While I don’t believe Arizona’s policy was based on anything other than trying to get a handle on our broken borders, I think aspects of the law, especially that dealing with ‘reasonable suspicion,’ are going to put our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position. It could also unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens. Throughout American history and throughout this administration we have seen that when government is given an inch it takes a mile.
Other right wingers and Republicans have stood against the law — as Andrew Sullivan ably chronicles — including Karl Rove, Jeb Bush, and Tom Ridge. But none manages to finesse the issue quite so well as Rubio — who has the added advantage of being the most prominent Latino Republican in the nation. When the Republican Party has no choice but to try to woo the Hispanic vote as the demographics of the nation shift — while at the same time not alienating the overwhelmingly white populist right wing, Marco Rubio will be the answer. He will serve the same function to the party in the future as Michael Steele does now — except Rubio likely won’t be the screw-up Steele has been.
Notice how Rubio couches his opposition in populist right-wing grounds — that it would undermine the liberties of American citizens, that it puts police officers in a difficult position, that it represents encroaching government power.
It’s very well-done — and compared to the other statements by Republicans against the law — it’s masterful. This ability to position himself so well — added to his life story of how his parents escaped Communist Cuba to come to the land of opportunity — makes him a top-tier Republican presidential or vice-presidential candidate in the near-future. The fact that he’s Latino guarantees him a spot on a national ticket by 2020. I’d bet a presidential run in 2016 leads to him getting the Republican nomination for Vice President and/or lays the groundwork for his successful effort to in 2020 to get the Republican presidential nomination.
[Adapted from an image by DavidAll06 licensed under Creative Commons.]
In the Times piece on the White House’s stepping into New York’s state politics by suggesting Governor David Patterson not run for office in 2010, Karl Rove is quoted as saying this move is all about sidelining former Mayor Rudy Giuliani:
The only reason they are doing this in New York is to try to strangle a potential opponent in 2012.
Rove seems to mean this as a criticism, accusing the White House of making crass political calculations which, of course, Rove himself never did. But this makes an opportune point to bring up that the politician being sidelined here is the same one who said:
Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.
Yes, this “Mister 9/11” who never met an executive power he didn’t like is now searching for another balcony to take yet another shot at the White House.
This man is truly the one person I truly would be frightened of as president. (Sarah Palin runs a close second.)
[Image by VictoryNH licensed under Creative Commons.]
Andrew Sullivan has been questioning McCain’s cross-in-the-sand story. You know – that heart-tugging tale that McCain tells at every event he goes to – in order to demonstrate his Christian faith (and mention his bravery as a POW). And if you have a story like that in your life, you have every right to tell it.
But as Sullivan has been pointing out, McCain’s story is a bit suspicious. He once told the story as if it had happened to someone else. He had never told the story before 1999 despite his numerous public statements, descriptions, and essays about his time in captivity. And the story has gradually changed since it’s first telling in 1999, resembling more and more the story Chuck Colson told about Alexander Solzhenitzen.
Andrew Sullivan – who has been very supportive of McCain over the years – and supported him in the Republican primary – has been making the case in respectful terms, always trying to give McCain the benefit of the doubt.
It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman’s memory of war from the comfort of mom’s basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others. John McCain has often said he witnessed a thousand acts of bravery while he was imprisoned, and though not every one has been submitted into the public record, they are remembered by the men who were there (one such only recently reported by Karl Rove though it escaped mention in any of Senator McCain’s books). But as Swindle said, this is a “desperate group of people trying to make something out of nothing.”
Of course, the article the McCain blog links to explains how reticent McCain is, always refraining from telling stories about himself – which is why he answered every question he was asked by Pastor Rick Warren Sunday night with an anecdote that made him seem like a G. I. Joe. Telling such anecdotes is what McCain does – and what Karl Rove claims in his op-ed piece that McCain does not do enough (because he is so modest!).
Of course, what is most telling about this McCain post is that he references a role-playing game from the 1970s.
A few weeks ago, when the electoral math began to indicate that Senator Hillary Clinton had little no chance of catching Senator Barack Obama, the voices of the Democratic establishment who had remained mainly neutral began to push a new meme. These establishment voices clearly wanted to send a message to the Clintons: “Stay in the race as long as you want. But keep it clean.”
Bob Shrum wrote in the New York Times two weeks ago:
She has very little chance of winning, but Hillary Clinton has no reason to get out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination — for now. A long shot isn’t the same as no chance at all. And an extended campaign doesn’t have to wound the nominee, assuming a measure of self-restraint on both sides…
The degree of aggression on each side may not be comparable, as both sides argue on their own behalf. But the Democratic nomination may not be worth winning if the victor is lacerated as unready, unfit to hold the office, or un-American — not, as expected, by the vast right-wing conspiracy but by a Democratic rival.
[C]alls for Hillary to withdraw – calls that invariably rest on the mathematical case against her candidacy – are premature. By winning Ohio and Texas, Hillary won the right to continue in this race.
