Friday, March 28, 2008

A few words about Obama and the Dem Convention


Some food for thought about Obama that more/less articulates this writer's opinion on the matter. Read it here. If that takes you to something other than "A New Politics? Or a New Pandering?", look through the archives for the 3/28/08 "Social Studies" column.

***

I'm asked alot what I think about the idea of a Democratic compromise, either a split ticket between Hillarious and Obama or a new candidate altogether. Realistically, if Obama isn't the Democratic candidate in the fall, all hell will break loose with his base.

Blacks will feel betrayed and the youth movement ignored at the best and abandoned at the worst. The DNC will suffer a huge backlash of negative press. Everyone knows this. I think Hillary is hoping Obama, under pressure from party bosses, bows out if she wins Pennsylvania and shows progress in North Carolina and Indiana. A withdrawal on his terms is better than having the baton taken from him and forcibly passed to someone else.

Bringing in an outside candidate, say...Al Gore, might look good on paper, but how will the public react? Joe Klein over at TIME floated this idea past his well-connected DNC friends and office holders, and more than one agreed that in theory it was not only interesting but feasible. If enough Superdelegates abstain from voting in the first round at the convention (usually a formality, but this time...), in the second round, anyone's name can be thrown in. If there is a second round, disasterous and exciting as that sounds now, I highly doubt there would be a strong enough pro-Gore presence without either Hillary or Obama behind it. Klein mentioned Obama, and a Gore/Obama ticket - what many thought we might see anyway this fall, at least a year ago - and again, it's feasible. But the primaries and caucuses were about Obama and Clinton in the main, not Gore. I think it would be a mistake for the DNC to let it get that far.

The only compromise I see that could retain enough of Obama's base is a Hillary/Obama ticket with the unwritten rule being he plays as large a part as Cheney has to Bush. Prime Minister to her President, if you will. Clintonian supporters have already spoken, as discussed before, and one way of reading those results is that more of them will decamp if it's not her than will Obama supporters if he's not chosen.

But this is all speculation. The Superdelegates could break for Obama after all, and not Hillary. It may not be the neck-and-neck race going into late summer with no brokering involved.

What fun is that?

-Hooper

Read on, faithful few!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's time to start thinking.


The Political "Brief"
The Religion Question


Barack Obama is not an Evangelical Christian. Nor is he Mormon. He does go to church, is good friends with his pastor and even counts him as a close adviser. He belongs to the Trinity United Church of Christ in our fair city of Chicago. The United Church of Christ is, on the whole, an institution of moderate leanings, not as conservative or fundamental as some (they are one of the branches of Protestantism ordaining gay ministers) but also not as ground-breakingly liberal. In other words, the United Church of Christ, again overall, is not extreme.

Let's make an exception.

With Geraldine Ferraro's comments still fresh, some reporters have been looking to Obama for any controversial aspects of his campaign. Wouldn't you know it, one's been staring them in the face since before Michelle became Mrs. Obama. The man who married Michelle to Barack, who baptised their children, who has been preaching to the Obamas for nigh on two decades, is now coming under scrutiny. And rightly so.

In a political time when our personal religious choices drastically impact the coverage and quality of campaign reporting, it's no surprise we're where we are with Barack Obama and his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. A sampling from Rev. Wright's sermons:

*"Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run."
*"America is still the number one killer in the world...We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns, and the training of professional killers...."
*We started the AIDS virus...We are only able to maintain our level of living by making sure that Third World people live in grinding poverty...."

Cherry-picked quotes, as Obama claims, or indicative of further scrutiny? Both, really. Wright was formerly of the African American Religious Leadership Committee, a group under the umbrella of Obama's campaign (he resigned last week, amid the growing firestorm). His influence was less political and more social and personal with Obama, helping shape the crusader he is striving to become. Fight the ills of poverty, racism, inequality, war, intolerance, hegemonistic & capitalist interests seeking to trod all over the man on the street. The reverend is Barack's spiritual go-to man, his main counselor in that arena, and since we've scrutinized Falwell and his ilk, we'd damn well better look at Jeremiah Wright.

