Thursday, January 31, 2008

Clinton Takes the High Road to Win the Los Angeles Debate

Photo credits: Getty
As she promised in the AP interview that I mentioned in an earlier post today, Hillary Clinton demonstrated poise, class, and good humor while taking the high road in tonight’s debate with Barack Obama at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.

It was apparent from his opening statement that Obama had gotten the message that his boorish treatment of Hillary Clinton this week had not helped his cause. He mentioned that he’d been friends with Clinton before the campaign and that he was certain they would be friends after it was over.

But that didn’t stop Obama from getting a few digs in as the debate progressed. He once again brought up his early opposition to the Iraq war resolution without mentioning he was not a member of the senate when it was passed. He later admitted he couldn’t say with certainty how he would have voted had he been in the senate at the time.

Obama also failed to mention that since his election to the U.S. Senate he has regularly voted to fund the war. Apparently, he keeps bringing the matter up because his initial opposition to the war as a part-time Illinois state senator is his only example of good judgment within the scope of his limited experience

Nevertheless, tonight’s debate remained civil and focused mainly on policy differences. A two-term senator, Clinton was obviously the better informed and more knowledgeable candidate. In response to Obama’s chronic boasting of being able to bring people together, Clinton mentioned specific instances of working across the aisle with Republican leaders such as Newt Gingrich and Lindsay Graham on important legislation.

Clinton’s command of the facts easily bested Obama in presenting their health care plans. On the topic of immigration, Obama got in trouble by accusing Clinton of waffling on the issue of driver’s licenses for immigrants in the Philadelphia debate last October. He could only nod his head in agreement when she reminded him of his own muddled response to a similar question in the following debate. Tonight, both Clinton and Obama unequivocally stated their support for a comprehensive immigration bill.

In response to a potentially awkward question regarding Bill Clinton’s participation in her campaign, Clinton very firmly took ownership of her candidacy while gracefully expressing her loyalty to Bill and affirming his support.

Hillary Clinton won tonight's debate, positioning her well for Super Tuesday.

Clinton and McCain Lead in National Polls

Photo credits: AP

Heading into Super Tuesday, Real Clear Politics continues to show Hillary Clinton with an average 9.1 lead over Barack Obama in national polls. For the Republicans, McClain leads by 6.5 points.

Clinton Extends Her Hand as Obama Stumbles on the Road to Camelot

Photo Credits: Getty

On Monday at American University, Ted Kennedy, with great pomp and circumstance, symbolically passed the torch to the 46-year-old Barrack Obama, who still had a bounce in his step from winning South Carolina.

In response to the Kennedy/Obama theatrics, the media predictably fell en masse at Obama’s feet. On the PBS NewsHour later that day, neocon David Brooks, who has gushed over Obama in two or three of his NY Times columns, literally drooled as he described how Obama was now aligned with JFK as a leader in the Democratic Party; Brooks, Mark Shields, and Jim Lehrer then jovially bonded in blatant Hillary bashing.

But it’s been a busy week, and news of the coveted TK endorsement was soon drowned out by word of Obama’s misstep minutes before President Bush’s final state of the union speech Monday evening. An Associated Press photo by J. Scott Applewhite captured the moment when Obama turned his back on Clinton as she reached out to shake hands with Sen. Kennedy and other senators seated nearby.

Before the evening ended, the photo and an accompanying AP story by Laurie Kellman appeared as breaking news in the Politics section of the Huffington Post. By Tuesday morning the photo with word of Obama’s bad manners was all over the Web.

Suddenly, after his brief moment beneath the cloak of the Kennedy mystique, Obama and his campaign staff were playing defense in attempts to justify his boorish treatment of Sen. Clinton at an important joint session of congress.

If you think the snub is trivial stuff, here’s the deal: at this writing, 2,772 readers have taken the time to add their comments to the story headlined by the Huffington Post as No Chitchat Between Clinton and Obama.

A recent update at Huffpost includes Clinton’s response to the incident in an exchange with Chris Wallace on Fox News. Clinton explained, “Well, Chris, I reached out my hand in friendship and unity and my hand is still reaching out. And I look forward to shaking his {Obama’s} hand when I see him at the debate in California.”

As if the negative publicity from Obama’s snub rocketing around the web was not enough bad news for Obama-ites, there was still more to come. On Tuesday night, despite the fact that the DNC had stripped Florida of its delegates and none of the candidates had campaigned there, thousands of Democratic voters in this diverse, heavily populated state went all out to show their support for Hillary Clinton. They gave her a resounding win: all three candidates were on the ballot, and Clinton received 50 percent of the vote compared to 33 percent for Obama and 14 percent for Edwards.

The NY Times reported:

“Mrs. Clinton had strong support among women, Hispanics, whites, older voters, early deciders and early voters in Florida. A majority of Democratic voters said she was the most qualified to be commander in chief, and a plurality said she was the most likely to unite the country.

“Mr. Obama received the support of 7 in 10 black voters, but they made up less than 20 percent of the electorate. He did better among younger voters than older ones, but they did not support him as strongly as they had in earlier primaries, and he was unable to best Mrs. Clinton among them.”

It has also been noted that Sen. Clinton received more votes than John McCain, the winner of the fully sanctioned Republican primary.

Showing their usual poor sportsmanship, Obama and followers responded to Clinton’s win with derision. The media, by and large, has responded with either silence or open disdain, not only indulging in the usual Hillary bashing, but going overboard to dismiss the votes of thousands of Florida Democrats, thereby insulting a huge percentage of the state’s population. From the likes of Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, it was to be expected. In one of his less vicious comments in yesterday’s screed, Milbank described Florida’s Democratic primary as “without purpose, a show about nothing.”

Finally, Obama was pushed to make a last ditch effort to hold on to the fast evaporating momentum from his win in South Carolina and his cloak of Kennedy mystique. In a “foreign policy” speech in Colorado yesterday, Obama, the unifier and self-appointed emissary of the new politics, slammed Hillary Clinton with an array of false charges.

The Clinton camp responded immediately by calmly stating the facts. And in a subsequent AP interview, Clinton vowed to take the high road and warned that voters in the mega-primaries next week expect that. She went on to say, "I'm going to continue to talk to people about what we need to do in our country to try to lift people up, to keep focused on the future to be very specific about what I want to do as president because I want to be held accountable.”

I tuned in the NewsHour on Wednesday evening, although I’ve come to relish the power to hit the off button on my remote when the Hillary bashing begins, especially pronounced during the Brooks and Shields so-called analysis. In yesterday’s edition, however, the trio of Brooks, Shields, and Lehrer seemed somewhat subdued. You could tell it was difficult for Brooks, but with a little prompting from Lehrer, he even admitted that Obama, the unifier, had attacked Clinton earlier in the afternoon.

We’ll see what happens tonight in Los Angeles where Obama will be forced to bring his now badly tarnished image to debate Clinton, who will be newly charged up with a boost from thousands of supporters in Florida and the positive energy that comes from resisting an opponent's obvious baiting and staying on the high road.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

John Edwards to Drop Out of Presidential Race

AP photo: In South Carolina: Clinton, Obama, and Edwards

Reuters reported this morning that according to a campaign official, John Edwards plans to announce his decision to pull out of the presidential race during a speech in New Orleans at 1 p.m. EST today.

So far, Edwards has not won a primary contest, although when Obama took Iowa, he placed second by a fraction of a percentage point ahead of Clinton. Clinton received only one fewer of the Iowa delegates than Obama and one more than Edwards. In subsequent primaries, Edwards has lagged well behind both Obama and Clinton.

