Friday, May 23, 2008
Hillary Claims Republicans Changed the Rules in Florida, and Democrats shouldn't be punished. Fact is that's not true and here's your proof.
I call Bullshit.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Hillary Today Claimed "We'll Take This All The Way To The Convention." Rachel Maddow nailed this one before Hillary even said it.
by Rachel Maddow
When the Democratic primary calendar ends on June 3rd, Senator Obama will have more delegates than Senator Clinton.
On what grounds could a candidate who is behind at the end of a race avoid conceding that he or she has been beaten? On the grounds that the race really isn't over!
After the primary calendar has ended, Clinton's campaign can only justify or explain her staying in the race if she makes the case that the Democratic Party still has not chosen a nominee conclusively. Clinton needs an argument that the game should go into extra innings. Overtime. Bonus round. Detention. Whatever. Clinton has now found that argument -- she says she will not stop campaigning until the issue of the Florida and Michigan delegates is settled to her satisfaction.
The Florida/Michigan issue get settled, of course, by the Democrats' Rules and Bylaws Committee... unless of course that committee's decision gets appealed to the Credentials Committee... unless of course that decision, too, gets appealed... to the floor of the convention.
Do you see where this is going? If there is an open, unresolved procedural issue involving the Florida and Michigan delegations, Senator Clinton will be able to cite that as her justification for staying in the race until the convention even though she is not ahead in the nomination contest at the end of the primary calendar.
If she can ensure that the Florida and Michigan issue stays unresolved until the convention (and by appealing it every step of the way, I don't see how that can be avoided), then Clinton stays in the race until the convention. Staying in until the convention buys her three more months of campaign time, three more months to make her case to the party and the country, three more months for some potential political unfortunateness to befall Senator Obama.
And it keeps the race for the Democratic nomination open, at least theoretically, for Senator Clinton to win instead of Senator Obama.
How could Clinton win at the convention? Seems to me that three months is a long time in this race, and if it gets that far, anything could happen.
Pffft! You say. Scoff.
Listen: you don't need a vivid political imagination to recognize that if what you really want is to be President of the United States -- a slim chance of becoming President (a fight at the convention) is better than no chance of becoming President (because you dropped out).
The Clinton strategy, as best as I can tell, is to stay in the race. You can't win if you don't play -- conceding the nomination is sure defeat, not conceding means there's still a chance.
The way for her to avoid conceding is for her to avoid conceding that the race is resolved.
As long as the Florida and Michigan dispute is alive, and it is being used as the basis of Clinton's claim that the nomination is unresolved, we should expect that Senator Clinton will stay in the race.
We should also expect that if the Democratic Party's committee system takes up the Florida and Michigan dispute through its rules as they stand now, Clinton's campaign will be able to keep the Michigan and Florida dispute alive until the convention. If there's a secret Democratic-insider plan to keep that from happening, it's time for that plan to become un-secret.
The pundit corps has been counting Clinton out and saying the race is over -- but saying it doesn't make it so.
If Clinton fights to stay in until the convention -- which seems utterly plausible to me -- then I believe the Democratic Party's nominee (Obama or Clinton) will lose the general election to John McCain. This last point is of course infinitely debatable -- but my take is that in November, the party that's had a nominee since February/March, beats the party that only got a nominee the last week in August.
So, how does the Democratic Party get a nominee before the convention? Seems to me there's two things that need to happen. One small, one big.
First, Obama's campaign should stop believing what most of the press says, and start believing what Clinton says -- she isn't budging. If they don't mind the prospect of a divided convention, then fine -- if they do mind that prospect, they'll have to fight for their desired outcome. Clinton is now arguing that taking the fight to the convention is OK for the Democrats -- even noble. This argument won't be defeated if it is ignored -- Obama's camp will have to rebut.
Second, if the Democrats are to avoid a divided convention, the Florida and Michigan dispute will have to be taken off the table -- settled in a way that avoids the risk of a rules dispute that stretches the nominating contest out through the convention. I can think of only one way to do that, but there may be others.
Here's my way: based on my read of NBC's delegate math, I think if the Clinton campaign won 100% of what they wanted on the Florida and Michigan dispute, Obama could still clinch the nomination -- even according to the most pro-Clinton math -- if 90 of the remaining 210-or-so undeclared superdelegates declared for Obama.
If they so declared before May 31st, the Rules and Bylaws committee would have no reason to take up the Florida and Michigan dispute because it would be a moot point -- Obama's camp could concede every Clinton demand on the subject and still win the nomination.
Otherwise? I'll be the twitchy one on radio row at the divided Democratic convention in Denver... spooked by the ghosts of 1968, 1972, 1980...
