Has The Angry Right Handed McCain His Sister Souljah Opportunity? (Click to Enlarge)
The conventional wisdom is that Senator John McCain, now the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, has to go to CPAC and prostrate himself before "the base", confess his many sins of impurity and vow never to sin again.
Here's betting he doesn't do it. The angry Right, with its drama queen pronunciations that McCain is "unacceptable" has given the senator a rare opportunity to do himself and the country a world of good by telling them (sweetly, of course) to go stuff themselves.
After Tuesday, McCain will not need "the base" for a good half year. Oh, sure, it would be nice to have them not sniping at them constantly. But they'll get over it well before the convention rolls around as they start paying more attention to Hillbama.
And think about the media's reaction. Senator stands up to radical right. Denounces Ann Coulter as an agent of intolerance, urges her to go support Hillary. Gives out cards to the CPAC attendees with Obama's website address, says go jump off a cliff if it makes you happy.
It's been quite easy to see how unsuccessful the left blogosphere and left-wing radio have been. Even the Democrats know now that they're largely a paper tiger, able to raise money but not able to swing elections.
Perhaps it is time for the right blogosphere and right-wing radio to learn the same lesson.
The Romney campaign’s February 5th math is simple: move all the voters from the Huckabee pile onto theirs and claim a majority of conservatives. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple.
What do you mean, not simple? Just move the pile! Now note what's not said at all; what the Huckabee pile is going to receive in return; one suspects that it's the chance to help Mitt Romney over the hump. Now of course, it should come as no news to anybody that Mike Huckabee isn't interested in this game. He has on many occasions expressed his admiration for Senator McCain, and his disdain for Mitt Romney. What was the phrase the other day; that Mitt had just reached political puberty as a conservative?
Patrick Ruffini, who's one of the brightest minds in politics, looks at the polling data and sees little evidence that Romney will be successful in wooing the Huckabee fans:
There is a message in these returns to conservatives busy soldering together the coalition below decks: do not assume that just because they’re all pro-life, that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham speak for the social conservatives Romney needs next Tuesday. They don’t. Being pro-life and pro-marriage is not enough. To understand what Huckabee voters want, you need to actually appreciate what Mike Huckabee brings to the table, which is an emphasis on faith, undiluted. Many conservatives, particularly those around here, do not. While many of us agree on the social issues, the conservative establishment resented how he injected his religion into the campaign. Never have I seen conservatives so readily repeat the Barry Lynn/ACLU line on the “wall” between church and state.
Yes, indeed it was certainly instructive to see how few of the yakkers and bloggers are quite as Christian as they claim when faced with a real Christian Conservative who looked like he could win the nomination. The response was almost as hysterical as the reaction to John McCain. And believe me, the Christian Conservatives noticed, especially when it became obvious that the commentariat were pushing a Mormon as the "acceptable" candidate.
And who reached out the olive branch and said Mike Huckabee's a fine guy and would make a good candidate? Why, it was Michael Medved, also notable as the only major radio talker who supports John McCain. What an idiot Medved was, right? LOL. I get the feeling Michael Medved has played some chess in his life, and knows how to think more than one move ahead. As Ruffini notes:
Specifically, it seems to me that the conservative establishment’s decision to go nuclear first on Huckabee (who never had a shot but speaks for voters we need in November) before McCain (who always had a shot but speaks mostly for himself) will rank as a pretty serious strategic blunder.
McCain has also gone out of his way to be gracious to Huckabee. Now to a certain extent that was because their interests coincided; McCain needed Huckabee to knock off Romney in Iowa, and Huckabee needed McCain to knock off Romney in New Hampshire, so that the two of them could slug it out in South Carolina. But of course they didn't slug it out; instead they became friends. I keep saying this, but you cannot imagine the personal charm that John McCain has. Everybody who interacts with him likes him.
Many conservatives underestimate this. They attribute McCain's obvious popularity with the media as some sort of dastardly trick intended to lure us into nominating him, just so they can wheel out the "too temperamental" charge. I myself have said (wrongly) they like him because he can often be counted on to criticize other Republicans. But I have come to realize that they like him because they like him. He gives them access like they've never had at this level and stage of a campaign before.
And it permeates his style and his campaign. All the reporters talk about how if they have a question for the Senator on the bus or the plane, they just walk up to his seat and ask him.
He gives bloggers access like reporters probably dream they'd have with Obama or Hillary. I have participated in over a dozen blogger conference calls with the senator and have been able to ask a question in over half of those, including last Monday, before the vote in Florida.
You know when Mitt Romney had his first blogger conference call? Yesterday. Fred Thompson had one as well, just as his campaign was going down. But McCain's had them when he was up in the polls, when he was down in the polls, when he'd won a terrific victory and when he'd suffered a setback.
Are they being paid by Hugh Hewitt to come up with these oddball polls? Captain Ed links to the latest one, which purports to show Mitt Romney tied with John McCain nationally. It's just the thing Hewitt needs for his show on Monday and Tuesday, so he can convince people that Mitt's still got a chance. Of course, nothing will help on Wednesday, but I'm sure Hugh will find something in Utah or Massachusetts that points to Mitt Romney's inevitable victory.
Captain Ed indulges himself in a little hope. I like the guy a lot and he's not been like other Romney supporters, building Mitt up by tearing John down. But I had to smile a bit at this:
Almost all of the existing polling was taken before the debate and also before the big push from talk radio against McCain. No mechanisms will exist to measure the effect of the late developments in the race in each state, but Rasmussen and other daily tracking polls could give an indication of an overall trend that could relate at least directly to trends in each state.
Oh, so there was a "big push from talk radio against McCain"? You mean, as compared to the love affair that the yakkers have had with McCain for the last, oh, eight years or so?
But Rasmussen is starting to bother me, because they keep coming up with these oddball results that are not borne out on the ground. Look at their Florida polling, for example.
