Hillary Clinton

Bob Herbert Nails Reverend Wright

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In this Op Ed piece in The New York Times, Bob Herbert precisely nails Reverend Wright’s motivation for his current tour. It’s not all that typical that I agree with a majority of what Mr. Herbert has to say, but I admit freely that not only do I agree with every single word of this piece, I also agree with the tone and apparent plea/message embedded in it as well.

Ever since the teasers showing snippets of Reverend Wright’s interview with Bill Moyers were coming out last week, I’ve been saying non-stop that Wright’s feelings were hurt (by Obama, not by any other attacks) and that he’s decided to teach Obama a lesson.

Shame on him. He could just as easily have waited until November 5th, 2008, but then his vindictiveness wouldn’t have as much of a personal devastation on Obama himself. The fact that he’s dragging the hopes and dreams of the majority of African Americans down in the process seems to matter little to the oh so spiritual Reverend.

What once seemed impossible, the handing of the nomination to Hillary Clinton, even if she was well behind in pledged delegates and somewhat behind in the popular vote, now seems very realistic, thanks to the continued ravings of one angry Pastor…

I’m guessing that he could use a refresher course in the teachings of Jesus. He knows the words, he needs to recall how to live by them!

Professional Apologists

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Unless you live under a rock (and even then) you’ve heard/seen Hillary Clinton’s latest gaffe, regarding being shot at while in Bosnia in 1996. You can read the story from a professional news organization, on the off chance that you do live under a rock.

Nowadays, making a gaffe like that requires some sort of mea culpa, which Hillary most certainly did deliver (it’s in the above article, and you can judge for yourself whether it’s good enough). A single apology just isn’t good enough in today’s society. We need, or rather demand, constant apologies and explanations.

Since it would be unseemly for a candidate to appear to be constantly on the defensive, apologizing over and over for the same mistake, they generally have professional apologists, who run around to various news outlets, and explain (or rather defend) the gaffe and the candidate. While one can understand the reason, their stance often strains credulity.

Before I introduce the object of this specific post, let me share one of the more credible explanations of how Hillary came to mis-remember an incident like being shot at! One of her detractors was actually quite kind (and in my opinion quite sincere!) in saying the following (I’m paraphrasing heavily!):

Since 1996, Hillary has likely told this story hundreds of times, perhaps even thousands of times. Each time, it got just a little bit better, and became that much more ingrained in her psyche. By the end of these many tellings, she was getting shot at, possibly even believing it to the point where she could have easily passed a lie detector test!

Not terribly implausible, even though getting shot at isn’t something you’re all that likely to really forget. Especially, when you are reminded by a reporter that Sinbad repudiated your story, and you can’t back off even a little once your memory is jogged…

OK, back to today’s story. Last night, one of Hillary’s professional apologists was on TV, along with Retired Colonel Hunt. The apologist was Lanny Davis. Lanny is extremely intelligent, and generally extremely professional. By that I mean that he’s firm, but polite, rather than an attack dog (like some are).

Last night, he crossed two lines that he rarely crosses, which shows just how far the apologist part of their roles is supposed to go! First, he simply gave up all of his intelligence (and therefore his credibility) when he said the following:

A journalist traveling with Senator Clinton in 1996 in Bosnia wrote that there were snipers there to protect the group.

His (apparent) claim was that:

  • There were snipers there (a word Hillary might have used at one time!)
  • She was right to remember it as dangerous!

Let me back up. Colonel Hunt was there that trip as well. He was reporting directly to the commander in charge (an Admiral). He reported (before Lanny made the above comments) that there was a brigade of soldiers there. There were fighter jets patrolling the air. There were 40 tanks, and yes, there were sharp-shooters as well.

His conclusion (different than Lanny’s) was that Mrs. Clinton (she wasn’t a Senator at the time) was reasonably safe (as all of the videos clearly show), and that by dramatizing the event, she was insulting the soldiers that were there to ensure her safety (something they obviously did well).

I don’t agree that she was insulting them (in any way!), though I do agree that it could come across that way to someone who was charged with protecting her.

Lanny’s response seems to imply that because we (the American Army!) had snipers on the ground, Hillary was somehow correct in her recollection that she was under fire from snipers. Come on, this doesn’t even pass the remotest of smell tests, and it’s embarrassing to have him try to parse words to recharacterize her previous statements.

The second way that he disappointed last night was that he lost his cool (rare for him) and essentially called Colonel Hunt a liar (not exactly that straightforwardly, but in a cowardly back-handed way), for suggesting that Hillary was never fired upon. Huh? She too admits she wasn’t fired upon. Video proves she wasn’t fired upon, but somehow, Colonel Hunt is lying that she wasn’t fired upon (or that she didn’t honestly believe that she was!).

