This page shows all the posts for the "Barack Obama" Category from E Pluribus Unum
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November 26, 2007

Obama On Race (Updated)

[cross posted at Daily Kos]

You don't think of Iowa as having any significant sort of minority population. So when Sen. Obama held a forum on urban issues at a Des Moines high school, it got my attention. He talked about what it takes for a teenager to succeed at a job (only a black candidate could make the comments about "Pookie" that Obama did). Then it got serious:

[P]eople turned silent when Annette Brown, an African-American woman, told Obama of her struggle to integrate into the community, after moving to Des Moines from Chicago.

"I come from a diverse background. I have people of every race in my family," Obama responded. "When we were at Thanksgiving, you looked around and everybody tried to figure out, how do all these people fit together? I see a lot of different perspectives.

This is so much better, and believable, than his cringe-inducing contention that being 10 years old in Indonesia uniquely qualifies him for foreign affairs.

And one of the things that I truly believe is that the vast majority of Americans want to do the right thing. They want to live together. They believe in diversity...They believe everyone is American. I truly believe that is where America wants to be."
Who else talks like this? No one. In an era where fear-mongering is the standard means to getting elected, Obama's appeal is refreshing. This is the kind of talk that attracted me to Obama in the first place.

Is it enough to win him the nomination and the election? I've said it before: if Giuliani is the nominee, race will be THE issue whether it is overt not (look for "Pookie" to reappear one way or the other). That said, I'm entertaining the idea that perhaps Obama, not Clinton, is the best Democrat to run against the Republicans.

"But here's the thing that I've said before and I'll say it again. We do have a legacy of racism in this country, and we see it in our daily lives. There's a reason why African Americans are more likely to be incarcerated. There's a reason why Hispanic Americans are more likely to be without health care and in low-wage jobs. It has to do with the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow and discrimination.

And even if people aren't discriminated against now...that legacy still persists. And one of the things that we have to do is finally acknowledge that legacy and go ahead and try to make it right. Not by calling each other by names, not by acting suspicious towards each other, but rather simply saying, let's go ahead and solve this problem in this generation, so it doesn't persist for the next generation."

The phrase "Only Nixon could go to China" floats in one's mind. I'm just saying.

In any case, America has always been about embracing the disenfranchised -- It's even inscribed on the Statue of Liberty -- and so we necessarily a pluralistic nation, too. If we are to be united, then that's where it starts. E Pluribus Unum, baby.

I like this guy.

UPDATE: ...but can he, you know, throw a punch? Richard Wolffe has some commentary.

November 14, 2007

Odds & Sods #44: Silence Of The Lambs Edition

  • Breaking News: "Musharraf Expects To Quit As Army Chief By End of Month." Riiiiiiight. And Larry Craig expects to leave the US Senate by the end of October.

  • When Brian Williams guest-hosted on SNL a couple of weeks ago, it went a long way in changing my opinion of him. But this softball interview with Rudy Giuliani reminds me again why I didn't like him in the first place.

  • Speaking of Williams, apparently his ratings are up post-SNL. Then again, so are Katie Couric's and she wasn't even on the show.

  • Judith Regan is suing News Corp. over her firing in the OJ book affair. She's claiming (among other things) that Murdoch tried to ruin her reputation to protect Rudy Giuliani's. You know -- she was boffing Bernie Kerik and they were afraid she'd blab about it. Sounds to me like they all -- Murdoch, Giuliani, Kerik, Regan -- deserve each other.

  • Bush's plan for the economy: prop it up with matchsticks and duct tape until January 20, 2009. Then blame the new president for ruining it.

  • James Carville compares Don Imus to Bill Clinton.

  • A Wiki site has leaked the Gitmo Camp Delta manual online. Or at least, ahem, that's what they tell me.

  • Silence of the Lambs: Baghdad, post-surge. [Note: for those of you who didn't read the novel, the reference is to the silence that was heard after the lambs had been slaughtered; it haunted the novel's protagonist.]

  • Chris Bowers: "If Obama wins Iowa and New Hampshire, he takes the nomination." Maybe yes, maybe no. One thing for sure -- of all the top tier Dems, he has shown the most upward momentum over the past 30 days or so. Even the prediction markets are starting to reflect that. I just wish he had more of Jack Kennedy in him and less of Adlai Stevenson.

  • Matt Stoller asks whether the negative attacks on Clinton are working. Short answer: maybe.

  • Got to know when to fold 'em: Apparently, Gov. Spitzer has decided to abandon a plan to issue New York driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

October 31, 2007

The real winner in last night's debate (Updated)

[cross posted at Daily Kos]

Notwithstanding Krugman, it looks like a narrative is forming for the general election, and trust me, you've heard this song before: firmness versus nuance. It's a Republican frame and that means the traditional media will be eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And that means there was only one winner (see below).

But first, hear me out:

To the extent that Edwards (and Obama) attacked Clinton on being "for it and against it at the same time," it helps the Republicans as much as it helps any Democrat. Why? Because, for Republicans, right and wrong don't matter -- only firmness and resolve matter. [Note: did I miss something or did Edwards pass when it came to declaring his position on Spitzer's proposal?]

Granted, Edwards is showing he, too, has cojones. The problem for Edwards comes later -- during the general election. Far more people believe Giuliani and/or McCain have the stones than believe Edwards does. So, down the line, Edwards may only have himself to blame. That's what happens when candidates accept their opponents' frame -- it leaves your opponent with plenty of ammunition during the general.

Also: another Republican frame is going to be fear. So when the debate turns to drivers' licenses for immigrants (as it will for at least the next few days) I'll give you one guess as to who that helps. Hint: It ain't the Democrats. [UPDATE: Jonathan Singer addresses the pros and cons of the issue.]

Deal with it: fear is a Republican frame. Fear of terrorists, fear of illegal immigrants, free-floating fear of "colored people." In fact, racial fear will be the most potent theme that the Republican base responds to.

And Giuliani is all about racial fear. Clinton? Buddies with Charlie Rangel and everyone in Harlem (just ask O'Reilly). Edwards --helping those in poverty? Please. You know who that helps, right? Obama? Too black. Not black enough. Can't make up his mind about what his race is. Except we know he's soft. Soft on Islamofascists. And you know what color their skin is.

Bottom line: the real winner last night was George W. Bush. And, by extension, his rightful heir: Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani who (like Cheney and Bush) has made his career out of fear. Long before 9/11, he made a name for himself by appearing at -- and later, as mayor, ordering police riots. And that's not to mention the infamous killing of Amadou Diallo. In fact, before this is over, the 9/11 thing may very well have fallen by the wayside, having been exposed as his weak spot, not his strength. His strength? Giuliani is the one virulent, determined, resolute, angry white male who will stick it to em, once and for all, wink wink nudge nudge.

Will the Dems be ready for that? As I see it, the only way to be truly ready is to be prepared to hang Bush around Rudy's neck and let him sink to the bottom of the fetid ocean he swims in. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. Who among the Dems is ready to do that?

Because you know Rudy's coming for you. Don't say you weren't warned.

October 05, 2007

What Obama's Missing Flag Pin Really Means

Sen. Barack Obama:

"I said, you know what, I probably haven't worn a flag pin in a very long time. After a while I noticed people wearing a lapel pin and not acting very patriotic."

"My attitude is that I'm less concerned about what you're wearing on your lapel than what's in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those who serve. You show your patriotism by being true to our values and ideals. That's what we have to lead with is our values and our ideals."

Exactly -- it's not what you say, it's what you do. A simple message, no? But there is more, much more, to it than this.

But let me digress for a moment.

Mark has a round-up of the reaction from the other side. It illustrates the old saying: It's the hit dog that howls.

That said, Obama's declaration got me thinking about how there are only two REAL parties in this election cycle:

  • Flag Party
  • Constitution Party
One party pledges allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. The other party pledges to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

One party promises rule by emotion (fear), spectacle and symbolism. The other party promises to rule by law, using the blueprint laid out by the founding fathers, to protect the rights and liberties of individual Americans -- whether they're in the majority or not.

One party pushes new, liberty-restricting amendments -- like the anti-flag burning amendment. The other party promotes the amendments we already have -- like the First Amendment -- amendments that have stood the test of time, history and our culture.

But wait -- there's even more:

The real difference between these two de facto parties is this: Members of the Flag Party know what's at stake. But Constitution Party members? Not so much. They don't even know they're members of their own party! They have no demonstrated ability to frame the nature of their philosophy, or even the nature of the opposing arguments in the current election cycle -- security vs. liberty, words vs. actions, symbols vs. reality.

Even Obama, in yesterday's comments, didn't (or couldn't) lay out the boundaries of this battlefield -- although he did come close.

October 04, 2007

Odds & Sods #41: “Fred Thompson vs. The Soviet Union” Edition

  • Judge to Sen. Craig: You're stuck with your plea: Are Republicans stuck with Craig? [Answer: Yes.]

  • Kudos to Obama: Blocks odious FEC Republican nominee Spakovsky...for now.

