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Monday, February 25, 2008

# Posted 3:41 PM by Patrick Porter  

STRANGELY COY: There are times when anything less than a denial is suspicious.

The notorious Drudge report was apparently handed a photo of Senator Barak Obama
wearing a white turban and a white robe presented to him by elders in the north-east of the country.'

According to the Drudge Report, which published the photograph on Monday, it was circulated by "Clinton staffers".

But while rebuking the suggestion that the photo has been circulated to attack Obama, Clinton's campaign manager
did not address the question of whether staffers circulated the photo.

Well why not? If the suggestion that it came from a Clinton staffer is false, why not just deny it?
Especially when Hillary has been invoking the dreaded name of Karl Rove to denounce Obama lately.
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Thursday, February 21, 2008

# Posted 6:04 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

McCAIN '08 DARES THE NY TIMES TO DEFEND ITS WORK: McCain rep Patrick Hynes has a issued a direct challenge to the Paper of Record. He writes:
At 6:51 AM this morning, I e-mailed Jim Rutenberg– whom I know and have interacted with in the past–to invite him onto my radio program “Meet the New Press” on Saturday morning to discuss the sourcing of his New York Times hit piece on my client John McCain.

At 7:24 AM Rutenberg declined my invitation in an e-mail and indicated—without my even asking—that no one else at the Times was likely to come on, either.

It seems very odd to me that after having “broken” (broken, indeed) a big story about a major national figure, a story that is capable of impacting the 2008 presidential election, no one at the Times has any interest in discussing the story any further, especially considering so many have expressed such deep skepticism about its sourcing and the value of its content.

Let this blog post stand as an open invitation to any and all reporters and editors at the Times: If anyone there has any interest in defending the paper’s integrity and answering the many questions readers have about its sourcing, I have an open microphone for two hours on Saturday morning.

You can e-mail me at: patjhynes-AT-msn.com
In McCain camp vows to "go to war" with NYT, Politico reports that the Times isn't talking to the media, either. Sometimes, it's acceptable for politicians not to comment about something in the press. But how can a journalist possibly insist that they shouldn't have to answer questions about a story? I thought reporters had nothing to hide and that their only interest was the public good.

Although Politico reported that Bill Keller had no comment, the Times' top dog later did later issue the following statetment:
"On the substance, we think the story speaks for itself. On the timing, our policy is, we publish stories when they are ready.

'Ready' means the facts have been nailed down to our satisfaction, the subjects have all been given a full and fair chance to respond, and the reporting has been written up with all the proper context and caveats.

This story was no exception. It was a long time in the works. It reached my desk late Tuesday afternoon. After a final edit and a routine check by our lawyers, we published it."
But if Politico and The New Republic have their facts right, Keller is bending the truth at best, or even lying. Perhaps he should talk to his predecessor, Howell Raines, about credibility issues...

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# Posted 5:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

NY TIMES 2008 = DAN RATHER 2004? The most interesting thing about this quasi-scandal is how reluctant liberals are to side with the Times. Matt Yglesias says that:
"...thinking more clearly past my loathing of John McCain, the Times's effort to substitute innuendo for making a straightforward true or false assertion is seems like a pretty shameful attempt to set up a Kaus-like presumption of guilt. If they have reporting they're willing to stand behind of a McCain-Iseman affair, they should publish it. And if, as seems to be the case, they don't have the reporting, then they shouldn't write the story.
If Matt had his druthers, the Times would drop the pseudo-sex scandal and focus on McCain relationship with Ms. Iseman client, Paxson Communications. According to Matt, no laws were broken, but McCain is a hypocrite who sells his votes to lobbyists while denouncing others for doing the same.

Do I buy it? My hunch is no, but I never heard of Paxson Communications until this morning, so I can't exactly say just yet that Matt's anti-McCain prejudice is getting the best of his judgment.

Over at Washington Monthly, Kevin is offering a round-up of opinions rather than one of his own. Since Kevin is all about evidence, I figure he would say somethin in defense of the Times if there much evidence in their article, but so far Kevin just has questions. The one point on which Kevin seems to think there is evidence is that the Times only printed the story to prevent The New Republic from printing it first. Funny how the Times never bother to report that story, even though it went ahead with its attack on McCain.

Kevin also links to a post by Josh Marshall, in which Josh expresses his confidence that the NY Times knows what its doing, even though at the moment there is negligible evidence to support its case. Josh's instinct tells him that:
I find it very difficult to believe that the Times would have put their chin so far out on this story if they didn't know a lot more than they felt they could put in the article, at least on the first go. But in a decade of doing this, I've learned not to give any benefits of the doubt, even to the most esteemed institutions.

Equally telling, though, is the McCain camp's response and their clear unwillingness to address or deny any the key charges of the piece. (Read the statement closely. It's all bluster.)
I'm not sure about that interpretation of the McCain response, but I was quite interested by the opening lines of Josh's post, in which he writes:
This afternoon, before the Times story came out, I was working on a post about national political reporters' tendency not to give much of any scrutiny to various McCain flipflops, contradictions and bamboozlements. Obviously, the terrain has changed a bit since I started writing that one...
Well isn't that an understatement. In addition to Josh, Matt Yglesias has been working to build the meme that the press is soft on McCain. Now, I've never doubted that the press was relatively soft on McCain compared to his GOP rivals, but that's not exactly surprise. But I think it was fairly predictable that the media was going to change it's tune once McCain went from maverick to GOP candidate.

For some actual enthusiasm about the Times' efforts, the place to head is the Daily Kos. DemFromCT thinks the current meta-scandal will sow further division within a GOP that is already unhappy with its candidate. In contrast, Kagro X mocks conservative pundits for their rush to unify behind McCain and attack the Times. Kagro's lists of targets includes McCain-bashers such as Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham, so I guess DemFromCT was a little off the mark. Interestingly Kagro doesn't actually defend the Times' journalism. He just accuses the GOP of rushing to approve equally poor work that targets Democrats.

Politics is full of surprises, so I won't be placing any bets on how all of this turns out. But if liberal reactions are anything to go on, McCain may be the winner yet again -- and no longer have to worry about conservatives who once dismissed him as a darling of the liberal media.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

# Posted 10:40 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

RUN, HUCK, RUN: I'm not the first to say it, but McCain supporters tend to look kindly on those who refuse to give up in the face of very long odds. Huck is keeping it positive, so he deserves the chance to run until the race is a hundred percent over. Until then, keep in mind the words of Han Solo: "Never tell me the odds."

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Monday, February 11, 2008

# Posted 8:00 AM by Taylor Owen  

SO...WHICH STATES COUNT?: Yglesias, on the fuzzy math:
Back in October 2007, Clinton was beating Obama in Maine by a hilarious 47 to 10 margin, but it seems he's carried the state today, once again by a large margin. My understanding, though, is that this doesn't really count because it's a small state, much as Utah doesn't count because there aren't many Democrats there, DC doesn't count because there are too many black people, Washington doesn't count because it's a caucus, Illinois doesn't count because Obama represents it in the Senate even though Hillary was born there, Hawaii won't count because Obama was born there. I'm not sure why Delaware and Connecticut don't count, but they definitely don't...I forgot about Missouri. Obama's win in Missouri, of course, doesn't count because the state was called too late.
Well, I suppose at least they are counting all the votes...
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Sunday, February 10, 2008

# Posted 5:37 PM by Taylor Owen  

THIS AND THAT, CLINTON AND OBAMA:

1. The rhetoric versus substance argument between Clinton and Obama is starting to wear thin. It simply isn't the case that she has a more developed policy platform. He just choses not to talk policy as much as she does on the stump. They both play to their strengths. I do tend to lean more to his policies than hers, particularly on foreign policy, and on many issues, they are simply so similar that it is irrelevant. On others, I don't know enough to judge. But I find myself more willing to trust him, and the people around him, than her. I do know, however, that he looks at policy through a lens that I am sympathetic to. In the end, this is what choosing a political leader is about.

2. People often conflate Obama's talk about, and display of, a new tone, with an over-reliance on rhetoric. The two are very different. In Audacity of Hope, he goes to great lengths to explain how he strives to bring a new tone to politics. One that doesn't demonize either the left or the right, points out the absurdities and inaccuracies on both, and moves forward a pragmatic progressive platform. He is also very clear on his plan to use a new coalition, rather than a base mobilization, to enable policy. A coalition that requires not just new policies, but a new vocabulary and style. These are not superficial, and cannot be written off as mere rhetorical excess. Maybe I'm delusional, see point 4, but I think he can pull this off. What's more, the brand of progressivism that he depicts, in his writing and in his policy positions, is one that I think is far better suited to the moment than Hillary's rehashing of 90's dynastic feuds.

3. A lot of people like Hillary because they want to pick a fight with the right. I get it. How sweet would it be, they argue, if the right was penalized for Bush with what they hate the most, a Clinton! The problem is, I am not convinced this will work this election. People aren't mad at Bush like they were in 2004, they are simply sick of him. They are tired of the acrimony on both sides, and want something new. Not just a change from Bush, but a change from the divisive ideological battles of the past 20 years. If Clinton wanted to pick a fight with the right, she should have ran in 2004. She missed her chance, and her moment.

