Thursday, January 31, 2008

L.A. Is Only For Famous People

I'm famous. In my own mind, anyway, I'm huge!

Does it bother anyone else that most of the reax shots this evening were of the various stars out to watch the debate? I know I'm not living in Los Angeles right now, but I'm almost sure there's more to the city than the normal Kodak Theater crowd. If you're at the RNC and you're wondering how you can beat up the Dem during the general election without coming off as especially racist or sexist (normal levels will be acceptable, of course), aren't you licking your lips and grinning at the cast of out-of-touch, liberal, freaky, Hollywood lefties who turn out to throw their sinfully gained money at the lefty freak candidates? All those possible grainy photos? Mmm, hit spots. Love 'em! Hey, maybe they can get some thinly veiled anti-semitism in there as well. Field day!

For California political junkies, there were some gratuitous shots of Villaraigosa, his future nemesis Newsom, Debra Bowen, etc, etc. I'm sure the same level of locally important people were in the audience in other states. But I don't recall any other debate's audience being so stereotypical. Was the Iowa debate watched by a field of corn? Not that I know of. Was the Florida debate watched by gators? Real gators, not alumni. I'm just saying . . . . As one blogger points out, America Ferrera was wearing a Hillary button - will there be a "blue carpet" US Weekly spread next week?

I shouldn't poke too much fun. I hate the notion that people in entertainment have any less right to participate or any less ability to comprehend politics just because they get paid extra for being prettier than us. But come on. Skip the celeb reax. Or at least cut it back a bit - otherwise, we keep arguing over which young white actor we just saw and miss the new spin on immigration policy or whatever.

WWPBVF?

Which means: Who would Pierce Brosnan Vote For? Which is what my mom was asking if she caught the B-roll of Pierce watching Hillary discuss why it's alright to have another Clinton in the White House after 30 years of a Clinton or a Bush being in the White House.

Wait, 30 years?

I'm almost thirty? I remember Carter! Okay, so "remember" might be a stretch, but dammit, I'm not 30 yet.

Hillary had a fabulous comeback, however, noting that it took a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush. Well played.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Goodbye, Mr. Edwards

Edwards to Quit Presidential Race

I am sad. I'm not surprised, exactly, but still sad. Edwards is a good man. He ran a good, if ignored, campaign. It's not really his fault - how could he compete, as the veteran candidate - against two shiny, new, ceiling-shattering candidates? His good looks couldn't beat their sex appeal. But he had good ideas and I felt and still do feel a certain level of allegiance to him from 2004.

The worst part, of course, is that now I really, really need to decide between Clinton and Obama. I have good, smart friends lined up behind each. Do I default to my core rule of never supporting anyone who voted for the war? Do I back what may be our last great hope for quite sometime to get a woman into the White House? Better the devil we know? Or do I stick with what I decided in those low days after the 2004 election: that based on the people who immediately raised the Hillary flag before the Kerry one had been completely lowered there was no way in hell that I'd join that team?

Again, I say: who would have ever thought my California vote might actually count?

Then again, wait, I'm being suckered again, right? Is this really a contest?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More Fun With Rebates

The Chron has a stimulus package Q&A that's pretty interesting when it comes to the big question of whether this rebate will do what the feds want us to do: go shopping.

Since I don't think I was paying taxes in 2001 (student + fellow = no money anyway), I'd hadn't remembered the 2001 rebates. They were lower, didn't phase out, and didn't apply to people who paid no taxes that year.

I thought these two questions were the most interesting:

Q: Why are high-income households being excluded?

A: Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said that "the president only wanted to give (refunds) to those paying income taxes. We thought it was critical to provide rebates to those families who may not be paying income taxes but who are paying Social Security, Medicare and other taxes."

To provide tax benefits to lower-income people and keep the stimulus package at $150 billion (including $50 billion in business tax credits), "you had to cap (refunds) at the top," Elshami says.

He said lawmakers also believe that lower-income people are more likely to spend their rebates than higher-income people.

Q: How effective are rebates, and are lower-income people more likely to spend them?

A: That's debatable. Two studies of the 2001 rebates produced different results.

University of Michigan economists Matthew Shapiro and Joel Slemrod based their study on a household survey conducted in the fall of 2001. Only 21.8 percent of those surveyed said they planned to spend their refund, 32 percent said they would save it and 46.3 percent said they would use it to pay off debt. A follow-up survey in 2002 yielded similar results.

In both surveys, "there is no indication that low-income households were more likely to spend the rebate - in fact, higher-income households were more likely to say that the tax rebate led them to mostly increase spending," the authors said.

Shapiro said it's hard to say whether the rebates were anti-recessionary because the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred around the time they were going out.

Consumer spending collapsed in September after the attacks but rebounded in October, mainly because automakers started offering zero percent financing.

A separate study by David Johnson, Jonathan Parker and Nicholas Souleles concluded that "the rebates provided a substantial stimulus to the national economy in 2001, helping to end the recession."

