Thursday, February 14. 2008
A batch on electoral politics. (I hate it when that happens.)
Matt Taibbi: The Chicken Doves. I like his stuff, and his print-edition sidebar on Giuliani is as vicious as the G-Man deserves, but this piece on Reid, Pelosi, et al. is a bit pissy. It's not really true that the Democrats got a mandate in 2006 to end the war. Maybe they would have had they asked for one, but Chuck Shumer and Rahm Emmanuel campaigned for seats and if anything leaned against doves. I mean, if 2006 was so antiwar, how the hell did Joe Lieberman win? The result is that they don't have the votes to shut down war funding, nor do they want to act like Newt Gingrich and try to shut down all funding. I can't fault them for that, but I do agree that they've come up short, especially in terms of launching investigations into the most criminal, most corrupt administration in American history. Instead, they're investigating Roger Clemens? Even if he's an asshole Republican (which I don't know and frankly don't care one way or the other) there are a lot of folks who should be in line ahead of him. One helluva lot.
PS: One thing I was wondering about is whatever happened to the US Attorney purge scandal, but the House did vote today to hold Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers in contempt for their refusal to testify. That's something, although I doubt if we see them in jail any time soon.
Barbara Ehrenreich: Unstoppable Obama. As long as I can remember, change has been a cliché in politics, and rarely as enticing as it's assumed to be. Change, like Rumsfeld's "stuff," happens. The real political problem is usually figuring out how to ride it out. But Bush has trashed our world so thoroughly that almost any kind of change looks preferable. For the wonk set, Obama may be lacking in specifics, but on a superficial level it's hard to believe how lucky we are to have him: "As conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan has written, Obama's election could mean the re-branding of America. An anti-war black president with an Arab-sounding name: See, we're not so bad after all, world!" Another sample (emphasis original):
Paul Krugman: Hate Springs Eternal. Krugman's been sniping at Obama all year, usually over details of proposed policy that Obama has kept nebulous. That's usually been fair play because it lets Krugman keep pushing critical details. Here he trips up, charging that the Obama campaign is "dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality." I can't speak for Obama's supporters -- I'm more of a bemused bystander -- but I can think of plenty of reasons to be wary of Hillary Clinton. (I've listed them in previous posts.) In particular, I'm skeptical that she "is more serious about achieving universal health care" -- admittedly, she has something to prove on that score, but that may just be because she muffed it so badly last time around. Even so, the title seems way over the top. Hate is, after all, a Republican virtue. Rather, what I would feel if Clinton wins out over Obama is exactly what I heard Clinton say back when her health care plan was being chewed up by attack dogs. When asked if she would be angry if the plan was rejected, she said "no, I'd be sad for America." I would have respected her more at the time if she had said, "hell, yes, I'd be angry!" -- would have made me feel she had a stake in the fight. So if Obama's supporters get angry now, I have to respect the fact that they give a damn. But if Clinton does prevail, then fine, we'll settle for being sad, vote against McCain, and get on her case to do the right thing. If Obama wins, we'll still have to do the latter. But I figure, especially in our current poisoned political atmosphere, that Obama has an advantage in not being too specific, in pushing for intangibles like hope and character, instead of a bunch of half-assed plans like John Kerry trotted out on every question. The real problems are worse than the American people can handle right now, and it is those real problems -- not our preferred preconceptions -- that will determine what actually happens in the near future. So there's an advantage in not getting too wedded to what might be easy to sell right now. I score that one for Obama.
Arianna Huffington: End of a Romance: Why the Media and Independent Voters Need to Break Up with John McCain. One to pass along to anyone you know who still believes that McCain deserves any respect whatsoever. (Note that the piece was posted too soon to include McCain's vote in favor of the president's right to torture enemies.) Beyond the words, includes a picture of McCain hugging Bush, while the latter looks like Jesus (or a bible thumping country pastor) welcoming the sinner home. Personally, I think Huffington's too easy on him, but she has a rather checkered past as well. When McCain ran against Bush in 2000 it was McCain who was the neocon superhawk, and he had Paul Wolfowitz in his tent to prove it. McCain lost in 2000 when he didn't have the guts to stand up to the Confederate flag, then tried to make amends after the South Carolina primary. We can go on and on. It's hard to see why he gets any respect at all.
Steve Benen: Meet Mr. Vague Generalities. One more on McCain. Quotes Jonathan Chait: "On economics, he's repeatedly admitted that he knows very little. And on social issues, he doesn't even know what his own positions are." Comments are worth scanning, even though they mostly want to talk about Obama.
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