Tag: 2008 Presidential election

Game Change: Timing is Everything

The book, Game Change, has rightly been the talk of Washington, DC, and the pundit class.  Like many have, I have read the published excerpts, a few of which shock me, but most of which confirm the rumors long existent about the real nature of the notable players in the groundbreaking 2008 Presidential election.  What the book does for me is question the number of times I have given the benefit of the doubt to politicians based on their passionate entreaties that they have been so unfairly smeared by the media.  In some instances, I have completely doubled back and reversed course altogether from my initial reservations regarding certain candidates (namely Hillary Clinton) by second-guessing myself.  In doing so, I assumed that perhaps my own first impressions were wrong or were motivated by some heretofore unrealized internalized sexism on my part.

I wonder about the timing of releasing such salacious, and ultimately damning revelations now.  Clearly, John Edwards’ reputation and political fortunes were rendered null and void long before the book’s release, though one does get the added bonus of being supremely grateful he didn’t even come remotely close to securing the nomination.  The small, but substantial band of true believers who bought into what we know now was coordinated, though barely contained myth might be the real losers in all of this.  These people felt demoralized and rudderless when Edwards crashed to earth.  If even half of what is printed is true regarding Elizabeth Edwards, she is unlikely to be able to reserve space on daytime television couches ever again.  At any rate, few will be pressing the Pope to canonize her for suffering nobly with quiet resolve from breast cancer while her husband was carrying on an affair with another woman.  The Edwards’, like so many political marriages, apparently are made for each other, somewhere on cloud-cuckoo-land.      

What might be the intent of releasing this book now?  To encourage the Democratic party to rid itself of dead weight to maintain ample majorities in both the House and Senate with the upcoming Mid-Congressional elections?  To make President Obama look good by comparison?  To dance one final dirge on the grave of the supposedly invincible Clinton machine?  To keep the Republican party weak and divided leading into 2012?  As a cautionary tale towards all Americans that one should never believe the man (or woman) behind the curtain?  Or is it purely as a means to stir up controversy and sell books by the cartload?  Only the authors themselves know for sure.    

Everyone’s been talking about the Harry Reid comment, as well they should, but when I read it, all I see is an out-of-touch politician stuck in a way of thinking forty to forty-five years out of date.  Who says “Negro” anymore, aside from hip hop superstars, except maybe in an ironic context?  Though the remark is embarrassing enough on its face, it also points out just why Senator Reid was in a vulnerable state before this bombshell exploded.  Behind the times and certainly behind the eight ball, the ultimate impact of this ill-chosen remark will not arrive for another ten months, but if this is the beginning of the end, history will record the precise reason why.  One would hope this would also be a bucket of cold water to the face of the Democratic party, who has consistently clung to wet noodles like Reid and eschewed inspirational and potentially transformative leadership out of a stubborn refusal to delegate power to those with better ideas and better strategies.

If the portrayal in Game Change rings true, then we were fortunate to neither have nominated, nor elected now-Secretary Hillary Clinton.  She comes across as a supremely impotent and callous leader:  petty, cold, vindictive, and totally unprepared after the surprise loss in the Iowa caucus.  The irony among many is that, if this story is true, Hillary Clinton is the absolutely last person I would ever want picking up the red phone at 3 am.  Furthermore, the results of Bill’s apparent unwillingness to stop philandering might not have been leaked to the public, but the fear that it would proved to be a major distraction, among many many others in the Clinton War Room.  There were many of us out in the blogosphere who were accused of being clandestine Republican, or at least disloyal traitors to the party for voicing these same reservations, and I hope that now perhaps we can be vindicated as placing mostly ethical conduct (if not a winning team) before party line.

I don’t blame those who wanted to see Hillary Clinton as the first female President in the hopes of putting a symbolic end to the oft-reviled glass ceiling.  Even going in, she was clearly not a flawless candidate, but many who participated in the front lines of the women’s equality movement were willing to overlook them in order to make a clear and unequivocal statement.  As for me, I can’t count the number of times I’ve voted for a candidate who neither inspires me, nor fills me with anything more than a rather perfunctory obligation to cast a ballot (see: Kerry, John).  In the minds of some, no red flag or combination of red flags could have swayed them from taking Hillary Clinton to new living quarters at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  But, in saying this, it is very dangerous to superimpose any dream on one single individual, particularly when the cause itself can at times be distorted into purely self-serving ends, rather than with the intent to positively influence as many people as possible and in so doing improve life for everyone.  

