Archive for: May, 2008

Rules Committee Votes Mean the Party is Now Obama’s

May 31 2008 Published by under Featured News

The Clintons blustered and bellowed, moaned and groaned, and cried all sorts of foul, but at the end of the day the DNC Rules Committee did not give them what they wanted. Their votes on Michigan and Florida showed that there is a new leader of the party, and his name is Barack Obama.

From the get-go it was unlikely that Hillary Clinton was going to get her way with the Rules Committee. She wanted all the delegates to be seated based on the results of the two primaries that were held in violation of Democratic Party rules. Clinton tried everything from threatening a bloody convention fight to claiming that voters in the two states were being disenfranchised.

In the end, none of it worked. Barack Obama will officially clinch the Democratic nomination sometime between Wednesday and Friday of next week, but history may show that the Hillary Clinton campaign ended today.

The Clinton favored proposal to seat the Florida delegates in full based on the results of the primary lost by a committee vote of 12-15. The Florida proposal that passed awarded Clinton 105 delegates to 67 for Obama, with each delegate getting half a vote at the convention. In Michigan, Clinton had insisted that she be given 72 delegates to 55 for Obama. The proposal passed by the committee by a vote of 19-8 awarded 69 delegates to Clinton and 59 to Obama, with each delegate receiving half a vote at the convention.

The total number of delegates needed for Obama to win the nomination is now 2,118. After picking up 32 delegates in Michigan and 36 in Florida, Obama now has 2,052 delegates and is 66 delegates short of the nomination.

There was a time only one short year ago when Hillary and Bill Clinton controlled the machinery of the Democratic Party. With three votes today, the DNC Rules Committee passed that control to Barack Obama and a new generation of Democrats. The era of the Clintons is over. Today, a new generation of leadership has taken over.

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Obama Leaves Trinity United Church of Christ

May 31 2008 Published by under Featured News

The Chicago Tribune website is reporting that Obama spokesperson Ben LaBolt confirmed that Obama is in essence resigning from the church after the latest controversy surrounding a video of Rev. Michael Pfleger mocking Hillary Clinton while he was speaking at Trinity United. The spokesman said that Obama has not attended the church since the Wright controversy erupted in mid-March.

Pfleger spoke recently at what is now Obama’s former church and said, “I really don’t believe it was a put-on. I always thought she felt ‘This is mine. I’m Bill’s wife. I’m white. And this is mine. I just got to get up and step into the plate,'” he said. “And then out of nowhere came, ‘Hey, I’m Barack Obama.’ And she said, ‘Oh damn, where did you come from? I’m white. I’m entitled. There’s a black man stealing my show.'”

I believe that there is a great deal of validity in what Pfleger said as far as Clinton’s attitude of entitlement towards the nomination. The way her campaign was run early on, with her playing the role of the de facto incumbent and about talking what she will do after she wins the nomination was meant to send the impression of inevitability, but it struck many as arrogant.

The problem is with Pfleger’s last statement. He interjected race into the discussion, and after the Wright fiasco Obama has been trying to avoid the kind of stereotyping that would label him as a radical black candidate.

Obama can’t afford another church based scandal, so resigning from the church was a necessity. In fact, he probably should have left the church after the Rev. Wright story broke. Obama doesn’t need the anchor of race based comments from the pulpit following him into the fall campaign.

You can read the Chicago Tribune story here

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How Michigan and Florida Screwed Themselves

May 31 2008 Published by under Featured News

Even though both Michigan and Florida screwed themselves, they are both appealing to the DNC Rules Committee to get their full delegations seated. There are three different questions being decided at today’s meeting.1). Should the delegates be seated? 2). How should the delegates be awarded to the candidates? 3). Will the popular vote count?

Florida seems like the easier of the two states to resolve. Florida’s argument is that the moving up of the primary date was done by the Republicans who control the state government who attached an amendment to an election reform bill that moved the state’s primary up ahead of the party specified date of February 5. Except for the Clinton speakers at the meeting who called for all of the delegates to be seated, most seem open to seating all of Florida’s delegation but giving them a half vote.

