Friday, March 30, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
With John Kerry out of the '08 race (remember those giant sandals?) the flips and flops are all happening on the GOP side this round. A short opinion article in today's Indianapolis Star provides a mini-summary (but I don't think my Governor is a flip-flopper, just an actor). The GOP cannot decide whether they want to be "principled" and go with, say, a proud reality-hater like Sam Brownback, or go with a new conservative convert like, say, the rest of the field (even Huckabee breaks the far-Right mold with his hippie love of art and music).
Executive Flip-Flopper: Over the weekend there was an excellent Los Angeles Times article evaluating the formation of flip-flopping Willard Romney has danced in the past several months. Abortion, gays, trees and air--old Mitt is ready to change his mind. But for all the "Right" reasons, of course.
Straight Talk Flipper: McCain is the real pro this season, and this video on YouTube shows how it's done.
Mayoral Flipping: Now, Rudy! Giuliani feels left out and employs a turnaround on the flat tax issue (which worked very well for Steve Forbes).
Bonus Media Flopping: This isn't exactly a flip-flop but it is definitely intellectual flailing, and it has been driving me crazy this week-- Chris Matthews seems to believe there's a big metaphorical monster waiting to take down Hillary (with nothing but his own flip-from-Democrat-to-Republican past as a framework to guide him).
I've heard Matthews push this weirdo monster idea on Hardball and Imus (he most likely just enjoys saying "horny"). Here's how he puts down the concept:
Is there out in the country, or out in the Atlantic Ocean, some gigantic monster, big, green, horny-headed—all kinds of horns coming out, big aggressive monster of anti-Hillaryism that hasn‘t shown itself; it‘s based upon gender, the fact that she is a liberal, that she is Bill—and that hasn‘t shown itself, because people are being so nice in the polling, they are saying all the correct things? Is there an anti-Hillary monster waiting out there that could deliver this nomination, or this election, to someone else? [Chris Matthews on Hardball, 3/26/07]
Matthews also keeps pushing the line that America is not ready to elect a woman, or at least Hillary. His circumstantial proof is that because no one in the media wants to discuss that Hillary actually is a woman, then the nation is not ready. The last time I checked, Matthews had 2 of his own shows on the TV. Maybe he should stop complaining about the dearth of talk about Hillary's gender and step up to the plate to discuss the topic on those shows. Or even more importantly, why the Atlantic Ocean? The Pacific Ocean has better monsters.
by Joe Justice at 9:15 AM
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Former Senator Bill Bradley was on Meet the Press this past Sunday pushing his new book, "The New American Story" (yes, I still watch the show, despite my rants). To be honest, throughout the entire mini-interview I was puzzled as to what Bradley was talking about or what exactly Bradley is bringing to the political debate these days.
Two of Bradley's "democratic curses" he discussed were my favorites:
(1) Russert: You talk about closed-minded devotion to the secular. Do you think the Democrats have been reluctant to talk about faith? Bradley: I think that the Democrats—some people in the Democratic Party have been reluctant to talk about faith, and not so much just in a religious sense, but in terms of how it informs our public life.
"Some people," my friends! Add Bradley to the picture board!
This "liberals don't like church" line is a very dull Fox News kind of talking point that the media loves. Pastor Russert in particular loves to talk about this despite any empirical reality backing him up (look here, and here, and wow, especially here).
I am befuddled as to how Senator Bradley can seriously fail to acknowledge that Obama, Edwards, or even Clinton have begun to turn the page on this alleged "curse." Look here, and here, and even here as evidence that Bradley is stuck in his 2000 race for the nomination and that 2008 is doing just fine in that regard, thank you.
The other favorite of mine was this one:
(2) Bradley claims the Democrats are "hypnotized by charisma," and that "the party has, has tended to look for a knight on a shining—on a white horse to solve all our problems." Does this explain nominee John Kerry in 2004? No way. Al Gore? Um... lockbox? I would suggest that Bradley is taking a pre-emptive shot at the Obama candidacy. When he was asked about Obama, Bradley made a fair point that Obama needs to be more specific about his goals for the nation, but also admitted it was early in the race. But while Bradley said he was impressed with Obama's crowds he noted: "I’m impressed with 20,000 people at a speech, I’d be more impressed with 5,000 meet-ups with 100 people at a meet-up." I'd be more impressed if Bradley would acknowledge Obama's singular contribution to the party in terms of energy and idealism. 5000 meet-ups does not a president make. Ask Howard Dean.