Regarding the Hillary supporters, I do understand their motivation.  When she was criticized from whichever corner was actively firing at her, they felt criticized, too.  All of the times where women in position of power were discounted or called “bitch” when they tried to intrude upon what had long been spaces reserved purely for men translated to a supreme justification for their unyielding favor with Team Clinton.  Still, what one must do, however, is qualify the criticisms and the negative comments in their proper context.  “Bitch” can be meant in an equally petty, snidely condescending fashion regarding any woman who broaches Patriarchal protocol and demands to be both highly visible and highly outspoken.  “Bitch”, it must be added, can also be an epithet for someone whose mean-spirited behavior and ill-tempered personal conduct renders them most unpleasant and not especially ingratiating.  So there is a difference, though sometimes it can be obscured or manipulated when it is politically expedient to do so.  

This degree of self-identification at the expense of viewing the Senator’s New Clothes is what drove the hard-core Hillary loyalists, some of which became PUMAs come convention time.  It is also why the mainstream Feminist organizations like NOW backed Hillary Clinton to further their own cause, though in truth they are beholden to aging leadership, obsolete strategies, and tone-deaf attempts to stay relevant and pertinent to a new generation of younger feminists as well as those interested in the cause.  Thus, it shouldn’t be surprising why these organizations allied themselves with a candidate who shared all these same regrettable tendencies.  Hillary Clinton might as well have been a PUMA herself, since by the end, it was only those of her own age range, skin color, level of education, and background who clung tenaciously to a fading hope.  Again, true change will always be threatening to the status quo, but passing the torch isn’t an inspirational invocation, it is an admonition in this context.  It is well past time for a new generation of Americans to move forward the cause.          

Returning briefly to then-Candidate Clinton, though there was certainly an undercurrent of sexism inherent in media portrayals and public opinion of Hillary Clinton, as revealed in the book, the candidate certainly didn’t help her case by her private behavior.  Furthermore, she was brought down and utterly discounted by one of the most bizarre bedfellow arrangements I’ve ever seen in the form of the Anybody but Hillary bandwagon, the nascent Obama campaign, and the weakened, but still effective Republican party media blitzkrieg.  For once, all three were on the same page, with the same target in their sights, and all were dishing out a version of the presumptive front-runner that the passage of time has proven to be closer to fact than to fiction.  When you actually are that which your opposition claims that you are, then it is time to consider punting.    

Books like these reveal a fundamental truth about Americans, and perhaps all humans.  We are all eager voyeurs, gleefully peering behind the curtain to observe a glimpse of something we should not be able to spy, but also praying that the camera eye will never be turned upon us at any time, for any reason.  One might call it hypocrisy or the by product of a repressive society, but at any rate, it is the fundamental tension that leads us to create carefully crafted public images which are often nothing like our private, unguarded selves.  This is true on Facebook and it is true out in the work world.  I’d rather pursue this angle rather than resorting to a bunch of faux moralizing about how this book is scandalous and tawdry to no good end.  Scandalous and tawdry has become a cottage industry of sorts and it will always have an eager market.  There was a market for it a thousands years ago and there will be a market for it a century hence, I have no doubt.    

One would hope, then, that recognizing the painful dysfunction inherent in our political stars would cause our views to soften or at least evolve.  Being given a clear example of how propriety has a way of distorting the real from the imagined one would think would be liberating.  Imagine if there would be no need to outsource our own shortcomings to a war room within our own heads or, if we had the money, five or six well-paid keepers.  Still, to normalize this sort of behavior is neither my intent, nor my goal.  I’d rather focus on how initial altruism often takes a back seat to ultimate ambition, both in the minds of candidates and those actively involved in the game itself.  This is the lasting lesson I glean from all of this.

We can continue to build a cynical notion that politicians and politics are a game of smoke and mirrors.  Books like these do nothing to dispel such beliefs and everything to root them in place.  A study of hubris on the scale of this one should give us all reason to wonder if, were we in the same position, we would do any better.  It takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline not to give in to the applause, to the star-struck supporters, to the constant attention, and to the flirtations and propositions of those attracted to power, eloquence, and inspiration.  Fame is ephemeral, certainly, but it is also often instantaneous or immediate.  One day we are unknown, the next everyone knows our name.  We might handle it better if we’d had time to prepare ourselves for the good times and also the slings and arrows that are part of a packaged deal.  Though we may tell ourselves and others that being important is a state of being we would not wish for ourselves, there is a partially hidden part of us who craves it and would not turn it down if it were offered.  The rewards are too tempting for most to resist, or at least for very long.  When new fame comes attached to power, one can understand why any system views it uneasily, though the reality is that only by embracing a fresh set of legs and a new energy can we ever move farther down the road towards progress.