The pundits will all be abuzz now over whether Clinton or Obama will benefit the most from Edwards supporters. I’m thinking it will most likely be an even split whether or not Edwards decides to endorse one of his former rivals.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Obama Snubs Clinton

Photo credits: Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite

I watched President Bush’s state of the union speech last night on CNN. Shortly before Mr. Bush took the podium, a CNN commentator mentioned that she had just seen Barack Obama turn his back to Hillary Clinton as she offered to shake hands with him. The ever-gracious Sen. Clinton then shook hands with Ted Kennedy and other senators seated nearby. The above photo tells us all we need to know about the incident.

The Commonalities of Barack Obama and George W. Bush

Photo credit: White House photo of Bush, Cheney, and Pelosi as Bush delivers his state of the union speech Monday night.

Prior to President Bush’s final state of the union speech Monday evening, Jacob Weisberg offered a recap of Bush’s previous SOM messages in a NY Times op-ed. And once again, I was struck by how much Barack Obama sounds like the current president, especially in the highlights Weisberg provided from Bush’s first speech to a joint session of Congress seven years ago.

Weisberg writes:

“Mr. Bush began his February 2001 address by hailing the new spirit of cooperation he hoped would characterize his relations with Congress. ‘Together we are changing the tone in the nation’s capital,’ he declared. The new president’s top priority would be education. He intended to marry the liberal desire for more federal money to the conservative demand for higher standards.

“The rest of the speech was similarly moderate in tone and substance. Mr. Bush planned to use part of the enormous fiscal surplus he inherited for a broad-based tax cut. But he also wanted to expand Medicare benefits, preserve Social Security, extend access to health care and protect the environment. He concluded with an exhortation to bipartisanship — in Spanish. “Juntos podemos,” he said. “Together we can.”

Weisberg continues:

“Mr. Bush seemed genuinely to want to be the kind of president indicated by that first address. He meant to build a broad coalition on the model of his governorship in Texas, where he worked closely with Democrats in the Legislature, made his chief cause correcting racial disparities in education, and was re-elected in 1998 by an almost 40 percentage point margin, including 27 percent of the black vote and at least a third of Latinos. I always sort of liked that George W. Bush. Whatever happened to him?”

Obama, too, seeks to build coalitions, and he has recently demonstrated his skills at wooing the opposition party. In an interview with the editorial board of a Nevada newspaper, Obama spoke favorably of Ronald Reagan and credited Republicans for having been “the party of ideas;” he easily won the conservative-leaning paper’s endorsement.

Further on in his op-ed, Weisberg concludes:

“So often with Mr. Bush, compassionate government began and ended with the heartfelt public avowal. He was too distracted by war and foreign policy, and too bored by the processes of government to know if the people working for him were following through on his proposals.”

Portraying himself as a visionary, the management style Obama suggests he would bring to the presidency appears to closely resemble Mr. Bush’s approach; that is, he would eschew the hands-on management duties of a CEO such as checking in now and then to see how people are doing in completing their assignments.

Other similarities between Obama and Bush include the likeability factor. Candidate Bush was deemed more likeable than Gore in 2000 and more likeable than Kerry in 2004. And as the media in 2008 has repeatedly taken pains to point out, Obama is favored over Hillary Clinton in the category of “someone I’d like to have a beer with.”

Although Obama has not yet gone as far as Bush in claiming that God called him to be president, I’ve gotten the impression from recent statements by Sen. Obama that he feels confident that he can unite the country and go on to change the world solely through the power of his personality.

Like Obama, Bush was once all about cleaning up the corruption in Washington and moving the country beyond the old politics. In a similar vein, Obama's stirring rhetoric, crafted by his speechwriters and read from a teleprompter in the cadences of Martin Luther King, Jr., now offers hope for sweeping, though, amorphous change.

As the crowds pick up the rhythm of Obama’s speeches and begin to chant, sometimes in Spanish, “Yes, we can,” we are reminded of Bush’s first state of the union speech that as noted above, he concluded with “an exhortation to bipartisanship — in Spanish. ‘Juntos podemos,’ he said. “Together we can.”

The media continues to amplify the drumbeat to select our next president, not through a rational decision-making process, but in an emotional upsurge for Obama, while prominent pundits in both the MSM and blogosphere simultaneously lead the ongoing savaging of Hillary Clinton. Remember the abuse the media heaped on Al Gore?

In a strange convergence of events yesterday, Obama’s former fundraiser Antonin (Tony) Rezko was sent to jail; Ted and Caroline Kennedy cloaked Obama in the Kennedy mystique with their endorsement; and President Bush delivered his final state of the union message.

Weisberg had predicted that Mr. Bush might provide a glimpse of his earlier “compassionate conservativism." I listened to the speech in its entirety, although zoning out several times in response to his pleas to make his tax cuts for the wealthy permanent; his linking of the invasion of Iraq to 9/11; and his threats to veto any legislation not giving him what he wants. If Mr. Bush displayed any compassion, I missed it.

Nevertheless, the audience broke into applause about 70 times, as the cameras showed most often Republicans standing while Democrats kept their seats, emphasizing Bush’s role throughout his presidency as primarily a divider, not a uniter.

For a complete transcription of Bush’s state of the union speech, go here. For a transcription of the Democratic response given by Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, go here.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

It’s Obama, Clinton, and Edwards in South Carolina

You can sometimes tell more about a person’s character when they lose a contest than when they win. Barack Obama has still not offered a word of congratulations to Hillary Clinton for taking Nevada and in fact has continued to deny that he lost there.

In contrast to Obama’s poor sportsmanship and evident frustration over the past several days, Hillary Clinton graciously called Obama this evening to congratulate him for his victory in South Carolina where she placed second and John Edwards placed third. Sen. Clinton later released the following written statement:

"I have called Senator Obama to congratulate him and wish him well.

"Thank you to the people of South Carolina who voted today and welcomed me into their homes over the last year. Your stories will stay with me well beyond this campaign and I am grateful for the support so many of you gave to me.

"We now turn our attention to the millions of Americans who will make their voices heard in Florida and the twenty-two states as well as American Samoa who will vote on February 5th.

"In the days ahead, I'll work to give voice to those who are working harder than ever to be heard. For those who have lost their job or their home or their health care, I will focus on the solutions needed to move this country forward. That's what this election is about. It's about our country, our hopes and dreams. Our families and our future."

As the polls were closing, Sen. Clinton left South Carolina on a flight to Tennessee, one of 24 states holding primaries or caucuses on Feb. 5, when 52 percent of all pledged Democratic delegates and 41 percent of the total Republican Party delegates will be at stake.

The latest national poll average shows Clinton leading Obama by eight points.

Hillary Clinton’s Responses to Obama’s Attacks

Photo credits: Associated Press

An Associated Press article in today’s Boston Globe quotes Sen. Hillary Clinton describing her efforts to focus on public policy issues despite being forced to respond to Barrack Obama’s attacks.

"I try not to attack first, but I have to defend myself -- I do have to counterpunch," Clinton told NBC's "Today Show.

"I took a lot of incoming fire for many, many months and I was happy to absorb it because obviously, you know, I felt that was part of my responsibility. But toward the end of a campaign you have to set the record straight.”

The AP article summarizes recent developments between the Clinton and Obama campaigns:

“Clinton, Obama and their campaigns have exchanged increasingly hard-hitting jabs in recent days over race, his relationship with a Chicago developer, her vote on the Iraq war, and other issues. Clinton stopped airing a South Carolina radio ad critical of Obama on Thursday and Obama took down his radio response in an attempt to cool the angry public spat.”

Read more:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

New York Times Endorses Hillary Clinton

Photo credits: Clinton campaign

In an editorial dated Jan. 25, 2008, The New York Times has endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee:

“As Democrats look ahead to the primaries in the biggest states on Feb. 5, The Times’s editorial board strongly recommends that they select Hillary Clinton as their nominee for the 2008 presidential election.”

