A quick primary pick here, before we get on to the awards and the talking points.
Wyoming will be holding its Democratic caucus tomorrow. This one is pretty easy, since the Clinton campaign has already all but conceded the race to Barack Obama. There is no polling easily available, but I'm going to take a wild stab at it and say that Obama will win the Wyoming caucus.
There may be an interesting trend here, one that I don't believe others have picked up on yet. It's tough to factor in the misogynist vote versus the racist vote (and make no mistake, both do exist, in both parties), and much attention has been paid to exit polling from Ohio suggesting that one-fifth of Ohio voters may have voted on the basis of race (to the benefit of Clinton). But Obama, if he wins Wyoming, will be on his way to sweeping the Rocky Mountain states. Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming are not generally known as the most racially tolerant states in the Union. Yet Obama won them all. Further evidence may be found in the Plains states of Nebraska and North Dakota, which also voted for Obama. Colorado is a bit more cosmopolitan (and increasingly so), and it also went for Obama. Does any of this mean anything? Is the misogynist or anti-Hillary vote bigger than the racially-tinged vote in these states? Or is it just that most of them caucused instead of held primaries? I don't know the answers, but I think it's a story worth exploring.
Anyway, my pick for Wyoming is Obama. A quick check on my running total, and then it's on to this week's awards. I picked seven out of eight right this Monday, missing only Texas. I was even pretty close in the margins of victory, as well. I predicted Obama would win Vermont by 20 points; and Clinton would win Rhode Island by 10 (which was low, as it turned out), and Ohio by five to ten (also a bit low, but within my range). And I did predict Texas would be close. This raises my Democratic total percent right to 67%, and I close out the Republican primary season having called almost three out of four (74%) races correctly. Woo hoo!
Total correct Democratic picks so far: 32 for 48.
Total correct 2008 Republican picks: 37 for 50.
Total overall correct picks: 69 for 98 -- 70%.
There's no question that this week's MIDOTW award should go to Hillary Clinton. Winning three out of four states this Tuesday was most impressive indeed.
Her husband had casually laid down a marker the previous week, stating that if she won Ohio and Texas, she would win the nomination, but if she didn't, she probably wouldn't. He was probably speaking "off script" (as he is so very wont to do), because it would only be used to pressure her to drop out of the campaign if she hadn't managed to pull it off.
But pull it off she did. She won impressive victory margins in Rhode Island and Ohio, and edged Obama out in Texas, despite being outspent everywhere and despite Obama's impressive ground organization (especially in Texas). Sure, she didn't catch up in the delegate count by more than a handful, and sure, Obama whomped her in Vermont (he got both Ben and Jerry's endorsement, which no doubt helped), but Hillary won crucial bragging rights this week. She won big, which can be taken two ways. First, her margin in Ohio was impressively big. Second, she can continue to claim that she's won all the "big" states so far (except Illinois, Obama's home state).
This will keep her campaign alive to Pennsylvania, and likely beyond -- all the way to the convention perhaps. But the story would have been "pressure builds for Hillary to drop out" if she hadn't won Texas, so for doing so she has earned the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award.
For the first time in this column's history, the winner of Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week is also the winner of the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week: Senator Hillary Clinton. She wins this award for three reasons.
The first was the fact that (although few noticed it) she blew the opening line on her appearance on Saturday Night Live. For the almost the entire 82-year history of the show (ahem), the opener has been the very-easy-to-pronounce: "Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night!" Hillary went all Ivy League on us, changing it to "it is Saturday Night." Sheesh. Luckily for her, nobody in the media noticed the gaffe, and it went largely unremarked. But some things are sacred, which is why I feel duty-bound to point it out here.
The second (and much bigger) reason for her winning MDDOTW is the way she campaigned in Ohio and Texas for the past week. Barack Obama (quoting one of Hillary's advisors) calls it the "kitchen sink" strategy (as in "throw everything at him, including the..."). Now, it is true that she was fighting for her political life in the Ohio and Texas primaries. The drumbeats had started calling for her to exit the race if she lost either state, and they were getting louder (I admittedly contributed by predicting just that, the day before the vote). So she was in a "must-win" situation. And she proved that she would do anything to win by her now-infamous television ad (which the Clinton camp had the cojones to actually call a "positive ad"), whose message was apparently a refinement of FDR's famous line: "We have nothing to fear except... that if Hillary Clinton isn't in the White House, your children will all die horribly at 3:00 A.M.!" The ad, it should be noted, was just one in a series of attacks on Obama which came straight out of Karl Rove's playbook: attack your opponent not on his weaknesses, but your own. They even desperately tried to get the press interested in an Obama land deal -- conveniently forgetting the entire Whitewater investigation fiasco.
But, lo and behold, they hadn't forgotten! Which brings us to the third reason Hillary wins MDDOTW hands-down. Because Barack Obama, after what happened in Texas and Ohio, has decided to fight the Clintonian buzz saw with some punches of their own. The Clinton camp's reaction to this was to compare Barack Obama to (of all people) Ken Starr -- for the audacity of pointing out that Hillary hasn't yet publicly released her tax forms. So, according to the Clinton campaign, the media asks Hillary tough questions but gives a free ride to Obama, they should ask tough questions about an Obama land deal because "you never know, if there's smoke maybe there's fire," but when Obama asks what is a standard question in any campaign (one which Hillary herself asked her Senate race opponent) -- for the release of tax forms -- all of a sudden he's Ken Starr? Puh-leeze.
