Monday, March 31, 2008

"Poll: Obama would be tougher candidate against McCain"

A new poll finds a majority of Republicans and Democrats feel Sen. Barack Obama would be a tougher candidate against the presumptive Republican nominee John McCain in a potential fall match-up.

In a Gallup poll released Monday, 59 percent of Democratic voters believe Obama has the best chance at beating John McCain. Thirty percent said Clinton was more likely to win a matchup with the Arizona senator.

Republicans surveyed say Clinton would be the easiest to beat: 64 percent said Clinton would make a weaker fall opponent for McCain, while just 22 percent said Obama.

The survey of 1,005 adults conducted March 24-27 has a sampling error of 4 percent.

The discussion of which Democrat stands the strongest against John McCain has been an ongoing debate since the Republican race narrowed leaving the Arizona Senator as the Republican nominee in waiting.

A Gallup poll released last week suggested a majority of Democrats would cast a vote for John McCain this fall if the candidate they support does not win the Democratic nomination. This is particularly true of Clinton’s supporters, one third of whom said they will vote for McCain if Obama is the Democratic nominee.

"Obama caucus delegates face challenge"

David Postman (Seattle Times):
Aimee Curl has a story at The Seattle Weekly about people elected in the Democratic presidential caucuses Feb. 9 who weren’t properly registered to vote or were elected from the wrong precinct.
Jim Sharpe, a member of Kitsap County's credentials committee, estimates that more than 10 percent of the 2,300 delegates and alternates elected in his county fit into one of these categories, with the vast majority falling into the former. I’ve been hearing since days after the Feb. 9 caucus that supporters of Hillary Clinton were going to challenge Barack Obama delegates. But that’s always been denied by the Clinton campaign. Obama handily beat Clinton in the caucus. But even a shift of a few delegates could prove to be meaningful.

Clinton’s caucus organizer, Jim Kainber, wouldn’t tell Curl what the campaign was doing to vet delegates prior to the county and legislative caucuses.

He says it speaks to strategy.

I don’t know if it’s the Clinton campaign, but someone is challenging Obama delegates. I just looked at a list of 38 challenged delegates in Skagit County. Every one questions the validity of an Obama delegate. There are no challenges against Clinton delegates.

The spreadsheets show delegates challenged for one of three reasons; not registered to vote, caucusing in the wrong precinct, or the delegate name does not match the name on the voter registration roles.

This really appears to be less an issue of voter misconduct or sloppy record keeping then it is about an aggressive, post-caucus attempt by Clinton supporters to increase their numbers before the next round of caucuses.

I just talked to Dan O'Donnell about this. He’s the Skagit County Democrat’s credentials chairman.

The goal is transparent. They want to change the delegate ratio.

And what has he heard from Obama supporters wanting to challenge Clinton delegates?

Not a peep.

O’Donnell, 77, remains neutral in the presidential race. He said that was important for the credentials chairman, a job the veteran Democratic activist takes very seriously.

I’ve researched this so that we can run an unimpeachable credentials committee and avoid any possibility of a floor fight.

In doing that, O’Donnell has found little reason to think there will be any large number of delegates removed when Skagit County Democrats meet April 12th.

Sometimes, in an example he gave, a John W. Smith may have signed in as “Jack Smith.” A non-registered voter may be just 17 now, but will be 18 by Election Day and eligible to caucus.

And some people, particularly the elderly he said, may have gone to an old precinct location from prior to a recent realignment. If they can show that they attended at the location of their previous caucus, O’Donnell said they should be seated.

"TPMtv: Sunday Show Roundup: Should She Stay or Should She Go" (video)

Veracifier, video (06:49):
Your Daily Politics Video Blog: Calls for Hillary's exit and her fighting response was the big topic on the Sunday shows, with Obama supporters reeling back some of their more aggressive calls from earlier in the week. We bring you the highlights in today's Sunday Show Roundup.

"New Backing for Obama As Party Seeks Unity"

Wall Street Journal (page one):
Slowly but steadily, a string of Democratic Party figures is taking Barack Obama's side in the presidential nominating race and raising the pressure on Hillary Clinton to give up.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is expected to endorse Sen. Obama Monday, according to a Democrat familiar with her plans. Meanwhile, North Carolina's seven Democratic House members are poised to endorse Sen. Obama as a group -- just one has so far -- before that state's May 6 primary, several Democrats say.

Helping to drive the endorsements is a fear that the Obama-Clinton contest has grown toxic and threatens the Democratic Party's chances against Republican John McCain in the fall.


Sen. Clinton rejects that view. Over the weekend, she reiterated her intent to stay in the race beyond the last contest in early June -- and all the way to the party's convention in Denver, if necessary.

"There are some folks saying we ought to stop these elections," she said Saturday in Indiana, which also has a May 6 primary. "I didn't think we believed that in America. I thought we of all people knew how important it was to give everyone a chance to have their voices heard and their votes counted."

Sen. Obama told reporters, "My attitude is that Sen. Clinton can run as long as she wants."

In earlier eras, the standoff between the two candidates might have been resolved by party elders acting behind the scenes. But no Democrat today has the power to knock heads and resolve the mess. Party Chairman Howard Dean says he was "dumbfounded" at the suggestion by Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy Friday that Sen. Clinton should pull out.

"Having run for president myself, nobody tells you when to get in, and nobody tells you when to get out," Mr. Dean said. "That's about the most personal decision you can make after all the time and effort you put into it."

New York Sen. Clinton still hopes that by turning in strong performances in the final primaries, she can blunt the momentum of her rival from Illinois and make the case that she is best-positioned to take on Sen. McCain. With Mr. Dean, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former Vice President Al Gore and other party leaders remaining neutral, the question is whether the trend of party figures endorsing Sen. Obama will build enough momentum to tip the race.

The expected move by Minnesota's Sen. Klobuchar follows Friday's endorsement of Sen. Obama by Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, which holds its primary April 22.

Both senators had planned to remain neutral, according to party officials, but decided to weigh in as the Democrats' campaign became more negative and Sen. McCain was free to exploit the confusion looking to the November election.

One North Carolinian confirmed that at least several of the state's House members would go public in favor of Sen. Obama before long. Meanwhile, elected officials in other states with upcoming contests, including Indiana, Montana and Oregon, are weighing whether to endorse Sen. Obama.

What makes such endorsements significant is that they're from superdelegates. These delegates -- members of Congress, governors and other party officials -- can vote for whomever they want at the Democratic convention in August. Sen. Obama has a slight lead over Sen. Clinton in the pledged-delegate count -- the delegates won during primaries and caucuses -- but neither can amass enough pledged delegates for a majority. That makes the vote of the superdelegates decisive.

Since the "Super Tuesday" primaries on Feb. 5, Sen. Obama has won commitments from 64 superdelegates and Sen. Clinton has gotten nine. Sen. Obama has a total of 217 superdelegates in his camp while Sen. Clinton has 250, and her margin has been shrinking with each week. Sen. Clinton would have several more in her tally, but they're from Michigan, and delegates from Michigan and Florida won't be seated -- at least for now -- because both states defied party rules and held their primaries earlier than permitted.

"I think that says a lot about just where people are and what they're thinking," says former Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle, an Obama supporter. "And I think the numbers are just going to keep getting better" for Sen. Obama. Counting Sen. Klobuchar, Sen. Obama leads 13-11 among their Democratic colleagues in the Senate.Even raising the prospect of a convention fight could backfire for Sen. Clinton by antagonizing the superdelegates she needs. Many superdelegates are on the ballot themselves this year, and the last thing they want is a chaotic convention that plays into the hands of Republicans.

In interviews, some House Democrats said Sen. Obama has the edge in the chamber. They noted that he has proved himself the stronger fund-raiser and has attracted more new voters to the party than anyone in recent memory -- both advantages that could benefit other Democrats. They worry that Sen. Clinton's high negative ratings in polls would incite more Republicans to mobilize against her and the Democratic ticket.

Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, a former presidential candidate and a past party chairman, told National Journal Friday that Sen. Obama's nomination is "a foregone conclusion" and "enough is enough." Sen. Dodd has endorsed Sen. Obama.

Mr. Dean, the party chairman, is urging uncommitted superdelegates to take sides no later than July 1, and effectively name the nominee. "If we go into the convention divided, it's pretty likely we'll come out of the convention divided," he said.