  • Conservative "pro-family" activists would rather vote for a third party candidate than they would vote for Rudy Giuliani. I'll believe it when that candidate hands Florida to the Democrats in 2008. IJS. That said, maybe it's time for Rudy to claim he's pro-life now. After all -- 9/11 changed everything!

  • Now that Pete Domenici has announced his retirement, will Bill Richardson quit his run for the White House and try for the Senate instead? His campaign says, no, they're in it to win it and they are "confident" of their chances. Right.

  • Speaking of losers, do you ever get the impression that Fred Thompson is just going through the motions? What ever could he have been thinking? (Answer below.)

  • Sleep-walking his way through Iowa, Thompson tries to out-Reagan the rest of the Republican field by slamming "the Soviet Union." Yes, you heard me. The Hunt For Red October is on again, baby!

  • Speaking of the USSR, today is the 50th anniversary of the launch into space of Sputnik. Did you know that what the Soviets were really trying to do was draw attention to the ICBM that launched the little-satellite-that-could?

  • Speaking of Sputnik, here's an interview with Arthur C. Clark (now nearing 90) wherein he remembers where he was that fateful day when his prediction finally came true.

  • Props to Sergey Korolyov, the genius behind the Soviet space effort. He was called "The Chief Designer" because his identity was deemed a state secret by the Politburo.

  • A new AP-Ipsos poll has Bush's approval ratings at 31 percent, the "lowest level" ever recorded in that poll's history. Not sure if they mean lowest for any president or just lowest for the Bush family.

  • Surprise! People still really, really like Bill Clinton.

And here it is, your moment of Zen:


September 12, 2007

Obama Outlines His Troop Pullout Plan (Updated)

I'll make it brief: There are only 16 months before the next president is sworn in. If that president is a Democrat and if we still have 100 thousand (or more) troops in Iraq by then, this new president's term will be crippled by controversy.

Simply put, s/he will be dogged by accusations that s/he lost the war. Republicans (and some Democrats) will use this impossible situation to accuse the Democrats of being everything from cowards and dilettantes to terrorist appeasers and traitors...and worse. They'll use the issue in the mid-terms of 2010 and the election of 2012 and beyond.

That said, Sen. Obama's sense of timing is pretty good:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is calling for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. combat brigades from Iraq, with the pullout being completed by the end of next year.

"Let me be clear: There is no military solution in Iraq and there never was," Obama said in excerpts of the speech provided to The Associated Press.

"The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq's leaders to resolve their civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year -- now," the Illinois senator says.

I'll be waiting to see what he does next. And that goes for Hillary as well. As for John Edwards, he's out of power and all he can do is talk.

It's Obama who has the stage today.

UPDATED: Well, Sen. Edwards has upped the ante:

Bush is going to talk about his handing off the Iraq war to the next president [Thursday], and John Edwards has bought two minutes of airtime to follow Bush:

Edwards has bought two minutes of air time on MSNBC, scheduled to air after Bush's 15-minute televised speech from the White House at 9 p.m. EDT...

"Unfortunately, the president is pressing on with the only strategy he's ever had -- more time, more troops, and more war," Edwards says in the ad, according to excerpts provided by his campaign.

The ad was taped at Edwards' home in Chapel Hill, N.C., in the style of an Oval Office address, with him sitting at a desk and speaking straight to the camera, with American flag in the background.

..."Tell Congress you know the truth," Edwards says. "They have the power to end this war and you expect them to use it. When the president asks for more money and more time, Congress needs to tell him he only gets one choice -- a firm timeline for withdrawal."

Well played, Senator!

September 10, 2007

Odds & Sods #40: Petraeus Day Edition

September 06, 2007

Open Letter To Barack Obama

Geekesque calls on Sen. Obama to take the lead role in ending the occupation of Iraq:

There was a time for Congress to be the steering wheel of our Iraq policy. Now, someone needs to slam on the brakes.

That person should, by all rights, be you. You alone of any major candidate running in either party had the prescience and honesty to oppose invading Iraq. You understood the disaster that would unfold. This gives you credibility--as well as intellectual and moral authority-- that no one else on the national stage possesses.
Senator, you're either moving forward or you're moving backwards. Relative to other candidates, you're moving backwards on Iraq. How on earth is it even remotely possible that Hillary Clinton, a clinical study in opportunism when it comes to Iraq, is perceived amongst primary voters as essentially indistinguishable from you?

Do the right thing and the smart thing. For your nation, your party, and yourself. Step forward, demand the damn ball, and be prepared to accept the consequences one way or another. The voters will not punish you for speaking out against a tragical farce like our so-called Iraq debate.

Playing it safe will result in Bush winning and Hillary getting the nomination. Playing it safe is the ultimate form of living dangerously.

Sometimes you just have to step out of line.

August 18, 2007

Cheney is a Dildo and Other Quyck Hyts

by Mark Adams

From his lust for Kralizec to his desire to privatize Social Security, Rudy unites left and right, by his stupidity.  Seriously, the guy is absofreakinglutely bat-shit crazy.

Obama figures out
he's just not that good at the 30 second sound-byte debate format -- cuts and runs from attending any more debates than those already scheduled.  I assume that means there will be a hard limit of no more than 47 more until we begin voting -- probably right after Thanksgiving.  Hopefully, there will be lots of arugula.

After watching some TPMtv, spotlighting Mitt Romney's profound ignorance of anything east of Boston Harbor, Raising Kaine concludes "Multiple-Choice Mitt" is a "Giant Foreign Policy Goofball."  News Hounds gets the hypocrisy of Romney's schpeel, but you really need to watch Josh Marshall put it all together to understand how profoundly delusional Romney is. 

Meanwhile, Eleanor Clift has a question for Mitt & Co. that might stop some of the GOP hopefuls in their tracks -- since of course, they'd have to think instead of regurgitating their 30 year-old talking points or trying to remember whether they we talking to an audience that preferred the flip to the flop.

Stop asking Romney and the other Republican front runners about abortion and start asking them where they stand on family planning.
Shorter Elly C.:  "Please stop talking about this wedge issue that is destined to lose the election for us.  Our candidates suck eggs on this."

Fred Thompson, who turns 65 today (thus eligible for all the entitlements he vows to abolish), is the only candidate who needed to have his fat, lazy ass trucked around the Iowa State Fair in a golf cart. 

Actually he looked kinda gaunt.  He'll need to scarf down a few more elephant ears to be the right's answer to Michael Moore. 

She really ought to take it easy on the old guy.  How many little blue pills can one man take?

I noted before that Mike Huckabee was kind spoken towards the Clintons, to the point where he would sound almost gushing if he weren't a Republican.  Rights Field's David Dayen thinks these remarks point to where Huckabee first got the idea that cars and buses were lame, that his super-coolness would be enshrined forever once his Harley cleared the shark tank.

This kid came from a dysfunctional family — alcoholic abusive father. And yet he didn't just aspire, he was elected president of the United States not once, but twice. That is an affirmation of the system. And it's a wonderful testament to give to every kid in America that no matter where you've come from, you've got an opportunity to do something extraordinary.
John Edwards gets ahead of the "gotcha" game and David Sirota approves, he rejects right wing framing of the "war on terra" in the same way that former Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard Meyers approved, connects with ordinary folks and David Brooks approves, talks the talk and walks the walk in a way RFK and MLK would approve, calls Coultergeist a "She-Devil," and I approve.  Atrios insults Instalinker and FU by comparing them to Annie Sunshine -- Digby approves.

Wingnuttystan still says, "Gotcha," cuz that's all they got.  I mean, what are they gonna do?  Buy into McCain trying to be the anti-war candidate?  Puh-Leeze.

More Wingnut News...

Vice President Cheney
is a dildo, what else to you call a dick substitute? (Do not Click if you are under age ... 40.)  Doctor BooMan advises us to use a condom anyway.

Speaking of nuts and other guilty pleasures of the alternate universe ... you know you just gotta click on a link that says Ron Paul teams up with Dennis Kucinich.

July 25, 2007

Reality Based Partisanship

by Mark Adams

Whether you're a moderate triangulator who prefers to be called "progressive" instead of "liberal," a neo-con who claims to "defend the liberal tradition," or just an old fashioned lefty peacenick who's into social justice and still wears the liberal moniker proudly -- like me -- you have to agree that a partisan Democrat calling another Democrat: Joe Lieberman's protege, is a devastating slam.

Jane Hamsher at FireDogLake is one such Proud Partisan:

One of the most pernicious and popular soundbites being exploited these days is the denigration of ‘partisanship.’ When it comes out of the mouths of Republicans who perfected the art of soulless political grandstanding in the 90s, it’s hard enough to take. It’s even tougher to stomach when it comes from George Bush with his thorough devotion to Karl Rove (who needs no better reason to sabotage national security and flagrantly violate the law than the fact that someone is a Democrat). Then there are the useful idiots like Sam Waterston and the Unity ‘08 nuts who really just don’t know what they’re talking about.