That would be bad enough, but it never ends badly enough with professional apologists! There is another tactic that is sickening (both sides do it, 100% of the time that they are apologizing for someone else). They try to use moral equivalences to soften the gaffe in question.

In other words, if he did something similar, and he’s still allowed to run, be in office, live, breathe, then why are we spending any time talking about my candidate’s problem?

It simply sickens me 100%, no matter who uses it. It’s one of the reasons that our society has fallen into such disrepair. If someone else does something wrong, that’s justification for us to do it too, no?

No!

But, when the moral equivalences simply don’t line up, it’s significantly worse. Many people correctly cited the lack of equivalence of Barack Obama comparing Reverend Wright’s statements with those of Geraldine Ferraro or his grandmother.

Lanny Davis crossed that line way worse last night. He actually had the nerve to liken McCain’s gaffe regarding Iranian training of Al Qaeda (as opposed to generic terrorists), which got corrected (by Joseph Lieberman, instantly!), with Hillary’s gaffe about getting shot at!

Wow! Mis-speaking in an impromptu interview, and being corrected (and accepting the correction immediately!) is equivalent to telling about something that supposedly happened directly to you, and then defying people when they claim that it didn’t happen (until the video comes out!) is equivalent?

No. What would be equivalent would be if it now came out that John McCain never spent any time as a prisoner of war. If, in fact, he mis-remembered the incident and now had to admit that, because definitive video just surfaced.

Shame on you Lanny Davis, and shame on all professional apologists, on both sides!

Presidential Candidates Three

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Disclaimer: There are no facts in this post. Everything below is my opinion only. I have made no attempt to find any supporting facts either, life is too short!

Whew, now that that’s out of the way, let me also say that everything I’m about say is also correct. 😉

I’m rushing this post out today, because as of next Tuesday, it’s possible that the title will no longer be accurate (unless at that point, you will be silly enough to count Ralph Nader). 😉

Apologies to Mike Huckabee for not crediting him with the courage to hang in there until he’s mathematically eliminated.

So, we’re down to three, Obama, Clinton and McCain.

I’m not writing this to promote any candidate, nor any party. I am writing this to make some claims on what a vote for each of these specific candidates means, whether you are considering that angle in making your decision or not!

For the record, I am not looking forward to the presidency of any of the remaining candidates. I am also not fearful of any of their presidencies, largely due to the broken (and nearly unfixable) political system that they will have to operate in.

So, without further ado, let’s analyze what we’re all getting if each of the candidates were to be elected this November.

Hillary Clinton: Given where she is at the moment, there are two ways that she gains office:

  1. Superdelegates over-ride the will of the people
  2. She wins Texas and Ohio, and momentum swings to her and she actually wins the nomination the old fashioned way

Along the way, she has proven to be far from cool and collected. She’s an emotional roller coaster who is flailing in an attempt to find a chink in Obama’s armor. She prefers to surround herself with a cabal of super strategists. Unfortunately, aside from their obvious errors in strategy, she simply can’t pull off their strategies, assuming some might have been workable.

As a President, she will be very strong willed, needing to prove to the world (and to Bill!) that she deserves the job. She will be unlikely to take compromising positions, because she will have been vindicated by the mere fact that she won!

She will undoubtedly have a Democratic congress (both houses), and she will ride them as hard as possible to create a legacy that matches, and even exceeds Bill’s.

For those who are worried that this will become a co-Presidency, don’t worry. Hillary has about as much respect for Bill as Paula Jones does. As long as she believes that she can use him as an asset, she will. Once she’s President, she won’t need him unless the world is falling down around her, in which case he will become one of the cabal that will craft the new strategy to save her presidency.

Since she can’t create a lasting personal legacy if people believe that Bill was really pulling the strings, she will do everything in her power to distance herself from him, once she actually has the real power!

Summary of Hillary Clinton as President? A very personal agenda, pushed hard, likely successfully, through a Democratic congress who is unlikely to stand up to her, no matter how she overcame Obama. If you agree with her agenda (and many do!), then she will make a very good President (in terms of getting her agenda implemented!).

Barack Obama: The good news is that if he is elected President, it won’t be because Hillary garnered more delegates legitimately, but Barack got the nomination due to a superdelegate reversal!

Obama is running on a platform of Hope and Change. Laudable goals indeed. My cynicism above about not being fearful of any of these candidates shows my agreement with Obama that we need change, desperately. I want change too, which means that I am (or should be!) hopeful.

