- On the wonderfully ignominious collapse of Rudy!, I think Noam Scheiber gets it right: “Was Rudy’s strategy flawed, or was it the candidate? I say the latter. Rudy spent a good chunk of time and money in New Hampshire in November and December. The net effect was to move his numbers down.” Right. Claims that Giuliani’s problem was strategy ignores not only the substantial amount of time and money he spent in New Hampshire but the fact that he effectively pulled out early for good reason; he was cratering. It’s hard to see that just doing the same thing would have suddenly started working. The Florida firewall strategy had no chance of working, but that’s because nothing can work when active campaigning actually hurts your numbers. It should also be noted that Giuliani was never a genuine frontrunner; you’d think that Lieberman 2004 would have made it clear that national polls well in advance of the primaries mean virtually nothing, but some people apparently have ot be reminded every four years.
- John Holbo wonders how conservative pundits who have been attacking John McCain relentlessly (“perhaps not more liberal than Obama?” These people are nuts…) will deal with his impending nomination. It should be easy for conservatives to get over their McCain issues since overall he was always the most conservative of the major candidates, but of course if these pundits were rational they would already see that. I think he’s leaving out the most obvious one, though. If the Democrats give the GOP the gift of Clinton, which still seems very likely, these pundits can pretty much ignore McCain and focus entirely on Hillary Clinton’s purported Trotskyism, murder and drug running operations, “shrillness,” her husband’s penis, etc. This almost exclusively misogynist resentment plus Clinton derangement strategy may not be enough — ask Bob Dole — but it’s clearly where the conservative punditocracy is headed.
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Santana to Mets, assuming that the Wilpon who passed on Vladimir Guerrero doesn’t come back. It sure was a great idea for Minnesota taxpayers to give their multi-billionaire owner a $400 mil. subsidy. Gomez does seem like a legitimate propsect, although he’s a risky tools guy. The pitchers, eh. Excellent trade for the Metropolitans, the Twins probably did as well as they could but it will be an upset if they get full value, especially since the service time clock is already running on Gomez.
Elsewhere, I’m probably also hoping that Angelos as usual undercuts his GM and kills the Bedard trade. I’m a little ambivalent because I love Bedard and the Mariners really need an ace. But 1)Jones is a tremendous prospect, 2)Bedard is excellent but not Santana, 3)doesn’t seem open to an extension, and 4)has helath concerns.
In a 20-minute address, Mr. Kennedy hailed Mr. Obama’s ability to transcend racial divisions. Mr. Kennedy, who associates said had become furious by the tone of the Democratic campaign, including the words and actions of former President Bill Clinton, said Mr. Obama would usher in a new era of politics.
The strongest case to be made for Clinton is that her willingness to fight hard if not dirty will make her the strongest candidate against the GOP in the fall. And I don’t think this is a frivolous argument by any means. Although Obama has shown some ability to fight back (cf. his reply to John Howard, and he did a good job of replying-to-without-naming the Clintons on Saturday) at times he can seem unnecessarily defensive in response to even mild attacks. On the other hand, while I like the idea of having a street fighter as a candidate in the abstract I think one also has to question whether the specific tough tactics being used by Clinton have actually been effective. Given the complete blowout in South Carolina and the recent rash of Obama endorsements, it’s hard to make the case that Bill Clinton going on the offensive has been particularly helpful to Clinton’s campaign. The odious Jesse Jackson invocation was additionally dismaying because it seemed to reflect a very dim view of 2008 Democratic primary voters, and it’s one that I don’t think is terribly well justified. I think Clinton does have some very real political skills, and she may well be the strongest candidate in the general election, but her primary campaign hasn’t been terribly effective given the large advantages she started the race with.
And one can say the same thing about some of her policy panders. I can maybe see it in the immediate aftermath of Texas v. Johnson when such silliness briefly became a salient issue, but at this late date does anyone think that sponsoring
Constitution flag-burning legislation is going to convince anyone to vote for her? I actually am inclined to think that her vote on the war represents a sincere conviction that the war was right, but for those who think that it was political positioning her judgment has quite clearly been erroneous — her position on the war bot would deprive her of a crucial issue in the general but also could quite possibly cost her the Democratic nomination. I’m all for politics being the art of the possible, but Clinton’s political instincts don’t always seem especially sound to me.
Or, to put it another way, not only does Mark Penn make me worry a little bit about the policy direction of a Clinton administration (compared to the other major Dems), I see little reason to believe that he’s any great shakes as a political tactician either.
