Bloggers on Joe Andrew, the latest Gallup poll, and litigious professors.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
May 1 2008 6:13 PM

Say It Ain't So, Joe

Bloggers are analyzing Joe Andrew's superdelegate switcheroo, weighing the polls that show Clinton leading Obama, and wondering if it's a good idea for professors to sue their students.

Say ain't say so, Joe: Superdelegate and former DNC Chairman Joe Andrew has thrown in with Barack Obama. "This has got to come to an end," he says. What makes Andrew's loop-de-loop so significant is that he was appointed to the chairmanship during Bill Clinton's presidency in 1999 and had formerly backed Hillary to the hilt.

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Jake Tapper at ABC News' Political Punch has uncovered all sorts of juicy quotes from Andrew from a year ago, including this one: "Hillary Clinton has the strength and experience to compete and win across this country." Tapper concludes: "We live in interesting times." At the Huffington Post, Andrew is singing a different tune (and, conveniently, blaming John McCain): "[A]s much as I respect and admire [the Clintons], it is clear that a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote to continue this process, and a vote to continue this process is a vote that assists John McCain."

The Confluence suggests panicked Dems calm down and take the remaining primaries into account: "It seems to me like the DNC and the party power brokers have decided to unilaterally disarm Clinton without taking the voters into account. They desperately want the anti-Clinton candidate to win. Does the fact that Obama's campaign cut a deal with the DNC on joint fundraising have anything to do with it?" And Clinton supporter Taylor Marsh mocks: "No argument in favor of Obama, just that poor Joe is a-fwaid that if we continue to let the people decide things will get too negative, while making sure it is."

Marc Ambinder was on the conference call Andrew gave with the Obama team Thursday. He "suggested that he's worried about a smear campaign of sorts as retribution for his bravery, and pointed to an attempt to alter his Wikipedia page this morning. So Andrew said that he did not call either Clinton or Obama to give them a heads up because it's 'old political theater' to 'make perfunctory calls.' " (Slate's Trailhead blog has more on the Wikipedia editing.)

 Kyle E. Moore at Comments From Left Field says James Carville has another "Judas" on his hands, and Andrew is worse than Bill Richardson: "[O]ne has to take a look at where the endorsement is slated to take place; Indianapolis. Yup, Andrew's a Hoosier. … On top of everything else his endorsement brings, he's also planning on lobbying the other uncommitted Super Delegates into lining up behind Barack Obama in an attempt to end this primary before too much more damage has been done." Daily Kos, which has been in a protracted civil war over the Obama-Clinton split, thinks Andrew's defection is devastating: "It's a high-profile, high-level signal to other super delegates that it's okay to switch to Obama in order to finally bring about the inevitable conclusion. … The dam was holding, but it has now sprung a leak. The whole thing now threatens to collapse."

Read more about Andrew's defection.

Clinton surges: The latest Gallup poll indicates that Clinton now leads Obama for the Democratic nomination, 49 percent to 45 percent. Clinton and McCain are tied in a general election matchup at 46-46, while McCain leads Obama by "a statistically significant" 47-43.

Jim Geraghty at the National Review Online's Campaign Spot writes: "In this instant-reaction era, it's easy to expect poll numbers to immediately reflect shifts of fortune and a candidate's bad day or bad week on the trail. But the actual results of Pennsylvania and the tracking polls remind us that it sometimes takes a bit of time for developments to be digested by the electorate..."

The Strata-Sphere blames the bookers of Wright's tour for Obama's dwindling poll numbers: "[T]he timing on Rev Wright's 'Revenge Tour' at the National Press Club was perfectly timed to cripple Barack Obama in such a way he has no time to recover from the PR hit before the critical primary in NC." And Eric Kleefeld at TPM Election Central observes: "While that's within the margin of error, it's interesting to point out the last time she managed anything more than a one-point lead in Gallup: The previous occasion that Obama had to deal with Wright."

Michael Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard's Blog asks: "If Hilary does somehow manage to wrestle the nomination from Obama, would he be willing to join her ticket (I have no doubt she'd offer him the spot), and would his supporters be satisfied with that?"

Litigious prof: Hell hath no fury like a postmodernist scorned. Priya Venkatesan, a professor at Dartmouth College, has threatened a class-action lawsuit against the school that will name former students  who she says harassed her in class. One student challenged Venkatesan's social constructivist critique of literature, and was promptly applauded by his cohort. She claims her suit falls well within the parameters of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act barring employment discrimination. Read some evaluations here.

Dartblog, the blog of conservative student-run newspaper the Dartmouth Review, has been all over the Venkatesan brouhaha. It sees this as "a collection of students irked at having whiled away three months being hazed by 'social constructedness' and still lacking a solid apprehension of the expository essay. The public course reviews were not flattering. Probably the inter-departmental evaluations, completed by students and read by the professor's superiors, were still more candid."

Roger Kimball at Pajamas Media writes: "I used to think higher education could be reformed–you know, a few tweaks here and there, hire some good teachers, insist on a back-to-basics program and, presto, American higher education would once again be an ally instead of an enemy of civilization. The story of Priya Venkatesan reminds me of how utopian that belief was."

The English professor at University Diaries points to a typo-ridden e-mail from the dean of students in response to Venkatesan and notes: "At this point, as a good faith gesture, someone at Dartmouth should issue a reasonably lengthy, grammatically correct, statement to the press about the situation. Not because we need a statement, but because we need evidence that somewhere on campus are people who know how to write."

Even Gawker weighs in: "She was horrified! Horrified that an Ivy League undergrad bitched about hearing some academic nonsense about the entrenched power structures that got them where they are today! (No winners in this story, folks.)"

Read more about Venkatesan.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.

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