Aug 21, 2007

185,000 precincts

Michael Dukakis, who won only 9 states in his 1988 presidential bid, is working informally with the Democratic National Committee on organizing precincts in all fifty states.
True to his technocratic roots, Mr. Dukakis has the idea of replicating, on every street, avenue, and rural route in the country, the kind of personal relationships that once powered big-city political machines—with precinct captains calling on their neighbors every few weeks, asking them about their concerns, talking up their candidate and following up on any questions they might have. Mr. Dukakis’ vision is rooted in good government—making sure, for instance, that a neighbor’s concerns about school vouchers are satisfactorily addressed.

Aug 19, 2007

Sunday's reads

'Tommy's Empty Tank' - Michael Currie Schaffer - The New Republic.
It's hard to remember now, but well before Rove became a household name, Thompson was among the folks considered to be the future of the GOP. Along with fellow 1990s Republican governors Jim Edgar (Illinois), John Engler (Michigan), George Voinovich (Ohio), George Pataki (New York), Tom Ridge (Pennsylvania), Christine Todd Whitman (New Jersey), William Weld (Massachusetts) and Marc Racicot (Montana), the Wisconsin governor was portrayed as the thinking man's Republican, mixing conservative ideals with the practical job of governing--a neat counterpoint to the snarling, obstructionist, impeachment-happy culture warriors in the party's congressional leadership.
'Rather Says Bloomberg Ruled Out White House Bid' - Sewell Chan - City Room.
Mr. Rather: Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, told me that he was not going to run for president. In a direct answer to a direct question, would he run under any circumstances, he danced around a bit and finally said ‘No.’ Furthermore, he said he wasn’t open to even considering running as a vice presidential candidate with anybody, and he wouldn’t take a place in anybody’s cabinet.”
'Annals of Reporting' - Josh Marshall - Talking Points Memo.
Actually, if you look at what he says, it seems Skube's editor at the Times oped page didn't think he had enough specific examples in his article decrying our culture of free-wheeling assertion bereft of factual backing. Or perhaps any examples. So the editor came up with a few blogs to mention and Skube signed off. And Skube was happy to sign off on the addition even though he didn't know anything about them.

Race race

A top staffer for Barack Obama says he needs to perform well in Iowa in order to show Democrats that white voters will support a black candidate. Iowa --- a state that is 94% white according to the 2000 census -- is "the big one," in the words of Obama national field director, Temo Figueroa.

Aug 17, 2007

Seeking the defeated

Alexander Burns makes an interesting find.
Every campaign has important regional fundraisers and surrogate speakers. In Obama's case, a number of his most vigorous supporters ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2004 - the same year Obama won his seat in Congress.
The list includes South Carolina's Inez Tenenbaum, Oklahoma's Brad Carson, and South Dakota's Tom Daschle. Daschle's old campaign staff -- from top almost to bottom -- are now working for Obama (not to mention the many who moved from Daschle's to Obama's Senate office in 2005).

And what's more: the method is precedented.
When he ran for president in 1976, Jimmy Carter helped build a network of supporters for his campaign by contacting Democratic candidates who had been defeated in 1974. Rather than focusing solely on the endorsements of powerful elected officials and well-known pols, Carter tapped into the networks of unsuccessful office-seekers in order to strengthen his campaign's national reach.

The text president

Matt Bai has a great idea in today's New York Times:
MAYBE someday soon the candidates will have laptop computers at their lecterns, and we’ll hang a giant screen behind the stage. Then, as one candidate is talking, the others will use instant messaging to create a kind of scrolling commentary and critique, and all the comments will appear overhead.

Cuellar colludes

The Wall Street Journal's Kimberly A. Strassell pens another column on clashes between some Democratic lawmakers and the netroots. The focus is on Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar, who has a theory about those who have been in primary battles with candidates supported by online activists.
Mr. Cuellar goes so far as to argue that instead of cowing Democratic moderates, the left-wing attacks have united them. More middle-of-the-roaders now believe that if the bloggers were to win a high-profile primary, it would only energize them to go after others. "This has brought us together to say, 'this is us, and we've got to stick together,'" he says.
Cuellar also reveals to Strassell his thoughts on San Francisco's own, Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "I've seen her behind the scenes, and I've always thought she was liberal, but she's done a good job of trying to bring us more to the middle."

Friday's reads

'Check Mate' - James Kirchick - The New Republic.
Gay marriage advocates need to convince a substantial majority of the country that gay marriage is a moral good before pressuring presidential candidates to take a position on such a highly charged issue.
'Edwards, Foreclosure Critic, Has Investing Tie to Subprime Lenders' - Christopher Cooper - The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Edwards didn't give details on how or when he was going to proceed, either to alter his holdings or to aid borrowers. He said he plans to begin making amends to New Orleans homeowners first by contacting them and "seeing where they are in the process." He said his help may come from his own cash or in collaboration with a charity that specializes in repairing homes. The foreclosures, Mr. Edwards said, "run counter to what I'm about."
'Lautenberg’s golden years' - Matt Friedman - Politics NJ.
Jennifer Duffy, a Senior Editor at the Cook Political Report in Washington, said that pollsters in the Garden State often come across a tough attitude towards local politicians that doesn’t always reflect who voters choose on Election Day. Indeed, even if his approval rating isn’t stellar, Lautenberg’s well above the rating for congress as a whole.

Whitewater whitewash

In New York, Democrats are finished with trying move beyond the scandal over Gov. Eliot Spitzer's improper use of state troopers to keep tabs on his top Republican rival through apologies. Instead, the New York Observer finds that Democrats are attempting to draw a parallel between the persecution of Spitzer and that of the "never-ending" partisan investigations of the Clinton White House.

While Spitzer has yet to personally take part, Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler have made the comparison publicly.

Historical toss-up

If Senator Tim Johnson seeks re-election in 2008, his chances are historically a toss-up, according to the Argus Leader's David Kranz. Starting with 1960, South Dakotans have voted eight times for presidential and Senate candidates in the same year.
Republicans were supported all eight times for president. Democrats won the Senate race four times. Republicans won the Senate race four times.

Aug 14, 2007

Rove yearbook

The Salt Lake Tribune recalls Karl Rove's early involvement in Utah politics, including first campaign: running for student body president at Salt Lake County's Olympus High.
"[Whether] munching Oreos or politicking, Mr. Karl Rove was a man of the people," his 1969 yearbook read. "He put the Olympian [student body] Senate into motion with his characteristically well-versed arguments and witty comments."

Hastert decides

"Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has set Friday for his long-awaited announcement on whether he will seek re-election in Illinois' far west suburban 14th Congressional District," The Chicago Tribune reports.
State Sen. Chris Lauzen of Aurora and dairy owner and investment manager Jim Oberweis have been courting the district's conservative voters, and more recently, Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns expressed interest in the GOP nomination if Hastert decides not to seek re-election.

Stock scrutiny

Mitt Romney's investments – placed in a blind trust when he became Massachusetts' governor in 2003 – were released yesterday, as part of a federal requirement for presidential candidates.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the manager of Romney's financial portfolio sold certain stocks "after Romney publicly called for divestment from companies doing business in Iran." Yet Romney, the wealthiest presidential candidate, maintains "stock in China Petroleum and Chemical (also known as SinoPec), an oil supply company that has dealings in Sudan, according to an organization dedicated to ending the genocide in the African nation's Darfur region."

Romney's "biggest single holding" – MGM Mirage casinos in Las Vegas – may become a contentious issue with religious conservatives.

Closer look

In a glowing editorial today, New Hampshire's influential conservative newspaper, The Manchester Union-Leader, says Mike Huckabee "deserves a closer look from Republican and independent voters" after his second-place finish at Ames Strawpoll.
Of all the lesser-known GOP candidates, Huckabee has impressed us the most. He is articulate, sharp, and well-versed on more topics than one would expect a small-state governor to be knowledgeable about.

