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Tags: Bill Richardson

Big Crowds at Iowa Campaign Events Mean . . . Nothing, Really.



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Don’t put too much stock into crowd size as an indicator of momentum in Iowa. Looking back four years, we find . . .

December 31, 2007:

[John] Edwards, his wife, Elizabeth, and their three kids race around Iowa in a frenzied final campaign swing that takes him to many of the 99 counties of the state, he is drawing big crowds in spots like the Giggling Goat in Boone.

John Edwards’ finish: 29.7 percent of the vote, second place, barely ahead of Hillary, 8 points behind Barack Obama.

January 3, 2008:

Looking tired, but excited, Governor Bill Richardson was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd in Iowa City, capping off one more busy day in a busy year of campaigning.

Bill Richardson’s finish: 2.1 percent of the vote, fourth place. He dropped out January 10.

January 3, 2008:

At times uncharacteristically enthusiastic, [Fred] Thompson spoke optimistically about his positive momentum in the state. “The crowds have been better and better and better, and enthusiasm is building and building and building,” he told a crowd of about 200 at a hotel in West Des Moines. “We’re going to have a wonderful day and a wonderful night.”

Fred Thompson’s finish: 13.4 percent of the vote, third place.

It’s Iowa, the final days and hours before the caucus. Of course people will show up to see the candidate. That doesn’t mean that they’ll support that candidate in the caucuses!

Tags: Bill Richardson , Fred Thompson , John Edwards

Bill Richardson for SecState: Because Foggy Bottom Needs More Gaffes



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Oy. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State?

The investigation into a pay-for-play allegation in New Mexico that derailed Richardson’s bid to be Commerce Secretary is resolved with no indictments. (Although the AP account quotes an unnamed source familiar with the investigation ominously declaring, “It was killed in Washington.”)

A brief refresher on the man who might be our next Secretary of State:

Even before getting into the race, there were reports that Al Gore and John Kerry passed on him as a running mate because of unspecified skeletons in his closet. When his lieutenant governor, Diane Denish, told a New Mexico newspaper that she avoids sitting or standing next to Richardson because he’s a little too hands-on, it hinted to what those skeletons might be.

Once on the campaign trail, Richardson’s campaign seemed to pratfall when it wasn’t immobile. In the first debate, he said his model Supreme Court justice was Byron “Whizzer” White, who dissented from Roe v.Wade. When he was later confronted with that, he erroneously insisted that White served before that decision. He also confirmed to moderator Brian Williams that he held off on calling for the resignation of attorney general Alberto Gonzales “because he’s Hispanic.”

He referred to Al Sharpton as “the governor.”

In the early debates, he sweated like a man who ate one too many chili dogs. In his Meet the Press interview, Tim Russert not only caught him in a slew of contradictory policy statements, but by the end Richardson was insisting that he was a fan of both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, a straddle that made John Kerry look like an icon of consistency.

Finally, in the “gay debate,” when asked by lesbian rock star Melissa Etheridge, “Do you think homosexuality is a choice, or is it biological?” Richardson declared, “It’s a choice,” — an answer so unpopular with the gay and lesbian audience that he probably would have been better off belching the Star-Spangled Banner.

Afterwards, Richardson issued a statement declaring “Let me be clear — I do not believe that sexual orientation or gender identity happen by choice,” insisting he did not mean to say the exact opposite a few hours before.

Then again, he did persuade Marvel Studios to film their upcoming “The Avengers” in New Mexico.

Look at the bright side: The North Koreans apparently think he’s hilarious:

“Bill has a way of defusing tension with an offbeat joke,” says his wife Barbara. For instance, at one point during discussions with the dour North Koreans over Hunziker’s release, Richardson asked matter-of-factly, “Well, does he still have his fingernails?” The North Korean negotiators sat stunned for a second, then broke out laughing.

Torturing an American citizen unjustly imprisoned! Ha-ha!

Tags: Bill Richardson

History Is Calling, but the Phone Keeps Ringing at 3 a.m.



