Friday, March 28, 2008

A Civil War?

No, not in Iraq. I'm talking about the fight between Hillary and Obama supporters and how the superdelegates should vote.

On one side we have Obama supporters who say that the superdelegates should be powerless. Their only function is to ratify the candidate who is ahead in committed delegates and/or votes. Recently House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined this camp. In addition to this logic, Obama's supporters are passionate and are promising a level of violence worse than Chicago in 1968 if their man isn't on the ballot.

On the other side are the Hillary supporters. They point out that she has done better in large states which Democrats have to win. Many of Obama's wins have been in states that almost always go Republican. They point out that the whole point of having superdelegates is to choose the most electable candidate when no single candidate gets a majority of committed delegates. She was recently joined by a group of major donors who suggested that they would withhold cash from the congressional race if Pelosi continues to tell the superdelegates how to vote.

Then there are polls showing that a significant percentage of each candidate's supporters will vote for McCain if their candidate doesn't lead the ticket.

I'm glad I'm not a superdelegate. The pressure on them has to be fierce and half of the party is going to hate them no matter how they vote.

Some other considerations:

News reports make it seem like Obama has a huge lead over Hillary in committed delegates. It is around 150 which is only a 6% difference.

Obama may be damaged goods. First, he can't shake Reverend Wright quotes. Then there is the matter of equating Wright and the grandmother who raised him. He compounded this by excusing her as a "typical white person" who has racism "breed into them in this country." This seems to disqualify him as the first post-racial candidate. I'm not sure that the country is ready for a candidate who stereotypes whites as racists. The controversy hasn't hurt him much so far. Most of the country hasn't heard these quotes - yet.

Democrats in Michigan and Florida are upset that their votes were disqualified. The whole idea that only a handful of select states can vote before Super Tuesday is annoying to the rest of the country. The Republicans had a good compromise - let the states vote early but penalize them by reducing their delegates in half. The Democrats did not compromise leaving millions of Democrats in swing states upset with the party. Rumor is that the Obama campaign kept them from having a do-over election. Regardless, it is clear that many Democrats wanted to avoid a do-over in order to help Obama. The Democrats are certain to lose a lot of votes in these states. If the election hinges on Florida and McCain wins then the party can blame Howard Dean.

A lot more Hillary supporters say that they will vote for McCain than Obama supporters if the other candidate is on the ballot. I'd like to know why. Are they turned off by the cult of personality? Did they hear about the Reverend Wright? Are they reluctant to vote for a black man (I know, Democrats are supposed to be above that sort of thing but let's get real).

In the meantime, Democrats are sharpening their knives for McCain. Their main attacks are going to be:

A third term for the Bush/McCain administration. Obama loves this line. The Democrats will blame everything they can on Bush then insist that there is no difference between Bush and McCain. Both Obama and Hillary are pushing for more government scrutiny into everything and attacking Bush/McCain for not already doing the same thing.

He is for 100 years of war. This is a gross misrepresentation of what he said. He said that he was in favor of 100 years of occupation as long as the troops were safe and compared it to Japan and Germany.

He is ignorant of economics. Mitt Romney, a successful businessman, could use this line. Two ivy-league lawyers are going to have trouble backing it up.

He is not a moderate maverick, he is an ultra conservative flip-flopper. The feeling is that it worked on Kerry so it will work on McCain. The Bush tax cuts are being mentioned. McCain voted against them but would continue them. What is not mentioned is that he was against them because he wanted accompanying budget cuts to pay for them. He is against eliminating the cuts because, after this amount of time it amounts to a tax hike which he is against. As for painting McCain as a conservative, that will be tough when Rush and Ann Coulter are saying that he is too moderate.

In the meantime, McCain has the luxury of being able to travel around the world and look presidential while Obama and Hillary are stuck talking about what relationship they would have with a minister.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Who would tell you if the models are wrong?

