Archive for the ‘Would-Be Presidents’ Category

Gore running?

Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-FL) thinks there’s a good chance

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In yet another exercise in political suicide, the Republicans seem to be conceding the Hispanic vote to the Dems this election cycle.  With the exception of John McCain, all of the Republican candidates are encountering “scheduling” conflicts on the date of the Spanish language Univision debate. 

 Here’s Kos

What’s obviously happening is that they don’t want to piss off the xenophobic nativist Right, where “speaking Spanish” equals the collapse of Western civilization. But as Rove has always known, the Latino vote growing in size and influence, and if it becomes a reliable Democratic constituency (like African American and Jewish voters), the GOP is screwed for generations.

So as a partisan Latino Democrat, I say to the GOP — thanks! Your actions speak louder to my community than my words ever would.

I get the strategy of appealing to the “nativist” vote but seriously where else are the “nativists” going to go? 

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In The Political Brain•, Westen mentions that the Republicans are remarkably good at making their values appear to be the values of the majority of Americans when it comes to controversial issues, even though the polls consistently show that the Democratic positions are actually more similar. This is due to two things, Westen says. First, Democrats shy away from “controversial” issues, like abortion, guns, etc. because they are too worried about offending anybody, and by refusing to lay out a coherent, principled Democratic narrative on guns or reproductive rights or the environment or whatever, they allow Republicans to define the Democratic position in the public’s mind for them. Then, in the absence of any counter-narrative from the Dems, voters take Republicans at their word. They fail to realize the extremity of the Republican position on these issues (the official position on the Republican Party is that abortion should be outlawed in ALL circumstances, even those that are life-or-death for the mother, and that there should be absolutely no restrictions on gun purchases) while maintaining an exaggerated belief in the extremity of the Democratic position.

A good examples of this dichotomy, I think, is with birth control. Ninety-eight percent of women of reproductive age have used one or more methods of birth control, generally the pill or condoms. Things used by nearly all American women at some point in their lives cannot, by definition, be radical.

Although the RNC platform lists no specifics about birth control, Bush’s funding of abstinence only programs not just for teens but for low-income women and global health centers belies an administration that is obviously not to keen on condoms or birth control pills. Yet Bush has refused to ever specify his exact position on these. Why? Because it is at odds with all but 2 percent of American women.

And yet the Democrats rarely bring this up (when I say Democrats, I mean party leadership and politicians, as opposed to, say, left-wing bloggers, who bring this up all the time). Afraid of appearing soft on sex, Democrats fail to point out the extremity of the Republican position on contraception while simultaneously failing to put forth their own coherent narrative on the issue, which means Republicans can continue to get away with convincing voters that they represent the “middle class,” the “mainstream,” the “family values” position when it comes to family planning.

An excellent article in the Baltimore Sun today examines the way Mitt Romney and other Repub candidates have been speaking out of both sides of their mouths on birth control:

At National Right to Life’s conference this year, Mitt Romney set out to convince anti-abortion leaders he was their candidate. At the podium, he rattled off his qualifications. To a layman’s ears, it sounded pretty standard for abortion politics. He wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. He supports teaching only abstinence to teens.

But for those trained to hear the subtleties, Mr. Romney was acknowledging something more. He implied an opposition to the birth control pill and a willingness to join in their efforts to scale back access to contraception. There are code phrases to listen for – and for those keeping score, Mr. Romney nailed each one.

One code phrase is: “I fought to define life as beginning at conception rather than at the time of implantation.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines pregnancy as starting at implantation, the first moment a pregnancy can be known. Anti-abortion advocates want pregnancy to start at the unknown moment sperm and egg meet: fertilization. They’d also like you to believe, despite evidence to the contrary, that the birth control pill prevents that fertilized egg from implanting in the womb.

Mr. Romney’s code, deciphered, meant, “I, like you, hope to reclassify the most commonly used forms of contraceptives as abortions.” In fact, he told the crowd, he already had some practice redefining contraception: “I vetoed a so-called emergency contraception bill that gave young girls abortive drugs without prescription or parental consent.”

No matter that emergency contraception has the same mode of action as the birth control pill and every other hormonal method of birth control. To the anti-abortion movement, contraception is the ultimate corruptor. And so this year, the unspoken rule for candidates seeking the support of anti-abortion groups is that they must offer proof they’re anti-contraception too.

