Monday, June 30, 2008

Flashback: Benazir Bhutto’s Advice to Hillary and Bill Clinton

The punditry’s continuing hypocrisy in its coverage of Bill Clinton in the 2008 campaign can only be described as disgraceful. I’m reminded of an interview with the late Benazir Bhutto published in New York Magazine last October.

Speaking to Jennifer Senior, Bhutto offered some advice to Hillary Clinton who was then on the campaign trail. Her words to Hillary now seem prescient on such topics as whether or not to portray her “nurturing” side, responding to criticism of her clothes, and dealing with the attacks from other women in power - I’m thinking of the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Arianna Huffington, and Maureen Dowd.

Bhutto also had some advice for Bill: “All I can tell him is that either way, you won’t win. Not if you disappear and not if you’re there campaigning. He’ll have to go by his instincts.”

Bhutto’s comment nailed it. The media caricatured the former president throughout the Democratic primary, blatantly targeting him at times in order to shaft Hillary. This first became apparent shortly after Hillary humiliated the punditry by winning in New Hampshire despite its predictions of an Obama sweep.

Even while choking on apologies for having already attempted to force Hillary out of the race, the media’s next viral non-story was an absurd distortion of Bill’s comments about Obama’s deceptive presentation of his early opposition to the Iraq War resolution, seldom bothering to mention the senate vote occurred before he was elected to the U.S. Senate. Bill additionally sinned in the media’s eyes by correctly pointing out that Obama’s votes on war-related matters have since been identical to Hillary’s.

Thereafter, the media routinely ridiculed Bill as he stumped for Hillary, seldom mentioning that he was instrumental in several of her big wins toward the end of the Democratic primary, even before the late Tim Russert, now spoken of as “his holiness,” had declared Obama the nominee.

Over at CBS, Bob Schieffer, posing as a licensed psychotherapist, suggested that Bill might be deliberately trying to undermine Hillary’s campaign.

The media became increasingly infantile as the campaign wore on, obviously unable to cope with the unnerving success of a strong, competent, and electrifying female candidate who, in spite of the unrelenting assault of sexism and misogyny, would ultimately win the popular vote in the Democratic primary.

Lately, Obama has had to face the reality that so far only 56% of Hillary’s 18 million supporters have fallen in line behind him as the presumptive nominee; hence, the sweetness and light of the Unity event in New Hampshire that appears to have been made noteworthy by the absence of guess who? Former President Bill Clinton.

Our ever astute punditry has been toying publicly with the notion that just maybe Bill was still upset about the Obama campaign’s over-the-top efforts to label him a racist and the repeated attacks on the legacy of his administration. Really, what was there for Bill to be upset over?

Now for today’s breaking news: Obama was finally able to call Bill and engage in a 20-minute phone conversation with him. The LATimes reports:

‘“Clinton's communications director, Matt McKenna, described the call as ‘a very good conversation’ and said Clinton ‘renewed his offer to do whatever he can to ensure Sen. Obama is our next president. President Clinton continues to be impressed by Senator Obama and the campaign he has run, and looks forward to campaigning for and with him in the months to come.’

‘“Added Obama spokesman Bill Burton: ‘Senator Obama had a terrific conversation with President Clinton and is honored to have his support in this campaign. He has always believed that Bill Clinton is one of this nation's great leaders and most brilliant minds, and looks forward to seeing him on the campaign trail and receiving his counsel in the months to come.’”

Well, as boring as the early weeks of the general election have been without Hillary Clinton’s presence on the trail, I guess the above telephone conversation deserves all the play our dysfunctional, good old boy press corps is giving it.

If you really want to read something interesting, follow the link to the Benazir Bhutto interview in New York Magazine.

I’m Barack Obama, the “whatever you want me to be” candidate

Posting at the PoliGazette this morning, Michael van der Galien, editor-in-chief, takes a look at the phenomenon of the one-time darling of the left-wing, Barack Obama, twisting and turning in the early days of the general election to appeal to as many voters as possible.

Van der Galien begins:

“There’s a fascinating debate going on in the liberal blogosphere about the ideology of Barack Obama. Early on in the primaries most liberal bloggers embraced Obama, believing him to be a truly progressive candidate who could actually win a national election. Quite some of them thought highly of John Edwards but, they feared, he can’t win. Hillary Clinton was considered to be a politician like her husband; much more of a centrist and realist than a progressive idealist.

“But Obama, they thought, was different.

“Sure he may talk about unity, etc., but the change he talked about, they thought, was progressive. The hope was progressive. His entire agenda was progressive.

“So they supported him in big numbers. They helped him win the nomination, and went after his Democratic opponents with a passion normally reserved for Republicans.”

Now comes the Left’s abrupt disillusionment:

“But then, at the very moment he won the nomination, Obama started to change his rhetoric. Suddenly he apologized for using too strong words to describe policies most progressives disagreed with. He backpedaled on NAFTA. He suddenly supported a bill that grants immunity to telecom providers while, only a couple of months ago, he said he would not.”

And the pundits begin to ask questions:

“The result: both Glenn Greenwald and Chris Bowers are wondering whether Obama’s shift to the center is an indication that he may not be as progressive as many thought, or whether he’s simply doing it for pragmatical reasons. Many Democratic strategists, Greenwald explains, believe that a Democrat cannot win if he run as a true progressive; no, he has to shift to the center (Greenwald disagrees with that theory). So, it could very well be that Obama is a progressive at heart, who’s simply lying to moderate voters right now, hoping they will vote for him if they believe him to be one of them, just like progressives believe he’s one of them as well.

“Chris Bowers deals with that view in quite an intelligent manner; there comes a time when you’ve got to take people at their word. Obama has said in the past, and is repeating it nowadays, that he’s not a progressive, but a moderate. A pragmatist. Progressive activists can assume he’s lying, because he wants to win, but they can also start taking Obama at his word; if he’s truly a moderate, well, then progressive activists can expect less ‘progressive change’ from him than they hope(d).”

An interesting debate?

“It’s an interesting debate, but it all boils down to one simple observation I made months ago; Obama will have to disappoint millions of people. He bragged in the past about him being a white sheet, upon which people write whatever they believe. They project themselves on Obama, which is something Obama considers to be a strength. And it is.

“But he seems to have forgotten that it is also a weakness. When you’re a ‘whatever you want me to be’ candidate, people are bound to be disappointed. Why? Because he can’t be all things to everyone once elected. He will have to favor specific policies, he will have to implement specific plans. This means that either moderates or liberals are going to be disappointed.”

The remaining question:

“The only question left right now is how Obama will rule? Like Bill Clinton… or like a progressive version of Ronald Reagan? As Paul Krugman points out, Obama’s rhetoric sounds a whole lot like Clinton’s back in 1992. He’s almost the same kind of candidate. Many progressives hoped that Clinton would be a progressive Reagan but, instead, he ruled like a centrist (pretty much).

“At this moment, I think it’s too early to tell. Obama has a liberal record, a very liberal record even, but he often presents himself as a moderate. But he can’t be both.”

In the meantime, let the debate continue:

“We’ll find out what he is if he wins. Until that time; expect liberals and moderates who support Obama to thoroughly and passionately debate about this subject.”

And as long as we’re engaging in debate, Barack Obama is only the “presumptive” nominee until the delegates have voted. Sign on with the Denver Group in its efforts to make sure that Hillary Clinton’s name is on the ballot August 27 at the Democratic convention. Need I remind you that Hillary is the better qualified candidate?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Antics of Pets While Their Owner’s on the Phone

Photo credits: Melinda Morgan
On this fine Sunday afternoon when all is ready and I’m waiting for my dinner guest to arrive, it occurred to me that Katalusis readers might enjoy a little diversion from politics as usual.

Here’s the deal: When my friend Melinda and I visit long distance on the phone, her pets, Cassidy (the bird) and Jackson (the dog), much like young children, get into all kinds of things. But the day Cassidy, who has his own birdbath, decided to bathe in Jackson’s water dish took the prize. Melinda just happens to be a talented photographer who enjoys photographing animals and in my opinion, the above pics are priceless.

More on Obama’s Sellout to the Right

Now here’s an admission we all need to hear; it’s from Stephen Ducat, posting at – of all places – the Huffington Post:

“OK, we all knew, deep down, that our wondrous golden boy of change would one day reveal his feet of clay. What most of us did not anticipate was just how easily they would fit into jackboots.”

In case you missed it, Ducat’s “golden boy” is Barack Obama, and there’s more to follow on the candidate recently transformed from “change you can believe in” to “whatever change it takes to win.” Here Ducat takes on conventional wisdom, the well-known enemy of progressive thought:

“There has emerged a conventional wisdom among progressives that is not entirely wrong about why Obama has so readily embraced police state surveillance, and why he felt compelled to express his solidarity with Scalia, et al, on the death penalty. As the thinking goes, these moves are simply the expectable, if disheartening, political positioning typical of Democratic presidential candidates, once they enter the general election campaign.”

