when a politician tells the truth.
To cover the Obama race speech, we may need a second kind of Kinsley Gaffe, call it KG II, that would apply to the trouble generated
when a politican says what he or she actually thinks (whether or not it's the truth).
That is to say, whatever the result of Obama's race speech, it's hard to conclude he didn't honestly say what he believes. He believes, among other things: 1) black churches like Jeremiah Wright's are too victim-oriented; 2) it's offensively prejudiced to be wary of black men on the street.
He's also 3) reluctant to think white resentments over welfare and affirmative action are justified as objections to welfare and affirmative action, and 4) prefers to see them as expressions of "legitimate" frustration over uncertain living standards.
Candor is surely the necessary starting point for a useful national conversation on race (the one that Obama didn't seem to want to have until his pastor got him in political hot water). One side says, "You're scared of young black men." The other side says, "Yes, and here's why." Progress becomes possible. One side says, "You get all these breaks just because of your race." The other side says ,"We have to be twice as as good to get the same respect." If you don't ever have the argument you probably can't get over the argument.
But candor isn't a sufficient--or maybe even necessary--quality in a President. That depends more on what you think about what Obama thinks.
For myself, I tend to agree with Obama's point 1), the passage that righty impressed Abigail Thernstrom. But I disagree with 2), and suspect a lot of other "typical" voters may also (and not like to be lectured about it). More important, on (3) and (4), it's hard to believe we're about to nominate a Democrat who doesn't acknowledge the lesson of the 1990s--that voters are worried about issues like welfare because they are worried about welfare, not because "welfare" is a surrogate for "lack of national health insurance." Can a Dem who hasn't learned that lesson can be elected in a two-candidate general election? That's no longer unthinkable, but it would require not only that the old Carter-Ford-Reagan-Clinton issues like welfare, crime, etc. recede into the background (replaced by Iraq and the economy). It would also require Republicans who are too stupid to find a way to bring them back into the foreground.
For those Democrats worried about Obama's seemingly old-fashioned liberalism--sorry, progressivism!-- the great hope has been that of course he'll pivot and turn toward the reformist, Clintonian center once he's got the nomination in hand. But what if The Pivot never happens (as David Frum, for one, has predicted)? That's a big issue--maybe the big issue--raised by Obama's "race" address. That's a big--maybe main--reason that it's a gaffe. Obama's honesty is bracing. But he honestly doesn't seem to be the sort of neoliberal politician who wins national elections. ... 2:17 A.M. link
The 'Bradley Effect' is Back? Gallup's national tracking poll has Obama retaking the lead over Hillary after bottoming out on the day of his big race speech. Rasmussen's robo-poll, on the other hand, shows Obama losing ground since last Tuesday. True, even Rasmussen doesn't seem to be putting a lot of emphasis on his survey's 6-point shift. But isn't this week's primary race exactly the sort of environment--i.e.., the issue of race is in the air--when robo-polling is supposed to have an advantage over the conventional human telephone polling used by Gallup? Voters wary of looking like bigots to a live operator--'and why didn't you like Obama's plea for mutual for understanding that all the editorial pages liked?'--might lie about their opinions, a phenomenon known as the Bradley Effect. But they might be more willing to tell the truth to a machine. ...
P.S.: I take no position on this issue. I say wait for Pennsylvania. I've previously argued that the robo-pollers' truth-divining advantage might well have disappeared because, with all the computers now tracking expenditures and generating credit ratings, etc.--people are scared to tell the truth to machines too. But this theory was dismissed by Pollster.com'sMark Blumenthal as lacking "supportive evidence." Picky! But maybe Blumenthal's right, in which case Obama should be worried. ...
P.P.S.: Of course, the 'Bradley Effect' could be inflating Obama's numbers in both the Gallup and Rasmussen polls to at least some extent, in which case Obama should be very worried. ...
Backfill: Blumenthal posted on another bad-for-Barack robo-poll (Survey USA) on Friday, but needs to update! ...
Three. Trend! ....
Blumenthal responds: Mystery Pollster notes that if you average poll results since the Wright controversy broke on the 14th, Obama does slightly better in Rasmussen's robo-poll (where he's a point above Hillary on average) than in Gallup's regular poll (where he's two points down on average). But the two polls aren't that different. ... kf: But if you look at the trend since Obama's 3/18 speech--which is what arguably charged the campaign with high-minded condemnation of racism and MSM sympathy for Obama of the sort that might produce a Bradley Effect--Obama gains 6 points in Gallup and loses 6 in Rasmussen through last Friday (and he's since lost one more on Rasmussen). That seems like a non-small difference. ... 3/25 Update: Obama has now lost a net of 8 points on Rasmussen since the 18th, and 11 points since the 14th. On Gallup, he's gained several points. ... 11:10 P.M. link
Saturday, March 22, 2008
A job for Eliot!... 1:44 P.M.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Sniper Fire: Hillary appears to have been totally busted on her claim of a dangerous landing during her 1996 Balkans trip.WaPo has photos and video. ... P.S.: Always trust content from Sinbad. ... 11:12 A.M.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Abby Thernstrom liked Obama's race speech for its anti-black-victim-mentality passages. I think she's a bit of a cheap date in that respect, but maybe I'm being too expensive. If only he'd left out the bogus parallel with "white resentments." ... In fact, wouldn't the best parallel to a black victim mentaility be the populist victim mentality that Bob Shrum always seeks to nurture--and, to a certain extent, that Obama seeks to nurture in this very speech with his talk about how the "real culprits of the middle class squeeze" are
a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests ...
I would tend to blame ... increasing returns to skill produced by trade and technological change! They are hard to personify and demonize--they're just problematic trends we all need to confront. But the need to demonize is the problem with a victim mentality, isn't it? ...
Update: Marc Ambinder gives Obama credit for saying "white resentments ... are grounded in legitimate concerns." The problem is he said that only after the populist passage cited above. The clear implication was not that resentment about welfare and affirmative action was "legitimate," but that these resentments were actually misguided symptoms of the legitimate anxiety, which would be anxiety over "stagnant wages," etc. caused by "corporate ... greed" etc.. ... If you think concern over welfare and affirmative action has an independent, legitimate basis apart from anxieties about the "middle class squeeze," it's highly condescending for Obama to tell whites (and similarly disposed blacks, for that matter) that, in effect, that they suffer from false consciousness--'I know you're really concerned about economics and declining wages and in your anxiety you let yourself be distracted into blaming welfare and affirmative action.' But that's what he says, as I read it and heard it. (Obama does allow that concern over crime is in itself legitimate, but spoils this 1992-era insight when he disses his grandmother--a "typical white person," he tells us today--for worrying about getting mugged.) ... 4:38 P.M. link
Obama supporter John Kerry gave an interview with a local N.H. paper, reports NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli. In it, Kerry said the color of Obama's skin makes him uniquely qualified for president and even reach out to the moderate Islam world. During an interview with the New Bedford Standard Times, portions of which were posted on YouTube, John Kerry says bluntly that Barack Obama has the potential to "bridge the divide in religious extremism" because he is black.
"It would be such an affirmation of who we say we are as a people if we can elect an African American president, a young leader who is obviously a visionary and got an ability to inspire people," Kerry said. "It will give us an ability to talk to those countries, to in some cases go around their dictator leaders to the people and inspire the people in ways that we can't otherwise."
The Massachusetts senator said Obama has an ability to perhaps even empower moderate Islam "to be able to stand up against the racial misinterpretation of a legitimate religion." Asked by a reporter what gave Obama the credibility to do so, Kerry said, "Because he's African American. Because he's a black man, who has come from a place of oppression and repression through the years in our own country. [E.A.]
I don't think Kerry's argument is crazy at all. I just don't think the Obama campaign can then sneer at Geraldine Ferraro for saying the same thing--i.e., that Obama is where he is because voters are "caught up" in the Kerry argument. Obama's camp can't have it both ways--arguing we should vote for him "[b]ecause he's a black man" and then arguing it's racist to say being black has helped his candidacy. ... 1:51 P.M. link
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
The finely tuned affirmative action "goals" ("quotas are prohibited"!) of the California Democratic delegation to the party's August convention reminds me of Michael Kinsley's riff on the 1984 Democratic requirement of "fair and equitable participation of ... persons of all sexual preference consistent with their proportional representation in the party.":
Thirteen who prefer the lights on and thirty-seven who prefer the lights off. ...
Fourteen a cigarette afterward, ten a long talk, nine an old movie on TV, eight a shower, six chocolate-chip ice cream, three cab fare homw.
Fifty who prefer no sex at all to any cuts in Social Security.
P.S.: Part of an occasional series for whippersnappers who think everything about Democratic politics has changed since 1984. No it hasn't. ...[Tks. to JH] 10:42 P.M.
Don't Let Caffeine Do This To You: A more ... intense discussion of Obama's speech. The problem with Obama's choice of churches isn'tRev. Jeremiah Wright's controversial (e.g., "damn America") statements. ... P.S.: I thought I might have gone overboard, in a might-as-well-be-hung-for-a-sheep kind of way, when I said Obama's big race speech was "a disaster." But maybe not. ... [Tks to reader C.M.] 10:21 P.M.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
We Can't Ignore Race, So Let's Ignore Race: Some (tentative!) reactions to Obama's somewhat arid talk--which a) probably advanced the discussion of racial issues, b) gave me a much better (and basically appealing) idea of where Obama is coming from, but c) didn't particularly advance his case to be President--especially, I fear among doubting white, male, non-college, etc. voters:
Obama gives Archie Bunker a chance to tune out:The speech starts by talking about slavery. Yikes. Why are we talking about slavery? We know about slavery. We want to know why Obama picked his paranoid pastor! One of the troubles with African-American pastors like Wright, after all, is what seems to be an excessive emphasis on the racial sins burdens of the past. The last thing we want from Obama is more talk of slavery.
Finally in paragraph six or so, the speech starts again on a better note. ("I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas.")
Troublesome Equivalence #1:
On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action ... On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language ....
It won't do much to reassure voters worried about affirmative action, or worried that Obama is unqualified, to have their concerns lumped with Wright's "offensive words."
Two little Souljahs, too late? Finally, around Paragraph 13, a sentence that seems to recognize the problem:
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. ... Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America;
As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity;
Doesn't Obama mean Rev. Wright's comments were 'not only divisive but wrong,' rather than the other way around? Isn't it worse to be wrong than "divisive"? Is unity the overriding virtue for Obama?
The only other Souljah-esque passages I picked up were a half-sentence on welfare [E.A.]:
A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families - a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened.
Also, a crucial but non-specific allusion to the way black anger "keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition," and an anti-victim paragraph about
taking full responsibility for own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.
All good, but Obama can be very pointed and specific when he wants to be (e.g. "purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap"). Here he keeps the anti-victim language at a muffled level of high generality. Obama doesn't talk about never-married mothers, for example, or non-marrying non-working fathers--all things Bill Clinton was able to mention. Obama talks about general "responsibility" and a failure to spend time reading. (Also note that it's not necessarily a violation of liberal orthodoxy to say that welfare policies worsened the black family problem--many liberals lamented that welfare checks went mainly to mothers, supplanting the role of fathers. The liberal solution, though, was to put the fathers on welfare too.)
Troublesome Equivalence II
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street .... [E.A.]
The most disastrous sentence in the speech. If Obama's saying that those who fear young black men on the street are racists, the equivalents of Rev. Wright in offensiveness, then he's just insulted a whole lof ot people. If he loses the votes of everyone who fears young black men, he loses the election. People fear black men on the street--as even Jesse Jackson once momentarily admitted--because they cause a wildly disproportionate share of street crime. Does Obama want to be the candidate who says that thought is verboten?
Later, he says:
So when [whites] are told ... that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.
Who would tell them such a thing? Obama, a dozen paragraphs earlier, dissing his own grandmother.
In general. Obama's explanations of black anger seem intimate and respectful. His explanations of white anger seem distant and condescending. ("They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away ....") Unfortunately for him, it's white votes he needs.
Troublesome Equivalence III**: Drawing his central parallel between often-counterproductive black anger and white anger, Obama declares:
Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.
Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many ...
Wait. I thought Obama just told us that welfare exacerbated the decline of the black family. So white "anger over welfare" wasn't misdirected. It was directed toward what Obama himself fingers as a prime source of the black-white disparity. And if a culture of broken homes tends to produce more crime, it was also directed at a prime cause of urban disorder, the impoverishment of working class-white neighborhoods, and of white flight. In other words, it was directed at a "real culprit," not a phony culprit. Is Obama too locked into standard left "welfare is a scapegoat" ideology to admit this? If so, Bill Clinton had more "nuance" and "complexity." Obama's taking us back to 1991.
Can't we ignore race, please?
But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now.
Actually, a lot of voters supported Obama because they'd kind of like to ignore race, you know? Wasn't the point of his celebrated South Carolina victory speech that thinking along racial lines was one of the "habits that prevent us from being who we want to be as a nation"? That's the whole point of Obama, from one perspective.
These voters resent the cropping up of Rev. Wright because he represents the thrusting of race back to the center of the campaign. By lecturing them on the centrality and unavoidability of race, Obama seems to be embracing Wright's error and undermining at least one basis for his appeal. (He gets into trouble with his wacky pastor andnow he's challenging us on race?)
Fortunately, the we-cannot-ignore-race stand is a fraud. What's Obama's alternative?
Walk about the crumbling schools ... talk about ... the lines at the emergency rooms ... the shuttered mills ... the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life.
In other words, the alternative to ignoring race is ...to ignore race and talk about economics.
Obama's not a race man after all. Just a standard old fashioned doctrinaire blacks-and-whites-together-for-health-care progressive. One achievement of the speech is that it makes this leftish orthodoxy come as a relief.
P.S.: Excellent closing anecdote also helped. Would have been better 15 minutes sooner! ...
**--I'm not even getting into the parallel Obama draws between Rev. Wright and Geraldine Ferraro--Troublesome Equivalence IV. Whatever you think of the equation of the two (it's absurd!) how un-strategic is it for Obama to require white voters to disagree with Ferraro in order to agree with Obama? 4:40 P.M. link
Early Souljah Is Like Yeast! In his Big Race Speech today, I hope Obama remembers the lesson of his breakthrough 2004 convention keynote address, which is a) say something conservative and anti-PC sounding; b) say it strongly and c) say it early. After that, you'll have the doubters on your side and you can more or less be as doctrinaire-left as you want. But the longer you wait to say something heterodox, the more heterodox you have to be to have the same effect.
In Obama's 2004 speech, the Early Souljah moment that made it work came about a third of the way in:
... children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. [E.A.]
Voters, including but not limited to the crucial white males and independents, heard that hard, unhedged dis of dysfunctional ghetto-poor identity culture--it pretty clearly isn't whites doing the slandering Obama's rejecting--and decided they liked this guy. A good way to introduce yourself as a different kind of African-American politician! After that, Obama could even sell them John Kerry.
Why do I worry Obama's forgotten this lesson?
P.S.: There are plenty of potential Souljahs still around: Race preferences. Out-of-wedlock births. Three strike laws! But most of all the victim mentality that tells African Americans (in the fashion of Rev. Wright's most infamous sermons) that the important forces shaping their lives are the evil actions of others, of other races. ...
P.P.S.: I've stolen the Early Souljah idea from an analysis I read the week of Obama's 2004 speech--I forget who wrote it. 1:32 A.M. link
Monday, March 17, 2008
Paging Rush ... : McCain seems to say Republicans lost Hastert's House seat because of the "very strong anti-iimmigrant rhetoric" of GOP candidate Jim Oberweis. ... P.S.: On Hannity, McCain says:
I would have the border state governors certify that their borders are secure. Americans will trust the border state governors. They won't trust us in Washington. That's the message. [E.A.]
