Saturday, May 10, 2008

Obamessiah watch

Chicago is one of the most corrupt cities in America. It's also been a Democratic Party bastion for more than 70 years. Mere coincidence. John Kass of the Chicago Tribune writes:
The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate's politics were born in Chicago. Yet he is presented to the nation as not truly being of this place, as if he floats just above the political corruption here, uninfected, untouched by the stain of it or by any sin of commission or omission. It is all so very mystical.
Perhaps viewing Obama as a Chicago political creature would conflict with the established national media narrative of Obama as a reformer.
Actually, there's no "perhaps" about it.
"I think I have done a good job in rising politically in this environment without being entangled in some of the traditional problems of Chicago politics," Obama told reporters and editors at a Tribune editorial board meeting several weeks ago. Yes, an excellent job.
Except for his dalliance with his indicted real estate fairy, Tony Rezko, a relationship Obama considers a mistake, the senator has not played the fly to Mayor Richard Daley's spider. Almost, but not quite.
Rezko's a "mistake," just like Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright are "mistakes." Any scandal that pops up, Obama says "mistake" and his media disciples nod their heads in worshipful silence. Speaking of Obama's disciples, the New York Times has a glowing Obama profile, celebrating his "pragmatic" politics, prompting this rejoinder from pro-Clinton Democrat blogger Jeralyn Merritt:
He dumped his Palestinian friends like Rashid Khalidi when he decided to go after the Jewish vote. . , . If I were a Palestinian, I'd be upset too. If I were a strong Israel supporter, I'd be nervous. See the Times article on pages 5 and 6, about how once he got introduced to Chicago's billionaire Crown family and sought its campaign contributions, he moved towards supporting Israel.
A political mirror, a chameleon, an empty vessel, a blank slate, a screen onto which desperate souls project their hopes. (Note to self: Buy DVD, re-watch A Face in The Crowd.)

UPDATE: Susan at Larry Johnson's "No Quarter" blog notes that Corrente Wire has excerpted and analyzed the NYT profile:
Others see his deft movements as a politician shifting positions and alliances for strategic advantage, leaving some disappointed and baffled about where he really stands.
“He has a pattern of forming relationships with various communities and as he takes his next step up, kind of distancing himself from them and then positioning himself as the bridge,” said Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian-American author and co-founder of the online publication Electronic Intifada, who became acquainted with Mr. Obama in Chicago. . . .
That seems to be a familiar pattern with Obama - it’s “buddies for life” while he needs them, then he forgets about them when they are no longer useful, or tosses them under the bus when they become inconvenient. This doesn’t bode well for the OFB …
… this hotshot “civil rights” attorney has nothing to show for his experience. Most people who run on their record have a record to run on. Even Rudy Giuliani made his name going after organized crime. …
It seems everything Obama does benefits Obama. Every job, every friendship, is just part of the same pattern.

Everything to everybody; Chicago's own Lonesome Rhodes. Another benefit of Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos" is thus illustrated. By pushing the Democratic primary campaign further along, "Operation Chaos" has afforded the Clintonistas a greater opportunity to get bitter and cyncial about Obama and the Democratic Party machinery that apparently has delivered him the nomination.

Depending on the outcome here, we may be looking at a bumper crop of ex-Democrats in the near future. Disillusioned ex-Democrats are some of the most fierce and effective conservatives. I remind you that Ronald Reagan was an ex-Democrat.

Hillary: 'Endeavor to persevere'

A "private call," not necessarily a secret call:
Hillary held a private rally-the-troops conference call with her super-delegate supporters this afternoon, urging them to believe that "this race is not over," vowing to them she'd promote Dem unity after the primary, and conceding that she knows what they and the party are going through "is not easy." . . .
Hillary projected a surprisingly cheerful tone despite recent events, and if she is having doubts about what's going to happen, she didn't show it on the call. "Despite what some in the media are saying, this race is not over," she said.
That's the spirit! Gallantly fight on! If you have to retreat, make sure it's a fighting retreat.

P.S.: The title of this post is from "The Outlaw Josey Wales."

McCarthy: Naming names

That's Daniel McCarthy -- Tory Anarchist blogger and an editor for The American Conservative who name-checks me as attending a Cato Institute book forum featuring Ain't My America author Bill Kaufmann and "lots of people Dick Cheney would like to see in Gitmo."

National Review contributors please note that mere attendance at this event does not make me an "Unpatriotic Conservative." I'm just nuanced.

On the other hand, once the interrogation starts, I'll be glad to rat out my friends. None of that Fifth Amendment for me, thanks. I'm like Ron White -- I have the right to remain silent, I just don't have the ability.

Eddie Arnold, R.I.P.

Via See-Dubya at Michelle Malkin, one last tip of the hat to the Tennessee Plowboy:
The Hank Cochran-penned "Make the World Go Away," a defining 1965 No. 1 country hit which made the pop top 10 in both America and Britain, perfectly encapulates a sentiment common to everyone who's ever bred cattle or just eaten them. "Make the world go away/And get it off my shoulders/Say the things you used to say/And make the world go away..." Did any troubled, wishful lyric ever better express the appeal not just of love but of music itself?
My mother worked at RCA's Atlanta office in the late '60s and early '70s, and of all the stars who ever stopped by their office, Eddie Arnold was her favorite: A perfect gentleman who was unfailingly courteous and friendly toward the "little people."

One of the great secrets of success -- not just in music, but in anything else -- is to be nice to people, especially the "little people." Elvis Presley got his first break in music because he made an impression on the receptionist at Sun Records. If you think you're going to make it in the long run by sucking up to the rich and powerful while looking down your nose at ordinary people, you're going to be disappointed.

Hillbillies hate Hope

OK, it's probably unfair to stigmatize West Virginians with the word "hillbillies" -- contrary to stereotypes, it's not all incest, moonshine and bad teeth over there -- but they really don't seem to dig Obama:
In Hardy County, Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 2 to 1. But there is little enthusiasm for Barack Obama in this mountainside enclave, a portent of trouble for the Illinois senator in next week's West Virginia primary and the general election beyond.
Nearly 97% white, the county is as conflicted as any rural and working-class Democratic bastion as it struggles to adjust to the likely prospect of the party nominating its first African American presidential candidate.
The L.A. Times reporter then gets quotes from Democratic mouthpieces to help him develop the none-too-subtle theme that anybody who votes Republican in November is a racist:
"My worry is there's just too many people in this country who aren't ready to elect a black president," said Charles L. Silliman, a retired Air Force officer who is Hardy County's Democratic Party co-chairman. "There's a lot to like about him. But I'm just afraid that too many people will vote against him based on their fears and prejudice."
Never mind the elitism, the "57 states," the radical anti-American preacher, the Hamas connection, the Weather Underground connection -- never mind any of that, and never mind that policy-wise, Obama's just a clone of John Kerry.

No, none of that matters at all. The L.A. Times knows why you don't support Obama, you inbred banjo-plucking bigots.

Please note that it is the Democrats and the MSM -- is that redundant? -- who are setting up this election as a referendum on racial rectitude. Except for his Philadelphia speech, Obama himself has tried to avoid making race front-and-center in his campaign, but the Democrats and the media just won't let well enough alone.

We're going to hear this theme endlessly reiterated for the next six months. Win, lose or draw, the MSM will portray the November results as a plebiscite on ethnic tolerance. If Obama wins, we'll get two months of uninterrupted op-eds and Page One analyses of "what it means." If Obama loses, the MSM will tout it as permanent proof of endemic American racism.

The worst part? The only way to prevent this nightmare is for Hillary Clinton to steal the nomination. So thank you, MSM, for forcing Americans to pray for a Clintonian swindle.

