Re: Never Tell An Angry Person To Chill

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Which leaves aside the particular electoral math which is really somewhat enraging, given the events of, specifically, 2000.

But hey, I had my brain vacuumed out by Chris Matthews so I wouldn't have to pay attention, so I'm happy as some kind of bivalve or other appropriate ocean creature the name of which escapes me!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:24 PM
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1: Which leaves aside the particular electoral math which is really somewhat enraging, given the events of, specifically, 2000

You wouldn't be indirectly talking about the e-word now, would you?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:31 PM
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Kevin Drum actually said that people shouldn't worry, because look at 1968! That was a remarkably dunderheaded and ahistorical argument that reminds me why I don't really find Drum's blog worth reading. Cute cats, though.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:32 PM
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2: no. I would be talking about the fact that Hillary can't win the nomination without getting up to some really shady shit.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:33 PM
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3: he's so reeeeaaaaaasonable.

I like Kevin Drum a lot of the time, because he's cheerfully willing to admit ignorance, whilst not actually being all that ignorant, but yeah, he can be a bit dunderheaded.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:34 PM
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Awww, who's a little dunder? Who's a little dunderhead? Dunder dunder dunderhead! Isn't him!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:37 PM
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whilst not actually being all that as ignorant as I usually am, I should say.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:39 PM
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4: Point taken, could not figure out what you were getting at.

And sorry, ogged, in the larger scheme of things, pretty damn close in policy. Edwards something else. No point in arguing it at this point in everyone's personal mental and emotional trajectory, however.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:41 PM
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"... Edwards made poverty the focus of his campaign and that hasn't happened in my lifetime and I'm not sure it will happen again, even though it's the most important domestic issue. ..."

How many people here actually believe poverty is the most important domestic issue? I certainly don't.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:42 PM
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Ogged is a leftist motherfucker.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:44 PM
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What do you think is, James.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:46 PM
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Poverty is pretty goddamned important. Number one? Sure, I'll go with that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:48 PM
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Clinton is business as usual

This is the point. Clinton all but literally was the head of the opposition party during the time when the country was repeatedly fucked by these people, and her guys did fuck all about it. Cripes, the hell of the discussion during the first few years of the war was that it was all conducted between the Republican Southern Conservatives and their American Likudnik allies arguing with the Democratic Southern Conservative DLCers and their American Likudnik allies. Which led to predictable results. And now Drum is saying to lay back and enjoy it as HRC replaces the Republican set with the Democratic set? Cripes.

It's the difference between seeing what the Bush Administration did as something fundamentally wrong and outside of the (right) set of American traditions, and seeing the bad results of the Bush Administration as a function of a series of technocratic mistakes. She--and I guess Drum--really does see the Bush Administration as business as usual.

Gawd, she's going to win, isn't she?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:48 PM
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Gawd, she's going to win, isn't she?

Given that the only way she could do it would be so totally enragingly counter to the common sense understand of a fair democratic process that it would totally rend the party in two... yeah, I think probably.

Fun fact: many of the same lawyers who argued Bush v. Gore are now readying themselves to take on the Hillary campaign when she tries to get Michigan and Florida seated.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:50 PM
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She's not just business as usual on the policy front, but also on the politics front. I'm not sure she's really getting anyone who didn't vote for Kerry. What I want is someone who swamps the polls with new people -- and gets everyone who voted for Kerry -- and this allows us to take advantage of the really favorable landscape in Congress (especially the Senate). We need a bigger majority, especially there.

Hillary would rather win with 50.5% and no change in Congress than see Obama win with 55%, 3+ seats in the Senate and 20+ in the House. Can he do that? Maybe. Can she? I seriously doubt it. Every new voter she gets will be offset by two redstaters, or red bluestaters, coming out specifically to vote against her.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:54 PM
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And at this point she's also saying to the most amazing grassroots fundraising effort ever put together "fuck you guys. We don't need you. I've got this figured out."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:56 PM
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I thought everyone knew this about "the progressive blogosphere:" Edwards was their first choice, Obama their second, and Hillary would mean that they'd been defeated.

The "progressive blogosphere" got rolled a long, long time ago. What are you going to do? That's how you learn.

I genuinely wonder how big the difference is between my estimation of the trouble the Administration has caused and Drum's. I wonder if he thinks, "Eh, not a good President, clearly, and not likely to support my policy goals, but not an awful Administration."


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:56 PM
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I was never an Edwards person, by the way. Not because I didn't like his domestic policy, but because foreign policy worries me more this election.

And because, you know, Obama's so dreamy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:57 PM
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Drum seems to hate the Bushies with a passion, so I don't think we can put this down to his view of them.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:58 PM
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But it'll be so great for women when she secures the nomination by making herself the most hated woman in America. Or something like that.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:59 PM
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Drum seems to hate the Bushies with a passion

Really? I don't really remember that. Perhaps in the way one hates an incompetent manager?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:00 PM
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19: yeah I agree. I just think he's taken this "any Democrat is better than any Republican" thing to a weird, asymptotic "any Democrat is just as good as any other Democrat".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:01 PM
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No, I think he really hates them. Couldn't find you a post now because a while back he laid off doing post after post about how much they suck.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:01 PM
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Yeah, I think 22 is right.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:02 PM
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20: It really would be a big deal for women, particularly older white women. I wish people wouldn't try to argue that away, because they're not going to succeed. And it probably would have some set of beneficial effects for women generally, though I admit it makes me much more leery of joining a coalition that depends, importantly, on older white women.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:03 PM
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Look, the usual scenario (and almost happened this year) is that there is a bunch of conventional wisdom pundit-type bullshit and then a few tens of thousand people in a couple of very non-representative states caucus and vote and voilà there is your nominee, like it or leave it. So everyone can take their holier-than-thou attitude on the electoral process and shove it up their ass.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:04 PM
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So everyone can take their holier-than-thou attitude on the electoral process and shove it up their ass.

What are you talking about?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:06 PM
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It really would be a big deal for women, particularly older white women. I wish people wouldn't try to argue that away, because they're not going to succeed.

Agree with this, too. I think it's a legit reason to support her. It's outweighed for me, but I can see why it isn't for others.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:06 PM
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What are you talking about?

Our collective ass.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:06 PM
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Holier-than-thou is surely not how I'd describe my feelings. I'm just pissed off that a democrat is doing the same underhanded bullshit that got Bush awarded the Presidency. Wouldn't it have been swell if we could have agreed, as a party, that having had that shit done to us we wouldn't turn right around and do it to ourselves?

Which is not to mention the bipartisan coalition now sharing the cost and benefit of attacking Obama.

The scorched-Earth nothing-to-lose primary: how could that be bad?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:07 PM
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I certainly agree with 28. But holy shit if she gets the nomination through some combination of seating MI & FL and convincing superdelegates to buck the pledged delegate count: fucking fuck that, right? Fucking fuck that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:08 PM
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27, 29: Yes, a broad brush, but there is a lot of hyper-technical moaning about the "fairness" of the motherfucking primary system and who is abusing it and who is not that is driving me up the wall. I have not once in my adult life had a freaking vote that mattered in the Dem primary. Maybe it will this year (not that I am especially happy aboutthat)... Fairness doesn't even apply to a system that has the kind of abortion that was Florida and Michigan this year.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:11 PM
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The Drum column on 1968 floored me much more than this one. I really have absolutely no idea what he was talking about. Particularly because he didn't mention George Wallace.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:11 PM
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Incidentally, this Texas caucus thing frosts my balls. Nearly 24 hours after the fact, only 40% have reported, and HRC winning Texas is now part of the narrative. She won the primary part of the Texas contest; she hasn't won Texas, and may well not.

On preview, I don't deny that her winning the nomination would be a big deal for women, but her losing in the general because she damaged the party (by, say, trying to seat the MI and FL delegates) could be an equally big deal in a bad way.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:12 PM
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if she gets the nomination through some combination of seating MI & FL and convincing superdelegates to buck the pledged delegate count: fucking fuck that, right?

I'm certainly with you. I would think hard about voting for her in the general, but that's an inflammatory thing to say.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:13 PM
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32: by "abortion" I guess you mean "they disobeyed the rules of the Democratic party, were sanctioned in exactly the fashion they were told they would be sanctioned and then two out of three candidates went along with the sanction and the third decided to keep an unfairness-whine in deep storage in case she needed it"?

That's not an abortion, that's a beautiful little murdered baby.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:14 PM
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Not sure if "executive power" qualifies as domestic or foreign policy, but that seems like the top issue to me.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:14 PM
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The Drum column on 1968 floored me much more than this one. I really have absolutely no idea what he was talking about. Particularly because he didn't mention George Wallace.

That there's a man who doesn't understand the educational power of comic books.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:14 PM
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35: yeah, it is. Oh how dare you feel like you've been played for a chump, chump. I bet you criticized Nader voters, hypocrite.

Blah blah blah.

I love that this is the third bitter thread on this topic since Tuesday and we have seven weeks before there's another primary.

Woo! Love the game!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:15 PM
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31: What if she wins the popular vote in PA handily, by 7-12 points? And then, by the end of the primary cycle, moves ahead in the popular vote overall? And what if there's a do-over on the MI and FL contests and she wins both, even if only by a tiny amount? She'd still be behind in the pledged delegate count by, um, 40-80 delegates. But would she then have a claim to the nomination, to some superdelegate love?


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:15 PM
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I should note that if nobody wants to play the game outlined in 40, I'm more than happy to shut the fuck up. I said more than enough last night and earlier today.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:16 PM
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40: Given that the nested ifs there are about as probable, statistically, as the scenario in Planet of the Apes coming to pass, I'm tempted to say yes, but actually I don't really think so.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:17 PM
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I should point out to all that by "statistically" in 42 I mean "by my reckonin'". Same difference, nerd.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:18 PM
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38: Holy crap! That's awesome! How have I never seen that? Thanks for linking to that. Really, you've made my night.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:18 PM
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"What do you think is, James."

I would go with immigration policy but I don't expect many here would agree. On the other hand what about health care, social security, abortion, education, criminal justice, energy policy, terrorism, environmental policy, gun laws etc?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:19 PM
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You know, it'd be interesting if the Dem voters who won't vote for Hillary should she become the nominee through manipulation of Mich./Florida + superdelegate massaging were to sign a massive petition informing her of that fact. It'd be fascinating, really.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:19 PM
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42: I made it seem improbable by screwing up the chrnology. The FL and MI contests would have to be re-run, and then she'd move ahead in the popular vote. Which, in turn, would be her rationale for why the superdelegates should vote for the candidate with fewer pledged delegates.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:20 PM
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45: Poverty underlies nearly every one of those issues.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:20 PM
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43: And I assumed that you had run the regressions. I'm really let down by your sloppy analysis. Especially given the infallible nature of my own reasoning. Empiricism!