Lesson from the Rove years

There are too many good pieces in David Frum's op-ed on the Rove legacy to choose just one.
Instead of seeking solutions to national problems, “compassionate conservatism” started with slogans and went searching for problems to justify them. To what problem, exactly, was the faith-based initiative a solution?


Polarization, however, is Karl Rove’s specialty. He united his own base on one side — and united his opponents on the other. Al Gore and John Kerry each won 48 percent, the best back-to-back performance by a losing party since the 19th century. Play-to-the-base politics can be a smart strategy — so long as your base is larger than your opponents’.


We were so mesmerized by the specious analogies between 1996 and 1896 that we forgot that analogies are literary devices, not evidence.

Rove to Thompson?

Judging Rove's history, Rick Perlstein thinks the GOP's top political operative may be headed to the Fred Thompson campaign.
In 1972 he got a job working for the Committee to Re-Elect the President's Youth Division. Which sounds pretty innocent. But the youth division, run by a guy named Ken Rietz, was actually the wheelhouse for infiltrating the Edmund Muskie campaign. (An aside: Rietz is a top advisor to Fred Thompson's imminent presidential campaign. There are whispers that Thompson might become Karl Rove's next candidate. And as we know now, Fred Thompson served as the Nixon White House's spy with the Watergate prosecution.)

Aug 13, 2007

Thompson obit

Joe Klein makes a good observation on the demise of Tommy Thompson's presidential bid.
The other factor is that Thompson, much as he tried to pretend otherwise, simply wasn't as conservative as the Republican base. Unlike Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush (and now Mitt Romney), who act as if Washington, D.C. were the capital of France, Thompson actually believes in government and practiced his beliefs in a creative, humane but highly efficient way, especially when it came to welfare reform in the early 1990s. That seems a terrible liability for a GOP candidate these days.

Immigration entry


Responding to Mitt Romney's attacks on Rudy Giuliani for allegedly harboring illegals as New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg swung back -- but more for the immigrants than for his predecessor.
When asked about the comments in Manhattan today, Bloomberg said, "Boy, let 'em come." He went on to say, "This city and this country were built by immigrants. Thrive on immigrants. And without more immigrants we don’t have a future."
***Looking at what Romney said, it was clearly an attack on what he perceived as Giuliani's handling of things -- and not New York or immigrants (Romney's not completely casting off his cross-over appeal to Blue State voters). How far the questioner went would be interesting to know. The New York Observer says Bloomberg was "asked about the comments." If Bloomberg was egged on -- for example, asked about his policy on immigrants -- his answer is understandable.

If not, he is yet again interjecting himself in the 2008 presidential race.

*** Romney is labeling New York and other places "sanctuary cities" and threatening to cut off their federal funds if they don't do more to curtail illegal immigration.

Monday's reads

'The Mark of Rove' - Paul A. Gigot - The Wall Street Journal.
"I just think it's time," he says, adding that he first floated the idea of leaving to Mr. Bush a year ago. His friends confirm he had been talking about it with others even earlier. But Democrats took Congress, and he didn't want to depart on that sour note. He then thought he'd leave after the State of the Union, but the Iraq and immigration fights beckoned. Finally, Chief of Staff Josh Bolten told senior White House aides that if they stayed past a certain point, they were obliged to remain to Jan. 20, 2009.
'Above the Fray' - Ryan Lizza - GQ.
Now Obama’s pollsters were finding alarming evidence that their candidate was vulnerable to the same phenomenon. When they compared the percentage of Democrats who said they strongly approved of Obama with the percentage who said they would vote for him, they found that the latter number was significantly lower than the former. Inside the campaign, aides dubbed this “the Gap.” It was a sobering, hard number that quantified the difference between vague enthusiasm and actual votes. For Hillary Clinton, the gap is much smaller. The majority of voters who strongly approve of her also say they will vote for her.
'Democrats quietly fear a backlash from Clinton' - Ron Fournier - Associated Press.
In more than 40 interviews, Democratic candidates, consultants and party chairs from every region pointed to internal polls that give Clinton strikingly high unfavorable ratings in places with key congressional and state races.

Voter ID

Some observers have pointed out that only 14,000 voters turned out for this weekend's Ames Strawpoll -- a steep drop-off from participation in its last competitive races. Most have attributed the decline to Giuliani, Thompson and McCain not taking part, or to a lack of enthusiasm in the GOP. But MSNBC's First Read credits a stricter policy of ID enforcement.
Also, don't get carried away on turnout -- the Iowa GOP did a much better job of checking for Iowa IDs than in years past.

Aug 12, 2007

Packer: 'Fogosphere'

Last week, George Packer took a look at the liberal and conservative blogs' reactions to the O'Hanlon/Pollack op-ed and The New Republic's 'Baghdad Diarist.' He sums up the online discourse like this:
These controversies are about many things—above all, about the conservative movement and liberal counter-movement that have defined American politics over the past quarter century—but they aren’t really about Iraq.

Sunday's reads

'Fight Less, Win More' - Nathaniel Fick - The Washington Post.
I told the students to list the top three targets they would aim for if they were leading forces in Zabul province, a Taliban stronghold. When I asked a U.S. officer to share his list, he rattled off the names of three senior Taliban leaders to be captured or killed. Then I turned and asked an Afghan officer the same question. "First we must target the local councils to see how we can best help them," he replied. "Then we must target the local mullahs to find out their needs and let them know we respect their authority." Exactly. In counterinsurgency warfare, targeting is more about whom you bring in than whom you take out.
'Romney Iowa Victory Not Impressive "By Any Standard"' - Thomas B. Edsall - The Huffington Post.
Romney's margin over a collection of underfunded second and third tier challengers barely matched or fell short of past winners in much tougher battles involving multiple heavyweight candidates.
'No, It Wouldn’t Happen. Couldn’t. No Way.' - Patrick Healy - The New York Times.
Mrs. Clinton may come off as the student government president, at peace with Robert’s Rules of Order. But she likes it when the battle is joined, and Mr. Giuliani might push her to show that she would fight back as president, that she would never allow herself to be Swift-boated.

Someone else

Noam Schieber of The New Republic on the Ames Strawpoll.
Huckabee spent exactly zero resources busing in supporters and still managed 18 percent of the vote. The other two campaigns bought hundreds, if not thousands, more straw-poll tickets than the number of votes they received. (Straw poll attendees must obtain a $35-ticket in order to vote. Campaigns typically buy them up and distribute them to supporters.) Huckabee bought around 1800 tickets and received almost 2600 votes. Clearly, Romney and Brownback dropped a lot of cash on people who ended up voting for someone else, and that someone else was probably Huckabee.

"A hollow victory"

Iowa political journalist David Yepsen called Mitt Romney's Ames Strawpoll win, "a hollow victory."
Mitt Romney may have won the Iowa GOP straw poll Saturday in Ames but it was a bit of a hollow victory. That’s a sign he may not be the prohibitive front runner in Iowa after all.
Yepsen also quotes one "Republican Strategist" telling him, "[I]n 1999, Democrats were suffering from Clinton fatigue. Now, we're suffering from Bush fatigue."

Aug 11, 2007

Unofficial Ames results

Marc Ambinder has the unofficial results.

Romney wins with 31% and a paltry 4,516 votes -- far under his campaign's predictions. Huckabee placed second with 18.1% with 2587, but not too far ahead of Brownback (15.3%) and Tancredo (13.7%). Don't expect any of them to drop out yet.

Ron Paul (9.1%) will continue to raise eyebrows and Tommy Thompson (7.3%) will almost certainly drop his bid now.

