Friday, March 28, 2008

Which side are you on?

Last week Barack Obama was winning, 1621 delegates to 1479. This week he leads 1622 to 1485. So that’s plus six for Hillary Clinton and plus one for Obama.

The plus one for Barack was super delegate and former candidate Bill Richardson, whose endorsement of Obama over Easter weekend prompted Clinton heavy James Carville to harp, “Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic.” (I’m curious whether Jesus is Bill or Hillary in this analogy.) Tonight Carville’s wife Mary Matalin was on Fox decrying the sniping in the Democratic Party (and who is Mary in this analogy?). Expect more of the same over the next several weeks in the run up to Pennsylvania on April 22.

What we are seeing is increasingly bitter fighting between leftist and centrist Democrats that goes back many, many years:

2006 – Leftists challenge Joe Lieberman for his Senate seat in Connecticut; he loses party nomination but wins election as “independent” Democrat. Leftist Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi win Congress but their efforts to stop the Iraq war are thwarted by centrist Democrats who ally with the Republicans on support for the surge.

2004 – Centrists and media gang up against leftist candidate Howard Dean, giving John Kerry the nomination. John Kerry would have been the darling of the left but for inexplicably voting for the Iraq war. Hillary Clinton tests the waters with campaign buttons but doesn’t officially run. Barack Obama is recruited by leftists to run for Senate in Illinois with eye toward running him for President; he gives to gives keynote speech at convention.

2000 – Leftist Al Gore chooses centrist Joe Lieberman as his running mate. Many leftists consider Al Gore to be compromised by his association with Bill Clinton and vote for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. In a bit of prescience, Hollywood releases Election (1999).

1998 – Centrist Bill Clinton in face of Lewinsky scandal declines to resign and turn the Presidency over to leftist Al Gore. Hollywood releases Wag the Dog (1997) and Bulworth (1998). NBC launches The West Wing in 1999.

1996 – Leftists in Clinton administration transfer Monica Lewinsky to Pentagon and put her in the same office with former Bush staffer Linda Tripp.

1994 – Leftists are angry with Bill Clinton for backing away on universal health care and for not allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Hollywood makes Dave (1993) and The America President (1995).

1992 – Centrist Bill Clinton overcomes sex scandal and beats late-surging leftist Jerry Brown.

1988 – Leftist Gary Hart forced out of race by media in sex scandal. Leftist nominee Michael Dukakis refuses to give VP slot to second place finisher Jesse Jackson. Al Gore finishes third. Bill Clinton is chosen to give keynote speech at convention.

1984 – Leftist Gary Hart challenges centrist Walter Mondale for nomination. Jesse Jackson finishes third. In November, Mondale wins only DC and his home state of Minnesota. Note: Mondale’s running mate Geraldine Ferraro recently had to step down from the Hillary Clinton campaign.

1980 – Leftist Ted Kennedy challenges centrist Jimmy Carter, sitting President of his own party. In November, Carter wins only 6 states and DC and loses even Massachusetts.

1976 – Centrist Jimmy Carter beats leftist late entry Jerry Brown. Walter Mondale is Carter’s VP. Hollywood releases All the President's Men (1976).

1972 – Leftist George McGovern leads 1971 commission to reform the nominee selection process, then runs on his new rules and wins the nomination, beating out Hubert Humphrey (who got more votes), George Wallace (shot and paralyzed while campaigning), Edmund Muskie (undone by “the crying speech” in New Hampshire when accused of prejudice against Americans of French-Canadian descent), Eugene McCarthy (peaked in 1968), and Scoop Jackson (the first neocon). The long primary season leaves McGovern without sufficient funds for the general election in November and he wins only DC and Massachusetts despite Republican operatives being caught breaking into his party’s Watergate offices in July. Gary Hart is McGovern’s campaign manager. Hollywood releases The Candidate (1971).

1968 – Leftist Eugene McCarthy challenges sitting President Lyndon Johnson in the New Hampshire primary. Johnson drops out after leftist Robert Kennedy also enters the race, but Kennedy is assassinated in June. Leftist Hubert Humphrey as Lyndon’s Johnson’s VP becomes standard bearer for the centrists, and wins the nomination amid rioting leftists at the Chicago convention. Alabama Governor George Wallace leaves the Democratic Party and wins 5 states as American Independent candidate.