Ducat continues with a likely GOP ad that would have attacked Obama had he not suddenly shifted to the right:

Low, rumbling, ominous music gradually increases in volume as a solemn voice that oozes manly gravitas announces, "Barack Obama voted against a bill to that would help our intelligence agencies detect terrorist plots against our nation before they can be carried out. Why does he want to protect the privacy of Al-Qaeda's phone calls more than he wants to protect Americans from Al-Qaeda? [Cut to an image of a World Trade Tower falling.] Barack Obama doesn't want the death penalty applied to criminals who sexually assault and brutalize little children. Why does he care more about child rapists [cut to image of a swarthy unshaven convict doing the perp walk] than he does about their victims? [Cut to an image of doe-eyed little blond girl with tears rolling down her apple cheeks, as she lies in an oversized hospital bed holding tightly to her teddy bear.] Barack Obama and his friends at the ACLU care about terrorists and rapists. Vote for John McCain. He cares about us." [As reassuring music swells, cut to an image of a younger looking, photo-shopped McCain in his crisp Naval officer's uniform. One arm is around a child, the other rising in a determined salute to the flag.]

Calling Obama out for his “limited ability to exercise moral leadership,” Ducat offers an alternative ad from the progressive perspective:

The 30-second ad opens on a scene in a middle class suburban kitchen. A mother is speaking on the phone. Her voice is muffled and is drowned out by an intermittent electronic beep, along with the sounds of someone frenetically striking a computer keyboard. The screen quickly splits in half to reveal the woman's nine-year-old daughter speaking by cell phone to inform her mother that she is ready to be picked up from the school bus stop. The screen is then split in thirds to reveal a man wearing headphones sitting in front of a computer typing notes, obviously monitoring the mother-daughter conversation. Behind him is a massive warehouse filled with computers and scurrying NSA technicians. This image then takes up the entire screen. The voiceover says, "Republicans, like George Bush and John McCain, have taken away our freedoms, invaded our private lives, and made us less safe." We then quickly see a succession of images -- a scene from Iraq that features a burning American tank, a scene of grenade launchers being placed into a packing crate, a scene of an unguarded American port where uninspected shipping containers are being off loaded, and finally a scene of a car with blacked out windows slowing down in front of an unsecured nuclear power plant. A window rolls down. A hand holding a camera reaches out to snap photos. Then the car speeds away. The voice over then concludes, "Protecting America means preserving our rights [cut to an image of the Constitution in which the camera scrolls down the Bill of Rights section], along with defeating terrorists." The last image is a scene of Barack Obama standing up and pointing toward a large map of some unidentifiable part of the world. Below him is a large conference table of twenty or so advisors who are listening with rapt attention.

So far so good, but then Ducat concludes: “In spite of his limitations, there is too much at stake to not work hard to make sure Barack Obama moves into the White House. And, once there, we must hold his clay feet to the fire.”

I repeat: Folks, we are not stuck with this obviously flawed candidate; the delegates still have to vote in Denver on August 27.

Keep Hillary Clinton’s name on the ballot!!

Note: To read Ducat’s article in its entirety, Google the title: Understanding Obama's Recent Right Turn+Ducat+Huffington Post (Sorry, I don’t link there).

Does Barack Obama Have Any Core Beliefs?

Photo credits: AP

Obama’s mantra in the Democratic primary was “change you can believe in.” He rode to victory in the Democratic primary as the harbinger of the “new politics,” and the punditry swooned at his feet right along with his intoxicated and predominantly youthful following.

Now the pundits are asking: “Does Barack Obama have any core beliefs?”

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald reminds us that ‘“Bush's ability to project ‘Strength’ came not from advocacy of specific policies, but from his claim to stand by his beliefs even when they were politically unpopular.”’

Greenwald then gets to the point:

‘“For that reason, isn't the perception that Obama is abandoning his own core beliefs -- or, worse, that he has none -- a much greater political danger than a failure to move to the so-called ‘Center’ by suddenly adopting Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies? As a result of Obama's reversal on FISA, his very noticeable change in approach regarding Israel, his conspicuous embrace of the Scalia/Thomas view in recent Supreme Court cases, and a general shift in tone, a very strong media narrative is arising that Obama is abandoning his core beliefs for political gain. That narrative -- that he's afraid to stand by his own beliefs -- appears far more likely to result in a perception that Obama is ‘Weak’ than a refusal to embrace Bush/Cheney national security positions.

Greenwald goes on to question the assumption that GOP positions on major issues are at the center in American politics and he contends:

‘“What's most amazing about the unexamined premise that Democrats must ‘move to the Center’ (i.e., adopt GOP views) is that this is the same advice Democrats have been following over and over and which keeps leading to their abject failure. It's the advice Kerry followed in 2004. It's why Democrats rejected Howard Dean and chose John Kerry instead.”’

Greenwald then mentions an insight from David Sirota recently cited in the Washington Post:

"American voters tend to reward politicians who take clear stands," said David Sirota, a former Democratic aide on Capitol Hill and author of the new populist-themed book "The Uprising." "When Obama takes these mushy positions, it could speak to a character issue. Voters that don't pay a lot of attention look at one thing: 'Does the guy believe in something?' They may be saying the guy is afraid of his own shadow."

During one of her many debates with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton observed, “That’s not change you can believe in; that’s change you can Xerox.”

Obama’s mantra looks a little more tattered around the edges the further we move into the general election - all the more reason to keep Hillary Clinton’s name on the ballot in Denver.

Think about it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Clinton’s Name Must Be on the Ballot at the Democratic Convention

Photo credits: AP

A Katalusis reader recently inquired if I knew of any petitions circulating to keep Hillary Clinton’s name on the ballot at the upcoming Democratic Convention in Denver, as she was interested in signing on. I replied in the negative, but that was before I discovered the Denver Group. As far as I know, the Denver Group has not yet circulated a petition, but it’s about “keeping the Democratic Party democratic,” and its stated goals are as follows:

An open convention: Senator Clinton's name on the ballot

Speeches allowed by supporters of Senator Clinton on behalf of her candidacy.

A roll call vote: No coronation

The Denver Group’s email address: The

The Denver Group describes how it intends to fulfill its goals at

“The primary means for accomplishing our goals will be mass media, both print and TV which will be aimed at Howard Dean and the DNC as well as rousing Democratic voters throughout the country.There will also be efforts in a variety of other appropriate avenues.”

Marc Rubin and Heidi Li Feldman, leaders of the Denver Group, are introduced as follows:

“Marc Rubin who leads the media effort started his career in advertising where he was an award winning art director and writer,working for some of the top agencies in advertising in both New York and Los Angeles, devising both strategy and execution. He has won the AIGA Award for 50 Best Print Ads of the Year and AIGA 50 Best Commercials of the Year as well as numerous other awards for creativity and effectiveness. He has also been the head writer of an acclaimed prime time network dramatic series as well has having written for a number of other prime time network dramatic series. In May, he worked with the PAC, Count The Votes Cast and created a full page ad that was an open letter to Howard Dean, and a 30 second TV spot addressing the issues of Florida and Michigan. The ad and commercial received notice from the news media and the organizers of Count the Votes Cast were interviewed by the New York Times, ABC-TV Boston,NPR, BBC Radio and other news outlets.

“Heidi Li Feldman is a lawyer and philosopher. She is Professor of Law of Georgetown University Law Center and Associate Professor of Philosophy in the College. For more information about Dr. Feldman's academic activities see Dr. Feldman currently fundraises both for the Denver Group and to help retire Senator Clinton's primary campaign debt. She is also an active participant in the daily activities and decision making of the Denver Group.”

I urge all Katalusis readers who want to make sure that Hillary Clinton’s name is on the ballot in Denver to check out the Denver Group. Heidi Li Feldman’s blog, Heidi Li’s Potpourri also offers a wealth of information and support for Hillary Clinton.

The Huffington Post Reveals the Fading Glory of the Obama Brand

When someone mentions the word ‘brand’ to me, the first thing I think of is a scene from an old Western in which a tough cowhand wrestles a steer down and applies a hot iron to its hide, searing it permanently with the ranch’s insignia or brand.

Next I think of laundry detergents I’ve used over the years: Tide, Oxydol, Cheer, Ivory Snow, or maybe Arm and Hammer.

Having worked in Corporate America for a few years, I’ve learned the importance to a company of maintaining a well-known and respected brand for its products.

Notice I said products.

It’s only been recently that I’ve heard the word ‘brand’ used in reference to human beings. I cringed awhile back – and not just because I’m a Clinton supporter - when a friend remarked to me that the Clintons’ brand had suffered in the Democratic primary. How dehumanizing, I thought.

Much to my surprise when I checked in at the Huffington Post recently to see what the extreme left in the blogosphere was up to, the screaming banner headline in red was not about Hillary, Bill, or Lanny Davis. Nope. The headline shouted: Obama Undercuts His Brand, and there it was as big as life: a photo of his holiness with his mantra in the foreground, “Change You Can Believe In.”

Huffpo has since taken down the big red banner headline, but you can still Google the story (I don’t link there) and get the fun details of how Obama of the not so new politics has betrayed his netroots and if you have the time, you can peruse the 1,432+ readers’ comments. For now, though, here’s a sample of one lefty’s rationalization of Obama's determined march to the center. You’ll of course be surprised to discover that Rotwang is blaming HRC’s supporters. Here’s the comment in full:

Rotwang writes:

I'm not loving everything the Presumptive Nominee is doing lately, but I realize he has to run very hard to the right to compensate for the loss of the brooding/vindictive/victim/poor-me segment of HRC supporters, who were mostly Republicans to begin with.