Out of the 22 times that other pollsters checked Florida 1/20 on, 5 polls showed Romney with the lead. There were 3 ties, and 16 times John McCain led. But compare that to Rasmussen. They polled Florida 4 times. Of those, 3 times Romney led, and once it was a tie.
That strikes me as rather odd. They've now had what appear to be a significant percentage of the poll outliers recently. I did check and that South Carolina oddball that had Huckabee winning by seven points was an ARG poll, not Rasmussen. Something to keep in mind though.
Update: Protein Wisdom has a post with the magic words:
Rasmussen also had good news for Romney from Missouri, where the latest numbers had John McCain narrowly on top at 32% followed by Mike Huckabee at 29% and Mitt Romney at 28% in the bellwether state.
Rasmussen is again the odd poll out. Then again Zogby is currently showing Romney in the lead in California, another oddball result. Remember, though that California isn't as big a prize as it might seem because it's not winner take all. If Romney were to win Cali by three points, it might translate into a net gain against McCain of 5-6 delegates.
Reagan’s pragmatism on taxes, amnesty, new federal programs and government expansion, was continued by both Bush I and II. In that regard, McCain seems a continuum, not an abject disconnect. His problem is mostly temperament — when he strayed he was blunt about what he was doing and sometimes gratuitously offended his base in a way that neither Reagan nor the Bushes dared. That is a legitimate concern of tactical aptitude, but not one so much of ideology.
Put another way, he delights in the battle of ideas and is not timid about expressing his opinions forcefully. That's something that Republicans might not enjoy when he's debating other Republicans. But just wait until he sticks his thumb in Hillary's eye; you'll be roaring with approval.
He didn’t start out the race as my preferred candidate and he’s never going to be my ideal president. He is, however, an honorable patriot who I trust to put the best interests of the country first. And he is, without any question, the most conservative person who can realistically take the oath of office next January 20.
On the Republican side, McCain, a veteran Arizona senator, had the backing of 43 percent of likely GOP primary voters in the state, compared with 20 percent for former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, 15 percent for former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and 4 percent for Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
You know, I really do think Mitt Romney should drop out and throw his support to Mike Huckabee. Oh, sorry, that's right. Huckabee's unacceptable too.
Update: Pat Hickey has a report from some friends who went to a McCain rally and his own experience with the Ronulans.
None of us know for sure what McCain experienced during his time as a POW. All we know is that he survived and came home while many other POWs did not. What was it about McCain that was different? Was it family heritage or was it his proclivity for compromising to get what he wants?
Ask Colonel Bud Day what John McCain endured, sleaze.
In fact, an article by investigative journalist Greg Szymanski depicts John McCain as no friend to POW families. While the article clearly has a Ron-Paul-like feel, Szymanski raises many questions about McCain’s classified POW files. McCain is now the Democrats’ darling Republican, but one must expect these questions will come to light should McCain become the GOP Presidential Candidate. Regardless, McCain should open his POW files in the interest of honesty, as well as to eliminate speculative controversy.
Oh, an article by investigative journalist Greg Szymanski? Let's examine some of the fine investigative journalism by Szymanksi:
The corrupt alternative media, including the GCN and RBN networks and American Free Press newspaper, should "be dismantled piece by piece" and new stations and print outlets allowed to emerge -- outlets not afraid to discuss the Vatican-led New World Order and its many tentacles like the Knights of Malta.
Yep, that's right. This fruitcake is such a nut that he thinks Ron Paul and Alex Jones are part of the New World Order!
I notice on RealClearPolitics that the Republican race is closer than the Democratic race, both in delegates and in the national poll.
Is anyone writing off Obama?
Should Republicans allow themselves to be stampeded by the MSM into accepting McCain as the winner before the race if over?
Denial is not just a river in Egypt. Let's look quickly at a couple of the February 5 contests. McCain leads by 12.5 points in New York, and 17.3 points in New Jersey. Both of those states are Winner-Take-All. McCain appears to have those states in hand, unless Mitt starts crying. New York has 101 delegates, while New Jersey offers 52, so that's an additional 153 delegates that are virtually in the bank. California has 173 delegates, but the state is not winner take all, rather candidates win delegates in each congressional district. McCain currently leads the polling in the Golden State by 32-24 over Romney, but that's with Giuliani in the race. If we assume rather arbitrarily that Guiliani's roughly 12% support goes half and half to those candidates (not much overlap in Giuliani's supporters and Huckabees), then McCain's at 38, Romney 30. Just on a proportional basis that would indicate McCain should get at least 66 delegates, quite probably more.
Missouri? McCain's up by 3.6 points in this winner take all contest with 58 delegates, and he's up over Huckabee; Romney's 7 back. In Georgia with 72 delegates, Huckabee's up 5.7 in the average, but the latest poll has McCain up by 11 over both Romney and the Huckster.
There are very few places where Romney is winning; looking now I can only see Massachusetts and Utah, and arguably Maine, although Ron Paul is strong there. So the news on Tuesday night is that Romney wins where he should win, while McCain wins the big prizes.
Oh, the irony. A group that was formed to save Bill Clinton from impeachment (and failed) is now trying to knockout Hillary Clinton (and will fail).
Today Barack Obama earned the endorsement of MoveOn, one of the largest grassroots membership organizations in the United States, after clobbering Hillary Clinton by 40 percent in Internet balloting. Obama led the final tally 70.4% to 29.6%, clearing the supermajority required for the endorsement. MoveOn, which has never endorsed a presidential candidate before, boasts that it has 1.7 million members in Super Tuesday states. The group has over half a million members in California alone – roughly one out of ten primary voters in Tuesday's largest state.
Ooooh, they have a big email list, and lots of members. And I'm going to make a rough guess that 70.4% of their members have already signed up with the Obama Campaign. So whom does it help?
That's not too hard to figure out. It helps Hillary, who dodges being smeared by association with the group that financed the infamous "Betray Us Petraeus" ad:
And if Obama somehow manages to defeat Hillary, then obviously it helps Senator John McCain, just as Ann Coulter's endorsement of Clinton helped McCain.