1964 – Centrist Lyndon Johnson fought off challenges from leftist Pat Brown (father of Jerry Brown) and Alabama Governor George Wallace. Hollywood releases Seven Days in May (1964), Fail-Safe (1964), and Dr. Strangelove (1964).

1962 – Hollywood releases The Manchurian Candidate (1962).

1960 – Centrist John Kennedy teams with centrist Lyndon Johnson as VP. After election, Adlai Stevenson is made Ambassador to the United Nations.

1956 – Leftist Adlai Stevenson chooses leftist Estes Kefauver over centrist John Kennedy as VP nominee and goes on to lose second landside to Eisenhower.

1952 – Leftist Adlai Stevenson inspires the New Politics movement and loses first landside to Eisenhower. Personal history: when he was 12 while playing with a rifle, Adlai accidentally shot and killed a friend. He graduated from Princeton but flunked out of Harvard Law School (did go on to get a law degree from Northwestern).

1948 – Centrist Harry Truman is nominee. Strom Thurmond walks out of Democratic convention after civil rights speech by Hubert Humphrey and wins 5 southern states in November running as DixieCrat. Leftist Henry Wallace runs as Progressive Party nominee. Hollywood releases State of the Union (1948) and All the King’s Men (1949).

1944 – President Roosevelt drops leftist Henry Wallace from VP slot on ticket in favor of centrist Harry Truman.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

8 flags over Barack Obama

You know how much trouble a politician has gotten into by counting how many flags he’s standing in front of as he tries to squirm out of it. Last week Eliot Spitzer went to a 2 flag alert after getting caught paying the big bucks for a girls gone wild wannabe (could have just bought the DVD). This week Barack Obama went to 8 flags after getting caught with a white-trashing black minister (could have slept in all those Sunday mornings). 2 flags wasn’t enough but 8 flags might just get out of this yet:

(1) Barack is still winning, 1621 delegates to 1479. He was probably going to lose Pennsylvania anyway, and that’s still not for 5 weeks. Worse case scenario: maybe he has to settle for the VP slot.

(2) The Obama people knew this was coming, and they had a pretty good speech ready. Jeremiah Wright’s name doesn’t appear in the index to Barack’s book, The Audacity of Hope, even though the title is said to come from one of Wright’s sermons. And Wright was covered in a New Yorker profile on Michelle Obama a couple of weeks ago.

(3) Irving Berlin isn’t alive to Tammy-Wynette Barack for standing by his man Jeremiah Wright, and grandma also isn’t around to complain:

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

(4) It’s ingenious for Barack to give whites permission to feel their own anxieties and he might be able to win Pennsylvania talking like this:

Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

(5) It’s also ingenious to let Geraldine Ferraro off the hook:

We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

(6) Wright helps to quash the rumors that Barack is a Muslim. Now you get to see right inside Trinity United Church of Christ. Who is the white woman named Hoffman on the church web site? Yep, they were ready.

(7) If the campaign becomes about race, and the Fox network comes after Barack the way that one expects they will, no one but Barack will be better situated to turn that to advantage.

Then Brer Rabbit started talking mighty humble.
"I don't care what you do with me, Brer Fox, says he, "Just so you don't fling me in that briar patch. Roast me, Brer Fox, says he, "But don't fling me in that briar patch."
"It's so much trouble to kindle a fire," says Brer Fox, says he, "that I expect I'd better hang you," says he.
"Hang me just as high as you please, Brer Fox, says Brer Rabbit, says he, "but for the Lord's sake, don't fling me in that briar patch," says he.
"I don't have any string, " says Brer Fox, says he, "Now I expect I had better drown you, " says he.
"Drown me just as deep as you please, Brer Fox," says Brer Rabbit, says he, "But please do not fling me in that briar patch, " says he.
"There's no water near here," says Brer Fox, says he, "And now I reckon I'd better skin you," says he.
"Skin me Brer Fox," says he. "Snatch out my eyeballs, tear out my ears by the roots," says he, "But please, Brer Fox, don't fling me in that briar patch, " says he.
Of course, Brer Fox wanted to get Brer Rabbit as bad as he could, so he caught him by the behind legs and slung him right in the middle of the briar patch. There was a considerable flutter when Brer Rabbit struck the bushes, and Brer Fox hung around to see what was going to happen.
By and by he heard someone call his name and 'way up on the hill he saw Brer Rabbit sitting cross-legged on a chinquapin log combing the tar pitch out of his hair with a chip. Then Brer Fox knew he had been tricked.
Brer Rabbit hollered out, "Born and bred in the briar patch. I was born and bred in the briar patch!" And with that he skipped out just as lively as a cricket in the embers of a fire.

