Department of Housing and Urban Development damaged several New York neighborhoods when it permitted scam artists to bilk the government out of federally secured mortgage and construction loans in the late 1990's.
Seems like just the right man for the times. ... P.S.: This wasn't a tiny fraud. It was a quarter-billion dollar scandal that severely disrupted the redevelopment of Harlem, among other places, by gumming up the market. But hey, it was non-profit fraud! ... Apparently, McCain's not just going populist left. He's going irresponsible, opportunist populist left. ... Note to my conservative friends: Hope Palin's worth it! ... 12:30 P.M. link
Now a Ford Maverick would be a cool car for McCain to own. (Rear drive. Famously robust. Old. Ironic.) Alas, it appears to be just a cheap graphic device by Huffington Post. ... Of the 13 vehicles McCain does own, only the 3 electric golf-cart-like things are at all interesting. Even HuffPo likes them. ... The others aren't even ostentatious or obnoxious. Where is a Porsche Cayenne Turbo when you need it? ... . 9:53 P.M.
Implementation of the Paulson plan is going to be a mess. It is going to be a great opportunity for lobbyists and lawyers to make a lot of money. Who are the financial magicians Paulson is going to hire? Are they from Wall Street? If they're from Wall Street, aren't they the very people we are saving? And doesn't that mean that we're using the taxpayers' money to hire people to save their friends with even more taxpayer money? Won't this inevitably lead to crony capitalism? Who is going to do oversight? How much transparency is there going to be? We still haven't seen the report which led to bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is "secret". Is our $700 billion going to be spent in "secret" too? [E.A.}
Some other points!--
1) Gingrich claims it's dangerous to push a dramatic long-term solution in response to a shorter-term "crisis." But of course he uses the crisis to push his own long-term solution, a "zero capital gains tax." I personally think we need to respond to this crisis by immediately providing universal health care while postponing indefinitely all plans for "comprehensive immigration reform" and "card check" unionization. Racial preferences in college admissions and contracting should to be suspended for 15 years while the government creates a $700 billion entity to fund charter schools and another of similar size to finance public works projects that provide unskilled, last-resort jobs. This no time to rush into untested schemes;
2) I don't have to imagine what a future administration might do with the unchecked power to spend $700 billion, potentially rewarding friends, etc. I'm worried what the current administration would do. Paulson seems like a straight shooter--but these are Bushes we are talking about. They value loyalty and keep lists. The President tried to put his personal lawyer on the Supreme Court. Enough said. ...
3) Gingrich worries about "a one-week solution that becomes a 20-year mess." I don't see the danger of a 20-year mess. It's only a trillion dollars. It won't take 20 years to spend.
Krugman (like Joe Nocera) wonders what price the government will pay for the toxic assets its buying--will it drive a hard bargain, paying no more than"fair value"-- in which case it wouldn't seem to be doing much to help the firms it's buying from. Or will it overpay, in effect lavishing a taxpayer windfall on Wall Street screw-ups without asking anything in return? The scheme only makes sense, Krugman notes, if
this is mainly a liquidity problem. So if the government stands ready to buy securities at "fair value", all will be well.
Mallaby, on the other hand, worries that there is no market price--no "fair value"--at all, and no way of knowing whether the government will have overpaid:
But under the current proposal, the government would go out and shop for bad loans. These come in all shapes and sizes, so the government would have to judge what type of loans it wants. They are illiquid, so it's hard to know how to value them. Bad loans are weighing down the financial system precisely because private-sector experts can't determine their worth.
In other words, as I understand it, Mallaby says there is too a big liquidity problem, which is precisely what (as Krugman notes) Paulson's bailout is designed to fix--by pricing the toxic assets via a "reverse auction," in which the government pays the lowest possible price, and in effect answers the question "private sector experts" can't.
I don't know if it will work (and I don't see why, to make it work, the government needs to spend all $700 billion dollars). But I don't think both Krugman and Mallaby can be right about why it won't work.
5) Mallaby worries that the government might prop up "the sickest institutions." But in a "reverse auction," in which the government was not overpaying, wouldn't it be mainly the healthiest institutions who could take the low price and still be happy to get the toxic assets off their balance sheets? Or would, in fact, only the weakest and most desperate institutions jump at even a lowball offer?
I don't know the answer. If I did I'd have 13 cars by now. ... 9:26 P.M. link
Friday, September 19, 2008
Don't unpanic yet, Dems: I know state-by-state polling sometimes lags. But after a week as tumultuously favorable to the Democrats as this past week, if I were an Obama supporter--wait, I am!- I'd want the electoral map to look a whole lot better than this. Or this. ... 3:19 P.M.
His theory is that when racially charged issues like welfare and crime dominated the political rhetoric, racial factors affected voting behavior and the Wilder effect asserted itself. But once welfare disappeared as a salient issue in 1996, political discourse was deracialized and race was less of a factor in voters' mind.
Such a deracializing effect was not unanticipated (if, for example, you read Thomas and Mary Edsall's Chain Reaction.) ... All the more reason for Obama to present himself as a strong welfare reform supporter, whether or not he actually was one in 1996. ... 3:11 P.M. link
McCain Finds His Voice! Or Paul Wellstone's Voice!
"[F]orcing mortgages on people who couldn't afford them"
That's how McCain's now talking in his desperate lunge to the demagogic left. Can you imagine Reagan saying such a thing? I can't. No wonder the Heritage types are on lockdown. ... P.S.: I'd say McCain's new rhetoric was Shrumian, except that would libel Shrum, who's either not that demagogic or knows he could never get away with it. ... Update: David Corn thinks McCain's new mad-as-hell populist act might work. ... More: Alert reader R.A., and also my mother, say it's time to bring up the Keating Five. Let McCain explain that scandal away. Even assuming he did nothing illegal, he certainly wasn't "changing the way Washington does business" when he met with banking regulators on behalf of a rich buddy He was playing the "old Washington game" as it's always been played: Businessmen befriend you and give you contributions while you either intervene or pretend to intervene on their behalf. ... 2:32 P.M. link
Hack Blowback: Obama so deserves to, finally, take this hit for choosing Fannie Mae macher Jim Johnson to vet his VP prospects. (See earlier.)... Did Obama tap Johnson because after two years in the Senate Obama had become part of the "Washington culture of lobbying and influence peddling" as McCain charges--or because as a newcomer he was naive about that Washington culture and quickly got co-opted? Either way, it was an obvious, conventional, atrocious choice. ... P.S.: The Obama campaign has countered by releasing a list of McCain aides who lobbied for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. What the release demonstrates is that while Fannie Mae was a peculiarly Democratic scam--habitually justified as a way to bring home-ownership to the less advantaged--its leaders successfully tried to buy both parties. Still, lobbying for Fannie Mae's disastrous operation (McCain campaign manager Rick Davis) isn't the same thing as running Fannie Mae's disastrous operation (Johnson). ... Update: Even TPM's Greg Sargent concedes, "The hit on Johnson is a rough one for Obama." ... More: "Give it back! Give it back!" ... Raines and Johnson should have taken that sound advice in 2004. They'd be heroes, not radioactive losers. ... 12:02 P.M. link
St. Elizabeth, Mythmaker: Even when she by all rights should be reassuming her position a highly sympathetic figure--maybe she really believed her husband's line about how he couldn't be the father of Rielle Hunter's child--Elizabeth Edwards finds a way to be annoying! From the Detroit Free Press:
Asked whether she has forgiven her husband, Edwards replied: "I don't want to feed the monster, if you don't mind." [**]
She said that had her leg been amputated, instead of a child dying or her husband having an affair, people would not ask: "Are you over that leg thing yet?"
That's it--it's all our fault for being curious! The leg analogy is perfect--I mean, it's not as if she wrote a self-dramatizing book about a child dying ... Oh wait:
... Edwards will visit Detroit on Oct. 15 to talk about coping with life's setbacks, including the loss of her son Wade at age 16 in an auto accident and her 2004 diagnosis of cancer, which recurred last year. Those issues frame the themes of "Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers," her 2006 book, updated last year (Broadway Books, $14.95).
In short, she wants publicity when it helps her, and when it doesn't you're a monster for asking. ... P.S.: Mrs. Edwards described her new role as making sure her three children "have an image of their father as an 'advocate for poverty, not for this current picture picture of him to be the only one they carry with them .... So I need to create the picture for them that I want them to have." [Emphasis added] Doesn't sound like she's in the truth business anymore, if she ever was. ...
**--Last month, her husband said, "My Lord and my wife have forgiven me ..." She could have told the Free Press "yes." Or even (if she didn't want to make news) "John addressed that on Nightline." ... 1:37 A.M. link
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Plainly, Obama is testing what the market for his negativity and non-New Politics will bear, daring McCain to go negative.**
Or maybe (just between us) Obama's not-so-plainly persuing the cunning Krikorian Strategy of "baiting McCain as being insufficiently committed to [immigration] amnesty in order to provoke a politically damaging response by the Republican nominee."
Unlike the similar Brimelow Gambit--in which Obama would politely invite McCain to pledge to pursue "comprehensive" immigration reform--Krikorian would have Obama goad McCain into inadvisedly embracing 'semi-amnesty' by ticking him off. An unfair and infuriatingly deceptive ad is much better for this purpose than a fair and honest ad! And an infuriatingly deceptive ad in which Obama doesn't directly reiterate his own support of amnesty is better still. ... Plus you know McCain probably detests Limbaugh. Being tarred by a farfetched association with him should be especially aggravating. ...
P.S,: The point is not simply to get McCain to rub his pro-amnesty position in the faces of his Palin-struck conservative GOP "base." Supporting amnesty--in English as well as Spanish, preferably in a televised debate--could also directly cost McCain non-Republican votes in key battleground states. As alert kf reader J.S. notes, such a McCain statement
would mean that at the height of economic fears, in a fight for the working class vote, as we head into a recession, McCain is reminding everyone about his support for comprehensive immigration reform. This hurts McCain with his base and with low wage workers. [E.A.]
Think immigration and amnesty couldn't be an issue in an area like, say, Scranton-Wilkes Barre Pennsylvania? Ask 11-term incumbent Democrat Paul Kanjorski, "who is now in serious jeopardy of losing his seat to an anti-immigration upstart." Kanjorski's 9 nine points behind in a recent poll. ... [via Corner ]
Bogus CW Alert: The easy, pro-McCain CW on Obama's ad:
The big problem with this ad: McCain and Limbaugh don't agree on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. It's a pretty low blow, particularly since McCain did see his campaign nearly die because of his support for immigration .... -- MSNBC's First Read, 9/18/08
No! The big problem with the ad is that it brutally misconstrues Limbaugh while attempting to implant an ethnic grievance in the Latino community--not just sleazy but profoundly irresponsible ("divisive," as someone like Barack Obama would say). The ad doesn't directly talk about immigration reform--rather it claims McCain is allied with anti-Latino bigots. ... An attack that actually focused on immigration reform and accused McCain of agreeing with Limbaugh wouldn't be that unfair--McCain did try to pretend he'd flipped against his own immigration reform during the GOP primaries, when flipping was in his interest. ... 9/19 Update: The NYT opts for the E-Z CW, ignores the distortion of Limbaugh's statements--leaving the impression that the ad's characterization of "the nativist wing of [the GOP] and Mr. Limbaugh" is accurate. ...
