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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Clinton's "Obama Theory"

This is really a minor point, but what are blogs for if not hand wringing over minor points? Ever since mid February, when it became clear that Obama's lead amongst pledged delegates was becoming too large for Clinton to overcome, there has been quite a lot of talk about the possibility of super delegates coming down decisively for Clinton, and giving her the nomination.

Since having the supers overturn the actual vote totals would be pretty damaging, there has been a lot of pressure, particularly from Obama supporters, on super delegates to affirm the popular vote, or at least affirm the popular will according to how their state voted.

Which leads me to one of biggest pet peeves these last couple months. Whenever a super delegate from a state that voted for Clinton endorses Obama, a bunch of Hillary supporters start clucking about how hypocritical they are, or that they should respect the will of their states voters. It's a talking point I've heard quite a bit for quite a while now, and with the Richardson endorsement it popped up again because New Mexico went for Clinton.

Jane Hamsher, who I otherwise enjoy reading, gave this obtuse sentiment voice last week with a piece for the Huffington Post. It was a rather insulting piece, accusing Richardson of "political opportunism" (a foolish claim, as his endorsement would have been much more valuable before Texas) and talking out of both sides of his mouth.

I have long thought that this argument was self-evidently absurd, but since not everyone's as clever as I am, let me explain. Richardson, and other advocates of the "vote-with-your-state" idea, want ALL super delegates to honor the will of their states. Does Hamsher really believe that if all the other superdelegates signed a pledge to do that that he wouldn't as well? Of course not! Richardson, and every other superdelegate, won't unilaterally disarm, however. Is Hamsher advocating that superdelegates vote as they wish, unless they are Obama supporters, then they have to vote with their state? I should hope she isn't, and yet, it's effectively what she is asking of Richardson.

Now, up until now, when I heard people saying this I didn't make a fuss, and just chalked it up to a zealous defense of their candidate. Sure, when I heard bloggers write it and think they had discovered a clever nut I just made a note to take them less seriously in the future (See: Armando; Armstrong, Jerome; Marsh, Taylor). On Monday, however, I read that Clinton had actually dismissed Richardson's endorsement by making precisely this argument, in a meeting with the Daily News editorial board. She called it the "Obama Theory."

This all made me curious as to how the superdelegates would breakdown if they all did abide by what Clinton dismissively called the "Obama Theory." I took the superdelegate list from Wikipedia, so caveat emptor, but it jived with the DemConWatch blog and the Politico's.

There are a number of ways to run the numbers, so I present three scenerios. The first, is for only states that have already voted, the second is for all the states, with upcoming states allocated according toBowers' projection, and the third is the most generous scenario for Clinton, using Bowers' projections again, but giving her wins in Indiana, Oregon, and North Carolina.

These numbers are if all superdelegates vote according to how their state voted, regardless of the position of the superdelegate. That means that Governers, DNC members, and Congressman vote according to their state. If you wanted to dice it up finer, and count them by there precise constituencies (ie states for governers, districts for representatives, etc) be my guest, but I certainly don't have that kind of time. Here is how it breaks down:

States that have already voted316297Obama by 19
All states, likely projection365360Obama by 5
All states, Clinton wins IN, OR, and NC 324401Clinton by 77

So, considering that Obama will be going into the convention with a 100+ pledged delegate lead, he will still win the nomination under Clinton's "Obama Theory."

The next time someone chides John Kerry or Ted Kennedy for endorsing Obama, ask them if they really want all the superdelegates to embrace this option.

Click "There's more..." for the rest of the post, and the breakdown of superdelegates by states won.


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Tuesday, March 25, 2008


If you haven't heard about the Clinton-Tuzla flap yet, just watch the video at the bottom of this post. Long-story made short, Sen. Clinton embellished the dramatic aspects of a 1996 trip to Tuzla, Bosnia, and video from the time has rather embarrassingly contradicted her account. The image at left is Sen. Clinton ducking sniper fire at the airport.

That this episode lays bare Sen. Clinton's somewhat embellished claims to foreign policy experience has been well covered by other blogs. One aspect of the story that I really haven't seen others discuss, to my surprise, is how this episode undercuts Clinton's long claims ofher experience and ability as a candidate, not as a potential President.

