Friday, February 15, 2008

John Lewis

The Times reported that Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights leader who pledged his support for Clinton, is switching his super-delegate vote to Obama. NBC is reporting that he hasn't actually decided to change his vote. But this illustrates a few things. First of all, it shows that these delegate counts are far from settled. Even the states that have already voted will show change. All of which means that we really shouldn't trust the delegate counts we get from news sources.

But this also goes back to the decision in front of these party insiders, now referred to as super-delegates. I don't know the answer to the question of whether they should support who they want or who the voters want. I'm curious to hear what people think, so comment liberally.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

McCain hearts waterboarding

"Maverick" McCain, who for some reason appeals to independents and liberals, voted yesterday for waterboarding. Actually, he voted against restricting the CIA to using interrogation methods that are in the Army Field Manual, which, by the way, is not such a big deal. Basically, the bill said the CIA should practice what it preaches; that it should operate the way it says it will operate.

That wasn't good enough for "100 years" McCain. Now that he's courting the conservatives, he likes torture.

I want the Republican race to be over so the media can start looking at this guy and reporting how conservative he really is. Newspapers all over the country should be reporting: "McCain votes for waterboarding."

Update: He was against it before he was for it.


Clinton's chief strategist Mark Penn said:

“Could we possibly have a nominee who hasn't won any of the significant states -- outside of Illinois?” “That raises some serious questions about Sen. Obama.”

Maybe it raises "serious questions" that Penn doesn't consider voters in Maryland, Virginia, DC, Louisiana, Utah, Missouri, Delaware, Georgia, Connecticut, Alabama, South Carolina, Maine, Washington, Nebraska, Minnesota, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, North Dakota, Colorado, Iowa and the Virgin Islands are "significant."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Big head

It looks like the eight straight wins Obama has strung together are going to his head. Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, is starting to sound the "inevitable" trumpets. He's saying Obama's lead and the upcoming calendar are such that Clinton can't catch him. That may be true, but it seems pretty foolish to start saying that when there are a lot of votes left to be counted.

In fact, I think one of the turning points in the race was back in the fall when Clinton started talking as though she was the inevitable candidate. It gave Obama something to rally against, and it helped propel him to a win in Iowa.

Plouffe is making the same mistake. The Obama campaign stumbled in New Hampshire when it got cocky. Its cockiness could be just what derails the current mood of "inevitability."

Negative campaigning

Hillary Clinton may be spending her time in Texas, but that doesn't mean she's giving up Wisconsin. She's on the air criticizing Obama for not agreeing to debate. Going negative hurt her before when she twisted his words about Republicans and when her husband compared Obama to Jesse Jackson, but an ad criticizing Obama for being all talk and no substance might convince voters to think twice about Obama.

Clinton = Giuliani?

Last night Clinton gave her speech from El Paso, Texas. Obama gave his from Madison, Wisconsin. The Texas primary is not until March 4. Wisconsin's is February 19. Is Clinton giving up on Wisconsin, a state she trails by just 11 points in the most recent poll? Obama has won 8 straight states, but if Clinton lets him win Wisconsin and Hawaii, which is also held on February 19, he will have won 10 straight going into the March 4 primaries, which include the big prizes of Texas and Ohio.

The Times reported that Clinton is putting all her eggs in the Ohio, Texas baskets. This sounds a lot like Giuliani's strategy to me. He sat out the early primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina. He focused entirely on Florida, and came in third.

I'm tired of hearing about momentum, but it certainly plays a role in political races. New Hampshire taught us momentum is not everything, but you can't deny that it's something.

Clinton is planning on lying in the weeds and pouncing on Obama on March 4. But it may be too late by then. I would have thought that everyone would have learned from the Giuliani fiasco that you have to compete everywhere. You have to show that you are running. You can't wait for your moment. Remember that the day after the Florida Republican primary, Giuliani shut down his campaign.

Update: Apparently, I'm not the only one who has come to the above conclusion.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Florida and Michigan

Here's an interesting development. NAACP chairman Julian Bond said the DNC should seat the Florida and Michigan delegation or risk disenfranchising the minority voters in those states.

