"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you”


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What Do We Do With Bill?

It must have been one of the fundamental questions TeamHillary pondered while formulating its 2008 presidential campaign strategy.

Clearly, Clinton Nineties Nostalgia would be a central part of Hillary's candidacy. The strategists were banking on human nature. Most of us choose to remember positive memories over painful experiences and TeamHillary's strategy would be to focus on the best aspects of the Clinton years. They were counting on the electorate's fond memories of the economic boom, soaring stock market and the "hiatus from history" that marked the decade between the end of the Cold War and the arrival of foreign terrorists on America's shores. They also understood the political battles of the decade (re: the L'affair Lewinsky) seemed frivolous in retrospect to today's life and death questions.

Politicos of all ideological persuasions acknowledged former President Clinton as one of his generation's foremost political strategists. Having Bill as her senior adviser would be an unrivaled campaign weapon, as long as the private scandals remained part of the past and he did not outshine his candidate spouse. Overall, Bill had to be viewed as one of the campaign's most powerful assets.

However, they probably didn't foresee the inexplicable evaporation of Bill's political Midas touch. In recent weeks, Bill has become a liability whenever he garners media attention. Whether he's accusing her Democratic rivals of "piling on" and "swift-boating" Hillary or he's revising his Iraq war position, he seems to have found a knack to knock the campaign off-stride.

I start to wonder, what happened to his vaunted political wisdom? Or is that simply another example of the selective amnesia inherent to a campaign built on nostalgia?

The question for TeamHillary, one month prior to the Iowa caucuses remains:

"What do we do with Bill?"

America's Credibility & The NeoCon Cowboys

Oh, Canada! A Canadian judge rules the United States should not be considered a safe haven for refugees. Now we can add our neighbor to the Great White North to the roster of nations (The Coalition of the No Longer Gullible?) who view America as troublemakers and a source of global instability.

The "shoot fast and furious, torture thoroughly and aggressively" Neocon mentality continues to diminish America's international stature.

Despite the growing international consensus, our Commander-in-Chief continues the sabre-rattling over Iranian nukular intentions despite the just-revealed NIE showing Tehran suspended its weapons program four years ago. From yesterday's press conference:

Q The clarification is, are you saying that this NIE will not lead to a change in U.S. policy toward Iran, or shift in focus?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm saying that I believed before the NIE that Iran was dangerous, and I believe after the NIE that Iran is dangerous. And I believe now is the time for the world to do the hard work necessary to convince the Iranians there is a better way forward.

-- snip --

So our policy remains the same. I see a danger. And many in the world see the same danger. This report is not a "okay, everybody needs to relax and quit" report.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was on Hardball last night:

"If this weren't so deadly earnest. This isn't about curiosity. It's about credibility. This administration has damaged us to a degree that no other administration has in American history."
The Bush/Cheney NeoCon cabal loses credibility (if there was any remaining) and America's international influence is diminished. How will this play out in the presidential campaign? The two frontrunners, Hillary and Rudy, both already showing signs of weakness in recent polls are likely to be weakened further.

The news strikes the very foundation of Rudy's candidacy - terrorists are everywhere - or are they? Hillary's experience argument takes a hit as the electorate will once again question the wisdom of her Iran vote. How much experience does she need before she gets foreign policy correct?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Does Sitting on the Fence = Leadership?

Over the weekend, news reports quoted Sen. Clinton as readying up attacks questioning her Democratic rivals' character. It looks like Democratic Courage, a liberal activist group, is preempting the First Lady. They're launching what is being described as the first negative campaign of the Democratic nomination contest.

I'm not sure I even see this as "negative," as it compliments Hillary's visionary policy proposal and only criticizes her for quickly backing down when Rudy denounces the idea as "socialism." It poses a fair question: What will Hillary stand for as president?

Democratic Courage is trying to get this onto the airwaves in Iowa. If you have some xtra change in the tip jar, consider giving them a hand at their ActBlue page.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Strap Yourselves in, Boys & Girls. It's going to be a bumpy ride...

The mad sprint to the Iowa caucuses (and the tendency of Iowa Dems to change their minds and dramatically change the dynamics of the Democratic nominating process) has begun. With 30 days of campaigning left (minus one or two days around Christmas, of course - Jesus wouldn't like anyone crassly campaigning on his birthday!) and a summer that saw Hillary make gains which would have provided her the coronation she has been planning for decades, it now looks like the three-way we've long anticipated is coming to fruition.

According to the WaPo: Sen. Clinton has decided if they're going to pile on, she's going to fight back: Losing Ground in Iowa, Clinton Assails Obama.

Despite all the efforts of the Clinton machine, it looks like we've got a real (if brief) race on our hands. Might as well forget about the "politics of hope" because this looks like its going to be more "politics as usual."

Clinton has hammered Obama recently over his health-care proposal, arguing that he is misleading voters because it omits millions of people and would not lower costs. But Sunday, in a dramatic shift, she made it clear that her goal is to challenge Obama not just on policy but also on one of his strongest selling points: his reputation for honesty.

"There's a big difference between our courage and our convictions, what we believe and what we're willing to fight for," Clinton told reporters here. She said voters in Iowa will have a choice "between someone who talks the talk, and somebody who's walked the walk."

Asked directly whether she intended to raise questions about Obama's character, she replied: "It's beginning to look a lot like that."

To assure your safety and full enjoyment of our democratic process, please keep you arms and legs inside the roller-coaster at all times. Whatever you do, don't close your eyes!