UPDATE: Dan Riehl has a similar reaction:
The media obsession with the racism meme, without acknowledging the entire picture, is simply a symptom of a media that's stuck on old stupid, offering little if any genuinely intelligent, deep, or honest analysis of the entire picture.
Yet the media swoons for Obamessiah, and anyone who doesn't share Chris Matthews' tingles is a benighted bigot.

UPDATE II: Wow, even liberal Democrats like Jerome Armstrong are getting tired of the racism meme:
I'd humbly suggest, to all the Obama supporters that join us here on this blog, that if you can't stand the heat of the West Virginia primary, you stay out of the kitchen. While I'm at it, I also suggest that you refrain from accusations against West Virginians as being racist. . . .
Racism is ignorance, but unfounded accusations of racism are just as low on the scum-radar.
This is probably as good a place as any to recount a conversation I had yesterday with my brother Kirby, who's a truck driver in Georgia -- and also one of the most insightful political analysts I know. Kirby said that these bogus accusations of racism are going to destroy the Democrats in the general election if Obama is their nominee.

Every bit of negative news for Obama -- every gaffe, every scandal, every time he dips in the polls -- is going to be viewed through the prism of race by the media and the Democrats, who are then going to use it to spin this theme: If you don't like Obama, you're a racist. And nothing infuriates the white working class more than bogus accusations of racism.

Kirby said that the backlash against this tactic could be so bad that it could even put California in play. I scoffed at this, but Kirby was serious. "Think about it, Stacy. They've got Schwarzenegger as governor out there. . . . If the Democrats have to fight for California, it's going to be a serious drain on their resources."

Kirby suggested the possibility of an electoral blowout along the lines of 1972 or '84, which I consider unlikely, but he's definitely got a point about the explosive danger to Democrats if they overplay the race card.

Working-class whites don't have the reflexive "white guilt" reaction toward minorities that is so common among the affluent elite. When you start pointing the finger of "racism" at the white guy who's punching a clock and struggling to pay his bills, what he hears is, "Feel sorry for me." And his reaction is, "WTF?" It's not that he's about "hate," it's just that his life is hard enough that he doesn't have time to go around oozing empathy toward others.

I think this is part of what Team Clinton has been trying to explain about the demographic trends in the Democratic primaries, though without much success. Paul Begala's "eggheads and African-Americans" quote might sound callous, but it touches on the danger to Democrats if they nominate a candidate who alienates white working-class voters. John Kerry's snooty attitude hurt him in this regard, and it's not hard to imagine Obama having a similar problem -- especially if you get a bunch of talking heads on TV insinuating that opposition to Obama is purely a function of white bigotry.

If I were handling media for Team Obama, I'd be coming down like a hammer on anybody in the MSM who's playing on this racism meme. The dynamic is a lot more complex than that, and there's serious potential that this could generate a backlash.

For years, Kirby has been tipping me to "under-the-radar" stuff that people inside the Beltway don't notice, and he's very perceptive -- like the time he alerted me that Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes had alienated school teachers, a harbinger of the historic Republican midterm sweep of the state in 2002. When Kirby forecasts trouble for Democrats in November, I feel obligated to record his forecast. He's been right about these things so often, and it's fun to point out that sometimes the big-shot pundits have less political insight than a truck driver.

UPDATE III: How many truck drivers does Andrew Sullivan know? . . . Wait a minute. I'm not sure I want to know the answer to that question.

UPDATE IV: Linked by Don Surber, who notes:
Perhaps if Obama actually tried to win here, he could. But Obama has spent more time in the Virgin Islands than he has spent here.
Of course, he evidently thinks the Virgin Islands is a state.
To be sure, the Chicago political machine has sent a squad or two down here. But it is more like a training exercise for teh young. Cannon fodder.
The main team is elsewhere, perhaps catching its breath.
Yeah, lots of GOTV and honk-and-waves on Team Obama's West Virginia schedule, but no Obama. Maybe they're afraid one of those toothless moonshiners might mistake Obama for a revenuer and blast him his shootin' iron.

Celebrity update

Too busy to keep up with the tacky tabloid news? Via WeSmirch, here's the latest star-studded lowdown:
  • Britney Spears is dating a 43-year-old billionaire. That's billionaire with a "b," which explains why you other 43-year-old guys out there shouldn't even bother thinking about Britney.
  • Heidi Klum's hotness has entered its terminal phase. An extremely sad day for those of us who remember Klum's Sports Illustrated glory way back when.
  • Lindsay Lohan, thief? It's only a matter of time before she's busted while attempting to hot-wire a Chevy in Compton.
  • Somebody you never heard of is on the cover of Harper's Bazaar, apparently because she dates George Clooney.
  • Elizabeth Hurley's cleavage. That's not exactly news, except that she's obviously gotten about half a million bucks' worth of plastic surgery and now only faintly resembles her former self.
  • Liv Tyler's back on the market, divorcing her husband, a musician in a band I never heard of.
  • In possibly related news, Ashlee Simpson is about to marry a musician in a band I never heard of.
  • DMX is arrested for marijuana and pit bulls. DMX is a rapper. Unlike Liv Tyler's ex-husband or Ashlee Simpson's husband-to-be, I've actually heard of DMX.
  • Playboy's latest "Playmate of the Year" has a tattoo. Don't ask where.
  • Finally, if this is what the producers call a "highlight" from Leaving Sarah Marshall, just wait until it's on cable:

Clinton campaign scrambling?

Yesterday, Allahpundit posted a link to an online invitation to a Mother's Day fundraiser at the Sheraton in New York featuring Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. That event is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign's West Virginia press office this morning sent out a media update that included this:
Hillary and Chelsea will hold a Mother's Day celebration in West Virginia on Sunday.
No time or location stated, which suggests to me that the scheduling is still up in the air. And with that 1:30 p.m. event scheduled in New York, it becomes like one of those word problems in the 6th-grade math textbook:
Charleston, W. Va., is 500 miles from New York City. Hillary Clinton has a 1:30 p.m. event at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown New York. If she wants to schedule a morning event in Charleston, what time should she schedule it, in order to be sure she's not late for her New York event? Please calculate this problem based on private jet travel from Yeager Airport to LaGuardia, allowing time for landing delays at LaGuardia and traffic congestion between LaGuardia and the Sheraton.
Obviously, you'd want your West Virginia event to be Sunday morning, so that TV coverage of the Mother's Day message would be seen during both the noon and evening local newscasts. But that 1:30 fundraiser in New York puts you on a short leash in terms of logistics and scheduling.
So, as of 10 a.m. Saturday, the Clinton campaign couldn't even give the media a time and location for the Sunday event it was promoting. Looks like piss-poor planning, and an overworked staff now trying to improvise a schedule at the last minute.

MSM darling vs. MSM messiah

During the GOP primary season, some Republicans seemed to think John McCain would be able to take advantage of the media's "Maverick" crush in the general election campaign. Quin Hillyer ain't buying:
The media darling McCain is going to be in for a bumpy ride now that his opponent is Obama, the media savior who makes the commentariat feel warm tingles run up their legs. The media will throw over a darling for a messiah every time.
Quin links an Amanda Carpenter column about Washington Post coverage of an Arizona land deal in which the reporter tries to make McCain look as sleazy as Hedley Lamarr from Blazing Saddles.

Sadr capitulates?

This could be very good news:
Followers of rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr agreed late Friday to allow Iraqi security forces to enter all of Baghdad's Sadr City and to arrest anyone found with heavy weapons in a surprising capitulation that seemed likely to be hailed as a major victory for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. . . .
The agreement would end six weeks of fighting in the vast Shiite Muslim area that's home to more than 2 million residents and would mark the first time that the area would be under government control since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003. . . .
It also would be a startling turnaround in fortunes for Maliki, who'd been widely criticized for picking a fight with Sadr's forces, first in the southern port city of Basra and then in Sadr City.
It's very difficult to judge the military and political situation in Baghdad from half a world away based on news reports. But the Mookster is clearly a stooge for the Iranian mullahcrats and has been a bad actor since Day One, and if this signals the beginning of the end of his mischief, then it's a good thing.