Democrats across the board, he said, "are haranguing me to show leadership." But they're often partisans for one candidate or the other, he added. Meanwhile, he said he is conferring with other party leaders, including Mrs. Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada; former Vice President Al Gore; civil-rights veteran and Clinton confidante Vernon Jordan; former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo; and Jesse Jackson and his son, Chicago Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

"Most of their advice is, 'Let this play out, let's get through the primaries,' " Mr. Dean said. "And I think that's right....Voters have to have their say. It's painful, because that means we've got another two months of this."
Howie P.S.: It would be a little less painful if not for some of Hillaryland's "low rent" (as Ed Schultz calls them) tactics.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

"Obama Camp Declares Victory In Texas Conventions And Overall State Contest"

TPM Election Central:

The Obama campaign has released the following statement, declaring a big victory in the Texas caucuses and an overall win for the Texas Two-Step:

Caucuses Guarantee Obama Win In Texas

AUSTIN - With more than 56% of the results tallied from today's 284 Democratic district conventions across Texas, Senator Barack Obama currently is projected to earn a 38-29 pledged delegate win in the Texas caucuses, exactly as projected on the day after the March 4th precinct caucuses. The nine delegate margin in the caucuses means Obama will gain a net margin of five pledged delegates from Texas because Senator Clinton narrowly won the Texas primary by only four delegates, 65-61.

"Despite the Clinton campaign's widespread attempts to prevent many Texans from participating in their district convention, the voters of Texas confirmed Senator Obama's important delegate win in the Lone Star State," said Obama spokesman Josh Earnest. "Today's record-shattering turnout sends a clear message that the American people are ready for change in Washington and new leadership in the White House that will stand up for working families."

The Obama campaign will release a more detailed tally of the results tomorrow.

"Obama: Let the Contest Continue Into June"

The Trail (WaPo's campaign 08' blog):
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Many of his supporters may be growing impatient, but Sen. Barack Obama said today that he wouldn't nudge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton out of the race.
"My attitude is that Senator Clinton can run as long as she wants," Obama told reporters in Johnstown, Pa. "Her name's on the ballot, and she is a fierce and formidable competitor, and she obviously believes that she would make the best nominee and the best president."

He added, "I think that, you know, she should be able to compete and her supporters should be able to support her, for as long as they are willing or able." And that could be into early June, through all 10 remaining primaries, Obama said. "We will have had contests in all 50 states plus several territories. We will have tallied up the pledged delegate vote, we will have tallied up the popular vote, we will have tallied up how many states were won by who, and then at that point I think people should have more than enough information to make a decision. "

He downplayed the notion that an extended contest could bruise the eventual winner, to Republican Sen. John McCain's advantage. "I think that the notion that the party's been divided by this contest is somewhat overstated," Obama said. "There's no doubt that, among some of my supporters or some of her supporters, there's probably been some irritation created. But I also think, every contest you've seen, in every state -- huge jumps in Democratic registration, including independents and Republicans who are changing registration to vote in the Democratic primaries. You know, those are people who are now invested in what happens. And I think that bodes very well for us in November."

Obama was on the second day of a six-day bus trip through Pennsylvania, the largest state remaining on the calendar, and one that polls show favors Clinton. He downplayed expectations for the April 22 contest, despite his spending more than $1.5 million on ads in the state. "We want to do as well as we can in Pennsylvania. We may not be able to win, but I think we have a good chance and we're going to work as hard as we can," he said.

Sen. Bob Casey, who endorsed Obama on Friday, spent a second day on the campaign trail, joining Obama for a series of public events, plus basketball and bowling. "The more time on the ground in Pennsylvania , the better he will do," the freshman Democrat predicted. "But look at the other side, they've been campaigning in this state for 15 years, think about it. So it's a tall order. But we're making progress."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

"The Hillary D****watch"


Friday was not kind to Hillary Clinton. Based on Deathwatch's top-secret morbidity formula, Hillary tanked on four metrics today, reducing her chances of winning the nomination by 1.7 points to 10.3 percent.

The nastiest news for Clinton is in the polls. She has drifted eight points behind Obama in a national Gallup survey—the first time that she has trailed Obama by a statistically significant margin since the Rev. Wright imbroglio. Every point she loses in the national polls pushes her a bit closer to Davy Jones' locker.

In Pennsylvania, she suffered a setback in her efforts to win endorsements and superdelegates when Sen. Bob Casey endorsed Obama even though he said he was staying neutral in the race. Casey comes from a long political lineage that is well-known in the eastern part of the state and among Catholic Pennsylvanians. Rubbing salt in the wound, Obama said he didn't even court Casey's support—he entered the House of Obama on his own volition.

"Rangel “Underestimated” Obama's Strength"

Black Star News (editorial):
Congressman Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) has proven that one can’t be too rigid in politics.

He has written a letter to The Black Star News conceding that he had underestimated Senator Barack Obama.
Rep. Rangel was responding to an editorial “Shame On Charlie Rangel” published Feb. 28, 2008 in The Black Star News and on our website. In his letter also dated Feb. 28 on his House Of Representatives letterhead, he writes: “Having read your most recent editorial ….I must admit that my statement that supporters of Senator Barak (sic) Obama were motivated solely by black pride grossly underestimated the talent and strength of his candidacy.”

The Black Star editorial had criticized Rangel and other Black leaders such as former mayor David Dinkins and Rev. Calvin Butts pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist church, all of whom at the beginning of the campaign had stressed that Obama’s support in the African American community was based on “Black pride.”

The Black Star editorial in part had read: “While announcing his support for Hillary Clinton’s presidential run over Barack Obama, Congressman Charles Rangel who represents Harlem said Obama had no chance. Rangel professed admiration for Obama yet claimed the people who enthusiastically backed him were motivated by “Black pride.” Now that Obama has won millions of votes and more states and more delegates than Clinton, we wonder whether Rangel has reassessed his outlook.

Perhaps the millions of white voters that have preferred Obama over Clinton are also motivated by ‘Black pride?’ So much so that Senator Obama even got more white votes than senator Clinton did in Virginia--the first time he beat her in the white vote count in a Southern State. Might these millions of voters –Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians—not be responding to senator Obama’s message of change, hope, empowerment and unity that resonates with all races, ethnicities, gender and religions?”

The editorial had also stated: “Dinkins and Rangel even travelled to South Carolina to campaign for Clinton. This, even after the Clinton campaign’s attack dogs had employed race baiting tactics, casting Obama as a drug dealer. Her husband Bill Clinton had also referred to Obama’s campaign and opposition to the Iraq war as a ‘fairy tale.’”

The Black Star News editorial also noted: “’Race pride,’ might have been a factor in Obama’s drive to succeed throughout his life. But race pride didn’t get him into Columbia; race pride didn’t take the exams that propelled him to Harvard Law School; race pride didn’t get him elected President of the Harvard Law Review; race pride didn’t get him elected to the Illinois senate, and then to the United States Senate; and, race pride, hasn’t brought him to the doorsteps of a possible singular achievement---on the verge of becoming the Democratic Party’s nominee for U.S. president.”

The editorial added: “We can understand how the Clintons may have succumbed to the worse type of human instincts in their desperate quest for the White House; it’s much sadder when so-called Black leaders are recruited to join in such ugly misadventure….

Rangel, Butts and Dinkins have the right to support any candidate whom they want. No one is obligated to emulate pioneers such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Congressman Adam Clayton Powell or Shirley Chisholm. But it’s wrong for them to belittle another trailblazer as being propelled by “Black pride.” It only sullies their reputation. When Rangel set out to become a congressman, and when Dinkins set out to become New York’s first Black mayor, and when Butts stepped to the pulpit at the great Abyssinian, each one of them, we are sure, hoped they offered more than their pigmentation to supporters.”

The editorial had concluded: “At the very least, Rangel, Butts and Dinkins owe senator Obama an apology.”

Rangel, in his response letter notes that, “It was a very well written editorial.”

We thank Rep. Rangel and encourage him to do the right thing. Switch endorsement to the candidate that can unite the Democratic Party and the nation----Senator Barack Obama.
Howie P.S.: Charlie has a knack for understatement.

