, Senator McCain is NOT someone Hillarycrats want elected as President - unless they would rather inflict another GOP Presidency on the rest of the USA (and the world) so Senator Clinton can run again in 2012. Further, Senator Obama has plenty of life experience, even if Senators Clinton and McCain have depicted him otherwise. Sure, Obama doesn't have much Washington, DC experience - but that's not necessarily a bad thing after the bitter partisan rancor of the last 15 years (besides, he has enough legislative experience passing contentious bills in Illinois). Finally, one could say that Senator Clinton was the victim of sexism and misogyny, as otherwise she would have won the Democratic nomination in a cakewalk the night of Feb 5. But despite any sexism/misogyny, Senator Clinton could still have won the nomination - simply by better fiscal responsibility within her campaign, and by contesting caucus states, even if the Clintons believed caucuses were undemocratic. Heck, even Mark Penn (in hindsight obviously) believes as much.
I would just like to end with a video - if folks think Either Male Candidate doesn't matter, or that Senator Obama has willingly/silently benefited from sexism and misogyny (despite the fact that he had to fight his own battles against racism and false allegations about his religious beliefs, while Senator Clinton herself seemed in two minds whether to openly speak about sexism), witness what sort of candidate Hillarycrats will be putting in the Oval Office by either not supporting Senator Obama or actively campaigning against him:
Good night, and good luck.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Reed generally writes well, but obviously this post is written by a Clinton partisan, not with an objective eye. Of course, I am not free of bias either - I am an Obama partisan. But Reed forgets that Senator Clinton started as the inevitable, experienced, establishment candidate (witness her early lead in superdelegate support), and morphed into the populist, NAFTA-hating, whisky shot-downing, gun-toting duck hunter later - in time for the Ohio and Pennsylvania primaries, when her "experience/Ready-on-Day-One" message was not working.
As for her being the most intentionally misread famous person in America, I say this: Senator Clinton was supposed to be the most prepared, on-message candidate. Ready on Day One, mistake-free as the Presidency is not for on-the-job training. And yet, here's a list of gaffes that plagued her campaign:
1. Senator Clinton: Obama a Muslim rumor not true "as far as I know." [This, after two Clinton Iowa staffers were caught spreading such rumor-filled e-mails - apparently only to show others how dirty politics was getting; see #7.] Such a sterling rebuttal of the false and malicious rumor!
2. Senator Clinton: "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." [emphasis mine]
3. President Clinton: "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88." [In 1988, the Rev. won primaries only in states with large African-American populations (with the exception of PR). The 4 other states he won, including SC, were caucuses.]
4. Geraldine Ferraro: Senator Obama is very lucky (and winning) because he is a Black man. [Senator Clinton's wins in OH, PA, KY, WV and likely others were partly fueled by Whites - up to 1 out of 5 voters - who openly said race was an important factor in their decision to vote for her.]
5. Senator Clinton: Senator Obama has not crossed the commander-in-chief threshold and does not have a lifetime of experience - unlike herself and Senator McCain. [used in a GOP ad; violates President Reagan's Eleventh Commandment!]
6. Senator Clinton/surrogates: Caucuses disenfranchise voters, are undemocratic, and caucus delegates should be counted separately from "elected delegates," i.e. delegates from primaries. This after a major caucus loss just makes them look a sore loser, and ignoring subsequent caucus states only makes (and did make) the situation worse. This also made superdelegates from caucus states like Iowa unhappy.
7. Her surrogates: Bill Sheehan (NH campaign co-chairman) and Robert Johnson, BET founder/Clintonite, bring up Senator Obama's candid admissions of youthful drug experimentation; Sheehan suggests Obama might be painted as a drug dealer by the GOP. [This video of Johnson's comments, and CNN analysis of the lame cover-up, show it better.]
8. Senator Clinton: I was under sniper fire... "that is what happened." [aka Bosnia-gate (video).]
And I haven't brought up her flip-flop on NAFTA, assasination-gate, or her virtually offering Senator Obama a pillow during a debate and later saying (after a debate pitting the moderators and Senator Clinton against Senator Obama) that if Senator Obama can't take the heat, he should get out of the kitchen.
Sorry, Reed (and other Clintonites/istas). You should also watch this great video by The Jed Report, which covers some of these incidents:
As Melinda Henneberger at The XX Factor on Slate.com pointed out, Senator Clinton is either gaffe-prone, or well-prepared, "Ready on Day One" - and each "gaffe" above was calculated. She can't be both.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Of course, there are problems - Senator Clinton's own remarks are already being used in GOP ads; some Independents as well as some Democrats may vote against a Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton train. I consider the first the more serious problem.