At its heart, global warming theory is based on computer models that show that raising the CO2 in the atmosphere will raise the Earth's temperature. There has been attempts to reconstruct temperatures prior to modern records but these are based on computer models also. So, are the models right? Consider this:

World temperatures showed warming from the mid-19th century to the end of the 20th century but, according to the same monitors used by the IPCC (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change) world temperature peaked in 1998 and has been fairly stable since then (except for the last few months when it lost a good deal of the previous century's warming). Global warming experts have an explanation for this. The temperature is still rising. The oceans are absorbing the heat but this will end soon when the oceans disgorge all of that stored heat and the atmosphere heats rapidly. That's what the models say but actual measurements fail to find any warming.

Then there is the effect of increased water vapor in the atmosphere. The models say that this water vapor will absorb even more heat than CO2 leading to enhanced global warming. This is where the more alarming estimates of warming come from. According to NASA satellites, this prediction is also wrong. More water vapor leads to more clouds which reflect heat away from the Earth instead of trapping it. This means that water vapor is part of a negative feedback instead of a positive one. The climate tends to regulate itself. In fact this article says that the head of the IPCC has accepted this fact.

So, who will tell the rest of the world?

Think about it. We are already turning corn into fuel in the name of sustainable energy. This has caused record food prices. Planned power plants are being stopped or switched to less reliable gas turbines. In the near future we will experience power shortages and increased gas prices because of these decisions. Europe is considering sanctions against the US and China unless we cripple our manufacturing capabilities. Cars will soon become more expensive as new technologies are added to improve fuel economy. Britain has proposed replacing over half of its housing with more energy efficient buildings. The list goes on and gets far more expensive in the future.

If there is some doubt about the validity of the global warming computer models, shouldn't someone say something? And who would be believed?

Al Gore won't say anything. He considered it settled science since he wrote Earth in the Balance nearly 20 years ago. Warning people about global warming has made him hundreds of millions and won him a Nobel Peace Prize.

We aren't likely to hear much from the IPCC either for several reasons. They were created specifically to prove that global warming exists. It would take a lot to convince them. Most of the IPCC members aren't even scientists specializing in global warming. They cover a wide spectrum of fields. Most of them are there to shed light on how global warming will affect their specialty. They never deal with the computer models so they would be unaware of problems in them. Also, they are under a great deal of political pressure to emphasize unity on global warming and to stress the potential damage. Beyond all of that, think of the repercussions if they reversed themselves. Governments have been setting policy based on their predictions.

It is possible that some members of the IPCC could realize the truth and make statements on their own. The track record of previous IPCC members who have gone this route is not encouraging. Through his organization, The Climate Project, Al Gore has been training people to denounce anyone who questions global warming. If you are labeled a denier then some link will be found between you and "big carbon". As an example, the left-libertarian web site Punch was labeled as being in the pocket of the oil companies. After some effort they tracked down the allegation. It seems that a few years before they had jointly sponsored a conference with the right-libertarian web site TechCentralStation (now TCSDaily) and their founder had received a grant from an oil company. With links as tenuous as this, anyone can be denounced as an oil company mouthpiece.

This is exactly what happened a few weeks ago when a group of global warming skeptics held a convention. Rather than cover the content of the papers presented, most press concentrated on their funding.

Even if a number of unimpeachable scientists do gather together and announce that global warming is not happening, the press is not likely to cover it. Polls show that reporters feel that they have to be advocates for the environment. Science reporters seldom understand what they are writing about. They go to sources they trust for advice. In the case of global warming, these sources are advocates trained by Gore's people.

Then there are politicians. Some believe in global warming. Others feel that anytime there is a problem, they have to be seen doing something to solve it. In some cases, they have to be seen solving a problem before it can be proved that the problem does not exists. Nearly 20 years ago Congress rushed legislation into effect to deal with acid rain. They had to hurry because a major report that they had commissioned showed that the threat of acid rain was overstated and very little actual harm was coming from it. Rather than wait for a report that suggested that they do nothing, they implemented restrictions against high-sulfur coal among other things.

Given that many voters will believe that global warming is a problem that has to be solved, no matter who says otherwise, politicians will feel obligated to act, regardless.

So how do we stop this runaway train?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hillary and Bosnia

The press has dedicated itself to the election of Barack Obama. How else to explain the story carried by all of the wire services and news reports about her trip to Bosnia. In examining events like this it is important to remember the Vorlon* proverb: Truth is a three-edged sword. In other words there is your version of the truth, my version, and what actually happened.