In pointing out Sen. Clinton’s strengths, the Times notes:

“It is unfair, especially after seven years of Mr. Bush’s inept leadership, but any Democrat will face tougher questioning about his or her fitness to be commander in chief. Mrs. Clinton has more than cleared that bar, using her years in the Senate well to immerse herself in national security issues, and has won the respect of world leaders and many in the American military. She would be a strong commander in chief.

“Domestically, Mrs. Clinton has tackled complex policy issues, sometimes failing. She has shown a willingness to learn and change. Her current proposals on health insurance reflect a clear shift from her first, famously disastrous foray into the issue. She has learned that powerful interests cannot simply be left out of the meetings. She understands that all Americans must be covered — but must be allowed to choose their coverage, including keeping their current plans. Mr. Obama may also be capable of tackling such issues, but we have not yet seen it. Voters have to judge candidates not just on the promise they hold, but also on the here and now.”

The Times editorial concludes:

“We know that she {Clinton} is capable of both uniting and leading. We saw her going town by town through New York in 2000, including places where Clinton-bashing was a popular sport. She won over skeptical voters and then delivered on her promises and handily won re-election in 2006.

“Mrs. Clinton must now do the same job with a broad range of America’s voters. She will have to let Americans see her power to listen and lead, but she won’t be able to do it town by town.
“When we endorsed Mrs. Clinton in 2006, we were certain she would continue to be a great senator, but since her higher ambitions were evident, we wondered if she could present herself as a leader to the nation.

“Her ideas, her comeback in New Hampshire and strong showing in Nevada, her new openness to explaining herself and not just her programs, and her abiding, powerful intellect show she is fully capable of doing just that. She is the best choice for the Democratic Party as it tries to regain the White House.

This is good news for Hillary Clinton just hours before the primary in South Carolina where she’s been fighting it out with Barack Obama.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Clinton Wins South Carolina Debate; Obama and Edwards Tie for Second

Photo credits: Associated Press

The eruption of Barrack Obama’s frustration in last night’s debate in South Carolina should have surprised no one. He has been noticeably sullen since his loss to Hillary Clinton a few days ago in Nevada. Instead of the customary concession speech, Obama issued a brief statement that withheld any word of congratulation to Sen. Clinton and focused on the allocation of delegates rather than the actual votes.

The media has largely amplified Obama’s sore-loser spin on his loss by including the temporary apportionment of delegates – 13 for Obama; 12 for Clinton - whenever the outcome of the Nevada caucus has been mentioned. Chris Cilizza at least attempted to set the matter straight in The Fix (Washington Post) by quoting Jill Derby, chairwoman of the state party: "The calculations of national convention delegates being circulated are based upon an assumption that delegate preferences will remain the same between now and April 2008. We look forward to our county and state conventions where we will choose the delegates for the nominee that Nevadans support."

It’s telling that the matter of delegates did not come up earlier in the campaign. After Obama’s much trumpeted win in Iowa, he failed to mention the tight delegate spread: Obama, 16; Clinton, 15; and Edwards 14. And Edwards in fact claimed second place with a fraction of a percentage point lead over Clinton and one fewer delegate.

Hillary Clinton could easily have used the apportionment of Iowa delegates to chide Obama for claiming a “big” win in Iowa and to challenge Edwards for claiming second place. But instead of taking the low road, Sen. Clinton has demonstrated far better sportsmanship throughout the campaign than either Obama or Edwards.

Obama and his followers were still refusing to acknowledge Clinton’s Nevada win yesterday morning ahead of the South Carolina debate. And in a preview of his debate performance, Obama attacked Bill Clinton in an ABC interview in response to Clinton’s earlier challenge of Obama’s verifiably inconsistent record on the Iraq War.

I’m one viewer who could easily see that Obama was spoiling for a fight Monday night at the onset of the debate when Hillary Clinton interrupted his rant to remind him that Bill wasn’t there.

That didn’t stop the surly Obama. He continued to assault Sen. Clinton by questioning the honesty and integrity of both her and Bill in ways reminiscent of Obama’s and Edwards’s clumsy personal attacks on Clinton last October during the Philadelphia debate.

This time around, though, Clinton gave as good as she got. Obama was reduced to stammering when she announced with a confident smile that she was proud of Bill’s passionate support of her candidacy. She also mentioned that Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Edwards have been strong supporters of their husbands.

In the exchanges that followed, Obama was forced to waste considerable time explaining and trying to justify apparent glitches in his record, including his relationship with Antonin Rezko, an Obama fundraiser under indictment for corruption charges.

John Edwards jumped into the fray between Clinton and Obama by pressing Obama to explain how and why he avoided an up or down vote by voting present on 130 issues as an Illinois state senator.

When Obama complained that his opponents had combed thousands of his votes as a state senator to find even one to challenge, Edwards nailed him for previously using the same tactics against both him and Sen. Clinton.

Once again, on matters of substance, Sen. Clinton easily surpassed both Obama and Edwards. I’m in complete agreement with Steve Clemons who remarked in today’s Huffington Post:

“I have to go with my own filters, not those of others -- and to me, regardless of who one supported tonight, it's clear that each scored points but that Hillary Clinton performed with an authority, presence in that huge hall, and mastery of detail that was just second to none. She hammered Bush on the semi-secret deal he's trying to rig with the Iraqi government to commit American troops and bases indefinitely -- something the others did not mention. She had numbers and details flowing forth as if they were as natural as could be.”

Regarding the housing crisis, Clemons noted that Sen. Clinton did not join Obama and Edwards in the false claim that “African-Americans were perniciously targeted by lenders…That's about as untrue as one can imagine. The subprime crisis is an outrage -- but it was a systemic problem -- and everyone who wanted credit got it.”

Clemons credited Clinton with offering the best proposal to assist the ailing economy and for understanding “the problem is not only with homeowners but with the entire financial network.”

After discussing comparisons in the debate of the three’s healthcare plans and commenting on individual foreign policy positions, Clemons concluded that “Hillary Clinton turned in the best performance tonight {Monday}. Then came Barack Obama, and close after though not enough came John Edwards.”

I agree with Clemons that Hillary Clinton was the clear winner of Monday night’s debate, but I would give Obama and Edwards a second-place tie.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Shared Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King

Photo credits:

Note: This post is an edited version of the presentation I gave this Sunday at Groveland Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship in commemoration of Martin Luther King Day.

Tomorrow, on the third Monday of Jan., we will officially celebrate Martin Luther King Day. It’s fitting that we also remember Martin’s wife, Coretta Scott King, who died just two years ago on Jan. 30, 2006.

More than six years post 9/11 in the shadow of the Iraq War and in the midst of a sometimes contentious presidential campaign, we do well to consider the shared legacy of Martin and Coretta, who were partners not only in their marriage, but also in their dedication to the greater cause of human rights that we Unitarian-Universalists emphatically subscribe to in the first two of our seven principles: 1) the inherent worth and dignity of every person; and 2) justice, equality and compassion in human relations.

In the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, non-violence was the hallmark of the Kings’ leadership in the civil rights movement. Under their leadership, the movement achieved one important milestone after another:

1957: Martin Luther King, Jr., Charles K. Steele, and Fred Shuttlesworth established the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

1963: Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the nation’s capital where 250,000 people attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

1964: President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin.

1964: Martin Luther King, Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize.

1965: Congress passed the Voting Rights Act making it easier for Southern blacks to register to vote.

1967: President Johnson appointed Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court Justice.

1968: President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing.