On the other hand, I was disturbed by something that Gabriel Malor (a recent law school grad) posted at Ace of Spades HQ. Gabriel was slamming a lefty blogger who did an anti-American rant based on a news story about an Iraqi army order for civilians to evacuate Sadr City. That rant was the basis for Gabriel's argument that concluded:
This is why the Left must lose in November. I'm not asking you to vote for John McCain. I'm asking you to vote against having a Leftist in the White House.
Hold the phone there a minute, son. The study of Latin and logic used to be a prerequisite to law school. Can you say, "non sequitur"?

Are we really sure that the next Democratic president will base his (or her) foreign policy on the views expressed in that lefty blogger's rant? Granted, every Democratic president since at least LBJ has made a disastrous botch of foreign policy, but to draw a logical line from Point A (the lefty blogger's rant) to Point B (Obama's foreign policy) is a bit hasty. It's an error akin to blaming Republicans for every crackpot utterance of Pat Robertson.

Furthermore, Gabriel, leaving aside the mala fides of the lefty blogger (hey, I can sling me some Latin when I need to), do you mean to suggest that the wisdom of the evacuation order is not subject to debate? Let's quote that news story:
Iraqi security forces, after more than of 40 days of intense fighting, on Thursday told residents to evacuate their homes in the northeast Shiite slum of Sadr City and to move to temporary shelters on two soccer fields. . . .
Two soccer fields in east and northeast Baghdad are expected to receive some 16,000 evacuees from the southeast portion of the city where the fighting has been most intense.
Holy smokes! Think about going to a concert or sporting event with a crowd of 16,000. Now, imagine trying to house that entire crowd in tents in a space the size of two soccer fields. Food, water, sanitation -- we're talking a logistical nightmare, just to achieve a minimal level of existence. That might be preferable to leaving the civilians in their homes while the fighting rages, but it's still a drastic measure, and one that would nearly triple the current number of Sadr City refugees.

Somehow, I couldn't help but think of the famous 1864 Hood-Sherman correspondence regarding the latter's order for the evacuation of Atlanta. Most would say that Sherman got the better of the argument, but it certainly didn't endear him to the civilian populace. Here we are, five years into the Iraq war, and if we're still waiting to be greeted as liberators, it seems we'll be waiting a damned long time.

Mass evacuations? A six-week fight for a slum? An Iraqi army that can barely contend with a two-bit punk like Mookie?

Gabriel, if this is your best argument why Americans should stampede to the polls in November to pull the lever for John McCain, you've got problems much worse than the ranting of one left-wing blogger.

UPDATE: An imbed's account of a visit to Sadr City. And Jules Crittenden is cynical about the prospects that Sadr will place nice now.

Obama can't count?

Do they teach math and geography at Harvard Law?

(Via Hot Air.)

UPDATE: Brilliant idea from Suitably Flip:

Friday, May 9, 2008

Objective journalists

Gag me with a press pass:

Michelle Malkin offers them kneepads.

Supposedly the "news angle" here is that the candidate is wearing jeans. But George W. Bush frequently wears jeans at his Texas ranch, and if the ladies in the press corps ever got this swoony about Dubya, I don't remember it. And it's not that Bush is a big, fat slob. He's over six feet tall with an athletic build, an avid mountain biker.

So why do the media ladies give the lascivious reaction to Obama and not to Bush? Something to do with "social justice," perhaps?

Allah's in love!

First it was Mary Katharine Ham. Then it was Kirsten Powers. Now the mysterious Allahpundit says:
You had me at hello, Chelsea. Mom in 2008!

Always eager to help young lovebirds, I sent Allah the e-mail address for the Clinton press office so he could request media credentials for a Saturday fundraising event in New York. And I added this note:
It's not that hard, really. They're so desperate for favorable coverage at this point, they'll let anybody in. Hell's bells, man, on Wednesday, I was just a few feet away from Chelsea -- she actually signed an autograph for my kids.
I CC Ace on the suspicion that either (a) you two are like Clark Kent and Superman, or (b) Chelsea's got a soft spot for Ewoks.
Li'l ol' matchmaker me.

Lanny Davis discovers media bias

One of the beautiful things about this year:
Davis said he told a producer several times before getting on-air that he wanted to offer a counterpoint to CNN’s panel, which he thinks is too pro-Obama.
Regarding the panel's make-up, Davis said that he believes Gloria Borger, David Bergen, Donna Brazile and Carl Bernstein are all tougher on Clinton than on her rival. And he maintains that Roland Martin is definitely a “partisan for Obama.” (Martin has not official endorsed Obama and is not labeled as such on the network,)
“I have seen the stacked deck on the so-called panels, which always struck me as imbalanced against Hillary on Election Night,” Davis said, adding that a producer assured him there would be “equal time.”
So after waiting for nearly 90 minutes, Davis finally got on the air only to hear Cooper’s “sarcastic crack about anti-Clinton conspiracy.”
“I literally had to take a breath,” Davis said.

There is nothing so dangerous to Democrats as a liberal who's finally seen the light, and this increasingly bitter feud is likely to yield a bumper crop of disillusioned ex-Democrats.

Speaking of which, how soon before the Wall Street Journal or USA Today publishes a devastating op-ed column by Zell Miller? No rush. If I was advising Zell, I'd advise tell him to wait until right before the Democratic convention.

Obama's Hamas advisor

Ace activates the flaming skull:
How do all these terrorist-sympathizing radicals keep mistakenly thinking that Obama is one of them?
Rather like Ron Paul and the Truthers, isn't it?
One of Barack Obama’s Middle East policy advisers disclosed today that he had held meetings with the militant Palestinian group Hamas -- prompting the likely Democratic nominee to sever all links with him.
Robert Malley told The Times he had regularly been in contact with Hamas, which controls Gaza but is listed by the US State Department as a terrorist organisation. Such talks, he stressed, were related to his work for a conflict resolution think tank and had no connection with his position on Mr Obama's Middle East advisory council.
"No connection," you see. Entirely unrelated. Utterly irrelevant. And if this shows up in a Republican campaign ad, John McCain will denounce it.

Hmmm. Yet another damaging scandal hits the Obama campaign just about the time it looks like Hillary's finally doomed to defeat. These coincidences keep piling up like turtles stacked on a fence post.

Those shifty superdelegates might want to keep in mind who they're dealing with when they go up against Team Clinton. No rules in a bar fight.

Travis Tritt conservatives

I need one good honky-tonk angel,
To turn my life around.
That's reason enough for me to
lay this ol' bottle down.
A woman warm and willin',
that's what I'm lookin' for,
'Cause the whiskey ain't workin' anymore.

Seems like some young Republicans are sobering up:
In many ways, the Right has lost its logic. . . . Much of the DC-based infrastructure on the Right . . . has become the entrenched bureaucracy seeking its own promulgation.
The Republican Party isn't serving the Right, and the Right isn't likely to continue serving the Republican Party.
Good points, and many more in the comment field. I would note, however, that the founders of the proposed Next Right project -- Jon Henke, Patrick Ruffini and Soren Dayton -- are all GOP campaign operatives. Ergo, all that is necessary to shut down the project is for some Republican organization to hire theses guys and say, "Shut it down." For a quarter-million a year, in other words, the Establishment could buy them out.

There is a credibility issue here. For example, why would the various constituencies of "the Right" (inter alia, pro-lifers and Second Amendment activists) take advice from Ruffini, a former Giuliani operative? Why would amnesty opponents or free-speech proponents seek the counsel of Soren Dayton, who would still be working for John McCain if he hadn't Twittered that YouTube video?