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Lady de Rothschild denounces Obama as an "elitist," endorses McCain. ... She "splits her time living in London and New York." ... P.S.: Lloyd Grove's description --"the flashiest hostess in London." ... P.P.S.: Is McCain saving Ferraro for October? ... . 1:44 A.M.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Can the $9 million raised tonight by Obama at that Beverly Hills Barbra Streisand celebrity fundraiser possibly win him as many votes as the bad publicity from the fundraiser is losing him? I don't think so. ... P.S.: I'm from Beverly Hills! I've learned the hard way that there is no way to make it go down well with the rest of America. (I used to joke that I was from the poor side of Beverly Hills. It didn't help.) 11:36 P.M.
Suckers, Part XVIV: "We expect to see almost all of the original McCain-Kennedy bill become law during the first six months of a McCain Presidency." Don't just take it from me and Mark Krikorian. Here is what pro-comprehensive immigration lawyerr-types say about whether McCain or Obama is more likely to pass an amnesty-type bill. ... It's not even close:
If we get President Obama, Democrats are going to be euphoric on Jan 20, 2009, and rightly so - being back in the White House, at last, after 8 long and bitter years. Democrats have not been able to pursue their priorities for 8 years and we can expect them to act aggressively on their big priorities immediately after a President Obama takes office. There are at least four Democratic priorities ahead of immigration: the Iraq war, universal health care, budget/taxes and energy policy. These are all large, complex issues and Congress will take most of a President Obama's first term to work on these. In such a scenario, we will not see any significant immigration benefits in the foreseeable future.
If we get President McCain, we will still have a powerful Democratic majority in Congress on Jan 20, 2009. This Congress will be at loggerheads with him on all the major Democratic priorities. ...[snip] ... In this bitter fighting hardly anything will get done legislatively, and both Democrats and Mr. McCain will be looking for opportunities to show the country that they can work on something together.
While there are a few areas of agreement between Mr. McCain and Democrats, immigration is the largest issue on which Democrats and McCain agree. While the current Republican Party platform is the most anti-immigrant one in memory, there were news reports that Mr. McCain, who has a long track record of being pro-immigration, tried to make it more immigration-friendly and failed. This is the issue on which he is most likely to stab his party's anti-immigrationist wing in the back both in his political interests and due to his own convictions (Mr. McCain had to fight his party's anti-immigrationists tooth and nail during the Republican primaries). We expect to see almost all of the original McCain-Kennedy bill become law during the first six months of a McCain Presidency. [E.A.]
Of course, he'll secure the borders first! ... More: In Florida, McCain declares immigration one of his "first priorities," blasts Obama for insufficiently supporting the 2006-7 McCain-Kennedy legalization bill. ... Note to Nigerian scam artists: Save your emails and focus them on McCain's "base" conservative supporters. They are the biggest suckers on the planet! Just tell them you hate the MSM and they'll do anything you say. ... 3:56 P.M. link
Monday, September 15, 2008
Does MSNBC (Olbermann et. al) really want Obama to win? Won't their ratings be higher in 2009 if they represent the angry opposition--as opposed to the disillusioned party in power? Just a thought. ... P.S.: This factor might cause them not to worry too much whether their exaggerated anti-Palin and anti-McCain theatrics actually help the Democratic ticket. (Or it might not--I am playing crude Marxist here.) ... P.P.S.: Emails I've gotten in response to the item immediately below suggest that "base" conservatives are well aware of McCain's unrecanted heresies on immigration and stem cells--but these mere issues are overwhelmed by their cultural hostility to the MSM's treatment of Obama and Palin. They're being cheap dates and fools--putting evanescent emotion over consequential legislation--but that seems to be the operative dynamic at the moment. Olbermann doesn't help. (The more firmly the GOP base is nailed down by MSM-hatred, remember, the more McCain can lunge for swing voters by running as a semi-Dem "maverick.") ... 2:33 P.M. link
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Mark Halperin's three pieces of advice for Obama seem sound. (They are 1. Ignore Palin; 2. Get in McCain's head the way McCain's getting in Obama's; and 3. Refocus on the economy in an accessible way.) ... To which I'd add:
4. It's a good week for point 3!
a) MSM outrage doesn't sway voters anymore. It didn't even back in 1988, when the press tried to make a stink about George H.W. Bush's use of "flag factories," etc. After this year's failed MSM Palin assault, it certainly won't work;
b) When Dems get outraged at unfairness they look weak. How can they stand up to Putin if they start whining when confronted with Steve Schmidt? McCain's camp can fake umbrage all it wants--the latest is that an Atlantic photographer took some nasty photos that the mag didn't run!--and nobody will accuse MCain of being weak. That's so unfair. A double standard. Dems can learn to live with it or complain about the unfairness for another 4 years. Their choice.
c) It's almost always impossible to prove that a Republican attack is a 100% lie. Either there's a germ of truth (Kerry did hype his wartime heroism at least a bit) or the truth is indeterminate (i.e., there's no way of knowing what Obama meant by "lipstick"--just because he and McCain used the word earlier doesn't mean he didn't think using it now, after Palin's speech, didn't add a witty resonance).
d) Lecturing the public on what's 'true" and what's a "lie" (when the truth isn't 100% clear) plays into some of the worst stereotypes about liberals--that they are preachy know-it-alls hiding their political motives behind a veneer of objectivity and respectability.
e) Inevitably the people being outraged on Obama's behalf will phrase their arguments in ways well-designed to appeal to their friends--and turn off the unconverted. ('This is just what they did to John Kerry and Michael Dukakis!' As if the public yearns for the lost Kerry and Dukakis Presidencies. 'Today's kindergarteners need some sex education. Just because Republicans are old fashioned ...' etc. Or 'These are Karl Rove tactics,' which signifies little to non-Dem voters except a partisan rancor they'd like to put behind them.)
Lots of people like bad Disney movies, and don't like the kind of people who sneer at bad Disney movies.
6. There must be some way to disillusion the conservative base with McCain, at least a bit. I know the CW--Palin has locked in the base, freeing McCain to move left. But jeez, McCain isn't moving to the left just on immigration, and he isn't moving subtly. Listen to this new radio ad, which might as well be titled "Stem Cell Research, Stem Cell Research, Stem Cell Research, Stem Cell Research." That's how often the phrase is repeated. How much more Screw-You-I'm-Taking-You-for-Granted can McCain get? Are conservatives complete suckers?
7. McCain's made great progress with independents by going against his party. Obama can do the same thing. Obvious areas of potential anti-Dem apostasy: Charter schools, firing incompetent teachers, class-based affirmative action, welfare. At least express some doubts about liberal legalism or the headlong rush to immigrant semi-amnesty. Last Tuesday Obama may have tried to make waves by talking about "schools filled with poor teachers"-- a Dem no-no if there ever was one. It got buried by the lipstick pig. So don't complain. Say it again! ...
Backfill: See also this helpfully unimpressed Michael Goodwin column.("No more Mr. Nice Guy, Obama vows. He's going to really start hitting John McCain now. He's going to make voters understand that McCain equals four more years of George Bush. It's a weird decision because Obama has been doing exactly that for four months. The problem is not that Obama hasn't hit McCain hard enough or linked him to Bush often enough. The problem is that he hasn't done anything else.. ...[W]hat happened to that post-partisan uniter who took the country by storm during the early primaries ... Why not bring him back?") ... 11:17 P.M. link
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Only McCain can stop McCain! Mark Krikorian notes that if McCain wins big enough to drag in a Republican Congress, those Republicans might thwart his immigration plans. Krikorian quotes this email from a reader:
The best thing to happen to anti-amnesty Republicans in Congress is the rise of McCain/Palin bringing back the GOP 'brand' and the increasing the generic GOP ballot.
I am helping a local Republican get elected. His message is partly anti-illegal-aliens and the safety issue. We need to end 'sanctuary cities'.
McCain's coattails may help stop amnesty even if he himself will not
That's one reason I suspect McCain would rather win, but maybe not win too big. Or, rather, win without any coattails. A Democratic Congress may be the best partner for him (and not just when it comes to immigration) ...
On immigration, though, there's a counter-counter-factor, which is that any Republican majority dragged in on a McCain/Palin tide is likely to splinter (between anti-amnesty enforcement types and pro-business we-need-labor types) while a Republican minority might well form a united anti-amnesty opposition (after making a strategic decision to get back in power using the hot immigration issue). ...
In any case a) McCain is unlikely to win big, if he wins at all; b) it's very unlikely the GOPs will win control of either half of Congress, and c) if the Dems do retain a majority, then President McCain is significantly more likely than Obama to actually enact a "comprehensive" legalization plan. ...
The one box in the matrix I'm not sure of is President Obama/GOP Congress. In that case, with most of his grander legislative ambitions (on health care, etc.) blocked, you'dthink Obama might well turn to immigration as the one area where he could push through a major, party-building reform (by combining Democrats and pro-business Republicans). But this divided electoral outcome seems the least likely possibility by far--if Obama wins, he will almost certainly have a Dem Congress to work with. ... [Thanks to reader S.G.]... 5:21 P.M. link
Friday, September 12, 2008
You lost me at "de": Headline/byline of an op-ed in yesterday's WSJ--
Democrats Need to Shake
The "Elitist' Tag
By Lynn Forester de Rothschild
Does Lynn Forester de Rothschild actually exist, or did Paul Gigot invent her? ... [That's Lady de Rothschild to you, buddy-ed. Even better.] ... 4:48 P.M.
Attention Ms. Coulter:John McCain is running an ad in Spanish attacking Obama for allegedly failing to support the "comprehensive immigration reform" bill that McCain himself has said he no longer supports. ... I guess McCain got the "message" but not the mensaje. ... P.S.: The picture of Sen. Patrick Leahy is especially terrifying. ... P.P.S.: Would McCain ever run this ad in English? ...
Coulter responds: Excerpt--
Kausfiles is maniacally obsessed with McCain's boneheaded support for amnesty, a position Kausfiles admits Obama shares -- but with slightly less enthusiasm -- as this year's excuse to vote for the Democrat.
In the end, Kausfiles will vote for the Democrat because Kausfiles always votes for the Democrat and not because of amnesty. Kausfiles pretends to be waffling only to trick conservative girls into arguing with him.
Coulter is on to me. Except I'm not waffling this time. I'm for Obama. That Obama is significantly less likely to actually enact amnesty is highly convenient for me, I agree. But it's also true. (See Krikorian.) It's equally convenient for Coulter to ignore this truth because it allows her to support the Republican in the race, after she seemed to waffle (or more than waffle) by endorsing Hillary over McCain. If McCain wins, I think Coulter will regret getting drunk and voting for him. ... Actually, let me link to that video again. Repays rewatching! (Coulter: "John McCain is not only bad for Republicanism, which he definitely is. He is bad for the country ... very, very bad for the country.") ... 11:41 A.M. link
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Take back their Kramlers: Ron Rosenbaum gets his head out of Pale Fire long enough to give Obama some strategic advice. I normally don't like us vs. them populism, but Rosenbaum's version might be the exception--because it has a precise and legitimate target:
What the campaign needs to do is focus on Wall Street. ... On the fact that the Republican party through its obsessive, greedy, lobbyist driven fetishizing of financial de-regulation has allowed the economy to be turned into a casino ...
Yes, it's true that the Clintonians were in bed with them (and Biden was a shill for the credit card industry) but six years of pure Republican rule handed the economy to the hedge fund creeps, virtually turned the economy into a hedge fund, a huge financial scam. Rather than re tooling it for the new century, they retooled financial instruments for their own disgraceful enrichment. ...