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In recent years, our friends on the left would sometimes cite George W. Bush’s statements on the campaign trail in 2000 that he intended to enact a “humble” foreign policy and ask, with a scoff, “What happened?” Of course, 9/11 happened, and suddenly anything resembling humility wasn’t up to the task of confronting a band of killers and their Taliban protectors. No matter how much President Bush may have wanted to devote his presidency to an agenda of tax cuts, not leaving children behind, and reforming Social Security, the historical moment demanded a war president who was willing to tear through the unsavory corners of the Middle East and rattle every cage from Tripoli to Lahore.

Presidents don’t always get to pick what their presidencies are ultimately about. A commander-in-chief takes the oath, and then the world throws challenges at him that were barely on the radar screen during the campaign.

It had been a while since I had read John Ellis’s blog – update more frequently, man! – but I think he’s hit on something about how what Obama wants to do, and what the country desperately needs at this moment, are not even distant cousins:

It’s not a staff issue that is causing the President’s political deflation. And it’s not a communications issue (as in: if only the Obama Administration communicated their ideas better, everything would be okay). It’s not even a political issue; the GOP doesn’t have a national act to speak of and Democrats continue to hold solid majorities in both Houses of Congress. The Obama Administration’s problem is narrative.

Specifically, the Grand Narrative of our time is The Reckoning and the Restructuring. The Reckoning is all this debt coming home to roost. The Restructuring is what we’re going to do about it.

The Reckoning is plain for all to see. Consumers are broke, companies are reeling under massive debt loads, and the US government is underwater as never before. Compounding these problems is an avalanche of unfunded liabilities that will soon come due. To cite just one small example, for the first time in its history, Social Security will run cash negative this year. The cost of Medicare is set to explode as baby boomers retire. You know all this. There’s no point repeating all the scary numbers.

The Reckoning requires restructuring. Restructuring is not avoidable, it is inevitable. The sooner we do it, the less painful it will be for all concerned. Specifically, we must decide how to make our pension system (Social Security) and our current national health care system (Medicare and Medicaid) sustainable. We must restructure our debt. We must get 15% more performance out of our military on 15% less budget. We must get 25% more performance out of all other government services on 25% less expenditure.

In addition, we need to think about what taxes to raise, whether we sell land, whether we acquire nation-states or territories (Africa states? Siberian land?), whether we merge with Canada to form a more robust (and energy independent) mega-nation. These are the big issues of US restructuring. And they are all on the table.

Except they are not. The Obama Administration keeps talking at us like its 1998 and we can have a “green” jobs program and national health insurance and “cap and trade” legislation and $250 million criminal proceedings for homicidal Islamic psychopaths in downtown Manhattan. We don’t have $250 million for the KSM trial in Manhattan. Everybody knows that except, apparently, the Obama Administration.

Bingo. Almost every industry and sector of society has been going through wrenching changes in the past two years, and sometimes for quite a few years before that:  print media, the television networks, the auto industry, the music industry, publishing, both residential and commercial real estate, the energy sector, etc. And yet there’s one area where it’s been business as usual, or perhaps even a time of growth and expansion. As Rich notes, “It used to be said that the Great Depression wasn’t so bad, if you had a job. The Great Recession has practically been a boom, if you have a government job.”

It’s not sustainable. Of course, as I said earlier this month, “unsustainable is the new normal.” We’re having a reckoning, but President Obama isn’t all that interested in it; he wants to believe that a full, thriving economic recovery, along with rejuvenated tax revenues, is just around the corner.

I’m willing to bet that Walter Russell Mead’s grocery list is full of fascinating historical allusions, but he’s hit some similar notes in a few lengthy posts about what he calls “the blue beast” – a social model that defined our country for much of the last century, based upon large, stable entities – unionized oligarchies, big corporations, an ever-growing civil service, lifetime employment, etc. But that era has come to an end, and much of our political debate in the past decades is about trying to artificially extend the lifespan of the blue system by taking from the non-blue parts, or moving on to some other way of doing things:

Democratic policy is increasingly limited to one goal: feeding the blue beast. The great public-service providing institutions of our society – schools, universities, the health system, and above all government at municipal, state and federal levels – are built blue and think blue. The Democratic wing of the Democratic Party thinks its job is to make them bigger and keep them blue. Bringing the long green to Big Blue: that’s what it’s all about.