Do you trust the border state governors? I don't trust the border state governors. Does McCain really think "Americans" will? He must. Remember, this isn't a gimmick designed to get him through the election--to accomplish that, he only has to say he'll secure the borders first, period. This is a gimmick designed to let him shift to pushing for an illegal immigrant legalization bill shortly after he's actually elected. He wouldn't bring it up at all unless that's what he planned to do. ... P.S.: Note that McCain again ducks Hannity's question on whether he'd "sign McCain-Kennedy today," lending credence to those who thought his apparent concession on the subject in the January Reagan library debate was a misstatement. ... 4:03 P.M. link
Maybach, kaput? Maybe the rich are not getting richer fast enough. Or maybe it was hideous. Or both. ... 3:37 P.M.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
"Obama Attended Hate America Sermon"-- Newsmax's Kessler: But not a sermon from the Greatest Hits collection. "[W]hite arrogance ... United States of White America"--sounds like one of Rev. Wright's more anodyne efforts. ... P.S.: The night is young. Obama is now at the mercy of any fellow congregant with a cell phone camera who can place Obama in the pews for, say, "God Damn America." ...
Update: Obama's campaign says he didn't attend Wright's church on the day (July 22, 2007) Kessler says he did. Commenters on Andrew Malcolm's blog claim Obama was at the La Raza event in Miami. Here's the speaking schedule. There's also video. Ball in Kessler's court! ...
More: Newsmax goes squishy on the date, saying
Our writer, Jim Davis ... stands by his story that during one of the services he attended during the month of July, Senator Obama was present and sat through the sermon given by Rev. Wright as described in the story. [E.A.]
HuffPo's Sam Stein notes that Obama was in Chicago on the morning of the 22d, though Obama's campaign says he didn't go to church. There are only so many Sundays in July, and presumably the Secret Service has records, so it should be possible to get to the bottom of this. ... Faster: Couldn't the Secret Service just be asked to release the dates of every sermon Obama attended in 2007 and 2008, saving Stein and others a lot of effort? ... 8:29 P.M. link
Just asking: What do the Democrats do when Obama loses Pennsylvania, not by 10 or 15 points but by 20 or 25 points? That seems to be the way things are headed. ... 2:43 P.M.
Obvious Non-Trivial Gotcha: These two Obama statements do not sit easily together!
1. "I don't think my church is actually particularly controversial."
2. "When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.
Let me repeat what I've said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn.
... And while Rev. Wright's statements have pained and angered me .... [E.A.]
If he was so agonized "at the beginning" of his campaign that he was thinking of leaving the church, why did he then reassure people during that campaign that his church wasn't controversial? ... [And is this a "new kind of politics."--ed Yes, that one's always there too!] ... Much more here. ... 2:25 P.M.
Speaking of [Richard] Holbrooke, I have it on good authority that, not only does the former UN ambassador believe that he'll be Secretary of State if either Clinton or Obama wins, he genuinely thinks he'll have a comparable position if McCain wins.
Friday, March 14, 2008
If it offends you I condemn it!
"All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn." -- Barack Obama
This seems to be the General Rule of Obama--if it's going to damage him, he condemns it! And rejects and denounces. Vehemently! The Rule would seem to apply to all past and future controversial statements--his campaign could get that sentence printed up on little laminated cards and hand them out to reporters, or include them after the statements of all Obama surrogates, like those fine-print 'void where prohibited' waivers. "Condemned if controversial."
Is it that easy? Noam Scheiber raise some questions, especially:
How plausible it is that Obama wouldn't have known about Wright's, er, greatest hits. Obama strongly implies he didn't know his pastor had a habit of giving nutty sermons up until the outset of his presidential campaign. Is that believable?
Obama also engaged in a bit of McCainly overdenial, Scheiber notes. Specifically, did he have to deny that he had "personally heard" Wright utter any of the "controversial" statements? Wouldn't it be smarter to say "I heard him say some wacky things on occasion but dismissed them as his own eccentric political views. Like many Americans, I don't agree with all my pastor's political preachings." Even if Obama doesn't remember hearing any of those particular controversial statements, what if he remembers wrong?
Remember, this is a controversy Obama had to know was coming since at least (by his own admission) the beginning of his campaign. Ideally, he'd have issued his HuffPo statement many months ago.** In any case, it's not something he had to hastily draft. Unless he's clueless, he's been working on it for a while.
**--The obvious analogy is to George Bush hoping he could skate through the 2000 election without having to address his DUI conviction--a bit of wishful thinking that arguably cost him a clear-cut victory, plunged the election into the Florida recount mess, and eerily foreshadowed his vastly more consequential wishful thinking on Iraq ...and immigration ... and Social Security. ... 10:04 P.M. link
They worship an awesome God in the blue states: Back in April of 2007, Tom Maguire wondered why the MSM wasn't making a big dea l of Jodi Kantor's NYT piece on Obama's wild Afrocentric pastor. Now we know: It's because the MSM was planning to make a big deal of it eleven months later, after the Democratic race was all but over, when there was nothing voters could really do to take the controversy into account, and when it was guaranteed to cause maximum unnecessary chaos in the nominating process! ... P.S.: If Edwards had done well, imagine when they would have brought up Rielle Hunter!. ... P.P.S.: Always trust content from kausfiles! ... 9:51 P.M.
"Is Fannie Mae Toast?"Barron's thinks maybe. The name of James Johnson--Mondale campaign manager, Kerry veep-vetter, Slate-basher, former King of Washington as chairman of both the Kennedy Center and the Brookings Institution, and kf nominee for Man Most Likely to Escape His Share of Blame in the ongoing FNMA disaster--is mentioned, shortly after the phrase "lush executive compensation." ... Backfill: David Smith explained back in January--using pop album covers and other cheap visual devices--how Fannie Mae's implicit government guarantee enabled it to take bigger gambles in the sub-prime market, creating "systemic" risk (not to mention the risk of a taxpayer bailout). ... 1:20 A.M. link
Thursday, March 13, 2008
"I have no way of knowing whether I was a beneficiary of affirmative action either in my admission to Harvard or my initial election to the Review. ... If I was, then I certainly am not ashamed of the fact, for I would argue that affirmative action is important precisely because those who benefit typically rise to the challenge when given an opportunity." [E.A.]
I cite this a) to save you $14.00 b) for those emailers who suggest Obama couldn't have benefitted from race-based preferences in his rise to the top at Harvard Law. ... P.S.: The affirmative action program at the Law Review is discussed here. ... P.P.S.: Obama did graduate magna cum laude,meaning he got very good grades while running the law review--and as far as I know there was no race preference program in grading. ... P.P.P.S.: Obama may not know whether he was a beneficiary of affirmative action. But there should be people who do know--people on the Harvard admissions department, and the editors of the law review who picked him after his first year. Have they been asked? ...
Backfill: Alert reader B. notes this from Ed Whelan at The Corner two months ago:
I'm reliably informed by one of Obama's colleagues on the board of editors of the Harvard Law Review that Obama told conservative editors that he did not check the box identifying himself as a minority on his law-school applications.
As Whelan notes, there would still have been plenty of ways for admissions officials to figure out Obama's background from his application. ... As Whelan also notes, if Obama had been completely comfortable with affirmative action, wouldn't he have proudly checked the box? ...
Update: Maguire questions the second half of Obama's quote--where he says "those who benefit typically rise to the challenge when given an opportunity." Maguire wants to know if there's actual evidence to back up the "typically." ... 11:46 P.M. link
Maybe, like me, you haven't followed the career of John Doggett, one of the great characters of the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings. But you kind of knew he would become a "talk-show host who embraced conservative thought," didn't you? ... [via Instapundit] 10:28 P.M.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
What does he offer? First and foremost: his face. Think of it as the most effective potential re-branding of the United States since Reagan. Such a re-branding is not trivial—it's central to an effective war strategy. The war on Islamist terror, after all, is two-pronged: a function of both hard power and soft power. We have seen the potential of hard power in removing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. We have also seen its inherent weaknesses in Iraq, and its profound limitations in winning a long war against radical Islam. The next president has to create a sophisticated and supple blend of soft and hard power to isolate the enemy, to fight where necessary, but also to create an ideological template that works to the West's advantage over the long haul. There is simply no other candidate with the potential of Obama to do this. Which is where his face comes in.
Consider this hypothetical. It's November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America's soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama's face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.
His face. Hello! Mrs. Ferraro? If one of the "formeost" things Obama offers voters is the "face of a brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia, etc." doesn't that mean "he would not be in this position if he were white"? If you like Obama because he might "rebrand" America to the world--well, he wouldn't accomplish that simply by having his election televised, as Sullivan suggests he would, if he were white, would he? Or think in purely domestic terms. If Obama were white, he wouldn't embody hopes of a post-racial future. Duh! That's part of his appeal. It seems obvious. Why does Obama dispute it? Why isn't Ferraro allowed to acknowledge it? Is it OK for Obama's "face" to appeal to egghead Atlantic subscribers but not ordinary Wyoming caucusers? Or was Sullivan being "offensive"" and "ridiculous" too?
I also think it's pretty clear that Sullivan-style logic is at the core what Ms. Ferraro meant when she said "[he] happens to be very lucky to be who he is" and that "the country is caught up in the concept" of his presidency. She's not arguing that he's where he is because black voters are caught up in identity politics--more the opposite, that white and black voters alike are caught up in the idea of ending identity politics. Nor does she does she seem to be arguing it's wrong to be at least temporarily "caught up" in this concept. But the concept wouldn't be there if Obama was white.
P.S.: Several normally canny commenters have taken issue with the idea that the Ferraro controversy hurts Obama. They suggest that, even if it loses him white male votes, what he needs now are superdelegates--and it will help turn disgusted superdelegates against Hillary. I don't know. Superdelegates are almost by definition political pros. Are they really going to turn against Hillary, and stay that way until August 25, just because they got ticked off by one of her surrogates yesterday? Skeptical conservative Democratic voters in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Indiana might not forget so easily, though--especially if the Obama campaign can blunder its way to keeping this story alive for a week or two. What would really, permanently impress wavering superdelegates, after all, is if Obama can carry large chunks of the white male vote in those three big states.
Why doesn't Obama just say: "I think being black helps me in some ways, and hurts me in others. I'm running on my record, on the issues, on my ability to do the best job as President for all Americans, etc."--and tell his campaign aides to leave it at that?
P.P.S.: Would Obama be in this position if he weren'thalf-white--i.e. if he didn't have one white parent? That's a more difficult question. If embodying the post-racial future is an advantage, it would seem to help--but that's a bit ironic, isn't it (i.e., ironic if you can't lead America into the post-racial future unless you have the precisely correct mix of multiracial ancestry).
P.P.P.S.: If the Ferarro controversy does help Hillary, that would explain why Ferraro herself seemed to try to keep it alive yesterday with a silly, provocative comment: "I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?" ... Second Reading: In context, Ferraro seems to be trying to parody what she claims is the Obama campaign's tendency to cry "racism" everytime someone criticizes Obama. The problem with this argument is that hasn't been the Obama camp's tendency--rather, they cry "racism" everytime someone brings up the question of race. But Ferraro may have been thinking of Orlando Patterson's less-wacky-than-you'd-expect op-ed, criticizing Clinton's seemingly non-racial "3 A.M." ad as racist--indeed, Ferarro mentioned the Patterson op-ed in an earlier TV appearance. Maybe she just got her back up and saw perversity all around. But she's clearly not trying to tamp down the controversy. ... 10:42 P.M. link
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Geraldine Ferraro (Clinton supporter): " "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position."
True statement (a.k.a. a Kinsley gaffe). And if Geraldine Ferraro was Gerald Ferraro, she'd be an unknown hack ex-Congressman, not a pathbreaking former vice-presidential candidate. Now Hillaryite Democrats suddenly feel the unfairness in the logic of race-based affirmative action? Where were they when Bill Clinton was 'mending it, not ending it'? And where's that Jesse Helms ad when she needs it?
Susan Rice (Obama aide):"That's a really outrageous and offensive comment."
David Axelrod (Obama strategist):""The bottom line is this, when you wink and nod at offensive statements, you're really sending a signal to your supporters that anything goes."
Absurd and telling overreaction! Yes, Ferraro's statement is hypocritical. It drips with unseemly envy and entitlement. It's unrealistic--by the time any politician gets to the stratopsheric level of presidential contender, he or she has almost certainly had some morally arbitrary lucky breaks (like being a black, or an Italian, or a Bush, or just being in the right place at the right time). But why is it "offensive"? It is, after all, true. Maybe that's the problem. Is it 'offensive' to hit too close to the sensitive weak spot of Democratic race-preference ideology in a Democratic primary? I guess.
Update: Obama himself says "I don't think that Geraldine Ferraro's comments have any place in our politics or the Democratic Party." ... Ferraro saysa) she's always said that if she were "Gerard Ferraro" she would "never have been the nominee for vice president;" b) "The truth is the truth is the truth." ... She also narrows the context of her statement to the 2008 campaign, rather than Obama's entire life--including race-based preferences he may have enjoyed at Harvard--which has the effect of protecting Dem preference dogma at least somewhat. Altogether a highly effective appearance. ...
P.S.: Does the Obama campaign really want to prolong this controversy? Doesn't he need white male votes in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and North Carolina? Didn't that Jesse Helms ad work? Just asking! ... Backfill: Jesse Jackson's response, when Ferraro said a similar thing about him in 1988, seems much savvier than Obama's. ... 3:31 P.M.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Did CNN really have Bill Bennett on today to pronounce judgment on Eliot Spitzer ("Look, it's not good for him ... I think it's too much ") and Bill Clinton ("It was an intern")? I would have thought Bennett's days as arbiter of sin and virtue were over after his own humiliating public bout with vice--the 2003 Las Vegas gambling embarrassment, when it was revealed that he had a multi-million dollar slot machine jones. (At the time, Michael Kinsley argued Bennett should have "the decency to slink quietly away, as he is constantly calling on others to do."). ... I guess if Meet the Press can call on Doris Kearns Goodwin to judge Obama's alleged plagiarism ....11:07 P.M.
"Kristen," the NEA's Worst Enemy? Here's Ben Smith's 2006 New York Observer piece on the probable next governor of New York. OK, so there have been a few little fibs on his official bio. And he aims to please everyone, Clinton style. There's also this:
A prominent advocate of publicly funded vouchers for private schools, Clint Bolick, has given [now-Lt. Gov. David] Paterson money and describes him as a "very good friend of the school-choice movement," ... [E.A.]
Could be interesting. ... Also, I'm a sucker for gratuitous candor, which seems to be another Paterson characteristic. ... [This isn't a kf item. It's a parody of a kf item. "N.E.A. SUFFERS SETBACK IN NEW YORK NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST."-ed. First, I'm too tabloidy, Now you don't like the policy angle! So unfair. I feel like Michael Chertoff.] ...
Update: Yes, Spitzer was receptive to charter schools and even private school tuition deductions. But "Paterson "is even more hardcore about school reform and not a favorite of the teachers' unions," reports Eduwonk. "[H]is pick as LG caused [the unions] some consternation but was tempered because it was only LG ...." Heh! ... 5:11 P.M. link
Have you noticed that the Center for American Progress' "new" approach to illegal immigration--"We must require illegal immigrants to become legal, and reform the laws so this can happen"--bears an eerie resemblance to the drug policy of erstwhile presidential candidate George C. Papoon?
A Papoon Presidency would eliminate all illegal drugs in the first week of its administration.
No American would be using illegal drugs under George G. Papoon!"