Senator Bradley's book might be marvelous. I have read all of his other books. But something tells me that Bradley has been muscled out of his own party by others with even bolder ideas, sharper idealism, and genuine charisma and he knows it.
by Joe Justice at 11:11 AM
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
by Joe Justice at 3:06 PM
Monday, March 26, 2007
by Joe Justice at 1:42 PM
Friday, March 23, 2007
President Bush has a lovely, well-propped press conference in response to the House passing an Iraq spending bill, remembers he can veto bills.
Federalism stinks, doesn't it Mr. President?
Vilsack expected to endorse Hillary Clinton on Monday. So expected it hurts. Too bad all Vilsack's voters have already wandered to the Edwards camp. But classy timing, Tom, if anything.
Rudy re-designs his webpage. Clean look and new logo, but seems under construction. So does the forming biography of his present wife. I think Rudy should use an exclamation point after his name--it just seems to be a Republican thing to do.
Congressman Tancredo hints he will join the field for the GOP nomination. So many awful choices, so little time. Come on Hagel, run!
For presidential campaign junkies, this site provides some great reminders of when the candidate fields were plentiful, like 2008 will be (especially 1988 and 1992).
Howard Fineman of Newsweek had a good take on the Edwards press conference. Saturday's New York Times will have a balanced, thoughtful look at possible voter emotions surrounding the Edwardses decision to carry on.
As of Friday afternoon, Obama had a classy front and center link to his message of best wishes for Elizabeth Edwards (including photo) on his homepage. Well done, Senator. Update: The link was gone as of 530pm PST Friday.
Final question on the Elizabeth Edwards announcement--do you think that if Edwards was the clear frontrunner, like Hillary, he would be second guessed for continuing the campaign?
by Joe Justice at 4:35 PM
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Modern presidential politics is overly personal, and has been for some time. This modern politics tends to focus on the actions of a candidate and how they can be manipulated to match superficial stereotypes that have been affixed to that image by the media.Watching John and Elizabeth Edwards this morning, a new kind of personalization was introduced to the campaign. As a couple, the candidate and his wife spoke in a plain, grassy space with the sun at their backs and they told America of an intimate development in their personal lives. Elizabeth's cancer has returned, and is not curable. The moment was too real, in some respects, because it made every viewer a witness to the vulnerability of those who seek political power. I am not sure what Americans truly expect from their political leaders anymore, but the kind of vulnerability John and Elizabeth exhibited is rare and awkward and human. Pundits and bloggers have already begun their cynical march of snide doubt and division on the matter, and this reaction can be expected, for it seems it is how one survives in America these days. But I couldn't help but wish, as I watched the Edwardses speak, that America would embrace the idea they were offering us: that honest public service is about sacrifice and hope in the name of ideas, in the name of some form of a cause that includes each and all. It is called public service because you are supposed to be a servant to the community, not just to your convictions or ambitions, but to a vision of building a community that includes every citizen, functioning in a system of order that balances both practical and impossible goals. We are all so cynical, and so afraid to believe what leaders tell us anymore. The vision of community that has persisted from our political leaders for the past several years does not include everyone, it is a vision founded on group victory, on a selfish, singular faith without reason, and on delusions of success without planning that are always mightily crafted on the backs of others. I have met John and Elizabeth and have worked for their past campaigns, and so my response to their press conference this morning was an instant, familial type of empathy. I am fully aware some will not respond that way. Some individuals will treat this situation as an opportunistic moment, a nasty reflex born out of the trail of deceits that liter our national landscape: the WMDs, the Mission Accomplisheds, the Patriot Acts, the Katrinas, the Walter Reeds. We have been systematically trained to disbelieve all sentiment. We have been aggressively trained to view compassion as weakness. I don't know how to make that stop for everyone else, but I can make it stop with me. The media has never questioned the substance of the family values of that stubborn 30% of America that adores George W. Bush and his divisive messianic visions. I am sure, however, that they will question the substance of the Edwardses family values in their decision to go forward with the campaign. Only Republicans are allowed to be resolute and principled, it seems. The significant difference is that George W. Bush is resolute in believing in his cronies and his God, but John Edwards is resolute in believing in a different America where all are included and lifted. The shared faith of John and Elizabeth was evident today, and as they constantly "look for the silver lining" within the months to come that faith will sustain them. It was a living, implied faith and not sold as a slogan. How remarkable. Senator Edwards likes to say that "It's time to ask the American people to be patriotic about something other than war," and I agree. Today the Senator and his wife asked all of us to be patriotic about that vision of an American community where public servants and the polity trade sacrifices with confident faith in one another's honest efforts to make the nation work as one. It's time to put our faith in something other than a President's certainty. I'll put my faith in John Edwards' humanity.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Various news outlets are reporting that Senator Edwards will make some kind of announcement with his wife at noon on Thursday.
