How Obama is Working Hard for President Huckabee or Romney

When President Obama was elected he had several key things going for him:

  1. He wasn’t the Republican heir to George W Bush
  2. He represented a party that stood for economic issues near and dear to the vast majority of the voting public
  3. He promised to cut down on lobbying and corruption
  4. He was a brilliant public speaker
  5. He promised to fight bipartisan bickering and give us a functioning government

Based on the combination of his anti-lobbying anti-partisan approach, he framed himself successfully as a new kind of politician.  He was able to excite his party base with his oratory, his youthful energy, and the fact that he wasn’t George W Bush in a nation decidedly sick of the man.  He didn’t just win, Obama enjoyed a telling victory in 2008.

Let’s look at those same points now.

Obama isn’t the Republican heir to George W Bush

Still true, but only because he has become the Democratic heir to George W Bush, and Dick Cheney (Glenn Greenwald @ Salon):

But the crux of Bush/Cheney radicalism — the mindset and policies that caused much of the controversy — continues and has even been strengthened.  Gen. Hayden put it best, as quoted by The Washington Times:

“You’ve got state secrets, targeted killings, indefinite detention, renditions, the opposition to extending the right of habeas corpus to prisoners at Bagram [in Afghanistan],” Mr. Hayden said, listing the continuities. “And although it is slightly different, Obama has been as aggressive as President Bush in defending prerogatives about who he has to inform in Congress for executive covert action.”

And that list, impressive though it is, doesn’t even include the due-process-free assassination hit lists of American citizens, the sweeping executive power and secrecy theories used to justify it, the multi-tiered, “state-always-wins” justice system the Obama DOJ concocted for detainees, the vastly more aggressive war on whistleblowers and press freedoms, or the new presidential immunity doctrines his DOJ has invented.  Critically, this continuity extends beyond specific policies into the underlying sloganeering mentality in which they’re based:  we’re in a Global War; the whole Earth is the Battlefield; the Terrorists want to kill us because they’re intrinsically Evil (not in reaction to anything we do); we’re justified in doing anything and everything to eradicate Them; the President’s overarching obligation (contrary to his Constitutional oath) is to keep us Safe; this should all be kept secret from us; we can’t be bothered with obsolete dogma like Due Process and Warrants, etc. etc.

He’s extended the same Bush Tax cuts he campaigned against.  In fact his rush to compromise and fiscal conservatism masquerading as bipartisan centrism has been so severe that it has crushed the second key thing he had going for him.

Obama represents a party that defends the economic interests of working people

With revenue cut and war/terror spending increasing, there was bound to be a collision.  Couple that with the President’s obsessive need to appear as the bi-partisan philosopher-king, and you get negotiation tactics so inviting to the opposition it makes John Boehner look like a teary Jack Donaghy.

The quaint term “austerity measures” doesn’t capture the human cost of paying for tax cuts and tax evasions for wealthy individuals and large corporations.  Those cuts are already being felt, and will be even more severe when 2012 rolls around.  They aren’t just budget cuts, they are deep cuts into the voting base for Democrats across the country, and those cuts are going to badly injure Obama’s re-election chances.  (John Amato @ Crooks and Liars):

Every poll shows quite clearly that even Republican voters do not want a cut in these benefits.

If Sperling’s argument is about reforming Social Security and Medicare without taking away from them, then OK, but that’s not what I’m reading here. Do these creatures only listen to Villager gasbags who want working-class Americans to be the only people to “share” the sacrifice and suffer in America after Wall Streeters and their partners caused the Great Recession?

Obama is casting himself as the friend of the wealthy and the enemy of the working class at a time he needs to do the opposite.  His hands are tied by his bipartisan image at a time he desperately needs to break free.  But you get the sense he likes it that way.  Obama has become the willing prisoner of a small aspect of his election campaign – unable and unwilling to break free and become true to what he ran for.  This is especially clear when one considers lobbying.

Obama promised to cut down the influence of lobbyists and K-Street

Obama has

All of this casts his much touted ethics reform in such a harsh light the reform isn’t even visible to the voting public anymore.

Where does this leave us?