Sunday, March 9, 2008
McCain: Not Insane! It doesn't look to me like John McCain was "unhinged" or "irate" or losing his "cool" in his recent videotaped airplane confrontation with the NYT's Elisabeth Bumiller. He was simply employing the debating tactic he often uses when confronted with a question he can't answer safely--which is to bully and intimidate and interrupt the questioner, using up all the available conversational space until the "questioning" moves on. (To get a word in edgwise, whoever is confronting him would have to be ready to engage in an undignified shouting match, which most are unwilling to do.) McCain used the same technique in the Republican debates when confronted with questions he didn't want to answer on immigration.
Because this is intentional, strategic behavior it isn't a sign McCain is unstable or uncontrolled or overemotional or irrational. But it's a sign that, no less than Obama, he may have been underprepared for the fall campaign by his charmed life as a national press favorite. McCain's bullying evasion is the second campaign tic--the first is his habit of reflexive, righteous blunderbuss denials**--that he's apparently been able to get away with over the years. Neither is likely to hold up over a multi-month presidential race. And the bullying, unlike the righteous denial, doesn't even temporarily make McCain look good.
**--Indeed, Bumiller was asking McCain about one of his earlier reflexive, sweeping denials that later turned out to be inaccurate. ...
Friday, March 7, 2008
3:35 A.M.-- The Trouble with Dials: Despite lots of dismissive punditry--It's a cliche! Badly executed! And look at Obama's swift response!--Hillary's "3 AM" ad appears to have worked. Intriguingly, the ad also worked despite performing poorly in the MediaCurves.com sample of 554 Democrats hooked up to reaction meters (on which they registered their agreement or disagreement).
Which seems to demonstrate a problem I've always had with Frank Luntz-style "dial" groups: The meters measure the voter's visceral reaction to whatever the candidate is saying. If the voter hates abortion, and Candidate A attacks abortion, the meter goes up. If the voter is pro-choice, the meter goes down. What the meter doesn't capture is actual rumination--even fleeting doubts or flashes of confidence. The reaction loop's too short for that. So if something Candidate B says, in the course of defending a right to abortion, actually makes a pro-life voter think twice about the issue, that will happen later, after the meter has moved on (and probably after the meters are locked up and everyone's gone home). Indeed, the voter's immediate reaction to a candidate who prompts reconsideration of a long-held position may be more negative than usual, reflecting the voter's annoyance at being challenged and forced to think. ....
In short, the meters are good at measuring effective pandering, not at measuring effective persuasion. And sometimes candidates do persuade! ... In the case of the "3 A.M." ad, the MediaCurves "undecided" voters were viscerally turned off when they learned it was an ad for Hillary. Their dial-graphs plummet downwards. But a lot of "undecideds" seem to have been affected, non-viscerally, in a different way later. .... 4:37 P.M. link
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Obama tried pandering to Latinos in California. It didn't work. He lost. He tried pandering to Latinos in Texas. It didn't work. He lost. He tried pandering on NAFTA in Ohio. It didn't work. He lost. Maybe he should try, you know, not pandering! That would fit better with his claim to practice "a new kind of politics and a new kind of leadership," no? ... Update: Going negative, as recommended by Dick Morris, does not fit well with that claim--it seems like the sort of campaign mistake that might actually cost Obama a large chunk of support when he's mathematically almost home. Halperin's brief on this subject is persuasive. ... There must be other ways for Obama to "start acting like he has a pair." Like by dramatically not pandering! ... 2:57 P.M.
Pols In Treatment: If Hillary's a "Rorschach test"--as she said in 1993-- isn't that the problem? [Unexpectedly NSFW] ... Psychologist Ellen Ladowsky also claims Obama's trying to recapture his childhood! Not that there's anything wrong with it. ... 2:17 P.M.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
7 Weeks to Pennsylvania: What's the most apt analogy for the grim prospect that now faces the American press and public? The Bataan Death March? I think there's a better comparison. ... 1:21 P.M.
Just asking: If the superdelegates all voted with the winner of their state, would Hillary get the nomination? I think maybe. That would be one way she might colorably claim a superdelegate decision in her favor would vindicate democracy. ... Update--Just answering: Ann Hulbert, enlisting Slate's Trailhead in an unprecedented team effort, says Hillary gets a superdelegate lead of only 3 under this winner-take-all allocation rule--so far. But there are 124.5 superdelegates from states that still haven't voted. Hillary would have to win them by something like 104 to 20 (using Hulbert's numbers) in order to make up her deficit in "pledged" delegates--unlikely, but do-able under a winner-take-all rule. ... More: Trailhead notes that even this state-by-state winnter-take-all superdelegate allocation rule probably leaves both candidates short of the necessary 2,025 delegate majority. Why? Because there are also "about 50 nomadic superdelegates who aren't tied down to a state." Nomadic superdelegates? Yikes. ... Do they arrive at the convention in Winnebagos?.... Backfill: Steve Smith undertook this exercise before Wisconsin, noting that it's subtly biased in Hillary's favor because "Clinton's wins have generally been in large Blue states, which have a disproportionately higher number of SuperDelegates." ... 1:02 A.M. link
Have the Obamans blamed their Texas loss on Limbaugh-directed Republican spoilers? Maybe they should. ... Update: Weigel adds non-anecdotal evidence supporting the Limbaugh theory. ... 12:49 A.M. link
The Downside of Mutnemom: My friend S, originator of the eerily prescient theory that Hillary enjoys "reverse momentum," reminds me that it is double-edged. Hillary does well when she's just lost and is on the ropes. But she does badly when she's just won one and tries to hamhandedly capitalize on her triumph (which then comes across as gloating and has the opposite effect).
She wins losing, loses by winning.
Which would be good news for Obama, if there were a big primary in the next week or two. Which of course there isn't. But there's Wyoming--which the Mutnemom theory predicts Hillary will lose. ... If only Obama could somehow avoid that victory and keep Hillary's triumphal moment alive for a month and a half until Pennsylvania ...
P.S.: Bill Clinton's declaration that a Texas loss would doom Hillary --previously considered incredibly dumb-- now shows "his legendary political instincts," according to the NYT, precisely because it triggered the "save poor Hillary" impulse that's the basis for her winning-by-losing advantage. ...12:24 A.M. link
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Fear of Feiler: How much of the press drumbeat of doom designed to drive Hillary from the race is motivated by journalists contemplating the gruesome prospect of seven weeks of campaigning without a major primary--this in a hyper-covered, fast-info era in which a mere two week campaign for Texas and Ohio has seemed like a Bataan Death March? ... 1:10 A.M.
Would "the absolute consistency of [Obama's] position on the war" allow McCain to attack him as "inflexible and without nuance"? Stanley Fish's argument to this effect makes sense only if you assume that Obama wouldn't show new flexibility--the long-awaited Pivot--once he secured the nomination. Obama's smart enough to do that, right? ... Right? 1:04 A.M.
And now for another view of William F. Buckley: Since Buckley can no longer defend himself, it seems bad karma to even link. But try to stop reading it. The ruptures on the Right over immigration long predate John McCain, it turns out. ... 12:45 A.M.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Meet the Press on black turnout in the primary:
MR. RUSSERT: Bob Shrum, it is tough trying to figure out these primaries. For example, that poll in Texas estimates the black turnout at about 22 percent...
MR. BOB SHRUM: Right.
MR. RUSSERT: ...of Obama's overall. In 2004 it was 21 percent. The Obama camp will say it might be higher because of the energy in the campaign.
MR. SHRUM: Well, it will be. 2004 was a nonevent. John Kerry was already the Democratic nominee for president. ...
You'd think black turnout would rise with a black presidential candidate fighting for the Dem nomination. But in California you'd be wrong, at least according to the 2008 exit poll, which put black turnout at 6% of the total, down from 8% in 2004. ... Backfill: The black percentage didn't increase in Florida or Virginia either, apparently (but did in Arizona). ... 11:37 P.M.
I'm with Althouse on Hillary's "as far as I know" answer on theObama/Muslim canard. It seems like mere reflexive politico-legal ass-covering on her part, not innuendo-spreading. If you're Hillary, you have to have learned not to make sweeping declarations of fact about things you can't really know--e.g., "Obama is not a Muslim"--without adding a caveat. Her sin, if any, was not realizing that this instance was an exception to the normal rule --an occasion where she'd be expected to make a sweeping declaration of fact about something she couldn't really know. And to do it on 60 Minutes--where smart politicians are normally primed be very cautious.. ...8:55 P.M.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Running on Blade Runner: LA Weekly unloads its magnum opus on Mayor Villaraigosa's underdebated plan to make Los Angeles a couple of stories taller and a whole lot denser. a) The plans seem to call for 2.5 million more people. But when it comes to population growth, according to the Weekly
the two key causes are illegal immigration and the high birth rate among the poor and working poor.
If somehow various immigration-control measures actually slow illegal immigration--i.e., if the Gran Salida continues--will all those multi-story apartments actually be needed? Put another way, does Villaraigosa's growth plan depend on continued illegal immigration?b) There's a case for greater density. What's most alarming is that Villaraigosa seems to be planning greater density without first building the subway system that might move all those people around. The Weekly provides a helpful sidebar comparison with Mexico City. c) The most powerful anti-growth voice cited by the Weekly is County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. But the city's already-dense West Side would have had a subway years ago if Yaroslavsky and his Democratic ally Henry Waxman hadn't foolishly stopped it in the 1980s and 1990s ... "He blocked the subway his city needed" is one of the things that will be on Waxman's tombstone, along with "He expanded Medicaid." ... "He busted Roger Clemens" is unlikely to make the cut. ...
Update: Emailer S.G. notes that the political system seems structured to produce the worse of both worlds: Powerful private developers are able to push through dense, multi-story housing. The only thing anti-growth forces are able to stop is the subway, because it (unlike apartment buildings) requires public, federal funding. The result: paralysis. Even in Blade Runner, there was a monorail, no? ... 5.55 P.M. link
Friday, February 29, 2008
HuffPo--"Study Suggests Tougher Words for Dems On Immigration": An obvious con job by the Center for American Progress, et. al.. In this "confidential" study, comprehensive reform boosters urge Democrats to seem tough by adopting the rhetorical attitude of their opponents.
"It is unacceptable to have 12 million people in our country who are outside the system," it reads. "We must require illegal immigrants to become legal, and reform the laws so this can happen."
In other words, we will take a tough stand against illegal immigrants by making them all ... legal. Sorry, by requiring them to become legal!That'll teach them to mess with our laws again! ... Of course, you can make any kind of amnesty seem like a triumph for the rule of law through this rhetorical trick: These [insert violators here] broke the law. But now we are bringing them into the system by making them all law-abiding residents again! Before: illegal. After: legal! How much more law-and-orderish can you get? ...
If the pro-legalization Dems do have to adopt faux-tough rhetoric to appeal to voters, however, that does suggest they are losing the public debate-- and bodes ill for the House Dem leadership's attempt at a last-minute Semi-Amnesty Sneak Play that would combine some popular border enforcement measures with a new visa that would legalize illegals for five years. ... 6:53 P.M. link
Thursday, February 28, 2008
"I have personally witnessed the value of this system, and I have spoken directly to the border patrol agents...who have seen it produce actual results, in terms of identifying and allowing the apprehension of people who were illegally smuggling across the border," Chertoff said.
Today we learn, from WaPo, that the "virtual" fence "did not work as planned" and has been delayed for three years by Chertoff's department.
The border fence saga can be confusing, filled with subtle twists, turns, and feints.** But here is my brief potted history. Please explain where I've got it wrong:
2) Respectable Bush comprehensivist types like Chertoff want to substitute a sophisticated hi-tech "virtual fence" for the crude actual physical fence.
3) Border control types say the "virtual fence" won't work.
4) Respectable Bush comprehensivists like Chertoff in fact cut back on actual fencing, choosing the "virtual fence."
5) Where it's installed, the actual fence works.
6) Where it's installed, the "virtual fence" doesn't work .
7) Chertoff feels sorry for himself ("I thought I heard myself getting roundly criticized ... as squishy and soft").
Then you can explain to me why Chertoff still has his job.
P.S.: Tammy Bruce has one unsubtle, but not implausible, explanation--Chertoff was only doing what he was supposed to do:
In other words, we've all just been taken for a ride .... In order to do whatever possible to avoid building an actual physical fence ... Bush, McCain and their amnesty cronies made sure a monumental amount of money was wasted on a fake, untested, unreal fence to placate conservatives ... .
And now, after the tens of millions of dollars spent on an unworkable, failed system, and a year of the Feds touting the genius of the 'virtual' fence, Amnesty Secretary Michael Chertoff now says the border will not be prot[e]cted by a physical fence or even a virtual fence ...
Instead, Bruce notes, Chertoff seems to be counting on plans "to double" the DHS "fleet of three unmanned aerial vehicles." That's a total of six (6) drones. Not joking. That's what he said. Three thousand miles of border. Six drones. Talk about a "light footprint"! This is the pre-Petraeus Iraq strategy applied to the border.
Except that this time John McCain almost certainly approves, at least in private. Of course, if McCain really wants to prove his bona fides as a newborn secure-the-border conservative, he might start by saying the things about Chertoff that he said about Donald Rumsfeld regarding Iraq (or that he now says he said about Donald Rumsfeld). ...
P.P.S.: Did both Democratic contenders for the presidency endorse the virtual fence in a debate only a week before WaPo reported that it doesn't work? I think they did! ...
** Note: For example, there was this deceptively simple exchange in a press conference a month before the 2006 election:
Are you committed to building the 700 miles of fence, actual fencing?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes ...
In fact, this was like an obvious typo in the paper, something experienced Washington observers discounted immediately. What Bush clearly meant to say was "No"--that he planned to finish only 370 miles of fence and also count "300 miles of vehicle barriers." ... [Thanks to reader S.] 6:54 P.M. link
Should later primaries count more than early primaries? If Hillary wins Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania, that's what she's going to claim. It's not a bogus argument. Voters in late primaries have more information than voters in early primaries. Superdelegates should be able to take note. That's different from arguing that Hillary should be able to pull strings and get superdelegates even if she keeps losing. ... kf's suggested HRC strategy: Cry. Duh. She cries, she wins! Wail Mary! It worked twice. Why not try it until it stops working? ... 5:57 P.M.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
McCain BS Denial #2? 10:12 A.M.
RUSSERT: The title of one of your books, "Audacity of Hope," you acknowledge you got from a sermon from Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the head of the Trinity United Church. He said that Louis Farrakhan "epitomizes greatness." He said that he went to Libya in 1984 with Louis Farrakhan to visit with Moammar Gadhafi and that, when your political opponents found out about that, quote, "your Jewish support would dry up quicker than a snowball in Hell." What do you do to assure Jewish-Americans that, whether it's Farrakhan's support or the activities of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, your pastor, you are consistent with issues regarding Israel and not in any way suggesting that Farrakhan epitomizes greatness?
If Russert had broken it off quickly around where the boldface stops--e.g., "do you feel comfortable associating yourself with these sentiments"--he'd have had a pointed question that put Obama on the spot. By babbling on about Jews and Israel--as if only Jews could be offended by Farrakhan--he gave Obama an easy answer that let him ignore Wright and the avoid the tricky business of distancing himself from his pastor. ("Tim, I have some of the strongest support from the Jewish community in my hometown of Chicago ..." etc.).