“We recognize, in fact, that Florida has violated that timing rule,” said Florida Democratic National Committee member Jon Ausman. He also said that some kind of punishment is “appropriate.” Florida will probably take their 50% sanction, but the question of the popular vote may not be decided by this committee. The popular vote is critical for Clinton who needs to be leading in some category to make the argument to the superdelegates that she should be the nominee. The Obama campaign is willing to go along with a plan that would allow Clinton to gain a net 16 delegates in Florida.

The more difficult dilemma is what to do with Michigan, where many of the candidates, including Barack Obama, took their names off the ballot. Michigan is proposing a 69-59 delegate split for Clinton. They calculated this number based on the results of their primary, the number of Democrats who voted uncommitted, and exit polls. The Rules Committee is skeptical about this recommendation to say the least. Sen. Carl Levin is speaking now, and he is calling for the state’s entire delegation to be seating with full voting rights.

Michigan has a Democratic governor, who signed off moving their primary up, so unlike Florida, they really have no excuse. I think that the committee will end up resolving this with a slight advantage for Clinton.

Michigan and Florida screwed themselves by gambling that Hillary Clinton would have the nomination wrapped up by Super Tuesday. It is ironic that if they just would have stuck with the original schedule, both states would have played critical roles in the primary, and had the eyes of the nation on them. It was simple ego on the part of each state’s politicians, and those egos should be punished.

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Obama and McCain Camps Spar Over Iraq Troop Levels Comment

May 30 2008 Published by under Featured News

Both the Obama and McCain camps are involved in heated exchange over whether or not John McCain intentionally distorted, or just didn’t know the troop levels in Iraq. The McCain camp’s defense seems to be to blame Obama, and say that he knew what McCain meant.

Here is the video of what McCain originally said:

His campaign put out a statement accusing Barack Obama of weak leadership, “Clearly John Kerry and Barack Obama have very little understanding of troop levels, but considering Barack Obama hasn’t been to Iraq in 873 days and has never had a one on one meeting with General Petraeus, it isn’t a surprise to anyone that he demonstrates weak leadership. What informed people understand, John McCain included, is that American troops are not even close to Surge levels.”

The Obama campaign responded by asking McCain to explain why he got the numbers wrong, “The McCain campaign still can’t explain why John McCain could be so clearly and factually wrong in stating that our troops are at ‘pre-surge’ levels. They are not, and anyone who wants to be Commander-in-Chief should know better before launching divisive political attacks. Once again, Senator McCain has shown that he is far more interested in stubbornly making the case for continuing a failed policy in Iraq than in getting the facts right.”

The McCain campaign is going to keep singing this song about Obama not going to Iraq, not only because it plays into their narrative that Obama is too inexperienced to be president, but also it allows McCain to make the case things are changing in Iraq. The problem is that the American people have been hearing about how things are getting better in Iraq for four years now.

2/3 of the American people oppose this war, so please McCain, keep trying to sell staying in Iraq. These factual errors are becoming more common on the campaign trail for McCain. This leads me to wonder if he is intentionally distorting the facts, or is he having senior moments?

Read more here

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Pros and Cons: Wesley Clark as Obama’s Running Mate

May 30 2008 Published by under Featured News

In this edition of Pros and Cons we take a look at Wesley Clark whose name often gets mentioned when the subject of Clinton supporters who could be Barack Obama’s running mate is discussed. We’ll take a look at who Wesley Clark is and what he might bring to the ticket.

Resume: Wesley Clark is a retired Army four star general who spent 34 years in the military. Clark is a graduate of West Point and a Rhodes Scholar. He rose to national prominence as Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 1997-2000. Clark was the commander of Operation Allied Force during the Kosovo war. Previously Clark was the Director, Strategic Plans and Policy on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1994-1996.
He was also a presidential candidate in 2004.

