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Don’t Take My Word For It

[ 0 ] January 5, 2008 |

The Clinton campaign is arguing that Obama is too “progressive” for their tastes, with a little too much background in community activism. Indeed. Obama just doesn’t have the Joementum! for Mark Penn, Union Buster.

A couple points in response to this thread:

  • Archpundit has a response to questions about the difficulty of getting the interrogation videotaping bill passed here: “It was fought tooth and nail Kevin. The cops and prosecutors were adamantly against it for some time including the Democratic Cook County Prosecutor. I swore reform was dead after the commutations, Obama pulled it off. It was an incredible sight. The end result was truly amazing. The police groups hated the idea and they hated racial profiling legislation — he passed both without angering them, but by working with them, listening, and showing good faith. I never thought it would pass with Democratic State’s Attorneys opposing it, strongly even — but he pulled everyone along and did it pretty quickly.”
  • I agree wholeheartedly that Obama isn’t “the second coming of JFK.” If you’re looking in increase the chances of a presidency with negligible, center-right domestic policy achievements combined with an ruinously idiotic war, Clinton’s your candidate (although, really, the comparison is unfair to her as well.)

Obama’s Legislative Achievements

[ 55 ] January 4, 2008 |

An important piece by Charles Peters about Obama’s work in the Illinois legislature, including working to compel both houses of the legislature into passing a law requiring videotaped confessions — the kind of civil liberties protection that it’s very difficult to get legislatures to initiate. As Hilzoy pointed out, this has often been true at the federal level as well. He’s sponsored important and generally good legislation on important but low-profile issues, as opposed to doing stuff like sponsoring idiotic and unconstitutional flag-burning legislation. When you combine this record with a stunning ability to mobilize new voters, progressive backers of Clinton against Obama should have a very uphill struggle on their hands in trying to persuade progressives to back their candidate.

Romney Hack Watch

[ 36 ] January 4, 2008 |

Not that his supporters could mount anything but the most feeble arguments, but claiming that Obama won Iowa (approximate percentage of white people: 106%) because someone wanted to vote “for someone like them” really is idiocy beyond the call of duty.


[ 8 ] January 4, 2008 |

Former Obsidian Wings blogger Andrew Olmsted was killed in Iraq. His courage was admirable, and sincerest condolences to his friends and family.

9/11. And May I Say Also , 9/11!

[ 0 ] January 4, 2008 |

As regrettable as it is that McCain is likely to be the GOP nominee, watching Rudy’s self-paradoic self-immolation will provide considerable amusement. Elsewhere, I also have to ask how Giuliani’s strategy of running token campaigns in the first two states could possibly make any sense.

Obama/Iginla ’08!

[ 0 ] January 4, 2008 |

As I turned to my distraction from inane television punditry, it occurred to me that we could see not only the first African-American president but the first NHL MVP of color in 2008. Clearly, Iginla was robbed of the ’02 MVP because of the grand cosmic plan! Everything is falling into place!

Seriously, even I skipped most of the first period to watch Obama’s speech, and I concur with the emerging consensus that it was superb. And not surprisingly so — it guarantees nothing, but he has the best political skills of any major Democrat since Bill Clinton. More generally, tonight’s events push me closer to being unambiguously pro-Obama. First, I think having lost Iowa Edwards can’t actually win; the best he can do is to stay strong enough to hand the race to Clinton, which remains the least desirable outcome. And second, his ability to mobilize new voters is a huge asset, especially since he’s also more progressive than the at least one of the two other major candidates.

And, of course I have to join Becks in saluting the U.S.’s supremely rational electoral system and the wisdom of giving the first vote to the fine citizens of Iowa…


[ 14 ] January 4, 2008 |

Obama wins in Iowa–good; hopefully Edwards will finish second. Huckabee wins the GOP, with Saint McCain currently running a distant 4th with 12%, behind Frederick of Hollywood. Which I’m sure won’t stop the inevitable narrative that this is a massive victory for the Straight Talkitude Express.

Official Non-Endorsement

[ 0 ] January 3, 2008 |

With the first caucus imminent, I guess it’s time for discussion about how we would like the primary to come out. And my answer is: it depends. To preface this, I should say that I think Clinton would be a pretty good president, and I also think she would be favored against anyone except McCain (alas, this is now looking like a big exception.) I would be happier with any of the major Dems than I was with Kerry in 2004, and I didn’t dislike Kerry. Certainly, Clinton would be infinitely preferable to any Republican opponent.

But. I can’t support her for the nomination for two reasons. The first can be summed up by Tom Tomorrow; her support for the Iraq War is both (as we saw in 2004) bad politics and bad on the merits, and anyone who thinks that Iraq isn’t going to be a major issue in 2008 is fooling themselves. The second was made well by Yglesias and Rosenfeld:

Liberal Democrats should want a nominee who is, in fact, a liberal. And liberals and moderates alike have should want a nominee who’s seen as a moderate by the median voter. Clinton, however, is a moderate who people think is a liberal. This is a terrible combination of qualities from almost every point of view — except, perhaps, for the faction of her advisers whose views are probably too right-wing to be associated with the Democratic presidential nominee, unless they can latch onto the one candidate both blessed and cursed with an undeserved reputation for liberalism. Well, bully for them. But liberals should open their eyes.