Three problems: we can’t afford it, people know that, and we desperately need the things that Big Blue can’t give us.

Blue institutions aren’t productive enough and efficient enough to provide the services we need. There’s a hard and bitter truth here: workers in these sectors are going to have to accept lower wages and less security going forward – and they will have to produce more than they do now. Much more. This sounds draconian and harsh, but with a relative handful of exceptions everybody else in the United States has been facing this reality for the last generation.

This has turned into a massive political problem for Democrats because more and more people are waking up to the fact that this just doesn’t work. We don’t have the money to keep throwing more and more of it into dysfunctional public schools, overpriced state colleges and government at all levels. In the competitive world we all live in now, our society has no choice but to learn how to do these things much more cheaply. Otherwise the blue sector will drag the whole country down with it. This is part of what drives the Tea Parties: there’s a sense out there that the time for careful, limited reform is past. We need a crowbar, not a scalpel, to fix the blue beast.

Yet Democrats are right about one very important thing. We actually do need (most of) the services that the blue beast seeks to provide. We really do need good government at all three levels. We really do need more and better education. We need better health care and better access to it. The Tea Party movement is more about tearing down the blue beast than about building something that can take its place and until and unless Republicans figure this out the country will shift unhappily between two political parties that it dislikes and mistrusts.

I understand public skepticism about whether Republicans will come up with new, innovative solutions. But the Democratic party can’t rethink its dedication to the Blue Beast; it is the Blue Beast, and if it’s going to shrink replace and reform all the institutions that fuel it, it might as well cease to exist.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Look Beyond the Approval Ratings on the Terror Fight



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We keep hearing about how much the Obama administration likes it when Dick Cheney makes a high-profile interview criticizing the administration on how they’re fighting the war on terror. They think that because Obama is more popular than Cheney, that fight is on good terms for them. Yesterday I heard Jane Mayer and Peter Beinart repeating this argument on This Week.

Except the problem is that the public generally prefers Cheney’s positions on these issues. Quinnipiac:

How likely do you think it is that in the near future there will be a terrorist attack in the United States causing large numbers of lives to be lost?
78% Very/Somewhat, 20% Not very/Not at all

When it comes to dealing with people suspected of involvement in terrorist attacks against the United States, which would you prefer: trying them in open criminal court with a jury and a civilian judge or trying them in a closed military court with a military judge?
34% Criminal court, 59% Military court

Should president Obama close the Guantanamo Bay prison?
28% Yes, 60% No

What concerns you more about the government’s anti-terrorism policies – that they have gone too far in restricting the average person’s civil liberties or that they have not gone far enough to adequately protect the country?
25% Gone too far, 63% Not gone far enough

In order to prevent terrorism, should there be greater use of body scanners at airports – which allows screeners to scan a person’s body through their clothing?
84% Yes, 13% No

And Rasmussen:

Should the trials of suspected terrorists linked to 9/11 be held at Guantanamo Bay?

  • Yes 44%
  • No 33%

Should the trials of suspected terrorists linked to 9/11 be held in the continental United States?

  • Yes 49%
  • No 37%

While they are being tried, should suspected terrorists be given all the rights of U.S. citizens?

  • Yes 16%
  • No 74%

A proposal has been made that would require all Guantanamo Bay prisoners to be tried in a military tribunal. Do you favor or oppose this proposal?

  • Favor 67%
  • Oppose 15%

Survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted January 30-31, 2010. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.

Sometimes it seems like this administration never moved past Election Day, and that in their minds, it’s perpetually November 2008. Public attitudes shift, and opinions change. The public may not like Dick Cheney as much as Obama, but that doesn’t mean they prefer the Obama stance on every issue – or, these days, many issues.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

We Can No Longer Hide What We Decline to Believe



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Many of you have subscribed, but many of you have not, and that’s not acceptable. Sign up, because if I have to get up early to write it, you ought to get up at your usual hour to read it!