But people like Joe Lieberman (and his protege Barack Obama) who consistently indulge this frame ought to know that sometimes the right thing to do is to acknowledge that the other side cannot be bargained with, that no negotiation is possible, that what you’re up against is just wrong and it’s incumbent upon people of conscience to draw a line in the sand and say ‘enough.’ That too is partisanship, and they need to stop decrying it just because it focus groups well with people sick of the GOP and their bully tactics. Partisanship in fact has a glorious history.

To which I offer my own quote from another proud partisan...

But I -- if you listen to these questions, they all have exactly the same thing, which is how do we bring about big change?
And I think that's a fundamental threshold question. And the question is: Do you believe that compromise, triangulation will bring about big change? I don't.
I think the people who are powerful in Washington -- big insurance companies, big drug companies, big oil companies -- they are not going to negotiate. They are not going to give away their power. The only way that they are going to give away their power is if we take it away from them.

–John Edwards, YouTube Debate.

July 24, 2007

Did She Really Say That?

by shep

So Barack Obama says, if president, he’d meet with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.

And in a conference call with reporters set up by the Clinton campaign, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, "I would think that without having done the diplomatic spadework, it would not really prove anything".

Badly coded offer of the Secretary of State job?

[Cross-posted at Dispassionate Liberal]

July 07, 2007

Clinton's Strength Is Also Her Weakness

Bill Clinton's record is Hillary's greatest strength -- and also her greatest weakness. She can rightfully claim his legacy -- and/but she'll always be called upon to defend it as well. The good news is she's very well suited for this fight. The bad news is she'll be fighting it all the time. Al Gore had to deal with it in 2000; but that was nothing compared to what it'll be like this time around if Hillary gets the nomination.

This alone might be the best argument for nominating Barack Obama. But I digress...

The fallout from the Scooter Libby fiasco is a good case study of what we're all in for if Hillary gets the nomination:

Whatever you may think about the merits of the Rich pardon versus the Libby pardon, the debate is one the Bush team wants. The White House would rather have everyone debating the relative merits of the two than debating the inconsistencies in the Libby decision alone...

If Hillary Clinton is elected president, how often will this phenomenon be repeated? With each piece of legislation Hillary Clinton proposes or each assertion she makes, Republicans will offer an analog from the Clinton years. They'd do the same with any Democratic president, of course, but another Democratic president would have an easier time walking away from such attacks.

If you are a faithful Democrat, this should come as no surprise, nor should it angry up your blood because a key part of any Democratic nominee's strategy to defeat the eventual Republican nominee will be to hang George W. Bush around their (the GOP nominee's) neck.

June 30, 2007

Odds & Sods #37: The Jesusphone Edition

  • Supreme Court reverses itself on Gitmo case. Why do I have a creepy feeling they're going to rule for the Bushies this time?

  • No Satisfaction this Year. This year the Rolling Stones will not be performing in...Israel. Insurance costs are sky-high. I guess this means they won't be performing for the troops in Iraq either?

  • Lots of first impressions of the iPhone by new owners. Here's one from TechMeme. Here's a fetishistic photo spread on the actual unboxing of a new iPhone. Here's Xeni's report (calling it the Jesusphone). Here's a guy who tears the iPhone down -- literally.

  • Fred Thompson in New Hampshire: Republicans say his speech there was underwhelming. I'd say "where's the beef," but that would be so 80s. Or so Walter Mondale.

  • Woz spotted in line for an iPhone. When the crowd recognized him, they stepped aside and put him at the front of the line. Awwwww.

  • Prince is releasing his new CD ... in Sunday's edition of London's Daily Mail. The recording industry is pissed. I'm trying to imagine who's still reading a newspaper on any day of the week. Answer: nobody in Prince's audience.

  • When I saw that that iPhones are turning up on eBay, I remembered one important fact: "i" before "e" except after "c" (for "cash").

  • ...and finally, after watching the one laugh-out-loud moment of Thursday's Dem debate, I wondered: is Barack Obama a dutiful husband, homophobic, or just seeing Joe Biden on the down-low? You decide...and don't miss Al Sharpton's scowl -- it'll melt the hair off your arms:

June 22, 2007

“Sweet Mother of God, that is the WORST IDEA EVER.”

Hillary hit it out of the park with the Sopranos spoof.

But Barack Obama Official Campaign Ringtones??

(HT to Rachel Sklar)

June 18, 2007

Odds & Sods #36: The Renegade Edition

June 08, 2007

Required Reading: Fareed Zakaria

zakaria.jpgExcellent, outstanding piece by Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria, on America's future ... after Bush has left office:

At the end of the day, openness is America's greatest strength. Many people on both sides of the political aisle have ideas that they believe will keep America strong in this new world—fences, tariffs, subsidies, investments. But America has succeeded not because of the ingenuity of its government programs. It has thrived because it has kept itself open to the world—to goods and services, ideas and inventions, people and cultures. This openness has allowed us to respond fast and flexibly in new economic times, to manage change and diversity with remarkable ease, and to push forward the boundaries of freedom and autonomy.


We are not really in competition with Chinese and Indian workers making $5 a day. We want Americans to make things that they can't, move up the value chain and work on increasingly sophisticated products and services. We have an educational system that can help make this happen. Of the 20 best universities in the world, 18 are American. And the quality of American higher education extends far and deep, from community colleges to technical institutes.

Perhaps the most hopeful sign for the United States is that alone among industrial nations, we will not have a shortage of productive citizens in the decades ahead. Unlike Germany, Japan and even China, we should have more than enough workers to grow the economy and sustain the elderly population. This is largely thanks to immigration. If America has a core competitive advantage, it is this: every year we take in more immigrants than the rest of the world put together.


Above all, the United States has to find a way to send a powerful and consistent signal to the world that we understand the struggles that it is involved in—for security, peace and a better standard of living. As Barack Obama said in a speech in Chicago, "It's time to ... send a message to all those men and women beyond our shores who long for lives of dignity and security that says, 'You matter to us. Your future is our future'."


It is easy to look at America's place in the world right now and believe that we are in a downward spiral of decline. But this is a snapshot of a tough moment. If the country can keep its cool, admit to its mistakes, cherish and strengthen its successes, it will not only recover but return with renewed strength. There could not have been a worse time for America than the end of the Vietnam War, with helicopters lifting people off the roof of the Saigon embassy, the fallout of Watergate and, in the Soviet Union, a global adversary that took advantage of its weakness. And yet, just 15 years later, the United States was resurgent, the U.S.S.R. was in its death throes and the world was moving in a direction that was distinctly American in flavor. The United States has new challenges, new adversaries and new problems. But unlike so much of the world, it also has solutions—if only it has the courage and wisdom to implement them.

June 04, 2007

Most Telling Moment In Sunday's Democratic Debate

Walter Shapiro:

The question of how tough a Democratic presidential candidate needs to sound to get elected hovered over the debate, as it may over the coming primary races.

Edwards boldly defended his prior comment that the "war on terror" was little more than rhetoric: "This global war on terror bumper sticker -- political slogan ... was intended for ... George Bush to use it to justify everything he does: the ongoing war in Iraq, Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, spying on Americans, torture."

That was too much for Clinton, who, as the first woman to wage a serious candidacy for president, must understand the political risks of seeming weak in any setting.

Responding to Edwards, she said flatly that she disagreed, before adding, "I am a senator from New York. I have lived with the aftermath of 9/11, and I have seen firsthand the terrible damage that can be inflicted on our country by a small band of terrorists who are intent upon foisting their way of life and using suicide bombers and suicidal people to carry out their agenda."

Of course they're both right. But Edwards' response focuses on his differences with Bush whereas Clinton's focuses (as Shapiro says) on her own strength and resolve.

The second most interesting moment was when Edwards and Obama sparred -- but not about Iraq. On that score I think Obama ate Edwards lunch, cooly reminding him that he [Edwards] was "4-1/2 years late on leadership."

No, I think their exchange on health care plans was more telling. Edwards' plan is mandatory (good) -- and Obama's is not (bad). Honestly, I hadn't thought about that until the debate. Of course neither plan is much good compared to Kucinich's -- the Ohio congressman has the best idea: Medicare for all. The only way you fix the system is to make it universal. Not only that -- you have to exclude the insurance companies completely from the equation. Health care should not be subject to profit and share price calculations. So anything shy of that is a cop-out -- and Edwards' plan (and Obama's) fall far short. That said, if either one gets elected, their plans will be subject to congressional influence (to say the least).

Bottom line? These are not really debates but rather candidate interviews. And based on last night, I'd hire Hillary Clinton for the job. Luckily for the other top-tier candidates there's time for them to improve their presentations.

May 25, 2007

Obama: “That's the truth in Iraq.” (Updated)

Sen. Obama:

I know the toll of this war. And what I know is, what our troops deserve is not just rhetoric; they deserve a new plan.

Gov. Romney and Sen. McCain clearly believe that the course that we're on in Iraq is working. I do not.

And if there was ever a reflection of that, it is the fact that Sen. McCain required a flak jacket, ten armored Humvees, two Apache attack helicopters, a hundred soldiers with rifles by his side, so he could stroll through the market in Baghdad just a few weeks ago for a photo-op.

