Senator Creepy (R-TN)

During a piece on Hillary Clinton’s confirmation hearings, John Stewart zeros in on the creepiness that is Senator “Choo Choo” Corker. (It’s way at the end so in the meantime enjoy the skewering he gives “President” Kerry and “President” (H.) Clinton).

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From the New York Times:

Seizing on her Pennsylvania primary victory, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and her surrogates are renewing their efforts to have the disputed Michigan and Florida convention delegates seated and pushing the argument that she now leads in the total number of votes cast when the tallies in those two states are included.

This is striking in its audacity. Last time I checked, BOTH candidates agreed to abide by the rules of the DNC – neither Florida nor Michigan would seat their delegates. Does Hillary Clinton really want to win by cheating? Oh look! Yes she does:

“I’m very proud that, as of today, I have received more votes by the people who have voted than anybody else,” Mrs. Clinton said on Wednesday in a campaign appearance in Indianapolis. “It’s a very close race, but if you count — as I count — the 2.3 million people who voted in Michigan and Florida, then we are going to build on that.”

Psssssssssst. Senator Clinton. Barack Obama wasn’t on the ballot in Michigan.

At least the times correctly reported her lead in the Pennsylvania primary as 9 points instead of “double digits.”

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Senator Clinton is ready for anything…?

Senator Edwards fishin’ for a Jet Ski…?

Senator Obama putting the press and their distractions “on notice”…?

The best Colbert Report EVER.

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Fred Kaplan, writing in Slate, incisively addresses a fundamental question I ask repeatedly: What the hell does “victory” constitute in Iraq? He discovers that the goalposts have moved repeatedly throughout the war. Most frustratingly, he concludes that in their current position, the goalposts are so far down the field as to make winning essentially impossible.

Republican hawks, like the neoconservative establishment that swarms like vultures in the upper echelons of the Bush administration, probably are drooling at McCain’s hints at 100 years of occupation and permanent military bases. There is a strain of foreign policy enthusiasts that equates our military with our democracy overseas. This idea should concern all Americans.

But Bush’s war should especially concern Democrats. Frustrated anti-war types who think we’re not withdrawing quickly enough should get ready for an infinite Indian summer. Obama’s “judgment” about going into Iraq might have been courageous and sound, but his track record in the Senate reveals just how unstable the ground in “on the ground” really is. And though Clinton reassures us that, as president, she never would’ve taken us into Iraq, she did, in fact, with her vote, do just that. And she, too, with subsequent votes, has had difficulty backing away from the fire that her 9/11 patriotic pyromania caused her to help spark.

Because the Bush administration has been so undefining, so abstract, about its vision for what it is on the ground that would allow us to consider reducing and ultimately removing our military presence from Iraq, Democrats and paleoconservative Republicans are going to find the hawkish mouthpieces in as much of an uproar as the conservative judicial establishment was when Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. These are the same people who cry out in patriotic pain when our military spending doesn’t increase fast enough to overtake our WWII levels and pushes us to outspending every other country in the world on defense combined.

Ultimately, I think Obama’s vision of engaging the world and returning to non-cowboy diplomacy with a rich diplomatic establishment could be the most refreshing restart of the 21st century for America. Using the State Department rather than the Department of Defense for strengthening democracies around the world would return us to a position of advocating our values without doing it at gunpoint. And while he does this, he’s actually going to go after terrorists, which would be a nice change of pace. Remember Osama bin Laden?

But even Obama is going to have to stare down the post-Cheney neoconservative bullies with tremendous courage. The Rush Limbaughs and Bill Kristols and Sean Hannitys of the world have tasted blood, and like sharks, they love it and are ready to frenzy. For these men, violence and aggression are so much the means that one is left to wonder whether they are also the end.

For those who, like me, would prefer to dismantle the military industrial complex (without sacrificing our national security) to honor Eisenhower, I present a short listing of resources worth a look as we pursue alternative pathways to peace:

Unfortunately, the anti-war movement always seems to draw from anti-establishment crowds (ANSWER, anyone?) that have no interest in ever engaging with mainstream Americans. If you know of any other credible organizations that specifically advocate forcefully for a reduction in our defense spending, please let me know.

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After weeks of dropping hints but remaining coy and quiet, Bill Richardson makes a 3:00 a.m. phone call that is guaranteed not to make Hillary’s day.

Is it possible that superdelegates will now stop fretting that some Americans a few weeks ago thought Obama was Muslim and that this week think Obama goes to church but is black and rally around the best speechmaker and inspiring candidate their party has seen in a generation and let him get on with the business of becoming president?

Based on their apparent willingness to live squarely within the Republican frame of a culture of fear, I doubt it. Now watch for John Edwards’s 3:00 a.m. phone call…

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In a visit with the Grey Lady today, Bredesen offers a prescription for his party: a superdelegate primary.

It’s particularly interesting to see Bredesen calling for a common sense solution to help the Democratic Party considering his own comments on his party’s shallow bench in the upcoming race to challenge Lamar Alexander for U.S. Senate, which almost portended Hillary’s own remarks that McCain has made it more clear than Obama that he’s ready to serve as commander-in-chief. If his party mattered that much to him, Bredesen could’ve encouraged some young Democrat he’s impressed with to make a challenge to a statesman he admired. Or maybe he’s got his eye on a bigger prize…

Personally, while I don’t think Bredesen’s proposal is particularly problematic, I am not a fan of changing rules midstream after a lack of foresight has yielded an unexpected and unwelcome result. After all, does choosing a nominee sooner mean choosing a nominee better? Based on the closeness of the primary competition through and after Super Tuesday, I’d be surprised. I think any Democrats in either the Hillary or Obama camps who will unite behind any Democrat are going to do that regardless of whether they are asked to do so in August rather than June. And I think any undecideds are going to see a series of attacks and issues relating to both Hillary and Obama continue to be expressed by conservative mouthpieces well beyond the appearance of a clear nominee.

