Why John McCain may not be able to spend any money on campaigning between now and September.
Not a great year for zingers and funny lines. Maybe they're considered to be 'old politics' ('Change you can Xerox', anyone?). Anyway, this will be updated as we go, should more be forthcoming. Here are my favourites so far:
1. Joe Biden: "There's only three things (Rudy Giuliani) mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb, and 9/11."
2. John McCain (on Hillary's support of a Woodstock Museum): "I wasn't there. I'm sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event. I was tied up at the time."
3. Mike Huckabee: "We've had a Congress that's spent money like John Edwards in a beauty shop."
4. John Edwards (after losing badly in Nevada): "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."
5. Mitt Romney compares the campaign debates to TV's Law And Order: "There's a huge cast. The series seems to go on forever. And Fred Thompson shows up at the end."
Barack and Hussein are Semitic words. Americans have been named with Semitic names since the founding of the Republic. Fourteen of our 43 presidents have had Semitic names (see below). And, American English contains many Arabic-derived words that we use every day and without which we would be much impoverished. America is a world civilization with a world heritage, something Cunninghamism will never understand.
Barack is a Semitic word meaning "to bless" as a verb or "blessing" as a noun. In its Hebrew form, barak, it is found all through the Bible. It first occurs in Genesis 1:22: "And God blessed (ḇāreḵə ) them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth."
From the spin room after the debate:
On the Clinton side, Mandy Grunwald said that between Obama's own spending and two unions spending on his behalf, Clinton is being outspent four-to-one in Ohio and between two-to-one and three-to-one in Texas.
"They're trying to crush us," she said.
There is a funny SNL skit that has been getting a lot of hits on youtube, satirising the media's crush on Obama. It shows Obama being fawned over by the moderators of a debate.
In last night's real-life debate Hillary Clinton referred to the sketch, in a fit of frustration at the moderators' perceived bias.
The moderators asked her the first question, traditionally a non-privilege accorded to the front-runner, which she is no longer. They seemed to ask her the toughest questions throughout. At one point, after giving Clinton a tough grilling over NAFTA, Brian Williams turned to Obama and asked, 'How were her comments about you unfair?" One can understand Clinton's annoyance with such stuff.
Clinton's evident frustration knocked her off her stride a bit. It put her in a bad mood, and of course it risks making her look like a sore loser. However, if her mention of the sketch means it gets replayed repeatedly on the TV in the next 24 hours, and that more people raise questions about the media's attitude to her and Obama, then this may turn out to be a good thing for her. The pro-Hillary media backlash begins here...?
From The Smoking Gun:
Meet Jose Antonio Ortiz. The Pennsylvania man allegedly stabbed his brother-in-law in the stomach after the pair quarreled about their respective support of Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. According to cops, Ortiz, 28, stabbed Sean Shurelds last Thursday night in the kitchen of an Upper Providence Township home. According to a criminal complaint, a copy of which you'll find here, the 41-year-old Shurelds, an Obama supporter, told Ortiz that the Illinois senator was "trashing" Clinton (apparently in regard to recent primary and caucus results). Ortiz, a Clinton supporter, replied that "Obama was not a realist."
Hat tip: AW
I liked this account of a Washington DC breakfast attended by the press corps and members of the Clinton team, including the Clintons' seasoned consigliere, Harold Ickes.
David Chalian of ABC News reminded Ickes that Obama's lead in delegates is now of the size Ickes had said would be "significant."
"As we all know in this city, I have a very short memory," Ickes answered.
Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic Party, is confident that a big fight at the convention can be avoided. If it isn't decided by the time Denver comes around, why the candidates will just have to sit down and come to a decision:
First, we let the voters have their say. Then the super delegates have their say. If that doesn't work, the three of us will sit down and work something out," the DNC Chairman said. "We can't go to Denver divided."
I love the idea of Clinton and Obama sitting around a table with Dean in the middle, Clinton saying, 'Look Barack, you should be the nominee. I really think you've earned this one.' Obama shaking his head 'No, no, no. I may have won more delegates but heck, it was close. You take it, Hills. I can always go next time around.'
