Saturday, February 2, 2008
Greg Sargent highlighted this video of Obama giving a press conference in which he discussed the impact he would have as an ambassador to Muslim countries. In the clip, Obama said, "I think the world would see me as a different kind of president; someone who could see the world through their eyes."
This is an issue that hasn't received as much attention as it should. I think he's exactly right. I think this is a strong argument for why he would make a good president. I think he would be able to talk to the Muslim world in a way that none of the Republicans could, and Clinton probably couldn't either.
The problem, though, is the politics of it. I don't know how Obama sells this point while simultaneously fighting off the smears that he's a Muslim. It's a shame that he has to walk on eggshells about an issue that should make him appealing to American voters. Instead, though, I fear that by bringing up what should be a strength for him, he is also reminding people of why they would be scared of an Obama presidency.
(Sorry for referencing that awful Albert Brooks movie. I couldn't think of anything else.)
The media is abuzz with disappointment about the civil debate. (Immediately following the event, it was funny to watch CNN's Anderson Cooper and Candy Crowley try to analyze it. He asked what the biggest moment was, and who won. Neither of them could really answer. It was quite amusing, actually.)
It was civil because for the first time in a month, or so, they weren't just playing politics. They talked about the issues and we all were reminded that they agree pretty much on everything. Their differences on health care aren't huge. He gets to hammer her for on Iraq (and rightfully so) but everyone knows that by now.
The difference is not in policy; it's in philosophy. That's what this debate was about. That's what the choice is for voters. People will argue that someone who doesn't mandate health care for everyone doesn't understand what it will take to fix the system. Or they will say that anyone who trusted Bush and voted for Iraq clearly doesn't have the necessary vision to lead us in this dangerous time.
But I think the debate reemphasized that the choice isn't about health care or Iraq. It's about bringing in a new voice, and trying something different, and bringing in a new manager who knows what Washington looks like from Pennsylvania Avenue. That's the real choice, and I love it.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Thursday, January 31, 2008
The conclusion, as I see it, is that Clinton is looking good, but Obama is catching up. That kind of sums up the whole race, doesn't it? Enjoy all the numbers, and let me know if anyone else can make more sense of this whole thing.
I didn't watch the debate last night, and I haven't followed the McCain-Romney spat too closely, but from what I've been reading this morning, McCain has been involved in some seriously crooked talk regarding Romney's position in 2007 on Iraq.
First, some background. McCain started this whole thing last week when he accused Romney of advocating dreaded "timetables" and "milestones" for U.S. troops. He said this is the same thing that the Democrats want. (That's a dumb point to me since that's also what the majority of the country wants, but so be it.) This being a Republican primary, Romney became furious saying he had never advocated for a timetable for withdrawal, and was offended by the comparison. He demanded an apology.
Romney is correct. The quote McCain has been highlighting shows that Romney wanted "timetables" and "milestones" for the Iraqi government, not for the U.S. military. He wasn't advocating withdrawal, he was advocating management of a government. You can read more about all this here.
This all went down last week. But last night, McCain did it again. From the debate:
McCAIN: Then in April, April was a very interesting year (sic) in 2007. That's when Harry Reid said the war is lost and we've got to get out. And the buzzword was "timetables, timetables."
Governor, the right answer to that question was "no," not what you said, and that was we don't want to have them lay in the weeds until we leave and Maliki and the president should enter into some kind of agreement for, quote, "timetables."
"Timetables" was the buzzword for the...
ROMNEY: Why don't you use the whole quote, Senator?
McCAIN: ... withdrawal. That...
ROMNEY: Why don't you use the whole quote? Why do you insist on...
McCAIN: I'm using the whole quote, where you said "I won't"...
ROMNEY: ... not using the actual quote? That's not what I said.
MCCAIN: The actual quote is, "We don't want them to lay in the weeds until we leave." That is the actual quote and I'm sure...
ROMNEY: What does that mean?
McCAIN: ... fact-checkers --
ROMNEY: What is the meaning?
McCAIN: It means a timetable until we leave.It's a lie. That's not what Romney meant. Joe Klein has a great take down of this over at Swampland and correctly compares this kind of twisting of words to the whole Clinton-Obama-Reagan nonsense. The difference is that that was exposed. The media should pause its love affair with McCain long enough to tell the public that he is lying. (Photo: New York Times)
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Word this morning is that John Edwards is done. The conversation will quickly center around who this benefits more, but I think it's worth taking a moment to reflect on what his candidacy has meant to the party and the race.
