Friday, January 18, 2008

It's about time somebody stood up

An anonymous commenter pointed out a great video in response to my earlier post about Mr. 9/11. I didn't want it to get lost in the comments.

How's the 9/11 slash "don't campaign" strategy working? Giuliani's in fourth place nationally now.

Reagan politics

This is getting absurd. As you may have read, Obama, during an interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal said that "Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not." He also said, "I think it's fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time over the last 10 or 15 years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom."

Edwards jumped on the comments yesterday, and now Clinton has given her two cents.

Edwards used Obama's remarks to point out that Reagan "openly did extraordinary damage to the middle class and working people." Fine. He can make that point. It fits in line with his campaign and it's fair.

But this is what Clinton said: "I have to say, you know, my leading opponent the other day said that he thought the Republicans had better ideas than Democrats the last ten to fifteen years. That's not the way I remember the last ten to fifteen years."

I've read Obama's comments several times and I don't see how Clinton can possible argue that he was saying "Republicans had better ideas than Democrats." He said that "Republicans were the party of ideas ... in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom." The difference is huge.

I don't have a strong feeling about Obama's comments. They probably weren't the smartest things to say in the middle of the primary season, but they certainly didn't turn me off. Had he said what Clinton said he said, however, I would think he was better suited for the Republican Party. It's an unfortunate distortion on her part.

Mr. 9-11

Don't ever forget. I'm running for president because of one day. But it was a really important day. And I was really awesome then. Remember?

I'm September 11th and I approve this message.

Equal outrage?

Huckabee's comments are apparently drawing mainstream attention. CNN is reporting that he is "tak[ing] heat" for his remarks in the Beliefnet interview that I posted earlier. The outrage so far seems to be coming from the left. CNN quoted a spokesperson from the Human Rights campaign. That is all well and good, but wouldn't it be refreshing to see him criticized from the right? I don't agree with those against gay marriage, but I understand their point. Everyone, though, Republicans and Democrats, should be able to come together to denounce comments that compare homosexuality to bestiality. I wouldn't expect one of the candidates, immersed in South Carolina, conservative politics to say anything, but hopefully someone else will explain that these kinds of comments are unacceptable in any state.

Michel Gondry

There's not much out there today that comes close to the absurdity of Huckabee's comments, so kick back and enjoy a Michel Gondry video. Be sure to watch all the way through.

By the time you figure this out, I'll have something to say about something else.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Men and animals

Greg Sargent reported today that during an interview with Beliefnet, Mike Huckabee was asked about his comments that the Constitution should be amended to meet "God's standards." The questioner noted that many would find that to be a "dangerous undertaking." Here was Huckabee's response:

Well, I don’t think that’s a radical view to say we’re going to affirm marriage. I think the radical view is to say that we’re going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal. Again, once we change the definition, the door is open to change it again. I think the radical position is to make a change in what’s been historic.

As Sargent correctly noted, Huckabee was clearly equating gay marriage with bestiality. This is Rick Santorum territory. I have a feeling this won't get any traction, but these are the kinds of things that could, and better, get attention should Huckabee make it to the general election.

Leahy for Obama

Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committe, endorsed Obama this morning. Had he endorsed Clinton, it probably wouldn't mean much, but the fact that a guy who has been in the Senate since 1974 chose Obama seems to put a dent in Clinton's message that her experience is the most important thing. According to Ben Smith, during the conference call announcing the endorsement, Leahy said, "We need a president who can reintroduce America to the world – and actually reintroduce America to ourselves." He also apparently compared Obama to RFK.

I made Leahy sound older than he is. He likened Obama to RFK, not JFK. I've changed the post.

Civil war

MSNBC hosts are digging themselves a deep hole this morning while discussing the Republican primaries. I didn't see it, but Chris Matthews was on The Tonight Show last night, where he attempted to clarify remarks he made about Hillary Clinton. Those comments got Matthews in trouble with Media Matters.

But during his appearance, Matthews went off on the Republicans, saying it's like the situation in Iraq. He said Huckabee is like a Sunni, McCain and Giuliani are Shiites and Romney is like a Kurd. Forgive Matthews, he can't help himself.

Well this morning, Joe Scarborough and David Shuster were discussing Matthews' unfortunate analogy when Shuster suggested that Ron Paul is the al Qaeda in the race.

Moments like this are why 24-hour news stations are a bad idea. I have a feeling this one will be on youtube before too long.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Over at The War Room, Time Grieve highlighted a Washington Post headline from this morning that said, "44 Percent Vote Against Clinton." The article was about Clinton's meaningless win in Michigan yesterday (meaningless because no delegates were rewarded and Obama, et al were not on the ballot) where 44 percent voted for "uncommitted."

It is an absurd way to refer to her victory. It reminded me of Chris Matthews's comments before the Iowa caucus, when he said "if you look at the numbers as they're shaping up, it looks to me like even if Hillary Clinton does manage to squeak it tonight -- I don't think she will -- she's been rejected here in Iowa by two-thirds of the Democratic Party."

