Friday, February 08, 2008

 

Mac's Rise

Three thoughts on John McCain's address at CPAC and and claiming of the Republican presidential nomination:

1) Whatever McCain
speechwriter/ghostwriter/alter-ego Mark Salter gets paid, it isn't enough.

2) McCain was smart to take the advice of Kate O'Beirne and Ramesh Ponnuru in
training his guns on the Democratic candidates.

3) While he genuflected before conservatives on the immigration issue, he didn't grovel. He reminded them of his conservative record -- like on Bork! -- but didn't make himself look bowed. That is important: While he needs the conservatives to stay with him, he can't afford to look weak. It is deadly for a candidate to look like he is being bullied (think about Michael Dukakis in 1988 with Jesse Jackson). Especially given that McCain's major issue is national security, he can't appear to look like he is being kicked around by his base -- as opposed to respecting and working with that base. I think McCain struck the right balance.

Oh, and Mitt Romney's, "I'm dropping out because we are at war?" Please. As if the country has never been able to work through the political process -- and elections -- during wartime. This was the first time that I really felt the irritating phoniness about Romney that others have noted.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

 

Mitt Sinks

Romney out.

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The Lady Stumbles

After winning the most states Tuesday -- and effectively tying Hillary Rodham Clinton for the delegate lead -- Barack Obama has raised more than $7 million -- to go with the $32 million haul he made in January (in most years, $32 million would be a fantastic quarter).

Clinton, meanwhile, is stuck loaning herself $5 million. But, as Ed Morrissey wonders,
is it her own money?

The massive loan may not seem unusual given Mitt Romney's self-funding, but Mitt has plenty of his own money. Where did Hillary get $5 million to loan a presidential campaign? Bill and Hillary have done well on the speaking circuit, and Bill recently got $20 million or so for backing out of his partnership from Ron Burkle. At the time, speculation had Bill wanting to eliminate any potential conflicts between Burkle's business and Hillary's election.

Now, however, one has to wonder whether Burkle may have attempted to float money into Hillary's campaign while bypassing campaign-finance regulations. Did the $20 million, which came just two weeks ago, actually represent a fair-market settlement for Clinton's services and ownership stake in Yucaipa? Or did Burkle inflate it in order to allow Hillary to "loan" herself $5 million to keep pace with a surging Obama campaign?
Given that all sorts of candidates -- from John Kerry to Mitt Romney to John McCain -- have loaned themselves money at difficult points in their campaigns, this shouldn't necessarily raise suspicion. Except that this is the Clintons -- and money/fundraising always is "different" for them.

A far darker cloud though hovers -- several
top Clinton staffers are going without pay for a month. When this happened to the Giuliani campaign one month ago, it signalled the beginning of the end.

Hillary Clinton couldn't be in quite that bad shape -- could she?

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

 

Michael Strahan, Political Comic

This will undoubtedly be the last football-related post at the site for a while (at least from me). I just couldn't let this little nugget pass. It's from the Giants post-parade victory rally at the Meadlowands on Tuesday:

Strahan brought the house down when he did a Howard Dean imitation recounting
the Giants' amazing string of road wins that led to the Super Bowl.
"We went to Tampa, we went to Dallas, we went to Green Bay, we went to Arizona," Strahan yelled. "Aaaaahgh."
Sorry, but you don't usually find this sort of politically-aware wit in your average football player (forgive me if I'm trading in stereotypes). For that matter, how many non-political geeks remember the Dean Scream? Guess that means Strahan is a political junkie, something of which I was not previously aware. Anyway, this little riff makes me want even more for him to return next year -- or at least have him signed up for "Hardball"!

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Super Tuesday Scoreboard

Clinton (8 states): Arkansas, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee (plus American Samoa)

Obama (12): Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Utah

McCain (9): Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, New York, New Jersey, Oklahoma

Huckabee (5): Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia

Romney (7): Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Utah

McCain's wipeout of Romney in California is likely the nail in the coffin for the former Massachusetts governor. But there's no reason why Mike Huckabee shouldn't push for a spot on the ticket. He won solidly Republican states while McCain's greatest strength was in states that he will have difficulty carrying in November (though Missouri is a significant win). Meanwhile,winning the Golden State (to go along with her own New York and New Jersey) -- with a huge share of the Latino vote, a feat she replicated elsewhere -- definitely gives Hillary Rodham Clinton some bragging rights in terms of the big states.