(8) The press has not yet found the full words to the Jeremiah Wright version of God Bless America:

God damn America, land that I loathe
Stand astride her, and deride her
Thru the chains in the hold down below
From the slave ships, to the auction,
To the prisons, black with race
God damn America, my homeboy home

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Re: Obama ahead on all cards

There have been some questions about the math for (B), which is the most favorable count possible for Hillary. The 128 number is the net margin of Clinton delegates over Obama delegates. The Wall Street Journal puts Hillary's net margin from Florida and Michigan at 111 delegates. That would mean Barack leads by 20 under that scenario, , but actually there are uncommitted and Edwards delegates he could win too.

From a correspondent in Iowa:

There will be noteworthy scapegoats used by every campaign to throw reality on the Obama fire. Geraldine F was right. Steve King is right. The commentator that McCain tossed 2-3 weeks ago was partially right. Every campaign has to find a way to stop the Obama groundswell. There is the way we all want it to be and unfortunately there is the way it is.

From a correspondent in Massachusetts:

Do you really think Hillary will settle for VP? I keep thinking she never would.

From Boston Beatnik:

I'm starting to regret not supporting Bill Richardson. He's hilarious.

Obama ahead on all cards

After winning yesterday’s Mississippi primary, Barack Obama is ahead no matter how you count.

(A) CNN shows Barack leading by 131 delegates in total delegates, 1611 to 1480.
(B) Barack would still lead by 3 delegates if the 128 net disputed delegates in Florida and Michigan were added to Hillary’s total.
(C) Barack leads by 161 delegates, 1404 to 1243, if super delegates are ignored and only delegates won in primaries and caucuses are counted.

But Barack needs 2025 delegates to clinch, and it is 6 weeks to the next primary in Pennsylvania on April 22. That’s a long time in politics. So what can we expect?

More "dream ticket" talk
Hillary’s campaign has been suggesting a joint Clinton-Obama ticket -- with Obama in the VP slot. Former President Clinton put it out last Saturday that a Clinton-Obama ticket would be "unstoppable." "He would win the urban areas and the upscale voters. She would win the rural areas that we lost when President Reagan was president. If you put those two things together, you'd have an almost unstoppable force." (I hate to resort to the cliché of parsing Bill Clinton, but what does he mean by “almost?”)

Barack has tried to shake off that talk: "I'm not running for vice president. I'm running for president of the United States of America…. I don't know how somebody who's in second place is offering vice presidency to the person who's in first place.” And he also took a little swing at the Clinton campaign theme that he is not ready to be President: “I don't understand. If I'm not ready, how is it that you think I should be such a great vice president?"

I suspect the Clinton campaign is playing a double or triple game here. They know Barack has no reason to settle for VP when he is ahead, and they are really angling for Hillary to get the VP slot on an Obama-Clinton ticket. Their mantra will be that if you want Hillary on the ticket (as VP), you will have to vote for her – you won’t be voting against Barack you’ll be voting for the dream ticket. But if they get enough people to vote for Hillary under that pretext, maybe she wins and gets to lead the ticket. And if she loses and is “forced” to take the VP slot, the Obama people can feel happy they beat her down to VP.

But that’s not the only game in town. Howard Dean, the chairman of the DNC, said back on February 5, “I think we will have a nominee sometime in the middle of March or April. But if we don’t, then we’re going to have to get the candidates together and make some kind of an arrangement.” Howard Dean has to remain officially neutral, but you know in his heart he has to favor anti-war Obama. Maybe he’ll pull a Cheney and we’ll get Obama-Dean. Or maybe he’ll settle for UN Ambassador Dean.

More talk of reruns
Now they are talking about redoing the Florida and Michigan primaries using mail-in ballots. That sounds great on paper but if the new results come out too different from the original it will only compound the fiasco. Today Hillary came out swinging, "The results of those primaries were fair and they should be honored." And she is taking the stand “honor the results or hold new primary elections” knowing no one wants to pay for new primary elections. If the Obama people are clever, they may start suggesting that if the rules are changed to count Florida and Michigan, they should also be changed to eliminate super delegates. After all, these super delegates are the party officials that are supposed to prevent problems like this from happening.