From today’s version:

We Can No Longer Hide What We Decline to Believe

The whole global warming brouhaha – which these days seems to be brewing plenty of ha-ha – is a bit outside my usual beat, best left to the Planet Gore guys. Beyond that, I’m a bit of a squish on it; even if I don’t see “The Day After Tomorrow” as a documentary, I figure when Chinese factories churn out enough crap that you can’t see the sky in a bunch of their cities, it can’t be good for anybody. Having said that, I always figured that made the global warming issue much more complicated than our friends on the left suggested; unless we’re willing to get hundreds of millions of Chinese to stop industrializing, using energy, or doing anything to climb out of poverty, then the ChiComs will always generate more carbon than we do and make any carbon sacrifice on our part moot. In other words, until the greens start calling for military strikes on China’s industrial base, I figured most of this was posturing.

And now, apparently, it may be built on a giant pile of unreliable and unverifiable data: “The academic at the centre of the ‘Climategate’ affair, whose raw data is crucial to the theory of climate change, has admitted that he has trouble ‘keeping track’ of the information. Colleagues say that the reason Professor Phil Jones has refused Freedom of Information requests is that he may have actually lost the relevant papers… Professor Jones also conceded the possibility that the world was warmer in medieval times than now – suggesting global warming may not be a man-made phenomenon. And he said that for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming.”

Ed Morrissey: “If the massive warming seen in Europe occurred around the world, then what we have seen in the 20th century would be almost certainly a moderate, natural, cyclical warming coming out of a cold trough.  It would also call into question what exactly a good temperature would be for the Earth.  After all, even if the second graph only applied to the northern hemisphere, the increased temperatures didn’t cause the end of life on the planet; indeed, food became more plentiful, and the melting of the polar-region ice didn’t create massive catastrophes.  Further underscoring this interpretation are the cooling cycles seen in the mid-century and last fifteen years or so, especially since the 1940s saw a huge increase in carbon emissions due to wartime production. Jones’ late admissions demonstrate that there is nothing “settled” about AGW, and that the process and the data are too murky for any declarations of certainty.”

Anne Althouse: “To talk about “sceptics” as the ones who will “seize” upon “evidence” of flaws is unwittingly to make global warming into a matter of religion and not science. It’s not the skeptics who look bad. “Seize” sounds willful, but science should motivate us to grab at evidence. It’s the nonskeptics who look bad. It’s not science to be a true believer who wants to ignore new evidence. It’s not science to support a man who has the job of being a scientist but doesn’t adhere to the methods of science.”

Confederate Yankee: “I have some very simple questions: When will politicians, businessmen, and scientists active in anthropogenic climate change fraud be brought up on racketeering charges and imprisoned for attempting to steal siphon off trillions of dollars in what would have been the most expensive criminal conspiracy in human history?Will any nation admit that the “solutions” being offered by this fraud, which would have radically damaged the economies of almost the entire developed world, constitutes treason?

Mark Steyn: “Say it loud, he’s unsettled and proud. Hide-the-decliner Phil Jones is embracing his inner decline.”

Blue Crab Boulevard: “Jones continues to insist that global warming is happening and is man made. But he also admits he’s lost all the data. So we’ll have to take it on faith. No thanks. The entire theory of anthropogenic global warming is built off data that is conveniently lost. We’re supposed to just believe even though there has been no actual warming in 15 years. We’re supposed to just submit to radical social engineering experiments based on our trust in scientists who have been actively lying to us for the past decade and a half. No thanks.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

It’s Time to Start Quoting Dennis Cordoza



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The Los Angeles Times spotlights congressional Democrats who are distancing themselves from President Obama . . . now that party leaders have given them permission to do so:

Far from discouraging an independent stance, the White House political operation and the Democratic congressional leadership are tacitly putting out word that the strategy may be a useful one, according to party campaign operatives.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in an interview: “Our candidates need to reflect the values and priorities of their districts. And that means on some issues they’ll support the Obama administration’s position, and on some issues they’ll oppose it.”

Echoing Sister Toldjah, if you need permission to express independent views, you’re not really an independent.