A natural conclusion …

The journal Nature has come out with a solid endorsement of Barack Obama for President:  America’s choice.

The opening:

The values of scientific enquiry, rather than any particular policy positions on science, suggest a preference for one US presidential candidate over the other.

According to Nature‘s editorial page editor M. Mitchell Waldrop, as to Nature‘s record of presidential campaign endorsements.

To the best of the anyone’s knowledge currently here at the magazine, this is the first time.

Help Stop Voter Harassment, Early Voting and on Nov 4th at the Polls

On my trip over to ePluribus Media this morning I found this open thread Help Make Sure Every Voter’s Story Gets Told in 2008, not long but with very useful information that was gathered from two other sources from yesterday, one found here at daily kos about incidents at early voting polls here in North Carolina and also sourced at Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic

Regardless of your political alignment, nobody — from any party, special interest or group, has the right to interfere with your right to vote for the candidate of your choice.

Obama fact sheet too generous to McCain re renewable energy

The spin machines work long and hard and fast nowadays. Email boxes around the country are filled with “fact sheets” and other material from campaigns during presidential debates and in the hours afterwards. Among other things, the Obama campaign produced “John McCain’s 26 Lies Tonight“. Lie #16:

RENEWABLE ENERGY: McCain claimed to support renewable energies, but his record shows otherwise. He has voted 23 times against investing in renewable energies and opposed a bipartisan effort to remove tax breaks for oil companies in order to invest in renewable energy.

23 times? Wow, that seems pretty bad … except that the real story is worse than that. On at least 50 occasions, John McCain voted against clean energy or (14 times) simply didn’t bother to show up.

McCain Suspends Campaign

From CNN:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain announced Wednesday that he is suspending his campaign to return to Washington and focus on the “historic” crisis facing the U.S. economy.

McCain said it was time for both parties to come together to solve economic crisis.

The Arizona senator called on his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, to do the same. He also urged organizers of Friday’s presidential debate at the University of Mississippi to postpone the event.

“I am calling on the president to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress, including Senator Obama and myself,” McCain told reporters in New York. “It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem.”

Yep.  I knew that was the problem … McCain not being back at work – if he hadn’t been campaigning, I bet we wouldn’t be in this economic pickle.

What an ass.

Palin As CiC of Alaskan Guard – Bush Doctrine

I’ve wondered why some Governors haven’t come out to speak to what their involvement is as to their States National Guard, when there isn’t a Natural Disaster,  the involvement as the Commander in Chief of those Guard Units, as well as the Involvement when the Federal Government steps in and takes Command, sending them into occupations as regular military units, as right out of the gate Mrs Palin claim was to broad experience in Guard affairs.

Well I need ask nor wait any longer.

Palin put her ‘Experience’ as a Commander in Chief to rest last night in the Interview on ABC with Charlie Gibson, in her answer on the ‘Bush Doctrine’, as a Governor with her States National Guard units being called into National Service and Fighting Overseas, She doesn’t know It and apparently never understood what it was nor the implications to her state and her state guards readiness if she had a need to call them into duty.

Remarks of Two OEF and OIF Veterans, DNC 2008, and Success!

In case you missed these powerful words from Two of our Countries Dedicated Veterans of the Current Occupation Theaters.

Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan can be Proud of these two, your brother and sister Veterans, as can the Families of All who are Serving and have Served, for You All are the Only Ones Sacrificing as this Country refuses to understand that Sacrifice!

The ‘Honorable Cause’ is the protection of your brother’s and sister’s as they protect you, in any conflict theater this nation sends those that serve it, wrong or right!

This Country must Now make it Right for All of You, it has Shirked It’s Full Responsibility for far too long, from Korea to the Present Day, that must End!!

A billion here, a billion there….

Unless a photo of  Obama holding a white baby in a Pakistani motel emerges, we should have a new President in 2009.  Martha Reeves’ royalties for “Dancin’ In the Street” will go through the roof in November.

But, what’s gonna be #1 with a bullet in 2009-10-11-12.