So I retract my prediction from Monday -- Hillary has proven she's not going anywhere and is in this race to win no matter what it takes. Maybe that's what the Democrats need to beat McCain in the fall, who knows? But as for this particular week, she should be ashamed of her tactics. So right next to her MIDOTW award, Senator Clinton can put the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week as well.
Onward to this week's Friday Talking Points, which begin by refocusing Democrats on what is important in 2008 -- beating John McCain like a big brass drum.
Volume 22 (3/7/08)
This one is just brilliant. If pushed hard enough, this concept could single-handedly defeat John McCain in November. There's a new ad out from a 527 group called "Campaign to Defend America" (sorry, not much of a website yet, apparently) that just absolutely skewers McCain, pinning him to George Bush like an impaled butterfly on a seventh-grader's bug collection. It's called "McSame."
My hat is off to this ad. Well done! This is what framing is all about. I wouldn't change a word....
To really push the McSame label, here's a quick and easy-to-follow rule for any Democrat speaking anywhere from now until the November election: Whenever you say John McCain's name, be sure to use Bush's name in the same sentence.
Tie the two together with a vengeance.
"I don't think the country really wants a continuation of the Bush/McCain Iraq strategy."
"John McCain has called for the same fiscal policy as George W. Bush. I think the America's had about enough of that, and wants a change this year."
"Did you really enjoy the last eight years of Bush? Then get ready for four more with McCain, because make no mistake about it -- a vote for McCain is a vote for a third Bush term."
100 years in Iraq
Democrats are already getting good mileage out of this one. John McCain publicly stated that it would be OK with him if American troops were in Iraq for the next 100 years.
Now, to be fair, he was making a subtle point about how we're still in Korea, Germany, Japan, etc.
But, to be completely unfair (this is politics, after all), McCain's words need to be hung around his neck like the albatross carcass they truly are. At every opportunity. Because he is so far out of mainstream American opinion on this issue that it needs a 100,000-watt spotlight on it every chance Democrats get. Democrats need to remind voters that Democrats are the ones who agree with them about what to do in Iraq, as survey after survey has shown.
"John McCain would be happy with U.S. troops in Iraq for the next 100 years. American soldiers in Iraq in the year 2108. Imagine that for a moment. I think the voters will reject this dangerous idea come November. 100 years in Iraq? No thank you, Senator McCain."
Let Michigan and Florida re-vote
To convince the media, average Americans, and (most importantly) the two Democratic candidates that the party is doing the right thing, Democrats everywhere need to start pressuring Florida and Michigan to reschedule their vote. We need to be unified as a party on this contentious issue -- no matter which candidate you think it would help or hurt. The two states broke the rules. But, as I said a month ago, there's a loophole that can save them -- all they have to do is vote over again.
"I call on Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean to sit down with representatives from the Florida and Michigan state governments, so they can hammer out a fair plan to make sure the voters of those states are properly represented at the national convention this year. The states will have to figure out how to manage setting up a fair vote that falls within party rules so that we can move forward and concentrate on defeating John McCain in November."
Bush tops Reagan's vacation record
President Bush has just topped a record that was hard to beat -- the number of days Ronald Reagan was on vacation during his two terms in office. Reagan relaxed for 866 days during his eight years in office. George Bush now stands at 879 days of not doing the country's business.
"No matter which Democrat you think would be better answering the phone at 3:00 A.M. in the White House, it's clear that either of them would be better than George Bush -- who has now spent more time vacationing away from that White House phone than any president in history. Isn't it about time we get a president who, upon receiving a memo titled 'Bin Laden determined to strike in US,' actually does something about it -- rather than telling the bearer, 'All right. You've covered your ass,' before returning to his vacation, as George Bush did?"
Plagiarism in the White House
This isn't about Barack Obama getting lines from a supporter. This is about the man George Bush hired to be Special Assistant to the President (in charge of reaching out to religious groups and conservatives, no less!), who had to resign in disgrace recently when it was discovered that he pretty much can't write a sentence without cutting-and-pasting it from someone else.
Timothy S. Goeglein (it would be the height of irony if that's pronounced "Google-in") had to resign because it was discovered by a blogger that he had plagiarized an article he wrote for the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. Upon further scrutiny, proof emerged that more and more of Goeglein's columns had been lifted from other (unattributed) sources.
"George Bush's special assistant has now joined the growing list of administration officials who have resigned in disgrace for not living up to the morals they preach to the rest of us. It's a clear case of: 'Do as I say, not as I do.' Or, to be fully accurate: 'Do as someone else says, not as I do.'"
Officer, arrest that man!
President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney had better steer clear of the towns of Brattleboro and Marlboro, both in Vermont. Because both towns just voted to direct their police to arrest the Bush and Cheney for "crimes against our Constitution," so that they may be extradited "to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them."
Heh. You just gotta love Vermont!
Of course, no word on exactly what "other authorities" are going to do with the two nefarious characters when the town cops turn them over. As far as I know, the House of Representatives still considers impeachment "off the table." But that doesn't mean it's not a line to have fun with in an interview.
"It's extraordinary that the President and Vice President basically have arrest warrants waiting for them in two Vermont towns. It should be seen as an indictment against Bush and Cheney by average Americans for not living up to their oath of office. Democrats are standing up for the rule of law -- the highest law in the land."
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post
-- Chris Weigant