How can one be a political operative for hire and still maintain credibility as an honest broker? Can frank and independent criticism of the Republican Party be expected from people who pay their bills with consulting contracts from Republican candidates?

Understand that I don't mean to criticize professional political operatives as such. It takes all kinds to make the world go 'round, and a man's got to make a living. As I've said, I wouldn't mind selling out if anybody was offering to buy me off. I'm just weary of people marketing themselves as pure-souled idealists when all evidence indicates they're at least as cynical and selfish as I am. (An honest cynic inevitably faces a supply-and-demand problem. How can you ever hope to sell out your principles, if you don't even pretend to have any principles?)

I would never take a dime from the McCain campaign or the RNC. Now, maybe if they offered six figures . . .

UPDATE: My friend Jon Henke responds:
My time can be bought, but my opinions have never been bought.
I suppose I should explain that my skepticism is to a great degree colored by the situation that developed in 2006 with Patrick Hynes, who was blogging at Ankle Biting Pundits while consulting for John McCain -- a situation Hynes had not adequately disclosed. Hynes was discussing the Republican '08 presidential field (including slams on Mitt Romney), and people were reading and quoting his opinions without knowledge that Hynes had a stake in the game.

Potential sources of undisclosed bias are not, of course, limited to such fee-for-service arrangements. But in the wake of the disclosure of Hynes' fee-for-service arrangment with John McCain's PAC, some things made a lot more sense. Hynes may genuinely admire McCain's "composure and dignity" -- qualities that are indeed admirable -- but the fact that he had a consulting contract with McCain certainly gave Hynes a greater incentive to share that admiration with his blog readers, an incentive to which his readers were not privy.

The revolving door between journalism and politics has been one of the most shameful facts of life in Washington for decades. If it is a scandal for Democratic Party operatives like George Stephanopoulos, Tim Russert and Chris Matthews to present themselves unbiased journalists, why isn't it a scandal for Republican Party operatives to present themselves as unbiased bloggers?

I don't mean to attack anyone personally here. Rather, I'm decrying what I see as a trend where the political blogosphere seems to be following the path of the MSM with the revolving door and undisclosed allegiances. This stuff matters because it affects the quality of the product. Content written with the reader's interest in mind is more engaging than content written with a client's interest in mind.

When I was an editor at The Washington Times, I used to get pissed off at reporters (for some reason, the Capitol Hill bureau was always the worst about this) who engaged in what I call "writing for your sources" -- for example, using terminology that only makes sense to insiders. You can't start throwing around phrases like "budget offsets" and assume that everybody who picks up the paper knows what a "budget offset" is.

Another pet peeve of mine as an editor (and, again, this always seemed worst with the Capitol Hill bureau) was reporters who got into the herd mentality and started trying to pattern their reporting to match what their peers in the press corps were doing. But what's the point of reading The Washington Times if it just reports the same story in the same way as The Washington Post and The New York Times? Try to do something different, find an angle that other reporters are ignoring.

All this is a means of saying that bloggers, like journalists, should always keep in mind the ultimate consumer -- the reader. It may be that Next Right is aimed at a narrow audience that's interested in a discussion among GOP political operatives, and that is unconcerned about the potential for undisclosed sources of bias in the discussion. I'm in no position to judge a site that hasn't even gone online yet, but if the potential for a credibility problem is obvious to me, you can assume that others will see the same risk.

What Obama means

As noted by pro-Clinton blogger Talk Left, polls point to a double-digit win for Hillary in West Virginia, which apparently doesn't matter. Just like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan, the preferences of the majority of Democratic voters in West Virginia are irrelevant to the DNC superdelegates.

Another Democrat, Chris Bowers, sees Obama's apparent triumph as portending a "cultural shift" in the Democratic Party:
Out with Bubbas, up with Creatives: There should be a major cultural shift in the party, where the southern Dems and Liebercrat elite will be largely replaced by rising creative class types. . . . These will be the type of people running the Democratic Party now, and it will be a big cultural shift from the white working class focus of earlier decades. Given the demographics of the blogosphere, in all likelihood, this is a socioeconomic and cultural demographic into which you fit. Culturally, the Democratic Party will feel pretty normal to netroots types. It will consistently send out cultural signals designed to appeal primarily to the creative class instead of rich donors and the white working class.
The one possible glitch in Bowers' analysis is his assumption that Obama will win in November. There are now many omens that November 2008 will be a repeat of the McGovern, Dukakis and Kerry experiences.

Elite liberalism with radical baggage is not a winning political recipe, which is a major reason why only two Democrats have been elected president since 1964. Both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, with their Southern origins and downhome demeanors, were able to convince Americans (in Clinton's case, mere pluralities of 43% in 1992 and 49% in '96) that they weren't cookie-cutter liberals. Obama offers no such pretense.

Look on the bright side, Democrats: Now you'll get to answer your hypothetical what-might-have-been scenario from 2004, and see what the outcome would look like had Howard Dean avoided his "yearrrgghh!" meltdown in Iowa and won the Democratic nomination.

Meanwhile, Don Surber catches this video of Bill Clinton arguing with a disruptive Democrat in Fayetteville, W.Va.:

Un-Mother's Day

Honor your pro-abortion mother, says Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards:
"You can help with a gift to Planned Parenthood Federation of America today in honor of your mother or daughter, and on behalf of all the women, children and families we help every day."
Michelle Malkin responds bluntly: "Ugh."

Most of Planned Parenthood's income comes from government funding via the Title X program, which has been increased to record levels by the "conservative" Bush administration.

Noting that Cecile Richards invokes her mother (ex-Texas Gov. Ann "Ma" Richards) and her daughter in her pro-abortion appeal, Jill Stanek says:
This pathetic woman is so psychologically and emotionally invested in abortion she as no semblance of a conscience left. If and when she has
grandchildren, I'm sure she'll use them, too.
That Richards doesn't realize the pretzel-logic of her appeal -- "Honor your mother by helping us prevent other women from becoming mothers" -- is evidence of a "conscience seared with a hot iron" (I Timothy 4:2).

UPDATE: Malkin previously noted that Obama has compared pro-life Sen. Tom Coburn to Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers. More hot-iron logic from the Left.

Cold comfort for Clintonistas

Hillary supporter Larry Johnson laments:
[T]he screwed-up, patchwork system the Democrats are using to choose delegates has given small states, which are unlikely to be in the Democratic column come November, inordinate influence.
At the same time, the big states that will play an instrumental role in the November general election--New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Texas, and California--are being treated like they are Iowa and Idaho. . . .
This goes to something that Hillary said at her press conference Wednesday in West Virginia:
Look, if we had the rules that the Republicans have, I'd already be the nominee. If they had our rules, they'd still be fighting it out.
The "winner-take-all" Republican primaries -- and Romney's early surrender -- were what allowed John McCain to cinch the GOP nomination in February. Meanwhile, Team Clinton made a series of strategic miscalculations, as Time's Karen Tumulty has explained.

The Democrats' system of proportional allotment of primary delegates, and the oddly undemocratic "superdelegate" system, have prevented the very outcome they were intended to guarantee -- i.e., the nomination of an Establishment-approved candidate. The Republican system . . . well, they do at least have a nominee.