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:23 PM
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the problem with the motherfucking primary process is that it's a frankly undemocratic process that will be decided by the most rhetorically efficacious invocations of...democracy.

which means hrc still has a shot, damnit.

then again, what could be more American than undemocratic processes festooned with the language of democracy?


Posted by: lurker | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:23 PM
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But would she then have a claim to the nomination, to some superdelegate love?

I certainly think there are a set of outcomes that would make her selection by the superdelegates look reasonable and understandable. I don't like re-anything MI and FL; rules are rules, yada yada. But I can imagine that there exists a scenario in which she wins and I think, "Fuck, my side lost," but not that we were cheated.

In any case, my own primary objection is that it would be a mistake, not unfair. I just cannot imagine bitching about the last seven years and then pulling the trigger for HRC, and I can't understand what those people could be thinking.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:24 PM
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47: even those races being re-run is vanishingly improbable. In any case, I think that's actually an unfair reward to the Democratic parties in those states, who made their fucking bed when they moved up the dates. There was a system in place before the first voter voted, and that's the system we should damn well stick with. Everything else is Bush v. Gore to little lizard-brained me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:24 PM
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/rant off

I'm surely ranting at the wrong people. I'm tired, grumpy, my knee hurts, my smegma stinks and I don't love Jesus.

Carry on.

36: I'm trying to get out of this Tweety and you won't let me.
Who the fuck is the "they" that agreed to such fucked up rules/sanctions in the first place. Jesus God, not the actual freaking Dem voters in Michigan or Florida. This one of two massive oligarchic political parties in the currently (but fading) most powerful nation on Earth deciding on their Presidential nominee. This is power, prestige and privilege, superdelegates for God's sake - what rules bind them, people seem to have found some moral imperative around what should guide their votes. Why are they there in the first fucking place!

Some of us pawns are outraged, some us pawns are disenfranchised, some of us pawns will go wee, wee, wee all the way home.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:24 PM
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:(


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:26 PM
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Also:

The buck will stop with me. But these discussions have to take place on a bipartisan basis, and support for these decisions will be stronger if they draw on bipartisan counsel. We're not going to secure this country unless we turn the page on the conventional thinking that says politics is just about beating the other side.

Of course, the Republicans are talking all bipartisan about the bipartisan - did I mention it was bipartisan? - Senate FISA bill. Which is bipartisan. Not like that House bill. It's all about beating up the other side for partisan political gain. Like those contempt resolutions. Which took up time that should have been used on the bipartisan Senate FISA bill.

I'm going to bed.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:26 PM
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even those races being re-run is vanishingly improbable.

I'm not sure that's true. Dean allowed for the possibility.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:27 PM
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Dems in Florida and Michigan ought to be demanding a caucus, if they want a hand in deciding the nominee.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:28 PM
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I'm not sure that's true. Dean allowed for the possibility.

Yeah, my impression was that this was actually the most likely outcome. Here.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:30 PM
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Yes, the "no foreign policy difference" grates. She's campaigning as a liberal Democrat on foreign policy and individual rights, but guess what? Based on her record, her advisors, & her behavior during the campaign, I don't believe her!

Why isn't her campaign asking for a revote in MI & FL? Barring some unexpected Obama meltdown, it's the only way I can see for way I can conceive her winning in a way I consider legitimate.

And nobody make the "popular vote" argument to me please. I'd strongly prefer we replace caucuses with primaries in the future, eliminate superdelegates, & just award delegates in proportion to statewide vote totals, but that ship has sailed--caucuses were the only chance the party gave voters in over a dozen states to participate, & it's simply not possible to know how they would have voted if those states held primaries. A "popular vote" count that tabulates Michigan at Clinton: 328,151, Obama: 0, and throws out all results from Iowa, Nevada, Alaska, Maine, Washington, Minnesota, Hawaii, Kansas, Nebraska, Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming, South Dakota, & Idaho, is a much poorer representation of the will of the voters than the pledged delegate count.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:31 PM
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Who the fuck is the "they" that agreed to such fucked up rules/sanctions in the first place.

Sure, okay, but you run with the party you have, not the party you decide after the fact would be more conducive to the outcome you desire. Everybody -- voters in Michigan and Florida included -- knew the rules. Michigan and Florida -- because they wanted to be more important than the other states -- decided to buck those rules. For this they should somehow be rewarded with exactly what would have failed to achieve had the party agreed to seat their delegations as usual? Especially when two out of the three major candidates (you know, the ones who played by the rules of the party they all, ostensibly, want to represent) got fucked out of a chance to compete on a fair playing field? This is somehow speaking truth to power?

Oy. Really though, Drum's not wrong that all of us here now shouldn't be fighting this day in and day out. I


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:32 PM
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Huh, how'd I do that?

Append some kind of mash note to Stormcrow to the end of 60.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:32 PM
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58: Crist and Granholm put out a joint announcement that they'd be pushing for their delegations to be seated.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:33 PM
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Haven't Canadians fucked with this election enough?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:35 PM
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Preaching to the converted here, eh.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:36 PM
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61: Sure, OK I'm spent, Tweety only got a mild rise out of me in 60 and then he was nice (look we have some artificial horse vaginas in common). Just for the record, right now I am leaning Obama.

Just realizing that this is my 10th presidential election as a Democrat and that I might finally have a "vote" that matters and yet that's bad in some sense is weirding me out a bit.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:38 PM
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63 is so true. If McCain came out for conquering Canada, he'd totally have my vote. Hell, I'd probably volunteer to serve. And I'm Canadian. But self-hating. In every way.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:43 PM
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66: Maybe we should storm their embassy and hold the staff hostage. Or do we do that on inauguration day (no matter what the outcome)?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:46 PM
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You know, between Tweety and Katherine I think my online presence is superfluous. I'd add more "fuck"s to Katherine's comments, but aside from that, they're optimal. Those two should mate for the good of humanity.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 10:58 PM
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39: Seven weeks until Pennsylvania, but twenty-four until Denver.

The fun(?) hasn't started yet.


Posted by: HC | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 11:02 PM
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69: I'm sorry about the pro-BHO tone on this blog, Madame Senator. Rest assured that the lurkers support you in email.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 11:05 PM
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Are you kidding? Tweety and Katherine are wrong about everything. They should still mate though, to produce the anti-Christ that clearly Obama has failed to be.

(Sorry, the election has filled me with free-floating hostility, which I plan on venting on the innocent everywhere.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 11:19 PM
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Especially when two out of the three major candidates (you know, the ones who played by the rules of the party they all, ostensibly, want to represent) got fucked out of a chance to compete on a fair playing field? This is somehow speaking truth to power?

Dude, Obama's and Edward's names were on the ballot in Florida, and Obama found excuses to visit there. Their names weren't on the ballot in MI, but Hillary didn't campaign there. And there was a spot on the ballot for "uncomitted" for Obama and Edwards voters.

Yeah, the whole thing is retarded. But making it sound like Hillary was being especially evil here is ridiculous.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 11:56 PM
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also, sorry, but while poverty is an important issue, I probably care more about healthcare and education. I'm also worried about energy policy, and maintaining our infrastructure (roads, bridges, internet access, making sure our environment and foods are healthy, that kind of stuff). Hillary is certainly, I believe, better on healthcare. But whatever her differences with Obama, the real difference is going to be who can pass the legislation.

As for Obama's plan for a "bipartisan group" that Ogged quoted, I am so not impressed with that. Where's that article pointing to Congresspeoples not knowing the difference between Sunni and Shiia? The President has many different sources of advice at his or her disposal. Bush's problem is that he won't listen to the conflicting points of view and arguments among the people who advise him, not that there's a lack of difference among his resources. Further, Congress is a fucking mess, and congress critters spend too much of their time just staying elected. I don't trust them to put national interests consistently ahead of their narrow interests.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:05 AM
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And I still think Obama gets to be "change" while Hillary is "old politics" b/c Hillary's weathered and battered by her history of fighting whereas Obama is still all shiny, having only spent 3 years on the national stage. He hasn't yet had a chance to be frustrated. He hasn't had time to face Republican opposition.

I get so annoyed with Yglesias and his ridiculous argument "if experience is what matters, vote for McCain!" Anyone should see the fallacy of that. Drum eloquently pointed it out. I've never seen a job app that said "we hire who has the most experience, period." I've seen a lot that require a certain amount of experience.

If Obama gets the nomination, I'll happily volunteer for him if I'm able. And I'll hope for the best.

If these comments are sounding annoyed, well, the lefty blogosphere has become something of an anti-Hillary echo chamber. I'm not blind to her faults, and the blogs aren't that terrible, for the most part. But I still think there's a very real bias.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:19 AM
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while poverty is an important issue, I probably care more about healthcare and education.

Right, except that "poverty" is really just an umbrella issue that includes lots of other, more specific, issues (health care, education, criminal justice, tax policy, etc.) Which is why it's so tricky to address, of course.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:24 AM
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speaking of popular vote, though, here are some fun trivia questions:

1. in what 2008 Democratic primary did the winning candidate have the largest margin of victory measured in raw votes (e.g., total cast for winner - total votes cast for runner up)?

2. What were the 5 states with the most total votes cast in the 2008 Democratic primaries, in order?

I would've guessed wrong on both of these.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:25 AM
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Edwards was just as progressive as Obama on foreign policy and WOT stuff. The difference was that for him domestic issues were the clear priority. So overall by far the most left wing of the three. And though he did tend to lead the blogosphere straw polls, overall my impression was that Obama came close in the big blogs actual writings. The fuck the poor, this guy gives good speech and makes me feel part of a greater movement contingent. (nah, I'm not bitter, not at all)


Posted by: tkm | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:26 AM
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i.e., not e.g.!


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:26 AM
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You're gonna tell us, right?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:34 AM
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General question:
Does anyone, here or elsewhere, actually have principled views about whether primaries are better than caucuses, or vice versa? Or about the proper role of superdelegates? Views that they find more important then nominating the candidate they like?

I'm rooting for Obama, so I'm happy that people seem to be agreeing on "Clinton's trying to play dirty/Obama is the candidate of Democracy", but if Obama had won Michigan and Florida I'd be making impassioned declarations to my friends about how we can't let the party bigwigs disenfranchise the poor Floridians, and maybe even believing them. Wouldn't you?


Posted by: Dr. Zeuss | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:40 AM
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Does anyone, here or elsewhere, actually have principled views about whether primaries are better than caucuses, or vice versa?

Yes. Caucuses are not democratic. Also, this whole delegate business is antiquated. I don't see why a plain and majority vote doesn't make the most sense.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:44 AM
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and


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:44 AM
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1. Illinois. 1,301,954 to 662,845. I would have guessed California or NY.