Like Andy McCarthy, I don't think Russert was consciously helping Obama escape. But there are any number of potential subconscious motives for Russert's choke, including fear that his image wouldn't benefit if he were the heavy who skewered the popular, charismatic black Dem frontrunner. ... 12:33 A.M. link
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Is Obama Deval Patrick II? Obama didn't steal the words of his buddy Deval Patrick, governor of Massachusetts. He borrowed them. OK. But what are the other similarities between Obama and Patrick? The two pols have a lot in common even aside from shared rhetoric. Has Patrick's term been a success, or has it been a cautionary example of a promising, race-transcendant Democrat squandering his mandate by governing as a hack interest-group liberal? Fred Siegel has an answer to this question. Excerpt:
Patrick's governorship is the closest thing we have to a preview of the "politics of hope"—and that governorship has been a failure to date. As Joan Vennochi observes in the Boston Globe, "Democrats who control the Legislature ignored virtually every major budget and policy initiative presented by a fellow Democrat." Patrick's record in office, Vennochi concludes, "shows that it can be hard to get beyond being the face of change, to actually changing politics." His stock has sunk so markedly that Hillary Clinton carried the state handily against Obama in the Democratic primary despite, or perhaps because of, Patrick's support for his political doppelgänger.
In one area, however, Patrick has achieved some of his goals. In thrall to the state's teachers' unions, he has partly rolled back the most successful educational reforms in the country. Most states gamed the federal testing requirements that were part of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. But Massachusetts, thanks to Republican governors William Weld and Mitt Romney, created the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability to ensure that the state's testing methods conformed closely to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—federal tests that are the gold standard for measuring educational outcomes. In 2007, Massachusetts became the first state to achieve top marks in all four categories of student achievement. One of Patrick's first efforts as governor was to eliminate the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability. [E.A.]
Isn't it incumbent on those prominent NEA-bashing neoliberal Obama supporters to explain just why his term as president won't quickly descend into a Patrick-like interest-group quagmire? Jon Alter, this means you! And Charles Peters as well. ... P.S.: Patrick could function as Obama's wrang-wrang, Vonnegut's term for a pioneer who by his bad example steers others away from a false course. Before neolibs go into a permanent campaign swoon, shouldn't Obama send them at least a subtle signal that he understands this?
Backfill: Here's Vennochi's column. She's a bit more charitable than Siegel. ... Update: Boston Globe on Patrick's strained relationship with the legislature. Hope= casino gambling? ... 4:19 P.M. link
"Any comment that is disparaging of either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama is totally inappropriate."-- Sen. McCain today. ... Is that really how McCain is going to run for president? Why can't you disparage your opponent in a political campaign? ... I'm obviously late on picking this up, but McCain really does have a habit of making categorical, blunderbuss statements that maximize, not the truth, or his political maneuvering room, but his own sense of righteousness. ... Examples: 1) It's not that he doesn't remember various Iseman-related meetings. They never occurred. 2) The United States will not torture (except, you know, when it will). 3) Any comment disparaging of Senator Obama is not just inappropriate, it's "totally" inappropriate (except down the road, of course, when it may become necessary ...). 1:47 P.M. link
Meet the Press Moments! 1) Doris Kearns Goodwin, absolving Barack Obama on the question of his lifted uplift. ... Writes itself! ... 2) Goodwin, on politicans' sex scandals:
But I think the serious thing that happened is just this change in relationship between the candidates and the reporters has been such a sea change. In 1920, the reporters knew in detail that Warren Harding was having an affair for 15 years. They thought it wasn't their business to talk about the private life, compared to a front-page article that suspects an affair on the part of some aides. In fact, the Republican committee was so worried about this affair that they actually gave the woman $20,000 and sent her to the Orient during the entire campaign to get her out of the way. So we've changed the whole notion of what part of a private life matters. When the real story is what part of the public life matters. [E.A.]
Huh? If the Republican committee was so worried about Harding's mistress, doesn't that show she was considered relevant, and that there was a chance that at least some of the press would see it as their business?
Bonus PBS Newshour Moment: David Brooks defends the McCain campaign's reliance on lobbyists because
A lot of them work for no pay.
Um, doesn't that make it worse? If they work for no pay, then McCain owes them. Is he going to pay them back as President? On the other hand, if they get paid lavishly for their work in the campaign, he's freer to tell them to take a hike later, no? ...[Thanks to alert reader J] 12:14 A.M.
Monday, February 25, 2008
'I helped Page Six for decades and all I got was this lousy squib'? I was never quite sure "Baird Jones" actually existed. He was such a flickering ominpresence in the gossip pages, he could easily have been invented. But he was apparently an actual person, who is now dead. The NY Post, which Jones practically kept afloat with a steady stream of mid-range celebrity gossip items, has covered itself with ungrateful shame in its stinting report, but Radar at least begins to do him justice, including revealing a seemingly crucial secret. ... 8:07 P.M.
Things That Bother Media Matters: Now Tucker Carlson is echoing! Will he stop at nothing? P.S.: Either George Soros is wasting his money on MM or someone else is. ... 6:14 P.M.
Hear No Univision, See No Univision: It's dispiriting to watch the conservatives at National Review bend over backwards to play down the New York Times' McCain-Iseman story. What if before McCain had effectively won the nomination--say, when he and Romney were contesting New Hampshire or Michigan--it had been revealed that he may have been excessively influenced by a gorgeous lobbyist for Univision, the Spanish language broadcaster with a vested financial interest in promoting bilingualism at the expense of a unifying common language? So much so that the lobbyist boasted of her influence at meetings? So much so that McCain's right-hand strategist tried personally to intervene and tell her to go away? You think it might have been an issue? ...
P.S.:National Review Online's David Freddoso scoffs at the idea that McCain received a mere $85,000 from Iseman's clients since 2000, arguing that if that's all McCain got he's "pathetic" at trying to "take advantage of people" in his committee's purview. Hmm. a) Former Univision CEO, controlling shareholder and Iseman client Jerrold Perenchio is a National FInance Co-Chair of McCain's campaign. Presumably he brings in more than $85,000; b) The worry isn't that McCain was taking advantage of Univision, et. al. It's rather the other way around. Or, more precisely, that this was a smarmy, mutually self-interested alliance that helped McCain and Univision in ways that maybe went beyond promoting the national interest.
If conservatives substitute "National Education Association" for "Univision" maybe the potential scandal will be easier to see. But at this point, McCain could be caught having an affair with Juan Hernandez and it wouldn't bother the National Review. ...
"Hillary Should Get Out Now": Why would it help either Hillary or the Democratic party if she were to drop out before March 4 Texas and Ohio primaries, as fantasized by my friend Jon Alter? If Obama wins the two states, he'll be a much stronger candidate for it. If he loses, then Hillary would have been a fool to drop out, no? The idea that two weeks more of a relatively tame primary campaign is going to damage Democratic chances eight months from now seems a stretch. ... If Hillary dropped out now while she still has a small but non-trivial chance, it wouldn't show "grace and class" so much as lack of judgment. ... Alter, an Obama supporter and is just going to bat for his guy. .. P.S. Also, Hillary's "beautiful closing answer" in the Austin debate wasn't a "more genuine" Hillary. It was one of her phoniest moments yet. Nice try, though. ... 12:51 A.M.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
How is letting Marketa Irglova back on stage to finish her Oscar acceptance speech like Kosovo independence? Feels good, bad precedent. [Other ex.?-ed Immigration amnesty!] 11:37 P.M.
Friday, February 22, 2008
The McCain camp declares "Mission Accomplished" on the Iseman story. I mean, what could happen now to give it legs? ... Oh wait. Isikoff already has BS McCain Denial #1, which is where his campaign says that
"[n]o representative of [Iseman client] Paxson [Communications] ...discussed with Senator McCain the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proceeding regarding the transfer of Pittsburgh public television station (WQED) ..."
It turns out McCain himself said in a deposition that he'd discussed it with Mr. Paxson himself. McCain's subsequent staff's defense doesn't help the Senator:
"I]t appears that Senator McCain, when speaking of being contacted by Paxson, was speaking in shorthand of his staff being contacted by representatives of Paxson."
Err ... McCain was fairly explicit on the issue in a sworn deposition, saying "I'm sure I spoke to [Paxson]". ****
Oh well, so he maybe got it wrong under oath. Another sign of his gruff authenticity!**
What's striking about the story so far is the extent to which core McCain supporters concede that if it's confirmed McCain is through. I don't see why that would have to be true--I'd think he could confess, cry, and weather the storm. (If the GOPs had someone to beat McCain they'd have beaten him already.) But here's McCainiac David Brooks:
At his press conference Thursday, McCain went all-in. He didn't just say he didn't remember a meeting about Iseman. He said there was no meeting. If it turns out that there is evidence of an affair and a meeting, then his presidential hopes will be over.
That means, of course, that even if the story is true, loyal McCain supporters would be under tremendous pressure--even self-imposed pressure--to deny it. Is McCain point man Charlie Black saying anything he wouldn't say if McCain did have the affair, and the meeting? A question to keep in mind.
**--Josh Marshall has more on McCain's distinctly un-Clintonesque style of blanket denial. In another politician this would just be recklessness. Does McCain do it because he hasn't been burned--i.e. the press has always given him a pass before? ...
****--Update: Paxson himself now tells Wapo he met with McCain. ... The McCain camp asks us to accept that when both parties to an alleged romance deny it, it didn't happen--but that when both parties to a meeting say it did happen, it didn't happen either. ... 4:21 P.M. link
There may be places where a physical barrier is appropriate. I think when both of us voted for this we were voting for the possibility that where it was appropriate and made sense it would be considered, but as with so much, the Bush administration has gone off the deep end, and they are unfortunately coming up with a plan that I think is counterproductive. [E.A.]
Hmm. Isn't that a little like voting for the Iraq War and then saying you were just voting for the possibility that if it were appropriate it would be considered?
In this case, though, Obama is attempting the same two-step. He says he and Clinton "almost entirely agree" regarding the fence, adding
As Senator Clinton indicated, there may be areas where it makes sense to have some fencing. But for the most part, having Border Patrol, surveillance, deploying effective technology, that's going to be the better approach. ... [E.A.]
Is voting for a fence and then denying you were actually voting for a fence the old politics of Washington or the new politics of hope? I get confused. ... 2:57 A.M. link
Dingalink of the Week: There is no excuse for our lapse in judgment. It won't happen again. ... 2:10 A.M.
Kosovo = Aztlan? Just asking! ... 2:05 AM.
The Scandal Is What Isn't Scandalous, Part III: Mike Huckabee's wife "attended a middleweight prize fight this past weekend in Las Vegas--where she stayed at the Hooters Casino Hotel"--which "may be problematic with conservative Christian voters," reports the S.F. Chronicle.
There's a Hooters hotel? Yikes. ... 1:42 P.M.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
"A lot of [what] you see in the stories is not true, but at the same time, I have to tell you that I always say, that wherever there is smoke, there is fire. That is true.
a) When the Times reports that two McCain "associates** ... said Mr. McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately and pledged to keep his distance from Ms. Iseman," the vagueness of "inappropriately" might mean the NYT doesn't have the goods on any possible romance. But it suggests to me that the paper's sources might not want to give it the salacious details or the paper itself is too decorous. If by "inappropriately" doesn't mean anything sexual, then the NYT has indeed been surprisingly sleazy. Someone should ask Mr. Rutenberg.
b) The Scandal-is-What-isn't-Scandalous Dept. Part I: From the NYT story:
The McCain aides said the senator sided with Ms. Iseman's clients only when their positions hewed to his principles.
A champion of deregulation, Mr. McCain ... introduced a bill to create tax incentives for minority ownership of stations; Ms. Iseman represented several businesses seeking such a program. [E.A.]
How is introducing this bill in keeping with McCain's deregulatory or deficit cutting instincts? There is no more fetid swamp of corrupting government favoritism than the FCC's minority ownership programs. And tax incentives aren't really all that different in their budget-gutting effect from earmarks, are they? If those are McCain's principles ...
c) Part II: This paragraph from WaPo's follow up seems like a small fire in itself:
At the time he sent the first letter, McCain had flown on Paxson's corporate jet four times to appear at campaign events and had received $20,000 in campaign donations from Paxson and its law firm. The second letter came on Dec. 10, a day after the company's jet ferried him to a Florida fundraiser that was held aboard a yacht in West Palm Beach.
That was normal practice? Isn't it less damning if he did it for love?
d) McCain's License to Lie: McCain seems convinced that his wartime heroism and general righteousness make it OK for him to lie in bullying fashion when he really has to (e.g., when he needs to pretend that under his immigration plan illegal immigrants would "not be in any way rewarded for illegal behavior"). That could be what's happening here too. ... Of course, as Michael Kinsley (and one of my emailers) has noted, sympathetic liberal reporters perversely give McCain straight talk points when he lies. That could happen here as well. ...
Backfill: Jack Shafer has already made many of these points. ...
**--The NYT describes these sources as two "former associates" of McCain. The text here originally said "aides." WaPo reports that "[m]embers of the senator's small circle of advisers" confronted McCain. McCain denies that the confrontation took place. ... 3:37 P.M. link
'I Was Nowhere Near Milwaukee': Now that he's safely won Wisconsin--a state relatively friendly to school vouchers-- Obama genuflects to the teachers' unions by denouncing "misleading reports that Senator Obama voiced support for voucher programs." ... If you were in the mood to grasp at straws in Obama's defense--i.e. the mood I'm in, don't know about you--you would note that this isn't a Full Grovel,** which would involve retracting, rephrasing or apologizing for the Obama statements that suggest an openness to vouchers (if evidence turns out to support them). Instead, Obama's campaign merely calls "out of context" and emphasizes the anti-voucher aspects of his platform. That seems more like the Minimum Necessary Grovel to keep the National Education Association happy while preserving Obama's freedom to reverse his "longstanding skepticism" in the future. ...
**--An example of a Full Grovel would be DNC then-chair Paul Kirk's statement after he gave an interview suggesting openness to a Social Security means test: "I was wrong. Our party ... is unalterably opposed to any cuts in Social Security benefits. I should not have mentioned the subject of a means test." 11:42 P.M. link
Howie Kurtz is his own worst enemy? Not while Charles Kaiser is alive! Kaiser, who first (as far as I know) pointed out that Kurtz has the worst conflict of interest in journalism--Kurtz covers CNN while being "well compensated" by CNN for hosting a media show-- updates his anti-Kurtz brief. Best new point: Kurtz tries to compensate for his conflict by avoiding writing about CNN, which in itself is doing CNN a favor:
According to Nexis and the Washington Post's own website, during the past 12 months, the one subject the media reporter for the Post has almost never written about is ... CNN.
This sort of benign neglect couldn't come at a better time for CNN, since many of Kurtz's own colleagues believe the news network has gotten so tabloidy and superficial that it's no longer worth watching at all.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Give me purity, but not now: If McCain adviser Mark MacKinnon is going to quit the McCain campaign because he doesn't want to "be attacking" Obama, shouldn't he have quit already? McCain's been attacking Obama for at least a week. ... 5:12 P.M.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Is Hillary better off losing Wisconsin? My friend S called with a so-crazy-it-might-be-true theory about the Democratic primary contest, which is this: Hillary does best when Democratic voters sense she's about to get brutally knocked out of the race, as in New Hampshire. That prospect taps a well of residual sympathy for a woman who has devoted her life to politics, etc. But when Hillary is triumphant she seems arrogant and unbearable, and voters feel free to express those perceptions at the polls. It follows that Hillary will do better in the crucial states of Ohio and Texas if she loses in Wisconsin and has her back to the wall. If she wins Wisconsin, and holds a big happy victory rally trumpeting her newfound momentum, the result will be a another surge of support for Obama. ... In other words, it's not that there is no momentum from a primary victory this year ("nomentum"). There's reverse momentum ("mutnemom!"), at least where Hillary is concerned. If she wins a primary one week that makes her more likely to lose the next one. .... 3:06 P.M. link
Monday, February 18, 2008
Is that an S-Chip on Your Shoulder or Are You Just Glad to See Me? John Podhoretz argues that Michelle Obama's comment--about how "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country"--
suggests the Obama campaign really does have its roots in New Class leftism, according to which patriotism is not only the last refuge of a scoundrel, but the first refuge as well — that America is not fundamentally good but flawed, but rather fundamentally flawed and only occasionally good.