After Martin’s death from an assassin’s bullet in April of 1968, Coretta Scott King continued to provide essential support and leadership to the civil rights movement, while simultaneously fighting to preserve her husband’s legacy, and it was through her efforts that Martin Luther King Day became a national holiday in 1986.

Coretta outlived Martin by nearly four decades, and news coverage of her death in 2006 made a deep impression on me that I’ve not forgotten. It revealed a compelling life story, one that should jar us out of any delusion that terrorism was unknown in the United States before Sept. 11, making even more remarkable Martin and Coretta’s decision to overcome evil with good through following the path of non-violence.

Consider the following: Coretta was still a child on Thanksgiving Eve, 1942, when she saw the Scott family home burned to the ground by whites.

In 1956, Martin Luther King, Jr. was speaking at Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s First Baptist Church when whites bombed the King home; Coretta and their infant daughter were inside.

As noted earlier, Coretta was widowed when Martin, at the age of 39, was gunned down in Memphis, Tenn.

A few months after Coretta’s death just two years ago, civil rights activist Jo Freeman paid tribute to her on the August 26th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote.

Freeman had known Coretta personally. She became Coretta’s full-time assistant in 1966 prior to Martin’s death. She recalled that "Coretta had two full-time jobs and was searching for a third: her first job was as the wife of a minister and the mother of four children; the second was being the wife of a public figure."

Freeman said, “Many wives of public figures prefer to provide support from behind, but Mrs. King embraced a public role as well. She had trained as a professional singer with the expectation of a concert career and put her talents to good use giving concerts to raise money for civil rights. She also made speeches and appeared at public functions when called upon.”

But what impressed Freeman most about Coretta was that all of the above was not enough. “She wanted to be her own person…Martin’s prominence made that difficult for Coretta, who had already begun to branch out with her own causes such as participating in a 1962 disarmament conference in Geneva with Women's Strike for Peace.”

After Martin’s death, Coretta assumed his mantle, becoming his permanent representative. Freeman says that Coretta’s vision, like Martin’s, had always been greater than the need for racial justice: “Over time she … spoke out on issues that hadn't even been contemplated during the heyday of the civil rights movement. She understood the need for women's rights to be seen as human rights, and not only spoke at feminist events but served on the National Organization of Women’s Advisory Board.

“She was not afraid to buck conventional wisdom even within the black community and did so by supporting the rights of lesbians and gays to marry, a particularly controversial position within the black church.”

Freeman tells us: ‘“If picking up Dr. King's mantle, in the end, was something of an impossible task, both of them described a relationship that was truly a partnership. "I think on many points she educated me," Dr. King once said.

“And Coretta never veered from the conviction, expressed throughout her life, that his dream was hers as well. "I didn't learn my commitment from Martin," she once told an interviewer. "We just converged at a certain time."

After Coretta’s death, Barbara A. Reynolds, a long-time friend of Coretta, remarked: “As we celebrate the life of Coretta Scott King, let us celebrate her as she saw herself: a woman of substance, a partner in ‘the dream,’ a freedom fighter in her own right who institutionalized the memory of Dr. King for all people for generations to come.”’

The commitment of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King to the cause of equal rights for all humanity continues to speak to us in 2008. On the one hand, Americans can celebrate a presidential campaign unusual for the diversity of the candidates who have participated so far, including Barack Obama, an African-American; Bill Richardson, a Hispanic; Mitt Romney, a Mormon, and Hillary Clinton, a woman. Candidates also offer a diversity of age from Obama at 46 to John McCain at 71.

We most certainly celebrate the diversity among our candidates – Democrats have spoken of an embarrassment of riches - but on the other hand, we have cause for grief. It’s saddening to read an article comparing the frequency of misogynist attacks against Hillary Clinton to the number of racist slurs against Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign. This tells us what a long way Americans have yet to go to overcome the twin evils of misogyny and racism in a nation some continue to describe as “a shining city on a hill,” begging the question, for whom?

Jonathan Tilove, author of the article mentioned above, observes:
“In the coming months, America will decide whether to elect its first female president. And amid a techno-media landscape where the wall between private vitriol and public debate has been reduced to rubble, Sen. Hillary Clinton is facing an onslaught of open misogynistic expression.

“Step lightly through that thickly settled province of the Web you could call anti-Hillaryland,” Tilove warns, “and you are soon knee-deep in "bitch," "slut," "skank," "whore" and, ultimately, what may be the most toxic four-letter word in the English language.

In all fairness, it must also be noted that for Obama, racism has not been the only evil he has faced in this campaign. Religious bigotry has also reared its ugly head to plague both Obama, a member of the United Church of Christ, and Mitt Romney, a member of The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I believe it was Republican candidate Huckabee who asked if Mormons were Christians.

An out of state friend of mine has contacted me twice in recent weeks for help in responding to email attacks accusing Obama of being a Muslim and challenging his loyalty to this nation. In response, I’ve done the necessary research and sent my friend material for effective rebuttal. It's the Unitarian-Universalist thing to do. As noted earlier, numbers one and two of our seven principles emphasize the inherent worth and dignity of every person and justice, equality and compassion in human relations.

In addition to racism, misogyny, and religious bigotry, we’ve also been exposed to ageism in the 2008 campaign. At the age of 68, I wince when I come across a reader’s comment in the blogosphere referring to Hillary Clinton as an old hag and airily dismissing the efforts made by my generation - which incidentally includes Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King - on behalf of human rights in the 60s and 70s.

Our struggles helped make possible the advances members of the present generation now appear to take for granted, and we still have a ways to go. For example, it’s no secret that women still earn less than men for work of equal value.

As we mark Martin Luther King Day tomorrow, we are reminded that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited all kinds of discrimination based on race, color, religion, or national origin; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects individuals against employment discrimination on the basis of gender as well.

Passed three years later, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age.

The Civil Rights Act and The Age Discrimination in Employment Act have been in force for over forty years. As the 2008 presidential campaign has unfolded; however, it has become tragically apparent that vestiges of the evils of all forms of discrimination continue to linger in the hearts of too many American citizens. As faithful Unitarian-Universalists, inspired by the example set by Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King, we have our work cut out for us.

See video of Clinton’s and McCain’s Victory Speeches

Go here to see the video in the Washington Post of Clinton’s victory speech following her win in yesterday's Nevada Democratic caucus and McCain’s victory speech following his win in South Carolina’s Republican primary.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Analysis of Clinton’s Nevada Win

Photo credit: Associated Press

Sam Stein’s analysis of Hillary Clinton’s win in the Nevada caucus in today’s Huffington Post relies on indications from entrance polls showing her support from several groups thought to have been solidly behind Obama.

The breakdown according to most important issues:

Iraq War: Clinton 44%; Obama 39%

Electability: Clinton 46%; Obama 35%

Clinton also received support from a majority of those who described themselves ideologically as moderate to conservative.

Latino voters supported Clinton over Obama by 64% to 24%.

Obama received more votes than Clinton among younger voters, African-Americans, independents, and those voters who said the top quality in a candidate was his ability to bring change.

Clinton Projected Winner in Nevada

With 52% of the vote in from the Nevada Democratic Caucus, CNN just projected Hillary Clinton the winner. Clinton had 2728 votes for 52% compared to Barrack Obama's 2344 votes for 44%. Edwards was a distant third with 4% of the vote.
Mitt Romney won the Republican caucus.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Media Accountability for Wrongdoing?!!

Take the word of Carl Jeffers writing for the Huffington Post: MSNBC’s Chris Matthews is not the only representative of the media who should be called to account for their disdainful treatment of Hillary Clinton.