To recap, Clinton lost 61 percent of the vote in New Hampshire. Bill Clinton lost 67 percent of the vote in 1992. And I'm guessing that with this logic, W. won 48 percent of the vote in 2000. Got it.

How's that strategy looking, Rudy?

Maybe lost in the hair gel celebration/McCain defeat news was Giuliani's pathetic showing. He told Fox's Wendel Goler that he isn't "nervous," but Mr. 9/11 can't even beat Ron Paul.

Giuliani insists his strategy will pay off. He is waiting for Florida, then he will pounce. But just think of all the press and, dare I say it, momentum he is losing to everyone else, including Ron Paul.

This reminds me of Maverick's strategy in Top Gun. "We're gonna hit the breaks, and he'll fly right by." (For some reason that scene doesn't seem to be on Youtube.) But I'm curious if anyone outside the Giuliani campaign -- not named Maverick -- thinks this strategy can work. Thoughts?

A thought on the debate

I did get to watch a few moments before switching to Comedy Central. Of what I saw, there was one moment that stood out. Obama has spoken of his ability to bring people together and bring change to Washington. Clinton agrees that we need change, but she says we need it from someone who has experience; someone who knows how to manage. The clear implication is that Obama is not such a person (she may be the person only by default, but that's another conversation).

In NH on January 5, in a moment that many pundits cited as her pivot point, Clinton laughed off Obama's "you're likable enough" line (a line he said he "absolutely regret[ted]" last night), and said this:

You know, I think this is one of the most serious decisions that the voters of New Hampshire have ever had to make. And I really believe that the most important question is, who is ready to be president on day one?

You know, the problems waiting -- some of which we have talked about already -- are huge, and the stakes could not be higher.

And you know, 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 he was going to, you know, really come into the White House and transform the country. And you know, at least I think there are the majority of Americans who think that was not the right choice.

So I am offering 35 years of experience making change and the results to show for it. I, you know, respect and like both Senator Edwards and Senator Obama. But I think if you want to know what change each of us will bring about, look at what we've done. And there are a lot of differences that I think need to be aired for the voters of New Hampshire because I stand on my record of experience, and I appreciate Governor Richardson's long history of serving our country. But I think I am an agent of change. I embody change. I think having the first woman president is a huge change -- (applause) -- with consequences across our country and the world. And that on the specific issues that I have worked on for a lifetime and the plans I have put forth, I believe I am more prepared and ready to actually deliver change, and I think that ultimately is what Americans want to know and believe.

Last night, she made a similar comment after Tim Russert asked each candidate to discuss their greatest strength and weakness. This is what she said:

But I think that, you know, there is a difference here. I do think that being president is the chief executive officer. I respect what Barack said about setting the vision, setting the tone, bringing people together. But I think you have to be able to manage and run the bureaucracy.

You’ve got to pick good people, certainly, but you have to hold them accountable every single day.

We’ve seen the results of a president who, frankly, failed at that. You know, he went in to office saying he was going to have the kind of Harvard Business School CEO model where he’d set the tone, he’d set the goals and then everybody else would have to implement it.

And we saw the failures. We saw the failures along the Gulf Coast with, you know, people who were totally incompetent and insensitive failing to help our fellow Americans. We’ve seen the failures with holding the administration accountable with the no-bid contracts and the cronyism.

So I do think you have to do both. It’s a really hard job, and in America we put the head of state and the head of government together in one person.

But I think you’ve got to set the tone, you’ve got to set the vision, you’ve got to set the goals, you’ve got to bring the country together.

And then you do have to manage and operate and hold that bureaucracy accountable to get the results you’re trying to achieve.

In both cases, she's drawing a pretty clear line connecting Bush in 2000 to Obama in 2008; "compassionate conservatism" to "hope." Clearly something worked in NH and maybe this type of argument had an effect. Maybe people thought twice about voting for Obama after remembering the mistake of Bush.

But I don't buy it. Clinton has a legitimate argument to make about Obama's lack of experience; she's right to point out that he has nothing on his resume that seems to give him the necessary management skills. But doesn't she undermine her point by comparing him to Bush? Would anyone really agree with this? My guess, and I have no evidence to prove this, is that the comparison infuriates and energizes Obama supporters. And I would imagine that many of the undecideds she is trying to persuade are turned off by this as well.
(Photo: Reuters)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Demetri Martin

I was watching the debate, but I got bored. I found this instead:

Three in three

NBC News is reporting that hair gel won Michigan. That makes three different winners in three states. Some will say, "This is exciting! It's wide open!" That's true. But the other way to look at it is that the Republican Party is screwed up (I haven't yet decided if I want to swear in my blog, and this was my first temptation). They have no idea what they want.

As one citizen who thinks that each of the Republican victors (and I include you two, Giuliani, even though you haven't won anything) would keep this country down the dangerous road that Bush has led us, I'm enjoying watching the party get sliced and diced like this. We'll see if this trickles into Washington, but out in the rest of the country, the Grand Old Party is in shambles.