One of the earliest arguments that I remember in favor of Sen. Clinton was that she would run a capable campaign and not let down Democrats in October and November. The argument I heard from Clinton supporters was as follows:
  • The media, as it has done in the past, will jump on any minor misstep or gaffe by the Democratic candidate in the fall, and turn a body gesture or awkward phrase into the downfall of the candidate.
  • Obama is inexperienced as a candidate on the national stage, and thus is more prone to making an amateur mistake.
  • This country will suffer four more years of "surging" in Iraq, inaction on global warming, and right wing supreme court justices all because Obama slipped up in late October.
  • Sen. Clinton has been under the media spotlight for so long that she understands the danger in minor embellishments or how small mistakes can take down candidates, and under such high stakes, we should go with the candidate who won't fumble on the one yard line.
Now, after nearly four months of primaries I haven't heard this line as frequently from Clinton supporters, but it's still around. Obama has shown himself an able candidate who handles crisis deftly. It has been observed frequently recently that had Sen. Kerry addressed the despicable swift boaters similarly to how Obama handled the Rev. Wrigth media flap, he'd be up for reelection right now.

This Tuzla episode, however, should sow real doubt into the minds of Democratic Clinton supporters, in my opinion. The obvious consequence of her running on a platform of experience is that she has had to embellish what is, frankly, not a career built on foreign policy. She will be under even more pressure to pad the resume against Sen. McCain, a man who has been on the foreign relations committee so long that he actually does remember the Alamo.

It would be the height of tragedy if Sen. Clinton won the nomination and then lost the general election (you know, the one that really matters) because the media discovers another dramatically enhanced tale of Clinton's foreign adventures. All the concern about Obama fumbling on the one yard line has been for nothing through four months of an intense primary. Meanwhile, Sen. Clinton is playing out my nightmare for the general.

Of course, I'm sure that Armando, Jerome Armstrong, and Taylor Marsh weren't making that argument. Actually, come to think of it, I should check their archives...

Here's the Tuzla story from CBS:

Click "There's more..." for the rest of the post.


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Monday, March 24, 2008


Noted without further comment.


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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Chris Hughes, Co-founder of Facebook, at Drexel This Thursday

We have a very exciting last minute event going down here Drexel tomorrow as part of our big voter registration drive this week. Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, will be speaking in the quad tomorrow at 12:30 in the afternoon. He will be speaking about the impact of facebook as a political organizing tool and the importance of registering to vote.

Hughes is a surrogate for Sen. Barack Obama, but he will be speaking to all students regardless of their political preference, and the focus of his remarks won't be about the politics, but about using Facebook as a political organizing tool for young people. We will be registering anyone who needs to register, regardless of party or candidate preference, of course.

Also, there will be free soft pretzels and drinks for students in the quad. Stop by during lunch and be a part of this exciting event at Drexel.


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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ain't No Party Like a Scranton Party

Clinton supporters, I demand you defend this. Someone must be held accountable.

(via Matt)


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Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Tale of Two Districts, Parties

Last night Democrat Bill Foster won a special election to fill the vacated congressional seat of the Republican former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. This election is sending shockwaves through the GOP leadership, because IL-14 is a solidly Republican district.

Losing the congressional seat of the former speaker to a scientist-turned-politician despite the cash strapped NRCC spending over a million dollars, and John McCain raising money and campaigning for the Republican candidate, is a bad sign. Furthermore, it was a proxy battle between Obama and McCain. Both presidential candidates went to the district to campaign for the candidates of their party, and apparently Obama helped more.

This election reminded me of something from years ago, however. Back in those dark days immediately after Bush's reelection, a certain longtime member of the Drexel College Republicans wrote a typically silly and inflammatory op-ed in The Triangle. He compared the respective congressional districts of then Democratic minority leader Pelosi and Republican Speaker of the House Hastert. The thesis was predictably obtuse; Republicans represent those "American heartland values" while Democrats represent decadent homosexual liberals from the coasts. Republicans go to church, Democrats worship the Church of Satan (that's actually in the op-ed...), etc. You get the point.