Jeffers reminds us:

“After the New Hampshire primary, the media spent a great deal of time analyzing the unpredicted and surprising comeback victory of Hillary Clinton. Indeed, in retrospect, that victory will be seen as even more important than realized as the day of the primary, some pundits were confidently analyzing what the role of Jesse Jackson would be in the seemingly certain to be Obama administration.”

But hold on - Jeffers has even stronger words for the media:

“First, in the post-primary universal acknowledgment of the fact that Hillary had been "savaged" by the media and the press, no one really touched on why she was savaged, criticized and basically attacked by the media to a far greater extent than any other candidate on either side, Democrat or Republican. The fact is, there was almost an implicit "license to kill" that was issued to everyone in the media with no review, monitoring or renewal requirements. It was open-ended and unlimited in scope. And the reason this activity was allowed to go on essentially without interruption or question before the voters spoke was because there were no recriminations or penalties to be incurred by anyone who engaged in this activity, regardless of how tasteless, unfair or unsubstantiated the actual activity might be.”

The New Hampshire voters, Jeffers explains, restored fairness to the process:

“But the enthusiasm and literal glee with which the media went after Hillary Clinton aroused a new policeman on the block designed to restore fairness -- the voters themselves. And the voters, the new policeman on the block, rode in on the night of the primary, handcuffed the media, read them the riot act, and then proceeded to put them on probation and an extended community service sentence. And even opponents of Hillary Clinton were thankful for this new late entry of recrimination and accountability for the unbalanced unleashed forces of anti-Hillarism that had raged unchecked throughout the land for weeks on end.”

Jeffers concludes his post by shaming the media for offering mea culpas for the Hillary bashing without taking any personal responsibility for their part in it. Does that surprise anyone?

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews Apologizes for Misogynist Attack on Hillary Clinton

Photo credits: Capitol Area Progressives

MediaMatters.Org, the watchdog that calls the media to account for reporting erroneous or misleading information, recently published the rambling, self-justifying attempt made by MSNBC Hardball’s Chris Matthews to apologize for just one of his many chronic misogynist attacks on Hillary Clinton. MediaMatters explains:

“In the January 17 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews addressed the firestorm sparked by his comment about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) that "the reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around. That's how she got to be senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn't win there on her merit."

Here’s a quote from Matthews’ nearly incoherent apology:

“Some people whom I respect, politically concerned people like you who watch this show so faithfully every night, people like me who care about this country, think I've been disrespectful to Hillary Clinton, not as a candidate, but as a woman.”

He goes on to admit the error of his ways:

“The truth of course is finer, smarter, larger than that. Yes, Hillary Clinton won tremendous respect from the country for the way she handled those difficult months in 1998. Her public approval numbers spiked from the mid-40s up to the 70s in one poll I looked at.

“Why? Because she stuck to her duty; she performed strongly as first lady. She did such a wow of a job campaigning for Senate candidates, especially Chuck Schumer of New York, that she was urged to run for a Senate seat there herself. She might have well gotten that far by another route and through different circumstances, but this is how it happened.

“The rest is history: how Hillary went up to New York, listened to peoples' concerns, and beat the odds, as well as the Republicans, to become a respected member of the U.S. Senate.”

Read More

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Clinton Hits the Jackpot in Las Vegas Debate

Candidates Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards sat around a table at the Cashman Center in Las Vegas this evening for a civil and substantive two-hour debate.

In the opening round, Tim Russert failed in several attempts to bait Obama and Clinton on race issues that had arisen in the past few days. The two had earlier declared a truce, which they respected throughout the evening. Obama took the opportunity to acknowledge publicly that both Clinton and Edwards are long-time, dedicated supporters of civil rights.

All three candidates comported themselves well, providing detailed answers to policy questions. Clinton starred when the candidates were given the opportunity to question one another. She asked Obama if he would be willing to co-sponsor legislation to restrain President Bush from making a prolonged commitment of American resources in Iraq, and Obama graciously agreed to help her.

Clinton was obviously the most experienced and well prepared in discussing both foreign policy and domestic concerns. She hit the jackpot for the most presidential performance.

Clinton Maintains Solid Lead in Latest National Polls

An average of the latest national polls for the Democratic presidential nomination shows Hillary Clinton leading Obama by 9.8 points. The numbers below show Clinton's lead over Obama in each poll:

USA Today/Gallup: 12.0
CBS News/NY Times: 15.0
ABC/Wash Post: 5.0
CNN: 13.0
Rasmussen (Mon) 4 day tracking: 4.0

Monday, January 14, 2008

Krugman's Economics 101: Clinton Knows What She’s Talking About; Obama Leans Right

Photo credits: AP

Reminding readers of the potential for a recession, Paul Krugman, professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University, critiques what the leading candidates have to say about economic policy in his op-ed column in today’s NY Times. Below are abbreviated versions of Krugman’s responses to each candidate's economic proposal (to read his original column, go here):


But shouldn’t we worry about a candidate who’s so out of touch that he regards Mr. Bubble {Greenspan}, the man who refused to regulate subprime lending and assured us that there was at most some “froth” in the housing market, as a source of sage advice?


...his answer to the economy’s short-run problems is a huge permanent tax cut, which he claims would pay for itself. It wouldn’t.


...well, what can you say about a candidate who talks populist while proposing to raise taxes on the middle class and cut them for the rich?


He’s still offering nothing but standard-issue G.O.P. pablum about low taxes and a pro-business environment.


...he proposed a stimulus package including aid to unemployed workers, aid to cash-strapped state and local governments, public investment in alternative energy, and other measures.


Last week Hillary Clinton offered a broadly similar {to Edwards’} but somewhat larger proposal. (It also includes aid to families having trouble paying heating bills, which seems like a clever way to put cash in the hands of people likely to spend it.) The Edwards and Clinton proposals both contain provisions for bigger stimulus if the economy worsens.

And you have to say that Mrs. Clinton seems comfortable with and knowledgeable about economic policy. I’m sure the Hillary-haters will find some reason that’s a bad thing, but there’s something to be said for presidents who know what they’re talking about.


The Obama campaign’s initial response to the latest wave of bad economic news was, I’m sorry to say, disreputable: Mr. Obama’s top economic adviser claimed that the long-term tax-cut plan the candidate announced months ago is just what we need to keep the slump from “morphing into a drastic decline in consumer spending.” Hmm: claiming that the candidate is all-seeing, and that a tax cut originally proposed for other reasons is also a recession-fighting measure — doesn’t that sound familiar?

Anyway, on Sunday Mr. Obama came out with a real stimulus plan. As was the case with his health care plan, which fell short of universal coverage, his stimulus proposal is similar to those of the other Democratic candidates, but tilted to the right.

Krugman concludes with an appropriate jab at the superficiality of media coverage of the 2008 campaign:

In short, the stimulus debate offers a pretty good portrait of the men and woman who would be president. And I haven’t said a word about their hairstyles.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The False Dichotomy Between Experience and Change

It takes experience to make change happen.

A lesson I’ve learned repeatedly over the years is that whenever a dichotomy arises, it almost always turns out to be false. Maybe that’s why I appreciate the recent conclusion reached by the Christian Science Monitor that the overall lesson learned in New Hampshire is that voters reject the dichotomy between change vs. experience, and value both.

But before reaching that conclusion, the Monitor noted:

“The candidate of "experience," Hillary Clinton, found the campaign experience had more to teach her. The candidate of "change," Barack Obama, felt a gust of change as runner-up. They now head to new contests, made wiser by voters who defied Iowa's results and the polls.”

I would add that in the run-up to New Hampshire, Clinton had said repeatedly that it takes experience to make change happen.

The Monitor also pointed out that “On the GOP side, too, New Hampshire's campaign and results seemed to humble the leading candidates, leaving the remaining primaries refreshingly still up for grabs in both parties.”