RachelPS -- I should note here, briefly, that I don't have a personal preference between Senators Clinton and Obama as to who would run a better campaign against John McCain, or who would be a better President. I think both Obama and Clinton would probably be pretty good general election contenders, and probably they'd each be a good president. (50% of my hate mail tells me I'm in the tank for Obama and 50% of it tells me I'm in the tank for Clinton - although the level of vitriol on each side has risen and fallen with the tide of the campaign).
"There is not an Ounce of Principle in the Clinton Position."
What Game is Hillary Playing?
by Guy T. Saperstein
Nothing reveals more clearly how utterly unprincipled the Clintons are than their assertion that rules set by the Democratic Party's Rules Committee, and endorsed by all Clinton representatives on this Committee, now should be abandoned. Nothing reveals more clearly that the only rules the Clintons follow are rules which favor them. Nothing reveals how exaggerated their claims are than Hillary's recent comparison of the votes in Michigan and Florida to the civil rights movement, the suffragette movement, the fraudulent election in Zimbabwe and the 2000 election in Florida.
The outlines of this story are simple and straight-forward: Two states, Michigan and Florida, sought to advance their Democratic primary elections ahead of other states in order to increase their influence in the primary process. If they had been allowed to do so, Democratic parties in other states could have done the same, it would have become a frantic, disorganized race to be the first, or among the first, state primaries, and the primary season could have been extended substantially. The Democratic Rules Committee reviewed this, understood that chaos would ensue if every state party could advance their presidential primaries unilaterally, and ruled that if Michigan and Florida advanced their primaries, the votes would not count in the delegate race. Hillary Clinton had 15 representatives on the 30-member Rules Committee and every single one of Clinton's representatives supported this Rules Committee decision, which passed unanimously; Democratic parties in 48 states followed the rule, but Michigan and Florida chose not to. Subsequently, no Democratic candidate campaigned in either state and no Democratic candidate, except Hillary Clinton [who fudged the rules] was even on the ballot in Michigan. The Clinton campaign now contends that these wholly undemocratic elections -- even the Stalinist one-candidate election in Michigan -- must count or democracy itself will be imperiled.
Harold Ickes, one of Hillary's representatives on the Rules Committee who voted for the rule barring counting the Michigan and Florida votes, and Hillary's chief negotiator of this issue, was asked recently on one of the Sunday morning political talk shows, "You voted for the Rules Committee decision, but now you are complaining about it. What has changed?" Ickes replied, "What has changed is that now we are behind." So, there it is -- there is not an ounce of principle in the Clinton position. When they thought they were ahead in the presidential race, they supported the rule, but now that they are behind, they don't like it. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the rest of us could act like the Clintons and support rules when they favor us and ignore them when they don't?
Two days ago, Hillary hyperventilated on this topic, comparing enforcement of party rules -- rules she earlier had agreed to -- to the civil rights and suffragette movements, Zimbabwe and Florida 2000, as though enforcing a reasonable party rule was comparable to 300 years of slavery, the disenfranchisement of racial minorities and women from voting for hundreds of years, the unprecedented action of a conservative Supreme Court and the tyrannical actions of an African dictator. The Clintons are desperate; they need boundaries.
Ignoring ALL rules established for the Democratic primaries, which all Democratic candidates, except Hillary Clinton, followed, the Clintons now also contend that the elaborate system of caucuses and primary votes which have been used for this and prior presidential elections should be ignored in favor of reliance only on popular vote counts. In other words, 48 states have been actively engaged in following established rules, but now, at the end of the process, the Clintons propose to jettison the rules and substitute their own new interpretation. Not only is the threshold proposal absurd on its face, the Clintons don't even count the popular vote fairly: They include votes in the Michigan primary, where Hillary was the only candidate on the Democratic ballot and Obama got zero votes, and exclude hundreds of thousands of caucus votes in the caucus states. If ALL votes are counted, Obama wins by every metric, including popular vote, and he currently is 180+ votes ahead in the delegate count.
Meanwhile, the Obama campaign remains open to compromising this dispute so that delegates from Michigan and Florida can be seated at the convention, but, to date, the hard-line Clintons have refused all efforts at compromise.
We need to ask, "Who is the audience for this kind of nonsense?" There are only three possible answers:  Super-delegates;  Voters; and,  The Clintons.