A little background. The Democratic parties in Michigan and Florida wanted to join the group of states moving their primaries up in the calendar. But the DNC said that if any states moved them up in the calendar beyond February 5, their delegates would not count.

Because of the DNC's ruling, no Democrats campaigned in the two states. In fact, only Clinton and Kucinich were even on the ballot in Michigan. Now that those states have passed and Clinton won them easily, she is crying foul, saying those voters must be represented at the convention. (Good timing.)

Now back to Bond and the NAACP. As far as I know, the NAACP didn't make a fuss when the DNC decided not to count the delegates from Michigan and Florida. And as far as I know, Bond has no official tie to Clinton.

There are a few things that puzzle me about this. First of all, why is he speaking now, but didn't say anything when the DNC made the announcement? Second, why is it that only the minority is disenfranchised? What does this have to do with race?

Day at the beach

Marc Ambinder linked to this video, which was released by the DNC. It sheds light on on hte arty's thinking heading into the general election with McCain.

It's a good video and it makes McCain look pretty bad. But it's not as good as it could be. The video paints him as a flip flopper on Iraq (showing yet again that the Dems can't come up with any campaign ideas of their own). It shows him saying that Iraq will be easy, then him saying that it won't be any day at the beach and that Americans must be patient.

That's a fine point, but I think the argument is better simply by showing him talk about how easy the war was going to be at the beginning. McCain has tried to weasel away from the administration by saying that the war was not waged well. He has criticized Rumsfeld and said that the troop increase was a long time coming. In other words, he readily admits that his position has changed, and that if the war had been handled the way he wanted it to be handled, it would have been much easier. This video allows him to make that point.

Instead, the DNC should show McCain saying the war will be quick and easy. It should show the Saddam statue coming down and the Mission Accomplished speech. Then it should contrast with images of violence, five years later. I'd like to see him explain himself out of that hole.

He wants to be connected to the conservative base so wrap that blanket around him.

Pimped out

The Clinton machine is out in full force against MSNBC in general and reporter David Shuster, in particular. Last week Shuster said Chelsea Clinton was being "pimped out." He has since apologized twice and was suspended. That's not nearly enough for Clinton or Media Matters. They say this is a pattern with the network that used to employ Don Imus and continues to employ Chris Matthews.

I understand the anger surrounding all the comments that have drawn outrage, mostly from the left. I get the defense of Chelsea Clinton. Bill Press, who was on opposite Shuster at the time of his comments, rejected the notion that Chelsea Clinton was being used as a tool. He's right, of course. She's a smart, individual, grown woman who believes in her mother's candidacy and has every right and ability to go out and campaign on her own. (If you sense a "but," you're right.)

But the ignorant, misogynistic comments came from the same MSNBC trio that have loudly fought against Bush's war. They came from three talking heads who regularly push hard questions on Republicans and have created cries from the right that the network is liberal. Shuster was by far the best reporter on television when it came to covering the Scooter Libby trial.

Surely their opposition to the war doesn't excuse their comments. And certainly the network could find solid reporters who won't make misogynistic comments. But the immediate anger at a comment, and the call for "change" at the network is excessive. The Clinton machine has overplayed its hand on this one, and it's time for the calls for Shuster's ouster to stop.

Monday, February 11, 2008

100 years

I don't think this video is particularly funny, and I think the joke is as much on McCain as it is on the "Yes, We Can" crew, but since I invoke the "100 years" phrase a lot, I thought I was obligated to post it.


Chris Rock in Baltimore this weekend:

"Is America ready for a black president or a woman president? We should be - we just had a retarded one.

National polling

Can anyone argue the importance of national polling in a proportional delegate system? Both Gallup and Rasmussen track national polling and both have Clinton up by 5 to 8 points. But what does this matter? Obama has won more states than Clinton and he's won more votes nationally than she has.

Even more importantly, it simply doesn't matter. They are not competing head-to-head nationally. Yet the tracking polls are still conducted. Does anyone see value in them?