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Wednesday, November 12, 2008


This coming Tues the last primary elections will take place. Looks like this nomination may officially wrap up shortly after:

Obama's aides said Monday the freshman senator is "now just 49 delegates away" from clinching the nomination and making history as the first African-American Democratic nominee for President.

"We're very close now," David Axelrod, Obama's chief strategist, told the Daily News. "When the primaries end, I think, we'll be where we need to be. ... We'll be at the number we need to claim the nomination."

During the next week, Obama and Clinton will face each other in three primaries where a total of 86 delegates are up for grabs: Puerto Rico on Sunday, followed by South Dakota and Montana on June 3, one week from Tuesday.

The next day, the 200 or so superdelegates who have been waiting for primary season to conclude may start declaring their choices.

The DNC's Rules & Bylaws committee meets the 31st to decide the FL and MI issue. My understanding is that if Clinton doesn't like their ruling she could still take it to the convention to have the issue voted on again. Obviously this would be terrible for the party and make a lot of Dems very upset. But if superdelegates foresee this and decide to go overwhelmingly for Obama next week they could potentially put him over even the higher threshold that would apply if somehow Clinton got FL and MI seated as is. (i.e. saying that not a single person in the State of Michigan prefers Obama to Clinton.)

That Recount movie has led some people to compare then to now. Two examples...

H. Hertzberg has a thoughtful post on the meaning of the popular vote. A snippet:
"We're winning the popular vote," Hillary Clinton said last week, after prevailing in the Kentucky primary by a margin bigger than that by which she lost in Oregon. "More people have voted for me than for anyone who has ever run for the Democratic nomination." These statements must be read with the sort of close grammatical and definitional care that used to inform her husband's descriptions of his personal entanglements. They are not quite true in the normal sense, but if made under oath they would not be prosecutable for perjury, either.

And here's another article which also draws parallels from 2000 to now, and compares HRC's current campaign to her health care initiative.

Paul Waldman offers examples of McCain using his experience as a POW for political gain, concluding:

Of course, McCain has every right to talk about Vietnam as much as he likes. No one disputes that he suffered greatly and demonstrated courage during his ordeal. Politicians since George Washington have used military service to their political advantage. In recent presidential elections, candidates both Democratic and Republican have made their war records central to their campaigns.

But therein lies the problem. In this, as in so much else, McCain is much the same as any politician. Yet that is not the story the news media tell. In their account, McCain is a man of unique authenticity and modesty; not only is he different than other politicians, he's barely a politician at all. McCain is so full of integrity, we have been told countless times, that he would never use his POW history as a political tool. If it turns up in a campaign ad, it must be because he "reluctantly allowed his campaign to spotlight his 5 ½ years in the Hanoi Hilton," as the Politico said in February. In what must have been an attempt to set some sort of record, Fox News reporters and guests repeated the idea that McCain hates talking about Vietnam fifteen times in a single day earlier this month.Of late, Karl Rove has taken to penning absurd columns begging McCain to finally open up and remind people that he was a POW in Vietnam.

For many reporters, what McCain went through forty years ago creates a halo that current transgressions -- like his flip-flopping (on immigration and the Bush tax cuts, for instance), his pandering (to some of the country's most extreme fundamentalists), or the fact that he has stocked his campaign with corporate lobbyists, including some who have represented vicious dictators -- don't seem to dim. When longtime campaign reporter Roger Simon told Chris Matthews on his MSNBC program Hardball that reporters give McCain "a break or two or three or four or five hundred," Matthews replied, "Because he served in Vietnam, and a lot of us didn't."

Well it's long past time for them to get over it. While there is certainly plenty to admire in what McCain endured in Vietnam, it is only one piece of McCain's history, something that tells us about part, but not all, of his character. The self-righteous way McCain so often proclaims that political calculation doesn't figure into his decision-making says something about his character, too. The fact that he was a POW doesn't necessarily make him knowledgeable or wise or principled. The burden ought to be on him to demonstrate that he has those qualities today, no matter what he went through forty years ago.