2. California
Texas
Ohio
Illinois
New York

Illinois turned out better for Obama than NY did for Clinton. He got about 1.3 million votes in a state of approx. 13 million; she got about 1 million votes in a state of approx. 19 million.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:51 AM
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"Caucuses are not democratic"

Maybe, but wouldn't you rather have your candidate than whatever you mean by "democratic"? (Maybe you'll say "of course not". I just don't see why we should judge any nomination system based on anything other than whether it tends to give us candidates we like.)


Posted by: Dr. Zeuss | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 1:00 AM
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Also, I'm with Drum on the whole "long campaign might be good for them" angle. Hillary's team has paid for its arrogance, and so has Bill, but they seem to be turning things around. Both Hill and Barack have solidified their debating skills. And Obama still has time to learn how to respond to the Muslim meme. Right now he's looking a bit like Kerry facing grassroots swiftboaters.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 1:01 AM
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Maybe

I'm sorry, but I really don't think this is a matter of opinion. They don't have absentee voting, which shuts out a lot of the elderly, the infirm, and those who can't take off work, and single mothers who don't have someone to take their kids. Caucuses just are not as democratic as voting.

wouldn't you rather have your candidate than whatever you mean by "democratic"?

No, I believe it's the best system, taking the long view. Sure you might elect a better person by just polling a small group of elites, but any such dream system is bound to break down and corrupt, and would end up worse than a democracy. Anyway, in particular one of the problems with caucuses is that the general election is not a caucus. If the goal is a candidate who can win, one would want that candidate to be strong in the method by which candidates ultimately are chosen.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 1:07 AM
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"And Obama still has time to learn how to respond to the Muslim meme. Right now he's looking a bit like Kerry facing grassroots swiftboaters. "

Really? Did the Kerry campaign arrange to send reporters to Asia to prove the smear false days after it appeared? Did they successfully pressure the respectable members of the press corps, as well as their opponents, to repeatedly state that the attacks were factually false? Did they give their canvassers scripts about how to deal with it? What's he supposed to do, hack into people's email systems & prevent them from forwarding it? Maybe instead of lecturing Obama about this Clinton supporters could police fellow Clinton supporters about this a bit, and Hillary Clinton could actively call it false & immoral, before arguing that they're generously giving Obama an opportunity to "learn to respond."


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 1:20 AM
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80: Procedural fairness matters, if only because otherwise, every so often, someone else will be in a position to arbitrarily select the candidate they like.

Personally, I favor primaries as being most similar in process to the general election and most democratic. There are good arguments for and against open primaries as opposed to closed ones; I support them because I believe the inviting people, even opponents, into the party is a net benefit.

Unfortunately, almost all the existing procedures were designed on the (usually sound) assumption that no contest would be this close for this long. The sole system designed for something like this is the superdelegates, and that doesn't look likely to produce a clean result.

81: A simple majority vote of all Democrats runs into the problem that the general election doesn't work that way. Nominating the unelectable is undesirable; keeping the nomination procedure similar to the general cuts down on those kinds of mistakes.


Posted by: HC | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 1:25 AM
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87. If I remember right, there was some immediate "oh, that's baloney" from the Kerry camp, but they didn't have the volume up high enough. You can complain about that not being fair or whatever, but it's the truth. And if you're best strategy for how Obama should shore up support is that Hillary needs to do it for him, well, that's not exactly what I'd call "proactive". I'm tired of passive politicians.

But, you know, for the record, Hillary has called the "muslim" meme absolutely false.

And as for your suggestion that Clinton supporters should be engaged in the fightback, I think they are a bit busy trying not to lose the freaking nomination. Working 16 hours a day doesn't leave a whole lot of time to go around doing Obama's work.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 1:34 AM
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HC, yeah, the general isn't a popular vote, but the general also doesn't do proportional allocation. Really, popular vote has predicted the winner in all except 2 cases, right? So it's real close. And its other benefit is simplicity. Figuring out how many delegates have actually been won has proven to be a real problem. I'm in favor of a simpler system.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 1:39 AM
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before arguing that they're generously giving Obama an opportunity to "learn to respond

I'd be slime if I was making that argument. Luckily for me, I'm not. I was looking for silver linings, unintended benefits. I don't think anyone is arguing that this is just school for Obama. Further, THIS IS NOT SOMETHING BEING PUT FORTH BY HILLARY. Even if Hillary was in the mood to be Obama's teacher, she wouldn't be giving him an opportunity to learn to respond here because SHE'S NOT CREATING THE ATTACK. This spread with the help of the press, of talk shoes, and by word of mouth. It's spreading because people are gullible, and it's believable, not because it's being pushed by the Hillary camp.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 1:50 AM
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But I can imagine that there exists a scenario in which she wins and I think, "Fuck, my side lost," but not that we were cheated.

Basically this would be some sort of very major Obama fumble. Maybe he has an affair with an intern.

Is there any actual evidence suggesting that Kerry lost because of the Swift Boat smears? I don't see how intuition plays a role here, because a 2% shift in the vote in Ohio is really imperceptible to the naked eye.

Also, has Clinton really done a proactive job handling the accusation that she's a shrill bitch? I'm not really satisfied with her response on that front, if you know what I mean.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 1:56 AM
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90: Yes, well, I would prefer winner-take-all primaries too. This proportional allocation makes for great spectacle but an unsatisfactory nomination process.

Three problems with nominating off of a straight majority of Democratic primary votes: bare name recognition would dominate even more than it does today, resolving plurality results would be messy, and candidates would simply ignore small states.


Posted by: HC | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 2:27 AM
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Let's face it, what you need is a national postal ballot, like every other country on earth. Three weeks campaigning and bob's your uncle - you can get back to fighting the enemy.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 3:03 AM
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Here's the difference between HRC and BHO in a nutshell.

Obama:

"The truth is that right after 9/11 I had a pin," Obama said. "Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security.

"I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest," he said in the interview. "Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testament to my patriotism."

Clinton:

Clinton, D-N.Y., has agreed to co-sponsor a measure by Republican Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, which has been written in hopes of surviving any constitutional challenge following a 2003 Supreme Court ruling on the subject. Her support of Bennett's bill follows her position in Congress last summer, when a constitutional ban on flag-burning was debated. Clinton said then she didn't support a constitutional ban, but did support federal legislation making it a crime to desecrate the flag. In her public statements, she has compared the act of flag-burning to burning a cross, which can be considered a violation of federal civil rights law.

She lost me for good with that bullshit.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 7:11 AM
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And there was a spot on the ballot for "uncomitted" for Obama and Edwards voters.

Cripes, how in the tank do you have to be to make this argument? Fuck, why even have a general in MI? McCain voters could have voted for him in whatever numbers appropriate. Let's just use those numbers.

But whatever her differences with Obama, the real difference is going to be who can pass the legislation.

And it's HRC who can do that, as demonstrated by our present UHC. Or her magical legislative record to date. Or your ass. One of the three.

I'm sorry, but I really don't think this is a matter of opinion.

Bullshit. The idea that there is some easy peasy notion of democracy that we can lay beside a practice and declare it democratic enough or not is garbage. Somewhere in there you need to factor in rule-making mechanisms, and the fact that HRC's campaign didn't object when this was all planned out, but only about ten minutes ago. Or is this one of those "democracy is not really sufficiently fair to the richest and most powerful" arguments?

I'm not blind to her faults

Oh, that's clear.

But I still think there's a very real bias.

A bias towards a worthwhile candidate that was on the right side of the motivating issue of the blogoshere? That might be true. Hope lives, what are you going to do? We'll grow out of it.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 7:37 AM
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I would think hard about voting for her in the general, but that's an inflammatory thing to say.

It's an inflammatory thing to say because a lot of people feel very strongly that Hillary and Obama are a lot closer, politically, than Hillary and McCain. The reason they think this is because it's obviously true.

I can't imagine what issue you favor Obama on over Hillary, where you think Hillary and McCain are essentially identical - or in which McCain might even be preferable.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 7:43 AM
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Beyond my objections to the substance of Hillary's centrism, it's disturbing to me that she's completley stuck in the 1988-1992 mindset (right down to Mark Penn), as though nothing had happened in the last 16 years.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 7:45 AM
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97: The issue of whether or not the Democratic party should represent Democrats, I assume.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 7:45 AM
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I can't imagine what issue you favor Obama on over Hillary, where you think Hillary and McCain are essentially identical

See 95.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 7:46 AM
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It's wrong to vote against a candidate just because the candidate insults you, but triangulation and the Sister Souljah strategy deliberately put a lot of Democrats in the position of wanting to do just that. Running against the base is not as wise or shrewd as Clinton and Penn think it is. Instead of appealing to the base's feelings, you put yourself in the position of hoping that they'll suppress their feelings and vote for you anyway.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 7:49 AM
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I can't imagine what issue you favor Obama on over Hillary, where you think Hillary and McCain are essentially identical

I might have said this before, but I don't think Clinton will ever end the war. And by that I don't mean that the "embassy" will still be standing in 2016, or that there may be some contingent of "residual forces" left in Iraq, but that she really sees no need to scale down America's military presence in Iraq, and will only draw down ground troops to the degree that she escalates air strikes on Iraq and its neighbors to demonstrate an offsetting "toughness." In other words, Clinton is the Democratic Party's Nixon.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 7:54 AM
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80: Zeuss gets it. It's incorrect to say that Hillary proposes to not play by the rules - she's trying to game the rules, which is exactly what Obama and Edwards did in taking their names off the Michigan ballot.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 7:54 AM
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Molly has been singing the Clinton campaign song around the house, just to irritate me.

Have you heard the song? It is heinous, and the video is unspeakable. I have vowed not to link to it, because it is so dorky it could be an election killer, like the picture of Dukakis in the tank. I don't want to do anything that would hurt a democrat it the general election, like call attention to her crappy campaign song video. But if Molly keeps singing it, I may have to.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 7:55 AM
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As far as voting for Clinton in the general, I'm not going to do it. I live in a solidly Democratic state, and the only reason to vote for Clinton in the general is to contribute to her popular vote total - that is, to demonstrate symbolic support for her candidacy. I have better uses for my meaningless vote than that.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 7:57 AM
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she's trying to game the rules

The distinction that you're drawing is moronic. Give us an easy method of distinguishing between cheating and "gaming." Is paying someone to vote for you OK as long as you don't get caught?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 7:59 AM
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And that "vote for me anyway even as I shit on you because the other guy's worse" is something that isn't really all that appealing to non-committed voters, and it's hard to get enthusiastic about a candidate that does that.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 7:59 AM
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Eh. Hillary's domestic pandering and foreign policy hawkishness bother me, too, but (unless you live in RI) you are still obligated to vote for her because she is A THOUSAND TIMES BETTER THAN MCCAIN.

However, you do have my permission to be grumpy about it.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:02 AM
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108: I'm pretty sure that's roughly the plan for most of us, should it come to that.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:06 AM
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105: I voted for John Anderson in 1980. I said at the time that I thought Anderson deserved his 5% and his matching funds more than Reagan or Carter deserved the election. I was young and stupid.