In practice, he won't be able to stray too far from a center-left position, even if he runs away from the netroots who created him. The bottom line is that Mac is much, much worse. Actually, the bottom line is that all politicians are disappointing and the system is essentially broken, but hope is a tough addiction to break.

Just remember: If HRC were the nominee, she'd be be doing the same dance to win the GE,. There are no "pure" candidates, and no "heroes of the people." No one can win with their own worshipful base alone.

"No one can win with their own worshipful base alone?" Wow! What an epiphany that must have been for Rotwang.

How Obama Can Win Clinton Supporters

Sometimes a thoughtful reader’s comment offers more helpful suggestions than can be found elsewhere in online news coverage.

Following Michael Falcone’s post at the Caucus (NY Times) this morning, Saturday, June 28, "Canary in the Coalmine" offers concrete suggestions to Obama for winning over Clinton supporters.

So how hard could it be, Barack, to actually do something about the sexism that Hillary Clinton endured during the Democratic primary?

Here’s the Canary’s comment verbatim:

I would think that earning the support of Sen Clinton’s supporters would be first on Mr Obama’s agenda. Maybe doing something (an issues agenda, speaking about, admitting, recognizing?) about the prevalent sexism expressed by the candidate and exploited by his campaign might help.,8599,181838 6,00.html

has a new poll that shines light on reality….there wasn’t much of a bump after Sen Clinton’s suspending her campaign. With 46% undecided (Sen Clinton’s supporters and probably a good smathering of hard-line evangelicals disenchanted with McCain, unlikely Obama voters) and only roughly half of them are even open to changing their minds about any candidate, or presumedly voting at all.

Want my vote? Earn my vote.

Support your Democratic House and Senate candidates, the DCCC and DSCC. A veto-proof majority in Congress will ensure a government for ALL Americans.

The Democrats and the Unity Thing in New Hampshire

Photo credits: AP

A lot of talk on the Web yesterday about the small town of Unity, New Hampshire where Obama and Clinton, color-coordinated (his tie almost matches her pants suit), attempted to bring the Democrats together in a spirit of unity they hope will turn red states blue in the coming general election.

The most detailed coverage I’ve seen in scanning my usual online sources is Foon Rhee’s account at Political Intel (Boston Globe). Rhee, the Globe’s deputy national political editor, includes important details that I noticed had been left out by other reporters, e.g., the specifics in Obama’s comments about the sexism that Hillary had encountered throughout her campaign.

There’s also a video clip of the event at Political Intel.

To read more and watch the video, go here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Loving Kindness Prayer

Since I’ve been preoccupied with other matters today, I decided to check in with Katalusis readers by posting this revised version of an ancient Buddhist prayer on behalf of myself, my family and friends, members of my church, my seminary community, my online community, and all suffering people throughout the world.

May we release all burdens from the past that no longer serve us;

May we release all needless worry, fear, and anxiety;

May we be filled with loving kindness;

May we be protected from all internal and external harm;

May we be as healthy and whole as possible;

May we be centered, peaceful, and at ease;

May we enjoy both spiritual and material well being;

May we be happy.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Obama Team Has Money Problems? No Way!!

Read to the point observations from Heidi Li’s Potpourri on signs of weakness in Sen. Obama’s campaign finance strategy, plus what Heidi Li expects tonight when she attends a finance committee meeting as Senator Clinton's guest.

Caucus Reader Speaks Out: “Misogyny is Not Acceptable”

This is a case where a reader’s comment by Carol Lemeiux easily upstages the original post by Michael Falcone titled Clinton Strikes Unity Theme at the Caucus in today’s NY Times.

Falcone was covering a speech given by Sen. Hillary Clinton in which she repeatedly urged her ardent Hispanic followers to get behind Barack Obama. Falcone noted:

“And while her call to rally around the Illinois senator was met with hearty applause, there was still a lot of support in the room for Mrs. Clinton, who spoke at an annual meeting of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, a prominent Hispanic political group. In the midst of her speech, one woman shouted, “We love you, Hillary!” And before she began, Mrs. Clinton was greeting by a nearly minute-long standing ovation.”

Clinton concluded her speech, according to Falcone’s report, with these words:

‘“I will never forget you. When it comes to the Latino community in our country, you can count on me. I will be there for you as your advocate, your partner and your friend.”’

As usual a number of Obama supporters registered their compulsive Hillary-hatred in the comments that followed.

Also as usual, several Clinton followers, who have already “gotten over it” since the primary and fallen in line behind Obama, urged their former cohorts to merge with the Obama flock and live happily ever after in the land of Democratic party unity.

It was left to Carol Lemieux in Comment Number 13 to nail it for the rest of Hillary’s supporters who cannot make peace with the ugliness of the sexism and misogyny that assailed the New York senator in her campaign throughout the Democratic primary.

Katalusis salutes Carol Lemeiux for her comment on June 26, 2008, 4:37 p.m. at the Caucus in the NY Times:

Hillary is doing what she needs to do. However, millions of her supporters remain upset about the misogyny of the media and Democratic establishment and this is not something we’re going to “get over”. It’s something that we, as a society need to DO something about.

While Hillary is doing “the responsible thing” in supporting Obama, I think there’s a larger issue here that must also be addressed openly and honestly on behalf of the women of America and future female candidates for President.

After the all out war on Senator Clinton, now pressure on Hillary voters has begun: we are being pressed to fall into line behind Barack & the Democratic party, simply because the media & Democratic “leaders” say we must. (They use the unspoken fear of “what if”, just as the Republicans have in the past.

Attempts to sweep what was done to Senator Clinton (and all women) under the rug–while insisting on “party unity”–is also outrageous. Misogyny is not acceptable–it’s a very serious problem that needs to be addressed.

18 million voters who supported, and witnessed, the way Hillary was “beaten up” are not going to go quietly away. This was clearly meant to be a message to all women.

I will write Hillary’s name in on November’s ballot.

— Posted by Carol Lemieux

What?!! Extremely High Levels of Testosterone in the 2008 General Election?!!

Photo credits: Associated Press File Photo

As described in Dan Balz’s Take (Washington Post) this morning, the two male candidates in the 2008 general election have launched an aggressive, old-style political campaign with testosterone levels that appear extremely high.

Balz’s observation would most likely not surprise anyone with the exception of the few remaining Obama supporters who have not yet been stripped of their naïve faith in the guy they believe is destined to lead the nation into a new political era, sans corruption of any kind.

McCain’s believers – remember the “Straight Talk Express” – probably brought to the general election a little less naivete and a more mature grasp of the reality of the political process, still…

Nevertheless, to a Clinton supporter who has gradually become a more or less anthropological observer of the race since my candidate conceded to the haloed Obama, it’s still rather stunning to read how deeply mired the sterling male standard bearers of the two major parties have already become in the politics of the past.

Balz observes:

“Both candidates have contributed to this. Obama tarnished his reputation as a new style politician by deciding not to take public funds for the fall campaign, despite a pledge to do so if his Republican opponent would do the same. He had promised to sit down with McCain to discuss the whole issue of money before making any decision.

“Obama's decision may have made political sense, but it was a demonstration of old politics, not new politics, and his reasoning for refusing public funds was as tortured as anything he has had to say in his campaign.

“McCain has hurt himself and his reputation as an independent thinker by reversing course on past positions, whether Bush tax cuts -- which he did long ago -- or opening up coastal areas to offshore drilling. His campaign, in the view of some of his own supporters, has allowed itself to show an angry and resentful face that they believe is contrary to McCain at his best.

“It is difficult to believe that Americans are enjoying all this -- or even paying close attention to it. The attack-counterattack cycle is so quick that only the most devoted of political aficionados can keep up, and the tone is so relentlessly critical that only the most partisan will applaud it.”

Balz couldn’t resist comparing the state of the general election campaign to the Democratic primary contest between Obama and Clinton:

“The long battle between Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, for all its intensity and competitiveness, rarely reached the levels of negativity and petulance seen in the opening weeks of the general election. Whenever Obama and Clinton crossed a line, they seemed quickly to step back, mindful of the consequences of letting their contest get out of hand. So far there seems to be no such impulse governing either the Obama or McCain campaigns as they go after each other.”

As far as Obama and McCain both showing their true colors as old-style pols at this early stage of the general election, 18 million Clinton supporters are shaking their heads sagely while modestly restraining themselves from saying, “We told you so.”

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Clinton’s (18 Million) Supporters Count Too!

Photo credits: Reuters

In today’s Washington Post, Dana Milbank reports the warm welcome received by Hillary Clinton on her first day back at work in the U.S. Senate, where she’s been admired and respected for her leadership and hard work throughout her eight-year tenure in that body.

Milbank accurately assesses Clinton’s stature on her return to the Senate: “She left as a legislator but returned as the leader of an 18 million-strong movement of women and working-class voters -- a group whose support Clinton's Democratic colleagues fervently desire.”

Yep. The message has finally registered, at least with a few of the pundits. To borrow a phrase initially made famous by a couple of women in Columbus, Ohio who refused to sit down, shut up, and get with the program, “Clinton supporters count too!”

I’d say Clinton supporters count more than ever in 2008.