If the Clintons think their bogus arguments are going to move super-delegates to their side, they clearly have miscalculated. In the past ten days, Obama has picked up 42 super-delegates; Hillary has picked up two. I have been calling super-delegates for the past two weeks, including some who previously leaned toward Clinton. Not a single one takes the Clinton disenfranchisement or popular vote arguments seriously. Every single one knows the rules were set by the DNC on a consensus basis, that they were necessary and that there would be chaos in the Democratic primaries if the DNC could not enforce rules such as this.
New York Governor, David Paterson, a Clinton super-delegate, was asked today if the Michigan and Florida votes should be included. He responded: "I would say at this point we are starting to see a little desperation on the part of the woman who I support ...There was a process. I thought at the time everybody agreed to it. I didn't hear any objections from the candidates ... So I think the Democratic National Committee would leave it where it is."
When asked about Clinton's claims about how to count the popular vote and her comparison of her plight to the civil rights movement, Paterson said, "You have to assume she won 100 percent to nothing in Michigan. I don't think anybody in their right mind would do that, nor would they see it as a civil rights issue."
If the audience is voters, the Clintons are reaching some of them, but for what purpose? If you read the blogs, you find some comments expressing distress at the prospect of Hillary losing, with some of them complaining about Florida and Michigan, as if including these states would make the critical difference. These are the Democratic voters threatening to sit out the general election or vote for McCain. Is that what Hillary and Bill are trying to accomplish -- to increase the number of disgruntled Democratic voters and make winning the general election harder? Whether this is their purpose, or not, clearly their behavior is having this effect.
Both Clintons graduated from a respected law school so I think it is safe to say they are smart enough to know their arguments about disenfranchisement of voters and their new preference for the "popular vote," as they selectively calculate it, have no weight. But they don't want to quit and the only way to justify staying in the obviously lost race is to build their resentment to the level of self-righteousness, and, like most confabulators, they have begun to believe their own propaganda.
Hillary and Bill are not acting like leaders, they are acting like self-absorbed adolescents, thinking that if they whine loudly enough people will accommodate them. This is not leadership, this is petulance. They will go down in this race, but not without their own sense of righteousness and value intact. This conveniently avoids the unpleasant prospect of actually taking responsibility for why they lost.Introspection does not come easy to the Clintons, but during the next four years, let's hope they try some.
Hillary's Hostage Crisis
Hillary's rhetoric of the past 24 hours has gone from conciliatory to cataclysmic, turning on a high-speed dime like some UFO over the Florida swamps. An awful lot of Democrats are shocked and outraged at her use of civil rights rhetoric over the primary dispute, especially after winning two primaries with the help of some white voters who admitted their choice was influenced by race.1
Some are suggesting a personality shift explains the change of tone, but she's cooler and smarter than that. It's more likely that this sudden transformation is premeditated, brought on by a simpler and more ruthless motive: She's demonstrating to Obama and the superdelegates what she's capable of doing if she's crossed.
Think about it: She's showing that she is willing to ignite a firestorm, amplify the misguided rage of her supporters, and split the party in two if her demands are not met. She no longer expects to get the nomination. She has another list of demands, which might include the vice presidency but definitely involve high-level appointments for herself and/or her supporters. She spent a couple of days showing how good she can be for the party. Now, the purpose of her recent comments has been to show how much damage she can do.
And she can do a lot. Many of her supporters remain convinced that not counting the Florida and Michigan votes (that is, honoring the pledge she and others signed) is some sort of disenfranchisement. She's made it clear she will push that argument until she has what she wants.
She's also making it clear she can keep the racial issue on the front-burner. What was most outrageous about her now-infamous WaPo interview wasn't her claim of media sexism, which undoubtedly exists. It wasn't even her claim that she's losing because of bias -- despite the fact that she was once the odds-on favorite and was a woman then, too. More outrageous was her claim that there has been no racism in this campaign -- this from a candidate whose last two victories came from white voters who, by 20% and 25% respectively, acknowledged that race played an important role in their choice.
What does that kind of talk accomplish? It inflames her supporters' mistaken belief that she's been unjustly robbed, while at the same time dismissing the idea that both nominees had hurdles to overcome. The ongoing rage of Hillary supporters is her best bargaining chip. It's the dynamite she can use to blow up the party.
And speaking of racial: Was it just coincidental that she invoked Zimbabwe, of all places, in describing the Florida election? And not just Zimbabwe, but the President of Zimbabwe: "the president lost, they refused to abide by the will of the people." Nice. The President of Zimbabwe is, of course, a scary and possibly corrupt black man. (No subliminal racial message there, of course; it's just one of the ongoing series of "accidental" inferences the Clintons keep innocently making.)
She knows these arguments won't sway the superdelegates to give her the nomination. What she's doing now is showing the Obama team and the Party's leaders that she has it in her power to cost them the election in November. Her surrogates are busy doing the same thing: "undermining the legitimacy of the Democratic nominee," as Scott Lemieux puts it.
