Archive for the ‘Election 2008’ Category

More politics-as-sports

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Last week, I confessed that, although the rational side of my brain is undecided between Barack Obama and John McCain, the “portion of my brain that views politics as a sport can’t help ‘rooting’ for Obama” because he is “the scrappy mid-major going up against the staid, boring, established program; he’s Boise State against Oklahoma (‘They said this day would never come: a WAC team in a BCS bowl! Yes, we can!’), he’s Appalachian State against Michigan… or, as McCain might prefer to say, he’s Hawaii against Georgia.”

Now, Ben Smith uses a college-football metaphor, saying that Obama’s 50-state, expand-the-map strategy is the political equivalent of the “spread offense.”

If so, Obama’s definitely going to win Michigan. :)

My letter to Senator Joe

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Having shocked y’all Friday morning by announcing that I’m retiring the blog on July 20, I figure Monday morning is a good time for yet another shocker. Would a three-page manifesto to Irish Trojan favorite son Joe Lieberman, lambasting him for dishonest and unworthy campaign rhetoric, do the trick?

I sent the letter Friday afternoon to Joe’s D.C. office, and now I’m reprinting it on the blog. I don’t mean to grandstand about this, but having been so vocal in defense of Lieberman, I figure I owe y’all an update on where I stand now. (In point of fact, my sentiments shouldn’t be too shocking; I alluded to my growing disillusionment with Lieberman last month.)

It’s important to emphasize that I have no problem whatsoever with Lieberman endorsing McCain and arguing against Obama’s candidacy; it’s the way he’s been opposing Obama that bothers me, not the mere fact that he’s doing so at all. I object to such things as his role in spreading the Obama’s-a-Marxist and Hamas-loves-Obama memes, his implication that Democrats are not "pro-American," and several other specific statements he’s made recently. Anyway, here’s the money quote:

What happened to your 2006 message, promising a less hyper-partisan brand of politics?  Based on your recent statements, it appears you have completely abandoned the premise that Democrats and Republicans have honest disagreements on the issues.  Instead of substantively engaging important topics of legitimate debate and disagreement, you have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to vilify and caricature the Democratic Party …

I am deeply disappointed that you have sunk to these lows, and having been such a vocal advocate on your behalf, I must admit that I am somewhat embarrassed.  It is becoming more and more difficult to defend you against your critics in the blogosphere, who increasingly feel that they were “right all along” about you. 

On reflection, "completely abandoned the premise" is probably a bit much. But it gets the message across, anyway. Joe needs to tone down his rhetoric, or folks like me who once greatly admired him will increasingly come to view him as just another typical politician.

Read the whole thing after the jump.

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Quittin’ time

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

Hillary Clinton will formally withdraw/suspend and endorse Obama shortly at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. If you aren’t near a TV, you can watch the event streamed live on CNN, MSNBC and C-SPAN.

Also, The Caucus, Daily Kos and TPM will be liveblogging.

UPDATE: A fine speech so far by Hillary; I have no complaints about it. But I have to quote the funny comment by Barb, who we’re watching it with (she’s visiting for the weekend from Buffalo). Barb finished one of Hillary’s sentences for her:

Hillary: “The Democratic Party is a family…”

Barb: “…and I’m the kooky aunt who nobody likes, but you have to invite over for Christmas anyway.”

Heh.

Quote of the day #2

Friday, June 6th, 2008

Peggy Noonan, on why the "unity ticket" is a bad idea:  "[Clinton]
undercuts the cleanness of Obama’s message. She doesn’t turn the page,
she is the page
." Heh.

More after the jump.

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Quote of the day

Friday, June 6th, 2008

"Is [Obama] ‘elitist,’ too condescending and glib and remote and full of himself?
I don’t find him so—but then again, I myself am an elitist who can seem
condescending and glib and remote and full of himself, so who am I to
judge?" —Kurt Andersen, in a piece for New York Magazine brilliantly titled "I’m Not Totally Sure We Can."

(I also like Andersen’s take on what each candidate must to do pass the, er, commander-in-chief test, if you will: "I’m far more convinced that President Obama would summon up the
requisite steel and shrewdness than I am that President McCain would
become sufficiently nuanced and diplomatic." Heh.)

Don’t let John McCain feed your baby

Friday, June 6th, 2008

If you do, your baby may get burned by bottled hot water:

Tee hee.

Obama’s Gary Hart moment?