Okay, back to the more amusing stuff. The LA Times reports the shocking news that Ron Paul outraised all the other GOP candidates in the fourth quarter. Of course, anybody who knows anything knew that, what four weeks ago? You know back before people actually started voting?
Well, it's official, ladies and gentlemen. Believe it or not, Rep. Ron Paul, the 72-year-old Texan who hardly ever gets mentioned in Republican political news and the one-time libertarian who always gets the least time on TV debates if he isn't barred completely, was, in fact, the most successful Republican fundraiser in the last three months of 2007.
Now, of course, since New Year's Day, the news has not been so good for Dr Paul. Get these comments from the Ronulans:
Ron Paul was constitutional, when constitutional wasn't cool.
As a 42 yr old first time voter, and Ron Paul supporter,
I appreciate the refreshingly honest and fair article.
I'm sure it will be by far the most clicked on. :)
Posted by: Steve | February 01, 2008 at 02:50 AM
A 42-year-old first-time voter? Can you say, Loser?
As Ron Paul supporters have known since New Year's Day and BEFORE any REAL voting had even occurred, Ron Paul has raised more money than the rest in the 4th quarter & is spending it! $20 million in the 4th quarter. $3.5 million so far this quarter. And it was all from individual donations averaging less than $100. No PACs. Unlike the others he is beholding to nothing but the Constitution. Yet he has been ignored by the MSM! I wonder why?
Maybe because of his performance AFTER any REAL voting has occurred? The guy got 3% in Florida.
Mitt Romney's the only other Republican giving the race any attention, grasping for a positive headline among the drumbeat of McCain endorsements and wet kisses from newspaper edit boards. And, like in Nevada, some of the Paul organizers will be battle-hardened veterans of Iowa and New Hampshire. The level of love for McCain is closer to New Hampshire than to Nevada—McCain won 44 percent in the March 2000 Maine primary. But early reports from the Ron Paul Forums, from Paul supporters who've been hitting the caucus sites, suggest that Paul is headed for second place behind Romney. (Romney would much, much prefer McCain hit second place: For the narrative he wants, beating Paul is like running up the score in World of Warcraft.)
Sources familiar with Romney's plans said the ad buy would exceed $1 million in California alone, enough to give the former Massachusetts governor a presence in much of the state. Romney also was expected to spread some money around to some of the other 20 states holding GOP primaries or caucuses Tuesday, though experts question whether the late advertising would have any impact.
This endorsement will probably help McCain and hurt Hillary. But it hurts Ann most of all, because she's lost all credibility. I have two of her books (one up above). They're headed for the trash bin, as is her career.
Update: Jake Tapper, perhaps sensing how bad this could be for Hillary does a little comparison with McCain:
Factually, it's a ludicrous claim. On judges, abortion, same sex marriage, taxes, health care, the war in Iraq, and on and on…he's demonstrably more conservative.
Clinton's 2006 vote ratings from liberal groups: Americans for Democratic Action - 95%; ACLU - 83%; League of Conservation Voters - 71%.
Her 2006 ratings from conservative groups: National Taxpayers Union - 17%; Americans Conservative Union - 6%; Club for Growth - 8%; Family Research Council - 0%.
McCain's liberal group ratings: ADA - 15%; ACLU - 33%; LCV - 29%.
And conservative group: NTU - 88%; ACU - 65%; CFG - 76%; FRC - 62%.
Conservatives are also panning the latest Pantsuit Pachyderm:
Allahpundit: "The ne plus ultra of conservatives crapping away Iraq in a fit of spite at Maverick: “I think she would be stronger on the war on terrorism.” Madness."
Victor Davis Hanson: "If one studies carefully the Clintama answers on the war on terror, illegal immigration, and Iraq then the magnitude of Republican infighting seems surreal. The gulf between Hillary and McCain is Grand-Canyon like."
Hugh Hewitt: "If Ann Coulter's declares again that she'd campaign for Hillary at CPAC, she will be booed and rightly so."
I thought we'd established that Ann wasn't welcome at CPAC after her antics the last couple of years?
Beth at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy hits the ball on the screws: "And while Ann Coulter and her allies have been comfortably at their computers banging out their screeds and busy with self-promotion when they aren’t sitting at home watching American Idol, men and women have been risking their lives every single day overseas. What has Coulter or any of us had to sacrifice during the war? Nothing–while our military men and women risk everything, thousands paying the ultimate price. They deserve better. Supposedly pro-war “conservatives” like Coulter and her allies who would rather elect the defeatists? Not so much. Some clueless boob wrote the other day (I can’t remember where, sorry!) that he’ll “survive” a Clinton or Obama presidency. Well, duh. Of course these selfish creatures will “survive.” But I guess it doesn’t matter if others don’t survive, if you’re a selfish, small-minded, immature coward."
On the Republican side, John McCain appears in the middle of the GOP pack, as the 20th most-conservative senator, with no credible chance of being the “most conservative” (a rating that South Carolina’s Jim DeMint runs away with). McCain is, however, more conservative than GOP stalwarts like Orrin Hatch, Thad Cochran, Sam Brownback, and Lamar Alexander.
RINOS! Let's kick Sam Brownback out of the party! Of course, the real RINO here is Ann Coulter.
Update III: Another rating system ranks McCain as the 94th most liberal senator.
The one-night interviews from Jan. 30 -- with Giuliani out of the race -- show a substantial increase in McCain's support, suggesting his lead will likely expand in the coming days. Wednesday night's interviewing also was the first conducted following McCain's win Tuesday in Florida.
Better still is the news that Barack Obama is only four points down to Hillary. This indicates that the Democratic race will almost certainly not be decided on February 5, unlike the GOP contest. Which means McCain will be able to start campaigning and fundraising for the general election, a crucial advantage in what is still shaping up as a very difficult contest for the Republicans.
Republican Sens. Phil Gramm of Texas and Don Nickles of Oklahoma each gave tentative endorsements to Souter. But Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona expressed frustration that the President had nominated a low-profile judge, apparently to avoid the kind of blood bath triggered by the nomination of Bork.