Al Giordano reviews Obama's speech
on Latin America last week and calls it a mixed bag. He criticizes some of his more confrontational rhetoric:

Take those statements from Obama's address all lined up together and he offered the same tired fare regarding US-Latin America policy as that served up by his predecessors in the White House, offering failed policies, and myth-based rhetoric, doomed to more failure (and replicating more misery, imposition and authoritarianism upon Latin American peoples) over and over and over again.

But in other respects he finds Obama ahead of the curve:

The gusano faction of elder political bosses that once spoke with one voice for the entire ethnic group of two million Cuban-Americans in the United States is now, itself, divided, with some – like many of the 900 community leaders who gathered under the banner of the Cuban-American National Foundation to hear Obama – also breaking from the pro-embargo orthodoxy, if only out of pragmatic awareness that nobody's going to have much clout at all in the near future without the support and participation of their own adult children and grandchildren.

As with the changes throughout Latin America, Obama can't take credit for causing the demographic shift in the Cuban-American community, but he did something that national US politicians seldom do: He listened beyond the noise machine and heard those rumblings from below, a skill that has served him, a former community organizer, in other ways during this campaign. In this sense, the senator's speech on Friday didn't just tell us some things about him; it showed us other qualities. Since his August 2007 call for easing the embargo, Obama's candidacy has become a rallying point for a newly progressive movement among Cuban-Americans to challenge the old guard. That penchant for listening to what is happening below the radar of outmoded "conventional wisdom" is precisely what has been lacking from most US politicians
The legitimate complaint that Latin American nations and peoples have long had toward the United States has been its "do as you are told" policies of imposition and disrespect toward the democratic decisions and yearnings of all its countries. Obama, in his Miami speech, moved the carpet even further:
"It's time for a new alliance of the Americas. After eight years of the failed policies of the past, we need new leadership for the future. After decades pressing for top-down reform, we need an agenda that advances democracy, security, and opportunity from the bottom up. So my policy towards the Americas will be guided by the simple principle that what's good for the people of the Americas is good for the United States."

When was the last time – if there ever was one – that a US presidential nominee spoke in terms of a "top down" versus "bottom up" dialectic regarding democracy in the Americas? That listening ear of Obama's is revealed once again. The very concept of democracy, in recent years, has been advanced in parts of Latin America. One is reminded of the appearance by Bolivian President Evo Morales on The Daily Show in New York last September, in which host Jon Stewart expressed utter amazement that Morales had succeeded in nationalizing the gas industry, redistributed land through agrarian reform and called a constitutional convention all in his first eight months of office.

The great unacknowledged American story of recent years is that Latin America has become, at the insistence of its peoples, an advanced laboratory developing more progressive, indeed, more democratic ("bottom up," in Obama's words), forms of democracy. This, at the very same hour when, in the United States, executive power has concentrated dangerously and turned the clock back on the most American of liberties and constitutional rights.

Those who seek change in US foreign policy in this hemisphere are likely to have mixed reactions to Obama's speech on the topic. And yet compared to his waning Democratic Party rival, Senator Clinton, and his likely GOP opponent, Senator McCain, the differences he has pushed – for direct eye-to-eye diplomacy with Venezuelan and Cuban leaders, for easing the Cuba embargo, for stopping the US-Colombia trade deal, and his overall penchant for breaking with past policy – an Obama presidency would dramatically shake up the status quo in the Western Hemisphere.

Obama ended his policy speech on Friday using a very different kind of language that signaled respect where historically there has been an expectation of submission. And with three words – "Todos Somos Americanos" – which means, "We Are All Americans" – he spoke across the wall being constructed between Americas much in the same manner as when President John F. Kennedy said "Ich bin ein Berliner" along the Berlin Wall. That's a phrase that's going to be repeated a lot in the coming days and months throughout Latin America

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