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.

Will Edwards Drop Out?

Edwards is the only thunderous progressive left in the race with even a hope of scraping a victory, and it looks like he might drop out.  He’s making brave noises to the contrary, but if he loses badly in SC, how will he gather enough delegates to win?  Where is Edwards leading in the polls?  Where does he have a superior ground game to the other Democrats?

I don’t know where this will leave me exactly, but I’ll have to support someone in the general election, right?  Am I doomed to take a couple shots of Jack Daniels before going in to vote Hillary Clinton into office?  To some degree the problem is with an election system and a media that heavily favors the status quo.  I mean look at the top dogs.  Hillary and Obama, Romney and McCain.  Does any of them really scream “change”?  Oh, Obama does, and on closer inspection I might be tempted to go along with him.  After all, most of the negative “Obama has no substance” coverage is coming from a decidedly conservative press corps desperate to sling anything at all slimy onto a rising star.

But most of the problem is with us, the American people.  People my age and younger are sharp, and going for the Obama brand of change.  But far too many Republicans and Democrats are buying into the cynical ploys of Clinton, McCain, Huckabee, and Romney.  Think about that for a moment.  A large chunk of this country wants to turn us into a Christian theocratic empire.   And they either want it directly, or they are willing to vote for the same people who have stood by for years and allowed our country to become something awful.  They call that experience.

White Supremacist Elephants

Who is going to get that coveted racist vote?  There’s no shortage of Republicans trying for the honor.  If we restrict ourselves to the three top candidates in the race, McCain, Romney and Huckabee, we’ve got ourselves a bit of fun.

Top of the pack is probably Huckabee, who (it is emerging) has some ties to white supremacist groups:

Making coded appeals to white racism is nothing new for Huckabee. Indeed, well before he was a nationally known political star, Huckabee nurtured a relationship with America’s largest white supremacist group, the Council of Conservative Citizens.

Next we have John McCain, who has a long and confused history on such matters:

McCain’s push to cozy up to far right extremists is not surprising, given his contradictions in the past. In the 2000 presidential campaign, McCain reversed himself on the confederate flag first calling it “a symbol of racism and slavery” but then pandering the very next day by calling it a “symbol of heritage.” In past efforts to pander to a far right base that doesn’t trust him, McCain campaigned in Alabama for George Wallace Jr., a popular speaker at a white supremacist hate group, continues to employ a strategist who denounced the creation of a Federal holiday honoring Dr. King as “vicious” and “profane,” and even hired the man responsible for the racist ads against Harold Ford in the Senate race in Tennessee in 2006. [New York Times, 4/20/00, San Diego Union Tribune, 1/18/00; Associated Press, 11/17/05, Southern Poverty Law Center, Intelligence Report, Summer 2005; AP, 6/6/05; New York Times, 10/27/06; New York Times, 10/26/06; Union Leader, 12/8/06]

That leaves Mitt Romney, the corporate candidate par excellence.  From what I could find, he seems clean on the matter.

That’s 2 out of 3 candidates with a troubled history, and ties to hate groups in this country.  Both McCain and Huckabee seem willing to play dirty, and throw wink-nudge racism into their bag of tricks for the campaign trail.  This should make the general election all the more interesting and vital.

Presidential Race: By Delegates

Remember, the race is all about the delegates.  So here’s the count:

On the Democrats side, Obama and Clinton are effectively tied, with Obama having a bit of an edge.  He won Iowa, which has more votes than Nevada or New Hampshire, and won more delegates in Nevada, meaning he is slightly edging out Clinton, despite her having “won” New Hampshire and Nevada.

On the Republican side, its really looking like Republicans are turning out for McCain in a big way as their compromise candidate, with Romney in striking distance and Huckabee looking on from a mournful and distant third.  (Have Kucinich and Ron Paul dropped out?  Because they aren’t even listed on the NYTimes site, but the NYTimes still find space to list non candidates like Fred Thompson).

We are looking at some very different races.  Clinton vs McCain, Obama vs Romney.  This could get interesting.  Especially if either crop of candidates yield VP selections.