We must also consider the policy impact and personal viewpoint resulting from their relationship. I have listened to many speeches by Barack Obama, read a number of his sound bites and quips, the quotes that get people revved up for his campaign. But between the lines of all those words is space and void, an absence of committed ideology. What we have is the facade of a house: it looks great, can't wait to move in...but when's it gonna get finished? Does Wright help furnish those ideological trappings?

Wright has led a distinctive life, and hopefully, when the clamour has died down and he is allowed a more graceful entrance into retirement, people will remember his outstanding military and academic service, his religious and community leadership. Right now, though, he doesn't have the luxury of being out of the limelight, as ideas of his are now being spoken through another who may one day lead the free world.

Take away the yelling. Remove the FOX News sound clipping and YouTube videos from your senses. Read the sermons, see what's there. Really, a lot of what we're getting up in arms about is the outrage and hurt of black man who aches for the country he's been promised. I'd argue that his life is an example of the American dream, of the great leaps individuals can take when motivated (The US helps those who help themselves...). He's a conspiracy theorist, placing the ills of the ghetto squarely at the feet of the government, which could be construed as the white man. This is a long-standing argument, that to keep blacks and minorities down, the government has been funneling drugs into poor neighborhoods for decades, creating the current climate. To me, that smacks of victimhood, of not taking responsibility for yourself. This is the first thing that we should take from the sermons of Jeremiah Wright. It leads to a welfare state, to a possibility of reparations (but all the slave owners are dead, you say. So what!, some yell back) and to taking the blames for a group's ills away from the group.

Let's be cynical and agree with Wright - the government distributed crack in large quantities to the ghettos as cultural oppression, a form of chemical slavery. Did the poor or downtrodden have to light up a crack pipe? I guess I'm a sucker for believing in personal choice, in the free will to do what you want. Shouldn't Wright be instead denigrating his own house, his own community for inculcating the culture of drugs and violence and single-parent homes and petty crime, like Bill Cosby has done? But no, Cosby says "We have to order our own house, because it's our fault," and he's an Uncle Tom, supporting white oppression of blacks. I see a terrible line of reasoning here, and Obama's been listening to it for twenty years.

The only other thing I take away from this is the heat of Wright's words. He is a black man, and welcome to his anger at the horrendous treatment of his ancestors, of his parents and no doubt himself (to a lesser degree). I am a white man, and cannot know the hurt, shame and rage at being called a nigger, without any recourse, or being refused seating or service. Let's all understand my logic, my reasoning, is drawn purely from the experiences of others and observation. Hatred doesn't lead to victory. Hatred leads to division, to segregation and strife.

Wright's rhetoric, and the ideological trappings he's been using to help Obama build his house of ideas is supported by hatred. Winning the civil rights war again, solving the broken homes and streets of our inner cities and ghettos won't come by yelling at them. He's stirring up the pot, some say, getting middle- and upper-class blacks engaged in the dialogue again by igniting their passions. But do we want this leading our country? I'm not saying I know the right way to erase poverty and the crushing life of a black kid in any of Chicago's poor black neighborhoods, but I do know that making people angry just leads to an aggressive stance.

And good for him for speaking out, but bad for Barack for listening and not leaving. Hillary Clinton recently said you can't choose your family, but you can choose your church. Why stay to have such invective woven in and out of the religious dialogue? Not every Sunday can be Jesus knocking over the money changers' tables in the temple. The question we ask of Obama is simple: why stay? The answer is also easy - he connected with Wright. The two must share many of the same thoughts, if their relationship is as close as we are led to believe. Drawing this out to a logical conclusion, one can say the same passion (anger/hostility/rage) that permeates Wright's outward statements also resides within Barack Obama.

So what does this matter, you ask me. Why did I read all of this nonsense? This in an election where you have to think. You have to rub those grey cells together, spark some ideas, test some others, discover sound reasoning and ultimately make an informed decision. This is just to inform. Even if you don't agree, at least you've started thinking.



Hooper

Read on, faithful few!

Because I always deliver on hyperbole


There shall be no other breakfast meat before thee, hog's side!

-Hooper

Read on, faithful few!

A house divided cannot stand...but makes for great press.


The Political Brief
A Look at Democratic Loyalty

A note on spelling: for some reason, I cannot correct the errors from work. Bear with me, for by Odin's bristling beard, they will be fixed!