He could be right! Her comment is also of a piece with the cavalier Obamaesque dismissal of the achievements of the Clinton years and her church's focus on "this racist United States of America." ** But is the explanation necessarily political? Even Dennis Kucinich would probably have no problem finding something to be proud of in the past two decades. If Michelle Obama's default position is set to "Aggrieved," it also suggests something personal, no? Maybe, like many strong wives, she wonders why her husband is the one on the top of the family ticket--which might also explain her strange occasional habit of belittling him in public ("snore-y and stinky" ). Beats me. For whatever reason, she sure seems to have a non-trivial chip on her shoulder and it's not a winning quality. ...
"[T]he realities are, as a black man, Barack can get shot going to the gas station."
And white men don't get shot at gas stations? Sure, Mrs. Obama might have meant to say, in an anodyne rephrasing, that "as someone who lives in Barack's neighborhood, he could get shot going to the gas station." There are always anodyine rephrasings. At some point there are too many of them. ... 4:29 P.M. link
Psst--We Don't Think He's Pro-Life Either: Michael Kinsley lets out a secret Democrats have been guarding closely of late--when it comes to loyalty to conservative positions, we don't think McCain's as bad as conservatives claim. We think he's worse! For example, Charles Krauthammer, listing McCain's apostasies, concedes that "he's held the line on abortions." Kinsley suggests that even that may be wishful, cheap date thinking:
McCain is perceived as authentic, which is a deeper form of honesty than mere truth-telling. He says he's antiabortion? Oh, he doesn't mean that.
For Kinsley, the election's win-win. ... Update: Wash. Times-- "Pro-lifers are the first part of the conservative base to rally around Sen. John McCain ..." Heh-heh! ... 1:38 A.M. link
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Why the Right Hates Newsweek: Newsweek, in a piece on "Why the Right Hates McCain," contains only a short description of what the magazine calls
his compromise position on immigration reform. (McCain championed a bill with archliberal Ted Kennedy that would have allowed illegal aliens to participate in a worker-visa program. He later retreated.)
"Participate in a worker-visa program." I think the "compromise" did a little more than that! Permanent legalization, "path to citizenship," etc. How is any Newsweek reader going to understand "Why the Right Hates McCain" if the magazine rewrites recent history to make him look more reasonable? ... Nor is it clear he's really retreated. ... P.S.--The Wimp Factor! Now that McCain's the near-certain nominee, mags like Newsweek really need easy access to his aides, no? Just saying! Presidential candidates have retaliated by cutting off Newsweek'saccess before. ... 9:35 P.M.
Friday, February 15, 2008
I'm a day behind, and I feel the crushing weight of every minute, but isn't this kind of brilliant? ... 6:55 P.M.
'Sorry Charlie, you just didn't meet your numbers this quarter': Let me get this straight--Clinton strategist Mark Penn is McCain strategist Charlie Black's boss?... Not since James Carville battled it out with Mary Matalin in 1992 has it been so clear which campaign's top aide has the upper hand! Actually, that one was clearer. ... 3:57 P.M.
How is Obama not an unreconstructed lefty--Part III: Not only does he support charter schools, but--at least according the buried lede in the Democrats for Education Reform web site--he's willing to point out in public which major Dem interest group is against them:
At a Manhattan fundraiser I attended last April, a local charter school operator asked Obama why it was so hard to be a charter school person in the Democratic Party. His answer was thoughtful and measured, but he - not the person who asked the question - identified the teachers unions as the obstacle on the political side. He noted that the American public was hungry for change and that the unions' leadership was going to have to decide whether they want to be in on it, or be completely left behind. [Emphasis added]
But, and this is the interesting part, he said if studies end up showing that children are benefiting from vouchers, he wouldn't allow his skepticism to stand in the way of doing something to help them.
"You do what works for the kids," Obama said. [Emphasis added]
When Obama says that near the beginning of his videotaped interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he seems to be maybe just be play-acting the role of someone arguing with a voucher skeptic. But at the end of the interview he declares:
I will not allow sort of my predispositions to stand in the way of making sure that our kids can learn. We're losing several generations of kids and something has to be done.
You think that's what he said when he answered the NEA's questions earlier in the campaign? ... Update: Back in July, he responded to the American Federation of Teachers questionnaire with what the AFT wanted to hear:
We need to invest in our public schools and strengthen them, not drain their fiscal support. And for this reason I do not support vouchers. In the end, vouchers would reduce the options available to children in need. I fear these children would truly be left behind in a private market system. [E.A.]
Hey, it's his contradiction. Let him explain it. But I note that back in July he was a dark horse candidate sucking up to the unions like every other Dem. Now the power relations is at least partly reversed--if he says something the union doesn't like, it's not clear what they can do about it. They could back Hillary, but that's not likely to endear them to Obama if he wins. [Also now he's telling the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ed board what it wants to hear--ed You don't like consistency?]
More: The New York Sun adds:
Asked the same voucher question by the Milwaukee paper, Senator Clinton had a strong response, saying she opposes vouchers because they hurt public schools and could also open up the possibility of using taxpayer dollars to finance dangerous schools including training grounds for "jihad."
The president of the National Education Association, Reginald Weaver, told The New York Sun today that he believes Mr. Obama still opposes vouchers. ... He said that in conversations he expects to ask Mr. Obama to affirm his position on vouchers.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Formaldehyde makes me paranoid: From the NYT coverage of the Katrina-trailer scandal--
''I don't understand why FEMA bought trailers in the first place that were dangerous,'' said Henry Alexander, 60, who has been living in a trailer since February 2006.
1) Hmm. Isn't the issue why anyone is building trailers in the first place that are dangerous? This doesn't seem like a FEMA scandal. It seems like a trailer-industry scandal. Most victims of poisonous trailers are probably a) not Katrina victims and b) actually paying good money for their carcinogenic trailers. 2) Is FEMA using the formaldehyde issue as a prod to move people out of the trailers--something it's apparently been trying to do for a while, perhaps to avoid creating a permanent class of free-trailer dwellers? In other words, maybe FEMA wants this scandal (and the press is obligingly giving it to them). ... 11:56 P.M.
If a Hispanic who has performed as poorly and prominently as Patti Solis Doyle can't be fired without her employer getting grief from Hispanic leaders, isn't that a pretty big disincentive to hiring a Hispanic in the first place? Message: Stick to white males--if they screw up, you can sack them and nobody will whine. ... 9:03 P.M.
Ellisblog makes a rare appearance to wallow in Clintonfreude. ... 8:53 P.M.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
"[Edwards] thinks Obama is kind of a pussy. He has real questions about Obama's toughness ..."
It's a Dem group! It's a 'swing' group! In Mark Penn's big electability memo, he identifies Hillary Clinton's strengths when compared with Obama:
Sen. Obama will have to fall back on core Democratic voters to stay competitive with McCain. But this is where Hillary has already built a powerful base, with overwhelming support among women, Latino voters, and other stalwarts of the Democratic Party. [E.A.]
A paragraph later, women and Latinos are back, this time as a "swing" voters:
And Hillary's core voters - working class, women, Latinos, Catholics - are exactly the voters that comprise the key swing voters the party has needed in the past to win.
I suppose it's possible that women and Latinos are "core Democratic voters" who nevertheless might desert the party on a moment's notice against McCain--though that would suggest the Democratic core is near-evanescent. It's also possible that a lot of core Dem voters are women and a lot of swing voters are women--indeed it would be odd if they weren't. But it's also possible that "women" and "Latinos" have to do double duty for Penn because there aren't a lot of other groups he can brag about. ...[Tks to emailer Y] 1:08 P.M.
Didn't Ron Fournier kind of bury the lede in his story on how the Clinton's "selfishness" is coming back to bite them? This from the 15th graf:
Bill Richardson, a former U.N. secretary and energy secretary in the Clinton administration, refused to endorse [Hillary] even after an angry call from the former president? "What," Bill Clinton reportedly asked Richardson, "isn't two Cabinet posts enough?" [E.A.]
P.S.: From Fournier's piece, it's clear that what's hurting the Clintons with the Democratic "superdelegates" isn't necessarily their "selfishness," but rather their centrism:
And they are not all super fans of the Clintons. Some are labor leaders still angry that Bill Clinton championed the North American Free Trade Agreement as part of his centrist agenda. Some are social activists who lobbied unsuccessfully to get him to veto welfare reform legislation, a talking point for his 1996 re-election campaign. I thought we've been told that even mainstream liberals now accept the success of the 1996 welfare reform? ... Maybe that success just makes them angrier! (Not only did they lose, but they were then discredited.) ...[via Drudge] 12:06 P.M. ___________________________ Tuesday, February 12, 2008 The Hillary Campaign's New Pitch: You can hear the crowds chanting, "Factored In! Factored In!" ...[Thks. to reader J.P.] 5:54 P.M.
And they are not all super fans of the Clintons.
Some are labor leaders still angry that Bill Clinton championed the North American Free Trade Agreement as part of his centrist agenda.
Some are social activists who lobbied unsuccessfully to get him to veto welfare reform legislation, a talking point for his 1996 re-election campaign.
I thought we've been told that even mainstream liberals now accept the success of the 1996 welfare reform? ... Maybe that success just makes them angrier! (Not only did they lose, but they were then discredited.) ...[via Drudge] 12:06 P.M.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
The Hillary Campaign's New Pitch: You can hear the crowds chanting, "Factored In! Factored In!" ...[Thks. to reader J.P.] 5:54 P.M.
Heck of a Job, Patti: It's Not Nice to Get Josh Green Spiked! Green opens the notebook from his cancelled GQ piece and lets Clinton's ex-campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle (and by extension, Hillary) have it:
She was infamous among her colleagues for referring to herself as "the queen bee" and for her habit of watching daytime soap operas in her office. One frequent complaint among donors and outside advisers was that Solis Doyle often did not return calls or demonstrate the attention required in her position
It's actually not a hatchet job, but a fairly subtle analysis of Solis Doyle's role and Hillary's disturbingly Bush-like management style. (For "Solis Doyle," read "Rumsfeld"). ...My only quibble: Don't donors always complain they don't get their phone calls returned? ... 2:55 P.M.
The Sid Is Out There: Jonathan Tilove's story on the 'Cult of Obama' meme is more useful for the light it sheds on the 'Sidney Blumenthal's emails are the dark matter of the Internet' meme:
Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson denied Monday that the Clinton campaign was doing anything to push the cult-of-Obama meme.
But Sidney Blumenthal, a senior Clinton adviser, did e-mail the Media Matters posting to a list of influential persons, including reporters.
Asked about that, Blumenthal replied by e-mail that the e-mail in question was "off the record. I send some published articles to close friends. However you received one, it was not intended for you, or any other reporter, and you should tell me how my personal confidence was broken and you happened to receive it."
Wow. a) Controlling! In a characteristically Hillaryesque fashion, someone like Stephen Kaus might say; b) Incompletely truthful!Tilove says there are several reporters on Blumenthal's list of 'close friends,' including John Judis and Joe Conason; c) Wackily unrealistic! Who thinks they can email something to--how many? tens? dozens? hundreds?--of their "close friends" and successfully keep it secret? Anyway, "reporting" involves writing about things that are "not intended" to fall into the hands of reporters. Duh! Blumenthal seems to think journalists like Tilove have an obligation to squeal on their sources when its his expectation of secrecy that's violated. Imagine how Nixon felt! ... P.S.: I don't doubt that Blumenthal's emails have a collegial purpose--i.e., they're not simply designed to drive press coverage. But they also have that effect. Ask Trent Lott. ... 12:12 P.M. link
Monday, February 11, 2008
How is Obama not an unreconstructed lefty?--Part II: Asked to "[n]ame some issues where you've been willing to stand up against your party," Obama responds with charter schools:
BO: I've consistently said, we need to support charter schools. I think it is important to experiment, by looking at how we can reward excellence in the classroom.
JH: Have teacher's unions been an impediment to that kind of reform?
BO: What I will say is that they haven't been thrilled with me talking about these kinds of issues.
Obama also answers: "I think it is important for us to be in favor of trade ..."
P.S.: Alert reader J.S. digs up the following Obama quote about welfare:
"At a certain point, welfare got separated from the idea of work," Obama said. "There was the welfare rights movement, and people started talking as if you were just entitled to an income, whether you were trying or not. And ordinary working people — black and white — would hear that and say, 'Now hold on a second. I'm getting up at 4:30 in the morning and taking a bus two hours to get to a job, and you're telling me that you have a right to something,' and they resent it. Work has to be an important component of any anti-poverty agenda."
Sounds good, though it would be more reassuring if Obama didn't typically express such sentiments by putting them in the heads of others (e.g., "ordinary working people," whom progressives have to placate). The main trouble is the flexibility in the joints of his sentences. I could write a welfare bill completely consistent with that paragraph that would completely gut the 1996 welfare reform law. You'd require that someone determine recipients were "trying"--but define "trying" as attending a day of a community college class. You'd make work "an important component" but not rigorously require it--and indeed you'd prevent states that wanted to be too rigorous from trying the tougher approach.
More important, there are plenty of House Democrats who will want to write a welfare bill completely consistent with that paragraph that would completely gut the 1996 welfare reform law! Obama may not want them to do that--he may personally opppose it--but unless he has someone like Bruce Reed watching them like a hawk they're going to try to send him that bill. Triangulation ain't easy!
What kind of President would watch them like a hawk? A President who was scared to death of being labelled a backslider on welfare and work, who was heavily invested in his or her image as a neolib reformer on the issue. At the moment, Hillary Clinton seems more like that potential President. 8:32 P.M. link
[Senator Clinton] was asked a question from a Politico.com reader in Santa Monica, Calif., who was seeking assurance that "no new business or personal scandal involving Bill Clinton" could erupt if she were in the White House and give fodder to Republicans.
"You know, I can assure this reader that that is not going to happen," she said. "You know, none of us can predict the future, no matter who we are and what we are running for, but I am very confident that that will not happen."
Isn't that the LAT's cue (and everyone else's too) to run with whatever undernews they have on Bill? ... P.S.: I was nowhere near Santa Monica. ... OK, I was in Santa Monica. But it wasn't me. ... P.P.S.: Elsewhere in the interview Hillary sounds suspiciously Edwards-like in advocating confrontation rather than cooperation with opposing interests:
I will work with Republicans to find common cause whenever I can. But I will also stand my ground because there are fights worth having.
Taking Edwards' campaign advice for a day or two, of course, would be an inexpensive way to suck up to him while seeking his endorsement. ...
