Armando says: “I’d like to interrupt this Unity Day message with a small reminder to the Barack Obama campaign and the Democratic Party — unless he picks Hillary Clinton as his running mate — the day he announces his Vice Presidential candidate will be a day of disunity.”
I think Kevin Drum raises the right issue about this, namely the near-total lack of evidence that Hillary Clinton (as opposed to some number of her retainers) has any interest in the vice presidency. It’s certainly true that if Clinton has a strong desire to be vice president, she arguably has it within her power to make a “I’m on the ticket or there’s no unity” play. But if she doesn’t want to be VP, then how disgruntled can her supporters really be about that?
In his explosive new memoir, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan claims that Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, “and possibly Vice President Cheney” encouraged him to “repeat a lie” to the American people about the administration’s role in the leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity. This assertion, along with others, has led members of Congress, like House Oversight Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), to again ask questions about the CIA leak scandal.
On NBC’s The Chris Matthews Show today, Time magazine assistant managing editor Michael Duffy said that the renewed attention to the scandal is causing White House lawyers to be “very concerned”:
DUFFY: White House lawyers are concerned, very concerned, now that Scott McClellan’s book has led Henry Waxman and John Conyers to take another look at the Valerie Plame business. There may be hearings. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald may be called. Just another way in which a Democratic Congress might make a difference during the fall.
Last week, Waxman sent a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, requesting that the Justice Department turn over FBI interviews of President Bush and Cheney that were conducted during the CIA leak scandal investigation. In the letter, Waxman cited “new revelations” from McClellan’s book, including the claim that “[t]he President and Vice President directed me to go out there and exonerate Scooter Libby.”
Additionally, White House lawyers are likely “concerned” that CIA leak special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald indicated this week that he would be willing to testify before Congress about alleged efforts to push him off of politically sensitive cases like the leak scandal.
As Duffy said, this “could make things rough for everyone who was affiliated with the Plame affair.”
Most current speculation on a mismatch between the popular vote and the electoral college currently focuses, for various reasons, on the prospect of McCain winning the election with fewer votes than Obama gets. Nate at 538, however, points out a significant way in which the electoral college is disadvantaging the Republicans — it’s based on where people lived during the 2000 census rather than where they live today.
If you re-did the allocation based on 2007 Current Population Survey data you’d give three electoral votes to Texas and one each to Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, and Utah. Most of those are solid GOP states, and the two that aren’t (Nevada and Florida) have a distinct GOP tilt. Meanwhile, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania would each lose one electoral vote and Ohio would lose two. So consider that a reason for conservatives to want to get behind the National Popular Vote movement.
Meanwhile, there’s obviously a problem here for Democrats in 2012. The good news is that as some of these states gain population — especially Arizona, Nevada, and Texas — they seem to be becoming less solidly Republican. But we’re probably still quite a ways from Texas being a competitive state. So you see further evidence that the Democrats’ future (or lack thereof) is in the Southwest and the party’s ability to start reliably getting electoral votes out of Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico to replace some of the ones that are going to be taken away from the Northeast.
In a widely-ridiculed speech last Tuesday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) noted that “you will hear from my opponent’s campaign in every speech, every interview, every press release that I’m running for President Bush’s third term. You will hear every policy of the President described as the Bush-McCain policy.” He added that he believes those comparisons are “false.”
But it seems that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), McCain’s chief surrogate and attack dog, disagrees. Today on ABC’s This Week, Graham stated unequivocally that McCain’s tax and health care policies were not only an extension of Bush’s polices but also an “enhancement”:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring Senator Graham back in on this because you brought up two. You said the tax policy and the health care policy were essentially, Senator Graham, John McCain is calling for an extension or maybe enhancement of the Bush policies.
GRAHAM: Yeah, absolutely.
McCain’s speech last week represented a feeble attempt to distance himself from Bush, something his top surrogate acknowledges is futile. Strangely enough, McCain economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin said recently that Obama’s economic polices, not McCain’s, would represent a third Bush term (a claim ultra-conservative Robert Novak even found absurd).
But the simple fact is that Graham is right. McCain is proposing massive tax cuts that primarily benefit higher-income households, ignore other priorities and drive up the national debt by trillions. And McCain’s health care policy would raise costs and abandon the uninsured. That sure sounds like an “extension” and “enhancement” of Bush’s policies.