Remember those caucus states like Iowa that Barack won? Well, the caucus meeting is usually just the first of two or three steps to choose the final delegates. Often the precinct causes are followed by a county convention and/or state convention where the final delegates get picked. 248 delegates in 10 states are in play. One expects the Obama organization to be prepared to win the later rounds, but you never know. I can say from my personal experience that, back in 1980, George Bush won on caucus night in January, but Reagan won the county convention in March.

More silly stuff
Remember the ad Hillary ran in Texas: “When the call comes at 3 a.m. in the White House, who do you want answering the phone?” Well, it turns out first of all that this was essentially a copy of an ad Walter Mondale ran in 1984. And, second of all, stock footage was used for the little 8-year-old girl sleeping in bed. It turns out she is now a high school senior who will be old enough to vote and an Obama volunteer. And third, there is some great video of Bill Clinton campaigning for John Kerry in 2004: “Now one of Clinton’s laws of politics is this. If one candidate is trying to scare you, and the other one is trying to get you to think, if one candidate is appealing to your fears, and the other one is appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope.”

Geraldine Ferrara, VP nominee for Mondale in 1984, got accused of racism this week after saying “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman, he would not be in this position.” Her response was, "Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up. Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white.” Hillary has taken the now ritual step of kicking her off the campaign and apologizing.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pearls before swine

Elliot Spitzer, Governor of New York, has been identified as Client 9 in federal court papers concerning a wiretap in which he was caught arranging to meet a prostitute at a Washington, DC hotel on the evening of February 13 last month. Spitzer made his name rooting out corruption on Wall Street as New York’s Attorney General. This has got to be heart-breaking and a bit embarrassing for the legions of high-priced lawyers and private investigators dispatched to dig up dirt on Mr. Spitzer during those years. No word yet on whether he was back home for Valentine’s Day on February 14. His wife did appear with him at the press conference today in Albany where he admitted his involvement. She was sporting a very nice double string of pearls. I’m guessing those are new.

This could be important to the Presidential race, as Spitzer had pledged his super-delegate vote to Hillary Clinton. If Spitzer is forced to resign, he might also lose his super-delegate status, and the race is close enough that one delegate might make the difference. Can you imagine that Hillary might lose the nomination because of one man getting caught with his pants down?

When our correspondent in Ohio reported that Karl Rove had gotten heckled at Iowa State, I had to check it out. It turns out that Karl Rove appeared Sunday at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. (Iowa State University is a different school located 138 miles further west, not that our correspondent in Ohio should be expected to know that.) I did find some video on the event and some interesting quotes reported by The Daily Iowan and Iowa Independent:

Journalism professor Frank Durham asked a line of questions about the war in Iraq, suggesting "Bush has made 935 false statements about the security of Iraq." Rove interrupted, "These are left-wing think tanks underwritten by George Soros. Every bit of intelligence in the West confirmed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction because he wanted us to believe that he had them." Rove said Iraq "had nothing to do with 9/11.” “What it had to do was change the circumstances in the 20th century of transatlantic terrorism." Rove attacked the credibility of Ambassador Joe Wilson, calling him a liar and said he misled the American people in his New York Times op-ed piece.

Meanwhile, even further west in Iowa, Congressman Steve King has stirred some controversy with his remarks that “the radical Islamists, the al-Qa'ida and the radical Islamists and their supporters will be dancing in the streets” if Barack Obama is elected President. “His middle name does matter. It matters because they read a meaning into that, the rest of the world -- it has a special meaning to them. They’ll be dancing in the streets because of his middle name. They’ll be dancing in the streets because of who his father was and because of his posture that says, ‘Pull out of the middle east. Pull out of this conflict.’” Congressman King says calls to his Western Iowa office have been about 60 percent positive and 40 percent negative.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Who is on top?

Hillary survived the battle of the Alamo and won the Battle of Tiffin!

As of now, Barack still leads Hillary by 96 delegates, with 505 more needed to clinch. On the other hand, if the disputed Michigan and Florida delegates were counted, Hillary would lead by around 32 delegates. Since each has a claim to be the front runner, don’t expect either one to drop out any time soon.