The lesson for the media in New Hampshire, the Monitor suggested, is to hereafter restrain the impulse to celebrate a victor and trounce a loser on the basis of poll numbers – at least have the grace to wait until the votes have been counted.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hand Recount of New Hampshire Primary Votes Begins Next Wednesday

In the Caucus (NY Times) today, Michael Falcone reports the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office will conduct a hand recount of the votes in both the Republican and Democratic primaries starting next Wednesday. The Secretary of State’s office has received requests for a recount from Republican candidate, Albert Howard of Michigan, and Democratic candidate, Dennis Kucinich, of Ohio.

Clinton In Las Vegas: “No Woman Is Illegal”

Photo credits: Associated Press

Today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal, features an article by Molly Ball on Hillary Clinton’s trek through a Las Vegas neighborhood knocking on doors and talking to people in a predominantly Hispanic and black neighborhood:

“There was nobody who didn't know who the Democratic presidential candidate and former first lady was, even if they didn't speak English or weren't old enough to vote. They flocked to her for camera-phone pictures, and she posed in a tableaux of adorable multicultural children.”

Ball reports that while Clinton was taking questions from people standing in front of a garage door, a man shouted through an opening in the wall that his wife was illegal. Hillary received cheers from the crowd when she replied, “No woman is illegal.”

In an interview apparently sandwiched in at a restaurant between conversations with neighborhood people, Clinton compared her record to Obama’s:

"He was a part-time state senator for a few years, and then he came to the Senate and immediately started running for president," she said. "And that's his prerogative. That's his right. But I think it is important to compare and contrast our records."

When Ball asked her whether or not she had the power to inspire people, Clinton replied:

"I've inspired lots of people to get involved in these elections who've never been involved before. I feel very proud of the inspiration that I am. People tell me all the time that I'm a role model, I'm their hero; and I'm very proud of that. But you know, when the cameras go away, when the reporters finally get to go home, when the lights are down, what matters is who the leader really is. And we face a lot of problems in our country that are not going to be solved by a speech, no matter how eloquent or passionately delivered."

Ball relates the following incident on the way out of the restaurant - important because the Culinary Workers Union recently endorsed Obama:

“Ruben Beltran, 53, was carrying a ‘Culinary Workers for Hillary’ sign. {The Culinary Workers Union has endorsed Obama.} He didn't know where it came from; someone had given it to him.

“Beltran said he was not worried about going against his union leadership.

"’People know that Hillary is the best choice for real,’" he said. "’They try to confuse the workers, but the workers are smarter.’"

To read the original article, go here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Take That! All You Hillary Haters

( Photo credit: AP)
In her post titled “Iron This,” Taylor Marsh skewers those who were leading the rush to declare Hillary Clinton’s demise prior to her win in New Hampshire:

“They said it couldn't be done.

“The momentum was just too strong.

“They said she was through when she hadn't even begun to fight.

“But on one January night, at this defining moment in history, Clinton did what the pollsters, the pundits, Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman, insert fifty other names of white men here, all her supporters, her own staff, likely Bill Clinton, not to mention everyone else, didn't believe would ever happen. One woman turned a much rumored, written and blathered about double digit Obama Blowout into a victory that left the entire punditocracy sucking their own wind back through the pie hole from which they spewed their sexist, venomous, biased, good old boy baloney day after day, night after night, week after week for it seems an eternity, which only got worse once Mr. Obama had one win -- one -- under his belt.”

Crediting primarily women and blue collar workers for Clinton’s victory, Marsh calls to account “the pundits, the polls, the traditional media, and everyone else, including the blogosphere for the “misogynistic spectacle large enough to plug a vocano” that erupted prior to the New Hampshire primary.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Polls and Pundits Were Wrong: Clinton Defeats Obama in New Hampshire

The polls were nearly unanimous in predicting a double-digit win for Obama over Clinton today in New Hampshire. And if you’re a news junkie like me, you’d heard enough from media pundits to last a lifetime as they shook their heads and made condescending remarks about Clinton for the past 24 hours.

I once relied on PBS’ News Hour for balanced and fair political coverage. Yesterday, I heard Jim Lehrer, with his crooked half smile, sardonically refer to Clinton’s moment of “weakness” in the restaurant when her eyes momentarily welled up as she explained to her listeners that her campaign was not just political, but very personal for her.

You probably wouldn’t understand, Mr. Lehrer, but that was a moment of strength for Hillary Clinton that made winning the New Hampshire primary all the more meaningful. It was a tight race, but Clinton maintained her lead of 3 or 4 percentage points over runner-up Obama throughout the evening with John Edwards remaining 17 points behind in third place. For full New Hampshire primary results, go here.

There was no gloating on Clinton’s part in her victory speech tonight as she mentioned warmly the other candidates and thanked her family members and hundreds of supporters gathered at her campaign headquarters in New Hampshire. But make no mistake. She was clearly charged up for the long road ahead to the presidency where we all know she'll continue to work her heart out for the country she holds dear.

Gloria Steinem Speaks Out Against Sexism in 2008 Campaign

Photo credits: CBS News

After the “Iron my shirt!” incident at a Clinton campaign event last night in New Hampshire, Gloria Steinem’s op-ed in today’s New York Times was a much-needed lift to the morale of any self-respecting woman.

For me personally, Steinem’s article titled Women Are Never Front-Runners was like a chance encounter with an old friend from the trenches of the second wave of the feminist movement a couple of decades ago.

I’ve met Steinem in person two or three times over the years, but the occasion I remember most vividly was a 1980 gathering in Chicago of over 90,000 supporters to march on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment. The event was coordinated by Jane Byrne, the first woman mayor of Chicago, who was joined in Grant Park by Steinem, Marlow Thomas, Ellie Smeal, and other feminist leaders.

Years later, Steinem’s words still have the power to stir both the mind and the heart. She began her op-ed today with a leap of imagination followed by challenging her readers to be honest:

“THE woman in question became a lawyer after some years as a community organizer, married a corporate lawyer and is the mother of two little girls, ages 9 and 6. Herself the daughter of a white American mother and a black African father — in this race-conscious country, she is considered black — she served as a state legislator for eight years, and became an inspirational voice for national unity.

“Be honest: Do you think this is the biography of someone who could be elected to the United States Senate? After less than one term there, do you believe she could be a viable candidate to head the most powerful nation on earth?”

After giving her reasons for supporting Hillary Clinton in this election, Steinem listed her worries about the 2008 campaign, worries that we should all pause to carefully consider:

”But what worries me is that he is seen as unifying by his race while she is seen as divisive by her sex.

“What worries me is that she is accused of “playing the gender card” when citing the old boys’ club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations.

“What worries me is that male Iowa voters were seen as gender-free when supporting their own, while female voters were seen as biased if they did and disloyal if they didn’t.

“What worries me is that reporters ignore Mr. Obama’s dependence on the old — for instance, the frequent campaign comparisons to John F. Kennedy — while not challenging the slander that her progressive policies are part of the Washington status quo.

“What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age.

That’s a lot to worry about.

Having noted earlier that if Obama is the Democratic nominee, she’ll support him, Steinem concluded:

“This country can no longer afford to choose our leaders from a talent pool limited by sex, race, money, powerful fathers and paper degrees. It’s time to take equal pride in breaking all the barriers. We have to be able to say: ‘I’m supporting her because she’ll be a great president and because she’s a woman.’”

Monday, January 7, 2008

In Salem, New Hampshire, Clinton Triumphs Over Sexist Rabble Rouser

Speaking of sexism, Sarah Wheaton, Caucus (NY Times) posted an item a few minutes ago about a man who interrupted Hillary Clinton by standing up in the middle of a crowded high school auditorium and yelling repeatedly, “Iron my Shirt!”