What Hillary said was that they were under sniper fire when she accompanied a good will tour to Bosnia. They had to skip the welcoming ceremonies and hurry from the plane to armored vehicles.

The press quoted actor Sinbad as saying that he didn't remember any of that and they found file footage of a young girl presenting something to Hillary.

What actually happened - there were threats of snipers so the plane had to come it on a steep approach to present less of a target. The official welcoming was canceled but an unofficial welcoming with the young girl happened.

So Hillary exaggerated the threat. Al Gore did the same thing in 2000 when he claimed that he had been under fire in Viet Nam. The press presented something that was not an official welcoming as something different and ignored the reports of possible snipers, giving the impression that Hillary told a bare-face lie instead of an exaggeration.

* Vorlons were ancient aliens in the TV series Babylon 5.

UPDATE: Hot Air points out that Obama has a few problems with the truth, also. He claimed that his father came to America as a result of the Selma marches but he was born before the marches happened.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Obama's grandmother

Common wisdom is that Fred and Rudy lost the nomination because they didn't want it enough, they weren't willing to do whatever it takes to be elected president. Barack Obama proved that he is willing to do just about anything including through his own grandmother off the train.

In his speech on racism he mentioned Reverend Wright then told about his grandmother's fear of black men and use of racial epithets. He then said that he could not disown his pastor and spiritual adviser any more than he could his grandmother.

This is a clever bit of verbal slight-of-hand. He brought up both and dismissed them both in the same breath. He did it so quickly that most people will not notice how dissimilar the two instances are.

Reverend Wright consistently gave anti-American speeches to an approving audience of thousands. He perpetuated the idea that blacks are the continuing target of multiple conspiracies by whites. And this was from the man that these thousands look to as their spiritual head.

In contrast, Obama's grandmother confided to him that she fears black men and sometimes used language normally reserved for black comedians.

Exactly how are these similar?

I hope that he at least called ahead of time to warn his grandmother that he was going to tell the world that she is a vile racist.

I have several objections to Obama's use of his grandmother in this fashion. I will grant that both offer spiritual guidance of some sort but that is where the similarity ends. Obama's grandmother was one of the people who raised him. Apparently and prejudice that she has did not interfere with her love for him or his love for her. A lot of people have secret, unreasoning fears that do not conform with what their rational mind tells them and many people continue to use words after they have fallen out of favor.

Contrast that with the Reverend Wright who built up a failing congregation by preaching black power and white hate.

Plus, of course, Obama did nto choose his grandmother but he did choose him minister. When someone I respect says something I strongly disagree with I feel a little sick inside. If it continues then I stop respecting that person and possibly stop associating with him. Obama did not do this. He continued to sit in the pew as his minister damned the country Obama wants to lead.

Why didn't he leave? Because his grandmother used racial epithets? Come on.

There are two possibilities. Thomas Sowell pointed out that many blacks who grew up without the ghetto experience try to overcompensate and become "blacker than thou." Dick Morris speculated that Obama needed local black credentials in order to make it in Chicago politics. It would be nice to know which represents the real Obama.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Transcendent Candidate?

The hardest question for someone from an identifiable minority running for president of the United States is "Will you represent your minority group first or will you represent the people as a whole, even to the detriment of your minority group?"

JFK and Romney had to answer this because of their religion. Lieberman had to assure the country that he would put the US ahead of Israel. The question is slightly different for someone who is not from a minority group. In that case the question is "Are you a racist?"

The question is not always asked outright. Sometimes it is assumed by the candidate's history. Hillary has been jettisoning campaign workers as an indirect answer for the racism question.

When Jesse Jackson was asked this question it was phrased as "Are you a black man who happens to be American or an American who happens to be black?" His answer was that he was a black man first which essentially disqualified him from the presidency.

Barack Obama has not had to answer this question until now. His life's narrative was considered answer enough. He is the son of a white American woman and a black African man. He was partly raised by a second back man in a 3rd world country and partly by his mother and grandparents. The implication is that he is as much a part of white culture as black culture and would be an American first. Ironically this impression was reinforced by his name.

Then came some revelations. The first one was that his wife doesn't think much of America. Obama tried to explain this away, saying that she is more proud than ever.

