Re: Are We Relying On Drudge Now Bleg?

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LB, what are you getting at? Why would others beyond Drudge receive it? Why do you think that the HRC campaign is merely allegedly emailing this around after they've issued two nondenials?


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:24 AM
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I agree with the Smashman. People send things to Drudge when they want to maintain deniability. But in this case, even that issue is moot, because the Clinton campaign hasn't denied it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:28 AM
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First, I put this up before I saw the nondenial.

Second, I'm still skeptical about the story as a intentional smear of Obama by the HRC campaign. The 'circulated internally with whining about HRC's press, and then Drudge got his hands on it, and seized the opportunity to hit them both at once' theory seems just as likely -- if that's what happened, the HRC wouldn't have been able to deny circulating it, and being snotty about it the way they were is probably tactically better for them than saying "We didn't mean it to go up on Drudge".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:29 AM
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that issue is moot, because the Clinton campaign hasn't denied it.

It's a non-denial non-denial.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:32 AM
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I think you're wrong. If the Clinton campaign didn't send it to Drudge, they could say so, since Drudge isn't going to say who did send it to him (unless it was the Clinton campaign).


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:32 AM
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Meanwhile, I just came across this fine Peggy Noonan statement about Michelle Obama:

I wonder if she knows that some people look at her and think "Man, she got it all."

Can we just cut to the chase and ask Obama's opponents to point out that there's no way America is going to nominate an uppity darkie? Holy fuck.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:32 AM
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There's a fair chance I'm just digging in my heels because I started arguing on this side, and I'll regret it in retrospect. I'm just stuck on the fact that we know what side Drudge is on. He gets a story that makes HRC look desperate and sleazy, and makes Obama look like a Muslim mole; assuming that taking it at face value fairly represents HRC's actions seems unsuspicious.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:34 AM
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7: You've got to be kidding me.

Who brought up the fact that Hillary has taken pictures in native garb all over the world?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:37 AM
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You are digging your heels in, I think. Drudge's credibility is such that if Clinton's campaign flatly denied it I would take their word for it--though I will NOT extend such charity during the general election, when you know this crap is coming. But they didn't deny it, this isn't unprecedented, & no, Williams answer isn't tactically better because it's obvious bullshit.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:39 AM
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"Man, she got it all."

Stay classy, Peggy. Me, I think, "Man, she got it goin' on."


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:42 AM
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I think, "Man, she got it goin' on."

Honky.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:44 AM
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I dunno -- I think a flat denial makes them look like clowns, and wouldn't clear them much better than the non-denial. A flat denial would have to be something like "Yeah, [someone on our staff] sent the photo around to [500 people on our staff] complaining that we're only losing because the press loves Obama, and if they didn't they'd be making a fuss about stuff like this picture. And then someone forwarded it to Drudge, but we honestly didn't mean that to happen." It's whiny and not competent looking, and leaves them wide open to the "Yeah, right, they didn't mean the email to get around" response -- it doesn't actually clear them convincingly.

The statement as issued, which is essentially saying "what are you complaining about? It's a real picture, and there are pictures of our candidate dressed up silly as well," at least sounds forceful.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:46 AM
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Because it's damaging to everyone involved (except Drudge) the truth would out if it were otherwise. I think that the Williams's quote addresses the fact that Drudge didn't spin this the way they might have hoped. That hope was the reason they sent this to Drudge and only Drudge—almost anyone else who received it would have made the smear the whole story.

Howard Kurtz has a piece today about sex scandals that brings up some somewhat related points, including the way that Drudge/tabloids work vis-a-vis the MSM.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:47 AM
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Heel-digging. It would be very easy for the Clinton campaign to deny it, point out that the picture has been available publicly, and simultaneously take the high ground (we would never say such a thing, and welcome condemnation of all attacks) while slamming the Obama campaign for being whiny (we are not certain why Senator Obama would hasten to assume to pin this on us.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:48 AM
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I think that the Williams's quote addresses the fact that Drudge didn't spin this the way they might have hoped. That hope was the reason they sent this to Drudge and only Drudge--almost anyone else who received it would have made the smear the whole story.

Yeah, the best this could possibly be is a fuckup by the Clinton campaign. Fucking up by trusting Matt Drudge, of all people, not to screw her over, seems so unlikely that almost any plausible alternative seems likelier.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:49 AM
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Peggy Noonan needs never to say anything else again, ever.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:52 AM
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13 - Why am I not surprised that soi-disant media critic Howie Kurtz calls the lobbyist portions of the story "old news" and focuses on the (thinly sourced) adultery bits of the stories? Kurtz is the Nedra Pickler of media criticism.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:52 AM
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" think a flat denial makes them look like clowns, and wouldn't clear them much better than the non-denial. A flat denial would have to be something like "Yeah, [someone on our staff] sent the photo around to [500 people on our staff] complaining that we're only losing because the press loves Obama, and if they didn't they'd be making a fuss about stuff like this picture. And then someone forwarded it to Drudge, but we honestly didn't mean that to happen."

Um, that wouldn't actually be a denial. I thought you were saying that Drudge might be simply lying about the source--if not, I'm not really sure what your point is at all. It could be that it really was unauthorized by the campaign, but if so the minimum decent thing to do would be to say: we apologize, it was very stupid & we've told the person who forwarded it never to do that again, not to come out with a disinegenuous crappy response.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:52 AM
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It would be very easy for the Clinton campaign to deny it,

They couldn't flatly deny it if they did circulate it to anyone -- they'd have to say that they even though they did email it around, they didn't intend to for it to be a big public thing, at which point the denial doesn't do them any good, publicity-wise. Anyone wanting to call them sleazy would still call them sleazy after a denial like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:53 AM
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17: I don't care for him either but you can hardly saying he's writing up the media response the wrong way by saying that the focus has been on the sex. Whether that's useful or not, whatever, but that's his beat.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:54 AM
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The question mark is in the wrong place.


Posted by: Auto-banned | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:54 AM
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18: It would be a denial of wrongdoing. Sending the photo around internally with an email bitching about how Hillary would have gotten savaged for a picture like that would have been whiny, but not wrongful -- the wrongdoing would have been intentionally using it as a campaign tactic. Once such an email got to Drudge, though, it'd leave them in a spot with not a lot of good options.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:55 AM
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Once again we see that while HRC is in many respects a strong candidate, she's got an absolutely unbelievably bad campaign staff. Did Penn hire Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's press people or something? Either they can't even manage to launch an email whisper attack against Secret Islamofascist Boogieman Obama without leaving their fingerprints on it, or she doesn't have anyone in her press office who understands that the first step towards plausible deniability is to deny things that really aren't your fault.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:56 AM
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19: Yes, they could. If they didn't send it to Drudge, they could say so. Some junior on staff sent this, not the campaign and certainly not with the knowledge or the permission of the campaign. We flatly condemn it, we call on Obama to play nice, we have fired that staffer. (Done and done.)

You really think the Williams answer as it stands is strong? I get it that you don't like Drudge but. . .


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:57 AM
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Yes, but: (1) they didn't do that either; (2) if you're not disputing the accuracy of Drudge's account in any respect, what is the possible point of saying: "we shouldn't listen because it's Drudge"?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:57 AM
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I don't care for him either but you can hardly saying he's writing up the media response the wrong way by saying that the focus has been on the sex.

Except hasn't the response pretty universally been condmenation of the Times for running the story as written? While the Post and others have moved the lobbyist/corruption story down the field a bit, helped by McCain's series of bridge-too-far denials of any involvement with Paxson. I'm just not surprised that Kurtz would take the opportunity to twit the Times while ignoring the actually damaging stuff as "old news".


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:58 AM
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19: I've lost track of what we were arguing. Is it the claim that there was no such e-mail forwarded to Drudge, or that there was an e-mail forwarded to Drudge, but it was by accident? Is it what her response should have been were her campaign innocent of it, or what her response should have been had they forwarded it?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:00 AM
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26: If you're saying that Kurtz doesn't do the actual necessary work of making news that has already been reported but has never taken stick then yes, that is true. I do think that Kurtz's column should be a cri de coeur about the media's relationship with John McCain, and insofar as it isn't, Kurtz is basically useless as a critic of political media. Still, though, in this one respect, I think he wrote the media treatment accurately: It is old news that McCain's corrupt, it's just that no one cares.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:03 AM
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Pwned by 25. 'Drudge isn't accurate' is not a claim that pairs well with 'But we can't deny that he has an e-mail from the campaign.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:05 AM
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I thought LB was offering an alternative theory of the crime. The picture is being circulated among Clintonistas, and one of them forwards it to Drudge, not as a part of a coordinated or authorized campaign. The Clinton camp doesn't deny it because denying that they meant to do it makes them seem not in control of their campaign.

That's implausible, obviously, not least because sending this to Drudge without authorization would be a "you'll never work in politics again" offense; I can't see some random staffer thinking "I'll bet Matt would get a kick out of this!"


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:05 AM
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24, 25: The thing is, people can lie. If they wanted to float this without taking responsibility, they could have pushed it to Drudge through a cut-out, and said "Wasn't us" like Bush did with the 2000 pushpolls against McCain. If they wanted to take responsibility, they could say "Yeah, we thought everyone should see these pictures, that's why we sent them around."

The non-denial looks to me like someone who won't lie (if they were going to lie, they could have set it up properly in the first place) but doesn't want to actually say whatever the truth is out loud, and that looks like covering error, not malice.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:06 AM
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30's right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:07 AM
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You know, it's pretty hard to get a paid position on one of these campaigns. I find it pretty implausible that her staffers are this stupid. But if so--then the campaign has a responsibility to deal with this shit, & it's ludicrous to expect Obama & his supporters to construct elaborate rationalizations for it & be oh-so-charitable instead of treating this exactly like they'd treat it if it came from a Republican campaign. And it is bullshit to denounce them for "relying on Drudge" if you are not even claiming that Drudge is being inaccurate.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:12 AM
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(though I guess you wrote the post before Williams' thing came up, & switched from the "don't rely on Drudge" hypothesis to "maybe it was a screwup" hypothesis.)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:13 AM
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6: I wonder if she knows that some people look at her and think "Man, she got it all."