Johnson continues:
Hillary's only hope is that the super delegates will come to their senses and realize that Barack Obama's relationships with the corrupt Tony Rezko, the racist-wife stealing Jeremiah Wright, and the unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers will provide the Republicans with ammunition they have never had at hand to use against the Democrats' candidate. This is particularly true of that flag stomper, Bill Ayers. . . .
In reality, it will be the relationship with Bill Ayers that will empower the Republicans to destroy the candidacy of Barack Obama.
When a Democrat's only hope is that Democrats will "come to their senses," that's not much hope at all. Obama appears to have won the Democratic nomination, but he has won it under such circumstances that his chances of election in November are dim.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

End game

Looks like the clock is ticking now:
Hillary Clinton has begun to ask her influential backers to be in Washington on May 14 for a meeting at her home, according to a major fund-raiser. Separately, the fund-raiser said, Bill Clinton will be speaking with top donors this afternoon on a conference call.
So, barring some sudden development in her favor, this looks like it's going to be an intervention. By this time next week, it might be over. She needs a miracle.

Barr to end exploration, begin campaign

He'll announce Monday in Washington:
The Hon. Bob Barr will hold a press conference on Monday May 12 to discuss his future plans and the 2008 election. Rep. Barr . . . launched an exploratory committee last month to determine whether he should file as a candidate for the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination.
Dave Weigel has more at Reason's Hit & Run.

A little birdie tipped me last night that this news was coming this morning, but the news was embargoed and I don't burn sources. Anyway, I was so shagged out from Wednesday's trip to Shepherdstown (following Tuesday's trip to Martinsburg) that I slept until noon, and got scooped on it. Eh.
At the AmSpec blog, Philip Klein says that "Barr has the potential to hurt John McCain in some swing states," and who can argue otherwise? The Ron Paul boom signaled that clearly enough.
To me, however, the real story -- and one that Jonathan Martin at Politico, for example, doesn't discuss -- is the very tough struggle Barr faces just to get the Libertarian nomination. (I wrote about that last month.) The more radical faction of Libertarians is not going to let an ex-Republican like Barr have the LP nomination without a fight.
The Libertarian radicals don't give a damn whether they nominate a candidate who can hurt John McCain. The radicals are fanatically committed to keeping the LP a cozy little discussion group for ideological purists like themselves. Having a political impact in the real world is less important to them than ensuring that the LP doesn't accidentally attract people with more mainstream views.
Of course, the LP radicals spew venom at Republicans and conservatives. But when a Libertarian candidate like Barr comes along, with the potential to be a torpedo that sinks the GOP and makes the LP genuinely relevant -- well, the radicals don't want any part of that.

What we really need . . .

. . . is more committees:
Today, the news is out that House Minority Leader John Boehner has decided the solution to regaining the majority is - wait for it - forming a new committee.
This committee will advise the main National Republican Congressional Committee, the committee that actually goes out and looks for Republicans to run for office, helps fund their campaigns, and talks them up in the media.
Boehner’s new committee won’t be doing any of that, though. It’ll just be advising the NRCC. What’s more, there will be members of the NRCC on the new committee where they will, one can only suppose, spend time advising themselves (can’t you go blind from that?).
Isn’t that exciting? The Republican Party is falling into ruin all about Boehner and his answer is to form a committee that will, according to one of the new committee’s members, “show that Boehner and NRCC Chairman Tom Cole ‘understand’ that they need to work closely together”.
Whoo! Feel the energy there, will you?
In other news that will generate sarcastic eye-rolling, John McCain has indeed learned a lesson about immigration -- he just learned the wrong one.

I've been kind of busy covering the Democrat primaries and trying to avert my eyes from the impending GOP train-wreck. Obviously, however, we need to start collecting these omens of the Republican apocalypse so that on November 5, we can say, "Told ya so."

Chelsea charmed

Skeptics like Sean Hackbarth and Don Surber have scoffed at my accounts of how the McCain magnetism magically attracts the Clinton ladies, but their scoffing would have ended Wednesday if they'd have seen the magic in action.

You see, guys, it's hereditary. Wednesday, I traveled to Shepherdstown, W.Va., to report a Cllinton campaign event for The American Spectator. Both Hillary and Chelsea would be there, so I brought along two of my sons, Jefferson, 9, and Emerson, 7. Knowing these two young McCain men would be irresistible to the Clinton women, I strategically stationed them in the front row, next to the barricade:

After the event, Chelsea moved along the barricade shaking hands and signing autographs. When she got to where the boys were stationed, I saw Chelsea -- wearing a biege jacket and jeans -- lean over to talk to them:
Then she signed an autograph for them:
If you'll click that photo to enlarge it, you can see Emerson's light blue shirt sleeve through the throng. Chelsea continued working her way toward me -- it's magic, I tell ya -- until finally, our eyes met:

I told Chelsea thanks for talking to my sons and she said (I quote): "Jefferson and Emerson? Oh, they're so cute!"

In all sincerity, I was impressed by the interest Chelsea showed in the boys. She leaned down to talk to them, and stayed there chatting for a minute, despite the crowd of other fans imploring her attention. She even remembered the boys' names.

Chelsea appears amazingly unspoiled by her circumstances. This event at Shepherd University had originally been scheduled as a solo gig for Chelsea, but at the last minute, her mom was added to the schedule -- a substitute media exposure after the Clinton campaign canceled Hillary's planned appearances on the morning news shows. Yet Chelsea didn't at all seem bothered by having to give up the spotlight for her mother, whom she introduced as "my Mom, the next president of the United States."

After the speech, there was what they call a "candidate availability" -- otherwise known as a press conference. Meet the press:

They may look harmless, but don't be deceived. They were like pirhanas smelling blood in the water, and all their questions to Hillary -- as I explained at the AmSpec blog -- were variations on a theme: "Hey, lady, why don't you quit already?"

Somehow, despite her obvious fatigue, the candidate kept her composure and answered these question politely:
From the angle of the photo, you can probably guess I was seated on the grass. Seated right next to me was -- I'm not making this up -- Gail Sheehy, who is covering the campaign for Vanity Fair. She and I talked a bit, and I told her about covering Hillary in Greensburg back in March, when the national press was already writing her political obituary.

I didn't ask any questions during the press conference, and never do. I'm content to leave the questioning to the traveling press -- "the travelers," in campaign shorthand -- who follow the candidate around on a full-time basis. You're not going to get anything exclusive at a press conference anyway, and the travelers are probably best qualified to grill the candidate about the topic du jour.

In one sense, I feel sorry for the travelers. They cover so many campaign events, they inevitably get jaded and don't pay much attention to the carnival hooplah that a big campaign brings to a small town like Shepherdstown.
For the local residents, whatever their politics, it's a chance to see somebody famous, and the supporters at these events are almost always endearingly enthusiastic. But the full-time campaign reporters have deadlines to meet and editors to please, and they seemingly pay little attention to the crowds and the scenery. For instance, I saw one young woman who got tired of broiling in the noon sun and decided to chill out on the bank of the creek that runs through a stone-walled course beside the the building where the rally was held:
A full-time campaign reporter for Associated Press or the New York Times never gets to take time to notice little vignettes like that. Instead, they're consumed by the competitive frenzy of the whole thing. And if, after the Indiana and North Carolina primaries, the big angle is "when will Hillary quit?" the travelers will all be going after that angle with everything they've got.

It's kind of embarrassing to watch. And anyone who looks at Hillary Clinton and sees a human being -- a pandering liberal human being, but still a human being -- cannot help but feel sympathy while watching her stand in front of a gang of reporters slinging hostile "gotcha" questions.

A painful thing to watch, and the pain is doubled when this arena bloodsport is being witnessed by the candidate's daughter. While Hillary fielded questions, Chelsea was standing off to one side, smiling politely. Imagine watching your own mother getting raked over the coals. I'd be tempted to start shouting: "You miserable little media twerps! Leave her alone! I don't care how many times you rephrase the question, the answer is still no. She's not quitting, OK? Now, shut up before I come over there, grab your laptop and shove it where the sun don't shine."