"The Fear Factor"

Mike Lux (Open Left):
No, I'm not talking about the daily Bush/McCain festival of fear about the scary terrorists. And, no, I'm not talking about the 3 AM phone call ad, either.
I'm talking about how many people I know, many superdelegates among them, who are scared to publicly support Obama because of the Clintons' well-known penchant for vengeance.

There are plenty of people in the Democratic Party who think Hillary Clinton would make a better President, and/or a better general election candidate, than Barack Obama. There are also some folks who endorsed Hillary early on, and believe you have to stick with the candidate you endorse until the bitter end. There are even a few, although the number is shrinking daily, who still have not genuinely made up their mind. And some superdelegates in the remaining states want to wait for the voters in their own state to vote before they declare. But there are very few people I talk to who think Hillary can win without an utterly divisive fight that will likely tear the party apart. They know that from the perspective of what's best for the party, it's time to endorse Obama.

What those remaining undeclared folks are telling me in private, though, is that they hope the race will play itself out and Obama will emerge as the clear winner so that they don't have to piss the Clintons and their machine off. They don't want the Clintons and McAuliffe and those donors who signed the letter to stop raising money for them. They don't want Carville and Wolfson to call them a traitor. They don't want all the behind-the-scenes trashing that they know will come.

I am encouraging my friends to come out of their political closet. If all the superdelegates and other influential friends that I have talked to who believe that the best path for the party is for Obama to win a clear victory would come out in is favor, this thing really would be over.

I hope this doesn't start another big flame war- I almost didn't write it because I am so tired of people attacking each other over this primary race. But I thought it was important for people to know what I'm hearing from people.
Howie P.S.: This doesn't explain Murtha, and I still would like to know what's going on there. I don't think it's because he likes long movies.

H/t to Booman.

Friday, March 28, 2008

"Still in It To Win It" (with audio)

Hillary Clinton is often compared with the conniving Lady Macbeth (by her enemies) or with the fierce and nurturing Roman goddess Juno (by her supporters). But these days she feels most like Cassandra, desperate to make the case for why she is staying in the race for the Democratic nomination.
Clinton is well aware of the long odds she faces in the battle against Barack Obama for delegates. She knows that as the Democratic National Convention gets closer, the increasingly bitter back and forth between the two campaigns hurts Obama's chances of winning a general election and reinforces the image of the Clintons as a power-hungry couple who will do anything to win, even if they damage the Democratic Party.

But for the Clintons, quitting isn't an option. "My family is not big on quitting," Bill Clinton said in West Virginia on March 26. When Clinton closes her eyes, she sees John McCain triumphing in November against Obama in a contest she believes she would win. Like all competitive candidates, Clinton is certain she would be a better leader than her rivals, and she feels an obligation to her supporters to fight on. "The people who are supporting me sure don't want to see it over," she told TIME while campaigning in Pennsylvania on March 25. "They tell me all the time that they want me to keep going. They want me to keep fighting."

That Clinton partisans want her to remain in the race is undoubtedly true. It is also largely irrelevant. Which is why Clinton is coming under pressure to explain her decision to continue through the summer, despite the nearly insurmountable lead Obama holds among elected delegates. "In order for your staying in to be regarded as anything more than the behavior of a sore loser," says a prominent unaligned Democrat, "you have to make the argument for how you'd be a winner. No one can articulate that argument."

Indeed, the scenario for a Clinton comeback remains remote. Even if she decisively wins Pennsylvania's April 22 primary and rides that momentum to upset Obama in both Indiana and North Carolina on May 6, she would probably still trail him in the delegate count. The news that neither Michigan nor Florida will hold do-over contests was another blow to the Clinton effort.

But not only does Clinton intend to stay in, she and her advisers are crafting a strategy that they think can swing the nomination her way. It essentially comes down to convincing superdelegates that they can't afford to take a chance on Obama, that she is the only candidate who can win the White House against McCain. It's a breathtaking gambit. And it could work. But it has some Democrats asking, At what cost?

The question of who emerges from the primary season as the party nominee is not usually a subjective one. There is a process, however convoluted, through which candidates amass delegates; after the last state has voted and the numbers have been tallied, the one with the most delegates wins. This year is different. The two massively popular candidates have both earned large numbers of delegates, resulting in a situation in which neither can realistically obtain the required number of elected delegates that will put the candidate over the top.

Given this unusual turn of events, the Clinton campaign has seized the chance to promote an argument ground not in numbers but in sentiment: it is asking superdelegates to make a subjective decision about which candidate is best positioned to win the White House in November. The first exhibit of its case is demographic. "I've obviously done very well with women, who are a majority of the electorate," Clinton explained to TIME. "I've done very well with Hispanics. I've done well with older voters. We have to anchor our electoral map in the states that [Democrats] must win, and I think I'm in a good position to do that."

There's a flip side to this as well--the argument that Obama is dangerously weak among key Democratic and swing constituencies. The Clinton campaign has been raising questions about Obama's ability to win white blue-collar voters in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania and Hispanics in places like New Mexico and Colorado--all swing states that will most likely decide the election.

Then there's her old standby case based on experience. Clinton believes Obama's support is largely a mirage--a bunch of true believers whose passion might help him cinch the nomination, but that may prove an insufficient bedrock for winning a general election when the spell might be broken by tough questions about national-security credentials, economic-policy plans and rich experience. She can't stop from shaking her head in disbelief when longtime friends who are elected officials inform her that they are going to endorse Obama and were chiefly convinced by their children's enthusiasm for his candidacy.

But this argument has taken a hit in recent weeks as Clinton has found herself on the defensive about her experience as First Lady. On a variety of domestic and international issues, information has emerged that calls into question the extent of Clinton's policy involvement in the 1990s. And she was recently embarrassed by revelations that a 1996 trip to Bosnia was far less dangerous and dramatic than in her campaign-stump retelling.

That leaves the strategy Clinton is turning to more frequently--trying to define Obama on her terms. According to those close to her, she is hoping that as spring becomes summer, the potential for finding another skeleton or two in Obama's closet will prove him ultimately unelectable in the fall. In some cases, her campaign is even trumpeting attacks on Obama's circle from unlikely corners, like the American Spectator--a right-wing magazine that spent much of the 1990s targeting Bill Clinton. (Obama's campaign has also stepped up its personal attacks on Hillary Clinton, escalating the conflict.)

It's these kinds of tactics that most worry Democrats, even those who haven't taken sides. "The problem with staying in," says one, "and with the idea that something mysteriously is gonna appear to disqualify Obama is that the only way it's going to mysteriously appear is if the Clintons are behind it. So the thing that convinces people Barack Obama can't win has to come from the hand of either Bill or Hillary Clinton."

That prospect doesn't appear to daunt the Senator from New York. Said a confidant who has talked to her regularly throughout the campaign: "This woman never quits. Neither she nor her husband." So don't expect this race to end anytime soon.

TIME Audio Listen to Mark Halperin's interview with Hillary Clinton at

Selling John McCain: "McCain"
"Musings and pop culture on the political trail."
Howie P.S.: The Huffington Post breaks down this venture that aims to "soften" McCain and reach out to the young and the female (and fans of the young and female), with his daughter "Megs" McCain as the messenger.

"Video: Barack Obama on The View, March 28, 2008"

pe11201, video (11:00):
March 28,2008 Sen. Barack Obama.

"The Obama Doctrine"

Spencer Ackerman-The American Prospect:
Barack Obama is offering the most sweeping liberal foreign-policy critique we've heard from a serious presidential contender in decades. But will voters buy it?--When Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama met in California for the Jan. 31 debate, their back-and-forth resembled their many previous encounters, with the Democratic presidential hopefuls scrambling for the small policy yardage between them. And then Obama said something about the Iraq War that wasn't incremental at all. "I don't want to just end the war," he said, "but I want to end the mind-set that got us into war in the first place."
Until this point in the primaries, Clinton and Obama had sounded very similar on this issue. Despite their differences in the past (Obama opposed the war, while Clinton voted for it), both were calling for major troop withdrawals, with some residual force left behind to hedge against catastrophe. But Obama's concise declaration of intent at the debate upended this assumption. Clinton stumbled to find a counterargument, eventually saying her vote in October 2002 "was not authority for a pre-emptive war." Then she questioned Obama's ability to lead, saying that the Democratic nominee must have "the necessary credentials and gravitas for commander in chief."