But the big one is his minister, the Reverend Wright. Conservatives have been saying for months that Obama's church was a cause for concern but only recently did someone from the mainstream news bother to buy copies of Wright's sermons and listen to them.

Wright is part of a movement known as Black Liberation Theology. This is a subset of Liberation Theology which interprets Christianity as a metaphor for socialism. Wright's version of this officially focuses on social justice and helping the poor. It also contains a great deal of conspiracies by whites. AIDS was created by whites to subjugate blacks. Crack cocaine exists in order to entice blacks to commit multiple felonies and be locked away by the three-strikes laws. He recently compared Obama's problems running for president with Christ who, along with the Israelis, was black (or at least African) and subjugated by white Romans.

Obama dismisses these statements insisting that we should judge everything that Wright does instead of just a few selected sermons. Considering how hard society comes down on someone like Don Imus (nappy-haired hoes) or Mel Gibson (anti-semitic ranting while drunk) for a single instance of unapproved speech, Obama is asking for a double standard.

His speech on race in America says some good things but it leaves me unimpressed. Like most of his campaign, he is promising great things if elected but has no record of accomplishment to prove that he is capable of these things. There is a lot that he could do from the position that he already holds. He complains about unequal schooling but fails to mention black students who reject white man's learning. Obama could do quite a bit of good if he sounded more like Bill Cosby.

Obama has been listening to Wright's various conspiracy theories for years. When he talks about the anger and resentment among blacks he needs to acknowledge that much of this comes from people like Wright who stoke that anger. Obama needs to go beyond asking each side to understand the other and tell his own side that whites are not conspiring against them. Only someone in his position can do this and it would go a long way toward his goal of perfecting race relations.

Obama is in a difficult position. His personal narrative was crafted to sooth whites into thinking that he thought of himself as mixed race instead of black. Early in the race people were questioning if he was black enough meaning if he was actually part of black culture. There is no question of that now but that raises an entirely new set of questions.

Wright is his spiritual leader and the person who is supposed to have brought him to Christ. Obama first came to national attention as a black Democrat who was comfortable talking about religion (as opposed to Kerry whose religious experience began and ended with being an altar boy). Now Obama's religious background is tainted. That has to hurt him.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sympathy for the Devil

There is no way I would actually vote for her but I am beginning to feel sorry for Hillary Clinton. The Obama campaign has figured out how to go negative without seeming to. They comb the press for any comments made by anyone remotely connected with the Clinton campaign then they examine these comments with a magnifying glass looking for any possible crypto-racist spin. This allows them to continually complain that Hillary has gone negative.

The Obama campaign has always been prickly about race. When a fellow senator used the word "articulate" to describe Obama he was instantly condemned for implying that it was unusual for blacks to be articulate (considering Bush, Gore, and Kerry he obviously meant that it was unusual for a presidential candidate to be articulate).

Since January this focus has been trained on Hillary's people. One of her people suggested that Republican background research might turn up that Obama not only used drugs, he might have sold them, also. This was judged as racist because it implied that black drug-users were more likely than white to sell some on the side.

Hillary was asked if Obama was a Muslim. She said in no uncertain terms that he was not. The question was repeated and she continued to deny it. Partway through this questioning she slipped in a "as far as I know." Politicians and lawyers always leave themselves a little wiggle room, especially when vouching for someone else. Obama's supporters seized on this as if it was part of a carefully prepared statement and the only thing she said. To hear them, this tiny disclaimer was code words to mean that he really is Muslim.

Geraldine Ferraro pointed out that Obama's race had a lot to do with his success. She would know since she was Mondale's vice-presidential pick because of her gender. Given that Obama is 99th in seniority in the Senate and never sponsored any significant legislation, Ferraro can be forgiven for thinking that Obama's success has to do with more than his vast experience. For making this rather obvious observation she is being called a racist and Hillary is being pilloried for not condemning her strongly enough.

The 3:00 am ad has been examined in a new light by Orlando Patterson who discovered a hidden, racist message. It turns out that the children in the ad can sleep, not because an experienced president is there to take the 3:00 am call, but because a black man is not in the White House.

