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Friday: Happy Birthday, Katiebird!

Today is Kbird’s 20+ some_multiple birthday. Let’s give a round of applause to a wonderfully subversive blogger who has reached that magical age where she is now a threat to the dominant paradigm.

In the meantime, Anglachel comments on Paul Krugman’s latest column on why it is that Obama has “Every freakin’ advantage a candidate could hope for and the guy cannot win”. It takes me back to a post that Lambert made several months ago that was noted by Paul Krugman (I think we can all see that Paul Krugman is at the heart of this conspiracy now. And I live only 9 miles from Princeton. Coincidence? Cue the Theremin music.)

But seriously, as long as Obama remains a soft and amorphous candidate, some people are going to find him appealing as a Tofu Candidate. You can pour any sauce you like on him and he will take on that flavor. But pin him down and mold him into a real Democrat and poof!, he’s just another ground beef patty. There goes all of his appeal as a transformative figure. I think that’s what is about to happen. Voters are going to start asking him some hard questions and he’s going to have to declare and when THAT happens, he’s not going to be so cool with some constituency.

Well, whatever works.

Continue reading

The Pelosi-Clinton Chasm

(I split this off from the preceding post)

Jim VandeHei of The Politico wrote this piece about The Clinton-Pelosi Fault . Apparently, the source of the rift is the war and Clinton’s “hawkish” positioning. I don’t think Clinton is a hawk. I think she made a bad decision about the IWR but probably had fewer options than many senators. And the Liberman-Kyl resolution never had any teeth. Besides, she has co-sponsored other legislation requiring the WH to get approval from Congress before launching bombs as Iran.

But I *do* think that VandeHei is on to something of the real cause of the rift between Clinton and Pelosi. It’s just that if Pelosi is going to take a stand and hold Clinton accountable, she picked the wrong candidate to do it. And where was Pelosi 4 years ago when Kerry was running and said he’d vote for it again? There’s just no consistency here. What else is at work here? Does Pelosi know something about Hillary that we don’t? It doesn’t look like it or wouldn’t she tell us? If we are about to make a giant mistake, wouldn’t it be her duty to tell us why? So, I have to assume this is just attitudinal. Pelosi has picked a tribe and Clinton is not in it. That looks to be the extent of it. If anyone has any other information on the Pelosi-Clinton divide, please share with the class.

Another theory: If Pelosi is backing Obama, and there seems to be quite a few links out there where she CLEARLY doesn’t like Clinton, could it be something as simple as getting credit for ending the war? If she backs the winning candidate, he can always come back and work with her to get the right legislation passed to end it. But if she backs Obama and *Clinton* wins, it’s Hillary that gets the glory, not Pelosi. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that Obama is more than just tofu for the voters. He’s tofu to the frustrated party leaders who will have a person they can strongly influence. With Hillary, they won’t have that opportunity. Hillary has a strong political personality but Obama is still a tabula rasa who acquired his connections and coalitions as a gift. He didn’t make them on his own so he is beholden to them. They will threaten to abandon him the minute he doesn’t toe the line. Ahhhhh, it’s all starting to make sense now.

All Roads Lead to Ted

Geraldine Ferraro wrote an Op/Ed piece for the NYTimes today about the role of superdelegates that is bound to stir up some controversy. The piece, Got a Problem? Ask the Super, challenges the conventional wisdom about why the superdelegates were created. It was not intended to put an end to Children’s Crusades to win the nomination for George McGovern in 1968, though the superdelegates might have mitigated that situation as well. No, the superdelegates were created to prevent the kind of highjacking that Senator Ted Kennedy tried to pull off in 1980. It tore the party apart and lead to Jimmy Carter’s loss to Ronald Reagan:

After the 1980 presidential election, the Democratic Party was in disarray. That year, Senator Ted Kennedy had challenged President Jimmy Carter for the presidential nomination, and Mr. Kennedy took the fight to the convention floor by proposing 23 amendments to the party platform. When it was all over, members of Congress who were concerned about their re-election walked away from the president and from the party. The rest of the campaign was plagued by infighting.

Ahh, yes, I remember it not so well, but I *do* remember it. It was the first year I was eligible to vote in a presidential election and George Bush had visited Pittsburgh that campaign season. The cold, arrogant and brusque way he handled that appearance told me everything I ever wanted to know about Republicans. First impressions and all that.

But that Democratic convention was no picnic either. There were bad feelings all around capped by Jimmy Carter standing on stage after having clinched the nomination, extending his hand to Ted Kennedy and Ted, just barely mustering the most insincere handshake imaginable. The two sides couldn’t have been further apart after all the bitter feuding and behind the scenes manipulations. The superdelegates were created to provide cooler heads and prevent that from ever happening again.

Now, here we are in the midst of another contentious party battle. And whose name keeps popping up in the news? None other than that uniter himself, Ted Kennedy. He endorsed Obama last month along with Senator Kerry. The bulk of the Kennedy clan piled on, in fact. Obama and his wife, who have been compared to JFK and Jackie, have been re-packaged accordingly. The Massachusetts connection continues with Obama ripping some of Deval Patrick’s campaign scripts although it is not clear that this repackaging comes with Kennedy’s stamp of approval. But for those wondering how Obama could have racked up so much money to start his campaign, Kennedy and Kerry campaign donor lists would not be an unreasonable place to start. So, Kerry says he just gave Obama his lists only recently. So, he might be fibbing a little. (Should be easy enough to prove with a little cross checking of Obama’s early donors and Kerry’s lists from 2004)

But let’s get back to these superdelegates. Kennedy has demonstrated his reluctance to aim for party unity before. Why start now? He has a Kennedy legend to protect. He wasn’t able to get to the Oval Office in his brothers’ footsteps but, by golly, that doesn’t mean he can’t get there through back door means, right? And here we have a virtual tabula rasa, so spotless. No record, no votes to worry about, no accomplishments. Just a fresh, clean palette. Less a Teflon than a tofu candidate upon which the dreamer in all of us can cast our favorite flavor of Democrat. As long as he stays soft and amorphous, he can be the carrier for all of our tastes. Perfect!

And why worry about those pesky superdelegates. Just lean on them and threaten them with primary challengers as Ms. Ferraro intimates and they’ll follow you everywhere. Because, after all, Obama’s got powerful friends with lots of connections in the liberal end of the pool who could make things very trying indeed. “Nice congressional district you got there. You wouldn’t want anything to *happen* to it, eh?”

So what if your activist nutcase supporters show up in droves to the caucuses, overwhelming their civic minded Democratic regulars with their displays of haka-like intensity? So what if you pad your delegate count with low hanging fruit from states your party doesn’t have prayer of winning in November? You *do* want to win, right? Just threaten to tear the party apart and people will be so scared, they’ll give in to you. “Nice chances of winning the Oval Office in November. You wouldn’t want anything to *happen* to it, eh?”

Like in 1980, you mean?