"Any first-year law student would tell you his chance of an eventual appointment to the Supreme Court is directly related to the paucity of writing or speaking on controversial issues," McCain said acidly. "It gives us a largely unknown quantity in appointments to the bench."
I remember in 1976, as a 19-year-old in Pennsylvania working the polls for Reagan against the sitting Republican president, Gerald Ford, I was demeaned for supporting a candidate who was said to be an extremist B-actor who couldn’t win a general election, and opposing a sitting president.
Doesn't Levin seem like some character out of a Dickens novel? A Wackford Squeers, an angry old man who kicks dogs? I haven't listened to his show a lot, but he seems like a throwback to the conservatives who used to rail about how the country was going to hell in a handbasket. These days it's mostly liberals who are "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!"
And note, that I never talk about Rush or Hugh like this, so it's not just the anti-McCain nonsense. Rush and Hugh seem to enjoy life; Levin seems like someone who wakes up cranky at the sun.
Hilariously, he uses his column to talk about what a temper McCain has. I prefer to think of it as passion; the Senator is certainly Type A and not timid about expressing himself.
Sometimes we get caught up in the drama surrounding our candidates that we don't pay attention to what's happening in Left Blogistan. I didn't pay much attention to the drop-out of John Edwards, having long since discounted his chances. But the liberal bloggers were apparently on board with giving that poor girl a coat. Check out this poll at Kos:
As you can see, as late as a week ago, John Edwards still held the hearts and minds of the Kossacks, despite the rather obvious fact that he was hanging on by a thread. Yet another loss for the Progressosphere!
It looks like the Kos crowd has now decided to give their kiss of death to Barack. Over at the HuffnPuff, Bob Cesca declares it is time for the big libs to get off the fence. Let's see if you can figure out whom he wants them to support:
Last night's non-victory victory rally in Florida underscored everything that's awful and ridiculous about the Clinton-Clinton '08 style. They pledged not to campaign in Florida, yet they campaigned there anyway. The primary was unofficial and no delegates were counted, yet they celebrated with a televised victory rally anyway -- ostensibly to trick some casual viewers and supporters into thinking it was a meaningful win.
Meanwhile the cows at Moo-On are debating endorsing a candidate as well. But they're looking at an unrealistic hurdle:
MoveOn has never endorsed a candidate for President. Last cycle, it required a 50 percent threshold for its presidential endorsement, and Howard Dean fell 6 points short. But now MoveOn has raised the bar to 66 percent-- a supermajority that will be hard for either candidate to meet. MoveOn members were largely split between Obama, Edwards, Kucinich and Clinton during its three virtual town halls about public policy last year.
I suspect that the 66% requirement is a way of getting out of endorsing anybody. If you think the infighting among Republicans this cycle is bitter, you should see what's going on with the Donks. The Clintonistas are absolutely furious at Obama, while the Obama Mamas are irate at Hillary (and Bill).
Thanks Bubba! Bill Clinton 'fesses up that Hillary wants to slow down the economy to fight global warming.
In a long, and interesting speech, he characterized what the U.S. and other industrialized nations need to do to combat global warming this way: "We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren."
At a time that the nation is worried about a recession is that really the characterization his wife would want him making? "Slow down our economy"?
I've moderated my views on the topic of global warming. It certainly does not hurt to do what we can to reduce emissions. But I want to do the cheap stuff (replacing incandescent light bulbs, for example, before we start slowing down the economy, which would be very expensive.
Mitt Romney's decision not to purchase advertising in Super Tuesday states is a very good sign for the campaign. It shows that Mitt is confident he can win those states without spending any more of his personal fortune. I hope that you are all contributing your hard-earned dollars to Mitt's campaign because he really needs to pay back the money he owes himself.
Talk radio will continue to propel Romney to victory after victory. If Mitt wins every Super Tuesday state by 10 points, I have done calculations that show he will only be one hundred delegates shy of the total needed.
Update: Even better news! Mitt is now talking about running ads in California. I now expect Romney to win every congressional district in California and sweep to victory. Of course, I expected that even without the ads, but this shows that he's committed to winning.
A horrible thought. Rudy gave up on the state in mid-December; as of December 12 or so, he and McCain were both pulling around 18%. A week later Giuliani was off 4-5 points and Maverick was in the mid-20s. Which came first, the retreat or the decline? He couldn’t have won the state but a harder — and smarter — retail campaign up to primary day could theoretically have kept him in the high teens instead of the 8.5 percent margin he finished with. Maverick’s margin of victory? Only 5.5 percent. If Romney wins New Hampshire, McCain is done, in much the same way that Huckabee was effectively done after South Carolina. Fred finished him off by sucking away enough social cons there to let McCain squeak through. Giuliani could, quite possibly, have performed the same feat for Romney up north.
Yes, but everybody and his brother except for Mitt Romney's campaign wanted McCain to win in New Hampshire. Mitt wins NH, wins Michigan and rolls into South Carolina with lots of momentum. Why didn't Giuliani do what it took to help Mitt? For starters because he likes McCain and doesn't like Romney. How many times do I have to mention that? This is not freaking Survivor here, where you cheat and backstab people you have never met before and will probably never meet again.
Some Folks Won't Be Donning the Pantsuit--Updated!
While quite a portion of the righty blogosphere is doing the equivalent of holding their breath until they turn blue, there are some admirable folks behaving like adults.
First up is Ms Falconer's Cabana Boy over at the L-Dotters blog. I have been a member of Lucianne.com since at least 2000 and can often remember coming across his interesting nickname and his intelligent thoughts in the comments. He's been battling the "I'll choke before I vote for McCain" element over there, with about the same success I've had.
I would ask my fellow McCain supporters to resist the urge to stick it to all the folks who have been on the wrong side of the ballot tonight and keep working hard at getting our guy elected. There's a difference between sticking up for your guy and taunting the opposition. I hope we can keep that in mind.
