Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Presidency to the Highest Bidder!

John McCain, who continues to be portrayed as a maverick out to change campaign finance law, also continues to show a personal relativism on the matter that should be garnering more media coverage. The latest news is that the Republican National Committee plans to raise $120 million to support his candidacy. This comes on top of his breaking of his own campaign finance law and decision to opt out of the campaign finance system.

McCain's proposed tax cut (making the very Bush cuts he once voted against permanent) would according to a recent analysis by Gordon and Kaval (Washington Post, The Trail, March 23, 2008) cost $2 Trillion over the next decade and deliver 58% of the benefits to the top 1% of taxpayers and only 4% to the bottom 60%. They also question whether his health plan will actually help Americans attain high quality healthcare.

Yet McCain feels comfortable claiming that Obama is "out of touch" with the frustration of working class people in America. This sort of rhetoric continues to work in my mind largely because the media allows these attacks to go unchallenged and because they themselves are completely out of touch with working class America. While the media continues to talk about Obama's pastor, his race and his latest comments, it appears the real McCoy (I mean McCain) story stuffed in the back of the post deserves substantially more coverage.

Redux from yesterday: A poll by ABC News and the Post finds that the comments that were going to cost Obama the presidency and maybe even the democratic nomination have had little effect: Obama is closing the gap in Pennsylvania, is ahead in Indiana, is ahead in the poll in almost all categories except leadership (including electability), now leads Clinton in CA and other states she won, has more delegates, has won the popular vote and is close in the pledged superdelegates. But of course Clinton continuing to run a near-futile attempt at somehow coming out on top is good for democracy, as she attempts to destroy the probable democratic candidate.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What the Matter With Bitterness?

The New Republic has just put in their rather hefty two cents on the latest Obama imbruglio. John Judis ( with little supporting evidence, claims that Obama has already essentially lost the general election and maybe the democratic nomination because of this comment. I think there are several problems with this article and this line of reasoning in general. For one, the press seems to have forgotten that Americans put the democrats in charge less than two years ago to end the war in Iraq. The only legitimate anti-war candidate is Obama and McCain, besides being at an age that could make some uneasy and essentially arguing for continuing most of the Bush policies of the past 8 years, is more bullish on Iraq and bellicose on Iran than his newfound hero (Bush; remember the guy who used dirty politics in South Carolina to capture the Republican nomination eight years ago).

I think Obama's charisma, his nonpareil speaking abilities and his ability to toe the line between his earned privelege and his modest background may actually connect with the white working class that may feel wedge issue politics is costing them too much these days: stagnant wages and growing unemployment, increasing income and wealth gaps, rampant political and economic corruption, sons and/or daughters stuck in Iraq or dead and the whole other host of concerns surrounding the failed policies of conservatives.

Obama's comments were right in line with Thomas Frank's book (as I said below) and the press did not lambast him for writing it. The real conceipt is for a senior editor at the New Republic to speak for the majority of people in the U.S. under the premise that the very things Obama is talking about is all that white working class people care about. This is not a cohesive, homogenized mass, but individuals who make decisions based on a number of factors -- unfortunately including gun control, abortion, faith and backlash political strategies. To allow Clinton to continue to use the ugly political strategies of the right as a last ditch effort to squeeze out the nomination shows the extent to which the media and even TNR have turned away from substance to cover politics in purely cynical terms. Hopefully the clarion call for hope and substance will subsume this cynicism outside the towers of our failing fourth estate.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hillary Rove?

The strategy currently being employed by the Clintons bears a striking resemblance to the one used by Republicans from Reagan forward -- and particularly by Karl Rove. They have played the "race card" on several occasions, through their surrogates, claiming a Black man can't win the presidency. They have used erroneous arguments and facts to bolster their claim that Hillary is the better Democratic Candidate -- by mentioning the big states she has won, even as it is clear most if not all of those states will be won by Obama as well (and a recent poll found Obama ahead in California). The fact that Obama is winning in the smaller, more competitive states actually may benefit Dems in the general election if he can turn any of them over.

The latest attacks may be the most absurd. Obama's oft-repeated comment:

"It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

appears to be a relatively accurate explanation for Republican victories in recent years and the general strategy employed during the conservative revolution -- namely playing on a backlash against the 60s, civil rights movement and feminism with a hearkening to an idyllic past when women were in the home, blacks were largely segregated from whites and hard work, religious virtue and community thrived, as a mechanism to win over working class voters who essentially acted against their own economic interests based on a series of wedge issues like abortion, affirmative action, immigration and gay marriage that symbolized the cultural war for America's soul(see, for example, Frank's book, What's the Matter with Kansas?). Yet Clinton has taken this comment (made in private) and turned it into a rallying cry for her turn to the right.

She now sounds like a gun-toting religious fanatic, two weeks after she denounced the radical comments of Obama's minister and close friend. And this all comes on top of the inaccurate comments the Clintons have made about Obamas record throughout the campaign (including that he supported the policies of Reagan, based on an absurd misreading of a point he made during that speech). It appears as if there is no line Hillary won't cross in her increasingly futile attempt to win the nomination by subverting the democratic process and counting on the superdelegates or voters in Florida, where Obama didn't even campaign.

The worst part of this ugly campaign, including the infamous "phone call" ad Republicans will probably use in the general election, is that Hillary Clinton appears to be willing to hand the election to McCain rather than show the slightest integrity or concern for the future of the country, if she doesn't run it. I hope the people of Pennsylvania and the remaining states see the facade that this campaign has become and end this caustic internecine war.