Posts Tagged ‘obama’

The Candidates’ Spouses

June 12, 2008

Does the GOP’s strategy for winning include seeking the votes of woman? If so, would they really want to go on the offensive against Michelle Obama? Hasn’t our nation’s female electorate just demonstrated that, far from fearing strong, articulate, intelligent women, they actually prefer them? Doesn’t attacking Michelle Obama fly in the face of that, in addition to inviting comparison of the candidates’ spousal preferences? Do woman want a candidate who seeks as his spouse someone strong, articulate, and intelligent, or a candidate who seeks a woman who is dutiful, demure, and wealthy?

The primaries made me grit my teeth in anger. So far, the general has me gaping in confusion and wonder. This should be simple and obvious. But so should the last two have been…


Obama Must…

June 9, 2008

Obama must put a quick end to all speculation about putting Mrs. Clinton on the ticket. Assuming he believes he doesn’t need her—and it’s very possible that he might prefer to take a possible loss with another candidate than take a certain win with Hillary—then he needs to put a stop to all Sunday talk-show chatter about Hillary as VP.

Here’s how he does it, after he’s reassured himself that he doesn’t want her (which he can very quickly):

  • Meet with Hillary as soon as possible. Let her know, very politely, that he won’t be putting her on the ticket.
  • Get her to make an announcement that she has let Obama know she is not interested in being VP, and would not accept if nominated.
  • For cover from the media, when asked, Hillary says she’s not interested in playing second-fiddle. People will believe this.

This accomplishes all of the following:

  • There’s no chorus of boos during the convention when the real (not Hillary) candidate is announced. Clintonites might be disappointed, but at least they won’t be surprised, especially after an enthusiastic Hillary just gave a speech re-endorsing Obama, and including how she won’t be on the ticket.
  • The spotlight shifts immediately from Hillary to Obama. As of right now she’s still the story. The retarded McLaughlin Group dedicated time this weekend to a discussion of how Hillary might still be able to worm her way into the nomination. That has to stop now.
  • It gives Hillary cover, lets her save face with her supporters. She gets no public rejection, instead she gets to give the impression of doing the rejecting… this should appeal to her tremendous ego.

In reality, there is no way Hillary will be on this ticket. It’s a terrible match-up. At best, the benefits of having her on the ticket are canceled-out by the negatives, which are numerous. Even if her campaigning for Obama is less than enthusiastic is she knows it’s a no-go for her on the ticket, this is much better for her supporters, who can be won-over by Obama and women other than Hillary. It’d be nice to have her campaigning for you, but there are other ways to win her supporters over.

However, the primary reason not to have her on the ticket has to do with the Obama presidency, not the Obama candidacy. After the victory, Hillary would still be there, pressing her agenda, chipping away from the inside, complicating the message and the political agenda, spreading her chaos. Not to mention Bill Clinton and all the distraction he brings.

One of the reasons I like Obama so well is because of something I heard him say in an interview well before the campaign began. In response to the inevitable “will you run?” question, he said something like this (paraphrasing): “if I did run, it would be because I thought I could do something great for this country, it wouldn’t be just because I could. I wouldn’t run just to become president.”

I really believe Obama’s presidency will be historic not for the fact that he will be the first black president, but for what he accomplishes in office, and for how he will be remembered. Just being black and elected is not his agenda, and for good reason: it’s not a worthy reason for electing anyone. Just as it wouldn’t have been worthy to nominate Hillary just because she was a woman. And for all the Clinton campaign bumbles and all the fine analysis on how she “lost” the primary election, I have to believe that if Hillary had something more going for her besides just being a woman with a crafty campaign team, she would have been the nominee. As it was, however, she had only her ambition and her gender to recommend her, and that wasn’t enough for the Democrats.

Someday very soon more deserving candidate than Hillary will emerge, be nominated and elected, and she will be a woman. And the victory will be much more proud for our nation, and the victory will be much more pure for the feminists who have been patiently waiting for such a long time. They deserve the best, and so does the nation.