Being anti-contraception obviously will not fly with the majority of American voters. But Republican candidates have found a way to make their messages heard and not heard, an anti-contraceptive whistle that only fundies tuned to precisely the right frequency can hear. Yet Democrats being as they are, we are more likely to see Democratic candidates respond to the surface messages here when what they should be doing, every time they are given the opportunity, is pointing out the extremity of the Republican position on contraception.

This is what progressive and feminist bloggers have been saying for years. Most women who take the pill don’t know exactly how it works (many don’t even know that the “periods” had while on the pill aren’t even real), and men have no idea. If you keep letting conservatives associate contraception with abortion in the public’s mind, it is bound to stick on some level. As Westen would say, even if it doesn’t make sense rationally, unless there’s a prevailing counter-narrative to prime the public’s minds, then the neural network associations for both contraception and abortion will become inextricably tied, until activating one network will always activate the other. People are still going to rationally realize that their monthly birth control packs don’t contain 28 little abortions each month, but they may be more likely to be weary of things like the morning after pill, teenagers getting the pill without parental consent, etc.

For now, the candidates vying for the Right to Life endorsement are doing their best to avoid directly answering mainstream voters’ simple questions on the subject, such as, “Do you support couples having access to safe and effective birth control options, including emergency contraception?” Considering that even 80 percent of self-described “pro-life” voters and a majority of Republican voters strongly support contraception, it’s no wonder why.

So what should Democrats do? I don’t know. I’d say make Republicans answer the question.

• I am pretty sure everything I write this week will somehow tie back to this book.

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Tech Daily has “tech policy profiles” of all the presidential candidates:

Presidential candidates have made plenty of headlines this year for their increasing use of technology to campaign, but they also have views on technology issues. In this special series, Technology Daily offers a detailed look at their views on matters facing the growing tech community. Tech Daily consulted the Congressional Record, speeches, candidates’ Web sites and campaign spokesmen to compile profiles of each presidential hopeful’s technology policy views

Let’s see … San Brownback is a decency nut (but so is Hilary Clinton); all the Democrats support net neutrality legislation, but all the Republican except Huckabee are against it; Obama and Clinton have the most to say on tech issues compared to other Democrats; Giuliani only has opinions on technology that will help him erode more civil liberties (he wants to build a virtual border fence?); How can McCain sponsor legislation that would require sex offender registries online and also a bill in support of online privacy?; yay for Ron Paul voting against silly Internet gambling bans and increased broadcast indecency penalties; Romney has drunk the Internet predators kool-aid; who the hell is Duncan Hunter?

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Looks like Governor (and Democratic Presidential Candidate) Bill Richardson is going through all the motions necessary to implement a state sponsored medical marijuana program without actually doing it. 

Gov. Bill Richardson ordered the state Health Department on Friday to resume planning of a medical marijuana program despite the agency’s worries about possible federal prosecution.

However, the governor stopped short of committing to implement a state-licensed production and distribution system for the drug if the potential for federal prosecution remains unchanged.

The department announced earlier this week that it would not implement the law’s provisions for the agency to oversee the production and distribution of marijuana to eligible patients. That decision came after Attorney General Gary King warned that the department and its employees could face federal prosecution for implementing the law, which took effect in July.

Even if Governor Richardson decided to implement the program he is planning, it seems like a smart move to keep that close to his chest for now.  He can control the story at this point and possibly put the Democratic congress and President Bush on the spot. 

Also Friday, Richardson, a Democratic presidential candidate, sent a letter to President Bush urging the federal government to allow states like New Mexico to implement medical marijuana programs without fear of federal prosecution.

Such as exception would require Congress to approve legislation changing the law, Gallegos said.

Last month, the U.S. House rejected a proposal _ on a 165-262 vote _ that would have blocked the Justice Department from taking action against state medical marijuana programs, including New Mexico’s.

Personally, if a doctor wants to prescribe marijuana and a patient wants to take the prescription and states want to allow it, I’m not entirely sure why Bush believes he’s got anything to say about it. 

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In response to Brides Decide, a new get-out-the-vote Web site aimed at brides and sponsored by the Knot, the Nest and the Wedding Channel, Tracy Clark-Flory at Broadsheet asks: At what point is it no longer an admirable attempt at targeting female voters but an insult to womankind?

Um, I think this IS that point. Since when are brides their own voting bloc? What in the world would possibly make the political concerns of brides so unique from the political concerns of any other women that they need their own political Web site?

Wait – scratch that question. The Knot et al. know the difference — brides need to pick out political candidates in the same way the pick out table settings!

The site is designed to educate using a one-click, comparison shopping model aimed to simplify the research process for this busy audience alongside fun, relatable editorial about the presidential candidates (like how nervous they were the day they tied the knot).

