Posts Tagged ‘Democrats’

A bit rich

July 11, 2008

With a hat-tip to alicublog, a blog recommended by Russell Brown

You’ve probably heard about P.U.M.A. (party unity my ass) and the Hillraisers, a group of wealthy Hillary Clinton donors/fundraisers who are prepared to put women’s rights in jeopardy because their woman didn’t win the Democratic candidacy. (It was Obama’s fault that the media were sexist, apparently.) Faux News adores them, of course, and has been using them to promote John McCain.

Now “Businesswoman Lynn Forester” (as Anderson Cooper 360° introduced her) has accused Obama of being “elitist” on Faux News and CNN.

I saw the AC360 interview, but what I didn’t realise was that Lynn Forester is also Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, wife of British banking financier Sir Evelyn Robert Adrian de Rothschild. (More details of Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild’s splendid lifestyle at Rumproast.)

Okay, she’s her own woman, of course. But I think that for the owner of “the most beautiful apartment in New York” to describe Obama as elitist is, well, a bit rich.

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Obama’s win

June 6, 2008

The Democratic primary contest is effectively over, even though it is not officially decided until the Convention votes. This contest was historic in so many ways. It was close. For the first time, the white guys finished last. For the first time in some time, it featured a giant-killer narrative. It was epic, compelling. The world watched, enthralled.

And of course, its significance and meaning are hotly contested, not least because it was also a contest of the aspirations of two previously excluded groups. What happened?

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US presidential elections: New rules?

May 15, 2008

Noticed that a lot of commentary on the presidential election rests on conventional wisdom? You know, to take the White House the Dems have to win in the “key battleground states of Ohio, Florida…”, and the like.

For some time I’ve been unsure that all of that stuff will apply this fall. After West Virginia’s primary, I’m not sure that it can if the Dems are to win, with Obama.

West Virginia. It’s hard to find a whiter, older, more working-class and less educated state. It is quintessential Hillary-land. Went there once myself, and felt real Deliverance-type edginess. It’s not the most advanced part of the Union, you might say.

I really don’t think that you can easily brush off the significance of the all-out rout of Obama as hillbilly madness.

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Democratic primaries: End game near?

May 11, 2008

Finally, it is starting to look like the end game in the Democratic nomination process is near.

For those who missed it, a Huffington Post report cited a “senior” Clinton insider on the campaign’s exit strategy; winning as many votes as possible by 3 June, taking a week or so to pitch to the superdelegates, and wrapping up by 15 June.

Given that the HuffPost’s contributor is former West Wing producer, now TV commentor Lawrence O’Donnell, this scoop is credible.

It’s very plausible. Carl Bernstein has usefully canvassed Clinton’s options for landing her campaign. They range from the smooth and skillful landing that helps the Dems reconcile their differences and restores a little lustre to the Clintons’ legacy, to the “explosive”, following more carpet bombing of Obama’s campaign.

Who knows, if the Clinton campaign finds something — and they are reportedly still digging — we may yet see a “May surprise”, and an explosive landing. Barring this, Clinton must accept sometime soon that (1) she cannot catch Obama in the pledged delegates, and (2) her main case to the superdelegates is not a goer.

Why not? As Pollster Rasmussen points out, Clinton may be the lower risk option for the Dems come November, but she can’t win if she wrests the nomination away from Obama. In any case, he says, most Dems remain optimistic about this year’s election, and “even if Clinton is theoretically more electable, it’s a distinction without a practical difference” to them.

So the question is, if she is to bring the plane down, say in mid-June, how bumpy a landing will it be?

Bernstein says that those who know her well are increasingly of the view that it will be, “Just bumpy and scary enough to shake the Obama campaign one last time and get her into the hangar as the vice presidential nominee on the Democratic ticket.”

This, too, is plausible. Bernstein says that, “Almost no one I have spoken to who knows her well doubts that, as she reconciles to the likelihood that her presidential campaign will fall short, she will probably seek the vice presidential spot.” After all, as VP she achieves more of her agenda if they win, and is well set up to run again if they lose.

Of course, Obama and his people would very much prefer someone else. Someone who could bring a critical state with them, reinforce the “real change” message, and shore up some of Obama’s weak spots. While being politic about Clinton they have made this clear on numerous occasions. But, Clinton’s case that she can win the white, working class voters that Obama has trouble reaching is a very strong argument. Perhaps compelling.

Ask Al: Elections in the USA are no joke

May 3, 2008

I’ve long been an admirer of Al Franken’s. Laugh-out-loud comic genius with a driving social conscience, in turns satirist and political activist. Besides, anyone who takes on conservative talkback radio in the U.S. by setting up a liberal alternative is a hero.

A major turning point for Franken was the attempt by some of the most odious conservative media figures to make political capital out of the funeral of his good friend Sen. Paul Wellstone in 2002. This is described in a chapter in his 2003 book LIES (And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them): A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right — arguably his best book since Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations.

Last February Franken announced he is standing for the U.S. Senate. Paul Wellstone’s former Minnesota seat, no less. He surprised many by running very hard and doing very well. By January he had reportedly raised more than any other senate challenger, was front runner for the Democratic nomination, and was polling ahead of his incumbent opponent (and it does not usually augur well for an incumbent to be behind at that point in the cycle).

Then things got wobbly. A couple of months ago it was revealed that Franken’s corporation failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance in New York for three years and is to pay a penalty. Now Franken has announced that his company “will be paying $70,000 in back taxes and penalties in 17 states after several weeks in which the campaign downplayed the amount of money that his company owed and changed the reasons for why the taxes (and workers’ compensation insurance) had not been paid”, as CBS puts it. Franken’s opponent has stretched his lead to 7 points, according to Rasmussen Reports.

How did this happen? Interestingly, a Republican Party blogger — a specialist in “opposition research” and until recently a paid G.O.P. staffer — has been the key.

You might say this is not unexpected, given the things that Franken has been saying about the Republicans and prominent conservative media figures over the years. Also, Minnesota is an important swing state in the presidential race and is widely expected to be close.

What would have been one of the most interesting and crucial senate races has become even more so. New Zealand politicos might like to contemplate the success to date of the Republican dirt digger and blogger, who claims to earn his living from “corporate, non-political consulting work”.

For some background on Franken’s race, see the recent Atlantic magazine article.

For more on the blogger, see here.