Category Archives: POTUS Elections

McCain Offer Could Revive Stuffy Debates (IBD)

By DAVID S. BRODER | Posted Friday, June 06, 2008 4:30 PM PT

It’s pretty obvious what was the most overhyped political story of the past week. The honors clearly go to the Hillary Clinton drama: Will she stand down? Will she endorse? Will she deign to accept the vice presidency? Will she join a monastic order and move to a commune?

What a lot of nonsense.

It was always a certainty that this accomplished Democratic pol would do what was in her own and her party’s interests, namely, by behaving like the pro she is and thereby preserving her future career options.

There was never a chance she would go to Denver to launch a futile challenge, nor would she sulk and let herself be the scapegoat if Obama loses.

Because the Clinton speculation consumed so much of the oxygen, a genuinely important development drew much less sustained attention than it deserves.

I am referring to the challenge from John McCain to Barack Obama for a series of 10 joint town meetings starting this month and continuing perhaps until Election Day.

Bypassing the TV networks, the presidential debate commission and all the other muckety-mucks who have seized control of the campaign dialogue, McCain simply dropped the newly nominated Obama a note saying, in effect, let’s get it on.

The Obama camp said it found the notion “appealing,” and with that, what may be the largest step toward improving the content of the presidential election became a genuine possibility.

Ever since Jerry Ford, as an incumbent president, challenged Jimmy Carter to debate in 1976, we have institutionalized a small number of debates, really joint news conferences, between the major candidates.

The first such debates were held in 1960, under a law that allowed the networks to sponsor them without providing equal time for minor candidates.

The country was captivated by the Kennedy-Nixon encounters. But Lyndon Johnson was nowhere near that generous to Barry Goldwater; Richard Nixon stiffed his opponent in 1968 and 1972, and the debates might well have disappeared had Ford not emerged from his convention trailing Jimmy Carter — and in need of the bravado communicated by his decision to be the first-ever incumbent president to enter a television debate.

Most years, the autumn debates were the main events of the campaign, drawing the largest audiences and having the maximum impact. But over time, these debates have become more and more ritualistic and less and less useful to voters.

The candidates rehearse so intensely, calculating what topics will likely be raised and delivering their answers so often that they seem scripted. Campaign aides critique each run-through, suggesting words or phrases that “test” the best.

The stakes are so high that all the life and spontaneity are drained out of the occasion; often, irrelevancies — Al Gore sighing or George H.W. Bush glancing at his watch — dominate any of the substance.

There is no guarantee that the new town meetings will avoid these dangers. But I think the odds are that they will be better.

Having so many of them will reduce the stakes for each one. Starting them early will also make them more manageable. Keeping the format simple, as McCain suggests, will also help. Encouraging the candidates to talk directly with each other, and with the voters who put questions to them, will help keep the dialogue fresh and the exchanges pointed.

You can’t avoid some showmanship and some rehearsed zingers. But given the personalities and character of these two candidates, it is very likely that a lot of what we would see would be the genuine beliefs of these two men, expressed in their own words.

And what a marvelous precedent that would set for future years, when one or the other of the candidates — likely the incumbent president — would try to avoid early and frequent debates.

This simple-sounding idea, which stirred no great excitement last week, could turn out to be one of the best things to happen to our politics maybe since the enfranchisement of women. Too bad it was eclipsed by the Adventures of Hillary.

© 2008 Washington Post Writers Group


Florida, Michigan cannot save Clinton

WASHINGTON (AP) – Michigan and Florida alone can’t save Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign.

Interviews with those considering how to handle the two states’ banished convention delegates found little interest in the former first lady’s best-case scenario. Her position, part of a formidable comeback challenge, is that all the delegates be seated in accordance with their disputed primaries.

Even if they were, it wouldn’t erase Barack Obama’s growing lead in delegates.

The Democratic Party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, a 30-member panel charged with interpreting and enforcing party rules, is to meet May 31 to consider how to handle Michigan and Florida’s 368 delegates.

Last year, the panel imposed the harshest punishment it could render against the two states after they scheduled primaries in January, even though they were instructed not to vote until Feb. 5
or later. Michigan and Florida lost all their delegates to the national convention, and all the Democratic candidates agreed not to campaign in the two states, stripping them of all the influence
they were trying to build by voting early.

But now there is agreement on all sides that at least some of the delegates should be restored in a gesture of party unity and respect to voters in two general election battlegrounds.

Clinton has been arguing for full reinstatement, which would boost her standing. She won both states, even though they didn’t count toward the nomination and neither candidate campaigned in
them. Obama even had his name pulled from Michigan’s ballot.

The Associated Press interviewed a third of the panel members and several other Democrats involved in the negotiations and found widespread agreement that the states must be punished for stepping out of line. If not, many members say, other states will do the same thing in four years.

“We certainly want to be fair to both candidates, and we want to be sure that we are fair to the 48 states who abided by the rules,” said Democratic National Committee Secretary Alice
Germond, a panel member unaligned with either candidate. “We don’t want absolute chaos for 2012.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: AP • Florida • Hillary Clinton • Michigan

Obama doubles down on McCain

By Jim Tankersley

Updated with new McCain response.

ROSEBURG, Ore. – Barack Obama has doubled down on his claim that John McCain would “double-down” on President Bush’s policies.

A day after he used the phrase to accuse McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, of mimicking Bush’s foreign policy, Obama employed it again for health care in a speech this afternoon.

Obama told a high school cafeteria sweating through a rare spring heat wave in Southern Oregon that McCain would “shred” employer-based health care and leave every American to “fend for yourself” in the free market. McCain “wants to give you the failed Bush health care policies for another four years,” he said.