The big dates coming up are April 22, May 6, and May 20. The Ohio victory is very important for Hillary as half the remaining delegates to be selected are in states neighboring Ohio - Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia. If Hillary can sustain double digit wins in those states, that’s her best path to victory. While the party big shot super delegates may prove decisive, expect many of them to sit on the fence for the next several weeks to see what happens before making a commitment.

March 8
Wyoming18Caucus favors Barack
March 11
Mississippi40Beware the Ides of March. If Barack loses, suspect foul play by crossover Republicans.
April 22
Pennsylvania188A convincing win for Hillary would put the hurt on
May 3
Guam9This caucus should be irrelevant
May 6
Indiana84Ohio neighbor could go for Hillary
May 6
North Carolina134Obama should win
May 13
West Virginia39Ohio neighbor could go for Hillary
May 20
Kentucky60Ohio neighbor could go for Hillary
May 20
Oregon65Obama should win
June 3
Montana24Big Sky could be the last best place
June 3
South Dakota23It’s a long road to Rushmore
June 7
Puerto Rico63Embarrassing for Democrats if it goes this far, as Puerto Rico can’t vote in November but can send delegates to the Democratic convention
Total upcoming-747Barack needs 67% to clinch, Hillary needs 80%. Otherwise, it will take super delegates or disputed delegates to win.
Uncommitted super-delegates-359The 437 who have already pledged could be persuaded to change their minds
January 15Michigan156Would have awarded around 90 for Hillary, 66 uncommitted as Barack foolishly took his name off the ballot too please Iowa and New Hampshire.
January 29Florida210Would have awarded around 109 for Hillary, 71 for Obama, 20 for Edwards
Total disputed-366Counting Michigan and Florida would raise the bar for nomination from 2025 to 2208 delegates

RE: The Battle of Tiffin, Ohio

From our correspondent in Ohio:

Obama carried Hamilton County 62% to Hillary's 36%. The big story in Ohio is crossover voting. Ohio has an open primary. You can vote either party. Republicans turned out in record numbers for Hillary to disrupt the Democrats. There were widespread shortages of Democratic ballots because of the crossover.

Tiffin is in Seneca County and mirrored the statewide results: My father-in-law called it, "Seneca county isn't ready to vote for a colored man." Seneca County Results:

Hillary Clinton 5400 57.76% to 39.45% (5400 votes)
Barack Obama 39.45% (3688 votes)
John Edwards 2.79% (261 votes)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

RE: The Battle of Tippin, Ohio

From our Correspondent in Ohio:

The weather is rainy and cold today. The polls were crowded at my overwhelmingly Republican voting place. I saw one high school kid voting in her first election. An editorial in the Cincinnati Enquirer says the key to Ohio for Clinton is the Appalachian Southeast and the farming communities of the Northwest. If Kerry had campaigned there he could have picked up the 100,000+ votes he needed to win Ohio.

Bill Clinton did a swing though Ohio last week hitting the small towns in the areas I mentioned. Michelle saw him at a rally at the Ohio Agricultural Research Development Center in Wooster with John Glenn and the Democratic Governor, Ted Strickland. She said there was no security to speak of, no one checked bags, no metal detectors. She only saw one guy she thought was Secret Service.

Cleveland tested their voting equipment on Friday and there were problems. Four of ten Democrats in Ohio live in Northeast Ohio.

RE: Political news - Top 10 reasons Hillary won't quit

From Boston Beatnik:

15. The New World Order won't let her drop out.
14. There's not enough Obama Kool-Aid for everyone.
13. She still has a bunch of stuff in the White House basement and attic.
12. Yes we can = Together we can
11. Tina Fey "Bitch is the new black."

Top 10 reasons Hillary won't quit

Top 10 reasons Hillary won't quit tomorrow night after the Texas and Ohio primaries:

10. Still has Michigan and Florida in her back pocket, Puerto Rico doesn’t caucus until June 7.
9. Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter can’t both be wrong.
8. Doesn’t want to wake Barack for a 3am concession call.
7. Calculating whether she can best pull a Putin as VP or Senate Majority Leader.
6. Trial of Chicago fixer Tony Rezko will tantalize the media until Pennsylvania primary April 22.
5. Wants to put Barack and Canada on trial for Nafta-gate.
4. Jack Nicholson thinks she’s sexy.
3. Have you seen Bill Richardson’s beard?
2. His middle name is Hussein.
1. She might actually win. In the words of SNL’s Tina Fey, “Bitches get stuff done!