Clark currently runs a political action committee called wesPAC: Securing America that supports Democratic candidates. He campaigned heavily for Democratic candidates during the 2006 election. Clark has worked for all three cable news networks as a military analyst, and can be seen currently on MSNBC.

Pros to Selecting Clark : Clark is a Son of the South. (He was born in Chicago, but lives in Arkansas). He may be able to appeal to Southern white voters due to this and his national security credentials. Clark has been a highly visible supporter of Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primary campaign. He campaigned for her in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Ohio. He even appeared in a Clinton campaign commercial touting her experience. Clark is very popular with Clinton supporters, and would help ease their transition towards supporting Obama in the fall campaign.

Cons to Selecting Clark: In many ways Clark is a less experienced version of Jim Webb. He was at times painful to watch on the stump in 2004, and his knowledge of issues that aren’t military based is extremely limited. In 2004, Clark had a respectable finish in New Hampshire, and won Oklahoma, but he wasn’t able to do better than third in places like Tennessee and Virginia. For a Southerner, he seems to have very little southern appeal. If national security issues don’t dominate the fall campaign, Clark has little to offer the ticket.

Odds of Obama Selecting Clark: With each passing week, it is looking more and more like domestic issues are going to be the focus of the fall campaign. When the political scene was dominated by 9/11 and Iraq, Clark would have been a wise choice. However, Clark doesn’t seem to be the kind of running mate who will be out there with Obama talking about the economy in 2008. I have always thought that if Clark wants to be in national politics, he would be best served to run for Congress. He isn’t ready for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

The Choice-O-Meter Says:

OO (2 Os for Wesley Clark)

1 O= No Chance – 10 Os = A Sure Thing

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Two Texas Superdelegates Endorse Obama

May 30 2008 Published by under Featured News

This morning Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie and DNC member Betty Richie announced that they are endorsing Barack Obama for President. “Too many Texas families find themselves unable to make ends meet, much less save and invest in the future, due to Republican policies that burden the middle class and divide Americans,” Boyd Richie said.

He also discussed Obama’s work to help build the Texas Democratic Party, “I am also grateful for Senator Obama’s commitment to help build the Texas Democratic Party. Senator Obama and his campaign understand something that Texans have known for at least a couple of years – that when Democratic candidates invest the time and resources necessary, Texas Democrats have the numbers to compete and win across every region of our great state. We made progress in 2006, and in 2008, the Texas Democratic Party is more energized, better organized, and we are poised to make significant gains this fall.”

Betty Richie mentioned how she thought Obama was the best candidate to address the needs of rural Texans, “Under Senator Obama’s administration, there is no doubt the issues of concern to rural Texas will be put front and center. The futures of our families are far too important to leave in the hands of any Republican. It is time for a Democrat to put our country and our state back on the right track.”

The meeting of the party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee is really just a formality tomorrow. I suspect that after the last two primaries next week, no matter what the new number is to wrap up the nomination, the superdelegates will put Obama over the top. I think this is the first endorsement that talked about Obama and rural issues. This is something that the campaign needs to do more of if they are going to run strong in the swing states.

The voters will decide the election in places like Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio aren’t in the cities. They live in the small towns and rural areas. This is a group of voters that Obama needs to openly court. He is already poised to dominate the urban areas across the country, where he needs help is with small town America. Hopefully, his choice of running mate will help address this concern.

You can read the endorsements right here

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Obama Talks about Army Suicides

May 29 2008 Published by under Featured News

After the US Army announced today that the soldier suicide rate had reached an all time high in 2007, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said, “Today’s news is a tragic reminder of the staggering and ongoing costs of the Iraq war, particularly on our troops and their families. We are more than five years into this war, and the Pentagon and VA are still unprepared to treat the unseen wounds of battle.”

In 2007, 115 soldiers including 22 National Guard and Army Reserve troops killed themselves last year. This represents a 12.7% rise over the 2006 number of 102 suicides. Thirty two of the suicides occurred after President Bush implemented his troop surge strategy. Obama said that too many of the troops aren’t getting the support they need, “We know that incidence of psychological injury increase with each additional tour of duty in Iraq, and that our troops are not getting the support they need. Too many are falling through the cracks because they need help but feel they can’t get it.”