That's the truth in Iraq.

UPDATE: which a McCain aide replied (paraphrasing): "Obama wouldn't know the difference between an RPG and a bong." which Bill Maher replied: "In case you don't know, an RPG is a rocket-propelled grenade and a bong is what McCain uses when he describes how well things are going in Iraq."

May 23, 2007

Maybe It Won't Pass...

by Mark Adams

In a time when our President is identified merely by one initial, "W," and the spine of the congressional Democratic leadership cannot be identified at all, I yearn for the days when 3-initial Democrats, FDR, JFK, even LBJ and the promise of RFK were something quite different than the breed in attendance today.

Democrats with Balls.

I, like so many on the left -- some far left, others only moderately so -- and even those wandering in the middle cannot express their reaction to the "Capitulation Bill" without using the word, "disappointment." Even that word hardly seems to capture the proper emotion.

I've seen weak displays of rhetorical tricks masking the inability to follow one's convictions before; swallowing principles to pursue the practical, pragmatic politics of the day. But what we witnessed yesterday with the cave-in by the Democratic leadership giving Bush yet another blank check for his Iraq war was nothing short of pathetic.

The most egregious example came from Speaker Pelosi herself, indicating that she probably would not vote for a bill she is actively helping to get to the floor. Could there be a more cravenly cowardly stance? Explain how this is not the height of hypocricy.

The oft quoted maxim by Margaret Mead advising us never to underestimate the power of a small group of dedicated people's ability to change the world because that's the only thing that ever has, neglects to consider the sheer stupidity of those people when they've been in elected office too long.

The only thing that gives me some solace is that the candidate I've been supporting for President came out on the right side of this issue, and so many others in the way he urges us to look at our foreign policy and reject the GOP framing.

The only way to beat them is to stand our ground and not give an inch. That's what John Edwards did today.

Today, he went to the heart of America's foreign policy establishment and called out the Bush crowd for their misuse of patriotism. He had the guts to say what all of us know—that the Bush Terror Doctrine has failed our troops and failed America by straining our military to the breaking point and sowing chaos around the world.

John Edwards offered a clear plan to rebuild our forces and cure the damage inflicted on our military by Bush's policies. He offered a vision of an America where moral leadership is once again the rule, and where we are stronger and more secure because of it.

John Edwards' principled stand remains strong and righteous. I've no doubt that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama face a difficult choice -- one far harder than voting for cloture on the Feingold defunding bill when they knew it would likely fail.

Their choice, however, should not be that difficult -- if they really meant they way they voted on Feingold-Reid. We shall indeed see if they will put their money (rather, our money) where their mouths are. So far, their silence is deafening, and as you know, "silence is betrayal."

UPDATE: Chris Dodd is going to vote no on the Capitulation Bill, putting more pressure on Obama and Clinton -- and giving hope to those of us who still hold out hope...and want action.

UPDATE II: Kerry says NO too.

"An Iraq Bill Without a Deadline is Meaningless"

"We support the troops by getting the policy right and this bill allows the President to keep getting the policy wrong. We need a deadline to force Iraqis to stand up for Iraq and bring our heroes home, not watered down benchmarks and blank check waivers for this President. We support the troops by funding the right mission, not with a White House that opposes a pay raise for our brave men and women in uniform," Kerry said. "The original Senate legislation offered a roadmap to change course in Iraq. This new version enables the Administration and Iraqi politicians to deliver more of the same. I am determined to continue pressing this issue until President Bush changes course. We owe our troops nothing less than a strategy that is worthy of their sacrifice."
Call, make some noise. Be heard. Don't let this one go down without a fight.

May 19, 2007

Answer This Quiz Correctly -- Win Valuable Political Junkie Points

Mark, in the comments, pulls up the recent gem from John Zogby:

And [Hillary] has the misfortune of running her history-making campaign against both Jack Kennedy (Obama) and Bobby Kennedy (Edwards).
I loved that! Zogby nailed it.

Here's the quiz:
Who was the last candidate to run against both Jack AND Bobby?

Ten bazillion political junkie points for the first one who knows the answer.

May 04, 2007

No Democrat Started The War

by Mark Adams
Cross-posted. Also in Blue and Orange.

Let me be clear on one thing. Every single Democratic presidential candidate condemns the Bush Administration for its disastrous fiscal, domestic and foreign policies. Every single one knows Bush is a joke when he pretends to be the least bit competent on anything whatsoever. They understand that "compassionate conservativism" is a fraud. They all realize that the next president, who will undoubtedly be a Democratic president, faces a monumental task rehabilitating our nation's reputation in the world and economic and social rifts at home.

Nobody gets a cookie for being the "most" unlike Bush. Everybody will do their best to correct the disastrous course of our ship of state.

All of them.

Continue reading "No Democrat Started The War" »

April 21, 2007

Bill Moyers on Barack Obama

Bill Moyers, who I have a tremendous amount of respect for, is interviewed in the latest issue of Rolling Stone. And I was pleased to read his comments about Sen. Barack Obama:

Who do you see as a key figure in the time ahead?

I wish I were wise enough to answer that question. Who would have thought that an obscure black preacher from Montgomery, Alabama would become Martin Luther King?

I believe that elites have to let go. Hillary Clinton would make a good president, but the same old crowd would come back with her.

But when I look at Barack Obama, I think about John F. Kennedy, who leaped over Hubert Humphrey's generation to bring in fresh voices and fresh ideas. I keep thinking that we need to let that happen again.

People say, "Obama is so inexperienced." No, he's as experienced as Lincoln was when Lincoln went into the White House. Lincoln had two years in Congress and eight years in the state legislature. [And both were from Illinois. And both were tall. Yadda yadda yadda.]

Obama represents a generational metaphor. He opens up new gates so that younger people can feel that there's opportunity for them, that they can come in with him and create new possibilities. That's what's important. I've been around a long time in journalism and politics, and I come down to "Put not your trust in princes, they will disappoint you every time."

OK, a couple of thoughts:
  • I get what Moyers is saying about the elites, but (taken too far) that kind of talk can be tiresome. I like what Bill Maher had to say on the subject:
    In other fields outside of government, "elite" is a good thing, like an "elite" fighting force; Tiger Woods is an "elite" golfer. If I need brain surgery, I'd like an "elite" doctor. But, in politics, "elite" is bad. The "elite" aren't down to earth and accessible like you and me and President Sh*t-for-brains.

    Which is fine, except that whenever there's a Bush Administration scandal, it always traces back to some incompetent political hack appointment

  • When Moyers says "JFK leaped over Humphrey's generation," we have to keep in mind that Humphrey was only 6 years older than Kennedy, half the age difference between Clinton and Obama. Still, his point is valid: Clinton (and Humphrey) are perceived as establishment figures; Obama and Kennedy, not so much.

  • Speaking of comparisons -- Lincoln and Obama? Moyers is hardly the first one to do it. But I'd be careful that we not, ahem, set the bar too high.
Bottom line: Obama does represent himself as the candidate of the generational divide. But more than that, I get the sense that (unlike the others) Obama's best days may yet be in front of him.

April 12, 2007

MoveOn Members Lift Obama Into First Place (Updated)

Here are the full results from MoveOn's Virtual Town Hall vote (remember, this does not imply a MoveOn endorsement):

Sen. Barack Obama 28%
Sen. John Edwards 25%
Rep. Dennis Kucinich 17%
Gov. Bill Richardson 12%
Sen. Hillary Clinton 11%
Sen. Joe Biden 6%
Sen. Chris Dodd 1%

I would have thought John Edwards would be stronger than this. Well like they said, this isn't equivalent to an endorsement from MoveOn.

UPDATE: But wait -- there's more! MoveOn members who watched the Town Hall at one of the parties voted differently from those who did not. Here are how the folks who attended the event ranked their choices:

Sen. John Edwards 25%
Gov. Bill Richardson 21%
Sen. Barack Obama 19%
Rep. Dennis Kucinich 15%
Sen. Joe Biden 10%
Sen. Hillary Clinton 7%
Sen. Chris Dodd 4%

Good news for Edwards, Richardson, Biden and Dodd. Not so good for Obama and Clinton -- the two front runners.

April 09, 2007

The DLC Doesn't Lead

by Mark Adams

They should be renamed, because they are the Democratic Party's leading compromisers and capitulators.

I'd like you to read something, and see if you agree that the official party-within-a-party-line of the Democratic Leadership Council is no better than President Bush when he says his sworn duty is to protect the American people -- when it actually is his sworn duty to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution.

Normally, we would be skeptical of attempts by Congress to write war strategy into law -- as opposed to exercising its Constitutional duties to declare and finance wars.
The United States Congress has not declared war since WWII. Moreover, there is no obligation for Congress to fund a war it's membership no longer supports. These are legislative prerogatives, but certainly not their duty. Besides, this really isn't a war.