Romney's bad day

A voting machine malfunction is delaying the official results of the Ames Republican Strawpoll, but if reports of turnout is accurate, only 14,000 Iowans took part. This would mean Mitt Romney's campaign delivered far fewer than the 20 to 25,000 Romney votes they expected. After all the money and hype, Ames could wind up a big defeat for Mitt Romney -- even if he wins comfortably.

It brings to mind LBJ's campaign predictions in the 1968 New Hampshire primary, though less consequential.

Word usage

From Joshua Green's article on Rove in The Atlantic.
In Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, the historian William E. Leuchtenburg notes that Roosevelt mentioned the Democratic Party by name only three times in his entire 1936 reelection campaign. Throughout his presidency, Roosevelt had large Democratic majorities in Congress but operated in a nonpartisan fashion, as though he didn’t. Bush, with razor-thin majorities—and for a time, a divided Congress—operated as though his margins were insurmountable, and sowed interparty divisions as an electoral strategy.
Roosevelt's position brought to mind this post Jerome Armstrong did listing the Dem 2008 candidates' use of the terms' Democrat,' 'Democratic' and 'Progressive' in their campaign emails.

Aug 10, 2007

Clinton '08 as Bush '00

The Politico's Elizabeth Wilner argues that the Clinton 2008 campaign in many ways emulates the Bush 2000 campaign. New York Magazine's 'Hillary Control' made a similar case earlier this week, though in less certain language.

Yet Hillary does not have the mega-hold on key endorsements that Bush had in 2000 -- like those of 29 of 30 Republican governors that kept his head above water after defeats in the early contests.

Kennedy's call

Chris Dodd called for the reform of No Child Left Behind earlier today, as opposed to the rest of the Democratic field who would scrap it.

I wonder what Ted Kennedy will have to say about this.

DLC follow-up

Here's DLC Chair Harold Ford, Jr., speaking about the Democratic presidential candidates in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
They'll find their way back to the middle. And if they don't, they won't win.
Huh? What makes Harold Ford think it's the Democrats who are out of the mainstream?

Friday's reads

The Atlantic edition.

'Present at the Creation' - Matthew Scully - The Atlantic.
There had been a September 13, 2001, Oval Office meeting attended by adviser Karen Hughes and three speechwriters—Mike, John McConnell, and me. Early in the meeting President Bush said to us, “We’re at war”—an exact quote, and not the sort of moment easily forgotten. In The Washington Post account, however, the rest of us have vanished, and the president declares, “Mike, we’re at war.”
'The Rove Presidency' - Joshua Green - The Atlantic.
But within a year the administration was crumbling. Social Security had gone nowhere. Hurricane Katrina, the worsening war in Iraq, and the disastrous nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court shattered the illusion of stern competence that had helped reelect Bush. What surprised everybody was how suddenly it happened; for a while, many devotees of the Cult of Rove seemed not to accept that it had.
'AMES: The Subplots' - Marc Ambinder - The Atlantic Online.
5. Romney v. Brownback -- Romney has finally begun to skirmish with Brownback on the margins, much to Brownback's delight and probably to Romney's chagrin. Have any of Brownback's criticism made a dent in Romney's support? If so, how will we know?

Shrum's allegations

Last night in the HRC/LOGO Forum, John Edwards was asked about the alleged "I'm not comfortable around those people" statement recalled in Bob Shrum's No Excuses, widely reported as it was one of the main teasers during the book's promotion.

But why wasn't Hillary Clinton asked about Shrum's contention -- made in the very same book -- that her husband urged John Kerry to come out in support of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage during the 2004 campaign?

Edwards denied Shrum's account last night, as he had many times before. A Bill Clinton spokesman has also disputed Shrum, as John Aravosis investigated the allegation.

True, Hillary is not Bill, though he is her chief political adviser. This Shrum allegation is more than some feeling expressed in a conversation; it was political advice to a candidate for president -- the very position she is in today.

Besides, Shrum's book was a worthy enough source for an Edwards question. Hillary should have been called to account for what Shrum said, too.

Important question

John Edwards' campaign posted this video from Monday night's AFL-CIO debate.

Aug 9, 2007

Democrats regret

Three candidates expressed regrets for their records on gay rights at the Human Rights Campaign/LOGO presidential forum.
  1. John Edwards regrets saying that his religion is the reason he opposes marriage equality.
  2. Bill Richardson regrets voting for the Defense of Marriage Act.
  3. Hillary Clinton regrets not immediately disagreeing with General Peter Pace's calling homosexuality "immoral."

Romney reconsiders?

The Politico's Anne Schroder caught this quote during discussion of a 'Romney Girls' video, emphasis added.
Mitt Romney and his wife were on "Fox & Friends" this morning talking about the video. Romney said: "There's nothing like getting a good spot on YouTube."
So will he or won't he be attending the Republican CNN/YouTube debate?

Thursday's reads

'He Lived to Tell the Tale (and Write a Best Seller)' - Motoko Rich - The New York Times.
Unlike Pat Tillman or Jessica Lynch, Mr. Luttrell was not a soldier whose name had been widely reported in the news media. Until he was released from the Navy, he was not permitted to do any publicity for the book, which went on sale June 12.
'Race to be first unsettles campaign' - Roger Simon - The Politico.
New Hampshire wishes to protect its First Primary in the Nation status (which is complicated by the fact that it will allow no other contest — primary or caucus — to go before it other than Iowa. It allows Iowa to do this through tradition, but that door is now closed and New Hampshire says no other state can apply.)
'AMES: Not So Fast, Sen. McCain' - Marc Ambinder - The Atlantic Online.
We know Sen. John McCain won't show at Ames, but this morning, Mr. McCain took his skedaddling one step further: he claims he never intended to participate in the straw poll. Well, his former campaign manager, Terry Nelson, and former chief strategist, John Weaver, would disagree.

Baroni's diet plan

Hats off to New Jersey Assemblyman and candidate for State Senate, Bill Baroni. Not only has this Republican won in a Democratic-majority legislative district and been touted as the future of New Jersey's embattled GOP, but he's gotten himself a healthier lifestyle -- and an ad campaign.

The ad is online at The New York Observer. Does the use of a candidate for office raise a political conflict for Duke Diet or the sites airing it? Does the use of his image count as a political expenditure or contribution? Probably not, since Baroni appears only as "Bill B." in the ad and on the site.

Baroni's district is one of three taking part in New Jersey's new Fair and Clean Elections Pilot Project meant to curtail the influence of money on state government, so his campaign finances are under intense scrutiny this year. But knowing Baroni, he probably cleared this with state election law authorities well in advance.

Gaffe politics

Josh Marshall says the theory of "bitch-slap politics" has shaped Obama's response to his Democratic opponents on striking within Pakistan.
The key is that they get him to concede that in the complex and serious world of foreign policy big-think, where words have consequences, he made an error. Of course, it's almost good enough if most observers decide that Obama screwed up. But once he concedes it himself, if he does, he stipulates from now through the end of the Democratic primary campaign that his inexperience in foreign policy is a basic premise of the campaign upon which the battle between him and Hillary will be waged. He can learn, improve, make progress, whatever, but his inexperience compared to Hillary will continue to be the reference point throughout.

Retirement predictions

Reid Wilson makes some retirement predictions over at Real Clear Politics.
The year after losing the majority, retirements from members of the new minority are common. In 1996, 28 Democrats decided against running for a second term, about twice the average rate. This year, some political watchers expect a dozen or more Republicans to announce their retirements. Those who would call it quits generally fit into one of three categories.

Criticism cut

The Chicago Tribune reports that a portion of Pearl Jam's set at Sunday's Lollapalooza Festival was cut from the concert's internet simulcast when vocalist Eddie Vedder altered lyrics to criticize President Bush.
The performance, sponsored by AT&T Inc. and carried on A&T's "Blue Room" site, omitted the lyrics "George Bush, leave this world alone" and "George Bush, find yourself another home" as part of a version of the song "Daughter," according to the Pearl Jam Web site.
An AT&T spokesperson called it a mistake made by someone working for an agency contracted by the company. Pearl Jam released a statement saying it "troubles us as artists, but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media."