Romney Makes Me Homesick for Massachusetts

I remember my first political campaign.  I was in high school, and I helped out with the Democratic gubernatorial campaign.  One of the more memorable moments was seeing how, at the State level, Republicans played dirty (at the local level Republicans were friendly and awesome).  So when I came across this gem on youtube, I immediately had warm flashbacks to the state politics of my youth:

That’s right.  Mitt Romney Supporters removing John McCain signs.

Someone’s nervous.

Romney’s Pharmaceutical Mishap

Mitt Romney (who won Wyoming), is still a serious contender.  Which makes his gaffe about the Pharmaceutical companies such a telling one.  McCain had just finished an assault on pharmaceutical companies when Romney jumped to their defense, mentioning their laurels.  Apparently the pharma companies are working to make the world a better place.  Some surely are.  But the problem Romney has not addressed is multifaceted.

Pharmaceutical companies price gouge.  This is no secret, and the fact that Americans end up paying more for the same medicine as our neighbors to the north is old hat, politically.  But it is still a serious issue, and Romney tripped over it.

However it is the nature of the solutions these corporations fund and market that candidates need to start addressing.  The problem is that treatments make more money than cures, and there is a real financial incentive for companies to invest in treatments over cures.  Not all the time, of course.  One may consider potential lost profits an investment in PR.  A good compromise for pharma companies is to fund research into vaccines.  Not as profitable as treatments, but still a fair shot more profitable than any cure might be.

Romney’s stance is a predictable one.  He is running as a captain of industry, and must surely paint himself its tireless defender, as he once did when running in Massachusetts.  Unlike many of his positions and promises, this one likely comes from something resembling his heart.  President Romney would likely pay special attention to the interests of industry if he obtains the office.

The Iowa Primary Reader

Kos sums it all up perfectly with a post titled The Triumph of our Democratic Field:

Ezra:

Barack Obama won tonight, but, in a sense, John Edwards’ campaign also triumphed. The progressivism of the race, the focus on ideas, the courage of the Democrats — all were products of his early example. He began the campaign by talking about poverty, announced his candidacy in the mud of New Orleans, set the agenda with the first universal health care bill, and closed Iowa speaking of the uninsured. This is Barack Obama’s victory, and it’s richly deserved. But Edwards, running as a full-throated populist, set the agenda and finished second, ahead of the Clinton juggernaut. He said his role was to speak for the voiceless. He now barrels towards New Hampshire with ever more volume. And while his shot at the nomination is long at best, his candidacy, even if it fails, will have been far more successful than most.

I have to admit a bit of sentimentality. I loved all the speeches tonight — from Edwards’, to Clintons’, to Obama’s. I’m proud of my party. I’m hopeful for the future.

Melissa (Shakes) has hilariously telling pictures of the winners.  And also a line we might see again come the general:

Well, I think between this good Southern Baptist Preacher,
and this Muslim terrorist, the choice for America is clear.

Obama’s win, specifically, is a call for change and represents a real beacon of hope for the Democrats.  Not because of his policies,  but because even more than Edwards Obama has the ability to get out the vote.  Obama on the ticket means new and excited voters in the booth.

On the Republican side the results are dire.  The head far and away is religious nut Huckabee, and there’s a palpable sense of discomfort and itching coming from the conservative camp.  Tristero at Hullabaloo has some sobering thoughts:

Which brings us to the genuinely repellent topic of Michael Huckabee. The fact that he won the Iowa caucus chills me to the bone. This is a ruthless, ignorant, and dangerously opportunistic fanatic who is so unqualified for the presidency that no one in the media should have returned his calls. And they still shouldn’t.

His decisive victory is a bitter pill,  a two edged sword.  He’ll brings a few great weaknesses to the general.  From the right his spending and record on crime.  From the left his theocratic tendencies.  But at the same time it is frightening to see someone like that do so well.  It says a lot about far too many Americans.

The picture gets clearer when we look at the rest of the candidates.  A second place finish for Edwards means he is now a contender, and will head into NH with some serious momentum.  Hillary is running in deflated, facing numerous independents and Republicans who will cross party lines to vote against her.  The months of being propped up by the media as the front runner have met with a brick wall of a reality check, and rather than her last hope, NH is going to be a crushing defeat.  Frankly, whether Obama or Edwards take NH, they ought to get together and have that VP conversation.  An Obama Edwards ticket would present a strong and unified Democratic choice in 2008.