If a leftist can't support Hillary, the Democrats will draw the only available lesson: Leftists aren't where the votes are, and a move to the center is required.

There are a lot of reasons the Left is marginal in this country, but one of the reasons is that the Left has been proud of its marginality. The Christian Right got over this a long time ago, and African Americans have pretty much always been on board with coalition-building. That's why they've had such an impact.

There's a decent chance that Hillary, if elected, would be the best president in my lifetime. Sure, that's faint praise, but the Hillary-haters seem to lack any sense of the context of American history.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:06 AM
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I'd vote for her in the general, solely on the basis of federal judiciary appointments. But I wouldn't be happy about it and, in the slim chance that she'd actually hold all of Kerry's states and the even slimmer chance that she'd pick up an extra one somewhere, would start getting ready to be sold out every month for the next four years.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:08 AM
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would be the best president in my lifetime

How old are you, pf?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:09 AM
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If a leftist can't support Hillary, the Democrats will draw the only available lesson: Leftists aren't where the votes are, and a move to the center is required.

Wake the fuck up, PF. Democrats abandoned leftists a couple decades ago. Don't get pissy if we decide not to vote for a party that long ago told us we weren't needed.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:09 AM
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The distinction that you're drawing is moronic. Is paying someone to vote for you OK as long as you don't get caught?

Nope. I'm not aware that Hillary did that.

I think it's silly to call Obama and Edwards cheaters because of their work to disenfranchise states where they didn't think they'd do well. That's not cheating at all, it's gaming the system, and there were good reasons to do it even beyond their own selfish political motives.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:10 AM
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the only available lesson

There's another available lesson: quit shitting on the Left in this country at every available opportunity and you might actually get some of their votes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:10 AM
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I would vote for her. But I can understand why a lot of young people (when we do it, it's fickle; when the boomers did it, they were revolutionary) would balk and being told essentially, nice of you to finally show up, now that you're here, if you don't vote for us even though you don't like our policies, it's your fault.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:12 AM
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I think it's silly to call Obama and Edwards cheaters because of their work to disenfranchise states where they didn't think they'd do well. That's not cheating at all, it's gaming the system, and there were good reasons to do it even beyond their own selfish political motives.

It's also quite a stretch to argue that they were disenfranchising states when all three candidates agreed with the independent decision of the DLC, but given that it's even weaker to argue that an election held when everyone was told it didn't count really represents the will of the people, and you're holding that position, I suppose you get a point for consistency.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:14 AM
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There's a decent chance that Hillary, if elected, would be the best president in my lifetime.

I think this is not possibly true, since a lot of the accomplishments Democrats are looking forward to in the next administration are impossible in the absence of big down-ballot victories. And those can't be nurtured while Clinton is leading a divisive insurgency against Obama, the opportunity for winning by pledged delegates lost. There's a decent chance that the Democrat with the full support of the party will get healthcare, because that candidate will lead an electoral coalition to victory. Whatever benefit a contested primary brings it definitely comes with a cost.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:19 AM
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There's a decent chance that Hillary, if elected, would be the best president in my lifetime.

And this sense of "decent chance" is based on the twitching you feel in your nipples?

but the Hillary-haters seem to lack any sense of the context of American history.

Except for the last seven years, which Hillary supporters seem to think didn't count as part of the context of American history.

That's not cheating at all, it's gaming the system, and there were good reasons to do it even beyond their own selfish political motives.

So the rule you want to apply is "That's not cheating at all, it's gaming the system." That should be easy to apply.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:19 AM
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Don't get pissy if we decide not to vote for a party that long ago told us we weren't needed.

Didn't mean to be pissy. In fact, this is exactly my point: You've got little use for the Democrats, and you've explained why, and I accept your explanation.

The fact that the Democrats have little use for you seems, likewise, entirely natural and appropriate - even inevitable.

If you want to say "They started it," well, I'd argue that, but as with many long-running disputes, I don't see much point in going there.

For me in November, it's enough to elect someone I think could be the best president in my lifetime - especially against someone who is campaigning as though he wants to be the worst in my lifetime. I'll be proud to cast that vote, if it comes to that. YMMV.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:20 AM
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How old are you, pf?

I'm not PF, but apparently old enough to have voted for John Anderson in 1980, so PF's at least been alive since Kennedy, with Eisenhower a distinct possibility.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:21 AM
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117: DNC, Cala, not DLC. Ack to the DLC! Ackack!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:22 AM
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Further to 115, the entire political career of both Clintons has been a strategy of steady rightward triangulation. If by doing so, they have managed to (predictably) alienate large sections of the left in this country (which they unquestionably have), I find your prescription to keep moving further right puzzling.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:22 AM
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it's enough to elect someone I think could be the best president in my lifetime

What in the world about the United States's circumstances makes you think this is an enviable time to become president? The best I'm hoping for is an ambitious healthcare program, one that's quickly too embedded to be gutted by future Republican administrations. On the domestic and foreign fronts, though, we're looking at fixing GOP-built crises and taking the blame for the fallout.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:24 AM
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Give us an easy method of distinguishing between cheating and "gaming."

Lots of things aren't easy, Tim. Fuzzy sets, slippery slopes, etc. Deal with it. We will ignore your ultimatums until you definitively solve the slippery slope problem.

If a leftist can't support Hillary, the Democrats will draw the only available lesson: Leftists aren't where the votes are, and a move to the center is required.

A different lesson would be to realize that left-liberals are actually part of the core and shouldn't be deliberately insulted.

I don't think that expediency and practicality can explain the DLC positions. I think that they had such a strong and sincere committment to their centrist positions that they were willing to take a chance on weakening the party in order to control it.

Some of the Chomsky-Nader type anti-corporate ideas that the Democrats rejected were pretty hard-nosed realistic. The people screaming about the Fairness Doctrine, media consolidation, and voter intimidation tended to be from the left of the party or from further left, whereas the centrists cut deals.

Or perhaps the centrists are just small-time pork-barrel influence-peddler back-scratches with no point of view at all.

What I'm specifically objecting to is the idea that the Democratic Party does what it does because it's politically realistic. A lot of that stuff was self-defeating in the long run. The Democrats ideas about "the only available lesson" were disastrous.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:26 AM
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If you want to say "They started it," well, I'd argue that, but as with many long-running disputes, I don't see much point in going there.

Excuse me? Have you ever heard of The New Republic? The Washington Monthly? The Democratic Leadership Council? There's no "long-running dispute" here. No one seriously contests that the Democratic Party took a turn to the right in the late seventies that continued on through the mid-to-late eighties and culminated with the nomination of Bill Clinton. Centrist democratic wonks consider the rejection of the Democratic left a triumph of neoliberalism. This didn't start with Ralph Nader going crazy and deciding to take down Al Gore in 2000.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:27 AM
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I will say that I'd vote for Clinton in the fall, but I find it hard to see how turnout isn't going to be dreadful for the Democrats if she's the nominee.

With Obama, you're going to have very high African American turnout. While I don't think that many African Americans will vote for McCain, I do think that if Clinton overturns an Obama pledged delegate lead by winning the convention with superdelegates, you're going to see very low black turnout in the general.

For Democrats to win Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, New Jersey, Missouri in the general, you need to have healthy black turnout, and I think a Clinton nomination at this point would kill black turnout.

You're also going to have low turnout among young people, who are enthusiastic for Obama, and completely unenthusiastic about Clinton. You'll see ridiculous turnout on college campuses if Obama is the nominee. Very little for Clinton.

You're also going to have a lot of independents who like Obama end up voting for McCain. Is there any way to pretend that Clinton can possibly beat Obama among independents.

You're also, I think, going to inspire Republican turnout much more by running Clinton rather than Obama. Republicans hate Clinton, and love voting against her (or, occasionally, for her, as we saw in Ohio and Texas, thanks to Limbaugh). Nothing will solve McCain's problems with the conservative base so well as Clinton being his opponent.

On the other side, there are some Reagan Democrat types who will vote for Clinton, but might switch to McCain if Obama is the nominee. You also have, maybe, some moderate pro-choice suburban Republican women who would vote for her, but not for Obama. The actual crossovers to McCain for each of the two might equal out, but the turnout loss you get from Clinton as the nominee under the only possible scenario she can win the nomination seem to me to indicate that Obama has to have a much better shot at the general election.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:29 AM
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Lots of things aren't easy, Tim. Fuzzy sets, slippery slopes, etc. Deal with it. We will ignore your ultimatums until you definitively solve the slippery slope problem.

Right, so all we're left with is simple assertion. Now give me a reason to trust your assertions more than I trust my own.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:30 AM
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119: Hillary and Bill are, and always have been, shameless panderers to the politically possible. Fact is, nobody with a national profile and presidential ambitions could have opposed the Iraq war and maintained their ambitions. There are many reasons I believe this, but one piece of evidence in favor of this proposition is that nobody actually did do this, and there were several who tried.

I was born in the waning days of the Eisenhower administration. I propose that Hillary could be the best president of my lifetime, and you not only disagree, you find this ridiculous - as you say, "based on the twitching you feel in your nipples?"

It's tough in this forum to sustain a complex argument, but I think there's a way to simplify it: Who do you think the best president was in the last 50 years ? Since you think it's ludicrously obvious that Hillary couldn't build a record to match that man, just name him. That would simplify my task in making a case.

So the rule you want to apply is "That's not cheating at all, it's gaming the system." That should be easy to apply.

Or, if you prefer, they are all cheaters. I can go either way on this. I can't imagine why you are accusing me of making "moronic distinctions" when my whole point is that the distinctions aren't really interesting to me at all, and your entire point is that we need to draw these sharp distinctions.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:32 AM
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120: Wait, what? HRC as the probable best president in your lifetime raised eyebrows, but McCain as the worst in your eyes?

Did I miss a memo? Or does nothing become Bush's Presidency like his (imminent) departure?


Posted by: HC | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:32 AM
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128: We pretty much write you off most of the time anyway, Tim, because of your natural simplicity.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:36 AM
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125: I don't really disagree with the thrust of this.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:37 AM
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There's another available lesson: quit shitting on the Left in this country at every available opportunity and you might actually get some of their votes.

Fact is, as long as we have only two parties, there is no incentive for either party to do anything but move to the middle. A rational candidate moves toward the extremes in the primary but to the middle in the general.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:37 AM
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PF, I really don't like to agree with Stras, but you forced me to. I hate you for that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:38 AM
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130: I regard McCain's key critique of Bush as being that Bush has been insufficiently crazy. I recognize that there's a serious counter-argument to be made - Bush does set a high standard for awfulness - but I'm amazed that people fail to grasp that McCain is a very, very bad man.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:39 AM
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Who do you think the best president was in the last 50 years ?