It's a hostage crisis. She's showing that she'll destroy the party if necessary, even if it means destroying her own political future. She wasn't having a personality crisis when she switched from nice to mean yesterday: She was showing everybody the detonator in her hand. It was a Dog Day Afternoon moment, with Hillary as Al Pacino -- walking back and forth, smiling and nodding her head and saying "See what I can do? Still want to write me off?"
She didn't think Florida and Michigan were "rights" issues when she signed that pledge -- not until it was in her self-interest to do so. But a lot of her supporters either don't know that or don't care, and she knows it. She knows that a certain percentage of Democrats will chant along with her when she and her supporters start saying "Count the votes! Count the votes!"
What a moment that will be. Like "Attica State! Attica State!" but with a less sympathetic character leading the charge.
1Don't believe race is a factor in this campaign? Watch this video about Kentucky - then ponder why no American news outlet bothered to interview these voters.
Hillary Clinton Takes a page out of George Bush and Karl Rove's Playbook. Plans to "Swarm" DNC meeting on May 31 just like Republicans did in 2000.
Jason Linkins at HuffPo
So, if I have this right, here are the potential remaining battles in the 2008 Democratic Primary process: Primaries in South Dakota, Montana, and Puerto Rico. A meeting of the DNC Rules and By-Laws Committee to determine how the Democrats will continue to pretend to "punish" Florida and Michigan for moving their primary without actually enforcing any rules or handing down any penalties. Then, possibly, a superdelegate convention where uncommitted superdelegates will be forced at gunpoint to make a decision they could have plausibly made months ago. And finally, a full tilt bloodbath at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, which will prepare America for when John McCain is named King of America and Her United Anbar Provinces, propels us via time machine to the year 2013, and then explains how our Chinese overlords have forced us into a largely "Thunderdome-based" economy.
Speaking to the voters of the Sunshine State yesterday, Senator Hillary Clinton invoked the 2000 Recount Fiasco and spoke of the lessons learned. Now, for me, the lessons mainly are: "Do not allow the fate of our democracy to rest on David Boies' shoulders," but for Clinton, it's different:
"We believe the popular vote is the truest expression of your will...We believe it today just as we believed it back in 2000 when right here in Florida, you learned the hard way what happens when your votes aren't counted, and the candidate with fewer votes is declared the winner. The lesson of 2000 here in Florida is crystal clear. If any votes aren't counted, the will of the people isn't realized and our democracy is diminished. That's what I've always believed."
But that's not the only lesson she's learned from Florida:
The next Democratic donnybrook will be in a Washington ballroom.
Busloads of Hillary Clinton supporters will swarm a meeting next week at a D.C. Marriott, where Democratic Party elders hope to forge a compromise over Florida and Michigan's now-voided convention delegates.
"We really don't know what to expect, but we do know that the Clinton people are very organized," said a senior Democratic National Committee source.
Tactically, this takes a page right from the Karl Rove Recount 2000 playbook: send a mob of angry villagers to turn a relatively genteel process into a shrill folderol. Nevertheless, while the stage is set for roving gangs of superfluous supporters to disrupt the DNC proceedings, this will still be a model of decorum and tranquility compared to Clinton's other bizarre voter-rights reference, Zimbabwe. Though it should be noted that Zimbabwe's electoral strife would have been magnified one hundred-fold if it had featured Howard Wolfson conference calls.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
McCain's Pastor Problem: Hagee says "Hitler Was Fulfilling God's Will."
John Hagee, the controversial evangelical leader and endorser of Sen. John McCain, argued in a late 1990s sermon that the Nazis had operated on God's behalf to chase the Jews from Europe and shepherd them to Palestine. According to the Reverend, Adolph Hitler was a "hunter," sent by God, who was tasked with expediting God's will of having the Jews re-establish a state of Israel.
Going in and out of biblical verse, Hagee preached: "'And they the hunters should hunt them,' that will be the Jews. 'From every mountain and from every hill and from out of the holes of the rocks.' If that doesn't describe what Hitler did in the holocaust you can't see that."
He goes on: "Theodore Hertzel is the father of Zionism. He was a Jew who at the turn of the 19th century said, this land is our land, God wants us to live there. So he went to the Jews of Europe and said 'I want you to come and join me in the land of Israel.' So few went that Hertzel went into depression. Those who came founded Israel; those who did not went through the hell of the holocaust.