And they are!!


This really has nothing to do with Bill Richardson decamping to Obama from Clinton. He made a political choice that best positions himself with the probable nominee for future appointment. Richardson doesn't want to be Governor of New Mexico until he's dead and gone; he wants a challenge, something new. His support of Obama is his way of putting his hat in the ring for one of two positions: the obvious, VP; the not-so-obvious, Secretary of State. The progression to the head of the State Department is natural for someone who's worked from Congress to Cabinet to the UN to running a state. His ability to handle such an important leadership position isn't in doubt. What success he gets, however, will be cold comfort to the people who got him there, namely the Clintons.

***

What I'm here to talk about in my triumphal return is voter loyalty to the Democratic candidates. The Gallup organization is the most recent to run this interesting poll: if your Democratic candidate doesn't get the nomination, what will you do? The choices are usually 1) vote for the (D) nominee, 2) vote for someone else or 3) abstain from voting. Previous polls have come to the conclusion that Obama's support among the disenfranchised (predominantly black) and youth demographics would melt away if asked to vote for Hillary Clinton. He is an all-or-nothing candidate for many, truly the figurehead of a movement. People will vote for him or no one. Hillary's supporters would vote, but for McCain.

In the recent Gallup poll, some of the findings backed this up, but more interestingly, we get a new set of numbers to play with.

Were it Obama as the candidate, 28% of Clinton supporters would vote for McCain. Flip that with Clinton leading the ticket, and 19% of Obama supporters would vote for McCain, a small change from previous polls where he his supporters were shown either staying firm with the Democrats or not participating.

The Gallup organization's interpretation of these results is sound - division runs deep in the nomination fight, and some of this may be posturing; regardless, the numbers are significant and bear attention. Can we draw this out further?

The Clinton backers who would switch sides number nearly three in ten, a major percentage by any calculation. Why are they so quick to say right now that they would buck the party line to vote for McCain over Obama? Some could be racist, as campaign workers claimed, through anecdotal evidence gathered in Texas and Nevada. Obama is half black, and that probably scares, upsets or unnerves certain in the Democratic (and Republican) party. But I doubt that is the key reason. More probably factor in experience in politics, in originating and moving legislation at a national level, and the connection with the Democratic establishment.

There could be more fear present that Obama's backers are too Left-of-Center, too close to Socialism, and his fiscal policies and social plans would prove more harm than good. I doubt there is that much thought going into this; more likely there is an indescribable sense of unease that if Obama got in office over Hillary, the country would not have moved a step forward but to a tangent they might not want to explore. He spearheads a movement, and Movements can be dangerous, right?

Another key reason not brought up is the "railroaded" argument, in that Hillary has been by Democratic regulars eager to see their poster boy/golden child in the top seat, easy to puppet around. Hillary has paid her dues, has worked hard in the positions she's had and suffered through a humiliating series of marital woes. As a woman, she is an example of strength and perseverance in Man's world. To see her be cast to the side for this young buck is probably too much for many, both man and woman, to stomach. Especially when it's someone who doesn't have the same caliber of experience that she has.

I think the backlash against Obama, at this stage, is more for this reason than race or policy fear. Some Democrats really like and respect her, and don't like to see her treated as she has been. Up until the Iowa caucuses, Clinton was the anointed choice for the Dems, and the bitterness created by the new crowd coming in, claiming it's far better than what's here or been before, has to rub a lot the wrong way.

The 19% who have decamped from Obama's base for McCain...I'd chalk most of that up to dislike of Hillary Clinton. What support she gets from Obama is for the Democratic party first, her second. For those middle-of-the-road Dems who see in Obama a new way, they might view McCain as a better short-term choice to Hillary's divisiveness. Others might not want to see a woman president, just like some of her backers might balk at a black in the Oval Office.

Still, a fifth of his supporters saying they'd vote for McCain over Hillary is no small number either. The race between the two front-runner Democratic candidates has been bloody, far more damaging to the party than any the 2000 war between the Republicans. Back then, it was politics as usual, much bloodletting for the main prize but no real ideology at stake (well...in hindsight, we see it was Neo-Con vs. Moderate, but back that they were all conservative).