Aug 8, 2007

DLC's decline

Noam Scheiber replies to DLC criticisms of his New York Times op-ed last month.
The DLC says it's a mistake to read too much into the decision by the Democratic presidential field to skip its "National Conversation" this year, pointing out that Al Gore skipped the event in 1999 and that the major presidential candidates also sat it out in 2003.... Perhaps a more useful benchmark is the number of likely candidates who attend its convention two years out.

By that benchmark, the DLC still appears to be in decline. As my former colleague Ryan Lizza pointed out earlier this year, "In 2002, the National Conversation was a major stop for anyone testing the waters for 2004. Lieberman, Bayh, Daschle, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Mark Warner, John Edwards, and Dick Gephardt were all there."
Scheiber goes on to list some symptoms of the the DLC's downfall, one of the best points being about how the Democratic Party has changed so much since the organization's founding in 1985.
[T]he interest-group structure that was responsible for some of the party's excesses in the 1970s and '80s has been largely dismantled.... For example, it leaves From at a loss to explain why the netroots--which he seems to regard as a kind liberal uber-interest group--would support relatively conservative candidates in conservative districts and more liberal candidates in liberal districts. Traditional interest groups aren't nearly so flexible.

Edwards rebuffed

Yesterdy, John Edwards came under fire from Joe Biden's campaign today for inauthenticity. Biden adviser Larry Rasky said, "It seems like he has decided to play Howard Dean in this election," and "Sooner or later they will look at your record" (among other things).

And Edwards was quickly rebuffed for this jab at Hillary Clinton last night:
You will never see a picture of me on the front of Fortune magazine saying 'I am the candidate that big corporate America is betting on.'
Within three hours, The Huffington Post reminded Edwards of his 2002 speech to the "Fortune Global Forum" -- an event "limited to the chairmen, CEOs, and presidents of major multinational corporations."

Wednesday's reads

'Forget the States — Let the Regions Pick the Candidates' - Bob Graham - The New York Times.
In our new political environment, Iowa and New Hampshire are unlikely to reclaim the role they once played in screening our future presidents. Too many other states are eager to influence the process, too.
'Hillary Control' - Michelle Cottle - New York.
Quirky, let-it-all-hang-out romps like John McCain’s straight-talking quest for the Republican nomination in 2000 may be charming, but tight-lipped, brutally disciplined efforts like George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 runs are the stuff of which legends—and presidents—are made.
'Voters as Props' - The Museum of the Moving Image - SlateV.

Aug 7, 2007

Old Guard versus New

Chuck Todd frames tonight's AFL-CIO debate as a clash between "the old guard of Washington" -- Clinton, Biden and Dodd -- versus Obama and Edwards.
It's a fascinating dynamic that I think is developing in this primary. But how long can Edwards and Obama be allies and how comfortable will Dodd and Biden be carrying Clinton's water?
Meanwhile, "Richardson is going to be the under-the-radar candidate; it's obvious; he's not getting involved in the bashing of Obama, Edwards and Clinton and that could pay dividends in Iowa."

Post-debate plans

Marc Ambinder reports that Bill Richardson is attending a private, post-debate dinner with Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Firefighters, while Barack Obama is having a private reception with "union officials."

Bacevich on Petraeus

Andrew J. Bacevich writes about the General David Petraeus' plans for Iraq in The New Republic.
Among his favorite axioms is this: "Any army of liberation has a certain half-life before it becomes an army of occupation." Petraeus made this comment repeatedly to reporters in 2003 and 2004. He reiterated the point in a 2006 article summarizing his own lessons from Iraq. The point is not without wisdom. It also possesses immediate relevance to matters at hand. Somewhat coyly, Petraeus has never specified the duration of this half-life. Yet this much is certain: The moment when Americans might have persuaded Iraqis to embrace them as liberators has long since passed.

Axelrod says Obama competes in the South

Last week, National Journal's Linda Douglass interviewed Obama advisor David Axelrod.
Q: What state do you see Obama winning that John Kerry did not?

Axelrod: I think he can and will win every state that Senator Kerry did. I think there are other states that he will win, starting with Ohio. But I think he will put other states in play that no other [Democrat] can put in play. There is no doubt that the energy and enthusiasm in the African-American community will give us a chance in some Southern states where there is a high number of African-American voters, and some who are not necessarily registered to vote. We can increase that registration, we can increase that turnout, and put those states in play.

Tuesday's reads

'"How dumb can they be?"' - Rick Perlstein - The Big Con.
That's what Minnesota's Republican governor said to anti-tax activists at the 2005 ceremony in which he scuttled the 2005 transportation bill. The "they" he referred to was conscientious lawmakers who tried to pass an increase in the gas tax to be devoted to things like fixing highways and, not incidentally, bridges. The ceremony even featured one of those giant prop "VETO" stamps.
'Clinton aide's PR firm is under attack' - Peter Nicholas - The Los Angeles Times.
"Learning that Mark Penn was CEO of a company that in fact conducts some of its business busting unions was very, very problematic to the AFL-CIO, as well as to many other unions, and we made that clear" to the Clinton campaign, said Karen Ackerman, AFL-CIO political director. "This is an issue that continues."
'New Kingmaker: Vegas's Mr. Kihuen Will See You Now' - Miriam Jordan - The Wall Street Journal.
Nevada state assemblyman Ruben Kihuen, a 27-year-old Mexican immigrant, is barely known outside his Las Vegas district. But he is being hotly pursued by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and the other contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination....

Mr. Kihuen, who clinched 61% of the 1,900 votes, beat both the incumbent and another Democratic candidate and won the election without a runoff. In the race he lost 15 pounds and wore out two pairs of dress shoes, but he tripled the expected Hispanic turnout in the district to 750 voters. Mr. Obama recently praised that achievement, Mr. Kihuen says, in a private meeting.

Aug 6, 2007

Corzine bets on capital markets

Responding to Republicans charges to Democrats' revoking hedge-fund managers' special tax treatment will hurt capital markets, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine told the Wall Street Journal, "I'll take that bet." The former chairman of Goldman Sachs pointed out,
Most hedge-fund executives privately concede "carried interest" should be taxed as ordinary income, he adds in an interview, and consider the current capital-gains break "found money" they hadn't planned on until tax accountants pointed it out.

Monday's reads

'The Clinton-Kerry Alliance' - Patrick Healy - The New York Times.
Mr. Kerry has "a certain credibility on Iraq right now," given that his June 2006 Senate amendment to withdraw troops in a year – which Mrs. Clinton and many others opposed at the time – has now been embraced by many Democrats, including Mrs. Clinton....

For Mr. Kerry, meanwhile, being a player again has its own rehabilitative power. There is nothing like standing next to a Clinton to bring you into a spotlight. As the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, Mr. Kerry came to relish that spotlight after years spent in the sometimes overwhelming shadow of his state's senior senator, Edward M. Kennedy.
'Behind an Anti-Spitzer Site, an Ally of Roger Stone' - Azi Paybarah - The New York Observer.
As for the notion that he’s doing the dirty of Stone, who is currently working as a paid advisor to the state Senate Republicans, Caputo said, "I don't work for free. Ever. I never have. If I’m doing Roger’s dirty work, a check is well overdue."
'Obama Campaign: National Polls Are Bunk, Please Ignore Them' - Greg Sargent - TPMCafe.
The national press continues to be obsessed about national primary polling, but as we outlined in the last memo, we fundamentally reject the importance of these national primary polls. This is a sequential process that begins in Iowa and carries through the calendar. If national polls were affecting our ability to grow the campaign, perhaps we would pay them some attention. But they have not, so we don’t.

