Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cutting Off Our Uplifted Nose

President Bush objects to Barack Obama's willingness to meet foreign leaders without preconditions:
"Warming to the subject, Bush continued: “Sitting down at the table, having your picture taken with a tyrant such as Raul Castro, for example, lends the status of the office and the status of our country to him. He gains a lot from it by saying, 'Look at me. I'm now recognized by the president of the United States.'”

Most of the rest of the world thinks that over the last 8 years we've been haughty and high-handed. Most of the rest of the world trades with Cuba and they are puzzled that we maintain an embargo that has had no effect whatsoever on the political situation there. Seriously... who wins the most PR points from a meeting between the Cuban and American Presidents? It's not the guy with the surname 'Castro'.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

McCain and the Lobbyist

The New York Times reports:
Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.

A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.

Both the woman, Vicki Iseman, and John McCain deny any romantic relationship. The New York Times piece needed to be published, but not this way. The Washington Post covers the same story in a fairer way; they don't make an insinuation of a romantic relationship based merely on the suspicions of some staffers.

Having said that, McCain's posture here is not going to hold. His statement:

It is a shame that the New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit and run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.

Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career.

He's going to have to answer legitimate questions: what was the nature and extent of their relationship? Did he discuss legislative matters with her? Did he intervene with regulators at her request? The straight-talker is not going to be able to pull off a stonewall.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Plagiarize This

Barack Obama has run an excellent campaign, but he does make mistakes sometimes. The recent kerfuffle regarding his supposed plagiarism is one. Instead of saying this:
During a news conference here, Mr. Obama said he and Mr. Patrick “trade ideas all the time.” Asked if he should have given credit to Mr. Patrick, he said, “I’m sure I should have,” but he said he doubted that voters were concerned by the dust-up.

What he should have said is this: "You can't steal what is offered to you. Deval suggested these words to me. Deval is part of my team. Lots of people on my team have ideas or suggest phrases... I can't credit all of them."

Unfortunately, this smarmy column by Dana Milbank seems to suggest that this sort of nonsense could be stretched like taffy to cover a lot of unsuspecting surfaces.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Obama: The Most Liberal Senator?

David Brooks was on the Chris Matthews show today once again saying how Barack Obama is the most liberal senator. Does this guy believe everything he reads in the National Journal?

While Barack Obama opposed the authorization of the Iraq war, he has voted to fund it. Other Democrats did not.

Barack Obama favors a universal health care plan that does not include individual mandates. There are Senators (like self-professed Socialist Bernie Sanders) who favor single-payor.

So how is this guy the most liberal senator? A visit to the National Journal clarifies the question. Apparently the services of the unimpeachable Brookings Institute were used perform something called principal-components analysis. From the description it sounds like they're plotting the degree to which there is a lack of variance with other senators on the left side of an issue. It seems to me that extremely liberal votes would exhibit greater not lesser variance. This seems more like a test for who is at the center of the Democratic Party, which is where casual observation would place Barack Obama.

Can we put this silly meme to bed? Barack Obama is not more liberal than Ted Kennedy, Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold. (Oh, that it were so!)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Gonna Be Wars

I saw this a second time, and I still laughed out loud:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

An Open Letter to Al Gore

Will the Democratic nominee this year be chosen by superdelegates instead of voters? There's something Al Gore could do to prevent that.
February 10, 2008
The Honorable Al Gore
2100 West End Avenue
Suite 620
Nashville, TN 37203

Dear Mr. Vice-President:

As you know, the party you and I belong to is involved in a very tight nomination race. News accounts tell us that the difference in pledged delegates between our candidates is small, and that by the end of the primary season on June 7 the votes of super-delegates may be necessary for either candidate to reach the 2,025 threshold necessary for nomination.

This raises some frightening possibilities: that our party will be bickering and divided during our convention this summer; that the favor of these super-delegates might be bought with promises of jobs and legislation; that the losing side will be left feeling bitter and ill-treated; and worst of all, that the political will of the voters of our party will be overridden by political operatives.

So far this election cycle you have withheld your endorsement from either candidate. This dignified and statesman-like stance, combined with your moral standing and political support in the Democratic Party, put you in a unique position as a party elder. That is why I urge you to pledge your vote as a super-delegate to the candidate who wins the most delegates through primaries and caucuses. Furthermore, I hope you will ask other super-delegates to join you in this pledge.

When our prospects for victory in November 2008 are so bright, it would be terrible for our party and country if crass political gamesmanship decided the outcome. Let’s keep the Democratic Party democratic. Let’s let the people decide the outcome, as – tragically - they were disallowed from doing in November of 2000.


Yes, I am an Obama supporter. But I reject the conventional wisdom that the superdelegates will necessarily break in favor of Hillary Clinton. I think these are people whose livelihood depends on the strength of the Democratic ticket; they read the same polls we do. Many are likely to swing in Barack's direction in coming weeks.

So I don't write this letter from factional interest. In fact, if Barack Obama loses the pledged delegate count, I don't want him as our nominee.