Read More.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Calling All Clinton Supporters

Heidi Li’s Potpourri is showing an impressive video that should motivate all Clinton supporters to help Hillary pay off her campaign debt prior to the Democratic convention in Denver. Watch the video.

Obama’s Fake Presidential Seal (Vero Possumus) Disappears

Photo credits:

According to a post titled Obama Campaign Drops Faux Presidential Seal, subtitled The Possum Sleeps Tonight, at the Campaign Trail (Advertising Age) ‘“ …someone at Obama's press center, when asked if the seal would be used going forward said simply, ‘No.’”

Read all about it here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

So, Clinton Supporters: What Do We Want, and What Must We Get Over?

Photo credit: AFP

Kate Phillips has a post at the Caucus (NY Times) this evening, titled Obama’s ‘Get Over It’ Moment.

Phillips begins:

“The Republicans are having fun with a simple phrase Senator Barack Obama apparently, reportedly, purportedly, used during a meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus last week.

‘“Women, loyal to Senator Hillary Clinton, will ‘get over it,’ he reportedly told C.B.C. lawmakers, once they learn what Senator John McCain’s positions are on women’s issues.”’

Phillips follows up by citing a post by Jake Tapper and Kate Snow at ABC News, and she concludes with several questions that those of us who continue to support Hillary Clinton might want to consider:

“But isn’t it also plausible that it doesn’t help the so-called “healing” of the Democratic Party to use phrases like they’ll “get over it” with women who aren’t the type to run out and buy the latest Michelle Obama dress off the rack? What if they just stay home, or at work?

“Or don’t vote?

‘“We’d guess the most important question for this election cycle, now, given Senator Clinton’s failure to clinch the nomination, is, not as she said, ‘What Does Hillary Want?’ but again, to borrow from the old feminist book title, ‘What Do Women Want?’

That’s a question both Republicans and Democrats are asking, with that predominant voting bloc — albeit not monolithic — of women voters, mothers and single women, elderly and young, out there, watching and listening. And hearing.

And wondering. What is it that they have to get over?”’

So, Katalusis readers, what do you think women want and what is it that we have to get over?

Your comments are always appreciated!

See Video of “Aunt” Hillary at the Graduation of Aleatha Williams

Tennessee Guerilla Women has a video of “Aunt” Hillary Clinton keeping her promise to attend the high school graduation of Aleatha Williams, a campaign volunteer and the daughter of a supporter. Aleatha introduced Hillary who then gave a brief talk to the graduates.

Now the Media Vets Obama’s Ties to Ethanol

Now that Barack Obama has the Democratic nomination in his pocket and in several actions lately has revealed himself a skilled Chicago pol nicknamed “Fast Eddie” by David Brooks, the media is finally stepping forward to vet a candidate who has been previously off limits to any serious criticism.

In today’s NY Times, Larry Rohter examines the Obama camp’s links to corn ethanol. Due to the fact that corn ethanol generates less than two units of energy for every unit of energy used to produce it, it has come under increasing scrutiny as a viable alternative to oil. In comparison, ethanol produced from sugar cane boasts an energy ratio of 8 to 1.

Rohter reminds us:

Mr. Obama is running as a reformer who is seeking to reduce the influence of special interests. But like any other politician, he has powerful constituencies that help shape his views. And when it comes to domestic ethanol, almost all of which is made from corn, he also has advisers and prominent supporters with close ties to the industry at a time when energy policy is a point of sharp contrast between the parties and their presidential candidates.

To read the details of Obama’s ties to the ethanol industry and his questionable positions on our government’s energy policies, go here.

Footnote: In the caption beneath a photo of Obama near a cornfield in Adel, Iowa, the NY Times article suggests that Obama’s strong support of corn ethanol helped him win the Iowa caucus. Enough said?

Our Nation’s Failure to Honor the Achievements of Women

At Heidi Li’s Potpourri this morning, Heidi Li, professor of law at Georgetown University, offers an interesting discussion of the dearth of statues and historic landmarks in Washington, DC and elsewhere in our nation that honor the achievements of women. She also questions the New York magazine’s recent portrayal of Hillary Clinton as a national icon.

To read Heidi Li’s entire post, go here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hillary Clinton’s Personal Outreach to Those in Need

After reading about Barack Obama’s decision to break his promise on public funding this week and then seeing his photo above the United States presidential seal - Photoshopped into a campaign prop - the Caucus post (NY Times) titled ‘Aunt Hillary’ Speaks at Bronx Graduation is a poignant reminder of how the Democratic party fell all over itself to award the nomination to the weaker of its two candidates.

Writing for the Caucus, Sharon Otterman movingly reports Hillary Clinton’s compassion for those in need, a recurrent theme throughout her lifetime of public service. Otterman begins:

“Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has been keeping a low profile since conceding the Democratic nomination on June 7, but she made an exception this morning to speak at the high school graduation of a 17-year-old girl from the Bronx who calls her 'Aunt Hillary.'

“Aleatha Williams, 17, first met Senator Clinton at the age of 2, on the shoulder of her mother Patricia. She was one of those innumerable babies at political events that politicians hug, but in the case, the squeeze became the start of a life-long bond.

"Aleatha’s mother, Patricia Williams, then involved in an abusive marriage, was attending the 1992 Democratic Convention as a political volunteer. As Mrs. Clinton, who was soon to be first lady, passed her in the aisle, she reached out to Aleatha. The she put her arms around Patricia.

‘“She knew I needed a hug somehow, and she just squeezed. And I felt a strength and energy flowing through her. She helped to give me the strength I needed at that time to go on with my life and do what’s right for my daughter,’ Ms. Williams said in an interview after the graduation ceremony.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Obama’s Great – “Vero Possumus” – Seal Gets No Respect

Visit today to join the hilarity breaking out across the internet and cable news networks in response to the presentation of the newly revised United States Presidential Seal that honors – here it comes – the one and only Barack Obama! Here’s a sample:

“National Review: Audacity defined: Changing the seal of the United States of America and inserting the "O" logo for the American flag and as well as changing "E PLURIBUS UNUM" to "VERO POSSUMUS." (Loosely translated, "yes we can!") I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of Obamerica...”

Note: Your comments are always welcome.

“Two Men Who Really Want to be President”

Joan Venochi, writing for the Boston Globe, doesn’t mention Hillary Clinton’s name, but I couldn’t help thinking of the first serious female candidate when I read Venochi’s lead:

‘“THERE IS no ‘straight talk.’ There isn't ‘a different kind of politics.’ There are just two men who really want to be president.”

Two men who want to be president, indeed, plus the haunting presence of the woman the media repeatedly and brutally bashed in their efforts to force her out of the Democratic race.

Venochi sounds fed up with Barack Obama and John McCain in her op-ed this morning, and what rational American citizen would not be? She goes on to catalog Obama’s fall from his haloed posturing throughout the Democratic primary to “politics as usual” and McCain’s abandonment of any pretense to come clean with the public on where he actually stands on major issues.

Clinton supporters still numb with grief for how their candidate was treated throughout the primary can only shake their heads at Obama’s suddenly more visible old Chicago-style inner politician, recently nicknamed “Fast Eddie” by David Brooks.

To read Venochi’s entire column, go here.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Reaction to Obama’s New Presidential Seal, er, Logo

It seems the Obama team has creatively revised the US presidential seal to an Obama-centric version to serve as his new logo. Go here to check out how others are reacting to O's new logo recently unveiled at a meeting with Democratic governors.
Do you think the presumptive nominee is being a little too presumptuous? Comment below to register your opinion.

Riding on a Donkey Down the Road to Denver

The road to Denver may not be as smooth as predicted for Barack Obama, the Democratic party’s presumptive nominee, whose followers anticipate he’ll ride into town on a donkey while adoring crowds wave palm fronds and shout “Hossanah to the highest!”

Ken Vogel’s post at Politico this morning titled “Obama alienates the editors” is newsworthy for two reasons. It documents the firestorm created in the media by Mr. Clean’s decision to break his promise to accept public funding in the general election, while it simultaneously reminds people that today’s angry editorial boards were mostly in the tank for Obama throughout the Democratic primary, and their news coverage was biased accordingly.

Vogel reports:

‘“The Philadelphia Inquirer’s called the decision ‘as disappointing as it is disingenuous,’ while the Boston Globe’s wrote it ‘deals a body blow … to his own reputation as a reform candidate.’ And The Baltimore Sun’s editorial called it ‘a major disappointment for those struggling to restrain the pernicious influence of special interests in American politics.’

‘“The New York Times’ editorial board, which endorsed Clinton after allegedly leaning toward Obama, wrote that ‘Obama has come up short’ of ‘his evocative vows to depart from self-interested politics.’

I’m wondering if the thousands of Obama supporters enraptured at campaign rallies by his stirring words about “change you can believe in” are following the news these days in the aftermath of the Democratic primary. Must be a bit of a let down to see the one they’ve been waiting for revealed as a master of old Chicago-style politics.

Warning: Idolatry, especially of another human being, is not a mark of wisdom.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Both Right and Left Condemn Obama for Breaking His Promise

I watched the analysis of Shields and Brooks on the Newshour this evening. I hadn’t bothered to tune in for months because I couldn’t tolerate the obvious contempt of both the esteemed liberal and conservative male pundits for a female presidential candidate. So it felt kind of gratifying to see the two regular Friday night boys on the NewsHour rake Obama over the coals for opting for money over principle in rejecting public funding in the general election.