Richardson on King on Richardson

Bill Richardson, mentioned Republican Congressman Steve King while campaigning yesterday in Sioux City, Iowa.
"I think he wants to deport me."
Richardson went on to point out that he is California-born.

Bloomberg's day in court

The New York Times' metro blog City Room chronicled Mayor Michael Bloomberg's first day of jury duty, in which he was dismissed as a potential juror in an asbestos case.

During the review of prospective jurors when an attorney came upon Bloomberg."Mr. Mayor, how are you?" ... "Don't have to ask much. Your life is an open book."
Mr. Long asked whether jurors might give the mayor special leeway because of his position. The mayor replied, "I'm one voice out of six, but I have a strong personality. You'd have to ask them."

Shadow race to be anti-Giuliani

With all the recent Republican mud-slinging over religion, Michelle Cottle of The New Republic notices the one candidate whose shirt is impeccably clean: Rudy Giuliani.

Cottle suggests the lack of attacks on Giuliani's religion indicates that the other candidates are waiting for the candidacy of "the serially unfaithful, thrice-wed, pro-gay, proudly pro-choice New Yorker" to fizzle with conservative caucus and primary voters. Convinced of the inevitability of Rudy's demise but unsure of when it will happen, '08 Republicans are working harder at becoming the anti-Giuliani candidate than beating the current Republican frontrunner.

Religion is one of the few openings they have.
Unfortunately for the competition, there just aren't that many red meat issues by which to starkly distinguish oneself from the pack. Most everyone in this group (thanks to a few strategic adjustments by Mitt in recent years) opposes abortion and gay marriage, loves guns, and cannot wait to round up America's 12 million illegal immigrants and send them home in cattle cars. As for the war on terrorism, it's hard to get to the right of Rudy, whose entire candidacy is based on his swaggering machismo and endless reminders that he is the Big Dog who helped New York survive 9/11.

Real hostile rhetoric

Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo re-asserted his strong consideration for a policy of blowing up Muslim holy sites to deter terrorist attacks on America.

Edwards: 'Transform'

As a part of his statement to the YearlyKos convention, John Edwards made a strong appeal against taking lobbyists' money.

His campaign is seizing upon the strong response and will use this issue throughout the week to show how his campaign will transform the Democratic Party.

Hillary's health care lessons

At YearlyKos, Hillary Clinton was asked what she learned from the 1994 health care battle. Ezra Klein surmises.
1) It's not enough to have a plan, you need to have a political strategy, too.

2) It's imperative that as we go forward we put together a coalition of as many groups who'll be affected -- doctors nurses, hospital administrators, etc -- as possible, and steel them to withstand the incredible blowback we'll get from the drug companies and insurers. In other words, you need a proactive, sympathetic coalition able to create a counterweight to industry forces.

3) I learned a lot about the tactical end of things. I don't have the time in 90 seconds to tell you of all the mistakes I made, but being in the Senate has taught me an enormous amount about how to marry my proposal with the process. This will be my highest domestic priority.

Aug 5, 2007

From's 'silly fights'

Time columnist Joe Klein wrote about Al From and the DLC this week, joining the 'DLC is radioactive' pile-on but pretty much on point. "From is a moderate who acts like an extremist," writes Klein.

When Klein said From picked "silly fights" (i.e. calling Al Gore "too liberal" after the 2000 election or the relentless criticism of Howard Dean in 2003), Ed Kigore responded,
What I actually recall saying to Joe [Klein] in our conversation at the DLC event is that the fight over Dean (arguably just a standard-brand nominating season fight) did indeed lead to a demonization of the DLC among many elements of the netroots, fed in part by occasional but provocative DLC quotes comparing the Doctor to McGovern and Mondale, which were not intended as compliments. More importantly, the fracas helped soldify a netroots stereotype of the DLC as an essential--perhaps the essential--part of the DC Democratic Establishment, which completely submerged the DLC's past history as party outsiders, and continuing focus on non-Beltway elected officials, as reflected in the entire eleven-year history of the DLC's annual meeting. I also told Joe that unexpressed hostility to Bill Clinton, and expressed hostility to Hillary Clinton, was a motivating factor for some DLC-haters in the party, who invariably identify the DLC with Dick Morris' infinitely unfortunate term, "triangulation."

Sunday's reads

'The Abu Ghraib whistleblower's ordeal' - Dawn Bryan - BBC News.
When the accused soldiers were finally removed from the base, he thought his troubles were over.

And then he was sitting in a crowded Iraqi canteen with hundreds of soldiers and Donald Rumsfeld came on the television to thank Joe Darby by name for handing in the photographs.

"I don't think it was an accident because those things are pretty much scripted," Mr Darby says.
'TPMtv: YearlyKos Full Coverage' - Talking Points Memo.

'Wesley Clark to Bush: "Stop Hiding Behind David Petraeus!"' - Steven Clemons - The Washington Note.
It's probably late in the day for Wesley Clark to get into the race, but the various Democratic presidential competitors would find it well worth their time to learn from Clark who can both get beyond vapid, binary responses on foreign policy issues and still give a straight answer.

Romney flip flops on an attack

On this morning's Republican Presidential Debate, moderated by George Stephanopoulos, Mitt Romney suggested he has changed his position from March attacking Rudy Giuliani for being pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and anti-gun.

Aug 3, 2007

Vodafone off Facebook

Vodafone pulled all its ads from after they appeared next to those of the right-wing British Nationalist Party. A spokeswoman said this conflicted with the company's policy "that we do not make political donations or support particular party political interests."

The Guardian Unlimited speculates
The move may affect other advertisers on Facebook by highlighting a current lack of control over where the multimillion page network places their bookings. It is also likely to lead to refinements in the saturation advertising approach of some firms to currently popular websites.
With many US firms placing ads that may appear next to those of a range of political parties and candidates (not to mention appearing on their profile pages), if Facebook continues the current random placement policy, rival campaigns may try to stir up controversy.

Whitman: YouTube or die

Former New Jersey Governor Christine Whitman blogs at Politics NJ that Republican presidential candidates will forfeit support of young voters – who are tending Democratic – if they don't speak their language.
Bailing on the upcoming YouTube/CNN debate – a format designed specifically for young voters – is a big mistake.

Aug 2, 2007

More attack, more attention

Here's a link to First Read, but several outlets (soon all) are talking about Chris Dodd and now Joe Biden jumping into the fray.

Thursday's reads

'Obama and That Nuke Story' - Mark Murray - First Read.
The story made the usual political rounds -- it was posted on Drudge and news blogs. The news? That Obama would NEVER use nuclear weapons as president. The problem, though, was that the story wasn't entirely correct. It left out the fact that Obama was talking about his speech yesterday about Pakistan and Afghanistan.
'Reid: Bridge collapse is ‘wake-up call'' - Martin Kady II - The Politico.
Later, Reid and other Democratic leaders went a step further, bashing Republicans for failing to pass a water resources and development act, known as WRDA on Capitol Hill, for seven years, saying that the bill was essential to investing in American infrastructure.
'Baby, You Dropped Obama on Me' - Jonathan Chait - The Plank.
This is a fascinating reaction. In fact, plenty of serious people favored the 2005 operation--as the Times article makes clear, they included senior military officials and CIA Director Porter Goss.

Attack attention

In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, second tier candidates have finally drawn some attention -- for relentlessly attacking each other.

Leaving the frontrunners Giuliani, Romney, and McCain to squabble amongst themselves, Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee are going at it. Early this week, a Huckabee surrogate derided Brownback for converting to Catholicism. The two campaigns have traded barbs, and now the Club For Growth is attacking Huckabee with an ad in Iowa.