I'm not getting why this statement is objectionable -- can someone explain it to the dumb guy?


Posted by: d7c | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:15 AM
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Williams's response was terribly, and makes it blatantly obvious that they were responsible.

So far as I can tell, what happened is that Drudge burned them, and now they're screwed. They look terrible at this point no matter what they do, but if they hadn't purposefully leaked it to Drudge, I think they would have made a real denial.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:17 AM
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I'm not getting why this statement is objectionable -- can someone explain it to the dumb guy?

It's written in such a way that it's deniable, but Peggy Noonan is putting on African-American vernacular English ("She got it all" rather than "She's got it all"), because she's fucking classy like that.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:21 AM
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35: Because it's a double stroke of racism, implying that Michelle Obama is doing just fine and needn't be reaching above her station, and because Noonan metaphorically put on blackface to finish the sentence. (Ew. Sorry for that image.)


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:22 AM
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Curse you, snarkout.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:23 AM
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Who is more incredibly annoying, Peggy Noonan or Maureen Dowd? It's close, but I'd have to say Peggy.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:26 AM
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I think it's actually cleverly done of that dolphinfucker Noonan, because when people call her on her racist, Reagan-fellating ass, she'll just say that she was just using the past participle and why are people so sensitive these days?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:27 AM
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LB is digging in her heels so far they're sending up a rooster tail of dirt as she rapidly disappears below ground.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:28 AM
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33: I haven't said, or meant to say a bad thing about the Obama campaign; they should say what they like about the whole thing. And when the post went up, I understood Drudge's claim to be that the HRC campaign had circulated the picture broadly, rather than just having sent it to Drudge -- that was what I was asking about: whether there was any direct evidence that there had been an attempt to publicize the picture generally, or if the only person claiming to have received it from the HRC campaign was Drudge, and as of now it looks as if the only person claiming to have received it from the HRC campaign was, in fact, Drudge.

On the point that it couldn't have gotten to Drudge through a fuckup -- there, it seems clear that it getting to Drudge was a fuckup however it happened: it's going to hurt HRC's campaign a bunch more than it could possibly help. The question is just who fucked up? The top levels of the campaign, but doing something evil and stupid with HRC's authorization, or someone lower down being evil and stupid on their own.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:30 AM
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If they didn't send it to Drudge, they could say so. Some junior on staff sent this, not the campaign and certainly not with the knowledge or the permission of the campaign. We flatly condemn it, we call on Obama to play nice, we have fired that staffer. (Done and done.)

You're assuming that the staffer admits his mistake to the his bosses. That is not necessarily likely. I find it plausible that Drudge said it came from the campaign, Hillary's people find that possible, but don't know for certain, so they can't deny it came from them, but don't want to apologize until they're certain they need to.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:34 AM
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Big difference between "Clinton campaign fuckup" and "Clinton campaign fucked up."


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:35 AM
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they should say what they like about the whole thing

Such as, which campaign more closely resembles the kind of effective, efficient, disciplined and high-minded government you'd like to see?

This has reminded me that there's a photo of me wearing a shalwar kameez and firing an AK-47 in Pakistan; I should track down the negative if I ever decide to go into politics.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:37 AM
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You know, it's pretty hard to get a paid position on one of these campaigns.

Depend on when you apply. And on who you know, as well. You can get hired with no experience at all.

sending this to Drudge without authorization would be a "you'll never work in politics again" offense;

There are people in campaigns who see doing it as a one-off thing, you know. Either because they figure they'll be doing other stuff in the future, or they don't like it.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:38 AM
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I find it plausible that Drudge said it came from the campaign, Hillary's people find that possible, but don't know for certain, so they can't deny it came from them, but don't want to apologize until they're certain they need to.

Me too. But if that were the case, they'd have given a different code response to the Politico.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:42 AM
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they'd have given a different code response

Jesus, I hate this shit. There's a perfectly good chance you're right, that all the code responses are perfectly transparently comprehensible and never lead to miscommunication, but somehow I doubt it -- if the code were that transparent, why have a code at all?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:46 AM
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I didn't even know Tina Fey was still on SNL.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:51 AM
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49: Why circulate a photo of Obama when you could just overtly call him a Muslim agent?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:54 AM
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It is transparent, LB, unless you're looking for something that isn't obviously there. If the Clinton campaign were looking to root out whether someone in the campaign had sent the image to Drudge, they would have said so, not told the media mum and then later issued a formal nondenial. They'd have said, "Oh hey, shit, yeah we saw that, we know we didn't do it but we think it's possible that someone here could have," and the reporter would have written, "The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond" or, more likely, have explained simply that no one in the campaign did so in any official capacity and then dealt with the renegade after the fact. Put out one fire, then put out the next.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:54 AM
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52: Eh, maybe I'm being obtuse. Once you're interpreting coded responses, though, I get very reluctant to be certain of what anything means, very quickly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:59 AM
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I wonder if this means anything.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:00 AM
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52: Heh. The Clinton campaign just put out a statement saying almost exactly "Oh hey, shit, yeah we saw that, we know we didn't do it but we think it's possible that someone here could have."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:03 AM
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Whatever. You left out the part where they also claim that the email-er is totally right about how unfair the press is to Clinton. And the ridiculous, insulting-to-the-intelligence, "why is he so bothered by a photo of him in traditional garb?" tone in both releases--which is notably similar to the Bob Kerrey "I think it's awesome that Barack Hussein Obama went to madrassa" stuff. If they don't know whether someone in the campaign sent it, why don't they try finding out, acknowledge what we all know the intent was, & denounce the anti-Muslim smear campaign?

By the way, check out the text accompanying the photo in the National Examiner.
The timing is close enough that I think we can agree that it probably wasn't a coincidence that some tabloid & the Clinton campaign discovered this photo within weeks of one another. It seems to me much, much more likely that whichever Clinton staffer got the pic. from the National Examiner than the other way around--you could presumably leak it to a slight less non-credible source, & the text is so quintessentially wingnutty that I don't think it can be faked. But if that's the context where they saw it, & they're now arguing that: (1) it's unfair for the press not to cover; (2) not there's anything wrong with it, is Obama ASHAMED of African village elders--I really am not in the mood to bend over backwards for a charitable explanation.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:17 AM
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Um, aren't we talking about entirely different levels of wrongdoing? If the Clinton campaign intentionally formed a plan to publicize this picture in the hopes of gaining electoral advantage from it, they're scum-sucking weasels who should be pilloried. If they emailed it around internally, and some idiot leaked it to Drudge, and they're handling the flap badly, they're whiny, and not showing themselves as all that competent at handling an embarrassing situation. But if it wasn't a planned electioneering tactic, which still looks plausible to me, they haven't done anything really immoral, just fucked up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:22 AM
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-I really am not in the mood to bend over backwards for a charitable explanation.

That would be hard since you're already bent over backwards for a noncharitable explanation.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:23 AM
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But Katherine, they're just arguing (1) and (2) just to look forceful! It's not sleazy at all! Drudge is sleazy!


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:24 AM
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Did you actually read the link in 56? Even if your "fuck up" story is true, which I doubt, their reaction is fucking gross. So many people on the left go into, "teh enemy doesn't like Clinton, therefore I will twist myself into knots to defend her campaign" mode.

I'm too angry to continue this discussion productively.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:25 AM
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I mean, LB, do you realize how many conversations there are going to be with conservatives during the summer & fall defending the McCain campaign in more-or-less EXACTLY the same terms you're using?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:27 AM
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Look, the Obama campaign hit the Clinton campaign on this as soon as Drudge reported. What else can the Clinton campaign do but say "there's nothing wrong with this, Hillary does it, too"? They have to respond. Which also lends credence to the idea that this was not authorized. Asked about the plagirisim attack, Hillary backed it up. This is the opposite- it's distancing.

I think we all would have seen this photo sooner or later. And if it hadn't come sourced from some Clinton staffer, the story would have been, from Obama and Clinton, "there's nothing wrong with this, everyone does it."


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:28 AM
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The Clinton campaign can say: "the claims that Obama is secretly a Muslim are appalling & our campaign will not tolerate our staffers participating in them"

Headline of the Examiner article linked in 56, where the photo apparently first appeared:

"OBAMA'S SHOCKING AL QAEDA LINK."


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:32 AM
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60: I am sorry; I'm just trying to keep the distinction between the HRC campaign reaction, which is what it is, and the attempted use of the photo for electoral advantage, which would be horrendous if true, but still seems to me to rest too much on Drudge to be certain of.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:33 AM
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62: so Obama actually forced them to pretend that photo's dissemination is somehow not race-baiting? Devious!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:34 AM
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Has anyone considered the possibility that the Clinton staffer who emailed the photo to Drudge is actually an Obama supporter? Let's be charitable now.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:36 AM
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64: but we know they tried to use it for electoral advantage in the response even if they didn't release it intentionally in the first place, which (separate question) they did.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:36 AM
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"On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we've seen from either party in this election.

The Obama response. If you're the Hillary camp, and you didn't actually send the photo to Drudge, then you're not going to be happy about that statement.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:36 AM
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68: so you say you didn't send the photo! OH SNAP WHAT A FOOLISH SLIPUP BY THE HILLARY CAMP!


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:38 AM
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Look people, all LB is saying at this point is that we don't have enough information to know whether the Clinton campaign deliberately sent out this photo in order to make Obama look like The Somali Candidate. That actually seems non-controversial to me. But given their response, their previous race-baiting, and the unlikeliness of some random staffer sending this to Drudge, I'm comfortable thinking that they did it on purpose, but I wouldn't bet money on it or anything.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:39 AM
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65. There are no limits to what Obama can do. None.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:40 AM
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Has anyone considered the possibility that the Clinton staffer who emailed the photo to Drudge is actually an Obama supporter? Let's be charitable now.

Has anyone considered the possibility that Obama is actually a closet Muslim? Let's be charitable now.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:41 AM
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The Somali Candidate

"Uh, not that there's anything wrong with that! Really."