So what if many are Democrats, the more the shame. Obama should run against them too. I think there is a vast untapped resentment out there against the sharpies who have ended up bankrupting and selling out our economy. It's time to hold them responsible, and in a democracy a presidential campaign is the time and the way to do it. [E.A.]
Not a crazy idea. Everybody hates the "hedge fund creeps." And the need for Obama to turn on his own party's leaders (because both parties have effectively been bought by Wall Street) is a feature not a bug. ... Suggested tweak: It's not that Big Finance high earners were greedy, or necessarily lacking in "decency," or that they "[sold] out the economy." They're supposed to be greedy. Their greed was supposed to drive them to create innovative new financial instruments and risk-avoiding strategies that would benefit everyone and justify their absurd paychecks and--here's the winning social-egalitarian theme--the sense they exuded that they were better and smarter than even their Ivy League classmates who went to med school, let alone non-college graduates on "Main Street." The problem is simply that their innovative deregulated instruments and strategies--carefully protected by bipartisan mercenary lobbying--didn't work, producing a calamitous meltdown. Whether they knew this would happen or not doesn't matter. They "screwed up," as Rosenbaum says. Yet they're keeping the inflated paychecks, the lobbyists and (so far) their dominant place in the economic and social pecking order. Wouldn't hurt to humble them. ... 6:22 P.M. link
McCain on the Follieri Yacht. Moral: They're all celebrities. [Even Biden?--ed. I'm thinking ...] ... 12:42 P.M.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Ann Coulter responds, on behalf of getdrunkandvote4mccain.com, to the argument that conservatives should consider that McCain is more likely than Obama to actually enact "comprehensive immigration reform" with its misguided semi-amnesty for illegal immigrants. [See the little column on the right side of her blog, linked above.] Excerpt:
Even assuming McCain were more likely to enact "comprehensive immigration reform" than Obama, the difference is between a 10% chance and a 9.99999% chance.
Meanwhile, Obama is more likely to jump-start Islamic terrorism by rapidly withdrawing from Iraq and insanely sending more troops to Afghanistan and bombing Pakistan. In a few years, it won't matter how many illegals we have -- they'll be forced to convert to Islam like the rest of us.
I'd say the difference is more like a 50% chance of passing a semi-amnesty under McCain, compared with a 20% chance under Obama, who will have lots of other things to do and lots of Dem Congresspeople from swing districts he doesn't want to endanger. Amnesty is irreversible, remember, as will be many of its consequences (e.g., an incentive for more illegal immigration, plus a change in the electorate, creating pressure for further amnesties, etc.). ... Meanwhile I think Obama would, overall, put a damper on world terrorism by automatically and at least temporarily lowering the planet's anti-Americanism quotient, translating into fewer radicalized recruits with less tacit support from their neighbors. (Even John Kerry would have done that.) ... Will Obama want to go down in history as the President who snatched defeat from semi-success in Iraq? It's a worry, I agree! But it was much more of a worry before the perception sank in among voters that the "surge" has succeeded. ...
P.S.: What's Coulter's case against sending more troops to Afghanistan? Needs fleshing out! Coulter and the Code Pink protesters in my Venice neighborhood have more in common than I thought. ...
Update: Mark Krikorian, who knows more about the subject than I do, seems to back me up on the legislative odds. ...
Update 2: Obama today tells the Congressional Hispanic Caucus "this election is about the 12 million living in the shadows" and pledges
"to stop the hateful rhetoric filling our airwaves, and rise above the fear, and rise above the demagoguery, and finally enact comprehensive immigration reform."
Harmless pandering! Pay it no mind. ... [Tks to M.M.] 4:33 P.M. link
It's not only Dems who are nervous: Some conservatives are not happy with McCain's conversion of his campaign into the Umbrage Express. Ramesh Ponnuru:
[T]he Republicans are coming across as whiny grievance-mongers. Don't they realize that this harping on ambiguous slights is what people hate about political correctness? It was bad enough when liberals were trying to destroy Palin. Now Republicans are trashing her brand. They're undermining the basis of her appeal as a different, tougher kind of female politician.
But, hey, they won the news cycle! Or so they think. ... P.S.: Ponnuru also questions whether Jane Swift is the best GOP spokesperson. ...
Update: Steve Smith (not a conservative) argues McCain won the news cycle while losing the war:
Think about the ways the McCain campaign has bulloxed this. First, they publicized an unfavorable image of the best thing it has going right now. I suspect one of the big reasons why Sarah Palin has struck a nerve among white voters is her attitude: tough, sassy, one-of-the-guys, a "pitbull with lipstick," to use her memorable phrase. By equating that phrase with the line, "lipstick on a pig," they have now created a counter-image that will float in the subconscious of every voter from now until Election Day, foe and supporter alike. [E.A.]
It's certainly true that the Obama command believes McCain strategist Schmidt is too concerned with "winning" each day. If they're right about that, it should be possible to set a trap in which Schmidt lunges to win the cycle in a way that does McCain's cause long term damage. Whether that's the result here--and whether if so it's the product of intentional baiting by Obama--are unclear. Maybe not. But there are six more weeks for the Obama camp to set just that sort of News Cycle Trap, now that they know it can be done.. ... 3:41 P.M.
What doesn't destroy her makes her stronger. ... 1:44 P.M.
Road trip report:
Best business name: "Putz n Glo"--miniature golf course near Mt. Rushmore.
Best business concept: Wings, Pizza and Tanning (Cheyenne, Wyoming).
Best sign: On I-90, outside the small town of Murdo, South Dakota. Weathered, almost decaying. It says
"This is it! Murdo!"
I wish I had taken a picture.**
Musical highpoint: Sir Victor Uwaifo on the BBC.
Recommended cafes for blogging: Pier 347 in Pierre, S.D.. Coal Creek Coffee Company in Laramie, Wyoming.
All college radio is now better than all non-college radio.
The state of mainstream, altless country music is even worse than the state of presidential nominnee acceptance speeches. I didn't hear one recent song that wasn't phony.
--If anyone has a photo, I will post it. The sign may say "Here it is! Murdo!" ...
Looking into a crowd for your friends: Matt Lewis agrees that McCain is much more likely to enact "comprehensive immigration reform" than Obama. ... Have all the conservatives who plan to "get drunk and vote for McCain" thought hard about this? .... 1:52 A.M. link
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
"Model 3" was there all along: The most respectable, cautious members of the MSM--like National Public Radio--have no problem sifting and assessing scandalous, unverified rumors when it comes to ... Kim Jong Il. ... He's had a stroke, he uses a look-alike stand in, he collapsed at an event, one report has a high "level of confidence" level, others don't, "a couple of people" say another report is "solid." ... Why is doing the same thing for presidential candidates irresponsible and tabloidy? ... 9:50 P.M.
"Lipstick on a pig": Either (a) shockingly clumsy and hack, using a tired DC line in a way that (intentionally or not) seems to suggest unchivalrously that Palin isn't attractive or (b) brilliant, memorably undermining three of her central virtues** at once. ... I tend to think (a). ...
**--What three virtues? 1) Attractive 2) Anti-pork 3) Non-Bush anti-Washington reformer. ... 3:49 P.M. link
All Obama has to do is ask John McCain (who, despite appearances, is still the GOP presidential nominee) to pledge, in the spirit of " bipartisanship" he was going on about Thursday night, that they will both work together for amnesty in the next Congress, regardless of which of them goes to the White House and which of them remains in the U.S. Senate.
Brimelow argues McCain would be "stuck"--he might accidentally say what he thinks (i.e., yes) and demoralize his base. I'm not so sure. It's much more likely McCain would give his usual carefully-crafted answer--he got the "message" in 2007, he'd would secure the borders first and then move on to semi-amnesty. In the meantime, Obama would have emphasized that he's also for semi-amnesty, potentially alienating a lot of working class and union voters who aren't on board the Democrats' train in this regard. ....
Instead of inviting McCain to join him on the "left" in support of legalization of illegals, what about a strategy of getting ever so slightly and tenuously on McCain's "right" by unexpectedly expressing some doubts. For example: "I support comprehensive immigration reform. But we have to do it in a way that doesn't further depress the wages of blue-collar American workers." That would at least plant the seed in blue collar voters' minds a) that Obama understands their concerns, and understands that their concerns aren't necessarily the same as the concerns of Latino leaders or righteous--and, yes, elite--bipartisan reformers; and b) specifically that Obama might move cautiously and avoid a headlong PC rush to legalization, of which McCcain was a crucial cheerleader. Point (b) would even appeal to many in McCain's base, driving the same wedge that Brimelow wants to drive.
Obama wouldn't renounce legalization (which he supports) and indeed wouldn't be committing himself to doing or not doing anything in particular, since as President he would presumably declare that any bill he promotes will not depress blue collar wages.
Effectively weaselly--but in a straightforward, Obamaesque 'understand-both-sides' kind of way! ... 3:05 P.M. link
Obama buries the lede: "[W]e can't settle for schools filled with poor teachers." Where was this Obama in Denver? ... 1:11 P.M. link
Monday, September 8, 2008
The companies have been famous for hiring big political names. Among them: former Clinton budget director Franklin Raines, Democratic operative Harold Ickes, Republican lobbyist and fundraiser Wayne Berman and former Republican congresswoman Susan Molinari.
Aren't they leaving someone out? Someone who, but for the grace of Angelo Mozilo, would even now be dragging the Obama campaign through a tar pit of bad publicity? ...
P.S.: David Smith on the genesis of the Fannie crisis. Now with hindsight! 7:30 P.M.
Just a thought: The Obama "Bush's third term" tactic of portraying McCain as just like President Bush was always insultingly crude and doomed. McCain isn't just like Bush. Voters are smart enough to realize that (especially when McCain, equally crudely, drives the point in ads and speeches). ... Plan B would seem to be to attack McCain for the things he actually is--dangerously bellicose, for example. ... Of course the most powerful example of McCain's poor judgment,** his media-pleasing embrace of a misguided chattering class consensus on immigration semi-amnesty--is one Obama apparently believes he can't use. ...
Another thing Obama should find a way to say: Earmarks aren't everything. Would you rather have secure health care and earmarks or no earmarks and no health care? ...
**--That on immigration McCain's poor judgment echoes Bush's poor judgment--in ways disturbingly parallel to Bush's judgment in going to war in Iraq--would just be a bonus. ... 1:56 P.M. link
Psst: Did anyone notice that Peggy Noonan's account of that open mike snippet-- that when she said "it's over" she meant the GOP impulse to win by appealing to its base was "over," not that the election was over--was backed up by Daniel Finkelstein, who remembers Noonan making that point on a prior occasion using the same phrase. ... P.S.: Noonan also said she was "pretty certain that is exactly what [open mike mates] Todd and Murphy understood I was referring to"--and Murphy indeed posted a Palin-skeptical Swampland comment suggesting the base-is-not-enough point is exactly what's on his mind:
In a high turnout Presidential year, I am not worried about turning out the base. I'm worried about everybody else we need to win and I fear that among those voters, Sarah Palin will be a dud. ... [snip] In a year where the Democrat generic numbers are 10+ points better than the Republican, I don't like the math of a strategy that just polarized the election along party base lines.