Apparently brides are also especially concerned by “who’s pro-life and who’s pro-choice” (this dominates the front page of the site) and stuck in 2004 (gay marriage is sited by BridesDecide as being one of the most important issues in the election). The Web site also claimes to cover “virtually every important topic in the 2008 election,” every important topic apparently limited to abortion, education, energy, health care, immigration, Iraq, gay marriage, women’s rights and taxes. Tracy writes:

I am so very, very confused by this attempt at getting young women to vote via summaries of presidential candidates’ platforms alongside detailed descriptions and photos of their weddings. … As a co-worker suggested, this is as clear a sign you’ll get that the wedding industry is out of control (and its friggin’ mind). It isn’t targeting married women versus single women, after all. It’s reducing all young women to the sort who are too busy getting teary-eyed and blubbery flipping through a wedding magazine — either recalling their own special day or lamenting that their day has yet to come — to thoroughly examine the presidential candidates.

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I agree with Dan Balz over at the WaPo that the Republican Iowa Straw Poll is no longer needed or useful (assuming it ever was).  A lot of fake folksiness and rubbing elbows to raise money and give off the illusion of relating to the common man, if you ask me. 

And since Giuliani, McCain, and Fred Thompson didn’t even bother to participate, who really cares that Mitt Romney had the most kids, er, I mean votes?  It means nothing. 

About the only thing of interest is that Huckabee beat Sam Brownback for second place and the honor of being the front runner for craziest motherfucker to run for the Republican nomination. 

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Via Lawyers, Guns, and Money

 People who know me know that I hate the general level of incompetence and sheer stupidity of what passes for journalism nowadays.  I subscribe to the radical belief that articles should be informative, filled with facts, identify sources of information, acknowledge bias when it exists, and unequivocally state when someone is clearly in error (or lying).  In other words, journalists should reach past press releases, make some phone calls, interview people, source the people they interview, and check the facts of comments from their sources.  Never let quotes stand alone without at least some attempt to actually, you know, see if what they say is true. 

Needless to say, I don’t come across this type of reporting very often.  This story about Rudy Giuliani from the Village Voice is an example of the best kind of journalism.  There were one or two minor things I took issue with, which were basically incidental to the story, but it’s all out there for you to read, evaluate, and (gasp!) walk away from better informed. 

My short version of this article?  Rudy G is a pompous, political prick who takes credit for things he had nothing to do with, criticizes things he knows nothing about, believes that the proper role of journalists is to regurgitate his talking points and thinks the American people are too stupid to know when he’s lying. 

I suppose that’s what passes for “presidential” in today’s Republican party. 

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I’ll admit it.  I saw the headline of this column (“Pretty Formidable in Pink“) and I was so ready to pounce with my snark claws extended.  Here comes another vacuous article about the fact that Hillary is a woman and whether the country is ready and the other day we saw cleavage and did we mention she’s a woman? 

But then I read it.  And laughed.  And nodded my head.  And thought, amen. 

[Elizabeth] Edwards’s specific criticism of Clinton was misplaced, but her general point is important. Clinton has a three-decades-long record of working on issues related to women and families, and she’s seeking the presidency at a time when national security is paramount. If she’s talking more about Iraq than family and medical leave, that’s less about trying to overcompensate for the inconvenient fact of her gender than what issues are at the top of voters’ agendas.

But as a columnist who happens to be a woman — you may have noticed, there aren’t too many of us — I understand what Edwards means. In fact, I initially resisted writing about her comments, reluctant to be pigeonholed as a “woman columnist” and not taken seriously by the Big Boys.

Clinton faces that challenge on a grander and more complex scale. Any woman in the post-Sept. 11 world faces an extra hurdle in convincing some voters that she’s strong enough to be commander in chief. Clinton has the extra challenge of appearing simultaneously formidable and likable, commanding and not cold, smart and approachable.

Indeed, even as Clinton was getting slapped by Edwards for playing down her gender, she was being dissected by Post fashion critic Robin Givhan for showing cleavage: “It was startling to see that small acknowledgment of sexuality and femininity peeking out of the conservative — aesthetically speaking — environment of Congress.” Givhan contrasted Clinton’s decolletage with the more abundant display by Jacqui Smith, the new British home secretary, and her complaint seemed to be that Clinton was showing too little, too unassertively.

Might I suggest that sometimes a V-neck top is only a V-neck top? As a person of cleavage, I’d guess that Clinton’s low-cut shirt simply reflected a few centimeters of sartorial miscalculation, not a deliberate fashion statement.