If Clinton's response on Iraq sounds familiar, that's because it's structurally identical to the defensive crouch John Kerry assumed in 2004: Voting against the war wasn't a mistake; the mistakes were all George W. Bush's, and bringing the war to a responsible conclusion requires a wise man or woman with military credibility. In that debate, Obama offered an alternative path. Ending the war is only the first step. After we're out of Iraq, a corrosive mind-set will still be infecting the foreign-policy establishment and the body politic. That rot must be eliminated.

Obama is offering the most sweeping liberal foreign-policy critique we've heard from a serious presidential contender in decades. It cuts to the heart of traditional Democratic timidity. "It's time to reject the counsel that says the American people would rather have someone who is strong and wrong than someone who is weak and right," Obama said in a January speech. "It's time to say that we are the party that is going to be strong and right." (The Democrat who counseled that Americans wanted someone strong and wrong, not weak and right? That was Bill Clinton in 2002.)

But to understand what Obama is proposing, it's important to ask: What, exactly, is the mind-set that led to the war? What will it mean to end it? And what will take its place?

To answer these questions, I spoke at length with Obama's foreign-policy brain trust, the advisers who will craft and implement a new global strategy if he wins the nomination and the general election. They envision a doctrine that first ends the politics of fear and then moves beyond a hollow, sloganeering "democracy promotion" agenda in favor of "dignity promotion," to fix the conditions of misery that breed anti-Americanism and prevent liberty, justice, and prosperity from taking root. An inextricable part of that doctrine is a relentless and thorough destruction of al-Qaeda. Is this hawkish? Is this dovish? It's both and neither -- an overhaul not just of our foreign policy but of how we think about foreign policy. And it might just be the future of American global leadership.


When considering any presidential hopeful's foreign-policy promises, it's important to remember that what candidates say is, at best, an imperfect guide to their actions in office. What proves to be a more reliable indicator of presidential behavior is a candidate's roster of advisers. (If the press had paid better attention, the country would have seen through Bush's pitch about a humble foreign policy and realized that many of his advisers, including Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, were conspiracy-minded warmongers.) Obama's foreign-policy advisers come from diverse backgrounds. They are former aides to Democratic mandarins like Tom Daschle and Lee Hamilton (Denis McDonough and Ben Rhodes, respectively); veterans of the Clinton administration's left flank (Tony Lake and Susan Rice); a human-rights advocate who helped write the Army's and Marine Corps' much-lauded counterinsurgency field manual (Sarah Sewall); a retired general who helped run the air war during the invasion of Iraq (Scott Gration); and a former journalist who revolutionized the study of U.S. foreign policy (Samantha Power). Yet they form a committed, intellectually coherent, and surprisingly united foreign-affairs team. (Shortly before this piece went to press, Power resigned from the campaign after making an intemperate remark to a reporter.)

They also share a formative experience with each other and with Obama. Each opposed the Iraq War at a time when doing so was derided by their colleagues, by journalists, and by the foreign-policy establishment. Each did so because they understood that the invasion and occupation ran counter to the goal of destroying al-Qaeda. And each bore the frustration of endless lectures on their lack of so-called seriousness from those who suffered from strategic myopia.

"There is a popular notion that Democrats have to try to appear like Republicans to pass some test on national security. The fact that that's still the case after Iraq is absurd," says one of Obama's closest advisers. "So you break from that orthodoxy and say 'I don't care if the Republicans attack me because I'm willing to meet with the leadership in Iran. We haven't for 25 years, and it's not gotten us anywhere.'"

Most of the members of Obama's foreign-policy team expressed frustration that they had taken a well-considered and seemingly anodyne position on Iraq and suffered for it. Obama had something similar happen to him in the spring and summer of 2007. He was attacked from the left and the right for saying three things that should not have been controversial: that if he had actionable intelligence on the whereabouts of al-Qaeda's leadership in Pakistan but no cooperation from the Pakistani government, he would take out the jihadists; that he wouldn't use nuclear weapons on terrorist training camps; and that he would be willing to meet with leaders of rogue states in his first year as president. "No one [of Obama's critics] had thought through the policy because that was the quote-unquote naïve and weak position, so they said it was a bad position to take," recalls Ben Rhodes, the adviser who writes Obama's foreign-policy speeches. "And it was a seminal moment, because Obama himself said, 'No, I'm right about this!'"

Instead of backing down, Obama asked his foreign-policy team to double down. Rhodes wrote a speech that Obama delivered at DePaul University on Oct. 2, which criticized the boundaries of acceptable discourse set by the same establishment that backed the war. "This election is about ending the Iraq War, but even more it's about moving beyond it. And we're not going to be safe in a world of unconventional threats with the same old conventional thinking that got us into Iraq," Obama said. One of his advisers, recalling the fallout from Obama's comments about pursuing al-Qaeda in Pakistan, says, "He takes policy positions that are a break from both rigid orthodoxy and the Bush administration. And everyone says it's a gaffe! That just encapsulates everything that's wrong about the foreign-policy debate in Washington and in Democratic politics."

The Obama foreign-policy team describes it as "the politics of fear," a phrase most advisers used unprompted in our conversations. "For a long time we've not seen much creative thinking from Dems on national security, because, out of fear, we want to be a little different from the Republicans but not too different, out of fear of being labeled weak or indecisive," another top adviser says. Identifying that fear as the accelerant of the Iraq War mind-set is the first step to a new and innovative foreign policy. John Kerry was not able to argue for fundamental change in foreign policy because he was consumed by that very political fear. Obama's admonition to Democrats is much like Pope John Paul II's to the Gdansk shipyard strikers -- first, be not afraid.


Like Obama, his defense advisers have supplemented their American views with the perspectives of outsiders. Gen. Scott Gration, a retired Air Force jet pilot, says hello to me over the phone in Swahili. He learned about the crushing misery of the world's poor by growing up in Congo, where his parents were missionaries. After the violence following Congolese independence in 1960, Gration had an experience few Americans ever will: He became a refugee. "We lost everything we owned, and what we took with us, they confiscated," he remembers.

Sarah Sewall, a Harvard professor and another of Obama's closest advisers, also knows about stepping outside of her comfort zone. A longtime human-rights advocate with the disarmament organization, the Council for a Livable World, Sewall found herself in 2005 and 2006 with an unlikely partner: Gen. David Petraeus. He and two colleagues were rewriting the Army and Marine field manual for counterinsurgency and wanted Sewall's input on how to create a more just, humane, and successful doctrine. For agreeing to help, she was attacked by some on the left. "Should a human-rights center at the nation's most prestigious university be collaborating with the top U.S. general in Iraq in designing the counterinsurgency doctrine behind the current military surge?" Tom Hayden wrote online in The Huffington Post.

Sewall's involvement may have lost her some influence within the academic left, but she has become a hero to the military's growing circle of counterinsurgency theorist-practitioners. "Her impact on the thinking about the war and the conduct of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been significant and not without cost," says Army Lt. Col. John Nagl, one of the counterinsurgency community's luminaries. "She has shown, in my eyes, great moral courage. I think Senator Obama is listening to someone who has thought long and hard about the use of force and who understands the kinds of wars we're fighting today."

This ability to see the world from different perspectives informs what the Obama team hopes will replace the Iraq War mind-set: something they call dignity promotion. "I don't think anyone in the foreign-policy community has as much an appreciation of the value of dignity as Obama does," says Samantha Power, a former key aide and author of the groundbreaking study of U.S. foreign policy and genocide, A Problem From Hell. "Dignity is a way to unite a lot of different strands [of foreign-policy thinking]," she says. "If you start with that, it explains why it's not enough to spend $3 billion on refugee camps in Darfur, because the way those people are living is not the way they want to live. It's not a human way to live. It's graceless -- an affront to your sense of dignity."

During Bush's second term, a strange disconnect has arisen in liberal foreign-policy circles in response to the president's so-called "freedom agenda." Some liberals, like Matthew Yglesias in his book Heads In The Sand, note the insincerity of the administration's stated goal of exporting democracy. Bush, they observe, only targets for democratization countries that challenge American hegemony. Other liberal foreign-policy types, such as Thomas Carothers and Marina Ottaway of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, insist the administration is sincere but too focused on elections without supporting the civil-society institutions that sustain democracy. Still others, like Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch, contend that a focus on democracy in the developing world without privileging the protection of civil and political rights is a recipe for a dangerous illiberalism.