Shields mentioned that Obama had made history by being the first candidate since Nixon to choose private fundraising to fill his coffers; Brooks called the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee a “political hack.”

Just to stay on top of things, I scanned Google News minutes ago and tracked this headline from the Guardian: “Obama tarnished by rejecting public funds for election fight.”

The Guardian's Ewen MacAskill sums up the response to Obama’s latest blockbuster decision: “Barack Obama faced widespread condemnation yesterday from both right and left for reneging on a promise on election campaign financing.

“The Democratic presidential candidate found himself in the unusual position of being attacked not only by his Republican rival, John McCain, but by papers such as the New York Times and Washington Post, thinktanks committed to election reform, and even his own supporters.”

MacAskill tells us about the ad Obama released yesterday and an article he wrote for USA Today:

“Obama aired his first general election ad yesterday across 18 states, in a demonstration of his spending power. In an article for USA Today, Obama wrote: "The decision wasn't an easy one ... but the public financing of presidential elections... is broken - and the Republican party has mastered the art of gaming this broken system."

Shields and Brooks weren’t buying Obama’s excuses in their Newshour analysis this evening, and if you read MacAskill’s article in its entirety, it doesn’t sound as if anyone else was buying them either.

She’s Back: Hillary Resumes High Profile Schedule in Washington

Photo credits: AP

Sen. Hillary Clinton has been out of the headlines recently, taking a break after concluding her presidential run. But the Crypt (Politico) reports advance word of her upcoming schedule:

“The details have not been released about her schedule, but a Senate Democratic aide confirmed to Politico that Clinton will have a significant event in the Senate next week, followed by a meeting Thursday with Barack Obama's campaign finance team. Clinton will top off her re-emergence with a major campaign event Friday with Obama, at a location that still remains secret.

“There had been some reports that Clinton might take a full month off after ending her presidential campaign and not return to Capitol Hill until after the Fourth of July recess, but she will be on the Hill next week getting back to work and holding public and private events aimed at maintaining a high profile. Clinton took a four-day vacation last week — the destination has not been revealed — before showing up at Tim Russert's funeral this week.

“Check back with The Crypt for details about Clinton's public schedule as they leak out.”

Amie Parnes contributed to this report.

Hillary’s Private Conference Call to Campaign Donors

TPM’s Greg Sargent reports highlights of Hillary Clinton’s conference call this morning to her donors.

According to Sargent who listened in on the call, Sen. Clinton:

Once again asked her supporters to get behind Barack Obama;

Invited supporters to assist her with her campaign debt, but did not request help in repaying her personal loans:

Suggested that she would be addressing problems with the media's campaign coverage in the future.

I applaud Hillary’s intention to step forward and take a leading role in addressing the blatantly good-old-boy media coverage of women candidates in the political arena. If she doesn't accept the challenge, who will?

David Brooks’ Epiphany Regarding Barack Obama

One could argue that an op-ed by the influential NY Times columnist David Brooks on October 19, 2006, titled “Run, Barack Run,” gave Barack Obama the initial push he needed to announce his candidacy for the office of president of the United States. Brooks wrote:

“Coming from my own perspective, I should note that I disagree with many of Obama’s notions and could well end up agreeing more with one of his opponents. But anyone who’s observed him closely can see that Obama is a new kind of politician. As Klein once observed, he’s that rarest of creatures: a megahyped phenomenon that lives up to the hype.

“It may not be personally convenient for him, but the times will never again so completely require the gifts that he possesses. Whether you’re liberal or conservative, you should hope Barack Obama runs for president.”

Needless to say, Brooks has lost some of his enthusiasm for Sen. Obama over an extended Democratic primary and the early weeks of his general election campaign against John McCain.

In today’s column in the Times, titled “The Two Obamas,” Mr. Brooks has a tough time concealing his outrage at the man he once urged to jump into the race; Brooks is now effectively characterizing Obama as a schizoid personality with all of the attributes of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Brooks splutters angrily about “Dr. Barack” and “Fast Eddie” in his opening grafs:

“God, Republicans are saps. They think that they’re running against some academic liberal who wouldn’t wear flag pins on his lapel, whose wife isn’t proud of America and who went to some liberationist church where the pastor damned his own country. They think they’re running against some naïve university-town dreamer, the second coming of Adlai Stevenson.

“But as recent weeks have made clear, Barack Obama is the most split-personality politician in the country today. On the one hand, there is Dr. Barack, the high-minded, Niebuhr-quoting speechifier who spent this past winter thrilling the Scarlett Johansson set and feeling the fierce urgency of now. But then on the other side, there’s Fast Eddie Obama, the promise-breaking, tough-minded Chicago pol who’d throw you under the truck for votes.

“This guy is the whole Chicago package: an idealistic, lakefront liberal fronting a sharp-elbowed machine operator. He’s the only politician of our lifetime who is underestimated because he’s too intelligent. He speaks so calmly and polysyllabically that people fail to appreciate the Machiavellian ambition inside.”

Ah, yes, the whole Chicago package. Reminds me of the night of the Indiana primary when Obama supporter Rudy Clay, the mayor of Gary, (located a few miles from Obama’s home) reverted to old Chicago style politics and withheld the results from his city long after prime time. Clay gave it up only after the CNN crew called him out.

That was the same night that Obama earlier won North Carolina, and Tim Russert, who was recently accorded a state funeral, crowned Obama the presumptive nominee.

Were I not one of Hillary Clinton’s supporters still shaking my head in astonishment at how Democratic party leaders and the Obama-intoxicated media handed the nomination to the obviously less qualified candidate after repeatedly pressuring Hillary Clinton to drop out, I’d be chuckling over David Brooks’ evident epiphany in finding Barack Obama out.

Instead, I simply continue to stand aside and watch as the gradual awakening to reality begins and hope the Dems have their eyes opened by the time the Denver convention is called to order.

To read Brook’s column in today’s NY times, go here.

Note: Don’t forget to leave a comment. I value your thoughts and opinions and try to reply personally to each message from Katalusis readers.

Just the Facts, Please, Sen. Obama, Just the Facts

Checking the facts during a political campaign these days seems so, well, kind of old-fashioned, don’t you think? But Michael Dobbs at the Washington Post is still carrying on the tradition and awarding Pinocchios when he decides a candidate has not been telling the truth.

While scanning Wapo this morning, I noticed Dobbs was fact-checking Obama’s pledge to accept public financing. Dobbs awarded Obama three Pinocchios after observing:

“Barack Obama probably wishes that he had been more careful in the wording of some of his earlier statements about the public financing system. His carefully parsed retreat on public financing is similar to his hedging on an earlier promise to meet the leaders of Iran, Cuba, and North Korea "without preconditions" during his first year as president. In this case, however, the turnaround is even more blatant.”

I hadn’t checked in with Dobbs for awhile and noticed that in his previous entry, he had found Obama deserving one Pinocchio in the flag pin debate. This time Dobbs noted:

“Barack Obama is unconvincing when he claims that his decision on whether or not to wear the flag in his lapel comes down to the suit he is wearing on any particular day. Political campaigns spend untold hours obsessing over such image questions. A more plausible explanation for his embrace of the flag pin is that he wants to defuse the patriotism debate. John McCain, who spent five years in POW camps in Vietnam, feels no need to demonstrate his patriotism on his lapel.

“What a strange election campaign this is!”

Do you ever get the feeling that Barack Obama, in spite of the squeaky clean image projected by his campaign, is in reality a typical politician who can spin what he’s up to with the best of them?

The New Politics: When Money Calls, Obama Answers

In Media Notes (Washington Post) this morning, Howard Kurtz assesses the media’s coverage of Obama’s broken promise to forego the flood of money flowing his way from his online donors and accept public funding.

Kurtz points out:

“Liberals have been championing campaign finance reform since Richard Nixon's bagmen were walking around with suitcases of cash.

“It was Jimmy Carter, after his post-Watergate, I'll-never-lie-to-you campaign, who pushed through the first law attempting to curtail the role of big money in politics.

“So Barack Obama's decision yesterday to become the first presidential candidate of the modern era to opt out of public financing flies in the face of that tradition. It also happens to contradict his own past assurances. And it poses a real test for the media.”

Kurtz gets in an appropriate dig at Obama’s loudest online megaphone, the Huffington Post: “You will not be shocked to hear that while most conservative bloggers are ripping Obama for hypocrisy, most liberal bloggers are defending the move. Had President Bush done this in 2004, there would have been at least five postings up on the Huffington Post accusing him of trying to buy the election.”

But then if Obama is drowning in cash, I have to ask why his camp has been pressuring Hillary Clinton’s donors to cough up on his behalf since minutes after her concession speech. And get this: Obama and Clinton have scheduled an appearance together next week to address – you guessed it – Clinton donors.

Kurtz doesn’t answer the above question, but he provides a list of excellent examples showing how various news sources have chosen to play the story of Obama’s reversal on public funding. Kurtz concludes that the media in general will go light on the harbinger of the new politics for his obvious betrayal of the public trust. But then what else should we expect from a good old boys dominated press that has suffered from Obama intoxication since he first stepped on the national stage.