"Then god sent a hunter. A hunter is someone with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter. And the Bible says -- Jeremiah writing -- 'They shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and from the holes of the rocks,' meaning there's no place to hide. And that might be offensive to some people but don't let your heart be offended. I didn't write it, Jeremiah wrote it. It was the truth and it is the truth. How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because God said my top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel." (Listen to the audio below.)
The sermon, which was first posted by Bruce Wilson on his site, Talk To Action, adds another element to Hagee's controversial stance on the state and history of Israel. It also may provide a new round of political headaches for McCain who has admitted that seeking out Hagee's endorsement was a mistake, but still declared himself "glad to have" it.
John Hagee's Ministries did not immediately return request for comment.
Since McCain secured the endorsement, both his campaign and Hagee have been pressed to explain a series of derogatory remarks the Reverend made about the Catholic Church, including his reference to the institution as "the Great Whore."
Hagee has since apologized for those remarks. But his interpretation of the role of the Nazis could be harder to dismiss, in part because McCain and Sen. Barack Obama are expected to compete heavily over the Jewish vote come the general election, in part because McCain has said he's admired Hagee's commitment to Israel, but mainly because similar theories have found their way into much of the Reverend's writings.
As Wilson notes, in his 2006 book "Jerusalem Countdown", Hagee proposed the theory that "anti-Semitism, and thus the Holocaust, was the fault of Jews themselves -- the result of an age old divine curse incurred by the ancient Hebrews through worshiping idols and passed, down the ages, to all Jews now alive." He also wrote that "Most readers will be shocked by the clear record of history linking Adolf Hitler and the Roman Catholic Church in a conspiracy to exterminate the Jews."
Hagee is considered, in many political circles, to be one of the most passionate and strident supporters of Israel. He has spoken at AIPAC conferences and leads the evangelical group Christians United for Israel. But his views of the country, while possibly shared by others in the evangelical community, can be, at times, startling. Holding to the belief that Armageddon will come to earth following the reestablishment of the Kingdom of Israel, Hagee has advocated an aggressive war against Iran and has opposed any Israeli military withdrawal from the West Bank.
McCain, at least in the public record, has sought to thread the needle with the Hagee association: distancing himself from the controversial comment while reaping the political benefits of the Reverend's endorsement. Appearing on ABC's "'This Week" in late April 2008, McCain criticized Hagee's past remarks on the Catholic Church, but said that, "I admire and appreciate his advocacy for the state of Israel, the independence of the state of Israel."
Monday, May 19, 2008
by Joseph Gerth
Bruce Lunsford started running a television ad last week that, among other things, accused fellow Democrat Greg Fischer and his family of contributing "thousands of dollars to Republicans like George Bush and Mitch McConnell."
That part of the ad is factual — but it doesn't make it truthful.
Lunsford was trying to deflect attention away from the fact that he dropped out of the 2003 governor's race and then endorsed Republican Ernie Fletcher, by focusing on what he considers to be his opponent's foibles, minor as they are.
But he misses the mark.
Fischer has only given $850 to Republicans — the last contribution nearly a decade ago. And he didn't give any money to Bush or McConnell.
What the ad is referring to is Fischer's brother, Mark Fischer, who contributed $500 to Bush, and their father, George Fischer, who gave Bush $1,000 in 1999. And, Lynn Fischer, Greg Fischer's sister, gave McConnell $250 in 1996.
In all, four members of the Fischer family have contributed $5,050 to Republicans since 1995.
Contrast that with Lunsford's giving record and the claim in the ad looks even more outrageous.
Records provided by Lunsford's campaign show that he has given more than $57,000 to Republicans over the years — including $8,600 since he first ran for governor as a Democrat in 2003.
Lunsford gave nearly twice as much to Republican Anne Northup as he did to Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth in their 2006 race. Over the years, he's also contributed $2,000 to Bush, $2,700 to McConnell and $5,000 to the Bluegrass Committee, McConnell's political action committee.
Lunsford's campaign points out that he has given $131,000 to Democrats over the years.
But if you look closely, you'll see that he has only recently given large amounts to Democratic causes. In fact, according to Lunsford's own database, before starting his political career in 2003, Lunsford had actually contributed 25 percent more to Republicans than to Democrats.
Since July 2003, Lunsford has contributed nearly $92,000 to Democrats — not counting more than $16 million he has spent on his own races.
But what is especially troubling is that some voters are buying the mischaracterizations in Lunsford's ad. A cattle farmer from Anderson County told me Saturday that he was voting for Lunsford despite the fact that Lunsford had backed Fletcher in 2003.
Lunsford's support of Fletcher was troubling, he said, before adding, "But I heard the other guy gave thousands of dollars to Republicans, too.