We all remember the Brooksian red state/blue state dichotomies. This op-ed was entirely unremarkable in that regard, and at the time I didn't feel it needed a response (although the following week a rebuttal was published). So I forgot about it. Until last night.

Because last night was a fitting retort to the op-ed, and indeed to the recent years of corrupt Republican rule. For Mr. Mulgrew, Hastert was the picture of America while Pelosi was an out of touch aristocrat presiding over a party doomed to irrelevancy. My, what three short years can do!

Democrats won back both chambers of congress in 2006 of course. In the process we learned just how morally corrupt the Republicans were, including that Dennis Hastert had covered up Republican congressman Mark Foley's attempted child molestation. We also learned how Hastert, as Speaker, used a federal earmark to build a highway through property he owned in IL, earning him a hefty $1.5 million profit at taxpayers expense.

Of course, we could go on, but you get the point. We are now at a place where Republican politicians and their morally bankrupt agenda are so toxic that they can't even win the vacated seat of their former speaker in a solidly "red" district.

Bill Foster is an accomplished scientist, having worked at Fermilab and on the IMB proton-decay-detector (which also helped confirm the existence of the neutrino). He is a the perfect example of the Democratic support for science and rational governence, contrasted with Republican faith-based-corruption. Congratulations to him for his victory, and to Senator Obama for his victory in the proxy fight with Mccain.

The only way I could possibly end this post is by quoting, in it's entirety, the final paragraph from Mr. Mulgrew's op-ed three years ago.
Keep up the good work, Dems! You're only making our job easier. In '06, there are more Democratic senators running for re-election in states Bush won than Republican senators running in states Bush Lost. Good-Luck!"

Click "There's more..." for the rest of the post.


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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Big Meeting this Sunday

Sunday March 9th, at 5pm in Macalister 2020 we're having a big organizing meeting, and it's very important that you attend and bring a friend.

As you all know, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia especially are now ground zero for the Presidential election, and we have official staffers from the Obama campaign coming to the meeting to help the Obama committee organize.

If you are partial to Sen. Clinton, there will be stuff for you too, so it's worth coming. For the Obama fans though, we're going to have a super secret celebrity to help get you pumped up and show us how to organize the campus.

Once again that's 5pm March 9th, Macalister 2020. It's above the bookstore.


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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Four More Years...

So Bush endorsed McCain today. Hardly a surprise of course, but he made it offcial. John McCain has now spent 7 full years saying "I disagreed with George Bush then, but he's doing the right thing now."

McCain made his bed years ago when he decided to support the Bush presidency, and he should be called to account for that. It is the height of dishonesty for him or anyone else to pretend that McCain was not a key agent in pushing the Bush agenda. Even that rare instance when McCain stood up against the administration on torture last year has been pushed aside in favor of electoral politics. McCain skipped the vote for cloture on the bill to ban waterboarding a few weeks ago, and the bill was successfully blocked by the pro-torture/anti-American Republicans. Cloture failed by one vote.

John McCain: Like Bush, but older.


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Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Triangle > The Daily Texan

I read a pretty disgusting thing over at Matt Yglesias's blog today; "The Daily Texan," student newspaper for the University of Texas at Austin, endorsed Sen. Clinton for President. That's fine of course, and there are many fine reasons to support Sen. Clinton, but the Daily Texan apparently weren't aware or didn't care about them. Instead, they chose the petty reason that the Obama campaign hadn't helped them get tickets to the recent Democratic debate there, while the Clinton campaign had. I'm not making that up, read it yourself.
We've taken into account our communication with each campaign as an indication of how each candidate's government would function. Upon finding out the debate would not be open to students, Obama's campaign told us there was nothing they could do to get more students into the debate, whereas the Clinton camp was sympathetic in offering assistance. This makes us wonder how far Obama would go for us as president.
First of all, the debate wasn't open to students? That's one reason why Drexel is apparently superior to UT at Austin. At Drexel's debate 100 student tickets were raffled off, open to any interested student or member of the Drexel community. On top of that, 250 student volunteers got to work behind the scenes at the debate, and some of them also got to see it. Drexel's administration worked very hard to use the debate as a learning experience for the students, and not just as a big media event where tickets only went to big donors.