Still, when a California Democrat like Dennis Cardoza talks about high unemployment and home foreclosures, and declares, “the Obama administration has failed miserably in trying to solve the problem” . . . well, we ought to take a moment to say, “Amen, Congressman.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Yes, This Was Time Well Spent



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Apparently Glenn Greenwald of Salon – you know him for his legendarily even-tempered demeanor and the consistently soft-spoken, understated tone of his writing – is about to take issue with me.

In 2008, President Obama said, while discussing the Iranians and other hostile nations, “They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us, and yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying, ‘We’re going to wipe you off the planet.’”

I wrote in response:

Geographic size and population size are not the first measure of whether a nation or organization is dangerous . . . In an era of asymmetrical warfare, a group’s budget and spending do not necessarily reflect the scope or danger of the threat. The 9/11 Commission report stated the attacks cost somewhere between $400,000 and $500,000 to execute, plus the cost of training the 19 hijackers in Afghanistan; the short-term costs alone to the U.S. from the attacks are estimated at $27.2 billion.

Now, Newt Gingrich has told NRO:

The Soviet Union was vastly bigger and more dangerous than Iran. If we could adopt non-violent strategies of coercion to break the Soviet empire, we should be able to help the millions of dissidents in Iran who want to replace the dictatorship.

Ah-ha! a Greenwald reader is expressing with glee. Now Gingrich is making size comparisons with Soviet Union! Why won’t they denounce him?

I stick by what I said; the Soviet Union then and Iran now are different threats, and the size of a country is a minor factor in assessing how dangerous a country is. What a nation is inclined or willing to do with their resources is a bigger factor. India has a billion people and an army of about 1.4 million, but we’re not too worried about a threat from the Indian military. And again, you don’t need large forces to do enormous damage if you have the will.

Iran’s leaders have plenty of will: they’re willing to shoot women dead in the streets, sponsor Hamas, Hezbollah, and other groups, etc. They may not have the arsenal of the Soviets, but that doesn’t mean they don’t represent “a serious threat.” When you consider Ahmadinejad’s beliefs about the 12th Imam, his comments about green auras and world leaders not blinking for an hour, and the fact that during the Iran-Iraq War, the Iranian mullahs were willing to use children to clear minefields, we see a threat much less inclined to be deterred by mutual assured destruction.

So Gingrich’s off-the-cuff “size” reference was a bit off-base, but his comments were overall smart (and arguably obvious). If we don’t want a war with the Iranians, we need a way to nudge that regime towards the dustbin of history, since negotiations are going nowhere. (Greenwald assures me that “negotiations — including the most successful ones — are often protracted and involve stagnation, threats, and pretenses of walking away – that’s hardly unusual and hardly a sign that they have failed.” So it’s not that the Iranian mullahs have no intention of ever giving up their nuclear program; they’re just stalling.)

By the way, two months after Obama’s “tiny” statement, a prominent Democratic foreign policy thinker rebuked that view by declaring that ”a nuclear Iran would pose a grave threat.”

That prominent Democratic foreign policy thinker . . . was Barack Obama.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

He’s a Good Man, Let’s Give Him the Election Cycle Off



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The filing deadline for federal candidates in Indiana is Tuesday. At this point, the only incumbent who will not face any major-party opposition is . . . Rep. Mike Pence.

Ironically, Pence’s Muncie-centered district is not the most Republican-leaning one in the state, at least according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index. The districts of Reps. Mark Souder, Steve Buyer, and Dan Burton are more heavily Republican.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Maybe They All Went to Work at the White House



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The Center for Responsive Politics analysis reveals:

In all, federal lobbyists’ clients spent more than $3.47 billion last year, often driven to Washington, D.C.’s power centers and halls of influence by political issues central to the age: health care reform, financial reform, energy policy. That figure represents a more than 5 percent increase over $3.3 billion worth of federal lobbying recorded in 2008, the previous all-time annual high for lobbying expenditures.

But this is what jumped out at me:

In a seemingly counterintuitive development, the number of companies or entities that reported lobbying the federal government in 2009 (15,712) increased slightly from the year before (15,049). But the number of actual, registered federal lobbyists decreased, falling to 13,742 in 2009 from 14,442 in 2008.

