Wednesday, February 27, 2008
While the last two debates have not been blowouts, they have been incredible boring. Come to think of it, just like Big Ten football. After John Edwards withdrew people were all looking forward to the one on one debates of Clinton and Obama.
The 1st debate in Los Angeles had 8million people watch and was an historic moment. A woman and an African American. They both looked presidential, they both debated with civility and class.
The past two debates have been lame. The civility and class has gone out the window as Hillary Clinton has scratched and clawed to remain viable. Obama has played effective defense in order to not screw up, but these debates are not helping him in the big picture. He needs last nights debate to be the last debate.
As for Hillary, I think she has come off as a spoiled brat who can't get her head around the fact she is about to lose. I find it so ironic, because I really thought the initial 14 debates before Iowa she was really good in them and Obama was pretty bad in them. But some in the Obama camp said he was telling supporters to not worry about his debate performances.
"I'll show up in the fourth quarter," Obama is reported to have told supporters about debates. Well like the SEC teams against Ohio State in the BCS Championship it turns out he didn't have to show up in the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes or in this case Hillary Clinton would do the work for him by showing they didn't deserve to even be in the game.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
That's not to say that there hasn't been a lot to talk about. Michelle Obama said for the first time in her adult life she was really proud to be an American. John McCain and the New York Times went to war and to this point McCain has won. Hillary showed class and grace at the end of the Austin debate leading many to think that she was going to stop the negativity and exit the race with class. Then two days later she went viciously after Obama for his direct mail. Ralph Nader entered the race for President for some reason. Then to top off a sleaze filled week of politics was the picture of Barack Obama wearing a turban he was given as a gift on his trip to Africa.
Overall I say, who gives a shit about any of this?!? Its all crap, and none, I mean NONE of it will have any impact on making peoples lives better in this country.
Michelle Obama should not have said what she said because it just creates this kind of media circus. Think it was taken way out of context and that her experience travelling the country seeing the enthusiasm surrounding her husband is something of which to be extra proud.
As for McCain and the Times. Honestly, I feel bad for McCain. Think that the Times made a bad decision by running the story the way they did. Think that they should have held it until they had more reliable and credible information. I hold the New York Times to a higher standard and think that in fear of being out scooped they lowered their standards. In the end, think McCain has benefited in the short term with raising money and getting the conservative base (who hates the Times) more in his corner, but in the long term there are people looking for incriminating evidence against him.
The last debate was overall very dull to me. Hillary tried to get tough on Obama early and it backfired tremendously when she got booed. As for her 'valedictory' tone at the end. It may have had a better effect if two days later she didn't revert to shouting "shame on you Barack Obama" two days later.
Think that this blog has been equally tough on both candidates so Hillary backers relax on the next comment. Hillary is way off base on this claim that Obama is being unfair in regards to NAFTA. The Clintons pushed NAFTA and bragged about it as an accomplishment in helping grow the economy. She wrote about it in her book as something she is proud of Obama. She is playing into Obama's hand when she slams NAFTA as she is trying to take credit for all the good and none of the bad of Bill Clinton's administration.
As for Ralph Nader. I have great respect for Ralph Nader and what he has stood for. With all these politicians who say one thing and do another, this guy is a man of principles. Whether you agree with him or not he has been the major voice in consumer advocacy for years. Still becoming a Presidential candidate again lowers his stature and relevance and could do what he did in 2000, cost the Dems the votes needed in state like Florida.
Finally for the photo that came out on Obama yesterday. Think that Hillary and her team should be ashamed of having that get out. This is the kind of hit job I'd expect from the far, far right wing and blaming it on some low level staffers is pathetic. What happened to standing up and taking responsibility? Yet again, this campaign has fallen victim to a lack of discipline and professionalism. She now heads into a debate where this issue will come up and there is no way that she looks good defending this.
The week before Super Tuesday the campaign was more about ideas and differences. Even the few weeks after the tone of the debate was more about issues and people. The past week has been a steady stream of bullshit. It has become exhausting and disappointing. There have been so many points this election season I have dared to hope this election would be different, but this past week all we have seen is the kind of politics that disgusts people.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Since the beginning of this blog I have caught a lot of crap from people who wonder if I sit around all day and night and watch politics all day. While there is a certain extent this is true, 17people knows the importance of and excercise. Hence on all election nights, I plan a cardio workout at my gym and am lucky that my CNN is on one of the TV's there.
So last evening I was expecting the Wisconsin results would take some time to come in and that the speeches would come later in the evening. So when I got on the treadmill around 7:55CDT thought I would get a lot of analysis from Wolf Blitzer, Bill Schneider, and hopefully the beautiful and brilliant Suzanne Malveaux. Was also happy to see one of my favorite analysts Paul Begala finally back on the air.
I was wrong and the result was a cardio workout that seemed like it would never end.