… [But] it’s imperative that, as Hillary Clinton continues her campaign, she conduct it in a certain manner: She can’t run the type of campaign she ran in the lead-up to Ohio and Texas. For weeks, Clinton attacked Obama with a relish not previously seen in this race. But it wasn’t the fact she was attacking Obama that was problematic, it was how she was attacking him–namely, in a way that will make it more difficult for Obama should he, as is still likely, be the Democratic nominee in November. For instance, it would have been fine for Hillary to argue that she’d make a better commander-in-chief than Obama; but it was wrong for her to essentially argue, as she did on more than one occasion, that she and John McCain would make better commanders-in-chief than Obama. Similarly, her strange hedging on “60 Minutes” about whether she believes Obama isn’t a Muslim only added fuel to the unfounded rumors that are already circulating about his faith. Frankly, Clinton’s chances are slim enough that a win-at-all-costs mentality from her campaign is not worth the risk of doing irreparable damage to the candidate who will likely be her party’s nominee.
Yet – for whatever reason, despite the fact that she has little chance of winning – Ms. Clinton has continued to attack Obama using Rovian tactics of guilt-by-association, character assassination, the questioning of patriotism, and divisive identity politics. Barack Obama’s campaign has not been pure – from the beginning, he made it clear that he was willing to fight when challenged, as the hiring of David Axelrod as his campaign manager demonstrated. But the restraint he has shown has been truly remarkable. Just a taste of the topics he hasn’t brought up: cattle futures; Travelgate; Filegate; her own pastor; pardons by her husband of terrorists that were intended to help her 2000 Senate campaign according to internal documents; the many shady deals her husband has made since leaving the presidency, often acting against his wife’s public positions. All of these directly relate to the kind of president she might be. We’re not even touching on Monica Lewinsky, on Whitewater, on Vince Foster, and the dozen other scandals of her husband’s administration as well as the persistent rumors of his continued infidelities and disconcerting business deals.
If Mr. Obama’s campaign has showed great restraint, Obama personally has shown even more restraint. Ms. Clinton has not – and her campaign has been worse. Last night, she demonstrated – in front of over ten million viewers – that she has no shame.
The Democratic party is worried about the damage Ms. Clinton is doing; as a co-worker of mine listens to hard-right talk radio through much of the day, I can hear the memes starting to spread – I can hear them gaining traction. Ms. Clinton is damaging herself, her party, and Obama – and she is attacking him using the very tactics she abhorred and laying the same groundwork for the “conservative” attacks on Obama that the right launched at Al Gore, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Max Cleeland, and many more Democrats (and a few Republicans).
If Ms. Clinton wants to help her party win the White House this November, she can give Mr. Obama the “vetting” she claims he lacks, and with ever increasing histrionics, throw every smear, every false allegation, every innuendo at him. She can make her name synonymous with the sleaze she throws at him; she has proven that she is capable of a viciousness reminiscent of a Karl Rove. And by playing the villain, she can discredit and de-fang the many attacks that are sure to come at Mr. Obama after he secures the nomination.
It is better for these attacks on Obama to come out now than in September or October before the election. And Mr. Obama must overcome this type of politics if he is to win in November. Perhaps it is best if these attacks come from a source reviled on the right, so they can be more easily dismissed as time goes on. Though I doubt that Ms. Clinton is thinking in these times, I am trying to determine the best way Ms. Clinton’s destructive course could be used to benefit Mr. Obama.
Most observers thought that Mr. Obama looked weary last night. He wasn’t able to – and didn’t seem to even try to – launch the “knockout punch” that would end the race. Some quip, some throwaway line that would undermine the basis of Ms. Clinton’s candidacy, as Lloyd Bentsen’s response to Dan Quayle:
What Obama did – again and again – was to respond to the allegations and pivot back to the issues. Mr. Obama was tired and off of his game, and Ms. Clinton was on point – yet, my gut feeling is that Mr. Obama won more votes last night than he lost, because a weary Obama was far more compelling and far more presidential than an invigorated, desperate, and affected Clinton.
Ms. Clinton is playing the villain well so far. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like an act last night.
Here’s my proposition: the Pennsylvania primary is less than 10 days away. Let Ms. Clinton bring everything she has to this – which is to say, let her throw all the mud she can. We’ll see in 10 days who the mud is sticking to – and if Mr. Obama survives these Rovian, Atwater-style attacks, he will be a significantly stronger candidate. If he can rise above them, then he will be a truly great candidate.
“No one knows if it’s the Clintons, a rogue agent or a Rove agent,” says Congressman Steve Cohen, a Jewish Obama backer who represents a largely black district in Memphis. Likely it’s a combination of the three.
Yesterday, I was listening to Steve Malzberg on the radio.1 Mr. Malzberg certainly knows how to get under my skin – and I’ve heard parts of his show a half-dozen times in the past few weeks. In these sporadic listenings, I estimate that I’ve heard Mr. Malzberg say, in a tone of voice showing how supremely fair-minded he is to give the benefit of the doubt, about twice every half hour that he “personally” [strongly emphasized] doesn’t consider “Barack Hussein Obama” to be a “secret Muslim.” Yesterday however, he did directly follow the above with the fact that he didn’t see how any “religious person”, or “patriot”, or even how any person who “loves America” could vote for Barack Obama. Not that he thinks he’s a secret Muslim.
It’s a poison – this deliberate and manipulative smearing. A poison in the body politic.
Someone is betting that the American public is too lazy and gullible and conspiracy-minded and embittered and most important – disengaged from power – to see past this.