by Joe Justice at 11:26 PM
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
George W. Bush has forcefully stuffed seven years of non-existent straw men down our throats, namely variations of the "Some people say..." rhetorical device (when no people say), and now Hillary Clinton (ever the ambitious one) has gone and done the President one better.
by Joe Justice at 3:35 PM
by Joe Justice at 9:15 AM
Monday, March 19, 2007
by Joe Justice at 3:22 PM
Recently, Greg and I attended an event for John Edwards at the UCLA campus. Both of us noted the complete lack of security for the event. Several hundred college students and members of the public filled and surrounded a courtyard as Edwards spoke. Sure, you may say, it's John Edwards--who'd want to harm him, besides Ann Coulter? And in fairness, I never witnessed any security at an Iowa caucus event for Edwards or his wife or for any of the other candidates in 2004. But something tells me 2008 is different. The intensity at any public gathering seems greater than ever, and the thin line of American politeness appears to have thinned.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Mr. McCain: “Well I think it’s a combination. The guy I really respect on this is Dr. Coburn. He believes – and I was just reading the thing he wrote– that you should do what you can to encourage abstinence where there is going to be sexual activity. Where that doesn’t succeed, than he thinks that we should employ contraceptives as well. But I agree with him that the first priority is on abstinence. I look to people like Dr. Coburn. I’m not very wise on it.”
(Mr. McCain turns to take a question on Iraq, but a moment later looks back to the reporter who asked him about AIDS.)
Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”
Friday, March 16, 2007
This Sunday, Russert is "moderating" a show dedicated to the four year anniversary of the Iraq War (I think the proper gift is Paper). Here's the guest list: Chuck Schumer, Tom Andrews, Tom DeLay, Richard Perle, Joe Sestak. If that were the guest list for a dinner party I was attending, I would be sure to bring my flask. Since it's only Russert's Sunday show, I'll just hit snooze. Question for the group: What has happened to Meet the Press lately? The show used to be an excellent way to begin a Sunday, providing informative and up-close views of leaders and opinion-makers. With all of the significant issues facing the nation, one would think there would be plenty of grist for Russert's mill. Sadly, the shows have been a bore.Thank goodness for Frank Rich, at least. Enjoy the weekend.
by Joe Justice at 4:41 PM
This is rich (not Marc). Former President Clinton is apparently complaining about the New York Times' recent treatment of his wife, in comparison to the way it is treating Senator Barack Obama. Did Bill miss this oddly substance-free front page article the Times ran on Obama's past investments earlier this month (the one with the negative tone that allowed other news outlets to spread innuendo like this)? Or perhaps the awful Maureen Dowd column shortly after Obama's presidential announcement where, among other things, Dowd described Obama as "testy," "irritated," and "conflicted"? I'm sure Bubba caught this objectively kind Times article about the Mrs. from the 15th of March framing Hillary's flailing statements on Iraq as "nuance." (If you click on the link, doesn't that picture look like a halo? Are you scared yet?)Thus, far, Hillary's campaign and it's "conversation" with America has offered a lot of whining and hesitation and not many policy proposals or steps toward transformational change. What gives?
Methinks Bill should save his energy for enemies that, well, actually exist.
According to ABC News, Karl Rove is more directly tied to the Bush Administration's plan to fire all of the US Attorneys for purely political reasons, er, I mean in the fight against Terror. Yet the national media ignores the story. Too bad Anna Nicole wasn't a US Attorney. Or for that matter David Geffen. This clip of Josh Marshall's appearance on Countdown with Keith Olbermann explains the significance of the attempted and actual firings perfectly.Adam Nagourney--a reporter who does not handle Democrats with much fairness or maturity (especially John Edwards)--writes a front-page article about John McCain's 2008 troubles for today's New York Times. Overall it's a bland affair, but this mini-paragraph is great:
Ironic imagery anyone? As Wonkette summarized recently, "John McCain tries to get his campaign to only suck at the level it sucked in 2000."
Could California's earlier primary be a bad thing for the far right? Here's hoping. But wait, if California helps select a more moderate GOP candidate, will that be bad for the Dems? Nevermind: the California GOP are fighting to keep the primary closed to independents. Bad news for Giuliani, good news for, say, Brownback? Regardless, I think Washington state has the best idea of all.
As for the impact of California's primary on Iowa, Tim Russert noted, "no doubt about it, Iowa will become more important now." So much can change in two months, right Mickey Kaus? I'll send you a Vilsack for President bumper sticker. There's a pile of them under my Harkin for President ones.