All of this is causing a frenzy on the left. Hillary is the new George Bush. James Moore wrote a column comparing Hillary to Karl Rove and Darth Vader. The comments following the column are full of Hillary=Bush invective. Keith Olbermann did one of his special commentaries, also comparing Hillary with evil Republicans.

There just isn't much that Hillary can do to fight back. I expect that Obama will continue to discover crypto-racism in Hillary's campaign.

This is probably the roll-out for Obama's campaign against McCain.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Question I would Like to Ask Senator Obama

This is from an Obama position paper on Hillary Clinton's experience:
Senator Obama’s speech opposing the war in Iraq shows independence and courage as well as good judgment. In the speech that Senator Clinton says does not qualify him to be Commander in Chief, Obama criticized what he called “a rash war . . . a war based not on reason, but on passion, not on principle, but on politics.” In that speech, he said prophetically: “[E]ven a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.” He predicted that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would “fan the flames of the Middle East,” and “strengthen the recruitment arm of al Qaeda.” He urged the United States first to “finish the fight with Bin Laden and al Qaeda.”
My question:

Senator Obama, you often refer to a speech that you gave against the war as proof that you have better judgment than your opponents who voted in favor of the war. At the time you were not in the US Senate and did not have access to Senate Intelligence Reports. Your insistence that had you been a senator you would still have been against the war is a bit hypothetical to be your only claim for judgment. Can you give an example of your judgment where you were actually there to cast a vote instead of in the Illinois Senate?

Will They Be Dancing in the Street?

Representative Steve King said that if Barack Hussein Obama is elected, al Qaeda will be dancing in the street. Arianna Huffington is having a fit over this. Who is right?

King is basing his statement on two things. The first is that Obama has promised to start withdrawing troops from Iraq immediately. Various al Qaeda leaders have said that Iraq is their current battleground. They brought in foreign fighters under the franchise of al Qaeda in Iraq. If they are still there in January, 2008 then they win by virtue of being the last ones on the field.

Last week Obama said that he would halt or reverse troop withdrawals if there was any signs of al Qaeda entering the country. When McCain pointed out that they are already there, Obama declined to clarify his intentions. Instead he pointed out that they had not been there five years ago when the invasion started. So, will Obama withdraw the troops or will he leave them in Iraq to fight al Qaeda? I'm betting that he will withdraw the troops and blame the loss of Iraq on Bush.

A good reason for al Qaeda to celebrate.

King also mentioned Obama's middle name which is Arabic for hansom and a common name among Muslims. King is not reminding people that Obama was born and raised a Muslim. The name has real meaning among Muslims. His grandfather took it when he converted. Mainstream news organizations have quoted people in the Muslim "street" as saying that it is important to them.

Arianna says this:
So our enemies will see that Obama's middle name is Hussein and... what exactly? Hate us even more? See it as a green light for a new wave of attacks? Not only are King's ravings offensive -- they are head-scratchingly moronic.

Obviously our enemies will not hate us more but they will see it as another sign that they are winning. They will see that America's reaction to the war on terror is to elect a Muslin-friendly president. While this might endear us to the Muslim street, it will also encourage al Qaeda. How can it not? How often does someone say, "Our tactics are working, our enemy is retreating, let's change tactics"?

Huffington and others really wants to pretend that there is no war and that the only reason anyone ever attacked us was because of President Bush. Anyone who reminds us that our country does have merciless and implacable enemies is guilty of scare-mongering.

Huffington and Obama also want to believe that the reason for starting the war, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, invalidates any reason for staying. McCain has pointed out that regardless of why we got into Iraq, we are now there and we are fighting al Qaeda there.

The election will probably end up being a referendum on the war - not on how it started but on who should win it. Obama and Huffington are on al Qaeda's side in this.

Why the Democrats Can't Dump Hillary

I keep seeing liberals demanding that the Democratic party elders get rid of Hillary somehow. There are rumors that this was planned until she won the Ohio and Texas primaries. There are several reasons that they cannot (or at least should not) simply dump Hillary.

First and most obvious, there are the Hillary supporters. Some of them believe in her personally. Some are simply for her because she is the serious first woman candidate. These supporters are not fainting at Hillary's rallies but they still believe in her. They will probably turn out for Obama if they feel that he won fair and square but they might well stay home on election day if they think that Hillary was robbed.