Given that there are at least two good alternatives, I just can’t see supporting a centrist candidate with a reputation as a liberal, and who also seems especially likely to mobilize what may otherwise be an undermotivated GOP base.

Since between Edwards and Obama I don’t have a strong preference, I would basically support whoever in my state had the best chance of beating Clinton. In the abstract, I would marginally prefer Edwards; he’s the best on domestic policy, although his vote for the war is a political problem (one he’s at least dealt with better than Clinton.) On the other hand, Obama seems to have a better chance to win the nomination, has formidable political skills, is more liberal than he’s perceived as being (which is what you want) and also seems to be much less hated by the press than the other two Dems. (I definitely wouldn’t bet on this to continue — especially if he’s running against St. McCain’s Straight Talkitude Express — but better uncertainty that someone we know the press will relentlessly savage all things being equal.) So knowing what I know now I would support Obama, but would happily shift to choice 1A if Edwards looks good after NH.

To reiterate, on the GOP side Romney is clearly the one to root for; he’s the least appallingly bad choice as president and would also be beaten like a rented Devil Ray in the general.

The McCain Menace

[ 30 ] January 3, 2008 |

In addition to Tom, I see that Josh Marshall — who, like me, had written off McCain’s candidacy long ago — now sees McCain as the favorite. Depressingly, I think this is right. Certainly, I agree with Josh that the GOP is now an effective two-man race between McCain and Romney, and you have to think that McCain has a good shot (although I also agree that Romney really shouldn’t be written off; he will be more acceptable to a lot of conservatives than McCain.) For reasons that Matt explains here, a McCain win would be very bad for the Dems: despite his moderate reputation he’s a fiscal and cultural reactionary with nutty foreign policy views, he has the best chance of winning of any major GOP candidate, and a McCain candidacy (especially if he’s matched up against Clinton or Edwards) would result in an anti-Democratic media bloodbath comparable to 2000. I’m definitely cheering for Romney tonight…

Anything That Involves Goalies Wearing Toques Is A Good Thing

[ 0 ] January 3, 2008 |


The Winter Classic was, in fact, pretty much the coolest thing ever (albeit in both senses), providing welcome New Year’s Day relief from the exhibition games between also-ran amateur football teams. The game not only drew more than 70,000 fans but despite the competition with said amateur football games allowed the NHL to score a rare American ratings victory over Policy Academy V reruns. As King Kaufman says, this can only mean one thing: that the business masterminds in the NHL will never do it again. If someone rational accidentally obtains decision-making authority, I’d strongly endorse the argument that the Classic act as a permanent replacement for the always unwatchable All-Star game.

To add a more general point, I remember when many fans were optimistic about Gary Bettman’s NBA-certified marketing skillz but worried that he’d be bad for the game. But while from a business standpoint his tenure has been a disaster, it must also be said that the game on the ice is in much better condition than when he took over. I would especially recommend that MLB take a good look at the post-Olympic things Bettman did eliminate unnecessary lags in the action: getting jagoff linsemen to drop the puck in a timely manner, restoring touch-up offsides, waving off icings where the defending team could clearly touch the puck, etc. Bettman gets a lot of abuse and lot of it is deserved, but in the most important aspect of his job from a fan’s standpoint he’s done pretty well. If only he would get rid of the damn shootouts…

"World’s Most Obnoxious Feminist Concern Troll"

[ 13 ] January 2, 2008 |

What should be my outrage about wrong-about-everything hack Bill Kristol getting a New York Times gig because apparently the dozens of other media outlets he seems to have unlimited access to aren’t enough is attenuated by the fact that the Paper O’ Record still employs Maureen Dowd. Melissa McEwan, Molly Ivors and Echidne deal with her latest vacuous atrocity. As usual, it involves Dowd projecting various trivial personal obsessions onto the candidates and then using this as a reasons to attack their candidacies. Frankly, I would prefer straightforward Republican hackery to this.

Strangely, Dowd largely spares Edwards this time, although if he wins in Iowa I’m sure will be back to MoDo’s Deep Thoughts about his haircuts. Speaking of which, elsewhere among the inexplicably sinecured it is indeed funny that Richard Cohen literally can’t get through one sentence of his column about the alleged mendacious lying of candidates without a mendacious lie about Edwards. As Atrios says, “it’s so awesome when the Villagers can’t even keep their fake “scandals” straight.” But, really, this makes sense; once you’ve decided that the price of someone’s haircuts or their spouse’s sex life should be major factors in determining who should be President of the United States, whether the trivia you discuss is actually true or not is largely beside the point. Indifference to truth is just on symptom of the larger problem of hiring people who don’t care about politics and know nothing about any substantive issue to write about politics on major op-ed pages.

Against The Caucuses

[ 24 ] January 2, 2008 |

Hitchens gets this right.

…and Kaus too! (via.) Apparently we’ve finally found a use for contrarianism…

…actually, scrolling down I should say that while I support Kaus’s anti-caucus position, I obviously disagree with him that they’re bad because they make the Democratic Party too liberal. They’re bad because the whole caucus/primary system is a bad way of choosing a candidate, fetishizing “retail politics” skills of little actual relevance to the modern presidency beyond all reason to justify a ridiculously arbitrary and unfair system.

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