EVENING UPDATE, FEBRUARY 3, 2008
• It's Super Bowl Sunday, two days before Super Tuesday. In the light of history, I don't know which one will prove more important.
My prediction for the game today: The team from the East will win.
• Joe Lieberman has written an articulate endorsement of John McCain for The New York Post. I think Lieberman will be remembered as a truly great senator. Whether you agree with him or not, he speaks his mind and takes the political risks. He reminds me, in many respects, of Barry Goldwater, who did the same, despite ridicule and even hatred. Lieberman's key point:
From the moment the next president steps into the Oval Office, he or she will face life-and-death decisions in this war. That is why we need a president who is going to be ready to be commander-in-chief from day one - a president who won't need on-the-job training.
And that is why I have decided to cross party lines to endorse Sen. John McCain for president.
I don't know if Joe will be thrown out of the Democratic Party for this, but, especially if the Dems increase their total in the Senate, he will be marginalized. Also, should Obama be nominated, he may have trouble with the African-American Democrats in Connecticut, who have always backed him.
• Real Clear Politics is tracking the latest polls going into Super Tuesday. Some polls do show a tightening in the Republican race in California, with the possibility of Romney pulling an upset. If he can take California, the GOP race will go on for much longer than we may have imagined only a day ago. But these are polls, and only one counts, and that's the one on Tuesday. Romney forces, though, are fighting.
Polls also show Obama gaining. I know of no poll that shows any new momentum for Clinton. But the Clintons have a superb organization, the ground game, and they may be more successful at getting out their voters.
• The New York Times reported yesterday that the strike of Hollywood writers may be nearing its end. The key quote:
Informal talks between representatives of Hollywood’s striking writers and production companies have eliminated the major roadblocks to a new contract, which could lead to a tentative agreement as early as next week, according to people who were briefed on the situation but requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak.
A deal would end a crippling writers strike that is now entering its fourth month.
However, I'm a member of the Writers Guild, and just received an advisory e-mail urging caution. No deal has been wrapped up. Any agreement would have to be ratified by members.
• The chief nuclear weapons inspector for the whole world is doing his moving rendition of "Don't Worry, Be Happy." Nuclear weapons in the Arab world? Hey, no problem, says Mohamed elBaradei, who, I'm sure, is utterly neutral on the matter. He's the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency, a watchdog that seems to spend most of its time sleeping in the doghouse. On Iran: Look, we're talking. Mano to mano. His incisive observation:
ElBaradei said the IAEA was making good progress resolving outstanding
questions about the history of Iran's nuclear program and called on Tehran to cooperate with the agency to clarify its present activities. Many Western countries fear Iran's program could pave the way for weapons development, but Tehran insists it is focused only on electricity generation.
"I hope again that Iran will continue to demonstrate full cooperation with the agency because the more we can clarify the past, have a good grasp on the present, the more we can help to build confidence about the future nuclear activities of Iran," said ElBaradei.
Yup. Let's build confidence in those mullahs, the wonderful guys who send the bombs to Iraq to kill our soldiers, who deny the Holocaust, who despise women. Just the crowd I want to learn to love.
• George, better call your agent. George Clooney, who was named by the UN to one of those honorary positions where they give you a certificate and notify your high-school paper, apparently took it too seriously. Some at the UN now want the actor to shut up. Or, in diplomatic terms, he's being asked to reflect more carefully on how he speaks about the great work of the international body. The facts:
In his new role as United Nations messenger of peace, George Clooney was playing himself.
That was the easy part for the 46-year-old actor in his high-profile visit to the UN. The hard part was being unable to deliver his message.
Clooney met joked and shook hands, agreeing to have his picture taken throughout the day with scores of curious UN employees.
But several nations, including Russia and France, refused to let him speak publicly at a meeting of nations that contribute troops to the 17 UN peacekeeping missions.
"There are groups that don't feel that I necessarily class up the joint and don't feel that I should be speaking to them," Clooney said later.
Don't feel too badly, George. When it comes to class, even a liberal guy like you has it all over most of the clowns at the "parliament of nations."
• There's a bugging scandal in Britain, complete with the holier-than-thou attitudes that surround these affairs. Oh, the anguish. Oh, the violations of the Magna Carta. Our whole Western tradition of freedom is about to collapse. Oh me God.
Well, it turns out that Scotland Yard bugged a Muslim MP who was having delightful little chats with, uh, a guy suspected of nasty stuff. You don't think the Yard had a good reason, do you? Why, I can't imagine. But there is a problem with the law that we must concede. The juicy facts:
Scotland Yard is alleged to have eavesdropped on meetings between Sadiq Khan, a Government whip, and a terrorist suspect currently being held in prison. The police and security services have been barred from bugging MPs for more than 40 years.
Gordon Brown has been accused of ignoring warnings that Mr Khan was being bugged after it emerged that shadow home secretary David Davis had written to the Prime Minister in December warning him of the situation.
Mr Brown on Sunday claimed he was unaware of the letter and Downing Street said it had not been received but Mr Davis has published the letter in full.
We'll follow this. There may have been a legal violation, but it's good to know there are people on the other side of the pond who take terrorism seriously, and realize that some "respectable" folks aren't so respectable. Maybe they'll let the American press know.
The blog is a little shorter than usual tonight. Don't you troops know there's a game on? We'll be doing a great deal in the next two days, and will blog as returns come in from Super Tuesday.
Posted on February 3, 2008.