In practically everything in life, I am a glass is half full kind of guy, no matter how awful the situation is. I can be downright cynical (no, really?), but I am also an eternal optimist (as anyone who knows me, in particular in bad times, will attest!). So, I should be very hopeful that Obama can and will make a meaningful difference in the political system if he gets elected.

While I would hope that he would, and would be pulling for him (big time!), I simply doubt it (one of the few times I’m falling on the glass is half empty side of the equation). The problem is too enormous, and the entrenched interests (on both sides) are too powerful (and, well, entrenched). They only need to wait him out, they don’t really need to beat him. He can’t be President for more than eight years, and if he doesn’t effect change, perhaps only four!

So, in order to get anything done, Obama will not be able to drive his agenda through congress (even though Democrats will control both houses!), like Hillary would. She would be playing the current game with all of the aplomb of a true insider, and she would get her way (I am 100% convinced). He will decry the game (or not be able to figure out how to play it without appearing to be a flip-flopper), and therefore won’t be able to implement his agenda of change!

So, who will be setting the agenda if Obama becomes President? Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. I have no doubt of that. They will pass bill after bill and present them to him for rubber stamp approval. They will privately explain to him how things are done, and that this is the first time in a very long time that they (collectively) can actually get the things done that they have wanted/needed to get done. He will not be able to resist or overcome them.

Perhaps that doesn’t scare you, and perhaps it shouldn’t. But, at least you should be aware that this is precisely what will happen if he’s elected, and now you are. 🙂

Summary of Barack Obama as President? A vote for Obama is a vote for Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. The real question is this? Is Obama naive enough to really believe his message, or is he clever enough to say what people are desperate to hear, just to get elected? Neither scenario is all that attractive to me. Since I think there is a reasonable chance that he will be our next President, I hope that I’m completely wrong. Notice, I used the code-word: hope, and I meant it!

John McCain: I can’t believe that he’s going to be the nominee. Not because I have anything particularly against him, but because he couldn’t have been deader at the end of his 2000 campaign. In fact, he could have been, as he was even deader than that up until the time he decided to embrace Bush at the Republican National Convention in 2004.

In fact, he was pretty dead early on in this race as well. There are a number of theories as to what caused his resurrection, a number of them revolving around Giuliani’s self-engineered demise, but one way or another, he’ll be the Republican nominee.

Should Republicans rejoice? Many aren’t. Should Democrats rejoice? Many should (because the alternatives to McCain should have scared them a lot more, other than his stance on Iraq).

Here’s why McCain scares me the least of the bunch (though remember, I’m really not fearful of any of them!). I believe that if you truly pine for the Clinton Years (1992-2000), whether you admit it publicly (which most Democrats do), or privately (as a fair number of Republicans probably do!), then you should be embracing McCain.

For all of his personal flaws (and heaven knows, he’s got more than his fair share of them), Bill Clinton was actually a reasonably good President (by my definition!). For sure, he screwed up certain things immeasurably, but I think even a perfect President will screw up many things. What made Bill a good President was that he was more concerned with getting something done, than with being an ideologue.

When he became President, he presided over two Democratic houses of congress. After a number of mis-steps (most notably, Hillary’s failed Health Care initiative!), Republicans swept both houses of congress for the first time in memory! In 1994, Bill had to decide whether to pass any legislation that would be good for the country, or battle endlessly with congress and hope that he was re-elected in 1996 and they weren’t.

He chose the pragmatic approach, and some good things happened. Many people credit him for the good economy we had for most of his administration. I laugh when I hear stuff like that, but at least he wasn’t an obstructionist who harmed the economy.

In my opinion, McCain would govern in the same pragmatic manner. It would not bother him one iota that the congress is controlled by Democrats. In fact, on some issues, he is more aligned with them, which, of course, is what scares many Republicans (conservatives) about him. To that, I say that he’s not an evil-doer, so wherever he’s aligned with the Democrats, we’d be better off getting something done, than more of the same bickering and ineptitude.

In that regard, I say that John McCain can easily be the next Bill Clinton. Of course, if you don’t think Bill was a good President, and it’s not for personal reasons, but policy ones, then you won’t like McMain either, because he’ll appropriately compromise (in my opinion), to make some progress rather than none.

Summary of John McCain as President? A get something done kind of guy, who will have zero problems reaching across the aisle, regardless of what he’s telling conservatives today, in order to get the job to begin with. That might sound distasteful, saying one thing, intending to do something else, but then that’s why I’m comparing him so strongly (and favorably) to Bill Clinton.