Forget "comprehensive." Just give us the amnesty! According to Roll Call, House Democrats are plotting to move "scaled-down immigration reform legislation" this year--a five-year visa for illegals "who pay fines and pass criminal background checks." ... I'd know more if I subscribed to Roll Call! ... Malkin has a bit more. ... Initial takes:
a) Bad for McCain, right? Just when he's papered over his split with the right on immigration, this would reopen the wound. Maybe that's the Dems point. ... Maybe it's also an attempt to gin up the Latino vote for November. But the Latino vote seems already ginned up. (Does it stay ginned if the bill actually passes?) Meanwhile, it risks waking up the otherwise somnolent right-wing vote, no?
b) Bad for Rahm Emanuel's swing-district Democratic first-termers who campaigned on tough-on-illegal-immigration platforms, no? If it ever comes to a vote, will they reveal to their electorates that it was all just a pose? ...
c) But not an unclever strategy, if you are a pro-legalization Congressperson and want to strike while Hispandering Season is at its height. ...
d) Presumably McCain is now honor bound to oppose this, having pledged to push legalization only after "widespread consensus that our borders are secure." (If he sticks to his word, it might actually wind uphelping him in November, you'd think.) But what about Hillary and Obama? If Obama supports it and Hillary opposes it, does that give her the policy contrast she needs going into Ohio and Pennsylvania? ...
e) Can you pass a big bill like this in a presidential election year? Well, welfare reform passed in 1996. The key difference? Welfare reform was overwhelming popular, virtually across the board. The fight was largely over who could claim credit for it. Congressmen weren't worried that someone might run an ad accusing them of making welfare recipients go to work.
f) Is this a tacit admission by the legalization caucus that a semi-amnesty might not be as easy to pass in the next president's first two years than you might think (given that all three contenders are formally pro-legalization). ...
g) Or is this an expression of fear that local get-tough enforcement measures, in states like Oklahoma and Arizona, might already be having a surprising effect (at encouraging emigration, and at prompting other states to follow suit). Remember the stunning statistic that, even with current enforcement measures, the
growth rate of the U.S. Mexican-born population has dropped by nearly half to 4.2% in 2007 from about 8% in 2005 and 2006 ... [E.A.]
That's the Democrats' long-anticipated future evaporating right there. Is that why Rep. Emanuel says:
"There are things that are happening in our respective communities and districts around the country and businesses that we have to address and we can't wait for the Senate," ...
More: I've now read the full Roll Call piece. Much of the legislative impetus, at least according to reporter Steven Dennis, is "pressure from more conservative Democrats who back" the enforcement-oriented Shuler bill, not the five-year legalization visa idea. These conservative Dems "want to be able to cast a vote they can run on," according to Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.). Is the quickie visa just an attempt to sweeten the Shuler bill to the satisfaction of the Democrats' Latino caucus? ... 3:42 P.M. link
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Justice Graham? Could President McCain get his pal Lindsey Graham onto the Supreme Court? Powerline's Paul Mirengoff thinks Graham would be a "formidable" nominee. I'm not so sure--wouldn't he face opposition from both left and right, some of it intense? He's also sneeringly self-righteous--not the modern confirmation-hearing model. ... 1:54 P.M.
2006: I can't believe I said this. ...1:15 P.M.
a) Latinos are as important a voting bloc in swing states as pundits tell us they are; and
b) many Latino voters don't want to vote for Obama, not because they know Hillary better or because they are grateful to President Clinton for rescuing Mexico during the "Tequila crisis" of 1994 (Dick Morris' explanation) but because ... well, they don't much like African-Americans**
c) doesn't it follow that Hillary has a big general election advantage Obama can't match, in that a large chunk of the Latino vote might abandon an Obama-led Democratic ticket and vote for immigration-friendly John McCain?
I'd guess (a) is a weaker link here than (b). ... P.S.: Conversely, do you think the African-American vote would abandon Clinton in a general election against McCain? That seems more far-fetched, though Robert Novak has suggested it. ...
**--Sorry, I forgot to use a euphemism. I meant to say that there is a "history of often uneasy ... relations" because of "conflicts over local resources"! ... 2:13 A.M. link
It ma y be that sensible Republican voters are rebelling againstMcCain-bashing orthodox conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, etc. But to write a column dismissing those figures for "emphasizing a host of small-bore litmus tests" and not even mention the major policy conflict over immigration seems like intellectual cowardice verging on dishonesty--or else really bad editing by the NYT. ... Not quite like attacking Eugene McCarthy for challenging LBJ and not mentioning Vietnam. But close. ... [via Lucianne] ... Update: Douthat responds with exceptional non-defensiveness and good faith. He says he left out immigration because it was one of the issues on which he tended to agree with McCain's conservative critics:
A focused critique that stuck to his immigration position, I suspect, would have done far more damage to his political viability - and/or forced him into more specific concessions than he's actually made - than the sweeping and implausible attempt to read him out of American conservatism entirely.
Then say that! ... P.S.: There should be a phrase for the improvements you come up with in an MSM piece only after its been printed and disseminated to millions around the world and you've started responding to critics online. Esprit de l'Eschaton? ... 1:41 A.M. link
Thursday, February 7, 2008
1) He pledges to appoint "judges of the character and quality of Justices Roberts and Alito." [E.A.] "Character and quality"? What about legal ideology? John Paul Stevens arguably has the "character and quality" of Roberts and Alito. He's just a legal liberal. Is there any chance that McCain will appoint someone who would curtail campaign finance reform on First Amendment grounds?
2) McCain said that "only after we achieved widespread consensus that our borders are secure" would he pursue the semi-amnesty part of his immigration reform. This non-trivial concession would be more reassuring if proponents of that reform didn't righteously claim a 'widespread consensus' in its favor in 2006 and 2007. ("[A]national consensus has formed around what the president calls 'comprehensive' immigration reform."-- Fred Barnes, May, 2006.)
3) McCain said he had "respect" for opponents of his immigration plan (which he didn't renounce) "for I know that the vast majority of critics to the bill based their opposition in a principled defense of the rule of law." Not like those others who base their opposition on bigoted yahoo nativism! McCain's semi-conciliatory words aren't what you say when you really respect your opposition--then you say "I know we have honest disagreements." Not "I know most of you aren't really racists." Even his suckup betrayed how he really feels. Which I suspect is sneering contempt! (See his former campaign manager and informal adviser Mike Murphy, who--writing under cover of a pseudonym-- likened Tom Tancredo to the "Bund"!). .... 10:49 P.M. link
Remind me again, what is the evidence--in terms of policies, not affect or attitude or negotiating strategy--that Obama is not an unreconstructed lefty (on the American spectrum--a paleoliberal or a bit further left)? For example, would he roll back welfare reform if he could? ... P.S.: One way to know Obama isn't the black Gary Hart: He's been endorsed by Gary Hart. .... Update-Reminders: Obama "fails to denounce" free trade. OK, that's one. ... More: This site, featuring anonymous posts on what he was like as a law prof, is worth monitoring. Most troubling post so far:
I took his Voting Rights Class at UChicago Law at the crack of dawn. His class was still packed. He was incredibly charasmatic and engaging, but is really, really, far-left liberal in the socialism completely rocks kind of way.
There are also untroubling posts. ...
Cutting Edge Visuals: Anderson Cooper has nothing like this. ... 4:13 P.M.
Marion Barry to endorse Obama: Isn't there something Obama can do to stop this? 12:26 P.M.
Wednesday, February 6 2008
Headline in LAT: "With No Losers, the Fight Goes On." No Losers? There were too! a) Romney! b) The LAT! And not just for a comically weak headline. The front page of the local paper I bought this morning gives the California Dem vote as "Hillary Rodham Clinton ... 54% Barack Obama ... 34%." That's twice the actual spread (which was 52-42.) There is a caveat about "partial results" but it's attached to the national delegate estimates, not the state vote; c) Zogby! His final poll in California had Obama up 13. Yow. He explains his error here. He's good at explaining his errors. Practice! d) California's Assembly Speaker Fabien Nunez and Senate president Don Perata! The Democrats they led had promised to reform gerrymandered districting. They didn't. But they did put a measure on the ballot to extend Nunez and Perata's terms. It lost. Bye! ... 9:59 P.M.
Bye, Bye Immigration? I've now heard two** Latino commentators--an NPR academic and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa--argue that it's mistaken to try to appeal to Latinos only through the issue of immigration, Latinos also care deeply about schools, economic development, etc.
Now they tell us! For years we've been hearing little except the argument that anyone who doesn't deliver on "comprehensive immigration reform" was going to lose the crucial sleeping giant ethnic swing vote for a generation. Suddenly it's 'Don't be condescending. There are other ways to win over Hispanics.' Glad to hear it.
But why this shift now? I can think of several theories: 1) Obama tried pandering to Latinos on amnesty and drivers' licenses and it didn't work; 2) Now that California is out of the way, Democrats are looking to the general election, and are therefore trying to move away from the immigration issue because a pro-amnesty and pro-license position would cost them centrist votes; Indeed, after his week of immigration-based Hispandering, Obama didn't even mention those issues (or Latinos) in his laundry-listish Election Night speech, at least as far as I can hear. 3) Specifically, Democrats are preparing for a general election campaign against McCain. The legalization issue won't cut against McCain, who is Mr. Legalization. So Dems have to emphasize other issues--e.g., their traditional support for public schools. And maybe--just maybe--they are setting set the stage for a sneak attack against McCain from his right (at least by Hillary, perhaps on the license issue). 4) The Dems are looking beyond even the general election to governing, and they are trying to avoid leaving Latinos with the expectation that "comprehensive reform" will actually be accomplished early in Clinton or Obama's term--something the Dems have no intention of doing because they want to concentrate on health care; 5) Latinos recognize that by seeming to be single issue voters focused obsessively on allowing more Latinos into the country, they are giving themselves a bad name with everyone else. ...
**--I know--it takes one more to be a Trend. I'm jumping on early. ... 2:02 A.M. link
Double Trouble-When did Theresa LePore move to town? I voted today in Los Angeles and can confirm the complaints from the Obama campaign that the so-called "double bubble" ballot given to non-partisan voters was confusing. Independents were allowed to vote in the Democratic primary, but if they didn't check a little box at the top of the list (in addition to picking a candidate) the machine didn't count their votes. ... I suppose if you read the instructions carefully you could figure it out. I was in a hurry, almost didn't notice the box and only bothered to verify that as a Democrat I didn't have to check it. ... But that raises the question of why the box had to be there at all. If the machine knows I'm a Democrat--and therefore don't have to check the box--that must be because I was given a special Democrat ballot. Which means there must be another kind of ballot--an independent ballot. Which means the machine already knows, if you get an independent ballot and vote in the Democratic primary that you are an independent voting in the Democratic primary! Checking the box is redundant. Why require it? .... One reason it is so confusing, in other words, is because it's nonsensical. ...I'm sure many, many independents wound up not having their votes counted, which presumably cost Obama. ... P.S.: Unless, of course, my vote wasn't counted either. [Whom for?--ed Not telling]
29%: Did Latinos really make up 29% of California Democratic voters, and blacks only 6%? Those are the numbers from the exit polls you hear bandied about--but there appear to be some doubters. ... In the 2004 Dem primary--admittedly, not an early and exciting contest like this years--the figures were 16% Latino, 8% black, notes Blumenthal. How did the African American share go down with Obama in the race? ... Update: Are missing absentee ballots the explanation? ... Valued anecdotal evidence: From emailer Y:
me and my girlfriend vote at heavily Latino precincts in Hollywood. Turn out was not especially heavy -- there were no more than a signature or two on each page on the sign in sheets when we voted mid-day, and the poll workers were saying things were slow.
12:03 A.M. link
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Pollster.com's Mark Blumenthal is liveblogging and, more important, posting his own state-by-state projections based on public exit poll data. ... Should be faster than all the results that are better and better than all the results that are faster! ... So far it looks as if McCain is losing to both Huckabee and Romney in Georgia, but barely. ... 4:33 P.M.
American Apparel, giant L.A.-based maker of mostly crappy t-shirts, has apparently sent an email to its employees urging them to vote for McCain or Obama because Hillary has shown an insufficient "committment" to immigrant legalization ... P.S.: You mean a huge, rich company can send an email urging its captive audience of workers to vote for Obama, but if I spend $1,001 starting a Web site or handing out leaflets on the street for the same purpose I have to pay a lawyer to register with the federal government as a "political committee"? ... Update: American Apparel's campaigning may be, you know, not so legal. ...11:31 A.M. link
"It's all about the Giants winning," said Greg Packer, 44 ..." ... 1:38 A.M.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Mike Murphy, over the top! Gloating about the "anti-immigrant Bund." Close to a violation of the Hitler Rule, no? In my neighborhood that's who the Bund supported. ... Anyway, since Murphy's an informal McCain adviser, his rhetoric--he also throws around "nativist"--offers a good clue as to what the McCain camp really thinks on the immigration issue, despite McCain's recent claims that he "got the message" after the defeat of his mass-legalization bill. ... 'I'll secure the goddamned border if those racists want it' seems like a fair summary.** ...
**--A more cynical summary would be: 'I'll pretend to secure the goddamned border ...' ... 2:01 P.M. link
(If a tree surges in the forest but everybody's already voted ...: In California, "half the ballots cast in the primary will be absentee ballots." I didn't realize the absentee proportion was that high. A big boost for Hillary given the recent Obama surge. ... Q: Does heavy, early absentee voting undermine the Drama Principle or reinforce it? In this case, it's arguably making the race more exciting. ... 1:20 P.M.
Clinton campaign announces new theme song! 1:01 P.M.
Mickey's Single Issue Voter's Guide: Suppose you were a single issue voter, and your single issue was immigration. Specifically, you were opposed to legislation that combines some form of amnesty (legalization of existing illegal immigrants) with tougher border enforcement. If so, you would probably be pretty depressed right now--three of the four leading presidential candidates explicitly favor such "comprehensive" reform. The fourth, Mitt Romney is the least likely to win. And even he's suspected of being a closet comprehensivist.
But you still have to vote. Before you did, you'd want to ask: Which of the three pro-legalization candidates is least likely to accomplish their legislative goal? When you think about it this way, a clear and somewhat surprising ranking of top three emerges.
1) Hillary Clinton would probably be the best president for anti-comprehensivists. She's cautious. She's been burned by GOP opposition before (to her 1994 health plan). Is she really going attempt both health care reform and immigration reform in her first two years? Remember, Rahm Emmanuel's swing-state Democratic congressmen typically ran tough-on-illegals campaigns. They're squeamish about voting for "amnesty." If Hillary is president (meaning John McCain isn't president) the Republicans are likely to unite against a Democratic legalization plan. Meanwhile, Hillary's political adviser James Carville is on record suggesting that legalization, like welfare, is a potential election-loser. Hillary suppporter Paul Krugman seems one of those remaining economists who actually believe in supply and demand--i.e., that an increase in the supply of immigrant labor can drive down unskilled wages. And Hillary herself has made anti-illegals noises in the past, including reversing her endorsement of Gov. Spitzer's drivers license plan.
2) Barack Obama, on the other hand, may actually believe his standard-left immigration positons. He's shown an ability to bridge the partisan divide and get things done. All deeply troubling, in this case.. But at least he too would have a hard time getting both a health care plan and immigration legislation through Congress against opposition from Republicans (McCain having lost).
3) President McCain would seem like a replay of George W. Bush. Bush couldn't get his "comprehensive" immigration plan through, even with a Democratic Congress. What would be different with McCain? Quite a bit. a) McCain's likely to be more popular, at least if Iraq continues to improve; b) The Democrats are likely to have bigger Congressional majorities; c) McCain might be able to claim voter validation of his long-standing pro-legalization views. Certainly the Republicans wouldn't be united against a McCain "comprehensive" bill. Unlike Clinton and Obama, McCain doesn't have ambitious New Dealish health legislation that would compete for his and Congress' time and energy.
True, it would still be difficult to pass a McCainish immigration plan--you can imagine the Democrats splitting just like Republicans when faced with something that might actually become law. McCain would have campaigned on his pledge to secure the borders--his current plan for a quickie assurance by "border state" governors might be too transparent a ploy (especially if the press was reporting a continuing flow of illegals). Nevertheless,,McCain seems clearly the worst of the three possibilities, from an anti-comprehensivist perspective.
I'm not saying voters should be single-issue voters. I'm not saying I'm going to vote for Hillary. I'm just saying ...