P.P.S.: So if you are a Republican pundit and go on MSNBC not only do you have to worry about your open-mike comments being overheard. You have to worry about pro-Dem MSNBC employees excerpting little bits that weren't overheard and distributing them to embarrass your party (whether or not the excerpt captures what was actually being said)? Even Fox doesn't do that. [Update: Well, there was this.] Does NBC realize that MSNBC has become a freakish joke? ... Guess so! .. .1:26 P.M. link
Saturday, September 6, 2008
(Pierre, S.D.) McCain wouldlike everyone to think his campaign imploded last summer because of his courageous support for the surge in Iraq:
I fought for the right strategy and more troops in Iraq, when it wasn't a popular thing to do. And when the pundits said my campaign was finished, I said I'd rather lose an election than see my country lose a war.
--McCain's acceptance speech, 9/4/08
This bit of history was repeated by the McCain campaign in at least one WaPo group interview I attended--suggesting it's an accepted talking point. It's also bogus. McCain's campaign imploded last summer because of his support for "comprehensive"immigration reform, including legalization of existing illegals (semi-amnesty). At the time, the Official MSM Story line centered on budgetary problems (still not Iraq!), but McCain himself admitted the truth to New Yorker's Ryan Lizza:
Over lunch in Arlington, McCain had given the stock explanation for what caused last summer's difficulties. "The problem, which was my problem, was that our fiscal expectations weren't met by reality," he said—in other words, he couldn't raise enough money. But the next day, as I travelled with McCain around South Carolina, he told me that his campaign's brush with death had less to do with fund-raising than with his role in championing the ambitious immigration-reform bill, supported by the White House, that died in Congress this year. "It wasn't the budgetary problems. That was an inside-the-Beltway thing," he said, referring to press coverage of his campaign's setbacks. McCain gets animated whenever he discusses the immigration issue. After a town-hall meeting in Anderson, South Carolina, he recalled how the Irish were discriminated against in America. As he quoted a placard that hangs on the wall of an aide's office ("Help Wanted—No Irish Need Apply"), he jabbed his finger in the air with such emphasis that he knocked my voice recorder to the ground and erased our conversation. "It was immigration" that hurt his campaign, he said when he continued, after a series of apologies on both sides. "I understand that. I was told by one of the pollsters, 'We see real bleeding.' " [E.A.]
McCain bucked the political/media CW on the "surge." He was right, it appears, and he should get lots of credit--though no more than President Bush, who doesn't seem to be getting any at all. But McCain's surge position wasn't what (temporarily) sank his campaign--it was how he revived his presidential campaign after it had been derailed by immigration, the issue he'd now like to hide (and an issue where he embraced the political/media CW). McCain was running in the Republican primary, remember,** which makes his behavior last summer not quite as courageous as he boasts it was. Same goes for his behavior now. ...
**--Supporting the surge was no more a huge courageous risk in a GOP primary than opposing the war was a huge courageous risk for Obama in a Dem primary. ... 12:30 P.M. link
What kind of all-night truck stop doesn't have the National Enquirer? ... (A very nice one in Mitchell, S.D., actually. Marketing suggestion for editor D. Perel:N.E. "Graphic Audio" Edition.) 12:02 P.M.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
1) McCain screwed up what was potentially the most effective part of the speech, where he blames his own party for losing the "trust of the American people." Maybe the delivery was garbled or maybe the passage wasn't written to maximize the drama of the face-to-face dressing-down. You got the feeling McCain was so mad at himself (or someone) when the anti-GOP passage fell flat that he was off rhythm until the concluding paragraphs;
2) Uninspired language: "It's time for us to show the world again how Americans lead." You betcha! "Opening new markets and preparing workers to compete in the world economy is essential to our future prosperity." Where was Mark Salter for the first 4/5 of this thing? Vetting failed VP candidates?
3) Even the Salteresque final passages were undermined by an unnecessary contradiction--in a speech about the need to replace "me first" thinking with "a cause greater than yourself", the passages were all about McCain. And his heroic selflessness. At the beginning of the speech that wouldn't have seemed so odd. At the end, shouldn't McCain have made the transition to ... a cause larger than himself?
4) Another good line spoiled by clumsy delivery:
I'm not running for president because I think I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need. My country saved me.
Helpful italics indicate where emphasis should have gone.
5) Mismatch with the facts on the ground:
We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition, empower parents with choice, remove barriers to qualified instructors, attract and reward good teachers, and help bad teachers find another line of work.
When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them. ...
Oh yeah? You and what Congress?
I'm not in the habit of breaking promises to my country and neither is Governor Palin. And when we tell you we're going to change Washington, and stop leaving our country's problems for some unluckier generation to fix, you can count on it. ...
Again and again, I've worked with members of both parties to fix problems that need to be fixed. That's how I will govern as President
Am I crazy or are these passages a blazing arrow pointing toward ... comprehensive immigration reform, one big bipartisan "solution" that the Democratic Congress will be all too happy to work with President McCain to achieve? What else is he talking about? OK, maybe Social Security (where Congress will be far less helpful.) ... Surprisingly, immigration reform--which McCain's friend Lindsey Graham pledged he "will" take up--wasn't actually mentioned at all in the speech. I'd thought McCain would at least "flick" at it as part of his pitch to the Latino swing vote. Maybe the convention really was all about the base (which doesn't like the semi-amnesty parts of McCain's reform). They can always be betrayed later.
7) On top of this tepid refusal to offend conservatives, McCain layered a few blanded-out Classic Rock themes borrowed from liberal candidates of decades past. We've got a little ur-Shrum ("that's just what I intend to do: stand on your side and fight for your future") and some information age/"reinventing government" insights borrowed from Bill Clinton, version 1991.
All these functions of government were designed before the rise of the global economy, the information technology revolution and the end of the Cold War. We have to catch up to history, and we have to change the way we do business in Washington.
The chant of "Re-Go, Re-go!" failed to catch on.
8) "I know some of you have been left behind in the changing economy ..." Politicians often seem to think it's more effective to embrace cliches--as if the public will understand them better because they are so familiar. This one seemed more a little condescending. Do people want to be told they've been "left behind"? Isn't it better to use "we" and "us" rather than "you"? And better to jolt the audience awake with new words rather than feed them familiar message pellets.
9) Evening almost saved by "Barracuda." Why do I suspect Gov. Palin hates that song? ... Also good to hear Robert Earl Keen's double-edged "Feeling Good Again." ...
Update--The Larger Issue: The speech reeked of extra cooks making too many unintegrated additions. What does it say about McCain's management ability if he let the process for this crucial effort get out of control? It's not like he didn't have months to prepare. Or were the months the problem? Palin's Wednesday night text, presumably written in a few days, was much better. Maybe the McCain campaign didn't have time to kill it with improvements. ... 10:48 P.M. link
Double-Edged Anecdotes: From National Review's Corner:
[W]hen Tony Rezko was indicted Obama held a press conference and answered all of eight questions before he tried to duck out. The media was so upset they lept out of their seats and demanded he return — one news report called it "mayhem." (You can watch the video here.)
NRO is arguing that McCain has been as open as Obama. But doesn't the press' frustration also offer some evidence undermining the usual conservative contention that there's a total pro-Dem MSM double standard at work? MSM reporters "demanded" answers from Obama! Who knew? ... 4:54 P.M.
Edwards cancels pre-election speeches: When did John Edwards realize that cranking up his 'I'm Not the Daddy' Solo Comeback Tour in October might not endear him to his fellow Democrats? Only in the past few days, judging from this August 30th story. ... The man is a once-in-a-generation political talent. ... [via NewsAlert] 4:23 P.M. link
Tomorrow's Marching Orders Today: If therewere some sort of tacit liberal MSM conspiracy--a hypothetical!--Plan 1 was to knock Palin off the ticket out of the box with various unvetted home state scandals. Plan 2, the plan currently in place, is to force Palin to submit to "real interviews" where she will supposedly reveal her embarrassing unpreparedness for the office.
May I suggest to my fellow conspirators that we move directly on to Plan 3: Forget Palin. Stop writing about her. If we make the election about Palin, we will lose. She'll probably win her debate and will almost certainly handle the interviews well enough (to the satisfaction of the voters, at least, if not the experts). The election's not about Palin. It's about McCain. We can beat McCain. ... 1:29 P.M. link
Bob Wright makes the case that Bristol Palin's pregnancy is a problem even if she marries the father of her child. It's bizarrely persuasive. ... 12:06 A.M.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Immigration is, as of today, the great unmentioned issue at both conventions. ... 11:44 P.M.
Palin Speech: Very effective, as expected. Big loser: Hillary. Maybe Hillary's handicaps (e.g., inability to zing opponents without seeming haughty or testy) aren't barriers facing all women after all. [Point stolen from someone in the crowd.] ... Trig is already becoming a bit of a prop, however. ... 11:39 P.M.
Model 3 is Born? Howie Kurtz notes the essential weirdness of McCain strategist Steve Schmidt's fury at the press: Normally, campaigns say they are angry at reporters who print stories without asking them for their side of the story. "A simple phone call would have told X the truth." etc. The McCain camp's complaints against Elisabeth Bumiller fall into this traditional mold.
But Schmidt is now angry because reporters are making the simple phone calls to ask about Sarah Palin before they've actually run with anything. It's the questions he doesn't like! Kurtz: "Schmidt did not contend that [his questioners] were publishing or broadcasting false information about Palin and her family."
What we're witnessing, I think, is the death of a media paradigm that we lived with comfortably for, oh, the last year or two. And John Edwards is to blame! Here's the relevant typology:
Model One: There's the press, and the public. The press only prints "facts" that are checked and verified. That's all the public ever finds out about. The press functions as "gatekeeper."
Model Two: Model One broke down with the rise of blogs, which (along with tabloids and cable) often discuss rumors that are not "verified." The public finds out about these rumors, as rumors. And it turns out that blogging obsessively about rumors is a pretty good way to smoke out the truth (see, e.g., Dan Rather).
But in Model Two, the rumors still don't get reported in the "mainstream media"--the respectable print press, the non-cable networks--until they are properly confirmed. Blogs and tabloids are a sort of intermediate nethersphere between public and the elite MSM that serves as a proving ground where the truth or falseness of the "undernews" gets hashed out. Stories that are true then graduate to the MSM.
Model Three: I thought Model Two would be a workable model for years, until either the MSM itself went totally online or until almost all voters stopped paying attention to it. I was wrong! The Edwards scandal did Model Two in. For months, the MSM failed to report the increasingly plausible rumors of John Edwards' extramarital affair even as it became the widespread topic of conversation in blogs, in the National Enquirer, and among political types. The disconnect turned out to be painfully embarrassing for the MSM, especially when the rumors were finally "verified" with Edwards' confession. A lot of what we are seeing now is the MSM not wanting to go through another Edwards experience.
Why can't the MSM bear to fulfill its Model Two role? a) No press person likes to not be the center of attention. You want to talk about what people want to talk about. That's how you make money, for one thing. And maintaining a disciplined silence on a rampant undernews rumor--even an unverified one--made too many reporters feel as if they worked for Pravda; b) Suppressing an undernews scandal about a Democrat subjected the MSM to charges of pro-liberal political bias (to which respectable organizations are particularly sensitive, because they are largely true); and c) even much of the left was disgusted by the MSM's behavior regarding the Edwards rumor.