Their study, based on the government's Consumer Expenditure Survey, found that households spent 20 to 40 percent of their rebates on nondurable goods during the three-month period in which their rebates arrived, and roughly two-thirds of their rebates cumulatively during this period and the subsequent three-month period.

Their study also found that "low-income households spent a much larger fraction of their rebate during the three-month period of receipt than the typical (middle-income) household." They added that "high-income households also seem to have spent a somewhat greater fraction of the rebate ... although this difference is not statistically significant.


Isn't spending when we should've been saving what's landed us in this mess to begin with? Why is the government encouraging us to just keep on keepin' on?

Monday, January 28, 2008

I'll Always Choose Nerditry

I love me some MSNBC. Between Keith and Chris, it's all most too much eggheaded commentary to handle. Really well-crafted if overly-clever allusions abound. Hmmm, I love it.

Keith points out that this State of the Union was a greatest hits reel for Mr. Bush. He pulled out rhetorical gems from addresses past. Ink stained fingers. Threatened downtown LA attacks. Iran's nuclear threats. Ah, the good old days . . . .

Also noted: as ever, no request is made of us to do anything. Thank God! We do deserve more, after all, and should do less to get it. Victory gardens were cute in the 40s, but sacrifice is a little done, isn't it? What, it's a basis of Christianity and Bush digs that stuff? Whatever, separation of church and state. Just like Congress shouldn't have a say on private medical decisions, right?

What Would Women In Power Sound LIke?

I can't help but notice during the President's speech that comments he makes about the terrorists being on the run and our assured success abroad are greeted with distinctly male "huzzahs" of approval. Manly cheers. Gut level agreement in guttural tones.

If we ever got close to a 50/50 divide in Congress (and the Court, and the Cabinet, and the Executive), would it sound different? Would it sound like a rock concert with higher-pitched "wooos" to go with the boy noises?

Or would women refrain for cheering for things like war and bloodlust that seem to rouse the most fervent reactions in their male counterparts? Would they cheer as enthusiastically for other areas of policy? Or just restrain themselves from sounding like idiots?

I KNEW I Could've Skipped Law School

Bush just said on matters of justice, we must trust in the wisdom of our founders and empower judges who understand that the Constitution means what it says.

IS THAT ALL? IS IT THAT DAMN SIMPLE? Oh, it just means what it says. Of course. Right. Done and done. I suppose the last 200 or so years of constitutional jurisprudence was kind of a waste in time since we should've just read the damn handbook.

I dislike this dude so damn much. Term limits have their place after all.

Proposed new drinking game:

Rewind your TiVO/DVR and take a shot every time Bush says "empower." Note: please have cell phone handy to call 911 before you pass out from alcohol poisoning.

Did Anyone Get That On Tape?

So Bush just said that we must "nsure that decisions about your medical care are made in the privacy of your doctors office, not in the halls of Congress."

Does that go for women's privacy as well? What about abortion? You guys are going to keep that one in the halls of Congress, right?

Oh, and he just mentioned that the No Child Left Behind Act was a bipartisan measure. I think he meant to give everyone credit for it, because he still thinks it is good, but it sorta sounded more like an accusation, no?

Chills Abound

I've already felt the chills twice so far and the State of the Union hasn't even started yet.

First, the intro newscasters correctly identified this as Bush's FINAL State of the Union.

Second, "Madam Speaker" still sounds so damn good. (My damn foreigner husband can't help but cackle over my shoulder that they've been saying "Madam" about various women-in-power in their government for years. Oh yeah? You still drive on the wrong side of the road. So there.)

Oh, and the money shot: Obama and Kennedy are seat buddies this evening. Mmmm, liberal love.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Message Voting

Shoot, I almost forgot: South Carolina for our side was today.

Obama won.

And now, suddenly, he's extra, a lot, the "black candidate."

What was he before?

I'm still awfully torn as the Cali primary creeps up fast. I have been, semi-purposely, avoiding most debates. I still avidly consume the punditry that comes after it, digesting all that process-story goodness, even as it drives me insane. I notice lately that I'm less looking for the candidate I support then the type I think needs to be in the White House.

Maybe Obama's comment that this election was between - and I'm paraphrasing - a black man, a woman, and John here, is sticking in my head. Both Clinton and Obama have done so well just running without running as the black man and the woman . . . until now.

Poor Edwards, right? What a lousy time to be just another white dude. But, by saying that, am I the equivalent of the latest Time Magazine cover story screaming about what's happening to our little boys getting left behind in school (because apparently, a few years of girls' getting ahead means we've abandoned them)? Ugh.

So do I break with my gender? My minority status? Or my work history?

Ugh.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I Blame The Narrator

A reader sent in the link to this Slate has a great little bit comparing Hillary to Tracy Flick, the brilliant and unfairly maligned heroine of the movie Election:



It's very well done and probably does capture the sort of WTF moment Hillary must go through each time her years of actual White House experience are dismissed or discounted.

Of course, poor Tracy Flick wasn't nearly as bad as the teacher/narrator painted her to be. Both the book and the film (which are nearly identical) construct a beautiful tension between author, narrator, and Ms. Flick. So who's the Matthew Broderick in this scenario? Are the readers - the voters - getting the right message from this race?