Potential reasons for this phenomenon include some lobbyists effectively “deregistering” as lobbyists while still continuing to work in the business of political influence.

Man, this administration can’t even create or save jobs for lobbyists.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

A Brief Obama Bravo, But I Hope We’re Ready for the Dali Fallout



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While its earlier snubbing of the Dalai Lama still rankles, the Obama administration deserves some credit for finally scheduling a meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader for February 18. The Chinese government is displeased; hopefully the Obama camp will not fold.

Nonetheless, because of the U.S. government debt the Chinese hold, there is a nagging sense that we’re in a weak position on this, and that sooner or later they’ll have enough economic leverage to get veto power over the president’s meeting schedule. Considering how much the Chinese love to fight in cyberworld — ask Google — I hope the Cyber Czar is up and running at full speed, since it took the better part of a year to fill the position.

Particularly since there’s word that “Agent Butterstick” has returned to be debriefed . . .

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Obama’s Comfort With Crowds, and Difficulty Without Them



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When I mention Obama’s presidential campaign, what image comes to your mind? Okay, you’re probably a conservative bunch, so maybe you think of Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, hope, change, Joe Biden urging a man in a wheelchair to stand up, etc.

But my guess is a lot of folks across the political spectrum would think of Obama’s speeches, most often delivered in packed arenas and large public parks and the convention speech at Invesco Field. In other words, the image most commonly associated with Obama was he, at the center of the stage, all eyes and cameras on him, surrounded by a massive crowd with everyone chanting, “yes, we can” and such.

It was not him talking to people one-on-one, not the diner handshakes or the pancake-flipping breakfast that ate Gary Bauer or trudging through snow shaking hands on a Des Moines street. This is not to say Obama didn’t do these sorts of events, just that these smaller, quieter moments were not the ones that were decisive or central to Obama and his effort.

In fact, Obama’s worst moments on the campaign trail tended to be when he actually talked to voters individually or in small groups: telling Joe the Plumber he wanted to spread the wealth around, telling San Francisco donors why small town folks clung bitterly to guns and religion, his lament of “why can’t I eat my waffle?” at a Scranton diner. It’s probably why the “Celebrity” ad worked for a while; as much as the public admires celebrities, they’re seen as apart and different; there’s always that velvet rope separating the elevated and special folk from us commoners. Obama very clearly didn’t campaign as your next-door-neighbor; he campaigned as a secular messiah, the man declared “The One” by no less a cultural authority than Oprah.

Very few of the most memorable moments from Obama’s successful campaign involve him and another person, one-on-one or in a small group; generally it was he, alone, standing before the masses and keeping them enthralled.

I talked about this a bit in the Morning Jolt; the 1992 or 1996-era Bill Clinton could have won over Joe the Plumber, I suspect, or at least have left him laughing. Obama is one of those strange personalities more comfortable, and more charismatic, on a stage with thousands of people watching him than with someone right in front of him.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Obama, the Anti-Glamour President?



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I’ve been chewing over this notion from Ed Carson at Investor’s Business Daily, that the Obama of 2010 has become the inverse of what he was in 2008; instead of everyone believing that he agrees with them, many folks now suspect he’s never agreed with them:

Now in 2010, Obama is well on his way to becoming the anti-glamour president. Americans from across the political spectrum are assuming the worst, that he doesn’t share their values or beliefs — even when it’s his stated position.

Republicans and, increasingly independents, think Obama is a left-wing radical bent on a vastly expanding government and bankrupting the country in the process. Many on his left flank think he’s a coward, a corporate stooge, or both.

From the tea party-GOP perspective, Obama has passed a $1 trillion pork-laded stimulus that hasn’t worked, seized GM and tried to nationalize health care while also passing the growing-killing agenda of greens and unions – all in a highly partisan fashion.

From the left’s vantage point, Obama lacks principles – or is unwilling to fight for them. They see Wall Street bailouts and sleazy deals with drugmakers and other medical industries. Cap and trade is going nowhere; nor is Big Labor’s card check bill. Unions also are smarting from the Senate’s Tuesday rejection of ally Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. Oh, and Gitmo is still open and Obama has doubled down on Afghanistan.