I confess, I have not always been good at that, but I'm going to make a sincere effort.
Update: Mrs G has always seemed more sensible than many of the commenters over there. This evening she has a picture on the front page of John McCain with the words, "Argue it round or argue it flat....looks like John is where it's at. Thanks, Lucianne!
For me, it came down to three choices, made on three critical fronts: McCain’s decision to side with President Bush on the surge, with President Bush on Alito and Roberts, and against President Bush on the largest entitlement in the history of America. In each of these areas, we were and are agreed—and in each, McCain displayed the courage and patriotism he has always possessed—the strength of character to do what he believed was right, regardless of whether it was popular.
It's good to see Ben back blogging again. I was critical of him a couple years ago when he got caught plagiarizing, but he's a solid, young, intelligent conservative with some genuine writing skill, as this piece shows.
I heard two examples of it this evening - one from my friend Hugh Hewitt, whose rage against McCain today on Wolf Blitzer's CNN show made the hair curl on my bald head and later, on the Larry Elder Show, I listened in as a woman caller excoriated McCain as no war hero even though she knew the Senator had spent five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, was tortured, had his bones broken yet stayed with the other troops when offered a chance to leave, etc. Even Elder was appalled at the woman, though Larry is no McCain supporter.
Hewitt's a great entertainer, but he's clearly not learned the lesson: That you cannot lead people where they don't already want to go.
Nader said he filed papers with the Federal Election Commission and launched a Web site after Dennis Kucinich, a liberal Ohio congressman, announced his decision to withdraw from the presidential race last week.
He was set to announce that he had formed an exploratory committee Wednesday, even before former Sen. John Edwards made it known that he'd be ending his candidacy. But with Edwards — who has made economic populism and ending poverty cornerstones of his campaign — leaving the Democratic field, Nader said, he feels his candidacy is more urgent than ever.
Okay, it's almost time to turn our attention away from the primary elections and focus on the general. And just in time, Rasmussen Reports has a very encouraging poll result:
The latest Rasmussen Reports survey of Election 2008 shows Republican frontrunner Senator John McCain with single-digit leads over Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. McCain now leads Clinton 48% to 40%. He leads Barack Obama 47% to 41%.
Update: For all those conspiracy theorists in the Republican Party who think the NY Times endorsement of McCain was part of some plot (while Bill Clinton was just being honest when he said that Hillary and McCain are good buds), check out uber-lib blogger Chris Bower's take:
I had been cheering for Romney, largely because McCain is tied with Clinton and Obama, while right now Romney loses to Obama by 17.0% , and Clinton by 12.4%.
Well, you know, he was tied with Hillary and Obama; now he's ahead.
It probably wasn't needed, but if Rudy Giuliani needed any extra motivation to enlist in John McCain's presidential campaign -- and thus probably hinder Mitt Romney's bid for the Republican nomination -- he got it Tuesday night.
Faced with his distant third-place finish in the Florida primary that he spent the last two months -- to the exclusion of virtually any other campaigning -- trying to win, Giuliani appeared before his supporters in the state to deliver what obviously was going to be his swan song. All the cable news networks were broadcasting it. And then Romney stepped on his message.
Giuliani was about two-thirds or so through his remarks, reaching the part where he would sum up what he had tried to accomplish in his White House quest, when Romney, the night's second-place finisher to McCain, began giving his concession speech to his backers. The cable stations cut to him -- Giuliani, after all, had collapsed as a viable candidate, while Romney clearly was still in the fight.
Smells like victory. Now, I know that there are lots of people out there telling you that it's not over, that there's still a way to derail the Straight Talk Express. I'm here to tell you they're whistling past the graveyard, digging for the pony, looking for the silver lining.
But it's true. When the campaign comes here to Massachusetts on February 5th, I'll proudly cast my vote for any option on the GOP ballot other than You-Know-Who. But it will be a futile gesture. Mr. "1/3rd Of The GOP Primary Vote" is going to be the nominee.
Sour grapes only give you acid reflux.
As I noted in an email to some friends, Mitt is going to take a long, hard look at his chances and decide to bail. His pockets aren't deep enough to get him over the hump in the big winner take all states next Tuesday. He's way, way down in New York and New Jersey, even before we factor in the likely endorsement of McCain by Giuliani, or the bounce the Senator gets from Florida. In California Romney's more competitive, but it's not WTA; it's congressional district by congressional district. I do predict smashing wins by Romney in Utah and Massachusetts next week.
Some are sifting through the tea leaves in Florida, trying to claim that some nefarious schemers allowed independents to vote in the Sunshine State. Captain Ed does a good job of debunking that theory.
Okay, I gotta gloat a bit. I backed the winner, the winner came through. It wasn't exactly like the New England Patriots' season, but we'll take getting to the Super Bowl. And don't kid yourself, it's over.
Let's see, when did I endorse Senator John McCain, the Next President of the United States of America? Oh, I remember it was about 420 days ago:
I do not make this decision lightly. Many of my friends in the center-right blogosphere despise John McCain, and I myself have been quite acerbic about some of the things he's done in the last six years.
There are two ways to interpret the election results from Tuesday. One is that many conservatives, feeling betrayed by the Bush administration on their pet issues, stayed home to teach the Republicans a lesson. The other is that moderates abandoned the party. My feeling is it was a little bit of both.
But we really don't have the time to figure it out. The presidential election of 2008 is already imminent. I have very little doubt about whom the Democrats will nominate, and it ain't Tom Vilsack. The results on Tuesday virtually guarantee that if Hillary wins, she will have a Democratic congress as well.
This election is too important to blow. We cannot nominate someone that the right wing of the party will support whole-heartedly in the twin hopes that:
1. They will come out and vote. 2. They will more than offset any votes lost in the center.
Wow! Sometimes I do hit the bullseye.
I won't deny that there were times when I despaired of my guy's chances. But I sensed something was happening in early November:
I know I'm virtually alone in feeling this way, but I have an inkling that events are working out well for John McCain. Fred Thompson seems to be struggling; the other day he had to beg for applause for one of his speeches. If the race boils down to Giuliani and McCain, I like John's chances.