Anybody?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Only Questions: Rebate Edition

So why might we get $1200 from the government?

Haven't you heard the economy sucks?

Is that supposed to fix it?

Haven't you heard of trickle-down economics?

So we're supposed to go shopping with this money?

Don't you like to go shopping?

Don't you know how much I want a fancy schmancy DSLR?

Don't you want a shiny new television?

Haven't you heard those are cheaper after the Superbowl?

So will you go shopping with your rebate?

Do you think that's a good idea?

Isn't that what you're supposed to do with it?

Have you seen my visa bill?

Aren't you saving to buy a house?

Doesn't sound like I'll be shopping does it?

So is this really going to help anything?

Who am I to deny $1200?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Beer Drinkin' Who Now?

I can't even get past the teaser headline and blurb for this Chron article about the diffrence between Clinton Dems and Obama liberals:

Sip or Swig?

A pollster says the California primary may come down to "beer-drinking," blue-collar Clinton Democrats vs. "wine and cheese" Obama liberals. If so, the Bay Area vote will be critical.
Whaaaa?

This is like one of those Bush revisions, right? Yale educated, New England-vacationing Bush returns to Texas, buys farm, rewrites narrative. And because the Clintons come from Arkansas, kinda, they are beer swillin' locals, blue collar and working class?

Not exactly.

Whatever, this campaign is straight nutty.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Michigan Matters Not So Much

Poor Michigan - the economy there sucks, its main meaningful export lately is Michael Moore, and its attempts to be relevant in the presidential primary process? Well, that didn't go so well either:

Michigan doesn't typically hold its primary until February but state party officials scheduled it earlier to try to give the state more say in picking a president. The Republican National Committee objected and cut the number of Michigan delegates to the national convention by half as punishment while the Democratic National Committee stripped the state of all 156 delegates to its national convention, including 28 superdelegates who would not have been bound by the outcome of the primary.
In case anyone was wondering why there's not a ton of Michigan primary coverage out there or on here, that's why.

And I still owe my father-in-law a longer post on our presidential selection process. Consider this part of that post. I'd do more tonight, but it's the Idol premiere. Hey, there's no scripted television, so what else are we left with.

At Least 'Idol' Starts Tonight

Report: Studios Cancel Writers Contracts

Wash Your Hands

This is fairly scary.

It'd be awesome if people would stop taking so many antibiotics unless truly needed. And maybe layoff the anti-bacterial hand washes as well.

Steinem On The Chick Thing

Per commenter advice, here's Gloria Steinem's NYT article on why women are never front-runners. (I can't remember if it was Colbert or Stewart who pointed out that Hillary was only down for, like, six days, prior to which she was, a-hem, the front-runner. Nevermind the facts, though.)

Actuall, forget the parentheses above, and let's mind the facts. This woman WAS very much the forgone conclusion until Iowa. Iowa was the exception and New Hampshire the rule, if we look at the arc of 2008 narrative that carried us through 2007. So is it possible, then, that we're using the - I'm sorry, I'm going to say it - gender card as a crutch? A guilt inducer that absolves Clinton of lapses in political or legislative judgment or the undeniable taint of her establishment background? What if the voters really are judging her on the merits and she still comes up short?

Ah, but that was before the tearless crying exhibited in New Hampshire that fell within the narrative the older generation felt more comfortable with, eh? We've been snapped back to the reality of tired gender politics. Hillary wept. Woman rushed to her aid. At least the Obama camp and pundits deserve some credit for not crying bigotry as the reason he lost and she won. But would he have done so if, say, Edwards won? I suppose Hillary and Barack could've pegged the fault on their gender and race had that happened.

Steinem says "what worries [her] is that [Obama] is seen as unifying by his race while [Clinton] is seen as divisive by her sex." But that's only since last week. And only because she won. Had she lost, I don't think we'd have been talking about the tearless crying as much at all.

Steinem's piece couldn't have been written in December, nor, likely, will it seem accurate or relevant two or three primary contests from now.

Can we get out of our own way? Do we want to?

Blurkers Delurk!

It's National Delurking Week! Or Maybe that was last week. We're observing it this week. So if you're blurking out there, reveal yourselves! Try a nickname, because posting "hi" by "anon" doesn't really pull back the veil, now, does it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Women Can't Win

Aren't you just a pillar of reason and maturity, Ms. Dowd. Thanks for highlighting that Hillary is all me-me-me when she's, reasonably, sad about losing her race:

There was a poignancy about the moment, seeing Hillary crack with exhaustion from decades of yearning to be the principal rather than the plus-one. But there was a whiff of Nixonian self-pity about her choking up. What was moving her so deeply was her recognition that the country was failing to grasp how much it needs her. In a weirdly narcissistic way, she was crying for us. But it was grimly typical of her that what finally made her break down was the prospect of losing.
I don't even back this candidate yet, but I'm damn tired of the rhetoric.