P.S.: OK,, I'm not just just saying. If I thought either Clinton or Obama would do a much better job on health care, that would be one thing. But both seem well-positioned to actually pass some big, broad health plan. An immigration plan, on the other hand, seems much iffier. It could pass or fail depending on who's president. And, unlike a health care plan, an immigration legalization bill is likely to have large, irreversible consequences. Misconceived health plans can be altered or repealed (remember "catastrophic insurance"?). But if a misconceived immigration amnesty attracts millions of new illegal entrants who then have to be given citizenship--on top of the new citizens created by the amnesty itself--it won't just lower unskilled wages etc. It will profoundly alter the very electorate that will have to consider any future change of course.
In this context, single-issue voting could be a highly responsible course.
Vote Hillary. She won't get it done! ... 2:15 A.M. link
Sunday, February 3, 2008
The Drama Principle:
Q: What do you get when you combine the Feiler Faster Thesis(voters are comfortable processing info quickly) with the Theory of the Two Electorates (the mass of voters who don't follow politics are less informed than they used to be and only tune in at the last minute) with the 50-50 Forever theory (elections will be close from here on out as competing parties and candidates continually adjust to please 51% of the voters--and the ideological and institutional barriers to this adjustment dissolve)?
A: You get elections that are a) close but b) might not look close three, two, or even one day before the vote. Typically, one candidate A will be ahead, but Candidate B will start surging, or A will start collapsing. with startling rapidity as the late-tuning electorate rushes to rapidly learn about the race just in time to vote. Candidate B will look like he or she is, yes, racing against the clock! But that could be deceptive. It could not be so much that voters are changing their minds from A to B--if B only had two more days B would win!--so much as that they are all making up their minds once and for all, in quite orderly fashion, but only doing this at the very end (if B had two more days it wouldn't make a difference).
Daily tracking polls that end on Monday might not be good enough in this situation. You'd need hourly tracking polls that start on Monday morning. ... We do seem to be seeing a lot of last minute surges and surprises lately, no? ... 2:55 P.M. link
Friday, February 1, 2008
Cardinal Murphy has word of a poll showing Obama tied in ... California. Yikes. Is the Hispandering working? That would fit with the Skurnik "Two Electorates" theory--most Latino voters, like most other voters, tune in only for the last few days, and what theynow see is Obama talking about giving drivers' licenses to illegals. ... 3:55 P.M.
The Annotated Pander: Barack Obama presented himself after Iowa as the candidate who "won't just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know." But that was then.
Now, if you're a Latino voter, he'll just tell you what you want to hear. He's in the middle of a desperate Hispandering initiative, which culminated in this exchange last night, which I've annotated:
CUMMINGS: This is from Kim Millman (ph) from Burnsville, Minnesota. And she says, "there's been no acknowledgement by any of the presidential candidates of the negative economic impact of immigration on the African-American community. How do you propose to address the high unemployment rates and the declining wages in the African-American community that are related to the flood of immigrant labor?"
Senator Obama, you want to go first on that? And it's for both of you.
OBAMA: Well, let me first of all say that I have worked on the streets of Chicago as an organizer with people who have been laid off from steel plants, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and, you know, all of them are feeling economically insecure right now, and they have been for many years. Before the latest round of immigrants showed up, you had huge unemployment rates among African-American youth.
And, so, I think to suggest somehow that the problem that we're seeing in inner-city unemployment, for example, is attributable to immigrants, I think, is a case of scapegoating that I do not believe in, I do not subscribe to. 
And this is where we do have a very real difference with the other party.
OBAMA: I believe that we can be a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.
Now, there is no doubt that we have to get control of our borders. We can't have hundreds of thousands of people coming over to the United States without us having any idea who they are 
I also believe that we do have to crack down on those employers that are taking advantage of the situation, hiring folks who cannot complain about worker conditions, who aren't getting the minimum wage sometimes, or aren't getting overtime. We have to crack down on them.  I also believe we have to give a pathway to citizenship after they have paid a fine and learned English, to those who are already here, because if we don't, they will continue to undermine U.S. wages.
But let's understand more broadly that the economic problems that African-Americans are experiencing, whites are experienc[ing], blacks and Latinos are experiencing in this country are all rooted in the fact that we have had an economy out of balance. We've had tax cuts that went up instead of down. We have had a lack of investment in basic infrastructure in this country. Our education system is chronically underfunded.
And so, there are a whole host of reasons why we have not been generating the kinds of jobs that we are generating. We should not use immigration as a tactic to divide. Instead, we should pull the country together to get this economy back on track.
: "Scapegoating" does for me what "timetable" apparently does for John McCain--it signals complete, maddening ideological disconnect. It's typically used by liberals--as it is here--in a doomed attempt to make a social problem highlighted by conservatives simply go away. You see it wasn't that welfare subsidized an isolated culture of non-work and broken families that produced poverty and crime--welfare recipients were just "scapegoats" for economic frustrations caused by a bad economy! And it's not that illegal immigration lowers unskilled wages and makes it harder for blacks to escape that inner-city culture of poverty. That's "scapegoating" also. (African-Americans who complain about immigrants must just be too foolish to figure that out.)
This isn't the language of a politician who wants to transcend partisan difference. This is the language of a politician who wants to wallow in partisan (and ideological) cant! Obama knows better, of course--he gave a very different answer at the time of the big immigration marches of May, 2006 [E.A.]:
It does appear that undocumented workers have a somewhat adverse effect in depressing the wages of low-skill workers, which is why in the African-American community, for example, there is some nervousness of about the number of undocumented workers that are coming into this country and whether they are systematically replacing or pushing out low-skill, low-wage black workers.
I doubt he's changed his mind. He's just pandering.
 Obama can't even bring himself to say that the problem of losing control of the borders is the number of illegal immigrants who come in. No, it's just that we don't know "who they are"! The suggestion to his target constituency is that he's happy with unlimited immigration as long as all those tens of millions of immigrants are identified. ...
 Most pathetically, he says he wants to crack down on employers who violate minimum wage laws, etc, but can't even bring himself to say he would crack down on employers because they hire illegals. Sanctions against such employers--even if they pay the minimum wage--are the conventional core of the "comprehensive" enforcement-for-amnesty deal. Often Democrats overeemphasize these sanctions as a way of bashing employers instead of immigrants and avoiding talk of a fence. But this week, apparently, mentioning the completely respectable Bush/McCain/Kennedy sanctions idea is too comprehensive for Obama. Risks upsetting some Latino voters. They don't "need to know," I guess. ...
Swoontime is over here at kf. ... 2:56 A.M. link
Thursday, January 31, 2008
It sure sounded like a concession speech to me. ... Rush Limbaugh could have called on conservatives across the country to rally to Romney and stop McCain. He didn't. That seems like a big signal. ... 1:37 P.M. link
Maybe you can figure out if McCain actually answered Janet Hook's question last night [E.A.] [Update: Transcript has been corrected. See below]:
HOOK: Senator McCain, let me just take the issue to you, because you obviously have been very involved in it. During this campaign, you, like your rivals, have been putting the first priority, heaviest emphasis on border security. But your original immigration proposal back in 2006 was much broader and included a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were already here. What I'm wondering is -- and you seem to be downplaying that part. At this point, if your original proposal came to a vote on the Senate floor, would you vote for it? MCCAIN: It won't. It won't. That's why we went through the debate... HOOK: But if it did? MCCAIN: No, I would not,[**] because we know what the situation is today. The people want the border secured first. And so to say that that would come to the floor of the Senate -- it won't. We went through various amendments which prevented that ever -- that proposal. But, look, we're all in agreement as to what we need to do. Everybody knows it. We can fight some more about it, about who wanted this or who wanted that. But the fact is, we all know the American people want the border secured first. MCCAIN: We will secure the borders first when I am president of the United States. I know how to do that. I come from a border state, where we know about building walls, and vehicle barriers, and sensors, and all of the things necessary. I will have the border state governors certify the borders are secured. And then we will move onto the other aspects of this issue, probably as importantly as tamper-proof biometric documents, which then, unless an employer hires someone with those documents, that employer will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And that will cause a lot of people to leave voluntarily. There's 2 million people who are here who have committed crimes. They have to be rounded up and deported. And we're all basically in agreement there are humanitarian situations. It varies with how long they've been here, et cetera, et cetera. We are all committed to carrying out the mandate of the American people, which is a national security issue, which is securing the borders. That was part of the original proposal, but the American people didn't trust or have confidence in us that we would do it. So we now know we have to secure the borders first, and that is what needs to be done. That's what I'll do as president of the United States. COOPER: So I just want to confirm that you would not vote for your bill as it originally was? MCCAIN: My bill will not be voted on; it will not be voted on. I will sit and work with Democrats and Republicans and with all people. And we will have the principals securing the borders first. And then, if you want me to go through the description all over again, I would be glad to. We will secure the borders first. That's the responsibility and the priority of the American people. COOPER: Actually, we're going to be taking a short break At first I thought he'd answered "no," which would be one interpretation if the boldfaced words were punctuated "No. It would not ..." But on second and third thought it's pretty clear Anderson Cooper let McCain bully his questioner and escape without answering. It was a straightforward and relevant query: 'Would you still support the bill you spent much of your recent Senate career championing?' ... Update: It turns out he did answer "no," as the corrected transcript shows, but then followed it up with a lot of language suggesting he was simply denying the hypothetical--e.g. "No, I would not sign it simply because it would never come up." P.S.: I don't quite understand why McCain can't just simply say, "No" without crabbily disputing the question. (He could then give the same little talk about securing the borders, how he's gotten the message etc.) Unless, of course, the real answer is "Yes." ... **Transcript corrected.I had originally posted CNN's transcript, which reports what McCain said as "No, it would not." In fact, he said "No, I would not." You can view it here. Thanks to Ace of Spades. ... 1:17 A.M. link ___________________________ Wednesday, January 30, 2008 When is Rielle Hunter due? Soon, I should think. If her baby's first words are "I'm the grandson of a mill worker!" that will be a clue. ... Update: Comes now news that Edwards is dropping out. That was sudden, no? It seems like only yesterday--because it was--that his Deputy Campaign Manager Jonathan Prince was quoted boasting to reporters that in the "worst case scenario" Edwards would control 20 to 25 percent of the delegates at the convention and would probably play a decisive role. ... Alert reader D.E. reports that the headline in his print edition of today's Los Angeles Times is ""Edwards, onward He's told skeptics before, he's in it 'for the long haul.'" ... More: Edwards was still sending out fundraising appeals Tuesday morning. ... 2:01 A.M.
HOOK: Senator McCain, let me just take the issue to you, because you obviously have been very involved in it. During this campaign, you, like your rivals, have been putting the first priority, heaviest emphasis on border security. But your original immigration proposal back in 2006 was much broader and included a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were already here.
What I'm wondering is -- and you seem to be downplaying that part. At this point, if your original proposal came to a vote on the Senate floor, would you vote for it?
MCCAIN: It won't. It won't. That's why we went through the debate...
HOOK: But if it did?
MCCAIN: No, I would not,[**] because we know what the situation is today. The people want the border secured first. And so to say that that would come to the floor of the Senate -- it won't. We went through various amendments which prevented that ever -- that proposal.
But, look, we're all in agreement as to what we need to do. Everybody knows it. We can fight some more about it, about who wanted this or who wanted that. But the fact is, we all know the American people want the border secured first.
MCCAIN: We will secure the borders first when I am president of the United States. I know how to do that. I come from a border state, where we know about building walls, and vehicle barriers, and sensors, and all of the things necessary.
I will have the border state governors certify the borders are secured. And then we will move onto the other aspects of this issue, probably as importantly as tamper-proof biometric documents, which then, unless an employer hires someone with those documents, that employer will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And that will cause a lot of people to leave voluntarily.
There's 2 million people who are here who have committed crimes. They have to be rounded up and deported.
And we're all basically in agreement there are humanitarian situations. It varies with how long they've been here, et cetera, et cetera.
We are all committed to carrying out the mandate of the American people, which is a national security issue, which is securing the borders. That was part of the original proposal, but the American people didn't trust or have confidence in us that we would do it.
So we now know we have to secure the borders first, and that is what needs to be done. That's what I'll do as president of the United States.
COOPER: So I just want to confirm that you would not vote for your bill as it originally was?
MCCAIN: My bill will not be voted on; it will not be voted on. I will sit and work with Democrats and Republicans and with all people. And we will have the principals securing the borders first.
And then, if you want me to go through the description all over again, I would be glad to. We will secure the borders first. That's the responsibility and the priority of the American people.
COOPER: Actually, we're going to be taking a short break
At first I thought he'd answered "no," which would be one interpretation if the boldfaced words were punctuated "No. It would not ..." But on second and third thought it's pretty clear Anderson Cooper let McCain bully his questioner and escape without answering. It was a straightforward and relevant query: 'Would you still support the bill you spent much of your recent Senate career championing?' ...
Update: It turns out he did answer "no," as the corrected transcript shows, but then followed it up with a lot of language suggesting he was simply denying the hypothetical--e.g. "No, I would not sign it simply because it would never come up."
P.S.: I don't quite understand why McCain can't just simply say, "No" without crabbily disputing the question. (He could then give the same little talk about securing the borders, how he's gotten the message etc.) Unless, of course, the real answer is "Yes." ...
**Transcript corrected.I had originally posted CNN's transcript, which reports what McCain said as "No, it would not." In fact, he said "No, I would not." You can view it here. Thanks to Ace of Spades. ... 1:17 A.M. link
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
When is Rielle Hunter due? Soon, I should think. If her baby's first words are "I'm the grandson of a mill worker!" that will be a clue. ... Update: Comes now news that Edwards is dropping out. That was sudden, no? It seems like only yesterday--because it was--that his Deputy Campaign Manager Jonathan Prince was quoted boasting to reporters that in the "worst case scenario" Edwards would control 20 to 25 percent of the delegates at the convention and would probably play a decisive role. ... Alert reader D.E. reports that the headline in his print edition of today's Los Angeles Times is ""Edwards, onward He's told skeptics before, he's in it 'for the long haul.'" ... More: Edwards was still sending out fundraising appeals Tuesday morning. ... 2:01 A.M.
You can glimpse the rip in the Republican party in raw blog form over at The Corner. [Search for "lecture."] Should they rally against McCain to preserve their ideology, or rally around McCain, mainly for foreign policy reasons? I'm all for protracted civil war--but then I'm not a Republican. (I find it hard to believe that either of my party's likely candidates is going to snatch defeat from the jaws of satisfactory in Iraq). Still, you'd think that even a Republican would require McCain to pull more than 40% of the vote in at least one primary before deciding that he's the inevitable nominee. ... P.S.: Dick Morris argues that only McCain can beat Hillary. What if the nominee's Obama? And is the Latino vote really a Hillary weak spot, where pro-legalization McCain could make big inroads? I thought Latinos were, so far, on Hillary's side (in that other civil war). ... P.P.S.: Come to think of it, the Dual Civil Wars (orthodox vs. heretic in the GOP, brown vs. black on the Dem side) is a pretty good Neutral Story Line for the MSM. It beats "Is this any way to elect a president." ... 1:26 A.M.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
According to the exit poll, even while winning Florida, McCain still lost among Republicans. (Update: Now it shows him tied with Romney.**) I didn't know that was possible in a "closed" primary. Yet it took the 17% percent of voters who identified themselves as "independent" put McCain over the top. ...
P.S.: Maybe the 17% were voters who think they are independents but haven't changed their party registration. More alarming is the phenomenon described in this news account (subsequently highlighted by Drudge):
In northern Coral Springs, near the Sawgrass Expressway and Coral Ridge Drive, David Nirenberg arrived to vote as an independent. Nevertheless, he said poll workers insisted he choose a party ballot.
"He said to me, 'Are you Democrat or Republican?' I said, 'Neither, I am independent.' He said, 'Well, you have to pick one,''' Nirenberg said.
In Florida, only those who declare a party are allowed to cast a vote in that party's presidential primary.