We are now, I think, making the next logical leap, to a model in which unverified rumors about public figures are discussed and assessed not just in the blogosphere or the unrespectable tabs but in the MSM itself. I say welcome! With NYT reporters and bloggers all openly discussing unverified reports,, whatever is true will become un-unverified that muhch faster. And the public is proving, by and large, to be quite capable of distinguishing between stories that are true and rumors that are still being investigated.
We're not quite there yet--the unverified rumors that Palin had faked her pregnancy were printed in the MSM, but the McCain campaign itself gave the MSM implicit permission by saying it was releasing the news of Gov. Palin's daughters real pregnancy in order to scotch the fake pregnancy speculations of bloggers. And Schmidt's tormenters were still only checking out rumors, not printing them. But the avalanche of questions to which Schmidt is being subjected--and his discomfort--suggests that the MSM is in the process of shifting to a new role, in which it aggressively investigates and discusses rumors rather than waiting for the industrious blogosphere to force its hand.
They waited with Edwards. They don't want to go through that again. It helps, of course, that this week's rumors involve a Republican.
Once reporters start peppering campaigns with questions, after all, I suspect it will be impossible to keep a lid on whatever rumors the MSM is peppering the campaigns about. That's particularly true in a "synergistic" world where a reporter like Howard Fineman not only writes for Newsweek but also appears on cable shows that have an imperative to discuss whatever is hot now. It's particularly true in a Drudgian world where the activities of MSM reporters-what they're working on, what questions they're asking--is itself news for the Web. In that world, the line between "checking out" tips and open discussion of at least the non-actionable rumors can't really be maintained and shouldn't be, given the truth-divining virtues of widespread publicity (which functions as an APB to the citizenry to come up with evidence).
It's tempting to assume Steve Schmidt's cries are cynical, reflecting a desire to gin up a war between his candidate and the intrusive, condescending elite media--a war in which voters will side with his candidate. Why doesn't he just do his job, under Model 2, and answer the MSM's questions? But it's also likely Schmidt's anguish is at least in part authentic shock at the looming inability of even Model 2 to keep a lid on unrestrained speculation. When even MSM reporters start behaving like bloggers--when candidates' can't squelch discussion of their rumored sins, but have to wade into a non-stop public debate about them--the job of a campaign strategist will get a whole lot harder. ...
Shrum /McCain '08: Is Bob Shrum working for McCain too? I just went back and watched the video of the McCain/Palin rollout in Dayton, Ohio. I hadn't realized that McCain's introductory remarks were boilerplate Shrumian populism. McCain says he wants the government
to understand what you're going through, to stand on your side and fight for you. That's why I'm running for President, to fight for you to make government stand on your side and not in your way. [E.A.]
a) Doesn't it show how meaninglessly vague the Shrum formulation is if it can be comfortably adopted by the Republican candidate?; b) Of course, McCain doesn't blame mysterious unspecified "powerful forces" for "standing in your way," as Shrum's man Gore did in 2000. McCain names one--the government. Maybe Republicans can be more concrete, all-encompassing Shrumian populists than Democrats. They'll fight all the forces! c) Or is McCain hoping that his appropriation of cliched, contentless but historically Democratic rhetoric will lead voters to assume he's something that he's not? d) Shrumcainian populism suffers from the same defect as Shrumgorian populism, which is that most of our toughest national problems aren't caused by outside forces that can be fought and beaten but either by ourselves (e.g.,,voting ourselves too many Social Security benefits) or by ineluctable trends in demography (aging population), science (expensive new medical treatments, more jobs that require tech skills), or world history (e.g., rise of China). ... P.S.: If McCain's going to chase madly after blue-collar Midwest swing votes, does that rule out making an issue of labor's precious "card check" initiative to allow unionization without a secret ballot? ... 4:56 P.M. link
You know how sometimes you put on one of your favorites songs and you're tapping your feet and listening very closely to the singer and you suddenly realize ... he's faking it. It's the fifth take and he doesn't care anymore. Or that's what it sounds like. It could be a good song, by a good group--it happened to me recently with the Decemberists. It happens all the time. But it sort of kills the effect.
I'm sorry but that's how I feel about Fred Thompson. It's how I feel about his campaigning; it's how I feel about his movies, from the very first one I saw--Die Hard II, where he played an aircraft controller (unconvincingly). Thompson's not just a politician who's a bad actor, an actor who always seems to be reading lines. He's a politician who's a bad actor and therefore a bad politician. Last night he had a solid speech to deliver. (As blogger Stephen Green told me, it didn't just throw some red meat. It slaughtered a small cow.) But except for one line (on Iraq, ending in "and now we're winning") and a moving bio section on McCain's aircraft carrier service, Thompson seemed to be a guy reading his lines. He's no Zell Miller. And I don't think he'll have theZell-like effect the McCain people probably hoped for. ... 3:17 A.M. link
Moose and Squirrel: Eli Lake detects signs of "being spooked" in the McCain campaign. ... P.S.: Palin found time to meet privately with the leaders of AIPAC, according to Lake, who also found out what she told them. ... 12:44 A.M.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Semi- amnesty in St. Paul: I asked Sen. Graham how soon, in his first term, President McCain would declare the borders secure (which would let him to move to revive "comprehensive immigration reform"). Graham said "We'll know it when we see it," but emphasized that "comprehensive" reform was "still on the table" and seemed as much of an enthusiast as ever. "He will take that up," Graham predicted.** ... Later, in another WaPo chat, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis mentioned Hispanics as a battleground voter group, arguing that Republicans had to offer them something "other than a deportation center"--which is sort of offensive, when you think about it (as if Hispanic-American voters, who are by definition citizens, are illegals subject to deportation). ... Not just an appeal to ethnic identity politics, but a stereotyping appeal to ethnic identity politics, no? ...
In any case, I urge Graham and Davis to ensure that McCain makes these points forcefully in his acceptance address. That will make for a dramatic convention. Perhaps McCain could reprise Sen. Graham's promise to pass immigration semi-amnesty and "tell the bigots to shut up." ... Of course, I don't expect McCain to push hard on his now un-recanted pro-"comprehensive," views, even as he ostentatiously takes on his party. It's much easier to go after the evil Sen. Stevens and earmarks, which only requires offending some Congressional poohbahs, not the vast mass of Republican voters. (Remember the apparent formula is: 'McCain + grassroots vs. GOP Congress,' not 'McCain vs. grassroots + GOP Congress'--or, worse, 'McCain + GOP Congress vs. grassroots,' even though the last is more or less the real array of forces on immigration.) ...
P.S.: I think I've now cherrypicked most of the best Graham and Davis quotes, but Chris Cillizza has more from Davis, who was pretty talkative for someone who looks like he badly needs a visit to the HuffPo oasis. WaPo has also posted video of part of the Davis interview. ...
**--Quotes based on my notes. The sessions were recorded, but not by me. ...3:17 P.M. link
More of Lindsey Graham on President Palin: "She can do fine on foreign policy because of the infrastructure we have around [us]." Reassuring! ... 3:01 P.M.
I'm starting to worry that McCain's acceptance speech may actually be good. As described by buddy Sen. Lindsey Graham at an on-the-record WaPo chat, McCain will a) tell his own party to wake up, realize they've screwed up and need to regroup; b) attack the culture of Washington (meaning mainly Congress, but also the Pentagon, etc.) and c) proclaim that his term will be very different than the past 8 years. Emphasis on the focus of evil in the modern world, the "hard core appropriators" who benefit from the earmark system.** ... Hey, you can't beat up his party any more than he's beaten up his party himself! ... Plus a possible explicit comment on the unlikelihood of Joe Biden being an "agent of change."
None of this is shocking, but Gov. Palin's popularity with the base may have relieved McCain of some pressure to grit his teeth and demonstrate uncharacteristic institutional loyalty. The formula might be: McCain + grassroots vs. Congressional GOPs. ... P.S.: I'm not saying McCain will be persuasive--for one thing, he wildly overemphasizes the importance of earmarks, even as a proxy for the "culture of Washington." And of course I think his righteous appeals for immigration semi-amnesty are misguided. I'm not even saying the speech will necessarily move his poll numbers much. I'm saying the dramatic tension of McCain taking on his audience, and the possibility he'll have fun doing it, should make for a dramatic, idiosyncratic address that contrasts favorably with Obama's unimaginative, muffled, methodical normalcy. ...
**--Graham on Palin: "If you can take on Ted Stevens and that crowd you can take on the Russians." Hmmm. (There are some things the Russians won't do!) ... 1:54 P.M. link
Monday, September 1, 2008
Well, that's one way to knock down those pregnancy rumors. ... 5:30 P.M.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Note to Cass Sunsteinand internet alarmists who argue that the Web results in partisans who listen only to their own facts, reinforcing their extreme opinions, etc.: A Daily Kos blogger is refuting the Kos-fueled Palin-baby rumor with a photo found on right-wing site Free Republic, of all places. Moral: The Web encourages cocooning but (unlike other cocoon-generators like cable TV, or gerrymandered congressional districts) it's also the solvent of cocooning, as a) bloggers actually read the web sites of the other side, in order to attack them; b) bloggers defend themselves against such attacks; and c) the Web makes learning from the other side extremely easy. ... In this case, viciously partisan Kos bloggers seem to have investigated and knocked down a bit of undernews that many of them would have dearly liked to be true. What's wrong with that? As of this writing, it looks like they got to the truth pretty rapidly. ...
P.S.: If only Kos crowd had behaved like that with the John Edwards/Rielle Hunter rumor. Banned blogger Lee Stranahan is still pissed (and rightly so). But even Stranahan's case largely contradicts Sunstein, since he did dissent from the Kos consensus, did investigate the Edwards rumor on his own, didn't go away and still made himself heard (and was ultimately vindicated in a way even most Kossacks would presumably acknowledge). ...
P.P.S.--The Case for Excitability : Andrew Sullivan's role in publicizing the rumor seems legit too. The feeding frenzy of publicity is what flushes out the counter-evidence quickly (and then that evidence gets a lot of attention).
[Why didn't kf, self-appointed Guide to the Undernews, write about the rumor?--ed. It seemed more likely that an older woman would have a Down syndrome child. Nor do I see what the huge moral scandal would be if the Palin rumor were true. So I didn't get to it. I'm not Guide to the Undernews! At least not to All the Undernews. That's a full time job.** My argument is that the Web as a whole potentially functions as the Guide to All Undernews, as bloggers argue about whatever rumors interest them. ...
**--The Edwards/Hunter undernews was also different, from my perspective--I pushed it because I knew with reasonable certainty, from off-the-record sources, that it was true. But I defend obsessed bloggers who hash out undernews rumors about public figures when they don't know if they're true or not. ... 10:30 P.M. link
Cram, Sarah, Cram: The AMC enjoyably mocks McCain aide Charlie Black's latest gaffe, which has been underplayed in the overnews--even if he Black was half-joking about how Palin will "learn national security at the foot of the master for the next four years, and most doctors think that he'll be around at least that long." ... Black's gaffes are a peculiar perverse subclass of Kinsley gaffes, which normally occur when a politician impulsively blurts out the truth. Black's genius is to inadvertently convey the truth (that Palin doesn't know enough, that McCain's health is a worry) while attempting ingratiating, self-serving spin. ... 9:20 P.M.