On Iowa's caucus night, Chris Matthews opined (I think it was him) that these droves of new voters, young voters, really didn't have an issue with race. It really wasn't on their radar or part of their math. I think that's true. It probably is true for more than just these younger generations - or it would be if the overwhelming theme of coverage weren't "Does it really not matter that Obama is black?" Puh-lease.

The same can be said about the Woman Issue. We can't get out of our damn way in our rush to convince the world that it's no big deal. Except it is.

Get it straight, y'all: Hillary didn't cry. Crying, involves tears. I saw a bit of pink in the eyes and heard a tightened throat but saw NOTHING rolling down her cheeks.

Now, the old chestnut contained in this sort of reaction doesn't seem to work: One reporter who covers security issues cringed. “We are at war,” he said. “Is this how she’ll talk to Kim Jong-il?”

Uh-oh. We've lost our narrative. What now? Oh, I know, it's all a set-up. Calculated. She got emotional on cue, the bitch.

She became emotional because she feared that she had reached her political midnight, when she would suddenly revert to the school girl with geeky glasses and frizzy hair, smart but not the favorite. All those years in the shadow of one Natural, only to face the prospect of being eclipsed by another Natural?
Hell, maybe I will vote for her after all. 'Cause that's my nightmare too.

Wait, Is This Good Or Bad

2004 Dem Nominee Kerry Endorses Obama

I still respect the hell out of Kerry's years of service to this country and his committment to party ideals. But he kinda was a sucky candidate (ie: bad at campaigning). So is it good or bad for Obama that someone who botched his own chances so terribly is now on-board?

Even though "[t]he Republican National Committee pounced on the endorsement to brand Kerry and Obama 'liberal soul mates,'" I don't think that's going to be a problem. It worked last time, fellas, but not so much this time. Have you seen our turnout numbers? Where are your voters? Not motivated by the fuzzy liberal scourge this time. Not yet, anyway.

Compare and Contrast

From Tuesday's State of the State Address:

And another thing. Some people say, "Arnold, you are part of the reason why we have this deficit, because you stopped the car tax increase." Well, yes, I did that. And you know something? I would do it again, because it is -- (Applause)

Because it is not fair to punish people who can barely afford the gas to get to work, and on top of that then to ask them to pay for a tax increase to cover Sacramento's overspending. I said it back during the recall and I'll say it again; we do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. (Applause)
And from coverage of today's proposed state budget:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected today to propose shutting 48 state parks -- including some popular Southern California beaches -- releasing far more prison inmates than previously projected and increasing car fees for the second straight year as part of his solution to the state's fiscal crisis.
Guess we might have a revenue problem after all.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Kissing Hands, Shaking Babies

A great piece and photo essay about one New Hampshire writer and parent's efforts to get his baby into the arms of each major presidential candidate. He did it, and the results are both adorable and anecdotally telling.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Why My Mom Doesn't Like Obama Anymore



About halfway through, when Hillary is asked why everyone likes Obama better. She reacts. He interjects a comment. I don't see it as having been as mean a comment as my mom does. But boy is she angry at him. What do you think?

And she had a really great opening line on her speech tonight. I agree with that.

Question Time: Who Picks Up Edwards's Votes

The Englishman asks: if this is the end of Edwards's campaign - either officially (which it won't be) or effectively (which it might be), to which candidate do his supporters turn?

He was the VP nominee in '04 - does that establishment angle swing his support to Clinton, whose campaign staff and machine represent the rest of the establishment? Or does the voter attracted by Edwards's youth and vigor turn to the other young guy and back Obama?

I don't really know.

End of Edwards Era, Most Likely

I wish the comeback kid thing would work for him - based solely, again, on an odd sense of nostalgia. He was never my favorite. His talking points tonight attempt to remind the country that we're two tiny states down and 48 more larger ones to go. But the rest of his speech is the same. Liver transplant patient anecdote and all.

The fact that a star from Desperate Housewives is standing behind him kinda says it all.

And as for Hillary - the Clinton magic is a family thing, clearly. Who knew. Even if Obama wins, he will have lost because he won't have won by enough. This flummoxes my husband, as it should.

It does seem, however, that this race will make it past Iowa and New Hampshire for both parties, however, which is pretty awesome. Think of it: actual races.

And for my friend Catherine, who's no doubt slightly teary with fatigue, hope, dedication, and passion in Nevada at their Clinton headquarters: I'm truly happy for you because you took the step of heading out and putting your hard work behind your candidate and you get to keep fighting. That's a great feeling, isn't it? No matter what, I think the one conclusion that's safe to move forward with: turnout should remain high as a contest energizes all parts of the base. That thrills me.

It should thrill you too, dear reader.

Arkansas: It's In In 2008

Serioulsy, what's up with Arkansas. First, Huckabee sees wild success in Iowa and now the Governor - ours - says he'll model a proposed spending initiative on the Arkansas model. Really? I don't know their success rate there, so I won't knock it without reading up. It's just not often Arkansas is the model for much of anything, right?

For that matter, forumlaic determinations of budget expenditures have never come back to bite our collective California arse, right?