LBJ. Though as you noted, this is pretty faint praise no matter who you pick.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:40 AM
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129:Fact is, nobody with a national profile and presidential ambitions could have opposed the Iraq war and maintained their ambitions. There are many reasons I believe this, but one piece of evidence in favor of this proposition is that nobody actually did do this, and there were several who tried.

It was even worse 40 years ago. So however you count the Vietnam War, HRC is very unlikely to be better than LBJ.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:40 AM
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129: I agree that Bill and Hillary are panderers, but as I just said, their pandering took a self-destructive term. You could call it "the immediate political possible" or "Bill against the Democrats" or something like that. There's realism and there's realism, and the Clinton realism has proven toxic.

Hillary is the Tony Blair of American politics. Realistic, successful, and useless.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:41 AM
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there is no incentive for either party to do anything but move to the middle

Given the last 20 years, moving to the middle would be a shift to the left for the Democratic Party.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:41 AM
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Who do you think the best president was in the last 50 years ?

LBJ. Civil rights, Great Society.

Or, if you prefer, they are all cheaters.

Fine. It's all part of the game, then, including claims that HRC is outside the rules. Don't sweat it, just lie back and enjoy the show.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:42 AM
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We pretty much write you off most of the time anyway, Tim, because of your natural simplicity.

That hurts, old man.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:44 AM
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Fact is, nobody with a national profile and presidential ambitions could have opposed the Iraq war and maintained their ambitions.

The cynicism of this is nigh unfathomable, even to me.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:44 AM
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PF, I really don't like to agree with Stras, but you forced me to. I hate you for that.

[rubbing hands together] You know, Emerson, we're not so different, you and I...


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:45 AM
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127:...and I think a Clinton nomination at this point would kill black turnout.

You're also going to have low turnout among young people, who are enthusiastic for Obama, and completely unenthusiastic about Clinton. You'll see ridiculous turnout on college campuses if Obama is the nominee. Very little for Clinton.

Possibly inevitable with such a candidate, but I do think this blackmail, extortion, this offer that could not be refused was always a major part of the Obama campaign. In addition, the emotional and "movement" appeals were intended to intensify this threat.

Politics is hardball. but I still don't have to like the "Won't vote for Clinton" crowd.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:47 AM
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MRH: Besides trying to appeal to public opinion as it is at the moment, you can also try to influence public opinion. That's what the Republicans did, and that's what the Democrats didn't do. Even today, after several years of improvements, Democratic message development and delivery (outside specific campaigns) is weak. And party building isn't strong, though not quite that bad.

The generous interpretation is that Democrats have neglected message development and dissemination because of defeatism, laziness, stupidity, and short-sightedness. The ungenerous assumption is that they neglected thee aspects because they feared that they'd end up moving the country and the party to the left.

Over the past five years Democratic resistance to party building, message development, the development of new media, aggressive attacks on the republicans, etc., has really boggled me. There's a lot of resistance within the party, and it can be extremely stubborn.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:49 AM
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but I still don't have to like the "Won't vote for Clinton" crowd.

It's going to be smaller than presently announced numbers, I think. I seem to remember similar bitching when Dean went down, and Dem turnout was high.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:50 AM
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The Obama campaign says, "Our projections show the most likely outcome of yesterday's elections will be that Hillary Clinton gained 187 delegates, and we gained 183."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:50 AM
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Fact is, as long as we have only two parties, there is no incentive for either party to do anything but move to the middle.

Err...then why is it that it's only the Democrats who ever do this?

Fact is, nobody with a national profile and presidential ambitions could have opposed the Iraq war and maintained their ambitions.

What are your examples, here?


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:50 AM
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134: Emerson, of course you're right to take stras's side over mine because - while you and I agree on a lot of stuff - stras catches the heart of our disagreement here:

No one seriously contests that the Democratic Party took a turn to the right in the late seventies that continued on through the mid-to-late eighties and culminated with the nomination of Bill Clinton.

It's a matter of emphasis. Stras and you see politics as something that takes place from the top down - and that's not at all a foolish view, nor is it fundamentally incorrect.

But my emphasis is always going to be on politics from the bottom up - that, in fact, is one reason I like Obama as much as I do.

John Kerry was an honorable public servant who was not batshit crazy. Unfortunately, when he ran for president, batshit crazy was what was winning elections. Jingoism, racism and latent fascism were the things the actual American people wanted in 2004.

(And yes, I know that "the American people" is a slippery concept in this context, and certainly their views don't exist in isolation from the political elites. It's just that, among the political elites that shape discourse - as opposed to responding to it - the Democratic Party and its leaders are not a very interesting one, in my view. The media, on the other hand ...)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:54 AM
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144 - If Clinton could win clean, I don't think black turnout would be especially hurt in the fall. But she can't win clean; she can only win in a divisive way that alienates the black community. But that wasn't inevitable.

Of course, it's possible I'm wrong, and that Clinton can heal the party and get the base, at least, back on board. She has good relationships with a lot of the Black leadership, at least, so institutionally there shouldn't be serious problems.

But I don't see how pointing out turn out differences amounts to extortion by the Obama campaign. It's also true that there's a fair number of white blue-collar Democrats who seem uninclined to vote for Obama. Does pointing this out amount to extortion by the Clinton campaign?


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:55 AM
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Everybody should cheer up.

Nobody knows for sure, but this economy will get worse over the summer, and could get catastrophic.
Bush and Cheney are still in the WH and may yet get all frisky with their toys. There are always players overseas who get some input and influence.
I am expecting black swans. Katrina. The unspeakable.

Nobody knows what this year will be like, and the unexpected, the unknown unknowns, are inevitable.
We may yet get to see some real politics.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:57 AM
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Fact is, nobody with a national profile and presidential ambitions could have opposed the Iraq war and maintained their ambitions.

This is just silly. The single biggest stumbling block Clinton has had on her path to the nomination has been her war vote. The single biggest policy problem John Kerry ran into in 2004 was his inability to coherently distance himself from his war vote without looking like a flip-flopper. John Edwards's war vote prevented him from capturing a significant portion of the anti-war vote, despite his numerous efforts to make himself the most liberal major candidate on foreign policy. Without his early opposition to the Iraq War, no one would have heard of Howard Dean. There's a reason why opposition to the war eventually proved so popular and support for it proved to be such an albatross: because the war itself turned into an incredible disaster, and did so very, very quickly. The position you articulate was undoubtedly the conventional wisdom embraced by every prominent Washington Democrat at the time, which is why the majority of Democratic senators voted for that abomination. But it wasn't fucking true, and the past several years have demonstrated this repeatedly.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:57 AM
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I seem to remember similar bitching when Dean went down, and Dem turnout was high.

Hatred of Bush was a bigger driving factor than loyalty to Dean.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 8:58 AM
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Isn't McManus telling everyone to cheer up, like, the fifth horseman of the Apocalypse?

Meanwhile, also in Texas, caucus reporting still stands at 40%, despite the caucuses determining the apportionment of third of the state's delegates. (Some background at TPM.)


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:05 AM
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Dean lost fair and square - nobody voted for him. For Clinton to win, she has to do it in an underhanded way. It's a very different situation.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:05 AM
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What are your examples, here?

Feingold's the obvious one. What are your counter-examples?

Purely ex-recto (or, if Tim prefers, because of the tingling I get in my nipples), I'd argue that Edwards rightly calculated that his political ambitions couldn't withstand a couple of years of treason accusations by the Republicans and their captive media.

Obama largely avoided that kind of scrutiny, only coming on the national scene after things started to turn. Even then, Obama didn't assert any kind of leadership in opposing the war. And again: I think this was probably a necessary political calculation. Voting against war appropriations, when he made those votes, would have done him a lot of political damage.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:08 AM
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The bottom-up top-down distinction blows. "The American people" were getting tons of top-down input from the Republicans, directly and through think tanks and the media. The Democrats failed to provide any, partly because the media was full of Republicans and partly because the Democrats didn't try very hard.

A lot of Americans never hear a liberal point of view, and a fair number never hear a Democratic point of view. The ambient politics for people who depend on free media ranges from center-right to far right. The media are not populist, bottom up institutions.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:09 AM
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155 is dead on. It's not that Clinton's attacks on Obama, while I don't like them, are so beyond the pale. It's average for a recent, competitive primary. That's not why people are worried. It's her expressed willingness to get the nomination in a way that is going to leave a lot of Obama supporters feeling cheated. We seem to be approaching a point where there's no way she can win cleanly; we also may be approaching a point where it's going to be impossible for Obama to convince her to withdraw or the superdelegates to defenct en masse before the convention. That's the concern. Probably still overblown, but that's the issue. I realize the liberal blogs want to be all sunny about this, but it is, actually, a large potential problem.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:14 AM
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I wish my nipples were tingling. It would make editing this study report a whole lot more enjoyable.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:17 AM
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Feingold's the obvious one. What are your counter-examples?

You think there was some big "Feingold for President" movement out there, but that his war vote killed it?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:21 AM
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Barry Hussein picks up the coveted Rolling Stone endorsement. And a cover!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:24 AM
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The bottom-up top-down distinction blows.

Well, as I said, I certainly agree that it's problematic for the reasons you describe. However, you're willing to write "the bottom" out of the picture as relevant actors, and I'm only somewhat sympathetic to that view.

In any event, I argue that you (and especially stras) over-estimate the agency of Democratic politicians. They, too, are largely responding to forces and interests that they don't control. Put Hillary Clinton in a less fucked up country, and she'd be a good leader. But Obama or Edwards in the Senate at a time when political expediency demands pro-war votes, and you get pro-war votes.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:24 AM
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You think there was some big "Feingold for President" movement out there, but that his war vote killed it?

Well, the idea that Feingold never stood a chance hardly argues against my point, does it? But Feingold seriously tested the presidential waters, and wisely decided to stay out.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:27 AM
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OT (but not really, because LF is never off topic)

From Michael Tomasky's fun and smart review of Liberal Facism:

For about fifty or sixty pages, I confess, I took the bait, and did my best to work myself into a lather. By page 200 -- there are 405 pages of actual text -- offense was beside the point, and I was mentally imploring the author to get it over with. By page 300, I was bored out of my skull. And by the time I made it to the final pages, I was wishing that I had been invited instead to review a multi-volume history of farm subsidies.
* * *
Goldberg would have difficulty distinguishing between, say, seat-belt laws and the banning of political parties.
* * *
However much or little Goldberg knows about fascism, he knows next to nothing about liberalism. Anybody familiar with Liberalism 101 grasps that there is something deep within liberalism, from its earliest beginnings, that prevents it from degenerating into fascism, and that is its explicit recognition that the state must serve both common purposes and individual liberty.
* * *
Lurking behind all these futile disclaimers may be Goldberg's well-founded fear that intelligent or knowledgeable readers might conclude that he is crazy.

Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:33 AM
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Well, the idea that Feingold never stood a chance hardly argues against my point, does it?

I think there's a bit of a leap being made from "he never stood a chance" to "because of his opposition to the war".


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:34 AM
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Apo and Tim, I think, are correct in choosing LBJ as the best president in the last 50 years, and I won't try to make a detailed case that Hillary could be better - partly because I suspect they are right that she wouldn't be, and partly because it's like comparing hitters in the steriod era vs. the dead-ball era - too many independent factors to make a sensible argument.

But ... I will say that it's reasonable to suppose that Hillary will wind down a disastrous war, and, depending on the political climate, could get universal healthcare of some sort passed. Would that match LBJ, given his disastsrous war record? I guess, bottom line, is that I'm sympathetic to Tim's view that it would not.

So okay - maybe she'd be the second-best president in 50 years.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:35 AM
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162, 163: As I said in 152, the war votes of Kerry, Clinton, and Edwards all hurt their presidential aspirations; the anti-war stances of Obama and Dean boosted theirs considerably. It's not that political expediency demanded that Democrats vote for the war; it's that Democrats were trying to be politically expedient and, stupidly, got it wrong. And they got it wrong the same way they've been getting it wrong for the last twenty-plus years: by assuming that a move to the right is always the politically smart one.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:37 AM
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Obama is just like Ken Starr.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:39 AM
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I think there's a bit of a leap being made from "he never stood a chance" to "because of his opposition to the war".

Right. "Twice-divorced secular Jew" might also figure into it.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:39 AM
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Fact is, as long as we have only two parties, there is no incentive for either party to do anything but move to the middle.

Err...then why is it that it's only the Democrats who ever do this?

It's not. Even Republicans moderate their language in general elections, and in general they try to keep their base happy but quiet. And, in this country, right now, the middle is further to the right than most of us would like it to be.

Also, Emerson, I agree with 145 entirely.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:43 AM
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Maybe we should storm their embassy and hold the staff hostage.

I live within walking of the Can/a/dian em/ba/ssy. I can put up a ra/dical frin/e elem/ent to rush these bastards in the middle of the night.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:45 AM
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171- Was me.


Posted by: Andrew Jackson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:46 AM
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171, 172: You people are trying to kill me.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:50 AM
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AJ, do you think the NSA is monitoring your blog postings?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:50 AM
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No/bo/dy's try/in/g t/o ki/ll y/ou, yo/u par/an/oid f/rea/k.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:51 AM
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do you think the NSA is monitoring your blog postings?

Come on! You know people are watching. Do you seriously think "Emerson," "McManus," "Lifeguard," "bassplayer," "Bitch," and "teo" just show up randomly?!??!

This is just like the Miami sting. Only worse!


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:54 AM
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In any event, I argue that you (and especially stras) over-estimate the agency of Democratic politicians. They, too, are largely responding to forces and interests that they don't control.

I'm just wishing they had the least tiny bit of agency. Shit, when I talk to Democrats (and leftists) I often just wish that they believed in the theoretical possibility of any agency at all anywhere. I've had this argument here several times: "No one at the Times or the Post makes things happen the way they do, shit just happens."

The Republican belief in the possibility of agency, unsophisticated and stupid though it may be, is one of their enormous advantages. They actually try to do things rather than explaining why nothing can be done. And usually they fail, but whenever they find a flaw or a rift in the inevitability, they win while the Democrats stand there sucking their fingers.

Democrats are organization men who think they understand the truths of law, and they spend their lives maintaining the normalities and the SOP. Administrator types. Whereas Republicans are desperate, ignorant, semi-criminal entrepreneurs looking for a transient exception to take advantage of.

I wish I were a Republican. They know how the game is played.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:56 AM
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175: Okay, you're all trying to drive me insane.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:56 AM
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It's not that political expediency demanded that Democrats vote for the war; it's that Democrats were trying to be politically expedient and, stupidly, got it wrong.

This is the Yglesias argument, and it's wrong. I agree that voting for the war created political problems for Democrats. In the political climate that existed, however, voting against the AUMF disqualified a politician from holding presidential ambitions.

I have to disagree that Dean's example supports your point. In fact, he's an example of mine. He didn't come close to getting the nomination, even though he, like Obama, had the advantage of not being in the Senate at the time of the vote.

So Obama's key advantage was not that he opposed the war, it's that he was in a political position that, when the decision came up, he was able to oppose the war. Again: There's a reason he didn't vote against war appropriations when he got to the Senate - and it's not because he changed his mind about the war. (Or so I hope and believe.)

It'd be nice if political expediency and actual decency matched up more often. But the fact is, in a somewhat competitive system like ours, different political entrepeneurs do actually try out different approaches. Some work, some don't. I wish we could do better than Obama, but if he's what the political system coughs up, I won't bitch too much about the candidate. It's the system that's corrupt.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 9:58 AM
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It is interesting to see LBJ listed as best president of the last 50 years. This clearly is a retroactive judgment (not that that makes it illegitimate, I'm just wondering when it began to form), as rarely has a president been more despised by so many elements of his own party by the end of his term. It was mostly Vietnam, but also I do not think he got much credit for much of the civil rights stuff at the time because of all the racial upheaval and unrest. Those opposed to the civil rights stuff were angry of course, but as I recall many blacks and supporters were frustrated by the lag in real versus legislative change, (not really LBJ's fault, but I think at the time it dampened any upside enthusiasm for him considerably). And I think everything else he helped achieve legislatively, poverty help, beginnings of environmental legislation etc. just got obscured by those other two big hot topics.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:02 AM
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162: I don't see that I "write the bottom out of the picture". What I say is that the Democrats need to take their case to the people at the bottom, rather than assuming that everyone who listens to Rush Limbaugh will always agree with Rush Limbaugh. The Democrats haven't even tried to do their job; they've just taken public opinion as given.

I like Olbermann a lot, but he's practically the only guy out there. And you'll not that he doesn't sound at all like a Democrat. No NPR voice, no nuance, no meta, no process, no hedges.

NSBC is one example why I don't believe that TV is politically crappy simply because of market forces. Matthews hasn't had good ratings for a long time, if ever. Tucker Carlson has consistently had the worst ratings of any host. I cannot imagine them keeping a liberal on the air with ratings that bad. And it sure took the networks a long time to give Olbermann or someone like him a chance.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:02 AM
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170: Seriously, mrh, Republicans don't move to the middle the way Democrats do.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:06 AM
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this is utter crap, pf. The conventional wisdom in 2002 was that to contend in 2004 you had to vote for the war. That was wrong. Voting yes almost lost Kerry the primary & harmed him in the general. Opposing the war is the only reason Dean had any support, but he had other liabilities as a candidate (lousy on tv, etc.). And opposing the war in 2008 is an electoral plus; Obama would not have gotten this far without it. Why would voters consider support for the war a liability & opposition an asset for everyone but Senators? That makes no sense. The frontrunners in the Senate in 2002 listened to the Washington consensus but they weren't FORCED to.

To everyone saying Obama "just made one speech": first of all, he made multiple speeches to antiwar rallies. At least 2. Second of all, in 2002-2003 that was considered RISKIER than voting against the war. No one was doing it. Dirty hippies go to protests, don't you know--can't be seen with them. I was in the NY protest in Feb 2008; we maybe heard Dennis Kucinich. No one local, not even a Congressman. Whereas a majority of the House caucus and a significant minority of the Senate caucus voted no.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:06 AM
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177 is right.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:06 AM
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174- I do. But the failure to google proof my name before probably didn't help.


Posted by: An/drew Jack/son | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:07 AM
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I have to disagree that Dean's example supports your point. In fact, he's an example of mine. He didn't come close to getting the nomination

Dean's example doesn't support your point, pf. He was an obscure, otherwise centrist governor from a tiny state, and his anti-war position largely accounts for his meteoric rise to a position where the Republicans, the media and the DLC types could all put him in their crosshairs.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:07 AM
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[Dean] didn't come close to getting the nomination

No, but he built up a huge following and eventually became chairman of the DNC. None of which would have happened without his opposition to the war. Without Dean's anti-war stance, he's the Duncan Hunter of 2004; with it, he's the guy whose campaign reinvented modern fundraising and blazed a path for a politician like Obama to follow.

The rest of your comment is question-begging. You know that Obama would've supported the war if he were in the senate at the time, because you know he would've supported the war if he were in the senate at the time. QED! In the end, you still have no explanation for why "political expediency" leads John Kerry to take a position that leaves him with an incoherent and unpopular position on the biggest issue of the 2004 election, or why the politically smart thing for Hillary Clinton to do ends up tanking her credibility with a massive segment of Democratic primary voters in the 2008 election.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:07 AM
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voting against the AUMF disqualified a politician from holding presidential ambitions.

Again, by assertion.

This clearly is a retroactive judgment (not that that makes it illegitimate, I'm just wondering when it began to form), as rarely has a president been more despised by so many elements of his own party by the end of his term.

1. Yeah, it is interesting. IRL, I occasionally dodge this question, as past experience teaches me that some people old enough during his Administration will start literally shaking with anger if I praise him.

2. I can't understand why people don't reflect on LBJ pulling out of the race in '68 as the relevant analogue to anti-HRC sentiment among some Democrats. He was better on all counts, and he still had to pull out.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:11 AM
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I've had this argument here several times: "No one at the Times or the Post makes things happen the way they do, shit just happens."

My argument is more that institutional factors and a deliberate, concerted, and un-countered effort to work the refs by the right wing has much more to do with things than conscious decisions made by the current Sulzberger and Graham buffoons running the papers, but we don't have to have round three on this question.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:11 AM
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In other words, Clinton is the Democratic Party's Nixon.

I'm working on reading the rest of this thread, but please don't insult Nixon's foreign policy legacy that way. He actually believed in detente, in opening negotiations and trade, and he understood how stupid and dangerous it was to refuse to talk to an enemy in order to "punish them".

He was an asshole in Cambodia/Vietnam, but his administration did great things in lots of other places that I could never see Clinton matching.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:14 AM
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There's something called "the specious present". You point to the present emergency and say "Take care of that right now!" It may be that someone who had strongly opposed the war in 2002 might have ended their national career, but soeone should have made that sacrifice. The Democrats needed to get that idea out there. Maybe the guy could recover their career later, and maybe not, but they'd still give people who came after them something to work with.

Democrats always respond to the immediate situation without any longterm plan (except for the DLC "support all wars and keep moving to the right" plan). Anytime anyone proposes a longer plan, the republicans and the jellified faction of the Democrats will point to the emergency.

Gingrich's takeover of the House Republicans and then the House was an excellent example both of agency and of long-term strategy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:14 AM
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182: I'm not convinced. I agree that they've moved the middle but there's no reason for them to alienate swing voters either.

