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 - CQPolitics.com.
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.

Holding out for Newt?

Political Wire's quote of the day goes to Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, emphasis added.
I don't subscribe to the notion that we have to have an identified front-runner candidate early on. The longer you stay inclusive in the process, the more idea generation you get, the more testing, sifting that takes place among the candidates, I think that's healthy for democracy.
Georgia's own Newt Gingrich is basing his potential candidacy on the idea of ideas, to which The New Republic's Jon Chait made this dead-on observation.
Newt Gingrich is living proof that you can acquire a reputation as a man of ideas merely by insisting with sufficient repetitiveness that you care deeply about ideas.

Cuomo's timing

On this morning's Brian Lehrer Show, Liz Benjamin of the New York Daily News commented on the curious timing of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's report on Governor Eliot Spitzer's use of state police to dig up dirt on allegedly improper travel by Spitzer's main foe, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. Cuomo released the report on a Monday, allowing the bad story for fellow Democrat Spitzer to get a good hold in this week's news cycle. But if he had released it late on Friday, the story may have led the Saturday papers (AKA lowest readership of the week) and been old news by Monday.

Both Lehrer and Benjamin were surprised at the quick turnaround between Cuomo's investigation and the release of the report, remarking that he could have held it for the week and no one would have been the wiser. Yet, the Monday release shows Cuomo is conducting business swiftly and with impartiality to political party. This was an especially swift kick to Spitzer and a boost to Bruno, who continue to duke it out over the state's legislative agenda.

Jul 23, 2007

On the YouTube Democratic Debate

Monday's reads

'Personal Thoughts On Why I Haven't Have Endorsed In 2008' - Chris Bowers - Open Left.
Overall, the progressive blogosphere has maintained a nearly ubiquitous public face of neutrality in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.
'Nader's dead end' - Todd Gitlin - The Los Angeles Times.
The netroots want their movement to function within the party -- a machine committed to winning and governing. And this is why Nader no longer matters.
'More Adolescent Fibbing About Hillary From Mitt Romney' - Greg Sargent - TPMCafe Election Central.
Man, that's good. Hillary praised free markets in the sentence just after the one Romney quoted in order to prove that she's a Marxist!

Romney to attack

Mitt Romney will spend the next few weeks attacking the Democratic presidential frontrunners. Romney's aides are telling Marc Ambinder they're "worried that Republicans generally aren't doing enough to soften up the Democrats," though they're probably more worried that Republicans generally aren't believing Romney is one of them. So, he goes on the attack so he will be attacked in return, thus proving his credentials.

Rick Perlstein summed up this tactic pretty well in The New Republic a few months ago.


Jul 22, 2007

Sunday's reads

'Echoes of '68' - Ed Kilgore - The Democratic Strategist.
There is more than a bit of historical irony in Edwards' invocation of RFK's 1968 campaign. One of the most famous moments in that campaign was during the debate between RFK and Gene McCarthy on the eve of the California primary, just prior to Kennedy's assassination.
'George Bush I' - Ted Widmer - The New York Times Magazine.
George Bush was a bona fide New York intellectual: a dabbler in esoteric religions whose opinions were described as, yes, “liberal”; a journalist and an academic who was deeply conversant with the traditions of the Middle East.
'Back to the Future' - John B. Judis & Rui Teixeira - The American Prospect.
In 2006 the turn to the Democrats went well beyond those offices directly concerned with the war in Iraq or affected by congressional scandals.