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:41 AM
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70: Yes: exactly, I really don't mean to be saying anything stronger than that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:42 AM
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72: JMcQ is right. It would be irresponsible not to speculate.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:43 AM
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That actually seems non-controversial to me. But given their response, their previous race-baiting, and the unlikeliness of some random staffer sending this to Drudge, I'm comfortable thinking that they did it on purpose, but I wouldn't bet money on it or anything.

I think people are objecting to LB's sense of the plausible: "But if it wasn't a planned electioneering tactic, which still looks plausible to me." I don't really know that it's a point that yields to argument: she thinks it's plausible, others don't. That's just disagreement about what counts as "plausible." People differ. That shouldn't be news, especially after the last seven years.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:50 AM
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Their response is indefensible & wrong all by itself. Or ridiculously tone deaf, which I suppose one can't rule out.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:51 AM
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77: I'm not sure I see that about their response. In any case, you're not accounting for all possibilities. Maybe HRC's campaign is being compelled by a terrorist threat, and their behavior is only meant to buy time for Agent Big Dog to track down the nuke. It could be true.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 11:55 AM
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The Clinton campaign's explanation of what is interesting about the photo - the claim that, somehow, if such a photo existed of Clinton, it would do way more damage to Clinton than this actual photo is doing to Obama, because the press is in the tank for Obama, is risible.

That's really the story? That Clinton would be way more hurt than Obama for dressing in traditional Somali attire than a candidate named "Barack Hussein Obama" who has been the subject of a months-long smear campaign to suggest he's a secret Muslim?


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 12:03 PM
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Is it possible that the Clinton staffer who circulated this is a secret Ukrainian seeking to warn people that Obama is actually a secret Polish magnate who will pursue a policy of enserfing us all?


Posted by: tkm | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 12:22 PM
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Peggy Noonan was on The Daily Show a couple of weeks ago and she totally butchered Barack Obama's name. I'm sorry but if you're a professional political commenter and you can't even pronounce the candidates' names this far into the election cycle, you don't deserve to be a political commenter.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 12:48 PM
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81: might have been intentional.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 12:51 PM
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What's wrong with saying a Somali can't be President? I am America and so can you!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 12:51 PM
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Talking Points Memo has a bit about their own editorial judgment on this story:

When we first heard about this brouhaha this morning, we didn't want to do anything with it before we heard what the Clinton camp had to say, for the reasons I described in the initial post. We know that without doing some sort of exhausted internal investigation, there's no way a national campaign can say that no one in their campaign had anything to do with it. There's high-level staff, mid-level, hundreds of volunteers, etc. That's not what we were looking for. In most cases, in a situation like this a campaign or in this case, say, perhaps Howard w-lfs-n or some other top level staff would say: "We don't condone this. We didn't authorize this. As far as we know no one in our organization had anything to do with this. Our campaign is made up of hundreds of people. So we can't say definitively that someone somewhere didn't make a stupid decision. But this isn't something the campaign has anything to do with." We pushed and pushed. But we didn't get anything like that. The new statement goes further. But not that much. The Clinton campaign is either terribly inept at dealing with the story or they know or suspect that it's accurate.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 1:30 PM
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Link for 84.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 1:30 PM
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But see,also from TPM, this slightly later post:

On a conference call with reporters just now, Hillary spokesperson Howard w-lfs-n strongly denied any official campaign role in pushing the photo of Obama in a turban and Somali garb.

Drudge reported this morning that Clinton staffers had "circulated" the photo. He didn't say who circulated it, what level of Clinton staffer had circulated it, or to whom it had been circulated. Drudge is the sole source for this email's existence. Nonetheless, the media has been all over the story today.

Asked if the campaign had any role, w-lfs-n said, "No, not to my knowledge...I've never seen that picture before. I'm not aware that anyone else here has. I'm not aware that anyone here has circulated this e-mail."

So, the person Marshall wanted to deny it, denied it. (And then went on to whine about how HRC would have been worse treated if the picture had been of her.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 1:35 PM
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Interesting to me (from Ambinder):

I asked Tracy Sefl, the Clinton adviser who was outed a few months back as an informal conduit between the Clinton campaign and Matt Drudge, whether she had anything to do with the photo's journey to Drudge's e-mail inbox. "No," she said.

I suppose there's something for everyone: confirmation that they have used Drudge in the past, and a denial by the person who was that conduit that she was involved with passing the photo.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 1:36 PM
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If you're the Hillary camp, and you didn't actually send the photo to Drudge, then you're not going to be happy about that statement.

Obama is simply offering his perspective on a Drudge story that is uncontradicted by the Clinton camp. If you're in Hillary's camp, you've got to respect a guy who knows how to counterpunch.

Greenwald makes this point today, with a different example.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 1:43 PM
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w-lfs-n did not deny the factual accuracy of Drudge's report. He said that Obama's campaign was wrong that the Clinton campaign leadership was pushing this. As far as whether a staffer forwarded it, he said that he was not aware of it & would not attempt to find out & that the email was correct about unfair press treatment. No one would be close to satisfied with that response as a forceful, genuine, satisfactory denial if it was the McCain campaign; I guess it's good that they worked up to the rote pro-forma sort-of-denial on the third attempt. The argument is just how many times we are expected to give the Clinton campaign the benefit of the doubt over this stuff because she's a Democrat & sometimes gets hostile press. I'm fresh out of patience for it.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 1:44 PM
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87: see, THAT's a useful denial.

I think the Clinton campaign has no real problem with low level people & surrogates engaging in the Muslim smear as long as it can't be pinneed on the campaign. A lot of people in the Obama campaign thought this before the latest incident. But it's reassuring to know that the relevant press person at least gives a flat denial.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 1:47 PM
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. But it's reassuring to know that the relevant press person at least gives a flat denial.

If that's in reference to #87, it's "a relevant press person," I think, to match "an informal conduit."


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 1:53 PM
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Eh. I just think the sort of tea-leaf reading people were doing about "That's not a real denial, if they weren't effectively admitting it they would have said something different," is out of place on the same day a story breaks. I figure any organization gets 24 hours to get themselves together to make a statement in the right words.

The denial could still be, as you suggest, a pack of lies, but it's now a real denial that there was an authorized effort by the Clinton campaign to publicize the photo.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 1:55 PM
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No, it is still not a denial of the accuracy of Drudge's report. I really HOPE you're applying a different standard to Clinton because she's a Democrat & will not react this way during the general.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 1:57 PM
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there was an authorized effort by the Clinton campaign to publicize the photo.

I see at least four words in there that are open to wide interpretation.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 1:58 PM
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No, it is still not a denial of the accuracy of Drudge's report.

It's a denial of wrongdoing. If Drudge got his hands on an internal campaign email, and (as w-lfs-n's now said) the Clinton campaign wasn't intentionally trying to publicize the photo, the Drudge post isn't a result of Clinton campaign wrongdoing (whether or not the Drudge post is false literally or only in implication). You can disbelieve that denial, and think that they were intentionally trying to publicize the photo, just in a deniable way. That's not a wholly unreasonable thing to believe.

But the HRC campaign has denied the wrongdoing that an initial reading of the Drudge post would lead one to think they had committed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:05 PM
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No one would be close to satisfied with that response as a forceful, genuine, satisfactory denial if it was the McCain campaign

I think the problem here is that you view McCain and Hillarly similarly. Some of us don't.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:06 PM
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95: it's true, the Clinton campaign hasn't admitted to circulating the photo, only that they didn't see anything wrong with doing so. Which makes them stupid losers.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:14 PM
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You know who has some embarrassing pictures floating around the internet? Barak Obama


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:21 PM
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I think the problem here is that you view McCain and Hillary similarly. Some of us don't.

Why shouldn't we view them similarly, for the narrow purpose of judging whether they have engaged in dirty politicking?


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:21 PM
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How, exactly, is Drudge getting his hands on these emails in your scenario? And even if it is internal among staffers--look, I know people bitch about unfair press treatment & are partial to their own candidate. But given the overwhelming likelihood that obtained this picture from a report on how it shows Obama's a secret Islamonazi, I do not think it's possible for an intelligent person to believe in good faith that the press's failure to cover this "story" is unfair. It's like complaining that the press isn't covering Obama's illegitmate black child--I don't find it acceptable even internally. Staffers aren't volunteers.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:21 PM
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If nothing else, the Clinton campaign is sending staffers the signal: "these slurs are fine if you don't get caught." Which confirms my worst suspicions. Obama has said several times that the email has always been background noise, but it tends to spike right before Democratic primaries, & they assume that's not coincidental. That's why they jumped all over this.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:24 PM
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Can we change the discussion to something interesting -- like did Bush ever say that Iraq was an imminent threat?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:26 PM
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How, exactly, is Drudge getting his hands on these emails in your scenario?

Some idiot, rather than an official effort by the campaign. Didn't have to be straight to Drudge, even -- staffer to outside friend to Drudge would work too. Emails get forwarded. (I don't know this to be true. The Clinton campaign could be lying like rugs, and there could have been a high-level decision to get the photo out there. But it's at least been denied.)

I don't find it acceptable even internally.

But even by your standards (which seem awfully tight to me, in the absence of the text of the email), internal whining, no matter how wrongful, wrongdoing of a wildly lesser caliber than trying to publicize the photo for electoral advantage, isn't it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:27 PM
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If nothing else, the Clinton campaign is sending staffers the signal: "these slurs are fine if you don't get caught." Which confirms my worst suspicions.

Your suspicion that the Clinton campaign is sending staffers this signal confirms your worst suspicions?


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:27 PM
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Yglesias:

a photo surfaced of Barack Obama wearing some funny-looking (to American eyes) clothing while on a trip to Africa. This led to a bewildering series of charges and countercharges from the Obama and Clinton campaigns, even though the whole thing was likely trumped up out of little or nothing by Matt Drudge to drive traffic.

Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:29 PM
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Yes, but their response signals that they condone it: forward away if you leave our fingerprints off it & don't get caught. That's really all that's need to do to ensure that the "Obama is a secret Muslim" smear propagates. I think the Clinton campaign winks & looks away.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:30 PM
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And this is on the level of a racial slur with me, so I really don't have much patience for this sort of excuse making. But Hillary Clinton is hated by bad people, and that trumps absolutely everything else.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:31 PM
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104: I think that part's pretty fucking clear from the initial fucking bullshit "why are you so sensitive, what's wrong with that nice outfit?" response today & the subsequent defenses. Unless you're willfully blind to it.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:35 PM
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Why shouldn't we view them similarly, for the narrow purpose of judging whether they have engaged in dirty politicking?

Because some of us have positive views of the character of one and negative views of the character of the other. So one gets trust while the other gets suspicion.

Plus, shadowy whisper-campaigns are a well-established Republican tactic. They're practised at them. Even though people have had issues with Hillary's campaign, they don't operate in the shadows. I don't get what Katherine's trying to say about emails and primaries, so I haven't been convinced that she has evidence of anything more than campaign-related emails intensifying before an election.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:35 PM
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But Hillary Clinton is hated by bad people

I really haven't said this, or anything that would indicate that trying to win votes by publicizing pictures of Obama dressed up to look Muslim would be okay with me under any circumstances. Honestly, I haven't said that, and don't think it. I've just been doubting whether it were in fact established that Clinton or anyone at the top levels of her campaign actually did that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:35 PM
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95

"But the HRC campaign has denied the wrongdoing that an initial reading of the Drudge post would lead one to think they had committed."

It's not a denial of anything Drudge actually said (as far as I know). Drudge didn't say the Clinton campaign sent him the email, he said he had "obtained" a copy.

As for wrongdoing, suppose the Clinton campaign had been circulating internally racist jokes about Obama. How much of a mitigating factor would it be that they weren't intended for others to see?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:36 PM
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like did Bush ever say that Iraq was an imminent threat?

I feel the same way; it's just bizarre to me. But different people genuinely hold different standards, and those standards are foreground against different personal contexts, making it impossible to compare even pairs of responses--Bush vs. HRC, etc.--to gain a sense of the rule being implied.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:36 PM
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111: Yep. A literal reading of the Drudge post is compatible with the Clinton campaign having done nothing wrong. He could be entirely truthful, and so could w-lfs-n's denials also be truthful -- they aren't in conflict. It wouldn't be a natural reading of the Drudge post, but it's a perfectly possible one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:40 PM
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And this is on the level of a racial slur with me, so I really don't have much patience for this sort of excuse making.

I wouldn't go that far. In any case, Obama can either manage this or he can't. HRC's people are far from being the people most comfortable to appeals to racism or xenophobia. So far, Obama's managed. (For all I know, the intent is to provoke some sort of overreaction from Obama or his supporters in order to solidify the notion that he's the "Black candidate" and his nomination will inevitably lead to crazy, angry overreactions to problems, real or imagined.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:42 PM
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If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed.

Hmm. I WONDER WHAT THIS MEANS. Too bad you need the "mind-reader" device (also known as a brain) to decipher it.

Seriously: did the Bush administration ever imply that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, or that he was an imminent threat to America? Did Scooter Libby leak Valerie Plame's identity to the press?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:42 PM
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By the time he arrived back in the U.S. at age 10, B. Hussein Osama was already being groomed as a deep-cover Muslim extremist "mole", a double agent who would eventually run for President. To do this, it was necessary to hide any traces of his earlier Muslim indoctrination. Any youthful acquaintances who had seen evidence of his secret nightly prayer sessions have since been eliminated.

Much the same methodology was used with the youthful Bill Clinton, who after returning to the U.S. from his trip to meet his KGB handlers in 1969, successfully concealed his intense Communist indoctrination. This deep cover op succeeded as KGB operative Clinton eventually became President and plunged the U.S. into chaos through his promiscuous sexual affairs.

Dedicated patriotic researchers associated with the Republican party uncovered both conspiracies...but this time, will the nation listen?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:43 PM
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I've just been doubting whether it were in fact established that Clinton or anyone at the top levels of her campaign actually did that.

I'm sort of curious as to what you would consider sufficient to establish that, short of an admission or video.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:44 PM
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"I really haven't said this, or anything that would indicate that trying to win votes by publicizing pictures of Obama dressed up to look Muslim would be okay with me under any circumstances"

What did you think of the Bush campaign's refusal to publicly condemn the Swift Boat ads? Did you think that just showed they were trying to figure out what was that, or as a tacit "go ahead" signal?

There are other reasons for distrusting Bush & Rove much, much more, obviously. But the refusal to condemn it is meaningful information.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:44 PM
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Even though people have had issues with Hillary's campaign, they don't operate in the shadows

A bit early to be drinking, no? We've seen innumerable stories about Clinton campaign threats to donors, policy people, etc., to get on board the Inevitable Train or face punishment when she wins.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:46 PM
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114: you know what helps him get rid of this crap? People NOT reacting exactly like half the commenters here are reacting during the general election.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:48 PM
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117: Well, if the "we're not actually going to deny it" thing that seemed to be happening this morning and turned out to be the denial coming a couple of hours later than you'd want had actually been the campaign's position after a day or so, I'd take that as an admission. If Drudge had burned his source, and it was someone high level who didn't come back by claiming he'd forged the email, I'd take that as an admission. If enough of the sort of journalists who seem to know that sort of thing agreed that it was an open secret that the HRC campaign had intentionally publicized the photos, much as I hate relying on that sort of thing I'd probably believe they'd done it.

Short of that, it looks to me like it helps Republicans in the general election as much or more than Clinton. Given that, in the face of a denial from the Clinton camp, and with the only source being Drudge with an ambiguous post, I wouldn't know one way or the other.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:50 PM
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It's not a denial of anything Drudge actually said (as far as I know). Drudge didn't say the Clinton campaign sent him the email, he said he had "obtained" a copy.

Certain people are suspicious of Hillary and assumed that the Hillary people were sending out the photo so that it would receive press attention. That had to be cleared up.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:50 PM
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I think Katherine nails in in 118. Particularly in the dysfunctional state of current US politics, there is going to be nasty shit-slinging around, carried in ways that are effectively impossible to prove provenance of , even if they do originate from party leadership or whatever. Give that without a lot of luck you won't separate the astro-turfing from the genuinely independent wackos in time to do anything about it, what really matters is the public position pol's are going to own.

The `oh, we didn't bring that up but maybe it's interesting' ploy with this sort of underhanded play is contemptible even if, in fact, your organization had nothing to do with it. Refusing to comment is only slightly better.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:50 PM
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I'm sort of curious as to what you would consider sufficient to establish that, short of an admission or video.

If a knowledgeable person asserted that this was the case, I'd take it as strong evidence. But that hasn't happened as far as I know. And there are two knowledeable parties on the record - Drudge (who offers no opinion) and the Clinton camp (which denies it).

(Of course, even absent a knowledgeable person saying this, you gotta figure ... But LB is making a very narrow point here that seems hard to argue against, given the current evidence.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:52 PM
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113

"... It wouldn't be a natural reading of the Drudge post, but it's a perfectly possible one."

Depends on what you mean by "natural". I would expect a guy like Drudge to carefully word his stories to be as inflamatory as possible while avoiding outright lies. So I think it natural to choose the least inflamatory reading of a Drudge story.

I also think any reporter, even Drudge, would be extremely reluctant to burn an actual source who asked for confidenciality.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:53 PM
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123: It's especially contemptible if combined with: (1) an uncontradicted (even if not totally reliable) report that one of your paid staffers is responsible (2) your saying that you will not attempt to find out whether or not your paid staffers are in fact responsible.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:53 PM
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A bit early to be drinking, no?

no!

We've seen innumerable stories about Clinton campaign threats to donors, policy people, etc., to get on board the Inevitable Train or face punishment when she wins.

You're talking about endorsements and superdelegates? Isn't that a different ballgame?


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:54 PM
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Given that, in the face of a denial from the Clinton camp, and with the only source being Drudge with an ambiguous post, I wouldn't know one way or the other.

Did you believe Clinton when he denied having sex with Monica (true, I gather, for various versions "have sex")? It's probably good to be that open-minded and slow to judge, but I must admit I'm surprised. Certainly I could stand to be a little less judgmental.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:56 PM
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You're talking about endorsements and superdelegates?

No, well before that. There are stories going back for more than a year.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:57 PM
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126: you will not attempt to find out

Did he really say that, or did he just not say to your satisfaction that he'd find the culprit? I mean, they should find the culprit. But an announcement that they won't look is different from the failure to make the announcement that they will.

123: with this sort of underhanded play is contemptible even if, in fact, your organization had nothing to do with it. Refusing to comment is only slightly better.

This seems really overstated to me, given that we're still in the first 24 hours since the story broke.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:59 PM
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Katherine, one of the problems here is that the Obama campaign has, I think, made a tactical error. They took the word of Drudge, apparently without any other corroboration, and then accused the Clinton campaign of engaging in "fear-mongering." Thereby agreeing with the premise of the Drudge piece, namely that the photo is damaging and capable of inspiring fear in American voters.

They should not have agreed to that premise. They should have taken a line similar to that of the Clinton campaign and said something like, 'Whether or not this comes from the Clinton campaign, this is really silly because visiting politicians and dignitaries dress up in native costume all the time and this is no different from Obama going to Scotland and donning a kilt'. Would that make the photo less potentially damaging? Maybe not. But it certainly doesn't help that they've basically "admitted" that that's a photo they'd rather not see in circulation.

And if the Clinton campaign had made a statement which "admitted" that the photo is damaging (e.g, 'We don't know if it was one of our staffers who leaked that obviously damaging photo which makes Obama look like a Muslim'), would you now be accusing them of underhandedly pushing the Obama-as-Muslim theme?


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 2:59 PM
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128: Again, I was agnostic. It seemed like the sort of thing that might have happened; it also seemed like the sort of story someone might have made up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:00 PM
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Politicial junkes are not going to be swayed by this photo. If it has an impact, it's going to be among people who just pay occasional attention. To those voters, the Hillary response of "we all do this" will be, I think, significant. Getting outraged over it only drums up it's importance, and media play. Downplaying it's importance, which Hillary's camp is doing, which will help keep it out of the press, is good for Obama. Yes, the campaign took a cheap jab along with it, "Obama is being divisive!". But Obama hit first, and their attack wasn't justified, either.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:01 PM
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132: Wow. You're a better woman than me, Gunga Din.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:01 PM
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But an announcement that they won't look is different from the failure to make the announcement that they will.