Obama is still fighting the supposedly good fight on being bipartisan.  As Digby has observed over and over, this is a one sided battle.  The Republicans – down to their votes – don’t give a damn about being bipartisan and compromising.  They care about winning.  That imbalance will surely lead to the Democrats losing.  Obama is still an amazing public speaker but with the way he’s been running things you have to ask – who is going to go hear him speak?

Regardless of whether the religious right, the corporations, or the tea party are able to exert enough influence to secure the Republican nomination in 2012 one thing is clear.  If Obama doesn’t change course they will secure more than just the primary.

McCain Rides PUMA to Dead End

I know PUMA says they have 16 gazillion supporters, but really, if they number more than a couple thousand I’d be impressed.  That hasn’t stopped McCain from attempting to divide and conquer:

John McCain’s campaign suggested Sunday that rival Barack Obama snubbed Hillary Rodham Clinton as his running mate because of her criticism during the battle for the Democratic nomination. Obama’s campaign dismissed the claim as the candidate praised Joe Biden, the man he did choose.

PUMA, in addition to becoming increasingly pathetic, has created an opening McCain was certain to exploit.  Post Denver, expect more.  I fully expect to see the thousands of bitter “Hillary over Politics” supporters (who Clinton has asked to support Obama) to start a full on McCain campaign.

Honestly?  Given Hillary Clinton lost both the popular vote and the delegate count, there’s no way she’ll be the candidate.  So are do PUMA’s honestly suppose Barack Obama and Joe Biden are going to be more like Bush and Cheney than McCain and Romney?

Former Clinton Backers are not “split” over Biden:

Clinton issued a statement Saturday praising Obama’s decision and calling Biden “an exceptionally strong, experienced leader and devoted public servant.”

Some of her supporters were less charitable.

“It’s a total diss to Sen. Clinton, in my opinion,” said Diane Mantouvalos, co-founder of the Just Say No Deal Coalition. “It just speaks volumes about how Barack Obama doesn’t stand for anything.”

Its her supporters and Clinton herself, vs a handful of loud PUMA self styled pundits.  An alliance of Republican plants, lightweight liberals, and the blindly bitter.

If those who supported Hillary Clinton really are upset over a close primary, they ought to tackle the reasons an otherwise formidable female candidate loss (biased media coverage, a candidate with a few political positions that went against her core constituency of liberals), not try to attack Obama at the expense of instilling a candidate who actually is the mirror image of Bush.

Weekly Standard Lies on Romney and Lieberman

As the Repulicans and the Press shift gears into general season (even while the Democrats by and large languish down in primary season), a number of oft repeated falsehoods are going to start zinging around like shrapnel.  The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes has written an opinion piece brimming with such statements.  Some of them are so obvious, it is extremely hard not to see intent on the part of the columnist.   (Emphasis Mine):

So how about Lieberman in 2008? He’s a pal of McCain, a brave backer of the war in Iraq, and now the most prominent Democratic supporter of McCain’s presidential bid. He would surely enhance McCain’s appeal to independents and moderate Democrats. He’s a political adult.

Joe Lieberman is an independent.  He left the Democratic party when he lost the nomination fight in the CT primary.  He then founded a sham party and went on to win on the wings of Republican votes.  He’s been a very prominent and visible supporter of President Bush, most notably on the Iraq war.

What does “political adult” mean?  Whatever it could mean would never apply to Holy Joe.  This is a man who has thrown temper tantrums and treated his Senate seat as a birthright rather than a responsibility to represent his constituents.

But he’s no Zell Miller. Lieberman is a liberal on domestic issues, including abortion.

His position on the pill suggests otherwise.

The next point applies to Massachusetts favorite mistake, Mitt Romney:

Romney has three other add-ons. He’s acceptable to conservatives and especially to social conservatives, who disproportionately volunteer as ground troops in Republican presidential campaigns.

Conservatives and Social Conservatives hate Mitt Romney.  His floppability quotient is preposterous, especially on issues like gay rights and freedom of choice.  Big Business Conservatives love Romney, because for all his other perceived faults, he’s one of them.  But that wasn’t enough to stop anybody but Romney voters from crushing him in the primaries.  There’s no way Huckabee’s crowd would go for Mitt.