What's typically neglected in these arguments is the simple insight that democracy does not fill stomachs, alleviate malaria, or protect neighborhoods from marauding bands of militiamen. Democracy, in other words, is valuable to people insofar as it allows them first to meet their basic needs. It is much harder to provide that sense of dignity than to hold an election in Baghdad or Gaza and declare oneself shocked when illiberal forces triumph. "Look at why the baddies win these elections," Power says. "It's because [populations are] living in climates of fear." U.S. policy, she continues, should be "about meeting people where they're at. Their fears of going hungry, or of the thug on the street. That's the swamp that needs draining. If we're to compete with extremism, we have to be able to provide these things that we're not [providing]."

This is why, Obama's advisers argue, national security depends in large part on dignity promotion. Without it, the U.S. will never be able to destroy al-Qaeda. Extremists will forever be able to demagogue conditions of misery, making continued U.S. involvement in asymmetric warfare an increasingly counterproductive exercise -- because killing one terrorist creates five more in his place. "It's about attacking pools of potential terrorism around the globe," Gration says. "Look at Africa, with 900 million people, half of whom are under 18. I'm concerned that unless you start creating jobs and livelihoods we will have real big problems on our hands in ten to fifteen years."

Obama sees this as more than a global charity program; it is the anvil against which he can bring down the hammer on al-Qaeda. "He took many of the [counterinsurgency] principles -- the paradoxes, like how sometimes you're less secure the more force is used -- and looked at it from a more strategic perspective," Sewall says. "His policies deal with root causes but do not misconstrue root causes as a simple fix. He recognizes that you need to pursue a parallel anti-terrorism [course] in its traditional form along with this transformed approach to foreign policy." Not for nothing has Obama received private advice or public support from experts like former Clinton and Bush counterterrorism advisers Richard Clarke and Rand Beers, and John Brennan, the first chief of the National Counterterrorism Center.

The Obama foreign-affairs brain trust balks at the suggestion that what it's proposing is radical. "He said we'd take out al-Qaeda's senior leadership in the Pakistani tribal areas if Pakistan will not. That's not, to me, a revolutionary policy," Rhodes says. "Watching him get attacked on the right is absurd. You've got guys who argued for a massive invasion and occupation of a country that had nothing to do with 9-11 criticizing him for advocating the use of highly targeted force to kill Osama bin Laden!"

Rhodes is referring, of course, to John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who recently asked of Obama, "Will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested invading our ally, Pakistan?" It's no secret that McCain, a war hero who is to the right of Bush when it comes to Iraq, hopes to make this a foreign-policy election. Conventional wisdom holds this would give him an advantage over Obama. A Feb. 28 Pew Research Center poll found 43 percent of respondents believe Obama is "not tough enough" on foreign policy. Thirty-nine percent believe Obama's foreign policy is "just right," while 47 percent say the same of McCain.

Even so, Obama's foreign-policy advisers are thrilled at the prospect of facing McCain. Had the GOP nomination gone to Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee, politicians who don't particularly care about foreign policy, an Obama victory would not provide a mandate for the sweeping foreign-affairs overhaul his campaign proposes. November's election could be, for the first time in a very long time, a choice between two radically different visions of U.S. global engagement. "We want to have this debate with John McCain," a close Obama adviser says. "[Obama] will offer this clear contrast."

Susan Rice, an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration and one of the few foreign-policy-establishment luminaries to sign on with Obama, explains what's at stake: "After eight years of George Bush, when the next president puts his or her hand on the Bible to be sworn in, the U.S. is going to get one brief second look [from the world] about whether the U.S. truly learned to change from its past mistakes, recent and historic, and whether we're again the kind of America people look to lead in a constructive fashion, or whether we're hopeless. In my opinion, they'll look at McCain and decide we're trapped in our old mistakes."

Of course, it remains to be seen how voters might look at an Obama-McCain race. "The important distinction will be, does Obama come across as saying he wants to make a break with the foreign policy of the last seven years, or does it sound like he'll take foreign policy in a fundamentally different direction than that of the last twenty, thirty, fifty years?" says Guy Molyneux, a Democratic pollster with Peter D. Hart Associates. Americans are eager to put the Bush doctrine behind them, Molyneux says, but there's a danger that voters will see Obama as a "young guy who's less experienced but sounds like he's taking off in a new direction."


In his focus on the importance of dignity in our policy toward the developing world, Obama sounds quite a bit like John F. Kennedy, who knitted together an argument for engagement with the "non-aligned" world and began the tradition of development assistance as a foreign-policy goal. However, Kennedy's basic foreign policy continued along the Cold War lines that had been laid down during the Truman administration.

Democratic presidential candidates since Kennedy have either downplayed foreign policy or simply argued for more competence in its execution, with two major exceptions: George McGovern in 1972 and Jimmy Carter in 1976. In the popular imagination, based on the "Come home, America" line from his nomination acceptance speech, McGovern pivoted from a striking critique of the immorality of the Vietnam War to an indictment of U.S. involvement abroad. But McGovern purposefully left this broad criticism out of most of his campaign. "I concentrated on Vietnam," McGovern says in a phone interview, "because I thought it would be difficult to sell a comprehensive rewriting of American foreign policy." Carter is a more ambiguous case. In the wake of Watergate, he made a full-spectrum argument against the Washington establishment. Rethinking foreign policy was a part of that, and his aide Hamilton Jordan remarked, "If, after the inauguration, you find Cy Vance as secretary of state and Zbigniew Brzezinski as head of national security, then I would say we failed." Both men, of course, received precisely those posts.

Obama is doing something braver with foreign policy than McGovern or Carter. Much, of course, could go wrong. Right-wing demagogues are already implying Obama is a Muslim terrorist. Conservatives are using Obama's argument about the inextricability of international prosperity and U.S. national security to portray him as a "post-American globalist." Jewish right-wingers in the U.S. have begun a smear campaign not just about Obama, but also about Power, as writers for Commentary and National Review have baselessly implied that she is an anti-Semite. Expect more of this for the duration of the primary season, and, if Obama wins, beyond.

If he wins in the general election, he will face a crush of foreign-policy problems so enormous that they risk overwhelming even the most competent, experienced national-security team. Iraq is, of course, a nightmare, and al-Qaeda is not just sitting still in its Pakistani safe haven. To propose rebooting U.S. foreign policy now is, to say the least, ambitious. Many military leaders consider Obama an unknown quantity. At a recent talk, Washington Post correspondent Thomas Ricks said that officers and soldiers serving in Iraq thought that McCain and Clinton would both pursue a foreign-policy commensurate with Bush's, but Obama left them puzzled. Once in office, Obama might feel compelled to turn his back on the critique he makes on the trail.

But while the doubts about Obama contain fair points, they also, to a certain degree, reflect a triumph of the Iraq War mind-set. Why not demand the destruction of al-Qaeda? Why not pursue the enlightened global leadership promised by liberal internationalism? Why not abandon fear? What is it we have to fear, exactly?

"He goes back to Roosevelt," Power says. "Freedom from fear and freedom from want. What if we actually offered that? What if we delivered that in the developing world? That would be a transformative agenda for us." The end of the Iraq War mind-set, it turns out, may be the beginning of America's reacquaintance with its best traditions.

Barack Obama Documentary at The Triple Door

the triple door

Join us for a Documentary Movie on Senator Barack Obama!

Dinner And A Movie!

Barack Obama Documentary Movie - 70 minutes
Monday April 14
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Welcome back to our movie night! This night, Prost Amerika presents "Senator Obama Goes To Africa" b A timely piece on democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. In the film, Obama returns to his family's roots on an emotional journey to Africa in this documentary by Bob Hercules and Keith Walker.

Obama explores the vast continent that is gaining increasing importance in this age of globalization. This is a fascinating and unique insight into the man who may be our next President where we get to see the man away from the artificiality of the presidential campaign trail.

For more information, visit

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Remember to arrive early to enjoy the full menu, extensive bar and award-winning wine selection.