Do Democrats move to the middle more these days? Probably, but I think that's because they've been the out party.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:17 AM
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And you'll not that he doesn't sound at all like a Democrat.

But Olbermann doesn't work for the Democrats. I think it's often misguided to blame the Democrats for the lack of people like Olbermann. In fact, the Democrats are responding to that lack, not creating it.

But yes, cause-and-effect are not as straightforward as my simple summary would have it. I agree entirely with this:

I'm just wishing they had the least tiny bit of agency. Shit, when I talk to Democrats (and leftists) I often just wish that they believed in the theoretical possibility of any agency at all anywhere.

The question is, what does Democratic agency look like? Well, stras is right to suggest that it looks like Howard Dean, both before and after his belly-flop in the primaries.

It also looks like John Edwards in 2008. People are right to give him a lot of credit for shaping the nature of the debate.

Partly, there's a collective action problem here. The people who change the debate - Eugene McCarthy would be the prototype - are not the people who win elections.

So as an individual politician, you have to be pretty altruistic to take that approach. Hillary, we can all agree, has motives other than altruistic ones, but pretty much all of the actual winners do.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:21 AM
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192 ??????

What evidence is there that the Republicans have moved toward the center anytime in the last 14 years or so? The Republicans in Congress go by the "majority of the majority" rule, which in effect means that the rightmost 51% of the House and the Senate Republicans have complete control of the Congressional agenda. Moderate Republicans are continually being picked off by primary challengers. Bush campaigned to the base in 2004 and has governed from the right since 9/11.

If by "move to the center" you mean "throw up some meaningless centrist chaff during election years", yeah, the Republicans do that. But the Democrats are being accused of something much worse than that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:23 AM
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Again, by assertion.

In fact, I've made my argument. I'm still waiting for the counter-example.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:23 AM
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The Clintons' going negative against Obama is politics as usual as far as I'm concerned (which is not to say I support it). Obama needs to be able to handle the attacks and fire back, or he's not capable of running against the Republicans in the general.

But what is not politics as usual are the Clintons' attacks against their own party; the resulting top-down effect could significantly hurt Obama.

Talking up the opponent's nominee in her attacks against a fellow dem. Demanding the seating of delegates against a signed-party agreement. Pushing the super delegates to overturn a pledged delegate lead.

note: any more references to 1968 and I start cutting.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:25 AM
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You need an example of a Democrat winning the presidency because of his opposition to the Iraq war? We're working on it, give us a few months....


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:26 AM
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193:

My point about Olbermann is pretty much that Democrats shouldn't talk like Democrats anymore, forget the NPR nuance and meta, and study under Olbermann. Especially the media Democrats.

Somehow the Republicans have managed to plant dozens of operatives in the media. The Democrats haven't. You say that the Democrats can't be blamed. Snarkout says that the media can't be blamed. We're right in the middle of the Democratic NPR agentless alternate universe again.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:28 AM
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In fact, I've made my argument.

Right, which was, to quote it:

"This is the Yglesias argument, and it's wrong. I agree that voting for the war created political problems for Democrats. In the political climate that existed, however, voting against the AUMF disqualified a politician from holding presidential ambitions."

Impressive. I'm not sure what a counter-example would look like: "No, Yglesias is right, and a vote against the AUMF wouldn't have disqualified a politician from holdng presidential ambitions"?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:28 AM
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So as an individual politician, you have to be pretty altruistic to take that approach.

Gingrich wasn't.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:30 AM
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I'm still waiting for PF to explain for John Kerry's war vote helped him in 2004. Or, for that matter, how Hillary Clinton's war vote has helped her in '08.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:31 AM
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Hillary is the Tony Blair of American politics. Realistic, successful, and useless.

She's Tony Blair only in her relative position on the national political spectrum and her leadership of the party. She's end-of-term Tony Blair.

Tony Blair's charisma, his talent, his ability to unify and reinvigorate a party while moving it in a new direction and achieving massive electoral victories? She's not so close there. That's why I associated Obama with Blair instead, except he'd move the party a bit left instead of sharply right. Mind you, moving the Democrats left at this point would probably just mean taking about the same positions as New Labour (minus their shitting on civil liberties), as America's political spectrum is so right-skewed


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:32 AM
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196: Is it politics as usual to endorse your general election opponent over your primary opponent?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:32 AM
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No. But I cited that in the 3rd paragraph as not politics as usual.


Posted by: als | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:34 AM
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Oops. Sorry.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:36 AM
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199: Well, a counter-example would be a Democrat with presidential ambitions who was able to ride his or her obviously correct vote on the AUMF to the presidency - or even one whose presidential aspirations weren't damaged by such a vote. It's my point exactly that such an example doesn't exist. Is it your point that such an example cannot exist? I'm not getting you here.

In fact, Katherine supplied a counter-example. She contends that Obama is the sort of war opponent that I'm looking for. I've already expressed my objection to that example (1. - He wasn't in the Senate to vote on the AUMF; 2 - when he got to the Senate he supported the war in key votes), but it's a real example that can't be dismissed.

W. Bush was elected president in part because he could plausibly make the case that he wasn't involved in the decision to go to war against Bill Clinton - that, too, was an unpopular war. The reason Bush could make that case was he wasn't in Congress making those vile votes. Obama has the same advantage - he dodged several years of hate generated by the Republican media because he was a peripheral figure in that debate.

Katherine will rightly object that Bush was always full of shit, and Obama apparently isn't - but that addresses a substantive point that I'm not making. I'm only making a point about political strategy.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:41 AM
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201: stras, I can't help it if you won't read my comments. First and most obviously, it helped him by keeping him from being disqualified.

If you think that Americans had any confusion about who the pro-war candidate was in 2004, then your delusional.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:45 AM
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197- Yeah. Any notion that Clinton needed to vote for the war to stay her ambitions is wrong. Twenty-one Democratic Senators voted against it. Even at that time, there were serious questions in the administration's case, to the point that the current situation wasn't unforeseeable at all.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:48 AM
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Dean's war opposition also helped his presidential candidacy. Edwards in 2008 would have had to drop out sooner w/o his mea culpa on Iraq. So that's 3 examples. If they have to get elected for it to count, you're talking about a sample size of 1 Democratic primary winner (Kerry) & 0 Democratic general election winners.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:49 AM
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208- Sometimes you just need to accept votes on face value. Clinton's vote for the war is hardly inconsistent with her overall voting record.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:50 AM
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PF's argument makes no sense to me. Everyone with presidential ambitions in the Senate and House voted for the war, with the possible exception of Feingold. Furthermore, almost nobody ever is elected president. As such, it seems incumbent on PF to provide examples of politicians who voted against the war and had their presidential ambitions crushed as a result.

This is hard to do because almost nobody with presidential ambitions voted against the war. Feingold kind of works as a counterexample, but what reason is there to think that it was his vote against the war that destroyed his chances? As far as I can tell, PF is just (repeatedly) making an assertion, with no real argument or examples to back it up. Also, voting to continue funding the war (as virtually the entire Senate has) is different from voting for the original AUMF. Voting against funding would probably kill any chance of winning the presidency. I still don't see why voting against the AUMF does.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:51 AM
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It's my point exactly that such an example doesn't exist.

There has been precisely one presidential election since the war began.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:52 AM
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Dean is an example of the kind of thing the Democrats need. He took a risk and made a statement. Furthermore, he had ideas not only about issues (the war) but also about political strategy and tactics. And as DNC chair he ended up higher up than he would have been. And he survived the Clintonista attacks (led by Mr. "Second-hand Cheney semen" Carville).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:55 AM
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190: Nixon only was that because he was a dirty red-baiter for so long. So maybe if Hillary soemhow pulls this out and then has an anti-imperialist foreign policy, she will be exactly nixon 2.0.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:56 AM
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[Nixon] was an asshole in Cambodia/Vietnam, but his administration did great things in lots of other places that I could never see Clinton matching.

No.

I don't think it's good to either try to rehabilitate Nixon's (deservedly terrible) reputation or to minimize his role in prolonging and expanding the Vietname war.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:56 AM
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If you think that Americans had any confusion about who the pro-war candidate was in 2004, then your delusional.

I was confused about who the anti-war candidate was in the 2004 general election. Kerry never came out clearly for a quick end to the war.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:57 AM
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First and most obviously, it helped him by keeping him from being disqualified.

Question-beg much?

Again, my point with Kerry is that his war vote hurt his presidential ambitions because it muddied his position on the war - he was trying to distinguish himself from Bush's war stance while trying simultaneously to defend his vote, which only contributed to the "flip-flopper" narrative.

And there's still Clinton, who almost certainly would've had the nomination by now if her war vote wasn't hanging around her neck like an albatross. The fact that she was absolutely wrong on the biggest foreign policy issue of her career has been used to puncture her campaign's "experience" narrative. How did her war vote help her here?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:58 AM
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Dean is an example of the kind of thing the Democrats need.

Ditto to Emerson in this thread. The resistance from within the party to things like Dean's 50 state strategy makes me want to bang my head against the wall.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 11:00 AM
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Yeah, I always get eye-rolly when I hear the "Only Nixon could go to China" bit. You know why only Nixon could go to China? Because anybody who tried to do it beforehand would have been smeared as a communist sympathizer by Richard Nixon.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 11:03 AM
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218- This is one of several issues that make Obama's change message sincere. Making democratic voters in all 50 states feel counted. Revolutionary!!


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 11:05 AM
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Dean is quite underrated as a political strategist. Being lousy on tv doesn't make you a bad strategist, & being telegenic & charismatic doesnt' make you a good strategy.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 11:18 AM
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It's my point exactly that such an example doesn't exist. Is it your point that such an example cannot exist? I'm not getting you here.

No, my point is that you're the one in black swan territory here. You're extending the fact that a presidential candidate that voted against the AUMF does not exist to claim that one cannot exist ("voting against the AUMF disqualified a politician from holding presidential ambitions"). That's hard to prove. We restate the question as "Would a vote against the AUMF have killed one's shot at the Presidency?" Well, the data sucks. There are only two Dem candidates, after all, and a number of factors went into that winnowing. Your evidence for the affirmative is that every Senator with presidential ambitions (query how we're measuring that ambition) voted for it. Our evidence for the negative is that two people who held the next closest position--openly against the war--have done surprisingly well in Dem primaries. And then we move on to coherence: you either do or do not believe that a candidate who says the war was a mistake--as the majority of the country believes--is more credible because there is evidence he held that position at the time the decision was made. And you either do or do not believe that such credibility is a boon.

At base, your argument seems to be similar in form to one which claims that you cannot elect a person to the Presidency unless that person is male and white, a statement which looks at a much longer history for support. So, on your account, we might be fucked in any case.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 11:40 AM
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At base, your argument seems to be similar in form to one which claims that you cannot elect a person to the Presidency unless that person is male and white

I agree with this characterization of my argument. By making an argument in this form, I did not mean to imply that it must always be thus, or that nobody should try to overturn this political state of affairs.