Good parody. Absence of evidence and all that good stuff.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:02 PM
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pwned by the Invisible Adjunct! I feel honored.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:03 PM
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I was going from this:

Noting that the campaign has hundreds of staffers, w-lfs-n would not categorically deny that the photo came to Drudge's attention from within Clinton's campaign. But he implied that the Web site should not be taken at face value, and said the campaign would not be investigating the matter further.

"If you have done any independent reporting that unearths an e-mail let me know," w-lfs-n told another reporter. "I'm not in a position to ask 700 people to come in and answer questions about it."

w-lfs-n also took a harsh line against the Obama campaign, which issued its own harsh statement soon after the Drudge item appeared Monday morning.

"This is an attempt by the Obama campaign to distract and divide," he said. "And it is an obvious and transparent attempt to do so."

This isn't the damn Plame leak & I don't know if it's possible to, e.g., see who's emailed Matt Drudge in the past few days. But I'd expect some token effort--at least emailing the staff to ask if anyone has been corresponding with Matt Drudge & making clear that this sort of thing isn't acceptable & would backfire badly. There has been absolutely none of that. You could tell yourself they're doing it in private, but I have no reason to believe that.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:04 PM
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131: Yeah, this hits on a tactical problem with the Clinton campaign's response; the only thing that's actually out there isn't really a slur. It's a real picture (that is, not a Photoshop job), that shouldn't be an issue in a sane world. We're not in a sane world, so plastering the picture all over the place would be evil even without any accompanying text. But under the assumption (even if not true, it is their public position) that the Clinton campaign didn't do that, what's to say, exactly, that doesn't sound like a confession of wrongdoing or doesn't make the same slur by disassociating themselves from it ("Oh, it would be wrong to say that that picture makes Obama look like a Muslim.")


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:04 PM
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129. I've only got so many hours to waste on the internet per day, tim. (And I've used too many of them, today) I guess I don't know what you're referencing, but it sounds like you're talking about the campaign reaching out to individuals, rather than conducting a broad public campaign (either in the light of day or the shadows) for voters.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:07 PM
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137: Hadn't seen that, or if that bit were quoted at TPM I missed it. Still, I really do think your sense of how much of an obligation a campaign has to do penance for something that (only under the assumption that the denials are in good faith, a position to which I am not committed) wasn't an intentional action of the campaign at any high level, particularly in what's probably the campaign's last week of viability, is overstated. If they didn't intentionally do anything wrong, I think they're allowed to handle it as tactically seems best to them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:10 PM
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but it sounds like you're talking about the campaign reaching out to individuals, rather than conducting a broad public campaign

That's right. A given population--donors, staffers, policy people--may be small enough that reach out to individuals is sufficient to be a broad campaign for that population. All I meant is that they play hard. The idea that they're above something strikes me as not credible.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:11 PM
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Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:12 PM
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They should not have agreed to that premise.

Um, haha? This "Obama is a Muslim" stuff is going to be his main problem in the general election and "hey, that doesn't seem like a big deal to us" doesn't help at all. They have to act like every insinuation that he's a muslim is the same as a racial slur (which it is, really), to make it a shameful thing to say publicly.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:12 PM
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to make it a shameful thing to say publicly

It already is a shameful thing to admit you're a Muslim publicly, so Mission Accomplished.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:14 PM
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"the only thing that's actually out there isn't really a slur. "

False. Which I have said repeatedly & you all just ignore. I assume you'll continue to do so, but once again: the photo first became public in a supermarket tabloid, the National Examiner, next to an article on "OBAMA'S SHOCKING AL QAEDA LINK." Link. Someone on Free Republic noticed it & it began popping up on right wing blogs--and, I am quite confident, email forwards--before the Drudge item appeared. Hilzoy posted her thing on this last night, & I saw that first.

Please note that I have NOT accused the Clinton campaign of giving it to the Examiner--it's just too wingnutty for me to find that credible. But I do think it's pretty clear that that's where whoever forwarded it to Drudge got it from, & that's why the innocent "why are you so upset" tone & the refusal to tell staffers that this isn't acceptable absolutely infuriates me.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:16 PM
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137. I'd be difficult to take the position, in the same mini-interview, the photo is a non-issue but important enough for him to take time off campagining to find out who was responsibile and that there was reason to do so.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:18 PM
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143: Yeah, that's a real problem. I think this thing Obama's handled as profitably as he can by calling Clinton evil for it. Something like this that comes from a more insulated source in the general election is going to be harder to cope with -- I don't think he'll be able to make McCain stand up with him and condemn the slurs. I'm not sure what he does except jump on everything that comes from an identifiable source (and whatever else I've been arguing, I haven't argued he was wrong to go after Hillary. He had Drudge saying her campaign did it; a quick, hostile reaction was his best tactical move, and justified by the information he had.) and then for the third party stuff, have surrogates make fun of the moron yahoos that believe this shit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:18 PM
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NPR is discussing this right now, btw.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:18 PM
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145: But Drudge didn't link to that, no one's accused the HRC campaign of spreading that story. Today's story was the Drudge post; I don't see how it makes HRC responsible for disassociating herself from the Examiner.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:20 PM
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Oh look, the goalpoasts move AGAIN. I give up. Hopefully you guys will wake the fuck up & remember what swiftboating looks like if he's the nominee.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:22 PM
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the NPR story, for those who missed, was basically all about fighting between Hillary and Obama. They discussed the photo and such, but their main thesis was that relations were becoming bitter. That's the story.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:22 PM
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Having read 70% of the thread:

a) I can see why Katherine would be pissed at the Clinton campaign. I can't see why she's pissed at LB and half of Unfogged.

b) I can understand LB's reaction. Thinking that you're going to win Democratic primaries by leaking to Matt Drudge that Obama is a secret Muslim is a pretty fucking stupid strategy. I would like to think the Clinton campaign could do better than "pretty fucking stupid."


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:22 PM
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Nope, the goal posts are right where they've always been. Drudge put up a post saying Clinton staffers were circulating a picture, not the Examiner story. That makes her campaign responsible for disavowing having publicized the picture, not for doing anything about the Examiner story.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:24 PM
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If you think this is swiftboating, Katherine, I suggest you unplug from all media for the next eight months.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:26 PM
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the NPR story, for those who missed, was basically all about fighting between Hillary and Obama

It included the clip of Clinton exclaiming SHAME ON YOU, BARACK OBAMA. My daughters heard that and are now firmly in the anti-Clinton camp (S. said, if she is the president I will lock her up in jail).


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:26 PM
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I would like to think the Clinton campaign could do better than "pretty fucking stupid."

It would be nice. On the other hand, given the D's recent track record it can't be ruled out.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:27 PM
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153: Would you agree that they are now also responsible for apologizing for their early remarks, and that they should make it publicly clear that none of their allies should be involved with anything like this?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:27 PM
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145 is not claiming that she sent it to the Examiner, as 145 acknowledges, but that claiming 'who, me? how could you possible think it's a slur' in the same universe as the Examiner headline when that's likely the source of your picture strains credulity.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:28 PM
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"Thinking that you're going to win Democratic primaries by leaking to Matt Drudge that Obama is a secret Muslim is a pretty fucking stupid strategy"

No, it really isn't. Not in Ohio it's not. I thought that this was a problem in the general but not the primaries, & only idiot right wingers were likely to fall for it. That is false. "Isn't he Muslim?" is alarmingly common & has been a serious problem among democratic primary voters.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:28 PM
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159: Evidence?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:32 PM
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159: canvassing, canvassing training & hearing other people's reports of same.

"If you think this is swiftboating, Katherine, I suggest you unplug from all media for the next eight months."

"Barack Obama is a secret terrorist" attacks don't really seem like a different order of magnitude from "John Kerry lied about his Purple Hearts" attacks. In both cases, I think a decent campaign has an obligation to make clear to their supporters that this crap isn't acceptable. I assume Rove etc. did more than passively condone the Swiftboating, because Rove is Rove. But if Democratic primary voters excuse Democratic campaigns for NOT making clear to their supporters that this crap isn't acceptable, yes, the general election will be pretty unbearable.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:36 PM
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My daughters heard that and are now firmly in the anti-Clinton camp

Obligatory "Oh great, start 'em young."

Katherine, I don't think it's true that LB's shifting the goalposts. Certainly not within this specific instance. And for all either of us know, she would have reacted (or "will react," as I assume this or similar will come up in the fall, whichever the candidate) the same way if it had been "McCain" rather than "Clinton" in the Drudge post.

As ogged said above, her narrow claim is pretty hard to deny: we can't know.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:36 PM
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162: Right, we can't know. We can't practically expect the current crop of politicians to rise above this sort of bullshit. We should be able to expect it, though, dammit.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:38 PM
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"As ogged said above, her narrow claim is pretty hard to deny: we can't know."

I know that the response today was fucking reprehensible.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:39 PM
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yes, the general election will be pretty unbearable.

Which is pretty much what you can expect from politics in the US these days. It's a cesspool, but it's one that's been bought and paid for by the electorate.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:40 PM
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I have to admit that I find Tim's reaction -- how Obama handles it is an important test of his candidacy -- psychotic, and yet I have the same reaction. This is the Republican campaign right here: Obama can't be President because he's not a real American. A less talented politician with his biography would be unable to dodge the charge; if Obama is the Democratic Reagan, the whole thing will just waft away. It doesn't fill me with the urge to vote for Clinton, though.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:40 PM
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bought and paid for by the electorate.

?!?!?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:41 PM
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147

"... He had Drudge saying her campaign did it; a quick, hostile reaction was his best tactical move, and justified by the information he had.) ..."