Friday, June 6th, 2008

Be careful what you wish for: "If somebody has evidence that myself or Michelle or anybody has said something inappropriate, let them do it."

Presumably by "do it," he means "produce it," as in, produce the evidence. Hmm. This would seem to run somewhat counter to his previous statement that his wife is off-limits.

Now, I agree with Obama on the substance of the point he’s making — about how frustrating it is when totally unsubstantiated rumors get lifted out of the undernews into mainstream discussion, and thus in some sense legitimized, simply by somebody in the MSM asking the question — but still, does he really want to essentially dare the media, and his political opponents, to dig up dirt on him and his wife? We all know what happened the last time a presidential candidate did that!

McCain: Let’s go to Mars

Friday, June 6th, 2008

In an obvious and blatant attempt to shore up the crucial Space-Obsessed Law Professors With Highly Trafficked Blogs voting bloc, John McCain said yesterday he would like to put a man on Mars.

Sounds good to me, but what I want to know is, will we do the other things?

P.S. In other John McCain-related news, he’s apparently trying to fight off the "age issue" by making references that the youngsters of today will understand — like, for instance, comparing Obama to William Jennings Bryan.

The year was eighteen ninety-six, and John McCain was just sixteen…

:)

P.P.S. And yet more McCain-related news: he’s released his first general-election ad, in which he states: "Only a fool or a fraud talks tough or romantically about war. … I hate war.
And I know how terrible its costs are."

TPM’s Greg Sargent says "McCain is using his bio to achieve separation from George W. Bush," suggesting that "even if he’s
continuing Bush’s war policies, he’s different from Dubya in that he understands the costs in a way that Bush never did." The subtext, Sargent writes, is: "Even if that reckless chicken-hawk took us to war,
someone who actually understands and has experienced the costs of war
— someone you can actually believe — is here to tell you that we must
continue it."

So, to review: John McCain hates war, yet he wants to send a man to Mars, a planet which is named after… war. :)

UPDATE: Glenn links here, and says of my above joke, "somehow the Obama backers manage to make everything about Iraq… Heh." Hey, now! What’s this about "Obama backers"? I know it might be hard to believe, given my blog’s recent focus, but I repeat:

I am undecided. In fact, if you put a gun to my head right now
and made me choose, I think — *think* — I’d vote for McCain. But it’s
really entirely up in the air how I’ll vote in November. I like and
admire Obama, but that doesn’t mean I think he’d make the best
president. The best Democratic nominee, yes, but that’s only because
his opponent is such a lying, conniving, deceitful [bad word]. Against
McCain, he doesn’t have such an obvious "character" advantage (both
candidates are, as best as I can tell, generally good, decent and
honest, though of course not pure or perfect), and I’m not at all sure
who I think is, on balance, better on policy.

If that confuses you, consider this: "The portion of my brain that views politics as a sport can’t help
‘rooting’ for Obama (he’s exciting! he’s inspiring! he’s shiny!), [but] the
rational part of my brain, which governs my actual vote, is totally undecided
between Obama and McCain." Obama is the scrappy mid-major going up against the staid, boring, established program; he’s Boise State against Oklahoma ("They said this day would never come: a WAC team in a BCS bowl! Yes, we can!"), he’s Appalachian State against Michigan, he’s Davidson against Kansas. Or, as McCain might prefer to say, he’s Hawaii against Georgia. :) The point is, he’s fun to root for, and that fact bleeds over into my blog coverage. (Also, my blog coverage has just been generally Dem-dominated because that contest has been much more exciting since late January.) Moreover, it’s fun to poke fun at John McCain because, you know, he’s old. (In fairness, I’ve also poked fun at Obama for being messianic and cultish. Whee, humor is fun!) But none of that necessarily means that I support Obama, because in the end, politics isn’t a sport, and voting isn’t about "rooting" or making jokes, it’s about deciding the future of the country. So yes, I’m undecided. Really.

P.P.P.S. Speaking of the Red Planet, Andrew Sullivan this morning posted a picture from 2005 of Sunset on Mars. He should have included it in his "The View From Your Window" series!

Lieberman leads McCain’s outreach to disaffected Hillary supporters

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Oy vey:

Sen. Joe Lieberman – who has taken on increasingly high-profile campaign roles on behalf of presumptive Republican nominee John McCain – announced Thursday that was launching and heading a new grassroots organization, “Citizens for McCain,” with a direct appeal to Hillary Clinton’s disappointed supporters.