Army officials did say that the statistics do not show a relationship between repeated deployments and suicide, but is clear that there has been a culture at work in the Pentagon that down plays the significance of mental illness. Obama promised better care for the troops, “When I am President, we’ll hire more mental health professionals, increase training to recognize the signs and to reject the stigma of seeking care, and enhance mental health screening and treatment from enlistment, to deployment, to reentry into civilian life. It’s time to serve our troops as well as they have served us.”

As a nation we could be facing a future mental health crisis among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Because the administration and the military did their best to cover up this problem, we are already behind the curve. We should have had systems in place to treat mental illness before we ever went to war. Obama has it right. We are going to have to prepare for what might be lasting domestic legacy of Bush’s Iraq war, thousands of vets with some form of mental illness.

Obama’s statement:

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Five Governors Who Could Be Obama’s VP

May 29 2008 Published by under Featured News

Barack Obama has a wide range of Democrats to choose his running mate from. In recent years the Democratic Party has been able to elect 28 of the nation’s 50 governors. These state executives represent some of the party’s best talent. If Obama decides to add a governor to his ticket, here are five excellent choices.

1). Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) Bill Richardson is the governor of New Mexico and a former candidate for the 2008 Democratic nomination. He is a nationally known figure due to his time as UN Ambassador and Energy Secretary under the Clinton administration. He has been nominated for five Nobel Prizes for his diplomatic work. His foreign policy is completely opposite from the current administration. He would help Obama with Hispanic voters, but he also struggles with white voters in his own state.

2). Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) – Obama seems to be concentrating the early part of his general election campaign in the West, and the addition of the folksy rural Schweitzer would be the perfect complement to this strategy. Schweitzer became Montana’s first Democratic governor in 20 years. Before being elected he had held no other office. In the private sector, he was a farmer and a rancher who also visited 37 different countries while working on agriculture projects. He has been a job creator and a tax cutter in his state, and would have great appeal to the rural voters who have thus far tuned Obama out.

3).Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA) – If the Obama campaign is worried about their standing in the swing states, and wants to be certain that they Virginia into the Democratic column, then they should look no further than the popular Kaine. He was one of the first elected officials outside of Illinois to endorse Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination. The 50 year old has not been afraid to cut agency spending in his state, and is also a pro-life Democrat. He could provide Obama a bridge to the conservative white Southern Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton.

4). Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) – If Obama decides that he would like a woman with executive experience, who isn’t Hillary Clinton, to balance out his ticket, then Sebelius would be his best option. She is wildly popular in her state. (She has not had an approval rating under 60% in the last two plus years). She was chosen to give the Democratic response to President Bush’s 2008 State of the Union Address. This has led many to speculate that she is being groomed for bigger things. Sebelius has been clearly pro-choice, anti capital punishment, and opposed to laws that would allow citizens to carry concealed weapons or own machine guns. Her political positions are a compliment to Obama’s, and she would likely have broad appeal with women.

5). Ted Strickland (D-OH) Strickland continues the pattern of this feature. All of these governors are from swing or red states. His selection makes sense if the campaign decides that they need to add a Clinton supporter to the ticket. One of his priorities has been to bring jobs back to Ohio’s coal and energy industries. This is a message that would play well in places like West Virginia and Western PA. He made expanding educational opportunities and healthcare priorities on his agenda. If the race looks close, a Clinton supporter from a critical swing state could be very helpful.

Please, feel free to comment and add your own choices to the list.

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Poll: As a Running Mate Sebelius Does Not Help Obama in Kansas

May 29 2008 Published by under Featured News

A new Survey USA poll of the state of Kansas found that John McCain leads Obama 49%-39% in the state, and even if Obama chose Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as his running mate, John McCain would still be leading the state.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius currently enjoys a 62% approval rating in her state. She has not had an approval rating under 60% since April 2006, but when she is added to the ticket with Barack Obama, she does not help him at all in the state of Kansas. In a matchup of potential tickets, Obama/Sebelius trails McCain/Romney by 11 points. The Democrats also trail McCain/Huckabee by 7 points. They trail McCain/Lieberman by 4 points and McCain/Pawlenty by 4 points.

