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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Now THIS Is Rich!

From Ben Smith's column on Politico:

Harry Smith asked if after the nominating contests end with the South Dakota and Montana primaries on June 3, "Do you want the superdelegates to have some sort of vote immediately so that you'll know months in advance of the convention what the outcome is?” Dean replied: “Well, I think the superdelegates have already been weighing in. I think that there's 800 of them and 450 of them have already said who they're for. I'd like the other 350 to say who they're at some point between now and the first of July so we don't have to take this into the convention.”

An aide explains that July 1 is not a drop-dead deadline: "The point is before the convention, ideally in June."

Dean has been criticized for not taking a heavier hand in ending the bruising contest.
The aide elaborates on the chairman's thinking: "Dean is personally engaged in this process, he's had numerous conversations with over 60 leaders inside and outside of the Democratic Party, to hear their thoughts, get their input and encourage them to help reinforce the importance of keeping the party united behind our nominee in November. ... He does not want to discuss those conversations publicly because in Washington, you can work behind the scenes and not worry about getting credit and actually get something done -- or you can talk about it in the press and not get anything done. But ... he wants to see this resolved before the convention and will encourage the superdelegates to make their choice known once the voters in the remaining states have had their say."

In an interview with AP's Nedra Pickler, Dean also made it clear he wants to get the show on the road. "There'll be some nasty fights if it goes to convention, and people will walk out," he told Nedra. "But I've also been talking to a fairly significant number of, by and large, nonaligned people about how we might resolve this." Nedra adds: "Dean wouldn't talk in detail about what the plan is, but it likely involves encouraging superdelegates to pick a candidate shortly after the voting ends."

So Chairman Dean wants all the unseemely muss done with, eh? "Ideally in June", he says. Chairman Howard Dean is the rocket scientist who created this problem in the first place!

You see, the party which does NOT hold the White House gets to choose the time of its convention, and the party which DOES hold the White House must hold its convention afterwards. When looking at the twenty-odd announced candidates, Howard Dean saw a great deal of potential for animosity and bad blood on the Republican side, while Hillary Clinton was assumed to be the inevitable nominee of the Democrats. So Chairman Dean himself chose the end of August for the Democrats to hold their convention, forcing the Republicans to hold theirs on Labor Day weekend. It seemed like a good idea at the time - a GOP bloodbath that would rankle all summer.

Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Chairman - the GOP has chosen a candidate, and the stresses on the Democrats caused by your timeline will not be easily mended. For Howard Dean, the architect of disaster to piously intone that the campaigns must cease in June and the Super Delegates must choose at the time invites an obvious question - gee, Howard, why didn't you schedule the convention for then?

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

M & M '08?

Many months ago (November of 2006, as it happens), Porcupine was talking with the redoubtable Massachusetts National Committee Man Ron Kaufman about the 2008 race.

It was a badly kept secret that Romney was considering a run, but Kaufman had an interesting insight. "For the last eight years, we've had the vigorous young man with the wise older counselor to guide him (referring to Bush and Cheney). But what about the brave sage, with the energetic and intelligent younger man to aid him and learn from him? THAT would work for eight years as well!"

Of course, Romney's campaign took off in a way that was totally unanticipated, making an obscure Northeastern governor from the wrong party into a national political figure, making him a viable candidate for the nomination itself. But it's interesting that somebody as politically astute as Kaufman may have had this image in mind all along.

And really - can you even imagine a similar photograph of Clinton and Obama?

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Religion and Politics

At the end of the day, the similarities were eerie. Both men made the speech because they felt compelled to explain the issues raised by the brand of theology they espoused, against the advice of some campaign staff. Both men wrote the speeches themselves, with little outside help or editing. Both delivered their speeches in sober suits, in front of a bank of American flags, to emphasize their personal patriotism and dedication to country. Both speeches were widely anticipated and widely autopsied, with the Punditocracy of every persuasion weighing in. Both were hailed as having given the speech of their political careers.

Neither one changed a single mind.

Mitt Romney delivered his speech (text HERE) on last Dec. 7th, at the George Bush Presidential Library in Texas. After reminding his listeners that the Constitution precluded any religious test for office, Romney went on to say, "There are some for whom these commitments are not enough. They would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it is more a tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts. That I will not do. I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers - I will be true to them and to my beliefs."

Barack Obama delivered his speech today (text HERE) and chose the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia as a venue. After carefully explaining that he absolutely disagreed with some of the "wrong and divisive" remarks by his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama went on to say, "I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love."

Their speeches are a credit to both of them. They are both thoughtful men, with fine principles. The American mainstream knows little of liberation theology or Mormonism, and doesn't really care to - which is why Porcupine is sceptical of the effect of Obama's speech.

Romney's speech on faith was to reassure evangelical voters that he was not a zany cultist, but a sincere and religious man who shares their values. Obama's speech was to reassure the public that he was not an ultra-leftist race warrior, but a sincere and religious man who shares their values. Yet the shades of Joseph Smith and the fire-breathing Jeremaids of Rev. Wright continue to hover over them both.

Religion and politics are a volatile mix in America, with direct and collateral damage. Let us hope that the careers of these good men are not part of the casualty count.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Now THAT'S Funny!



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