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[ 35 ] February 6, 2008 |

Brad Plumer reports that Karl Rove (and I sort of admire the spare elegance of Rove serving as an election analyst for Fox News; I mean, why not just skip the middleman) threw cold water on the idea of a McCain/Huckabee ticket. I have no idea who McCain will pick, and I understand the logic: McCain needs to shore up support among conservatives who don’t like him, but many of these people also hate Huckabee. But it does seem to me that there’s another side to it. Are the Limbaughs who hate McCain with an irrational frenzy likely to be assuaged by any VP pick? It seems unlikely. Huckabee, conversely, is well-liked by Southern evangelical voters and hence could be a real asset to voters who aren’t crazy about McCain but are open to persuasion.

If I were McCain, I would probably try to go with a plain vanilla southern conservative — like Fred Thompson, but alive. The bench seems pretty thin, though, and I think Huckabee would bring real advantages to the ticket.

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Marshmallow Suffrage

[ 0 ] February 6, 2008 |

For my part, I’m pretty committed to protecting the voting rights of “marshmallow shaped, middle-aged” people. And knowing more Ron Paul voters than Hillary Clinton voters is not something that one should brag about, or even mention in polite company…

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[ 0 ] February 6, 2008 |

I decided to watch the returns with the second-best commentariat in the blogosphere, which meant that I couldn’t hear the speeches, etc. I think Yglesias gets the bottom line about right. 10 days ago, an Obama supporter would certainly take a result that left him alive, and he did a little better than that. On the other hand, Clinton not only hung on to the states she needed, but won pretty substantially in the big ones (the delegate count in New York being especially important.) Ultimately, it’s tough to catch a good candidate from behind, and Clinton has to be considered a strong although not overwhelming favorite. There’s still a scenario for a Obama victory for sure, but a lot has to break right. Maybe he can use the time to take Ohio and Texas, but it’s hard to bet on it.

The GOP race, of course, remains over, with McCain once again getting just enough help from Huckabee to hasten the inevitable. Ironically, the fractured GOP field was crucial to the quick coronation — McCain would have had a much harder time against any single challenger, but got the right opposition to clean up delegates with frequently unimpressive vote totals. The Democratic race could go to the convention precisely because you can’t split the vote and win a less favorable state.

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"Phoenix in August can’t be considered hot by any conventional standard."

[ 8 ] February 6, 2008 |

Shorter Verbatim Hugh Hewitt: “McCain can’t be considered a frontrunner by any conventional standard.”

Sure, keep telling yourself that and you’ll…oh, actually, even he couldn’t actually convince himself of that.

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Jesus Christ Pose

[ 11 ] February 6, 2008 |

Somehow, we’ve all forgotten that Alan Keyes is still in the race, and his supporters are characteristically humble in their assessment of the campaign’s stakes:

When I talk to people of like mind who I think would be supportive of the presidential aspirations of Alan Keyes, their invariable response is “I’m familiar with Alan Keyes, I agree with everything he says. But, he can’t win.” In response to these objections, Dr. Keyes asks the question, “Who would you have voted for on the day of our Lord’s crucifixion: Jesus or Barabbas?”

Barabbas was the favorite, since he had the approval of the most influential portion of the population. But, which person has received the approval of history and, most importantly, which one had the approval of God?

I dunno. Par Lagerkvist wrote a pretty great little novel about Barabbas. So that’s something. But I’ll bet Jesus didn’t get 4500 votes in California; 2100 in Illinois; 350 in Minnesota; 900 in Missouri; 42 in North Dakota; and two non-Barabbas-voting clairvoyants in Montana. By my count, then, Alan Keyes is much more popular than Christ would have been on the day of his crucifixion. Also, Keyes totally kicked Tom Tancredo’s ass in Tennessee, but he got spanked pretty hard by Giuliani and Fred Thompson. All things considered, though, I’d say this was a pretty Super Tuesday for Alan Keyes.

(The NY Times and most other sites I’m watching tend to lump Keyes in with “Others,” which is just no fun at all. Fortunately, you can survey the results and feel the Keyesmentum here. And if any of our Kerrsville, Texas readers are searching about for lunch plans tomorrow, Keyes will be hanging out at the Best Western, where a $10 Italian buffet is in the works.)

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New England Discombobulated By Patriots Defeat…

[ 0 ] February 6, 2008 |

How does it make sense that Clinton wins New York and Massachusetts handily, while Obama leads in Connecticut?

Open thread etc. etc.