The Clinton Disgrace

June 5, 2008

Mrs. Clinton’s overt campaign for the vice presidency is/was at once pathetic and outrageous. She should have ended her campaign weeks, if not months ago. Certainly on Tuesday night she should have (for once) acknowledged defeat and struck a more unifying tone. She should not have attempted to steal Obama’s thunder on that occasion, however historic a nomination it was. Terrible form, totally absent of any grace whatever. If anyone was ever in doubt as to how Mrs. Clinton weighs the good of the party verses her own personal ambitions, it should be patently clear by now that she would sacrifice the good of the candidate, the party, and, by logical extension (if we assume she has conviction for her positions) the American public

A few thoughts:

  • For all her many cries of “foul”—sexism, unfair media treatment, disrespect from Obama supporters—the truth is that few other presidential candidates have ever been handled so gently, so respectfully, as Obama has treated Mrs. Clinton.
  • Very little of Hillary’s vociferous support is really about Hillary herself, it’s about getting a woman in office. I agree that it would be a great thing, but the candidate has to be the best candidate. Hillary is not that. As I’ve said before: let’s elect a woman next time. In this case, Obama is the best candidate.
  • It’s been said that Hillary needed time to “come down”, to back-out of campaign mode slowly. This is supposedly her excuse for her having taken so long to finally endorse Obama (five days!?). This need for her to take some time to let reality sink in has been repeated periodically, ever since Obama mathematically sewed-up the nomination. After the “Potomac Primaries”, after North Caroline & Indiana, and even now. She’s already had two months to get used to the reality of losing this. It is absurd that she should need several more days, in addition to haranguing by party leaders.

So yes, as an Obama supporter from the start, I’m rather bitter about what Mrs. Clinton has done to the party and her needlessly delaying our nominee’s general election bid. The ego is almost Bushian in scope. Please, please, Obama, don’t spend any of my campaign contributions on repaying her “debts” (to herself). The idea that any of my money could wind-up paying Hillary back—funds which she used to abuse my candidate—is shocking and horrifying. No, thank you.

Obama Veepstakes & Hillary

June 3, 2008

Obama must nip this Hillary as VP thing in the bud. Immediately. Maybe even in his speech tonight. Failing that, then later this week. The longer it brews the closer it becomes to reality and this Obama supporter will be horrified and disappointed to see mean, manipulative, destructive, divisive Hillary on my ticket. She has lost. Why won’t she have some grace and get the hell out?

The Clinton Mistake

May 21, 2008

Huge mistake for Hillary to have stayed in the race as long as she has. As a strategy for sabotaging Obama’s chances and leaving her free to run again in 2012, it was crafty, if ugly and Machiavellian to continue even when the numbers looked impossible to overcome. But she should have gotten out after North Carolina and Indiana, and just continued her little hatchet jobs on Obama from the sidelines. As it stands today, she looks like a candidate out-of-touch with reality. The support she once enjoyed on SNL has already eroded and now she gives them and every other satirist (not to mention journalist) fodder to paint her as a woman completely blind to reality—not a caricature that will help her get into the White House in ’08, even if she does succeed in killing the Obama candidacy. And lets be honest: that’s what this has been about, for months now, starting with the “kitchen sink” negativity she undertook before Ohio and Texas.

Tough and tenacious is one thing. Out-of-touch, blind and ungracious is another. I have lost all respect for HIllary. I now have the same visceral distaste for her that I have when I see Bush speak.

Transportation Policy & Amtrak

April 9, 2008

In a time when airlines are failing, three-in-a-week, and canceling flights, which will likely lead to further rises in air travel costs; in a time when fuel costs continue to rise, causing havoc in nearly ever other sector; in a time when we’re recovering from a pro-highway Bush-appointed transportation secretary; in a time when we obviously need Amtrak more than ever, the Republicans have nominated John McCain, a man who has been one of Amtrak’s harshest critics in the Senate (despite finding it rather convenient), a candidate deemed “worse than Bush” on transportation policy, even by the right wing.