Friday, August 29, 2008
They just don't get it! Out-of-step Heather Mac Donald says McCain "has just ensured that the diversity racket will be an essential component of presidential politics." In contrast, Obama "stood up to the diversity imperative in selecting Joe Biden," while his acceptance speech made "minimal allusion to his race." ... Krauthammer calls the Palin pick "near suicidal." ... David Frum: "How serious can [McCain] be if he would place such a neophyte second in line to the presidency?" ... Ponnuru: "a reckless choice." ... 12:54 P.M.
Emailer J games out Hillary's response to McCain's VP pick:
It's well understood that if Obama wins he is president for eight years, at the end of which time Hillary may be too old to run. But now if McCain wins, Palin is vice president and at least gets a very good shot at becoming the heir apparent to Republican nomination for the presidency. This would take Hillary's issue -- her firstness -- away from her, and Hillary would become a lot more like just another Democratic pol. Therefore, the most important thing for Hillary's future now is for McCain to be defeated. The notion, indulged in by Maureen Dowd, among others, that Hillary and McCain have a common interest in McCain winning and being a one-termer, ought to be gone, if it ever was realistic. [E.A.]
But if Obama wins she's still probably out for eight years, no? It might be much easier for her to beat Palin in 2012 (if Palin even survives the primary) than to challenge a sitting Democratic president, Kennedy/Carter style. ... 3:12 A.M.
Talking with an MSM reporter on the possibility of the GOPS delaying their convention. He was skeptical of the story. "Drudge hasn't picked it up." ... A decade ago, Drudge was a menace to journalism. Now he's the validator of what's actually news. ... Is that because journalism has changed or Drudge has changed? A bit of both, I suspect. ... 2:31 A.M.
Does the Department of Homeland Security have technology as sophisticated as that used at the Vanity Fair/Google party in Denver? Man, if those guys were running the border, nobody would get in. ... 2:23 A.M.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.
MLK grafs also good. But not enough like those; 4) Gave voters little sense that he understands and can master the pressures--bureaucratic imperatives, unions, civil service rules-- that have often caused previous idealistic liberal presidents to fall short while sucking up taxpayer dollars. The only sentence addressing this concern (that I heard) was;
I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less - because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.
Actually, this sentence suggests he doesn't understand the problem. "Twentieth century bureaucracy" wasn't very effective at meeting twentieth century challenges; 5) The one carefully non-controversial mention of immigration was met with ... silence; 6) In general, Obama went all euphemistic and vague when discussing controversial domestic topics. On education, for example, he wants "higher standards and more accountability." What you mean "accountability"? Nothing here with the bite of his 2004 putdown of "the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white." The implied message about Obama's character is that he's a bit of a wimp, at least in public. Or at least he chose to be a bit of a wimp on an occasion when he didn't have to; 7) Why the slow, angsty movie-music at the end? I thought someone in the Politburo had died. 8) Some of the professionals' doubts about the move to an outdoor setting were validated. The confetti immediately blew to one side of the stage and got tangled in the exploding Barackopolis, where it looked like a Halloween spider's web. Symbol of overreach! 9) Didn't you want to see Obama, more than previous nominees, "validated" by being surrounded by other more familiar Dems in the traditional group greet-and-hug scene (in which they implicitly both approve him and show that he will have support)?** Instead, he asks us to buy him as the unknown loner savior, striding on and off the stage with just his family and running mate. It's a tougher sale, and an unnecessary one I think. ...
**--Of course, then Hillary and Bill might have been up there. Still, it would be in a subordinate role. ...
P.S.: I'm not saying the speech won't help him. I expect it will. I'm saying it seemed flat. ... 8/29 Update: Bounce. ...
P.P.S.: Peggy Noonan notes the lack of "humor, and wit, and even something approximating joy." ... Michael Goodwin saw a mismatch between the speech and the stage. And the speech might have seemed better if the setting hadn't raised expectations of a monumental performance. ... Jeremy Lott: "This address was not nearly as good as his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic convention. His lines this time ran from serviceable to pretty awful." ... David Broder:
His  Boston speech -- and many others early in this campaign -- suggested that he was sincere in wanting to tamp down partisanship and would be creative enough to see the need for enlisting bright people from both parties in confronting the nation's problems.
But the Denver speech, like many others he has given recently, subordinated any talk of fundamental systemic change to a checklist of traditional Democratic programs.
More: Obama said, "[W]hat I will not do is suggest that the Senator takes his positions for political purposes." Clever. It seems like a slap at netroots incivility. But taking positions "for political purposes" is actually a fairly honorable thing to do compared to the venality and other forms of bad faith of which politicians are routinely accused on the Web. (Think Halliburton.) And it's hardly a sacrifice for Obama to forswear this tactic. On issues where McCain has flip-flopped, such as immigration, taxes and torture--Obama plans to make precisely the opposite charge anyway: that McCain's new position reflects McCain's real views. Of course, McCain probably actually took these new positions "for political purposes"--but that's the argument McCain's defenders will make. ("Oh, he had to say that to get the nomination.")
Valued reader feedback: Emailer J.G. wonders why I didn't like this passage:
We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination.
I agree the graf outlines an appealing compromise-based model of how President Obama might actually operate--a model that jibes with his state house history. But it still leaves his own views annoyingly vague and mysterious. ...
Handicap: Maybe I didn't feel the full impact of the speech because I watched it from behind a glass barrier in the Invesco press box, an unfortunate situation documented in this Slate V video. My colleagues seemed to like it more than I did.
... 9:49 P.M. link
Effective day for Dems. 1) Bill Clinton outlined a simple, substantive framework for the election. As James Taranto noted, he built a stronger case for Obama than Hillary did--an inversion of how the two Clintons are said to actually feel about the nominee. ... 2) Joe Biden makes a good first impression. Not sure about the second. ... 3) It would be hard to fashion a blunter appeal to social equality ("[T]he American creed: No one is better than you. You are everyone's equal, and everyone is equal to you.") Biden's the anti-snob, cleansing the odor of bitter clinging from Democrats' campaign. He owes Mayhill Fowler a fruit basket, no? Without her HuffPo post, would he have gotten the call? ... 1:03 A.M. link
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
On the record Time coffee featuring Obama campaign manager David Plouffe: Plouffe argued for paying less attention to the ups and downs of the polls because a) Obama would beat McCain on turnout and b) swing voters would probably break one way or another after the debates. The audience consensus--which in this crowd was almost by definition CW--seemed to be that Plouffe was whistling past the graveyard, relying on turnout machination to make up for a worrisome message problem. ... P.S.: Plouffe also said the McCain campaign was "obsessed with news cycles." ... Update: See also Noonan. ... 4:11 P.M. link
You know how when you give a party, you have a great time and there's this warm glow as you think about it? And then you start remembering the guests who didn't show up, and you get a little annoyed? Hillary's speech last night was like that. Effective, but then you realize the things she didn't say: 1) Obama won fair and square; 2) "Things get a little rough in the course of a campaign, and the Republicans will no doubt try to use some words said in the heat of battle against our nominee. But I came to respect Barack Obama for his ____________ [insert sterling character trait]." 3) Specifically, he's more than ready to be commander in chief. ... 3:33 A.M.
John Edwards on Nightline on August 8: "[M]y wife has forgiven me." Are we sure this is still true? ... 3:10 A.M.
Time magazine's "hot shots" breakfast in Denver Tuesday morning showcased Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Rep. Artur Davis, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and D.A. Kamala Harris. 1) Booker and Davis are very impressive. Newsom, who seems kind of goofily egomaniacal, not so much. 2) Oprah BFF Gayle King was there, agreeing vigorously with Booker's comments; 3) Note to Pete Wehner: Joe "divided loyalties" Klein is not only still alive and employed but appears to be very much in favor at Time; 4) Davis said that although immigration wasn't a major area of dispute between McCain and Obama, it was "the most toxic issue" in the South, with "as many African Americans" as whites intensely concerned. He predicted it would be a huge issue in the 2009-2010 midterm election, at least if Obama wins. Why? Because the out of power GOP leadership will come to the strategic decision that the way to effectively discredit the Democrats is to unify in opposition to "comprehensive" reform (i.e., including semi-amnesty).
Right. That's why I'll be happy if Obama wins. Or, rather, why opponents of "comprehensive reform" should support Obama, even if on paper he's even more of a comprehensivist than McCain. Davis did not seem eager to hand unified Republicans an issue by voting on amnesty in Obama's first two years--a sentiment I suspect is widely shared among moderate Dems. ... 2:40 A.M. link
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Am I crazy to think this independent anti-Obama ad (on the William Ayers issue) is really, really effective--just shy of devastating--while Obama's fight-back response ad is only an 80% answer (ignoring the question of why Obama associated with the perpetrator of these "crimes"). ... That's the problem with the constant grassroots demands for aggressive Dem pushback. 1) The pushback is apt to be produced by partisans who think GOP "Swift Boat" attacks are sleazier than the voters think they are; and 2) partly as a consequence of (1), the pushback is apt to leave pregnant gaps; and 3) making a big deal of a GOP attack makes it a big deal. ... Is an 80% response under these circumstances better than no response? I'm not sure. ... But at least you'd think Obama wouldn't start the publicity-generating pushback until he'd defined himself in his big speech. Unless so many Ohioans had already seen the ads, and they were so damaging, that Obama had no choice. ... [via The Corner] 6:40 P.M. link
Most Audacious Claim of the Night:
Joe Biden, who's never forgotten where he came from ...
Wales, right? 12:51 A.M.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
T hings We Thought We'd Never See: Democrats Rally Against the Teachers' Unions! I went to the Ed Challenge for Change event mainly to schmooze. I almost didn't stay for the panels, being in no mood for what I expected would, even among these reformers, be an hour of vague EdBlob talk about "change" and "accountability" and "resources" that would tactfully ignore the elephant in the room, namely the teachers' unions. I was so wrong. One panelist--I think it was Peter Groff, president of the Colorado State Senate, got the ball rolling by complaining that when the children's agenda meets the adult agenda, the "adult agenda wins too often." Then Cory Booker of Newark attacked teachers unions specifically--and there was applause. In a room of 500 people at the Democratic convention! "The politics are so vicious," Booker complained, remembering how he'd been told his political career would be over if he kept pushing school choice, how early on he'd gotten help from Republicans rather than from Democrats. The party would "have to admit as Democrats we have been wrong on education." Loud applause! Mayor Adrian Fenty of D.C. joined in, describing the AFT's attempt to block the proposed pathbreaking D.C. teacher contract. Booker denounced "insane work rules," and Groff talked about doing the bidding of "those folks who are giving money [for campaigns], and you know who I'm talking about." Yes, they did!
As Jon Alter, moderating the next panel, noted, it was hard to imagine this event happening at the previous Democratic conventions. (If it had there would have been maybe 15 people in the room, not 500.) Alter called it a "landmark" future historians should note. Maybe he was right.
P.S.: My favorite moment didn't concern the unions. It came when NYC schools chief Joel Klein called for a single national testing standard. Groff, a crowd favorite, made the conventional local elected officials' objection that you need flexibiity, one size doesn't fit all, "what works" in County X might not work in County Y. And he was booed! Loudly. By Democratic education wonks. Wow. (The "one size" argument cropped up in the welfare reform debate too--and I assume it's just as bogus in the education debate. We're a national economy with cities that look more or less alike. What works in County X is almost certainly also going to work in County Y.)
P.P.S.: John Wilson, head of the NEA itself, was also there. Afterwards, he seemed a bit stunned. He argued pols should work with unions, in pursuit of a "shared vision," not bash them. But isn't this a power struggle where you have to bash the other side to get leverage, I asked. "Then you have losers," he answered.
