Why? Because Hitler wore pants, that’s why! Hitler!
There are some indications that Hillary Clinton is planning on sticking around past next Tuesday. Specifically, the reporters embedded with her campaign "received an email Thursday afternoon informing [them] they could sign up for travel through June 6 on the campaign website." (Hat tip: Halperin.)
Notwithstanding this, I predict she drops out on Thursday (the 5th). Obama will reach the "magic number" — however it’s defined — either Tuesday night or Wednesday (with additional superdelegate endorsements), thus well and truly clinching the nomination. At that point, the pressure on Hillary to withdraw will become intense and almost universal among party leaders outside her circle of sycophants and rabid supporters.
If she presses on, using Michigan and Florida as her phony rationale for doing so — and, yes, it’s phony even if she genuinely believes it, having convinced herself of her righteousness — it’ll be career suicide (and quite possibly party suicide). Which doesn’t mean she won’t do it, but I’d bet against it. All things considered, I suspect this "schedule" is mostly for show.
Michigan Democrats’ argument to the Rules & Bylaws Committee is surprisingly reasonable — certainly moreso than the nonsense Hillary’s people have been spouting. In particular, I hadn’t previously heard the argument that the DNC "selectively enforce[d] its calendar rule," penalizing Michigan and Florida but not New Hampshire (even though all three violated the calendar), and that this selective enforcement is what forced Michigan’s hand.
I can’t vouch for the accuracy of that interpretation of events — indeed, I suspect Michigan was just looking for an excuse to cut in line — but on its face, it sounds reasonable, and actually does provide an arguably legitimate, rather than merely demogogic, case for lifting the delegate-stripping penalty.
However, I take issue with this statement, at least as it applies to the proposed solution of cutting Michigan’s delegation in half:
To penalize Michigan … would jeopardize our chances of carrying Michigan and
winning the Presidency. … [W]e must insist on
MichiganÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s full delegation being seated at the Democratic National
Convention with full voting rights.
The problem is this: the Republicans cut Michigan’s delegation in half, too! In fact, the GOP halved the delegations of Michigan, Florida, South Carolina, Wyoming and New Hampshire, all because they violated the party’s calendar.
It is difficult to see, therefore, how the Democrats would "jeopardize our chances of carrying Michigan" by adopting the exact same solution the Republicans chose — unless the spin wins out over the facts. Unfortunately, if the RBC halves the delegations and the Clinton campaign and/or the Michigan & Florida folks choose to demagogue the issue, that’s exactly what is likely to happen.
The first tropical storm of the Eastern Pacific hurricane season (which starts annually on May 15, roughly two weeks earlier than the Atlantic season) has formed. Its name is Tropical Storm Alma, and it could cause a major flooding disaster in Central America.
Last week, Matthew Yglesias wrote:
It’s really too bad that the folks behind Five Thirty Eight.com
have gone and created such a compelling website based around
state-by-state general election polling. It’s all really well done and,
as such, I can’t really bring myself to look away. But this stuff is
all really and truly meaningless.
He’s right. It’s May; the general election is in November. Making Electoral College projections based on current polls is a bit like projecting the BCS bowl matchups based on the AP poll in Week 2. It’s candy for political junkies (hence my glee when these maps first started appearing), but it’s not terribly informative, and it’s certainly not anything to base important decisions on. Thus, it’s rather silly for Clinton to be sending out pollsters’ maps to the superdelegates, using them to argue that she’s more electable than Obama.
Underlining this point today on his Politico blog, Ben Smith offers an Electoral College projection from May 28, 2004 — four years ago yesterday — that showed Kerry beating Bush, 327-211. See, that proves Kerry’s electable!
An awful lot can, and will, change in the five-plus months between now and the election. Most people don’t start seriously paying attention until after Labor Day, and the closest of the battleground states will be decided by swing voters who make up their minds in the final week of the campaign. You can learn a lot more from thinking about the likely dynamics of the race (e.g., young vs. old, change vs. experience, cash cow vs. cash-strapped, dovish vs. hawkish, liberal vs. conservative, and alas, black vs. white) than from looking at polls, whether national or state-by-state, at this early date.
