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Election 2008 McCain Obama Politics


Marc Ambinder has his lists of potential VP picks. Here are mine:


  1. Senator Jim Webb (Virginia)
    The only choice that makes sense. Appeals to the Appalachian demographic that has been escaping him; solidifies his national security and military credentials; makes Virginia a swing state; his Reagan administration background emphasizes how far astray Bush has led the country.


  1. Governor Charlie Crist (Florida)
    My take on McCain’s campaign this past year is that he is desperate to win, and is willing to compromise almost anything in order to do so. The one exception is his position on what he sees to be the defining issue of our time: Islamist extremism. He believes this single issue overrides all other options. McCain is already focusing on Florida and trying to undermine Obama in the Jewish community there. Picking the popular governor would almost guarantee him this perennial swing state. Also an important factor: picking Crist would protect his right flank and placate social conservatives. Apparently, I’m a dumbass and got my facts wrong here.  Crist is a social conservative, but an “uncomfortable” one, having campaign as pro-choice before he became pro-life.  Another major negative: he, like McCain, is really old.
  2. Governor Mitt Romney (Massachusetts)
    A pick who would placate movement conservatives, bring him a substantial fundraiser, and someone who can speak convincingly on the economy. By picking Romney, McCain is indicating that he is giving his campaign over to the “movement.”
  3. Senator Joe Lieberman (Connecticut)
    Risking the alienation of social conservatives, the Lieberman choice would be bold and would put McCain in the best spot to win the presidency. He would be demonstrating that his presidency would be about the War Against Terrorism as well as his bipartisan bona fides. The boldest move, but also the one McCain would be under enormous pressure not to make. If McCain really believes this election should be about Iraq and terrorism, and if he wants to win on these issues, he should pick Lieberman. He won’t however.
Election 2008 Obama Politics

The two most powerful narratives in American history

Maureen Dowd:

Hillary knows that in politics, bimbos erupt. Tapes leak. Husbands disappoint. Friends commit suicide. Rivals get sick. Her Senate race against Rudy Giuliani suddenly turned in her favor when he got prostate cancer and dropped out.

The macabre story of 2008 is that the vice presidential picks are important. On the Republican side, it’s because of John McCain’s age and history of skin cancer, and that’s openly discussed.

But on the Democratic side, it is, as The Times’s Obama reporter Jeff Zeleny has written, a “hushed worry.” Barack Obama has fused two of the most powerful narratives in American history — those of Martin Luther King Jr. and Camelot — and that makes him both magical and vulnerable.

Election 2008 Obama Politics The Clintons

7 Reasons Why Hillary Should Not Be the VP

[digg-reddit-me]Although I was never crazy about the idea, there was a time – several weeks ago now – when I considered the idea of an Obama-Clinton ticket to be a potentially good idea. Andrew Sullivan’s excellent column floating the idea moved me somewhat – even as I tended to think that Senator Jim Webb would be a better choice. I had thought of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s description of Lincoln’s genius in organizing his “team of rivals” even before Sullivan mentioned it. And I thought that Obama could pull it off if any politician today could. But Maureen Dowd’s description of Obama’s and Clinton’s interpersonal dynamic struck me as accurate enough, and Clinton continued to campaign – standing up for her supporters – “hard-working white people”; comparing her efforts to de-legitimatize the process of delegate selection she at first endorsed to abolition; and in general acting as if Obama’s nomination were not only a personal affront to her but the end of the Democratic party.

So, I’ve soured on the idea. Here’s seven reasons why Hillary Clinton should not be chosen as Obama’s vice presidential running mate:

  1. From Rachel Maddow on MSNBC’s Inside the War Room just a few minutes ago:
  2. [It would be] very awkward for a vice presidential candidate to be on a presidential candidate’s ticket after she has made repeated references to his potential death. Yes, that would be weird.

  3. It will undermine the rationale behind Obama’s candidacy and make Obama look weak. As Reihan Salam of The Atlantic wrote:

    A backroom deal with Clinton would make a mockery of Obama’s language of hope and change. It would make Obama appear weak, and it would reward Clinton for running a campaign more vicious than anything Lee Atwater could have cooked up. More importantly, Obama would be choosing a fundamentally weak and unpopular running mate who has masked her marked executive inexperience through endless misrepresentation of her role in the Clinton White House – a role that begins and ends with a healthcare debacle that would have gotten anyone other than a First Lady fired.

