Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hillary's "sniper fire" story earns four pinocchios

"I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base." --Hillary Clinton, speech at George Washington University, March 17, 2008.

The Washington Post's Fact Checker column has soundly debunked this entertaining, but fictional recollection.

"Clinton's tale of landing at Tuzla airport 'under sniper fire' and then running for cover is simply not credible. Photographs and video of the arrival ceremony, combined with contemporaneous news reports, tell a very different story. Four Pinocchios."

Here we see Hillary (and Chelsea) landing under sniper fire:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Richardson endorses Obama

It's nice to see a high visibility member of the Democratic party putting it on the line and endorsing a candidate during a close nomination. No, I'm not talking about Al Gore or John Edwards. Those two so-called leaders are playing it close to the vest, no-doubt waiting to see which way things break before they take a stand. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson on the other hand put his hat in the ring for Barack Obama today.

During such a tight nomination key endorsements from high ranking Democrats are crucial for either candidate. Richardson has been relentlessly wooed by Obama and Clinton for his endorsement. As a Democratic "super" delegate, the governor plays a part in the tight race for nominating votes and could bring other superdelegates to Obama's side. He also has been mentioned as a potential running mate for either candidate.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama steps ahead

To my liberal friends, and you know who you are, you were right about Obama. Those who introduced me to him after the 2004 Democratic convention. Those who called him a rising star. Those who said he was something special. If the matter was in any doubt, he dispelled it Tuesday morning with a speech on race. A speech unlike anything any of my peers have seen in our lifetime.

Part lawyer, part community organizer, part philosopher, part black, part white, part father, part husband, Obama brought all sides to bear on the issue of race, turned the matter on its head, and extended the discussion into a new era. He cast his vision for this country, a vision that does not avoid the issue of race, but talks about it honestly.

I like what Thomas Mann from the Brooking’s institution said. “It was honest, frank, measured in tone, inclusive and hopeful. I don't know whether it will be sufficient to stem a racial backlash against his candidacy, but he clearly demonstrated today his capacity to lead public opinion and not simply be a slave to it. Indeed, I would say he appeared wise beyond his years and genuinely presidential.”

I liked how he stood there bravely, talked about the issue, and challenged us all to recognize it but also to continue progressing into the future. I have a lot of friends who are disgusted with the slow pace of change in this country. Their frustrations are warranted, but the point is that we can move forward and we are moving forward. It is not easy to progress with 300 million people each with different background and different dreams. It takes time. But that we can move forward is the genius of this amazing country.

I think Barack Obama will have his work cut out for him in the general election. It is far too easy to be zealously and single-mindedly patriotic and black and white. Far too many people find cold comfort in such singletons. Obama sees the complexity of society and does not shy away from it but finds, in it’s myriad of issues and colors and dreams, America.

America is the Rev. Wrights, and the Geraldine Ferraros, and the John McCains, and even the George W. Bushes. It’s the evangelicals and the agnostics. And if we are to solve our problems it will take us all, embracing not our differences but our commonalities.

I’ve always liked that approach by Obama as opposed to Hillary’s more narrow raging-bull approach to change. She comes across as strident, overconfident, and, in McLuhan terms, too hot. She’s off-putting to many because if you’re not with her you’re her enemy and, like the first Clinton administration, that often leads to stalemate. She’s the flip side to the George W. Bush coin that goes nowhere.

Good for Obama for engaging us on a level commiserate with our responsibility. He confronted a systemic problem head-on in a way few could. Did his speech answer everything? No, and it wasn't meant to. It was meant to move the discussion to a higher plane and it did. And it was the most anyone could have said about race and this country in a short speech. It's hard to imagine how it could have been said any better.

Surely, it showed a reasoned and thoughtful individual who said what he said not to impress or to pander or to collect votes, but to enhance understanding. He came out and cast a vision, and showed us how he sees our history and our future, and in the process he proved he is ready to lead. Without a doubt it transcended other politicians in my lifetime, including those currently running against Obama. Those who have neither experienced nor pondered systemic issues in this country. They do not know them, and would never dare to address them, and therefore they do not clearly see the opportunities.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Getting fooled again

A few weeks ago Frank Rich wrote a column in the New York times that, among other things, compared Hillary Clinton to George W. Bush in managerial style and judgment. Since then Hillary has unleashed what has become known as the "kitchen sink" strategy, dubbed for throwing everything available at front-runner Barack Obama. The strategy, though wide-ranging, is surprisingly simplistic in its approach. The main component of the plan is also Bushian in nature.

One could make the argument that the Bill Clinton nomination in 1992 elevated campaign tactics to a new level--with the induction of a 24/7 "war room" to handle press questions and disseminate negative information on opponent George H.W. Bush. The elder Bush appeared slow and weak, while the Clintons stayed ahead of the attack curve. These tactics did not go unnoticed by the Republican party which took eight years to catch up. By 2000 Bush junior was vying for the White House, and at his side were people like Karl Rove who could not only cripple other Republican candidates, but negate Democratic heavyweights like Vice President Al Gore.