This dovetails into Obama's lack of support. It seems like he is sweeping the primaries but, between Hillary's big state wins and proportionate representation, Obama isn't all that far ahead of Hillary. If he was doing as well as the press make it appear then he wouldn't need the superdelegates. After all, McCain has the Republican nomination wrapped up and he started much further back in the pack.

There are other issues. Hillary has pointed out that Obama has trouble winning big states. These are important since these are how Gore and Kerry almost won in the last two elections. The Democratic challenger needs to be strong in these states.

All of this has been pointed out by others. Here are a couple of new points that are my own.

If their positions were reversed, Obama would still be in the race. Prior to Super Tuesday it was widely assumed that Hillary would take the majority of the delegates and that Obama has little hope after that. Even so, he always planned a fifty-state (plus territories) fight. He was already making media buys for the post-Super Tuesday races before Super Tuesday.

Obama's fifty-state strategy is important and seldom remarked on. Hillary didn't have as much money to work with and she ran through it quickly in an effort to knock her rivals out early. She hadn't planned on needing to continue the campaign past Super Tuesday. She actually ran out of money for a while and had to loan her campaign a few million to tide it over.

This has been covered in terms of problems in Hillary's organization but it is seldom mentioned how this affected Obama. He won those 11 states because Hillary didn't have the resources in place to oppose him.

That's why Bill and Hillary drew the line in the sand as Ohio and Texas. These were big enough to matter and far enough away to give Hillary a chance to restart her campaign.

Did you get that? Obama won in 12 states where Hillary wasn't contesting him but he lost the two states where she ran hard. This shows that he is not as popular as portrayed.

There are other places that Obama appears weak. There has been a lot of talk about Hillary going dirty with the 3 am ad. In fact, it was pretty mild compared to what McCain and his supporters will do to Obama. The 3 am ad's message was that you can sleep easy because Hillary is on the job. It didn't even mention Obama.

So, Democrats who have been paying attention will have noticed that Obama's record is spotty in states that the Democrats have to win and where he faced strong competition.

The Democrats may eventually give Obama the nomination but the ones who are paying attention will be asking if he is he strongest possible candidate? If they pull the plug on Hillary they are stuck.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Campaign of Surprises

Every time it seems like things have been settled in the primary it switches around again. Before the first votes were cast, Hillary looked like a sure thing. Then she placed third in Iowa and Obama was a sure thing. Hillary won by an unexpected margin in New Hampshire and was back on track. Super Tuesday was supposed to be the vote that cemented her status as the candidate-elect. Super Tuesday came and went. At first it looked like Hillary was still ahead but by only a few votes. A day later some super delegates started committing and she was behind.

Then came a run of twelve losses and it looked like Hillary had overstayed her welcome. Obama was the sure thing. All he had to do was win Texas and Ohio.

The Texas and Ohio votes are over. Texas was close but Hillary won. Ohio was supposed to be close but Hillary ended up winning by a good margin.

Where are we now?

Obama has pointed out that he is still ahead by about as many delegates as before. That is true but his string of victories is broken. That is far more important. For a while it looked like the super delegates would vote for him based on his momentum. It appeared that the mood of the country had shifted for him and Hillary's earlier victories should be given less weight.

Ohio changed all of that. Obama did everything right in Ohio. He out-spent Hillary. He beat her in every form of advertising - TV, radio, newspaper, direct call, and web ads. He had the better campaign organization complete with a better get out the vote drive. He had her beat on hot topics such as support for the war and NAFTA.

So what happened?

The Ohio vote can only be described as a rejection of Obama. Not only did whites vote for Hillary, so did the party faithful.

The last few days have been tough on Obama although it was not obvious. SNL ran two opening sketches on how the press has fawned on Obama. People on the fence looked at Obama-mania and recoiled.

Obama made some mistakes himself. This is nothing new. He has been making foreign policy blunders all along but people started taking him seriously when it looked like he was a sure thing as the next president.

