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


Thursday, April 24, 2008

MSNBC: Falls for One of the "Oldest Tricks in Politics"

This story has been in the "hourly loop" playing during MSNBC's "The Place for Politics" daytime coverage. There's a new anti-Obama ad (in addition to the abysmal NC State GOP one "denounced" by McCain yesterday) being peddled by the creator of the infamous 1988 Willie Horton ad. I say "peddled" because there has been no "buy."

Oh, but no worries. MSNBC (and I'm sure the other 24-7 cable outlets) have decided to hawk what these fearmongers are shelling out for free.

The ad shows scenes from a desolate urban streetscape with tag lines saying "Tamika McFadden-Harris: Murdered shielding her daughter. Mike Boyd: Beaten with bricks in gang attacks." These are shown on the TeeVee screen as Contessa Brewer dutifully reads from the teleprompter:
A conservative third party group led by infamous ad man Floyd Brown claims Senator Obama is weak on street gangs and will be just as easy with terrorists. Well, here's the catch: Brown does not have a single ad buy in any TV market. Instead of paying for airtime, he just announces this in a press release for outlets like YouTube to pick up."
Contessa introduces the segment's talking heads (Craig Gordon from Newsday and Jonathan Allen from CQPolitics.com) and without even a hint of self-awareness, Contessa pivots to Gordon and asks:

"OK, so, Craig, is this a new way to get your ad covered without buying any time?

Craig (laughing) says, "Uh, it's actually one of the oldest tricks in politics where you, uh, even, even respectable campaigns will do this sometimes. Where they will announce an ad. They'll show the reporters. They'll be very vague about how much money they're going to spend putting it on the air. We all write about it. You put it on your TV networks and they've - voila! they've got their ad out there.

So, it's actually kind of an old trick that folks use sometime. Obviously, it's a pretty controversial topic for an ad. And we're talking about it here today so he's probably accomplished what he hoped to accomplish."

Come on, MSNBC. You don't even have to have a long memory to remember when Huckabee pulled this stunt. One of the reasons these "tricks" work is because the media enables and promotes them.

A Blue Wave Building

Much has been made about the surge in democratic registration across the country. As the Pennsylvania primary approached, the MSM reported about the long-time Republican bastions of Montgomery and Bucks Counties outside Philadelphia had flipped - becoming majority Democratic jurisdictions. This Democratic surge has been widely viewed by politicos as one of the positive side-effects of the interminable Democratic nomination fight, as party-building has preceded voting in each successive primary contest.

We've now got news that the trend continues, post-primary, in a critical state. The California Majority Report has reviewed the voter registration trends in California since the Golden State voted on SuperTuesday and Democrats continue to widen the gap between the two parties across the state:

This boost in Democratic registration isn't simply a temporary lift propelled by interest in the February presidential primary. In every Assembly district in the state since the cutoff for registration for the February primary, Democratic registration has risen while Republican registration has declined. Overall, Democratic registration has inched up by .6 percent statewide. Meanwhile GOP numbers continue their free-fall, declining by .4 percent, in the period between January 22nd and April 4th.

OH-18: No Sophomore Slump in Ohio

After the historic mid-term elections, the Republicans claimed they lost many of their seats not because of a bankrupt brand, failed policies or a widespread rejection by voters across the nation. Instead, they said their majority was lost because of a series of individual scandals. The "handful" of scalliwags, the thinking went, lost "safe" GOP districts: DeLay, Foley, Pombo and the litany of Abramoff-tinged congresscritters. They figured these districts would be easily recaptured in 2008, a presidential year when these districts would return to their red roots.

Well, it looks like one of those target districts, Zack Space's 18th District in Ohio, may be firming up for the Democrats. Due Space's strong fundraising and the Republican nominee's lack of resources, CQ Politics has changed it's rating in the race from "Leans Dem" to "Dem Favored." They write:

The typically strong conservative leanings of 18th District voters — President Bush took 57 percent of the vote there when he ran for re-election in 2004 — had Space perched precariously near the top of the GOP’s target list when this election cycle began.
But the Republicans still are struggling to recover from the damage done by the downfall of once-popular Republican Rep. Bob Ney, who dropped his bid for a seventh House term well into the 2006 campaign and then pled guilty to federal corruption charges related to his ties to convicted influencing-peddling lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Furthermore, the Republican nominated in the March 4 primary to challenge Space — Fred Dailey, a former state agriculture director — has a relatively low political profile, and a dangerously low amount of money in his campaign treasury. Updated campaign finance reports that both candidates recently filed with the Federal Election Commission show Dailey had just $36,000 left in his campaign account when April began, compared to the nearly $1 million in cash on hand reported by Space.

So, while Democratic turmoil continues at the presidential level, the downballot races continue to move toward building a stronger majority.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

MS-01: Dem Childers In May Run-Off

While most eyes have been diverted this evening to the Keystone State Presidential Battle, Democrats came within a whisker-thin margin of picking up a deeply red district in the Deep South.