After the shirt man and a companion were removed, Clinton noted that sexism is still alive and well, and she reminded her audience that she’s also running to break through the highest and hardest glass ceiling.

According to the article, Clinton received a standing ovation from the cheering crowd.

Neocon Bill Kristol Thanks Obama!

Photo credits: Reuters

Kristol's subtext: “Americans.are.ready.for.a.likable.regular.American.guy.”

Bill Kristol, a neocon from the Weekly Standard, began his career as an op-ed columnist for the New York Times with a salute to Barrack Obama, subject of several earlier fawning columns by David Brooks (NY Times, here and here), Andrew Sullivan (Atlantic), and Karl Rove (Newsweek).

I have to admit, though, Kristol was far more upfront about his motives than the other members of Obama’s neocon fan club were in their clever treatises.

Here’s Kristol’s lead paragraph:

“Thank you, Senator Obama. You’ve defeated Senator Clinton in Iowa. It looks as if you’re about to beat her in New Hampshire. There will be no Clinton Restoration. A nation turns its grateful eyes to you.”

But after acknowledging that gratitude only goes so far, Kristol continues:

“Who, inquiring minds want to know, is going to spare us a first Obama term? After all, for all his ability and charm, Barack Obama is still a liberal Democrat. Some of us would much prefer a non-liberal and non-Democratic administration. We don’t want to increase the scope of the nanny state, we don’t want to undo the good done by the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, and we really don’t want to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory in Iraq.”

Kristol meanders his way to the conclusion that “After the last two elections, featuring the well-born George Bush and Al Gore and John Kerry, Americans even Republicans! — are ready for a likable regular guy.”

Just in case it didn’t sink in, the worthy right-wing Mr. Kristol said: “Americans.are.ready.for.a.likable.regular.guy.” That is to say, Americans are not yet ready for the most qualified candidate running, who just happens to be a woman, Sen. Hillary Clinton.

In conclusion, envisioning a general election face-off between Huckabee and Obama, Kristol offered this reminder to his Times readers: “the fact is that the Republican establishment spent 2007 underestimating Mike Huckabee. If Huckabee does win the nomination, it would be amusing if Democrats made the same mistake in 2008.”

If you wish to read Kristol’s complete inaugural column at the NY Times, go here.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Hillary Clinton Stars in New Hampshire Debate

I just watched the Democrats debate in New Hampshire this evening. In a very real way, Edwards and Obama appeared as youthful novices in government, arrogantly proclaiming big generic changes; whereas, Richardson and Clinton came across as candidates of experience with extensive records of major changes they’ve actually achieved and the know how and work ethic to continue to do so.

In their early remarks, both Edwards and Obama brought up familiar lines of attack against Clinton, although they avoided mentioning her name. As usual, Obama pushed the fact that he opposed the Iraq War from day one without mentioning that he was not a member of the U. S. Senate at the time the war resolution was passed. He also failed to note that after he was elected to the Senate, he voted for funding the war.

In Clinton's response to her antagonists, she interjected a reference to George W. Bush, by reminding the audience that the inexperienced Bush was elected on his likeability – “someone you’d like to have a beer with” - and that he ran on promises to unite the country and bring about big changes to Washington.

Clinton confronted Edwards and Obama, the two self-proclaimed “agents of change,” by declaring that passionate words aren’t enough. And as she has throughout the campaign, she offered concrete suggestions for addressing both major foreign policy issues and domestic problems, including the potential economic crisis facing our country.

If you didn’t know it before this debate, you do now: Clinton is the candidate best prepared to lead America into the future.

The debate can be seen online on the WMUR site.

1/5/08: Clinton Holds Lead in Latest New Hampshire Tracking Poll

"Democrat Hillary Clinton held even and retained a slight edge against the advancing Barack Obama in the wake of Obama’s win in Iowa, the latest Reuters/C–SPAN/Zogby telephone tracking poll of likely New Hampshire primary voters shows.

"Democrat John Edwards also remained steady at 20%, well back of Clinton but within striking distance."

The Pathological Projections of Maureen Dowd, et al, Onto Hillary Clinton

Photo Credits: Segar/Reuters

In an earlier post, I mentioned a comment made by Benazir Bhutto in an interview published in New York Magazine last October. Commiserating with Hillary Clinton, Bhutto said: “I had a lot of support among ordinary women. But women in leadership positions could sometimes be competitive. Those who’d achieved a lot could be my sharpest critics.”

I’ve personally noticed that prolonged attacks on Hillary by influential women - especially one or two in the media - have gone beyond mere competiveness. It’s become obvious that Clinton is doubly resented by her female critics for having achieved a lot in her own right and for having kept her marriage and family together through it all.

David Fiderer’s well-written essay in today’s Huffington Post focuses on New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s projections of her stuff onto Hillary.

Fiderer nails Dowd in her opening gambit 12/23/07: “Just when I thought I was out, the Clintons pull me back into their conjugal psychodrama."

Fiderer replies: “They pull you back in? Sorry, dear, you're projecting again. Since Labor Day, about half of your columns have been devoted to trashing Hillary. And it's the old crap over and over. No kidding, it's really obsessional.”

To Dowd’s charge that “Without nepotism, Hillary would be running for the president of Vassar." 9/30/07, Fiderer says:

“Right. And what would Christopher Dodd be doing? Or Elizabeth Dole? Or Teddy Kennedy? Or Cokie Roberts? But for nepotism, who would have ever heard of Indira Ghandi? But for nepotism, Katherine Graham had no material to write a book that won the Pulitzer Prize, Margaret Chase Smith would have been an obscure housewife and Donald Trump would have been a real estate agent in Queens.

“Get over it and get a life, Maureen.”

For balance, Fiderer responds to a few attacks on Hillary by the likes of Andrew Sullivan and Carl Bernstein.

Andrew Sullivan: “[Senator Clinton] harkens back to the '90s. I think she's been a very sensible senator. I think, in fact, it's hard to disagree with her on the war. But when I see her again, all my--all the cootie vibes sort of resurrect themselves...I'm sorry. I must represent a lot of people... I actually find her positions appealing in many ways. I just can't stand her." Andrew Sullivan on The Chris Matthews Show, January 28, 2007

Fiderer: “Hillary resurrects cootie vibes? Seven years ago, Sullivan gained notoriety as a menace to public health, when, as an HIV-positive man, he placed an ad soliciting unprotected anal intercourse with strangers. Yet when he harkens back to that time, he associates Senator Clinton with the slang word for body lice.

“He {Sullivan} finds her positions appealing in many ways but he just can't stand her. Hmm. Doesn't sound very rational. Maybe he can't stand to admit that his writings in support of the Bush administration have all been discredited. Maybe he can't deal with the fact that he shares positions with people he attacked with vitriolic fervor a few years earlier. And maybe he projects on to Senator Clinton his own personal hypocrisy.”

Friday, January 4, 2008

Clinton Holds Solid Lead in New Hampshire

But First some practical results from the Iowa Caucus:

An AP analysis of the Iowa caucus results showed Obama winning 16 delegates, followed by Clinton with 15 and Edwards with 14. Keep in mind that in the overall race for delegates, Clinton leads with 175, followed by Obama with 75 and Edwards with 46.

This just in:

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) - According to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Friday:

Hillary Clinton led Illinois Sen. Obama 32 percent to 26 percent among likely voters in the state's Democratic primary. Former Sen. John Edwards, the runner-up in Iowa, was at 20 percent, and no other Democrat was in double digits.

Among Republicans in New Hampshire, Arizona Sen. McCain holds an early four-point edge on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 34 percent to 30 percent.

