EVENING UPDATE, FEBRUARY 16, 2008
• Hillary Clinton is scaling back her campaign in Wisconsin, which votes Tuesday, all but conceding the state to Obama. The incompetence of the Clinton campaign is breathtaking. This is a state she could have won. Now her firewall is Texas and Ohio, voting two weeks from Tuesday. Two weeks is two lifetimes in politics. Clinton is ahead in the polls in both states, but Obama has a way of surging in the last days.
I was just watching Hillary Clinton on TV. Actually, I have to concede that she was very good, for a liberal. She is far, far more substantive than Barack Obama, whose national preacher act is starting to wear thin. Well, it's starting to wear thin for people who listen for more than five minutes. But most voters don't. And that's the tragedy.
• The great Mark Steyn has a sharp, painful take on Obamamania, including blunt words about the disgusting predictions of some irresponsible writers that something awful will happen to Obama. Steyn concludes brilliantly:
Poor mean, vengeful Hillary, heading for a one-way ticket on the Oblivion Express, has a point. Barack Obama is an elevator Muzak dinner-theater reduction of all the glibbest hand-me-down myths in liberal iconography – which is probably why he's a shoo-in. The problems facing America – unsustainable entitlements, broken borders, nuclearizing enemies – require tough solutions, not gaseous Sesame Street platitudes. But, unlike the whose-turn-is-it? GOP, Mrs. Clinton's crowd generally picks the new kid on the block: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama. I wonder if Hillary Rodham, Goldwater Girl of 1964, ever wishes she'd stuck with her original party.
Is this the path to national unity? Well, we'll just follow Saint Obama. I'm sure he knows.
• Blake D. Dvorak, at Real Clear Politics, has a fine analysis of the problem of identity politics within the Democratic Party. It's a kind of "live by the sword, die by the sword" critique. The Dems never thought they'd have one favored group, women, competing against another favored group, African-Americans, in a presidential primary. The ideas of qualifications and competence have all but gone by the wayside as breathless journalists contemplate the "first." Dvorak says:
But if it hadn't before, there must now reside in the Democratic Party the fear that the Obama-Clinton contest has exposed fault lines of serious racial-gender-class fragmentation, any part of which could turn on another. Even Obama, who once had to endure questions of being "black enough," might one day stand accused of racial, class, or gender insensitivity, as the barrel of identity politics is ever in need of targets. Just ask the Clintons.
You know, a paragraph like that makes me dread the prospect of a President Obama, or a new President Clinton, in the first days of an administration.
I had this nightmare vision a few days ago of America attacked on January 21, 2009, with a new president in office less than 24 hours. What would an Obama do? How would he react? Would he defend the country, as Bush did, or would he worry about what other "groups" thought?
Identity politics, obsessed with race, gender and ethnicity, can have consequences down the line that we never even contemplated.
• The sparks will fly. A top Clinton aide now says it doesn't matter how many primaries Obama wins. Hillary will win through super delegates. I'd like to say that the gloves are off, but when were they ever on? The Fox story:
Harold Ickes, a 40-year party operative charged with winning over superdelegates for the Clinton campaign, made no apologies on Saturday for the campaign’s convention strategy.
“We’re going to win this nomination,” Ickes said, adding that they would do so soon after the last contest on June 7 in Puerto Rico. “You’re not going to see this go to the convention floor.”
Ickes predicted Clinton and Obama would run “neck and neck” in the remaining states and that there would be a “minuscule amount of difference” between the two in pledged delegates.
But he said superdelegates would determine the outcome and side in larger numbers for Clinton, as they “have a sense of what it takes to get elected.”
I love to see them fight, don't you? How the Dems love each other! How they celebrate their diversity! How they represent the "little people"!
Look, I've got a better idea than these primaries and supers. Why not have a national Democratic referendum and ask a simple question: Which group is more aggrieved, blacks or women? Whichever group wins gets to pick the candidate, either Hillary or Barack.
Now, don't you think that's fair? It's based entirely on justice. Please start writing letters.
• Again we must turn to the adult world. A serious president, who will not be laughed at in the light of history, is visiting Africa. And he's getting a warm reception. While the diversity crowd has been attacking him at home, he's initiated programs in Africa that actually are making progress. You know progress, don't you? It's the thing the "hope" candidates can't handle. The quote:
But Bush has dedicated this trip to showcasing what works, rather than what does not in a continent perennially plagued by crisis. After leaving Benin, he headed to Tanzania, where he landed later in the day, and will visit Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia -- countries chosen as models of promoting reforms, moving toward democracy and fighting AIDS and malaria.
"He believes all of these countries, their leaders, are on the path towards the kinds of governments that we want to partner with," said national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley. "They're all works in progress but we believe they are on that path."
Bush has championed several large programs toward Africa during his presidency, including a five-year, $15 billion effort to combat AIDS, another aimed at malaria and an aid program called the Millennium Challenge Account that ties assistance to anti-corruption and free-market reforms.
Of course we all knew. It's covered so widely in the MSM.
• Andrew McCarthy, at National Review Online, reminds us that Congress has gone on vacation while leaving unfinished a critical piece of national-security legislation. We are less safe at midnight tomorrow. Consider:
According to top Democrats, the expiration of the Protect America Act (PAA) when the clock strikes midnight Sunday is no big deal. Our ability to monitor foreign threats to national security, they assure us, will be completely unaffected.
This is about as dumb a talking point as one can imagine. And it is just as demonstrably false.
Think for a moment about Tuesday’s crucial Senate bill overhauling our intelligence law that Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to allow the House to consider before recessing Friday — for a vacation. (Democrats evidently had no time for national security, having exhausted themselves on such cosmic matters as a baseball pitcher’s alleged steroid use and unenforceable, unconstitutional contempt citations in a stale investigation into something that wasn’t a crime and that no one but MoveOn.org cares about any longer).
Read the story. It's important, even if Nancy Pelosi doesn't think so.
• Finally, there's diplomacy, and then there's weird diplomacy. History comes back to us in the form of a story reporting a 1973 offer from the big chairman, the real chairman. This is the complete story:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Amid a discussion of trade in 1973, Chinese leader Mao Zedong made what U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called a novel proposition: sending tens of thousands, even 10 million, Chinese women to the United States.
Chinese leader Mao Zedong, here depicted in an Andy Warhol painting, offered women to the U.S.
"You know, China is a very poor country," Mao said, according to a document released by the State Department's historian office.
"We don't have much. What we have in excess is women. So if you want them we can give a few of those to you, some tens of thousands."
A few minutes later, Mao circled back to the offer. "Do you want our Chinese women?" he asked. "We can give you 10 million."
After Kissinger noted Mao was "improving his offer," the chairman said, "We have too many women. ... They give birth to children and our children are too many."
"It is such a novel proposition," Kissinger replied in his discussion with Mao in Beijing. "We will have to study it."
I'm in trouble no matter what I say about that, so I won't comment.
And I'll be back tomorrow.
Posted on February 16, 2008.