Yet Chelsea just stood there, mute and smiling. Amazing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

If we can believe Lawrence O'Donnell -- and I remind you, he is a Democrat -- Hillary will disdain the Bluto approach:
A senior campaign official and Clinton confidante has told me that there will be a Democratic nominee by June 15. He could not bring himself to say the words "Hillary will drop out by June 15," but that is clearly what he meant. I kept saying, "So, Hillary will drop out by June 15," and he kept saying, "We will have a nominee by June 15." . . . The Clinton campaign has not lost its grip on reality.
So the possibility of Hillary driving the Delta "Deathmobile" to Denver now, unfortunately, appears remote.

Today at her appearance in West Virginia -- you can read my brief report at the AmSpec blog -- the press corps kept battering Hillary with different variations of the same question: "When will you quit?" She resisted the temptation to say anything rude or make obscene gestures.

What a strong woman. If she needs advice . . .

Hillary's coming

. . . to Shepherdstown, W.Va., that is. It was a last-minute add to her schedule this morning, as I explain at The American Spectator blog.

Being a history buff, I can't help mentally associating Shepherdstown with Lee's 1862 retreat from Sharpsburg. Probably a coincidence, rather than an omen.

At any rate, I plan to be there in in a couple of hours, so blogging will be light for a while. In my absence, please feel free to sample my blog roll, keep checking for updates at the AmSpec blog, or consulting that invaluable guide to the blogosphere, Memeorandum.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Crisis '08 HQ: Barack the Vote!

11:15 p.m.: You've got to see this Obama operation at the grassroots level to really understand what's involved, and how they've been able to accomplish what they've accomplished. There are four guys and a girl -- the oldest is 28 -- sitting at laptops in a grocery store cafe, typing in data about their phone banks, their canvassing, and other campaign activity. Some are paid staff, some are volunteers.

This is the team for the Eastern Panhandle region of West Virginia. Some of these people have already worked in several states during this campaign. They've got the assistance of a 54-year-old Martinsburg volunteer.

Just got off the phone with Tom Bowen, national press guy for Team Obama. Imagine that -- a regional team member gets nervous about a reporter hanging around, sends an e-mail to headquarters, and next thing you know, the national press guy is on a cell phone talking to the reporter.

I mention to Tom that it's pretty impressive that they've got such an operation in a state where Hillary's expected to win by a heavy margin.

"Obama's philosophy is organize everywhere," Tom says.

"That's Old School," I say, and explain I'm not here to play "gotcha." He seems reassured.

The midnight deadline for the staff's data dump is approaching, and it looks like we're not going to have final results for Indiana until tomorrow morning. So I'm going to pack it up. Obama won by double digits in North Carolina; looks like Hillary's going to squeak by in Indiana.

It's been fun watching the campaign team work at the grassroots level. Wednesday, Chelsea Clinton's coming to nearby Shepherdstown. Should be quite a show. Whether or not Obama comes to the Panhandle, and when, is yet to be determined. But Tom tells me I'll be the first to know.

10:58 p.m.: I am in the cafe of a Martin's grocery story in Martinsburg, W.Va. Team Obama (WV Panhandle Div.) is now operating here, rushing to meet a midnight deadline to file their data of the day's activity. This grocery story has the best WiFi connection in town, they say.

The guy who's streaming live MSNBC says it's 86% of precincts reporting from Indiana, now 52% for Hillary, 48% for Obama -- closer than my prediction. Obama's outperforming the polls.

9:31 p.m.: They're running us out of headquarters here, am relocating.

9:11 p.m.: Obama's acceptance speech begins . . .

"This is your victory!"

Gracious: "Game changer ... congratulate Senator Clinton on what appears to be her victory in the great state of Indiana ..."

Obama goes right at Hillary's "electability" argument -- calls North Carolina "a big state, a swing state."

"Today we stand less than 200 delegates away . . ." (not according to Hillary's math, but ...)

"Pundits have suggested this party is inalterably divided . . . I don't believe it. . . . This election is about you, the American people."

"This fall we intend to march forward as a united party ..."

Give him this, the guy does "the vision thing" real good. He sounds good doing the lofty and inspiring phrase.

Something else: He's not afraid to repeat the same anecdotes and the same phrases he's been repeating for months. Obama remembers that, for many Americans, tonight is the first time they've actually sat down and listened to him speak.

Obama is Reaganesque in that sense. Reagan did the after-dinner speaking circuit for years and resisted the temptation to innovate. Find what works and stick with it. If a line gets a good reaction, use it again in your next speech. By repeating the same themes over and over -- rehearsing his lines, as it were -- Reagan developed the timing and rhythm of a seasoned performer.

Watching Obama deliver this speech, you see how he's got it down cold.

"That's the America I love. That's the America you love. That's the America we're fighting for in this election." (The crowd goes wild.)

One problem: Obama's also got that Clinton thing where he starts speaking and goes on forever until the audience gets tired, bored and irritated. A good election speech should be no more than 10 minutes, and Obama's already gone more than 15.

9 p.m.: Greetings to Michelle Malkin readers from beautiful West Virginia, where an Obama phone bank is going on while they watch the returns on MSNBC. It's interesting to hear half the phone conversations. One phone banker just said: "Watch your language, sir!" I looked up and caught the eye of the field organizer, who shrugged: "It happens."

The size of Obama's North Carolina win is pretty impressive -- apparently much bigger than the 10-point win I'd boldly predicted this morning. And the Obama campaigners are still holding out hope for Indiana, where the margin has closed to 6 points -- Hillary 53%, Obama 47% -- with 67% of precincts reporting.

8:54: Sorry for the long delay, but I had some work to do over at the American Spectator blog. Had a long conversation with an Obama field operative here who said he was surprised by the level of Ron Paul support here in West Virginia. Meanwhile, back in Indiana . . .

With 59% of the Indiana vote counted, the margin now is Hillary 54%, Obama 46% -- the exact margin I called in my predictions early this morning. But my friend, the Obama operative, says that the late returns will be stronger for Obama, so the margin is expected to narrow. MSNBC says the state is still too close to call.

Here's a photo of Dana Stewart, an enthusiastic Obama supporter, doing a "honk-and-wave" on Queen Street in Martinsburg:

7:35: A passerby just stopped by the front door of Obama HQ (where I'm liveblogging the results tonight) and asked about the election returns. Told that Obama had just been called the N.C. primary winner, the man said, "All right! My man!" and then proceeded 0ut to the street corner: "Barack just won North Carolina!"

7:16: Michelle Malkin is bitterly blogging. Hot Air has got their bitter high-tech chat thing happening. Here in at Obama HQ in Martinsburg, W.Va., the bitterness is almost palpable. They've got a phone-bank going, watching the election returns while they flog the phones for Obama. Will get a photo up in a few minutes.

7:14: Now with 9% reporting in Indiana, it's Hillary 57%, Obama 43%.

7:12: Man, easy to see why the liberals rant against Chris Matthews. If you tune in to MSNBC for the oh-so-serious Olbermann, the chatty Matthews is an annoyance.

7:08: Now it's John Kerry spinning for Obama -- mentioning "Operation Chaos"! Olbermann insinuates some sinister conspiracy; mentions Richard Mellon Scaife!

7:06: Terry McAuliffe -- wow, there's a guy I haven't seen much lately -- is on with Chris Matthews now. McAuliffe has nice teeth and a tan that looks like he's spent the past two weeks in Palm Beach. "We've got a long way to go in this process," he says, spinning the idea of 2,209 as the magic number.

7:03: "Too early to call" in Indiana, Chris Matthews says, with 4% reporting and Hillary ahead 59%-41%. Another 27 minutes before N.C. polls close.

6:55: Still no adequate explanation for the MSNBC early returns when polls haven't yet closed. Right now, Tom Daschle -- who's for Obama -- is on with Keith Olbermann, talking super-delegates. Olbermann, as usual, looks on the verge of erupting in fury. I don't know why.