Another thought on these Clinton campaign postmortems is that there’s a tendency in them to overstate the extent to which changes in the Clinton campaign account for her better performance at the end of the primary process than at the beginning of it. As best I can tell, the real cause of the change was just a change in which states were voting — the schedule shifted to places where the sort of older working class white voter who formed Clinton’s base were a larger proportion of the electorate. Holding demographics constant, there was little change in either candidate’s performance over the course of the primary season.
In 1967, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley told President Lyndon Johnson that he needed to remove the 500,000 U.S. troops then involved in Vietnam’s civil war. When Johnson responded by asking how he could do that, Daley replied, “Put them on a [expletive deleted] plane and bring them home.”
It is time to follow Daley’s advice [in Iraq]. These multiple conflicts cannot be resolved by American military power. In fact, every time we deal with one conflict we make another worse.
That’s from Larry Korb’s article on getting out of Iraq, and I say: Indeed. Obviously, any large military operation is logistically complicated. But a lot of people seem to have developed mental blocks — real or imagined — around the fact that yes we can actually decide that Iraq is going to become one of any number of troubled countries that gets along for better or for worse without 130,000 American soldiers hanging around. All it takes is a president who actually wants our forces to leave.
But even conservatives aren’t taking the bait on the new talking point. Reacting to Holtz-Eakin’s interview, conservative pundit Robert Novak said on Bloomberg TV:
That is the silliest thing I have ever heard! And I won’t even dignify how stupid it is.
Novak went on to argue that there’s no doubt McCain is attempting to “get away from Bush.” Asked if McCain can succeed in that strategy, Novak said yes because “slamming Bush” is something many Republicans would approve of. Watch it:
The new McCain strategy appears to be “I’m rubber, you’re glue; whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.” But as James Kvaal and Robert Gordon demonstrate in a Wonk Room analysis, the McCain and Bush comparison sticks because it is true.
It’s pretty devastating for Holtz-Eakin that his crackerjack talking point won’t even pass Novak’s smell test.
Gas prices hit “a milestone mark” today, according to AAA, reaching “$4 a gallon for the first time.” The Average price for regular unleaded rose 1.7 cents to $4.005, up from Thursday’s record high of $3.989. Prices “are nearly 29% higher than the $3.105 average a year ago.”
Another long HRC campaign postmortem in which the word “Iraq” does not appear. For that matter, neither does “Iran” or “Kyl-Lieberman.” But it’s a bit perverse to look at this race wholly as an election Clinton lost. But these topics were integral to Obama’s critique of Clinton and you can’t understand the more purely tactical issues in the race without having some grip on the issues the candidates were debating.
Mr. Obama’s aides said some states where they intend to campaign — like Georgia, Missouri, Montana and North Carolina — might ultimately be too red to turn blue. But the result of making an effort there could force Mr. McCain to spend money or send him to campaign in what should be safe ground, rather than using those resources in states like Ohio.
That’s the normal account you hear, but I think in some ways it’s the least-compelling reason to try and run a geographically broad campaign. The best reason, it seems to me, is probably just that it’s an appealing electoral strategy to be seen as running a broad-based, nationwide political campaign. Bush talked in 2000 about the problems of poor minority children in school not so much because he thought he was going to get huge numbers of black people to vote for him, but to signal to voters everywhere that he was “a different kind of Republican,” caring, etc. Even if Obama doesn’t have any realistic prospect of winning North Carolina or Montana he certainly wants to win in places like Minnesota and Virginia and parts of Minnesota are like Montana, parts of Virginia are like North Carolina and an image as a broad-minded person who campaigns everywhere can be helpful. After all, Obama’s eruption onto the national stage was a critique of the red/blue politics of cultural division, so it’s good to dramatize that by running a nationwide campaign.
Beyond that, the more places you campaign the more places you’re in a position to take advantage of unexpected good fortune. If for some reason McCain commits some kind of horrible gaffe that alienates the people of the big empty square states, it’s good to have laid the groundwork to take advantage of that. Or maybe Bobb Barr will catch fire in the Deep South. In a narrowcast campaign, you need to guess in advance how things will unfold over the next several months and that’s just difficult to do. If you have the cash to run a wide-focus campaign, then you can simply try to respond competently to events as they unfold however they unfold.