As if he listened to the pundits John McCain raced to the stage as soon as he was projected the winner. In so doing he did not have to follow Barack Obama. McCain gave a speech that was clearly looking ahead to November. He hammered at the experience and rhetoric of the Obama and drew the only real line in the sand that he has and that is experience on National Security. Guess he failed to realize that tactic has not worked so well for Hillary Clinton.
Overall this was a pretty rough speech for McCain. It was eerily similar to the underwhelming New Hampshire victory speech. He seemed uncomfortable and off rhythm the whole speech never really getting into any flow.
Soon after McCains speech, Hillary took to the stage. If McCain was underwhelming, then Hillary was delusional. She never once thanked the people of Wisconsin who voted for her. She got blown out, but over 450,000 people voted for her. To put this number in perspective that was more than 50,000 votes more than all the Republican votes cast in the entire primary! This is another strong sign of voter and base energy for Democrats in an important state looking forward to November.
Hillary's arrogance and lack of understanding has once again caught up with her. How could she not thank the people of Wisconsin? Why would she not congratulate Obama? The Clinton campaign has lost its focus and message and the timing could not be worse.
While I think she should stay in the race until Texas and Wisconsin, think Hillary needs to decide how she will exit this campaign without damaging her reputation in the party. The TV pundits may say ‘it’s not over’, but guess what folks, ‘it’s over’. This is the time for the Clintons to show some class and go very positive, like the week before Super Tuesday. It won’t be enough to win, but it could be enough to save some standing in the party. If she goes negative on Obama, there will be many more Democrats who will want her to go away for the fall election completely.
Right in the middle of Hillary's lifeless speech CNN showed Obama walking to the stage. For the second time in the campaign Obama took to the podium cutting off a rival. The other time was to John McCain. Now remember, I am on a treadmill at this time and I look down and it says 32:23 when Obama starts talking. I had planned around a 60minute circuit, but Barack Obama had my health in mind when he spoke this evening.
In what has to be labeled a Bill Clinton-esque speech Obama talked and talked and talked while I ran and ran and ran. 45minutes later Obama wrapped up and I had run over 7.25 miles and burned over 1000 calories in the nearly 80 minutes on the treadmill.
The Obama speech, unlike many of his others spoke to me directly. Hence why I call it Clinton-esque. While it was his least poetic and least inspiring, it was the first time he really sounded Presidential to me. He talked details and was still able to keep a tone of hope and a smooth delivery. To me it was even smoother as there was much less call and response with the crowd. There was less, 'Yes we can', 'USA', or 'Amens' coming from the crowd. While these are popular with some, I think the campaign has gotten a little lost in the excitement and last night’s speech showed Obama as a President.
He got more specific and clear on his healthcare plan, talked of service for tuition assistance, and got into it with McCain on foreign policy, while showing respect for him. The speech was more detailed, which may not have sent chills down peoples spines (or in Chris Matthews case, his leg), but he spoke to people who wanted to know specifics. His style was less the leader of a mob, and more the leader of a country.
While he got criticized for the length of the speech, it was the style and tone of speech he has to show to defeat John McCain, and one we will hear much more.
Will be a long two weeks until Ohio and Texas, but think that the momentum of Obama is finally where it needs to be to win this nomination and wrap it up on March 4th. Unless he implodes in one of the two debates or some kind of huge story breaks think that he will sweep March 4th with maybe a close election in Ohio.
If he does that the morning of March 5th we will start the debate of McCain vs Obama.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Was watching Hardball last night and saw what I have to say was one of the more pathetic puff pieces by one of my favorite political pundits,,,, Chris Matthews.
In the video above I am only referring to the Hardball BIG NUMBER of the 5 people who reportedly have fainted during Obama speeches.
Great oratory can inspire, as a wannabe speechwriter I believe that words can make a difference. Whether it's in politics, a movie, a TV show, or a church, I can see someone getting chills, excited, angry, or even shedding a few tears during a speech. As one of ‘The West Wings’ biggest fans, Aaron Sorkin wrote speeches (like the one in the below post) that pulled at my heartstrings and emotions.
Emotions and fainting are two different things. What words, other than some absolutely tragic news, could force someone to faint? If someone told me I won the lottery, or that the Cubs won the World Series, I cannot imagine fainting.
Other than maybe once or twice due to extreme heat have I ever seen anyone faint. Certainly inspiring words or a great song could not be enough to cause a mentally balanced person to faint. If someone over the age of seven faints when they see a celebrity have something wrong with them. Even the young girls who are crying and fainting at the site of Hannah Montana or Justin Timberlake have issues. Kids who cry and faint at the mere site of someone have long roads of psychiatric help ahead of them.
Obama is a powerful speaker and I like his message of hope and change. I have seen entire speeches of his, but never heard anything worthy of someone losing conciousness. EMT's rushing to the aid of someone who was listening to a speech? Seriously, you gotta be kidding me?!
Can't let a respected pundit like Chris Matthews get away with Softball coverage like this. For the record I wouldn't faint if I saw Matthews. I find Matthews one of the more down the middle commentators on the air and think he does ask tough questions of his guests regardless of party. Yet he has jumped full tilt onto the Obama bandwagon, coming off as very anti Clinton. Matthews biased coverage of Obama has been rough for Hardball fans like me to watch.