Read more here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fallout from Obama’s Broken Promise on Public Funding

Emily Cadell at (USA Today) “addresses the questions concerning the state of public funding within the context of Obama's decision.”

After explaining how the presidential public financing system works and why Obama opted out, Cadell gets to the question that will most likely concern voters in the 2008 election:

Why is the decision controversial?

'“Obama has portrayed himself as a new kind of politician who would like to curb the influence of money and special interests over the political system. In March of last year, the Obama campaign stated that he would 'aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election' if he won the Democratic primary election. But the campaign backed away from those statements as Obama's popularity increased and the campaign contributions started flowing in. The more his fundraising efforts paid off, the more the campaign talked about pursuing that goal only as an 'option' he would explore.

“The decision also has historic implications; Obama is about to become the first presidential candidate since the public finance system was established in 1971 not to participate in general election public funding.

‘“Republicans claim Obama went back on his word. ‘In his decision to break his promise and forgo our nation's public financing system, Barack Obama failed to demonstrate the kind of principled leadership that Americans are looking for in our next President,’ RNC chairman Mike Duncan said in a statement.

'“Campaign finance reform groups are also disappointed. ‘We had hoped and expected that Sen. Obama would stick with the public pledge he made to accept public financing and spending limits for the presidential general election,’ said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21.

“Obama's campaign, however, maintains that he never promised to participate and point to his reliance on contributions from small donors — rather than lobbyists and political action committees — as evidence that he has ‘already changed the way campaigns are funded.”’

To read the rest of Cadell’s discussion, go here.

Obama: Richer than God in the General Election

Google News today lists 447 articles more or less titled Obama Opts Out of Public Financing, all reporting that the harbinger of the new politics has reversed himself on that issue.

But it’s the Daily Intel (New York Magazine) shouting Obama Broke His Promise! that cuts to the chase in its lead:

“Ever since it became clear that Barack Obama's record-breaking fund-raising juggernaut could make him richer than God during the general election, it was expected that he would eventually opt out of public financing, a system which would have given him about $85 million to spend after the convention, but would have capped private fund-raising. The only problem is that he had pledged to work within the public-financing system if his opponent did. This, then, won't help dispel the notion that Obama is all talk. But will it actually damage Obama's image, or is the issue just too boring for anyone to care about?”

I’m one voter who doesn’t think the issue is too boring to care about. Read the entire post -the photo illustration is great, too - at the Daily Intel here.

Then please share your thoughts in a comment below.

Economic Concerns of Women Voters in 2008 Presidential Election

Heidi Hartmann’s post at the Women’s Media Center the other day should be required reading for all women voters in the coming general election. Titled Shaky Economic Times are Shakier for Women, Hartmann begins:

“Over the last three months, primary voters in increasing proportions have said this presidential election is about the economy. In November, if recent trends hold, women will vote in greater numbers than men. As both parties turn from the business of primaries to crafting their messages for the fall, they will need to address the economic realities of these women voters.

“In a recent survey of Americans’ economic insecurities, the largest difference in attitudes between women and men emerged on Social Security. Large proportions of both groups worry that social security benefits may be reduced or eliminated, but women are especially concerned, whatever their income level. Even women with very high family incomes ($92,000 and above) are worried. In fact it’s at this highest income range that the gender differences are largest—only about 30 percent of men at that level worry about Social Security’s future, compared with 53 percent of women. It’s also one area of economic security where white women are nearly as worried as minority women: across all income levels, 55 percent of white women and 58 percent of minority women worry that Social Security may be cut back.”

Read more here.

Note: I’ve bookmarked the Women’s Media Center in my news source folder, and I recommend that all Katalusis readers do the same.
Comments are always welcome. I try to find the time to reply to each comment and email I receive from Katalusis readers. Your support makes my efforts worthwhile.

Obama Camp First Boos and then Woos Clinton Supporters

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, photo by Getty

Two days after thousands of rabid Obamaphiles at a Michigan campaign rally rudely booed the state’s governor, Jennifer Granholm, for mentioning Hillary Clinton’s name, the Obama team was on Capitol Hill to court Clintonites.

Amie Parmes at Politico reports:

“Sen. Barack Obama and top campaign aides were on Capitol Hill on Tuesday as part of a full-scale offensive to win over the hearts and minds of those who supported Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“Clinton herself was nowhere to be found.

“Obama met Tuesday night with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, many of whom had long and friendly relationships with the Clintons. On Thursday, he’ll meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, one-third of whom backed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. More meetings with more Democratic groups are also on the schedule.

“Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, spoke Tuesday to Democratic senators gathered for their weekly policy lunch.

‘“…Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that Axelrod had been “extremely positive” about Clinton, but the junior senator from New York didn’t hear Axelrod’s words because she didn’t attend the lunch.”

According to Parmes’ account, Philippe Reines, Clinton’s spokesman said, “Sen. Clinton took some well deserved R & R with her family last week, and she’ll be back here before you know it. In the meantime, she continues to work for New York and America, and she’ll be fighting harder than ever for the issues she has throughout her public life.”

Other glaring contradictions in the Obama team's treatment of Clinton supporters appear as it attempts to pull Democrats together and move forward. The Huffington Post, the left wing’s mirror image of the Drudge Report (the two infamous blogs share a dismissive attitude toward ethical standards in news reporting), can’t seem to make up its mind as to whether or not to stop sliming Hillary Clinton or attempt to show respect to a former presidential candidate who still commands the respect and allegiance of millions of voters.

Along with its sister blog in the left wing of the Democratic fold, the Huffington Post served as a major mouthpiece for the Obama campaign throughout the Democratic primary.

In this morning’s edition of the Huffington Post (you’ll have to Google it; for obvious reasons, I don’t link there), a banner headline linking to the Washington Times screams: “GOP recycles Clinton's attacks against Obama.” The article reminds voters that early on party leaders warned Clinton about daring to oppose Obama in the Democratic primary. It’s as if the party elite were all muttering to themselves: “Who the hell does this woman think she is to challenge our hand-picked candidate? Doesn’t she know the Republicans might use her words as sound bytes in the general election?”

I mean - it’s not as if talking points from other presidential primaries have been used against opponents in the general election, and you have to notice the Democratic party leaders in this case assumed - long before the people were given a chance to vote - that the first viable female candidate was going to lose.

Let me repeat: these same party bigwigs in league with the Obama team and its media allies made sure their guy took home the prize.

Well, here’s what I’m thinking: since it appears the Obama camp is conflicted about its need for the allegiance of Clinton supporters in the general election, I feel a corresponding ambivalence, and I’m still strongly inclined to remember in November to vote present.

Note: Comments are always welcome. I try to find the time to reply to each comment and email I receive from Katalusis readers. Your support makes my efforts worthwhile.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Confronting Al Gore’s "Deafening Silence" in the Democratic Primary

In her post at No Quarter yesterday, Ani confronts Al Gore in an open letter about his “deafening silence” throughout the Democratic primary and in the process, she effectively and cogently nails each of the major offenses of the media, party leaders, and the Obama campaign in their abusive treatment of Hillary Clinton, the obviously better qualified candidate in the race.

Ani starts out like this:

“When so many of us begged you to run for office again this year, you jokingly stated you were a ‘recovering politician.’ Certainly, you have more than earned the right to walk away from what you consider to be a toxic environment. However, much as I appreciate your desire to remain neutral in this nominating contest, as you have sent me a fund raising letter on behalf of the DSCC, I feel I must now question your deafening silence in this most critical of primaries.

“You of all people understand what it is like to be the far more qualified candidate and be on the receiving end of ridicule by the drive-by hit squad media. You have rightly stated that television is a one-way medium, not encouraging discourse, critical thought or active participation. This year, we see even more clearly the influence and effect that favoritism of one and vilification and misogyny toward another has on the voting populace, as junk food is fed to a citizenry struggling to make ends meet, at points overwhelmed by their own responsibilities, without time to dig deeper for the truth of the story.”

In the following paragraph, Ani addresses a point that infuriated me every time I witnessed Obama deceitfully presenting himself as the candidate who opposed the war from the beginning, while never once explaining that he was not a member of the U.S. Senate when the vote on the Iraq War Resolution was taken.

“It is both amazing and unconscionable to me that some educated people, possessing a master’s degree no less, actually believe that Senator Obama ‘voted’ against the war. They are clueless to the fact he was not even a U.S. Senator at that time.”

Ani continues her analysis of the Democratic primary:

“Yet, with all of the advantages he had going into this year: the DNC clearly gaming Michigan and Florida in his favor, the media offering pillow fluffing soft stories about him, rather than vetting him, while exaggerating Senator Clinton’s every step to negative effect, he still was not able to close the deal until the Super Delegates raced to forcibly shut down this process.”

I urge Katalusis readers to go here to read Ani’s post in its entirety.

Note: Feedback from readers is always welcome at Katalusis. I try to find time to reply to each of your comments as well as any email messages I receive.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Media’s Message to Women: “You Can Play, But It Won’t Be a Fair Fight”

Marie Wilson, a long-time women’s advocate, adds fresh insight in her piece at the Huffington Post to the ongoing post-primary discussion of sexism in the media. (You’ll have to Google it; I’m joining the boycott against linking to Huffington Post, a veritable cesspool of Hillary-bashing and misogyny despite an occasional pro-women’s rights post like Wilson's.)