    Or, to put it as John Edwards did:

  4. She doesn’t put a single state or demographic group on the board for Obama.
    She is a highly polarizing figure. The demographic splits in the primaries so far have been best explained by the Peabody award-winning Josh Marshall over at the Talking Points Memo: The only areas where Hillary has decisively beaten Obama are in the Appalachian region of the country. But Hillary is far from the best candidate to appeal to this group. Former Senator John Edwards, Governor Ed Rendell, Governor Ted Strickland, and especially Senator Jim Webb all would seem to have greater appeal to the Scotch-Irish Reagan Democrats of the Appalachia. Clinton’s base is entirely in the Democratic party where she is relatively popular, while Obama has substantial support among independents and even some Republicans. That is why Clinton has done better in closed primaries than ones open to independents or all parties (at least until Rush Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos gained traction).
  5. Bill.
  6. She’s run a terrible campaign so far. Would she run a better campaign if she trying to win for Obama?
    Her campaign is already $21,000,000.00 in debt. She squandered enormous institutional and name recognition advantages. Does anyone still remember that she was the prohibitive favorite before “a skinny kid with a funny name” expertly managed one of the hardest fought campaigns in history?
  7. She shouldn’t be rewarded for trying to bully her way onto the ticket (after being told no “politely but straightforwardly and irrevocably“, threatening an “open civil war“) and for her bullying tactics during the rest of the campaign (threatening to withhold funds from the DNC; attacking Nancy Pelosi; lying about Obama’s record on abortion, NAFTA, and other issues; using voter suppression tactics in Nevada and Iowa; and undermining the legitimacy of the delegate selection process she agreed to when she thought it was to her benefit.)
  8. Her sense of entitlement.

As a bonus:

Hillary’s not going to help Obama win in November. Let’s get on to the main event already.

Drop out, Senator, and settle for becoming the next Secretary of Defense or a Supreme Court Justice.

Election 2008 Obama Politics The Clintons

Clinton inciting an “open civil war”

This is not very promising.

According to David Edwards from RawStory, CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux is reporting that “Clinton insiders” are suggesting “open civil war” to get Senator Clinton the Vice Presidential slot.

Election 2008 Obama Politics

Obama will stand with the Muslims

Of course, not all my conversations in immigrant communities follow this easy pattern. In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific reassurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.

From Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope on page 261.  An email is circulating which summarizes this as follows:

This guy wants to be our President and control our government…

From Audacity of Hope: “I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”

A noble sentiment from Obama is turned into a fear-mongering distortion.  This election will be brutal.  But we can win it.  And we must.

Election 2008 Obama Politics The Clintons


Al Giordano of The Field is reporting that an Obama-Clinton ticket is a non-starter:

The Field can now confirm, based on multiple sources, something that both campaigns publicly deny: that Senator Clinton has directly told Senator Obama that she wants to be his vice presidential nominee, and that Senator Obama politely but straightforwardly and irrevocably said “no.” Obama is going to pick his own running mate based on his own criteria and vetting process.

h/t Andrew Sullivan.

Domestic issues Election 2008 Libertarianism McCain Politics Videos

The Ron Paul Revolution

[digg-reddit-me]It’s becoming more and more clear between Bob Barr’s Libertarian bid for the presidency and Ron Paul’s continued campaign that George W. Bush has done more than almost any political figure to resurrect the libertarian movement.

The energy motivating this movement is still there, seeking an outlet, even as Ron Paul’s campaign has been stymied. This libertarianism will be disgusted by McCain’s visions of an American empire; and it will not be satisfied with Obama’s pragmatism, though some may hold their nose and vote for who they see as the lesser evil. The assimilation of libertarian ideas into the mainstream Democratic party 1 will not be able to satisfy the revolutionary and vaguely anarchist2 goals of this movement.

While libertarianism is necessarily mainly concerned with process, the Ron Paul Revolution, and most of the rest of the animating forces behind libertarianism today are more ideological. It is this focus on ideology, on radicalism, on a refusal to compromise that leads me to reject libertarianism proper, even as I remain sympathetic to many of its basic ideas.

What I share with more ideological libertarians today is a sense that our nation has gone far astray from it’s founding ideals – that though George W. Bush has in many ways made this problems worse, the problems go far deeper than a single two-term presidency. The problems are systematic. That’s why I feel the appeal, the pull, the emotional release of revolutionary fervor motivating the libertarian movement today:

But I also am wary of such emotionalism. The martial beat is appealing, but dangerous from a historical point of view.