Suppose it was the Obama campaign that gave the story to Drudge ("look at the slimey stuff the Clinton people are circulating")?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:46 PM
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"if Obama is the Democratic Reagan, the whole thing will just waft away"

No. It has to be actively opposed. Opposing it is not just up to Obama & his staff. Opposing it effectively will involve holding your opponents responsible despite their attempts to hide behind surrogates, overzealous staffers & supporters, fake independent organizations, anonymous leaks & email forwards, etc. If the press, swing voters, etc. take the line that people on this thread are taking, it's going to be a fucking hell of a lot harder, & that's what's making me so crazy.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:46 PM
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167: They (the politicians) do this because people reward them for it. Or at least, their numbers tell them that people do, which is near enough the same thing to them. There is absolutely no other reason for it. Decades ago, election politics in the US began a race to the bottom of first emphasizing personality (and spin) over substance (presumeably because it's a lot easy to sell on TV,). Attacking the politician, rather that the policies, is an obvious play in that game --- the attacks get slimier and slimier but hardly anyone gets punished for it politically. Quite the reverse in most cases. So it really is a case of people getting the political races that they deserve.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:47 PM
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Katherine's correct that it won't just waft away; it will need to be fought hard. Read these comments for as much as you can stomach.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:49 PM
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161: Wait, I don't understand your argument. What made swiftboating swiftboating was not because they released some bullshit to Drudge. it's that they ran TV ads non-stop about said bullshit. These TV ads are surely coming, but Clinton isn't running them.

Are you only canvassing among Democratic primary voters? You must be canvassing among some weird-ass primary voters. This story gets legs, and Clinton is dead in Pennsylvania. Dead. Pennsylvania is Philadelphia at one end, Pittsburgh at the other end, and Alabama in the middle, but guess what? Alabama doesn't vote in the Democratic primary. I bet it hurts her in Texas, too. It will kill her with black voters. Bleeding-heart liberals secretly wish he was a Muslim so they could prove their total enlightenment. I don't see how "Obama is not a real American" will do anything but damage her credibility with Latinos.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:49 PM
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One thing I remember about the various anti-Kerry slime was that it started slow and diffused gradually. So at the beginning it was ordinary people speaking in unofficial, low prestige contexts. Often it was completely informal -- "A friend of my brother heard this from a friend...." Then it reached the next level (low prestige printed material, hack journals like Human Events) and after that the next level (TNR) and then Fox News, CNN, etc.

The beauty of this is that the upper people can claim to be reporting on what people are saying rather than on the truth. For example, if most of that stuff had been brought directly to The Times they would have fact-checked it and rejected the story. (Well, maybe not, but they might have). But when the story was framed in terms of what many people were saying, The Times could report that, without taking responsibility for the truth of what people were saying.

I'm completely convinced that there was a lot of low-dollar people paid to work the internet and get this stuff out with faxes, emails, and blog comments. In particular I think there was a coordinated ffort to get out certain focus-group tested memes in very large quantities (rather than a diversity or miscesllaneous rumors.) It was the "familiarization by repetition" thing -- people ended up thinking "Yeah, I remember hearing something about that.

The one I remember was "flip flop." One of the commenters at Yglesias and Drum ("Al") was salting the "flip flop" meme onto every thread a month or two before it became a common topic of discussion. I don't think that Kerry flip flopped more than any other Senator, possibly less, but this meme was chosen (I think) because a.) Kerry's reserved persona made him seem wishy-washy, b.) it precluded developing an image of Kerry as decisive or principled, which his campaign wanted to do.

I'm absolutely sure that Al was a plant. I'm still pissed at Drum and Yglesias for letting him take over their comment threads. "Ignore him and he'll go away" just doesn't work.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:52 PM
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171: Sweet fancy Moses, Apo. Although it isn't the most outlandish, I like this one:

Comment by Power February 25th, 2008 at 4:09 pm Finally, the blacks will have a voice. It is about time that we have an opportunity to run the country. This day has been long awaited. Vote Obama 08! The voice for black americans.

"The blacks!" I'm sure the author is as black as he claims.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:57 PM
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I shouldn't have read the link in 171. I'm now convinced we're doomed.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 3:59 PM
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173: Did anyone ever figure out how to get one of those "Paid to troll political blogs" gigs?

My current job is enjoyable and secure, but I might give it up to be a paid troll.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 4:04 PM
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173: if you look at Kerry, during spring of '04 there was a lot of stuff about Kerry and the war that was all over the place just as John describes. His medals/ribbons thrown over the fence, how did get his Purple Hearts so fast, he betrayed his comrades, maybe he committed war crimes (Alexander Cockburn was pushing this one as well young Kerry had created great problems for him and the other top brass,by killing so many non-combatant civilians and going after other non-military targets). The Swift Boaters made a run in May that did not really go anywhere. They regrouped after a meeting in June to get everyone's stories straight* that went into the canon as represented in the Regnery book and finally hit paydirt in August. (And even the "canon" was an incoherent mess, it still had some of the John Kerry war criminal stuff in it, "killed a teenager in pajamas", a total freaking mess, only it had footnotes and Bob Novak's son (in-law?) was in charge of marketing.at Regnery..) Sorry to go on about it.

*Knight-Ridder is the only outfit that reported this damning fact, every other outfit disgraced themselves.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 4:06 PM
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While it's important that we all fight back against the bullshit, I think Obama wins because people just like the guy. I think Reagan won not because of any response to attacks of being too radical, or being senile, but because people just liked the guy. There will be people who think Obama is secretly Muslim, but vote for him anyway.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 4:09 PM
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They also actually barely paid for ad runs. It was mainly the coverage.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 4:10 PM
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I thought they specifically targeted states like Ohio in August with TV ads? Is that wrong?

Kerry mishandled the Swift Boat response, it's true. (I don't know how LB did.) But it had an effect because low-information voters just didn't like Kerry all that much.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 4:13 PM
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Rob, you act as though someone could just walk into a paid troll job. Each troll is carefully trained and vetted, and you can only get into the troll school at all with two recommendations from convicted felons and an extensive record of amateur jerkishness.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 4:13 PM
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The Swift Boat ads had limited play as ads, but the controversy over them was treated as news. There was just this buzz of rumor which, I believe, never could be pinned on any official Republican spokesman.

Rove controlled slush funds that could go anywhere because they didn't go through the party. I doubt that he ever saw the money himself at all, he just let people know about projects that he though deserved support.

Probably two or more intermediaries between him and the guys doing the dirty work.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 4:17 PM
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181: Really? I was more concerned that the whole troll industry had been outsourced to Bangalore, where young men and women with excellent English* will work 12 hour shifts acting like total cretins for a tenth of what an American troll would be paid.

*As in, English so good, they can imitate the mistakes made by American trolls.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 4:19 PM
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183: You're both right. American trolls have been largely (albeit clandestinely) replaced by South Indians, who do better work at 10c on the dollar. However, you're missing the sheer scale of the operation. Each and every one of those Indian trolls has been carefully vetted. With a billion people to start off with, you can still keep the numbers up.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 4:27 PM
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Some villages in India are supported entirely by internet trollery. Away from their villages they don't admit what they do, however. They just tell everyone they live by salvaging carrion and trapping rats, just as their ancestors did.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 4:36 PM
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Trolling is an ancient caste mentioned in the Vedas. Trolls correspond to Brahman's isle of Langerhans.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 4:57 PM
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CA used to call me Troll as his term of endearment. This was pre-internet-troll usage. I am wee and would argue that trolls were quite large, but this was never dissuasive.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 5:06 PM
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w-lfs-n did say, however, that the campaign agreed with part of the message in the email -- that if the same photo had appeared of Hillary, it would have been a big story: "It is a common view among this campaign and our supporters that there is a difference in how the media covers our campaign and how it covers Senator Obama."

Can I just note again how risible this is? Yeah, Hillary Clinton is the one likely to have a big problem with having photos taken of her in native garb. Jesus Christ, how stupid do they think we are? The idea that the media is favoring Obama is arguable (I think in some ways, they probably are, in other ways, not so much). The idea that this picture represents one of those ways is outrageous, and they obviously know better. This does seem like a "Will nobody rid me of this meddlesome priest send this stupid picture to Matt Drudge?" situation - no fingerprints on it, but not at all just some dude sending it to Drudge on his own initiative.

Meanwhile,

. What made swiftboating swiftboating was not because they released some bullshit to Drudge. it's that they ran TV ads non-stop about said bullshit.

My memory is that this is wrong. The swiftboat ads, from what I recall, were not actually broadcast all that much. Instead, they released the ads in a few places, and then they got tons and tons of free media attention, which is mostly what pushed the story.

This story gets legs, and Clinton is dead in Pennsylvania. Dead. Pennsylvania is Philadelphia at one end, Pittsburgh at the other end, and Alabama in the middle, but guess what? Alabama doesn't vote in the Democratic primary. I bet it hurts her in Texas, too. It will kill her with black voters.

This is definitely wrong. Firstly, it's not Alabama in the middle, it's Kentucky or West Virginia. Secondly, obviously these areas are mostly Republican, but certainly not wholly so. Rustbelt towns like Scranton, Allentown, and Erie are certainly Democratic, and even in the rural, mostly Republican areas, there will be substantial numbers of primary voters. Pittsburgh suburbs are not notably liberal, and my sense is there's a lot of marginal rust belt towns surrounding Pittsburgh, as well. White people in South and Northeast Philly are pretty racist. She's pretty much dead with black voters, anyway, and isn't doing so well with educated liberals. If the makeup of a Democratic primary electorate in Pennsylvania was how you describe it, then Obama would already be favored to win Pennsylvania. Obama will do well in Pittsburgh, in Northwest, North, and West Philly (and Center City, although there's not too many people here, and the Black parts of South Philly), in Harrisburg, and probably in the well off Philly suburbs. The rest of the state is Clinton's to lose, and this kind of campaign will shore her up among the people who back her there.

I agree it'll likely hurt her with Hispanics in Texas, though, if it has any effect. But, again, it'll help her with marginal working class white Democrats, to the extent that there are many of those left in Texas these days.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 5:26 PM
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We'll see. I predict that if this story has any legs that Obama wins Pennsylvania.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 5:29 PM
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"Legs" and "traction" seem to be controlled by Republicans. This story will have legs if they want it to.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 5:35 PM
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Anyone who says Pennsylvania is Alabama in the middle is repeating a very dumb talking point. It's more conservative outside of the cities. That makes it like every other state in the country, last I checked.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 5:47 PM
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I am from Pennsylvania. I will repeat the talking points I choose.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 6:31 PM
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This is going to be one of those East Side/West Side things, isn't it?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 6:35 PM
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Walt Someguy is Wal on one end, eguy on the other end, and t-Som in the middle.