Travis Childers received 49% of the vote in the six candidate race to replace newly-appointed Senator Roger Wicker in MS-01. Coming less than 1,000 votes needed to reach the 5% threshold, Childers will now face a May 13 run-off with second-place finisher Greg Davis to finish out the term. Both will face each other again as the nominees for the same seat in November.

It will be much harder for Childers to turn the seat blue in November when turnoe to put surges nationwide for the presidential contest. But the fact he is a viable candidate in a conservative district provides another example of the Democrats' expanding playing field in the current political atmosphere.

The NRCC, already low on funds, has a tough decision to make. Do they expend their limited resources in defending this vulnerable seat (along with Louisiana 06)? Or do they husband their resources, and risk letting another seat (or two) slip from their control further demoralizing donors and members?

Let's hope the DCCC decides their "all in" in both races.

Who's Got the Teflon Armor?

The juxtaposition of two Gallup polls today provides an interesting snapshot of the American electorate in the midst of one of the most unpredictable presidential contests.

They contain promising news regarding the "macroclimate" for Democrats in the about-to-begin general election campaign but some troubling signals regarding presumptive GOP nominee John McCain's early strength.

The first shows Bush hitting historic lows. He's at 28% approval - the worst rating in the 70-year history of Gallup's presidential polling. Makes me wonder what McCain's strategists are thinking by continuing to embrace a failed presidency. What's the point of "shoring up the base" when they're abandoning their standard-bearer in record numbers? Or, can McCain escape (and perhaps reverse) the downward spiral of the Republican brand?

The second poll also contains good news for Barack Obama. It hints that Obama may indeed be the 21st century's first teflon candidate. Despite the media's pitbull tenacity about the "bitterly clinging" comments, today's poll shows only 26% of voters view Obama as "looking down on them." More (32%) view Hillary Clinton as the elitist in the nomination contest.
But before Democrats get too overconfident, there's another candidate for the Teflon Candidate. Fewer voters (only 22%) view McCain as less out of touch:


Is this more evidence the Democratic infighting is hurting Clinton and Obama while elevating McCain? It's also an early and worrisome signal that McCain may not have the Bush legacy as an albatross around his neck.

It's time for Democrats to end the intramural death match and move on to target McCain.

This is just a start from the DNC:

MoveOn: Videos for Obama...

Proving once again how the Internet has transformed politics, thousands of Americans responded to MoveOn's request to make campaign videos for the Obama campaign.

Campaign 2008 has shown the grassroots can reject the punditocracy's "inside the beltway" conventional wisdom. Let's take the next step and show the high-priced PR and political message shapers how real Americans want to run a campaign.

YOU can vote to select the one you want to have put on the TeeVee by going HERE.

Here is one of my favorites.

E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many, One.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Sunday Muse

Random Green thoughts...for Earth Week 2008.

At BushCo, the EPA's Acronym Stands for Everybody Pollutes Anyway! The National Journal reports the reign of current administrator Stephen Johnson may mark a historic low in the efficacy of the nation's pollution police. For those that remember James Watt and Anne Gorsuch Burford during the Reagan years, that's a pretty low bar to duck under. But is anyone really shocked that a BushCo agency is ignoring scientific advice, promoting incompetent sycophants, rolling back regulations, slashing agency funds and kowtowing to business interests? Anyone?

How Green is Your Governor? California's Governator and governors from 17 other states have signed an agreement urging the next president quickly adopt aggressive limits on greenhouse grasses. Breaking with his party's "head in the sand" environmental policies, Schwarzenegger proclaimed, "Washington is asleep at the wheel, and we can't wait for them." Of the eighteen states, only three (CA, CT and FL) are led by Republican governors.

Big Brother Isn't Watching Big Business: The Treasury Department is asking hedge fund managers to voluntarily police themselves and provide greater transparency. Besides the fact only a handful of the 800 registered fund managers have signed on to the idea, I ask, "Can anyone remember the last time this 'less regulation is better' BushCo approach actually worked? Does anyone (beyond McCain, that is) believe the subprime crisis was due to too much regulation? Or unsafe imports from China occured because of too much government oversight?

BushCo's "Transparency" Becomes a Continental Affliction: BushCo is hosting the leaders of Canada, Mexico in New Orleans to meet with corporate execs of major multinationals (think Chevron, Wal-Mart) to discuss a Security and Prosperity Partnership with our continental neighbors. What are they discussing? In the grand tradition of the Cheney Energy Task Force, we really don't know:

What’s on the table? Not much is public, but we do know that the executive powers of the three countries are hammering out regulatory changes that they claim do not require legislative approval. And given who’s in the room, it’s a safe bet that these changes will favor narrow corporate interests over the public good.

Don't worry. I'm sure the Democratic Congress is all over this. They'll call hearings, discover the American public is getting hosed by corporate greed and declare, "See? We did something? Without us in the majority you would've never known how you were being screwed! At least now you know!"

Straight Economic Talk About John McCain. Bloomberg debunks McCain's claim to fiscal responsibility. Sustained tax cuts and a balanced budget are impossible. At least he can say, "I told you I don't know much about the economy."