However, Obama's strength in "purple" states like Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado can't be overestimated -- to say nothing of red, heavily white-population states. Furthermore, Obama won the most states of the night. The Democrats are going to be tussling for quite awhile.

*New Mexico not called as of 2:30 AM.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall readers discuss the racial voting patterns in states where Obama won:

First, TPM Reader JS ...
Just a quick trend to note: Obama seems to do well in states where
there are either a huge number of black voters or virtually no black voters at all. In states with large urban populations, and ethnic suburban populations, he doesn't do as well. He also doesn't do as well in interior southern states. In other words, either a state needs to have white voters who have very little experience with ethnic or racial politics, or it needs to have an extremely large black population, in order to vote for Obama.
This should, sadly, not come as a surprise. While the Obama campaign was infuriated by Bill Clinton's dismissive statement that Obama won South Carolina -- like Jesse Jackson -- the fact is that this racial pattern was first noticed during the '88 Jackson campaign. Jackson's highest share of the white vote was in states that had very small black populations -- like Vermont and Alaska. Plus ca la change, plus ca la meme.

UPDATE II: Obama apparently won the day in delegates!

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A Non-Conservative GOP?

Okay, as of midnight Eastern time, 13 of the 21 Republican contested primary and caucus states were won by McCain and Huckabee -- the two candidates that the so-called conservative political talking-head elite declared were "not conservative." Meanwhile, Mitt Romney -- favored choice of this conservative punditocracy is stuck scrabbling a few states other than his "home" states of Massachusetts and Utah. Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt, Ann Coulter, et. al. you're going to have to deal with the faces of the new Republican Party -- like it or not.

UPDATE: Clarification -- "punditocracy" added after "this conservative" in the second paragraph.

UPDATE II: Roughly speaking, McCain, Romney and Huckabee represent, respectively, what has been called the three "stools" of the Republican base -- national security, economics and morality/values. Well, don't look now, but across the country, the national security/values combination just trounced the economic/fiscal conservatism candidate. Is it just a coincidence that this result occurs the day after the "holy warrior" George W. Bush dropped his farewell "gift" to Congress -- a $3.1 t rillion budget with a $409 billion deficit? In a political environment where concern over the economy is higher than it has been in years, these developments spells bad news for the GOP come November -- unless something drastic occurs to change the playing field in the weeks ahead.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

 

Super Tuesday Madness

Well, as we said one month ago, "Anyone who thinks they know how the presidential nominating process is going to play out is full of sh**." Super Tuesday is producing more than a few surprises.

Barack Obama is looking strong in Hillary Clinton's backyard, both Connecticut and New Jersey. He destroyed Clinton in Georgia. Serious warning sign for Sen. Clinton: Obama got 43 percent of the white vote in the Peach State. If he replicates that elsewhere, he has a very good chance of becoming the Democratic nominee. In addition to Georgia, networks have called Illinois (natch!) for Obama and Oklahoma and Tennessee for Clinton.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side -- surprise! Mike Huckabee isn't dead yet. He won the
West Virginia caucus with some wheeler-dealing with John McCain (an alliance that may yet come back to bite McCain in the butt). Georgia is currently too close to call. Huckabee is doing very well in in the south -- belying Romney's claim that he's only a spoiler. Indeed, the Huck-man could win five states -- which explains why he decided to be the third man who stayed in the race (in contrast to John Edwards on the Democratic side).

These are 6:00 PM
GOP exit polls. These are the 6:00 PM Democratic polls.

UPDATE: So much for the exit polls. Fox calls Hillary a winner in New Jersey.

UPDATE II: Networks call New York and, oh yes, Massachusetts handily for Hillary. That Kennedy "magic" works again! Yeah, I called that big endorsement a mistake -- and I meant it! Meanwhile, CNN projects Alabama for Obama (who also takes Delaware -- on Fox, Juan Williams had to explain to a puzzled Brit Hume that Delaware has the 8th highest black percentage in the country). McCain wins Delaware, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut and New York.

UPDATE III: And here's something that must warm the hearts of Mitt Romney supporters: John McCain's home state of Arizona is too close to call on the Republican side (9:40 -- the polls have been closed for 40 minutes). All other "home" states for individual candidates were called by networks within minutes of poll closings (including "both" of Hillary's adopted home states -- Arkansas and New York).

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Super Tuesday

Well, I'm heading to the polls today.

With my my anticipated enthusiasm of voting against the former mayor of New York sadly gone by the boards (but, hey, my prediction that he wouldn't win a state outside of New York or New Jersey was, well, sort of right!), I now have to decide who I'm going to vote for.

