Friday, January 11, 2008


I stay away from press about the newest season of The Wire (the one article I did read was from Newsweek and after just three sentences I learned what happens in the final show), so I'm not sure what people are saying. But after finally watching the first episode last night, I have a guess.

Until now, critics have fawned over the show's dialogue. They write about how beautifully writers David Simon and Ed Burns can realistically talk about the drug trade on the streets, politics, and schools. I love the show and simply assumed that the critics were right; that Simon and Burns had captured the way people talk.

But now I know for sure. With the theme of this year's season centered around journalism at the Baltimore Sun, I was struck by how familiar it all was. I spent two years in newspaper offices -- one big (about the size of the Sun), one small -- and I recognized the scenes from The Wire last night immediately.

The Wire is so different from everything else on television that I find it hard sometimes to pinpoint why it's so special. But last night, for the first time, I fully experienced the talent that Simon and Burns have -- they bring a reality of life that television has never seen before.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Richardson, out

Bill Richardson will apparently announce today that he's done running. A few hours before the news came, Jason Zengerle called it Richardson's "Golden Opportunity," and suggested that Richardson's departure right now could help Clinton in Nevada and therefore help his chances of being the VP. It's an interesting theory and should be given a second look now that he has taken Zengerle's advice.

But Richardson's departure didn't have me thinking of conspiracy theories, but about how strong this group of Democrats was. In the last week, Dodd, Biden and Richardson all dropped out. I'm not the first to say this, but it's worth taking another moment to recognize that without Clinton, Obama and Edwards, the Democratic field would still be an incredible group of politicians. In fact, Clinton, Obama and Edwards are great politicians. Dodd, Biden and Richardson are great civil servants. The race was helped by their presence, and I assume that no matter who wins this thing, all three of them will have a seat at the table.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Election Central pointed out that on MSNBC today, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who is a national co-chair for Obama's campaign, suggested Clinton's "tears" the other day may not have been genuine. He came to this by noting that she had not cried during Katrina. To make it even more disgusting, he through in some sexism by saying that she was crying about the way she looked. This is what he said:

We saw something very clever in the last week of this campaign coming out of Iowa, going into New Hampshire, we saw a sensitivity factor. Something that Mrs. Clinton has not been able to do with voters that she tried in New Hampshire.

Not in response to voters -- not in response to Katrina, not in response to other issues that have devastated the American people, the war in Iraq, we saw tears in response to her appearance. So her appearance brought her to tears, but not hurricane Katrina.

The video is here:

I would be fuming if one of the talking heads said this, but to hear a member of a campaign say this -- especially a campaign that claims it rises above such bickering -- is appalling to me.

Obama's speech last night was wonderful. He was respectful, and he sounded like his campaign would forget about New Hampshire and move on. Instead, one of his top campaign chiefs goes on TV and acts like an 8-year-old. This is not the "politics of hope."

It's about time

It wasn't until this morning that I was reminded that last night solidified the long-held assumption that the Democratic nominee, and probably the favorite to be the next president, will be either a woman or a black man. This is a two-person race, and the two people just happen to be people who would never have been considered a generation ago.

But I think what's even more amazing is that it took me a while to realize this. It's not shocking to me. It doesn't seem surprising that a woman or black man could be president. Why not? My generation wasn't around for Martin Luther King and SNCC; Gloria Steinem and burning bras. Sure this is a moment that the country should pause and recognize, but it's also worth noting that many of us have been ready for a long time. (Photo courtesy of Time)

Take that, pundits, pollsters

There was a great moment last night a few minutes after Obama's speech, just before Clinton's, when Chris Matthews talked with Tom Brokaw about how wrong they all were. Brokaw agreed that everyone all day was wrong. The pollsters were wrong, the pundits were wrong, and the system got a jolt.

Matthews sounded like he was rethinking the way he does his job (he just sounded that way, he wasn't actually rethinking). Brokaw said media figures should rethink the way they rely on polls. Matthews responded with something like, "Well, then what will we do all day?"

I don't think he was joking. Matthews and all the pundits who sit around and predict as though they know something, got a shot to the gut last night. They'll go back to doing what they always do this morning, but for one night, it was fun to watch them squirm. (Photo courtesy of The New York Times)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


If I were to talk amongst friends and jokingly imitate Rudy Giuliani, and, say, his response to Clinton's "tears" yesterday, I would exaggerate a lisp as best as I could and say something like this:

This is not something I would judge anybody on one way or the other. And the reality is, if you look at me -- Sept. 11, the funerals, the memorial services, there were times in which it was just impossible not to feel ... the emotion.

As Think Progress noted, I would have been spot on.


The talk of a high turnout is a reality. Reports from New Hampshire say the Secretary of State's office is scurrying to send out more ballots because some places have run out. This can't be good news for Clinton. Do we have a blow out in the making?

Kicking and screaming

Bill Clinton is pissed, and now he's pointing fingers. At a rally yesterday, Clinton answered a question about the flaws in Mark Penn's strategy, by blaming the media for it's fawning coverage of Obama. According to the New York Sun, Clinton said (video is here):

"It is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years, and never got asked one time--not once, 'Well, how could you say that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war. And you took that speech you're now running on off your Web site in 2004. And there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since.'" Mr. Clinton said at a town-hall style meeting Monday afternoon at Dartmouth College. "Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."

Clinton went on to say that the Obama campaign is not as positive as it says it is:

"What did you think about the Obama thing calling Hillary the senator from Punjab? Did you like that? Or what about the Obama handout that was covered up, the press never reported on, implying that I was a crook. Scouring me—scathing criticism over my financial reports. Ken Starr spent $70 million to find out that I wouldn't take a nickel to see the cow jump over the moon."