Take the example of Fareed Zakaria. A few months ago he was gushing over Obama's background growing up in a foreign country overshadowed by the US. Zakaria echoed his own experience growing up in India and expressed his hope that Obama would work for the general good instead of the good of the US. Earlier this week Zakaria criticized both candidates for their protectionism. He quoted an unnamed South American diplomat as saying that they might look back with nostalgia at the days of George Bush.

I suspect that this is a typical reaction. For some time Obama has been a mirror. People saw in him their own hopes. Now they are looking at the man himself and turning away.

All of this is good news for McCain. As a pro-war Republican and potentially the oldest man to be sworn in to that office, he looked like a long-shot. Now he has time to consolidate his position and build up his national campaign. Obama (and Hillary) will be too busy running to the left to appeal to the center.

On a different note - the Democrats must really hate Ohio right now. First we tipped the last two elections for Bush. Now we gave a Hillary a boost and kept the campaign going when Obama was hoping to wrap it up. The Democrats now have seven weeks of limbo before the next major primary and the continuing prospect of the primaries being settled at the convention.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Obama and McGovern

The Clinton campaign has suggested that Obama is the next McGovern, too liberal to be elected. Assuming that Hillary makes it through the Ohio and Texas primaries and takes her campaign to the convention floor, there will be some striking parallels.

Like Obama, McGovern ran as a candidate from a new generation challenging an unpopular president and an unpopular war. He didn't inspire his crowds to the point of swooning as Obama does but he did have very dedicated followers. Like Obama, McGovern's support was deep but not very wide.

Let me go into more detail about this last part. As I said, in both cases the candidate had a very loyal following. While passionate, it was not deep enough to guarantee the nomination. McGovern did not win enough delegates to get the nomination. He needed the 1972 version of the superdelegates. Similarly, Obama has racked up a lot of wins but may not get a clear majority of the committed delegates.

Like Obama, McGovern was the face of a new generation. He represented youth and energy. His opponent had strong ties to the previous president. Obama's opponent was married to the previous president, McGovern's was vice-president.

The 1972 convention began with a vote over credentials. There was a dispute over how California's delegation should be handled. If McGovern had lost this it would have been a sign that he did not have enough support to win the candidacy. In 2008 the convention will possibly begin with a motion to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates. This will benefit Hillary unfairly. If it passes then things look bad for Obama.

After the convention, the wheels came off of McGovern's campaign. He was extremely liberal and he had run to the left in order to win the nomination. Once the main campaign started he backed off of several proposals he had made. This opened the way for the most effective anti-McGovern ad. Paid for by the "Democrats for Nixon" the ad featured a coin goig back and forth as an announcer repeated positions that McGovern had switched positions on.

Obama will have problems with promises he has made on the campaign trail. Canada has already expressed concern about his views on NAFTA. After implying that he is totally against NAFTA, aything that Obama does will seem like a flip. He has put himself out on a limb with other positions.

The thing that probably hurt McGovern the most was his vice-presidential choice. The man he chose, Eagleton, turned out to have problems. He had been given electro-shock therapy for stress. This was obviously someone who should not be a heartbeat away from becoming president.

It is unlikely that Obama will make a choice this bad. A lot more background research is done on potential running mates these days to keep this from happening again.

McGovern's campaign never caught fire. His support never grew beyonf his initial supporters. His promises to end the war sounded alternately like pandering, surrender, or desperation. It turned out that the war was not unpopular enough to elect McGovern. He went down to a historic defeat.

Obama might follow this path. His following seems creepy to many independent voters. Iraq was never as unpopular as Viet Nam and recent gains in Iraq will give McCain an edge over Obama's call for a quick pull-out.

It is possible that Obama will not follow McGovern's path. I a recent column, E. J. Dionne speculated that Obama is like Reagan. Maybe, but I doubt it. Reagan had been a political fixture for some time before running for president. He had been governor of California and ran in 1976. He was an experienced administrator and a known quantity. He was also pushing a new philosophy. Obama was unknown four years ago and does not have any major accomplishments to his name. He talks about change and being a new type of politician but his platform is boilerplate liberal. If he has a new idea he has yet to articulate it.

In his inaugural address, Reagan said the eight scariest words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." These eight words also sum up Obama's governing philosophy.