Recently I got round to checking out the blog of Meghan McCain (daughter of John). She is traveling with her father on the campaign trail and posting about her experience.
I enjoyed it more than I expected. It's not a thinly-veiled exercise in campaign communication, as these things can be. In fact there's hardly any political stuff on it. It's just a very personal, day-to-day insight into what it's like to be on the trail, with cheeky shots of the candidate and his team at work and play. It captures the spirit of camaraderie in a tight team.
Ms McCain herself comes across as a mildly ditzy girl who, after Cyndi Lauper, just wants to have fun. You suspect that she and Chelsea Clinton would have little to say to each other. But she seems charmingly ingenuous and after spending a few minutes on the blog I rather liked her.
Halperin has an excellent post up listing the lines of attack that McCain might use against Obama in the general election, should Obama win the nomination. His premise is that there is plenty of ammunition available to McCain that Clinton couldn't use because she shares a party with Obama, and because the general electorate has different priorities and sensitivities than the Democratic electorate. In short, he can be a lot more ruthless.
If I had to predict the overall 'framing' that McCain's team will project on to Obama, it's that he's un-American - not one of us. There are two complementary lines of attack available here:
First, portray him as a liberal snob. Obama is vulnerable to being painted as a cosseted member of snooty elites (Harvard, Washington), who like to look down their noses at ordinary people, and don't love their country. Michelle Obama's unfortunate remark gave major impetus to such a characterisation. It worked against Kerry - who was a war hero - so it may well work against Obama. It depends, in my view, on whether there's a grain of truth to it. I think there was in Kerry's case: he really did seem a bit snooty and out of touch and rather too pleased with his own terribly refined sensibility. The same was true of Gore. It's difficult to tell if the Obamas have a trace of this smugness, but Michelle's remarks don't augur well.
(In fact this narrative is already taking hold)
Second, get dirty. The legitimate line of attack outlined above may be allied with the murky, under-the-radar stuff about Barack Hussein Obama/Muslim/Manchurian Candidate sent to destroy the United States of America...etc. I'm not suggesting that McCain's campaign will directly disseminate these rumours but they don't have to: surrogates, allies, and crazy people will do the job for them.
If those complementary lines of attack gain purchase and compound in the public's mind then they could create something quite poisonous for Obama.
Mr Nader has become a perennial of US elections. He ran in 2000 and 2004 as a third party candidate, and he's just announced he's running this year too. He claims there's a gap in the market for a candidate that wants to impeach Bush and supports a single-payer healthcare system (the NHS model).
Leaving aside the question of how the next president might impeach the one before, this is an announcement that will rile many Democrats. They hold Nader responsible for Bush's victory in 2000, because he took votes in Florida that would otherwise have gone to Gore. Perhaps there is a neat campaign slogan for Nader in there somewhere:
Ralph Nader: he gave you George Bush, and he can take him away.
I'd assumed all of Kenya would be willing their famous American son to win. Mama Sarah - Obama's step-grandmother - certainly is, as is all of Obama's extended family, some of whom may not actually be, you know, related to him. But Kenya, like America, has divided affections:
You might think that all Kenyans would be vigorously supporting Mr. Obama. But Kenya has been fractured along ethnic lines in the last two months, so now Mr. Obama draws frenzied support from the Luo ethnic group of his ancestors, while many members of the rival Kikuyu group fervently support Hillary Rodham Clinton.
There are few better ways to rally the conservative base than to get into a fight with the New York Times.
It was the the Times that picked it. They ran a story claiming that McCain had to be warned off his friendship with Vicki Iseman, a corporate lobbyist, by advisers who were worried it was about to damage his 2000 campaign for the Presidency. The heavy implication is that the two were having an affair. But it's the 'implication' bit which is the problem. By not having the nerve to make its allegation plain, the paper has exposed itself to criticism from all sides. The McCain camp has expressed outrage at a baseless 'smear'. Internal voices at the Times are furious at the editorial board's blunting of the story's point. Readers are revolting. The rest of the media are besides themselves with scorn and derision at the Old Gray Lady's pusillanimity.