During Obama's Potomac Primaries victory speech Matthews famously said that when Obama talks he has a 'thrill going up his leg.' His own colleagues mocked him for it, then he runs this pure fluff piece as his BIG NUMBER? Someday I'd love to be on Hardball but this is not the Matthews I have grown to respect and the following YouTube clip sums it up pretty well.
Very disappointed by the Hillary Clinton campaign that they made a big fuss saying that Barack Obama plagiarized the speech by Governor Patrick above. Think that it was effective in giving Obama a slightly bad day of press, but don't think they gain much by doing it. Above all they appeared desperate.
When it comes to speeches or writing, very little is purely original, and this line in particular is not either. It would have been better had Obama attributed the response to Patrick, something he had done before, but plagiarism?!?! The Clinton campaign plays into the Obama line of ‘old school politics when they push this.
It was a combination of quotes, not an original work, and while the video does not look good for Obama, think the desperation and dirtiness of the Clinton campaign is more the story, than any kind of plagiarism.
I am reminded of a quote by fictional speechwriter Sam Seaborn (played by Rob Lowe) of, you guessed it, THE WEST WING. In a great episode titled '20 Hours in America' talking about a part of a speech he wrote ‘in the car on the way over' Seaborn sarcastically said, "Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright."
See the words of a truly great writer, Mr. Aaron Sorkin. In the following clip which Seaborn references in the above quote. As a side note, President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) uses the phrase "Into the Fire" at two points of the speech. Sorkin was never accused of stealing this line from Bruce Springsteen who wrote a song post 9/11 in the his album "The Rising" labeled, "Into the Fire". Guess ‘The Boss’ is more mature than the Clinton campaign
Monday, February 18, 2008
One of my objectives in this blog is to expose hypocrisy and bad people in politics. Last week one of those people stepped into a pile of shit and has been exposed in many media outlets and today here in 17people as well. That person is the awful Congressman from Indiana, Dan Burton.
In the above video, this Congressional piece of garbage goes ballistic on Brian McNamee showed a righteous indignation in defense of Roger Clemens. He rails against 'trials by media' and for the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty'.
Dan Burton of all people should NEVER scold anyone for 'trials by media' or for holding to the 'innocent until proven guilty' principle. It was Dan Burton who spent over $7million in pursuing the fundraising of Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party. A spectacle that yielded no indictments or criminal charges.
Burton accomplished one thing convicting Clinton and the Democrats solely in the media. What this investigation first showed the nation was what many in Indiana had known for years, Burton was a worthless piece of shit. Burton famously released transcripts of a Clinton official that was asked questions. The problem was that he and his staff doctored the transcripts to make their case. The Burton investigation was an abomination of justice and was led in a way that was personal, unprofessional and incompetent.
While many will say this is a liberal attacking a Republican to settle a score I counter that bogus claim with a quote from Newt Gingrich, by no means a fan of Clinton . Gingrich was so upset he said to Burton, "I'm embarrassed for you. I'm embarrassed for myself, and I'm embarrassed for the conference at the circus that went on at your committee."
I guess when Burton said in the clip above, 'in this country, until a man is proven guilty, he's innocent', that principle applies when it benefits Dan Burton. Roger Clemens I guess is worthy of the principle but President Clinton wasn't.
MORE ON BURTON
While the hypocrisy of Burton when it comes to investigations makes me angry, what makes me physically ill is looking into the past of this guys hypocrisy when it comes to his personal life. This is a guy who has run for office on being a family man and a 'born again Christian'. In both these cases Burton fails miserably. Dan Burton is what he famously was called during the Clinton investigation, a 'scumbag'.
Most notably is the fact that Burton is a womanizer and utter sleeze bag with women. For 15 years Burton hid the fact that he fathered a child out of wedlock in 1983. Only revealing this when it was about to be exposed in the media.
When in the Indiana State legislator in the 70's and 80's the Indianapolis Star said "Dan Burton was known as the biggest skirt-chaser in the Indiana legislature." This wouldn't be as bad had Burton not run office for years as a 'family man'.
Burton's 'predator like' tendencies and stories of disgusting and sleazy behavior didn't end when he came to Washington. In the early 90's he was accused of assaulting a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood. As she tried to exit, "he grabbed my arm and pulled me back. I thought that he was just angry (about our discussion). I was there maybe 30 seconds, and he had his hands up my skirt so fast I didn't even know what was coming."
Burton also has kept two women on his Campaign staff payroll for years despite not having a campaign for years. One of them, a former model, ran the Burton campaign, out of her house. The house by the way, had its rent paid for by the Burton campaign.
There are many member of Congress who are not the greatest people. Dan Burton on the other hand, is an awful person, a worse Congressman, and above all the last man in Congress you would want any woman you know in the same room with. He is the classic example of why people hate and distrust Congress.
For more information on Burton and the multiple scandals that surround him check out the following links. In particular look at the 'Bolivia' quote on the wikipedia link.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
The image seen around the country tonight and will be shown around the country for the next week will be great for Democrats. The young, dynamic, Barack Obama standing alone on stage in front of nearly 20,000 cheering people in Wisconsin. The crowd was young, it was old, it had white people, it had black people, it had a true representation of America. In the middle of that crowd was Barack Obama. The old, static McCain surrounded by a group of insiders.
In watching John McCain's speech I was reminded of Iowa where the contrast that Obama gives voters was first shown to voters. After Obama's win in Iowa, Hillary Clinton took to the stage and had all the Democratic establishment behind her on stage. Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright, Wes Clark, Tom Vilsack were among the people the Clinton camp used as props and validation.
That same night Obama went to the stage with his wife and two young daughters. The picture was a young, dynamic candidate who was supported by a wide range of supporters. That crowd only needed Barack Obama to impress and inspire them, not well known endorsers.
The result of that speech, and more importantly that image, changed the Clinton campaign. If you watch her speeches now and they try to mimic the look of the Obama events. She stands on stage alone and surrounded by supporters much like Obama does now.
McCain has been so worried about getting the 'conservative base' on his side that he is losing his individual identity. That individuality made him popular in the mainstream of the country and unpopular amongt the conservative base of the party. He now has lost the balance of the 'maverick' he was known for. In the 2000 primary and early in this primary you saw McCain on his own.
You do not see McCain on his own much anymore. Most recent McCain events of McCain have been him surrounding himself with the slowly coming around to his side Republican establishment. With McCain you now Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudy Giuliani, Lindsey Graham, and recently Gary Bauer. This is not the McCain that independants have grown to love and respect and he looks smaller on the stage with these guys.
Then there was tonights speech where he followed Obama. It looked like that Clinton Iowa concession speech mentioned earlier. He was in a bland ballroom and surrounded himself with the establishment, just like Hillary did. Over his shoulders he had Senator John Warner and Congressman Tom Davis. Both are good men, Republicans that I have respect for, but they're both old and both are retiring. He also had Crist and my favorite was former Senator George Allen who lost reelection in Virginia in 2006. Allen you might remember, called a reporter 'macaca' and lost his race as a result.
I don't believe I saw one African American, one Hispanic American, and the average age on the stage had to be near 60 years old. The contrast could not have been more clear. There was no diversity and almost no youth. McCain looked and sounded stale and following Obama it looked even worse.
While both candidates swept the primaries of the evening the image of Obama versus McCain has to scare the Republican party. The Obama event looked like it was the place you had to be at and he looked powerful in his ability to stand alone. McCain looked like he was speaking at a stuffy Country Club.
As for the Republicans MSNBC just called Virginia for McCain, but again I think that Mike Huckabee has to be given a lot of credit. With no money, no TV ads, and going against the Republican machine with big wigs like George Allen and John Warner on the trail with McCain that Huckabee has impressed me.
The best part of the night so far for me is seeing a usual 'Red' or Republican state have a nearly 2-1 turnout in favor of the Democrats. Virginia has not gone for a Democrat since Jimmy Carter won it in 1976.
Folks, the home of the 1st campaign I ever worked on was Virginia. This November Virgina has the very popular former Governor Mark Warner (D) running for Senate. This will increase the Democratic turnout. The Governor, Tim Kaine, is also very popular, and the other Senator is the popular Jim Webb, a Democrat. As I said even Bob Dole won Virginia in 1996, but not this time! I predict today that Virginia will be in the Democratic Nominees column in November!
Just as in the Middle East though there will need to be an 'honest broker'. With Bill Clinton heavily vested in his wife's campaign, and Ted Kennedy stumping all over the country for Obama, two of the party's elder statesmen and most powerful forces are no longer in postition to be mediators or brokers.
Logically you would look at the highest elected officials within the Party. Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House, the highest ranking Democrat in the government. Her counterpart in the Senate Harry Reid would by rank be in line to play this role. While they would seem to be the people in place to take leadership in this situation, they both represent divided Democratic Constituencies in their chambers of Congress they have to keep happy.
Pelosi has around 80 Congresspeople backing Hillary and 60 backing Barack. Amongst Democratic Congressmen still over 90 members have endorsed neither candidate. Powerful Congressional Committee Chairmen and party leaders like John Dingell, Charlie Rangel, David Obey, George Miller and others are all committed to one candidate or the other. Pelosi showing favorite status to either would antagonize a chunk of her caucus.
Reid is in a similar spot. The second highest ranking member of the Senate, Dick Durbin is an Obama Campaign Co-Chair. High profile Senators like Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Pat Leahy, and 5 others are currently working hard for Obama. Another 12 Senators including Dianne Feinstein, potential VP Evan Bayh, and DSCC Chair Chuck Schumer are big Hillary supporters. Soon many of the other 30 Democratic Senators will start taking sides and the situation will become even more difficult for Reid.
Pelosi and Reid wants to keep their spots as Speaker and Majority Leader. Antagonizing the Obama or Clinton camps will certainly threaten their positions.
DNC Chairman Howard Dean has the title to hold this position and will have to be part of the process. Dean has said that he won't let the fight go to the convention. Dean has the benefit of not reporting to the constituencies of Reid or Pelosi. He is in a better position to be more diplomatic than either of the other leaders.
The problem that Dean, Reid and Pelosi have is that none have the stature in the party or the country to be in a role of a King Maker. How this goes down will be a political war unlike any seen in more than a generation.
If Hillary wasn't running, this is where you'd expect the stature, diplomatic ability, and political intelligence of Bill Clinton to come in and deal with the two sides. Ted Kennedy's status as the liberal lion would be another great option. Personally, I think Rep. John Dingell (D-Mi) would be the best member of Congress to be an honest broker. Due to the immense respect for which he is held and his reputation as a tough shrewd negotiator. This guy was able to get the Clean Air Act written and passed and the latest bill on Clean Air that was signed off by both the auto industry and mainstream environmentalist. Plus, he was around during brokered conventions of the 50's and 60's. He just came out for Clinton however which would probably eliminate him from this role. These three men are all powerful enough prescences to not be intimidated by anyone. The problem for the mediator is that its likely these three power negotiators will all be at the table pushing their candidates.
Some other names start with Jimmy Carter. He is an ex-President, but with the names and egos involved, think this role would be over his head. Walter Mondale is a distant memory for many of the voters that are pushing Obama. Tom Daschle is a huge Obama backer. Dick Gephardt has the respect of many, but is not the national figure and has been nonexistent since his failed 2004 campaign. John Edwards will probably endorse one of the two and still doesn't fit the profile needed to keep these two sides from killing each other. 2004 nominee John Kerry you may ask? Even if he had not endorsed Obama, this blogger would say, no.
In the current age of the Democratic Party with 24 hour news and the internet the person has to be well known, respected, and have the gravitas to sell it to the campaigns and more importantly the voters. The job is one that would be a risk for whomever takes it on. Obama and Clinton supporters are fiercely loyal and would most likely hold a grudge against the party elders that stick their necks out.
In my opinion the Democrats have two people they should turn to for this job.
Many people forget that Mitchell, now best known for Major League Baseball's "Mitchell Report" on Steroid Use in baseball was Democratic Senate Majority Leader. He has respect in the party and a history of diplomacy. Mitchell's success in brokering the "Good Friday Accords" in Ireland and the Mitchell plan for peace in Israel show his strength in diplomacy. Mitchell has also received high marks for his steroid investigation that was a tough assignment from Bud Selig. He has the media savvy and has been out of the political arena for some time now. He seems to find high profile causes and while he plays a humble guy on TV am sure he would love the spotlight.
The best choice one person in the country who could best handle this role is Al Gore. Gore's popularity and favorability crosses the lines of both parties and not being in this race has actually elevated his standing. He has avoided the slings and arrows of the two campaigns, has not endorsed and lost his home state like Kerry and Kennedy did. He has been a true statesman and will most likely not endorse as reported by CNN's Jessica Yellin today.
Gore has stayed out of high profile public fights in politics since his endorsement of Howard Dean. He has remained above the fray and on message on his issue of Global Warming. Many Democrats including myself hoped he would enter this campaign and be the next President. He may now play an even bigger role in deciding who the next President is.
Why would I want Gore as the broker over Mitchell or others? Not because he is more well known, but rather his unique perspective.
Monday, February 11, 2008
While the headlines are not exactly what you want in the tightest delegate race in years, it keeps them in the news at or above Obama. In the past week the Clinton's have found a lot of different ways to keep the spotlight on them. To do this they have dug deep to keep as much or more of the focus on them instead of allowing Obama to own the news and headlines.
After Super Tuesday's draw, the press covered the virtual draw as a win for Hillary. At this point, I feel the campaign made a strategic decision aggressively keep the press busy on them with either good news or in more cases, bad news. The 10 contests after Super Tuesday all look to be solid for Obama and the campaign knew they had to stay in the public eye one way or the other. It has been a risk on their part because in order to get coverage they have had to show weakness.
Since Super Tuesday the Clintons have made headlines in the following ways.
- Hillary announcing that she pumped $5million of her own money into the campaign to keep it competitive. While this information would have come out anyway, it was odd to make this pronouncement after a strong showing the night before. It was a sign of things to come.
- The Clinton team was able to take MSNBC David Shuster's idiotic remark that the Clinton's were 'pimping out' daughter Chelsea on the campaign trail and turn it into a positive story for them. They look good slamming the press and it has given more credence to the claim the media is biased against the Clinton's.
- President Clinton gave an interview where, in his own way, he showed remorse for some of his campaign tactics . It wasn't a genuine apology to Obama, but it did generate stories and coverage that was more positive than negative. He had to show some rare humility and admit some mistakes. More importantly he cleared up some of the controversy before other big contests upcoming.
- Clinton fired Patti Doyle as campaign manager. They did this after 5 losses over the weekend and before what will almost certainly be 3 more losses on Tuesday. This shows two things to voters and observers. A campaign in disarray, which is bad, but also makes the victories of Obama seem like no surprise because the person running the campaign was let go.
One comment on Doyle's exit. The Clinton state by state strategy has been flawed for some time. The result is the 10 straight primaries Obama looks poised to win. Team Clinton had no plan in place for after Super Tuesday before the Texas/Ohio March 4th primaries. To put themselves in a spot where they are likely to lose 10 races in a row is unacceptable. The stat of the weekend is that Clinton did not get over 40% in any of the five contests in which they competed. The Clinton camp should be embarrased by the stunning weakness for a frontrunner.
The end result is they have had to stay relevant and newsworthy by playing a lot of their political cards. The question is, how many more newsworthy cards do they have left to play?
A clip of Bill's interview and MSNBC's apology to the Clinton's below:
Friday, February 8, 2008
As for the candidacy of Mitt Romney I give the Republican Party a lot of credit for not buying this guys pathetic act. They avoided what Democrats were unable to in 2004with John Kerry, electing a guy who thought being President would be a good gid. A guy who would say anything,change any position to get there, except stand on his own principles. A great example of this is the following answer from an early Republican debate. I have seen some awful answers before but this one makes no sense.
While many will say that many religious voters would never vote for a Mormon and that cost him. Or that Romney spending so much money turned people off, think the core reason Romney went from frontrunner to loser is because he came off as a sell out.
It was laughable that this guy tried to run as the 'conservative candidate'. Mitt Romney was at best a 'born again Conservative' and his rebirth happened just in time to run for President.
On abortion, he all of a sudden 'saw the light' and reversed a 20+ year record of being pro-choice.
On guns, he bought himself a 'Lifetime' membership to the NRA after limiting gun rights while Governor.
On race, he pronounced loudly that he saw his father march with Martin Luther King, only to two days later say he didn't mean 'saw', but that he marched with him in spirit.
On the environment, he went from a forward thinking Governor who supported cap and trade to the protectionist, big business thinking corporate executive that wants to scare people out of making a commitment to the environment by saying their jobs will be lost in doing so.
He also did everything he could to backtrack from the healthcare plan passed in his state that insured everyone. Instead of embracing a plan that hopefully shows the nation a blueprint for better healthcare coverage, he slithered from it showing no courage in fear that his opponents would attack him for being too liberal.
Once it became clear that he was in trouble on the 'Evangelical Right' from Mike Huckabee in Iowa and on the 'NeoCon Right' from John McCain in New Hampshire, he launched a negative Ad Blitz that against both of them. The result was unifying the Republican field, including Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani against him. There are reports of emails between the campaign that said, 'anyone but him.'
In fact a story that after Huckabee won Iowa, he and McCain talked and Huckabee said, 'your turn to beat him now.' While Huckabee appeared a nice guy in debates and on the campaign trail his heavy handed campaign tactics and flip flopping whenever it was beneficial to him was the only unifying factor in the Republican party this nomination season.
All that aside, Mitt Romney is the latest example of a guy who wants to be an elected official because he thinks he deserves it. Maybe he wanted a good gig where people tell him how great he is, like John Kerry did. Or maybe it came from a sense of entitlement that comes from having a silver spoon from birth, like George Bush did.
Early in his campaign, John McCain tried to be what the 'base' of the Republican Party wanted him to be. It wasn't what he stood for and the result was his campaign appeared dead and he almost had toto drop out. McCain changed course, back to what he believed, and the result is he will be the nominee in one of the great comebacks in Republican political history.
Mitt Romney wanted to win at all costs, including his principles. In the process he cost himself his chance to win.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
The Obama endorsements may have made things closer in some states but other than Missouri with Claire McCaskill did not take states away from her. Governor Napolitano was not able to bring Arizona into the column and the Clinton edge in the hispanic community proved to be the difference in the night. She won of the Hispanic vote
I thought the both gave great speeched which dwarfed the efforts of the Republicans. Found it entertaining that midway through McCain's speech Obama took the stage and all the networks jumped to go to Obama to dump McCain.
While the MSNBC coverage I watched raved about Obama's speech in particular the line that went, 'we are the ones we've been waiting for'. He continued to show powerful presence and what I liked best, he kept his smoothly combative tone towards Clinton. He knows now after the draw of Super Tuesday, that he has to battle Hillary to beat her. While he is smooth and subtle about it, he has gone after her regularly as of late and he needs to keep doing it.
As good as Obama, I felt that Hillary had her best speech of the campaign last night. Hillary has been getting better at the podium and despite the fact that the craze around Obama had taken over the news, she got on stage and showed she is a major force.
I feel Hillary had the two best lines of the night. Loved the line against the Republican attack machine when she said "I won't let anyone swiftboat this country's future." The fact it was a mild swipe at John Kerry made it even better. It showed an important character trait that many Democrats like about her and thats her willingness to fight the Republicans when they come at her. Obama calls it the 'old style of politics', the Clintons call it the toughness necessary to get things done. Its up to the voters to decide who is more correct.
Hillary also said last night, "My mother, who was born before women could vote, and is watching her daughter on this stage tonight." It was a simple line, but it was a powerful line. I heard noone on any station mention this line after the speech. Here is why it was important in my opinion. The group of voters that Obama has most aggressively gone after from Hillary is women. Oprah, Caroline, Claire McCaskill, Kathleen Sebelius, etc have been working to shrink the gender gap and have been effective. This line was a reminder to women out there the importance of her candidacy. It was the line of the speech, delivered perfectly, and to me the line of the night.
The upcoming primaries will have Obama as the frontrunner and what we have seen is this race is that the worst thing to be in this campaign is the frontrunner. Game on!
Monday, February 4, 2008
I have been hard on Huckabee for many reasons in this election, most often the fact that he does not believe in evolution and wants to change the constitution to reflect the word of the ‘living God’. Yet, throughout the campaign, even my closest Republican friends will tell you, I have said that I like Huckabee as a person. He is the most likeable and endearing candidate in the field by far. He has also been the best debater and displayed a charm and sincere compassion unlike any Republican candidate in my lifetime.
The CSM article says he has given left leaning and moderate Americans some substantive issues which to embrace while at the same time giving Evangelical voters a path to support the Democrats on the same issues.
Huckabee has talked about the need to protect the environment, increase funding for the arts, was the first Republican to really discuss the need to reform healthcare, and of particular interest to me, and probably John Edwards, discussed a truly compassionate and 'Christian' stance on fighting poverty in the US. These views have caused some, Rush Limbaugh in particular to label him a ‘liberal.’
For years, it has been frustrating to me that the 'Evangelical' vote would seemingly always vote strictly on abortion and gay marriage over any other issue. As a result it has caused many left wing strategists and followers to think this group is a lost cause for Democrats. It has caused other Democrats, myself included, to question these views because they appeared so narrow minded. The word and practices Christ are not just ‘two issues’, but those two issues have been effectively used to mobilize voters against the Democratic candidates.
However, the CSM article gives a different look. By shaping the national debate to include the issues of fighting poverty, protecting the environment, and reforming healthcare there is a chance for the Democrats to erase some of the deficit in this large and influential voting bloc.
"Almost 60 percent said that fighting poverty, protecting the environment, and expanding public healthcare deserved more attention than abortion and gay rights. Twenty three percent said their views had become less positive about Republicans, twice the number who said they'd soured on Democrats. According to some polls, the votes of 40 percent or more of white evangelical voters are up for grabs in 2008."
The above quote and included poll numbers is straight from Grainger's Christian Science Monitor piece. The poll was conducted by BeliefNet so think it is safe to say it was not designed to be beneficial to the Democrats.
The views of Evangelical voters growing more disenchanted with Republicans have more to do than just their dismissal of the three issues above. While proclaiming a moral high ground in the 90’s in contrast to Bill Clinton Republicans have found that ground is too slippery for them to keep their footing as well. Whether the Jack Abramoff-Tom Delay scandal of lobbying influence, out of control government spending, or the deception to justify the war in Iraq, the Republican Party suddenly is not as clean and moral as they so often claim. Combine those legislative failures with the multiple moral scandals of Senator David Vitters, Representative Mark Foley, and Senator Larry Craig and the party of ‘values’ was suddenly anything but.
Now with John McCain the likely nominee and his lack of talk and leadership on any of the core issues of the Evangelical movement the ground is there for Democrats to expand their share of the Evangelical vote. McCain famously compared Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell to Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan in 2000, a statement that will not go away. Other Evangelical leaders like Dr. James Dobson has said he will not support a McCain candidacy in ‘any circumstances.’ McCain is Pro-Life but has never pushed or led on this issue. He has voted against the Same Sex marriage amendment and is not on the campaign trail discussing fighting poverty or expanding healthcare.
The best part about this opportunity is not the political upside, but rather the fact that its the right thing to do. These are core Democratic issues which if planned and discussed properly are hard to rally against. This would not be a flip flop or a change in policy, but it would require sticking to some of our more liberal values, a move that proved tough for Al Gore to do in 2000 or John Kerry in 2004.
Obama talking to a church about our need to tackle poverty or Hillary talking to the same group about expanding healthcare and protecting the environment is them talking from their true beliefs, or at least the party’s beliefs. This is unlike the pandering and flip flopping that McCain or Romney will have to do when talking to the same churches on issues like judges and same sex marriage.
The fact of the matter, as proven in the CSM article, is take a small handful of social issues away and the Evangelical/Moral/Christian vote is socially more liberal than they have been portrayed. These are the groups of people that run soup kitchens, coat drives, and programs to benefit the least fortunate of those among us. The vast majority of these folks are good hearted, hard working people and not the zealots as some of the leaders are often portrayed by the liberal left.
As most every candidate, Republican and Democrat, says when they run for office, ‘there is more that unites us than divides us’. This is also true with the Democratic Party and the Evangelical or ‘Religious’ vote. We do not agree on everything, but we agree on enough that we can do great and important things to better the country.
While the Kennedy family is one of the most historic families in the United States do we as a nation really care who the children of John F. or Robert F. Kennedy endorse?
Apparently the campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton feel that we do. This weekend I saw that they both ran ads with the respective children of RFK and JFK that are endorsing them.
For those that haven't been follwoing the race as closely, Caroline Kennedy the daughter of John F. Kennedy has endorsed Barack Obama along with her uncle Senator Ted Kennedy and his son Congressman Patrick Kennedy. Robert F. Kennedy Junior and two of his sisters have endorsed Hillary Clinton.
Here is the RFK ad.
Here is the JFK ad.
Will either of these ads really change anyones mind on who to vote for? RFK and JFK are two of our nations most inspiring people, but they are not on the ticket. They are not going to fix healthcare, stop the recession, or bring about change. I am a huge fan of the Kennedy family and think they still have an influential role in American politics.
I think its fine that the Kennedy's are on the campaign trail and at events. Yet, I think that it is way off message for Hillary and Obama to run ads that look back. Just as Bill Clinton isn't on the ballot, neither are the Kennedy's and I think more voters will make their decision on what Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton say, not on how close to the Kennedy's they are.
The most impressive event of the weekend has to go to Barack Obama. Not the Oprah/Caroline Kennedy/Michelle Obama event in Cali with surprise guests Maria Shriver and Stevie Wonder. While that event was amazing there is one other event that really struck me.
The event and statement of the weekend was the 15,000 person Obama event in Idaho at Boise State University. Idaho gave George W Bush 67% and 68% in 2000 and 2004. It gave Bob Dole a 20point victory in 1996. It might be the most Republican state in the country. The 15,000 number is almost 3 times as many Democrats who voted in the last Democratic primary in 2004 for all of the candidates.
My family in Idaho, who I thought were the only Democrats in the state have told me it was like nothing they have ever seen before in the state. Thousands of people were turned away. that kind of excitement is reserved for Boise State Football, but never for a Democrat. Think it showed Democrats around the country the excitement around the Obama campaign. This weekend Idaho became IdahObama for a day. If the state of Idaho can fired up for Barack Obama anywhere in this country can.
To watch the Boise event click on the following link.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Look at the picture above. If nothing else comes out of the much anticipated one on one debate the picture above is historic and to me inspiring. We are weeks, maybe months away from the first ever major party candidate in the history of this country that is not a white male. 230+ years it took for that to happen. So unless there is a brokered Democratic Convention and Al Gore is nominated from the floor, this country will have to decide if a woman or African American will become the 1st minority to ever be President.
Now to the debate. It was a different debate than many expected. After the bloody South Carolina Debate on MLK day, the bloodier South Carolina campaign battle, and the contentious Republican debate last night think people were expecting fireworks. Instead what we saw was two people who can be President, are eminently qualified to be President, and above all acted Presidential.
Now it wasn't the kind of debate people will jump up and down over because of a lack of fireworks and nastiness. Unlike the Republicans last night who talked very little about their plans, Obama and Hillary were very clear and eloquent on what their vision was for the country on healthcare, on the economy, and on the war. Well on the war, Obama was clear, Hillary talked herself into a bit of a circle.
As for the debate I don't think there was a clear winner. They both impressed me and I thought the way they battled was civil, but not boring. Personally I think they are both interesting and captivating candidates.
I give Obama big credit for showing a grasp on policy that he was lacking in recent debates. Think this was his best debate. Hillary came in on her game and he stood toe to toe with her. Very impressive effort. Think he gets hurt on the Healthcare debate even though his plan is probably more feasible and realistic than hers. I think he was brilliant on the War and think his best line of the night was, 'I think its more important to be right on day one.' Think it was a clear way to go after Hillary's most used arguement against him.
As for Hillary, she was strong and I think winning the debate until the topic turned to Iraq. As I wrote yesterday I respected John Edwards for saying his war vote was wrong. Hillary Clinton has been battling this question for the whole campaign. She got caught on in tonight and it derailed a nearly flawless effort. She handled immigration, was passionate on healthcare and showed a warmth and humor that many people feel she does not possess. She had some great one liners and the biggest ovation of the night for her 'it took a Clinton to clean up the first Bush mess, it's gonna take another Clinton to clean up another Bush mess. The Kodak Theatre went nuts. On the war though she talked herself in circles and it worries me when if she goes up against McCain.
While Hillary stumbled on the war she did great overall and Obama did too. It was a stark contrast from the night before and I hope that in the next few days leading into Super Tuesday, these two and their campaigns raise the level of debate on the issues. They did just that in the Kodak Theatre, and I for one implore them to do that for the rest of the campaign. May the best PERSON win.