Of all the strange features of this presidential race, the tarnishing of Barack Obama has got to be the most ridiculous. First Obama was accused of anti-religious elitism. Then he was accused of identifying with the underclass anger of his spiritual mentor. Excuse me, but which is it? Am I supposed to believe that Obama is a supercilious elitist or a menacing ghetto radical? Is he contemptuous of religion or too close to a religious leader? Obama’s critics don’t bother to say. Meanwhile, real character issues go relatively unheeded.
Start with Obama’s turbulent preacher. Yes, Jeremiah Wright says some disgraceful things. But can anyone explain how that changes Obama’s qualities as a candidate? Is anyone suggesting that an Obama administration would view AIDS as a government plot to kill African Americans? Or that it would govern from the perspective that the United States is a terrorist nation? Obviously an Obama administration would do no such thing. Which makes the storm over the preacher an absurd digression.
The Wright affair tells us that Obama bonded with someone whose political views are sometimes toxic. But as a young man trying to make sense of his mixed heritage, Obama looked to Wright for spiritual guidance, not political tutorials; as a community organizer, Obama focused on Wright’s admirable social work, not his resentment of the white establishment. Indeed, Obama’s own views on race and politics were diametrically opposed to those of his pastor. This is the candidate who campaigned for as long as possible as though race were irrelevant — as though the tantalizing prospect that the United States might elect its first black president were merely incidental. A few months ago, there were those who suggested that Obama was not black enough. Now he is too black? This is preposterous. [complete article]
Hillary Clinton’s campaign has a secret weapon to build its delegate count, but her top strategists say privately that any attempt to deploy it would require a sharp (and by no means inevitable) shift in the political climate within Democratic circles by the end of this month.
With at least 50 percent of the Democratic Party’s 30-member Rules and Bylaws Committee committed to Clinton, her backers could — when the committee meets at the end of this month — try to ram through a decision to seat the disputed 210-member Florida and 156-member Michigan delegations. [complete article]
If Hillary Clinton fails to wrest the Democratic presidential nomination from Barack Obama, there will be plenty of second-guessing about how she ran her campaign. What if her loyalty to campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle and chief strategist Mark Penn had not prevented her from demoting them sooner? What if her electoral strategists had better understood the power of caucus states and the way in which votes cast there translated into delegates? What if she had actually planned for the month following Super Tuesday, thereby preventing Obama from posting the 11 straight wins after Feb. 5 that provided him the pledged delegate lead he enjoys today? But beyond these questions, one little-discussed factor (with direct or indirect relation to all of the above) appears to have had fatal consequences for Clinton’s campaign: She failed to mount a strong enough challenge to Obama’s claim on the African-American vote. [complete article]
When asked this morning by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos if she could name a single economist who backs her call for a gas tax holiday this summer, HRC said “I’m not going to put my lot in with economists.”
I know several of the economists who have been advising Senator Clinton, so I phoned them right after I heard this. I reached two of them. One hadn’t heard her remark and said he couldn’t believe she’d say it. The other had heard it and shrugged it off as “politics as usual.”
That’s the problem: Politics as usual. [complete article]