Wilson offers a poignant anecdote:

“Back in the 1980's, I was on the NYC Human Rights Commission that held hearings on the pervasive problem of sexual harassment in the construction sector. The most moving story I heard during that period came from a male construction worker. He talked about what a typical day looked like, including the standard lunch breaks on the curb with his male co-workers, and the usual rounds of catcalling out to women as they walked by.

“He never questioned any of it -- not until the day came when the face that looked back at him was his daughter's.

“The young women those construction workers called out to were not being raped, physically threatened, or grabbed at. Catcalling is a relatively light offense compared to what happened to the women working in construction zones in those days -- the heavy objects "accidentally" falling nearby, the lewd pictures, feces and threatening objects women found in their lockers every day.

“Yet what each young woman received was an early lesson about their bodies and their place in the world. While boys’ bodies were growing into a source of strength and power, respect and pride, theirs were growing into a source of shame, vulnerability and possible danger. Lessons no decent father ever wants his daughter to have to learn.

Connecting the construction site incident with today, Wilson continues:

“But our daughters are still learning these degrading and discouraging lessons -- most recently through the media coverage of the 2008 election. No one -- not even Clinton herself -- is saying that she lost the race for president because of sexism in cable news or the blogosphere, and the degree to which sexist coverage played a part is debatable. Yet we lost something for our nation's daughters who were sent a strong message about fairness during the primary season -- you can play, but it won't be a fair fight.”

I’ll repeat that message: “You can play, but it won’t be a fair fight.” And that is exactly why so many Clinton supporters continue to simmer with outrage even after our candidate graciously endorsed Obama and urged all of her followers to fall in line behind him.

Plus: Our outrage continues to be fueled by the unrelenting vitriol spewed by Obama supporters. Yesterday, as I mentioned in a previous post, devoted followers of the haloed Obama demonstrated their lack of civility at the Al Gore endorsement event in Michigan. Anne Kornblut reports in the Washington Post:

“DETROIT -- Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm received a deafening chorus of boos Monday night at her mention of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the candidate Granholm once backed for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“The jeering from thousands of Obama supporters at Joe Louis Arena came after Granholm acknowledged her support of Clinton, and they seemed to take her aback. "Come on now," the governor pleaded before finally continuing, "I'm proud to say I'm standing with her and all of you" in supporting Obama.

‘“A few moments later the same fired-up crowd booed former vice president Al Gore when he urged Democrats to be respectful of the likely Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain. ‘In that case I'm glad I brought it up,’ Gore dryly responded.”’

Those of you who regularly scan the news sites on the Internet and even brave the readers’ comments on occasion can imagine the vicious retorts to Wilson and Kornblut posted by the ever- ready hordes of Obama supporters. From defensively arguing that women in minority groups have more important matters to worry about than gender discrimination to calling any Clinton supporter a racist who refuses to get onboard the Obama train, the abusive responses pile up as usual.

To those dismissive of gender discrimination in the lives of minorities, I’d like to ask an African-American woman how she feels about the sexist and violent language in the lyrics of hip-hop artists. And in response to the accusation of racism, I would point out that many Clinton supporters who can’t as yet bring themselves to sign on with Obama have been convinced from day one that he’s simply unqualified to be president. It’s not about Obama’s race; it’s about his skimpy resume, and his recent coronation by the Democratic party does not change that reality one iota.

Wilson’s post, titled Giving the "Daughter Test" to Mainstream Media, is well worth reading in its entirety even if you have to hold your nose at the Huffington Post.

Surprise! Poll Shows Unease With Obama’s Skimpy Resume

Photo credits: AP

It’s hard to figure out why the good old boys network among DNC members, the Obama team, and the media didn’t notice in the Democratic primary that despite the excitement about change stirred up by Obama, the children’s latest Pied Piper, his skimpy resume might pose a problem in the general election.

In reporting the findings of the recent WashingtonPost/ABC News poll, Gary Langer at ABC News highlights this bombshell:

“Obama, more broadly, also faces significant unease with his resume, with just half of Americans, 50 percent, saying he's experienced enough to serve as president. Forty-six percent think that's not so, a large number to lose on the basic question of qualifications.”

I scanned Langer’s piece shortly after reading Anne Kornblut’s post at the Trail (WashingtonPost) in which she described how ill-behaved Obama supporters were at a recent Michigan rally. First Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm was booed when she mentioned Sen. Clinton, the candidate she backed for the Democratic presidential nomination. Next, the Obamaphiles booed Al Gore when he suggested that Democrats treat John McCain, the Republican candidate with respect.

It’s behavior like this by Obamaphiles that has no doubt contributed to their leader’s ongoing challenges predicted in the coming general election by the WashingtonPost/ABC News poll. (Keep in mind, that Barack Obama positioned himself in the primary as the great unifier while repeatedly labeling Hillary Clinton as polarizing and divisive.)

But let’s go back to the beginning of Langer’s article at ABC News on those poll results; Langer leads off with these observations:

“The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll underscores the conundrum of the 2008 presidential election: If everything is so good for Barack Obama, why isn't everything so good for Barack Obama?

“Disapproval of George W. Bush has reached a record high for any president in modern polls, a record number of Americans say the country is on the wrong track, Democrats hold a significant advantage in partisan affiliation and Obama leads John McCain on a range of issues and personal attributes, as well as in sheer enthusiasm.

Click here for a PDF with charts and full questionnaire.

“Yet Obama has less of a head-to-head advantage against McCain than these views would imply.

“Among all Americans, Obama leads by a fairly narrow 6 points; among those most likely to vote -- an estimate that it's admittedly early to make -- the two are locked in a dead heat.

“In generic preference in local congressional elections, by contrast, the Democrats lead the Republicans by 15 points, a wide 52-37 percent, among all adults.

“Obama's advantage vs. McCain is about the same as in an ABC/Post poll last month -- no bounce from Obama's victory in the long-fought Democratic nomination campaign. "

Now about that booing by Obamaphiles in Michigan, guess what?

“No Post-Clinton Bounce for Obama.

“One of the challenges for Obama in terms of likely voters is the fact that his support relies heavily on young adults, whose turnout on Election Day is far less reliable than their elders'.

“He leads McCain by more than a 2-1 margin among Americans under 30; that shifts to a tie among middle-aged adults, and a McCain advantage among seniors.

“Obama, more broadly, also faces significant unease with his resume, with just half of Americans, 50 percent, saying he's experienced enough to serve as president. Forty-six percent think that's not so, a large number to lose on the basic question of qualifications.

“Also, in the two most reliable swing voter groups in presidential elections, Obama and McCain run evenly among independents, and McCain leads by 14 points among white Catholics. (In a shift, McCain's doing better this month than last among women, particularly married white women, while Obama's doing better among men.)

“Obama has work to do in his base, as well: Among Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton for president, about one in four, 24 percent, prefer McCain over Obama, and 13 percent pick someone else or say they wouldn't vote. Those are essentially unchanged from an ABC/Post poll last month, before Clinton suspended her campaign and offered Obama a fulsome endorsement.”

To read more, go here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

When the Media Went Pathological in Covering Hillary’s Campaign

In Monday’s post, Greg Sargent at TPM Election Central takes on the media’s failure to provide fair and balanced coverage of Hillary Clinton’s campaign – that is to say the campaign of the first viable female presidential candidate in our nation’s history.

Sargent chides the NY Times for addressing the issue by interviewing members of the press who were asked to evaluate - presumably with a degree of objectivity - their own coverage. With a touch of sarcasm, Sargent says, “You'll be surprised to hear that many of these media figures pronounced their own conduct impeccable.”

Sargent’s approach is to examine the coverage itself, and he finds plenty that should shame any reasonably professional journalist. But then some of us figured out weeks ago that by and large the nation’s media is so unprofessional that a majority of them are simply unaware of their misogynist tendencies.

Sargent begins:

“I’ve compiled a long list of episodes after the jump where media figures indulged in bogus, unfair, or outright misleading coverage of the New York Senator. While this puts me at risk of being declared the "worst person in the world" by Keith Olbermann, I submit that it's a useful exercise, on the theory that a debate about the coverage should include a discussion of the actual coverage.

“Do my examples prove that the media was unfair to her as a whole or worse to her than to Obama? Not really. But taken together, they amount to a startling parade of media buffoonery and mendacity that should have been unacceptable to any reasonable observer -- even ones who supported one of her rivals.

“So here's our list.

“On occasions too numerous to count, ridiculous non-stories first pushed by Drudge and other confidence men were actually deemed real news by major news orgs. Here are but three high-profile examples:

“Following Drudge, multiple news orgs decided it was big news that Hillary had used an allegedly phony southern drawl during a speech. Making matters worse, reporters failed to tell viewers that Drudge had manufactured this story by posting video that ripped her words out of context in a comically dishonest way.

“-- Following Drudge, multiple news orgs treated seriously a completely ridiculous story alleging that unnamed Hillary staffers had "circulated" a picture of Obama in a turban.

