SUNDAY, MARCH 9, 2008
Something is happening in the Democratic race. Tracking polls show the public is now almost evenly split between Clinton and Obama. This is probably because Obama's momentum was slowed in Texas and Ohio, and because the press is finally waking up and asking him tough questions. If Senator Clinton can pull ahead of Obama in the polls, and win Pennsylvania on April 22nd, she'll have a powerful case to make before the superdelegates to the Democratic convention, who'll probably hold the balance of power.
And look at this. A Newsweek poll shows Clinton beating McCain by two points, Obama beating him by one. This is not good news for the Democrats. In a presumably Democratic year, the party's candidates should be far ahead of McCain. Instead, it's almost a tie. But what's really intriguing is that Clinton now bests McCain by a slightly larger margin than Obama does. We haven't seen that in quite some time.
The Democratic race is far from over.
THE TIMES? SURPRISE!
Is this possible? Oh, pinch me. The New York Times has a skeptical story about Barack Obama. Now, this is a day to remember. Print the story. Show it to your grand kids. Tell them exactly where you were and what you were doing when you read it. They'll be fascinated.
So, The Times has discovered that Obama 1) has star power, and 2) doesn't do much in the US Senate. While this is not news to most of us, it apparently is a stunning shock to The Times. Feel for the editors. Be not judgmental.
Senator Barack Obama stood before Washington’s elite at the spring dinner of the storied Gridiron Club. In self-parody, he ticked off his accomplishments, little more than a year after arriving in town.
“I’ve been very blessed,” Mr. Obama told the crowd assembled in March 2006. “Keynote speaker at the Democratic convention. The cover of Newsweek. My book made the best-seller list. I just won a Grammy for reading it on tape.
“Really, what else is there to do?” he said, his smile now broad. “Well, I guess I could pass a law or something.”
Yeah, or something. Or take a stand, or something. Or accomplish something specific, or something. Or something else. it goes on:
He went to the Senate intent on learning the ways of the institution, telling reporters he would be “looking for the washroom and trying to figure out how the phones work.” But frustrated by his lack of influence and what he called the “glacial pace,” he soon opted to exploit his star power. He was running for president even as he was still getting lost in the Capitol’s corridors.
And hiring amateurs like Samantha Power. It's a good piece.
Howie Carr, in the Boston Herald, has a sarcastic piece on the difference between Clinton and Obama voters. I think he nails it:
Barack’s voters are New Age. Hillary’s voters . . . old age.
At their respective rallies, Hillary’s voters shout, while Barack’s swoon.
Hillary voters get their coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. Barack’s are strictly Starbucks.
If Hillary wins, her supporters are hoping for a job. Barack’s will be looking for a grant.
Clinton voters know who caused 9/11 - Arab terrorists. Obama voters know who caused 9/11 - Halliburton.
Hillary’s supporters are more or less for gay rights. Obama’s insist on transgendered rights.
It goes on like that.
Stephen F. Hayes, in the Weekly Standard, takes on the most delicate matter in this year's election contest and makes a blunt prediction: Race will matter.
Of course it will. Anyone who thinks it won't is hopelessly naive. And Hayes doesn't hesitate to blame the Obama camp.
In the speech that launched his meteoric rise in national politics, the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama called for a politics of hope, denounced "those who are preparing to divide us," and offered a direct challenge. "I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America--there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America--there's the United States of America."
It was a moving speech, filled with hopeful sentiments. But two years later, Senator Barack Obama, with two years' experience in the Senate and his eye on a presidential run, taped a radio ad attacking the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI), going out of his way to defend racial preference policies that by their very definition divide Americans into blacks, whites, Latinos, and Asians.
Hayes goes on:
Americans have come to expect these kinds of contradictions from our politicians. But the chief rationale for Obama's candidacy is that he is different, that he will lead a post-partisan, post-ideological, and post-racial America. Not everyone believes it.
"Barack Obama is a far left guy who issues reassuring rhetoric but beneath it all is just like any other liberal," says Ward Connerly, the California businessman who backed the Michigan initiative after leading victorious efforts in California and Washington. It passed easily, and he is hoping to duplicate that success in five states this coming November: Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. Connerly, a Republican who supported Rudy Giuliani for president, hopes that McCain will support his initiatives and even run on them as a way to counter Obama's rhetoric. But he knows from experience not to count on it.
Pretty tough stuff. But important. The race card will be played.
THE SUPERS ARE SUPER CAUTIOUS
The Democratic race is so competitive that many superdelegates are staying on the sidelines, waiting for clearer indicators. The great Dan Balz reports:
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's trio of victories over Sen. Barack Obama last week appears to have convinced a sizable number of uncommitted Democratic superdelegates to wait until the end of the primaries and caucuses before picking a candidate, according to a survey by The Washington Post.
Many of the 80 uncommitted superdelegates who were contacted over the past several days said they are reluctant to override the clear will of voters. But if Clinton (N.Y.) and Obama (Ill.) are still seen as relatively close in the pledged, or elected, delegate count in June, many said, they will feel free to decide for themselves which of the candidates would make a stronger nominee to run against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the fall.
That can be critical. If superdelegates start asserting themselves, the Dem convention can turn into an old-time free-for-all, with much more excitement than cable television. I hope it happens, even though it would make the Dems look more interesting than they actually are.
BABY, IT IS IN FACT COLD OUTSIDE
Finally, global warming. The Telegraph of London has noticed there's a bit of a chill in the air:
Last week, virtually unreported in Britain, the extraordinary winter weather of 2008 elsewhere in the world continued. In the USA, there were blizzards as far south as Texas and Arkansas, while in northern states and Canada what they are calling "the winter from hell" has continued to break records going back in some cases to 1873. Meanwhile in Asia more details emerged of the catastrophe caused by the northern hemisphere's greatest snow cover since 1966.
Pay no attention. An aberration, that's all. The earth is warming. Al Gore says so, and this cold weather is just a technological stunt by Exxon Mobil.
The Telegraph also noticed a conference in New York:
It might have seemed timely that in New York an array of leading climatologists and other experts should have gathered for the most high-powered international conference yet to question the "consensus" on global warming. After three days of what the chairman called "the kind of free-spirited debate that is virtually absent from the global warming alarmist camp", the 500 delegates issued the Manhattan Declaration, stating that attempts by governments to reduce CO2 emissions would "markedly diminish further prosperity" while having "no appreciable impact" on the Earth's warming.
This is important stuff, and well worth reading. If we don't get this right, and stop listening to the zealots, we can wind up spending zillions of dollars and getting nothing for it.
I'm turning the heat up, and will be back later.
Posted on March 9, 2008.