P.P.P.S.: Mickey's Assignment Desk: Has someone done the trend piece on all these smart, young, powerful bald,** black state and local elected officials--e.g., Fenty, Booker, Groff, Nutter--who are taking on their unions? You'd need a name. Hair Club for Men is already taken. Domeboys? ...
**--Nutter has a bit of hair on the sides. Maybe Groff too. Close enough for a trend. 5:12 P.M. link
Here's that Biden clip, right on cue. ... Biden clearly sizes up "Frank," who asks him where he went to law school and where he ranked in his class, as a silly credentialist snob. It's hard not to feel a twinge of sympathy with the Senator there. But again, what killed Biden about this clip wasn't his anger, or even the uncomfortable "IQ" crack (followed by the trademark uncomfortable teeth-baring smile). It was that Biden's insecure academic boasts were almost all bogus.**It certainly wasn't a Kinsley Gaffe. ... [Tks to reader J.]
**--Another class action suit! ... 2:23 A.M.
Road Trip Report: 1) Things you don't want to hear from behind the counter as you buy a cup of coffee in Richfield, Utah: "You know, I think that water's cleared up enough it might be all right now." 2) Best part of trip: Spotted Wolf. 3) Worst part of trip: Worries about automated speeding-ticket cameras after horror stories from gas station night clerk; 4) What is probably a famous traffic warning (on the I-70 slope going into Denver):
TRUCKERS ARE NOT DOWN YET
It must be the hats. ...
Update: Several emailers say the sign reads "TRUCKERS YOU ARE NOT DOWN YET." Same joke! ... P.S.: None of these is the sign I remember seeing. But I was going fast. ... 1:19 A.M.
Is David Brooks trying to sabotage Barack Obama? I think so. Discussing Obama on NPR Friday:
He's gotta tie himself to a theme that runs through everything. And the theme that's authentic to him is: He is the future. He is the kind of person who emerges in a global world. And that's what I'm looking for at the convention, whether he can do that. [E.A.]
Suggested slogan: "America is Over! Deal With It." ... Brooks must know this is incredibly bad advice. Even Gore Vidal would recognize that this is incredibly bad advice. Heck, even Susan Estrich ... 12:20 A..M.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Biden: Maybe when I get to Denver I'll find someone who'll explain to me why Biden is an inspired choice. He doesn't have gravitas. He has seniority. We've been waiting for him to mature for decades. Only Chuck Hagel (his chief competitor as Sunday morning gasbag) could make him look wise. ... Virtues: He's likable. ... I'm thinking. ... 11:19 A.M. link
MoveOn, NeverMind: "MoveOn now calls their being listed [alongside AT&T and PG&E] as a sponsor 'a mistake' (they're apparently sponsoring an event at the same time), and swears they're going to get their name taken off the publicity for the event." [E.A.] ... Here's the poster with MoveOn proudly listed. ...[Tks to reader J.] ... Democratic Social Equality Watch: A bigger question is why any left-wing, or Democratic organization should sponsor an event with one "general" concert for the masses and a second, separate "invitation only" concert (with "VIP acts") for the elite. ... Subtle! ... The "general" bill looks better, though. ... 12:36 P.M.
QUICK: You know, one of the things that the nation is watching is next week, the first of the conventions kicks off, the Democratic National Convention. Originally, John Edwards was expected to be speaking at that convention, but after some revelations and a spectacular fall about--some revelations about his private life, he will no longer be speaking at the convention. Warren, you're somebody who has been supporting Barack Obama. Did you ever give money to John Edwards along the way?
BUFFETT: No, I didn't--I didn't give money to John Edwards. And, in fact, I think if I'd given money to him, I'd probably be asking for it back now. It's an interesting situation because John Edwards essentially was soliciting money from people to further his ambitions for the presidency, and, you know, people sent him 50, $100, $200, and I would say that they sent it in while they were being misled by the person who was soliciting the money from them. And, you know, I think if I were Edwards, I might give up a haircut or two and refund at least, you know, the people that gave the 50 or $100, $200 items, because they-- if they had known the facts, they wouldn't have sent him the money, and he is the guy that didn't give them the facts. I mean, he knew that, in effect, he wouldn't be elected president. I mean, the story was out there during the campaign. He denied it, but it was out there. And, in fact, I've never heard of it, but it might be kind of interesting if somebody, some contributor, would bring a class-action suit on behalf of all these people who essentially were led to send money to a man under totally false circumstances, false pretenses, and where he knew it and didn't tell them the truth.
QUICK: Hm, that'd be ironic for a trial lawyer...
QUICK: ...to have a class-action lawsuit brought against him.
BUFFETT: I've seen a lot of class-action suits with less to it than this particular case. The facts are clear. I mean, he solicited money and he wasn't telling the truth to the people he was soliciting it from.
QUICK: How--have you had any discussions? I mean, obviously, you talked to a lot of people who are high ranked in the Democratic Party. Is that something that's been thrown around out there, or did you cook this up yourself?
BUFFETT: No, I don't think--I don't think I've heard of that. The--I don't talk to a lot of class-action lawyers, but I really think--I think those people were defrauded. They sent money under--with the person who was soliciting the money from them misinforming them even when the National Enquirer came out with it during his campaign,he kept soliciting money and saying it isn't true. I would think that they--it might be a pretty good class-action suit.
QUICK: Even to this day, he says that he--they had 99 percent of it wrong, even in the most recent interview John Edwards came up with, although he admits that he did have an affair with a woman.
BUFFETT: Well, he would have a chance at a class-action suit to respond to that.
Heh! ... I would think this would be a difficult precedent to contain--can donors sue McCain because he didn't, in fact, get "the message" from the defeat of his immigration semi-amnesty bill--and he knew it? Maybe businesses have to live with this sort of uncertain class-action threat when they dissemble. Politicians will never stand for it. ... 12:32 P.M. link
Susan Estrich on why she knew early on that the candidate whose campaign she was running would lose in 1988:
Sometimes you can look at the numbers, and doom stares you in the face. ... [snip] ... By the summer of 1988, the country had turned from believing we were on the wrong track to thinking we were on the right track. They thought my candidate, Governor Dukakis, was more conservative than he actually was — that's what beating Jesse Jackson every Tuesday will do for you.
Dukakis' campaign manager may be the only person in America who thinks he lost because he was seen as "more conservative than he actually was." ... [Tks to Z] ... Update: Emailer F suggests I'm misunderstanding Estrich:
She isn't saying people ultimately voted against Dukakis because he was too conservative. She's saying that he initially was leading in the polls because people perceived him to be more conservative than he was. When his ideological underpinnings became more apparent they turned against him.
That's not my reading of her column. In the very next sentence Estrich says, "By the fall, it was clear: right or wrong, they didn't like him." Would they be "wrong" if they came to correctly perceive that he was more liberal than they previously thought? Or is Estrich saying they persisted in their misperception of him? I think the latter. But "F" could be right. ... 11:34 A.M.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Why Biden Would Be Bad: There's a bit of C-SPAN tape that should surface quickly if he's named. ... Remember, it wasn't Biden's plagiarism that knocked him out of the 1988 race. It was "'I think I have a much higher I.Q. than you do''--a bizarre videotaped putdown that Biden immediately called into question with five (5) boasts about his academic record, four (4) of which turned out to be easily disproved B.S. ... [you got a better candidate?--ed Zinni! ] ... [via Brothers Judd ] 1:16 A.M.
The Cruelty of Feiler: Comedian Bernie Mac died on a Saturday a couple of weeks ago. The following Monday, someone at the regular Slate editorial meeting--maybe me-- proposed a piece on him. The immediate, unamimous response: "Too late." Brutal! Work all your life, become a beloved public figure, go into syndication, then die tragically young--and you get, what, a day? ...
Screw that. Mary Battiata, an accidental fan of the Bernie Mac Show, explains its peculiar genius on Huffington Post. ... 12:44 A.M.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
WaPo story on Fannie Mae suggests 1) Paul Krugman was still at least deceptive when he glibly asserted the giant government-chartered company had "nothing to do with the explosion of high-risk lending a few years ago" ** and 2) government regulations, which Krugman and others say prevented Fannie & Freddie Mac from taking on too much risk may also have been at least partly to blame for the risky subprime-loan-backed securities they did purchase:
Internal documents show that even late in the housing bubble, Fannie Mae was drawn to risky loans by a variety of temptations, including the desire to increase its market share and fulfill government quotas for the support of low-income borrowers. [E.A.]
**--Krugman might claim that 2006 and 2007, the years examined by WaPo, weren't "a few years ago." But most readers of his column would have missed that vague lawyerly qualifier. And Calculated Risk makes clear Fannie had quite a bit to do with fostering the subprime market before then, presumably also in pursuit of its "low-income borrower" goals. ... 3:21 A.M.
BLOCKBUSTER! Rielle Hunter Holding Angelina Jolie's Baby? New Enquirer photo of Rielle Hunter and her child: 1) Distinctive-looking little girl; 2) Love lips! 3) But not the only baby who's got 'em! 4) More than arguably similar to the blurry baby Edwards is holding in the Enquirer's earlier "spy" photo. ... 2:54 A.M.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Sometimes it takes a while: Dick Morris says Obama should be "nominated by acclimation." So true. ... 7:18 P.M.
Mary Ann Akers reports that "as recently as last week" John Edwards was expressing interest in attending a Denver event.
[W]e were told by well-placed sources who asked to remain anonymous that Edwards did, indeed, express interest to One Campaign officials just last week in playing a role in Denver, where the former North Carolina senator is most certainly not welcome by party officials. (His wife, Elizabeth Edwards, is no longer scheduled to speak at the convention.)
Edwards aide Jonathan Prince now says, "Unequivocally, he is not going to Denver." ... 12:40 P.M.
Monday, August 18, 2008
On to Denver! When it comes to rounding up John Edwards news and links, I can't hope to compete with Deceiver. ... See esp. Lee Stranahan's informed speculations about future developments in the story, which now looks like it will run right into the Democratic convention. Obama's aides are probably not pleased. ... Howie Kurtz congratulates himself again: "I had a strong feeling last weekend when John Edwards finally acknowledged having an extramarital affair that we hadn't heard the end of this thing." Is Kurtz is the new Daniel Patrick Moynihan, able to react to any development by praising his own previous thoughts? (Even though Bill Wyman vainly pleaded, back before Edwards' semi-confession, "Howie Kurtz ...Only you can investigate why you haven't written this story.") ...
P.S.: Deceiver missed journalist Ann Louise Bardach's defense of her former tenant, Rielle Hunter, in the Santa Barbara Independent:
For two years, she rented digs from investigative reporter Ann Louise Bardach and her actor husband Bobby Lesser (Carpinteria residents) in Los Angeles, and they insist Hunter is not the Venus flytrap as portrayed on TV. They describe Hunter as smart, funny, and underneath that extravagantly New Age exterior, tough as nails and hard as rock.
P.P.S.: David Usborne asks: "Just days before the start of the Democratic convention in Denver, which will culminate in the crowning of Barack Obama, are we, in fact, seeing the early outlines of a first-rate political cover-up?" Only if Watergate was a first-rate burglary. ... 11:30 P.M.