He's from the internet.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 6:35 PM
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Apostropher is A on one side, ropher on the other side, and pot in the middle. What? He is.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 7:17 PM
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I've a post in the middle, Tweets.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 7:20 PM
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The s is unimportant. Look! "unim" on one side, "ant" on the other, and pot in the middle.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 7:23 PM
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The s is unimportant, but he post is notorious.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 7:35 PM
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The t is similarly unimportant.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 7:35 PM
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192: As I recall, you said that it *wasn't* Alabama in the middle, which is not repeating the talking point. I generally agree with your analysis, except that I'm not sure that non-non-Alabama comes out strongly for Clinton.

C on one side, A on the other, pwning your ass al-l the time in the middle. Word.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 7:40 PM
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Okay I take it back. Nothing unimporan about your post. There's still pot in the middle. I just know!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 7:41 PM
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Is the pot in the middle like the squishy goodness of a twinkie?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 7:42 PM
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I'd always heard the cliché as Appalachia in the middle.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 7:43 PM
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202: it is related to Twinkies in fundamental ways, certainly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 7:45 PM
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No, no. Pittsburgh is the capital of Appalachia. Which ends just east of the city. It doesn't include places like Hazelton or Clearfield or Coudersport, which are simply hick.

I suppose that Cala is right that central PA is no more hickish than any other rural area - I wonder, though, if, say, upstate NY has quite as many pickups with Confederate flags.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 7:54 PM
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Hazleton isn't really hick. It's a small city. It's like Reading without any black people.

Coudersport and Clearfield are way smaller and never had any industry or mining, just agriculture and forests.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:20 PM
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Other tiny cities, like Hazleton:

- Altoona
- Johnstown
- Easton
- Carlisle
- Williamsport
- Gettysburg
- That other burg.....Chambersburg, that's it.

Not hick.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:24 PM
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Actually, forget Gettysburg. I've never actually been there so I don't know.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:31 PM
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Hazleton isn't really hick. It's a small city. It's like Reading without any black people.

This led me to look up the census data on Reading, which I had always assumed was basically white. Reading's got a not particularly enormous black population - about 12%, which is the national average. However, it has an enormous Hispanic population - 37%! Who knew?

192: As I recall, you said that it *wasn't* Alabama in the middle, which is not repeating the talking point. I generally agree with your analysis, except that I'm not sure that non-non-Alabama comes out strongly for Clinton.

Cala, you may be confusing Walt with me. Walt did say that Pennsylvania was Alabama in the middle.

The key thing is that central Pennsylvania is nothing like Alabama. Alabama, notably, is full of rural black people. Are there any rural black people in Pennsylvania?

However, it doesn't seem too much like quintessentially "northern" areas, either - it's not much like rural New England, or the Upper Midwest, or the Pacific Northwest, or even upstate New York and the farm belt states, so far as I can tell.

There's kind of a vaguely southern/border state flavor to the rural parts of the state - it's kind of like the hickish parts of Maryland, or the southern parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, I think. Missouri might be another example. Not southern, exactly, but more southern than one might think. But still, nothing like Alabama.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:36 PM
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He's never been to Gettysburg. That says it all there. I've been to Gettysburg, because I'm an American. But I don't expect Ned to understand that.

And I will never forget Gettysburg. Or Valley Forge. Or Independence Hall. Or the Grand Canyon. Or the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Or Wall Drug (Wall, S.D.). Or the Corn Palace (Mitchell, S.D.) Or so on.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:37 PM
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Not southern, exactly, but more southern than one might think.

Lo, Appalachian, in fact!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:38 PM
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Walt, Wry, whomever. It ain't Alabama. Anywhere I get stuck behind a buggy while driving my sister back to university is not Alabama.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:40 PM
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I went to Gettysburg during my civil war buff days (I, sadly, forced my family to go on all kinds of awful excursions to civil war battlefields back in the day). I don't remember much about it - kind of a generic small town.

the smaller places I've been in eastern Pennsylvania - Lancaster and the Chadd's Ford area (which is, I guess, technically part of the Philly Metro Area) are definitely kind of vaguely hickish, although the presence of Mennonites in Lancaster kind of throws one off.

Thinking further into it, I think the key issue is whether an area was settled by New Englanders or not. Rural areas settled by New Englanders - Upstate New York, northern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, the Upper Midwest - tend to not be considered "southern". Probably the Scandinavians in the upper Midwest also help on that front.

Where the Scotch-Irish went, on the other hand, is "southern" - and that includes most of Pennsylvania, as well as the southern parts of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, etc. I'm less certain how German immigrants fit in, as the other main component of America's white rural population.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:41 PM
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Cala: Sorry, I'm having a reading- and humor-impaired day.

Apo: In the middle, I'm like thirty goddamn dicks.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:41 PM
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Lo, Appalachian, in fact!

Lancaster and York aren't too Appalachian.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:42 PM
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Pennsylvania is a little bit odd. Being totally ignorant of its subtle and complex geopolitics, I would have thought cool 18th-century coffeehouses and publishing houses and let the bells of freedom ring. But I once travelled through that great state with my parents, and we ended up at a restaurant where they didn't serve alcohol on principle, and my parents were genuinely puzzled and more than a little bit irked, and it did seem rather repressive.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:42 PM
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you have to use attacks on yourself to attack back and emphasis your superiority as a candidate. Not just saying "i'm not a muslim" but some mix of "i hart jesus-america so much" and "republicans can't even find iran on the map"

its an excuse to make an attack or explain some biographical point about yourself that otherwise would be ignored

and srsly obama is really sucking in appalachia. whats so different about rural nebraska and rural upland south?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:43 PM
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The cliche annoys me because I've only heard it from people who have never been to either state and ignore that Penn. goes for Democrats.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:44 PM
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The Alabama crack became popular the day Pennsylvania booted out Harris Wofford (big issue, universal health care), and replaced him with Rick Santorum (big issue, sex with dogs).


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:46 PM
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I'm mostly in agreement with Wry. However:

1) For years, Pennsylvania has been second on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of states with large numbers of hate groups. SPLC has its issues, but they're pretty conscientious about tracking this stuff. I don't think they're wrong.

2) As I may have said before, I know a guy who went to pay off med school debt by working in a rural area of PA in the late '90s. His second week there, he got tipped that he -- or rather, "How to get rid of the Jew doctor" -- was an item on the agenda of the local Klan.

3) (Anecdata alert) My sister's next-door neighbor in suburban Phila has been showing her e-mail forwards about Scary! Muslim! Obama.

So it's not entirely nuts to say that non-urban PA is like Alabama.

(Also, Reading's huge leap in Hispanic/Latino population is fairly recent -- maybe the last 10 years or so.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:47 PM
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218 - Alabama used to go for Democrats. Back then, though, Pennsylvania was pretty Republican. Philly didn't have a Democratic mayor until the 1950s.

Areas like Lancaster, York, Reading are among the most reliably Republican in the country, and have been so pretty much since there was a Republican Party - I wonder if the Democrats have ever won Lancaster County since 1856 (Buchanan lived there, so I assume he won it, but since then...)

Traditionally in the sort of standard postwar political system that is kind of considered the default, up to Reagan, Democrats won Philadelphia, Scranton, and the western (Appalachian) part of the state. The central and eastern parts, and the Philly suburbs were very Republican. The Philly suburbs have, like other similar suburbs, been changing in recent years, becoming more Democratic. The Appalachian parts, outside of Pittsburgh proper, have been trending Republican. The rest of the state has largely stayed Republican.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:48 PM
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213: then why is indiana so republican, with a strong kkk history, etc? its such an outlier in the midwest. it seems to have the same majority-german older setttler/farming population that much of the upper midwest, ohio, pa have.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:49 PM
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ie, look at this map of ethnicity by county.

http://www.davidlifferth.com/techblog/uploaded_images/C2k_CountyAncestry-772440.jpg

there is a clear midwest/shallow south dividing line.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:53 PM
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Witt - Once again, I think the key difference is that rural Alabama is full of black people. Not true of Pennsylvania, where approximately half the black population lives in the city of Philadelphia. About half the rest lives in three counties - Delaware County (inner Philly suburbs), Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), and Dauphin County (Harrisburg).


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:54 PM
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The other thing about PA -- and it's not unique to the state by any means -- is that party affiliation sometimes breaks down differently on the local level than the national. County governments in the Phila suburbs have been reliably Republican for a million years, yet a Democratic governor and senator are now in office with plenty of help from those self-same counties.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:54 PM
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(Also, Reading's huge leap in Hispanic/Latino population is fairly recent -- maybe the last 10 years or so.)

Yes. Reading and Lancaster too.

That area has a Spanish-language FM radio station. Pittsburgh does not.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:56 PM
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223: surrounded by Germans. please send help.

Interesting map, but what does "American" mean in this context?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:56 PM
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I'm beginning to think that rural Alabama is full of black people.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:57 PM
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227: "American" is how a lot of Scots-Irish-Americans identify themselves ethnically.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:57 PM
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Interesting map, but what does "American" mean in this context?

Sees self as a white person affiliated with no particular European country.

It is an interesting map. Awww yeah, one county in the country where a plurality of the population claims Polish descent, and that's the one I'm from.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:57 PM
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223 - Very interesting, although too crude to be that useful, since a tiny plurality counts the same as a vast majority. Also, notice the dubious "American" ethnicity which apparently dominates the Upper South. What's that about?

222 - Indiana is what Illinois would be like without Chicago, I think, or Ohio without Cleveland, or Pennsylvania without Philadelphia. The lack of a major metropolis in Indiana (Indianapolis, whose growth is mostly recent, doesn't really count) seems to be the key factor.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 8:58 PM
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what does "American" mean in this context?