Full page praise

CNN took out a full page ad in today's New York Times to run praise for it's Democratic YouTube debate -- the "most-watched presidential primary debate in cable news history among adults 18 - 34."

It closes, "Up next: The CNN YouTube Republican Debate."

We hope.

Obama's breaks

For anyone who's been criticized for opposing Hillary Clinton because they're too liberal, Thomas B. Edsall has a must read on Obama's breaks with the Democratic orthodoxy.
Barack Obama's August 1 speech outlining an aggressive anti-terrorist policy is part of the Illinois Senator's larger campaign strategy, demonstrating his willingness to break from liberal orthodoxy -- defying teachers' unions, proponents of racially based affirmative action, and Democratic constituencies wary of the use of force.

Aug 1, 2007

History of the Hold

Carl Hulse of The New York Times delves into the history of the hold -- "allowing senators to block legislation and nominations anonymously" -- whose anonymity is now being threatened.
Donald A. Ritchie, the associate Senate historian, says the modern use of the hold began in the 1950s under the leadership of Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, who increased the use of unanimous consent agreements to bring more order to the Senate. Holds were initially allowed as a courtesy to senators who needed more time to get to the chamber to object in person, read the bill or try to negotiate changes with the sponsor.

But their use has proliferated and intensified to the point where lawmakers employ them not only to lodge substantive objections to legislation, but also to stall nominations and bills routinely in retaliation for other actions or to win concessions. Though leaders can break a hold with a 60-vote majority, they have often been reluctant to do so out of respect for the tradition — and the chance they might want to impose a hold of their own some day.

McCain's downfall

Michael Scherer captures Senator Bob Bennett's (R - UT) take on McCain's initial rise and subsequent fall.
"John McCain's people came into Utah and they said, You may not like John McCain, indeed you may hate John McCain -- doesn't make any difference," Bennett said. "Here is a poll that shows that John McCain can beat Hillary Clinton." But Bennett said that strategy only worked until former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani arrived on the scene. "Giuliani got in, and what's the first thing that the Giuliani campaign put out? A poll that shows Giuliani beating Hillary Clinton by a bigger margin."

Wednesday's reads

'Votescam' - Hendrik Hertzberg - The New Yorker.
Two weeks ago, one of the most important Republican lawyers in Sacramento quietly filed a ballot initiative that would end the practice of granting all fifty-five of California’s electoral votes to the statewide winner. Instead, it would award two of them to the statewide winner and the rest, one by one, to the winner in each congressional district. Nineteen of the fifty-three districts are represented by Republicans, but Bush carried twenty-two districts in 2004.
'Family Business' - Christopher Orr - The Plank.
The Romney campaign even seems to recognize what a ridiculously fraudulent family gathering this is, given that half the video is spent rebutting the obvious arguments against making the video in the first place.
'Obama on Terrorism:The Experts Weigh In' - Washington Post Staff - The Trail.
Today, in a speech billed as a "comprehensive strategy to fight global terrorism," Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) spoke about the U.S. relationship with Pakistan, removing troops from Iraq and increasing efforts against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Below, experts in the field of terrorism and foreign policy assess Obama's take on what he called "The War We Need to Win."

Republican narrative

Jason Horowitz of The New York Observer profiles Clinton pollster Mark Penn, in which Penn espouses Barack Obama's campaign is desperate.
“Gosh, you would really need to do a lot of groundwork before you would agree to meet with somebody like Ahmadinejad, who has even denied the Holocaust,” Mr. Penn said in a voice so soft that his barb almost seemed sweet.

Mr. Obama’s campaign, he said, had revealed “some level of desperation about not having moved in the polls. And frankly a lot of people have given them the advice ‘oh, just go ahead and get her.’ And so he’ll see whether or not that is more successful than going forward with his policy ideas and the new politics, which is where he started.”
Besides the fact that Obama's team doesn't seem too distressed by national polls, sending out your top surrogates to tell everyone your opponent wants to meet with a Holocaust denier seems a lot more desperate to me.

TPM calls out NYT

Tonight, Talking Points Memo called out some New York Times reporters for not sourcing their work in an article about Senator Lisa Murkowski's shady land deal.

Can't say he didn't warn them.

Jul 31, 2007

Whitman hatchet job

Former Governor Christine Todd Whitman mimics Mitt Romney's out-of-context attacks on Barack Obama at Politics NJ, calling him "far-left" and engaging in "extremism."

As evidence, she cites Obama's support of ""age-appropriate sexual education" for students in kindergarten" -- so Whitman is saying she's taking the extremist position against teaching kids about inappropriate touching and that they should tell a trusted adult if it happens. She chides him for agreeing to "engage in negotiations with dictators like Kim Jong-Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Hugo Chavez" -- so she's taking the extremist position and following the Bush precedent of anti-diplomacy.

"Further," Whitman writes, "he said he would walk the picket line with strikers as President." Yeah, what a whacko.

Clinton disappointment

Read Sullivan's excellent 'Clinton, Obama and Fear.'

Confidence in McCain

According to the Gallup Poll, the public is just as confident in John McCain's ability to handle Iraq as Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Speaker's non-answer on impeachment

Though Ari Berman and Rick Perlstein read Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments on impeachment as opposition, it seems more non-committal than anything else.

Berman quotes,
"The question of impeachment is something that would divide the country," Pelosi said this morning during a wide-ranging discussion in the ornate Speaker's office. Her top priorities are ending the war in Iraq, expanding health care, creating jobs and preserving the environment. "I know what our success can be on those issues. I don't know what our success can be on impeaching the president."
He also notes she said she "would probably advocate" impeachment of Bush and other administration officials if she were not a member of the House, but feels that it the process would slow the progressive agenda she's trying to push through.

GOP YouTube debate

Two items gleaned from Jose Antonio Vargas in The Trail on blowback from Republicans' refusal to the YouTube debate.

First, the base is not pleased (as predicted).

Second, refuting Joe Klein's "the general skew of the YouTube audience leeward."
YouTubers -- who, according to a study by comScore, which tracks Web audience, lean more Republican than Democrat. (Michael Bassik over at techpresident writes: "Specifically, there are 3.3 million self-identified Republicans on the user-generated video site versus 3.1 million Democrats. (An additional 5 million consider themselves independent.)"

Tuesday's reads

'Remembering the 1967 Riot That Wasn't' - Kevin Coyne - The New York Times.
So harrowing was the violence that summer that President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, more familiarly known as the Kerner Commission, whose 600-page report is a catalog of flummoxed officials, poor decisions, inaction, overreaction, prejudice and miscommunication. Among its few heroes is Patricia Sheehan, whose leadership, the report concluded, was “decisive in avoiding a major confrontation.”
'Giuliani Backs Hillary — and He Matches' - Jada Yuan - Daily Intelligencer.
"As I understood [Obama's] statement, he’s either going to invite to Washington or meet somewhere else the head of Cuba, who would be Castro, and the head of Iran, who is Ahmadinejad. That’s quite a crew. I don’t know that I would want to meet with them. Some people you just don’t meet with if they’re going to use that to propagate their own propaganda. I thought Hillary Clinton was on the right side of that."
'Snowman Video In YouTube Debate Chills Some Politicos' - Amy Schatz - The Wall Street Journal.
Republican Internet consultants are sputtering with disbelief. "With all of the challenges we're facing next year, the last thing we need to do is snub a medium that millions are embracing," says Patrick Ruffini, a blogger and former Internet consultant for Mr. Giuliani.

Clyburn endorsement far off

Yesterday, Rep. James Clyburn (D - SC) said that while he'll "be looking at things in December," if the Democratic presidential race maintains its current course, he "probably won't endorse."

Clyburn is the highest ranking African American in House leadership from a state where as much as 50% of the Democratic primary voters will be black. In 2004, he endorsed Senator John Kerry, though the black vote was largely divided.