Last October, John Edwards phoned his local North Carolina paper's editor, lied and played the cancer card in the attempt to prevent the paper from printing even his public denial of the Enquirer's original "affair" story. The only reason it can't be said the lie worked is that the paper had already wimped out, according to the editor, John Drescher. ... P.S.: The story of the Edwards Coverup, which has only begun to trickle out, is certainly providing a useful civic education in how powerful pols actually go about attempting to influence the MSM. It's one of those situations where unsophisticated people probably think the candidate himself calls the top editor directly to baldly influence coverage, while more sophisticated people know there are institutional procedures in place to protect against that sort of crude personal lobbying. Meanwhile, the really sophisticated people know the candidate himself calls the top editor directly to baldly influence coverage. ... P.P.S.: Whom else did Edwards--or maybe Elizabeth--call? ... [via Corner via Insta ] Update: How the competing Charlotte Observer ate Drescher's lunch while his paper (The News & Observer) was demonstrating "'the restraint that has marked The N&O 'sresponsible approach to the story.'" [via Deceiver] ... 2:35 P.M.
Once again an editor shies away from a discordant aspect of the Edwards scandal, namely the role of Elizabeth Edwards:
"Stop, stop. I don't want to go there. I do not like it, [the editor] said to a reporter's suggestion about the Elizabeth Edwards angle. "She's been hurt, she's lashed out."
Maybe the Enquirer will show up the MSM covering this angle too! Except that the editor who doesn't "want to go there" is the editor of the Enquirer. ... 1:45 A.M.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
The Unraveling--Andrew Young's Mom Isn't Buying Story #2! The mother of Andrew Young, the John Edwards aide who has claimed paternity of Rielle Hunter's daughter, makes it clear to the New York Post that she isn't buying that story.
Jacquelyn Aldridge made clear she deeply doubts her married son--Edwards campaign official Andrew Young---cheated on his beautiful wife and impregnated Edwards' paramour, Rielle Hunter, last year. ... [snip]
Asked if she believes two-time Democratic presidential contender Edwards, 55, is the real father, Aldridge declined to answer.
"I'm not supposed to talk," said the North Carolina woman.
Time to whisk her out of the country! ... Meanwhile, MSM reporters--having deemed it unnecessary to report on whether a leading, active Democratic pol, third-place presidential candidate and likely cabinet official cheated on his ill wife while making a big show of his loyalty and then lied about it to the public --have found an angle sufficiently tedious to be worth discussing with their readers: a possible campaign finance violation! Why does that prospect produce sudden investigative lust? Because government investigations of campaign finance violations can last years, involving lots of lawyers and government investigators who can then leak the fruits of their subpoena power to reporters in time to let everyone make it home for their kids' soccer game. And not even the Columbia Journalism Review will object. ... Unfortunately, as difficult as it is to not break some campaign finance law, the payments from Edwards's PAC to Rielle Hunter's film company may actually have been legal, according to the WSJ. .. 11:42 A.M.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
U.S. Senator Susan Collins of Maine isn't buying Story #2. ... [Tks. to D.B.] 3:29 P.M.
Former Edwards Senate campaign manager Gary Pearce isn't buying Story #2. ... 1:09 P.M.
How big a victim is Elizabeth Edwards? A decision tree: Did John Edwards
A) finally come clean in his Friday evening Nightline interview! ... or
B) choose, when caught out in a lie, to recklessly erect a second edifice of BS regarding at least 1) whether this was his only affair; 2) when this affair started; 3) when it ended; 4) whether it was going on in mid-2007 when Rielle Hunter's child was conceived; 5) whether he thinks he might be the father; 6) whether he actually wants a paternity test; 7) why he visited Hunter at the Beverly Hilton; 8) whether he knew and/or tacitly approved of payments to Hunter and putative father Andrew Young. ...
i) the same lies he told his wife, Elizabeth--that the affair ended in 2006, etc.--so the Nightline's Story #2 was really an attempt to save his marriage now that his political career is over or
ii) lies designed more to preserve the possibility of a political comeback some time in the future by admitting only to a "short" affair, before his wife's cancer recurred, that did not involve any questionable campaign practices (such as using contributions to give your mistress a job that allows her to travel with you)?
It's not surprising that People magazine's new cover story portrays Elizabeth Edwards as the anguished victim motivated by "her determination to keep her family together." People is basicaly working from script (A), the one John Edwards undoubtedly wanted the MSM to work from when he prepared for Nightline. The Excruciating Anguish of Elizabeth (who "pushed her husband to finally come clean") would be a logical part of that PR strategy whether or not Edwards was telling the truth to Bob Woodruff.
What's surprising is that the non-MSM National Enquirer, which is decidedly not working from script (A)--it's out to puncture Edwards' Story #2-- also portrays Elizabeth as the victim. "He is still lying to America and his wife." the tab says. The Enquirer opts for B (i).
Let me raise the alternative, third possibility contained in B(ii): there is a Second Coverup and Elizabeth Edwards, rather than being its victim, is in on it up to her eyeballs! ** Why do I think this is a real possibility? First, Elizabeth was in on the first coverup, allowing her husband to go out and deny the initial Enquirer reports of his affair. (He admits to Woodruff that she knew these denials were false,) Second, she might see her legacy as bound up with her husband's--and also want her children to have a father with a political future.*** Third, Elizabeth Edwards is famously smart, and a lawyer. Does still she really think the Enquirer is just making up the part about how Edwards' affair with Hunter restarted around the time Hunter got pregnant? Does she think her husband knew nothing about the payments?
She can't possibly be as dumb as People thinks its readers are. ...
**--She could still be anguished!
***--I deny the Second Coverup would be designed to avoid having her children's father humiliated. If he'd actually came clean, in this scenario, it would more decisively kill his political career but arguably be less humiliating than being caught out in a second set of lies, which is what will probably happen now. Rather, the Second Coverup risked this extra double-humiliation for the sake of political survival (i.e., being able to later say "all I did was have a brief affair"). ... 2:39 A.M. link
Kos--- characteristically gracious! ... 12:51 A.M.
Andrew Young--paternity-claimer and ... real estate genius? [8/14 Note: See semi-major update/correction at that link] ... 12:50 A.M.
Walter Shapiro wonders how he got taken in by the Edwardses. ... 12:06 A.M.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Story #2--The Unraveling: In John Edwards' I-will-have-nothing-more-to-say statement, he declared:
With my family, I took responsibility for my actions in 2006 and today I take full responsibility publicly. But that misconduct took place for a short period in 2006. It ended then. [E.A.]
Shockingly, this statement may be roughly accurate (except maybe for the "short" part!). But it helps to place a Clintonian emphasis on the year, 2006. "It ended then." The trouble is it started up again a while later, according to the newly credible National Enquirer.
After Edwards confessed the affair to his wife, he restarted it, and was sexually involved with Rielle when she became pregnant
Oh, you mean that misconduct. ... Hey, he didn't say he took responsibility for his actions in 2007. ... 12:43 P.M.
Ruth Marcus isn't buying Story #2. ... 12:05 A.M.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Bob Franken isn't buying Story #2. ... 12:21 P.M.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Andrea Mitchell isn't buying Story #2. ... 10:19 P.M.
Was Narcissus Kurtzistic? Howie Kurtz actually ends his WaPo piece--on the embarrassing failure of his paper and others to cover the Edwards scandal until Edwards himself confessed--on a note of self-congratulation:
Early last year, I wrote a column about the behind-the-scenes video that Hunter produced for Edwards's presidential run, a self-absorbed episode in which he said he would campaign "based on who I really am, not based on some plastic Ken doll." After watching the smooth-talking candidate preen for the camera, I questioned whether he was engaged in "carefully choreographed candor." I didn't know how right I was. [E.A.]
P.S.: Doe he know how wrong he is in his mis-potted history of recent sex scandals?
I don't think the party favoritism charge holds up. Yes, the media went hard after two Republican senators, Larry Craig (who pleaded guilty in that bathroom incident) and David Vitter (who admitted calling an escort service). But they also pounced on New York's Democratic then-governor, Eliot Spitzer (whose taste in prostitutes was revealed by the New York Times), and, famously, Bill Clinton (whose Monica Lewinsky mess was disclosed by The Post and hotly pursued by Newsweek). [E.A.]
And here I'd thought Michael Isikoff's original Lewinsky story was withheld by Newsweek--making it an odd data point for someone arguing that the mainstream media "pounced" on a Democrat. ... The Lewinsky scandal took off only after Matt Drudge reported that Isikoff's story wasn't being published. ... [Thanks to emailers M.G. and G.R.] 12:45 P.M.
Would it really hurt Obama if John Edwards went to Denver? The more he publicly defends himself, the more honest and upright he makes Obama look by comparison. And the smarter he makes Democratic primary voters look. ... 1:16 A.M.
USA Today isn't buying Story #2 ... 12:40 A.M.
John Tabin makes a good point about Rielle Hunter's refusal to allow a paternity test:
[Hunter's] response -- invoking her and her daughter's privacy -- is a little odd if she expects the test to come up negative. How much of an invasion of privacy is it to prove that someone isn't your child's father -- especially when you've already made public assertions about the child's paternity on the record?
Come to think of it, the statement put out by Hunter's lawyer, for all it's talking-point thoroughness, must have accidentally left out this sentence: "A paternity test is clearly unnecessary because I already know that the father of my child is Andrew Young." ... 12:27 A.M.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Edwards declares "it's not possible that [Rielle Hunter's] child could be mine," adding that he's "happy" to take a paternity test and "truly hopeful that a test will be done." The next day Rielle Hunter's lawyer says "Rielle will not participate in DNA testing."
Are you buying this? For one thing, if Edwards is really certain he isn't the father of the kid, wouldn't he have demanded a paternity test to clear his name, not just indicated his hope for a test? ... Too late to change the tone now! ...
P.S.-Story #2 is Elizabeth's too: Note also that it's not just John Edwards denying his paternity, it's his wife Elizabeth. In her Kos post she writes:
Because of a recent string of hurtful and absurd lies in a tabloid publication, because of a picture falsely suggesting that John was spending time with a child it wrongly alleged he had fathered outside our marriage, our private matter could no longer be wholly private. [E.A.]
Shouldn't she be demanding a paternity test? ... If Story #2 unravels and turns into Coverup #2, will it have been a coverup of which Elizabeth has now been an active (if not necessarily knowing) promoter? ... 2:56 A.M. link
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Story #2, Lie # 1: Sam Stein has emails sent by Rielle Hunter that already reveal one seemingly false assertion in Edwards' Modified Limited New Story--namely his claim that his "short" affair with Hunter didn't begin until after she began work as a campaign filmmaker in mid-2006:
Edwards and Hunter initially met each other sometime during the winter of 2006 (either late December 2005 or early January) in a hotel restaurant in midtown Manhattan. It would be another seven months before Edwards would first pay her for the documentary work. As Woodruff rightfully noted, the initial check cut to Hunter's film company was written on July 5, 2006, for the cost of $12,500.
What happened in between that winter meeting and the start of filming? Emails sent by Hunter suggest that her romance with Edwards was in full bloom that spring. In early April, Hunter wrote about a trip she had taken to North Carolina to see the man whom she affectionately referred to as "my love lips."
A week later she wrote another email in which she described the mental anguish of "being in love with a (still somewhat dysfunctional) married man."
Rather than Edwards having a fling with a staffer, Stein speculates, "Edwards hired her as a front to continue their relationship." ... But it's not true that Hunter had no filmmaking experience prior to being hired. She was actress, writer and producer for Billy Bob and Them! ...