UPDATE: Speaking of polls, this is interesting:
There are very few sure things in politics, but here’s one: Barack
Obama’s going to dominate the black vote in November. John F. Kerry got
88 percent, and it’s hard to see Obama getting less than 90 percent as
the favorite son of a core Democratic constituency in a great
But many polls aren’t currently showing this. Take the SurveyUSA
poll of Michigan getting some attention today. The poll, which has
McCain up 4 percentage points, has Obama winning among
African-Americans 62 percent to 26 percent with the balance undecided …
This seems just wildly unlikely as an outcome …
Whatever the cause, it’s something to watch for in general election
polling, and a way in which Obama’s support seems at times to be
Call it flip-flopping if you must, but I, for one, am glad to see Obama clarifying/revising his position on meeting with foreign leaders:
In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Obama, of Illinois, sought to
emphasize, as he and his aides have done continually over the last few
days, the difference between avoiding preconditions for talks with
nations like Iran and Syria, and granting them automatic discussions at the presidential level.
Mr. Obama has said he would depart from the Bush administration policy
of refusing to meet with certain nations unless they meet
preconditions, he has also said he would reserve the right to choose
which leaders he would meet, should he choose to meet with them at all.
issue presents one of Mr. ObamaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s biggest political and policy tests
yet as he appears headed toward a general-election contest against
Senator John McCain of Arizona: How to continue to add nuance to a policy argument that he
views as a winning one, without playing into a fierce round of
accusations that he is either shifting positions or appeasing the enemy.
The "appeasement" charge is crap, as I’ve noted before. But, as I also said in that same post, "it’s perfectly fair to debate whether Obama’s stated willingness
to meet with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without preconditions is a good
idea. I’m not at all sure it is[.]" What I am sure of is that important foreign-policy decisions should be made based on contemporaneous good judgment, not slavish adherence to spur-of-the-moment campaign promises. Obama’s apparent recognition of this fact is distinctly a good thing.
Not illegal aliens, mind you. Space aliens:
A video that purportedly shows a living, breathing space alien will be shown to the news media Friday in Denver.
But enough about Dennis Kucinich.
I never got around to posting yesterday about Scott McClellan’s book. I’m sure you’ve heard all about it already, but here are some of the highlights:
President Bush Ã¢â‚¬Å“convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment,Ã¢â‚¬Â and has engaged in Ã¢â‚¬Å“self-deceptionÃ¢â‚¬Â to justify his political ends, Scott McClellan, the former White House press secretary, writes in a critical new memoir about his years in the West Wing.
In addition, Mr. McClellan writes, the decision to invade Iraq was a Ã¢â‚¬Å“serious strategic blunder,Ã¢â‚¬Â and yet, in his view, it was not the biggest mistake the Bush White House made. That, he says, was Ã¢â‚¬Å“a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those qualities were most needed.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Mr. McClellanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s book, Ã¢â‚¬Å“What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and WashingtonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Culture of Deception,Ã¢â‚¬Â is the first negative account by a member of the tight circle of Texans around Mr. Bush. Mr. McClellan, 40, went to work for Mr. Bush when he was governor of Texas and was the White House press secretary from July 2003 to April 2006.
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan writes in a surprisingly scathing memoir to be published next week that President Bush Ã¢â‚¬Å“veered terribly off course,Ã¢â‚¬Â was not Ã¢â‚¬Å“open and forthright on Iraq,Ã¢â‚¬Â and took a Ã¢â‚¬Å“permanent campaign approachÃ¢â‚¬Â to governing at the expense of candor and competence. …
The eagerly awaited book, while recounting many fond memories of Bush and describing him as Ã¢â‚¬Å“authenticÃ¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“sincere,Ã¢â‚¬Â is harsher than reporters and White House officials had expected.
McClellan was one of the presidentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s earliest and most loyal political aides, and most of his friends had expected him to take a few swipes at his former colleague in order to sell books but also to paint a largely affectionate portrait.