6:50: Just set up Crisis '08 HQ at the offices of the Berkeley County (W.Va.) Democratic Party, where they've got got MSNBC on TV. For some reason, the network is already showing 3% of the vote counted in Indiana, with Hillary ahead 61% to 39%.

5:15: Just about to head out and caught a few minutes of Fox News coverage. Note to Megyn Kelly: Lose those Alan Colmes glasses. I know you're trying to be taken seriously -- not just another smokin' hot Fox blonde, and all that -- but you've gone too far with this Colmes look.

Speaking of serious, Fox just highlighted a report from the Wall Street Journal that Hillary Clinton's campaign is saying 2,209 is the magic number:
Clinton was also asked about the delegate count: Would the race against Sen. Barack Obama end when she or he gets 2,025 delegates – generally accepted as the total needed to secure the nomination — or 2,209 delegates, a number that includes delegates from Florida and Michigan? The Democratic National Committee has said it would not seat Florida and Michigan delegates since their states held early primaries in violation of party rules.
Clinton said she thought 2,209 was number needed to win. On Monday, Geoff Garin, her chief strategist had said on a conference call that 2,209 is “what we believe is the standard for deciding this is that who has a majority of the total number of delegates,
including Michigan and Florida, that — to decide the nomination,” according to a transcript of the call.
For its part, the Obama camp is clearly focused on 2,025, and the campaign put out a press release Monday saying the Illinois senator needs 273 more delegates to reach that goal.
Another ear full of cider, you see.

4:25 p.M.: Just about to get in the shower (preparatory to my excursion to West By God Virginia) when I decided to check Memeorandum and saw this report from Indiana:
Amid heavy turnout, Republicans appeared to be crossing over in droves today in Marion County and suburban counties. . . .
Jim Adams, 36, voted for Hillary Clinton to keep the race going beyond Indiana. He's a McCain backer and enjoys watching the Democrats fight.
"In the end, I think McCain is going to win," Adams said, and then referred to controversial statements by Bill Clinton and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor. "Bill can't keep his mouth shut, and the reverend can't keep his mouth shut."
An "Operation Chaos" agent in action!

4 p.m.: While I dozed this morning, Team Clinton was lowering expectations in North Carolina, where my prediction of a 55-45 Obama win now looks safe. North Carolinian Bob Owen says it's just a question of how big Obama wins there. The margin in Indiana will be the main point of interest tonight. Michelle Malkin has a "primary countdown" thread going.

3:30 p.m.: Having spent two previous occasions covering Hillary's campaign, I decided it was time for some Hope and Change, so tonight Crisis '08 HQ will be in the Martinsburg, W.Va., offices of Sen. Barack Obama's campaign.

Just got off the phone with Brenda Robinson, who told me they'll be serving "pizza and everything" at their "Barack the Vote! Results Watching and Phone Banking Party."

I'll be liveblogging the results of the North Carolina and Indiana primaries in a few hours. In the meantime, you can check out my "polls and prediction" post, or see my latest post over at the American Spectator blog, where Philip Klein's latest article prompts my question:
On the other hand, are we so sure that a principled progressive like Obama would do the nation less harm than an unprincipled panderer like Hillary?
Expect updates . . .

Conservatives at war

Over at the American Spectator blog, I mention Bill Kauffman's upcoming appearance at Cato Institute to discuss his new book, Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism:
I just don't like the phrase "anti-war," for the simple reason that I don't think any sane person can be "pro-war," at least not in a general sense.
War is a dreadful thing to be avoided if possible, but it is not always possible to avoid it. . . .
Of course, most of Kauffman's readers are likely to see his new book through the prism of Iraq, an issue where I think the schism among conservatives is much deeper than has been generally recognized.
Not long ago, I was speaking to a conservative writer whose name you'd recognize and whom I'd thought to be a hawk on Iraq. I was surprised to hear him go on a tear again "neocons" and "nation-building."

My own view of Iraq is . . . well, nuanced.

To make a long story short, I'm the polar opposite of John Kerry: I was against the war before I was for it. I was unable to write about my view at the time because back then nobody was willing to publish any such arguments -- which at any rate would have been a firing offense for a news editor at The Washington Times. Yet witnesses will aver that in late 2002 and early 2003 I openly scoffed at the rationale for invading Iraq.

Still, my philosophy has always been, if you're in it, win it. Once the bombs start falling, the time for arguing is over, and the only acceptable conclusion is American victory. So it was, and is, with the war in Iraq.

Back in the '60s, the hippies liked to say there has never been a good war or a bad peace. In my view, there has never been a good defeat or a bad victory. No honorable man can wish to see his own nation beaten and humiliated in war, to see his nation's soldiers retreat with the colors furled, to see heroes shamed and the graves of their comrades dishonored by a cowardly capitulation.

My family has a long tradition of military service, and my father's World War II medals -- including the Purple Heart, for a shrapnel wound that nearly killed him -- are framed and displayed in a place of honor in my home. The Vietnam War was first "escalated" when I was in kindergarten. The last U.S. troops were withdrawn when I was in eighth grade, and Saigon fell when I was a sophomore at Douglas County High School. My uncle fought in Vietnam, as did other relatives, friends and neighbors, men I knew and admired. This was a formative influence of my youth.

War is always a risky endeavor; there are no "easy" wars, because men are killed even in the swiftest and most decisive victory. The decision to go to war always means the certainty of death, and the possibility of disaster. Yet there can be no turning back, and while matters of policy regarding the war's prosecution -- its means and its objectives -- are always a fit topic for debate, it is not "patriotic dissent" to advocate defeat.

No nation ever benefitted from its own defeat in war. To advocate defeat is therefore to wish harm on one's nation. Defeatism may not be treason, but it is surely not patriotism.

Nuanced, like I said. Now, let's win this stupid war!

Combat dispatch from the Gonzo front

Shawn Macomber apparently noticed I used a Hunter S. Thompson quote in a recent article, and responded to an earlier blog post with this comment:
I never wanted war, Mr. McCain, I just wanted to offer a credible threat that would allow UN inspectors more time to examine your bookshelves and resolve this Gonzo crisis peacefully.
The Mother of All Taunts! If Macomber keeps this up, he's going to find himself in a quagmire with no exit strategy because -- trust me -- I need another excuse to go Gonzo. I need it bad. I need it like Ed Muskie needs more Ibogaine.

Tuesday: Polls & Predictions

Latest polls, discussion, predictions and predicted MSM spin.


Insider Advantage (May 4)
  • Clinton 48%
  • Obama 44%
Survey USA (May 2-4)
  • Clinton 54%
  • Obama 42%
Zogby (May 3-4)
  • Obama 44%
  • Clinton 42%
DISCUSSION: RCP lists all polls, including the partisan PPP poll and the obscure Suffolk poll, but I stick to name-brand outfits. As you can see, the three most recent mainstream polls for Indiana are pointing in three different directions.

Without knowing any specific of Survey USA's methodology, I suspect their anomalous 12-point edge for Hillary is the result of pushing "leaners." They're the only major polling company that has ever shown a double-digit for Hillary in Indiana. Meanwhile, Zogby's the only major pollster showing Obama ahead in the past two weeks.

Neither of those two outcomes -- a double-digit Hillary win or an Obama victory -- seems likely in Indiana. However, it is an open primary, and Republican crossover votes would break for Hillary. Based on the "Operation Chaos" factor, then . . .

Clinton 54%
Obama 46%


SURVEY USA (May 2-4)
  • Obama 50%
  • Clinton 45%
  • Obama 48%
  • Clinton 45%
ZOGBY (May 3-4)
  • Obama 48%
  • Clinton 40%
DISCUSSION: For several days, people have been asking me if there is a chance Hillary could pull off an upset victory in North Carolina. Never say never, but the chances of such a stunning result are remote.