Jonah Goldberg and many other conservative pundits have talked about the “fascist” potential of Obama’s campaign. They see hundreds of thousands – millions – of people motivated and inspired. They are afraid and have been trying to paint Obama as a demagogue – perhaps to justify their own loathing of him. But Obama has refrained from inciting people’s fears or darker passions; he has called on people to hope and to act to create a better tomorrow. Historically, fascism has had an ugly element to its appeal – as it stirs nativism and unthinking jingoism to achieve it’s ends. This is not Obama’s approach.

This was the approach of Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell, and many other libertarians during the 1990’s as they sought to try everything to win some power to reverse the crisis they saw as imminent. As these libertarians adopted the tactics of fascists, they became even more marginalized.

Ron Paul’s campaign today succeeded because it avoided such tactics – and because the presidency of George W. Bush has demonstrated to many both how corrupt both parties are and how endangered our liberty has become. But what was evident both then and now is that ideology is the motivation behind the changes they seek. That is why Ron Paul was willing to use race-baiting as a tactic – because achieving a libertarian revolution was worth the price. That is why Ron Paul’s opinions are so simple, appealing, and revolutionary – because they are based on ideology rather than reality. The appeal of these ideas today comes from the fact that the libertarian ideology is such a relief from the neo-conservative and neo-liberal ideologies of the past sixteen years.

But what is needed is neither of these neo-ideologies. What we need is pragmatism and activism at all levels of our society. To accomplish this, we need what Lawrence Lessig has called a “process revolution.”

And that is why I support Obama.

  1. The ideas having gained prominence in a large part due to the ascendance of Mountain West as a potential Democratic stronghold. []
  2. Which is an unfair characterization of many libertarians, but the tendency towards anarchism does color the movement as a whole. []
Election 2008 Foreign Policy McCain Politics

Lieberman’s selective indignation

Isaac Chotiner of The New Republic “throws some elbows” in his pushback against Senator Joe Lieberman’s Obama-like-all-Democrats-is-unmanly-and-weak-on-terrorism editorial in the Wall Street Journal:

[Lieberman writes:]

Mr. Obama has said that in proposing this, he is following in the footsteps of Reagan and JFK. But Kennedy never met with Castro, and Reagan never met with Khomeini. And can anyone imagine Presidents Kennedy or Reagan sitting down unconditionally with Ahmadinejad or Chavez? I certainly cannot.

That’s right: It wasn’t all that bad that JFK ordered a disastrous invasion of Cuba that almost led–at least indirectly–to nuclear war with the Soviets. No, that was fine when compared to Obama’s “naivete.” And as for Reagan’s Iran policy, well, nothing to criticize there. Perhaps if Obama sent Ahmadinejad some missiles and a birthday cake, the Illinois Senator would gain Lieberman’s approval…

Criticism Politics

Ted Kennedy’s Cancer

From Robert G. Kaiser of the Washington Post:

Theodore Sorensen, JFK’s speechwriter and alter ego, observed yesterday: “Only the Adams family in the earliest days of the republic had the kind of stature, respect and impact on public life as the Kennedys.” And not only that – in an age of celebrification, the Kennedys became the country’s leading political celebrities.

That combination probably explains the sharp intake of breath heard yesterday all over Washington and across the country when people learned the news about Kennedy’s illness.

Rod Dreher of the Crunchy Conservative blog asked his readers to pray for Kennedy yesterday.  As with many partisans, his readers seem to suffer from a lack of charity.  Dreher felt forced to respond in a defensive tone:

UPDATE.2: You would have thought that asking for prayers for a man diagnosed with brain cancer would be a simple enough request. Check out the comments thread, though. Man. I was just talking with a colleague here, who reminded me that when Ronald Reagan died, we had lots of people writing in to say they’d be happy to dance on his grave.

UPDATE.3: Perhaps this will be a more edifying thread all the way around if we use it to discuss the proper way to pray for people we consider to be our enemies, or at least consider to be immoral and harmful to the common good. Because sooner or later, we’ll all be in the position of being asked to pray for a politician we may despise. I have no doubt that if George W. Bush had been diagnosed with brain cancer, we’d have just as many people on the thread below saying they’re not going to pray for the likes of him. How does one pray for the welfare we dislike, despise or disrespect?

Just reading Dreher’s response makes me feel ill.