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Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Very sad about Russert. Personally I found his 'gotcha' interviewing style annoying, but he clearly had a passion for politics and I think it's sad he didn't get to see how this cycle plays out. R.I.P.

Obama deploys 3,600 freshly trained volunteers this weekend

DNC HQ moves to Chicago:

Barack Obama's move to merge key elements of the Democratic National Committee into his own campaign's Chicago headquarters appears aimed at the goal of a centralized and united Democratic Party.

The shift of the DNC's political and field organizing operations to Chicago will consolidate the Democratic presidential campaign apparatus more than in either of the last two cycles, when staffers at DNC headquarters overlapped – and occasionally competed – with aides to Al Gore and John Kerry.

Obama's move also seemed aimed at producing minimum conflict: The DNC didn't immediately fire any of its staff, and Obama's aides have publicly embraced DNC Chairman Howard Dean's vision of a party competitive in all 50 states. But it also left no doubt about where the new center of power lies: On the 11th floor of an undistinguished office tower on Michigan Avenue.

Now, Obama's large, deep-pocketed effort seems set to absorb and transform the committee's key functions, and to reshape it after its own model, and largely on its own turf—though Obama's former Iowa state director, Paul Tewes, will remain in Washington to oversee the party's fundraising and media operations there. Obama's aides credit part of their success to the Chicago location, with its relative isolation from the national media.

"Pulling people into the same city is a good idea," said David Wilhelm, an informal adviser to Obama who served as Bill Clinton's presidential campaign manager in 1992 and is also a former DNC chairman. "It can have a very important effect on the outcome. A seamless level of coordination and collaboration between the national, state, and presidential campaign itself will mean the ground game can be effective and the 2 to 3 percentage points that can be the difference between winning and losing."

key aides will be working side by side in the sprawling cubicles in Chicago, effectively part of the same organization, a move that many Democrats praised as a welcome departure from the party's balkanized tradition. One former DNC chairman, Steve Grossman, however, expressed concern that the demand that staffers leave their families behind in Washington to head to the center of power in Chicago – a common situation for Obama aides – would drive away some DNC staff.

But Obama seems intent on avoiding the organizational woes of earlier Democratic campaigns. His campaign has valued centralized power over creative tension, and his internal motto is "no drama."

And so the shift will be a marked departure from 2004, when tensions between the DNC and the Kerry campaign sometimes ran hot.

"They were both in Washington, but they might as well have been in different cities," said one Democratic official, who noted that in key states the organizations sometimes duplicated their efforts – and occasionally stepped on one another's toes.

Josh Marshall thinks the tough primary battle benefited Obama:

Hillary supporters claimed that there was nothing that Hillary was throwing at Obama that McCain and Co. wouldn't be thrown at him later. So at a minimum she was helping him get the stuff behind him and perhaps even making him a stronger candidate.

This always struck me as what I can only very generously term a deeply disingenuous argument. And I still find it deeply disingenuous. But I'm coming around to the belief that it may have been an accurate one -- much more than I realized or was willing to credit.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think Hillary was trying to do Barack any favors. (see Matthew 18:7) But looking forward, it seems far better to me that all the Reverend Wright, Rezko, Bitter and and all the rest are out there and run through and basically old news. Better they were run through in the spring than the summer or the fall.

What's more, in these first few days of the general election, in addition to McCain's and Obama's fundamental qualities as candidates, I think it is increasingly evident that both campaigns are hitting the ground at very, very different speeds. Clinton gave Obama one hell of a run for his money. He's been campaigning and fighting at a fever pitch -- as has his whole campaign -- for months. And it shows.

On the contrary, McCain's operation is simply a wreck. Flabby. Disorganized. Sometimes comical. And one big reason for that is that McCain hardly won the nomination. It defaulted to him. Looked at with some distance and perspective the Republican race fell out as follows: Rudy imploded because of the combustible force of his own militant ridiculousness. Then Huckabee gutted Romney. And since Huckabee was too out there (ironically, simultaneously too sane and too looney to pass Republican muster) that left McCain. With the rest of the field flopping around like fish on dry land, McCain was able to sew the nomination quickly with pluralities in the GOP's winner-take-all contests.

No discussion of this race would be complete without reference to the many damaging factors that are beyond McCain's control -- the collapse of public support for the Republican party, the Iraq War, the deep unpopularity of President Bush, etc. But when you see trainwrecks like the McCain camp's lame effort to upstage Obama on his victory night with that lime green speech clunker, it becomes evident that this campaign just hasn't had a chance to go head to head with a real competitor. And it shows.

Obama considering a world tour

Obama asked the meaning of life (his answer isn't particularly profound, I just think it's an funny question to ask a politician. On the one hand it's totally absurd to look to politicians for those kinds of answers, but it's definitely a question with the potential to provoke an interesting response.)

McCain on 'privatization' - The DNC ad (vid)

Cillizza provides the pros and the cons of Sebelius as VP. In his 'con' argument he makes some valid points, but he repeats one argument I've also seen elsewhere that I just don't understand:

With Clinton now formally gone from the race, her most fervent female supporters have taken up the cause of putting her on the ticket as the vice president. To snub Clinton in favor of another woman -- Sebelius -- would be a slight that many women might not be able to reconcile themselves to.

Does that make any sense???

Enter the Blogopticon

Vanity Fair has an article about torture, reminding us why these elections matter:

The abuse, rising to the level of torture, of those captured and detained in the war on terror is a defining feature of the presidency of George W. Bush. Its military beginnings, however, lie not in Abu Ghraib, as is commonly thought, or in the "rendition" of prisoners to other countries for questioning, but in the treatment of the very first prisoners at Guantánamo. Starting in late 2002 a detainee bearing the number 063 was tortured over a period of more than seven weeks. In his story lies the answer to a crucial question: How was the decision made to let the U.S. military start using coercive interrogations at Guantánamo?

The Bush administration has always taken refuge behind a "trickle up" explanation: that is, the decision was generated by military commanders and interrogators on the ground. This explanation is false. The origins lie in actions taken at the very highest levels of the administration—by some of the most senior personal advisers to the president, the vice president, and the secretary of defense. At the heart of the matter stand several political appointees—lawyers—who, it can be argued, broke their ethical codes of conduct and took themselves into a zone of international criminality, where formal investigation is now a very real option. This is the story of how the torture at Guantánamo began, and how it spread.

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