With the Democrats in 2008, the fight is clearing DNC Establishment vs. Neo-Liberal Movement (bear with me). Both have similar aims in mind and the general framework ideas (socialized health care, stronger welfare system, higher taxes for the "rich", etc) but different plans for execution. You can almost equate it to the ideological differences between the New Deal Democrats of FDR's hey-day and Eugene Debs' supporters in the Socialist party. Much of the latter's policies were shared by FDR but adopted in different ways, partly to appear less, well...socialist.

Never mind the aptness of that analogy, the division is calcifying between Obama and Clinton the longer they drag this out. If the PLEOs/Superdelegates do end up deciding the nomination, possibly in a suggested mini-convention for just Superdelegates, with no regard for the popular vote, this could be the year you see a major political party split in twain.

Or a third party born.

Until next time, I remain your radical moderate,



Hooper

Read on, faithful few!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mr. McFinney, welcome back. We...missed...you.


The Political Brief
There's still politics happening, people!


I've been away from this place, this house of mystery and skulduggery. Between plumbing, taxes and the economy, I haven't had time to post here. But there have been interesting stories, and I will post about them in time.

Honestly, do you think I don't have something to say about Rev. Wright, Obama's pastor and spiritual mentor for two decades? Or the five-year anniversary of the Iraq conflict? When I have a little more time to put my thoughts together, I will let you know, my faithful few.

Until then,

Hooper

Read on, faithful few!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Buckshot: Weekend Randomness

A little of this, a little of that for your Easter Sunday.


First up, a couple of pictures from Cocoa Beach, FL and the Kennedy Space Center:









The Vehicle Assembly Building is simply immense, as is the booster assembly on display next to the space shuttle.

Now for some Sunday linkage:

* New trailers are up for Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and WALLE. We're supposed to see a new trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in the next week or so. This summer's movie slate looks damned fun.

* This has been making the rounds on various blogs. A nice daily dose of bizarre.

* The Daily Batman.

* I think there's a simplistic beauty to this item of clothing, and I wish I could find one for myself.

* Lastly, I finally saw this movie last week:
Seeing Patrick Swayze rip a man's throat out was everything I thought it could be and more.


~ Buck

Read on, faithful few!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

So...where's Buck been?

Well, I got wrapped up in work and grad school for a couple of weeks. Then I was here for 5 days:








Sometime between now and the end of the weekend, I'll be posting some pictures of sunny beaches and rocket boosters. Following that, I hope to get back into some manner of semi-regular posting. Buckshot needs to be at least a weekly thing. The next one might be portions of a story for my autobiographical writing class, about those halcyon days at Miami University. Specifically, when Hooper and I took a rather interesting trip through the university's steam tunnels.
~ Buck

Read on, faithful few!

Monday, March 10, 2008

M-I-C-K-E-Y O-B-A-M-A



The Political "Brief"
Star Power, Mississippi Primary, Wyoming, Client No. 9 & Etc...


When is celebrity too much in politics?

Some people think that having a name that sounds like he's the 20th hijacker handicaps Barack Hussein Obama. Not so. "I'm on the train with Hussein" is a saying gaining steam with the Democratic underground, acknowledging and poking fun at the negative stereotypes attached to a name linked to 1) a brutal dictator & enemy of the state and 2) Islam, what many view to be the Enemy.

It's only one indication of the celebrity of Obama, the broad appeal he has going for him. He's won a Grammy, has a hit music video, was photographed swimming and shown off in People. Few politicians ever reach this level of stardom, but he did it with relative ease and quickly. Does this bode ill for him as a President, to be seen as a rock star before policy-maker? His supporters say no. In fact, this helps him reach a broader audience, couching his candidacy in terms of "star power" and not politics as usual.

The meteoric rise of Barack Obama began before he gave his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, eclipsing Kerry's own speech later in the event. As soon as he began moving through Illinois' state house, there were whispers among Democratic rank-and-file - and kingmakers - that he was the star to guide to the top of the heap. Peter Fitzgerrald leaving after one Senatorial term, and the IL Republican party awash in scandal and apathy, opened the door for a Democrat to step onto the national stage. Obama handily won in the primary and beat the carpetbagger Alan Keyes in November '04. It was a big year for him, and since then, he's been running for president, whether he knows it or not.