For advance tickets please call 206.838.4333 or purchase on-line


David Sirota:
It is polite pinstriped prejudice shrouding bigotry in feigned outrage against extremism—the operative word being feigned. After all, John McCain solicited the endorsement of John Hagee, the pastor who called the Catholic Church “the Great Whore.” Similarly, according to Mother Jones magazine, Hillary Clinton belongs to the “Fellowship,” a secretive group “dedicated to ‘spiritual war’ on behalf of Christ.” She is also friendly with Billy Graham, the minister caught on tape spewing anti-Semitism. But while Wright’s supposed “extremism” blankets the news, McCain and Clinton’s relationships with real extremists receive scant attention.

"Dean: Superdelegates Should Pick By July 1" (with video)

CBS News and AP with :video (02:29)from The Early Show
Democratic Party chief Howard Dean said in an interview with CBS News' The Early Show that he wants all Democratic superdelegates to make their choice before July 1 to avoid a contested convention.
Superdelegates are the nearly 800 party and elected officials who can support whomever they choose at the Democratic National Convention, regardless of what happens in the primaries.

"There's 800 of them and 450 of them have already said who they're for," Dean told co-anchor Harry Smith. "I'd like the other 350 to say who they're on between now and the 1st of July so we don't have to take this into convention." (Watch the video of Dean's interview.)

Dean also tried to tone down the ill will that is growing among supporters of Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"I think the candidates have got to understand that they have an obligation to our country to unify," he said. "Somebody's going to lose this race with 49.8% of the vote. And that person has got to pull their supporters in behind the nominee."

Dean also talked with The Associated Press, saying the charges and countercharges between Clinton and Obama have gotten too personal at times. He declined to say how they have crossed the line, but he said he's made it clear privately when it has happened.

"You do not want to demoralize the base of the Democratic Party by having the Democrats attack each other," he said Thursday during the interview in his office at Democratic National Committee headquarters. "Let the media and the Republicans and the talking heads on cable television attack and carry on, fulminate at the mouth. The supporters should keep their mouths shut about this stuff on both sides because that is harmful to the potential victory of a Democrat."

"Because in the end this is not about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, it's about our country," Dean said on the The Early Show. "I want to make sure this campaign stays on the high ground."

"There is no point in waiting," he said. The Democratic political organization "is as good or better as the Republicans', and we haven't been able to say that for about 30 years. But that all doesn't make any difference if people are really disenchanted or demoralized by a convention that's really ugly and nasty."

Dean, the former governor of Vermont and 2004 presidential candidate, said he knows his critics say he should take a bigger leadership role in resolving some of these disputes. But he said that's not his role. Rather, he thinks of himself as a referee who enforces the rules in a close basketball game.

"Somebody is going to lose," Dean said. "My job is to make sure the person who loses feels like they have been treated fairly so that their supporters will support the winner."

Dean said the massive numbers of people showing up to participate in Democratic nominating contests across the country gives him encouragement that the eventual nominee will be well positioned to win the White House.

He said it is good for the candidates to debate controversies like the incendiary sermons by Obama's pastor and Clinton's different accounts of danger on a trip to Bosnia as first lady. If Democrats didn't deal with them now, he said Republicans will surely make use of them in the fall.

Dean also reflected the concerns of many Democrats who worry about Obama and Clinton tearing each other down.

"What I don't want to do is have the Democrats make a stupid mistake in April and then be sorry they said that in October and end up with some more right-wing extremists on the Supreme Court," he said.

Dean's supporters say he's working behind the scenes to resolve some of the issues. He's been consulting with party stalwarts about how to wrap up the nomination quickly after the voting ends in June, including former Vice President Al Gore, former presidential candidate John Edwards, former Sen. George Mitchell, former president Jimmy Carter, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.

"There'll be some nasty fights if it goes to convention, and people will walk out," Dean said. "But I've also been talking to a fairly significant number of, by and large, nonaligned people about how we might resolve this."

Dean said he will not encourage any delegate to vote one way or another.

"I am going to stand up for the rules, and I know I'm doing the right thing most of the time because I've got both Clinton people and Obama people mad at me," he said.

For instance, while Obama's campaign has been encouraging superdelegates to support the candidate with the most pledged delegates - which almost certainly will be Obama - Dean says the rules don't require that and superdelegates are free to chose who they want.

On the other side, Clinton has been arguing lately that even pledged delegates - awarded to a candidate based on the outcome of state contests - aren't bound to vote for that candidate at the convention. Dean called that "a very technical argument."

"You aren't going to get pledged delegates to move unless something really shocking happens," he said. And he thinks it unlikely the superdelegates would support a candidate who did not have the most pledged delegates.

Dean also said the Michigan and Florida delegates will be seated at the convention. But he won't force a resolution because he said there's nothing the Obama and Clinton campaigns can support at this point.

"You bring both sides together and say, `Don't you think it's time that the two campaigns made a deal on how we're going to do this?"' Dean said. "Let me just say that the campaigns believe that kind of a deal is premature right now."
Howie P.S.: Bob Casey endorsed Obama and Pat Leahy asked Hillary Clinton to abandon her White House run today.

"End Games"

Eli Sanders (The Stranger):
At What Point Does Clinton Give Up?--Hillary Clinton may be on track to win the Pennsylvania primary on April 22, but along the way to that contest she is losing something essential: the willingness of Democrats, political journalists, and opinion leaders to continue suspending their disbelief about the possibilities of her campaign.
More and more people are saying the obvious: It takes a kind of departure from reality usually reserved for movie theaters in order to imagine that this adventure really ends with Clinton winning the Democratic nomination.

She is behind in fundraising. She is behind in the popular vote. She is behind in the delegate count. She would need an extraordinarily large—and therefore extraordinarily unlikely—margin of victory in Pennsylvania in order to make any significant progress in closing any of those gaps.

The math is simply not on her side, and winning the Democratic nomination is not about a series of those now-familiar "Clinton comeback" moments interspersed with repeated stretches of Clinton defeat. It is, in the end, about math: adding up enough delegates to win.

Which Obama is in the process of doing. Not Clinton.

Hence a slew of articles, opinion pieces, and posts on liberal blogs in recent days that have called Clinton's continued viability a "myth" (The Politico, March 21) and declared the nomination fight not just over, but "played out" (, March 24). An anonymous Democratic official, speaking to ABC News on March 25, suggested Clinton had only "the Tonya Harding option" left. The same day, David Brooks, writing in the New York Times, offered Clinton a very backhanded compliment and posed a harsh but fundamental question.

"When you step back and think about it, she is amazing," Brooks wrote. "She possesses the audacity of hopelessness. Why does she go on like this?"

It's impossible to know. Theories range from raging narcissism to a sincere belief that things will turn around for her campaign. But while Clinton plays out her next moves over the next few weeks (or, even more worrisome to Democrats, the next few months), this primary fight's resistance to resolution is causing Democrats to fret that the only person being helped is John McCain.

Karina Putnam-Kaminsky, a manager at a downtown Seattle restaurant, is fed up. She was elected as a Clinton delegate at the Washington State caucuses on February 9 but says she's become so frustrated with Clinton's win-at-all-costs-and-despite-all-odds approach that she's going to switch her support to Obama when the Legislative District caucuses take place on April 5.

"It's highly unlikely that Clinton will get the nomination," Putnam-Kaminsky said. She went on to criticize the "wild, crazy, incendiary claims" that have been coming from the Clinton camp in recent weeks and said the "final straw" was Clinton's push to get the results of Florida and Michigan's rule-violating primaries to be counted. "It seemed kind of desperate," Putnam-Kaminsky said.

Her switch, and her opinion, represents just one precinct delegate vote—and just one more low-level Obama delegate added to Obama's already-winning delegate hand here. Outside of canvassing all of Democratic precinct delegates in the state, it's impossible to determine how many people in Washington share Putnam-Kaminsky's views. But set in the context of the general sense of fatigue with Clinton's strategy, it becomes yet another fatigued voice to add to the list—and could be a harbinger.

* * *

Predictably, local Clinton supporters don't think so. Linda Mitchell, president of the National Women's Political Caucus of Washington and a member of Clinton's local campaign committee, told me that Clinton has about 10 paid staffers on the ground here in Washington who are working hard to hold—and perhaps grow—the number of Clinton delegates in Washington as the Democratic delegate apportionment process grinds on from precinct to legislative district to, ultimately, the state convention.