Ultimately, though, I think Democrats frustrated with this year’s process, where many, many states had their primaries and caucuses under the magnifying glass, need to scrutinize their nominating process to avoid, say, treating Republican states better.

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Everyone has their tipping point – commonly referred to as “Tipping Point Syndrome” or “TPS.” TPS is the moment in time when, like Larry David, a person goes from feeling sorry for Hillary Clinton and thinking, “Oh Christ, let her win already…Who cares…It’s not worth it. There’s not that much difference between them. She can have it,” to realizing she WILL do anything to win and she IS killing the party. For him, it was the Red Phone ad. For me, it was her decision to laud John McCain’s national security cred over Barack Obama’s:

I think it’s imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander-in-chief threshold, and I believe that I’ve done that. Certainly, Sen. McCain has done that, and you’ll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy.

Yesterday I used “Senator Clinton” “Fear-mongering” and “Bitch” in the same sentence. I’m ashamed. Almost tearfully so. But I’m also pissed. And if you’re a Democrat, you should be too.

Besides being offensive, it’s a strategic short-sighted blunder. If she does win the nomination, all her pro-McCain rhetoric will come back and bite her in the butt. Would a Republican candidate do anything similar? Has John McCain? No and No.

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Jonathan Alter of Newsweek has an illuminating piece up about the thing that will matter more at the Democratic National Convention than media cycles or momentum: delegates–specifically pledged delegates. Alter’s conclusion, based on very generous delegate math (including Michigan and Florida), leaves Hillary as little better than a Huckabee with the benefit of proportional representation. Think not? He encourages you to do the math with Slate’s Delegate Calculator.

To me, this strengthens yet another aspect of my ticket prediction for the Democrats.

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Based on the media cycle, which has pummeled Obama like he hasn’t seen yet in this campaign, I think Hillary goes 3-1 tonight, taking Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island. Obama wins Vermont fairly handily. Obama might win the caucus in Texas, but that won’t allow him to spin it as a win considering how much he outspent Hillary competing in these contents. She will be bestowed with new momentum by the media.

She’ll probably go on to win Pennsylvania, and the superdelegates will tear the Democratic Party in two, no matter what happens.

Update: I almost forgot, there is one way to avoid chaos

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As 2007 drew to a close, I was making unverifiable assertions to friends and associates not to discount Mike Huckabee as a dark horse among the Republican presidential nominees. As 2008 opened, I declared on air (free bumper sticker to the careful listener who can help me figure out which podcast it’s in) that John McCain would be the Republican nominee. Now, I don’t have the public track record of a Sarcastro, and I haven’t been willing to put my money where my mouth is on Intrade, but I am willing to offer my predictions for the general election.

Because the Democrats use a presidential preference system where everybody’s opinion matters a little, and because they have two candidates who are tearing at the seams of a generational gap rather than at the policy soul of the party, Sens. Obama and Clinton will find themselves on the single ticket that Wolf Blitzer dangled in front of cable audiences everywhere during their first head-to-head match-up at a debate in California. Obama, after surprising in Texas, will be at the head of the ticket, but because the Clintons, like political cockroaches, cannot be finished off, the superdelegates will negotiate the equivalent of a plea bargain on Hillary’s behalf. You heard it here: Obama/Clinton ‘08. Dream ticket or nightmare? You make the call.

John McCain, per my earlier prediction, is already the presumptive nominee. Now he just needs a running mate. He’ll find it in Tim Pawlenty, the Republican governor of Minnesota. A recent Politico article makes the case nicely, but I’ve had my eye on this “rising star” ever since he received the blessing of Karl Rove a few years back. An old edition of The Note picks up on this tidbit:

“Eibensteiner said that he had invited Rove ‘a long time ago’ to appear at a state party organization fundraiser, but that Rove said he preferred to help Pawlenty’s campaign specifically.”

If you think anything Karl Rove says/does is a coincidence, think again. McCain/Pawlenty ‘08

Inaugural Address 2009
John McCain. Having deftly parried Obama’s Generation Next caché with Pawlenty’s disarming youthful conservatism, McCain stands aside as the Republican attack machine and dominance of terrestrial radio eviscerate Hillary and Clintonism, as well as Obama’s Kennedyesque (read: inexperienced) sheen. Get ready for four more wars!

Decision 2012
At age 75, John McCain decides not to seek a second term, and Tim Pawlenty becomes disturbingly difficult to dislodge from the White House. He’s like a Mike Huckabee who believes in evolution–charming and disarming and a natural political talent. Who said Karl Rove’s vision of a long-term Republican majority was over?

In Conclusion
There’s a chance that Obama is a defter political talent than anyone could’ve foreseen and actually beats back the Clinton machine in the superdelegate mythical backroom. If he does so, look for another woman (maybe Janet Napolitano or Kathleen Sebelius, both of whom come with the benefit of executive experience and important regional constituencies) on the ticket.

There’s also a chance that Clinton’s inevitability turns out to be as strong as McCain’s, and she ekes out an earned delegate win. In which case, you’ll find a Clinton/Obama ticket. The Clintons might stand ready to tear apart the party to get back in the White House (such as if Obama winds up with more earned delegates), but they’re not stupid enough to commit a political homicide/suicide by getting rid of Obama’s next generation political machine when they’re calling the shots.

Right now, the only way I see the Democrats losing in 2008 is if Hillary is on the ticket. And the only way I see Hillary not being on the ticket is if there’s a wholesale rejection of neo-Clintonism as not-self on the part of a cresting wave of superdelegates after the Mar. 4th or maybe May 6th states have had their say.

March madness, indeed.

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