“The phones at the campaign headquarters have been ringing with disaffected Democrats calling to say they believe Senator McCain has the experience, judgment, and bipartisanship necessary to lead our country in these difficult times,” Lieberman wrote in a message sent to the Arizona senator’s supporters. “Many of these supporters are former supporters of Senator Clinton.”

(Hat tip: Youngblai.)

Wrong state

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

WDVX just played a song called “Satan Lives In Arkansas.” But that isn't right. She moved to New York! :)

Forgive and forget?

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Ross Douthat on Hillary’s decision to concede:

"If only she’d done this weeks ago," Matt writes.
I take his point: It would probably been better for the party if
Hillary had conceded defeat somewhat earlier (though there would have
been the potential embarrassment of having the presumptive-nominee lose
primaries to a rival who’d dropped out), or at the very least
campaigned less fiercely against Obama once his victory became a
near-certainty, and certainly her non-concession speech on Tuesday
night was bizarre and faintly pathological. But I think that once a few
months have gone by, at least some of outrage that Hillary Clinton has
generated among liberal pundits by campaigning to the bitter end in a
race that she ended up losing by just over a hundred pledged delegates
and roughly half a percent of the popular vote will seem, in hindsight,
faintly hysterical.

Ban Johnson, a commenter on Douthat’s post, responds:

I’d grant your point if I believed your characterization of most of
the outrage as about Clinton merely "campaigning to the bitter end"
were accurate.

Most of the outrage wasn’t about her campaigning in itself. It was
about the malignity of her campaign — suggesting McCain was better
equipped to be commander of chief, dishonestly ginning up Michigan and
Florida resentments, characterizing her supporters as "hard working
white people": basically trying to sabotage Obama, the overwhelmingly
likely nominee of her party, whenever she could get away with it.

(Hat tip: Sully.) I think they’re both right, in a way.

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Announcing the announcement

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Hillary Clinton sent out an e-mail to her supporters early this morning (not quite at "3:00 AM," but close!) declaring her intention to announce Saturday that she’ll endorse Obama. This is the old "announcing the announcement" trick, and it raises the question: If you tell everyone you’re going to endorse somebody, doesn’t that mean you’ve already endorsed him?

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Clinton to endorse Obama on Friday Saturday

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

ABC says Hillary Clinton will drop out on Friday and “ced[e] the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama.”

I’ll believe it when I see it.

UPDATE: For some reason it didn’t auto-post, but CNN sent out a breaking-news alert at 7:10 PM stating: “Sen. Hillary Clinton will officially end her campaign for the presidency by the end of the week, multiple sources tell CNN.”

UPDATE 2: This isn’t just based on anonymous sourcing now. Here’s the official statement from the campaign: “Senator Clinton will be hosting an event in Washington, DC on Friday to thank her supporters and express her support for Senator Obama and party unity.”

Politico‘s Ben Smith writes:

Clinton delivered something approaching a victory speech Tuesday night, just minutes after the media reported that Senator Barack Obama had clinched the nomination with a majority of the pledged delegates. But reality began to sink in Wednesday, as party leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, declared Obama “the nominee” and close supporters like Harlem Rep. Charles Rangel lost patience with her delays. …

Clinton had convened a conference call with congressional supporters Wednesday to plead for time. Instead, a Clinton backer said, her supporters laid down the law: Time had run out, and she needed to leave the race this week.

More from NYT‘s Adam Nagourney:

Her decision came after a day of telephone conversations with supporters on Capitol Hill about what she should do now that Mr. Obama had claimed enough delegates to be able to clinch the nomination. Mrs. Clinton had initially said she wanted to wait before making any decision, but her aides said that in conversations, some of her closest supporters said it was urgent that she step aside. The news was first reported by ABCNEWS.com.

“We pledged to support her to the end,” said Representative Charles B. Rangel, a New York Democrat who has been a patron of Mrs. Clinton since she first ran for the Senate. “Our problem is not being able to determine when the hell the end is.”

UPDATE 3: The event has been pushed back to Saturday. It’ll be competing for news coverage against the possible Big Brown Triple Crown.

Final popular-vote update

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Here are the final "popular vote" numbers, courtesy of Real Clear Politics. Leaving aside the fact that the "popular vote" is a fundamentally flawed and illegitimate metric for determining the "winner" of the Democrats’ byzantine primary and caucus process, the results are as follows:

  • Obama wins if you don’t count Michigan, whose primary results were rejected as illegitimate by the DNC.

