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


Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Grey Lady Learns Sex Doesn't Sell

This week's New York Times article about John McCain has been chewed up, digested and regurgitated by the 24/7 news cycle and what should come as no surprise to any alert 21st century citizen - the conventional wisdom's final conclusion completely misses the point.

Let's get this straight. The story is about the possibility of influence peddling by the self-styled ethics reformer and presumptive GOP nominee John McCain. It was not about sex. It never was.

The Times made a huge blunder by mentioning campaign staff's suspicions about a romantic relationship developing between the Senator and an attractive young lobbyist. Whether it was used as a hook to pique the interest of a salacious public or they actually thought the story would be more powerful by including this anonymously sourced "gossip" the end effect was devastating. It allowed the right wing noise machine to ratchet up attacks on the "liberal media" and created enough clutter to obscure the real story. The rabid Right Wing Freak Show suceeded in making the journalistic practices of the Times (and by extension the entire Main Stream Media) the diversionary story.

The feeding frenzy was reminiscent of the CBS News/Bush Air National Guard story during the 2004 presidential campaign. The truth of the underlying facts of a story are lost in the echo chamber. The press is silenced into submission. A timid press corps diminishes the likelihood of maintaining a vibrant public discussion vital to a healthy democracy.

And the REAL STORY is this: McCain is a politician who has made his national reputation by publicly denouncing the power of money and the influence of lobbyists in our political system while at the same time taking money from powerful corporate interests, developing cozy relationships with these "evil" lobbyists and may have even used his position to influence policy in their favor.

McCain defends his actions:

Whether or not McCain had sexual relations with that woman is unimportant to me (as it was regarding another politician during another place and time). What is important is whether the Senator's Straight Talk is simply more Republican Corporate DoubleSpeak. Americans are tired of our leaders talking out of both sides of their mouths.

Brave New Films has a take on McCain's "Friends"

Do something! Sign the petition asking McCain to end his ties to corporate lobbyists.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Her Last Prayer

Much has been written over the past month about how Hillary Clinton's coronation coalition has shrunk with each primary contest. First, it was African-Americans, the young and highly educated "latte liberals." They were followed by blue collar union members, white men, low-income households and voters in their thirties and forties. Most recently, her support among her "demographic firewalls" - Hispanics and low-income women has softened considerably.

But, have no fear, TeamHillary. It appears you've managed to hold onto a *key* Democratic constituency. Gallup reveals today the New York Senator retains an advantage among highly religious white Democrats.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

McCain v. Obama & Public Financing

I've had some friends express concern about the general election public financing challenge McCain has made to Obama. Will Obama honor his earlier promise to accept public financing? Or will he be tempted by his shiny new money tree - which grows greenbacks faster than kudzu. The temptation of a million dollars a day may entice the Apostle of Hope to shed his reform rhetoric, revealing Obama to be just another politician. The pundits are warning a retreat on his earlier promise could be a serious political risk.

If I were an Obama strategist, I'd embrace McCain's challenge. It's a pretty easy decision when you think about it. Each of the major party nominees will receive about $85 million this year. This is given to them after they are officially the nominee. For the Dems that is late August - and the GOP confirm their nominee shortly thereafter.

As I understand it, Obama is free to raise and spend money on his own behalf prior to the convention. It was one of the reasons many wrung their hands in desperation about Edwards' decision to take primary matching funds. He would have been hamstrung from April to August until those funds were available, if he had been the nominee. So, if Obama can raise more than enough money for his summer needs (fending off the GOP machine) AND he can lend his name to raising money for the DNC, DCCC and the DSCC I see absolutely no reason he should not accept public financing.

While it remains to be seen if he can transfer his Midas Touch to the Democratic Party in general, it would behoove him to try. He simply needs to say, "Dean's 50 State Strategy is critical to creating the governing coalition we need to become the change." If only 15% of these Obama donors opt to write their first $25 check to the DNC the party will have tapped into a HUGEpreviously unimagined financial resource.

The Republicans - already falling behind in the congressional committee fundraising race - could find themselves outspent by a factor of 2 or 3 to 1 this cycle. $85 million dollars should be enough to win over the course of the last 10 weeks of the general election campaign. I am confident the Obama advisors will see this and score the political points of accepting public financing. McCain may think they've got Obama the Reformer boxed in on this one, but I have a hunch they're wrong.

Bottom Line: MSM Wants Hillary to Hang On

Barack Obama has now won ten straight contests in the Democratic nomination campaign. He is not just winning - he's blowing his formerly inevitable opponent out of the water. He's expanded beyond his base and proved he's got the tactical ground game to back up his rhetorical brilliance. He has enticed the elusive American youth to vote in unprecedented numbers, tapped into America's deep desire for change and ignited a hope-based movement, attracting independents and Republicans to his campaign.

In a normal year, party elders would be urging the vanquished candidate to see the handwriting on the wall. Understanding the political damage likely to result from a long and divisive battle these superdelegates would be demanding an end to the contest "for the good of the party." The punditocracy would be observing "These lopsided losses are simply too much to overcome" and asking "When will she step aside?"

Instead, we have an ongoing narrative on the cable networks dominated by observations like "Never count the Clinton machine out." "Can victories in Texas and Ohio halt Obama's momentum and provide Hillary an opening?" "The campaign sees a viable path toward the nomination and may hold on through the August Denver convention." "The Clintons may go negative to derail Obama."

While there are scattered comments from the talking heads implying the Fat Lady is approaching the mic it is undeniable the dominant meme remains. Instead of being on a campaign death watch, the media is on the lookout for a "Clinton Comeback." Does anyone out there think if Obama was on a ten state losing streak the entire media-political establishment would not have already raised a deafening chorus demanding he step aside?

I believe there are two factors contributing to this strange, suspended reality. The fact Hillary and Bill are formidable politicians with a vast network and are proven Lazarus-like survivors is secondary to the MSM's profit motive. The nomination battles have helped feed the insatiable appetite of the 24/7 cable news channels. The seemingly "unpredictable" twists and turns of January and February provided fodder for the endless ego-filled television talkfest. When the spectre of this campaign coming to an end is raised on air, you can see the talking heads visibly disappointed. If Hillary throws in the towel, these politicos will see their airtime and public profiles diminished.

A few weeks ago there were stories about how Britney's tragedy feeds tens of millions of dollars into the economy, primarily into big media. This morning, I find myself wondering how much the Hillary & Bill drama pumps into the cable networks coffers?