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Archive for January, 2008|Monthly archive page

Ted Kennedy backs Obama

In civil, Election 2008, Progressive Politics, Race, US Politics on January 28, 2008 at 5:48 pm

Kennedy’s seniority and force as a legislator will be a huge gain for Obama, whose primary weakness in this race may be a lack of Democriatic party connections as compared to the Clintons. Even if he wins the popular vote, the pimary could be decided by “superdelegates,” members of the democratic party who are not required to pledge their vote to any specific nominee. These delegates have been surveyed to support Clinton more than two to one over Obama, and if the race turns out to be a tight one in the state primaries, they could be the deciding factor in the final nomination. (For a breakdown of how the delegate system works, see CNN’s delegate explainer)

This makes Kennedy’s endorsement critical, as his seniority will put him in a position to sway some of the unpledged delegates who have favored Clinton over Obama. The Clinton’s had encouraged him to remain neutral, knowing his influence, but he has decided to be an active supporter of the Obama campaign.

From the International Herald Tribune:

[Kennedy] intends to campaign aggressively for Obama, heading West this week, followed by appearances in the Northeast. Strategists see him bolstering Obama’s credibility for the office and providing particular benefits with union members and Hispanics, as well as the party base. […]

After Obama won the Iowa caucuses, associates to both men said, Kennedy concluded that Obama had transcended racial lines and the historical divisions the Kennedy family had worked to tear down. […]

“For somebody who, I think, has been such an important part of our national imagination and who generally shies away from involvement in day-to-day politics to step out like that is something that I’m very grateful for,” Obama said.

Thanks again, Dennis

In civil, Culture of Corruption, Election 2008, Freedom of Information, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Misc., Progressive Politics, Technology, US Politics on January 17, 2008 at 1:33 am

American politics is so dirty and that it is usually a downer, but every time Dennis Kucinich makes the news he gives us something to smile about. Not long ago, he introduced a proposal for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney. More recently, he managed to see past himself enough to urge his supporters at the Iowa caucus to move to Obama’s corner if he didn’t make the 15% required to be counted in a dictrict. And a few days ago, he asked for a recount in New Hampshire. Now I’m not saying I think New Hampshire was miscalculated, stolen, etc. But in light of certain questionable electoral maneuvers over the past decade (i.e. 2000, florida and 2004, ohio), I have come to the conclusion that asking for a recount can only be a good thing, and that it should be done more often. Candidates have to pay a fee to have a recount done, and Kucinich has chosen to pay for it from his own pocket: beautiful. This, mind you, is a hand recount, meaning that even the votes taken by computerized voting machines will be counted by hand, from the vote printouts they produce.

From TheHill.com,

The lawmaker said he does not expect his own vote count to be significantly affected by such a recount but he added that it is “imperative that these questions be addressed in the interest of public confidence in the integrity of the election process and the election machinery.”

In his request for a recount, Kucinich alleges that there have been “unexplained disparities between hand-counted ballots and machine-counted ballots.” […]

“This is not about my candidacy or any other individual candidacy,” Kucinich said. “It is about the integrity of the election process.”

Let me just be one to say: Thanks again, Dennis!

New Philly Mayor has some Game

In Election 2008, Music, Progressive Politics, US Politics on January 10, 2008 at 1:22 pm

Newly elected Mayor Mike Nutter celebrated his new job with a fairly impressive rendition of the Sugar Hill Gang classic “Rapper’s Delight” during his inauguration party. Not bad to have ?uestlove on the decks, either. After a spotty start, he locks it in around 1:00. Enjoy.

Obama’s next Mistake

In Election 2008, Media Criticism, Misc., US Politics on January 9, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Quieting down the crowd that was cheering for him when he spoke after the primary in New Hampshire.

No other candidate has crowds react like that. The people were making a statement of their own, and he could have let them. The chanting O-BAM-A! might have itself become a contagious media event, picked up, circulated and discussed in the wake of the primary, to help give him some steam and offset an apparent loss to Clinton. The only way for the American public to see the excitement he stirs up in people is to let them make a statement of their own. Silencing a show of approval like that, from your own supporters, is passing up a powerful opportunity. It is “little” things like this that will win or lose an election.

Obama’s Mistake

In Culture of Corruption, Election 2008, Media Criticism, Progressive Politics, US Politics on January 9, 2008 at 1:00 am

Obama just lost the New Hampshire primary when he should have won it.

Why should he have won it? Because he has better policies, more charisma, and more intelligence than Clinton. Additionally, he has the benefit of having an opponent who is alternately nasty and sacharine, and that is never truly appealing.

In the last debate, though, he commited a fatal mistake. Clearly angry at Clinton for leveling unfair attacks at him, he defended himself artfully, with help from Edwards. Later, Gibson’s guest moderator referred to the “double team” Clinton had faced earlier, in which Edwards and Obama both suggested that Clinton represented the “status quo,” and was a force opposing change. Clinton responded oddly, and seemed to be looking for assurance. Here’s the exchange I’d like to highlight:

SPRADLING: My question to you is simply this: What can you say to the voters of New Hampshire on this stage tonight who see a resume and like it, but are hesitating on the likability issue, where they seem to like Barack Obama more?

CLINTON: Well, that hurts my feelings.

(LAUGHTER)

SPRADLING: I’m sorry, Senator. I’m sorry.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: But I’ll try to go on.

(LAUGHTER)

He’s very likable. I agree with that. I don’t think I’m that bad.

OBAMA: You’re likable enough, Hillary.

CLINTON: Thank you…

(LAUGHTER)

What Obama doesn’t get is that this is war. Hilary is treating it like one, and she has shown that she is not above getting nasty to win. Obama was not being called upon to speak at this moment, Clinton was floundering, and silence from his corner would have left her to respond without assurance. This is something Obama should have left her to.

By alleviating the gravity of the situation with this little utterance, Obama moved away from his own frustration, which would have provided a platform for some powerful statements towards the end of the debate.

You will say, “but this is so insignificant.” Yes, deceptively so. The real outlines of a situation between people are in these small gestures. Obama is trying to be all things to all people, even a friend to Hilary. That is fine, but I think there were some beefs to settle first, which Obama ignored in favor of social grace. By doing this, Obama gave Clinton a platform that she wouldn’t have had otherwise.

It is worth noting that Obama did not make a very strong showing towards the end of the debate, and Clinton seemed to find her voice a bit more.

For comparisons, see Kerry’s response to Bush’s aggression in the Town Hall debate in ’04, when Bush refused to let a question go when his time was up. Kerry replies to what Bush is saying, but skirts the more effective (and necessary) approach of taking Bush’s aggression head on and calling him out in it. Does anybody else see any parallels between the Obama-Clinton battle and the Bush-Kerry battle in ’04? I do.

Aggression tends to win the day in American politics, and Obama will have to learn not to lose sight of the realities of his opponent if he wants to win this race. Softening to create a contrast is not a good option here. The American public tends to prefer the aggressive side of that contrast. There is no need to be nice when the other guy would gladly bash you to kindgom come. That’s not to say he should go negative, but that he shouldn’t forget that Hilary has done so.  She is serious about it and will take every pawn left unprotected. This is not about friendship for her.