Feel free to let me know how wrong I am. But, keep in mind that I won’t be confused by facts. Remember, I didn’t use them to pound my opinion down your throat, so don’t feel the need to use them to pound yours down mine. 😉

P.S. Today, Michael Bloomberg penned an op-ed in The New York Times. It’s a well written, well-thought-out piece. I agree with his sentiments completely. I don’t consider him naive, because he isn’t claiming to be able to deliver on the hope of change. All he’s doing is committing to help get the person that he can believe in elected. Amen!

Also today, Dave Winer posted an MP3/podcast of an interview with George Lakoff. It’s overly long, and Dave does a yeoman’s job of trying to reel George back on track (not always successfully), but, it’s also fascinating throughout, even in the meanderings. So, if you have 40+ minutes to concentrate on it (it’s not lightweight listening, so don’t be reading a book while you’re listening), it’s filled with worthwhile nuggets of information and analysis.

The New York Times Makes Me Laugh

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I wanted to write about this immediately when I saw this last Friday. But, I really don’t write about politics per se, and my comments here have nothing to do with politics anyway.

But, since I just wrote a few minutes ago regarding Caroline Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama, I had little trouble convincing myself that this was in that same vein. 😉

So, last Friday, The NY Times endorsed Hillary Clinton in this op-ed. I don’t begrudge them their opinion (they even label it that 😉 ), but I do find some of their phrases amusing (to say the least). This is, after all, supposedly the paper of record. What a joke.

Tell me if you think the following sentence doesn’t make the editors of The New York Times sound like schoolgirls:

“The idea of the first African-American nominee of a major party also is exhilarating, and so is the prospect of the first woman nominee.”

Exhilarating? Really? No, wait, sorry, they too realized what an extremely silly thing to say that was, since they followed it up immediately with the next two sentences:

“‘Firstness’ is not a reason to choose. The times that false choice has been raised, more often by Mrs. Clinton, have tarnished the campaign.”

Ah, so, it tarnished her campaign to bring it up, yet you (the vaunted editors of The NY Times) couldn’t resist coloring it even further with the word exhilarating.

When I read that, I had an immediately exhilarating thought as well, some might even call it ironic. What if Condoleezza Rice were running for president. Would The NY Times editors be exhilarated at the thought of the first African-American Woman nominee? Let’s not waste too much time on that imponderable. 😉

Barack Obama Kennedy

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This past Sunday, Caroline Kennedy penned this editorial in The NY Times, endorsing Barack Obama for President. A day later, her uncle, Senator Edward/Ted Kennedy also endorsed Obama, and both appeared with the candidate.

This is not a blog about politics, nor is it likely to ever become that. This is a blog about things that interest me on a personal level, that I wish to document or comment on, mostly for my own amusement.

Comedy, irony, satire, etc., are very important aspects of my life, and that’s the only reason that I choose to comment on this particular endorsement.

For the most part, Caroline Kennedy waxes eloquently. I have little doubt that it is heart-felt. But, both she and her famous uncle felt the overwhelming need to add either code words or code phrases to their respective endorsements, to ensure that people would understand that they were going out of their way to differentiate between Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Ted’s was less complicated, when he told the crowd at American University: “I know that he’s ready to be President on day one.” This was specifically targeted at no one other than Hillary Clinton, who continues to claim that Obama simply isn’t ready, but she (of course) is.

Back to Caroline. Her endorsement is very historic, and I don’t discount that. Why then, in choosing her anti-Hillary code phrase, did she have to muck it up so badly with the following?

“And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.”

True or not (meaning, Obama’s position on Iraq, versus Hillary’s), it actually separates Obama from her father, rather than making him the second coming of JFK. I found it quite ironic.

There is little doubt that JFK inspired the masses. If his life hadn’t been tragically cut short, who knows what else he might have accomplished. That said, there is also little doubt that he was instrumental in plunging us into the Vietnam war. A war that so many are so quick to equate with the current Iraq war. Here is one take on JFK’s role in Vietnam (typos and all).

He also came desperately close to plunging us all into World War III, with his handling of the Bay of Pigs.

History is a harsh mistress. We are all (myself included) geniuses at this moment in time looking back at President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, and second guess it. Most Americans feel the same way about our involvement in Vietnam. That said, while many blame and deride Bush with ulterior motives, few would hold JFK’s motives up to that same harsh light. He simply acted in good faith, and things didn’t work out as planned.

So, in my opinion, Caroline should have avoided that specific line of thought…

I should stop now, I know that (deeply). That said, since this is about irony, I simply can’t help myself. I can’t help recalling, now that we’re remembering past presidents and comparing them to current candidates (and their spouses perhaps?), that JFK also shared some very strong traits with Bill Clinton. In particular, their well-known dalliances. JFK was lucky enough to live in a time when it was unseemly even to report such matters, let alone investigate them…

Now back to our more regularly scheduled musings. 😉