“The only evidence that this ever happened was that confirmed-fact-inventor Drudge said it did -- and what's more, his story wasn't even specific in its allegations. It didn't say what level the staffers operated at and didn't even say what was meant by the meaningless charge that it had been "circulated." Nonetheless, reporters and pundits treated the story seriously, often without noting these obvious defects.”

‘“-- Following Drudge, news orgs actually decided that it was news that Hillary's non-use of her middle name showed she was having an ‘identity crisis.’

Hang on, dear readers, there’s more:

“-- Reporters and pundits offered wall-to-wall coverage of the most trivial of emotions on Hillary's part -- her laugh, and her tears -- and repeatedly seized on such moments to assert that her emotions were entirely staged in order to manipulate voters into believing that Hillary is a human being.

‘“There's no polite way to put this: The coverage of Hillary's ‘cackle’ was simply sick to its core. Even Howard Kurtz acknowledged that reporters and analysts were lavishing attention to it because ‘examining her personality quirks is more fun than deconstructing her stance on Iraq.’

“Meanwhile, some of you will argue that coverage of her tears helped her in the run-up to New Hampshire. That's very possible. Nonetheless, it fed the ‘Hillary is a phony’ narrative, and it just doesn't change the fact that the reporting and punditry on her laugh and her tears was over-the-top by any reasonable standard and at times bordered on the pathological.”

To read Sargent’s complete list of offensive media coverage targeting Hillary Clinton, go here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Breaking News: Americans Becoming Dumber About Politics

I’m still mulling over the final days of the Democratic primary, said by some to have ended on May 26 after the votes from North Carolina and Indiana were tallied, and the recently deceased Tim Russert, now rumored by his colleagues to be under investigation for sainthood, proclaimed Obama the Democratic nominee.

Immediately after Russert’s proclamation, pundits from around the country answered the call to once again demand that the nation’s first female presidential candidate withdraw from the race. Mark this well: Hillary Clinton was the first presidential candidate in American history to be asked by our shameless media to drop out.

With the travesty of the Democratic primary in mind, no Clinton supporter should be surprised to learn that decade by decade, Americans have become dumber about politics.

In today’s Boston Globe, Rick Shenkman writes:

“THE THOUGHT occurs to almost everybody, I would suppose, that politics today is conducted at a lower level than it used to be. Not many voted against William Howard Taft because he was fat or Abraham Lincoln because he was thin. One can't imagine Franklin Roosevelt being judged by how badly he bowled or how convincingly he knocked back a tumble of scotch. Indeed, studies show that the speeches presidents gave a half-century ago were pitched at the 12th-grade level - five grades above the level of speeches given by presidents over the last generation.

“Which brings up a paradox. Decade by decade Americans are getting smarter and smarter, and decade by decade our politics is getting dumber and dumber. How can we explain it?

“In 1940 six in 10 Americans hadn't gone past the eighth grade. Today, most Americans have attended college. Partly as a result of their added schooling, Americans today are more tolerant of dissent and less racist. But surveys show that increased schooling doesn't correspond to a higher aptitude for civics. To put this bluntly: Americans today are no better informed about politics than their grade-school educated grandparents. With respect to some subjects they are less well-informed.”

Shenkman’s article gets even scarier:

“Like Americans in the 1940s, Americans today barely understand basic facts about our government. Only two in 10 know we have 100 US senators. Only four in 10 know we have three branches of government and can name them. Only a third know that Congress has the power to declare war.

“They are no better informed about the identity of the people running the government. Only four in 10 could identify William Rehnquist, the long-serving chief justice of the US Supreme Court, more than two decades into his term. Only two in 10 can name the current secretary of defense, Robert Gates. A Harvard study by Thomas Patterson found that Americans today are less able to articulate the differences between the two major parties than voters in the 1950s.”

Having targeted television news coverage as a major culprit in the dumbing down of American voters, Shenkman concludes by stating the obvious:

“If politicians were angels, we wouldn't need smart voters. But they aren't. One of the most pressing issues of our times, though few talk about it, is therefore the acknowledgement of the limits of contemporary voters and strategies to make them smarter.”

To read Shenkman’s article in its entirety, go here.


Gotta love the title of Rick Shenkman’s recently published book: "Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It's a Fact: The DNC Couldn’t Even Wait for the Body to Cool

Photo credits: AP

Paul Krugman is right; this is definitely the year the progressive movement lost a lot of its innocence - if not the movement in its entirety, certainly a few of its long-time members. My lost innocence has to do with the jarring realization that news sources such as PBS, the Washington Post, and the NY Times and their respective pundits are liberal in every way possible except when it comes to granting equal rights and respect to women. And I’ve not even mentioned the vulgar talking heads at MSNBC and CNN.

Actually, I was more offended by comments I heard from PBS’s NewsHour cast than from the likes of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Shouldn’t Jim Lehrer or Mark Shields have known better than to visibly display contempt week after week for the first viable woman candidate in a presidential primary?

Indeed it has been a whole week since Hillary Clinton made her concession speech, and I’m still simmering in outrage at the way she was treated by the Obama campaign, the DNC, and the media, a shameless triumvirate of good old boys that carried the less qualified, limping Obama over the finish line.

Simmering outrage aside, I actually have been looking for a viable way forward that doesn’t require swallowing the vicious strain of misogyny that erupted in our culture throughout the Democratic campaign and passively falling in line behind “Sweetie” Obama, who supposedly represents the lesser of two evils for women voters in the general election race.

Yesterday, I stumbled on Ellen Goodman’s op-ed invitingly titled, The Best Revenge: Get Even. Ellen acknowledged:

“This has not been an easy week for ardent Hillary Clinton supporters, who are being told to move on and move over to the Barack Obama camp. The woman who looked improbably energetic and strong as she bowed out last Saturday reinforced both the respect and disappointment of her core supporters.

“Mourning is not too strong a word to describe what I've been hearing in the last few days. No sooner had the speech ended than a Clinton fund-raiser received an e-mail from the Democratic National Committee asking her to raise money for Obama. She said, tersely, they didn't even wait for the body to cool.

‘“Women have had the idea of her being president in their heads for a decade or more. So the level of disappointment, anger, discouragement is that much stronger,’ said Marie Wilson of the White House Project. As Dianne Feinstein said, ‘the nerve endings have to be healed.’”

As you may have noticed, I’m one blogger whose nerve endings are still pretty raw. But I’m listening, Ellen:

“Well, fair enough. But in the early stage of the mourning process, those supporters who have been dismissively pegged as Angry White Women should take another adage from politics: Don't Get Mad, Get Even.

“This is not a revenge fantasy, especially not against Obama. I cannot imagine the core of Clinton's female supporters turning to McCain, a man who voted against equal pay, let alone abortion rights. So I'm not talking about payback; I'm talking about pay it forward. I mean ‘get even’ in a very different sense: Even the playing field, even the odds.

‘“Get Even in the Media.* Every Clinton supporter I talk to heatedly brings up the media. Women who have never let the word ‘misogyny’ slip from their lips now pair it alliteratively with media. If you have five minutes, go to the website of the Women's Media Center ( and be aware that this is just a Whitman's Sampler.

‘“It wasn't just the ugly stuff coming out from under the rocks – ‘Life's a B - -, Don't Elect One.’ Nor was it just the sleazy shout-outs of the new boys' blogosphere. What shocked even the slur-hardened feminists was that, as Ellen Malcolm of Emily's List said, ‘it seemed to be so acceptable. And it was shameful.’ Where was the DNC's voice of protest? Where were the big feet and CEOs of the media? Why do sexist slurs get a laugh while racist slurs end careers? Getting even is, finally, shaming the media messengers.

‘“Get Even in Politics. First lady Hillary Clinton made the water safe for ‘uppity’ wives like Elizabeth Edwards and Michelle Obama. She may well make it easier for the next woman running for the West Wing. But how different would this race have been if there were three women in the mix? Women of varied opinions and backgrounds? Women are still lagging behind in the profession of politics, and are reticent to run. For all those mourners who fear there won't be a woman in the White House in their lifetime, getting even is building - sports metaphors be damned - the farm team.

Get Even as Voters. Until now, Democrats have taken our votes for granted. Where else would progressive women go? Democratic leaders have often seen these women as a one-issue, pro-choice group. It's not enough.

“I'm not saying that Clinton's world will be appeased by offering her the vice presidency. To some this would be a proper reward, but others would see it as only a consolation prize. More important, Obama needs to talk directly to women in this fragile, slip-sliding, backsliding economy. Getting even requires winning respect.

‘“It would break my heart,’ said Clinton, ‘if, in falling short of my goal, I in any way discouraged any of you from pursuing yours.’ Well, I'll hold the half-full cup lightly in my hand. But let's remember how good women are supposed to be at multi-tasking. It's not so hard to root for Obama and work on leveling the field for the next women.

“Getting ‘even’ is the best revenge.”

Um, okay, Ellen. Give me a few more days, and I’ll consider rooting for Obama.

About leveling that playing field for the next woman? I officially left the Democratic party the other day and registered as an independent. Yep. Independent. It has a nice ring to it. As I’ve noted elsewhere, I no longer have any obligation whatsoever to the sexist political hacks of either party and if it appears the Dems have not yet learned that misogyny no longer cuts it, I’ll remember in November to vote present.

*Bold emphasis on subheads is my added touch.