"God's standards"

This one speaks for itself:

"'I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution,' Huckabee told a Michigan audience on Monday. 'But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view.'"


I'm as sick of the word as anyone, but a new ABC News/Washington Post poll out today show's that 32 percent of the country approves of the job Bush is doing, compared to 66 percent who don't. Oh, and 77 percent think the country is headed in the wrong direction. The article accompanying the poll points out that "Bush is just two months away from Truman's record of 38 months without majority approval."

All of which bring us back to "change." It's not just Clinton, Obama and Edwards saying it. Hair gel Romney invokes the word constantly, and Huckabee's campaign is based on a populist message that we are not used to hearing from a Republican.

When following the presidential horse race, it's easy to forget that we currently have a president. It's comforting for two thirds of the country to think about what lies ahead and not what we have to cope with for another year.

But it should be at the front of every conversation about politics right now -- whoever is elected will take over from the worst, and most disliked administration in our country's history.

Too good looking?

CNN spent money and air time on a serious issue today. Reporter Jeanne Moos looked deep into Mitt Romney's hair gel and asked if the reason he is losing is because of his dashing good looks. I thought voters were turned off by his flip flopping on issues, and his disingenuous rich boy attitude. But I guess I hadn't considered how freaking beautiful he is, and that voters might just be jealous. Maybe next week the best political team in television will find out if gray hair is the reason for McCain's recent success.


On the eve of the Michigan Republican primary, The Politico had this to report:

A well-publicized weekend photo-op for
Mitt Romney turns out to have been missing a piece of information that might have undermined its credibility: the unemployed single mom at the center of the event was the mother of a Romney staffer.

Local and national media outlets, including, reported that Romney was the picture of empathy as he sat at the Marshall, Mich. kitchen table of 51-year-old Elizabeth Sachs, a single mother of two who lost her job as a retail manager – as well as her health insurance – and is running out of money as she tries to sell her house to move to Florida.

What wasn’t reported – and what the Romney campaign did not reveal at the time – was that one of Sachs’ sons, Steve Sachs, is a paid employee of Romney’s campaign, organizing five counties in Michigan.

(Photo: AP)

Monday, January 14, 2008

America's newspaper

This afternoon, word broke that the Washington Times has finally found a replacement for Wesley Pruden, its longtime executive editor. For years, it had been assumed that managing editor Fran Coombs would replace Pruden.

But instead of choosing the man who oversaw the publication of articles that fawned over positions held by white supremacists, the Times reached out to John Solomon, the investigative reporter whose sloppy and poorly researched articles at the Associated Press and more recently the Washington Post, have fueled right wing attacks. Shortly after news of Solomon's hiring reached the blogosphere, Coombs announced he was leaving the paper.

There is plenty to be said about Pruden's long history (here's a primer), and the paper in general (and another), but for now it is worth a look at the new boss. But here's a bit from Media Matters for America to introduce everyone to John Solomon:

As Media Matters previously noted, Solomon has baselessly linked current Democratic fundraising efforts to the scandal surrounding former Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, has baselessly suggested former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) was engaged in a shady land deal, and has written seriously flawed articles suggesting unethical behavior by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.

Furthermore, as Media Matters documented, Solomon's vague and misleading reporting has a history of fueling right-wing attacks, and, following this trend, Solomon and Mosk's reporting on the Clintons' foundation was quickly used by conservatives to misleadingly portray the Clintons as corrupt.

You heard?

Buried at the bottom of a Las Vegas Sun article today is the tidbit that Obama's favorite character on The Wire is Omar, the uzi-carrying thug who steals from drug dealers. Jason Zengerle over at The Plank said Obama's pick was the obvious choice. He may be right -- it's easy to pick the guy who takes matters into his own hands and fixes the city's problems that the city won't fix. But as Michelle Cottle correctly pointed out in response to Zengerle, Omar's a pretty dope character.

Also, lost in this discussion is the really cool fact that Obama watches The Wire. Seriously, that dude knows what's up.

"Everybody gets it wrong at the beginning of a war"

Dirty politics

In what shouldn't be much of a surprise, the Clinton campaign has returned to what it does best -- dirty politics. The latest came from BET president Bob Johnson:

Johnson later said he was referring "to Barack Obama's time spent as a community organizer." This is a ridiculous comment that no one could possibly believe. But it's even more ridiculous when you consider previous comments that have come from the Clinton campaign.

Johnson's comments, which were an obvious reference to Obama's admitted drug use, follow a pattern. Let's not forget Clinton campaign strategist Mark Penn's claim that "the issue related to cocaine use is not something that the campaign was in any way raising." Or Sen. Bob Kerrey's comments shortly after endorsing Clinton: "It's probably not something that appeals to him, but I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama, and that his father was a Muslim and that his paternal grandmother is a Muslim. There's a billion people on the planet that are Muslims, and I think that experience is a big deal."

But the latest comment from the campaign came after Clinton's tears; they came after New Hampshire helped her find her voice. This is the same old, same old. No corner has been turned. This is Clinton politics as usual.