So a question is - if not Senator Clinton, then who? Any woman VP would be seen as a "not-Hillary" attempt at wooing women voters. So there has to be good reason to choose a woman VP. I thought Kansas Governor Kathleen Sibelius would be a good choice - but Kansas may be too red. On the other hand - two-term Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano? Of course, Senator McCain's from Arizona as well. But that's precisely the point - the sheer audacity of the pick would show that the Democrats are taking the fight to Senator McCain's homeground. With Arizonians on both major party tickets, there's less of a "favorite progeny" factor. Senator McCain would have to spend time and money defending a "given" state, further stretching his resources (considerably lower, for sure, than Senator Obama's). And IMHO, that's a good compelling reason to have a Democratic VP pick who happens to be a woman not named Clinton.
Coda: Here are some interesting reads, all via RCP:
Amy Sullivan at Time says Senator Clinton's candidacy (likely) failed because she did not win over 60% of the female vote. The over-65 crowd voted overwhelmingly for Senator Clinton; younger women went for Senator Obama; but the tie-breaker, middle-aged women, split evenly. She describes "optimist feminists" and "pessimist feminists" - the former not having to prove anything to others (a la Senator Amy Klobuchar), while the latter still feel sexism is all-pervasive, and figure that if Geraldine Ferraro ran in 1984 and Senator Clinton in 2008, the next serious female candidate will take another full generation. Senator Klobuchar backed Senator Obama.
Peggy Noonan, formerly a speech-writer for President Reagan and currently a columnist at WSJ, says Senator Clinton "lacked the grace to congratulate the victor" in her Tuesday night speech following the last primaries. Noonan also says America "dodged a bullet" by not having to put a Clinton back in the White House, as "Mrs. Clinton would have been a disaster as president... Mr Obama may lie, and Mr McCain may lie, but she would lie." Etc.
Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker was at Baruch College during the afore-mentioned Tuesday night speech, and says in that setting, the speech did not come off as badly as some bloggers and commentators have made it out to be. He writes:
"I’m sure that this speech looked confrontational and intransigent on television in ways that it just didn’t in the hall, inside the bubble. In the hall, you don’t see the speaker in closeup. You see her in the distance, in the midst of a crowd. The effect is communal, not egotistic. There are no replays of selected highlights, no panels of experts. You’re left with a mood, and the mood was calm.
So I felt a certain relief, as did other Obama supporters in the room with whom I spoke."
But he also points out that on later reflection, Senator Clinton's congratulatory words for Senator Obama could just as well have been said by the victor for the loser, even though Senator Obama had won the primary race. He also does some math (in hindsight) that shows Senator Clinton was conflating the popular vote tally to give the appearance that she had won far more popular votes than Senator Obama; at best, Hertzberg says, the popular vote race is a tie.
Finally, Clinton advisor Gene Sperling says Senator McCain is the "Master Economic Flip-Flopper."
[I must admit I did not watch Senator Clinton's speech; I was out grocery-shopping and barely made it for Senator Obama's speech.]
This post will be largely a collection of links. I started this in May, and due to some Blogger/browser editing issues, bumped it up... Just as well.
Senator Clinton has lately been suggesting that sexism is keeping her from winning the Democratic nomination, e.g. hear this WaPo interview.
Before this interview, Marie Cocco wrote about misogyny this primary season.
Megan McArdle @ The Atlantic writes about the "privilege olympics" between sexism and racism (and comes down on the side of sexism). McArdle and Daniel Drezner talk about sexism hurting Senator Clinton as well as about women in leadership positions (I think the latter was more informative).
Here's Ciccina on sexism and misogyny (includes a link to an interesting study that shows a female version of the Bradley effect.)
Chris Mathews' Hardball takes on the sexism issue:
[Added 6/6] Andres Martinez over at Stumped on WaPo says Senator Clinton’s failure to capture the Democratic nomination was due to her campaigning as the inevitable nominee based on Brand Clinton (“dynastic arrogance”), rather than sexism.
[Added 6/7] Via Hanna Rosin at Slate.com's The XX Factor (am I glad I don't have cable):
[I shall keep updating with interesting articles I find. I have written earlier about sexism and racism here (I rant about Obama supporters being called sexist) and a little bit here (looking at a recent Quinnipac poll; the comments section has a more interesting discussion with Ciccina).]
Sunday, June 1, 2008
For these people, a timely reminder in the form of this video featuring Douglas Feith, known as one of the architects of the Iraq War (via Josh Marshall):
Still think Either Male Candidate doesn't matter?