Instead, McClellanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tone is often harsh. He writes, for example, that after Hurricane Katrina, the White House Ã¢â‚¬Å“spent most of the first week in a state of denial” …
Ã¢â‚¬Å“One of the worst disasters in our nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s history became one of the biggest disasters in BushÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s presidency. Katrina and the botched federal response to it would largely come to define BushÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s second term,Ã¢â‚¬Â he writes. Ã¢â‚¬Å“And the perception of this catastrophe was made worse by previous decisions President Bush had made, including, first and foremost, the failure to be open and forthright on Iraq and rushing to war with inadequate planning and preparation for its aftermath.Ã¢â‚¬Â …
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I still like and admire President Bush,Ã¢â‚¬Â McClellan writes. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But he and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ In this regard, he was terribly ill-served by his top advisers, especially those involved directly in national security.Ã¢â‚¬Â …
McClellan repeatedly embraces the rhetoric of Bush’s liberal critics and even charges: Ã¢â‚¬Å“If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The collapse of the administrationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ In this case, the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœliberal mediaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.Ã¢â‚¬Â …
Among other notable passages: …
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Bush was Ã¢â‚¬Å“clearly irritated, Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ steamed,Ã¢â‚¬Â when McClellan informed him that chief economic adviser Larry Lindsey had told The Wall Street Journal that a possible war in Iraq could cost from $100 billion to $200 billion: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã¢â‚¬ËœItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unacceptable,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ Bush continued, his voice rising. Ã¢â‚¬ËœHe shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be talking about that.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Ã¢â‚¬Å“As press secretary, I spent countless hours defending the administration from the podium in the White House briefing room. Although the things I said then were sincere, I have since come to realize that some of them were badly misguided.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Ã¢â‚¬Å“History appears poised to confirm what most Americans today have decided: that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder. No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully understand its impact. What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Needless to say, reaction to the book has been fast, furious, and predictably partisan. For instance, Nancy Pelosi “totally agrees” with McClellan’s charges, and Robert Wexler, a top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, wants McClellan to testify about his accusations. Karl Rove, on the other hand, says McClellan’s book is “a little irresponsible” and that he “sounds like a left-wing blogger.” Barack Obama says McClellan “confirmed what a lot of us have thought for some time.” But the current White House press secretary, Dana Perino, accuses McClellan of distorting the truth to sell books and says, “Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House. For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled. It is sad. This is not the Scott we knew.” And Dan Bartlett, a former top Bush aide, is distinctly displeased:
Former White House counselor Dan Bartlett lashed out at Scott McClellan in a telephone interview Wednesday, saying the allegations that the media was soft on the White House are “total crap,” adding that advisers of President Bush are “bewildered and puzzled” by the allegations in McClellan’s new book.
“It’s almost like we’re witnessing an out-of-body experience,” Bartlett said of McClellan. “We’re hearing from a completely different person we didn’t have any insight into.”
Bartlett added that intimates of the President feel McClellan has violated his trust. “Part of the role of being a trusted adviser is to honor that trust,” said Bartlett. “It’s not your place now to go out” and criticize the President like this. …
Bartlett said the bewilderment stems from “Scott’s decision to publicly air these deep misgivings he’s never shared privately or publicly” with fellow Bush insiders. “To do it now, through a book, is a mistake,” he added.
Bartlett asserted that McClellan did not play a major role in key events, noting that the former aide was serving as deputy press secretary for domestic issues during the run-up to the war in Iraq, raising questions about how McClellan could claim the President used “propaganda” to sell the war.
“I don’t think he was in a position to know this,” Bartlett said flatly. He said it’s “troubling” that McClellan is now “gives credibility to every left-wing attack” on anecdotes that are “either thinly-sourced or not witnessed by him” in the White House.
Expect all sides to redefine McClellan in order to either boost or reduce his credibility. To the Right, McClellan will have been the worst press secretary of modern times, and to the Left a man of extraordinary ability chased out of his job by BushÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s minions. The truth will be somewhere in the middle.
So… what do y’all think?