Friday, November 21, 2008

 

Open Thread

Thread on, you crazy diamonds...

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

 

Missouri No Longer Loves Company

For the first time in 52 years, the "bellwether" state of Missouri voted for the losing presidential candidate. Yep, after two weeks, it's official: The Show Me State went for John McCain. Previously, only NBC had "called" Missouri for McCain, two days after the election.

This clearly means that Obama stole the election.

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Barking Up The Right Tree

Well, I promised Bill Barker, erstwhile prolific Commenter here at RAGGED THOTS, that if he ever got around to starting his own blog, I would give him a shout-out.

Mr. Barker has finally take the plunge, so RT readers should regularly drop by Usually Right to find out what the unleashed Mr. Barker has to say. I sincerely wish him all the best -- as any "parent" would when his offspring makes his own way out into the world!

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Al Qaida Nader

So nice to see who's bringin' racial slurs back! Not so long after Ralph Nader called Obama an "Uncle Tom", Ayman al-Zawahiri -- Number 2 guy in Al Qaeda -- calls him a "house negro."

Al Sharpton denounced his fellow "Al": "Americans must be united with our President to stamp out terrorism and racism of any stripe."

Not for attribution, an Obama spokesman claims that the president-elect's response is: "You can call me WHITE HOUSE negro, M.F.-er -- while I can call you dead!"

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Holder-Over

Um, I thought Barack Obama defeated the Clintons in the Democratic primary. So, why do so many of all the early appointments -- and trial balloons -- seem a bit too much like the Clinton Restoration that was supposedly stopped last summer?

Hot on the heels of the "SOS Hillary" boomlet, we now have the announcement that deputy AG under Clinton, Eric Holder, is Obama's pick.

Yes, Holder is certainly "qualified" to be US attorney general. That may not be saying much, given that that office has been held by everyone from John Mitchell to Janet Reno to Alberto Gonzalez. But, is it really the case that Obama couldn't find another candidate who's selection didn't immediately conjure up memories of Clinton's departing scandal -- Marc Rich and Pardongate?

Well, there are any number of people that could do that job. However, I would argue that Obama may be falling into a similar bind that tripped up Bill Clinton early on. It's the Diversity Trap: Clinton made a big deal about wanting to appoint the first female attorney general. Remember how that turned out? Both Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood stumbled because of "nanny" problems. That left Reno as the third choice.

Within days of Obama's election, I was on a radio show discussing possible members of the cabinet. The African American host was troubled by the idea that few minorities (or women) were being mentioned for top jobs. At this point, only Rahm Emanuel had been named incoming chief of staff. Some names being floated at the time were John Kerry at State, Larry Summers, Paul Volcker and T
im Geithner at Treasury. Indeed, the host asked me, half-jokingly, why wasn't Time Warner's Dick Parsons mentioned for Treasury. Robert Kennedy Jr.'s name was being floated for Environmental Protection Agency.

The point, said the host, we have the first black president, but why don't some of these names being leaked represent "diversity"? I said that it was a bit too early to be concerned about the diversity issue. However, the topic came up again last week on "This Week With George Stephanopolous." Sam Donaldson, of all people, brought up the idea that the names mentioned for the big jobs -- Defense, State and Treasury were all white, for one, and, with the exception of Hillary -- male. Cokie Roberts added, "Well, Obama can't be seen to have an administration that is less diverse than George W. Bush's."

So, that brings us to Eric Holder and Attorney General. In the hierarchy of Cabinet posts, AG is up there with the previously cited three. Obama manages to make a "first ever" pick for that spot (matching Clinton's selection of Reno and Bush's of Gonzales). But the price for trying to balance his diversity concerns is not necessarily one of quality -- coming in, Holder is likely more qualified than either Reno or Gonzales). No, the price is sacrificing the mantle of "change" that had been synonymous with Obama.

Based on actual selections plus the rumor-mill, the Obama adminstration will have Holder as AG, Clinton vet Emanuel as WH chief of staff, Hillary Clinton as secretary of state -- and Bush-holdover Robert Gates (filling the GOP quota). Apparently "change" is something that the country can only "hope" for in the days ahead.

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Baked Alaska

Didn't have the chance to use that headline during the whole Sarah Palin silliness. But it is most appropriate -- and deserved -- to cheer the electoral defeat of Sen. "Bridge To The Penitentiary" Ted Stevens.

Forget partisanship. Alaska voters did the right thing by avoiding the embarrassment of returning (however briefly) a convicted felon to the Senate.

Don't let the prison door hit you on the way out, Senator.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

 

I Still Heart Huckabee

Oh, yeah!

Talk about perfect timing! Mike Huckabee has been busy since the end of the GOP primary - writing a book. And, he drops it even before Barack Obama is inaugurated. Unlike most political books -- which are filled with anodyne copy designed not to offend anyone (except, perhaps, one or two folks in the opposing party) -- this one takes no prisoners. He goes after Mitt Romney, the Club For Growth, John Hagee and a few other, ahem, "sacred" cows in the Republican/conservative firmament (if I may mix metaphors). Intra-party fights of this nature are somewhat unusual.