Moreover, I concede that existence of Obama and Hillary, in this example, argues directly against the sort of argument that I am making. Neither was an example of a politician responding to an opportunity created by the political climate. Both of them, through hard work and shrewd strategy, made their opportunities in important ways.

Still, being black or being female is a pretty important obstacle to elective office. Obama and Hillary created this opportunity for themselves because they had no other choice. Hillary didn't vote to be a woman, and Obama didn't vote to be black.

And then we move on to coherence: you either do or do not believe that a candidate who says the war was a mistake--as the majority of the country believes--is more credible because there is evidence he held that position at the time the decision was made.

I'm not talking about "credibility." I'm talking about political viability. Credibility, lately, has had an inverse relationship with political viability on issues of war and peace. Who is less credible on the subject of war than George W. Bush? Maybe McCain or Giuliani, but that's it - and one of those two has quite reasonable political success. It seems to me that the sick dynamic at work here is largely invisible to you.

I believe it is commonplace for a politician to do the right thing in real-time, and to be hurt for it politically. (That's a truism, right?) I think guys like Dean and Obama were positioned so that they didn't become the focus of anti-war sentiment until it was relatively safe to do so. Edwards and Hillary, for that matter, also jumped on the anti-war bandwagon when it became relatively safe to do so.

Dean flamed out in the Democratic Party, despite pretty much cornering the market on war opposition. Obama got to the Senate and voted to fund the war - a stance that's pretty crappy, but entirely understandable, given the political climate.

You're extending the fact that a presidential candidate that voted against the AUMF does not exist to claim that one cannot exist

One key distinction that I've failed to make is that, in real-time, it certainly could have worked out politically for a candidate to have voted against the AUMF. I am using the fact that it didn't work out as evidence that - in retrospect - the odds were strongly against it.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:09 PM
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I'm not talking about "credibility." I'm talking about political viability.

See "boon" sentence. I think a credibility about the decision makes you more viable. That's an argument about the nature of any relationship between argument and electablity, I think.

Maybe McCain or Giuliani, but that's it - and one of those two has quite reasonable political success.

The one who was most openly critical of the handling of the war. Has had success in the Republican party.

Obama got to the Senate and voted to fund the war - a stance that's pretty crappy, but entirely understandable, given the political climate.

As I think Obama noted, decisions about whether to drive into a ditch can be distinguished from what to do once there.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:19 PM
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More to the point, Obama's initial opposition to the war has helped him immensely in the current primary fight, where he's used it to beat back accusations that he's inexperienced. Again, opposition to the war has helped presidential candidates - namely Obama and Dean - and hurt others - namely Kerry and Clinton.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:25 PM
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Rather, support for the war has hurt others.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:25 PM
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As I think Obama noted, decisions about whether to drive into a ditch can be distinguished from what to do once there.

A sweet political line, but utter bullshit. You drive into the ditch and you get the fuck out of the ditch, pronto. Are you really telling me that you think the Senate was right, on merits, to continue to fund the war? Or that to do so was not, in essence, a pro-war stance?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:27 PM
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"and hurt others - namely Kerry and Clinton."

Not just them. Of the other members of Congress who voted for the AUMF:
--Lieberman, with some of the highest name recognition in the 2004 Democratic field, managed "a three way tie for third place" in New Hampshire before dropping out & losing a Democratic Senate primary.
--Gephardt came in fourth place in Iowa--a state in his backyard & which I think he won in 1988--dropped out, and retired from politics.
--Dodd's 2008 primary campaign didn't really get off the ground
--Biden's 2008 primary campaign didn't really get off the ground
--Edwards, by 2008, was publicly stating that his 2002 vote was a mistake & apologizing profusely for it.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:31 PM
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(I don't think Dodd's & Biden's lack of success had much to do with the war, mind you.)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:33 PM
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227: Keep moving those goalposts, PF.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:35 PM
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I am using the fact that it didn't work out as evidence that - in retrospect - the odds were strongly against it.

Democrats need to ask for reasons rather than letting "That's impossible" be the default position on everything. And they have to be more willing to find out whether things are possible or not by trying them. The old experimental method, instead to the deduction from first principles and SOP usually used.

And it would involve risk. If Kerry had taken more risks in 2002, he might not been an unsuccessful Presidential candidate.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:38 PM
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231: Agreed.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:40 PM
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unny, even in this contentious thread, just seeing Lieberman's name at all made me angry. That bastard. Gore's Folly.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:41 PM
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given that defunding the war would provoke a constitutional crisis when bush keeps the troops in by stealing from some other part of the budget, it seemed like the right thing. doing that pretty much commits you to impeachment, doesn't it? maybe theres the same problem with timelines, but it sets the debate better.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:45 PM
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234: I don't think I agree with that analysis, but if you're right, that makes defunding the war even more compelling on merit.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:51 PM
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129

"... Fact is, nobody with a national profile and presidential ambitions could have opposed the Iraq war and maintained their ambitions. ..."

Like others I think this is nonsense. Perhaps it is arguable if you add the caveat "if the war had gone well" but I don't see why Clinton (or Kerry for that matter) wouldn't have been much better off if they had given a speech before the vote saying they didn't believe Iraq had WMD and they were not going vote for war based on chimeras. Obviously this would have been risky but given Iraq didn't have WMD and the war has otherwise gone badly I don't see how it would ruined their Presidential aspirations.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 12:59 PM
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Shearer is right. They were a bunch of cowards. I have no idea if Obama would have been equally cowardly -- the guy pretty clearly has an opportunists eye for the main chance -- but at least there's a chance he wouldn't have been. For Hillary, we know.

We have to get this thing settled soon so the eventual candidate can spend money beating up McCain instead of another Democrat. It really will hurt the party -- McCain is getting the chance to define himself instead of having a better funded Dem candidate do the defining for him.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 1:05 PM
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Since this is the political thread of the moment:

Obama just sent out a campaign email announcing February fundraising totals of over $55 million. Plus more than 385,000 new donors in February.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 1:25 PM
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Plus more than 385,000 new donors in February.

That's beyond impressive and into mindboggling territory.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 1:59 PM
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Are you really telling me that you think the Senate was right, on merits, to continue to fund the war?

As I've said repeatedly that I'm much more iffy (not against, iffy) on withdrawal than most people here, uh, yeah. The reason you don't get into messes is because getting out of them is much, much more complicated. This is a pretty straightforward precautionary rule.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 2:07 PM
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239- Much earlier in the campaign, I read that Obama's campaign counted anyone who bought a bumper sticker or a button as a donor. Just saying.


Posted by: als | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 2:22 PM
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One thing that I really, really agree with the OP on is that there's a gigantic difference between Clinton and Obama in their views of executive power and its connections to foreign policy. Since that's possibly the issue that matters the most to me in this election, I don't just shrug and say tomat-o, tomat-oh about the difference between the two. The issue matters, so the difference matters, and I can't just be sanguine about what a Clinton nomination means.

It doesn't help that I think she's likely to lose for some of the same reasons that Dukakis, Gore and Kerry lost, but that's a different sort of problem.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 2:38 PM
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Side note:

Politicalfootball, one reason people John, Strang, and me emphasize the top-down nature of Democratic activity these days is because of how wildly unrepresentative it is. I preach today from this summary of recent polls and this one

According to a Washington Post/ABC poll from the start of the week, 63% of the American public thinks the war wasn't worth it, and 51% thinks the US isn't making significant progress toward restoring civil order. According to Pew, last week, 54% said the US made a mistake using military force against Iraq, and 48% say the effort is going not so well or not well at all. 49% think we should bring our troops home as soon as possible, without waiting for the situation to stabilize.

Interesting bit here from NBC/Wall Street Journal in late January. When asked what they'd pick if the federal government could only work on one area, 26% said job creation and economic growth. 17% said the war in Iraq...and 17% also said health care. A Fortune poll from mid-January had people picking both the economy in general and health care in particular ahead of Iraq as very important concerns.

And finally, public support for impeaching Bush over both the war and things like wiretapping abuse ranges from the mid-30s to upper 50s percentage, depending on who's asking and what's in the news for the moment.

What this means is roughly this.

Let's take 0 to 100 as a scale from complete capitulation to everything the Republican machine and conservative movement want to complete hostility to them. This isn't precisely a right-to-left spectrum but it's reasonably close most of the time.

In practice, at best the Democrats are occupying the spread from about 20% opposition to 40% or so. Their leadership has completely disavowed majority positions on most of the major wrongs this administration has committed - not just declining to act on them, but declining to even look at them with any possibility of acting. Furthermore, when Democratic Representatives and Congresspeople take steps in accordance with widespread popular demand, they are slapped down, shut out, sabotaged, harassed, and denounced as nuts. The Democratic leadership is more cooperative with Republican challenges than Democratic ones, and has been for some time. Public approval of Congress, meanwhile, tracks very closely with what leadership says and does in challenge to Bush: when House and Senators leaders campaigned in 2006 with promises of fresh opposition, their support went up, and every time that turns out to be so much more lies, their support goes down.

A leadership concerned with public support wouldn't act that way. It would be campaigning more "radically" than any of the major Democratic candidates have. Remember - when it comes to where the public at large is, Kucinich was most representative, with Edwards less so, Obama still less so, and Clinton very far removed. The talk of swing voters is very much an example of what Jesus called straining at gnats while swallowing camels: it's scrabbling for folks somewhere around the 15-20% mark on the above scale, while ignoring more than half of the whole spectrum. This is insane. This is folly. This is capitulation. This is everything but response to the public.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 3:17 PM
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Idle fantasy:

Just imagine a Democratic leadership willing to press for revokation of broadcast licenses and other entitlements for media organizations found guilty of conspiring with Republican authorities to disseminate false information about the war. That's less radical by a long shot than what the Republicans have been doing since 1994. The very fact that it sounds absurd tells us just how far apart the parties are in being serious about their status and authority.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 3:23 PM
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given that defunding the war would provoke a constitutional crisis when bush keeps the troops in by stealing from some other part of the budget, it seemed like the right thing. doing that pretty much commits you to impeachment, doesn't it?

This is characteristic of a lot of the Democratic excuses for inaction. One problem is taking the worst-case scenario as the most likely one, and the other problem is claiming that anything that the Democrats do or say will amount to a rigid commitment to a specific scenario leading to a final battle. Gingrich won some battles, lost some, and always kept the Democrats off balance with a mix of threats and feints. But he never let up.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 4:42 PM
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Obama is not "as far from endorsing American imperialism and unfettered executive power as a candidate can be". Gravel, Kucinich and Paul really seemed to reject it, Obama just wants it to be bipartisan, bleeding-heart and full of "hope" or whatever.


Posted by: TGGP | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:42 AM
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