Sebelius does fare better in Kansas than any other Democratic possible ticket measured. Depending on the matchup, McCain and his running mate leads an Obama/Edwards combination by anywhere from 2-12 points. An Obama/Hegal ticket trails by 17-25 points, and an Obama/Rendell ticket trails by 17-24 points. Kansas is such a dark red state that even adding a popular incumbent Democratic governor to the ticket does not ensure that Obama won’t lose the state by double digits in November.

Sebelius is one of the rising national stars in the Democratic Party, but if she interested in being Barack Obama’s running mate, numbers such as in this poll, don’t do her any favors. Preferably, the Obama camp would ideally like to select a running mate who could tilt their state into the Democratic column this fall.

Sebelius may have broader appeal outside of the state of Kansas to voters in November, but if Obama selects an incumbent governor for a running mate, then he/she should be able to deliver their state. However, I believe that nothing short of selecting Jesus Christ himself as his running mate would convince the voters in the state of Kansas to vote Democratic this November.

Read the full poll results right here

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Pros and Cons: Chuck Hagel as Obama’s Running Mate

May 29 2008 Published by under Featured News

Would it be possible that Barack Obama would take his message of a new kind of politics as far as selecting a Republican as his running mate? In this edition of Pros and Cons, we take a look at Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and what he would bring to a potential ticket with Obama.

Resume: Chuck Hagel is currently the senior senator from Nebraska. Hagel has announced that he will retire at the end of his current term in 2009. He first won his Senate seat in 1996, and was reelected in 2002 by a margin of 82%-14%. In the Senate, he serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and the Select Committee on Intelligence among other assignments.

Hagel served in the military and saw action in Vietnam in 1967-1968. In the private sector, he made a fortune by co-founding Vanguard Cellular and has sat on the board of the American Red Cross and Bread for the World. He has been president of an investment banking firm, and owns an interest in a voting machine company, ES&S.

Pros to picking Hagel: Hagel is the most outspoken Republican critic of the Iraq war. He compared the Iraq war to Vietnam in 2005. He has had run ins with the administration warrantless wiretapping, and the Patriot Act. Hagel is a liberal Republican, who would help Obama with conservative Democrats, liberal Republicans, and Independents. He would also help in swing states with white voters. Perhaps most appealing, is the message that the selection of a career Republican would send to voters about Obama’s desire for a new kind of politics. By selecting Hagel, Obama would truly be reaching across party lines.

Cons to selecting Hagel: Hagel is still a Republican, and outside of the Iraq issue, has major differences with the Democratic Party. In recent years, Hagel has voted against expanding Children’s Health Insurance, for the extending the Bush tax cuts, a constitutional amendment banning flag burning, the oil company tax cuts and subsidies. Hagel has voted with his Party 78% of the time, which according to statistics kept by the Washington Post is only 3.3% below the Republican average.

Hagel’s policy differences with Democrats would cause a world of problems both in the general election campaign, and governing. He has shown no interest in leaving the Republican Party. Obama would also be setting up a Republican as his potential successor, and this prospect would be bound to raise the ire and anxiety of his fellow Democrats. The image of a Democrat and a Republican running together sounds much better in theory than it would work in practice.

Odds of Obama selecting Hagel: The odds of Obama selecting Hagel are not very high. There are too many policy differences between the two men. This does not mean that Hagel would not have a place in an Obama administration. His name is constantly mentioned as a candidate for Secretary of Defense. With his views and background, this would be a perfect role for Hagel in a Democratic administration, and Obama would still be able to stick to his promise of bringing a different kind of politics to Washington.

The Choice-O-Meter Says:

OO ( 2 O’s out of 10 for Chuck Hagel)

1 O= No Chance – 10 Os = A Sure Thing

One response so far

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