"The Clinton delegates walked through a wall of fire to get to be delegates," Mitchell told me. "They're pretty locked in. There's a lot of passion."

No doubt. However, Clinton's post-caucus attempts at boosting her local delegate totals aside, the question remains: Should Clinton even continue her run given the bleak national picture and the long odds of victory?

"Absolutely," Mitchell told me. "I think that there are states that we have not heard from. I disagree with those who say she can't win this. I think the longer this goes on, the more we learn about both sides, and that's good for the discussion. It's not over until it's over."

The question, of course, is who decides when it's over. Most likely it will be the superdelegates. They're the only people with enough power to fundamentally reverse (or end) Clinton's electoral fortunes. Another bad sign for Clinton came from one of them on March 25 when Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, a prominent Clinton backer, announced that she won't be backing Clinton at the convention if Obama arrives there as he is now—in the lead.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Obama Takes On Both Clinton and McCain"

From The Road (CBS News political blog):
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Pulling no punches on his first day back on the campaign trail after his vacation, Barack Obama attacked John McCain’s economic plan and Hillary Clinton’s reluctance to give up power.
“This has been a hard fought contest and the status quo is not going to give up easily,” Obama said. “Not just the Republican status quo but the Democratic status quo. People have been in power a long time and are used to being in power. They don’t like change. They are going to resist it.”

The Obama campaign has repeatedly said that they will not call for Clinton to drop out of the race and that the decision would be hers. Obama called Clinton “smart and capable,” and said he wants to ensure that the tone of the campaign will help a Democrat become elected in November. But he then went on to accuse Clinton of taking large sums of money from lobbyists. “When she takes more money from lobbyists and special interests than any candidate including John McCain that shows that she doesn’t have a sense that we have got to change how business is done in Washington.”

Obama also fiercely criticized John McCain’s economic policy, accusing him of not presenting solutions to the current crisis and just wanting to “sit back” and watch what happens. “In his entire speech yesterday he offered not one policy, not one idea, not one bit of relief for the nearly thirty five thousand North Carolinians who were forced to foreclose on their dream in the last few months,” Obama said. “Not one single idea or a single policy prescription.”

Although he was not asked about Rev. Jeremiah Wright specifically, Obama spoke of his former pastor and the Trinity United Church of Christ in an answer to a question on religion. He described his church as “welcoming,” but again condemned Wright’s inflammatory comments and said that he hopes voters will not be distracted by the controversy.
“We cannot solve the problems of America if every time somebody somewhere says something stupid that everybody gets up in arms, that we forget about the war in Iraq or the economy or we forget about things that are going to make a difference in our children’s lives,” Obama said. “I don't want that kind of politics.”

"Ron Sims Wavers, Wanders, and Wonders About His Superdelegate Responsibilities"

Eli Sanders (SLOG):
Yesterday it was Maria Cantwell. Today it’s Ron Sims, King County Executive and committed Clinton superdelegate, who was on KUOW’s Weekday this morning telling host Steve Scher that he is, at the very least, unhappy with the destructive potential of the Democratic nomination contest. He also said he’s listening very closely to the debate among superdelegates about how they should get Obama and Clinton to, in his words, “Stop it.”
The discussion starts at 49:50, and I’ve transcribed it below. There’s quite a bit of rambling and hedging, but the take-away, for me, is that Sims may be open to the idea of using his superdelegate power to help end the contest before it harms the party’s chances in November (although, classic Sims, he also seemed to suggest he’d be fine with the Democratic nominee not being decided until the convention in late August).

Bottom line: He’s wavering.

Steve Scher: Are you still committed to Hillary Clinton as a superdelegate?

Ron Sims: Oh yeah, I am.

Scher: Nothing’s going to change that?

Sims: I didn’t say that. You asked me, ‘Was I committed to Hillary Clinton…’

Scher: As a superdelegate.

Sims: As a superdelegate. There’s a lot of superdelegate discussion going on right now. The emails are hot and heavy over what we should do and when we should do it. And, again, it goes back to the fact that we’re Democrats and we want to make sure that we come out of the convention with the strongest candidate or combinations of candidates. So, I don’t think anybody’s made a decision to bolt in large numbers now. But, obviously, everyday I have about seven or eight emails because people across the country are on the same list. So they are comparing notes. So, it’s going to be fascinating…

I’ve watched this campaign. I’ve seen two people who I really like. And it just seems, if you look at the polls now, [they] are inflicting great damage on each other and that’s really gotta stop. To have people who support Senator Obama say, ‘I’m not going to support Senator Clinton,’ and to have people who support Senator Clinton say, ‘I’m not going to support Senator Obama’—my issue is, that should not be the national debate. I think we have an opportunity to head in a different direction, and we need to do that, but obviously this campaign is not doing that. And I think more of the superdelegates are beginning to say, “Stop it.” And that’s being heard by the campaigns and the candidates, because they’ve got to stop this madness.

Scher: It seems like I’m just going to have to take 30 seconds to read between the lines there—that you are wavering and considering that your candidate maybe should withdraw in the interest of unity in the party.

Sims: Oh, I didn’t say that.

Scher: I know you didn’t, that’s why I’m reading between the lines and putting words in your mouth to get you to be a little more specific. You’re not changing your vote yet, is what you said.

Sims: Yeah, I’m not changing it yet.

Scher: But you may because of the interest of unity for the party?

Sims: Because I want a, uh—and there’s issues about when that takes place. I think the delegates are going to be talking to each other, especially when the convention comes, and saying, ‘What outcomes do we want?’ Because both candidates are going to come into the convention without enough delegates to put them over the top.

Scher: Unless the superdelegates move sooner. You’re going to wait till the convention?

Sims: There’s issues to me. I want Michigan seated, and I want Florida seated, before the convention and not at the convention.

Scher: Allright, we’ll debate this one again. You superdelegates are just going to dangle it in front of us for a while. Ron Sims is King County Executive. This is KUOW Seattle…


Ari Melber (The Nation):
Forget the YouTube election. For the first time, Americans can now run their own political advertising campaigns on television, thanks to, a new business unit of a major advertising firm.
Starting at around $1,000, the site lets people purchase broadcast time in any market across the country, target specific demographics, and choose an ad for their candidate or cause -- or even make their own. Then the company, WideOrbit, which currently manages about $10 billion in advertising across 900 television stations, places the ads and takes a standard 15 percent cut of sales. "This is the first focused political site that enables the purchase of air time," CEO Eric Mathewson told me. WideOrbit's current clients include NBC Universal, Hearst and Gannett. Operating as a nonpartisan business, it will run political ads from across the political spectrum. Mathewson says he already has early orders for "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in ads for one of the presidential candidates, and he expects a full range of buyers once the site goes live on Thursday. Current users kept their names private, for now, but FEC law requires that buyers' names are listed at the end of the ads when they air. is launching with mock-ups of positive and negative ads for the three presidential candidates, and it plans to roll out ads for congressional, state and local races. The site also welcomes open source input from donors and activists. If a homemade ad is popular on YouTube, for example, Mathewson said VoterVoter can help buyers produce a similar message in the high resolution video required for television broadcasts.

In an era when hundreds of thousands of people donate to candidates and millions more debate politics online, VoterVoter could find a receptive market in donors and activists willing to pool their resources for a greater impact on campaign messaging. And when buying ads directly, donors are not restricted by the FEC's $4,600 limit on donations to individual presidential candidates. Political advertising often captivates activists -- netroots groups and the John Edwards Campaign have previously run contests to broadcast grassroots ads. Just this week, launched an "Obama in 30 Seconds Ad" competition, promising the winner's ad would "air on national TV."
If VoterVoter catches on, volunteers, bloggers and donors could skip the contest and air their ads directly.
Howie P.S.: Dan Abrams (MSNBC) finds a few more video "misspokes," (01:39) that could be new raw footage for an ad.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Ari Melber (The Nation)with video (01:27):
Jack Murtha, the decorated Marine, Iraq war critic and 34-year veteran of Pennsylvania politics, has been going all out for Hillary Clinton. Today the Clinton Campaign released a new YouTube video featuring Murtha on the stump, telling voters that Clinton is the best candidate to run fiscal policy, end the war and "restore our military." On YouTube, Clinton has lagged far behind Obama, who has used the site to reach millions of viewers for a fraction of the cost of TV and direct mail. Recently, however, the Clinton Campaign has begun uploading a greater range of footage on its YouTube channel.
Howie P.S.: When Murtha announced his support of HRC, I was curious about why he was backing her. After viewing this, entitled "Rep. Murtha Explains Why He's For Hillary," I'm still wondering.