This is what happens when a relative newcomer is elected to the presidency. Obama has few allies who know he’s been with them through thick and thin, and few groups in the political arena can say, “We’ve been in a lot of tough fights with Obama at our side; we know he’ll come through for us eventually.”

This, I think, ties a bit to what VDH says at The Corner:

After a single year of governance, there is now scarcely a single issue that Obama & Co. have not backtracked on, flip-flopped, redefined, or quietly dropped – mostly matters that were once demagogued to score political points. At some point – I think it was around mid-January – the public collectively shrugged and concluded of Obama, “I don’t trust anything that this guy says.” And when that happens in American politics, it is almost impossible to restore any modicum of credibility. All we are left with now is three more years of the president’s “Bush did it” mantra and a buffoonish Robert Gibbs, like some strutting carnival barker, showing off ink on his palm to a bored press corps.

Now CBS News offers the latest bit of bad polling news for Obama; he’s at 46 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval. His approval/disapproval splits are worse on the economy (42/52), health care (35/55), and the deficit (31/58).

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

A High-Caliber Candidate



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My kind of fundraiser:

A man from Cumberland County who’s running for Congress has his campaign locked-and-loaded.

Tim D’Annunzio – a former paratrooper – is a 30 year Raeford resident and conservative Republican running for the 8th District Congress seat currently held by Representative Larry Kissel.

Thursday night he held a fundraiser in Fayetteville at Jim’s Guns. For a $25 donation, participants shot off MP-5s and Uzis. They also got a Carolina bar-b-que plate and sweet tea.

“It was awesome, it was great,” Raeford resident Denyse Leake said.

More than 50 people showed up and registered for door prizes, which included an AR-15 machine gun.

“They are as fired up as they can be and as fired up as I’ve ever seen them,” D’Annunzio said.

The man he seeks to replace, Larry Kissell, was elected in 2008, and was rated a B- by the NRA. This is a nominally Republican North Carolina district (PVI: R+2).

UPDATE: Quite a few readers point out that AR-15s are not machine guns. But come on, man, you can’t expect the media to know about guns.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Apparently a Happy State Requires More Than Showgirls



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The state whose residents are most satisfied with their standard of living? North Dakota. Maybe Gov. John Hoeven deserves some credit for that.

The state whose residents are least satisfied? Nevada. You might blame that on Gov. Jim Gibbons, or maybe they’re just unhappy with their senior senator.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Obama Term May Never See Bush-Era Levels of Unemployment



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I hope the White House is being conservative in their economic forecasts, having paid the price for being too optimistic earlier. But if they’re accurate, they’re forecasting that this will be a one-term presidency:

The economy is projected to add jobs this year at a pace too sluggish to make much of a dent in unemployment, according to a new White House forecast that suggests President Obama’s advisers expect the jobless problem to be a fact of life throughout his term. The nation will add an average of 95,000 jobs a month this year, according to the forecast, a bit below the number that economists think needs to be generated just to keep up with population growth. The unemployment rate is projected to come down quite slowly after that, averaging 8.2 percent in 2012, when Obama will be up for reelection.

In the last full month of the Bush presidency, the national unemployment rate was 7.1 percent. That was the highest national rate during his eight years in office. Twice in 2003 it reached 6.5 percent.

“Blame Bush” is already tired; it will sound nonsensical if the unemployment rate is higher for the entirety of Obama’s presidency than it was at any point under Bush.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Here’s Hoping Patrick Kennedy Finds What He’s Looking For



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In a cycle with surprising retirements, maybe Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s will be the most unexpected. Yes, Republican John Loughlin had a shot of knocking him off, but even in a tough year for Democrats, it’s hard to see Patrick Kennedy’s chances at reelection being much less than 50-50. The last time Kennedy was held below 60 percent was 1994. In 2008, Obama carried his district nearly 2-to-1.

No, while it’s possible Patches is a fantastic actor, the tone of his video message is that he’s had enough. He was elected on his family name, and perhaps when you’re the son of Ted Kennedy, it’s impossible to live a life too far from the political arena. We’ve laughed at his numerous gaffes through much of his career, and he’s generated more than his share of embarrassments. Perhaps his problems with substance abuse were a reflection that he was in profession that just didn’t suit him.