Nirenberg said he tried to explain to the poll worker that he should not vote on a party ballot because of his "no party affiliation" status.
Nirenberg said a second poll worker was called over who agreed that independents should not use party ballots, but said they had received instructions to the contrary.
"He said, 'Ya know, that is kind of funny, but it was what we were told.' … I was shocked when they told me that." Nirenberg said he went ahead and voted for John McCain. [E.A.]
The Cristian Right at work? ... ___________________________ Monday, January 28, 2008 "Mexico First" Update: Making a distinction I failed to make, Mark Krikorian argues that it's possible, in theory, for someone to promote "amnesty and accelerated mass immigration" and yet still "support firm borders and patriotic assimilation."But McCain's "Hispanic Outreach Director" Juan Hernandez is not that someone. He
Monday, January 28, 2008
"Mexico First" Update: Making a distinction I failed to make, Mark Krikorian argues that it's possible, in theory, for someone to promote "amnesty and accelerated mass immigration" and yet still "support firm borders and patriotic assimilation."But McCain's "Hispanic Outreach Director" Juan Hernandez is not that someone. He
has spent years opposing the very legitimacy of America's borders and Americanization in the most public way possible.
Highlight reel here. ... P.S.: McCain's National Finance Co-Chair appears to be Jerrold Perenchio, who made a fortune with Univision and has been a major defender of failed bilingual education policies. The longer people speak Spanish and not English, after all, the more they watch Univision., right?... Out here in L.A. we also remember Perenchio's secret golf course! See Jill Stewart [search for "poisons"] and the Surfrider Foundation. ...9:22 P.M. link
Some behind-the-scenes evidence of what McCain really thinks about making sure that English remains the common language amid a flood of Spanish-speaking immigrants. Victor Davis Hanson take note. ... Update: Hanson doesn't want to hear any
second-hand reports about what McCain purportedly said in Senate cloak rooms, or what is reported through anonymous sources about interviews he gave, or the legion of his other noted supposed sins ...
Hmm. Aren't second hand reports about what a pol says often the best evidence of what he actually thinks? Isn't that some of the evidence future historians will use--and if so, why shouldn't voters know it? Or are we to judge McCain and others only by the staged public announcements? Finally, don't anonymous sources often have good reason to remain anonymous and yet provide good information? (The source in this case, remember, wasn't anonymous to the reporter who reported on the incident. Ramesh Ponnuru said it was a "Senate source whom I trust." The source was just not idenfitied to readers.) ... 6:59 P.M. link
Anti-Swoon Medication: The Obama campaign is emphasizing his support for giving illegals drivers licenses, and more:
The Illinois senator is differentiating himself in three key areas: driver's licenses, a promise to take up immigration reform his first year in office, and his background as the son of an immigrant (his father was Kenyan) and a community organizer in Chicago.
Obama made the promise to Latino leaders to take up immigration reform in his first year after Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., chairman of the Democratic caucus, said his party might not raise the divisive issue again until the next president's second term, assuming a Democrat wins. [E.A.]
Of course, there's "taking up" and there's taking up. Is President Obama really going to spend his first-year capital attempting comprehensive immigration reform--putting all Emanuel's borderline House Dems on the spot, giving the GOP an issue for 2010--when he also has health care and possibly the econony to deal with? ...
P.S.: I'm grasping here! ...
P.P.S.: Obama's bold Hispandering makes me eager to defeat ...McCain! Given the likelihood that either Obama or Hillary will be in the White House in 2009, it would be good to have at least one party that isn't formally committeed to rapid legalization and can therefore act as a check on the Democratic candidates' impulses. The only way to achieve that is to make it clear that, within the Republican party, self-righteous pro-legalization activism is a political loser. Beating McCain is the way to drive that message home. ... 4:11 P.M.
McCain's "Mexico First" Aide: Is it fair to make an issue out of John McCain's "Hispanic Outreach Director" Juan Hernandez, a dual U.S.-Mexican citizen who was in the cabinet of the government of Mexico, seems to advocate the free flow of citizens over the border, and famously said of Mexican-Americans
"I want the third generation, the seventh generation, I want them all to think 'Mexico first." [E.A.]
kf says yes!
1) McCain seems to have conned a lot of Republicans into thinking he's transformed his position on immigration--for example, Victor Davis Hanson, author of "Mexifornia," who now writes about "McCain's won't-make-that-mistake-again changed views on closing the border." This even though it's obvious to anyone paying attention that McCain hasn't altered his support for legalization of illegals (once he's declared the border "secure"). One reason we know this is because he's said it-- he said it again on Meet the Press yesterday, when asked if he'd sign the McCain-Kennedy "comprehensive" immigration bill as president if it came to his desk. Answer: "Yeah." If somebody like Hernandez, as McCain also said yesterday, "supports my policies and my proposals," it serves to emphasize that those policies may not have changed as much as cheap dates like Hanson seem to believe. Hernandez's own Web site features an article describing him as "passionately" advocating legalization of "all Mexican workers in the U.S." [What about McCain's statement that: "I will not allow anyone to receive Social Security or any other benefits because they have come here illegally and broken our laws"?--ed Obvious BS. If he offers legalization to the "12 million" who are here they will clearly get benefits from having come here illegally--the benefit of being here legally, for one. Medicaid, Medicare, and public schooling for another. People who came here illegally would also immediately qualify for Social Security benefits as soon as they got the quickie "probationary" Z-visa under McCain's bill. The only way McCain's statement would make sense is if he was also planning to offer these benefits to everyone who didn't cross the border--i.e. the entire population of Mexico. ... Actually, that doesn't seem too far from Dr. Hernandez's philosophy. ... You don't think ...]
2. Hernandez's "Mexico first" comment isn't quite as bad as it initially seems. Here's the full Nightline back and forth:
(OC) Has the Mexican-American--and just Mexicans in America, that population--now become successful and wealthy enough to give back here that that becomes a piece of the puzzle?
Mr. HERNANDEZ: We are betting on that the Mexican-American population in the United States will become more and more like the Jewish community of the United States, like the Puerto Rican community of the United States, that they will think 'Mexico first,' and they will invest in Mexico. They've already been doing it--in--in--in--to a great extent.
AMOS: But that's family to family?
Mr. HERNANDEZ: Family to family. But now I want the third generation, the seventh generation, I want them all to think 'Mexico first.'
OK, so he says he wants Mexicans to think of Mexico the way Jews think of Israel. And maybe he's talking mainly about investment, not dual loyalty (though why shouldn't dual citizens have dual loyalties? Isn't that the point?). But would any Israeli emissary or American Jewish leader have the chutzpah to urge Americans to "think 'Israel First'"? I doubt it. And I doubt Dr. Hernandez has in mind a relationship of Mexico to the millions of Mexican Americans just over the border (a not-undisputed border, actually) that's the same as the relationship of Israel has with overseas Jewish diasporans.
3. Imagine if Hillary Clinton (or Barack Obama) had an aide who ran around saying such things. Would it cause a controversy? Ask Lani Guinier!
P.S.: Hot Air has posted a montage of Hernandez' TV appearances. Again, at first you think it's unfair--it undoubtedly is--but by the end he gives you the geniune creeps, having perfected a combination of Jeff Birnbaum's oleaginous faux-joviality and Tom Cruise's inexplicably wired commitment. ... P.P.S.: Here's his Web site home page. ...
Sunday, January 27, 2008
What's more dangerous than "a wounded guy with a lot of money"**? A desperate guy with a lot of self-righteousness! Paul Mirengoff makes the best case for McCain's charge that Romney "wanted to set a date for withdrawal" from Iraq. It's still weak!*** (See also AP and Lowry and Ponnuru.) McCain seems to believe his wartime heroism entitles him to an unlimited moral bank account that he can withdraw from whenever it's in his self-interest to do something dishonest. Of course, sometime down the road when it helps advance his candidacy he may righteously apologize for having lied to advance his candidacy--and bask in the press' fawning over this "extraordinary act of contrition," the same way he did in 2000. ...
**--Quote is from Lindsey Graham. [What about him?--ed He's McCain with all the self-righteousness but none of the heroism.]
This article--purporting to show that ideas of "massive economic benefits accruing to African-Americans in the '90s were largely an illusion"--has been at the top of Slate's "most-emailed" list for a while, which is scary because it's ... unpersuasive. Extremely unpersuasive! Here's just one chart that would seem to refute it. (The chart shows the black poverty rate in an impressive plunge between 1993 to 2000, while the white rate declines only mildly. The underlying official numbers are here. See also ... and also.). ... 1:56 P.M.
About the Florida and Michigan delegations: On TV theyv'e been confidently talking about Hillary's call for seating the Michigan and Florida delegations as if that will be her trump card at a contested convention. She'll almost certainly win the Florida vote next week, and she's already won in Michigan. But I don't see how the convention can fairly award Hillary the delegates from those states after the DNC got her competitors to pledge not to campaign in those states' primaries. Doesn't that discredit those primaries? Or should Obama and Edwards be punished because they obeyed their party? ... Maybe the convention should seat some Florida and Michigan delegates, but if so you'd think the party would make those states choose them anew through an actual contested election, caucus, or convention. ... What am I missing? ... [Tks. to reader D.J.] 1:14 A.M. link
On the bright side: The Hillary campaign shakeup-- cruelly delayed by the unexpected victory in New Hampshire--may now be back on track. ... Suggested headline: "Quantum of Solis"! ... 12:46 A.M.
They've lost Josh? TPM: "If the constitution allowed it, I'd happily have Clinton back. I'd happily have Hillary in his place. But I don't want them both." ... 12:40 A.M.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Key anti-identity-politics, anti-ghettoization passage in Obama's victory speech:
And what we've seen in these last weeks is that we're also up against forces that are not the fault of any one campaign, but feed the habits that prevent us from being who we want to be as a nation. It's the politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon. A politics that tells us that we have to think, act, and even vote within the confines of the categories that supposedly define us. The assumption that young people are apathetic. The assumption that Republicans won't cross over. The assumption that the wealthy care nothing for the poor, and that the poor don't vote. The assumption that African-Americans can't support the white candidate; whites can't support the African-American candidate ....
Works for me. ... [The passage works for you or the "assumption" works for you?--reader M. The passage. I'm being non-snarky. Perilously close to swooning!] ... 6:38 P.M.
Why does the crowd at Obama's victory rally just happen to look like a perfect, multiracial group of pleasant, idealistic, attractive Americans? I suspect it's because the crowd at Obama rallies typically is a perfect multiracial group of pleasant idealistic, attractive Americans. I've never been in a more benign-seeming group. They're clean! (And articulate!) Maybe a little edgeless. ... 6:28 P.M.
Attempted Ghettoization: Now that Bill Clinton has explicitly belittled Obama's South Carolina victory by comparing it to Jesse Jackson's, how does Obama's share of the white vote compare with Jackson's in 1988? Obama got about a quarter (24%) of the white vote, according to exit polls. ... Was there even an exit poll of the 1988 caucuses? I can't find one. ... Update: Alert emailer L finds the following in a Christian Science Monitor story from March 17, 1988:
Although Jackson's white support was significantly higher in South Carolina than in 1984 - it is estimated this year at between 5 and 10 percent of the voters - he has not made much headway with populist, blue-collar whites ... [E.A.]
24% vs. 5-10%. It looks as if Bill Clinton's comparison will not work to his wife's advantage. ... More: Tom Maguire asks the same question and gets the same answer, from an old New York Times story. The "5 percent to 10 percent" estimate of the white vote for Jackson seems to come from "party leaders." ... Maguire has several other useful comments. ... [Aren't you doing exactly what Charles Franklin recommended and you pooh-poohed--looking at exit polls?--ed Yes. Maybe someone else can derive numbers from the actual hard county-by-county vote count.]
Question #2: Which campaign wants John Edwards out now? Obviously, Hillary wants him out of Southern states, but there are a lot more non-Southern states where he might split the "change" or "anti-Hillary" vote with Obama, no? ... P.S.: If you want Edwards gone, remember kf 's solution, which does not require investigating the Rielle Hunter mess! It's to give Edwards' popular wife a talk show--something suitably influential and rewarding to do, post-campaign. ... Update: Dickerson makes a good point about Edwards--
If he stays in the race, he might want to rethink all that support he gave Hillary during the last debate. He defended her and attacked Obama, and all he got was an accusation [via robocall ] that he's a counterfeit home forecloser?
4:05 P.M. link
Undernews Alert--The Barrett Report's redacted pages? Clinton skeptics were disappointed when special counsel David Barrett's report didn't prove rampant Clintonian abuse of the IRS. (See here, search for "Kohoutek"). But some 120 pages of the reporthad been redacted. Did John Kerry endorse Obama rather than Clinton because he's seen what's in them? Mark Goodman suggests as much. The obvious problem with this theory is that if, as Goodman admits, the redacted pages "can be exhumed on demand by any member of Congress," you'd think that at least one of the 535 members would be enough of a Hillary enemy to have obtained and leaked any sensational charges they contain by now. ... 1:53 P.M.
Pre-S.C. Questions: 1)If Hillary comes in third in South Carolina, will Time's Mark Halperin still insist it was a stroke of genius for her to have "[f]orced Obama to spend an entire week in South Carolina while H. Clinton traveled to Super Tuesday states"? ... 2) Did anybody in those Super Tuesday states pay much attention to her? ... 3) If Edwards can steal the white male vote from her in South Carolina, what's to stop him from doing the same thing on Super Tuesday in states like Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee--even Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Idaho and Utah? ... 1:19 A.M.
___________________________ Bloggingheads--Bob Wright's videoblog project. Gearbox--Searching for the Semi-Orgasmic Lock-in. Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--He reports! And decides! Wonkette--Makes Jack Shafer feel guilty. Salon--Survives! kf gloating on hold. Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! David Corn--Trustworthy reporting from the left. Washington Monthly--Includes Charlie Peters' proto-blog. Lucianne.com--Stirs the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. Keller's Calmer Times--Registration required. NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare! Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog. Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. Overlawyered.com--Daily horror stories. Eugene Volokh--Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna's Huffosphere--Now a whole fleet of hybrid vehicles. TomPaine.com--Web-lib populists. Take on the News--TomPaine's blog. B-Log--Blog of spirituality! Hit & Run--Reason gone wild! Daniel Weintraub--Beeblogger and Davis Recall Central. Eduwonk--You'll never have to read another mind-numbing education story again. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. John Leo--If you've got political correctness, he's got a column. Gawker--It's come to this. Eat the Press--Sklarianna & Co. are like Gawker if Gawker actually believed in something. ... Luke Ford--Go for the sex, stay for the self-loathing. ... [More tk]
Bloggingheads--Bob Wright's videoblog project. Gearbox--Searching for the Semi-Orgasmic Lock-in. Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--He reports! And decides! Wonkette--Makes Jack Shafer feel guilty. Salon--Survives! kf gloating on hold. Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! David Corn--Trustworthy reporting from the left. Washington Monthly--Includes Charlie Peters' proto-blog. Lucianne.com--Stirs the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. Keller's Calmer Times--Registration required. NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare! Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog. Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. Overlawyered.com--Daily horror stories. Eugene Volokh--Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna's Huffosphere--Now a whole fleet of hybrid vehicles. TomPaine.com--Web-lib populists. Take on the News--TomPaine's blog. B-Log--Blog of spirituality! Hit & Run--Reason gone wild! Daniel Weintraub--Beeblogger and Davis Recall Central. Eduwonk--You'll never have to read another mind-numbing education story again. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. John Leo--If you've got political correctness, he's got a column. Gawker--It's come to this. Eat the Press--Sklarianna & Co. are like Gawker if Gawker actually believed in something. ... Luke Ford--Go for the sex, stay for the self-loathing. ... [More tk]