Finally, another great Wonkette snark you may have missed (bad word alert).
by Joe Justice at 8:37 AM
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
I'm not a fan of litmus tests, or of having single issues rule your decision-making process when it comes to political figures. But sometimes there are topics that speak to a broader capacity for both leadership and sensibility.
When pressed to confront Pace's assertions, Hillary Clinton said that she was "going to leave that to others to conclude." Sadly, Senator Barack Obama punted on the topic as well, first providing a too-clever-by-half answer--"I think traditionally the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman has restricted his public comments to military matters. That's probably a good tradition to follow."--and then with a Bushian muddled one--"I think the question here is whether somebody is willing to sacrifice for their country, should they be able to if they're doing all the things that should be done." Senator John Edwards is the only candidate, thus far, who has been willing to dismiss the notion flat-out. When Tim Russert asked Edwards in February whether homosexuality was a sin, Edwards replied, "No."
After Hillary's and Obama's initial avoidance of the issue, they then issued statements via spokespeople stating that both of them do not, in fact, consider homosexuality immoral.
What worries me about this tiny episode is not the fire in General Pace's pants over the matter--honestly, to compare homosexuality to adultery is a horribly incoherent way to prove your moral mettle--but how the opportunity it provided politicians like Hillary to display some courage was ignored.
Perhaps the adultery concept hit too close to home for Hillary, and she was in no mood to point out that a broken promise made during marriage is simply not morally comparable to one's sexual orientation.
Regardless of whether General Pace was referring to homosexual acts or homosexuality in general, his notion itself is immoral. It's not Christian by any stretch of the imagination. The religious right likes to fashion itself as a moral savior, hiding behind an unethical, lying President and Republican Party, while calling out groups it deems "immoral." It is safe to say General Pace has at one point or another violated some teaching in the Bible (working on Sunday, perhaps) but that is not of our concern. We live in an age where those who use "morals" to attack consider themselves victims of those they assail. These folks never offer proof beyond a bible passage of any harm done to them, aside from their interrupted peace of mind.
What makes Hillary Clinton's response so troubling is that she aggressively seeks money, time and support from gay voters. If she believes those gay supporters of hers are immoral, she should say so and return their money. That is her prerogative. But Hilary's spokesman now says she does not believe homosexuality is immoral. If true, then for her to sit still and allow individuals like Pace to offensively attack a group of citizens in the name of "values" is shameful and immoral. It's almost like having a pregnant, gay daughter and refusing to defend her rights while simultaneously using her to show your unique brand of "tolerance."
Hillary spoke these words in Selma, Alabama on March 4th, using a drawl only the most manipulative of maneuverers could muster: "You know, Dr. King told us -- Dr. King told us our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
I would say defending the rights of a homosexual couple who adopts a child and provides a loving home of character for that child, matters. I would say standing up to words that create an atmosphere where slander and violence against a homosexual teenager is acceptable and warranted by God, matters. Or, I would say simply stating that divisive hatred and outmoded "moral judgment" are not a proper basis for government or military policy, matters.
But I guess that's for others to conclude. Update: Clinton tries again. I wonder why Senator Warner was able to be so clear, so quickly? Or Senator Edwards? Update 2: Clinton had this to say on Bloomberg Television "Well I've heard from a number of my friends and I've certainly clarified with them any misunderstanding that anyone had, because I disagree with General Pace completely. I do not think homosexuality is immoral. But the point I was trying to make is that this policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not working. I have been against it for many years because I think it does a grave injustice to patriotic Americans who want to serve their country. And so I have called for its repeal and I'd like to follow the lead of our allies like, Great Britain and Israel and let people who wish to serve their country be able to join and do so. And then let the uniform code of military justice determine if conduct is inappropriate or unbecoming. That's fine. That's what we do with everybody. But let's not be eliminating people because of who they are or who they love." It's always like this with triangulating pols like the Clintons, they save their eloquence and passion after it's too late and only after being cornered. This kind of reactionary politics is a core reason why the Democrats lost in 2004. I sure hope we're smart enough to avoid it in 2008.
by Joe Justice at 10:19 PM
Friday, March 02, 2007
Apparently Ozone Man isn't supposed to turn on the lights.
Does anyone think it's a tiny bit more hypocritical to send thousands of sons and daughters into a war you claim is the battle of our generation but then not force your own daughters to contribute to the cause in any substantive way?
Or how about the hypocrisy of supporting a ban on gay marriage and a general anti-homosexual agenda while trotting out your own pregnant lesbian daughter as implied proof of your decency?
Or, even, how about calling yourself "fair and balanced" and then spending a whole week on Al Gore's electric bill?
by Joe Justice at 9:31 AM