Some have cynically referred to him as the Great Black Hope, the one black man (who is half-white) who has a real chance to win the Presidency. The young, the old, the disenfranchised, the Hollywood liberal elite - all have flocked to his banner, shouting "Change!" as though he is the only person who had the ideas he has. But what are those ideas? Let's not think about that; why not watch him give a speech set to a hip pop music video on YouTube? It's far more fun to celebrate the cult of personality that has erupted around him over the last four years than worry about such silly things as concrete policy. His speeches are rallying cries for hope, for change, for telling the naysayers that Yes we can!

Thinking this way, as many of his supporters do, Obama's campaign runs the risk of his message - and his Movement's - being lost in the cheers when he walks into a room or repeats that mantra as though it were a catchphrase for some sitcom character. We haven't stopped to look at the man in the suit as much as we've been entranced by the Beatles-like frenzy that surrounds him. SNL did a parody a few weeks back where the debate moderators were fawning all over him as some sort of second coming; they were honored - privileged - to be in his presence. Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and John Legend are hosting a contest to see what supporter can come up with the best 30 second ad spot for Obama.

When will we stop focusing on the sensation and start honing in on the substance?

***

At this point, if Obama doesn't get the nomination, there'll be a political split the likes of which we haven't seen in modern political history. He will come out of the primary season with the most pledged delegates and votes. Right now, according to CNN, he leads 1,404 to Clinton's 1,243. The major debates of the week center around the delegations from Michigan and Florida, as well as Geraldine Ferraro.

Florida Democrats have concocted a plan combining in-person voting and mail-in votes, the former taking place June 3rd. 210 (D) delegates were stripped from FL, and when the state voted anyway in January, it went for Hillary (50%, over Obama's 33% and Edwards 14%). Does that mean the re-vote would fall the same way? Hard to say with Obama's momentum what it is, but it's likely. That would give her another "national state" in her column, giving her all of them so far (save IL, which blah blah blah). She says go for it! with a revote, and Obama wants the DNC to decide, reminding us rules were broken.

The rational for the Dems' primary schedule revolves around history and demographics, wanting a mix of the party base to participate before the country as a whole dives in. Florida and Michigan are diverse states, and give a national perspective to the vote, but that's what Super Tuesday is for, DNC officials argue. Howard Dean, chairman of the DNC and still bitter in voice and demeanor, is open to suggestions but offers no direct solution to cut through the controversy. We'll no more over the next few weeks.

***

On the primary front, Obama won in Mississippi (61% to 37%). Granted, this only nets him 5 delegates, and the he got the black vote by over 90% (Miss. is 1/3+ black); it's not some huge shocker here. Were this Ohio, yes, but not Mississippi. The shocker would've been a 51/49 win for him, with Hillary barreling up from behind, cutting into a state demographically in Barack territory. That all said, she should've broken 40%.

Obama also won the Wyoming caucus, first Democratic contest there I think since ever. Like that enthusiasm was centered around Hillary....

***

As mentioned earlier, Geraldine Ferraro made some comments this week: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he were a woman, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept." How could she not think this would raise hackles?

Regardless of the accuracy of the statement, and the cynicism it means is inherent in the country and political system, such a key player in Clinton's campaign and Democratic history (first woman VP candidate...or woman on a major party Presidential ticket, for that matter) should've known better. That comment of hers was going to be said by someone, but it should have been and underling, a disposable element. Now, Ferraro handicaps Clinton, attaches the spectre of racism and brings any positive media spin she had since mini Super-Tuesday (March 4th) to a standstill.

She claims reverse racism, that because she is white, people are in an uproar. Hypothetically speaking, were it a black Clinton supporter, would her claim hold water? I tend to think there would still be a furor, but not to the same degree. Instead of "racist," we'd hear terms synonymous with "traitor." What rankles some is that Ferraro is actually a charitable person, and a champion of civil liberties. Her comment comes from her position as a female politician seeing a sexist media keep Hillary's notable and historic candidacy as somehow less than Obama's. Which matters more, the first black or the first woman as President? It's a question she posed, in a roundabout way, and the uproar provides and answer.