(Via Marc Ambinder)

Obama & the Harlem Children's Zone

The New York Times' David Brooks writes about Edwards and Obama's approaches to poverty reduction. Edwards favors housing vouchers (Ed Kilgore knocked him for this, a bit). Brooks continues
Obama, by contrast, builds his approach around the Harlem Children’s Zone, what he calls “an all-encompassing, all-hands-on-deck anti-poverty effort.” The zone takes an area in Harlem and saturates it with childcare, marriage counseling, charter schools and job counselors and everything else you can think of. Obama says he’ll start by replicating the program in 20 cities around the country.
For the amazing story of the Harlem's Children Zone, read Paul Tough's 2004 article in The New York Times Magazine

Jul 30, 2007

Trippi for Buckey

Out of nowhere at MyDD, Joe Trippi endorses Dartmouth professor and former astronaut Jay Buckey for U.S. Senate.
While I admire the other Democratic candidates, I wonder if Jay may be more adept at helping to solve our problems than those that have spent their years running for political office.
Buckey was not a Howard Dean supporter in the 2004 New Hampshire primary -- he backed Wes Clark instead. Perhaps the endorsement stems from Trippi's fascination with aeronautics, which he wrote about in his 2004 memoir, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

Next year

The DLC's Marc Dunkelman says, 'See you next year,' to the Democratic presidential candidates (via The Democratic Strategist)
In 1999, eight years ago, Al Gore did not attend the DLC’s national conversation. A year later, he addressed the DLC’s 2000 National Conversation as the Democratic Party’s nominee.

In 2003, four years ago, none of the candidates attended the DLC’s National Conversation. Sure enough, the next year, the Democrat’s standard bearer, John Kerry, made an appearance.

Skipping Iowa

What's more interesting than Fred Thompson only raising $3 million in June is that he recently said, "August is kind of a down month, not much going on, so it wouldn't make sense to [announce my campaign] in August." Ed Kilgore observes,
That may be true in Washington, but not so much in, say, Iowa, where August features the State Republican Party's big Straw Poll (which Thompson apparently won't contest), not to mention the Iowa State Fair, where presidential candidates will be so thick on the ground that you won't be able to stir them with a stick. Indeed, Thompson's "not much going on" dismissal of the opportunity to eat corn dogs and deep-fried twinkies and admire the Butter Cow sculpture is a good sign that he has decided to skip Iowa altogether.
There have been years when a candidate doesn't have to compete in Iowa to win the nomination.; however this is not one of them.

Obama nation

Coming soon to an attack ad near you: part of an e-mail from Barack Obama to CBN's David Brody.
Whatever we once were, we're no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers. We should acknowledge this and realize that when we're formulating policies from the state house to the Senate floor to the White House, we've got to work to translate our reasoning into values that are accessible to every one of our citizens, not just members of our own faith community.
Brody observes, "that's not going to sit well with fundamentalists.... But then again, Obama isn't going after the fundamentalist crowd. It's broader than that."

Monday's reads

'Tillman comrade recalls final moments' - Matthew Mendoza - AP News.
The chaplain told investigators that O'Neal said Tillman was harsh in his last moments, snapping, 'Would you shut your (expletive) mouth? God's not going to help you; you need to do something for yourself, you sniveling ..."

"He never would have called me 'sniveling,'" O'Neal said. "I don't remember ever speaking to this chaplain, and I find this characterization of Pat really upsetting. He never once degraded me. He's the only person I ever worked for who didn't degrade anyone. He wasn't that sort of person."
'Cream of the crop take note' - Ben Smith - The Politico.
Each morning in Washington, D.C., around dawn, three men wake up and concoct their versions of conventional wisdom for an audience of Beltway political professionals and junkies around the
'A War We Just Might Win' - Michael E. O'Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack - The New York Times.
Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

North Carolina's electoral votes

Via Political Wire, North Carolina's House is expected to pass a bill to assign Electoral College votes by congressional district rather than the winner-take-all system, which is in place everywhere except for Maine and Nebraska. The bill almost guarantees that the 2008 Democratic nominee peels off reliably Republican electoral votes, and thus the measure has served as an indicator of party loyalty: not a single GOP legislator supports it, while only a few Democrats are in opposition.

Supporters contend it will cause both national parties to pay North Carolina more attention, while detractors say that even if such a tight race were to occur (one where 3 electoral votes could make the difference), it would only affect a few areas. Frankly, since the bill helps the party of the state's governing majority, it's hard to see it as anything other than partisan.

But on the bright side, its passage could be the dawn of a bi-partisan solution.

Given the impending bill, North Carolina Republicans would definitely prefer a National Popular Vote law, like the one recently signed by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, in which the state pledges its electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote regardless of the in-state winner, only to be enacted when enough states (possessing an Electoral College majority of 270) do the same. That way, the winner of the national popular vote is sure to have enough Electoral College votes to become president.

The latest information shows that all sponsors of the National Popular Vote in North Carolina are Democrats. Don't be surprised if Republicans are soon its most enthusiastic supporters.

Jul 29, 2007

Predecessor-made mayor

Bloomberg: 'It'll be a while before I'm somebody's Giuliani.'

No frills

Sometimes, candidate websites can be intimidating. Lots of graphics, images, information, videos and downloads. Many people lack capable internet connections to handle it all. Some people just don't want to sift through everything.

So, when are other campaigns going to start sites like HillaryHub? It shows you the latest campaign-approved news items, with some opinion and video in a super-friendly, familiar (Drudge) format.

Every campaign, large or small, should follow suit.


The New Republic's Jon Chait on the absolution of Fred Thompson.
The best evidence for this is the equanimity with which conservatives have accepted the news that Thompson once worked as an abortion-rights lobbyist. Milder revelations about Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney were met with howls of outrage. The news that Thompson actively lobbied to weaken abortion restrictions, on the other hand, has been met with a shrug.
The chinks in Reagan's conservative armor were similarly overlooked.

Sunday's reads

'Lieberman's Latest Disaster: Global Warming' - Matt Stoller - Open Left.
Basically this bill sets up a complicated scheme to give away carbon rights to industry, and don't worry, if the price of carbon goes to high, the government ll just let more into the atmosphere. It is, in other words, a fraud, designed not to work.
'Edwards" 'They want to shut me up' - Ben Smith - The Politico.
He doesn't go into detail about who "they" are, other than a reference to people who make $100 million a year, and compares them to the (actual well-funded, conservative) operation that put the Swift Boat ads on air. He also doesn't explain exactly how this corporate-media collaboration works, but his audience seems to be rapt.
'Our War on Terror' - Samantha Powers - The New York Times Book Review.
The effect of such an attitude is not simply that the American military will continue to bear the lion’s share of the national security burden — a burden, the Counterinsurgency Field Manual practically screams out, the military cannot meet alone. It is that the American public, with little faith in the credibility of the government’s claims, may deny even cleareyed leaders the resources they need to meet the complex demands of neutralizing modern threats.

Jul 28, 2007

Continuing the Fifty State Strategy

Read Bob Moser's 'Purple America' in The Nation.

Saturday's reads

'The Centrists Didn't Hold' - Noam Scheiber - The New York Times.
But George W. Bush taught Democrats of all stripes that their differences with one another were minor compared with the differences between them and Republicans. For seven years, Democrats have faced a radical administration that operates in bad faith. Yet there was the Democratic Leadership Council, still arguing that teachers unions endanger the republic.
'Obama Rises in New Era Of Black Politicians' - Alec MacGillis and Perry Bacon Jr. - The Washington Post.
Although Obama (Ill.) has forged a path as the first African American with a serious chance of becoming president, his rise coincides with the emergence of a whole cohort of black politicians who share similar résumés and ideology.
'Two Powerful Men, Two Powerful Egos and a 'Clash of Titans'' - Leslie Eaton - The New York Times.
As shell-shocked New Yorkers know by now, the attorney general released a toughly worded report saying that some of Mr. Spitzer’s top aides tried to use the state police to embarrass Mr. Bruno. In the days since, the report has created new complications for Mr. Cuomo’s already complex and, some say, competitive relationship with the governor — and sparked speculation about his motives.