However, the DLC throws this framing into their argument to give George Bush exactly what he want's, a "clean" supplemental spending bill. Their "plan" is to (1) cave into Bush on funding after he vetoes the conditional bills, complete with their timetables, then (2) take a look at whether the surge escalation is working, and finally (3) to call for a diplomatic strategy.

(Cross-Posted and KOS-Posted)

Continue reading "The DLC Doesn't Lead" »

April 04, 2007

Obama outraises Clinton in Q1 (in primary cash)

Obama's campaign finally released their numbers:

  • Over 100 thousand donors.
  • Over $25 million raised.
  • Over $23 million can be used for the primary season.
  • Over 50 thousand online donors.
  • Over $6.9 million raised online.
  • Over 60 thousand groups, blogs and members online.

Putting it in perspective:

Obama (D-Ill.) appears to have surpassed Clinton in several ways: He raised $6.9 million through donations over the Internet, more than the $4.2 million than Clinton (N.Y.) raised online. He reported donations from 100,000 people, double the 50,000 people who gave to Clinton.

And of Obama's overall receipts, $23.5 million is eligible for use in the primary contests. Clinton officials have declined to disclose how much of her cash is available for the primaries -- rather than designated for the general election and therefore blocked off unless she wins the nomination -- raising suspicions that she raised less for the primaries than Obama did.

Kos adds more perspective:
[T]he larger small dollar donor base of Obama means he has much more room to grow in the coming quarters. The average donation to Obama was $250, while the average donation to Hillary was $520. Remember, Q1 is the low-hanging fruit. Q2 is a better indicator of which candidates are building a movement, and which ones are merely squeezing cash from their rolodexes.
Now look: there is no statistical correlation between how much money you raise and whether or not you get the nomination. Don't believe me? Just ask President Dean. That said, I'd rather have more (not less) money than my rivals.

P.S. And how does all of this compare to everyone else?

Democrats = $78 million

  • Clinton $26
  • Obama $25
  • Edwards $14
  • Richardson $6
  • Dodd $4
  • Biden $3

Republicans = $51 million

  • Romney $23
  • Giuliani $15
  • McCain $12.5
  • Huckabee $0.5

April 02, 2007

Note to Obama: We're Playing Poker, Not Chicken (Updated)

(Cross posted at Daily Kos)

Obama fumbled the ball, seeming to say that if Bush vetoes the Iraq spending bill, the Senate will respond by passing an alternate bill with no timelines because (as he said) no lawmaker "wants to play chicken with our troops."

I'm disappointed that he didn't instinctively understand that this is poker we're playing and not chicken. In poker, you keep your cards "close to your vest" and put on your "poker face," because if your cards suck, you can still win if you scare the other guy into "folding." So whether or not Congress holds better cards here (I think they do), you never "tip your hand."

That said, I guess is that it'll get buried in the buzz about how much money he raised in the first quarter (the answer: "approximately a lot.")

Also, I'll look for the follow-up from Obama's campaign. Perhaps they'll expand on this comment, from the same piece:

"My expectation is that we will continue to try to ratchet up the pressure on the president to change course," the Democratic presidential candidate said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I don't think that we will see a majority of the Senate vote to cut off funding at this stage."
Ratchet up the pressure? More analogies! Hmmm [racking brain] what activity in real-life includes "ratcheting up the pressure?" Clamping a piece of wood to your workbench? So you can drill a deeper hole? Tell us, sensei!
"If the president vetoes this, the American people have to continue to put pressure on their representatives so that at some point we may be able to get a veto-proof majority for moving this war in a different direction," the senator said.
This is the school of thought that says Bush will own this war until the very end -- and/or until a Democrat (him?) wins the White House. This is smart politics, but lacks a certain passion and empathy for the suffering endured by military families around this country. It's not the kind of statement you'd hear from a Russ Feingold, for example. But, fact is, if Russ Feingold wrote the bill it would get all of about 25 votes in Congress (instead of 270+) -- and a sea of dreadful headlines. This is primarily what infuriates so many progressive bloggers to begin with.

It's also why Senators and Congressmen rarely win the White House. But maybe this time it'll be different. Heaven knows the system is under a lot of stress and tension; anything might happen.

UPDATE: Looks like Feingold wrote the next bill after all (cosponsored by Reid) -- and we're going to have a chance to see how many votes it'll get.

That's how you play poker -- Reid just pushed a pretty big pile of chips into the middle of the table. Now it's up to Bush to see Reid's bet and raise it -- or fold his cards (and sign the original bill).

If I was having more fun, I'd have to be twins!

Hitting At Obama's Strengths

by Mark Adams, Cross-Posted and KOS-Posted

Karl Rove would be proud. Barack Obama's stance on the war was supposedly unassailable, but is now up for debate. Legislatively, ethics reform is his strong suit, yet it too has come under fire. Wishful thinking and good intentions won't change the fact that sometimes failure to address the issues with substantive plans means ... well ... you lack substance.

That's just bad politics.

Continue reading "Hitting At Obama's Strengths" »

March 14, 2007

You Can't Spell Controversy Without R.O.V.E.

by Mark Adams

Shep (who really should start his own blog) points us here:

John Dean: Refocusing the Impeachment Movement on Administration Officials Below the President and Vice-President: "The House Judiciary Committee Should Undertake Appropriate Proceedings

Given the number of officials within the Bush Administration who may have been engaged in Constitutional high crimes or misdemeanors, and the nature of the impeachment process, there is no shortage of civil officers worthy of consideration. Where there is clear prima facie evidence of such constitutional misconduct, impeachment action should be commenced."

Exhibit "A" -- Elliot Abrams, despite his pardon, could have been disqualified from holding office through the impeachment process.

Currently Alberto Gonzales is the focus of much of the left's wrath with a growing chorus calling for his resignation, and some intra-party partisans will point out that many of the current Democratic presidential contenders voted against his nomination, notably Clinton, Obama and Biden. John Edwards came out against the nomination as well even though he wasn't in the Senate at the time.

My question is, (since so much has been made about Edwards' vote for the Iraq war lately, suggesting that he should have done something then and not just speak out now) is why Gonzales wasn't given the same treatment as John Bolton or even a closely fought battle like we saw with Alito?


The President is not the Attorney General's client - the people are. And so the true test of an Attorney General nominee is whether that person is ready to put the Constitution of the people before the political agenda of the President. As such, I cannot approach this nomination the same way I approached that of Secretary of State Rice or VA Secretary Nicholson or any other Cabinet position. The standard is simply higher.
Where was the filibuster threat? If this position was so important, so substantively different than other administration officials, where was the "hold" of the nomination from Joe, Hillary and Barack?

This isn't sour grapes, this is outrage that the man who gave cover to an administration engaged in kidnapping, torture, murder and wholesale spying on you and me was given the job in the first place -- without a fight.

NOW we're suprised, shocked! Shocked that there was some shenanigans going on?

Well, at least they didn't vote for Gonzo.

March 09, 2007

The '08 Money Chase; An (Updated!) Update

The Hotline has the latest buzz on the other public opinion poll -- the one where one dollar equals one vote:

  1. We're fairly certain that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) raised $12 million through the first of March. Banked means banked; pledges don't qualify. If that figure is correct, and we have reason to believe that it is, Obama will probably amass northwards of $18 million this quarter, and we'll bet that he banks a little more than $13 million. Can Obama build a mid-to-small donor base in time to reap its rewards by the end of the 2nd quarter? Unclear.

  2. Expect Sen. Hillary Clinton to transfer $11 million from her Senate campaign account into her presidential account. Informed donor-types believe that she's be able to raise more than $20 million in "new money," giving her a grand total of more than $32 million. One caveat: a not-small percentage of the new money has been shunted to Clinton's general election account and can't be used for the primaries. So expect Clinton to have roughly $16-20M cash on hand when she reports. How much Clinton raises in the second quarter will determine how large her fundraising network really is. Plenty of donors are hedging their bets.

  3. Equivocal signs from Sen. John Edwards's camp. But a $12-15M quarter is reasonable. His second quarter matters more than his first quarter. He probably needs to raise just as much. His fundraising drop-off from Q1 to Q2 in 2003 hurt his campaign more than some of his advisers care to admit.
Note all the caveats about 2007 Q2 -- all of that is being floated by the rival campaigns about each other. So it's clear that most of this is just so much smoke and spin -- not to mention that the quarter doesn't end for another 3+ weeks.

Bottom line: there is no correlation between raising the most money and actually getting the nomination -- wiki Howard Dean. But if I had a choice, I'd want more money, not less.

Update: The Note includes the Republicans and has it like this:

Clinton, Obama, McCain, Edwards, Romney, Giuliani. Or — Clinton, McCain, Obama, Edwards, Giuliani, Romney. Or — Clinton, McCain, Romney, Obama, Edwards, Giuliani. Or — something else, as long as you've got Clinton first.

Our point: It is all about the fundraising, and yet not even Susan Page knows how it's all going to turn out. Our second point: Clinton, McCain, and Romney will have the highest burn rate of spending money this quarter, and their disbursement records are going to be required reading.