Read More:

Obama’s Lofty Generic Promises Versus Clinton’s Can-Do Specifics

Photo Credits: AP

Last night’s score in Iowa reflected the tight race of earlier polls: Obama 37; Edwards 30; and Clinton 29. As predicted, a heavy influx of out of state students and a crossover of Republicans gave Obama the boost he needed.

And according to entrance polls, Iowans preferred Obama’s lofty promises of generic change to Clinton’s list of specifics where she knows from experience that changes are most needed.

The battle for New Hampshire lies immediately ahead and in her farewell to Iowa last night, Hillary Clinton left no doubt she’s in it to win it.

In her analysis of what’s next, the AP’s Beth Fouhy, begins: “Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton — welcome to New Hampshire, where you each face the biggest test of your political lives.”

Fouhy notes that “Obama goes into this state's compressed contest with a target on his back — a situation he has managed to avoid throughout his career in politics. She quotes Democratic strategist Dan Newman: "Obama, through an unprecedented convergence of luck and skill, has never before faced serious attack delivered by a competent opponent. He's now earned the right to be mercilessly scrubbed and scrutinized. No one knows how he'll respond to the challenge, and how voters will evaluate the criticism."

Fouhy follows up with this quote from Clinton’s senior strategist Mark Penn: "He {Obama} talks about change but has no real record of making change."

Read More:

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Obama Attracts Republicans: MSM and Netroots React

I've been saying it for weeks: big name neocon media gurus have backed Obama ever since David Brooks wrote that famous column in '06 titled "Run Barrack Run," giving Obama his main talking points in this campaign.

Now the pollsters are arguing that Obama will win in Iowa by attracting independents and Republicans in tomorrow's caucus.

Markos in the Daily Kos isn't having any of it, and the Washington Post has picked up on the uproar in the blogosphere:

"Sen. Barack Obama, as The Post reported today, may be attracting Republican and Independent voters to his campaign through a stump speech that reaches out beyond his Democratic base. But the netroots, as the liberal blogosphere likes to call itself, is none too pleased with Obama's strategy. And Obama's getting pummeled."

It's about time the MSM and the netroots woke up and smelled the coffee regarding Obama's "experience doesn't matter; I've got intuition, etc." campaign forecast in detail by David Brooks in the New York Times over a year ago.

See Hillary's Final Iowa Ad on YouTube Video Bar

View Hillary Clinton's final pre-caucus ad running in Iowa today on the YouTube video shown in the sidebar on the right of this page. Click on the video itself - not the YouTube logo.

A Scary Pre-Caucus Analysis of What Drives Voters at the Huffington Post and Second Thoughts About Obama at the Daily Kos

In a scary pre-caucus analysis titled Iowa: It's Emotions, Stupid! published in today’s Huffington Post, Peter Emerson and Michael Maslansky predict:

“It will not be the experience of a candidate; it will be the emotion of the voter that decides this election. New studies of the brain by neuroscientists and psychiatrists prove that emotions trump logic.”

In supporting their case, Emerson and Maslansky point first to the “likeability” factor in the two previous elections that helped Dubya, the guy you’d most like to have a beer with,” defeat first Gore and then Kerry.

If the Emerson and Maslansky analysis is correct, America will continue on the dangerous course set by Dubya by choosing Obama, the candidate registering higher on emotional appeal than support for his qualifications for the presidency.

But one well known voter is taking a step back from his earlier support of Obama: in today’s Daily Kos, Markos shares second thoughts about the candidate he’d previously endorsed:

"You know, I was going to vote for Obama and even announced that a week or so ago. But this is a great example of why it's best to wait and see how things shake out. Not being blinded by candidate worship, it's easier to sniff out the bullshit. And you have to have your head stuck deep in the sand to deny that Obama is trying to close the deal by running to the Right of his opponents. And call me crazy, but that's not a trait I generally appreciate in Democrats, no matter how much it might set the punditocracy's hearts a flutter.

"I don't get to vote for another month, so we'll see how the next four weeks go. Certainly none of these guys have earned my vote yet.

"Amazingly enough, none of them walk on water, no matter what their frenzied supporters might think."

That's a good thought to keep in mind as the Iowa count down begins.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Pakistan Election Long Seen as Face-Off Between Party Leaders

In response to Politico's recent accusation that Hillary Clinton erred on Pakistan in recent appearances on CNN and ABC, a quick scan of the news coverage in Pakistan before and after Benizir Bhutto’s death, makes clear the upcoming election was widely considered a face-off between Musharraf and Bhutto.

For example, Reuters/Canada reported yesterday:

“Western nations appealed for calm and sporadic violence erupted in the southern city of Hyderabad. Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party said it would take part in the elections despite the loss of its leader.

"A spokeswoman said any postponement would help the PPP's opponents. The other main opposition party said it would also take part despite earlier threats of a boycott.

"A former ruling party official said the election was likely to be delayed for up to two months but Musharraf opponents said postponement would deliver a political advantage to his supporters.”

Happy New Year to All

Looking out at the courtyard from my fourth-floor apartment windows in St. Paul this New Year’s morning, I see clearing skies above rooftops blanketed with snow.

Indoors, I'm still cheered by Christmas lights and a display of cards from friends and loved ones.

That's despite the fact that I went to bed last night knowing the results of the Des Moines Register's poll giving Obama a seven-point lead over Clinton. The good news this morning is that with the release of CNN's poll, Real Clear Politics shows Clinton maintaining a slim lead of 1.6 over Obama and Edwards in an average of all recent Iowa polls.

I’ve been so caught up in Campaign 2008, especially the continuing tight race among Democratic candidates in Iowa, that I’ve not given much thought to New Year’s resolutions.

Echoing in my mind is a comment a friend made a couple of years ago about a lesson she’d learned from her cancer support group: “You can’t even scratch your nose in the past or the future; the present is all you’ve got.”

Here’s the deal: the present moment is all that belongs to any of us, a reality that makes resolutions for the coming year an iffy practice to begin with.

Nevertheless, based on the familiar advice to be the change we want to make, I do have one resolution in mind. I’ve heard a lot of complaints lately about the corruption in Washington with leading candidates promising to clean up the current mess.

God knows I’ve done my share of complaining about the moral bankruptcy of the Bush Administration.

Speaking of the deity, I’m reminded of the biblical teaching that if we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves.

Perhaps, we should all resolve this time around to be the change we'd like to see our political leaders make by acknowledging our own shortcomings and checking up on ourselves daily to make sure we're practicing what we preach about standards of personal and professional conduct.

Paying attention to feedback from family, friends, and neighbors will undoubtedly help us here.

But as we go our way, let's not forget to give ourselves due credit as well.

Clinton Maintains Slim Lead in Average of Latest Iowa Polls

Photo credits: Associated Press

The Iowa caucus lies straight ahead this Thursday, and RealClearPolitics shows Hillary Clinton maintaining a slim lead of 1.6 points in an average of the latest polls covering the period of 12/26 to 12/30.

The RCP average includes the following polls:

Poll: Spread
Des Moines Register 12/27 - 12/30: Obama +7.0
CNN 12/26 - 12/30: Clinton +2.0
Insider Advantage 12/28 - 12/29: Clinton +1.0
American Res. Group 12/26 - 12/28: Clinton +7.0
Mason-Dixon 12/26 - 12/28: Edwards +1.0
Strategic Vision (R) 12/26 - 12/27: Obama +1.0
Quad City Times 12/26 - 12/27: Tie
ReutersC-Span/Zogby Tues Tracking: Clinton +4.0

RealClearPolitics shows Clinton maintaining a comfortable lead of 19.2 points in an average of national polls for the Democratic Presidential nominee.