What? They have? Oh. Right. Well. This time would be different. Because it would. Look, why are you fighting this.

Yes, Soon, California Will Be Known As The State That Cares About Its Employees. Oh No!

The Roundup excerpts reaction to a report on the costs of covering public employee benefits:

The panel's refusal to call for a reining in of benefits irked some fiscal conservatives. They say government workers in California are more richly compensated than their counterparts in other states and at private companies.

"'Other states simply don't unilaterally grant retirees these healthcare benefits for life,' said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn.

"He said the commission should have proposed cutting the costly health benefits and raising the retirement age of state workers.

"Former Republican Assemblyman Keith Richman, who is leading an effort to place an initiative on the ballot that would cut pension benefits for government workers, agreed.

"'We have people retiring at age 50 with more than 100 percent of their salaries and lifetime health benefits, and the commission didn't address that at all,' he said. 'The benefits offered to public employees in this state are extravagant. . . . It is just wrong.'"
Why is it wrong? Because they are public employees? At a time when we're bemoaning the break down of pension programs in corporate America, what, is it just unfair that anyone gets the benefits due after the requisite years of service? Why is it that public employees are expected to be altruistic with their job skills, gifting the state with their work and expecting next to nothing in return? Or, if you choose to believe that private industry doesn't get all mushy and lovey with its benefits packages, why shouldn't the state be a more model employer, setting up ample security to keep people from siphoning public reasources later on? I just don't buy the argument that California's goal should be to suck as much as other states or private entities. There's some inspirational goal setting.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Why I Feel Bad For Hillary. Kinda

I was watching Matt Lauer interview Hillary Clinton this morning. Most of the questions were very much along the lines of "so, Mrs. Clinton, now that you're getting your bottom handed to you, how will you fight back and how can you possibly overcome this young, sexy candidate who's beating you." What a difference a caucus makes, eh?

Why I feel bad for Hillary:

Because she is and always has been smart enough to become President on her own. Without being Mrs. Clinton. Without having lived through what she's lived through. She didn't need to come second in the family. And forgetting all that - this is a woman who's enjoyed presumptions of strong victory who now faces presumptions of stinging defeat due to the results of one state and the likely results of one other - neither of which have significant populations (I mean quantitatively, not qualitatively). Even though the numbers should still matter, they won't. New Hampshire may be unrecoverable at this point - as may her hopes of winning the primary, let alone the presidency. It all seems screamingly unfair. If every state caucused or held a primary on the same day, the results would likely be far different (or perhaps not if Obama replicated his, by all accounts, stellar field organization nationwide). Sadly, though, no one jumps on a wheeless bandwagon, so even if the mathematical results of Iowa and New Hampshire are meaningless, we know full well that the practical results are conclusive.

Why I don't feel bad for Hillary:

When you accept the mantle of front runner nearly one year before the election and nearly that much again before the first primary, you should know damn well that EVERYONE - opponents and the story spinners - will hope desparately for your downfall. Because "Front runner continues running at the front" takes too many column inches. "Front runner falls" can be printed in much larger letters. You had to know it would come to this, right? Perhaps in future elections candidates will push states to return their primaries to reasonable months and days and refuse to really get started until closer to the actual election year. Too much time creates boredom and the candidate who doesn't get that deserves little more than the loss she ends up with.

Oh and:

None of this should be used to draw conclusions about my opinion of Hillary as a presidential candidate or my relative levels of support for her campaign. If you want to know, I don't want her to be the nominee and I don't think she'd make a good nominee, though she may make a perfectly reasonable president. But that commentary above is about the game, not the players. Well, it's a little about the players. I say this especially because I was chastized for giving Obama high marks last week and from this were drawn conclusions that I am backing Obama. I'm not. Yet. I don't have a favorite. Truly. I wish I did. I've long said that Edwards may get my old-skool-'04 loyalty vote. Unless things get really interesting in the next few primaries, my California vote won't matter anyway. Bottom line: at some point when I make up my mind, we'll definitely be in "do as I say and not as I do" land.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Sharks With Frickin' Laser Beams On Their Foreheads

American Airlines to test anti-missile system

Okay.

And The Professor Says

John J. Pitney's comments on what Huckabee means for conservatism. Short answer: nothing good.

Huckabee’s victory highlights a populist strain in the GOP. Populism has a long history and variety of features, but we can roughly define it as the union of traditional moral values and “little guy” economics. It’s God vs. Gomorrah in the bedroom, David v. Goliath in the boardroom.

Thursday night was hardly the first time that populism had left its mark on a GOP nomination contest. In 1988, Pat Robertson placed second in the Iowa caucuses, ahead of George H. W. Bush. Four years later, Pat Buchanan won a surprising 40 percent in the New Hampshire primary. In 1996, Buchanan came close to Bob Dole in Iowa and actually beat him in New Hampshire.

Robertson and Buchanan faded quickly, in part because of their demeanors. Robertson seemed weird, while Buchanan looked mean. Huckabee could last longer because he comes across as sane and nice.