Update: From Kos:

There are a couple of things I'll be looking at when these numbers will be reported. First of all, how many donors will each campaign have? A campaign heavy on $2,300 contributions may look good in Q1, but like Edwards learned in 2003, it leaves little for subsequent quarters. A campaign with lots of small dollar donors can continue hitting up those donors and build exponentially in further quarters. I suspect all three of the top-tier candidates -- Clinton, Edwards, and Obama will be heavy on the small dollar donors. Those candidates with the most will be in better shape (and if Obama clears $6 million online for the quarter, those are shockingly high numbers).

March 06, 2007

Obama and “The Joshua Generation”

Here's the video from the first part of Sen. Barack Obama's speech in Selma.

A couple of things that jump out.

  • I like how he divides the civil rights movement into the "Moses Generation" and the "Joshua Generation."
    As great as Moses was, in spite of all that he did, leading a people out of bondage, he didn't cross over the river to see the Promised Land. God told him, "Your job is done. You'll see it. You'll be on the mountaintop and see what I've promised -- to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, what I promised to you, you can see that I will fulfill that promise. But you won't go there. We're going to leave it to the Joshua Generation to make sure it happens. There's still some battles that need to be fought, some rivers that need to be crossed."

    Like Moses, the task was passed on to those who might not have been as deserving, might not have been as courageous, who find themselves in front of the risks that their parents, their grandparents, their great-grandparents had taken. But that doesn't mean that they don't have a burden that they have to shoulder, that they don't have some responsibilities.

    The previous generation, the Moses Generation, pointed the way. They took us 90% of the way there, but we still have that 10% in order to cross over to the other side.

  • The other thing that's memorable about this speech is how he creates a narrative of the civil rights movement that includes his own family's history. I wrote about this in an earlier post and it's worth watching the video to hear the cadence of his voice and the response from the audience. It starts at 10:23 into the video and includes his salutory declaration, "I stand on the shoulders of giants" at 13:06.

    Here's the thing: every serious presidential candidate has a responsibility to paint a picture of him or herself that transcends a dry discussion of the policies he or she would advocate. The candidate needs to invoke certain qualities and emotions that are timeless; they need to paint a picture -- preferably using American icons -- that is instantly recognizable and then they need to place themselves in the foreground of that picture.

    All major candidates need to do this and some are more successful at it than others.

    • Clinton ("Boomer breaks the glass ceiling"),
    • Edwards ("Millworker's son makes good"),
    • Giuliani ("Rising to meet the challenge of 9/11"),
    • McCain (""Character forged by adversity").
    And then there's Obama who, with this speech, does it several ways.
    • He invokes his primary message ("Torch passed to a new generation") while putting it in the context of the Biblical story of the Israelites being freed from bondage ("Joshua Generation").
    • He gets extra points, during wartime, for identifying with a masculine warrior figure -- from the Bible, no less.
    • And lastly, he makes a bold move to consolidate his power amongst the very people that have long formed the base of any candidate that hopes to get the nomination of the Democratic party.
The guy is good at this -- very good.

March 05, 2007

Barack Obama's speech at Selma

Senator Obama speaks at Selma and galvanizes the crowd:

What happened in Selma, Alabama and Birmingham...stirred the conscience of the nation. It worried folks in the White House who said, "You know, we're battling Communism. How are we going to win hearts and minds all across the world, if right here in our own country...we're not observing the ideals set fort in our Constitution? We might be accused of being hypocrites."

So the Kennedys decided we're going to do an airlift. We're going to go to Africa and start bringing young Africans over to this country and give them scholarships to study so they can learn what a wonderful country America is.

This young man named Barack Obama got one of those tickets and came over to this country. He met this woman whose great great-great-great-grandfather had owned slaves; but she had a good idea there was some craziness going on because they looked at each other and they decided that we know that the world as it has been it might not be possible for us to get together and have a child.

There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So they got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born.

So don't tell me I don't have a claim on Selma, Alabama. Don't tell me I'm not coming home to Selma, Alabama. I'm here because somebody marched. I'm here because you all sacrificed for me.

I stand on the shoulders of giants.

From that moment onward, they were eating out of his hand. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that this was probably the tipping point for the Senator from Illinois. Yes, Bill (and Hillary) Clinton are loved by the black community; but after hearing Obama speak, how can you resist him?

P.S. Now many have pointed out that, technically, the Selma march did not have anything to do with Obama being born. He was born in 1961 and the Selma march occured in 1965. But if you watch the video of his speech, you'll see that he paints a picture that puts Selma in the foreground but also frames scenes from the Montgomery bus boycott. Seen in that context, his own family history fits neatly into the narrative -- and captures the imagination.

And what a refreshing and inspirational contrast to the dark, gloomy, and homophobic rants at the Conservative Political Action Conference this past weekend.

February 25, 2007

Crystal Ball Triangulation - Getting To Super Tuesday

by Mark Adams Cross-posted

Ara has the video of a Barack Obama rally with some 15 to 20 thousand very enthusiastic supporters in Austin, Texas. Impressive crowd. What his advance people lack in experience, cash and infrastructure (and he's getting more good people every day) his supporters make up in enthusiasm.

Obamania, Obamanon, catch it. It's a wave, and anyone who worries that he's peaking too soon might be on to something,

Obama's in a weird place and is going to get squeezed from both ends. Hillary and her "vast" network and practically unlimited cash will hammer him from above while Edwards and Richardson (who I think gains most from Vilsack's departure -- as do those closer to the scene) will keep the pressure on from below.

Continue reading "Crystal Ball Triangulation - Getting To Super Tuesday" »

February 24, 2007

Obama Draws 20,000 In Austin, TX

There was a lot of anticipation surrounding Obama's appearance in Texas -- and look what happened:

More than 20,000 supporters filled Auditorium Shores to hear him speak. The crowd shows Obama’s appeal crosses boundaries of age, race and gender. Long lines and rainy weather didn't keep supporters of the Democratic party's fastest rising star away. "He's not just a young persons person, but middle age and older people too,” Dorothy Johson said. Obama is re-energizing voters.
Other reports had the crowd at 15,000 but this stage of the game in 2003, Howard Dean was blowing people away with crowds a fraction of that size. Yes, yes, I know: Dean lost. But if I had my choice of drawing bigger vs. smaller crowds, I'd want to be where Obama is right now.

And it isn't just the crowd size that is impressive. Obama's saying the right things:

Obama, speaking at a massive outdoor rally in Austin, Texas, said British Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision this week to withdraw 1,600 troops is a recognition that Iraq's problems can't be solved militarily.

"Now if Tony Blair can understand that, then why can't George Bush and Dick Cheney understand that?"
"Now, keep in mind, [Cheney] is the same guy that said we'd be greeted as liberators, the same guy that said that we're in the last throes. I'm sure he forecast sun today," Obama said to laughter from supporters holding campaign signs over their heads to keep dry. "When Dick Cheney says it's a good thing, you know that you've probably got some big problems."
Obama told the Austin crowd that they should try to recruit their friends to support his campaign. "I want you to tell them, 'It's time for you to turn off the TV and stop playing GameBoy,'" Obama said. "We've got work to do."
[OK, so he doesn't play a lot of video games.]
Tickets to the rally were free, but Obama asked the attendees to give even $5 or $10. "I don't want to have to raise money in Hollywood all the time," he said.

There are two races right now: the money race and the public opinion race. By April, we'll know how much of a contender Obama is in each one. But for now, he looks like the real thing.

In the meantime, check out the pre-rally video from the campaign:

February 22, 2007

It's time to take on Fox

Somehow, Fox News convinced the Democratic Party to let Fox host a nationally-televised Democratic presidential primary debate this summer in Nevada.

This is a bad, bad, bad idea because, let's face it: Fox isn't a legitimate news channel! It's a right-wing mouthpiece like Rush Limbaugh—dedicated to smearing Democrats. For example, Fox falsely claimed Sen. Barack Obama attended a terrorist school.

There's a growing backlash of people demanding that Democrats drop Fox and you can help make it happen. Here's how:

Sign the petition to the Democratic Party of Nevada.

Don't wait -- do it now before you move to the next blog or open your email. It'll take just a minute and will make a difference.

Tell the Dems in Nevada to wake up and smell the coffee. Sign the petition now. Thanks.

February 13, 2007

Colbert dismantles Debra Dickerson

Debra Dickerson has taken a lot of heat (at least from me) for her controversial article entitled Obama Isn't Black:

"Black," in our political and social reality, means those descended from West African slaves. Voluntary immigrants of African descent (even those descended from West Indian slaves) are just that, voluntary immigrants of African descent with markedly different outlooks on the role of race in their lives and in politics. At a minimum, it can't be assumed that a Nigerian cabdriver and a third-generation Harlemite have more in common than the fact a cop won't bother to make the distinction. They're both "black" as a matter of skin color and DNA, but only the Harlemite, for better or worse, is politically and culturally black, as we use the term.
Given all that, you knew it was going to be good when Colbert had her on The Report.