Look at the RCP poll list and you'll see that only once since February has any poll shown Hillary ahead in Carolina. That was an Insider Advantage poll taken April 29 -- a week after Hillary's Pennsylvania win, and immediately after Jeremiah Wright's media tour, and thus at ebb tide for Obama. Even that poll only showed her ahead 44%-42%, which is to say she had a 2-point margin and was nowhere near 50%. Since then, the same polling company shows Obama's gained 6 points and Hillary's gained 1, meaning the undecideds now seem to be breaking toward Obama.

Unlike Indiana, North Carolina is a closed primary, and the last day to change party registration was April 11, so there's lot less chance of "Operation Chaos" playing a role here.

Now let's talk about what the MSM will obsess over in reporting Tuesday's North Carolina primary results, namely race. According to CNN exit polls, in 2004, 73% of whites in North Carolina voted for Bush; 85% of blacks voted for Kerry. It is estimated that blacks constitute 40% of registered Democrats in North Carolina. And let's face it, if you're a white Democrat in North Carolina -- that is, if you're registered with the Harvey Gantt party -- it's unlikely you've got racial issues.

Based on those factors . . .

Obama 55%
Clinton 45%

So, I'm picking Hillary to slightly outperform the polls in Indiana, while Obama significantly outperforms the polls in North Carolina.

Either prediction may be wrong, of course, and I don't have a crystal ball. But if the results are in line with what I'm predicting -- if Obama's margin of victory in N.C. is bigger than Hillary's margin of victory in Indiana -- then you'll see the network commentators talking delegates, delegates, delegates. The reason? North Carolina has 134 delegates and Indiana has 84, therefore a big Obama win in N.C. would have much more impact on the delegate count.

What if Hillary comes on stronger than expected in both states? Suppose that Hillary hits a double-digit win in Indiana and keeps it close in North Carolina. Then the MSM talking heads will be all about "electability": Does this result show that Obama was critically damaged by the Wright controversy?

Now, what if Obama exceeds expectations in both states? If he keeps it close in Indiana and really scores a blowout in Carolina -- getting 56% or more -- then it's going to be Hillary Death Watch on the networks. Those pundits will be driving nails in her coffin so fast it'll sound like a hammering contest.

I'll be live-blogging Tuesday night's results, perhaps moving Crisis '08 headquarters a remote location to be divulged later. So be sure to come back and laugh at me when my predictions turn out to be completely wrong, as they almost invariably are.

Apology to a Bay-area 'Iron Man' fan

Monday morning, I appeared as a guest on San Francisco's KSFO with Brian Sussman, to discuss the problems afflicting the Obama campaign. While I was on hold waiting for the segment to begin, there was a news report about the huge weekend box office for "Iron Man," starring Robert Downey Jr.

Morning talk-radio is usually lighthearted -- kind of a "zoo crew" scene -- and whenever I'm on a morning show, I try to get in the spirit of things, so Monday I added a little topical humor. The hosts enjoyed it, kept me on for an extra segment, and said they'd love to have me back soon.

Then last night, I get this e-mail:
Dear Mr. McCain,
I was listening to your interview with Brian Sussman and Officer Vic on KSFO Radio on the morning of May 5, 2008. You started off the interview by responding to Vic's news report about the "Iron Man" movie starring Robert Downey, Jr. making over $100 million on its opening weekend by saying something along the lines of "Maybe with all that money, Robert Downey, Jr. can buy some more blow!"
I became deeply offended by that particular comment about Mr. Downey. It was a needlessly mean-spirited, immature, and ignorant comment to make about one's past personal problems. I'm not here to rationalizes or make excuses for Robert Downey, Jr.'s past drug problems. What I will say is that the fact that he has been able to go from the personal depths that he went to now, starring in a smash hit blockbuster about a comic book icon like Iron Man should be commended, not ridiculed.
It just wasn't the appropriate context to be making tasteless cocaine jokes when discussing the weekend box office results. When will people first be judged by their success than their personal problems. And God forbid, you're not the only person in the world who doesn't have your own demons.
Let me begin by saying that I mean no offense to "Iron Man" fans. People say it's a great movie (3-and-a-half stars from Ace) and I'm actually delighted to see Robert Downey Jr. make such a strong comeback. He's a talented actor, and I remember his work all the way back to his Brat Pack days in "Weird Science" (I'm a big fan of of Brat Pack movies.) All that said . . .

For crying out loud, man, if I can't make a joke about Robert Downey Jr. and cocaine, what can I make a joke about?

The dude's been in rehab more times than Charlie Sheen's been with hookers. OK, that's an exaggeration. Nobody's done anything more than Charlie Sheen's been with hookers. But still, my point is, the faults and foibles of celebrities have always been fair game for humor.

When I was a kid, I remember watching Don Rickles busting drunk jokes on Dean Martin and Ed McMahon, just like he did mobster jokes about Frank Sinatra and ex-wife jokes about Johnny Carson. It's a shtick.

Is cocaine addiction somehow sacrosanct? Why? Because coke is a favorite indulgence of the rich and famous? Robin Williams (who certainly did his share of toot) once famously observed that coke is God's way of telling you you've got too much money. Just imagine the fortune that Robert Downey Jr. snorted up back in the '80s and '90s! (In addition to coke, he's also been busted with marijuana, heroin and various pills over the years.)

Every late-night comedian in the country tells drug jokes about Robert Downey Jr., simply because he's quite possibly the most notorious dope addict in the world. If Cheech and Chong ever reunite, they could do a whole album on the dude.

Yet I somehow crossed a line by joking that the huge box office of "Iron Man" might finance another excursion to the Bolivian snowfields for Downey? Such a joke is "needlessly mean-spirited, immature, and ignorant"? As to my own "demons," I was a teenage dopehead until, at the age of 19, I had a severe hallucinogenic experience involving cocaine and psilocybin. (Just say no, kids.)

Well, OK, I had bad drug experiences, and gave up dope. Downey had bad drug experiences, and kept doing dope. So why didn't I spend two decades feeding a coke habit and popping in and out of rehab umpteen times like Downey? Because I couldn't afford it, that's why!

What you're doing, in telling me I can't crack a joke about Downey's coke habit, is telling me that he's off-limits because he's rich. Well, screw that. There are too many people truly deserving of my sympathy for me to waste any sympathy on a rich Hollywood pretty boy who's so stupid that he lost Sarah Jessica Parker over his dope habit.

There are guys at Walter Reed who got their legs blown off in Iraq. There are abused women worried sick that their violent ex-boyfriend's going to break the restraining order and come kill them. And don't even get started on the millions and millions of people living in parts of the Third World so poor they don't even have clean water, much less medicine or proper nutrition. (Fact: The average life expectancy in Botswana is 34.)

There are people genuinely suffering in this world, and Robert Downey Jr. is not one of them. So get off my back about a silly joke. If you don't have a sense of humor, that's not my problem. Besides which, most dopeheads are on self-pity trips anyway. Being sensitive toward their "personal problems" is the exact opposite of what a dopehead needs.

Excuse me for being so unapologetic, but this ain't 17th-century France, and a guy like me doesn't have to kowtow to a guy like Robert Downey Jr. just because he's a movie star. I routinely crack jokes on senators and presidents, and if Downey thinks he's better than Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton or Larry Craig, he's got another think coming. (On second thought, I take back the part about Ted Kennedy. Downey has never driven off a bridge and beat the rap for vehicular homicide, so he is better than Ted Kennedy. But that's not saying much.)

Now that I've gotten myself into such an ill mood, I need to get some sleep to be ready for the Tuesday primary results. Here's some cool dopehead music for you in the meantime: