Author's posts

You Want An Issues Campaign? Then Condemn Personal Attacks

Meteor Blades comments in response to my post on Edwards:

In my view, Armando will probably disagree, the shifting about of the poll numbers has nothing to do with THE ISSUES that we all want the focus to be on, it has to do with the personalities, exactly what we DON’T WANT. One sentence pounced on by one chorus of boos turns around the megamedia narrative – even when the candidate’s narrative has not budged. Senator Clinton “stumbled” and was losing it before the last debate was the narrative, coupled with the “the boys ganged up on her.” After Las Vegas – the 13th debate in this interminable pre-game action – she’s on top again. Why? Because she’s changed on the issues? And Edwards is now the blackheart? Why? Because he changed on the issues?

Like everyone who has dealt with him, my respect and affection for MB knows no bounds. But you gotta be kidding me. Unless questioning someone’s honesty and integrity is now not a personal attack, how can anyone seriously say Edwards is not engaged in GOP style character attacks on Clinton? Parsing, corrupt, corporate Dems, etc. This is what Edwards has treated us to now for a month. Frankly, it is simply ridiculous to deny the obvious.

And it should ALSO be obvious that it is not Clinton who is avoiding a debate on the issues at this point – it is Edwards.

If issues were at the heart of the attacks on Hillary Clinton, how can you explain attacking her for NOT buying into the GOP frame on Social Security? Are the blogs REALLY supporting the Edwards and Obama nonsense on this? Are they REALLY focused on the issue here? Hell no, they are not. They are focused on Hillary Hate.

If drivers licenses for undocumented aliens was an issue that people cared about, would they have joined the MSM/GOP style attacks on Clinton’s answer? Would Edwards’ base flip flop on the issue have been given a free pass? If straight talk was the standard, would everyone have given a pass to Obama’s awful answer? To Edwards’ utter double talk on the issue? Hell no.

If issues do not resonate for Edwards, does that excuse personal attacks? Only if you are an Edwards fan or a Hillary Hater in my estimation. Just consider this:

While Clinton leads the pack on key issues such as health care, the war in Iraq and the economy, she stumbles on what seems to have solidified as her achilles heel in the race. But she placed fourth, behind Obama, Edwards and Richardson, when Democrats ranked the candidates they considered most honest and trustworthy. Obama topped that category with 27 percent, while Edwards followed with 18 percent; Richardson, 14; and Clinton, 13.

Excuse me Meteor Blades, if you want a campaign on the issues, then you best demand it from all the candidates, but especially from the Hillary challengers.  Excusing Edwards’ despicable campaign of personal attacks does NOTHING to promote issues. It is why he is easily my least favorite candidate in the race right now.  

Why Edwards Is In Trouble In Iowa

Yesterday, I wrote about John Edwards' slippage in Iowa. Normally, I do not take great stock in polls this far out (yes, it is still too far out to take polls too seriously), especially the famously difficult to poll Iowa Caucus. My reasons for thinking the latest Iowa poll was not so much the numbers, as the fact that Edwards has dropped while Obama has risen since the end of July. Edwards now lacks a POSITIVE narrative for his candidacy for the critical last phases of the campaign. He has become the “attack Hillary” candidate (as opposed to being the Not Hillary candidate, the position he has now ceded without a shot to Barack Obama.)

At MYDD, Jerome Armstrong sees it differently:

Chiming in, it's great that the pollsters are now adding whether the voters attended the 2004 caucuses or not . . . I would tend to bank more on those that caucused in '04 . . .

With due respect to Jerome, I think he misses a very important point here, on the night of the caucus, the differences between previous caucus goers and first timers is simply not that great – both in choices and participation. For example, in 2004, the entrance polling showed:

Kerry won the initial preference of first-time caucus-goers, while Edwards and Dean roughly tied for second in this group. (First-timers made up 55 percent of participants, up from 46 percent in 2000.) . . .

Here's my point, the John Edwards campaign is looking more and more like the Gephardt campaign of 2004. He is supposed to have union support,  experienced caucus goers, etc. He has gone strongly negative against the perceived frontrunner. He is not a new face for Iowa, thus the change argument is difficult for him in terms of actually being a new candidate.

Most importantly, in my opinion, his dominant narrative now is one of a candidate whose campaign is dominated by personal attacks against the perceived frontrunner. Like Gephardt.

Unlike Kerry in 2004, or Edwards 2004 for that matter, there is no positive narrative for the Edwards campaign now. There is no doubt he can hurt Hillary (or Obama if he chooses to shoot in that direction), but he now has reached the point where he can not help his own campaign.

And this campaign choice by Edwards is utterly perplexing. He was very viable in Iowa. He had a positive agenda. He was NOT in a two person race, the only ones where negative attacks can work (driving up your own negatives is a necessary part of a campaign of attacks, the hope is you drive up your opponents' negatives even further.)

I think it is clear now that the Presidential race is a two person race in that only two people can win now. I think Edwards can not. And he did it to himself. The most baffling campaign decision I can remember.

The Missed Opportunity

Some may not believe this, but I have been bending over backwards trying to become a solid supporter of Barack Obama. I really do believe he has a bundle of political talent and generally holds sound views on most issues. But as I have written since 2006, he has simply failed to be the type of Democratic politician we need in this political climate (See my many posts on Obama for more detail.)

Recognizing this problem, Matt Yglesias defends Obama:

I also think I should take my hat off to Hillary Clinton’s campaign — I think this has been less a failure on Obama’s part, then cleverness on Clinton’s. She’s managed to position herself on foreign policy issues in a way that signals her differences with Obama very clearly to the tiny community of specialists while completely blurring them to the broader audience of voters. I’m not sure how this can be overcome . .

I am sure how it can be done and should have been done for the past year at least – by leading on the issues NOW. As Markos writes:

I don’t know how many times I’ve written this, and maybe I’m just wasting my time, but rather than talk about leadership, Obama and Clinton could actually shows us what that leadership looks like by fighting to prevent the Senate from capitulating on Iraq.

Honestly, Yglesias, like too many Left wonks, has been oblivious to what Congress can do on Iraq. It is a terrible blind spot. For them, if it is not in a position paper, Foreign Affairs article or “big speech,” it as if it does not exist. Look at his lament:

I’m not sure how this can be overcome, but I’m sure it can’t be overcome by having writers further obscure the differences by focusing primarily on what a good job Clinton’s done of obscuring them.

The basic reality is that each and every time the candidates stake out a position on something, Clinton takes a less-liberal line. Then each and every time Obama starts getting traction with the argument that Clinton is too hawkish, she backtracks and makes the argument that there’s no real difference here. And it’s true that if you look at any one thing with a microscope, the “no difference” argument can be made to stick. But it’s the pattern that matters . . .

This is, in a word, absurd. There are no substantive differences on what to do NOW, despite attempts by Yglesias and others to pretend there are, among the Big 3. The only candidate who has made real differences on these big issues has been Chris Dodd – by leading NOW.

Unfortunately, Dodd just seems unable to get any traction. Partly because writers like Matt Yglesias pay no attention to what the Congress can do on Iraq. Maybe they would if OBAMA leads in the Senate NOW.

Ending The Iraq Debacle Is Up To the House

I have long said this. Today, I am proven right:

Senate Democrats appear ready to omit Iraq withdrawal timelines from a supplemental spending bill in hopes of clearing in December funds for the troops — but House leaders have no intentions of following suit.

Good for Speaker Pelosi and good for House Democrats. Now who do we have to worry about? The eternal capitulation leaders, Hoyer and Rahmbo. Watch out for them.

Battle Of The Forms

A provision of the UCC, as a point of illustration, not necessarily an expression of the governing law in this case (this is not a contract for goods):

Unless otherwise unambiguously indicated by the language of the offer or the circumstances:

An offer to make a contract invites acceptance in any manner and by any medium reasonable under the circumstances. . . .  a definite and seasonable expression of acceptance may . . . create a binding obligation . . .

It has been reported that T. Boone Pickens made this offer:

Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens' offer of $1 million to anyone who can disprove even a single charge of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Presuming Pickens did make such an offer to “anyone,” his response to John Kerry's acceptance of Pickens' offer seems at material variance to Pickens' original offer. You see, Pickens now is demanding:

Pickens wrote Friday in a letter faxed to Kerry, “I am certainly open to your challenge,” but he said he would not pay Kerry unless the senator first provided him with copies of his wartime journals, as well as movies he shot while on patrol and his complete military records for 1971 to 1978.

Obviously only John Kerry could provide such documents. But Pickens' offer was to “anyone.” I believe that Pickens has now made John Kerry a second offer for $1 million.

It would be interesting if Kerry also accepted Pickens' second offer. One would expect that Pickens will welch on that one too of course. But it would be fun to watch him squirm.

The Good Word From the Great Orange Satan

So I read this in Newsweek:

As much as Republicans and the media like to talk about the 60-vote threshold for any anti-war legislation, the fact is that if no legislation gets passed, there’s no money for war. A tough and principled Democratic caucus could force compromise on this legislation and, if none were forthcoming from the GOP, then see the war defunded by default. Either way, the public would cheer.

Looking for a angle to hate on the Great Orange Satan, I have come up with . . . plagiarism.

How Big A Loser Is Freddie Prinze, Jr.?

This big:

As a fifth anniversary gift to her husband, Freddie Prince, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar has changed her name to Sarah Michelle Prinze.

“On their anniversary, she showed [Freddie] her new driver’s license,” the source tells Us. “It was so sweet.”

. . . I’m always shocked when a famous woman changes her name to that of her less-famous husband. I mean, isn’t name recognition incredibly important? If I saw “Sarah Michelle Prinze” on a movie poster, I would just assume it was a newbie actress I’d never heard of. . . .

Prinze is, of course, a no talent loser who has done all he can to destroy Sarah Michelle Gellar’s career out of jealousy and spite.

NOTE: This is part of my continuing jihad against Freddie Prinze, Jr.

What Matters In the Iraq Funding Bill

I have not blogged on the passage in the House of an Iraq funding bill for one simple reason – the passage of the bill is irrelevant. The Senate won’t pass it and if it does, the President will veto it.

What passes is not what matters. What does NOT pass is what matters. NO FUNDING without timlines, without a date certain for ending the Debacle.

I am sort of frustrated that this simple point, made by me for quite a while now does not seem to sink in.

But one more time for posterity:

I ask for three things: First, announce NOW that the Democratic Congress will NOT fund the Iraq Debacle after a date certain. You pick the date. Whatever works politically. If October 2007 is the date Dems can agree to, then let it be then. If March 2008, then let that be the date; Second, spend the year reminding the President and the American People every day that Democrats will not fund the war past the date certain; Third, do NOT fund the Iraq Debacle PAST the date certain.

Obama Stands Tall On Drivers Licenses For Undocumented Aliens

This is a great and powerful moment for Senator Barack Obama:

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Il, is standing by his support for granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, even after Gov. Eliot Spitzer, D-NY, abandoned the proposal amidst rising political opposition.

“Obama said in the debate he supported it and he's standing by it,” an aide to the Senator told the Huffington Post. “He supported a similar bill in the state senate as a law enforcement measure.”

Obama's backing stands in stark contrast to the position taken by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, whose campaign now cites the issue as a basic policy difference between the two Democratic frontrunners.

This is Barack Obama's finest moment in this campaign. And Senator Hillary Clinton's lowest. This is certainly a contrast moment and is the strongest evidence to date of the differences the two would bring to leading the country. I have said that if I were to vote today, I would vote for Barack Obama. Prior to this, it would have been a reluctant vote in his favor. Now it would be a proud vote for Obama. This is the promise he has shown now manifested in REAL leadership.

A Tale of Two Strategies

What should the “Netroots” do with rerard to pressuring candidates and the Democratic Party? Booman endorses a “We Hate Hillary” strategy:

Why We Don’t Have Her Back

by BooMan

Tue Nov 13th, 2007 at 12:36:49 PM EST

For a Democratic presidential campaign to go into the general election without the Netroots is to fight with one hand behind your back. Yet, that is what the Clinton campaign intends to do. Their contempt for the progressive blogosphere is manifest and comes in comments from people as diverse as Al From and Paul Begala.

. . . You think the Netroots is going to go to war for you when you do this shit? After you basically called us all ‘assholes from Vermont’? No way.

But, if we bring up what a dishonest, loathsome campaign the Clintons are running, all of a sudden we are Hillary haters. That’s backwards. Hillary hates us. And she treats us with the same contempt that she treats those audiences to in Iowa. . . .

Um, ok. Nice to see how Booman’s “Netroots” has been getting all that love and respect from the other campaigns. As usual, it is all personality and “personal respect” for some of them. Me I want ISSUE respect. Respect my issues. Thus, on Obama, I wrote:

Now that Senator Barack Obama has regained his footing in the Presidential race, it is time for him to go for the win – by demonstrating leadership on the issues NOW! Obama has shrewdly allowed John Edwards to take the path of self immolating personal attacks on Clinton (now he won’t say he will support Hillary if she is the nominee, he is self destructing), while reaping the political benefits of those attacks. But Obama has a chance to do more now. He has a chance to define the terms of this contest. He can lead now on the issues. Particularly ending the war in Iraq by not funding it.

Unlike Booman, I do not care if he and his buddies get “respect.” I care about the issues I care about. Booman’s is the path to irrelevance, unless you want to be a “player.” Then it is a path to ridicule.

Generic Drug Bill Held Up

Disclosure: I have represented and represent both brand name and generic drug manufacturers. I know of no conflict with my representations and my position on this issue.

The problem with lobbyists is not with their lobbying, it is with our political system that lets our representatives get away with this type of behavior:

Legislation aimed at speeding the availability of cheaper generic drugs has stalled in Congress in the face of major lobbying by the drug industry. The Senate bill would ban most settlements known as “reverse payments,” in which a brand-name company pays a generic manufacturer to delay the introduction of the generic drug. The Federal Trade Commission, which has called on Congress to take action, says such settlements could cost American consumers billions of dollars.

. . . “Lobbyists have a lot of influence in Washington,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Herb Kohl, who chairs the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights. “If we can just get this to a vote, it will be pretty hard for people to vote against it. A vote against this is a vote against consumers.” . . .

It is important to understand that the need for such a law is due to some atrocious antitrust decisions by the Supreme Court. The issue is a bit complex, but the basics of it is that the Supreme Court has adopted the unproven thesis of conservative economists that intrabrand competition (between retailers of the same brand product) has no effects on market competition and that it is only interbrand competition (competition between differently branded products) that promotes competition. Anyone who has gone shopping at a Target, Wal-Mart, CostCo or Walgreens, knows this is a sham. But such is the effect of 7 Republican appointees to the Court. The antitrust laws have been gutted by the Court in the past 20 years.

To Be a Fighting Centrist

I am a Centrist. I believe the Democratic Party is a centrist Party. I wish the Democratic Party would fight for its centrist ideals. Like ending the the war in Iraq. Like not going to war in Iran. Like bringing balance to our tax system by reversing the extreme and radical Bush tax cuts. Like doing something about global warming. Like protecting equal rights for all Americans. Like protecting the right to choose. Like offering health care to all Americans. And so on. These Democratic principles stand in the center of American public opinion, held by a strong majority of Americans.

The Republican Party is an extreme party whose views are completely out of the mainstream of American thought. The views espoused by the GOP must be marginalized and beaten at every turn. It is because of this that I strongly dislike this view articulated by Sen. Hillary Clinton:

During this campaign, you're going to hear me talk a lot about the importance of balance,” she began, after acknowledging that the Bush Administration had gone too far toward deregulation in most areas. “You know, our politics can get a little imbalanced sometimes. We move off to the left or off to the right, but eventually we find our way back to the center because Americans are problem solvers. We are not ideologues. Most people are just looking for sensible, commonsense solutions.”

I think the views may be correct but it is poor politicking. Clinton needs to espouse her views on issues. Her problem solving views, not give silly buzzwords that implicitly relegate her Party to the extremes. It ignores that there is an extreme political party in the United States. The Republican Party. It ignores that there is a pragmatic, centrist problem solving party, the Democratic Party. This fight is not beyond politics. It is the CENTRAL political fight going on in this country. I wish Democrats, including Hillary Clinton would get that.

Load more