Ron Paul had been my long-time favorite. Aside from raising the right questions on current U.S. foreign policy, the size of government, he's also the only candidate to actually mention the impact of the falling dollar on the economy (heck, if McDonald's commercials can make jokes about the falling dollar, don't you think politicians might realize that there's a potential problem here?). Unfortunately, Paul missed a strong opportunity to explain his rather repugnant newsletters from the '80s and '90s (as revealed in The New Republic last month). I don't think Paul is necessarily racist, but there should be a better explanation rather than, "Well, I didn't right write them." In other words, Paul -- who's a straight shooter in other respects -- could deal with a little "straight talk" when it comes to things that have his name on them.

So, that leaves me with John McCain and Mitt Romney. Neither is perfect. McCain was my guy in 2000 and there's still much I respect about him -- even despite McCain-Feingold. I hate his view that we might need to be in Iraq for 100 years. On the other hand, despite his stance on war, he was the one who was holding Rumsfeld's feet to the fire on troop strength and strategy. When few other Republicans were. He has also demanded some accountability from the administration on Guantanamo and waterboarding (a position that has caused many conservatives to now claim, bizarrely, that McCain is "wrong on torture"). Furthermore, he's been railing on spending and earmarks for years -- more than his fellow GOPers can say.

On the other hand, Romney has flip-flopped on so many positions (agree with McCain or not, he generally stays with the position that he adopts), how he can be considered a reliable "conservative" -- as many on the right now wish to declare him -- is beyond me.

Thus, I will, grudgingly, vote for John McCain today.

Others may respectfully differ.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

 

Specter of Spying

The Super Bowl is done and, for all intents and purposes, the football season is over. However, a "specter" still lingers over the game -- GOP Arlen Specter's letter, revealed last week, to Commissioner Roger Goodell that demanded an explanation as to why the NFL destroyed the Patriots' infamous "Spygate" tapes. It's quite natural for most people to say, "Why on earth is Congress butting its nose into this, months after the issue was settled -- and in the middle of Super Bowl week at that?"

Well, Gregg Easterbrook kept following this story -- the destroying of the tapes -- from early on. He's mentioned it a few times in his "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" column on ESPN.com. Over the weekend, he brought everyone up to date, why the league appropriately has egg on its face -- and has some 'splaining to do.

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Pigskin Pick'em Playoffs - Final Results

And the winner of the Pigskin Pick'em Playoffs is (drumroll please):
Bill Barker - 9
Audio Dave - 8
Robert A. George - 8
EdMcGon - 6
David Stefanini - 6
J. Mark English - 2

Congrats Bill! Sometimes, playing the "homer" works!

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

 

Perfect Game Beats Perfect Season

"18-1...18-1....18-1..." was the chant going through the streets of New York tonight.

(Along with that always-dependable standby, "Boston sucks!")

Sorry about that, Pats.

My friend David Bernstein called this the best Super Bowl of our lifetimes. He may be right. I can't think of a better one recently. Hey, it's the first time in the modern era that an unbeaten team has been knocked off in the Big Game.

This was a game very reminiscent of Super Bowl XXV, when the Giants beat the offensive juggernaut Buffalo Bills, 20-19.

In a nice bit of irony, the Giants also did to the Patriots what the Pats did to the Rams during their first championship run: They kept the offense off the field and off-balance. They kept the ball out of Randy Moss' hands (though it looked for a while like Wes Welker was going to be the Giant-killer). They pressured Tom Brady like he hadn't been all year (and as they did to Jeff Garcia, Tony Romo and Brett Favre previously). Five sacks.

Eli Manning had the ball twice in the fourth quarter and delivered touchdowns twice. (Wow. Is this Archie Manning's revenge on the NFL, or what? After suffering with the horrific New Orleans Saints his entire career, his two sons win consecutive Super Bowls -- and consecutive game MVPs, to boot!)

Brady, meanwhile, had the ball with the game on the line and couldn't deliver. (Does he dump Gisele in the next couple of weeks -- or does she dump him?)

14-6>18-1

Wow.

UPDATE: Ten things we learned from the Giants' Super Bowl win. The Manning-escape-from-Pats-rush-and-throw-to-Tyree-who-made-insane-sky-high-catch is a play for the ages. It's that play that solidified the MVP for Manning. As two friends mentioned, otherwise, a great case could be made for Justin Tuck who had two sacks, a forced fumble and was in Brady's face all night.

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