Then there’s the Clinton / McCain angle:

In fact, Clinton has set up Obama to be attacked by McCain on this front.

Her TV ad raising doubts about Obama’s readiness to be president was critical to her victories last week in the Ohio and Texas primaries. She also said in a campaign appearance: “Senator McCain will bring a lifetime of experience to the campaign. I will bring a lifetime of experience [to the White House] and Senator Obama will bring a speech he gave in 2002. I think that is a significant difference.” In Obama’s 2002 speech, he opposed the invasion of Iraq. One can envision her comment in a McCain TV ad zinging Obama.

Sadly that much is true.  I could easily see McCain using that idiotic and needlessly divisive quote against Obama in the general.  Fortunately, as Clinton’s campaign slowly dies off, the failure to make effective use of experience as a wedge will hurt McCain’s ability to do so.  What could hurt Barack Obama is the press’s stubborn refusal to stop hanging on to the myths surrounding each of the candidates, and their insistence on taking packaged candidate prepared narratives at face value.  Media coverage of a Presidential race is like a group of young primary school students armed with crayons covering an election for the position of Santa Claus.  Each candidate’s myths are balanced against the other’s carefully, sometimes side by side without even the hint of self awareness about how ludicrously short of “objective” such actions fall.

Huckabee’s Two Man Race With Reality

huckabee.jpg

Reality is beating the pants off Huckabee in a two man race (NYTimes):

“You know, over the past few days a lot of people have been trying to say that this is a two-man race,” he told his supporters in a suburb of Little Rock, Ark. “Well, you know what? It is. And we’re in it!”

Don’t get me wrong.  That’s a great quote.  The problem is it doesn’t even come close to the reality of the race.  Romney is still ahead of Huckabee, having pulled off wins in more states, and garnering more delegates.  McCain’s startling lead makes Huckabee’s position seem almost nonexistent by comparison.  So who does Huckabee fancy himself in a two man race with?  Mitt Romney for the honor of runner up?

Super Divided Tuesday

Results! (Via ODIM)

Delegates:

Huckabee is back in, meeting Romney at a tie for second place.  McCain has a dominating majority, but not enough to avoid a brokered convention.

McCain: 485

Romney: 192

Huckabee: 130

Clinton has a lead over Obama, but not enough to avoid a brokered convention.  It is a lead, but not a commanding one.

Clinton: 506

Obama: 420

Its interesting to look at the number of states each candidate won:

McCain: 9

Romney: 6

Huckabee: 5

Clinton: 8

Obama: 13

Both parties heading into a brokered convention is both historic and telling.  One has to wonder to what extent people are fed up with their choices, and to what extent people are genuinely split.  This country wants to go in some pretty divergent directions.  The man who ran on being a “uniter, not a divider” has left this country beyond the polarization of party lines.  He has left each great house of American politics a house divided.

McCain Wins Giuliani’s Mantle

Will he absorb any of his policies?

John McCain won yet another primary, placing him in a solid lead and granting the Republicans something they’ve lacked this entire campaign.  A front runner.  Mitt Romney has been, effectively, blasted as inauthentic.  He’s done the best in a state where his father built a reputation, and one with a large Mormon constituency.  How likely is he to see a repeat?

Rudy is planning on dropping out and endorsing McCainThis is not a star endorsement.  McCain and Giuliani align the closest on national security.  Will McCain pick up any of Rudy’s habits?  Has he already?

Democrats United: Pre-Existing Conditions

Right now, you can be as hard working as you like. Got a pre-existing condition? Health Care denied.

One thing all of the Democrats share in common, from Obama to Clinton to Edwards, is the desire to pass a law outlawing discrimination based on previous conditions. (Edwards is the only candidate to support universal health care coverage).

Neither McCain, Romney, Ron Paul, Giuliani or Huckabee have a plan to deal with this. The Republicans as a whole are loathe to regulate the insurance industry on this vital matter.

This is a practical issue that effects many of us. It is an issue on which the Democrats present a united front, and stand firmly on the side of ethics.