By early December the pieces started coming into focus on the board, and all of a sudden I started to see how things would unfold:
Remember the old bumper snicker from 2004: Dated Dean, Married Kerry? That's what's going on here, and you can see it in Fred Thompson as well. The Republicans are doing everything they can to avoid marrying the logical candidate, John McCain. They want to be swept off their feet, and so they swoon at the new face. Fred, of course, has turned out to not be the man of their dreams and so they're flirting with the next beau. But inevitably Huck turns out to have feet of clay as well.
I'm not saying that the rise of Huck is good for McCain. It certainly indicates that even at this late date, the Republicans are looking around for dessert rather than eating their peas. But it's even worse news for guys like Thompson and Romney. Huckabee's not going to be the nominee, but he could help trim the field a little.
So okay, I did kinda get that right. I only wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that John McCain had no chance of winning the Republican nomination.
Even before Iowa what did I say?
Much as I'd like to attribute it to factors within the campaign, I doubt that would have been sufficient if the party in general had not started coming back to McCain. He was right on the biggest issue of 2007, the surge in Iraq, and he was right early. If that had not worked, no amount of bus rides and phone calls to local talk show hosts would have turned the campaign around.
I'd call that dead on the money. I made my next prediction over at the JREF forum:
Huckabee and Fred Thompson realistically have very little chance at the nomination, although Huckabee's got a decent shot to take Iowa. Thompson has shown none of the "fire in the belly" that a person needs to win the presidency; his campaign peaked before he actually entered the race. Huckabee's constituency, the Christian conservatives, are an important segment of the Republican party but they are not large enough to get Huck the win once a few of the other candidates drop out.
Romney's biggest advantage is his personal wealth; unlike the other candidates he has a credible operation in every state and could sweep the board if he gets an early win or two in Iowa and New Hampshire. But if he fails to win those states, he'll be in trouble because his campaign depends on that aura of inevitability.
McCain is still in the running; he needs Huckabee to win in Iowa and to pull off the upset himself in New Hampshire; either is eminently possible. McCain's big edge is the same as Edwards: Electability. Polls consistently show him doing better than any of the other GOP candidates in a head-to-head matchup against Hillary, Obama or Edwards.
And of course, after that I got quite prescient indeed, with the possible exception of Michigan.
So you have a choice in life; you can listen to El Rushbo, or any of the other drive-along media who told you John McCain didn't have a chance. Hey, I listen to them, too because they're entertaining.
But if you really want to know what's going on? I've got my finger on the pulse of America's politics.
She channels Chuck Norris for us, but where Chuck believed that each year as a president ages a person three years, Anna ups the stakes:
Here's my unscientific theory about the presidency: it ages a person in dog years. Each year in office is roughly equivalent to seven years in the life of an ordinary citizen.
Well, of course she's using this measuring stick to beat John McCain with, but does she really want it applied, say, to Hillary Clinton? Using Anna's aging formula, the Hillster would be 89 after her first term. Even the relatively youthful Barack Obama would be 103 after two terms. 103!
And the notion that presidents age extraordinarily while in office buts up against reality. Ronald Reagan was 93 when he died. George HW Bush is still alive at 83, as is Jimmy Carter. Gerry Ford had only a short presidency, but he was 93 when he passed into the great beyond. Richard Nixon died at 81. LBJ died fairly young at 65, but Dwight Eisenhower made it to his 78th birthday. Harry Truman lived to 88. FDR died at 63, but Hoover survived to 90. (Note: Kennedy is obviously not relevant to the issue.)
Presidents as a rule live longer than other people. Yes, they probably have better medical care than you or I, but you can see the problem; if you buy Quindlen or Norris' calculation you're arguing that they would have lived even longer had they not been president--Ronald Reagan to 149 (!). I think the myth that they age greatly while in office is caused by juxtaposing carefully posed and made-up campaign photos with unflattering photos chosen for this purpose.
Time's Mark Halperin notices that, while Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton -- and, within a few hours, even John Edwards -- are running ads in February 5 states, Romney and other Republican hopefuls are not. While John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are probably out of money, Romney, as he has done throughout the year, can write himself a check.
But instead of getting a head start on his rivals, Romney remains dark in Super Tuesday states. Campaign spokesman Kevin Madden says the campaign is going according to plan, though. "It's our goal to be competitive in all these early states," he says. "You can make the case that you have a growing level of momentum" heading into February 5.
Romney is an astute businessman, and one of the first rules of business is that you don't throw good money after bad.
My prediction is that McCain wins by about five points. I feel much more confident today than I did last Saturday, before South Carolina.
Can McCain deliver the knockout tonight? RCP only shows him with a slight advantage over Wallet Mitty in seven of the last ten polls, with one tie. Don't kid yourselves, folks, if Romney loses tonight by one dangling chad, it's all over. Looking ahead to the big February 5 bonanza of delegates, McCain is up by 8.9% in California, by 9.2% in New York (over Giuliani; Mitt's down 19 points in the Empire State), and by 3.0 in my home state of New Jersey, with Mitt again trailing Giuliani.
Zogby currently shows McCain with a four point lead, just outside the margin of error. Of course, Zogby doesn't exactly have the greatest credibility, given the problems he's had in the past, but this poll seems to fit the pattern.
“Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal. Senator Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard. Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act to name a few. Women have buried their anger that his support for the compromises in No Child Left Behind and the Medicare bogus drug benefit brought us the passage of these flawed bills. We have thanked him for his ardent support of many civil rights bills, BUT women are always waiting in the wings.
Why do I suspect that the word "Kopechne" appeared in the first draft of this press release (from Marcia Pappas the head of the NY chapter of NOW). Apparently Pappas is no stranger to hyperbole; check out this report on Hillary's "gang rape" by her fellow Democrats:
Then there was that movie where Jodie Foster portrayed the true story of woman who was ganged raped in a bar while others looked on and encouraged the realization. Still others pretended the rape didn't happen. In short, gang raping of women is commonplace in our culture both physically and metaphorically.