You are aware that what Barack Obama says he’s gonna do is not necessarily what’s gonna happen? Right? There’s 535 other politicians plus a horde of lobbyist with monkey wrenches in hand and billions of bucks earned the old fashioned way (foreclosing on our homes) that must be considered.  And Barack is a politician after all and sometimes what politicians say turn out to be false promises lies different from what they actually do.

Recently, I wrote a McCain piece at DKos and I committed the cardinal sin of blogging.  I failed to look at both sides of the coin, and I learned that maybe there are not two different sides of this coin.

McCain: Simple, Direct, Deceitful

Whether discussing his voting record on renewable energy, his relationship with lobbyists, or three wise men he would consult with, John McCain speaks simply, directly, deceitfully.

On issue after issue, coming to the fore is that John Maverick McCain has a problem with speaking truth.  

McCain campaign strategy working: media reporting “no difference” re Global Warming

A critical Republican campaign strategy is working when it comes to framing for the November election. Despite actual facts, media reporting increasingly reports that there is no difference of import between John McSame McCain and Barack Obama when it comes to the arenas of energy and Global Warming. Take David Kesterbaum’s NPR report yesterday.

If you are trying to figure out whom to vote for in the upcoming presidential race, the issue of climate change may not be much help. This is one area where both leading candidates for president do not have a lot to disagree about.

Shallow, misinformed, and misleading reporting is about the most polite way to describe Kestenbaum’s report which focuses solely on selected sound-bytes rather than the substance of the two candidates’ positions.

There are fundamental differences between McSame’s and Obama’s positions and fundamental differences about the prospects for the future between President McSame and President Obama.  Differences that Kesterbaum reporting will leave you ignorant about.

“After Bobby Kennedy (There Was Barack Obama) “

Reproduced from The Greanville Journal @ Cyrano’s Journal Online

One more warning on Obama and the Dems. Don’t say we didn’t tell you.

July 20th, 2008

Let’s Get Real /  Guest editor: Morris Berman

Dear Friends,    

I thought this article by John Pilger, the British journalist, on Barack Obama was too important to pass up, especially in view of the fact that most Americans have not read “Dark Ages America” and would hate it if they did. (I encourage you to cut, paste, and circulate this essay.) For those of you who did read it, you may remember I said that it was virtually impossible to get elected president if you did not support corporate America’s agenda and the national security state. The following essay strikes me as being an important antidote to the naive belief that Mr. Obama somehow represents a radical alternative to the status quo, or that the November election represents some sort of watershed in American history. -MB.

Published on Saturday, May 31, 2008 by The New Statesman (UK)

After Bobby Kennedy (There Was Barack Obama)

by John Pilger

In this season of 1968 nostalgia, one anniversary illuminates today. It is the rise and fall of Robert Kennedy, who would have been elected president of the United States had he not been assassinated in June 1968. Having travelled with Kennedy up to the moment of his shooting at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on 5 June, I heard The Speech many times. He would “return government to the people” and bestow “dignity and justice” on the oppressed. “As Bernard Shaw once said,” he would say, “‘Most men look at things as they are and wonder why. I dream of things that never were and ask: Why not?'” That was the signal to run back to the bus. It was fun until a hail of bullets passed over our shoulders.

Kennedy’s campaign is a model for Barack Obama. Like Obama, he was a senator with no achievements to his name. Like Obama, he raised the expectations of young people and minorities. Like Obama, he promised to end an unpopular war, not because he opposed the war’s conquest of other people’s land and resources, but because it was “unwinnable”.

Should Obama beat John McCain to the White House in November, it will be liberalism’s last fling. In the United States and Britain, liberalism as a war-making, divisive ideology is once again being used to destroy liberalism as a reality. A great many people understand this, as the hatred of Blair and new Labour attest, but many are disoriented and eager for “leadership” and basic social democracy. In the US, where unrelenting propaganda about American democratic uniqueness disguises a corporate system based on extremes of wealth and privilege, liberalism as expressed through the Democratic Party has played a crucial, compliant role.

Real News: Obama’s Excellent Adventure

4 min 30 sec: For the Pentagon, it’s all about long term bases

Senator Barack Obama’s Middle East/Central Asia leg of his whirlwind world tour was as smooth as the three-pointer he shot in front of US troops. Military historian Gareth Porter explains what’s left unsaid behind the triumphal profusion of meetings and photo opportunities.

Gareth Porter is a historian and investigative journalist on US foreign and military policy analyst. He writes regularly for Inter Press Service on US policy towards Iraq and Iran. Author of four books, the latest of which is Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam.

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