Of course Clinton has some valid arguments. He's correct in saying that Obama hasn't been asked about his 2004 quote, which the Clinton campaign has repeatedly cited. And he's right in noting that the Obama campaign hasn't always risen above the politics it criticizes. But his rant is desperate. He and his wife are losing for the first time in their lives and they don't know what to do.

Update: I can't find it on the NY Times site, but the HuffingtonPost reports that Obama has responded to Clinton's comments in a report by the Times's Jeff Zeleny. Here was Obama's response:

"I understand they're frustrated right now. I suspect that they'll both try to get back on track in terms of the strategy for them to do better than they feel they're doing right now."

As for Mr. Clinton's pounding away at Mr. Obama's war stances over the years, Mr. Obama said: "But I think Tim Russert answered Bill Clinton this morning. Every point that he raised was a question that had been answered _ had been asked and answered, not only on "Meet the Press" but repeatedly.

It is a little frustrating for the president to _ the former president _ to continually repeat this notion that somehow I didn't know where I stood in 2004 about the war. He keeps on giving half the quote. I was always against the war. The quote he keeps on feeding back was an interview on Meet the Press at the National Convention when Tim was asking, `Given your firm opposition to the war, what do you make of the fact that your nominee for president and vice president didn't have that same foresight.' And obviously I didn't want to criticize them on the eve of their nomination. So I said, `Well, I don't know what _ you know, I wasn't in the Senate. I can't say for certain what I would have done if I was there. I know that from where I stood the case was not made.' He always leaves that out.

"And you know, I understand why he's frustrated. But at some point since we've corrected him repeatedly on this and he keeps on repeating it, you know it tells me that he's just more interested in trying to muddy the waters than actually talk fairly about my record."


A heckler at a Clinton rally started shouting "Iron my shirt," while holding a sign said the same.

Certainly this isn't the first instance of sexism that she has come across on the campaign trail, but I can't recall other examples that drew any attention. And for that matter, I haven't heard of Obama experiencing racism, though I'm sure he has. I'm not sure what this says. Maybe the media is ignoring it. I find that unlikely. Maybe security is good enough, and those people aren't getting into rallies. Maybe it's just not happening that much. Maybe this country has turned a corner.

I tend to think people like this dude are out there, and that we would be much more aware of them in a general election. But I found it comforting that we're 10 months into this race, and this was the first example I could think of.

It's also interesting that "Iron my shirt" came on the same day that Clinton cried, unfortunately opening herself up more to this kind of foolishness.

Obama's ahead in NH

So goes Dixville Notch, so goes the country.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Re: Then and now

It's not just Iowa and New Hampshire. Rasmussen just came out with a new poll in South Carolina, the first major poll to come out there since Iowa. And it shows the same phenomenon that the polls earlier today showed about New Hampshire. In December, Obama and Clinton were tied at 33. Today, Obama leads, 42-30, with Edwards at 14.


Over at Horse's Mouth, Sargent reported that in his first New York Times column, Bill Kristol falsely attributed a quote to Michelle Malkin. The quote, according to Sargent, was actually from Michael Medved. In fact, Sargent pointed out that Malkin herself has reported on Kristol's inaccuracy.

Many people on the left, including me, have gone crazy over the idea of allowing a neocon like Kristol into the pages of the Times. For those who don't know how awful Kristol can be, check out his comments in his column about Obama's win in Iowa:

We don’t want to increase the scope of the nanny state, we don’t want to undo the good done by the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, and we really don’t want to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory in Iraq.

But before everyone pulls their hair out, it's worth reading Jack Shafer's piece about Kristol's hiring. I'm still mad, but Shafer calmed me down a bit.

Then and now

Amazing what one night will do. A slew of polls came out today, and Obama's well ahead in all of them. CNN had the two tied at 33 two days ago; today Obama's up 10. Zogby had Clinton up 1 two days ago; today Obama's up 10.

I don't really know how to explain this. Are voters all of a sudden convinced that he might actually be able to win? Were they moved by his victory speech? Are they just lemmings?

Nobody who knows politics has seemed too surprised by Obama's jump since Thursday, but I haven't figured out exactly how to explain it.


My goodness, what a game. Not sure we deserved it, but I'll take it. How bout Wayne dropping 36? My man! (Photo thanks to the News & Observer)

Oh, and I was reminded that I don't care how many Pac-10 teams are in the top-25, the ACC is and always has been the best basketball conference in America.


I didn't get to watch the debate Saturday, but the Times reported that Clinton responded to a question about her likability this way:

"In 2000, we unfortunately ended up with a president who people said they wanted to have a beer with, who said he wanted to be a uniter not a divider — who said that he had his intuition and, you know, really come into the White House and transform the country,” Mrs. Clinton said. “And you know, at least I think there are the majority of Americans who think that was not the right choice."

She just said the same thing, almost word for word to Matt Lauer.

Clinton has an argument to make about experience and is correct that voters should consider her knowledge of what it's like to be in the White House. That makes sense.

What doesn't make sense is for her to compare the excitement surrounding Obama in 2008 to any interest in Dubya in 2000. This is a desperate tactic. Obama is nothing like Bush. True, he is not very experienced, but I haven't heard one person ever make the argument that Obama would be likely to make the same mistakes as Bush.

One more thing, and I know this is going to sound like Obama's argument, but as he frequently, and correctly points out, Bill Clinton in 1992, had about as much experience as Dubya in 2000.

Reports say that Clinton's campaign is panicking. That may be an overstatement, but making comparisons between Obama in 2008 and Bush in 2000 certainly sound like panic.