This past week, we witnessed just such a phenomenon involving men who are afraid of a powerful woman. Hillary Clinton, in her quest for her Presidential nomination, has in fact endured infantile taunting and wildly inappropriate commentary. Indeed we have witnessed almost comical attacks by John Edwards who in turn sided with Barak Obama as both snickered at Clinton's "breakdown," which consisted of a very short dewy-eyed moment. Now John Kerry, who should certainly know better after his own "swiftboating," has joined the playground gang.
Senator McCain started out by expressing his astonishment at the John Fund column today which claimed that he would not appoint a Supreme Court Justice like Samuel Alito. He pointed out that he was an early and enthusiastic backer of Alito and that his support may have been crucial with only 57 votes to confirm in the Senate. He joked that he probably shouldn't talk about cloning Alito and Roberts given the other issues that raises, but he would be looking for judges cut from the same cloth.
I got one of the early questions today and I asked him about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. This issue has come up several times recently and as a long-time supporter of the Swiftees I wanted to confirm that he revised and extended his remarks after the first ad, which he quite clearly did not appreciate. He stated that his objection was solely to the focus on Kerry's combat record, and that when they moved on to the antiwar activities that Kerry engaged in after Vietnam, he felt that was fair game. This is a reasonable point, and one that we mostly tried to stick to ourselves at the Kerry Haters blog (although once the can of worms was opened it was impossible not to take a peek inside).
Update: Here's the first Swift Boat Vets ad:
As you can see, it is very much focused on his service in Vietnam. Now let me stress here that many of us, myself included, deliberately tried to ignore his Vietnam service in analyzing John Kerry. We didn't really want to get into whether he earned this medal or that medal, because he had been there and we hadn't. The same did not apply to the Swiftees, and I felt they very much had strong cases on several of the incidents for which Kerry received awards. But if you remember, the story that really took hold was Christmas in Cambodia, which was not mentioned in that ad, but was mentioned in the first released chapter of Unfit for Command
So let's take a look at a later ad, after the POWs had joined up with the Swiftees:
As you can see, the focus is on the testimony and the antiwar activities.
Although, as I have said in the past, Senator McCain seems the same when he's down in the polls as when (now) he's up, he did brighten noticeably when the topic came up of President Bush instructing federal agencies to ignore earmarks that have been added in conference reports. This was very clearly something that pleased him as much if not more than his personal victories in South Carolina and New Hampshire.
I also loved his response when somebody asked him about Rudy Giuliani's campaign, which apparently made an issue out of the New York Times endorsement of McCain rather than hizzoner. He replied that he was happy they agree with him, but he doesn't agree with them.
I got a moment with John McCain, after an airport rally here in Orlando, to ask him about a report today by John Fund quoting some unnamed conservatives quoting McCain to the effect that, in Fund's words, "[McCain] would be happy to appoint the likes of Chief Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court. But he indicated he might draw the line on a Samuel Alito, because 'he wore his conservatism on his sleeve.'"
"Let me just look you in the eye," McCain told me. "I've said a thousand times on this campaign trail, I've said as often as I can, that I want to find clones of Alito and Roberts. I worked as hard as anybody to get them confirmed. I look you in the eye and tell you I've said a thousand times that I wanted Alito and Roberts. I have told anybody who will listen. I flat-out tell you I will have people as close to Roberts and Alito [as possible], and I am proud of my record of working to get them confirmed, and people who worked to get them confirmed will tell you how hard I worked."
Update: See also Professor Bainbridge and Just One Minute for quotes from McCain at the time. As Tom puts it, if McCain's changed his mind on Alito, it's in the last couple of days.
John McCain has just had a heck of a week. He's peaking at the right time in Florida, perhaps just in time to come away Tuesday evening with the Sunshine State's 57 convention delegates as well as momentum into Super Tuesday, just a week after Florida's primary.
In boxing, when a fighter flurries at the end of a round he may win it even if he hadn't been the best up to the flurry. It's called stealing a round. Bad name, but a legit strategy. If you're susceptible to sports metaphors, as I am, this may be the way you see the last few days for McCain.
Except that the trend has been fairly steady for McCain over the last month or so, with only an occasional bump in the road. Look at his chart at InTrade:
Aside from the dip after Michigan, it's been pretty much a steady climb.
Looks like Florida is about to get on the bus! Rasmussen, which only yesterday had Romney up by six, today reports the race dead even, and that's the worst news for McCain. Almost all the other pollsters show McCain up a couple points.
Bill Clinton attempted to sandbag McCain by talking about how much Hillary and he like each other; Drudge kept it on his front page all weekend (in his continuing effort to prop up Romney).
I seem to recall, however, from one of the debates earlier this year, Mr. McCain making reference to Senator Clinton's attempt to spend $1 million of taxpayer money on a Woodstock Concert Museum to honor what McCain called a "cultural and pharmaceutical event." His good-natured mockery of the Woodstock Concert ended with, perhaps, the most memorable line uttered by any candidate so far this year:
"I wasn't there. I was tied up at the time."
In fact, Bill does not want McCain to be the Republican nominee, because he knows McCain would school Hillary in any foreign policy/defense debate. I'm not guaranteeing a win in the general election; prospects are mediocre at best for any Republican candidate in this atmosphere. But McCain has the best chance of winning as John Hinderaker notes today:
Barring a surprise in Florida, Republican primary voters and caucus-goers on mega-Tuesday will face a stark but classic political choice: do they go with Romney, whose views across a broad range of issues are more palatable to conservatives and whose economic expertise may be badly needed, or with McCain, who seems pretty clearly more likely to prevent the Clintons from re-inhabiting the White House? It's not an easy choice. We'll have more to say about it in due course.
Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a key fundraiser for Gov. Blagojevich and other Illinois politicians, was arrested early today by federal agents after prosecutors alleged he had violated terms of the bond in his fraud case.