***

Who is Client Number 9? Gov. Elliot Spitzer of New York, a crusader against corruption, graft, prostitution and organized crime has admitted (more/less) to using a prostitution agency, at least once. He did not live up to his own standard, he said in a statement, his shattered wife numb at his side, and he will resign as of Monday, 3/17/08. What does this matter? Aside from the wild hypocrisy it raises, Hillary loses a superdelegate. The Lt. Governor takes over (he's also legally blind, so he could always claim he thought it was his wife...) and his position remains vacant until the state gov't can straighten it out with an election or legislated appointment. Because both Gov. and Lt. Gov. are superdelegate positions from New York, and both were for Hillary, she loses Spitzer's vote and doesn't make it up with a replacement for soon-to-be Gov. David Paterson.

The Democratic nomination might come down to a few dozen votes, but not one.

***

What more can I say? We're weeks out from the Pennsylvania primary, Hillary is polling in a statistical dead heat nationally vs. Obama and in a head-to-head with McCain (so is Obama) and Romney is jockeying for the VP slot. Republican news is slow, Democratic news keeps recycling and scandals are perennial.

More news later, as I see fit to plagiarize other blogs.

Hooper, Agent of H.A.M.M.E.R.*



Heirarchy for Annihilation, Mass-Murder, Extortion and Ruin
A Republican P.A.C.


Read on, faithful few!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Everything's bigger in Texas, including Obama's frustration!


The Political "Brief"
Democrats blunder into Spring while McCain basks in acceptance, younger wife


Well, that does it for Mike Huckabee, governor of Arkansas, former Baptist minister, failed fatty. With McCain's official delegate position surpassing the required amount to secure the Republican nomination, Huckabee has kept true to his word and withdrawn from the campaign trail for now. Should McCain lose, no doubt both he and Romney will be back (and what happened to Elizabeth Dole?), having tested the waters and found them not nearly as frigid as one might've thought.

But enough about Republicans. Lets talk about those saucy liberals.


***

Barack Obama has, surprisingly, not committed mass murder in Texas after losing it by a nose hair to Sen. Clinton. His surge northward in the polls in the Lonestar State over the last few weeks only underscores his loss even more, but he can cheer up. From what I am told, and the math is still waiting final TX caucus numbers, Hillary only netted FOUR delegates
total last night, including her wins in Ohio (by a large margin) and Rhode Island. The story this morning was not, however, how few delegates she truly got but how many contests she won. 3 out of 4 is good on any standard.

This further goes to support the big-state theory of Clinton, and should concern any Obama supporter. Wyoming votes this weekend (caucus, for Obama no doubt, unless the rugged frontiersmen identity more with an "iron lady-in-training") followed by Mississippi (again, Obama - it's demographics, people). Neither of those predestined wins for Obama matter compared to his solid loss in Ohio or his narrow defeat in Texas. By not winning one or the other - at least the popular vote - Obama fuels Hillary's campaign, gives her ammunition for her war chest and prolongs what is turning out to be a distance race to the Democratic National Convention. It was supposed to be a sprint for him after Feb. 5th' strong showing and the 11-contest victory streak, with Texas at least falling in place. No knock on him, he's up against a determined fighter and maybe that's why he lost.

Hillary is rough-and-tumble, not afraid to use Karl Roveian tactics (which are, by the way, the
best tactics in political campaigning EVER) like the "3AM phone call" ad - "It's 3 AM and your kids are asleep and the phone is ringing in the White House...who do you trust more with their security in the dead of night etc etc etc." Obama doesn't do that. He's about change, right? Decency in politics, perish the thought? You can be decent and still throw a good punch, Barack. The stereotypical "angry black man" persona won't be applied to you, because you defy stereotype in all forms, so your racially frightened opponents can't hit you on that. Being aggressive about your ideas and in defense of them (maybe a little proactive defense. Hmmm....?) only engenders you to those who want spine and grit in their President. Commander-in-Chief, Barack, is more than a title; it's a role you have to embrace. If you can't take on Hillary Clinton, Carville & Begala might rant, how can you take on Al-Qaeda? Or genocide in Africa?