The bigger issue here, however, is the petty and embarrassing rationale for the endorsement. The students at the Daily Texan work very hard no doubt, but the editors apparently forgot that the power of their jobs entails a responsibility to their readers. Trying to leverage their positions into debate tickets, and then writing an endorsement on the basis of that manuevering seems to me a serious breach of trust between their readers and them.

This other part of their endorsment also struck me as petty and foolish.
But during Thursday's debate, Obama made a major gaffe in incorrectly stating that he had received endorsements from every major newspaper in Texas. We may not be considered a "major" paper to many, but we represent a crucial constituency of close to 50,000 young and enthusiastic voters, and we've been scrutinizing every move of the candidates leading up to today's endorsement. Sure, Obama took many under his spell when he graced our city with his presence early in his campaign, but we think he prematurely considered his work in Austin done.
The Daily Texan may have a large student readership, but let's be clear; newspapers don't represent anyone, they just reach people. The Daily Texan does not speak for students at UT at Austin. Those students did not join a club or sign a paper authorizing the Daily Texan to speak for them. The editors would be advised to recognize their appropriate and legitimate role, and not claim to speak for whom they do not.

Now, I am personally supporting Sen. Obama in this primary, but I want to emphasize that my displeasure does not stem from the endorsment, but the petty and immature reasons behind it. It they had endorsed Sen. Obama for in such a manner I would have reacted similarly, and listed reasons why I support Sen. Obama. So in that spirit I would like to list a few reasons that one might support Sen. Clinton.
  1. She is indisputably comfortable with the complexities of her policy proposals. Sen. Obama is clearly also a bright man with a firm grasp of the details, but Sen. Clinton is a wonk at heart.
  2. Sen. Clinton was a workhorse, not a showhorse in the senate. Neither Sen. Obama nor Sen. Clinton had the opportunity to spend much time in a Democratically controlled senate before the campaigns began, so neither had a real chance of enacting major legislation. However, Sen. Clinton is by all accounts a deft legislator (although Obama was quite accomplished in the Illonois statehouse).
  3. Sen. Clinton has withstood the Republican attack machine. Voting for Clinton would be a move to deny the right-wing smear machine a scalp.
  4. Her close personal experience in the White House was probably functionally equivalent to being Vice President for 8 years.
Of course, I have chosen to support Sen. Obama for a number of reasons, of both policy and politics, but that is neither here nor there. My point here is that the Daily Texan wrote an embarrassingly immature endorsement of Sen. Clinton, and I have confidence that Drexel's student paper, The Triangle, wouldn't make such a silly move.

Newspaper endorsements can only ever influence people if the editors describe the reasons behind their endorsement, and someone finds those reasons compelling. No one in their right mind would decide to support a presidential candidate simply because their student paper has chosen to. If anything, this endorsement will lead members of the University of Texas at Austin community to take the editorial positions of the Daily Texan less seriously, not more.

Click "There's more..." for the rest of my pro-Triangle/anti-Daily Texan rant.


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Clinton Campaign Opportunity

Hey Hillary supporters, check out the following internship opportunity...

Hillary Clinton's Pennsylvania Campaign is looking for interns for this spring, with positions starting immediately. The Pennsylvania Primary is less than 2 months away, and we need YOUR help to elect Hillary President. The Hillary Clinton for President internship program provides an excellent opportunity for students to learn and serve through first-hand participation in the election process. The program is intended to provide knowledge, skills and experiences that each intern can apply to future challenges and professional pursuits.

To start, please attend a campaign meeting this Sunday, March 2nd, at 2pm at 520 N. Delaware Avenue (2nd Floor) in Philadelphia, 19123. [2 blocks away from the Subway]. If you cant make it on Sunday, please email Patrick at, subject "Philly Internship" with the times you are available to intern.

Patrick Bauer
Pennsylvania for Hillary
516-448-2565 (cell)