More than mere image, Robertson and Buchanan suffered from limited appeal to orthodox conservatives. According to the Club for Growth, Huckabee takes “profoundly anti-growth positions on taxes, spending, and government regulation.” For Huckabee to succeed where Robertson and Buchanan failed, one of two things must happen. Either he must mislead GOP voters into thinking that he is an economic conservative, or those voters must stop caring. Either way, a Huckabee victory would be very bad news for conservatism as we know it.
Reading all of the collected blurbs on the Huckabee Implication has me wondering: for all their concern over the fate of conservatism, do these conservative experts exist in a Bush-free vacuum? Has Bush truly been better for conservatism? I can appreciate the importance of evaluating Huckabee as Huckabee and not as a comparison point, but if you're going to use historical comparison ("shades of 1998" has been the theme so far), then how can you ignore the very recent, still going down history of the Bush era?

Daniel Casse frames Huckabee against the Democrats' hopes:

I don’t know what Huckabee means for conservatism. But it promises a helluva party for the angry Left. Since Thanksgiving, the New York Times has been positively giddy about the possibility that the GOP was firmly in the hands of a genuine Bible-thumper. “They’re arguing about Jesus again,” was the plain meaning of the half dozen front-page “news analyses” the paper feverishly put together on the Huckabee surge. People for the American Way appears to have an entire team posting news about Huck’s progress, including a story crowing “We Like Mike.” And why not? They are scripting the fundraising video, likely set to the music from Jaws, as we sit here. Ditto the American Civil Liberties Union, where they are probably studying his “Silent Night” ad in Iowa as if it were the Zapruder film. Can you imagine the gleeful warnings about Huckabee’s American that you will be hearing on the Air America Guatemala cruise in February? Liberal interest groups haven’t had such an enviable fundraising opportunity since George W. Bush raised the arsenic level in kids’ drinking water. The Democratic direct-mail barons are doing handsprings. “I Like Mike,” they are shouting. School prayer. Back-alley abortions. Supreme Court nominees. Christian Nation. For them, happy days are here again.
Hell, I'm even more for him now, in that case.

And somehow John Hood concludes that the big winner in the Huckabee win is . . . Rudy Giuliani. God help us.

Oh, and one of the pundits in the piece DID mention the small matter of the supposedly conservative party's supposedly conservative leader being kinda freakin' liberal, saying:

Most expected Huckabee to win Iowa, but his actual victory is somewhat sobering. I believe a Huckabee nomination would be a major step backward for conservatism, given his liberalism, apart from social issues. It’s true that George Bush isn’t completely conservative either (e.g. spending and immigration), but he has strong conservative credentials on the “big three”: taxes, national security and social issues (judges). Huckabee is weak on immigration and only a sure thing on one of the big three.
Perhaps the best part about post-caucus analysis is that most media outlets and pundits - those that have spent the last year building up Iowa as a telling and predictive battle, a stage on which all of 2008 could be fought quickly and ahead of schedule - now have the chance to dismiss Iowa because of its peculiar system and idiosyncratic residents. But NEW HAMPSHIRE, yes, New Hampshire, now THAT's a real test . . . .

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Obama Says

"People who love this country can change it."

I hope so.

And he thanks the field organizers and focuses quite a bit on the mechanics of the win as a structure on which to hang his larger message of hope. That's good. Organization for change. A good plan. A plan at all, which is a start. Looking at the signs in the room, I certainly can sum up the Obama candidacy in a single word, which is helpful. Change.

Huckabee didn't quite quote "no change for change's sake" but he came close. I think that second part - change plus - is tremendously helpful and Obama would do well to incorporate that angle in his message. It's there, but it needs highlighting.

He's more Clintonian than Hillary Clinton with his references to Iowans and their stories. And he can speak circles around Hillary too.

Yup, I will say now, risking being totally wrong later, that Obama will be the nominee and we're at least one, probably two more primaries from knowing for certain who the Republican counterpart will be.

We are not a collection of red states and blue states, we are the United States of American and in this moment, in this election, we are ready to believe again.
I know I am.

Hey, It's About WE We, Not You We

Huckabee just said "it's not about me, it's about we." Someone call Herb Wesson and tell Herb to call Huckabee to ask for residuals. I knew we should've put that on a t-shirt.

Quick, someone tell me why Huckabee is scary again. Is his real name Oral Roberts? 'Cause I've known some really nice Baptist ministers. No, I'm not going to vote for him - but at one time, circa 1999, I was of the belief that (most) Republicans weren't bad, they just had different ideas about how to get there. There being a better place. Then came the neoconservatives. But if we could go back to being different, not good and bad, that'd be nice. To quote from Miss Congeniality, I really do want world peace.

Huckabee's speech sounds good. Really good. Read it in a CMC class and play "spot the political allusion" good. I heard Reagan and other great Republicans of yore, but I also here classic liberalism, progressive rhetoric, weight, valor, heart, comfort, and reason.

Wanting a good, spirited debate in the general election isn't such a bad thing, is it? Is this the euphoria of an election night that bodes very well for Democratic GOTV efforts in the fall?