After 9/11 those Rovian tactics found their muse in the form of shadowy terrorists, rogue nations, axises of evil, and illegal immigrants--all things nebulous, subversive and alien--designed to scare the hell out of white America and drive them to the polls to vote for those who could save them. The Clintons, eying the White House again in 2008, have shown themselves exceptional political students. As Barack Obama gained momentum they got busy sowing the seeds of fear and tapping into white America's unrelenting xenophobia.

First, Bill Clinton rejected Obama's win in South Carolina as purely racial--noting that even Jessie Jackson won there not once, but twice. Then, after a lackluster Super Tuesday in-which Hillary not only did not win the nomination, lost her lead among delegates, the Clintons focused on Texas and Ohio and began scaring the daylights out of blue collar white workers.

Pictures of Obama in native Kenyan garb appeared on the Drudge Report. (Drudge claims they arrived via the Clinton camp.)

Meanwhile, the Clintons began painting the good citizens of Ohio and Texas as unfortunate victims of outsourcing.

Too painful to admit reality, that jobs have been lost because labor workers priced themselves out of the market and did not make themselves competitive enough, job losses were instead attributed to NAFTA, the evil trade agreement that allows our products to be made by Mexicans. Never mind that those Mexicans often work in appalling conditions with no insurance so we can, and do, buy their productions on the cheap. And never mind that NAFTA itself was enacted by the Clintons. As we have discovered over the last eight years the discontent and anger of the scared white voter knows no reason and no bounds.

Finally, there was the "red phone" add White children are sleeping soundly in their beds, yet something is amiss. Mom is alert, peering into their rooms to make sure everything is fine. But outside, somewhere, something is happening. There is a burglar in the proverbial bushes. The hedgerow surrounding the suburban house has been breached. Barbarians lurk at the gates. But fear not, Hillary Clinton is there to take the call and avert a national crisis of some unknown origin.

Hillary, vowed to go to Washington and fight. Against what, no one is really sure, but that's not the point. There's a lot of anger out there, a lot of uncertainty. It's the type of thing that can give fruit to an Iraq war, and give reason to a candidate gone mad. Barack Obama may just be the candidate who represents too much uncertainty. While Hillary has been a familiar white face we have recognized all these years.

And to no big surprise, all of this all worked. Obama's momentum was halted and both Ohio and Texas swung Hillary's way.

This week, Geraldine Ferraro dismissal of Obama as a flavor-of-the-month candidate. She ruminated that this month the flavor is black, and America is "caught up in this concept" as she said. To think that this statement, by a well-handled, politically savvy trailblazer was not intentional is to be totally ignorant.

And that brings me to Obama's minster, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose name alone not only sounds concocted but hearkens back to the Salem witch trials. Imagine Obama's misfortune at having to attend a church for twenty years where the minister shouts things like "God damn America!" from the pulpit. Obama has every right to attend what ever church he wants, and the rhetoric of Rev. Wright, which resonates with so many disillusioned African Americans, may be what keeps Obama grounded. There are millions who are hurting and broken and Wright taps into that spirit and Obama listens. Still, that comes with a steep price when white America begins listening in.

What does Wright have to do with Clinton? It plays right into her tactics. The Wright issue is huge, and any Obama supporter had better understand that. It is huge for the very reasons I mention above. As Obama himself pointed out in the wake of the Ferraro attack, "I think that if anybody was looking for the quickest path to the presidency, they would not say 'I want to be an African-American man named Barack Obama.' I do not think that is in the handbook for running for president."'

Obama says this for good reason. If there is any doubt about the precarious chances an African-American faces when getting elected to a federal position, one only needs to look back on the voting history of this country. Then, give that person a foreign-sounding name. A name so atypical all you have to do is say it to make the many whites cringe. Barack Hussein Obama.

And Now that very person is introducing himself to the country, and is, to many, a man educated in a madrassa, a man who when in Kenya does as the Kenyans do, a man who happily attends a radical black church. He has been painted that way not just by bigoted and agitated right-wing radio hosts but also by the Clinton campaign. This was a calculated ploy to show Clinton as the more trustworthy candidate. Because, in-comparison to Clinton, who seemingly has been around forever (many would say far too long!) Obama
is the unknown. To many nervous white voters he is becoming a shadowy and therefore untrustworthy candidate.

You could tell in his rebuke of the Rev. Wright Obama knew he was walking a fine line between a black community with whom most of Wright's message resonates with, and a white community that finds the comments deplorable. So, what is a man of God to do? What Obama should have done was not put Wright on his staff, and should have done as much as he could to distance himself from what he knew, even a year ago, was a potential problem. One wonders what asset Wright was for Obama that outweighed his obvious liability. Maybe Obama was a little stunned at how distasteful his minister sounded to many Americans. Not good when many will rely on what they think they know rather than the unknown. A perfect voting block for calculating politicians.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ferarro and Fairwell

Geraldine Ferraro is back, relishing her second chance at the limelight after emerging from the dustbin of history. Once again the former Vice Presidential candidate is doing meaningful interviews on television shows with actual ratings, while offering her political acumen and support to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Ferraro’s latest remark was a racially tinged comment about Barack Obama. A comment which, when viewed in the light of history, makes absolutely no sense and sounds so overwhelmingly condescending and divisive it’s hard to believe anyone who considers themselves progressive could harbor any room for it in their minds. Even an obsolete progressive mind.