  • Clinton wins if you count Michigan fully, and give Obama zero votes (thus granting her the benefit of an utterly undemocratic, Soviet-style 328,309 to zero "victory" there).
  • If you count Michigan, but give Obama the votes of "Uncommitted" — which is more generous to Hillary than the DNC was, and represents less support for Obama than he would have gotten if Michigan had held a real primary — Obama wins, provided that you include the estimated tallies from Iowa, Nevada, Maine and Washington. Clinton wins only if you exclude these four caucus states, in direct contradiction of her insistence on "counting every vote" from "all 50 states." Even if you use Washington’s non-binding primary instead of its binding caucus, and include caucus estimates for Iowa, Nevada and Maine only, Obama still wins, albeit by a measly 11,000 votes.

Thus, the answer to the question I posed back on May 7 — can Hillary Clinton "win" an "arguably plausible" popular vote tally? — turns out to be "no." She only wins if she does one (or both) of the two indefensible things that I’ve been decrying all along: awarding herself a unanimous victory in Michigan that would make Saddam Hussein proud, and/or disenfranchising four whole states that did nothing wrong.

Stepping back from those controversies, though, a bigger-picture view of the "popular vote" reveals just how freakin’ close this election was. The most Obama-friendly scenario has him winning by 151,844 votes, which is just 0.4% of the total cast. The most Clinton-friendly scenario (giving her the unanimous Michigan victory and excluding the caucus states) has her ahead by 286,687 votes, or just 0.8%. Basically, the popular vote was a tie.

Now, that said, if the 13 caucus states had held primaries, Obama probably would have had a more substantial edge. For instance, although he won by a whopping 79.5% to 17.2% in Idaho, he netted only 13,225 votes there, because only 21,224 people voted. If Idaho had held a (real) primary, Obama’s percentage margin would likely have been more akin to his 56% to 38% win in the state’s non-binding primary, but turnout probably would have been more on the order of 175,000 or thereabouts (judging from Kerry’s total in 2004). That translates to a margin of roughly 31,500 instead of 13,225. Repeat that effect in the other 12 caucus states — Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Washington and Wyoming — and you’re probably talking about an additional several hundred thousand votes for Obama if all 50 states had held primaries.

Nevertheless, it’s clear that the battle for the nomination was achingly close, and the central reason Hillary lost is because of the strategic gaffes committed by her incompetently managed campaign. She and Obama essentially split the Democratic Party right down the middle, but Obama came away with a clear delegate majority for the simple reason that he ran a better campaign than she did. This obviously burns her up inside, and helps explain her current irrational behavior. She’s sitting there thinking, over and over again, "I should have won this thing, I should have won this thing." And that thought process makes it incredibly difficult for her to acknowledge defeat.

And you know what? In a sense, she’s right. She should have won. If her campaign had merely matched the strategic competence of Obama’s campaign, such that she’d essentially tied him in delegates as well as votes, she’d very likely have ended up being the nominee, precisely because of the electability arguments she’s been making. If this race were truly a tie, the superdelegates would be very open to those arguments, and she’d probably win the floor fight in Denver. But because her campaign arrogantly failed to compete in various states, and thus allowed Obama to rack up an unassailable delegate lead in February, she clearly lost the pledged-delegate count, which is the closest thing we have to an accurate reflection of the "winner" and "loser" of this byzantine process. As a result, it’s game, set, match, Obama.

So, Hillary, you’re right: you should have won the nomination. But nobody stole it from you. It’s your own damn fault you lost, and putting your party through hell in a futile attempt to make up for your own campaign’s blatant strategic errors is hardly the mark of a leader.

Blog countdown PSA

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

I was going to delete the blog sidebar thingy that was counting down to "MT, SD primaries," which stated (under "Upcoming events" at left) that those elections are "-1 days" away. But then it occurred to me to do something different. Instead of deleting the countdown, I’ve changed its text to read "Obama clinches," and I’m going to leave it there until Hillary Clinton drops out of the race and endorses Obama. So, this way, we can keep a running tally of how long Hillary continues her campaign even after she’s lost.

This is sort of like how, back in 2006, I left the "Shannon’s due date" countdown in place until Shannon actually had her baby — at which point it said "-7 days." I wonder if Hillary will beat that record? (For what it’s worth, the Democratic National Convention begins in 82 days.)