Republicans have a more complicated picture.  Romney’s finish at second is confusing.  He’s a compromise candidate, and his inability to pull in first in Iowa is going to hurt in NH, where familiarity is breeding some powerful contempt.  McCain came in third, but he didn’t even break 20 percent.  He isn’t really going into NH with momentum so much as positioning, but it might be enough.  Huckabee is in the opposite position, lacking in positioning, but bringing in some serious momentum.

The only candidate who did horribly who still has a shot at staying in the game isn’t even focusing on NH.  He’s aiming for Florida.  We can’t count out everyone’s favorite fascist, Rudy Giuliani.  But if he loses Florida in the face of a consensus candidate, he’s out.

All in all, the Republican are in for a rough  and divided ride.  While the Democrats are enjoying the rising winds of change.  I’d like to close with these words from Kos:

But tonight, seeing what transpired in Iowa, I can’t help but be hopeful for our party’s long-term future. The youth vote is turning out big, and turning out for us. Independents have had enough of Republicans and are trending our way. The center is moving leftward for the first time in a generation.

Tonight’s message was one of hope.

Iowa ROCKS!

I’m so excited right now!  I’ll right more later, and link to some muy excellente posts, but hot damn, thank you IOWA!

Obama took first with an authoritative 31 percent.  Edwards came in a respectable second at 27.  And Clinton trailed at 24.

On the Republicans side, Huckabee took first (also with 31 percent, weird huh?), and Romney nabbed second at a distant 25.

Heading into New Hampshire, the Democrats are shaping up a strong 2008 effort, and the Republicans seem to be sharply divided between the Romney and the Corporatists, and Huckabee and the Christianists.  Both of those candidates come with severe weaknesses.  Romney is defined as a phony, and New Hampshire has some pain in store for the former Massachusetts Governor.  Huckabee is going to face down Republicans in a state renowned for its love of liberty, and his brand of in your face and bedroom religious politics is going to face a daunting uphill battle.

If like me you felt a sharp rush of excitement and energy, take a moment and breath it all in.  That’s hope.  Hope for progressive politics, and for taking this country back!

America: Nobody Seems to Notice…

Talking about how rigged our country is, George Carlin in a blazing speech throws in this refrain:

Nobody Seems to Notice, Nobody Seems to Care

He repeats it a lot, so it must be important. The Zoo is right on, this is must see.  So go take a look.  Then come back.

Its called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.

Carlin correctly attacks the idea we have a choice in the elections.  We don’t.  It’ll be Mitt Romney as the “compromise” Republican, aptly the most disingenuous in the field, or the Huckster, a false prophet theocrat who is already being dressed up as “too liberal” in a transparent attempt to make him more palatable.  On the Dems side it will be Hillary, the quintessential establishment candidate.  And those are just the politicians.  We don’t elect the people who truly control the power in this country.  Hell, with the advent of voting machines with hackable audit trails and the press blackout when the mischief from 2000 carried into 2004, even the election we do take part in is a sham.

And the owners, as Carlin dubs them, don’t want an informed populace.  Bullshit like “Intelligent Design” and “Teach to the Test” and attempt to dismantle the Department of Education are all aimed at keeping us stupid and obedient.  It works hand in hand with the media oligarchy.

But he is wrong about one thing.  Listen to the crowd in that video.  Listen.  They are cheering.  They hear and echo every spark of Carlin’s speech.  We do notice.  And I suspect the idea that nobody notices, nobody cares, is part of the same damn apathy lie that sucks the resolve and hope out of our political reality.  Well I don’t believe it.  If we find the media suspect, if we find polls suspect, then why believe this is a country of idiotic bumpkins too stupid to know or care how fucked up everything is?  Why not feel the raging energy of real patriotism, and trust that across America there are millions who think as we do, feel as we do, and desperately want to act?

Look around you right now.  Look at your family, friends, co-workers.  The people you meet in bars and on metros, in grocery stores and just wandering around.  Sure there are some who willingly trade political consciousness and will for a condescending security blanket, but there are just as many if not more who are awake, who burn to take this country back.

So we do notice, Mr Carlin.  And we do care.  But faced with such well placed and articulated cynicism, our question is:  “What can we do?”.