Hillary Clinton, who has supported the war from the beginning, applauds the surge. Maybe this doesn’t disqualify her from the Democratic nomination, but being consistently wrong on the most important issue of the Bush era has to create a presumption against your candidacy when you’re running against two credible, electable progressive candidates. In the cheap pandering category, she uses claims that she will deport illegal aliens accused of crimes with “no legal process.”
Brad Plumer, writing about John McCain’s stated intention to delegate his judicial nomination decisions to Sam Brownback, correctly notes that liberals who expect a secret socially liberal McCain to emerge from behind a mask of 0% NARAL ratings, votes for Robert Bork, support for complete bans on abortion, etc. are people you definitely want to invite to your next poker game.
To add to the amusement, Brad notes the apparent conservative consternation over McCain’s alleged statement that he would appoint justices like John Roberts but not like Sam Alito. So, in other words, instead of appointing justices who will reach conservative results in 24 out of 24 5-4 cases he’ll appoint…justices who will reach conservative results in 24 out of 24 5-4 cases. To call the distinction between them “paltry” may overstate it; they’re remarkably similar judges, wrapping wholly doctrinaire reactionary positions behind a meaningless veneer of formal minimalism. If you switched the names on their opinions at random I don’t think anyone could tell the difference. I’d love for a reporter to have McCain explain the distinction, but at any rate what we’ve learned is that if John McCain was president by the end of his term Antonin Scalia would probably be the median vote on the Court.
Apparently, there really were journalists who took George W. Bush’s transparently meaningless boilerplate about bipartisanship seriously, and thought that someone who sometimes cut deals with one of the most reactionary legislatures in the country would be a moderate in national terms. Huh. It’s doubly surprising that people would be willing to admit it 7 years later, though. Indeed, Wesiberg still seems to think not that he got Bush wrong but that Bush mysteriously changed after roughly his second month in office. Sad.
Let’s just hope we avoid the inevitable Weisberg editorial in 2013: “I can’t believe John McCain turned out to be a conservative!“
…Yglesias has more. Another why of putting it is that when politicians start running on a platform of “keeping everything the same in Washington” and “doing everything I can to destroy cooperation and prevent Congress from solving our problems,” then politicians using bromides about bipartisanship can actually be used to infer something about how they’ll act in office.
Clinton and Obama to vote against cloture on the awful FISA legislation. Good. The two presidential candidates have the potential to be a serious counterwieght to the terrible job Reid has been doing on this issue, and I’m happy that they’ve taken responsibility.
To echo what Manohla Dargis, Glenn Kenney, Noy Thrupkaew and countless others have said, I really can’t recommend the extraordinary Romanian picture 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days strongly enough; it’s sure to be remembered as one of the peaks of the decade. Black market abortion in a miserable dictatorship is a potentially great subject for a movie, but also one fraught with peril; the temptation for easy moralizing, flat characters, earnest position paper readings, etc. is ominous. Mungiu, though, avoids them by keeping his focus on two terrific characters brought to life in nearly perfect performances. Consider the richly detailed implications of Gabita’s unwillingness to surely face her predicament, for example. And the camera placements — maintaining focus on Otilia as the normal uncomfortable tedium if a dinner party with condescending friends/relatives-of-the boyfriend becomes unbearably tense because of the knowledge of her friend back on the hotel, or mostly away from Gabita as the coldly exploitative doctor unravels her story and alludes to the new arrangement while Ortilla’s recognition slowly dawns — are superb, always serving the story and characters rather than showing off. It’s also remarkably adept at portraying the deprivations and humilations of Romania under the last years of Ceaucescu.
Mungui is clearly a major new director, and it’s a great film. See it as soon as you have the opportunity.
Well, that’s enough; I’m no longer willing to be charitable about all the Clinton surrogates who just happen to mention Obama’s suspiciously Muslim middle name, teenaged drug use, etc. etc. Clinton’s Jesse Jackson comparison is straight out of the Bill Schneider “Sure, Democrats win the African-American vote, but how will they do among real voters?” school, with even less plausible deniability.
But I’m sure many of the people thrilled about the good old-fashioned bare-knuckled politics she showed in seeking ex post facto electoral rule changes to steal a substantial block of delegates will also admire her campaign’s race-baiting — hey, at least she’ll be our Machiavellian bastard, right? (Note: Machiavellian street-fighting guarantee void during GOP foreign policy catastrophes, although they will reappear if necessary to distort the records of people who actually got the war right.) And when she amends her flag-burning legislation to require every state Capitol in the country to display the Confederate flag, hey, that may be worth a few votes in Florida, right? And when Mark Penn, Union Buster (TM) drafts a constitutional amendment to overturn the Wagner Act…