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Obama Takes Georgia

[ 27 ] February 6, 2008 |

Obama wins the first state of the night...though by a smaller margin than the exit polls first predicted. This isn’t much of a surprise, but, damn, that was fast.

Thoughts on whether this means anything? And if so, what?

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How Far Antidiscrimination Policies?

[ 0 ] February 6, 2008 |

Anthony Infanti at Feminist Law Profs has got a great post up about the decision of the President of San Jose State University to ban blood drives on campus. Why? Because the FDA’s refusal to accept the blood of any man who has sex with a man since 1977 violates the school’s antidiscrimination policy.

In his post, Infanti picks apart the language of the FDA rule and finds it’s vague and that it traffics in stereotypes (obvs). What I find interesting, though, is how this decision meshes (or doesn’t) with the Supreme Court’s decision a couple of years ago holding that law schools that receive federal funds do not have a First Amendment right to exclude JAG recruiters even though JAG’s (and the rest of the military’s) Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy violates the schools’ antidiscrimination policies. Clearly, this is different since, among other reasons, the organizations running the blood drives are not, as far as I know, government entities.

And, well, blood drives are good. DADT is bad. I agree 100% with law schools that DADT is discriminatory and that law schools should not be forced to be complicit in it (given that virtually every American law school receives federal funds, virtually every law school is implicated). And I agree that it’s ridiculous to preclude gay men from donating blood based on assumptions that, especially with the rise of HIV among heterosexual women, are now shaky at best and baseless at worst. But I can’t help thinking that maybe this isn’t where we should be drawing the line in terms of antidiscrimination policies. Or maybe we should force blood drives just off campus, as law schools sought to do with JAG recruiters.

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The Lies That Sold A Fiasco

[ 4 ] February 5, 2008 |

More on the disgrace of Colin Powell.

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Never Make Easily Falsifiable Predictions…

[ 4 ] February 5, 2008 |

My BHtv diavlog with Dan Drezner is up. It was distressingly congenial; I need to drink more before I do these things. And I also have to make sure that I don’t schedule them for days I teach, so that I don’t look like such a damn square.

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Hey Now, Obama

[ 50 ] February 5, 2008 |

At the end of the day, I can’t think of too many compelling reasons not to prefer Obama over Clinton, but this shocking revelation doesn’t make the choice any easier. Then again, it can’t be easy to secure the allegiance of voters who enjoy seven-hour concerts and ponderous, noodling guitar solos.

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The Most Entertaining Day of the Year

[ 11 ] February 5, 2008 |

As my preference for Obama isn’t nearly as strong as Scott’s, I have no problem conceptualizing this evening as almost pure entertainment. It’s so much better than the actual election, in that even if my candidate loses I’m unlikely to be subjected to days of crushing depression, ameliorated only by heavy drinking and repeated viewings of the Godfather Part II.

Like Publius, I love a good primary:

But what’s less obvious is how interesting they are from a purely aesthetic perspective. The horse race we’re witnessing is drama of the highest order – pure political theater. And while emotions will surely run high in the weeks to come, political junkies in particular should take a step back and enjoy the beauty of it. Not beauty in the sense of flowers and butterflies, but in a higher, more human, aesthetic sense…..

Aesthetically, it reminded me of boxing at its best. The classic boxing fights (e.g., Ali’s classics) pit two freakishly talented athletes against each other to fight it out in mankind’s oldest sport. Some think it’s barbaric, and they may be right. But from an amoral aesthetic perspective, it’s a thing of beauty. And the better the athletes, and the higher the stakes, the more true this becomes. And that’s how I felt about the debate. I watched two freakishly gifted candidates with professional, efficient, hardened campaign organizations fighting it out one-on-one for the most powerful prize in the world (and maybe in world history).

At this point, I suspect some of you are annoyed that I’m focusing more on surface than substance. What we should be doing is focusing on policy, and ignoring these silly horse race/schoolyard fight dimensions. At the very least, we shouldn’t be romanticizing them the way I’ve done – i.e., reducing important political fights into narcissistic entertainment.

My response, though, is that I’m not ignoring substance when I admire the aesthetics. I completely agree that the stakes are high and that substantive policy disputes are at issue. But to me, the substance feeds the aesthetic. On some level, this is a fight. Try as we may, we can’t avoid conceptualizing it (at least partially) in those terms. But if it’s a fight, it’s a fight with enormous, world-historical consequences. And it’s the underlying significance of the fight that makes the aesthetic so powerful.


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