“Tony Rezko was arrested without incident at his home in Wilmette,” FBI spokesman Tom Simon said. “It was pursuant to a warrant issued following a government motion to revoke his bond.”
This is perfect timing for Hillary, to suck the wind out of Obama's sails.
New Term of the Day: Clinton Disillusionment Syndrome
In the comedy western, Rustler's Rhapsody, Tom Berenger is betrayed at a crucial moment by Patrick Wayne. Tom yells, "Hey! You're not a good guy after all!", to which Wayne replies, "I'm a lawyer, you idiot!" The message is clear that Tom (and the audience) should have known all along he was a villain.
That's how I feel about the sudden yelps from those liberals who are supporting Barack Obama. Jonathan Chait dares to ponder the unthinkable: Is the Right Right On the Clintons?
The sentiment seems to be concentrated among Barack Obama supporters. Going into the campaign, most of us liked Hillary Clinton just fine, but the fact that tens of millions of Americans are seized with irrational loathing for her suggested that she might not be a good Democratic nominee. But now that loathing seems a lot less irrational. We're not frothing Clinton haters like ... well, name pretty much any conservative. We just really wish they'd go away.
Well, I am shocked that this is appearing most among Barack supporters; I can't imagine why they don't understand what fine and good people Bill and Hillary are, and how lucky we are to have them around. Fortunately for liberal fans, Chait concludes that the Right was mostly wrong, but right about their character:
But the conservatives might have had a point about the Clintons' character. Bill's affair with Monica Lewinsky jeopardized the whole progressive project for momentary pleasure. The Clintons gleefully triangulated the Democrats in Congress to boost his approval rating. They do seem to have a feeling of entitlement to power.
Kevin Drum gets upset at the Clintons playing the race card (by noting that Jesse Jackson won South Carolina, too).
But that said, enough's enough. I don't like dog whistle racial appeals when Republicans do it, and I don't like it when Bill Clinton does it. (And unlike Hillary's MLK/LBJ remark, which was idiotically mischaracterized, don't even try to pretend that this was an innocent remark. We're not children here.) Yes, Obama has to be able to handle this kind of sewage, and yes, this will almost certainly be forgiven and forgotten among Democrats by November. But it's not November yet, is it? My primary is a week from Tuesday, and I'm not feeling very disposed to reward this kind of behavior. At this point, it's looking a lot more likely that I'm going to vote for Obama.
My goodness, Hillary hasn't a chance in California, now that Kevin Drum has come out against her!
Of course, it remains possible — perhaps even probable — that Left-liberals would rally to the Clintons again, should she win the nomination and even the general election. But I would still suggest that at the margins, this campaign, in this political environment, has forced Left-liberals to see the Clintons in a way that erodes the intensity of support they enjoyed in the 1990s. The scales have fallen.
I'm not quite that optimistic. During this primary season, both Democrats and Republicans see supposed chasms between the candidates within their party, but the moment the nomination fight is over they see the very real Grand Canyon between them and the other party's nominee. And the convention will have a lot of rousing speeches and suddenly they'll be fired up to win.
I confess I have not kept up with that site for awhile, but they have certainly abandoned moderation. Check out this post:
What angered me about Joe Lieberman’s Independent bid in 2006 more than anything else was his decision to entertain such an option only after losing the Democratic Primary.
He decided that he would play by the rules of the Democratic Party and ask to be their nominee for the Senate. He insisted that he was a Democrat and that he wanted their blessing in his run for the Senate.
When he failed to achieve that, he turned around and insisted that he didn’t need the Democratic blessing in the first place. In essence, he changed the rules midstream. Why didn’t he just run as an Independent from the beginning and cut through the pretense of representing the Democratic Party? The answer: because he only cared about winning. Had he declared himself an Independent in the very beginning he might have alienated enough older, loyal Democrats and lost the seat to the Democratic Primary winner.
Even more hilarious, when I called him out on his bashing of Lieberman, he replied in the comments:
He's a neocon through and through, not a moderate.
Say what? A neocon? As I replied, he clearly does not have a clue as to what a neocon is. Instead, he uses in in that ridiculous way that left-liberals do, as a shorthand for anybody who supports the war in Iraq (especially if they're Jewish). Joe Lieberman should be the kind of candidate that the Moderate Voice supports. His career rating from the American Conservative Union is 16.8, which marks him as pretty liberal on most issues. It's very comparable to Joe Biden (13.4), and more liberal than Blanche Lincoln (20.1) or Mark Pryor (23.5) or Evan Bayh (20.8).
MR. ROMNEY: Well, there's no question but that — the president and Prime Minister al-Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about. But those shouldn't be for public pronouncement. You don't want the enemy to understand how long they have to wait in the weeds until you're going to be gone. You want to have a series of things you want to see accomplished in terms of the strength of the Iraqi military and the Iraqi police, and the leadership of the Iraqi government.
In addition, I think it's indisputable that, at the time, McCain's Republican rivals supported the surge but were also happy that it was McCain who was all the way out on the limb. Last February, someone in the Romney camp told me that yes, Romney supported the surge, but that "McCain owns the surge." The implication was that if things didn't go well, McCain would be the one to suffer; the other guys would be OK precisely because they didn't put it all on the line for the surge.
In a major campaign coup, presidential candidate John McCain just gained the endorsement of one of the most popular political figures in Florida: Gov. Charlie Crist.
Crist praised McCain as a ''true American hero'' at the Lincoln Day Dinner here and said he decided to endorse him after ``thinking about it a lot.''
The endorsement from a governor with an approval rating that hovers near 70 percent could prove to be a crucial factor in persuading the 13 percent of undecided Republicans to vote for McCain on Tuesday.
At Real Clear Politics' poll page, the race is shown as a dead heat. But is it really? Remember, probably half the voters have already voted. Giuliani probably has a slight lead among those, with McCain in second and Mitt probably a distant third. So the tie now is just among those who have not voted.