First of all, his announcement will come from the same place he announced his candidacy -- New Orleans. He is down there to work on a Habitat for Humanity project. His campaign, which the media defined around hair, hedge funds and houses, will leave with the message that ending poverty is important, even if it is not a useful campaign slogan.
Those who focus on the alleged "hypocrisy" have missed the point. And those who urged him to step aside and clear the way for one of the other two, don't get what Edwards has been trying to do. I've written about this before, but it's worth repeating. Edwards made this campaign better. He raised the issue of poverty, even though other don't talk about it. He was the first to put out a plan for universal health care, and forced the hands of his competitors to do the same. He spoke out passionately about his mistake of voting for Bush's war.
Maybe I give him too much credit, but I have always believed his sincerity. I still remember his appearance on the February 4, 2007 edition of Meet the Press, when he told Tim Russert of his plan to unveil a plan for universal health care, which would cost between 90 and 120 billion a year. Russert rightfully asked how Edwards planned to do that without raising taxes. Edwards, in a sign that he understands the necessity of universal health care, didn't skip a beat saying: "Yes, we'll have to raise taxes." Russert asked again: "But you'd be willing to increase taxes to provide health care?" Edwards answered: "Yes, absolutely."
On that same program, Edwards was asked about his 2002 vote to authorize Bush's war in Iraq. He was asked "why shouldn’t voters in Democratic primaries say, ‘On the big issue of the war, Obama was right, Edwards was wrong’?" Edwards' response: "I was wrong. They should say that."
I could be wrong about him. He may have fooled me just like the other 15 percent or so who support him. But I think he was a special, and unfortunately overlooked candidate, and I think the party lost an important voice today.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
If they're right, Mr. 9/11 is embarrassingly done, after bizarrely ceding the first few primaries. If they're right, Hair Gel is done, after wasting a fortune. And if they're right, "100 years" McCain will be the anointed candidate of the right wing (though how far right remains to be seen).
Next comes the speculation from liberal-minded people such as myself: What does this mean for the Democrats? Now here is some real speculation, but I'm going to give it a shot.
(Quick aside: Matthews called McCain Lazarus, not Phoenix, because we're living in "this Christian time." He really said that.)
So what about the Dems? I think if this is all true, it's probably bad news for them. Set aside the head-to-head polls, which show that the only Republican who can beat one of the Dems right now is McCain. There's something else that is worth discussing as the Dems head for a long battle, and the Republicans get a breather.
In baseball, when a team wins in a 4-0 sweep, and waits for its opponent who is battling a long seven-game series, people question the impact. And the conventional wisdom always is that the team that is rested wins. I'm not convinced this works in baseball (players can get complacent and sometimes it's better to keep playing, as opposed to resting), but it probably works better in politics.
McCain will get to rest. And while that could be a shot at his old age ("100 years" serves as a way to mock his Iraq policy as well as his age) I mean it more in the sense that he gets to rally the base. He gets to build up his war chest. And he gets to start beating the drum that he has a chance to win. He can rally the hard-core Republicans who don't like him and convince them that he now becomes their only choice.
With the 24-hour news cycle, we are subjected not only to unimportant stories, but also analysis of the unimportant stories. The first two that come o my mind were stories from reputable newspapers dissecting Clinton's laugh and her blouse.
Well, now we have "The Snub."
When I woke up I saw a story about Obama walking away from Clinton at the State of the Union last night as she approached Sen. Kennedy. I shrugged and moved on. I assumed it would be over by midday. I, once again, gave the media too much credit.
It has turned into a thing. The blogs are all over it, including the Times. And it will surely be discussed in the next few days (certainly Chris Matthews will talk about it this afternoon).
But who, really cares? I like to stand up for the media. I think people don't understand how hard the job of a journalist is. But it's moments like these that I think the pundits deserve all the criticism they get. (Photo: New York Times)
Monday, January 28, 2008
Now Marc Ambinder reports that Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius is also planning on endorsing Obama. This won't get as much play in the national media, but it will certainly matter in middle America. Sebelius will give the Democratic response to the State of the Union tonight and is an extremely popular Democrat in a red state.
And while we're at it, ABC reports that Toni Morrison will endorse Obama too. This likely doesn't matter at all, but as ABC notes, its interesting because it was Morrison who famously referred to Bill Clinton as the country's "first black president."