”If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position,” she told the Daily Breeze, a California newspaper.

That statement may or may not be offensive, but it’s certainly a stupid thing to say. So stupid it is probably even be sane and deliberate. That may show how nutty this whole nomination process has gotten. By the time it’s over I’m not sure if anyone will have the mental capacity to be president.

Deliberate or not, it's hard to take her statement, that it’s an advantage to be African American in politics, seriously at all given our country’s election track record since reconstruction. Also, as many have also pointed out, any advantage a black man like Obama gains from consolidating the black vote is met equally by uncertainty from non-black voters.

That someone in a campaign said something crazy in a campaign is nothing new. But it’s that this whole process has become insane. I still can’t figure out why we need “super” delegates to save us from ourselves. They are at best rubber stampers or at worst unwanted judges in the democratic process. I still can’t figure out why any Democratic nominee needs 2025 delegates rather than a simple majority. And I can’t figure out why Michigan and Florida may re-vote after violating the rules and knowing their re-vote wont matter much anyway.

The press keeps spinning this process as if we’re not sure what is going to happen in the nomination process. They have to do that to have something to talk about every night. But what we do know is that Barack Obama will have the majority of delegates going into the DNC convention in Colorado. Only a miracle can stop that. The Michigan and Florida recounts will only add a few delegates to Hillary’s total and if she wins in Pennsylvania it will only had a few more. So what we do know then is that Hillary’s only chance of getting the nomination is to steal it away from the will of the people—to go into the convention and urge enough “super” delegates to vote for her.

And if that happens the Democrats will have effectively disillusioned blacks for years to come—after they have thrown the party their support all these years. The Democrats will also have disregarded the youth vote, which has turned out in record numbers this year for Obama. Whether or not they are prepared to go to the “nuclear option” for the likes of Bill and Hillary Clinton remains to be seen. But a sane people like Ferraro are sounding more like loose cannons every day for their cause.

Perhaps that’s how Mrs. Clinton can offer, with a straight face, the vice presidential slot to Obama, the nominee who is winning, and will win the most delegates.

Still, why anyone would take someone like Ferraro seriously in 2008 is another mystery to me. When my grandma says something off-base I pay it no mind, even if she once was a powerful business woman. That was then, this is now. And with Ferarro I'm reminded of the Rodney Dangerfield line: you must have been something before electricity. In 1984 Americans wanted Reagan. Ferraro helped the Democrats lose a record 49 states in the election. In 2008 Americans want change. Ferraro hasn't changed her hair style in a quarter of a century. I think it may be time to call it a career.

I know many, many conservatives who are thoroughly enjoying how petty, and divisive, and indecisive the Democrats appear to be during this nomination. Liberals want to run the country? They can’t even figure out what to do with Florida and Michigan. These people are the non-fascist of the two political parties? Why do we have even a threat that “super” delegates may override all our votes? Not only do they seem to be no less enlightened then their Republican distant relatives, but they seem incapable of even picking a candidate.

I just can’t see how the Clintons are worth all this trouble. When Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize last fall liberals were titillated with the idea that he might run for president. That’s why I was never convinced Hillary had enough support. Liberals were salivating at the idea of Gore running. Gore. When Obama stepped up people couldn’t wait to get behind him and leave Hillary. He was the breath of fresh air they were all looking for.

But now what’s rightfully Hillary's is about to be lost, something she waited for all these years, even through her husband’s humiliating infidelity. And if she has to steal it to make all that suffering and calculating and waiting worthwhile, well, you can see how all of that could make someone a little crazy.

But for now, for Ferraro, it’s fun to be relevant again. Today, Ferraro dug her heels in and said, “Every time that campaign is upset about something, they call it racist. I will not be discriminated against because I'm white. If they think they're going to shut up Geraldine Ferraro with that kind of stuff, they don't know me."

There will be no backing down. There will be blood. But I think the best thing we can do for Hillary and Geraldine is to give them a nice long vacation, and, soon, no more attention.

Mrs. Ferraro has resigned her post as of this afternoon.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Larry David bashes Hillary

Larry David has a short and blistering column over on Huffington Post commenting on the Hillary phone ad.

There have been times in this campaign when she seemed so unhinged that I worried she'd actually kill herself if she lost. Every day, she reminds me more and more of Adele H., who also had an obsession that drove her insane.

Read the whole thing here.

Personally, I think she's nuts. Really. I'm in 100% agreement with him.