Later he added – wait for it! – “I don’t think the American people can afford to double-down on the failed health care policies of the Bush Administration.”

Obama repeated the attacks he leveled at Bush on Friday for launching the Iraq war – which he called “the best recruiting tool al Qaeda ever had” – and allowing Iran to rise in power and Hamas to control Gaza. On Friday in South Dakota, he called those “the failed policies that John McCain wants to double-down on.”


In Roseburg, he said the same is true for domestic policies. “For eight years,” Obama said, “George Bush has done nothing on health care except offer a few tax breaks to some folks who don’t really need them.” He also slammed McCain on energy policy after a questioner noted the Arizona senator’s Portland’s speech this week about confronting global warming.

“John McCain tried to come to Oregon as an environmental candidate, but his big strategy is to do more drilling and have a gas tax holiday for three months,” he said. “That’s a phony solution.”

McCain had no events scheduled today, but his campaign hit back on all fronts. Spokesman Tucker Bounds called Obama’s willingness to meet with Iran and other “rouge” nations – the source of yesterday’s back-and-forth on foreign policy – “incredibly weak judgment” that “reveals why Americans will elect John McCain’s record of experience and tested leadership.”

In separate statements, Bounds called Obama’s energy critique “Washington-style attack politics and said Obama and Clinton “want to insert government bureaucracy into your medicine cabinet, while John McCain is committed to keeping America’s top-quality doctors, and reforming the system so that health care plans would be made available, accessible and affordable for families.”


Rove slams Obama over ‘bitter’ comments, flag pin

(CNN) — Karl Rove launched a wide-ranging attack on Barack Obama during a speech at the National Rifle Association Convention Friday, blasting him for his recent comments calling some small town American’s “bitter,” and suggesting the Illinois senator is an effete politician unable to connect with a broad swath of Americans.

The comments, received enthusiastically by the large crowd in Louisville, Kentucky, are a likely sign Obama’s words at a San Francisco fundraiser last month may be a major Republican talking-point should he capture the Democratic Party’s nomination.

“You know in the age of Barack Obama I don’t know exactly what to call you, because after all, as he said, because we’re bitter and economically anxious, we ‘cling to our guns and we cling to our faith,” Rove told the crowd to laughter and cheers.

“You probably didn’t know you hunted out of economic anxiety, and if gas was a $1.50 a gallon, you probably wouldn’t be hunting,” he continued. “You probably thought you hunted because you enjoyed the outdoors and companionship with family and friends.”

Rove, largely credited with orchestrating campaign strategies that painted former Democratic nominees Al Gore and John Kerry as out of touch with small town Americans, also cited Obama’s recent primary losses in Pennsylvania and West Virginia as evidence a large demographic is unwilling to vote for the presumptive Democratic nominee.

“We here have news for Barack Obama,” Rove said. “The values of those people you diminished are the values of America. And those people don’t like getting patronized, or viewed as an alien species, by a fellow who pretends to embody a new kind of politics, and especially by someone who wants to be president not of red states or blue states, but the United States.”

Rove, who does not have an official role within John McCain’s presidential campaign or at the Republican National Committee, also took Obama to task for recently wearing a flag pin.


“It is distracting to say in a Democratic primary when you are trying to cozy up to that an American flag on your lapel is a quote ‘substitute’ for true patriotism,” Rove said. “Belittling all those who care to wear our country’s flag, calling them false patriots, and then when you focus on the general election, like this week, start to showing up with an American flag on your lapel again. That’s distracting.”

Obama was asked last October why he normally does not wear a flag pin on his lapel, as many politicians do. The Illinois senator said then he wore one shortly after 9/11, but later decided to show his patriotism in other ways.

“After a while, you start noticing people wearing the lapel pin but not acting very patriotic,” he said then. “My attitude is that I’m less concerned with what you’re wearing on your lapel than what’s in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those ones who serve.”

Filed under: Barack Obama • Karl Rove

The Dreaded Reaching Hand of Legal Oppression – Extortionist Racism Charges

It is a crime to be racist. Therefore when racist charges are the subject, prison terms or worse are the predicate. Therefore, charges of racism are a menace to society, extortion to intimidate rivals into silence and compliance analogous to threats of blackballing from society, lynching or some other such thing. The only difference between despised minorities screaming racism and common people carrying pitchforks and torches is that the former have the entire state apparatus at their disposal to legitimize and carry out their vicious attacks. Any comments?

Obama’s Black Ambition

If Barack Obama is running on the platform of being black, then he should lose unless the electorate cows in fear meanwhile justifying their own capitulation by hypocritical accusations (e.g., against conservatives for resisting miscegenation). An economist article suggested that American whites are less racist than they used to be (like in the fifties) because whites have had a seven-fold increase in the proportion of interracial children. This argument infers that whites are racist if they don’t intermarry and that whites are therefore racist by virtue of their skin color. Notwithstanding the fact that this is a racist argument, it leads unambiguously to the conclusion that whites are criminal (because it is a crime to be racist).  Don’t you like how the devil turns things upside down? Very nice logic indeed.

A leftist on tv says that she thinks it’s mean that people won’t vote for a candidate because of his race. On the contrary, it’s mean to vote for a candidate because of his/her identity.



Analysis: Obama reacts fast to Bush on diplomacy

WASHINGTON (AP) — In President Bush’s hint that Barack Obama wants to appease terrorists, Democrats heard troubling echoes of 2004, when Republicans portrayed John Kerry as irresolute and weak on national security…