The footnote says the data comes from the 2000 census. There are a fair number of folks who will write in "American" as their preferred ethnicity. So I'm guessing it's self-identification by that group.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:00 PM
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Dutch in Western Michigan? Finnish in Northern Michigan? French or Italian anywhere at all, nowadays? Who knew!


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:01 PM
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but indiana does have chicago, in the form of gary and the other related areas in the northwest. It just doesn't have big city center.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:01 PM
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225 - That's usually a sign of shifting allegiances. In general, presidential voting switches first, then voting for congress, then for state offices, and finally local government switches. Democrats still dominate the Mississippi state legislature, I believe, and until recently, most other state offices.

228 - Sorry if I went overboard on that. But it's an enormous difference


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:02 PM
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"American" is how a lot of Scots-Irish-Americans identify themselves ethnically.

I guess British Isles mutt isn't any more informative.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:02 PM
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It is interesting that people who say "American" are mostly scotch-irish, not irish-italians.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:03 PM
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Indiana is very non-urban. Cincinnati, Louisville, and Chicago are just outside its borders and serva ll the urban functions but vote in other states.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:04 PM
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"American."


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:04 PM
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Lancaster and York aren't too Appalachian.

Huh, I think of them as Eastern, not Central, PA. Perhaps this is my Western PA bias.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:05 PM
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233 - You wouldn't expect lots of Italians in New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Long Island? What I find odd is that the "French" in northern Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York State are obviously French Canadian, but distinguished from the "French Canadians" in Androscoggin County, Maine. Weird.

234 - But Chicago and its suburbs is more than half the population of Illinois - it totally dominates statewide politics in Illinois. The same is not true in Indiana.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:06 PM
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Gary Indiana works hard. It's not his fault he smells this way!


Posted by: Gary Indiana | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:08 PM
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240 - I guess they're eastern, but they're very, very Republican.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:08 PM
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That's usually a sign of shifting allegiances.

You know, I half-believe this. The other half of me thinks it sounds like the old economics argument that in the long-term, everything is fungible. Well, yeah, if your long-term is a billion years, the nuclear waste will biodegrade.

So, maybe shifting allegiances. If you're willing to say that things are shifting in more than one direction, and over a 30- to 50-year time horizon.

Eh. That's sounding more grumpy and definitive than I meant. I could well be wrong. I don't know beans about political patterns in any formal sense.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:08 PM
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236: "Scots-Irish" refers to (Protestant) Scots who settled in Ulster, not a mixture of Scotch and Irish.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:09 PM
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241: no, you're right.

You wouldn't expect lots of Italians in New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Long Island?

I guess something has to be the plurality. But if "Polish" only claims one county in the 21st century, I'm surprised that "Italian" claims something like 30, including some of the most populous.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:09 PM
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You wouldn't expect lots of Italians in New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Long Island?

I think Little Rhody has the highest proportion of Italians of anywhere in the country. (It's a Clinton base -- that old-school white ethnic Catholic demographic is the unremarked-upon portion of her base, but it's there if you look at Catholic voters ex-Latinos.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:10 PM
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Er, 240 is right. Not 241.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:10 PM
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244 - Well, with the Philly suburbs, for instance, my understanding is that they were pretty solidly Republican through the 80s. Then they voted for Clinton twice, in 92 and 96. Then they voted for Rendell for Governor, in 2002. Then they mostly voted out their Republican congressmen, in 2006. Similar patterns can be seen in a lot of traditionally republican suburbs - Fairfax County, Virginia, seems to be trending slowly Democratic, for instance. Long Island did so a while ago. And so forth.

Yeah, it's a very slow process, and can be reversed, but it seems to be true in a lot of places. The general trend, of late, has been for a lot of traditionally Republican suburbs to trend Democratic, while traditionally Democratic rural areas have trended Republican.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:13 PM
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When I was in high school, I went to the PA Governor's School for teaching (god knows why), in Lancaster County. Most of the other kids were from central PA. (I don't think any were from York or Lancaster.) Their politics genuinely shocked fifteen-year-old, Pittsburgh-raised me. You think WHAT about gay people?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:13 PM
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I think of them as Eastern, not Central, PA.

I think this is one of those where-you-stand-depends-on-where-you-sit things. If you live in Philadelphia, they're definitely central PA. If you live anywhere else in the state, including in those cities themselves, they are defined in opposition or relation to that location.

It's mostly a non-issue, until it comes down to money. When you're arguing over who gets a piece of government or private donor money, all of a sudden it becomes very darn important whether you are a part of a region, a metro area, an exurb....


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:16 PM
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In many ways, the Republican party is unrecognizable from twenty years ago. In 1990, Barbara Hafer ran as the Republican candidate for governer. Now, she's a Democrat.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:16 PM
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248 - I'm not right? Disappointing.

246 - There's lots of Italians in the northeast. Poles seem to largely be concentrated in urban counties with large African-American populations - Cook County, Illinois, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Baltimore.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:17 PM
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I'm not surprised to find a lot a Scotch-Irish identifying as "American." It's been a long time -- certainly way more than a century -- since the main SI migrations, and this is the population imo least likely to maintain much in the way of traditions.

Self reporting after 150 years of mixing, including with the descendants of English and German immigrants is pretty loose anyway, and 'American' is probably a more honest answer than SI or any other.

(I've spent some time actually working mine out, and it's like 62.5% English, 25% Scotch [inc. ca. 10% SI] 12.5% French. Which answer one of my lower-information close cousins would give is entirely due to which stories they remember from childhood . . .)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:22 PM
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254 me.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:24 PM
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BTW, Did people realize you can look up the ethnic makeup of virtually any city or county in the US with census data.

For instance, here is Allegheny County, PA (Pittsburgh's county).

Notice - lots of Germans, but also lots of Irish, Italians, Poles, Slovaks, and so forth.

On the other hand, York County, PA, which superficially looks the same as Allegheny on the map, is much more German dominated.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:26 PM
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254 - All the people I know with Scotch-Irish blood always try to say they're "part-Irish." But they're all mostly not-Scotch-Irish.

In general, I would imagine that white Protestants in the US are mostly going to be a fairly seamless mix of Scotch-Irish, English, and German. Scotch-Irish and German ethnicity, in particular, seem to be nearly erased. Ethnicity still comes out in surnames, to some extent, but many Scottish and Scotch-Irish surnames aren't very clearly different from English ones.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:30 PM
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My Scots-Irish ethnicity is fairly clearly marked in my last name. That side of the family is not-kidding Scots-Irish (Canuck). The other side is English-German-Danish-Whitebread.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:40 PM
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What I find odd is that the "French" in northern Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York State are obviously French Canadian, but distinguished from the "French Canadians" in Androscoggin County, Maine.

I can see how people in counties bordering Québec, where there are lots of francophones and bilingual signage and such, might self-identify differently from those in Androscoggin Co., who are further removed, but it seems that if there's an important distinction to be made between "French" and "French Canadian," then "French" should be "French (not French Canadian)."


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:45 PM
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259 - Indeed. "French" also applies to Cajuns in Louisiana, notably.

The whole thing is kind of imperfect. The census doesn't apparently consider "Jewish" to be an ancestry. It's also unclear what is done with people of multiple ancestries. I have no idea how I'd answer a census question that asked me to name one single "ancestry".


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:51 PM
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Apropos of the French-speaking Americans thing, I've been longing for one of the English-as-a-Nation-Language people to take issue with the fact that the welcome sign of Louisiana says "Bienvenue en Louisiane". Because that's going to be fun.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:54 PM
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The cliche annoys me because I've only heard it from people who have never been to either state and ignore that Penn. goes for Democrats.

I learned it from a Vietnam-born ethnic Chinese friend who used it to describe the racism he sometimes ran into in rural PA when he went back and forth from State College to Philadelphia.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:57 PM
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Indeed. "French" also applies to Cajuns in Louisiana, notably.

Who came from the same part of Canada.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 9:58 PM
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261 - Cajuns and Pennsylvania Dutch are obviously excluded from the English-only requirement.

BTW, another interesting thing on the map was that Hispanics in New Mexico generally consider themselves "Spanish" rather than "Mexican."


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:00 PM
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263 - True, although the Canadianness is rather more distant and forgotten, having occurred in the 1750s.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:01 PM
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Oh, and Acadie was not part of Canada at the time - it was a separate French colony.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:02 PM
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266: True enough, I should have said the same part of what is now Canada.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:06 PM
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BTW, another interesting thing on the map was that Hispanics in New Mexico generally consider themselves "Spanish" rather than "Mexican."

I've read this before. Maybe with something about the Seventh-Day Adventists tied in? teofilo?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:08 PM
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259 -- In the west, I've heard that French-Canadian is a euphemism for Native American. Obviously, people buying into this, if any, might leave out the Canadian. I'm going to guess, though, that most of the people who leave out the Canadian -- that is, people living in Maine -- are doing so to indicate that they were themselves born in the United States. And not Canada.

When thinking about the answers of individuals to this sort of thing, it's safe to assume broad ignorance on the part of the populace. (I don't mean to cast aspersions by the use of that term, but mean it in only an objective sense. For the vast majority of Americans, unless their ancestors came in the 20th or late 19th centuries, there's more that they don't know than what they do know.)


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:13 PM
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268 - I would assume that it has to do with the fact that a lot of them were in New Mexico already in 1848, rather than being recent immigrants from Mexico.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:15 PM
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270: That was the basic gist, yes. They saw themselves as different from the more recent immigrants. In a class about the Spanish Inquisition, actually. But I can't place the specific article.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:22 PM
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In the west, I've heard that French-Canadian is a euphemism for Native American

I've heard this about Montana and North Dakota, I assume because of the Métis, but not elsewhere in the west. Further to complicate the picture, I think in Louisiana there've historically been distinctions made among the Acadian French, Quebecois French and French French.

To some, French-Canadian is a euphemism for the N-word.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:30 PM
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In a class about the Spanish Inquisition, actually.

How unexpected!


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 02-25-08 10:41 PM
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God, this thread is crazy-making. The Nile is not just a river in Egypt, apparently.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 02-26-08 8:27 AM
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