It’s clear that the “failed business model” of rail travel only fails up until the point when fuel costs make air and automobile travel prohibitively expensive. And we’re getting there rather quickly. In the holiday season, when snow storms strike on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, airports close but Amtrak keeps on running. Here in the northeast, Amtrak trains deliver passengers right to the middle of some of the nation’s most important centers of business & finance, law, politics, and academia: New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Philadelphia. And the train doesn’t dump you off at Dulles, or La Guardia, with another 45 minutes of cab ride to go, you are delivered to the city’s center. Those of us who work in the northeast and travel to/from these cities and want to be able to get something done en route, rely heavily on Amtrak.

So this is not a time to clamp down on Amtrak. If you’re pro-business, you’ll recognize that travelers in the nation’s busiest business centers rely heavily on Amtrak. If you’re in favor of diversifying our transportation “portfolio”, so that we’re not entirely reliant on air or highway, then you know we need Amtrak.

So where do the candidates stand?


Obama’s campaign has created a document—the Bluprint for Change—which clearly and concisely outlines his policies on the most important issues. Additionally, he has policy documents dedicated to specific issues, including a statement on transportation policy. In that, Obama specifically address Amtrak thus:

Obama believes we need to reform Amtrak to improve accountability. In many parts of the country, Amtrak is the only form of reliable transportation. In the U.S. Senate, Obama is a cosponsor of the Passenger Rail Investment and Innovation Act of 2007, a leading act to provide long-term federal investment to Amtrak. As president, Barack Obama will continue to fight for Amtrak funding and reform so that individuals, families and businesses throughout the country have safe and reliable transportation options.

Top marks for Obama.


I give Hillary high marks for her transportation policy, assuming she actually intends to follow-through on it. In addition to increasing efficiency standards for autos, she wants to spend $1B to increase passenger rail infrastructure, but keep Amtrak at its current (underfunded) levels:

Hillary believes that greater federal involvement is needed to maximize the potential of this transportation mode. She will increase federal investment in light rail by $1 billion over 5 years in order to help finance capital projects. These investments are in addition to the federal commitment to Amtrak.

Not bad, but not much there for Amtrak. B-


The McCain campaign’s website doesn’t mention transportation policy. Anywhere. In his “on the issues” section, he does specifically mention our space program and second amendment rights, but nothing on transportation. He has entire “issues” sections dedicated to “human dignity” (ie, his anti-abortion panderama and anti-gay-marriage rant) and again, one for second amendment rights. So, high marks for finding a euphemism for “anti-abortion”, but a failing grade on transportation policy.

Goole Search on the McCain site for the word “Amtrak”: no results.

Clinton Had No Strategy

April 9, 2008

Here’s a problem facing the Clinton candidacy. This time we look beyond the turmoil in her campaign, but look instead to her own leadership: if getting elected is so important to Hillary (and it clearly is), how come she didn’t have a strategy for getting there? Bush administration in Iraq: same problem: no strategy. And by the way “kitchen sink” is not a strategy. It’s a tactic… an ugly one.

A plan is not a strategy. A strategy is a playbook for what to do to accomplish a goal, including allowing for the full scope of problems which might arise. In some ways, the art of strategy is in figuring out what might go wrong, and then creating possible alternative plans for various different scenarios.

Example: Bush had a plan for Iraq—but no strategy. When circumstances on the ground didn’t fit the plan, he had nothing. Thus, the mess we’re in over there.

But Hillary didn’t even have a plan, she had an assumption: that she was inevitable. And the assumption failed in the first contest, in Iowa, and that was the most important one in the campaign. This despite the fact that she had people inside her campaign advising her on strategic ways to insulate her campaign from potential problem.

At best we could say that her “plan” was to win everything early and maintain the appearance of inevitability. OK, that’s a way to win it all without having to do any work, but it was a gamble, and strategies are very different from gambits.

So why does anyone want to elect an illegitimate candidate who lacks the ability to think strategically? She likes to cast herself as the fighter, but the presidency is not a boxing match. Getting things “done” does require fight, but it’s better to go into your war with a strategy, then go into your battles with solid plans, then go into your combat with fighting spirit. The generals strategize, the commanders plan battles and the soldiers fight. Congratulations to Hillary on being a worthy soldier. Now lets go nominate a general.

Why Michigan and Florida Cannot Be Counted

April 5, 2008

Hillary continues to beat the drum for the DNC to recognize the illegitimate Michigan and Florida primaries. Here’s why it just can’t happen, at least not without a “re-vote”: the Florida and Michigan primaries didn’t reflect the votes of an informed electorate. They weren’t fair measure of how legitimate primaries would have gone.

In state after state, the longer voters have to get to know Obama, the more they like him, and the better he does. The problem is that Obama didn’t campaign in Florida and Michigan because he pledged not to do so. As a part of that pledge, he and every other major Democratic candidate except Clinton took their names off the ballot in Michigan. Yes, Hillary went back on her pledge.

You can be sure that if Obama thought there were the slightest risk that these states’ primaries (and/or the popular vote totals from those primaries) would be counted toward his nomination, he’d have spent time and effort allowing those voters to get to know him. And in that case, you can bet he’d have done much better than he did, if not beaten Hillary outright, especially in Michigan. As it was, for Hillary, the vote totals reflect a throw-back to the days when she could sail by on name recognition alone, without facing the scrutiny a fair competition can bring

So that neatly wraps up why it isn’t “right” that the FL & MI primaries be counted as they voted. But what about the “rules”?

From a rules perspective, Beth Fouhy’s AP article nicely encapsulates the crux of the issue: that the Florida and Michigan primaries were “nullified after they were moved into January in violation of national Democratic party rules. The party voted to strip both states of their delegates and all the candidates, including Clinton and rival Barack Obama, signed a pledge not to campaign in either state.”

The party voted to do one thing, and Hillary is now pushing to have them reverse that decision simply because it is in her political best interest. After the election, what other rules would she happily controvert to fit her political agenda? Do we want another Bush administration? We’re supposed to be rolling back the damages of the past seven/eight years, not continuing on with more of the same.

What’s right should count. Unfortunately, it can’t always. When it can’t, we have only the rules to fall back on. Shame on Hillary.

The Differences

April 4, 2008

From a policy perspective, Hillary and Obama are more alike than different. However the leadership, style (and substance!) differences seem enormous. For some time I’ve suspected that one huge difference between these two candidates, once elected, would be the conduct and tenor of their administrations.

The Clinton campaign is said to be a tumultuous organization, with dissent, back-biting, internal competition, etc. Now we have news that Hillary’s “Chief Strategist”, Mark Penn, has admitted to having meetings to work toward passage of a trade agreement which his own candidate opposes. Chief Strategist. Penn is one of the two or three most senior members of the Clinton campaign. It’s an extremely chaotic organization, and it’s a preview of what you can expect from a Hillary administration.

Obama’s campaign, by contrast, is extremely well organized, focused, coordinated, and usually very much on message. This, despite the fact that it’s a remarkably decentralized organization.

Draw your own conclusions as to what we could expect from these different candidates after the election.

The L Word

April 2, 2008

The public is catching-on to the fact that Obama is a liberal, and there is a presumption in the media (e.g., the Wall St. Journal) that this will work against him in the general election, that Americans still treat “liberal” as a dirty word.

The negative association with this word is going to change over the course of an eight year Obama presidency, just as it drifted out of favor during Reagan’s eight years, when (typical GOP tactic) they started simply using the word as a negative label, treating the negative connotation as a given, and thus creating it.

But give Obama a chance, and in the American zeitgeist the thinking will go, “Obama is a liberal? But we love Obama… I guess we don’t hate liberals after all”.

Indeed, Bush has already gotten the ball rolling, doing much to de-stigmatize the “liberal” label by virtue of his presumed position as a conservative (he really isn’t one, by the way). That Bush is presumed to be conservative allows Americans to call into question their knee-jerk affiliation with that side of our political continuum.

Another portent to a shift in favor for the word liberal includes the fact that there is now a market for books with titles like Why We’re Liberals (Eric Alterman, from Viking) and The Conscience of a Liberal (Paul Krugman, from W. W. Norton & Company).

Alterman book image krugman book cover

All it takes to complete the L word’s makeover is a single, unifying leader who isn’t afraid to wear the liberal mantle. I think Obama’s up to the task!