4. I'm well aware that I am becoming a bit of a broken record on Obama. I tend to be a bit of a sap about these sorts of things. There is certainly a derangement that takes over when one gets absorbed in a certain type of politics. Joel Stein nailed it perfectly a few days ago, when in response to a Hillary supporting Obamamania-naysayer (boo) he stated:
Thing is, I've watched too many movies and read too many novels; I can't root against a person who believes he can change the world. The best we Obamaphiles can do is to refrain from embarrassing ourselves. And I do believe that we can resist making more "We Are the World"-type videos. We can resist crying jags. We can resist, in every dinner argument and every e-mail, the word "inspiration." Yes, we can.
yes i can...

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

# Posted 4:07 PM by Patrick Porter  

STABBING IN THE BACK: As Mitt Romney withdrew from the campaign, he announced that 'frankly in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.'

So if you don't agree with Romney on Iraq and terrorism, you are in favour of surrendering to terror. How easily a commitment to national defence can degenerate into shrill accusations against other people's patriotism.

Hopefully in the rest of the campaign, John McCain stands above the urge to question his opponents' patriotism. And hopefully his critics don't indulge in similar rhetoric.
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Monday, February 04, 2008

# Posted 7:15 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

NY GIANTS=JOHN McCAIN. (Except that John McCain is naturally inclined to slay giants and side with patriots.)

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# Posted 3:45 AM by Patrick Porter  

POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT THEORY: For the past decade or so, I've had a little theory about Primary contests in the US.

It seems that the political establishment of both parties has great resilience, more than is often assumed. It can mobilise money, people, contacts, rumours, and primal fear better than even the most exciting challengers.

Of course, this 'establishment' concept is relative rather than absolute - most folk who become serious candidates for the presidency have serious money, influence and elite interest behind them somewhere in the background. But some are more establishment than others.

So in 2000, Bush junior crushed 'maverick' McCain in 2000 after a promising initial campaign, while Al Gore hammered Bill Bradley. In 2004, a patrician John Kerry overcame Howard Dean.

In 2008, it seemed that Hillary Clinton almost had the nomination by birthright, by dynastic association and by her core place in American public life. It seemed that she would dominate against John Edwards the populist anti-poverty campaigner and Barak Obama, the charismatic candidate branding himself explicitly as an outsider against the defunct Washington status quo.

For a while there, it seemed that this theory would be vindicated. But now it is no so clear. Partly as a result of the missteps of the Clintons, partly because of the kind of momentum Taylor discusses below, and maybe because there is an anti-dynastic sentiment coming to life in this campaign.

The Republicans, for the first time in years, don't have a clear establishment candidate, and it isn't even clear whether they have a homogeneous establishment. Their powerful backers are fractured between fiscal conservatives, small government libertarians and big-spending social engineers, between socially conservative evangelical Christians and socially progressive economic liberals.

After the implosion of Rudi Guliani's candidacy, and the strain of Romney and Huckabee trying to out-flank one another from the right, John McCain emerges as the one who can cobble together some kind of coalition.

Its hard to predict, but I suspect that if we wins the nomination, his fortunes will rise and fall with the success or failure of the 'surge.' He has criticised the Bush Administration's execution of policy, but identifies himself with the policy itself. He has lashed himself unambiguously to the war in Iraq. In this sense the nexus between foreign policy and domestic politics will be very tight, even if Iraq stabilises and recovers in 2008 and stays off the back page.

McCain has occasionally 'flip flopped' in the past. Most notably by courting the religious right that he once denounced. But overall, he seems the one Republican whose position on vital issues, from immigration to Iraq to electoral finance reform - is built on fundamental views and a bit of courage.

In a perfect world, I'd have McCain as President and a more untested but truly soaring Obama as Vice President. Oh well, can't have everything.
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Saturday, February 02, 2008

# Posted 1:25 PM by Taylor Owen  

SHE IS NOT THE ONE: In a sense you have to sympathize with Hillary. She was supposed to be the one who inspired the enthusiasm of Bill's initial run. She was supposed to be the one who brought in the desired change away from the Bush years. She was supposed to be the one that the left rallied around. She was supposed to be the one that a new generation got excited about. She was supposed to be the one that made history. She was supposed to be the one that became a movement. She was supposed to be the one.

In almost any other election, she may very well have been.

The only problem, of course, is that this came along:



I suppose it's impossible to predict when a political campaign will/has become a movement. It certainly has that feeling now though, and they must know that this is what they are fighting against. Regardless, it can't be easy realizing that you may be on the wrong side of history, but increasingly you just get the feeling that the Clintons are getting in the way...

UPDATE: The Youtube seems to be down. The video is here though.

OK: Embed should be working again...

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