He set the stage immediately when he plugged her book:

Colbert: Your book is called The End of Blackness and I want to come out right here and say I'm against ending blackness. I believe that everyone has a right to be black. It's a choice and I support that. Now settle something for me. Is Barack Obama black?

Dickerson: No, he's not...(see above).

Colbert: OK, so if he's not black, why doesn't he just run as a white guy? Because we know that black people will vote for white people and white people will vote for white people, but we're not sure that white people will vote for black people....

Dickerson: Well, he's not white either. He is an African African-American....

Colbert: Should we make up a new name for what he is?

Dickerson: Yes, we should.

Colbert: What about nouveau-black?

It spirals quickly into the loony-sphere after that. Watch it. It made my day.

February 12, 2007

PM Howard: Al Qaeda loves Dems & Obama; Obama responds

Everyone knows that al Qaeda favored Bush in 2004 -- you don't need the CIA to tell you that. Think about it: A-Q's brand of religious fundamentalism is faaaaaaaaaar more closely matched to Republican theocracy than it is to the godless, libertine Democrats. The End.

And/But I liked how Barack Obama responded to Aussie PM John Howard's ridiculous comments:

[W]e have close to 140,000 troops in Iraq, and my understanding is Mr Howard has deployed 1400, so if he is … to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq. Otherwise it's just a bunch of empty rhetoric.
In other words, sit down and shut your pie-hole.

February 11, 2007

Barack Obama speech

Barack Obama:

This campaign has to be about reclaiming the meaning of citizenship, restoring our sense of common purpose, and realizing that few obstacles can withstand the power of millions of voices calling for change.

By ourselves, this change will not happen. Divided, we are bound to fail.

But the life of a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer tells us that a different future is possible.

He tells us that there is power in words. He tells us that there is power in conviction. That beneath all the differences of race and region, faith and station, we are one people. He tells us that there is power in hope.

As Lincoln organized the forces arrayed against slavery, he was heard to say: "Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought to battle through."

That is our purpose here today. That's why I'm in this race. Not just to hold an office, but to gather with you to transform a nation. I want to win that next battle - for justice and opportunity. I want to win that next battle - for better schools, and better jobs, and health care for all. I want us to take up the unfinished business of perfecting our union, and building a better America.

And if you will join me in this improbable quest, if you feel destiny calling, and see as I see, a future of endless possibility stretching before us; if you sense, as I sense, that the time is now to shake off our slumber, and slough off our fear, and make good on the debt we owe past and future generations, then I'm ready to take up the cause, and march with you, and work with you. Together, starting today, let us finish the work that needs to be done, and usher in a new birth of freedom on this Earth.

February 09, 2007

Obama To Formally Announce Candidacy (Updated)

Senator Barack Obama (D- IL) will formally announce Saturday that he's running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

As for those who think his resume is a bit thin, the candidate turns that around:

[T]he brevity of his political résumé is his "greatest strength."

His work as a community organizer, civil rights attorney, constitutional law professor and state legislator "provides me with insights into solving problems at the federal level and at the local level and at the neighborhood level," Obama said in an interview with USA TODAY. That experience "is what's needed right now," he said.

Obama, 45, has been in the U.S. Senate for two years and served seven years in the Illinois Senate.

Clinton, Edwards, Richardson -- they're all excellent candidates and I'd be thrilled to see any of them get the nomination. I feel the same thing about Obama -- with one difference: with the other candidates, I get the general feeling that perhaps their best days are behind them. Not so with Obama.

In a related story, Obama has contacted the FEC with a question about campaign finance procedures:

Obama is asking whether he can take money from donors who want him to be president, then give it back later. The Federal Election Commission said Wednesday that it will look into the novel question.
There's something you don't see every day: someone asking to give money back.

Read more about other novel campaign finance ideas.

UPDATE: Obama will be making his announcement in Springfield, Illinois and Jim Rasenberger wonders if Obama will mention the race riot that occured there 100 years ago:

[T]here is a message in the shameful history of the 1908 riot that is every bit as stirring as memories of Lincoln. The riot reminds us, for one thing, that as far as we still have to go in race relations, we have come a very long way. More broadly, it reminds us that even when things seem to be beyond hope, as they do now in Iraq, for instance, and in New Orleans -- and as they did for African-Americans in the early part of the last century -- they do sometimes, in some ways, get better.

If Obama can make Americans believe that, he really may be our next president.

February 05, 2007

For Obama, what does leadership mean?

It's the eternal rallying cry of any political candidate:"Follow me!"

Of course, any and all potential supporters come back with the eternal response: "Why?"

If you're Barack Obama, what you say next could make or break the rest of your political career:

Obama gave a glimpse of how his campaign will look and feel on Friday, when he delivered somber remarks at the Democratic National Committee meeting that left the audience hushed at points.
"There are those who don't believe in talking about hope," Obama told the crowd. "They say, 'Well, we want specifics, we want details, and we want white papers, and we want plans.' We've had a lot of plans, Democrats. What we've had is a shortage of hope. And over the next year, over the next two years, that will be my call to you."
Is this enough to set him apart from his rivals? Clearly, Obama is the candidate of generational change. He's all about moving beyond the politics of the 1960's and the boomer cohort that still nurtures that paradigm. It's his unique offer to the voters and one that would seem to be aimed at those who are the newest among them. Can it work? Are there signs that it might find support?
From Washington, Obama headed to Fairfax for an event that his advisers said illustrated his campaign strategy even more directly: a student rally organized through the online networking site Thousands of students attended the Web-driven event at George Mason University -- evidence, the Obama campaign said, that the popularity of its candidate will spread virally through the electorate rather than as a result of paid television ads or campaign mailings.
Well, I'll say this: at least he didn't set it up on MySpace, which is so over it's ridiculous. Can you see Obama setting up shop on Murdoch's new toy? Not so much.

What else sets him apart?

"Our campaign will never be the most rigid, structured, top-down, corporate-type campaign in this nomination battle," said senior Obama adviser Robert Gibbs. "There are plenty of other people that can do 'politics as usual' far better than we can. But I hope we have a campaign whose support continues to expand even faster than you can put a fence around it."
Sounds familiar -- remember Howard Dean?

Now before you check to see if I've marked the previous sentence with my snark tags, remember this: The Democratic party has come around to where Howard Dean was 4 years ago. Progressive activists have directed the party to a successful 50-state strategy, they dominate the online space for fundraising and community development, and their pugnacious attitude is really pretty infectious. But the downside is that there are no guarantees that lots of Facebook members will translate into lots of primary election (let alone general election) votes:

Matt Bennett, a senior adviser to the Clark campaign in 2004, described the phenomenon as trying to "ride a tiger."

"It's the toughest thing to do in presidential politics, which is to walk the line between maintaining your genuine attractiveness to the grass roots and becoming a credible national candidate, because often those things are in direct conflict," he said. "He is the candidate that is exciting this huge mass of people, and he cannot let them down in a fundamental way. But he has also got to do the blocking and tackling that candidates do."

What exactly are we talking about here? If you're still unsure, just follow the money:
"Given the need to build a fundraising infrastructure and the fact that we do not accept contributions from federal lobbyists and political action committees, raising $8 to $10 million in the first quarter would be great news," spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said.
Well, one thing is for sure -- they seem to understand that they've got to manage expections in a very traditional concrete way because if they don't, God knows Obama's opponents stand ready to do it for him.

Rivals in the Democratic contest contend that he could raise as much as $40 million, potentially raking in $1 million in a single Hollywood fundraiser, and will all but fail an early test of his viability if he comes up with less than former North Carolina senator John Edwards before April. Edwards is expected to raise as much as $15 million in the first quarter, and Clinton is expected to raise as much as $30 million, though both of those campaigns, like Obama's, insist they could take in less.

"By all accounts, Obama is poised for a huge fundraising quarter," said Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson, predicting that Obama will raise $25 million or more. Wolfson played down the notion that Obama's campaign needs time to get up to speed. "You can build an operation fairly quickly if you know what you're doing, and I suspect they know what they're doing," he said.

Translation: "Or not."

And here's the thing: Whether or not Obama raises $8 million or $40 million, can he maintain his appeal with his core supporters? In a way, that's harder to do than just raising the money. Howard Dean did both, whereas John Kerry did not.

"If he tries to run a traditional campaign -- that is run, staffed, managed and operated in a traditional way -- he is playing to his opponents' strengths, both in terms of going head-to-head where they're going to be really strong, but also in terms of undermining a good chunk of his message," said Chris Lehane, a former spokesman for Al Gore who is not currently on the payroll of any presidential campaign.
Now I'd be the last person to buy everything Chris Lehane says, but the point is well-taken.
"I think he is very focused on the fact that he doesn't want to lose his essential self in this process, and if he does -- and if what he projects and delivers is just more of the kind of politics people have become accustomed to -- it would be a disappointment to him, and to them," [David] Axelrod said [Obama's chief media strategist].
"If this campaign is what it should be, this is not going to be the hoisting of an icon. It's going to be the movement of millions of people."
And, if Obama is going to win, that is how he is going to do it -- not from the top down, not with overwhelming firepower from establishment types, not with overwhelming name-recognition, not with decades of political tradition behind him, but because his vision and hope for the future was so compelling.

January 30, 2007

All major Dem candidates are electable -- even in Ohio

McCain and Giuliani? Bring em on:

In general election matchups, the independent Quinnipiac University poll [in Ohio] finds:
  • Sen. Clinton squeaks by Arizona Sen. John McCain 46 - 42 percent;
  • Clinton inches by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani 46 - 43 percent;
  • Clinton tops former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 52 - 31 percent;
  • McCain edges Illinois Sen. Barack Obama 41 - 38 percent;
  • Former Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards edges McCain 44 - 41 percent.
So if you're getting the vapors imagining, say, Hillary getting the nomination, think again.

January 26, 2007

Rasmussen: McCain Losing Ground, Trailing Obama and Edwards

McCain's heart isn't in it -- not in the necessary task of pandering to the Republican base. He's not good at it and they don't trust him.

Furthermore, the McCain Doctrine is dead on arrival -- the majority of Americans don't believe we should be sending more troops to Iraq -- and his close association with Bush is a major turn-off.

All of this is beginning to weaken McCain's support...

John McCain (R) 44%
Barack Obama (D) 47%

John McCain (R) 43%
John Edwards (D) 46%

As soon as Giuliani takes a higher profile in the campaign, you'll probably begin to see the same erosion of support for him as well.

January 25, 2007

Obama takes a punch -- and punches back

I've often wondered if Barack Obama might not have a glass jaw; and technically the smear from the Fox Noise Channel didn't really test him because they threw the punch below the belt. But I think we know now that the Senator can fight back in style:

Continue reading "Obama takes a punch -- and punches back" »

January 24, 2007

Did we just get a glimpse of the 2008 ticket...

...during last night's SOTU speech?


And if so, how'd you feel about it?

January 22, 2007

Dickerson: “Obama isn't black”

Say what?
"Black," in our political and social reality, means those descended from West African slaves. Voluntary immigrants of African descent (even those descended from West Indian slaves) are just that, voluntary immigrants of African descent with markedly different outlooks on the role of race in their lives and in politics. At a minimum, it can't be assumed that a Nigerian cabdriver and a third-generation Harlemite have more in common than the fact a cop won't bother to make the distinction. They're both "black" as a matter of skin color and DNA, but only the Harlemite, for better or worse, is politically and culturally black, as we use the term.

Continue reading "Dickerson: “Obama isn't black”" »

January 19, 2007

They want to know about Obama

Recently, a good friend of mine asked me what I thought of Barack Obama. This is a gentleman (my friend, not Obama) with whom I manned the barricades in the early 70's. But now he's become quite the middle-aged conservative. In any case, he's curious about Obama and asked me what I thought.

What follows is my reply.

You know the campaign will be brutal, almost (dare I say it) savage. I'm already hearing words like "Halfrican." And today I heard that the young Obama attended a Muslim madrassa and learned how to make suicide bomber belts in summer camp in Indonesia. Just goes to show you never can tell.

Seriously, can Obama take a punch? Or does he have a glass jaw? Is he another Bill Clinton or (shudder) another Bill Bradley? Too soon to tell.

In the end it may not matter so much: the Republicans will face a bloody turkey shoot in '08. You liked '06? You'll love the sequel!! If I'm a Congressional Democrat, I'll pass all the non-binding Iraq resolutions I want -- but I'll resist doing anything that gives my party ownership of the war. Instead, I'll hang it around Bush/McCain's neck (Edwards said it best: "McCain Escalation Plan.")

Yeah, the Dems may be luckiest in the choice of their opponent.

  1. McCain? First of all, he may not even be a serious contender a year from now. I have the feeling his heart isn't in the whole "Republican base voter pander" thing. It's almost like he's making a hostage video.

  2. Giuliani? He is SOOOOOO not going to be viable. The base will cough him up like a hairball. And his "leadership" on 9/11 was abysmal -- c'mon you put the NYC Emergency Operations Center in the WTC?? Freaking idiot -- they bombed it once already! What was he thinking? And please, Rudy, tell us who's on your client list. That'll be worth weeks of entertainment. And lastly, two words: "Bernard Kerik." I rest my case.

  3. Mitt Romney? I remember George Romney. I lived in Michigan under George Romney. And Governor...yadda yadda yadda. Also, I'd like to hear him explain that underwear thing that Mormons wear. I'm just saying.

  4. Sam Brownback? Please.

  5. Mike Huckabee? The best of the lot. Hope he gets the nomination.
So there you have it. Of course these are just my opinions. I could be wrong.

But I doubt it.

January 16, 2007

Obama's In

frombarack_play_200.jpgAs many of you know, over the last few months I have been thinking hard about my plans for 2008. Running for the presidency is a profound decision - a decision no one should make on the basis of media hype or personal ambition alone - and so before I committed myself and my family to this race, I wanted to be sure that this was right for us and, more importantly, right for the country.

I certainly didn't expect to find myself in this position a year ago. But as I've spoken to many of you in my travels across the states these past months; as I've read your emails and read your letters; I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics.

So I've spent some time thinking about how I could best advance the cause of change and progress that we so desperately need.

The decisions that have been made in Washington these past six years, and the problems that have been ignored, have put our country in a precarious place. Our economy is changing rapidly, and that means profound changes for working people. Many of you have shared with me your stories about skyrocketing health care bills, the pensions you've lost and your struggles to pay for college for your kids. Our continued dependence on oil has put our security and our very planet at risk. And we're still mired in a tragic and costly war that should have never been waged.

But challenging as they are, it's not the magnitude of our problems that concerns me the most. It's the smallness of our politics. America's faced big problems before. But today, our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, common sense way. Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can't tackle the big problems that demand solutions.

And that's what we have to change first.

We have to change our politics, and come together around our common interests and concerns as Americans.

This won't happen by itself. A change in our politics can only come from you; from people across our country who believe there's a better way and are willing to work for it.

Years ago, as a community organizer in Chicago, I learned that meaningful change always begins at the grassroots, and that engaged citizens working together can accomplish extraordinary things.

So even in the midst of the enormous challenges we face today, I have great faith and hope about the future - because I believe in you.

And that's why I wanted to tell you first that I'll be filing papers today to create a presidential exploratory committee. For the next several weeks, I am going to talk with people from around the country, listening and learning more about the challenges we face as a nation, the opportunities that lie before us, and the role that a presidential campaign might play in bringing our country together. And on February 10th, at the end of these decisions and in my home state of Illinois, I'll share my plans with my friends, neighbors and fellow Americans.

In the meantime, I want to thank all of you for your time, your suggestions, your encouragement and your prayers. And I look forward to continuing our conversation in the weeks and months to come.

U.S. Senator Barack Obama

December 27, 2006

E Pluribus Unum, Baby: Is Obama The One?

(Cross posted at Daily Kos)

Douglas Burns in the [Caroll, Iowa] Daily Times Herald:
[W]hen you listen to Obama, the substance of thinking, the cadence of his reasoning, his unassuming acceptance of people, you hear a Midwesterner.
I would agree that Obama's "groundedness" -- as well as his charisma and poise -- is his strong suit. And as for his lack of experience and/or accomplishments -- it means almost nothing. After all, we elected George W. Bush. The End.

No, we don't necessarily want an accomplished statesman or a practiced executive. And we're skeptical of role models -- we knock people off their pedestals as fast as we can set them up there. Hero-presidents? Not gonna happen -- just ask President Bob Dole. Rather, we want someone who wants to be like us. And who among the likely candidates would that be?

"As the child of a black man and a white woman, someone who was born in the racial melting pot of Hawaii, with a sister who's half Indonesian but who's usually mistaken for Mexican or Puerto Rican, and a brother-in-law and niece of Chinese descent, with some blood relatives who resemble Margaret Thatcher and others who could pass for Bernie Mac, so that family get-togethers over Christmas take on the appearance of a U.N. General Assembly meeting, I've never had the option of restricting my loyalties on the basis of race, or measuring my worth on the basis of tribe," Obama writes in "The Audacity of Hope."
E Pluribus Unum, baby.

But let's dig a bit deeper and ask the more crucial and practical follow-up question: Is Obama the guy who stands a chance at winning the majority of the following states in the general election?

  • Minnesota
  • Wisconsin
  • Iowa (Burns thinks he has a shot)
  • Illinois (he'd better carry his own state)
  • Missouri
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee (the state that rejected Harold Ford)
  • Arkansas
  • Mississippi
  • Louisiana
Fact is, for the last 100 years, the candidate of either party who won at least a plurality of these states (bordering on the Mississippi River) got elected president.

Is Obama the guy who does that in 2008? Remember he (or anyone else) does not have to win all of them. Just more them than his opponent.

Is Obama the one?

And if it isn't Obama, can Hillary do that? Edwards? How about McCain? Giuliani? Romney?

Doug Burns again:

Obama connects with others for the simple reason that he knows himself and is confident in his strengths and comfortable with his flaws.
Is that enough to get him elected?

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