Patrick Kennedy ran for reelection even with low approval ratings, while chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and even after bouts in rehab and a guilty plea to DUI. What’s different this year is that Kennedy’s father is not there to urge him to stick around for one more cycle.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

A New Fondness for Bill Clinton’s ‘Bubba Factor’



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From the last Jolt of the week, making its way to subscribers now:

Get Better, Bill

Bill Clinton’s hospitalization seems like a good moment to reflect on how he looks a little better as a president, ten years later and with the contrast of the Obama administration. My Clinton-opposition goes back to when FreeRepublic.com was getting breathless updates from the anonymous and mysterious “Quidam” – updates which I think didn’t pan out – and most of the former president’s misdeeds from that era still look pretty ugly.

But with time, we begin to appreciate things we didn’t realize at the moment, and what sticks out now is that Bill Clinton was in many ways a “Bubba,” and there was a certain love of engaging with Americans of all types that we haven’t seen in many leading Democrats since then. This is not to say he didn’t have arrogant moments, but it’s hard to imagine him explaining to a crowd of San Francisco liberals why small-town Americans are bitter and cling to guns and religion. Obama is adored by the elites and obviously can campaign in the worst neighborhoods of the most troubled cities, but he sticks out like a space alien in diners and truck stops. He (and to a certain extent Al Gore and John Kerry) can relate to deep-fried-Twinkie Americans only as their secular savior. And even if Bill Clinton’s “y’all gotta hear about my Astroturf in my pickup truck” routine was an act, Clinton still felt like he owed whoever was before him his best back-slapping extroverted charisma. (For a long time, it seemed like Hillary didn’t have this quality, until she started throwing down shots and beers in the Pennsylvania primary.)

There’s a lot of road still left to travel in Obama’s presidency, but in many ways it seems to be echoing Clinton’s early years – a health care reform effort that turns into a quagmire, scandals in cabinet appointees, erupting fissures in Congressional Democrats, a reunited and rejuvenated opposition from Republicans, and a general overestimation of an electoral mandate. The 1994 Republican Revolution slapped Clinton hard in the face, and he recovered by veering to the center (including his signature achievement, a fairly conservative version of welfare reform). Obama seems to be offering us a fascinating alternative scenario: 2010 might be similar to 1994, but this Democratic President may not veer to the center. It’s not his style, and not what he thinks he was elected to do.

Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin sees a lesson for the health care reform debate: “Best wishes for the former president’s recovery. Now, a timely reminder: Stents don’t grow on trees. They were not created, developed, marketed, or sold by government bureaucrats and lawmakers. One of the nation’s top stent manufacturers, Boston Scientific, has weighed in on the Democrats’ proposed massive taxes on medical device makers: ‘Boston Scientific Corp (BSX.N) warned on Tuesday that a proposed tax in the U.S. health care reform bill that cleared the Senate Finance Committee last week could have serious consequences for the company, including job losses.’ A teachable moment: Taxing innovation in the name of ‘health care reform’ has consequences.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Don’t Vote for Any Candidate Who Leaves Mud in Your Hand



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In Missouri, Rasmussen says Republican Blunt still leads Democrat Carnahan, 49–42. Yawn.

Meanwhile, this ad from “The Seventh District Republican Committee” suggests that under no circumstances should you shake hands with Carnahan or her friends.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Rubio ‘Stimulus Bomb’ Collects $860k in Ten Days



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Only Fools Applauded Specter’s Switch as a Smart Move



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Amusing: A big fan of Pat Toomey tells me that ”to a certain extent, I think Joe Sestak has an even more compelling story to tell in a primary against Arlen Specter than Toomey did in 2004 . . . He’s using the image of [Rick] Santorum and [President] Bush and Specter on stage together. In a Democratic primary, that’s a pretty effective.”

At the time it was hailed as a coup for the Obama administration and smart politics, but Arlen Specter’s flipping parties because he was afraid he would lose the GOP primary was pathetic, and in time it is going to be seen as one of the great political blunders of all time.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

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