I'm going to need a copy of that speech.

Will, as Chris Matthews wonders, the establishment candidates regain control in the coming weeks and elections, or is this the real deal. The last non-establishment wondercandidate didn't make it out of Iowa, so I'd say what happens in Iowa might not stay there.

From Huckabee's speech, through the magic of DVR playback:

A prairie fire of new hope and zeal . . . The country years for leadership that recognizes that when one is elected to public office, one is not elected to be part of the ruling class, he's elected to be part of a serving class because we the people are the ruling class of America. G.K. Chesterson once said a true soldier fights not because he hates those who are in front of him, but because he loves those who are behind him. I recognize that running for office is not hating those are in front of us, it's loving those who are behind us.
Heartland, check. Slap at current administration, check. Populist connection to the voters, check and check. Coded reference to Christian values of service and faithful following, check. Reference to war, soldiers, support for veterans and peaceniks, check, check, check, damn-near check. Am I giving him too much credit or was that a finely crafted piece of Capra-esque yet sincere speechwriting? Awesome. Just awesome.

Oh, in case you're curious, here's Chesterson's wiki entry. Had you heard of him? I hadn't. Christian, English, eventually converted to Catholicism. I'll have to read up more. Of course, as poetic as the statement is, I don't necessarily agree with it because, post 9/11, I firmly believe that war is not the answer, no matter how much you love those behind you. But anyway . . . . also, note that he changes from "one" being elected to office to "he" being elected to office. I know, over-read, but still. I'd stick with "one."

Fascinating night. And I'm blogging. Mmmm, good day.

P.S. I find the differences between GK and AK Chesterton interesting and possibly VERY telling:

Arthur Kenneth Chesterton, MC (1896 — August 16, 1973) was a far right-wing politician and journalist, instrumental in founding a number of right-wing organisations in Britain, primarily in opposition to the break-up of the British Empire, and later adopting a broader anti-immigration stance.

He is not to be confused with his very different cousin, the author G. K. Chesterton, who was fiercely anti-Imperialist and a persistent critic of what he called "the "solemn fools of Teutonism"--his derisive term for those who claimed that the 'Germanic' races were superior to all others (Illustrated London News, January 11, 1919).

Some Kernels Of Interest

From what they are saying on TV:

- Nearly a doubling of Democratic turn-out in the 2008 versus 2004. If Iowa is in play, that's pretty damn cool. 212,000 caucus goers according to 91% of precincts reported. Holy crap.

- The Governor of Iowa calls this the greatest party building event of his lifetime.

- The two predicted winners are the two youngest candidates.

- 56% of the turnout was comprised of first-time caucus goers. And of those asked, a majority said they favored "change" over "experience" in their candidate - and those people voted for Obama 51 to 19.

- This is the first time there's a lack of a presumed nominee since 1952. (Of course, there have been several "presumed" over the last few weeks, but let's ignore that, eh, Media?)

- Poll data show Romney's negative messaging backfired while Huckabee's populist message hit a home run. He's a Reep who is tired of the current bunker mentality of the administration. Wow. How about that.

- Andrea Mitchell is continuing to shred the Potemkin Clinton party - she cites the deluge of union members as evidence that this is a B.S. collection of non-true-believers. And Matthew's notes that the Clinton's are carefully timing their comments to maximize television coverage in all time zones. Classic.

- I love Elizabeth Edwards. Just for the record.

- I think I kinda love John Edwards too. Doesn't mean I'll vote for him, necessarily. But I do. And his wife is calling him the 2d place finisher. Probably right.

- Edwards: "Status quo lost and change won." That's true - just not sure Edwards is change. And he cites this election as proving money doesn't equal victory. Must've listened to McCain's speech too.

- Go google up some of the entrance polls - these NBC people imply they have some on their site. I'm quoting them on any numbers on here. Dunno if I'll get around to linking to anything - but you can go find it. The final data sets will probably change anyway.

- If the upcoming primaries are as exciting - turn-out and demographics wise - it's going to be really, really hard to stay home come summer. And fall. Or next week. [Wink.] It feels less dire and far more hopeful right now. Not like 2004. Think about it: Bush can't be reelected so this MUST be a better year for us all. (God, I hope that statement doesn't doom us - it's a dumb thing to say.) I'm sparked by the election for the first time. It's 2008 now. It's time.

Popped Corn

Okay, so I was half right. Almost. No, I'll call my Reep prediction a win. Don't think I am necessarily alone in my predicting, but whatever.

To make more predictions, if Obama's current predicted win remains decisive enough (and to be clear, "decisive" in this case means "per media declaration" rather than mathematics) then I think as goes Iowa, so goes the rest of the Democratic Party.

On the Republican side, however, I think we need New Hampshire and probably Michigan or South Carolina (didn't South Carolina used to be more prominent than it is now? I can't recall) to shake out the actual nominee. Why? Because in other states Huckabee's Baptist background is going to hurt more than help. Maybe. But when you're biggest competition is Mormon. Ack, what are people to do with their religious bigotry then? If Huckabee can win again in New Hampshire, the money will POUR in and we'll see if his runner legs become more useful metaphors.