Breasts may be an advantage in certain settings; the Senate floor isn’t one of them. If you’re giving a speech on higher education, as Clinton was, you don’t want Ted Stevens thinking about — and you certainly don’t want to think about Ted Stevens thinking about — your cleavage.

The upside of all the attention Clinton gets as the most serious female presidential candidate ever is all the attention Clinton gets as the most serious female presidential candidate ever.

I do not know many people who consider Clinton to be their top choice but I do know many who are starting to respect her on a level they never did before. 

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This is hilarious.

“Oh shit, that kid,” Nixon said when told by his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, of (Fred) Thompson’s appointment on Feb. 22, 1973.

“Well, we’re stuck with him,” Haldeman said.

In a meeting later that day in the Old Executive Office Building, Baker assured Nixon that Thompson was up to the task. “He’s tough. He’s six feet five inches, a big mean fella,” the senator told Nixon.

Nixon expressed concern that Thompson was not “very smart.”

“Not extremely so,” [Nixon’s lawyer, J. Fred] Buzhardt agreed.

“But he’s friendly,” Nixon said.

Man, how great would it be if “oh shit, that kid” was used more often by and about politicians? Bush comes on TV to give a speech. Your grandma goes, “Oh shit, that kid…” Some junior senator stands up on the floor to make a point, and Pelosi’s all “oh shit, that kid…” Oh god. It’s fabulous.

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In a poll released late last week, Rudy Giuliani (40 percent) dominated John McCain (18 percent) among Republican primary voters.

Interesting four-part series at The New Republic about whether or not Giuliani is a viable Republican presidential candidate. Michael Tomasky, editor at large of The American Prospect, starts off saying there’s no chance:

We must never be caught fighting the last war and must always allow for the possibility of change. So I’ve allowed for it. But, really, what are the odds of this? Put aside everything else–the marriages, the announcement to the world that he was separating from Donna Hanover before he’d bothered to tell her, the La Cage turn on “Saturday Night Live,” his nearly nonexistent record of attendance at mass, and even Rudy’s gay roommates. Put it all aside, and you’re still left with abortion. It alone seems to me the deal-breaker.

He mentions that the only reason Guiliani has done so well in polls thus far is because people don’t know he’s pro-choice: Fox News showed 21 percent thought he was “pro-life,” and 36 percent didn’t know. Siegel goes on:

And none of this is even the main point. The main point–the reason that I don’t think we’re at a moment of sweeping historical change–is that pro-lifers, as far as they’re concerned, have labored for 30 years in vain. Since Ford’s time, the president and vice-president of every Republican ticket has declared himself pro-life, and with the passing years, the tickets have grown more stridently so. Also during that time, the party’s platform has been transformed the issue from a relatively brief and wobbly two paragraphs in the 1980s to a meaty and lengthy five in 2004. Finally, in the same period, three Republican presidents have seated five conservative jurists (yes, I’m counting Anthony Kennedy) on the high court.

And what has it gotten pro-lifers? A lot less than they’d expected. But, finally, they’re getting close. At the precise moment in history when they think they might have a chance of getting Roe v. Wade overturned, do we really think they’re going to trust the precarious future to a man who obstreperously supported partial-birth abortion?

It’s a good point. I mean, I think it seems, like, conventional wisdom, completely obvious to everyone that most conservatives aren’t going to let Giuliani slide on this whole abortion thing. But Siegel does a good job of pinpointing why exactly they won’t let him slide.

Fred Siegel, who has written a book about Giuliani, responds that in fact, we are at a moment of sweeping historical change. This sweeping historical change he speaks of seems to have something to do with people being afraid of terrorism. This doesn’t really seem like a sweeping historical development but one that has been going on since, oh, you know, “9/11 changed everything!” Siegel, I guess, really does seem to think so, because he thinks that voters, 7 years later, will still vote for Guiliani because they view him as strong on terrorism. Siegel says:

… a major attack not only in the United States, but in Canada, Europe, or Australia would have profound political repercussions here. But it’s not only attacks that keep us focused on the issue of Islamism. Developments like the Danish cartoon affair and the recurring Ramadan riots in France keep the issue of Islamism at center stage.

This would bring up an interesting moral choice for social conservatives, wouldn’t it? you’re country is depending on you! do you love fetuses more than you hate terrorists, or vice versa? Or, you know, they could just decide, um, both, and vote for McCain ….

Parts three and four deal with what kind of president Giuliani would be if he actually did get that chance.

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