Romney, by the way, again demonstrates why he will never be president: He responds to Huckabee with a, "these attacks are beneath Mike Huckabee; we need to come together" line that is so wimpy that it could have been written by a veteran of the Dukakis, Gore or Kerry campaigns, i.e. losers who never realized that the best way to respond to a punch in politics is with one of your own.

Hmmm...this whole Republicans-in-the-wilderness thing could end up being fun.

UPDATE: A reader asks: "Does this mean Huckabee has given up the idea of running for president? Otherwise, why burn so many bridges?" Actually, he's not burning that many. Evangelicals will likely never get behind Mitt Romney -- either because of flip-flopping or because of his Mormonism is still a problem. Pat Robertson squandered whatever credibility he had left -- even with evangelicals -- with his endorsement of Rudy Giuliani. He'll be past 80 and not much of a player in 2012. Huckabee doesn't need John Hagee, who proved more of a headache than a help to John McCain anyway. Thompson isn't going to run again.

Economic conservatives will have to figure out what their respone to Obamanomics will be. My sense is that Huckabee is going to adopt the "Grand New Party Model" of Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam -- go after the "Sam's Club" members/Main Street folks rather than Wall Street. Frankly, the Club For Growth doesn't relate to those people.

Huckabee obviously wrote the bulk of the book before Sarah Palin was selected. However, this book is partly designed to clear the decks and knock out early the one other potential '08 rival that might think about '12. Just writing this now shows that Huckabee isn't just a "joke" candidate, but someone who's a lot more strategic and tactical than his detractors might have thought. He was the "happy warrior" in '08 because he had to be, but he's not going to be relegated to the "Kumbayah" role going forward. He's happy to start a fight and dare anyone else to mix it up with.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

 

Is Obama's Black-Gay "Marriage" Doomed?

Over at The Atlantic, Andrew Sullivan and Ta-Nehisi Coates have been involved in a debate on how much responsibility California African Americans bear for the passage of Proposition 8 -- the referendum banning gay marriage. The referendum produced, dare one say it, strange bedfellows -- the Mormon church was the measure's big financial backer, and though it passed 52-48, black voters supported it 70-30 (whites split). However, given that black population in the Golden State is less than 10 percent, was that 70 percent figure enough to provide the winning margin?

The easy answer is no. Indeed, Coates explains why that is clearly not the case. It may be more accurate to say that the combination of black and Hispanic votes provided the margin. Still, this fact has caused many gays to be disappointed that the same blacks who turned out to vote for Barack Obama also voted against gay marriage -- a movement pushed by a religion that blatantly discriminated against blacks until barely three decades ago.

Thus Andrew Sullivan's frustration over the apparent level of homophobia in the black community.

He today links to a New Yorker interview of Prince, suggesting that the once-symboled one is anti-gay because he's against gay marriage. Andrew links to another gay blogger who is stunned that Prince takes this position (so to speak) given his catalogue of explicit hits.

Andrew uses this as another example of homophobia in the black community. Now, we start to tread on shaky ground when we start using entertainers as "spokesmen" or "representatives" of one group or another. But, the clear mistake that both Andrew and Joe make is that they look at Prince's old songs and draw a straight (ahem!) line between that Prince and this Prince. Well, this shouldn't be much of a surprise, frankly.

When Prince became a Jehovah's Witness nearly ten years ago, he renounced his explicit past. He stopped playing songs like "Darling Nikki", "Sexy M.F.", "Head", and many more. As Ta-Nehisi says, isn't it more likely that this religious conversion has more to do with His Royal (Formerly) Badness' newfound sexual conservatism than his being black?

Well, duh. (Besides, his "Controversy" line, "Am I black or white? Am I straight or gay?" was about what other people say about him -- not what he was advocating about himself.)

Ta-Nehesi also links to the unique history of African Americans that would make them culturally hold onto the traditionalist view of marriage more than whites (those in California, at least) at large. Ta-Nehisi's right. Indeed, one should also keep in mind that, far from being contradictory, blacks voting for Obama and agains gay marriage makes sense if one considers that blacks weren't just voting for the man because of his color: They were voting for an intact black family
in the White House. This was, arguably, an endorsement of a conservative black family structure. In that context, voting against gay marriage -- from the viewpoint of the black family -- is consistent.

However, there is a classic "forest for the trees" situation developing here. Gays rightly upset over losing on Prop. 8 launched protests across the country last weekend. There will undoubtedly be more in the coming weeks. But, ultimately, to what purpose? Do they want to draw Obama out on this hot-button issue? Will there be calls from gay leaders for Obama to "educate" blacks on this issue -- even though Obama himself doesn't support gay marriage (nor does Hillary Clinton or other top level Democrats)? Will there be moves to urge him to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act?

These questions are important because it was a gay rights issue that -- seemingly out of nowhere --- got the Clinton administration off on a rocky start. Biden talked about Obama being "tested" by a foreign leader. But as Clinton demonstrated in 1993, sometimes a new president can be "tested" by an unexpected domestic issue. A member of Clinton's own party -- Sam Nunn -- as well as Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell helped cut Clinton's "honeymoon" short by forcing him to back down on changing the policy on gays in the military.

It would seem to this blogger that it might behoove both the incoming Obama administration and pro-Obama gay leaders to figure out in what direction the gay marriage issue is going lest history repeat itself -- except in a potentially even more disastrous manner.

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