Back to the Dems though: I'm watching MSNBC because I prefer Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann to Wolf and whomever on CNN (and we'll quite obviously skip FNC completely). Matthews opined, given American history, that the results of this caucus reflect our historical willingness to extend the franchise to African Americans before women. If you look at the math, however, I'm not sure that theory - as sexy as it is - will really bear out in the final analysis. And any conclusions you might wish to draw from Hillary's potential 3d place finish are inexorably connected to her status as the former First Lady of our most dynamic - and most polarizing - Presidents. You can't, therefore, evaluate her as The Woman Candidate without adding a Bondsian asterisk to the end that makes her The Woman Candidate Who Is Married To Bill Clinton, Beloved By All, Yet She, Sir, Is No Bill Clinton.

David Gregory (also a journo I really enjoy) had some great commentary on the feel of a Democratic precinct caucus. He used the words uncynical, thoughtful, and energized at the school he observed. He lauded the level of organization from the Obama camp as impressive. Contrary to my prior post's comments about Edwards probably having a good field game given his pedigree and past ties to Kerry's people, apparently his website sent supporters to wrong school in that precinct. That's insane. And Chris Dodd's precinct captain was called out of town. Not that it really mattered, I suppose. Anyway, Gregory said it was a dynamic process carried out by serious people. I think that's cool.

McCain's comments on the Iowa results (made from New Hampshire) are telling: he slapped at Romney by saying the Iowa results show you can't buy elections (I would say, you do, but some are savvier shoppers than others - or just purchase better product) and that negative campaigning doesn't work. That's bullshit, but it feels good to think about the world that way. Huckabee made a negative ad, but didn't show it. Except the one time he showed it during a press conference. I'll have to check out YouTube for examples of ads that ran - I don't know what was out there.

It looks now like Clinton and Edwards are going to stay nearly tied for 2d place. That makes sense, I suppose. Obama is sexy and new, no doubt. As much as Hillary is "new" because she's a woman, she and Edwards are both as old-hat as any other Presidential Candidate (TM). Maybe this will be the election where young people truly do swing the results. Time will tell.

The last comment on Hillary: Andrea Mitchell at the Clinton HQ called the celebration "manufactured" and "funeral-like" - a dirge. Ouch. Yikes. So Hillary "Come-Back Kid" is the next message we'll see. Could be too little too late.

Right time, wrong woman. That sucks.

Memories: During last cycle's caucus results, I was flying to New Hampshire to enjoy the last few days before that election. I was on a plane, sleeping, when Dean screamed his campaign's death knell. When I finally made it to Manchester, it was Kerry Time. And that was that. There in the snows of Iowa and the ice of New Hampshire, our party managed to select the one person who couldn't do the job when a sea slug with a Donkey tattoo should've been able to beat Bush. What will happen in the next two weeks for both parties will likely be spectacularly interesting. At least, I hope so. And I hope both parties make better choices than they did in 2004.

I lied - one more last comment - David Axelrod's answer just now to Chris Matthew's question of whether Obama offers the most dramatic alternative to Bush was AWFUL. Maybe it was the acoustics in the room making it hard for him to hear and respond - but all I'm taking away is that Obama is a uniter not a divider. No really. Damn near verbatim. That's awful. Hopefully the candidate is better at his own message.

Corn Futures

Who's it gonna be?

Part of me wants the results of tonight's caucuses to shed light on the inner biases that keep this country a step behind the rest of the world. If you think about it, all the major front runners have something "wrong" with them, at least according to some ignorant part of the population. A Mormon, an African American, a woman, a New Yorker, ANOTHER guy from Hope, Arkansas. Who wins? Which kind of Christian voters turn out for which kind of Christian?

And on the Democratic side: if history has any bearing at all then I'd say it will be between Edwards and Clinton because Edwards ran with Kerry who understood the importance of a ground campaign when Dean put all his eggs in the new-media basket and got whalloped accordingly. Then again, Mrs. Clinton is backed by mostly former Kerry people or other establishment heavies who can still work a midwestern state with the best of 'em.

So let's see - I'll be wrong, but I'll go with:

Democrats: Edwards over Hillary by no more than 3 points, with Obama not far behind. Who knows, perhaps the first 3 lose to Dodd or someother Kerry-esque, standard issue candidate. Actually, Dodd's not so bad.

Republicans: Mormon or Arkansan. Oh the choices. It's more bible-belty, though I think Mitt is the more mature candidate. But I saw Huckabee on Leno last night (I only watched 'cause of the issues discussed in yesterday's post - and those predictions were wrong) and he was great. And he rocked a bass guitar. I don't think he'd make it to the end, but he's really damn likable. And - having just watched "Jesus Camp," if people are going to pray to cardboard cutouts of Christian presidents, at least I'd like that one. And maybe the Iowan runner vote is very strong, in which case, Norris and Iowans will agree on Huckabee.

We'll see what happens . . . .