Pennsylvania looms, a broken state full of rusted out people, Hillary's people. The blue collar worker is not Obama's. Ohio and Michigan neighor this state, if just in spirit only (yes, I know my geography): Ohio is next door and full of the same manufacturer woes as PA and Michigan, across the lake, defines unemployment. Both went for Hillary. Yes, Obama's name wasn't on the ballot in Michigan, but - BUT - Hillary polled well there regardless and one could construct a victory for her there from her win in New Hampshire. Blue collar workers, usually white men, supported Hillary Tuesday and in many contests before. One thinks their voting block will keep her propped up in the PA polls as April 22nd approaches.

***

And that's how long we have to wait until something else major really happens. Observe who McCain deals with, to see the shape of his official campaign staff, advisers and proto-Cabinet. Also, start pondering running mates.

On the Democratic front, supporters of both, cross your fingers. It's going to be a bumpy ride through March and April with acrimony and thinly veiled insults seeping across the airwaves.










Hooper

Read on, faithful few!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Clinton's Last Gleaming


The Political Brief
The Democractic D-Day, McCain Charges to the Finish


Tonight, when you tuck yourselves into bed and pretend the covers are a fort because you can't go to sleep, will you also be thinking about the Democratic and Republican nominees for President, decided earlier in the evening? The contests in Ohio and Texas, nevermind Rhode Island and Vermont, will decide who goes to bat for the Dems come this fall. We know McCain has a lock on the (R) nomination, but Clinton still battles Obama tooth-and-nail to make her own sort of history.

The odds are not in her favor.

Support for Obama sprung fully formed from the hardscrabble Texas plains, urged on by a surprisingly small campaign staff. His cut into double-digit Clinton leads across the state, shored up his demographic, got the undecideds and then started in on Clinton's own base. According to virtually all major polls, they are in a dead heat. What matters is not that it appears to be a tight horse race, but that Obama has bullied through the Clinton machine (though set up late in the state, still present) and hasn't shown signs of stopping.

Second to that, however, is another little bit of polling trivia: he has yet to take a statistical lead, meaning, breaking enough points ahead to take into account the statistical margin of error all polls have. He can win the popular vote, a slim majority of delegates, but lose Ohio and the delegate totals for the night. His overall lead will remain, and I don't think anyone expects Hillarious to do more than pull even, but he needs to show that big states like him as much as smaller, less important caucus states.

Because let's face it: Iowa, despite its "heartland" appeal, or Washington or Nevada or so many other states Obama's won through caucuses, isn't really a state that shapes national agendas. Texas, California, Illinois, New York, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania - these are key national policy states, and he won in IL in large part because he's from there. Winning even by a vote in OH and TX means he can claim Big State Support, which until now he doesn't really have. Clinton is the big-state candidate, the old school democrat who rallies better in primaries, who plays better on the national stage and therefore those "national" states.

Clinton holds a lead, though only a few points, on Ohio. This is down from as much as an 18 point spread going into the first half of February. Barring a radical shift at the voting box, she'll win there. Obama has Vermont, she has Rhode Island so call those matched out. I know I'll be flipping to CNN in between garish American Idol performances, much to the chagrin of the lovely Mrs. McFinney.

***

McCain has nothing to worry about in any state voting today. He just might get that delegate lock tonight and Huckabee's concession speech. If not...oooOOOO!! Fight! Fight! Fight! Schism!!!

***

Michelle Obama still lingers in the news for her comments about only recently being proud of her country. Poor word choice, because how could a 40+-yr-old woman not be proud for so long in her life? Wouldn't you leave if you felt no warmth towards your native land? Again, poor word choice that bit her back, and hard. Also makes her look a bit snooty.

***

On the issue side, I cannot speak until we have two defined candidates and get these popularity contests over and done with. I know you can't wait to hear what each nominee has to say about NAFTA or abortion, gun control, same-sex marriage, Iraq and Iran, military bases in foreign lands, etc. I cannot talk explicitly about all areas of the economy, but I can quote others on their stances.

Thank you as always for reading. I look forward to the hoosgow going down tonight.

Let's light this monkey!



Hooper

Read on, faithful few!