Jul 27, 2007

Not buying it

Just received a fundraising e-mail from the Clinton campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, with regard to Obama's "Bush/Cheney Light" response to her attack.
Well, I guess this is what Hillary gets for being the strongest, most qualified, the most substantive, the most experienced, the most ready to be president. That's what Hillary has gotten all her career for being willing to fight for change.

Now that the presidential campaign is in full swing, Hillary is under attack from opponents on all sides....
Hillary Clinton cannot play the victim in a Democratic primary.

Friday's reads

'The Anti-Establishment Edwards' - Dan Balz - The Trail.
Edwards's speech was the latest in a series this year designed to lay claim to being the boldest Democrat in the presidential field. He was first out with a universal health care plan. He spent three days last week elevating the issue of poverty to the 2008 agenda. Today he returned to a theme that was central to his first campaign: turning two Americas into one.
'Video Postcript: Hillary Pats Obama On The Head, Says, "Yes, Dear"' - Greg Sargent - TPMCafe.
I'd only add that if we're going to evaluate said substance and conclude that Hillary does in some fashion represent Bush-Cheney lite, it deserves to be mentioned that at the debate Edwards agreed with Hillary here. I'm not at all saying that this necessarily exonerates Hillary -- indeed, she did subsequently go much further in her over-the-top description of Obama as "irresponsible" and "naive." I'm just saying that the fact that Edwards came down on Hillary's side deserves to be part of the discussion, if only because his view of the matter suggests that perhaps there isn't as much daylight between Hillary and Obama's positions as Camp Hillary -- and, now, Camp Obama -- want us to believe.
'Joe Trippi's Renaissance' - Marc Ambinder - The Atlantic Online.
This isn't Hagiography Friday. It's just a rare story of redemption in politics.

Ducking the GOP YouTube Debate

Read More:

Politics as usual

There are two videos sitting prominently atop the HillaryHub, a site paid for by the Clinton campaign. One is of Barack Obama on MSNBC, responding to attacks made on him by Clinton surrogates for agreeing to engage our enemies in a dialogue. The next is Hillary Clinton scolding Barack Obama for taking part in negative 'politics as usual.'

Notice how the Clinton people blurred the Obama video while Clinton's footage is clear and crisp (couldn't have been shoddy film because the MSNBC banner/ticker received the same blur-treatment).

Clinton/Obama spat

Jul 26, 2007

Thursday's reads

'Democratic hopefuls snub moderate group' - Associated Press - MSNBC.
Not a single one of the eight presidential candidates plans to attend the Democratic Leadership Council’s summer meeting, a snub that says less about the centrist DLC than it does about a nomination process that rewards candidates who pander to their parties’ hardened cores while ignoring everybody else.
'No, Really: Giuliani and Romney are Winning' - Steve Kornacki - The New York Observer.
Where only a month or two ago the Republican race featured four co-equal front-runners, there are now two. And while this pecking order could easily shift among the existing candidates (and while there remains a theoretical vacuum for a yet-unnamed white knight to swoop into the race and steal the nomination at the last minute), Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Romney have passed some key early tests of their front-running status.
'The Governors Stay on the Fence' - David S. Broder - The Washington Post.
The governors of both parties are hanging back from making endorsements this cycle. Less than a quarter of the 50 governors have come out of hiding, and the ones that have are keeping pretty quiet about their preferences.

Journalists testifying

NPR caught a great moment during yesterday's hearings of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Among those testifying were Jon Town, a wounded Iraq vet, and journalist Joshua Kors.

In March, Kors wrote an article in The Nation about
doctors working for Veterans Affairs that were "purposely misdiagnosing" wounded veterans "to cheat them out of a lifetime of disability and medical benefits, thereby saving billions in expenses." The story brought national attention to stories like Specialist Town's.

When Kors told the committee that doctors admitted to being pressured by the VA to make these diagnoses yet refuse to go public for fear of reprisal, Rep. Steve Buyer (IN - 4 ), the Ranking Republican and former Chairman, pontificated on why Congress shouldn't allow testimony from journalists. Paul Sullivan of Veterans for Common Sense cut him off.
BUYER: They get to speak in generalities as the major premise and we don’t know how – with the regard to the credibility or embellishments – they get to use innuendo and the results can at times be reckless indictments –

SULLIVAN: Sounds very much like congressmen I know, too.
Listen to it at NPR about two and a half minutes in.

Jul 25, 2007

GOP YouTube Questions

Read Klein's Swampland post.

Wednesday's reads

It's been a busy day.

'Obama models campaign on Reagan revolt' - David Paul Kuhn - The Politico.
"Now, it is blasphemy for Democrats," Obama pollster Cornell Belcher said of Reagan, "but that hope and optimism that was Ronald Reagan" allowed him to "transcend" ideological divisions within his own party and the general electorate.
'The 25 Percent Solution' - Michael Crowley - The Plank.
In addition to approving of George W. Bush's job performance, here are some other things roughly one in four Americans believe.
'$58 Billion Shortfall for New Jersey Retiree Care' - Mary Williams Walsh - The New York Times.
From 1987 through 1994, New Jersey was one of only a handful of governments that went to the trouble of setting aside money for retiree health care. Gov. Christine Todd Whitman stopped the practice the year she took office, along with cutting back on pension contributions.

The official explanation was that inflation in health costs had subsided and that setting aside money could create a bigger reserve than was needed. Also, her administration noted, the Clinton White House was working on a national health plan.

On Democratic nominees & equality

Jul 24, 2007

Biden and Darfur

Certain waters of last night's CNN/YouTube Democratic debate are being tread pretty heavily. Others less so.

Steve Clemons of The Washington Note swims away from the pack with good analysis of Joe Biden's answer on Darfur.
Biden lost big time points with me by suggesting that we need to send American troops to Darfur and, more importantly, that those who favor other options were being soft and tolerant of genocide. As Clinton, Gravel, and Richardson pointed out, there's no way American troops could perform a peace operation as well as a robust UN force could in Darfur. American forces aren't trained primarily for peace enforcement and nation-building and they're stretched thin as is, thanks to deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, people in the region are very wary of American intervention - even the good guys who are pushing hard to end the atrocities in Darfur, Chad, and the Central African Republic. They don't want American personnel on the ground; they want American diplomacy and logistical support to pave the way for African and Muslim personnel to successfully intervene through a UN mission. Biden knows better.

Why not Hillary?

Same here, more or less.

Tuesday's reads

'Death of a Salesman' - Rick Perlstein - The Big Con.
[T]oday's lesson in the hidden history of conservatism: nearly all its important foundational figures have been salesmen, good ones — some not merely figuratively but literally.
'Bill targets political pay to spouses' - Richard Simon - The Los Angeles Times.
The action comes after a number of lawmakers [64 in toto], including Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Roseville), have come under scrutiny for paying their spouses from campaign funds.

Doolittle's wife took 15% of the campaign contributions she raised for her husband, once earning $90,000 from a single event.
'Lieberman's New Party Line' - David Nather -
During the abortive debate on the defense authorization bill, [Lieberman] attended daily tactical sessions to help them plan their strategy for combatting anti-war amendments and their rhetorical points for use against the Democrats. And in a fitting symbolic twist, some of those meetings convened just down the hall from the office of Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who essentially owes his 51-seat majority to Lieberman’s continued caucusing with the Democrats.