Hillary's "Macaca moment"? (video) (Updated)

UPDATE: barelypolitical, (the Obama girl people) have just produced a satirical YouTube, "Hillary WASN'T LYING! Bosnia gunfire footage discovered..."

heathj82, video (01:39):
SNIPERGATE '08 - Can HRC survive being caught in a bald-faced lie?

Watch a news report from 1996 about HRC's trip to Bosnia and then see her speech from March 17, 2008 where she answers a question about the trip. So embarrassing!
Howie P.S.: DHinMI's diary on Kos adds
It's been available on YouTube for days, and has now been supplemented with several other reports showing the same events from slightly different camera angles. And it hardly takes the kind of maniacal focus on details that obsessives have lavished on the Zapruder film to see that everything was calm, that she strolled out of the plane toward the ceremony, and that there was no imminent threat to her life or the lives of anyone else on that tarmac.

Unlike the Macaca moment, this wasn't a new piece of video. It wasn't a revelation, something previously unknown and exposed to the world. This time, the problem for the candidate isn't something she just said that ended up on YouTube, it's that what she said is easily refuted by watching video available for everyone to see on YouTube.

"The Effects of Sleep Deprivation"
Sleep deprivation can have serious effects on your health in the form of physical and mental impairments. Inadequate rest impairs our ability to think, to handle stress, to maintain a healthy immune system and to moderate our emotions. In fact, sleep is so important to our overall health that total sleep deprivation has been proven to be fatal: lab rats denied the chance to rest die within two to three weeks.

Without adequate rest, the brain's ability to function quickly deteriorates. The brain works harder to counteract sleep deprivation effects, but operates less effectively: concentration levels drop, and memory becomes impaired.
Similarly, the brain's ability to problem solve is greatly impaired. Decision-making abilities are compromised, and the brain falls into rigid thought patterns that make it difficult to generate new problem-solving ideas. Insufficient rest can also cause people to have hallucinations. Other typical effects of sleep deprivation include:

* depression
* heart disease
* hypertension
* irritability
* slower reaction times
* slurred speech
* tremors.

In this section, we will outline and examine the various effects of sleep deprivation. Our articles will describe how prolonged lack of sleep affects both mental and physical health.

Sleep & Aging
The older we get, the more likely it is that we will suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. In fact, over 50 percent of people over 64 years old suffer from some type of sleep disorder. While the hormonal and physical changes that occur as we age will likely affect sleep, especially in menopausal women, the increased presence of other medical conditions and disorders is also a factor that tends to upset the sleep of the elderly.

One of the biggest sleeping problems the elderly experience is the inability to get deep, restorative sleep. Although they tend to sleep just as much as they did when they were younger, the elderly don’t get as quality sleep, meaning that they often suffer from fatigue and daytime drowsiness. The main reason for this is because older people don’t get as much REM sleep, the deepest, most restorative sleep phase. Keep reading to learn more about the relationship between sleep and aging.
Weight Changes
Dramatic weight changes, especially weight gain, are also common effects of sleep deprivation. Because the amount and quality of the sleep we get affects our hormone levels, namely our levels of leptin and ghrelin, many physiological processes that depend on these hormone levels to function properly, including appetite, are affected by our sleep.

While leptin is a hormone that affects our feelings of fullness and satisfaction after a meal, ghrelin is the hormone that stimulates our appetites. When you suffer from sleep deprivation, your body’s levels of leptin fall while ghrelin levels increase. This means that you end up feeling hungrier without really feeling satisfied by what you eat, causing you to eat more and, consequently, gain weight. Keep reading to learn more about how sleep affects your weight.

"Hillary or Nobody?"

Maureen Dowd (NY Times):
While the cool cat’s away, the Hillary mice will play.
As Barack Obama was floating in the pool with his daughters the last few days in St. Thomas, some Clinton disciples were floating the idea of St. Hillary as his vice president.

She can’t win without him, said one Hillary adviser, and he can’t win without her.

They’re stuck with each other.

It’s one of my favorite movie formulas, driving the dynamics in such classics as “A Few Good Men,” “The Big Easy” and “Guys and Dolls”: Charming, glib guy spars and quarrels with no-nonsense, driven girl, until they team up in the last reel. He spices up her life, and she stiffens his spine. And soon they hear the pitter-patter of little superdelegate feet, who are thrilled not to be pulled in two directions anymore.

And everybody’s happy. Or are they?

A couple of weeks ago, when Hill and Bill mentioned the possibility of a joint ticket, it was an attempt to undermine Obama and urge voters and superdelegates to put Hillary on top; the implication was that this was the only way Democrats could have both their stars, and besides, it was her turn. The precocious boy wonder had plenty of time.

But with the math not in her favor, her options running out, Bill Richardson running out and her filigreed narrative of dodging bullets in Bosnia and securing peace in Northern Ireland unraveling, could Hillary actually think the vice presidency is the best she’ll do?

One Hillary pal said she wouldn’t want to go back to a Senate full of lawmakers who’d abandoned her for Obama. And even if she could get to be majority leader, would it be much fun working with Nancy Pelosi, whose distaste for the Clintons has led her to subtly maneuver for Obama?

Maybe The Terminator is thinking: if she could just get her pump in the door. Dick Cheney, after all, was able to run the White House and the world from the vice president’s residence, calling every shot while serving under a less experienced and younger president. And Observatory Circle is just up the street from where Hillary now lives.

But, aside from Barack and Michelle Obama’s certain resistance, would it fly? Many Hillary voters are hardening against Obama, and more and more Obama fans are getting turned off by the idea of dragging down the Obama brand with Clinton dysfunction.

“No drama, vote Obama” placards and T-shirts are popping up at Obama rallies, and one of his military advisers dubbed him “No Shock Barack.”

It’s hard to imagine that after spending her whole life playing second-fiddle to a superstar pol, Hillary wants to do it again. She’s been vice president.

Could the veep talk be a red herring? A ploy designed to distract attention from the Clintons’ real endgame?

Even some Clinton loyalists are wondering aloud if the win-at-all-costs strategy of Hillary and Bill — which continued Tuesday when Hillary tried to drag Rev. Wright back into the spotlight — is designed to rough up Obama so badly and leave the party so riven that Obama will lose in November to John McCain.

If McCain only served one term, Hillary would have one last shot. On Election Day in 2012, she’d be 65.

Why else would Hillary suggest that McCain would be a better commander in chief than Obama, and why else would Bill imply that Obama was less patriotic — and attended by more static — than McCain?

Why else would Phil Singer, a Hillary spokesman, say in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday that Obama was trying to disenfranchise the voters of Florida and Michigan. “When it comes to voting, Senator Obama has turned the audacity of hope into the audacity of nope,” he said, adding, “There’s a basic reality here, which is we could have avoided the entire George W. Bush presidency if we had counted votes in Florida.” So is Singer making the case that Obama is as anti-democratic as W. was when he snatched Florida from Al Gore?

Some top Democrats are increasingly worried that the Clintons’ divide-and-conquer strategy is nihilistic: Hillary or no democrat.

(Or, as one Democrat described it to ABC’s Jake Tapper: Hillary is going for “the Tonya Harding option” — if she can’t get the gold, kneecap her rival.)

After all, the Clintons think of themselves as The Democratic Party. When Bill and Dick Morris triangulated during the first term, it was what was best for Bill, not the party. In 1996, when Bill turned the White House into Motel 1600 for fund-raisers, it was more about his re-election than the re-elections of his fellow Democrats in Congress; in 2000, the White House focused its energies more on Hillary’s Senate win than Al Gore’s presidential run.

And even Clinton supporters know that Bill does not want to be replaced as the first black president, especially by a black president with enough magic to possibly eclipse him in the history books.
Howie P.S.: I'm no Dowd fan. I remember back when she was on the style and gossip beat. But one wonders if maybe there's a grain or two of truth in here. Hillaryland has been slicing and dicing piles of red herring lately. Meanwhile, Obama is busy spending "quality time with his kids."